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Chapter 4: Scars so deep
The word had come from J and exchanging a panicked look with Matt, he began pressing his hands across the bruises on Harry’s torso.
‘What? What’s going on? He hasn’t got any open wounds so what’s the problem?’ James said, voicing Andy’s thoughts.
‘That’s the problem...’ J began, but stopped as tears filled his eyes.
Matt reached across the bed and placed a hand on his shoulder. ‘The problem is that bruises are caused by bleeding. If it was an open wound we would be able to see the artery and seal it, stopping the bleeding. However, these bruises have been caused by internal bleeding, which means we can’t see where the problem is and if we cut him open he will probably bleed out.’
He turned back to J and said confidently, ‘Come on J, you can do this. I only know how to do it on children, an adult’s anatomy is too different and I might do more damage.’
‘I know,’ J said in a small voice. ‘Give me a minute.’ He turned away and faced out of the window behind the bed visibly calming himself.
Matt met our confused expressions and took pity in explaining. ‘There is a spell we use for internal bleeding, but it is difficult and exhausting. I can’t do it because I only know how to do it on kids and the last person J did it on...’ he trailed off looking at J’s back.
James looked between the two of them, ‘the last person? What happened?’
‘He died,’ said J in an empty voice way beyond his years.
Matt walked around the bed and put a hand on either side of J’s face. ‘Look at me,’ he said.
J’s eyes rose from the floor and locked onto Matt’s.
‘You can do this. You have done it 50 times before successfully when others would have failed. Last time it went wrong, I know, but he had multiple organ failure and you know that and what with his cancer there was no way he would have survived. You can do this!’
A single tear tracked its way down my brother’s face as he took a deep shaky breath and nodded. ‘Ok. Andy I’m going to need your help.’
With a new found respect for his brother, Andy walked around to his side, past a crying and scared looking Lily.
J looked him in the eye and said, ‘Ok, I need your help. This spell takes a hell of a lot of magic, more than one person. Matt can’t help because he needs to keep monitoring Harry while I do this.’
Without hesitation he replied, ‘What do you need me to do?’
A smile crept across J’s face. ‘I need you to stand by me and be ready to share your magic with me if I need it.’
‘No problem, I’ll be here.’
J smiled properly and placed his wand tip on Harry’s chest.
‘The 3 of us against the world. Just like old times,’ Andy said as J took a deep steadying breath.
Harry began to whimper and wriggle beneath J’s wand as he traced patterns across it.
‘James,’ Matt called. ‘You need to come and hold him still or J will never find the problem.’
James leapt across the room and gently but firmly pressed Harry’s shoulders into the mattress.
‘Shit,’ said J.
‘What is it? What can you see?’ James asked.
A pained look crossed J’s face. ‘There’s so much blood. I can’t see where it is coming from...’ he suddenly went quiet. ‘Wait, I think I found it. He’s perforated the aorta, that’s why it’s bleeding so much. Andy I need...’ he trailed off as his breathing became laboured but his free hand grasped thin air.
Andy grabbed J’s in both of his, ‘I’m right here. Take what you need.’
J became calmer and scrunched his eyes in concentration. A few moments later he opened his eyes with a smile growing on his lips, ‘I got it. He’s going to be fine.’
We all shared a look and the relief began to set in. James released Harry’s shoulders and the 3 oldest Potter men were pulled into a hug by the Potter matriarch, much to the amusement of them.
‘No worries Mum, the little squirt doesn’t get away that easily,’ Andy said with a chuckle of relief as they held Lily tight between them all.
The world swam back into reality as the pressure on his chest was released. He felt so light that he might float away. However with lucidity came pain. Every part of him ached with such ferocity that he considered forcing himself back into unconsciousness just to escape it.
Suddenly a tightness and the unmistakable feel of a hand on his wrist had his eyes flung open. He took in his surroundings in a matter of seconds as his exhausted flee or fight reflex kicked for the hundredth time in the last few months.
He was still in the nightmare.
Fear gripped his heart as he realised he was still in the nightmare because he could distinctly see the maroon walls of his room and the familiar faces of his ‘family’. Harry should have realised that he death eaters wouldn’t let him out of this dream so easily. They must have sensed that this was the one that was going to break him. And they were right.
He pulled his arm out of someone’s grasp and flung himself out of his bed and onto the floor taking the bedside lamp with him. Despite the screaming of his muscles he scrambled to pick up the broken shards of glass, ignoring them slicing into his palms. He soon became aware of his advancing ‘family’ and cried out in desperation, ‘I’m sorry, please, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, just don’t make me watch this, please. Not them, anyone but them!’
