Chapter 48 : Chapter 48 Coming Home
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“Harry, do you understand that you have injuries that require ongoing treatment, and that you are leaving against medical advice?”
“Yes,” Harry replied firmly as he zipped up his jacket. He glanced at Sirius, who smiled at him weakly, knowing that he couldn’t stop Harry from leaving.
It was the very early hours of Saturday morning, and Harry had recently won his battle with Sirius to be released. Despite knowing that his injuries were very severe, he had insisted that Sirius take him home, to anywhere but the hospital bed that he had been confined to all day.
The healer nodded and quickly left the room, leaving Harry and Sirius alone for a few minutes.
“Are you sure you won’t stay?” Sirius asked again, hoping to Merlin that Harry would listen to reason. “You can barely stand.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “I can stand just fine.”
“You were barely able to change your clothes!”
“Only because you wouldn’t quit trying to help,” Harry retorted lightly as he flexed his wrist, which was now free from needles. Sirius didn’t reply for a few moments, so Harry leant back into the pillows, relieved that he was now fully dressed and ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
“How are the cuts?”
“They’re fine,” Harry lied, remembering the agonizing sensation he felt as the Healers painstakingly closed his many cuts and lacerations. He ran his finger along the deep wound on his jaw, feeling the raised up texture of the stitches he had been given. He suddenly noticed the glare he was receiving from Sirius, and quickly answered him again. “They’re a bit sore.”
Satisfied with his honest answer Sirius nodded, relaxing back into the chair as they both waited for members of the order to arrive. Harry nervously ran his fingers through his hair, wishing that he was home already. Sighing, he leaned back into the pillows as he briefly studied his left arm, the tattoo hidden beneath the bandage and his jacket. Despite the potions he had been administered, the tattoo still burnt away dully, and he wondered if it would hurt forever.
“Sirius,” he asked quietly.
Sirius’ head shot up, his attention now focused on Harry rather than on what was happening outside the door. “Yeah?”
Harry paused before asking what was on his mind, not entirely sure that he really wanted to know the truth. “Who knows about my arm,” he asked quietly, elaborating as he saw Sirius’ confused glance. “About the mark?”
“Oh,” Sirius replied, shoving his hands into his pockets. He moved away from the door and approached the bed, his lips pursed. “Only a few people in the Order,” he answered honestly. “Probably some Aurors, also.”
Harry nodded and swallowed thickly. “What about Ron? Or Hermione?”
“They don’t know,” Sirius interrupted before Harry could continue. He took his usual place on the edge of the bed. “Harry, don’t worry about it. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a mark.”
“I know,” Harry replied, his tone telling Sirius that he should drop the subject.
Time seemed to crawl by as Harry scrawled his signature onto the various parchments he had to sign, and he barely listened as Healers explained to he and Sirius the prescriptions that he would need to obtain, more concerned with how long the order was taking to arrive. He rubbed his tired eyes as he relished the idea of seeing Ginny again, before realising that she would probably be sleeping, as not many people knew he was leaving the hospital.
“Harry,” Sirius said quietly as he placed his hand on Harry’s knee, pulling him from his thoughts. “They’re here.”
Harry nodded as Sirius stood up and approached the door. Harry sat up and swung his legs over the edge, contemplating what seemed like a long drop to the floor. He looked up and smiled softly as he saw Tonks and Mad-Eye waiting outside the door, Sirius making last minute arrangements with the Healer. Gently sliding off the bed, Harry hissed as his trainers hit the floor, pain shooting through his feet and legs. He wiggled his toes and grimaced as he straightened up, waiting for a moment as he gained his balance before gently bending over and taking the strap from his bag. He straightened again and slung the bag over his shoulder, thankful that the Healers had numbed his back and chest.
Pain shot through his legs as he approached the doorway, the group of people gathered outside fell silent as they saw him. Seeing his godson up and walking, Sirius immediately converged on him.
“Are you alright?” he said hurriedly, placing his hand on Harry’s shoulder as though he expected him to topple over at any moment.
“I’m fine,” Harry stressed. “We ready to go?”
“We surely are,” Tonks replied cheerfully. “Good to see you on your feet.”
“I want to check things out one more time,” Mad Eye grunted before Harry could reply, avoiding having to look at him as he turned around and stalked off down the corridor.
“You’ve already done that,” Tonks said loudly after him, before continuing under her breath. “Twice.”
