Disclaimer – J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter.
Chapter 1 – Dusk
It had been almost a year and half since Harry's seventh year and currently the Order of the Phoenix was holding up in one of the many caves on the Island of Skye. They were regrouping, healing, and planning for their next move against Voldemort.
Even without knowing the prophecy, everyone had assumed that in the end, one would defeat the other. No one had even imagined a scenario where the fight between the two would end as a draw. Both sides retreating, only to clash again. After the loss of Hogwarts, and a few months later, of Twelve Grimmauld Place, the Order need a place to regroup.
With Voldemort constantly on the lookout for any signs of the Order, they had to make the majority of the trek using non-magic means. After a few weeks and a handful of skirmishes with Death Eaters, the Order reached the caves. Setting up a makeshift encampment inside a couple of caves, magically connecting them, they began planning their next move.
That was over four months ago and even before then, people were on edge. Now spending so much time in close contact, in addition to the mounting losses and no new direction, tensions were rising. It didn't help matters when two of the Order's leaders seemed to be going at each other's throats at almost every opportunity.
In late December, almost six months since they arrived, the two were at it again.
Hannah Abbott was sitting at desk she had conjured in the cavern they had set up as an infirmary, reading a medical text on how to use magic to repair ligament damage.
As she read, she absentmindedly rubbed her right knee. During one of skirmishes during the trek from Grimmauld to the caves, Hannah had barely missed an attack, but the blast sent debris flying and a sharp piece of the tree pierced her knee. Unable to leave her behind, where she would be an easy target, the others did what they could for her and continued their march. Since that day, Hannah walked with a limp and the help of a cane. While she had to change many things about her life because of her injury, she refused to let it interfere with her being a Healer.
With many of the older, skilled wizards and witches gone, the younger ones had stepped up to perform their roles. Hannah had always felt she was better suited to be a Healer than a fighter, but she still wanted to help Harry. So after the first attack, she, like many other members of Dumbledore's Army, refused to go home and instead became members of the Order.
Due to the circumstances, she was unable to learn how to become a Healer the normal way, so she began to learn hands-on, listening to the older ones, reading and studying all the medical texts she could scrounge, and learning from the minor injuries they let her attend to. But when their ranks began to thin, Hannah found herself pressed into dealing with more complicated injuries and it was trial by fire.
As Hannah read, she heard footsteps approaching and knew what was coming. It was the same thing everytime, and it was getting tiresome. You can almost hear the anger in her steps, she thought sarcastically. Five, four, three, two….
Then on cue, her fellow Healer and best friend, Susan Bones came storming into the infirmary and over to where Susan was sitting. "That man is a stubborn fool!" she roared while beginning to pacing back and forth behind Hannah.
Sighing softly, Hannah shut the book before turning around to look at her best friend. Susan had become a Healer much like Hannah had, but where Hannah had to work hard to pick things up, they came more naturally to Susan. Which was why, even though under-qualified, when the role opened due to the death of the predecessor, Susan had been placed in charge of the Orders' Healers. She had done a good job as Head Healer, but as she tried to make suggestions on how to improve things for what she thought was the better, she began to clash with Harry.
"He refuses to accept that having Healers out in the field will save more lives. He's become so closed-minded and refuses to budge on anything," Susan said as she began to gesture widely, her strawberry blonde hair in its long plait, whipping around her face. "How the hell can we fight a war and expect to win, if we don't learn from our past mistakes?"
Hannah just sat there patiently listening, having been through this too many times to count. Finally having an opening, "Like you, who goes out of her way to compromise about everything," she said sarcastically and grinned when Susan glared at her.
"It's the same thing everytime," Hannah went on. "You both are too stubborn to give any ground to the other and all you two end up doing is shouting at each other before one of you storms out. You two take everything so personally."
Susan folded her arms across her chest and scowled at her friend as she continued, "And you two don't just fight, there's like this weird sexual tension in the air when you two go at it. Like one of you is going to lunge at the other and just go at it."
"What?" Susan's scoffed. "There's no way I could be interested in a man like that."
"No way, you say?" Hannah said as she gave her a wide grin and leaned forward in her chair. "So you did not whine for months about him taking Parvarti to the Yule Ball or wonder what he saw in Ginny Weasley?" Susan's jaw twitched in irritation as she had no way to fight back.
Hannah smiled triumphantly, "Thought so."
Having enough, she snatched a small notebook of the desk. "I have patients to check," she mumbled before stomping away.
Rolling her eyes, Hannah turned back to her book as Susan walked off to the other end, towards the patients. "I wish those two would just go find a corner somewhere and snog the hell out of each other."
