Chapter Three: The Beginning of the End
Disclaimer: JK Rowling and Warner Bros. own it all!
Author's Note: This chapter starts the loving growing relationship of Ginerva Molly Weasley Westley and Harry James Potter Podder. (As one pointed out I made Ginny have a temper problem in the last two chapters.) I do hope you enjoy. Also, I don't know how to put it as "Harry sees through Voldemort's eyes" during his nightmare, so I'm sorry if it gets a bit confusing. ALSO, I don't know if that was how the murder went, I'm pretty sure it went differently in Canon, but this is one of the separation moments from Canon. Finally, I don't know what the schedules are like, but I'm just going to have them be separated by house and year. (AKA, First Year Gryffindor Transfiguration, etc.) EDITING OF PREV. CHAPTERS COMPLETE!
Harry glanced at the clock in the dorm as his stomach growled with hunger. It was one of those times that he would do anything for Mrs. Weasley's cooking, but Hogwarts would have to do for now…
After quickly changing into his school robes, he met up with Ginny in the common room. The girl was now back to her original red-headed self, which greatly improved her attitude. Harry smiled to himself. There was nothing more soothing to the mind than a calm Weasley. They continued down to the Great Hall, Harry masking his exhaustion as he walked. Defeating a Dark Lord didn't come easy; he hardly had enough energy to stand. Not that Ginny needed to know that. He figured he'd be back to normal within a few days if he remembered to ask Madam Promfey for an energy potion.
The doors to the Great Hall swung open and the two Gryffindors scurried to their house table. Both students and teachers entered and exited the colossal room, many of whom Harry did not know.
"Probably died in the first war." Harry thought. He looked around the teacher's table and saw that the defense position was once again, empty.
"I wonder if the position is cursed yet." he murmured to himself. As if reading his thoughts, Ginny muttered softly so that no one else would hear, "I wonder who the teacher is."
He nodded in agreement and curiosity, wanting to know who it might be. All his past defense teachers had been cowards, such as Quirrell, or imposters, meaning Crouch Jr… other than Remus that is.
Harry continued to study the Great Hall, looking for familiar faces. He bit back a laugh when he saw two familiar redheads near the end of the Gryffindor table.
"Ginny, look." He pointed towards his discovery.
The girl followed his gaze across the length of the table to find her parents. Ginny paled at the sight of the Weasley and Prewett, who were looking at each other in a disturbingly romantic way. If not for the fact that Ginny was going to be their daughter a decade or so, the sight might have been somewhat bearable. Instead, the girl looked revolted and swiftly turned away as Arthur gave Molly a quick peck on the forehead.
"I could get used to this." Harry chuckled at the sight of the girl's embarrassed expression. Her ears had turned a shade of red that would have put Ron to shame.
"The color really suits you, Ginny." Harry whispered as a swarm of owls came in. "Your expression right now is the final touch to the Westley masterpiece."
"Shut it, Podder." she grumbled angrily as she took a copy of the Daily Prophet. She scanned the paper quickly before giving it to the raven haired boy.
"Read." she spoke urgently, any anger replaced by worry. Harry accepted the paper– anything that made the red-head change emotions that hastily was worth looking into– and began reading.
MYSTERIOUS ATTACKS RESUME!
The Maximar house was raided by a group of wizards
and witches in black cloaks late last night. Wizarding
neighbors say they heard a loud feminine scream and a cry
for help from a man before all went silent. By the time the
Aurors arrived, Maybelle Maximar was found dead. Lamire
Maximar, husband of Maybelle, has been put into the
permanent injury ward for insanity. It seems that he was held
under the Cruciatus Curse for an excruciating long amount of
time. The same mark was found on top of the house, a skull
with a serpent, as the ones found in the Kays Manor and
the Carrow residence. The Ministry has decided to label
this the "Dark Mark". Their daughter, Tilue Maximar is
the Defense Against Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts,
therefore, was not at home during the attack.
