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- Draco Malfoy Harry Potter Hermione Granger
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Published: 08/24/2006Updated: 11/26/2006Words: 62,834Chapters: 16Hits: 79,413
Harry Potter and the Past That Never Was
- Story Summary:
- Transported back to just before his eleventh birthday, Harry gets the chance to right the wrongs in his life. But, "knowing then, what you know now," isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Your best friends may not be your friend, your enemies may not be your enemy. Even the greatest enemy may be easily dispatched. But evil will remain as long as there is good. Harry discovers changing the past leaves the door open to a future that may be worse than he can imagine. Will our hero prevail?
Chapter 01 - After Saying Goodbye
- Author's Note:
- I got the idea for my story from reading the fic called `Harry's Second Chance` by DrT. I've enjoyed the story but I have my own ideas of how such a scenario would play out.
Following Dumbledore's funeral, the remaining staff decided to bring in the Hogwarts Express the next day to take the remaining students home. The rest of the school year was canceled, no one knowing whether the school would ever open again to students. The cancellation of the year-end tests normally would have raised a great cheer among the students, but given the circumstances no one could find a reason to cheer.
The Weasleys intended to stay at the school for as long as Bill remained under the care of Madame Pomfrey. However, she made it clear werewolf bites were well beyond her knowledge, and recommended he go to St. Mungo's. Fleur maintained an almost constant vigil at his bedside. In fact, it was nearly impossible for Harry to get close to him without bumping into her. He even managed a smile as he noticed Ron going out of his way to be the one bumping into her, which in turn induced wisecracks from Ginny.
"Oh honestly, Ron," whispered Ginny, rolling her eyes, "she's going to be family."
"Did you know," said Harry to Hermione while they were in the Great Hall having lunch, "Neville could have been the one Voldemort marked as his equal?"
"Yes, Harry," answered Hermione. "His birthday is very close to yours. Moreover, his parents also defied him."
"I thought you'd gotten that worked out," said Harry with a slight smile. "I was wondering, do you think Neville deserves to know why his parents were tortured into insanity?"
Hermione looked thoughtful at the question. "I'm not sure it would make him feel any better about it if he knew. However, I think... yes, I think he deserves to know why."
"He's still here with his grandmother," said Harry. "I think I'll find him and tell him all I can."
"Do you think it's wise to tell him the prophecy?" Hermione wanted to know.
"I don't know if it's wise," Harry started, "but I do know everyone who came with me to the Ministry that night deserves to know what almost got them killed." He was starting to get up but Hermione stopped him.
"That cow Pansy Parkinson is coming this way," she said.
Sure enough, the sixth year Slytherin was making a beeline toward them. However absent from her face was the usual holier than thou sneer most Slytherins generally wore.
"Potter," she said when reaching them. "I just wanted to ask you if it was true Draco tried to kill..." Harry did not let her finish.
"No, he didn't try to kill him that night," answered Harry, a bit testily. "But he's the one who let in the Death Eaters if that makes you feel any better." Pansy looked taken aback by that.
"Oh, get over yourself," she told Harry. "Not every Slytherin wants to grow up to follow You-Know-Who. In addition, not all of us even agree with him."
"All right then," said Harry, ready to walk away in search of Neville. However, thought better of it and turned back toward the Slytherin girl. "Was there anything else you wanted to know?"
"He never said for sure, but only hinted he'd been given a job to do. I wondered if that were the job," Pansy said after a moment of thought.
"He didn't let you in on his plans then?" asked Harry, Pansy shook her head no.
"I think his task was to kill Dumbledore," said Harry. "But he was only doing it because he said Voldemort would kill him if he didn't. In the end, he wasn't able to bring himself to kill him."
"So he's not a killer," said Pansy, seemingly relieved. Harry studied her for a moment.
"Sit down with us," Harry finally said, retaking his seat across from Hermione. "I'll tell you all I can." If Pansy seemed the least bit worried about being seen sitting at the Gryffindor table, she did not show it. She sat down next to Harry and waited.
