Chapter 3 : Surviving
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Making sense of chaos, loss, and despair
“It’s been three days since the battle ended!” One wizard spoke to another, as they shared a cup of Muggle coffee in the cool dawn.
“Well, what’s taken so long?” the other exclaimed.
“It’s been too dangerous to get into the battle field until they were certain everything had been cleared as safe. Might could have saved a few more, if we hadn’t had the delay,” he ended sadly.
Hermione and Harry sat on the ground, beneath the shelter of a large tree, wrapped in blankets. They’d been lying between life and death on the silent battlefield for three days before Lupin had found them. It was no wonder they were dehydrated, starving, stiff, sore, numb, and unrepairably scarred. Many wounds were easily fixable and would leave no scars in the Wizarding world, but not after three days. Someone walked by and handed both Harry and Hermione cups of pumpkin juice, which they took wordlessly.
As they sat next to one another, drinking and thinking, Harry’s eyes fell upon Hermione. She had a scar nearly in the same place on her forehead as Harry had on his, though it was smaller and looked fresh. Lupin had explained that it was probably a result of Harry’s jumping in front of Voldemort’s killing curse. Hermione had many other scars – on her neck, and several on her arms. Her side had been burned and was visible through the hole scorched in her shirt.
He had dragged her into this, and she’d somehow managed to survive, and drag him out. Harry now brandished a new, large scar on his chest as a result of taking the Avada Kedavra curse for his friends. He felt sure it would’ve killed him, but hadn’t thought about it before jumping. Lupin suggested perhaps his own curse had saved his life, or perhaps he had some other reflecting powers within him because of his previous encounters with Voldemort. Either way, the curse had left him barely hanging on for life, but had not killed him, as it ought to have. Ron was a different story. He was saved by Harry’s selfless act, but killed by a fleeing Death Eater who had seen him stirring. Cold, heartless, evil Death Eater. It should’ve been me who died, not Ron.
Many died that day. Among the death toll were Charlie Weasley, Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Dean Thomas, Fred Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and a score of others, particularly from Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix. It was finally finished, but it had cost them so much.
Hermione set her finished cup of pumpkin juice down, but was still reluctant to speak. What was to be said? She couldn’t bear to speak, or to hear her own voice. She couldn’t bear to speak about the battle and death, nor to speak about anything else as though it hadn’t just happened. She felt trapped in a situation that offered no escape. She had been so afraid that Ron and Harry had both left her alone. Ron. Her eyes filled up with tears and she attempted to swipe them away with her bandaged hand. Harry saw her, and looked away. It was all each of them could do, to try and not cry, to try and remain in the numbness.
Hermione turned to Harry, her eyes now determined to stay dry. She pushed up onto her knees, moved toward Harry, pushed his arms off of his propped up knees, and settled herself, sitting on the ground between his legs. She leaned her back against Harry’s chest, as he relaxed against the tree. He wrapped his own bandaged arms around her and held her close to him. He never wanted to let her go. She never wanted to leave him.
The next days crawled by in a blur of motion. Hermione and Harry had stayed together, falling asleep beneath the tree, their bodies overcome with exhaustion, until Mr. Weasley had woken them and insisted they each see Madam Pomfrey, who was now seeing those in non-critical condition.
“Come on, up you go. You first, Hermione,” Mr. Weasley insisted.
“Come with me, Harry,” Hermione said, her voice sounding somewhere between a plea and a demand. She had a hold of Harry’s hand, and pulled him up, helping him limp over to Madam Pomfrey’s medical ward. They both sat on a single hospital bed, which had been transfigured from a nearby rock, others from fallen trees and tree stumps. Several other wizards and witches had been stabilized in other beds nearby. Yet when they looked around, it was obvious that far too many were missing.
Everyone had set up camp and was required to stay in the area until the site had been cleared as safe and empty, all bodies had been found and taken care of, and any possible Muggle sightings had been properly handled. All day long, Ministry and Order members ambled along, collecting statements and stories. Harry didn’t wish to relive his nightmare. Neither did Hermione. How could anyone understand, if they hadn’t been in the thick of it? Bodies falling, friends’ voices screaming, curses flying, others gasping for breath, blood leaving trails behind its stubborn fighters, Death Eaters killing mercilessly, Voldemort laughing in the background; and inside one’s own head – fears, screams, anger, cries…
“I want to leave,” Hermione confessed quietly into Harry’s shirtsleeve, after a Ministry member had just conducted his interview with them. They were sitting next to each other, which was their habit since emerging from the darkness, and she’d grabbed his arm and hidden her face, in an attempt to block out the world around her.
“I know, Hermione,” Harry whispered, cupping his hand against the back of her head, and helping her hide her face in his arm. He wanted to leave just as badly.
Mr. Weasley didn’t know how to tell his wife that he wasn’t bringing their baby boy home, nor two of her other sons, but she probably already suspected this, because of the Weasley family clock. He had sent an owl to her, and already received the reply that insisted Arthur bring “the kids” back to the Burrow to rest, recuperate, and heal. They needed to be away from the media, away from outside world, and held dear by those who loved them.
Arthur folded the parchment and stuck it into his pocket. He stared out from his tent to Harry and Hermione. They had hardly spoken since they had emerged from battle. They were both beat up, bruised up, cut up, bloodied up, even burned. Harry seemed to have had a continual headache since he awoke, probably as a result of several sustained Cruciatus curses. But they were alive. It was more than he could say for Ron, Fred, or Charlie. But he couldn’t think about that now. Harry and Hermione had lived, but would they be alive? Already he feared for them. They had withdrawn from all others at the camp. Their only peace was found in each other. Hermione had taken to hiding behind Harry, but Arthur had caught Harry hiding plenty of times himself.
They were different people, in a space of a week. They had gone into the battle as young, stubborn, active, excitable, and resilient kids. They had emerged as broken beings. They had seen more than any other witch or wizard there, specifically Harry, who had now faced Voldemort several times. They had faced more, and done more battle, in fact, than most other wizards and witches alive today, yet they were children – mere Hogwarts graduates. ‘No longer children,’ he sighed to himself.
“Harry, Hermione, let’s go.” Arthur finally spoke to them as he emerged from the tent. Still they were wordless, but both nodded, trusting him. Harry stood, pulling Hermione with him, and followed Mrs. Weasley. They were to Disapparate to the Burrow.
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