Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. If I was, this story would be hitting the bookshops right now, not hitting a fanfiction site. I doubt this would sell anyway. Regardless of that, enjoy!
Author's Note: To those of you who have not read the original of this, I hope you enjoy! For those of you who do, I hope you prefer longer chapters and one story rather than a short-chaptered series, because if not, then too bad! (Muahahahahaha!) Read and review!
Note: Also, you may notice that I've bumped the rating up to T. This is more of a precaution than anything else, because there might be more violence in later chapters - I don't know, since I haven't written them yet. Rest assured that this story will never constitute an M-rating, though - I myself am only thirteen years old and will definitely not pt anything like that in my writing, at least not until I'm much older.
Harry Potter really hated his life. At the moment, he was squashed up in the backseat of his Uncle Vernon's car, alongside his pig of a cousin Dudley and a pile of luggage. Needless to say, it was not a hell of a lot of fun.
Any normal ten-year-old boy, you see, would be ecstatic to discover that because of a move; nearly half of a school year would be spent at home. Dudley, who couldn't do anything academic to save his life,was certainly happy about the fact that his parents, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, had decided to wait the half-year until their 'precious son' (Dudley) and 'the freak/boy' (Harry) started high school before enrolling them at a school (or 'worthless institution'). Harry, however, would have much preferred being at a 'worthless institution' than being stuck at home with the pig (Dudley), the giraffe (Petunia), and the hippo (Vernon).
Why was Harry living with his aunt and uncle, one might ask? Well, Harry was an orphan – an orphan who knew nothing about his parents other than their names (Lily and James Potter) and how long he had been with them (until he was one). His 'family' (more like owners) treated him like at worst, dirt, or at best, a servant – so from that Harry was able to gather one more thing about his parents, or more specifically, his mother – Petunia hadn't liked her sister very much.
Harry wasn't informed of much else either, or at least around the Dursleys. At school he knew lots, seeing as his teachers, or at least his former teachers, were the only ones who had ever liked him. But here with the Dursleys, all Harry knew about the move was the why and the where – they were moving because Grunnings, the drill company where Uncle Vernon worked, had transferred him to the branch of Grunnings at Ottery St. Catchpole. Harry really wasn't looking forward to it – the one and only good thing about the move was the fact that the stairs at the new place didn't have a cupboard – Harry's bedroom at their old house in Little Whinging had been a cupboard under the stairs. At least he would have a bedroom.
Harry had been so absorbed in his thoughts that he hadn't even noticed the fact that they were there until the car had already stopped. "Out, boy," Harry's uncle said roughly, pulling Harry out of the car by the scruff of his neck. Harry hurried into the new house with an armload of heavy luggage so as to try and escape more verbal punishment (and manhandling).
Harry struggled to sleep that night. He had been disappointed (though he knew better than to show it) to find that his new 'bedroom' was actually supposed to be a study, and was so small that it might as well have been a cupboard under the stairs. The house was a three-bedroom house – why couldn't he have the third bedroom? It wasn't too big, but it would certainly be better than this. Sighing, he turned over and tried again, in vain, to fall asleep on his flimsy single mattress.
"Up! Boy, get up!" was what Harry woke up to the next morning. His Aunt Petunia was calling him to get up and make the breakfast. At least she wasn't tapping on the door. That was infuriating.
Mumbling incoherently to himself, Harry dressed quickly and, blinking sleep out of his eyes, hurried down the stairs to make breakfast.
Harry rushed out the door as soon as there was a break in his chores. Moving had upped the quantity of said inconveniences, and though he knew that he would be in for a beating (verbalized, of course – the Dursleys had never gone so far as to physically hit him) when he got back, slipping away for even an hour was worth it. Although, Harry realized as he broke into a run, he had nowhere to go. There was a weeping-tree at the park in Little Whinging, and that had been his sanctuary, but he would have to find a new place to call his now.
Soon, the jogging Harry found a lake that was incredibly calming and peaceful. The water's edge was lined with trees, and Harry thought that it would be good to find a tree like the weeping-tree in Surrey to make his sanctuary. Glancing around, his eyes probing the colourful thicket of trees in a contemplative search, he found the perfect tree!
