Title: Improbability (The Dead Man Talking Remix)
Summary: The Fred-part of him might've always been a bit of a rule-breaker extraordinaire, but even he now admits that faffing about with magic sometimes has (very) unintended consequences.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Vague spoilers for up to Deathly Hallows.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Impossible Things by velvetmouse .
Notes: Many, many thanks to isiscolo for beta-reading this and helping me make it a lot better and more understandable.
The awakening is slow, dragging him from the depths of time up to the surface. He feels groggy, stumbling around. It is a very odd sensation. He’s two-dimensional, with height, width and no depth. Colours are blending in and out of him, around him. The memories, coming back piece-by-piece and battling for dominance, are astounding. The sheer force of them almost knocks him out cold again, if not for the glowing warmth of the spell keeping him alert and forcing him towards consciousness.
He's by one wall (no, scratch that, he's on the wall) of a small chamber. Looking around, he can see the other walls, all old blackened stone, and close around him a thick frame of white chalk. In front of him, looking somewhat shabby and confused, are Ginny and Lily. He can feel the different parts of him gaining and losing territory as he looks between them, and his face shifting accordingly. Ginny and Lily have a short discussion, which he cannot follow at all, about who they’ve brought to life like this. (Oh, so it was the two of them, on their own. He recognises the feel of their respective magics, now that he thinks about it. Quite brilliantly done.) And with that realisation comes a knowledge like something slotting into place. They're in Gringotts, they're trapped, and his purpose here is to get them out.
"You are both right," he says. "When I'm talking to Ginny here, I'm Fred." He focuses on Ginny, and the Fred part of his mind firmly takes control and keeps his features as he prefers them. "And when I'm talking to Lily, I'm Fabian."
It’s true, but not so simple. He has two personalities, he’s formed from two distinct impressions and sets of memories – he’s both of them and at the same time neither of them. He is, essentially, magic. He can feel that he’s been drawn from somewhere else, into this conscious, almost physical shape. He knows that he’s known more than this – he’s been a part of the beyond, of what no witch or wizard may know before their time – but he has lost access to the beyond, whatever it was. Maybe it’s the laws of magic that are keeping him cut off. There’s a barrier somewhere, he realises. He probes at it, tries to think in wider and wider circles, to find loopholes. It must be the laws themselves that are keeping him half-knowing.
He knows that laws are meant to be broken. He does, after all, have time on his side. And a penchant for impossible things.
He puts further exploration off until later. Ginny and Lily have brought him here for a reason. Their problem needs to be dealt with more urgently.
They ask how they get him to open the portal out of there. Were he a normal guardian portrait, giving him the password would suffice. Here, however… more force is required. Lily comes up with a version of the Animagus reversal spell: instead of restoration to a human body she suggests restoration to one’s proper time. Not bad.
He decides that Ginny should go first, and he’ll help her along. She casts the spell, and he feels his frame swing open. It’s an odd sensation, more like being moved than moving of one’s own volition. He sees more of the chamber like this. It looks exactly the same. He can’t see the women, but he hears them as Ginny breaks several laws of time-travelling.
The moment before she steps through the portal, Ginny turns to Lily. “I know I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t think I care,” she says, and Fred does a double take, thinking, whoa, little sister, you really can’t be going there, and she continues. “Please make it really clear who you’d want to take care of Harry should anything happen to you. And think about Peter’s Animagus form. About what that says about him as a person.”
Fred wants to chew her out about it: honestly, does she have any idea what she’s just done? Fabian gives something like a mental snort and shoves a well-chosen memory of one of the twins more memorable mishaps at Fred’s part of their mind. Well, point taken. This however, is serious. But Ginny is gone before Fred can say anything more.
