Well, look at what I found! I suppose I should thank both the television (Chamber of Secrets was on TV tonight) and my flatmates (my boyfriend and one of my best friends) for encouraging me to get on with this. The past year's been pretty close to hell, but now I've got a bit of time.
Ten minutes later, after Mona had removed the enchantments from around the Riddle House, all the Aurors had assembled outside (along with the magically captured and restrained Dolohov, who was only half-conscious). They were awaiting a team of Ministry Hit Wizards, who would transfer Dolohov to a maximum-security cell in Azkaban, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Williamson and Nola, along with Harry (who personally thought he wasn't much help), had come to the conclusion that the spell of Harry's that had defeated Dolohov was either a very strong stunner, or from a family of immobilising or sleep spells. Harry couldn't remember what spell it even was; he could only half remember casting it. This scared him more than he cared to admit – and something told him he should be glad he hadn't accidentally used an Unforgivable. Either way, it didn't matter now. Dolohov was currently under a charm of Williamson's that made him sleepy and disorientated. It was, Harry was told, a standard Auror-use spell he'd be taught at a later date.
On the subject of spells, Harry had sat down as soon as he was able to. He was sitting on the steps of the Riddle house, leaning on one of the pillars that framed the covered entrance, and trying to lessen the throbbing pain in his head and body. Mona, being the one with the most magical medical knowledge, had briefly checked him over when he had come out (half-leaning on Nova). She hadn't been able to identify the spell from his description, but had offered to take him to St Mungo's after Dolohov had been taken care of.
At first, Harry had hesitated – honestly, how many time had he been injured in his life, how many nights had he spend in the hospital wing? – he didn't want to cause trouble or cause for worry, but Williamson had stepped in and told him to go.
"You've got to get yourself checked," he had said. "Especially if Mona can't identify it…and Mark's not here, as he's the other one who could probably help. That spell could have done anything to you."
So Harry had conceded, and was now awaiting the arrival of the Hit Wizards so he could get to St Mungo's and get back to the offices, where he could probably get away with doing almost nothing. That, or be sent back to the Burrow, which was preferable.
There was a movement on the other of the graveyard, near the cover of the trees. Harry looked up, and saw a group of Wizards approaching them through the tombstones. They were all in identical dark blue robes, and at their head was Kingsley Shacklebolt and some of his underlings from the Ministry.
He greeted them all formally, and congratulated them on their capture. As Dolohov was handed over to the team of Hit Wizards in his enchanted state (although Williamson would travel with the entourage, as was protocol), Kingsley came closer to the other three Aurors, his own entourage in his wake. "Alright?"
Mona nodded. "Fine, Minister. This one," she clapped a hand on Harry's shoulder, who winced. "Oh, sorry Harry – this one needs a quick check at St Mungo's."
Kingsley gave Harry a fleeting wink, unseen by the other Ministry officials. "Should've known you would be the one who needed the Healers."
Harry ginned despite the pain he felt. "Dolohov hit me with a cruse of some kind – Merlin knows what, but it hurt like hell and threw me back hard. Williamson said I should get checked out, just in case."
Kingsley nodded. "And right he is."
Mona, who had been watching over the progress of Williamson and the Hit Wizards over Kingsley's shoulder, nodded slightly as Williamson flashed her a thumbs up. "Looks like they're ready to leave, Minister. With your permission, we'll go to St Mungo's now."
"Of course." Knigsley inclined his head. "I shall get back to the Ministry and inform the Prophet of this latest development." With another smile, he was gone, walking back to the small clump of trees to Dissaparate along with his retinue. The group with Dolohov had already gone.
"How will they transfer Dolohov to Azkaban?" Harry asked the two remaining Aurors.
"A form of Side-Along Apparation, and then by broom," Nola replied. "Azkaban's in the North Sea, and warded against Apparation and just about everything else. I think it's got one fire connected to the Floo network, but that's only for high-ranking Ministry officials to use, so none of the prisoners know where it is anyway." She checked her watch. "I'll get back to the Office, tell Robards what happened, etcetera." With a wave she Disapparated.
"Right," Mona said, suddenly looking very Molly Weasley-ish, even with only one eye, "St Mungo's. Apparation's the best, if you can handle it?"
"Yeah," Harry muttered in reply, as she took his hand. "Yeah – where exactly are we going?"
"Don't worry about that, we'll do Side-Along."
