Thank you so much everyone who offered to beta-read my story. I have a beta now, who is working on the chapters. Hopefully I'll have all of the edited chapters up soon!
In Every Darkness
For three days Harry lay in the Hospital Wing, his eyes closed, breathing natural, but he was sleeping.
Harry was in a coma. The Bludger had broken his back when it had crashed into him, and he'd hit his head hard on something when he fell.
"It's a good thing that we aren't in the Muggle world," Hermione remarked softly. She, Unity and several members from DA were sitting around Harry's still, sleeping form.
"Why do you say that?" Ron, knowing very little of the Muggle world, enquired.
"They can't do anything about broken backs," Hermione replied, "if a person did what Harry just did, it would be quite likely that they would never move again."
"What, you mean he'd wake up and not be able to move?"
"Yes," Hermione replied patiently. "He'd be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life and possibly not be able to speak. At least in the Wizarding world, with all these spells to aid him, he will recover completely within the space of a couple of months."
"He'll have to wake up first," Ginny pointed out sadly, looking down on the boy she'd once thought she loved. She now had boys lining up to go out with her, and her feelings for Harry had changed. He was her brother, just as Ron was. As annoying, and as lovable, as any one of her family.
"How can he not? The best medical minds from St. Mungo's have been sent to make sure he makes a full recovery," Ernie McMillan pointed out, a little pompously.
"Even in St. Mungo's there have been those who have never woken from a coma, or so I'd heard," Gabrielle said slowly, "But Harry will not be one of them. He needs to live."
"And live he will," Tatsu Kendo, who had been at Hogwarts for the match, walked slowly into the room. "There are things that he must yet do before he can pass from this world to the next. It is not yet his time to die."
Ron and Hermione, knowing something of what he was talking about, nodded in agreement. Voldemort was the only one who could bring about Harry's death, so Harry would not die now … but would he wake?
The only constant companion that Harry was allowed to have was the orange-golden cat named Gryphon, who had been Harry's near-constant companion throughout the year.
At times all but the medicinal staff were shooed from the Hospital Wing, as they tried spell upon spell upon spell to attempt to wake Harry.
His hurts had been completely repaired, but he would need to flex the muscles of his back or they would become stiff easily. He would never completely recover from the accident, but he would recover enough that no one would know he still bore the internal scars of it.
The last day of the year was approaching, but there was none of the usual celebration.
On the morning of the forth day, visitors were lining up to enter the Hospital Wing when the staff opened the doors, to once more surround Harry's bed with quiet talk and worried eyes.
There was a sudden shriek of surprise from within, and everyone took a jolting step towards the door – had Harry died? Then a male voice they recognised spoke out, "I told you I could help you wake him. Go and let my wards friends in."
"But sir! Mr. Potter has only just awoken, it would not be a good idea to –"
"You will allow me to decide what is a good idea concerning my ward. I am sure that he will appreciate his friends around him." The door swung open, and Tatsu Kendo stood in the door way. "Ron, Hermione, just you two for now. The rest of you can come in later, but it's not a good idea to completely swamp Harry just yet. Rest assured, however, that he is now awake. The danger is passed."
There was a soft cheer from the gathering, and Ron and Hermione slipped into the Hospital Wing and hurried towards their friends bed.
"Harry!" Hermione smiled in relief, seeing her friend sitting upright in bed, supported by the pillows. His eyes were once more shielded with glasses, but wide open and emerald green again.
"Hi guys," Harry said softly.
"How are you?"
"I've been better," Harry replied drolly. "My back aches, and I feel stiff as, but I'm told that with movement and stretches, that will all pass."
"Thank god you're alright," Hermione said, dropping into a seat.
Harry smiled slightly and held out his hands. Ron and Hermione each took one, and the three of them sat together quietly, just holding hands, utterly peaceful.
Ten minutes later Madam Pomfrey came in to check on them, after having sent her helpers back St. Mungo's, and found all of them sleeping deeply.
"Ron and Hermione haven't been sleeping much for worrying over Harry," Tatsu remarked when he saw them. "Let them stay together for now. They'll be fine."
"Yes, of course," Poppy replied with a faint smile. "They deserve the rest after the shock they've had."
The little cat was lying over Harry's stomach, it's golden eyes open and alert, watching all that was going on, protecting its friend with any possible attack.
That afternoon Harry was released from the Hospital Wing to attend the end of year feast. Ron and Hermione kept close to either of his sides, just in case he should lose his balance, or stiffen up and not be able to move properly.
The Great Hall burst into spontaneous, thunderous applause when the doors were opened and the schools hero, Harry Potter, walked into the room.
