Warnings: Unabashed crack!fic, unapologetic time travel, drunken Goblins and the obligatory Sirius/serious joke
Author’s Notes: The inspiration for Lily and Ginny meeting in this rabid plotbunny came from plaidphoenix’s own story A Stitch In Time(the fic is incomplete at that link).
Beta: The ever-patient Sherylyn, who wrangles commas and capitalization with the best.
The day started out normally enough. It was December 29th, that calm time when the Christmas celebrations have mostly wrapped up and the New Year’s parties have yet to begin. The prevailing gloom and depression of the War had somewhat abated in the face of concerted holiday cheer, and I was feeling decidedly claustrophobic.
I stood from the chair in the den where I had been curled up for the past hour, re-reading the same two paragraphs over and over again. “That’s it,” I announced. “I need to get out of here.”
James, my ever-loving husband, merely grunted. He probably didn’t hear me at all. He may accuse me of being a bookworm, but when he gets buried in his comic books, the house could probably collapse around him before he noticed.
“I’m going to Diagon Alley. Do you want me to pick up anything?”
“That’s nice, dear.”
“I’ll take the box back to the vault.”
“I love you, too.”
I tried one last time. “I’m running off with Remus and we’re going to make a whole litter of red-headed were-cubs.”
“Have fun.” There was a pause. “Wait, what?”
I smirked at the adorably baffled face that peered over the top of the comic book. “Now that I have your attention: I’m going to take the box back to Gringotts; do you need me to pick up anything while I’m out?”
“No, I don’t think so.” He hesitated. “Are you sure that’s a good idea, Lil?”
I rolled my eyes at him. Honestly, I love James to death, but he can be so over-protective sometimes. “I’m sure I’ll be fine. It’s the middle of the day and I’m just going to Gringotts. Besides, even Death Eaters take a holiday.”
“If you’re sure,” he replied skeptically. But you’ll note he wasn’t so concerned as to drag himself away from his comic books and offer to come with me.
I changed into decent robes — I still prefer my trousers and jumpers around the house, but goblins appreciate a bit of formality — and snagged the box from my dresser. Grabbing a cloak from the closet, I stepped into the antechamber and Apparated. “The box” in question was a jewelry box containing a sapphire pendant the size of an egg, and matching earrings. They had been given to Great-great-great-Grandma Potter by some Indian mogul “for services rendered” (I’d never had the nerve to ask for more details than that) and generally resided, with a small fortune of other jewelry, in the Potter family vault. However, James had insisted that I wear them to the Ministry’s Boxing Day Ball. While he had long since grown out of his “I’m a rich pureblood and you’re not” phase, James definitely understood that a tasteful display of wealth was useful upon occasion. Particularly when dealing with the Ministry. Besides, I enjoyed playing dress-up sometimes.
At the bank, I requested to be taken down to the vault and was treated to a hair-raising ride. I didn’t complain, though. Unlike many people in the Wizarding world, I don’t mind dealing with goblins. I find their lack of sexism a refreshing change from both the Wizard and Muggle worlds. I am a true bra-burning child of the ‘60s and the Victorian-era attitudes of most wizards tend to grate on me. Goblins, on the other hand, make no distinction between the sexes, except when a hvarla’r (female) is nearing her birthing time. Then she is put on administrative desk duty, usually after much protest, and given —
Ahem. Sorry about that. You really shouldn’t let me wander off like that; I can go on about goblin society for hours. I have been fascinated with them since my first trip to the bank, mere hours after I had been introduced to the Wizarding world. I suppose that is one reason I chose to work for the Gringotts curse-breaking division after Hogwarts.
At any rate, it was a perfectly normal December day until Griphook (the Potter family liaison) and I stepped off the cart and into the corridor containing the Potter family vaults. That was when things started to go pear-shaped.
To understand what happened next (and believe me, it will be hard enough as is), there are a few points that need to be clarified.
First, there are two ways in (or out) of every goblin vault. The track entrances, the ones that most wizards see, are the ones with the fancy vault doors, the dragons and the complicated-sounding entrance procedures. These are mostly for show. The real entrances to the vaults are around back, with normal doors that are keyed in to specific Gringotts’ employees when access is needed. Oh, the curses on the track entrances and the dragons are real enough, and certainly help to deter thieves. But, really, who would want to go through that rigmarole every time we needed to do an inventory of a vault? Goblins are nothing if not practical and efficient — yet another reason I often prefer working with them over other wizards.
