Author’s Notes: Thanks to Sherry and tdu000 for the betas.
“The heart has its reasons, of which the mind knows nothing.” ~Blaise Pascal
Ginny couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted the faint outline of a man standing against the rough stones of the Harpies’ broom shed. It simply didn’t seem possible that it could be Harry. Today, he was supposed to be patrolling the area around Azkaban, hundreds of miles from Wales. Then she smiled as she caught a glint of green and the flash of his glasses through the Camouflage Charm. It was Harry!
“Is that fiancé of yours skulking about again?” Regan squinted in the direction of the broom shed and then shrugged. “I can’t see him. Here.” She handed Ginny her broom. “Be a love and put that away for me?”
“Mine, too,” Cathy said with a grin. “It should take an hour or two? We’ll cover for you with Gwenog.”
Ginny took the brooms gratefully. “What would I do without you two?” she asked. “I’d hardly see Harry during the season otherwise.”
Regan snorted. “What would our Chasing team do without you? Now that Brockton’s retired, you’re a shoo-in for the Best Chaser Award this year.”
“So,” Cathy said with wink. “It’s important to keep one of the best Chasers in the league relaxed and happy.”
“I’m doing my part,” Harry spoke up from behind his wall of magic.
Regan and Cathy laughed and headed toward the dormitory, an ancient stone building the players called “The Heap.” Ginny quickly looked around the deserted grounds. The autumn sun was setting, throwing the broom shed into a deep shadow. Even if their chaperone, Mrs. Maddox, happened to be watching from the windows of The Heap she wouldn’t be able to see Harry helping her with the three heavy brooms. Still, Ginny sighed with relief when the door shut behind them and Harry cast Locking and Silencing Charms.
When Harry had cast off the Camouflage Charm, Ginny threw herself into his arms.“Harry,what are you doing here?”
“Warming up,” he answered, as he touched her untidy plait and bent to nuzzle her neck.
His lips and nose were cold.
“Poor Harry,” she said, rubbing up against him. “I don’t know how you had the energy to Apparate all the way from Azkaban. It’s draining enough to keep those Dementors under control.”
“I had chocolate,” he answered. “And I was thinking about you.” He smiled. “That’s enough.”
Warmth flooded through her at the affectionate tone in his voice and the glint in his wonderful green eyes. Her breath hitched, as he pulled her closer and she could feel the hard length of him. “No, really,” she protested, pushing on his shoulders. “You didn’t Apparate all the way here and then sneak on to the grounds just for a quickie.”
“Didn’t I?” He laughed and released her. “Not a bad idea, although I did have one other reason.” He dug in the side pocket of his Auror robes and brought out a small velvet box.
“You got my ring fitted?” Ginny’s eyes were wide as he took out her ruby engagement ring and slipped it on her finger. “Already?”
“I didn’t want you going off to your first match without it.”
Ginny held up her hand to admire how the two rubies were so expertly cut and mounted that they looked like one fiery stone. “I suppose it will help distract the opposing teams.”
“I just want the fan boys to be distracted,” Harry said, again pulling her close, “and know you’re taken.”
“Fan boys,” Ginny scoffed, and shimmied up next to him. “The few that I have are interested in my Chasing stats, nothing else.” It was amazing to her that Harry could be remotely jealous. She lived like a nun most of the Quidditch season — except when she was with him. Then there was nothing remotely nun-like about her behavior.
“Stupid fan boys then,” Harry murmured before his firm lips were on hers, rousing her to kiss him back. She gripped his shoulders and reveled in their kiss. He tasted like chocolate.
He was undoing her plait; she could feel her hair fall out of the tight confines and swirl across her back. Harry loved her hair. He had never said so, but she knew he did from the way he ran his hands through it and looked at it and buried his face in it whenever he had the chance.
“Have a good practice?” he asked, fanning her hair across her shoulders.
She knew what he was asking. Not too long ago she had confessed that a good Quidditch practice or a fast broom ride was perfect foreplay. The clean cold air, the freedom of darting across the wide-blue sky cleared her mind. The flexing of muscles and shifting of positions required for flying put her in touch with her body. The faint magical vibrations of the broom, if she tuned into them, kept her pleasantly on edge. “Yes.” She giggled at the transparent lust in his eyes. “Practice was good. And yes, I’m in the mood.”
