I went fishing for a big fat golden fish and I caught a jellyfish instead. The jellyfish is cool, but some of its legs are missing and it's a little bit ugly. The jellyfish is a rather spot on analogy for this story.
Prompts included several old ideas, a pot noodle, the Queen's Jubilee and my friend's ridiculously large and adorable dog. The outcome somehow represents something entirely different from any of these, but stay with me on this one, I promise I haven't failed completely.
Lyrics written below and at the beginning of some chapters are not mine, they are Twin Shadow's. Golden Light acted as a sort of backing track to the story, and I'd recommend listening to it as the lyrics seem to fit the message I was trying to get across.
All other lyrics are the sole work of The Beatles and their affiliates. They are not mine. Most of the characters and ideas in this story are J.K. Rowling's.
Be aware this fic mentions smoking, mild drug use and non consenting and underage sex. I apologise for any errors - I checked through several times but there might still be one or two.
I would like to thank HARRYPOTTERlovesDRACOMALFOY for correcting my mistakes and waiting patiently to do so and to demusforever who listened to me rattle on about my ideas. Love you both !
I want to dedicate this story to Parsley: for keeping me company, meowing at me when I was trying to write, sprawling on the laptop and just being there to dribble over me when I had Writer's Block. I'll love you forever. R.I.P.
Some people say there's a golden light
You're the golden light
And if I chase after you
Doesn't mean that it's true
Some people say there's a golden light
If I'm the golden light
If you chase after me
Doesn't mean you can see
Twin Shadow - Golden Light
It was five to five on a Thursday by Harry's watch and he had very nearly lost the will to live. At the desk next to his, Nathaniel chuckled at the pages of his Muggle magazine. "What?" Harry said shortly, knowing if he didn't ask now, Nathaniel would only continue snickering to himself until he did.
"Look at that Potter," Nathaniel jeered, holding up his magazine and gesturing to a picture of a familiar, scantily clad pop star. Harry had seen her before many times in Nathaniel's magazines, on the t-shirts of young Muggles and on TV at home. In Harry's opinion, it wasn't so much her singing that bought her fame, but her lack of inhibition when it came to taking her clothes off or talking about her sex-life.
"Yeah?" Harry replied, waiting for the sordid comment that was sure to follow whilst rummaging through the pockets of his jacket for his packet of cigarettes.
"She says there's nothing she hasn't or won't try..." Nathaniel paused for effect. "In the bedroom." Harry nodded.
"How nice of her to share that with us."
Nathaniel made an appreciative noise as though he really did think so and continued leering at the article, his feet up on the desk before him. He had black hair like Harry's that he wore slicked back with lashings of jell that should have been too much, though it always looked right. He was tall and always impeccably clean-shaven, often making Harry feel a little bit scruffy with his ever-present day old stubble he never seemed able to catch up with. Sometimes Harry wondered if he should be jelling his hair instead of leaving it falling all over his forehead in the hopes it would conceal his now-faint scar and therefore his identity.
A seagull flew past the window in their office and Harry wished – not for the first time – that their view was something other than a square of sky and the top of a distant crane. He could hardly complain however: Ron's office didn't even have a window. He also shared with three other Wizards and a plump Witch who brought sugared doughnuts into work every day. Unsurprisingly, Ron had put on something in the region of half a stone since working in the Ministry.
Thinking fondly of Ron, Harry remembered he was meant to be wishing him farewell out the back at five. "Nathaniel, I'm going out for a smoke." Harry sighed, standing up and taking his jacket. He tucked a cigarette behind his ear as Nathaniel grunted in response, still absorbed in the antics of promiscuous pop stars. Harry wandered through the door to their office that was kept open by an ugly snowman doorstop from unknown origins.
It wasn't like Harry had always been a pencil pusher in a dingy office. Sometimes he was out in the field, but more often or not that was just training, or removing a drunken Warlock from a public place. Someone somewhere had paired him up with Nathaniel: a wizard of twenty eight with far more experience than Harry at twenty, but apparently they had every faith in his abilities. Crime rates had reached an all time low and Harry had found himself pushing papers all day, completing reports and reading instructions that made little or no sense to him. Some days he'd pull a Nathaniel and bring a (clean, most often Quidditch) magazine into work and spend the day poring over it. If Nathaniel hadn't been fired after shirking off every day for three years then he could get away with it once or twice.
When Harry got to the concrete yard where smokers, traders and slackers gathered, he found Ron leaning against the brick wall, holding his mobile phone upside down and squinting at the screen.
