Chapter 4 : Lost and Found
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Chapter 4: Lost and Found
One glance around the living room told him she was at it again. Newspaper clippings were strewn across the coffee table, with Hermione’s wand resting in between the papers, untouched for years. Ginny was in the kitchen, with her head in the fireplace, talking about some newspaper in a demanding voice.
“I don’t care how you do it, Percy, just as long as you get it. Audrey has parents in Scotland, so it won’t kill you if you just stop there for a while. You should visit the in-laws and meanwhile get me the newspaper. No, Percy, please, just do it, I have to go now. Bye!”
Harry stared at her, bewildered, as she got up from her knees and dusted off her shoulders. Then she spotted him and her face lit up as she flung herself into her arms. Not feeling as enthusiastic, somehow dreading what was coming, Harry hugged her half-heartedly and pulled away, giving her a questioning look.
“What’s all this about?”
“You won’t believe what happened to me today!” she exclaimed, leading him back into the living room, where they both sat down on the sofa. Harry glanced back at all the papers, Hermione’s wand particularly catching his eye, the sight quite unsettling for him. “I was walking from Diagon Alley when this young man bumped into me.”
“Young man, huh?” Harry asked, playfully raising his eyebrows, dreadfully wishing to postpone Ginny’s next words.
“Never mind him, though,” Ginny replied without a thought, that old, fervent glint in her eyes once more. “As he gathered his things from the ground I helped him and took a newspaper in my hands. Harry, there was something about a car accident and a man was on the front picture. And I am sure it was Ron, the resemblance was uncanny and-”
Ginny’s voice trailed off as Harry stood up suddenly, taking a step back.
“Ginny, please, don’t. It wasn’t Ron.”
It was almost ridiculously comical how these encounters always went the same. Standing up from the sofa, Ginny placed her hands on her hips and stared at Harry pointedly.
“And why not? You didn’t see the picture, you didn’t see the resemblance!” she retaliated angrily, edging closer to him. “Why do you have to sweep the very idea off the table without even considering it?”
“Because Ron is gone!” he spat savagely, taking Ginny by surprise, his own heart breaking with the parting words. His eyes involuntarily overflowed as he grabbed her by the shoulders, wanting to shake that foolishness out of her so she would stop tormenting him with her ludicrous ideas. “Ron is gone and so is Hermione. You were there! You’ve seen the blood, it was their blood, the Healer’s test proved it. And there was also Ron’s broken wand, the one your parents have at home! And we did search for them! With all possible ways Muggle and magic! You remember what your father said.”
Watching him with her eyes wide, tears trickling down her cheeks, Ginny remembered those words well but didn’t dare to speak them as the image of the fallen, pale face of her father came to memory.
“A wizard’s broken wand at such a scene can only mean one thing!” he bellowed. “That’s what he said and I didn’t believe him! How dare you accuse me of not trying to find them? I just-”
But he didn’t finish, for suddenly Ginny broke free from his grasp, taking a step back, her face contorted with fury as loose strands of her hair fell out of her bun.
“Because it just wasn’t enough!” she screamed back at him. “Who is this man standing before me? Where is the fighter in you, Harry? You are not the man I love, the man I adore and look up to! Harry wouldn’t give up so easily. Come to think about it, Harry would never give up! They were your best friends, your family, the first people ever to love you! They were with you in times everyone else was gone and now, when they might be lost and needing our help, you go on pretending they’re dead.”
She dared to take a reckless step toward him as his eyes blazed with unimaginable heartache and fury. “You want to believe it,” she said in a rough voice. “Because you are so afraid that if you allow yourself to hope, it still might crumble!”
Ginny had yelled herself hoarse, her face flushed from anger and frustration. Before storming into the bedroom and slamming the door, she threw a disappointed and broken glance at Harry.
Hardly flinching throughout the entire process, Harry remained standing there in the middle of the living room desolately, knowing every single word Ginny uttered was justified.
