AN: This has now been confirmed a HPxLOTR crossover. The first chapter here is a sort of prologue and does not yet have anything to do with the LOTR -verse, so hopefully you'll continue to read to the next chapter.
Summary: Harry was always a sickly child, but it all came crashing down with one word: Leukemia. Trapped inside a hospital since his 14th birthday, one night and one charm would change it all...
Warnings: AU, Mature content and Slash in the future. Prologue-ish.
Disclaimer: If I owned it, Harry would be with Luna and Ginny choked on popcorn in her first year.
Memory of Tomorrow
It is a firm belief of mine that hospital walls are always white because it's the easiest colour to obtain and paint over when "accidents" happen. I've only ever seen the insides of two hospitals in my life, but I've spent so much time in them that I feel like I've lived through several lifetimes of endless white walls. It feels like I've seen the insides of countless hospitals, all filled with the colour white, oppressive atmosphere and the biting smell of disinfectant.
In the very beginning I still had hope. I didn't know what giving up was, then. I had no idea what death really felt like. When they brought me to the hospital on my thirteenth birthday, I thought it'd be just more of the usual, nothing to worry about. I had always been a sickly child with poor constitution, getting ill easily and spending a lot of my time in bed rest, reading books or listening to my mother's voice as she read them to me. But this time it was different.
When the healer heard of my symptoms, he insisted on various tests, including several tubes filled with my blood. While waiting for the results, I spent the time counting the familiar cracks in the stone walls. I was on the one thousand and one hundred thirty fifth crack, shaped slightly like the tree in our home yard when the healer came back, looking grim.
"Leukemia", he said.
I didn't yet understand, then, what kind of a disease it was. I thought I'd get over it in a few weeks, just like the usual flu or fever. Reality is a cruel thing. I did get to go home for a while, but it became clear soon that you didn't get over leukemia in a few weeks. Not even a few months. It could take years, decades. There was no magical cure for leukemia. When I was fourteen, I was moved indefinitely to St. Mungo's. The medication wasn't working as it was supposed to, they said. More tests were done, including a painful extraction of a piece from my spinal marrow. The thing hurt more than the actual disease or the bruises I had. They said they'd have to take more of the pieces with time.
While going through the endless flow of new test results and medication, I had a lot of time to spend doing nothing. I turned to books in my quest for conquering the boredom. When looking through a thesaurus, I found the definition of my disease. The book called it a blood cancer - my illness finally had a name I could understand, instead of some foreign medical term that meant nothing. The book told me my white blood cells had gotten out of hand and my red blood cells were dying out. I remembered my doctor calling the disease ALL - "acute lymphoblastic leukemia", the thesaurus explained. It was a fast progressing form of leukemia that lead to death unless discovered early enough.
Strange as it was, knowing what my disease was and what it caused didn't make me feel nervous or scared. I was still blind to reality - It was me, how could I die? I had so much left to see, so much left to do and experience - the World was here for me, I wasn't here for it. If I disappeared, how could the World go on existing?
With the pass of time and continuously changing healers, I slowly started to understand. Staring at the same white wall and the same small cracks in it, I had plenty of time for thinking. The World had been here before I was born. It could go on without me. In my lifetime, there hadn't been a moment without the World, but in the life span of the World my miserable existence - whether 20 or 100 years - was the blink of a blink of an eye.
At times I had to spend weeks in the isolation ward when my immunity system wasn't working well enough. The stronger and stronger medicine brought stronger and stronger side effects. After only two months since the beginning of the treatments, long strands of my hair began to fall out. When I realized there would be no end to it, and the bald spots would just grow bigger, I gave in and let the nurses shave my head. I took to wearing a hat to cover the loss of my long hair. It had been my pride and a bond between my mother and I. She often spent several minutes each night combing my hair for me, telling me stories of her day in her soft voice. All that was now gone.
