Mrs Weasley's shriek as the two appeared in the kitchen was, Ginny insisted, sure to cause deafness in later life. At any rate, it was pretty loud. Loud enough to bring various half dressed members of the Weasley clan thundering down the stairs, Bill at the helm brandishing a large brass lamp. In the general confusion that followed, the two time travellers picked themselves off the kitchen floor. One by one the rabble on the stairs fell quiet, until the silence was so palpable that it was as though everyone in the room was drawn into the same tense intake of breath. It was only broken when George's familiar tones sounded from somewhere in the dark stairwell.
"By gosh and golly, Fred. It's our maverick sister and her performing monkey!"
"Turn a few cartwheels, Harry?"
It was then, I think, that it fully sank into Mrs Weasley exactly who had appeared in the middle of her kitchen floor. She picked up a copy of The Prophet, dealt both of them a deft whack on the head, then threw herself on Harry's neck, sobbing as she clasped both wayward children to her considerable bosom. After about a minute of wordless weeping, she pulled herself together, straightened up and gave them each a watery smile.
"Oh! I'm sorry, it's just... I can't believe you're back. Well, I know you said you would be, but... we haven't heard from you for so long, oh!"
She yanked them back to her for another tearful hug, but then tensed, picked up her discarded Prophet and gave Harry another resounding thwack over the head.
"I still cannot believe you, Harry James Potter! Taking away Ginny like that without a backward glance, the nerve!"
"Mum, Harry didn't take me away, I followed him," Ginny said patiently, bracing herself for a showdown, "We told you in the parchment."
"Oho, yes, the parchment," Molly was in fine form now, "The parchment that mysteriousy stopped working!"
Harry winced. The parchment had been reduced to cinders in a defense lesson gone wrong, when a first year had accidentaly set fire to Harry's desk and all its contents. He'd tried to salvage the parchment, but got severely burned for his pains.
"So, we were – GAAAAH!"
Ron's voice was very casual for someone who was sitting on his best friend's stomach with a heavily pregnant girlfriend on his lap. Harry propped himself on his elbows, saying grumpily, "I suppose that was a payback for leaving you?"
"Right. And I suppose that was a payback for going mental, eh mate?"
Harry smiled, looking more relaxed.
"Thank God you've calmed down!"
"Harry, I've definitely not calmed down. Why do you think I haven't got off you?"
"So, you did it successfully first time?" Harry eyed Hermione's huge girth, "I would have thought time travelling in your condition would be a bit dodgy."
"You're forgetting that it's the cleverest witch of the age you're talking about, mate," Ron replied, grinning and pulling his girlfriend closer. Harry shrugged.
"Oh yeah. Forgive me and I'll worship at your oh-so-brainy feet."
Hermione just blushed.
"Honestly. It wasn't really that difficult." Harry snorted.
"Wasn't difficult? Hermione, do you remember how long it took Dumbledore and I to develop the whole idea?"
"All I'm saying is that it wasn't that difficult," Hermione said defensively, "I mean, Time Turner, think Apparate, hardly a challenge."
"For you, maybe," Harry pointed out, "Have you even thought what could happen if someone splinched themself?"
Hermione shuffled around awkwardly in her seat to face Harry, her brown eyes big and serious.
"Which is why this mustn't get out. You realise just how important that is?"
Harry nodded wearily.
"Hermione, I've got my work cut out as it is, explaining my disappearance and so on. I'm hardly going to have time to pen a thesis on time travel."
"So… you'll postpone the wedding?"
Ron's voice was hopeful. Harry smirked.
"Ron mate, you need to recognise a wind up when you see one."
Ron jumped like he'd been electrocuted.
"So… you're not engaged?"
"Don't push it," Ginny warned her brother, "But we are going to wait at least two years."
Ron sighed and slumped down in his seat.
"Well, I suppose that's something."
The room was quiet. The fire crackled, Crookshanks purred, the Weasley family clock ticked, but the people in the room were silent, enjoying, for the first time in months, being together again.
No, not Harry! Not Harry! Please not Harry!
Lily felt the tears pouring down her cheeks. Her chest was heaving, her limp hair plastered damply to her face.
A plaintive wail shattered in her eardrums, the wrenchingly high cackle dim in comparison.
My baby… My son…
I'm sorry Mum
It's the hardest thing ever…
Please, not my son…
The baby's gasping sobs snapped through the air, cracking into the numb fog swirling through Lily's brain. Her laboured breathing was magnified to the power of a thousand, snatched and precious. But the rest seemed far away…
The two words echoed through the labyrinth that had sprung up in her mind, without a trace of a plea, without one imploring note. Just conviction, just the strength that she'd need.
I'm with you, baby. I'll chase away the nightmares.
I'm sorry Mum…
Green eyes, sparkling with tears…
Green light, searing into her eyes…
There's nothing to forgive
OMG, it's finally over! Weird – euphoria, freakidikiness. I've forsaken an English essay to post this, are you lot grateful? Good.
So, first off, the last chapter. I know it jumps around but I'll post handy little time gaps if you want. Hopefully this chapter should have cleared things up.
Anyway, an apology for holding this for ransom. I feel bad about it (although it got the desired effect, I have to say. Nearly 300 reviews. But this time I'm going to ask nicely, not beg.)
Last off, a big thankyou to anyone who has read this. You're all fantastic, but off the top of my head, these are the people I'd like to thank.
Kat – you're a fantastic beta (sorry I didn't send this to you. Once again, my impatience got the better of me)
Welovedarcy – you're a lovely chum, if a touch on the mad side, I love you all the same.
Perkey Turkey – You rock, plain and simple
And the rest of the 'good little boys and girls' in no particular order, sorry if I miss any of you out
Robbie –cupcake girl, themaraudersaremine, meaghanpotter, reader4ever, pandasruletheworld, jadetheorkiller, thegodfatheroftheboywholived, iamSiriusgrl, haydenrocks14, anLDSdazedandconfused, Sirius black and remy, chrissy888777999, esmeralda01, Lily Evans Black Potter Lupin, Sweet Oklahoma, surfalldayanddothehula, twiggers, ColourofAngels, crookshanks03, realfanficts, Honey P, Marauderingly Magical, Prongs Luver, bbblfl, harrypotterfreak93, ALL OF YOU, DAMN IT! IF ONLY I COULD MAKE A FULL LIST!
So… for the last chapter of this fic (my baby for nearly a year, God I love this story) well,
Only Welovedarcy will fully get that. Jess does not care.
Oh, and for the record, I'm 13 years old. Started this when I was twelve, please don't laugh.