"Carrows?" Harry commented, looking up from the paper.
"You're missing the point. He isn't reigning yet." Ginny whispered in a hoarse voice, though one could recognize excitement hidden within.
"Which gives us time to figure out how to get out of this bloody place." Harry finished, a smile creeping up onto his face. It slowly faded away as another thought came to him. "But… how long do we have?" This was one of those times that Harry wished he had paid closer attention in History of Magic. Binns would have talked about the first war with Voldemort.
"Probably less than a year." Ginny replied. "What?" Harry was looking at her with a bewildered face, making her snort with laughter.
"Unlike somebody, I didn't sleep through every class with Binns. I don't remember everything like Hermione does, but I get the gist of it." She paused while looking around the Great Hall, "It's too crowded here… lets go back to the tower."
Ginny got up from her seat, Harry quickly following her with the newspaper article in hand. As he neared the doors, a sudden, but familiar, jolt of pain conquered his forehead. His exhaustion forced his legs to collapse while his mind fogged and his vision blurred, the last coherent thought reaching him was the vague sound of Ginny's voice.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was having a marvelous day. The first night of Hogwarts had passed and the students were going to start attending classes in a hour. There was just once boy that caught his attention…
The first year, Harry Podder. How the hat had– no doubt– wanted to put him into Slytherin, but he ended up in Gryffindor. Why? Dumbledore wasn't complaining, but it was rather… mysterious how he had been sorted into Gryffindor. And it was rather annoying as well that the hat didn't offer anything on the boy. Said it was for his own good he didn't know.
His suspicions continued as he watched him and his red-headed friend read the morning paper. What was so interesting about the Daily Prophet article? Then, as the two left the Great Hall, the boy collapsed, falling to the ground with a thump. Something was definitely odd about that child.
He felt himself walk through the muggle neighborhood where his parents grew up. No, wait. Not his parents, this wasn't Godric's Hollow. It seemed more like the place where the Gaunts lived… There was only one logical reason– but the connection had been destroyed! Reluctantly, he allowed the body to gain control and watched, through the Riddle's eyes, his and Voldemort's actions. Riddle's face turned into a sneer at the thought of the mudblood who would soon be dead. He opened the door of the house with a quick "Alohomora" and stepped inside. As he– no, Riddle– suspected, the mudblood– No! Muggle– was oblivious to the intruder and turned around in the shock as he spoke.
"Father." he spat.
The man had aged a great deal since Harry last saw him from the memory, his once brown hair now gray and wrinkles formed around the forehead. Dark circles surrounded the eyes, as if the muggle had not slept for days. The aftereffects of the potion along with stress had taken its roll on the man.
"Who– I never– You lie!" the man stuttered, gasping for breath between words.
"I don't lie, dear Father." Voldemort sneered, "Merope Gaunt– that witch that lived up the lane– was my mother."
"Liar! Get… Get out!"
"Father, why are you so insistent that I'm not your son?" Voldemort taunted in a sickening sweet voice, "I feel hurt." The wizard put on a fake pout and then held up a wooden stick for the elder to see.
The man trembled, no doubt knowing what the object was. The older Riddle's knees collapsed, sending him falling to the floor.
"You too? A– A wizard?"
The sound of distaste was evident in the elder's voice which sent feelings of fury through the rising Dark Lord's body. Harry mentally cringed as rage swelled within him, destroying any other emotion Voldemort was capable of feeling, replacing anger with pure hatred.
"Oh, yes, dear father. I had the liberty of growing up in an orphanage." he spat the word at the man venomously, "Finding out I was magical– going to a wizarding school– and then," he paused for the dramatic effect, sending shudders through the senior Riddle, "Finding out my mother's blood had been pure Slytherin and mine had been tainted by the likes of a mudblood, by the likes of you!"
Harry realized that the fake kindness was now completely gone. Then again, when was Voldemort ever kind? He shook his head in annoyance and continued watching.
