Title: The Last Surrender

Chapter 1

Author: CleverWitch


Rating: R (for language and sexual situations)

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and co belong to J.K. and all

that jazz.

Author's Notes: I owe every last bit of inspiration for this fic to an author named Serendipity and her utterly, unspeakably amazing fic "That Muted Sort of Longing". The way she created Ginny in that story inspired me to write this and to become in all out Harry/Ginny shipper!!!!! :)

Now, onto the show!

Harry Potter was rip-roaring drunk. But some backtracking is necessary to explain exactly why. Or why Ginny Weasley stood in the shadowy entrance of the bar watching him sadly and working up the courage to go collect him.

It was four years after his graduation from Hogwarts, and two years after his training as an Auror had finished. And in that two years the last of Voldemorts followers had finally been captured. The Dark Lord with his Dark Army were utterly vanquished. Voldemort himself had fallen

while Harry was still in school and the battle between the two wizards would be the stuff of legends. Harry had only thought himself famous before. With the fall of Voldemort his reputation had surpassed what his imagination had horrifically speculated in the past. To add to this, he trained as an Auror, got in magnificent shape and took down the last of Voldemorts Death Eaters nearly single-handedly. His fame made it impossible for him to meet anyone to whom he was a stranger. Everyone knew him for his great deeds and magic.

Now, his work was done. Things had been peaceful for over a year and a half. He had enjoyed a hard earned rest at first and taken up a slew of hobbies--Quidditch first and foremost. But once the 'holiday' had turned into 'everyday' and Harry had found it necessary to build what he considered an 'average, everyday life' he had run amok. While in the whirl of battle with death threatening at every corner he hadn't any time to notice what little of a social life he had. And after his duties to the Order had ceased he had found himself sadly out of the loop. Old school friends were married, some with children. Many were faraway though they offered very kind correspondence via Owl. That didn't fill his Saturday nights though. He certainly wasn't short on company--how could the famous Harry Potter ever be lonely? Women threw themselves at his feet. And at first it had been lovely and exciting. But now...it can be said he found it rather lacking. Everyone wanted the same thing. A piece of the fame.

Tonight was Ron and Hermione's anniversary. And it was Hermione who had phoned Ginny, now that Ginny had moved to London and worked there as a Healer. Ron and Hermione,

together for many years now, had made it a habit to occupy Harry's weekends. They had struggled to 'set him up' with such repeatedly disastrous results that even THEY had given up. Now they simply kept him company to prevent him from slipping into the funk they found him prone to nowadays. But their Anniversary was the one night they spent only with each other--bad luck that it had fallen on a weekend.

It was Hermione that had contacted Ginny and asked her this favor. She knew exactly where Harry would go and exactly what Harry would do. It was sad really, and Ginny saw the sadness of it immediately. Harry went to the local bar, got himself utterly smashed and usually ended up going home with someone he really shouldn't.

Ginny had been reluctant to get involved. She had never really tamped her feelings for him completely out. They surfaced again and again and the only relief she had found (besides dating someone else) had been distance. But the job in London had been too great to pass up. Now, standing in the doorway of the smoky, dirty bar, its music blaring, watching Harry, for the first time she was glad she had decided to come home. Glad she could be here for him now, when he needed someone to be.

Ginny had hammered out a friendship with Harry through their school years but it had been a quiet one. She was mostly shy and see-sawed between friendship and lust for him in a what she found a truly frightening way. But she had been there, in the background, through everything, even that final, awful battle. She knew what it had done to him. She knew what he had become and she knew what had stayed the same.

She smiled, watching him dance wildly on the floor.

He might be a great wizard. But he was no great shakes as a dancer.

The song ended and he stumbled back over to the bar and another drink came so fast Ginny realized he was getting them for free--because of who he was. Her smile faded. He was obscenely drunk.

She gathered herself together and started over. Best to get him back to her place and let him sleep it off on her couch.

She walked up behind him as he leaned over-casually against the bar beside a group of very 'free' looking women--all eyeing him greedily.

"Well hello there ladies..." he slurred and Ginny shook her head.

He tossed his hair back in a gesture she could tell was simply habit. The effect it had however, was startling, because it revealed his scar.

The girls eyes widened, "Wait, you're Harry Potter! I don't believe it! Angie, it's Harry Potter! Here!"

