Je Suis En Vie
By Harry and Ginny 4eva
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
~ George Orwell
Chapter V – L'allée
The last thing you could say about Harry Potter was that he liked to reminisce. When he was a child, he wished he could remember something of his parents to reminisce about, but all he could think of was the Dursleys, which he preferred to think about as little as possible.
When he was at school, all he could reminisce about was his dangerous excursions, which also, unsurprisingly, he preferred not to think about. In fact, the only time Harry ever found himself reminiscing was last year, in the long lonely hours, where he thought of Ginny and about their time together.
So when Harry found himself sitting at the Burrow and reminiscing about the previous day's visit to Andromeda Tonks's house, he was, to say the least, surprised. Yet Harry couldn't help but think about Teddy. About how his life was going to be so different from his. And how he, personally, would take care of that.
"You there, mate?"
Harry stopped stirring his bowl of cornflakes and looked at Ron blearily. "Huh?"
Ron rolled his eyes. "You've been stirring that for some time, it's not edible anymore."
Harry looked at his cornflakes and indeed, all he found was a few of them floating around the edges of the bowl, looking soggy and sodden. Not feeling hungry anymore, he pushed it away.
"What's on your mind?" asked Ron, gulping down his pumpkin juice.
"Teddy," sighed Harry.
"How was the visit? Didn't you like seeing him?" he asked, shoving half a sandwich into his mouth and chewing nosily.
"No, I did. It's just that I'm his godfather… what am I supposed to do as his godfather? I'm lost! Am I supposed to help Andromeda pay for things? Food? Diapers? Should I visit him every day? Is he going to live here? I have no idea what to do!" Harry rambled.
Ron looked gobsmacked. He obviously didn't give much thought to what it meant to be a godfather. "Er- I have no idea, mate…maybe you should ask Mum for help, or Dad, they would know, right?" he said, looking confused and taking another bite from the sandwich. "What's diapers?"
"I just want him to have a normal childhood, you know?" said Harry, furrowing his brows, obviously never hearing a word Ron said. It's not like Sirius gave him a good example of what a godfather was supposed to do, being a fugitive and slightly irresponsible.
"He's gonna be fine," said Ginny, who had just entered the kitchen, half dressed, and was grabbing herself a large bowl off the shelf.
"Morning," said Harry, getting up. He was still slightly distracted by his thoughts about Teddy, but Ginny entering the kitchen woke him out of his reverie, forcing him to remember he had other things to do than sit and brood.
"Are you going somewhere?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Er-yeah," said Harry, realizing he needed to leave as soon as she entered the kitchen. "I think I'm going to go down Diagon Alley today. We talked about going there, but never did because of Kingsley."
Ron snorted. "You two didn't. Hermione dragged me there to buy her new books," he said bitterly. At Harry and Ginny's incomprehensible looks he added, "She decided to go back to Hogwarts."
Ginny smiled happily. "Oh, good! I won't be alone!"
"You have Luna," muttered Ron. "Why Hermione?"
"She was going to go back anyway, Ron. Did you really think she wouldn't?" asked Ginny. "And besides – you're just jealous because she'll be away from you."
Ron reddened. "What if I am? We just started going out, we don't need to be apart so soon…" he trailed, turning even redder.
Ginny glanced at Harry. "So are we, Ron, but I don't see Harry making a fuss, do you?"
Now it was Harry's turn to go red. Did she want him to make a fuss about it? Of course he wasn't happy they would be apart, but he didn't really think about it until she mentioned it.
"Harry is already used to it, aren't you Harry? He didn't see you all last year," Ron explained, realizing his mistake only by the time he finished the sentence.
Ginny's face changed color so fast that Ron dropped his spoon. "Sorry," he said quickly, looking scared. "I didn't mean to-"
"Save it, Ron," hissed Ginny angrily. "As usual, you show you are nothing but a bluntly ignorant, idiotic, selfish, self-centered jerk," she said angrily, slamming her bowl onto the table, splattering drops of milk all over the table.
