Team: Team Slash
Length: ~3400 words
Summary: Ron wakes in front of a mirror with no memory and works against time to realize that he, and everything, is there for a reason.
Author notes: This is a bit different than what I usually write, but it was great fun to take on this challenge. Go Team Slash! Deep and humble thanks to misscake, ricktboy, & thrihyrne for their beta help — thrihyrne in particular for some particularly helpful insight (and the title). ♥
harry/ron, pg13, ~3400 words
He blinks once and forgets everything.
Knowing, clear, blue eyes blink back at him, then suddenly fade into something almost recognisable.
He turns away from a mirror and thinks, where am I?
Looking around, he sees one over-large room: a kitchenette with a table, a well-worn, plush maroon sofa in front of a coffee table and large fireplace, and a small bed in the corner with a bedroll he thinks he might know.
On the coffee table, there is a notebook: black, wire bound, nondescript. He opens it and flips through it idly page by page, then a bit more quickly. He doesn't know where he is — who he is — and he for sure hasn't figured out what's going on. Maybe this notebook has the information he needs. It has to because (he thinks) he couldn't possibly have no clues around to show who he is. By the time he reaches the middle, he's flipping almost frantically, eyes scouring every inch of every page for a clue, but every page is blank.
Disappointment swells inside him, and his eyes prick. All of a sudden his jaw feels heavy and tart and way too big for his mouth. Pressure builds up inside him and two choked sobs escape before he presses the heels of his hands to his eyes and swears. He lies down on the sofa and stares at the ceiling through blurred vision.
So, maybe he's a bloody girl, then.
When he wakes, he's Ron. He feels it now, through sweat and blood and the hidden scent of knowledge deeply buried. He can taste it with everything he's nearly forgot. Ron.
Now he just has to figure out whatever the hell that means.
He wasn't always Ron, though. He can remember: "hey you" and "oi, Ron!" and "Weasley" — which feels sort of significant. Once he was even: "ginger-hair, over there," which strikes him now as rather odd, as no one really calls blokes that — not like a nickname. Why he knows that and seemingly nothing else is beyond him, but that's something he knows. No one calls blokes ginger-hair.
Oh! Though, he's also rather sure he's a bloke, ill-timed erections and all. He's had six erections in the past few hours. Maybe in his real life he's a rentboy or something.
Wouldn't that be just brilliant.
Well, at least he knows how to be sarcastic. That's got to count for something.
The second day (it must be, because there was night and now it's light again), he wakes determined to figure some things out. He figures he's not someone that just sits idly by and lets things happen to him.
Light streams into the room through three windows and he (Ron!) stands in the center and turns in a slow circle, examining the room through a squint. He figures he should be methodical about this, so he picks up the notebook from the table and sets about making a list with little boxes that he can mark when he's completed each of them.
For the first time, a grey, hazy memory tickles his mind and he looks around curiously. He can't quite access it, can't actually see anything, but there's a definite feeling to it.
Ron looks down at the list (in his best handwriting, no less!) and has a strong feeling that someone he used to know would approve of this method. He smiles and keeps going.
Two hours later he's discovered five things: a series of tally marks on the wall above the bed, frayed edges of paper in the notebook, a long, thin stick that appears to be well worn, some charred remains of paper in the fireplace, and a fucking brilliant looking sword stashed under his bed.
He isn't sure about the stick, but he's quite sure the charred remains in the fireplace were torn from the notebook. It seems like someone doesn't want him to know what's going on. There's plenty of firewood, so it couldn't have been used to keep warm.
This makes him uneasy, so Ron walks over to the bed and sits, drawing his knees up and hugging them to his chest as he examines the marks on the wall. They seem almost as though someone had been marking off days, counting down to something — or up.
Ron reaches under the bed for the sword and starts his own row of marks: two, for now. He'll add another one tomorrow morning if he hasn't yet figured out what's going on.
Plus, he needs a reason to try out that sword.
