This story was written for Anise in The DG Forum Fic Exchange - Summer 2017 by a member of our forum. For more details, please visit our page.

01. Vertigo

Ginny had never been the kind of person who felt disoriented when waking from a deep sleep. It didn't matter if she fell asleep in her childhood bedroom, her Hogwarts dormitory or a strange hotel room on a foreign continent; she always had perfect recall of where she was and why she was there.

Due to this innate ability that she'd developed over her twenty-eight years, it was a particularly disturbing thing for her to wake alone in an unfamiliar room. Ginny arched her back, arms gliding languidly above her head to stretch her already loose muscles.

She wiped some of the drool from her cheek with the back of her hand as she sat up, taking stock of her current circumstance. Strangely, she'd fallen asleep wearing a coat dress and a pair of ugly, sensible heels. Ignoring that she'd even managed to fall asleep in such attire, Ginny was confident she'd never owned such an outfit in her life. Well, she was pretty certain, at the least...

But… no, that wasn't right, was it? she wondered hazily as she stood and surveyed the bedroom, from the lemon-drop yellow comforter perfectly made up on the mattress, to the watercolour painting hanging above the bedhead from which a kitten peered down at her with an imperious gaze. The heavy weight of her petticoat swung about her legs, the loud rustle of the fabric a small nuisance in light of her confusion. The more she considered the garment, the more she doubted herself. It wasn't so unusual for her to have bought a top or skirt in the past, only to forget about the garment once it was pushed to the back of her dresser… perhaps she'd merely forgotten?

The sparse room held no obvious clues for her. Seeking answers, she idly puttered over to the window, throwing back the heavy drapes to let in some sunlight, and stopped short at the unfamiliar street outside.

White rose bushes lined the small front garden of the house she stood in. They were so perfectly pruned it was unnerving, and she absently wondered who cared for the plants. Ginny certainly wouldn't bother investing so much time in such beautiful flora, instead preferring the natural beauty of wild growth.

The houses across the street were a series of small cottages, nearly identical in appearance with thatched roofs and short, stone walls lining the perfectly cobbled footpaths. Godric's Hollow, the name of the township sprung to mind, and since it was the most concrete thought she'd had since waking, she felt she had no choice but to accept it as fact.

Her gaze wandered along the cobbled path - perfectly cleaned and weeded - and onto the quiet street... where a group of children darted about on miniature brooms, in plain sight of any passing muggles. No one had bothered to use so much as a disillusionment charm to conceal them from prying eyes.

She fumbled with the window latch then flung it open. "Oi!" she yelled down at them, then clapped her hand over mouth when they halted to a stop - and one child collided with another, sending the pair tumbling to the ground. "Merlin - are you alright? Where are your parents?"

The children blinked up at her, and the little girls who'd fallen at such peculiar angles hopped back onto their brooms, without so much as a scratch on their knobby little knees. "Our mothers are at home, Mrs Potter," one of the little girls responded.

She blinked at them. The name sounded incredibly odd, as though she'd pulled on a pair of boots that pinched too tightly at her toes whenever she took a step. It was so perplexing that she forgot why she'd interrupted them in the first place. Instead, she shut the window, and the children continued to play.

Ginny turned and stared at the watercolour kitten suspiciously as it nestled amongst a cluster of multicoloured flowers. It continued to clean its paws, looking washed-out against the bright pink-and-yellow bouquet as it did. In a small attempt to orient herself, she bit her lip while considering who could have possibly had such horrendous taste in decor. This was a bedroom, for Merlin's sake, and there was no way she could imagine herself getting in the mood with an infant cat peering down at her.

Nothing was making sense to her today. She sighed deeply, supposing that she might as well search the rest of the house for clues.

It turned out that she needn't look far - she emerged into a narrow hallway, clusters of framed pictures on the wall in front of her and continuing on every available wall. She examined each one, seeing a mixture of tiny black-and-white portraits of herself and another dark-haired boy. Ginny was not surprised to note that, as was apparently the theme of the day, she couldn't recall any of them being taken - and she'd especially never recalled having a fringe as a child.

