Harry skidded to a halt at the edge of the clearing only to be greeted with a huge blast of air that lifted him off his feet and slammed him into a tree ten feet behind him. Harry's ears rang and little white lights danced in front of his eyes. He was dimly aware of everyone else being similarly blown away from the archway that now glowed brightly in the center of the clearing. Everyone else, that is, except an unnaturally tall, cloaked figure holding a bundle in its arms. Harry, head pounding, scrambled to his feet. He lifted a hand to the back of his head feeling a wet stickiness there.
:Snap out of it! You have a job to do!:
The voice in his head was familiar but he was too disoriented to consider that it was anything other than a very insistent part of his conscience. Harry watched in dismay as a large group of deatheaters (recovered from being blown off their feet) converged on the tall figure he knew to be Voldemort. One by one, they began to file through the portal.
"NO!" he shouted.
The words tore from his throat and were whipped violently away behind him by the blizzard-like winds that still swept outward from the portal. He shook his head to clear it and bolted towards the portal, knowing that the wind would keep him from getting there before it closed. Out of nowhere, a gigantic white figure appeared at his side.
:Hop on idiot, before they get away!: White demanded imperiously as he cantered alongside Harry.
Harry didn't hesitate, he leaned in and grabbed a fistful of White's whithers and hauled himself onto the broad expanse of back, having no time to wonder where on earth his old companion had come from or why he knew what was happening. With inhuman speed (Harry only dimly remembered that White was not human) the unicorn plowed through the backbreaking winds towards the portal. Harry crouched low on his back, holding onto the flowing white mane for dear life and clenching his stinging eyes shut against the harsh wind. Harry felt White's hindquarters bunch, then lurch as the unicorn vaulted the last few meters of ground to their destination and then…
Ginny knew the moment Harry's ceased to exist. Of course, she didn't quite know what had happened or why or how, all she knew is that there was no more Harry. He was gone. Dead. This time it was real. Last time they had been wrong, but this time there was no doubting the empty part of her soul. It was a terrifying thought. She wanted to scream. And that she did.
Molly Weasley woke to shouting.
"MOLLY! ARTHUR!" came an urgent voice.
Beside her, Arthur sat up abruptly. Molly followed him, rolling out of bed, senses on fire with adrenaline. She snatched her robe from where it draped across a chair in their room and flew out into the hallway and down the stairs as she donned it, Arthur hot on her heels. The both reached the fireplace to find Dumbledore's head floating in it, his expression one of extreme worry.
"What?" Molly gasped, falling to her knees on the carpet in front of the fire. Behind her, Arthur stood in anticipation.
"Your daughter," Dumbledore said. "Something's wrong with Harry. He left to attend to auror business a few hours ago and Ginny woke half the castle screaming several minutes ago, she positively incoherent!" he said urgently.
Molly's hands flew to her mouth and she stood up, stepping backwards into her husband. One hand left her mouth and went back to clutch his arm.
Arthur put a calming hand on her shoulder.
"We'll be right there," He said quickly.
Dumbledore's head disappeared with a pop. Molly, gathering her wits, rushed into the hall and slipped on some shoes. She grabbed Arthur's and rushed back into the sitting room to find him sprinkling floo powder on the flames.
"Here," Molly said in a high-pitched voice, thrusting his shoes at him.
He accepted them and nudged her towards the fire. Molly didn't wait for him, she bounded into the hearth, wrapping her rode tighter about her and shouted,
"You're sure?" Ginny asked, swiping a fist over her teary, red and swollen eyes. Her heart had only recently stopped trying to pound a whole through her back and she struggled to get her breathing under control. Beside her, Ron sat in a chair, pale as a ghost (which is saying something for Ron), leaning forward and holding onto Dumbledore's every word like his life depended on it. Hermione seemed the calmest, but her grip on the arms or her chair was white-knuckled and turning purple from lack of circulation.
"Postitive" Dumbledore stated decisively. He was standing on the rug in front of Harry's bed, while Ron and Hermione sat in the armchairs in the room and Ginny curled up in a pile of pillows on the bed, where she had refused to be removed from since she went into hysterics about five hours before. It was now eight o'clock in the morning, and they had all been up since four, when Ginny had first become aware that Harry was gone. Molly and Arthur Weasley stood behind the headmaster, faces a mixture of complete worry and utter relief behind heavy fatigue.