His eyes gleamed hotly at her answer and he kissed her again. Then he unclasped her practice robes and caressed a trail of sensation up and down the sides of her body until she thought she couldn’t stand the anticipation anymore. Flying, she thought dreamily as Harry lowered her on to a conjured bed. There was nothing else like it when she touched ground. Nothing else — except for this.
The Harpies’ broom shed was roomy and warm, and smelled pleasantly like broom-handle polish. But for some reason, it could only contain so much magic and then other spells wouldn’t work. Their conjured bed was holding up nicely, but when Ginny tried again to conjure a blanket to cover them as they cooled off, she couldn’t even manage a handkerchief. Harry didn’t seem to notice the chill as he buried his face in the crook of her neck and snored softly. He would sleep for exactly fifteen minutes and then would wake up refreshed and ready to finish his shift at Azkaban. Ginny stretched her leg onto the floor and scooped up Harry’s cloak with her toe. It would have to do until Harry woke up, she thought, covering them both.
Ginny could never decide which was worse — not seeing Harry at all for weeks at a time, or seeing him for an hour and then having to let him go.
“Time is it?” Harry mumbled.
Ginny opened her eyes with a start — she must have drifted off as well. “Uh.” She peered at her watch and then sighed with relief. “Half past six. You’ve only been here an hour.”
“Brilliant.” He turned on to his back. “I have an hour before I have to go back.”
“Really?” Now they had twice the time together.
“Yeah. I offered to work back-to-back shifts so I could pop over and see you.”
“Harry! Being around Dementors all that time — that’s not healthy,” she protested.
He shrugged. “It’s no different than staying awake all night for a stakeout or to keep an eye on the vampire dance clubs or—”
“I get the picture.” She scowled. There was no point in wasting her breath; Harry had already made up his mind.
“Besides, Dementors aren’t as scary as a hungry Weasley.”
“Ha.” She started to reach for her clothes and tried to think of a way to get food from the dining hall without being spotted.
“I brought dinner,” he said. “Kreacher packed it in my cloak pocket.” Harry lifted a pocket flap on the cloak to reveal a portable steam table and a wicker basket that held plates and cups and flatware.
Ginny breathed in the scent of roasted meat and immediately felt more cheerful. “I’m getting dressed,” she announced, crawling out of the conjured bed. “I can’t eat unless I have clothes on.”
“Prude.” Harry smiled and reached for his t-shirt.
The lamp chops Kreacher had prepared were exquisite — as were the roasted potatoes and the autumn vegetables that accompanied them. “I’m not going to miss Grimmauld Place, but I am going to miss Kreacher’s cooking after we’re married,” Ginny remarked before she took her first bite of a fresh apple tart.
“Do you want to get a house-elf once we move into Andromeda’s cottage?” Harry asked. “I never thought of that when we decided to swap houses. I mean — Kreacher has to stay at number twelve.”
Ginny swallowed the bite of crumbly, sweet apple tart before she spoke. “And what exactly would I do all day if I had a house-elf waiting on me hand and foot? It’s going to be challenge enough to stay busy without Quidditch. Besides, Hermione would kill us.”
“You don’t have to give up Quidditch,” Harry said, ignoring Hermione’s views on house-elves. “You could try out for a different team. The Harpies is the only team in the league that doesn’t allow married players.”
“I’ve already told you, Harry.” She could feel the heat rising in her face. “I don’t want to play professional Quidditch once we’re married. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing for the Kestrels or the Cannons or the Harpies, I’d still be away from you too much — and everyone else I love. Already I’m feeling guilty about missing my Sunday visits with Teddy.” She reached over the conjured table and took his hand. “You talked me into staying one more year because of that stupid award — that’s enough. After this season I’ll be ready to start a new life — with you.”
Harry sighed. “I just don’t want you to give up anything—”
“Harry,” she warned, “we’ve discussed this.”
He ran his hand through his hair. “Yeah. I know.” His smile was sheepish. “I don’t know what you could say to convince me, though.”
