"Have their been any discoveries recently? Any memories recalled?"
St. Mungo's had set Hermione up for an appointment with a psychiatrist. They thought that with some careful prodding, Hermione's mind might be more able to recall memories from her past, and start remembering her present life.
"Not really. I knew how to make my mum's old chicken recipe, but I'd seen that a few times as a child, so it's not anything recent."
"That's not bad... still something. Often it can be difficult for someone with Retrograde Amnesia to be so clear on things from their past, even before the date they jump back to."
"Yes, I was reading a book the other day that said that it can make all memories unclear... there's one I have questions about, but I'm sure you couldn't confirm it for me."
"Is there someone who could?"
Harry's got his arm 'round my shoulders, but it isn't helping anything. Ron made his intentions and interests clear - he doesn't want me. Doesn't love me. Maybe never did...
"Yes, there is. I'm sure he'd laugh at me though, it wasn't the nicest moment in our history."
Ron's gone and snogged Lavender Brown... I suppose it could be to keep her from talking so much, she's got the most obnoxious voice!
Hermione supposed that there was a bit of truth, even then, to what she felt for Harry all these years later. Even when he knew how upset she was about Ron, he blew off everyone else - Ginny and his other friends included - to seek her out and make sure she was okay. And the strangest part was, she thought she could remember little golden birds...
"At this point Hermione, I don't think he'd laugh at you... he's your husband. And if he remembers, he can help you, too."
"How did you know I was talking about Harry?"
"Instinct. Even with your Amnesia, he's constantly your leaning post. Remember that - you married him for a reason."
"Yes, I did..."
The session ended moments later, and Hermione felt herself feeling more unsure than ever. She'd married Harry, even when all she could remember were such strong feelings for Ron. Something had happened in the mean time to make her change her mind, something Harry had done had won her over. She remembered the things he'd said, the stories she had heard from Harry and their friends. But when she thought of Ron in that moment, she felt a sinking feeling in her chest. He'd broken her heart more than once, then.
"Just calling to see how the appointment went... and making sure you've got a proper lunch." Harry called her every day as soon as her lunch began, always spoke to her for fifteen minutes or so, and then let her have her break. It was sweet, she wished she'd remembered more of these.
"It was... I don't know if it's going to do me any good, Harry. She wants to talk about what I do remember, from all those years ago, and I remember things but they're all fuzzy. And they're a fat lot of good now, I don't remember the past decade of my life and that's what I'm trying to do, after all, not chit-chat about Hogwarts days."
"She's a professional, Hermione. She probably knows what she's doing."
"Probably. But she's going about it in the worst way possible."
Harry chuckled, she could practically see him rolling his eyes through the phone. Hermione knew it was in her nature to be a little picky, that she remembered without a problem.
"So what did you talk about today?"
"I thought I saw birds. The night I fought with Ron."
"You would have. You charmed them yourself, shot them at his head. I've never seen you so mad, not even in third year when you hit Draco Malfoy right 'cross his chin."
"Oppugno? On Ron?"
"Didn't think you had it in you. You've proven pretty feisty over the years, Hermione..."
Harry excused himself to finish a report and let her finish her lunch. She spent the next half hour wondering how, if they were her birds, they'd been such poor quality. Really, she should have done a much better job, she'd been practicing for ages.
If there were one experience Hermione had to say was the strangest, following her accident, it would be watching Harry. Not speaking to him - even now, there was a deep comfort between them and she never felt odd - but just watching him do normal things like cooking, caring for their child, clipping his nails. Harry as an adult was fundamentally the same as Harry as a teenager - a little forgetful, a bit clumsy, always believed the best out of things, always caring and willing to help. When she'd dropped a hot pan in the kitchen the night previous, he'd simply cleaned it up, sat her down with a cup of tea, and heated up leftovers for them to eat that night. He cared for her deeply, and while she couldn't yet remember marrying him, or having a child with him, (or conceiving Sirius in the first place, since she'd never done that before and could only barely imagine doing that with Harry, just a bit), she knew that what happened in the last decade was, somehow, right. Completely so.