"He is not dead," Dumbledore continued. "According to Commander Aegiudius, Voldemort implemented a plan he had been cultivating for several months last night, one to open a portal to a different realm. He summoned it last night…" everyone gasped at the thought, "…and went through. The blankness you felt was Harry following him."
Everyone stayed silent for a moment.
"You mean Harry followed him through the portal?" Ron asked incredulously. It was a well-known legend that portals, things that were hardly believed to be real in Wizarding Society today, when summoned by a human were highly unstable and incredibly dangerous. One could risk death, or worse, being trapped in the space between realms for eternity. That is, if limbo, and realms, and portals actually exist, Ron thought, somewhat skeptically, despite the current proof.
Dumbledore nodded seriously.
"We should consider ourselves lucky," he said, surprising everyone.
Ginny opened her mouth to protest but Dumbledore continued
before she could speak.
"I mean only that if Voldemort had made it through alone, we would have a terrible disadvantage against him in the future and it would be nearly impossible to find which realm he has traveled to, much less do anything about it. The fact that Harry has pursued him through the portal gives us some hope that he will be able to destroy Voldemort or at least keep close tabs on him."
Destroy him? Ginny wondered in a half-panic. Thousands of question's were running through Ginny's mind. Why did going to another realm give Voldemort some sort of advantage? Could they communicate with Harry? When would they return…the questions bombarded her from every direction, and from the looks on the faces of her parents and Ron and Hermione, they felt the same way.
Ginny suddenly felt like her world was imploding. Every carefully erected structure of emotional support on all the different aspects of her life crumbled. Harry wasn't dead, but someone she felt just a bad as before when she thought he had been. He was by himself, in another dimension, against an enemy more powerful than any, without anyone to help him and no friends to support him and she was stuck in a bundle of blankets in his bed. And to top it all off she was pregnant. With his baby. It was too much, the thin control she had gotten over herself vanished and she dissolved in a flood of tears, collapsing on the bed hopelessly. Hermione was immediately there beside her, brushing her hair back and leaning in to hug her, biting her lip and looking as though she might cry herself. Arthur, Molly and Dumbledore all looked at each other. Ginny's distress was understandable but this constant bursting into tears was uncharacteristic of the strong-willed girl they knew. Molly's eyes suddenly widened as something dawned on her. Her mouth opened and she let out an incoherent squeak. Arthur looked at her in bewilderment, and Dumbledore watched curiously as Molly brushed past both of them and went to her daughter, sitting on the opposite side of the bed from Hermione.
"Ginny do you feel a little sick?" she asked
Ginny nodded, face buried in a pillow.
Molly looked at Hermione, who looked back, uncomfortable and obviously holding something back.
"Ginny are you pregnant?" Molly asked, voice much higher than usual.
Ginny faced popped up off the pillow to stare at her mother, lips parted, cheeks soaked. Her face crinkled and she wailed, more tears flowing down her cheeks before she nodded and crawled into her mothers embrace. She was much too big for cuddles but somehow that didn't matter, and Molly managed to fit all of her inside her arms. Across the room, Dumbledore and
Arthur looked on, the headmaster's expression unreadable and Arthur's that of total shock.
Little lights, like fireflies drifted lazily above Harry's head. He tried to watch only to find that his eyes would not focus. He groaned and brought a hand to his forehead. His joints ached, and the air around him seemed to crackle, it was alive, like static.
:It is residual energy, from the portal:
The voice appeared in his head so abruptly that he yelped. His skull smarted.Where the hell am I? He wondered to himself, not realizing White had heard his thoughts until he responded.
:You are in another realm. The joint and bone ache is your body reacting to the Crossing. Human bodies are not made to deal with those kinds of transitions. Your body is protesting:
Harry squinted his eyes. Things were coming back into focus. He seemed to be lying in a field of grass. It was nighttime, the air smelled fragrant and soothing, like jasmine. He stared into the sky, and his mouth fell open slightly. There was a world, visible in the sky. He could clearly make out roads and buildings, their windows glowing. The little lights he had first seen in the sky were window lights, Harry realized. The whole image rippled, light a reflection in a body of water. What the…
: It is your world. This one and yours are close right now, which is why he was able to make a gate:
: Realms do not often cross paths like this, but when they do, the making of a portal becomes very easy to any decently trained wizard. The danger of opening a portal to another realm is virtually nil when the realms are so close. The sky will reflect your world until this realm passes it completely:
When will that be?
