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Less than a memory (More than a feeling Part II)

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Chapter 1

June 5th, 1999

Radiant daylight was illuminating the Gryffindor girls’ dorm room when Hermione Granger awoke with a splitting headache. It was clear Ginny and the others had long since departed to have breakfast in the Great Hall, but Hermione wondered why her friend hadn’t woken her. Usually, Hermione was the first one to open her eyes in the morning and was dressed and finished with her morning routine and already pouring over a book by the time the others in the dorm room rose from their beds. Maybe Ginny hadn’t wanted to interrupt her sleep?

Hermione touched her pounding temples and swung her legs out of her bed. She felt as if she had partied all night, although she hadn’t gone out for months. Her N.E.W.T. exams started in June and Hermione was determined to get an ‘Outstanding’ in all of her subjects. Every ‘Exceeds Expectations’ would be a bitter disappointment, and that was enough reason for her to keep her nose buried in her textbooks most of the day.

So why did her head feel like she’d had three bottles of firewhisky last night? Maybe she had studied too long for Potions last night? Hermione couldn’t quite remember when she had gone to bed, but it certainly had gotten late before she had retired to her bed. With a yawn, she shuffled to the bathroom. If she hurried now, there was a good chance to still get a few bites of breakfast, even though she didn’t feel hungry.

When Hermione stood in front of the mirror twenty minutes later, brushing her stubborn, bushy strands, she felt a little better already. Nevertheless, she decided to see Madam Pomfrey after breakfast to get something for her headache. She had a lot to do today and didn’t want to waste any of her time. Hermione cast a quick glance at her study schedule and dropped her brush in shock. Why was she still reviewing Transfiguration? Today was the Fifth of July and according to her plan, she was supposed to have started studying incantations for Potions the day before yesterday.

Hermione blinked unbelievingly when she glanced at her schedule again. How hadn’t she noticed before that she was ten days behind! Since when had she been so negligent? Hermione checked her schedule for possible charms but she didn’t find anything unusual. Which subject had she focused on yesterday?

No matter how hard she tried, Hermione couldn’t remember any spells she had practiced or any books she had read the day before. Had she simply forgotten what had happened during the last few days? Maybe due to the revenge of that sulky Slytherin she had rebuked the other day in her position as a Prefect? However, Hermione did vividly remember a discussion she had had with Ginny on their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts. They had argued about a book from the Forbidden Section that their professor had recommended them for their N.E.W.T. preparations. While Hermione had been quite upset about the inappropriate recommendation, Ginny had been a lot more relaxed about it. “Learning for the N.E.W.T.s is never fun, no matter where the books come from.” Ginny then had asked her if she would like to go to Hogsmeade with her in the afternoon, but Hermione had declined because… because… well, why had she? Probably because she had intended to study for her exams.

Hermione put her brush back on the table with a frown. The idea that she had to catch up on all her subjects in the next few days intensified her headache immensely. With a sigh, she reached into the pocket of her robe and pulled three hairpins out of it to tame her bushy strands. When she fixed the pins with a charm she noticed from the corner of her eye that a piece of parchment had slipped out of her pocket. Maybe a piece of scratch paper when she had written down some incantations for Potions?

Hermione carefully bent down, sparing her head from quick movements, and picked up the paper from the floor. Indeed, she recognized her own handwriting on the parchment but there weren’t any incantations for Potions. Agreement was written in thick letters above a short note. We, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley, hereby declare that we both have agreed to end our relationship and break our engagement. We both think it is better this way. If we still love each other in a few years and still want to get married, we will resume our relationship.. Beyond the note were their two names, both of them signed in their own handwritings.

Hermione numbly sat down on her bed. Ron and her had broken their engagement? What on Earth was going on? Of course she would marry Ron! Well, she hadn’t really brought herself to finally say ‘yes’ yet, but this was only because she doubted more or less everything these days. In less than three weeks she would hold her graduation certificate in her hands, and then she would have to set the course for her future. And one of her points would be marrying Ron.

