The hospital wing was quiet when they left, and Jenna took the time to imagine what she would say if the woman really did wake up. Would they fight? Or did Molly Weasley really intend to do better? And what did that mean for Ron and Ginny's attitudes?
Lost in thought she didn't even notice when Molly's eyes opened and settled on her.
But she did notice when Izzy let out a deafening screech.
And then all hell broke loose.
A deafening horn sounded in the Hospital Wing. The Hogwart's Alarm.
Jenna squawked at the sudden overwhelming noise and clasped her hands over her ears. It took a few moments for her to recognise the sound and to realise that actual danger was upon Hogwarts.
And then, over all the noise, she heard the screams.
Gasping in horror Jenna ran to the windows, desperate to see what was happening. It was chaos outside. The second years, who had been outside for Herbology, were closest. They were running back to the castle in a panic with behind them...
Dementors. Hordes and hordes of Dementors, scattering and herding dozens of students across the grounds.
Unnoticed to Jenna, Izzy fell silent when his Mistress finally noticed the danger he had been trying to warn her about all day.
Jenna choked on a scream as her eye fell on the Quidditch pitch were she knew the Gryffindor team had been practicing. "Fred! George!" The pitch was swarming with black figures while desperate figures on brooms tried to get away.
"NO!" Desperation urged her on as she flew to the doors of the Hospital Wing. She had to go out there. To help!
And then she was flat on her back as the Hospital Wing's wards threw her back into the room. Hogwarts had gone into lock-down, sealing the students in if the room they were in was deemed safe. "No!" Jenna scrambled back on her feet and stormed at the invisible wall, pounding helplessly to find a weak spot in the barrier. On the ground Izzy loyally joined her, running with stubborn determination into the ward with all his strength.
Her wand lay forgotten in her holster.
Bashing against the invisible barrier wildly, Jenne didn't notice the voice trying to get her attention.
A pair of arms wrapped around her from behind. "Jenna, dear, calm down!"
"NO!" It was a wild scream, a strangled scream of unrestrained panic. "NO! FRED! GEORGE!"
"You will calm down, young lady!" The tone of voice was so unmistakeably parental that Jenna froze a brief moment in confusion. No-one ever spoke to her like that. The hesitation was enough to break through her panic as the voice continued briskly, "What our b-boys need is a Patronus." A small tremble of emotion finally clued Jenna in to the identity of the speaker.
Molly Weasley, pale but determined, drew her wand and prepared to cast a Patronus. "Now, hurry up and copy what I do. You need to think of a happy moment. Our boys need us."
Yes. The Boys. Save them.
Once again focused, Jenna drew her wand and called upon her magic to cast the strongest patronus of her life. There was no thought to hiding her skills, only to SaveThemSaveThemSaveThem. With a wild wrench of her wand the silver puffin emerged, brighter and bigger than she had ever seen it. It regarded her with huge, intelligent (too intelligent for patronus-not possible- don't care- please save them!) silver eyes and then snapped its gaze towards the battle sounds outside. But it wasn't until the large form had sped through the Castle Walls that Jenna felt her knees threaten to buckle, gasping at the heavy strain on her magic. Too much. What the hell had she cast?
She was blind and deaf to the astonished queries from Molly Weasley and instead clawed at the rough stones of the wall to keep herself upright as she made her way to the window. The view had only gotten worse during her frantic tries to get out. The grounds were a battlefield, nothing less could describe it. The Dementors swarmed over the grass like grim reapers, alternately chasing students or being chased by the various silver patronusforms and even by Fawkes.
Neither the teachers nor the Dementors seemed to be winning, and the only side losing were the students. The screams were fainter now, the children out of breath, out of energy, out of options. Some of the second-years had made it to the gates and to safety, but there were several bodies, big and small, sprawled on the ground, some with an ominous shadow hanging over them. Kissed.
And through the chaos Jenna tracked her super puffin as it raced towards the Pitch, driving several Dementors away from potential victims as it sped by. Jenna leaned forward holding her breath as the puffin reached the Pitch.
And raced past it. Into the Forbidden Forest.
"No." It wasn't even a whisper. Just a sigh of complete and utter disbelief. Her patronus should have gone to save Fred and George. She had sent it, directed it to save her boys. How dare her magic disobey her like this! "NO!"
In the distance a robed form plummeted from a broom. Even as it fell it was eagerly set upon by several Dementors. Was it Fred? George?
For the first time since she had started her Apprenticeship, Jenna felt truly helpless. She couldn't go out, she had depleted her magic too much to cast anything anymore (and even then, would her magic listen?), she couldn't help her boys. She couldn't help them. She would lose them. Her life would go back to empty obedience. Alone.
She didn't even notice as a patronus lion jumped past her through the wall, didn't notice that she was joined by another in her burning desire to save the boys. Her eyes stared blindly ahead at the Pitch even as two plump arms carefully embraced her.
Jenna moaned low in her throat.
"I know, dear."
"They're out there." Jenna wasn't aware of speaking, but something in her warmed as she slowly recognised that she wasn't alone. That there was somebody here was just as desperate for the safe return of Fred and George, and of whoever else was out there.
