Standard Disclaimer: It all belongs to JKR. That you JKR for letting us play with your toys.
I will continue to use the occasional song lyric in the story and will give credit at the time when needed.
This is the fifth book in my Slytherin Harry series.
Book 1 Harry Potter and the Muggle's Daughter.
Book 2: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Book 3: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book 4: Harry Potter and the Blood Traitor's Daughter
Book 5: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
If you haven't read books 1-4 you won't know what's going on. But the bonus is you've got four completed books before you even get to this one!
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
The Terms are Met
A gale wind staggered Ginny on finding herself at the base of the giant spire in her spirit realm. She was instantly drenched by buckets of icy water blown near horizontal. A wave crashed in from the sea, rolling all the way up the shore to the spire nearly three feet deep. She was slammed against the rocks and sucked nearly twenty feet back down the shore as the water spilled back. She staggered to her feet coughing up water and trying to get her bearings back. Her eyes widened. "Meep," she squeaked. A wave, probably twice as big as the first, was massing. Ginny bolted. The wave started to crash, chasing her up the beach. The water carried so much force that she was high stepping through water nearly a foot deep clear around into the savannah quadrant before it receded again. Ginny kept going till she was completely opposite the sea in the desert section of the realm. Escaping the sea came with the added bonus of putting the spire between her and the wind and into the rain shadow the spire created. The wind still howled, but she was out of the rain and no longer in danger of being swept out to sea. Breathing heavily she slumped back against the spire. Lightening cracked across the sky in great, giant arcs. One bolt slammed the spire some hundreds of feet above her head. There was a massive explosion that shook the earth all the way down to where she was standing. A second later the sky was raining rocks down on her. Ginny covered her head with her arms. Amazingly she escaped unscathed from the mini rock-fall. Cautiously she dropped her arms. For a second there seemed a lull in the storm and she thought to catch her breath. "Bloody hell," she whispered.
The sound was the loudest thing she'd ever heard in her life.
For two seconds.
Fearfully she looked up. The spire was swaying. It was also twisting. Rock was breaking away in a growing, rumbling, crescendo. Ginny bolted, racing into the savannah. CRACK. Ginny ran faster. Blindly in the dark and howling wind, rain lashing her, she stumbled. A hand down she caught herself and kept going.
Louder than anything yet and so powerful it reverberated through the ground and threw her from her feet. Ginny screamed and covered her head with her hands. The ground shook and spasmed and it felt like she was a kernel of popcorn in a hot pan getting pummeled and tossed about. How long it lasted or how long she lay there after it had ended she couldn't have guessed but eventually she registered the storm had calmed. The wind wasn't howling and the rain was no longer driving. Cautiously she picked her head up. Ever so carefully she tested her arms and legs. Other than being soaking wet she appeared to have escaped unscathed. Pushing up she turned back to survey the damage.
"Mother of Nimue," she breathed.
Probably the top half of the spire had broken off and crashed down into the desert. Massive chunks of rock and debris littered the ground for hundreds of yards. There was a boulder the size of small car only about fifteen feet from her. A smaller rock, about the size of a quaffle had rolled to a stop only a foot from her head. The spire itself was now only about five hundred feet tall and jagged on top. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Tom was wandering aimlessly through the rubble about thirty yards away.
"FUCK YOU, YOU BASTARD!" Ginny screamed at him. He stopped, focusing on her for a second before going back to whatever he'd been doing. "THE ONE TIME YOU COULD HAVE MADE YOURSELF USEFUL AND YOU DON'T EVEN PUT IN AN APPERANCE TILL AFTER I'M NEARLY CRUSHED TO DEATH!" A rock came spinning out of nowhere. Ginny jerked her head out of the way, jumped to her feet and began launching rocks back at him. The battle was epicly one sided. Ginny was a slasher after all; a very good one, able to whip a shot behind her back and hit her target some fifty feet away as routinely as most people could drop a marble in a cup from a foot. "Stupid! Bastard! Take that! And that! Go eat a snake or a bird or castrate yourself and suck on that!" She launched a last rock and caught Tom square between the eyes. He finally dropped and didn't move. Ginny stomped up to him and started kicking him. "Why don't you just die!" she screamed. She went to jump on his head only to have something snag her by the back of her shirt and stop her actually landing on him. She dangled, swaying back and forth. "Wha?" Ginny yelped, flailing about.
"SORCERERSS," a voice rumbled.
Ginny stilled. "Elitheon?"
Ginny twisted and squirmed. "What are you doing? Put me down right now!" Elitheon dropped her. Ginny landed in a heap. She scrambled to her feet, rock in hand, arm cocked.
Elitheon darted her head to within a foot of Ginny. "I DARE YOU," she rumbled softly.
Ginny hesitated, scowling back at the great beast. Slowly she straightened while lowering her arm. "Then don't go around thinking you can just toss me about."
Elitheon snorted, covering her in hot breath. "COME," she said, turning and lumbering away. She didn't look to see if Ginny followed or not. Ginny watched her walking away for a second before darting a glance at Tom. Bruised, bloodied and battered, he was standing not five feet away. He gave her a leering smile. Ginny whipped the rock at him, catching him smack in the mouth. He dropped like, well, like a rock. "And stay down," she hissed before hurrying after Elitheon.
Ginny hadn't noticed, during her pike of temper at Tom, that the storm had intensified again. Following after Elitheon into the savannah she started to shiver. She was completely soaked and it was damn cold. If she didn't find her wolf soon she was likely going to have to leave the spirit realm. Come to think of it, it was quite strange she hadn't already encountered her wolf. It had been over half a year since simply thinking about her wolf hadn't been able to bring her right to the creature and the rest of the pack. Setting aside her thoughts she hurried to catch up to Elitheon. The dragon led her a good ways into the savannah before she settled heavily to the ground. "WE WILL REST HERE."
