The Sugar Quill
Author: ProfessorWannaBe  Story: A Stunning Recovery  Chapter: Chapter 2 - Good News and Bad News
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[Author’s Note: A quick reminder that most of this belongs to J

[Author’s Note:  A quick reminder that most of this belongs to J.K Rowling and the bits I made up myself were inspired by her work.  Suburban House Elf (the comma queen) deserves my thanks for making me think about the dialogue and the relationships between the characters.  As always, thanks to Deborah and Sandra for reading the roughest of drafts and encouraging me not to put it in the bin.]


A Stunning Recovery

Chapter 2 – Good News and Bad News

            It was difficult for Minerva to keep track of the passage of time during her recovery.  Each time she returned to consciousness it seemed as if she had only just fallen asleep.  The varying daylight (or lack thereof) and the rearrangement of items on the bedside table were her only clues that time was indeed passing.


By the time Minerva had gathered her bearings upon waking, Healer Derwent would be entering the ward bringing yet another potion.  It would be a tortuous trip to the loo, soothing charms as the Healer inspected the ribs, a bite to eat then off to oblivion once more.  How many times this was repeated remained a mystery.


Minerva did have a chance to admire the large arrangement of flowers that had appeared at her bedside during the first of these islands of consciousness.  All of the staff at Hogwarts had signed the card except for Umbridge and Filch – not a surprise.  Later, a smaller vase had joined the other with a note from Arthur and Molly Weasley.  A tin of Ginger Newts from Kingsley Shacklebolt and the latest issue of Transfiguration Today had shown up somewhere along the way as well.


Physical improvement finally became noticeable on what might have been the second day.  The big news was that she could make her own way to the loo with the assistance of a walking stick.  Upon her next awakening, Minerva saw that a tartan carpetbag had appeared on the chair beside her bed which contained her nightgown, dressing gown and slippers.  It was the first time that Healer Derwent hadn’t shown up right away.  


Taking that as a good sign, Minerva carried the fresh clothes with her on a solo trip down the hall passing a now-occupied – but screened – bed in the opposite corner of the ward.  Another patient on the ward ruled out the possibility of a visit from Albus, which was disappointing.


She managed a brief shower, hoping that the hot water would aid in the relaxation of the abused muscles in her back and extremities.  The effort so exhausted her, however, she fell back to sleep immediately upon returning to her bed, still wearing the dressing gown and slippers.


“Professor … Minerva.”  Someone was shaking her from her natural slumber and it didn’t seem fair.  “Please Professor, wake up.  You will have a terrible pain in your neck if you don’t slide up onto your pillow.”


Minerva reluctantly complied because she could tell the speaker was right.  Her neck was already feeling kinked.  It was Molly Weasley whose voice had been laced with such deep concern.  Now that Minerva had opened her eyes, she could also see the concern etched on Molly’s face.  There was something else as well but she did not think she could stay awake long enough to find out what it was.


Molly fussed over Minerva for a few minutes without any of the expected protest from the patient.  Once the Professor was settled, Molly took the chair beside the bed and began to knit.  The soft click of the needles sang a lullaby that was hardly needed given Minerva’s exhaustion.


When consciousness returned once again, Minerva felt truly rested.  A bright sun was spilling its cheerful rays onto the foot of her bed, giving her the impression that it was late morning.  There was a minor commotion going on at the only other occupied bed.  Healer Derwent could be heard shushing an uncooperative patient.  The wry smile that had been making its way to Minerva’s face faded away before it could be full-born when the patient’s voice became loud enough to be recognizable.


“I don’t need any more of your potions.  I’ve been sleeping for who knows how long and there’s no one to tell me what happened to Harry!”


Adrenaline shot through Minerva in a flash.  She sat up a bit too hastily, bringing a stab of pain to the right side of her chest.  She willed her breathing to slow as she eased herself off the bed, reaching for the walking stick.


