Author's Note: Yes, I know how horrible it is to delay so long after the last chapter, but I won't be giving excuses, just working on the next.
Days passed without incident, allowing Harry to get comfortable in a routine. Attending classes, eating meals, talking with friends, and reading late into the night in an attempt to catch up with his newly forgotten life. Slowly he was building up enough background knowledge to understand what was being said and going on around him. He was nearly filled in on all the adventures and unusual events that had happened over the course of the year, from multiple points of view. Giving him a singular, and often confusing perspective. Yet there wasn't enough time to hear everything, especially the secrets which Hermione promised to reveal. They hadn't even gotten the chance to visit the mysterious disappearing room he'd heard so much about, not with the dozens of students and concerned teachers coming to visit and ask how he was. It made him feel like some exotic attraction, on display for the curious tourists of Hogwarts.
Yet with the drawbacks of losing his memory came some advantages. Casting spells again was one.
The Professors' strict warnings and possible ramifications of failed spells frightened him in the beginning, having so recently been the victim of magic gone wrong. Though after the third day of attending classes, Harry's trio of friends dragged him to the Ravenclaw dueling room to get reacquainted with the spells they'd learned for school. However, before attempting a single spell, Hermione took him aside and clarified a few things. Advising him to forget everything he'd been told or read so far, and repeating his original description to her on how to cast nonverbal magic, by simply adding on the words and movements for the sake of appearances. Like he would if explaining math to others, labeling his actions and detailing unneeded steps he would normally do in his head. It was a strained metaphor, Hermione admitted, but she blamed him for coming up with it.
Amazingly enough, it worked.
On his very first try Harry choose the easiest of spells, Lumos, thinking intently about the sun, and how it created light. With a semi-confident wave of his wand he felt the magic rush out of his hand, producing a literal blinding flare, right in front of his face. It left spots in everyone's eyes for several minutes and an extremely familiar feeling in the back of his mind.
When they could see again, Sue was looking on in confusion, Hermione appeared exasperated, and Padma eyed him with pure indignation. He thought he'd really hurt her, until she spoke.
"You've been holding back on us this entire bleeding time!? I knew you were talented, barely putting in half the effort the rest of us needed to, but this? Your first try after forgetting everything and it's brighter than even Hermione can do! Did you really forget-"
She paused, seeing his downcast expression, "Sorry... it isn't your fault. - I - I'm just frustrated! We can barely keep up even though we made a promise to stick together and protect each other. We've been working so hard and learning so much, but then you get hurt again, and we're still so helpless!" Sue put an arm around Padma upon noticing the moisture in her eyes.
Hit with an unexpected pang of sympathy, Harry remembered that same feeling from years ago. It was one memory forever burned into his brain, one he might have actually wanted to lose. Of his neighbor's new puppy, which he walked past every day coming home from school, encouraging it to squeeze through their fence and cross the road to him. He'd recently learnt how to influence thoughts, and day after day used it to escape his relative's control to simply try to play and pet a puppy he could never own. And inevitably, even that was taken away. It was his fault of course. He should have realized why the puppy was always kept fenced in. The one day he got careless and called it to him without looking, thinking he was powerful and in control, was the same day he heard a car come speeding down the lane.
Watching that scene as he futilely attempted to push and persuade the puppy back onto the curb was horrifying.
The year of training he'd practiced day and night was meaningless. He couldn't control a five pound puppy, let alone move it out of the way with magic then. That feeling of helplessness motivated him to change, to learn, and find control. But the question now was, could he help Padma too?
Hermione spoke softly, seeing a familiar look in Harry's eyes like he wanted to explain everything, "Harry, you can't. Professor McGonagall and Flitwick specifically told us that yesterday. It's too dangerous."
"Can't what?" Sue asked in concern.
"Nothing urgent. Hermione was simply reading my mind, but she's right. We might as well practice while we have the time."
Padma huffed while wiping away her tears, "You better not be learning legilimency without us too. My aunt always says it's worth every spell in the book combined."
They all gave a laugh at that, with Harry and Hermione's being slightly forced.
Even amidst the turbulent emotions, uncomfortable secrets, and interrupting schoolmates, Harry had fun relearning the spells he'd forgotten. Not many were as easy as his first, and some seemed nearly impossible, but the simple concepts such as fire and ice worked best. Casting magic seemed akin to doing tricks on a bike to him, not that he had much experience in that, but it sounded right. With each spell performed he sensed old connections reforming as he executed them in turn, like muscle memory, feeling ingrained in him like the lines on his palms. He could feel a hint of understanding forming while exploring a new room in his mind, filled with painting upon painting of ideas, images, and purpose held in each frame, a specific one for every spell. With many came other faint memories as well, tied to his first use or a distinct occasion he cast a spell, which led to other places in his memory palace, bringing more to life.
It was thrilling, summoning a cheer of excitement to the room when he told the others. Although night came quickly as well, ushering them to their rooms and off to sleep with hopeful thoughts of the future and dreams of the past.
Dueling club the next day was interesting enough for Harry to simply watch from the sidelines, as no one expected him to join in. Hermione frowned before suggesting they could skip it and do something else, but he refused. Wanting to see what his friends could do, especially Hermione, since they were all in the advanced section now. He also hoped that more memories might be triggered while observing.
When Harry sat down at a bench to do so, he was joined by a much older girl with bubblegum pink hair shaped into wavy spikes and wearing a string of jagged shark teeth around her neck. She cast a couple of spells around them, then looked at him with a crooked smile.
"Wotcher Harry, got an early V-day gift for you!" Handing him a small box with little pink hearts all over it, she gave him a wink. "Don't worry, I'm not expecting anything back. Though I am partial to chocolate frogs, if you're curious."
"What d'you know, I'm so memorable even a classroom full of forgetfulness potion can't get rid of me!"
Harry smiled despite himself. He was trying to immerse himself in his new life, accepting how strangers treated him oddly and to stoically bear all the awkward conversions, yet some people made him feel at ease so he didn't have to. "Sorry, only saw pictures. I wasn't expecting... the colour."
"One of my favorites, but it fits the season too." She shook her hair until shapes of hearts began to appear in it, then nudged him while he stared, "Go on, open your gift already."
He did so hesitantly, wondering why an older girl would give him anything for Valentines. Pulling off the thin red ribbons and lifting the lid he found, a rock. It wasn't even an unusual looking rock or engraved with words. It was small, grey, and slightly smooth, but not remarkable in any way. Harry looked up at her with his eyebrows raised, struggling to keep hold of a smile. "Thanks?"
"Great isn't it? Custom made too! You'll get loads of use out of it I bet." Tonks looked completely honest, and then wasn't. Bursting with restrained laughter, she took out the rock and it started to vibrate lightly. Harry's eyebrows sank in bewilderment and his lips quirked to the side.
"Ooh, the faces you make are priceless! But it's not a gag gift. That's just a bonus. It's really a secret sneakoscope that vibrates only when close to the owner. Really good at sensing intended harm and changes intensity for mischief. Moody had some made, and I'm, giving this one, to you." She closed her hand around his, with the rock in between as she said the words, and Harry felt it stick to his hand. Her dark eyes twinkled in delight with a grin to match.
