Chapter Nine – Consequences

Harry and Ginny appeared back in Ginny's bedroom, about a foot above the bed, and were dropped as if from a giant hand onto it. Ginny landed on Harry and he felt her elbow hit him just under the ribs, forcing the air out of his lungs with a whooshing sound.

Moaning slightly at their ungraceful landing, Harry glanced up at Ginny to make sure she was unhurt. They locked eyes and were about to kiss again when they heard a chair scraping across Ginny's floor.

Ginny jumped off of Harry as quick as a shot, landing in a sitting position on the bed next to him. Harry rotated his torso up slowly, trying to catch his breath when he noticed that they were not alone.

Things were not exactly as they left them. There were three adults sitting in conjured chairs by the door of Ginny's room. Professor Dumbledore had his legs crossed with his hands folded on his knee, eyes twinkling merrily at the two youths. Mr. Weasley sat to his right and was fidgeting in his chair, glancing between Ginny and his wife, who sat opposite.

Mrs. Weasley was a picture of scarcely controlled rage. Her lips were pressed into a thin line, trembling with unspoken rebuke. Harry couldn't keep eye contact with her for more than a second before their anger made him shy away. Ginny's hand clenched hard upon his when she noticed the three occupants in her room.

"Oh!" she exclaimed lamely.

"Yes indeed, young lady!" her mother fairly yelled before Professor Dumbledore extended his hand in warning.

"Please, Molly, let's give them a chance to explain themselves before we pass judgment." Despite his calm words, Harry suspected that judgment had already been passed in the eyes of Mrs. Weasley, and he wasn't keen to be in the line of fire when her temper blew. "Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley?" he said with raised eyebrows.

Clearing his throat, Harry decided to forge ahead and make it through the gauntlet sooner than later. "Did you get our note?"

"You mean this?" said Mrs. Weasley brandishing the clearly opened and worn parchment that Ginny had written to her before they left. "One of the only responsible things you did that day."

"How long were we gone?" asked Ginny tentatively.

"Precisely one week," answered Professor Dumbledore.

"Well, we didn't intend to make you worry Mrs. Weasley. It just seemed like the best thing to do, so we didn't tell you straight away."

"It's a fine thing to use the last wishing stone in existence to gallivant around in the past. What would happen if you had changed something important? You could have changed the timeline, or been killed in the past! How could you do something so reckless?" Her anger was giving way to sadness and a tear escaped her eyes.

Professor Dumbledore let her finish before interjecting. "I think that there is more to this story than a simple trip through time, am I correct?"

The two teens nodded and this time, Ginny was the one to speak, "Well...yes, Professor. Harry wanted to visit his parents to try to get to know them."

"Then why didn't you wish for Voldemort to never have killed them or to have never been born?" asked Mrs. Weasley.

"If I am not mistaken, Molly, the wishing stone can only be used to perform something magically. Since it is impossible to do the things you suggested with magic, these two decided to use it to do something good, rather than let it be used for evil." His eyes were crinkled at the edges with undisclosed laughter.

It was at this point that something clicked in Harry's mind. "You knew! You knew we would be doing this and you knew about me and Ginny!"

Unable to hold it in any longer, Professor Dumbledore let out a full fledged chuckle. "Indeed, Harry. You would be surprised at the number of times I've been visited by time travelers and had to hold their secrets to preserve the timeline."

Until this point, Arthur had not said anything, but at this he broke his silence. "What did you mean, Harry, about you and Ginny?"

Ginny glanced quickly at Harry and squeezed his hand for comfort. "Mum, Dad, Harry and I are sort now."

All the tension in the air vanished at this pronouncement and Molly jumped at her daughter. "I knew it! I just knew you two would come around. I'm so happy for you, my little sugar plum."

Bristling a little at the pet name, Ginny swatted at her mum's back and said, "Don't call me that in front of Harry, Mum."

Mrs. Weasley ignored her only daughter and captured Harry into a motherly hug. "I always knew you would be part of this family one way or another," she beamed at him.

