Chapter 24 : Chapter 24: No Rest For The Weary
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“Ginny?” Harry said anxiously. “What’s wrong love?” She didn’t say anything but she lost even more color and she started to shake as if she were cold. Harry tried to get her attention but she wouldn’t respond. He looked to Ron and Hermione for help but noticed that they too were pale and shaking. “What the hell is going on?” He yelled and looked around. Everyone seemed to be immobilized, including most of the teachers.
Dumbledore had risen to his feet but he looked unsteady. “Expecto Patronum!” The Headmaster bellowed as the doors to the Great Hall burst open and to Harry’s shock and horror, Dementors started to glide into the hall but he did not feel the cold. The Headmaster’s Patronus slowed their progress but it did not stop them. There seemed to be thousands of the vile monsters! Harry heard another professor trying to repel but the Patronus did not form completely.
Reality hit Harry when Ginny slumped against him. He had been shocked at what was happening but the Dementors were moving towards the frozen and unconscious students. He reached for his wand and conjured Prongs who started to viciously attack the tall, hooded creatures. Every time his Patronus hit a Dementor is would writhe and let out a piercing scream. But it wasn’t enough, there were too many of them. Frustration flowed through him so deeply that he had to close his eyes. All he could think about was his desire to destroy the Dementors. His mind started to go blank and hazy and then came back into focus but not as if he was completely conscious. He saw the Dementors, some of them already performing the kiss on students and he felt their desire for causing pain. Harry would never be able to explain why he did what he did next but he started to bombard the foul things with the feelings of love that he had for his fiancé. An unnatural scream filled the hall but Harry kept his focus. He felt them start to weaken so he closed his eyes and pushed harder, trying to overload them with the positive feelings. The screaming intensified to a fervent pitch and then suddenly stopped. Harry opened his eyes to a sight that made him physically ill. At least a hundred students lay soulless on the floor along with thousands of black robes.
Harry looked around and saw that many of the students were starting to recover from the effects of the Dementors and that the professors were rushing forward to help them. He didn’t see any Dementors but found that he was not surprised. Somehow he knew he had destroyed them. Harry heard Ginny groan and he immediately swept her into his arms. She mumbled and tried to sit up to look around but Harry kept her pressed against his chest. “Ginny… there are many who were kissed.” He whispered to her.
Ginny stiffened but then pulled away. “Then we better get chocolate to the other students. Go find some and I’ll go and help the teachers.” She got up and stopped at the sight that met her eyes. Students were holding lost friends and crying. Others were still not functioning properly. Ron and Hermione had struggled to their feet but they looked unsteady. “Harry!” Ginny said forcefully. “Get down to the kitchens and have the house elves send up chocolate!”
Harry nodded and Apparated down to the kitchens. He was met by a hundred frantic elves but when he said that chocolate was needed immediately they went straight to work. He Apparated back to the Great Hall just as chocolate appeared on the long house tables and started to help feed the chocolate to his peers. The room was in chaos. Students were crying or screaming. Some were still unable to move from all the happiness being sucked from them. One Dementor caused enough damage but untold numbers had swept into the hall.
Every house was hit by at least twenty deaths. Madam Pomfrey came in shortly and started to give the students who were hysterical a potion to calm them. Harry saw Ginny working towards making sure everyone ate chocolate and Hermione was hugging several crying first years. He saw that Ron was assigning tasks to those students who were calm enough to help. Harry closed his eyes and took a breath. Life had been hard before but he was not sure how Hogwarts was going to recover from this. He opened his eyes and set to work.
The common room was quiet that night except for the occasional sob. Harry sat holding Ginny who had curled into him and had fallen asleep after crying for over an hour. Ron and Hermione were at a meeting with the teachers so that they would know how school would be run or the next several days. He looked up when Hermione and Ron approached them an hour later. “Classes are canceled for at least a week. Anyone who wants a furlough from school has permission to leave and the professors are canceling exams for everyone but fifth and seventh years.” Ron sat down heavily across from Harry. “I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut.”
“I know the feeling mate.” Harry replied.
Hermione sat down on Ron and told them the rest of what would happen. “The teachers are bringing in Mind Healers and starting tomorrow everyone is being forced to go and meet with them at least once. There will be a commemoration for those who were injured on Sunday. Some of the students who were kissed are already at St. Mungo’s. Oh, Harry I found out about Bellatrix Lestrange.”
“Really?” Harry asked half-heartedly. In truth he had completely forgotten about Sirius’ murderer.
“Yes, well apparently the Healers have been trying to fix her bones but have been unable to mend most of them. She is an invalid and confined to a bed.”
Harry looked up sharply. He wanted to feel guilty that he had damaged her permanently; he thought he ought to have at least felt a little remorse but none surfaced in him. Not much was surfacing right now but sorrow for his fellow students; sorrow and guilt that he had not done more to save them. “Are they really all gone?” He finally asked referring to the Dementors.