"Best to keep it in a pocket or on you somewhere you can feel it, that's why it's attracted to you. Got one for Hermione too, but I thought you might like to give it to her tomorrow." She winked again and slipped him another box, the same as the first, "Now, on to official business! Has anyone brought you up to speed on our training here?"
"Er - Somewhat. And thanks again."
"Sure. Able to cast spells yet?"
"Most..." Harry mumbled.
"Brilliant! I'm sure you'll be back to your old self in no time, embarrassing third years and learning spells too advanced for your age. But before then, you shouldn't go wandering off on any more adventures."
"What do you mean?"
"Ah, well, I overheard a conversation about your previous... escapades, and how awful some went." She paused, glancing at him, "Don't want to scare you, but with your name and reputation, it might be possible these things aren't just a coincidence. - 'Course there's always bizarre rubbish happening at Hogwarts, and it could be rotten luck for all we know. Though if there's one thing I've learned so far from Auror training with Moody, it's to always be suspicious. Hell, I'm still wondering if I was supposed to overhear their conversation and then talk to you, but the point is, be careful. And keep that sneakoscope on you. Can't lose my first apprentices to an accident."
Nodding in acknowledgement, Harry's eyes widened in realization, "I get it now. Why Hermione, Padma, and Sue rarely leave me alone or let me out of their sight. They're afraid of what might happen next, and are trying not to say much so I won't worry."
"Heh, sounds nice, having clever friends who care. - And here I was stuck with the likes of Stan Shunpike, and Donaghan Tremlett following me around the Hufflepuff common room for years. Don't get me wrong, they were fun at times, but not the brightest gems on a fire crab shell. Still can't believe Donaghan joined a band, even sent me a few tickets last week." She pulled out some glossy black cards to inspect, "Ever heard of the Weird Sisters?" Harry shook his head, "Silly me, of course not. I haven't either, but they have to be better than the last band I saw. Called themselves Troll Bogies, and it fit!"
Harry chuckled, imagining what a witch like Tonks thought of muggle music, or if she ever heard any. "I don't remember any wizard music, but Hermione mentioned we found a wireless inside a cracker over Christmas and I wasn't thrilled with the, ah, variety."
"You're allowed music in that Ravenclaw library you always hide in? I walked in there once while chewing gum and a prefect banned me for life ... or were you spending more time in that special room I've heard mentioned?" Harry looked away before he could stop himself, betraying any knowledge of such a room. "Oh don't worry!" Tonks chided him, "I won't tell, but we do need a better place than an old storage room to train you and Hermione in. Besides I had quite a few secrets here myself, even started a bubble ring. Never was caught for that."
"Not as bad as it sounds, but-" A high pitched scream rang out from the other end of the Great Hall, startling Harry as Tonks jumped up with wand at the ready.
A young boy was laying curled up on the floor, clutching his... fingerless hands to his chest. That disturbed Harry more than he cared to admit, especially when said fingers were rolling around the floor with no blood in sight. Neville screamed again, and fainted.
"Finger-removing jinx, what a pain." Tonks shrugged, "I'll go check it out. You alright here Harry?" With another nod, she left.
The whole room seemed entranced with the spectacle, forming groups and whispering new rumors between each other. Harry sat back and inspected his wands for wear like Ollivander had recommended, not caring to see other students' looks of alarm, interest, or disgust. But upon holding his two dissimilar wands together, he noticed something, odd. One was longer than the other. Not simply the inch difference he noted when first holding them, this seemed new, or at least new to him. He reached a hand in his mokeskin pouch and was able to summon a ruler, laying it beneath the two wands. It became obvious immediately, his Nundu wand had grown, nearly half an inch in length and possibly a little in width as well. Stranger still, the swirling shapes on the tip seemed to be forming into... flowers.
Hermione sat down beside him, observing his intent expression, "Coming to understand the meaning of the universe yet? Or just figuring out how to make your own wand instead?"
"You can do that?" He glanced her way, "Hmm, crafting my own wand doesn't sound like a bad idea."
She gave him an amused smile, "You already have two Harry, what are you going to do, carry the third in your teeth? Plus they're not lightsabers, and it's not part of your training to become a wizard. - Although... Sue did say it was tradition that she picked out the ingredients for her's."
"Interesting, and I'm guessing I already suggested making a light saber with magic?" Harry put his phoenix wand away.
"Not specifically, but I got that impression while you were reading several books on light magic and conjured weapons. I don't think you found anything since you never mentioned it."
"Too bad, I'll have to keep researching. Though I guess a wand is a good replacement and a bit more versatile. Did I forget to mention how my wand is growing too?"
Hermione arched an eyebrow at him, or attempted to, "It's doing what now?"
"Growing. I'm guessing that's not normal?"
"Ahh, no. I don't believe it is. We should probably get that looked at..." Tonks returned then to shoo Hermione away and corral the rest of the students back into proper dueling groups, ignoring any complaints or distractions. She walked around while giving advice, lecturing a few on bad habits they were forming, encouraging others to take more risks in attacking, and then patted several on the head for improving in different ways. With that done, she collapsed back onto the bench beside Harry.
"Done, now where were we?" She began pulling on her heart shaped curls, straightening them out, "Ah, yes, official business. How about a recap of your training so far?" Which is exactly what they did, while watching others duel.
Valentines day breakfast was something to behold. The Great Hall was flooded with lurid pink flowers, loose heart shaped petals lined the tables, walls, and completely smothered the floor. While every drink, sauce, and syrup was a deep red, making it seem as if the hall itself was blushing in surprise.
Students milled into the room, many nearly slipping on the petal covered floor while making their way to the tables. Groups of boys sneered and acted disgusted by the cloyingly pink vision, while gaggles of girls giggled, gossiped, and gushed about their crushes. Then there were those who tried to ignore it all.
Harry arrived at the doors to see the flamboyant room and Lockhart shaking his wand frantically at the floor, trying to act subtle in his ghastly pink robes, a shade different from the flowers, somehow making him clash with the background. The bumbling blond Professor looked around discreetly for assistance from his fellow teachers, many of which pointedly ignored him. Nevertheless, he put on a charming smile and bent over to whisper in Flitwick's small ear, gaining a slight grimace and a reluctant nod in return. With a single but complex wave of the tiny man's wand, all the petals on the floor disappeared, only to start raining down from the pale blue ceiling.
Walking down the aisle towards his friends, Harry noticed them turned around in their seats, conspiring together. Parvati and Lisa were included as well, but like a wave breaking against the sand, they dispersed at the sight of him. He sat down at the only open space left, right in the middle of the lioness' den, as his new sneakoscope started to quiver softly in his pocket. With a deep breath he shoved away his apprehension and spoke over the table's whispers.
"Whatever it is, please don't make it too embarrassing."
