Center of the Circle

MarauderMac.

All creative thoughts and ideas are credited to Ms. J.K.R.

Ch. 14 Hard to See

"Harry?"

"Uh-huh?" Harry asked without looking up from his calculations on the parchment before him. The myths he had found on the ancient Druid circle were fascinating, but there was no way they were real... were they?

"Harry," Ginny asked again with a slightly more pleading tone in her voice that got Harry's attention. He looked up and saw his beautiful wife standing in the doorway of the second bedroom turned library/office in the tent they currently lived in.

"Gin, is something wrong?"

"No, well no, not really. I think-- no, I know I'm happy, but I'm not sure about you. Well, I think you'll be happy, but it'll be hard-- not that hard is bad. What I mean is that I think you'll be excited, but it's complicated and-"

"Ginny," Harry interrupted with a smile. "I don't actually have any idea what you're talking about."

"Oh, right." Ginny then looked down at her shoes and shifted from the doorway to sitting on the edge of the desk Harry sat behind. "I-- I was late."

"Where were you going?" Harry asked her confusedly. Ginny couldn't help but smile a little at her husband.

"No, not late... late. Like late late," she explained to her hopelessly clueless husband.

"Late? Oh." There was a long pause as Harry simply sat with his mouth slightly open and his eyebrows up into his hairline staring directly to her stomach. Ginny gave him a moment to think about it, but after it became clear that she would get no reaction from him she decided to plow on.

"So I made the potion to check and I.. I'm--"

"Pregnant," Harry said quietly.

"Yes. That."

"Wow."

"Um... good wow? Because I know we talked about waiting until the war was over and about the other thing, but Hermione said once that the contraceptive potion is only 98 percent effective. What are you thinking about?" she babbled nervously. Harry looked into her eyes and saw the beginning of large hot tears just waiting to roll down her freckled cheeks. The sight of her almost in tears flipped a switch in Harry, and suddenly all the worry and the doubt that had been festering since before the first time he and Ginny had slept together completely melted away.

For a kid raised like Harry, children of your own was a frightening and wonderful prospect. To Harry, the opportunity to give the kid or kids everything he never had was tempting, but the fear that he would screw them up, just like he almost was, terrified him. Somehow, though, looking into Ginny's big worried eyes, Harry knew he'd be okay. And even though the world was at war, and people all around him were fighting and dying, Harry couldn't help but think that this child would be a little ray of sunshine in the darkness that enveloped the Wizarding world.

Harry couldn't help the smile that split his face in two, and looking into his wife's eyes he could see how relieved she was. Instead of speaking, Harry leaned in from his chair and lifted the hem of his wife's shirt. He rested his chin on her thigh and spoke directly to her belly.

"Hey kiddo. What's up?" Ginny's stomach began to shake as giggles overtook her.

"Harry, come on."

"Shh, Ginny," he told her seriously before turning back to her belly. "I'm Harry, by the way. I'm your dad. And that was Ginny; she's your mum. She's pretty cool; I think you'll like her. I know I'm pretty fond of her."

"Your Daddy is very silly, little one," Ginny said to her stomach as well.

"I am a little silly. Oh, it's going to be so great when you're young. You're going to think I am so cool, but once you turn 15 you're going to hate it. I'll embarrass you in front of all the girls you bring home and tell stories about running around the house naked."

"No, I won't let him. Also you might be a girl... in which case it would be boys."

"Unless you're a lesbian," Harry added quite seriously.

"Yes, unless you are a lesbian," Ginny conceded with a smile.

"So whoever you bring home as a date-- girl, boy, muggle, hermaphrodite, barn animal--"

"HARRY! Our child will not date barn animals, and what in the world is a hermaphrodite?"

"It's when you're born with both girl and boy parts on the inside."

"What?! You made that up. Don't worry, little one-- he just made that up."

"Kiddo, I am not making it up."

"Harry, Sirius is trying to wake you up," Ginny told him suddenly.

"What?" Harry asked, surprised. This isn't how it happened. Sirius was dead; they lived in a tent that they moved every week. Next Harry was going to kiss her stomach and then they would... right there on his desk...

"You fell asleep on the couch, and he's shaking your shoulder."

"How--"

"HARRY!" a loud, obnoxious voice rang in Harry's ear.

"WHAT? What? What's going on?"

"Just me, kiddo. You fell asleep on the couch. That and you've got mail."

"Right. Asleep. Merlin, that was a weird dream."

"Yeah, what's a hermaphrodite by the way?"

"Oh, it's another term for godfather," Harry said flatly.

"Oh, never heard it before. Anyway, you've got mail from Romania. I think it's from Ginny."

"Ginny? Really?" Harry asked, instantly awake and excited. His godfather-- or the hermaphrodite as Harry now privately called him-- laughed and got up to fix the coffee while Harry followed him in and found a square package sitting on the kitchen table.

