A/N: I originally wrote this for the SIYE Time-Turner challenge, but never got around to completing it until now. Thanks to Arnel for looking through the first draft and her suggestions, and for my PS Beta, Sherry, for wrangling a reluctant author into accepting her very sensible suggestions. Also: 'homely' means something different in the UK to the US. I'd describe The Burrow as homely; as the OED puts it, "In later use also (chiefly Brit., of a place or its atmosphere, etc.): cosy, comfortable."
Harry had turned the object over in his hands many times. At first he was fascinated by the individual components and the feel of the magic with which it had been imbued. Unlike the Dark, seditious magic that poured from the Horcrux, this thing, wherever it had come from, made him feel safe and the thoughts and memories it stirred up reminded him of Amortentia.
He did all of this out of sight of Hermione, of course. It wasn't that he believed that she would lecture him about the danger of using it. No, their situation was so desperate that even the normally level-headed Hermione Granger might be tempted to take a punt on the thing. But she'd want to use it on something sensible like trying to talk to Dumbledore or, worse still, bringing Ron back. But he didn't want to use it for the Horcrux hunt, however desperate their situation was because, as things stood, he didn't need a way to find more of the damned things, he needed Her.
Perhaps, he thought, Hermione would understand that too. Given her experience with Ron; who knew better than her that a hope deferred makes a heart sick?
But he pushed that thought aside as he wasn't prepared to take that chance. Perhaps she was as desperate as he was and they would fight over who got to use it first. With Ron gone and the Horcrux hunt stalled, who knew what even the most level-headed of people would do and Hermione was the most level-headed person he knew. Spending twelve hours a day with a bit of Voldemort's soul around your neck wasn't exactly conducive to thinking sensibly about anything.
He dragged the contraption out of his pocket once more and began to examine the dials and keys once more. His hands moved slowly across the warm metal, enjoying its warmth and the feeling of well-being it engendered. Today it reminded him of his birthday kiss with Ginny and the hours they spent by the lake, far from prying eyes, giving themselves to each other in a way that only besotted teenagers could. He closed his eyes and let the memory of her kisses sooth away the hurt of the last few days.
Ron's departure was, on reflection, no surprise. Of the three of them, he was the one most used to home comforts and the one who had made the fewest sacrifices along the way. Despite his taking part in all their adventures, it was Harry and Hermione who had suffered the most throughout the trio's six or so years together. And when the going got tough, it was Ron who invariably thought of himself first. Harry thought back to the disaster of the Goblet of Fire and sighed. He should have known then that Ron would crumble under pressure and they were better off without the git.
Hermione was a different kettle of fish altogether. He didn't think that she was any less disappointed in him than Ron was, but she had burned her bridges and knew, particularly as Muggle-born, that their quest had to succeed if she was to survive.
The device brought him back to the present as the memory of Ginny's caresses pulled him away from the problems he faced. He wondered if it was like the Mirror of Erised and would cause him to spend the rest of his life stuck in a tent reliving his encounters with Ginny.
"No," he said to himself and allowed himself a low chuckle. Even though the thing stirred more than memories within him, he was not going the stay in the tent wishing his life away.
The device was made of brass and had three dials to set the date, a small keyboard and a tiny display screen. All in all it looked like a Victorian version of a computer, but after a bit of experimentation he knew that in his hands he had a Time-Turner.
His first experiment had been when he was charged with finding food. He wasn't great at fishing but he found that watching himself from afar did wonders for his technique and soon his skills improved. It also proved very useful during a visit to the local branch of Sainsburys when knowledge of the past helped him to help himself to what he needed.
Once he was sure how the thing worked, he now began to work out where he was going to go. The dials wouldn't go back far enough to stop Voldemort killing his parents, and neither would they take him back to his first trip to King's Cross. Much to his annoyance the furthest he could go back was just beyond his birthday. He wanted, somehow, to go back before he and Ginny got together. Maybe to the Yule Ball, or better still after the Chamber. It always saddened him how much they left Ginny to her own devices after the nightmare of her first year despite the reassurances she had given.
"I would have preferred a bit more support, but it did make me the woman I am today, so stop fretting about it, after all, we can't change the past, can we?"