Giggles were the only reply he got, even from the normally demure Sue Li. He tried to ignore it while selecting from an appetizing array of dishes, all heart shaped as well. Blueberry drop scones, stuffed chocolate french toast, and a glazed chelsea bun slipped onto his plate as he decided to indulge himself on the sweet and probably embarrassing holiday.
Lockhart stood up again and cleared his throat pompously, interrupting Harry's first bite, then waving for silence and raising his voice un-magically. "Happy Valentine's Day! And may I thank my obliging colleagues for allowing such a fabulous event, which I, took the liberty to arrange. It is my pleasure to assure you, it doesn't end here! While my original proposal for delivering Valentines was rejected, I persevered, and devised an even better method with the help of Professor McGonagall!" She pursed her lips in response.
With a clap of his hands, thousands of large pink, purple, and red paper hearts flew in through the teachers entrance at the back of the room. Gliding over the student's heads like paper airplanes to land in tall stacks along the tables. They had excessively cute and twee designs on them, of bubbling pink cauldrons, flying cherubs shooting arrows, and many more customary scenes with a heavy wizarding influence.
Lockhart's grin brightened, "Valentines that will deliver themselves and any chocolate attached after a gentle throw. And there's even more! Gramophones loaned from the music club will be playing in the halls during breaks, along with a litter each of Crump puppies and half-Kneazle kittens penned up in the courtyard to play with." Excited cries were heard scattered throughout the room, "Courtesy of some generous and devoted admirers of mine, who have already sent me many Valentines themselves. And I'm sure other professors would enjoy contributing to the fun as well! Perhaps Professor Trelawney can read the love line on your palms, or Professor Snape might let you get a whiff of Amortentia potion?" He finished with a conspiratorial wink and bow.
The Divination Professor's bug-like eyes widened behind thick glasses, appearing confused at why she was even there, let alone that her name was mentioned, while Snape looked ready to bite through a fork, or a student, if one dared come close. When Lockhart finally sat down a few girls sprang up and ran outside, presumably to see the furry little animals before anyone else, as others grabbed cards and hid them in pockets for later. Harry noticed the amused and enchanted expressions around him, but decided not to comment and reached for some ruby-red juice instead.
His sneakoscope buzzed silently in alarm.
Hesitating for a moment, Harry poured some in a goblet anyway to not give the game away. Bringing it to his lips, he pretended to take a sip while smelling it, yet couldn't detect anything dodgy. Setting it back down revealed no triumphant smirks or sly smiles from the girls around him, which made him curious and more importantly, suspicious. He reached into his pouch and summoned the small Griffin claw which Padma mentioned she gave him, and how it could detect poisons or other nefarious substances. Palming it in his hand, he subtly touched it to the liquid, turning it a vomit flavored green. Wrinkling his nose, he touched a cherry coloured syrup with it next and it changed as well.
Glancing around, he saw Sue a seat away, reaching for her own goblet full of red disaster. Harry flicked his wrist to seize his wand as he stopped her goblet from reaching her mouth, without a spell. Padma was in between them, but was stuffing her face with a Chelsea bun and noticed nothing. Sue on the other hand looked directly at Harry and his wand now pointing at her with a puzzled frown. He shook his head and eyed the goblet in her hand, hoping she understood. With a nod from her, Harry's eyes widened and turned around toward Hermione to see her spreading some bright red jam over toast.
'Do NOT eat or drink anything yet! Something's wrong.' Harry sent the thought to her instantly, then elbowed Padma out of her last delicious bites of pastry. He touched the food on his plate with the claw to see if anything else was affected, then whispered to her when nothing else was, "Don't drink or eat anything more. It might be poisoned. Tell Sue."
With his mind reeling at the implications, he observed everyone down the Ravenclaw table and the next already stuffing their faces with food and drink. His eyes shot towards Dumbledore, the seemingly nice old man he was supposed to have trusted with all his secrets. There wasn't time to doubt that now. Harry sent another thought Dumbledore's way, 'The Griffin claw I have turned the juice and syrup a green color. What does that mean?'
The Headmaster's intense blue eyes abruptly locked on his, and Harry could sense his mind being entered somehow. An old memory connected at the same time, of Snape's greasy hand invading his thoughts near the beginning of school. He jerked his eyes down as Dumbledore stood up forcefully with wand at the ready. In the next moment, ears of a greenish house elf peaked above the table next to Dumbledore, nodding to whispered commands. Followed by a small pop, and they were gone. McGonagall suddenly had her own wand clutched tightly in hand while asking questions Harry couldn't hear.
Complete silence greeted Dumbledore at the sight of him standing. He whispered a response to McGonagall and put on a genial smile, "In light of Professor Lockhart's encouraging words this morning, I have elected to furnish today's meals with a special surprise as well. It has taken some time to prepare, but should be ready now..." He clapped his hands and wand together in a startling wave of magic. "Butterbeer and Moon-Berry tea for all!"
Where pitchers of red juices once stood, now held flagons of creamy Butterbeer and large pots of purple tea. The other crimson liquids were replaced as well, with no explanation as to why. Dumbledore gave a subtle nod to Harry, that everything was safe, and waved the students back to their meal. He sat down calmly to inspect a single cup of liquid, doubtlessly procured from the student's tables, with McGonagall beside him. The chatter and excitement picked back up with cheers of delight at the welcome bonus.
Harry eyed the elderly Headmaster, wondering how often he'd allowed the man or others to enter his mind. Padma and Sue were both glaring at him though, demanding answers, but Harry spoke first. "What's Moonberry tea?"
"A flavourful and expensive mental stimulant, similar to wit sharpening potion," Padma replied quietly, "And are you going to tell us what you know or leave us in the dark once again?"
"Er - do I do that a lot?" Emphatic nods were their response, "Sorry... I'll try not to. - This is how I figured it out." He revealed the Griffin claw cupped in his hand.
Sue frowned again, "But how did you know to test anything?" She seemed ready to ask if he was growing paranoid, how Dumbledore found out, and more, but held back.
"Ah, Tonks helped with that. That reminds me, could I borrow your owl before class starts Padma? Need to repay her." He started pouring himself some tea.
"Okay... but we're coming with you."
Harry agreed, and then was hit in the back of the head by a paper heart. It fluttered around him to land in his lap, with only one word scrawled across it. 'EXPLAIN' He looked back at Hermione to give her a half shrug, and sent a few more thoughts her way.
They all ate quickly after Harry assured them it was safe from more testing, then pocketed a few treats for nibbling along the way, and some bacon for Padma's owl. Harry covertly grabbed a few hearts as he saw others doing the same, and left early with his three friends whispering together behind him.
Arriving at the straw filled Owlery a few minutes later, Padma called out into the near hollow tower. "Sharada! Come Sharada!"
"That's an unusual name." Commented Harry, as he pulled out a bright red paper heart and began writing on the only clean table.
A snowy white owl swooped down to land on a perch in front of Padma and receive a piece of bacon, "It's another name for Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom and knowledge. She wears all white, so I thought it fit. - Although, she doesn't seem to like it much." Sharada nipped at Padma's fingers lightly to emphasize her agreement.
