Her eyes opened slowly and stared, uncomprehendingly, around the darkened room. Odd instruments that emitted piercing bleeps and sickly green light surrounded her. That light. The colour of the light frightened her. The piercing noises were steadily increasing in frequency, which only added to her growing terror. She wanted to move, oh, she wanted to move so badly, but excruciating pain assaulted her when she twitched her arms and legs.
The sound of running footsteps echoed into the room from the tiled hallway. Her breathing was unsteady now and her ribs flamed with the movement of her chest. She was going to die, she knew it. She had to get away from that room before the person reached her...
A white-coated figure was outlined in the doorway for a moment before light flooded the room and the person walked inside.
"Please try to calm down, Miss," a male voice pleaded. She felt a moment of intense disorientation before she realized that she was in a hospital. She shook her head weakly and found herself laughing rather hysterically in relief.
"Hospital, I'm in a hospital," her voice rasped, and the concerned male voice confirmed her statement.
"You were admitted into the hospital two weeks ago," the man - a nurse, she now realized - explained to her while he examined the electronic devices arranged around her bed. "You were unconscious and badly injured, but you're going to make a full recovery.My name is Samuel and I am your charge nurse." He removed a pen from the pocket of his overcoat and jotted something onto a clipboard that he retrieved from the foot of her bed. "Do you remember what you were doing before your accident?"
"I..." The knowledge slipped from her mind before she could put it into words. "I can't remember." Unease began to pool in her gut and she winced when her brow began to furrow. Her head throbbed dizzyingly.
"You shouldn't feel alarmed that you can't remember. People who sustain head injuries often have trouble remembering the events leading up to the trauma. Can you tell me your name?"
Her face crumpled and she could feel her chin begin to quiver against her will. "I can't remember anything." Even her voice seemed swollen and it lodged itself uncomfortably in her throat. "What happened to me?"
"We don't know, although your injuries suggest that you were badly beaten. You suffered a severe concussion, deep tissue bruising on your arms and legs, and two broken ribs, which resulted in a collapsed lung." Samuel placed his hand on her shoulder. "Are you having trouble breathing?" When she nodded he removed the stethoscope from around his shoulders and instructed her to lean back.
She jumped at the shock of the cold instrument against her skin. "It sounds like your lungs are healing, though it will be a few weeks before you are able to breathe deeply," Samuel said, after a moment of gentle prodding. "Would you like a glass of water?" She nodded and he disappeared from her line of sight for a moment to return with a small glass.
"Thank you," she said and managed to take a small sip with his assistance.
"Would you like anything else? Perhaps something small to eat, or something to reduce your pain?" The very thought of food made her stomach churn unpleasantly, but relief from the constant throbbing in her head and chest would be welcome. Samuel handed her a small white pill and a second glass of water.
After she took the pill she looked up at Samuel, the information he had given her was just beginning to sink in. "Why do you think I was beaten?"
"The bruising patterns on your arms and legs suggest malicious intent, but this is just speculation."
"No. No, I don't think I was. I wasn't beaten," she said in a stronger voice, knowing somehow this was the truth. Samuel nodded obligingly but even her pain-clouded eyes could detect his disbelief and pity. It made her angry. "I wasn't!" she insisted and he nodded once again.
"Please, I didn't mean to upset you. It is very important that you don't over-tax your lungs. You are safe here. There is nothing for you to worry about." She nodded, her breathing once again slowing.
"What am I going to do if I don't regain my memory?" she asked in a small voice.
Samuel paused for a moment. "Sometimes looking through possessions helps patients to regain their memories. Would you like to see the clothing you were wearing when you were admitted to the hospital?" She nodded and after a moment of shuffling about in a bed-side cupboard, Samuel removed a small bad. He helped her sit up and untied the secure plastic ties that held the bag closed.