“Glad to be going home?” Healer Maguire said as he walked up behind Sirius.
“Definitely,” Harry said, leaning against the door frame to hide the wave of dizziness he experienced.
“Good,” he replied as he turned to Sirius, handing him a scroll of parchment. “Get this filled out at the Apothecary, and bring Harry straight back if there are signs of infection.”
“I will,” Sirius said with a nod as he pocketed the parchment before shaking hands with the Healer.
“Come on you lot,” Mad Eye grunted impatiently as he returned. “Let’s go,”
Standing up straight, Harry turned to the Healer as Sirius quickly ducked back inside the hospital room. “Thank you,” Harry said sincerely as he held out his hand.
Healer Maguire shook it with a grim look on his face. “You’re welcome. Just don’t let me see you back in here.”
“I’ll do my best,” Harry promised.
“We’ll take good care of him,” Tonks assured him as Sirius reappeared.
“Are you lot coming?” Mad Eye said from down the hall. “Or did I just come out in the middle of the night for my health?”
“Well we are in a hospital,” Tonks muttered as she rolled her eyes.
Harry smiled at her words as they began following Mad Eye down the deserted corridor. With Sirius’ hand firmly on his back, Harry barely paid attention to where they were going, hearing the occasional wail or bird like squawk from the bustling wards as they descended the still deserted staircase. He paid little attention to the various members of the order that they passed in the halls, each of them nodding at the group before following them from a distance. They soon came to the ground floor and cautiously exited to a small courtyard at the rear of the hospital, . Kingsley was waiting for them.
“Everything alright?” Kingsley asked as he began doing a quick head count.
“Yes,” Tonks said as she too started counting heads. “We’re all here.”
“Well get going then,” Kingsley said in satisfaction as he drew near Harry. “Good to see you, Harry.”
“Yeah,” Harry replied offhandedly as Tonks vanished into thin air with an audible crack. “You too.”
Two more cracks resonated through the air as people followed Tonks. Harry closed his eyes for a moment as he breathed deeply, relishing in the crisp feel of the night air. He opened his eyes and looked into the dark sky, suddenly thankful that he was able to enjoy such a small thing.
“You alright?” Sirius asked as he noticed Harry’s distance.
“Sirius,” Harry began in frustration, averting his attention from the sky.
“Okay,” Sirius replied before Harry could continue. “Okay.”
A bright light illuminated the courtyard as a wolf shaped Patronus entered. “It’s clear,” Tonks’ Patronus informed them.
“Right,” Mad-Eye said sternly as he walked over to Harry, his wooden leg clunking on the pavers. “Hold out your arm.”
Harry froze. “What?” he replied as Voldemort’s cold voice seemed to echo in his head, and the burning on his arm intensified as he remembered holding out his arm for Voldemort.
“Your arm, Potter,” Mad-Eye continued, oblivious to Harry’s discomfort. “We’re apparating.”
Harry remained motionless for a moment until Sirius placed his hand on his shoulder, having sensed Harry’s discomfort. Quickly collecting himself and forcing Voldemort’s command to the back of his head, Harry nodded and held out his arm, ignoring his racing pulse as Mad-Eye gripped it tightly.
“Ready?” Mad-Eye asked, waiting for Harry’s approval.
“See you on the other side,” Sirius joked lightly as Harry nodded.
Forcing a reluctant smile, Harry allowed Mad-Eye to guide them as they apparated to Grimmauld Place, not completely prepared for the awful rib crushing sensation. The apparition was over almost as soon as it began, and Harry gasped as he was suddenly able to draw air, his knees buckling at the same time. Obviously prepared for this, Mad-Eye had a tight grip on both of his arms and had stopped Harry’s fall before it even began.
“Alright, Potter?” he asked as Harry swayed in his grip, his gruff voice sounding genuinely concerned.
“Yeah,” Harry replied as he straightened up. “Thanks.”
Wasting no more time Mad-Eye quickly ushered Harry towards the front door that Tonks was standing guard over. She winked at him as he passed through, Mad-Eye following behind, his magical eye revolving constantly. Harry sighed with relief as he entered the familiar entrance room of Grimmauld Place, glad to be somewhere that he was familiar with after so long.
“C’mon,” Mad-Eye gruffed, resisting the urge to poke Harry in the back. “There’s someone downstairs that’s dying to see you again.”
