Chapter 77 - Recuperating

The next two days were the most boring of all the time that Harry had had since learning he was a wizard. Lots of sleep and potions were only interrupted by his visitors.

After supper Thursday night, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley came back to give Ginny a lesson on giving Harry a backrub with the special salve. Madame Pomfrey gave her some general directions about the layout of muscles and how to apply the ointment. Ginny paused for only a second when she saw the scars on Harry's back. She was scared at first to put any real pressure on his back but Harry reassured her that the best way to break up the scar tissue was to go deep into the muscles and scars themselves. Mrs. Weasley who had observed the whole procedure told Ginny that she had done very well for the first time.

Mrs. Weasley left for a bit to chat with her friend leaving Harry and Ginny to visit.

"I was hoping that touching you Harry would restore our mental connection. Did you hear anything I thought at you?"

Harry thought for a moment and then shook his head. "I felt a faint sound like flies buzzing around but not your voice at all. Don't look so sad. We may never have our mental thing again or it may take a long time to get back there. I'll still be your friend, however it goes."

"I know that" Ginny replied. "It's just that I never felt so close to anybody else as when we were in each others mind."

"Me too Ginny. But maybe it's for the best. At least now you don't have that improbable marriage hanging over your head."

"Maybe I liked that possibility 'hanging over my head', Mr. Potter! Did you ever think of that? Of course not!"

Ginny ran a few beds away to keep Harry from seeing her cry. 'Boys', she thought glumly. 'Maybe it's just me, that I had expectations!'

A weight suddenly fell on the bed and Ginny turned to see a white-faced Harry reaching out for her. Ginny saw that he was about to fall off the edge of the bed and grabbed his pajama top to pull him back.

This led both of them to end up nose to nose on top of the bed. Ginny giggled and Harry smiled back at her. "That's one way to get me up and moving. I'll have to tell Madame Pomfrey you're quite the motivator!"

Harry sat himself up and tried making himself comfortable. Reaching out to clasp Ginny's hand with his own, he started talking. "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. I didn't dare to make the assumption that you still wanted to have anything serious with me. This is difficult. I've put you in danger, I just can't forget that."

"Harry, would you please try to remember that I've never blamed you for any of that? Please?"

"All our futures?"

"Yes! Even if it includes Hermione to!"

Harry mouth fell open in shock! "I've not thought of that possibility. Oh my! Both? Could I 'hear' that conversation if we ever get our mental link back?"

"I think not, Harry. We girls need to keep some secrets to ourselves!"

"Very well then. Could you at least give me a hand back to my bed - no the other direction please."

Ginny giggled and helped Harry up and walked him to the loo. She noticed that Harry was strong enough but needed some help with his balance. "Would it help if I went and got your broom Harry to help you stand better?"

"Thanks, Ginny but the balance is much better; it comes and goes now. The trouble seems to be that I'm taking so many potions that frequent trips are necessary. It's still a little tiring after I walk."

Ginny waited a few minutes and then led Harry back to his bed. She had just finished tucking him in when Mrs. Weasley reappeared. "I think we'll be getting home now Harry. Is there anything we can get you before we go?"

"No thank you, Mrs. Weasley. I appreciate the fact that you both came and visited."

"I guess I can tell you both now that Poppy has asked me to help out around here once in a while. Or at least man the hall, as it were. With Ginny here part time, I have extra time of my own. That would give Madame Pomfrey more time to go assist at St. Mungo's if she's needed there. Hope neither of you mind me being around a little bit more?"

Ginny and Harry glanced at each other for a second. "I think that's great!" they said in unison. Mrs. Weasley looked them both quizzically. "Are you two doing 'that' again?"

The two friends looked at each other in shock. "Not that I know of, Mrs. Weasley" Harry finally replied. Ginny, however, had a big grin on her face as she came over and gave Harry a hug!

Harry had a puzzled look on his face as he settled back into his bed for a nights sleep. 'That shouldn't have happened. I wonder what's going on now?'

Harry woke up very hungry Friday morning. He hadn't had much appetite since he had woken up from his coma and hoped that this meant that his body was recovering a little faster.

Madame Pomfrey came in with another house elf carrying his breakfast. "Harry this is Zillah. She comes and helps me out occasionally."

"Good morning Zillah. Thank you for breakfast."

"You are most welcome Master Harry. Is there anything else I can get for you?"

"Just a small favor, please. Could you ask Patchum if he has a few moments to come see me?"

"Of course, Master Harry." Zillah snapped her fingers and disappeared.

Madame Pomfrey watched as Harry helped himself to his breakfast tray. "It's a good sign your appetite is coming back, Mr. Potter. Maybe we can let Ginny start smuggling you an occasional treat from The Burrow!"