But once he started rushing towards the tree, he realized that someone else had already claimed it as their own sanctuary. And that someone was the most beautiful girl Harry had ever seen.
She was about Harry's age, give or take a year or so, and had soft, wavy hair that tumbled in loose curls all the way down her back, hair that was the prettiest shade of scarlet that Harry had ever seen. Her skin was lightly freckled and sun-browned, and her body was slight and slender. She held some kind of book – a diary, perhaps? – and was writing in it with some kind of strange, plumed red-and-gold feather. Her eyes, almost hidden by a lock of that soft scarlet hair, were cast down upon the book. It was only when Harry got closer that he noticed what colour they were – a warm, chocolate brown. They were amazingly filled with all different emotions – laughter, mischief, happiness, innocence, but underneath it all there was an underlying, but clearly present, hint of loneliness.
Excitement filled Harry up to the core. Could this girl be like him – friendless, alone? Could Harry possibly become friends with her?
As soon as Harry thought this, his dismissed his initial wonderings. He had never had a friend before – everybody thought he was strange, weird, odd. This girl would be no different – he was sure of it.
However, just as he thought this, words seemed to force their way out of Harry's mouth, apparently of their own accord. He heard himself speak as though it were a stranger talking – "Hello, what's your name?"
The girl looked up, startled. Harry cursed himself for being so – what was the word? Mysterious? Sudden? Yes, that was it. Sudden. The poor girl clearly had no idea how long he had been watching her – for all she knew, he could have been staring at her for hours – given that she had been there for hours, of course.
"Wh-who are you?" she said, the look of shock in her deer-caught-in-headlights-like eyes changing swiftly and suddenly to suspicion. "Explain yourself."
Harry restrained a grin with difficulty, for reasons he was completely unaware of. This girl was so – feisty. And it was with a complete loss of control of his tongue that he responded, "My name's Harry. Now, to repeat my question, what's your name?"
The girl's eyes were still suspicious. "I'm smart enough not to divulge things like that to complete strangers, thanks. And don't say you're not a stranger because you've told me your name. I'd want to know someone for more than five seconds before I told them my name, all blasé without a care in the world. It's a dangerous world." She folded her arms defiantly.
This time, he really did smile, for a reason again unclear to him. Why was this girl so different from the others? Why was she so unlike the girls from his old school back at Surrey?
Ottery St. Catchpole was definitely a strange town, Harry mentally decided. Suddenly aware that this curious girl was awaiting his reply, Harry decided this time to hold his tongue and keep control of what he said.
Weighing his words carefully, he finally responded with, "I promise I mean you no harm. My full name's Harry Potter." He tried to convey as much genuineness through his tone of voice and his eyes as he could.
For some again unknown reason – God, was he getting tired of these constant unknown reasons! – the unique girl began coughing violently when he said this. Finally, when her coughing fit subsided, the girl spoke, this time with apology laced through her words.
"I'm really sorry," she said sincerely. "My name's Ginny – Ginevra, really, but I hate that name – and my last name's Weasley." Harry was clueless as to what he had said to cause this sudden change of tone which had seemingly come from nowhere. He was getting quite fed up with not knowing anything. Apart from her name, this girl truly was a mystery.
He didn't know why, but Harry felt drawn to this – this Ginny. Everything about her was, at least in his eyes (and from the little that he knew), perfect. He was seized by a sudden, mad desire to be her friend. So it was with a complete lack of muscle control that he flopped down beside her, putting his back to the tree trunk and shifting so that as little tree roots poked into his backside as possible, which was surprisingly easier than it looked due to the soft moss that cushioned them.
Ginny's eyes widened in surprise, but Harry took no notice – or at least, he pretended to take no notice. Taking extra care not to blurt anything extra out, Harry asked her, "What are you doing here?" He was careful to soften his words so as not to appear too blunt. He was, for some unknown reason, desperate not only for a friend, but for Ginny especially to be that friend. Now acutely aware of this strange desire, he vowed then and there, on the spot, to turn over a new leaf here at Ottery St. Catchpole.