She was always one for living in the moment, not that she was reckless, but rather that she didn't let her mistakes hold her back. He supposed that in some ways he was like that too, as life with the Dursleys never let him dwell on the past, not when there was so much stuff to survive in the present. And yet here he was, dreaming the hours away wishing that he could have more time with Ginny.
"There's always the future," said a voice behind him. "Ginny!" he whirled round, overjoyed that she had managed to find them, but there was no one there. He shoved the Time-Turner back in his pocket and stood slowly. There really was no one there. He began to search the tent, seeking the intruder, but found no one. He didn't check Hermione's room, but he'd take a chance that the intruder wasn't in there over walking in on her in a state of undress as she slept and all the complications that might cause.
He wandered outside, pulling his cloak tighter against the cold. The Time-Turner weighed heavily in his pocket and on his mind. But every time he got it out he heard her voice. It was different to the Ginny he knew, but he was sure it was her. And there was something about it, something, well, happy about it. It was almost as if she were teasing him. As she spoke he could almost see the twinkle in her eye and the smirk on her face. All of which made him miss her even more, which went some way to explain the indecision that overcame him as he tried to work out where, or rather when to go.
He'd had the Time-Turner for more than a week before he'd decided what to do. He didn't know where or when he needed to go, but only to whom. It didn't matter as long as she was there. Slowly, almost reverentially he typed in her name, hope growing inside him as he watched each letter appear on the glowing green screen. Once her name was complete, her face appeared, flickering as time passed and her expression changed. Without waiting, he placed his fingers on the dials and spun them, closing his eyes as he did so. Almost as an afterthought he pulled his Invisibility Cloak over his head and waited.
Harry recognised where and when he was immediately. How could he forget? It was the best birthday present he had ever received even if Ron's interruption had cut it short. The door to Ginny's room slammed shut and he heard the muffled voices of himself, Ron and Hermione as they disappeared down the stairs.
He watched as Ginny slid onto the bed and began to stare out of her bedroom window. He sat as still as he could, drinking in the sights and sounds of the room and trying to control the joy he felt. The soft creaking of her bed as she shifted position made him wonder if she had intended her kiss to be the prelude to something more. The long, bitter sigh that ended in a sniffle filled him with hope that she had planned just that. He took a deep breath, to steady his nerves and savour that aroma that was pure Ginny; the telltale scent of her perfume to that unique, almost musty smell, which told him that her hormones were working overtime.
As he began to release his breath, her eyes snapped to where he was and her hand reached for her wand.
"Who's there?" she demanded as she stood, her hand finally finding her wand and pointing it at the corner where he sat.
He didn't move, instead he remained under his Cloak, continuing to stare, unable to take his eyes off her.
"Harry?" It sounded more like a statement rather than a question. "Is that you?"
He stood, letting the Cloak fall to the floor, his arms hanging loosely by his sides. He didn't know whether he should raise his hands in surrender or reach out to embrace her.
She sniffed the air.
"You stink. When was the last time you washed properly?"
He snorted. This was not the greeting he expected to receive. He lifted his arm and took an exaggerated sniff of his armpit. "Soap, like Veelas, are in short supply in the establishment where we are currently residing."
"Dad's tent has a bathroom in it! Honestly, Harry!"
He smiled. In just a few moments she had transformed his mood from depressed and desperate to hopeful and homely. She was nagging him and he loved it.
He took a few steps towards her, his arms opening to embrace her, ignoring the wrinkling of her nose as she took in his unique perfume. For a moment she appeared to shimmer before him; was he about to be pulled back to his own time? To his great relief he remained firmly in the past and she stepped into his hug, pulling him tightly to her. All too quickly, she stepped back and kept him at arm's length.
"You," she announced, "are going to have a shower."
Before he could say no, she grabbed his Invisibility Cloak and shoved it in his hands.
"Put it on, and follow me. Only tread on the same steps that I do."
Without waiting to see if he obeyed, she walked towards the door and stepped out onto the landing. Seeing no other course of action other than to follow her, he pulled the Cloak over his head and stepped out into the unknown.
Following her was easy, keeping his eyes on the steps in front of him rather than her backside was proving harder. He promised himself that he would never let himself get this desperate again; that was, if he ever finished the task that Dumbledore had set him.
