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Lost and Found Trilogy
Lost & Found - Part I
As always, thanks to the lovely Runsamok for a swift and thorough beta. May your hard drive never crash.
Lost and Found — part I
It took three years to find the hidden Horcruxes, and then another to get into position to fulfil his destiny. By that time, Wizarding England resembled a house gutted by fire.
Casualties in the Ministry and the Order of the Phoenix were high, as was the toll on Harry’s immediate circle. Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood left reverse shadows on a nearby wall when a fireball consumed their bodies, triggered by the destruction of the last Horcrux. Ron Weasley lost an arm, but otherwise survived intact. Hermione Granger, her sanity shattered by an over-long application of the Cruciatus curse, was confined to the long-term spell damage ward at St. Mungo’s. Fred and George Weasley survived, predictably unchanged. Their irrepressible good humour, however, flagged each year at Halloween, when they commemorated the passing of Charlie and Percy Weasley.
Harry never spoke of the last battle, which didn’t surprise Ron much; he didn’t care to dwell on it either. After Harry was discharged from St. Mungo's, he visited Ron in the rehabilitation ward every day.
"You know I’m getting out tomorrow?" Ron asked, sifting through the stack of letters that Harry had brought.
"Yeah. Your mum’s rather chuffed about having you back at The Burrow," Harry said.
"You’re going to leave, aren’t you?" Ron asked.
"It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way, you know," Ron said after a long pause.
"Yeah, it was supposed to be you and Ginny," Ron said.
"And you and Hermione, I suppose," Harry said with a wan smile. While Harry and Ginny had reunited one year into the Horcrux hunt, Ron and Hermione’s brief romance had fizzled out and they’d returned to being friends.
"Yeah, sumpin’ like that," Ron said, wiping his nose on the back of his magical hand.
"Happy endings are for fairy tales," Harry said quietly, arranging the letters into careful piles on the side table.
"What're you gonna do?" Ron asked.
"Get away," Harry replied.
"Fair enough," Ron said laconically. "Coming back?"
"Maybe — send me an invite when you and Padma christen your first sprog," Harry replied.
"We’re not like that, Harry," Ron protested.
Harry raised an eyebrow. Padma had rearranged a number of shifts at the hospital to work Ron’s physiotherapy, notwithstanding the fact that her primary Healer speciality was in trauma. Maybe Ron couldn’t see the determination in her eyes, but Harry could.
It made him smile; maybe someone else could have a life; his had certainly turned to worms.
It was time for Harry to leave.
He’d been gone five years. Every year, more or less around Ron’s birthday, Ron would receive a package which he reckoned was his birthday present from Harry. The presents gave no clue to Harry's location, but somehow Harry seemed to know what was going on in Ron’s life. When he started work as an announcer on the WWW, providing colour commentary on the Canons, the gift had been a small bronze bottle of larynx lozenges, guaranteed to reinforce the overworked voice. When he’d finally proposed to Padma, a month later he received a large quilt with a sardonic note that said "not that you’re going to have any trouble keeping warm." The latest gift was a bottle of aged Irish Firewhisky, accompanied by a note that said he should hide it from the Twins when Halloween approached.
His birthday this year had come and gone without a present. He’d wanted to worry about it, but Padma had chided him in her oh-so-sensible way, saying that Harry would return when he was ready. Ron nodded and said nothing, but resolved to bring the issue up at the next Weasley family meeting.
It was time for Harry to return.
The tourists came to Denali in May — probably because it was the biggest mountain to be climbed. He’d climbed it himself, three years ago before discovering his favourite spot not far from the incongruously named McGonagall pass. It provided a beautiful view of Denali, of course, but it provided an even better view of Mt. McGonagall, which he’d been watching for most of the afternoon. A solitary climber was attempting to scale the eastern face, which he knew from personal experience was not for the fainthearted. The climber was either a very small man or a young woman.
An older woman would have the sense to not attempt this peak alone.