"I'm… I, um…" Ginny looked reluctant to tell him why she was here at the weeping-tree. The question had the clear potential to be tactless – Harry only just realized this after he had foolishly spoken the words. He chided himself for being so stupid – at first he hadn't thought the question to be a personal one, but he really didn't know anything about Ginny or her life – she could be here mourning somebody's death or something.
Finally, after an awkward and rather pregnant pause, Ginny began talking again, albeit in a quiet voice. "I'm here to get away from my brothers. I'm a lot younger than them as well as being the only girl. They exclude me all the time." Ginny blushed as soon as she said this.
Harry felt a surge of sympathy for the poor girl, followed by a feeling of immense elation. If she was telling him things as private- and personal-seeming as this, did that mean that she was his friend?
"I – I'm sorry to burden you," Ginny said hurriedly.
"No, no, that's perfectly alright," Harry exclaimed, his voice rushed a little from his haste to get rid of the awkwardness. There was another lull in the half-conversation, but this time it wasn't as awkward and heavy as before. It was more pleasant, for the both of them knew, somehow, without a clue in the world as to how they knew, that they had just made their first friend.
For the rest of the day the duo talked, just talking, happily aware of their first ever friendship. Sometimes they would talk about morose things, like Harry's life with the Dursleys and how Ginny always felt excluded from her six brothers, and other times they talked about lighter things, things that they could talk freely about without their voices hitching with sadness or shame. They didn't even retreat back to their separate houses for lunch – the giddy feeling inside the both of them was sustainment enough.
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley had just made their first friends respectively.
Little did they know that just the next day they would become far more than friends.
-- -- --
Ginny felt like she was floating on air as she raced home from her talk with Harry. She had a friend! A real friend! And to top things off, her first ever friend was Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, the boy who she had demanded of her father to tell the story of every night! True, she hadn't heard his story since she was four, but still!
Ginny had been rather let down by the discovery that, as far as she knew, Harry didn't know anything about magic. True, he could have been pretending he didn't know because he thought she was a muggle, but if he knew about magic, wouldn't he know that she was a witch by her last name? Before she knew it, Ginny had found her way home.
Banging through the front door to the Burrow, Ginny rushed straight to the kitchen where her mother was making dinner – a Sunday roast. She skipped past the dining table to see her mother with her back to Ginny, sprinkling rosemary and garlic on the roast chicken and baked potatoes. "Mum!" she cried. "You'll never guess what I've been doing today!"
Mrs. Weasley turned around so fast that she knocked over the packet of herbs. "Ginny! Where on earth have you been?!" Damn it, Ginny thought. I forgot I didn't come back for lunch. Mum's going to have a seizure!
"I was in the woods, Mum. Next to the lake. I made a friend!" Ginny said, ecstatically.
Mrs. Weasley, who looked half-mad with worry, visibly relaxed. Her eyes softening, she said, voice still cross, "Well that's lovely Ginny dear, but you must be starving!"
Ginny glanced up into her mother's eyes, suddenly saddened by the fact that Harry was probably sitting miserably at the kitchen table at that moment, chewing morosely on some sort of salad. He wouldn't be getting fussed over like she was. Finally realizing that her mother was waiting on a reply, Ginny said softly, "No, I'm not very hungry."
Mrs. Weasley's eyes took on a worried look. "Do you know your friend's name?"
Ginny paused, wondering whether to tell her mother about Harry. Finally deciding that it couldn't hurt, Ginny spoke in a much lighter tone that reflected her happiness, "He's Harry Potter!"
Mrs. Weasley's eyes changed swiftly from apprehension to disbelief before finally flooding with suspicion. "Are you sure?" she asked, her voice barely audible due to the worry in it. Not knowing what her mother was getting at, Ginny nodded. "Positive."
-- -- --
Dinner that night was an awkward affair. If Percy, Ron, Fred and George noticed anything, they didn't comment on it. Ginny was worried. The air was thick with tension, and she didn't know why. It wasn't as if the Harry she had talked to was one of You-Know-Who's followers following in his footsteps or something.
