Title: Shards of Abyss
Previous Title: Beneath the Surface
Word Count: 90,000
Genre: Action/Adventure and drama
Summary: Manticore never intended to create wizards; brilliant geneticists have yet to find an adequate explanation for magic. And Ginny Weasley, a product of their creation, a transgenic and '09er, struggles with it too. Harry Potter crossover.
Disclaimer: Don't own any of this. Dark Angel belongs to Cameron and Harry Potter to Rowling. Just messing around with their concepts….
Author's Note: This is the last time. Seriously. I just wanted to spruce this up before showing off the sequel. The story is changed, drastically in some ways and not so much in others. A quick reread would probably help, and for anyone who's never read this before welcome, hope you'll enjoy the ride.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost - The Road Not TakenPrologue
Egypt wasn't exactly like Ginny remembered. The heat drew the air out of her lungs and suffocated her. The air was heavy and thick with humidity. Once, all that was a comforting familiarity, unnoticable even, but that was around the time when England was a foreign chilly island, full of nasal strangers. Home switched to a different country, and Ginny felt as much as stranger here as Ron must.
It must be true what they said. Never go back home; everything diminishes and tarnishes. Ginny couldn't bear it if the grandness of pyramids was only a trick of her mind, she didn't want to believe that her memory had glorified them. It hadn't glorified Bill, and Ginny nourished that hope. At least she could rely on her memory for a truthful portrayal despite everything wrong with it.
Bill slouched against a counter, chatting away to a brunette receptionist, his confident ease a stark contrast to her flushed cheeks and stiff posture. Ginny rolled her eyes, certain that it was Bill's charm rather than the heat to blame for that, and she interrupted them with a cheerful alacrity.
Bill was unperturbed by her interruption; he just grinned and pushed off the counter to give Ginny a hug. He loomed over her, at least a foot and a half taller, and she had to settle for hugging just over his waist. His soothing presence washed away any lingering fear that Tom Riddle imprinted in her mind. This was safety.
Bill pulled back, and regarded Ginny evenly, trying to find some sign that she was scarred for life like the news suggested, but Ginny just shot him a bright smile, and eyed him back. He hardly changed one bit. His skin was a light brown, evidence of the glaring sun he worked outside in. Bill was her eternal hope that she might achieve a tan someday. Usually he burned and paled, but long years and a blistering sun did its job, and bought out a tan on his skin. Contrary to Mum's wishes, his hair grew even longer, and was now tied back carelessly into a ponytail. No substantial differences. Maybe the pyramids were the same.
Bill's gaze lingered for several moments. Ginny didn't know what he saw. She didn't look much different at all, and careful examination in front of a mirror reassured her of the fraudulence in Tom Riddle's claim. She didn't see anything of him left over. Just Ginny. Same murky brown eyes and untamable mane of red hair, that already felt sweaty at the nape of her neck. Barely an inch taller, and Ginny still endured George's shrimp jokes, and haughtily corrected him with the word petite. Nothing to gawk at.
"Welcome back," said Bill, a wry little grin on his lips. He extended his arms in a generous flourish encasing Egypt.
"Here?" said Ginny and looked around the foyer pointedly. She hadn't exited or entered through the Floo route before. The bland reception centre held no familiarity for her, no nostalgic memories, or paranoia.
Bill shrugged in his unflappable way, sarcastic glint encased in his eyes. "Not as such, no, but I'm sure we could find one or two familiar places."
"I think I wanna be a tourist this time around, buy tacky souvenirs and check out the attractions," returned Ginny jokingly, easily entering the spirit of banter.
Bill poked her in the side. "They wouldn't let a trouble-maker like you anywhere near ancient important…stuff." He made a face, unhappy that he couldn't find an alternative to the word stuff.
"It could have happened to anyone," said Ginny, only a touch defensive, but the reaction was still there despite Bill's care not to broach the topic in an accusing manner. If it wasn't a sore spot for Ginny before, it now was considering with the diary last year. Magical objects had a grudge against her. And well, didn't bad things come in threes?
"No, just you, Gin, only ever you," said Bill. He shook his head, amusement dotting his freckles. His lips quirked up into an unintentional smile. Despite everything, or maybe because of everything, they always got along brilliantly.
Ginny put on a pout and nudged Bill in the shin. "You should encourage me to be unique unlike Gred and Forge over there. You're supposed to be the good example."
