Sorry for the break in-between posting anything. I had a little break, but I'm back to writing again.
This new idea came around during the time away, and I'm looking forward to posting the idea. It's definitely a departure from what I usually write, but it's one I'm excited to take on. There'll still be lightness and fun, but they might be a little bit further down the road on this one.
The biggest thanks go to the people that had a hand in editing and beta-reading this work, all found through the wonderful Flowerpot Discord. So, the greatest thanks go to: Raph, Emp, ThisDude, TheMightyClark, Michal (HonorverseFan), and the wonderful Nauze. Thank you guys, your support is invaluable. A big thanks go to Lib too, for whom I wouldn't have written this anywhere near as quickly without him. IYKYK.
Let me know what you thought with a review. They're a great inspiration to write more.
Here it is!
The summer of 1995 was one of oppressive heat; heat utterly unwelcome along England's shores. Rain abandoned the skies for weeks on end, the swelter inescapable. While novel in the beginning of the season, as the temperature soon grew unendingly, by July, every man, woman, and child had more than had their fill of the unbroken warmth.
And so, the dawning of the 24th of July was truly an oasis of respite to everyone as, for the first time in nearly a month, the sun did not meet clear skies in its first appearance, but storming clouds and swirling winds. The heat broke on that morning, the rain a balm to all.
The rain, meteorologists came to decide, was one born from the cooler winds of the North Sea, sweeping across the length of the British Isles. It began in the northernmost point of Scotland, sweeping downward, meeting Newcastle, Manchester, and Nottingham in its path to the south coast and back out into the Atlantic.
London's drought was broken at midday, and straight away, the populous ceased bemoaning their purgatory of a working week in professional clothing to bemoan their misfortune of a lunch break without an umbrella. Even in the more whimsical corners of the city, where wands were held rather than phones, they were forced indoors in their free hours.
For some, the day remained unchanged though. Even as the rain pattered against the glass windows and red bricks of St Mungo's Hospital, it did not change nor shift. The healers and nurses moved as they always had; as they always would do. Carefully and thoughtfully.
Yet, on the Adolescent's Ward, there was a shift. In a bed at the furthest corner of the room, a body which had remained unmoved for as long as the sky remained clear, began to turn. Dark hair, before so still in restless sleep, shifted left and right as the boy to whom it belonged shifted, left and right.
And, just as the hour ended, and afternoon truly began, his eyelids blinked open to reveal piercing eyes, green and wild.
Harry awoke slowly, with sleep still clinging to his every effort in greeting the world once again. His body felt numb, his nerves distant to his mind's awareness. Every motion took an age to happen, every gesture of his hands an argument.
Rain tapped against the window by his side. Under some duress, he pushed his eyes open to meet the day. Yet, as he did, and a blurry world appeared, he came to realise that he didn't recognise the blur at all.
The walls, white and faultless, were so very nearly those of Hogwarts Infirmary and yet so utterly not them at all. The roof didn't stretch quite as high, nor did Madam Pomfrey's office peek out from the corner. And, as he flitted his eyes toward the window, he didn't see the infinity of green that was the castle grounds, but rather the towers of grey that could only signify a city sprawling ever outward.
Sensation slowly returned to him, part by part. First though came his throat, sawdust dry and catching. He thought to call out for someone, anyone, to bring water, but even the thought scraped against his sensitive nerves. Harry reached outward, hoping to find a glass of something, anything. He found nothing.
Yet, no sooner did urgency return to Harry's motion than was his panic quelled as, from nothing, a glass appeared in his grasp which he brought to his lips, relieved. He drew deep breaths after he did, the first tribulation of the day behind him.
"Afternoon, Mr Potter," came a voice beside him, its owner having materialised in his brief distraction. "Welcome back to the world of the living."
Harry coughed, water splashing around the back of his throat as he did. He looked up to attempt to meet the blur's eyes. With a free hand, he reached around once more, hoping to find his glasses. "P-pardon?"