Even several of the Slytherins clapped, though not as enthusiastically as the rest of the school, in case the Death Eater students took exception to this and tried to hurt them.
Harry smiled slightly at his welcome, obviously pleased, though a little overwhelmed, and was helped by his two friends across the hall to the Gryffindors table, where he sat down.
Everyone was watching his every move, as if afraid that he would collapse and die or something. He kept nodding and smiling and reassuring everyone who came forward to ask how he was.
Headmistress McGonagall rose from her position at the centre of the Head table, and Harry realised that this would be the first end of year feast without Dumbledore there to give the speech.
"Settle down," she said severely, sending off a few clouds of purple sparks to get everyone to pay attention to her. Talk very quickly died down.
"I'm sure that you'll find Mr. Potter to be perfectly well," she informed everyone, "I have it on the word of our worlds most respected medical practitioners that all danger is now completely over. There is no need to crowd the lad.
"Now, to other announcements. This year has not been the best one, for Hogwarts, or for the magical world as a whole. The Dark Lord has returned, and he is gathering strength, ready to attack at any moment. Our own beloved Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, has departed from us, and the other schools of Britain have been attacked, and brought here seeking refuge.
"There is little that can be done, yet, about the first problem we face. As a whole, the Wizarding society must re-learn defensive and offensive spells, and make ready to fight back. For the second, the dead are now dead and must be left to rest in peace. Nothing can be done about the loss of Albus Dumbledore – he will be sorely missed by all. But in better news, something is being done about Beauxbatons and Durmstrang.
"All of the European Ministries have banded together to get workers and spell casters, and the schools are being rebuilt. Hopefully by the end of the summer you will be able to return to your own schools in your own countries. They will not be completed, but you will be able to be taught in them, and live in them."
McGonagall stopped there, to let the applause from the Beauxbatons and the Durmstrang students die out. Madam Maxine rose before she could continue, and McGonagall nodded for the other woman to speak.
"I would like to thank 'Ogwarts for 'osting us 'ere," she said, her voice booming forth. "Your 'ospitallity has been great, and will not be forgotten."
She nodded firmly and sat.
Durmstrang's headmaster did the same, and then McGonagall returned to her speech. "Tomorrow you will be returning to your homes. I urge you all to proceed with utmost caution – we do not know the Death Eaters movements, and we do not want you, our future, to be placed at risk.
"It is with this in mind that I will give the following announcement. The Ministry of Magic has decided that from now on all Underaged wizards and witches will be allowed to use magic.
"This is for your own protection, but it is a privilege, not a right. Should anyone be found misusing their magic, they will be severely punished, and the privilege will be removed."
Very few people really heard the last message, they were too busy celebrating. Harry smiled with his friends and didn't mention that this rule had been lifted for him the year before.
"How's that for a get-well present?" Ron asked with a grin.
"Pretty cool!" Harry agreed calmly, thinking of the giant pile of presents that had been sent to him while he was out in the Hospital wing. There were more cards than he'd seen in his life before!
Soon enough the feast was over, and Harry was helped up to the Hospital wing, which was where he'd be staying that night, just to be sure that he was totally fine in every way.
Tatsu told him that he would pack away Harry's things and take them to his house by Floo, since this would be easier than Harry taking it with him on the train.
Harry fell asleep that night very readily, as he was worn out by the afternoons activities. Madam Pomfrey assured him that he would tire easily for the first week or so, and then he'd be fine again. Harry looked forward to the weeks end.
He was shaken quietly awake by Tatsu in the early hours of the morning. "What's going on?" Harry asked quietly.
"Headmistress wants to see you," Tatsu muttered back, "Something about the train ride tomorrow … I don't want to wake Poppy, she'll make a fuss."
Harry nodded and rose, dressing quickly and following his guardian from the room. They made their way quickly and silently from the Hospital Wing to the Headmistress's office, were Tatsu gave the password.
Up in the office they found Headmistress McGonagall sitting behind her desk, with Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape in front of her, looking nervous and still dressed in Death Eater robes.
Harry raised an eyebrow slightly, surprised by their appearance, and by the summoning, though fairly sure that he knew what it would be about.
"Mr Malfoy and Professor Snape have just returned from a Death Eater meeting," Headmistress McGonagall informed Harry.
"I gathered as much," Harry replied.
"I'll let them speak for themselves," she said. "I have already heard the report."
Harry nodded and Malfoy spoke up before Snape could.
"The Dark Lord plans on sending Death Eaters to attack the train tomorrow," he said, "they are to capture you and take you to him in his fortress, so that he can kill you."
"Ah," Harry said softly, "I wondered if he would think of doing that."