:Not for another few months:
How do you know all this? Harry demanded in wonder.
: This is the homeland of my people. That is why I was near you when the gate was opened. I sensed it's opening, as did all of the unicorns, and came to see why someone had done it:
Harry lay there for several minutes, trying not to think anything.
I'm glad you are here, he told White finally.
The one he had been talking to finally appeared in his field of vision, blindingly white to his sensitive eyes. White dipped his head and nudged Harry in the ribs.
:Get up young one, and let us seek cover before your friend discovers you have followed him:
White's tone of voice was as close to affection as the gruff old being was probably capable of.
Harry groaned and rolled over, then attempted to stand, only to find that his limbs had gone to jelly.
"I'm all wobbly" Harry complained.
He would never have displayed such open vulnerability to anyone is his home world, but there was no fooling White anyway, so he didn't bother to try. Something like a mental sigh drifted into his thoughts.
:Climb onto me: White told him, crouching down to make it easier for Harry.
Harry crawled to the Unicorn and slithered on to him.
Weak as kitten, he thought to himself in extreme irritation. How was he supposed to track Voldemort if he could barely walk?
:It will pass in a day or so:
I suppose I'll just have to take your word on that, Harry thought grumpily.
Harry woke very slowly, feeling warm and comfortable and not wanting to move or open his eyes, because he knew that if he did, things would ache. There was the smell of food and the sound of rain pattering on a rooftop. Harry opened his eyes, frowning and looking around his unfamiliar surroundings. Then, as the fog of sleep began to fade, bits and pieces of information returned. He vaguely remembered rousing from his half-dose half-meditation on White's back to see that they had reached a building of some sorts. He remembered voices, in his mind rather than his ears, one familiar and one not. Past that he had no idea where or with who he was. The sound of a door creaking open drew his eyes past the foot of the bed he was apparently sleeping in. His ears the soft flannel covering his down pillow. A beautiful face poked through timidly, long black lashes framed wide hazelnut eyes and brushed soft freckled cheeks. A full rosy mouth pursed thoughtfully below a pert little nose, and Harry's eyes traveled to her hair, which fell in a disarray of chestnut ringlets cascading down from where they had been haphazardly piled on the girl's head. Harry noted that she must have been around sixteen. Beautiful, there's no doubt about that, he thought idly, but she doesn't hold a candle to Ginny, his brain continued with satisfaction. The fact was true, few disagreed that Ginny Weasley was stunning in practically every way. She stepped inside a little more holding a pile of things in her hands, and Harry saw with surprise that pointed ears poked up through the hair, and she was dressed in soft bronze and amber colors, like fall. A wood elf, he thought in wonder.
"Good," she said in a soft voice, "you're awake."
She walked to the stool at the foot of his four-poster bed and laid down what looked like a clean change of clothes.
"These are my brother's," she told him with a shy smile, "Dinner is almost ready, by the way."
He tried to thank her but when he opened his mouth, no sound emerged.