Intrigued, she continued across the landing and over to the stairs that lead down to the ground floor. She stopped short when her foot hit the first step, her hand gripping the wooden banister tightly. The first picture was a family portrait featuring another, more familiar version of herself… if familiar was even the right word for it. Her face was just the same, but the change in her normally blunt, shoulder length hair was startling. The front of it sat high off her face, styled into perfect, broad curls, and it looked perfectly at home with the possessive hand placed firmly on her shoulder - though she didn't appear to look too upset about that. The hand belonged to Harry Potter, his hair more well-kept than she'd ever seen it, his eyes crinkling in a contented smile behind a pair of half-frame glasses. Most unusual of all, the lightning scar that had always marred his forehead was absent.

In front of them stood two young children - young teenagers, she guessed - and now that she saw the boy at an older age she could clearly see he was as strikingly similar in looks to Harry, as Harry himself had been to his father. The red-headed little girl she'd originally mistaken for herself still donned the same wholesome fringe and ponytail. Ginny had missed the colour of the girl's eyes, thanks to the colourless tones of the other images, but they were just the same shamrock green that Harry's were.

She lifted a hand, her fingertips hovering over the glass in front of the little girl, as a warm feeling bubbled in her chest. She'd always hoped to have a child of her own one day - a little person who was equal parts her and the man she loved, though for some reason those striking green eyes staring back at her were unsettling. She'd always imagined her own children with grey eyes, like the ocean in a storm…

But where on earth would they inherit that from? Her own eyes were a plain old brown.

Ginny stood there, leaning over to peer at the inhabitants of the photo while they waved back at her, her hands firmly on her hips as she teetered at the top of the staircase and tried to make sense of everything. The longer she stared at it, the surer she was that these unnervingly perfect clones of herself and Harry were their children - her children, she thought, aghast that she'd ever forgotten them. What were their names?

The rattle of a key in the front door startled her from her thoughts, and she immediately grabbed her wand - where it was tucked away in her pocket, thank Merlin. Ginny hunched down behind the banister so she could peer at the doorway and leave herself enough room to run back along the landing, if she had to, just as the door opened to reveal Harry Potter himself. His change in appearance in the portrait behind her was just as startling now she saw him in person, though she struggled to remember how he ordinarily looked… her memory of him was becoming fuzzy, just like everything else had since she'd woken.

He didn't appear to notice her as he came through the entryway and shrugged off his outer robes, hanging them up on the coat rack by the door. He whistled quietly as he dropped a briefcase on the floor next to the stand, then made his way through to the lounge room.

Ginny edged down the staircase cautiously, still hunching low so as not to draw attention to herself, wondering at his appearance. The more she watched him as he moved about the house and eventually settled on a plush armchair in the lounge room, the more normal he looked to her in his brown trousers, shirt and knitted vest. Even the pipe that he lit with his wand while he perused a nearby newspaper seemed distressingly ordinary.

She must have somehow given herself away, because Harry caught sight of her at the top of the staircase and smiled at her, pulling the pipe from his mouth and placing his copy of the Daily Prophet back on the side table next to him. "Are you feeling better, honey?"

She descended the stairs, sheepish as she placed one foot after another. "I'm still, uh, somewhat out of sorts."

"Oh dear," Harry replied, placing his pipe on a tray next to his chair and standing in order to meet her where she'd decided to hover near the front door. "Perhaps we should call the Healer?"

Ginny blanched at the thought of someone prodding about inside her head. "No - that's not necessary."

Harry peered at her over his glasses, as though considering her answer, then shrugged. "If you insist, dear."

He smiled at her as he returned to his chair, more or less ignoring her as he puffed at his pipe once more. She watched him a little longer, wondering if she was meant to be doing something. Nothing here seemed familiar to her apart from Harry, but even then his presence continued to strike a strange chord with her - or perhaps it was her presence here that felt so wrong.

