Chapter 11: Coming Clean
AN: It's been a long time, eh? Sorry about the delay, folks. Two things happened: 1) I completely lost interest in H/G. I've since jumped ship to HP/DG (sorry H/G fans!). Indeed, my move to HP/DG was so sudden and so complete, that for the longest time I couldn't convince myself to write and H/G at all. But now, I've gotten so many reviews/PM's berating me for stopping at a cliffhanger and begging me to continue, that I feel obliged to pick up my pen again. Bear with me folks, I might be able to finish this yet!
TWO IMPORTANT POINTS TO NOTE:
1. A quick reminder- Another Chance obeys JK's canon only up to OotP. That means there's a Prophecy, but there aren't any Horcruxes or Hallows.
2. Ginny comes across Harry's memories in this chapter – during these memories, the ellipsis ( ... ) indicates I'm skipping over a portion of what Harry said, either because it pertains to what's canon in JK's books, because it's otherwise boring or because it has already happened in this book.
Previously, on Another Chance ...
"That night when you asked me whether it was okay to kill a man for the greater good. I can add two and two together, Harry. What would you have done if you hadn't thought of Everlasting Sleep? Killed him?"
"No, Ginny, please ..."
"I don't care. Harry," she said, tears forming in her eyes. "Five years in Azkaban! Where did you learn it from anyway? Forget it ... I'm going to Dumbledore. You've lost it Harry."
And with that, she left the room.
"No!" Harry said wildly, chasing after her and and pulling her back into the room. "Please don't go to Dumbledore ... I'll ... I'll tell you why. I'll tell you everything."
"I'm all ears," she said, eyeing him critically.
He took a deep breath. "Meet me on the Seventh Floor in front of the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy in about five minutes."
She nodded and swept out of the room. Harry hurried to the Gryffindor common room and raced up the staircase leading to his dorm. He had to nearly empty his his trunk before he could find it – two large, corked vials filled with a swirling silver substance. Not pausing to put everything back in, he rushed out and ran to the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy as fast as his legs could take him. Ginny was already there, tapping her foot impatiently. He didn't say a word; instead, he paced in front of the tapestry three times.
I need a room to show Ginny my memories, he thought. I need a room to show Ginny my memories ... I need a room to show Ginny my memories ...
Ginny gave a startled yelp as a door appeared on the wall next to her. Harry held the open for her and she entered. He followed her in and saw that the room had become a place rather similar to Professor Trelawney's classroom, except it was without the musty perfumes. In the centre of the room was a bowl with runes carved all over it. It wasn't a pensieve – pensieves were extremely magical objects which he doubted the Room could create – but it would serve his purposes.
"Do you know what a hologram is?" he asked Ginny. She shook her head. "Never mind, it's a muggle thing ... anyway, here, take these." He handed her the vials he had brought with him.
She looked at him oddly. "What do I do with these?"
"These are memories ... well, one of them is anyway. The other is a recording of sorts. It will tell you everything you need to know. Just tip them into that bowl over there one by one; don't put them in it together at the same time because it will overflow. You can read those runes, right?"
"Yeah ..." she said, squinting to read them in the dim light.
"Those are the instructions. You can't actually enter the memories because it's not a pensieve, but that recording will play out on the surface of the bowl. It will also tell you what to do with the memories," said Harry. He paused for a second. "Are you sure you want to do this right now? Wouldn't you rather wait until after the Task? Your Mum and Bill are here; they've been invited to come watch it."
"Bill is here?" she asked, looking at the door longingly.
"Yes," said Harry. "We can do this later ..."
Ginny looked grim. "No, this is important. Tell them ... tell them I fell asleep or something."
"Okay," said Harry, checking his watch. "Listen, I have to be at lunch or I'll be missed ... those are several hours' worth of memories, but you should be free by the Task. Just promise me ... promise me you won't tell anyone about what you see here. Not before we talk about it at least."
She nodded, somewhat reluctantly. "I'll see you before the task then."
He nodded and left the room, making his way to the Great Hall. The Weasleys and Hermione had saved him a seat.
"Where'd you run off to?" asked Ron, his mouth filled with pudding.
"Ginny wanted to meet me," he said absent-mindedly. From the corner of his eye, he saw Bill do a double-take and Mrs Weasley looked less than pleased.
"Where is she?" asked Mrs Weasley. "I thought she would want to meet us."
"She must have fallen asleep," Harry lied. "She never actually met up with me. I made one of her dorm-mates promise to wake her before the Task though." With that, he returned to concentrating on his food. Bill continued to look at him suspiciously, but Harry didn't care. He was too busy hoping and praying that Ginny would believe him, and if she did, that she wouldn't hate him.