"Malfoy was responsible for the necklace getting to Katie, and had poison put into the mead Slughorn had. Both intended for Dumbledore," Harry told her.
"How did he do that?" Pansy wanted to know. Harry glanced at Hermione who was staying silent.
"He put the Imperius on Madame Rosmerta," Harry answered.
"He used an Unforgivable?" she whispered as if shocked Draco was capable of such a spell. Harry nodded, his eyebrows raised.
"But he's not a killer," said Harry. "That is to say, he's not a killer, yet."
"What exactly do you mean by that?" Pansy asked, a little frostily.
"In case you haven't worked it out, he joined the Death Eaters," Harry answered patiently. "And Voldemort isn't exactly running a knitting club, is he?"
"Most of us thought he was just bragging as usual," Pansy admitted. "But why would he join them?" About that time, Ron and Ginny ambled into the Great Hall and headed right for them. As they got close, Ron saw the Slytherin girl and pointed a finger at her accusingly.
"What's she doing here?" Ron wanted to know. He sat down next to Hermione, the loathing on his face was clear. Ginny did not say anything, but seeing Pansy sitting next to Harry was not an event to cause her delight.
"We're talking about Malfoy," Harry told him.
"I can tell you plenty about that pathetic git," Ron sneered, acid dripping from his voice.
Pansy glared at Ron, looking as if she were about to let loose with a scathing torrent of words. Hermione put a stop to any argument in short order.
"Ron, just be quiet," she said, "and let them talk." Ron whipped his head around in Hermione's direction, and saw a look on her face that made him do exactly as she directed. He fell silent, and sulked.
"You want to know why he joined the Death Eaters," Harry said to Pansy.
"Yes, I'd like to know," she answered.
"You know what happened at the Ministry last year?" Harry asked her.
"That prophecy business that was in the Prophet?" Pansy asked. "Yes, I remember reading about it."
"Okay, Malfoy's father was in charge of getting the prophecy," Harry went on. "When they failed Voldemort forced Draco to do his bidding as a means of revenge. Dumbledore believed Draco was expected to be killed in the attempt."
"You saw it happen," Pansy said. "Do you have any idea why...?" Her voice trailed off.
"All I know for sure, is he was not able to do it," said Harry. "I don't know why."
"If I had to guess," Ginny said, "I'd say he didn't have the stomach for murder."
"He was not in a good situation," said Harry. "Voldemort was going to kill him if he didn't do this."
"Thank you for talking," Pansy said, her lips trembling slightly. She stood and turned, then walked straight out of the Great Hall.
"That was interesting," said Harry, after she left.
"Very," Hermione agreed. "Even more enlightening was how she said most of them thought he was just bragging as usual."
"Yes, I got that one," said Harry, nodding. "It's curious how he didn't even tell his girlfriend what he was up to."
"She didn't know anything?" Ginny asked, as Ron continued to sulk.
"Not a thing," Hermione answered. "That's why she was here, asking Harry what he knew."
"Why would you tell her anything?" Ron wanted to know. "She's going to tell all the Slytherins."
"No, I don't think she will," said Harry, as he stood. "Well, I'm going to go find Neville."
Somehow, Harry knew he would find Neville in the Herbology gardens. However, to his dismay, Neville's grandmother was with him. They seemed to be looking at some of the different plants while Neville gave his grandmother a running commentary. His initial reaction to not finding Neville alone was to leave before they could spot him. However, he decided this was something his grandmother should hear as well. Steeling himself, he continued to walk until he was just behind them.
"Hi, Neville," said Harry. Both Longbottoms turned, startled to see him standing there.
"Oh, hi, Harry," Neville said. "I just wanted to see this place again, in case I don't get to come back." Neville's grandmother took a step toward him and extended her hand, which Harry took.
"It's nice to see you again, Mr. Potter. Although I wish the circumstances were different." Mrs. Longbottom managed a smile.
"It's nice to see you, as well," Harry agreed. "There's something I want to tell you, Neville. Something I think you should know."
