A/N: Hello to all the great folks out there! Thank you so much for the reviews and encouragement. Also a HUGE thanks you to my betas edenvirg and Arnel. I couldn't have even thought about getting this far without you guys.
On to some RL stuff. I'll be out of contact until the middle of June. I know, I know, it's terrible. However, I've given the next two chapters to my wonderful beta Arnel, with instructions to post them sometime in the next two weeks.
So please continue to review, and know that I am not ignoring you. I will respond to all the reviews when I return. Thanks again, and keep reading!
Ginny stood speechless for almost fifteen seconds. Her mind refused to work and all thoughts escaped her. Finally, her mind managed to put together a coherent thought.
That's Harry... That's really Harry....OH MY GOD, it's HARRY, she thought.
Harry was wearing a plain pair of jeans and a grey shirt. Ginny stood gawking at how much he had changed over the past year. He had grown another inch and really filled out, even more than before. Ginny realised that she was standing only feet away from Harry. She grabbed her bag and launched herself at him. Just as she began moving, Harry turned toward her and kept going.
Suddenly he called out, "Hey, Taylor! There you are! I thought you would never make it."
Ginny froze in her tracks as Harry's gaze swept right past her, and a small, beautiful blond woman jumped into Harry's arms. For a second, she didn't even realise that Harry and the woman were in a hug. All she could think of was the way his eyes had moved right past her.
It's like he didn't even know who I was, Ginny thought. She was quickly brought back to reality when she realised that Harry and the woman were walking away from her. Ginny saw Harry cast a quizzical look in her direction before the woman grabbed his attention again.
"So, James, I haven't seen you in a few days. How are things going?" she asked.
Ginny was still close enough to hear Harry snort in humour as he answered.
"A few days! Hell, Taylor, you practically live with William now. You might as well move out and move in with him," he laughed.
Ginny began following the pair and saw the woman, Taylor, she reminded herself, faintly blushing and answering.
"Well, actually, James, that's part of the reason I wanted to have lunch with you today."
Harry stopped walking and looked intently at Taylor.
"Oh yeah? What's up, Tay?" he asked.
"Well, the truth is, James, William asked me to marry him, and I said yes! We also decided to go ahead and move in together, seeing as how the lease is up next month anyway."
Harry continued looking intently at Taylor. Suddenly he broke out in a huge grin, grabbed her around the waist, and hoisted her in the air.
"Taylor! That's great... Congratulations! Lunch is on me!"
Ginny watched as Harry put Taylor down, and they walked, laughing together, into Deacon Brodie's Tavern. She stood next to the door, staring at the sign telling of the tragic end of Deacon Brodie. Thinking quickly, she realised that something wasn't right. Harry didn't seem to recognise her at all beyond the questioning look he had given her. Plus, that woman had called him James. It was Harry for sure. So what could be going on?
Ginny had been taking the intro Healer course work at Hogwarts, preparing to go to Healing school afterwards. She already knew that sometimes barging in and challenging a patient was the worst possible thing to do. Ginny also knew that she couldn't lose sight of Harry, or she may not be able to find him again. She began to form a quick plan. It probably wasn't the best, but it was all she had.
Yes, she thought. St. Mungo's in Edinburgh is one of the Healing schools that accepted my application...
Quickly, Ginny made up her mind and walked into the pub. She spotted Harry and Taylor sitting at a table in the far corner from the bar. As she walked over, she heard Taylor talking.
"...thinking that since I was moving out, my sister could move in. That way you're not left high and dry. Besides, she needs a place, and you know she likes you."
Harry stuck out his tongue at the last comment.
"How could I forget? The last time she was over it was downright embarrassing."
Taylor laughed and rolled her eyes in agreement.
"Okay, maybe that's not the best of ideas."
Just then Ginny gave a small cough and stepped forward.
"Excuse me, I didn't mean to overhear, but I'm new to town, and I'm looking for a place to stay. I thought I heard you say that you had a space opening up, and I was wondering..."
Ginny left it hanging as she looked intently at Harry, who showed no sign of recognition.
Harry stared back at her with a strange look of on his face. Taylor observed them for a moment before sticking her hand out to Ginny.