Very likely, at least. Hermione didn’t feel ready to make such a big decision right now and she felt the same with the rest of her life. Regarding her career, for instance, she was interested in so many different fields, and yet there hadn’t been anything where she felt a wholehearted ‘yes’. Something was missing, and with Ron it was similar. She loved him but something was missing with him, too. Maybe it was because of the stress with the N.E.W.T.s, or maybe it was because of the pure horrors she had experienced last year.

Hermione still dreamt about the war against Voldemort almost every night, and every day she noticed how much that time had changed her. A lot of things she had valued before felt insignificant and useless now. And other things she had barely noticed before suddenly had become very important. How was she supposed to make any decisions in this kind of state? At the moment, she neither felt ready to accept Ron’s proposal, nor did she feel ready to say ‘no’. But even if she had blown off their engagement in the spur of the moment, she couldn’t remember anymore, Ron would have never approved of her decision.

So what was happening here? Why would someone fake her handwriting and plant this document on her? Hermione’s head hurt too much to think about this further and she decided to go downstairs to the Great Hall for breakfast. There would certainly be a chance to send an owl to Ron during the lunch break and they could hopefully sort this out very soon.

Hermione swayed slightly when she rose from the mattress. She felt like staying in bed all day but she was too far behind with her study schedule to allow herself to waste any more time. So she carefully walked down the stairs and unobtrusively sat down next to Ginny in the Great Hall.

“Hermione?“ Ginny turned towards her, a concerned look on her face. “Oh, Merlin, what’s going on with you? Are you alright?“

“I’m okay.“ In slow-motion, Hermione reached for a dry toast. “I’ve felt better, to be honest.“

“I was going to bring some breakfast back to the dorm for you.” Ginny stroked Hermione’s back sympathetically. “Maybe there’s a stomach virus going around, McGonagall looks really pale as well.”

Hermione raised her head and looked at the staff table. Indeed, Professor McGonagall looked a lot like Hermione felt right now. Her normally vigorous movements seemed tired and slowed, and even from the distance Hermione could see dark shadows under her usually vibrant eyes. Hermione watched the Headmistress straighten her shoulders to hide her condition and it seemed her staff didn’t notice anything. But Hermione could sense the heaviness surrounding her former Transfiguration Professor, and suddenly she felt the urgent need to cross the hall and take her into her arms to comfort her.

Hermione choked on her dry toast when a clear image emerged inside of her where she gathered Professor McGonagall into her arms and kissed her forehead. “I think you’re right, Ginny” she croaked, her eyes watery from coughing. “Maybe I’d better go back to bed.”

Something was really, really wrong, but Hermione felt too miserable to find out what it was. Was she losing her mind? She didn’t have any fever so why would she start hallucinating?

“No, I’d better take you to Madam Pomfrey,“ Ginny decided and pulled Hermione up from the bench. “You look awful.”

Hermione didn’t have the energy to protest and let Ginny guide her out of the Great Hall. When she turned around to pass the benches, Professor McGonagall raised her head for a second and looked at her. Hermione couldn’t say anything but the look went right through her. Her knees buckled and she had to reach out for the table to support herself. What the heck was going on with her? Professor McGonagall seemed kind of shocked too, but maybe Hermione had just imagined that.

“Are you okay?“ Ginny linked arms with her. “It’s pretty obvious you’ve caught a virus. You’re white as a sheet.”

 

* * *

 

Two hours later, Hermione sat next to Ginny on one of the wooden school benches, trying to concentrate on Professor Flitwick’s elaborations. Madam Pomfrey had given her a potion that had cured her pain within minutes, and Hermione felt fit enough for the Charms lesson. But although she was feeling better now physically, she still felt worn out and depressed. Her thoughts constantly revolved around the previous days which had mysteriously disappeared from her memory, and around the document in her pocket. She had thoroughly checked it out, and without doubt it was her own handwriting on the parchment. The words had been written in haste, as if she had been in a hurry. If somebody had wanted to fake her handwriting, they probably would have made a greater effort.

