Thanks to my pre-beta and sometime co-conspirator, Moshpit, for helping me think things through, and to my beta, Jonathan Avery, for making this story less of a mess in general. Thanks also to Sherylyn for checking this over before posting it.
It was slightly too warm, and it was comfortable. The breeze was light and pleasant as it brushed across exposed skin, and clothes covered skin entirely. Something felt odd where nothing had been before, and its absence was equally unexpected. The world looked odd, as though perceived from a different angle, and it was perfectly normal. An unknown smell filled the air, and it was lavender, of course, as always. Harry Potter was alone, and he had a companion.
The flood of sensations slowed and seemed to sort themselves into their usual configurations. It was too warm in Harry’s huge hand-me-down clothes, which permitted no breeze to reach him, and it was quite pleasant in Ginny’s sundress, which allowed the air to swirl around her arms and legs. Harry’s head was light and unencumbered by the weight of Ginny’s hair, and her long hair brushed gently against her neck. Their surroundings were all right where they should be, and they seemed clearer somehow. The scent of Ginny’s shampoo drifted around them, calming them as it always had.
Harry was still Harry, and Ginny was still Ginny, but Ginny was Harry, and Harry was Ginny too. They were not sure how they knew this, but it fit. This was how they were intended to be. Harry looked out of his eyes at Ginny, still holding his hand and smiling. He could also see himself, through Ginny’s eyes, as he stood there staring at her. It seemed perfectly natural to be looking down at her face and up at his at the same time.
Hello, pleased to meet us, Harry said with a wry half-smile. He did not speak aloud. It was unnecessary.
Likewise, I’m sure, she replied, her own smile becoming a grin that few others ever saw.
They felt the joy behind their teasing words. They were not each happy to have found themselves sharing so much. They were happy and were expressing their happiness with two voices.
Ginny had always wondered what Harry Potter would be like. She had never expected the Boy Who Lived to be a heroic figure riding a white horse into a shining castle. Instead, she had been curious about the reality. Now, she knew him personally, and she decided he was everything she could have hoped for, though there were parts of him she wished had never been necessary.
He was strong in a way that she had never needed to be, and she admired that strength, regardless of its source. He was deeply committed to the safety of others and feared his own temper. Most surprisingly, to her, he had a drive that she herself had never experienced. She had seen it in her brothers, but to feel it for herself was wonderful. She was unsure what it was they wanted so badly, but she had no doubt that they would do it someday. Harry was noble, in his own unique way.
Unfortunately, he was also deeply resentful. He carried anger towards his relatives, in particular, and he found it very difficult to feel positive emotions on his own, much less to express them to others. She fervently hoped that he could learn to let go of his anger, and she vowed to help him.
There was something else she noticed about him, but it was difficult to grasp. It felt vaguely familiar, but at the same time different, and it now seemed to be something they shared. She liked the feeling, whatever it was.
For his part, Harry thought Ginny was wonderful. Suddenly, he knew her better than anyone else ever would. He saw her powerful optimism, her fascination with the world around her, her compassion, and her sense of peace with herself. He also saw her intellect. She could understand difficult concepts easily, as he had never been able to do. She would be generous in sharing her talent for learning with him, even if he never truly developed the talent for himself. He felt her particular concern for his well being, and the odd sensation that this was a very old feeling. He wondered, fleetingly, how she could have possibly worried about him before today.
Unbidden, her memories came to the surface of their consciousness. They saw how she had always listened to his story, though this was the first time he had heard it himself. They knew she had always wondered what his life might be like and hoped for his safety and happiness. In response, they saw bits of his childhood, from the moments that had passed for happiness to the worst of the Dursleys’ abuses. Ginny was saddened by his upbringing but pleased that he was with her now and not with them. Harry felt warmed by the knowledge that somewhere, there had been someone who cared for him.
Realizing what had happened, Harry felt that he had been very rude. I’m sorry, Ginny, I didn’t mean to see those things about you.
