A/N: In writing this, I am indebted to Intromit, MaxFic, SSHENRY, Worldmaker, S'TarKan/Viridian, and AlianneOfTortall/Ella, whose works have influenced and inspired the story before you. And of them I ask that, should they read this, they leave me their thoughts. This story is for M.
Harry Potter awoke on the twenty-fourth of July, 1992 at six forty-three in the morning to the sight of a blinding white light. Startled, he rose from his bed quickly, staring into the light, his phantasmatic state fading in its intensity.
He stared into the light, and he started to dream awake. He was swept away from his small bedroom and into the ethereal, burning light. And he could see… he could see everything. The resurrection of Voldemort, the fall of Hogwarts, of the Ministry, the night and way Dumbledore died, the flight from the burning Burrow…. In an instant, he remembered everything. Every horrible feeling and desperate moment. But with it... Love. He felt it. He was consumed by it.
He saw himself face down Lord Voldemort; he watched himself fall lifeless; he watched himself rise deathless. He saw terror in Voldemort's red eyes, saw the glee give way to maddened horror. He saw himself fight calmly against Voldemort's desperation, saw himself duck, roll, jump, and dodge every curse Voldemort cast his way, and he saw himself silently respond in kind.
He watched as he burnt his own green eyes, years older than he was now, into Voldemort's red. And he watched Voldemort losing his mind. And then he watched as Harry blessed him dead with two words and a flash of light.
He saw memories of broken bodies, of burning bodies, of melting bodies, of death and chaos and heartbreak. He saw Ron Weasley, and his wife Hermione, and a small baby boy – their eyes open and glassy. Dead. He saw Neville Longbottom and his wife Luna holding hands as they turned their wands on themselves rather than be mutilated and tortured by Voldemort's Death Eaters. He saw Percy Weasley, an Inferius, attack his parents, watched him strangle them over his mother's pleas and tears. He watched George Weasley cut in half by Bellatrix Lestrange as his twin writhed into madness at Severus Snape's curse. He watched Charlie Weasley shot out of the sky atop a dragon, crashing to the ground with a sickening thud. He watched Bill Weasley and his wife Fleur be pulled apart by black, Inferiused horses. He saw devastation and despair and every ill feeling he thought he could.
But then he saw it, saw her. Ginny. His Ginny. She who had always been his, who always would be. His only one. The only one still with him now from the beginning, the only reason he hadn't turned his wand on himself the night Ron and Hermione died. His heart soared. But… No! Draco Malfoy had struck her from behind. Had cursed her dead. And she was. And the scene turned and he saw himself, almighty with rage, cast a wall of black flame at Malfoy. He saw him burnt to ashes. And he saw himself fall to his knees and shout to the heavens. He saw the Death Eaters throw down their wands, saw them surrender to his forces. And he saw in his own eyes that it meant nothing.
He saw himself, years older, cast a spell with a slackened face, but with eyes on fire. He saw himself murmuring, his wand swishing, flicking, and waving, jabbing, prodding, and curving. He saw himself cast a spell to return him, to take him back to a time when things might have been able to change, to a time before his own.
And then before him, back in his room, standing in the blazing white light, was a haunting vision of himself, his eyes lost and possessed only by sorrow. His own, older mouth opened and delivered a message:
And then the light consumed him completely. As the specter of his old and defeated self faded, he was infused with the white light of his lost love. And hundreds of miles away, he wasn't the only one.
"Harry?" she asked softly of the morning light.
"…Where is… where is 'here?'"
'Here' is… nowhere. But it's everywhere too.
"What's happening? Why…?"
I… there was a light. It woke me up.
And I… I saw things. Me. And you. And… everyone. I don't know… I don't… I don't know how to tell you what I saw. It's probably easiest to just tell you that… that… I've seen it all. Everything that's… that's going to happen. I've seen it.
I… I kill him, Ginny.
They hardly knew each other; they'd never spoken before that day. Not in this life. But he spoke to her like he'd known her for years, with a familiarity borne of long nights together, sleepless nights of comfort and sadness; a familiarity borne of fighting for one another, and only one another; a familiarity borne of such intimate, private, but shared sadness that a bond was forged that couldn't be broken, that lived on after death, that was as eternal as the sky. Yes, he called her by her first name, and easily, but their familiarity extended beyond that. They didn't just know each other's name. They knew each other.
He comes back. And… And I kill him.
"For me," she said softly, her voice awe-inflected. "I… I remember."
But it's… it's hazy. It's like a dream, you know? The details are… escaping?... Everything is getting fuzzier. I… I'm sorry. I couldn't save you.
"No," she said, her voice hurting. "Don't be sorry, Harry." She was whispering, and she could feel the back of her eyes tingling.
I'm so sorry, and she knew he'd begun to cry. I'm so… so sorry, Ginny. I tried! I tried so hard…. Your brothers… your parents… and you! She heard his voice break, I'm sorry; I'm so sorry….
"No, Harry… no." And her voice was tender. "There was nothing you could have done – you couldn't have… have saved me." And then the absurdity of her words struck her. She was talking about her death, about already having died. But she wasn't dead. She was breathing. "I'm not gone, Harry." Her eyes were downcast, her voice quieter than before. "I'm alive."
I couldn't save you then….
"You can save me now."
I'm so sorry…. I've missed you so much….
"I know. I've missed you too."
And… And after all these years… I still love you… so much.
