Ginny woke the following morning, groggy from a restless night of strange dreams that mainly consisted of walking hand-in-hand with Harry through a forest. White daisies and yellow and blue forget-me-nots had sprung up in their wake, covering the forest floor in a bed of wildflowers. At one point, he had turned to smile at her; not the half smile he had given her the previous night in the Hog’s Head, but a genuine smile that reached his eyes and made the green shimmer brightly. Wordlessly, he had pulled her towards him, his head bowing, even as she tilted hers upwards to meet his. He kissed her softly, his arms wrapping around her waist. A fire had kindled within her with that simple gesture and she had linked her arms around his neck, giving him all the encouragement he needed to deepen the kiss into a whirlwind of passion that had sent Ginny’s senses reeling.
Lying in bed and feeling the warm light of the rising sun caressing her skin, she ran her fingers lightly over her lips that still tingled, as if Harry actually had just kissed her. She had kissed three boys in her lifetime, and none of them had elicited the flames of passion she had felt in the dream. Her belly still roiled with anticipation and her chest ached with longing.
Daisies and forget-me-nots symbolized loyal and true love. Ginny scrunched up her nose in confusion, remembering how Harry’s appearance and sarcastic comments had done little to make a good first impression upon her. While that impression had improved through the course of yesterday evening, she certainly hadn’t gone to bed thinking romantic thoughts about the enigmatic Auror.
She sat up in bed, sitting crossed-legged beneath the covers, rolled her shoulders and straightened her back until she was in a relaxed, but perfectly aligned position. Resting her hands lightly on her knees, Ginny closed her eyes and began slowly breathing in through her nose and just as slowly blowing her breath softly out from her lips. She imagined her body was a balloon and pictured the cool air she breathed in to fill the entire space within her. After several minutes, she felt a calmness wash over her signalling her readiness to enter her mind’s eye and she focused on one objective for her meditation, to see her future.
Moving through the darkness of her mind, shadowy, grey images flickered before her. Tall, spindly objects grew around her, and gazing above her head, Ginny thought she could see the sun filtering through what she thought might be tree branches. Looking about her and past the trees, she saw only darkness beyond the trunks. Reaching a hand out, she touched the rough bark of a trunk nearest to her. It scratched against her skin, and she ran her fingers over it as she passed by. Mist swirled around her ankles and the dry scrubby ground crunched beneath her bare feet as she moved forward. A faint light appeared before her, beckoning her onward.
Hope filling her heart, she quickened her pace, hurrying towards its brightness. As she drew closer, faint laughter filled her ears, but it was muffled and she was uncertain where it was coming from. The light grew brighter and pushing the last few low hanging branches out of her path, Ginny stepped into a seemingly empty clearing until she saw two ghostly images hovering in the middle. Others hovered on the other side of the clearing, and slowly turning around, she realized she and the two images were surrounded by other indistinct shadows. She looked up at the sky and screamed in anger.
I want to see MY future, not this senseless death of a boy I didn’t even know!
Growling in frustration, she opened her eyes, effectively disintegrating the vision before it could coalesce once again into a sequence of events she had seen thousands of times. She could envision unfortunate Daphne Greengrass being murdered and feel the killer’s hands around her neck, but she couldn’t see her own or Harry’s future.
Remembering the whole reason she had even met him yesterday, her anger immediately abated and reminded her of the more pressing issue of finding a murderer before he decided to kill again.
She wondered why the killer had chosen Daphne. There was a plethora of reasons why from the fact that she was a former Slytherin who had caused other students grief, she had fought on the dark side, or simply because she was beautiful and perhaps had shunned the killer at some point in her life. It could be all three of those things, or maybe none. Unfortunately, Ginny had not been able to gain a clear sense of the killer’s motives, as Daphne’s fear had been too prevalent, effectively masking other emotions.
Mulling the details of the case, along with her confusing feelings for Harry over, she quickly dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast. Arriving in the Great Hall through the side door that led from the teacher's lounge to the head table, she moved down the aisle behind the table, greeting her fellow instructors before slipping into her seat next to Neville.
He was perusing the sports section of the Daily Prophet and sipping a cup of steaming green tea, but looked up when she settled next to him.
"You were still gone when I left to go home yesterday,” Neville commented. “Did Ron let you help?”
"Yes," Ginny sighed, rubbing her eyes, "The victim was Daphne Greengrass, Neville.”
“You saw her?” he asked, astonished. “She was awful and a Slytherin, but she never did anything worse than any of the others who managed to avoid trial. I wonder why someone would want to kill her in cold blood.”
“I don’t know, and unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the killer as well as I had hoped. I wasn’t able to give them much except that the killer used a white lorry.”
