Chapter 2 : A Little Wounded
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First of all, I have to give a HUGE hug and thank you to my amazingly talented betas, ElJay who edited and helped with the first two chapters, and theelderwand who has been on the job for the rest of the story! I couldn’t have done this without them! THANKS!
I follow the book version of the Harry Potter universe, not the movie one, with one notable exception. I’ve grown used to the way the characters look on screen so I have sometimes chosen to describe a character based on their look from the movies instead of the books.
Chapter 1: "A Little Wounded"
“I'm a little wounded but I'm not slain; I will lay me down for to bleed awhile, Then I'll rise and fight with you again”
- John Dryden
As Harry descended from the Headmaster’s office with Ron and Hermione, he decided he would make one more appearance in the Great Hall before slipping off to his cozy four-poster. After everything she’d been through that night, the grief and worry, he owed it to Mrs. Weasley to tell her where he was going before he disappeared.
“You gonna be okay, mate?” Ron asked as they walked wearily through the halls.
“Yeah – eventually,” replied Harry. They turned a corner and suddenly found themselves in the corridor where the blast had happened, where they’d lost a friend and brother. All three stopped short, breath hitching.
“What about you?” Harry returned softly.
“Yeah – eventually,” echoed Ron, voice thick with grief as he stared around them with overly-bright eyes.
“Come on, let’s go back to the others,” urged Hermione, gently taking each of them by an arm. “They’ll be worried about us.”
Solemnly, they finished the trek to the Great Hall, exhaustion returning in full force with each step. Harry had made up his mind to simply slip in, whisper a word or two to Ron’s mum, and then slip out again when they entered the doors right into a madhouse.
The place where Fred’s body had been laid was teaming with redheads, all yelling loudly at each other, and the body was missing. So was George.
“What’s happened?” he demanded, dashing over as worry clenched in his gut. “Where’s George?”
“And Fred?” added Ron, eyes narrowed.
Everyone ignored them.
“ARTHUR WEASLEY, YOU GET OUT OF MY WAY RIGHT NOW! I’M GOING TO ST. MUNGO’S AND I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU STOP ME!”
“NOT UNTIL YOU CALM DOWN, MOLLY!”
“Mum, we don’t know why they went!” Charlie tried to reason.
“You mustn’t get your hopes up! It was probably part of the Wand Sweep!” argued Bill.
“Then why would George have gone, too?” Ginny demanded, hands planted on her hips as she stood beside her mother. “I’m with Mum; we need to go to St. Mungo’s right now!”
This brought another round of yelling as everyone tried to get their point across at once, even Percy and Fleur joining in. Harry opened his mouth to shout for order but someone beat him to it.
“ENOUGH!” Ron bellowed from beside him, eyes flashing dangerously. Silence fell instantly as they all stared in shock at his friend, who was looking more than a little dangerous. “WHAT IS GOING ON?” he demanded.
Silence hung in the air around them, charged and explosive.
“Madam Pomfrey just took Fred to St. Mungo’s by Portkey,” his father finally explained carefully.
“And George latched on at the last second to follow,” added Charlie.
“St. Mungo’s?” asked Harry, a small burst of hope shooting through him.
“Did she say why?” asked Hermione.
“She didn’t say anything! Just grabbed my babies and left!” Mrs. Weasley seethed. “And I intend to find out why!” Harry was forcefully reminded of a lioness guarding her cubs.
“Molly, dear, of course we need to find out what’s going on,” Mr. Weasley tried to reason again, every bit of his grief and weariness showing in the lines on his tired face, “but we just can’t all rush there and troop inside.”
“Why ever not?” demanded Mrs. Weasley, rounding on her husband. “She took my CHILDREN! I think we have a right – ”
Her sentence was cut off abruptly by a dark shape darting in the broken window and swooping down through the middle of them. Nerves still frayed and on edge from the Battle, nine wands were drawn and pointed at it before they realized it was only a brown owl. It flew toward Mrs. Weasley, flung a note at her hands, and sped away, apparently highly offended by their welcome.