Second, as a Gringotts employee, I always used the back door when going to our vault. The back door to the Potter vaults lies just off the intersection of two corridors, connecting the Accountant’s section on the A4 level with the Experimental Labs on C12. It is also the quickest way to get from either of those places to the employee lounge. Trust me, this will be important.
Lastly, while goblins use the same basic calendar as humans, their holidays are slightly different. In point of fact, December 29th is one of their biggest festivals, commemorating their victory over a cartel of trolls some 500 years ago. Gringotts always throws a party for their goblin employees, and, as with most goblin festivities, it involves a lot of drinking.
Anyone who is feeling a prickle of foreboding... well, I hear there’s a position available at Hogwarts for a Divination teacher.
Griphook and I were about to round the corner to the Potter vault door when we met — head on — a group of three goblins, obviously on their way back from the Sfarkil Day celebration in the staff lounge. They were each carrying a mostly-empty bottle of Ouzo (I only recognized it because Sirius had fallen in love with the stuff on his last trip to Greece, and brought some over for us to try), and it was clear they had each consumed their fair share. Here’s another interesting fact about goblins: they have a much faster metabolism than humans. When they drink, they get plastered. Fast.
Unfortunately, as we were about to step out of the way and let the stumbling trio past, a human and a goblin came up from the direction of the Labs, moving at a rapid rate and each carrying something.
I suppose a collision was inevitable, and the next thing I knew, the seven of us were extracting ourselves from a pile of arms and legs. There was a lot of swearing, mostly in Gobbledegook, which is a rather satisfactory language to swear in. As we were righting ourselves — some with more success than others — I heard a wet-sounding splash. One of the bottles of Ouzo and the vial one of the curse-breakers had been carrying — containing pixie wings, I was later told — had both smashed and were now forming a sticky-looking puddle around a Goblin Warding Stone, which the other curse-breaker must have been carrying. I wouldn’t swear to it later, but I think the puddle was glowing faintly. One of the drunken Goblins pulled out his focus ring (Goblins use metal focus rings for their magic rather than wooden wands. It has something to do with the goblin affinity for — never mind. That’s a story for another time.) and began chanting the goblin equivalent of Scourgify. The other curse-breakers and I all paled and started to shout, “No!”, in various languages, but by then it was too late.
The next thing I knew, there was a blinding flash of light and I felt myself being thrown through the air. I put my hands protectively over my abdomen — only James knew I was two months pregnant — and tried to roll with the blow. Then it was just dark.
I slowly came to my senses again and groaned. Everything ached. Carefully, cautiously, I opened my eyes and for a moment I thought I was in front of a giant mirror. The room itself was simple stone and I was sitting slumped against one wall. In front of me was my reflection — or so I thought until I took a second look. Frowning, I looked down at myself. No, I had definitely worn my green robes today, not the blue ones. Yet my blue robes were clearly shown in my reflection. Then the “image” stirred and I realized I was not looking at my reflection, but at another person. One who looked remarkably like me, but a different person nonetheless. At least I hoped she was. I really didn’t want to deal with clones or doppelgangers.
Careful of my pounding head, I eased myself into a standing position, with my back on the wall. Partially to prevent the other person from sharing the same confusion I had, and partially because she was an unknown quantity.
“Ugh,” she groaned. “Wha — what happened?” Her eyes flew open and she looked around wildly, although I could tell that she wasn’t really seeing anything. She patted herself frantically but then relaxed as she felt the inside of one of her wrists and withdrew a wand. Reminded, I cautiously felt for my own wrist holster and relaxed marginally when I discovered my wand still there.
“I can’t tell you what happened,” I said quietly. Her head whipped towards me and she winced. “But if you feel anything like I do, your head is probably killing you.” She started to nod and winced again.
Cautiously, I took a step forward. “I have some basic Healer training, I might be able to dull the pain a little, if you’ll let me,” I offered.
She eyed me warily through half-closed eyes and then apparently decided that the opportunity to think straight again outweighed the risk of having an unknown witch wave a wand at her. I knelt beside her and cast a Numbing Charm at her forehead and then repeated the process on myself.
“What is this,” she mumbled as I worked, “a trap for red-heads?”