Harry recited the prophecy word for word. When he had gotten to the part about the child born in the end of July, Neville's grandmother gripped Neville's shoulder tightly.
"You mean," stammered Neville, "I could have been the one?"
"No one except Voldemort knows why he chose me, but yes it could have been you." Harry nodded.
"Why are you telling us this, Mr. Potter?" the older woman wanted to know. Harry took a deep breath.
"Because that prophecy is the reason they were... attacked. For the same reason my parents were killed."
"Oh Merlin," Ms. Longbottom said, clearly shocked. "Are you quite sure about this?"
"Professor Dumbledore told me. So yes, I'm as sure as I can be," Harry told her.
"Thank you," she said, tears beginning to form in her eyes. "They weren't just doing their job then, they were fighting Voldemort." This, directed to Neville who was looking at Harry, who in turn nodded his agreement with what she had said.
"As I said," Harry told them both, "it's something I think you deserve to know.
None of them said anything for a few moments and Harry could not think of any reason to linger so he excused himself.
"I still have to pack so I'll leave you alone," said Harry. He tried to smile, but found he could not.
"Harry!" Neville called him after he had taken a couple of steps away. He turned back toward them. "Thanks," Neville said, "I appreciate you telling me." Harry nodded and then did leave.
Since school ended earlier than normal, the Dursleys were not at King's Cross to meet him when he got off the train. However, the Auror presence on the train was heavy, amongst which was Nymphadora Tonks. Remus Lupin was also on the train and the two of them were going to see to it Harry arrived at number four, Privet Drive safely.
"I expect we'll see you at the Burrow," said Remus, as he shook Harry's hand.
If only because Dumbledore wanted it, Harry returned to his aunt and uncle's house for this final stay. He much rather would have liked to go straight to the Burrow but he was going to keep his promise. Of course, his arrival was greeted with the same amount of enthusiasm he felt about being there, exactly none. It was mid afternoon when he walked through the front door so Dudley would be in school and Uncle Vernon at work. His aunt came out of the kitchen to investigate the unexpected sound of someone entering the house, and quickly accosted him.
"What are you doing here, boy?" she demanded. "You're not supposed to be out of school for another fortnight."
"School ended early this year," said Harry, dully. He elaborated no further.
"Did you finally manage to get yourself expelled?" Petunia asked in an accusing tone.
"No, I wasn't expelled." Harry kept his tone flat. "There was... a death and it was decided to end the term early." Of course, he knew this simple explanation was not going to be good enough.
Harry could not have known, but Petunia had been in his room several times since Dumbledore rescued him just before the start of the year the previous summer. Had he known this, he would have also known she read the Daily Prophets he left in the room when he quickly packed. In addition, had he known, her next question would not have surprised him as much as it did.
"It has something to do with that Voldemort person doesn't it?" However, it really should not have surprised him that much. Of the three Dursleys, Petunia knew most about the Wizarding world. She may have had some idea of who Voldemort was and what he represented, but not enough of one to prevent her from saying his name in the casual manner most witches and wizards did not.
"Yes, some of his followers snuck into the school and killed Dumbledore," said Harry, answering her question after getting past the surprise of hearing her ask.
"Dumbledore?" Petunia looked shocked. "If he's gone the protection that's supposed to be here..."
"It's still here," said Harry, "until the day I turn seventeen. But I'll be leaving well before then."
Harry knew the greeting he would get from Uncle Vernon would be even more unpleasant. He was not surprised in the least when he started in on Harry almost from the moment he walked though the door. Harry was just descending the stairs at that moment.
"As if this hasn't been a bad enough week already," Vernon said, looking up at Harry with disdain, "now I'm saddled with you a fortnight early."
"And I'm happy to see you, as well," Harry said, not caring if his uncle heard the sarcasm. "But don't worry, I'm only going to be here a few days, then I'll be gone for good."
"Why are you home early, anyway?" Vernon asked him. "Chucked out, were you?"
