Someone is coming. I hear voices approaching. In my confusion, I try to leap to my feet, but my body remains motionless and out of my control. I was dozing, I think. Or unconscious. Can one fall into a state of unconsciousness when one is comatose? I don't know. I feel frozen and weak. The rhythm of my slowed heartbeat has gone skitterish and unsteady.
I hear voices approaching. Who?
"I can't believe they dumped him out here, he's a hero."
Potter. With that demanding and slightly whinging tone, it could be no one else.
"Everyone we lost are heroes, Harry. They gave everything they had to give to fight for the Light. There's no room inside…too much of the castle has been damaged."
Granger. A thoughtful sentiment, but for once I could use a little special treatment. If they are indeed talking about their nasty old potions professor.
"She's right, Harry. They're beyond caring what happens to them now. The git's in good company. Fred's out here too."
Damn. Of all the blasted Weasleys, I liked the twins the best. Clever and devious, the both of them. How many have we lost? Was Voldemort among the fallen? Did we win?
"Here he is, Harry."
Miss Granger's voice is directly above me. This will be my last chance. I have to move something. If I could even open my eyes the girl will notice.
"They didn't even cover him up. They just dumped him here."
Come on, old man, open your eyes.
"We'll find something to cover him, Harry." Weasley's voice was closer now. "In the castle. A tapestry or something."
That would be warmer, at least, but it wouldn't stop the inevitable. I must make them realize that I'm alive.
"Harry, Ron, give me some more light!"
The girl's voice is brusque and demanding. Immediately I can hear the swoosh of magic and see a bright light behind my closed eyelids. This is my last chance. I struggle with every ounce of my fading strength to open my eyes.
It's no use. My eyelids remain glued shut.
"What is it, Hermione?"
I'm too despondent to even care which of the boys are speaking.
"Look at his eyes. There's movement…like he's dreaming."
"Is it a reflex thing?" Trust Potter to use such specific grammar. "I mean, I've heard that dead bodies can belch and pass wind, and all sorts of things."
"I don't think so."
Warm fingers press against the cold flesh of my neck.
"I don't feel a pulse." Potter again. It's his horrid muggle upbringing getting in the way of his logic. With magical issues such as the Drought of the Living Death, checking for a pulse has never been very useful amongst wizards. I don't blame Potter, he cannot help his unfortunate upbringing, but I do hope that Weasley sets him straight.
"That isn't good enough, Harry. Not with the sort of magical mishaps a wizard can get into." It's Miss Granger that corrects him. As annoying as I've always found her in class, even I admit she's a clever baggage.
"Should we get Madame Pomfrey?"
Yes, Weasley. You absolutely should get Pomfrey. Now.
"I'd hate to disturb her over nothing." Damn it, Miss Granger. Go disturb her! "Give me a moment."
More spellwork, but the trio standing above me continue to be uncertain. If Filius couldn't tell I was alive, I'm not sure what I expect from these students. It's doubtful they would know any of the more precise medical spells which search out signs of life. My best hope is that Miss Granger will be clever enough to fetch Poppy. If Flitwick had done that in the first place, I wouldn't be lying here.
A tingle of magic flows over my body. Damn, but Granger is a clever witch. This isn't a normal medical spell. I'd bet my life that the girl made it up on the spot.
Not that my life is worth much at the moment.
It seems to take forever, but after around thirty seconds pass an audible lub dub of my failing heartbeat is amplified for all to hear.
"G-go," Miss Granger snaps with an uncharacteristic stammer. "Go get madam Pomfrey. Hurry."
Now is not the time to falter, Mr. Potter. Go get the nurse!
"He's alive, but I don't know for how long. Go on!"
Heavy footsteps rush away from us and I feel a blessed heat as Miss Granger casts a warming charm over me. She follows with a shielding charm, and then a whoosh of warm air to dry my rain soaked form. I begin to feel more myself. I can't move, but I feel less like I'm hovering on the edge of death.
I feel as if I am warm again for the first time in several decades. My hand is lifted, and small fingers wrap around my own. The girl is holding my hand. She did that back in the shrieking shack, when she thought I was dying. At that point, she must have thought me still a traitor, but she held my hand. I knew she was clever, but I hadn't known she was kind.