I chuckled. “I thought I was looking into a mirror when I first woke up. I have that same set of robes in my wardrobe at home. I had to check to make sure I wasn’t wearing them! Where did you get yours, Madam Malkins?”
“No, I inher—” She cut herself off and looked me straight in the eyes. And gasped. Suddenly I was staring down the business end of her wand.
“Who are you?” she demanded. I felt my temper flare and trained my own wand on her.
“Excuse me? Who are you?”
“Answer me first,” she replied through gritted teeth. Now that we were both standing up, I got a better look at her. She was only an inch or two shorter than I was, and a little bit curvier, but she had the lean look of an athlete. Her face was rounder than mine, and her eyes, to my surprise, were a rich brown. Not a combination you usually find with red hair. Overall, though, I decided I could be forgiven for thinking I was looking in a mirror. We certainly could have passed for sisters.
“Lily Evans Potter, Charms Specialist for the Curse-Breaking Division of Gringotts,” I replied, giving my formal name and title. Magic is a tricky thing when it comes to names.
If anything, my answer caused her to pale even more.
“Prove it,” she demanded, and I was surprised to note that she was trying very hard to keep her wand hand from visibly shaking.
“What would constitute proof to you?” I asked, trying to remain calm.
She thought for a moment. “How does your sister prefer her tea?”
“Light cream and no sugar in the morning, heavy cream and as much sugar as she can stir in if it’s after supper,” I replied, completely puzzled. I couldn’t imagine why a witch would be asking about Petty’s tea preferences.
My answers must have met with her approval, for she relaxed visibly and lowered her wand slightly. “How is it possible?” she muttered to herself.
I, however, held my wand steady. “Your turn. Who are you?”
“Ginny Weasley,” she hesitated slightly, “Ginny Weasley Potter, starting Chaser for the Holyhead Harpies.”
“What?” I hissed. “Impossible. James is an only child.”
“I know,” she said placatingly. “What date is it?” she asked suddenly, as though she had just realized something.
“December 29th, 1979,” I replied quickly, thrown by her non sequitor.
“Bugger,” she swore. “Buggery buggery bugger.”
“We have a problem. You see, to me, it is December 29th, 2001. I’m married to your son, Harry.”
To my credit, I did not faint. I did, however, start swearing in four languages.
Ginny looked at me with amusement. “Impressive. I recognized some of that. Besides English, there was French, Gobbledegook and was that other one Gaelic?”
“Fairy, actually, but Gaelic is derived from it, so you were close. How did you know the other two?”
“Bill is — will be? was? bugger — a curse-breaker at Gringotts too, and his wife is French.”
“Bill Weasley, my oldest brother... although you wouldn’t know him yet, as to you, he’d only be nine years old. Merlin, this is weird. I’m sorry, Mrs. Potter —”
“Please, just call me Lily,” I said, sinking back down to the floor. “Otherwise I’d have to call you ‘Mrs. Potter’ also, which would be even weirder.” I leaned up against the wall again and sat with my legs out and my hand protectively over my abdomen. I could feel the baby — Harry — stirring slightly even then. He seemed to feed off my magic as much as anything. Ginny sat down also, and I took another good look at her.
“So you’re my daughter-in-law, huh? Weird to think that, no one besides James even knows I’m pregnant yet.” I smiled crookedly. “I guess Potters really do have a thing for red-heads, huh?”
She chuckled weakly. “I’m sorry, there are so many things I want to tell you, want to ask you about. But I’m not sure I should.” She bit her lower lip in thought. “I mean, I know the rules for time-turners, and how you have to be really careful not to let the wrong information slip. Think that applies here?”
“Probably,” I admitted, although there were many things I was dying to ask her too. Her initial reactions were ones I was all too familiar with — those of someone used to fighting for her life. And her reaction to me implied that she had never met me. I didn’t want to think about the possibilities that brought up.
“Where are we?” Ginny wondered aloud, looking around the room. “And when?” she added with a grimace.
“I don’t know the when, but I do know the where. This is a goblin containment chamber.”
“That’s not a good thing, right?”
“No, it most certainly is not. The goblins built these chambers for ‘containing, controlling and/or neutralizing unknown, volatile and dangerous objects, substances and beings.’”
“A direct quote, I take it?”
“Gringotts employee training manual. I’ve never worked in one, but from what I hear, they’re completely impervious to magical damage, and most physical damage as well. Supposedly, they were warded by Gringott himself and are tied into the very foundation of the bank. If an unexpected magical occurrence takes place, it is immediately contained and transported to one of these chambers.”
