Walking down the empty hospital hallway during the early morning hours, Harry tried to focus on the present but his mind kept drifting to the past. He couldn’t help thinking about the day he had started feeling other people’s emotions. He had been in the middle of his shift, helping in the intensive care ward when all of a sudden he could feel soft waves of pain and confusion. He was confused and frightened at first. Were these emotions coming from Voldemort? He hadn’t felt anything from the Dark Lord for quiet some time and even when he had it wasn’t anything like he was feeling now. Voldemort’s feelings were always overwhelming. These emotions were more like a gentle breeze around him.
Startled, Harry started to look around for the source of the faint emotions and finally found an elder man connected to endless machines in a nearby room. The man had a painful look on his face and was moaning softly. Harry didn’t waste any time and ran for help. As it turned out, the patient’s sedatives and painkillers were wearing off causing him to awaken too soon. The patient was once again sedated and with that, the faint emotions stopped. Harry hadn’t ‘felt’ anything else until that night in the children’s ward. It had only lasted a moment but it had been a sign that it wasn’t going to be a one time occurrence.
It had been difficult to work through the strange ability at first especially since he couldn’t tell anyone about it. What could he tell them? They didn’t believe in magic yet alone the ability to sense someone else’s emotions. He was alone to deal with it while his own emotions were still so hard to control. Waves of sorrow and pain tended to release the hold he kept on his own feelings towards his guardians, friends and everything else he had been through which he had fought so hard to bury.
At times it felt like this newfound ability was taunting him, punishing him for leaving the way he did. He always seemed to pick up the negative emotions but then again, not many were happy about spending time in a hospital. It had taken a lot of patience and a lot of practice with his Occlumency studies but slowly Harry had managed to keep a barrier between his own emotions and everyone else’s most of the time. He still had weak moments but they only came when he was extremely exhausted now.
Harry had to admit that he wasn’t surprised about his empathy. There had been a few instances over the past few years where Harry had been able to sense things, especially in Care of Magical Creatures class. There had also been the emotional outbursts whenever he grew extremely angry. All in all, it made sense but it was sort of anticlimactic. The powerful outbursts had been painful at times but they had helped him face off against Voldemort and Death Eaters. He wouldn’t have that luxury anymore. He would be completely on his own.
It was hard for Harry to figure out whether he was scared or relieved to know that. Of course Harry couldn’t confidently say that the outbursts were indeed gone forever since it had only been a month since he had one but he had to admit that he actually felt more comfortable with himself than he had in a long time. It was rather ironic that Harry would finally be comfortable with his magical side in Muggle London (a place that could never see that side of him) but perhaps it was for the best. Harry had made the mistake in the past by revealing that he wasn’t exactly normal. People had believed that he was evil just because he could speak to snakes. If they discovered what he could do now…
Harry let out a sigh as his shoulders slumped forward. He knew it was pointless to wonder about things that could never be. Going back would put everyone in danger again. Replaying the days before he left over in his mind, Harry had to wonder if he had been insane to listen to a voice that sounded like his dead father. He didn’t know what pushed him to believe the warnings. He just felt like he had no other choice.
After that night Harry’s head had been rather silent. He had heard nothing from ‘his father’ and his connection to Voldemort was basically nonexistent, not that he was complaining about the latter. He just wished he could find out if he had just imagined the entire thing or not. Or if I’m completely out of my mind.
Harry couldn’t remember how many letters he had written to Sirius and Professor Dumbledore about what happened that night only to throw them away at the last minute. He just couldn’t bring himself to admit to anyone that he had made a life altering decision based on a voice in his head, no matter how right it felt at the time. Harry had just discovered one of his guardians had died and heard that is other one would die if he stayed. He did what he felt he had to.
