Hey Hey! Yes I'm an awful person, no this story is NOT abandoned, I've actually got the next couple chapters planned out, and Oh Fuck thank you to all of my wonderful WONDERFUL readers and reviewers who have been with me since the start or just jumped in recently. It's an honor and none of this is copyrighted by me.
Enjoy. (Also, it's been a while so go ahead and reread the last chapter or six I won't mind.)
Harry left Ginny's bed behind him as Sirius left the Hospital Wing, and continued through the room searching through the beds for familiar faces. Some beds were still in use from the Burning of Hogsmead, so Harry had to look carefully through some of the closed curtains to find what he was looking for. Surprisingly, he found the a friendly face before he could find Gabby.
"Hermione," Harry smiled in greeting to the muggle woman in the half curtained bed. "I didn't know you were already up here."
Hermione was propped up against the metal rails of her headboard with several pillows and had a thin bandage wrapped around her head from when some of Hogwarts entrance pieces had accidentally fallen on her head. She was also staring at Harry with a hard, unforgiving and unblinking look, and Harry felt the smile slip from his face. "What are you going to do with him?" she asked harshly.
Him? "With who?" Harry asked genuinely lost.
"To Dean. What are you guys going to do with him?"
Harry honestly hadn't thought about it. "I've.. no idea." What were they going to do with him? "We didn't talk about it yet, but right now he's safe. He's actually just a couple beds down from you."
Close to Ginny, he thought to himself and unsaid.
"You haven't answered my question wizard. What are you going to do to him?" Hermione asked viciously, her voice going over every word like a whip to Harry. He hadn't seen her like this in weeks, not since their conversation in this very same room asking for her to trust him. Her hands were fisting her bed sheets, coldly looking over Harry like she expected him to tell her something horrible.
Harry slowly sat down on the edge of her hospital bed and held up his palms on his knees in surrender. "Hermione I'm not going to hurt you or Dean. I would never-"
"I saw what he looked like when he came into the hospital. Unconscious, bloody, and -"
"He was in the hands of Death Eaters before we got to him Hermione. You know what they're like, we bloody well met in one of their prisons."
Hermione let go of her bed sheets. "So you didn't-"
"Oh honestly Hermione were not fucking evil!" Harry exploded at her, surprising himself. "No we didn't beat Dean to a pulp, he's here to be healed just like you." Harry looked hard into her eyes. "I tried to rescue him from the Death Eaters, I wouldn't want to just kill him after setting Hogwarts on fire for him, Merlin."
Hermione looked to both of Harry's eyes and leaned heavily against the pillows of her bed. "I'm sorry. I always assume the worst when it comes to your people and I shouldn't have. Not this time."
Harry chose not to comment on the fact that she was also one of 'those' people again and decided to focus on one battle at a time. "Honestly, I'm not sure where he'll go though once he wakes up. We can't just ... let him go, or else Voldemort will get him again. He's a muggle and we couldn't spare someone just to keep an eye on him in the muggle world. Although, I doubt he'd want to leave, with ... Ginny and all."
Hermione nodded tiredly. "Yes I heard you guys speaking from her bed. She's pregnant." She scoffed and looked to the ceiling. "And with Thomas's baby even."
Harry drew his eyebrows together. "Hang on, do you know him? Dean?"
Hermione flicked her eyes over to Harry. "We run in the same circles."
Understanding hit him like a brick to the head and surprise dropped Harry's stomach. "Dean is a witch hunter?"
Hermione shook her bandaged head. "Not anymore he's not. He was. Until recently he was actually one of the best. He could control his magic like most of the others couldn't and used it to-" Hermione cut herself off. "Well. You know what I am and what I did."
"We've never talked about it actually," Harry commented casually and Hermione looked up to the ceiling again. "What you did or have done."