"For the past twenty-nine days, you've been in a coma," the voice continued to explain. "Beginning on the twenty-fifth of June and ending about an hour ago. Today is the twenty-fourth of July if you were curious, and you're currently within St Mungo's Hospital. I'm Healer Davis." She paused. "Looking for these?"
Before Harry could respond, a wrinkled hand took his and folded his fingers around his glasses. Harry nodded and, after several attempts, managed to return his eyesight to its best state. Where once was a blur, now stood a woman in healer's attire. "T-thank you."
His healer gave a brief, small smile. "Due to the nature of your condition, in order to ensure your health and comfort, you've been placed under several sensory deprivation charms. Mostly to ensure that, in your sleep, you did not exacerbate your injuries." From the top pocket of her cloak, she pulled forth her wand and cast a spell into the air above his head. "Over the next few days, you'll begin to feel your senses return to you." She met his eyes for the first time. "This, I'm sorry to say, will bring with it a return of pain from your injuries. We hope that you shan't need a greater amount of pain-relieving potions than those currently administered, though if you feel that you do, please don't hesitate to notify me or any of the staff."
Harry nodded, though as he did his eyebrows began to knit together. "Thank you," he began by saying. He took another gulp of water. "Healer Davis?" he did then last ask. "How did I get here?"
Healer Davis stilled where she stood then, at once, she suddenly sat into the chair beside his bed. "I think that's something best answered by someone else," she began. Before Harry could argue, she added. "What's the last thing that you remember?"
Harry closed his heavy eyelids again, forcing his mind back into recollection. "I remember it being the Third Task the day after tomorrow," he said, tapping at his mattress gently with his fingertips. "I remember them putting a maze on the quidditch pitch."
"My friends were arguing. Hermione kept telling Ron off for playing chess with me," he said, a smile coming to his face briefly. "Said he was distracting me from the tournament." His eyes snapped open. "The Task happened, didn't it?"
Healer Davis stilled again, before nodding once.
Harry coughed again. "That's why I'm here, isn't it?"
She nodded once more. "I can't tell you much more, as I don't know much more," she said. "To my knowledge, Cedric Diggory and yourself shared first place by taking a trophy at the same time, which was a portkey. However, you disappeared the moment you touched it. Cedric appeared almost immediately after with the trophy, and you appeared sometime later. Unconscious." Healer Davis cleared her throat. "You awoke almost immediately, in great discomfort, speaking unintelligibly, such that you were then placed in a magical coma by Healer Pomfrey until you were suitably stable."
Harry could feel his eyes widening behind his glasses. It'd taken him a month to regain 'stability'.
"According to our diagnostics, you arrived suffering from blunt force trauma to the chest and lower back, as well as deep lacerations upon the wrists and ankles, likely caused by unnatural binding," Healer Davis said, before drawing a slight breath. "Your body was demonstrating the usual aftereffects of the Cruciatus Curse, such as tremors, partial loss of cognitive function, sustained muscular pain and long-lasting physical weakness." She leaned forward. "Has that helped to jog your memory at all?"
Harry could only shake his head.
"I understand that this is a lot to take in but I thought it best that, if you were to know, you ought to know it now," Healer Davis said. She stood up then, casting Harry a final, apologetic look. "I'll be seeing to the other patients now but if you have something you need, don't hesitate to ring the bell." She pointed toward the desk beside him, where a bell stood. "Feel free to get some rest in the meantime." She met his eyes a final time. "I'm sorry that this has happened to you, Harry."
The thought of sleep after a month's worth ought to have sounded ridiculous to Harry, but he could think of nothing he wanted more. His eyes were already heavy and closed without his notice.
When Harry woke again, the skies were still grey and he had no way of telling whether a minute, an hour or a day had passed. His glasses had not fallen off in his sleep and so he awoke with clear vision. Clear vision, and yet thoughts still muddled.