"Magical owls are amazing, being able to track anyone and eat nearly anything. Do witches and wizards use them in India too?" Inquired Hermione while she inched closer to Harry.
"Not often, some people think they're bad omens. My grandmother wanted us to have a magical swan or peacock originally, but even Parvati thought that was too much. It thrilled my parents when I found Sharada though, since white owls are considered lucky." Parvati's tiny elf owl flitted onto Padma's hand to pick up any crumbs. "But who knows what they think of crazy eyes here." It pecked her finger, making her yipe and fling the little bird away.
The owl tumbled end over end in the air, landing sprawled out on a table. It laid there with its beak open and neck at an odd angle. Obviously pretending to be dead as it revealed itself by opening one eye to look around.
"What do they use to send messages in Penglai Sue?" Continued Hermione as she ignored the strange bird and tried to peek over Harry's shoulder.
"Nearly everything." Sue walked over to the elf owl carefully, "From eagles, to squirrels, to anything in between that doesn't try to eat your mail. Cranes are the most popular as pets though." She held out a bit of pastry for it, and it gleefully woke and hopped into her hand. "What about you two? Thought about getting an owl or something, and what you'd name it?"
Harry looked around and grinned, catching Hermione right beside him. She spun away briskly, acting as if nothing happened. "I bet if Harry got owl he'd think it fun to name it Archimedes."
"Huh, did I tell you that before or are you just guessing?"
She smirked at him, "Only guessing, but you do make it easy sometimes."
"Well, as I've probably mentioned, I'd like a useful familiar, rather than just a pet." Sharada flapped her wings and barked at Harry in protest. "Not that owls aren't useful... I think Hermione might have something else in mind though."
"What? Why do you say that Harry?" Hermione tilted her head, with curiosity dancing in her eyes.
"I'm not the only one that's predictable," He folded up his note and pulled out a chocolate frog sized box with red wrapping on it from his pouch. Then returned her smile, "But I did see your face light up when Lockhart was talking about those kittens in the courtyard."
Padma was sucking on her sore finger when she perked up upon hearing that, "That does sound like fun. We should visit during break and drag Harry along to smother him in all the cuteness. Maybe that'll get him to tell us what's going on."
That got a chuckle out of him, "Alright, alright, it's nothing big. Tonks gave me a silent sneakoscope yesterday, and I signaled Dumbledore that something was wrong with my drink. I have no idea what was slipped into our meal or who did it though. I thought it was one of you at first, but maybe it was only a prank or something harmless, as no one got sent to the hospital wing."
"Yet." Hermione added, "But I suppose Dumbledore didn't seem that worried either. Will you ask him about it tomorrow?"
"Sure." Harry was attaching the package to Sharada's outstretched leg, when Padma snatched the Valentine out of his grasp and began reading.
"'Thank you for the special gift and wonderful time last night Nymphadora. I'm sure we will see each other again soon.'" He grabbed it back before she could read anymore. Only to meet the wide eyes of his bewildered friends. "What the hell again Harry?"
"It's a joke! Blimey, don't act like I stabbed someone. She was teasing me last night, so I thought I would return the favor. Don't tell me I never joke around."
All Hermione could do was stare at him with her jaw open, while Sue and Padma exchanged dubious looks. "Even I know not to go that far... maybe there was something in the food?" Mumbled Padma.
Harry rolled his eyes, tied his Valentine onto the package and sent Sharada away, "We should be heading to history now, before I go crazy and grow an evil goatee."
When he heard a derisive snort from Hermione, he began laughing, "We need to get you watching more television is what I meant to say Padma."
"Oh, right, already back to making daft references only Hermione gets. I guess nothing's changed."
No one was sitting in the right section during history, let alone paying attention to what the ghostly professor was saying. Boys of multiple houses crowded together in groups to quietly complain about the girly day, or praise Dumbledore for how great the Butterbeer was. Still, many Slytherins stuck together, the same as some Hufflepuffs, but most remarkably, Harry was surrounded by girls of every house.
All the usuals from Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Hufflepuff were near, with Tracey Davis and Daphne Greengrass sitting behind Harry, listening in.
He didn't mind that much, but was simply grateful that the topic of conversation wasn't him. Instead it was about every other boy in their year, and quite a few more in second and even third year as well. A few girls had their own paper hearts out, discussing what to write or who to write them to. Harry diligently pretended to be taking notes despite it all, yet was unable to ignore some of the more interesting topics.
It wasn't until ten minutes into class that a violet paper heart squeezed through the classroom doors to soar gently past Harry and the group of girls. Quiet squeals and giggling laughs were heard as it passed in front of each, then looped back around to strike Hermione square in the chest.
Half the class who were watching it as well grew speechless, to stare at Harry and Hermione sitting next to each other and the Valentine resting in her lap.
Harry just chucked. "And here I thought I would be embarrassed first today. At least I won't be alone." He nudged her playfully.
"Who's it from!?" Hissed Parvati.
Hermione strained to not move her head or meet anyone's eyes, trying to wish the Valentine out of existence. When that didn't work, she used the tips of her fingers to carefully unfold it like it might explode, then read the text. "Professor Snape?!" She blurted out in utter confusion, sparking a flurry of wild rumors throughout the room.
Just then, another paper heart slipped into the room and landed in Harry's hands. His sneakoscope shivered imperceptibly at the touch and he opened it without thinking, to see a name unknown to him. It only added to the confusion, "Who's Irma Pince?"
"The LIBRARIAN!?" Shouted Hannah.
Professor Binns finally stopped his constant droning and looked up at the outburst, which drew everyone else's attention.
"Sorry..." Hannah mumbled as she buried her flushed face in a book.
The lecture resumed, as one more heart wiggled through the doors to dive bomb Ron's head. He caught it after the second attempt, and read it with a look of utter revulsion on his face. Seamus Finnigan snuck a peek over his shoulder, gaining the same expression, "Filch? Eughh!"
That was when Padma figured it out. "Hmpf! Those two troublemakers give twins a bad name. Making light of such an nice day. We should see if they can take as good as they give."
It took a few seconds for the others to understand her meaning, and then quickly agree. Tracy had some advice though, "Why not reverse it for them? Send sappy poems to all the girls they like in their name."
"Oh, that's just evil. - I like it!" Parvati snickered with relish. Hermione frowned at them both, but then looked down at the false Valentine in her hands and shrugged.
A couple more hearts flew in for other students during class, and one more for Harry. Which he had to show the others, seeing as it was only a friendly one from Penny, wishing him luck in his recovery. It wasn't until break that he got a reprieve from the constant attention. By then the plan to visit the courtyard full of animals had spread, and a flock of girls rushed off to find them, with Harry trailing after. Wanting a glimpse of what Kneazles and Crup were like, yet he didn't mind seeing the girl's reactions either.
Refreshing sunlight glistened against dewy grass, and there was an unnatural warmth in the courtyard air. Snow and ice still covered the eaves yet none was seen below, possibly due to the smiling grey haired witch watching over her flock. The puppies and kittens frolicked and pranced among the girls already kneeling down to play with them as Harry came across the picturesque scene. He noticed Hermione standing off to the side as well, keeping an eye out for him.