It is hardly surprising. At any given time there are around three hundred students at Hogwarts. Students and professors rarely socialize aside from the odd ball. As a head of house, I knew many of my Slytherins fairly well, but the students in other houses I only knew from class. Miss Granger had few friends and spent much of her free time on schoolwork. She'd seemed more like an encyclopedia than a person.
Not that I can complain about that at the moment. Miss Granger's intelligence seems to be all that kept me from dying of exposure in a pile of corpses.
The hand holding mine squeezes briefly.
"Don't worry, Professor. We'll get you sorted soon. So many dead, I don't think I could bear losing one more person. It's over now. Voldemort's dead. We won, thanks to you."
Thank you, Miss Granger. At least I know the bastard is dead. For good this time, surely. Now, no matter what happens to me, I can at last be at peace.
I drift off, to sleep or unconsciousness, I'm not certain which.
I awaken to a veritable din of noise. There's no way of telling how much time has passed. Near me, someone is retching over and over. A sound that, had I the ability to move, would tempt me to join in. Farther away a man keeps shouting.
"It's here! The monster is here at last!"
I can hear weeping, banging, and a buzz of conversation. The sounds echo, as if I am in a large area filled with people.
The Great Hall. Hadn't someone mentioned that the wounded were in the Great Hall because the infirmary had been destroyed? By the sound of things, there were a large number of wounded. How much time has passed? I would have thought the wounded would have been moved to St. Mungo's by now. Certainly the school and the Order had been on their own during the battle, but the Ministry was always more than willing to jump in and help once the danger was passed in an effort to grab some of the glory.
Perhaps with the fall of Voldemort, the Ministry was too busy sorting themselves out and rousting the Death Eaters from their ranks. Even so, the healers should have come by their own accord.
"Miss Granger, how is he doing? Any change?"
"No, Madam Pomfrey. His vitals have grown stronger, but he remains unresponsive."
"The next wave from St. Mungo's should arrive shortly. There's nothing more I can do for the poor man, I think he'd better go with the next group."
That explains it. There were enough wounded that they hadn't been able to transport them all at once. The people in most immediate need would have been taken first.
If I could move, I would drag myself out of here. Potter's word on my loyalties would be enough to sway most in the Order, but the Wizengamot won't be so forgiving. Once I'm in St Mungo's it will be a matter of time before they find me. I'll be tried and judged while I cannot speak one word in my defense.
Not that I have much to say in my defense.
"Are you sure I have to?"
It's Potter's voice, but I've lost track of the conversation around me.
"You're the only one who can. It will happen soon, I'm certain of it."
Miss Granger, but I remain clueless about the conversation.
"All right. Yeah, all right."
"You remember what I told you?"
"We went over it twenty times, Hermione. I may be thick, but I'm not that thick."
"You aren't thick, Harry. You might have a terrible tendency to rush into things, but you aren't stupid."
"I don't know. I feel like I'm always wrong about everything."
"Nonsense. All you have to remember is which tact to use based on who they send. You can do this."
"I'm not certain I can."
"Harry, you're tired is all. Get some rest. I'll wake you when it's time."
My former students fall silent. While I've known for some time that Potter is not quite the arrogant prat his father was, I'm surprised the boy seems to have so little sense of self worth. Potter was so stubborn and self assured in my classes, I assumed he was that way at all times. We truly do not know our students well.
Merlin, but I do not want to be taken to St. Mungo's. There's nothing I can do about it. I haven't managed to so much as open my eyes. I'm too exhausted to worry and my throat is so dry it seems a far more serious problem than the judgment of the thrice damned Wizengamot.
Despite the noise and chaos surrounding me in the Great Hall, I slip back into unconsciousness.
Thanks to everyone for reading, and for the kind comments. I'm having a lot of fun writing this. I'm not sure how long it will end up, maybe 6-8 chapters.
I have a new Kindle Scout Campaign for a paranormal mystery named Wyrd House. If you go to Amazon[dot]KindleScout[dot]com and nominate it, you get a free advance copy if it's selected for publication. If it's not selected, I'll self publish, so you'll get a chance to read it either way. I think my fanfic readers will enjoy it. It's contemporary, and has magic and romance as well as a mystery to solve. All the things I enjoy writing best! Thanks to those who have already supported. It means a lot to me.
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