"So you aren't mad at us, then?" asked Harry.

"No, dear. I still wished you could have talked with us first, though. I was quite frightened until Professor Dumbledore arrived to tell us that things would be all right." The aged headmaster tilted his head in acknowledgment and gestured for Harry to follow him.

"I have one more thing I'd like to show you, Harry."

"And I need to hear everything that happened while you were gone." Then glancing at Harry, "I mean everything," she twittered.

Wondering at how strange it was to see Mrs. Weasley gushing like that, he reluctantly let go of Ginny's hand and gave her a soulful look before following Dumbledore out of her room.

They climbed downstairs to the kitchen where Ron and Hermione were waiting. "Harry!" they chimed together. He noticed that they had been holding hands, but weren't blushing like they normally would. Dumbledore raised his hands to halt their cries.

"I need to speak with Harry for a moment, then you may become reacquainted with your friend." Ron and Hermione got up from the table and went into the living room, where a chess board was waiting for them.

After sitting down at the table, Harry waited patiently until he produced an envelope from the inside of his robes. It was careworn and yellowed with age, but it didn't look like it had been opened. Dumbledore handed the letter over to Harry slowly.

Harry turned the envelope over in his hands slowly. The dark red ink on its front was slightly faded, but he recognized the handwriting instantly. With slightly trembling hands, he torn open the flap and pulled out two neatly folded pieces of yellow parchment.

My dearest Harry,

If you are reading this letter, then you have made it back to your time and either myself or Albus Dumbledore has delivered this letter to you. I'm writing this letter to you the night after you and Ginny Weasley left us. Yes, I know her real name is Weasley, as I have spoken with Albus about this whole thing. I also overheard your conversation with her the morning you left.

When you first arrived, I was naturally suspicious, and though my trust for you had grown, the suspicions remained. Instead of being skeptical about your intentions towards my family, I began to question who you claimed to be. James never suspected anything, but my Mum always told me that men are thick.

I know you are my son, Harry. I know that you came back in time to visit me and James because you never got the chance to have a family. For that, I am sorry. Dumbledore won't tell me what happens to us in the future, or even how long we will have to be with each other. Because of that, James and I have decided to go into hiding. We feel that we might be able to escape whatever evil took us from you when you were little. Dumbledore suggested the Fidelus charm with himself as the secret keeper. It's an obscure charm he found in the Hogwarts library. If you don't know what it is, you can find it in a book in the restricted section called, Family and Friends: a Guide to Avoiding Your Foes.

If for some reason, we are still unsuccessful in keeping ourselves alive, I am also going to perform another charm on you. This charm will protect you from evil if I am killed. Hopefully, we won't have to worry about that, but I don't want to take any chances. Who knows, maybe this is why you don't have a family any more.

Harry, whatever happens, I want you to know how much I love and adore you. You are my sweet angel boy. I've loved you since the day I found out I was to be a mother and I can't imagine life without you now. Your father and I have tried very hard to fight the evil in our day so you would have a chance at happiness as a child. I only hope that something we do makes a difference for you.

Find love wherever it is. You seemed to be in love with Ginny and she in love with you. Cherish that love and you will find a power that can sustain you through the worst times in your life. Your father and I have that kind of love and it has never failed us. Remember us always.

With all my love,

Your mother Lily

Tears were now streaming down Harry's face as he read the last lines of the letter from his mum. The love he felt from her even now, after reading the letter was more powerful than when he had been with her. But the difference was felt only because he was finally able to put a voice to the words, and a face to the voice. Had he not spent these last few days with his parents, he would not be as capable of feeling the love his mother obviously had for him. It was something that he would cherish for the rest of his life.

Trembling with emotion, he looked up at Dumbledore through his tear stained eyes. "I...need some time alone." He got up and walked out the back door into the garden. Harry didn't hear his headmaster reply, even if he had.

