Chapter 1 : Never Forgotten
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It was a windy day. Draco could feel his thick, wool overcoat slapping harshly against his legs, but he paid it no mind. In his hands was a small, fuzzy teddy bear, the kind that beckons for a small child to cuddle with it. This teddy bear, however, was not destined to be cooed over by an eager child. This teddy bear had been bought for a much more noble purpose. Draco had bought the small, brown stuffed animal as a symbol of remembrance.
Draco’s smile was bittersweet as he placed the bear at the foot of a large, angel tombstone. The angel smiled back at him in thanks, just as she would have if she were still with him. Draco stuck his hands in the large, warm pockets of his over-sized coat. The ends of his long, finely woven scarf fluttered in front of him like great wings, as though he was a pale Lucifer, ready to take flight with the dismal hope of reaching the heavens. Draco stared at the angel tombstone and allowed himself to remember the few short months he had spent with his own angel.
The mere idea of Draco Malfoy and Ginny Weasley becoming friends was laughable. In fact, up until the war, Draco had been nothing but a right bastard to both her and her family. However, wars often change people, and Draco was not an exception to that phenomena. So, when he had picked up the Daily Prophet those few months ago, Draco actually felt a sense of remorse when he saw Ginny Weasley’s name listed under those who had recently been admitted into St. Mungo’s. Normally, he wouldn’t have cared about her; she was just another name among many, just another resident of ward four, but, this time, it was his fault.
It happened during one of the final battles between the Order and the Death Eaters. Draco had been aiming for someone else entirely, but somehow Ginny Weasley had gotten the brunt of the spell. The fact that it was wholly his fault that she had landed in St. Mungo’s was enough to oblige him to visit her; it was his duty as a Malfoy, as a gentleman.
So, that day, he began visiting her. Her parents were not aware of his visits, or they surely would have put a stop to it. It was strange on his first visit to see her amongst the damaged souls of ward four. She was a butterfly resting on a twig covered in nervous, crawling ants.
Ginny had been wearing a yellow sundress, and her thick red hair (Weasley hair) had been curled and pulled into two long pigtails, which rested against her lean shoulders peacefully. She was all light and energy, blinking in and out like a firefly.
“She thinks she is a child again, the poor dear,” the Mediwitch had explained to him. “She has no memory of her adult life at all.” The staff had no idea that it was by his wand that a curse within a sea of battling hexes had reduced Ginny Weasley to such a state, or they surely would not have let him near her. Ginny certainly didn’t recognize him in his gray sweater and black slacks. Of course, they had not known each other before Hogwarts, so she could not have known him then.
He had been surprised when she smiled at him, her hazel eyes dancing as she spotted the present he had gotten for her. Draco had given her a teddy bear he had found in one of those top-of-the-line Muggle toyshops, and, in a child’s mind, that made him the vessel of goodness.
“Hello, Ginny. You probably don’t remember me, but I went to school with you... My name’s Draco... Draco Malfoy,” he had said as she eagerly eyed the bear in his hands. She’d scrunched up her face in intense concentration, determined to remember. Finally, after four minutes, she gave up, and, with a direct honesty that only children possess, she declared him 'goofy' because 'she wasn’t old enough to go to school yet'.
“Oh, that’s alright, dear. You’ll remember soon enough,” the Mediwitch had reassured her. Ginny seemed to realize that perhaps she was old enough to have gone to school, and perhaps Draco was someone she should have recognized.
“I’m sorry,” she had muttered, tears of frustration gathering in her eyes. “I can’t remember.”
“It’s alright,” Draco had mumbled with a shrug. “You didn’t like me back then anyway.” Ginny had laughed at that; she had always been willing to laugh, even if nothing particularly funny had been said. “I, uh, thought you’d like to see someone from school, though. You know, just in case."
“Is that your teddy?” she had interrupted him, eagerly pointing to the bear he had been toying with nervously throughout their introductions.
“Actually, I bought it for you,” he had answered. “It’s a ‘get well’ present.” Ginny’s face had brightened instantly. “Here."