She saw him stiffen, the sound of his name unpleasant to him, before he seemed to shake it off. She could almost feel him force the smile back, "Looks like it's your lucky night..." he said and Ginny, the only sober one present, heard such bitterness in his voice that her stomach clenched.

Oh, he was bitter. So very very bitter and angry. Though, as she remembered it, Harry was extremely good at being angry.

The girls didn't seem to notice. They were leaning closer to him as though he were a very expensive new toy.

"It's a special night ladies!" he said recklessly, swinging his drink around and spilling it, "One of you gets to be lucky enough, to take the famous Harry Potter home--who will it be?"

Ginny's mouth fell open and her temper flared up so suddenly she spoke before she thought, "HARRY POTTER!" she admonished in such an accurate imitation of her mother she would be horrified for years by the recollection.

Harry turned around in surprise and upon seeing her his entire demeanor shifted. A look of absolute delight came over his face and he dropped his drink with a crash to the floor. Ginny quickly repaired it with her wand as he barreled her over in a crushing hug.


He stepped back, taking her by the shoulders and she could see in his eyes that he couldn't see her properly. He was smiling very sincerely though, "Ginny Weasley, what are you doing here? You look...absolutely beautiful! Are you visiting London--is that it? Bad timing if it's Ron you came to see, it's his and Hermione's anniversary tonight--say, is that why you came out? No place else to be? Same with me."

Ginny watched his babble in astonishment. She didn't think he'd spoken to her this much in all the time she'd known him. She took in the changes to his appearance. He had filled out a great deal thanks to Auror training--though his boyish quality still lingered about his mouth and in the roguish way his hair fell over his ears. He still wore glasses but very smart ones and he was dressed very handsomely.

"I've moved back actually." she informed him and he looked, if possible, more delighted.

"Really? Got a job here? You're a Healer right? Yeah, I thought so. Must be at the new Hospital--good for you, good for you! That's smashing that is. You and I should get together! Still play Quidditch? If you fancy some practice I play every Saturday--just an informal sort of thing with a group who like it too. We could use a good Chaser though. What do you say?"

She had managed to lead him nearly out of the bar, "Sounds lovely Harry. I do miss flying."

She was sure he wouldn't remember anything he said the next day, "Say, Harry, how does a coffee sound? Shake off some of that alcohol and catch up on old times?"

He seemed to realize they were about to leave and his groggy eyes narrowed suspiciously, "Why are you trying to get me to leave?"

Suddenly his expression changed, a brief pain tensing his features before he turned cold, "Hermione put you up to this didn't she? Didn't she!"

When Ginny shook her head Harry's voice suddenly tripled in volume, "DON'T LIE TO ME!"

Ginny physically recoiled and Harry's anger snuffed out instantly as he read the fear in her eyes. He looked sad for a heartbeat--so quickly she was never sure she saw it there.

Then he seemed to shake it off and tried to smile,"Can't leave yet Gin." he turned to walk back but she grabbed him and steered him round, "Oh yes we can Harry."

His drunkenness was back, the brief, angry clarity gone, "But this is a very special night you see."He informed her even as she managed to lead him out the doors and into the parking lot, "It's have-a-go with famous Harry Potter night!" his voice had turned bitter again--she wasn't sure if he even knew where he was. She stopped and let him stumble about, gesturing angrily in the moonlight, "He's drunk and lonely and fancies a shag! Come on ladies, get a piece of the action! S'all I'm good for now anyways. One night's fuck and a bit of the fame!"

Ginny nearly slapped him, "Harry! Don't you DARE talk about yourself that way!"

He seemed to see her again and remember she was there. She had him by the shoulders and felt them slump as his expression turned very sad, "Ginny...are you taking me home tonight?"

There was the most torturous vulnerability in his voice and it ate away at her cruelly as he stepped closer and his voice pitched low, "Ginny...you've changed your hair...and you always always wear those same earrings...ever since third year. You were always there...standing off to the side even in the end, when I fought him alone, you were there. You've always been there. You thought I didn't notice. But I did..."

He had leaned down close to her face, his words freezing her where she stood. It was only his breath, heavy with alcohol that broke the moment. She blinked very hard to look away from his eyes. They were locked onto her own with fierce wanting and something desperate that made her want to give it to him....but she shook it off and propelled him towards the street, "Come on Harry, I'm taking you home."

