With Dumbledore ignoring him, Snape and Umbridge tormenting him, and unwanted visions from Voldemort as well; Harry turns to the Room of Requirement for help and finds something very strange.
Harry lay awake in bed, exhausted, yet still unable to sleep. The words of the prophecy continued to play through his head, and they appeared to be undeniable.
Not that Hermione hadn't tried of course. Upon hearing that her best friend was the one destined to face Voldemort she'd tried arguing with the guy about it. But after a couple of minutes he'd just told her to read it for herself if she didn't believe him.
She'd jumped off the book she'd tucked under her leg as though it had turned into a snake, but still picked it up and eventually read the prophecy for herself. Unexpectedly, she'd then thrown the book as hard as she could at Bruce, before running out of the room.
He'd tried to apologise to Bruce for his friend though, but he'd just shrugged it off before asking for a healing spell to fix the nasty bruise he'd received on his shoulder where the book hit it. Thus it was that Harry learned his first healing spell, Episkey, from a Muggle.
Wanting to follow Hermione, he then said a quick goodbye after saying he'd be back the next night. He had paused when he realised that there was something obviously bothering Bruce. He had given him a strange look and had opened his mouth a couple of times as though about to ask him something, but not knowing what to say.
He asked the guy what he wanted, wondering why he had an almost scared expression on his face.
"What do you think will happen to me when you leave the room?" he'd asked.
The question had thrown him for a minute, since he hadn't given it a second thought.
"Uh, no idea, actually. How about I wish for the room to stay as it is until I return?" he'd offered, not knowing what else he could do.
"Cheers for that. Guess I'll see you tomorrow then?" the guy had replied, appearing only slightly relieved. Still, there wasn't anything else that could be done short of having someone stay with him all the time, and there were classes the next day.
Harry spun around in his bed again, punching the pillow to try and get more comfortable. He hadn't managed to catch up with Hermione after leaving the room, so had just headed up to bed for some needed sleep.
'To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub! But first I have to get to sleep!' he mused.
Fifteen minutes later he gave it up as a hopeless cause. Getting out of bed, he put on his dressing gown and headed for a sofa in the common room.
He found Hermione sitting on one of the sofas in front of the fire, with her feet up on the seat and her arms wrapped around her knees, staring at the low flames.
"Hey, Hermione. Can't sleep either?" Harry said in greeting as he took a seat beside her.
Hermione shook her head and returned to staring at the flames morosely.
Harry sat in awkward silence for a bit, not really knowing what to say and hoping Hermione would start a conversation. Eventually he asked "Want to talk about it?"
"What's to talk about? Somehow we've got to get you trained up to defeat a dark lord who's been killing people and learning dark magic since before you were born, or else he'll kill you, and I don't know how to do that!"
"Oh. Why are you so worried about that now?" he asked, honestly confused.
"Why? WHY! Because I don't want to lose my best friend, you prat!"
Harry couldn't help himself and started to chuckle. "Don't you remember what he said? Well, maybe he forgot to mention it in his recap to you, but before you came in the room, he told me that Voldemort dies, and I live!"
Hermione's head whipped around and stared at him, and then a truly frightening look appeared on her face. "AND YOU'RE ONLY TELLING ME THIS NOW?" She screamed at him. "HOW COULD–"
Harry put a hand over her mouth to stop her yelling. "Shush, Hermione, not so loud! You'll wake everyone up."
He pulled his hand away slowly and she hissed furiously at him. "I can't believe you would let me go on thinking that you were going to die!"
"Sorry, Hermione," he began, almost out of habit, "I didn't realise you–" he broke off as he realised something and felt a little indignant. "Hey, hang on. You took off out of the room straight after hearing the prophecy, and you must have run straight to your dorm room since that's where the map placed you when I tried to find you. So when was I supposed to say anything?"
Hermione continued to stare at him angrily. "That's not the point! You could have… No, you should have… I mean…" Hermione trailed off and her angry look changed to one of defeat as she realised it wasn't Harry's fault she'd spent hours sobbing into her pillow. "You're right. I'm sorry, Harry," she admitted.