“Hermione thinks you’re mourning your own choice of not pursuing Quidditch.”
He laughed. “Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’m definitely not trying to live through you. Now if you played Seeker instead—”
“I’d be getting out of mesmerism sessions,” she finished for him.
“I haven’t had a chance to tell you about the latest thing the new management wants us to try.” Ginny shook her head. “Today, Madam Beam worked on ‘anger issues’ with us. Tomorrow the topic is distractions.” She rolled her eyes. “If they would stop lining up hypnotists and photo shoots and just let us play Quidditch, I think there would be a lot less anger and distractions all around.”
“Dark?” Ginny scoffed. “It’s so light, I think I could levitate every time I think of rainbows and my ‘happy place.’”
Harry smiled. “So where is your ‘happy place’?”
She smiled back. “Where do you think?”
The silence was charged as their eyes locked. Then Harry sighed. “I wish you could go to the Costa del Sol with me next week. I don’t know what Ron and I are going to run into once we pick up that package, but you could at least see some of the sights.”
“I know.” She patted his hand. “But you’ll have Ron to go to the topless beaches with.”
Now it was Harry’s turn to roll his eyes. “There’s more to Spain than topless beaches, you know.”
She tossed her hair. “I know. But you hear stories.”
“I promise I won’t go topless.”
“Harry!” She giggled. Then she sobered. “I’ll miss you.”
“Me, too.” He leaned forward and kissed her. “It’s not like I’d ever forget you, you know. I’ll be bored, guarding a package, and you’ll be busy.”
“I know,” she said in a small voice. They had been apart so much it should be second nature to let him go, but it was always difficult. Then she brightened. “You could finally try out the Tweeter Twig I got you for your birthday.”
“Oh!” Harry looked gratifyingly startled. “Well, maybe. I will be working. And, ah…”
“Your work ethic is commendable,” Ginny said sarcastically. “And I still don’t understand why you won’t send Tweeter Scrolls.”
He squirmed in his seat. “They’re just annoying — those little slips of paper.”
She hid a smile and shook her head. “I still haven’t convinced you, have I?”
“Not yet.” Harry stood up and waved his wand. The dishes and table vanished. “I have loads of new memories to fight the Dementors with tonight.” He grinned at her. “Thanks to you.”
“It takes two to make a memory,” she pointed out with a smile. Then she moved towards him for a hug. Harry hated long good-byes. As soon as his cloak was on, he would Camouflage himself and then leave.
“That it does.” He kissed her back. “We’ll make more memories soon — I promise.”
The next morning, Ginny took one last look around at the bright autumn sunshine and the green grass of the Harpies’ home pitch before she accepted the inevitable and closed her eyes. Madam Beam was about to start the session on ‘distractions.’
Ginny hadn’t wanted to spend her scant time with Harry complaining about these sessions, but she didn’t think it was very professional of Madam Beam to be eating a pile of Chocolate Frogs whilst conducting a mental health seminar. Yesterday, during the anger session, it was rather amusing. Today it was… distracting.
“Now see yourself flying through the air…” Madam Beam began in a muffled voice.
She dutifully imagined herself flying on her Cleansweep, her new ruby ring glittering in the sun. She loved the symbolism of the two stones being so close they were as one. Just like the two of them last night.
“All distractions are fading — it’s only you and the Quaffle. The Bludgers are being intercepted. The hoops are ahead …”
Ginny felt an echoing frisson of sensation as she remembered Harry’s hungry mouth on her neck as he strained against her.
“See the hoops ahead. The Keeper can only guard one. Expand your senses to find your allies.”
To have all the time in the world, Ginny thought. To fall asleep in his arms at night and to wake up in the soft morning light and to see his dark head on the pillow next to hers… The phantom arousal from remembering their quick coupling, and the ache in her heart as she thought about how long it would be before she saw him again threatened to overwhelm her concentration.
“Your teammates are your strengths. Above, below, and behind you, you are supported and will succeed…”
Odd, Harry had never been a distraction before, but then, this new seriousness in their relationship had colored everything. She couldn’t go to The Burrow without hearing wedding plans. She couldn’t sleep at night without wanting him next to her.