"No matter how hard you try to will always be 'unique'," Bill promised.
"That sounds like an insult," said Ginny. She narrowed her eyes at him. The evil stare wasn't entirely effective because she had to crane her neck. Lost its impact.
"Quite possibly," Bill agreed. He put a hand on Ginny's shoulder and steered her away from the receptionist over to the herd of awkwardly shifting red heads. Mum swept distractedly at the sand, idly bewildered about how it crawled onto her, but gave up when she noticed Bill and Ginny. Her eyes lit up upon seeing her eldest son and she grabbed him into a hug.
Several minutes later, the large chattering group strolled outside under the virtually cloudless vibrant blue sky. Ginny squinted up at it, and the brightness hurt her eyes. Yeah, she was definitely back in Egypt again.
"If you look to your left, you will see a camel," said Bill, settling into his role as tour guide. He made an expansive gesture at the disgruntled camel, and winked at Ginny.
Ginny rolled her eyes and lingered back as the others converged on the camel. She definitely wasn't getting any closer to the smelly beast. She didn't want to be that much of a tourist.
"How does it feel to be back?" Bill wondered. He shoved his hands into his pockets and watched with quiet amusement as his brothers examined the camel. He barely even noticed them anymore, just as Ginny felt about rain in England. Took it for granted, just a part of daily life, and Bill watched people see it through fresh eyes. She didn't know how he felt about it.
Or about her reaction, her indifferent interest in it all. She didn't remember much about her time in Egypt, that was a by product of Smith's carelessness, and to be expected, but she was well acquainted with camels.
"I'm not sure yet," Ginny admitted.
"Well, you might want to start making up your mind, because the next part of this tour involves exploring tombs. PTSD?" Bill shifted his weight unevenly making the sand to trickle under his shoes. He unleashed a deep breath, and waited for her reaction to the words he couldn't bring himself to say.
Ginny's stomach twisted. Her eyes snapped up to meet Bill's, her own wide with disbelief. Her mouth tried to form a question. Why would she have a problem with tombs? She had an active interest in them, no reason for concern, unless….and Bill nodded confirming her thoughts.
"You're going there?" Ginny demanded. Her eyes flashed, anger flaring up, and she put her hands up on hips. The foot and a half dissolved into inches as Bill cringed back from her stare. She couldn't argue with Bill poking around in those types of places, it was his job, but she couldn't give her blessing for their family to ignorantly wander in. It wasn't safe. They both knew well what happened to Ginny.
"This is the only time you lot will ever be here, and I don't want to hide a major part of my life," said Bill slowly. His face was angled to the ground, aware of his selfishness, and Ginny tried to find her own.
She didn't speak for a long moment, working her way through her thoughts. The tomb was safe. Dozens of experts investigated it for years, and nothing ever happened. She just didn't want them in there, because then she'd have to accept that she didn't want to be there despite the constant longing. Ginny was scared…and she really didn't want to admit it. What kind of Gryffindor was she?
"I'll be there the whole time," said Bill.
If he had been anyone else, Ginny might have lashed out with words designed to hurt and belittle. Accuse him of wanting a gold star from Mummy, needing someone to be proud of his efforts. Maybe it was true, but Ginny wasn't going to be the one to say it.
She closed her eyes briefly, the sun a warm orange glow on her eyelids. "I can't be there."
"I don't want you there."
Ginny was the only person to activate the tomb in centuries. It was literally dead except for her presence, her accident. Smith would jump at the chance for her to re-enter and investigate, but he was fired long ago for recklessness. Ginny didn't know what she did, and hundreds of scenarios and permutations were performed without success. No one knew, and out of caution wanted her anywhere near it.
Ginny wrapped her arms around herself. A shiver ran down her spine.
"I won't stay away forever."
Someday. When the finely honed instincts of danger muted, and didn't flare up like phantom pain from an old burn warning her not to touch the fire again, against repeating the foolishness of her action, she'd be back.
"But I will today. Go. It doesn't matter." Ginny struggled with a bright brittle smile that Bill saw through without a second glance. He wrapped an arm around Ginny.
"Thank you," he said softly, but his face didn't loose that pinched expression.
"Any updates?" Ginny asked. She should have changed the topic, but she was never satisfied with the meagre information she knew about it. Ginny even suspected that those in charge would prefer she knew nothing at all, but Bill told her the stories as she tried to reconstruct a past that was robbed from her. She always needed to know more, to understand what happened to her, despite having long since come to peace with it.