They made it to the bathroom without any problems and, as he pulled the Cloak off, she locked the door. He stared at her; not quite sure what was going to happen next. Was she going to shower with him? In his wildest dreams — and his separation from her had produced some very wild dreams — he had never, ever imagined him sharing a shower with her, at least not at The Burrow.
"Okay, Harry," she announced as she turned towards him, "get those smelly rags off and give them to me. I'll pop out and get some replacements for you."
"Where are you going to get them from?"
"You, silly." She smiled at him a smile that increased as she held her hand out towards him.
He hesitated for a moment. Although they had been enthusiastic in the way they had expressed their love towards each other in secluded spots at Hogwarts, stripping in front of her, knowing her parents were just a few floors below him was a different matter.
He shrugged his shoulders and kicked off his trainers. As he pulled his shirt over his head, he heard a sharp intake of breath.
"Blimey, Harry, when was the last time you had a decent meal?"
"We don't eat that badly, and the fishing has been good recently."
"Fishing? Who goes fishing? Surely not Ron!"
He hesitated, not wanting to drop Ron into it. However let down he felt about his best mate, that was a discussion that could wait for another day.
"Nah, it's me who is a dab hand with the angling spells. Harry Potter, 'The Compleat Angler.'"
He was surprised how easily he found it to chat to her. The war, their separation, the madness that was the Boy Who Lived, faded into insignificance.
"Well, one of Mum's pies should see you in good stead. I'll pop down and sneak one from the pantry. Now, clothes."
She smiled at him, but the glint in her eyes let him know that she would brook no refusal. He returned her smile and began to unzip his trousers.
Harry stepped out of the shower, reaching for a towel and his glasses. As his world came back into focus, he saw Ginny perched on the edge of the bath watching him intently. He didn't move to cover his nakedness, and he wanted to ask he how long she'd been watching, but before he could say anything his stomach let out a loud rumble. She stood, her manner business like, her face impassive.
"The pie is in my room, so put your Cloak on and follow me."
It wasn't the reaction he'd expected, never mind what he'd hoped for. Some teenage awkwardness and stereotypical blushing perhaps, but not the matter-of-fact manner in which she led him back to her room.
His replacement clothes were on the bed and the pie on the bedside cabinet, but his eyes were on her. She was the reason he'd taken such a huge gamble and he was not prepared to be distracted now he was this close.
"Clothes on, first. I can explain everything to my mum except for having a pile of Harry Potter's clothes in my room."
"No," she replied, the force of her rebuttal surprising him. "Sorry, Harry," she continued, her tone softer as if she'd realised just how harsh she had sounded. "It's just..."
The self-control that had typified her attitude since he'd stepped out of the shower was beginning to slip. Whether in response to her wavering or not, he wasn't sure, but the towel had slipped a bit and was revealing more than was acceptable for a young man in his girlfriend's bedroom. But then again, what was acceptable in this situation? Whatever hopes he'd entertained of her losing all of her self-control were soon dashed as she reached over to the bed, picked up his Cloak and threw it at him.
He complied, reluctantly, his eyes never leaving hers, the pie on the side ignored in spite of the continued rumbles of his stomach. He finished quickly and when he finished tying his laces he stood, unsure as to what was going to happen next. The pie was nice, and yes, he was hungry, but he hadn't gone back in time for a pie, he'd come for her.
She was in his arms so quickly that she knocked the breath out of him. "So, no Veelas then?" Before he could reply, she was kissing him as if they had never been interrupted by Ron.
"No, not that they could..." He stopped talking, putting all his energy into matching her enthusiasm. She pulled him down onto her bed, the silky fabric of the Invisibility Cloak catching in his belt. Was this what she had planned for him originally? She did not object when his hands roamed across her body, but his hand passed frustratingly through her fading body and he found himself lying on the floor of the tent.
Rather than the expected howl of despair, Harry's first thoughts were of the Time-Turner and he was relieved to find it was still in the pocket in his robes. He pulled it out, hurriedly typed in the five most precious letters in his life and spun the dials frantically.