“Well, I think ‘unexpected magical occurrence’ about covers it. So, no way out then?” Ginny asked.
“Well...” I hesitated. “The goblins do perform a thorough cleaning of all the containment chambers once a year...”
“Please tell me they do it at a nice convenient time like New Year’s Day?”
I chuckled. “No such luck. Autumnal Equinox.” She winced.
“No thank you. I really don’t want to play midwife at the birth of my own husband.” We looked at each other and started laughing. The absurdity of the situation was starting to set in, and it was either laugh or cry. I’m glad she chose to laugh with me. I have limited patience for weepy females.
We fell silent for a few moments, contemplating our situation, and then Ginny spoke up again. “You know, we don’t even know when we are. Clearly something strange went on, or we wouldn’t both be sitting here. Why are we assuming we were transported forward or backwards in years only? I mean, it might be September 24, 1918, for all we know.”
“True.” I pulled out my wand again and flicked it in a circular pattern. “Tempus.”
Normally, when the Time Charm is cast, it locates your geo-spacial position and then calculates your local time based on that and a great deal of other factors that we like to call “magic.” Please note that I said “normally.” However, as the day was about as far removed from normal as Sirius was from his family, it didn’t work out that way.
Instead of the nicely formatted date and time that I expected to see, three reels of a fruit machine spun before my eyes. Each reel slowed and eventually stopped on a bing cherry.
“Jackpot,” Ginny commented dryly, looking over my shoulder. “Well, then. Either we’re due for a run of really good luck just about now...”
“…Or we’re in even more trouble than we thought,” I finished. I started pacing around the room. That’s one habit James hasn’t been able to break me of, although he claims it drives him batty.
“As I see it, we have two choices. Either we can sit here waiting and hope that someone comes along to let us out...”
“…Or we can attempt the impossible and try to break out of a goblin containment chamber.” I looked at the other red-head with a smirk, curious how she would take that statement. I was pretty sure I could come up with a way to get us out; I hadn’t been named Head Girl for my looks. But I was going to need some help.
“You know,” Ginny said slowly, “I grew up with six brothers. The twins, Fred and George, were always considered to be the spiritual successors to the Marauders.” There was a gleam in her eye that would not have looked out of place on James or Sirius. “And if I learned anything from them — well, aside from never to eat anything they gave you — was that nothing was impossible with enough nerve and creativity. Let’s do it!”
We shared a grin that would have sent the boys running for the hills and would have impressed the hell out of my goblin supervisors. It was a grin that promised mayhem, destruction and probably something undignified for those on the receiving end.
“So, I don’t suppose you have any parchment on you?” Ginny asked.
I smiled and waved my wand. “Why bother with parchment and quill and we can use the walls and floor,” I said, holding up a piece of chalk that I had just conjured. “Easier to make changes this way too.”
Three hours, and one wall’s worth of equations later, we slumped back down to the floor for a breather.
“We must be missing something,” Ginny growled in frustration.
“We’ll find it,” I said soothingly. While I was perfectly willing to sit down and work through the problem methodically, starting with what we knew for certain and progressing logically from there, Ginny was more like Sirius, making leaps of intuition and landing on the correct conclusion without the intervening steps to support it.
“I’m not even sure what we’re trying to do,” she grumbled. “The room is charmed so that nothing magical can affect it. It’s not like we can just make a door and open it.”
My jaw dropped and I stared at my once-and-future daughter-in-law in astonishment. Could it really be that easy?
“What? Have I got chalk on my nose or something?” she asked, looking at me oddly.
“Just make a door,” I muttered and did another set of equations on the floor by my side. “Just make it.”
I looked up and grinned. “How are your drawing skills?” I asked Ginny.
“Pretty decent, actually. I spent most of History of Magic sketching. You’re not suggesting...?”
I smirked and presented her the chalk with a flourish. “I most certainly am. C’mon, Rembrandt, give it a shot.”
“But, but,” she protested weakly, “that has to violate most of the known rules of magic. We can’t just draw a door, open it, and get out!”
I rolled my eyes. “Ginny, Ginny, Ginny. You’re forgetting the most basic rule of pranking.”
“Don’t get caught?”
