Summary: Harry's life changed permanently after collapsing in a duel with Malfoy. He's been diagnosed with a heart murmur and will take a long time to recover. But now he's got a family to share the burden with.

Rating: PG

Warnings: None so far

Disclaimer: Only Caitlyn and her BF belong to me. The rest are canon characters and therefore are the property solely of the wonderful JKR.

Author's Notes: I had the idea for the prequel first, but this is the closer to getting posted. It doesn't really matter which way round you read them. The prequel is called "Tomato Sandwiches" and is an ADMM romance panning several years.
I'm not the greatest medic around. In fact my only knowledge of heart conditions at the mo are from various fiction books and one episode of House M.D. I plan to research as I go along and possibly get a beta from the fanfic med Yahoo group. My mum's a bio scientist but despite liking HP, she thinks I'm a weirdo for being so obsessive. And fanfiction-centred. So I'm not going to ask her.

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Where the Heart is

By Alexannah

Chapter One

"Wonder what Potter's written in this?" Malfoy said gleefully before noticing the date. "Wonder what he's doing with a fifty-year-old diary?"

"Give it here!" Harry said angrily. "Expelliarmus!"

Percy scolded him but no-one heard – Malfoy had ducked the curse and pulled his own wand.

"Locomotor Mortis!"

"Petrificus Totalus!"

"Impetis viscus!"

Harry moaned softly. Where was he? He tried to squint but it just hurt his eyes – besides, all he could see was white.

Someone was walking round him. He tried again. This time he got a glimpse of a slim figure in pale green before he had to shut his eyes again.

"Harry?" a gentle voice said. Female. Unfamiliar. He tried a third time. This time he was successful.

A young woman – thirty? Twenty-five? – stood beside him. She had auburn hair pulled in a low bun and glasses and was wearing some kind of uniform with two wands crossed on the front. She reminded Harry of someone but he couldn't think who.

"Um," he said by way of a reply.

She smiled. "I'm Healer Brian. How are you feeling?"

"Er … fine." At her raised eyebrow he added, "Just a bit tired. Where am I?"

"St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries." Harry jumped and turned his head to see Professor McGonagall sitting on a chair beside him.

"Hey, that's my line," the younger woman said.

Suddenly Harry realised who she reminded him of.

"Not when it's one of my students."

"Fine." Healer Brian winked at Harry and pulled off her coat. "I'm off duty now anyway. See you later, Harry."

"Oh. Bye."

As she walked away, Harry turned back to Professor McGonagall. "What am I doing here, Professor?"

"What do you remember?" she asked.

"Uh …" Harry thought. "Not much. It's a bit fuzzy."

"Draco Malfoy started a duel with you in the corridor."

"Oh yeah, I remember that bit. Then what?"

Professor McGonagall rubbed her eyes behind her glasses. She looked as tired as Harry felt. "He cast a curse – an illegal one. He's being expelled now."

Harry's eyes widened. "An illegal spell? Expelled? What illegal spell?"

"A pain curse. One that attacks the heart."

"Oh."

"Yours gave out and you collapsed. Your friends attempted to revive you while a first-year fetched help. You were brought here and Mr Malfoy is only escaping Azkaban by the fact that he's a minor."

Harry gulped. Professor McGonagall seemed to be wanting him to say something, but he wasn't sure what she was waiting for. In the end he said, "Um, where are my friends?"

"They had to go back to the school when we found out you were going to be – all right." Harry noticed the hesitation. "But the headmaster and I have been escorting them backwards and forwards here in the evenings. They've been very worried."

"How long have I been in here?" Harry asked, startled.

"Just over a week."

At least he'd missed the rest of Valentine's Day. Harry looked to his right. There were piles of flowers and get well cards round the ward. One of them was puce pink with flashing gold letters which Harry was sure was from Gilderoy Lockhart and planned to throw in the bin the moment he was allowed out of bed.

Professor McGonagall sighed again, apparently having given up on the hope that Harry was ask whatever is was she wanted him to ask. "Harry."

"Yes, Professor?" he replied innocently (for once).

"You … well … you haven't asked about long-term effects," she said in a rush. Harry blinked.

"Long-term effects?"

She nodded. "Harry, you're not going to recover immediately. The chances are you won't properly for a long time." Harry swallowed. "Normally the curse Mr Malfoy used wouldn't affect a person so, but according to the Healers it seems that … well, that your heart was, and is, weaker than it should be. It's possible you strained it in a traumatic event when you were younger."

Harry stared at her. Any particular traumatic event? Practically all his time with the Dursleys could be considered traumatic. Or was she thinking before than, when Voldemort killed his parents?

"The fact is, Harry, that that combined with the curse means that you're going to need to be careful, build up your strength again over time. It's going to change your life," she said sadly, watching him for his reaction.

For a moment Harry was quiet. Finally he said, "Is a Healer like the wizard equivalent to a doctor?"

Professor McGonagall nodded. "Caitlyn – Healer Brian – recommends that you go home once the hospital releases you. Not permanently," she added quickly, seeing his alarm, "until you get used to the medical programme."

Harry shook his head. "No way, not with the Dursleys."

"I had a feeling you were going to say that." Harry wondered how. Dumbledore had obviously told her he'd asked to stay at Hogwarts last summer. "I'll talk with the headmaster, see what we can arrange."

"Thanks, Professor," Harry said quietly.

TBC …

AN: If I am outrageously off about something, just assume it's different for wizards. That's how I get away with my lack of proper medical knowledge in the HP fandom. Sorry the chapter's so short, the next will be longer. Promise.