Hermione was silent for a moment and Harry thought that she wouldn't speak again. She licked her lips nervously. "With the Movement... that's, well that's what we call ourselves, we were split into small chosen groups for different areas of the city. We did different things for the leaders of the Movement but, mostly we learned how to survive." She sighed. "Growing up, we were on our own. No police. Jumping from home to home and school to school during the day. No family. We rescued peop- muggles who were captured if we could find them alive. We learned how to undo some of memory modifications in people so they could remember things. We bought guns and learned how to fight to protect other ... muggles. We... killed some people."
"Wizards and witches?"
Hermione nodded. "I was never really in the field like Thomas so I've never actually... you know, but I was very good at figuring out what little spells or wards did what and how to stop them when we were on the run. I learned how to see past magic that didn't want to be seen and disable them. I was ... am good at it."
Harry blinked in surprise. "You're saying that you could see enchantments and undo them... without a wand?" Harry shook his head and laughed. "You really are the brightest witch in our age Hermione. That's amazing you have no idea.. I don't even think my Hermione could do that!"
Hermione grinned grimly. "Yes well. That was before Thomas left and didn't show back up for a couple weeks." She shook her head. "We all thought he was dead, and then he just walked back in right as rain and says that we might be wrong in what we're doing. That there was a light and a dark side to magic that we were missing and that we should be helping the good guys and ... well, it didn't go well for him."
"Did they hurt him? Your Movement?"
She blinked apathetically. "He didn't die."
Harry grimaced. "And what did you all do when you found out that there were two sides to magic? That it wasn't just dark magic? None of you knew that there-"
"Was anything more than the raids and the catastrophes that Voldemort was doing to muggles?" Hermione asked cynically. "I'm sure some did, but it didn't really matter to most people. Their families were dead because of magic, good or bad and they wanted to destroy it."
Harry had a sudden flash of the Dursleys. "So then nothing changed."
Hermione shrugged. "Dean got to leave when he declared that unless they changed their ways we'd all be killed. It was madness... When you go against the Movement, you don't make it out. He did, through pure stubborn will I'd imagine, but then we were down one of our best fighters. He was in my group. One of my best friends."
Harry's shoulders lowered and he reached out to Hermione's hand. She let him hold one of her's in his for a moment before Harry spoke up and said, "I'm sorry."
Hermione shrugged her thin shoulders and put her hand back in her lap. "I haven't seen him in months, so then I really did think he was dead and someone had to take his place in the Movement."
Harry nodded along, seeing where this was going. "So you took his place and started ... doing whatever it was that Dean did?"
"Missions," Hermione nodded and then looked to the ceiling and sighed tiredly. "I didn't even make it through my third one before I was caught by your Death Eaters."
And now Harry felt caught up to Hermione's history. "How long were you there before we met and escaped?" He asked.
Hermione's brows came together. "Three... four days?" she asked and then shrugged. "Not long."
"Well what about Dean's family? When Ginny was grabbing - When she was trying to make her trade, she said that Dean and Dean's family would be killed if she didn't do it. Is his family safe?"
Hermione shook her head. "His mom and step-father were killed when he was young. Younger than me even. His only family was his group. Us. Me."
Sadness washed over Harry and he stared at Hermione across from him with his thoughts rolling through his mind like battling waves. Dean's family had died but he had others, other witch hunters it seemed like, that could be used against them. Voldemort said he could get to them or already did have them and would kill them. Dean and Hermione's group. And Harry had no idea what to do with this knowledge. Should he do something? Tell someone? They were witch hunters and it didn't seem like Dumbledore would see rescuing people that might have killed them as a good idea. But could Harry not do something about this? These were people, and while Ginny did something that Harry still couldn't swallow, he didn't think that he could just turn away either.
"What do you want to do about it?" Harry asked her.
Hermione blinked in confusion. "What?"
"You've been here for a couple weeks, and I don't think I ever asked you if you wanted to go home, or back to them. To your group. You're not a prisoner here Hermione, but I think I've sort of trapped you here anyways, and I never meant for that to happen."
"Dumbledore would never let me leave," Hermione said with absolute finality, like she had ended the conversation.
