Harry knew there were things they weren't telling him.
Most of the time he himself was surprised to find that he didn't mind all that much. He knew it was impossible for them to tell him every detail of every moment for the last seven years, and to expect that of them was very unfair. They were telling him things as he went along; when a new memory flashed through his inner eye, if he needed something clarified or explained because he couldn't wait for the rest of his memories to come back and explain it all by themselves, everyone was more than happy to provide those answers for him.
Of course, most of the answers came from Hermione and Ron.
But still, at times he couldn't help but feel frustrated and impatient and, to his shame, jealous of everyone else and their memories, completely intact, that they seem to take for granted.
More than once Ron shared what was obviously an inside joke with him; he'd laugh and look to Harry to share the moment, only to sober at once when he realized Harry had no idea what he was talking about.
"You know they're not disappointed in you,' Lupin said to him one day, after he'd witnessed such an event. 'They're just disappointed."
"I know,' he said automatically.
Lupin didn't seem to mind Harry's stoic response. Harry figured, if he knew him as well as everyone said he did, Lupin had probably received this reaction many times and was used to it by now; enough to simply brush it off at any rate.
Harry wished he could remember how someone could come to tolerate him so much. He wished he could remember when he'd become so sarcastic and cynical.
He liked Lupin, he'd decided, although he doesn't even remember meeting him yet. Hermione told him Lupin was one of his favorite teachers. Ginny said that's because he was the only Defense teachers who hasn't tried to kill him.
"You're already catching up,' he said when they were out in the garden, and firing spells at gnomes when they tried to steal clothing from the line. 'You couldn't remember Hermione yesterday, and today you seem a lot more at ease around her."
"I can't believe how different she is now,' Harry said, feeling he could trust Lupin with these things. 'And yet she's not at the same time. It's weird. A few days ago all I could remember was this bossy so-and-so, but she's done so much for me and Ron. That whole thing, with the Philosophers Stone? Utter madness."
Lupin chuckled. "Oh you have no idea. To be quite honest, neither do I – but maybe that's a good thing."
"How'd you know I remembered her?'
Lupin raised his eyebrows and took another sip of his beer.
"Don't tell me I'm under observation."
"Always. But only because we love you.
Although he barely knew Lupin and although the idea of being watched was annoying and slightly claustrophobic, he felt strangely reassured by this. Harry took the feeling as progress.
Ginny had expected that Harry would be different around her, but the experience was still very, very hard to go through.
Whenever they were all sitting in the living room after dinner, even if the only spot available was next to her, he would choose to sit next to Ron (or Hermione, now he remembered her properly), even if that meant sitting on the floor. Whenever they bumped into each other in the halls, Harry would always smile and blush and apologize, but that was it, and off he went looking for Ron again.
He wasn't making a conscious decision to me rude, that was just the habits he remembered and therefore instinctively carried out, and Ginny didn't resent anyone for it… but it still stung. Luckily Harry never saw her reaction, but Hermione always did, and she always came to Ginny's room that night before going to bed with Ron to give her a hug, and every night she told her the same thing.
"Not long now."
As hard as it was though, to have him in the house, but not really have him back properly, she had been preparing herself for it, and it all paled in comparison to the fact that he was alive.
She remembered what it felt like to sit beside his body in that tent at Hogwarts, wishing and hoping to God, Satan, Merlin or anyone who could help that it all wasn't really happening. It had felt like a kick in the guts. Her entire face tingled from her tears trying to burst out, despite her determination not to let them. She'd felt cold and numb; like the only thing holding her in place was his cold, lifeless hand in hers.
She'd let him go for only a moment, to cover her face so she could cry without him seeing, and then Lily had rushed in, and started laughing, and Ginny had been so angry it'd had taken her a moment to notice Harry was even missing.
It was then the waiting had started. Waiting to hear what the hell had happened, waiting for a plan to take place, waiting for Harry to make his way back, and now waiting for him to remember his own life.
And to remember her and how she fit into it.
"I feel so selfish,' she admitted to Hermione one day as they were doing the dishes. 'This frustrating, awful thing is happening to him and all I can do is think about how it affects me! I'm the worst girlfriend ever."
"You're being too hard on yourself,' Hermione soothed, handing her the next wet plate to dry. 'You think I didn't hate it when he wouldn't talk to me either? It was terrible."
"Yours only lasted a few days though. I have to wait for him to catch up on the next six years."
"He'll get there."
"I know, I know,' Ginny sighed and looked out the window at the four specks flying in the distance that's represented Fred, George, Ron and Harry. 'It just sucks."
There was a sudden 'pop' behind them, causing both girls to jump.
"Luna!' Hermione breathed. 'Good grief, you scared the life out of us!"