He let her lead him and she headed to her place, it was closest. She didn't dare suggest they apparate. He was quiet for a few moments, then said softly, "Hermione did send you, didn't she?"

Ginny smiled, "No. She told me where you would be and what you would be doing and left it up to my conscience. Much more effective than actually asking me don't you think?"

Harry let out a bark of laughter, "Sounds about right."

He settled in shoulder to shoulder with her. She wondered if he realized he was walking arm pressed to arm--or if he needed the contact to walk properly...

"They worry about me--Ron and Hermione do. I know it. Sorry they sucked you in too. They have a real 'save Harry' crusade going..."

Ginny smiled, "You only ever needed saving from yourself Harry."

He saw the funny side of that and laughed, "S'pose I did. Hasn't been easy lately, I mean it has been easy but that's what's been hard..." he laughed, "Never mind, that's never going to come out right."

He frowned in concentration, then spoke quietly, "I've never been very good at just being normal I guess...and now it's harder than ever."

Ginny felt a swell of pity for him. She thought back over his life and realized he had never known anything normal--not even briefly. He had nothing to ground him.

She smiled instead and pointed out,"Getting drunk at the local pub seems pretty normal to me."

He nodded in agreement but his mood had shifted. She took his arm, "Harry, you're an ordinary person who has accomplished extraordinary things. But they are just things, in the end. You're still just a regular person underneath all that."

He seemed to consider this and regarded her thoughtfully.

"Doesn't feel that way though." he said after a moment, "Wish I could get rid of this bloody scar! I've tried everything! EVERYTHING! Damned thing won't budge!"

He was gesturing drunkenly again and Ginny realized he probably wouldn't remember a word either of them had said the next day. She smiled to herself and shook her head. Drunk Harry Potter walking home with her. Not the reunion she had expected with him in London. She had, truth be told, been avoiding seeing him again. She didn't trust her reaction. When the promotion had been offered to her she had been horrified that her first thought had been Harry. She hadn't seen him in years. Had owled him infrequently and dated other, handsome, winsome, entirely adequate wizards...and yet...hadn't she felt her heart leap to her throat every time Hedwig had shown up? No matter what she told herself, it was always there, and it terrified her. Because Harry could never really return those feelings. He had never looked at her that way. There was no history of wanting for him.

She watched him stumble as he babbled on about the various hilarious and dangerous ways he had tried to rid himself of 'the scar'. What was it about him? She didn't think she could ever put it down in words.

They turned up her street and he seemed to take notice of his surroundings,

"Pretty little patch this--isn't it? Look at the trees!"

She nodded in agreement, it was what she liked best about it, "Very pretty."

They turned up her driveway and it was as they got to the door that he realized it was her flat.

"You're taking me to your place?" he said a bit blankly.

She looked at him as though he were a bit daft, though it was feigned and a little humourous, "Yes, for coffee and a chat, remember?" she spoke it slowly as though he were a child.

He frowned, then gave her a wicked smile, "Ginny Weasley, are you trying to take me home for the night?"

She rolled her eyes.

"I know I'm hard to resist, all drunk and dashing!" his slurring of the word dashing made her laugh.

He stumbled into the entrance-way and took an appreciative look around, "S'lovely. You did a beautiful job with it." he smiled.

She walked into the open kitchen to start coffee and watched him shrug off his coat and toss it on a hook as though he'd been to her place a thousand times before. She felt an odd lump in her throat. This was a mistake. Letting Harry into her flat. Letting him bumble around her things

and sit on her couch. He was creating a hundred memories she would never be able to banish. A hundred feelings of rightness in her corners and cushions that no amount of handsome, winsome, entirely adequate wizards would ever match. Dammit all!

Harry picked up her photos, chuckling and reminiscing. He fished through her books and admired her taste and fiddled with her nick-nacks and finally made his way into the kitchen when she wasn't looking. He had crept up behind her before she realized and slipped very warm arms about her until he was pressed against her back, his breath warm at her neck as he murmured, "Ginny, take pity on a lonely bloke, won't you?"

She shrugged out of his hold, her heart beating wildly--but she ignored it! She tried instead to look humorous as she scolded, "Harry! Stop trying to get in my pants just because you're drunk!"