At roughly the same time, in another part of the Order's cave network, Harry was blasting boulders, trying to unwind and calm himself down.
After the staff meeting, Harry felt the overwhelming urge to blast something and immediately headed towards the rocky cavern they had set up as a practice area. Why is that woman so frustrating?, he thought while blasting another rock.
"Women problems, lover boy?" a voice asked.
As Harry spun around and aimed his wand at the source, the voice continued, "You're even jumpier than normal."
Harry scowled at the woman with bright pink hair. "You should know better than to sneak up on me, Tonks."
Tonks just smiled as she walked up to him. "Had another row with the Miss?" she teased. Harry was like a little brother to her and with her relationship with Lupin, she felt the three of them were almost like a family. "I heard, well everyone heard, you and Bonesy fighting again."
"The woman's aim is to get herself killed," Harry muttered as he put his wand away.
Tonks mouth twitched as she bit back a laugh. "As opposed to you?" she shot back.
When Harry tried his best intimidating glare, Tonks just smirked and looked him back in the eyes.
Growing serious, she stood in front of Harry, arms crossed and looking down at him. "Come off it, Harry. Since Ginny died, you've been hell bent on destroying Voldemort and not caring what happens to yourself."
Harry flinched at the mention of Ginny's name. Sighing softly, "We just don't want to lose you too."
For a moment, Harry thought back on the friends he'd lost. Neville had been killed while defeating Bellatrix Lestrange and saving a bunch of first years. Hermione had disappeared during the attack on Grimmauld Place and Harry prayed that she was dead. Ron was killed a few months later when he acted on a rumor that Hermione was alive and was drawn into a trap.
Luna had been killed a few months ago, doing just what Susan had suggested. Harry had let her come with an expedition team to survey the area when they had first arrived at the caves. She had been killed when they came across a group of Death Eaters, who were in turn killed themselves by Harry almost seconds afterwards. Harry, alone, had carried Luna's body to a nearby field, where he buried her as best he could. When he returned to the Order's camp, he disappeared for the night. Only Lupin knew where he was and what happened, and he told no one out of respect.
While Luna's death was the most recent, it was Ginny's death that haunted Harry the most. During the fight at Hogwarts, Ginny had been with Harry when Draco snuck up on them and attacked from behind. If Ginny hadn't pushed Harry away and taken the blast from Draco, he would've been dead. Once Harry realized what happened, he hit Draco with all three unforgivable curses in an uncontrollable rage. When he finally fought Voldemort, he had such little emotional control, it was a surprise he did as well and lasted as long as he did.
Harry saw Ginny's death as his fault. He had let Draco sneak up on them, forcing Ginny to save him. If he had been more aware of what was around them, she may still be alive today, and maybe, just maybe, he would've defeated Voldemort. But instead, he lost another person that he loved.
Each one of these deaths took a toll on Harry, and in a way, a piece of his heart. Even before he lost Luna, he just couldn't let himself allow anyone else in. This caused him to isolate himself and pull away. He grew more impatient, quicker to anger, and was more likely to make rash decisions.
Tonks looked at Harry in concern as she saw the far away look in his eyes. Deciding to move away from the ghosts of the past, "I've heard her idea and it's a good idea. We don't have the Healers to pull it off, but she also came up with training the aurors in triage."
Harry looked away to one of the blasted rocks, "I'll think about it." Even though he didn't want to admit it, it was a good idea. The problem was there was something about Susan, that made him immediately raise his defenses, even though she really wasn't a threat to him. He got anxious around her, which lead him to get jumpy, and when Susan would get frustrated with him, he'd get angry, which caused her to get angry as well.
"She's not out to get you, Harry. No one is." Tonks then quickly added, teasingly, "In fact, I think she fancies you." Tonks snickered at Harry as he tried to give her an annoyed look. When that failed, he quickly adverted his eyes and tried to nonchalantly rake a hand through his hair and not blush. He can kill a basilisk, face the Dark Lord, yet is stumped by women.
Harry tried his to just brush it off. "That's the last thing I need," he mumbled softly. He wasn't blind, he did find her attractive, but he felt it wasn't worth letting someone else in. His only goal was to defeat Voldemort by any means, including sacrificing his life.
"I disagree but that's a fight for another time." Tonks studied him for a moment. She was worried that Harry would pull himself away too far and not be able to come back, that soon he would reach the point of no return. Tonks, along with everyone else, hated Harry's moodiness. It was hard to live with him, especially with his short temper. She felt that Harry deserved some happiness in his life, with so much darkness laying claim to his young life, and that he may have something with the blonde Healer. If they'd just let themselves.
Watching Harry walk out, Tonks shook her head, Too proud, too damn proud.