A visit to a new realm and the meeting of an old friend.
The Realm of the Veil
The time had finally come for Harry to leave as everyone gathered to see him off. Cautiously, he began to open the portal to the prison realm as he concentrated on cracking the barriers between the realms. Once he was satisfied that there was a crack deep enough to pierce, he raised his arms in front of him and began to pry apart a crack only he could see.
Soon a pale light began to spill out from a three foot gash in the air. After a bit more effort on Harry's part, gusts of wind and sand began to blow in on the silent observers. A couple of minutes later, the portal was completed as a large three foot window seemed to float in front of Harry. The walls of the barrier were clearly defined as a six inch border within the portal, as light seemed to flow from the ruptured wall like fog. Through the barrier wall, everyone had a bird's eye view of fields of sand broken only by walls of sandstone rising from deep below. At the moment, a sandstorm seemed to be taking residence outside of the portal as if in an attempt to hold off the intruders. The scene carried with it a feeling of hopelessness as everyone stared at the desert labyrinth before them.
The prison was ingenious; an endless labyrinth lay below with the occasional oasis spotted every dozen miles when it wasn't blocked by the storm. Harry slowly turned from the sight with his jaw hanging open in shock.
"How am I supposed to find Sirius in that? He could be anywhere if he isn't dead already from the dessert heat." Harry asked quietly.
The looks on everyone's faces was no help whatsoever, everyone was just as surprised as Harry was. From what everybody had read of the prison realm, it was only a prison guarded by elemental golems. Everyone had assumed that it would be a stone fortress with perhaps a few earth golems guarding within the walls, not this.
With a sigh, Harry began to say his goodbyes to his friends. Once everyone was able to take their eyes off of the sight before them, they hugged him goodbye with the occasional threat of bodily harm if he didn't come back safe and sound to visit them. Sarah and Xander were holding each other as they both tried not to cry, while everyone else just grinned behind their backs. They had obviously talked everything out during their forced time in the infirmary, not that they were complaining now.
Once Harry had said his goodbyes, he turned to the portal and spread his leathery wings out for the dive. Taking a couple of deep breaths, he dove through the barrier headfirst. Once he was through, he was instantly buffeted by the heavy winds and flying sand. Seeing his chance, he pumped his wings as hard as he could and shot towards the bright light spilling out of the ruptured barrier. Pivoting in the air with his wings, he slowly closed the portal by grasping the edges and pulling them together again giving his worried friends a last glimpse as his face screwed up in concentration.
Once the crack was fixed, Harry began to struggle for control as he was thrown violently by the winds. After nearly half and hour of constantly being blown about by the swirling winds, he was finally able to clear the storm as he flew towards the ground nearly unconscious.
Several hours after he had reached the ground, he awoke to find himself half buried in sand leaning against one of the labyrinth walls. After taking stock of any injuries he may have sustained, he began to examine his surroundings with curiosity. All manner of dessert creatures roamed the sandy dunes as the sun's heat beat mercilessly down upon them. But, there did not seem to be any sign of human life in this part. Harry doubted seriously that there would be another living person in this inferno other than Sirius, as this realm had not been used since the times before the founders of Hogwarts. Gathering his wings, Harry shook the sand off before flying into the sky above for the nearest oasis and to start his search.
Days later, Harry had yet to find any real trace of Sirius within the sands. He had found tracks that could have been human, but the winds had altered the shape so that he could not be positive. The cold nights had been spent in a transfigured tent going over maps he had created with spells. So far he had covered nearly two hundred square miles in a little over a week, but he could still sense Sirius's presence out there, always just out of reach.
One morning, after leaving a rather large oasis, Harry was flying overhead when he spotted some activity within the sand below. Curving his wings downward, Harry swooped below for a closer look. A large sand golem had taken form and was now attacking a ragged and exhausted man. (If you have ever played the Playstation game 'Final Fantasy IX', it looks like the plants with the cage in their belly, just made of sand instead.)
'Finally!' Harry thought as he landed between the man and the golem. At the sight of the winged being appearing before him, Sirius's eyes bulged in shock.
**A few minutes earlier**
Sirius was tiring quickly, this golem was larger and more powerful than all the rest he had previously escaped from. As he dodged yet another wave of sand being thrown by the monster, he spotted a large black bird heading his way.
Seconds later, as he gathered his feet to avoid another attack, he felt the ground shudder as an enormous black winged figure landed between him and the golem. The golem sensing the change of opponents, threw a barrage of sand attacks with every intention of bringing down this new threat quickly.