He smiled, looked up at the now swiftly moving clouds and then frowned. If she didn’t make it to the ledge in the next half hour, she’d be caught in the oncoming weather. Although not as deadly as Denali, the cold and the wind on Mt. McGonagall was more than enough to kill anyone not properly sheltered.
Cheering on the climber was absorbing. Although not a betting man, he reckoned that without a mishap, she’d make it to the ledge, set up camp and then finish the ascent after daybreak tomorrow. Although he was too far away to hear the piton fail, when he saw the coloured figure drop some fifty metres in an instant, he knew that it must have given way. He prayed silently that the lower pitons would hold. They did, which meant that if she wasn’t injured and had her wits about her, she could finish the climb. The figure hung limply on the rope, swaying in an unseen wind.
"Ah, crap," he said, "why couldn’t she climb somewhere where the Park rangers could keep an eye on her?" He went back to his tent; folding back the flap to reach for the object he knew was leaning against the wall. If he left right now, he could get back before the storm blew in. He’d sort out the rest later.
He formulated a plan while he flew, snugging the strap on his goggles after getting blown sideways by a particularly savage burst of wind. He never broke visual contact with the figure dangling from the rope, willing her to remain in place. As he’d feared, the storm blew up at the worst possible time. He’d been forced to loop downwind from her location so as to have a modicum of stability while flying into the savage, cold wind. He began to hum an old forgotten tune as he reached the final approach, thinking that the King would approve, as the final manoeuvre bore a passing resemblance to the Starfish and Stick that Ron was so proud of, another lifetime ago. A total body bind would keep her spine from further damage once he grabbed her, and then he’d sever the rope that had kept her from plummeting down the mountain. After that it was flying hell for leather back to the tent. According to the plan, he planned to patch her up as best he could, Obliviating her if he had to and then leaving her for the Park Rangers after the storm blew down.
He noted with some satisfaction that the piton holding her in place was twisted, but still firmly in place. The clean-climbing purists would scorn this bit of debris left in the mountain, but then again, if she’d been using a nut, she’d be dead by now.
Back at the tent, his landing was less than elegant, but given his ungainly payload, he didn’t mind. Floating her into his tent, he snugged the flap down to keep the howling wind out of his temporary home. His tent, of course, was not the colourful Muggle dome that it appeared to be, but instead was a spacious, if small, residence with a few comforts.
After removing his gloves and warming his fingers, he began loosening the straps holding the rucksack to her back, letting it fall to the ground. He cast a series of diagnostic charms, looking for major trauma, which, thankfully, he did not find. He peeled away the protective mask and goggles, revealing a delicately featured face, albeit marred by bruises around the temples and some dried blood. Peeling back the eyelids, he was pleased to note that the pupils were both the same size and responded normally to light, notwithstanding the fact that she was still unconscious, whoever she was. Her limpid blue eyes reminded him of Luna’s, although she lacked the bug-eyed look of surprise. He covered her with a couple of blankets and began to cooking a substantial dinner, hoping that he’d have someone to share the meal with, something he hadn’t done in a long, long time.
As he cooked, she began to murmur softly. He didn’t catch the words. It didn’t sound like English, but a number of foreigners came to climb, so that wasn’t surprising either. He ate his meal in silence, cleaning up the dishes before he began his vigil by the fire. He stared into the dancing flames with a book open on his lap.
A moan broke his reverie, followed by soft cursing in what sounded like French. It reminded him of what Fleur Weasley would say when she spilled blood on her clothes when slaughtering chickens.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
"Like I fell off zee mountain and theen was beaten wiz breeks," the woman replied.
Harry chuckled. "Well, you did manage the falling off the mountain part, but I didn’t see any bricks when I came to fetch you."
"You climbed up to rescue me?" she asked.
"I rescued you," Harry answered truthfully.
"I weel zank you properly in the morning. Right now, I am weary. Hopefully my head weel stop throbbing if I zleep," the woman said, closing her eyes again.
Harry pulled his wand from its sleeve holster and administered a sleeping charm followed by a strong analgesic charm, which exhausted his repertoire of medical charms. He then set a motion alarm around the couch and went to bed, hoping that she’d sleep through the night.