“Hey.” Ginny discreetly pushed her elbow into her friend’s ribs. “Did you understand the spell? Flitwick’s hand movement looks exactly like the one used for casting the Confundo spell.”

“What?” Hermione guiltily raised her head. She had missed at least the past ten minutes of the lesson. “You have to perform the movement less expansive, only the swing at the end is more pronounced.” She showed Ginny the movement under the table.

Ginny looked at her with a worried look. “It’s not just a stomach virus, is it?” she asked sympathetically. “There’s something bothering you…”

Hermione reached into her pocket and slid the piece of parchment into Ginny’s lap. Her friend peeked under the table, trying to act as if she was intrigued by Professor Flitwick’s explanations. “Merlin’s Beard, what’s that?” she whispered. “Did you write that?”

Hermione shrugged. “I found it in my pocket.”

“Does Ron know about this?”

“I’m going to send him an owl during lunch today.“ Hermione raised her hand, trying to pretend she was attentively following the lesson. Professor Flitwick wouldn’t pick her anyway since many students had to improve their grades before entering the N.E.W.T.s. Indeed, the short Professor called on Seamus Finnigan, who usually rarely uttered a word in the classroom, now got the chance to answer a question even a First-Year could have answered. Like Hermione, he had to repeat the seventh year, not for having been away for so long, but rather because the Carrow siblings had punished him so severely that he hadn’t been able to go to classes for several months.

“That’s really weird.” Ginny’s face was sprinkled with red spots. “Did you have a fight?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“You don’t remember anything about this?” Ginny sent Professor Flitwick a charming smile when he looked at her disapprovingly.

“Sometimes in the practical part of the exams students confuse their hand movement with the Confundo spell.” Professor Flitwick hopped from his pile of books. “I recommend you practice the Homenum Revelio charm diligently, so that you won’t confuse the examiner instead of making a concealed person visible.”

“Hermione, look…” Ginny pointed at the window a few inches above Professor Flitwick’s head. “Isn’t that Ron’s owl?”

Now Hermione saw it, too. An excited Pigwidgeon hovered in front of the window, impatiently bouncing against the pane. When the class started to giggle, Professor Flitwick turned around and opened the window with a swish of his wand so that Pig, who had just started another attempt to dash against the window, whooshed into the classroom like an oversized bullet and eventually crashed onto Hermione’s table where he remained lying motionlessly for several moments.

“It would be nice if Mr. Weasley’s owl would also stick to the prohibition of mail delivery during class,” Professor Flitwick stated disgruntledly before he continued his demonstration. Ginny had picked up the small animal to examine it for injuries, but as soon as Pig lay in her hand he angrily started to flap his wings and hopped on Hermione’s lap.

Hermione, who felt embarrassed for interrupting the class lesson, removed Ron’s message from Pig’s small leg. When she unrolled the parchment under her table she realized that it was the same document she had found in her pocket this morning. There was a short note attached to the parchment: I found this piece of parchment in my pocket. Do you have any idea what this is about? I’ll drop by at Hogwarts tonight, so we can talk. I’ll be at the gate at 6:30 pm. Ron. P.S. Harry will join me. He misses Ginny.

Hermione handed the note to Ginny under the table. She grinned happily when she read that Harry would accompany Ron. “We’re going to leave for the gate right after dinner,” she whispered, helping Hermione tie a quick response to Pig’s leg.

Hermione gave Ron’s owl a gentle pat before it flew back through the still open window with loud clamor. Professor Flitwick closed the window without another comment. Of course he hadn’t missed the whispering at Hermione’s table, but since she usually was his most attentive student he seemed to give her a pass on her lack of attention today.

The fact that Ron had found the same message in his robes made this issue even more mysterious. It didn’t look like a simple schoolboy prank. Ron was in London where he was completing his Auror training together with Harry. How could it be that he had found the same document in his pocket?