"I'm glad to see it went back in without difficulty.' Luna smiled, wandered over and took the dishrag from Ginny. 'I gathered from the fact that Harry is in the field that he was out of the house, so I could come over."
"Harry doesn't have to be out of the house for you to come over,' Ginny said, letting Luna take over her job without complaint. She hated dishes.
"I thought we were all supposed to stay away."
"No, only Lily." Hermione said regretfully.
Luna nodded. "Oh, I see. That's unfortunate. I suppose I don't need to tell you about those photographers then."
Both Hermione and Ginny's head snapped up.
"Photographers?' Ginny sighed deeply. "For the love of Merlin. I thought they'd all given up."
Luna shrugged. "Everyone wants to be the one to take the first picture of Harry, I guess. You can't blame them, after the story the Order told everyone about him."
"They can't see anything,' Hermione reassured Ginny. 'I put those wards up myself. They can stare Harry right in the face and not even realize."
"It's still bloody annoying,' Ginny said coolly, looking out the window.
Harry, Ron, Fred and George were all hovering high up in the air, passing Charlie's beaten up old Quaffle between them, chatting about who knows what. Ginny's mouth upturned slightly; she was happy to see him so happy. He'd lost a lot of his spark toward the end, but here and now when he couldn't remember any of that he looked lighter and freer, and Ginny was glad that even though it was a lie and it wouldn't last forever, he was getting these few weeks of blissful ignorance.
"From the Daily Prophet, I presume. Dad hasn't sent anyone over, as he, like I, was under the impression that your house was off limits for the next month or so. Clearly they didn't get the memo?"
Ginny watched as Harry waved at the others and flew down. He stopped a few feet from the ground, swung his leg over the broom and leapt the rest of the way; his broomstick fell out of the sky and landed obediently in his hand. Ginny smiled.
A moment later Harry walked into the house, leaving his broom propped up against the door frame. He stopped as he spotted Luna.
Luna waved. "Hello, Harry. Nice to see you again."
"Yeah, uh… you too."
"Had enough of getting your arse kicked?' Ginny teased.
Harry looked around at her, and Ginny tried not to flinch. She hated how her reactions to his gaze were so physical.
"I just came in to get a drink,' he smiled.
"Not because of the photographers then?" asked Luna.
Hermione stiffened and Ginny only just control herself by not hitting herself in the forehead with her palm.
Harry looked confused. "What photographers?'
"The Daily Prophet has been hanging around for the past few weeks trying to catch a glimpse of you,' said Luna. 'Because you defeated the Dark Lord again you're a hot topic, you see. Not that you weren't always, mind you – I hear you were in the running for Witch Weekly's Charming Smile award last month, but many people protested because there aren't many photos of you smiling. Makes sense, I guess. It'd be a bit bizarre to see posters of the Chosen One grinning instead of that sturdy, determined look on your face."
Harry continued to look at her in confusion, and then Ginny realized it was partly because of everything she'd just said, but mostly because he didn't have the faintest idea who she was.
Hermione clearly had the same thought, because she said quickly, 'Harry, this is Luna. She's a friend of ours. She lives just over the hill."
Luna smiled and waved at him again.
"So how does she know about photographers around the house and I don't?'
"We thought it would only upset you."
"Oh really?' Harry snapped at Hermione. 'Well guess what, I'm upset anyway!"
Ginny put her hand up. "I was on your side. I told them to tell you, but oh no…"
"Ginny, please,' Hermione frowned.
Harry chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, staring at all three girls before declaring, 'I'm going to go out and talk to them."
"Harry, no!' Hermione reached out and grabbed his arm as he made for the door.
"Why not? All they want is some pictures, right?'
"Right now they don't even know for sure that you're here, they're only guessing."
"I can't keep doing that to everyone,' Harry looked around at Ginny, looking guilty. 'What this must be putting your parents through…"
"They're dealing with it,' Ginny reasoned. 'We've been dealing with it for years, Harry. This isn't a new development."
She had hoped this would make the situation seem less dire, but judging from the look on his face it backfired.
"Stop that, I know what you're thinking,' Hermione said sternly. 'None of this is your fault. This is why we didn't tell you. We just wanted you to relax."
Harry clenched his jaw and stared Hermione down, but she kept his gaze, too used to that look to be affected by it anymore, and eventually Harry seemed to realize this and sighed.
"But maybe if I just talk to them…"
"Right now they're only guessing you're here. If they know you're here for sure then this place will be crawling with press and photographers not just from the Daily Prophet, but from all over the world!' Hermione reasoned. 'You don't understand just how much of a big deal you are right now."
"I get it,' he said. 'Third time I've faced Voldemort and survived, yadda yadda yadda… like Luna said, hot news."