Ron flinched and turned redder but Mrs. Weasley coming into the kitchen stopped him from saying anything else and Ginny from cursing Ron into oblivion.
"Watch your language, Ginny," said Mrs. Weasley, frowning at her. "It's not appropriate for a young lady to speak like that."
Ginny ignored her and turned to Harry "Do you mind if I come with you? To Diagon Alley?"
"Not at all," said Harry quickly. "I'll just go change, if you don't mind."
"I'm coming with you," said Ron, swishing his wand to levitate his bowl to the kitchen sink.
"You weren't offended, were you?" asked Ron, peering at Harry anxiously as they climbed up the stairs. "I really didn't mean it like it sounded."
"I know, don't sweat over it," said Harry. "Did Hermione really buy all her books four months in advance?"
"She's crazy," said Ron with a goofy expression Harry hoped not to see ever again on Ron's face. He averted his eyes and thought about Ginny.
His relationship with Ginny had taken a strange note the last couple of weeks. On the one hand, they were talking a lot, enjoying each other's company and even holding hands sometimes, but on the other hand, it didn't seem as carefree and happy as it did while they were at school. Something was missing.
"How did Hermione know which books to buy? We usually don't get the booklist until July," asked Harry, trying to change the direction of his thoughts.
"She wrote back to McGonagall, asking the full list," said Ron. "I always knew she was crazy. But while we're on the subject, what are you going to do in Diagon Alley?" he asked. "It's not like we have school or something, you don't need to buy anything."
"I was thinking about going to Gringotts-"
"Are you insane?!" interrupted Ron, looking incredulous. "We broke into one of the vaults! One of the high-security vaults! Do you have a death wish?!"
"No, I just thought-"
"Did I hear you say you're going to Gringotts, Harry?" asked Bill, who appeared from one of the rooms, looking like he just woke up. Harry nodded. "The Goblins are furious at you. You've caused them a fat-load of mess," Bill continued, closing the bedroom door behind him, probably to keep Fleur from waking up.
Ron looked victoriously at Harry. "But they're not stupid. You're Harry Potter, having you as a client is crucial to them, especially now," finished Bill, erasing the smug look off Ron's face.
"But-" started Ron.
"The Goblins know that it's a crucial interlude for everyone. Wizards who supported Voldemort are being outcast, as well as organizations and stores," said Bill, looking grave and tired. "Having Harry withdraw his money from the bank would be like admitting they were linked to Voldemort."
"I…well, I guess I never really thought about it," said Harry, looking at Ron sheepishly. Bill started going back into the room but turned after back after a few steps.
"Oh, and Harry?" Bill said, grinning. "You're legal now, so you can access your parents' vault. Make sure you mention this to the goblins." He closed the door behind him, leaving a gaping Harry behind him.
"My parents' vault?" Harry exclaimed. "I thought I already have a vault!"
"I suppose your folks had another one," said Ron, looking slightly surprised.
As soon as they entered his room, Ron threw himself on his bed and spread his arms and legs. Harry opened Ron's closet and pulled a set of robes. Since Harry had left the bigger part of his wardrobe at Privet Drive last July, he had been traveling with two sets of robes, occasionally borrowing a pair of Ron's when his were in the laundry. Mrs. Weasley constantly nagged him about going to buy new clothes, and he thought today was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
"Do you mind if I borrow those?" asked Harry and turned to show Ron the set of relatively hole-free set of robes.
"Sure," said Ron with his eyes closed.
"Are you going to sleep?" asked Harry disbelievingly "We just woke up!"
"I'm tired!" said Ron.
"RON!" Mrs. Weasley's voice carried into the room. Ron groaned.
"WHAT?" he answered. No response came so he got up heavily and left the room, leaving Harry to dress.