"How can you be so calm?" Snape demanded harshly. "Obviously, you'll have to go home with Mr. Kendo via the Floo network now-" he stopped, because Harry had held up a hand.
"I will be doing no such thing," he said firmly, green eyes flashing.
"Potter," McGonagall said slowly.
"Hear me out," Harry said, as close to an order as he could get. "I have no intention of running away and leaving the train to the Death Eaters. They will not hear that I am not aboard it until after they've attacked.
"I refuse to leave the other students on the train to face this attack alone and unprotected. I will be aboard that train when it leaves Hogsmeade tomorrow morning, and I will see to it that all of the students dismount it alive at Kings Cross in the afternoon."
"Mr. Potter, you have only just recovered from a broken back, there is not all that much you can do," McGonagall told him.
"Ah, but my recent recovery gives us the perfect reason to bring someone else important aboard the train. If he agrees, I would like Tatsu to accompany me. The official story could be that he worried for my back, and decided to come with me on the train, to make sure that there were no accidents. It is well known that he trusts few people.
"Together, with DA to help, we should be able to fight off the Death Eaters."
Draco watched Harry in amazement. When he and Professor Snape had returned from the Death Eater meeting not half an hour earlier, they had rushed to find the Headmistress and let her know about that threat to Potter's life.
Draco had fully expected that Potter would be all too glad to run home the easy way, and he was struck again by Potter's quiet bravery in the way that he refused to run away and leave others to bear the brunt of his departure.
"I agree," Tatsu Kendo spoke out immediately after Potter finished outlining his plan. "It shouldn't be too hard, with Harry, DA and I on the job."
"It's against my better judgement," McGonagall said slowly, "But there is little I can do to stop it now, I suppose, that won't put someone in danger of losing their life."
Potter nodded, "Exactly. I assure you, Headmistress, I have no intention of dying, or being taken captive tomorrow, any more than I intend to allow any other student to be hurt by my actions."
"You're house traits show strongly in your Harry … I hope you aren't boasting. If you are to do this on the morrow, I suggest you return to your bed and get some rest. Mr. Malfoy, I suggest the same for you."
Both students nodded and left, neither spoke as they separated at the bottom of the stairs, each going to their own beds.
Harry slipped easily into his bed in the hospital wing and fell asleep the moment his head touched the pillow, not to awaken again until eight o'clock the next morning, when the sunlight shone on his face.
Madam Pomfrey gave him one last check up, then sent him on his way. "I'll see you next year," she told him, "Try not to arrive on the first day of term."
Harry grinned back at her, "I'll try. I don't know how successful I'll be, but I'll try."
"Away with you," Madam Pomfrey smiled, shooing Harry out of the door and off towards breakfast in the Great Hall. When Harry arrived, less stiff than he had been the day before thanks to some exercises he'd done the day before, he looked absolutely composed, and even those who knew of the attack on the train that would occur that day wondered if perhaps he'd forgotten about their late night meeting.
He went through breakfast without once showing trace of nerves, as he chattered with his friends, reassured his well-wishers and generally enjoyed the last day before the summer holidays began.
Tatsu dined at the head table, and came down to join Harry just as the meal ended.
"Tatsu is coming on the train with me," Harry explained to his friends as they walked from hall, "He will be making sure that I don't hurt my back, since it is still quite weak."
"That's a good idea," Hermione remarked, "I'm glad you'll be coming."
Tatsu smiled back at her. "I will be keeping my ward safe – his care was entrusted to me and I will not fail in my duty."
"With you on the job, I'm sure nothing will ever give you cause to fail in your duty," Lily remarked. She was walking with her group of friends from Hogwarts school, as well as with Gabrielle.
"Well, my friends, this is the last that we will see each other in some time, I think," she said, as they stopped by the door with all of their luggage and waited for the carriages to arrive. "I return to Durmstrang, and Gabrielle returns to Beauxbatons, by our own means of transport."
"Yes," Harry said sadly, knowing that he would miss the girls.
"Well, we'll always be friends," Hermione said.
"Always," the whole group repeated firmly, grasping each others hands.
"If you ever need our help, don't hesitate to call us," Gabrielle added.
"Nor us you," Harry replied, sadly. "I will miss you here. But I'm sure you look forward to seeing your family again."
"Yes, we do," Gabrielle replied. "But we will meet again!"
"Goodbye," everyone said to everyone else, exchanging hugs as the carriages borne by the thestrals trundled to a halt before the doors of Hogwarts.
Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny quickly chose a carriage and hopped into it with Tatsu following behind. The journey to the station was fairly brief, and the four students were feeling a little down after saying goodbye to their foreign friends.
Tatsu helped everyone else get their stuff out of the carriage and they boarded the Hogwarts Express, Harry insisting that they find a compartment in the middle of the train, rather than at the end of it, which was what they usually did.