Wiping his tears furiously, he threw himself onto the sofa suddenly, boring his head into his hands.
The battle issuing inside of him was exhausting and suddenly every inch within his body ached as he remembered their faces, their smiles and laughter. Life without them was so sad and difficult, void of all the good things about his past. Living with that knowledge was hard enough, but in the end, he had Ginny. His wonderful Ginny who filled up the aching lack of his past with her promising future. And now she resented him for denying his best friends. But how dare she? He would never deny them; it would be one of the last things he would ever do.
But after all the fighting and all the battles, all the lives lost and energy wasted, Harry just wanted to be, simple in his own existence that was no longer threatened but allowed him to live and embark on the journey called life. Everything started off so perfect.
Until they disappeared. Without a trace, like from a ridiculous children’s story. And he searched, he searched more than everyone else, he searched even when they held him back and gave up on their own. But one day it had to come to an end and the realization that they were, in fact, gone. At first Ginny understood, and they managed to move on very slowly, filling up the empty spaces with their love. Out of the blue she started with all this, and he tolerated it at first, but she delved deeper and deeper, pestering him and passing him those glances of contempt when he didn’t join in. Why did their days have to bear this sadness all the time? Why did she have to remind him? Why could he not take it? Or, most importantly, why could he not have saved them so none of them would have to go through this?
Looking up, his eyes red, Harry wiped his face with his hands and stood up shakily. He could hear Ginny sobbing softly from behind the door, so he slowly set out toward it. Hesitantly brushing his hand over the doorknob and opening the door, he suddenly hated himself as he saw Ginny sprawled on their bed, clutching at a pillow and crying.
Without thinking Harry approached her and lay down behind her, winding an arm around her waist, pulling her closer. Snuggling close to him, Ginny turned around and looked at him with those wide chocolate eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. Kissing her on the forehead, Harry didn’t say anything. “I know that sometimes I go over the top,” she went on, sniffing, “and I really don’t want to kindle false hope, but sometimes I just have this feeling they’re out there. I’m afraid of failing them, but I in no way wanted to accuse you of failing them. I know you didn’t, I know you wouldn’t, but please, Harry…don’t doubt me. I may be wrong for all I know, and so let’s just leave it…but as long as I don’t lose that feeling, I can’t stop.”
Ginny continually fascinated him in new ways. Staring at her avidly, his eyes taking in every detail, Harry cupped her face and again realized all the reasons for which he loved her. He loved her strength, her determination, her devotion, but most of all he loved that she loved him.
“I’m sorry for being weak,” he said in a whisper, but Ginny furrowed her eyebrows and reached out a hand to touch his cheek.
“Even heroes have their weaknesses,” she said softly, leaning forward and kissing him.
Smiling through all the pain, Harry hugged her and into her hair he said, “Marry me, Ginny.”
Ginny planted a gentle kiss on Harry’s neck. “Okay.”
For the last two days Hermione thought of nothing else but him. She was beginning to feel ridiculous for her lack of self-control. While at work, she avoided his ward but tried to dig up some new information, finding nothing. Growing frustrated and astonishingly curious, she almost went straight to him, but upon finding out he was being released the same day, she took it as the final sign to avoid him.
That same night she went out to do some shopping for dinner before she’d leave to Greece with Jonathan, only to be drawn to take a new route home from the market. As if by magic, she suddenly spotted him walking before her, his back turned to her, his shoulders slumped. She knew instantly that it was him for the slight limp in his walk from the injury and the blazing red hair shining under the light of the streetlamps.
She didn’t even consider turning away and ignoring him for the rest of her life this time, setting out straight after him, almost reaching his shadow when he turned abruptly, coming face to face with her.
Hermione didn’t know what power made her keep the firm hold on the paper shopping bags in her arms. Her entire body went rigid, every cell in her body seeming to freeze. The streetlamp above her head was flickering, the light flashing on and off, and even though it was spring, there was a slight chill in the air that didn’t reach her skin. Her face feeling hot, Hermione noticed a bench nearby, so she tore her eyes away from him and walked over to it, setting the bags down with a sigh. Hermione stood there, her head down and mind racing, breathing deeply.
