The Sugar Quill
Author: peachpicker  Story: Aftermath  Chapter: Chapter Three: Explanation
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Chapter Three: Explanation

Ginny was trapped again. She couldn't move, no matter how she tried. A terrible voice sounded, filling her with claws of fire that tore at her insides. "Harry? Harry!" Her words became an agonized scream...

... and Harry woke, shaking. He saw that Ginny was crying, whimpering in her sleep, moving her head and arms in agitation. It was another nightmare, one that he somehow shared with her in his dream. Harry took her hand and talked quietly to her, but his attempt to calm her was not working like it had other times. Harry now could feel her agony as if it were his own. By this time Ginny's parents had come awake. "Mister Weasley, get a healer in here, now! Ginny's hurting inside. Something's very wrong! It feels like the curse is back, sort of."

"On my way..." and Arthur dashed out the door.

By this time Molly was also trying to calm Ginny, stroking her face, holding her hand, calling her name as Molly must have done when Ginny was small and suffering from a nightmare.

"I'm going to try the shield. Maybe it will help," Harry said.

Molly watched, wide eyed, as Harry closed his eyes and thought the words they had chosen so many weeks ago to trigger the raising of the shield...

...swirling clouds of pain that they both felt, hid Ginny from him. "Glowing Calmness From Within." Then the warm inner glow spread out, enveloping Harry and then Ginny... All concerns dropped away, and they remembered that Inner Smile that was their symbol of the Love that is the source of all things. And then Ginny was protected from the worst of the pain. Now the pain was 'out there' beyond the core of her true self to which she had retreated...

Harry's eyes opened, and he saw Leanna and another healer beginning to examine Ginny. Harry pointed. "Most of her pain is centered here and here." He pointed again. "And some is up here too." He could now look at the healers with utter calm. "It's not as bad as when I first brought her in. Seems more localized too. I'm helping her hold off the pain." Standing there with one of Ginny's hands in his, he closed his eyes to focus totally on Ginny again.

...Words drifted by Harry's and Ginny's consciousness, and faded away as soon as they came. "...both ovaries this time... You deal with the liver, like last time... watch it, there's still a bit of damage there... yes, that's it now..." and soon Ginny and Harry were aware that the pain 'out there' was slowly fading away...

Harry and Ginny opened their eyes at the same time and looked at each other. "How do you feel, Ginny?" Leanna asked, while slipping her wand into her robe.

"A little sore, mostly through here." Ginny pointed. "Leanna, what happened?"

"You had a... let's call it a relapse. There was still a bit of residual magic from the curse that somehow got activated instead of fading away as we had hoped." Leanna looked at Harry and the three Weasleys. "How did you all tell that something was wrong so quickly? Arthur called us before our own alarm went off. I heard the alarm after we were already in here."

Harry shrugged. "I woke up because I felt Ginny having another bad dream, but then I could feel her hurting for real. So I asked Mr. Weasley to get you."

"He told me, Leanna. Quite forcefully." Arthur grinned. "Good thing, too."

"Ginny, dear, you need another sleeping potion. I want you to have as sound a sleep as you can." Leanna looked at the others. "Arthur? Molly? Do you need anything to get back to sleep?" They shook their heads no. "Harry, I want you to be able to wake up quickly if you sense anything else, so I'd prefer that you not have one. Apparently you are quicker than our own alarms. Will you be able to sleep?"

Harry nodded, smiling warmly at Ginny.

* * *

When Harry, Ron and Hermione entered the Master Healer's office, she looked up and smiled. "I want to thank you, Harry, for all the help you have provided for Ginny. I don't fully understand yet just what you are doing with her, but it calms her nightmares remarkably quickly. I suspect you have a natural talent for healing, since she seems to be healing so much faster than I would have expected." She looked at him frankly. "It's time you told me what you two did to shield yourselves. That curse is almost unstoppable once it starts, even if the person casting it is killed. Somehow you two stopped it or turned it back on Voldemort."

"Has Ginny told you anything?"

"No, except to say that she would rather you explain. I gather it will take a while to describe it?"


"Ginny can't talk for very long as yet since she still tires so easily, so I understand why she would prefer to leave it to you all." Leanna smiled encouragingly at them.

"Hermione can tell you about the theoretical side, if you want that." Harry gestured to Hermione and Ron. "And Ron kept us on the right track when we got bogged down in details and stuff. I'll just tell you what we did that worked, and leave out the blind alleys we went down.

"Because of a prophecy, I've been hunting Voldemort for most of this last year, and he's been hunting me for much longer. I've had the help of a number of friends, most especially Ron, Hermione and Ginny. Do you know what a Horcrux is?"

Leanna grimaced. "Some of the darkest magic I know of. Go on."

