Chapter Two — They are Called Angels of Mercy for a Reason
There is a ward at St. Mungo’s that was set aside for those suffering the long-term affects of the Cruciatus Curse. It had been established during the First War with Voldomort because the Dark Lord and his minions “delighted” in placing that curse on those who opposed his reign of terror.
In the intervening years there were no new cases of that horrid curse. Most of those who were in the ward at the time The Boy Who Lived became
The Boy Who Lived, either recovered after a while or died. Those who died did so because they had no one who reached out to them any more. Families would find “reasons” to no longer visit on any regular basis. No contact meant a lessening of the spark of life that remained in the heart of those so cursed. Less spark—less visits—smaller spark—fewer visits—until no visits—no spark, no life at all.
The only remaining patients from the First War were Frank and Alice Longbottom. Neville and his Gran visited on a regular basis. Neville talked to them from the time he learned to talk as if they would wake up to him one day soon. His Gran joined him in this when he was small because he insisted on it. As Neville aged and learned the truth, it was his habit to keep talking to them as if recovering was imminent. It was what he had always done and would keep doing. By this time the healers had discovered the visit-to-life-spark degradation cycle.
Because Neville was sick with the Magical Mumps when he was nine, he missed almost a month's worth of visits. He noticed the visit-to-life-spark degradation after his absence and asked the ward medi-witch what had happened. She explained everything to him and he never missed another visit.
Neville hardly ever made demands on his Gran; she terrified him. But upon entering Hogwarts, he asked her to continue the same visit schedule and to talk to her son and daughter-in-law as Neville always had and as she did when with Neville. When he visited his parents at Christmas break in his first year, Neville noticed the lowered level of response from his mother the most. He was about to tell his Gran that he wanted to leave Hogwarts to be by their sides when he looked again at the visitor’s sign-in sheet.
He saw that his Grandmother had not kept the regular visitation schedule. When he turned to ask, her guilty expression was all he needed to see. He was furious and the ward attendent thought she would have to bring a sedative for him. Gran told the attendant that it would be unnecessary and gave Neville her solumn pledge to visit on any schedule Neville chose. She was as good as her pledge.
Between the Wars the ward was host to other memory accidents such as the self-inflicted full memory erasure of Gilderoy Lockhart.
Now, with the Second War going longer and stronger than the first, the ward had returned to it former use and had been expanded. There were a number of Muggles suffering from the same malady in the ward also. This war had had more impact on the muggle world than magic had had in over 500 years—ever since muggle hunting was made illegal in the Fifteenth Century.
One of the few wise things Cornelius Fudge did before being sacked from office as Minister of Magic was to contact the Muggle Prime Minister and get their government involved on a hush-hush level. This was needed, Fudge thought, for disinformation purposes to keep muggles in the dark regarding the war in the magical world.
It was a necessary and sensible move but the biggest benefit to the magical world that came from the muggles came in the areas of technology and medicine. The forces of Voldomort had recruited muggles with a propensity for meyhem to work in concert with Death Eater and Dementer actions. Muggle technology had proved useful in limiting the impact of their joint efforts.
Not having magic and healing on their side, muggle medical research had in some ways out stripped magical healing’s understanding of the human body. Their research into mental diseases and head trauma was far ahead of the efforts at St. Mungo’s. Therefore, the muggle medical experts brought to the wizarding hospital to help muggle’s suffering long term damage from the Cruciatus Curse had become a full part of the St. Mungo’s staff in this ward—helping with magical and non-magical patients on an equal basis.
St. Mungo’s had always had sophisticated protective wards to control entrance of unsavory elements to its interior. You could Floo to only three access fireplaces and you could only apparate to a special courtyard with tight security. The forces of the Dark Lord had never tried to attack the hospital.
Therefore, when Harry Potter apparated into the ward right beside the bed that had only been emptied twenty minutes before, it was the medi-witch that screamed, not the psyych ward nursing sister. The muggle nursing sister had been working at St. Mungo’s for over six months and she just assumed anything magical that happened was normal—or normal for the mind-freakingly not-normal-to-her world where she found herself.
She assumed that wizards could sustain the kind of damage Harry had received and keep going. She saw the look on the young man’s face for the girl in his arms and helped Harry get Luna settled as gently as possible. This was the first person that Harry had encountered since the battle that shared his level of concern for Luna and not for him. He did not care what happened to him. He was going to live long enough to see Luna well taken care of and restored and he was not going to let a little thing like dying stand in his way. This level of concern-only for Luna was also displayed by the nursing sister. Her equal of concern created an instant bond that Harry would trust implicitly and explicitly for the months to come.
The nursing sister wore the little-seen religious habit or clothing worn by a nun from her order. Harry was familiar with the garb and knew what she was, and the degree of her commitment to be in such apparel.
She heard Harry use Luna's name. “Let me help you get Luna comfortable sir.”
“My name is Harry. Thank you for your help. I assume you know about the Cruciatus Curse which did this to Luna. What do I need to do to help you?”
“I’m Sister Mary Claire. We’ll need more room than is available in this ward for equipment. After we get her in the bed I can go find a space for her in another ward.”