“See the opposing team racing toward you, hear the Bludger fly past your ear. Face your distractions.”
And now Harry was going away to the Costa del Sol.
“Have you got them all in your mind? All of your distractions?”
He wasn’t going into grave danger — just to one of the most notorious holiday spots on the Mediterranean.
“Face your distractions.”
Even though her emotions hadn’t caught up with logic and common sense, Ginny had faith in Harry. He wasn’t going to forget her. He never had — even when they were apart for a year. But she had to stop thinking about him all the time.
“See them fade. Watch as your distractions dim and then falter into nothingness…”
Ginny felt a wave of magic wash over her as the physical ache she felt for Harry’s touch started to ease. She took a deep, shaky breath, drawing in whatever spell the mesmerist had cast. Her body cooled, her heart rate slowed and her mind was clear.
“Now, Chasers, imagine a perfect play.”
A perfect play…
In her mind’s eye, Ginny saw herself drop the Quaffle to Cathy behind her back. She could practically hear the smack of the leather ball as it hit Cathy’s gauntlets. Then Ginny flipped her broom so that she was upside down. She could feel the blood pooling in her face as a Bludger whizzed harmlessly overhead. As Ginny flew upside down, Cathy stealthily passed the Quaffle back to her. Then Regan, hunched over her broom, shot ahead towards the hoops, with Cathy right behind her. With all eyes — including the Keeper’s — on the two speeding Harpies’ Chasers, Ginny righted herself and then quickly veered left to hurl the Quaffle through the farthest ring.
It took real effort to fight from pumping her fist in triumph.
“You will execute that play,” Madam Beam said. “You will succeed.”
“Now open your eyes.”
Ginny blinked against the bright sun, feeling distinctly disoriented. She was breathing heavily, like she had just played a four-hour Quidditch match. Cathy and Regan were also looking around with surprised expressions on their faces.
Madam Beam popped another Chocolate Frog in her mouth and tossed the wrapper into the pile of wrappers next to her. “I think Miss Leon is ready for you.” Her small eyes were full of dislike for Matilda Leon, their no-nonsense Chaser coach.
The dislike was mutual. Matilda Leon drew her heavy eyebrows into a frown and then blew three short blasts from her whistle. “Chasers, front and center. It’s time to stop daydreaming.”
Still in a good mood from imagining the perfect scoring play, Ginny hid her smile and hastily pulled up on her broom to join Cathy and Regan for a mid-air meeting.
“Lots on the schedule today,” Matilda said, consulting her clipboard. “Thank goodness we’re done with this mesmerism nonsense.”
“It wasn’t nonsense,” Cathy cried. “I have an idea for a new play.”
“So do I!” Regan’s dark eyes were shining with enthusiasm.
Before Ginny had a chance to say anything, Matilda held up her hand. “No time. You have another photo shoot this morning — and I’m not going to let another day go by without the Omega and the Delta drills.”
The Chasers groaned. The Delta drills were nothing but wind sprints on brooms, performed upside down with two hands on the broom, then one hand, then no hands. The strain on the legs was so intense that Ginny could barely walk after the first time she tried it.
“But I thought that management wanted us to do more freestyle Chasing?” Cathy challenged. Cathy might look blonde and delicate and helpless, but she loved to argue.
Matilda’s mouth was a thin line. Ginny watched in fascination as the color rose in her sallow face. “You are correct,” Matilda began calmly enough. “Management does want more freestyle Chasing.” Then she ran her hand through her close-cropped, iron-gray hair. “But that’s not the only strategy. This new wizard management—” She practically spat out the word “wizard.” “—thinks that the way to fill up our new stadium with fans is to sex up the noble game of Quidditch rather than relying on the athleticism that has always brought the Harpies titles.” Her thin bosom heaved. “We Harpies have never relied on our looks or the novelty of being an all-witch team.”
“Now wait a minute,” Cathy protested. “We’re all good Chasers — so what if we don’t look like hags? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little publicity.”
“Oh, you don’t?” Matilda countered. “Before you can get to your drills — drills the reserve Chasers are already doing, I might add — you’re going to waste time on another photo shoot.” She gestured toward the stadium. “The photographer’s just finished with Pippa. Now that our Seeker has been objectified for every teen wizard to hang on his wall, it’s your turn.”