"In her first year at Hogwarts, Ginny got... involved with a Horcrux that contained a piece of Voldemort's soul. Nobody knew what it was then. It appeared to be a diary that she could interact with. At first it seemed to be friendly to her, something that she could tell her secrets to, and all that. It said it was the diary of a Hogwarts student of fifty years ago, Tom Riddle. Tom Riddle was Voldemort's original name, but we didn't know that. In the end, the diary took over Ginny and made her do things, including releasing a basilisk that Riddle had in the chambers under Hogwarts. She was missing hours of time, and could not remember what she did when Riddle controlled her. Still, she managed to get rid of the diary; I told you before that she was a strong witch. I got a hold of the diary myself, not knowing what it was. To make a long story short, Ron and I ended up rescuing Ginny when Riddle captured her. He was draining her life to form a body for himself. He nearly succeeded, until I killed the bit of soul in the diary."

The healer looked at Harry a long time, thinking. "So there was a significant connection between Ginny and Voldemort. Go on."

"I had a connection to Voldemort too." Harry pointed to his scar. "Since I was one year old. It started when he tried to kill me. Ever since, we've had a connection through the scar, although it took a while to realize the connection was there. Eventually we sometimes could tell what each other was thinking, or anyway that we were feeling something strongly. Then in my fourth year at Hogwarts, he made an additional connection with me. He captured me and used some of my blood and some other things to form himself a body. Ever since then he had a shield against me on his side of the connection. We were hoping to find a way to break through his shield and somehow use love to destroy him, like Dumbledore suggested."

Leanna replied. "Love. Yes. You might be surprised how much love is a necessary part of our healing magic. It is an old and very basic magic."

Hermione nodded in agreement. "Some of our most useful ideas came from books on healing spells."

"Ginny almost got kidnaped at Hogwarts," Harry continued. "So she left and came looking for us. She found us at our hideout. She point blank refused to leave, to go somewhere more protected. To tell the truth I didn't want her to leave, I had missed her so much. So we started working on how to use love as a weapon."

"You can't, really," the healer said quietly. "It always turns to something less desirable if you try to use love that way."

"So we finally concluded."

"But we did know it could be a shield. We experimented. We thought about it. Especially my mother's love and what it did. Somehow we had to get love down to its basics. Um... sexual love didn't work; the desire bit got in the way somehow, although it sure was very comforting and we very much needed comforting."

Leanna had noticed how Ron and Hermione had been holding hands the whole time. "It's especially like that in wartime." Leanna smiled and did not say anything more.

"We stumbled onto something. The links we both have had to Voldemort, combined with our feelings for each other, helped open up a link directly between Ginny and me. If we focused on each other then we could feel each other's emotions. And even sometimes thoughts, if we were careful about it. Usually it worked the quickest and strongest if we started by looking in each other's eyes with the right intent. And we found that if we both focused on feeling love just by itself, while the link was open, then it was tremendously intensified. It got to where we could hold it for many minutes at a time, even while doing all sorts of other things. And it did work as a shield against some sorts of spells."

Harry continued. "We thought the shield would protect against Avada Kedavra, but Ron figured Voldemort might not use that. It turned out Ron was right. Anyway, we thought we might have to break down that barrier to Voldemort's mind. And there was really no way to practice that. We thought it might be easiest if we were physically in his presence. Then while the rest of us were away from our hideout, Death Eaters caught Ginny and took her away." Harry stared into space, focused on his memories of that event, until Ron touched his shoulder.

"The link was still there and so I knew she was alive. And I had used the link before to Apparate to her. So I did, and after some fighting, unfortunately I was caught."

"Like I said before, just before he cursed her, we managed to look at each other and that made it easier to raise the shield. Then when he cursed her and she screamed, I broke through to him. It just felt like I pushed the shield into him. And Voldemort started screaming too. It seemed like a terribly long time, but I think it actually took just a few seconds, like I told you before. Then I felt he was gone and his Petrificus Spells on us ended. I could tell Ginny was hurting very, very badly, so I Portkeyed her here."

Hermione spoke up. "Dumbledore said that somehow love was a poison for Voldemort. It was because he was so devoid of it for his whole life. Especially when he was young. We think Voldemort simply had no experience of ever being loved, especially in his formative years. That's probably why a love-based shield killed him."

Ron cleared his throat. "Leanna?"

"Yes, Ron?"

"I think Mum and Dad need to hear some of this explanation of what went on. They've just been sort of trusting that Harry and Ginny did the right thing. But it was Ginny that was hurt so bad, and she's still their little girl and all that. It'll help them if they understand more about it. I think we three need to tell them. What do you think?"

"Yes, Ron, you are right. And the sooner the better. I'll leave that up to you three how you tell it. And how much detail is appropriate."

Leanna looked at Hermione and smiled. "So you are the theoretician of this little gang?"

"Yes, I suppose you could say so."

"Would you accept an appointment with a colleague of mine in the Department of Mysteries to discuss the theoretical side of what you did? I think you all accomplished something that should be studied more."

