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Consequences of Battle
Ron awoke with a pounding headache. Opening his eyes, he groaned as the bright light of the hospital wing hit him full in the face. He could hear excited voices all around him, but the pain in his head kept him from concentrating on any one. Fragments of conversations filtered through his tired brain, but made little sense to him.
“ Wish…Harry…still asleep.”
“ Do you…hear…talk…us?”
With a groan, Ron turned over on his side away from the voices and fell into a deep natural sleep.
The next time he awoke, Ron found that the pain in his head, while still there, had considerably lessened. When he opened his eyes this time, two blurry shapes appeared above him, one taking each of his hands. He assumed the brown blob to be Hermione, and the red one to be Ginny, although he couldn't make their faces out. As he adjusted to the light, the blurring of his vision lessened until he could see his two friends clearly. Both wore relieved looks on their faces, but Ron could still detect a deep worry buried in their expressions. He needed to find out what was going on. He couldn't remember much of the battle, nor could he remember why he was in there. There was only one obvious question.
“ What happened?”
Hermione exchanged a look with Ginny, and it appeared as if they were deciding who would explain it to him. As the silent conversation ended, Hermione sighed and turned to her boyfriend.
“ You're in the hospital wing at Domus Corvus Corax. You've been here for the last two weeks. You woke up briefly on Monday, but went back to sleep before we had chance to talk to you. Can you remember what happened at the battle?”
Ron thought hard, coming up with very little. His memories of the last few minutes before he fell unconscious were hazy at best. The last thing he remembered clearly was…
“ Harry! Harry got attacked!”
“ That's right. Is that the last you remember?” Ginny prompted.
Ron concentrated on the images swimming in his head, but none became any clearer.
“ That's it. Everything else is a blur. I can remember Harry being attacked by…a vampire?”
“ Yes, that's right. From where I was standing, I saw you run and help him, but he got hit with some curses. You did…something…to him, but we don't know what. Then you collapsed in exhaustion,” Hermione told him.
This new information filled in some of the blanks in Ron's memory and some of the details started to come back to him.
“ I remember some of it, now you mention it. I did something with my hands. They started to glow. I could see he was hurt bad, and I wanted to heal him, but I didn't know how. Harry's the one that knows all of that elven healing magic, not me. I felt so helpless, and I just…willed…him to get better. I think some of the more serious injuries healed, but then I started to feel really tired, and I couldn't keep it up anymore.”
“ You must have worn yourself out doing…whatever it was you did. I've never heard of anything like it before, I'll have to ask Professor Dumbledore when he comes back. He's been to visit every day to check on your progress. Ginny and I have been here all the time.”
“ Aren't you missing school?”
“ You're more important than school. We were going to have you moved to Hogwarts, but Minh thought it would do more damage to Harry if we moved him.”
“ Harry! Of course! How is he? Where is he? Can I speak to him?”
The two girls looked to the floor. They had been dreading telling Ron what had happened to his best friend, but knew they could put it off no longer. It was Ginny who spoke up.
“ Ron, Harry's…he can't talk to you. The vampire attack was more serious than it at first appeared. And he sustained damage from the curses thrown at him by the Death Eater.”
“ Don't tell me he didn't make it…he had to have made it. Right?”
“ Oh, he's still alive. Sort of…”
“ SORT OF! Ginny, tell me.”
“ He hasn't woken up yet. Whatever you did to him stopped him from dying, and Minh and Madame Pomfrey have done all they can to heal the physical injuries. Ron, he's unresponsive.”
“ He's in a coma.”
Meanwhile, back at Hogwarts, Sev was getting decidedly worried. A little over two weeks ago, Harry had walked out of the Hall, telling him he had something to do. Two days later he had vanished from Hogwarts without a trace. Sev had a horrible feeling in his gut that something really serious had happened to his friend. He knew Harry was violently opposed to the Dark Lord, and he also knew from his father Satanus, one of Voldemort's most trusted Death Eaters, that there was an attack planned for Hallow'een. He hadn't heard in advance, but the morning of the 31st, a letter had arrived from home telling him of the attack, and to hope his father did well to serve his master. Sev was disgusted with the whole thing, but having gone through this for many attacks over the years, thought little of it. However, when Harry never came back on Hallow'een, he started to suspect that Harry had been there, on the opposite side from his father. The fact that his only friend had never come back again made Sev rather nervous.
News of the battle had been all over the Daily Prophet the following day, claiming that a secret organisation believed to be led by Dumbledore had fought back the Death Eaters and saved St Mungo's. It had also mentioned that there had been several casualties on both sides. When he had first seen the headline, Sev had been relieved. Although Satanus Snape was as loyal as a Death Eater could be, Severus had no desire to follow in his footsteps. He hated everything about the Dark Lord, but knew the time would come when his father would take him to a meeting for his initiation. There was nothing he could do about it, and he knew it. When he saw the headline, he was pleased that the Death Eaters had lost, but when he noticed that there had been casualties, and Harry hadn't returned, he started to panic.
