Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: Ginny/Harry/Draco in various styles and worlds, written as responses to thirtyforthree's first theme set. Experimental.
Author's Note: I am going to ask that you READ THIS NOTE all the way through. It is VERY IMPORTANT.
I wrote "Fixation, and Other Stories" as a set of theme responses for the thirtyforthree livejournal community. At first, I had no intention of letting any of the stories, drabbles, or character study vignettes interlock into anything like a unified story or timeline. Except then some of them did.
"Fixation, and Other Stories" is arranged in a pattern of alternating chapters. The odd-numbered ones contain two fics each and are all part of a single timeline -- "Fixation" -- while the even-numbered chapters -- the "Other Stories" part of the title -- contain three fics each and have sod-all to do with each other. The only consistent inter-chapter link is that they all deal with the same three people: Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley, and Draco Malfoy. (Each even-numbered chapter does, however, have an internal thematic link, like 'dystopian future' or 'crack AU.')
Basically, I was just having fun and trying bizarre things out to see if they would fly or crash. Some flew. Others I'm still not sure about.
Thanks to Elaine K. for beta-reading.
Gethsemane -- 12, alone
Draco watched Potter, sometimes, and wondered what it was like to be a Gryffindor. Some of it he wouldn't touch on pain of death -- that idiotic, self-righteous conviction that they would always win because they were the Good Side, for example -- but to have friends who could laugh without a thread of calculation underneath, or to have the world assume he was innocent until proven guilty, instead of the other way around...
He wondered. He saw Weasley's sister kiss Potter, watched something crackle between them as strong as obsessive hatred, but different, not draining, and he tried to see how they could find something bright in this year, tried to see if he could learn their secret.
Then he remembered how easy it was to make people turn on the golden boy, how friends argued instead of getting things done. He remembered his father in Azkaban, his oath to the Dark Lord, the broken cabinet hidden away, and time panting hot on his neck. He wrapped his arm around Pansy, felt her body curve against his, and told himself to focus. There was no secret, nothing but Gryffindor blindness.
He turned away so he couldn't see Potter smile.
Vision (Quantum State Collapse) -- 19, time
The trick about Time Turners was that you could change anything within twenty-four hours... so long as you hadn't actually seen it happen. That was what Hermione had eventually concluded, after weeks of research in the library and careful consideration of what she and Harry had done to help Sirius and Buckbeak escape. They hadn't actually seen Buckbeak killed -- they'd only assumed he'd died, because of the axe falling and Hagrid carrying on. And then Harry'd had to rescue himself, because he'd seen himself doing it already, even if he'd thought it was his father.
It was like Thestrals. It didn't matter if you sat right next to a dying person -- if you didn't have your eyes open and you weren't watching at the exact moment of death, the magic didn't take and you still wouldn't be able to see the spectral horses.
Hermione still hadn't figured out why so much non-incantory magic was tied to sight. She'd decided it would make a good research project, once the war was over and she'd worked out a way to take her NEWTs despite not attending her seventh year.
But anyway, sight. Sight was key.
"Did you actually see the curse hit?" she asked Harry as he paced around the clearing. Ron lay slumped at the foot of a tree where she'd stunned him for his own good, and Neville and Luna had gone to Grimmauld Place to gather supplies.
Harry shook his head. "I was watching Malfoy. He went white, shouted, and threw the Portkeys at us -- there was a jet of light behind me -- then she was falling. Then the Portkeys activated, but her body isn't here! Do Portkeys work on... on..." He couldn't seem to get the word out.
"They might," said Hermione, "if the death was recent enough. Magical signatures linger for up to an hour, unless the death was caused by the Killing Curse; that overwrites the normal rules. But that's not the important thing. If you didn't actually see the curse hit -- if you didn't see her die -- then there's a chance we can rescue her." She opened the locket she'd taken to wearing since they left Hogwarts and whispered the spell to activate its link to her magical storage box. Then she pulled out an hourglass on a fine golden chain.
