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Chapter 8 : Chapter 8: Gris (English Translation: Gray)
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Gris (English Translation: Gray)
What Anwen could see in her mind’s eye horrified her. There was nothing in Harry’s mind, no fragments of memories, no small Harry flying around attacking things, no glass bowl of flowers, nothing. His mind had become a vast field of gray mist for as far as she could see. Anwen knew that she’d muttered an oath at the sight before her, though she would be hard pressed to repeat whatever it was that she’d said. Becoming cognisant that both Lily and Ginny were in the room with her, Harry’s godmother swore to herself that she’d say no more that could potentially upset the pair.
Anwen willed her essence to move through Harry’s mind, although she found it difficult to do so. The Healers had advised her against doing too much magic just yet, her body had been so weakened by the veracity of Harry’s mental attack that it was taking quite a long while to heal completely. This activity would fall outside the purview of those instructions she was certain. Moving amongst the mist was akin to walking in water, she was able to do it, but the steps were slow and deliberate. Anwen continued to search, constantly feeling as if there was something just on the horizon, but it never grew any closer to her. Mirages of memories were either floating in and out of existence, or Anwen was simply willing her mind to see something that did not exist.
She continue to search, struggling to refrain from becoming frantic, but at the same time knowing that the longer she went without any signs of Harry the worse the situation was. She had pushed herself past tired and was nearing exhaustion when she heard her husband bellow, closely followed by his heavy footfalls stamping their way up the stairs.
“Anwen Llyn Hodgson Black, I swear that you will be the death of me...” he swore under his breath as he cleared the stairs and rounded the corner to come into view of Harry’s room. The sight of Lily weeping while holding onto the hand of a vacant faced Ginny made him stop and proceed more carefully. “Anwen,” he said more quietly as he stepped into the room and gently laid his hand on her shoulder.
Anwen didn’t want to stop searching for Harry, but she couldn’t continue on -- neither her body nor her husband would have consented to it. Slowly and reluctantly she pulled her mind away from Harry’s, taking a deep and steadying breath before opening her eyes to look at her husband. She could see his anger at her disobeying the advice of her medical team, but there was also resolution in Sirius’ gaze. He acknowledged that there was no way he could have kept her from trying to help.
Sirius was halted by what he read in his wife’s eyes. He’d always been able to read her face as if it was a book, even when they were little more than children and Anwen started at Hogwarts. He knew better than anyone when she was frightened, overwhelmed or in despair just by the way she held her eyes. It unsettled him that he saw all three in her face right now. He could tell that she didn’t want to share whatever she’d seen with Lily and Ginny, protecting them from further distress. She would hold it until they could speak in private. Sirius dipped his face in a nearly imperceptible nod, letting her know that he wouldn’t press the issue until they were alone.
“Anwen, what did you see?” Lily questioned through her tears. Anwen swallowed hard before speaking.
“He’s not attacking himself anymore,” she answered.
“Well, that’s something, right?” Harry’s mother further pressed, hope lacing her words together.
“It is definitely something,” Anwen replied too quickly and Sirius decided to change the subject.
“Anwen, you weren’t supposed to be doing so much magic,” he gently scolded her, “you know you’re not going to get better without following the Healer’s instructions.”
“When have I ever done everything they told me?” she quipped back. “Anyway, you were out tinkering, AGAIN, and the girls wanted to see their friends. It’s good for Sitara to associate with other children her age.” Sirius bent down to look at his wife, shaking his head.
“Did you overdo it again?” he asked. She lifted her fingers and let about an inch or two space between her thumb and forefinger.
“Might have, just a bit,” she answered with a heavy sigh and an overtly petulant face. He leaned in and kissed her forehead before standing and walking the few steps to his godson’s bedside. He brushed aside the fringe that was obscuring his forehead and laid his hand on the boy’s crown.
“Harry, you know there is a trio of women out here who are waiting for you to come and speak with them. We’re all pretty worried about you, so any time you feel like waking up it would be great. We’re all here for you, just come back soon, okay?” When he was done, he leaned down and kissed the area where his hand had just laid. When he turned back to the room, Ginny’s vacant stare hadn’t changed, but Lily looked sadder and Anwen more despondent.
Sirius asked Lily for some tea, and the trio of old friends left Harry in his room with his medi-witch and Ginny. They had tried valiantly to get the young woman to leave and come socialise with them, but the girl roundly refused. He passed a worried look to his wife as they exited the room.
