Disclaimer : Not owner. Barely writer. Truly devoted... er...
Another great big thank you to my beta and my reviewers (even if you just reviewed in your head...) Augusta and Rufus were directed to the fifth floor by the young witch working the lobby. Upon hearing the names of the people they were looking for, her eyes opened wide and were instantly filled with sadness; something Augusta picked up that scared her even more. In silence, the two visitors went up to the fifth floor where they found many grim looking Aurors guarding two rooms. Augusta sighted heavily while Rufus went to talk quietly to one of his men. The man nodded to what his chief told him and walked away for a couple minutes. When he came back an extremely tall and thin man, completely bald and with a nice dark tan, accompanied him. The Healer looked tired and nervous, passing his hand on his bald head and looking at some papers as he walked toward them.
‘Mrs. Longbottom, I’m Healer Draughter. I’ve been in charge of Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom since they came in early this morning.’ Augusta was quiet and simply nodded to show she was listening; she only wanted to see her son and was not interested in talking for too long. The Healer Draughter went on, ‘We have been able to find out that they have both been subjected to the Cruciatus curse for a long period; that is between 8 to 12 hours, each of them..’
‘What? How is that even possible?’ the woman asked in disbelief; surely they made a mistake in their estimations!
‘There were most likely many attackers, I would assume, and they probably took it in turn to use the curses. Before getting into further detail, I’m pretty sure you would wish to see your son and daughter in-law, am I right?’ Augusta nodded absently, still shocked by what she heard.
‘Now Mrs. Longbottom, before we go inside, I want to warn you. Both of them are very weak and extenuated. They will look passive and it is unlikely that they will notice you being there, do you understand?’ the Healer asked her quietly. Accepting Mrs. Longbottom’s silent nod as she wiped her eyes with a handkerchief, the Healer Draughter gave her a short smile before opening the way to room 505.
The room was small and white. It seemed to Augusta that everything, from the walls to the bed sheet, even the two inanimate figures lying in small separated beds, were white. Augusta sobbed when she spotted them and rapidly made her way to her son’s side, gasping when she got a close look at him. Frank Longbottom looked like he had aged 20 years in one night. His skin was transparent and strained. Dried tears had left streaks on his cheeks and his lips were dried and cracked. His eyes were open but empty. His eyes stared out but there were no emotions in them; just a dark, fixed pupil. Augusta kept murmuring her son’s name as she ran her hand through his newly white streaked hair it felt like they had been burned straight onto his head so much that the curses were strong.
Looking over to the next bed, she painfully noticed that her beautiful daughter in law, Alice, looked just as white and worn out as her husband. Her eyes were closed as if she was sleeping but every once in a while, her body shivered violently and her tired face contracted in evident pain.
‘They’ve been like that since the Aurors brought them here,’ the Healer Draughter’s soft voice broke the silence. ‘We tried to reverse the curses but they are too tired and, right now, their bodies cannot take much more magic. We will have to wait for them to get some rest and evaluate their recuperation before trying anything else.’
‘You said my grandson was here?’ Augusta simply asked, not knowing what more to say about her son’s situation. She wanted to get away from this room and erase this scene from her memory; this could not really be her son and his wife. They looked like them but it was impossible. She could not bear to look at them a minute longer, scared that she might start to believe what the Healer told her; that those really were members of her family.
‘He’s in another room, a soundproof room,’ he trailed off as Augusta’s head snapped up to look at him in a questioning way, her hand still stroking Frank’s hair. The Healer nodded, ‘The boy hasn’t stopped screaming since he was brought here. He asks for his parents and reacts very strongly when others try to get near him. Maybe your presence could sooth him.’
Augusta kissed her son and her daughter in law’s heads before following the healer out of the room. When they came out, the Aurors looked up in compassion, and although they wanted to know what she had seen, what was going on with their colleagues and friends, and what would happen next, they kept quiet and let the woman get to the next room.