Ginny groaned. She hated these photo sessions. It had been bad enough to don the new, skin-tight leather Harpies uniforms for fake action shots for the season ticket programs — but posters too? Now there was going to be a lot of fuss with lighting and hair and angles. And Matilda was right. They were losing the practice time that the reserve team was getting. Ginny was confident in her abilities, but the witches on the reserve team were hungry and were working hard to replace them. She squared her shoulders. It was time to stop talking. “If we have to do this, then let’s do it,” she declared.
Cathy opened her mouth and then closed it. Regan nodded and turned her broom toward the stadium. Ginny was satisfied. This wouldn’t have to take over an hour if they dressed quickly and did what the photographer wanted.
Ginny twisted around on her broom in astonishment. She was not going to do what the photographer wanted.
“You want a shot of our three backsides on brooms?” Cathy challenged, looking over her shoulder. “No faces, no Quaffles, no action?”
“It will be hot,” the bearded photographer assured her, his eyes raking over their bodies. “Nothing but three fit, rounded female bottoms in the frame. The posters will fly off the shelf.”
Ginny turned her broom around and glared at him. “No way. We’re not pin-ups.”
The photographer shrugged. “Management said sexy shots.” He smirked at Ginny. “Freckles and red hair aren’t sexy — but you have a cute bum.”
The end of Ginny’s broom jabbed his shoulder in warning. “No,” she said through gritted teeth.
Regan was moving closer with her broom.
“Ladies,” the photographer said, holding up his hands, “haven’t you always wanted to be beautiful? I can make you beautiful with my camera.” He lewdly stroked the jutting lens on the camera hanging from his neck. “You have to show off your assets. I shoot the page-three girls for The Wizard Gazette. Now, some of those girls have only a face a mother could love — but they all have a nice pair — which is what I highlight.”
“Shut up while you still have lips.” Ginny couldn’t remember the last time she was this angry.
“Little firecracker, are you? Listen, girlie, I don’t need your bum for the picture. I can put any other witch in the shot as a body double—”
Ginny pushed him so hard with the handle of her broom that he fell on to his back.
“Why, you!” The photographer began clicking the flash on his camera in retaliation.
Ginny was instantly blinded by the white hot flashes of light. She closed her eyes and pulled up on her broom. Her head throbbed so painfully that she thought she was going to lose her balance. The flashes of light continued. Even though her eyes were closed, it felt like heat and fire were seeping under her eyelids. Thin lines of pain raced from behind her eyes to the back of her head, to cover her scalp until she felt as if a web of fire had descended upon her.
She opened her mouth to cry out, to breathe. Her hands slipped off her broom and she felt herself tumble. Then all was mercifully black.
“Miss Weasley? Can you hear me? Miss Weasley? Please open your eyes.”
Ginny’s head ached with an intense, throbbing pain. “Don’t want to,” she muttered.
“It won’t hurt to open your eyes, lass,” the deep masculine voice coaxed. “I promise.”
The voice had a faint Scottish burr. He sounded nice — not like that creepy photographer. Ginny slowly opened her eyes. She was in a hospital room. A man with thick brown hair and moss brown eyes was standing over her.
“Well done, lass. I’m Healer Wood.”
She frowned. He looked familiar, but then, she had never met him before, of that she was sure. “What happened?”
“Before I answer your questions, you have to answer of few of mine,” the handsome Healer Wood said, taking the sting out of his refusal with a charming white smile. “What year is it?”
Ginny frowned against her headache. “2002.”
“Good.” He scribbled something on a clipboard. “Your full name?”
She sighed. It was a ridiculous name. “Ginevra Molly Weasley.”
“Excellent.” He handed Ginny her wand. “Can you Summon that purging cauldron?”
“As long as you don’t use it on me,” she said, concentrating on her magic. Within seconds, the small cauldron was in Healer Wood’s hands.
“Right.” Healer Wood took out his wand and Vanished the cauldron. Then he magiked open the door. “Do you know these people?”
