Questions and Answers


Story Summary:
What happens when the past collides with the present and threatens to cast the Potters' and Weasleys' lives into disarray...

Chapter 34 - An Object In Motion


Ginny tossed her book to the night table, unable to settle into sleep. She could sleep without Harry, but after sharing a bed for two decades, it felt unnatural to sleep in it alone. She reached for the book, lying on Harry's side of the bed and chuckled quietly, as she read the first few pages. She had never asked Harry about his penchant for Muggle novels with female protagonists who found themselves, usually through no fault of their own, in some sort of horribly messy problem. Ginny privately thought Harry identified with them a little, in that they sometimes plummeted to the depths of despair before finding a way to claw themselves back up. Every so often, over the years, she had read the ones he returned to most often. She understood why he turned to them over and over - they always ended well.

She laid the book down with a sigh, and slid out of bed, picking up her dressing gown, and pulling it on as she walked to the door. Ginny pushed the door open, and smiled at the light under the crack of James' door. She tiptoed to the door, and knocked softly. 'Come in...' James said distractedly.

'It's late, Jemmy,' Ginny told him.

James grimaced a little at the nickname. 'Mum, I'm almost fifteen...' he groaned.

'And no matter how old you get, you will still be Jemmy, sweetie,' Ginny said.

'Whatever,' James sighed. He glanced at the small alarm clock, dark brows rising in surprise at the time. It was nearly midnight. 'One more chapter?'

Ginny ran a hand over James' thick, dark hair. 'One more chapter,' she agreed. 'Then go to sleep, all right?'

'All right.'

'Good night, James.'

'Night, Mum.'

Ginny left James' bedroom, and crossed to Albus' in a familiar pattern. Albus' door was slightly ajar. She peered into the darkened room, finding Al to be sound asleep, one hand hanging off the edge of the mattress. Ginny slipped into the room, and gently laid the hand back onto the bed and straightened the bedding over him. He stirred at the intrusion, but didn't wake. She left his bedroom, and went to Lily's.

A small lamp cast a dim glow over the bedroom, making the fanciful paintings on the walls seem real. Lily slept with a piece of parchment clutched in her hand. An owl had arrived from France that morning, bearing letters for Al, Rose, and Lily. Lily had immediately written back, running into the village after lunch to post the reply to Scorpius. Ginny slowly tugged the parchment from Lily's hand and smoothed the wrinkles from it. She put it on the night table and switched the lamp off before she left Lily to her dreams.

Still feeling restless, Ginny went down into the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea.


Teddy stumbled into waiting area, wrinkling his nose at the overpowering aroma of disinfectant. 'God, that stinks,' he mumbled, Carolina still holding him upright.

'What does, Teddy?'

'What ever they use the clean the floors...' he muttered.

Carolina sniffed experimentally. 'I don't smell anything...' She helped him into a chair, before heading to a fireplace to contact Shacklebolt. Carolina threw a handful of Floo powder into the flames, and knelt to put her head into them. Closing her eyes against the swirling images, she waited a moment, then cracked her eyes open. The comfortable sitting room of Shacklebolt's flat came into view. 'Kingsley!' There was no answer. 'Kingsley!' Carolina shouted.

Shacklebolt stumbled into the sitting room, rubbing his face, dressed in what appeared to be a hastily-donned dressing gown. 'What?' he snapped irritably.

'It's Harry,' Carolina said simply.

Shacklebolt squatted next to the fireplace. 'What happened?' he asked, suddenly alert.

'I don't know. Some spell came out of nowhere and got him in the back.'

'What kind of spell?'

Carolina ground her teeth in frustration. 'I don't know,' she said coldly. 'I'm not a bloody Auror.'

'Sorry... Where is he?'

'St. Mungo's. I don't know what floor, or what room.'

Shacklebolt ran a hand over his bald head. 'I'll be there straightaway. Give me a minute to put something on.'

Carolina pulled her head out of the fireplace and slumped into a nearby chair.

Teddy was huddled in his chair, his hands fisted in his hair. He was more confused now than he had ever been in his whole life. He'd been noticing small changes about himself. He could smell things others didn't notice. He could see and hear things that the others couldn't. But only under times of stress. And Teddy was under a nearly unbearable amount of strain at the present moment.

The harsh scent of disinfectant mixed with Mrs. Scower's All-Purpose Magical Mess Remover made him nauseous. People's voices sounded unnaturally loud, and even the muted light in the waiting area made his eyes hurt. He leaned forward until his head rested on his knees, breathing in short, shallow, pants.

