The sound of the alert charm indicating that someone had arrived in the Reception Room had Chert hustling over to look through the security portal. One look at the grizzly sight and his palm slammed onto the alert stone connected to both Diricawl’s Administration and Hospital Wing.
Chert than wrenched open the door and raced inside, skidding to his knees to land beside the prone, bleeding form on the floor. As quickly as he could, he scooped the boy up in his powerful arms and raced from the room to where he could perform magic and hopefully keep the boy in the land of the living.
Harry’s staff was tossed to the side and Chert’s hands came up, a chant on his lips as his magic washed over the boy, assessing the damage.
The biggest, most obvious and most life-threatening wound was the loss of the boy’s left forearm. Foreign magic pinged against Chert’s own and he recognised a tourniquet spell on Harry’s upper arm, cutting off the blood supply and saving his life. While some blood was still oozing from the wound, dripping off the end of the bone sticking out of the open end of the arm, it wasn’t a dangerous amount.
No, the real danger was coming from Harry’s left thigh where a pool of blood was spreading out from under his leg. Chert could see that there was a hole that pierced all the way through the thigh, cause unknown. If the wound was left open, left untreated for much longer, the boy was in danger of bleeding out.
Chert’s knife was instantly in his hand and he worked fast to cut into Harry’s pant leg, tearing a hole at the top. Rolling Harry onto his uninjured right side, Chert repeated the process, making sure that he had access to the other end of the hole as well. A guttural chant accompanied Chert waving his hand over the blade of his knife, causing it to rapidly heat and for it to begin glowing from a dull red to a brilliant red, nearly white, in moments.
Then, without pausing, Chert closed the wounds the goblin way, by searing the very flesh closed.
The mangled cry that Harry managed as the second, the one on top of his thigh, was closed told Chert that the pain had been enough to wake the boy.
After rolling the boy back onto his back, Chert checked his face, the last of the big wounds. A wicked cut bisected his face, from right forehead, between his eyes and onto his cheek, just slicing the left edge of his mouth. It would be a scar worthy of any warrior. And, though there was much blood, it was not life-threatening.
“Where?” Harry croaked.
“Diricawl,” Chert replied. “The others?”
“Dead,” Harry managed. “Tell … Si… Sirius … ring … des … troyed.”
Chert nodded before the boy passed out once more.
He was just contemplating placing the boy into stasis until help arrived when a pair of female Healers rushed into the room.
“Merlin! What happened?” the older of the two exclaimed, pausing only slightly at the sight of the blood covered, injured boy.
“Irrelevant,” Healer Jeffries snapped. “Right now, our priority is to make sure he stays alive.”
“His arm!” the older Healer exclaimed. “That’s the most urgent. I’ll work on it, you find out where all that blood’s coming from.”
The boy’s pant leg was vanished and Healer Jeffries paused, staring before her head shot up, pinning Chert with her gaze.
“You did this?” she demanded.
“He was losing too much blood. Fastest way to stop it,” Chert replied.
Healer Jeffries gave a sharp nod, her lips pursed before ignoring him and joining her fellow Healer in working on the stump of the boy’s left arm.
A dozen minutes later, Healer Jeffries sat back, wiping her brow with the bloodied back of her arm.
“I thought that Harry went with two others – Moody and the eldest Weasley boy. Any sign of them?” she asked.
Chert shook his head.
“Harry woke up briefly. He said both were dead,” he informed them.
Gasps accompanied his statement.
“We’ve patched him up enough to get him to the Hospital Wing,” Healer Jeffries stated. “I need you to lock this place down and clear a path for us, we can’t be stopped getting him to the hospital, he needs immediate and prolonged surgery.”
Chert nodded as the two Healers began levitating the boy between them. The instant that he was on his feet, Chert pulsed his magic into the appropriate crystals sealing the Receiving Room, grabbed his axe and led the way.
What few students were on the ground and saw the procession took one look at Chert’s scowl and stayed well back.