"And we can't help them." There were arms around her, Jenna realised. They tightened even as the hoarse voice spoke her worst fears.
"I want them back."
This time Jenna felt the person behind her swallow harshly. "So do I."
And for the first time in years, desperate for comfort, Jenna relaxed in the consoling hold of an adult and let her guard down. With a sob, Jenna turned away from the window, burying her face in the woman's neck. Her link to the boys."I c-can't .."
"We'll ask Merlin for strength. For them."
Molly Weasley's arms around her were warm and strong and safe and together they huddled as the battle raged. And they preyed to whoever would listen.
It took forever for the screams to change.
Molly was the first to notice and after a glance out the window she turned Jenna around. "Look!"
It was an incredible sight, never seen before in Wizarding History. Dozens and dozens of Centaurs had left the Forbidden Forest and were shooting sparkling silver arrows at the Dementors, steadily driving them away from the grounds.
Centaurs aiding, saving wizards and witches.
And leading the way was a magnificent silver puffin.
The moment the alarm wards were down, the Hospital Wing became a hive of activity. The students and teachers requiring immediate attention were brought in and seen to by Madame Pomphrey and several Emergency Healers flooed in from St Mungo's. Some were healed with a quick potion or healing charm and then sent to the Great Hall where the uninjured part of the school was taking part in a a chocolate meal capped off with chocolate milk and chocolate cake to drive off the chill of the Dementors. Several patients were too critically injured however, and were either sent to St Mungo's or assigned a personal Healer in a private room. Those who had been Kissed were laid to bed in the back of the Hospital Wing. There was nothing to be done for them anymore, so the living took precedent.
Jenna had been bustled out unceremoniously, sent to the Great Hall. The Medi-Witch had no patience for a panicked student wishing to find her boyfriends and her blistering comments had sent Jenna scurrying into hallways. Molly Weasley had been kept behind since she had been trained as an assistant Medi-Witch, so Jenna made her way to the Great Hall alone.
It wouldn't have been a problem if she hadn't been on the verge of magical exhaustion.
Halfway to the Great Hall she simply couldn't go on anymore. While the school screamed and ran and cried around her, this student collapsed in a random hallway, a depressed little ball of fur huddled on her head.
Albus Dumbledore had never felt so old. He stood surrounded by his injured children and staff, his lost children and staff. Some would never wake up again. Others would lose parts of themselves. And every single child in his care had lost its innocence. Every child had felt the chill of the Dementors, had heard the screams of their dying peers and teachers. Every child had felt the terror no child should ever have to face.
Two teachers had lost their souls as they battled for the lives of their students, Madame Hooch and Professor Sinistra. Eight students, some as young as fourteen, were lost as well. As he looked down at their pale, lax faces Albus couldn't help but compare them to just this morning. The three Huffelpuff Chasers had looked mischievous, in hindsight they had probably been excited by their plans to skip their lessons to spy on the Gryffindor Quidditch practice. They had hidden themselves well. No teacher had seen them to offer aid.
The Dementors had found them easily however.
The two Ravenclaws second years were the hardest to look at. So young. They hadn't made it back alive from their lesson Herbology. Professor Sprout had tried her hardest, but she hadn't been able to protect all 34 of the children in her class, especially when they started running around in a panic.
One Slytherin. Albus felt a wave of shame as he recalled his initial surprise over a Slytherin victim. He knew he was guilty of stereotyping the Snake House sometimes, simply because of Tom's strong connection to the house. However, it was undeniably suspicious that the attack had taken place during a Gryffindor Quidditch practice, a Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff Herbology lesson and a Gryffindor/Ravenclaw Care of Magical Creatures lesson. No Slytherin should have been outside.
Rose Zeller would never be able to explain what she had been doing by the lake when she should have been in Transfiguration.
The last two beds. Two lions. Lee Jordan and Katie Bell. They had fought hard. Fought bravely. And had gone down roaring to defend the fourth year COMC class, saving them all.
Albus shook his head in grief. So many lost. So many still fighting for their lives. This should not have happened. How could you, Tom?
In one of the side rooms of the Hospital Wing James Potter sat anxiously gripping his wife's hand, awaiting the Healer's verdict. "Well?"
The grey-haired man shook his head with a frown. "He was not Kissed, Mr Potter. That much I can tell you. However, it seems the effect the Dementors had a much stronger effect on him than several of his peers." The man pursed his lips in though. "Though I suppose that is not that surprising when one considers what he has gone through. The worst memory of the Boy-Who-Lived is sure to be more unpleasant than the worst memory of any other adolescent."
The anxious parents nodded in understanding, still waiting desperately for some good news.
"From what I understand from eye-witnesses young Mr Potter fell unconscious shortly after the arrival of the Dementors and subsequently went into convulsions. Nobody has been able to rouse him since." The man ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "And I do not feel I am able to help you any further. He needs a mind Healer, a strong mind Healer that can get through the root of the problem. It is not a physical problem-"
"What about magical?" Lily Potter interrupted. "Can it be magical? That would make sense, wouldn't it? I mean, my son is very strong mentally. He has never given any indication he was so troubled by his early memories. It makes much more sense he tried something to save his friends which backfired on him magically!"
