It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway across the world.
Harry didn’t stop to think of the consequences. He didn’t stop to think of the ‘what ifs?’ He simply took the vial of potion that Hermione made all-those-years ago, and swallowed it in one go. It burned his throat as it went down but he didn’t care as he leaned his hands against the oak desk and hung his head.
A dull thrum rang in his ears and a burn pulsed through his veins, so searing hot that he was sure he would ignite at any second. He looked up and caught sight of his reflection in the window. An incandescent glow danced beneath his skin and the room brightened around him. His body emitted light from the inside-out, growing ever-more-brilliant, until it burst from his fingertips. Every corner of the room, every crack in the walls, every cornice in the woodwork was illuminated.
Then; in a burst of dazzling, white flames; he vanished.
“I thought I might find you here.”
Minerva didn’t turn at the sound of her sister’s voice, just continued to stare at her reflection. She could have sworn, just a second ago, that someone entirely different had been staring back. An older woman, in robes of emerald green, peering over-top square spectacles.
It was unnerving.
“Minerva? I need to ask you a favour,” Frances continued.
“Which is?” Minerva asked.
She turned away from the mirror and leaned against the vanity, eyebrows raised.
“There’s a man who has just come in. We’ve never seen wounds like it and… well, none of us can just stand around waiting for him to come to. With Grindlewald sending people in every thirty seconds…” Her voice trailed off and she bit her bottom lip.
“And…?” Minerva pressed gently.
“We’ll be busy. Can you just check on him every hour or so?”
Frances looked far too tired, Minerva thought, and it would no doubt be killing her to ask for any form of help.
“Of course,” she answered. “Every hour or so.”
“What on earth do you think has happened to him?”
“I’m not sure, maybe…”
Harry opened his eyes to find the dark, blurry forms of a man and woman at the foot of his bed. He winced as he tried to sit upright, and put a hand to his stomach as nausea threatened to overwhelm him. His head pounded, his body felt bruised, beaten and burned like he had been sucked into a fiery abyss and spat out the other side. The bile he fought to push down continued to rise in his throat and he fought hard not to retch. The man flicked his wand and a sphere of light hovered above the bed, casting a soft glow in the room.
The woman conjured a bowl and handed it over as his body heaved again. “Here.”
Harry didn’t have time to thank her as he vomited up the meagre contents of his stomach. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to take offence and waited patiently as he continued to heave until he couldn’t bring anything else up. She took the bowl from him after he had finished and vanished it with a casual wave of her wand.
“Do you know where you are?” she asked gently.
Harry glanced around the room, wanting to answer ‘yes’, but nothing about this room was familiar. Carefully ordered potions housed behind glass lined one wall, books another, and he could see the brightly-lit hallway outside through the large inner window. There looked to be a screen separating the room. It was almost like a…
“The hospital?” he ventured.
The woman gave him a small smile. “Nearly,” she said. “You’re in Saint Mungos. You were found unconscious in the street a few days ago.” She frowned as she looked him up-and-down, taking note of the bruises and burns on his skin. “You’ve certainly been in strife.”
You don’t know the half of it.
Harry opened his mouth to respond but there was a mad commotion that caught everybody’s attention.
“Montgomery!” a frantic voice shrieked. “Frances!”
The woman looked towards the hallway and Harry’s mouth fell open as a man was brought into the outside room. He gushed blood from innumerable wounds, staining the bedsheets crimson, and Harry wasn’t surprised when both Healers left the room in a whirl of robes. They were at the man’s side in seconds, casting healing spells, and summoned blood-replenishing potions that they tipped down the man’s throat.
Harry looked away. It was all too familiar for him, too much like the battles with Voldemort, where he had seen more than one soldier with similar wounds. He sank into the pillow behind him and closed his eyes, wondering where or rather when the hell he had landed. Harry let his body relax, focused on his breathing, and had nearly fallen asleep when a voice spoke.
“Good to see you’re with us.”
His eyes snapped open and a girl, no more than sixteen-or-so, looked back. She leaned against the doorframe, one ankle crossed over the other, arms folded. She exuded confidence, in herself and her abilities, and dangerously toed the line between that and arrogance.
She reminded him of Hermione.