Harry smiled back at her. "I have no complaints about the food here. Some of Mrs. Weasleys tarts would be nice though."

"Well, I have to go down to Professor Snape's office and fetch you some more potions. He's the one that has been brewing them for you for the last week."

"Would you give him my thanks? He may not believe you but I do appreciate his helping me."

Madame Pomfrey nodded at Harry and then walked out of the room. Harry had just about finished his breakfast when Zillah and Patchum re-appeared at Harry's bedside.

"Good morning Master Harry. I hope you are feeling better today."

"Yes, I am Patchum. I've got good news - I've been sorted into Gryffindor so we'll be seeing each other a little more. I'm almost strong enough to start walking on my own. Do you think that there is a cane or walking stick that could be found in the Hogwarts lost and found? I would appreciate it if you could take me there or find one for me."

"I think I know what you need, Master Harry. I can look in the sometimes or not room; there should be something there you can use." Patchum bowed and disappeared. Zillah picked up Harry's tray and also left after Harry thanked her again.

Patchum came back 20 minutes later with a two inch thick carved piece of wood that was about Harry's height. Harry used it to carefully stand and tested its strength, not noticing a red glow that surrounded his fingers where he gripped it. When he was satisfied that it wouldn't buckle with his weight, he turned and thanked Patchum again for his help. Patchum seemed a little embarrassed by Harry's compliment but thanked him back and vanished quietly.

Madame Pomfrey came in with a full tray of portions floating before her. She saw Harry standing next to his bed and after warning him to stay where he was, she followed the tray into her office. She returned a few moments later and asked Harry to walk a little. Under her watchful eye, Harry managed, using his staff, to slowly get to the end of the row of beds and then return.

"You may take small walks, Mr. Potter. No venturing more than the corridor in this wing though for a few days. If you are tired or get dizzy while walking, stop and rest. No tiring yourself out. You not only have me to answer to but also Ginny!"

"Yes, ma'am. I'm fully conscious of that!"

Harry swallowed the potion that Madame Pomfrey had brought for him and handed back the empty vial. He settled back in the bed after opening his trunk and fetching a book to read.

Ron found him sleeping with a book across his chest a while later. He nudged Harry a little bit and then removed the book when Harry started rolling over.

"Morning Ron", Harry said straightening out his glasses. "Are you my keeper today?"

"No, Mum actually suggested you might like a break from all the girly company, so I volunteered. Mum and Ginny are starting some sort of project at home. I'm actually starting to get the hang of this flooing back and forth. I brought the chess set if you think you can stand being whomped again."

"Yes, I'm actually getting a little bored reading my textbooks."

"Don't know why you want to get ahead like that. We aren't covering things until we get to classes, right?"

"You're right, I've just never had this many books of my own before. I've actually met Snape a few times so I really want to get prepared for his class."

"It won't help. As long as you're in Gryffindor, Snape will find ways to take points from you. At least that's what the twins say."

Harry grinned at his friend. "This is the same set of twins that told you that you had to ride a wild hippogriff to be sorted?"

Ron laughed. "Well they're mostly honest with me. Do you want black or white?"

The two boys quickly set up the board and enjoyed a couple of hours of good-natured competition. Zillah brought Harry his lunch but quickly returned with a separate tray of food for the always hungry Ron.

Dumbledore came to visit Harry soon after lunch and watched him make his way along with the help of his staff. He smiled at Harry's determination in getting better. He also asked Harry where he had received such an ornate piece of wood. Harry replied that one of the house elves had brought it to him to help getting around. Dumbledore just gave a small smile and said that he hoped that Harry made good use of it.

Ron left just before the supper hour. Harry had Patchum fetch his Nimbus and lent it to Ron for him to use. Harry said Ginny could bring it around in a few weeks if and when he was up to the house Quidditch practice. Ron stammered his thanks and told Harry he would make sure that Ginny or the twins would come visit for a bit after supper.

Ginny and the twins both came after supper and all had a good visit talking and laughing until Madame Pomfrey came and told them that it was the end of visiting hours. Ginny gave Harry a nice long hug and he settled back in for a good nights' sleep.

For a change, Harry was alone when he woke up. There was a note on his tray from Madame Pomfrey that she had a meeting at St. Mungo's but would be back before lunch. Harry looking at the tray, decided to take the two potions first and so he could take his time enjoying his breakfast.

After finishing his breakfast, Harry changed into some of his regular clothes to start his walking. First of all he took a really good look at the staff that Patchum had found for him in that 'sometimes or not' room. There were some grooves that led from one tip to the other in a slow spiral pattern and a variety of carved letters and symbols that Harry had never seen before. Harry felt and found a tiny pair of carved eyes of all things, set in the staff about three inches from the top. There was also a clear faceted piece of glass or crystal set right in the top of the staff. Hoping that Dumbledore or Mr. Weasley could help explain all or some of those things on his staff, Harry donned his slippers and slowly set out.