The Healer was professional enough to refrain from glaring at the interruption, but the idea had merit. Turning back to the patient he cast a largely unused Healer's charm to trace any kind of magical problem in the boy.
The results made him whirl around in a fury.
"How could you let your son walk around all those years with a broken bond!"
At seeing the two uncomprehending faces the Healer exploded. "Are you truly telling me you had no idea your son has suffered from a severed twin bond for most of his life?"
"Twin bond?" James murmured in doubt. Turning to the Healer he tried to explain, "Our son has a twin, but he and his sister don't have a twin bond. They've never seen eye to eye on anything, really. It can't be that.."
"No twin bond?" The Healer roared. "There is always a twin bond! Twins are two halves of one soul. Always! And your son has suffered without the other half of his soul for his entire life." He gestured angrily at the comatose boy. "And you are surprised the memory was too much for him? It is a testament to his strength he has been able to survive this far at all!"
"But he hates her," Lily put in earnestly.
"Of course he does!" The Healer sat down heavily in his chair, his anger spent and weariness at the hopeless situation beginning to set in. "Of course he hates her. Her absence hurts him, beyond anything he can rationally understand. How can you not hate that which causes you the most unbearable pain?"
"She hurts him?" James frowned, growing angry in turn.
The Healer looked up at the tone, studied the parents in front of him, and felt his eyes growing wide in understanding. "Mr and Mrs Potter, permission to scan you for broken bonds?"
At the two uncomprehending nods he cast his scan twice more, comfirming his suspicions.
"Mr and Mrs Potter," the Healer ran a hand over his face in weariness. "Pardon my bluntness, but I truly need your complete honesty on this part. When did you start resenting your daughter?"
The question was so unexpected and so frank that the Potters were too stunned to react in anger.
"The reason I ask," the Healer went on, "is because whatever happened to sever your children's twin bond coincided with a severing of the parental bond. You as adults, however, should have been able to deal with the unexpected loss much more easily, which should have allowed you to treat your daughter much less harshly than I'm sure your son has done."
A cold chill ran up the Healer's back as the parents had a silent conversation with their eyes, but he carried on without mentioning it. Whatever they had done to their daughter, it was sure to have been unpleasant. However, the son's case took precedent at the moment.
"Typically in broken familial bonds it concerns a deceased child. The twin who is left behind suffers and usually becomes aggressive towards the memory of the deceased until finally all anger is burnt out and the memory of the other is slowly forgotten. There have also been cases of a broken bond following a near-fatal experience. The injured child will not notice the shredded connections much initially, but as the behaviour of once beloved family members changes so will this child. His twin will express either the same aggressive behaviour as in the first case or complete antipathy towards the sibling. The result is the same, however. In the end the child with the severed bond will lose all memory of ever having had a twin. He or she will, however, spend the rest of their life restless, searching for something they will never find."
All three adults looked at the drawn, young face on the bed, envisioning his future.
"Add a traumatic experience such as this Dementor attack, where the child is forced to relive the breaking of the bond, and..." The Healer held up his hands helplessly. "I don't know if we can reach him anymore."
"What..." James licked his lips, a faint hint of guilt in his eyes, "What if we get his twin to come by?"
The Healer had already started shaking his head before the father had finished speaking. "With the advanced stage of your son's condition, it is likely he has already started losing his memories of her. At first merely moments of confusion, eventually he won't even remember her existence. At this point it wouldn't surprise me if he no longer recognises her as family." With only a slight accusation in his tone he continued, "If none of you recognise her as family anymore, or indeed she you." He saw the comment hit home.
"Most likely your son's (and yours, the Healer would have liked to add) aggression towards her has sparked in her either reciprocating aggression or, more likely, deep fear. Bringing her in at this point would serve no goal but to strain the situation even more. My advice would be to see if you can find a Healer specialised in Bonds to bring your son out of the coma. Then forget you ever had a daughter and let your children find as much peace as they will ever have."
With this bleak prospect he left the room, first to inform the school Headmaster of the happenings and then to go home and hug his own little daughter. He needed the comfort.
END CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE
Dear all. Yes, I know. It took forever again, right? And I haven't even re-read or checked this chapter so there might be a lot of mistakes or inconsistencies. But at least you know what happened after the cliff-hanger, so that's something. I've got the rest all planned out, but I'm finding it very difficult to sit down and get my ideas on paper (or screen really) when I've finally reached the summer holidays and the sun is FINALLY here. But for you, I'll try.
Thank you to all reviewers. I enjoy your encouraging words and laugh very loudly at some of the more artistic ones (never had somebody chide me/beg for more chapters in rhyme before! ha!). So thanks!
I can promise nothing but the fact that I will one day finish it. Don't know when (I'll try to make it soon, but then I always try that) but it will not remain a WIP forever.