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Chapter 4: The Way It Is

“Lily! You cannot be serious?!” James exclaimed as he followed her exiting the Great Hall.

“’Course she’s not, I’m Sirius!” James didn’t even stop to acknowledge the over-used joke but kept up with Lily who was trying to lose him.

Whether in her own time or twenty years on, she was learning it was still as impossible.

“You should at least let the poor chap down easy, you tend to be blunt in your rejection, Lils,” James continued.

“Well, maybe I am serious and don’t have any intention of rejecting him,” Lily said as calmly as she could manage between the feeling of disgust she was experiencing at the topic (she would never consider dating Dean for a moment, but Potter didn’t need to be filled in on that just now) and aggravation of his frequent use of her forename. It just bugged her.

However, she could allow for a satisfied smile when she realized James was trailing behind her, stalled in utter shock at her response. This made her feel good; he needed a healthy dose of surprise and bruising to his ego every now and then. It was good for the soul.

Lily had actually thought she’d escaped him when she’d made it all the way to the classroom and even through the door without a peep from James. But she was wrong, so wrong. Damn that false sense of security!

“What do you mean you don’t think you’ll reject him?” he demanded, taking the seat next to hers without formality or permission.

“It means, Potter, I could very well take up his offer,” Lily said evenly. James did not look impressed, in fact that was an understatement and it was his grumpy expression that made her add; “Not that you’d know much about that concept.”

James cast a look at her and resumed his arrogant structure before answering; “I’m well educated in that field except for your contribution, Evans. Although, all the evidence tells us I study pretty quickly in the coming years.” They both looked at Harry as he said this and James felt that familiar prickle of success in taking the upper hand.

But one wave from the entering Dean Thomas at Lily and the tables were spun back in her favour once more.

They were going to be very dizzy tables by the end of the day with all this turning.

Even when Professor Lupin came in and began his lesson, James persisted with his argument.

“He’s twenty years younger than you! Ever hear the term ‘cradle snatching’?”

“Haven’t you ever heard of minding your own business?” Lily snapped back.

“Frequently. But this is my business as it concerns my future wife considering taking up the infatuation of a guy the same age as her own son. It’s sick, Evans.”

STOP referring to me as your wife and Harry as our son. The poor kid obviously has a lot to deal with so yo-”

“Yeah, like his mother dating his friend. That’s got to be a traumatic childhood right there,” James quipped in and Lily’s temper rose above that danger zone peak. Luckily, Professor Remus Lupin chose now to intervene as voices were being raised and attention attracting.

“Excuse me, but is there something wrong?” he asked in his “teacher” voice, trying to keep a leash on his amusement in front of the regular students.

“Nothing at all, sir. Just some marital issues, you know yourself, but we’re working on them. Please, continue,” James said as innocently and calmly as though he was commenting on something as natural as the weather.

Lily was livid.

Oh yeah, one point to Potter!

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Harry watched his parents walking ahead of him with growing amusement. He knew he shouldn't really be letting himself get drawn in because of the uncountable dangers involved, but it was hard not to when he witnessed how they reacted with one another. It was hilarious, no other way around it.

What wasn't hilarious, however, was Dean Thomas sticking his nose in where it didn't belong, and certainly where it wasn't wanted. This was the year his parents were supposed to get together, no matter what time they were in, and there was no way Harry was going to jeopardize his own existence for the guy who loved getting in the way of destined couples.

"No wonder he's friends with Seamus; they're both the exact same," Harry thought bitterly as he watched the subject in question exit the Hall with Ginny and offer to escort her down to her Potions class, an offer which she accepted with a smile after a tiny glance at Harry.

Harry couldn't contain the bitterness he felt at the exchange and wanted to smash the Irish boy's face into the bloody dungeon for having the cheek to even look at Ginny, an expression that didn't go unnoticed by Hermione

"If you're so jealous of anyone who goes near Ginny, Harry, why don't you just apologise to her? It would be far easier on the rest of us you know," she said calmly.

Harry scowled. "What makes you think I'm jealous? I'm not.”