She made a round of the room, lighting wall lamps with a glowing handful of magic, then exited the room. Harry, curiosity piqued, rolled over and sat up, legs hanging over the edge of the bed. He twisted, cracking his back in both directions, and looking around the room. It was warmly lit my glowing lamps, and rather than painted, the walls were raw, elaborately carved wood. The shapes carved into them were smooth and organic, and the leaf-like arabesques gave the impression of somehow being alive. The floor was wood paneled and several rugs lay on it in green, brown and rose colors. The whole effect was so convincingly natural that it must have taken long and hard work. Harry lowered himself off the bed and padded gingerly around to the foot of it where his clothes had been laid. He was surprised and pleased to note that his joints no longer ached and the back of his eyes no longer smarted when he looked at things, there was merely an overall stiffness. Harry slipped out of the thin pajamas someone had changed him into, hoping it hadn't been the young girl, and unfolded the bits of material folded neatly in front of him. The clothing was like something out of the past; it consisted of undergarments, soft bronze breeches and cream-colored shirt. Slipping on some soft leather slippers with fur-lined insides, and took a last look around the room. His eyes alighted on a different doorway than the one the girl had come through and he strode over to it and peeked inside. It was a small closet, and he found, too his relief, his trench coat and boots arranged neatly inside, along with his weapons. His old clothes were nowhere to be seen. He slipped on his coat, remembering the sound of rain and left his boots in favor of the soft leather shoes, and buckled his belt (all weapons and wand still attached) to his waist. He opened the door to the room and looked out. Instead of finding more rooms, he was surprised to see leaves and branches. He stepped further out and was further surprised to see that the room he had been sleeping in was literally part of the largest tree he'd ever seen. The colossal trunk had been hollowed out in one section far above the ground and a porch of sorts had been built around the circumference of that section of the tree for people to walk on. Windows and the door were cut into the sides of the tree and the bark remained on the walls of his room. To his left, dangling down, was a rope ladder, and his eyes followed it up to discover with amazement that there were more rooms dotting the length of the trunk and that he appeared to be in an entire forest of …the best word seemed to be tree houses. Away from him was a rope bridge with wooden slats leading to another tree quite close to his own. Not having the faintest idea where he was, Harry walked to the middle of the bridge and looked out over one of the rope handrails. He threw his magic out like a net, amazed at how amplified it was in this new world, and called for White.
: So you are awake, finally: came the amused voice in his head.
Harry bit back a rude exclamation.
Where are we? Harry asked the Lord of the Unicorns with forced politeness
: The wood elves are old allies of my kin. They will provide food and shelter for you in return for the removal of this new menace in their lands. The magical backlash of many of Voldemort's experiments have plagued them for years, they are more than happy to support anyone who can stop him:
Oh. Harry didn't quite know what else to say.
: I would be careful. Some of them do not take kindly to outlanders:
Hm. Harry said.
:Merlin is here:
I know. I sensed him the minute I woke up. Damn the man, he always meddles in everything.
:If I am not mistaken, he took and trained you for this exact reason:
:So that you would protect the other worlds besides your own: White explained patiently.
I know, Harry gave a mental sigh, I am so tired of saving the world.
: My, aren't we self-assured: White said with sarcastic amusement.
Shut up White you know what I mean, Harry growled.
: You are tired and grumpy, White told him matter-of-factly, fly down to the ground, that is where everyone in the Twin-Tree clan eats. They will feed you:
: You are standing on a bridge between two trees are you not? The Twin-Tree clan is the largest of the wood elf clans. They occupy a third of this forest, usually one or two families to a tree. For most clans, the largest tree is communal, like a town center, but this clan is so big they need two communal trees. Hence the name Twin-Tree clan:
The trees are damn big, I'd have thought they could house more than two families, Harry thought, gazing up at one of them.
Even from about half-way up the trunk, as he estimated he was, he still could not really make out the top of the tree. More impressive were their thickness. The entire expanse of the Burrow could probably fit snugly inside one of these trunks as the base.
:Elves are fond of personal space: White explained
Harry gave metal nod.
: They have a protective bubble down here to keep the water off their food:
I'll be right down, Harry said.
