Finding Hope in Darkness
It was a dark autumn night and the grounds around Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry lay silent and vacant. Not a soul was to be seen, except one lone, staggering man, slowly and hesitantly making his way up to the castle doors. If anyone had been present to watch him, they might have taken notice of the odd way he was moving; stumbling, faltering and fumbling his way forward. The concerning amount of blood covering his face. The way was panting quite heavily and every breath came in pained gasps for air. When he finally reached the castle, he had veered slightly off course, and had to trace the wall to find the heavy oaken doors. He managed to pry them open and stumbled inside. The sound of merry conversations, cutlery against plates and the delicious smell of food greeted him. He let out a low, agonized groan and stumbled towards the sound. He was barely conscious, and thus, didn't notice how the hall grew quieter and quieter as he made his way farther in. The man suddenly stopped, swaying in place, his pale, bloodied face twisted by pain. Nothing in the room could be heard, except for the man's ragged breathing. Then he unceremoniously collapsed onto the hard stone floor. The first scream echoed between the walls and sent the hall into frantic chaos. The youngest students had never seen such a gruesome sight before in their short, sheltered lives, and many burst into tears. The oldest students either stared horrified at the man, urged the first and second years to return to their common rooms, or turned to the Headmistress for directions. Minerva McGonagall rose, white faced and tight lipped, staring at the bloody figure lying motionless on the floor of the Great Hall.
"All students return to their dorms! Prefects, help your housemates." She called out over the din and cacophony. "Poppy, your assistance please!" She scanned the crowd with her sharp eyes, searching for the mediwitch. Once she had made sure her orders were being followed, Minerva hurried down from her seat at the head table and approached the mysterious man and the crouching Healer beside him. She took a deep, steadying breath before addressing the witch.
"Well? Poppy?" She demanded to know. The witch was frowning deeply, her wand waving constantly over the young man and the fingers of her free hand prodding gently here and there.
"I need to bring him to the Hospital Wing as quickly as possible." She said, her voice tight with concentration and concern.
"What can you tell me of his condition at this point?" Minerva was trying to figure out what to do in a situation like this. Oh, how she wished Albus was still alive! He would have known what to do.
Poppy turned to fix her with a sharp, penetrating look. "He is very seriously injured. I'm not sure he'll survive." She stated grimly. Minerva nodded shortly, produced her own wand and wordlessly suspended the man in the air. Poppy simply continued casting spell after spell as they slowly made their way up to the Hospital Wing.
The moment Minerva had lowered the man down on one of the waiting beds, the mediwitch set to work in earnest. Her wand was nothing but a blur, most of the time, and she produced potion vials at an astonishing speed. Minerva watched it all warily. Potions were forced down the unconscious man's throat, his clothes were removed and most of the blood scourgified away. Minerva and Poppy both were appalled by the cheer number of wounds. Minerva didn't doubt for a moment that he had more internal injuries, that the eye couldn't see, in addition to the cuts, burns and bruises. He even appeared to have acid marks on parts of his body! Minerva felt her stomach churn at the thought of the pain he must be in.
"What could possibly have happened to this poor man?" She whispered faintly, forcing herself to look as the witch worked. Poppy said nothing, but the set of her jaw tightened and her eyes looked like sharp shards of steel.
"I can guess." The woman pressed out between muttered spells. "Death Eaters." She spat the name out, as if it left a revolting taste in her mouth.
Minerva had to agree. "I can't imagine anything else." She muttered darkly. Ever since Voldemort had come out into the open two years previous, more and more cases like this had appeared. Granted, most of the time, the torture victims found were dead. However horrible the condition, this man was most certainly alive. "Any thoughts on who it might be, yet?" She had to say something, to distract herself from the sight before her eyes, if only a little.
Poppy shook her head. "He's not stable yet. I don't have time." Her words were clipped and sharp, tinged by frustration. The Headmistress took the hint and remained silent.
Minerva stood motionless at the food of the hospital bed for close to two hours, watching the mediwitch patch the man's life back together. Quite literally. When Poppy finally stood back from the bed, her face was chalk white, he lips nothing but a thin line and her eyes had a haunted look to them. All in all; she looked exhausted. Concerned, Minerva quickly conjured a comfortable chair behind the woman before she sank down to sit on the floor.
"Well?" That single word held so much hope, anticipation and dread in it, all at the same time.
Poppy let out a heavy breath, closing her eyes and leaning her head against the backrest. "He's stable." She confirmed faintly. She looked slightly ill. Not that Minerva blamed her; she felt rather queasy, herself.
"Will he live?" She wanted to know. It seemed like such a sad thing, for this man to reach Hogwarts, get treatment, but then still not survive. Poppy slowly shook her head.
"I honestly don't know. He got more bone fractures than I've ever seen in a single person before in my life! I don't have the slightest clue as to how he managed to walked up here... I had to give him almost an entire bottle of Skele-grow." She grimaced. Minerva winced sympathetically. "His insides were riddled by countless injuries, both minor and quite grave." Poppy continued, ticking them off her fingers. "A punctured lung, fractured spleen, bruised liver, his throat was almost one large wound, as if he has ruined it by screaming." The thought wasn't entirely unlikely. "He had several fractures on his face, as well as signs of multiple concussions. And..." She hesitated. Minerva urged her on with a simple look. "...he suffers from several Dark spells. The Cruciatus is only one of them." She scowled at nothing in particular.
"So whatever he's lived through, they wanted him to suffer as much as possible." Minerva nodded grimly, trying to force her stomach to settle down.
"I will clean him up more properly in a moment, Minerva. I'll let you know if I recognize him, or otherwise manage to find out his identity." She got up with a tired sigh.
"Very well. Please let me know of any changes to his condition, or if you need anything." She sent the woman a stern look before turning on her heel and walking out the door.