He gave her a very cheeky grin and laughed, "Have a heart Gin!" he put on his best pout, "Lonely and did I mention available? Come on...didn't you fancy me a hundred years ago at Hogwarts? I seem to remember you did..." his face broke into a broad smile as he remembered, "Was it really you that sent me that Valentine?"

She pulled a face, "Yes, yes it was actually."

He laughed heartily as she passed him a coffee and lead him to the couch in the living room. He took a long drink and turned very serious all of a sudden, "Can I ask you something?"

She nodded.

"When you did fancy me--was it because you liked me or because of who I was?"

She would never forget the look in his eyes at that moment.

"Honestly, the first time, it was because of who you were. I didn't know you at all. I just thought you were cute. I thought it was so cool that you were friends with Ron. I remember thinking I was the luckiest girl in the entire world."

Harry's sad face at her words smiled at the end of it, but, "Ah." he said.

She felt so terrible over the look in his eyes, that defeated sadness spilling over, the way she was sure she caught his soul sinking into itself, that she added something she had never planned to tell him. Something she was sure he wouldn't remember since he was drunk.

"That was just the first time though. The second time was different."

He looked up in surprise, "The second time?"

She smiled sheepishly, "It was a bit later in school."

"You fancied me again? I never knew!"

"I didn't want you to know! It was so embarrassing!"

"Why was it embarrassing?"

She chuckled at his thick-headed curiosity. Leaning closer she said, "The point is, the second time was just you."

He stopped short at that and simply stared at her. He looked dumbstruck. He was quiet for so long she grew uncomfortable.

"Drink your coffee." she said softly, "You'll feel better."

He drank most of it, staring into the cup. She could practically see the gears in his head turning.

"What's 'just me' Ginny?" he finally asked. And she knew he really wanted an answer.

"Lots of little things." she said gently, "The same as with anyone. It's the details. How you love lemon sherbert but absolutely detest orange! How you hate tucking your shirt in. How you carry one of Hedwig's feathers every time you play Quidditch for luck. That obsession you had for a while with collecting a bristle from every kind of broom there ever was!"

He was watching her with great amusement.

"How you always take exactly twenty-two minutes in the shower--do you plan that?"

"You timed that?"

"I think the most 'just you' type thing I can think of--that's the least like your 'famous Harry Potter' alter-ego is how absolutely bad tempered you get when you misplace something. Even if you've only misplaced it for a moment you get viciously angry and it takes you nearly an hour to calm down."

He chuckled, "Worst is my glasses. Put them down, can't find them and can't see to find them either!"

He raised his eyebrows, "How did you know about Hedwig's feather for luck?"

"Constant vigilance!" she joked, "What's a girl who fancies a bloke to do? I paid attention, that's all."

They sat smiling for a moment.

"Thanks." he finally said.

He drank the last of his coffee and stared into the empty cup for a long while. Ginny watched him, feeling as though the cat were out of the bag. Praying he wouldn't remember anything she'd said.

Finally he grew pale and looked a little ill, "Ohhh," he moaned, dropping the cup and leaning forward, "I am not feeling well..."

Ginny scooted closer and summoned up some wandless magic she'd learned in her training to be a Healer.

"Here..." she said and tilted his chin up so she could cradle his face with her hands. She sent the soothing magic into his skin, steadying the balance in his ears so that his nausea faded. She watched him smile in relief and shut his eyes. Then his expression changed and he stilled, his eyes still closed.

She froze, her hands still against his cheeks. The look on his face was one of such pleasure and such longing she found she couldn't move. Instead, her mutinous hands slid into his hair and she watched him tense, looking utterly blissful. She realized then, as she never had before, how little physical contact Harry ever had with anyone.

No parents with comforting touches. No family with affectionate play fighting. No serious girlfriends to rub his head when he was drunk and ill.

"Oh Harry..." she muttered without realizing. She kept running her fingers slowly through his hair and he held absolutely still. She felt the goose bumps at his neck though and couldn't help but be surprised. Had she really brought about that reaction? She shook it off. No. He was drunk and feeling ill and vulnerable. That was all. It wasn't her.

She pulled off his glasses and laid them aside and he kept his eyes shut, waiting patiently for her touch to resume. And when it did he caught her hands and pulled her closer, so that she lost her balance and said, "Harry..." In feeble warning.