He had about finished his second lap in the wing hallway when he saw Dumbledore and Mr. Weasley approaching. They seemed very involved in whatever discussion they were having. When they saw Harry in the corridor they both came to a halt. Dumbledore gave Harry a little wave of his hand and then turned, walking back toward his office.

Mr. Weasley came and met Harry halfway down the corridor. "You're color is a lot better today Harry. How is the walking going?"

"I'm starting to get used to it again, Mr. Weasley. It's hard for me to believe that only a couple of days ago I was fit enough to really get some good runs in."

"Give it some time Harry. Hogwarts wasn't built in a day you know. Well, actually it could very well have been. I certainly wasn't around."

By this time Harry and Mr. Weasley had walked slowly back to Harry's bed. Harry down and reached for the pitcher of water that was on his bedside table. He offered a glass to Mr. Weasley who declined.

"So what's going on at the Burrow today?" Harry asked.

"Just the usual madness that accompanies the last couple of days before the Hogwarts Express leaves. The twins and Ron have 'suddenly' remembered things they need for school so Molly is off with them on another last minute shopping trip to Diagon Alley. Someday she's going to let them hang themselves, I swear! Percy is holed up in his room trying to memorize every last detail of his prefects' duties."

"Sounds like fun anyway. What's Ginny doing in all this madness?"

Mr. Weasley made a face at that question. "I was kind of hoping that you wouldn't have asked that Harry. Ginny and Molly got into a terrible row this morning, so I'm afraid the end result is that Ginny's been grounded for the day. She's not coming to visit you! She's very, very sorry. She asked me to tell you that she forgot the patience lessons you have been trying to teach her. I'm afraid you're stuck with me as a poor substitute today."

Harry chuckled at Ginny's apology. "You're anything but that Mr. Weasley. I enjoy talking to you. I've come to rely on your knowledge and advice very much."

"Thank you Harry. It's very kind of you to say that."

"It's only the truth sir. I never had an adult treat me with anything like respect before. I appreciate that so much."

"You seem to be getting around much better today. Hopefully, you are a quick healer and won't miss too much of your classroom time."

"I seemed to have picked up my recovery rate a bit. It's getting a little easier to make my way around. Could I trouble you to take a look at this hiking staff one of the house elves found for me? It's got a lot of carvings on it that I've never seen before."

Harry reached over and grabbed the staff that was leaning against the bed stand. He handed it to Mr. Weasley but when he released his grip on it, Mr. Weasley yelled and dropped the staff on the floor!

Mr. Weasley was shaking his hand like it had been hurt. "That stunned me when you let go of it Harry! It must have some wards on it. Let's try this again. Don't let go of it this time; you must be a ground for it somehow."

This time Harry held the staff out horizontally and kept one hand on it as Mr. Weasley rested it on his knees to look at it. "It's a very old piece you have here. It's a very dense wood but it almost feels like it's turned into rock. But you can still see the grain where all the carving has been done."

"Some of these figures are Runes but it's been a frightfully long time since I took a class in that; I'm not sure about all of them but I think this one here is 'Protection'. The one over here may be 'Wind' or 'Storm'. Bill may have left some of his old course books from Ancient Runes in the attic; that may help you decipher it if you want to read up on it. Percy could tell you who is currently teaching Runes here at Hogwarts. That person or Dumbledore would be your best bet to figure out what the Runes says. I wouldn't swear to it but at least some of this other writing may be Gobblygook."

"Gobblygook?" asked Harry.

"The language of the goblins" Mr. Weasley replied. "I'm not sure if this is a magical artifact or just a walking staff with some protections on it Harry."

"Hopefully, I'll only need it for another week or so and then it can be returned to where it came from." Harry took the staff off of Mr. Weasleys knees and leaned it back against the bed stand. "Thanks for the help, anyway."

"No problem Harry. I enjoy a good challenge as much as the next person. Keeping up with you has certainly been an adventure this summer, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. It's been nice having you around Harry."

"Thank you, Mr. Weasley." Harry was slightly embarrassed by the praise but was glad that Mr. Weasley still thought well of him after all the 'incidents' in the past month.

The two visited for another hour of so before sleepiness crept up on Harry again. Mr. Weasley took his leave and promised Harry that he would try to get Ginny released from her punishment. Harry waved goodbye to Mr. Weasley and fell off to sleep.

Madame Pomfrey and Dumbledore were sitting on chairs talking quietly when Harry woke up. "Good afternoon, sir" Harry said as he put his glasses on. "I'm sorry for taking so many naps but my medical advisors have given me orders to recover as soon as possible."

