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“Dung! Stop! It doesn’t have to be this way!” Arthur shouted at the top of his lungs, trying to make out each person as their form moved across his vision through the fog. They’d tried to reason with Mundungus, but before they could get out more than two words, he’d begun throwing spells. Arthur and his sons had immediately dived for cover, although Arthur had seen at least one blast make contact. Arthur’d rushed to where the fallen man lay, but before he could reach his son, Charlie bounded back up. Arthur let out a sigh of relief; but out of the corner of his eye, he watched as a jet of red came flying at his side. The last thing he saw before he was knocked out was a flash of gingery red hair hanging loosely around red slit-like eyes…

***


The healer looked from Mrs. Weasley to Ron and Hermione, who were holding each other in the stiff chairs of the waiting room. He gazed across the room at where Ginny was seated, her gaze fixed upon the wall in front of her. He made to go over to them, but before he could pick up a foot to step in their direction, the small group was around him. Mrs. Weasley was shredding yet another tissue, and Hermione was clutching onto Ron’s arm with a vice grip that she kept loosening and tightening in dread. Ginny was the only one who was completely unmoving, her brown eyes vacant, fixed desperately upon the healer. When Ron questioned him about Harry, the healer took a deep breath, and began to speak:

“Harry is stable now; he lost a lot of blood, as you all saw, and we’re starting him on a regimen of salves and ointments to heal the skin more quickly. He should be awake soon, but I ask that only one person go in at a time to see him. And when each of you goes, you’ll need to make sure he doesn’t try to sit up or move around too much. He’s weaker than he thinks, and he’s obviously stubborn enough to try to get up again. You can go in at anytime.”

The healer turned to go, heading back towards the closed ward. At this point, Mrs. Weasley had begun to cry tears of relief, although her tears were considerably quieter than they’d been earlier. Hermione had let go of Ron’s arm, and he’d wrapped his newly freed limb around her as she cried into his chest. Ginny followed the healer, unable to quite comprehend what he had said. He’d reached a small table by the entrance when she caught up to him.

“Sir?” Ginny questioned timidly, half hoping he wouldn’t hear her.

“Yes? What can I do for you?” he turned towards Ginny, his eyes expectant.

“Umm…w-well…I was just wondering… When could we go to see him again?” Ginny averted her eyes; the healer knew that wasn’t what she’d meant to ask, but he said nothing. This young woman’s pain was private, and he had no right to intrude on it.

He smiled reassuringly at Ginny, and patted her arm gently. “You can go in one at a time." He repeated himself quietly catching her gaze. "I suggest you decide who’s going first. Harry seems rather eager to see you all again.”

Ginny smiled weakly, and wandered forlornly back to her mother, brother and friend. Hermione was still leaning against Ron’s chest, though she’d stemmed the flow of tears with Ron's shirt. Molly’s eyes were shining with fresh tears as she stared at her daughter. Ginny opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted quickly by her mother. “Give him our love dear.”

Molly smiled at her daughter, and Ginny managed a small grin. She turned towards Ron and Hermione, questioningly; Ron just nodded, and Hermione smiled tearfully at her. Ginny beamed, and turned towards the ominous white doors once again. She reached out and pushed through them, hoping this time would go a bit better.

***

Arthur felt as if he’d been hit by the Knight Bus. He groaned softly as he opened his eyes; the world had become oddly skewed, and nothing was recognizable. Arthur put his hand to his face and shook his head vigorously, trying to clear the fog that was clouding his mind. Arthur felt for his glasses, realizing they were no longer on his face. He groped around himself, not daring to lift his head to high, for fear of detection that he was once more awake. Arthur could still hear the sounds of spells crashing into bookshelves, meaning the fight was still at its peak.

A few moments later, he found his horn rimmed spectacles smashed into shards a foot or two away. He pulled out his wand, muttered Occulus Repairo,and placed the reformed frames upon his face. Arthur figured enough was enough, that his sons needed him, and he was about to charge out to bring down Mundungus when suddenly the room was filled with silence. The only sound left was the ominous drifting of the papers from their perches atop the shelves. Arthur came slowly to a crouching position, his eyes darting smartly around the room for a sign of attack, of injury, of one of his sons…of anything. He was greeted by the vision of sharp edges of wreckage from fallen shelves, and of softly floating papers, drifting aimlessly around the room, with nowhere to land or return to. Arthur turned, and saw blurred figures rising from the ground. The fog had thinned some, and Arthur could make out Fred crouching by his fallen twin. George stirred, but his eyes didn’t open, and Fred began to shake him vigorously. Arthur stepped over and placed a hand on Fred’s shoulder. “It’s alright, son. We’ll get him to Mungo’s, and he’ll be fine.”

Fred gazed at his father, a silent confirmation of understanding. Fred turned to his twin and mumbled a few words, his wand pointing at George. George’s body drifted up to a semi-standing position, and Fred looped an arm around his brother’s torso. George gave a moan, and he opened his eyes slightly, trying to say something. Fred froze, twisting to watch his brother. George gave another great moan, and his eyes slid shut again. Arthur looked on, his heart clenched tightly. If George is this bad off, what happened to my other boys? Arthur shook this thought off swiftly, as he turned to his sons. “Did you see where the others got to?” he questioned, the note of panic all but hidden.