Harry woke with a start, his heart racing, his mind reeling and covered in sweat. He was utterly terrified. He was panting heavily, almost gasping for air; as if he had been submerged in water for far too long. Which wasn't entirely unlikely, considering everything the Death Eaters liked to do to him to pass their time. His eyes were open, but he saw nothing but darkness. That didn't say much, as they kept him either blinded or in dark rooms, constantly. Harry thought it had something to do with the terror of the unknown, or something equally malevolently brilliant. The sounds, however, where not what he had expected; he couldn't hear the steady drip, drip from water drops making their way down the rough stone walls of his cell, or the distant, muffled sound of hateful voices and laughs. Everything was peacefully quiet. Neither was the pain; Harry was certain he had been in substantially more pain the last time he had been conscious. Puzzled by all this, he wondered if they had simply fed him a hallucinogen again. He might be trapped in his own delusions... Or maybe his mind had finally snapped under the pressure of constant torture? Or they might just want him to think he was safe, to then throw him back into his cell and continue with their little 'Happy Hours' as they liked to call them. He felt like crying. He wouldn't be able to withstand another day with endless torture and even more taunts and verbal abuse. He was The-Boy-Who-Bloody-Lived... which meant they wouldn't grant him death. Harry shuddered. He was so very thirsty; he couldn't even remember the last time he had been given more than a mouthful of water. He tried to speak, and felt like whimpering at the burning pain in his throat. He must have produced some noise, because he immediately heard brisk footsteps coming towards him. Harry shuffled away from the unknown person, and cried out as he tumbled from the bed he had been lying on and onto the hard, unforgiving floor.
"Oh, my!" A female voice gasped. "Mr Potter! Please, calm yourself."
He wondered why the voice was vaguely familiar. Maybe it was one of the Death Eaters who only came to his cell rarely. Harry wasn't able to make out anything familiar in this new cell, however, and scuffled backwards until he was backed up against the wall. He was taking quick, shallow breaths, waiting for the pain he knew was to come. He whimpered, clutching him arms around his knees and his hands covering his head, trying to protect his vital points.
"It's alright. It's alright." The voice cooed soothingly, gently. Harry slowly, ever so slowly, began to relax. When his breathing was getting down to a steady, even rhythm, the door opened. The sound of it, sent him into another panic. Now there would be two of them beating him! He let out a raw, strangled scream. It was rather weak -considering his state- but it still echoed in the silent room.
"What in the world!" Minerva exclaimed, clutching a hand over her heart. She stopped dead in her tracks when she spotted Poppy and Harry on the other side of the room. Another heartbeat, and Harry's scream caused her to flinch. Poppy was muttering darkly under her breath, glaring accusingly at her. The mediwitch reluctantly took out her wand from the pocket on her apron and wordlessly stunned the young man. Harry immediately slumped back against the wall, unaware of anything that happened around him.
"Let's get him back onto the bed." She sighed, eyeing her patient sadly.
"What happened?" Minerva inquired quietly carefully. She eyed her former student solemnly. She hadn't seen him in over a year. Harry had never been anywhere near fat, but now... He was nothing but skin and bones!
"He woke up." Poppy answered. Her voice sounded hollow. "Minerva...He thought I was going to hurt him." She held back a sob. Minerva stepped up to the witch, awkwardly patting her shoulder.
"We already knew this would take time." She tried to comfort her, but motherly and comforting weren't exactly things Minerva McGonagall was frequently associated with. "You told me this yourself." She pointed out softly.
"I know." Poppy took a deep, shaky breath. "I wasn't really expecting such a violent reaction, is all." She said in a small voice, dabbing at her moist eyes with a corner of her spotless, white apron. She then straightened her back, squared her shoulders and pointed her wand at Harry. She ran a diagnostics spell, which let her know if he had injured himself in the fall off the bed. Luckily, her patient hadn't caused himself anything worse than a few abrasions on shoulder and elbow. She healed them quickly with a simple flick of her wand. She took the opportunity to give him a few potions he needed; mainly pain-relievers and nutritional potions. Minerva watched silently as Poppy tucked Harry back down into his bed, emptying vial after vial down his throat and then let out a quiet sigh, smoothing his hair down over his forehead.
"He's been sleeping for a week." She stated. "When will it be safe to wake him up? We need to talk to him, find out what happened and how he got away." Minerva found herself smoothing out a few wrinkles in Harry's cover.
"Have you notified his family?" Poppy asked, deciding to ignore her question. Minerva grimaced.
"I tried... The owl came back with the letter unopened." She grimaced sourly. Not that she had been surprised. Really. "Then I tried to send letters to young Mr Weasley and Miss Granger, but I don't think the owls found them." She sighed tiredly, rubbing her fingers against her temples.
"Have you considered contacting Mr and Mrs Weasley?" Poppy asked. "Merlin knows they've been here almost as often for Harry as they have for their own children." She chuckled mutedly. "Molly would be horrified if she found out about this, and you haven't contacted her."
"I suppose." Minerva's lips were curling into a small smile. "I don't see the harm in it. And Harry might benefit from having familiar people around him the next time he wakes up." She agreed. Poppy nodded. She gave Harry one last, long look before retreating into her office. Minerva studied his peaceful features before leaving the ward, and returning to her office. She had a letter to write.
"Minerva!" Molly greeted her as she stepped out of the fireplace, and into her office. She wasn't smiling. "Can you please explain this letter? What do you mean you have someone in the Hospital wing who could benefit from my presence?" A slight frown was marring her brow.
"Please take a seat, Molly." Minerva and Molly knew each other quite well, considering she had had all of Molly's children in her house. "We need to talk about this, and you might not like it."
"Talk about what?" Molly narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Ginny graduated last year. I no longer have children at Hogwarts!" She glowered at the headmistress.
"I am quite aware." Minerva inclined her head slightly. The absence of read headed Weasleys were actually rather strange, requiring some adjustment. "This is not about your biological children." Minerva agreed. "It's about Mr Potter." She admitted. Molly straightened immediately.
"Harry? What about Harry?" She demanded to know.
"He's here. In the Hospital wing." She answered calmly. She knew these news wouldn't be received well.
"Why?" Seemed to be the only question Molly could think of. Minerva let out a heavy sigh, braiding her fingers together and resting them on top of her desk.
"A young man staggered into the Great Hall one evening a little over a week ago. He was covered in blood and seemed to be in immense pain. He collapsed on the floor between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw house tables." She tried to smile, but it turned out as a stiff grimace. "Poppy set to work right there and then, to save his life. Once we had transported this stranger to the Hospital wing, and gotten a chance to clean him up, Poppy recognized him as Mr. Potter. " She nodded as she finished the sentence. Molly gaped at her.
"What had happened to him?" She asked faintly. She sounded horrified. "What could possibly have happened for him to turn up here, at Hogwarts, like that?"