The figure merely flicked his fingers and a blue shield appeared catching the sand. With a wave of his hand, the sand creature was blown away by gale force winds, rivaling even the sandstorm that this world hosted. Satisfied, the figure turned to Sirius with a smile.
"Having fun Sirius? I have been looking everywhere for you." Harry grinned.
Sirius's mind went blank. How could this be? He had not seen another human being for over six months, and here was his godson here to rescue him. How had Harry gotten so powerful in such a short time? Never mind that, what was he doing here in this place, and why did he look so different?
"Ha...Harry... Please tell me you didn't come after me through the veil!" Sirius gasped in horror. He would have given anything to make sure that Harry was safe, and the foolish boy had followed him through into this living hell.
"A lot has changed since you have been gone, Sirius. For you and the rest of the world only six months have passed, for me it has been over two years. I know the prophesy that had my parents going into hiding, I know my destiny now." Harry replied sadly, his smile had disappeared after seeing the look on Sirius's face. "If you are willing, we can leave this place at any time."
The chance to escape from this hellhole would have anyone willing to trade even their soul for the opportunity. But, Sirius still had enough wits about him to question such a gift. To much good luck would not come without repercussions in his experience. Glancing suspiciously at the tall winged man before him, he examined his choices before replying.
"Do you honestly expect me to drop everything and follow you? For all I know you could be another trick of the desert trying to take my life faster. If you really are my godson as you claim, then spend the time to convince me of your intentions. You are too different from the Harry I remember to immediately trust."
Harry laughed lightly at the response; he would have expected nothing more from someone who spent so much time with Mad Eye Moody while locked up in the headquarters of the Order. Nodding his head in agreement, he indicated the oasis in the distance that he had left earlier.
"Well, while you are trying to figure the new me out, why don't we head out of the heat for a while? These black wings are great for shade, but they aren't exactly keeping me cool you know."
A few days later, Sirius was convinced that this was his godson. Harry may have changed, but underneath the new layers he was still the boy that would laugh happily at a story of his parents or the Marauders famous pranks. Other than the obvious changes within his power and appearance, Harry also had grown up. He was no longer the boy that would rush off into a fight without thinking of the repercussions. Although he did put some of his newfound maturity aside momentarily once they became close enough, to Sirius it felt like he was conspiring with James once more until he would remember that it was his son.
As soon as Sirius was sure of his decision of who Harry truly was, he held no qualms of leaving the dessert pronto. Quickly banishing the transfigured tent once more, Harry opened the portal once more. At the sight of the portal being pried apart, Sirius's eyes had looked like they wanted to pop out once more as he watched the magic flow from the realm barriers. Absently Harry wondered how many more shocks Sirius would be able to handle before everything had settled down, at least to a more comfortable pace.
Once the portal was large enough, a view of the sky over the village of Hogsmead was visible. Ignoring Harry's muttering of his portals entrances always being too high, Sirius curiously leaned through the visibly glowing mists coming from the edges. Sticking his head through the rip he was able to glimpse a better view of his surroundings, he also noticed that the portal on this side appeared as two dimensional. Reaching out with his hand, he curled his fingers around the edge only to discover the edge was paper thin as he felt along the edges.
While Sirius was busy examining the portal, Harry was fighting his conscience over whether to take the opportunity that had just presented itself. Smiling evilly, he sided with the imaginary red horned devil on his shoulder that looked remarkably like him, as he stepped forward and pushed Sirius the rest of the way out of the gateway. Hearing him scream in surprise as he fell, Harry dove after him unfurling his wings as he laughed in glee.
Catching up to the flailing man below, Harry flew below Sirius's freefall while giving a maniacal grin that stretched from ear to ear before grabbing him and pulling up before the rushing earth. Hardly able to fly straight due to his laughing, Harry placed a wheezing Sirius on the ground as he began to roll on the ground in his hysterics. After a few minutes to catch his breath, Sirius joined the young man as he saw the humor in the situation; given a chance like that, he wasn't sure he would have been able to hold back either.
Finally Harry rolled onto his back panting heavily as he wiped a tear from his eye. Focusing on the soft chuckles near him, he smiled over at Sirius before opening his mouth to apologize.
Holding up his hand, Sirius shook his head as he smirked. "Don't feel bad, it took me a little bit to get over the surprise but I have to admit, that has got to be one of the best pranks ever pulled on me. James wouldn't have been able to top one like that. Just don't do it to me again, I'm getting too old for that kind of excitement."
Climbing to his feet, Harry clapped his hands on the older man's shoulder as he steered them towards the Hogwart's castle. As they hiked through the rough Scottish terrain, they joked back and forth as all if there wasn't a care in the world.