Madame Pomfrey just nodded her head at Harry's statement. "I think you have been doing a good job as a patient. But I do suspect that I may be seeing a lot of you Mr. Potter while you're attending Hogwarts."

"I'm sorry Madame Pomfrey; I don't really mean to ever be a bother to anyone."

Madame Pomfrey pointed out the potion that was sitting on Harry's stand. Harry sat up and dutifully drank it. "I don't suppose it has ever occurred to anybody to put some plain raspberry or chocolate flavoring to these?"

Dumbledore chuckled and stood up. "There are certain traditions and reputations to need to be maintained Harry. We wouldn't want anybody to confuse real healing with candy now, would we? Then we would be no better than the Weasley twins!"

Madame Pomfrey was the one to smile at that statement. "The headmaster has asked me about your general health Mr. Potter. You've made a remarkable recovery in only a few days. As such I've granted you an afternoon pass. There's a small satchel here with some potions for later. The headmaster thinks that getting out on the grounds for a bit would be good for you. I think he's right. A little fresh air and sunshine has its own medicine. Not too much excitement now Mr. Potter!"

"Thank you Madame Pomfrey. I'll behave myself!"

"Very well, Mr. Potter. We'll see you later."

Harry and Dumbledore walked out of the medical wing and headed for the main doors. Once outside they turned north along the pathway around the school. Dumbledore stopped at the first bench they came to along the path. Harry sat down next to him and just enjoyed the feeling of fresh air and being outside again.

Dumbledore opened up the satchel, reached in and handed Harry a cold bottle of butterbeer. "I thought a little treat after some days of potions was warranted. But you'll have to answer that question we've put off. Do you have enough memory of last Wednesday to explain what happened, Harry?"

Harry took a small drink and tried organizing his thoughts. "Ginny and I were trying to reverse the spell on my 'colorful' shoes. When we called up the bond magic an unbelievable amount of magic appeared. It wasn't totally under our control; it was split going in two different directions. The majority was heading for somebody that had no real knowledge and protection in handling it. Hermione. Somehow she had ended up in the bond with Ginny or me or the both of us. I wasn't going to let her, or Ginny get overwhelmed by that much magic. It might have hurt or killed them. So I abandoned the spell reversal and tried to protect the three of you by pushing Ginny to where you were. And set up a shield spell."

"Why you didn't include yourself inside that shield spell?" Dumbledore asked.

Harry took another couple of swallows out of the bottle before he resumed speaking. "Because that spell specifically cuts you off from all external magics. If I was in there with you, I would not have been able to even try to handle the bond magic. I used a part of the bond magic to set up and maintain that shield. If I was safe inside then I couldn't use the magic to keep the shield up. Once the magic didn't have an outlet toward Ginny and Hermione, I was its only focus. I protected myself as best I could while I dispersed the bond magic; that was my plan so nobody would be crushed or buried in the rubble. It did have enough unchecked power to even damage Hogwarts, sir."

"Sadly, you are speaking the truth Harry. Even my shield was failing in the face of all that power. Where did you find that spell by the way?"

"I'm copying over an old spell book for Professor McGonagall. To occupy my mind. That happened to be one of the spells I remembered writing down."

"I hope the accident hasn't damaged your memory. You've done very well with all the knowledge that you have had to learn in these last few weeks. I trust that actually going to classes won't be too boring for you."

"Actually sir, boring is something I'm actually looking forward to. I've had a little too much activity in the last few weeks."

Dumbledore stood up and then looked down at Harry. "Was that enough of a rest for you Harry? I'd like to continue our walk a little longer."

"Of course sir." Harry finished the bottle of butterbeer and handed it back for Dumbledore to place it back in the satchel. The two continued along the path until they arrived at the lookout over the Quidditch pitch.

Harry looked down at the path with a sigh. He wanted to just go down and sit by the stands for a bit but he didn't trust his legs yet to make the trip back up the hill.

Dumbledore sensing his hesitation turned toward Harry. "Would you allow me to apparate us both down there? There's an especially refreshing breeze by the field this time of the day."

Harry was grateful that the old wizard could almost read his mind. "That would be very helpful sir. If you don't mind."

"Very well then. You had better close your eyes for this Harry. It does tend to make the sidealong person a little dizzy once in a while."

Harry reached out with one hand to wrap it around Dumbledore's elbow. When he felt he had a sufficient enough grip on the wizard and his staff, he nodded his head and closed his eyes tightly. There was a moment of pull and a slight feeling of flying very rapidly. Harry felt himself on firm ground again after a brief moment and he heard Dumbledore say he could look now.

Harry opened his eyes to something he never expected!