After hearing Ginny’s weird tale the night before, Ron took the sleeping draught again. Mitzi had proved to be even more annoying the second day and Ron needed to be alert in order to deal with her snappy retorts.
He was working through Mitzi’s files, putting them in alphabetical order by name, when a debilitating pain rushed through his head, causing him to see black. Ron was kneeling on the floor of Mitzi’s cube, his head in his hands, his whole body shaking, when she came in.
“What do you think you’re doing? I leave you alone for one minute you decide to take a nap?!” She pulled on his hair and screamed when she saw that his eyes rolled back into his head.
Ron heard her yell as if it was coming from far away. There was a flash and a he caught a glimpse of a bushy haired girl curled up under a bathroom sink. Another throb shot through his head. He was looking at the same bushy haired girl, slightly older and completely still, lying on a hospital bed. It didn’t take him more than those two visions for him to realize that these were memories of Hermione that he was experiencing.
Before he had time to even think about that though, another scene shot before his eyes. This one consisted of a flustered Hermione, holding on tightly to her cat, yelling in frustration at him. More memories flooded his mind, so many that he began to lose track.
He could feel hands clasping onto his own, but didn’t know if it was a memory or if it was something that was actually occurring.
His hands were exploring, her naked skin felt warm and wonderful to his rough flesh.
He was heaving, retching onto the floor in front of him
She was whispering in his ear as they watched Harry talking to Cho in the Room of Requirement, her breath tickled his neck and he put his hands further into his pockets, afraid that he would be unable to hold himself back from touching her.
He felt himself lifted and held upright.
She was screaming and crying, her periwinkle dress robes swished around her ankles as she stormed up the stairs.
He felt a jolt work through his body he heard spells shouted through a muffled haze.
She smacked him lightly on the head with a rolled up Prophet, a smile playing on her lips that she tried to hold back.
A hand smacked him across the face. His eyes fluttered open and he groaned, grasping his head firmly in his hands.
“It’s about time!” A familiar grating voice huffed. Mitzi stood to his right, a look of… was that relief?... on her face.
“You alright, mate?” Harry’s voice, filled with worry.
Ron couldn’t speak; the words would not come. He just shook his head and slumped into a chair nearby. He had drawn quite the crowd, most of the Auror office was staring down at him, all with differing degrees of interest in their faces.
Mitzi conjured a glass of water and shoved it towards him. When he couldn’t move his hands to grasp it, she gently – well as gently as was in her nature – put the cup to his lips and tilted it back.
The water slid down his throat, cooling the heat that had been building in his body while the memories invaded his mind. He drained three glasses before he felt able enough to speak.
“I remember.” He choked out.
“Good then perhaps you could fill us all in,” Mitzi broke in.
He looked at Harry, who upon one glance seemed to understand what Ron was trying to say.
“She did it.”
Ron just nodded. The rest of the Aurors seeing that Ron was okay began to disperse, no longer interested in what was going on.
“Who did what?” Mitzi demanded.
“Hermione.” Her name felt strange on his tongue, as if he hadn’t truly said it in years.
“You mean Granger?” Mitzi’s voice had lost all of its edge.
“No, Malfoy.” That name felt even odder, and it sent a horrible shot through his entire body that caused him to shiver. Mitzi put a small hand on his shoulder, which steadied him.
“What did Hermione Mal… do.?” Mitzi stopped mid name at the onset of Ron’s shaking again.
“She brought his memories back,” Harry said as he continued to stare at Ron.
“He didn’t have his memories? How in the world did he get a job here?” Mitzi was incredulous, and it was her attitude that brought him out of his haze more than anything else did.
“I had memories. Well, most of them.” Ron tried to stand, but his legs felt unsteady underneath him and Mitzi pushed him back into the chair. “I just didn’t remember her.” He said in a quieter voice.
Merlin, would the inquisition ever end?
“Yes, Hermione,” Harry answered for Ron.