On top of that, he was finally starting to feel pangs of nervousness about the Third Task. This was what he had come back in time for ... the be-all or the end-all. He wasn't particularly scared of facing Voldemort – he had done that often enough for the novelty to wear off. He was more worried about what would happen if he actually failed to reach Voldemort. What if the imposter Moody forgot to remove some obstacle he didn't know how to face? Or if one of the other champions reached the Cup before him? He wished Ginny was there right then, to rub his back and to tell him that he was being an idiot. But then, Ginny would probably never want to speak to him again by the time she was done in the Room of Requirement, he thought dully.
His chain of thoughts, however, was broken when the sensation of someone rubbing his back filtered to his mind. He turned around and saw that it was Hermione.
"Don't worry," she said kindly. "You'll do marvellously."
He smiled gratefully at his honorary sister and felt some of the tension leave his body. Mrs Weasley was looking even more displeased. He wondered if Ginny had corrected her assumptions about Hermione's role in the Witch Weekly article as well. She must have, because Hermione had received a second Easter Egg too. Perhaps Mrs Weasley didn't believe her or something.
Harry groaned. This dinner was far more tense and far less cheerful than it had been the last time around. He was glad when the enchanted ceiling above them turned purple and Dumbledore announced it was time for the Champions to leave for the Quidditch Pitch.
The Weasleys and Hermione wished him luck as he got up and fell in step with Krum, Cedric and Fleur. The Pitch was nearly unrecognisable now and there was no sign of the towering goal posts. All he could make out were the tall hedges and the black, ominous opening in them which he assumed was the entrance to the maze.
Behind them, the crowd started filtering into the stands, and with his heart thumping in his chest, Harry waited for Bagman to begin making the necessary announcements.
When Harry left, Ginny grit her teeth and stared at the bowl in front of her. She hoped Harry had a reasonable explanation, but it seemed unlikely. He was using the Dart Arts, for Merlin's sake! She tipped the contents of the vial which contained Harry's recording. The silver substance turned pearly white and swirled around in the bowl. She jabbed her wand at a rune and twisted it. The contents of the bowl moved faster and faster. The pearly white colour slowly separated itself, leaving behind a colourless liquid and forming a fifteen inch tall figure. It appeared to be a person seemingly standing just above the surface of the liquid and as its shape and features cleared, Ginny could see that it was Harry.
"Hello Ginny," said Harry quietly. "I'm making this recording about a week before the Third Task. It's supposed to find its way to you if something happens to me in the Task, if I don't manage to get back, because you deserve to know what's going on.
"The truth is, Ginny, I'm not Harry. Well, I am, but I'm not the Harry you know. I'm from the future, a time-traveller." - Ginny groaned. So much for a reasonable explanation - "I know, it's rather unbelievable. But that other vial of memories you have is my proof. Those are several hours' worth of memories there, and to forge all of them would take several lifetimes. If you don't believe me, ask Dumbledore. He'll know.
"The point at which I came back in time was the night before the First Task. You and Hermione probably noticed I changed after the Task, and you also probably chalked it down to my spat with Ron." - Well, that much was true, Ginny thought - "But it's not that; it's because I had a whole new set of memories and experiences affecting me, and affecting who I am.
"I suppose the logical point from which to start is the First Task in the previous time-line. It wasn't much different, but the events following it were. For example, I asked Parvati to the Yule Ball. That was a big mistake; the night was one of the worst nights of my life. I had so much more fun this time around ..."
Ginny could only stare in astonishment as Harry went on to describe the events leading up to the Ball, the Second Task. He spared no detail, explaining every small event and its significance. Her mind went blank as it tried desperately to process the massive amounts of information being thrown at it. But the real shock came when Harry approached the point on the Third Task.
" ... I convinced Cedric that we should take the Cup together, and he helped me up. We both grasped one handle each and, instead of the hedges falling away, we were whisked away to a muggle graveyard. The Cup was a portkey. I heard a shout, "Kill the Spare!" and somebody flung an Avada Kedavra at Cedric. It was Voldermort. Wormtail was with him, and he was the one who performed the Killing Curse. He killed Cedric, tied me to Voldmort's dad's tombstone and prepared some bizarre Dark ritual with three main ingredients – bone of the father, unknowingly given, flesh of the servant, willingly given, and blood of the enemy, forcibly taken.
"Long story short, Voldemort regained his body and his powers, called his servants and duelled me. By a miracle, I managed to survive ... Our wands are brothers. That was why they refused to fight each other. Voldemort didn't know this so I managed to use this and escape with Cedric's body.
"The Cup took me to Hogwarts, where Dumbledore entrusted me to Moody while he dealt with Cedric's parents, the Ministry and the crowd that had come to watch ... Moody took me to his office ... It was Barty Crouch Jr. He was Voldemort's spy. The real Moody was locked up in his trunk. Fortunately, Dumbledore came just in time and stunned him. He told Snape to fetch Veritaserum, and revived him. Barty revealed the whole plot ... he was the one who had killed Crouch when Crouch stumbled onto Hogwarts. Transfigured him into a bone and buried him in Hagrid's dirt-patch ...