Reaching the Hogwarts grounds a couple of hours later, they had instantly sobered at the sight of the ancient stone citadel before them. It appeared abandoned, although they both knew that that would never happen. Even Hagrid's cabin appeared empty. Due to the time of year, there should have been pumpkins rivaling the sheer structure of the half-giants home, yet there was nothing but weeds covering the small garden.
"What's happened here? I can feel life within the castle, but it looks like no one has stepped foot out for months. Hagrid doesn't even have any pumpkins growing for the Halloween feast this year." Turning to face a sullen Sirius, Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously. "I think a lot more has been going on that I originally thought. We may have to delay our rising from the dead for a few days; I want to get a gist of what Voldemort has been up too. If things look this bad, then he must have become fully active since I've been gone."
Sirius nodded solemnly as he tore his eyes from his old school only to shutter at the sight of the glowing angry green eyes before him. "We should stick around here though, if anything happens we can be nearby to help quickly. I'll go into Hogsmead and see what I can find out as Padfoot. Why don't you get a tent started, when I get back I'll show you how to make a real wizards tent instead of that plain one you had earlier."
Harry smiled at the obvious attempt to lighten the mood, but his eyes did not lose their edge. He knew Sirius was trying to protect him by going out on his own while trying to keep Harry away from harm's way. But this time Harry didn't mind, while he was waiting for Sirius to get back he would be able to come up with a plan to spy on Voldemort to find out just what he had missed.
He knew that with the training he had received from Guran that Voldemort would not be able to break into his mind or even know that he had returned. The connection that connected the two enemies had been easy to manipulate once Harry had crossed the realms. The bond had been weakened heavily but was in no way close to being severed. Once Harry had been able to find his magic core after several months of trial and error, he had been able to mold the link to his liking. The link had been damaged to a point where it could never be as strong as it had been before when Voldemort was able to send the false images of Sirius being tortured. Now the only intrusion that was possible between Voldemort and Harry, was under the latter's control. He would be able to watch any Deatheater meetings without notice, without Voldemort knowing.
It was nearing nightfall when a shaggy black dog nosed his way into the small tent that Harry had conjured out of a twig. Spotting Harry sitting in the corner with a pensive look in his eyes, Padfoot changed back into his human form before reaching a wary hand out to rest on his godson's shoulder.
Expecting Harry to jump from the touch, he was surprised when the younger man merely sighed wearily before he spoke softly.
"I know what I have to do, so I don't want you to try to stop me. I'm going to spy on a few of Voldemort's meetings and see what I can find out. I've tweaked our little connection a bit, he won't know that I'm even there, for that matter he won't be able to sense me at all anymore. Don't worry, I'm not stupid enough to go up against him right now when I don't know his potential at the moment. But this is the best way to find out what is going on without revealing ourselves yet. I know what you are thinking, but you can't stop me, this is something that I need to do."
Sirius had opened his mouth to interrupt when Harry had spoken his last words successfully guessing what he was about to say.
An uncomfortable silence followed before Sirius jumped up from the spot where he had been sitting with an excited look in his eye.
"Enough of this seriousness, how about I teach you how to fix this place up properly? I've had it with being serious all of the time, so let's have some fun for a while before the unpleasantries begin. Now the first thing that you will have to do to enlarge the interior or the space you want to work in is to..."
Losing himself in the infectious mood that his godfather was in, Harry forgot about his problems for the time being and turned his attention to creating a mansion inside the small tent they were in.
The Monday two weeks before Christmas Eve, dawned on a cloudy and dreary day for the occupants of Hogwarts only getting worse as the day dragged on. The sloping grounds were cloaked in a deep, rich fog as the heavy clouds above threatened to let loose with the much anticipated snow the students had been hoping for.
Sitting in the Great Hall eating her dinner a couple of hours after her last class, Ginny suddenly sat up and wrenched her seat back as she scrabbled to her feet sending a few carrots flying as she did. With a strange gleam in her dark chocolate eyes, she skidded out of the Great Hall in a blur of long red hair and billowing robes.
Ron looked up from his plate with his cheeks puffed out from his food as Hermione looked up from the book she was reading. Not a word was spoken as the two exchanged glances with sad, knowing eyes. Ginny's personality was becoming unpredictable, they had no idea before this summer that Harry and Ginny had such a bond between them. Hermione had explained her theory once to Ron over dinner a few weeks before. It seemed that when Harry had rescued Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets, a bond of sorts had connected the two even though both of them were unaware of it. So when Harry died over the summer, the link had been torn from her mind, no doubt causing some form of damage.