The Purge and Dowse Limited building was still as run down and old as Harry remembered from the last time he had been here, giving no clue away as to what was really going on inside: St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. That visit had been three years ago, when Harry was half-way through his fifth year – and had seen Arthur Weasley being attacked by Voldemort's snake, Nagini. Arthur had been in St Mungo's for a while, recovering…
Harry suppressed a shiver. Seeing the snake attack had been because of the link he shared with Voldemort, and even with Voldemort gone Harry couldn't help but compare the experiences to the strange dreams he was having now…
Mona walked up close to the glass and muttered to the ugly dummy inside. "Auror Freeman bringing Auror Potter for Healer consultation."
The dummy gave a tiny nod and beckoned them inside. Through the wall, the waiting room was as crowded as ever. There were two wizards who appeared to be stuck – literally – at the shoulder, one woman whose purple-fur covered hand was skittering everywhere like a frightened animal, and a little boy whose skin seemed to be changing colour every minute. One young lady was squawking at her partner, who was trying not to laugh at her, and behind them a normal looking young man was hovering a few inches above his seat.
Harry tore his eyes from the numerous and interesting conditions of those waiting, as Mona grasped his arm and led him past the Welcomewitch. She looked up as they went past without speaking to her, saw who it was and evidently recognised Mona, for she grinned and gave Mona a wave.
"If there's one group of people you get to know quickly in our line of work," Mona said as they passed through the double doors and into a lift, "it's the St Mungo's staff. They know everyone in the department by name."
They took the lift up to the fourth floor, which was the level for Spell Damage. Mona seemed to know exactly where she was going, for she led him down the corridor and past the Janus Thickley ward. Harry looked through the locked doors as he passed, catching sight of a flash of blonde – Gilderoy Lockhart was still a patient, then. His gaze was also drawn to the back corner and two beds whose inhabitants seemed to be staring at the ceiling.
The Longbottoms…Frank and Alice. Harry felt remorse stab him and they kept walking. Neville…where was he now? He was going to do something with plants and Herbology…Harry made a mental note to owl him and see how he was. And Luna too, for that matter. She had gone travelling, Harry thought. So many people that he wanted to catch up with, now that he was never going to see them daily at school…
Mona led him into a small office with a single bed and some instruments that looked as if they had come straight from Dumbledore's office. Leaning against the bed was an older man, fiddling with the cuff of his lime-green Healer's robes.
"Ah, Mona. Received word you were on you way up." His eyes fell onto Harry. "And who is…Merlin's beard. Nice to meet you, Mr. Potter. I am Healer Dentin." He shook Harry's hand.
"Harry's our newest recruit in the Office," Mona explained. "We were out this morning tracking and capturing Antonin Dolohov, and he was hit by an unknown curse in the fight. I thought it would be best if he was checked out, just in case."
"A wise decision," Dentin nodded. He stood away from the bed and looked at Harry closely. "There's no change to the tone or look of his skin, and he's standing. What colour was it, and what did it do?"
Harry thought back. "Light blue, I think. And it was like an electric shock – sharp pain. It threw me back and knocked me out for a moment. I'm aching all over now."
Dentin looked thoughtful. "I'd say Bombarda Maxima – but your ribs would be broken if that were the case." He lifted his wand and Harry felt something settle over him. "No, there's no lasting magical damage. It was probably something from the Bombarda family – blasting spells. You're bruised, Harry, but that's all. Rest and lots of it is what you need. Oh, and this." He turned to a cabinet and withdrew a small bottle of dark orange liquid. "Take a mouthful of this three times a day until it's gone. It'll speed up the healing process: as the bruises are inflicted by Dark magic, they'll have to heal on their own."
Harry nodded. "Thanks."
Twenty minutes later, Harry was climbing out of the fireplace in the Weasley's kitchen. Mona had sent him home early, along with the promise to owl Arthur and the command to rest for a few days, and to head back into the Ministry when he felt better. They had returned to the Ministry for Harry to pick up his gear (and be given a book to skim over by Williamson) before Harry had gone down to the public Floo grates and travelled back to the comfortable familiarity of the Burrow.
Molly was there to meet him, as he had sent an owl to her from the Offices to warn of his unexpected arrival back so early. She gave him a hug (not too tightly, as Harry had briefly explained why he was back in the note) before scrutinising him at arm's length. "So what have you been getting yourself into now?"