Ron let out a bark of laughter as they went on walking. "Well, mate, let's just say if looks could kill, all You-Know-Who needs to do is go near Ginny and we'd never have to worry about him again."

Needless to say, the thought of Voldemort being anywhere near Ginny did not lighten Harry's mood and he once again sunk beneath his guarded pit of emotion.

"Regardless of who Ginny talks to or is interested in, it doesn't change why she needs to be away from me. In fact, it's probably better for her to be with someone else, it could be safer." Harry didn't believe a word that came out of his mouth, and even as he said it he began devising ways to keep Ginny safe from Voldemort, away from Death Eaters and any teenage boy with eyes, ears, hands or lips. Easy!

"So you're telling me if she starts dating Finnegan, you wouldn't want to haul him to the Astronomy Tower and fire him out the window?" Ron asked in an amused tone. He hadn't bought Harry's speech either.

Harry only shook his head. "No, I'm saying if Ginny chose to go out with him, you would throw him out the Astronomy Tower window. I just wouldn't stop you."

Ron laughed again and Hermione shook her head with a smile as they walked into the Defence classroom and took their seats close to the back.

How normal it all seemed, Harry thought, but the reality of it all was the farthest thing from normality anyone could ask for.

Harry had developed the talent lately of blocking out the noise and chatter from his surroundings, enabling him to focus on the hundreds of thoughts swarming around his head. Now was such a time to apply his new gift as he sat down.

As was usual, Ginny and defeating Voldemort were automatically the two key thoughts at the head of the list, no matter how much he tried to ignore either one of them, both battling to gain the podium prize of most important. And so once more, Harry, knowing there was little else that he could focus on, settled in to judge another bout of arguments.

Four months on and there was still no winner.

He knew this constant thinking of Ginny was doing no good what so ever. After all, one of the reasons he broke things off with her was so that her face and his feelings for her wouldn’t always be on show at the front of his mind, creating an easy target for Voldemort. But they were there and he was powerless to banish them. Every time he saw her face, heard her name, caught a glimpse of her scarlet hair or a whiff of her flowery scent, or even when he walked through corridors he'd been with her, his feelings for her rose like a volcano, weakening his determination every time it happened, and there was nothing he could do to push it away. Not thinking of Ginny was like trying to block out Dumbledore's memory, forget about Voldemort and the Horcruxes, or ignore his parents. It just couldn't be done. They were all connected to him by deeps bonds made with un-cuttable ropes.

While thinking of his parents and the dilemma that faced him now with them, Harry's internal doze was woken by the sound of Lily's rising tones. The two new teenagers were sitting a few rows in front of Harry, Ron and Hermione, but Harry could hear every word of what Lily was saying. The mere mention of Harry as her son and James her husband in the full classroom made Harry's heart miss several beats.

Did discretion mean nothing to the people of the past?

Thankfully, the lesson was due to be an interesting one and people only really heard the end of what Lily was saying. Harry prayed no one would put the dots together and get the full picture.
He glared up at his Professor, who was obviously laughing happily to himself, as a way of warning him they needed stopping before too much was said.

Voldemort had spies everywhere, and if word got out that the teenage version of Harry Potter's parents were currently in Hogwarts, the war would take on an earlier date for the first march than intended.

Nothing could be taken for granted. Harry needed to be very careful and, while glaring at the
young James and Lily throughout the remainder of the class, decided they needed to become aware of that fact.

"Family love; it's a marvellous thing," Harry thought with a wry smile as he stared at James and Lily like he was the parent, Lily shot daggers from her eyes at James, and Happy as Larry James just winked at Lily.

The Potter's were simply odd.

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Ginny Weasley had to restrain her hand with amazing force to keep from cursing Seamus to the other side of the castle. Anywhere that wasn’t near her.

Needless to say, the relationship for the day hadn’t gone too well.

It wasn’t that he was being annoying or pushy or any of the normal things that would wreck Ginny’s head this much, but…it was just…

She didn’t know.

Seamus was a great guy; funny, charming, talkative and all the rest. She’d always gotten on well with him before, so where exactly was the problem?