It wasn’t until they were crossing the main Entrance Hall of the school that they encountered their first potential hinderance.
“Harry?” Petunia Dursley exclaimed before rushing around from her counter at Reception to get to her nephew.
“Out of the way,” Chert growled.
“He needs immediate surgery,” Healer Jeffries added.
Petunia stepped back against the wall, wringing her hands, her head swivelling as her gaze never left the face of the boy as they passed, only to then hurry after them.
At the doors to the Hospital Wing, Chert stopped, turned and gripped his axe with both hands, ready to repel all. Petunia took one step as though to follow Harry disappearing through the doors with the Healer before stopping at Chert’s warning shake of his head.
“What happened?” she near cried at Chert.
“Don’t know,” Chert grunted.
“Will he live?” she asked, tears beginning to fall.
“Don’t know,” Chert answered again, this time much more gently. “We let the Healers work without interruption and he stands a better chance.
That was enough for Petunia as, surprisingly, she turned and took up guard right alongside the goblin.
Despite neither Chert nor Petunia, leaving their post outside of the Hospital Wing doors, nor communicating with anyone, word of Harry being there quickly spread.
Sirius was the first to arrive at a near dead run. His feet pounded down the corridor and it looked by his serious, grim face that he had no intention of being anywhere but by his godson’s side. Chert’s presence may not have stopped him, but his axe surely did.
“Let me pass, Chert, my godson’s in there!” Sirius ordered.
“No. Healers have ordered that no one enters, their work is too important and delicate to be interrupted,” Chert stated.
“I just need to see him, make sure he’s alive. I’ll come straight back out afterwards,” Sirius argued.
“No,” Chert countered, raising his axe slightly.
“I know how you feel, Sirius; Harry is my nephew, remember?” Petunia stated. “Believe me, I want to be in there, too. But I’m not allowing you in there if there’s even the slightest chance that you could distract the doctors and inadvertently cause him to die.”
Sirius glowered at her before turning around, flicking out his wand and conjuring a chair.
“Fine. Don’t expect me to move from this spot for anything, though,” he said, sitting, crossing his arms and staring at the door.
He’d barely sat, though, when he was jumping up to catch Hermione, running flat out at the door, disregarding Chert’s warning axe lift.
Sirius’ arm caught her around her middle and held her tight.
“Let me go!” she screamed. “I need to see Harry!”
“Hermione! Hermione!” Sirius practically had to yell to get her to hear him.
She turned then and Sirius wasn’t sure that she could even see him with the streams of tears running from her eyes.
“I need to get in there!” she pled. “They said … they said that he was covered in blood and … and missing … missing an arm!”
The last came out as a wail, attracting the attention of the group rushing down the corridor.
“What?” a shocked Minerva asked. “Did you say ‘missing an arm’?”
Hermione nodded, her sobs coming louder and her whole body heaving.
“Luna saw him on the stretcher being brought here,” she managed to choke out.
“But Harry, he can’t be …” Dudley said sounding bewildered.
Petunia stepped forward, grabbed her son and pulled the bigger boy into a hug.
“The doctors are working on him now,” she said. “We won’t know more until they come out.”
In the brief space of time that they’d been talking, the corridor had filled up with a combination of both adults and students, all looking wide-eyed and disbelieving at what they were hearing.
“Let me through, please,” Amelia practically ordered and the crowd did their best to create a path for her to reach the Hospital Wing doors.
“What happened?” Amelia demanded. “How did this happen?”
“I don’t know, Am,” Sirius replied, shaking his head.
“I know that Harry went off with Alastor and Bill Weasley,” Minerva stated, looking around for the missing men.
“Then where are they?” Amelia asked.
Chert took half a step away from the doors that he was guarding to draw their attention.
“Harry was the only one to return,” he stated.
“What?” Amelia asked. “We need to find Croaker; he’ll know where they went so that we can go after them in case they’re in trouble.”
The grumble of a goblin clearing his throat drew everyone’s attention. Chert gestured to Sirius, Amelia and Minerva to come closer before throwing up a goblin privacy ward, a charm that Amelia enhanced with wizard magic.