He’d figure out who she was and what to do with her in the morning.
The dream began pleasantly; he was sitting on the rim of a large fountain in the middle of a formal, walled garden. A mild breeze hissed through the branches that covered the walls. Looking into the fountain, he wasn’t sure if he could see to the bottom or not, when he noticed a reflection of periwinkle blue on the surface of the water, startling him into looking up.
"Hello, Harry," Luna Lovegood said in a sing-song tone, her eyes bearing the ever-startled look which was at odds with her otherwise placid demeanour. "I’ve been trying to reach you for years, but you’ve been closed off to me."
"Uh, Luna, you’re dead," Harry stammered.
"Of course I am," Luna said with a serene smile. "What difference does that make?" She sat down next to Harry, placing her hand gently on his knee. "Our truest friends never leave us completely, Harry."
"You were always a good friend to me, Luna," Harry said.
"And you to me, Harry. You were one of the few people at school who put up with my quirks, even if you didn’t believe everything I told you. But enough of that — I don’t have much time. Do you remember what Hermione once told you about the theory of forks in the streams of time?"
Harry wrinkled his brow. "Something about how certain events could happen differently, leading to a split. One day you take the bus instead of the train on a day that the train derails, so there’s a future where you lived because you took the bus and another where you didn’t because you took the train," he said.
"Quite right — I knew you were listening that day. Ginny didn’t think you’d remember," Luna said, looking into the ripples on the surface of the pool. "Once I crossed over, I began studying the forks of time. It took quite a while to sort through them — some of them were right nasty indeed to follow. There wasn’t a single fork where you were able to destroy that last Horcrux. It was only in the forks where Ginny and I worked together that you were able to dispatch Tom Riddle."
"Why are you telling me this?" Harry asked.
"Because you still blame yourself that I’m dead, that Ginny’s dead," Luna said, looking up into his eyes.
"What happened in the other forks?" Harry asked.
"In a few of them you died, trying to destroy the Horcrux. It wasn’t very pretty when Tom Riddle had no opponent. In the others, you lived, but the war was a stalemate. The destruction was far worse than what you experienced. You need to know that," Luna said. "We played our part, Harry. We knew the risks, but we knew the rewards as well."
Luna stood, hesitating as she turned away. She bent over to kiss his cheek. "Good-bye, Harry. I don’t believe we’ll see each other again until you’re on this side, which is a pity, because I always enjoyed talking to you. No hurry to come over, eh?"
With that Luna disappeared, as if passing behind an unseen curtain. The wind blew some more.
"Hello, Harry," said the voice that he thought he’d never hear again. With a flash of scarlet, Ginny knocked into him, nearly tipping him into the fountain as she settled in his lap. She pulled his head down for a hungry kiss.
"Merlin, Harry, you have no idea how I’ve missed that."
Harry brushed his cheek against hers. "Oh, I think I do, love, I think I do," he said earnestly.
"I haven’t much time, Harry," Ginny said.
"That’s what Luna said too," he replied.
"You gooseberry — if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have figured out how to get here. Luna used to meet here with her mum when they were separated," Ginny explained.
"So, you’re going to try to tell me that your dying wasn’t my fault?" Harry asked.
"Not really," Ginny replied. "You either believe Luna or you don’t, and even if you do, sometimes it takes a while before things you believe up here," she said, kissing his forehead, "make sense down here," she said, placing her hand over his heart.
"So what are you going to tell me?" Harry asked.
"That I love you," Ginny said.
"You told me that the day of Fleur’s wedding," Harry said wistfully.
"Yeah, it was the only way I could break into your fit of noble stupidity," Ginny said, knuckling her fist into the ticklish spot above his last rib. "I loved you — you loved me back. We had time together. That’s more than a lot of people get, you know."
"Yeah, I guess," Harry said quietly.
"I don’t want you here anytime soon," Ginny said.