Harry gaped. Hermione flushed, and said, "I sort of borrowed it from the Ministry at the end of fifth year, before we ran into trouble. I thought -- well, it was dreadfully useful in third year, and I thought it might be good to have one, just in case."
"Hermione, you are bloody brilliant," breathed Harry.
"Language," she said with a sniff, but he just smiled and held out his hands for the Time Turner.
Hermione set the hourglass in his palms and let the golden chain puddle around it. She looked aside as Harry slipped it over his neck. "First, I'd see if you can slip a Portkey into her pocket this morning, set for one or two seconds before the ones Malfoy used, and make sure you're waiting with healing spells at the exit point. If that doesn't work, you'll have to sneak into the crypt again, judge the time-jump exactly right, grab her, and Apparate out before the curse hits you both."
She paused, frowning. "You might want to grab Malfoy while you're at it," she added reluctantly. "He did warn us, inadvertently or not, and throwing Portkeys is an awfully ineffective battle strategy. True, it kept us from finding what Voldemort might have stored there, but it also kept the Death Eaters from capturing us. I'd like to ask him some questions."
"I have things I want to ask him, too," said Harry, sounding unusually grim. "If anyone knows where Snape is, Malfoy will. But you're right, he didn't have to warn us. I'll see what I can do."
He flipped over the hourglass and vanished.
Half an hour later -- clearly Harry hadn't internalized the rules of Time Turners, which would have let him return almost before he'd left -- a rush of displaced air signaled an arrival via Apparation. Hermione looked up from running her hand through Ron's hair... and lowered her wand in relief.
Ginny leaned drunkenly on Harry's left shoulder, yelling a slurred tirade into his ear. Draco Malfoy, wandless, pulled his hand off Harry's right arm and stalked to the far side of the clearing. Harry seemed torn between amusement and stress, masked by a sort of giddy elation.
"It worked?" asked Hermione, not quite daring to believe her eyes.
"Yeah," said Harry, helping Ginny sit and lean against a tree. "It worked."
He limped over and handed the Time Turner to Hermione. "Thank you," he said in a hoarse whisper, as the chain shimmered and pooled in her hand.
Hermione felt the chain bite into her skin as her fingers clenched around the hourglass. She closed her eyes and listened to Ginny's exhausted cursing, Malfoy's stream of irritated questions, Harry's ragged breathing, and Ron's soft snores. She could smell fire and smoke lingering in the air brought in with Harry's Apparation, and she could taste blood in her mouth where she'd bitten through her lip in nervous anticipation.
Then she opened her eyes again and tried to fix this clearing, these people, into her mind. Time Turners only worked if you didn't see something. If you saw it, it couldn't be changed.
Nobody was going to change this moment.
AN: Thanks for reading, and please review!
Further Note: In "Vision (Quantum State Collapse)," Hermione explains one of my two theories about Time Turners, in which sight is their key limitation.
My other theory says that if you know an event happened, you can't change it -- knowledge, in this case, being defined as either personal sensory experience, or being reliably informed by someone or something else (conversation, newspapers, etc.). If you simply assume that an event happened, from circumstantial evidence, you can change it. If you think an event might have happened, but don't let yourself find proof that it occurred, you can change it.
You can also escape a current situation simply by going back in time and not getting into it again -- when your 'past' self uses the Time Turner and vanishes, your 'current' self continues with whatever you were trying to do. Notice that this doesn't erase the past -- its effects are really more like teleportation than standard time travel. (This 'escape hatch' works for the vision theory as well, by the way.)
Anyway, my second theory -- about knowledge being the key -- covers the class Hermione missed after Harry and Ron told her she'd missed it. Because they told her she hadn't been there, she knew she hadn't been there, and thus couldn't go back in time and fix her oversight. For this story, however, I'm handwaving that by saying that either she was too tired to think of going back and attending the class before the twenty-four hour time limit ran out, or she didn't want to change Harry and Ron's memories (and thus delete that whole conversation and give herself even more things to keep straight) over one lesson. So sight, rather than knowledge, becomes the key to changing the past.
It's all down to quantum dynamics and epistemology, really. :-)