"Hi, I'm Taylor, and you are?"
Ginny blushed red and stammered back.
"I'm sorry… How rude of me. I'm Ginny, Ginny Weasley. I'm coming to school in Edinburgh. It's a last minute thing, and I've been looking for a place all day," she lied smoothly.
Taylor looked at Harry. "Well, James," she said, "it's up to you. I'm the one moving out."
Harry continued looking at Ginny intently. In fact, she realised he hadn't taken his eyes off her face the entire time she stood there. He shook his head slightly to clear it and looked at Taylor.
"Well, Tay, you gave me a chance; a poor, sorry wretch off the street. Who am I to do different?"
Harry looked at Ginny and blanched as she had gone quite red in the face.
"Oh no! I'm sorry, Miss Weasley, I didn't mean to imply that you're poor or um... I mean... So, what I was going to say is... ah… Hi, my name is James."
Ginny began laughing at the poor look on Harry's face. It was almost like old times.
"Great, James," she said. "Can you show me the flat today?"
Harry looked at Taylor, who laughed. "Go, show her around. I can talk to you later." He stood up and stuck his hand out to Ginny, who shook it.
"Nice to meet you, Miss Weasley. The flat's over on Grove Street next to Fountain Court; we can actually walk there from here. I'll tell you all about rent and things on the way. I believe you could even move in next week if you'd like," Harry said, casting a questioning look at Taylor. She shook her head in the affirmative.
"Excellent." Harry said with genuine enthusiasm. "Let's go have that look."
As they walked down around Princess Street and by the Castle, Ginny couldn't help wonder to herself, What in the name of Merlin have I got into?
That night, Ginny Apparated into Hogsmeade and made a beeline back to Hogwarts. She knew she was well past her deadline and had probably missed curfew by a few minutes. However, she really didn't care. All she could think about was the afternoon she had spent with Harry. She had stayed at the flat, making a show of looking around while she probed Harry about what was going on. Ginny quickly realised that he had no memories of anything of substance about the majority of his life. She also realised that despite that, Harry was still Harry. Smiling to herself she thought, "His heart hasn't changed a bit." Ginny managed to get through the gates before they closed for the night and made it all the way to the common room before anyone really noticed her. As she crawled through the portrait hole, however, she heard Ron shout.
"Oi, she's back!"
Ron approached her, red in the face and looking extremely put out.
"Ginny! Where the bloody hell were you? You missed practice, AGAIN, and have been chucked off the team. No one knew where you were! You've been gone for what? Seven hours?"
Ron looked at Hermione for support. Hermione nodded her head primly but was looking at Ginny with questioning eyes.
"So, Ginny," she said gently, "what's going on?"
Ginny froze. She wasn't sure why, but every instinct told her that telling them about Harry was the wrong course of action. Plus, there was no way she was telling them that she was soon going to live in his flat. Even though she didn't like it, Ginny again lied smoothly.
"I was looking for flats. I've decided to go to Healing school in Edinburgh when term ends next week. I've already sent my application, and I've found a place to stay."
Ron's anger seemed to leave him like a deflating balloon. He pulled in on himself and said quietly, "Ginny, the chances that Harry is still there are pretty small. Don't let this dictate your life. You have to start living for yourself."
As he talked, Hermione nodded in the background with a sympathetic look at her. Ginny had already had an extremely emotionally taxing day, and Ron and Hermione's pity had pushed her past her breaking point.
"Ron, you stupid bloody prat! I'll do whatever the bloody hell I want! You know I want to be a Healer, and you know that St. Mungo's has a school there. Besides, if I want to look for Harry for the rest of my life, that's my choice! Just because you two have given up doesn't mean that I have to as well. Just butt out of my life!" Ginny screamed at him. She left them standing there as she went to her room and collapsed on her bed. A few seconds later, Ginny heard soft footsteps approaching. She looked up just as Hermione came and sat on the edge of her bed.
"Ginny, we're sorry. Of course we want you to live your own life. We just worry about you, that's all," Hermione said soothingly. "Look," she said brightly, "at least you still have the summer at the Burrow with us."