"Rest?" Ginny asked.
"YES. COME." Elitheon tented a wing, offering Ginny shelter from the weather.
"I need to find—" Thunder cracked and a bolt of lightening struck the ground barely fifty feet away. "Meep!" she squeaked and bolted under the shelter Elitheon offered.
"WE WILL WAIT." Thunder crashed and another half dozen lightening strikes scorched the savannah all around Elitheon.
"Mmm, fine by me," Ginny agreed.
Elitheon settled to the ground, curling her head back under her wing. Her hot breath warmed the air and Ginny's clothes were drying in moments. "REST, WOLF CHILD," she rumbled.
Ginny eased to the ground, settling back against Elitheon's great bulk. She was silent for a while, considering things. "Aren't you worried about the lightening?"
Elitheon snorted disdainfully. "SPARKS." A booming crack followed by one of the largest bolts yet struck the ground only feet from them. The sky burned so brightly it shone through the membranes of Elitheon's wings. Ginny said nothing. "BIG SPARKS," Elitheon conceded. The two were silent for a long time.
"It's never stormed before." Booming, roaring explosions that had nothing to do with thunder or lightening pounded the air. Reverberations so powerful Ginny felt them through the earth shook them. The storm raged louder, thunder and lightening exploded, adding to the feel of destruction. It went on for what felt like hours but was really only about ten minutes. Finally the earth stilled and the storm abated to nothing more than heavy rain. Ginny didn't dare speak.
"THE END BEGINS," Elitheon, said.
"The end?" Ginny croaked.
"THE CURSED ONE HAS RETURNED. TWO WHO ARE ONE WILL DEFEAT HIM OR THEY WILL DIE."
"YOU ASK LIKE YOU HAVE NOT KNOWN."
Ginny fell silent again. "How?"
Elitheon didn't answer for a long time. "FOLLOW YOUR HEART."
"Follow my heart?" Ginny asked dubiously.
"HAS IT NOT LED YOU HERE?"
Ginny opened her mouth but closed it again. She was here because her heart told her Harry wouldn't wake unless she found him. He had fled here to escape Tom, merged with his wolf, and like she had, become lost. She was certain of it. Only unlike her he wasn't going to recover with even half his being on his own. The damage, the pain, the fear, they were just too much. She had known it in her heart. She settled back against Elitheon again. "How come I didn't appear with my wolf?"
"THE CURSED ONE POSIONS THE VERY AIR… IT INTERFERS."
"He isn't… here, is he?" Ginny whispered.
A blood-curdling roar cut through the night, raising goose flesh over every inch of her skin. Tom ducked under Elitheon's wing, darted to Ginny and sat down beside her, practically in her lap. Ginny shoved him away. "Get away from me!" Tom refused to budge and stared, unblinking, past the crook of Elitheon's wing. Ginny climbed slowly to her feet and edged to where Tom had entered. From outside the membrane of Elitheon's wing she could hear a low rumbling growl and the sounds of… something, pacing back and forth. Tom edged in behind her, his hot breath putrid on her neck. She elbowed him back but he refused to move. She turned and glared at him. He edged closer. Gritting her teeth she turned back to whatever was beyond the dubious protection offered by Elitheon's wing. Cautiously she reached to push the membrane back.
"SORCERERESS," Elitheon said at the same time Tom grabbed her wrist. Ginny tried to jerk away from him but his grip was like iron. She gripped his hand. "Let – Me – Go." Tom allowed her to prize his fingers open and pull her arm away. She put her hand on his chest and pushed him back. He moved only as far as the length of her arm. She held his red eyes with hers for a second longer before deliberately turning to Elitheon.
"What's out there?"
Elitheon waited a few beats before answering. "THE LAST PLAYER."
Ginny considered. "So you mean Tom?"
Ginny's eyes darted to the thin membrane of Elitheon's wing. "You mean like for real, or like his spirit animal?"
Ginny glowered at the great beast. "Is there any chance of getting a straight answer from you?"
Elitheon shifted irritatedly. "YOU JUST DID."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Fine." Before Tom or Elitheon could react she grabbed Elitheon's wing and pulled it back. She saw nothing but darkness. Tom edged in, peering over her shoulder. Ginny stared out into the night. Whatever had been there appeared to be gone now… Maybe… She let her wolf rise. Her ears and nose twitched. Her eyes narrowed. Something was out there. She inhaled deeply. There, barely fifteen feet away, a shadow within a shadow. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. At the exact moment she raised her hand, glowing red eyes suddenly pinned her. "Reducto!" she shouted just as the giant cat leapt. Faster than her eyes could follow, faster than she would ever have guessed a creature of Elitheon's bulk could move, the dragon's tail lashed out and caught the cat, sending it sprawling across the ground. The dragon surged to her feet, standing over Ginny protectively.
Ginny had thought her panther was huge; at least twice the size of her wolf. But this thing dwarfed even that. At the shoulder it was taller than she was. Not counting the tail it had to be at least fifteen feet long. She couldn't have even guessed at the weight. She just knew it was massive, far bigger than even the lions and tigers she'd seen when her father had taken her to the London zoo for her ninth birthday, and the biggest of those had been over 300 kilograms. "Nundu," she breathed. The giant cat scrabbled to its feet, hissing furiously.
Elitheon drew a massive breath and with an eardrum-shattering roar unleashed a jet of flame at the beast. The giant cat easily danced away. It landed lightly and as Elitheon's flames died out leapt at her. Elitheon's tail lashed again, smashing the cat in the head. It went tumbling across the ground. Claws scrabbled for purchase as Elitheon drew another breath. Just as the cat found its feet the wolf pack, led by the black wolf surged out of the savannah and set on it. The black wolf darted for its left rear leg, trying to hamstring it, but the cat whirled and he was forced to dance away, barely avoiding its slashing claws.