“What do you know?” Sirius demanded.
“Harry was briefly awake when he returned,” Chert reported. “He said to tell you that Moody and Weasley were dead and that the ring had been destroyed.”
Minerva’s hand shot to her heart and she stumbled backwards a bit.
“Did he say anything else?” Amelia asked.
“No,” Chert replied.
“Damn,” Sirius stated, shaking his head.
“I think I’d better go have a quiet word with Arthur and Molly,” Amelia stated. “Let me know as soon as there’s any news on Harry.”
“Will do,” Sirius replied before moving back to his chair to take up vigil over the doors.
Amelia paused just outside the door of the room that Arthur and Molly were staying in. She briefly closed her eyes and bowed her head, taking a steadying breath before knocking on the door.
“Oh, hello, Amelia,” Arthur greeted her, opening the door.
“Hello, Arthur. Is Molly here?” Amelia replied.
Arthur reflexively looked behind him further into the room.
“Yes, she is. Did you wish to speak with her?” Arthur asked.
“To the both of you, actually,” Amelia replied. “May I come in?”
“Of course, of course,” Arthur smiled, opening the door wider and gesturing her in.
Amelia entered the small sitting room to find Molly sitting, listening to the wizarding wireless as she knitted what looked to be a jumper.
“Amelia’s here, love,” Arthur announced, “she’d like to talk to us.”
Molly looked up with a smile and reached out to turn off the wireless.
“Come in, please, have a seat,” Molly said.
“Thank you. Before I begin,” Amelia said, “are any of your children here?”
Arthur frowned. “No, not at the moment. Did you want to talk to one of them?”
“It’s not the twins is it?” Molly asked before rushing on. “Those two are always getting into things they shouldn’t and causing such mayhem.”
Amelia held up a hand to stop the other woman.
“No, it’s not about Fred or George. Actually, it’s about Bill,” Amelia stated.
“Bill?” Arthur asked, his eyebrows raised in surprise.
“Yes,” Amelia swallowed. This was one part of her job that she absolutely loathed. Regardless, she pressed on.
“As you may be aware, we asked specifically for Bill to be brought back here so that he could help Alastor with a curse breaking job,” she began.
Molly’s hand jumped to her chest and she stared at Amelia, almost as if she expected what was to come.
“Today, Bill and Alastor, along with Harry Potter, went on their mission,” she said. “I must stress that this was a vital task, that without it being completed, we’d have no chance of defeating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
“Go on,” Arthur said heavily when Amelia had obviously paused too long.
“A short time ago, Harry portkeyed back to the island, grievously injured, in fact, he’s currently in surgery in an attempt to save his life. Harry was the only one to come back,” she said.
“Where’s Bill? Where’s my boy?” Molly demanded. “He’s obviously in trouble. Who’s going to bring my Bill home?”
Amelia sadly shook her head. “I’m sorry, Molly, Arthur. Harry was briefly conscious when he portkeyed in. He said that both Bill and Alastor had died.”
Molly’s wail was ear-piercing and Arthur rushed across to her, dropping to his knees to wrap her in his arms.
“If Harry was only conscious for a moment, then surely there’s still hope,” Arthur said, tears flowing down his cheeks. “He might have been delirious or … or wrong.”
“It’s possible,” Amelia allowed. “We won’t know for certain until he’s out of surgery and wakes up.”
“When?” Arthur asked loudly over Molly’s sobs, patting his wife’s back.
Amelia shook her head. “I don’t know. I promise to come tell you as soon as I know anything more.”
Arthur simply nodded before turning back, his own shoulders heaving as he sobbed along with his wife.
Quietly, Amelia rose and let herself out, closing the door with barely a snick.
Croaker stepped out of the shadows as Amelia drew near, letting his hood fall back so that she could see his face. Her steps faltered for a fraction of second before she resumed her pace towards him.
“Algeron,” she greeted him.