"Imagine the shock I had after realizing I was the greatest founder's, Slytherin's, heir, as well as a muggle's son. Imagine the admiration I had felt towards the great wizard– to be throwing into reality with the knowledge that I was a mere half-blood! Tom Marvolo Riddle– named after my father as the people at the orphanage told me– was a filthy disgrace to the magical world. Slytherin's half-blood, they all called me once they found out."
"You were named after me?" the elder whispered in a weak voice.
"You didn't even name me, did you." A statement, not a question. "You left my mother, as well as me, to die. You didn't do anything to help your only son because he, as well as your wife, was a part of a magical society." Voldemort snarled. Harry felt a wave of genuine sadness– no, not sadness– Regret? No, it wasn't regret either. It wasn't loath, but the feeling of being abandoned and rejected. For the second time in his life, Harry felt sorry for the dark wizard.
"She's dead?" the father asked. Harry heard a small trace of sorrow within the old man's words along with the obvious relief.
"And you will be too." the younger continued, raising his wand. He cast the silencing charm over the building before turning to the fallen figure.
"Crucio." He repeated over and over again. Voldemort's father cried out in pain and devastation while being subjected to a punishment many would consider far worse than the killing curse. The screams increased the Dark Lord's fury– he wanted to make the man suffer, to die a painful death. He wanted to make the man feel what he had been through for years. However, it would not do to leave any physical inflictions for the mudblood authorities to find– no, he could not risk it yet. He still needed the wizarding world to be a secret. He grinned wickedly at the defeated man, deciding to finish it once and for all.
"Avada Kedavra." he completed, a warmth filling his hand. It was pleasurable– oh so pleasurable. He could continue killing much easier now, it was rather addicting, the feeling. A burst of blinding green light erupted from the end of his wand, showering over the near-insane figure. Etched into his face was an expression of fear, shock, and repulsion. For the first time in his life, Voldemort let out a high pitched cackle, as sweet sounding as nails on a chalkboard. He turned to the kitchen, to find the elder Riddle's mother and father. He quickly killed his grandparents, a simple killing curse, before he left the house, fully ready to start on his evil reign. If he had looked deep enough, he would have found the smallest hint of remorse in the Riddle's dying face. And with that, Harry felt himself leaving the body of the murderer.
Harry gasped for breath as his eyes flew open, shocked at what he had just witnessed. As he collected himself, he looked around, to find himself in a place that was much too familiar to him.
"Only I could end up in the Hospital Wing on the first day."
"Harry?" The male turned to face Ginny who was wearing an cross of two expressions. Relief and suspicion. Harry wasn't looking forward to being confronted with the latter.
"Are you okay? Does it hurt anywhere?" Within a second she had rushed to his side, very much like what her mother would have done.
"I'm fine, Gin." Harry replied, chuckling to himself. Ginny sat down on the bed and stared off into space, as if there were something on the wall behind him. They sat in silence for a few seconds before Harry finally gave in.
"I had a dream." he started.
"A dream." Ginny repeated. It took a while for the words to sink in. Once they did, she turned to him in bewilderment.
"But– the horcrux?"
Harry shrugged, "I don't know why the I'm still connected to Voldemort's mind… I wish I wasn't. I saw– " Against his will, he shuddered.
Ginny looked at him with concern before rubbing his back in a soothing fashion.
"Saw what?" she asked softly.
"I saw Riddle Senior's death." His answer was indirect, but it was all Ginny needed. The sight of someone dying before you while you were helpless was something she understood very well. She had felt it multiple times during the last battle, when she was forced to stay away from the fighting. She had felt it without seeing it when Fred had died, knowing he died in the same building as her, in a place where there were trained adults. No matter how many times you faced it, the thought of saving them never left you. The emotion-filled eyes being turned into empty spheres of nothingness within a second haunted you for the rest of your life.