Unwilling to disturb him for the answers she sought, she back away from him and towards the next room, intending to search for… well, she wasn't quite sure what, but she figured that she'd know once she found it.

The next room was, rather predictably, a large kitchen with a small table on the opposite side. Ginny's nose wrinkled as she examined the place, from the broad, checkerboard linoleum covering the floor, to the blush pink countertop and cupboards. She supposed she should breathe a sigh of relief that the windows weren't dressed in lace, though more of those damn kitten portraits hung on the far wall above the kitchen table. The small, rectangular table had a short vase on top of a doily in the centre and more of those infuriating, perfectly pruned roses. Four seats clustered around the table and a high chair sat at the far end-

Ginny froze. Wait - a high chair?

"Harry," she called, as she teetered in the doorway.

"Yes, pumpkin?"

Ginny scowled at the nickname, but pressed on. "Where… where is the baby?"

"Albus is in the nursery, of course," he told her, his voice amused. "Are you sure you're feeling alright?"

"I'm fine," Ginny replied, wondering where in high hell the nursery was. She'd been lumbering around the house all this time, screaming at random kids out of windows, when her baby had been nearby and left unattended. It was a wonder she hadn't heard the poor boy wailing his little heart out already.

Shaking her head, she came back through the living room and ran up the stairway, Harry not in the least perturbed by her erratic behaviour as she darted by. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been so politely ignored by a person.

After opening a few doors on the first floor, she eventually cracked one open and saw the delicate silhouette of a mobile in front of the opposite window. She shut the door behind her with a gentle click, taking great pains to tread gently as she approached the crib.

The baby looked just like Harry, even in sleep, but as she leaned over the edge of the cot to get a better look at him his eyes blinked open and his hands immediately lifted towards her. He made tiny little fists, signaling that he wanted to be near her, and she cautiously held a finger out him to clutch at.

"Grooo," the little boy gurgled at her, pleased to hold her hand, and she couldn't help her smile. Ginny reached down into the cot and lifted him into her arms, the solid weight of his little body grounding her for the first time since she'd woken up.

She eased backwards, towards a wooden rocking chair across the room, and began to rock the tiny miracle in her arms as she hummed to him softly. Making herself comfortable, Ginny tucked one leg up underneath her body, allowing the other leg to dangle towards the ground and gently set the chair moving in a steady rhythm.

"Hello, little boy," she said to him, her heart swelling with affection for the sweet little wizard burrowing into her neck. She pressed her nose to the top of his head, seeking to be closer with him, and took a deep breath. He smelt wonderful - that beautiful, unique scent of a newborn, and the thought that she'd been missing it for so long made her want to weep. "Hello, little Albus. Mum's here."

"Ginny, dear!" Harry called to her some time later, and she jumped, startled. The rocking chair rolled back and forth erratically, and she placed her feet on the floor to steady them. Ginny cupped a hand to the back of Albus's head in a protective manner, hoping she hadn't upset him too much.

Albus didn't seem terribly perturbed at being disrupted by her, resettling against her calmly and lifting a chubby little fist to clutch at the string of pearls around her neck.

Ginny moved towards the doorway, unwilling to put Albus down as yet. "Yes, Harry?"

"It's getting late, and tea isn't on yet. The kids will need to be picked up from school soon, too."

Ginny frowned at the clear implication that she should be doing both of these tasks, and absently wondered why Harry hadn't taken some initiative. Ultimately, she shrugged her concern away. "Of course," she replied, reluctantly returning Albus to his crib.

Again, Albus didn't seem at all concerned at being neglected by his mother. She gently removed his hands from her hair and clothing, and he promptly distracted himself with a nearby toy. Such a sweet boy, she thought to herself, smiling down at him, and pressed a gentle kiss to the top of his head - her heart doing a leap when she caught another whiff of his scent.

She quickly made her way down to the kitchen, her frown deepening when she saw Harry in the same armchair he'd occupied previously, puffing away on his pipe with a patient smile.