Before she could take another breath to continue, Harry raise his hand towards the wall and it pushed back twenty feet. He circled his hand and all the equipment needed, some of which was not even available at St. Mungo’s at the time, appeared along with a cot in the corner he intended to sleep on for as long as Luna was here.
“Is there anything else you need Sister Mary Claire?” Not knowing that any of this could not possibly occur, she looked around at the equipment and said to him, “This will do, and please just call me Claire. It is shorter and I have a feeling we will get to know each other much better over the next few months.”
By this time, the medi-witch had returned with security and the head Healer of the Ward. As they entered the ward from one entrance. Through another doorway entered Arthur and Molly Weasley, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, and Professors Lupin and Dumbledore. The rest of those from the battlefield not in the Hogwarts Infirmary would arrive over the next few minutes.
Hermione was heard saying, “Bu-but he is not suppose to be able to apparate into St. Mungo’s either. And how can he remain conscious or even alive with that much battle damage?”
“‘Mione, don’t you see," explained Ron with a hint of exasperation in his voice, "The rules don’t apply to Harry any more. He is never going to hurt anyone. He is never going to do anything wrong or selfish. He cares for us all so much and that concern applies to anyone he meets. BUT NOTHING is going to stand in his way. Like I said, the rules don’t apply to Harry any more. Get use to it.”
When the impossible occurs, the only possible explanation, regardless of how improbable, has to be true. Of course Hermione didn't like that one bit.
Claire registered this conversation as she was checking Luna’s vitals and anything else she could think of. At first she thought that this was a typical cursed memory case (which it was in any any ordinary situation) but Harry’s sense of urgency had transferred to her. She was working with a will, as if minutes would count in a situation where she knew time and love were the only hope—slim hope at best.
Molly Weasley ran to Harry’s side and began pleading with him to get medical attention. Harry just acted as if she wasn't there, and she eventually slowly pulled away as an ignored child might.
“Mr. Potter. You cannot come in like this and rearrange this hospital,” said the Head of Ward. “This young woman is in no danger because she will be here in this state for years, decades if you keep visiting her. You are the one we must see to. You are an infection hazard for the other patients and looking at you, I believe you should have fainted or died by now.”
Claire had heard of the name of Harry Potter. She new he was suppose to be this great and poweful wizard who was going to end this single-handedly some how. How could almost grown boy be this great champion? If he was in this terrible shape, and worried about this girl to the point of distraction, the war must be going badly indeed.
The senior healer continued speaking to Harry, “You have to be made well to continue you fight against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
Arthur stated distractedly, “Harry killed Voldomort this evening.” The healer flinched at the mention of that name. The medi-witch cowered and whimpered. “I suggest you do whatever Harry wants done because he will never submit to medical attention until you do. I am sure the Ministry of Magic and every magical person in this country will want you to do whatever Harry desires.”
Harry was not listening to any of this that Claire could see. He was sitting on the edge of Luna’s bed, holding her hand, and talking about their future. She knew very little but could see it all clearly. This young man, who was bleeding on the floor, had saved the world from a fate worse than it had ever faced. He will be heralded as the greatest wizard of the age and will probably make it into non-magical history books in some way.
Claire saw that none of this mattered to Harry. Wizards apparently did not endure such wounds as she first assumed. The tall gangly red-headed young man said that the rules do not apply to Harry anymore. But if these wounds are not normal for him to be able to endure, then he must get attention now so he can fulfill his promises of love and a life together to the girl. Claire realized that she did not like the idea of a dead hero.
She walked over to Harry and put her hand on his shoulder. Unlike the touch of Molly Weasley which was ignored, Harry stopped talking to Luna and stood up to face Claire.
“Harry, I promise we will do everything possible for her. Please let the doctors look at your wounds. You can stay over there on that bed and be near her but you know Luna would want you to be looked after.”
Within out looking away from Claire’s kindly eyes he spoke to the Chief Healer, “Can Sister Mary Claire be assigned as Luna’s primary nurse?”
The Healer harrumphed at the idea of a muggle as primary nurse for a witch but the look of all of those around him told him that it would be in his best interest to comply. “Of course, Mr. Potter. We will see that this young lady gets the very best attention. Now please let us look after you.”
Still holding Luna’s hand, still looking into Claire’s eyes with a combined look of hope and desperation that riveted her eyes to his, he said, ”Thank you sir, and please call me Harry.”
Then he passed out into Arthur Weasley’s arms. Though out cold and near death, Claire had to pry Luna’s fingers out of his grip.
Claire knew that he was going to be all right, and she began to hope against hope that the girl was going to recover just as Harry seemed to believe.
A/N—Only one in three readers that read chapter one get this far. But most of you will read to the end.
Please take a moment and review. Just like Professor said about chocolate, "It helps, it really helps." Thanks for reading.
Disclaimer---As always, what belongs to J K Rowlings is J K Rowlings'. What belongs to anyone else is theirs. Everything left is mine, I guess, but remember the old adage: "There is nothing new under the sun." — Aaran St. Vines***