“She looks...desolate,” Sirius whispered to Anwen as he slipped his arm around her waist to help hold her up, noticing that she was more unsteady on her feet than usual.
“I’m not sure what’s going on there, but from what Lily said, it’s bad. No one can seem to reach her,” Anwen whispered back. The adults finished the walk to the kitchen in silence, and once they were seated Sirius started asking about Ginny again, hoping to deflect Lily’s further questioning of Anwen.
“Do you think that maybe we should call Arthur or Bill over?” Sirius asked.
“They’ve both been here, as has Charlie. He was going to bring Eira over to talk with her. Apparently they’ve bonded, since there’s at least another ‘Weasley girl’ now,” Lily explained with a smile. Anwen knew that her little sister and Ginny had become closer since Charlie’s marriage. She also knew that while Eira was willing to try to help, this was far out of her area of expertise and she was worried that she’d make things worse by saying the wrong thing.
“I’ll chat with her, see if she wants to come over sometime with me,” Anwen said as she lifted her mug to her lips. “In the meantime, Ginny needs professional help. Continuing as she is, it’s not going to make it any easier for Harry.”
The others nodded in agreement. Anwen didn’t say it aloud, but she was convinced that the lives of the two youngsters were so completely intertwined that if Harry didn’t recover, Ginny wouldn’t either. Before the conversation could continue a herd of small footsteps alerted the adults to their children’s imminent arrival.
“Mum, Brynne took the doll that Grandma Evans gave me for Christmas,” Emma complained, Lilyan Black nodding her head to support her best friend.
“We needed it, and I took it only after she’d taken my blankie and threw it on the top shelf,” Brynne retorted. The adults were confused why she was holding the aforementioned beloved baby blanket wrapped around her sister’s doll.
“If Emma took your blankie, then why are you holding it?” Lily asked her daughter.
“Because Jamie got it down for me,” Brynne explained. “I gave Sitara my baby doll, so I needed Emma’s.”
“I see. Unfortunately, that isn’t a baby that should be played with. How about if you use your puppy instead?” Lily suggested, to which the youngest Potter nodded and gave Emma back her doll. “Brynne, please stay out of Emma’s things. Emma, don’t pick on your sister.” Lily droned, giving the same instruction that she repeated frequently. More footsteps alerted them that another round of small Potters and Blacks were about to arrive. This time, however, the sound was accompanied the sounds of crying. Jamie Black entered holding the hand of little Sitara.
“Mummy, I don’t know what’s wrong with her,” Jamie explained as she brought her sister further into the room. “She was playing dolls and brushing my hair and then she just started crying.” When the small girl saw Anwen, she released her sister’s hand and flew across the room into her mother’s embrace. Anwen lifted the girl into her lap, Sirius placing a gentle hand on the child’s back while at the same time reaching out for his older daughter’s hand.
“Sitara, sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Anwen whispered.
“Sadness, just too much sadness. I can't make it stop. Misses Anwen, make it stop,” Sitara explained through her tears.
“Okay, angel, it’s okay,” her mother soothed. “We’ll be leaving soon.” Anwen shot a look to Sirius who understood. Begging their departure, he gathered up his daughters and Sirius took his wife and children home.
That evening, when all the children were in bed and with Elizabeth in charge of the house, Anwen and Sirius slipped through the Floo to the Lupin’s home. Anwen needed Eva to see what she’d seen, and she hoped that together they’d be able to find a way to approach James and Lily with what she’d found.
“That’s just...” Eva said, dumbfounded, “I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There’s just nothing.” The four were sitting around Remus’ small pensive, Anwen’s memory of being in Harry’s mind this afternoon playing.
“I’ve seen some people do interesting things to protect their minds from trauma, but I’ve never encountered a space with nothing in it. Even when I read the twins before they were born there was something there,” Anwen explained.
“You read your twins before they were born?” Remus clarified, surprised.
“I,” Anwen hesitated. “It was an experiment, really. All the children had been very strong in their magic before they were born, but the twins were different. Lilyan had her thing for oranges, but John and Jamie...I knew they were a handful even before they were born.”
“You mean the duelling cravings?” Eva asked and Anwen nodded slightly.
