Magic and Mayhem
all nodded and murmured in various signs of agreement. Ginny was
heartened by their reaction; she turned to Harry who smiled at her
encouragingly. She grinned back at him in return.
Each lighting their wands once more, the two of them showed the paper and the poem to everybody, and explained the situation of how they found the clues. Save the Marauders and Order of the Phoenix, of course.
First, they pondered the mirror-in-the-box clue. After removing all the documents, it appeared nothing was left but an ordinary box. The group was starting to feel stumped before they even started.
Then Dean suggested offhandedly, "Has anyone tried 'open sesame'?"
Everybody glared at him silently with looks ranging from open disbelief to outright disgust.
"What?" he asked, now slightly defensive. "It's what my little brother says when he's trying to copy me doing magic," he shrugged. "Sometimes you gotta call a Squib a 'Squib'."
Shaking her head while sighing in staccato, Ginny replied, "All right, chums—" nodding at Seamus and Justin, who were each holding a box half— "give it a go."
All of them stood back to give the two boys a bit more room.
"Open sesame!" Seamus and Justin cried together, aiming their wands.
Seamus peered into his half and shouted, "Blimey, look at this! It worked, Dean!"
Everyone took turns looking at Seamus's box half and saw that a tiny brass knob had appeared on the inside.
Looking up at everyone and smiling, Luna reached in and drew the knob upwards; it worked as a sliding jewelry box. And underneath it was Harry's small mirror from Sirius.
Ginny and Harry looked at each other and she mumbled guiltily, "I guess we're lucky we didn't have you practise your 'spectral manipulation' on that half—that's the bottom of the box," she gave him a wide-eyed look which he returned. Woah, almost undone by our own negligence, he thought in disbelief, if that mirror got broken...
Handing the documents in her hands to Susan, Ginny retrieved the mirror. Everyone watched her, murmuring excitedly.
Turning to Harry, Ginny said, "This is yours, then. What does it do?"
"It was a gift from Sirius," Harry replied, stepping forward, "and it allows the possessor to speak to anyone they wish—just look in and call out their name—provided both persons are living, of course," he added quietly.
He remembered how he tried to reach Sirius with that mirror. Harry also noticed the surface now reflected nothing back to him but Ginny's face.
She glanced at him in a worried fashion. "But the poem says to call your name into it," she reminded.
"Yes, and I don't know how it could possibly work—" he started to reply.
Then Susan joined in, "Well, if you think about it, the poem indicates he's dead, near-death, and alive—all at the same time."
They all watched her, captivated. Susan excitedly went on, "It's referring to all three tenses. Past—Harry's alive; present—only near-death, and future—certain death," she finished matter-of-factly, looking a bit self-conscious.
Composing himself as the others contemplated Susan, Harry lifted his eyebrows at her and said, "More tutelage from your 'auntie', I presume?" he asked, smiling.
She grinned, blushed, and nodded to him at the same time.
"So, you think it'll work?" piped up Neville.
"Only one way to find out," Ginny replied, peering into the mirror again.
"Harry Potter!" her voice rang out.
The surface of the small looking glass began to boil and get cloudy as a hot spring, but nothing clear appeared.
Glancing at the others nervously, Ginny repositioned her feet and called louder, "Harry James Potter!"
The nine of them watched as the small square divided its surface equally into four smaller squares. In the lower left corner appeared a picture of Harry in evergreen dress robes, reclining, eyes closed. It appeared like he was looking at his wake. There was no movement.
"That must be the future," Luna said, and everyone nodded in sober agreement.
In the upper left square was revealed a picture of how Harry looked now: flowing velvet robes, ghost-white visage, with a long black queue down his back. The image was blinking hopefully up at them all.
"And that must be him in the present," said Michael, and they agreed again.
Next, the top right square solidified itself into the most disturbing image yet. It was Harry again; only he was in a Muggle hospital bed, utterly still except for the steady rise and fall of his chest. What was most alarming were all the machines this mirror-image appeared to have that were hooked up and monitoring him. Keeping him alive, if barely.
Everyone had become completely silent and still again. They tried unsuccessfully, to ignore the present Harry's sigh of despair.
"So that's the past," he said in despondence, "where I'm supposedly alive?" He shrank back. "That hardly looks like a life to me." He knew everybody else would be hard-pressed to disagree. The third image of Harry had skin that was so pale, he looked almost translucent and rivalled the colour of the starch-white bedsheets behind him.