“Well, okay, aside from that one. If you don’t like the rules, change them. This is magic, Gin. Nothing is impossible. You just have to get creative enough that the so-called rules fold back on themselves and allow you to do what you want while they’re trying to untie themselves.”
“You’re not serious!”
“You’re just now realizing that? Aside from having red hair and, you know, being female, I’m nowhere near as much of a pain in the arse as he is. Besides, he’d never look this good in these robes.” I ducked the hand that took a swipe at me.
Ginny scowled at me playfully, but then turned sober. “You really think we can draw our way out of here?”
“Why not?” I shrugged. “You said it yourself, the walls are impervious to whatever we might try to do to them. But I’m willing to bet that we can affect chalk on the walls, and through that, find a way out of here.”
She looked at me like I was crazy, but then sighed. “I don’t know why I’m trying to argue. I never win against Harry, either.” She squared her shoulders as if preparing for a herculean task. “So what am I drawing? A door? A portal?”
“A guardian painting.”
“Like the ones at Hogwarts?”
“Exactly. I happen to know the charms used to animate them and give them control over the common room entrance. Hopefully, we’ll be able to trick it into thinking there is actually an opening behind it, even though we’re not sure exactly where it is.”
“Okay then. Which wall?”
I shrugged and grinned at her confusion. “I don’t think it matters. Magic, remember? If we can force a portal out of here, we can tell it to go wherever we want, so it doesn’t matter where the real door is.”
Ginny shook her head in disbelief but picked up a piece of chalk and began sketching an outline on one of the unused walls.
“Who or what should I draw?” she asked a few minutes later. I looked up from the runes I was inscribing next to her and thought for a moment.
“Well, some of the magic for this is going to come from you, so it should probably be someone you know well. And someone who isn’t alive — to your perspective, anyway,” I added as an afterthought. “I’m still not sure when we are, so the rules are a little different. Normally you wouldn’t want to do this of a person who is alive. It gets. . . messy, otherwise.”
She nodded and looked thoughtful. Then she got a sad smile on her face. “I’m going to need some colors to do this properly.”
“Sure, let me know what you need,” I said and began conjuring some more chalk.
“You know,” I commented some time later, watching the indistinct forms come to life under her skilled hand, “if the whole Quidditch thing doesn’t work out, I’d say you definitely have a career as a screever.”
She shot me a grin and began to hum something that sounded suspiciously like “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee” under her breath. At least I think that’s what she meant it to be. A good artist she might be, but apparently Ginny lacked the ability to carry a tune. I only hoped that Harry had inherited my musical ability, and not James’s. James singing in the shower was enough to make Padfoot howl and hide under the bed. I laughed and continued to conjure chalk in all the hues I could come up with.
Eventually, Ginny dropped the piece of chalk she was holding and flexed her fingers. “That’s as good as I can make it,” she proclaimed and flopped to the floor next to me.
“Then that is good enough. I inscribed the runes around the picture, so all we need to do is activate them and cast two spells. One will bring the picture to life and the other will make it believe it is the guardian of a portal. Hopefully, between the image’s own magic and the runes I added, that will be enough to actually create said portal.”
“So who does the casting?” That was a good question.
“Normally, the artist does it all — that’s why I said to make it an image of someone you knew, it makes the magic easier. But I’m going to have to be the one to activate the runes.”
“I think we’re going to want as much magical power as we can muster for this,” Ginny pointed out tiredly. We were both beginning to feel the strain of being locked up in a supposedly impenetrable room. “So maybe we should cast them together?”
“Sounds like a plan to me. Now here’s the first spell we’re going to cast,” I began, and set about teaching my companion what we would need to do.
As with everything that happened that day, our plan did not go quite as expected.
We were able to cast the spells well enough. The first one caused the portrait Ginny had drawn to start moving groggily, as a sleeper awakening, and the second caused the entire drawing, frame and all, to glow briefly. I then tapped the activation rune, which triggered the others, and the whole setup flared brightly once and then settled down to a faint glow. The only thing we could do then was sit back and wait until the portrait was completely awake and activated.
Ginny had drawn a young man, perhaps eighteen or nineteen, with red hair, a smattering of freckles and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. She had not said who he was, but the family resemblance was obvious. He twisted and stretched in the frame and shook his head as if to clear the cobwebs out. Then he opened his mouth to speak.
