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The Hard Life by killthatrat
Chapter 46 : Chapter 46 Relief
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 21

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The smell hit her the moment Tonks opened the front door to Grimmauld Place. It wafted towards her as she cautiously hung up her coat on the wooden stand, beckoning her to the basement kitchen, where the smell grew stronger. As she descended the stairs, she inhaled the inviting scent of the hearty breakfast that Molly was cooking, feeling her stomach twist in pain as she remembered she had not eaten since yesterday afternoon. Yet as she emerged into the kitchen and saw the large cooked breakfast that had been laid out, and the people eating it, Tonks knew immediately it was not just breakfast that Molly was trying to create. It was a distraction.

“Tonks!” was the general outburst that came from Ron, Hermione and Ginny. “What’s happened? How is he?”

Tonks sighed as she sat down at the table, realising with relief, that Remus was present.

“Quiet,’ he said loudly, silencing the three immediately. “Tonks doesn’t know anymore than Mad-Eye did, okay?”

Tonks smiled apologetically as she saw the disappointment and worry on their faces, wishing that she could tell them more. She sighed inwardly as Remus sat down next to her, feeling as he placed his hand on the middle of her back, rubbing gently.

“How are you doing?” he murmured to her as she began filling her plate with sausage and egg.

“Okay, actually,” she replied after a moment, surprised at how calm she felt after seeing firsthand what had happened to Harry. “Just tired,” she continued, placing her hand on his knee and squeezing gently as he smiled at her, satisfied with her reply. He kissed her gently on the forehead as Molly subtly placed at cup of black tea next to Tonk’s plate.

“Thanks, Molly,” Tonks said, gesturing to the tea and her full plate.

“You’re welcome,” Molly replied from the sink, her eyes filled with relief at the knowledge that Harry was safe at last.

Tonks looked down at her plate as she cut her sausage, ignoring the throbbing pain in her elbow, thankful that it alone her been her only injury. She knew they had all been extremely lucky, that rescue missions rarely went as well as theirs had. Yet she could not shake the nagging feeling that she had not done enough, that she had wronged Harry in some way. Blaming the Order for what happened was useless, but she could not shake the guilt she felt for what had happened.

“You know it’s all over the papers, Tonks,” Ron said quietly from across the breakfast table.

“Already?” she asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” Ron replied, tossing the rolled up Prophet at her. “Apparently someone tried to snap a picture of Sirius.”

“What do you mean tried?” Tonks replied darkly as she unrolled the paper, reading the headline.

“Well, the camera was confiscated of course,” Hermione answered with a smile.

“Hmm,” Tonks muttered as she scanned the headline that read ‘Harry Potter alive and safe,’ which was a nice change to the ones that screamed he was dead. She quickly skimmed through the article, noting that it was merely speculation and that they had no real evidence.

“Hey Tonks,” Hermione muttered across the table, the smile gone from her face. “Is it true that you got Draco Malfoy?”

Tonks looked up at her with her eyebrows raised, her mouth full of scrambled egg as she wondered how on earth she knew. She swallowed slowly, contemplating her answer for a moment.

“Wow,” Hermione replied in awe, taking Tonk’s silence as a yes. Tonks watched Hermione as she quietly went back to her breakfast, noticing as she looked pointedly at Ginny. Putting her knife and fork down onto her plate, Tonks sighed, placing her elbow on the table to rest her head on, Remus’ warm hand on her knee under the table doing little to ease her guilt. She was thankful when she heard the front door opening upstairs, providing distraction from her thoughts. She turned around in her seat, smiling as she Mad Eye descended the stairs into the kitchen, his blue eye revolving around suspiciously.

“Do you-” Ginny began in earnest as she spotted Mad Eye, her words falling short as he held up his marred hand.

“I’ve just been at the hospital,” Mad Eye began sternly, every person in the room staring at him intently as they waited for him to continue. “He’s awake, he’s asking for you three,” he finished, indicating to Ron, Hermione and Ginny.

Covering her mouth, Mrs Weasley stifled her cry of joy, beaming widely as the three teenagers stood up from their breakfast eagerly, their faces alight with relief.

“How is he?” Ron asked again.

“I still don’t know.”

“Well, are we going to see him?” Ginny asked.

Mad Eye nodded in reply as Mrs Weasley began bustling around the three teenagers, giving instructions to get ready.

