Chapter 109 : Remember
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"Ah, uhmm..." Alice Longbottom sat bolt upright in her bed, dry grey hair falling over her eyes.
"Nev..." the man in the cot next her to her murmured. His eyes flickered open and darted all around the room, focusing on everything and nothing at once.
"'Ogwars?" Alice mumbled, feeling that she was on the edge of a precipice. She tasted the word in her mouth, tapping at it with her tongue. "Hogwartz!"
"Gottufot..." the man whispered, raising his head. Slowly, he sat up too, looking around with a dazed look on his face. He raised a shaking hand up to his eyes and examined it carefully. The wrinkles of his withered palm caught in the light sharply, and he blinked.
"What's going on in here?" a young woman poked her head around the door. "Frank? Alice? Everything alright?"
"Got to fought!" the man next to Alice repeated, "Fight!"
"What's this about fighting?" the lady clucked, "Frank, it's not good for your health to be fighting. Was anyone mean to you, dear?" By then she had reached the man's bed, and was attempting, unsuccessfully, to ease him back down.
"Hogwarts!" Alice piped up, trying to help the man's case.
"What? Oh yes, Alice, your son is at Hogwarts, very good! I'm sure he's doing fine, and learning lots."
"No your son, Neville!"
"Nevull..." Alice murmured. She swept her hair out of her eyes and noticed for the first time that the young lady didn't look too well. She had odd shadows around her eyes, and her hair looked rather... frightening? Was that the word?
"Yes, Neville, that's right!" the lady said. "Now Alice, let's get you back down..."
But the man leapt out of his bed then, sheeting billowing up wildly. He knocked over the lamp next to him with a loud crash, its base shattering against the cold floor. The lady and Alice both started, and then there it was, clear as day in Alice's mind.
Without a word, Alice slipped her feet to the ground and took off after the man, who threw the door open and took off.
"Wait, Alice, Frank!" the lady hurried out after them, and reached for the man's elbow but missed as he jerked away. "Can I get some help over here?" she added desperately, raising her voice.
Two young men and another woman hustled out of a nearby room, shock spreading over their features at the sight of Alice and her partner. "Is this Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom?" the woman asked kindly, although she looked a bit shocked. "What's the hurry, you two?"
"Nevull," Alice said, at the same time Frank replied.
"Fight," Frank repeated.
"Neville? Did your son get into trouble at school?"
"Hogwarts!" Alice said proudly.
"Yes, Hogwarts," the woman looked perplexed. Then Alice's partner leapt into action.
She watched in awe as the scene unfolded before her: her partner lunging forward, grabbing the wand from the young lady behind them, her cry of alarm. The three Healers (for that was what they were called! Healers!) drew their own wands threateningly.
"Now, Frank," one began.
"Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy!" Alice's partner cried, and all three Healers fell, but not before one had cast a spell that caused rope to appear out of thin air and pin the man's arms to his side.
"Frank!" Alice cried, as the word came to her mind. Frank was toppling over, the young lady that had checked on them in the first place still watching with shock on her face. The wands clattered out of Frank's grasp, and Alice felt herself automatically reaching forward to grab one.
"Stupefy," Alice whispered, and the young lady fell to the ground as well, without lifting a finger in defense. In one fluid motion, Alice had untied her... husband? They ran down the halls, flimsy cloth gowns flapping, and heard footsteps on their tail. Alice simply had to pause to marvel. She was running. Running! She hadn't run in years!
"C'mon, Aliss," Frank huffed, dragging her along."Alice?"
"Yes," Alice whispered, "Yes, Frank."
They stepped into a small alcove to catch their breath and watched several people stream past, wands out. An idea sparked to life in Alice's mind, born without her prompting. She tapped her husband's head with the tip of her wand, the words floating in her head. And after a moment he disappeared, his body blending into the wall behind him! She didn't need to see him to know he was grinning approval. She tapped her own head, and faded into the background as well.
"Oh, Frank," Alice said, her mind flooded with memory, "My Frank..."
"Alice," Frank breathed, "All I know is that I was asleep, and then my son's― our son's face drifted into to my mind. He was yelling, shouting, saying that we had to fight. He's in trouble, I know it. We've got to find him, and then we can figure out what happened. And remember."
"I remember..." Alice murmured. "Neville, our son. He's at Hogwarts!"
"And he needs us. Let's get out of here. Remember how to Apparate?"
"I remember everything!"
"Oh, Merlin," Frank puffed, "One thing I didn't remember was the long walk to the castle."
"Stop complaining, Frank! We're here! Look at this!" Alice beamed up at the castle, taking in every detail. She promised herself she would never forget anything again. "Neville's in there somewhere."
As the words left her lips, a scream echoed around the grounds, fear simultaneously flooding Alice. As one, she and Frank ran into their old school, and down the halls to where they knew Gryffindor Tower still lay. Alice reveled in the fact that she knew her son's house. He must have told her in a visit to the hospital. She must have been listening. At least some part of her must have heard!
"Almost there," Frank said, rolling up the sleeves of the sweater he'd Conjured up for himself. They were both fully dressed now, and had performed the spell without difficulty. "Right around the corner."
Then the door came out of nowhere and smashed him in the face.
People were pouring out of the sudden new room, whooping and cheering, oblivious to the fact that Frank lay on the floor, out cold. Alice wanted to scream at them all for their ignorance, and began to move towards her husband. But then a tall young man knelt down and touched Frank's face gently. He moved his fingers over the neck and waited for a pulse, then sighed in relief. A single tear dripped down his face as Frank blinked a few times and smiled weakly.
Alice, nearly consumed by the crowd, stepped forward.
"Oh, Neville," she gasped, as her son fell into her arms.
"Mum," Neville sobbed, "Mum, you're back!"
"And I'm never leaving," Alice murmured, stroking her son's hair, "I'll never forget you again."
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