“Yes.” Hermione replied. “Whatever you did to them, destroyed them. I know Dumbledore wants to talk to you about it but he told me that you could see him anytime tomorrow.” Harry was thankful for the respite. All he wanted to do was sit here with Ginny in his arms and cry. He hadn’t cried yet but he knew that he would. Hermione stood up and addressed the quiet common room. “If you would like to stay down here tonight you may do so. Go ahead and grab a pillow and blanket and make yourselves comfortable. If anyone needs me I will be here for you.” She turned to Harry and spoke her next words softly, as the students started to make their way out to get blankets. “I think that they feel safer having you here with them so I want you to stay down here as well.” He nodded and slowly lowered Ginny down to lie on the couch. He stretch out behind her and held her while she slept. Harry stayed awake most of the night to think about those who had been lost. Every so often a tear would slide down his face. Twice he looked up to find a scared looking student gazing down at him and he would give them a small smile to reassure them that he was standing guard, keeping them safe. He found that ironic since there were a hundred others that he had not protected. Just from his own house he had lost friends… Lavender Brown, Seamus Finigan, Andrew Kirke, and many, many more. Right before dawn he fell into a dreamless sleep.
“I’m fine.” Harry told Dumbledore the next morning in his office. Ginny squeezed his hand reassuringly. She had insisted on coming with him and he was glad that she had. He wanted her there but hadn’t known how to express it.
“What did you do to the Dementors?” The Headmaster asked. He looked very tired and there was no hint of mirth in his eyes.
“I closed my eyes and my mind turned fuzzy then it cleared and I put my love and all of my good feelings for Ginny into them until they were gone.” Harry responded dully.
Dumbledore was silent for several minutes. He then got up and paced before sitting behind his desk again. “You possessed them?” He probed quietly.
“I dunno. I guess so.” The thought disturbed Harry. He really did not want to think that he could possess anyone. He heard Ginny give a muffled cry and he pulled her closely to him. This had to be hard for her to hear. She had spent a year being controlled by a diary. She went to his side willingly and put an arm around his waist.
“Harry what you described to me is what happens when a person is possessing someone else. The power to do this is not common but certain wizards and witches throughout time have used it to their advantage. Voldemort possessed you at the end of your fifth year but was unable to stay in you because he could not stand to be in a body that was filled with so much love. The only way he was able to possess Ginny was through the diary. Without the diary he would have felt the same intensely positive feelings and he would not have been able to stand it just like he could not stand being in your head. Being in a body that is radically different from your own in nearly impossible.” He was quiet for another few minutes. “I believe that you were able to possess the Dementors because they are soulless. If they had a soul, like Voldemort does, it would have been extremely painful for you at the very least or it could have corrupted your pure heart if you had stayed too long.”
“But how did I destroy them?” Harry asked him. “I acted on instinct. I don’t know why I did what I did.”
“Dementors are a contradiction. They feed off of good feelings but their real joy is in the misery that their feasting causes. By flooding them with all of those feelings of pure and intense love, you caused them to be destroyed from within.” At Harry’s questioning gaze, Dumbledore explained further. “They suck out the happy feelings but do not want to feel them for themselves. By forcing the Dementors to feel love you ruined the essence of what makes them what they are. The truly amazing thing is that I believe you were able to get rid of every one that exists. There were only ever a few thousand and we have counted more than three thousand empty robes.”
“Well at least some good came from this.” Harry said listlessly. “I still don’t know why they didn’t affect me. I should have been comatose like everyone else but I was thinking clearly.”
“I don’t have an explanation Harry. All I can do is be thankful that you were able to act or else we might have all been lost to them.” Dumbledore answered sadly. “I was not even able to hold them off for more than a few seconds.”
“I wish I could have done more. If I would have reacted immediately, rather than stood there staring like an idiot, then more people might not have been hurt.” Harry added remorsefully.
“Harry, no!” Ginny cried before pulling his face down to look at her. “You did what you could and you saved most of us. That is the important thing to remember! Don’t feel guilty over this. You were in shock for a few seconds but the rest of us were frozen. If you wouldn’t have acted at all, we would be worse than dead.”
Dumbledore spoke up. “I owe you an apology Harry and I want you to put the blame where it rightfully belongs, which is on me. You offered to get the Dementors out of the forest and I did not let you. I was trying to protect you but failed to realize that I need to look to you to protect me sometimes. If I would have let you send out your Patronus for them when you had offered, many of them would have been hurt and this attack may not have happened. Please do not think that you are responsible! My age seems to be impairing my judgment of late and in this case it cost people their souls.”
Harry looked at his mentor. He still felt guilty and he supposed that he always would. He was finished talking about this but unfortunately he would not be allowed to let it go for a while. “Ginny and I have to get back down. We both meet with a Mind Healer in a few minutes.” He got up and offered Ginny a hand to help her rise. “Let’s get this over with.” He said to her and she nodded glumly. Neither of them was looking forward to it.
