Progress Notes: The following chapter comes in two parts, the first of which is completed, provisionally, whilst the second is undergoing a drastic rewrite owing to certain inconsistencies and purely dreadful dialogue.
The kiss on the forehead woke me. After three years of
interminable insomnia for fear of Death Eater attacks and the resulting
nightmares, it was surprising that I could ever sleep peacefully
again. Despite the past two years, it’s faintly unnerving
that his touch is about the only thing that can wake me these
days. Still, I grace him with an unbidden but entirely pleased
smile as I try, hopelessly, to rise from the warm bed. Then I
hear the telephone ring in the distance and groan, clutching the pillow
over my head.
Telephones, accursed machines! I remember that
first major row we had shortly after I’d moved to Edinburgh.
Harry had asked where I worked. As a chemist, he was fascinated
about ‘alternative medicine.’ Couldn’t exactly tell him the truth
at that point – yes, well, I’m a witch, and I Apparate each day to the
Ministry of Magic in London – so I blethered on about the struggle of
homeopathy against the tyranny of science. All those years of
listening to Hermione drone on about SPEW were rewarded. I’d just
hit my stride when I smelled plastic burning to my left.
Panicked, I glanced between my seething lover and the simmering
device. Bloody telephone was smouldering like my chances of
escaping this argument without grave revelations. Fortunately,
though I’d no idea how, Harry had managed his own accidental magic,
setting the toaster alight. Were it not for the reek of scorched
plastic and the shocked look on his face as he shifted his gaze from
the toaster to the telephone, I’d have leapt on him. As it was,
he muttered something about shoddy electrics, unplugged the toaster,
and slunk off terribly embarrassed. At least he never asked where
I practise again. Then I remember. Bugger!
he whispers sweetly, “you up? It’s Hermione." Small
favours. Wrapping myself in the white bed sheet, I trundle dazed
to the phone. She brings good news: under threat of her
wrath, my brothers have promised to behave. Still, I note her
voice shaking under the weight of five years of worry. This is
the first time Harry and Hermione have spoken to one another since that
night, unless she rang while I was out. Though I’ve spoken of her
on a number of occasions and he’s expressed an interest in meeting her
and my other non-Muggle friends, I’ve fobbed him off with the shoddy
excuses of distance, conflicting schedules, and other bollocks.
“He really doesn’t remember anything?” she pleads. I can almost hear the tears welling up over the line.
“Yes.” It’s a practised lie, second nature now.
memories began returning the night of the row. He went to bed
before me, giving me an abashed kiss on the cheek that reminded me all
too clearly of the teenage boy he once was. My head just hit the
pillow when I heard him mutter something. “Just hold on,” he
begged over and over. Though I felt ghoulish, I waited patiently
for the dream to unfold. He shuddered a number of times, tears
streamed down his face. Almost in a speaking voice, he ordered
his ghosts to stand firm. He’s reliving the battle, blow for blow,
I realised as his words penetrated my own recollections. Then he
began reciting the names of the dead, the dying, and the injured.
He recoiled particularly at several names, as did I, ending almost
incoherently with my family and what had become the core six of the
DA. I discovered only then he’d thought I had died earlier in the
battle along with my brother Bill. He spoke my name clearly,
which I took in my stupid jealously of the moment as an insult, until
his hand emerged from the sheets to caress the face in his nightmares,
tears once more welling in his eyes. He was silent for a short
while, his breathing shallow, before erupting in an oddly strained
laugh that brought him back to consciousness with a start.
slumped back on to my own pillow and pretended to have woken with
him. Looking down on his face, for a moment I could see in his
eyes that he remembered me as we had been until the conditioning
reasserted itself once more. My heart broke again that night, and
I cried like I hadn’t since that night three-and-a-half years before,
folded in his arms until morning. He said he’d remembered nothing
of the dream on either that or the next four nights when it returned,
abbreviated but still horrible.
“I’ll make sure the brothers
won’t say anything,” Hermione reaffirms, misinterpreting my trip down
misery lane as reproaching her skills to control my brothers.
Against the both of us, the prats don’t stand a chance.
I mumble my thanks and end the conversation quickly, tears stinging my eyes.
hard for me to think of my family – I almost envy Harry’s
ignorance. I avoided contact with them after the battle.
From a brood of nine, Voldemort and his minions reduced us to three,
four if you include the git stuck in the Broom Registration Office in
Swansea, which most of us don’t. Mum died defending us against a
Death Eater attack at 12 Grimmauld Place during Christmas holiday the
year after Sirius’s death. Charlie succumbed to a Death Eater
attack in Romania later in my fifth term while trying to rally the
local wizarding community against Voldemort. George died next to
Fred in the last battle as the two fended off six Death Eaters in the
best traditions of the Prewett family. Voldemort killed Bill
himself. My brother stood against him, protecting me as I lay
unconscious with ancient wards but in the end bravely falling with so
many others. Dad died last of all as he defeated Lucius Malfoy.
as he’d sworn, became our surrogate parent with some success. Of
the three of us, Fred lost the most, but he still had Remus as a
‘senior consultant’ to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes and his friends,
especially Angelina. Fred married her in a small ceremony after I
completed my final term at Hogwarts. Lee Jordan was the best man
and Alicia Spinnet, the maid of honour. Remus loaned his talents
as a Marauder to provide Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes a competitive
edge. Ron gave up on his ambition to become an Auror and devoted
himself to his two other obsessions, Hermione and Quidditch.