“That’s only part of it. It was obvious which one wanted things, and knowing them now I’d say that Jamie wanted the salty and John wanted the sweet, but no, that wasn’t the sum. One day, about a month before they were born I was upset at Sirius. He’d come in from riding and left his boots in the middle of the foyer, again.” At the mention of this Sirius nodded his head, apparently remembering whatever story Anwen was beginning.
“Well, I tripped on the aforementioned boots, and naturally being eight months pregnant with the twins, lost my balance and fell to the floor. I was rather irritated as I had been telling him about the hazard he was causing. He heard me fall, came running and the twins knocked him to the ground and held him there. They were apparently irritated that Daddy had hurt Mummy. After that I wanted to see just how aware they were of things, if I could. Doing Occlumency on them was definitely one of my more interesting mind trips.”
“What did you see?” Remus asked, fascinated.
“They didn’t have pictures or words to tell their stories -- no real eyesight to give them visual references -- but they communicated through sounds and emotions. They knew who people were not only by the way they heard them but also on how they felt when they recalled the voices. It was disconcerting to say the least, but when I stopped relying on my eyesight and instead used my other senses I was able to get my bearings. It was fascinating. If you'd like to see the memories I'd be glad to share.”
“It sounds quite unique, maybe once things are calmer,” Eva remarked and Anwen nodded.
“Wait a minute,” Sirius spoke up, something catching his memory, “you don't yell about my boots anymore, but I still kick them off when I walk in the door.” Anwen gently patted his shoulder.
“Yes, dear, I know,” she sighed. “I've charmed the boot mat to go and find your boots and bring them back to the mud room.”
“You charmed it? I thought I was the charming expert in this family?”
“It might be your career, but I held my own at school. I seem to remember some pink fur...” Anwen and Eva immediately began to laugh while the men shook their heads.
“Enough of that. Tell me about what you saw with Harry,” Remus hastily changed the subject. As quickly as the merriment had come to the room, it had now left it.
“It was just a vast sea of nothing.” Remembering how the void felt sent a shiver up Anwen’s spine that was only quelled by her husband’s hand resting between her shoulder blades.
“Could he have been employing some form of Occlumency?” Remus asked.
“I suppose, but it’s not like there was something repelling me or even concealing his memories. They were just...gone,” she explained.
“We encountered some strange things in Bosnia last year,” Eva reminded her, “was there anything similar?”
“Most of those were cases of brains being scrambled after they’d been tortured. The memories were there, they’d just been tangled together, like a big ball of twine that needed to be straightened and then rewound. It was nothing like this,” Anwen said with a defeated air before she put her hands over her face and laid her elbows upon the table. “I feel like the answer is right there, just out of reach.”
“You’ll find it, love,” Sirius tried to console her.
“But will I find it in time? Harry’s not out of the woods, it’s no longer life or death for him, but he's not well. Now I’m worried about Ginny, too. She’s fallen so far, so quickly already.”
“She did look poorly today,” Sirius confirmed.
“Poorly is an understatement,” Anwen corrected. “I could barely get her to speak or move. What I found the most disturbing, however, was that she doesn’t ever get closer to him. Lily told me that she sits over on the far side of the room and just watches him. I don't know what's happened to her, but she's not the same girl she was before Harry took ill.”
“It's a rather stressful thing to have the person you love be in a coma,” Sirius reminded the group. “I've been there, done that.”
“True, but...” Eva began, the brow furrowed as if she were in deep contemplation. “You and Anwen are married and have been together for years. Harry and Ginny aren't even a couple. His illness shouldn't be affecting her.”
“She's still in love with him,” Anwen said. “We knew that he still loved her...”
“From the looks of it though, love might not be enough,” Sirius added quietly. “It was like he was sucking the life out of her.”
Eva slowly blew her breath out, but didn’t say anything. Her friends took it as confirmation that she was out of ideas as well.
Another week passed and the school year ended, heralding the arrival home of the Potter and Black boys. Bastien had avoided going to the Potter home for he couldn’t stand the sight of the shell Ginny had become. He’d accepted that her heart belonged to Harry, but it didn’t change his sadness at what she’d become. He just wanted to see her smile again, and it pained him that he couldn't do that for her. Only Harry could. Three days after he arrived home, however, a task required him to visit Potter Manor, and Lily Potter specifically. He chose to go just after breakfast, his hope that the usual commotion of the house would mask his presence and he wouldn’t be asked to call on the sombre pair. His mood was so poor that his Mum had asked him to stay away from his newest sister as he inadvertently made her throw things or cry as she took on his emotions and didn't know what to do with them.