"Ginny," he murmured, his eyes slowly opening and locking onto her own in a dizzying intensity, He dropped her hands and reached his own to her face, "You really see me...I think you're the only one who does."

Ginny felt the familiar battle at that moment. Friendship....lust. They fought for control. She looked into his eyes, read how drunk he still was and found herself making excuses.

He'll never remember this. He won't ever know it happened...

His hands slid into her hair and her stomach dropped. Her blood was roaring in her ears and her eyes shut tight. He saw how tempted she was, she knew he did without looking, and he leaned in close, his mouth a breath away. She felt his lips just brushing hers, like a gentle question.

She shouldn't. She knew she shouldn't. He was drunk, and lonely and vulnerable and she'd be taking advantage. She'd be fulfilling wishes she knew she shouldn't have had. But she'd had them all the same.

And now, at this moment, lust sprang up along her spine and arched into her. And she knew he felt it too.

"This is a mistake," she mumbled and felt him smile, he was that close.

"Oh no it isn't," he replied and there was humor in his voice and something else. Something she dared not name.

He pulled her into a kiss then and she was lost. Her hands wound about his neck and into his hair again of their own accord and pulled him tight and she felt his arms around her back urging her closer so that she wrapped her legs around his hips and let him pull her into his lap. He made an indecipherable sound--a very satisfying one and she felt his tongue slide in to meet hers. The blood was pounding in her ears now. Her every fantasy burned away by the reality. She tasted the coffee and the alcohol and felt the sensation of it, she'd been kissed before but never like this. Because it was Harry. Even drunk he was tender and took his time about it.

And her every second thought, her last, desperate bit of control was gone. She was kissing the daylights out of him, eating up the sensations as though she were mad. She kissed him the way she'd always wanted to, barely letting him up for air and feeling the electricity build in her stomach until she was nearly shaking.

Harry's hands were at her shirt and she reached for his. He pulled away a moment, looking dazed and excited. He gave a kind of half-gasp half-laugh of appreciation, "You can kiss!"

She smiled and tugged his shirt over his head, then slipped her arms around him to pull him close again. He laughed then, "Wait, let me get yours..."

He tugged her shirt off and reached for her bra, unclasping it and letting her shrug it off and toss it aside. Then she let him pull her close so they pressed together. They both froze and Harry pulled his head back just enough to look into her eyes in awe. His hands traced gently up her back. He felt it too. The lump returned to her throat. Just then, for whatever reason--she pushed the reasons aside--he felt it too.

His head dipped to her shoulder and kissed her neck as though he were savoring, as though it were too lovely to do anything else--and it was. He let out a low groan, "You feel..."

He never finished and he didn't need to. Ginny's mouth found his again and reminded them both how much better it was than talking.

They kept on, learning what pleased the other. Ginny found Harry delightfully easy to please. She caught his tongue in her mouth and sucked gently on it and felt him stiffen and let out a low, growly sound that had her smiling.

He was tilting her back onto the couch so he could press between her legs and then fiddle with the buckle of her jeans. He rolled to the side as she wrenched at his too and pretty soon they were wriggling out of their pants, kicking them away and tangling their bare legs together as they kissed and touched and pressed. It was bliss.

Ginny felt him tentatively slide his fingers under her knickers, tugging them down and felt a thrill run through her. He slipped them off and she kicked them away. She felt his hand run up her thigh, around her bum and then under... And she let him. She lay back and let him do whatever he wanted, enjoying every second of it. His fingers made a soft exploration, testing and teasing before settling into a heady rhythm that had her thoughts leaving her. The room was spinning and shrinking in. She couldn't remember how Harry had ended up in her flat and she didn't care. All she cared about was how it felt. Harry touching her. She ran her hands up under his boxers and returned the favor, hearing his breath catch and watching his face pinch with lust so that delight welled up and bubbled over inside her.

"Don't think I've ever been this turned on," he breathed and she felt a very dark satisfaction. She tugged off his boxers then and stroked him some more, hearing him make some decidedly incredible moans before tugging him over on top of her. He was in a daze, she could tell, as though he were hypnotized. He rolled over and she wrapped her legs around him, aching and needing him like no one else. But had there ever been anyone else but Harry? He pressed into her then, and she was so ready. He slid in easily and...stopped.

Her eyes opened slowly. His own were shut tight, his face screwed up in concentration.