I would say this was when things got really odd. However, having just spent the past five hours with the woman who was to become the wife of a child I had not yet borne, my sense of “normal” was probably a little off. I will say, though, that the results we got from our foray into the impossible were not what either Ginny or I were expecting.
“Well, well, well,” he said cheerfully. “If it isn’t my two favorite red-heads. Female variety, anyway.” His features seemed to be mercurial, shifting and changing as he looked at two of us. His hair wandered between auburn and strawberry blond, freckles appeared and disappeared, and his face gained and lost roundness. His voice was tantalizingly familiar.
Ginny and I looked at each other in shock and the man in the portrait, whatever his name, started to laugh.
“Ginny,” I asked carefully, “who did you intend to draw in that portrait?”
“My brother Fred,” she replied, warily eyeing the picture. “He was one of the twins I mentioned earlier. He was ki— he died in the wa— he died fighting something similar to what you are fighting in your own time,” she said thickly. “You thought it was Uncle Fabian?”
“Yeah, one of my mum’s younger brothers. I never knew them, I heard they were killed in the First War. Mum always said Fred and George were a lot like them, though.”
Right. Molly Weasley, nee Prewitt. I had forgotten about that connection. She and her husband (Adam? Art? No, Arthur) weren’t active in the Order, but her younger brothers, Fabian and Gideon, were well known to me. They had taken James and Sirius under their wings and were tutoring them in all things cloak and dagger, but had been killed less than a month before. We were all still mourning the loss.
“Well, since you seem to know us,” I address the portrait, “would you mind introducing yourself?”
He laughed again, and the mischievous twinkle in his eye seemed to take on a life of its own. “You were both right,” he said gaily. “When I’m talking to Gin-Gin here, I’m Fred.” He focused exclusively on Ginny and much of the shifting seemed to stop. “And when I’m talking to Lils, I’m Fabian.” He focused on me and his features shifted into the ones I was familiar with.
“Oh-kay then,” Ginny said in disbelief. We looked at each other and shrugged.
“I suppose this is what happens when two people cast the spells. So, Fred, Fabian, whatever your name is, are you aware of what we’re trying to do?”
“You betcha. One of the benefits of those spells is that they convey the caster’s intentions to the target. I couldn’t be more proud of you two, trying to do the impossible!” He wiped an imaginary tear from one eye. Ginny rolled her eyes; apparently that was a classic Fred gesture.
“So how do we get you to open the portal?” she asked.
“Normally, you’d just give me the password and m’lady’s wish would be my command. But I think you’re going to need a bit more oomph for this one.” We all thought hard for a few moments.
“Ginny, do you know the Animagus reversal spell?” I asked, the beginnings of an idea starting to form as I spoke.
“It’s restituo humani, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but what if we tried Restituear mihi tempi instead?”
“Very good, Lils,” the portrait murmured.
Ginny frowned, puzzling out the new spells. “Let me be restored to my time? Sounds plausible. That’s a pretty powerful spell to begin with, so it just might work. Which one of us should try it first?”
I glanced at the drawing. “Any suggestions, oh wise one?”
Instead of the flippant answer I was expecting, he actually frowned in thought. “Ginny, I think. She is further along in the timeline. Move out of my line of sight, Lils. I need to concentrate on this.”
I did so and Ginny stepped directly in front of the portrait. His features shifted until he was solidly on the Fred end of the spectrum.
“Am I casting this spell on me or where we want the portal to be?” Hmm. That was a good question.
Ginny chuckled. “Since we’re all in agreement, the portal it is. I hope you can do this, Fred. Restituear mihi tempi!”
No one dared to move or even breathe. The drawing glowed brightly and my runes flared again. Then, just as I was afraid nothing was going to happen, the drawing seemed to swing outwards (no, I don’t know how a two-dimensional chalk drawing can swing outwards. Magic, remember?) and in its place was a shimmering portal.
Ginny peered through without touching it. “It looks like a Gringotts corridor to me,” she announced. “I’ll at least be able to get out of this chamber. I won’t be able to tell when it is until I get out there, though.”
“Are you willing to risk it?”
“Do I really have a choice?”
I shrugged but then nodded in acknowledgement. We were going to have to take some risks and trust that we worked the magic properly.
“I’ll do it,” she said and then paused. “Look, I know this probably violates about a dozen rules and laws, but I don’t think I care. I mean, look what we’ve already done,” she said, gesturing at the open portal. “I’m not going to tell you anything specific but I do want to tell you two things.”