"It's okay. I'd probably have reacted the same way if the positions had been reversed." He grinned as a thought occurred to him. "I suspect you would have gone charging up to my dorm with a 'Harry James Potter, you get out of that bed this instant and talk to me!'"
She smiled back at him. "That sounds about right." Hermione looked at him for a moment, before asking "So why can't you sleep then?"
"Well, it's not every day you hear that there is a prophecy that says you're the only one that can defeat a dark lord is it?"
There was a gasp from the stairwell and they both turned to see Ginny staring at Harry, and looking completely shocked at what she'd just overheard. "W-what did you just say?
"Oh, bugger!" Harry muttered.
As Harry entered the Room of Requirement, he was relieved to find the bedroom much as he left it, though Bruce had moved from the bed to his desk and was looking intently at his computer monitor.
The guy turned around startled as he realised he had visitors. "Fu– bloody hell! You don't mind scaring a bloke do ya? You guys wanna think about knocking next time?"
As Harry moved into the room followed by the two girls, the guy's eyes wandered as he took in Ginny's appearance. "Well, that explains a lot!" Harry heard him mutter cryptically.
"So, Harry, do you want to introduce me to Ginny then?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah, okay. Ginny this is Bruce, apparently."
Ginny turned from her inspection of Bruce and his room to Harry. "What do you mean by apparently?"
"Well, he made a point of saying that although we could call him that, he hadn't actually said that Bruce was his name," Hermione replied, as though Harry had taken too long to respond.
Ginny's head turned back to Bruce, thinking. "So what should I call you then?"
Bruce got up and moved towards her, taking her hand and kissing it as he'd done with Hermione hours earlier. "Darlin' you can call me anything you like, anytime you want. My preferences would be something like 'Stud Muffin' or 'Lover', but it's up to you."
Ginny snatched her hand from where he loosely held her fingers, and snarled back her reply. "How about 'arrogant arse'? Does that work for you?"
"Whatever pleases you, babe. Really, anything I can do to please you, you just let me know."
"I'll be sure and call on you when I need a practice dummy for my–"
"Bat bogey hex?" The guy said interrupting. "That's two! Awesome!"
Fortunately, Harry's seeker reflexes were still sharp enough for him to grab Ginny's arm before she could get her wand clear and hex the guy. He looked at him with some exasperation. "You might want to keep in mind that the women around here carry wands, so it's not just a slap in the face you can expect when you pull that shite."
"But it was worth it – she's a total babe! I mean, just look at–"
"Shut it!" Harry yelled, now drawing his own wand and pointing it at the guy, before lowering it a couple of seconds later and shaking his head. "What's wrong with you?"
The guy looked at him, and then gave a shrug. "You know, as much as you might find it hard to believe that I'm real, I have exactly the same problem with you, and that goes for your friends as well."
He turned around and walked back to his chair, then waved them over to sit on his bed while he sat down. He looked at Ginny when he spoke again. "Sorry, Ginny, I didn't mean anything by what I was said before. Did Harry tell you anything about me?"
"Not a lot. I kinda insisted that he show me before he got too far in his story."
He nodded. "Okay, well the short story is from my perspective it's March 2012, and all of you are just characters in a series of books I've been reading for a few years. Not only that, but I've been reading a heap of stories written by other fans of the books as well. So in a way, it's like I already know you all, and you're friends of mine, rather than strangers. Hermione can probably understand that best, can't you?" he asked, turning to Hermione.
Hermione thought about it for a minute before eventually nodding. "I suppose if I met up with… err, Frodo for example, then I would behave as if I knew him already."
"Exactly! So Ginny, as I said I didn't mean anything by it. To me, it was like I was just teasing one of my friends. I'm sorry."
Ginny nodded. "You're still an arse though."
"And you're still a babe, but I'll try to behave myself." He told her, grinning.
"Now what can I do for you all? It must still be night for you, unless time passes differently out there than in here?"
"…So then Harry says something like 'I've had enough trouble for a lifetime' and that's pretty much the end of the story."