Nymphadora Tonks, what are you doing here and what about Harry?” Minerva demanded as she made her way up the aisle between the rows of vacant beds.


The outburst brought Healer Derwent’s head poking out from behind the screen, quickly followed by the woman herself.


“Please, Professor.  Don’t get yourself worked up.  You’re making excellent progress that we don’t want to have undone by emotional stress.”


“Well, it’s too late.  I’m stressed by lack of information,” Minerva countered as she stepped around the startled Healer and headed for Tonks’ bedside.


“If you puncture a lung with a re-broken rib you will still lack the information you so desperately need and you’ll be stuck taking my potions for weeks.  It’s my understanding that it is curiosity that kills cats,” she added with an unpleasant gleam in the eyes that fell directly on Minerva.  


After a long pause during which neither woman broke the eye contact, the Healer relented.


“Fine, you have five minutes.”


As she stalked to the ward door, her mutterings included “obstinate”, “most difficult patient” and “stubborn” which echoed back to Minerva and the young woman beside her.


“Professor, I wish I knew what to tell you about Harry.  We were at headquarters on Thursday evening about to have dinner when Sn…,” she hesitated and her eyes darted around what she could see of the ward.  “Our informant, that is, contacted us about Harry having one of those dreams.   This time Padfoot was being tortured in the Department of Mysteries.  We were expecting Professor Dumbledore and planned to tell him as soon as he arrived but the informant made contact again to say that Harry had gone into the Forbidden Forest with Umbridge and hadn’t returned.  We set out for the DoM, fearing a trap for Harry, while the Forest was being searched by our friend.”


“Who went to the Department of Mysteries?” Minerva asked.  “There’s no one here to eavesdrop.” 


“Shacklebolt, Moody, Lupin, Black and myself.”


“You didn’t wait for Dumbledore?”


“No, Sirius told Kreacher to tell him where we had gone then we lit out of there.”


“Did you find Harry?” Minerva asked with an almost undetectable tremor in her voice.


“Yes, we found him all right—in the Death Chamber, no less.  He and Neville were surrounded by at least half a dozen Death Eaters.  They weren’t doing too badly considering they haven’t even passed their O.W.L.s yet.  They’d been putting up quite a fight to judge by all the damage we saw on our way in.”


“Neville was there!” Minerva exclaimed.  “Let me guess, Miss Granger and Ron Weasley were there too.”


“I suppose but I only saw Neville and Harry . . . and all those Death Eaters.”  Tonks gave an involuntary shudder.


Minerva corralled her impatience to give Tonks a moment to recover her breath.  It was apparent that she also had cracked ribs and needed to tell her story more slowly.  Minerva needed to slow her own breathing to deal with the increasing pain in her chest.  Healer Derwent was going to be furious if the rib had been re-damaged.


Finally, Tonks spoke again.  “I fell, Professor,” she said quietly in a voice filled with anguish.  “If Harry died, it will be my fault because I’m so clumsy that I can’t even fight one Death Eater,” she added in a strangled tone and a tear slid down her cheek.


Minerva took the young woman’s hand then patted it, carefully considering what to say.  She needed comfort but, if Harry had indeed been killed (or worse), she would need strength to face life with a guilt that was not entirely her own.  Finding the balance between honesty and kindness was not always easy.


Before she could formulate a proper response, however, the ward door opened and closed.  Minerva stood up with a twinge from her chest and stepped to the edge of the screen.  She saw that Healer Derwent had returned bearing another potion and was being followed by Molly Weasley.  The frown on the Healer’s face and the worry on Molly’s gave Minerva the premonition that bad news was on its way.


“Come, Minerva,” the Healer ordered.  “Looks like you did yourself some damage,” she continued in an “I told you so” tone of voice gesturing to Minerva’s right arm.  It was only then that Minerva realized that she had clamped her right elbow into her ribs and was holding it tightly in place with her left hand.  The shallowness of her breath was a second clue to the additional injury.