“Amelia,” he returned.
With a flick of her head, she indicated the nearby doorway and he fell into step beside her down the corridor. After entering the room, the Unspeakable ensured that the room was secure and that anything that they said would be kept private.
“There are some … disturbing rumours floating around, Amelia,” he stated.
“I’m in no mood for these games, Algeron,” she retorted. “In answer to the questions that you haven’t asked: Moody, Bill Weasley and Harry Potter went out to search for the last horcrux this morning. Only Potter returned, gravely injured. From what little I know, he was covered in blood and missing an arm and is currently in surgery. All he said in the brief time that he was awake after returning was that Moody and Bill were dead and that the ring had been destroyed.”
Algeron dropped his head for a moment.
“They were good men; Alastor especially will be greatly missed,” he said.
“They both will be,” Amelia countered.
“However, if the ring – and I’m assuming that it’s the Peverell House ring – truly is destroyed, then Riddle is mortal,” he stated. “He can be killed!”
Amelia stared at him, the implications having not yet permeated into her brain.
“He can, can’t he? That was the last horcrux,” she said before shaking her head. “A victory, but at a terrible cost and not something that I can think about right now. We’ll talk about it some more later, once Harry’s out of surgery and awake and can tell us more about what happened.”
Algeron nodded. “Very well. But this needs to be discussed soon, including our next move. With Riddle vulnerable, the war could finally be nearly over.”
Amelia simply nodded before patting him on the shoulder and leaving, resuming her walk towards the Hospital Wing.
The vigil outside the Hospital Wing was long and tense. The corridor remained packed, despite the fact that the dinner hour had come and gone. Barely anyone had left and those few who did returned quickly, often after eating only one or two bites and pushing around the rest of their meal with their fork.
Dan and Emma had appeared and had Hermione wrapped closely between them, all three with their heads together and tears running down their faces. Petunia and Dudley were likewise close, both remaining right beside the doors. The four Evans’ were also huddled together, keeping vigil right alongside the others.
Neville sat by himself, his back against the wall, his arms flopped over his knees pulled up to his chest and a blank expression on his face, clearly in shock.
Sirius and Remus paced backwards and forwards, in opposite directions in front of the doors, their heads more often than not focussed on the doors, their shoulders tense and their arms stiff. Minerva had half-heartedly tried to shoo the students away, but they could tell that her heart wasn’t in it and had remained, just as she was.
Even the elves seemed to be keeping a close watch, often popping in and out as their duties allowed. All except Dobby, that was. He had apparently popped straight into the Hospital on hearing that his beloved Master Harry Potter Sir had been injured before being roared at by the two Healers. Ever since then, he’d taken up his post beside Chert, ensuring that none could pass to disturb the Healers at work.
The unexpectedness of the door swinging open from the inside caught everyone off guard, but only for a moment. As soon as Healer Jeffries and Madam Pomfrey were seen, the anxious crowd surged to their feet and pressed forward.
Healer Jeffries took one look at the crowd and held up a hand.
“All I’ll say right now is that Harry’s alive,” she said, eliciting a great cheer, relieved laughs and a round of applause.
She held up her hands, a stern look on her face.
“There is an incredibly sick young man just beyond these doors, I’ll thank you to keep your noise down,” she admonished and instantly got the silence that she wanted.
After taking one long look at the crowd, Healer Jeffries held the door open behind her.
“If Harry’s family would like to come in, I can give you a full report of his injuries and his prognosis,” she said.
Instantly, Petunia and Dudley; Mike, Susan, Mark and Melody; Sirius, Remus and Minerva; as well as Hermione headed towards the door. Dobby simply vanished inside with a snap of his fingers.
Healer Jeffries pursed her lips at the crowd but in the end allowed them all in, Hermione’s expression daring her to deny the teen’s admittance.
Once all had entered she gathered them around her, far away from the far bed that was currently obscured from view by screens.