Tonks quickly wiped her mouth with her napkin, placing it beside her plate as she also stood up. “I’ll come with you, Mad Eye.”

“No, you won’t,” he said, ignoring her look of dismay. “Stay here, get some rest.”

“I’m fine, really,” Tonks argued. “I want to see him.”

“Good luck with that,” Mad Eye said with a harsh laugh. “No one other than those three are allowed at the moment.”

“I suppose they’re not taking chances are they?” Remus muttered from the table.

“No. They only reason they’re allowed is that the healers don’t want Potter to panic.”

“I’ll come with you, anyway,” Tonks argued.

Mad Eye shook his head as Ginny re-entered the kitchen, now fully dressed as she began clearing the plates they had been eating from. “You need to stay here, organise the order for a meeting tonight.”

Tonks nodded. “What’s it about? Aside from the obvious, of course.”

Mad Eye said nothing, his blue eye still revolving throughout the room as Remus stood up and joined them by the wall. “Potter’s not in this condition because the Death Eaters were bored,” he began. “They wanted information, and we need to know exactly what he’s told them.”

The bright light from the healers wand flashed in front of Harry’s eyes, flicking back and forth in front of each one for a moment as he awkwardly sat on the hospital bed. Stars seemed to flash in his eyes for a few moments and he blinked them away wearily as the healer began speaking to him.

“I’m rather concerned about this head injury, Harry,” Healer Maguire, looking down at the chart he was holding. “You had a bad fracture at the back of your head when you came in, we’ve fixed that but you’ve still got quite a lot of bruising. Do you know if you lost consciousness at all?”

“Um,” he murmured, glancing towards Sirius before answering. “I don’t think so, only when they drugged me.” He didn’t bother elaborating. Harry looked away from Sirius, not wanting to see his reaction to his words.

Maguire nodded. “Have you noticed any bleeding from the ears? Perhaps a ringing sound?”

Harry shook his head.

“What about nausea or vomiting? Did you ever feel weak down one side?”

“Er, I’ve been feeling nauseous.”

“Constant, or intermittent?”

“Constant,” he muttered in reply, wishing to Merlin that he would stop asking so many questions. He looked down at his knee, his blackened hand pulling at a loose thread in his pajamas nervously. The bed creaked a little as Maguire sat down on the edge, turning towards his patient.

“Harry, just grasp both of my hands very firmly.”

Reluctantly Harry looked up, hesitantly grasping the hands Maguire held out towards him.

“Squeeze both of my hands as hard as you can, Harry.”

Sighing internally, Harry weakly squeezed the hands of the healer, frustrated as his muscles felt as though they had just awoken from a long uncomfortable sleep. Maguire squeezed back firmly for a moment, before releasing his hands. Just then, there was a knock at the door. Harry breathed a sigh of relief as the healers attention was diverted. Maguire gently stood up and crossed the room, Harry’s chart in his hand as opened the door a little, speaking in hushed tones through the small opening.

Harry pushed himself into a more comfortable position, awkwardly crossing his legs underneath the sheets as Sirius stood up from his chair. Gently placing his hand on Harry’s shoulder, he asked, “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” Harry muttered. “The potions are helping a little.”

Sirius nodded and peered across the room to where Healer Maguire was still speaking through the small crack in the door. “I think it’s them.”

“Ron and Hermione,” Sirius clarified. “Ginny too.”

Harry nodded solidly as he felt his heart rate increase.

“Are you sure you want visitors?” Sirius said imperatively, turning back to Harry and sitting on the bed beside him. “They don’t have to come in if you don’t want them to.”

“I do,” Harry replied firmly. “I need to see them.”

Nodding understandingly, Sirius turned his gaze back to Maguire who was still standing at the door. Looking back down at the bed, Harry caught sight of his blackened hand, the two needles easily standing out. He wondered briefly how bad his face looked, suddenly aware of the long deep cut that ran along his jaw. He clenched his hand into a fist, frustration and inner turmoil coursing through his veins. Now that they were here, he wasn’t entirely sure that he wanted to see anyone, let alone Ron, Hermione and Ginny. The need and desire to simply be left alone felt overwhelming, yet he knew he couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing proof that his friends were safe.

“You’ve got some visitors, Harry,” Maguire said, catching his attention. Harry looked up and nodded, relaxing his clenched fist as he forced himself to remain composed. Maguire opened the door and allowed a tall Auror to step inside, his wand drawn by his side.

