Chapter 26 : Pretender
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“Wait, slow down Hermione. You’re talking too fast for me to understand.” Hermione took a deep breath and began again.
“Ok, so I think that Zambini put a memory charm on Draco.”
“Yes, I got that. But I thought that memory charms simply erased memories, not changed them because, from what I’ve seen, Mal–Draco’s personality is what’s changed. And I’m not sure memories are the cause of personality changes. Besides, he obviously remembers the past few months with you and Ariella, so it can’t be a memory charm. They start at the end and work backwards. It depends on the strength how far back gets erased.”
“Ginny that’s just one memory charm. The most common one, obviously. But I remembered reading about other types when we researching stuff for the Horcruxes. There were ones to erase specific and total memories, ones to add something to memories, even ones to simply alter memories. I think Blaise put him under one of those. He’s changing Draco’s memories of the war. I mean, why else would he revert to being…” She trailed off.
“Ginny, please!” Hermione cried out. Ginny sighed. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “So why exactly do you need me?”
Hermione could not stop the grin that spread across her face, “Thank you Ginny. Really.” Ginny just raised her eyebrows. “Oh right. Why do I need you? Well, the fact of the matter is, I don’t think I can do the counter curse.”
“Then how do you expect me to be able to? I mean, you have always been better at everything than pretty much everyone.”
“Maybe, but you certainly are better at that Bat-Bogey Hex,” Hermione replied with a fond smile. Shaking her head, as if to shake out those distracting thoughts, she began again, “I need you to do it because I doubt my mental ability to perform the spell, not my magical ability. Ginny, I – I can’t. There are so many things that could distract me. I’ve spent the past few months trying to figure out what’s going on inside his head that if I were to actually be inside his head, I wouldn’t be able to help him. At least, not the way he needs to be helped. There are so many things about him that I want to know, that I feel like I should know. If I were to try and help him get his memories on the right track, I would spend so much time looking at his other memories, trying to figure him out, and learn why he is the way he is, that I would never actually get the rest of his memories back on track. I need you to help me fix him, because I couldn’t live with myself if I ruined him. Please, Ginny. Please.”
They stayed silent for a few minutes. Hermione did not know what else to say. Ginny was still trying to figure out how she was supposed to respond. Finally, she said, “When do you want to do this?”
“As soon as possible. Zambini is supposed to be coming over in a couple hours to “check up” on him. So if we could do it before then?”
“Hermione, this is probably going to take more than a few hours. Can’t you just cancel on him?” Hermione shook her head, “He would know then. And he would come anyways and make it harder to fix.”
“But how are we going to stop him once he gets there? Obviously, we can’t be helping Draco get his memories all sorted out, and stop Zambini. It just won’t work.”
Both girls turned their heads as the kitchen door opened, “I think we can help with that,” Harry spoke as he entered the room, Ron trailing behind him.
“And just how do you plan on doing that?” Ginny asked, crossing her arms and staring at her husband. Hermione looked towards the pot of boiling water that was sitting on the stove. She watched as the water bubbled from the bottom, growing and growing, as if it were trying to escape its confines. But the moment it finally did, it popped.
Harry said, “If you guys can take Malfoy somewhere else, even if it’s only in the Manor, Ron and I can handle Zambini.”
“But what about Teddy?” Hermione asked as she continued to watch the bubbles die.
“He’s over with Mrs. Weasley and Ariella. We dropped him off a few hours ago. She seemed to think that Ariella was in need of a friend.”
Hermione felt her eyes well up. She missed her baby girl. They had all agreed it would be better for everyone if Ariella spent a few days with Mrs. Weasley. Hermione had been trying to get Draco better, but he had only gotten worse. So, a few days had turned into a more than a week. Yes, she got to see her baby girl, whenever she pleased, but it was not the same. She did not wake up to her cries in the middle of the night. She did not feed her every morning when she woke up. She did not put her to bed every night. She could not hold her whenever she pleased. She could not hear her laughter ringing through the halls. She could not feel those little fingers curl around her own. Sometimes it felt as if Ariella had been taken away for good. Those were the times that she could not hardly bare to think, to breathe.
A tear slipped down her cheek. A hand brushed it away. She looked up, hoping against all knowledge that it was him. That he was standing here in front of her, ready to hold her close. Her eyes did not meet his stormy grey, but Ron’s baby blue.
She watched as he lifted his other hand to hold her face in his hands, the way he used to before he would kiss her. Staring into his eyes, she gently took a step back. And then another, and another, until she was flush with counter behind her. He stared sadly at her. Finally, she whispered, “You were the one that left me.” She moved towards the kitchen table and grabbed the book. Turning towards Harry and Ginny, she said, “We should get going. I think we’ve wasted enough time as it is.”
“Of course, of course,” Ginny said sadly. Hermione nodded, and then proceeded to the living room. The other three remained in the kitchen for a minute. Gently, Ginny said, “I’m sorry, Ron. But you made your choice.”
“I know,” he said sadly, “But that doesn’t mean I don’t regret it. And it certainly doesn’t mean I can’t try to make up for it. Let me help her, please. Just let me help her.” Both could see the pain written clearly in his eyes. Slowly, Ginny nodded.