By the end of the second day, he's still discovered nothing in this tiny house other than food, but little things have begun to haunt the edges of his mind. It feels a bit like 'tip of the tongue' syndrome, but they seem to be floating above him somehow. He sometimes has the feeling if he could just turn his head at the right time, he'll catch an actual image of something that will trigger the buried memories and bring them to the surface.
So, he tries.
He tries so hard he wakes up on the third day with a crick in his neck.
The crick in his neck isn't getting any better, nor is his memory, so on the third morning, he takes matters into his own hands after breakfast.
He figures, well, he might as well learn about who he is and what he looks like. Maybe there is something that'll finally bring him out of this amnesia.
So, he disrobes and goes to stand in front of the full length mirror. He immediately flushes and looks away. It takes a full eight seconds before he can look back at himself and he tries to do so unflinchingly. Damn, but he has a lot of freckles. A whole mess of them, really: covering his arms and legs and shoulders. Wow. He wonders if anyone else has ever seen him like this and what they actually thought.
The first (real) thing he notices is a small tattoo on the left side of his chest, an arrow. He steps forward to examine it and as he does, it shimmers slightly then turns and points to the left. Ron gasps and steps away from the mirror.
Bloody fucking hell, what just happened?
He takes a deep breath and steps back. Sure enough, the tattoo is now pointing to his left so Ron lifts his arm and turns slowly around. He doesn't see anything until he's fully turned, then he sees words tattooed on his left shoulder blade. He can read the letters — it appears to have been written backward — but he doesn't know what it says, because it appears to be in another language:
servo supremus totus
Just as he's about to sigh and go add it to another page in the notebook, Ron whispers 'protect above all others' and then starts in surprise. If it's another language, how in the hell does he even know?
What is he supposed to protect, anyway? And how exactly is he supposed to protect it? Ron glances across the room at the sword and nods to himself, then smiles widely. Probably that sword would be a pretty damn good start. A quick image of him wielding the sword proudly and with lithe splendour flashes through his mind and Ron knows he'd look quite brilliant, really, using that sword. He glances back over his shoulder into the mirror once more before turning around to examine his front.
Christ, even his arse is covered with freckles. What gives? It's like he's a fucking drop cloth.
After a brief lunch, Ron is back in front of the mirror again. This time he can't take his eyes off of a series of scars running up and down his arms. They're deep — not particularly angry, though — and still sharp enough on the edges that he suspects they're only a couple of years old.
He wonders what sort of injury would give him scars like this.
Oddly, in the mirror, he can see a fuzzy outline. There appears to be a door on the wall near his bed, but each time he turns around to look at it closely, it isn't there.
He's probably just imagining things. Or some other half-cocked explanation he can't bloody remember.
In the middle of the night, Ron wakes in a fright and he reaches immediately for the notebook. His fingers fly over the paper, sketching images of some... thing wrapped around him and sucking his thoughts, of five others in a room with him, just as afraid.
The likenesses are probably all wrong, and Ron is no artist, but the images in front of him pierce his mind so much that he can feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up. This is no dream.
It's a memory.
On day four, Ron is a man possessed. He's written down everything he can remember (three pages so far), drawn a rough sketch of the sword, and written down every possible use he can think of for the carved stick he found that first day.
He carries it with him now, thinking that maybe the feel of it will trigger another memory or something.
Pacing around the room, Ron mutters to himself, sort of reciting anything he can think of that someone could use a carved stick for. His ideas get more and more outlandish: summoning creatures from the great beyond! shoving it up your arse if you swing that way (but the idea doesn't disgust him quite so much as he'd thought, so he quickly thinks of another); convincing young children it's a very still, new sort of animal.
The more he paces, the more involved he gets, until he's not even looking where he's going and he trips on the foot of the sofa, tangling his ankle and falling roughly, directly at the sharp edge of the coffee table... oh god, he's going to whack himself right between the eyes and kill himself before he can even remember when he last had a shag, but—
He holds out the stick and mutters something he barely remembers and suddenly the coffee table is a giant pillow.
A giant... pillow?
