Chapter Six: Soul Bound
Harry was just climbing into bed when the door to his room opened and closed, seemingly without cause.
"I have a love-hate relationship with that cloak, you know," she grumbled, pulling it off to reveal a messy head and flushed cheeks. Harry laughed.
"Thank you," she said crossly, tossing the cloak aside to reveal her new nightgown and robe.
Harry's laughter died immediately. He stared at her, utterly speechless.
"Merlin, Ginny... isn't that supposed to cover... something?"
Ginny laughed, her eyes sparkling with mischief. "Does it bother you, Harry?"
"I... no... it just doesn't look very... warm," he swallowed.
"It's not supposed to be warm," her eyes glittered dangerously. "It's supposed to be warming."
"Oh, it's warming me up," Harry agreed, feeling his cheeks heat alarmingly. His heart was pounding so fast he thought for sure he was about to go into cardiac arrest.
"Don't you like it?" she asked, pirouetting in front of him.
Harry swallowed, very glad of the duvet covering him.
"I... yes..." he croaked.
"Move over, then," she said, slipping the robe off and grinning at the strangled sound that he made at that.
Harry fumbled for his wand and cast privacy and locking charms on the room, doubting anyone, even Bill, would get through them in a hurry, should they try.
"Thank you," she said, touching his cheek lightly.
"Getting me out of that one on one conversation with my mother," she smiled. "Having her take charge of the organization of our studies for NEWTs was inspired."
"She'll make sure we do it," Harry said, flushing lightly as he gazed at her, lying on his side, his head propped on his hand as he traced the shape of her chin with a finger.
"Oh, she'll do that!" Ginny laughed.
"It's important, Gin."
"I know it is," she agreed. "That's why I'm going to work my tail off this year so I can write my NEWTs with you and the others next June."
"I hoped you would," he smiled.
"I want to be married, Harry," her voice was soft. "I want to get on with our lives. This has to be done first."
"That's why you didn't offer me a full time position with the Order, isn't it?"
"It isn't my place to offer you anything with the Order, Gin," he said solemnly.
"You offered to Ron, to Bill and Charlie, to Remus, and Moody. To Hermione."
"Your dad and I had already discussed it, and he told me to go ahead."
"I love you, you know that?"
"I know," Harry laid back against his pillows, pulling her close next to him, her head
resting on his bare chest. "I have to finish this, Ginny."
"I know. Snape, and Malfoy..."
"They top my list, but they're not the only ones. There are dozens left out there. Why couldn't Voldemort have done us all a favour and had every Death Mark kill it's bearer when he died?"
"Too easy," Ginny smiled sadly. "Way too easy, Harry."
"We need a list of the ones that haven't been accounted for, then we have to track them down. Maybe we could figure it out if Scrimgeour seizes..."
"You think he wouldn't have done that already, if he could?"
"Yes. You're right. Besides, if we give the Ministry that ability, it's a slippery slope. Gringott's is secure because the Ministry can't stick it's nose in. And that is the way it should be."
"Anyone who was involved with the Dark probably knew full well that their assets could potentially be seized, Harry. They probably all had emergency stashes available to them, anyhow."
"When we find them, what are we going to do with them?"
"Try to capture them," Harry said softly. He left the rest unsaid. They knew that no Death Eater would come quietly... or willingly. Azkaban wasn't a nice place, and a Dementors Kiss wasn't exactly a preferable alternative. And, when they had a Death Eater cornered, they weren't about to let him go just because he fought back.
"Be careful," she whispered. "I can't lose you now."
"You won't," he said, kissing her gently. "You're stuck with me... or you will be, after we've done the soul binding."
"About that..." she flushed.
"I don't expect you to do that, Harry. Not... not really."
Harry pulled away from her and sat up. "It's not a matter of expecting me to, Ginny. I want to."
"Ginny, nothing... nothing could make me happier. Well, nothing besides you being happy. If I'd known about it..."
"No, you wouldn't have, so don't even say it."
