The Sugar Quill
Author: peachpicker  Story: Aftermath  Chapter: Chapter Two - Hope
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Chapter Two: Hope

The door to the healer's ward opened to reveal a calm, composed, unsmiling woman in the robes of a master healer.

"Leanna, I so hoped you would be there for my little girl," Molly said forlornly.

"Molly. Arthur." Her eyes took in the crowd of family and friends, lingering on Harry's anxious face. "Everyone. Please sit down. I am Healer Leanna McAllister. First, let me reassure you that your Ginny is still alive. We are very hopeful that we can keep her alive and heal her. We are pursuing an answer to what her best treatment should be, and some of you may be able to supply helpful information."

"First of all, the most important question. Besides Harry, who was there when her injuries were inflicted on her. It is extremely important that we know everything we can about what was done to her." Her eyes swept the room, again settling on Harry. "We will talk shortly, Harry. Is there anyone else?"

Hermione raised her hand, then dropped it self-consciously, realizing she was no longer in a classroom. "When Ron and I fought our way inside to Harry and Ginny, we must have arrived a little after Voldemort did whatever he did." The healer nodded encouragingly. "We saw Harry and Ginny on the floor, not moving. Voldemort...", she grimaced in distaste, "was writhing on the floor like an injured snake." She shuddered. "He was screaming and shaking. Then he collapsed and didn't move." She hid her face against Ron's chest. "Ron, you tell the rest," she said in a broken voice.

In a very shaky voice Ron continued. "When Voldemort stopped... twitching, I heard this gasp from Harry, and Harry shouted, 'Accio Wand!' It just flew into his hand. Then he pointed his wand at Ginny and said something I didn't catch, and then pointed the wand at himself and... well... it sounded like he was sort of making a Portkey to Saint Mungo's. Then he crawled over to Ginny and laid right up against her, and said another spell word. And they disappeared." Ron drew a deep breath. "We checked that Voldemort was really dead. We looked around and didn't see anyone else inside. When we first got there we saw that a bunch of Aurors had arrived and were fighting the Death Eaters outside. By the time we checked around inside, it looked like all the Death Eaters were either caught or had gotten away. So we Apparated to Saint Mungo's. We saw Harry in here when we came looking for him and Ginny." Ron's voice cracked. "Is she really going to be all right?"

The healer looked at Ron and Hermione and then the rest. "I won't mislead you; Ginny has sustained serious internal injuries that we still do not fully understand. She is responding to our treatment, but we can make no promises as yet." She looked around the room again. "Is there anyone else who saw or heard what happened? Besides Harry, that is."

"Healer McAllister?" Hermione held up a hand again timidly. "One more thing. I don't know if it is important for what you need to heal Ginny, but Harry and Ginny had planned to use a new kind of shield if they encountered Voldemort." She turned and looked at Harry, who gave a small nod. "Oh good. They did. He can tell you about it then." She turned back into Ron's arms.

"Very well. Harry, would you please come with me? We need to talk privately."

* * *

Healer Leanna McAllister led Harry to a large office, and closed the door, then turned angrily to Harry. "How DARE you make yourself into a Portkey. Do you realize how dangerous that is! It is almost impossible to do correctly, and you could have killed both of you!"

Surprised, Harry raised one hand as if to stop her. "I didn't."

The anger faded from the healer's eyes. "I'm sorry. It's been a very rough day and I jumped to a conclusion. Tell me, then. What exactly did you do?" She sat in a chair and gestured to a couch next to it.

Harry sat down. "Ginny and I are... very close. She gave me a locket with our picture in it, and I've worn it ever since. That is what I used as a Portkey." He held it up.

"What else? It did not sound like a typical transfer."

"I did a brief 'Petrificus Totalus' on her just before we ported. I ended it just after we arrived. I knew how Portkeying felt and thought that it could injure her further. I figured immobilizing her could help protect her. I knew that Voldemort's curse had done something really bad to her insides." Harry's cool facade dropped. "Is she really getting better?" Tears were in his eyes and his clenched fists were shaking.

The healer rested a gentle hand on one of his fists. "Yes, Harry. As far as we can tell she has a chance to recover. We just aren't sure yet how much of a chance nor how much of a recovery. Why didn't you use something else as a Portkey? Like your belt buckle or watch?"