"'Pretty much' implies there's more you know." Hermione said a little suspiciously after Bruce concluded summarising the seventh book.
"Yeah, well all that's left is a little epilogue, parents seeing their kids off onto the Hogwarts Express, that's all."
Hermione's eyes flicked to Harry before returning to Bruce. "I see… And, umm, was I… I mean, did–"
"Hermione, don't you think that's cheating a little? If you want a particular someone to be your hubby and to father your kids, I suggest you simply make your move before anyone else does. Make sense?"
Hermione nodded, and sat thinking about what he said for a minute, then a frown appeared on her face as she considered the possible meaning behind his comment when he first saw Ginny. She looked up at him questioningly and thought she saw the tiniest of nods.
"Right then!" Hermione said, before taking a deep breath. She turned to Harry who was sitting on her right. "Harry, I want them to be ours."
Harry blinked at her. "What?"
"On the Express. I want them to be our children that we're seeing off. Yours and mine. That's the epilogue I want."
Bruce let out a cry of exasperation. "Geeesus you're thick sometimes, Harry! She's as good as just proposed to you, so kiss her for God's sake!"
Harry turned from looking at Bruce back to Hermione and asked a question with his eyes. Hers were more than a little watery by now but she still seemed to understand it, and nodded slightly.
As Harry and Hermione started kissing and ignoring the others in the room, Ginny turned to Bruce with narrowed eyes. "If I were to read the epilogue you mentioned, whose children would I be waving off?
"You really don't expect me to answer that do you?" he replied, smirking
"Yeah, I really bloody do!"
"Is that so? Well what if it turned out that you'd been slipped some Amortentia by Draco Malfoy, would you still want to know then?"
"What? No way!" she said indignantly.
Bruce shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not. I'm just saying there are some things you might not want to know. Still, it couldn't hurt if the ferret was hit with a permanent impotence spell anyway, right? Or potion maybe? They do have that, don't they? If not, I'm sure your brothers could whip up something suitable."
Ginny nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, they probably could. I'll have a chat with them tomorrow."
Bruce hid his smile while internally thinking things could not have gone any better if he'd planned them.
"Are they going to surface any time soon?" Ginny asked Bruce, while looking at the couple still kissing passionately next to her.
"Why are you asking me? Besides, what do you care? You're seeing Michael Corner aren't you?"
She nodded. "Yeah, but… hey, what else do you know about me?"
"Hmm? Oh, not much. So, tell me about some of the other Gryffindors. How about we start with Dean?"
Ginny gave him a shrewd look. "Dean, huh? Alright, we'll see." She looked over at Harry and Hermione who were still oblivious to anything going on around them. Fortunately that seemed to also include realising they were sitting on a bed, otherwise things could start getting embarrassing.
She leaned in closer to the two before telling Bruce a little louder than necessary. "Well, it's way past time to get to bed since we have classes in the morning. I think we'll head off now."
Bruce grinned, though Harry and Hermione ignored her completely.
"I SAID, IT'S TIME TO–" She began before realising she was wasting her breath. Drawing her wand she aimed at them and cast the Aguamenti charm.
Spluttering, the two pulled apart and stared at her in disbelief.
Pocketing her wand, Ginny ignored their looks. "It's time we got some sleep. We still have classes tomorrow – well, today – in a few hours anyway. Coming?"
"Nice trick with the wand, Blue, but you need to cast a drying charm on my bed before you go," Bruce pointed out.
"I don't know it, you'll have to ask Hermione... Hang on – why Blue?"
"You're a redhead, so… Blue!"
"What? That makes no sense at all!"
"You think I'm gonna call you 'Ginge'? That'd be way too obvious, and you'd likely hex my nuts off. So Blue it is!"
"You're mad, you are! Come on Hermione, cast that hot air charm of yours and let's go! Harry, get your cloak out."
Ginny watched as Hermione waved her wand, drying off Harry and herself, and then the bed. Putting her wand away she then stepped up to Bruce and gave him a kiss on the cheek and said a warm 'thank you', before stepping back and wrapping her arms around Harry's waist.
