Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. It is not one of the original Harry Potter novels written by J.K. Rowling. The author of this work of fan fiction receives no financial gain, directly or indirectly, from publication of this work. In publishing this work of fan fiction, the author relies on representations contained in the article "Rowling back Potter fan fiction," authored by Darren Waters and published by BBC News on May 27, 2004.
Having just sent a message to his father with a Patronus, Ron Weasley walked the perimeter of his and Hermione's temporary campsite, casting various camouflage spells that he hoped would prevent Death Eaters from discovering the campsite's location. When he was satisfied that the spells were working and that the campsite's location was secure, Ron made his way to the tent.
Ducking in through the flap, Ron found Hermione bending over a medical exam table that had served as a camp stool until Hermione had cast a transfiguration spell on it. Atop the table rested Harry Potter's unconscious form, clothed in tattered and bloodstained battle robes.
Hermione had been patching up Harry's more life-threatening wounds and was now assessing his overall condition. "He needs professional help," she told Ron, responding to his unspoken question. "There is something wrong with his mind. Spell damage, I believe."
Harry was shivering. His green eyes were open, but lifeless. Every few seconds, some of the muscles in Harry's face would twitch as if he were having a seizure.
Ron sighed. "So, what do we—"
A subtle chime, produced by an alarm ward, alerted the occupants of the tent to the arrival of visitors near the campsite's perimeter. Ron and Hermione brandished their wands and moved toward the tent's entrance just as their visitors announced themselves from the other side of the wards.
"It's just Bill and I," Arthur Weasley called out.
Arthur, Bill, Ron, and Hermione were soon standing in a circle outside the tent discussing the situation.
"The reinforcements arrived after you two evacuated Harry. They distracted the Death Eaters and opened an escape route for everybody," Bill explained.
"How is Harry?" Arthur asked.
"Bad," Ron replied. "Hermione says it could be magic damage to his brain."
"He's not responding to anything I've done for him so far," Hermione added.
"Will he be able to recover?" Bill asked, his sharp tone betraying worry.
"I cannot make predictions without a proper diagnosis," Hermione replied.
Under his breath, Bill cursed. "This sets us back. Without Harry, there is no chance of us pursuing a successful offensive against You-Know-Who."
Arthur sighed. "And, if You-Know-Who figures out that he does not need to reserve resources for defense, he can focus on his offensive strategy."
"We need not give up yet," Hermione said. "Until Harry is dead and buried, there is some hope."
Three years later …
A sober group composed of only persons whose loyalty to each other was unquestionable had gathered in an underground chamber beneath the Forbidden Forest to discuss the business of the Order of the Phoenix.
"With Hodgson gone missing, I opted to abandon the safe house," Mrs. Weasley explained. "I don't think he would betray us, but better safe than sorry, I say."
"I hope you had some help moving the residents," Neville Longbottom said. "Weren't there a lot more children than adults in the safe house with you?"
"Yes, but Susan was there to help," Mrs. Weasley said. "She will cover for me at the temporary location while I set up a more permanent solution."
Rather than wait for the gathered Order members to raise the obvious questions, Arthur addressed them preemptively. "I'll be helping Molly in her search for a new safe house. We probably need to assign an Order member with fighting experience to help Susan."
Ron Weasley sighed. "We'll see if we can find some candidates. Perhaps one of us here could be spared on a part-time basis …"
"We'll figure something out," Bill said decisively.
Everybody nodded. A long silence followed as the Order members contemplated their situation. The Order had many members. But, it had become difficult to determine which were genuine, which were spies, and which would leave the Order when membership became too inconvenient. The had made it difficult to carry out any large-scale operation in secrecy.
Bill stood up. "Now that we have addressed the most immediate concerns, it is time to take final action on an issue that we have left on the backburner for a number of years."
"Harry," Neville said sadly.
"Yes," Bill confirmed. "Harry."
"What is your plan?" Neville asked, sounding resigned.
"The best mediwitches and mediwizards to which we have access have run out of suggestions for Harry's treatment," Bill explained. "To be honest, they've been out of good ideas for at least a year. They are randomly experimenting with potions both ancient and experimental. So far, nothing has had a positive effect on Harry."
Everybody in the room was nodding sadly. After Harry had fallen in battle, Order members had spent a year predicting his eventual recovery before allowing themselves to progress through the various stages of grief.
"This isn't the end of the war. We still have options that do not depend on Harry Potter," Bill Weasley said, trying to boost morale. "And, although we may not have as many duelists available like in the early days of the war, You-Know-Who is losing popularity, even among the blood purists. New recruits will come to the Order and be able to fight."
"If we're giving up on Harry, what are we to do with him?" Neville asked. "It is becoming difficult for us to protect him from Death Eater assassins."
Bill was prepared to answer this question. It was the reason he, Hermione, and Ron had called the meeting.
"Obviously, Harry still needs protection and care. There is a small chance that Harry will be revived or recover on his own. Or, maybe we will discover a use for him despite his present condition," Bill stated.