Although Sev knew the situation with his father was hopeless, and that he would be forced to choose between serving the Dark Lord and losing his life, his friendship with Harry had brought him hope. Hope of a better future, where he could make a difference, and someday be free of the ties of blood that were forcing him into a corner. The training Harry was giving him had started to pay off. Sev was much more confident, and sure he could live through the war to someday redeem himself for the crimes he was destined to commit in Voldemort's name. Harry was his ray of light in a dark world, and to lose him now would shatter the boy beyond all recognition.
As he headed down the corridor on the way to Potions, he heard the pounding of feet behind him and a heavy hand landing on his shoulder. Looking up, he was surprised to see James Potter looking back at him.
“ Snape, can we have a word?”
“ I don't have anything to say to you, Potter,” the Slytherin spat.
“ Now, don't be like that. We were just wondering if you knew where Harry and his friends were. Nobody's seen any of them in two weeks, and we were starting to worry.”
“ Harry's friends are missing? Hermione, Ron and Ginny? I hadn't noticed, but now that you mention it…”
“ So, do you know anything, Snivellus?” Sirius demanded, starting to get impatient.
“ Not a lot, Black. But why should I tell you?”
“ Because we're friends with the four of them, and we're concerned. I'm sure you're worried about Harry,” Lily put in.
“ Fine, follow me,” Sev said, leading them down the corridor and into a deserted classroom. After spelling the door shut and casting a strong silencing spell, he turned to his Gryffindor rivals.
“ First of all, what do you five know?” he demanded. Remus was the one to speak up, having decided to take over the conversation, as he was known as the most level headed one of the group.
“ We don't know anything, Severus. The last we saw of them was Hallow'een at breakfast. Ron said something to us about being gone for the morning, but that he would be back in the afternoon. He left about nine o'clock, and we haven't seen him or the others since.”
“ Well, I don't really know anything more than you, Lupin, but I have my suspicions. I can't speak for the other three, as I don't know them very well, but Harry's strongly opposed to You-Know-Who. He hates him with a vengeance, but he never told me why…”
“ We know. He told us not to tell anyone, though,” Sirius said with a smirk, earning himself a scowl from Sev.
“ Tell me. It might give me some ideas about the situation.”
“ Alright,” Lily said, “ But don't tell him we told you. Sometime last year he was captured by Dark wizards and held captive for two months, where they tortured him. The Muggle way. He's covered in scars from it; I'm surprised you never noticed. Anyway, he didn't say who it was, but he said it gave him a grudge against Dark Lords in general. The only explanation is that he was captured by You-Know-Who and his followers.”
Severus could only stare at the girl in horror. Harry had never told him why he fought Voldemort's side so fiercely, but now he knew. A knot of guilt started to form in his stomach when he realised that one day he would be the enemy. Harry would hate him like he hated those who tortured him. As his thoughts began to spin out of control, Remus asked again what the Marauders had been wanting to know.
“ So, Severus, do you know where they might be?”
“ Um…well, the only thing I could think of was the battle. You know, the one at St Mungo's? It was on Hallow'een, and that was the day they all disappeared. If Harry wants to oppose He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, then the best way to do it would be by fighting in a battle like that.”
Realisation suddenly spread across the faces of the five Gryffindors as it occurred to them that their arch enemy was right. It was the only logical explanation. Thinking back to the article, their thoughts, like Sev's, lingered on the part about the casualties.
“ You don't think…,” James started.
“ I don't know. There's only one way to find out. We'll have to ask Dumbledore.”
At dinner that evening, the headmaster was surprised to see six students rise from their tables and head towards him as a group. He would never have expected to see those particular students joining forces for any purpose, but he soon realised what they all had in common. The missing time travellers. Before they reached the head table, Dumbledore stood from his place and met them on his way out of the Hall. With a gesture, they followed close behind until they reached the confines of the headmaster's office. Once they were all seated, and the customary sweets had been offered, Dumbledore grew more serious.
“ Now, I'm assuming you six want to know what happened to four of your friends. Am I right?”
“ Yes, sir. We noticed they were missing two weeks ago, but thought they would be back by now. It was only when we cornered Snape and asked him about Harry that we decided to come to you. Snape said they might have been in that battle,” James said.
“ Indeed they were, Mr. Potter. However, I am not at liberty to tell you much, as it is all top secret. However, as you are concerned for your friends, I will tell you what I can. Miss Sollers and Miss Weatherby are perfectly fine. They suffered only minor cuts and bruises, nothing too serious. Mr. Weatherby was injured a little, and was knocked unconscious for two weeks. As a matter of fact, he awoke only this morning. Mr. Anguifer, I'm afraid, is not doing so well. He was hit with several Dark curses, and was physically attacked by a vampire. Although his injuries have been healed, he is currently in a coma.”