Ginny choked on her mouthful of roast vegetables. That was exactly what her mother thought he was! Shaking her head with this sudden realization, Ginny resolved to tell her mother that she was positive that her new friend really was Harry.
Unfortunately, Ginny didn't get the chance. Mrs. Weasley hurried all her kids to bed straight after dinner, something she only did when she was worried about something. Ginny couldn't get a word in edgewise before she was hustled into her ground-floor bedroom.
Sighing, Ginny decided that no matter what her mother thought, she would sneak off in the morning to talk to Harry after making her own breakfast. Nothing would stop her from forging this friendship.
Molly Weasley was worried. Very worried. Firstly her youngest and only daughter didn't come home for lunch – Ginny always had a huge appetite that could rival her brothers', and that was saying something! Then she did come home for dinner, babbling on about a new friend! Of course, Molly was ecstatic about the fact that her daughter had a friend – she rarely made friends, and was quite shy when it came to people other than family (around her brothers she was the exact opposite of shy – intimidating was more like it!) But when she had pronounced her friend to be the legendary Harry Potter, Molly had become worried. Didn't Harry Potter live in Surrey? If this was so, how did he get here, then? Unless…
Unless this 'Harry Potter' was an imposter. An imposter who could mean Ginny, and perhaps their whole family, harm. That was why Molly was worried.
She needed to see Dumbledore.
Rushing to the fireplace, Molly grabbed a pinch of Floo powder. Calling a quick goodbye to Arthur, she whipped out her wand and announced, "Incendio!" Crackling flames leapt up from the hearth.
Stepping into these flames, Molly took a deep breath, tucked in her elbows and shouted, "The Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts!" She tossed the Floo powder around her in a grey flurry.
Catching glimpses of random wizarding rooms connected to the Floo network, Molly finally shot out of one of the fireplaces and looked up to see an elegant, eloquent red-and-gold-plumed bird – Fawkes, Albus Dumbledore's phoenix. A moment later, the white-bearded man himself was peering down at her through his half-moon spectacles. "Ah, Molly," he said. "To what do I owe you this late-night pleasure?"
Molly picked herself quickly up off the floor, dusting off the ash from her clothes as discreetly as she could. "I wanted to ask you something about Harry Potter," she said clearly.
"Ah, yes. Harry. I was wondering when you would come to see me about him." Why did Albus Dumbledore seem to know everything you were about to say before you said it? Why?
"Yes. Um… well, I was wondering where Harry lived at the moment," said Molly uneasily. "Could you tell me?"
Albus' blue eyes twinkled merrily. "Yes. Harry has now moved into Ottery St. Catchpole now. Just on the other side of that lake and the forest around it, I believe." That All-Knowing voice could really get on your nerves sometimes, Molly thought, annoyed.
"Yes, well… Why exactly did he move? And why to Ottery St. Catchpole?"
"I do believe that Harry's uncle has been transferred to the branch of his company at Ottery St. Catchpole," said Albus evasively. He really knew how to avoid the things one wanted to know.
"Did you move Harry there on purpose?" asked Molly, her annoyance showing in her voice now.
"I certainly did not intervene. When I discovered that the Dursleys were moving I thought it best to leave Fate to its own devices." Albus' eyes were twinkling again.
There was a short silence in the Headmasters' Office at Hogwarts. Fawkes broke the silence with a loud, musical trill. Finally Albus asked, "Why did you want to know?"
Molly paused. She was pretty sure Dumbledore knew exactly why she had asked, but all the same she said resignedly, "Harry and Ginny have made friends with each other. I came because I was worried about whether or not it was really Harry and not some ex-Death Eater."
Albus nodded thoughtfully. "Well, have a good night," he said, eyes resuming their merry twinkle. Taking herself to be dismissed, Molly Flooed through the fireplace without a backwards glance.