"Other way." Harry said to him, taking the cigarette from behind his ear and putting it in his mouth.
"Right. Yeah." Ron laughed, turning it the right way again. "I think I have a texted post message from Hermione." Harry dug around for the box of matches he kept in the back pocket of his trousers and peered over Ron's shoulder at the screen. Hermione had bought the mobile a month ago to try and keep Ron in contact with both her and Harry - not to mention Ginny who'd branched out into the Muggle world as well. So far however, Ron had had less luck with it than someone's ancient great-grandfather might.
"Press that." Harry said, pointing to the main button on the handset. Ron did so, his tongue sticking out as he concentrated. Harry took a drag from his cigarette and watched two tradesmen levitate a crate of Aunt Nora's Finest Pumpkin Pasties through the back door.
"Listen to this!" Ron snorted, looking at the screen of his phone. "I want you to double-check all of your packing because I know you'll have forgotten something important, probably your SUN HAT," he read in the voice he reserved for imitating Hermione. Harry smiled and blew a smoke ring into the air, watching it rise up into the overcast sky above him. Ron took a breath and continued reading. "I don't want you to have to waste money out there. The price of living is extortionate and you'll never get the deposit for a flat if you squander all your galleons." Harry smiled fondly, grateful he wasn't travelling with his best friends on this particular adventure. Not for all the gold in Gringotts would he sit between a bickering Ron and Hermione on a transatlantic flight to Australia. "A week." Ron cried. "That's all we're going for!"
"Where would we be without Hermione, eh?" Harry sighed wistfully, taking another drag on his cigarette.
"A lot happier, that's where." Ron muttered, pocketing his phone. "And stop this-" he snatched the cigarette from Harry's mouth and threw it on the floor, crushing it with the heel of his shoe. "-or I'll tell her that you lied about quitting." Harry frowned, looking longingly at the rest of his cigarette laying ground into the concrete. There was no need to ask who 'her' was. Hermione had almost torn his throat out when he'd first taken out a cigarette in front of her. She'd watched in horror as he'd put it in his mouth and lit it, before tearing it from him and beginning a two-hour lecture about Harry's health and emotionally vulnerable state. Ron continued his rant as Harry contemplated getting another one out. "A sun hat I ask you! I'm not buying a sun hat! What does she take me for? I'll look like a right idiot!"
"Like I'm a stranger to that." came the muttered response. Harry checked his watch again; the one Mrs Weasley had bought him four years ago, and found it was quarter past five, very nearly home time. Tomorrow was his last day in work before his well deserved week off, and with very mild weather forecast, he planned to enjoy it thoroughly. He had of course, been invited to fly out to Australia with Hermione and Ron to visit her parents, who – even after having their memories reinstated – had decided to live out there for good. Harry had politely declined. Hermione had accused him of shrinking into his shell and Ron had begged him to come along and ease the company that was Hermione's. ("Well thank you very much Ronald - I am in the room you know!) Rather than oblige, Harry had said he was having Teddy over on Friday so he'd just have to stay at home. This had been a measly excuse, but Hermione had simply shaken her head in exasperation and continued alphabetizing the books on Harry's bookcase. Ron had pretended to weep behind her, much to Harry's amusement. "Well I'm done here." Ron sighed, picking up his tattered briefcase and tucking his mobile phone in the pocket of his coat. "I have to go home and re-pack everything for tomorrow or 'Mione will have a fit."
"Have a nice time!" Harry grinned as Ron turned to leave with his briefcase and a Daily Prophet tucked under his arm. Quite out of nowhere, a photo in the paper caught Harry's eye and he held his hand out to stop the other boy leaving. "Wait," he said quickly, taking the paper and unfolding it.
"Keep it mate, I've got to run!" Ron called. Harry waved absently, staring down at the moving picture that had seized his attention. It was part of a small article about property prices in traditional Wizarding villages. The picture was of Godric's Hollow, captured in a way that made Harry hold his breath.
The focus of the picture was the statue of his parents and himself as a baby, taken from the ground so blades of grass that were swaying in the breeze partially covered the lens. It was as though the photographer had been lying on the ground when they took it. The sun poured onto the scene, bathing the memorial in a warm light as a young Wizarding couple walked idly past, hand in hand. Harry continued to ogle the picture as he ambled back into the Ministry.