No more than ten minutes later, Harry and Ginny Apparated into Diagon Alley. Ginny was still grabbing Harry's hand from the Side-Along Apparition when suddenly, out of nowhere, a bright flash blinded them for a second, followed by a small cloud of grey smoke.
Harry whipped his wand out and blindly shot a Stunner to the direction in which the light came from, grabbing Ginny's arm harder and pulling her down with him.
"Harry!" Ginny's yell stopped Harry's heart for a second as he looked at her, panicked.
"Are you okay?!" Harry asked, looking around with his wand raised, trying to see through the smoke.
"I'm fine!" Ginny said, breathing a slight laugh, "It was just a photographer!"
"A what?" said Harry weakly, standing up slowly and turning for the first time to look at the man he stunned.
And indeed, the man who was now lying on the floor had a camera in hand and a slightly shocked look on his face. Harry thought that if he hadn't been feeling so anxious it might have been quite comical. He cursed loudly.
Ginny laughed. "He should have known better, sneaking up on Harry Potter like that."
Harry, whose heart was still pounding irregularly, cursed again. He bent down again, so his head was hovering right in front of the man's nose, and murmured the counter-curse him. The man started, obviously not expecting to see Harry Potter's face in front of his nose. He gaped and breathed deeply.
"Don't ever bother me again, you hear me?" said Harry in a dangerously low voice. "If I catch you taking my photo again, I -"
"Harry, stop," commanded Ginny, looking angrily at the man and grabbing Harry's arm and with a surprising force, lifted him up. "Go," she said to the man.
The man did not hesitate for a second, and quickly disapparated. Ginny turned to Harry, looking slightly surprised.
"You didn't have to be so aggressive, you know," she said, still holding his arm.
Harry was ashamed - he had reacted rather strongly. He sighed and took Ginny's hand. "I know…I just hate having my picture all over the papers," he tried to explain sheepishly, walking into Diagon Alley.
Ginny sighed and let out a small laugh. "At lease he won't bother you again; you scared the man half to death!"
Harry laughed. "I seem to be doing that a lot lately," he said, making Ginny laugh again.
"So where do you want to go first?" asked Ginny, looking around the familiar alley. It looked a lot better since the last time Harry had seen it. Most of the shops were open, and some even had their old twinkling signs back on. The alley itself seemed to be glowing with light and there was no sign of the gloom and grey.
"Gringotts, I think," said Harry. Truthfully, visiting Gringotts unnerved him, and Ron's reaction made him even more anxious to go there. He was aware of the danger of going there, and imagined herds of goblins trying to shackle him inside one of the vaults.
His anxiety probably showed on his face, because Ginny nudged him. "Don't worry, Harry, Bill told me a few days ago that the heads of Gringotts were replaced because of the war."
"What do you mean?" asked Harry. He didn't remember reading in the newspaper about a revolution in the Goblin world.
"Apparently many goblins felt the Gringotts administration was helping Voldemort too much, so they weren't neutral anymore, and they killed almost the whole management."
"Wow," said Harry, utterly baffled. Not only did he not know about it, but apparently the goblins were proving to be more vindictive than he previously thought. "You're not helping you know," he said.
"It's going to be okay," she said, rubbing his arm as they neared the doors of the intimidating building. The gleaming sign, warning thieves seemed even more threatening than ever before.
As they climbed the stairs to the bank, Harry noticed two rather large goblins guarding the doorway. Even though they barely reached his waist, he still felt slightly threatened by their mere presence. The guards looked at him warily and slowly opened the doors.
They entered the large hall and Ginny tightened her grip on Harry's hand. As they walked further into the hall, Harry felt many pairs of eyes being turned to look at them, glaring.
They were making their way towards one of the many tellers when a tap on Harry's waist made him stop and turn quickly; his hand touched his wand inside his pocket by instinct.
A rather stern looking, bespectacled goblin glared at Harry and motioned him with a long, slender finger. Harry made a small move to follow him, but Ginny's arm stopped him.