Ginny spied her wolf rushing in and before she'd even thought it she'd merged with the creature. She ripped with her teeth, slashing open the cat's right flank and danced away less than an inch from its ripping claws and being disemboweled. A grey wolf leapt on the cat's back and sunk its teeth into its neck. The cat shrugged the wolf off, spun and slashed at it with a giant paw. The wolf was ripped open from its left shoulder clear to its flank. The black wolf, along with a half dozen greys, jumped back in. Nipping, slashing, ripping and darting back out, constantly worrying, the larger predator. The red wolf darted in and clamped her teeth on the right rear leg of the beast. It spun around and threw her twenty feet through the air. She crashed and rolled and by the time she'd gained her feet the cat had bolted for the desert. She leapt out of the way, just avoiding its razor sharp teeth as it went past and gave chase with the rest of the pack. But not even the black wolf could match the nundu's speed and he very quickly gave up the chase. The red wolf and the rest of the pack caught the black and flanked him, watching the nundu till it disappeared over a dune in the dessert. One by one the wolves turned back, moving to rejoin their fallen pack-mate. The black and red wolves remained. She nudged him. He turned and licked her muzzle. A last glance into the dessert and they both turned to rejoin the others.
The wolves formed a circle around their fallen pack-mate. The black wolf edged forward, nudging the grey with his nose. They grey wolf didn't move. The black wolf tipped its head to the sky and howled. The rest of the pack joined him, a chorus of lament. For near two minutes the wolves howled before, almost as one, abruptly stopping. One by one they turned and made their way into the savannah; the black and red wolf last. They'd covered a dozen paces or so before Ginny managed to separate her mind from the wolf and step out of the creature. "Harry," she said firmly.
The black stopped and turned back. The red wolf stopped a few paces further on before turning and resting on its haunches. She whined. The black wolf glanced over its shoulder. "It's time to go, Harry," Ginny said. The wolf turned back to her. Ginny held her hand out. "I'm back, Harry." The wolf cocked its head. "All of me." The wolf edged towards her. "I remember, Harry. I remember everything." The wolf edged closer. "That's it, Love," she said. She reached for the wolf, wrapping her arms around its neck. "Just step out, Harry." She nuzzled her face into bare skin.
"Ginny?" Harry whispered.
"Yes," she answered, watching over his shoulder as the black wolf turned to join the red and the two disappeared into the savannah grasses. "It's me."
Harry shivered in her arms. "And – and you – you remember?"
Ginny sat back, taking his face in her hands. Eyes locked on his. "Yes."
He watched her for the longest time. "Promise?"
She leaned in and softly kissed him. "Promise." He continued to just watch her when she pulled back. She let him be for a few moments before figuring she should get him moving. "Can you get up?"
Harry seemed to snap out of it. "Oh, shite, how long have I been out of it?"
"A bit more than a week."
"Yes. What do you remember?"
Harry squeezed his eyes tightly shut. "I… Well, I remember waking up in a graveyard… And Riddle's alive again. And, Mother of Nimue, it was Pomfrey!"
Ginny put her hand over his mouth. "She was imperioused."
"Imperioused? By who?"
Harry rocked back on his heels. "You can't be serious."
"I am," she answered.
Harry stared at her. "Bloody hell." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Have they arrested him?"
"His phoenix returned and killed him."
Harry blinked rapidly. "Erm, maybe you should just explain what the hell is going on."
"YOU SHOULD LEAVE THIS REALM," Elitheon interrupted.
Harry spun around. Sixteen-year-old Tom Riddle stepped out from behind the dragon. For a half second Harry was frozen in place. Then he started forward. "Oh, I'm going to enjoy this." Harry's shadow crawled over Riddle's shoulder. Harry stopped short. Riddle leered at him.
Ginny grabbed Harry's arm. "Just leave it." Harry glanced at her but his eyes quickly returned to Riddle. He was petting the giant scorpion like Harry had stroked Kaa.
"LISTEN TO YOUR MATE, WIZARD," Elitheon rumbled. Harry turned to the dragon. "IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO."
Ginny reached for Harry's face, turning him to her. "Take me home, Harry."
Harry blinked his eyes open to find he was once again in the Hogwarts infirmary. A heavy weight rested on his shoulder. "Ginny?" he whispered.
"I'm here, Harry."
"And I'm not dreaming? You were just with me in my spirit realm?"
Harry was silent for a few seconds and Ginny took the time to find his hand and weave her fingers with his. "And… you remember?"
Ginny curled into him. "Everything, Harry." Harry let out a slow breath, settling into the bed. "Just sleep, Love."
"Yeah," Harry agreed, exhausted.
Poppy Pomfrey came around the curtains and stopped in her tracks. Her mouth was open but instead of going off she cocked her head slightly. She wasn't really all that surprised to find Ginny sprawled, half on top of Harry. In fact, if she was honest with herself, she was shocked it had taken this long. Of course it was possible Ginny had spent a number of nights in Harry's bed already only this time she'd failed to wake up early enough to avoid being discovered. Whatever, it wasn't Ginny that had her attention, it was Harry. Tears were leaking from his closed eyes. Just then, with a hiss of pain his eyes snapped open.
"Ahh," he moaned, grasping at his left hand with his right. His movement caused Ginny to bolt up in the bed.
He ignored her, instead focused on forcibly opening the fingers of his hand that had contorted into a twisted and deformed fist. No sooner had he managed to deal with that spasm when he lurched forward and grabbed at his foot. "Ahh – Sweet mother – The fuck. ARRRRGH!" he screamed, grabbing at his back while flopping back in the bed and twisting into a painful looking arch.
"Harry!" Ginny cried.