"You don't know that," Harry shook his head, but wondered deep down if Hermione was right. "And anyways, that's not what I asked. Do you want to leave?"
Hermione studied Harry's face and looked helplessly down at the bed, the only time Harry had ever seen this worlds Hermione ever show any sort of sad emotion. "I don't know," she whispered. "I've just found him again, and he's gone about and gotten himself into something deep, and he might need my help. But ... there are others too. More of my family and I-" she breathed out a long sad sigh. "I don't know."
Harry nodded and stood up, the tension from their conversation seeming to sit on his shoulders. "I'm not asking you to decide now." Hermione moved between his eyes as he spoke. "I know you'll probably have to talk to him when he wakes up and he won't understand a lot of whats happened, but Hermione. Ginny is responsible for 43 deaths in the Order. She let the wards down because of an attempt I'm sure for Dean and their baby, but it's cost lives and she tried to kidnap Gabby. The Order won't let her go and... Frankly, I won't either."
Hermione nodded like she knew the implications of Harry words, and Harry went to open the curtains to let himself out of her sleeping space. He turned back around before he left for good. "I'm your friend. Not because of my Hermione in my own world and that fact that you share the same face, but because now I know you. We've been around each other for weeks, and I consider you my friend so I feel as if I have to warn you. If Dean loves Ginny the way I think Ginny loves him, he won't leave her despite everything that's happened and what she's done. Ginny will also most likely never spend a free moment away from the Order or some type of prison for the rest of her life." Harry sighed. "He might be your family, but I ... I want what's best for you."
Harry turned to leave when Hermione called him back with a soft, "Thank you." He glanced back at her one more time and smiled, before closing her curtains behind him and walking away.
Harry left Hermione's hospital bed feeling worse than he had walking into the Hospital Wing to begin with. So many crossed lines and lives that Harry had no idea how to navigate. There were people in this world that looked and acted like the ones he left behind, but the world and environment had also changed them into people Harry couldn't say that he honestly knew. Ginny and Dean were going to have a baby. Harry sighed loudly and wondered if he should just leave the Hospital Wing before finding Gabby to go and settle his thoughts.
"Has anyone ever heard of a silencing charm before?" The bed directly right of Harry seemed to ask. Harry turned towards the noise and found himself staring face to face with a very awake and a very cross looking Gabby.
Harry cocked his head to the side. "What?"
"You and the Dumbledore and Uncle Sirius, and you and Hermione. Has no one ever heard of a silencing or muffliato to stop other people from listening in on important conversations?" she asked again briskly, and crossing her small arms over her chest.
Harry couldn't help the amused grin that crossed his face as he came to sit beside her bed. "You're right, no one thought of that and Dumbledore is supposed to be the most cleverest man alive."
"Honestly I had hoped you would be cleverer too about it."
Harry grinned again and sat back in his chair. "You're in Ravenclaw, you're supposed to be the clever one."
"Well I know what muffliato is and I can use it, but let me guess, you were Gryffindor?" she asked rolling her hazel eyes.
"The bravest of the lot," Harry answered and silently wondered where she could have learned Snape's coined spell.
Gabby huffed and then smiled shyly at him from her hospital bed. "Yes, I guess that did come in handy today. Thank you by the way. For saving me from Ginny."
Harry's smile fell from his face and he swallowed uncomfortably. "I wasn't going to let anything happen to you."
Gabby was silent for a moment and looked him over once with a very blank face. "You barely know me. We've had breakfast together a couple of times with mum and dad, and you've talked to me about quidditch before. But other than that.."
"I know," Harry said and stayed silent. He knew he wasn't actually her brother, and he didn't feel like explaining to her how everyday seemed to shake his foundations of how he felt about it. "I just-"
"Silencing spell," Gabby reminded him softly.
Harry nearly laughed under his breath and shortly performed a muffliato so the others around the Hospital Wing would hear a light buzzing instead of their conversation. When he was done he held his wand in his hands over his lap. "I know we haven't spoken much since you first saw me, and I know that to you I'm not him."