I didn’t either, Harry. I have no idea how to not see them, do you?
No, they just seemed to pop up, just like my memories did.
Well, then we can hardly blame each other for finding them, can we? Don’t worry, Harry. I haven’t done anything I’d really not want you to know about.
I haven’t either, Ginny, but some of my memories aren’t very nice.
That’s not your fault, and you know I won’t blame you for it. You won’t blame me for seeing them, either.
She was right, of course.
Naturally, she grinned.
Molly Weasley’s voice startled them, and they realized that they had been standing and staring at each other for several long moments. Instinctively, they turned towards her voice.
This proved to be a mistake. The moment they tried to move, they found that their bodies had not adapted to their shared vision as quickly as their minds had. Harry needed to turn to his left to see Mrs. Weasley, but he forgot that he was seeing out of Ginny’s eyes, too, and she needed to turn to her right. As it happened, they both tried to turn to their right and ended up running into each other and tumbling to the ground.
As their hands separated, they felt something change. It wasn’t a loss; it was more like something had pulled back a bit. They didn’t have time to contemplate what it might have been.
“Are you all right, Ginny? Who’s this you’ve found?”
Don’t apologize, Harry. It could have been either of us. Or both, maybe. That might have been funny. Try concentrating on your own body, and maybe we won’t look like buffoons.
“He’s new this year, Mum, and he doesn’t know how to get onto the platform,” Ginny told her mother, standing carefully.
Why didn’t we…?
Mum doesn’t need any more stress right now. She’ll find out who you are soon enough.
“I’m very sorry, ma’am. I lost my balance, and she tried to catch me, but I knocked us both over.”
Very smooth, Harry.
It was your idea... I think.
Of course it was. I've been lying to Mum for years.
“Quite alright, dear. Now, Ginny, help him through to the platform so we can send him on his way.”
Oh no, thought Harry, feeling Ginny's disappointment.
Yeah, I’m too young, she replied, resigned.
I don't think we could get rid of each other if we wanted to. You’ll get to see my house, and I can get a look at Hogwarts.
The Burrow looks amazing. Can we go swim in the pond? I’ve never been swimming, Harry thought wistfully.
I practically live there unless it’s too cold, and you know it.
Oh, right, I guess I do.
The two of them, concentrating firmly on their own bodies, managed to walk towards the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 without any more accidents.
Do you understand how to get onto the platform now?
Ginny’s memories of her many trips to Platform 9 ¾ rose to the surface of their consciousness. Yeah, but I’d have never figured that out on my own.That’s the idea, right?
I guess so. I don’t think they expect many students from non-magical families to be left here alone.
They should meet Uncle Vernon, then, Harry said bitterly.
Harry, she replied, your relatives have been awful to you, and you have every right to resent them. But you can’t stay angry all the time. It’s not good for you. You’re going to Hogwarts, where you won’t have to see them, hear from them, or even think about them for nine months. Try to enjoy it, okay?
I’ll try, Ginny.
The pair passed through the barrier easily, to find the Hogwarts Express waiting at the platform. Harry knew that if he had truly been seeing it for the first time, it would have been an incredible sight. It was still very impressive. He felt the same awe that Ginny had every time she had seen the bright red train.
Ginny silently introduced Harry to her brothers as they looked away from the Hogwarts Express. He identified Fred, George, and Ron as they waited on the other side of the barrier. Percy, she told him, had undoubtedly gone off to his duties as a prefect. Molly came through the barrier and started herding her sons towards the train.
Harry took Hedwig in her cage from atop his trunk and attempted to pull the trunk off of the trolley with one hand. Uncle Vernon had carried it for him to get it to the station, so he was having very little success lifting it on his own. Fortunately, Fred and George saw his predicament and easily lifted the trunk between them before heading for the nearest carriage.
The train’s whistle blew, announcing its departure.