"I would have wanted it," Harry protested, a little disconcerted that she knew him so well. He probably wouldn't have dared ask it of her.
"But you would never have suggested it. You still have a hard time with anyone loving you, much less wanting you, and only you, for eternity."
"Gin..." Harry moved, adjusting his position and wrapping his strong arms around his knees. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Do you think we might already be?"
"Already be, what?"
"Soul bound?" he looked back over his shoulder to where she lay against the pillows, the look on her face told him she hadn't thought of that.
"Well, if we're bound for eternity, that would suggest other lives in the future, right?"
"And if you believe in reincarnation, and soul binding, who is to say that this is our first go-around?"
Ginny swallowed, paled, then pushed back the covers and sat up.
"I... don't know."
"I know that you've... well..."
He flushed again, looking away. "I remember every minute I've ever spent with you, Gin. From the first moment I saw you on the platform at Kings Cross before my first year. You were barely ten, and I was just eleven, and Ginny, I could probably tell you word for word every conversation we've ever had. I... remember things about you. Things you do and say feel so familiar to me. It's like I've known you forever."
Ginny raised her eyes to his.
"Harry, do you know what it means if we... if we are already bound?"
"Um... that we've been together before?"
"Harry, if we're already soul-bound from a past life..."
She hesitated, then moved from the bed and grabbed her robe on the way to the door. "We need to find out."
"Meet me in downstairs in ten minutes," she said. "And you might want to put on some clothes."
Harry, concerned at her reaction, got dressed and followed her from the room.
"Ginevra Weasley! It's past midnight!"
"Mum, we need to talk to you!"
"And it couldn't have waited until morning?"
Ginny entered the kitchen, herding her parents ahead of her, to find Harry leaning against the counter, hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans. He saw that Ginny had changed into jeans and a jumper, and pulled her long hair back into a clip. He sighed with relief, knowing full well what Molly's reaction would have been at seeing her only daughter in the outfit that she'd worn to Harry's room earlier.
"Harry, what on earth is this all about?" Molly asked as she took a seat at the table. Arthur eyed them closely before sitting down beside his wife.
"I'm not sure myself, Mrs Weasley," Harry said as he joined them, holding out Ginny's chair for her before taking his own seat. "We were talking about the soul binding, then Ginny kind of... freaked."
"What?" Arthur said, glancing between the two.
"I... realized something. Something important," she explained.
"Ginny, a soul binding sounds more frightening than it is, love," Molly began, seeming to understand. "But certainly you shouldn't enter into it unless you're sure."
"Oh, I'm sure, Mum," Ginny said. "It's not that."
"Then...?" Molly looked at Harry, obviously wondering if he was getting cold feet.
"No, Mum. Harry and I are agreed. We just..."
"What if we're already bound?" Ginny asked in a great rush, her voice low, her eyes darting nervously between her two parents.
Molly and Arthur looked surprised.
"Do you think you might be?" Molly asked softly, worriedly.
"I..." Ginny glanced at Harry. "I don't know. It's just..."
"It feels like..." Harry started, his gaze never leaving Ginny. "It feels like we've known each other forever."
"I've always known that it was Harry," Ginny said softly, looking down at her folded hands. "Mum, you know what I was like when I was little."
Molly smiled. "You've always said you were going to marry Harry Potter. But..."
"Mum, when I was at Hogwarts, when... when it looked like, well, when I gave up on him. It was like part of me was ripped out. Then, when Harry broke up with me after Dumbledore's funeral..." Harry squeezed her hand. "I was numb, Mum. It was like... like I was on the wrong path."
"Ginny, love, that's not... that could be just..."
"I know what it could be, but I want to know what it is. If... Harry asked me whether I thought we were already soul-bound. That's why we found each other here... now..."
Ginny looked pained.
"No, Gin," Harry said quietly, reaching out and taking her hand in his again, suddenly understanding her distress. "I would have loved you no matter what. I will love you, no matter what. It will never be because of the binding."