Vereo, lord of the Twin-Tree clan, sat cross-legged on a soft cushion on the giant stone slab in between his clan's two trees that served as the dinner area. The rest of his clan elders were in similar positions, all around the edge of the slab, and the food sat in the middle. The rest of the clan ate their dinner in little circles of five or six, around various campfires that dotted the lush, wild, and distinctly tropical vegetation that covered the communal ground. Talk was alive this night, Vereo mused. News of the outlander had spread quickly, and everyone was eager to talk about him and his relation to this new evil that had arrived in their realm. Next to him, the sly old man Merlin, ate in silence. Merlin was an old friend of his, and came and went between the realms as he pleased. He was apparently also a good friend and mentor of the outlander, Harry, he was called. A peculiar name, but Vereo had not traveled between worlds much; so many such things were unfamiliar to him. A flash of silver caught his eyes, and Vereo looked up to see a raptor with silver tipped wings flutter to the ground not to far from where Merlin sat. Then, amazingly, the bird grew and changed, and out of the night-shadows of the bushes stepped a young man, with disconcertingly emerald-eyes, raven hair and a tan complexion. He was tall, and lean, with broad shoulders and a slim, but muscular build. He walked with a cat's grace and in a manner that implied he carried a great burden, one that had been with him for as long as he had lived. The young man took a few more steps out of the shadows, so that he was more visible by the fairy lights drifting in the air, and stopped, looking around uncertainly. Vereo put down his piece of melon and stood, unnoticed by the others of his clan. Only Merlin seemed to notice, he smiled slightly, but did not turn. Vereo wondered just how the old man knew everything that was going on around him, and stepped off the stone slab onto the soft ground and walked over to where the outlander stood, gazing at the great stone slab that held the clan elders. He started when Vereo reached his side, apparently lost in his own thoughts.
"Come join our eating circle" Vereo told him with as much hospitality as he could muster in the face of this strange and clearly wildly powerful guest. Vereo could see the magic rolling off him in waves. He was brimming with it. The outlander, Harry, looked briefly surprised, and then his posture softened and he smiled.
"I'm starving," he said significantly.
Vereo grinned and led the way back to the food.
Terra watched with fascination as the beautiful little bird that swooped down from one on the Twin-Trees half disappeared into the shadows, and then emerged in the shape of a man, with strikingly handsome features. She smiled then in approval as her father got to his feet and made his way over to the outlander and beckoned to him to come share the food and the stone table.
"What are you looking at?" one of her friends on the other side of her campfire asked.
Terra pointed at the Elder's table.
"The Outlander is here," she said with interest.
The five other head's around the campfire snapped up. They all stared at the newcomer.
"He certainly is beautiful," Iridia, her good friend whose name (meaning rainbow) reflected her sunny disposition.
The men at the fire watched the outlander darkly.
"I could beat him in a fight" one, named Asper declared confidently.
The three other boys sitting around the fire made noises of agreement.
Terra and Iridia rolled their eyes.
Harry finished the last bite of the delicious meal and sighed with satisfaction. Across from him, he caught Merlin's eye. Merlin winked, looking to Harry, nothing like the wise, distinguished old man that everyone else saw. Instead he looked mischevious, with an 'I told you so' look plastered openly on his wrinkled face. Harry, not really understanding how he knew he could do this, mindspoke to his old mentor.
You owe me big time, old man.
I haven't the foggiest what your talking about, came the innocent reply.
Mmhmm, Harry thought disbelievingly. You knew Voldemort would try this from the very beginning, the question is, why didn't you think to inform me of it. I could have prevented the whole damned situation.
It is not my place to meddle with the future.
Harry gave a mental snort. Merlin was scheming again, but he had absolutely no idea what about, and he didn't think he was going to get an answer, so he didn't try. Instead, he rose and excused himself politely, saying he was going to explore a little. Vereo, the elf Lord, offered a guide, warning him of a few not so friendly of his subjects. Harry declined, and Vereo looked as though he was about to protest, not wanting a large confrontation, but Merlin leaned over and spoke to him quietly. Harry caught the words 'capable' and 'responsible' and things like that. He smiled gratefully, and before Vereo could fully protest, melted into the shadows, leaving most of the elders completely flummoxed. In shadowcat form he drifted from shadow to shadow soundlessly and literally almost invisibly, and observed the different campfires. He reached one particular circle of elves that peeked his interest. The girl that had brought him his clothing sat there laughing and joking with other elves ranging from her age to his own. At the moment their subject of discussion was him.
"He seemed perfectly nice when I brought him his clothes," the girl said.
Harry thought she was closer to seventeen that sixteen, as he originally had thought.
