“She—she didn't really say she would transfigure the chairs into—giant—candles, did she?” Ginny asked as she rolled around in the grass, breathless with laughter, her face as red as a tomato and her eyes streaming with tears.
Draco wanted to laugh at her antics—mirthfully, not disparagingly—but he refused to allow himself to lose his grasp on his composure. She may not have cared if she was acting like an idiot, but he certainly did. Either way, he couldn't stop his lips from turning up into a smile. No one had listened to him or laughed at a story he had told in such a long time. Since Monday at least.
“She absolutely did,” he assured her. “I mean, can you imagine it?”
Ginny stared up at the boughs of the tree under which they were lounging (well, Draco was sitting with his back ramrod straight; Ginny was the one splayed out on her back on the ground), her hand held to her mouth as if to impede her giggles, even though her shoulders still shook every now and then. Draco could tell that she was trying to picture a room filled with candles the size of tree stumps and an amorous couple in the middle of the room expelling words of passion.
But then he was imagining such a scene, and laughter was erupting from his mouth before he could hold it back. Ginny only laughed harder at seeing Draco lose control, and then both of them looked quite idiotic sitting under a tree near the lake, their bodies convulsing against their will.
What did it matter if anyone saw them being all chummy and acting like heathens? Draco would wake up the next morning with a clean slate, no one realizing that he and Ginny spent more time together than anyone would have believed. Not that they were all chummy or anything. They argued a lot—or Draco would provoke Ginny just to make her angry—and some days they didn't even speak to each other, just took walks outside the castle. But it was different taking a silent walk with someone, compared to being alone, because Draco knew that if the urge to speak came to him that she would be there to hear what he had to say (whether she liked it or not). Alone, he could only speak to the trees and the grass, to the gray skies and the slow rumbles of thunder.
Somehow, word always seemed to get around that he and Ginny were in each other's company. On an almost daily basis, Ron Weasley had stumbled across them, stared as if he couldn't believe his eyes, and then tried to punch Draco. He and Ginny could go anywhere and her brother would always find them, unless they spent the day in the Come and Go room, which they had done for a couple Tuesdays. But they didn't like staying locked up in a room, so they made sure to venture out to other parts of the castle or the grounds.
Ginny's body was still, the laughter of minutes ago now in control. Draco was watching how the sun's light played with the color in her hair when she groaned and sat up.
“Incoming,” she muttered.
Stomping down a sloping hill towards them was the other Weasley, the expression on his face changing from astonishment to outrage when he met Draco's eyes. Draco pulled himself to his feet, surreptitiously drawing his wand as he did so.
“W-what is this?” the git asked when he met them under the tree. “Ginny... since when did you... How long have you and...”
“It's not like that, Ron,” Ginny said, climbing to her feet herself now.
“What else could it be?” he replied, his arms stretched out, framing the scenario. His eyes suddenly narrowed on Draco, and Draco knew what was coming, because it wasn't the first time he had heard it. “Unless you are behind this.”
“I'm not sure I know what you mean,” Draco replied, picking a piece of lint off his robes.
“You've... you've done something to her! Why would she be with you otherwise?”
“Maybe because she wants to be, Weasley. I'm sure she knows how to make her own decisions.”
“Not if you've got her under an enchantment!”
Draco saw Ginny slap her forehead and groan, and Draco was equally as unimpressed as she.
“Ron,” she said slowly, putting her hand on her brother's shoulder and shaking it a little, as if to put some sense into him. “I'm not under a spell or a potion or anything like that. You should just leave it alone. You'll forget this by tomorrow.”
The oaf's mouth opened and closed, unintelligible, but outraged sounds issuing forth. Finally, he took his sister's arm and pulled her away from Draco, turning her so that both of their backs were to him. He tried to whisper, but the Slytherin heard every word.
“How long has this really been going on?” he asked her. “I was willing to forgive you yesterday, but this is... fraternizing with the enemy, this is!”
Draco's eyes narrowed at the back of Weasley's orange head at the same time that Ginny's mouth fell open in shock and her eyes widened.
“Y-yesterday? What do you mean yesterday? We... we were never together yesterday...” she said.