"I think that you two may have the wrong idea of what soul-bound means," Arthur spoke. "It's not that you're bound to each other, and that you, and your future selves, have no other choice. It's not that you have no choice, if you've been bound in past. It simply means that your love is so strong, so complete, that it will take more than one lifetime to fully explore it together."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, Ginny's eyes were full of tears.
"I don't want to ever think that you're only with me because..."
"No!" Harry said, pulling her to him. "It's not like that, is it, Mr Weasley?"
"No. No, it's not. It's more. Much more."
"Ginny, do you understand what it means if you are already bound?" Molly asked quietly.
"Yes." Ginny nodded, meeting no one's eyes. Her hands, folded in her lap with Harry's hand over them, seemed to have become very interesting, as she studied them carefully.
"Harry, do you?"
"No," he admitted, but knew that from Ginny's reaction that there was something wrong.
Molly and Arthur exchanged glances. Arthur nodded, and Molly turned back to them.
"Harry, by the laws of our world, if you were found to be already bound... you would be considered already married."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, Ginny's eyes wide, Harry's dark.
"There is no such thing as divorce in our world. You know this. If you go ahead, and find out that it is, indeed, true... well, there is no backing out," Arthur spoke gently.
"How do we find out?" Harry asked, his eyes never leaving Ginny's face.
"Harry..." she looked up at him.
"Do you not want to know, Ginny?"
"Yes, I do. But..."
"I do, too."
"The spell is... well, I don't imagine your father or I could do it effectively," Molly said regretfully.
"No," Arthur said, standing. "I wouldn't even attempt it. I'm not nearly skilled enough in spell detection. But I know who is."
"Your brother worked for Gringott's detecting spells, Ginny. Made the bank a lot of money, from what I understand. I'm sure he'll be able to do this."
"Dad, it's nearly one in the morning..."
"Will you be able to sleep tonight, not knowing?" Arthur asked her.
"I..." Ginny glanced at Harry. "No. No, I won't."
"It won't take him long, and we'll know."
With that, Arthur left the room. Ginny and Harry held hands while Molly moved to the stove to make tea.
Five minutes later, she was just placing mugs in front of each of them when Bill came into the room, his hair pulled into a messy ponytail, followed closely by Ron, Hermione and Charlie, and then Arthur bringing up the rear.
"What's going on, for Merlin's sake?" Ron asked. "Dad said we were needed."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean for all of you to be up," Ginny said.
"Fleur said, whatever it is, I've got her vote," Bill yawned. "She only got Pascal back to sleep twenty minutes ago. What's up?"
"We have to know something, Bill, and you're the only one who can help us find out," Ginny explained.
"Then why did you get the rest of us out of bed?" Charlie asked grumpily.
"Witnesses," Arthur said cryptically, taking his seat back beside his wife and reaching for the cup of tea she'd made him. "Okay, everyone got a cuppa? Alright, Harry?"
"Bill, your parents seem to think that you'd be able to detect... well... a spell."
"A...?" Bill looked Harry in the eye, suddenly seeming to be fully awake. "You think that one of you have been cursed?"
"No," Harry glanced over at Ginny. "We're wondering..."
"We're wondering if we're already soul-bound, Bill," Ginny said.
There was complete silence for twenty seconds solid.
"You know what it means if you find out you are?" Bill asked, his voice gruff.
"Your Mum explained it," Harry said.
"And you're willing to accept whatever the answer is?"
Harry looked back at Ginny. "I want to be bound to her. If we're not, well, we will be soon enough, I suppose."
"I want to know, Bill."
"You know that if you are, once you know, there is no backing out? You'll be married, right?"
"Okay," Bill took a deep breath. "Mum, can you get me a bowl of water?"
"Water?" Molly looked at him oddly.
"Water, Mum. About three cups or so, in a clear glass bowl, if you've got one."
Molly looked at him again, then stood and moved toward the cupboard where she took down a glass bowl and moved to the tap.
Charlie looked surprised for a moment, then reached down the neck of his blue tshirt, emblazoned with "Dragon: The Other White Meat" and brought out a tiny silver jackknife on a leather thong. Pulling it off over his head, he handed it to Bill just as Molly placed the bowl of water on the table in front of him where he'd come to sit across from Harry and Ginny.