Harry glanced over his back to the front door, hoping that Sirius would be following soon. His chest heavy with anxiety he started down the stairs to the basement kitchen, smiling genuinely when he saw Mrs Weasley.
“Oh, Harry dear,” she exclaimed, putting down her tea cup as he descended the stairs. It appeared that she had gotten up in the middle of the night, as she was wearing her dressing gown as she quickly walked over to Harry.
“Hi, Mrs Weasley,” Harry said warmly, smiling genuinely as she gently hugged him. He was grateful that she didn’t enclose him too tightly, and almost didn’t want her to release him. He sighed and smiled at her as she released him, trying to reassure her that he was okay.
“Oh, you’ve had an awful time,” she fretted as she gently cupped his face, the motherly gesture making his heart swell. She quickly looked him up and down, seeing the disapproval on her face as she spotted the long line of stitches along his jaw.
“How are you feeling dear?” she asked as she ushered him over to a chair at the long kitchen table.
“I’m feeling good,” he lied again, though he wasn’t nearly as bothered by her concern as he was by Sirius’. “Just tired.”
“Of course,” she agreed. “Can I get you anything at all, dear?”
She nodded as she bustled around him for another moment, taking the bag that he had slung over the back of the chair. The stairs behind him creaked and Harry was relieved as he saw Sirius slowly descending.
“Any problems?” Mad-Eye asked.
Sirius shook his head silently as he came over to where Harry was sitting. “C’mon,” he said quietly, clearly seeing the dark lines under his godsons eyes. “You need to get some sleep.”
“Sick of sleep,” Harry muttered as he reluctantly stood up.
“We’ll see you in the morning,” Mrs Weasley assured him as she kissed him on the cheek. Harry was shocked to see that she had started crying, but said nothing as she turned away, allowing Sirius to guide him upstairs.
As they stealthily passed the blurred portrait of Mrs Black, Harry suddenly remember something. “Sirius, do you know what happened to my glasses?”
“Yeah,” Sirius replied after he thought for a moment. “The Auror Department has them. I’m picking them up tomorrow morning, along with your wand.”
Harry said nothing, having only just realised that his wand hadn’t been returned to him. “I didn’t even realise that I didn’t have it,” Harry admitted.
“You had bigger things on your mind.”
Harry nodded as they ascended two flights of stairs, stopping short as they passed the bathroom door. “I might just have a quick shower,” Harry said, hoping that Sirius didn’t put up too much of a fight.
“You need to go to bed,” Sirius stressed as he too stopped in his tracks.
“I will,” Harry emphasised. “I’ll just be five minutes,” he pleaded.
Sirius considered this for a moment, his lips pursed. He nodded reluctantly after a few moments, summoning a towel and pair of pajamas as he did so.
“Five minutes,” Sirius stressed as he handed the clothes to Harry. “Then you’re going straight to bed.”
Harry nodded as he took the clothes, thankful that Sirius had chosen a long sleeved shirt. “Thanks,” he said as he opened the bathroom door and stepped inside, the cold tile floor soothing his sore feet. He raised his eyebrows as Sirius attempted to follow him inside.
“I’m quite capable of having a shower,” Harry said. “Why don’t you go to bed. You look like crap.”
“I look better than you,” Sirius said sternly as he made no move to leave the bathroom. Harry glared at him as Sirius stood in the door way, refusing to back down to his godfather.
“Fine,” Sirius muttered as he left the bathroom. “But don’t lock the door,” he stressed. “I’ll be right outside.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Harry muttered, glad to finally be left alone as he closed the bathroom door, leaving it unlocked as Sirius had requested. He sighed as he stood still on the spot for a moment, nervously running his hand through his hair as he thought. Feeling another wave of dizziness, he leant against the counter to find his balance, closing his eyes tightly as he waited for it to pass. When it did, he looked up into the mirror, examining his face for the first time.
“Oh dear,” the mirror said. “You don’t look so good.”
Ignoring the mirrors remark, he grimaced as he saw the colourful array of bruises that covered his entire face, and the various cuts and grazes. He gently traced the stitches on his face, realising why Mrs Weasley had begun crying, why Ginny had also cried. He vowed to have Mrs Weasley remove what bruises she could, knowing there was no way he was walking around Grimmauld Place with his face in such a terrible state. He reached behind him and turned on the shower, slowly tracing his bottom lip, swollen from the stinging cut in the corner of his mouth. Hot steam began filling the room as Harry gingerly removed his jacket and tee-shirt, dropping them on the floor as he studied the array of wounds on his chest and stomach.
