Foreboding filled his chest as he watched the wizard folk quickly climb aboard in mostly-silence and take their seats. Had the Muggles seen them? Harry knew that the Knight Bus was invisible to non-magic people when it was moving, but he doubted it had ever stayed in one exposed place for so long before.
His fellow passengers spoke in hushed voices, hardly saying a word except out of necessity. The Dursleys were brought in with them—on what were obviously conjured stretchers, wheeled but not floating—and secured in place. Dudley was still muttering oaths in his semiconscious state; Harry's aunt and uncle were still out cold. They all looked ghastly pale.
Harry looked back up as Madam Adonna stiffly walked inside, bringing up the rear. Her jaw was set and her eyes were luminous—she looked positively grim.
As Harry squinted, he realised why. Two officers of the Metropolitan Police had tromped onto the bus behind her! He drew a sharp breath, which stabbed his aching ribcage and collarbone. So they had been seen! They all stopped here because of me, Harry thought with pangs of guilt. The wizards severely outnumbered the officers though. Surely they could be overcome if necessary.
After Madam Adonna had checked to make sure the Dursleys cots were secure, she practically shoved the Met officers gracelessly down on a bed together as far to the back of the bus as possible. Their hip radios crackled with the goings on between the Metropolitan Police Station and its mobile units. So that's why we're not overcoming them, Harry noticed, they're probably keeping in contact with their patrol cars outside.
"I suggest you stay seated, sirs, we don't need any more injuries tonight," Madam Adonna practically growled, still remaining dangerously polite.
At first, the two officers looked as if they were going to fly up at her in retaliation, but came to the dawning realisation they were out of their element here. Plus the look on Madam Adonna's face could melt cauldrons.
Then she turned to everyone at large and said tightly, "I'm sure these men won't bite, and won't mind if we continue interacting with one another."
Harry noticed as she quickly tried to catch every solemn magic eye and continued hurriedly onward.
"After all, it was our…'Anachronistic Convention,'" Madam Adonna wrapped her mouth around the words with a distasteful sneer, "which we of course abandoned to help these poor car crash victims in their hour of need. Right, gentlemen?" She stared mightily toward the two officers in the back.
"Er, quite right, Doctor," one began, loudly clearing his throat. "Yes well, carry on then," said the other one, gesturing languidly with one arm.
Madam Adonna smiled, which was more like a grimace.
"And as much as we all appreciate your selfless escort to hospital, I have a patient to attend to straightaway," she gestured behind herself to Harry, "so if you will excuse me."
She briskly strode up the aisle to where Stan and Harry were. As she did, Harry saw the Muggle officers staring at him, forgetting themselves. When Harry returned their looks, they quickly glanced away after having realised what they were doing—not allowing privacy aboard public transport. An offence near punishable by death in some counties.
Madam Adonna gave Harry the once-over again. Her eyes flickered briefly and she looked to Stan.
"Yes, ma'am." The conductor was looking anywhere but at her.
She went on in a slightly repentant tone, "You gave a peaky shocked car crash victim a blanket and hot chocolate."
Stan gulped and looked as if he wanted to sink into the floor.
"Well done. You made adequate use of the resources available. Considering your earlier "nincomperformance", I never would have believed it possible."
Shunpike was positively nonplussed and simply said, "Fank you, Madam Adonna."
Then she leaned over to him and hissed quietly, "Stan, tell Ernie book it to the nearest Muggle hospital. This is something I was going to have us do anyway, just not in so "enthusiastic" a method." She glanced to the back of the bus. "No magic in front of the Muggles—as we all know—and best speed! Muggle speed Stan—we don't want any of our non-magical or injured passengers to suffer any permanent ill effects from their ride."
Shunpike clicked his heels together and gave her a small salute by way of understanding, and about faced to his seat at the front of the bus.
Before Harry could ask her anything, Madam faced him again and said in the same hushed tones, "We found your owl in the backseat and the wizard's paraphernalia in the boot. Luckily someone had already Disapparated with the owl to a place where she can be looked after and they will of course, stay in touch via the Floo Powder Network. The other belongings were left with another young wizard who will be meeting us later at hospital. We believed the things should be kept from prying Muggle eyes; he brought them to the Ministry for safe keeping where he's also giving a report on your whereabouts."
She was speaking so swiftly and softly; Harry could hardly keep up with what she was saying.
"And my relatives?" he spoke up quietly, glancing back at the Dursleys on their beds.
Madam Adonna pursed her lips and her eyes clouded over. "I've done all I can for them right now. The young one looks the most promising for recovery, however. There just wasn't enough time before the bobbies showed up; evidently several people called in after seeing us and told the Yard that a bunch of freaks were participating in a car-burning riot. By then, the kneazle was out of the bag—we couldn't jump them, and now we have Met patrol clearing us a path to hospital."
The bus lurched violently to life and had it not been for the Madam standing right by, Harry would've tumbled off the side of the bed.