"I can't stop you,' Hermione said, letting him go, 'it's your decision. And I'm not entirely against you doing it really… I just think you should wait. At least until your memories come back. They're going to ask you questions about things you don't remember, and the last thing you want is them thinking something's wrong with you."
"Something is wrong with me. I have amnesia."
Hermione pursed her lips and looked up at him pleadingly.
Harry looked at Ginny again. She nodded encouragingly.
Harry ran a hand through his hair. "I'll be outside with Ron. Nice to meet you, Luna."
Ginny watched him all the way out the door, into the paddock and up into the air. She turned back to see Hermione watching him too, and Luna drying this dishes again.
"I'm not going to say 'I told you so', but…"
"Good', snapped Hermione, giving Ginny a look.
Ginny smiled and went to the fridge. 'You have to tell him everything that's going on. He's going to find out anyway, and it'll be worse when he finds out you've been keeping it from him, let alone for so many weeks."
"I'm just trying to let him relax for a little bit,' Hermione sighed. 'I'm sorry if that makes me a bad friend."
"You're not a bad friend,' said Luna.
Hermione looked at her in mild surprise – which, Ginny mused, was how she normally looked at her.
"Well thank you, Luna. That's… very nice of you to say."
Ginny caught Hermione's eye, and nodded in the same way she had at Harry. Hermione smiled briefly, before turning back to Luna.
"Ginny is a bad friend though, just standing there letting you do her chores. Luna, give her that towel. You can help me decide what to have for dinner."
Harry was on his way to have a shower when he saw them.
He had just come down the hall from Charlie's old room, a towel strewn over his shoulder, when he'd passed by Ron's room. He looked in as he went past – just as he always did, completely out of a habit he didn't really remember having – and expected to see Ron sitting on his bed, playing chess against himself because no-one was good enough of a challenge for him.
The door was only slightly ajar, and Harry could only just see into the room. Ron was sitting there, but what made this different was Hermione was sitting with him with her arm looped through his.
And the sword of Godric Gryffindor was lying across his lap.
Harry wasn't sure which part of this scenario was more bizarre. Where had Ron gotten the sword? Didn't Dumbledore have it in his office back at Hogwarts? Had Ron stolen it? If so, why? Such a thing was so out of character; as was Hermione's physical affection, as well as Ron's willingness to accept it.
Harry ducked out of sight and peered through the gap in the door. The voice in the back of his head was yelling at him, reminding him of his manners. This was rude. He could see he was interrupting an intimate moment. But he'd never seen Ron and Hermione like this. And why did Ron look so upset?
"I hate this thing,' Ron muttered.
"No you don't."
"Every time I look at it all I can picture is…' Ron trailed off, swallowing hard.
Hermione rubbed his shoulder. "He was evil. He… he deserved it."
Ron looked around at her, surprised. "I've never heard you say that before."
"Look at what he's done to us; to Harry. He's ruined so many people's lives. You did the right thing."
Harry frowned. Who were they talking about? What had Ron done? Harry looked at the blade, as shiny and gleaming as ever. Had Ron killed someone?
Ron looked at Hermione for a long moment, and then leant in and kissed her. Harry didn't feel surprise while watching, more accomplishment. He'd known things had been different between them, he just didn't know why they had been hiding it.
Hermione stroked his hair and put a hand over Ron's; the hand clutching the hilt of the sword. "If you want to give it back to him, you can."
"He gave it to me, it's mine."
Harry left when they started kissing again. Dumbledore had given Ron the sword? Why did he keep it if he didn't want it anymore?
Questions continued to run through Harry's head even as he got out of the shower and got dressed. He figured his only solution was to outright ask Ron what was going on. That's what adults did, right? He was an adult now. But it didn't really seem like a topic Ron wanted to talk about…
Harry grunted as he walked into a slim figure. He straightened himself up and smiled awkwardly. "Sorry, Ginny."
She sighed. "Such a big house, yet we keep running into each other – literally."
Harry tried not to stare at her bare legs. She was wearing very short shorts. His chest grumbled as he tore his eyes away, forcing them to stare at her face. But her face was only a few short inches above her neck and clavicle, which were easy to see in the sleeveless shirt she was wearing, and his chest conceded that this was a good compromise.
And that was all he could say.
Ginny's face flushed and she cleared her throat. "Well if you'll excuse me, there's a large pitcher of lemonade downstairs with my name on it.'
Harry nodded as she slipped passed him. He noticed the smell of something floral.
"You wanna come?'
Harry looked around to see she'd stopped just at the top of the stairs. She was watching him expectantly, maybe even a bit hopefully.
His feet were moving him forward before he even began to really think about it.
Three days later, Harry found Ron in the living room with his father, discussing what looked like a laptop that had been dropped in the mud and left outside to dry.
Ron looked up. "Please tell me you have something you need me to help you with."