She seemed eager to join the others, but didn't move until he was standing beside her. Only to turn towards him and grin. "We can go somewhere else if you want Harry."
"That's okay, it's actually nicer here than most of the castle. And you don't have to coddle me so much either, not like I'm defenseless." He twirled his wand around his fingers in demonstration.
Sighing, Hermione looked down at her own cracked wand in a grimace. "Sorry... I'm just, worried is all. You don't remember how fast things can change around here, and with what happened this morning..."
"I think I'm getting the picture, but you're right, I don't remember it all. Though I'm not going to go running off on my own either. So let's enjoy the unusual weather and pleasant times until there's something productive we can do."
"About that, I think I might have -" An emphatic MEOW interrupted her mid-sentence, drawing their eyes down to a large ball of fluffy ginger fur. Harry's first thought was that someone wrapped a lion mane around a football, until it looked up and met his eyes. Its squashed and slightly grumpy face appeared to be judging him, but gave up as Hermione knelt down towards it. The ball of fur pawed at Hermione's shoe and meowed again more insistently, wanting to be picked up, which it quickly was.
"He's adorable!" She cooed.
Harry's eyebrows knitted together, "How can you tell?"
Hermione's beaming smile fell for a second, but Harry quickly corrected himself, "No, no, I meant, how can you tell it's a boy? All I see is fur."
"Oh, well, I guess you're right. But he looks like a boy, doesn't he? He's so cuddly too!" She squeezed the bundle of fur close as it started to purr in her arms. Her smile came back brighter than ever as she saw Harry couldn't resist smiling either. He reached out to pet it as well, only to receive a suspicious look in return, yet it accepted the attention readily after hearing Hermione's delighted giggle.
"Hmm, I wonder..." Harry threw his cloak on the ground for Hermione to sit on, and glanced around the courtyard as she did so, "I'll be right back."
Padma and Sue arrived soon after, bringing with them a small black and white Crup puppy to revel in the cuteness with Hermione. They let the puppy dance around the ginger ball of fur, which ignored it completely, preferring instead to climb back into Hermione's lap and purr itself to sleep.
Returning several minutes later with a faint look of disappointment, Harry sat down beside them to stare at the small dog, which was still trying to play with the snoozing cat. Yet at his arrival, the puppy decided to change targets, bounding toward him with its tongue out and attacking his socks in an excited pounce. It appeared slightly unbalanced as it did so. Having only recently lost its second tail, if the bald patch next to the first was any indication. Harry put on a smile and played along as he watched his friends enjoying themselves.
Light jazz started to play from the hallways, turning heads and perking up ears at the romantic tune. Eyes drifted Harry and Hermione's way, making the warm air feel hotter by the second.
Until it was all interrupted by an irritating shriek of laughter, sounding like silverware scraping against glass in Harry's ears. It was emanating from none other than Draco Malfoy. Along with Crabbe and Goyle performing an uncanny impression of cackling hyenas. They were doubled up in laughter and one was pointing at some commotion on the opposite side of the courtyard. Where Lisa had fallen to the ground, from a horde of Crup puppies attacking her school bag and pulling at her clothes. Other girls were giggling as well, as it was more endearing than distressing.
"Ha! Looks like they found a real muggle!" Shouted Draco, and as Hermione stood up with the kitten he sneered, "Watch out Granger, you'll be next."
Harry had the sudden urge to throw Malfoy into a wall, or at least tie his shoelaces together, but decided not to as Hermione warned him against using wandless magic in front of others. Instead he joined Padma and Sue in following after Hermione, who was already imitating Tonks and shooing away the rascally animals from Lisa. The grey haired witch came over too, gently tapping the heads of puppies with her wand, making them let go instantly and start chasing their tails. Harry and Hermione pulled Lisa up while Sue and Padma extracted her bag from beneath a pack of twirling Crup.
"Terribly sorry my dear," the elderly lady patted Lisa on the shoulder, "but you shouldn't bring any muggle bits and bobs around Crup. Might have chewed through your bag to get 'em."
Lisa thanked her as the group moved to a secluded corridor, and Padma handed her bag back, "What do you have in there, muggle toenails?"
"Eww!" Hermione and Lisa protested as one.
Padma held up her hands, "No one eats them! You enchant them in the soles of your shoes. They're an old folk remedy for foot sores, or at least that's what my grandmother always claimed..."
"Definitely not." Lisa began digging through her bag, pulling out a wide red ribbon, several colourful and thin books, one long blue coat with strange pockets, and a grey stuffed animal, that was some strange cross between a raccoon, owl, and cat. Her cheeks went pink at that, and quickly shoved it all back in. "Christmas gifts..." She mumbled, and then pulled out a round locket, with a glass window in front. It held a curl of hair inside. "Almost forgot about this, it's my mother's."
"Ah!" Harry exclaimed. They all looked at him in question, "Sorry, thought I remembered something, but just lost it." He changed the subject quickly, "By the way Lisa, what are those books you seem to read so often? Or have I asked that before?"
Her head drooped while mumbling again, but no one caught what she said. So Sue answered for her, "They're manga, Japanese comic books." Lisa jerked her eyes up wide as Sue continued, "My cousin loves them, and even sends me some once in a while."
"But - but, I thought Penglai witches are all Chinese!?" Contested Lisa.
"I am, but my father is Japanese and I learned both languages. Penglai is a bubbling cauldron of many Asian wizarding cultures, so it wasn't that unusual." Sue gave Lisa a faint and knowing smirk, making her jaw drop.
The bell rang then, turning them towards their next class. Hermione reluctantly set the fluffy orange kitten back down with the others before they headed off together. While Lisa started begging Sue to translate some new series she was dying to read.
The rest of the day was a repeat of similar events for Harry, receiving embarrassing valentines, visiting the cute furry animals, and being surrounded by a flock of excitable girls. Hermione on the other hand was quite surprised during her afternoon off.
"Miss Granger, may I speak with you?" Hermione reluctantly glanced up from her book in a corner of the main library, catching sight of Headmaster Dumbledore with his long white beard and opulent golden robes, standing a few paces away.
She froze in place. Caught red handed with a book on Occlumency sitting open on the table. Next to it lay three books on memory charms and how they were reversed. Her jaw worked its way to saying something before she decided what, "Yes?" She squeaked out.
"If you would be kind enough to follow me, I would like to show you something that may help in Harry's recovery." He beckoned with an understanding smile and inviting wave of his hand.
Swallowing back the lump in her throat, Hermione nodded in return, hurriedly closed the books and stuffed them into her mokeskin pouch. She stood up stiffly to trail behind the most famous wizard of the age, silently freaking out about what she just revealed or how much trouble she might be in.
A few minutes later Hermione found herself on the third floor corridor, standing beside a monstrously ugly gargoyle.