"Certainly. I'd love to talk with your colleague. Ron should be there too." She squeezed his hand. "Ron kept us on track, especially me, when we would veer off in all sorts of directions. I think he could help again." Ron grimaced, and Hermione elbowed him in his ribs. "Yes you can, Ron. Even if it is theory."

Hermione paused to look at Ron with an indecipherable expression. "Leanna, there's more. The shield does work against Avada Kedavra, just as we had hoped. Ron and I were both using the shield when we were at Voldemort's hideout."

Ron looked startled and then his face filled with anxiety. "Hermione, did you get hit with..."

She shook her head. "No. You did. From behind. The Avada Kedavra bounced right back and hit the Death Eater who cast it at you. You didn't even notice! I was so proud of you." Hermione turned to Leanna. "Ron's shield usually was the least strong of our shields, yet it worked beautifully against Avada Kedavra."

Ron had a wry smile. "I guess all that practice was a good idea." He laughed and hugged Hermione briefly when she began to look askance at him. Then Ron became serious. "Leanna, the shield may not seem like a proper spell to most folks. No wand or anything, you know. And you pick your own non-verbal trigger phrase to raise the shield, instead of having standard spell words. But it uses magic and it is teachable! It's not really hard to learn, if you know what proper love feels like."

Hermione said, "Remember, Ron, you also pick your own imagery for dealing with a boggart or raising a Patronus. Leanna, the shield isn't for everything. It doesn't protect against the spells that"

"...more physical in effect," Ron interjected.

Harry laughed in delight. "There's another one." Ron and Hermione turned to glare at him. Harry explained to a puzzled Leanna. "They've started completing each other sentences like an old married couple. Ginny and I have been hearing them do it more and more. I think it's empathy, though both Hermione and Ron seem in denial about it."

Hermione's face was showing a bit of both irritation and amusement. "I was just searching for the optimum words to express the limitations of the shield."

Ron grinned. "Hermione was probably looking for a much longer word than 'physical.' She knows a lot of good ones to choose from. After all..."

"...'physical' only has three syllables," Hermione said, shaking her head and sighing. "It's getting to be an old joke, Leanna." Now Harry and Ron were both laughing.

Leanna broke in. "Some degree of empathy is not uncommon, at least between spouses, siblings close in age, and sometimes even co-workers. It's not just due to familiarity with each other. Also, our sort of magic isn't necessary for it to happen."

Hermione agreed. "My mum and dad complete each others sentences at times. Sometimes I have no clue how they do it, and neither do they when I point out to them what they did."

"Then there's Fred and George, of course," Ron laughed. Then he looked puzzled. "Leanna, I don't remember Mum and Dad doing it. Seems like they would."

Leanna smiled. "They did it quite a lot, when I first knew them. I think they've gone to the next stage. Few do." The others looked curious. "If either is at a loss for words but the other isn't, they would just automatically use what words the other might have available. There's no loss for words normally, unless both of them would be at a loss for words. Remember, that's just an external indication of the extent of their shared empathy, you understand."

Ron looked a little worried. "If that is so, it sounds like their personalities could be merging or something. Are they?"

"I hardly think so, Ron," Leanna laughed. "Does your mum like to work at the Ministry or collect Muggle artifacts as a hobby? Does your dad like to be an expert cook or do gardening? Yet, Molly and Arthur are as in tune with each other as any couple I have ever seen, when they choose to be." Leanna looked at the three friends. "There is much more to empathy than being able to end each others sentences, especially when it is combined with magic. You've seen some of its effects with Harry and Ginny. Their empathy concerns feelings first, not thoughts. But empathy is a very large topic best left for another time."

Leanna glanced at her notes. "Do you have anything more to add about the shield? I'd rather leave further questions to my colleague."

They shook their heads no.

Leanna's smile grew as she thought about what she had learned. "Oh my! A shield against Avada Kedavra. Such good news." Leanna was beaming. "I'll get in contact with my colleague straight away and let you know when she might be available. In the meantime, Molly and Arthur are with Ginny now, as you know. You should all go up there and tell them a simplified version of Harry's prior information along with the information you all gave me today. If Ginny is not asleep, so much the better. She should not be left out of these discussions any longer, even if she does not feel like saying much as yet. It's best if Molly and Arthur hear Ginny's side of it from her directly, if she is willing to speak about it at this point."

Leanna stood up, and the three friends followed suit. "Thank you for coming to help me understand what happened. You three and Ginny have done a remarkable thing, several remarkable things, and for that I also thank you on behalf of the whole wizarding world."


Author's Notes: I've had enough highly improbable "sentence ending" experiences that empathy seems to be the only reasonable explanation. The word 'empathy' can denote many things, ranging from telepathy or ESP to the feel for growing plants that we call "having a green thumb."

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