Well this it! The final chapter. I want to thank each and every of you with your continued support in writing this. Every piece of constructive criticism, every lovely review, every fave and follow. Thank you so much!
Sirius sat by Harry's bedside, head in his hands as he watched Harry's chest rise and fall. It had been a week since the maze incident and Harry still hadn't woken up. Everyone was getting seriously worried. Next to him, Remus sat, eyeing the potions going in and out of Harry's body, looking rather pale.
Madame Pomfrey was at the end of her tether, she honestly didn't know what to do. There was no reason as to why Harry wasn't awake yet, he'd had no serious head injury that could cause a coma and his internal organs were stable, meaning that he should have been awake. Of course, there was the damage that had been done to his spine.
Madame Pomfrey had noticed a small, hairline crack spanning half of his spine. It seemed as if hr had been slammed into something hard with some force. Sirius was despairing, Madame Pomfrey was unsure of when Harry would wake up or indeed – if he would wake up at all. The best they could do was wait.
Sirius stroked his thumb over his godson's knuckles, willing him to wake up. He had known that he shouldn't have let Harry compete – insisted that Dumbledore find a loophole of some sort. But he hadn't and now Harry was laying in a hospital bed, obviously having witnessed horrors beyond anybody's imagination.
Sirius had nearly fainted when he'd heard of Harry's injuries. Aside from concussion and a cracked spine, Harry had a broken ankle and burn marks from the cruciatus curse. Sirius swelled with anger, he wanted to get his hands son the person who had hurt Harry and rip him to shreds.
"Sirius," Remus said quietly, soothingly. "Come on, you need some rest."
Sirius shook his head vehemently.
"No! Harry might wake up," he said desperately.
Remus' heart broke. As much as he wanted Harry to wake up, he was being more realistic. The likelihood of Harry waking up were slim to none. Being a man whom had had nothing but strife for most of his life – Remus couldn't help but be pessimistic, after all, he'd never been wrong in the past. He just hoped more than anything that Harry would pull through.
"Sirius … " Remus began tentatively. "Perhaps you should begin to..."
"NO!" Sirius shouted, violently trembling. "I'll never admit it. I won't accept that my godson will die."
A faint whimper from the bed had both of them whipping around. Sirius sat on his godson's bed and took his hand as Harry began to mumble unintelligibly. He was waking up! Sirius was sure of it. Remus had rushed off to get Madame Pomfrey and Sirius was still muttering soothing words to Harry as he struggled to wake.
Harry gave a little gasp and his eyes fluttered open. Milky and sore with misuse, they settled on Sirius for several long seconds. Harry could feel himself violently trembling as the memories of the graveyard came rushing back. The pain, the guilt, the icy fear.
"Sirius, I'm so sorry. I couldn't stop him," Harry said, tears streaming down his bruised face.
"Sh, it's all right. You need to stay still. That's it." Sirius said soothingly as Harry leaned into the warmth of Sirius' hand.
Madame Pomfrey bustled over, looking harassed and urgent as she carried her medical bag over the Harry's bed and felt his forehead for fever. Harry recoiled, throwing his hands over his head and muttering apologies. Sirius froze, horrified at his godson's behaviour.
"No, no. 'M sorry. Please, please let me go!" Harry begged, eyes screwed tight shut.
The adults exchanged glances. Harry seemed to be stuck in some sort of flashback. Obviously, whatever had happened in that maze – had seriously affected Harry. Sirius scooted closer, taking Harry's sweaty hand as the panic attack set its course. Madame Pomfrey gently injected the calming draught into his veins, knowing that she would not get him to ingest it.
Harry's face slackened, his back stopped arching and he relaxed against the coverlet, breathing returning to normal. He stared up at Sirius with blank eyes, a treacherous tear escaping down his cheek.
"You've been in the wars again, Mr Potter," said Madame Pomfrey, trying and failing to remain stern.
Harry nodded, closing his eyes and letting out a shuddering breath. Sirius recoiled when he remembered what Harry had said. Voldemort was back! How could this be? Voldemort was supposed to be dead. Of course, Siirus had never believed that Voldemort was completely dead, he wasn't human enough for that. Even in Azkaban, when he was slowly being sapped of energy by the dementors, he'd had the sense not to believe that the Dark Lord had moved on to the next great adventure.
"You've taken quite the battering, Potter," Madame Pomfrey said softly.
Harry's eye snapped open, wide with fear. The potion had done its job but it didn't mean Harry couldn't feel fear, he just couldn't act on it.
"Cedric dead ... My fault," Harry said desperately.
Madame Pomfrey shook her head, eyes kind and gentle.
"No, Mr Diggory is not dead. He is in a magically induced coma. With time, he will wake up," Madame Pomfrey said gently.