At times I felt so cold I shivered from the temperature only I seemed to notice, at others I was so hot I feared I'd sweat off my skin. I had good days and bad ones. Sometimes I could hardly stay awake but couldn't sleep for the intense feeling off illness. Sometimes I felt so good I wanted nothing more than to go out for a walk and climb some trees.
For two long years I hadn't stepped outside the hospital. When I was well enough, the nurses or my brother would take me to the roof to enjoy some fresh air and feel the wind. Two long years I had spent, watching the change of the seasons through my window, desperately clinging to the pieces of conversation I could hear through the crack of the window on those days I was allowed to keep it open. Two years spent dreaming of the world outside, dreams that left me with nothing but despair and an overpowering feeling of bitter derision. Most of the time I just wanted to give up, give in. The actual treatment was worse than the disease - the rare days when I didn't have to take my medication, I felt better than the best of the days during my treatment. I often thought the treatments would kill me before the actual illness did.
My mother and siblings, a younger brother and sister, came to see me everyday. My father had time for visiting roughly once a month. My mother told me father was busy trying to make enough money for my treatments every time she came. I wasn't sure who she was trying to convince more, me or herself. True, my care was expensive, but my father made enough to support the whole Ministry, let alone the treatments of one sick child.
My friends from Hogwarts used to visit often in the beginning, but their visits got less and less frequent as time passed and I wasn't released. In the last few months, only my old best friend, Hermione came to see me spontaneously, sometimes once a week, at others once a month. Her visits were nice but I couldn't help feeling self conscious. The heavy air made her visitations short and uncomfortable, and I couldn't help but feel envious of how healthy and happy she seemed. I was jealous, and I hated myself for it.
The day it all began, I was sitting and watching the wind play with the leaves from one of the big maple trees at the front yard of the hospital, as usual. It was winter, but the weather had been surprisingly calm this year, and the leaves were still slowly falling out as the air got colder and crisper. The air inside the hospital, however, was stale as always. I was feeling oddly disconnected. The calendar told me it was my mother's birthday and, consequently, the Christmas Day. The hospital had held its annual Christmas celebration yesterday, and I had received some painting supplies and a sketchbook from my family. One of the nurses - I still couldn't remember her name - had given me a bar of chocolate with the advice of eating it slowly and in parts, when I felt up for it. I didn't have much of an appetite these days, but I thanked her nevertheless. She was quite nice and I had gotten used to her. Unlike the other nurses, she didn't see the need for endless chatter or nervous twittering, which made for a comfortable atmosphere. I had heard some nurses talking about me in the break room, complaining how I unsettled them. Apparently I was too quiet. They thought I appeared emotionless and cold, and had trouble acting cheerful in my presence. And even so, every nurse that entered my room was always full of cheer and goodwill of the holier-than-thou kind. It made me feel disgusted.
The ways to spend time were limited when contained in a small hospital. I mostly sat and read, or sketched something in my sketchbook. It was filled with a thousand views of the same scenery visible from my window, or that of my room in the isolation ward. Since my medication was lighter and my immunity system was working better again, I was allowed to reside in the normal part of the hospital. The light knock came when I was finishing the sketch of an imaginary flower pot on the window sill.
"How are you feeling today?" asked my mother upon entering the room. She was followed by my younger brother Charlus, with a strange back-bag in the form of my sister Lilyanne, hanging from his neck like a monkey. I smiled when Charlus grinned at me. Lilyanne just pulled his ear as a sign to get down, and was sitting in my lap almost before her feet touched the floor. Lately there had been more bad days than good, but I was feeling remarkably well on that day and told my mother as much.
"Hermione dropped by earlier and wished us a merry Christmas. She also brought a book I've been wanting to read for a long while. Did you know the nurses have been planning a New Year's party? We can go to the roof to see the fireworks", I told my mother. That was more words than I had spoken the whole day. I felt like blowing a raspberry at an imaginary nurse. See, I can speak when I want to. And it's not like I felt the need to cheer them up any more than they were already acting.