Harry was in the kitchen again, checking on a casserole in the oven that he'd thrown together. Hermione was watching him run his hand through his hair, look at the timer... and it dawned on her just how little he'd actually changed.
He'd grown up, sure - physically he had changed the most. She'd seen him dressing for work in the morning, and while she mostly looked away, she'd looked one morning while he had nothing on but boxer briefs, and she'd been pleased by what she saw. He was definitely a man now, in form and in other ways. But in demeanor, he was the same best friend she'd always had. And she thought, just maybe, that was what had made it work all along.
"I don't know if you'll like this, as it is. In school you used to hate peppers, bell peppers, wouldn't touch one. I think it's the only thing you were really afraid to even get near. You'd have fought Voldemort yourself if it had meant not eating one. After you got pregnant with Sirius though, you ate them like crazy. You'd eat one like an apple, bite and sliver at a time. And now after this pregnancy, you'll eat them with anything - peanut butter, ice cream, cheese."
"All of that sounds awful."
"Yeah, but this turned into your favorite dish I could make. I've got a limited list, it usually just includes heating up leftovers and this. Cheese, herbs, chicken, pasta, and peppers. We'll live off this one tray for four days, including lunches."
"Peppers are the devil."
"Hermione..." He turned to see her coy smile - she was teasing him, and she'd known it.
Once dinner was on the table, Harry prodded her more about her psychiatrist session. "Do you think you have a better understanding, now?"
"Of the birds, yes. And I remember why, of course. How did all of that go?"
Harry looked uncomfortable, but cleared his throat. If it might help her remember anything at all...
"Ron dated Lavender all through Christmas, and you went home to your parents for the holidays. When we all came back, he was already irritated with her, but refused to admit it. She was his first girlfriend, you know. Kept dating her all the way through March... meanwhile, Romilda Vane - not sure if you remember her, hope you don't - tried to sneak me a love potion in some chocolates. I didn't eat them, and they sat for three months."
"They were probably really potent by then..."
"Yeah, Ron found out the hard way. He thought they'd been a present for his birthday. They'd just fallen off my four-poster... ate half the box. He was shouting out that he was madly in love with Romilda and I had to rush him to Professor Slughorn and hope he'd be able to do something. Mixed up the antidote quickly, but gave him mead that had been poisoned..."
"What was Slughorn doing with poisioned mead?"
"Sort of a long story. Malfoy trying to kill Dumbledore. We'll save that one for later. Anyway, Ron started convulsing, and... you remember the book? From the half blood prince?"
"It had told me to use a bezoar for poisons. Luckily I remembered... saved his life that night. He ended up in the hospital wing, out cold. But he kept muttering things we couldn't understand. You barely left his bedside for sleep and classes, didn't eat for two days. Lavender comes storming in after she can't find him, shouting out about how she should have been told first, why didn't anyone get her, she was his girlfriend after all..."
Harry was gesturing wildly with his fork, and had to pick up a piece of pasta that he'd dropped. "But then she comes and tries to shove you out, but Ron starts saying your name in his sleep... Just says it two or three times. To this day, won't admit he was conscious for that, but I bet half our gold he was. Lavender left. You and Ron were awkward as all hell but fine afterwards."
Hermione laughed openly, and Harry watched her. She could feel his eyes on her, and she smiled. "I can only imagine Ron, in the throes of love, claiming to be mad for Romilda Vane... I do remember her hair, just as fluffy as mine had been, once..."
"Yeah, you stayed pretty poofy until just around then, too. Came back from sixth year with considerably smoother hair. You'd finally convinced yourself to use a hair potion. People noticed... I know I had."
"Harry! You were still with Ginny..."
"Didn't mean I didn't notice that the only other woman I spent most of my time with had come back more confident and, well, much more like a woman."
