A/N: I finally found the courage to go back to this fic, after writing to other OS (these last two days) for the Nanny fandom. It got me back into writing mode, so here I am, ready to undertake the rather massive task of trying to finish this fanfiction (to which I just realised that I would need to add more chapters than previously intended, but that's alright ;) )
So I give you the ninth chapter: A time for healing (part 1)
The first thing Albus Dumbledore saw as he opened his eyes was a blinding white light. He automatically closed them again. He felt as if his retinas had been pierced by lightning bolts and his head was killing him. What on earth had fallen on him?
The second thing he noticed was that everything hurt. Not as if he had had a good work out and simply suffered from muscle pains, but as if his left leg had been torn from its socket and the bone had been mashed with a meat tenderizer, as if his chest had been crushed by a boulder, and as if his right shoulder had also suffered extensive damage.
Through the haze of his pain, Albus could only wonder what had happened to him. He had no recollection of anything. He tried to open his eyes again, and had to blink repetitively to fend off the offending brightness of the lamp. Then, he felt something gently pricking his arm, and pain relief floated though his veins, leaving his head fuzzy, but able to function in some capacity. He also noticed that the lights had been dimmed enough that he could open his eyes without being uncomfortable. It reassured him. Someone who cared enough about his comfort to ensure that he was free of pain, and that the light was not too strong could not wish him ill.
However, the question remained. Where was he? He tried to turn his head and assess his surroundings, but it only served to make him dizzy and increase that throbbing that threatened to destroy the remains of his poor brain.
He heard a muffled voice. Someone was trying to tell him something, but he was still too disoriented to make out anything from it, but an offending sound. He tried to ask where he was, but his throat was too dry; he only emitted raspy moans.
He was somewhat aware of the presence of another person in the room., but could not process much else. His awakening and resulting pains, had him in sensory overload.
The presence was coming closer. His heartrate increased. He did not know anything, and it was making him vulnerable. Something cold was deposited on his parched lips. No. Not cold. Freezing. And wet, like… Ice. He opened his lips as much he could and the ice chip fell in his mouth. He slowly sucked it, then moved on to another, and then another, until his thirst was abated. The fresh liquid was like a balm on his abused throat. Tired, he drifted off again.
The next Albus awoke, the lights were not as bright as they had been the first time, and he was immensely grateful for that. It was also very comforting. Wherever he was, he was still safe. Slightly reassured, Albus Dumbledore assessed his physical state. The throbbing in his head had reduced to a dull pain, and he could move his head about if he minded the speed. H tried to move his arms and legs: he could do so without trouble, although they were still very sore.
Glad that he was not restrained, Albus tried to reach a more upright position, from where he could see what was going on. He had no sooner propelled himself up on his elbows that he fell back down again. The air itself was too painful to breathe in. His chest still felt like a boa was crushing it.
Once again, the pain made him dizzy, and his vision blurred. What shapes and colours he could discern – white walls, a catheter and a pouch full of liquid, the standard brown wool cover, pointed to a hospital room. The person – probably a nurse – click clacked toward him again and pressed a few buttons. Immediately, he felt the light pricking, annunciator of Oh yes! Pain relief! He was out again in a few minutes.
After the fight, a fresh rescue team accompanied by medics had been sent by Headquarters. They had scoured the fort, and found Grindelwald's gruesome squished remains. They had recovered the body of his greatest foe and that of a young Junior Auror, who had gone beyond the call of duty that day.
The priority had been to transport the survivors to safety and thence to a hospital while the recovery team dealt with Grindelwald's eccentricities. The injured had briefly stayed in France before being accompanied to Saint Mungo's by portkeys.
During Albus' first days at the Wizarding hospital, the healers had believed that the saviour of their world was going to die on them. His heart stopped multiple times, and the extent of his injury made everyone doubtful of a complete recovery. His left femur was shattered and torn out of its socket, his ribcage was crushed and it was nothing short of a miracle that his lungs had not been punctured, and his right shoulder looked destroyed. His hard head had also taken quite the boulder. Yes, for most of the healers, their first sight of the newly proclaimed Saviour of the Wizarding World was a broken body.
They had been especially waspish at the way he had been brought to them: they believed his injuries might have worsened during the journey. Why a Portkey for the patients? What had happened to transporting the healers to the sick and injured, then transport everyone on a big boat, to ensure that the patients were stabilised? The muggles did it, and it did not work that badly, right?
Over the course of a few days, they had managed to stabilise him and, a week after he had arrived, his body was faring much better. His living prospects had improved by fifty percent, and they were no longer afraid that his heart would stop in his sleep. His ribcage and leg were still difficult cases, but would heal nicely thanks to the many potions and spells available to the healers. It was around that time that Dumbledore awoke for the first time. Then, he drifted in and out of sleep for a while, groggy and disoriented by the pain potions in his bloodstream.