Madam Pomfrey jumped forward. Waving her wand she cast a Muscle Relaxant Charm at him. She'd been on her way to give him his dose of potion to help with the after affects of having the Cruciatus cast on him. Apparently she'd misjudged the stage of his body's recovery and let him go too long between doses.
Panting, Harry collapsed back on the bed. "What's wrong with him?" Ginny asked.
"After affects of the Cruciatus," Poppy said. She pulled a phial of potion from her apron. "Come on now, Mr Potter," she said, popping the cork. "Open up for me."
Harry was still breathing hard and it took another second or two for him to open his eyes and focus on her. When he did, his eyes widened and he scrabbled away from her pushing both himself and Ginny straight out of the bed to land in an inglorious heap on the flagstone floor.
"Owww," Ginny moaned. "That's gonna bruise."
"Mr Potter," Poppy said.
Somewhere in the functioning's of his mind and fight or flight, Harry recognized Ginny was with him and as he scrambled to his feet he shoved her behind him so that he was between her and the matron.
"Bloody hell, Harry!" Ginny exclaimed at being manhandled.
Poppy's eyes widened as Harry raised a hand and growled, "DEFODIO MAXIMA!"
Ginny screamed, "NO," and knocked his hand up. The spell impacted with the ceiling, blasting a four-foot hole clean through it. "STOP!"
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Harry tried shoving Ginny behind him again but she slipped away from him.
"I'll kill ARRRRRGHH!" Harry screamed and crumpled to the floor, twisting in agony. The Muscle Relaxer spell was nowhere near as effective as the potion and Harry's panic had caused it to fail just that quickly.
Shaken, her heart pounding, Poppy stood, seemingly petrified at her near brush with death. She'd been devastated to learn her roll in what had happened to Harry. Of course, logically, she knew she bore no blame, but that didn't stop her blaming herself. She just wished she'd been able to tell them whom had placed her under the Imperious Curse. She hadn't thought Harry was aware she had been the one to deliver him to the Shrieking Shack. If she had, she would never have allowed herself to be in charge of his treatment till after he had woken and been informed of the truth. She was shaken from her horror by Ginny screaming for help. A flick of her wand and she'd hit Harry Muscle Relaxant and Calming Charms. While Harry was still somewhat out of it she quickly stepped to Ginny and handed her the phial. "Get him to drink it. I'll fetch Mrs Tonks."
Half an hour later Poppy followed Andromeda around the curtains. Harry, his eyes closed, was lying on his back in the bed again. Ginny was standing beside the bed gently massaging his hand. His eyes snapped open just as Ginny said, "Harry."
Harry sought her eyes. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
Poppy smiled gently. "I dare say we needed some more light in here." Her gaze darted to the new skylight he'd created.
"I almost killed you."
She moved to the bed. He watched her warily, and couldn't stop from cringing away when she slowly reached for his hand. "And it would have been my own fault had you." Harry opened his mouth. "No, Harry," she said gently. "I knew what had happened. I knew my role in it and because of that I was determined to be the one who oversaw your treatment and recovery. But the first rule of being a Healer is to not let personal needs interfere with those of the patient. I never considered that you might have known I was the one to take you and if you did, you would, of course, react in an unpredictable and possibly dangerous manner. I forgot the cardinal rule of my profession and it nearly cost me my life. You bear no guilt for your actions." She patted his hand gently.
"But I did know," he croaked, "Ginny told me before she brought me back."
Mrs Tonks stepped forward. "Brought you back?" she asked.
"He was trapped."
"Elsewhere." Ginny's eyes darted to the matron.
"Elsewhere? What on earth does that mean?" Poppy demanded. She turned on Andromeda. "Don't think I didn't see that little look she shot at me. If you know what she's talking about I suggest you share it right now."
"Are we sure it's safe?" Harry asked.
"What/Excuse me?" Poppy and Mrs Tonks asked.
"Are we sure it's safe to talk?"
"Harry?" Ginny asked, catching on.
"Are you okay with it?" he asked, focusing on her. "She's kept about a million secrets already," he said when she hesitated.
Ginny nodded. "All right then."
Harry turned back to Mrs Tonks and the matron. "So is it safe?"
"It is," Mrs Tonks said.
"Right then," Harry said. "Ginny and I are animagus. We're both wolves. We share the same spirit realm. I don't know if I really thought about it or not. I just wanted to get away."
"You went to your spirit realm," Mrs Tonks said. "Annnd, got lost?"
Harry nodded. "Yes."
"And Ginny brought you back?"
Mrs Tonks let out a slow breath. "That's not all," Ginny said. Mrs Tonks and the matron turned to her. "I remember," Ginny said significantly.
Their eyes widened. Mrs Tonks slowly smiled. "Everything?"
Daphne's arm on hers, Ginny allowed her friend to lead her back down to the Slytherin dormitories and their room. As far as the matron went, admitting her memory was back may not have been the best thing Ginny thought ruefully. She'd been dismissed from hospital and told in no uncertain terms would a blind eye be turned to her sneaking back in the middle of the night to be with Harry. It was her own fault really. She should have known better than to leave Harry covered in love bites. Still, she rather thought she'd been just a touch responsible for bringing him back and then nursing him through the day and next night. Unfortunately even Mrs Tonks had sided with the matron and told her she needed to look after herself and get a good night's rest. Why that couldn't happen in a bed in hospital a curtain over from Harry she didn't know, but her arguments had fallen on deaf ears and here she was. Of course, if Daphne's appearance was anything to go by, it was possible her friend needed her just as much, if not more than Harry did right then. No sooner had the door of their room closed before the mask Daphne presented to the world crumbled and she was sobbing in Ginny's arms.
"Shush," Ginny soothed.
"I lost you," she gasped.
"I'm here," Ginny answered. She kissed Daphne's crown. "I'm here."