The room was empty, he realised amongst his cloudy thoughts. There were two rows of twenty beds, and yet his was the only one occupied in so far as he could see. White walls, and white bedsheets his only company. Sensation had not returned to him by then, either. His skin still felt oddly distant to his nerves.
He wondered if anyone had attempted to send letters to him in his sleep. Slowly, he tilted his head toward his bedside table, hoping to find letters from Ron and Hermione, or even perhaps Dumbledore. He found nothing except his wand and that bell; not even the day's newspaper to read.
And, during his perusal, Healer Davis had returned once more, a tray of food in hand.
"Good morning, Harry," she said. "It's the twenty-fifth if you were curious." She leaned forward to gently place the tray on his lap. Harry nodded his acceptance. "We've been feeding you nutrient potions while you were unconscious, but it would be best for your recovery if you started to eat solid foods again."
"Am I still on those pain potions?" Harry asked, his eyes dipping down to look at his food. Roast beef and mashed potatoes with gravy. After a moment, he lifted his hand to take hold of his fork. "Everything still feels numb."
Healer Davis swallowed a breath. "Due to the nature of your condition, with its cause being the Cruciatus Curse, and what looks to be a sustained one at that, we thought it best to reduce their use slowly, so that we may gain a more full understanding of your case to proceed," she explained. "We began to do this while you were sleeping, but you had a strong physical reaction to this, so we decided for this to be done slightly more slowly than we had originally intended."
Harry shook his head in disbelief. "I don't remember any of that."
"You didn't experience any change as you were sleeping?" she asked. "No sudden alterations in dreams?"
"Nothing," he said, shaking his head once more. "I didn't dream at all."
"Well," began Healer Davis, the word said slowly. "The full effects of that particular spell are not widely understood; certainly their effects on the brain aren't." She brought her hands together in a quiet clap. "However, your wakefulness is definitely a very good sign. This means that the worst has been averted and that it's highly likely you will make a good recovery."
Harry didn't allow those words to settle.
"Has anyone sent any letters while I've been out?" he asked, his voice sounding sharp in the immaculately white room. He looked up to meet the healer's eyes.
She pressed her lips together. "I suspect they were waiting until you've woken up, before reaching out," she offered. Her face brightened, then. "However, your familiar, Hedwig, is in the owlery with the hospital's owls, if you'd like to reach out yourself."
Harry gave a slight smile at the news.
"Have any of your memories returned to you?" she asked.
"The last thing I remember is still two days before," Harry reaffirmed. "Can I go to the owlery?"
"Definitely, and we can see if you're able to walk, too. Otherwise, I'll get you a wheelchair," Healer Davis said. "I'll come back when you've had your meal."
Harry nodded, and she left at once. He was slow to eat, the food bland, and he hardly made a dent into the meal before he became full.
The moment he was done, his healer returned.
"It's to be expected that your appetite will be diminished after such a length of time without proper digestion," the Healer explained. "While they supply you with enough energy, they aren't processed by the enzymes in the intestine, but rather by the liver, and so your stomach will have shrunk."
Harry gripped the edge of his bed as tightly as he could manage, preparing to force himself to his feet. "I want to go to see Hedwig now," he told her.
Though it took a moment, Harry managed to throw his legs to one side of the bed. It took him several efforts, but he did manage to lock his arms and press himself up; his arms shook with the effort of doing so, his arms thin and pale to his own eyes.
He looked down to himself, and though his body was obscured by the gown the hospital had given him, he could see that he was far slighter than he'd been. He reached up, to pass his hands over his collarbone, and found that the bone protruded slightly more than it had before.
"There is a limit to the quantity of potions that could be absorbed by your liver properly at any time," Healer Davis said, her eyes watchful over him. Harry tried to take a step, though his footing faltered as he did and the healer instinctively reached out to support him. "The proper treatment of the Cruciatus Curse is very intensive in its use of potions, and so we are unable to safely provide you with the full regiment of nutritional supplements without adversely affecting your recovery and damaging your liver."
Harry tried to take another step and faltered again.