"Picked up another boyfriend already, have you?" Harry said with a burst of unexpected humour.
"Never," she replied solemnly. "I do regret dying a virgin though. Now that I’m here and you’re there I can’t do much about that," she said with a crooked smile.
"I still love you," Harry said, a tear leaking from one eye.
"Don’t start," Ginny said with a sniff. "Oh, Merlin — now you’ve got me started too," she said, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "I don’t want you to pine for me, Harry — I want you to live. I want you to love again and let some girl give you lots of babies and then when you’re all old and used up you can come see me again and I’ll sort it out with the other woman as to who gets to be with you on this side."
"Right," Harry said with some exasperation. "Did you have anyone in mind?"
"I do, actually, but I can’t tell you — that’s one of the rules, you know. Even if I were to tell you, you’d be self-conscious and screw it up. You never were very good at chatting up girls, Harry," Ginny said, brushing his hair out of his eyes.
"That hasn’t improved any, you know," Harry said.
"Well, it hasn’t helped that you’ve spent the last five years either living with a bunch of monks, or wandering the world as a hermit," Ginny said reproachfully.
"I get along just fine with wolves and bears and elk," Harry said, "lots better than I ever got along with people."
"Yeah, well, that was one of the things I wanted to talk to you about," Ginny said.
"Yeah, oh. It’s time for you to go back to England. I’m going to have a little niece soon," Ginny said, pantomiming rocking a baby.
"Ron finally managed to knock Padma up. There are a couple of other surprises waiting for you too." Ginny said impishly.
"I thought you couldn’t tell me what was going to happen," Harry said.
"I didn’t — I just told you what has already happened. If you didn’t live in Unplottable places, your mail would catch up to you and I could spend my time doing other things," Ginny said.
"Oh? Like what?" Harry asked.
"Like this, "Ginny whispered, closing her eyes and turning so she could kiss him again.
Harry closed his eyes to savour the moment. He began to hear the sound of rain, which was unusual, because he couldn’t feel any raindrops.
"Oh, damn," Ginny hissed. "My time is up."
"Will I see you again?" Harry asked.
Ginny looked into his face and then smiled. "Yes, you will. Sweet Merlin, I do love you, Harry," she said, pulling away. As she retreated, the fountain, the garden and the walls disappeared into gray nothingness, leaving only the sound of rain.
It was the absence of the sound of the rain that woke him. He reached for his wand and his glasses in one smooth move, focusing on the sounds of someone rattling around in the loo adjoining his room. The door opened, releasing a cloud of steam as he saw pale limbs and towels in motion. He stared, transfixed as he tried to make sense of this unexpected awakening. His guest had, evidently, bypassed or nullified the alarm he’d placed on her. Or, possibly, he’d slept through it, but he rather doubted that.
The door opened fully and a towel clad woman tiptoed into his bedroom, letting out a little squeal of surprise when she saw him sitting up in bed. Her hair, what he could see of it, was pale blonde, verging on white. Her skin was pale porcelain, smooth and lustrous. She seemed to be a rather petite, rather fit young woman.
"I’m sorry, I must have woken you," she said in rather less accented English than last night. "I’m afraid that I’ve been presuming upon your hospitality, raiding your medicine cabinet and your shower in one fell swoop." She tilted her head to one side and released a dazzling smile. "Good morning, Harry, it’s very good to see you again."
Harry screwed up his face in disbelief. "You look familiar, but I don’t remember who you are, Miss —"
She smiled again. "Normally I would be crushed, but I’m willing to make allowances under the circumstances. You last saw me nine years ago — I was eleven at the time. Your Ginny and I were dressed alike in bridesmaid dresses, but you only had eyes for her."
"Gabrielle?" Harry asked incredulously.
"What were you doing out here?" he asked.
"Well, yesterday, I was climbing the mountain," she said as if she were explaining something obvious to a particularly slow child.
"My intuition told me that if I climbed the mountain, I would be able to find you. I didn’t anticipate that it would be as part of a daring rescue," she said, shifting uncomfortably. "If you will excuse me, while you may well be comfortable talking to barely dressed women, I would be far more comfortable if I could finish this conversation wearing more than a damp towel."