It made sense, Ginny realized. Obscure and unbelievable as it was, it made sense. Somehow, she couldn't imagine Harry coming up with such an elaborate lie. Slowly, as Harry moved from his fourth year to his fifth year, the pieces started falling into place. How Harry had discovered Occlumency, how he knew Snape used it, why he thought it was so important. Fifth year turned into the sixth as Harry described the start of his journey towards defeating Voldemort.
"... of course, I just had to play the hero and get caught. You, Ron and Hermione busted in and managed to get me out just before the Death-Eaters portkeyed me to Voldemort. You were amazing, Ginny. You took out three Death-Eaters in the blink of an eye. That was when I first started falling in love with you ..." - Ginny blushed - "Dumbledore had been hinting for a long time that Voldemort had gone through certain rituals, but he never went into the details. I don't think he wanted me studying the Dark Arts if it could be helped. But this time, I took Hermione with me. It was amazing. She beat Dumbledore in a huge, massive argument, and I'd never seen the old man look so dumbfounded as Hermione through logic after logic and point after point at him. He finally consented and told us all he knew. On top of that, Hermione convinced him to allow us unlimited access to the Restricted Section provided we didn't abuse it.
"The Restricted Section helped us more than we could have hoped. Hermione researched Voldemort's rituals, while I searched for spells and hexes and anything else that could give me an advantage over Voldemort. That's when I started studying the Dark Arts – don't look so afraid, you were right there with me, researching and practising hexes and curses. Luna and Neville helped where they could, but since Dumbledore hadn't allowed them access to the Restricted Section, they could only go over Hermione's notes. And Ron ... well, he's Ron. He helped us practise, but he stayed as far away from the library as he could ...
"It was Luna who discovered something very important – that I'm a Water Elemental. That helped me more in the final battle than you could ever know ..."
Ginny watched in fascination as Harry revealed how they had gone on to discover some of Voldemort's inner-most secrets and how they had discovered the means to reverse the rituals he had undergone. It was a few years before they could perfect them, and Harry mostly skimmed over those years, detailing only the very important events. Neville, Hermione and Ron were attacked and subsequently murdered. That was a major setback, but Luna came through, picking up where Hermione had left off and finishing up her research project.
"It was only then that I realized how essential Hermione was to our operation. That's why I'm so close to her now ... with Luna's research finished we only had to wait until Voldemort came for me. That time wasn't too far off. He attacked Hogwarts and we fought. I used the last of the spells Hermione had derived and he fell, this time permanently ... I wouldn't have come back even then, but you were killed, and I ... I couldn't bear to be without you. Luna helped me come up with this ritual, and here I am, back in my fourth year ...
"... when I came back, I intended to ask you out as soon as I possible could. But I didn't go through that because of a nagging doubt in the back of my mind. Was I taking advantage of you? Would you even want to be with me after you found out? That's when I decided you needed to know. I didn't know when to do it, but when I started having nightmares again and you told me to talk about them, I had the idea of teaching you all Occlumeny ...
"... the night I asked you what to do about Crouch. That was why I had to use Everlasting Sleep. If I hadn't, his son would have killed him at the slightest possibility of recovery. And if I left him conscious, Dumbledore would never let me face Voldemort and all would be lost ...
"A week from now, I'm going into that maze, and I'm going to take that Portkey. Wormtail will use my blood to revive Voldemort and I will let him As soon as he has returned, however, I'll finish him off. This time I know how to do it ...
"Hopefully, you found this recording because you were snooping around in my trunk and not because something happened to me in the Task. If it's the latter, I'm sorry. I've failed you again. Take the second vial to Dumbledore and he'll help you view it. Let him see it with you; it's important. Hopefully, with the knowledge contained herein, Voldemort will be finished off before there is a significant loss of life. I love you, Ginny. Please take care."
Ginny groaned. She believed him, though she didn't want to. Life had been so much simpler not knowing ... For the first time, she wished she hadn't pushed Harry to tell her what was going on. A couch appeared and she sat down, rubbing her temples and trying to process it all.
Then, as she sat there, a small piece of information – something Harry had mentioned in passing – started nagging her. She scratched her head, trying to figure it out, and then, it hit her like a ton of bricks. Like a dart, she leapt off the couch and ran to the Quidditch Pitch as fast as her legs would take her.
AN: Thanks for reading! This chapter has been three years in the writing, and barring some minor fixes it was almost completely written at the start of those three years. Please review and let me know what you thought, and if there are any improvements you think I could make.
At the suggestions of a few readers (strangeways, Guest), this chapter has been edited to move some of the AN's that were interrupting the flow of the story to the top of the chapter.