"While at the lower end of acceptable, over time after eating solid foods your weight should return to a more healthy range," Healer Davis said, already beginning to turn toward the door. "I'll get you that wheelchair."
Harry shook his head at her retreating form. "No, I can do this," he said. He took another step, his footing still unsure, but he managed to make it. His stance was wobbly but capable.
Healer Davis rushed over, her hands extended as if to catch him, though she pulled away just as quickly. "Are you sure you don't want me to grab a wheelchair?" She rested her hands on her hips. "Just to be on the safe side."
He shook his head. "I can walk." He gritted his teeth and did exactly that.
With each step, he threatened to fall, his legs shaking even under his own slight weight, though he never did. Even as pain jolted along his muscles, he stood firm to it. Healer Davis dipped closely on occasion, ready to catch him after his seemingly inevitable fall, but she never did have to.
To distract himself from the discomfort, he looked along the bays of beds. As he'd assumed, they were empty.
"We usually only have one or two people staying here overnight in the Adolescent's Ward," Healer Davis explained upon his perusal. "We often go weeks without anyone here, usually until someone's had an accident up at Hogwarts. Sometimes, if there's been a big raid with the Aurors and A&E can't fit everyone, they'll bring the non-urgent cases to this ward but hopefully, that won't happen while you're here."
Walking, after a month's sabbatical, was dizzying. Harry's feet seemed to meet the floor at odd intervals and at odd paces. He felt like he'd been transplanted into someone else's body. The hospital, in its blankness, only served to confuse him more for its constant unchanging did not allow for him to mark his motion with any consistency. The world, for a moment, appeared endless, his struggle unending.
Yet they did reach the door, even in this odd, looping density of time. Healer Davis opened it to reveal more white walls, though at last they were broken with posters and noticeboards, and the occasional door to other rooms, undoubtedly filled with more blank spaces.
The hallways were devoid of people too, which struck Harry as odd. On the single occasion he'd been to a muggle hospital for a broken arm when he was eight, the corridors had been filled with fretted pacing.
"Most people don't walk around the hospital, you know," Healer Davis said, quick to fill the air. "The staff are allowed to apparate around the premises and most people that stay here are not able to walk freely. The only ones that do are the visitors to our patients, but it's not visiting hours for a little while yet."
Harry nodded and allowed himself to be guided toward the owlery behind his healer's practised steps. Thankfully, they were already on the highest floor, and so he wasn't required to climb any steps, as that would've undoubtedly been a step too far.
Healer Davis opened the door to the owlery the moment they reached it, allowing Harry to walk in, though not following him, content instead to stand outside and watch him carefully. The sight she revealed was one almost identical to one he'd seen at Hogwarts. Scores of owls and, stood to herself, Hedwig.
In a newfound burst of energy, he made quick strides to greet his long-time friend, a smile blooming on his face.
"I've missed you," Harry said, before raising his arm to cough, his throat still sore. After his rushed paces, his lungs felt hollow. To distract himself, he passed his free hand along her feathers, his touch familiar. "Have you seen Pigwidgeon?" Hedwig gave a gentle coo under his touch, before shaking her head. "Fawkes?"
She shook her head again.
"Oh," Harry said. "Well, I'll be back soon with a few things to send. Would that be alright?"
Hedwig nodded quickly, before budging her head against his hand, bringing a smile to Harry.
"It's good to see you again," he said. He didn't speak again after that, though he did stay for a while, content to be with someone he knew, in familiar circumstances.
Healer Davis left Harry to his own devices after that, likely to care for her other patients. Before she left though, she did leave him with parchment and a quill, and so he set about writing letters to Ron, Hermione, and Sirius.
To Ron and Hermione, he wrote short correspondences. Mostly to say that he was awake and alive, and that they were free to visit should they want to. He didn't ask them to write what had happened in the final task; from what he'd gathered, he'd prefer for that news to come in person.
To Sirius, under a pseudonym, he asked whether he'd found a home to stay in and that Harry really hoped that he had, if only so that he was allowed a reprieve from his constant moving from place to place. As, if there was anything that his current situation had informed him of, it was the exhaustion of movement.