His tears had stopped. Hers had begun. "I love you too," she said, a woman's words in a child's voice.
"How did you… how did you come back?" she asked, calming. "It had to be you – I died; I saw it. We both did."
I don't know – I can't… I can't remember anymore. He sounded upset. Almost angry. The memories are fading. I…. I can't remember… specifics… anymore. I remember – feelings. I remember feelings. I know Ron… he died. And Hermione. And… and they had a child. Together? Ron and Hermione? …I didn't see that coming. I thought… Neville, maybe, and Hermione…. She and Ron fight so much!
Ginny sniffled and smiled. "It's flirting."
Flirting? He was quiet for a moment. Oh. That's, um…. Yeah. I can see that. And he smiled. She could hear it.
I wish I… I wish I could remember, he said, and he sounded upset. Everything… it's like I dreamt it. It's disappearing. I know… I can't remember details. I… he trailed off, and for a moment there was silence in her head.
"Just… don't forget… us," Ginny said softly. She was afraid. Because she was forgetting too, her memories of before. They felt like stories from before, dreams, hypnagogic fantasies; and she could no more hold on to the details than Harry, could no more hold on to the details than she could clutch sand. And if she forgot him, if she forgot what they had, if he did too, then they had nothing. And every reason they had seen the light would be gone. And they would be back to square one.
I won't forget you, he said, and he sounded fierce. I won't forget us. I… I love you. And until now, I wasn't sure that was real. Or… Well… I was. But… the other me. You… know?
"I do." And she did. "I won't forget how I… feel." She felt almost shame. Shame's shadow. She was ten years old. He was eleven. And they'd declared their love. Magically. It wasn't right. Or it wouldn't have been, to others. And it wouldn't be, when they knew. They would tell them….
Don't think about that, he said, and she knew he meant her thoughts. What we have is… is what we have. And they don't have to understand…. Just… promise me… and now he sounded scared and he sounded small, smaller than she'd ever known he could sound, could be; promise me this is… is real. That I'm not going to wake up and there will be… be nothing. That I'm not going to… to see you… and…. Just promise me I'm not dreaming this… please.
He was eleven. And he was damaged. She remembered that. "I love you." And that was her promise to him, a promise first made five years in the future, ten in the past, a promise that had transcended time and space to hold them together. It was a promise of forever, of something ever and always…. "And I'll never let you go."
He was quiet for nearly a minute. She could feel him. It wasn't quite gratitude and it wasn't quite appreciation. Thank you. It might have been love.
"How are we…" she said after a few moments, "talking?"
I don't know. I just…. He sighed. You're here. With me. I don't know how, and I don't know why, and… she felt him laugh, I don't care.
Ginny smiled and turned on her side in her bed. She stared next to her, and if she squinted her eyes a little, she could swear she saw Harry beside her. But it hurt her to open her eyes; he wasn't there, and she preferred her illusion to the reality which faced her.
I wish you were here, Ginny's voice said.
"I wish I was too," Harry responded, whispering at his pillow. "I wish I was there to… to stroke your hair, to… to hold you…" he said softly; these were words beyond his years, feelings and thoughts gifted by the light. He felt shame at his words, shame at the depth of his feelings and the honesty. A single thought, for a moment, ran through his head on repeat: What would Ron think if he could hear me?
Don't think about that, Harry. Don't think about Ron. I don't… I don't want him to know. About us.
For a moment that felt endless, he thought she was ashamed of him. He thought she didn't want Ron to know because she was embarrassed by him, ashamed of him, of who he was and what. For a moment he couldn't himself end, he thought love was not enough to overcome her shame.
That's – that's not it, Harry! Ginny said, stammering. That's not it at all. I swear. I just… he's not going to understand. And I think he… I think he'll… attack us… for what we feel. And I don't want to feel like I have to defend… us… to him. Or anyone. I… it's – it's selfish, but I want you to myself. I want us to be… to be our… not our secret – that's not what I mean. But what we have is… it's intimate, isn't it? It's… it's personal. And I want it to be ours and no one else's and…. If Mum knew, or Dad, or Dumbledore – what if they tried to… to break this, whatever it is? I don't want them to… to interfere. What we have is… ours. And I want to – to always be that way. It's none of… it's none of their business.
Harry felt relief at understanding. She wasn't ashamed of him.
I could never be ashamed of you, Harry.
"We don't have to tell anyone," he murmured. "Ever."
It's just…. Part of me thinks, Harry, that if we… if we let other people know… if we let them in, then what we have is… is not ours anymore. Not like it is. And… it's less, if everyone knows…. I… I don't know if you understand what I'm trying to say – it's… it just feels… personal. Us. We're… ours. And no one else's. And I… I don't want to answer questions about it from Ron or my Mum or… anyone. I'm yours… and… I think you're mine. And I don't want to… to defend that.
"I'm yours," Harry whispered, his voice as tender as his words. "I'm always yours. I…. Another me came back for you. And I… love you."
Harry could feel her smile.
"If you left me tomorrow… if we… fell apart… I'd still be yours. And… no matter what happens now… I… I'm always going to have this moment. This morning. Because whatever happens next… now I'm happy. And in love. And… nothing can… no one can take that from me." Harry breathed a heavy breath. "I… I'm going to take this morning to my grave. It's… whatever happens, this moment is… mine. And it'll always be, and I'll always have it, whatever happens…."