"Not really, no. No one has discovered anymore on what happened to you. Unique isn't a strong enough word for it. Anomaly, maybe?"
Ginny stiffened. She hated that word. Anomaly. It sounded so pretty and soft the way it rolled off the tongue, but it was a harsh bleak word. Goose pimples rose on her arms. Anomaly? It summed her up pretty well, didn't it? It explained the reason for the barcode stamped on the back of her neck; the string of numbers that made little sense, and that Ginny stopped trying to rationalise them sometime before Hogwarts.
33241007486. There might be a significant meaning hidden under layers of code. It was useless to interpret it, she didn't even have a clear understanding of what exactly a barcode was, just that it was some sort of Muggle invention. She hid the black and white lines under her hair. People asked annoying questions, easier just to hide the cause of the questions. She didn't know anymore than anyone about it.
Her life was a jigsaw without a picture on the box's lid and with vital pieces hidden under a rug somewhere. The pieces weren't even shaped typically, all random and bizarre, and it was Smith's fault. The Healers tried to call it amnesia, but they were just sugarcoating the truth. Her memory was wiped, plain and simple, and she only had a slim chance of recovering it.
"I take it that the Nile is on the agenda somewhere?" Ginny asked, dismissing her thoughts before Bill noticed her mind drifting to places best unvisited. He wouldn't want to know that she was obsessing. He didn't know there was a hidden meaning behind the question. Ginny wanted to remember something. Anything. She had seen the Nile before. It was hard to miss, and maybe, retracing old footsteps might remind her of some details.
"Today, if those dunderheads stop trying to rape the camel," said Bill, raising his voice so said dunderheads heard the insult.
Percy flushed a dark red, and quickly stepped back from the camel. He was the kindest to it, or perhaps the most fearful, kept his distance, content only to eye it with curiosity.
Ron made a face and mouthed the word 'dunderhead' to himself, before casting a surreptitious glance at his parents. He grinned at the censorship, well aware that Bill had several other words on the tip of his tongue.
"It's not rape – the camel is totally asking for it," Fred yelled back.
George nodded along. "Yeah, it's wearing provocative clothing, and leading us on. Complete slut."
"I suppose the camel tried to hitch a ride too," said Bill scathingly.
A pained expression flickered across Mum's face, but she didn't say a world. This was a holiday, her time off, and they were on Bill's turf. His responsibility. Mum didn't even know the entire story about what happened. It was a secret, relatively few people knew, and Mum wasn't one of them.
Ginny studied her parents for a moment. She would never tell them. And what could she even say? Ginny pushed those thoughts away, and tried to enter the joyous atmosphere, but her eyes were darkened with those undertones, unable to ignore it all.
She drifted away from the others, somehow managing to slip off unnoticed, and she wandered down the length of the Nile. Her dull eyes watched the tourist packed boats wander by, and examined the wares in stalls. Ginny trudged, the incredible heat bored down her back, and she couldn't work up the energy to walk. Her thoughts were vague and fuzzy, intentionally so, it wasn't the heat. Ginny allowed her mind drift, hoping that it would help her regain memories, knowing that it was useless to force it.
It must have worked, because she still saw the Nile, only it had a slightly different shape, as though someone changed the coastline. It was the awkward time between night and day when moths fluttered irritatingly nearby and merchants trooped home to the wafting smell of dinner. There was the slight weight and warmth of a hand on her shoulder while a voice trickled by her ears without her ever hearing the words.
And then there wasn't. Mid-afternoon resumed, and that brief moment was about as tangible as a dream. Bill's hand rested on Ginny's shoulder, his eyes stared at her face.
"Up to more trouble?" Although his tone was teasing it belied his heavy stare.
"Just…thinking," Ginny replied, and shook her head. She forced a smirk onto her lips. "About trouble of course."
Maybe she imagined it, the heat actually got to her head, and she wished so badly that her mind invented it. But maybe it was real. It didn't clarify or add to anything. It hardly mattered. Ginny didn't mention it to Bill and nothing remotely strange happened until the second last day of the holiday.