"We haven't gotten an answer to that question, unfortunately." Minerva closed her eyes momentarily. "But we can guess." She admitted reluctantly. Molly urged her to continue with a fierce glare. "We think he's been tortured by Death Eaters." There was no kind way of saying it. Molly gasped loudly, covering her mouth with her hands. The letter was all but forgotten now. The red headed woman was very pale, and she looked truly appalled.
"What did they do to him?" Molly sounded like she wasn't sure she really wanted to know but couldn't stop herself from asking. Minerva rose with a sigh.
"Poppy can give you a full medical report, if you'd like." She said. "Shall we?" She mentioned with her hand towards the door. Molly collected herself, nodded and followed the Headmistress out of her office, the letter forgotten on the desk.
"What in Merlin's name...!" Molly sounded speechless. She stood frozen by Harry's bed, staring at him. "What did those horrid people do to him!?" She close to screeched. Poppy sighed, not bothering to tell the woman to lower her voice. She had no patients at the moment, other than Harry.
"It's a rather long list..." She admitted ruefully. "I've mended the worst of it by now, but there are a few things still healing." She pulled down the cover, exposing Harry's bare chest. Such as it were. Harry was painfully skinny; you could easily count every rib. Almost every bone in his body was visible at the mere sight of him. His skin was riddled with fresh, pink scars. He had one long scar down his chest -beginning at his shoulder, going down his chest and ending slightly above and to the left of his navel- presumably from a Lacero curse. It had been half healed when he had arrived here. Some of the wounds on him had been badly healed, simply to keep him from bleeding out and dying. Poppy would be able to mend most of the scars, making them less noticeable and less bothersome. But not the acid scars; there was nothing she could do about them -since some sort of potion had been used- and they would remain with him as they were, for the rest of his life.
"What... What can I do?" Molly asked faintly, slowly sinking down into the chair by Harry's bedside. By the sound of it, she had trouble speaking.
"Keep an eye on him." Poppy briskly explained. "Try to calm him down when he wakes." And then added almost grudgingly. "He threw himself off the bed the last time he woke up, thinking I was going to hurt him."
"Oh, Harry." Molly's eyes were definitely moist by now, and she reached out a trembling hand to stroke his hair. She tried very hard not to think of what this might mean for her son. Merlin, she hoped Ron was alright. Trying to hold back her tears, she gently took Harry's hand in hers.
"I hope it will do him good to have someone familiar close by." Poppy finished. Molly nodded, her eyes glued on Harry's calm -albeit scarred- sleeping face.
Minerva decided to leave the woman alone, to give her time to digest everything. As it happened, it took two days for Harry to wake up.
Harry woke with a jolt and a scream tearing its way out of his throat. He was faintly aware of the fact that someone was grasping his hand tightly, but he was far too caught up in the dream to really notice. He wasn't even sure if it could be classified as a dream, since it really was a memory. His heart was beating furiously and he slowly raised a shaking hand to his face. He was covered in sweat.
"There, there." A soothing voice urged him to calm down. Harry froze. Someone was holding his hand. Even in his delirious state, he had trouble picturing a Death Eater doing that. And the female voice soothing him was vaguely familiar. Harry seriously doubted Bellatrix Lestrange would go to this much trouble, just to lull him into a false sense of security. She would never be able to be this gentle even if she tried. He blinked a couple of times, almost panicking again when he noticed no difference. Why would they insist on keeping him in the dark?
"W-who?" He croaked in a rough voice, barely loud enough to be heard. The hand gently stroking the back of his hand paused.
"It's Molly, dear. Ron's mother." Molly answered, managing to keep the waver almost completely out of her voice. Harry contemplated this a moment, frowning. Would his captors really be so desperate as to impersonate the 'blood-traitor' just to torment him? Harry was too tired to really care. If this was a ruse, then he would play along. If they were going to hurt him, then they would hurt him no matter what he did. He took a deep breath and decided to exploit this opportunity.
"Water." He croaked, trying not to hope for too much. They loved denying him water, especially when he asked for it.
"Of course, dear." He could hear the rustling of cloth as the woman who claimed to be Mrs Weasley moved beside him. "Here you go, Harry." She said. Harry tried to identify the emotion in her voice, but couldn't. He felt a glass placed in his hand, and he eagerly tried to raise it to his mouth. His hands shook so bad he had to get assistance. Once he had emptied the glass, he leaned back against something soft, pleased that he wasn't thirsty anymore, ruse or not. A scowl was slowly working its way onto his face again.
"What is it, Harry? Is there something else I can do for you?"
Harry fingered the cloth he was lying on, trying to force his mind into motion. It was so hard to think.
"W-where...?" He tried to ask, motioning to the room at large. Mrs Weasley seemed to understand, because she answered.
"We're at Hogwarts. In the Hospital wing, more closely." She said. "I really should call for Poppy." She added worriedly. Harry stiffened. She'd call for someone to hurt him now, he knew it. But then he paused. Hogwarts. He knew that place. And he was certain that it really was a place, because he'd been there. Hogwarts... wasn't that a school? It didn't really sound like the name of a school, though, so he wasn't sure. "Here comes Poppy now." Mrs. Weasley told him merrily. Harry decided to wait and see what would happen (not that he had much of a choice) before coming to a conclusion. He heard footsteps approaching hurriedly.
"Mr. Potter!" A female voice exclaimed, causing Harry to cringe. At least it wasn't Bellatrix. "I'm so glad to see you awake." She greeted him. Harry said nothing, simply waiting patiently to find out what she wanted. "I'll have to run a few diagnostic spells, but don't you worry; it's nothing that will hurt or even bring you slight discomfort." She assured him briskly. As if he was going to trust her. Harry steeled himself for what was to come, his mind slowly drifting to what he hoped would be a better place. As he thought about it... he had never woken up to feel even remotely as comfortable as he did now. He wasn't exactly in pain, he was lying on something soft and he felt warm and dry. He placed a hand on his chest and couldn't feel any open wounds at all. It was all very puzzling. And then he felt the sensation of magic entering his body. Harry flinched violently away from the new witch, expecting the pain to claw through him any moment now.
"Shh...It's alright, Harry." Mrs Weasley squeezed his hand again. "It'll be over in a moment." She cooed. Despite his better knowing, Harry felt himself slowly relax. "Well?" She demanded after a while, her voice soft. Harry doubted it was directed to him.
"He's better." Came the answer after a heartbeat.
"But?" Mrs Weasley sounded apprehensive. Silence filled the room a moment. Instead of answering her, though, she addressed her patient.