"No," Harry answered, "there was a death so they decided to end the term early."
Vernon did not say anything for a moment, so Harry turned to go back to his room. Halfway up the stairs, Vernon said something Harry was not going to let go unchallenged.
"That pretentious Headmaster of your freak school," Vernon started, "couldn't do anything about it?"
Harry froze, and then turned back around to descend the stairs once more. He was a mere inches from his uncle, his face a mask of hatred.
"Professor Dumbledore," Harry said through gritted teeth, "was the one who was killed."
"Oh, uh," Vernon said, haltingly. Harry could not remember his uncle being at a loss for words very often. This would be the extent of Vernon's sympathy.
"Yes, I can see why they would end the term early," said Vernon.
"Still want to have a go at him?" Harry asked, cheekily. Vernon only pushed his way past him, and headed toward the kitchen.
"By the way," Harry called after him, "I'm going to have a couple of friends from school over in a day or two." Vernon turned back around and was back to normal.
"You meant to ask if you could have a couple of your friends over," said Vernon.
"No," Harry walked two steps in his direction. "I meant exactly what I said."
Petunia came out of the kitchen as Vernon made it clear Harry would do no such thing. "I don't know who you think you are, boy," he said, beginning to get red in the face. "But in my house you will do as I say."
"Vernon," said Petunia, "just let it go."
"I will not!" He was working himself into frenzy. "Until you bring some money into this house you will not do as you please." Vernon was shaking a finger at Harry, who took another step closer.
"Do you mean to tell me," said Harry, "this is all about money?"
"Right in one," Vernon agreed. "Sixteen years, and not a single pence we got to room and board you."
"We can solve that problem straight away," said Harry. "How much money do you want?"
"Er," Vernon stammered, he could not have expected that reaction. "I don't know; let's say an even thousand quid per year."
"Not for second hand clothes, and a broom cupboard for a room," Harry countered, causing Petunia to look frightened. "I'll give you 800 pounds for the first eleven years, and 200 for the past six. That would be an even ten-thousand."
"Do you expect me to believe you actually have that kind of money?" Vernon asked, laughing humorlessly.
"How would you suppose I got all my school supplies?" asked Harry. "I'll bring you the money tomorrow."
Harry then walked away, going back to his room. It really did not surprise him to learn Vernon wanted money. Only in name could Harry call Vernon's house his home, and honestly did not think they deserved payment at all. However, if giving them a bit of money would keep them off his back, Harry would gladly pay him.
The next morning, Harry was in the kitchen eating breakfast when the doorbell rang.
"Who the bloody hell can that be this early in the morning?" said Vernon, hefting his large frame out of the chair, as he went to answer the door.
"Hurry up and finish eating, Dudders," Petunia said to Dudley. "You can't be late for school any more this term."
"Alright, Mum," answered Dudley, as he wolfishly attacked his breakfast. Vernon walked into the kitchen and pointed at Harry.
"It's for you," he said.
"Thanks," Harry said, getting up to see who was visiting. He could not imagine who it could be, however.
"Oh, hello, Hermione," Harry said, smiling at his friend. "I wasn't expecting you for another day or two." He was surprised, but happy to see Hermione.
"I needed to get out of the house," she told him. "I thought you'd like to spend the day together."
"Sure," Harry said. "I have to go to Gringotts, if you want to come along." Harry stepped aside from the door to allow Hermione to enter.
"Why do you have to go to Gringotts?" Hermione walked into the house, and looked around as Harry closed the door.
"I need to exchange some Galleons for Muggle money," Harry explained. "My uncle wishes to be paid for my room and board."
"Harry, that's awful," Hermione frowned. "What kind of family expects money to care for their relatives?"
"The kind of family who don't want you to be there. But I'm not fussed," said Harry. "If it will keep them off my back, I'll do it for the peace and quiet."
Hermione did not argue the point and soon the two of them set off for Diagon Alley. They walked to the end of Privet Drive, as Hermione looked around to make sure no one was around. She took out her wand, and then looked at Harry.
