Harry sighed and looked at the clock. Five minutes. Five more minutes and his shift was over for the night. He then looked outside. Great. It was raining, pouring really. He sighed again. Since the Dursley's had been threatened about being good to Harry, they had stopped giving him chores. Instead they insisted he get a job. Harry didn't mind too much, he got to keep all the money he made, he just had to feed himself lunch and sometimes dinner. He worked in the local grocery store as a cashier, so it wasn't that hard. The worst part was the trip to and from the store, a good half-hour walk as Vernon refused to drive him.
Finally the clock hit ten and he was free to leave. He had been made to take the night shift tonight as the person who was supposed to show didn't. Harry went out back to the employee room and took off his apron, grabbing his favorite black sweatshirt. He had bought it with his own money, along with the clothing he was wearing. It was easy to tell he had bought it, as his clothing actually fit now. He had bought mostly black clothing, partially because he liked black and partially to continue his mourning for Sirius.
Harry said goodbye to the manager who was closing up and pulled his hood up, stuck his hands into his pockets, and headed out into the storm to walk home. Within five minute he was soaked. Harry was quite surprised when Vernon pulled up beside him in his new company car and opened the door.
"Get in." he growled. Harry hesitated, seeing the whisky bottles on the floor, but at the shout from Vernon jumped in, praying he would get home safe. It wasn't often that Vernon drank, but when he did he drank. In fact, he had gotten this company car when he ruined the last one after hitting a tree when drunk two months ago. So you can see why Harry was nervous to get in the car.
He was even more nervous when they got onto the freeway instead of going toward Privet Drive. Vernon was gripping the steering wheel hard, grumbling at the other drivers. Every once in a while he would veer close to the opposite lane before jerking back into their own lane. Harry made sure he was buckled tightly and grabbed onto the panic bar above the door of the SUV.
"Uncle Vernon, watch the road!" he shouted when Vernon leaned down to grab a still half-full whisky bottle sitting on the ground beneath his feet.
"SHUT UP BOY!" he shouted, still feeling for the bottle. Harry watched in horror as they drifted into the other lane, right into the path of an oncoming big rig. Harry stared with wide eyes as the lights got closer and closer, the horn blaring, then finally CRUNCH! The big rig hit Harry's side of the car. The airbags deployed and Harry smacked his head hard on the side airbags, knowing they had probably just saved his life. Then the car began to roll. Once, twice, three times until it finally stopped, the car upright in on the side of the road. Harry barely registered the pain and the blood coming from his many wounds before everything went black.
Harry woke up to loud sounds, people shouting back and forth, rain falling on him again. Sirens and lights from ambulances and other such things cast an eerie light over the landscape and the noise combined with the many people shouting. Harry noticed his uncle was gone, and that his part of the car had been peeled away so that people could get at him. Suddenly a young man and woman were at his side.
"Hey kid, can you understand me?" The girl asked kindly. Harry began to nod but stopped in pain.
"Don't move your neck!" the man said, placing a brace around it.
"Can you tell me your name?" the girl asked, cutting through his seat belt.
"H-Harry." he croaked out, his voice breathy. He was having problems breathing and his back felt like someone had shoved a stake through it. The loss of air was overwhelming. It felt as if someone was sitting on his chest. Harry began panicking.
"Okay then Harry. We're going to get you out of here as soon as possible, but we need your cooperation." she said. "Where does it hurt the most?" she asked.
"Breathe…can't…" He tried to say.
"Okay, my partner is going to fix that soon, I promise. We've got to get you onto a back brace first, we think you've injured your spine. This may hurt a bit when we move you, but we've got to get you onto a stretcher." She said, even as her and the man were lifting him up. If Harry would have had the breath to do it, he would have screamed. When the man pushed something through his ribs and into his lung he did scream.
"He's going into shock! John, get us to the hospital pronto!" Jackie shouted to the driver. Soon they arrived and Alex and Jackie, the two paramedics, rolled him into the emergency room. Immediately they were surrounded by doctors. Jackie and Alex left, went back to the ambulance after telling them what had happened and the injuries they observed. Harry was oblivious to all of this.
Harry woke up a few days later in a hospital room. There was a strange contraption on his back keeping him from moving much at all, as well as a brace on his neck. There were tubes sticking down his throat with another in his nose. An IV was beside him dripping blood through yet another tube and into his body. His left leg was in a cast and he was covered in cuts and bruises. As he was looking around as much as the back and neck brace allowed him, a kind looking woman walked in.
"Hello there. Harry, right?" Harry tried to nod, but the brace stopped him.
"I'm Doctor Deveau. Don't try to move, Harry. I'm afraid you've suffered a serious spinal injury. I'm sorry to tell you this, but your spinal cord was snapped, severing the nerves that control your lower body." She said. "You're paralyzed from the waist down, Harry." she paused for a minute to let the news sink in.
"You also have a broken leg and two broken ribs. One of your ribs punctured one of your lungs and it collapsed, which is why you couldn't breathe. It's also why the tube is in your throat. It's called a respirator. Movement right now could make your back injury worse, or keep your ribs from setting right, so try to stay still." Harry was dumbstruck. Paralyzed? No, he couldn't be. It was impossible! How could he be paralyzed?