Everybody was nodding. Emboldened, Bill proceeded. "Hermione, Ron, and I have decided that somebody should take Harry overseas and care for him. It will be easier to care for Harry if he is in a country where Death Eaters do not run amok."
"It makes sense to me," Michael Corner said from where he had his arm wrapped around his wife, Ginny.
Bill surveyed the room, glancing for a moment into the eyes of each person who was present. "We need a volunteer. It must be one of us because we are the only ones who can be completely trusted. Unfortunately, our volunteer will have to go it alone. The Order cannot spare anybody else to assist with removing Harry from the country and protecting him. If things start to improve, maybe others can follow or trade off later, but the volunteer should not count on it."
"I'm sure any of us would be willing to volunteer," Neville said as others in the room nodded, some more enthusiastically than the others.
"There is something else our potential volunteer will need to consider," Hermione said quietly. "I have developed a magical procedure that we will expect our volunteer to perform as a last resort should You-Know-Who be victorious. It could turn the whole war around. Were it any other plan, I would suggest performing the procedure now, but the chance of success is too low and the price is too high. Thus, it will have to be the Order's most desperate, final protocol."
Everybody began exchanging nervous glances.
"What does the magical procedure entail?" Neville asked, his voice low.
Bill looked to Hermione, signaling her to proceed with her explanation.
Hermione closed her eyes for a moment and let out a deep sigh. "The procedure involves blood magic. As with most blood magic, there will be pain for the caster. The amount of blood required also guarantees that both our volunteer and Harry will die if the spell does not work. But, the rewards could be high. In fact, the rewards could be so high that if I had any guarantee that it would work, I would do it myself right here, right now."
"And what are these possible rewards?" Neville pressed.
Hermione took a deep breath. "Harry and the volunteer will time travel. The time travel journey should revive Harry because only Harry's spirit will be travelling through time, and not his body, which is, I hope, the only part of him that is injured. And, even if the time travel alone is not enough, I have incorporated some other features into the spell that might help."
Seeing no opposition to this much of the procedure, Hermione continued explaining the spell. "After arriving in the past, Harry, who knows the key events that led the magical world into this war, can decide how to avert the catastrophe in which we have become doomed to live. Our volunteer can update Harry on what has happened since Harry fell in battle, but really, we would hope that events would not get to the point where such information would be useful."
"My death is probably inevitable, anyway, what with You-Know-Who on the loose and no Harry to fight him," Neville said. He stood up. "I volunteer."
"Please, not you, Neville," somebody said, breaking the ongoing interplay between Neville and the de facto leaders of the Order.
Surprised, everybody looked toward the person who had spoken against Neville. It was Susan Bones.
Since her Hogwarts years, Susan Bones had matured into an attractive young lady. Though she was no beauty queen, Susan's shoulder-length red hair, elegant features, and taste in fashion could turn most heads. Similarly, though nobody regarded Susan as a particularly clever or powerful witch, everybody agreed that she was capable, loyal, and kind.
Seeing that she had everybody's attention, Susan began to make her case. "It has to be me," she said, her voice quavering slightly. "All my family is dead. I have no significant other. I have nobody to leave behind. Yet, nearly everybody else here does have somebody that they will need to leave behind."
"My family is dead, too," Neville gently reminded Susan.
"But you are a top-notch duelist and far more powerful than I," Susan said. "The Order needs you here. Of everybody in this room, I am, perhaps, the most … expendable. This is where I feel I will be the most useful to the Order."
Susan looked at Bill. In his eyes, she could see that he agreed with her assessment of her expendability. It was a hard blow to her self-esteem, but it also encouraged Susan in her opinion that she should be the one to take Harry overseas and carry out the Order's plans for him. "I can take care of Harry. After all, there is only one of him. I've been caring for far more than that while at Order safe houses. I will do whatever magical procedure Hermione wants me to do should it become necessary. You'll just have to coach me a little bit before I go."
Hermione shook her head. "It really should be me, you know. I'm one of his best friends, and I'm the one who should bear the risk of my research and spell work being faulty."
"You are needed here," Susan said firmly, swallowing a lump in her throat and steeling her resolve. "I cannot do what you could do here, but I can do what you would do with Harry."
Hermione sighed, but did not deny that Susan was correct.
"All in favor?" Bill asked, glancing around at all the other Order members present.
The vote was unanimous.
Quietly, Susan finished packing into her suitcase those of her possessions she was not already wearing. Leaving her suitcase on the bed, Susan stepped over to an empty window frame from where she could look out over the city of London.
More than a couple of ambulances and fire engines, guarded by police and military vehicles, were moving throughout the city, their lights flashing. On the horizon, a faint green glow and flashes of colored light in the darkened sky suggested that Death Eaters had been at work.
For a number of weeks, Susan had been living alone in a flat on the tenth floor of a Muggle apartment building. The leaders of the Order had determined that Susan should isolate herself in the weeks prior to her departure to conceal her trail from those who, in the future, might come looking for Harry.