He had only seen Godric's Hollow in the winter, and in circumstances that left him with little time to admire it. Wondering absently what it was like at this time of the year - in June, Harry waited for the lift up to his floor. It opened with a ping and several paper aeroplanes whizzed out over the head of someone who bumped into Harry as he walked forward into the lift without looking. "Sorry." Harry said inattentively, his nose picking up a smell vaguely familiar to him. He tore his eyes from the picture and looked around him, but the person he'd walked into seemed to have joined the crowd of Ministry officials flooding out of the building and heading home.
Oh well, Harry thought, they can't have been that bothered about his carelessness. The smell lingered in his nostrils a moment longer and dispersed almost immediately, taking Harry back to Godric's Hollow and wondering what the air smelt like there, right now.
It was three years since Harry had left The Battle of Hogwarts behind him. He had taken on a job as an Auror when the Ministry hadn't cared about the necessary NEWT requirements. A good thing too when Harry hadn't even turned up at Hogwarts for his seventh year. Ron had gotten in as well, but had pursued a career in Interrogation, envisioning himself as a 'bad cop' type. This meant he was swamped with piles of reports and tests that left him in a cramped office with several other juniors. Harry, preferring the hands on approach and being very readily taken on by his superiors, had worked hard and trained well, resulting in his promotion working with Nathaniel, who was nearly thirty and better at his job than Harry would ever have envisioned.
His job was something he had dubious feelings about, though he wouldn't have dared voice this to Ron, who'd consider him ungrateful or Hermione, who'd worry for his emotional stability - something she seemed to be doing a great deal of recently.
When Harry got back to his office, Nathaniel had already donned his coat and stowed his magazine safely into his satchel. Of late, Harry had noticed Nathaniel looking less like a carefree bachelor and more like he'd just stepped out of a fashionable Muggle catalogue. Harry suspected it was his new girlfriend dressing him. Harry also believed Nathaniel cutting down his men's magazine habit by a whole half was due to his new girlfriend too.
"Someone came looking for you." Nathaniel said as he pushed stacks of unfinished assignments into his drawer.
"Who?" Harry asked, throwing the Prophet on his desk and stuffing reports into his briefcase.
"Some arty type, he looked vaguely familiar." Nathaniel replied, heading for the door. "I think he was a journalist."
"Merlin." Harry muttered. "That's just what I need."
"Cheer up Potter. It's a uniform job tomorrow!" Nathaniel called, loping out of their office and down the hallway.
A uniform job was a good thing. It meant he'd be on call with Nathaniel to tend to small matters of crime occurring up and down the country. Although Harry never knew what to expect when he Apparated or stepped into the flames of the Floo network, it was always far more interesting than sitting around in his office.
Harry got home late after deciding to take the train. He could easily have Flooed or Apparated like many Wizards did, but the comforting clickety-clack of the train on the line made him appreciate the whole 'going home' event. Lifting his spirits a little more when he arrived home was the ecstatic greeting Charlie the chocolate Labrador gave him and the thought that tomorrow he'd be heading out into the wide world to do some good.
Harry dumped his briefcase in the hallway and kicked off his shoes. Charlie – as he usually did – thought this was some sort of game and picked a shoe up in his mouth, galloping into the bedroom. The light flashed on his answering phone and Harry pressed play as he hung his jacket on the coat rack and tripped out of his work trousers.
"Charlie! Bring that back!" he shouted.
"Hi Harry its Me." said Ginny's voice. Harry's stomach twisted into several uncomfortable knots. He hadn't spoken to Ginny in months. "I wanted to know if we could meet up and talk about what happened. Ron told me you have a week off so let me know when you're ready okay?"
She left her number as Harry stood in the hallway, his trousers around his ankles. Merlin, she wanted to talk. Charlie skidded back into the hallway without the shoe and jumped up at Harry as though he'd forgotten he'd already greeted him.
"She wants to talk." Harry whined, rubbing Charlie's silky brown ears. Charlie whined back, probably not in sympathy, but Harry felt comforted all the same. Harry realised he would rather talk to his own dog than his ambiguous girlfriend and decided maybe he should just meet Ginny and explain to her that he'd had a momentary prolapse of emotions and he didn't know what was wrong with him. It wasn't something he wanted to think about let alone explain, but maybe Hermione was right and he needed to start facing up to his emotional last time he'd seen Ginny he'd had his t-shirt on back to front as he'd tripped out of her bedroom in The Burrow at dawn.
