Two days before Harry's 11th birthday, Dumbledore stood in front of 4598 Dippett Ave., studying the address with interest. The lawn was perfectly manicured and precise and in the driveway were two vehicles: an older SUV and a van with handicapped stickers on the rear bumper. Walking up to the front door, Dumbledore knocked and waited until a young girl opened the door. She was tall with short, blonde hair and was rather pretty, even though she was missing her left arm about 6 inches above the elbow. "I'm looking for Petunia Evans," Dumbledore said, kindly. "My name is Albus Dumbledore."
"Petunia told me you were coming," the girl said with a smile as she stepped aside to let Dumbledore in. "I'm her stepdaughter, Veronica."
"A pleasure to meet you," Dumbledore replied, shaking hands with the young girl.
"Petunia's in the kitchen," Veronica added, after she closed the front door. Pointing past the hallway, she gave the headmaster a smile before heading upstairs.
Dumbledore watched her go and headed down the hallway, stopping at a photograph caught his eye. Picking up the picture, he stared at the Evans family. Petunia and her new husband stood behind their three children: Veronica standing in the middle with her right arm around the shoulders of a boy with blank eyes and blonde hair and what remained of her left arm resting on the shoulder of a boy with messy black hair, green eyes, glasses, and a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.
But to Dumbledore's astonishment, he saw that Harry was in a wheelchair with some sort of tube protruding from his throat.
"Not the family you thought you were leaving Harry with, is it?" Dumbledore turned, still holding the photograph, to see Petunia coming out of the kitchen. Petunia took the picture from the Hogwarts headmaster and studied it. "This was taken just after Thomas and I got married. We didn't have much of a honeymoon. We just went away for two nights." Setting the picture down, she went on. "I had a home-care nurse come and help take care of Harry. Veronica and Dudley stayed with friends."
"What happened to Harry?" Dumbledore asked, looking at the picture again.
"Vernon, Dudley, Harry, and I were in a car crash," Petunia replied, leading Dumbledore into the kitchen and gesturing for him to have a seat at the table while she finished making tea. "Vernon was killed, I broke my arm, Dudley was blinded and Harry was paralyzed from the neck down."
Dumbledore stiffened, shocked not only by the news but at how calmly Petunia stated the facts. But it wasn't a calm of indifference, but rather Petunia sounded as though it was something she'd had a long time to get used to. When Petunia looked at him, the headmaster figured he should say something, but words failed him at the moment. After a long silence, he said, "This was the situation you referred to in your letter."
Petunia nodded as she poured herself and Dumbledore a cup of tea and she brought the tea tray over to the table and sat down before replying. "In the past year, Harry has regained the use of his arms. But he can't move his legs and he has no sensation below his shoulders. He uses the respirator because he can't breathe on his own."
Dumbledore sipped his tea and asked, "There's nothing more the muggle doctors can do for Harry?"
Petunia shook her head. "No." Giving Dumbledore a look, she asked, "Is there any way to use magic to heal Harry's injuries?"
Dumbledore thought about the question carefully, sipping his tea pensively. "It may be possible," he replied but when he saw the hope in Petunia's eyes, he held up a hand. "But I can offer no guarantees. I can make arrangements for later this afternoon, if you wish."
Petunia thought for a moment then looked at the clock on the wall. "Harry's in physical therapy right now. He should be back by 5."
Dumbledore nodded and stood up. "That should be sufficient. I'll come back then, if that's alright."
Petunia nodded and started a bit when Dumbledore suddenly vanished with a 'crack'. Leaning forward and burying her face in her hands, she thought about what Dumbledore had said. She hoped that something could be done for Harry but keeping in mind Dumbledore's warning, she knew she had to be realistic.
It had been 5 years since the accident and Harry had only recently been able to start using his arms again, a small thing, considering, but to Petunia and Harry it seemed like a triumph of sorts.
When Harry and Tom came home, they were surprised by the tall, thin man standing in the sitting room with Petunia. After a moment, Tom realized who the man must be. "Professor Dumbledore?" He asked, holding out a hand. When the headmaster shook it, Tom added, "Pleasure to meet you, sir. I'm Tom Evans, Petunia's husband." Turning to Harry, he said, "This is Harry Potter."
The first thing Harry liked about Dumbledore was that he didn't look at him with pity. Dumbledore gave him a smile as he stepped forward, holding out a hand.
"It is a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Potter," Dumbledore said, kindly as he shook Harry's hand. Moving his gaze from Harry to Petunia, he went on. "The Rowena Medical Center will be expecting you and Harry at 9 tomorrow morning." Looking at Harry again, he added, "If there is anything that can be done to help your condition, I assure you, it will be done."