He thought to write to Professor Dumbledore, though he decided against it. The Headmaster had a knack for arriving at Harry's side whenever he was most required. He would arrive at some point, of that Harry was totally sure.
He set off to the owlery after he was finished, the effort no less arduous than before. Hedwig was there for him again, and Harry stayed with her for a while before she set off on her journeys. He didn't say a great deal, as he didn't feel like he had much to say, but he enjoyed the silence with her.
When he returned to the ward, Healer Davis was there waiting for him.
"You ought to have told me you were going," she said, lifting the bell on his bedside table so that it filled his vision. "We have this for a reason."
"I think I'm able to walk twenty yards without supervision."
Healer Davis shook her head. "Sustained use of the Cruciatus Curse causes significant damage to your nervous system, and the recovery from this damage is often unclear," she said, the words quick to come. The words straight from a medical journal, no doubt. "Often, even months afterwards, victims have been known to collapse, seemingly for no reason."
"Well, I'm fine now, aren't I?" Harry argued. He shuffled around her, returning to sit back on his bed.
"That isn't a healthy attitude to take with this, Mr Potter," she returned, folding her arms. "You can't keep risking your own health without cause. It's the attitude of someone that doesn't wish to get better, and I have no interest in treating someone that doesn't wish to be treated."
"Fine," Harry said, falling into his bed. He picked up the bell. "I'll ring this in future." He did just that, though no sound emerged. The Healer's ears pricked up at the motion, though. "I just wanted to know why I was here in the first place since you're not telling me."
She sighed. "I've told you everything that I know for certain," Healer Davis defended. "And it's not my duty to talk about the circumstances of your arrival. My job is to heal you. That's why I'm here now, actually."
From the pocket of her robe, Healer Davis pulled out three small vials, all holding colourless liquids that Harry came to realise were his potions.
"It's time for your treatment," Healer Davis said, her voice devoid of tone. "After your less than positive reaction yesterday, I thought it best to try to lower your dosage while you were awake. This way we have a greater understanding of the exact severity of your current ailments."
Harry nodded in agreement. The sooner he stopped taking those potions, the sooner he could leave.
Healer Davis passed over the vials.
"With this dosage, we're mostly aiming to return a higher sense of feeling to your body," she explained, "This shouldn't come with any great sense of pain, but you will begin to feel a greater sense of touch. Parts of your body that have received treatment will feel tender; your arms and lower back, for example." She pressed her lips together. "If you are to suffer still from shaking or tremors, they will most likely begin soon. However, these changes are all necessary for your recovery, as we first need to understand what your ailments are in order to treat them. Okay?"
"Okay," Harry agreed. He pulled off the tops of all three vials and swallowed their contents at once. They tasted of nothing. "How quickly will I feel any change?"
"Within the hour," Healer Davis told him. She reached over to take the empty vials from his hands. "These potions act far quicker than any muggle medicines you might've taken."
"And how long do you think it'll be until I'll be able to leave?"
"That," Healer Davis said, taking a step toward the door, "is entirely up to you. There isn't a great deal of precedent in such cases of the Cruciatus Curse upon adolescents, thank Merlin. Should you react positively to a reduction in your potions, it might well be a week. If you don't, it will likely be longer. It's best not to put a set date on these things." She reached for the door. "Anything else you require? A book maybe?"
"The day's paper, if you wouldn't mind."
She pressed her lips together. "If you're sure."
Harry nodded, and Healer Davis left, leaving Harry staring at the ceiling, waiting for whatever was to come, to come.
The tips of his fingers on his right hand tapped upon the white bedsheets, the rhythm consistent. In the quiet of that room, the noise grew, amplified by its solitary peerlessness. It grew grating then even to Harry's own ears, and so he quickened its pace until it mirrored the likely pattering of the rain upon the window. Harry pretended that was what it was.