“Well, that’s an odd bit of evidence, I’d say,” Neville said. “Are they certain he’s a wizard? Maybe it is just a random Muggle killing. It seems murders like Daphne’s occur much more frequently in their world than ours.”
Ginny nodded. "True, but I saw him use magic, and very effectively. He’s a wizard with Muggle ties. At least, that’s what Ron and his partner think. Speaking of which,”she paused. She wanted very much to talk with Neville about the strange visions she had been having of Harry, but she wasn’t certain what her best friend would think.
Neville already knew that when Ginny had been a little girl she had had a crush on the mythical hero that had been Harry Potter. Since no one had known where he was or if he even really existed, there had been many fantastical tales woven about him. So, like many girls, Ginny had fantasized about Harry, like a knight in shining armour or a prince, who would rescue the damsel in distress.
Of course, by the time she began attending Hogwarts, she had outgrown such childish fantasies. However, the dream last night seemed like one of her daydreams from so long ago, dusted off and refurbished to meet her more mature expectations, and perhaps that was all it was.
“Speaking of which,” she repeated, deciding it would best to clue her best friend in, “you’ll never guess who Ron’s new partner is.”
“Harry Potter,” Neville answered, smiling broadly over at the gobsmacked expression Ginny couldn’t help covered her face. “Finally, I knew something before you. It’s a miracle.”
“How’d you know?” she asked, feeling put out.
“I saw Ron a couple of nights ago at the Leaky Cauldron,”he answered. “He came in, complaining about his new partner being a workaholic and expecting him to stay as late as he planned to. I had planned on telling you, but then you had the vision about the murder and it slipped my mind. I’m surprised you didn’t see it though, Ginny. Especially since you mentioned seeing Ron looking over the case.”
“That’s just the thing, Neville,” she said, lowering her voice so only he would hear her and none of the other professors still seated at the head table, “I can’t read Harry at all.”
“Not at all?” he asked, his brow furrowing.
“No,” Ginny confirmed. “I’ve never encountered anything like it, well, except with myself. It’s the same thing, I can’t read him or see his future, or anything.”
“What do you think it means?”
“I don’t know, but remember when I told you about the very first vision I ever had?” she asked, waiting for Neville to confirm that he did before continuing. “Well, after meeting Harry I realized he's the boy. I saw him die, at the hands of the Dark Lord, I think.”
Neville stared at her, clearly perplexed. “But, he faced the Dark Lord years ago and he’s still alive, Ginny.”
“I know,” Ginny said. “I don’t understand it. When Ron introduced us yesterday and I shook Harry’s hand, I saw it again, clearer than ever before, but that is all I ever see when I touch him.”
“Maybe you were wrong,” Neville offered.
“Maybe, but why would I still see it, as if it really did happen?” Ginny asked. “I saw it as clear as I witnessed the murder scene last night, Neville. I know it happened. As much as I hate saying this, I have never been wrong before.”
"Sounds like you are simply going to have to ask him, then," Neville replied, and Ginny scowled at him.
"How do you suggest I do that?" she asked. "I can't just go up to him and ask if the Dark Lord killed him!"
"Not so bluntly, no," Neville said. "But maybe you could work it into conversation.”
"I don't know if I will even see him again, Neville," she said, trying very hard to ignore the baffling pang in her chest. "I don't normally make it a habit to aid Auror investigations, you know."
"What made you decide to this time?"her friend asked.
"I had the vision of Daphne's murder and something compelled me to help them."
"What?" he pressed. "You've had visions before. Aside from informing the participating parties, you've never wanted to be personally involved before, Ginny."
She was beginning to wonder if some unseen hand was indeed guiding her. After Fred, she had never attempted to become involved in any way except from giving the information she had received. It was too painful to watch her visions come to fruition, but she felt like she couldn't stop herself this time.
"This isn't about trying to change the future," Ginny explained. "Ron told me they didn't have any evidence, and I was at least able to provide them with something to go on."
Neville nodded. "As long as you know what you are doing."
"I do," she said with conviction. "I think this will be good for me. There was a reason I was given this gift. Not that I have been squandering it here teaching Divination, because I love working with the students, but I could and should be doing more. If I can help Ron and Harry catch this killer, then I should.”
Ginny helped herself to some toast and marmalade and a glass of pumpkin juice, and had just taken a bite when Neville asked:
"So, what's Harry Potter like?"
"Quiet, reserved," she answered around the bite of toast, quickly chewing and swallowing the rest before continuing. “He doesn’t strike me as being very social. Ron had to practically twist his arm before he agreed to have a drink with us at the Hog’s Head.”