Voldemort stood at the table, staring blankly at the ancient tome before him. How had she survived? Her story, while a lie, was believable. But then that was the secret to a good lie, wasn't it. It needed to be real enough that people would believe it. Believe it and embrace her as a hero. She was a shrewd one; he'd always known that. Why else would he have sought to have her join him? It would have been easy enough to find some dead pureblood to attribute her birth to. A small lie they'd died and she'd somehow gone to a Muggle orphanage. Her adoptive parents had simply never told her she was adopted. Low and behold she would suddenly be a pureblood; ready to take her place in the world he would create. One made exceptions for the extraordinary…
She'd tied her soul to his, fought to drag him to the underworld with her, but his protections had instead held her soul in the realm of the living. His resurrection had returned her to her body. Ready once again to resume her fight against him. The lie was so beautiful it was poetic.
He scowled. If he hadn't killed her, then the old magic couldn't have been in place to protect her brat and reflect his curse back at him, so how? How had either of them survived?
Ginny sat quietly in her chair beside Harry's bed. Despite his eyes being closed she knew he wasn't sleeping. His breathing was too controlled and his heartbeat too fast. She glanced at her watch. He was due for his potion regimen soon and she could tell he was doing everything he could to simply relax and not set off a series of muscle spasms. Even so, his fingers twitched uncontrollably on him. It wasn't constant, but two days on from first waking and his body was far from healed. They'd been assured he would eventually recover, but the residual effects of the Cruciatus and the contortions Harry's body had been through while under it were hundreds, if not thousands of twisted knots lodged deep in his muscles. As they slowly released, they also released toxins into his body that would cause the muscles to tighten in other places. When one added in his frayed nerve endings regenerating, it took very little indeed to send a leg, or an arm, or worse, his back into conniptions again. She had been unaware the curse had this kind of lingering effect on people. But apparently most victims of the curse only ever suffered a few bursts of ten seconds or so and certainly not for more than a minute total. A few doses of potion were all they usually required. Evidently, when you were cursed for up to a minute at a time and near ten in total things were a bit different. Mrs Tonks had told them the absolute worst cases sometimes required the patients to be on potion regimens for six months or more before they no longer needed them. Ginny gave an involuntary shudder. She really hoped that wouldn't be Harry's fate. Of course, at least his mind was intact. Very few, if any, who had suffered the curse as long as Harry had could say that. Harry drawing in a sharp breath pulled her out of her thoughts. His hand had just twitched rather sharply.
"Want me to rub?" she asked softly.
Harry gave a jerky nod. "Yeah." Ginny gently reached for his hand and began softly kneading. "Start at elbow," he gasped.
She shifted, gingerly working down from his elbow to his wrist, hand and fingers, performing the 'drain' the therapist had taught her. Once finished, she softly kissed his fingers. "Where else?"
"Left leg, knee down." Ginny adjusted the covers, exposing his leg, and went to work. "Thanks," he whispered.
Ginny bent and kissed his knee. "I love you," she said and returned to her task.
It was a full week on from her son first waking that Lily managed to gather her courage and go to see him. She'd been there near continuously when he'd been in coma, but on waking she hadn't been able to bring herself to face him.
It was her fault.
Dumbledore had given him to Voldemort and it was her fault.
She had left him in place because she needed a figurehead and that figurehead had delivered her son, like a roast pig on a platter, complete with apple stuffed in its mouth, to Voldemort. Her figurehead was the very reason Voldemort was back. It was Snape all over again, only this time the price was far, far higher. They'd already learned the bastard had caught Karkaroff placing Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire and done nothing. It had taken everything in her to even look on Ginny when that had come to light. Her need for a figurehead had nearly killed her honorary daughter and was the reason Ginny had spent three months not knowing whom she really was. Her figurehead had killed Fleur and Cedric and was the reason Viktor was still in a coma. And the goddess only knew what treachery remained to be discovered in the man's notes and the cabinet full of memories he'd left behind. She shuddered to think how much worse it might yet be. Surely the man had hidden things they'd yet to even find… And it was all her fault for not taking the man down when she should have.
A hand touched hers as she stood just outside the curtains surrounding his bed. "He needs you, Mum," Ginny pleaded. Lily glanced at her. Ginny smiled painfully. "Be the mum I know you are."
Lily let out a choked sob and pulled Ginny tight. "You are so strong," she gasped.
Ginny returned her hug just as desperately. "I love you, Mum."
Lily crushed her tight for a second before pushing the younger woman back. She took Ginny's face in her hands and kissed her wet cheeks. "You are everything I ever dared dream for him."
Ginny smiled through her tears. "You are everything I ever dared dream for myself."
Lily pulled her in and kissed her crown before letting go. "Right then," she wiped her cheeks, turned and stepped past the curtains. Harry looked up and she saw relief, longing and fear flash in his eyes before anger and hurt settled in place. She wasn't quick enough to stop him lashing out.
"Sorry I disappointed you by not killing him—"
"—I mean what else would I think when everyone but my own mother comes to see me?" Lily stopped and let him go. "It's not like it hasn't been a week or anything, or the rest of the world hasn't seen you, is it?" He threw the paper on the bed at her feet. Half a dozen photos on the front page were of her going to and from the ministry. She closed her eyes, clenching her jaw painfully against his rant. "Nope, it's just your son, who was kidnapped, used in a dark ritual and then tortured you haven't bothered to fit in your schedule. Got a camera man for your next photo op before you have to leave again?" When he didn't go on she opened her eyes. Harry was red in the face, panting with hurt. A tear slid down his cheek.
"WHERE WERE YOU!" he roared over her. "Arrrgggh!" he cried, suddenly contorting. He twisted on the bed, trying in vain to get the muscle in his back to release.
"Harry," she cried, jumping to him. She reached for him but hesitated, unsure what to do. "Andi!" she shrieked. "Help. Someone help me!"