He doesn't get up for a long time; is almost afraid to, actually. What exactly has he just discovered? Did he do magic? Is he seeing things? Has the coffee table been a pillow all this time, but he just couldn't see it?
Maybe he's delusional, because...
Because well... whoa.
It finally occurs to him to try it out again. He holds the stick (maybe a... wand?) out in front of him and says, "er... coffee table, please?" But nothing happens. Something inside him tells him his mother would at least have been pleased that he was polite — which is sort of comforting, as he hasn't had any memory of her yet.
He tries again: "form of... a coffee table!"
Maybe it needs to be in that other language, so Ron tries to make it sound vaguely like the other words he's said: "Um... tableus coffeeus!" Except now he's pretty sure even the pillow is laughing at him.
Great. So now he's an amnesiac with personified furniture smarter than he is.
On the fifth day, Ron wakes with tears in his eyes and the taste of want on his lips. The dream had been so bloody vivid: bodies tangled and panting, firm lips surrounding his cock, candlelight flickering over sweat-slick skin. He wants to reach down and take hold of himself, shut his eyes and stay tethered to the last vestiges of the dream, but something stops him.
It hadn't been just sex.
He could feel the tightening inside him, feel his body churning with desire. But there was something more. That simple, utter comfort... the sense of sheer, unbridled trust... the willingness to look like an absolute fool in front of someone you... love.
Ron curls onto his side and bites his knuckle. It's a hell of a lot of information to devour all at once. He hadn't really expected things to come back with such feeling. How exactly is he going to be able to handle it if his other memories are as weighty as this? What if he can't handle it? No one could possibly feel that many things at once — they'd explode!
Unless... maybe that's normal?
Well, at the very least he can pretend it's normal. So, he closes his eyes again, tries to let his mind go blank and let things filter back in.
The dawn has barely started to light the window and the warmth makes everything hazy around him. After several deep, slow breaths, he feels trust welling up inside him and Ron finally starts to believe that things will come back when he's ready for them.
And they do.
Memories surround him like the warmth of the rising sun: filling the spaces within him that blood vessels don't reach, cloaking his body in the certainty of protection that he hadn't felt before.
Ron sees green eyes, heavy and trusting; sees a scar, not unlike his own, both softened and jagged against pale skin. He can see everything.
And in the waxing warmth of morning, Ron opens his eyes and breathes one word. Reverently.
The dreams come rapidly now: seven or eight at a time.
Ron dreams about giant chessboards and being struck down for a greater purpose; he dreams of potions bubbling in the middle of an abandoned loo. He can see giant spiders carrying him upside down, and fallen rock surrounding him and a man equally robbed of his memory. Other dreams bring visions of a rat turning into a man, a giant maze of shrubbery, and flying through the night sky on an invisible horse. When he dreams of fighting angry, hooded people, Ron even wakes with acrid smoke stinging his throat.
He wakes after every one with a renewed sense of purpose: sketching, writing, even recording feelings or just a sense he had. Things are flowing back into him like water-drenched skin on a sunny day, but they're still disjointed somehow.
Ron feels like he has all the pieces of a puzzle, but just isn't smart enough to put them all together.
When he wakes now, he knows his family, Hogwarts, his best friend in the world, and the girl he'd loved and lost through no fault of anyone's but fickle, private matters of the heart. Ron clutches the bed sheet against his waist and remembers year after year of his life: of growing up the youngest boy with the least to offer, of being chosen as a friend for the first time ever, of exhilarating first snogs and embarrassing seconds.
He feels the sting of arguments, the joy in victory, and the meticulous, nearly completely successful task of finding and destroying all of the remaining Horcruxes, save one.
Which is where his mind stops. He can feel the missing piece like an amputated limb; it moves and twists just out of reach, and every time he almost has it, it slips back into the air like a wisp of smoke.
Just... why can't he remember? What could possibly have happened to make him forget this? Did he betray someone?
Oh, god, did he betray Harry?