Members of DA wandered through the train, sitting for a while around Harry and his friends, and then filling up the compartments on either side of that, with the doors slid wide open so that they could talk easily.
Though to the casual observer Harry looked calm and relaxed, Tatsu, practiced at such things, could see touches of stress and wariness about his young ward.
He silently applauded Harry's acting abilities, even as he himself watched constantly for signs of danger. Neither Harry nor Tatsu let their guards down as the day wore longer and longer, knowing that the Death Eaters would attack meant that they were not lulled into a false sense of security.
Finally, just before they reached habited lands, the attack came. Ten or so masked figures on brooms suddenly flew from the thinning forest straight at the middle compartment.
"Stun them!" Harry barked, his wand already in his hands, swinging to aim at the Death Eaters, "stupefy!" he snarled, and the red light shattered the window as it hurtled towards it's target.
"Tatsu, keep their spells away from us, if you can," Harry muttered to his guardian, who nodded.
Screaming echoed from down the train, obviously people had seen the Death Eaters, or perhaps there were more of them. Harry cursed, wondering where they would attack from.
"DA! Divide into groups of ten and go down through the train, help anyone who needs it. I'll stay in this compartment," Harry ordered.
There were nods as the group quickly moved to do what he said. "Ron, Hermione, go with them. They'll need your help more than I will," Harry added. "Send the first years to me, if it's safe to."
He was totally calm, and his friends obeyed him without thinking. It would not be until much later that they wondered just why he could be so calm in the midst of a Death Eater attack.
Harry and Tatsu were left alone in the compartment, but the two of them were all that was needed in order to fight off the Death Eater attacking.
Harry tried to incapacitate anyone that he could, but he knew that he could not take a life, and he also knew that it would be unlikely that anyone would arrive in time to arrest the felled Death Eaters.
Oh well, they'd be caught eventually – what was important for now was to keep everyone on the train alive and as unharmed as possible. There was a knock on the door and a group of seven first years slithered into the room. "Keep to the ground," Harry ordered them. "There isn't all that much you can do."
They all nodded, and silently did as they were bid. Harry could see spells flying from the train in every direction, keeping the black robed figures at bay.
He smiled proudly. Last year only a very few of the students would have been able to do anything in this situation, this year, anything was possible.
The train hurtled on towards London, leaving unconscious Death Eaters behind, while those who were still standing did their best to keep up with the train and try to find Harry Potter.
There was little hope for them, Harry knew, but he also had to be careful not to become overconfident now that the fights end was in sight.
The fight itself did not last long. Ten Death Eaters were a formidable force, in some ways, but Tatsu could stop most of the destructive spells from working properly, and there were several hundred students who knew what they were doing with their wands.
Harry was glad that there hadn't been more Death Eaters if many more of them had attacked at once he did not think that his friends could have fought them back. Tatsu would not have been able to handle Modifying so many spells.
"We were lucky," Tatsu remarked, as they left the last of their pursuers behind. "They were not expecting us to be so prepared. Had they been expecting a proper fight, we would not have lasted."
Harry nodded. "I expect that they did not want to hurt their own children, who could easily have been on the train, and therefore didn't attack until they knew who they were aiming at, also," he added.
"Probably," Tatsu agreed, as they slid past a farm. London was on the horizon.
There was only the one ambush set up for the train, which Harry regarded as rather poor planning, and so they arrived in Kings Cross station without any other difficulties.
No one, he learnt quickly, had been hurt, save for three first years and third year who'd been stunned by curses that should by rights have killed them.
Harry thought that this was a very good job, and was glad that he'd put so much effort into training his schoolmates in the arts of duelling.
"Well, it's not the worst end to a school year," He remarked to his friends, as they stepped off the train. Family were exclaiming over their children, seeing the somewhat bashed up appearance that the train now sported.
"Not the best thought," Hermione replied. "Well Harry, we'll see you later, when you come to Grimmauld Place – I expect that we'll be summering there again, just to be safe."
"I expect so," Harry agreed. "You'll have to come and visit on Privet Drive sometime – I finally have family who'll welcome you!"
His friends smiled at him, and others came to take their places, farewelling Harry and thanking him for everything that he'd done.
Harry smiled and waved as he and Tatsu made their way towards the border, which would take them out into the station proper, where Neko would be waiting to drive them home.
Well, that's it for this story! Next story picks up a little way into the summer holidays! I hope that you enjoyed the story! Next week I'll begin posting the concluding chapters to After the Dawn: The Philosopher's Stone, then taking a short break while I work on the sequels to both stories before I start to publish them. Please be patient.
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