Before she even finished Ginny darted in and pushed her out of the way. She climbed on the bed, forcing Harry to his stomach. "Where!" she demanded, her fingers probing at his back.
"There," Harry gasped. Ginny placed her elbow on the knot and pressed. "Ahhhh," he moaned painfully. His right leg bent and kicked the bed repeatedly while he clutched desperately at the bedclothes.
"Easy, Harry," she soothed. "Come on, before you set off another spasm." Harry managed to unclench his fists. "That's it," she encouraged. Under the pressure from her elbow the knot suddenly released and Harry sagged into the bed and his leg stopped running. Ginny released the pressure and shifted so she could massage the rest of his back.
Andi hurried around the curtains. She took in Ginny working on Harry's back, with Lily standing to the side, terror in her eyes. Lily appeared not to notice her and Andi slipped quietly in, moving to Lily's side she gently took her hand. Lily gave no acknowledgment of her presence and Andi stayed silent, lending support simply by being there. Ginny had been massaging for close to five minutes before Lily snapped out of it. She pulled away from Andi and moved to Harry's bedside where she reached for his head and gently smoothed his hair back. She continued to stroke her fingers through his hair while Ginny worked the last of the kinks from his back. Eventually Ginny stilled. "Better?"
Harry nodded. "Thanks."
Ginny leaned forward and kissed the back of his neck. "Always," she whispered before pulling back. She shifted to his side and stretched out next to him, resting her hand on his back. Lily continued stroking his hair.
It was another minute or so before Harry broke the silence. "Where were you?"
"Afraid," Lily answered. "Afraid to see you in pain and know I'd failed you again." Harry rolled to his side so that Ginny was spooned behind him. Lily climbed on the bed facing him. Green eyes locked. She reached to palm his cheek. "I'm so sorry, Baby. I'm sorry I didn't take him down when I should have."
Harry raised his hand, placing a finger on her lips. "I don't care about that." He waited a second before pulling away.
"I'm sorry. I should have been here. I just—"
"You were dead," Harry cut her off again. "And I still prayed I'd wake up and you'd have come for me… When you didn't come, I felt like I was back in the cupboard again."
Lily closed her eyes painfully. She took a slow breath before open them again. "I'm sorry, Harry."
He held her eyes for the longest time. "It wasn't your fault," he said intently.
Lily leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his brow. "I love you, Baby." When she pulled back, Harry had closed his eyes. A few moments later his deep even breaths told her he'd fallen asleep.
Ginny reached across Harry for her hand, entwining their fingers. "Love you, Mum."
Lily smiled. "And you, Daughter." Ginny closed her eyes and followed Harry into sleep.
Andi moved to the bed behind Lily where she bent and kissed her cheek. "Rest, Luv," she whispered before settling in the chair beside them.
Rowena Stone knocked on the door and waited. She wasn't certain what the deputy headmistress could want with her, but the woman had stopped by the Hufflepuff table at dinner that night and requested she come by her office. She really hoped it had nothing to do with Cedric. She didn't think she could stand another person attempting to offer her support or counsel.
"Come." Professor McGonagall's voice called from behind the closed door. Rowena pushed the door open and stepped in. "Ah, most excellent," Professor McGonagall set her quill down and focused on her
"You wanted to see me, Professor?" Rowena asked.
Professor McGonagall smiled at her. If she hadn't been struggling to feel anything at all in the aftermath of Cedric's death Rowena might have found it unnerving. As it was, she failed to even notice. "Actually, Miss Stone," Professor McGonagall said while standing and moving to the door to her private quarters, "if you would step through to my private quarters, there is someone whom wishes to meet you." She opened the door and held it for her.
Rowena stared at her. "Sorry?"
"Trust me, Miss Stone." Cautiously Rowena stepped forward. "In you go, please," Professor McGonagall urged when she hesitated at the threshold. She stepped through, coming to a halt at the site of the hooded figure standing beside the hearth.
"Miss Stone," the individual said. Rowena couldn't tell if they were male or female by their voice. "I'm pleased you could join me."
Rowena blinked rapidly while her mouth opened and closed a number of times. She glanced over her shoulder. Professor McGonagall smiled gently. "Good luck, Miss Stone," she said before quietly closing the door, leaving her alone with the person.
Rowena turned back to the other person. "Erm, are you what I think you are?"
"That depends, what do you think I am?"
"Then yes, I am."
For the first time since Cedric's death Rowena felt a spark of life within herself. From her earliest memories she had dreamed of joining the ranks of the unspeakables. She wasn't even certain where the dream had come from, but the chance to study and research magic's greatest mysteries, the challenge of creating new spells and finding the answer to questions sorcerers had been asking for generations was all she had ever wanted to do. It hadn't been an easy dream. This world was against her from the start. Her RoM score of 81stpercentile was far beneath the 90ththat was usually the minimum. Her status as a halfblood also worked against her. Still, she had refused to let those hindrances stand in her way and had worked her butt off to be at the top of her class from day one. And she had. Every single year, she had stood atop her class. It hadn't been easy. The days she had survived on 4-5 hours of sleep were far more than she could count. But she'd done it. She'd put in the time and effort and prayed the reward would come.
"Are you recruiting me?" Rowena asked.
The figure tipped their head. Rowena tried seeing past the cowl to their face but the Unspeakable cloak kept them well hidden. "Not for what you think, but yes."
The unspeakable began pacing a slow circle around her. "To be honest, Miss Stone, I have had my eye on you for quite some time."
Rowena turned with her. "You have?"
Instead of answering, the unspeakable asked, "Tell me, Miss Stone, you have been the top student in your class since you arrived at this school. You've led study groups, are a member of the choir, the Potion and the Charm's Club. You were elected president of the Charm's Club your sixth year and have served in that capacity the last two years." They paused. "And yet, you were passed over for head girl by a Slytherin who is not even in the top ten of your class and is involved with no extracurricular activities. Why?"
