Disclaimer: Except for a few characters borrowed with permission from whydoyouneedtoknow, this is Jo Rowling's beach, and she has been kind enough to allow persons such as myself to play here. All I'm laying claim to is the design of this sand castle.
When the Wind is Southerly
Chapter 21: Hurlyburly's Done
Harry put the books he held in their proper place on the shelf, then headed for the door. "Hi, welcome to Foyles Books," he recited to the two people who'd just come in, "is there anything I can help you find today?"
Then he looked at the customers.
(Please say I'm seeing things.)
(If you're seeing a fat lady and a fat ugly guy, then you're seeing exactly what I'm seeing,) Ginny answered. (Don't you have work to do? And I want to talk to Luna. I've almost got her to admit to who she's been sneaking off to see.)
"Dudley needs a copy of Macbeth," the woman boomed. Harry winced. Yes, it was definitely who he thought it was. So much for never having to see Aunt Marge again. "And I hear this is the only store in Britain with autographed copies of Valentina Jett's Happy Ending."
"Actually, we're the only store in the world with autographed Valentina Jett novels," Harry corrected. "They're displayed in the romance section, over there—" He pointed. "And sir, the Shakespeare is in with the literature, thataway—" He indicated the appropriate direction.
She took two steps, then turned and gave Harry a piercing glance. "I know who you remind me of. My brother's brat of a nephew. Potter."
"My name is Harry Potter," Harry said stiffly. (Why the hell am I getting so mad?)
(Who's this?) Ginny asked.
(Uncle Vernon's sister. She had a positive gift for driving me up the wall.)
Marge nodded sharply. "Glad to see you found a way to contribute to society, instead of burdening everyone else, like your father did..."
"I do not appreciate you slandering my father," Harry said quietly, clenching a fist. "Is there anything else I can help you with, ma'am?"
(Still has a positive gift for driving you up the wall, I see,) Ginny observed.
Marge eyed him. "I'll be sure to tell the manager of this store that he may want to rethink his hiring decisions. Though perhaps he was simply desperate for an extra set of arms, if he was fool enough to hire you. It won't surprise me at all if you end up out on the street—you're as worthless as your parents—"
"I am proud," Harry said with all the calmness he could muster, "to be my parents' son. Now, is there anything else I can help you with, or may I return to my job now?" He didn't wait for an answer, instead turning and walking away. "I'm going on break," he snapped to Hermione as he passed the counter. Once he was safely in the back room away from everyone's eyes, he took a deep breath, concentrating, and filled the room with fire.
Five minutes later, he was calm enough to let the fire die, leaving everything unscorched. (You were mad,) Ginny commented.
(I don't know what the hell it is about her, but every time she starts in on Mum and Dad, I manage to keep my temper for about thirty seconds. Except when Sirius came for me, but I was distracted. I don't even get this mad this fast when Malfoy insults my parents.)
(I was about to tell you what Luna told me, because it'd distract you nicely, but on second thought I don't think you want to hear it.)
(No, tell me.)
(Well, Luna's dating—no, I don't think you want to know.)
(You've only made me curious, you realize.)
(Yeah, I know...but you see, she's been sneaking out to London and spending the night with the Tonkses...)
Harry blinked. (The Tonkses. As in Meghan's Aunt Andromeda.)
(The Tonkses as in Andromeda,) Ginny confirmed. (Who is not just Meghan's aunt.)
(You know, I knew Luna's crazy, but this takes crazy to a whole new level.)
Ginny laughed. (She says he has hidden depths.)
(Yeah, I'd like to see hidden depths with him,) Harry muttered. (I'd like to throw him off a bridge and let him explore his hidden depths...)
Aletha flicked her wand around her study, returning all the books she'd been using to their shelves. "There's half next year's curriculum sorted," she said in satisfaction. "And I can get the other half tomorrow, when I can discuss it with Remus." Hogwarts students had been discovering for the last four years just how interesting, and interconnected, the subjects of Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts could be when properly taught.