"Mr. Potter. Why won't you look at either of us? In fact, I don't think I've seen you look at anything while I've been here." She pointed out worriedly. Harry could hear the woman pretending to be Mrs Weasley gasp. He frowned again.
"It's hard to look at things when it's dark." He managed to mutter. His voice still wasn't willing to cooperate fully. The two women seemed to be frozen on the spot.
"What?" Mrs Weasley sounded on the brink of fainting. Poppy, on the other hand, actually swore and took a firm hold of her wand. And before either of them could react, she was waving it in front of Harry's face. He would have shied away from the motion, if it hadn't been for the fact that he couldn't move any further back. Poppy must have tried every spell she knew, because the moment stretched on, before she finally let her hand come to a rest by her side.
"What did those, those...those Death Eaters do to you?" She exclaimed angrily, frustration lacing her voice. She was holding her wand so tightly that her knuckles were white. Harry tried to keep away from her; not the easiest task when he couldn't actually see her.
"You know what you did..." Harry answered flatly. Both women seemed to freeze.
"Harry, dear." Mrs Weasley began hesitantly. "You don't really think... that Poppy and I are Death Eaters... Do you?" She didn't sound too sure of herself. Harry frowned. What else would they be? They appeared to pick up on his puzzlement, because one of the women slowly sat down on the bed next to him.
"Harry." It was Poppy. "Don't you remember your escape? You came here, to Hogwarts, barely alive. I've been healing you and nurturing you back to health these last two weeks." She explained.
"I'm..."Harry's voice broke and he tried again. "I'm free?" He didn't dare hope. That would be just like Bellatrix... make him think he was free and then hit him with a Cruciatus. He tensed at the thought. "Right. I'll go back to sleep now." It was evident he didn't believe them. Mrs Weasley sighed and patted his hand comfortingly.
"Of course, dear. Take the time you need. I'll be here when you wake up again." She promised. Harry wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a threat or not.
It took another week before Harry was lucid enough to begin to understand his situation. The only people he met were Poppy and Mrs Weasley...If they now were who they claimed to be. He wasn't completely convinced, but had begun to relax, since he hadn't been tortured once since he'd woken up in this strange place. When he was recovered enough to sit up in bed, awake, for the entire day, Poppy and Mrs Weasley decided it was time to confront him.
"Harry." Mrs Weasley began. "We need to talk." She reached out and clasped his hand in hers. He nodded, to imply he had heard.
"We need to convince you of the truth." Poppy continued briskly, determinedly. "We are. Not. Death Eaters."
"If you say so."
"Harry. What can I say to convince you of who I am?" Mrs Weasley asked tiredly.
Harry considered the question for a long time, "What did Mrs Weasley give me in Christmas present my first Christmas?" Harry asked mutedly.
"Your first Christmas, dear?" He sounded confused, and Harry had to suppress a grim smile. "Well, the first gift I ever gave you was a knitted sweater." She said. Harry blinked. "Along with some home-made fudge."
"My fourth year?"
"A green, knitted sweater with a black dragon design." She answered without hesitating this time, a note of pride in her voice. Harry was trying to think of something to ask that could prove that they were lying to him. He wouldn't be able to maintain his sanity if he believed them, and he then turned out to still be in the hands of the Death Eaters.
"When did I meet the Weasley family for the first time?"
"At King's Cross. You needed help to get through the barrier." She smiled warmly at the memory. Harry swallowed.
"What means of transportation was used the first time I arrived at the Burrow, and who picked me up?" Harry doubted anyone would know this, except for those involved. Molly pursed her lips at the memory.
"Fred and George, along with Ronald." She said flatly, disapproving. "And they took Arthur's Ford Anglia. Without permission." She added with a frown. Harry couldn't think of anything to say, so he simply nodded. He rubbed a hand over his eyes, frustrated with his lack of sight.
"You still can't see?" Poppy asked, noticing the motion.
Harry shook his head. "No." He admitted despondently. The mediwitch grumbled something incoherent under her voice. "So let's say I believe you." He began, ignoring the dark muttering. "What happens now?" He asked suspiciously.
"You should just focus on getting better, dear." Mrs Weasley patted his hand gently. Harry tried not to wince.
Everything seemed to pass in a blur after that. Not that he could see anything. Harry slowly accepted the fact that he had managed to escape. He still wasn't entirely sure of how he had managed to do that, though. He could vaguely remember being dragged from his cell and then dumped on what felt like cold, damp grass. Someone must have helped him... He couldn't fathom who that person might've been. Not that he spent much time pondering on that; he had much more pressing matters to be depressed about. His lack of sight being at the core. He couldn't fight Voldemort like this! He couldn't even fight a ruddy first year like this, damn it.
Albus Dumbledore was sitting alone in his office, enjoying a nice cup of tea while he tried not to think of all the paperwork awaiting his attention. He was the only one still awake in the castle. Hogwarts was almost always bustling with children, but for in the late hours of the night. Albus still had some things to take care of before he could retire for the night. Thus, he was sitting by his desk, procrastinating. He heaved a heavy sigh, put the cup down and picked up an opened letter. It was a letter of resignation from one of his professors; Mr Telum, Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. It seemed impossible to keep those professors on his staff for more than a year, and professor Telum had sent him the letter the same evening; apparently, the man was about to get married. Just as he was about to pick up a quill and write a reply, conceding with the request, he felt a surge of power ripple through the wards. Albus shot out of his chair and was heading down the stairs before he had really registered what had happened. He knew where the disturbance had occurred. He hurried to the Great Hall, and stopping dead in the grand door opening, scanning the supposedly empty room. Except, it wasn't entirely empty. A lone man was slowly, gingerly picking himself up from the floor. Albus watched him for a long moment, both curious and wary. It was, after all, not possible for just anyone to challenge Hogwarts' wards. Whoever this mysterious man was, he was sure to be fairly powerful. The man reached out a hand, found the closest bench and pulled himself up on it, leaning back against the table.
"What in the bloody hell was that?" Albus could hear him muttering darkly to himself. "As if I haven't got enough problems already. Damn Moody, not watching my back." He added with a grimace and a wince.