“I’m not sick, silly,” she had chastised him with a giggle, but she accepted the present anyway. “Thank you, though. Mum says it’s always polite to say ‘thank you’ when you get a present.” She had welcomed the bear, and Draco as well, instantaneously. “I’ll call him Mr. Wimble-Dimble. He can sit with Ms. Kitty; she’s been wanting a friend.” At that moment, when Ginny had stared at him with wide, trusting eyes, Draco had contemplated leaving her to play with her toys in solitude; however, for some reason, he decided to stay.
“I’m sure Mr. Wimble-Dimble will like that,” he had told her with a slight smile, and, with that final statement, he accepted her naïve offer of friendship. Draco had never been good with children, and he was even worse with Weasleys, but he decided to stay anyway. It was the least he could have done.
He had continued to visit her like that. The Mediwitches frequently warned him that Ginny was not going to get better any time soon; Draco supposed they had not wanted him to get his hopes up, as he was sure they all could have seen the attachment that was growing between him and the Miss Weasley. Draco didn’t mind; in fact, he had always thought that if Ginny got better, whatever bond had been forming between the two of them would vanish. He had been selfish, hoping that their established routine would remain undisturbed, because, if he were honest with himself he would realize, he needed a friend too.
Of course, there were days that her family would visit. He would watch from the hallway as Mrs. Weasley fussed over her daughter’s pristine, homespun dresses and Ginny’s brothers talked to her, trying to help her regain her memory. When they asked her about the new teddy bear among her collection of stuffed animals, Ginny would simply smile secretively and tell them that a friend had given it to her. Ginny was a good secret keeper; she had told him that many times before. After the family was gone, Draco would sneak in for a quick visit. He couldn’t help but notice that she that she always seemed to be happier when he was there.
It had continued in that way for a couple of months. He would visit, and they would talk of trivial things, such as dolls and flowers, that fascinate young girls. By December, Draco had noticed that she was much skinnier and that dark circles were present under her bright, hazel eyes. Her health was slowly declining, the Mediwitches had told him this before they allowed him to visit, and it wouldn’t be long before she passed on.
Ginny had seemed oblivious to all of it. She used most of her energy skipping around and showing him that she could be a Quidditch player just like her older brothers. It wasn’t until the end of the month that Ginny had realized something bad was happening to her body.
Ginny had been bedridden from then on, but Draco didn’t stop visiting; by that time, his visits to St. Mungo’s had become an all too vital role in his weekly routine. He would bring storybooks, board games, and match cards for them to play with. Once, he tried to teach her the rules of Wizards chess, but she had gotten frustrated and ended up flipping the board, shattering the pieces on the cold tile floor of the room. On a good day, they would be able to get through at least one storybook before Ginny had to rest. Draco had not allowed her to see how sad he really was and only cried as she took her naps. The Mediwitch told him to prepare for the worse.
On January the third, Draco visited for the last time. They had not played games that day, but Draco read her a story- one about a mermaid who wanted to be human. He had been reading about how the mermaid fell in love with the human prince, when Ginny started to cough loudly. They didn’t finish their story that day. Before he had left, Ginny gave Draco a quick kiss on the cheek.
“I think you’re my prince, Draco,” she had told him with a small smile that nearly tore his heart in two. Looking back on it, Draco supposed Ginny knew it was the last time they would see each other.
In the days following, her room was constantly occupied with her family, and Draco was too afraid to visit her when they were there. On the tenth, Draco had finally worked up his courage to visit, but he found her room empty.
Her bed was neatly made; the crisp, white sheets didn’t have a wrinkle in them. The drawings she had made for him were no longer present on the walls, which were barren and painfully white. The room had been utterly unfamiliar to him; it had felt more like a tomb than anything else. He had torn the sheets off the bed and opened the blinds on the window, but even with the sun shining in, it wasn’t Ginny’s room anymore. A Mediwitch found him on the bed, crying.
He read Ginny’s obituary in the Prophet the next morning. He couldn’t bring himself to go to the funeral; he couldn’t bear the thought of Ginny’s lovely red curls splayed out on the white satin of a coffin bed.
It was still strange now, as he stood in the brisk January wind and looked down at Ginny’s tombstone, to think that she was gone forever.
August 11, 1981-January 8, 2005
Gone But Never Forgotten