"I had to keep looking in her eyes. I just felt I had to. It helps maintain the shield we developed. And I could complete the spell more easily for the locket since I could feel where it was. It was the fastest thing I could do. Also, if I used a belt buckle, I might not have been able to get Ginny to touch it since she was petrified. My watch wouldn't have done; it's loaded with magical spells already and I couldn't take the chance of there being interaction with the Portkey spell."

Leanna nodded, studying him a long moment. "When things settle down, come see me about our Emergency Magical Rescue training program. I suspect you are a natural. If you are interested, that is."

"All right. Let us proceed." She had a clipboard and began making notes. "As far as we can tell, your porting Ginny did no harm at all, and the timeliness almost certainly kept her life from slipping away. Right now we are slowing her bodily functions, which slows the effects of the curse, and we are doing some basic, very essential repairs to her internal organs. As each action is done, we have indications of small improvements. It's going to be a step by step thing for at least two more hours. What you tell me could help, so will you tell me everything that happened to her?"

"Yes."

"Good. Oh, and I don't believe it would be advisable to share with Ginny's family all the details of what was done to injure her. Now. Down to business. Can you tell me, in as much detail as you can, what curses were done to Ginny? In what order. How long between each. I know some very unusual things were done to her. Oh, and how strong a witch is she? I suspect she is very very good, but I'd like your assessment of that too. It matters how much resistance she could put up to the curses."

Harry sighed tiredly, and a look of reminiscence came to his face. "She's a very powerful witch. She is better than anyone doing some things, like the Bat-Bogey Hex. She could do that at age eleven." A quirky half-smile flitted across his face. "Oh, the shield we were developing... hers was the strongest."

"Death Eaters captured Ginny and when I found out, I went after her. I knew where she was, and that she was still alive. When I Apparated to her, I was eventually caught by a Petrificus too, like Ginny was. Voldemort was expecting me."

"He said he was going to kill Ginny first, slowly, and make me watch and listen." Harry's fists were clenched again, and he was trembling with the effort. "He rolled her toward me, and ended some of her paralysis, so that she would... would... be able to scream. I think that's all the first spell did."

"The words for that, Harry?" Leanna's voice was not quite steady.

Harry placed his wand very carefully on the table out of reach. "I don't want to say them while I'm near my wand. I don't know what might happen. He released her that little bit by saying, 'Terminare Petrificum Vocalis.'"

The healer thought a moment. "God, that actually might be useful. A partial release of the Petrificus? We must study it." She wrote it into her notes.

"Ginny had a chance to take a deep breath, and looked me in the eyes. That... that... was very important. That gave us the chance to raise our shield really fast. Then, he cursed her. It was "Cresendum Vivere Sectum Cruciatus".

The healer's face paled and her eyes closed. After a moment she could look at Harry again, whose eyes now held silent tears. "So that's what we have to deal with. The only reason that curse is not at the top of the list of Unforgivable Curses is that it is extremely difficult to cast. But mostly because almost no one knows about it, and we want to keep it that way. And what then, Harry?"

"She... she screamed. But I had looked into her eyes enough. I... I... must tell you more about our shield so that you can understand."

"Go ahead, Harry." She was writing furiously on her clipboard.

"Dumbledore told me a long time ago that there was a kind of ancient magic that Voldemort couldn't use and didn't understand, and it was the key to defeating him. The first time it stopped him was when my mother shielded me to protect me from him. I was only a year old. After he killed her, he tried to kill me. You must know that story. Seems like everybody does." Harry sighed. "Dumbledore felt it was my mother's love that defeated him that time, and turned him almost into a ghost until he could get back another body."

"We four had recently worked out a kind of shield based on... well... love. Ron and Hermione had loads of good suggestions, but it really worked best when Ginny and I did it together. Hermione says it's an empathy thing, but I don't really follow her explanation when she starts talking about positive feedback loops and such like." Harry smiled wryly. "In any case if Ginny and I do it together, there is an empathic link between us and it multiplies the strength of the shield. We were hoping to learn how to add in Ron and Hermione, but Ginny was captured first."