She rolled her eyes. She never would have thought Harry had been even remotely interested in her in their school days, but apparently things changed...
She helped him clear the table, and agreed when he suggested they should watch a movie to finish off their Friday. Luna would have Sirius for the weekend, had picked him up before dinner started, and Hermione would soon know why. Harry had mentioned a surprise trip starting Saturday morning and ending the next night, and she was curious as ever. He'd even packed clothes for her, which she wasn't sure he could even do properly, and kept their destination a complete secret.
"Still not telling me?"
"Fine. I'll take it as another surprise in the last few weeks..."
"This one is good. I'm hoping it... sparks a few memories. You'll understand why."
Content with the knowledge that he wouldn't answer any of her questions, Hermione settled in beside her husband, barely touching. As the night went on, however, she found herself inexplicably itching to move closer to him. Every ten minutes was a new challenge - his arm low on her waist, scooting so closed they touched everywhere, her head on his shoulder, etcetera. By the end of the film, Harry was sitting down, Hermione had her back against the armrest of the couch, and her legs were over his. She was halfway in his lap, with his arms fully around her, and she quite liked it. Maybe that was remembering a feeling, maybe it was love for Harry that she'd felt all along - but the unmistakable comfort, warmth, and intimacy she felt just being so close to him was a feeling she wouldn't soon forget - amnesia or not.
There was a small overnight bag in their trunk, and Harry walked Hermione around to the passenger side. Though he had explained it was her car, Hermione couldn't remember ever getting her license, let alone learning to drive, and had forfeited that right to him.
"As I'll ever be. Will it be long?"
"Not terribly. A few hours, most."
But later on their trip, Hermione would realize they were heading straight for London.
"Any reason we didn't take a train?"
"Yeah, more expensive, for some awful reason. Plus where we're going is just a few too many underground stops from Kings Cross."
When Harry finally pulled up in front of a restaurant just before noon, they were both starving. He'd instructed her to wear something nice enough for a somewhat fancy lunch, and that he'd packed the rest for their night and the next day. It was freezing, so she'd worn nice, tight-fitting black pants, a flowy sort of grey top under a black jacket, two different scarves, and low-heeled boots. She'd have worn higher heels if her back wasn't hurting her so much. Pregnancy did that...
They ate and chatted about their time in the city. Harry told her about all the places they would go together, their favorite brunch, every place they'd ever fought - there weren't many. He showed her the street corner where she'd stormed out after their first big fight and he'd proposed the first time.
He walked her up and down streets full of shops that she'd seen in her youth, showed her where he bought the ring that she had on her finger now, where they found out she was pregnant the first time, where they'd gone on their first sort of official date. He showed her where she used to get her hair done, where he'd bought her her first expensive purse, and where she'd fallen and broken her ankle wearing heels for a work lunch. Apparently, heels had never been her first choice...
When he took her to dinner that night, it was the same spot they'd had their first date. He told her he'd booked a suite in their favorite hotel, pre-ordered room service snacks, and had made sure they would have the utmost privacy. He wanted them to enjoy their night, and while Hermione could feel stares from strangers in the street - likely magic folk who knew who they were - no gaze was as strong as Harry's. She only wished she could remember all of these wonderful things with him and get back to what had apparently been her life.
The room was huge - as big as their first apartment, Harry told her. It was posh, but comfortable. He drew her a bath, helped sweep the hair off her neck so she could put it in a bun, and left her with bubbles and steam and relaxation. As much as she could tell he'd wanted to join her... she just wasn't ready for anything nearly close to that yet. She hadn't let him kiss her, yet... but why not?
She pondered the reasons as she slipped into the water, careful to test the temperature. Apparently, it had been warm enough for a little someone to feel... there was a definite movement in her abdomen.
Her daughter had kicked. She yelped. Harry was at the door instantly, and almost opened it fully before remembering her current status.
"Are you alright? Is everything okay?"
"Come get a towel, quick! She kicked! Harry, she kicked!"