"What is it that you want?" she asked, her voice shaking slightly.
The goblin narrowed his eyes. "That is none of your concern, Miss. We wish to speak with Mr. Potter and Mr. Potter alone."
Harry gently removed Ginny's hand off his arm. "Don't worry," he murmured. "I'll be okay."
Ginny glared at him. "I'm coming with you," she said stubbornly.
Harry sighed and nodded. "Lead the way," he said to the goblin, who was looking at the exchange warily.
The goblin led Harry and Ginny through a long and narrow corridor just off the main hall, passing through several big and heavy wooden doors. Ginny took Harry's hand as they heard a small screech behind one of the doors.
At last the goblin stopped, running his index finger down one of the doors, making it shiver and open with a crack. He led them in and motioned for them to sit on the stiff sofas, which, Harry noticed, were several inches lower than the chair behind the table, where the goblin now sat.
"Let's get down to business, shall we?" said the goblin slickly. "You caused us quite a bit of a mess here on your last…visit, Mr. Potter."
Harry looked the goblin square in the eye. "It was for a good reason," he said. Knowing this won't change even in the slightest to the goblins. "Voldemort hid something very dangerous in one of the Lestrange vault."
"This does not matter to me, Harry Potter," said the goblin nastily. "We do not treat thieves kindly here," he added.
Harry opened his mouth to respond, but Ginny stomped on his foot, making him close it. "However," he said, his fingers curling around a quill. "The administration is willing to forget the incident with one condition." Harry saw his mouth curling in distaste. Obviously not please with the administration letting Harry get off.
"Which is?" asked Ginny. The goblin ignored her, but answered the question.
"It has come to our attention that a goblin-made sword is in your possession and that you had used it during your little…escapade," He sneered. "Even though we would claim it back regardless, the administration," he said, curling his mouth in disgust, "is willing to make a deal with you. The sword for your life."
Harry was silent. Slightly astounded by the relatively simple requirement, he pondered about his promise to Griphook. Would his returning the sword to Gringotts mean that he was free from returning it to Griphook? As he turned the idea in his head, he decided that Griphook probably told the other goblins about the sword and now they were just looking for something to make it look like he was doing them a favor in return for keeping him alive.
Harry nodded stiffly, making the goblin smile crookedly, exposing a line of yellowing teeth. "Good, you will deliver the sword within seven days to me. My name is Dougrett. Now, I suppose you wanted a withdrawal?" he asked.
Harry nodded again. "But I don't have the key, I…uh…lost it," said Harry, looking at Ginny. The goblin waved him off.
"That won't be a problem," he said and opened a small drawer, handing Harry a small, golden, square key. "Anything else?"
"Yes," piped Ginny. "Harry just turned 18, he us entitled to get the key to his parents' vault."
The goblin glared at Ginny, obviously not forgetting about the vault, and hoping they would. "Yes," he drawled and opened the drawer once more, extracting another square key and handing it to Harry. "Do not lose them," he said.
Harry nodded and got up. Dougrett escorted them into the corridor and through a shortcut to the tunnels that led to the vaults.
The ride to the vault had felt every bit as nauseating as it did the first time he was there, and as he helped Ginny out of the carriage, he noticed he wasn't standing at the vault he used to use. This, he thought, must be his parents' vault.
He took the key and stepped forward to put it in the keyhole when he thought that the square key he was holding couldn't possibly open the shaped keyhole.
"The key will mold itself to the shape of the lock," said Dougrett.
And indeed, as Harry inserted the key into the keyhole, he heard a slight squelching noise and took out the key, which was now shaped to fit the lock.
His parents' vault wasn't much bigger than his, but it held much more gold, which, Harry assumed, was a family fortune, along with several treasure chests and the few items that were scattered on the floor.
Ginny looked around the vault, looking slightly stunned. "I've never seen so much money in my life," she said, sounding a bit chocked.