"I thought Voldemort was incapable of emotion, but I felt it. It lasted for a single second, but I felt it." He looked at Ginny with sad and sympathetic eyes.
"Voldemort felt abandoned. Betrayed." He feels sorry for him.
"When he confronted his father, all he felt was anger. When he spoke, it was hatred. When he tortured and killed the muggle, it became revenge and disgust. But in-between, Voldemort was like a child, a rejected child."
Ginny was speechless. Tom Riddle– compared to a innocent child? The same person who possessed her and nearly killed her as an eleven year old, when Ginny herself, was a child?
"I think I really did feel sorry for him back then." Harry murmured. Ginny looked up in surprise.
"Remember what I said last night? In my sixth year, Dumbledore showed me a memory about Riddle. His mother died right after he was born, fully knowing the life she would be condemning her son to. She didn't stay alive to raise him, she had given up magic because of the senior Riddle. Dumbledore asked me if I felt sorry for Voldemort and I said no. But I– I'd like to think that I would be human enough to pity him. To show emotion."
She understood the hidden meaning behind the words perfectly. Without hesitating, she pulled Harry into a tight hug, before whispering a few soothing words.
"You'd never become like Voldemort, Harry. You'd never let the darkness consume you. You have Ron, Hermione, and… and me. Emotions are practically a substitute for breathing in the Weasley household, Harry." She heard the faint laughter escape the boy's throat and knew she was getting somewhere. "Just think of my mum for example. Remember the first summer? If she wasn't screaming her head off at the tw– my brothers, she was asking you if you wanted more food." Ginny smiled at the memory. "And I'd be hiding from you out of embarrassment."
This time, a true laugh sounded as Harry returned the embrace. Ginny blushed as they pulled away, having Harry's scent committed to memory.
"We have to be ready." said Harry. The girl was startled at the sudden change in subject and the determination behind the boy's voice. "He's going to start his reign soon."
"How do you know?"
"The memories…" Harry responded. "I remember Dumbledore refused Riddle the position of Defense, and at that time, he was already known as Lord Voldemort. The defense teacher's being hunted down," he motioned towards the article printed on the Daily Prophet, "which means Voldemort's probably going to ask for the position by the end of this year."
"And he will ask for the position after he goes public." said Ginny, eyes widening as she caught on.
"He's going to reveal himself soon. Very soon." the raven haired boy replied absently.
An empty auditorium could not be compared to the silence that roamed through the room. Leaving a time where Voldemort had just been defeated, students and adults had been killed, to one where he was about to rise would have been too devastating for most people. However, the boy was the boy-who-lived, the survivor and destroyer of the darkness. The girl was the framed, the innocent, the ex-host of the sixteen year old version of the Dark Lord. They were both survivors, survivors of war and survivors of themselves.
"What are we going to do?" The question was nearly inaudible.
"Whatever we can do."
"Now, make sure you drink this potion before you go to bed tonight, it'll help you sleep easier. And this– " Madam Promfey rushed towards the exiting patient to his friend a handful of potions. Ginny winced at the odor the liquids produced, thankful that she didn't have to drink the vile potions. It didn't stop the matron, however, to force more things for Harry to take into her arms.
"The wound-healing potion, the purple one, should help with the cuts on his body." She paused, as if wanting to add something.
"Harry," the boy looked surprised at the mention of his first name, "If you ever want to talk about something, feel free to come to me." She gave a kind smile before urging them out of the room. "Now, I believe you have classes to attend. You didn't pick up your schedules at breakfast, so I believe these would be yours." She then handed the two their schedules before shooing them out.
The two left quickly, Harry sparing a glance over his shoulder as he walked. The healer sighed and walked back to her room while muttering under her breath. "All those unhealed cuts and bruises… Poor boy."
The two stopped by the Gryffindor dorms to drop off the vast amount of potions and picked up their transfiguration books and equipment for their first class of the term, Transfiguration. After checking the time, they rushed out of the house tower, trying not to cringe in fear while picturing McGonagall's reaction. They collapsed into their seats just as the bell sounded in a loud, ringing tone.
