Chapter 10 : Lost in the Silence
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By the time Molly had moved on to her fifth Kleenex of the morning, she’d given up her pacing, and had instead occupied one of the chairs closest to the doors, in case the Healers should come looking for her and she wasn’t immediately discernable from the small passing crowd of the first visitors of the early morning. The sunlight was fighting against the thick clouds, struggling as if to prove it was indeed day time, and that the world ought to get up and get a move on with all the things that needed doing. Molly imagined what she would be doing if Mundungus hadn’t attacked Christmas morning. At this hour, she’d likely be the only one up, or maybe Arthur would be enjoying his paper, nursing a strong cup of tea before he would head off to work. Normally, on those slow, lazy winter mornings, the boys would rouse late, giving her time to make breakfast and straighten up a bit before they came down. Sometimes Ginny would be up, and she’d normally either chat up her mother or have her nose stuck in a book as she made her way through breakfast…
Molly was still lost in her thoughts when she heard a woman’s thickly accented voice carrying across the waiting room towards her. Molly looked up from her hands, and caught sight of the silvery-blonde hair of her daughter-in-law, Fleur Delacour Weasley.
Molly rose from her seat immediately, and called out to Fleur, who was having an incredibly heated conversation with a Healer who was blocking Fleur from entering the ward. At hearing Molly’s voice, Fleur abandoned her argument, and rushed over to the older woman. Tears were streaming down Fleur’s face as she hugged Molly. When she pulled away, Fleur immediately began a barrage of questions about Bill. “Ees ‘e all right? What ‘as ‘appened? When can I see heem?”
Fleur searched Molly’s eyes, her eyes desperate to find the answer to the one question she couldn’t bring herself to ask. Molly pulled Fleur into a motherly hug, patting her daughter-in-law on the back softly. “He’s alive dear. He looked all right before when we saw him, before we were sent out. But there’s been no news since that…”
Molly let her voice slowly drift off, hoping the meaning of her words would sink in as gently as possible. Fleur sniffed quietly, and Molly seized the opportunity to lead the way back to the now familiar chairs of the waiting room. The two women sat in silence, awaiting the Healer and any news that was to come.
Kingsley Shacklebot stood facing the ominous scene before him, which was slowly being illuminated by the rising sun. The phone box stood shattered and worn. The crew of aurors had had no luck in repairing it, or even in surpassing the securities the entry held as a fail-safe against intrusion. All Ministry workers had been put on leave, and Kingsley himself had sent out the message for “Essential Personnel Only”. The troop of aurors who had initially responded to the alarms at the Ministry Visitor’s entrance had been sent home, and a the new shift was due to arrive any moment. Kingsley groaned quietly, running a hand over his eyes, and back across his baldhead. He was in sore need of a few hours of sleep himself, but he’d refused when Percy Weasley had offered to stay and wait for the replacement crew and head Auror.
Kingsley rubbed at a knot in his shoulder with one hand, the other against his wand in his pocket, at the ready should there be need of it. “Oh Arthur,” thought Kingsley. “What kind of mess can you be stuck in down there?”
As Kingsley’s troubled mind looked slowly over the scene once more, a rough hand covered the one on his shoulder. Kingsley spun around, pulling his wand and assuming a standard defense stance, only to find his so-called attacker was Mad-Eye Moody. “Careful there boy. Let’s get that pointed away from anywhere dangerous, eh?” Mad-Eye’s low growl reverberated against the torn metal phone booth.
Kingsley visibly relaxed, placing his wand safely back within his robes. Mad-Eye limped forward, on hand gripping his long walking staff tightly. “We’ll take over from here boy.” Mad-Eye muttered as he passed the younger man.
When Kingsley failed to even twitch towards leaving, Mad-Eye turned to face him full on. “Go home and get some rest. If you jump like that again, you can be sure they’ll think you’re madder than I am.”
Mad-Eye, patiently stared at Kingsley, his one normal locked onto Kingsley’s two dark ones. Kingsley sighed and turned to walk towards the park the Weasley boys had gone to shortly before. “Maybe I am tired. But with so much happening, it seems unlikely I’ll ever sleep tonight.”
Fleur shook her head, her long silvery hair softly spilling across her shoulders. She and Mrs. Weasley had been waiting in the front ward for nearly a half an hour, and although the room was still mostly empty, the chairs around them had become occupied by chatting groups, mostly waiting to see loved ones or watch children play at the toy chest in the corner of the room.