Dumbledore sat back and looked at the effect his words had had upon the students in front of him. Sirius and James seemed rather subdued, with sorrow in their eyes. Remus looked shocked, and rather upset. Lily had tears falling down her face, and had her hand over her mouth. Peter looked indifferent, which surprised Dumbledore a little. Sev, on the other hand, looked deeply upset. Dumbledore knew from his observations of the students that he and Harry were good friends, and so the headmaster knew the news would have a profound effect on the young boy. With a deep sigh, Dumbledore closed his eyes and thought of how much pain one battle could cause.
It was the first week of December when Harry finally stirred. As the darkness that had enveloped him for the last five weeks finally parted, his head was filled with excited chatter and several people trying to pat his hands. Opening his eyes cautiously, he was met with five grinning faces. As expected, Ron, Ginny and Hermione had spent hour upon hour sitting at his bedside, waiting for him to wake up. Dumbledore was also there, beaming down at his student in relief. The one that surprised Harry was Sev. He was standing a little apart from the others, as if he felt himself to be intruding. Harry just smiled at him encouragingly and motioned him forward while the others were chattering. Tuning back into the conversation, Harry heard Hermione going on about how much schoolwork he had missed, and how he might have to repeat sixth year. After a few minutes, the Boy-Who-Lived became a little irritated, and held his hand up, silencing the girl.
“ Could someone please just tell me what happened.”
“ Of course, my boy. What is the last thing you remember?” Dumbledore asked.
“ Pain. A lot of pain. I was attacked from behind. And then curses….”
“ That's right, Harry. Now, I have a lot to tell you, and I want you to try and stay calm. Some of this may be hard for you to hear, and for that I am truly sorry. Your friends here all know about your condition, but if you would rather I tell you in private…”
“ No, it's fine, sir.”
The way Dumbledore was speaking had Harry a little scared. It sounded as if what had happened to him would have a big effect on his life. He felt he needed his friends close with him, just in case the news was too much for him to handle. After giving Harry a few minutes to prepare himself for the news, Dumbledore started to explain.
“ Harry, from what we have been able to piece together, at the battle you were attacked from behind by a vampire while you were…distracting…the Dark Lord. This is where your worst injuries came from. It hit you, draining you of a lot of blood, and scratched long gashes in your chest. You were then hit by several Dark curses by a nearby Death Eater. Mr. Weatherby went to your aid, and performed a rather remarkable piece of magic…”
“ Hey, Harry you'll never guess what,” Ron interrupted.
“ I'm a healer! I mean a natural healer. I have the healing touch! `Mione's been researching it over the last few days. I came into my powers when I healed you, but it knocked me out cold for two weeks. I couldn't take the strain. But I'm getting training now, so I'll be a lot more help in the future!”
Harry beamed at his friend, impressed. He was glad that Ron had finally shown a talent he could be proud of. Something that set him apart as special, a field in which he could outshine his friends.
“ That's great, Ron. I'll teach you elven healing magic when I'm better if you like. It might be useful for you.”
“ Thanks, Harry. I would appreciate that.”
“ Hem hem.”
The two boys looked at Dumbledore with apologetic looks, before the old man gave a small smile and continued what he had been saying.
“ As I was saying, you received some severe injuries to your chest, which were healed by Madame Pomfrey and Madame Potter. You have several shiny new scars, but they couldn't be helped. You were given a blood transfusion as well, as you lost a lot from the vampire feeding, as well as from your injuries. In that respect, you should be fine. The curses that hit you caused some minor internal damage, but that was also taken care of rather quickly. The one thing that is a little troubling is your physical changes…”
“ Physical changes?”
“ Yes. Sharper senses, paler skin, and a slight sensitivity to sunlight….”
“ You have got to be kidding!”
“ It's not as bad as it may seem. Ron's healing of you stopped the poison spreading too far, but it had started to take effect.”
Harry frantically thought back to the attack. He remembered coughing and spluttering, and blood on his lips. He had assumed it was from his internal injuries, but it must have been the vampire…
“ So it turned me…”
“ Well…sort of…” Hermione said.
“ Define `sort of'.”
“ As the headmaster said, my healing stopped it from going too far. Your senses are heightened, and you need to wear a lot of sun tan lotion if you go out in strong sunlight for too long, because you will burn easily. You also have longer canines…”
“ Anything else?” the dazed boy asked.
“ Not really. You changed a little, but you're not a full vampire. You still have a reflection, and you don't turn to dust if you go into sunlight. It's better than nothing…”
“ True. I can't believe this is happening. Everything happens to me. `Tea was right. I let it get to me. And now I really am a monster. I'm so sorry.”
That said, Harry curled up onto a protective ball, and cried.