Disclaimer: All the characters you recognise belong to JK Rowling and I'm just borrowing them. The others and the plot are mine for my sins.
Rubbing his eyes, the reds and greens, which had filled his dreams, started to disappear from his mind. Every night brought the same dream as if it was teasing him with his old life, a life that he was desperate to remember. Yet it had been thirteen months since he had awakened in a Wizarding Red Cross hospital without his memory. At first, he couldn't even remember the simple fact that he was a Wizard, and he'd had the world explained to him.
He had pieced together small parts of information from a mixture of old newspapers, magazines and what he had been told by Healers. He was found with a broken wand in the same area that the final confrontation had taken place with You-Know-Who. Therefore, it seemed to make sense that he must have been part of an organisation called the Order of the Phoenix but that hardly helped things, as many people of around his age had been part of the organisation through going to Hogwarts school.
After he had been released from the hospital, he had spent the first month solely scanning the newspaper. Hardly eating, he focused all his energy on reading the descriptions of missing Wizards, only to find that there were hundreds of names listed; names including those who had fought in the battle, and even more who were dragged into the after effects with the blast. It was almost as if it had wiped a whole region of their minds. Trying to find an identity, with nothing to go on, was not only devastating when you hit endless rejections, but was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
His mind seemed to enjoy playing tricks with him. Pieces of information in his dreams hinted at his past life; he knew that they were the key in bringing back his memory. He saw glimpses of the final moments before his life changed and his memory disappeared. Yet his visions were blurred, and masked with reds and greens.
A girl's voice was calling after him. She sounded frantic and worried. He felt himself smile at her, despite the frenzied screams and the flashes of light around them. Something about her made all his worries go away. It was almost as if the world would stop if they were holding onto each other. He moved closer through the blurs and saw her amazing red hair through the multicoloured mist that was encircling the area. He had a sudden urge to rush over, but he kept his distance. He could feel his heart pounding, as he got closer. He needed to get her away and make sure she was safe.
"You need to go, it's close." He told her, refusing to turn around and look at her.
"I can't leave you here." She explained stubbornly. "You're not facing him alone."
He let out a small sigh, he didn't have time for an argument and even if he did, he had a feeling she wouldn't let him win this one. "Well, will you at least promise me you'll stay out the way? This is not just your fight, and I'm not going to let you die because of him."
"Okay, then," she replied reluctantly, "but if anything happens, I'm coming after you."
He smiled, "I'll see you in a bit then."
"Yeah, you'd better get that ring ready."
He had raised his wand and turned to face a dark robed figure. Muttering something he couldn't make out, a flash of light left his wand. Milliseconds later, a flash of green light filled the area. A pain filled his head as he fell to the floor, whispering words into the air; their meaning escaping him. Then everything suddenly went black, his dreams ended as he always woke up at that point.
Dismissing the frustrations of the night's taunts, he got out of the uncomfortable camp bed and rolled up his sleeping bag. Folding the bed and placing it in a neat corner of the empty tent, he looked around. He had overslept, as the tent was empty of the normal scenes of chaos in the mornings. He pulled on a red t-shirt, a tattered pair of jeans, and a pair of ripped trainers. He grabbed his wash bag and studied his simple belongings.
He wanted more than this. There had to be something deep down in his memories that was locked and waiting to get out.
As he stood at the sink, he threw ice cool water over his mutilatedface. Three large scars adorned his face; two of them started at his hairline and ripped through his now useless right eye. He ran his fingers over the deep cut and his eye. He was certainly no oil painting now, scarred for life. It was no wonder he was still missing. No matter how many spells the camp Healer-in-Chief had tried and how many potions she had given him, the war wounds seemed to be fixed upon his face.
Well, things didn't change by wishing them away, he thought. I might as well get on with things.
He collected his things and left them with the rest of his possessions. Leaving the empty tent, he walked through the camp.
The camp was filled with around a hundred winter tents or so. These were more sustainable than the summer ones they used, made of a heavier material to withstand the poor weather conditions. These huge replacement homes were far from the average tent and contained a stove and a chimney. The green mountains, as the tents were frequently called, could hold fifteen people, and due to their vast size, covered the landscape for as far as the eye could see. They were six feet in depth, and led a clear pathway to the storage, meeting, repair and food tents.
Six months ago, he had made the decision to stop torturing himself and do something with his life. It had taken only a matter of moments to make up his mind about becoming a refugee volunteer. As well as providing a few perks, such as extra food, it had given him something to focus on. Perhaps, more importantly, it felt right to be helping people, as if it was something that he had been born to do.