After having tried Hermione’s stoicism for two straight years, he
gathered enough nerve to ask her out in his sixth year and, despite
their turbulent relationship, they’ve have been together ever
since. They married the month before I ran into Harry, after she
completed her Healer training. I was her maid of honour and Fred,
the best man; Neville was still collecting plants in Borneo. Ron
made his way on to the starting seven of the Chudley Cannons in spite
of his numerous injuries and, if not for lacklustre Seeking, they would
be leading the league now. Still, third isn’t bad.
sublimated my grief in school work, then with my Auror training and a
few indifferent relationships, the latter still much to Ron’s
dismay. He and Hermione, mostly Hermione, tried to get me to talk
about things. Faced with their oppressive, questioning gaze over
Christmas holidays during my seventh year, I moved into George’s old
room over the shop. Remus let it be known he’d always be there
for advice, a kind ear, or moral support should I require it. If
only he had been a little younger. Fred and I, however, had a
tacit agreement not to discuss either our losses or my love life.
Talk of Harry was particularly taboo. I half-suspect that to this
day Fred believes Harry was responsible for Mum’s death; I’ve never
been able to tell him Harry had felt likewise. He avoided all of
us for a month, slinking away under his invisibility cloak to the least
explored parts of the castle. Nor was he there for the nightmares
when he begged her for forgiveness. Both of Fred and I were
unaware Harry had survived until that day two years ago. Though
now I can understand why Remus, Ron, and Hermione kept that bit of news
from Fred and me, I still hated them for it.
The day Harry and
I met is permanently etched in my memory. I’d just left the Leaky
Cauldron after another rousing hearing with Hermione on one of my few
days off from training fit to hex into oblivion the next ruddy idiot
with delusions of controlling my life when I collided with some bloke,
sending the contents of my half-opened satchel on to the
pavement. The curses came to my lips quicker than I thought
possible as I knelt to pick up my notes, obscuring his apologies.
Something in the voice clicked, however, and I glanced up – and
unceremoniously fell flat on my arse. Only a trace of the scar
remained, but the rest of his face, notably the piercing green eyes,
was unchanged, well, maybe a little fuller and his glasses suited him
better. Noting his inability to place me, it took all my
self-control to introduce myself calmly as an old schoolmate of his,
especially when a flicker of recognition crossed his face finally as he
introduced himself. A shock went through my arm as he helped me
to my feet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I blushed like I had ten
years before. When he invited me to a pub, I nearly pointed back
to the Leaky Cauldron before correcting myself.
While the day
we met is still clear to me, the evening is rather blurry. The
back-story I’d concocted as a Healer, suitably veiled in Muggle terms,
would have received at least an ‘E’ from my Auror instructors.
Even so, I could tell Harry wasn’t entirely convinced, though I could
tell he didn’t know why. Switching topics, I asked what had
brought him to the area. In the process of ferreting out the tale
of Harry’s latest romantic debacle, we proceeded to get right
pissed. Knowing the Harry that was, he was probably trying to
drown his embarrassment. I was torn between jealousy and quashing
what I feared was an unreasonable feeling of hope. Er, I also
think I snogged him senseless in the booth – not that he minded. Naughty Ginny. George would have been proud.
we managed to extract ourselves from the pub. Harry and I walked
hand in hand back to the Leaky Cauldron like a couple of schoolkids,
occasionally stopping for a quick drunken snog. For good or ill,
he was a gentleman, not hinting a one-off. I think he actually
quoted Macbeth, before he asked for my number. I lied
convincingly enough that I was in the process of moving so my telephone
hadn’t been connected, suggesting we meet at the same place next
afternoon. We spent the rest of our holiday together, much to the
irritation of Ron and Hermione and Harry’s friends. Well, sod them.
I told Hermione and my brothers that Harry was alive, Ron and Hermione
gave one another terrified glances suggesting they already knew.
The Floo Authority probably wished they had some censoring charms after
I’d finished with those two. I sent them each a Howler for good
measure. Fred’s response was guarded, torn between pleasure of
the return of the prodigal brother and chief investor and cursing the
continued existence of the cause of our mother’s death.
Thankfully, the former sentiments won out.
Harry still had
two-and-a-half years left until he graduated while I’d six months left
of Auror training, so we were only able to ring each other and meet on
the occasional weekend. I had to move out of Diagon Alley to be
able to use that ruddy telephone, though Fred and Angelina were well
pleased to get me out of the way. After completing my training
and enduring Hermione and Ron’s remonstrating, I decided to move
north. I know they didn’t want to see either of us hurt, but I
persisted stubbornly. I’d fallen for this Harry as hard as I had
for the other one. Our Harry.
bleary-eyed into the shower wishing to drown the tears threatening to
cascade down. Times like this, I don’t know why I hadn’t listened
to them. Harry’s busy in the sitting room cleaning Hedwig’s cage
so he can’t witness this latest crack in my armour. I’m stronger than this, a voice in my head chimes, only to recall that I’ve yet to tell him what I am, and what he’s becoming. Oh, damnable bugger.