"Is it sharp?" Bill asked, studying the blade. Charlie didn't bother to reply, just looked at his older brother like he was a complete idiot. Bill smiled and nodded. Considering Charlie's line of work, it had been rather a stupid question.
"Okay, hold out your hands. Left hands."
They did as he said, watching him attentively.
Arthur looked at his son. "Bill, this isn't..."
"It's not the straight-forward detection spell, Dad."
"Then what is it?"
"Something a bit more revealing. Watch," Bill said, turning back to where Ginny and Harry had their hand out. "Okay, I... uh... I have to ask..."
Bill glanced at Harry, then at his little sister, and blushed. Harry knew when he saw Bill Weasley blushing that he was probably not going to like what was coming. He was really not going to like...
"Bill, just do it," Ginny instructed.
"Have you... um... have the two of you... in the last twenty four hours?"
Harry went beet red. Ron snorted, and Charlie began to chuckle. Molly simply looked horrified.
"No, Bill," Ginny said calmly, although her cheeks were pink and her eyes were sparking dangerously.
Harry wanted to die. The only thing that could be worse would be if the twins had been here. Thank Merlin for small mercies.
"Okay, good. You wouldn't have liked what you'd see if you had. We really wouldn't have liked to see it," Bill smiled, obviously more than a bit relieved. "Left ring finger, link them together over the bowl."
Harry linked his finger with Ginny's and held it over the bowl. The surface of the water glinted in the light from the overhead fixture.
"This might sting a bit."
With a quick movement, he nicked their grasped finders, and held Ginny's arm as she instinctively jerked back from the sharp pain.
"Let your blood flow together and into the bowl. There, that ought to be enough. Revisio!" Bill flicked his wand at the water in the bowl, and everyone leaned in to look.
It did nothing for a moment, then it began to undulate, and turn silvery. Harry thought immediately that it looked like the liquid memory in a pensieve.
Harry and Ginny drew their hands back at Bill's nod, but like everyone else, continued to watch. Molly whispered healing charms over the small cuts, taking her eyes off the bowl only for a moment to do so before quickly moving back to watch what was happening.
On the surface of the liquid, faces began to appear. Sometimes together, sometimes separate. A nun in a traditional habit, a man with long, dark, wild hair, then, two faces merging in a kiss. After that, an older couple, looking fondly at each other. Again, and again, faces were revealed. The water gradually cleared, the pictures fading away, the color gone, leaving nothing behind but the bowl of plain tap water that they had begun with.
"We didn't see it all," Bill explained quietly. "I'm tired, so I suppose that the spell wasn't as strong as it could have been, but... you got the picture."
"Yes. Quite literally," Harry said, amazed. "Thank you, Bill."
"But those people, who were..." Ron looked stunned. "They weren't...?"
"Harry and Ginny are already bound," Bill stated. "For many, many centuries, from the look of it. Congratulations, you're married."
"I..." Harry looked down into Ginny's shining brown eyes.
"You two understand that I am required to file a copy of this memory at the Ministry of Magic as soon as possible?" Bill asked. "By law?"
"Tell the world, Bill," Harry said with a smile, his eyes never leaving Ginny's. "I intend to."
Ginny laughed, and Harry kissed her lightly.
"Well, that changes things considerably," Arthur commented.
"Does it ever," Ron snorted, leaning back in his chair.
"I'm happy for you," Charlie said. "But it's nearly two in the morning. I'm knackered. I'm heading back to bed."
Rubbing his eyes, Charlie stood and left the room.
"Come on, Ron," Hermione stood, taking Ron's hand.
"Tomorrow, Ron. Come on," she glanced at Ginny and Harry. "Goodnight you two. And... congratulations."
"Thanks," Harry said, his eyes still not leaving Ginny's. He couldn't seem to look away. "We'll talk in the morning."
"Mate, it is morning," Ron grumbled, standing and following his wife.