You’d better go, Harry. The train always leaves right on time, so you’ve only got five minutes left.
I know, Ginny, but I wish you could come, too.
I’ll be there next year, Harry, and this year we can have fun in two places at once. Harry had to grin at Ginny’s creative optimism.
Before he turned to board the train, he reached out and squeezed Ginny’s hand in farewell. For the brief time they touched, the feeling that had receded before came back in full force.
This time, Ginny was not distracted from it. I don’t know what that was, but it was… nice. Like a warm pair of socks, maybe.
I don’t know what it was either, but I think I’ll miss it.
Me, too. Bye, Harry.
Not really, Ginny.
Harry turned away from her and boarded the train. Following the passageway, he caught up with the twins as they entered an empty compartment with his trunk. One of the twins then heaved the trunk up to the overhead rack.
"Oi, how'd you know my name?"
"Err… your mum was yelling at you two, and I just guessed which was which."
You learn fast, Harry.
“Well, you’re welcome, mate,” George said. “You’re a first year, are you?”
“What’s your name, then?” Fred asked.
“Harry. Harry Potter.”
“Blimey! Scar and everything, eh?”
Reluctantly, Harry pushed back his fringe to display the lightning-bolt scar on his forehead.
You know, in all that, I never even noticed it was there, Ginny commented. Does it always itch?
It doesn’t for me, but I’ve had it all my life. Maybe I’m just used to it.
“What do you know, Fred?”
“A real celebrity, George.”
“Right here –”
“– In this very compartment –”
“– And we got to touch his trunk!”
“We’ll never wash our hands again!” they finished in unison, swooning dramatically.
The twins heard their mother calling from outside the compartment and left the train. Harry and Ginny agreed that at some point they might have to have a long talk with the twins, if such a thing was possible.
Harry sat down and looked out the corner of the window to see Fred and George rejoin their mother, Ron, and Ginny. Mrs. Weasley was offering last minute advice and dire warnings to her youngest son when the twins interrupted.
“Hey, Mum, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?” Fred asked.
George didn’t wait for a response. “You know that black-haired boy who was here a minute ago? That was Harry Potter!”
“Don’t you want to run up and see him, Ginny?” Fred added.
Look out the window and wave, would you, Harry?
“Why would I want to go to all that trouble? I can see him just fine from here.” Ginny waved up at Harry, who waved back on cue.
Molly rounded on her daughter. “Ginny! You didn’t tell me that was Harry Potter!”
“Did it matter, Mum?”
Fred, George, and Ron looked confused until their mother added, “He bumped into Ginny in the station and she helped him through the barrier.”
“Fred, old boy, we’ve been had.”
Fred wiped an imaginary tear from his eye. “I’m so proud, George. So proud.”
Thanks, Harry. He grinned out the window at her.
Another whistle sounded, and the three boys jumped onto the train just before it started moving. As the train pulled out of the King’s Cross, he looked out the window at Ginny until she was hidden from view. They both wished she was going to Hogwarts with him, but they knew she was not allowed yet.
Next year. Neither was sure whose thought it was.
A few minutes later, Ginny’s youngest brother entered the compartment and asked if he could sit down.
“Sure thing, Ron,” Harry said. Ginny could not resist, so he added, “Met any nice spiders lately?”
“What?” Ron’s expression was everything Ginny had hoped for, and Harry had to admit that it was pretty funny. “How’d you know that? How’d you know my name?”
“Ginny told me to ask you that if I saw you,” he explained.
Close enough, right?
Ron frowned. “Yeah, sounds like Ginny. Hope she didn’t bother you too much.”
Harry was instantly defensive, even without Ginny’s silent outrage. “I think she’s great. It must be really nice to be her brother.”
Ouch, Harry. Thanks and all, but ouch.
He started it.
“Err, I guess so,” Ron said, clearly confused. “Are you really Harry Potter?”
Harry pushed his hair back once again.