Mr. Weasley hit him playfully up the back of the head. "You said you were interested!"
"Yeah – half an hour ago! You don't even know what it does!"
"I bet Harry knows."
Harry bit his lip and looked meaningfully at Ron. The last thing he wanted was to explain what a computer was, let alone how it worked, and judging from the way Mr. Weasley cleared his throat, he sensed this.
Mr. Weasley got to his feet. "I'll just be in the shed."
Harry watched him go, feeling his skin crawl.
Ron waited until his father left to get to his feet and cross the room. "You all right?"
He hadn't planned on actually talking about it, but Ron was looking at him with such concern that he felt he owed him an explanation, if only to calm him slightly.
"I remembered Sirius."
"Yeah, you said that yesterday. We told you he was innocent."
"No, I remembered…" Harry swallowed his words and looked at the floor.
Ron's weight shifted from one foot to the other, and the tension in the air shifted as Ron caught on.
"Oh. I see."
Harry flinched and looked up as Ron squeezed his shoulder. He was still getting used to Ron being physically affectionate.
"You want to talk about it?"
"No,' Harry shrugged him off and shoved his hands in his pockets. 'It's just a bit ridiculous, you know? I knew he died. You told me this already. You've told me everything, it's not like it's a shock."
"Don't be daft, 'course it's a shock,' Ron said. 'He was your family, and us telling you at the time when you had no memory of him was just facts to you – something you knew would be coming. But now you remember – how it felt, how it went – and I bet its torture all over again."
Harry scowled. "It's going to be the same all over again when I remember how Dumbledore died, isn't it?"
Ron sniffed. "Probably. You know if I could…"
"Yeah,' Harry nodded. 'I know.'
He looked at Ron inquisitively. Was now the right time?
"When did he give you the sword?'
Ron's head snapped up so fast Harry thought he heard Ron's neck crack.
"How'd you mean?"
"I saw you with the sword of Gryffindor the other day.' Harry admitted softly. 'Sorry. I wasn't spying; I was just walking past your room."
"S'Okay.' Ron sat down on the arm of the couch and rested his hands on his knees. 'Actually you gave it to me. Dumbledore left it to you in his will, and you passed it on to me."
Harry raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips. "Well that was awful nice of me."
Ron laughed. "I know how to use it, is all."
"I killed a Basilisk with it."
"Well I killed…"
Ron shut his mouth with a snap.
Harry didn't know if he was prepared for the answer.
Ron ran a hand through his hair and sighed, looking torn. He could see Harry waiting. "I told you I'd tell you everything… but you know I haven't, right?'
"I don't want to lie to you. If you ask me I'll tell you the truth… but do you want to ask me, or do you want to wait and find out yourself?'
Harry could see Ron didn't want to tell him. Whether it was because he didn't really want to talk about it, or because he didn't think he could explain it properly, Harry wasn't sure. But he was sure that he didn't want to make Ron feel more uncomfortable about it than he already was. Harry wanted to know more than anything, but not more than expense of his friend.
"Why didn't you tell me you and Hermione were together?'
Ron blinked, momentarily thrown. Then he laughed and rubbed the back of his neck.
"That was her idea. She said she didn't want to have things be "unnecessarily peculiar" for you when you got back. I told her she was being daft, and that you'd think we were equally daft when you got your memories back."
"Just make sure you tell her you found out all on your own, yeah? She'll kill me if she thinks I caved and spilled my guts to you."
Harry smiled. "I'll think about it."
"Thank Merlin you found out though, I tell you,' Ron rolled his eyes and got to his feet, 'not being able to snog my girlfriend whenever I feel like it… which is all the damn time… is bloody murder – you cock-blocking bastard."
Harry laughed – a proper, right-from-the-guts laugh. So much had changed. So much had happened. His entire life was breaking through the barriers in his mind in just a few weeks and it all felt so raw and shocking and disorientating that it was sometimes hard to stay focused.
Ron especially. But it was a relief to know that despite what burdens he was carrying, Ron was still okay.
Maybe they were all going to be okay.
When he could remember Dumbledore's Army, Harry decided it was getting better.
He was remembering more and more every day. He felt more comfortable around everyone. It was easier to smile and laugh. He got jokes, he understood references, he could actually cast spells more advanced than some crummy little first year. He felt more like himself; more at ease in his own skin. He didn't feel like such a burden anymore; like one of those annoying house guests that just didn't know when to leave and so they hung around all day and ate all the food and watched all the television shows that no-one else liked but were too polite to say so.
Harry missed television, he mused as he set the table outside.
"D'you ever watch The Practice?'
Hermione looked up from the candles she was lighting. "Excuse me?"
"Yes, I've heard of it."
"What's so confusing about my question then?"