She hadn't been looking forward to the wedding at all, even less so as Harry was hiding in plain sight. Not to mention his being cruelly plucked from her arms as she had set about giving him a birthday present he would never forget. She had hated the dress Fleur had chosen for her, partly because it was Fleur and partly because of the excessive amount of cleavage it put on show. This morning she had hoped that either the disguised Harry or future Harry, as she was now calling him, would be drawn out by such a brazen display of her assets. To her annoyance the only people who appeared to notice were her Aunt Muriel and an apparently endless supply of Fleur's male cousins, all of whom mentally undressed her as she danced with them. To add insult to injury, they all endeavoured to persuade her to retire to a more secluded spot with them to allow them to put into practise what they had fantasised about doing. The latest of her Gallic suitors was proving rather difficult to shake off and trailed beside her as she moved around the garden trying to lose him. She would have slapped him, but the cousin to whom she had done that took it as further encouragement that she was passionate about him. She would have pulled out her wand, but that was tucked in her garter and the only person who would get to see her stocking tops today was disguised as her cousin.
"Listen, you frog idiot, when I say 'no', I mean it. Just because my brother wants to further the entente cordial doesn't mean that I want to."
The boy, and he was a boy even if his physique said otherwise, merely grinned at her and tried once again to slip his arm around her waist.
"You say that, but here we are, in your beautiful orchard, away from prying eyes. Perhaps your feet led you to where your heart really wanted to be, non?"
She spun round, realising that she had been so intent in getting away from him she was leading him towards her favourite spot. She turned back to him just in time to see him slump to the floor.
"Slimy French git!"
"Harry! You're back! Where have you been?"
"It's only been a few seconds since I left you. I didn't realise that I would be coming back this far into your future."
She stepped forward and, for the first time that day, she was pleased to see a pair of male eyes flicking from hers to her chest.
Good boy, she thought, as she enjoyed his dilemma. He had heard her complaining about boys' obsession with her chest so often that he was, even in this situation, trying to keep his lust under control. As he closed the gap, she pulled up her dress to reveal her wand and laughed when he slowed his approach. Standing, she waved her wand over the front of her dress, relaxing the bodice charm.
"That's better," she grinned, stowing her wand in her hair and pulling at the front of her dress, "room to manoeuvre."
He needed no second invitation and soon they were in each other's arms exchanging hot kisses.
"Tell Hermione," he panted as he took advantage of the adjustments she had made to the dress, "tell her that we shouldn't use his name, it's Taboo."
"Okay," she replied, equally breathless as she enjoyed his caresses. "Is it important?" She groaned as his other hand began to make its way towards her thigh.
"Yes ...very. Very," a sharp intake of breath interrupted their conversation as she found her way through the restrictions of his belt and zip. They spoke no more as they sank to the ground, frantically positioning themselves for the coupling each desperately wanted.
She ignored the first scream, focussed on whether she was desperate enough to hitch her dress high enough to allow Harry the access his hand was demanding, but then the telltale sounds of spellfire and Apparition meant that even two hormone-charged teenagers knew they had to stop.
"The Ministry has fallen," Harry said as they both struggled to their feet. "Scrimgeour is dead and Kingsley has gone into hiding." A hundred and one thoughts rushed through her head as she took this information onboard. Harry, her Harry, he needed to be safe. The one in front of her had obviously survived, but what about the one that had been sitting at the back of the reception scowling at everyone?
"You shouldn't have come," she bellowed at him, "you've put him in danger. You shouldn't have come." She immediately regretted her words as his face showed the rejection he felt. "Harry," she hurriedly added, "I ..." but he faded away in front of her, just like before, his eyes full of hurt, expression grim.
He was back in the tent, alone with only the sting of her rejection for company. Perhaps she was right, perhaps he had put them all in danger. Perhaps he had doomed the whole mission with his recklessness. Perhaps.
He didn't so much as look at the Time-Turner for the next week. He wanted to — oh. how he wanted to — but her words rang in his ears ,"you shouldn't have come". Fed by the Horcrux, he sat and brooded, the poison of rejection eating away at his resolve.
It was Hermione who prompted him to try again. Not intentionally, of course, but in her mooning over Ron, she gave him the courage to try again.