"I forgot, you can't Apparate," she said, stowing her wand. "We'll have to take the Knight Bus."
"Just Apparate, Hermione," said Harry. "I can hold on to your arm and go along with you. That's how Dumbledore Apparated with me."
"No, I'm not going to try that," Hermione shook her head. "We can take the Knight Bus. I want to talk to you, anyway."
Once aboard the Knight Bus, they found two empty chairs and braced themselves for the ride.
"Why did you break up with Ginny?" Hermione wanted to know. Harry gave her the same reason he had given to Ginny.
"Doesn't it occur to you," said Hermione, "she doesn't care?"
"She said the same thing," Harry answered. "I do care, however. Too many people have already died because of me."
"Harry," Hermione said softly, "people are going to die because it's a war, not because of you."
"Voldemort will go after my friends," said Harry. "He already tried to kill her once."
"And that was before you were friends," Hermione reminded him. "You really should reconsider."
"But what if something happens?" asked Harry. "How am I going to feel then?"
"Knowing you," said Hermione, "you'd feel much worse if something happened and you weren't there to protect her."
Harry scowled at her, but he could not deny she hit it spot on.
"You know," said Harry, "you're much too clever for your own good." However, he managed a tiny smile.
"Alright, I'll talk to Ginny and work it out," said Harry.
"About time you took your head out of your arse." Mad-Eye Moody was sitting directly behind them, and heard their conversation. "Ginny Weasley can take care of herself as well as any of you lot."
"Hello, Professor Moody," said Harry, clearly surprised to see him. "What are you doing on the Knight Bus?"
"Guarding the two of you," he growled. "Dumbledore may be gone, but the Order is not. Best be careful what you say in public, lad." Moody's magical eye bobbed up and down, as it was pointed in his direction. "You can never tell who might be listening."
After they visited Gringotts and had a bit of lunch, they dropped in on the Twins' shop to say hello. The shop was as crowded as it was the last time Harry was there, but the twins were not around. The witch called Verity told them they were with their family at St. Mungo's.
"Must have moved Bill there," Harry said, nodding.
"Yes," said Verity, "they said something about their brother."
"I hope he's alright," said Hermione.
"He's fine," said Moody. "They're going to keep him there until the full moon just to make sure."
"Did you know there were Aurors watching us?" Harry asked Hermione shortly after they had returned from Diagon Alley.
"I knew the Order was making sure to keep an eye on you," said Hermione. They were in the Dursleys' back yard, sitting beneath a large tree. "You can hardly expect they would suddenly stop."
"No, I suppose not," said Harry. "I'm only wondering how we could have not seen Moody."
"Because he is good at what he does," said Hermione. "Is that your cousin?" Dudley had just stepped out of the house and lumbered in their direction.
"Yes, that would be Dudley," Harry answered, looking toward the house.
"Harry," Dudley said as he got closer, "Mum wants to know if your friend is staying for dinner." He was looking at Hermione in the way a teenage boy looked at teenage girls. This is to say; he was seeing her without her clothing.
"I don't know," said Harry. "Hermione, are you staying for dinner?"
"Hello, I'm Hermione," she said to Dudley. "I don't think I can stay, but thank you for asking."
"Okay," said Dudley, "I'll let her know not to set an extra place." He turned and walked back into the house.
"So, he's human after all," said Harry as they watched him retreat.
"Your uncle didn't seem so bad either," said Hermione. "After hearing all the stories about them, I was afraid to ring your doorbell."
"I should have given them money six years ago," muttered Harry, patting the packets of notes in his pocket. "It just goes to show what they are all about."
"That doesn't make them any different than most people," said Hermione. "I suppose they felt put out when you were left on their doorstep."
"You can't be defending them," said Harry.
"No, I'm not defending them," said Hermione. "I just know what motivates a lot of people."
They chatted a few more minutes before Hermione got up from the ground.