Folded neatly at the top of the bag was a tunic-like black shirt and matching black leggings. She shook her head, pulling the fabric out of the bag and onto her lap. The garments were eccentric in style, but they provoked no sudden flashes of insight. She reached into the bag a second time and removed a pair of mud-crusted, serviceable boots. A third peek into the bag revealed it to be empty save for a small golden ring nearly concealed by a pleat of plastic. She picked up the band and examined it closely. It was scratched and worn, but not damaged. The ring lacked a set gemstone; however, it was engraved with delicate twining script. She squinted. The writing had almost been obscured by wear. "Harmony Wesley..." she said uncertainly. The writing could easily have said something else, the engraving was nearly ruined.
"Does that mean anything to you?" Samuel asked her.
"I..." she took a moment to breathe. Her heart was racing. "I think that's my name."
He jotted down a note on the clipboard and nodded. "When we removed the ring we saw the engraving, but we couldn't make out the letters. I'll see if we can track down your records." He shifted his weight, looking as though he was trying to make a difficult decision. "There's something more," he said.
"What is it?" When he didn't reply immediately her imagination jumped to the worst possible conclusion. "Am I going to die?"
"No, you're going to make a full recovery," Samuel said. "Which is a miracle in itself. Your injuries were incredibly severe. It's amazing that you survived." He paused, taking a deep breath. "What's even more amazing is that your baby survived."
"Baby?" she whispered. "I'm pregnant?
* * * * *
A white heat filled her abdomen; a pain so excruciating she would remember it until the day she died. Sweat broke across her forehead and a terrified whimper was torn from her throat. Something was very wrong, but she could not grasp what it was. The lack of knowledge that accompanied her pain was far more frightening than anything she had ever experienced.
She was losing something precious. She could feel it being wrested from her body. It was unthinkable that after she had lost everything else, this small joy was being stolen as well.
A young woman, not much older than twenty, opened her eyes drowsily. She had dreamed of that night again. Over a year had passed, but the memory was still fresh in her mind. Sharp needles of loss continued to prick her at times like these. Even though she had no memory leading up to that traumatic day, she knew that she must have been happy once.
Harmony stretched stiffly and slipped out of the too-hard bed in her university dormitory. It was three o'clock in the morning, but she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep again. Harmony sighed softly to herself as she slipped on a pair of padded slippers and shuffled down the dormitory hall to the washroom. She purposefully avoided looking at herself in the mirror as she passed. She knew what she would look like after one of those dreams. Her face would be drawn and greyish and her eyes would be swollen from the tears she had shed in her sleep. Her hair would be fit for a bird to nest in, but that was not much of an abnormality.
Harmony padded back to her bare room and tried desperately to distract her sorrow-filled mind with complexities of scientific literature.
* * * * *
"Harmony, can you help me with this sentence? I can't seem to get it right," a blond-haired girl asked from across the table. Three girls sat in a dusty study hall in the basement of their dormitory. Other students rarely visited the dimly lit room with its peeling red paint and graffiti-covered furniture. Harmony, however, found she enjoyed studying in locations that most people found unwelcoming. The dark room with its circular tables gave Harmony a sense of peace and belonging that she couldn't quite explain.
Harmony smiled at her friend in an attempt to banish the odd thoughts that fluttered across her mind. It felt so nice to study in a small group, even if her friends could be slightly bothersome at times. Elaine had a tendency to underestimate her work, which was rather odd because she was one of the most confident and assertive people Harmony knew. Caroline, on the other hand, worked diligently, but only as long as she had nothing better to do.
"I'm sure it's fine," Harmony chuckled, accepting the piece of paper her friend passed. It was Latin. Harmony blanched, feeling something stir deep within herself. She had never been entirely comfortable taking Latin, however she had learned the language regardless of the oddly restless feelings it invoked within her. Harmony convinced herself that it would be useful to know the language that was the basis of contemporary scientific terminology. "I think you miss-conjugated the last verb, but other than that it looks perfect."
"You're sure?" Elaine asked needlessly. She wore a slight frown that somehow made her fine-boned features seem even more delicate.
"Of course she's sure, Elaine," Caroline said with a grin in her voice as she looked up from her assignment. Long dark hair spilled across her page and Caroline impatiently brushed her hair behind her ear.