Utter relief flooded Harry’s body as Ron cautiously stepping inside the room, casting his eyes around the room until they fell on Harry. Ron grinned awkwardly as he saw his friend, trying to hide his shock as Hermione and Ginny followed him in. Harry breathed with relief, smiling widely as he saw with his own eyes that they were all okay. The three of them stood there for a moment, no one seemed to know what to do until Ron moved forward, his smile finally meeting his eyes.

“Hey,” Harry said somewhat hoarsely as Ron made to clap him on the back, stopping himself at the last minute and squeezing his shoulder instead.

“Oh, Harry!” Hermione rushed forward to his bedside, slowing down before hugging him gently. Pain shot through the bandaged wounds on Harry’s back, but he hid his gasp of pain as Hermione slowly released him, taking a seat in the chair beside his bed. “We’ve been so worried about you!”

“Yeah,” Ron agreed as he stood behind Hermione’s chair, leaning against it. “It’s good to see you.” The unspoken words were clear to everyone in the room, it was good to see Harry alive. They had all reached the point where it hadn't seemed possible that this day would come and Harry recognized the relief on all of their faces. He felt the same way.

Harry looked up to Ginny, standing by the foot of his bed, her face blank. He held out his right hand to her, ignoring the discomfort he felt from the needles. Hesitating for a moment, Ginny took his hand and smiled weakling, moving closer and sitting down on the bed with him.

“You okay?” Harry asked her quietly.

“I’m the one who should be asking that!” Ginny exclaimed as Sirius subtly stood up from the bed, approaching the door where Mad Eye was watching. “Merlin, Harry we didn’t think we’d see you again.”

Harry swallowed and looked away from her. “Yeah, well…Are you okay, Ron?”

Ron took the opportunity to roll his eyes before responding. "I agree with Ginny. You should be worrying about yourself right now. We're all fine, you on the other hand look like you've been through too many rounds with a hippogriff."

Harry laughed genuinely, strangely pleased that Ron had the guts to say what they were all thinking. “Yeah? You should see the hippogriff.”

They all laughed, and for a brief moment it felt as though the past twelve days had not occurred. Harry’s brief happiness quickly subsided as he remembered his left arm was no longer bandaged, that the dark mark could be easily seen by any of his friends. He quickly sat him arm in his lap, making sure that the tattoo was no longer visible as their laughter subsided.

“Well,” Hermione began, her eyes filled with relief. “We’re all okay. Plus, you’ll be fine here, Mad Eye had the toughest time getting us in here.”

“Yeah,” Ginny agreed, squeezing Harry’s hand. “Nothing is getting through that door unless those Aurors let them through. They’re like a couple of bludgers on legs.”

Harry looked back at her, smiling at her description. She smiled back at him and his heart suddenly seemed to be going a hundred miles a minute, almost disbelieving that she was sitting right here with him.

“Ron,” Hermione muttered, drawing Harry’s attention away from Ginny. “We should go,”
Ron blinked at her in confusion for a moment, but suddenly understood as Hermione began glaring at him. He cleared his throat. “Yeah, uh, let’s go get a drink.”

“We’ll see you later,” Hermione promised as she stood up, kissing Harry on the cheek.

Harry nodded as they said good bye, leaving Harry and Ginny relatively alone for a few moments. Harry looked back at Ginny, glad for the moment alone.

“So,” he said awkwardly. “You never did answer my question.”

“What was it?” she asked as she moved closer to him.

“Are you okay?” Harry repeated.

“Yeah,” she replied, nodding as she felt her throat tighten. “Not a scratch.”

“They didn’t hurt you?” Harry pressed. “I mean, other than what I saw.”

Ginny closed her eyes as she shook her head, closing her mouth tightly. They sat in silence for a moment before Ginny re-opened her eyes and looked up at him, unable to stand it a moment longer. She placed her free hand behind his head and leant forward, kissing him gently, not caring that she could taste the blood from his split lip, or that Sirius and a bunch of aurors were probably watching.

It felt as though an enormous weight had been lifted off his chest as he gently kissed her back, pulling away after a moment. He sighed as she rested her forehead against his, his heart filled with relief at this final confirmation that she was okay.

“Hey,” he said soothingly, raising his head as he realised she was crying gently. “Don’t start that,” he continued, using his thumb to wipe away the tears that had fallen. Ginny laughed at herself softly, knowing that the tears were completely out of character. Had it been anyone other than Harry she would have been deeply embarrassed.