Relief swept through Harry at her words. Cedric was alive! His surrogate brother had made it. He could almost laugh with relief.
"Coma?" Harry said softly.
"Mr Diggory, was hit by a spell that simulates death." a soft voice spoke up from behind them.
Dumbledore had just entered the room and was standing at the foot of Harry's bed, gazing sadly down at Harry, who looked rather confused and scared. His eyes were devoid of the usual twinkle and he was wearing banal coloured robes (to his standard).
"What spell?" Harry asked, swallowing thickly.
"It is called Subdito Plecto. It means fake death," Dumbledore paused. "It is a variation of the killing curse – of Voldemort's own creation-" Madame Pomfrey shuddered at the name, "-In the first wizarding war, Voldemort used it to torture families by making them believe that their loved ones were deceased." said Dumbledore gravely.
"But why didn't he just kill Cedric? Why would he simulate the death?" Harry asked.
Dumbledore shook his head sorrowfully. "Alas, my boy, I do not know. Voldemort works in many strange ways. I must only apologise my boy, can you forgive an old man's mistakes?"
"Sir?" Harry said confused, looking to Sirius and Remus (who looked just as confused).
"Were it not for me, this would not have happened. You would be whole and healthy. Mind unaffected by the horrors you have witnessed."
Harry shook his head, feeling weighed down by the grief he could feel pouring from the man. Dumbledore really did blame himself.
"It's not your fault Sir. There's nothing to forgive," Harry muttered, voice hoarse from misuse.
Dumbledore bowed his head gratefully, weathered hands shaking slightly. It was then, that it struck Harry how old Dumbledore actually was. Looking at the man before him, he looked every one of his one hundred plus years.
"Now, Harry, this may be difficult but I must ask. Are you ready to tell me what happened in the maze?"
Harry nodded, suddenly feeling very sick. He really didn't want to relive what had happened in the graveyard but he had to, if he didn't, he would never be able to move on. He'd be constantly looking over his shoulder. No, talking would do him some good.
"Good lad," said Sirius, taking Harry's hand and squeezing encouragingly.
Harry flinched at the sudden contact and took a few calming breaths before turning back to Dumbledore.
"The cup was a portkey," he started. "Cedric and I touched it at the same time and it took us to this graveyard. My scar started really hurting and Cedric was looking around. Then, somebody came from the shadows – they were killing a bundle of what I thought to be robes, this voice said 'Kill the spare' and the figure shot a curse at Cedric," Harry began shakily.
Dumbledore seemed to have gone rather pale, Madame Pomfrey had her hand over her mouth, Remus and Siirus looked torn between melancholy and anger at what Harry had been through as he recounted the awful time in the graveyard. As he was tortured and thrown about like a ragdoll, Wormtail cutting him and putting the blood in the cauldron. Here, Remus and Sirius let out roars of outrage and Dumbledore looked mutinous. Madame Pomfrey looked as if she would burst into tears.
He then recounted how the death eaters appeared and Voldemort rose once more. By the end of it, Harry was visibly trembling and he looked as if he might vomit.
"Well, it looks as if we may need to set up The Order of The Phoenix again. Remus,-" Dumbledore turned to Remus, whom had his head in his hands but looked up when Dumbledore spoke to him. "Gather the old crowd, and anyone else whom is willing to fight, But remember – the utmost secrecy is required."
Remus nodded and jumped to his feet, pausing to squeeze Sirius' shoulder, before dashing from the room. He turned to Madame Pomfrey, looking grave again.
"Madame Pomfrey, I was wandering if I could have a word with Sirius. In private?"
Madame Pomfrey nodded. "Of course, Headmaster. I am required to do a stock take anyway,"
When Madame Pomfrey had gone, Dumbledore sat down in Remus' vacated chair and gazed at Sirius sadly, blue eyes searching his very soul.
"Now, Sirius, I am afraid that you are going to have to be extra careful this year. Do not let Harry go out alone, nor do you leave him in the house alone. I would highly suggest that you cast the Fidelius Charm upon your property, along with a number of wards of my own invention."
Sirius sighed. "Will death eaters know where we live? The house is already un-plottable." said Sirius offhandedly, his voice giving off the concern that he felt.
"That may as be. However, we are talking about Lord Voldemort here. He will find a way and Harry's safety is paramount." Dumbledore said sadly, eyes flashing with something that Sirius could not quite place.
"Of course, Headmaster. Anything that keeps Harry safe."
Dumbledore nodded, stroking his beard as he became lost in thought.
"Not only that, I would suggest that you put down a secondary guardian for Harry in the case of your demise. You are not invincible and Harry will need somebody to take care of him until he becomes of age if you cannot,"
"Remus!" Sirius said straight away. "There's nobody that I wouldn't trust more."