“When Harry came in,” she began, “he had multiple injuries. We’ll start with the simplest and work our way up. The numerous scrapes, bruises and small cuts that littered his body and limbs have been healed. Harry sustained a puncture wound to his left thigh that went all the way through. It, too, has been healed but it is likely that he will have a slight limp for some time from the nerve damage that was done, not to mention the scar to go with it.
“The second most serious injury that Harry arrived with was a long cut on his face,” she used her finger to show exactly how it went from his forehead above his right eye, down between his eyes, over his nose, across his cheek and finished just after slicing the corner of the left edge of his mouth. “It was definitely made by something sharp, possibly a knife, and it was quite deep. We’ve applied essence of dittany to it but it is far too deep to heal completely. Currently, it is healing nicely, now appearing as though it was made a few days ago. I’m sorry to say, that he will carry that scar for the rest of his life.”
There were quite a number of sobs and eyes that closed in sorrow for the boy, but no one interrupted, all knowing that she was still to detail the most serious injury that Harry had obtained.
“As to Harry’s most serious injury,” Healer Jeffries continued, “somehow, Harry was missing the lower part of his left arm, from just below his elbow. The cut was clean and straight. He’d received some field dressing, a tourniquet charm, very soon after the accident happened which definitely saved his life. Madam Pomfrey and I did what we could and were able to save the rest of his arm, closing his arteries and blood vessels and grafting on some skin to close the wound.”
“His arm is gone?” a disbelieving Mark asked as Hermione all but collapsed to the floor, sobbing, only being held upright by Sirius and Minerva.
“His forearm, yes,” Healer Jeffries replied gently, indicating the place on her own arm where the cut had occurred.
“He’ll live?” Sirius half-asked, half stated.
“Yes,” she replied with a tired smile.
“I take it he’s still asleep?” Remus asked.
Healer Jeffries nodded. “We placed him into a magical coma to give him time to heal. We’ll bring him out of it tomorrow morning and then allow him to wake naturally. How long that will take is impossible to predict but we suspect that it’ll be a couple of days at minimum.”
“Can we see him?” Susan asked.
“You may,” Healer Jeffries replied while holding up a finger to ensure that they listened. “This will just be a short visit, a couple of minutes at most and no more than three at a time. Once you’ve all seen him, I expect you all to go get something to eat, sleep and to not come back until morning.”
By unspoken agreement, the first three to venture tentatively beyond the screens were Petunia, Dudley and Mike, Harry’s closest relatives.
There they found Dobby perched on the very end of Harry’s bed, his great, green tennis ball sized eyes staring at the prone figure on the bed. Currently, Harry was lying uncovered wearing a hospital gown that was short enough to show that his left thigh was heavily bandaged.
It was a debate as to where the eye was drawn when first looking at Harry – whether it be his face or his arm. Parts of his face – forehead, nose and cheek – were lightly covered by a long, light bandage. His left arm, though, or at least what was left of it was where the eyes of those who’d come to see him lingered the longest. A plethora of bandages were wrapped tightly around his stump before winding all the way up to his shoulder and back down again.
Petunia combed her fingers through Harry’s black hair as she cried silent tears. Dudley, for his part, simply stood at the foot of his cousin’s bed unable to believe that his was the same boy who had, seemingly a lifetime ago, been nothing more than his punching bag – how he greatly regretted those wasted years. As for Mike, he patted Harry’s lower right leg, as far from any injury as possible and wished his cousin a fast recovery.
Three by three, the others also took their turn, all assuring themselves that Harry was indeed still alive, while also seeing the extent of the injuries that the boy’d suffered. Hermione practically threw herself at Harry’s right side, grabbing his hand and winding her fingers between his while she sobbed over his chest. It took the combined effort of both Sirius and Minerva to pry her away and to escort her from the Hospital before gently giving her back into the care of her parents.
At the insistence of the two Healers, the rest of the group that had been allowed in also departed, most silently vowing to be back waiting at the door long before visiting hours began to demand entrance in order to sit by Harry’s bed and to be there when he finally awoke, whenever that happened to be.