Fred shrugged a shoulder in the direction of the thickening fog. “I think Bill and Charlie took after Dung that way, but I’m not sure. He fired a curse back when George and I were on the chase too, and it hit George dead on.”

Arthur shuddered, and watched as George’s face went rigid, as if he were trying to concentrate when he heard Fred say his name. “Let’s get him up and out of here, Fred. We can look for your brothers on the way.” Arthur said, as he watched his son in distress.

Arthur slung George’s opposite arm from Fred around his shoulders, and made to pick him up. Fred gingerly unhanded George, moving out of the way so Arthur could swing his brother up into his arms. Arthur set off at a brisk walk into the fog, taking long agitated strides. Fred had to jog to keep up with him, all the while searching for his brothers or Mundungus. Arthur finally slowed his pace once the fog had reached it’s densest, and they could scarcely see their hands before their faces. After picking their way through the destroyed bookshelves and suspended paper stacks, Fred ran his foot into something. “Oh bloody—BILL?” Fred cried, as he crouched by his brother.

Arthur set George down against a stack of books and wreckage, and hurried to his oldest son’s side. “Bill? Can you hear me? Come on, Bill…Talk to me…” Arthur urged his son.

Bill’s eyes flicked open, and he sat up quickly. He had a small trail of blood dripping down from a swollen gash along his forehead, which his hand flew to when he tried to rise from his place laying on the ground. Clutching his head and cursing quietly, Bill looked first at his father, then to Fred, and back again. “Where’s Charlie? He was just next to me when I went down…” Bill muttered confusedly before trailing off, clutching his head.

Arthur placed a hand on his son’s scarred shoulder, his own mind racing. Where could Charlie be?

***


When Ginny entered the closed ward once more, everything was familiar, but eerily different. She could make out the handful of other patients in their beds, all of them dozing peacefully in the early morning light. Ginny blinked, and stared up at the windows as she walked down the aisle towards the last few beds. The clouds were still dense, but their color had lightened to that of fluid silver, like the rich shade of unicorn blood. Large soft flakes were falling quietly now, soothing Ginny as she walked towards the curtains surrounding Harry’s bed.

Upon reaching the makeshift room, Ginny rushed inside, unable to contain herself or her respectful silence any longer. She found Harry propped up with pillows at his back, and a sad look in his eyes. His face immediately brightened, however, when she walked in the room.

Ginny’s eyes filled with tears, the gates to her heart shattered as feelings rushed forth. She took a deep breath, hoping to stay the flow for Harry’s sake. Harry motioned to her, scooting over gingerly and gently patting the bed next to him for her. Ginny made it to the bed and into Harry’s arms before she began to sob quietly.

“I thought…We thought…Oh Harry…I’m—I’m so…” Ginny stuttered between bouts of tears.

As Harry gathered her into his good arm, he kissed her hair gently, hushing her as he held her shaking body to him. He pulled her closely, letting her tears flow onto the fresh bandage revealed by his open pajama shirt. He could feel her heart pounding a steady tattoo in her chest, and she his, together as if they were following a single line, stepping together into the sands of time.

Ginny suddenly jumped, realizing she’d been sobbing into Harry’s injured shoulder and chest. She leapt back, gazing at him with a frightful, questioning look emblazoned on her face. “Are you…Is it… But they can’t have done it up so well. Not in such little time,” Ginny finally managed to say, as she sniffed quietly.

“I don’t know, love. The Healer said he’d found writings in an old spell book. He thinks it’s a variation of Sectumsempra. And now that they’ve named it you know…It feels a lot better, even though I’m still not to leave the bed.” Harry finished triumphantly, managing a weak grin.

Ginny smiled softly, and rested her head once more upon Harry’s chest. She listened as his heart thumped softly against his ribs. Harry ran a strong hand across Ginny’s cheek, stopping only when he’d reached the arch of her chin. He tipped her head upwards, and they shared a soft kiss. Ginny broke away after what seemed an age, remembering she’d been asked to come get the others as well. Harry groaned light-heartedly as Ginny lifted her face from his.

“I’m sorry, but you’re very popular Mr. Potter. I’m not the only one who wants to see you alive and well. Might I remind you of those people you consider your friends who are waiting their turn to see you?” Ginny placed a hand on her hip mockingly, as if she were a mother chastising her child for playing with Daddy’s off-limits wand.

Harry laughed, and preceded to good-naturedly grouch about “that git who managed to keep them apart even when he wasn’t there” (Ron) and “the know-it-all who would fly from crying fit to scolding to looking up facts on the ancient incantation faster than you could say the stupid curse” (Hermione).

Ginny laughed, glad to see the salves for the pain were working, and she turned to go get the others.

A/N: Sorry this took sooooo long! I've been blocking on all of my pieces lately, and I could simply kill sometimes. Thanks so much to my faithful readers, and especially to my new readers who've popped out of the woodwork and left me a review! I'll be back in touch soon...:)

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