"Excuse me, young man." Albus spoke up from the door. The name of his old friend hadn't eluded him. The man froze before Albus had even finished the sentence. He slowly turned towards him, and Albus became aware of his pale, green eyes and the way the skin over and around his eyes was riddled by numerous, thin scars. They were crossing his face, but were focused over his eyes. Albus took in the unfocused gaze and wondered if the supposed injury had affected his sight. "If I may be so bold to ask, who are you, what are you doing here, and how in the world did you bypass the wards?" Albus kept his voice neutral, awaiting the strangers reaction. The man was frowning now.
"Professor Dumbledore?" He sounded hesitant, as if the mere thought was impossible.
"In the flesh." Albus couldn't quite suppress the small smile. The stranger blinked several times. He then did the one thing Albus could have never guessed or anticipated. He laughed. "Is there a problem?"
"Of course not! I've just finally lost my mind!" The stranger snorted, trying to compose himself. "Or the Death Eaters are trying to get to me again." He added darkly, the light mood immediately dissipating. Albus felt his chest constrict at his words, and took a step towards him.
"You're being chased by Death Eaters?" He demanded sharply. "I didn't know there were any left. At least not in the vicinity of Hogwarts." Of course, he knew that not all of them had been caught, yet.
"What?" The man frowned.
"I don't know where you've been the last few weeks, but Voldemort was defeated a month ago." He told him, not able to keep the relief out of his voice.
"What!?" The stranger leapt to his feet. "Impossible! That's simply not possible!" He sounded bewildered. He raised a hand to his face and pulled his fingers down his face, over his eyes. "No one could have killed him?" The question was muttered more to himself, than to Albus, he realized, but answered nonetheless.
"He was vanquished while trying to murder young Harry Potter." He told him serenely. Again, the stranger froze. He slowly, almost mechanically, turned towards the headmaster. His had dropped from his face, and Albus could see the look of utmost shock on his face. If he didn't know better, he thought he could see traces of horror mingled with the shock.
"What...W-what year is it?" He demanded suddenly, sounding frantic. Albus frowned. Surely this poor soul hadn't been away, hiding, for so long he didn't even know the year?
"1981." He answered, almost yelping when the man collapsed onto the floor. A manic laughter echoed between the walls of the empty Great Hall.
"Great. I've finally snapped." The man muttered to himself between bouts of laughter. "Those idiots at the ministry might have been right when they wanted to put me away at St. Mingo's. I've lost my mind...Death by insanity. Wonder if that's what they'll write on the tombstone? Harry Potter, famous Boy-Who-Lived. Bloody lost his mind and died." He continued to mutter incoherently to himself. The longer he lay there, the darker the mood in the room seemed to get. Albus shook himself out of whatever spell he'd been under and slowly walked up to the man. There was one thing he had said that had caught his attention.
"You never told me your name." He pointed out softly, carefully. This man didn't seem to be in the best mental state. Suddenly, the man jerked into and upright position.
"Has Sirius been arrested yet?" He demanded to know. The question seemed to be out of the blue, but it only confirmed further what Albus had begun to suspect.
"Yes. He was arrested a few weeks ago." He answered carefully. "He-"
"Has he been sent to Azkaban yet?" The man interrupted.
Albus frowned. "You seem awfully certain about this. As a matter of fact, yes. But he might as well be given the Dementor's kiss." Albus watched curiously, waiting to see what reaction this might get.
"NO!" The man was on his feet faster than Albus would have thought possible. "They can't do that!" He sounded horrified. He pulled his hands through his hair.
"Calm yourself." Albus said, tiring of the lack of answers. All he got was more questions. "First of all; Who are you?" He demanded, making his voice firm, if not hard. The man stilled.
"My name is Harry Potter." He said with a bleak smile. "But I doubt you will believe that, considering what you've just told me." He added in a mutter.
"I must admit it seems unlikely." Albus eyes him seriously. "May I suggest we take this to my office?" He added after an uncomfortable silence. The man began to nod and then frowned.
"Where are we?" He turned his head this way and that, trying to get a feel for the vast room.
"The Great Hall." Albus answered him shortly, leading the way to his office. As the man followed him, and he could hear him mutter to himself again.
"Always the Great Hall... Fate must have some sort of perverse desire for me to always end up in the damn room, and in the weirdest ways possible. Never asks what I want." He continued to mumble to himself all the way to Albus' office. He had to suppress several smiles as he could hear words like 'idiot Magic', 'dubious arrival manners' and 'blasted old fools'. Once back in his office, he offered a chair to this man who claimed to be an almost two year old toddler, and then seated himself.
"I take it you're not over enthusiastic about this situation." Albus couldn't help the smile stretching his lips. The man scowled.
"I thought that was obvious." He snapped, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Albus watched as he took a deep breath and then visibly forced himself to relax. "This is a bloody impossible nightmare." He added, just for good measure. Fawkes, Albus' phoenix, stirred on his perch and looked over at the new addition to the room. He let out a welcoming trill and flew over to the man's lap. The man stilled and slowly began to caress the large bird.
"Fawkes." He greeted softly. Albus stared at the two of them.
"He doesn't take to strangers often." He commented, ignoring the fact that he had known his familiar's name. "There must be something special about you."
"We've met before." The man waved his comment aside. "Fawkes, I've not seen you since..." His voice drifted off and he let out a heavy sigh. "Are you sure this isn't some kind of prank? An elaborate ruse from the ministry to get me shipped off to the Loony bin?" There was an almost pleading note to his voice.
"I'm afraid not." Albus frowned. "Why would the ministry want you out of their way? Everyone loves Harry Potter and considers him the Hero and Savior of the Wizarding world."
The man snorted. "For now." He dismissed it flatly. "You said Voldemort was 'killed' last month? Well, he'll be back in..." He thought for a moment. "...Fourteen years."
Albus felt dread grip him. "Fourteen years..." He breathed. He had wondered why the man had intoned the word -killed- with such sarcasm. "How?" He demanded next, rubbing at his temples.
"Well... He used some sort of ritual." Mr Potter said dryly. And Albus couldn't make himself doubt the man's word anymore. Not the way he talked about it. "Bones from the Father, unknowingly given. Flesh from the Servant, willingly sacrificed. And Blood from an Enemy, forcibly taken." He sounded cut off from his words, as if he was commenting on the bland weather.
"You seem awfully well informed." Albus frowned. Mr Potter scoffed.