There was a brief silence, and Harry burst out laughing. "I forgot, this is sort of like the first time to you... gods, there are towels across the bathroom, but I don't want you slipping... can I come through?"
She gave her approval, pressing her body as best as she could against the side of the tub. If Harry stepped too close, all he'd be able to see was her bum, and it was just a bum, for goodness sake...
He stepped in, smiling. "Even in a bath, half messed, startled, you're the most beautiful thing..." He grabbed a towel and stayed just far enough back to hand it to her. He turned around while she stepped out and dried, and brought back a sleep shirt and pants for her. She thanked him, dressed, and then joined him in the separate sitting room of their suite.
"She kicked! It was the weirdest thing, I felt her there... right there!" She felt out the spot, then grabbed Harry's hand without hesitation and placed in on her belly, right where she'd felt the movement. He smiled.
It was weird, really. Like a bit of deja vu. Only, she'd been wearing different pants. And a different shirt. And they'd been in the sitting room of their old apartment, and it was the first rain of the season... she gasped. Harry looked up at her, surprised.
"Did she kick again? Did she..." He trailed off when he saw her tears. She'd remembered something, she knew that much, and while details were slipping, she knew what it was. Her stomach had been bigger, she was pregnant with Sirius. At least six months. It was the first rain in August and he had been fussy, hiccuping and kicking all morning. There was no sun to speak of, but what little light outside had cast a shadow of Harry walking into their sitting room, scratching his bottom and yawning.
"Morning... you were up early."
He had come to sit beside her, resting his hand on her belly instinctively. Feeling the fussy child inside, he'd given her a sheepish smile. That smile...
"Harry, I was pregnant with Sirius. Six months. It was... it was the first rain, late in August, and I'd been up all morning because he wouldn't settle down. You came in, and... you felt my belly, and we laughed about it, and you..."
"I made pancakes! Yes! And you threw them up later but... you wouldn't remember what you told me?"
"I think I remember something about them still being good! Harry!" She reached over immediately, and he pulled her in towards him. This was her first real memory, the first thing she could actually picture, instead of just facts. She'd been so afraid that her memories wouldn't come back, but then this one had, and it was so precious...
"I love you, Hermione. I don't care what you think of me saying it now, I love you, always have, always will. I'm so... proud of you, if that's the word I guess..." He kissed her hair, her forehead, her nose, and when he pulled back, she was struck with the instant desire to snog him thoroughly.
That was strange, perhaps, to sixteen-year-old Hermione - before the last decade, after the accident, before this first kick of their daughter had caused her to remember such an ordinary yet touching moment between the two of them...
She leaned forward, tentatively pressing her lips to his. It was odd. Nothing like Viktor Krum, not at all. Harry responded enthusiastically, letting out a little hum when he realized, a moment later, that she was kissing him. Remembering that it would be almost like their first kiss to her, she was grateful that he took it slowly, holding her face in his hands, moving his mouth gently against hers, feeling her hair, resting a hand on her belly, running his hands over every place she felt comfortable with. Minutes later they resurfaced, and it was like that kiss had sparked something in her - that feeling she'd been waiting for, that love for Harry, the feeling she knew she'd once had. She loved him, and he loved her. And their daughter had just kicked!
"Shh. I was... overcome by emotion. And I will be again, if you don't watch it." She smirked. It had felt so wonderful, like something had finally clicked together in her brain and in her heart.
"Maybe I will, then, I'd like to do that a million and a half more times in my life."
"Keep saying things like that, and you will." She planted one more chaste kiss on his lips before curling into his side, not unlike the night before, but with her legs out behind her. Harry ran his hand over her belly, and they felt their daughter kick a handful of times after that. When the hour finally struck midnight and Hermione found herself exhausted, they settled into bed together, holding each other, until she finally drifted off to sleep.
When she woke in the morning, she kissed him again just to make sure it hadn't been a dream. It felt just as good as the night before, and they both smiled through the kiss.