“Mum? Dad?” Ginny couldn’t believe they were here after she had had a little fainting spell or whatever it was. Mum was in her apron and Dad was still wearing his Ministry ID badge around his neck, so they both must have dropped everything to come to St. Mungo’s.
“Oh, thank Merlin,” Mum said, putting her hand on her mouth. “We were so worried. A Memory Charm can do so much damage. Look what happened to Professor Lockhart.”
“Professor Lockhart? Memory Charm?” Ginny couldn’t believe it. She remembered everything that had happened before she passed out. “No one did a Memory Charm on me.” She looked from Mum’s tearful brown eyes, to Dad’s concerned blue eyes. “Madam Beam is a mesmerist. She’s been helping us with distractions and that sort of thing.”
“Miss Weasley,” Healer Wood interrupted, “something was done to you. You passed out because of the flashing of the camera,” he said, “and so did your teammates.”
“Cathy and Regan? Are they all right?”
“Yes,” he soothed. “They were only out a moment or so — you’ve been out for hours.” He frowned. “I scanned your head. You’ve had extensive memory damage because the flashing lights interacted with whatever this Madam Beam did. The scorching is on the both the right and left sides of your head — and in the deepest part of the brain stem. You’re forgetting something. Cathy and Regan are, too. But their memory loss is very small and only on the left side.”
“Scorching?” Mum asked in horrified tones.
“Yes.” Healer Wood was grave. “Memories are liquid, of course — stored in pools in various parts of the mind. That’s why we can pull them out with our wands and put them in a Pensieve. But how we store and find those memories is by fire paths in the brain.” At Mum’s perplexed expression, he added. “Think of your thoughts as going along a miniature Floo network.”
“Is that why my head felt like it was burning after those flashes?” Ginny asked.
“Yes, lass.” Healer Wood sounded sympathetic. “I’ve given you a lot of pain potion. It will take a couple of weeks before those scars are healed. But they will heal.”
“Will Ginny be able to remember then?” Mum asked. “After the — um — scars?” She faltered and Dad put his around her shoulders.
Poor Mum, Ginny thought. Another child with scars. Her head hurt from the overhead torchlight. Ginny put her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes again.
She heard footsteps entering the room.
“Oh, you’re finally here!” Mum cried. “We had a terrible time trying to track you. I can’t believe they let you do double shifts at Azkaban.”
Ron? Ginny frowned, but didn’t open her eyes. Why would they call Ron away from guard duty at Azkaban?
“Ginny!” Mum said excitedly. “Open your eyes. Look who’s here.”
Ginny wearily opened her eyes and saw a wizard in glasses with messy black hair. When he moved closer, she saw that his eyes were very green. She stared at him and decided that, while he wasn’t as conventionally handsome as Healer Wood, he was actually more attractive to her. Maybe he was a Healer, too. He was young — about her age — but he could be a trainee or something. She smiled. Wait until she told Cathy and Regan that she got two nice-looking Healers to attend to her after a little headache.
The Healer with the incredible green eyes smiled tentatively back. Then he frowned when she didn’t say anything. “Ginny, don’t you know me?”
The sound of his voice entered her ear and then prickled the top of her spine uncomfortably. “No,” she said faintly. “Should I?”
“Ginny didn’t know you? At all?” Ron goggled at Harry from his prone position on Hermione’s lap. Then he sat up, pushing the newspapers off of his chest and on to the floor.
“Oh, Harry.” Hermione got up quickly and hugged him as he stood awkwardly by the fireplace.
He had instinctively gone to Ron and Hermione after he had talked at length with the Healers at St. Mungo’s. But now, as he looked at his two oldest friends, he realized, with a sinking heart, that they couldn’t help him either.
“Harry, come in and sit down.” Hermione grabbed his arm and propelled him to the flowery pink sofa that Ron purported to hate, but spent most of his free time lounging upon. “Ron, make Harry a cup of tea.”
Ron rolled his eyes at her tone, but dutifully took out his wand and cast a spell toward the kitchen. Harry hoped the tea would be hot this time.
“So this was a Memory Charm that backfired?” Hermione asked, once the three of them had settled on the sofa, with Harry in the middle.
