Presents of Mind
Round about the halfway mark between the second and third doses of potion, Harry sensed a very buried type of awakening within Madam Adonna's mind. The best way to describe it would be the feeling one gets when they're out of the room yet can detect a television set get switched on anyway, even when the sound is turned down. Intuitively, he knew it wasn't something anyone without his newfound abilities would be able to divine. Harry stood there and quietly concentrated whilst catching snippets of conversation between Tonks and Lupin.
At the young Auror's prompting, Remus had explained to her about Snape's miraculous travelling satchel, which seemed to spontaneously produce whatever was needed whenever they needed it. They also spoke of the crowns, the altered Dark Mark, and the poem. That was when Lupin pulled out the piece of paper from his robes and showed Tonks the one clue that had so far eluded the youth.
Harry was so deep into absorption at this point, he only caught the tail end of what Remus had been saying, but Tonks had missed what Lupin was telling her, too. Then the former professor took his wand, highlighted just the left-most column of letters down the stanzas of the poem and whispered, "I think we know both who sent this and who the decoy was. It makes perfect sense when combined with the crowns and the duplicate name on the documents." Tonks gasped slightly and replied, "Another who was believed long dead…I supposed he'd just outlived his usefulness as well?" she inquired icily.
Wanting to hear more, Harry instead heard them end that line of conversation and administer the final dose of potion to the healer. Although very gradual, it was indeed having the desired effect for Adonna, though most of her recovery was internal. The healer's intellect still seemed to be very lost inside, as her previously-injured mental functions had fled under the poisonous affectations of the Veritaserum. Harry determined to give her something to anchor to. He imagined himself standing in the swirling mists of her thoughts and emanated all the positive energy he could muster, sending with the feeling this message: You can trust me, please follow me.
"Yes," said Tonks, "I also understand how the poem hinted at how to find Harry. But about him being alive in the past…what do you suppose that is all about?"
The healer's consciousness wasn't using words, but Harry still felt her answer his call…and he could tell she had caught up with and found him. Like a person lost too long in a desert, Adonna soaked up the oasis of goodwill he sent her. She had also been yearning for somebody, anybody she could trust; especially after having been violated of both mind and body for such a sustained amount of time.
"I wager that is something only Fate herself can decide," Lupin went on vaguely, "but I suspect it has a lot more to do with the lunar eclipse tonight than moonrise, as it were. And I would know how powerful that type of magic can be—it's the reason why I'm still able to stay human right now, when normally I'd be sleeping peacefully with a good healthy serving of Snape's potion. We'll be cutting it close as it is."
The flare of renewed hope Harry had received from Madam Adonna was so strong, it nearly overwhelmed them both. That was even before she had fully recognised who had found her, however. A loud and joyous, I KNEW IT! pushed away the remaining fogginess around them, and Adonna nearly fell at his figurative feet in relief. At that moment, Harry found out the final reprehensible actions against the healer had caused her, a known professional, to question her own sanity.
Yet she had pressed on for Harry anyway, at the cost of everything she possessed, all in the name of his preservation. It was only right that he attempt to return such a matchless favour. By way of thank you, he gave her a fierce virtual embrace that she returned, level of comprehension well beyond words by this point. She then let go and Harry found he was back inside his own mind again.
"The eclipse is precisely the level of magic we need to reverse the G.S. Charm affects, too," Madam Adonna said airily, just above a whisper. She startled Remus and the young Auror.
"Adonna?" Tonks turned toward her, voice full of trepidation.
"Not exactly feeling like myself at the moment," the healer smiled weakly and continued, "but yes. That would be me."
"You're okay!" exclaimed Tonks, enveloping Madam in an enthusiastic hug. Remus let out a slow sigh of relief and said simply, "Welcome back, Healer. I'm Remus Lupin, by the way."
"Incidentally Mr. Lupin, you have my thanks," replied Adonna. "Plus there is a time for formalities, and this hardly seems like one." Her voice was gaining a bit more in strength and she said, "Please, call me 'Don' or 'Donnie.' It's what I usually go by in consideration of a masculine host persona. The whole 'Madam Adonna' bit just doesn't seem to apply," she said wryly and paused. Sustained speaking was still clearly taking quite an effort for her. "Nymphadora can explain more to you…it's a distinctly Metamorph thing."
