Chapter 17 : Veritas vos Liberabit
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Everybody rushed Harry, Hagrid, and Lupin in the tearoom. A small spate of questioning from the teenagers followed, and Lupin essentially answered all the queries. Remus smiled softly and said to the rest of them in reference to Harry’s twin, “Yes, he’ll be okay. Needless to say, he’s a little worse for wear—“ then he looked at Harry meaningfully, and said, “—but I think we all know there’s no doubt as to his powers of recuperation.” Then the friends agreed and swiftly pointed out instances in Harry’s past when he’d bounced back from other impossible feats. It reminded Harry a lot of the pre-D.A. meeting they all had at the Hog’s Head last year.
The waves of relief that washed over those assembled were strong enough to last for quite awhile. It was clear everyone who had left the chamber with Dumbledore had been expecting the worst. Harry could hardly blame them, having assumed the same thing himself, and it was unendingly gratifying to inform his friends that was indeed not the case.
Lupin had placed Jamie, who was still sleeping, on a small couch while the rest of them caught each other up on the latest happenings. Harry’s friends basically couldn’t escape gravitating toward that couch, effectively providing a cover for any other guests who happened to be too curious. Apparently, it wasn’t an unusual occurrence for larger groups of people to assemble in the tearoom.
Ginny quietly explained that she and the others had come to their senses after entering the tearoom, and refused to leave Harry behind while they all ate something, especially since Harry hadn’t eaten anything for two weeks. The group had instead simply ordered hot chocolate at the counter from the witch, who was conspicuously absent at the moment. Harry’s friends told him how it was hardly a sacrifice for them to go another couple hours to help him out, especially after they found out what Dumbledore had been planning since finding out Harry wasn’t truly dead.
It was heartening to know the headmaster’s silent manner in the chamber hadn’t been one of shock at all. Rather, it was a persona Harry had seen Dumbledore assume only once before; one of complete and nearly overwhelming concentration. Since his friends couldn’t show the adults without the use of Harry’s wand, they had each pieced together what part of the poem and clues they could remember, along with what Justin, Michael, and Seamus had already written down. After seeing what they had been able to figure out, Dumbledore and Snape had looked at the piecemeal poem and practically jumped to action. The teenagers said it was as if the two men had discerned something that was hidden in the poem, and hadn’t openly shared it with anyone yet. Lupin then asked to see the paper and had a very similar reaction, but declined to elabourate until Dumbledore’s return.
It turned out the older professor had gone with Snape to the Ministry to procure some things, not the least of which was two cars for all of them to journey in. Portkey travel was scarcely something that Harry could do, or his body would be able to handle, and they all needed a comparably quick way to get back to the graveyard. That was where they were to meet back up with Seamus, Michael, and Justin, as well as everybody’s parents. Ginny was almost bubbling over at the prospect she was going to see her entire family soon, as well as meeting up with Hermione, who was doing decidedly better after finding out her best friend wasn’t dead after all. Harry could hardly wait to see the Weasleys and Hermione again either.
Tonks had also temporarily left, but it was for a more subversive purpose. She was to free Madam Adonna from the solitary confinement section of the psychiatric ward. Harry demanded to know what in blue blazes the healer was doing in St. Mungo’s psyche ward in the first place. Lupin then told Harry the true, singular, and most important reason behind the Ministry’s completely ludicrous procedure of doing things after the authorities had the healer give her testimony.
Unfortunately, Harry’s friends hadn’t known the full story. It turned out the reason for the Ministry’s about face regarding Harry’s case was because Madam Adonna had boldly informed the court, in no uncertain terms, the person residing in his hospital bed was not the real Harry anymore. At the time, the healer was the only one who could unequivocally know that fact. Worse yet, no submissible way existed for Madam Adonna to prove it to anyone. The court had scarcely given her time enough to recover from the traumatic severing of the bond between she and Harry as well.