"Later, then," Harry said absently. "Goodnight, Ron."
When they heard the door swing closed after Ron and Hermione, they finally looked up. Bill still sat facing them, Molly and Arthur were seated at the far end of the table.
"I'll file the memory tomorrow. Your marriage date will be officially recorded the moment I do. I guess June first is it, then."
"Thank you, Bill. For everything."
"You're welcome, Harry. Well, I'm for bed. I'll see you lot in the morning."
"So," Harry said after a moment's silence. "What now?"
"Well," Arthur sighed. "We're in uncharted territory here, Harry."
"It's common knowledge that bound souls are considered married. It's also common knowledge that the Ministry requires the wizard or witch who confirms a soul-binding to register it, just as a marriage would be, but..."
"It's not as common as you might think to have a situation like this," Molly said. "Those who choose to be soul-bound seldom bother to see if they already are, and those who don't choose to be certainly wouldn't investigate to see if they already were... it carrying the ramifications that it does. So... it's not often that a couple are found to be bound before the wedding..."
"Mrs Weasley, if you want..."
"That has to be your decision. Regardless of Ginny's age, she's now a married woman, with the rights of a married woman. In our world, she's now considered a fully adult witch, her father and I have no more say in her decisions."
"We can talk more in the morning," Arthur said softly.
Harry looked up at the older man to see dark circles beneath his pale blue eyes.
"I'm sorry for keeping you out of bed, Mr Weasley."
Arthur smiled. "You'd better make that 'Dad', don't you think?"
Harry looked nervously at Molly. She still hadn't really shown much of a reaction beyond... acceptance? Molly Weasley didn't normally do 'acceptance' very well.
"Or simply 'Arthur', if you prefer," he said, noticing Harry's hesitation.
"No," Harry turned back to him. "Dad. Thanks. Goodnight."
"Ginny..." Molly began.
"Come, Molly, let them sort themselves out."
"Molly, do you remember? What the binding was for us?"
Molly's eyes darkened as she looked at her husband of nearly thirty years. "Of course."
"Then let them sort themselves out, love."
"Of course, Arthur. Good... goodnight Ginny. Harry."
"Goodnight," Harry said, watching them go. Ginny was silent.
A moment later, they were alone. Ginny stared down at her hands while Harry stared at Ginny.
"Are you okay?" he asked when it became apparent that she wasn't.
"I'm..." she looked up, the expression in her eyes was a confused one.
"Are you okay?" she asked in a low voice, her eyes not quite meeting his.
"I couldn't possibly be better," he replied, taking her left hand in both of his, touching the tiny pink mark where Bill had cut her, which Molly had quietly healed.
"I'm pleased at this, Ginny. Aren't you?"
"Ginny, if you want to..."
"You have no choice now, Harry," she said, her voice held a sob.
"Who said this wasn't my choice?"
"Are you sure?"
"I've never been more sure of anything in my life."
"We're bound. Soul-bound."
"It explains so much, Harry."
"It does," he agreed. "But nothing that I needed to have explained."
Ginny smiled, wrapping her arms around him and holding him close.
"How many lives do you think we've shared?' she asked.
"Not enough. Ginny?"
"Will you marry me?"
"You've already asked me that. I answered you, and now look where we are," she laughed softly.
"No, I mean, can we still have a wedding? Will they let us redo the soul-binding?"
Ginny pulled back, looking up at him curiously. "We don't have to, Harry. By wizarding law, we're married."
"I know. But... I don't remember the last time. I'd like to see you in wedding robes. I'd like to do that. I want to be able to remember it, Gin."
Ginny touched his cheek gently. He looked like a little boy asking to be allowed a later bedtime, but not expecting agreement. She smiled.
"What say we hand it over to Mum?"
"I don't care who makes the arrangements."
"She'll be thrilled."
"Your family is..." Harry sighed. "They're brilliant, Ginny. I don't think you really understand just how special the Weasley family really is."
"Our family, Harry. Not just mine. Not anymore."
"Yeah," Harry laughed. "Our family."