Soon, Harry's feet carried him up the hill to the tree at its summit. Without thinking about where he was or what he was doing, he sat down at its base and stared unseeingly into the clear noon sky. A host of emotions played through his head as he considered all that was happening to him. Motherly love, from both his own mum and Ginny's, anger at what Voldemort had robbed from him and his parents, regret because of his lost childhood, and hope for a better future. The greatest gift he had been given was the gift of hope. He had hope in a future with Ginny, maybe even a family with kids of his own. Harry had friends that loved and sacrificed for him. Ron and Hermione were traveling down their own road to happiness and the possibility of their own children. But overshadowing all of the hope and love, Voldemort remained.

With a heavy sigh, he read and re-read the letter dozens of times as the day progressed. Each time, he swelled with love and sorrow as his mother's words penetrated his mind. He reflected that it may have been his very presence, and the fact that his mother knew why her son had traveled through time to visit them, that they decided to use the Fidelus Charm. The irony was not lost on Harry and he tried to comprehend how he had influenced the events that led to his parent's death. Would things be better if had chosen to not use the stone to travel back in time? Would Voldemort have been killed if his mother had not researched a spell to protect him? The answers to these questions eluded him and he remained apprehensive about his role in the past and the future.

How long he was under the tree reading and thinking, he couldn't tell, but eventually a small redheaded figure appeared in front of him.

"Care for some company?"

He smiled up at Ginny's lovely face and answered with a nod.

She sat down on his left, tucking her skirt under her as she did so. Harry automatically reached an arm around her and pulled her into his chest. Ginny gladly snuggled into his embrace and held him as he played with her hair.

Grateful for the companionship, Harry sighed contentedly and the wind pushed the tree's branches back and forth above them. Then unexpectedly, he asked, "Did you get things sorted out with your mum?"

Ginny picked up a leaf off the ground and twirled it between her fingers. "Yeah. She wasn't really upset or I would have been grounded. Mum's a softy when it comes to love." She pushed his legs so they were straight out in front of him and laid her head in his lap.

He resumed idly playing with loose strands of her long hair and said, "Dumbledore gave me a letter from my mum." He waived it in front of her face a little. "She wrote it after we left."

Ginny's eyes focused on his and asked, "Can I read it?"

Smiling, he pushed the letter into her hands and she began reading instantly. After a moment, tears began to form in her eyes and she had to sit up to read properly. When she finished, she turned back to Harry and said, "Oh, Harry."

Nothing else was said as they captured each other in another embrace. Her hot tears melted into his shirt front and she grabbed desperately on his collar. Harry returned the emotions, clinging to her as if she would be ripped away from him any moment. They stayed like that for a long while, simply being with each other, sharing the sadness and love.

Soon the sun dipped lower in the sky and illuminated the Burrow from behind. A pair of ghostly figures emerged from the shadows in the garden and made their way towards the tree where Harry and Ginny were still locked in a warm embrace. As the two people drew closer, Harry could make out the bushy hair of the one on the left.

Hermione and Ron stopped short of the tree and gave the two an appreciative glance, then sat down in front of them. "So how long have you two been...uh...close?" asked Ron without preamble. Hermione punched his arm and sent him a scowl.

"Five days," Harry responded. "And I wouldn't have it any other way," daring Ron to disagree. Ron was normally overly protective about his sister, but Harry wasn't going to have any of it. Ginny was everything to him now, and no one was going to take that away.

Hermione simply beamed at Ginny and sent her a look that said, 'I told you so.'

Smiling, Ron surprised him and said, "I'm glad it's you Harry." Then looking at Ginny said, "No one else is good enough for her."

Apparently, Hermione was equally shocked at his unknown sensitivity and threw her arms around him. "Ron, I didn't know you approved!"

"Well, I wasn't going to come right out and tell them to start snogging!" he responded with feigned indignance.

They all shared a chuckle and the mood lightened considerably. Yes, Harry thought, his friends were the most important thing in the world to him and he was sure that Voldemort wouldn't stand a chance against the love they shared.