Atrophy - gradual decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect
Harry stood at the threshold of his home, staring out at the garden with a deeply troubled expression. In his left hand was a steaming mug of coffee, in his right, an eleven-inch, holly wand. The wand felt out of place in his grip. He hadn't held it in at least a month, and he hadn't used it in much longer.
Muffled footsteps echoed behind him, and Harry looked over his shoulder. Ginny approached, the bright orange slippers that Bill had given her for Christmas nearly silencing her movements. "What are you thinking about?" she asked, eyeing Harry's wand, still hanging limply at his side.
He held up the wand, gazing at it as if it would suddenly feel right again once he stared at it long enough. "What else?" he muttered wryly to Ginny.
She hummed her understanding, taking another step closer and reaching out. Harry expected her to take the wand out of his hand, but instead her freckled hands grasped the mug in his opposite hand. With a coy smile, she sipped his coffee, placing the mug back a moment later. Harry watched as her eyes drifted past him, out the doorway of their shared home, towards the rising sun over the horizon. "So today's the day?" she asked casually.
Harry inhaled slowly, nodding once. "Hermione says that I have to start today."
"Because Auror Training starts in a week," Ginny completed the thought, crossing her arms and standing beside Harry.
He examined the wand in his hand once more. It felt so wrong. The phoenix feather core used to be a comfort; it's magic connecting with something deep within Harry and making him feel balanced. Now, it set him off, like it was someone else's wand, someone who was so different from Harry that they could never share the same wand.
He'd spoken to Hermione about this last night. Now he remembered her words clearly.
"Magical Atrophy in wands is a common occurrence, Harry," she said, "after the war you practically denounced magic for several months, essentially shunning your wand. Neglected wands are quite capable of becoming at least partially defective after something like this. It doesn't help that you made the connection with the Elder Wand when you did."
Harry hadn't liked the idea that his wand was so… sensitive. Hermione had made it seem like it was alive, and that Harry had hurt its feelings. He started down at the simple stick of holly with a frown.
Ginny shuffled closer to him resting her hand atop of his. "We'll start with something small," she said, her tone gentle, "Hermione said that casting the first spell is always the hardest part."
Harry nodded. He'd practically denounced everything about the magical world after Voldemort's fall in May. It felt right. Harry needed some time away from it all, to think about his life and what he wanted to do next. Now, he was ready to go back. Ron had suggested that they start their Auror training soon, and Harry knew it was time. But why was it so hard to go back?
Ginny stepped closer, kissing him lightly on the cheek before bouncing off to the kitchen. "I'll make breakfast," she called, "you work on that spell."
The sound of cabinets and drawers opening drifted out from the kitchen. Harry stood in the doorway for a long time, still watching as the sun hung low over the horizon. Something simple, he thought to himself, remembering a spell he'd learned a very long time ago.
Harry set down his coffee and lifted his hand, his wand poised unfamiliarly, as if it didn't quite fit in his hand anymore. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, and then focused on the magic.
"Lumos," he whispered.
"Lumos," he tried again, narrowing his eyes and concentrating hard.
"You're concentrating too hard."
Ginny's voice made him jump. She'd left the kitchen and come back into the hall. He turned and watched her approach slowly. When she arrived at his side, she picked up one hand to smooth back his wildly disheveled hair. "Remember how it was when we were first years," she said, a small smile gracing her lips, "it's about the magic. Feeling comfortable with your magic, not just focusing on the wand in your hand and the mechanics of the spell. You know how to cast it Harry, it's ingrained in your mind. Just feel your magic and do it."
Harry swallowed the lump in his throat, nodding silently at Ginny. She responded with a broad grin, nodding for him to continue.
He turned around, lifting his wand, feeling the magic and remembering what it was like, all the way back in his first year. Magic had saved him. It wasn't something to throw away because the war and all the pain it had caused. He remembered being eleven years old, staring in wonder at Diagon Alley and Ollivanders shop, Hagrid at his side as he felt his first touch of the wand that was his today.
"Lumos," he said, his voice stronger this time, his thoughts focused on the wonder he'd felt at the magic in his veins; the power it had given him over the years, not the pain.
A bright light glowed at the tip of his wand, flickering and fluttering to life. Harry smiled, glancing up at Ginny's happy expression. He wondered why he hadn't done this weeks ago. Why had he even abandoned magic at all? This was who he was. This wand was a part of him, despite being neglected and damaged over the years.
When the spell died out, Ginny jumped forward, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him soundly on the lips. She laughed airily when she pulled back, tightening her arms around him and pressing her face into the crook of his neck. Harry returned the embrace, swallowing down the swell of emotion suddenly rising in his throat.
For the first time in many months, Harry's wand felt right in his hand.