It had been hard, after the Battle, or the war, or 'back then' as Harry called it, to try and assemble his feelings. He'd told Ginny he was going to get a job and a flat and watch this space; everything was going to be fine. Ginny had raised her eyebrows but told him she'd wait, throwing herself into helping rebuild Hogwarts and her Quidditch career as she did so.
Every now and then they'd meet up at The Burrow for someone's birthday or a Christmas party and Ginny would smile at him playfully, look up from under her lashes and ask if he'd assembled his life yet. Harry would laugh too loudly and sometimes wind a lock of her red hair around his finger as he told her about how well he was doing, though never saying he felt ready to be with her. Then he'd drink too much Eggnog or Fire Whiskey and crash his lips against hers under the mistletoe or in the twilight of the overgrown garden.
Once or twice Harry had invited her back to his flat and they'd fallen into his bed, Harry remembering very little of what happened the next day as he was always plastered, barely able to unhook her bra and slur how much he loved her. She'd bring him breakfast in the morning and tell him to get a hold of himself before leaving him alone with a hangover and a heavy heart.
It was New Years Eve when he really screwed up. He hadn't drunk anything all night because he'd been on call for the next two days. Ginny had gone sober with him as she'd had a big match coming up, and they'd both laughed at Ron trying to ballroom dance with Hermione, crossing his eyes with effort. "He looks like he can't understand why he's tripping over his feet." Ginny had giggled, taking Ron's seventh Butterbeer and Brandy concoction from him. Harry had kissed her when the clock struck midnight and hugged the entire entourage of guests one by one.
Later on they had all dispersed merrily, Flooing home or sprawling on the sofas with their lopsided party hats. Ginny had taken his hand and led him up to her room where a full moon washed over them both, bathing them in its silvery hue. She told him about her approaching Quidditch match and talked tactics with him, reminiscing times Oliver Wood had them practice in all weathers. Harry had laughed and remembered with her, running his hand through her hair and watching her lips speak to him.
They had talked until dawn, when the house had fallen silent and a marmalade sun had risen on the horizon. Harry had blinked drowsily in its glow, marvelling at the pastel colours of the sky. He'd shaken Ginny awake to see it as she lay dozing on his chest and they'd watched it for a while as Harry listened to their breathing, trying to synchronise his with Ginny's. Then she had turned to him, looking into his eyes before kissing him softly.
As they sought out each other's skin, it had struck Harry it was the first time he'd done this sober, and he felt every touch and saw every detail, sharp and alive before him. It was intense. It was vivid. He had stilled, breathing heavily and looking down into Ginny's eyes. She had frowned. "Harry?"
Yes, he'd thought, I'm here. I'm here with you and we're together. I can feel this. She was so beautiful; it made Harry's heart sink.
And that was it. He loved her too much.
She was his family and Harry could not sleep with her. She was part of the only loving kinship he'd ever known and he couldn't do it. He had tripped out of her bed, tangled in the sheets, horror thrumming through his veins, and he'd pulled on the clothes she'd stripped from him. "Oh my God, Ginny," he had breathed, dizzy with the revelation and the shame. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
She had pulled the sheets around her bare skin like a shroud and her expression had turned steely. "I know it's not Me." she'd said in a grievous whisper. Harry had turned away, feeling the sting in the words as he pushed his feet into his trainers and fled from the room.
He had made it all the way downstairs when he'd bumped into Hermione in the kitchen, where she was sipping a mug of something hot and staring out of the window at the same sleepy sky. She'd given him one look and shaken her head knowingly. "Oh Harry," she'd sighed. Harry had ducked his head and left, staggering down the garden path in his haste, clearing the rusted gate and turning on the spot, vanishing in the dawn and Apparating in the hallway of his flat. Then he'd locked himself in the bathroom and howled unashamedly at his own instability as Charlie scratched at the door, howling back.
That afternoon there had been a knock at the front door. Harry had been buried beneath the duvet in his bed, sleeping fitfully. He had waited for the caller to leave but they'd opened the letterbox and shouted through, sending Charlie into convulsions of exhilaration. "Harry!" Ron had called. Harry had been so pleased to hear a friend's voice he hadn't stopped to think, and had dragged himself from his bed to open the door. The breath had been knocked out of him as Ron shoved him backwards, throwing his jacket at him. "You left that back at ours." Ron had snarled. "You know, when you ran out this morning?"
"Why did you run out Harry?" Ron was advancing on him, his eyes flashing furiously. He must have had a terrible hangover, his eyes were dark and circled and his hair was plastered to his forehead. Charlie ran nervous laps up and down the hallway, whimpering hysterically. Harry held his hands up.