‘Ready?’ the Healer asked before opening the door. Augusta let out a deep, long breath before showing her approval to him. As soon as the Healer opened the charmed door, the corridor’s heavy silence was broken by a high-pitched, heartfelt, child’s scream. Neville Longbottom’s despair and terrible sadness filled the hall and crept into the heart of every living person around the room. Rufus felt his very soul shatter and realised he had never truly experienced what pain was. Until now. In this instant, Rufus understood the true meaning of terror and suffering, something that would haunt Neville and himself for the rest of their lives.
‘My poor Neville,’ Augusta whispered, standing still in the door way. The emotion carried by the screams made her soul shiver. She could feel everything that her grandson had witnessed and it hurt her beyond everything she had seen in the previous room. Her precious, precocious and lively grandson, was no more. He was broken. Much worse than his parents… Augusta whipped her eyes with the back of her hand and slowly made her way into the room, the Healer Draughter walked in behind her, casting the soundproof charm on the door he closed.
In the small, closed room, Neville’s screams echoed and his pain filled the space as if the air itself was thick and heavy. The boy was in a small white crib that didn’t seem to belong there. Augusta figured it had been brought in especially for her grandson’s needs. Neville’s dark brown hair, so much like his father’s, were plastered on his head and his entire body was covered in sweat. The lingering smell in the air left no doubt that he was in need of a diaper change but still Augusta walked quietly up to the crib, her eyes never leaving her grandson. When she reached the side of the crib, Neville finally spotted her. His initial reaction was one of utter fear; his eyes grew wide and his breath and screams died in his contracted throat. When he recognised the figure next to him, Neville threw his little arms forward to be picked up and his crying started again, but this time, the little boy was begging to be loved; begging for someone to take him out of his nightmare.
Without hesitation, Augusta Longbotton dashed forward to grab her grandson and held him close to her heart. Neville threw his arms around his grandmother’s neck and held her with all the strength he could muster; holding on as if he would never let go. For a couple minutes they cried together, Augusta shushing the boy who, within five minutes, was sound asleep, still holding strongly to his saviour.
‘Thank you Mrs. Longbottom, you just brought a bit of peace in this little boy’s heart,’ the Healer Draughter said with a small smile, making Augusta jump. ‘Getting some rest will help him move on faster, physically and emotionally.’
‘Do you think,’ Augusta started in a whispered voice,’ do you think it’s possible? For him to move on?’
‘In the physical aspect, yes. He will obviously be tired for a while. We can expect nightmares and jumpiness but that will sort itself out in time itself in time; we just need to be patient. As for the emotional side, honestly, he might never make a full recovery. It will forever be a part of who he is. Now the way it could affect him might not necessarily be bad Mrs. Longbottom; never forget this. It will depend on how we help him deal with the event.’
‘Is there anything we can do for him? To help him not go through this?’
‘Some potions could help ease the emotional pain but, he’s just a baby so there might be some very bad side effects. We could also consider a memory charm to completely erase the event from his mind. I would suggest you think strongly about this since there is no going back with such a spell. There could be more consequences than advantages considering his age, his brain development and the strength needed to erase what he went through. Moreover, we do not know how he parent’s state will evolve so there could be no need for such a thing.’
‘So you are suggesting we wait and think over the possibilities.’
‘We’re in no rush here. Let’s wait and see if something even needs to be done, at first, and then consider the options that could be done to make this easier, not worse,’ Healer Draughter tried to be careful with his words. He did not want to give her too much hope no more than ideas about what could happen. Moreover, he strongly wished the boy would not need such drastic measures. He went on, talking quietly trying to bring Mrs. Longbottom back to the immediate needs of the little boy. ‘Right now, the best thing to do is what you are doing. Hold him, keep his as calm as possible, love him and help him rest. How about we bring in a rocking chair and some tea?’
‘Yes, yes that would be nice. Thank you Healer, for your support.’
‘I will be right back,’ he said leaving the broken family behind.
Augusta Longbottom carried her grandson to a small changing table where she found a small bath, cloths and diapers. With tears in her eyesshe began, as delicately and lovingly as possible, to clean and change the sleeping boy, hoping this would help clean and change his memories and emotional state.
So this is the last chapter that has been beta-ed so far. With all the reviews I am supposed to have, well it will help me work on the next chapter. If you have something you would really like to see happen or a comment that would help me redirect my story into something better, well don't hesitate to let me know!
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