"So what was your dream about?" Sirius asked before Harry could open the package.

"Oh, um..." Harry said slowly trying to think of something less personal than what really happened that day on his desk.

"One of those dreams. I get it," Sirius said with a slight chuckle.

"It was... not," Harry told him unconvincingly. Sirius just laughed harder. "It was when she told me she was pregnant."

"She... she was pregnant? When?"

"Just a few months before I came back. She was just showing when she died." Harry gave a small laugh and smiled sadly at the memory of his beautiful wife. "She was self-conscious. She was always so petite, and once she began to put on weight she kept telling me she was gross and going on and on about her fat ankles. Women, huh? That is just about the strangest thing to be self-conscious about."

Sirius didn't say a word. How could he? He had never been married, never had a girlfriend for more that a few months, and there sat his 11 year-old godson talking about his pregnant wife. It was times like these that Sirius felt like the child. Times like these he wished even more for James to be there to know just what to say to Harry to make it okay. To make losing everyone and everything you love okay.

"So, why don't I open my present, huh?" Harry said after waking from his memories. He slowly ripped open the card and read aloud to his Godfather.

"Dear Harry,

Romania is excellent! It's so cool here. I've never left England before and Romania is so different. I've seen lots of different kinds of dragons, but we're not aloud very close to them. We're coming home in a few days so I'll owl you then, but I wanted to send you your present. It's from Ron and me, but I picked it out-- don't tell him I told you that. Have fun and see you in a few days.

Ginny"

"Well, what did she send you?" Sirius asked between sips of coffee. Harry ripped open the paper to find a small box with another, smaller card on top. He opened the card first and read aloud again.

"I found this in one of the little shops in town. Don't worry, no animals were harmed for the making of this snitch."

"What does that mean?" Harry asked, looking to Sirius.

"Well, it could be... I have no idea-- just open the thing."

"So pushy in the morning," Harry grumbled as he finally lifted the top off the box. A small, green, leather snitch zoomed out of the box and spread its leathery bat-like wings.

"Wow, that is so cool."

"You can't have it Sirius," Harry said quickly.

"What? I wasn't--"

"Yes you were. But you're right; this is awesome."

"You should write her a thank you and an apology letter," Sirius said as he took another sip of coffee.

"For..."

"Your crappy gift."

"My gift was great! You don't know anything," Harry said defensively. The worry over what to get Ginny had been slowly wearing on Harry for almost a month. He would think of plenty of things he would like to get Ginny, but unfortunately most of them weren't really appropriate for an 11 year-old to get a 10 year-old. Sirius had been as unhelpful as was imaginable. Diamond necklaces, Caribbean vacations and large jungle cats for pets may have been okay one day, but that day was not today. Instead he had settled on a simple gold charm bracelet with exactly one charm-- a snitch.

"It'll blend in with the grass and be really hard to see," Sirius said from his chair.

"I know; it'll be great," Harry said enthusiastically.

"You're the only person to ever complain about the snitch being to easy to see."

"I never said that, but when I'm by myself there's less competition."

"True, I guess. Still," Sirius said as he refilled his coffee. "You going to write her?"

"I don't know; when are they going to get back from Romania?"

"Well--"

"Harry! Sirius!" came a call from the other room. Harry immediately knew someone was calling through the floo, and if that voice was who he thought it was then fate really was a funny friend.

"Ginny!" Harry said as he skidded to a halt in front of her floating head.

"Hey Harry, can I come over and hang out?"

"Yeah, come on."

"Five minutes," she said quickly and pulled her head out with one last smile to her best friend.

"Ginny'll be here in five minutes; I'm going to change," Harry yelled as he ran up the stairs to his room. Harry had just pulled a jumper over his head when he heard feet running up the stairs and finally someone knocking on his bedroom door.

Instead of answering he took the few steps to the door and pulled it open.

"Eeee!" Ginny said in a high-pitched squeal as she enveloped Harry in a hug. "I love my present! It's so pretty-- and you'll never guess what Charlie gave me."

"No, I'll never guess," Harry told her with a huge smile on his face.

"No, come on. Try!"

"A baby elephant."

"No."

"Your own Quidditch team."

"No!"

"A dragon charm for your bracelet."

"N-yes! How'd you know?" she asked, astounded.

"I wrote your dad to tell him what I was getting you, and he wrote back saying Charlie might get you something for it too. And to check if that was okay."

"Wow, you're so organized."

"Wisdom with age, my friend," Harry told her with a smile. They talked for an hour or so sitting up on his bed. They had exchanged letters all semester, but it wasn't the same, so Harry ended up

telling all his stories all over again. They were sitting against the headboard side by side laughing and giggling when Harry suddenly had to tell her how much he missed her.