"Excellent, I shall go and arrange your wards. Stay strong Sirius." Dumbledore said, standing up and leaving the room, muttering gently to himself. Sirius sighed and put his head in his hands, listening to the reassuring sound of Harry's breathing.
All he'd ever wanted to do was to protect Harry. From the moment a grinning James placed him in his arms, Sirius fell completely in love, he loved him just as much as Lily and James did and had vowed to do whatever it took to protect Harry. Even kill.
Then, Peter had betrayed Lily and James thus sealing their fate and Harry's. A grief stricken and angry Sirius had gone after Peter, set out to murder him and to avenge Lily and James but Peter had been sly and quick witted. He had outsmarted Sirius, earning him twelve years in the company of the foulest creatures to roam the earth.
Sirius had always regretted what he'd done. All through school, he had had a act now and think later attitude. The very same attitude had resulted in his incarceration and Harry's abuse at the hands of his magic- fearing relatives.
Sirius shook himself out of his melancholy. All Harry needed after his ordeal was for Sirius to develop a case of the doldrums, he would stay strong and resilient for Harry. He needed him. A small cough behind him caught his attention. Whirling round in his seat, Sirius made eye contact with Madame Pomfrey and nodded half-heartedly at her.
"Mr Black, I wish to speak to you about Harry's ongoing care when he leaves Hogwarts for the summer." said Madame Pomfrey, straightening her starched robes and sitting down.
"Go ahead," said Sirius, drawing himself up to his full height and clutching Harry's hand.
"Now, as you already know, Htuarry has a small, hairline crack on one of the vertebrae in his spine. I have conducted some tests and it has drawn up conclusive that Harry will be able to walk but may find it painful or difficult.
"I have given him some Skelegro and healed the crack in his spine but I must strress the importance of rest. I will assess him in a couple of weeks. Ensure that he gets some light exercise, perhaps a stroll around the garden. He may be in considerable pain so I will prescribe some painkillers."
"I managed to heal his concussion and the nerve damage done by the Cruciatus Curse. However, he may feel pins and needles in his fingers in his toes and some numbness from time to time. It is not serious and will pass eventually. His body needs time to heal.
"Now, onto the mental side of things. Harry has been through a horrific ordeal, therefore Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a high likelihood. I want you to keep an eye out for that, as it will need treating immediately."
"Sorry," said Sirius, slightly confused. "What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?"
"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs when somebody is victim or witness to a traumatic event, such as what Harry has witnessed. Even though, a lot of people don't develop PTSD, there is a chance and we need to keep an eye out for it,"
Sirius nodded quickly. Hed never heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder before, but by the sounds of it – it was highly unpleasant. He needed to know what he was dealing with if Harry's shock did develop into PTSD.
"What...What are the symptoms?" Sirius said, voice wavering.
"The symptoms, which normally develop in the first month since the trauma but there has been known to be a delay. I implore you to look out for any signs of a flashback, if he seems to have blacked out or to be in a trance, he may avoid things that remind him of the graveyard, so he might avoid graves or graveyards."
"I would also like to warn you that Harry may feel on edge and anxious. He'll be prone to violent outbursts insomnia and struggle to concentrate. I'll give you a leaflet with the full list of symptoms. Try not to worry so Mr Black." said Madame Pomfrey softly, momentarily laying a hand on Sirius' shoulder.
"What if he does have this post-whatsit?" Sirius asked anxiously, bowing his head slightly.
"Then he'll get help," she said simply. "You may not agree with him, but Professor Snape is well trained in dealing with shell shock and anxiety disorders."
Over my dead body. Sirius thought wryly.
"I'll get back to you on that one," said Sirius, resisting the urge to cross his arms like a petulant toddler.
Madame Pomfrey nodded, the corners of her mouth twitching as she took in Sirius' inner turmoil. Old habits die hard. Harry snuffled slightly in his sleep but just turned over, fist clenched softly upon the soft blankets of his bed. Sirius watched him sleep, tenderness upon his face. An expression he had only ever used on James and Remus.
Harry was his family now, he would do everything in his power to protect him. Even if it meant killing or being killed. He knew now that Harry would always have someone if he were to die. Remus, The Weasleys, Hermione, even Dumbledore.
"You're not alone, Harry," Sirius whispered, resting his head on the bed. "I can promise you that."
Ron and Hermione sat at Harry's bedside, eyeing Harry with sympathy and concern. He wished they wouldn't, it was rather annoying. He wished everyone would stop treating him like a China doll that was about to shatter. He was still haunted by the graveyard but for the most part, managed to keep the disturbing thoughts at bay.