“You had a drink with Harry Potter last night?” Neville asked, clearly shocked.
“Yes, why do you act so surprised?” Ginny didn’t find it strange in the slightest that she had shared a drink with her brother and his partner.
“He’s never set foot in the Leaky Cauldron,” Neville responded, “and Hannah says she heard a rumour that he doesn’t drink.”
“Well, clearly that rumour is false,” she said, thinking of the two shots they had had, although she couldn’t remember if Harry had drunk his second one or not. “He drinks, just not a lot, I think. I have to tell you, it’s very strange for me not to be able to receive any kind of insight into a person.”
“Welcome to the world of the average witch or wizard,” Neville teased.
“I know. I even resorted to reading his palms to try to get him to open up to me a bit,” Ginny admitted.
He raised an eyebrow at this remark. “You flirted with Harry Potter?”
“No!” she exclaimed.
“Sounds like flirting to me,” he retorted, picking up his tea cup to take a sip, only to have most of the tea slosh over his robes when Ginny punched him on the shoulder.
“I was not,” Ginny hissed, thinking back on yesterday evening and her conversation with Harry as she held his hand and traced the lines on his palms. Her cheeks coloured with the realization that it did indeed look like flirting upon her reflection. She flicked her eyes over to Neville who was rubbing his shoulder, but smirking at her.
“Oh, Merlin,” Ginny groaned. “I was, wasn’t I?”
Neville shrugged. “I wasn’t there, but, yeah, it sounds that way. So what did you learn from reading the infamous Harry Potter’s palms? I hear he’s fairly misanthropic.”
“He certainly was close-lipped yesterday,” she inured. “I think I wound up telling him more about myself than I found out about him. He certainly wasn’t too happy about me reading his palms, especially after I admitted to him that I couldn’t read him. He said he had yet to meet a seer who could, but at least I was the first to admit to it.”
“Sounds like he’s been visiting a lot of seers,” Neville mused. “The papers have always alluded that he’s mental.”
“He’s definitely not mental,” Ginny said defensively. “He just seemed… depressed.” She recalled the faint air of desperation that Harry had exhibited when she had admitted she couldn’t read him. “And why do you have to be mental to visit a seer?” she asked, glaring over at her best friend. “Just remember, you asked for my advice about Hannah.”
“And you wouldn’t give me any,” Neville retorted, even as he smiled affectionately over at Ginny. “And you were right, it was much better not knowing ahead of time and taking a chance. That’s why I think it might be a good thing you can’t read Harry. It already sounds like this conundrum has piqued your interest and curiosity.”
“It has at that,” Ginny agreed. “I hope I’ll see him again. I have to admit, it was nice spending time with someone and not having to block out all the white noise.”
“Think that’s why you fancy him?” Neville asked, studying her.
He effectively managed to dodge the next punch Ginny aimed towards him. “I never said I fancied him! When I met him yesterday it looked like he’d slept in his uniform and just rolled out of bed.”
“Maybe he had,” Neville joked. “Mental, remember? I heard he has a house-elf that has to remind him when to eat.”
“You’re having me on,” Ginny responded, looking over at him.
“Where do you get all your information from anyway?”
“My wife, where else?” he asked, as if the answer should be obvious. “She’s a barkeeper, remember? People talk, as do gossiping goblins, eavesdropping elves, prattling pygmies…”
“You are no help,” Ginny griped and glanced at her watch, “Don’t you have a morning class to prepare for?”
Neville pulled out his own pocket watch and grimaced. “Thanks for reminding me! I have to put away all my prized plants before my first year Slytherins and Ravenclaws show up.”
“Good luck,” she said as he rose.
“You too, Ginny,” Neville said, stooping to peck her on the cheek. “And between you and me, Harry really would be daft not to fancy you back.”
He hurried off before she could attempt to hit him for the third time, and she quickly pulled her hand back to her side, but not before she received a reprimanding look from the Headmistress.
“Professor Weasley,” Headmistress McGonagall called, “Do try to remember that you are no longer a student here, but an instructor and comport yourself as such.”
The following day, Ginny was taking a stroll over the grounds after her last class, ambling aimlessly. Neville’s comments that she had flirted with Harry and that she must fancy him had left her analysing nearly everything that had occurred since meeting him. Her thoughts had been scattered over the past twenty-four hours, fluctuating between trying to find more information in the vague images she had picked up at the abduction and crime scenes and thinking of the few moments in the Hog’s Head she had spent talking to Harry.