“I already caught you! You can't deny it!” At her uncomprehending look, he sighed and gripped her arm tighter. “Remember? I saw you leaving the Room of Requirement together. You assured me that you hadn't been doing anything, but with your track record—”
“My track record?” She and Draco hadn't been spending time with each other for very long, but he knew the danger of that tone in her voice. It normally preceded heavy spell-fire. “What do you mean 'my track record'?”
For a moment her brother was cowed, but his anger swelled up again, and he forgot to whisper.
“I mean the way you and your past boyfriends could be found all over the castle snogging in dark corners! I'm not stupid enough to believe you hadn't been doing anything in the Room of Requirement yesterday! I just can't believe you would do it with him!”
A finger was pointed at Draco, who looked down at the ground and then at the tree, pretending he wasn't blatantly listening.
“How do you even know about yesterday? You aren't supposed to remember anything about it! What else do you remember?”
Ron's anger slowly dissipated, but confusion grew in its place.
“I... Don't be silly. Yesterday was... you know... yesterday. Things... happened.”
As he tried to remember the previous day, Draco met Ginny's eyes. This was strange. It was clear that her brother remembered their encounter the previous Tuesday, but he didn't seem to remember anything else about it. The loss of memory—or trying to squeeze that encounter into his memories of Monday—confused him.
Had Weasley somehow gotten pulled into the time loop, too? Or was it... fading?
“Come on, Malfoy,” Ginny said, grabbing Draco's hand and pulling him away from the tree.
“HEY! You can't sneak away that easily! Ginevra Molly Weasley, get back here!”
He was ignored as the two went back up to the castle.
“Where are we going?” Draco asked as she led him upstairs.
“Remember my theory? We were soaked in the potion, probably absorbed some of it, and maybe that's why we're stuck in this mess. Henry Zimmerman was the only other person to have contact with that potion,” she said.
“But I thought he only inhaled the fumes,” Draco said.
“That's right. He inhaled enough of the fumes to pass out. So maybe the potion is affecting him, too, but maybe not exactly the same way it's affecting us.”
“Your brother didn't have anything to do with that potion,” he pointed out. “How does that explain why he remembers meeting us yesterday?”
She was silent for a few moments before she answered. “It doesn't. I don't understand that either. I don't know why I never thought to talk to Henry though, so we're going to go do that now.”
They didn't stop until they reached the hospital wing. Draco checked his watch. At this point in time he was supposed to be in Potions, so Zimmerman should still be in the hospital wing recovering from inhaling his potion's fumes. Draco reckoned that without Ginny's help—since she hadn't bothered to go to any of her classes for at least two weeks—he would have been in worse shape now than he had been with her help.
“Mr. Malfoy, Miss Weasley! What can I do for you?” Madam Pomfrey asked as they entered the ward.
“We just wanted to see how Henry was doing,” Ginny answered, her voice light and sweet. She widened her eyes so that they were big and round, and her smile matched her tone: saccharine. Draco was rather impressed by the display. It was clear that Madam Pomfrey wanted to bar access to her patient, but one look at Ginny's angelic face and she relented.
“All right. But only for a few minutes.”
“That's all we need,” Ginny muttered between her teeth, her smile still in place.
The matron led them over to the first bed on the right side of the room and then disappeared into her office. Henry Zimmerman's eyes were closed, and his breathing was shallow, his pudgy face the image of peace. His blond hair fell over his forehead, long enough to tickle his eyelids. Ginny took one of his hands in hers and patted it gently.
“Henry? Are you awake?”
One eye popped open, but upon seeing who the visitor was, both eyes blinked. Draco had the idea that Zimmerman had only pretended to be asleep.
“Oh, Ginny. How's it goin'?”
“That's what I came here to ask you,” she replied, smiling slightly.
“Oh, it's fine, I guess. I'm getting tired of this place though. When's lunch?”
Ginny's head tilted as she looked up at Draco. “Have we had lunch?” she asked.
Draco shrugged and shook his head. He couldn't remember having eaten lunch since Monday.