"He's an Outlander," one young man said stubbornly. Outlander seemed to be synonyms with 'not to be trusted'. Harry could see the wisdom in this, but he was still mildly insulted. There was a rustle from the other side of the campfire, and he, and his occupants went silent. They all had hands on their bows which were slung over their backs. Harry, suspicious, skirted the outer edges of the campfire unnoticed to the other side to find the source of the disturbance. To his immense anger and concern, it was a deatheater, crouched behind the bushes, listening to the conversation dressed in a black suit that fit him tightly, so he could move without getting clothing caught on twigs and branches. Harry knew he would have to be obliviated or killed, otherwise he would bring the talk of 'the outlander' back to his master. Harry morphed back into human form and lunged at the man, dragging them both into view of the elves. Within a split second Harry had the deatheater disarmed and face down in the dirt, arms twisted painfully behind him, wand out of reach.
"You should be more careful who you spy on," Harry growled.
The elves watched in amazement. Harry didn't bother to use his wand. He clamped an iron fist over the deatheaters twisted back arms and with the other, waved his hand over the deatheater's head, being sure to use less power that he would normally, because of the magical amplification of this new world.
"Obliviate" he whispered.
No one would be able to undo that, Harry knew. The deatheater went slack in his grip. Harry rolled him over, levitated him while he was only semi-concious, and banished him from the area so that he would wake up far away from where he was spying. The deatheater disappeared with a pop. Harry rose, noting with satisfaction that he was barely dirty. He wanted to make a lasting impression on his onlookers, maybe to convince them that they didn't want to fight him. He looked at each of them in turn. All had risen from their seats, and many of the young men still had hands on their weapons. Harry moved his arms, 'accidentally' brushing open his coat so that they could clearly see his blades. The elves looked surprised.
"Excuse the interruption," he said cordially, "you were being spied on. You would do well to not speak of my presence so openly. I word were to get back to the Dark Lord you would be in double the danger that you already are."
Most of them looked properly reprimanded, but from the hard set of a few jaws, Harry knew men were not taking kindly to his patronizing attitude. Good one Potter, he thought.
"You were spying on us as well, were you not?" Terra pointed out.
She wasn't actually angry with the Outlander, just testing him.
He didn't move, but he cut his eyes to her, apparently studying her. Then, slowly, he smiled. It was a feral grin that made her shiver, and she thought that he must have been doing this on purpose, to catch them off guard. It was working.
"Touché," he said in a low voice. Then he turned to face her completely, "But believe me, better that it is me spying on you and not a Deatheater."
At the word 'Deatheater' everyone looked properly horrified. The people of Harry's world had gotten used to the word and had never contemplated its literal meaning, but to someone who had never heard it, it was unpleasant.
"And what makes you better than one of them?" Asper asked, unconvinced, he wasn't about to let this Outlander command all of Terra's attention. He felt he needed to establish some dominancy.
Terra watched as the Outlander tensed. His mouth set in a firm line and he looked as though he was trying very hard to contain anger. His eyes narrowed and darkened with thinly veiled fury.
"You know what a demon is correct?" the Outlander asked.
Asper nodded curtly.
"Imagine the worst demon you can remember from your legends, and multiply it ten-fold. Voldemort is one step short of immortality, and he doesn't lack courage, skill, or intelligence. His deatheaters are no different, except that they are as mortal as you or me, and have less than a tenth of the power of their master, but that's not for lack of trying," the Outlander explained in a deadly voice.
"A deatheater would sooner rip your heart out with his bare hands than kill you quickly, and all the while he would be laughing. They take pleasure in that sort of thing," he continued angrily.
The elves looked slightly green.
He took a step towards the young man and leaned in menacingly, speaking in a whisper barely audible to the rest of the group, pleased to note a slight widening of the eyes.
"Don't insult me by assuming you can speak to me in whatever manner you please. If you think you can defeat this enemy without my help, you're dead wrong, so I suggest you get over this prideful nature of yours and start speaking civilly, or so help me I'll leave Voldemort to his own devices and all that will be left of this beautiful place within year will be a colossal, smoking, crater," he punctuated the last words forcefully.
He stepped back and looked around at the others.
"My name is Harry, not Outlander" he told them. "I'm sorry to have interrupted your dinner, next time I'll let deatheater blow you all away" he said acidly, and before any of them could reply, stepped in the shadows, and was quite suddenly gone. The group stared at the spot he had been in amazement, wondering how he came and went so stealthily. Terra snapped out of her surprise and rounded angrily on Asper. She slapped him.