Elaine made a small noise through her nose and rolled her eyes. "How could I have possibly doubted?"
Blue spots, much like the after-image from a very bright camera flash, danced around the periphery of Harmony's vision.
"Harmony is too brilliant sometimes," Elaine muttered teasingly. She gave a wide grin and accepted the paper back from Harmony's shaking fingers. Harmony clutched her temples and crumpled to the surface of the worn table. There was a sharp hissing in her ears and small blue dots swarmed in front of her eyes. She gasped in panic before the world went black.
She stood in the centre of a sterile room, feeling unexpectedly joyful. There were warm arms enfolding her in a comfortable embrace. A gruff voice whispered into her ear.
"Is this going to be enough for us, love?"
She blushed, nodding her head as she imagined possibilities for the bare flat. The cream coloured walls gave an illusion of space and the hardwood floors lent the tiny apartment an unusual type of warmth that she instantly adored. It was small, but comfortable. It was the perfect home for a pair of young newlyweds.
"It's wonderful," she whispered.
The strong arms tightened around her waist and she shivered when she felt a kiss placed on the side of her neck. "It's ours, then."
She quivered with happiness as she stared down at the simple golden band on her ring finger, shining softly from their entwined hands. There was only one thing that could possibly make this moment any better, she thought and her mood dampened. A sliver of fear pierced her heart; she wished desperately for peace. She yearned for a simple life with her family and friends.
* * * * *
Harmony's brown eyes flickered open to the sight of pure white walls. These walls, however, did not shine with the promise of future happiness. She was in a hospital. The soothing tendrils of her dream were quickly chased away by feelings of regret and heartbreak. Harmony's daughter had died in this very building.
* * * * *
Caroline helped with Harmony's paperwork and before long, Harmony was discharged from the hospital. Harmony sat silently in Caroline's car, her emotions writhing inside her. She hated hospitals.
Harmony stared out the window at the passing scenery, trying to distract herself from the unpleasant emptiness that resounded within her chest. Why couldn't she remember anything? She had given birth to a baby girl, but Harmony couldn't even remember who the father was. Her gaze flickered down to the simple golden wedding band on her finger.
At least she knew she had been married, Harmony thought with a wry smile. But why hadn't her husband looked for her? Perhaps he had beaten her. Perhaps it had been his cruelty that had caused her to miscarry her child. But she couldn't think about that. It couldn't be true.
"What did the doctor say?" Caroline asked when the silence in the small vehicle became too pronounced. Harmony sighed, being startled out of her rather morbid thoughts. She had to pull herself together.
"He said there was nothing wrong with me, save low iron levels in my blood. According to him, I should eat more red meat." Caroline nodded, her long dark hair cascading down her back and glowing in the afternoon light. Harmony stared, wondering how it was that someone with such dark hair could possibly have red highlights. Caroline's eyes did not leave the road.
Another silence stretched before Caroline spoke again. "The room next-door to yours in the dormitory has been rented out again. The new people should be moving in right now."
Harmony nodded, a small snicker twisting her lips. "Hopefully the new students will be a little quieter then the last two." Caroline laughed, shaking her head at Harmony's complaint. "I know it didn't bother you, having been brought up in such a large family, but I like some semblance of peace while I try to sleep," Harmony grumbled.
"I don't see how anyone could possibly be louder than Hamish and Robert were," Caroline laughed, turning off the car engine as they reached the parkade outside of the student residence. Caroline watched Harmony closely as she exited the car and walked toward the towers where they lived.
The late fall air was crisp and Harmony breathed in deeply. One of Caroline's shoes scuffed the uneven pavement and Harmony turned towards her friend. Caroline's gaze followed her much like a protective mother's would a child who was just learning to walk.
Harmony winced. Someday thoughts of children would cease to hurt her, but for now it was best to try and forget. It was rather ironic that she wished to forget one of the few memories she possessed.
Chaos greeted them when they reached the eleventh floor of the tower. There were dozens of boxes littering the carpeted floor and two loud masculine voices filled the air as they stepped out of the elevator and into the hall.