“Wicked. Did it hurt?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said. “I don’t remember it.”
He did, though, at least in a way. Ginny saw the flash of green light in their mind, just as he had seen it in his dreams for most of his life.
Ron lapsed into silence, staring out the window and occasionally glancing at Harry when he thought the other boy was occupied. Harry was also staring out the window, but he was engaged in a serious conversation.
Harry, what is that?
What’s what, Ginny?
That feeling. This one, here. She directed their attention to the odd feeling they had first noticed while holding hands. It was muted now, but it was recognizable as the same sensation.
I don’t know, Ginny, honestly. It’s always been there, but it seemed somehow better when we were holding hands.
You’ve always felt that? I haven’t. It seems sort of familiar, I guess, but the way it feels now is nothing I’ve ever felt before, and the way it was at the station was even better. More comfortable, or something.
Maybe it’s like your hair.
My hair, Harry? What does my hair have to do with anything?
It’s heavy, you know? I’ve never had much hair, and I can definitely feel that yours is a lot heavier than mine. It’s like a pulling in your neck.
Oh. I guess I can understand that. She was quiet for a moment, then giggled. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to have one of those.
Harry could not pretend not to know what she meant, and he blushed.
Oh, don’t be embarrassed, Harry. I’ve got six brothers, remember?
He could tell she had no intention of humiliating him, even if he did feel embarrassed. She was just curious. Come to think of it…
You’re right, Ginny. That is a really odd feeling.
She was quiet for a moment, and Harry imagined he could actually see her face reddening. Well, that’s fair, I guess.
I think your mum’s trying to tell you something, Ginny.
Harry listened as Ginny’s mother tried to cheer her up, saying that the year would pass before she knew it, and that she could go and visit Mr. Lovegood’s house to play with their daughter. Ginny responded only enough to reassure her mother and then returned to her conversation with Harry as she stared out the window of the Weasleys’ car.
Luna’s really nice, but ever since her mother died last year, she’s not quite the same. She says the strangest things and spends all her time reading the newspaper her father publishes. It’s all about conspiracies and secret magical rituals and creatures no one has ever heard of.
We should introduce her to Dudley someday.
Ginny took a moment to look through Harry’s memories of Dudley, as he watched what she remembered of Luna.
I’m not sure I’d do that to Luna, Harry. For that matter, I’m not sure I’d do that to Dudley.
I’d do it to little Duddy-dumkins, right enough, but Luna seems too nice to treat that badly.
You can meet her next year. She’ll be at Hogwarts then, too.
Harry was quiet for several minutes, and Ginny could feel his mood becoming pensive.
Ginny, what’s going on?
She knew what he meant. It was unavoidable at this point.
I don’t know, Harry.
This isn’t normal for magical people, is it?
I’ve never heard of anything like it, even in stories.
We can talk to each other, think together… I even feel what you’re feeling. The road is bumpy, the car smells like flowers, and the window is getting warm from the sun.
You’re getting an ache in your neck, Harry. He shifted his position.
How are we going to move around? I barely made it onto the train without falling over.
She thought for a moment then found the answer. It was easier for me when I was concentrating on what I was doing. I couldn’t feel you so much. It sort of faded into the background. That’s what you were doing too, right?
Yeah, that’s it exactly.
Okay, Harry, let’s try something. You focus really hard on your hands. When you’re ready, say ‘go’, and I’ll move a little. Then you tell me if you know how I moved.
Harry stared at his hands, thinking about how they looked resting in his lap and how the denim of his oversized jeans felt beneath his fingers. When he thought he was focusing on his hands as much as anyone could, he thought, Go.
Still fixated on his hands, he felt Ginny reach up to push a strand of her hair behind her ear, but the sensation was muted. He momentarily felt like it was his own hand reaching up, but he could see that it was still in his lap.
Did you feel what I did?
Yes, but it was different somehow. Like it was further away, and I knew it was you moving and not me. Your hair is really soft, though.