She heard footsteps getting closer, so she looked up and saw him walking to her with an irritating hesitance, his eyes shining with a touching curiosity, wonder and confusion.
He opened his mouth to say something, but Hermione put up her hand to silence him.
“Are you stalking me?” she blurted out, her face contorting with anger.
Gawking at her for a moment, he was at a loss for words. “What? No!” he exclaimed, running a hand through his hair and looking around wildly. “I was just…walking here. They released me from the hospital today. To tell the truth, I was-” He stopped in mid-sentence, and Hermione raised her eyebrows.
Crossing her arms at her chest, Hermione stared at him severely, wishing he wouldn’t look through the defenses she had put up. Because truly, she didn’t feel at all like the bossy, mean person she was sounding like… but she was suddenly terrified as never before. And, what scared her even more, she wanted to meet and talk to him. But it was a mistake, she shouldn’t have, and now she wished she would be rather home with Jonathan, safe and warm.
Sighing in resignation, he looked at her boldly, never faltering under her stern gaze. “I was looking for you.”
Hermione’s heart shocked her, for she expected this revelation would surely make it jump out of her chest and run frantically, but it slowed down to a comfortable, almost soothing pace.
“All over the hospital,” he continued. “I wanted to talk to you, about what happened. I told you,” he said, stepping closer, placing his arms on her shoulders, though neither of them were aware of his action. “You said I said your name in my sleep. Hermione is not a common name. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard it before. I told you that I don’t know anything about myself. It’s strange, I have…memories I guess. Very little of them, and they’re never clear, and feel so unfamiliar as if they didn’t belong to me at all. Despite leading a comfortable, peaceful life, I am not happy, because something is wrong and I know it. But when I woke up and saw you there, for the first time in years or perhaps even in that life of mine I never recognized, for the first time I felt real.”
His words made the surrounding world disappear. Shaken, Hermione kept looking into his eyes -- those tantalizing eyes that made her feel guilty for Jonathan. She had never been too fond of long and intense eye-contacts, whether with Jonathan or during the brief flirtations she'd had. This time it was different, yet again, because she didn’t want to look away.
Stepping away, for the first time realizing his hold on her shoulders wasn’t quite appropriate, he stepped away and muttered an almost inaudible, “I’m sorry.”
Dejectedly sitting down on the bench beside her shopping bags, he rested his elbows on his legs, supporting his head with his hands.
Unsure of what to do, Hermione shut her eyes momentarily, still feeling the pressure of his hands atop her shoulders. Then a strange thing happened. Feeling the fresh breeze on her face, Hermione opened her eyes and somehow saw the world in a new light. Suddenly she decided to go along spontaneously, not thinking over every single step she took.
Sitting down beside him, the paper bags crumpling as she did, Hermione put her hands together and searched for proper words to fit the situation.
Ron looked up, startled by her sitting so close to him. For a moment Hermione thought he would jump up and run away, but he didn’t.
Chuckling nervously, he gave her an apologetic look. “Oh, I know I sound like a maniac and-”
Hermione held up a hand to silence him.
By instinct Hermione searched for answers in her mind, only to find out her intellect was disappointing her, or merely telling her it was time to listen to another device for once. Noting her heart thumping faintly, she turned her head to face him.
“I feel just the same.”
Giving her a questioning look, Ron shifted in his seat and waited for her to continue.
Averting her gaze, Hermione smiled a sad, nervous smile. “It’s so unbelievable that I met you and feel like this, just like you described it. Isn’t it strange? It seems to me that up until this point I’ve been leading two separate lives. One is my childhood and adolescence, one that I can remember only hazily and distantly, as if it was only a story told to me, and I pictured the rest, the images never providing the real thing. And then there is this life here. Where I’m a doctor, live a good, comfortable life with a man I’ve promised to marry. I never understood why there was the rupture between these two phases of my life. Nothing of big significance happened to me that would make me detach from a life so simple and seemingly nice.”