Ginny shook her head slightly.
"No, I won't. I'm starting in the summer term. I think classes begin in two weeks," Ginny replied. Seeing the expression on Hermione's face, Ginny hastened to add, "I already know the city pretty well, and I have a flat. You don't have to worry, Hermione. I'll be all right."
Hermione looked at Ginny for a long time before she finally let her breath out and nodded.
"How are you going to pay for a flat in Edinburgh, Ginny? Do you have a job yet?" Hermione asked.
"Well, I have a pretty good scholarship to any of the St. Mungo's teaching schools, and it has a partial living stipend. But for the rest of it, well… the truth is, I have a roommate already." Ginny answered somewhat sheepishly.
"Oh? What's her name? Is it someone from Hogwarts that I would know?" Hermione asked interested.
"Actually, his name is James," Ginny replied as she ducked her head under her pillow.
"Ginny Weasley!" Hermione shouted, managing to do a fairly good impression of Mrs. Weasley. "What are you thinking?"
"Hermione, he is a good guy, and it's a great flat. Besides, I'm of age so it's really no one else's business."
Hermione's eyes narrowed slightly, and she continued looking at Ginny. "When you were going to Edinburgh to look for Harry, were you meeting this boy?" Hermione asked in a heated voice.
Ginny's head shot up with a dangerous gleam in her eyes.
"Hermione, I was not meeting some other boy. Don't you ever suggest I'm giving up on Harry ever again," she said in a soft voice. Looking down, Ginny realised that her wand was out and pointed at her friend.
"Hermione, let's not fight. I've made up my mind. Just be happy for me."
Hermione nodded carefully and then added almost as an afterthought, "You know your mum is going to go spare, right? I dare say your father and brothers won't be so pleased either."
Ginny rolled her eyes as she fell back onto her bed.
"Tell me about it. Hurricane Molly is going to be in full force."
The friends shared a laugh at the truth of Ginny's words and embraced.
"Okay Ginny, let's go tell Ron," Hermione said as she pulled Ginny to her feet.
Ginny had checked Harry's schedule with him about ten times to make sure that he wouldn't be around when she moved in. Her father and brothers would not let her move in by herself, and no amount of hexing would change their minds. She finally relented after she assured herself that Harry wouldn't be around.
George was carrying her last box up into the flat as Ginny and her father sat on the couch.
"So tell my about your roommate again," his father said glancing around the flat suspiciously. Ginny rolled her eyes, immediately getting angry again.
"Dad, we've had this talk a hundred times already. Let it drop."
"Ginny," Arthur said gently, "you're my baby, my only daughter. I don't like the fact that you're living with some man that I haven't even met before. What's his name again? Johnny?"
Ginny sighed, exasperated. "James. Dad, his name is James. I have a feeling that once you get to know him, you will really like him."
Arthur Weasley knew when his daughter was not being totally honest with him, and this was one of those times. He also saw that look in her eyes that told him he had little chance of winning this argument.
"Fine, Ginny. I trust you. When DO I get to meet him?" Arthur asked.
"I don't know, Dad. I'll set something up. You have to promise me, all of you though, that you won't come up here without my permission. I need to get away from everyone and find myself."
Ginny hated lying to her father, but again her instincts told her that this was the best course of action.
"Okay, Ginny. We'll try it your way... for now," Arthur Weasley said.
Ginny smiled gratefully at her father and turned to yell at Ron, who had just thrown one of her boxes on her bed. "Hey, you git! Be careful with that stuff..."
Several hours later, after her family had left, Ginny was in her room unpacking when she heard Harry come in.
"Ginny?" he called, "Ginny, are you here?"
"Hey, Harry," she said as she stuck her head out of her doorway. "How are you doing?"
Harry stopped for a second and looked intently at her again. Slowly, he began speaking.
"You know, normally I don't let people call me Harry... but... it seems right with you. So, I guess it's okay." Harry stopped again and gave her another questioning look before continuing.
"Well, Ginny, my day was grand. I worked on a financial centre all day and got to climb up the side of fifteen-story building. It's almost like flying. I loved it."