Against his own willing, the drumming of his fingers grew erratic. Sometimes the tapping was gentle, sometimes the touch came sharply and suddenly, his own rhythm lost. He tried to return to that even speed, yet the effort only brought his arm to shake. He tried to stop that too, his hand forming into a fist, but that only served to make him shake more.
Harry threw his hand against the bed in irritation. He relaxed his hand, but still, the shaking persisted.
They were tremors, he realised. He leaned across his body to get the glass of water from his bedside table. The water shook within the glass until it threatened to tip out of the glass and splash onto his duvet, and so he moved it to his left hand.
He stared back to the ceiling. Hopefully, the healer would be there soon with the paper.
Healer Davis did arrive soon, though not with the Daily Prophet.
"It's visiting hours," she said, peeking her head around the door. "And, there's someone here to see you."
Harry sat up, the movement pinching at his lower back. He couldn't wait to see Ron and Hermione.
Yet, when the door opened, neither Ron nor Hermione appeared.
Cedric Diggory gave an awkward wave as he entered the room, his other hand concealed behind his back. His eyes, it seemed, didn't know where to look, and so they shifted around the room, pointedly looking anywhere except for meeting Harry's eyes.
Harry fought the urge to sigh in disappointment.
"Hi," Cedric said, before pulling his arm from behind his back to reveal a box of chocolates. They were accompanied with a card which Harry could read, even from the distance, to say 'Get Well Soon'. He thrust the box toward Harry, placing it at the foot of his bed. "I got you these."
Harry nodded, short of anything to say.
"I'll leave you to it," Healer Davis said. She cast a look toward the bell. "If anything happens, you know what to do."
In her retreat, she shut the door behind her with a crack, the noise only serving to jolt both Harry and Cedric into awareness.
Cedric's voice came to him first. "So-"
"-What happened that night?" Harry asked, his words passing over Cedric's.
"You don't know?"
Harry shook his head. He wished to tap his fingers absently, though his hands shook too much to do so. "Feel like I know nothing."
Cedric stood up tall, his spine straight. "Well, I can't say I know much of what happened either," he began by saying. He brought his palms together to wring out his hands. "It was all such a blur. The-the thing is, well, the thing is that we both made our way to the Cup, and we decided to take it together. Do you remember that?"
There was a pleading look in Cedric's eyes. "Not at all," Harry told him.
"Well," Cedric said, mostly to himself, his body seeming to deflate. "Well, when we took the Cup, it turned out to be a portkey, and it took us to this…graveyard."
"Right," Harry said, with an affirmative nod.
"And then, then you heard this voice that you seemed to recognise," Cedric said, his hands refusing to still despite his insistent wringing. "So, you summoned the Cup toward me, and the next thing I know, I'm back at Hogwarts. A couple of hours passed, and then you came back. You were screaming, and you were bleeding, but you kept repeating the same thing over and over. He's back, he's back, he's back."
"Did I say who was back?" Harry asked quietly, though his voice seemed to hold an echo as it rang out into the room.
"Yeah, you did," Cedric said. "It was Voldemort."
"How did I get back?" Harry asked. Through Hogwarts' protections too as well, somehow.
"No one knows," Cedric said. "No one's really asked, to be honest. They seemed to think it was just you being you."
Harry closed his eyes briefly, drawing a sharp breath. The words weren't a shock as he knew, in some dim and distant part of himself, that it always seemed to be him, in one form or another.
"So that's who did all this to me," Harry muttered to himself, a glance spared toward his forearms, upon which scars were littered that even the dutiful care of St Mungo's hadn't managed to heal. "Were you alright then? In the end?"
Cedric nodded. "Yeah, I was fine."
"And Krum and Delacour?"
Cedric winced. "Not so much," he told Harry, his hand pushing the sleeve up his arm to scratch, fretted, at the skin beneath. "Fleur had to retire after a minute; apparently all the acromantula they'd put in the maze just swarmed her; she had to go straight back to Paris to get a specialist to treat her. And Krum." He paused deliberately. "Krum was put under the Imperius Curse and took one step into the maze, and immediately left and kept walking. Someone finally stopped him before he reached Edinburgh, and his head still isn't quite right. People say he's going to miss the start of next season.