'Teddy?' The normally melodious voice grated in his ears.

'Vic...' he croaked.

Victoire had been on one of her assigned nights at the hospital, for her practical studies class. She heard the commotion in the corridor and dashed to the waiting area, unaware of who was in the now-heavily guarded room. She began pulling at Teddy's hands, trying to examine him. 'Are you hurt?' she asked anxiously.

'Geroff, Victoire!' Teddy nearly shouted, wincing as his voice ricocheted off the walls and floor. 'I'm not one of your bloody practical exams!' he yelled.

Stung, Victoire straightened and stepped back. 'Fine,' she said tightly, fingers toying with the ring she wore on a chain at the hospital, lest it become damaged from the time she spent brewing potions in the stillroom.

Teddy buried his face in his hands. 'It's Harry,' he said hoarsely. 'He's down there...' Teddy pointed to the corridor from which Victoire had come.

'I'll go see if there's anything they can tell me,' she said in the smoothly bland, professional tone they were taught to employ in such situations.

Shacklebolt strode into the waiting area, and made a beeline for Carolina. 'Did anyone see it?'

'Teddy might have,' Carolina replied tiredly. 'He's the one that knocked him out of the way.' Carolina shook her head. 'We didn't have time to ask him anything.'

Shacklebolt crossed to Teddy and dropped into the vacant chair next to him. 'Teddy, what happened?'

Teddy shivered and shook his head. 'Saw a wand in the shrubbery. And a jagged purple jet of light heading toward him.'

'Did you hear an incantation?' Shacklebolt asked intently.

'No.' Teddy wracked his memory, shaking his head even harder. 'No. I didn't hear anything, except the rustle of the leaves.'

'Where did it hit him?' Shacklebolt gripped Teddy's arm in a vice-like grip.

Teddy swallowed, seeing the light slam into Harry's shoulder. 'Shoulder blade. Left side.' He squinted, as if he could see it replay in front of him. 'Up high though. He went out dead cold instantly...' Teddy's chin trembled and he viciously bit his lip to quell it. 'If I'd been a second sooner,' he whispered, 'I could have gotten him out of the way.' He stared sightlessly at the wall, his hands clenched into fists.

'Right.' Shacklebolt got to his feet, beckoning to Carolina. 'Right. That sounds like the spell Dolohov liked to use when he was alive.' He massaged his temples. 'Bloody fortunate whoever cast it had to do it nonverbally. If he'd been able to speak it, no matter that it didn't get a direct hit, Harry would be as good as dead right now.'

Carolina wound her hair into a knot and jabbed her wand at it, using a weak Sticking charm to hold it into place. 'Someone needs to go tell Ginny,' she said softly.

'Yeah.' Shacklebolt sighed. 'I'll go tell Ginny right now. She'll... She'll take it better from me.' He strode toward an Apparition point, not quite sure how to tell Ginny that Harry lay unconscious in a hospital bed, and still be standing when he was done.


Ginny perched on one of the kitchen windowsills with a cup of tea and a handful of biscuits. She sighed ruefully, knowing the anxious nibbling she did when Harry was out like this was going to catch up with her sooner rather than later. The loud crack of someone Apparating made Ginny glance out the window. Must be Harry, she mused. At least he's home at a decent hour and not crawling into bed at four in the morning. Ginny slid off the windowsill and padded to the door, opening it intending to greet Harry properly. 'Kingsley!' she said, attempting to cover her surprise and disappointment. 'Come in.' Ginny stepped back and held the door open, allowing Shacklebolt to enter the kitchen. 'Would you like some tea?'

Shacklebolt shook his head. 'Not right now.' He took a deep breath. 'Ginny... Harry's been... There was an attack while he was investigating the Muggle-baiting...'

Ginny felt the blood begin to roar in her ears. 'What are you saying?' she asked numbly.

'He's at St. Mungo's. And he's unconscious right now. We don't really know very much.'

The cup slid from Ginny's nerveless fingers and crashed to the floor, splattering tea and china over the floor. She said nothing, but her face paled until the freckles scattered over her cheeks and nose stood out in stark relief against her skin. Shacklebolt frowned at the amount of broken china on the floor next to Ginny's bare feet and waved his wand, sending the cup flying to the counter as it repaired itself.