He opened his eyes and his face turned humorous, "I'm a drunk mess Gin...and...and I want this to last...just give me a minute will you?"

She smiled wickedly and used her legs to pull him closer, squeezing around him so that he made a choked sound, "Harry Potter," she admonished, drawing him very slowly in and out as his eyes

glazed over, "Do you really think I care how long this lasts? Just enjoy it..."

She saw him trying to resist but he couldn't. She pulled him hard so that he thrust in as far as he could and with an appreciative moan he gave in, leaning into her shoulder, pushing up her legs and losing himself to the moment.

But even lost in the moment it was her name he whispered and moaned. Her name she heard in her ear and it turned the tender, fearful feelings she'd hidden for years into a fierce, happy fire that burned her to her fingertips. The see-saw of friendship and lust tipped completely to the left and she never looked back. The feel of him, the pleasure of his thrusting. She felt it building but knew he really wasn't going to last much longer. It didn't matter. It was probably better that way. If she came apart in his arms she might never get back together again. She felt him go over the edge and it was enough. It was everything. Forget about tomorrow, she thought, forget about everything, there's only this.

That hoarse sound of surrender he had made was hers to keep, and savor and remember forever. He collapsed on her, his face in her shoulder, breathing heavy.

He was a long moment lingering there as she ran her hands over his bare back, tracing absent patterns. She felt

Finally he raised his head looking satisfied and a bit sheepish, "That was..." he was still struggling for breath, "Brilliant," he smiled wryly, "Probably not for you though..."

She smiled and went to speak when his hand snaked back between her legs and he began to slowly kiss his way down her body. She went still with shock. He wasn't...he wouldn't... But indeed he kissed down between her legs and began lapping her with his tongue and her body arched up without her. Her pleasure returned to pick up somewhere near where it had left off and she found her hands curled into fists as she slid closer. She never could recall the sounds she made later--though she could tell by the satisfied look on Harry's face afterward that he had enjoyed them.

She let him take her all the way, until she came apart and knew with certainty that she would never get herself back together that way she had been. Because for that one, blinding, mindless moment she had let herself love him--it had happened without her. And though she extinguished it as the pleasure ebbed away, it had changed her forever.

She felt him climb back up looking very pleased with himself, "Better?" he teased and she smiled, feeling slow and satisfied.

She gathered him up in her arms and tucked his head under her chin without thinking. He settled in very comfortably though, she knew he was sleepy. She ran her fingers through his hair and he made contented sounds that vibrated through her ribs making her smile and giggle. Harry, naked and spent in her arms. Harry, vulnerable and beautiful and all hers, just for tonight.

She planned to let him fall asleep and leave him on the couch for the rest of the night. She knew that was what she should do, to protect herself. He wouldn't remember. He would wake up late tomorrow with a terrible hangover and she would never tell him.

But he didn't fall asleep. She expected him too, but instead he stroked her back in funny little patterns. Instead the stroking turned to hours of caressing and exploring as they found what the other liked. As they quietly appreciated each other. And when her touches stirred him again she reached for him--knowing it was reckless and fatal. They kissed again and though he was still drunk, he was not nearly so drunk as before. But...

He pulled her into his lap and sat up and took one of her breasts in his mouth as he thrust up into her and she lost herself all over again. This was it. This was the ultimate. His voice murmuring her name incoherently. Knowing they were both released somehow, from the awkward confines reality tied them to. They were free to enjoy each other--knowing it would be forgotten...

This time was rougher and more urgent than the first. They pushed at each other and hurried, both wanting the end to come sharp and fierce. And it did. And the wave of love that came this time made Ginny quake with fear.

She held Harry against her heart until her own slowed down. She lay him back on the couch as he began to drift off and managed to get him back into his boxers and t-shirt. Then she gathered up the rest of his clothes and folded them up, pulled a blanket over him and knelt down by his head.

She kissed him gently as he slept, "G'night Harry," she heard her voice whisper sadly.

Slowly, she gathered up her own discarded clothes and headed for her bedroom. She turned back and took one last, long look at him, sleeping on her couch. She felt the terrible burning in her heart and let it ebb, pulling it gently back into itself and telling herself to let it go. It had been a stolen ecstasy, it was not hers to hold.

Tomorrow she would pretend nothing had happened. She only prayed he wouldn't remember.