"I've never met him," Gabby said with a blank face and pushing back a piece of red hair so like her mothers behind her ear. "So before you start your spiel on why you're not my brother because of a baby that died over 17 years ago, to me, you're not some sort of replacement of that baby because you're not him. Realistically, I never met him because he was before my time, and I've only ever seen a picture of him once when mum was a little tipsy. You're not my mum and dad's baby that could have lived. You're simply not my brother."
"Oh," was all Harry could say through Gabby's words now echoing through his head and leaving him light headed like the wind had been knocked out of him. He knew that he wasn't really part of the Potters, but to hear it from Gabby's own mouth washed a sour inky blackness through Harry that he didn't know if he could identify. Hurt? Disappointment? Regret? Anger? Harry shoved those feelings deep down even as he felt them lay over his skin like a dark cloak. He had no right to want anything from this world. These people. They were not his own and he was not theirs either. He shouldn't have even have wanted-
Harry looked away from Gabby so she wouldn't see what her words had done to him and twirled his wand through his fingers nonchalantly. "Er- Well. Good then." Harry stood up to go and thought of the people down stairs in the castle who he had wanted from and swallowed his emotions down to a place that would never ever see the light of day again. They were not his. They were not his. They were not, like a mantra in Harry's mind he said that over and over again. James, Sirius, Lily, Jonathan, they were not-
"Oh honestly," Gabby said shortly and sighed exasperatedly. Harry didn't see her, but felt her move in her bed and somehow wrap thin arms around his waist from behind him, hugging him to her small frame. Harry froze.
"Wh- Gabby?" Harry put his hands on top of her arms that were squeezing him, if not a little uncomfortably hard, around him in shock.
"Clearly you weren't listening to me," Gabby mumbled from her face that was smashed up against his back.
Harry's hurt momentarily forgotten, crashed down around him again and he pried her arms from around him while turning to look at her. Gabby was almost fully out from under her covers, her hospital gown loose and making her look somehow paler as she was on her knees on the bed from reaching out to hug Harry. He softly put her hands back down to her and lifted the covers so she could lay back down.
Despite everything, Harry noticed to himself, he didn't want to see her cold or hurt or uncomfortable. He had felt this way with Hermione several times when she'd been crying or they'd had a row when they were younger, but usually his anger at the situation had won out in his childhood and he wouldn't feel guilty about not doing something for her. With Gabby though, he was aware that even he usually did not have this level of care that seemed to just come from within him.
Maybe this was what having a little sister felt like, he thought for a split second before he shoved it viciously down.
Gabby grabbed onto his left hand as Harry helped her back under the covers. "You're still not listening to me," she said looking up at his with her hazel eyes.
Harry was suddenly exhausted and looked down at the young girl with his eyebrows falling low. "What part of that was I supposed to be listening better to?" he asked. "The part where you said I'm not family? Where you said that I'm not-" Harry stopped himself and shook his head. "It's alright. Honestly I knew that coming in. What we are," he looked to her and smiled thinly. "What I am here. I'd just- it's okay."
Gabby squeezed his hand hard in an unfriendly way and Harry almost yanked his appendage back from her. "No it's not, because you're an idiot that only heard half of what I said just like Jonathan," she looked hard at Harry. "What I had said was that you're not a dead baby. You're a whole other person and still you."
Harry wasn't sure where this conversation was going, but he was sure that she was berating him right now for missing something. "I- Yes?"
Gabby rolled her eyes again. "You as in Harry Potter. Harry James Potter. Born from Lily and James Potter. Their first child."
Harry had no idea where this was going. "Yes."
Gabby smiled as if she expected him to understand a damn thing she was saying and when it was obvious that he didn't, she threw his hand up in the air. "You Gryffindor thinking son of-"
"Watch it that's your mum you're speaking about."