-- -- --
Ginny woke up early the next morning. Stretching, she jumped out of bed and dressed quickly and swiftly into a pair of Muggle jeans and a T-shirt with a water-lily on the front. It was her favourite outfit. Hurrying out of her room, she tiptoed over to the fridge and took out a tub of yoghurt.
"What do you think you're doing, young lady?" snapped Mrs. Weasley. Ginny spun around guiltily, the spoon she had retrieved from the cupboard clanking onto the tiled floor.
"I-I was just getting myself some breakfast," she lied pathetically. Even as she spoke she knew the lie was a bad one. She never got herself breakfast unless she was planning on sneaking away… which she was. She might as well have confessed to her plan of sneaking out!
"Hmph," said Mrs. Weasley. "Of course you were." Her voice was sarcastic.
After a few moments of awkward silence, Mrs. Weasley's eyes softened and she said, "I saw Dumbledore last night." Ginny silently groaned. Now her mother would tell her not to go and see Harry… but she'd promised! What was she going to do?
"Relax," Mrs. Weasley said soothingly. "Albus said that Harry really had moved here. He didn't seem too surprised that the two of you had made friends, actually. I suppose you can go." The yoghurt lay forgotten on the kitchen bench as a surprised but delighted Ginny ran up to her mother and threw her arms around her.
"Oh thank you thank you thank you!" she squealed.
Three sausages, two bacon-and-egg muffins and a glass of orange juice later, Ginny ran out the door with an over-the-shoulder goodbye to her mother, father and Percy, the only ones up. Despite the intoxicating smell of the delicious breakfast, Fred, George and Ron remained in their deep slumber. Ginny was in so much of a rush that she even forgot to bring the diary and quill that she had been using when Harry had found her. Damn it, she thought as she ran at top speed through the woods by the lakeside. What am I going to do to pass the time before he comes?
It turned out that Ginny didn't need to worry. Harry was already leaning against the old weeping-tree when she arrived.
"Harry!" she called delightedly.
Harry, who had been disappointedly twiddling his thumbs before Ginny had arrived, looked up when she called straight away.
"Ginny!" he yelled, delighted. "I thought you weren't going to come!" She looks just as pretty as always, thought Harry as she raced up. I'm so glad she ended up coming.
Harry really had thought that Ginny wouldn't come back. Last night and this morning had been dreadful for him.
As soon as he had arrived back at the Dursleys', Harry had been screamed at for an hour straight because he had 'Not reported back to him' (it was the hippo speaking) 'as soon as he had finished his set chores to get some more.' After that he had been given a measly dinner of bread and cheese which was hardly a sufficient dinner, let alone a replacement for his missed midday meal. After another hour of unpacking (with him doing the worst jobs like heaving the T.V. out of its box and setting up the entertainment unit) he had finally been allowed the 'privilege' of going to bed.
Harry had slept fitfully that night. Tossing and turning, a dream had convinced him that Ginny would not come the next morning, although she had promised. So it was rather demurely that Harry had returned to the weeping-tree the next morning after a rather pathetic breakfast of half a bowl of cornflakes.
So you van imagine Harry's delight when Ginny called out to him after about an hour of thumb-twiddling!
Harry and Ginny enjoyed another morning of talking, with the both of them recounting yesterday afternoon to this morning (when they had parted to when they reunited, with Ginny leaving out the bit about Dumbledore and her mother). Before they knew it, it was lunchtime.
"Hey, Harry," said Ginny. "Do you want to come to my place for lunch? I'm sure my mother wouldn't mind."
Harry was ecstatic! Only one-and-a-half days into the friendship and he was invited to Ginny's house for lunch! Deliriously happy, Harry quickly agreed to Ginny's offer, and soon the duo arrived at the Burrow.
"Well, who might you be, dear?" asked Molly Weasley. Of course, she knew who the poor orphaned boy was, but preferred to be polite and ask him his name.
"I'm… I'm Harry Potter," said Harry nervously.
Mrs. Weasley smiled, saying, "Well, come in, dear, and I'll get you some lunch."
Harry was dumbfounded. Never had an adult been this… well, this motherly to him. Sure, his school teachers had been kind, but not like this. He decided that he rather liked the change.
