It was an odd feeling for seemingly forever, like time had turned into quicksand and didn't want you to do anything at all. Initially, immediately after that curse it was like every single molecule of Harry's body was alive and vibrating at a frequency which dogs would probably be able to hear. Now it was like every thought of movement he wanted to do had a 10 ton weight attached to it, preventing it moving at the natural speed it wanted to.
Then the paranoia kicked in, but yet everyone secretly knew in the back of their head that the answer to Ron's question was "Yes, that's it". At last one ruddy great big chapter of their lives had come to an end.
And once that numbness, a numbness which had last far too long for his liking, had worn off Harry could feel every muscle in his face pull his mouth into a smile. He didn't know weather to collapse to the floor in some kind of blessed relief or if screaming and dancing around the room was a more appropriate answer.
He decided to do the one thing he always did when totally unsure about something, look to his mates.
Ron's face was classic, he stared from his wand to the spot Voldemort occupied just a few minutes ago and back to his wand, still looking for the answer to his question; unwilling to commit himself to one answer or another before the brainiac or hero confirmed it. He clicked and made eye contact with the latter resulting in the look of utter disbelief vanishing from his face as his eye's locked with the emeralds of his best mate. He got that contagious grin too, "Prophesy my arse, we bloody did it".
Hermione started laughing uncontrollably, almost a nervous hysterical laugh of a mad woman. This resulted in Ron and Harry spinning around in unison to stare at her. "Don't jinx it, but….." she said, her eyes sparkling. It was obvious what she actually believed.
She ran over and pulled the 2 of them into a big group hug, and the usually macho and hard men actually hugged back.
But then through the mess of Hermione's bushy hair Harry caught view of something which must had been there for some time, and yet he had pushed it to the back of his mind. He ignored it till he had time to deal, and now it was back to haunt him.
The guilt which consumed him for this oversight made him feel positively sick, he could feel a lump in his throat growing bigger by the second and his eyes filled with tears once again. He tentatively broke away from his mates and walked across the room.
James appeared to be totally oblivious to what happened in the rest of the room, he was hunched over Lily, his hands still twisted in her flaming hair. All colour had left his face as he knelt over the perfectly still figure of the woman who would one day become his wife and Harry's mum; providing that she got through this.
James looked up at Harry, hazel eyes obscured by tears and looking like each piece of hope in them had been dragged out, "She's…." he started but the words got caught in his throat and came out as a subtle choke.
He tried again though, never breaking eye contact with Harry. "Infirmary…" he said, although you had to strain to here it it was said all the same. The pounding in Harry's throat eased a little, dead people didn't need infirmaries. But the pain was still there; clouding everything in his mind as if he was looking out of a car windscreen on a particularly frosty morning. So clear when it came to defeating the dark lord the relatively simple task of taking someone from one side of the castle to the other was beyond him.
That quicksand feeling was back.
Harry was only partially aware of everything that happened from that moment on, he vaguely recalled Hermione saying something, and Ron picking up Lily and taking her. He remembered walking down bits of corridor, but whether it was in silence or in a hurry he didn't know as his mind was swimming with dreams and nightmares, hopes and fears.
Looking back on the whole experience it was like someone else had taken temporary control of his body while he was on a holiday. He was definitely on automatic pilot and it wasn't until a good while later he found himself sat in the hospital wing and appreciating what was going on.
Maybe it was the stench of the place which brought him to his senses, just as muggle hospitals have that odour of antiseptic constantly in the air; Madame Pomfrey's domain had a slightly different but equally as distinctive smell of some fresh smelling substance which cleared your head as soon as you caught the slightest whiff of it.
He was surrounded by everyone who had been in that dungeon. Lily was lying in the hospital bed, tightly wrapped in the pristine and stiffly starched white sheets while James was asleep on in the chair next to the bed, head on the bed so all that was visable was his messy black hair. Sirius and Remus were sitting out of it slightly, occasionally whispering things to one another but never loud enough to make out what it was, they were obviously feeling awkward at being in this whole situation.
Harry was vaguely aware of Hermione holding his hand; although she was asleep on Ron's shoulder she kept this physical connection. The red head had one arm wrapped around her, maybe out of this whole experience those two might realise that they were destined to be together.
"Dumbledore must have said something" Harry said, to no on in particular.
Ron looked up, "What's that mate?" He said,
"Dumbledore, when was the last time this many people where allowed in the infirmary?"
Ron let out a slight chuckle; it's funny how your mind works in stressful situations. "True, usually we would be being chased out by one rather stressed matron with broom in hand by this point". Ron mused, letting a small smile out to his friend. He sobered and locked eyes with Harry, so he couldn't squirm out of the question. "How are you holding up?" he asked tentatively.
Harry shrugged, "I'm still here, has to be a good sign, right?"
Hermione stirred slightly in her sleep, and Ron held her close again. Harry let go of her hand, letting it drop back against her side, out of the awkward position it had been twisted in.
"So, it's just a waiting game, is it?" Harry asked anyone who was listening.
"Yeah," Remus said from the corner, his voice horse, "She'll be fine though. Just waiting for her to wake up."
Harry felt the weight of the world life from his shoulders; his mum was going to be fine. They hadn't screwed up anything that greatly after all. He felt faint, but in a good way, like he'd just taken his first full breath in a few hours and he shuddered as he released it, his eyes watered up again but he wasn't going to cry. Not here, not now. It wouldn't help in anyway so why bother, so instead he let out a big smile.
"And anyways, what does it feel like to defeat a dark lord?" Sirius asked, and at that moment in time Harry didn't know whether to swot him for insensitivity to the situation or weather to wonder if this was one of the best feelings of his life.
It was all going to be fine, it had to be. The shitty stuff had been done, no more dark lord on their back, no lasting damage to Lily, 2 new couples formed.
Now it was just about getting home….and saying sorry.
I am more than a little pissed off, my computer died and with it went everything. So that's why this chapter has taken forever and a day to get up. Add into that the ever present degree and I have been rushed off my feet. Sorry about that.
Also I've promised myself that every chapter I write will now be in excess of 2 sides of A4. I might be back to gut this chapter, not enough dialogue for my liking.
Thank you all for the pestering emails and reviews. Please continue doing it. It's the summer holidays in 2 weeks. And then I'll have no excuse.