Hermione shook her head with a smile as she went back to her chore. "You just haven't talked about television with me in a long while, is all. What made you think of it?"
Harry shrugged as he lay down the cutlery. "Was just thinking we should go see a movie. That new movie Austin Powers looks all right."
"And the fact that it has Liz Hurley in a leather one piece has nothing to do with the appeal, I'm sure."
"And I'm sure I have no idea what you're on about. Come on, it'd be fun. Ron would like it… or get freaked out and hide behind his popcorn. Just the four of us."
Harry could feel Hermione's eyes burning into him as he began folding napkins.
"The four of us?"
"Yeah, you know, you and Ron being all attached at the hip and all… and me… and Ginny…"
"Why not the Twins?"
"They've gotta work, don't they?"
Harry looked up as Ron jogged over, a basket of rolls levitating behind him. He pretended not to notice Hermione trying to hide her smile.
"This is bloody ridiculous,' Ron snapped, setting the basket down not quite as gently as he should have. 'We're only having Bill and Fleur over for dinner and the woman's gone mental. Have you seen her? She's making Ginny clean under the oven – under the oven! Like there's going to be a line later on so people can wedge their faces under there and inspect it!"
Hermione grabbed his face in her hands. "I love you, but you need to calm down."
Hermione planted a soft kiss on Ron's lips and he visibly deflated somewhat. Harry smiled.
"Was she like this at Bill and Fleur's wedding?' he asked.
Ron laughed bitterly. "Worse. Hurry up and remember shit so I can rant at you properly. I hate that 'I've-been-cursed-by-an-evil-twat-and-now- I-don't-remember-anything' look you give me. It's really not even an excuse anymore, you know."
There was a small pause, and although he knew Ron was only joking, Harry could still feel that tiny twinge of awkwardness. It had always been there when they mentioned his lack of memories, and although it had decreased lately it was still present but it felt different somehow; in the past it had been awkward because they had felt bad talking about things Harry didn't yet understand, now it was like they were waiting for something, and Harry could only guess they were close to the point where he remembered why he had lost his memory in the first place – and it wasn't good.
Of course it's not good, he thought for the millionth time. You were in a war, you daft prat.
He half-listened as Hermione asked Ron about going to see a movie. He wanted to know more about the war. It felt strange being left out of one of the most important moments in his life, a moment everyone else had been present for. He wanted to ask them all for every single detail. He wanted to know about Draco Malfoy and what Ron had done with that Sword, and the Ministry, and many other questions, but he also didn't want to press anyone for the information. Every time he got close to talking about it with someone they would look on-edge and cautious and uncomfortable, and they'd all been so patient with him that Harry decided that he should try to be patient and considerate too, and just wait until the memories came back all on their own.
He was both excited and nervous about what would happen when they did.
Ron slung an arm around Hermione's shoulders, squeezed her and gave her a quick kiss on her temple. 'I'll let you young whipper snappers get back to it. I'm gonna go dress up the ghoul in the attic and see if he wants to pretend to be me for a day and do all my chores for me."
"Absolutely not! Ron, get back here!"
Ron waved over his shoulder as he ran back into the house.
Hermione huffed. "Honestly."
Harry made a show of adjusting the table cloth for a moment. "Can I ask you something?"
He felt more than saw Hermione stiffen, even from across the table. "Always."
Where did he start?
He didn't get the chance. He looked up at the sound of something banging open. He smiled as Ginny leant out of her window and took a deep breath.
"How's dusting going?' he called.
Ginny looked down and smiled in surprise. "Oh there you are! Why do you always get the good jobs?"
"Because I'm prettier."
"Maybe compared to a bullfrog."
Harry laughed and looked at Hermione to share the joke. She was laughing, but in that way Harry remembered in her response to the way Harry used to look at Cho.
"Hey,' Harry looked up just in time to see Ginny climb up onto the windowsill. 'Catch me?"
'Ginny, don't!' Hermione cried.
Harry had his wand out a split second before she jumped. 'Wingardium Leviosa!'
Ginny stopped inches from the ground, her legs and arms splayed out. She laughed and Harry called off his spell, letting her drop the final distance.
Hermione rushed over. "For goodness sake! What if Harry didn't have his wand on him?'
"Harry always has his wand on him,' Ginny let Hermione help her to her feet and smiled over at him. 'Don't you?'
Harry felt his cheeks burn as he shoved his wand back into his back pocket.
"Glad to see you still have the same reflexes,' Ginny said, dusting herself off.
"Can you imagine if your mother had seen you?'
"Well she didn't, did she?' Ginny patted Hermione on the head. 'So just relax! Here, let me do something, I'm sick of dusting."
Harry smiled as Ginny began lighting candles with her wand, determined not to think about how the firelight made her hair look.
When Harry awoke, he could feel someone watching him.