His mind whirls now, memories flash and dance in front of his eyes until Ron can't even make sense of it. He feels like it's a test somehow, a series of things that he has to remember, else he's going to fail and never get his memory back.
In the middle of the room, with his feet firmly planted, Ron presses his hands over his eyes and opens his mind as much as he can; he has to catch everything now, or else it might be gone forever.
After several minutes, Ron starts to feel dizzy; his knees shake and he's swaying slightly on his feet, but wills himself to stand. He has to— oh god, he can't keep his balance.
His knees buckle and Ron has one last, futile thought before he falls to the floor, his head bouncing once as it cracks against the floor:
Pounding on the wall rouses him and Ron springs from the floor without a thought to the intense ache in his head.
He looks around with vivid, knowing eyes now. It's not a wall; it's a door. It's a door just opposite the phantom door he thought he'd seen before, that's only visible now that he does remember...
—that the final Horcrux can only be destroyed by a potion simmered for two days past a fortnight—
—that Harry kissed him, then disappeared (with a cauldron and a satchel full of ingredients) behind the door that disappeared as soon as Ron whispered the Fidelius charm—
—the sheer panic when Ron realized what might happens if the Death Eaters were able to break into his mind—
Ron starts badly when all of the things he'd discovered six days ago finally complete his puzzle: the marks on the wall, the charred remains of pages from the notebook. It all finally, finally, makes sense. The pounding on the wall grows louder now, fiercer even, and Ron knows what he has to do.
In three steps, he's retrieved the sword and holds it lightly in his right hand. He runs to the notebook and tears out every page he's written on these last six days, whispers a disillusionment charm, then sets them alight and tosses them into the fireplace.
Hurrying to the mirror, he scrawls these words: Protect above all others. Don't think. And, fight!
Then in spite of a heavy sense of double déjà vu, Ron tightens his grip on the sword of Godric Gryffindor, looks into the mirror, points his wand at his temple, and speaks without hesitation, "Obliviate!"
Ron wakes wrapped in a familiar blanket and nearly panics when he sees the room around him, but a voice calms him.
"Harry?" Ron looks around, and sees Harry walking toward him.
Harry sits on the bed next to him, then smiles.
"Is everything— wait, do I remember?"
"You saved everything," Harry says quietly. "The Order received intelligence that the Death Eaters were moving in on this building, and they made it here in time to see you fighting four of them at once." Harry laughed. "Dean said you looked a bit like Dumbledore: your eyes blazing and brilliantly single-minded in your fight."
Ron reaches up to touch his chin in horror.
"Don't worry, though. No beard. Or white hair."
He listens to Harry, doesn't say a word as he continues.
"I'd destroyed the final Horcrux, then walked out of the room just as Voldemort walked in and tried to break into your mind. You turned, saw me and light poured out of your body, Ron, I swear. You took my hand, handed me Gryffindor's sword, then said, 'I believe it's about time Tom Riddle met the only other wizard he ever feared,' and you stepped back while we fought."
Harry swallows, then blinks as though he can't quite believe it himself. "I fought him, Ron."
"And you won."
"And I won. Ron, I won because—" Harry's voice breaks, "—I can't believe that you..."
"It was the only way," Ron says. He swallows the lump in his throat and glances around the room nervously. "Is, uh..."
"Really alone?" Ron grins.
Time slows as they reach for each other across the days and weeks of regained memory. Sunlight paints lines over each centimetre of bared skin and mouths speak only through shared breath and shallow gasps. Fingers curl and grapple for purchase over newly-wet skin and every movement feels like a new memory to hold, even in the face of forced charms. And, when—
oh, god, when—
when there is no longer restraint, but the full, utter force of perfect release, Ron cries out non-words into the blistering air and sears the memory of this into his bare skin.
Because if there was ever a reason for hiding his memory, it was Harry.
A lifetime later, as they curl together, Harry whisper, "Hey, Ron?"
"So, why did you turn the coffee table into a giant pillow?"
Ron rolls over and pulls Harry against him, not opening his eyes and barely moving his lips. "Don't ask. I'll fix it in the morning."
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