Harry didn't say anything for a moment but then he looked from Dumbledore to his aunt. "You mean… I could… get better? Maybe… I could…walk?"
Dumbledore hesitated before answering the question. The last thing he wanted to do was give Harry false hope. "We will do what we can," Dumbledore promised.
Understanding what Dumbledore meant, Harry just replied, "Thank you."
After saying 'good day' to Petunia and Tom, Dumbledore left the house.
Once the headmaster had left, Tom looked at his wife and step-nephew. "Well, shall I start dinner?"
"Thanks, Tom," Petunia replied, watching as Harry followed him into the kitchen and wondering how the young boy's life might change after tomorrow.
The next morning, Petunia, Harry, and Veronica got in the van and headed to the address Dumbledore had given them while Tom and Dudley headed out to the park for the day.
Once at the hospital, Petunia instructed Veronica and Harry to wait while she spoke to a nurse at the front desk. Looking at Harry, Veronica adjusted the position of the prosthetic arm she wore as she asked, "If they can fix the injuries to your spinal cord, do you think they could… I don't know… regrow my arm or something?"
Harry was surprised at the question. In all the years he'd gotten to know Veronica, she'd never once complained about the loss of her arm. Thinking of what Petunia had told him about the magical world, Harry wondered if it might be possible to regrow lost limbs. "Maybe…" Harry rasped, thoughtfully. It was strange now that he thought about it. Everyone else was probably hoping that Harry could be completely fixed today. But deep down, Harry knew that even if he was able to move and feel his legs again it would probably be years before he was actually able to walk on his own again. By now he was almost used to not being able to move his body. All he really wanted was to be able to breathe on his own… to eat solid foods again…
Petunia came back over followed by a woman with curly red hair tied back and warm brown eyes the color of cinnamon. "Harry, this is the doc—er, healer who will be taking a look at you."
"Hi, Harry," the healer said, brightly, as she shook Harry's hand. "I'm Nicki Lawson. So let's go see what we can do for you."
"Ma'am?" Veronica said, looking at the healer. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure," Nicki replied, looking at Veronica. Seeing the young girl's prosthetic, Nicki nodded, knowingly. "Come on. Both of you."
Watching the two kids follow the healer down the hall, Petunia wished she'd accepted Tom's offer to come with her. Sitting down in the waiting room, she thought about her second husband—although truthfully it had been years since she'd thought of Tom like that. After Vernon's death, Petunia had been so wrapped up with taking care of Dudley and Harry. But once she met Tom and had seen how Harry had taken a liking to him and his daughter, Petunia had let Tom take her out on a date.
Tom had become a godsend and Veronica and Harry had become best friends. In fact, Petunia often thought of the girl as her own child, rather than a stepdaughter.
And if the doctors and healers here were able to help Harry and Veronica, maybe Petunia and Tom would be able to start trying for a baby of their own.
In one of the exam rooms, one of the healers studied what was left of Veronica Evans' arm. "How long ago was the amputation?" Bryan Harding asked, looking at the healed scars.
"About 4 years ago," Veronica replied, shrugging. "I mean, I've learned to live with it, but… It'd be nice to have both arms again."
Bryan nodded and went over to a cabinet filled with potions bottles and withdrew two bottles. Going back over to Veronica, he handed her the bottles. "Just drink both of these and we can get started."
Veronica looked at the two bottles and then glanced at what was left of her arm. What did she have to lose? Opening the first bottle, she quickly downed the contents before drinking the second potion.
Lying in a hospital bed in another room, the back and neck brace removed, Harry watched two healers as they waved their wands over him, while one of the muggle nurses—a woman named Samantha Brandt—hooked up an IV filled with some sort of cloudy, blue liquid.
Seeing that Harry was curious about what was going on, Nicki said, "The IV contains a potion to help stimulate nerves. We'll also use magic to try and repair some of the damage to your spinal cord."
Harry nodded slightly as the nurse hooked up the IV. At first there was no sound in the room except for the beeping of monitoring equipment and the soft hissing of Harry's ventilator.
As Nicki worked on healing the boy's spine, she wondered how it must have been for him all these years. Nicki was a muggleborn and had become a healer after her sister had been paralyzed following a mugging in London. Trish had been stabbed and the knife had severed her spinal cord. Like Harry, Trish had also been paralyzed from the neck down, but healers had been able to restore sensation and function to her upper body.
And with new magical techniques and the potions they were giving Harry, Nicki hoped that they could do even more for the Boy Who Lived. Seeing Harry look suddenly alarmed, she said, "Harry, what's wrong?"