Reviewing Daphne’s brutal murder had done nothing but bring on another migraine and she had quickly given up, knowing she was not going to find anything else to bring to the Aurors. Thinking of Harry, had become a much more pleasant past-time, even though going over what she had seen in his palm didn’t make things any clearer where he was concerned, either. At least remembering their conversation didn’t give her a headache, and sometimes when she closed her eyes she could feel the weight and warmth of his hand in hers. During her daily meditation she would focus on the phantom feeling of his hand and hope it would lead to unlocking more insight into him, but all it ever brought was the scene of his violent end. She couldn’t bring herself to examine it as she had Daphne’s, because Ginny was afraid of what she might find.
She was actually debating whether or not she should simply pay him a visit at the Auror office to inquire how the case was fairing, when surprisingly, she saw his messy black hair and lean figure stepping out of Hagrid’s hut. Ginny froze in her tracks, bemused as to why he would be visiting school groundskeeper.
All of her years at Hogwarts, she had never seen Harry Potter anywhere near the vicinity of the school and Hagrid had certainly never mentioned knowing him. As Aberforth had said the other evening, Harry had been Professor Dumbledore’s best kept secret until the very end.
Harry began walking down the path from Hagrid’s hut that would lead him to the school gates, and Ginny felt the pangs of disappointment that he hadn’t come to the school to see her. She thought, since he was at the school, he would at least have taken the opportunity to inform her how the investigation was going, and she was annoyed at his apparent thoughtlessness.
She continued watching his retreating back, when he suddenly stopped in his tracks, hesitating a moment before turning around. As she was standing at the top of the hill above him, Harry instantly spied her and paused, looking uncertainly in her direction. Ginny realized she was scowling in a very unattractive way towards him and attempted to cover the look by shielding her eyes, as if she was trying to make out who he was.
After a moment's indecision, he headed towards her, his long legs carrying him to stand before her in just a few strides. Despite his still unruly hair, it looked as if he had made a concerted effort to make himself a bit more presentable than the last time she had seen him. His navy robes were relatively wrinkle-free, his shirt tails were tucked in and his tie, while still loosened, was knotted in a neat Windsor knot. He was still wearing the scuffed trainers, but overall he appeared much more professional.
"Hello, Harry," she greeted as he came to a stop.
"Hello, Ginny," he replied, “Sun in your eyes?” He observed her slyly, squinting slightly against the sun that was indeed at her back and Ginny silently groaned, realizing he had effectively deduced her ruse. “You didn’t look too happy to see me,” he continued.
“I was surprised to see you here, is all,” she honestly replied. “And if you must know, I was a bit put out that you hadn’t stopped by to let me know how the case was fairing.”
“I assumed Ron would have kept you informed.” he churlishly said, shoving his hands into his trouser pockets.
“I suppose he’s been too busy tracking down white lorries,” Ginny remarked.
"We’ve done as much as we can,” Harry offered by way of explanation. “I have a contact in the Muggle police looking into white lorries for me on their end. So far, we haven't come up with much."
“I imagine your contact in the Muggle office must find the work tedious then."
To Ginny's surprise Harry’s lips quirked into a half-smile. "It's all right. It's my cousin, and he owes me more than one favour. Besides, better Dudley than Ron. Especially after the earful I received yesterday from your brother when he was late meeting Hermione and her parents. Speaking of, have you fully recovered from the other night?”
“Yes, thank you for asking,” Ginny answered.
He shuffled his feet beneath him, absently looking past her shoulder at the castle behind them. “Were you headed somewhere in particular when you saw me?” he asked.
"I was planning on taking a walk over the grounds. Would you like to come with me?” Ginny asked, realizing this may be the perfect opportunity to ask him about his past.
He hesitated, and she wondered if she had been too presumptuous, but he finally gave her another half smile and nodded. “Sure.”
She stepped past him and began walking, Harry falling into step next to her and silently observing their surroundings. Something told her he was more familiar with Hogwarts than he was letting on, but he seemed content to follow her lead. She veered off the path and headed down the grassy slope towards the lake.
“I couldn’t help noticing you were visiting Hagrid,” Ginny mentioned. “Have you been here before?”
"Only a few times, and usually during the holidays when there weren't any students present," Harry answered, with some amount of melancholy tinging his words. “Hagrid is an old friend.”
“He’s a good man,” she remarked, “with a gentle soul.”
“A gentle giant,” her companion chuckled, “with an affinity for dangerous animals.”
“Oh, you’ve experienced those, too?” Ginny asked. “I took his Care of Magical Creatures class through N.E.W.T.s. I must be a glutton for punishment. I can’t tell you the number of times I went to see Madam Pomfrey because of burnt hands and singed eyebrows.”
“He does seem to favour the fire breathing monsters, doesn’t he?” Harry asked. “He brought a baby Chimera over for Christmas one year. I think he thought I’d like to see one, which I did, until it burned the drapes as well as the Christmas tree in the sitting room. My godfather was none too pleased.”