He gasped in shock and pain as she caught him; the hot chocolate dropped out of his hand to crash on the floor. Madam Adonna's catch had jolted all of his injuries but he supposed it would've been worse had he been left to fall. Everyone in the bus, including the Met men, studiously ignored the interaction between he and the healer. They chose instead to murmur amongst themselves in hushed tones. Thank Godric for British politeness.
"I've only got a few minutes to attend your injuries, it's your turn with the 'doctor' now," she redirected, trying hard not to jostle too much whilst pushing him back upright. "That's what I told them I am, so they wouldn't force us to wait for their ambulances."
Harry found he could not sit up however; the bumps and bangs of the bus were too much for him to handle. He started feeling sick again due to Ernie's annoying overcorrections and began breathing gingerly once more. And his ribcage…it had started to hurt even more than his broken collarbone, and that was saying something.
Immediately noticing his distress, Madam Adonna gently lowered him to lie flat on the bed. It really didn't help much.
"We convinced the Patrol it would be better for us to take you in, since we could carry the four of you in one. Logic won out."
"Now we'll get your shoulder," she said, mostly to herself.
Leaning over him, she examined his crude sling.
"You did this." She was clearly impressed.
"Yes." He clenched his teeth as the bus rattled.
"Clever, Potter. Near genius," she appraised.
Harry tried responding, but the bus chose that moment to brake and Madam Adonna had to catch him again. This ride really is going to kill me, he thought through a haze of pain.
"Normally I would want to remove this straight away with a Vanishing Spell, but you're bleeding somewhere."
Making sure the Muggle officers still weren't watching, she carefully brought her wand out from underneath her cloak and discreetly pointed it at him. She closed her eyes and waved it above and around his left arm as if divining something from the action. Which, Harry mused, she probably was.
Her eyes opened, and she said, "Nasty business. It's just as I thought; not only did your collarbone snap, but the shoulder has become separated from its socket. If I tell the bones to mend, your arm will be in the wrong place—it needs to be set. It requires a very powerful spell—loudly incanted—to repair it and not even those two," she vaguely gestured to the Met—"will miss the significance without a distraction."
The wizard's low-key conversation was punctuated with crackling messages sent via the Met's hip radios. They appeared to be communicating at regular intervals with their escort backup.
Reaching up, Madam Adonna carefully untied the knotted shirt-sling and unwrapped it from his forearm. It stabbed, burned and itched as a fire; the shirt fabric was clinging to the wound.
Harry clamped down his teeth even harder.
"This would be broken glass—" Madam began.
"Broken glass," he said with her through gritted teeth.
"My kingdom for a potions dresser," she went on, nearly shaking her head. "Usually, I'd just apply something to dissolve the foreign object, give you some Derma-Gro to heal the slashes in your arm and be done with it." She paused as if resigning herself. "As it is, we'll have to settle for quick and dirty. Brace yourself, Potter. Accio Vitro Deruptus!"
Harry barely had time to think as he felt the glass pieces rip out of his skin at Madam Adonna's vociferously whispered command. The action brought an involuntary yelp from his throat. Through his fog, he saw her wand, which was now glistening with the red-stained glass shards once imbedded in his arm. They stuck tight to the tip as if glued to it.
"Mr. Shunpike," she direct crisply to the front of the bus, "fresh bedsheets, if you please."
Stan reached up and pulled some bedding off a shelf somewhere above him and walked quickly through the swaying bus. He alone appeared to be totally unaffected by the vomit-inducing motion.
Taking a sheet from him, Madam Adonna applied it to Harry's forearm, which had started to bleed afresh now the glass had been so forcibly torn out of it. She mopped up the wound and pointed her wand toward it, whispering, "Cauterio Dermia!" Harry felt the area grow intensely warm.
"Best I can do is stop the bleeding," she said apologetically. "I'll do the same here." Reaching for Harry's head, she swept his hair out of the way again. She grabbed another sheet from Stan and started cleaning away the blood on his forehead.
Harry's end of the conversation was minimal; he was trying to tolerate the swerving vibrations of the bus combined with all his physical pain. It required loads of effort. But he still had to ask something.
"You said you planned to go to Muggle hospital. Why?"
The healer blazed a look into his face. "Because something dangerous is happening at St. Mungo's; I don't trust it. I don't think you'd be safe there."
She had said it with such finality; he knew that would be all she would tell him. It must be something very dangerous, for a healer to trust Muggle medicine above magical arts. So much for that line of questioning.
Then Madam Adonna brought her wand up underneath the sheet and quietly incanted, "Cauterio Dermia!" toward his head wound.
"And now for your collarbone and shoulder," she said in a hushed tone, mostly to herself.
"But I thought you said you couldn't—" he winced painfully.
"Do it without distracting the officers, yes." She smiled grimly. "Trust me, we can distract them. Normally we knock out patients for this procedure, but I don't want to go mucking about with your concussion," said went on, wiping the glass pieces off her wand with another sheet. "Even in bright lighting your pupils are still so dilated, I can hardly tell what colour your grey eyes are."
"But my eyes are green," Harry wheezed automatically.
She gave him a shrewd and calculating look. It was almost…Snape-like in intensity. He didn't like it.