"Flying saucers." Dumbledore announced into the open air and the gargoyle leapt aside, revealing a wide spiral stairwell leading high into the castle. The steps began to twist upwards.
"Wasn't that the same sweet..." She trailed off at seeing Dumbledore's approving grin, turning her eyes away at the attention.
"Quite perceptive, do you happen to have a guess as to how you can help Harry?" Stepping onto the screw like stairs together, Hermione shook her head in answer, "I hope to teach you how to share your memories with him."
This time Hermione's throat closed shut in panic. He knows! Did the occlumency book give it away? But he doesn't seem that mad, was he expecting Harry to learn legilimency and then teach me? He must have been fine with it if he's only now saying something. She breathed in a gasp of air, trying to calm herself down. It doesn't matter now anyway, if I can help Harry then the punishment doesn't matter. - Oh, I hope it's not detention in the forest again!
They arrived at a polished oak door adorned with a griffin shaped knocker. It opened inward to display a fantastic circular office, full of tightly packed bookshelves, curious silver instruments, and many antique portraits. Hermione couldn't help but read the titles of books as she was led past them to a cushy red armchair in front of a grand clawfoot desk. Next to which sat a majestic phoenix, gazing down at her in interest from its lofty perch. Light rain pattered against stained glass windows, signaling a coming storm.
She sat down nervelessly, watching the elderly headmaster as he reached into a nearby cabinet and pulled out what appeared to be, a shallow stone birdbath. It even had decorative markings along the rim to accent the dull grey material. Dumbledore set it on the desk in front of her, then reached into a pocket to pull out a crystal flask of silvery-white swirls, looking much like a bottled ghost might. He placed this beside the stone birdbath, as Hermione glanced at Fawkes in question.
What does a phoenix birdbath have to do with sharing memories?
"This my dear, is a Pensieve." Dumbledore spoke in a dignified and educational tone, "An extremely rare and valuable magically device, used to view bottled memories from a different perspective. I would like to use it to show Harry some of the substantial time he has lost. While I personally can share with him some few important discussions we have had this way, I believe he may benefit more from the innumerable memories you two experienced together. That it why I have brought you here, I wish to teach you how to share your memories in this form." He motioned toward the misty flask in front of her.
Whew! He doesn't know. - Wait, WHAT? Why didn't he mention this days ago? It could have saved us so much time and effort... Maybe he only recently acquired it? "That sounds wonderful sir. I would be happy to learn," She fidgeted some, "is there any - danger?"
"No more than remembering something unpleasant, however I doubt we shall risk even that." He gave her a reassuring wink, "Although a demonstration should put your mind at ease, and I have just the memory. Would you like to see the wizarding library of Alexandria?"
Hermione's eyes lit up like electric torches and she nodded enthusiastically, promoting Dumbledore to pick up the flask in front of her and pour the strange swirling substance into the waiting Pensieve. "Now if you'll stand, take a breath, and simply immerse your face into the liquid, I will join you there shortly."
That sounds, weird... though what else can I do but trust the most famous and respected wizard of the age? Harry did.
Following his directions precisely left Hermione falling, tumbling, plummeting down into utter darkness. She shivered, yet it wasn't precisely scary, as she couldn't see if she might hit anything. In the next moment her feet landed in the middle of a magnificently oversized atrium, filled to the brim with red oak bookcases, row upon row lining seven stories full of beautiful books. A picturesque fresco of scholarly wizards and witches covered the ceiling and few open walls. While radiant light streamed in through grand circular windows to illuminate the entire room evenly.
Hermione gasped in awe and had to sit down on the white marble floor before her legs gave out beneath her. The next second someone appeared beside her.
"Lovely, isn't it?" Dumbledore said encouragingly, "But I am afraid we must hurry on as the lesson should begin shortly."
Scrambling to get up, Hermione followed once again toward a new destination. Past towering shelves and down a long hallway to arrive at a elegant sitting room with more books and unique art. Upon entering she noticed a second person already there, another, younger Dumbledore. Sitting in bright peach colored robes, at an ornate table with one old and dusty book in front of him and an empty crystal bottle beside it. The elderly headmaster seemed unconcerned while he took a seat opposite himself, waving Hermione over beside him.
"We cannot interact with memories, despite how real they may seem. However, we may still explore and learn from them." He gestured toward his younger self, "This is when I learned to extract a memory of my own."
Together they watched and listened to the younger, auburn haired Dumbledore read the complicated directions out loud, making comments and notes while doing so. It lasted for a short while, entrancing Hermione in the process of finally observing a professional wizard at work. At the end he cast the spell with little more effort than opening a door, setting his wand to his temple and extracting a long silvery thread of memory, which floated in the air like a single wisp of smoke. Having difficulty with depositing it in the empty bottle, he swirled the gossamer string into a tight coil of shimmering silver and wound it down into the bottom of the bottle. He swiftly quarked the substance inside as it spread to the very edges of the crystal.
"Wow." Hermione breathed.
Then they watched him reverse the steps, withdrawing the swirling memory from the bottle with the tip of his wand and applying it to his temple where it seeped back into his head on its own. He did this multiple times, making more notes in between while seeming to perfect the technique with each attempt. Forming a longer, almost solid string of shining memories that dropped and swung from the tip of his wand near the end. Finally he closed the book and stood up.
Appearing to be satisfied with events, the elderly Dumbledore held out his hand to Hermione, which she took and was suddenly being flung upwards into inky blackness once more, eventually landing lightly on her toes beside the stone basin.
She took several awkward steps back toward her chair and collapsed into it, slightly breathless at what she'd just seen. "That was incredible sir! And - and you want me to learn to do that as well?"
"Quite right," Dumbledore took his seat across from her, "I was hoping you might provide a few memories, for Harry's lesson here tomorrow. Perhaps we might start with your first meeting?" He retrieved three more bottles from inside his robes and placed them on the desk.
"Ehhhh... really? Well, I'm not sure I-" Dumbledore interrupted her from frowning down at her hands.
"Do not doubt yourself so quickly Miss Granger, I have heard tell of your remarkable talents already. It is unlikely such a spell will present you much difficulty, even at your age."
Hermione shook her head, "That's not... what I mean is... I, would rather not."
A stunned look of incomprehension overcame the Headmaster while leaning forward in concern, "What-whatever for? Did something happen?"
"No, no! I'm sorry, it's not that I don't want to help Harry get better or that I don't trust you Professor, but... I would rather not anyone else see my memories." She began to chew on her lip for a second, "Maybe, instead, Harry and I, could borrow the, ah, pensieve?"
The silence stretched for a moment, straining Hermione's nerves which felt like they were stretching as well.
"Hmm, I see. It appears I have forgotten much about the troubles of youth, but I do understand your concerns." Dumbledore nodded once absentmindedly as he relaxed back into his chair, appearing to be deep in thought for another long moment. After gathering his thoughts he began again in a serious tone, "As I have said, the pensive is an extremely rare and valuable device, although, I believe that loaning it to you is not out of the question. Precautions could be taken and if you would promise to take proper care of it, keep it secret, and have Harry bring it with him for my lessons... then I believe it might be more useful in your hands than mine for the moment."