Harry looked up at the desk to find a familiar cat residing on top of it. He smirked to himself, knowing whoever had the stupidity to be late would be lured into a fake sense of relief– as he and Ron had in his first year– before McGonagall pounced on them with fury. As suspected, two students entered the classroom with frightened expressions.
"Yes! She's not here yet." Harry turned his head to find the future Marauders, James Potter and Sirius Black. The two boys– along with the rest of the class– watched in awe as the cat turned into a human. A very angry human. He could hear Ginny holding back her laughter as McGonagall lectured.
"Why are you two late, Mr. Potter and Mr. Black?"
"We erm– "
"Hogwarts is very– er– large and…"
"– got lost?"
"Then perhaps a map would be in order." McGonagall reprimanded. "I trust you don't need one to find your seats!"
Harry couldn't help but let out a snort at the familiar phrase. McGonagall heard him– she was much more aware of her surroundings than she was in his time.
"Is there something you'd like to add, Mr. Podder?" Her lips were held firm in a thin line that could easily scare anybody. He wasn't any different.
"No, Professor." Harry responded sheepishly. It did not, however, keep him from glancing at his father and godfather. Surprisingly, they were staring in his directing as well. James was glaring at him, as if daring Harry to laugh at him, and Sirius… Was Sirius checking Ginny out? He shot a deadly look at the future Azkaban escapee before turning his attention to McGonagall. As he picked up his quill, he thought he heard a small snicker coming from the red-headed girl that sat to his right.
Potions was no better than when Snape had been in control of the class. It was a double class, spent with Slytherins.
"I'm Professor Slughorn, and I will be teaching you the art of potion making." The instructor had a mischievous glint in his eye as he scanned the class, no doubt looking for people to join his little club. "For today, I'd like to see how you do. We'll be making a simple boil-cure potion, nothing too hard. I'll come around near the end of the class period to check on your potion. If it looks about right, you get full points."
"And a free trip to the hell-club." Harry muttered under his breath as he gathered the ingredients. The rest of the period went by rather quickly, to Harry's great relief. Looking around the room, he saw that Snape and his mother had perfected their potion and were reading ahead in their textbooks.
"Ah! Mr. Snape and Ms. Evans have made a near-perfect boil-cure potion. The color is just a tad lighter– if you let it sit for about an hour, Madam Promfey should be able to use it." Lily beamed happily at the compliment, but Snape did the opposite. Glaring at the retreating professor furiously, he threw into the cauldron a single porcupine quill. The liquid fizzed– loudly– and once the smoke had cleared, the potion had become a slight bit darker. Shocked couldn't describe the expression Slughorn held.
"My– in all my years– " He spluttered before clearing his throat and booming in a proud voice, "Wonderful job, Mr. Snape! Splendid, yes, yes, I suppose the porcupine quill does the trick as well. Five points to Slytherin for taking a chance!"
Snape merely nodded at his head of house before turning back to his book. Any anger had disappeared into a mask of nothingness.
"Ah, Mr. Podder and Ms. Westley, your potions are just a bit off– Perhaps you should stir it once counter clock wise." Ginny obeyed Slughorn and gracefully stirred the substance. The effect was immediate.
"Full marks as well as five points to Gryffindor for the beautiful mixture. Have you two done this before?"
"Wha– erm, no. We just did what the instructions told us, sir."
"Oho! Yes, doing what the instructions tell you would be the best way to make full marks in this class." Harry couldn't help but notice that Slughorn was staring at someone. Following his gaze, he saw two certain people trying to throw things into their cauldron.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Black? Perhaps you'd– " his sentence was never completed because Harry interrupted him with a shout.
Sirius looked up, dropping a handful of porcupine quills into the cauldron while it was still on the fire. Instinctively, Harry grabbed Ginny's arm and pulled her downwards as the potion splattered on everyone in the room. Sirius was the first to scream in pain, followed up by most of the students in the class who were, instead, screaming in panic.