He sat bolt upright in bed, panting and sweating, feeling like he'd just survived a close encounter with a Blask-Ended Skrewt. He knew he'd had a nightmare, but he couldn't remember anything about it. The more he tried to remember the details, the easier they seemed to fade into a fog.
He wiped his brow, feeling sweat roll down his wrist. He sat up properly and rubbed his eyes, trying to control his trembling. His sheets were tangled up in his legs and he'd kicked the book he'd been reading earlier that evening to the floor.
He was rather used to waking up in a state such as this, but not usually without the memory of what had woken him.
And Harry would have simply rolled back over and tried to go back to sleep, except he couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched.
He reached out for his glasses on the bedside table. Putting them on did nothing but make fuzzy dimness a sharp dimness. He grabbed his wand and whispered, 'Lumos'. A beam of light shot from the end and he shone it all around the room, into the corners, over the window sill, around the chest of drawers that still held some of Charlie's old clothes, his trunk by the door, the stool beside his bed… but there was nothing. The door was shut, no-one would have had time to sneak out, and he was sure he would have heard someone apparate. He could smell something familiar, a perfume he knew but couldn't place, but was sure it was just one of Mrs. Weasley's collection lingering from when she had straightened things up earlier.
Harry extinguished the light, lay back down, and placed his glasses back on the table, but sleep didn't come straight away. He lay awake for a long time, clutching his wand the feeling of eyes watching him never leaving him, even as he did eventually drift off into sleep once more.
Ginny was reading her Transfiguration book when a Harry-esque shape appeared in her peripheral vision.
She looked up. He was standing in the doorway of her bedroom, looking almost coy. He was scratching away the white paint from the door with his fingernail.
"Can I help you with something?' she asked, going back to her book. 'Or are you just going to stand there and destroy my bedroom."
"I've been thinking,'
"Maybe I will get that Hungarian Horntail tattoo."
It took a moment for the meaning of these words to penetrate, but once they did they hit her like a runaway giant.
Ginny's head snapped up and she saw that he was smiling at her in that way.
And without a word, he entered the room and closed the door behind him.
The next evening, Ron only waited a moment after knocking on the door to Charlie's room before barging in while announcing, 'You and my sister better not be up to any tomfoolery in here!"
He'd only been half-joking. Ever since Harry and Ginny had gotten back together the night before, the Universe seemed to have decided that Ron was going to be the one to interrupt every intimate moment they seemed to have in every location in the house and garden. He was surprised they hadn't left the country yet. He was surprised he hadn't.
His relief that Harry was sitting on his bed alone in his room was fleeting when he saw the expression on Harry's face.
Ron didn't need to ask. He'd been expecting it all day.
He shut the door behind him and sat next to Harry without a word.
Harry didn't look up immediately. He was staring unfocused at the floor for a long moment. He finally blinked and clenched his jaw.
"Sorry,' he muttered.
Ron shrugged. 'S'all right."
"You think…' he paused, looking embarrassed to continue, but seem to realize it was Ron he was talking to, so he blurted, 'You think he'd be proud of me?'
"He was always proud of you.'
"Of us, rather.' Harry corrected himself, giving Ron a small smile. 'We did all this together."
Ron breathed in through his teeth. "Careful now, you're getting sentimental."
"One day with a girlfriend and you're ready to write romance novels."
Harry smirked and punched Ron in the arm. Ron laughed and rubbed the spot tenderly.
"I don't know how you helped,' Harry continued after a moment,
"Harry, don't – '
"No, belt it for a moment,' Harry insisted. 'I know you did something. I don't know what it was yet, but I know it was huge. And I'm going to remember, and when I do I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to repay you."
Ron shifted awkwardly. "After all the crap we've been through, I think we can call it even."
He could tell Harry wasn't convinced.
"But,' Ron added, 'if you wanna do my chores for the next five years, feel free."
Harry smiled and stared off into space again.
Ron ruffled his hair. "You wanna be alone?"
"Actually, think you could go get Ginny? And Hermione? At the risk of sounding mushy I wouldn't mind if we all just… sat for a bit."
"Want some of that Muggle beer Dad got?
"Copious amounts, please."
"If there's any left,' Ron muttered, heading for the door. 'Your girlfriend is an alcoholic, I hope you're aware."
Ron rubbed his chest after he left the room, feeling emotional, but unsure about what in particular.
Hermione was sitting in the Burrow living room, writing in her journal on Wednesday morning.
It was a ritual she had taken upon herself to develop for Harry. Every day she wrote down what had happened, how things had been for everyone will all the memories when some of his still alluded him, in hopes that when he finally did recall everything she could give it to him, and he could read it and catch up on everything that had been happening behind the scenes, things that they had not been able to tell him right away, because it would have just brought on more questions and incited a never ending stream of confusion.