“No, it was a Mesmerist’s Charm that was intensified about one-hundred fold by camera flashes.” Harry took a sip of tea. It was tepid, but drinkable. “The mesmerist was eating Chocolate Frogs at the time, and you know how many Harry Potter cards there are in a box…” He shrugged, feeling suddenly weary. He had been up all night controlling Dementors with his good memories and thoughts of Ginny. “The mesmerist must have had an image of me in her mind when she did the incantation. That’s why Cathy and Regan couldn’t remember me, either.”
Hermione chewed on her lip in thought and Harry’s spirits plunged.
Now it felt like a Dementor had followed him to Hermione’s cozy, book-lined flat. It was sitting on his chest after sucking all of his hope and happiness out him. Ginny didn’t know him — she had given him a polite smile and a puzzled frown when he had been so bewildered. That blank look in her eye and lack of empathy for him had chilled him to the bone.
He shivered. She didn’t know him, and he felt lost.
“Ron, is that tea hot?” Hermione asked sharply.
Ron grunted and flourished his wand. Harry almost dropped the now scorching hot cup.
“So what did the Healers say?” Hermione asked. “Can they undo the charm?”
“No, the charm has been seared into her brain.” Harry flinched. “The mesmerist was working on banishing distractions. Apparently, I must have been Ginny’s biggest distraction.” He tried and failed to keep the bitterness out of his voice. “All the paths to her memories of me are gone.”
“So the memories are still there,” Ron said.
They sat in silence. Harry sipped his tea and burned his tongue. He didn’t care. At least some of the numbness was wearing off.
“So Ginny must have some real gaps in how she remembers things,” Ron said thoughtfully. “Like, she would remember playing Seeker for Gryffindor but not the person she replaced?”
“I asked her about that, since she didn’t believe any of us that she had lost memories,” Harry said. “Of course, then she realized that something was missing.” He sighed.
“Pretty angry, was she?” Ron asked shrewdly. “She hates to be wrong.”
“Tell me about it,” Harry muttered.
“So, Harry…” Hermione began, “…if the memories are still there, the Healers can make new paths to the memories. Right?”
“The Healers want to try some things and it’s possible they could appear spontaneously,” Harry said. “But I don’t want to her to feel any more pain. Just talking about Hogwarts made the burn scars in her head hurt.”
“Poor Ginny,” Hermione murmured.
“You know, I don’t get this doom and gloom,” Ron said, taking the now empty teacup out of Harry’s hands. “Ginny hasn’t gone barmy like Lockhart — right? And she still knows how to do joined up writing and all of that. And if she’s angry about being wrong, her personality hasn’t changed.” He shrugged. “Look, Harry, just start all over again and make new memories.”
“Ron, that’s not very—”
Harry seized on this plan. “Do you think she would give me a chance? I mean, after her scars heal and she’s not so angry with your mum for telling her she has to get married to ‘a complete stranger’, as she said?”
“Why wouldn’t she?” Ron shrugged. “Just ask her out like a regular bloke would.”
“What would you know about regular blokes?” Hermione demanded. “You never had to ask anybody out. I was the one who kissed you — not the other way around.”
“So you did,” Ron conceded with a grin.
“Um. What about me and Ginny?” Harry interrupted before they started flirting. He didn’t think he could take Ron and Hermione cooing at each other tonight.
“I still have that book, Twelve Ways to Charm Witches,” Ron said. “So I’ll lend it to you, Harry.” He frowned. “Hold on. I lent it to Neville last year when he fancied that girl at the Apothecary.”
“Since he’s now going out with Hannah Abbott, who works at the Leaky Cauldron, I can see it worked,” Hermione said sarcastically.
“Harry,” Hermione put her hand on his arm, “I’m sure Ginny will fall in love with you all over again — but, well, don’t you think it would be a totally different relationship? Don’t you think you should be patient and let the Healers find new paths to those memories?”
“I’m not going to worry about the lost memories,” Harry said, trying to inject as much firm determination in his voice as he could. “I’m going to get Ginny back.”
“That’s the spirit, Harry,” Ron said. “Just don’t do it around me.”
Harry smiled weakly. He was going to win Ginny back.