After Charms, Hermione and Ginny went straight to the Gryffindor common room and inspected the two documents more thoroughly. “The two parchments are completely identical.” Ginny rubbed her strained neck when she straightened her back again. “I’d say, one of these is the original, the other one is a copy.”

“It’s undoubtedly my own handwriting.” Hermione massaged her temples with both hands. Since their Charms lesson, the hammers in her head had returned. “You can’t just fake it like that.”

“Exactly.” Ginny took the document that Ron had found. “You usually write like this when you’re in a hurry.” She pointed at a few hastily spelled consonants.

“Let’s wait for Ron and Harry,” Hermione suggested, putting both documents back in her pocket. “I can’t think straight anymore and need to see Madam Pomfrey again.”

When Hermione reappeared at the Hospital Wing so shortly after her first visit, Madam Pomfrey recommended her to stay at the infirmary for the next 24 hours, but Hermione declined. The sooner she got some answers to her questions the sooner she would get better. In part, her headache might have to do with a nagging concern that had crept up on her during the day. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that she still hadn’t consented to Ron’s proposal. Maybe it actually wasn’t a good idea to marry him. Hermione often used to shake her head when other students told her about romantic evenings at the lake, about passionate kisses and butterflies in their stomachs. It seemed that it just wasn’t like her, not to mention like Ron. Ron was simply Ron, and you had to accept him as he was.

Basically, there wasn’t any urgent reason to make a commitment so early in her life. Hermione was just about to get her N.E.W.T.s, and who knew what life still had in store for her. How valuable was her engagement if a simple document could unsettle her like that? Involuntarily, Hermione thought of the moment at breakfast when she had suddenly imagined wrapping her arms around the tired Professor McGonagall. She had felt such tenderness for the Headmistress that the image alone warmed her entire body. Apparently, the examination stress was too much for her nerves, now she was fantasizing being a close friend to the Headmistress. Maybe even more than that.

From her first day at school, Hermione had been developing a secret crush on the strict Head of Gryffindor which she had come to accept as a simple school girl crush. But today it had been different from the usual. It had felt so real, so… authentic. Hermione shook her head again to get rid of the image. The most important thing was that she started to learn all the subject material she had failed to study for whatever reason. Therefore, she spent the afternoon bending over her books without being able to really concentrate on them. The hours crept by, until it was finally evening.

Hermione avoided looking at the staff table during dinner and focused on her soup and the upcoming meeting with Ron and Harry. In her mind, she had already made a list with questions she wanted to discuss with them.

“It wouldn’t hurt if Harry showed his face here more often.” Ginny wiped her mouth with a napkin. “He only drops by when something’s up.”

“Ron wrote that Harry misses you. He could have stayed in London instead, you know,” Hermione cheered her up and wondered at the same time why she didn’t feel like Ginny did. She had never wished for Ron to come more often. She was happy when she saw him, but when he stayed in London, she was usually so busy that she didn’t think much about him. Was this normal? Maybe they just weren’t the newly enamored couple anymore since they knew each other for so long. Harry and Ginny on the other hand, hadn’t seen each other most of the time in the previous year.

Ginny sighed deeply. “Auror training is so much more exciting than boring, old school. No wonder the boys don’t think much about us.”

Hermione felt she had had enough excitement for the rest of her life and was quite content with the hardly varying school routine. Studying distracted her from her memories of the war, and it felt safe and familiar. But Ginny wouldn’t understand that. Yes, she also had had a very difficult time after Fred’s death, like all Weasleys, but Ginny wouldn’t keep herself grounded with studying.

“Let’s go outside,” Ginny suggested. “The sun is shining, and we’ve spent the whole day in these cold walls.”

On their way out of the Great Hall, Hermione accidentally bumped into Professor McGonagall of all people, who had left dinner early as well. The Headmistress faltered and Hermione grabbed her arm to keep her from falling.