"Your Uncle survived the crash with few injuries, but he's being held in jail. There was another car involved in the crash, as well as the truck that hit you. The passenger of the car died and the driver is in critical condition. The driver of the truck was released yesterday. We found evidence that your uncle was drunk while he was driving, and he is being charged with manslaughter. Once you can speak inspectors will be coming in to ask about the crash. Make sure you don't move around more than you absolutely need to." The doctor said, trying her best to answer any question Harry might have.
Harry couldn't help the tears that escaped once the doctor had left. His whole life had been shattered in less than a minute. As the tears became sobs he choked on the tube. The steady beat from the heart monitor sped up and a nurse rushed into the room. Harry passed out soon after from lack of oxygen and the shock at his condition.
A week passed and Harry was taken off the respirator. He could use his voice again, but it was scratchy and hoarse. The doctors asked if there was anyone they could contact for him, as Aunt Petunia refused to take Harry back once he was out of the hospital. He gave them Mrs. Figg's address. It seemed good luck was not on his side because the nurse soon returned with the news that Mrs. Figg was dead. She had been the passenger in the car that Vernon hit after being hit by the big rig, and had died on impact.
After the nurse left two inspectors came in to question Harry about what had happened. Harry explained that his Uncle had picked him up after work. When asked why Harry got in the car when he knew Vernon was drunk, Harry replied that Vernon was often violent when drunk and he didn't want to cross him. That led to a whole new set of questions about whether Vernon had abused Harry or not. Harry told them he had never been physically abused, but his wording led to even more questions. Eventually the cops found out that Harry had been neglected and verbally abused as a child. Harry blamed his loose lips on the pain relief drugs making him woozy.
"Hello Harry. How are you feeling? Any pain or discomfort?" Doctor Deveau asked when she checked up on Harry the next day.
"I'm fine." Harry answered.
"You will have to remain in the hospital until your spine is fully healed, which could take up to three months. Most of that time will be spent in bed as you need to have a back brace until we are sure you won't make the injury worse. Once you are healed, if we still haven't gotten a hold of anyone, you will go to a rehab center. They will teach you how to get along with your disability, such as teaching you to use a wheelchair and lift yourself with your arms." Doctor Deveau informed him. Harry was silent as she checked him over and eventually she left.
Two days after Harry was questioned the same inspectors returned. They informed him that both Vernon and Petunia were being charged with child neglect. Dudley was being taken in by Aunt Marge while the two were awaiting a trial. Unfortunately, or fortunately for Harry, she wouldn't take him. Harry asked if someone could retrieve his things, which were luckily almost all packed in his trunk.
After another week Harry was deemed well enough to be moved out of the intensive care unit. His lung was perfectly fine again and his back was healing nicely. Both his ribs had set correctly as well as his leg. One of the nurses carefully checked over all the straps on the back brace to be sure they were tight. Three nurses then grabbed the corners of the sheet he was laying on and on the count of three hoisted him up off the bed and onto a gurney. The process was repeated once more in the long term ward and Harry was once again alone.
"Hello there Harry." A voice said. Harry knew who it was without even looking. It was Jeremy, one of the nurses that had been taking care of him during his stay in the hospital. It had been almost two weeks that he'd been in the long term ward and still there was no word from anyone in the wizarding world. Hedwig had yet to make an appearance as well.
"Time for your medication." The young nurse said, popping two pills into Harry's mouth and holding a glass of water to his lips. Harry had to take medication at every meal to deal with the pain in his lower back. He still wasn't allowed to sit up or move his arms. Even if he had been allowed to move his legs, he couldn't. He couldn't even feel his legs anymore.
"It's roast beef for supper tonight, with carrots and a biscuit." Jeremy told Harry before beginning to feed him. In the first week Harry had been extremely embarrassed when Jeremy had to feed him and help him do basically everything except breathe. But the nurse acted as if it was nothing and soon Harry became more comfortable with Jeremy looking after him.
"Are you sure you don't want to tell us the name of your school Harry? I'm sure someone there can help you." Harry continued eating in silence. He hadn't spoken very much since he was moved to the long term ward. There wasn't much to say, and if he ever mentioned Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he was sure they would be whisking him off to the psychiatric ward next.
"Harry, you do realize that since you are still a minor, you will be sent to an orphanage once you are healed?" Jeremy asked. Harry remained silent. Jeremy had been trying to get him to speak for a long time, but Harry was depressed and didn't want to talk to anyone. Jeremy sighed and picked up the dishes from Harry's meal.
"Goodnight Harry." He said, leaving the room. Harry didn't respond. He was sure that the order would have figured out something was wrong, would have found him by now. But then again, he wasn't sure he wanted anyone finding him. Harry was taking the loss of his legs hard. He was sure that his disability would be all over the Daily Prophet once the order found him. He didn't want to face the reactions of his friends, didn't want them knowing he was a cripple.