"I need to be getting home," she said. "But I'll be back with Ron the day after tomorrow." Her wand was in her hand as she looked around to make sure no one was watching. "Bye, Harry." Hermione flicked her wand; a loud pop announced her departure.
Dudley came out of the house again to investigate the noise. Harry walked toward him, not saying a word.
"Where did Hermione go?" Dudley wanted to know, his beady eyes were darting back and forth, searching.
"She went home," said Harry. "Is your dad home yet?"
"Yeah," said Dudley, "we didn't see her leave. How'd she do that?"
"Used her wand," said Harry.
"But I thought you couldn't use magic until you're adults," said Dudley, still looking around the yard.
"Hermione is of age," Harry answered, walking past him to into the house.
Vernon and Petunia were sitting at the dining table when Harry walked in. As they both looked up at him, Harry became quite uncomfortable seeing they were not glaring.
"You know, your friend is welcome to stay for dinner," Vernon finally said.
"She had to get home," said Harry, as he reached into his pocket and took out the two packets of hundred pound notes. He walked to the table, and dropped them. "It's really a shame all it takes is money to get you to treat me like a human being."
Harry did not wait around to hear what they had to say about the money. He went instead to his room to write a note to Ginny.
I've been thinking about this, and feel as if I was a bit hasty telling you we couldn't see each other any more. Besides, I would feel a lot worse if something happens to you and I wasn't there to protect you. I would much rather be with you than not. When Ron and Hermione come over, I'd like very much if you were to be with them.
P.S. How is Bill?
Harry folded the parchment and slipped it into an envelope. After he wrote Ginny's name on it, he opened Hedwig's cage.
"Here you are, then," Harry said to the owl. Hedwig opened her beak to accept the letter. "I think she's at St. Mungo's."
"Wait for an answer," he said as the bird hooted, then took off through the window Harry opened.
Harry endured a sickening display of pleasantness from the Dursleys during dinner. Just having the three of them acting nice to him nearly put him off his appetite. The more he thought it over, the more it disgusted him to know they were only concerned with money. They did not give a damn about him, and Harry knew it would not be long before they wanted more money. However, since Harry did not intend to be there very long at all, there would be no more money for the Dursleys. Moreover, Harry knew if he were to try giving that same money to the Weasleys, they would be insulted. He supposed that was the difference between doing things because you care, and doing them because you have to. Harry vowed to find some way to get some of his gold into the Weasleys' hands.
It was near midnight before Hedwig returned with an answer to Harry's letter. Harry nervously took the letter from the owl, and nearly tore it in half trying to get it opened.
You don't know how happy it makes me feel to have you say that! However, here's a better idea. Instead of tagging along with Ron and Hermione, you can come to St. Mungo's to visit.
Bill is fine; they just want to keep him until the full moon to make sure he doesn't turn into a full werewolf. I honestly don't know why we're all staying here, but you're not going to talk Mum out of doing something once her mind is set.
Looking forward to seeing you soon,
Harry read the letter several times before putting it back into the envelope. He gave Hedwig a few owl treats, which the bird took directly from his hand.
The next morning, Harry dressed quickly and left the house before his relatives could fawn over him. He trotted to the end of Privet Drive, to await the Knight Bus.
"Professor Moody," said Harry. "Are you here?"
"No, but I am," said the voice belonging to Tonks, who emerged from behind some bushes. "Wotcher, Harry."
"Hi, Tonks," said Harry. "So how many people are assigned to me?"
"No one is assigned to you," said Tonks. "But we're all taking turns guarding you."
"Purple is a good color for you," said Harry as he gazed at her bright purple hair. "It's good to see you back to normal."
"And where are you off to, then?" Tonks wanted to know. She was being very businesslike with him.
"St. Mungo's," said Harry, "to see Ginny."
"Oh, that's good," said Tonks as the Knight Bus arrived. "I wasn't looking forward to hiding in the bushes all day."
"Has there been any news?" asked Harry once the bus was on the move.