Mitzi was about to open her rather large mouth once more when Ron cut in, “She was my best friend, my girlfriend. I lost my memories; she got them back. Now can we move on? I have filing to finish.”
For once Mitzi was speechless, something for which Ron was extremely grateful. Harry tried to push Ron to go home, or to tell him something, but Ron ignored them both. He needed to work, some activity to take his mind off everything he had just remembered.
His brain throbbed in his head, his fingers were shaky, but Ron plodded on. Harry went back to his desk but continued to pass by every so often.
Mitzi stayed quiet the rest of the day, he could feel the sympathetic glances that she shot his way, but he ignored them as he ignored everything other than the task at hand. He hadn’t noticed the office thinning, or people saying their good-bye’s at the end of the day. The next thing he knew it was seven and he was alone in the office, well alone except for Mitzi anyway.
He started to put on his cloak when Mitzi spoke.
“I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch. I didn’t know…”
“Does it really make a difference?” He asked.
She shrugged her shoulders, “Perhaps.”
“S’okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Mitzi gave a weak smile and then Ron headed home alone, though he didn’t count on staying that way for long. If he knew Harry and his sister, they would be waiting for him.
Minutes later Ron stepped into The Burrow. He had been right.
Hermione found once again that she had closed herself off from the rest of the world. Although this time, she could account some of that to Twinkles. The elf had blocked all contact points, both magical and muggle, in order to protect Hermione. During the week and a half, she hadn’t even noticed the passing of time or even if she had had anything to eat.
She was both sad about her break with Draco, and relieved that it was finally at an end. She felt the sting of failure and the flutter of freedom. The opposing feelings warred within her, causing her body to shut down.
When she awoke from her cocoon, it was to see Twinkles once again sitting in the chair by her bed. The elf looked more careworn than ever. She felt a new twinge of guilt, one that sat heavily alongside every other emotion that she had been indulging in.
She still felt the weight of all that had passed, but now she was slowly regaining the feeling of self that had always been forefront in her. She showered, she ate, and she looked over the post. Several scraps of red paper and scorch marks covered the front table where letters had detonated. Hermione could only imagine the content of those howlers, most of which probably came from Ginny.
There was a scroll from Linus, the edges singed along the right hand side. He asked where she had been, if he was to continue with their research, and if so, would she send the ring back. There was a bill from Madam Malkin's, and several notes from Harry, Ginny, George, and Molly. Each one asked where she was.
The worst was the invitation, which had gold lettering, requesting the attendance of Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy. It reminded her once again of her failure and regrets. She put the stack down and decided that she would finish going through it later.
She needed to get out of the house, away from everything that would remind her of both Ron and Draco. Therefore, she decided to go and visit her parents. She hadn’t really talked to them much since returning from Japan. Just a quick missive letting them know she was back in the country.
She drove. The feeling of being in control of something put her mind at ease, if only for that half an hour.
Her mother was in the front yard, stooped over and digging along the walk.
“What on earth are you doing?” Hermione managed to chuckle at her mother’s hunched form.
She looked up and wiped a stray curl from her brow with her arm. “Oh, Hermione, I wasn’t expecting you.” She rose and removed the rather large gardening gloves. “I was getting ready to plant some marigolds.”
“Mum? You do remember what happened the last time you decided to plant anything.”
Her mum huffed, “That’s not fair, one mistake with a palm tree and no one will let me live it down.”
“Perhaps that’s because we live in England, palm trees won’t grow here. Honestly.” Hermione shook her head with a large smile on her face. She knew that coming here would be a great distraction. It felt nice to smile; she couldn’t remember the last time that she honestly had.
“It was just an experiment. Besides, marigolds will grow wonderfully here. See.” She pointed across the street at Mr. Shumacher’s lawn to see it lined with the beautiful red, orange and yellows.
“Yes, well that is Mr.Shumacher. Maybe you should consider having him do your lawn as well.”