Though Harry didn't know it and Ginny only suspected, when Mrs. Weasley left to 'pick some vegetables' she was really warning her four present sons not to recognize him and to pretend they were Muggles.
The lunch meal that Mrs. Weasley prepared for her five present children and Harry was like nothing Harry had ever tasted before. It was, to put it simply, delicious. The meal consisted of vegetables, pork chops and a rich brown gravy, and was a far cry form the measly sandwiches or salads that his midday meal usually consisted of. Harry couldn't stop stammering his thanks as he and Ginny left, albeit after Harry making semi-friends with Ron and the twins (he found that Percy got on his nerves).
However, this delight was short-lived – actually, no. That wasn't right. His consciousness was what was short-lived.
For on the way back to the weeping-tree, Ginny tripped over a tree-root. And instinctively, Harry's arms snaked out and wrapped around her waist.
It was the first time they had touched.
The first time they touched, everything went black.
-- -- --
The moon was rising when Molly decided it was high time for her to bring Ginny home. It was getting dark out, for heavens' sakes! What did the girl think she was doing?
Pulling on her boots, Molly trudged through the dirt, following the two sets of footprints that would logically be Ginny's and Harry's. Both footprints were small, though one set was bigger than the other, and the smaller set of footprints was heavier. That made perfect sense – the footprints of a nine- and ten-year-old would be small, but Harry as the elder boy would have bigger feet, yet Ginny walked rather heavily, so her footprints would be deeper. Molly knew the last part because whenever Ginny got up during the night, her footprints could be heard from all the way up in the attic.
Molly was resigned to following these footprints due to the fact that she had no idea where in the forest the duo could be. However, she was glad she hadn't known, because otherwise she would have gone straight there and therefore missed seeing the…
The unconscious bodies of her daughter and Harry Potter.
Molly ran back to the Burrow at top speed. As soon as she got there, the first thing she did was look straight up at the family clock.
"Oh, thank goodness!" she said, relieved (though only momentarily). Arthur's hand pointed to 'Home.' At the moment, Molly Weasley, the woman who rarely lost her cool, was losing it… and fast. She didn't know what to do. Her baby was unconscious!
"Molly! What's wrong?" asked Arthur worriedly. He had been told about Ginny and her new friend, Harry Potter. Nothing, however, could have prepared him for what his wife was telling him now.
"She's what?!" Arthur roared.
"Un-unconscious," Molly repeated, sniffling. "I d-don't know wh-what to do!"
"Get Albus," said Arthur tersely.
And 'get Albus' they did.
Harry and Ginny stood in some kind of peaceful, serene grove. The air was perfumed with the scent of wildberries, and lush, glossy ferns permeated the gleaming golden sunlight.
"Where are we?" gasped Harry. "What is this?"
Ginny, however, looked worried. She had a feeling that she knew where they were, and if she was right…
She would have to tell Harry about wizards.
Sighing, Ginny realized that she was resigned to the Fate of telling Harry. She just hoped that she wouldn't have to say anything about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
"Who must not be named?" asked Harry, confused.
She was right, then. They really were inside each others' minds. A small part of her had still been hoping that she was wrong.
"I didn't say anything," Ginny sighed.
Harry turned to her. "You know something I don't," he said, half-accusing, half-curious. "What is it?"
Sighing for what felt like the thirtieth time in their minds, Ginny answered, "Yes. We are in each others' minds."
Harry gasped. "That's not possible," he said.
"It is," Ginny answered. "There's something I've been keeping from you." It tore her up inside to see the look of hurt on Harry's face right then. "I had no choice but to keep it from you. You see, Harry… you and me, and all my family, and your mum and dad, and others as well… we're wizards. Witches and wizards."
"What?!" gasped Harry. "That really is impossible!"
"No it's not," Ginny sighed. "We really are… I wouldn't lie to you… you know that, don't you." It was a statement, not a question.
Harry looked at her, considering her. Finally, he said, "You're telling the truth…" He looked shocked. "How do I know that? How do I know you're telling the truth?" Their eyes met.