"I'd give anything to see him right now," she mumbled into the Weetabix he had purloined from the local corner shop that morning. His shoplifting skills had improved no end since he'd taken over the provisioning duties from an unusually moribund Hermione. There had been a few close shaves but the lure of a curry-flavoured Pot Noodle had proved too great to resist.
"I'm going to take the next watch, Harry, give me the locket." He handed the Horcrux over to her, feeling his spirits lift even as he did so. He retired to his bed and pulled out the device. He stared at it for what seemed like ages, wondering if he dared go back to her. He'd been so hurt by her rejection that he'd contemplated giving up. He knew that was the Horcrux at work, but still. Taking a deep breath, he slowly typed in her name and, pausing briefly, spun the dials.
He was at Hogwarts, he knew that immediately, there was no other place that felt the same way or had a floor consisting of such massive flagstones. But where was Ginny? He heard voices approaching and drew the Cloak around him, waiting to see who it was. As they came closer he could tell that it was Ginny and...? He struggled to place the voice at first, but then remembered, Corner! What was she doing in such a secluded place in the castle with that bloke? Had she been right? Had he changed things? Was she still with him? They stopped opposite him and, to his relief, he could see that neither of them were standing particularly close.
"It's okay, Michael, I can take it from here."
"Are you sure, Ginny? I mean, Malfoy was pretty upset with you last time."
"Yeah, but he's all bark and no bite, so I think I can handle him."
"Well, be safe." He gave her a brief hug before departing.
She watched Corner disappear down the corridor before she turned towards where he was hiding. "You can come out now, Harry."
He pulled off the Cloak and stuffed it in his pocket.
"How did you know? I've been washing more often."
"Dunno, just did. Perhaps we are soul mates." She had her customary mischievous grin in place as she said it.
"You said I shouldn't have come."
"I know, I'm sorry, I was just worried that Harry-"
"Yes, yes, you are, but..."
"I'm not your Harry."
"Something like that. But it is good to see you."
They hugged and Harry was pleased to find that, unlike Corner, she pulled him close to her.
"You were with Corner." It was a statement, not a question.
"Yes, I was. We try and ensure that all the members of the DA, especially the girls, don't go anywhere alone."
"So he wasn't..."
"No, Harry, Michael and I are a ship that sailed away a long time ago."
"It was okay, I wouldn't have minded..."
"Okay, I minded, I minded a lot."
"Well, there's no need to worry, future boy."
She kissed him. Unlike their previous encounters, there was nothing frantic about it, and he contented himself with the way she pulled him close to her rather than trying to get under her robes. When she broke off the kiss, she was grinning.
"I've missed that, and," she added as her hand brushed the front of his jeans, "that." He returned her grin and then pulled her in for another kiss.
"About a week. I wasn't sure you wanted me back, not after what you'd said."
"I do. I regretted it as soon as I'd said it. It's just..."
"I am him, you know. This is all in my past and so whatever has happened, I am your Harry."
"I know, it's just easier thinking about you as two different people. It enables me to compartmentalise things, keeps me sane."
"How are things here?"
"Could be worse. Not much, but it's not ...well, we survive."
"No, Harry. You have your battles and we have ours. Let me fight mine, please. I'm not some wimpy little woman you need to protect, you know."
"I do know, Ginny, I just want you to be safe."
"And I you. Don't you ever think how hard it is knowing you are out there braving who knows what? We heard about the raid on the Ministry, everyone walked a bit taller that week."
"And if I should lose you..."
"Oh, Harry, can't you see, it's the same for me. Don't think for a moment that I would get over you if you died and move on. That's just not going to happen. And besides, if you are dead then he's won and I'd probably wish that I was with you."
They were silent as Harry thought about what she had said. He'd always been so intent on keeping people safe that he never really thought about what they went through. His musings were interrupted as she pulled at his arm.
"Come on, Michel was right, we need to be safe and that means not hanging around in the far-flung reaches of the castle. Do you have the Map?"
"No, sorry, I didn't think."
"Not a problem, there's not too far to go, anyway."
"Any broom cupboards along the way?" he asked hopefully.