Harry laughed. "The usual, Mrs. Weasley. I'm a magnet for trouble."
She smiled at him, but there was concern in her eyes. "Harry, dear, how many time do I have to ask you? Call me Molly. Now come sit down and tell me everything."
"Where are the girls?" Harry asked as he sat down at the kitchen table and Molly brought him over some freshly made bread. Molly flicked her eyes up to the curious clock the Weasley's owned. Ginny's hand was on 'travelling'.
"Out for a walk, but they should be back soon."
Sure enough, Harry had almost finished eating when he heard the gate open and close, and after a moment Hermione and Ginny appeared in the kitchen doorway. After asking what Harry was doing back and sitting down curiously to hear the answer, Harry told them the full story of what had happened earlier that day.
The three females reacted in different ways. Molly was constantly horrified and continuously made disapproving noises, Hermione was torn between intrigue and disgust for Dolohov, and Ginny was totally enthralled, hanging on his every word. When he mentioned being hit by Dolohov's curse, all three immediately asked if he was all right simultaneously. Harry had to pause in his story to keep himself from laughing.
When he finished his story, Molly sighed. "I know you're of age and an adult," she said, with a bitter edge to her voice, "but that still doesn't make me feel any better about you going off and running into danger every day…"
Harry almost laughed again. He'd been in more trouble than Molly would ever know, and saved the wizarding world, but she was still worried about him. On reflection for a moment he supposed she always would be: he and Hermione were basically adoptive children of hers. And it made him feel loved, if he was to be honest with himself.
Ginny put a hand lightly on Harry's shoulder. "Always saving the world."
He was standing before a dark house. The door was locked; no matter. A simple spell would do away with that little obstacle. Stepping over the threshold into a darkened hallway, he could see little. Relics of times past, neatly stored on their respective shelves and not a speck of dust on any. Cleaned by magic.
A voice – thin and wheezy yet strong, from the next room. A wand in the hand of an old wizard. Long, silver wispy hair and a beard. His heart stops for a moment, surprise, rather than terror, threatening to take over. Dumbledore? No, for as the wizard moves forward, he sees it is not Dumbledore, but the dead wizard's friend: Doge…Elphias Doge. He is peering into the darkness, trying to figure out his mysterious guest.
"Reveal yourself!" Elphias commands. In the hallways he stays silent, raising his own wand to curse this pathetic relic who was once a wizard…
…but Elphias is fast. Seeing the movement, he retaliates at such a speed one would not have thought capable for one that age. The spell misses him by inches, but he feels it skim his arm…he casts in retaliation and Elphias yells as the spell hits: he staggers back, off balance, and falls.
Keeping to the shadows and darkness in the house, he moves slowly to his victim and reaches down to finish him off…Elphias puts his hands up to grab his attacker's wrist and his hands are bleeding – the old, frail skin cut by his fall…they struggle and there is a call from above.
"Elphias? Are you alright?"
Another one in the house…he flees, not ready to take on two at once. He is not strong enough….
…not yet, not strong enough yet…
With a strangled gasp, Harry sat upright in bed, the dream – the nightmare – already fading. What was that? That was…mental. He tried to recall it, but the images were already blurring together. A house…and Dumbledore? Maybe.
Harry lifted a hand to press against his eyes. Madness, that's what these dreams were. Madness and stress…hand halfway to his face, Harry stopped still.
There was blood on his hands.
Red and shining – still wet. His? Carefully, Harry got out of bed and checked his face and body in the mirror. No, no visible injuries. There was what looked like a burn on one arm…but that wasn't bleeding. Trying to calm his rapidly beating heart, Harry slipped out his open door and quietly down to the bathroom, to wash it off.
Sitting back on his bed, hands now clean, Harry tried to work it out. Whose was it…where had it come from…and why, oh why was he feeling so sick about all this? Could it have just been a trick of the light…even in his mind, that sounded stupid. It was someone's. Not his…no, no that was stupid. How could it be someone else's if he hadn't left his room? Perhaps it had been a sudden nose-bleed, or biting his lip or something? Surely that was a more logical answer.
Harry was unaware of falling asleep again, but before he knew it there was sunlight streaming into his room. Knowing the answers he sought would be in the Daily Prophet, Harry went downstairs with a heavy heart.
I wrote this a while ago, I'd forgotten how mean I was being to poor Harry. Oh well, onwards and upwards! Reviews are appreciated.