Harry frowned. "I'm not-"
"You're not, no," Gabby nodded. "But you're also born from a Lily and James Potter. Your mum and dad," she said looking between his eyes. "You are their's. And because you're in a different reality that fits exactly with only one set of other Potters that reflect what they could have been in your reality means they are in fact the same in one." She smiled at him proudly as if that had made any sense to him at all. "It means that despite the reality change of you coming into this one, you fit like a puzzle piece into this world because you were already here." She shrugged her small shoulders. "That's how I knew you weren't my original brother, but you are an older brother of mine." She smiled slowly at him. "And you can't say that that isn't true because I've been to the library and all my research agrees with me." She rolled her eyes again. "And honestly even Nikki agrees with me and we fight about everything, so that's got to count for something."
Harry wasn't sure what to feel or where to begin. "You're- you've been researching this?" was the only thing Harry could say. The cloak that had formed over his skin from earlier felt like it was slipping off and he could breathe easier.
Gabby nodded. "Only some of the books I had to borrow were from the restricted section. But I've been doing that since I'd heard you'd arrived and who you were. To us. To our family."
Harry just stared at her. "And you're okay with that?"
"Well I'm not thrilled about another older brother, but," she shrugged again, "with everything I've heard about you and how you've treated us ... you'll do."
Harry snorted out a laugh unchecked and felt the anger, bitterness and disappointment sweep away from him like it had never settled into his bones. "Well thanks. I've um - I appreciate that."
Gabby smiled softly. "I'm just saying that it is okay with us, you know? He was a baby when he died and he's just been a really sad memory for a really long time."
Harry could see a shine in her eyes that he recognized as hope and he grabbed her hand again. "I- I honestly don't know what to say because thank you, and I mean that, thank you, but I also don't know if that will last long enough for it to really mean anything for you. Your family. Or for me. I might be leaving tomorrow, or in two days, or in a week."
"Or in two months, or two years, or you could choose to just stay," she said back at him. "If you wanted to."
"I don't think I'd have much of an option," Harry said shaking his head. "With what's happened in my world... I doubt I could just stay vanished. If Ron and the others have already found me, and the man hunt is as big as he says it is, I think it would only be a matter of time."
"But do you want to stay?"
Harry's immediate answer stayed in the back of his throat. "I don't know. I've got all of my friends at home there, and a life. People that I've built who I am around." He smiled sadly. "But here.."
"You've got me and Nikki. And Jonathan. And mum and dad. And Sirius and Remus, which probably also means Marlene and Tonks."
Harry smiled at her sadly, taking in the mental picture of her sitting across from him, and nodded. "Yeah I guess I do."
He had her, Nikki, Jonathan, James, Lily, Remus, Sirius... everyone he'd lost and never thought he'd have or get back. And he knew that he would never see them again if he left. Traveling between realities wasn't like a train that could go back and forth between destinations. Although if the mirror could send Ron here, and there was another one in this reality, it could be possible to do just that, the thought slipped through his mind.
But would this mirror be connected to his reality back home or somewhere completely else? Somewhere worse? And did they both have a limit that couldn't be breached? Was there a maximum amount of times someone could travel through before being stuck somewhere and having no choice?, a voice very much like Hermione's followed his thoughts. And what if someone else found out about the mirrors? Death Eaters or even Voldemort? The realities shouldn't have a way to go back and forth so easily if just for the though of keeping each world safe from the dark magic users of each reality Harry suddenly though to himself.
But what would he chose if he had to make that decision by the end of all this? Would he go to his own reality with an empty home but with the world that he'd won and the people he'd grown up with? Or here in this reality with people that he ... could learn to love if not partially already did, but live in a world that was backwards and completely unfamiliar without his friends? How could he even choose?