Her mum sighed, “I am going to ignore that. Now what brings you by?”
“Nothing, can’t a girl just want to spend some quality time with her parents?”
“A girl can, but you usually don’t.”
“Now who is being unfair?” Hermione pouted, it was true that she hadn’t been as close to her parents ever since she had found out that she was a witch, but she still enjoyed spending time with them. They were her parents, and she loved them.
“I’m sorry. Come in and I’ll fix us something to snack on.”
Hermione followed her mother into the house where she was greeted by the sight of her father watching the telly in nothing but his bathrobe.
“Didn’t feel like getting dressed today, I see.” Hermione grinned cheekily at her father.
“Why should I? It’s Sunday and I have nowhere to be and no one to see.”
“What about me?” Both Hermione and her mother said at the same time.
“Well you weren’t supposed to be here, were you? And you, Helen, have seen me in much less.” He gave Hermione’s mum a quick wink. “So what are you doing here, Hermione? Everything okay?”
She shook her head slowly and felt the tears begin to well up in her eyes once more.
Her mother pushed her towards the couch and sat her down.
“What’s wrong, dear?”
Hermione opened her mouth, closed it, and then opened it once more. The words were stuck in her throat. How was she going to admit to her parents what a failure she was?
“Is it something to do with Draco?” Her mother asked.
“Can’t you tell us?” Her father prodded.
After a second Hermione answered, “I’m so ashamed.” The tears that she had been holding back burst forth. When had she turned into such a crybaby?
“About what? Hermione, you’re scaring us.” Her mother came and sat down beside her, wrapping her up in her warm embrace.
She cried on her shoulder for a while, no one speaking, just the sound of muffled sobs coming through her mum’s arms. Then her mum pulled back and looked hard at her face. She wiped the tears away with her delicate fingers.
“Please tell us what is wrong.”
“Draco has left me.” Hermione said in a flat voice moments later.
“That rat bastard!” Her father burst out. “How dare he abandon my little girl?!”
He would have continued in that manner had Hermione not stopped him, “No daddy, he was right to leave. I don’t love him. Well, not the way that he deserves. I just…” She paused and took in a harsh breath, “…I’ve failed. I couldn’t even stay married for one year. I promised to be with him for the rest of my life. My word doesn’t count for much, does it?” She looked down into her lap, her fingers played carelessly with the edge of her jumper.
“Oh, honey!” Her mum pulled her in again. “You didn’t fail. Marriage isn’t something that you win or lose at.” Her mum brushed her hair with her fingers as she rocked Hermione gently.
“Can you tell us what happened?” Her dad asked, less enraged, but more concerned now than before.
“Ron,” came Hermione’s muffled reply.
“Ah,” both of her parents sighed at the same time.
Some more time passed and Hermione began to calm. Her sniffles all but completely disappeared. She pulled away from her mother and stood. “I don’t suppose it’d be all right if I stayed here for a little while?” She asked.
“No, of course, stay as long as you need,” her mum said.
“I just don’t think I can go back there, not yet.”
“We understand Hermione. It’ll be okay,” her dad’s gentle words soothed her further.
She knew it would be okay, she knew that this too, would pass, but at the moment the opposing feelings warred within her. Most prominent was the guilt at her relief.
“I’ll just go and gather some things.”
“Would you like me to come?” Her mum asked.
For a second Hermione considered going alone, that this was something she needed to do on her own, but then she thought better of it. Being with her mum had already helped so much. So, she nodded her head and led her mother to the car. They spent the journey home in companionable silence.
It had been the most frustrating two weeks that Ginny could remember. She had sent nearly a dozen howlers to Hermione with no response. Her brother was walking around like a zombie. Every time she saw him, he had a glazed over expression. He went about his daily tasks easily enough, but she could see how detached he was from it all.