"Of course! I promise to take exceptional care of it! And no one will know about it except Harry, and I'll also make sure he takes excellent care of it while bringing it to lessons!" A tight smile was spreading across her face which Hermione tried to keep in check to appear serious and responsible.
Nodding once more with a hint of a smile himself, Dumbledore replied, "Very well, let us familiarize you in its use."
Harry pushed himself away from another satisfying meal in the still florid pink hall. Having taken a little of everything within reach to test his griffin claw on, he felt ready to lounge about in the Ravenclaw library with his newish-old friends. But that thought disappeared the moment Hermione took his hand outside the Great Hall, leading him away from the stairs and other students, around the corner next to a plain marble statue of a robbed wizard. Pulling him through a hidden passageway and up one more flight of stairs, they approached an empty hallway when suddenly Hermione stopped, let go of his hand and looked around.
"Can you sense anyone around?" She whispered next to his ear.
The thundering of his heart felt loud enough to echo off the walls, yet Harry pushed it away, along with every thought and crazy fantasy about why Hermione would be dragging him to a deserted corridor on Valentines day. It took all his focus to open his senses and search for anyone around, only to be bombarded with more feelings for Hermione as she was standing so close. He suppressed them to eke out a single word response, "No."
"Okay, good." Her coy smile left him dizzy as she walked away from him, then straight back, and finally away again.
Just as Harry found the courage to ask what was going on, a lone wooden door beside Hermione caught his eye. Which was odd since he was sure it hadn't been there the second before. Spinning on her heel, Hermione caught the door handle with nimble fingers as if it was an escaping balloon, rising into the sky.
"Wha...?" Harry faltered as the door opened a crack and light came streaming through.
"Heh, it is kind of fun teaching you things this time around." Hermione pushed the door open fully, "This, is the disappearing room."
Mountainous rows of clutter stretched into the distance while Harry stood dumbfounded, taking it all in. Walking around behind him, Hermione put her hands on his shoulders and gently pushed him through the door. Harry felt a wave of nostalgia roll over him as he entered, along with a desire for something in his mokeskin pouch. He started to reach for it when Hermione grabbed his hand and turned him around.
"Since everyone was expecting us to disappear somewhere, I figured we might as well. Padma and Sue are keeping an eye on Fred and George for us, and I have a couple of things that might help your memory. So we should have until curfew." She turned around as well and stopped abruptly, then looked back and forth along the wall, searching for something. "Now where'd all the other doors go?"
Hermione nodded absentmindedly, "Lots, but they're all gone for some reason." She closed her eyes, appearing to be concentrating with great effort. But upon opening them, she frowned in disappointment. "Of course not, it never listens to me."
"Is that the flying carpet Padma was talking about? Maybe we can search for them with that?" Harry pointed at a large rug on the floor, trying to distract her from getting frustrated.
"I doubt it. Usually they just appear when you... ah! That's probably why Fred and George wanted you yesterday, you're the one who always thought up the rooms. - OK, try picturing the other library in the photos I showed you, that's all we really need."
"Er - I'm just supposed to imagine a room I don't remember and it'll suddenly appear in front of us?"
"Is magic always this easy?"
"Nope." She grinned again.
"Well that clears things up." Remembering back, Harry felt something click in his mind, and in the blink of an eye another polished oak door stood in front of them.
Hermione clapped her hands, "Great, that's the one! Now we can get to work."
Thirty minutes later Harry had been informed of all their secret work together and was sitting completely still in the multicolored puffskein chair, feeling extremely silly and embarrassed at the same time. Having Hermione watch his every move with intense scrutiny wasn't helping matters.
"This has got to be a joke. - Did I do something before I lost my memory to deserve this? Because if so, it's not very nice to be taking it out on me now."
"Don't be silly, it's entirely possible this could work." She made a few notes on a sheet of parchment, "Professor Flitwick was kind enough to lend us his memory slippers, the shining remembralls will tell us if it's working, and you even dispelled a tripping jinx from a chair with the knife."
"I get all that, really I do - but why do I have to hold the remembralls in my shirt, wear the slippers on my ears, and balance a sharp wavy blade on my head? Are you torturing me because of that Valentine from Gemma Farley? Because I don't even know who she is, and it was mostly another get well soon card like Penny's."
Hermione pursed her lips, "That has nothing to do with this. I already told you that the book on memory charms said if we remove as much distance between your brain and the enchanted objects that there is a chance it could help the effect. We've already tried them all individually and holding them normally, so this is the last test to try. Just bear with it for one more minute."
Sighing, Harry closed his eyes and asked the question that had been nagging at him for a while, "By the way, how did I dispel the jinx from that chair?"
"You... ah - stabbed it. But obviously we're not going to try that here, so this is the next best option. Besides, your memory seems to be improved by exposure to magic, so removing any active curse probably isn't the solution. Although it was worth trying it all together like this just to make sure."
Her quill scratching down more notes while waiting, was almost comforting for Harry, reminding him of snippets of this old life he could scarcely remember.
"Hermione, what if I never regain my memory fully? Is it really that much of a problem? Will things... change?" Harry opened his eyes again to see her look up from writing and look back down, sucking in her bottom lip.
"No. - It's not a problem. I'm sure you'll do fine in classes, and Padma, Sue, and I can all help whenever needed. I suppose six months isn't that long when witches and wizards grow much older on average. And I've learned that there are other ways to share memories that we can try - if you want. But let's take a break for now."
Packing up her notes and removing the magical artifacts from around Harry left Hermione sifting through her mokeskin pouch, attempting to reorganize surface items she could reach with one arm. Heavy rain on the roof distracted Harry as he stood up to stretch his legs, ambling about the expansive private library. He inspected a fancy crystal rose whose scent hinted at more memories just out of reach, soaked in the warmth rising from the old threadbare rug, and marveled at the most detailed globe of the earth he'd ever seen, with a view of the actual clouds above their heads. But putting his hands in his pockets reminded him of what day it was.
Harry turned away, and pulled out the small box with hearts all over it, along with the pink lace Valentine he wrote earlier in the day. Someone else's present and a simple card seemed so inadequate for a gift, even if things were strange at the moment. He had literally dived into his mokeskin pouch the night before, hunting for a gift he might have hidden away before his memory was erased, but there was nothing except some red wrapping paper that didn't look used. His inner feelings insisted that Hermione deserved better, while his memory and current situation wasn't sure what think, let alone do. Visiting his memory palace, he checked one last time if anything had been revealed on the subject, yet he ended up in his chair, looking up at all the photos of Hermione he'd been silly enough to collect.
Then he noticed something.
"Ah!" He shouted.
"What!? What's wrong? Did you remember something?" Hermione had her wand out in concern.
"Kind of... more like realized something. But I, don't know what it means..." She was looking at him expectantly, so he continued, "You - you're not wearing the flower you usually do in the photos... I assume it was one I gave to you?"