Taking a deep breath and looking to his father for one last reassuring look, Bastien passed through the Floo from one house to the other. He held in his hands the paperwork that would officially assign him to the Medicinal Potions Making department of the Ministry of Magic. He needed to have several pages signed and initialled by his supervisor before he could begin his studies. That meant he needed to see Aunt Lily. She was feeding the girls breakfast when he walked into the kitchen. The girls got up and hugged their cousin and chatted with him until their mother sent them away to get dressed.
“Bastien, we've talked about this at length,” she said quietly as the girls left. “I won’t be into the office, you know that, right? I don’t know when I’ll be able to be back...”
“I know, Aunt Lily, but he’s going to get better and then you’re going to want to go back to your research. I’ll just keep your experiments going and work on your research paths while you’re not there.”
“You know, with your marks, anyone would be happy to have your as their apprentice. There are others who are fine Potions Masters and researchers in the department,” she again told him, hoping that he’d change his mind. Lily couldn’t imagine ever being able to return to her job, her son required too much from her now.
“I know, but it’s your work that I’m most interested in. I always have been, Aunt Lily. Now, how about if you sign these so that I can go and get organising that really nice windowless dungeon space that they showed me last month in the bowels of the Ministry,” Bastien teased and Lily smiled for the first time in what felt like ages. She took the parchment scroll and signed each of the pages and then called her owl over to take the forms to the Ministry.
“I would have delivered those myself,” Bastien told her as they were flying out the window.
“I know, but I thought maybe if I saved you some time you’d be willing to go and see Harry and Ginny while you were here. She does react to you...” Lily suggested hopefully and the young man looked at his aunt and weighed her brightened look against his dread and relented. She hugged him tightly before he left the kitchen and heading up the stairs.
Cresting the stairs, Bastien saw his uncle in with Harry and Ginny; he was coaxing Ginny to eat her breakfast while the medi-witch was feeding Harry. His stomach lurched as he watched the kindly older woman charming the thinned porridge into Harry's mouth. His Mum had explained that Harry was having his weight kept up by potions rather than eating, but if they didn't feed him, his stomach would lose the ability to digest foods.
“Bastien,” James said as he stood. “It's good to see you,” he said with a warm hug. “Congratulations. I understand that you're going to be Lily's apprentice. Her last one went on to win the Montgomery Prize.”
“Not doing this so I can win international potions prizes, Uncle James. I think the work she's doing is important. How's he doing?” Bastien asked, tipping his head toward Harry.
“About the same. I was glad that your Dad was able to take over at the office, we're headed to Scandinavia in another week, and it's good that I don't need to take care of the shops.”
“He's glad to do it, although he might create some new products while you're away.”
“His company, too,” his uncle said wistfully. “Ginny, sweetie, look who's here. Why don't I go and get you some more fruit and you can chat with Bastien for a minute.” With that James left the room, leaving Bastien alone with the pair and the medi-witch. The young man sat down in the chair that his uncle had vacated and started talking with the girl who he still had some strong feelings for.
“Hey Ginny, how are you doing today?”
“Okay,” she answered, surprising him. His Mum had said that she hadn't spoken a word to either her or Aunt Lily all week.
“That's good,” Bastien replied, hoping to get her to speak more, or at least until his uncle came back. “He looks good.”
“Yeah,” the word was no louder than a breath, “but he's lost, Bas.” The young man reached over to take her hand in his, excited that she was communicating. As soon as his fingers brushed hers, however, she pulled them away as if she'd come in contact with something caustic. Bastien quickly held his hands up as if he were showing that he didn't want to hurt her and scooted back in his seat, putting some distance between them.
“Ginny, do you know where he is?” Bastien asked, hoping to get another response out of her, or at least keep her speaking until his uncle returned.
“He told me he's looking for them.” Bastien felt his heart stop beating for a second.
“You talked to Harry? When? Since he's been out of hospital?” The boy was excited, but his enthusiasm must have spooked her, for she stopped talking and went back to staring vacantly at Harry. Before he could do anything the Medi-witch was up and calling down the stairs for Mr. Potter.
Bastien repeated everything that had transpired between him and Ginny for the Potters and then again for Healer Weston and Aunt Eva, but no matter what he attempted, he could not get Ginny to speak again. Nearly an hour later he finally left for his first day of work at the Ministry, tardy. He didn't think it was such an auspicious beginning.