Not to mention how fast both of them change. Aletha looked at her reflection in the window and widened her eyes in pretend astonishment. Why, when Remus started teaching, lycanthropy was still considered incurable! She winked at herself, and at the others she knew were watching her somewhere. Contrary to popular opinion, I can take a hint.
Her mind returned to her job as Potions professor at Hogwarts, a post she'd shared for two years with the mysteriously magically crippled Severus Snape to let her finish her Healer's training, then taken over completely as of two years ago. She didn't think it was either egotistical or unrealistic to notice that during the time she had been teaching Potions, and Remus Defense (a position he'd held for a record four years and showed no signs of ever wanting to leave), the number of Auror applicants had jumped dramatically.
Including, to Sirius's eternal dismay, our daughter's boyfriend. Though I think it's just the fact that our daughter has a boyfriend, rather than who it is, that bothers him. Neville Longbottom, after all, was the very definition of respectable, just as his father and mother were.
And with them back in action and showing him all the sides of the profession, it's not as if he's making an uninformed decision. Besides, the war is over, and we're unlikely to get any more Dark Lords around here for a while, not after Voldemort disappeared without a trace. Any young Dark wannabe has to take that into account—where did he go? What happened to him? And could it happen to me?
Ginny dove around the Slytherin Chaser, stole the Quaffle from his hands, and threw it straight at Harry. It slammed into his chest with all the force of a Bludger. "Didn't—have to—throw it—that hard," he gasped out, and passed back to Ginny.
The inability to breathe did not go away.
(Dammit,) Harry grumbled. (What now?)
(How should I know?)
(Right. Waking up now.) Harry closed his eyes, then opened them to a room dark with night. Alex's usual quiet snores were absent—oh yeah, he went to spend the night playing video games with Matt—ogle Matt's pretty sister, more like—so the only sound was quiet breathing six inches above his nose. (Well, that explains that.) "Hello, Toodles. Would you please get off of me? I kind of like breathing..."
The weight shifted off of him, but there was no other reaction. Harry sat up and grabbed his glasses, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the lack of light. There was, he discovered, precisely one shape of the right size to be a three-year-old, and that one was sitting on his bed. "Wait a minute, you can't be a Toodles. There's only one of you."
A giggle, quickly silenced.
"What's up, My?" Harry asked.
"Mark's dreaming again."
Harry sighed. 'Mark's dreaming' meant only one thing. (Why does she always come to me?) he wondered. (She goes right past Sirius and Letha's room, she goes right past Meghan and Hermione's room, she comes right up to Remus and Danger's room, she passes Alex, and she comes straight to me. Every single time Marcus has a nightmare when I'm home, she comes straight to me.)
(Maybe she thinks you get too much sleep. How you can, I don't know, when most every waking moment we're studying so I can take the N.E.W.T.s with you so we don't have to deal with us going nuts after three days apart again, but maybe she thinks you get too much sleep. Now will you shut up so I can get enough?)
(Okay, okay...) "Lead the way."
Maya jumped off the bed and ran to the doorway, down the hall through the hidden archway to the Black side of the Marauders' Den, a little further down the hall, then right and left into the second bedroom, quite as large as the first thanks to magic, straight to her brother's bedside, with Harry following close behind, flicking on the twins' light as he passed it. Mark was tossing around and moaning, which didn't surprise Harry at all. They were all used to Mark's nightmares by now, even if hardly anyone quite believed, or wanted to believe, Letha's idea about why he got them.
Harry scooped up the toddler and hugged him tight. "Mark," he said quietly. "Mark. Come on, wake up. Mark. Listen to me. You're dreaming. Mark."
Mark stirred and blinked brown eyes, then buried his face in Harry's shirt and started crying.
"What's wrong, Mark?" Harry asked, rubbing Mark's back. "What did you see?"
"Me ghost-man again," Mark said between sniffles. "Didn't like you. Fought you. Hurt you. Avva-kedavva. Ginny an' baby. Didn't like them. Wanted to hurt baby. Told her to move. She didn't move. Avva-kedavva. You wake me up."