Her voice quivered for a second. “While everything I have is wonderful and I love it,” she added, lifting her eyes again, only to find him looking at her intently, “I want to know more about myself. I want to know precisely how I got here and where are all those people from childhood that I feel nothing toward. And you’re here, making me feel that my past and life are worth living for this moment. As peculiar and impossible as it may seem, I believe we knew each other once. Maybe we’ve been connected in a way. You know, maybe we were friends or acquaintances.”
Hermione was surprised by her words. She had never spoke so outlandishly yet honestly at the same time. Knowing it wasn’t possible to explain thoroughly, she hoped he would understand. After all, it was his determination that drove her to her sudden decision.
Leaning back against the bench, he tilted his head to the side, considering her closely. Hermione felt extremely shivery and nervous under his gaze. “Is something like this normal, though? You’re a doctor, you could know. Because sometimes I feel as if I just lost my memory, but I haven’t. There are memories, there is a past I’m aware of, it’s just-”
“Not it,” Hermione finished for him quietly. Removing a strand of her hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear, Hermione furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t know that much about psychology. The only thing I gathered is that there had to be something big in order for you to grow so distant with your past. And that is exactly the thing that’s bothering me. I have never suffered, or I can’t remember it. I have never gone through something horrible that would make me want to unconsciously forget everything, moving it to the back of my mind. Did you?”
He shook his head. “No.”
Nodding slowly, Hermione leaned back as well, allowing her body to relax, though the muscles in her face remained tight from all the thinking and mulling.
“I have to find out,” she said suddenly, breaking the silence. “And when we want to know something, we should never stop searching for the answer.” Biting on her bottom lip, Hermione straightened up again. “I don’t know how we’ll do this, but if you agree, let’s…” Her voice went hoarse. “Let’s search. There has to be an explanation. There has to be an answer to this. I refuse to leave it like this. I’ve been avoiding getting deeper and looking further for years, but now,” she looked at him, who never took his eyes off her the entire time she was talking, “now I feel is the time.”
It scared her -- these impulsive, wild decisions of heart. Never before had she considered matters of the heart much; the mind was, after all, so much stronger and more sensible. Perhaps it was his presence that made her break rules she'd set for herself. And it well and truly scared her, but on the other hand, it made her feel bizarrely free and natural – sensations her life lacked.
The man that had turned her life upside down within seconds remained silent. It didn’t look like he was thinking over his decision, more like doing his best to understand at least a little portion of this entire chaos.
“I say we do it,” he replied finally. “And we can start first thing tomorrow.”
Everything within her igniting, Hermione almost dared to smile when she remembered: Greece.
Her face falling, she looked to the ground and fidgeted with her hands.
“I’m afraid it will have to wait. I’m leaving abroad tomorrow.”
She heard him sigh and could’ve sworn he rolled his eyes. The thought made her smile and here it was again – the familiarity of him. As he was about to stand up, she caught hold of his arm and pulled him to sit back down.
“I’ll call it off,” she said gently.
He smiled, extending his hand. “Ron Weasley.”
Hermione took it and squeezed it firmly, the touch of his hand making soft pink spots appear on her cheeks. “Hermione Granger.”
Author's Note: Guess what, everyone? I have a new and fantastic beta Megan. I want to thank you so, so much for beta reading and the perfect assistance, Megs. Now, I hope you enjoyed this chapter, the next one should be done by the end of next week, or at least I'll try since summer will be in full swing, and I will have work and family vacations and all that, but I'll definitely try to write more as soon as possible. So, thank you for reading guys and to all those who reviewed. You really have no idea how amazing you are. And I will be extremely happy if you review again, so please do. Thank youu!
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