Chapter 32 : Strength
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“And I used to be so strong, I used to be able to carry on, without you there, without you there…”
“Now, Harry, you have to drink this potion or I’m calling it all off - ”
“Molly, it would be better if we waited outside, less crowded, more air - ”
Everyone barring Ginny and Hermione were crowded around the bed, talking and arguing and generally just making noise. Heather was searching for a certain vial in a cart of potions she had behind her; Nigel was talking sternly to Harry.
“You must not push yourself further than you can handle. It is absolutely vital that you do not, Harry, as the result…”
Arthur was talking sternly to Molly, who was pale, glancing desperately from Harry to Ginny, her worn lips pulled down into a frown.
“They will both be fine, Molly!”
“But Arthur, what if Harry – then Ginny - ”
Ron stood beside Harry, on the opposite side of the bed from Nigel, listening to every word the Healer said, nodding every now and then, glancing over to the corner Ginny and Hermione were in every minute.
“But now, now it’s too damn hard, too damn hard, I can’t carry on, I need you here…”
“Hermione, please, can I not just - ”
“No Ginny!” Hermione said sharply. Her hands clenched painfully on Ginny’s shoulders; there was a heavy sigh and the hands pulled away.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, kneeling beside Ginny’s chair, “But… it would be too dangerous. And its better sitting in here, isn’t it, than out there?” she added bitterly as Molly and Arthur shut the door behind them.
Ginny didn’t respond.
“Where are you now? You left me here, all alone, all alone, but I still feel your presence, your presence, it lingers here, like the drops of tears in my eyes, my eyes, that you have left, that you have left behind…”
Nigel stepped away from Harry and turned around to discuss something with Heather; Ron bent down and talked to Harry. Harry’s gaze flickered constantly to Ginny.
An unnatural hush fell over the room as Nigel turned around, a vial full of an almost see through purple liquid clasped in his hand. Even the song seemed to stifle slightly. He seemed to hesitate before giving the potion to Harry.
Harry took the potion: his hands were shaking slightly, and the liquid sloshed inside. With another glance at Ginny, he downed it in one.
His face scrunched into one of disgust as the potion slid down his throat; Ginny sympathised, remembering the effects and horrid taste.
The empty bottle remained gripped in his white hand as the room watched him; he shook his head as though trying to shake off the taste. His hand shaking, he placed the vial on the table beside him.
Then, suddenly, his whole posture relaxed, slumped over. A small, barely there smile played on his lips and he sluggishly opened his eyes.
“And why did you leave again? You never gave a reason, a reason, for leaving me bruised and broken…”
Unconsciously, Ginny leaned forwards and turned off the Wireless. The soft, brittle voice of the singer quickly cut off. When she didn’t lean back into the chair but stayed, poised like an alert cat, Hermione rested her hand comfortingly, yet warningly, on her shoulder.
“Whenever you’re ready Harry…”
Harry paused for a second; he looked mildly confused. His face slid free off all emotions as he pushed back the sheets. He moved slowly, and if it was because of the potion making his reactions and movements delayed, or because the slightest movement of muscle or skin resulted in pain and he was attempting to minimize the agony, no one but Harry knew.
His legs dangled off the end of the bed; the freedom and the feeling of nothing supporting them felt odd, surreal. He swung one of them, just to test: the air moved lightly against his leg, and the muscles strained slightly.
Eyebrows creased in numb concentration, he decided to experiment. He reached out, his muscles creaking and groaning and burning with rust and reluctance, and softly planted his feet on the ground. The substance under his feet felt odd and strangely cool.
Not really knowing what he was doing, he glanced sideways at Ginny. Her brown eyes were wide and staring at him, fearful yet excited. She was perched on the very edge of her chair, ready to jump up at the slightest hint of something wrong, Hermione’s hand resting on her shoulder just in case she decided to rush forwards. A small hint of a smile played on her lips when her eyes caught Harry’s.
His legs felt somewhat stronger, the pain numbing slightly.
Harry pushed down on his legs, pressing his weight into his heels. The sudden mass that was forced upon the muscles was agony; he quickly relaxed again, biting down hard on his lip.
His legs tingled and stung from the fading strain. He waited for it to fade, but the dull throb never did. Barely stifling a grumbled sigh, he shook his legs slightly, trying to shake off the ache.
He tried again and again and again, each time getting more and more agitated. The pain increased by tenfolds each time…
Harry collapsed on the bed for what felt like the millionth time; his legs felt like they were aflame and he felt emotionally and physically drained.