The camp was normally a subdued place at this time in the morning, but today, there was a certain buzz to it. Most mornings saw people slowly wandering out of the tents at their leisure. No one was putting the extra effort into things anymore; after a year without homes and memories, many seemed to have given up hope. Another day in camp was hardly something to alert the Daily Prophet about; it was more likely to be forgotten into the backdrop of things. Today, however, people seemed to be feeding off the excited air. The whole place was on the verge of exploding and with each passing step, it grew.
It seemed like they all knew something that he didn't. In fact, he was sure that they all knew something he didn't.
He scanned the crowd, looking for someone he might know. He hated being left in the dark over things. Within seconds, his eyes found a flash of the red volunteers' t-shirt with dark brown - almost black - hair whipping against it. Emerging from one of the storage tents, with a frown etched upon her face, was his closest friend.
Staring at her for a few seconds, his curiosity ceased. He could not help but be captivated by her beauty. She had long, straight brown hair that flowed down her back and freckles that were scattered over her olive skin. Her tanned glow was the result of growing up on the continent. Despite her petite frame, there was no doubt of her strength.
"Hey Jack," her voice called back at him, as she forced a smile to grace her lips and made her way over. "So you ready to get started, lightweight?"
"You bet," he replied, meeting her smile, as his green eyes locked in with her brown ones, "but what's going on here?"
"I'll explain, later," she muttered, glaring at a couple of people.
Frankie, or Francesca McGovern if you were skilled with your wand, was the life and the soul of the camp. Everyone seemed to know who she was and what she was doing at that moment in time. She was probably too popular for her own good, in his humble opinion; but her popularity never went to her head. In fact, she was one of the most down - to - earth people around, willing to do whatever anyone needed from her without too many complaints. These were just a few of the qualities she possessed that made her one of his friends and if he was completely honest with himself, he was thinking about taking things further than friendship.
She was his first port of call when he needed to talk about anything. She spent hours of her limited free time with him, attempting to help him unsuccessfully piece parts of his memory back together. She also had an incredible sense of humour, with a smile that could not only light up her face but also the entire room; it lifted him during these fruitless hours. Her brown eyes twinkled with a mischievous intelligence; it was easy to tell why she was so popular.
But how could he even consider starting a relationship with someone, when he didn't even know himself? He owed her so much, and he was not going to damage a friendship for a few moments of passion. For Merlin's sake, he even owed her his name. She was, quite simply, his rock.
To this day, he still could not remember his name. In order to stop his levels of frustration, she had suggested that he rename himself. A couple of hours of laughter had passed, as names were tossed into the air and rejected. That was until Frankie mentioned Jack; a name that had been associated with him around the camp. He was known as the 'Jack of all trades', willing to muck in with everything and anything.
That night was the best one he could remember, despite the fact that he had lost a fortune to her in a poker match. He had never enjoyed himself so much before, and he laughed so much that his sides hurt but despite all that, his heart yearned for something else, something more. It was almost as if that night, she had reminded him of a friend he had forgotten. It felt like a chunk of his heart was missing.
A cry drew him out of his thoughts, as her angry call followed a small boy. The boy was running away, leaving Frankie on the floor, picking up several papers that she had dropped.
"You know, you're not kidding anyone," he said, as he forced himself back to reality, looking at her reddening face.
"Come on, Frankie, spill; what's your problem today?" he asked, as he offered her his hand to help her back to her feet. "You'll feel better after you've ranted over it."
There were frequently problems in refugee camps and this one was no different. Often these problems had one very simple route to it, the amount of food or more importantly the lack of it. Last week, one of the camp volunteers had been found guilty of giving away her food to refugees, leaving her body too weak to do anything helpful. Coughlan had exploded. No matter how good and honourable her intentions may have been in feeding young children, it had resulted in her spending a night in hospital, leaving the camp understaffed. His words, "We are not running a camp for the sick middle class volunteers," were still ringing in many ears.
"It's not really a problem. I mean, it's not like the world is going to stand still."
"Well, the world rarely comes to a standstill," he offered hopefully.
"It's more of an annoyance," she continued as if he hadn't interrupted her. "I mean shouldn't we be doing our jobs instead of trying to become a media darling? What does it matter how much press coverage something gets if it stops us doing the simple things right! There's no point in doing the spectacular if you can't get the simple things right."
He studied her face, trying to read her, but her creased forehead and folded arms did not show the cause of the anger. While her face showed frustration and annoyance, her real emotions remained buried behind the mask she had created for the world to see. Frankie was not normally one to moan over things; big or small. It was one of the things he liked most about her. Instead of sulking over something, she would find a solution to it.
Well, there was no use crying over spilt potion.
You might as well just get on with things. If you were presented with a problem, you just worked around it. No matter how big a problem, how hard the solution was or how creative that you had to be to overcome it, there was always an answer to a problem if you stopped frowning long enough and got on with things.