Ginny left Harry alone, instead venturing to the car outside, and it wasn't until she was securely inside the vehicle that some of the tension coiling tight in her chest slowly ebbed away. She wasn't sure why, but there was something unsettling about her house… she couldn't help but feel as though there was a lack of privacy there, as absurd as that might have sounded.

Somehow, she found her way to Hogwarts, and her journey passed alarmingly quickly for a jaunt to Scotland. It gave her little time to dwell on thoughts she knew she should give their dues. The countryside rolled past her all the while: dense forest, patchwork hills and roaming sheep, over and over again until the generic landscape began to blur together.

It was nice, being alone in the air like this, and it made Ginny ache longingly for her days playing quidditch. It seemed like only yesterday she'd been strapping into her old, leather padding and feeling the sleek handle of her broom beneath her hands...

When the tall turrets of Hogwarts castle poked above the horizon, she realized the trip had passed in no time at all. Ginny eased the car down, parking along the large drive leading up to the castle, amid a long line of carbon-copy vehicles.

Ginny glanced about the grounds while she stood by the car, wondering why she felt so uncomfortable. The other parents milled about, just like her, waiting for their children to separate from the crowd of students emerging from the castle.

She turned to see a redheaded girl and a dark haired boy making their way towards her in the crowd, the boy decked out in Quidditch gear and the girl in a nearly ankle-length poodle skirt that made her robes fan out around her as she moved.

"Mum!" the girl called as she raced towards her, and Ginny staggered back in shock. The girl looked like a miniature version of Ginny, even in the tone of her voice and the way she moved. Although Ginny had been expecting it, it still managed to catch her off guard. "Mum, you'll never believe what James did-"

"No one likes a tattletale," Ginny automatically chastised her, then wrinkled her nose at the statement. That didn't sound like anything she'd say.

"Sorry, Mum," the girl said, sheepishly, then nudged the older boy beside her. "Tell her."

The boy, James - of course he was James - ran a hand through his hair nervously with a small frown on his lips. "Gee Mum, I didn't mean to, but I was just so mad-"

"Out with it," Ginny ordered him, somewhat impatiently, eyeing the broomstick slung over his shoulder enviously as he did.

"Coach banned me from the next game."

"What did you do to deserve that?" Ginny asked him, moving to open the rear door of the car usher her kids in the back.

"I said something mean to Lycan Scamander."

"And what was that?" She prompted him in amusement, thinking back to some of the more unsavory words she'd used to describe her teammates back in the day. Her brothers had always ensured she'd received a thorough education, so she'd grown up possessing a very diverse vocabulary.

James fidgeted as he walked to the car, looking uncomfortable, answering her in a hushed voice. "I told him to get bent."

Ginny paused, looking down at James with a bemused expression, wondering if he was trying to pull her leg - he'd not even uttered a swear word, after all - but it only took her a moment to realise that James was deadly serious. "What?" Ginny hissed at him, slamming the door shut before he could get in, and James and Lily jumped away in fright.

"I'm really sorry, Mum -" James said, eyes wide at Ginny's reaction.

"Take me to your coach," Ginny said, furious. "Now."

Draco Malfoy jerked awake in his seat with a violent start, his neck seizing upright as he emerged from clutches of his exhaustion. He glanced about blearily, wondering at his surroundings and how on earth he'd ended up doing something so uncivilised as falling asleep in a chair.

He uncrossed his arms, straightening his shirt and buttoned-up vest in a smooth manner, before resting his palms on the heavy, oak desk in front of him. A stack of parchment sat before him and he blearily scanned the top most scroll, realizing it was a potions essay - and a very dull one, at that. The tripe this person had scribbled onto the page must have sent him straight to sleep. A sneer contorted his mouth when he saw the name 'Potter' etched across the page.

There was fresh ink on the parchment, too - red crosses and question marks scattered about the page - and it took Draco a moment to realize that he had been the one marking the paper. His head grew fuzzy for a moment, as though his mind was a wireless trying to tune itself to the right station, before the thought came to him: but of course he would be marking essays as the potions master at Hogwarts.