Ginny smiled to herself. "You have no idea," she whispered, too quietly for him to hear.
As she settled into her room, Ginny began thinking about her next steps and how to bring Harry back home where he belonged. She wasn't sure what the best thing to do was and desperately needed advice. However, she was still convinced that if others found out about Harry, something bad would happen. As soon as she finished unpacking, Ginny walked back into the living room, which was decorated similarly to the common room back at Hogwarts. Ginny again smiled to herself. Somewhere in there, Harry was still around.
"Hey, Ginny," Harry said from the kitchen when he heard her moving around the living room.
"I'm not sure if you've eaten yet, but I decided that it would be nice if I cooked you dinner for your first night here. I also skipped out on lunch, and I'm famished. I made a mountain of food,." Harry called to her.
Ginny walked into the kitchen and laughed, "Harry, I didn't know you could cook."
Harry smiled at her, but again he stopped and looked at her.
"I'm sorry, Ginny, but have we met before? You seem so familiar, and well, you just seem to know me. I don't think I've ever felt this comfortable around someone this quickly before."
Ginny flushed for a second but didn't answer him immediately.
"Sorry, I didn't mean anything by it," Harry said, feeling abashed. "It just feels natural having you around."
Ginny smiled her very best smile. "That's so nice, Harry. Thank you. Now let's eat!"
As Harry and Ginny sat down, they both thought to themselves how nice it was that the other one was there. For the first time in a long time, they both felt contentment.
The following few weeks passed quickly for Ginny as she tried to settle into a routine balancing school and Harry. She knew, deep down, that confronting Harry before she understood what had happened was a very poor idea. Complicating matters even further was the fact that Harry was now very firmly planted in the Muggle world. This made doing her homework an exercise of avoiding Harry and hiding anything that would seem out of place. At the same time, she was determined to get to the heart of his problem so she spent as much of her free time as possible with him. In those moments when she was being painfully honest with herself, she admitted that it was also just nice to be around Harry again. As her term began in earnest, Ginny's course work increased in volume and difficulty. However, she found that she loved the material and the prospect of Healing was extremely satisfying.
Harry, for the most part, had adjusted well to Ginny's presence in the flat. He immediately liked her, and every time they saw each other he would flash her a broad smile. Ginny marvelled that the characteristics that had drawn her to him were still strongly present despite his memory loss. Even in the Muggle world, he willingly sacrificed for those around him and his friends. Just this week he had stayed late for three days without pay so his co-worker could take time off to visit his sick mum in the hospital. He carried himself with a tangible presence that could be felt whenever he walked into a room. People were drawn to him without knowing why. In the world of the Muggles, The-Boy-Who-Lived was still a force to reckon with.
Early Friday morning, during her third week in the flat, Ginny sleepily pulled her covers over her head and mused about how well things had worked out so far. She and Harry were getting along beautifully and she was actually happy. It was almost enough to make her forget about Harry's condition. In fact, the only major problem she was facing was her family. She had categorically refused to let any of her family members, including Hermione, come and visit her at the flat. Her parents were also not able to send owl posts, or even Howlers, thank Merlin, because they were under the impression that Harry was a Muggle. Her mother had sent her two threatening letters through the Muggle post that promised dire consequences if two things didn't immediately happen. The first was that Ginny had to come back to the Burrow to visit. The second was that her parents had to meet her roommate as soon as possible. Ginny pulled herself further under the blankets as she considered her options. There was no way she could let her parents see Harry yet, but the thought of visiting the Burrow for a while did sound appealing.
Ginny rolled out of bed when she heard Harry moving around in the kitchen. She strolled into the kitchen, still in her pyjamas.
"Good morning, sunshine," Harry teased her as she walked up to the table. "What can I get you for this morning?"
"Good morning, you big git," Ginny smiled at him. "I'll just grab some toast, thanks."
"So, Harry," Ginny started at the same time as he said, "Ginny, I was…"
They both stopped at the same time and began laughing at each other.
"You go first, Harry," Ginny smiled as she nibbled on her toast.
"No, it's okay; you go, what's up, Gin?" Harry asked.
"I was just going to tell you that I was thinking of going to visit my mum and dad this weekend, and I might be gone for a few days."