Snapping out of his thoughts, Harry quickly turned around to see a fellow orderly, J.J., running towards him. J.J. was one of the many Jonathan’s working in the hospital. He was a few years older than Harry and a few inches taller. His light brown hair was a bit on the long side and tended to block his bluish-green eyes. J.J. was probably one of the most outgoing people Harry had ever met. Everyone had been extremely surprised when J.J. had taken Harry under his wing to show him the ropes since their personalities were completely opposite. Where J.J. liked to cause a scene, Harry preferred to remain in the shadows. That was probably why they got along so well. Harry didn’t try to compete with J.J and J.J took away all the attention that Harry didn’t want.
“I’m surprised you’re working the late shift,” Harry said with a smile. “Aren’t you usually still out at some pub around this time?”
J.J. stared at Harry in offense. “Orion, why do you always think the worst of me?” he asked. “I’m never at a pub at—” he glanced at his watch “—four in the morning. My shift normally starts at six and I need at least three hours of sleep to function. Not all of us are insomniacs like you.”
“I am not an insomniac,” Harry said defensively.
J.J. nodded and patted Harry on the shoulder. “Sure kid,” he said clearly not believing Harry at all. “Just so you know Rolands is looking for you…again. I wish you would tell me what you did to him. That guy used to be such a git towards us, me particularly. Now he’s like an overprotective father.” Harry stiffened at the comment but J.J. didn’t seem to notice. “Not that I’m complaining or anything. I’m just curious.”
Harry shrugged his shoulders noncommittally. “I didn’t do anything,” he insisted. “He wanted to help me out and I accepted. Maybe he’s just grateful that you trained me so he didn’t have to.” That was a lie. Harry knew that Dr. Rolands was appreciative that the orderlies had kept an eye on him, especially during the first couple of weeks. He had been extremely withdrawn from everyone except the patients in the hospital when he started working. With time Harry had become more personable but he still kept a distance between himself and everyone else. He wasn’t looking to make friends. Friends always got hurt.
J.J. stared at Harry skeptically for a moment. “Fine, don’t tell me,” he said with a shrug. “I go out of my way to help you out; allowing you the privilege of learning from my experience and this is how you repay me.” J.J. inhaled sharply as he turned away as if he were about to cry but didn’t want Harry to see.
Harry rolled his eyes and shook his head slowly. J.J. would do anything for a laugh unfortunately Harry wasn’t really in a laughing mood at the moment. Who would be at four in the morning? “Overacting a bit, aren’t you?” he asked as he enfolded his arms across his chest.
J.J. shot Harry a scowl. “You are no fun, Orion,” he said then gave Harry a light shove towards the lift. “C’mon. Let’s go find the good doctor and then we can decide how to waste the time remaining in our shift.” Reaching the lift, J.J. pushed the ‘down’ button. “You clearly need some cheering up, stat. I think I shall have to prescribe a few hallway games to be administered immediately.”
Harry decided to remain silent as he rubbed his eyes tiredly. J.J. always liked to talk in ‘doctor language’ when it came to causing trouble. Most of the orderlies found it funny at the number of ailments J.J. could solve by means of hallway games. In the early morning hours working at the hospital was extremely boring. Visiting hours were over and the majority of the patients were asleep. From what Harry had learned, J.J. had invented the ‘hallway games’ in an act of desperation to pass the time. They could be something as stupid as taking a food tray and finding out who could slide longer on the recently mopped floors to wheelchair races through the hallways of one floor.
The doors to the lift opened. Harry followed J.J. in before leaning against the wall and closing his eyes. He already knew what Dr. Rolands was going to say. It had been three days since Harry had left the hospital meaning that it had been three days since he had slept in an actual bed. Once Harry’s shift ended at eight he would be ordered to go to the Rolands home and rest until his shift tonight. Well, at least this way I wouldn’t disturb anyone with my nightmares.
As the lift descended, Harry once again fell into his thoughts of the past month away from the wizarding world. He remembered the panic he had felt when his healing ability had surfaced. For a while he had actually thought that he would never be able to touch any living creature again without draining himself. That didn’t stop others from touching him, though. Harry quickly learned that it was only his hands that he had to worry about. It made sense that since his magic had been channeled through them for years with the use of a wand.