"I was the source of the blood." And he rolled up the right sleeve of his shirt, revealing an arm riddled with scars. "This scar here, is where Wormtail cut me to get my blood." He recounted dryly, tapping an ugly scar in the crook of his arm. Albus felt a sense of foreboding dread and terror. He had read about that ritual, once. It had given him nightmares for weeks, not because of the ingredients. No, he had been horrified at the thought of anyone actually needing the ritual. "After all, I had already killed him once, and prevented him from regaining his power twice by then. Plus, he wanted a way to circumvent my Mother's protection."
Albus let out a sigh and leaned back in his chair. This was all so much to take in. "I can't say I doubt your identity any longer." He stated tiredly. "But what are you doing here?" He asked, eyeing the man.
"I haven't got a clue." He answered with a frown.
"You mentioned a Moody. Was that Alastor Moody, perchance?" He decided to try and solve a few of the riddles he had been presented with. A sharp nod answered him. "What are your relation with him?"
"Well... Do you want the whole story of just what he might have to do with me being here?" Mr Potter asked slowly, trying to focus.
"You might as well tell the whole story." Albus refilled his cup with tea after offering his guest, who declined with a shake of his head.
"I first met Alastor Mad-Eye Moody in my fourth year at Hogwarts. Or the following year; it depends on how you see it." He began absentmindedly. He continued before Albus could ask. "Anyway. He was our new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. I believe he only agreed to the position as a favour to you. As it turned out, that man was a Death Eater in disguise under the effect of Polyjuice potion. He used certain circumstances that year to kidnap me and bring me before Voldemort in order to restore him, with the help of Wormtail." Mr Potter shrugged. "Turns out the real Moody had been kept in his trunk the entire year." He was silent for some time, allowing Albus to absorb the thought. "A few years later, he's the one who helped me out of a severe depression and helped me train for what I had to do."He raised a hand to his eyes, seemingly without noticing it. "It was under his guidance I learned how to 'see'." He murmured.
"Pardon?" Albus leaned forward, intrigued by what that implied.
"I'm blind." He sent off a wry smile. "Courtesy of a hand-full of Death Eaters."
Albus blinked. "I never would have guessed." He admitted. "I thought there might be something wrong with your sight, but I wasn't suspecting a complete lack of it. How do you manage so well?" He ignored the fact that he had fired off too many questions at once. Mr Potter smiled.
"Did you know that magic is everywhere?" He asked, tracing a hand over the surface of the desk between them. "Like this desk. It has been used by numerous Headmasters and Headmistresses; the most powerful men and women of their generation. They have spent countless hours in front of it, using it and thus, ingrained it with their magic. The wood has absorbed magic to a point where it's almost sentient. This desk exudes a feeling of calm and patience." He said thoughtfully, feeling the worn, smooth wood. Albus was baffled.
"You mean to tell me you sense your surroundings with magic?" He frowned, trying to understand.
"In a sense, yes." Harry inclined his head. "But I can feel the world around me with the help of magic, not just magic itself." He shrugged. "In here it's almost like standing in a furnace. If you don't count the fact that it's not scorching hot." He smiled thinly.
"I think I understand." Albus said slowly. "It's an admirable feat."
"Born out of necessity... but thank you." Harry leaned back, petting Fawkes. "So what now?"
Albus sat quietly for a moment. "You still haven't told me how you ended up here." He pointed out, calmer now.
"Ah." Harry said, a small frown finding its way back on his face. "I honestly don't know."
"Then, what is the last thing you can remember before ending up in the Great Hall?"
Harry drummed his fingers against the headmaster's desk for a moment, lost in thought. "I was trying to get home... Away from the battlefield, really." He muttered with a shrug.
"Battlefield?" Albus inquired softly. Did that mean what he thought it did?
"Yes. I finally defeated Voldemort, a few hours ago." Harry didn't sound particularly proud of this fact. "I was ambushed by two Death Eaters who still lingered around; they caught me off-guard, and then I was here." He shrugged.
Albus frowned. "How old are you?" He suddenly asked. Harry blinked.
"Uh, twenty one." He said slowly. "Why?"
"You mean to tell me Voldemort's been at large since you were fourteen? Without anyone managing to kill him until now?"
"...How is that possible?" He asked, exasperatedly.
"Well. The first year, the ministry refused to listen to me and yourself, as we told them he was back. They preferred to stick their heads in the sand, and hope that if they ignored him, Voldemort would fall into an insurmountable depression and off himself." The bitterness in his voice was palpable. "It took a year -and the appearance of Voldemort at the ministry- to open their eyes. By that time, they had dragged both your and my names through the mud all year, discrediting us and insisting that I was a lying, attention-seeking brat, and you a senile old fool." He scoffed. "The year of free reign allowed Voldemort to spread out and worm his way pretty much anywhere he wanted." He shrugged. "Things only got worse after that."
"That sounds..." He didn't quite know what to say. Albus tiredly rubbed his face with his hands.
"Not the most inspiring story, I know." Potter commented flatly. "The glorious tale of Harry Potter, the bloody Boy-Who-Lived. It's just my luck to find myself stuck in the past once it's all finally over." His voice was laced with bitterness.
"Well...I'll try to see if there's something I can do about that." They were both silent a while. "You said you came here from a battlefield." Albus slowly said, thinking back to their conversation.
"Yeah, so what?" Harry huffed.
"Are you injured?" He scanned the man over, but couldn't really see any obvious signs.
Harry shrugged. "I was just hit with a few Crucio's. Nothing to worry about." He dismissed it with a wave of his hand.
"Just a few-!" Albus exclaimed indignantly. "My dear boy, that's nothing to take lightly. Come with me now, right away." He took his hand and pulled him to his feet. Dislodged, Fawkes let out an indignant sound and flew back to his perch while Albus pulled Harry to the fire place.
"You know how to use the floo? Of course you do." He answered his own question at the glare he received. "We're going to St. Mungo's, right away."
"Fine." Harry didn't have the energy to argue.
It didn't take long for him to be swamped by healers and nurses, ushered into a bed and given several potions after a few hasty diagnostic spells. Albus stayed with him the entire time.
"So what are you going to do while I research this?" Albus asked a few hours later. Harry scowled at him from his place on the bed. The healers had fussed over him for an incredible amount of time, and Harry found it all immensely annoying.
"First of all; I'm getting out of here at the first opportunity." Harry growled. Albus chuckled softly, amused by the young man's predicament. The nurses had been a tad bit more enthusiastic than what was generally necessary. And considering the late hour, they didn't have much else to do. He didn't know if he knew it, but Harry was a rather handsome young man, despite the scars.