“I can only imagine,” Ginny commented.
Harry nodded, but said nothing more on the subject, his eyes suddenly guarded.
"Your robes look more like what I had in mind when we met the other day," he casually observed, effectively changing the subject. Ginny smoothed the flowing light cream wool robes with the red piping she was wearing. She glanced over at him and saw the half smile again.
"And you, Harry," she said, playing along. "You look like a proper Auror, with the exception of your trainers. Head Auror Robards doesn’t take issue with those?”
“They’re comfortable,” he off-handily commented, not answering her question, which led Ginny to deduce that Robards probably did have a problem with Harry’s choice of footwear.
They reached the lake and stood side-by-side watching the small waves slide over the rocks and stones on the shore. The mountains on the other side were shrouded in a grey mist and it was definitely cooler by the water than further up the hill by the castle. Ginny crossed her arms in front of her, rubbing them with her hands. Harry’s wand appeared in his hand and with a small flick a Warming Charm settled around them. She smiled gratefully over at him, somewhat surprised by the thoughtfulness of the action.
“Did you cast the shield the other night?” she asked, referring to the shield that had kept the rain off her when she had fainted after the vision.
“Yes,” he answered simply and looked over at her with curious green eyes. “How long have you had your gift?”
“I was born with it, I suppose,” she replied, tearing her eyes away from the intensity of his gaze to stare out over the lake. “I could always sense other people’s emotions, but I didn’t start having visions until I was thirteen.”
“Are your visions always about death?” Harry asked.
“Not always,” Ginny said. “I can see any life-changing moments if I try hard enough. I saw my best friend, Neville marrying his sweetheart, but that’s only because he asked me if I saw a future for the two of them. Not that I told him what the vision entailed, but only that I thought she was worth pursuing.”
“How does it work?” Harry asked. “Can you see anyone’s future and past or is it random?”
“Most of the time visions will come to me unbidden, like with Daphne,” Ginny explained, “but I certainly don’t go around trying to read everyone I encounter on a whim. That would be exhausting, not to mention an invasion of their privacy. I spent many years studying so I could shut visions and emotions from people I encountered out, because it was becoming difficult for me to function normally.”
“That must have been tough,” Harry commented.
“It was, but fortunately, I had three older brothers who understood what I was going through and they looked out for me when other students made fun of me,” Ginny said, wincing at the memories of being teased incessantly for fainting in the Great Hall or having visions that caused her to look as if she was having some sort of seizure. If it hadn’t been for Fred, George, and Ron, she doubted she would have survived the ridicule.
“Once they realized you had a gift, did other students ask you to tell them their future?” Harry asked.
“They did,” she confessed, “but since I was just learning to hone my craft, I wasn’t very effective. Not to mention that Professor Dumbledore and my mentor, Firenze, told me I shouldn’t tell specific futures because it was dangerous to try to change things that were destined to happen.
“Not that I didn’t try in some instances, like when I foresaw death. I did try.”
She paused and stared out over the water. Harry’s had been the first, but not the only death she had seen. Even before Fred’s she had seen the death of another Hogwarts student, the Triwizard champion, Cedric Diggory.
“In my third year, not long after my gift fully manifested itself, I envisioned the death of a seventh year student. In my vision, he and his girlfriend had a row and she ran off into the Forbidden Forest. He chased after her, and found her lost, deep in the woods. As they were making their way back, they were set upon by gigantic Acromantulas, and the boy stayed behind to fight them off to give his girlfriend a chance to escape. He was never seen from again.
“I warned him of what I had seen, and he wisely heeded my words, informing his girlfriend of my vision and asking her not to run away into the forest. Fortunately, she listened to him.”
“So he survived?” Harry asked.
Ginny sighed. “I wish. After leaving Hogwarts and visiting Romania with his parents, he contracted a fatal strain of Dragon Pox and died anyway.”
“Wait a minute,” Harry said, “Are you referring to the Cedric Diggory, the Triwizard champion?”
“Yes,” Ginny confirmed. “I suppose you read about it in the Prophet?”
He nodded absent-mindedly and she continued. “His girlfriend blamed me for a long time, asking me why I hadn’t seen his death regardless. I didn’t have an answer for her, and that was when I began to realize that foreseeing the future may not be so much a gift, but a curse.”
“You can’t change it?” Harry asked. “Not even when you warn the person?”
“No,” Ginny answered, her throat constricting, thinking of the numerous different deaths she had foreseen for Fred. “I didn’t know for certain until I saw my brother, Fred’s death.”
“Ron has mentioned him,” Harry said. “He died during the war, didn’t he?”