Ron and Hermione had located the building and cast charms to keep it structurally safe for Susan. They had then told her where to meet them on the night chosen for Harry's departure from England.
The building and most of the possessions of its tenants had stood abandoned since a Death Eater attack had blown out its windows, shattered the foundation, and left no small number of the tenants dead.
Susan was no stranger to stark conditions. Over the past years, she had relied on the shelter of Order safe houses, which were often not in prime condition. While at safe houses, she had been able to assist with caring for children and families on the run from Voldemort and had benefited from the safety that numbers and trained Order fighters provided.
However, Susan would now have to fend for herself and defend Harry Potter, who could not help himself or anybody else. With Harry in a coma, Susan would be, in effect, completely alone.
Nearby, a clock tower began ringing the hour. From two separate locations, each about a mile away from the building, two golden flares shot into the air. Five seconds later, another two golden flares shot into the sky. Satisfied with the message conveyed by the flares, Susan stepped away from the window, grabbed her suitcase, and quietly departed from the flat as the sounds from the clock tower echoed across the city.
"It isn't complicated," Bill Weasley told Susan after he finished stowing her suitcase into a Muggle ambulance that the Order had procured. I understand it is as simple as pushing that pedal when you want to accelerate and the other when you want to stop. The wheel is for you to steer, of course. The magic will take care of the rest. We have spent a lot of time casting spells to handle every situation you might encounter on your journey. You will fit in with Muggles on the road perfectly."
"You also have to turn the key in the ignition to start the motor," Hermione said.
"Right," Susan said, standing next to the open driver's door of the Muggle ambulance. She was looking at the driver's seat with a skeptical expression on her face.
Ron Weasley was also standing by, holding three items Hermione had brought along. Hermione took one of the items, a leather satchel, and presented it to Susan.
"Here are the recipes and information for every potion you might need to give Harry. As you requested, the directions cover every brewing detail down to how to cut up the ingredients," Hermione said. "We will attempt to send you suggestions for potions and dosages. But, as you already know, communication will be limited. You may as well experiment with the potions and dosages as you see fit. We've thrown in a few recipes that we did not have a chance to try before now."
"Thank you," Susan said, accepting the satchel and placing it in the ambulance. "I don't know that I would dare experiment, though. I would not want to kill Harry with a potion overdose."
Next, Hermione relieved Ron of a briefcase and handed it to Susan. "This contains cash and documents for the banks to which Harry's liquidated wealth has been transferred. The money has been properly laundered and passed through many accounts in many countries. Still, you should probably withdraw it mid-journey and then slowly deposit the funds elsewhere once you have settled down."
Susan nodded as she accepted the briefcase and moved to place it with the potion recipe satchel.
Finally, Hermione took a small wooden box from Ron and handed it to Susan as soon as the briefcase was in the ambulance.
"The Final Protocol," Hermione announced, sounding a touch dramatic. "The instructions we discussed are inside. When you arrive at your final destination, you should memorize the instructions so you can carry out the spell quickly, if needed. Also, do not keep the instructions too close to the box, just in case an intruder happens to find the box or the instructions."
Susan was placing the wooden box in the ambulance when Neville Longbottom and Arthur Weasley arrived with Harry, who was lying comatose on a stretcher. A moment of silence passed as Neville and Arthur loaded the stretcher bearing Harry into the back of the ambulance. As Ron and Hermione said their goodbyes to Harry and watched Neville and Arthur close the back doors of the ambulance, Bill Weasley took Susan aside for a private word.
"Daily, I tell myself that Harry will recover quickly or that one day the Order will win our war of attrition against You-Know-Who," Bill said. "I wish I could say I was convinced."
"Dumbledore told Moody and Moody told me," Bill said, "that Harry is the only chance to bring You-Know-Who down. In sheer magical power, only he can hope to match You-Know-Who. There is also a prophecy."
"Many have discussed the possibility of a prophecy," Susan admitted.
"Wherever you go and whatever you do, make protecting Harry and his health your first priority," Bill instructed Susan. "And should Harry regain his faculties, you must treat him as the leader of the Order. Even if his decisions about the fight against You-Know-Who run counter to the Order's prior strategies or seem strange, just follow Harry's lead. He has his ways of knowing You-Know-Who's mind. And, when it comes down to it, he is probably the one who must face You-Know-Who in the end. We'll trust you and him."
"As you direct," Susan said solemnly as the others signaled to her that it was time for her to leave.
They watched Susan climb into the driver's seat and pull the door shut. Susan started the ambulance's motor. As she pulled away, the ambulance's lights automatically began to flash.
Soon, the ambulance was out of sight. Yet, the Order members who had seen Harry and Susan off remained, staring into the distance at nothing.
With white knuckles, Susan guided the ambulance through the busy streets of London. As Susan exited the city limits, the ambulance's lights stopped flashing, the appearance of the ambulance subtly changed, and the ambulance almost literally faded into the darkness of the night as it raced to remove Harry Potter from the land that had fallen beneath Lord Voldemort's shadow.