Her gaze softened, and she crossed to his side to pick up his glasses which rested on the bedside table. “Perhaps you’ll feel better with these,” she said, handing them to Harry. He immediately slipped them onto his nose, breathing a relieved sigh as the world slid into sharp focus.
The girl said nothing, just nodded. Harry could see clearly that she was far too young to be a qualified Healer, which begged the question: ’what was she doing here?’
“You met my sister, Healer Frances, earlier,” she said, answering his unspoken query. “She asked me to keep an eye on you.”
“And why are you here?”
The girl’s jaw tightened and her eyes narrowed. “My brother, Robert, was injured in the battle before last. I’ve been allowed time from school to see him.”
Harry flushed and offered an apologetic smile that she didn’t return. “I’m sorry,” he said. “That was rude.”
She stayed silent, and Harry swallowed, finding his mouth dry. He opened his mouth to ask for a drink of any kind but the girl conjured a jug of water and glass before he uttered a word and poured him a glass.
He drank quickly, finished the glass in seconds, and she immediately poured him another.
“Thank you,” he said, another glass later. “What year is it?” Harry asked eventually. A huge part of him dreaded the answer.
She raised an eyebrow. “1942.”
The last thing he remembered was the girl’s face, and her voice as she screamed for ‘Frances,’ before blackness enveloped him and he fell into nothingness.
She grabbed Robert’s hand, holding it as tight as she could, and felt a sob of relief threaten to explode from her mouth when he gave a gentle squeeze back. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and she rocked back-and-forth, never once letting her hold lessen. His grip slackened and she rose to her feet and leaned over him. “No! Don’t!” The words slid into each other, until they were a stream of utter nonsense. She squeezed his hand again, trying to bring him back.
The scene changed.
“Come along, Potter,” she whispered, holding a boy’s hand tightly. She tugged him down a hallway that she recognised from Hogwarts. “Come along… hospital wing.” The boy’s face was hidden by shadows, and she couldn’t make out even his eyes. Nonetheless, she knew he was important and that he needed to be protected. She could certainly do that. She vaguely heard another voice, but paid them no attention, just kept the boy close.
“He’s been through enough, tonight.”
The boy squeezed her hand.
Minerva woke with a start in Saint Mungos, next to Robert’s bed. He looked no different than he had when she’d fallen asleep. She glanced around the room, searching for any sign of the elusive boy from her dream, but could see no one or nothing important. Minerva yawned and leaned forward again, dismissing the dream as just that. A dream. She rested her head against her folded arms; it wasn’t particularly comfortable, propped against a bed, but she had no wish to move any time soon.
Soon enough, her eyes grew heavy, and she slipped back to sleep.
When Harry woke again, his room was empty. The girl had left the glass and water jug on his bedside table, next to his glasses, and he drank quickly. The pain through his body had dulled somewhat and he looked down at his skin and found that some of his bruises had turned yellow, while others had disappeared entirely.
He had been out for a couple of days, at least.
It was still painful to move and he gritted his teeth as he slowly swung his legs around and placed his feet upon the ground. He had been clothed in a set of pyjama bottoms, nothing else, and he glanced around the room hoping to find something, anything to wear. His eyes fell on a dressing gown and he pushed his arms through the sleeves and tied the sash around his waist before he moved into the hallway. The floor was freezing against his feet and he shivered, despite the dressing gown, as he walked through the ward. There were people in nearly all the beds; some asleep, others looking blankly ahead. He was reminded of Neville’s parents and wondered if these people had been inflicted to something similarly horrific.
He reached the end of the hall and his attention was caught by a girl sitting by a man’s bed. The girl who had given him water. She’d fallen asleep at some point but still held the man’s hand tightly.
He remembered her words. “My brother was injured in the battle before last. I’ve been allowed time from school to see him.”
She looked so much younger, asleep. Almost fragile. He stepped inside her brother’s room, wanting to do something, anything, but not knowing what. Eventually, he removed his dressing gown and draped it over her sleeping form. She didn’t wake, but snuggled into the warm fabric. He hesitated, his hand still extended, wishing he could do more.
Instead, he left without saying a word.
The next morning, the dressing gown was back where he’d found it, a note pinned to the front.