Ginny nodded. “When I had my first vision of his death, I begged him not to fight, and he agreed. But then I saw him die another way; a senseless death. No matter what I did to stop it, I kept seeing him die one way or the other.”
“I’m sorry, Ginny,” Harry said sympathetically. “That must have been difficult.”
“It was excruciating,” she admitted. “Finally, I had to accept that he was going to die. I suppose in some ways it was better. Fred was able to tie up loose ends and make sure his twin, George, and all of us were going to be all right. In the end he was at peace and he died a hero instead of senselessly.”
“I think it’s easier for the person that dies than the ones they leave behind,” Harry commented. “They’re moving on to a better place, leaving the rest of us behind to struggle along as best we can.”
“It was a struggle at first, yes,” she said. “But my family persevered, and while I still miss Fred immensely, I can remember him and talk about him without breaking down. For a while, none of us could.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry said again, and he looked contritely over at her. “I don't have a very optimistic outlook on things. It’s good that you do.”
“There’s a reason for everything, Harry,” Ginny observed. “Even of it’s hard to always see what that may be.”
“I suppose,” he said, turning from the lake to walk along the shore towards the Forbidden Forest, and Ginny followed him. With the sun reflecting off the green of the trees, it didn’t look quite so forbidding at the moment. She didn’t tell Harry that she had seen his death, and she still couldn’t understand how he was standing before her, very much alive and well, or the reason for its recurrence in her dreams. It had been several years since the end of the war, and for all intents and purposes, Harry should have been visited by death again by now. She tried to read him as he walked beside her, but he was still a blank slate; she saw and felt nothing, not even the consternation he was feeling so evident on his face, as he mulled over everything she had just revealed. She should have felt that and more. While disconcerting, it was also refreshing. For once in her life, she didn’t have to struggle to close off her extra sensory perception.
“So, you foresaw Daphne’s death after the fact,” Harry finally said, as they walked up the hill that would take them behind Hagrid’s hut and along the perimeter of the forest.
“Yes,” Ginny confirmed. “I can see past events as well. Those almost always come in the form of a dream. Very rarely do I have a vision that hits me unaware while I am in the middle of something else. I can usually tell if something is weighing upon me and I have time to find a space to meditate and allow the images to flow through me. Firenze was a very good instructor.”
“Is anyone ever around to record your visions?” Harry asked.
“I don’t need them to be,” she answered. “I can always remember them. Why do you ask?”
“I knew a supposed seer once, who wasn’t very good,” he replied. “She had maybe two visions her entire life and both times she never remembered them and they were always spoken in riddle.”
Ginny grimaced. “She was simply a conduit. I suppose I am, too, but the difference is that I can control what I see and say.”
“I gathered that the other night,” Harry said. “At least you gave us specific details and not a load of mumbo-jumbo that could be interpreted a million different ways, but why bother helping us with your visions? We’ll catch the killer eventually. If people are meant to die, as you say, then that applies to his intended victims, as well.”
She looked over at him, shocked by the coldness of his statement. “Maybe those women were meant to die, but would you have them die in such a violent manner? Raped and stabbed to death while they begged for mercy and their lives?”
“Of course not!” he exclaimed, backpedalling when he realized what he had said and how it had sounded to her ears. “That’s not what I meant. I meant, why put yourself through the torture of getting into his head; seeing what he sees? I can catch him without you having to open yourself up to his sadistic mind."
“I can help you catch him quicker,” Ginny declared. “It’s worth the pain of a little headache."
“A little headache?” Harry asked incredulously. “You fainted at the last crime scene!”
“I can handle it, Harry,” Ginny reassured him, surprised by his apparent concern for her well-being. “I’ve been doing this for years. Do you have people asking you if you can do your job?"
"All the time," Harry replied, "but I've been doing it for years, too."
Ginny glanced over at him and saw the half smile again. The sun was setting behind the Forbidden Forest, casting long shadows around them, and coming to a stop, Ginny turned her back on the forest to gaze up at the castle windows, now ablaze with light. It was beautiful and she recalled Harry’s melancholy when she had asked him if he had ever been there before. She couldn’t help but wonder how things might have been different if Harry had attended Hogwarts as he should have. Maybe nothing would have changed or perhaps everything.
“Why didn’t you attend Hogwarts, Harry?” she asked, turning to look at him. “You would have been in Ron’s year, I imagine.”
Harry turned to gaze at the castle as well. His eyes roved over the tall turrets and the peaked rooftops. He looked over at Hagrid's hut, where the large man could be seen sitting on the uneven steps leading to his back door, mending a large net. He had built a small bonfire in his garden and it blazed brightly, sending smoke drifting up towards the sky. Spotting Ginny and Harry looking his way, he waved jovially before returning to his work.