"Is that so? How nice", mother said as she sat down on the edge of my bed since Charlus had stolen the only chair in the room. I turned to him, with Lilyanne still in my lap, and directed my next question to him.
"You went to that trip to Durmstrang with the team, right? How was it?"
Charlus was into sports and part of Ravenclaw's Quidditch team. The group often travelled around other magical schools for matches and tournaments (apparently in pursuit of intellectual comprehension over the borders), and they had even been to watch official international matches once or twice.
"Snowy, unlike here", Charlus stated. It was true - Scotland had enjoyed a completely bare, snowless Christmas. "I brought you a souvenir."
Charlus dug around his pockets and produced a charm, probably bought from one of the few odd shrines near Durmstrang. I smiled and thanked him, carefully placing the charm between the pages of my sketchbook. Lilyanne puckered her mouth in concentration and dug into her backpack for something, finally letting out an excited cry of success as she pulled out a card. Offering it to me, she beamed showing a hole where a tooth had recently fallen off.
"I brought you a sou-vee-neer too, from school!" she proclaimed proudly. The card was self drawn, on purple cardboard. It was a simple picture of a bright sun and some flowers - not quite in the season, but rather well done for an 8 year old girl.
"It's great", I told her and mussed up her short, red hair fondly. I felt a strange feeling squeezing me uncomfortably, like a too tight shirt. I identified it as longing, and thought of my now gone black, long hair, which only remained in the form of a clump of wisps bound together with an elastic band in the second drawer of the standard hospital desk.
"Father will be home soon so we have to go now", mother announced after performing a quick Tempus charm. She looked at me apologetically. "He said he'd be here tomorrow to see you and he's going to bring you something, so look forward to that, okay, Harry?"
I settled for nodding, uncertain whether to feel happy or uncomfortable. The time spent with my father was always stiff and formal. I often felt I was more of an obligation or duty than a son to him. I knew he was disappointed in me for getting sick with something I couldn't just get over in a few days. I was probably a disappointment already, with my bad constitution so unlike normal, rash boys, before I even got ill.
Mother waved her hand quickly as my family left through the door. I glanced at the clock on the opposite wall, just watching the third hand ticking from line to line for a while. I felt like it was ticking away the seconds of my life and the memories of my past, without mercy or pausing to see if I could keep up. I turned to stare outside.
Ten minutes. The time my family could spend with me on Christmas Day. I was a burden to my relations, an unnecessary reminder of worry and troubled times. I felt like a rock shackled to their ankles, holding them back from living a real life. They didn't deserve it.
Lying down, I tried to catch the ever so elusive sleep that had been evading me lately. When I closed my eyes, I thought I saw something white flashing behind the window - pure, glowing snowflakes. I wondered if I was just imagining them. I felt like I was seeing a memory of a future, where snow was falling behind the window and somebody else was lying in the bed before it. The heavy tendrils of sleep whispered against the edges of my mind and I felt like I was lying inside cold ground instead of my warm bed, trapped inside a narrow, suffocating coffin while someone else was staring into the heavy snowfall where I was supposed to be, unaware and uncaring. The soil was rising around me lightly, like a blanket of feathers, covering me with forgiveness and comfort. I felt peace unlike anything I had ever imagined during those years of pain and uncertainty -
and opened my eyes.
AN: I have no idea when Lily's birthday is in the canon, but I don't really care - it's not all that important.
Anyways, this is no longer a oneshot. I've decided to continue it, and it will be a Slash crossover - and I mean heavy slash, the M kind. It'll cross with Lord of The Rings (I love the book's plot. The writing style, not so much), but I'm not yet sure of the pairing, so I'm open to suggestions there.
I hope the inspiration will continue. The next chapter deviates from the first person perspective used in this Prologueish chapter.
Also, I haven't the slightest whether magical hospitals have nurses or not. In this fic they do~
From now on, I'll strive to make the chapters around 5k words long.
Like always, English isn't my first language, and I don't have a beta. If you spot mistakes, please let me know. And please do leave a review.