Slowly, resignedly, Ginny began to explain the real story of how Harry's parents died. She finished up with, "I still don't know how we're doing this, though." They were silent for a moment.
"We're dreaming," said Harry finally. "But it's real. We're talking to each other in our dreams." Ginny nodded in confirmation.
They were silent for a while, staring at the mysterious grove. Then, suddenly, everything started to fade away… except each other. "We're waking up!" yelled Harry. And then…
Colour flooded back into everything.
Harry and Ginny woke up on the biggest lounge at Ginny's house, surprisingly intertwined in a position rather unsuitable for a nine- and a ten-year-old - Harry's arms were wrapped around Ginny's stomach. Harry tried to unravel himself, only to find that his muscles were too slack to move without a stabbing pain.
"Wh-wha'ss goin'on," Ginny mumbled, her voice slurred slightly.
Harry glanced up to see, much to his shock, a strange man with a long silver beard and hair to match. The man had twinkling blue eyes that peered down at Ginny and he curiously through half-moon spectacles. Who the hell is he? thought Harry sleepily.
That's Albus Dumbledore, a soft female voice answered.
Ginny? Harry gasped, suddenly wide awake.
Don't you remember our conversation? asked Ginny, sounding somewhat amused.
Harry thought back quickly and suddenly remembered the strange dream he had had. Oh my God, he thought. I'm a wizard! And you and me have this weird mind connection thing! He was delighted.
"Harry Potter," said the silver-bearded man whose name was apparently Albus Dumbledore. "I suppose you're wondering who I am, why I am here, and what is going on… amongst other things." The man's voice was piercing and sharp, but kind.
Harry was about to say that he wasn't actually wondering about any of these things when Ginny's voice in his head said, No, don't. If you say what you're about to say, they will want to find out about this mind-link thing. I want it to be our secret, okay? Please? Harry shut his mouth and nodded. "Yeah, I'm… I'm wondering," he said quickly.
Albus Dumbledore's way of describing Voldemort (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) was very different to Ginny's explanation. He was a lot blunter about some details and seemed to want to avoid others. After an hour of pretending to listen to things he had heard before, Harry said, "It's almost sunrise. The Dursleys will go nuts when I get back." He was reluctant to say 'home', because now he didn't feel that the new, strange house was 'home'. 'Home' was wherever Ginny was.
"Don't worry," said Dumbledore. "I'm not a wizard for nothing." His eyes twinkled. "The Dursleys are under the impression that you have already returned home. Now, off you trot."
And off he trotted.
-- -- --
The next few months were delightful for Harry and Ginny. Both their birthdays came and went, and they discovered that, if there was enough peace on one end of their 'mind-link', as they had termed it, one of them could close their eyes and look through the other person's eyes, hearing, smelling, feeling and, if the other was eating, tasting too, whatever the other person could see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. They explored other areas of their 'mind-link' too, and soon realized that they could keep no secrets from each other.
Ginny was appalled at how the Dursleys treated him; whereas Harry was horrified at how often Ginny's four still-Hogwarts-aged brothers excluded her from everything. The 'mind-link', however, took their minds off all their other troubles, and things improved greatly for the both of them.
Another thing that they discovered about their 'mind-link' was that each night they had the option of whether to sleep normally or to reenter the odd grove in which they had first discovered their connection. They soon learned that sleep was to rest the body, not the mind, and they could stay in their 'dream-chamber', as they had termed these all night if so they wished and still wake up in the morning fresh and regenerated.
However, their bliss was short-lived. All too soon Harry had received his letter for Hogwarts, and now it was only the day before he left. The duo sat morosely at the weeping-tree, Harry's arm draped protectively over Ginny's shoulders.
I can't believe I'm not going to see you for a whole year! cried Ginny.
I know, Harry said sympathetically. This mind-link better work long-distance.
Oh, it will, said Ginny devilishly. Or I'll kill it.
You can't kill it! Harry laughed. Then it won't exist, you nincompoop.