"I think we need to find another name for you to use while you are here." Albus said thoughtfully, ignoring the poison in Harry's voice.
"Really? You mean I can't go around with the same name as a famous baby?" He snorted, but then relaxed with a tired sigh. Albus watched him intently. He looked so tired. "Fine. What about Hadrian? It's similar enough."
Albus nodded, "And last name?" Harry shrugged. "Up to me, then? Alright." Albus sifted through is mind in search of an appropriate name. "Hadrian Orsus." He finally said, after a long stretch of silence.
"Orsus? Why not. Might as well take that as anything else." Hadrian shrugged. "And then what?" He asked flatly. A sudden thought had struck Albus while he had been waiting.
"Have you ever thought about teaching, Hadrian?" He smiled. The newly named Hadrian frowned.
"Once or twice, yes. It's not like I really dared make plans for the future while I still had to deal with Old Voldy. But, yes. I even taught a club, of sorts, my fifth year at Hogwarts."
"What kind of club?"
"The DA. It stood for Dumbledore's Army." He grinned suddenly. "The ministry was terrified that you was training the students into an army to overtake them with, so they invented some crappy law to force a Defense teacher of their choosing on you. She was worthless; wouldn't even let us use magic during class." Hadrian rolled his eyes. "So my friends convinced me to teach them and, I quote; a few of others. Ended up with people from almost every year, except the first years." He thought back. "I actually enjoyed it."
"I'm assuming you're capable in the subject of Defense Against the Dark Arts." Albus' smile widened.
"Yes. It was my best subject." He shrugged again. "Had to be, to survive."
"Would you like the position?" He asked. Hadrian blinked, first once, then twice.
"Pardon?" He looked shocked. "You're actually offering the position to a blind stranger who claims to come from the future?" He asked incredulously.
"Yes." Albus answered simply, a jovial smile on his face, his eyes twinkling. If he could see, Hadrian would have stared at him. The silence stretched on as Hadrian sat there, slack jawed and with a shocked expression on his face. "So? Are you willing?"
"I suppose." He finally conceded. "It's not like I have anything better to do..." He muttered. "And I'm stuck here, for God knows how long." He rubbed his face tiredly.
"Excellent! Mr Telum resigned just last night, but he will continue to teach until the end of term. You'll be able to acclimate to this new time until September." Albus clapped his hands together. "I'll go talk to the healers and then we'll go back to Hogwarts. I'll help you settle into your quarters and introduce you to the house-elves." He was all brisk business now. Hadrian narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
"You're just glad you won't have to worry about the curse on the position anymore, aren't you." He accused knowingly. Albus cleared his throat.
"Partly." He admitted. He wasn't fond of lying. "But it gives you a secure position, as well as a livelihood." He pointed out. "And from what you've told me today, there's a lot of things we have to do these next few days. Having you close at hand, at Hogwarts, is simply convenient." And he walked out the door without giving Hadrian a chance to retort.
The next week found Hadrian with little to do, other than get used to his new rooms. Once he took up position as a professor, he would move into the rooms connected to the Defense office and classroom. As it now were, professor Telum still occupied those rooms. His temporary rooms were located close to Dumbledore's office. It still felt odd; the thought of himself as a Hogwarts professor... Dumbledore was out of the castle most of the time, spending almost all of his waking hours at the ministry. Hadrian wasn't entirely sure what it was he was doing, and hadn't asked. He was lounging in his sitting room, laying on the sofa in front of the fire, the next Thursday, when Dumbledore entered.
"Hadrian." He addressed him seriously. He jumped to his feet, reaching for his wand before he got a chance to register who had entered. "Admirable reflexes." Was the only reaction he got.
Hadrian cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Yes?"
"I need to talk to you." And he stepped further into the room and sat down in the armchair. "I've managed to ensure Mr Black a fair trial." He told him evenly. Hadrian sucked in a sharp breath and listened even closer. "What I need to know is; is there some way you can produce foolproof evidence of his innocence? And I am convinced of your belief that he is just that: innocent."
Hadrian thought about it a moment and then felt a grim smile stretch his lips. "Yes. I know where I can find proof not even Barty Crouch can condemn." He showed off his teeth in a feral mockery of a smile. Albus studied him warily. He didn't want to know what had caused him to gain such an expression.
"Can you get it for tomorrow?" He asked, his voice calm and serene. Hadrian thought about it.
"Are you on friendly terms with Arthur Weasley and his family?"
Albus started. "I am... You're not insinuating that they are-?"
"Not at all." Hadrian waved a hand in front of him, dismissing the idea. "Don't be absurd." Albus gave a faint smile. "But I need access to their house, and one of their sons in particular." He said. The headmaster studied him intently for a long moment.
"And are you intending to put that son in any harm?"
"What? Of course not! The Weasley's are...were, pretty much my family!" Hadrian was trying very hard not to get insulted by Albus' protectiveness. He was after all, close to a complete stranger. Albus nodded, pleased.
"I'll tell him to expect you early tomorrow morning. You can then go to the ministry together, for Sirius' trial."
"Aurthur might be a useful witness... What time is it?" He asked, suddenly nervous. His actions would determine the course of Sirius' life. It was also the first major change he would do to the timeline. He wondered what his Sirius would have been like if he had escaped Azkaban altogether. What impact would it have made on his life? Maybe this Harry would find out.
"It begins at nine. I'll tell Arthur to expect you around half past seven. Is that enough time?"
"Plenty." Hadrian confirmed. "At least if everything goes according to plan." He added darkly under his breath. Albus pretended he hadn't heard that last part.
"That's decided then." He rose to his feet and moved towards the portrait. He paused as he reached out towards the frame. "You'll be able to find your way to The Burrow on your own, I gather?" He sounded almost bemused.
"Yes. It won't be a problem." Hadrian shrugged. Albus nodded and then left him to his own devices. After a brief moment of deliberation, Hadrian figured he might as well go to bed early. He was looking forward to tomorrow!
Hadrian took in the sight if The Burrow -well, not sight, per se- relishing in the familiarity of it. He took a deep, strengthening breath and then walked through the wards and approached the door. He knocked firmly three times and then waited. He could hear the sound of several playing children inside, as well as the sound of thundering footsteps running up and down the stairs. A different set of feet moved towards the door, and Hadrian watched as a tall figure appeared in the door.