"But of course," Harry said, laughing at the oddity of the scene. "Do you have clothes to change into, or shall I transfigure some of mine?"
"I think I have some in my rucksack. Give me a minute before you come into the next room," she said, darting out of the room on the balls of her feet.
Harry ducked into the loo, emerging minutes later relieved, refreshed and ready to ask some serious questions. Breakfast was underway when he entered the kitchen nook, a pot of coffee already brewed and a skillet heating for scrambled eggs.
"What do I smell?" Harry asked, looking around his now commandeered kitchen.
"You know, that’s one of those philosophically difficult questions to answer," Gabrielle replied playfully. "I haven’t a clue what you smell, but I smell scones cooking in the oven."
Harry laughed. "So you were able to find everything?"
"Yes; things you use every day are in the cupboard to the left of the sink, with the usual staples in the cold cupboard and the dry cupboard. If they were larger, I’d call them pantries, but everything is compact here — it’s like being in a ship’s galley," Gabrielle replied. "Let’s get you fed and then we can talk."
Harry poured two mugs of coffee, leaving one plain mug on the counter beside Gabrielle as he sat back to watch her. She’d dressed in an oversized tee shirt and short denim shorts that displayed a pair of truly marvellous legs, marred only by a spectacular bruise on her left thigh.
"How are you feeling?" he asked after taking his first swig of coffee.
She smiled. "A shower and two tabs of ibuprofen helped," she said. "You put an alarm on me."
"Yeah, I did. I didn’t want you to hurt yourself stumbling about in this little cottage," he said, feeling somewhat sheepish.
"Where do you keep your hot pads?" she asked.
"I use dishtowels — they’re in the second drawer," he replied.
"Got it, thanks," she said, bending over to open the oven. From Harry’s perspective, the view was excellent; although he turned away once she stood up, carrying the tray of scones to the table.
Harry set the table while Gabrielle served up breakfast. They ate together in silence for a while, until Harry finished his second scone.
"Very nice, thanks. Breakfast for me is often something left over from the night before — cooking for one is the one part of living alone that I don’t care for," Harry said.
"Is that the only part you object to?" Gabrielle asked.
"It’s simpler — I’ll leave it at that," he said. "So, is there anyone I need to notify that you’re here?"
"Not really; Mum and Dad died in the last year of the war; no boss or boyfriend waiting for me back in England. Fleur and the Weasleys are the family I have now," she said slowly. "Besides, Fleur knows I’m here."
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"I was looking for you," she said.
"Well, good; you’ve found me. After this storm breaks, we’ll ship you back to England," Harry said firmly, hooking a thumb at the window. The wind outside was blowing snow sideways.
"I’m supposed to bring you back," Gabrielle said.
"Ron called a Weasley family meeting. They decided that enough was enough, and it was time for you to come back," Gabrielle explained.
"So, how did you find me?"
"It wasn’t easy, believe me," Gabrielle said, refilling her mug of coffee. "By the time I found your place in Cyprus, you’d already left."
"Not a nice neighbourhood," Harry said with a wry grin.
"You’re telling me. Turks on one side of the mountain, Greeks on the other — lobbing mortar rounds at each other every now and then just to keep in practice," Gabrielle said with a shudder.
"If it’s any comfort to you, they don’t do that when I’m living there," Harry said.
"How did you end up in Cyprus?" Gabrielle asked.
"After I killed Voldemort, I was really screwed up. I needed to get away so Ron could have something like a normal life. So I travelled to places where no one knew the boy-who-lived, or if they did, they didn’t give a hoot. I had problems with dreams. There’re some monks that live on the Greek side of the island of Cyprus. I was told that they might be able to help me," he explained.
"Did it work?"
"More or less — they taught me something like Occlumency that stops the brain from dreaming," he said.
"I thought you needed dreams to keep healthy," Gabrielle said.