“I was supposed to. Hagrid came and collected me," Harry quietly answered, nodding towards the groundskeeper. "We had gone shopping at Diagon Alley, collected everything I would need. Hagrid even bought me an owl.” The corner of his mouth lifted at what must be a fond memory. “She was a beautiful snowy white and I named her Hedwig.”
“What happened?” Ginny asked, surprised to hear that he had indeed been slated to attend Hogwarts. She had assumed Dumbledore had always planned on keeping Harry hidden away from the Wizarding world.
“Hagrid took me to lunch at the Leaky Cauldron,” Harry said. “There were a lot of witches and wizards there, and they were all really excited to meet me.”
“I imagine so,” Ginny remarked.
“One in particular, Professor Quirrell had been very interested,” Harry continued. “Until I met Hagrid I didn’t know anything about the Wizarding world or that I was famous. I didn’t know yet that I needed to be careful. He asked me where I had been, and I told him about Dudley, and my aunt and uncle.”
“You lived with Muggles?” Ginny queried.
Harry nodded. “My mum’s sister. She hated me.”
“But you were her sister’s son!” Ginny objected and Harry snorted.
“She hated my mum, as well,” he replied. “When I came home with a trunk full of magic books, robes, and a wand, my uncle nearly exploded. He locked it all up in a cupboard.”
“Did your aunt and uncle keep you from attending?” Ginny asked, although she didn’t see how that would have been possible, seeing as they were Muggles. If they had tried to prevent Harry from going to Hogwarts, surely Professor Dumbledore would have dispatched Hagrid to collect him again.
“No,” Harry said. “Professor Dumbledore made that decision after Professor Quirrell kidnapped me and my relatives.”
“Why did Professor Quirrell kidnap you?” Ginny asked.
“He was possessed by Voldemort,” he answered matter-of-factly and then smiled the half smile again. “He blubbered ‘Voldemort made me do it' every time he tortured me.”
“That’s not funny, Harry,” Ginny said, shuddering at the thought of an eleven-year-old boy being tortured by a full-grown wizard.
“Who’s laughing?” he harshly said. “He killed my aunt and uncle before my eyes trying to get me to talk. Not that I cared much for them, but still, like you said earlier, they didn’t deserve to die like that.”
“What did he want you to tell him?” Ginny asked.
“How I had defeated Voldemort the first time,” Harry said bitterly. “How the hell should I have known then how I did it? I was only a baby at the time, and only eleven when the bloody monster decided to try again. Good thing I managed to kill Quirrell somehow, or I’d probably not be standing here having this chat with you now.”
Startled by this confession, Ginny looked over at him to see the same stunned expression in his eyes. “Harry,” she said. “That’s horrible. I had no idea. I am so sorry.”
“I don’t... I don’t know why I just told you that,” he dully muttered. “I’ve never told anyone about killing Quirrell. I hadn’t planned on sharing that with anyone... ever.”
“It’s all right,” she assured him, but he would not be appeased.
"How'd you get me to confess?" he angrily asked, overcoming his momentary shock to glare at her with accusing eyes.
"I didn't," Ginny exclaimed. "That's not how my gift works. I can't make people tell me things, I can only see them."
“I have to go,” he said, backing away.
“Harry,” Ginny whispered, stepping towards him, “I swear, I didn't do anything. Please, don't go," but he was already moving quickly away from her, and she stood helplessly rooted to the spot as he hurried back down the path that led to the gates. He disappeared over the hill, and sighing, Ginny began to resume her trek back to the castle.
She feared she and Harry would never be able to come to terms with her gift. It seemed to offend him in ways she couldn’t understand and had no control over. After revealing how intimately she could see into other people’s lives, she supposed she could understand why he may assume she had somehow subliminally coerced him into revealing what was obviously a painful secret. She did not have a clear explanation as to why he had opened up to her, but a small part of her couldn’t help thinking, that despite what he said or how he acted, he was comfortable with her on a level perhaps he was unaware of.
“Hello there, Ginny,” Hagrid’s voice called to her as she passed his hut.
Stopping, she looked over towards the groundskeeper, who, while smiling in greeting at her, had a worried look in his eyes. He knew Harry quite well, she surmised and his concern for the troubled man was evident to her visually and clairvoyantly.
“Hello, Hagrid,” Ginny replied, heading towards him instead of the castle.
“Would ya like a spot of tea?” he asked, indicating the large kettle hanging from a hook over the fire.
“That would be lovely, thank you,” Ginny said, settling on a log opposite Hagrid and holding her hands out to warm by the flames licking the underside of the kettle.