"You both were using the shield before the curse hit Ginny?"

Harry nodded. "Yes. We just barely raised it in time. It didn't protect us completely. I don't know how she did it when the curse hit her, but she kept her side up until she lost consciousness. By that time Voldemort fell to the floor screaming."

"This is important, Harry. Are there any side effects from using your shield?"

"No bad ones. It doesn't make us tired. If anything, we feel better afterwards, especially if we were feeling down before. Hermione said it's because of the kind of energy we use. She says it's a lot like healing energy."

"How many seconds was his curse, Harry? Make your best guess."

He thought a moment, eyes closed, picturing the scene. "Maybe six seconds; maybe ten. No more than that." Harry just sat, numb from recalling it all.

"Harry." The healer interrupted his unhappy recollections. "Were any more curses or magic done to her?"

He shook his head.

Leanna sat for a few moments, contemplating her notes and what Harry had told her. "I'll talk some more with my healers now. I believe I know what else we should do in the short term. Please wait here for me." And real hope began to show in Harry's face.

Soon the Master Healer returned. "I would like to learn more about your shield technique, Harry. Would you spend some time with me the day after tomorrow, say ten a.m.?"

Harry nodded. "All four of us worked it out. I'll bring Hermione and Ron too, if that is all right with you. I think they should be there. Especially Hermione. She understands the theoretical side of it."

"Certainly. Let's go to the waiting room to talk to the others."

* * *

"Everyone?" This time Healer McAllister smiled as they all turned to listen. "Now that we know what Voldemort tried to do to Ginny, we now have a much better chance to heal Ginny properly. If the curse had proceeded much longer, she would have died and very likely Harry as well, but Harry and Ginny managed to turn the curse back on Voldemort."

"I will be frank with you. I don't know yet how full a recovery Ginny can make, but I am now much more encouraged. Now, we would prefer that one or more family members or close friends be with Ginny at all times, day and night, until she has recovered a bit. She very much needs the peace of mind which your presence can provide. How many of you think you could take even a little bit of time with Ginny? I know that some of you have jobs, like Arthur, Bill, and Charlie."

After virtually everyone volunteered their help, the healer said, "I'll ask Molly to work with us on scheduling your stays with Ginny. Now..." She looked at her watch. "None of you will be able to see Ginny for at least another hour and a quarter. Why don't you get some rest or have something in the tea shop?" She looked at Ron and Hermione with a wry smile. "I understand that you two felt that you had to be here, but you need to have a bit more healing by my staff. In there. Now." She pointed to one of the wards. "You too, Harry, but after we talk with Molly and Arthur."

* * *

Back in the healer's office, Leanna looked at Harry with a quizzical expression. "Harry, forgive me, but I must check something." She raised her wand and touched him for a moment on the top of his head, at the center of his forehead, and over his heart. "Yes, I thought so. Your energy field matches Ginny's. You are still maintaining the link between you and Ginny, aren't you?"

Harry nodded mutely.

"Harry, you can relax now. Your empathic connection to Ginny won't go away. In fact I believe it is now permanent. Even when you both sleep, there will be no change in it. Do you understand?"

He nodded.

"It is better for Ginny if you can relax and not worry at this point. It will help Ginny. Your mood can affect her even though she is unconscious. And she can affect you the same way. Did you realize that?"

"Yes," Harry said quietly. "We figured that out."

"You should be able to maintain a positive attitude now, Harry. At this point you have every reason to be hopeful, you know. And it will help Ginny a lot." She smiled at Harry.

Both Molly and Arthur looked very puzzled. Arthur cleared his throat, and Leanna turned to him and Molly. "I must explain a few things about Harry and Ginny. They appear to have accomplished a very unusual thing, although it is not totally unheard of. They have created an empathic link to each other. Because of the link and the love they have for each other they were able to defeat Voldemort. It also saved Ginny's life." Leanna paused to collect her thoughts. "I do not mean that metaphorically. Their love was a shield that reflected the killing curse back onto Voldemort. It was very much like the way that Lily Potter's love of Harry reflected the killing curse back at Voldemort when Harry was one year old."