Dark indecision and emotions tucked deep inside Harry rose up within like an ugly tidal wave, and he had to look away from Gabby for a moment to keep his voice and face steady. "You know," Harry cleared his throat, "I don't think I ever asked what year you're in here at Hogwarts. Or even your birth date for that matter. I feel like .. Well I feel as if brothers ought to know these things. "
He felt Gabby shift on the bed and squeeze his hand lightly. "Well I've just started my second year with Nikki, we're in different houses, but we were born together on May 21st 1986 and if you don't know now, Nikki loves to tell everyone, but I was born 4 minuets and 26 seconds after she was."
"So you're the youngest Potter?"
"And the smartest."
A warm smile lifted his face. "Well I'm glad you and the cleverest Potter brain are okay."
She smiled back at him and Harry's insides warmed. "I'm glad you were there."
He let go of her hand and pushed back a strand of her red hair behind her ear without thinking about it. "Let's not make a habit of it, yeah?"
Gabby scoffed and shook her head so the red strand fell back out. "Says the wizard who nearly died every year while he was still in school! Honestly, a basilisk? In your second year? I don't think I could do that even if I had to and we'd be in the same year now!"
Harry swallowed a laugh and furrowed his brows. "Who even told you about that? That was only discussed in an Order meeting."
"Mum and dad. Silencing spells. No one knows how to use them."
"Ah," Harry said and laughed. Gabby's mention of her parents and in link with the Order made him remember his discussion with Dumbledore and Sirius earlier in the day and Harry's smile fell. "Gabby, if you didn't hear earlier-"
"I probably did as everyone speaks loud in the Hospital Wing for some reason, you'd think they'd want to keep people from hearing them-"
"Then you know about Vo- you-know-who being after your family now? You'll have to be in hiding?"
Gabby shrugged. "Dad said it was only a matter of time to be honest. And I've been going to school here full time anyways, which is completely against the law by the way. Ministry order is to go to the Ministry for school or to be home schooled since Hogwarts is an 'enemy of the Ministry'."
Harry frowned again. "But what about at the Burning of Hogsmead? Death Eaters saw you, Nikki, and Jonathan in your school robes there weeks ago and they didn't do anything about it?"
"Hogsmead technically isn't grounds of Hogwarts so no one can be charged with treason in stepping foot there."
"But you were wearing your school robes," Harry argued.
Gabby glanced nonchalantly around. "Hogwarts has been around longer than any war that's ever included the Wizarding world. Even if you are home schooled or go to the ministry for education, you still get 'sorted'. It's just a charmed personality test that's sent home and then graded. The ministry's highest hope is to get control of Hogwarts one day and refacilitate it to the ideals of you-know-who. Eventually they figure Hogwarts will go back under their power and they'll transfer students back to Hogwarts like they did back in the old days. So they keep to the house system even though Hogwarts isn't really open."
Harry looked solemnly at Gabby. "That's insane."
Gabby shrugged. "I don't run the ministry."
Harry's mind was still reeling. "So you'll just stay here anyways?"
Gabby nodded. "And home will be put under the Fidelius charm for sure. And then no more outside trips to Diagon Alley or London." She frowned at that small part as if it was a major loss to her. "Oh and Grandma and Grandpa will probably have to go into hiding too."
"Grandma and Grandpa?" Harry repeated the words as a question.
"Well yes, they live a little outside of muggle London right- are they dead too in your world? Oh of course they probably are, I'm so-"
"I'd heard Jonathan mention them when I'd first arrived but I didn't think much about it until now," Harry said faintly. "Are they your dad's parents or-"
"Mum's died a little before she got out of Hogwarts from one of you-know-who's attacks. Its what made them both join the Order right out of school," Gabby explained and Harry wondered if that's what had happened to his grandparents as well in his world. "But dad's mum and dad have been living around muggle London secretly helping the Order for years. Recluses from the Wizarding world and hardly any of us ever see them."
Harry took that all in and nodded to himself. "The whole lot of the Potter family are rebels."
Gabby grinned and leaned back in her pillows. "Yeah, but out of us all you'd probably win that title from all of us wands down."
"Merlin help you."