The newt time Albus awakened properly. He felt considerably better: his head no longer throbbed – although it was still woozy -, and he drank the water instead of sucking of ice chips – drinking with a straw was a victory. The pain in his ribcage has been reduced to a dull ache, a sure sign that it was healing, and, with the nurse's help, Albus even managed to sit up and breathe somewhat properly. For the first time, he could eat, and was received the visit of the healers in charge of his case: Chief Field Medic O'Clare and Healer Jenkins.
The men had been called by the enthusiastic and boisterous nurse guarding him for the day, claiming that he was awake A few minutes later, they strode in…
"Good morning, Commander in Chief, sir" said O'Clare, the tallest of the two, who had a bushy dark blond moustache. "How are you feeling today?"
"Well, I can sit up with the nurse's help, and my body doesn't feel like it's shattering in a million painful pieces, so I guess I'm better" replied the patient, whose position did little to put him in a good mood.
"It is indeed a very good sign" replied O'Clare. Dumbledore's sarcasm had not been lost on him, but he was used to worst from seasoned veterans. It did not bother him. "Let me introduce you to Healer Jenkins, one of the foremost healers here in St Mungo's, and the head of Trauma Department. We owe him marvellous advances in the realm of pain-relief potions."
"So it's to you that I owe the relief from the feeling that my body was being disjointed by meat cleavers? Thanks" Once again, he could not hold a sarcastic repartee. It was as if O'Clare was trying to avoid talking to him about his physical state, tentait de noyer le poisson as the French would have said.
"A pleasure to meet you again, Professor, even under those circumstances" said a nicely chubby man with a full head of chestnut brown hair. Although Albus was downright sour that they did dive straight into business, something in the healer's manner inspired trust and he managed to calm down.
The two blue-robed men checked his vitals, his reactions to stimuli, etc., and when they were finished with him, he felt as poked and prodded as last Christmas' turkey. He felt frustrated again. He had hoped that it would be quick. He wanted out.
"So healers, will I live?" he asked as acidly as a man could from the confines of a hospital bed.
The two others shared a somewhat contrite expression, and O'Clare sighed.
"Sir, for quite some time, we were not sure that you would make it…"
Albus' eyes widened. He had not thought the extent of his injuries to be that severe. Properly chastised, he felt as if Minerva had told him off for one of his poor jokes. Suddenly feeling a irrepressible urge to see her, he listened carefully to what the healers had to say.
"Professor Dumbledore, most of your injuries have healed properly so far. When you were brought in, you had extensive damage done to your left leg, right shoulder, ribcage, and a serious bump on the head, no doubt done by the falling rocks. Your body's recovery is quite satisfactory. The broken bones have healed, and what inconvenience you still feel is due to the regrowth of new muscle tissue, nerves and tendons. In fact, in about a week, even your ribcage should be as good as new." Explained Healer Jenkins.
"We also took you off the morphia yesterday, sir." added the Field Medic. "since morphia-based pain medicine has been known to be addictive after a while, and you no longer required it"
Albus knew that the culprit for his deep slumber and blanked out awakened moments were probably a combination of the morphia and his injuries. He did not miss it one bit. He liked to be in control of his body, his reactions and his magic. Besides, he wanted to see how Minerva was doing, and he needed his wits for that visit. He knew she had come right into the battle, and had interfered with one of Gellert's spells, therefore saving his life. And he cared for the young woman. He had to see her.
"Alright then, and when will I be let out of this bed, healers?"
"Tomorrow, if you feel up to it, you may take a stroll up and down the corridor with Nurse Pomfrey." replied O'Clare.
"A most level-headed young lady" added Jenkins approvingly.
Seeing Albus' look of total incomprehension at Jenkins' reply, they explained to him that fan mail and presents had been flooding the hospital's mail system. There were also hate mail and threats, but the real danger seemed to come from the squealing wizards and witches of impressionable character who had developed a kind of hero-worship for him. The idea left a bad taste in his mouth, and he found himself once again wishing he could go see Minerva. Her levelheadedness would surely calm him down – which was one way of saying that she would tell him off for acting like a child and send him back to his bed to rest immediately.
He was shaken out of his reverie by Healer Jenkins' voice.
"I apologise, healer, you were saying?"
"That you must refrain from using your magic for the next few days. It has to recover from your ordeal, just like your body is doing, right now."
"So, no magic?" he said, pouting.
"No magic for the next three days, sir" said the medic "And after that, we will start on magical re-education, working from basic spells to the most complicated ones. But don't worry, you'll be back to yourself in no time."
O'Clare's moustache was bristling, a sure sign that he was smiling. Oddly enough, it reassured Albus. His magic was not lost, just out of synch, and he would recover quickly enough. The wizard's relief only lasted a few moments, though. Just as the healers were taking leave, the boisterous young nurse was back to announce his doom: his brother was coming to visit. He had hoped to be in better shape before he met his brother. The meeting did not bode well for his tired old bones…
A/N: well, how was it? I anxiously await your thoughts