Fred/Fabian both felt ripples through the fabric of time as Ginny said it. He still feels it after she’s left, changes thrumming in the air around Lily as she thinks. Fred’s memories of Harry, though, don’t change a single bit. He still remembers the Dudley Dursley and the Ton-Tongue Toffee incident as clear as ever, and all the years surrounding it. He wonders, with a bitterness he didn’t use to have, if this is magic’s revenge on rule-breakers. If Ginny’s comments actually propelled the events both of them have lived through into motion, if her attempt to prevent it actually caused this particular version of history. Try to mess with time itself, and history will screw you over. The Fred-part of him might always have been a bit of a rule-breaker extraordinaire, but even he now admits that faffing about with magic sometimes has (very) unintended consequences. Fabian forcefully agrees.
Both of him brood for a while, then Fabian comes up with another possibility and Fred catches on at the first hint. Considering that he’s cut off from the afterlife, the beyond, or wherever he’s been, and that he was brought here by two women stuck in a Goblin Containment Chamber in a time that didn’t belong to either of them – he might be cut off from time altogether. Out of it. History might well have changed outside of the containment chamber, the timeline reformed. Fred’s memories might be the only relic of history as he remembers it, at least the last twenty years of it. Fabian grumbles a bit about his lifetime not ever changing – but he’s sifting through Fred’s memories and does after all agree that forcing that part of history down a different path would be a good deed. Hopefully. Unless… Well, you never know with magic.
Getting out to compare notes on the development of Recent Events seems like an excellent reason to hurry up his own part of this impossible breakout. If Ginny managed, so should he, thinks Fred. Fabian laughs at him.
Neither of him remembers dying. Both of him remembers fighting, Death Eaters all around, spells whistling past in all directions. Fred’s well aware of the parallels already, the way history repeated itself with all its gruesome glory, but seeing it from the inside drives the point home. To Fabian, the way the story played out seems bleak and gloomy – so far from the brightly shining future they’d been dying for. He reminds himself (Fred reminds Fabian) of how Ginny looked (the reflexes of a honed fighter, but healthy, strong, grown-up, less eaten by grief than they might’ve thought). This Ginny means that the war must have ended, again. Ended better.
Lacking a physical memory of the end (of dying) is actually kind of comforting. Fred does, however, have memories of the story of the murder of the Prewett brothers, and while Fabian initially seems satisfied to hear it (it took five Death Eaters to take them out; they died as heroes, said Moody) it also confirms that Gideon died along with him. Fabian draws far back into their common mindspace, so Fred hardly feels him and is all alone with the glass-sharp realisation that he doesn’t know what happened to George.
Lily needs help getting out, so Fabian comes back up to the surface, helping her along. Before she steps through the portal, she asks him if he’ll be all right when she’s gone. Fabian tells her not to worry, that he’s sure that he can find a few things to keep him occupied. Fred wants to shout – wait, don’t leave, tell me everything you know! – but Fabian is firmly in control and Fred feels like he’s trapped behind a glass wall, or unable to dissociate himself from the canvas. It’s irrational, because Lily is twenty years too far back in time be able to help, but Fred’s desire for knowledge overpowers common sense. Anything is better than this, this limbo. He feels like less than half of himself.
Lily casts the spell and is gone. The chamber suddenly feels very quiet.
“She couldn’t have know anything, you know,” says Fabian wryly, out loud. “We’re of the same era. She probably hasn’t seen much more than I. And you have all my memories right here, for all you viewing pleasure, if you care.”
“I need to get out,” Fred says, out loud now. The thought has kept ringing louder and louder in his mind. It’s like being trapped inside a church bell. He doubts he would’ve been able to stand if he’d had a body.
“So do I,” agrees Fabian, cool and collected. “We are going to escape from here.”
It’s not an impossible breakout, that much has already been proved. Now, it’s only improbable, and that, they can deal with easily. Handling improbability is simply a matter of finding the overlooked, the statistically insignificant, the loopholes no one else notices because they’re minuscule. It is an art both of him are trained in. He’s getting out. He is going to find out what happened. Then, it is time again for that tantalising, elusive, everlasting beyond. The unknown.