Ginny pouted. Okay, here's my task while you're at Hogwarts. I'm going to convince Mum to let you come home with Ron for Christmas. She's already starting to love you like her own son.
Harry smiled. Your mum is so wonderful, he said. She's like my own mum the way she dotes on me. She's certainly the closest thing to a mum I've got.
But then you would be my brother! Ginny giggled. I've heard of these mind-link things before, but never between siblings! They both laughed.
The day ended all too soon.
-- -- --
Before they knew it, the next day had come around. Harry told the Dursleys that he would find his own way to King's Cross Station before running with his trunk-on-wheels trailing after him through the woods to the Burrow.
"Hello, Harry," said Mr. Weasley with a smile. "You've got your trunk, then? Good, good." Mr. Weasley took Harry's trunk from him to do God knows what with, and Harry gratefully rushed over to Ginny.
A few moments later, Harry discovered exactly how they were to get to King's Cross Station — Side-Along-Apparition. It seemed to simply be disappearing from one place and reappearing in another — but Harry soon discovered that it was quite different.
As you had to be 'of age' (seventeen) to Apparate by yourself, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley would be helping the six children along. Percy and Ron gripped an arm each of Mr. Weasley whereas he and Ginny held an arm each of Mrs. Weasley. Fred and George were staying behind — Mr. Weasley would be coming back for them.
Grasping his trunk with his free arm, Harry braced himself (for what he didn't know) but despite his tensed body and feeling of foreboding, he wasn't quite ready when Mrs. Weasley, and in turn he and Ginny too, disappeared with a loud and rather disconcerting pop.
It was the worst sensation of his life. Harry felt like he was being squeezed through a rubber tube that was way too tight; iron bands compressed his chest so that he could not breathe; his eyes were being pushed back into his skull; his mouth and nose were gravitationally forced closed; and he felt the rather peculiar sensation of something very hard and solid being wrapped around him, wrapped so tight that he could almost feel his skin being pushed back, stretched uncomfortably tight around his bones. And then —
And then it was all over. Eyes streaming, Harry gulped lungfuls of sweet spring air, enjoying the feeling of being able to move. Apparition could — and would — unnerve even the least claustrophobic of people. Rolling his shoulders and flexing his muscles, Harry let go of Mrs. Weasley's arm, slightly worried that he had cut off her circulation.
Ginny grinned at him. Not the most pleasant thing in the world, is it?
I'll say, answered Harry. It's horrid.
They had Apparated behind a little haven of bushes across the road from King's Cross Station. Apparently it was a popular destination for families with Hogwarts-age kids on September the 1st, for Harry thought he saw a glimpse of a woman with two children as they left.
The platform was bustling with people. Some looked like ordinary Muggles, but others pushed trolleys laden with trunks and caged owls.
Harry, Ginny, and the others walked towards the wall between platforms nine and ten slowly and purposefully. When they finally arrived, it was six minutes to eleven. Percy and Ron went through the barrier side by side, followed by Fred and George. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley went next, leaving Harry and Ginny by themselves.
Grabbing Ginny's arm, Harry steered the two of them through the barrier, gasping when they finally went through — the sight was amazing! The Hogwarts Express was shiny and red, with gold writing on the front that read; 'Hogwarts Express'. The writing was a rather fancy script, but seemed to be peeling all the same. Families bustled around the platform busily, saying their tearful goodbyes.
Though there was no need to continue holding Ginny's hand, Harry didn't let go. The tearful two boarded the train, Ginny helping Harry hoist his trunk up onto a shelf in one of the compartments.
Glancing out the window, Harry was shocked to find that it was one minute to eleven — they had one minute to say their farewells. Harry turned back to Ginny, who had seen the clock as well — he could tell. Wordlessly, without even saying anything through their mind link, Ginny threw her arms around Harry's waist, holding him tight. Then, glancing back only quickly, she tore out of the compartment, racing down the aisle and dodging everything she came across. Harry watched sadly as she departed. The train was just beginning to move when Ginny jumped off. Sighing, Harry turned around and sat on one of the seats in his compartment, feeling rather lonely all of a sudden.