Harry fumbled around with his cloak with one hand, as his left now seemed glued to Hermione. Ginny glared at him before snatching it out of his hands with a frustrated cry of "Oh, give it here then!"
Draping the cloak around the three of them she heard Bruce's cheerful "Goodnight", before snarling back a suggestion on exactly what he could do with his goodnight.
Breakfast at the Gryffindor table later that morning was one for the record books. The only two people that seemed to be enjoying it were Harry and Hermione, and they were feeding each other. Lavender and Parvati were far too busy whispering to each other and giggling at the sight of the new couple to devote any real effort to their own breakfast.
Ginny spent most of her time scowling and was wielding her knife on her breakfast foods with a great deal of emphasis. Seamus, Dean and Neville were looking particularly green as they watched her spear another sausage from the platter. They winced again, unable to tear their eyes away as she took her knife to it once it reached her plate. By the end of the meal, all three boys would have a new, and surprisingly identical form for their Boggarts to take.
When Ginny finally stormed off to collect her books for class, Seamus turned and whispered to the other two Gryffindors. "Jayzus! An' oi thart 'er bat bogey hex was scary!" The other two nodded their agreement as all three of them uncrossed their legs and started trying to rub some feeling back into them.
Ron on the other hand seemed oblivious to the food on his plate and simply stared open mouthed at the behaviour of his two best friends. That he'd been in the process of eating before his jaw dropped help ruin the appetites of the unfortunate students sitting within sight of him.
The bells for first class couldn't come soon enough for them.
The guy heard the light knocking at the door and called out an invitation to come in. As the door opened, Harry and Hermione walked in hand-in-hand, followed by Ginny. He looked past them to see if anyone else was going to follow them in, but Ginny simply closed the door behind her once she'd entered.
He gave them a meaningful look, which they ignored in favour of commenting on him being up and awake. "We thought you might still be asleep actually. If we'd known you'd be up we could have come earlier." Hermione said.
"Actually, I just didn't want to take the chance your radio would go off again where I could hear it." Harry said, smiling.
"Yeah, well what's the point of having the radio tuned to something you want to listen to? You'd just lie there listening to it instead of getting up, that's just bl– err, stupid."
"Good point." Harry agreed, and then winced as Ginny poked him. "Uh, so anyway, you were talking about some other stories you'd read where things had changed?"
The guy nodded. "Yup, fan fiction. Best thing ever in my opinion, though I have to say there is a lot of it that isn't even good enough to serve as, umm, bog rolls I guess you'd call 'em."
"Really?" Harry asked, surprised.
"Absolutely. For example, did you know that Draco was part-Veela, and you have to marry him and bear his children?"
"Why are you looking at me?" Harry asked, growing concerned as the guy's smirk continued to grow. "Oh, no bloody way!" he eventually yelled. "How the hell is that supposed to happen anyway?"
Hermione couldn't help but laugh at Harry's outrage, and could barely speak the lines from a movie she enjoyed. "He ha-ha-hasn't got a wo-wo-womb. Hahaha. How's the foetus gonna gestate? Is he gonna – hahaha – keep it in a box?"
The guy laughed along for a bit, before deciding to turn the tables a bit. "Yeah, there's a lot of slash out there, but it seems one of the most popular pairings are the Dramione stories."
Hermione's laughter started to fade. "The what stories? Dra– Oh, that's impossible! That's got even less chance of happening as Harry and Draco! I mean, I could understand it if they picked Ginny and Draco, because at least she's a pureblood."
"Hey! I don't want him. I don't even think Pansy does. What the hell are you nodding for? Don't tell me it's… Oh, that's disgusting!" Ginny said, and started looking as though she was about to throw up.
Harry looked thoughtful. "Who is he supposed to end up with according to the real books? Maybe we should warn her"
"I don't think you know her, though I imagine she's studying here now. It's Daphne's younger sister, Astoria Greengrass. Anyway, some of the stories are about his son, Scorpius."
"Oh, now you're just messing with our heads! Not even Draco would call his son something that stupid!" Harry insisted.