That seemed to jostle Ginny into action. She backed away a few steps, muttering, 'I'll just go upstairs and change, then...' She turned and walked quickly out of the kitchen, her steps rapidly gathering speed until she all but ran up the stairs. She stopped just at the top of the stairs, her hand clenched around the banister, swaying with the effort to stay upright. Come on, Weasley, she scolded herself. Keep it together. Ginny turned into her bedroom, and grabbed a pair of jeans that were on top of the laundry basket, shedding her dressing gown and nightdress into a heap on the floor. Ginny yanked the jeans on, while she rummaged in the wardrobe for a shirt. She hastily pulled it on over her head and shoved her feet into a pair of trainers without bothering to find a pair of socks.

Ginny got halfway back down the stairs, when she whirled around and stumbled to James' door. She knocked softly, her heart hammering in her chest. 'James? Are you still awake?' Please be awake, Jemmy...

James opened his bedroom door, his brows creasing in confusion when he saw Ginny standing outside. 'All right, Mum?'

'I need you to keep an eye on your brother and sister tonight,' she told him, shakily.

'What's wrong?'

'I don't really know,' she said, fishing an elastic out of the pocket of her crumpled jeans, and pulling her hair into a messy ponytail. 'It's your father...' Ginny glanced at James, suddenly aware that she had to look up at him. God, when did he grow up so much? 'I'll be back in the morning. Do not worry Al or Lily,' she said sternly.

'No, Mum.' James shook his head.

Ginny leaned forward and hugged him. 'It'll be all right,' she assured him. 'Try and get some sleep.' She released James and ran down the stairs into the kitchen. 'All right, let's go,' she said to Shacklebolt.


Ginny stood outside Harry's hospital room, her arms folded tightly over her chest, leaning against the wall. 'So what you're telling me,' she began, 'is that you and the others don't know why he's not awake yet?'

The Healer gave her an embarrassed sort of shrug. 'I suppose.' He straightened his sleeves nervously. 'We're giving him the potions he needs to recover intravenously, and we'd like to wait and see if he wakes up on his own within a few days.'

'Fine...' Ginny had only half-heard what the Healer had been telling her. She pushed the door open and resumed her post at the side of his bed. A soft beeping sound chimed in the background with a measured regularity. Ginny found that her breathing would synchronize with the pace of Harry's pulse. In on two, out on four... It was mesmerizing. She didn't watch the numbers on the glowing panel above the bed - she watched Harry.

'Mrs. Potter?'

Another voice, another Healer. Ginny looked up into the face of one of the younger Healers. 'Yes?' she murmured.

The young woman held out a small, sealed paper envelope. 'His things. I thought you'd want to take them home.'

'Thank you.' Ginny accepted the envelope that she knew held only four things: his wand, his wallet, his watch, and his wedding ring.

'Mrs. Potter?' The woman spoke a little uncertainly. 'There's a young man out there... One of the Obliviators that came in with him.'

Ginny straightened. 'An Obliviator?'

'Says he's your godson?'

Ginny rubbed her hands over her face. 'Godric, I didn't even know he was here...' Ginny hadn't had eyes for anything in the waiting area, save for the door that led to the corridor and Harry's room. 'Please, let him in. He can come in any time he wants.' She ripped open the envelope as the Healer left, putting Harry's wand, wallet, and watch inside her bag. She tipped the envelope into the palm of her hand, and the slender band of his ring slid into her hand. Ginny held the ring up, tilting it toward the dim light on the table next to the bed. The words were still engraved inside, albeit slightly worn. 'Faith, hope, love,' she murmured, before slipping the ring onto her thumb.

'Ginny?' Teddy flinched at the child-like sound of his voice. He stood in the half-open door. 'I'm sorry...' His voice cracked and he stared at the floor. 'It was my fault.'

'Oh, Teddy, it wasn't.'

Teddy sidled into the room, and closed the door. He leaned against the wall and gazed at Harry, lying in the bed. 'It was. I saw the wand over his shoulder, and I just wasn't fast enough,' he rasped.

Ginny shook her head. 'Teddy, if it wasn't for you, he would be so much worse.'

'I... I don't...' Teddy's eyes squeezed shut and he darted out of the room.

'Teddy...!' Ginny pulled the door open, and peered down the corridor, but Teddy was already gone.


Ginny let her head rest on the bed next to Harry's shoulder and closed her burning eyes. She had spent the night staring alternately at Harry or at the numbers on the wall, refusing to sleep. Her hand rested on top of his still one, fingers curled around it.


Ginny's eyes flew open. 'James! What are you doing here?' She sat up, pushing her hair from her face.

James' eyes were wide in his thin face. 'I Flooed over... Grandmum and Grandad came and took us to the Burrow earlier this morning,' he stammered. 'Please, Mum, let me stay a bit?'