They all began to exchange looks with one another at Harry's words. But Ginny was not to be deterred. "Harry, look. I know that it looks bad—and believe me—what put you there killed you once, but may the Death Eaters take me away if I let you go off again. Just know that we're here for you now—" she looked around and included them all in with a sweeping gesture and they nodded, "—and we'll be there for you again, in the past. Of all the things we're changing tonight, that will never be one of them, okay?"
"After all," Neville spoke up, "we already know what it's like to not have you around." He looked down and self-consciously kicked a toe against the ground, and murmured, "And I, for one, would rather deal with any kind of a living Harry than not."
"Yeah," added Seamus, coming up behind Neville and slapping a hand on his back, "I mean, how can we have the D.A. without a teacher?" He half-smiled around at them all. "I can honestly say that you've taught me near everything I know on that subject, mate," he finished, and grinned at Harry.
Michael now stepped in and said, "Not to mention Gryffindor's Quidditch team would be more than abysmal without you. Alicia and the twins went, and now Harry.… They just may as well hand the Snitch over and forfeit every match."
They all give a nervous yet relieved twitter of laughter as Harry smiled a bit and began to feel assured by his friends' words of comfort again. The loyalty and camaraderie they were showing him, and each other, was nothing short of astounding. Not that Harry had ever thought them incapable of it…he'd just…never thought they'd be doing this for him. What was better was he found himself trusting them implicitly. Not only did they mean everything they were saying, but they were all willing to back it up as well. As, indeed, three of those present had done already.
Instinctively, Harry found himself seeking out the faces of those who had flatly refused to let him go to the Department of Mysteries alone that night Sirius died. Had it really been only less than a month ago? Neville, Ginny, Luna, and Harry currently shared a particular bond the others had not yet been able to. He again found himself wondering why he'd never bothered noticing their strength before. And again, his inner qualms that bubbled up were abated. We really can do this. Together.
Harry looked back at the mirror in Ginny's hands and noticed the fourth and final square in the bottom right had been filled with an image as well. He pointed toward it to show the others. "Hey, that's what my wand looked like before…well, before…." he faded away, as they all gave various signs of comprehension.
Dean said, "Yes, we'd heard you'd had to do a few 'modifications' to it." His smiled and continued, "Using your glasses to hold the broken wand pieces together…sheer brilliance." The rest of them answered in kind as Harry shyly looked down and tried not to smile back at them. Yes, it had rather been more than just luck that he had managed to summon the Knight Bus with…
"What do you suppose it means?" spoke up Susan, "The other images are obviously tenses, but this piece of the puzzle doesn't seem to fit."
Everybody made various noises of disgruntled agreement, but at least it was more out of annoyance than hopelessness.
"Harry, maybe we're supposed to find your wand. Remember how I told you it went missing? Well, it still hasn't been found. Perhaps that's the key to this whole thing." Ginny said this urgently, and it caught Harry's attention.
Then Justin stepped forward a bit self-consciously. "The poem said something about 'what is seen leaves you mystified, remember to cipher the wrapper inside.' Well," he went on, holding up an empty sweets wrapper, "here it is, then."
"Hey, where'd you find that?" questioned Michael loudly.
Justin looked sheepish and replied, "In the other box half I had." His cheeks coloured just slightly, "But I thought somebody had just left their rubbish in it."
Instead of being annoyed, they all sniggered with Justin's mistaken assessment of the situation.
"I wonder what it means, though?" threw in Luna.
It was a bit galling to have her say that question aloud. It was usually Luna who seemed to know the answers to everything, even if the answers were a tad on the mental side sometimes. Everybody had come to see Justin was holding a wrapper which had once contained a piece of Drooble's Best Blowing Gum.
"No," Neville said, with completely uncharacteristic vehemence, "I know what this means! I know! It…I just…"
Ginny and Harry looked at each other, embarrassed for Neville. They alone knew why he was making such a deal out of the gum wrapper. Longbottom's mother, who was a terminal mental patient at St. Mungo's, had apparently given Neville these wrappers regularly for several years. The others seemed to pick up on Harry's and Ginny's feelings of self-consciousness for Neville's outburst, and promptly filed suit.
"Don't look at me that way!" Neville spoke up to the rest of them, exasperation tingeing his voice, "I know what I'm talking about, and I just can't think how to show you."
Suddenly, Harry was struck with a sinister inspiration, as he was studying his black wand after pretending to have ignored Neville. He spun about and stepped off to one side, so he would have plenty of room for this.