He knew it was useless and he crawled back into a corner again taking a deep breath. It was so difficult to breath, all of a sudden. No matter how much he breathed in he just couldn’t satiate the burn in his lungs. His vision began to blur as his lungs screamed in agony.
He flinched away from the hands that reached him but it was useless. He could feel himself falling into the blackness again.
As they broke away from their family hug, he noticed Ginny who was sat alone on the window seat. She had her knees pulled up to her chest and was staring at Harry’s limp form in the bed. She hadn’t shed a tear yet and J found such respect in her bravery. It was so typically Ginny to suffer alone and in silence. J turned back to see Matt beginning to dress the wounds on Harry’s wrists with such care you would’ve imagined it was his own flesh and blood lying there. It was at this moment that Harry’s eyes flew open and he launched himself off the bed and into the bedside table, shattering the lamp that sat there on the floor.
The family turned around in surprise to see Harry awake and scrambling around with the broken glass.
‘Harry,’ Lily cries in relief.
‘Harry, stop it, you don’t need to do that,’ James said softly to Harry as he saw his sons shredded hands. ‘Harry, stop. You’re hurting yourself.’ He reached a hand forward but Harry backed away into the corner just as he had done in the lounge an hour earlier.
‘I’m sorry, please, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, just don’t make me watch this, please. Not them, anyone but them!’ Harry cried out in so much pain that J’s heart turned to ice.
‘What’s going on?’ Andy asked. ‘Why is he saying that?’
Realisation dawned on J, ‘He thinks he’s hallucinating. He doesn’t believe we’re real, just a dream... or a nightmare.’ He glanced back down at Harry who was now curled into the foetal position once more, sobs wracking his body.
‘J,’ came Matt’s warning voice as they both saw Harry’s lips turn blue.
‘I know. Shit,’ J replied looking at him helplessly.
‘What’s wrong?’ his older brother demanded.
‘He’s having a panic attack. He’s breathing too fast because of stress and so he’s not getting enough oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Therefore he thinks he needs to breath more so he ends up with too much oxygen in his system and in a moment he’s going to pass out.’ He reached toward Harry and stroked his hair like he always did when Harry was little.
Harry flinched away from his touch and further into a ball.
‘What can we do?’ Andy asked watching Harry flinch away from them.
Matt and J exchanged a glance and it was Matt that answered, ‘We don’t know. We’ve got to calm him down or he’s just going to pass out but if he won’t let anyone touch him I don’t see what we can do?’ There were tears in his eyes as his words seemed to dawn on himself and make him incredibly aware of how little they could help.
‘Where’s Ginny?’ James suddenly asked to the room at large.
He was met by blank and confused faces as the family realised they had no idea.
J turned to the window saying, ‘She’s over there.’
The family jumped slightly at the sight of the hunched figure in the window as none of them had even realised she was in the room. It dawned on J, that while they had all been seeking comfort in their other half’s arms Ginny had been staring at the broken shell of her other half.
‘Ginny come here,’ James said and Ginny immediately moved to Harry’s side. ‘If anyone can get through to him it will be Gin.’
She stepped forward and gently placed a hand on Harry’s chest. She whispered, ‘Harry.’
Harry’s eyes opened at her words and instead of flinching away, he appeared to relax ever so slightly.
‘Harry,’ Ginny whispered again. ‘You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I won’t let anyone hurt you ever again.’
Harry blinked at her for a few seconds and then barely audibly muttered, ‘Gin?’
‘Yes Harry, it’s me. Come here,’ opening her arms for him.
He, without hesitation, shifted his position into her arms with a heavy groan of pain. ‘Gin, I’m sorry.’
‘You don’t have to be sorry Harry,’ she whispered into his ear and the change in his posture was instantaneous. His entire body relaxed and he began to gently weep into Ginny’s shoulder as she held him as close as possible.
The rest of the Potters looked on the scene with amazement as their strongest and youngest Potter broke down in the arms of his love. Each member could count on one hand the number of time they had seen Harry cry and it brought fresh tears to every eye in the room as they imagined the horrors that he had suffered to bring about this reaction from him.
Ginny held Harry as he cried himself into sleep. She looked up from the broken man in her arms to his family over his shoulder. They could all see the tears running down her cheeks as she looked at them completely lost. J finally understood that as the others had only cried in the arms of their loves, she too had saved her tears for the man she loved.