“Miss Granger.” The apologetic look the Headmistress cast at her caused small waves in Hermione’s stomach. “Please excuse my inattentiveness. I was lost in thought.”

“Me too.” Hermione gave her an encouraging smile. When Professor McGonagall mirrored her gesture, a heatwave shot through Hermione’s body and she hastily stepped back. “Have a nice evening, Professor,” she said quickly and turned to go.

”You too, Miss Granger. Enjoy the evening sun.”

Ginny had followed their interaction open-mouthed. “Enjoy the evening sun?” she repeated in a whisper, following Hermione to the heavy oak doors of the entrance hall. “What’s going on with McGonagall? First, she doesn’t see you, now she encourages you to appreciate life? Maybe she’s got a virus, too?”

Hermione avoided Ginny’s gaze. “I think it’s warm enough to be outside without jackets,” she said, striding on the grass. It was a beautiful, mild spring evening, almost summer, and the two friends sat down on a big stone near the gate to the grounds of Hogwarts.

“I hope Ron will bring us the rest of Mum’s banana cake.” Ginny lazily blinked into the evening sun. “She invited some friends last week, and I’m sure there’s some cake left.”

“Molly’s banana cake is the best,” Hermione agreed. “But her rhubarb pie is even yummier.”

“Don’t tell her that,” Ginny grinned. “Otherwise, you will drown in rhubarb pie for the next year.”

“I can imagine worse.” Hermione was glad to hear that Molly Weasley had started inviting people to the Burrow again. After Fred’s death, she had secluded herself from her friends and didn’t want to have anything to do with other people. Yet, she had started to return to life eventually and had taken up old habits again.

A loud pop interrupted their conversation and a second later Ron and Harry stood in front of them. “You look like two mermaids waiting for their mermen,” Ron greeted them, giving Hermione a kiss on her cheek, while Harry took Ginny into his arms.

“I prefer wizards like you.“ Ginny pressed a kiss on Harry’s lips.

“You too, I hope,” Ron turned towards Hermione. “This weird agreement must be a cheap joke.”

“That’s what I told Hermione,” Ginny agreed. “Did you ask George if he had anything to do with it?”

Ron nodded. “It’s not his style, but I asked him anyway. He assured me he didn’t do anything.”

“I have to show you something, Ron.” Hermione pulled both parchments out of her robes. “I found the same document in my pocket this morning.”

Ron stared at the two parchments with wide eyes. “Do you have a suitor somewhere who wants to separate us?” he asked, shaking his head. “Looks like somebody pulled a bad prank on you.”

“It’s clearly my handwriting,” Hermione explained worriedly. “Somebody is either very good at forging, or they made me writing this down.”

“And then they cast a memory charm on you?” Ron frowned skeptically.

“In that case, they had to cast one on you too, Ron.” Ginny pointed out. “Obviously, you also signed this document but don’t remember it either.”

“Maybe we should find out if Hermione copied the document herself,” Harry mused. “It would make it more likely that she was also the one who wrote it.”

“Are you speaking of Prior Incantato? Hermione hesitated. “I thought about that too, but…”

“Are you guys out of your minds?“ Ginny rolled her eyes. “You do realize we’re learning for the exams at the moment, don’t you? Hermione’s wand casts more than a hundred spells every day. How do you want to figure out which ones had to do with the exam preparations and which ones hadn’t?”

“The order will help us.” Reluctantly, Hermione pulled out her wand. “It’s kind of an effort, but I think we’ll be able to detect if a spell doesn’t match with the others.”

“Have fun then,” Ginny scoffed and lay down on her rock, pointedly sunbathing. “This could take a while.”

Unlike an hour ago, Hermione suddenly felt a surprisingly weak motivation to get the bottom of her amnesia, but Harry and Ron insisted. They didn’t have many options to find out the truth, but this strategy could at least help them to find some kind of clue. “Prior Incantato”, Harry said loudly, and all three of them stepped back as Hermione’s wand moved back and forth. It looked as if it were dancing while it revealed every spell Hermione had performed over the last few days in the reverse order.