The Auror smirked and said to her, "On the floor like that, and still you feed me cheek on my name." Shaking her head, Tonks went on, "Donnie is my cousin. She was like the big sister I never had. From a very early age—I'm told it was because she overheard her father say he wanted a boy instead of a girl—Donnie learned that it was her particular gift to transfigure into forms of the opposite gender. Even with some Metamorphmagi, that is considered taboo, but then again Donnie was never one to be conventional. I was envious of her talent, her names that she could easily adapt to fit whatever persona she was wearing—unlike 'Nymphadora,'" Tonks rolled her eyes, "so naturally she was sort of hero-worshipped by me." Then she glared at the healer and said nastily, "I will never forgive you for the time you tricked me into thinking you were my father."
Tonks looked at Harry and Remus and ended, "Grounded me for two months, she did. I could have died!"
Lupin laughed and Harry just marvelled that Madam Adonna, the illustrious healer who commanded such an aura of rules and respect, remained of all things, a true maverick at heart. She was taking all of this in such stride, but Harry still couldn't help the dismay he felt at seeing her look the way she did…locked in permanent stasis…forever sporting the visage of the last person she thought she hadn't saved. Damn Voldemort, damn Fudge, damn the Ministry—what they'd condemned Adonna to was beyond sickening. Damn them all. At the moment, the healer was also studying Harry very closely.
"Thanks very much to you too, Mr. Potter. I appreciate you for drawing me back just then. I wasn't sure if I could come back. I definitely needed it," she said to him softly.
What Harry meant to say was, "You're so welcome, and please call me Harry." But what came out instead was, "I'm so sorry…" he trailed off, mentally finishing up with you've had to look like me.
Adonna picked up on his despair and immediately reassured him, "In my line of work, I've had to accept certain risks. Although not exactly commonplace, the G.S. Charm is something I've done before; I knew full well what I was getting into." The healer closed her eyes a bit and took a few deep breaths, the antidote still doing its work.
Then the corner of her mouth quirked and she continued, "Consequently, this image I've got on loan from you isn't bad at all, Mr. Potter. I've looked much worse before, for people who were decidedly less than thankful, believe me. I've never been one to reserve my talents or skills for assisting someone based on rules of societal propriety—that's selfish and stupid. Lives get lost that way. The next person in line who needed my help just happened to be you," she said encouragingly. "And don't worry—if we had a chance to repeat this, I'd do the same thing all over again."
Tonks told Adonna smugly, "I hardly think you've had the privilege to wear the image of someone even half as famous or fit as our Mr. Potter."
Harry felt a snort of disbelief die somewhere in the back of his throat. The Auror must be mental or blind. Mr. Potter, 'fit'? That was a term girls used to describe a particularly attractive person of the male persuasion.
Adonna swept a hand over herself and said in mock self-deprecation, "What, this old thing?" echoing Harry's thoughts to a tee. But then the healer narrowed her eyes and went on to Tonks, "Cheeky girl. These good looks I could get used to. It's the fame that annoys me. Thankfully, it was easy to avoid at first because of the longer hair and not wearing glasses. Then word spread of his previously unknown morphing talent. If I had a galleon for each time somebody approached me for an autograph or a photo op…" an exasperated groan escaped her, in Harry's tone of voice. "Honestly Mr. Potter, repelling that rubbish must be a magical power all its own."
Harry held a hand to his mouth, sniggering and blushing madly. How many times had he thought or said the exact same thing, the exact same way? Considering what Adonna looked like as of late, she literally had to have lived the ecstatic altruism of "Potter Fandom". It was singularly unique having someone describe a rather dubious highlight of his life to him in such a hilarious fashion. Once again, Harry had been teased completely without realising it.
"Finally, a breakthrough," said Tonks happily, quite pleased with Harry's reaction. "We told you she could handle it." Remus merely smirked and raised and eyebrow.
"That you did," Harry replied to the young woman, then he turned to the healer and said, "and Donnie…please call me Harry. I feel like I'm at school when people call me Mr. Potter."
These two women were not only extraordinary in morphing talent but extraordinary people as well. Strange? Yes. But not anymore strange than anything else he'd learned about the wizard world. It was fascinating to think he actually had a magical ability in common with them now, though Harry seriously doubted he would ever explore such extremes as Tonks or Adonna had. Nope, hair and facial features was about the limit for his transfiguration.
Remus said, "Shall we help you off the floor now?" and reached out to assist Adonna. She shook her head slightly and replied, "If we can, I need as long as possible to just stay down and regain strength. I assume those in solitary will have noticed my absence close to now, so carrying me out of here would not be good—as far as they know, I'm still dying because of the venom. So it's walking out of here, or nothing."
"You called the truth serum 'venom?'" Harry inquired. He wanted to know if it was more than just a slip of the tongue.