'Does your grandmother know you're here?' Ginny demanded.

'Grandad does...' James admitted.

'Oh, Merlin's holey jumper,' Ginny breathed. 'It's your head,' she said pointedly, drawing out her wand and conjuring a comfortable chair for her son.

James folded his lanky frame into it, his knees against his chest, chin resting on them. 'How is he?'

'Stable,' Ginny replied. 'They've got about twenty potions going through that tube into his arm.' She indicated the thin tube Spellotaped to the inside of Harry's right arm.

James' eyes narrowed suspiciously. 'Is he breathing?'

'Of course he is,' Ginny scoffed. But her eyes flicked to Harry's chest, just to reassure herself that it still rose and fell, in spite of the monitor cuff strapped to his left wrist that monitored his vital signs.

'I remember when I had dragon pox,' James said suddenly.

'You do?'

'Well, some,' he allowed. 'But I remember waking up once, and it was dark, but Dad was sitting next to my bed.' James looked up at the ceiling, and rubbed his nose. 'Dusty in here,' he said hoarsely.

'Of course it is,' Ginny said, tactfully looking away. The room was antiseptically clean.

'How can you do this?' James asked. 'Just sit and wait...'

Ginny smiled a little. 'Not the first time.' Her hand reached up and smoothed the hair from Harry's face. 'After the second battle at Hogwarts, he slipped out of the Great Hall, and went up to his dormitory to sleep. I found him, collapsed across his bed, still dressed, completely filthy from the battle. He hadn't even gotten under the bedding.' Ginny's fingers traced over the scar. She hardly noticed it anymore. 'I stayed up, and watched him. For almost two days.'

'Was he ill?' James glanced at her.

Ginny sighed and sat back in her chair. 'I'd be lying if I said "no",' she told James reluctantly. 'It was a lot of things. He'd been hiding from Death Eaters for most of the past year. He didn't sleep much, because he dreamed about Riddle,' Ginny explained. It wasn't quite the truth, but she didn't want to get into all the psychic connections between Harry and Riddle right now.

'Like Divination?' James snorted skeptically.

'There's a good lad,' Ginny murmured approvingly of her son's skepticism. 'A little, but not quite.' She shifted in the chair. 'He was just worn out - physically, emotionally... You have to remember, he wasn't much older than you at the time,' she added. 'He was only seventeen.'

James sat quietly for a long time. 'Is that why he goes all funny and quiet at the beginning of May?'

Startled, Ginny's head swiveled to stare at James. 'What do you mean?' she asked carefully.

James shrugged. 'Oh, just that before I went to school, at the beginning of May, he and Uncle George both sort of get really quiet and don't talk much. Uncle George more than Dad, but they're not themselves for a bit.' James paused. 'Or they aren't for a few days around then.' He traced a pattern in the tile with the toe of his shoe. 'You all do that,' he said softly. 'Just not to that extent.'

'I didn't realize,' Ginny murmured.

James hitched a shoulder. 'I found a few accounts of it in the library at school,' he confessed. 'Professor McGonagall told me where to find them,' he gulped. 'I can't say I blame you...'

Ginny nodded. 'I suppose.' She nudged James. 'You ought to get back to the Burrow. Mum will have a litter of kittens if you're gone too long.'

'Okay.' James reached over and quickly hugged Ginny.

'Tell her she can bring Al and Lils later. If she doesn't think this will upset them.'

'I think they'd be more upset at being kept away,' James said solemnly. 'But I'll tell her.' He started to open the door.



'Thank you.'

James ducked his head bashfully, and slipped out of the room. Ginny grinned at Harry. 'How much do you want to bet he left a note on the kitchen table and Flooed over without asking?' She put her head back on the bed next to Harry. 'He gets it from you.'


Teddy looked up and realized he was in Regent's Park. It was early, but the park was open. He had no memory of walking here from the visitor's entrance of St. Mungo's. He supposed he must have wandered aimlessly in the night, not paying attention to where he was going until the rising sun bathed his face in bright warmth.

He sank onto the edge of a fountain and sightlessly watched the people stroll by in the early summer morning. As much as he loved his parents, they had never seemed quite real to him. For all intents and purposes to Teddy, Remus Lupin would always be his father - he couldn't deny it when his father's eyes looked back at him from the mirror every morning - but Harry was his dad, if anyone had ever asked Teddy. It wasn't something he had told anyone as outright fact. Not even Victoire. He suspected Harry and Ginny might know how he felt, given that he had alluded to it once in a fit of adolescent guilt, but neither of them had confronted him with it, just merely acknowledging it in that unspoken way of theirs.