"You don't need to answer, Miss Stone," the unspeakable cut her off. "I know perfectly well why. You were passed over because you are a halfblood. It is the same reason you will not be recruited to the ranks of the Unspeakables. Your blood and your RoM score were always strikes against you. Combined with, understandably, below your customary performance at school these last few months the forces against you, wrongly, were simply too much to overcome. Not even your paper on the possibility of developing a linear shielding technique, which is brilliant by the way, was enough. I had hoped otherwise, as, were you to agree to my terms, you would have been an even greater asset to me had you been recruited to their ranks. But there is no sense complaining about what I cannot change. One lost opportunity simply means I will have your undivided attention."
"Erm, I'm not following you."
"What confuses you, Miss Stone?"
"Erm, well, to be perfectly honest, everything… Would you quit circling me? I'm getting dizzy keeping track of you."
The unspeakable paused in their pacing. "I could. But that is your problem. Find a different solution to your dizziness." They resumed their slow circle. "Start from the beginning, Miss Stone. What confuses you?" Rowena stopped turning to keep track of the unspeakable. "There, you see, problem solved. Now, what confuses you?"
"You're an unspeakable?"
"And you're recruiting me, but not to the unspeakables?"
"But you wanted me to be recruited to the unspeakables?"
"I had hoped you would overcome the biases against you, yes."
"I have already answered that. But, as I'm feeling generous, again, because you would have been more valuable to me if you had. Though, as I find my own circumstances somewhat changed, I could have been mistaken about that assumption and it is to my better interest that I will not have to share your time with them. Also, I would simply have liked you to succeed for yourself."
Rowena frowned. "Are you saying you wanted me to spy on them for you?"
The unspeakable stopped pacing and faced her. "Spy," they mused, "such a dirty little word."
"You were! Are you insane? It's impossible to spy on them. You have to make vows against your magic when you join them to never reveal anything you're not supposed to."
The unspeakable tipped their head slightly. "Yet Voldemort managed to have spies within their ranks." Rowena gasped and couldn't help looking around fearfully. "Relax, Miss Stone, there is no Taboo currently in place. Even if there were it would not be powerful enough to cut through Hogwarts wards." Rowena said nothing. "Back to the point. Yes, I had hoped to plant you as a spy within the ranks of the unspeakables."
"Because I believe Voldemort has spies within their ranks. As I fight against him. It therefore follows I must also have my own spies within their ranks." Rowena just stared at her. "Miss Stone, have you figured out who I am yet?"
"No? Very well, consider it while I present my offer to you. I find myself in need of an assistant. As with the unspeakables, you would be researching the deepest secrets of magic. You will explore both the ancient and the as yet undiscovered. You will help me in the creation of new spells and the modification of existing ones. You will be asked to explore Runes, Arithmancy, Charms, Potions, Transfiguration, the Dark Arts and even Divination. Frankly, if you wished to be an unspeakable, I suspect you will find this to be even more rewarding. Any papers you assist me with, you will be listed as a co-author of. I will give you the opportunity to create your own library and the budget to see it happen. In essence, together, we will build our own Department of Mysteries. Eventually, I expect we will begin to teach and perhaps even found a university of higher learning for magic that goes beyond the basic education of Hogwarts. Indeed, we may even change the very foundations upon which Hogwarts instructs its students.
"Those are the ideals and the long term goals of my offer. In the short term, you will find yourself on the front lines of the effort to, once and for all, bring about Voldemort's demise. As well, I'm offering you the most direct path to bring justice to those responsible for Cedric's death." Rowena sucked in a breath. "In fact, I will tell you Voldemort was ultimately responsible for his death. The Triwizard Tournament was never a good idea. When Voldemort learned of it though, it became a vehicle by which to test Harry Potter. It was by Voldemort's direction that Igor Karkaroff placed Harry Potter's name in the Goblet of Fire. Igor was responsible for the dragon breaking free during the first task and the kraken during the second."
Rowena stared at the unspeakable, blinking rapidly as she tried to process what she was learning. Think, Miss Stone," the unspeakable said, "within the information I've given you, there is one question far more important than all the others you might have in mind."
Rowena frowned. "Only one?"
"Perhaps there is a One and a One A."
"B, C and D no doubt," Rowena muttered. The unspeakable said nothing, clearly waiting for Rowena to respond. "Fine, why did he need to test Harry?"
"To ensure the success of his resurrection."
"But you just said he ordered Harry's name to be entered. Wouldn't he have to already have been resurrected to do that?"
"For approximately twelve years after Harry Potter stopped him Voldemort existed in the form a wraith. About a year ago, with the help of Peter Pettigrew he regained the body of a sickly child. Harry Potter's blood was to be used in a ritual that would see Voldemort create a body even stronger and more powerful than before Harry Potter stopped him the first time. The tournament was used to ensure Harry was indeed the powerful enemy Voldemort believed him to be."
Rowena eyed the unspeakable. "How much of the truth haven't you told me?"
"You've been told enough of the truth to make your decision without making it impossible to obliviate you." Two more cowled individuals suddenly materialized from behind Disillusionment Charms.
Rowena was almost more surprised she wasn't surprised by their appearance or the unspeakable's statement. Apparently, somewhere along the way of their discussion it must have registered on her subconscious that if she didn't agree to what they wanted, she was going to be obliviated. How could they not after telling her they originally intended to recruit her as a spy in the unspeakables? Rowena narrowed her eyes. Something else had registered as well. "Tell me, Lady Potter," she said, "how much truth lives in the story of your resurrection?"
Lily reached up and pushed her cowl back. "Very little, Miss Stone."