Wondering if Ginny would even remotely recognise what he was doing, he wrote out the words "Drooble's Best Blowing Gum" midair in front of them all, in flaming green foot-high letters. Feeling like he was personally violating all present with his actions, he flashed a last fiery glance back at them and swished the wand through the centre of the lettering, exactly as he'd watched the memory of Tom Riddle do, just over four years previous in the Chamber of Secrets.
Everyone shared a long, drawn-out inhalation of air, as they watched the letters rearrange themselves into the words, "Gold Bribe Below St. Mungo's." Turning back around slowly, Harry looked up meaningfully at them all and said, "Neville was right. Looks like we need to take a little detour to hospital," he said, attempting to lighten the sombre mood which had draped itself over them all.
Then he walked straight up to Neville and apologised, "Sorry to have doubted you, mate," and finished with what he'd hoped was an encouraging smile.
While what Harry had just done with the black wand had been necessary, it was also a bit unnerving; copying the exact actions of someone he had reason to hate, loathe, and despise above all others.
Neville, shocked to silence at having finally been not only believed, but asked for forgiveness, simply nodded wonderingly at him.
"Enough for wasting time," Ginny came forward, taking charge again, "we need to get some people for this thing too.… Does anybody know how to get to the Leaky Cauldron, or Diagon Alley from here? At least we can find my family and Hermione—" everybody winced "—and explain what's going on, and where we will have gone."
The poem never specifically said they'd had to go anywhere, so this was disconcerting. Justin and Seamus each stepped forward as Justin said, "we each have Muggle parents, and know our way around Muggle and wizard London quite well. In fact, we were just going to pay fare for a regular bus with Muggle money, and meet back at the Leaky Cauldron after we got done here. We can do that now." Michael spoke up and volunteered to go with them as well.
Ginny nodded and said, "Okay, and once you convince them, they can find others too, and do so much faster because they can Apparate! Go!"
The three boys nodded and spun around, sprinting through the graveyard and dodging tombstones as they went.
Harry looked at Ginny in utter confusion and said, "Whilst I really don't have a penchant for travelling the Knight Bus—" he closed his eyes at the irony that his last memories of being alive were on that lurid, manky, old bus, "—why can't they just summon it here?"
Susan answered this time, as Ginny appeared to have clammed up and was incapable of doing so.
"Well, the Knight Bus was grounded by the Ministry, after having involved themselves in the debacle that was your car crash," she explained reluctantly, a pained expression on her face.
"Was there anybody in this whole bloody world who wasn't punished for helping me?" Harry demanded in a fit of pique to anyone who would listen.
Dean replied, "Harry, they didn't get punished for helping you. They got made into examples by the Ministry, because they are two of your strongest supporters." Gawping at Dean, Harry tried to picture in his mind, Ernie and Shunpike as being even remotely supportive of him. "They essentially got punished for not having denounced you publicly in court. They were interrogated too, you know," Dean explained meaningfully.
Whoa. Apparently it pays to be nice to people, even after they've been complete dung-for-brains berks to you. Pizza-faced Stan and goggles-for-glasses Ernie. Just imagine.
"So does anyone know where St. Mungo's is from here?" spoke up Ginny, taking control of the situation as usual.
They all looked around at one another and came to the realisation that the only people who knew their way fully around both versions of London had already left them all behind. Dean wasn't any better-versed about wizard locations than Harry, as he too had been raised during his primary years as a Muggle.
Neville said, "I know it's not too awfully far from here, we could walk probably…but I always get turned around," he said forlornly. "It's the buildings!" he finished with a helpless gesture.
Ostensibly defeated once again, and by simple negligence, Harry heard something make a seemingly indignant froofing noise behind him.
Comprehension dawned, and he was again wholly inspired—but by a decidedly lighter source this time. He turned toward Neville and said with utmost assurety, "It's all right," he licked his lips anticipantly, "I don't know the way either, but I know someone here who does."
Neville looked over at him, face awash with hope and misery. Clearly he didn't quite believe what he was hearing.
Eyes bright and with the barest hint of smile, Harry turned around, looked up at the maker of the froof-noise and inquired, "So how about it, old girl? Would you care to show us the way?"
Hedwig looked down at him regally, from her perch on the top of the headstone. Apparently quite pleased that he had finally "got it", she twinkled her wizened eyes and preened a bit more out of typically characteristic spite. Harry shook his head at her and grinned. Trust Hedwig to teach you a lesson in patience, even if you're dead. "Now, if you please?"
Swiftly, Hedwig winked, called out to them all, and soared above their heads in a breathtaking flash of white and wing.