She had felt awful keeping things from him, basic things that he had had every right to know – things that were, after all, all about him. But he'd agreed to the discretion, albeit reluctantly, choosing to agree with her and Ron that maybe it was best to just let things unfold naturally and let him discover things himself, if they too agreed not to flaunt major details in his face.
It had almost been like pulling teeth, getting him to agree. Harry always wanted to know everything right as it happened. Ron had eventually convinced him that trying to fill in seven years of history in one night was quite impossible, and that knowing him he'd probably fudge up a lot of the facts anyway.
So here Hermione was, writing in the events of the day before, when the subject of her thoughts came into the living room, heading straight for her.
She put down her pen and smiled. "Did you try brushing your hair? It looks scruffier than usual."
Hermione knew he had remembered something major when his expression didn't change.
"What is it?'
"Where is she?' Harry asked.
Hermione only needed a moment to realize who he was talking about. It took everything she had not to sigh with relief.
She took her wand from across her lap and held it out for him. "She's at home."
Harry strode forward after a moment to process this information and was gone with a resounding 'crack'.
Hermione was on her feet a split second later, suddenly full of energy. She wanted to shout out to someone, but everyone was out. She wanted to apparate but she'd given Harry her wand. Despite this lack of communication, Hermione couldn't suppress the laugh that seemed to rise right up from her chest.
She grabbed her diary, crossed out the two sentences she had already jotted and wrote:
Today you came back to us.
The first thing he eyes went to was his room; there was now a wall and a roof, closing it all in.
Everything was repaired. The windows had full panes of glass in them and were no longer cracked or broken. The front door was mended and painted a friendly deep green, no longer hanging on his hinges, half blown off. The roof was whole again, its brown tiles shining in the afternoon sunshine. The garden was filled with shrubs and flowers just beginning to bloom, the lawn was so well-trimmed it could rival uncle Vernon's.
It was like stepping back in time. It was as though nothing had ever happened.
Harry only hovered at the hedge for a moment. Four long strides, the gravel of the path crunching underfoot, and he was standing on the doorstep. His finger hovered over the doorbell as he wondered if he should ring. Would it be rude to simply just walk in like he owned the place?
You do own the place, stupid, he thought.
Harry gripped the door handle and hesitated a moment before turning it and pushing the door inward.
The hallway wasn't covered with dust and dirt and spider webs. As Harry stepped further into the house he looked through into the living room. There were comfortable couches, a new television, and a coffee table with an empty mug sitting in a ring of spilt milk. There were pictures hanging from the walls with pictures of vaguely familiar people waving at him. The window was open, letting in a soft breeze and the scent of warm, summer air.
Music suddenly caught his attention, and he remembered why he was there. Gripping Hermione's wand tightly, Harry moved up the half, passing some closed doors containing rooms he was dying to look at. But he followed the music and pushed the swinging door inward a bit to reveal the kitchen.
She was standing at the sink, washing dishes. The window was open in here too, and the breeze was making her hair dance softly around her face. She was wearing a pair of black shorts and a yellow t-shirt. There was a small cd player on the bench amongst the dishes an enchanted tea towel was drying, playing a song Harry recognized from Aunt Petunia's old record collection. She was singing the words softly, her shoulders moving along with the beat.
He didn't know how to announce himself. He didn't know how to do anything. He didn't want to ruin the moment with stupid words coming out of his stupid mouth, but he wanted her to look at him more than anything…
She turned suddenly, aiming for the fridge. But she stopped short when she spotted him.
Harry wasn't sure how long they stood like that; him peering through the doorway and her standing in the middle of the kitchen, soapy water dripping from her fingers, creating a puddle around her on the tiles.
Her eyes were wide and green, green like the front door, seemingly taking in as much of him as he was taking in as much of her.
Figuring it was bad manners to linger in a doorway, he stepped into the room fully and pocketed Hermione's wand. He looked around, as if hoping the right words would come to him. But looking around at the refurbished house, the freshly painted walls and the comfortable furniture and the smell of summer and something else he couldn't name but knew from somewhere, all he could say was…
Lily blinked out of her stupor and put her hands on her hips. "And what time do you call this?"
"I didn't do anything but the basics,'
Lily put her back against the closed door, as if trying to hide it from view.
Harry nodded. "That's fine."
"So don't be disappointed when you go in there."
"I lived in a cupboard for ten years, I'm sure I can deal with a few bare walls."
Lily pursed her lips, just like she always did when Harry brought up this little fact. But she didn't' remark this time; instead, she pushed the door open with her hip and stood aside.
Harry stepped inside and found that she wasn't lying – it really was the barest room in the whole house.
She'd taken him to every room, shown him every detail and talked him through almost every process she'd gone through to get the house ready.