Adonna turned toward him and answered, "Yes. I apologise, some things are slipping my mind at the moment and I forget whom I'm addressing. The most potent ingredient in Veritaserum is basilisk venom. That's why it only takes three drops to render a full confession from somebody. Being bitten and injected that way is a much quicker route to go than ingesting a watered-down version of it. I think you're the only one I'm aware of who knows what that feels like firsthand, Harry."
He certainly did know how that felt—Harry had screamed when the basilisk punctured his arm. The effects of its venom were a hundred times worse, though. It was horrible and painful, and it made him fevered and so very sick. Had it not been for Fawkes, Harry's experience with basilisk bites would have been mercifully short—somewhere in the neighbourhood of three minutes—from being bitten to biting the dust. Adonna however, had been forced to swallow ungodly amounts of the truth serum, her entire insides being under constant saturation of that vile liquid. And she had fought it for three days—Harry could only imagine what that was like. It also explained the deathly fevered sheen across her face that was only now starting to subside. In fact, the only thing Harry knew of that could cure poisoning of such magnitude was—
"Phoenix tears!" he exclaimed to Adonna, based on a flash of inspiration. "That's what's in Liberabitonic, isn't it? That's why it was thought a myth—why it's so rare and impossible to make!"
Madam gave him a genuine, if tired smile and replied, "Bravo, Harry. Petrified phoenix tears, actually…not nearly as powerful as live fallen tears, but they can still be used for healing. Most people mistake them for crystals or dewgems when they're found, because that's what they resemble."
Harry didn't have to think twice about which phoenix had produced the tears for this particular Liberabitonic. If Snape had been making the stuff recently, only one answer remained. Fawkes, however inadvertently had come through at the last moment to save someone's life again. And the fact the bird's tears were used to combat basilisk venom…it was delicious irony.
Adonna gazed at him for a bit and said, "With your insight and ingenuity, I might make a healer of you yet. I've never seen anyone your age with ability to accomplish such extraordinary feats by non-magical means. What you did with your wand and fashioning that sling with your shirt was nothing short of phenomenal. I've seen wizards with five times your education and experience get flummoxed in similar situations, all because they didn't have magic." She lifted her eyebrows and continued, "With your keen and powerful mind, you've definitely got the disposition for medicinal arts."
Harry a healer? That was definitely an interesting prospect. He'd always assumed the only thing he might ever have a future in was something involving dark arts defence. Having thought Hermione was more suited to the memorization a healer's education must entail, it wasn't even something Harry had even remotely considered. But who better than an expert to deem he had requisites to that particular career path?
"Donnie," said Lupin, "I am most interested as to why you were given Veritaserum after the trial instead of during. Did they not believe who you were in the courtroom?"
Adonna's jaw tightened and she got a dark look about her. "No, the Ministry knew full well who I was when they brought me to court. The Gemini Stasis Charm effects do linger but it's only a matter of hours before they finally wear off. That's what Fudge told everybody was up with me—that I still looked like Harry because the charm had yet to subside. In actuality, most people in that courtroom didn't even know the charm had been forcefully severed rather than ending naturally."
"How could they know it was you, besides the fact you act differently?" Lupin was clearly intrigued.
This was something Harry couldn't help but noticing immediately as he'd knelt next to Adonna. He held his wand out and said, "Beg your pardon," and swept back her curtain of black hair to one side with it. "She has no scar, Remus," Harry stated plainly. The healer half-smiled at him again.
"Excellent skills of observation, Harry. Yes, physical ways exist of telling a Metamorphmagus apart from the real person. You just have to know how to look for them," said Adonna.
Tonks threw in, "Typically, when Metamorphs use complete transfiguration, it's only for a few minutes or hours at most. If it's for entire days, it tends to get rather tiresome and smaller details start to slip. One of the tells is that any visible curse marking or magical effect begins to wear off, if not directly put on the Metamorph in question. Fingerprints also start to return to what they're supposed to look like."
"Normally yes, but the charm took care of that for me. The only physical differences would be eye colour and the scar," Adonna clarified. "It's one of the most powerful types of charms anyone can evoke—connecting one's self to another person—things tend to get shifted or scrambled when it's not carried out properly. That's why I know things about your past that you've never told me, Harry. It's also why I can read things from people right now, when usually I'd need my wand to divine someone's mental state or read thoughts from them."
Another realisation came to Harry with the force of a freight train and he said amazedly, "You're not just a healer, are you? You're also an empath, or a telepath. I can do the same things now—but I can block emotions from other people too, if I have to. Can you not…do that…anymore?" It was disconcerting to think Madam had lost another ability due to the charm.