Anything's possible as long as you've got enough nerve.
Frankie had nerve by the bucket load and a very creative imagination to turn any problem around. She was hardly someone who would get annoyed over things. In fact she had a remarkably high tolerance level. In fact as far as he could remember, he had never seen her annoyed.
He guessed that came from being sent away to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, where her mum and aunts had gone to school. This had kept her a safe distance from any possible threats that You-Know-Who might have caused, but meant she had completed her education in French instead of her mother tongue of English.
He offered her a small smile. "You do know I'm going to need more information, if I'm going to help you out. I can't do anything to help you if you don't tell me the problem."
"Alright, well we've got a new volunteer coming in today. She's quite, no-- very, famous. So they are pulling out all the stops today, instead of letting us do our jobs." Her frown grew, and her voice became tenser with every word she spoke.
"And you know, it's just a huge publicity stunt. You just know she's going to be unprepared for this, a little princess like all the other phoney celebrities are. Meaning ultimately, our workload, my workload, will be doubled as we cover her slack."
"Is she anyone I'd know?" he joked, trying to get her face to relax.
"Jack!" she said, playfully hitting his arm. Her frown dropped a little bit. "Don't try to make me smile. I'm determined to stay annoyed today, for the whole day, in protest."
"But I happen to like your smile," he teased.
She let out a large breath, and a small, forced smile graced her face. "Happy?"
"Ecstatic," he replied with a small grin. "So, on the risk of you reaching for your wand, what's she famous for?"
"She was his girlfriend," came her blunt reply.
"Oh," his mouth dropped open a little.
He had heard the stories about the Boy Who Lived, the hero who conquered the Dark Lord and his girlfriend. Every time he heard of their story, he couldn't help but feel sorry for the pair. The young man had given his life to help the wizarding world and to stop a terrifying dictatorship. Then, when he had earned the right to enjoy his life, it all had ended. No matter what the girl was like and whether she was worth the affection or not, you couldn't help feeling sorry for them.
It was one thing to put your life on hold, knowing that you'd get it back in time; but it was another thing to lose everything completely, while doing just that.
Everyone in the whole world got their lives back together, apart from two people who, perhaps, deserved it most. It was a tragic love story fitting for any generation. A young couple that had sacrificed their own happiness to do the right thing, and thereby, limiting the time they had together.
It was no wonder the events after the war still made the press. And despite the trashy content of Rita Skeeter's articles, he felt compelled to read them as if the tacky reporter could offer some answers. Yet one thing stayed constant amongst the tasteless articles; the pair of them had laid aside their own happiness.
"Voldemort uses people his enemies are close to. He's already used you as bait once, and that was just because you're my best friend's sister. Think how much danger you'll be in if we keep this up. He'll know, he'll find out. He'll try and get to me through you."
"Yeah," she interrupted his thoughts and fledgling memories. "And if everything written in the Daily Prophet is true, she's completely insane and belongs in a ward at St Mungo's; not working in a refugee camp. She needs to be getting the help, instead of giving it out."
"I guess it's lucky then that we don't believe everything in the Prophet," he replied, trying to get back the elusive memory.
"Yeah, but they do sometimes report the truth," she offered. "There has to be a reason why they are saying these things."
"To sell papers, that's why; they're sensationalist. You don't have to read many issues to know that," he replied curtly. "You know as well as I do that they're going to sell far more papers calling her insane and keeping him on the front page, than using the thickness of cauldrons as their headline."
"I guess," she admitted with a small shrug. "Anyone who fought in that battle must not be scared of getting their hands dirty."
"So, it might not be that bad," he suggested, as he watched her tense body starting to relax.
"I guess so," she placed her hand on his left cheek, as she stood on her tiptoes and placed a small kiss on his right one. "You really are sweet, you know. You know exactly what to say to make me feel better."
He shrugged as she returned to her normal height. "What else are friends for?"
"We're more than friends, you know that, right?"
He offered her a broad grin, "I should hope so too; I don't offer my last chocolate frogs to just anyone."
"I feel so honoured." Her eyes twinkled with a mischievous glint, as she squeezed his hand and offered him an impish grin. "So do you want to check her out, and see what all the fuss is about?" She glanced over her shoulder at the crowd of people. "You never know, it might just help jog some of those memories. I mean if you went to Hogwarts, you must have been there at the same time as her."
"Well, there's nothing to lose."
He touched his cheek as he followed after her. The memories would come back later, and so he decided that he might as well focus on the future, leaving the past behind. If that particular memory was the one that would be the trigger to get his memory back, then that would be brilliant, but he didn't want to pin all his hopes on it. His only problem left was that inter-camp relationships, although not completely unheard of, were very much disapproved of as they were deemed to compromise people's jobs as they split their focus.