"Probably, but it'll need more than a broom cupboard to tempt me from now on, Potter. After our last few attempts I've decided that I want a nice big bed and a proper seduction. And besides, it's getting close to curfew and, as much as I love you, detention with the Carrows is more than I'm prepared to put up with, even for you."
They walked hand in hand, his Cloak clutched in his left, hers in his right, their pace slowing as they came to parts of the castle he recognised.
"Time for you to go, Harry."
"We're not there yet, the common room is up those stairs."
"It is, but it is time for you to go."
She stifled his protests with a kiss and soon he too recognised that his time with her was ending.
"Farewell, future boy," she whispered as she faded from view.
He was back in the tent, lying on his bed, and to his surprise he managed a smile. They'd had a conversation that they probably should have had months, possibly years ago. And they'd kissed, again. He smiled broadly at that. Her kisses in his last visits were so desperate, but this time they'd been more measured and they'd both managed to communicate more of what they'd felt for each other. He reached up and touched his lips, enjoying the lingering feeling of her lips on his.
He waited a few days before using the Time-Turner again. His better mood had enabled him to take the locket more often than Hermione and as a result her mood improved, too. And with that change in mood, they began to plan and, despite the fact that they were actually no further forward than before, they began to feel that things were beginning to change.
He felt a little guilty this time. Hermione was fast asleep and he was supposed to be on guard, but the locket had been eating away at him, filling him with questions, heaping doubt upon doubt. Images of Ginny with Corner or even with Neville haunted his dreams and he needed to see her before he went mad. He had spotted them together on the Map. which had only fuelled his nightmares. He tried to tell himself that she could be trusted, but the locket was not to be denied. He would take the Map with him; sneaking up on them would be the best way, he decided, so that he could observe from a distance and leave unnoticed.
He was unsure what to do with the locket. He didn't want to take it with him, but neither did he think it safe to leave it with Hermione. In the end, he hooked it around one of the legs on his bed and prepared himself for his trip.
He was back at the castle, again in a part that he didn't recognise. But he did recognise the footsteps of the person coming down the corridor towards him. He took off the Invisibility Cloak and stuffed it in his pocket. Almost as an afterthought he pulled out the Map and his wand.
"Harry?" The look of concern on her face told him something was wrong and immediately his doubts resurfaced. She slowed down. "Harry? Future Harry?"
He didn't speak, afraid of what she would say. Part of him wanted to shout at her and berate her for her betrayal, but a small voice urged him to ignore the doubts and trust her.
"Hi, Ginny. Going somewhere?"
"He's here, Harry, the battle has started."
"Wait, if the battle has started then...."
"...this is the future?"
"Well, yes. So..."
"... how did you get here?"
She was standing in front of him and he allowed himself to be gathered in her arms. If this was the future and Voldemort was at the castle then... A million different scenarios ran through his head none of which involved the destruction of all the Horcruxes.
"Wait, where am I?"
"In the Room of Requirement, looking for something."
"So what are you doing here?"
She laughed. "Running away before you can find me. Don't look so worried, future boy, you told me to wait outside the Room so you could find something of Ravenclaw's and so I slipped away before Mum and Dad could notice. Aren't you at least pleased to see me? Your other self looked like he couldn't decide if he was delighted or appalled by my arrival."
"I am very happy to see you, but then we've talked about this sort of thing and he hasn't."
"But he's you. Surely-"
"If he was me, or if he is me, or whatever, then there's no guarantee that he..." his voice faded as he realised that he really had no idea how this time stuff worked.
"You don't know, do you?" There was laughter in her voice.
"No, I don't. Look, I came here because I needed you, need you." He sank back into her embrace as his fears about her rose to the surface. "I need you, Ginny. I can't do this without you. I wish you could have come with me."
She pulled him closer her hands soothing him as they moved in small circles on his back.
"I know, Harry. But I couldn't come with you, could I? I was underage and I know that I would have been a distraction to you. Even today, I knew that you would be both delighted and horrified to see me. I needed to see you, future boy, today, because you acknowledge what he won't or, rather, can't. I can't function properly without you. Oh yes, I can be brave, beautiful, and be the strong, warrior woman with her wild red hair matching her fiery character..." Harry snorted in amusement, but she continued, "...but deep down I'm still the little girl you rescued and I will be until he's dead. Like you, I can't live whilst he's around."