"Oh," Harry said, his face falling. "Okay, that's great, Ginny. You go have fun. I'm sure they miss you already."
Ginny had noticed Harry's expression as she was talking.
"So what did you want to say, Harry?" she asked, smiling up at him, encouraging him to tell her what was going on.
"It's not important, Ginny. Don't worry about it," Harry started. Before he could finish, Ginny had jumped out of her chair and was nose to nose with him.
"Harry James Potter! You tell me what you were going to say this instant!"
Harry looked at her for a moment and then burst out laughing at her intensity.
"I was just going to see if you wanted to go to dinner tomorrow night, in celebration of how hard you've been working at school."
"No problem, Potter, you can always take me out when I get back, unless there is something else…" Ginny trailed off, convinced that there was more to this than Harry was letting on.
She nudged him with her toe and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Hey, it's okay. Tell me what's going on in that head of yours," she whispered to him.
Harry looked at her with a small smile teasing his lips.
"It's like this, Weasley. This weekend is the anniversary of the first day I can really remember clearly. It's the day I met Taylor, who took me in for whatever reason. I wanted to share it with you because…" Harry stopped again, looking embarrassed. Seeing that she wasn't getting upset, he continued.
"There is something about you, Ginny. I can't explain it. It's as if I've known you my entire life. I feel comfortable around you, and even though I've only known you three weeks, I trust you implicitly and totally. I just wanted you to be there as a… as... a friend." Harry finished in a strangled voice, staring at the floor.
Ginny looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. She very carefully reached out and lifted Harry's face until he was looking her in the eyes.
"Harry, are you sure this is as friends, or are you trying to ask me out?" Ginny asked.
Harry blushed and started stammering as he tried to pull his eyes away from hers.
Ginny stopped him with a gentle finger to his lips.
"Harry, it's okay. I would love to go on a date with you, especially to help you celebrate this day in your life."
Harry visibly relaxed and slumped forward into her. Ginny reflexively caught him and held him. He looked up into her eyes and began moving toward her.
Everything inside of Ginny was screaming for her to move out of the way. She knew that if she allowed herself to get too close to Harry now, it could affect whatever plan she had come up with for helping him. She also knew that once Harry got his memory back, he would most likely view this as her taking advantage of him, especially given their last conversation and how they had parted. All of that and more went through Ginny's mind as Harry closed the remaining distance and softly kissed her. As soon as their lips touched, the only thing that mattered to Ginny—the only thing that was real—was Harry. Nothing else was important. Nothing else mattered. She leaned into Harry, deepening their kiss. Finally Harry broke apart from her, breathing heavily and resting so that their foreheads were touching.
"That was unexpected," he whispered.
Ginny didn't answer as she stood trembling against him.
Damn it! she thought. What the hell am I doing?
Harry pulled back from her and checked his watch.
"Ginny, I really have to go to work. Are you okay?" he asked with a worried expression on his face. "I know that was a little intense."
Ginny smiled up at him.
"Harry, that was wonderful. I don't regret it for an instant. You get off to work now. I need to go to school and finish some homework anyway. I'll be here when you get back, and we can talk about our plans for tomorrow." Ginny said, trying and failing to hide her rising panic.
Harry squeezed her arms and let her go as he began collecting his things for work.
"Ginny, I don't regret it either," Harry told her, misunderstanding her body language. Ginny forced herself to laugh at him.
"Don't get ahead of yourself, Potter, it was only one kiss. Now go to work before you get let go."
After Harry left, Ginny sat on the couch shaking. She really did have course work that needed to be completed, but she wasn't in any state of mind to do it.
I'm in way over my head, she thought.
She moved to the desk in her room and began writing two letters, one to her mother and one to Hermione. The first one to her mother explained that she couldn't come visit until next week at the earliest and that she would ask James when would be a good time for them to meet. She knew her mother wouldn't be happy, but it was the best she could do. She wrote the second letter to Hermione much more carefully. She needed help, but she also didn't want everyone to find out what was going on yet. She smiled to herself as she wrote the letters. At the very least, she thought, I know he still likes me.