“Being your wand is pretty tough,” Ron muttered. “It never ever gets a break…”

He choked on the rest of his sentence when Hermione’s wand performed two Obliviate spells in a row. Hermione had also paled. She couldn’t remember the majority of the spells, and the two memory charms were a mystery to her, too. Afterwards, a series of Transfiguration spells followed and then charms for other subjects Hermione had apparently practiced, but she couldn’t remember any of those either. Obviously, she had indeed been studying for the last few days, but it had all vanished from her memory as if it had never happened.

Hermione had barely recovered from her shock when the wand performed several memory charms again. Four, to be exact. And directly afterwards it danced the Geminospell they had been looking for. Even Ginny widened her eyes in surprise when the doubling charm hissed through the air. Had Hermione actually made the duplicate of the agreement herself, or had she made a copy of something entirely different? And why had she performed six memory spells over the last few days?

When Hermione’s wand started to perform all charms that were required for the Defense Against The Dark Art exams, Harry intervened and cancelled the procedure. “Okay…,” he said slowly. “Something is definitely wrong.”

“Why did you use all these memory spells and don’t remember them?“ Ron asked, confused.

“That’s obvious, isn’t it?“ Hermione responded, irritated about his slow-wittedness. “Because somebody else cast the Obliviate spell on me. Something must have happened that obviously nobody is supposed to remember.”

Harry sat down on the rock next to Ginny. “So we’re dealing with at least seven memory charms here. Six of them were cast by Hermione. But only the two last of the memory charms seemed to have been performed yesterday. The other four date back further behind, as well as the doubling charm.”

“Ginny,” Ron turned to his sister. “Have you noticed anything unusual about Hermione lately?“

“No.” Ginny shook her head. “Only that she looked as if she hadn’t slept for a week this morning. But she had caught a stomach virus, so…” She went quiet. “Well, if it was a virus,” she added thoughtfully.

“And the days before yesterday?“ Ron probed.

“I don’t know.“ Ginny shrugged, slightly irritated. “You can’t expect me to remember every tiny little detail. I have to focus on my exams after all.”

Her remark made Hermione look up. “An important side effect of the memory charm is that you forget you have forgotten something,” she explained. “One gives vague answers and subconsciously avoids thinking about the issue any further. An amnesia of the amnesia Professor Flitwick called it once.”

“Are you saying I could be one of the people you cast the Obliviate spell on?” Ginny asked in surprise.

Harry walked to his girlfriend. “Tell us about your last couple of days in detail. What do you remember?”

“Have you been together with Hermione the whole day?“ Ron asked.

“Look who’s talking, Ron,” Ginny scoffed. “You found the same document as Hermione after all. So it’s pretty obvious you two must have met somehow.”

Ron looked at Harry, who looked at Hermione. “Ginny’s right,” Hermione said eventually. “We all should try to track back our last few days.”

“Yes, the three of us should check our wands, too,” Harry agreed. “I know it’s a lot of work, but it’s the only way to get more information.”

They spent the next few hours checking each of their wands with the Prior Incantato charm, without any resounding success, though. At least they knew now that none of the other three had performed a memory charm, and that Ron had cast an Accio spell several times without remembering it. That had however been at least three days ago.

When they went over to back track their last couple of days, it was already getting dark and they had to lighten their wands as they wrote down all of their memories from the last few days. It turned out that Ron, Harry and Ginny were able to describe the previous day entirely, but Hermione couldn’t.

“I remember you told me yesterday that you had to go to the Hospital Wing,” Ginny said suddenly. “You said you were taking care of someone there.”

“At the Hospital Wing?” Ron raised his eyebrows. “Then we should pay Madam Pomfrey a visit.”

Hermione felt a strange resistance against Ron’s suggestion which told her they were on the right track. “Yes, we should,” she agreed. “I’m wondering if there had been a day when the four of us had been at Hogwarts. And whether it was the same day when Ron performed those multiple Accio charms he can’t remember.”