“You’re doing really, really well Harry,” Nigel said encouragingly, kneeling down beside him. Harry kept his eyes closed. “Do you want to… stop there? For today?”
“Please Harry,” Ginny said quietly. She was now almost standing, Hermione’s hands biting into her now numb shoulders. Her pale was as white as Harry’s; her eyes sparkled with tears.
He ignored her, determined to prove to everyone he could do this; he could complete the petty task of standing. He was determined to show everyone, and himself, that he wasn’t weak – he wasn’t incapable.
Hermione’s hand clenched painfully on Ginny’s shoulder: a rock hard vice. Ginny swore under her breath, closing her eyes tightly; she pulled her lip in between her teeth, biting down hard. Her whole body was tense, poised.
After several long moments, her eyes still closed, seeing nothing but black, hearing nothing but her thoughts, she reopened her eyes, hoping beyond hope the scene before her had changed somehow.
Harry had his hands curled into rough fists on either side of him, the white covers of the bed grasped in his sweaty grip. He looked totally broken, his whole body shaking and covered in sweat, devoid of all strength.
His determination, though, was as strong as ever.
Her own hands gripped the sides of the armchair fiercely as he went to rise again.
The muscles in his legs strained and grated as he forced more, heavy weight onto them, forcing them to hold it, contain it. His hands stayed clamped on the bed as he rose.
He was halfway raised: his muscles strained and pulled and gasped for release, begging for relaxation, for rest, for forgiveness.
He could do this. He had to do this..
With grim determination, he pushed his hands off of the bed, letting go of the white covers, thrusting all his weight onto his legs, his already damaged and full muscles having numb weight pushed upon them – too much numb weight....
No one heard Ginny’s hurt gasp – she didn’t even hear it. Hermione’s hand was now gripping so painfully into her shoulder it was almost drawing blood; Ginny pushed against it silently, straining to get to Harry.
He was standing upright, completely unsupported. The scene around him blurred and started spinning; a mass of colours, spinning and spinning and spinning, making him dizzy… nauseous… his legs screamed and throbbed and ached in pain…
The voice was unsteady, the word starting off quickly and ending suddenly, the word jumbling itself, spinning, twirling, making no sense…
His hands clenched into a fist and his nails bit into his skin; he searched his shattering mind, his screeching brain, for anything – anything – to distract him, to numb the pain, to give him just a little release…
“Hold on, Harry…”
The room was still blurring sickeningly: he closed his eyes, trying to block out the dizziness.
Ginny was still pulling against Hermione’s hand, frantic.
“Please Hermione…” she whispered, her voice choking, trying to free her arm from her friend’s ice hard grip. Hermione visibly hesitated.
“Ginny – Nigel said - ”
“Th-This isn’t about m-me!” Ginny hissed croakily, tears falling down her face, her brown eyes fixed upon Harry.
Hermione glanced at him. He was swaying, his whole body was tense and hard, his eyes shut behind his glasses, his skin shining with sweat…
“Slowly…” she whispered, tentatively releasing Ginny’s shoulder.
Ginny stood up quickly, her feet faltering and unsteady beneath her.
“No – Ginny - ”
Ron stepped forwards, moving to stop Ginny – Hermione shook her head quickly, moving herself, stopping Ron moving any further – Nigel glanced from Harry to Ginny, his eyebrows furrowing together – Heather hung in the background beside the cart of potions, poised, ready, frightened –
His legs fired; he was surrounded by blackness, comforting blackness that neither swayed nor blurred… he wanted desperately to reach out, to grab something, but he couldn’t – it may unsteady him, nothing may be there, he may fall, he may seem incapable…
Warm hands softly lay on his arms: the heat was encouraging, cool, affectionate, careful…
The voice didn’t start quickly and end suddenly; the word didn’t sound jumbled and confused. The voice was quiet yet loud and clear, caring and shaking and in love, crystal clear…
It pulled him out of the darkness. He opened his eyes slowly.
She was beautiful, even though she was destroyed. Her lank red hair fell in gentle curls down to her mid back, framing her ghost pale face with a fierce, gentle air… her brown bloodshot eyes sparkled, eyes full of love, full of hurt, full of concern… her pale lips were shaking quietly, the cry that wanted to be heard rattling against its bars, though never escaping…
He wrapped his arms around her, pulling them both together. His face dug into her thin shoulder as their body’s met; her arms went across his back, hands curling into soft fists of pain and love, her head leaning against his…
All his pain disappeared.
a/n; sorry about the update wait! ): life is really lashing out at me at the minute, and i have a lot going on - barely any time to write! *cries in anguish* but hopefully this short chapter will satisfy you...?
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