"What do you mean it's my fault? You were the one who was supposed to look after the papers!"
"No way! Kingsley left them with you because everyone knows I'm rubbish at remembering little things like that!"
"Little things? This is hardly little! We can't check in formally until we bring the stupid form to the front desk!"
"It's just a bloody parchment. We could always just use..."
"Shut up, you prat! We're not the only ones on this floor! Remember where we are!"
Harmony peeked around the corner of the hallway but Caroline blocked her way, her eyes unnaturally wide and her face extremely pale.
"I suppose they're going to be louder after all," Caroline said, with a soft forced laugh. Harmony frowned, trying to peek around her friend's form. Since Caroline was a good inch taller than her, Harmony could see nothing more than the boxes littering the floor in front of her room.
"Let's do these poor blokes a favour and see if we can get them a spare key from the advisor." Caroline suggested, almost pushing Harmony back into the elevator they had just exited.
"I'm a little tired, Caroline..."
"All the more reason we need to do this." The elevator door chimed closed. "You'll never be able to sleep with the racket these guys are making."
"They'll never give you the key," Harmony said irritably as her friend pushed her out of the elevator and towards the front counter in the main atrium of the residence building.
"Perhaps not, but they will give you the key if you ask nicely. You are studious and proper. How can they not trust you?"
"Caroline," Harmony said in warning, but she could tell her friend could barely hear her.
"I need to use the loo, so I'll be right back." Caroline said, heading away from the counter and cutting off Harmony's protests. "Don't go back up without me."
"I don't want to do..."
"Promise me you won't go back up without me," Caroline said in a sing-song voice and disappeared around a corner.
Harmony leaned against the front counter and ground her teeth in irritation.
"Hi, Harmony, is there anything I can help you with?" the charming voice of the residence advisor jolted her out of her anger.
"I'd like the spare key to room 1147, please."
* * * * *
Once Caroline rounded the corner and disappeared from Harmony's line of vision instead of entering the main-floor washroom she darted back into the elevator. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest and she could feel adrenaline powering her movements. She would have to work quickly if she wanted to avoid a catastrophe.
When she stepped onto the eleventh floor she was greeted by the angry voices of the two men reverberating through the narrow hallway. Caroline reached into an inner pocket of her coat and removed a small piece of polished wood. She spoke a phrase of flawless Latin and gave the stick a quick swish. Now when Harmony became tired of waiting for Caroline at the front desk she would find the elevator had broken down. Hopefully this would be enough to dissuade Harmony from coming up to the eleventh floor. Caroline spoke a few more words and pointed up at the overhead lights in the hallway, and the winked out instantly. A soft popping noise indicated that the hallway had been isolated from unwanted intruders.
The voices stilled as the lights extinguished. Caroline burst around the corner shouting Latin phrases as she ran towards the two men. The taller of the two men shouted obscenities at her as he fell to the floor. The dark-haired man, however, had been much more alert than his friend and had dodged away from the stream of sparks and light that had been expelled from Caroline's small wand.
More quickly than she had expected, her opponent retaliated and Caroline found herself pinned where she stood. Her breathing hitched and her anger simmered as she watched the dark-haired man nonchalantly adjust his glasses and release his partner from her spell. So much for taking an aggressive approach, Caroline thought darkly, scowling with all her might as the two men walked towards her calmly.
"Who are you?" The steely gaze of the dark-haired man did not intimidate Caroline in the slightest. It was difficult; after all, to be frightened of people you had known most of your life.
"It doesn't matter who I am," Caroline said, lifting her chin in the most defiant motion she was capable of at the moment. "You, however, are Ronald Weasley, and of course, Harry Potter." She nodded at the tall redhead and the dark-haired man in turn.
"Very clever," Ron growled, squinting at her in the dark of the hallway before he cast a questioning glance at his be-spectacled friend. "What do you think she's doing here?"
"My guess is that she's an Auror. Her movements were very quick." Harry ran a hand through his unkempt black hair.