Racing to the entrance, Ginny slowed to check for any stragglers coming to dinner before unlocking the entrance doors with a complicated charm she had overheard Dumbledore use once. Slipping noiselessly between the ancient doors, she paused as she concentrated on trying to locate the presence she had felt earlier. Frowning slightly, she screwed her face up as she realized that she no longer felt it near her. Sighing heavily, Ginny turned to go back before realizing that she really didn't want to have to deal with the hidden stares and whispers tonight before walking blindly into the thick fog before her.
The night was cold and foggy with the full moon shining brightly; small snowflakes lazily spiraled in the air as Ginny slowly walked along the lake's shoreline sometime later in her long black cloak. She had grown accustomed to these quiet walks at night but the bitter cold this evening was quickly making her regret her hasty decision earlier.
If anyone knew that she was outside at the moment or that she snuck out of her room at night they would stun her on the spot, it was incredibly dangerous to be out alone during these times. It wasn't that she was looking for trouble; it just helped to get away and think through everything going on in her life as well as the presence that she had felt earlier tonight.
Spotting a rock jutting out of the frozen embankment ahead, Ginny slowly crunched over the icy ground while pulling her cloak tighter in an attempt to warm up a little. Reaching the rock she cautiously glanced around before sitting down on the cold surface.
Unbeknownst to Ginny, she was being watched intently from the deep shadows of the surrounding woods. Harry had returned earlier from spying on a small Death Eater meeting at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade to see how things were going here. He had not expected to find someone out alone, especially not Ginny. Seeing her brought back all the feelings that he had tried ruthlessly to crush while he had been training. Xander and Sarah had been right; he had realized his feelings for Ginny were not completely brotherly some time ago.
Shaking his head vigorously to clear it, Harry made a decision he knew that he may regret later. But he couldn't leave her out here alone, especially when she looked so sad and lonely.
Cautiously, Harry stepped out from the trees towards the small redhead he had thought of so much during his time away. Halfway to her, he paused; Ginny had stiffened suddenly, almost as though she had felt something. The air seemed to bring with it a strange tingle the closer he came to her.
Ginny closed her eyes as she felt the night air shift around her; she knew that presence without a doubt. Straightening up slowly, she let out a shaky breathe.
"Harry." She whispered softly. She was afraid to turn, afraid that she was just imagining this feeling, but she knew that this was no dream. Gathering her courage, Ginny slowly rose from her seat and turned. Standing several feet away was a cloaked figure enshrouded in dense fog; a slight breeze had risen and was playing with the edges of the dark fabric as the tingle felt between them earlier threatened to start shooting sparks at any moment.
Harry's surprise at Ginny speaking his name before she even saw him had triggered a lapse of his control over his elements. Before anything more than a slight breeze could pick up, he squashed the escaping energy completely. While Harry was concentrating on controlling his runaway powers, Ginny had edged closer and was now able to make out this mysterious figure more clearly as she caught sight of his emerald green eyes.
Once she was positive it was not just her emotions running wild, Ginny flung herself into Harry's arms with a bear hug that would have made Mrs. Weasley proud.
"I knew you were alive, I just knew it!" Straightening up slowly from the bone-crushing embrace with tears streaming down her face, she pulled her hand back and slugged Harry in the shoulder. "Where have you been? Don't you ever do that again, you had everyone thinking that you were dead! I have half a mind to bat bogie hex you into next week!"
Harry smiled as he heard the lighthearted threat; it was such a typical Ginny response. But, his brows furrowed as he noticed her shoulders begin to shake after her rant. He watched in horror as tears began to pour down her cheeks. Suddenly panicked after remembering what had happened the last time a girl had begun to cry on him, he hugged her tightly hoping that she would calm as a wave of guilt washed over him. Ginny had always been so strong, the only time he had ever seen her cry was down in the Chamber of Secrets her first year.
Feeling her sobs begin to subside, Harry heard a small voice from his chest and had to strain to catch her words. "They all thought that I was crazy for saying that you were still alive, but I knew... I knew that you couldn't be dead. I've always known. Please don't leave us again.. I.. I don't know if I could handle going through this again." Ginny trailed off near the end of her short rant, but Harry had heard every heartfelt word.
What did she mean by everyone thinking that she was crazy? But right now was not the time to think of that. He needed to get out of the open before someone else found him or they both froze to death. Subconsciously, he knew that seeing them was not possible though, the fog was too thick to see anymore than a few feet in front of them. Someone would have to know exactly where he was to have any chance of finding him.
