It was one year to the day since she had started working in the supermarket. Both her Social Worker and her foster mum had used all their contacts, not to mention their considerable combined powers of persuasion, to badger the manager into giving her a chance. Eventually, he had taken her on despite her total lack of qualifications, and the stigma of having been ‘in care’.
Vicky had soon proved herself to be a reliable and diligent worker, and quickly progressed from shelf stacking to working on the tills. Her cheerful efficiency and good nature made her popular with staff and customers alike. Now she had a good pay rise to look forward to, having successfully completed her first year. Maybe she would treat herself to that nice dress she had been admiring in the High Street.
She mentally reviewed her finances, the rent was paid, her bus pass still had a month to run, she had no outstanding bills, and she would receive her annual bonus next week. Yes, that dress would be perfect to go to her friend Sandra’s engagement party, and the gorgeous green colour would definitely suit her. Green was always her favourite, for some reason!
She noticed a young man with messy black hair and glasses arrive at the queue two tills down from her. ‘Mmm, cute,’ she thought. The young man looked across and their eyes met for an instant before Vicky turned her attention back to her work. ‘Green eyes, too. Definitely cute! Paula will probably try to chat that one up when he gets to her till.’
The next time she looked across, though, the young man had left the queue and was heading back into the store. She smiled slightly and thought, ‘typical male – forgotten something’. Dragging her attention away from thoughts of cute young men, she went back to helping pack the bags of the old lady she was serving, and getting her change sorted out.
After that she had to answer a question from her supervisor. When she turned back to her next customer with a, “Sorry to keep you waiting,” her heart skipped a beat. It was the young man with the messy hair, and he was smiling at her! Close up, he looked even better, and those green eyes were mesmerising. She managed to stop staring long enough to put his shopping through the till. A few snack foods, some toiletries, a newspaper, and the biggest, most expensive bunch of flowers the store sold. He must have gone back for the flowers, she was sure they hadn’t been in his basket earlier.
She managed to find her voice when she gave him his change and receipt. “Those are beautiful flowers. Are they for someone special?”
His voice was nice too, soothing and gentle. “They’re for a very special young lady.” He was smiling again, straight into her eyes. “I was hoping she would like them.”
Vicky felt herself start to blush, and tore her eyes away. “Lucky girl” she murmured.
She winced and rubbed her back as she turned to serve the next customer. The young man hadn’t left yet. “Long day?” he asked sympathetically.
“Yeah,” she smiled, “but only another hour before my shift finishes. I’ll survive.” ‘Now what on earth made me tell him that?’ she wondered to herself.
* * *
Vicky left the staff entrance an hour later, chatting with Paula. She stopped dead when she saw the young man standing outside, with the bunch of flowers in his hand. “Hello, again,” he said, smiling a smile which seemed to set a swarm of butterflies dancing around Vicky’s stomach.
She turned to her friend. “I…I’ll speak to you later, shall I?”
Paula swept an appraising look over the young man before replying. “Yeah, maybe much later.” She smiled a knowing smile before whispering, “And I’ll want to know all the details, OK?” Vicky aimed a punch at her friend’s arm as she walked away, giggling softly.
Something about the way the man was standing, and the shy but determined look on his face, seemed to strike a chord in Vicky’s memory. Before she could analyse this, he was speaking again. “I said these flowers were for a very special lady, and if you would accept them as a gift from me, I will be the lucky one.”
No-one had ever bought Vicky such beautiful flowers before, and she was finding it hard to speak. “They… They’re fabulous. I… I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Well, how about you let me take you out to dinner tonight? That will be thanks enough.”
Vicky smiled happily. This day just kept getting better and better!
* * *
She had said yes. Of course she had. Nice young men were at a premium in Vicky’s life, and when they came with gorgeous green eyes as a bonus, she wasn’t going to say no!
They had arranged for her to be picked up at seven, which had given her plenty of time to go and buy the new dress, and wash her hair. She had to keep her hair scraped back in a ponytail for work, but now it hung loose, in a shimmering auburn mane. The new dress flattered her slim figure, and wasn’t too revealing. At least it covered up the nasty scar near her shoulder, which had puzzled the hospital so much a few years ago.
She was just starting to check her watch a little anxiously when the doorbell rang at twenty past seven. “I’m so sorry I’m late.” He looked nervous. “I had to check up a couple of things, and it took longer than I expected to get hold of the right people.”
Vicky laughed. “I suppose this is what they call ‘fashionably late’. As long as the restaurant hasn’t given our table away, I’ll forgive you. I’m starving!”
As they prepared to leave, Vicky thought she had better establish the ground rules for the evening. She hadn’t had the best of experiences with men, and even though she already felt strangely comfortable to be with this particular young man, she didn’t want any misunderstandings. “The last bloke to take me out for a meal thought that a bottle of wine and a lasagne was enough to earn him visiting rights to my knickers.” She blushed slightly, but kept her gaze steady. “He was wrong, OK?”
Satisfied that the young man’s expression hadn’t revealed any tell-tale flickers of disappointment or lust, she allowed herself to be led out into the warm summer's evening.
* * *
This young man turned out to be good company, and Vicky found out that he had been orphaned at an early age, and then brought up by relatives who hated him. Somehow, this made it easier for her to tell him how she knew of no family, other than her foster parents. They had taken her in after she had been found wandering, dazed and confused, in a local park with torn clothes, a broken arm and a strange burn on her shoulder. This caused a look of pain and sorrow in his eyes, but none of the shocked surprise she usually saw.
He had asked if she remembered her childhood, but she had to admit she remembered nothing of her life before that day in the park. She explained she had been given the name ‘Victoria Park’ after the place she was found, and she had been given the first of January as an arbitrary birthday, but really she had no idea who she was, or how old she was.
Then he asked her about her dreams, and she told him about the nice one where she was a little girl surrounded by a large and loving family, and the happy one where she was flying through the air somehow, and felt free and alive. Finally she told him about the nightmare, where she was running towards a man who was hidden in the shadows. She knew he would make her feel safe and loved, but before she could reach him a pair of evil red eyes would loom up at her, there would be a flash of light, and she would wake up sweating.
After that, his eyes had seemed to gleam with unshed tears. He had swallowed nervously before asking, “And how about your life now? I expect a beautiful girl like you has a string of boyfriends running after her?”
She blinked at the compliment. “No, I suppose I… haven’t found the right boy, yet.” She was suddenly nervous. “And how about you? Why is there no special lady in your life?” She laughed suddenly. “Here we are, half way through our meal, talking about boyfriends and girlfriends, and I don’t even know your name yet!”
He smiled at last. “It’s Harry. Harry Potter. There is one very special girl in my life, but I lost her a long time ago.” A single tear ran down his cheek, but he was still smiling as he looked into her eyes. “I’ve spent almost every waking hour of the last five years, seven months and two days trying to find her again.”
Vicky’s brow furrowed as she made a quick mental calculation. “But that’s… that would be the day I was found in the park!” Her eyes widened in shock.
“That’s why I was late picking you up. I had to check with the specialists at the hospital if I could tell you who you are, having lost your memory like that.” He was watching her carefully now. “Your dreams indicate that your memories are still in there, and we can get them back, if you want.”
Vicky felt as if her whole life had been turned upside down. “So what did they say, can you tell me who I am?”
Harry reached across and held her hand. “Your name is Ginevra Molly Weasley. Your twenty-second birthday is tomorrow, the 11th of August. You have a mother, father and six brothers, all of whom are currently preparing the biggest birthday party your home has ever seen.”
He suddenly looked shy and nervous again, and squeezed her hand. “And if you want him back, you have a boyfriend who loves you very, very much.”