For her part, Ginny hadn't realised she'd spoken aloud to Bastien. The conversations she'd been having with Harry were silent, well at least to everyone else; to Ginny his voice rang loud inside of her mind. The first time it happened, she was convinced that she was going crazy. It was only a few hours after she'd told Harry that she was there, that she cared, and that he'd responded so violently. She could hear his voice whisper to her: “Please stay with me, Gin.”
Ginny had been sitting next to the bed, and had rested her head on the side of Harry's bed, her hand woven into his. When she heard the whisper, she popped up, looking at him. His eyes were still closed, his face still placid. She began speaking aloud out of habit.
“Harry, was that you?” She looked around the room wondering if there was someone else with them. There wasn't. His parents weren't even there at that moment, they were in the hall conversing with the Healers about what had happened earlier. Her question was met with silence, and she chocked the words she swore were from Harry up to her overactive and desperate mind.
The afternoon passed silently, Ginny both hoping and dreading that she'd hear Harry again. Just before she dozed off that night she heard him again. “Thank you for staying.”
“Harry?” Ginny looked around, but saw no one else. Her gaze fell onto Harry's still, prone form and she felt confused again. “Please, Harry, if it's you, let me know? Are you real?” She was certain that her mind was going. Too many hours of sitting, waiting, hoping for some sign that Harry would be alright had caused her mind to play tricks on her.
“Gin, sweetheart, it's me. I'm not where I'm supposed to be...” with those words he began a conversation with her, even though nothing was spoken aloud. Harry was fully aware of what was going on around him, what was being said about his medical care. He knew when he was being fed or when the cleansing charms were being performed on his internal organs. He kept a near constant running monologue with Ginny about his state of being, even often whispering memories of their life together to her while she slept. She had to be in the room with him, or it seemed the connection was broken, and it took a long while – painfully long while in her eyes – for it to be re-established when she returned.
For her part Ginny kept herself open to the utterances and desires of Harry, revelling in the words that he expounded. She realised that she needed to be still and concentrate in order to hear him clearly, and while she never showed it, it was irritating for her when others would try to interact with her. It diverted her attentions from Harry and she was always fearful that she'd miss something important that he had to say. Part of her knew that the people around her were worried about her physical and emotional states, but she had no way of explaining that she was fine without explaining what was happening to Harry. She was terrified if she told them that she could hear Harry, she would be soon on the 'special ward' at St. Mungo's.
She'd moved from sitting next to him to sitting across the way from his face. She didn't know why, but it made it easier for her to look at his still features even when she was hearing his disembodied voice. She attempted to get him to explain to her where he was, but he couldn't tell her anything about the place. He described it as an empty void that was occasionally punctuated with overwhelmingly bright images of the two of them together.
She wasn't sure how he knew, but he could tell when different people were in the room. He enjoyed seeing his younger brother and sisters, but Ginny would need to remind him of their names. His mother's touch brought him boundless comfort and he was always pleased when his father was there. The first time that Anwen came to visit, Harry was frightened of what she'd think, and then was amazed that she willingly went into his memories again. He'd tried to locate her, but he saw no sign of her being anywhere near him. When Sirius came in that day Harry was again frightened, but rejoiced in his godfather's touch. Ginny could feel that Harry was sad, however. He wanted to wake up, but he couldn't figure out how. This saddened her deeply. She missed Harry and wanted him to wake up, put his arms around her and kiss her. She wanted to figure out how to put the past behind them and move on with their future.
She had found several gaps in Harry's memory, but chose not to point them out. He hadn't remembered attacking Anwen and only learned about it from the conversations around him. There were still things about his odd behaviour, and especially about his mental attack of his godmother that he didn't know and she was hesitant to bring up. Harry also had almost no memory of anything that had happened between them since returning from 1980. Since in her mind the last few months were difficult at best, she opted to keep these memories to herself as well. Whenever she suggested to Harry that she tell someone – his mother or father were her first choice – he vehemently disagreed with her, fearful that someone would try to take her away from him. Ginny was his only connection left, and he kept telling her that if it was somehow broken he knew he'd be lost wherever he was forever.
His request made her nervous, but Ginny complied. She wanted Harry home with her. She wanted him well. She couldn't afford to lose him either. If this was all she could have, for the time being it was enough and she wouldn't do anything to jeopardise it.
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