After a few more ‘healing episodes’ Harry had been able to recognize what could only be described as magic in him rushing to his hands moments before his hands faintly glowed. Normally it happened while Harry was in the middle of talking to a patient about their illness. Harry could only assume that this ability worked because of Harry’s compassion towards people or something like that. It wasn’t exactly a scientific explanation and he wasn’t too eager to test it out on everyone in the hospital to find out for certain so at the present time it would have to do.
The sound of the doors opening pulled Harry out of his thoughts. He glanced over at J.J., ignoring the concerned look on his face, and motioned for J.J. to lead the way. He was receiving too many of those looks lately…well, he had always been on the receiving end of concerned looks. People just weren’t discrete about it anymore. Harry followed J.J. out of the lift to notice that they were approaching the office area of the hospital. Dr. Rolands must be finally tackling his paperwork.
J.J. stopped in front of the fourth door on the right and knocked before opening it. “Found him wandering the I.C.U.,” he said as he entered with Harry following.
Dr. Rolands was sitting behind his desk that was overrun with stacks of papers. He took a long look at Harry before returning his attention to J.J. “Thank you, J.J.,” Rolands said as he stood up. “You may return to your duties.” J.J. nodded and left without another word, closing the door as he did so. Dr. Rolands slowly walked around his desk and stood in front of Harry for a moment before letting out a sigh. “Forgive me for being blunt, Orion, but you look exhausted. When was the last time you had a decent night’s sleep?”
Harry looked away as he shrugged his shoulders. Truthfully, he hadn’t slept well since he had left Hogwarts but he wasn’t about to tell anyone why that was the case. Harry had gone through the nightmare phase last year when Cedric Diggory died. Sirius and Remus had helped him through it then. They understood that he felt guilty and helped Harry realize that he had done everything he could to save Cedric.
But had he done everything he could for Remus? Harry would never know for certain. At the time, he had thought he was doing what he needed to in order to ensure that Sirius and Remus were spared from Voldemort’s rage. At the time he had believed that Remus would survive the injuries given to him by Peter Pettigrew’s silver hand.
Dr. Rolands’ voice pulled Harry out of his thoughts. “Take a seat, Orion,” he said softly and waited until Harry did so. “I suspect you know why J.J. brought you here.” Harry nodded. “Orion…John, I know you still feel like you’re imposing on me but I assure you that is just not the case. I enjoy having you around. You’re a good kid, everyone here can see that. You have honestly been a godsend since you started working here. You are helping so many people. Why do you feel that you don’t deserve the same?”
Harry opened his mouth to answer when all of a sudden a faint stinging pain flared from his scar. The conversation instantly forgotten, Harry closed his eyes and bowed his head as he quickly ran through all the necessary steps for clearing his mind. The problem was the pain just wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t extremely painful but it was more than what he had felt in a long time. He could feel faint touches of anger and annoyance and instantly fought to push them away. Not now! Why am I feeling him now?!?
The emotions slowly faded but the pain remained. It was then that Harry was aware of the hand resting on his back. Distant hints of worry faded in and out. He opened his eyes and raised his head to see Dr. Rolands with a concerned look on his face. In his haste to push Voldemort out, Harry had completely ignored the fact that he wasn’t alone. He had ignored the fact that he was currently in the room with a Muggle doctor of all people.
“What’s wrong, Orion?” Dr. Rolands asked in his ‘doctor tone’. He instantly looked into Harry’s eyes before resting a hand against Harry’s forehead. “You’re burning up! Why didn’t you tell me you weren’t feeling well? What are your symptoms? Aches? Pains? Dizziness? Nausea? How long has this been going on?”
Harry swatted Dr. Rolands’ hand away in annoyance. He wasn’t about to let his scar headaches become an area of study in a muggle hospital. “I’m fine, sir,” he said firmly. “It’s just a minor headache that took me by surprise. It’s really nothing to worry about.”