"Narcissa Malfoy has gone missing," said Tonks after looking around to make sure no one was listening to the conversation. "Mad-Eye thinks You-Know-Who had her killed."
"That doesn't surprise me," said Harry, as the bus came to a stop outside the entrance of St. Mungo's.
Tonks was able to lead him to the ward where they were keeping Bill, as she had already been there once or twice. Fred and George were milling about in the waiting room as they approached.
"Well look at what we have here," said George.
"Just the man we wanted to see," added Fred. They took Harry to a secluded spot and placed him in the corner, effectively trapping him.
"We need to have a word about our sister," George told him.
"Being her older brothers and all, we consider this our solemn duty," said Fred.
"It's nothing personal, mind you," said George.
"But when duty calls," added Fred. "So what are your intentions toward her, then?"
"What are you two on about?" asked Harry. "I have no intentions, she's just my girlfriend."
"Then you better get yourself some intentions," Fred warned.
"We'll not have our little sister being led about by someone with no intentions," said George.
"She could be led astray by a bloke with no intentions," Fred went on.
"And we simply can not have that," George agreed. "All of this 'she's just my girlfriend' nonsense doesn't fly."
This was Fred and George, as he had never seen them. They obviously took the welfare of their sister very seriously.
"We're a little young to go off and get married just yet," said Harry. "So you don't have to worry about it."
"Oh, we're not worried about it," said George.
"But we absolutely had to use this opportunity to take the Mickey out of you," laughed Fred.
"The look on your face was priceless." George clapped Harry on the shoulder. "Come on, mate, everyone is inside."
Bill was propped up in bed when the twins led Harry into the room. Molly, Fleur, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were standing in various places around the bed.
"Look who we found skulking about in the waiting room," said George.
"Harry, dear," Molly pulled him into a hug, "it's so good of you to stop by."
"Yes," said Bill. "It's good to see you, Harry." The wounds on his face would look grotesque on most people. However, on Bill, they made him look even cooler that he did before. Harry did not feel the need to mention this, though.
Bill held out his hand to shake as Fleur stepped up to him and kissed each cheek in turn.
"'Eet is good to see you, 'Arry," she said in her sultry voice.
"He didn't come to see Bill," said Fred, snickering.
"No, he's here to see Ginny," said George. "Forced us to lead him to her."
"What is this?" Bill said, with his eyebrows raised. "Only using me as an excuse to get to my baby sister, are you?"
"Is it a tradition of the Weasley family to give all of Ginny's boyfriends a difficult time?" asked Harry.
"And what does this young man mean by 'all of Ginny's boyfriends'?" Bill turned on Ginny who by this time was standing right next to Harry, and had taken his hand in her own.
"He means, big brother," said Ginny, sweetly, "it's none of your business."
"She does go through them rather quickly," George pointed out.
"Four in one year, wasn't it?" Fred asked.
"I think it was five, really," said George. Ginny shot the twins a dirty look.
"So what are your intentions, Potter?" asked Bill in mock severity.
"Well, eloping sounds like a good idea," said Harry, giving it right back to them. Having already gotten this same bit from the twins, he was ready to play along. "I was thinking we could go to Paris, or Las Vegas."
For her part, Molly watched this whole exchange in silence. However, hearing Harry joking about eloping brought her into the conversation.
"Mr. Potter," she said, "I absolutely forbid you to elope with my daughter. Ginny is going to have a large wedding, with all of the trimmings."
"Hold on," said Harry. "I'm not ready to get married." He had seen this expression on Molly's face before, he did not like to see it directed at him.
"Oho, my sister isn't good enough for you?" Bill piped up. "Thought you'd be shagging her as if she's just some tart, then off to the next one is it?"
"Uh..." Harry was not able think of anything to say. "No... I mean..."
"You're gonna scare him off if you're not careful," said Ron, who was laughing by this time. Hermione had a hand over her mouth, watching with great amusement.
"We've not had a lot of practice at this," Molly said, also laughing. "We've never had the chance to have a go at Ginny's boyfriend, since she's never brought one home to meet us."