Hagrid nodded, lifting the kettle from its hook and pulling a heavy mug from within his coat pocket. He poured her a generous amount, and handed the cup over to Picking up a long stick, he poked at the logs causing them to flare higher before leaning back on the steps. “Been talkin’ to Harry, I see. He told me ya were helpin’ him and Ron with a case.”
“Yes,” she nodded, cupping her hands around he mug and taking a small sip, still bemused by Harry’s confession and his resulting unease.
“Everythin’ all right?” Hagrid asked in concern.
“I’m not sure,” she admitted. “I suppose you saw him run off.”
“Yeah,” he said. “He does that, when things get too uncomfortable. Defense mechanism, I think. Ya get too close?”
“He told me about Quirrell,” Ginny said, studying the half-giant. She was not disappointed when his bushy eyebrows rose in surprise.
“Did he?” Hagrid asked. “What did he tell ya?”
“That Quirrell kidnapped him and killed his aunt and uncle,” sheanswered.
“That he did,” he confirmed. “It was awful and Professor Dumbledore was beside himself with worry. He thought Harry would be safe at his aunt and uncle’s house, and he should have been. But they were an awful sort of Muggle.”
“Harry alluded to that fact,” Ginny said, remembering the little bit he had told her about his aunt and uncle.
“They didn’t like that he was a wizard,” Hagrid continued, “And when Harry returned from Diagon Alley they punished him. Sent him out of the house everyday ta fend for himself.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“His cousin, Dudley had a little gang back then and they bullied Harry,” Hagrid said, his disdain for Harry’s relatives clear from his tone of voice. “Harry’s aunt and uncle locked him out of the house from sun-up to sun-down every day after he found out he was wizard. I think they were scared of him. So, ta avoid Dudley’s gang, Harry took ta staying in a park. That’s where Quirrell found him.”
“Harry told me he killed Quirrell,” Ginny stated. “Is that true?”
Hagrid sighed and stared into the flames. “He didn’t do it intentionally! He was just a boy, and he didn’t know.”
“It’s all right, Hagrid,” she assured the half-giant whose eyes had become watery with the memory. A gentle giant, Harry had called him, and he was right.
“Harry didn’t kill Quirrell,” Hagrid said, sniffing, “It was his mum, but no matter what Professor Dumbledore told him, Harry always felt guilty about it. Still does. Guilty about killin’ a man that had tried ta kill him and nearly succeeded!”
“What happened?” Ginny asked, confused as to how Harry’s long dead mother could have killed Quirrell.
“Harry’s mum gave him a very special and strong protection when she died tryin’ ta save him,” Hagrid explained. “It’s why Voldemort couldn't kill him the first time. When Quirrell tried ta kill him, Harry grabbed him and burned him.”
“How?” she pressed.
“Since Quirrell was possessed by Voldemort, he couldn’t stand ta be touched by Harry,” Hagrid explained. “He burned alive, I think. It traumatized Harry.”
“How did you find him?” Ginny asked.
“Hedwig,” Hagrid said proudly, “After Quirrell took Harry’s aunt, uncle, and cousin, she broke out of her cage and tracked Professor Dumbledore down. He was a bright wizard, you know. He figured out where Quirrell was and we rescued them.”
He stopped short of telling Ginny what they had found, but he didn’t have to, since she could see it plain in his mind. Quirrel was gone, and Harry was lying in a pile of ash, the scar on his forehead a vivid red and seeping blood, and his own hands and arms oozing and blackened with third degree burns. A portly, blond boy who must have been Dudley was sitting in the corner of the room rocking back and forth.
“With Harry’s aunt and uncle dead, he wasn’t protected anymore,” Hagrid explained. “Professor Dumbledore didn’t have any choice, he had ta hide Harry. He knew Voldemort would try again, and next time he might succeed if Harry wasn’t prepared ta face him.”
Hagrid looked over at her. “Harry’s never confessed ta anyone about what happened with Quirrell. He told me ya can’t read him. Is that true, Ginny?”
Ginny nodded. “He accused me of making him reveal his secret.” She looked over at the large man. “Why doesn’t he like seers, Hagrid?”
“He thinks a seer cursed him before he was born,” he replied, “and that’s all I’m goin’ ta tell ya. It’s up ta Harry to tell ya why he thinks that. I’ve said more than I should have as it is.”
They fell into silence, Ginny’s head swimming with everything Harry and Hagrid had revealed. It explained how Harry had survived when he had been younger, but what she had learned still didn’t clarify why Harry was alive today. She could only hope she would have another opportunity to get to know him better and he wouldn’t run off again at the first instance of opening up to her.