Harry, practiced at translating Mark-speak, had no trouble interpreting 'me ghost-man' as 'I was seeing through Voldemort's eyes', and of course 'Avva-kedavva' was a three-year-old's way of saying 'Avada Kedavra', but the rest wasn't so clear. If he's attaching names to the dream victims, then they must have been clear enough to be sort-of recognizable to him—the one he thinks is me must be a tall black-haired man, and 'Ginny's' a redhead woman, with a kid littler than Mark is...
"I'm here," Harry said quietly. "I'm here. I'm all right. Ginny's at the Burrow, you'll see her tomorrow, she's fine too. Everybody's fine, everything's all right. It's just a dream."
Except it's not...
"Mark, look," Harry said, and snapped his fingers, conjuring a fireball, which he drew the heat from and handed to Maya as a toy. A second snap summoned a second fireball, which he shaped into a myriad of different things, attracting and holding Mark's attention. The trick, as always, was to keep the creativity far enough ahead of Mark's attention span for long enough that the nightmare could be pushed to the back of his mind.
"Tell abou' angel again?" Maya asked, stretching her fireball between her hands.
"Okay." Harry shaped Mark's fire into a girl with wings, then made her soar around the room. "There's a special angel up in the sky whose most important job is watching over Toodles. Her name is Sarah, and she would have been my baby sister, except that my mummy died before Sarah could get born. So Sarah decided to watch over the baby sister and brother I did get. And that's my Toodles." He rubbed the top of Mark's head, then reached down to squeeze Maya's shoulder. "My very own..." The words were overtaken by a huge yawn.
"Harry sleepy?" Mark asked, looking up.
"Yes. Harry very sleepy." Harry snapped his fingers, putting out the flames. Maya pouted, and Mark sighed as his 'angel' disappeared. "Sorry, Toodles. Maybe we can do more fire tomorrow."
"Sarah's gone," Mark said sadly.
"No, Sarah's not gone. She's still here. You just can't see her." Harry made room on his lap for Maya and cuddled both twins against him. "She'll always be here. Just like Meghan's friend Neville will always have his angel named William. Always there, and always watching over you."
"I like Sarah," Maya said sleepily.
"Me too." Mark yawned.
Harry rearranged the three of them and lay down between the twins, who cuddled up to him, one on either side. The bed wasn't big enough for him, really, but he wasn't about to carry them both back to the other side of the house, Mark was already going sleepy again, and it wasn't like he hadn't slept there before.
"Sweet dreams, Toodles," Harry whispered. "Sweet dreams."
This story is not yet over, of course. No story ever truly ends. Every day the characters live on is a continuation of the story. Even if a storyteller concludes the tale with the words "rocks fall, everyone dies", the story is not over, though perhaps what follows is beyond human imagining.
But there are many, many stories, added to a little every day, that are no different in most respects from the stories of the people I write of. The parents of twins, for example, can easily envision Sirius and Aletha's story from its similarities to their own. This story is more complicated than most, because of who their son was, but the differences go no further than Marcus's nightmares of enjoying hurting people and consequent aversion to hurting people, and are not significant enough to speak of any further. Similarly, Shakespeare wrote of Benedick and Beatrice with more skill than I could bring to telling the story of Ronald and Hermione. It is only the setting of this play and the faces of its players that have changed.
Then, of course, there are the stories that brush the edges of other stories. Many of the major characters in the story I have told you are minor characters in another story, equal in complexity. But I do not care to tell stories in which the major conflicts are political in nature, and the tale of Draco and Luna Malfoy and Alexander and Amanda Lupin and the ending of much of the wizarding world's prejudice against Muggles and Muggle-borns is not, I believe, a tale you care to hear.
There is nothing, then, I can speak of to continue this tale that your own imagination cannot supply. Perhaps your telling of the story shall differ from the truth in the details, but perhaps not. And so this story has come as close as any story ever can come to
A/N: Well, this was a fun ride. Doubly so after that left turn past Albuquerque round about chapter six. All questions should have been answered by now. Anything else, ask in reviews, I'll answer. Now to find another runaway train of thought to jump aboard...
Reviews are good. Flames are bad. Praise is nice. Constructive criticism is preferred. Questions are welcomed. Proper grammar is appreciated. Email addresses are required if you want a reply. Clear enough?