“I think I know exactly what you can do.”
“Draco, get up!” Blaise said loudly, shaking the body again. With an angry groan, the body shifted and turned to look at him.
“Bloody hell!” he whispered. Staring back at him was not Draco Malfoy. He had to say, Ronald Weasley with blonde hair was tens times worse to look at then Ronald Weasley with red hair.
“Hello Zambini. Sure has been a while, hasn’t it?”
“Where the hell is Draco?” Blaise demanded. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Ron shrugged.
“Dunno, mate. And why the bloody hell should I?”
“You are the one sleeping in his bed.”
“No, I’m not. He has a room upstairs.”
“Ah, yes. The room he shares with his precious mudblood. Tell me, Weasley, does their little relationship bother you as much as it bothers me?”
“If you’re as in love with Malfoy as I am with Hermione, then yes. Yes, I suppose so. Of course, at one point she loved me back. I’m not so certain that Malfoy ever gave you the time of day, so to speak.” Ron watched with silent amusement as Zambini’s fury boiled over the edge. His face turned hard as stone, and his fists continuously clenched and unclenched. His brown eyes seemed to turn black.
“Weasley,” he spoke through clenched teeth, “Where the bloody hell is Draco? And this time, I want the truth.” Ron held his hands up in defeat, “Fine, fine. Malfoy is upstairs with Hermione.” When Zambini turned to leave, Ron called out, “You might want to wait a bit. No sense interrupting them. No one would appreciate it if you killed Hermione in a fit of jealous rage.”
When he opened the door, he was even more surprised to see Boy-Wonder standing in front of him. Leaning against the frame, a cocky grin in place, Harry said, “I certainly wouldn’t appreciate it. And if you, as Ron here has supposed, truly do have feelings for Malfoy, I wouldn’t go up there. Besides, I’m sure that whatever happens to be going on up there, any interruptions would surely result in scars. Mental and physical. Surely, you wouldn’t want Hermione to ruin your precious face. Merlin knows how obsessed with your looks you pureblooded gits are.”
“I said gits, Ron. And you aren’t a git,” Harry paused, as if reconsidering his statement, “At least, not nearly so much as these Slytherin boys are. Most of the time anyways.”
“I see you are here to distract me,” Zambini stated calmly. Rather, as calmly as he could manage.
“Just now figuring that out? Well, I suppose we are doing our job fairly decently.”
“Obviously, if your point here is to distract me, these events you that you are implying are occurring above us are not. Which means that there must be something much more important on your minds. Tell me, what is it, exactly, that you are so keen on my not knowing? I am simply here to do my job. Fix the problems that Weasley here created. How does it fell, Weasley, to know that she still wants him over you? A Dark Wizard that you all have always hated? It must be quite terrible. Of course, that does explain why you’re here, in Draco’s bed, your hair charmed to look like his. It doesn’t suit you, by the by.”
“Poor Zambini. It really must pain you, to feel this way. Personally, I know she had a good reason. Malfoy, though. Well, I suppose him being a straight man might put a damper on your relationship.”
“Merlin, the way you go on about him, Weasley, one might suppose you’re simply doing what you claim I am doing: displacing your feelings onto another. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a patient I must attend to.” He turned back to the doorway, as if to leave, when Harry stepped back into it.
“Sorry, Zambini. We’re on strict orders not to allow you to walk out of here. And as much as I normally hate orders, I feel as if this is one I should abide by,” Harry said with another cocky grin.
“If that’s the way it has to be, then fine,” Zambini replied, pulling his wand from his inner jacket pocket.
“Tell me again how I’m supposed to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not,” Ginny said.
“Ok, you know how there’s that silvery blue tint to memories when you put them in a pensive?” Ginny nodded and Hermione continued, “That’s what you’ll see in his mind. The true memories will have that silvery blue tint to them. The other ones, the fake ones, won’t. I’m guessing that there might be some intermingling in some of them, because he will have wanted Draco to truly believe that these memories were the truth. I don’t know if those fake memories will be tinted different colors, or if there won’t be any tinting at all. You should be able to figure that out on your own.”
“And what am I supposed to do with these fake memories?” Hermione handed her a vial. Ginny looked at her strangely, “But what if I mess it up?”
“But I could.”
“I have faith that you won’t. Just make sure you go by the colors. Not by any preconceived notion of Draco.” Ginny nodded and gripped the vial tighter.
“Try not to break that. It’s the only one I could find. There aren’t many memory erasers out there.”
“What happens if I don’t take out the whole bad memory?”
“The vial should take care of that. And Ginny?”
“Good luck.” Ginny smiled apprehensively at her friend, held her wand to Draco’s sleeping head, and whispered the spell to take her into his mind.
Author’s Note (again): Hey, so I know that earlier, I said that Ariella had blue eyes, and that surprised Ron, but then I changed it to violet eyes, upon now realizing that Ron has blue eyes. So yeah. And I’ll explain later why they aren’t grey =]=]
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