For a few moments neither of them spoke, each both content to enjoy this moment of calm in the maelstrom of their existence. Their peace was broken by the sound of hurried footsteps coming down the corridor from the same direction she had.
"That will be my parents," she said matter-of-factly as she disentangled herself from him. "We need to hide."
She pulled him into an alcove. He fished the Cloak out of his pocket and tried to cover them with it.
"Too small, eh? Let's try it this way."
To his surprise she sat on his lap and wrapped her arms around him. As the Cloak finally covered them, her parents ran past, their voices frantic as they discussed where she might be.
"Goodbye, future boy." She kissed him and it seemed to him that she poured into it all her hopes and fears about their future.
"Will I see you again?"
"Maybe. Perhaps, in the future, we have hours and days and maybe years in which to talk. And do more of this."
She was kissing him again as the castle faded and he found himself still sitting on his bed. He looked down at the floor and was relieved to see that the locket was still where he'd left it.
"Back again, Harry?"
He whirled around, his wand pointing at the intruder.
"Ginny? Is that you?" She looked older than the Ginny he knew, the Ginny that was curled up alongside him, the other him, in the bed before him. And more beautiful, if that were possible.
"It is, future boy."
"But how are you here?"
"Because of this." She reached inside her robes and pulled out what looked like an exact copy of the Time-Turner he'd been using. He reached inside his robes but to his horror the Time-Turner had gone.
"You stole it from me, give it back!"
"No, Harry, I didn't steal it from you. I gave it to you."
"No one gave it to me, I found it."
"Yes, just behind a willow tree after three hours of the most hopeless fishing I've ever seen."
"I got five fish that day."
"Yes, five fish all caught with a spell you'd never heard of before. And all caught after you'd found the Time-Turner."
"I slipped a memory in whilst you were looking at my invention."
"You invented it?"
"Don't be so surprised, future boy, Hermione isn't the only woman you know who has brains."
"Because I needed it. I needed you to know how I felt. I couldn't bear the thought of you and me spending years trying to overcome all the issues our time away created and the pressures on us all afterwards, with the deaths, the demands of the Ministry and everyone else. I needed to know that whatever happened at the end, you and I understood each other, and even if it did take us a while to sort things out, we would."
"So did I change the future?"
"No, we did."
"How do you know? I mean, if it has been changed, then the other future wouldn't exist, would it?"
"I had dreams, terrible dreams where we did nothing but argue and I was jealous of the demands everyone placed on you and you wouldn't believe me that Michael Corner and Neville were nothing to me. And, well, I woke up before I got to the end. I couldn't have imagined a worse situation even if Riddle had lived."
"You mean he doesn't?"
"Of course not. Why do you think we are both sleeping happily in her bed in Gryffindor Tower?"
"But if I won, why didn't we just get on with our lives?"
"We did, eventually. It took me seven years to work out what to do."
"Seems an apt number doesn't it? One night my dream changed. We'd been at Hermione's watching some film thing, you know one of the Muggle things with sound as well as moving pictures. I wasn't really paying attention as I was angry at her for taking your side in our latest argument. Anyway, the thing was ending and there was a smashed car and a flying train and some old bloke pontificating on the nature of time. We argued again on the way home and you went back to Grimmauld Place and I went back to The Burrow."
"When I awoke, I was curled up with you in our bedroom in a vastly different number twelve. And I was pregnant."
"And my knowing all this won't mess it all up?"
"Who knows, Harry? Perhaps, but I'm willing to take that chance."
"Will I see you again?"
"Of course you will; after all, my son needs his daddy."
The couple in the bed began to stir and Harry sensed that his time was up.
"Goodbye, future boy."
He was back in the tent, his head spinning with all that Ginny had told him, but before he could even begin to work it all out, Hermione burst into his room.
"Come on, Potter, time to get to work!"
She pulled him off the bed and dragged him into the main body of the tent.
"I've made breakfast."
She had, and it was more than he'd seen to eat at one sitting since Ginny had filched a pie from The Burrow's pantry.
"You know, Harry, if I had a dog, I'd probably call him Einstein."