Draco smirked to himself, pleasure filling him as he recalled his appointment as professor. He'd never been prouder, fulfilling his dream of becoming an educator; it had seemed unattainable for so long.

He stood and allowed his eyes to rake across his classroom, his smile growing as he examined the pristine workstations and the few gleaming cauldrons at the far wall, various recipes he'd been tinkering with simmering away.

Just beyond the solace of his classroom, he could hear movement of the boarding students going about their day. The thunder of footsteps and low murmur of voices behind the door made him smile. After all of the pressure he'd dealt with in his own time at school, he'd never had much time to worry about what he would do after he left Hogwarts; it wasn't until his eighth year there that he'd suddenly had a kind of freedom to consider his future. And it hadn't been until he'd started tutoring students in the years below him that he'd developed a passion for teaching - 'you mean a passion for patronising', his favourite student had teased him one evening in the library.

He frowned as he tried to recall the conversation - to recall more distinctly a pair of molten honey eyes glinting at him in the candlelight. As hard as he tried to grasp the memory, to pull it close to him chest and reveal more of her, it evaded him and teased him at the recess of his mind.

An erratic knock sounded on the door, distracting him, and the thread he'd been holding on to like a lifeline slithered from his fingers once more. "Enter," he commanded the visitor, placing his hands behind his back as he stood behind his desk.

The door swung open and a woman marched inside, her petticoats and curls flouncing with an electric ire that matched her furious expression. Two children trailed in behind her, staring at the woman with expressions of both awe and fear. The girl was unmistakably her daughter, though whether or not the boy was her son was less apparent. He frowned at the children, then back at the woman, wondering how the group of them seemed so familiar - but of course, this was Lily and James Potter…

"Mrs Potter, I presume?" he asked the woman as she steamrolled towards him.

She stopped short at his voice, just shy of his desk, so abruptly that her children nearly barrelled into the back of her. Her molten honey eyes narrowed at him suspiciously, glinting like gold in the candlelight-

"Yes - Ginny Potter," she said, and he worked to repress a scowl at the surname. "Ginny is fine."

"Professor Malfoy," he introduced himself, hand extended to grasp hers, another swell of pride rising in his chest at his title.

Something he did must have taken her aback, as she eyed his hand with something akin to suspicion. Mrs Potter - Ginny approached the desk and shook his hand reluctantly, much of the anger she'd swathed herself in having fallen to the wayside. Draco wasn't quite sure how he'd managed to catch the woman so off-guard; nor had he decided if the situation was interesting enough for him to probe her further on the matter.

Draco gestured to the benches in front of his desk, where his students normally sat while he went through theory work with them, and Lily and James took their seats meekly. Ginny was somewhat less amenable to his invitation, instead choosing to position herself in front of her progeny in a manner that suggested she was protecting them from something.

"May I ask, Professor Malfoy, exactly why you chose to ban my son from his next Quidditch match?"

Draco's brow rose as he considered her - the ire she exuded was a curiosity... Intimidating. Riveting. Enthralling.

The longer he examined her - and the more vulnerable she appeared to grow beneath his scrutinising gaze - the more familiar she seemed to appear to him. And yet, Draco was positive he would remember such a striking woman.

It wasn't that she was a great beauty. She was far from it, in fact, her nose a little too crooked and her face far too freckled for her to be traditionally attractive. Having been in her presence a scant few minutes, Draco decided that Ginny was the kind of woman who was infinitely more interesting to look at than a perfectly carved statue. Something about the expression in her eyes and the set of her mouth combined with that vibrant red hair, managed to enthral him. He enjoyed looking at her so much, that he decided to entertain the conversation.

Draco straightened, crossing his arms across his chest as he rose to the challenge she presented. "Your son used vulgar language while representing the school," Draco informed her, enjoying the way her mouth twisted into a scowl.

Ginny scoffed at him. "I'd hardly call what he said vulgar," she threw an arm out to point a finger at James, who shrank even further down into his chair. "Look at him. He couldn't come up with a swear word more creative than 'bollocks'."