Ron and Hermione were arguing again. In typical Ron fashion, he made an insensitive remark without thinking it through and in typical Hermione fashion, she had snapped at him and rather mulishly refused to back down when Ron defended himself. Harry shook his head, the ghost of a grin sliding over his face. Some things never change.
Cedric still hadn't woken up – though he had shown signs of high brain activity and movements, which – as Madame Pomfrey said – was a high indicator that he would awake soon. It had been an eventful week, and for the first time since starting at Hogwarts – Harry was looking forward to going home.
Cornelius Fudge had been to visit, stubbornly refusing to believe that the Dark Lord had returned – even going as far to say that Harry had harmed Cedric. To Harry's surprise, Cedric's parents of all people had defended him and told the minister where to get off. There had been the Triwizard winnings, they would be split between him and Cedric 500 Galleons each.
It was a mixed reaction from his peers. When he had finally been released from the hospital wing to Sirius' quarters, half the school seemed to think he was barking mad and the idea of Voldemort returning was preposterous. A few were interested in what he had to say, others just wanted to hear what had happened in the maze. Honestly, Harry was getting sick of it. He wasn't sure how much longer he could cope before he broke down.
It was the day they were due to be leaving and Harry was feeling rather apprehensive. He wasn't ready for the stares and whispers. He had barely seen any of the school since the incident (having missed the end of term feast) and was rather dreading boarding the Hogwarts Express.
True, Sirius and Remus would be with him. Along with half a ton of potions and lotions but it was beside the point, Harry had developed an aversion to crowds and wasn't looking forward to it.
"Sirius," Harry said slowly, biting his lip. "can I ask you something?"
Sirius looked up from his desk – where he had been grading papers and laid down his quill, sitting down next to Harry and wrapping an arm around his shoulders. He didn't miss the flinch or the gentle tremors that ran through Harry and tried to hide his hurt.
"Yes, Harry," Sirius said gently. "What's up?"
"Today, I, er," Harry ducked his head, embarrassed. "The crowds. I don't think I can."
Sirius understood immediately. Harry was nervous around the crowds, not surprising really. Dumbledore had given Harry special permission to board the train early, knowing that Harry wouldn't want people gawking at him. For that, Sirius was extremely grateful.
"Well, Professor Dumbledore has given permission for you to board the train early. We've secured you a compartment right at the back and Remus and I will be there. I suppose Ron and Hermione will."
Harry swallowed, cursing himself for the treacherous tears that welled up in his eyes.
"What, what about Cedric?"
"Cedric will wake, Harry. Have a little faith. Madame Pomfrey is very close to finding a counter spell."
Harry nodded, taking a deep and composing breath. Sirius smiled reassuringly at him and pulled him close, resting his chin on Harry's head. Harry stiffened for a few seconds before giving in and relaxing into the embrace, relishing the feeling of warmth and security emanating from his godfather.
Sirius pulled away and Harry felt his security blanket fall away. He wrapped his skinny arms around his body and bit his lip, embarrassed at his reaction. He hadn't meant for any tears to fall.
"We had better get going. Your luggage has already been sent down," Sirius said, just as Remus walked in, carrying a knapsack and smiling gently.
"Hey, Moony," Sirius said, standing up and extending a hand for Harry to take.
Harry took the pro offered hand and followed his godfather and honorary godfather from the Astronomy Quarters, knowing he wouldn't see it again for a few months. Together, they made their way to the train station – no one said a word but they walked on in a comfortable silence.
It was going to be a long, hard road. But they would get through this, that's what families do.
Acknowledgements: Crimson Music Wolf, IloveGeorgeEads, LaurenAmy12, Lupinesence, narniaandharrypotterforever, Britknee42, Dancing With The Clouds, horselovr171, V.L. Crawford, Daughter of the Full Moon, 12, DarkRavie, Ash-Bookworm113, tazztazz, potterlunar, MAFITA, potterhead1997, jogger, DarrenKrissForLife, ferret assassin nin, yukikiralacus, cookyc, The-Girl-Who-Dreamed, Spring Raine, redzoe, Jim Red Hawk, PotionsMistressSnape, A Frozen Flower Made of Ice, harryfan83, pirate-princess1, Hawk Wood, Rori Potter, icecatfire, , Harry Potter Albus Dumbledore, Princess Juliet Rose, CryTellTale, ginnyandharryluvr, Lollypops101, angelsarah22, dlrp95, AlienTourist, pigwidgeon, tricorvus, AlexandriaLily107.
Thank you, thank you all so much! I couldn't have done it without you guys! Also, thanks to all my followers and favouriters and anonymous reviewers as well, it means so much to me. The sequel, Phoenix Burning will be done eventually but not for a while yet so don't take me off your author alerts. Much Love!