“I’m Fine!” Harry told the Mind Healer for the second time. He was getting agitated at her insistence that he should talk to her. “I have talked about it with my fiancé and I don’t feel the need to talk to you.”
She raised an eyebrow and considered him. “You will not be excused until you have told me how you are feeling.”
Harry started to laugh. If this woman thought she could hold him here then she was the one who needed a Mind Healer. “This is supposed to be therapy, huh? You bully people into telling you what you want to hear and then send them on their way?” She shifted uncomfortably and Harry felt his annoyance towards the woman grow. “Fine, I’ll tell you what you want to hear. Go on, ask me a specific question.” He sat back and gave her a challenging look. He was feeling reckless and angry and this woman was just making it worse. He felt the need to give her a taste of her own potion.
She sat up straighter and adjusted her glasses. “How do you feel about losing so many of your classmates?”
“Bloody awful.” Harry retorted. “If I would have reacted quicker then they would not have been lost. That seems to happen a lot around me though. I lose my head for a moment and people end up dead. Oh hell, we can just say that I’m a death magnet. I’ve gotten my parents killed, my aunt, uncle and cousin, my friends, my fiancé’s brothers, my godfather, my teachers and now over a hundred students have been kissed because I happen to be at Hogwarts.” He folded his hands and looked at her. “Tell me lady, how would you feel if you had to watch so many people die?”
She did not speak but started to scribble quickly on the parchment in front of her. When she looked up her face was poised. “Tell me about your childhood Harry.”
“I suppose it started out alright. I have been assured that my parents loved me. Then I got them killed and had to move in with my relatives who locked me in a cupboard until I was eleven. They ignored me or yelled at me most of the time. My cousin bullied me, much like you are trying to do, and beat the shit out of me until I came here to Hogwarts. I met my best friends and during the school years I was happy.” He paused to think. “No, that’s not completely accurate. Most of the time I was happy. Sometimes I was fighting off Voldemort and trying to avoid people who wanted to kill me. Everyone ridiculed me for being unbalanced but then I was exonerated as a hero when it was proven that I was not a liar. Let me tell you that was not pleasant. I have chased by nutty girls who only want me for my name and now I am being forced to talk to you. That just rounds out my entire childhood as having been mostly lousy.” He gave her a half smile because he knew she would really think he was crazy if he could speak so casually about such painful things.
She looked over her glasses at him as if he were a flubberworm. “Harry, I believe that you are in need of more help than I can provide. A portkey will be arranged and you shall be taking up residence at St. Mungo’s where you can receive intensive therapy to help you recover from the damage that has been inflicted upon you. You are a very disturbed young man and you need help.”
Harry smiled. “I don’t think so. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must meet my fiancé for lunch.” He made to rise when her next sentence stopped him.
“Does this fiancé really love you or your fame Harry?” She asked him coolly.
Harry looked down at the woman and observed her. What was she playing at? She was being intentionally cruel to him. Surely that is not what a Mind Healer did. Ginny had said that she enjoyed her sessions with her Healer. He grew suspicious but he kept his emotions off his face. “She loves me for me. I am certain of that. Now if you will excuse me I have better things to do than waste my time on you.”
“You may not leave.” She said firmly.
Harry tried to door and found it locked. This made him smile. “I’d like to see you try and stop me. You will not be taking me to St. Mungo’s.” He told her calmly. The feeling that something was off about this woman was growing stronger.
“Dumbledore will back me up.” She informed him as if that ended any argument that he might have.
“Dumbledore can no longer stop me.” He told her. “You could send a hundred Aurors after me and I would still escape. Nice try with the door by the way.” He pointed his wand at it and muttered a spell under his breath. The lock clicked and the door swung out. “I hope I never see you again.” He told her as he turned to go. He was outside the door when he heard the killing curse sailing towards him. He conjured a wall, which shattered but still shielded him from the curse. He turned and sent several spells at her, finally subduing her with a stunner. He walked over to her and bound her with ropes before taking her wand. He watched her for several minutes and was unsurprised when her face changed into that of a man he had once seen in a pensive, Rodolphus Lestrange. Harry looked down at Bellatrix’s husband.
Harry heard a noise and looked up, raising his wand when someone entered the room only to lower it again when he saw that it was Ginny. She gazed speechlessly at the man and then looked back at Harry. She walked over and pulled him into her arms. “You never get a break, do you?”
Harry laughed. “No. I can’t even get help without someone trying to kill me.”
“I don’t know how you do it sometimes, Harry.” She told him quietly.
“Do it? You mean, go on?” He felt her nod. “That’s easy. I have you in my life. All the bad stuff does not even compare to the good stuff that I have when I’m with you.”
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