Hadrian cleared his throat uncomfortably. "I believe Albus talked to you about my visit?" He wasn't sure how it would be to see the family he loved so many years before he had actually met them. And wow, if that thought wasn't disturbing, he didn't know what was.
"Ah, yes." Arthur sounded puzzled, if not surprised. "Professor Dumbledore asked me to allow you into my home. Hadrian Orsus, was it?"
"Yes. I'll be taking the position as Defense Against the Dark Arts, this autumn." He said with a faint smile. Arthur ushered him inside and closed the door again quickly, presumably before any children could slip passed.
"Really?" An excited voice exclaimed from the kitchen table. Hadrian tilted his head; it sounded vaguely familiar.
"Ah, Bill will be starting his first year at Hogwarts come September." He could hear the warm smile in Arthur's voice.
"You will be one of my professors?" Eleven year old Bill practically squealed. Hadrian was rather shocked. He had no idea what to do with the information.
"Well, yes." He answered awkwardly. He had never even imagined what Bill might be like as a child. Before he could stumble about further in this new, terrifying subject, Molly rescued him.
"Arthur? Who was at the door?" She asked coming into the kitchen from the sitting room. She was carrying a baby in her arms. Hadrian would have stared, had he been able to. She must be carrying Ginny... the woman he loved. As an infant. He felt almost faint. "Oh, Albus' guest." She sounded intrigued.
Crying from the other room interrupted whatever she had been about to say next. "Fred! Goerge! Stop tormenting your younger brother! If I have to come in there one more time, I'll stick your lips together!" She roared over her shoulder at the sudden wailing. A toddler came running into the kitchen, wrapping himself around his mother's leg.
"We did nothing." The first twin emerged, looking far too innocent.
"We didn't even touch him." The other one followed, an identical expression on his face. Molly glowered at the two of them, stroking Ron's hair soothingly at the same time.
"Leave your brother alone." She ordered sternly. All in all; it was pandemonium. Not that Hadrian didn't find it inviting, it was just such a far cry from battlefields and Death Eaters and duelling Voldemort, and the transition was a bit much for his nerves. That's about the time Fred and George spotted him, standing uncertainly by the door.
"A guest!" They both exclaimed at the same time. "What cool scars!"
"How did you get them?"
"Do you have more?"
"Have you ever fought a troll?"
"Can you tell us stories of how you got your scars?"
"Enough!" Molly shrieked at her children. The twins' questions had been fired so rapidly, Hadrian hardly had time to think. Were all children like this? He was certain he hadn't been. But then again, questions hadn't exactly been encouraged at the Dursley's.
"Children." Arthur spoke up sternly. His tone of voice seemed to gain everyone's attention. "It is not polite to ask someone about scars like you just did. Did you ever stop to consider it might be painful for Mr Orsus here to think about how he got them?" He asked his children gravely. Hadrian allowed Molly to usher him into a chair. He felt a little faint. From memories, the onslaught of sounds or the fact that he was seeing his family almost twenty years in the past, he didn't know.
"Are you alright, dear? You look a little pale."
Hadrian forced out a pain smile. "The story of how I got these scars is no story for children." He admitted quietly. Both Molly and Arthur seemed to understand, and quickly directed their children's attention elsewhere. They had just come out of a war, after all.
It appeared the family had been in the process of settling down for breakfast, and Hadrian soon found a plate in front of him. He ate little, listening to the conversations around the table instead. Percy had arrived a few minutes ago, and he was gushing about his new pet. He sounded so unlike the uptight man Hadrian had come to know, that he hardly believed it was the same person. It did, however, reassure him. He had been right. He began to ask careful questions about pets in general. He was told that they had a family own named Errol. Charlie told him enthusiastically about the frogs he caught in the pond, as well as all about their garden Gnomes. Percy then proudly told him about the injured rat he had found a few weeks back and had nursed back to health. Before Breakfast was done, Hadrian excused himself, asking where the bathroom was. Arthur pointed him in the right direction, and he hurried off to the stairs. But instead of going to the bathroom, Hadrian continued to Percy's room. He closed the door quietly behind him, scanning his surroundings closely. It didn't take long for him to locate the animagus. Hadrian stepped up to the small cage Percy evidently kept him in, and studied the disguised wizard for some time. Peter had betrayed his father no more than little over a month ago. The thought was dizzying. And enraging. Hadrian scowled as he raised his wand.
"Stupefy." He whispered the spell, felt the sleeping rat get hit and then quickly replaced it with the rat he had purchased the same morning. Before coming to The Burrow, he had Apparated to Diagon Alley. He had been the first customer of the day in the pet-shop, and had even taken care to cut off the right toe and then mend the small wound. He had made sure to make the shop-keeper pick out a brown rat. Percy would never know the difference. He stuffed Wormtail into his pocket (not particularly careful not to harm him) and then hurried down to the kitchen again. Arthur smiled as he approached the table.
"You found your way alright?" He asked.
"No problem." Hadrian tried to return the smile. He felt more grim satisfaction that anything else at the moment, though. "What's the time?" He asked instead of dwelling on the traitorous Death Eater in his pocket.
"Almost eight thirty." Arthur told him with a sigh. "I suppose we should get going." He got up from his chair, and was almost immediately swarmed by his children. "Alright. Alright! I'll be home again before you know it." He chuckled. Hadrian smiled the first true smile since his miraculous -or disastrous, depending on your definition- return to the past.
"You get used to them fairly quickly." Molly commented beside him. Hadrian jumped, forcing his hand to stay away from his wand.
"I can tell this is a happy, loving home." He answered mutedly. He could practically feel Molly's beaming smile.
"Alright, Mr Orsus; I think it's high time we get going. Or we're going to miss Mr Black's trial." He didn't sound particularly fond of Sirius, but Hadrian didn't blame him. Pretty much the entire wizarding world hated Sirius right now, for what he had supposedly done to the Potters.
"What? You're leaving already?" It was Bill's voice. Harry turned towards him.
"You'll see me again before you know it." He gave a lopsided smile. "I'll be at Hogwarts."
"And he'll make sure to owl us instantly if you do anything you shouldn't." Molly put in. "Or if you let your grades slip." She added thoughtfully.
"Right." Hadrian agreed sheepishly. He was still getting used to this entire professor idea.
After a number of hugs and good bye's, Hadrian and Arthur finally exited the wards. Arthur sighed contentedly.
"To the ministry then." And the two of them spun on the spot, disappearing from sight.