Both of Ginny's parents looked at Harry with almost identical odd and wondering expressions. Then Arthur put his hand on Molly's and they looked at Leanna.

"We are going to let Ginny wake in about an hour and we need you three there at first." Leanna turned again to Harry. "We deliberately let her get near consciousness for a few moments, and did some Legilimency. It is very important, Harry, that you be there. She was extremely worried about you just as she became unconscious and it will be the first thing she will think of as she wakes. She will immediately need reassurance of your safety."

"Then you should include Ron and Hermione too."

"You're right, Harry. They were in it with you and Ginny the whole time, weren't they?" Harry nodded. "Then Ginny will want to be reassured about them too. Now, Harry, back to the healing ward with you." Leanna made shooing motions.

* * *

"Everybody?" The talk quieted, and several that were in the hall came dashing in. The healer looked around and saw that Ron, Hermione, and Harry were all back from the main healing ward. "We will be waking Ginny soon. Now there is not enough room for everyone and we do not want to overwhelm her anyway. You will all get to see her," she reassured them. "Let me warn you first. She is being held immobile temporarily due to severe internal injuries. She will be able to talk and move her head and arms. Don't hug her; she can't feel it. We have numbed her. In any case a hug could harm her physically at this point. Don't worry if you forget and try to hug her; we have a shield around her torso. What matters most is that she knows that you all are safe and that she is safe."

"Harry, Molly, Arthur, Ron, Hermione. Come with me, please."

* * *

"Harry?" Ginny's voice was a whisper. Her eyes opened and she looked around. "Harry?"

"I'm here, love." He gave her hand a squeeze.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, love. A little banged up, but they'll fix that shortly."

Ginny was silent a moment. "He's gone for good, isn't he." It was not really a question. "I can tell. Good."

She looked around again and saw Ron and Hermione smiling at her. "You two okay?" They nodded. Ginny noticed the two were holding hands and grinned. "Ron, have you asked Hermione to marry you yet?"

"Ginny!" Ron looked at Arthur and Molly. Both Ron and Hermione were red in the face. "Mum. Dad. She's been asking me that every day. It's just a joke."

Ginny shook her head slowly. "No it isn't." A puzzled look came over her face. "Leanna? Why can't I move things? I couldn't even laugh when I tried."

"It's all right, dear. We have you mostly immobilized and numbed until you heal some more. We have a spell that is controlling your breathing, and it prevents you from taking deep breaths. You won't need that much longer."

"I need help to breathe?"

"Not really, but we don't want you taking deep or sudden breaths. It affects organs that need to heal."

"Oh. Okay."

"Are you ready to see more of your family?"

Ginny smiled, "Yeah. That'll be nice." Her voice was almost a whisper.

"We won't let anyone stay very long. You are going to need some proper sleep soon."

"Would all of you go back to the waiting room for now, please?" the healer directed. "Molly, would you and Arthur pick four or five more to come in? And I'll want to see all of you again in here after everyone else has had a chance to see Ginny."

* * *

After everyone else had seen Ginny briefly and then gone home at Molly's insistence, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Molly and Arthur gathered around Ginny's bed with the healer, who spoke quietly to Ginny. "We are going to have someone with you all the time. I mean your family and friends, not just a healer popping in now and then."

Leanna turned and waved her wand, conjuring a couch near Ginny's bed. "Someone will be with you at night Ginny, so don't be surprised if you see your dad or mum snoring away on that couch if you wake in the middle of the night. Oh, and those two chairs over there are recliners. You might have more than one person with you, at least for a while."

"That'll be nice," Ginny whispered. "I want Harry here tonight, if that is okay?"

"I was planning on it," said Leanna. She looked significantly at Molly and Arthur. "And if both of you can stay as well, that would be very good."

Ginny looked at Harry. "Harry, did you see those healers? You still look a bit messed up."

"Yeah." He smiled at her. "They said to come back tomorrow afternoon for a little bit more."

"I think I'll go to sleep now, if that's okay, Leanna?" Ginny yawned. "It's funny, I can't quite do a really good yawn. Is it that immobilizing stuff?"

"Yes, Ginny." Leanna smiled. "It won't be long before we can let you yawn and laugh like you are used to."


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