Well…she possibly knew the answer to that, getting the impression the problem had glasses and a lightning bolt scar, but was nowhere near ready to admit it. She was trying to disentangle herself from the web known as Harry Potter…and constantly letting him control every aspect of her life was not the right way of going about that. She knew that much at least, but knowing still didn’t solve the problem.

“That bloody idiot, who does he think he is to act like this anyway?!” Ginny muttered to herself as she trudged through the empty hallways to Gryffindor Tower during dinner time.

She didn’t have much of an appetite.

Nor much of an attention span either by the looks of things when she walked straight into another student standing just metres away from the Fat Lady’s portrait.

”Please don’t let it be Seamus…or Harry! For Merlin’s sake, anything but that. I’ll take on a Basilisk at this minute before that!” Ginny thought frantically before chancing an upwards glance. She let out a surprised, but none the less relieved, sigh.

It was Lily.

“Oh, hey, Lily. What are you doing out here?”

The older red haired girl looked confused for a moment. “Oh…um, it’s Ginny, right?” The other girl nodded. “Well…I was going to go into the common room but I…I don’t know the password,” Lily admitted.

“Oh, right then,” Ginny nodded in understanding and spoke the password that gave entrance to the Gryffindor common room for the two girls. As they settled into the chairs, a silence fell between them as they both thought about the strangeness of the situation. However, Ginny was relieved to discover, it was not an uncomfortable one.

“So…why aren’t you down at dinner?” she asked Lily, suddenly feeling the need to talk to the older girl.

“I badly needed to get away from Potter; he’s been driving me nuts all day with this whole married thing. What about you? Aren’t you hungry?” Lily inquired. Lily found herself very interested in this young, beautiful girl and was looking forward to getting to know her better and hopefully, learn something about Harry and her own future in the mean time.

“Not very, for pretty much the same reason as you said. Just a different Potter,” Ginny confided quietly.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what’s going on with you and Harry? It’s pretty obvious something big went down between the two of you,” Lily asked before she could stop herself.

Ginny looked up at Lily, half amused and half torn. Here was this wonderful woman sitting across from her, asking her about the life of the future, and the only way she was able to learn anything about her son’s life was due to a silly magical mishap. Tragic and strange all in the one.

The amusing part was; she was the same age as her son and still sounding like a teenage gossip girl while maternal instincts came into play at the same time.

“I guess I’m not too good at hiding it, am I?” Ginny laughed to ease her own tension at the topic.

“Well…Harry’s not really much better if that helps. He always looks so tormented when you’re around and when you’re not he gets really defensive if you’re mentioned.” Lily decided being honest was the best approach with Ginny. She wasn’t into the whole double-standard thing when talking to someone. Lily was genuinely interested in everything that was going on, with Harry’s life and everyone else’s in this time. After all they were part of her life as well if everything was true. Plus; she already felt close to and cared for this girl.

Ginny’s eyes looked pained. “He does? I didn’t know that, he just seemed to be tired of having me around all the time or something.”

This time it was Lily who gave a small laugh. “Ok, I know I haven’t been around here very long but from what I can see, I don’t think Harry could ever tire of you.”

Ginny fell silent as she let what Lily said wash over her. How she desperately wanted to believe that, to have Harry confirm it and to live it out as truth. But yet, the practical side of her that spared little consideration for her fragile heart, told her that was never going to happen. Harry Potter had moved on, he’d decided on what he had to do, despite what Lily thought, and she had to stop this ridiculous fantasizing and accept it.

However, once Lily had asked again the reason for her falling out with Harry, Ginny couldn’t stop her heart from cracking open widely to reveal everything that had ever happened between herself and Harry in a tidal wave of grief and emotion.

Lily listened intently with unmasked curiosity as part of her son was revealed to her. Her own heart was breaking with sympathy as Ginny told her of her school girl crush, how it grew when he saved her, to it being crushed by his infatuation with Cho Chang and soaring with happiness at the memory of the Quidditch Final celebrations and the weeks that followed.