The click of Madam Pomfrey's heels strode down the middle of the Hospital Wing, and when Harry looked up, noticed that her eyes were trained on the both of them narrowly. Harry knew that his time with Gabby was coming to an end. "You'll be okay by yourself up here?" he asked lightly, looking away from Madam Pomfrey to Gabby.
Gabby shrugged. "I doubt I'll be up here for much longer, Madam Pomfrey only keeps those that are truly dying for more than a night."
"Do you want me to stay?"
Gabby thought for a moment and then shook her head. "Nikki will probably be down here soon enough and walk me back to the dormitories."
Harry stood up from besides her and squeezed her hand one last time. "If you need me, call for me and I'll come running."
Gabby smiled softly and squeezed his hand back gently before letting him go. "I will Harry. 'Bye."
Pomfrey had made it to Gabby's bed. "Now young man-"
Harry grinned easily, reversed the muffliato charm, and stepped away Gabby. "I know. I know," he smiled over his shoulder at the young witch. "Im going. I'll see you in a few Gabby."
Harry felt much lighter than he had in quite some time when he left the Hospital Wing, even the sight of an unconscious Ginny and Dean in their beds couldn't stop his remaining good mood. However, Gabby's questions circled in his head. What would he choose when it came time for him to go home? Would he stay here with his ... well here with the people who could be the family that he'd always longed for? Or would he go back to where he was from and live again with the people he loved and grew up with? He knew very well that he'd known what he wanted when he first came here, but after being here for the last couple of weeks, he couldn't say he hadn't changed his mind. He wanted what was here. And if someone had to tell him he had to chose now with what he wanted, Harry had no idea what he'd do.
Harry made his way back to the Great Hall to look for Ron. Outside, the sun had gone down and Harry was surprised to find that it was most likely dinner time by now. He hadn't realized he'd been up in the Hospital Wing for most of the day, and that it had only been a couple of hours since everyone had found out that Ginny was the traitor. Harry frowned at the thought and wondered if Sirius and Dumbledore had let the Order know about Ginny's condition yet.
He found the tall red head seated at the Gryffindor table next to most of the Weasley brood, but with Mr and Mrs Weasley missing among from them, and across from Jonathan, Nikki, Sirius, James and Lily. Dinner had apparently started without him and Order members and students alike were eating together under the clear, starry, enchanted ceiling. Ron caught his eyes at he got closer. "Hey mate," he greeted with a mouth full of chicken.
Jonathan looked up from his own food, seated directly across from Ron and frowned at Harry. "How come every time I leave you for a split second something fucky happens and Hogwarts is burning?"
"Jonathan!" Lily admonished her son from farther down the seat.
Ron grinned and swallowed his food. "Mate, you'll have to stick around a bit longer before you get to complain about that. I've know him for years and it's always been that as soon as he's alone, Trouble happens and then we're either running to or away from something that wants to kill us."
Harry feigned hurt. "I don't go looking for Tro- oh shove over I'm hungry too," he started, making room for himself beside Charlie and Ron, "-it just somehow seems to find me." Harry pulled a plate closer to himself and started to fill up. "Fate's had one out for me since day one."
Ron grinned at Jonathan. "He showed you his memories from school right?"
"Yeah and it's un-bloody-believable is what they are," Fred joked, "Basilisks, dementors, Tri-Wizard Tournaments and polyjuiced teachers? If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it and I my friends am a firm believer in believing in the impossible." Their little group laughed around the table and Ron froze watching the elder red head laugh.
Harry knew immediately how he was feeling and shoved his best friend with his elbow, knocking him out of whatever was going on in his head. "Ron," Harry warned, continuing to pull food onto his plate.
Harry felt Ron shake himself harshly and then busy himself with his own plate as the rest of the table noticed the slight change in attitude from the boys. "Er- Sorry. Still not used to being around ... er, everyone," Ron muttered to them and Harry smiled for his benefit.
"It's alright, it takes some getting used to, trust me."