Stepping back with a shy smile, he held out his hand for her to take before he led her towards the forest edge and to the shelter of the newly constructed tent he had set up below a grouping of trees. To any passersby the tent would only appear as a large clump of prickly shrubs. Leading her through the entrance, she stopped in awe at the sight of the grand entrance hall beyond. Ginny had been in a few wizarding tents before when her father was able to borrow one from a friend, the one for the Quidditch cup had been the grandest. But all of those had seemed like they would be an average size home, this one was the size of a mansion.
Seeing her awed expression, he laughed lightly, not even realizing that neither had let go of each others hands. Just then Sirius appeared around a corner with a transfigured book in one hand and a half eaten sandwich in the other.
"Ah, I thought I heard you come back, Harry." Seeing Ginny standing next to him still holding Harry's hand, he grinned slyly. "Hello Ginny, knew Harry wouldn't be able to go long without seeing you, not with the way he always brings you up in conversations."
Glancing at Harry but missing the deeply blushed face and the warning look he was giving his godfather, Ginny whipped her head back towards Sirius before she was able to stutter a response back.
"Si...Sirius?! How is this possible, we all saw you die! I...I think that I need to sit down for a second, this is all too much to handle at once."
Ok, here is the other version that I had written for when Ginny and Harry meet, let me know if you like it better.
Racing to the entrance, Ginny slowed to check for any stragglers to lunch before unlocking the entrance doors with a complicated charm she had overheard Dumbledore use once. Slipping between the doors, she paused as she concentrated on the presence she had felt earlier before running into the thick fog before her.
When she neared the edge of the lake, the fog thinned out slightly revealing the back of a tall dark haired man looking out over the waters of the calm lake before him. Ginny paused a few feet from the man, as a strange energy filled the damp air around them. Sensing her presence and the strange energy build up from behind him, the man looked up from the lake and slowly turned his head towards Ginny.
Ginny gasped as she looked into the deep emerald eyes of the man before her. Only one person had eyes that color of green, she wasn't going crazy after all, Harry was alive! Just to make sure that she wasn't dreaming, she pinched her arm all the same.
Harry froze when he saw Ginny standing behind him, her eyes shining with tears but with a small smile playing on the corner of her lips. How could she know that he was here, for that matter, even alive still? But yet, that pull he had felt for so long was stronger than ever when he looked into her eyes.
"Ginny." He whispered softly as he turned to face her, trying desperately to fight the impulse to reach out and pull her to him.
Hearing him whisper her name sent tingles dancing along her spine, it felt so right, so comfortable as though she was coming home after being gone for years on end. Following this feeling, she took a hesitant step forward, and then another, before she knew it, she had thrown her arms around him as she buried her face in his chest.
Wrapping his arms tightly around her tiny figure, Harry buried his face into her dark red hair as a sense of peace flowed through him. Yes, everything would turn out alright, nothing mattered right now except the small girl he held tightly in his arms. Feeling Ginny stir slightly within his grasp, he loosened his hold as she looked up into his face.
"Please don't leave me again." She whispered quietly before burying her head into him once more as her muffled voice spoke once more. "You had better have a good explanation for everything or I'll...I'll. Oh Harry, I missed you so much, everyone thought I was going crazy when I kept telling them that you were alive. But I knew... I could always feel you just out of reach."
Harry smiled as he heard the lighthearted threat; it was such a typical Ginny response. But, his brows furrowed as he thought on her last words. She was right; he felt the same with her. But what did she mean by everyone thinking that she was crazy? But right now was not the time to think of that. He needed to get out of the open before someone else found him. Subconsciously, he knew that was not possible though, the fog was too thick to see anymore than a couple of feet in front. Someone would have to know exactly where he was to have any chance of finding him.
Stepping back with a shy smile, he held out his hand for her to take before he led her towards the forest edge and to the shelter of the wizarding tent he had set up below a grouping of trees. To any passerby's the tent would only appear as a large clump of prickly shrubs. Leading her through the entrance, she stopped in awe at the sight of the grand entrance hall beyond. Ginny had been in a few wizarding tents before when her father was able to borrow one from a friend. But all of those had seemed like they would be an average size home, this one was the size of a mansion.
Seeing her awed expression, he laughed lightly before pulling her close to him as Sirius appeared around a corner.
"Ah, I thought I heard you come back, Harry." Seeing Ginny with him and with their arms around each other, he grinned slyly. "Hello Ginny, knew Harry wouldn't be able to go long without seeing you, not with the way he always brings you up in conversations."
Glancing at Harry's deeply blushed face, Ginny whipped her head back towards Sirius before she was able to stutter a response back.
"Si...Sirius! How is this possible, we all saw you die! I...I think that I need to sit down for a second, this is all too much to handle at once."