"Funny way of showing that we're on the same side," Ron grumbled under his breath.
"For Merlin's sake! I am standing right here!" Caroline exclaimed, feeling a blush of anger flare to her cheeks. These two men had always been very proficient at ignoring her. Caroline hated being ignored.
"It's funny that Headquarters didn't tell us that there would be other Aurors in the area," Harry mused, tapping his wand absently and staring at Caroline as though she were a puzzle to be solved.
"That's because I'm not an Auror, you ass!" Caroline spat. Her irritation increased two-fold as all the reaction that her statement produced in the two men was a subtle raising of eyebrows.
"It just goes to show you that we can't go anywhere at all without being recognized," Ron grumbled, a glimmer covering his face as he spoke. His vibrant red hair dulled to a deep auburn and his eyes became a muddy brown. The freckles that adorned the bridge of his nose fled from sight and even the form of his face shifted.
Harry nodded to his friend. His features blurred together and his glasses vanished. His dark hair became a dusty blond and the vibrant green of his eyes was diluted to a watery grey.
"Well, all we have to do now is figure out why she attacked us." Harry walked around Caroline in a slow tight circle. "Are you a Death Eater?" he hissed, fixing her with a dangerous gaze.
Caroline fought the urge to shiver at his close proximity and ultimately failed despite her anger. Caroline turned her head away from Harry, disgusted by her own body's mutinous response.
"If I was a Death Eater, I would have cast Unforgivables, rather than elementary hexes," Caroline said with a roll of her eyes. "I'm surprised that you two haven't been killed yet. I don't think I've ever met two more careless Aurors."
"She has you there, mate," Ron sighed with a slight laugh and a shake of his head. It seemed very odd to Caroline to hear his voice coming from someone who looked like a stranger. A feeling of cold dread gripped her. Could they recognize her voice?
"You two can't stay here," Caroline said suddenly, realizing that time was quickly passing and nothing had been done to alleviate the danger of the situation.
"We can't?" A corner of Harry's mouth curled in a half smile. "And why would that be?"
Caroline set her jaw. "You have to leave!" The two men exchanged a look and fixed their eyes on her once more.
"She's protecting someone," Harry said, narrowing his eyes at her. Caroline's heart jumped to her throat. Was he using Legilimency? He must have been, she thought wildly, looking at the floor at once. She desperately hoped she had broken their eye contact before he had been able to discover anything of value concerning her secret.
"Who?" Ron asked, his eyes narrowing suspiciously. Caroline closed her eyes, wishing desperately that she was having a nightmare. Unfortunately, when her eyes opened Ron's disguised form continued to stand in front of her.
"I can't tell," Harry said quietly. "It's almost as though she's bound by a charm."
Caroline's mouth pressed into a thin line. She sighed, deciding that she had to cut her losses and surrender to their interrogation for the greater good. There was significantly more than the security of her operation hanging perilously in the balance. "I work at the Department of Mysteries," Caroline said, looking up into Harry's disbelieving face.
Even through the glimmer, she thought she could see facets of his true face. His hair remained dishevelled, although now it was blond. His eyes glinted strangely, almost as though there was something shielding them from the world, though no glasses could be seen.
Harry roughly grabbed Caroline's wrist and raised the sleeve of her jacket to reveal her bare forearm. Nodding as though he was somewhat satisfied with her answer, he checked her other arm and then turned back to Ron. "She's clean," he said before performing a charm on her wand. "She's never cast dark magic with that wand, at least."
"Thanks, Harry," Caroline grumbled in irritation, momentarily forgetting herself in the offended relief she felt at his proclamation. The foreign tone she had adopted to conceal herself had slipped.
Harry's face snapped up and he studied her carefully. "I know you."
Caroline's heart trembled.
"You went to Hogwarts didn't you?" he asked.
Caroline remained still under the two Aurors' questioning.
"Your voice sounds very familiar," said Ron and a moment later the elevator chimed and its doors slid open.
Caroline swore venomously. How could she have possibly forgotten how many times her father complained about the inability of certain electrical objects to hold magic spells?