Mrs. Weasley caught the note and tore it open. She stared at it for a heart-stopping moment and then something Harry was sure he would never, ever see happened. Mrs. Weasley’s face drained of color, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she fainted dead away. Mr. Weasley and Bill barely managed to catch her before she hit the floor.
Ginny stared at her mother, eyes wide, then reached out and snatched up the note, reading it out loud.
Mum, Dad, get to St. Mungo’s right now. Fred’s still alive. – George
In the absolute chaos that followed, Harry couldn’t help but wonder how he could be crying so hard and so completely happy at the same time.
Harry stopped at the foot of the staircase and turned around. Professor McGonagall was striding down the corridor toward him, robes billowing behind her. Self-consciously, Harry ran a hand down his dirty, sweaty clothes and across his filthy face. He hadn’t paid much attention to his appearance in the four days since the Battle as he’d helped remove rubble and debris, and he certainly hadn’t planned on a meeting with his former Head of House before he’d had time to hit the showers.
“Yeah, Professor?” he asked, wondering why she’d bothered to track him all the way to the base of Gryffindor Tower.
“May I ask you where you’re going?”
“Erm…to take a shower, then thought I’d go to bed,” said Harry, rather puzzled.
“Going to help with repairs again tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’d planned on it,” he said, even more confused that she was finding it necessary to grill him in the hall about his activities. “Why?”
“I think, perhaps, the others could handle it without you,” she said tersely.
Harry stepped back, stung.
“Are you kicking me out? Do you want me to leave?”
“Potter – ” Professor McGonagall heaved a weary sigh. “Harry. The war is over, and you did Gryffindor – me – proud, but you don’t have to keep doing everything. You can’t fix it all alone. Let others have that job now.”
“But I want to help, Professor!”
“I know, and that’s part of what makes you you. But, Potter, are you helping here, or hiding here?”
The words hurt, perhaps because there was more than a little bit of truth in them that Harry didn’t want to hear. He opened his mouth to protest but McGonagall forestalled him with a hand. “Potter, I’m not kicking you out, as you so eloquently put it. The bed in Gryffindor Tower is yours for as long as you wish, you’ve earned it. But I think, just maybe, it’s time you went home.”
“Home?” he asked, confused.
“Honestly, Potter,” snapped McGonagall, sounding suddenly much more like his Transfiguration teacher. “Sometimes you force me to wonder if you would have made it through school without Granger’s help. Yes, home, Mr. Potter – the Burrow!”
The Burrow. Harry had always liked to imagine that he had a home there, but he’d never dared be so presumptuous to voice that hope out loud. Hearing Professor McGonagall actually speak it filled him with a warm happiness.
“Molly’s been sending me three owls a day demanding I return you. She refuses to listen when I tell her I’m not the one keeping you here, slaving away.”
Harry smiled for real; he couldn’t help it. “She’s not very good at listening once her mind’s made up,” he admitted.
“She’s not very good at listening when her children are involved,” McGonagall said curtly. “Please, Potter, a little mercy. GO HOME. Before she resorts to Howlers.”
Harry sighed. He wanted to; he missed the Burrow and all the Weasleys. He just wasn’t ready. Working in the solitude of the castle, sweating and straining as he fought to help make order again, it gave him time to think, to grieve, to put the battered pieces of his soul back together. Soon, he might feel whole enough to leave, but not quite yet.
“Tell her I’ll come home –” he said the word with extreme pleasure, “-soon, but I’m not ready yet.”
McGonagall eyed him for a long moment with an unreadable expression while Harry fought the urge to squirm like a first year. Finally, she nodded.
“I’ll let her know. In the meantime, make sure you stop to eat three meals a day. I will not have Molly Weasley accusing me of not feeding you.” She looked at him a moment longer and Harry didn’t think he was imagining the deep fondness in her eyes. “Well, off to bed with you then,” she finally said curtly.
“Yes, Professor,” he said with a grin, and turned on his heels and ran up the steps of the tower.
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