Not even Harry’s attempts to take him out and talk had worked. Ron stayed inside himself. He didn’t share his newfound memories with anyone. Ginny suggested that he go see a Healer, but he shrugged that off immediately.
She had even gone as far as to look up Professor Wentworth, but the old man who opened the door wouldn’t let her past the main entrance. Not to mention that Ginny had been unable to get anywhere near the front gate to Hermione’s home.
“No luck in getting a hold of Hermione then?” Harry asked when he walked into the kitchen that evening.
Ginny was sitting on the counter licking the back of a spoon.
“No, no luck. I tried to get through the gate again today, but I wasn’t even able to touch it. How’s Ron?”
“Merlin! I wish I knew what was going on in his head. This is driving me insane.”
“Me too. He won’t talk to anyone but that Mitzi woman.”
“Mitzi? I thought her name was Pixie.”
“Yeah, so did I. Apparently it’s not, and Ron got in a right snit when I called her that today.”
“You don’t think that they’re…”
“He can be such an idiot sometimes. He can’t keep running to the first girl he sees whenever he gets upset about Hermione.” Ginny jumped down from the countertop and threw the spoon into the sink.
“You don’t have to lecture me about it.” Harry said defensively.
Watching Ron had been just as frustrating for him, Ginny acknowledged and moved to his side. She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed his middle. “I’m sorry. I’m just so worried about them both.”
“I know,” Harry squeezed back, “I am too.” He broke away and moved over to the countertop where he put the lid back onto the peanut butter jar. “Nott’s case is coming up. Maybe Malfoy will be there. I can try and find out what’s being going on with Hermione then.”
Ginny nodded. “I think I’m going to go to her parent’s house tomorrow. Maybe they know what’s going on.”
It was Harry’s turn to nod. “You want me to come with?”
“Nah, more than likely they don’t know anything either. It’s not like Hermione spends loads of time with them. It’ll only take maybe five minutes.”
Hermione had spent a couple of very peaceful days at her parents’ home. They didn’t question her further about the split with Draco, but whenever she needed to vent her mum was always there with a compassionate ear.
Being with them had done her a world of good, and even though she was still battling within herself, she felt that she would be better. Not anytime soon, but one day.
Three days after her initial arrival, a knock at the front door broke into what had started as a quiet afternoon. It was probably Mr. Shumacher with those bulbs that he had promised her. Hermione had taken over the task of setting up the marigolds. The quiet chore helped to settle her mind, and she looked forward to her time spent in the dirt every day.
However, she met, not Mr. Shumacher, but the freckled face and small belly of Ginny Weasley.
“HERMIONE!” Ginny squealed and hugged her fiercely. “Where have you been? I have been trying to reach you!” Ginny’s initial excitement about seeing her friend quickly wore off, and Hermione could see the anger settle into place.
“I have been trying to reach you for two weeks!” She admonished.
Hermione widened the door to allow Ginny entrance. She walked towards the sitting room and took a seat on the couch. Ginny followed behind, and Hermione waited for her situate herself before beginning.
“I’m sorry, Gin. It has been a very rough two weeks.”
Ginny, who looked about bursting hesitated before responding, “Hermione? What’s going on? How did you reverse the memory spell? Why weren’t you home?”
Hermione broke in, “Reverse the memory spell? I don’t know what you mean. I haven’t done any work on the ring in the past two weeks.” She felt her heart constrict and she fisted her hand by her chest, as if that would stem the pain.
Ginny looked on confused. “I don’t understand. If you didn’t reverse it, then how did Ron…”
Hermione was breathing heavily now, which forced Ginny to come to her aid.
“Hermione? What’s going on?” Her voice was frantic and Hermione tried to speak, to say something to quell her friend fears, but the panic attack that had set in was too overwhelming.
Ginny grabbed her wand from her robe pockets and conjured a glass of water. She held the glass to Hermione lips and rubbed small circles on her back in an effort to calm her labored breathing.