She looked down at his knee, hidden beneath the thick blanket before she spoke. “I thought they’d killed you,” she admitted.

“What?” Harry said in dismay, tilting her head so that she was looking at him again. “What do you mean?”

“I heard the curse,” Ginny insisted. “I kept calling for you, but you didn’t respond. What was I supposed to think?”

“Merlin,” Harry muttered, the full impact of her words hitting him at once. He pulled her close to him and she put her arms around him, hugging him firmly. He didn’t care that his back was stinging, or that his head suddenly began pounding away dully, he only cared about what he had put her through.

He wondered briefly if she had understood what he had told Voldemort about the prophecy, but he pushed the desire to ask her to the back of his mind. He could tell she wasn’t crying, but made no move to release her, simply holding her close for as long as he could, trying to prolong their time together. He turned his face into her neck and breathed in the perfume that she rarely failed to wear, the scent sending his head spinning as he inhaled again.

“Are you okay?” Ginny pressed, raising her head to look at him. “I mean- how do you feel?”

“I’m fi-” he began.

“Don’t say you’re fine,” she interrupted firmly. “You’re not.”

Harry sighed gently, looking past her and glancing at Sirius who stood by the door, watching them. Harry looked back at Ginny again, wondering how she seemed to know him so well. He closed his eyes and gently rested his forehead against hers, feeling her hot breath on his chin.

“I’m not okay,” he admitted softly. “But, I will be,” he promised, grasping her hand firmly as though sealing the promise. He felt her nod gently in reply, his answer having satisfied her. They spoke quietly for a few more minutes, both of them avoiding the subject of the prophecy before Mad Eye interrupted them.

“Ginny,” Mad Eye said softly as he approached the bed. “It’s time to go.”

Harry’s stomach seemed to twist itself into knots at these words, not wanting her to go, fear and paranoia filling him at the thought of her leaving again.

“I’ll come back soon,” Ginny promised him as she kissed him goodbye. Harry barely heard her, simply nodding at her words. She stood up and let go of his hand, kissing him on the cheek one last time before she left. He watched as Mad Eye quickly ushered her from the room, closing the door as they left, leaving only Harry and Sirius remaining.

Harry’s heart seemed to be filling his entire chest, his hand feeling oddly empty now that it no longer enclosed Ginny’s. Harry looked at the door blankly as his exhaustion suddenly hit him, his head pounding as he struggled to keep his eyes open. Sirius sat down on the edge of his bed, brushing the hair out of Harry’s face as he began speaking.

“You should lie down again,” Sirius began, having immediately noticed Harry’s fatigue. “You need some decent sleep.”

“I’ve been out cold long enough,” Harry said evenly, not meeting Sirius’ eyes.

“You need some decent sleep,” Sirius insisted. “Go on.”

Harry let his head fall forward for a moment, knowing that Sirius was right. Harry reluctantly lay down on his side, sweet relief flowing through him as Sirius pulled the blankets over him. Harry swallowed thickly as his eyes began drifting shut, using all his strength to keep them open. Seeing Harry’s struggle to remain awake, Sirius sat down in the chair beside the bed, gently taking one of Harry’s hands in his own, reaching out his other to Harry’s head. He began running his fingers through Harry’s jet black hair, occasionally feeling the bruises at the back of his head.

Harry was fast asleep after only a minute, and Sirius sighed with relief, the pressure to hold himself together was lifted now that Harry sleeping. Sirius removed his hand from Harry’s hair and now grasped Harry’s hand between both of his, trying to warm it up.

Sirius leant back in his chair, wondering whether or not he was right to not tell Harry that Aurors were coming that afternoon. 

A/N Hey everyone, sorry for the wait on this chapter. Life is pretty hectic at the moment, so as I have suggested previously, leave me your email adress, and I will contact you when I am ready to post. This way, you wont be having to check HPFF constantly. Does this sound okay?

This particular chapter is dedicated to Tears Of A Phoenix, who suggested 'Relief' as the name for Chapter 45. However, I thought it suited this chapter a bit better.

Heaps of thanks to Rachel, who is my wonderful source of advice and inspiring plot be honest without Rachel I would have given up on this story a while ago....*cheers for Rachel*

Please leave a review, let me know what you would like to happen next....I am open to all suggestions!

Thanks for sticking with me this far...


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