"Very well," she said crisply, shrugging it off, "what we need now is ballast." Turning to Stan, "I require you to stand opposite me on that side of the bed," she fluttered her fingers, "thank you, and grasp Potter's undamaged forearm like this." Stan moved over and reached out his hand.
Madam Adonna leaned over and placed his and Stan's hands and forearms together from fingertip to elbow, interlocking the digits. She appeared oblivious to the complete awkwardness of the situation; however, Harry and Stan studiously avoided looking in one another's direction after exchanging looks.
"No matter what Potter does to you," said Madam Adonna to Shunpike in dead seriousness, "do not move or let go. I'll have your head if you do."
Harry's eyes widened hugely while Stan swallowed timidly and nodded. The pair steadied themselves as best they could. Neither of them knew what the mad healer would do next. They would find out soon enough though.
Throwing a last glance over her shoulder to make sure the Met men were still not watching, Madam Adonna carefully stretched Harry's injured arm out to full length.
Then she lifted her eyes up to Harry's face and steadily said, "I'm not going to lie to you; this will hurt like hell on a hippogriff. Don't let go of Stan's arm. We'll go on the count of three—count with me, Potter."
"One," they began together.
"Two." Harry held his breath and steeled himself.
"Thraaaaaaaaaaauuuuggghhh!" he screamed for all he was worth.
Madam Adonna had yanked outward on his arm a count early; he felt certain the woman was trying to tear it off. As if that weren't bad enough, she actually twisted it, but something in his shoulder thunked back into place as he bellowed again. Stan's voice had joined him; apparently Harry had unknowingly grasped Shunpike's arm in a viselike grip. True to his word, Stan still never moved an inch.
Whilst the entire melee, Madam Adonna sneaked out her wand and pointed it at his collarbone and shouted, "FOKKUS CLAVIKUS REVITIKUS!"
Harry felt a weird tingling hot spot crawling under his skin as his arm was healed at last. But a terrible stabbing sensation now pierced him from inside all along his right ribcage. As Madam and Stan finally let go of his arms, he curled fetally around that cruel ache.
In spite of himself, Harry was really beginning to hate Madam Adonna. He knew she was only trying to heal him, but he couldn't help it. Through his pain haze, it felt subconsciously as if she were enjoying how many ways she could make him hurt. I'll show her quick and dirty, he fumed with irrational anger, just give me a good wand. He still couldn't catch his breath.
All the shouting had evidently caught the attention of the Muggle officers. They both stood up in a rush and one yelled imperiously, "What is the meaning of this?"
Now in no mood for even feigned niceties, Madam Adonna whirled around in his direction after laying her wand on the bed.
She matched the officer's volume and threw back at him, "You've been witnessing a routine resetting of a compound shoulder separation," she lied expertly, "and if you laddikens can't handle that, I suggest you remove yourselves from this bus!"
The bus was dead silent save for Harry's gasping.
And as neither one of the proud bobbies wanted to be thought of as less than a man, they glanced at each other and reluctantly strutted to their seat. Or attempted to strut, rather. Their heads knocked painfully together as the bus swayed to and fro when they sat. One of them lost his hat.
Turning back around, Madam Adonna gestured Shunpike back to his seat. She thanked him again as he winced and rubbed the bruise marks on his hand where Harry had gripped him.
Peering down at Harry in renewed concern she said, "Are you all right? I know it's a bit of a shock at first, but it should be feeling—" she stopped herself.
"Potter, I need to see that side you're guarding. Please pull back so I may examine it."
Harry tried his very best to comply; however, he could not.
"I-c-can-n't," he tried to tell her through choked sobs, as every breath was agony.
The healer gently pushed him on his back and carefully prised his arms away from his middle.
Placing her wand in the centre of his shirt, she muttered, "Dissendium Diffendo." His t-shirt split wide open down along the focus.
"Mighty Merlin's Mercy!" she breathed in a shocked tone, taken aback by what she saw. Quickly remembering where she was, she closed her eyes and lifted her wand to the ride side of Harry's abdomen, once again divining his condition. Harry wanted to ask her what she'd seen, but hadn't strength or breath enough to do so.
Madam Adonna had barely begun muttering some more incantations over his torso when the Knight Bus ominously came to a screeching halt. They had arrived at hospital. Since the Met had already radioed ahead, the emergency Muggles were standing by and poured onto the bus as soon as it stopped. Harry was out of breath. Madam was out of luck. They were out of time.
The more starved of oxygen he became, the more his senses winked out. Though his eyes were open, Harry could see nothing; he was only distantly aware of a rush of voices surrounding him. He thought he heard someone say, "massive internal injuries" and "emergency surgery", but couldn't process what it meant. Thoughts floated around in a surreal tangle. Vaguely he remembered something about Death Eaters...hadn't seen any in a week or so, had he? Something about his Firebolt in the Ministry of Magic…a wreck of a wand…knotting his shirt?…Sirius opening a mangled car door and letting him out…Dudley cursing in his sleep….
His last coherent thoughts were something along the lines of What if Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia don't survive and Dudley does? That would leave us both orphans. In a strange way, we'd be even.