Fleur peered over once more at the ward’s double doors, as yet another Healer pushed through them. Her heart jumped as she watched him scan the small waiting room, hoping she was looking for her and her mother in law to give them good news…any news. When the man caught sight of her and her mother-in-law, Fleur nearly stopped breathing, her breath caught in her throat. As he stepped in her direction, Fleur was out of her seat, Molly close behind. The women reached him only a few feet from where he’d begun, and they waited anxiously for his response.
The man took a deep breath, and rubbed his hand against his forehead, tired from a long night’s work. Not wanting to keep the women in the obvious agony they were in a moment longer, he spoke quietly. “Bill is doing just fine, as well as the others. George we had some trouble with, so he’s been moved to a private room, to keep a better eye on him. It’s near the back of the ward, by young Mr. Potter’s bed actually. Although the lot of them need quite a rest, and we’re keeping them all here over night, Fred and Bill will be discharged later this morning. Charlie we’ll want to keep for the day, and maybe even tonight. He’s had a few bruised ribs, and there’s a hex mark we want to keep a close eye on, but other than that…”
The Healer offered a small smile, as he watched Mrs. Weasley break into fresh tears. Fleur slid a comforting arm around her mother-in-law, and she caught the Healer’s eye, square on. “May we see ‘zem?” she asked, her heart beating a loud and obvious tattoo against her chest.
The Healer nodded slowly, and motioned for them to follow. “I’ll need you to promise you’ll not upset them. There was quite a ruckus when we tried to convince the one not to hex someone to get to his brother. Fred is in with George now, though. It was just a simple matter of needing to check upon him first.”
The double doors flew open before them, and Mrs. Weasley grasped Fleur’s hand as they passed through them. Immediately discernable were Bill and Charlie, Bill propped up on his bed talking with his brother. But at the noise behind him, he’d turned to see who was entering the ward now. Fleur stopped short next to Mrs. Weasley, her eyes filling with glassy tears, as she caught eyes with her husband. In only a moment, however, she’d flown to his bed and caught him in her arms. She began speaking in fast French, nearly incomprehensible through her sobs. Bill held her against him, the bed linens pushed thoughtlessly to the floor in his attempt to get to his wife. Molly’s eyes filled with tears as she watched her son and daughter-in-law reunite, as they embraced. Turning away, she caught sight of her second son in his bed, grinning at his brother. Molly rushed to him, angry with herself for not coming to his side sooner. “Oh Charlie, are you all right? They said you were hurt pretty extensively...”
Charlie groaned light-heartedly as his mother fussed over him. Molly fluffed at his pillows and smoothed the blankets, firmly pushing him back beneath them each time he moved to get up. After the fourth defeat at his escape from the bed linens, Charlie began to argue in an exasperated tone. “Mother, all I want to do is check up on Fred and George. I’m sure they’ll let us both go. I am old enough to walk, and decide when bedtime is.”
Molly sighed, her heart filling with anxiety over her twins. Neither hide nor hair had been heard from the private rooms, and with no Healers nearby, she had no one to ask. After a moment, she turned to check on Bill and Fleur. The pair had taken to reclining in the bed, Bill fully extended to the footboard with Fleur cuddled against his chest. The pair was silent, each holding the other with no intent to release their embrace any time in the foreseeable future. Molly turned back to Charlie, her head heavy on her neck. “Let me see dear. But you are not to move.”
Once she’d shot a particularly harsh warning glance, Molly turned on her heel to find a Healer about her boys.
Ginny stirred from her sleep, a ray of sunlight catching her square in the eye when she opened it. Rubbing gently at her eyes to avoid the light, Ginny sat up, waiting for her eyes to adjust as she peered around, trying to figure out where she was. When she turned back to the bed, the memories of the past few days hit her hard as she watched Harry doze. His arms were lying limp against the mattress where she had been moments before, and his hair was mussed adorably. Ginny grinned, and as she slipped out of bed, she forced herself to tear her eyes away from Harry. When she turned around, she nearly fainted upon seeing her brother and his girlfriend sleeping stiffly in one of the chairs in the enclosed room.