Everyone was inside the tomb. Ginny found a nice spot of sand and flopped down on it, making herself comfortable. She heard Ron wonder why she wasn't going inside and managed to bite her tongue at the cover story. Too young. Ginny just waved sarcastically and rested her head on her arms, dark sunglasses protecting her eyes. Surprisingly Mum didn't insist on waiting outside with her and Bill trusted that she wouldn't go in after them or wander off. Ginny didn't know where that trust came from but she wasn't going to argue against it.
She lay a hundred feet away from the tomb. She didn't have to wait so far away, but it was for her own comfort. She wasn't going any closer, but that didn't stop Ginny glancing around curiously, committing the scenery to memory for a second time. It was so innocent and unassuming, hard to believe the sinister implications that lurked inside. The yellow sand and blue sky gave none of that way. Ginny groped around for a vague memory of the place. Bill told her before that it was hidden by a magical force field, and first time around, she wouldn't have seen the tomb, accepted the illusion of sand stretching endlessly into the distance.
Ginny sat up, supporting herself on her hands, barely wincing now at the burning sand. The heat wasn't so tedious, although her skin was tinged pink by the sun. The colour would fade back to white. She could almost pretend that she never left, that she never arrived at the tomb, but was just wandering by.
The sand stirred under her feet, trying to make her slide, but her footfalls were confidant. Slow however, sticking to her companion's pace; a tall man, all limbs, and impossibly ancient. His cane sank into the sand, his pace sluggish, like he had all the time in the world.
"Who are you?"
"No one important."
An odd expression flickered across his weathered face. He murmured something, and in the immense silence his words were clear. Unfamiliar.
She repeated them. Her tongue mangled the words, producing them with different emphasis, too clumsy to produce the sound. She didn't try again, but asked, "What does it mean?"
Innocent curiousity. She liked words.
An odd glint appeared in his watery eyes, and a soft smile formed on his lips, his eyes drifted half shut. Peaceful, and if he weren't moving, she might have suspected his demise.
A chuckled escaped him, and it was harsh. He shook his head and refused to explain it, or his reaction. "I couldn't mistake your as the other, 486."
She shivered, but covered it up with sarcasm. "Good for you. Senility obviously isn't an issue then." There was an undertone of doubt in her voice.
She shifted away from the old man, and that moment became aware of an invisible force pressed on her skin, like pressure after descending deep under the sea. She wasn't sure what it was, there was nothing now but endless desert and the cloudless sky. They were far from the Nile, and heading further into the desert. People and society faded away, no more loud bustling crowds, only an eerie quietness.
"Good, because I know what's in store for you," he whispered, the powerful words crackled in their quietness.
"You're a fortune teller now, as well as a Doctor?"
"You don't believe?"
"No. It's a scam. The crystal ball is a dead give away."
His quiet confidence tried to make her doubt her words, pressure her into thinking that she was foolish for not believing but she was too rigid in her thoughts and selective view of the world for that to be successful. She didn't like second thoughts.
"Do you know what magic is?"
"It is the suppose art of invoking supernatural powers to influence; mysterious quality or power," she recited.
"Stick around Egypt for awhile, and you might see a few peculiar things that fall under the meaning of magic."
She was never one to back down from a challenge.
Ginny shook her head, her limbs quivered from the intensity of the vision. It came as a shock that she was sprawled on the ground and not walking along. Ginny's arms trembled under her weight, and she lay down again, vision playing in front of her eyelids. That wasn't wishful thinking. Real. A memory, and she couldn't deny it.
Ginny didn't know how much time passed, but everyone trickled out of the tomb. It was a though one second they weren't there, and then they were. No minutes in between, nothing but the memory. Ginny savoured it as though it was a gorgeous cake. It lingered on her tongue, enthralling her taste buds, and she chewed slowly, trying to get more enjoyment out of it than possible. And with great reluctance she swallowed the metaphorical bite of cake.
She would have her cake and eat it. Revisit years of memories, and eventually understand it all. Couldn't get where she was going unless she knew where she came from. Only maybe she could and it was an entirely different destination. Ginny didn't want that route. The future was spread out in front of her, so many paths that a crystal ball was useless, and it told the wrong story.
In her personal story she had to be the hero, because otherwise there was no story at all. Her role as a sidekick or love interest, or as anything but the hero, belonged to someone else's story.
Stories mingle together and deviate. They share similar events and feelings. Someone told Ginny that there were only several plots recycled time and time again, but this was her story.
It began with wanting more cake.