"I sure have missed you, Gin. Best friends are hard to come by." She smiled and blushed at his statement, but as a true sign to how much she had changed she reciprocated.

"Yeah, next year will be so great, though we won't have class together."

"Eh, classes are overrated-- that's not what school is about anyway; it's about your older best friend helping you with all your home--"

"Is that true?" came a voice from the doorway.

"Ron! Hey, when did you get here?" Harry said happily.

"Is she your best friend?" Ron asked with a surprising amount of sadness in his voice.

"I... well--" Harry stuttered and looked at Ginny. He was half expecting her to be looking up at him imploringly or even hurt that he hadn't said 'YES!' immediately, but instead she was just looking at her brother.

"Don't answer that, Harry. You don't have to pick favorites or rank your friends. That's unfair."

"I... I--" Ron seemed at a loss for words, so he just stood there looking at his best friend and apparently his best friend's best friend. They kind of matched, he thought. They were both petite and thin with strong features and pale skin, bright eyes and the same joy and laughter when they were together. The realization that he would always be second best of the Weasley clan to Harry was a hard pill to swallow, so instead of sticking around he just fled.

"Ron!"

"What is going on here?" Sirius said from door. Without moving the three left in the room heard the floo activate and knew Ron had left.

"Harry?" Sirius asked quietly.

"He-- he just--"

"I should go after him. See you, Harry. Thanks for my Christmas present."

"Oh, okay-- and thanks for mine. You can come over before I have to go to school and race me to it, if you like," Harry said hopefully.

"Okay," she said with a smile before leaving down the stairs and out the fireplace. Sirius and Harry stood in silence for several long minutes before Sirius finally broke the silence.

"What was that about?"

"I don't know; I think Ron's mad at me. Little early for this timeline, though."

z

- - - - -

The rest of Harry's break went relatively smoothly. Harry was convinced, though, that his friend had really gone crazy, or he had. Several days after their last encounter, Ginny and Ron came over for a little two on two quiddich out in the snow. Ron was his same old self. Attacking Harry with snowballs when he least expected it, playing chess, discouraging him and Ginny from any sort of book related activity or talk. He was the same old Ron that Harry knew and loved. This begged the question; had Ron gone mad or had he? Did Harry miss the conversation where they decided to just pretend the whole thing didn't happen? Ron and he were friends, close friends, but they were nowhere near the Gryffindor trio legendary status. They hung out and played games and did homework, but Harry couldn't imagine ever being closer to someone than he was with Ginny. It just wasn't possible.

He did feel bad for Ron. He was getting the short end of the deal; he just didn't know it yet. With time, though. Perhaps with time he would be able to tell his friends. Tell them that he loved them and fought for them. Tell them all the horrible ways they died and that the only reason he had befriended the 11-year-old versions of them was to try and recapture the magic of that old friendship. On second thought, he would absolutely without a doubt not be telling them.

- - - - -

Well, everyone, another chapter under my belt. Slow but stead wins...something. I forget. I've started the next chapter but from now on you can only expect chapters once a month. I'm sorry if that's too long a wait for you, so if it's any consolation I neglected my paper on Faulkner to post. On an unrelated note if any of you have written papers on Faulkner you'd like to share...

Anywho- my reviewers Writachicka, Kitsune-Hanayu-Hime, I.Am.A.Dreamer, killroy777, DemonOfShadow, Aria Dragoncrest, Feathertail1021, GinnysLove, Ton Tongue, Hello.I'mMarySue, Pleione, Bluebird-named-lulabell, hpnut1, Sylkie, Innortal, PSTurner, buffalo1fromSalem, Nightwing 509 and Priya Ashok thanks for the words of encouragement.

Turnlach- Beast is just going to be an enigma for now, sorry.

AngusH- Not being hopelessly boring and repeating the canon is pretty much my main goal. So thanks.

King of Vaypouria- Way to pull out obscure HP canon knowledge. I like Sinistra because I get to almost entirely make her up. We have very little idea of what she's like so that's fun.

Kehlencrow- I interpreted the cracking of the stone as more of a result of de-horcruxing the thing and not of the actual retrieval. THink about it- if Tommy wanted to get at the thing he had to be able to fast (the boat). And if to get this thing you had to damage it would be totally illogical.

Silver Warrior- I agree. DH wraps up the horcrux's and hallows so nicely that I couldn't hope to improve. The very premise of my story is that everything goes horribly wrong- hence the time travel.

Anyway I want to thank all my awesome reviewer. I'm waiting to hit that awesome 300 mark. Maybe this chapter. Everyone who loves HP, super long fics, and me should subscribe to my C2. 100,000 Sixth, Seventh and AU Harry Potter. With a snappy name like that how can you afford not to?

Cheers,

Mac