"Says the guy who called one of his sons; Albus Severus!"
"You're full of it, you are!" Harry retorted, in total disbelief.
Hermione grabbed Harry's ear and tugged on it. "WE will be discussing any names for OUR children together! Is that understood?"
"Is this really what we came here for?" Ginny asked, losing interest in the current topic. She had a sneaking suspicion that little Al's mother didn't have bushy brown hair in the original books. Then again… Albus Severus? It had to have been Snape using the Imperius curse. It was the only thing that made any sense at all. Then again, Snape wouldn't want his name attached to a Potter, so that means… it must have been Dumbledore casting the Imperius! Leader of the light side my arse!
"You're right, Ginny. So what is it you guys want to know?" the guy asked, looking around at the three of them.
Harry looked to see if either of the girls wanted to go first, before he spoke himself "Well, I guess the most obvious is, how do I get rid of Voldemort without losing all of the people that apparently died in the real books. Is there an easy way to find and eliminate the Horcruxes without spending most of a year in a tent starving? And… actually, those two are probably the most important to start with."
"Okay, fair enough. The Horcruxes shouldn't be too hard since you know pretty much where all of them are, and what to do to get rid of nearly all of them. The last couple might take a bit of work as you've no doubt guessed.
"Dumbledore could probably get the ring again, but without injuring his hand if you give him some warning ahead of time. You don't even have to worry about the cave now that you know that one is a fake, and the real one is still at Grimmauld Place. The Diadem is in this room, so maybe you can just wish up a door to the room of missing things when I'm not around
"As for the cup. Well, that might take a bit more planning given that Bellatrix isn't likely to let you into her vault. On the other hand, Bellatrix was a Black, and Kreacher was a Black family elf. Maybe if you get Tonks to use her Metamorphmagus talent to look like her aunt, she could order Kreacher to retrieve it from the vault for her?"
Hermione had been furiously taking notes as the guy talked, and as he finished she asked, "Okay, so we can recover those four fairly easily, how do we destroy them?"
The guy shrugged. "I guess there are a number of things you can try. Stabbing them all with one of the basilisk's fangs would probably do them all in, or you could use Gryffindor's sword since it is goblin made and absorbed the venom – didn't I tell you that? Anyway, you could try feeding them to a dementor or simply tossing them through the veil in the Department of Mysteries."
"The what? Oh, yeah, you did mention that." Harry replied. "So what about Nagini and… the other one."
"The other one? Oh, yeah, right. You know, I always thought the idea of you carrying a Horcrux in your head was a stupid pile of Hippogriff shit. I mean, if Quirrell couldn't handle your touch, then what hope has an itty bitty piece of his soul got stuck inside you? Still, that's how it worked out in the books, so whether it's a ridiculous plot hole or not, I suppose you can't exactly take the chance can you?" The guy pondered for a bit before continuing.
"Well, it's been treated in different ways in different fics. In one of them, you actually cast an AK at Riddle to do him in, and create your own Horcrux, with the split being between your own soul and the bit of Tom's, then you toss the Horcrux through the veil. I actually liked that solution myself, though it did seem a little bit dark."
"I'm not sure I could do that. Besides, with my luck, it'd be my soul that ends up in the Horcrux and Tom's left behind."
The guy shrugged, "Maybe. Anyway, another fic had you using one of the basilisk fangs directly on your scar until the venom acted on the Horcrux which was thought to be mostly located within it. Then once it came out, phoenix tears were used to heal you up. Along similar lines, another fic simply had a healer cut around the scar with his wand, and simply remove that bit of skin and some of the flesh underneath it. Bit messy, but it was all healed up nicely and problem solved."
Harry was looking a little green as the guy talked, and Hermione moved closer to him. "Something to think about anyway," she said, giving Harry a squeeze in support.
"So what else is on your mind?" the guy asked as the silence started to drag out.
Author's Note: I've had most of this chapter sitting around for over two years, so I thought I might as well post it. At some point I'll get back to this story, but it isn't a priority at the moment.