No, ready for him, she'd put it.
"I realized we didn't really have any photos of the Weasleys, or Remus and Tonks, or anyone really, so I went a bit crazy taking pictures to hang." She'd explained, showing the photos on the walls. 'And I got this couch at a very reasonable price, a nice big three seater, because I know we need a shatload of seats for when all these friends of ours come over. And that coffee table is actually ours from way back; it was still here when I moved back in and I just had to restore it a li-… oh bollocks, darn coffee. James always made me use a coaster 'cause I would make such a bloody mess…"
She's shown him the new oven she'd bought, the table setting, the outdoor furniture for the patio, the sink fixtures in both the downstairs and upstairs bathrooms, the shower head and it's amazing water pressure, her bedroom and the new suite she'd purchased, the curtains in the guest bedroom, the carpets, the tiles, the hand railings for the staircase,… everything but his room. It was lucky last.
He could see why.
It was furnished with nothing but a queen sized bed and a desk under the large window. The walls were painted a light blue and the window was ajar in here too, letting the smell of freshly cut grass and sunshine fill the room. It was quite, and peaceful, and so much bigger now the trashed furniture had been removed and new carpet had been laid.
Lily squeezed in beside him. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her wringing her hands anxiously.
"I like what you've done with the wall,' he said, gesturing. 'There actually is one now."
"I didn't finish it on purpose,' she said softly. 'I thought you might like to do it yourself. Pick out your own things, you know? I know you've never really had your own room, so I just thought… well…"
Harry smiled down at her. He patted her on the shoulder, but then that didn't seem like enough contact, so he put his arms around her, but then that didn't seem like enough either, so he squeezed her and pressed the side of his head against the top of hers. She was hugging him back just as tightly, his arms wrapped around his middle, and she was hurting his ribs a little but he didn't care. The longer he held her the more memories seemed to come back.
He finally let her go and she smiled up at him. "I missed you."
"Wish I could say the same, but I only just remembered you this arvo."
Lily laughed, took his hand and led him over to the bed. He sat at the foot of it while she sat at the head, both of them leaning against the wall, their legs drawn up to their knees.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you during this,' she said softly. 'I'm sorry none of us were, but we agreed it would probably have been better for you to come back to us when you were ready, and…"
"It's okay,' he cut her off gently. 'I was mad about it at the time, but I get it now. Everything that's happened to me isn't really something you can explain… not properly anyway. I understand why you stayed away."
"You remember everything?"
"This morning I woke up and I remembered you on my doorstep at Privet Drive. And I had the same reaction I did the first time."
"You stunned someone and tied them to a bed?"
"Okay, maybe not exactly the same. It was like I was watching a movie. I closed myself and watched myself take you to Grimmauld Place, and then it went blank. I had to think about if I would have told anyone by now, because I remember at the time I'd resolved not to tell anyone. But I figured I would have at least told Ron and Hermione, so I asked her where you were. I remembered more things when I got here, and since I stepped in here they haven't really stopped."
Lily nodded. "The most recent things seemed to come back the quickest."
"Not quick enough,' Harry said bitterly.
"Where are you up to?
"We just broke the Pensieve out of the Museum.' Harry snorted. 'What were we thinking?"
"Excuse me, what were you thinking? All your plans are ridiculous, did you know that?"
"I remember you coming up with a few key points during that planning meeting. And I wasn't the one who tripped the Prime Minister, thank you very much."
Lily smiled and rubbed his knee.
Harry frowned at her. She was being so calm about all of this. But, then again, he mused she had had the most time to get used to all of this, not to mention she'd lived through it all herself.
"So…' he started tentatively, 'we won, then."
"Peace and harmony among the lands,' Lily nodded. 'All because of you and your berk ideas."
Harry pursed his lips. "I don't remember exactly what happened yet, but I did something dumb, didn't I?"
"You can apologize when you remember."
"Not sure I want to."
He knew she was staring at him, but he pretended not to notice. He tried to work out how he was feeling. The past two months had felt like an eternity of waiting; waiting for memories to come back, waiting to feel complete – just waiting. But sitting here now in his house, in his bedroom – two things he'd spent countless nights dreaming about and wishing for but never though he could ever actually have – the past two months felt like nothing but a blip.
He had lost so much and so many, come from nothing, and now had loving friends, a beautiful girlfriend, and now a house and his mother. Was all this because of everything he had sacrificed? Was he somehow being rewarded?
Harry looked around his room again and smiled.
"Where did you go just now?' Lily asked.
"Doesn't matter,' Harry shrugged. 'I'm home now."
A/N – Sorry it's so short, but I hope you all enjoy it anyway after such a long hiatus. I hope to get the next chapter out to you ASAP. We're almost done!