"Ginny's like a sister to me Ron I couldn't-" Ron's fist lashed out at Harry's jaw and Harry had just enough time to bring his arms up to his face and shield himself. "A sister?" Ron cried, scandalised. "You don't kiss a sister like that every time you see her! You don't go to bed with your sister!"
"I didn't Ron! That's why I left!"Ron had shoved him again.
"But you have slept with her!" he'd spat "I've been ignoring it because I thought I could trust you!"
"Listen to me!" Ron had roared, sending Charlie to cower under the bed and making Harry wince. "She's my sister Harry." he'd growled. "Don't you ever do this to her again." He'd slammed out of the flat and left Harry feeling like something someone had trodden in. They hadn't spoken for a week and Ron had even gone as far as to ignore him when they passed one another in work. Eventually Hermione had stepped in and sat them down at the table in her parent's old house.
"Harry's having a nervous breakdown Ron,"
"I am not!" A nervous breakdown?
"Harry, you're not...coping...as well as we thought you would." Harry had very nearly stormed out until Ron had spoken.
"He's coping fine." he'd grumbled and Hermione had blinked in surprise. "As long as he leaves my sister alone I don't care."
Harry remembered the weight on his shoulders had lifted slightly and he had breathed a sigh of relief. "I never meant to treat her like that Ron. I really care about her." Hermione had nodded feverishly. "Ron." she'd prompted.
"I know." he'd sighed. "Sorry for losing it Harry mate. I know you'd never do it on purpose." Harry had given him a watery smile and shaken his hand while Hermione clapped her own hands together, blowing the hair out of her face in relief.
"Well I'm glad that's sorted! I hate it when you two argue!" For a moment, Harry had considered asking her how she thought he felt listening to her and Ron bicker constantly, but he had decided against starting any more conflicts. All had been well after that. Up until now that is, when Ginny had declared she wanted to talk.
It was a no-win situation: if he didn't talk to her, he'd be a coward, if he did; Ron might tear his head off with his bare hands. Harry couldn't decide which prospect he'd rather face. Instead, he rang up Andromeda to ask what time Teddy was coming over tomorrow. Teddy himself answered the phone. "Hello?"
"Hello Teddy, is Grandma about?"
"I don't know." Teddy said softly. "I'm doing a picture of Charlie for you Harry."
"That's lovely. Will you bring it tomorrow?"
"Yes." Teddy hummed quietly to himself and Harry waited. A special kind of patience was needed when he spoke to Teddy. He was exceptionally bright and responsible for a three-year old, but he lived in his own world and seemed to think adult care was wholly necessary.
"Do you think you could find Grandma for me Teddy?" Teddy made a thoughtful noise.
"The phone's stuck on a string, Harry." Harry rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"It's a cord. Just put the phone down on the table and find Grandma."
"No thank you." Harry had to laugh. Fortunately for him, Andromeda was never far away and Harry heard her crooning in amusement at Teddy in the background.
"Who's that Teddy? Your Godfather?"
"Yes. He's being very bossy." Andromeda chuckled and Harry frowned as he heard her take the phone.
"Hi. I was just wondering what time Teddy was coming over tomorrow?"
"Shall we say half past four? I know you finish early on a Friday."
"That's fine. Tell him to bring the picture of Charlie he's working on – and tell him I said please, just in case he thinks I'm being bossy."
"I will. You wait until you see his hair Harry; you'll have such a fright." Harry grinned.
"I look forward to it."
Having inherited Tonks' uncanny ability to distort his appearance, Teddy was often sporting strange hairstyles in various shades and styles. It was something that never failed to amuse Harry and regularly looked forward to seeing what he'd come up with next. Charlie barked at Harry from the kitchen and he made his excuses to Andromeda, realising it was tea time and Charlie especially couldn't stand tardiness at tea time.
Harry went to bed that night with a niggling feeling he couldn't quite place. That smell today was familiar, but it was out of place in the Ministry. Where had he smelt it before? Warm but sharp, he thought, like cedar spice burning in the embers of a fire. The memory crept towards him as he drifted into a doze, visions of the Quidditch pitch at Hogwarts plaguing him. The rain on his skin, making him feel alive, the fury coursing through him and the smell, sharp in his nostrils as he threw punches on the skin again and again before anyone could stop him.
Harry fell asleep wondering what Draco Malfoy had been doing in the Ministry Of Magic today.