He could feel her pleasure at the compliment. Thanks. Err… would you say you felt what I was doing more or less than you did when you were boarding the train?
Less, I think. When I was walking, your moving was more... blurry. I knew it was happening, but I couldn’t feel any details.
Hmm…well, let’s try it again, only this time, twiddle your thumbs.
What? My thumbs?
She was clearly surprised. Twiddle them. You’ve never heard of it before? Lace your fingers together and then rotate your thumbs around each other as fast as you can.
If you say so. He did as she instructed, feeling somewhat foolish. When he had mastered the motion, he said, Go.
This time, he knew she was doing something, but he was unsure of what she did.
That’s great, Ginny. That time it was just like when I boarded the train.
Perfect. It seems that we have to concentrate, and it helps if we’re actually doing something to concentrate on instead of just sitting still. Can we try something else?
Okay, can you see what I’m seeing right now?
Harry closed his eyes, and Ginny’s vision, which previously had been like a color shadow over the compartment ahead of him, became clear. Yeah. You’re in the backseat of the car, looking out the window to your right. It looks like you’re out in the countryside somewhere. There’s a house on top of a hill beside the road ahead of you.
We’re about halfway home, I think. I always remember that house. Now look in your train car. See the stripes on the wallpaper? See if you can count them, and while you’re doing that I’ll look at something else.
He turned his head to the wall by the window and began counting the thin vertical stripes on the garish wallpaper. As he reached eleven, he noticed that the echo of Ginny’s vision had faded. His concentration faltered, and they found themselves looking out the other window of the Weasleys’ car at an open field.
As long as I was counting, I didn’t see what you saw. But when I stopped, I was looking at that pasture with you.
Well, that probably means we can pay attention to any of our own senses if we want to. Hopefully it’ll get easier. I had a hard time looking at that house instead of counting the stripes.
Ginny, that’s wonderful. I’ve never been able to… I mean, you’re really smart, you know?
So are you, Harry. You haven’t figured out how to use it, yet, but I can feel that it’s there.
I think that’s just your brain making me look good.
So what? If we’re both smart now, then it doesn’t matter where it came from.
Harry sighed, physically and mentally. I wish we knew where all of this came from. I like it, and I wouldn’t go back to the way I was before, but it will take getting used to.
I think it’s wonderful. He felt her pleasure clearly. We’ll figure it out, Harry. It’s not really hard to work with. It just feels different.
Your hair brushing your neck feels nice, even though it’s strange. I think people would laugh at me if I had long hair, though.
Ginny laughed silently. You’d look really odd. You can feel my hair, instead.
He grinned, knowing she could feel his amusement even without words. Ron, who was still stealing glances at Harry every few minutes, finally spoke up.
“Alright there, Harry?”
“Sure, Ron. Why?” Harry asked.
“You keep making faces and twitching and stuff.”
Harry thought quickly. “I was just thinking, I guess. I never heard of all this magic stuff until a month ago. Is your family all magical?”
“Yeah, have been for ages. Lots of boys, all in Gryffindor, all with red hair.”
Lots of boys?
I’m the first Weasley girl in generations. Everyone seems to think that means something, but I think it means I’ve got a few brothers I’d trade for sisters.
Ron seems okay.
Yeah, Ron’s alright. He’s a bit thick, and he’s absolutely obsessed with Quidditch, but at least he’s only annoying some of the time. Percy’s always trying to get me to read something, and the twins keep trying to prank me. Memories of pranks and retaliations floated into their consciousness.
Harry chuckled, careful this time to keep it inside his head. You’ve pranked them a few times, too.
I’ve got a right to defend myself, haven’t I? Besides, just because it’s annoying doesn’t mean it’s not fun.
Ron had not noticed Harry’s distraction and was still speaking. “I hope I’ll be in Gryffindor. Be weird otherwise, don’t you think?”