Suppressing a giggle, Ginny reached out to her friend, and shook Hermione’s shoulder gently. Hermione sighed quietly as her eyes fluttered open, and she caught Ginny’s eye. She reached her arms out to stretch, and nearly fell off her precarious perch across Ron’s lap. This time Ginny could not suppress her laughter, and she let out a laugh, for the first time since Christmas morning. Hermione scowled at first, rubbing at a crick in her neck from sleeping at such an odd angle. But Ginny’s laughter was contagious, and soon the two girls were reduced to giggles in the small room.
Gasping for breath, Ginny collapsed onto the vacant chair next to Ron and Hermione’s, watching as Hermione dabbed at the moisture around her eyes from laughing so hard. “Feeling better then, are we?” Hermione asked, as she slowly stood, leaving Ron’s lap.
“Much. It’s just good to know he’s all right, you know?” Ginny grinned, as she let her gaze slide to the bed where Harry lay.
“Mmmm,” Hermione mumbled in agreement, as she walked towards the edge of the curtains surrounding them. Ginny rose, moving to follow her when something soft gripped her hand. A soft voice came from somewhere behind her.
“Don’t go yet.”
Ginny whirled around to find Harry up in bed, his face caught in a mischievous grin. Ginny returned the smile as she pulled her arm free. “You know, some of us aren’t getting breakfast catered to us by the ever-serving Healers to their own private room, now are we?” Ginny laughed as Harry’s face turned into a pout.
“Aww poor wittle Hawwy sad? Don’t worry, you could always wake up ickle Ronnie-kins for company.” Ginny teased in a baby voice, watching as Harry fought to hold onto the feigned sadness. Hermione burst into giggles from behind them, and, unable to fight the temptation, Harry’s face split once more into a grin.
“Oh fine, just leave me. But I don’t know how Ron would react if he knew you’d fallen asleep on my hospital bed…” Harry said, his eyes drifting to his best friend, who let out a loud snore at the mention of his name.
“Not well, believe me.” Hermione said as she stepped back into the room beside a still-sleeping Ron. “He nearly ripped your head off Harry. You should have seen his face it went stark white when we got in here after running from that Healer…”
“Why were you running from, a Healer?” Ginny asked, giggling. “Hermione Jane Granger, what were you and Ron DOING?”
Harry and Ginny collapsed onto the bed in laughter, and Hermione blushed. “Actually, we were chased in here by a rather nasty old coot of a Healer when they brought your brothers in to the ward.”
Ginny went white, and Harry immediately stopped laughing. He placed a hand on Ginny’s shoulder, and he could feel her shaking gently at his touch. When she spoke it was little more than a whisper. “Are they… all right?’
“They were all right for the most part. But Ginny, when I was out there a moment ago, I didn’t see Fred or George, and I’m sure they were with the others when we left earlier this morning.” Hermione answered, her eyes locked with Ginny’s.
Harry slid his hand across Ginny’s shoulders as he pushed the linens back off the bed to sit next to her. With his left arm limp at his side, Harry comforted Ginny as best he could with one good hand, running it through her hair and down her back gently. Silence filled the room, as Harry comforted Ginny, with Hermione watching quietly.
After what seemed ages, a confused voice came from Hermione’s right side. “What’s goin’ on? And where are we? ‘Mione?”
Ron had woken up, and Hermione went to him as he rolled his neck in discomfort, looking around the room. When he caught sight of the pair on the bed, he shot his best friend a dirty look. “Harry, mate you know I ought to kill you…Ginny? What’s wrong? And… ‘Mione. You look like you’ve seen Sir Nick pull his head off his neck again.”
Hermione placed a hand on Ron’s shoulder, applying gentle pressure with her thumb and fingers to relieve the knot at the nape of his neck. Ron stared up at her, his eyes questioning. “Hermione, what’s going on?” he persisted, as he rose from the chair.
“I told them, Ron. About your brothers. We were about to go and see about them. But Ron…Fred and George aren’t out there.” Hermione stammered at the last statement, her face covered with a vacant expression. “What does that mean? What can it mean, Ron?”
A/N: Yes, I know, the cliff hangers are truly evil! Well, it's the tenth chapter, and I have some exciting news for all of my readers-there are only three more after this! The end is in site! Oh and I have set a date by which this story will be completed. One year to the day, on my birthday two weeks from now, on May 29th, this story will have a birthday too, and I will celebrate by FINISHING IT! Hope you've all enjoyed, and please, tell me what you like, don't like and what not! I lurve feedback! Thanks all, and ave an amazing day!
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