I nodded. I could see how important this was.
“First, please make sure you and James have your wills on file here in Gringotts. And make sure you clearly outline who you want to take care of Harry, if something should ever happen to both of you — and who you don’t want him to go to. And second —” She hesitated.
“Yes?” I prompted.
“Just — just — think about what Peter’s Animagus form is. And what that says about him as a person,” she said in a rush, and hugged me tightly. “I’m so glad I got a chance to meet you like this. Harry loves you very much, Mum,” she whispered, and jumped through the portal before I could say a word.
“Bill!” I faintly heard Ginny exclaim and through the portal I saw her swept into a hug by a tall red-head. He spoke animatedly for a moment and she put her hand on his arm, calming him. She spoke again and gestured towards the portal. Bill, or I presumed that’s who it was, looked towards me for a moment with a confused expression and shook his head. Ginny looked puzzled for a moment then laughed. She must have realized, as I did, that while I could still see out the portal, it was invisible from the other side. Ginny took her brother’s arm and lead him off down the corridor, turning once back over her shouldn’t to shoot me a grin. I waved back, knowing that even if she couldn’t see me, she would know what I had done.
Taking a deep breath, I reached out to close the portal once more. This was the tricky part — magic had done the impossible once, could it do it a second time? The drawing swung shut and once again I faced a young red-headed man.
“Heya, Lils. Did Ginny make it through okay?”
I breathed a sigh of relief. At least the portrait was still animate and aware. That was a darn good start.
“Yes, she did. She was greeted by her brother Bill, and he didn’t looked shocked to see her, so I’m assuming she was at least close to the right time.” I examined the portrait closely. His features were less mercurial now, and he seemed to have settled more on the “Fabian” end of the spectrum, rather than the “Fred” end.
He smiled. “Well, of course I look more like Fabian now,” he said, answering my unasked question. “That’s the link to your time. Fred was the link to Ginny’s. Are you ready?”
“Yes, Fabe, I think I am.” I pulled out my wand one last time, but then hesitated. “But what about you? After I go through, are you going to be all right?”
Fabian laughed. “Don’t worry about me, Lils. I’m sure I can find a few things to keep me occupied.”
“All right then. Don’t do anything the Marauders wouldn’t do!” I cast the same spell that Ginny had cast moments before, and once again the painting glowed and then swung open.
Cautiously, I looked through. The corridor was empty, save for one lone goblin, waiting patiently. Griphook. Confident now, I stepped through. I looked back, but saw nothing but a blank wall, indistinguishable from the thousands of other walls in Gringotts.
“Hello, Griphook,” I said quietly.
He turned towards me calmly, as if having a witch appear out of thin air was an everyday occurrence. “Mrs. Potter. I trust you are unharmed.”
“I’m fine, Griphook. But I will need to speak with the Superiors about the Containment Chambers.”
If a goblin had eyebrows, he would have lifted his. “Oh?”
“Yup,” I replied cheerfully. Then I paused and flicked my wand in a circle. “Tempus.”
The date and time came up, just as expected, showing me that it had been less than an hour since I first left home.
I turned back to my goblin companion. “Why don’t you tell me what you saw?” I said as we set off down the corridor. I could always return the jewelry box later.
I never did figure out exactly when Ginny and I ended up, nor how we got there.
My story was told to several of the Master Warders and eventually to the C.F. herself. It was decided however, to keep my adventure as secret as possible. The goblins were not particularly eager to advertise that someone broke out of a supposedly unbreakable chamber. I think they were just happy it was done by one of their own employees and not some random wizard.
That afternoon, when I got home, I said nothing to James. I felt a little guilty, but I just pleaded work business had come up — which was marginally true. James was familiar enough with my Gringotts oaths that he didn’t press me.
I did, however, sit down that evening and write two letters. The first was long and perhaps the hardest thing I have ever written. The recipient may find it hard to read in places, for there are a few splashes of tears obscuring a word here and there. The second letter was shorter and restored a smile to my face. When I had finished, I waved my wand in a complicated pattern. It was a spell I had only read about, but I was confident it would work.
When I was done, both envelopes disappeared with a slight ‘pop’. They would reappear on January 1, 2002, on the desk of the Potter Family Liaison. The first was addressed to Mr. Harry James Potter, Heir to the Potter Line, My Son. The second was simply addressed Ginny.