"Idiot!" Snape snarled at the Gryffindor, reminding Harry of his first year, "I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?"
"Now now, Mr. Snape, it was an accident. I'll just clean up the mess," Slughorn waved his wand, "Mr. Potter, could you please take Mr. Black to the hospital wing? Yes, thank you." The instructor clapped his hands together. "That's all for today, for homework, write why the porcupine quills reacted the way they did." He paused. "Mr. Snape, Ms. Evans, Mr. Podder, and Ms. Westley, could you four please stay after class? The rest of you may go."
Harry exchanged a look with Ginny before dragging her to the professor's desk. Lily seemed to have done the same, since Snape was mumbling about forcing him to do stuff. Harry couldn't help but grin– his mother really did have a large impact on Snape's life.
"You see, I have this group of talented students of all ages," Slughorn started.
"More like famous and well-known." Harry thought.
"And I'd like you four to join our little club."
"Slug-club, one of the worst things that happened in my life. . ."
"It's called the Slug-club and we're meeting, not tonight, but the Thursday night of next week."
Lily nodded eagerly. "Sev and I will definitely be there, sir." Slughorn beamed, not noticing Snape's groan.
Harry glanced at Ginny once more. She shrugged. Not wanting to be rude, he gave a vague answer.
"Ginny and I will think about it, professor." Lily looked shocked at his answer. As he left the classroom, all he could think about was the fact that there was another Hermione he had to deal with in this lifetime. As much as he loved her, a constant bookworm was something he would not look forward to.
They then walked to the Great Hall once again for lunch. Behind them were Lily and Snape who were talking about their next classes. It was sad to think a single word destroyed their friendship.
"Hey Podder, Westley." James called from the Gryffindor table. They sat down next to him and Remus silently, not knowing what to say. James fixed the problem for them as two more people walked near the table.
"Evans! Come sit– " He then caught sight of the Slytherin and his face turned into a glare. "Why are you hanging out with that?" The distaste in his voice was obvious.
Lily stared at James, looking ready to pull his hair out. She decided that getting into a physical fight wouldn't work, so she settled with verbal, and stomped over to the other first year.
"He is my friend, and he has a name. It's Severus. I suggest you don't insult him like that ever again or I will hex you so badly that there will be a permanent bed for you in the hospital wing. Your friend– Black– would probably enjoy the company." With that, she turned away and took Snape's arm, completing her rant by saying, "Let's go, Sev."
Both Harry and Ginny knew that she had given an empty threat since she hadn't learned any hexes yet. James, however, had paled slightly. Harry wasn't sure if it was because of the threat or because of the fact that Lily Evans had one nasty temper. Once James settled back down at the table, Harry whispered to him softly. "Never make red-heads angry." The single comment earned him a punch in the shoulder.
"Why are we here again? They could be anywhere and all you think about is the bloody library." Ron asked as he collapsed into the library chairs. The sun had set ages ago and he was ready to get some sleep. He and Hermione had spent the last two days searching for clues that might tell them where Ginny and Harry had went. So far, no luck. The entire Order was put on watch, looking for any signs of the two teenagers. Sure, Voldemort was dead, but that didn't mean there weren't death eaters seeking revenge.
"Ron, look at this book." she said, ignoring the previous comment.
He sighed and turned to Hermione. "Time Trav– " His eyes widened. "You aren't serious, right?"
"I'm fully serious. Read this book."
This was going to be a long night.
Author's Note: One comment- I'm sorry for the long wait. Nine pages on Microsoft Works, I'm going to aim for fifteen next time. Hopefully… Next chapter should have some Marauder/HarryandGinny bonding. Alice, Frank, Molly, and Arthur should appear in the next chapter as well. (Alice and Frank are in third year. Molly and Arthur are in seventh.)