Her hand reached for the empty lapel before realizing what she was doing. "I - I'm sorry, the last one wilted recently when you were sent to the hospital. I tried to save it, but, I couldn't." Looking up again, she saw the items in Harry's hands, "What are those?"
Harry grinned faintly, "Oh, these? Nothing much, I only thought I should give back to someone who sent me a valentine today." He attached the box to the card and looked towards the open door, then at the indescribable expression Hermione had on her face. He threw the card at the door to hear a barely audible squeak, and a loud gasp as it came soaring back towards Hermione.
After catching it in a claw like grasp she turned a menacing glare his way, "Harry... You said it was going to someone who sent you a valentine today. That's not nice to lie."
"But I didn't. You did send me a valentine. I have to say, it wasn't much of one though, a one word demand during breakfast doesn't really inspire affection and fondness towards someone."
Harry started laughing as he sat down across from her, "Go on and open it already, I'm sure you'll be quite surprised."
Shaking her head with the touch of a rueful smile on her lips, Hermione opened the letter and read, letting the smile grow. She carefully unwrapped the box next, preserving the nice wrapping paper. While pulling off the lid, her expression turned to slight confusion as she lifted a single purple button out of the box. "What's it do?"
"Aww, I guess that would be the obvious conclusion wouldn't it? I was hoping for more of a reaction, but oh well. - It's a silent sneakoscope. Sadly not from me actually, Tonks wanted to give you one too. Yours looks nicer than my rock though." Harry flicked his wrist to expose his Nundu wand, "I, apparently am not a very thoughtful... friend, and didn't get you anything nice before having my memory erased. But hopefully I can at least replace the flower you used to wear, if you want that is?"
She nodded with a sympathetic and encouraging smile, "Please."
Chuckling again, Harry closed his eyes and attempted to remember exactly what happened to his wand as he first touched it in Diagon Alley. He could see the flowers blooming, smell the floral aroma, and hear the wind rustle throughout the shop, and then it hit. A surge of magic and memories flooded through him in an instant, bringing back every instance of seeing Hermione wear that single blue flower. There were hundreds of them, they were short, a few seconds to a minute at the most, but they were back, and it was breathtaking.
Clapping woke him from his thoughts to see Hermione grinning at the tip of his wand, which was covered by a bundle of glowing blue flowers. Plucking them off he handed them over, wishing there was more. That's when another revelation hit him, an important one.
"What, again?" Hermione laughed while smelling the flowers.
"Yes, but this time is a little better. I remembered where I kept your actual present, and, a few other things. Although... It's a little embarrassing, you'll probably like it anyway. Come on." He led her outside the library into the main room, and pointed towards a new red door, covered with pink hearts and trim. He groaned softly as she opened it.
Hermione giggled delightedly in return, looking dazzled by the thoroughly decorated Valentine's day room. A single white table sat in the center of the small dining area, surrounded by pink walls and deep red carpet. Matching red velvet chairs sat opposite each other, tinted lamps hung from the ceiling, and everlasting candles were lit on the table. Red napkins were laid next to white plates with a single rose on each, while in the center sat a bright red box and instead of the trademark blue, was a bouquet of glowing purple flowers on top.
"It's amazing Harry! Thank you! When did you have time - I mean, did you remember this just now?"
He shuffled his feet while closing the door, "Yeah, I remembered creating those flowers here while making the blue ones. I think I was going to tell you to eat a light dinner and have the house elves bring us something here, but it's a little late for that. - At least you can open your present, and we can both be surprised by what it is."
Skipping to the table Hermione took a seat and waved Harry over, giggling even more. "I made something for you too." She pulled a blue lace bag out of nowhere and set it on the table, "Wasn't sure you'd want them, but we should eat something here after all the trouble you went through. Kolie helped me make them, there's even potions infused in the chocolate."
"Er - what kind of potions?" He asked while sitting down and trying not to blush at the atmosphere his former self put together.
"Not that kind, honestly Harry you always seem to think I'm up to something. Which might concern me if you weren't simply projecting. And yes, I learned that from a psychology book you lent me." Hermione stuck out her tongue, then picked a chocolate out of the bag and took a bite.
She passed them to Harry while explaining. "The square and round ones are concentration and memory enhancing potions to help while you study, but the heart shaped ones are just different kinds of chocolate. We kind of got carried away and made too many of those, so I gave some to friends and there's more to replace the ones we eat now."
Laughing silently, Harry pulled one out with caramel drizzled on top, "thanks," he mumbled and pushed the bright red box toward her.
The wrapping came off just like before, making Hermione grin from ear to ear as she opened the lid. Inside rested a heart shaped pendant, formed from intricately woven designs of polished silver thread. She picked it up while trying to control her gleeful expression.
"I suppose this fits on the necklace you gave me for Christmas, but just so you know, you don't have to give me jeweler all the time because I'm a girl. Thank you though, it is quite beautiful."
He took another chocolate while blushing and looked away, "You're welcome... and I'll try to remember that, this time."
Attaching the heart pendant to her necklace, Hermione sighed, "Well, I guess I can't delay any longer can I? You deserve to see as many memories as possible tonight. And I'll let you choose any two you want to watch, even if they are embarrassing." She began pulling something out of her mokeskin pouch.
"Watch... your memories? But I thought you said it might be dangerous for me to try legilimency with my condition?"
"It is, but apparently there are easier ways." A wide and shallow stone basin squeezed out of her pouch, seemingly lighter than air the way Hermione held it. She set it down between them gently, and took out a few bottles full of silver mist next.
"This is the Pensieve Dumbledore let me borrow today after he showed me how to use it. I'm not that good at it yet, but it lets you view any memories put into it. So, what do you want to see first?"
"...You're really letting me choose any memory I want to watch?"
Hermione nodded slowly, appearing slightly hesitant at his tone.
"What about at... ten after seven this morning?"
"What happened at seven ten...?" Confusion knitted her brow, until understanding kicked in and her eyes grew wide. "HARRY! You are NOT watching me sho-"
"It's a joke! Only a joke..." He held up his hands in surrender while striving to hold back his laughter. "I'm sorry, I wasn't serious, I promise!"
"How do you even know what time I - no, never mind, I don't even want to know. I thought you might be less childish after losing your memories, but obviously I was mistaken. Now if you don't mind, pick a shared memory, and I might allow it."
Harry couldn't stop from laughing while apologizing, "Sorry - I overheard you complaining - to Sue about how long you had to wait this morning - and I couldn't help paying you back - for putting slippers on my ears."
Hermione rolled her eyes.
He finally got control again, "Alright, what about our meeting in the Ravenclaw library at the start of school? You seemed to skip over a lot when I asked about it before."
Squeezing her eyes shut in mortification, Hermione dropped her head, sighed, and reluctantly agreed, "Fine... we might as well get it over with." Then pulled out another prepared bottle.
The entire night before curfew was spent diving into fuzzy memories of the past. Most of which were embarrassing for all involved, even their former selves. Harry remembered much, but not more than he saw. It left him extremely happy walking back to his dorm, still wanting more, and having an idea of how to get it.