"Normal people do, or so the Healers tell me," he said. "I haven’t been normal for years."
"You were dreaming this morning," Gabrielle said with a smile.
"You were talking to someone. It didn’t seem unpleasant," Gabrielle said.
"I forgot to do the exercises last night. Having a guest threw me off my normal patterns," Harry said.
"I’m sorry," Gabrielle said.
"Stop apologizing - you sound like me when I’m depressed. It’s hardly a hardship to spend time with a beautiful woman," he said with a grin.
"Flatterer," she said.
"It’s not flattery if it’s true," he replied. "So, how did you get stuck with the job of finding me?"
Gabrielle twirled her wand in her fingers for a moment, stopping long enough to banish the dishes to the sink, leaving only the coffee mugs. "Would you like a refill?"
"No thanks, I’m good," Harry said.
"I was present at the Weasley family meeting as an honorary Weasley. Molly has a habit of picking up stray witches and wizards, you know. They decided it was time and then they spent half the evening arguing with each other as to how they would do it. I told them that they were being silly, and that I was the only one who could find you."
"And why is that?"
"It’s what I do for a living. I’m a tracker," Gabrielle said.
"A what?" Harry asked.
"A tracker. In France, most of the Aurors are generalists, as the English Aurors are, but they also have some specialists; trackers are one of the specialties. My specialty is finding things and people, including people who don’t want to be found," Gabrielle said proudly.
"We could have used you during the war," Harry said.
"I was too young, and I wasn’t trained yet, but I did see some action after you left England. I tracked down Mr. Dolohov on the Continent and I was the one who finally found Mrs. Lestrange," Gabrielle said coolly.
"Good on you," he said.
"I wasn’t completely disinterested. Dolohov killed my mum and dad and Lestrange was the one who broke Hermione’s mind."
Harry was silent for a long while, staring into the bottom of his nearly empty coffee mug. "What happened to them?"
"Dolohov was tried; another prisoner killed him while he was awaiting transport to Azkaban."
"She tried to kill my partner — it wasn’t good for her health," Gabrielle said sardonically. "I left the service after that and emigrated from France."
"Which sidesteps the question of why I should go back to England," Harry said, changing the subject.
"Padma’s big as a barn — she’s going to deliver your goddaughter sometime in July," Gabrielle said.
"That’s nice — I’ll send a present," Harry said with a bored expression.
"Hermione’s out of St. Mungo’s — she’s in her right mind again," Gabrielle said with the sly expression of a card player tossing an unexpected pair of aces onto the table.
"Damn," Harry said, looking away. When he turned back his eyes were glistening. "I’d given up hope."
"Can we Disapparate from here?" Gabrielle asked.
"Nope. Portkeys don’t work either. It’s been one of the things I’ve been studying up here for the last three years. The Shamans locked this area sometime in the eighteenth century; it had to do with their rituals near Denali. The modern-day Shamans either don’t know how it was done, or aren’t talking. My money is on don’t know," Harry said.
"So we’re stuck here until the storm lets up?" Gabrielle asked.
"I reckon so; I’m sure we can figure out something to do," Harry said with a boyish smile.
Copyright © 2006 — J. Cornell — all rights reserved.
Dorothy came up with a sleeping beauty scenario for putting Harry on ice for a few years and then pairing him up with Gabrielle. Tim Joy (Jeconais) was bit by that bunny and started working on a story. I caught wind of this and started plotting out a story one night when I couldn’t sleep. This is what I came up with as a break from writing a chapter in Stories from Sixth Year. This is the first of three parts in my projected story arc. We’ll see more of Ginny, Hermione will come on stage, and we may see if Gabrielle was bruised any place other than her thigh.
For those of you smutty minded readers who wondered how they passed the time waiting for the storm to break, it involved a bottle of wine, a guitar, and the Song of Roland, translated on the fly by Gabrielle. She’s quite a storyteller when she puts her mind to it.
Disclaimer? I don't need no stinking disclamier - this is a not-for-profit writing exercise under the Fair Use Doctrine.