"And will you be elaborating on this for me?"
"Are we agreed on the terms of my offer?"
Lady Potter nodded to the sitting area and the tea setting waiting there. "Shall we sit?"
Andromeda Tonks sadly looked back to Frank and Alice Longbottom from the door of the long-term care ward at St. Mungoes' hospital in London. Ginny's rescue of Harry from his spirit realm had presented a possible treatment for other individuals suffering from exposure to the Cruciatus Curse. No one had ever considered the insanityinflicted on victims of the curse might actually be self-inflicted; a strategic retreat born of desperation that left the victim whole but trapped within their spirit realm. It had never been thought the only thing needed to help them was the simple End-Trance draught used to forcibly bring people back from a spirit walk. Ginny's revelation of journeying to her and Harry's shared spirit realm to bring him back had already yielded positive results for one victim of the curse. The former auror was already talking about taking up his wand again; determined to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters to the very end.
Unfortunately, what little evidence they had seemed to indicate the treatment was only helpful when the subject in question was an Animagi. They'd tried the draught on all thirteen victims of the curse in residence on the ward and had success with only one of the two registered Animagi among them. They could only assume the other eleven victims had not been Animagi. But given her experience of Sirius, James and the Rat, it was possible one of those eleven could have been Animagi and like the one Animagi they did know of the treatment hadn't worked. And with only eleven assumed non-Animagi subjects, they couldn't yet rule out the idea the treatment might work for someone who wasn't Animagi. About the only conclusion to draw in relation to the treatment was it couldn't hurt to be Animagi.
It was a situation the Order would be rectifying beginning immediately; with all magical members set to undertake the training. It took only one day in the presence of Frank and Alice Longbottom to convince her the time and effort would be worth it. They didn't know for certain, but it might even be possible one didn't need to actually complete the process for it to provide a protection from long-term exposure to the curse. It could be that simply journeying to, and making contact with your spirit animal might be enough. Unfortunately though, for Frank and Alice Longbottom, they would never know. The draught had done nothing to help the two.
At least I never got Neville's hopes up, she sighed before she turned to go and deliver the news to Augusta.
The day before they were to leave school for the year found Harry sitting in his bed writing the essay portion of his DADA exam. He wasn't yet recovered enough for the practical portions and would face those at some point this summer. Though he had made it through the previous day without a single muscle spasm. Of course he was still on a potion regimen so he was far from better but it was improvement. Even better, Ginny had promised to give him a massage once she came back from dinner.
"Time," Professor Moody said. Harry set his pen down and leaned back. If it was possible for a brain to cramp, he was fairly certain he was suffering the mother of them all. It seemed the only time his head didn't ache at least a little bit right now was when Ginny's magic fingers were running through his hair. Professor Moody took the exam from him, giving it a cursory look before stuffing it in a pocket. The man glanced about before pulling his wand and waving it in the air. Harry's wand slid into his hand and leveled on the man. Moody chuckled. "Put it away, Potter." He sent his own wand away and waited. "I just wanted a word in private."
Harry only lowered his wand. "You'll excuse my caution, Sir."
Moody grunted. "Your instincts are good, Kid."
"Not good enough," Harry said darkly.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter how vigilant you are, Potter." He waved at his face and leg. "My good looks alone should be all the evidence you need of that." Harry said nothing. "Right," Moody said, "you seem to have a pretty good group around you, but you're missing one person."
Harry frowned. He knew Moody had been brought fully into the Order but he rather thought the man was assuming a lot to just come in and think he was going to make declarations like that. "And you think you're that person?"
"I don't think, I know."
"Because everyone you've got right now is too close; they'll coddle you. I don't give a damn about your feelings and by Merlin you need it, because you're bloody damn lucky you aren't pushing daisies right now."
Harry held hard eyes on him for a long moment before crossing his arms over his chest. "All right then."
Moody leaned forward. "You had him, Potter," he said intently. You should have just left. Because, let's face it, you had less than the lottery's chance of winning. But you decided to fight. And thanks to your team and their foresight with the bone and the trick you pulled with the blood and then saying the fuck with robes, I don't give a damn about being butt-arse starkers, I'm just gonna gut this bastard, you took him by surprise… And you had him. You cracked his shield, broke his arm, spun him around and if you'd just given him your second spell instead of Malfoy, you'd have blasted him out of his body. But you didn't… You didn't finish. You went for revenge and now we're a whole hell of a lot worse off than if you'd kept your eye on the damn ball." He sat back in his chair. "And now, you gotta win the lottery again, because I promise, you won't take him by surprise next time." He stood. "One more thing, you've never really faced the repercussions of killing someone so you might want to prepare yourself for the next time you see Draco Malfoy." Moody left without another word, leaving Harry stewing angrily in his bed. And that was where Ginny and the others found him when they came to deliver the news they'd not be riding the train home from school but instead taking a portkey.
So there we go. We're through year four. Hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you all so much for your reviews and comments. I've loved hearing from you.
And now the bad news. While I've written a good bit of year five, I'm also far from finishing it. I'm finding I'm going back and heavily editing parts because they need to be reworked to fit with things happening later in the story. This is a long way of saying I won't begin posting year five next week and I don't know when I might do so. I'm very sorry and can only say, baring an untimely demise, I will finish this saga out.
I can offer you all this. I have a story I wrote a few years back. It follows canon and takes place summer after 5th year. I'll leave it up to you all, if you want me to post it, I can begin with that next week. Though I won't promise the Slytherin Harry series will pick up immediately again after posting this other story, I will say posting the story won't interfere with my work on the Slytherin Harry series.
Your choice, post it or not?
It will not interfere with my work on the Slytherin Harry series though I won't ear five should begin posting soon. As always, thank you to those who have reviewed for me. I do appreciate hearing from you.