“I think we missed it,” she said to Zimmerman. “Look, I wanted to ask you something, actually.”
“I'm sorry. I've already got a girlfriend, he answered, his face so serious, and Ginny's so shocked, that Draco couldn't hide his snort of amusement.
“No. That's not what I was going to ask.” It amused Draco more to see her scowl. “I was just wondering if you've noticed anything, er, strange happening.”
“Strange like how?” Zimmerman asked. Draco was starting to think that he was dumb as dirt and frowned at the bedridden boy.
“Like... well, like anything. Have you been experiencing a lot of déjà vu? Er, maybe your classes are a little repetitive?”
Zimmerman was already nodding. “Yeah! Yeah! You know, you didn't go to Potions today, but I had this weird feeling that you were supposed to be there, you know? Like... like... Like something was missing.” He nodded solemnly, his eyes wide.
Draco groaned internally, closing his eyes to the idiot.
“Um, I don't think that's what I meant. I mean—”
But Draco was tired of this already and knew they wouldn't get anything useful out of him, so he touched his hand to Ginny's shoulder and jerked his head in the direction of the exit.
Once they were back in the corridor, he said, “He couldn't tell us anything.”
“I dunno. He's not the brightest person, so maybe that was his way of letting us know what was happening.”
“Or maybe he's just not bright. Observant though, isn't he?”
Ginny slapped his arm without heat.
“So what do we do now?”
Draco stopped, remembering one Tuesday morning in particular. “Lovegood,” he said.
“We need to find Lovegood. I have a feeling that she knows what's going on.” At Ginny's dubious stare, he amended, “Well, sort of. Do you know where she is?”
“No. We don't have this period together.”
“That's all right,” Draco replied, walking forward once again. “We can talk to her after dinner.”
He kept an eye on Lovegood during dinner, but he quickly grew impatient as the girl sat staring at the ceiling rather than eating. Zabini kept turning to glare at him as Draco drummed his fingers on the tabletop, disturbing him as he tried to chat up the girl sitting next to him. But finally, Lovegood rose from her seat, and after meeting Ginny's gaze across the Great Hall, Draco stood up to follow.
“Oi, Lovegood!” Draco called in the entrance hall. She stopped and turned around, and if he hadn't been so familiar with her looniness, he would have thought he'd given her the shock of her life.
Ginny had caught up by then, and she eyed the other two students with a mixture of curiosity and shrewdness.
“Oh, hello, Malfoy, Ginny. Can I help you with something?”
“You told me my aura was orange.”
“I did?” And this time, Lovegood looked genuinely surprised.
“Yes, you did. You made it sound like it was rare to see them,” he continued.
“Well, I was right about that.”
“What does orange mean?” Ginny asked, looking first at Draco and then to Lovegood.
“It's just strange,” the blonde replied. “There aren't any orange auras. Very few, anyway. Daddy says—”
“You told me you had seen three,” Draco interrupted, not particularly caring what Daddy says.
“If I said that today, then I would have been wrong,” she replied, and Draco got the distinct impression—from the way she had mentioned 'today'—that she knew something about the time loop. But maybe she didn't. She always said some insane things. That's why people called her Loony.
“I saw four orange auras at breakfast this morning,” she said. “Yours, Ginny's, Ronald's, and Henry's.”
“Henry's?” Ginny repeated breathlessly. “What does that mean?” she asked Draco.
Draco shrugged. “I don't know. But at the beginning of all this, one of the first few Tuesdays, Lovegood told me she saw three orange auras, and now she sees four. Maybe it's connected. These auras and the way your brother remembered yesterday.”
Weasley was looking up at him with such large brown eyes, such trusting, sad eyes. “What should we do?” she asked quietly.
“I... don't know. I don't think we can do anything. Maybe it's wearing off.”
“Hmmmm,” Lovegood hummed. “Now your auras are all sorts of colors. It's kind of hurting my eyes, so I'm going to go now.” She didn't wait for either of them to say goodbye. Just turned and left up the stairs.
“Either it's wearing off,” Ginny said, looking back at Draco with a serious, grim stare, “or it's pulling more people in.”
Leave a Review