Teddy felt a twinge of guilt for leaving Ginny alone. He couldn't stay there, watching Harry just lie there, like she had. Teddy buried his face in his hands.

He had already lost one father.

He couldn't face the prospect of losing another.

Painfully, he got to his feet and trudged toward the closest Tube station. He was too tired to try and find a place to Disapparate. Teddy sat numbly on the train as it carried him toward Soho, wrapped in misery so acute he reckoned people could feel it dripping off him like rain. The train stopped at his station and he automatically got up and followed the queue of people up the stairs to the street level. He climbed the five flights of stairs to his flat, feeling every last second of the previous night cling to his feet, weighing him down. Teddy opened the door with his seldom-used key, unable to muster the will to use his wand as he usually did, and kicked his trainers off, heading straight for his bedroom, and crawled into bed, pulling the bedding over his head to block out the rest of the world.

His shoulders began to shake, and finally, Teddy allowed himself to weep. He rolled over to his stomach and buried his face in his pillow, sobbing as if he were a small child.

In a few minutes, Teddy managed to collect himself enough to realize the pillowcase was soaked. He shifted to the other side of the bed, and wrapped his arms around the pillow there, sniffling, as tears still fell slowly down his cheeks.


Teddy pulled the bedding away from his head, and squinted through his swollen eyelids. Victoire stood in the doorway, nervously twisting her fingers together. 'How long have you been there?' he mumbled.

'Long enough.' Victoire warily approached the bed. 'I can get you a Sleeping Draught if you want one...'

Teddy shook his head. 'No.' He gnawed his lip for a moment, before folding the bedding back in mute invitation. 'Please?' Victoire hesitantly slid into the bed next to Teddy. He immediately spooned against her, still sniffing a little. 'Do you know anything?' he asked her.

'A little. I'm not working on the case, but one of my friends is. He's stable and his pulse is normal now. Just unconscious.'

'How long?'

'Don't know...'

Teddy laced his fingers through Victoire's. 'I'm sorry... For shouting at you...'

'No worries, all right?' Victoire reached back and patted Teddy's thigh. 'Go to sleep, then.'

Teddy shifted a few times, then fell asleep with a deep sigh.


Harry sat up, groaning as his left shoulder screamed in protest at being moved. 'When did I fall?' he grumbled, his eyes still closed. 'Gin?' Harry's eyes fluttered open. He patted the table, looking for his glasses. Unable to find them immediately, he rubbed his eyes, then opened them. The room swam into focus, making Harry pat his face, jerking in surprise when he realized his glasses weren't there. 'What the...?' He turned in the bed, taking in the room. It was eerily similar to the one he and Ginny had stayed in when Al was born. 'Ginny?' he called, not a little frantically.

'Even I never approved of hexing someone in the back,' a cold voice sneered from behind Harry.

Harry froze. He hadn't heard that voice in nearly twenty years. 'It can't be,' he said. 'I must be dreaming.'

'Astute as ever, I see.'

Harry whirled around to come face-to-face with Severus Snape. 'Oh, bloody hell,' he growled. 'Am I in hell?'

'I could ask myself that same question, Potter...' Snape leaned against the wall with an air of casualness he had never adopted in life. 'But no, you're not dead. Yet.'

'Hallucinating, then? I told Gin not to put those mushrooms in the spaghetti sauce...' A hard slap smacked against the back of Harry's head. 'Oi! What did you do that for?' he asked sullenly, rubbing the back of his head.

'To assure you I am not a hallucination,' Snape drawled dryly.

'Is this like when Riddle 'killed' me?'

'Partially.' Snape inclined his head in acknowledgement.

Harry moaned theatrically, 'Bloody hell... Why you? Of all the people I could see now, why are you the one I see?' He threw himself back on the bed, annoyed that in a space of fewer than five minutes, Snape had made him feel like a thirteen-year old again. 'Godric's sagging...'

'I would have thought the answer to what's been bothering you would be apparent to you, but still, you lack the subtlety to appreciate what they're doing.' Snape examined his nails, buffing them on the sleeve of his robes. 'They'll make anyone Head Auror these days, it would seem.'

Harry stared at Snape open-mouthed. 'What do you mean that it would be apparent to me?'

Snape sniffed derisively. 'Use your memories, Potter,' he said, before he disappeared in a swirl of fog.