Losses beyond imagining

Chapter 45

The potion for Harry had required an agonizing week to prepare. Hermione had transfigured the swallow’s feathers into feathery worms that needed to be added alive once the potion was boiling. Elphaba had gathered all the different flowers whereas Draco was in charge of preparing the potion. Hermione and he had fought a private battle over it as they were both equally adept at potion making.

Draco had won. Hermione had given in for various reasons, Harry being her best friend being only one them. Draco had tried to convince her that her close ties to him could affect her precision when preparing the difficult recipe. Hermione had not entirely agreed with that premise, but it soon became clear that Draco had further arguments up his sleeve.

The most important one being that if he wasn’t allowed to make it, well, it made him wonder if she still had a lingering distrust of him. Hermione had been a bit taken aback at such emotional manipulation, and had been quite offended too, eventually giving in. For a very different reason, however. Draco was a healer and prepared potions on a daily basis. She, on the other hand, only did so occasionally…

“It should be ready in a few minutes….” Draco looked up from the pewter into Hermione’s hopeful eyes. “Harry will be awake soon…” Hermione nodded silently, tears forming in her eyes. If only it would work….

At St. Mungo’s they met up with Elphaba. As they made their way to Harry’s room, they saw Ginny and her parents standing outside his door. Draco cursed inwardly. They had specifically chosen an early hour to visit Harry in order to make a private call….

“Better say you prepared the potion…” Draco whispered. “Otherwise Harry won’t get a drop…”

“I want to know what’s going on…. Or rather, I demand it!” Mrs. Weasley shrieked hoarsely. Hermione took her aside. A few minutes— and many calming gestures and sounds— later, they went into Harry’s bedroom. He looked so still and pale, Hermione thought, like Ron…. It was as if he had already traded this world…

“We should carefully drip it on his lips and tongue,” Draco said, “in the hope it will still work, even if he can’t swallow…”

“Shouldn’t we administer it through the feeding tube then?” Hermione wondered.

“Let’s try this first…”

“I’ll do it, thank you.” Ginny brusquely made for the pewter and Draco handed it over.

Gently, Ginny sat on Harry’s bed, telling him in a soothing voice what would happen, expressing the hope and expectation that everyone felt.

“How soon until..?” Hermione whispered anxiously in Draco’s ear when the first drops didn’t make any difference in Harry’s condition.

Draco murmured that he didn’t know either. It was the first time he’d ever used or made the potion himself.

“Did I see? Sorry, it must have been…. Just wishful thinking, I guess…” Molly sighed. “I thought I saw his eyes flicker…” she mumbled quietly. Arthur grabbed her hand, giving it a comforting squeeze.

“Just continue… There’s not much else we can do…” Draco said when Ginny briefly stopped, tearing up, wondering if it was hopeless…

“Let me…” Hermione sat down on the bed. Ginny gave her the pewter, standing up to cry on her father’s shoulder.

“Please, Harry, please… come back to us…” Hermione whispered, carefully letting drop after drop slip into his mouth. “You can’t leave me… not you as well…”

“I do think his eyes are….” Elphaba noticed it too. For the briefest moment, Harry’s eyes flickered, only to lay still again, seconds later.

“He won’t choke, will he?” Ginny asked, looking at Hermione.

“The drops should dissolve once they meet his tongue,” Draco answered.

“I… I think I saw it too!” Arthur became a little exited. “I did… just now!”

Hermione’s lips curled into a small smile. “It’s really working… It is…”

A few minutes later, nearly everyone had seen Harry’s eyes twitch, and the healers were summoned. They confirmed it was a change in his condition, although they continued to choose their words carefully. It wouldn’t be the first time someone improved right before their end…

Half an hour later, and half a pewter later too, Harry’s eyes were fully open but he didn’t seem to register anything. The brief happiness in the room was slipping away. Draco tried to signal Hermione to have a moment alone, but she had only eyes for Harry. Looking around, he decided to ask Elphaba instead.

Standing in the hallway, just outside the door, he voiced his concerns: “This wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? Do you think we did do something wrong? Can you remember what it said again? I’m having trouble recalling the passage….”

Elphaba furrowed her brow, citing from memory the best she could: “…it will dissolve on the instrument of speech, that wicked tongue…. opening man’s windows….” The flowery language made Draco cringe. It had never been his thing…. Fortunately, the medical books of his generation were much more precise and concise.

“But after that… Can you remember what came next?” He urged her.

“The eyes will lie still in their caves….” Elphaba whispered, “seeing the unseen. Ears hearing the unheard….”

Draco balled his fists in frustration. “But what does it mean? Is he blind? Deaf? Is he experiencing visions right now, at this very moment? He doesn’t seem to hear or notice any of us…”

Harry was seeing the unseen… hearing the unheard. It was a marvelous strange world that he had now entered. He had the distinct impression that he had been here before…. Was he back at King’s Cross? Would he meet Dumbledore again?

Half in hope, half in agony, he cried out his name. “Professor Dumbledore?! It’s me, Harry… I may need your help…”

In the misty white fog, a figure approached him. Tall and gangly… Not Professor Dumbledore…

“Ron?” Harry whispered. “It can’t be you? Am I dead for real this time?”

“You’re in the spirit world. In touch with the dead, but not so yourself…”

Harry sighed in relief. “Ron.. It’s so good to see you again…” He laughed as he hugged his friend tightly, patting him on the back. “I cannot believe this…”

Ron smiled a crooked smile. “Nor me. How’s Hermione? And Rose? And mum and dad? And…”

“They’re alright. They’re fine… They… They won’t believe me if I tell them this!”

“We don’t have long…” Ron said, suddenly sounding grave. “You will wake soon…”

“I… What…”

“You must use her own weapons against her….” Ron said. “She must be defeated by herself…. Her own reflection, her own kind…”

“Her own reflection? Like with the basilisk? Her own kind…? A descendent perhaps? Ron, what do you mean?”

It was as if Ron was pulled away by a large cord, as he slid back into the fog. “I can only give one message!” Harry heard him shout out. “Give my love to Herm….”

As suddenly as he had appeared, he had left again… Harry had no time to wonder, or worry, about it all because he suddenly woke in a hospital bed, surrounded by his friends and family.

“It worked! Harry, you’re awake!” Hermione cried jubilantly.

“What else…? After that?!” Draco was shouting at Elphaba now. “Hurry up, woman! You Muggle-loving…” he began to insult her, old prejudices resurfacing in the heat of the moment.

Elphaba raised her eyebrows. “I’m sorry? I thought you were the Muggle-loving…” she retorted with rolling eyes.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…. I’m just so worried…” Draco said, his shoulders slumping. “Why did we even consider this a good plan? Why didn’t we read more carefully?”

“We skipped over it because it ends with: ‘the message received will restore and revive both body and mind of the sick one, who shall thenceforth bloom like…’”

“the flowers in spring…” Draco shook his head. “We should have been more careful… assuming that it was all story embellishing language… We seriously underestimated the effects of this potion…”He sighed heavily. “I just wanted to help Hermione so bad… I was so, so desperate to see her smile again..”

Elphaba was about to pat him on the shoulder in encouragement, when they too heard: “It worked! Harry, you’re awake!”

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