Shaking her head Adonna replied, "Block other's feelings? Not very well, no. Some of the disciplines I've studied appear to have copied themselves to you, others just shifted entirely. Most of it was intentional and by me, I might add." Then she looked at Tonks and Lupin and told them, "I realise most of what I'm about to say will confuse you two but I need to tell Harry these things."
The healer turned back to Harry and went on, "I remember seeing your parents and the Fright Bus. I was there with you, as a silent observer. I just couldn't reveal myself, because…You-Know-Who was influencing your thoughts. What you need to realise is that was not a true reality, Harry." He stared at her, lost in thought that the Lily and James he had seen weren't real at all.
"It wasn't a nightmare either, however. The people you saw were merely apparitions…images that were used to convince you that you were truly dead." Adonna looked at him even more meaningfully, saying, "Think about it, Harry. What are the worst things You-Know-Who would use against you? Your parents—you never even questioned your death when they told you that was what happened. I know from personal observation that dying is never something Harry Potter takes to without a fearsome fight." Gaping at the healer, Harry struggled to comprehend all she was revealing to him.
"Worse still, your parents didn't seem to care that you were dead. Another thing was influencing you in your mind as well…it manifested itself in the form of that yellow gift box. Somebody was trying to tell you something…get through and let you know what you were being subjected to wasn't reality. But it still wasn't enough—the car wreck had done a number on you—it wasn't something you could fight alone. So You-Know-Who again warped what you saw. The only thing was your name on the certs. Then he did another last-ditch effort to not only convince you of your death, but that you were a son of evil, just like he is."
"Wait," interrupted Remus, "are you saying that Harry knew about the gift box and adoption certs before Ginny told him, because he saw them…while in a coma?"
"Donnie, how can you possibly know all this? Voldemort can't have touched your mind before," Tonks said disbelievingly at the same time.
But Harry whispered to the healer, as if the other two hadn't even spoken, "His wand! Voldemort had his image of my father…give me that wand…so I would believe I was just the same as…him."
Everyone stared at the Madam in shock. "Precisely," answered Adonna with furious intensity. "And to answer your question, Tonks…I didn't know it was You-Know-Who.… Not until after his first attempt to break the G. S. Charm, which was when—"
"When I summoned the Fright Bus with his wand," breathed Harry, everything becoming clearer to him by the minute.
"Yes, Harry. Then I saw into his mind. It was just a brief flash, but I knew the things he was going to do. I knew he was going to have dementors go after you, so I did the last thing I could. I poured what knowledge I had, with what time I had to your mind. I added to your rudimentary working of Occlumency, Legilimency, empathic abilities, Omnilumency…anything to help your soul stay together and not disperse upon the split from your body."
"So…you were the one who…had me speed learn all these things I can do now…the thought reading, everything.…" he trailed off.
Adonna picked up, "No, not everything. It couldn't have happened if your latent abilities weren't already there, either. You just…happened to take a bit more than was intended is all—because of the charm severing. But you had to leave your body willingly. It wasn't something anybody could force you to do."
"Therefore you…" Harry narrowed his eyes at her, "…you had to scare me, didn't you? You placed yourself on the Fright Bus, so I would find you. But you weren't really trying to hurt me. You weren't yelling at me, either. It was Voldemort, wasn't it? You were telling him to leave me alone."
She got a profoundly saddened look in her eyes and replied, "Yes again. You're a very stubborn person, Harry. Making you leave that bus was indicative of you leaving the influence of You-Know-Who, as well as your body. It was the only way either of you or your counterpart would have a chance."
"And that's when you nearly went mad…" Harry said the last bit gruffly.
"Harry, not at all. I had to make it convincing…You-Know-Who couldn't know that I wasn't insane when I used my wand against you. He had to believe that I didn't know what I was doing. That's one thing you need to learn about thought gathering. People's thoughts only read as true as long as they believe it to be true. That doesn't necessarily mean what they know is the entire truth."
Remus had just about had enough of being silent and spoke up in a knowing voice, "All of the knowledge he has because of you…it helped him to become even more powerful didn't it? Powerful enough to practise Psychromancy."
"Practise what?" asked Harry and Tonks in unison.
Somebody rapped on the hallway door. Remus opened it and Dumbledore stepped through, looked over his half-moon glasses and replied, "You're a Psychromancer now, Harry. The most powerful one ever known. Now if you're willing to listen, I shall help the healer expound upon the definition."