It would have looked worse if the Ministry’s elite had openly declared Madam Adonna “crazy”, so they just said her present “unprofessional” behaviour was due to residual effects of the Gemini Stasis Charm and thereby revoked her healer’s license in lieu of incarceration. However, that was all before the seventh day of Harry’s alleged stay in the Muggle hospital, when he had been pronounced legally dead.
Madam Adonna hadn’t been acting irrational, violent, or untoward, but nobody would believe her vociferous and completely determined statements that Harry Potter, in fact, was not dead at all. As a result of the healer’s refusal to keep silent, she had been assumed insane, declared a danger to herself and the public, and hospitalised in the very place where she had once been a highly sought-after employee.
Harry was still feeling horribly drained at this point, but he had the brave yet highly irrational impulse to barge straight down into the psyche ward and demand Madam Adonna get released immediately. Although quite Slytherin in mind, Harry possessed a very Gryffindor soul that craved for action. He hated waiting. He hated waiting almost as much as he hated Voldemort, so that was saying something. Whoever was in charge of the solitary wing would have the shock of their life, seeing not one, but both supposedly dead Harrys in front of their very eyes. Hey, they may even have to be committed. Harry was just about to start into a good healthy round of ghostly pacing when the dumpy witch reentered the tearoom from the elevator. Everybody became silent rather quickly and stared curiously at her.
She was moving around in a most peculiar manner; a rather pantomime type fashion. It was almost like she was pulling something invisible behind her. Abandoning her unseeable charge fairly close to the group, she marched straight up to Lupin and proceeded to transfigure into Nymphadora Tonks.
“Wotcher, Harry,” she said distractedly and continued to Remus, “Professor, we have a problem,” in a very tight-lipped manner. Harry had never seen the young Auror act like this.
“How do you mean?” asked Lupin quietly as Tonks pulled him over to where she had left the invisible thing next to a small table. The pair stood in front of it as Tonks made a sweeping motion and said apologetically, “I know we’re supposed to leave soon, but.…”
Lupin pulled back in astonishment, hurriedly glanced at the Auror and said with subdued intensity, “Are you sure this is—“
“I am quite certain, one adult Metamorph usually knows another,” clipped Tonks irritatedly, “we’re also related, and I’ve been scoping this place out for three days now—“
“Of course you are,” Remus amended diffidently, “I didn’t mean that how it sounded. Can we do anything?”
“I can tell you we need both of him,” Tonks answered and looked at Harry significantly, “and we also need to get out of this public area. But first, we just need to hear her talk,” and Tonks pointed back to the unseen individual they were discussing. Hagrid exchanged looks with Lupin and nodded, unspoken agreement that the half-giant stay behind to guard Jamie and the others.
Harry was feeling the same open interest his friends were, and oddly enough he couldn’t sense much more than grim determination from the adults at the moment. The teenagers’ prying questions were gently explained away as Harry followed Lupin and Tonks back into the stuffy little corridor with the invisible someone in tow.
Lupin shut the door, they each lit their wands, and Tonks removed what was obviously an Invisibility Cloak from around the mysterious person.
Yet another form of paralytic shock washed over Harry as he, once again, stared back into the image of his own face. Something had obviously gone wrong with Madam Adonna but this…this was an atrocity that defied description or comprehension.
“Now we know why they were so radical about shutting everything down,” Remus said with complete revulsion, “and why the media wasn’t allowed to take pictures or report anything about the trial after they prematurely severed the Charm. The public seeing her look like this would have caused riots at the Ministry building.”
“It gets worse than that,” Tonks replied disgustedly, “why don’t you ask her about it?”
Harry could see that something was clearly out-of-sorts with the healer, barring the fact she literally looked like his twin. She hadn’t moved by herself at all, her face was waxen like a doll’s, and her grey eyes were glazed over and staring vacantly ahead. The apparent catatonia went much deeper than that, however. When he concentrated, Harry could at least sense some sort of psychic buzz emanating from the minds of those around him. The healer conversely, was a complete blank. It wasn’t anything dementor-like, but the lack of mental activity in one Harry knew had to be so strong was almost terrifying. Surreality notwithstanding, a distinct personality was still supposed to be inside somewhere, regardless of what she looked like externally.