"There's one last thing," Cedric said, bracing his hands upon the metal frame at the end of Harry's bed. "Everyone heard what you said, about Voldemort. Not everyone liked it. And not everyone believed you. Most people just said it was you going mad, after what had happened to you."
"But what else could it be?" Harry argued, his jaw twitching beneath his pale skin. "This doesn't happen by accident, does it?"
"According to them, it does," Cedric told him. "They said there's more than one dark wizard in the world and more than one person that would want to get their name off your back. They could have a point, too."
"So what do you believe?"
"Me?" Cedric asked, the word falling from him.
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "You."
"All I know is how you changed the moment you heard that voice," Cedric said. "And if there's anyone that knows when Voldemort's back, it's you. Cruciatus or not."
Harry nodded once, satisfied. "How've you been, then?" he then asked.
"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" Cedric asked, rather than answered. He took a stride toward the chair at Harry's side, but only sat upon it when Harry nodded.
"I don't remember how I've been," Harry replied, earnest. "Been out of it until yesterday."
"I know. My mum works here; it's how I found out."
Harry smiled. "Not printing my blood tests on the front page of the Prophet, are they?"
Cedric winced. "Not quite," he said. "But yeah, not bad at all. Spent a lot of time with Cho, actually."
"Puddlemere won the league, by the way," Cedric rushed to add, watchful as he was of Harry. "You support them, right, same as me?" Cedric grinned. "Your old captain was apparently the standout. Wood played for England in a couple of friendlies, by the way."
Harry gave a false smile. "That's great," he said, quietly. His eyes dipped to look at his right hand, its motion still endless and erratic. Gripping tightly only hurt. "Thanks for coming, Cedric."
"Of course," he said. "I'm sure once the word gets out, you won't be able to move for visitors." He stood. "You can write to me if you'd want to. Not that you have to, but if you want the Puddlemere results, or if you just want someone to talk to. Y'know, champion to champion."
"Thanks," Harry said, his voice earnest again.
Cedric gave one last polite, awkward wave, before making strides toward the door, his trainers squeaking upon the tiles as he walked, the room silent but for it.
Silent, and then.
"Kill the spare," Harry said, his voice holding a strange, echoing timbre. "That's what he said, wasn't it?" The focus of his eyes disappearing far away into the distance, a million miles away, his green eyes foggy. "Kill the spare and take the other."
Cedric's eyes dipped to the floor. "Yeah," he said, though his heavy silence was enough.
"First thing I remember and it's that."
"That's the only thing I remember of the graveyard, I promise. Before I even realised, you'd summoned the Cup toward me," Cedric said, the words tumbling from him. "I'm sorry."
Harry shook his head almost absently. "It's not your fault."
Cedric shifted on his feet. "He didn't do it, Harry," he said, before pointing to himself. "The spare survived."
Harry looked down toward himself, at his weakened body. From what he could gather, Voldemort had tried his hardest to change that.
"I almost forgot," Cedric said then, his voice at odds with the air of the room. "I brought you something else too." He reached into the pocket of his jacket to pull out a cheque. "They said because I got back first, I was the real winner, but seeing as how we both took the cup at the same time, I think it's only fair you get your half."
Harry shook his head. "You don't have to do that."
Cedric walked back toward Harry, to place the cheque on his bedside table. "You earned it," he said, with a pitiful look down at him. "Merlin knows you earned it."
The door slammed shut before he could think to argue or throw the cheque back at Cedric. Instead, he picked it up, and read its front.
Five-hundred galleons, he'd apparently earned. Five-hundred galleons for a month of his life.
It hardly seemed fair to him.
There it is!
Thanks again to all the beta-readers. You're all the best people.
Thank you for reading, let me know what you thought.
Until next time!