Harry ran his fingers through his thick black hair which looked even messier than usual. “It’s likely that the three of us received Hermione’s memory charm. But what about the other three?”

Hermione looked at him in horror. The idea that she might have cast a spell on her friends dismayed her. Even though she probably had had a good reason for it, it made her feel ashamed.

“Do you think there’s a connection between Hermione’s visits at the Hospital Wing and this mysterious issue?“ Ginny asked.

“Of course, otherwise she would remember what she did at the Hospital Wing.” Ron stepped to Hermione who stared dead ahead, deep in thought. “I think a patient from the future visited Hogwarts and turned Hermione’s head. That’s why she wrote that agreement. And when he returned to his own time she cast an Obliviate spell on all of us so that we wouldn’t remember anything about the future. Before the guy traveled back, he cast an Obliviate charm on Hermione as well.” He put his arm around Hermione in an effort to comfort her. “Luckily, she’s back in her right mind now.”

“That doesn’t explain why you signed the agreement, too.” Ginny made no secret about how far-fetched she considered Ron’s theory. “And it doesn’t explain why Hermione doesn’t remember anything she learned for the N.E.W.T.s. in the course of the last days.”

“Exactly.” Harry nodded. “Actually we don’t know anything. Except from the fact that we obviously shouldn’t remember something that might possibly be associated with something that happened at the Hospital Wing. Or maybe it wasn’t.”

Ginny stood up and hugged her dejected friend. “There’s no reason for you to feel guilty,” she told Hermione. “I’m sure you had a good reason.”

“We should ask Madam Pomfrey next.“ Ron rolled up the parchment where they had written down their memories of the last days. It was dark by now, and Hermione and Ginny had to go back to their dorm.

“Was there anyone else who behaved somewhat strangely in the last couple of days?” asked Harry who wasn’t ready to give up yet.

Immediately the tired face of Professor McGonagall came to Hermione’s mind, but she knew better than to say that aloud. Her heart beat faster as she put her wand back into her robes, trying to think of something else.

“McGonagall“, Ginny responded with a look at Hermione. “She seemed unusually distracted recently, but it was even worse today. During breakfast, she was pale as death.” Ginny giggled. “Maybe it was just a stomach virus, though.”

“Then we should not only pay Madam Pomfrey a visit, but Professor McGonagall as well,” Harry decided.

“I don’t know, Harry.” Ginny slid her small hand into his bigger one. “If it has anything to do with the future, maybe we shouldn’t investigate further. We didn’t get our memory charms for nothing.”

“Are you kidding me?“ Ron protested. “This crap is responsible for the fact that my fiancée suddenly felt the need to break up with me! Or I with her, whatever. I want to sort this out once and for all, otherwise it will stick with us forever.”

Hermione felt torn between Ginny’s and Ron’s arguments. She felt a strange fear to get to the bottom of this, but like Ron, she knew the document would always linger between them if they didn’t know what had led to it.

Eventually Hermione’s curiosity won out. She hated not to be able to understand something. Even though it would mean a big fat rebuke from the Headmistress, Hermione needed to know what had happened within the last several days that had had such an impact on her life. It wasn’t just about the agreement, it was also about her reaction to it. Why was she so easily shaken by this? And why couldn’t she get rid of the feeling that something meaningful had happened that she couldn’t remember? “Ginny and I have to go back,” she said to Ron and Harry. “Can you come back tomorrow evening? Then, we can go to the Hospital Wing and to the Headmistress’s office together.”

“We’ll be there as soon as we finished our training,” Ron promised, kissing her cheek. “Don’t worry so much, Hermione.”

“Easier said than done.” She kissed his cheek back.

When the four friends said their goodbyes, Hermione had already counted the hours till they would meet again to continue their research. Thanks to Madam Pomfrey’s potion, the headache had almost subsided, but she still had a restless night ahead of her nevertheless.