Dr. Rolands shook his head as walked back to his desk, opened one of the drawers and pulled out his keys. “I’m taking you home,” he said firmly. “You need at least a day’s rest. You have a fever and you’re exhausted.” Harry moved to protest but Dr. Rolands silenced him with a look. “I’m sure J.J. can cover for you or the remainder of your shift unless you would like me to admit you and run every single test I can come up with.”
Harry scowled and looked away. He knew Dr. Rolands would follow through with the threat just to make a point. The man had a stubborn streak to him that could rival anyone Harry had ever met. In some ways Dr. Rolands reminded Harry of Madam Pomfrey, the Hogwarts medi-witch that Harry had come to know rather well over the years. The thought made Harry wonder if stubbornness was a requirement for being a doctor or a healer.
Dr. Rolands moved to the door and opened it before turning and motioning for Harry to exit first. Letting out a sigh, Harry stood up and walked out of the office. He wasn’t surprised to see that J.J. was waiting for him. There was no doubt that J.J. had actually intended on following through with the ‘hallway games’. Dr. Rolands closed the door behind them and rested a hand on Harry’s shoulder as his eyes fell on J.J. “Please notify your supervisor that Orion had to leave early due to illness,” Dr. Rolands said professionally.
J.J. looked at Harry worriedly for a moment then shifted his gaze to Dr. Rolands and nodded. “Will do, doctor,” he said.
Dr. Rolands ushered Harry towards the lift and pressed the ‘down’ button. It took every ounce of self control for Harry not to move away from the doctor. J.J.’s comment about Dr. Rolands acting like an overprotective father had made him feel incredibly uneasy. He didn’t want a father figure but he knew J.J. was right. Dr. Rolands had changed. Dr. Rolands had grown to care about the teen he had taken in. That would have to change.
The ride to Dr. Rolands’ home was a quite one. With his scar still aching, Harry rested his forehead against the cool window. He was still dressed in his hospital attire since Dr. Rolands had insisted that they leave immediately, knowing that Harry would try to find a way out of leaving if given the chance. The sun had yet to rise which made the temptation to sleep even more inviting. Closing his eyes, Harry let his thoughts drift and was surprised how quickly he was able to relax. Maybe he was more than just a little tired.
The car came to a stop, startling Harry out of his partial daze to see that they had reached Dr. Rolands’ house. It was a modest three bedroom house that reminded Harry a lot of his aunt and uncle’s house on in Surrey. The major difference was that Harry was actually welcomed at Dr. Rolands’ house. He wasn’t treated like a freak and a slave. Perhaps that was what felt so wrong among other things. Nothing is as it should be because of Voldemort. I should be home with Sirius and Remus waiting for my OWL scores to arrive.
Following Dr. Rolands into the house, Harry closed his eyes and focused on the feelings around him and let out the breath he wasn’t aware he was holding when he didn’t sense any odd emotions nearby. He could feel a hint of tiredness and knew that there were a few people in the neighborhood that were pulling themselves out of bed. Feeling like an intruder, Harry quickly pushed away the feelings and walked up the stairs to the guest room that he currently occupied. He refused to call it his room. His room was at Black Manor just as his home was Black Manor.
Mindlessly, Harry entered the guest room and went through the routine he normally followed before crawling into bed. The moment his head hit the pillow, Harry could feel himself drifting off to sleep. He would worry about everything after a few hours of rest when he had a clearer head. He refused to make any more rash decisions. Any more rash decisions could get him killed. “Or worse, expelled,” as Hermione would say.
As Harry fell into darkness, he didn’t notice the gentle hands that tucked him in and checked for signs of illness. If he had, Harry would have insisted that he was fine then insisted that Dr. Rolands return to work. He knew it was cruel for him to be so cold to someone who had given so much but it was necessary. Harry could not become attached. The pain that came with caring was too much to handle.