Finally, Hermione was able to choke out, “He remembers?”
“Yes, he remembers. We thought you did something.”
Hermione shook her head.
She shook her head again, “I don’t know.”
“If you didn’t bring his memories back then why did you leave? What happened, Hermione?”
She looked to Ginny with a pained expression. “Draco is gone. He’s left me.”
There was a gasp from the red head, and then her face began to grow red. “How dare he? Who does that rotten little ferret think he is?”
“He is a man who deserves to be loved. Don’t blame this on him. He was right to leave.”
Ginny looked on incredulously.
“He was. I couldn’t love him the way that he needed. I tried so hard. He was so good to me.”
“We are talking about Malfoy, you know.”
Hermione huffed. “This is why I didn’t come around. I can’t talk to you about this. You hate him too much. He was good to me, he loved me, and he doesn’t deserve your derision.”
Ginny sat still for a minute and then said, “You’re right. I haven’t been a good friend, but don’t expect me to praise him. He loved you. It's probably the only good thing he has ever done. But while I will try to be there for you on this, I won’t pretend that I am not thrilled that he is gone. I don’t like him. He is sneaky, and has done and said horrible things. You are lucky to be rid of him…” Hermione shot Ginny a scathing look, “…but from now on I will hold my tongue. He is-was-your husband and you have every right to be upset. I am here for you.”
It wasn’t exactly what Hermione would call an act of good will, but she knew that she wouldn’t get anything more from Ginny on this subject. Ever since Ron had returned, Ginny’s hatred for Draco had come back tenfold.
“So when did this happen?” Ginny asked more soothingly.
“Two weeks ago. When I woke up he was gone, all of his things were gone; there was a note.”
“He left you in a note? Sorry, sorry. I’ll be good.”
“I don’t think he would have been able to do it any other way.”
Hermione felt grateful that Ginny didn’t say ‘coward’, though she could see her friend aching to utter the word aloud.
“He left because he knew; he knew that I didn’t love him. Not the way that I love...” she paused, collected herself then continued, “He said I never would and he couldn’t continue waiting for me.”
“What day, exactly?” Ginny plodded on.
“Tuesday. I woke up late, maybe ten or so.”
Ginny looked thoughtful. “Tuesday was the day that Ron got his memories back. It happened sometime that morning, from what Harry said. Do you think…”
The sentence trailed off and left a resounding echo in Hermione’s brain.
“It would make sense.” She finally said. “Once the marriage is broken, or accepted to be broken, the spell could break.” Her mind began to run more clinically than emotionally. She was in her element. The webs that had developed around the inner cogs of her mind over the last two weeks were pushed aside as the analytical part took over.
“Maybe I’d better go see Linus. He would know more about this than I would. Can you tell me anything about how the memories came on?”
Ginny shook her head. “Ron hasn’t been very talkative lately. In fact, he hardly talks to anyone except that Mitzi girl he works with.” Ginny scowled, but Hermione ignored both Ginny’s displeasure and the pang of jealousy that hit at the mention of Ron connecting with someone else.
It was irrational, this incessant wanting of him. She should be mourning her relationship with Draco, not pining over Ron. A headache started throbbing in her temples, and she rubbed them as she tried to focus back onto the problem of how Ron got his memories back.
“I’ll let you know if Linus and I come up with anything. If you need me you can reach me here.” Hermione ushered Ginny out of the sitting room and through the front door. She just needed to be alone for a little bit. She needed to process everything that she'd heard.
A/N: So a long chapter for me, and one with memories for Ron! About time, right? So what did you guys think? How was the revelation of the new memories? What about the grief that Hermione was going through?
Thanks to all of you wonderific readers and especially you fantabulous reviewers. You guys ROCK! I loved hearing from so many of you about the last chapter.
Thanks definitely goes out to my Spleniferous Beta Georgia Weasley, who made a valliant attempt at July NaNo. You are aces!
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