“What is wrong with her?” Harry punctuated, concern for her mind easily overriding his initial reaction of her appearance. Having visited St. Mungo’s before, Harry had seen some rather spectacular magical disfigurements and got over this one surprisingly quickly.
“Oh, I’m sure they force-fed her some nice sedative potions for compliance. It’s what they usually do to people who are prescribed solitary confinement,” Remus answered Harry dourly.
Taking and applying Lupin’s prior example with Jamie, Harry asked the healer directly, “Do you know who you are?” He had to know she wasn’t totally gone…not after all she had managed to pull through.
“I am Healer Madam Adonna Danekkah Tonks,” she responded mechanically, with Harry’s voice. The dull, recitive way she said it could only mean one thing.
Remus deduced the same immediately, as he said to Madam, “So they made you take—“
All three of them said the word together with her, in varying degrees of abhorrence. “Copious amounts, for the last three days,” the healer went on, slurring the words.
“Copious amounts of Veritaserum? But isn’t that—“
“Deadly,” confirmed Madam Adonna.
She tilted backward and began slowly sliding down the wall to the floor. Her actions underlaid the gravity of the word she had just used. Now painfully evident was the fact Harry’s counterpart hadn’t been the only innocent victim totally stripped of defences because of who he was or what he knew. Unfortunately, the healer just appeared to have outlived her usefulness a bit sooner than Harry had.
“Is there an antidote?” Tonks asked intently, crouching next to Adonna on the floor. The Auror pushed back the raven waves of hair that had fallen across the sides of Madam’s altered face as she had fallen.
“Yes. It’s just been…rediscovered. Almost no one knows of it… because it was believed to be a myth. Liberabitonic is not a true antidote…but it does counteract the worst…of the depressive effects of…Veritaserum on the nervous system. It’s nearly…impossible to make and harder…to come by.” The healer continued to speak, though haltingly, as the three of them tried desperately to use her formidable medical knowledge to help save her.
“How much of it do you need?” Lupin was more driven than ever at this last bit of information.
“Three standard vials…equal amounts…each administered exactly two minutes apart.” The sheen across Madam’s face began to stand out even more under the odd-coloured light of their wands.
“Hold that thought,” Lupin told the rest of them, and dashed out of the corridor. “I’ll be right back.”
Then Madam slumped forward across her knees. Harry looked over at Tonks as she conjured a cold compress and said, “That’s how Adonna was when I found her.”
Sliding the cloth in between the healer’s forehead and knees, Tonks explained, “I asked her a bit…she told me how she fought the serum but finally couldn’t help giving in to its influence. It’s obvious whoever did this either had no idea what they were doing to her or didn’t care what would happen if they did it.”
A bolt of guilt pierced Harry as he replied, “And this all happened because she tried to help me.”
“Don’t kid yourself, Harry.” The young woman snapped her head in his direction and went on sternly, “this happened because of Voldemort and the Ministry. You don’t know this, but the G.S. Charm turns into a curse when the ones under it aren’t allowed to wake up properly by themselves. The stasis part of the charm does what it’s supposed to, only on the wrong person. That’s why she still looks like you and can’t morph back—it was an abrupt severing, not a clean split. Her ability to transfigure lies somewhere inside of you or your counterpart.”
Harry was about to ask Tonks if any way existed for him to transfer the healer’s morphing talent back into Madam, when Lupin swiftly entered the hallway again, Snape’s case of potions in hand.
Remus looked meaningfully at Harry and said, “Our mysterious Slytherin benefactor has struck again, Harry. It just so happens that four phials of the elusive Liberabitonic Potion just happen to be right in here,” he said with satisfaction, opening up the case and dropping next to Adonna and Tonks on the floor.
The pair from the Order administered the first dose of potion to the healer. Tonks continued to cool Madam Adonna’s forehead and neck with the cloth. As the antidote ran its course, the trio was forced to sit back and do the one thing most required and loathed. They waited.
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