"Nevertheless, he was in uniform and at a school event when he said it."

"The punishment you've given him is outrageous. At least come up with something more suitable for the severity of your principles." She moved her hands again, throwing them out in front of her as she spoke. Draco couldn't help but enjoy that she couldn't seem to contain her expression - that she felt so deeply, her hands needed to help her illustrate her point.

Ginny looked him up and down, eyeing him not unlike a piece of meat. She cleared her throat, leaning across the desk far enough that he could see the swell of her breast, if he slouched just a touch. "You look like an athletic sort of man, Professor Malfoy," she told him, her voice low. "Are you telling me that you never once uttered an impolite word in the Quidditch pitch?"

He couldn't help but smirk at her suggestion - she was right, of course, but what kind of example would admitting to it set for the children? "I'll make you a deal. James can serve detention with me this week, on the understanding that if he should use such language again, he will face another ban. Is that fair?"

Ginny turned to look at her son, who was staring at her in awe. "What do you think?" she asked him.

James blinked at her, as dumbly as he would expect of a Potter. "Y-yes - that's more than fair. Thank you, Professor Malfoy."

Ginny nodded to Draco, her hair swinging past her jaw in a way that made him long to brush his fingers across her skin. "Thank you, Professor." Ginny began to usher her children away, clearly eager to escape his lair. For some reason, Draco found himself loath to see her go; he clenched his hands into fists, hoping she couldn't see them shake.

"One moment, Ginny."

She started; clearly surprised he had anything more to say to her.

Draco fumbled for something to say to her - as surprised at his loss for words as she'd been moments before. "Perhaps you and your husband would like to join my wife and I for dinner tomorrow?" The question tumbled from his mouth, then gestured lamely to the essays piled upon his desk. "There are some other things I'd like to go over with you."

Her eyes travelled over him again, just as they had before, and again Draco felt the sense of being eyed like a piece of meat. Ginny winced a moment later, head jerking back as though she'd been struck.

"Are you alright?"

"It's been a long day," she told him, pinching the bridge of her nose. "I must be getting old."

"You don't look old enough to be their mother," Draco told her slyly, nodding to the two children loitering beyond the doorway.

Ginny frowned at her children. "No, I suppose not." She hesitated at the door, her hand hover over the handle. "Have we met before, Professor Malfoy?"

Draco examined her gleaming red hair, unable to prevent himself from imagining it a little longer, brushing her bare shoulder as she turned towards him. "Of course," he told her, his voice sounding more stable than he felt as he stared into her remarkable eyes. "We went to school together."

Ginny stared at him a moment longer, a small frown marring the line of her full lips, as though she had more questions for him. She must have thought better of it, as her expression smoothed and she relented. "Of course," Ginny agreed, nodding her head. "Good evening, Professor."

"Draco is fine," he insisted, surprising himself more than a little at his own forwardness.

She hesitated, her hand hovering over the doorknob. "Good evening… Draco."

His heart jumped at the words - though he wasn't sure why - and his throat was drier than the Sahara when she shut the door solidly behind her, blocking her curvaceous frame from view. "Good evening, Ginny," he said to the empty room, unsure of what had just transpired, or why his world suddenly seemed to be so off-kilter.

Anise's Prompt (1)

Basic premise:

Draco and Ginny in a totally different setting, a true AU. They eventually KNOW something is off and they're not where they're supposed to be. Something happens to make them figure it out. This can be anywhere and anywhen you want. London in the present day, 16th century Tudor England, the prehistoric caves at Lascaux, right before that asteroid hits the earth and wipes out all the dinosaurs 50 million years ago, whatever.

Must haves: They both figure out what's going on at about the same time.

No-no's: Current H/G, cheating spouses, offspring.

Rating range: (K, K, T, M, M [NC 17] – Any. If it's higher rated, well, maybe you could post a higher rated version somewhere else…;)

Bonus points: Include the line "Did Sultan Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire really have over 500 red-headed harem girls?" (The answer is yes, btw.) Failing that, a kitten.