He considered counting the many stitches that held his wounds together, but couldn’t be bothered as he wondered what Mrs Weasley would say if she knew the true extent of his stitches. He turned his back to the mirror and looked over his shoulder, wincing as he studied the many long thin lashes he had received from Voldemort. His heart felt heavy at the knowledge that the Healers didn’t know how to heal any of his wounds, the stitches simply holding them together until they could find an antidote for the dark magic. Harry curiously pressed the blackened bruises along his torso and stomach, gasping at the extent of the pain which shot deep inside of him. He unwound the bandage on his left wrist, studying the tattoo that had also baffled the healers. Unable to look at his injuries any more, Harry turned away from the mirror and finished undressing, surprised as he found more blackened bruises along his legs that he didn’t remember getting.
The water was scorching hot as he entered the shower, yet he forced himself to stay under, hissing as his whole body stung under the onslaught of the running water. He turned his face into the spray, sighing with relief as the hot water eased his aching muscles. He grabbed a bar of soap and scrubbed his skin raw, satisfaction flowing through him as darkened water ran down his body and into the drain. He washed the caked blood out of his hair and scrubbed his fingernails, removing every last trace of dirt and blood that he could find.
He lost track of how long he had spent in the shower, solely focused on scrubbing his skin raw until he finally felt clean. He reluctantly turned off the taps, the cold air shocking him as he grabbed his towel, slinging it around his waist as he stepped out of the shower. He rubbed the condensation off the mirror and examined his face again, realising that he could do with a shave. Feeling much better he opened the cabinet, looking for the razor that he normally kept there. He rolled his eyes as he realised that someone has removed all of the razors, fearing that Harry might do the worst. He knew he could put off shaving for a while longer, so he didn’t let this bother him. He quickly redressed into his pajamas and hung up his towel, taking one last moment to himself before he left the bathroom.
“I’m still kicking,” Harry said lightly as he left the bathroom, finding Sirius waiting in the hallway as he knew he would be. Sirius glared at him for a moment, not finding his joke funny.
“Straight to bed,” he replied sternly.
Harry nodded solemnly, knowing that he needed sleep. He allowed Sirius to usher him up another flight of stairs and along the hallway until they stopped outside of a familiar room.
“You’re room?” Harry asked.
Sirius nodded as he opened the door. “I’ll be right next door if you need me.”
Harry nodded as he entered, observing the comfortable double bed. “Okay.”
They stood awkwardly for a moment, unsure of what to say next.
“I’ll let you get some sleep,” Sirius said, breaking the silence. “Promise me something.”
“What?” Harry said quietly as Sirius placed his hand on his shoulder.
“Come and get me, if you need anything.”
“I will,” Harry said offhandedly, knowing that he would avoid having to wake his godfather at any cost.
“No,” Sirius said, obviously detecting Harry’s reluctance. “I’m serious. Come and wake me, it doesn’t matter what it is.”
“Okay,” Harry said seriously, looking him in the eye. “I promise.”
Nodding, Sirius pulled Harry into a firm hug. Harry breathed easily as he hugged his godfather back, his anxiety fading at the familiar touch.
“Thanks,” Harry muttered. “For staying with me at the hospital.”
“I wanted to be there.” He held Harry closer to him for a moment, as if it was possible for him to never let go. “Do you want me to stay with you for a little while?” Sirius asked as he released Harry, offering him last minute support. “Until you fall asleep?”
“No, it’s fine,” Harry said, wishing that he had the guts to say yes. “You should get some rest yourself.”
Sirius nodded and immediately pulled Harry into his arms again. “I love you, Harry,” Sirius quietly spoke into his ear. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.”
Harry’s breath caught in his throat, his chest tightening at the words. He knew Sirius was telling him the truth, and that scared him more than anything that had happened to him. “I love you too,” Harry whispered, the words almost getting caught in his throat.
Sirius nodded and slowly released him again, kissing Harry’s bruised forehead as he did so.
“Good night, mate,” he said as he left the room, the candles slowly dimming .
“Night,” Harry replied, watching as Sirius pulled the door behind him, purposefully leaving it half way open. Harry stood in the darkness where he was, suddenly feeling more alone than he had in a long time.
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