He stopped his eyes from following her bum as she entered the meeting tent; it was forbidden and plus, she didn't think of him in that way.
As he entered the tent, he realised that the press call had already begun. The place was packed with hardly enough space to breath, let alone move. He forcibly shifted around to the back to try and get a better view; one that was not obstructed by a mass of heads. Managing to achieve a half decent view, he reached his hand over to Frankie and pulled her over towards him.
"Which one is she?" he asked, as he looked at the front table that had been filled with a dozen people, all looking very important.
A young girl with vibrant red hair sat in the middle of a group of men, who were dressed in corporate Red Cross uniforms. She looked like a fragile little girl, but there was a certain power that radiated from her. Years had been added to her young face with deep bags under her eyes and lines that creased her forehead. Her arms were folded and she had a very distant air about her, as if she was unwilling to let people hurt her or feed her to the press that dogged her existence. She looked like she was already bored and frustrated by the day's events, wanting the formalities to end and the press to leave her alone. Who could blame her when they slaughtered her on a daily basis?
The thing that caught his attention, though, was her soulful, deep, brown eyes. They looked like they had seen a lifetime filled with misery. Yet they were the most captivating things he had ever seen.
There was a small growl in his stomach, and it jerked. There was no doubt that she was very pretty and something within him felt very attached to her. Despite everything that must have happened to her, she looked incredible. The small t-shirt and jeans she was wearing highlighted her petite figure and amazing curves. An outfit that would look drab on many others looked fantastic on her. Her brilliant mane of red hair was offset by gold as the sun hit it and he had to force himself not to walk over and run his fingers through her hair. It was ridiculous to want to hug a girl and whisper that everything would be okay to someone whom he had never met before.
"Closeyour mouth and stop drooling," Frankie hissed as she hit his arm.
"Sorry," he muttered. But he wasn't sorry in the slightest, and he couldn't take his eyes off her. It was not just her beauty that was pulling him towards her. Had it been just lust, his heart wouldn't have skipped a beat; there was something much more deep-rooted than that.
"Look," Ginny said in a tense tone, as her red hair crackled with energy. Her hand twitching towards a wand, she appeared to be desperately trying to keep her temper in check. He would not want to face her in a battle; she looked like she could more than hold her own.
"I know you're all fascinated with the state of my mind, but I can assure you that I am as sane as I have ever been. This camp is not about me or what I have done in the past. It makes no difference who my boyfriend is or was, and whether he is still out there somewhere." She gave the briefest pause before she continued, glaring at a couple of reporters in the front row. Her eyes stayed fixed on a blond haired witch with jewelled glasses.
"I'm just one of many people who want to do the right thing, and I shouldn't be treated any differently than anyone else here. In fact, the volunteers should be given more respect as they have being doing it longer." She explained as she gestured to a number of people in the crowd wearing red t-shirts. "So if you lot want a story, you should be following these volunteers around, and revealing the amazing jobs that they are doing by trying to help people recover their lives, not focusing on me and how long it will take me to crack. They are the real heroes in this world, and I just want to play my part and help out."
Coughlan coughed, looking clearly taken aback. He had obviously not expected the spitfire attitude from his publicity toy. "I think that will be all." He got to his feet and indicated to the teenager to do the same. "Miss Weasley?"
She's been talking about you all summer.
"That was actually quite impressive. Maybe she'll last a month," Frankie muttered reluctantly, a new frown appearing across her brow. "What do you think?"
He pulled his eyes away from the girl at the front as she walked out the tent, her long hair flowing behind her. He blinked in order to stop him from following her. There was so much going on in her life; she hardly needed to be followed around by him especially when she still appeared to be in love. A wizard with no identity could hardly compete with The-Boy-Who- Lived and besides, he knew nothing about her, unlike Frankie, his best friend.
"She's pretty," he said tactfully, as he turned his head back to looking at his friend. "Not a patch on you though."
"You're easily pleased."
He turned his head as he watched the eccentric leader of the camp leading her out of the tent with a scowl on his face. She glanced over her shoulder and for the briefest of seconds, he was sure his eyes meet hers. As he stared into those brilliant bright brown eyes, he felt his heart pounding against his ribcage.
There was something about her, something so fiery and passionate, qualities that were there for everyone to see. But it wasn't just that, there was something there that he couldn't explain and he could hardly wait to find out what that something was.
Frankie whacked him on the back of his head, "Come on, let's get away from the press and get on with our work."
"Sure," he muttered as he watched Ginny Weasley walking away, her long red hair dancing behind her as she moved.