"You stupid idiot! Father warned us not to trifle with him, he's here to protect us out of his own generosity, he deserves a little more respect!"
Asper opened his mouth,
"And don't you dare say we don't need protection!" Terra cut him off. "You know as well as I do we don't have the experience with these sorts of beings to fight this new enemy!"
Asper looked around at his buddies, but although they too looked angry with the Outlander, they were not about to stand up to Terra when she was in a state. They knew she was right even if they didn't want to admit it. His gaze traveled to Iridia, but she looked completely in agreement with Terra and totally unsympathetic to his situation. She stood, arms crossed over his chest, mouth set in an angry line.
Before he could think of a better reply, Terra stormed off. The others sat back down, purposefully intent of their dinners. Asper sat down as well, thinking.
Terra left her campfire and wandered, looking for the Outlander, no he wanted to be called Harry. It didn't take her very long, she spotted him, outside the protective rain bubble, sitting on one of the lower braches of one of the Twin's. He didn't look angry, instead, sad, leaning against the trunk of the tree, gaze drawn upward to the world in the stars. Seeing other world's in the sky was something that happened seasonally, and Terra didn't think much of it. He seemed interested though, caught up in his own thoughts. Terra jumped up and climbed a few branches easily, coming to rest on a branch next to his. His gaze snapped to her when she came into view. He raised an eyebrow, and Terra's heart went ka-thunk in her chest. She mentally berated her self for developing such a silly crush on the newcomer. She knew it to be nothing but fascination and appreciation for his amazing good looks.
"Sorry about Asper," she said quietly.
He smiled ever-so-slightly and shook his head.
"He is just being protective," Harry said.
"You were showing too much interest in the 'Outlander'" Harry explained, "I imagine he was jealous."
The moment he said it, she realized it was true, and kicked herself for having been so stupid. She blushed hotly, feeling glad that it was dark out, until she realized he seemed to be able to see the flush anyway. She was amazed, he missed very little.
"What's so interesting up there?" she asked him, changing the subject.
"It's my world, I wish I was back there," he told her with a sigh.
She nodded, wondering if there was a particular someone he was missing over the other friends he had in his world.
"We do appreciate your help," she told him.
"I haven't done anything yet," he said.
Terra didn't reply, and they sat, admiring the sky and enjoying the light drizzle of rain and the lukewarm air. It was a very tropical climate, and the moisture was bringing out pungent flowery scents. The combination of smells and comfortable temperature and position lulled her to sleep. She didn't feel Harry drape his coat around her before falling asleep as well, thinking about Ginny, and how on earth he was going to survive Voldemort without her.
Two weeks had passed since Harry had been gone, and Snape had been doubling as Defense teacher in his absence. The Dark Arts classes settled perfectly in times where there were no Potions classes, something Ginny had found immensely annoying. At the moment though, this was the least of her worries, as she stood next to Dumbledore and her family in the Forbidden Forest of all places. In front of them stood a unicorn.
:The world is still very close, it will remain so for a few months to come, it would be no trouble for me to guide her to our home world:
"You would do that?" Ginny asked in amazement.
:You are beloved to the Boy Who Lived. He has become a great friend to our Lord and us, and so you are our friend as well:
Ginny blushed at this high compliment.
"Ginny, are you sure you want to do this?" Mrs. Weasley asked with concern.
Ginny turned to her mother and nodded firmly.
"I can't say I'll be fine mum, I just know he can't be in another world without me, we need to be together right now of all times, no matter what," Ginny said sincerely.
Her mother nodded, eyes slightly damp. Arthur put an arm around her and she sniffled.
:If you wish to go, it would be best to do it now, while the time is right:
Ginny had no idea what that meant, but figured the Unicorn knew more about these things than she did, and she should probably not argue. She tightened her pack to her shoulders and turned, hugging each member of her family and Hermione individually.
"I'll try to send some sort of message when I can," she told them.
They all looked worried, but they had been discussing this plan for days, and all the kinks had been worked out as best as possible.
:Get on me: the Unicorn told her.
With the help of her Ron, she scrambled astride the Unicorn and gave a last look at everyone. She nodded to Dumbledore, who gave her a small smile and a nod in return and before she was truly prepared, they were sailing through utter blackness.