It was a mixture of bright sunlight and the feelings of feathers against his face that brought Harry out of his slumber. Opening his eyes, Harry had to smile at the bright red feathers that blocked his vision. It seemed that someone else was catching up on some needed rest. Ever since that night when Fawkes had helped Harry leave the wizarding world, the phoenix had a tendency of appearing while Harry was sleeping and stayed by Harry’s side until he awoke. The long visits made Harry wonder if Professor Dumbledore was at Hogwarts to notice how often his phoenix was gone for hours at a time.
Turning onto his side, Harry gently pet the bird’s soft feathers and bit back a laugh at the content trill Fawkes let out. It didn’t take much to make Fawkes happy. Just like Hedwig. Just like his ‘family’ in the wizarding world, there wasn’t a day that passed without Harry hoping that his owl, Hedwig, was all right. He was surprised that he hadn’t seen her at all in the past month but he figured that it was probably better this way. Everyone knew Harry Potter had a snow owl. She was just too easy to track to chance it.
Fawkes finally lifted his head and looked at Harry who smiled before reaching for his glasses. Sliding them on, Harry blinked as everything came into focus, along with Fawkes’ sympathetic gaze. Harry let out a sigh as he sat up and once again caressed the bird’s feathers. He glanced at the clock on the bedside table and could hardly believe it was early afternoon already. He had slept longer than he thought he would.
Returning his attention to Fawkes, Harry fell into the routine that he took whenever Fawkes visited. “How’s Sirius?” he asked softly. Fawkes let out a soft gloomy trill as if to say ‘he still misses you’. Harry nodded as his gaze fell. “And everyone else?” Instead of answering, Fawkes nudged a rolled up issue of the ‘Daily Prophet’ towards Harry who took the hint and unrolled the newspaper and looking at the front page. Harry could hardly hold back his shock at the headline along with a picture of the Dark Mark underneath it.
THIRTY-THREE MUGGLES DEAD!
YOU-KNOW-WHO SIGHTED IN MUGGLE LONDON!
Aurors and Law Enforcement officials were called into action at four o’clock this morning as You-Know-Who officially made his presence known. Eye-witnesses claim that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named personally lead the attack on a Muggle neighborhood in London that killed thirty-three Muggles and injured twelve more. You-Know-Who and his followers appeared to be moving from house to house searching for something or someone.
“He was definitely searching for someone,” an eye-witness revealed. “He told his followers to ‘find him’ and was really angry when they didn’t find the person.”
With You-Know-Who’s hatred towards Muggles, many believe that You-Know-Who was searching for a witch or a wizard living in that area. The Ministry has quickly issued an order for all witches and wizards in or around the attacked area to send word to the Department of Law Enforcement for possible relocation for their own safety.
“Until we discover who You-Know-Who is targeting, we must act to protect those who may be caught in the crossfire,” Minister Scrimgeour stated. “We realize this may be an inconvenience to many but we hope that we will find You-Know-Who’s intended target quickly.”
This is the first attack since You-Know-Who lost ten of his followers in a Ministry raid in the Department of Mysteries, including Peter Pettigrew, Lucius Malfoy and Barty Crouch, Jr. (who everyone believed died in Azkaban years ago). Is this merely a retaliation to send the wizarding world into a panic or is there something more to You-Know-Who’s actions? Is there really someone in Muggle London that You-Know-Who is willing to search every house for?
Harry let out a sigh as he set the newspaper down. He should have known Voldemort had been up to something when his scar started hurting. Voldemort’s action left a pain in the pit of Harry’s stomach. There was a chance that Voldemort was searching for someone else but if history was any indicator then that chance was slim to none. It was clear that Voldemort had discovered that Harry Potter was no longer protected by Albus Dumbledore and was currently hiding in Muggle London. The question now was what to do about it. Harry wasn’t ready to face him again but could he really stand by and let people continue to die because of it?
No. If working at the hospital had taught Harry anything, it was that every life is precious and worth fighting for no matter how futile the effort may seem. It didn’t matter if the person was a wizard, witch, squib, or muggle. There was no difference. A life was still a life. Muggles were just like witches and wizards. They were simply trying to make it through the day. Harry had to hold back a snort. It seemed that in his effort to not care, he had grown to care more than he had ever imagined.
