This is my very first attempt at Harry Potter fanfiction. Many thanks to rabbit for her beta-advice.

Spoilers for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling's characters don't belong to me, and I make no profit from playing in her magical world.


The Healer's Heart

Quidditch. Again. It wasn't as if students didn't get carried, helped, or levitated in to see her often enough without that wretched game doing its part to fill her beds with injured. Not that she didn't enjoy the odd jaunt on a broomstick herself, but at reasonable speeds, and without one of those dreadful bludgers bearing down on her. And not, she supposed, that the students didn't receive their share of scrapes and injuries on the ground. Between magical creatures that bit and spat and scratched, a jinx gone haywire (or deliberately sent, which was worse), children being poisoned, or cursed, who'd believe such a thing, not to mention dementors, which should never have been let anywhere near a school…

Poppy Pomfrey was angry, but a lifetime's practice of keeping her emotions in check was not to be denied. A lifetime of tending and healing, never showing fear in front of her patients, or a lack of confidence, or any favoritism... not even to this one, who held a special place in her heart.

A cracked skull. And what if they had brought him in a few minutes later than they did? The boy nearly died, not that she'd ever let him know. There was so much he might never know, this orphaned one, this brave, strong, yet terribly fragile soul. She could shield him for only a brief day and night, and then it would be back to class, away from the safety and relative peace of the hospital wing.

"You're going to be fine," she murmured, knowing Harry couldn't hear her. She lay a gentle hand on the unconscious boy's forehead, over the scar that no skill of hers could ever heal. He wasn't fevered, the bones were mending quickly beneath the bandages, and he'd be kept asleep until the blinding pain was naught but a bothersome ache. It was all she could do, it was all she could ever do for her children, all these lovely boys and girls forced to grow up fast, oh so very much faster than they should.

She could hear them murmuring fretfully, all the friends she had sent out into the hall while she tended to Harry and made him comfortable. Madam Pomfrey rose to her feet, any trace of tender emotion concealed, once again, beneath the professional face she wore nearly every minute of every day. It was easier this way – for her, and for the youngsters entrusted to her care. This was her job. She did it well, and always would, as long as she was needed.