"My chest… feels… funny…" Harry rasped. "Feels… tight…" Suddenly, he gasped loudly and his lungs felt like they were going to burst. He heard the alarms go off on the monitors and wondered just what the bloody hell was happening.
"It's alright, Harry," Samantha assured Harry who was starting to panic. Quickly, she disconnected the respirator tube from main tracheostomy tube. Putting a hand on Harry's shoulder, she said, "Deep breaths, Harry. Deep breaths."
After a few moments, Harry was finally able to take one deep breath and then another. Feeling the tightness in his chest start to relax, he noticed that he was no longer connected to the ventilator. He tried to speak, but no sound came out.
Samantha carefully helped Harry sit up in the bed and after a moment, she said, "Yes, we took you off the ventilator. You're breathing on your own now. How do you feel?" When Harry signaled that he couldn't speak, she covered the open end of the trach tube and said, "Try it now."
"Hungry." Harry whispered, faintly, as he felt his stomach grumble loudly.
"We'll get you something to eat in a bit," Samantha promised, withdrawing a pen from her pocket while Nicki removed Harry's socks and shoes. Running the end of the pen along the bottom of Harry's foot, she asked, "Can you feel that?"
Harry was almost too shocked to answer. When Samantha asked again, Harry nodded, a smile spreading across his face. But when she asked him to try and wiggle his toe, Harry's smile vanished when he couldn't do it.
"One thing at a time, Harry," Nicki assured him, seeing the crestfallen look on Harry's face.
"She's right," Samantha agreed. "You've come a long way today. It'll take time, Harry."
Covering the trach tube so he could talk, Harry whispered, "What happens now?"
"You'll stay here another few days," Nicki replied. "Since you don't need the trach tube, we should be able to remove it with minimal problems. Then you'll start a new physical therapy regimen to build your upper body strength." When she noticed that Harry still looked dejected, she put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "This doesn't mean that you'll never be able to walk, Harry. Sometimes it just takes a while to recover."
While Samantha and the other healer helped finish up with Harry, Nicki went out to the waiting room and found Petunia. "Mrs. Evans?"
Petunia stood quickly and looked hopeful as she asked, "How are Harry and Veronica?"
"Veronica will probably be able to go home tomorrow," Nicki replied. "Limb regrowth usually takes 12-24 hours, depending." Brightening, she added, "Harry will be here for another 3-4 days, but he's breathing on his own now and he's regained full sensation."
"That's wonderful," Petunia said, happily.
Nicki held up a hand as she said, "There is a slight downside. Harry still can't move his legs. But Harry's been paralyzed for how long?"
"5 years," Petunia replied. "So Harry might still be able to walk?"
Nicki gestured to the chairs and she and Petunia sat down. "Right now, there are three possible outcomes for Harry. One, he never regains motor function in his legs. Two, Harry regains full use of his legs but because Harry's been paralyzed for so long, even if he is able to move his legs, it could be a couple years before he's able to walk on his own. Or three, he only regains some use of his lower body. "
Petunia considered that and after a few moments, she said, "If Harry still can't move his legs he'll still be in the wheelchair, right?"
"Right," Nicki replied with a nod. "But the electric wheelchair Harry has been using won't work at Hogwarts. High levels of magic short out muggle electrical devices so Harry will have to use a normal wheelchair equipped with levitation charms so he can get up and down the staircases at Hogwarts."
Nodding, Petunia had another question. "If Harry does partially regain motor function, what then?"
Nicki shrugged. "Harry would most likely have to use crutches, possibly leg braces as well." Putting a hand on Petunia's arm, she added, "This is good news, Petunia. Harry's doing a lot better and with a little luck, he'll have a shot at having a real life."
"What about Veronica?" Petunia asked.
Nicki took a breath and replied, "It's sometimes harder to regrow a limb if there's been significant time passed from the time it was severed. But there's been some advancement so the healers should be able to completely regrow Veronica's arm."
The next morning, Veronica woke in her bed at the Rowena Medical Center and as she sat up, she paused mid-stretch, staring at her left arm. It felt strange and her fingers felt stiff, but her arm was whole and there was no trace of the deformity she'd been born with. Slowly, she made a fist, flexing her fingers and slowly rotating her wrist. Even before the amputation she hadn't been able to bend her wrist due to the joint being completely fused. She'd also had only 5 inches between her wrist and elbow and due to multiple surgeries, her elbow had been kept at a permanent right angle.
But now her arm was normal. She almost couldn't believe it, but it was true—although she did pinch her left arm hard with her right hand, just to be sure.