Harry, feeling uncomfortable, didn't answer and hurriedly picked up a handful of golden coins and put them in a small sack.
Later, as they strolled down Diagon Alley, and receiving curious stares Harry asked, "So what do you want to do?" They had already been to Madam Malkin's and bought new robes, and in Harry's case a few jeans and t-shirts as well, and were now walking around, each carrying several rather large bags full of their purchases.
"I thought about going to the joke shop, to see how George is doing," said Ginny. "I've been thinking that now that...Fred…is gone, George could use some help."
"Good idea," murmured Harry. "Where is the shop?" he asked, turning his head, looking for the colorful shop.
"It's right here," said Ginny and steered him towards a grey looking shop on which a large "Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes" sign was hanging crookedly. "Oh no," she murmured, pacing quicker towards the shop.
She opened the door. A small bell rang somewhere inside. "George?" called Ginny. "Are you here?"
"Yeah, right out!" yelled George. Harry and Ginny looked around, shocked yet not really surprised by the bad condition of the shop. After all, no one expected George to continue as if nothing happened. A rather thick layer of dust covered the shelves, blanketing the products and making the place look abandoned.
"Hi," said George, coming out of the back door and closing the door behind him. Even though he'd seen him just yesterday, Harry still couldn't believe how losing his twin caused George to look sad and a lot older. "The shop's a bit dusty, huh?" he said, stretching his mouth to a thin smile.
"Rather," said Ginny. "I was thinking about coming here to help you clean up and rebuild the place," she said, not bothering with small talk.
"I don't think that's a good idea," said George immediately.
Ginny glared at him. "Maybe I didn't phrase it correctly. I AM going to come here, probably tomorrow, to help you clean this place and reopen by the time students will get their Hogwarts letters," she said angrily.
"Don't 'Gin' me, George!" hissed Ginny. "This is NOT what Fred would have wanted."
An awkward silence filled the shop as Ginny glared at George who was glaring at the floor. He crossed his arms and leaned back on the counter. "I've been making the products in the back room - I just need to clean up here, that's all, Ginny," he said, looking around miserably.
"Well then, I'll help you clean up," she said.
"Yeah, me too," said Harry, feeling uncomfortable letting them do all the work themselves. "And I'm sure Ron would like to help, too. He loves this place."
"Well then, we have a date," said Ginny, sticking her hand out for George to shake. George rolled his eyes and shook her hand.
"We're going for some ice-cream, do you want to come?" asked Harry, feeling very much like sitting down. Ginny looked at him with surprise.
"No thanks," said George. "You two have a nice date," he said and winked. Harry turned pink and took Ginny's hand.
"Thanks," he said and led Ginny out of the shop, taking a big gulp of clean air. The dusty shop had closed his throat and he didn't even notice.
"So, do you want to go for some ice-cream?" suggested Ginny dryly. "Yeah, I'd love to," she said, answering her own question sarcastically. Harry turned pink again and shoved her lightly, making her giggle.
"How did you handle it?" Ginny asked several minutes later as Harry licked his vanilla flavored ice-cream.
"Handle what?" asked Harry warily.
"Your nightmares, Harry. You've had them for so long, how did you ever manage to sleep at all?" she asked, taking another lick from her chocolate ice-cream.
"Oh," said Harry, thinking. "I didn't really have a choice, did I? I just got back to sleep," he said lamely. "Why do you ask? Are you having nightmares?" he asked, suddenly noticing small bags under her eyes.
Ginny looked down. "I'm fine, really…It's just that they're so real…you know?" she said, looking up again, searching his eyes for understanding. Harry took her hand.
"They'll go away," he said slowly, hoping so with all his heart. "It's all still so fresh, of course you have nightmares. I don't get how I never asked…" he said, shaking his head.
"I'm fine, Harry," said Ginny, rolling her eyes. "They're just nightmares."
"Yeah," said Harry. "Just nightmares."