But Lily was expecting a harsh turn to come that resulted in the current state of the once happy couple, and when it did it still gutted her with sadness and regret. Both girls shed a tear as Ginny recollected over Dumbledore’s death and funeral and she told Harry’s Mum about the final encounter between herself and the Boy-Who-Lived.

“He told me what he had to go and do was too dangerous and he couldn’t risk getting me hurt. He said he realised it was just him who could do this and he had to do it alone because he couldn’t risk anymore lives at his expense,” Ginny finished solemnly, remembering the encounter which such detail it was like it had been only a few days ago, not months.

“What does he mean he can’t risk anymore lives? Surely no one died because of him?” Lily asked after a few moments silence, letting it sink it.

Ginny froze, unsure of what to say. She couldn’t say anything about her own faith or else Harry would kill her himself. But then how could she explain? “Well no, nobody died because of him, Harry just blames himself for all the people that get killed during the war. Especially people like Cedric Diggory who he saw die in front of him. It’s terrible, but because he survived Voldemort’s attack and now has to kill him, he feels like every death is his fault.”

“Is he always like that?”

“Like what? Noble and stupid?” Ginny asked with a small laugh and Lily nodded. “Yep, always. It’s just the way he is, probably because of the life he’s had. I wish he wasn’t so serious about it at times, but then I suppose he wouldn’t be Harry Potter if he wasn’t remarkably stubborn,” Ginny said, her fondness for the young man seeping into her voice.

“Ha, that reminds me of someone! Except for the serious part of it,” Lily laughed. “But, is there nothing me and J-…his dad could do to help him? He seems to have a really tough life. Can’t we do anything?”

“From what I know, I’d say Harry gets his stubbornness from both his parents,” Ginny quipped in, ignoring the last part of what Lily said. She couldn’t go near that topic, it was out of bounds.

Lily blanched with a groan. “Oh, Merlin! You don’t buy into that whole me and Potter thing as well, do you?”

“You mean you really don’t believe it?! You’ve got to see the resemblance between you and Harry,” Ginny said. “And there’s no denying he’s related to James, they’re nearly identical.”

Lily looked doubtful. “Well…I mean…I suppose our eyes are similar but that could just be a fluke, right?” she asked hopefully but Ginny shook her head, half smiling

“Nope, no fluke.”

Again, Lily was silent until she burst suddenly; “But Potter?! That’s just ridiculous! I mean…we’re nothing alike. I can’t stand him or anything he does and he’s not capable of holding a genuine feeling for anything other than his broomstick!” she ranted, unable to contain the frustration that always bubbled forth every time she mentioned James Potter.

Ginny’s grin grew a little wider; she much preferred this topic of conversation. “You should give him a chance, talk to him. You might realise there’s something about him that you missed.”

Lily cast a shrewd eye at the younger girl. “And you should talk to Harry, tell him you love him and give him a chance. Show him he might have missed something in you.”

There was silence before Ginny said with a grin; “How about we both just stay quiet for now?”

“Works for me!” Lily laughed.

After that, the two girls just spoke about normal things…or at least things that didn’t revolve around their apparent or non-existent love of Potters. Lily wanted to know everything she could about Harry and the future that was evolving, hoping to get Ginny to reveal something about her own role it in but she was tight lipped on that subject, while Ginny was wildly interested in learning all she could about Harry’s parents.

One thing that was made quite plain however was that Sirius had actually been right;

Both Potter men had fallen for very similar women.

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Meanwhile, down at dinner, news had been announced about more attacks and several tragic deaths, including the loss of the well-known Auror; Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Harry decided the time had come were he needed to act.

Now.


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A/N: Hey, everyone! Sorry I haven’t updated this or any other of my stories in a few weeks but it has been a very hard few weeks for myself and my family so I hope I’m forgiven for taking so long, there really was nothing I could do and I was in no state to write anything.

I know it wasn’t exactly the most interesting chapter in the world and definitely not my best but hopefully you'll allow some lean-way for that considering my circumstances but it's just moving things on and upwards in a slow-ish pace. Sorry if that’s frustrating.

Thanks for reading and please review, it would be really nice to hear from everyone again after so long!
Irish_Ginny = )

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