Quiet waves of compassion brushed against Harry causing him to return his attention to Fawkes. The red and gold bird let out a soft reassuring trill. Harry let a smile escape as he gently scratched Fawkes’ head. “It looks like we’ve run out of time, Fawkes,” he said quietly. “I can’t run again. Running would only put more people in danger but I can’t stay either.” Fawkes let out another compassionate soft trill. “If Voldemort is looking for me then I need to be seen somewhere other than Muggle London. I just wish we knew for certain.”
Fawkes leapt into the air and flew over to windowsill before landing. Pushing off the bedcovers, Harry curiously followed the bird to the window and looked out. He didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. He noticed that Mrs. Jansen was tending her garden across the street and a few children were riding bikes nearby. All in all, nothing looked out of the ordinary. By habit Harry closed his eyes, reached out and could sense hints of happiness, excitement, tiredness, and…irritation?
Harry forced himself to relax and reached out once again and this time felt a touch of anger and hate in addition to the irritation. Opening his eyes, Harry looked out the window again, trying to find where the negative feelings were coming from but still saw nothing out of the ordinary. He turned to Fawkes who was watching him intently. “They’re here, aren’t they?” he asked. “They’re here looking for me.”
Fawkes let out an affirmative trill sending Harry into motion. There was no time to waste. If Death Eaters were indeed in the neighborhood than Harry’s presence was putting everyone else at risk. He quickly cleaned up and packed what he could in his backpack. He needed to get far away from here. There were plenty of families on this block alone. Harry didn’t want to think of them being killed because of him, something he knew Voldemort wouldn’t hesitate to do.
Was this a rash decision? Most likely but Harry truly believed that he had no other choice. He knew the children who lived in this neighborhood. He knew the families. They were good people who didn’t deserve to be dragged into a war concerning a world they didn’t even know about. This neighborhood didn’t deserve to be wiped out for any reason, especially one man’s obsession.
Once he was packed and attached his wand holster that held his holly wood wand to his right wrist, Harry grabbed some paper and a pen from his bedside table. He knew he couldn’t go without leaving some sort of note for Dr. Rolands no matter how vague it would have to be. It couldn’t be the exact truth but Harry didn’t want to completely lie to the doctor either. Unfortunately I don’t have much of a choice. With not much time to waste, Harry quickly wrote a generic note thanking Dr. Rolands for everything but something had come up forcing him to leave.
With an action that reminded Harry so much of a month ago, Harry left the note on his pillow and grabbed his backpack before approaching the patiently waiting Phoenix. He still wore his glasses since he everyone knew the-boy-who-lived had glasses and looked nearly identical to his father. Harry still looked a lot like James Potter but there now were differences than set them apart. Other than Harry’s green eyes, Harry’s hair was shorter and kept somewhat neat with some muggle products that J.J. had introduced him to. He was stockier than James Potter ever was from the physical training he had endured over the past few years but the Potter genetics still made him lean, not that Harry minded. He had received more than enough attention during his fifth year because he had put on a little muscle.
Fawkes let out a soft trill as he took flight and landed on Harry’s shoulder. No words needed to be said. In the past month Fawkes and Harry had in a way reached a silent understanding between them. Fawkes knew what needed to be done and Harry trusted Fawkes’ judgment. Closing his eyes, Harry felt a flash of warmth for a moment and knew that he was no longer in Dr. Rolands’ home. He opened his eyes and noticed that he was on Charing Cross Road, across the street from the Leaky Cauldron. The weight disappeared from his shoulder as Fawkes took flight before vanishing with a flash of flames. Inhaling deeply, Harry mentally thanked Fawkes before returning his attention to the Leaky Cauldron.
This was certainly going to be interesting.
A/N: Sorry for taking so long. I’ve been traveling a lot for work which has been delaying my writing. I’ll try to have chapter 3 out as soon as I can.
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