“I suppose so, if your brothers are all in Gryffindor already. I don’t know much about the houses, though.”
Harry and Ron talked for a while, discussing the houses at Hogwarts, Quidditch, and the rumors Ron had heard about the incredible feast held at the start of each year. Around lunchtime, the trolley came by and Harry bought a batch of sweets for them to share. Ron explained the Chocolate Frogs and their cards to Harry, who was fascinated by the moving pictures. Ginny chatted idly with her mother, half listening to the boys’ conversation.
Ron told Harry about a break-in attempt at Gringotts. It seemed that the break-in had been successful, but whoever it was had failed to steal anything. Everyone worried that ‘You-Know-Who’ was behind the attempt.
I still don’t understand why nobody wants to say Voldemort.
It’s what we were taught, Harry. It seems a little silly, I guess, but everyone gets upset when they hear his name.
You’re not upset now.
I have been before, but now that I see it the way you do, it doesn’t make much sense to be afraid. Her tone became teasing. Besides, I’ve got the Boy Who Lived in my head, so why should I worry? Harry knew she was teasing, but he was getting used to her sense of humor.
Not long after lunchtime, the compartment door opened to reveal a round-faced boy, who introduced himself as Neville Longbottom, and a bushy-haired, bossy girl. They were both going to Hogwarts for the first time, and apparently Neville had lost Trevor, his toad. Harry and Ron thought the girl, Hermione Granger, might be a bit barmy, but Ginny figured she was alright if she was helping Neville look for his toad.
After the two left in search of Trevor, Ron dozed off. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny had arrived at the Burrow, and Ginny was pretending to take a nap in her room. Harry turned his attention back to her.
Ginny? Should we tell someone about this?
I don’t know. I feel like we should, in case anyone has heard of it before, but I don’t know who to tell. My parents… well, my mother is very old fashioned, and I don’t think she’d take it well at all.
Harry thought he could understand that, even if he did not like it. Yeah, nobody would want me in their daughter’s head.
Oh, Harry, it has nothing to do with you in particular. Mum would just say it’s ‘improper’ for a boy and a girl to, uh… share some of the things we share.
A thought occurred to him quite suddenly. Ginny, what happens when one of us has to use the loo?
Apparently, she had not thought of that yet, either. I guess the other one is going to think really, really hard about something else. And maybe do jumping jacks, too, just in case.
It’s a deal.
Harry, recalling his conversation with Ron, had an idea. Maybe we could tell Dumbledore. He must know all kinds of things if he’s the greatest wizard around.
That’s a good idea, Harry. Mum and Dad talk all the time about the wonderful things he’s done. All the boys like him, too, even Fred and George, and they never like the people who make the rules.
I’ll have to find a way to talk to him, then.
Later on, Draco Malfoy stopped by the compartment with two of his friends. Even without Ginny’s prompting, Harry’s dislike for the blonde boy was reaffirmed, and only Ginny herself kept him from attacking Malfoy when the git insulted her family.
Hermione came back to remind them to put on their school robes before the train arrived at Hogwarts. Ginny carefully counted the floorboards in her room while Harry and Ron changed.
Soon, Harry found himself in a boat with Ron, Hermione, and Neville. All four students were staring raptly at the castle as they approached.
Ginny was just as fascinated. It’s incredible! Look, there’s the Quidditch pitch. I’ve never seen one except in pictures. I’d like to be on the house team someday, just so I could fly more often.
You know how to fly already?
Sure. I’ve been sneaking out at night and practicing with my brothers’ brooms for years. You’ll love it.
She skimmed through some of her memories of flying for him, and he had to agree. The feeling of soaring through the air was incredible.
It looks wonderful, but I don’t know when I’ll get to try it, Harry thought.
Everyone gets flying lessons in their first year. Fred and George say it’s nothing like Quidditch, but at least it’s flying.
Finally, the boats passed through the tunnel under the castle, and the students were led into Hogwarts for the first time.