Ron grinned gratefully at Harry, and stuck another chicken leg into his mouth. The mood of the table had changed and Harry hated to see it pass so soon. "Sirius told us about Ginny," Ron started, and the people around them suddenly became tense.
Harry froze for a second too. "Dumbledore is letting her stay while she's - you know."
"What about after?" George asked quickly.
Harry shrugged. "We didn't get that far. All I know if that she's safe for now. She might have some information about you-know-who to help the Order."
Silence spread across their section of the Gryffindor table and Harry cleared his throat, not knowing if he should first be telling Dumbledore first what he was about to say. "And in the next section of the Prophet," he said lightly, "by the way Ron it's called the 'Pure Prophet' here isn't that mental? Yeah, anyways, Hermione knows Dean. He's a witch hunter too."
There was a split second of silence.
"Are you kidd-"
"Of fucking cou-"
Harry raised his hands to calm the witches and wizards around him before continuing to eat. "And yes, Gabby is doing fine. A couple of bruises and a good scare for sure, but she'll be leaving the Hospital Wing tonight."
"Does she need someone to help her back to her dormitory?" Nikki spoke up for the first time, rearranging her Hufflepuff tie at her neck.
"I'm sure she'd love the company," Harry said honestly. He looked her over quietly as the table around them broke into small sections of conversation. "And are you all right?"
"Oh I was fine the whole time," Nikki assured, "I was in Herbology when it happened. Completely different section of the castle."
Harry nodded. "I'm glad you were okay."
Nikki smiled shyly at him and stood up from between her parents. "I'm off to Gabby. I'll see you all tomorrow, goodnight."
A round of "goodnights" came from the Order members and students around them and Lily watched her go with a lingering look before turning to Harry. "Are you okay after everything?" she asked looking him over. "Did Madam Pomfrey look at you too?" James glanced at Harry as well and raised his eyebrows. Sirius, sitting next to James, caught Harry's eyes letting Harry know he was listening in.
"I'm fine," Harry reflected after a moment of silence. "It's just been a long day." His eyes flickered to Ron beside him. "A good day because of Ron, but..." Harry wandered off, thinking of Ginny.
"Well how's Hermione doing?" Lily prodded.
"Good," Harry answered honestly. "Shes a little sour at being in the Hospital Ward again, and she was confused about Dean being there, but she seems to be understanding whats going on and getting better. I think she's starting to trust us here."
Lily smiled wonderfully and it made Harry remember just how beautiful his mother was before he smiled back at her automatically. "That's so good to hear. I know Moody had his doubts about her."
"I had my doubts about her and I wasn't even here when i'd heard about her," Ron remarked.
Harry grinned lightly. "Dean's actually one of her best friends from the muggle world. If he's going to be staying here as long as I think he's going to be..." Harry noticed that the Weasley clan was listening in too from around him. "It'll be good for the both of them to have a friendly face here."
"Dumbledore's also put a 24 hour watch on Ginny until who knows when," Jonathan added.
"A watch for Dean and Ginny both?" Harry frowned.
"Just Ginny I think, but when he finds out that Dean is a witch hunter," Jonathan shrugged looking to his parents. "Who knows?"
"Did Dumbledore say anything else?" Harry asked looking at the faces around him.
"He said that there's an Order meeting tomorrow," Ron answered first, spooning pudding into the black hole of his stomach. He looked to Harry seriously, "And that the official Horcrux hunt starts tomorrow. He's been gone since he first came down from the Hospital Wing, saying he needs to reach out to his contacts."
"So seventh year memories in the meeting then?" Harry asked.
Ron nodded, and then seemed to think of something. "Do we have the sword?"
James was the one who answered this time with, "Basilisk venom imbued and everything."
Ron huffed relieved. "Well that's one thing at least. Good we don't have to go for a second round nearly drowning in a frozen pond."
"You what?" Lily asked and Harry ducked his head while Ron snorted his laughter.
This is NOT the last you will hear of me.