“Let’s see how bad it is,” Derwent added as she steered Minerva toward her own bed.  “Then Molly will answer the questions that turned you two into the day’s worst patients.”


Minerva cooperated as best she could so that the Healer would be placated and finish her ministrations as quickly as possible.  The examination seemed to take far longer than was truly necessary and Minerva wondered if the Healer found satisfaction in drawing out the suspense.  Finally, the screen around the bed was removed and the prognosis was announced.


“How you managed to stress only one of the freshly healed ribs is a miracle,” the Healer said with a shake of her head.  “I think it will be just fine with a bit more motionless sleep today.  You can probably go back to Hogwarts in the morning if you’ll be more careful about popping out of bed in a tizzy.”


As Healer Derwent removed the screen, Molly brought over the walking stick that Minerva had left at Tonks’ bedside.  Brunch had arrived during the examination and Tonks was disconsolately picking at the food, probably bullied into it by Molly.


“Molly, I’m putting you in charge of making sure these two incorrigible patients actually take their potions once they’ve had their curiosity satisfied and eaten everything on those trays.  I’ll be back in thirty minutes and expect to find two sleeping patients.”


The aged Healer marched out of the ward with the air of one expecting to be obeyed.


Minerva gingerly sat up on the edge of her bed and accepted Molly’s assistance to stand.  She made her way slowly across the ward to resume her seat beside Tonks’ bed.  Molly had followed, carrying the tray and set it on Minerva’s lap before sitting on the edge of the bed beside Tonks.


“I’m sure the first thing you want to know is that Harry is all right,” Molly began.  “Well, not all right but . . . uninjured.”


The qualification and the tears welling up in Molly’s eyes put a quick end to the relief Minerva had felt with the first of her words.  Her premonition had been right; there was bad news coming.  She was suddenly exhausted and wondered if she could stand to hear it.


“I guess I’d better begin at the beginning as Dumbledore told me.  First of all, Harry continued to have dreams about the Department of Mysteries and just wasn’t telling anyone.  On Thursday afternoon, he fell asleep during his History of Magic O.W.L.s and had another one where he saw Sirius being tortured in the Prophecy Room.”


Molly paused then looked up from her hands directly at Minerva.  “I’m sorry Professor, but he went looking for you.  When he didn’t find you, he concocted a scheme to use Umbridge’s fire to contact Order headquarters.”  She returned to the inspection of her hands then continued.  “Ron and Ginny, Hermione and Neville and the Lovegood girl tried to help him.  They all got caught.  Harry had only talked to Kreacher, who lied to him about Sirius’ whereabouts.


“He was frantic, of course, but had enough sense to pass a message to Snape when Umbridge had called him to bring her more Veritaserum.”  Molly became indignant and addressed both patients directly, “Can you imagine, giving students Veritaserum!  I’m sure that violates any number of Ministry regulations.”


Molly subsided and returned to her tortured recitation.


“They tricked Umbridge into taking them into the Forbidden Forest, claiming that they knew where Dumbledore was hiding a weapon he planned to use against the Ministry.  The centaurs got her and the children just barely escaped.  They flew on thestrals all the way to London and actually got to the prophecy where they were ambushed by Death Eaters.


“Hermione took the worst of it with an unknown curse that gave her some internal injuries.  Ron ended up wrapped in brains that burned him pretty badly.  Poppy has them both in the hospital wing and expects them to be fully healed before the term ends.  Ginny had a broken ankle and Neville a broken nose both of which are good as new already.  Harry and Luna had only bumps and bruises.”


There was another long pause in Molly’s tale.  Minerva could see the tears that could no longer be contained running down Molly’s cheek.  The time had come to hear the bad news.  At least it wasn’t about one of the children.


“Tonks was the only Order member injured.”  Molly began to sob openly and just barely managed to deliver the dreaded news, “but Sirius fell through the veil.  There wasn’t anything that anyone could do.”

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