"No, but you make up for it in numbers," said Hermione. "Four older brothers, and one parent. Harry didn't stand a chance."
"Isn't that the idea?" Bill asked as he put an arm around Fleur's waist. "I could have sworn I read in the intimidating boyfriends manual, said boyfriend should not stand a chance."
"I have to say," said Harry, "that bit about the wedding gets top marks." This caused everyone to laugh, as Ginny squeezed his hand. "Speaking of weddings, do you two have a date set?"
"Not yet," said Bill. "We'd been planning for the end of June, but getting married in here isn't an option."
"A couple of weeks won't matter," said Molly. "July and August are just as nice."
"These wounds will have to heal by then," said Bill.
"They look better than the last time I saw them," said Harry. "They seem to be starting to close."
"'E will still be very handsome," said Fleur, running a finger lightly over his cheek.
"Professor Moody told me they only want to keep you here just to be on the safe side," said Harry.
"That's what the Healers say," said Bill. "Remus has been a lot of help, too."
"This is my family," thought Harry, smiling.
A little later, Harry was in the cafeteria with Ginny, Hermione and Ron. Harry was still walking on air from the kiss Ginny planted on him as soon as they left Bill's room.
"So who's idea was all of that?" asked Harry.
"Fred's, I think," said Ginny. "I didn't expect Mum to go along with it, though."
"She gave me her evil look," said Harry. "I thought she was serious."
"If you were truly planning to elope, she'd have been serious," said Ginny.
"Did you hear about Narcissa Malfoy going missing?" Harry asked them. "Tonks told me on the way over."
"She's probably dead," said Ron, "at least that's what Mum thinks."
"You know," said Hermione, "unless you've already told her, this might be a good time to let Ginny in on the prophecy." Hermione was no doubt remembering how Pansy looked, never knowing what Draco was doing.
"Yes," said Harry, "I was thinking the same thing." He lowered his voice, reciting the prophecy.
"That's the same one Voldemort was after?" Ginny wanted to know.
"Yes," said Harry, "it was told to Dumbledore. He told me what it said the night we went to the Ministry."
"So," said Ginny, "you were telling me we had to break up because you have to fulfill this prophecy."
"Something like that," said Harry. "I'm the one who has to kill him."
"You prat!" Ginny punched his arm, somewhat playfully. "You don't have to be alone to do it."
"That sounds familiar," said Hermione, a smirk on her face, "doesn't it, Harry?"
"Er," Harry fumbled for something to say.
"That's what you get when you have a hero for a boyfriend," said Ginny, rolling her eyes. "You get this straight, Potter. You're not going anywhere by yourself." She was jabbing her finger in his chest with each word.
"If I were you," said Hermione, "I'd simply accept that as a statement of fact, and leave it at that."
Arthur arrived at dinner hour to eat with the family before heading back to work. He was spending an increasing amount of time at the Ministry with each passing day.
"Have you heard anything about whether Hogwarts will reopen, Mr. Weasley?" asked Hermione.
"Not about whether or not they intend to reopen the school," said Arthur. "But they've appointed McGonagall new Headmistress."
"Do you know when the Governors will decide, Dad?" asked Ginny.
"No, I don't know," said Arthur. "But if you think about it, why would they appoint a new Head for a school they may close?"
"That's a fair point," Hermione agreed. "That's really encouraging news."
"I can see you are going to be easy to cook for, Bill," said Harry; gesturing to the nearly raw piece of meat he was attacking.
"'Eet is prepared just right," Fleur informed him.
Later that same night as he was getting ready for bed, his scar had begun to tingle in an all-together different manner than when Voldemort was in his mind. This was more of a tickle if had to compare it to anything. Just as he'd gotten comfortable under his blanket a loud pop rang out. Startled, Harry had reached for both his glasses and his wand, but before he could accomplish either the person he could not see in the dark boomed out the words "AETIS INSISTO!" Then Harry heard no more.
Big thanks to Jaybird for beta reading my chapters.