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Alfie opened the door and as Hermione peered in, she saw an empty room with a desk to the left of them. She heard voices coming from another door just behind the desk. "Do you think he's in there?" She whispered to Ron as they slowly stepped in the room.

Ron didn't say anything, he knew Harry would be through the door, but he didn't know what state he would be in. He stood slightly in front of Hermione, his way of trying to protect her a bit more. "They're in there. We have to be quick. Ron, Hermione, get Harry out as soon as possible."

Neither of them needed telling twice about that, their only mission was to rescue Harry from whatever he was enduring. Alfie reached the door and quickly turned the handle, the door was flung open and Hermione put her hand over her mouth to try and stop her from gasping too loudly. "Well, if it isn't Alfie Tinge and his sidekick." Julie spat as she turned around to face the two Aurors.

"Been up to the same old antics I see. Torturing young wizards and witches seems to be the only thing you're good at."

At the word 'torturing', Hermione ran over to Harry. He was coming in and out of consciousness so he wasn't aware of what was happening. "Harry? It's Hermione and Ron. We're going to get you out of here." Hermione went to pull him up by his right arm, but he winced, so she chose his left arm. With the help of Ron, they managed to get him standing.

"I'm a good doctor," Julie whined, "the very best. Harry here is much better than he was."

"No, he's not! He looks like he's almost dead! I knew we shouldn't have allowed you to take him away!" Hermione shouted. Her and Ron hadn't worked out a good way to help Harry walk so they just stood in the corner.

"Well, if it isn't the girlfriend. I don't like you, darlin'. I don't know why, but the sight of you makes me feel sick."

"SHUT UP!" Harry screamed, "you've lost. You're evil and pathetic. Just stop trying to be whatever you think will make you a success. You've failed."

"Will you ever learn, darlin'?" A grimace spread across her face as she slipped her wand out of her pocket.

"Will you ever learn that you can't bully people to make them cooperate with you?" He shouted back.

"It's called helping, darlin'." She said sternly and strongly. "But I see you as a lost cause anyway, no point carrying on with you."

She raised her wand and screamed, "AVADA KEDAVRA."

Hermione looked away as soon as she saw the streak of green light head towards them, letting Harry go in the process. She heard a lot of movement and then a dead weight of someone's lifeless body falling to the floor. She shook, knowing that if Julie had hit her target, Harry would be the one on the floor.

"NO!" Lelia screamed, "how-could-" she began saying, but her sobs took over.

Hermione knew now that it wasn't Harry who was struck down, it was Alfie. Aengus and Aoife ran in clutching bandages, bottles of water and food packages. "What's happened?" Aengus said. They all turned to look at the two siblings.

"QUICK! Get her!" Ron cried as he and Aengus both charged at Julie. She could have tried to escape but it was pointless, the door was blocked by Aoife and Professor Curran.


"At least I finally got rid of him. He has been following me for months now, trying to catch me in the act of something unforgivable." Julie chirped.

"That may be the case, but now I've caught you doing something unforgivable, you won't be a free woman for a very long time. I hope Azkaban has a nice, small cell for you." Lelia said, trying to have an air of confidence about her but being heartbroken made that difficult, Hermione thought she masked it well.

Instantly, as if there were people hiding in the walls of the building, a dozen people turned up to take Julie Eliot away. Hermione grabbed Harry's arm again, they hadn't said anything to one another since it all happened. Aoife picked up the water and food which Aengus had chucked in his charge for Julie and brought them over to Harry and Hermione. "I'll go and get a Healer. I imagine that Harry will have to stay here until he's healed." Lelia said. Alfie's lifeless body still lay on the floor, Lelia walked over to him and draped a towel over his head and shoulders. "You died a heroic death." She whispered as her bottom lip trembled. Hermione would have reached out to her, but she understood that she needed time to digest what had happened.

Since his little outburst, Harry had felt weaker than ever. He found it so hard to stand up he had put all of his weight onto Hermione. As she began to buckle, she slowly let him drop to the floor. "Harry? You're safe now. She's gone."

"She's never gone. She always comes back." He whimpered. Hermione looked at Aoife, who was on the other side of Harry, with a concerned look which Aoife returned.

"What has she done to you?" Hermione asked.

"Whip, whip, whip." He almost sang, "slash, slash, slash. Fire, fire, fire."

Hermione looked at Harry's marked body. She gently picked up his left arm and looked at his palm. She had to bite her lip to stop screaming at the sight of it. "Did you find any burn lotion?" She asked Aoife.

"Yeah, can I do it? It would be good practise." Aoife said, she rarely had a chance to heal people.

"Sure." Hermione breathed. Her breath rattled as she tried to hold back the tears and stay strong. She picked up a towel and poured some water on the edge of it. She went to dab his neck with it when he flinched. "It's me." She whispered this seemed to relax him and so she cleaned the blood off his neck before moving to his cheek. As she cleaned it, she made the same movement as Julie had done.

"Don't hurt me." He mouthed, "please."

"I would never hurt you." Hermione's voice was quiet and weak, she thought that anything could trigger her tears.

"Harry?" A strong voice came from behind them. "Harry. I'm Abi and I will be your Healer for your duration of your time here. I can not apologise enough for what you have experienced here. I can assure you that no one else in the hospital will treat you like that...flea." Hermione turned to see another glamorous young woman. She had the most glossy strawberry blonde hair and big blue eyes. She waved her wand and a red stretcher appeared and hovered just above Harry.

Professor Curran, Ron and Aengus lifted Harry onto it and it floated, just behind Abi, to Harry's private room. Hermione and Ron lingered back, "are you okay?" Ron asked, his voice full of concern.

"We left him here, Ron. We should have come much sooner than we did." Hermione was pulling at her sleeves, something Ron knew meant she was anxious.

"I know," he hung his head in shame, "everything he has done for everyone and this is how he's treated. But, I've got an idea. Something which might show our gratitude to him. We're going to need a lot of help, though."

Hermione eyed him suspiciously, but the glint in his eye made her trust him. She nodded slowly as he told her the idea.


"You have suffered a third-degree burn on your hand, it has penetrated through all layers of your skin and it has damaged your subcutaneous tissue. It won't hurt if I touch it but we can heal it in several days with burn lotion and a bandage, magic is wonderful." Abi added, "as for your right arm, you have dislocated your collar bone, a quick spell can pop that back into place. As for the cuts and marks; I've examined them, they're not very deep so we can fix them with another spell." She smiled, she held a clipboard close to her chest as she explained to Harry and the crowd around him what she would do. "You're dehydrated and slightly malnourished, but I can't find any signs of lasting damage so that shouldn't be too hard to sort. Now, you might not want this, but I can arrange a psychiatrist, a proper one. You've gone through quite the ordeal so I would recommend it."

Harry glanced over at Hermione and Ron, they just smiled at him. They didn't want to push him. He nodded slowly, "but I want Hermione and Ron to be there."

"Me?" Ron asked.

"You." Harry reiterated.

"That would be fine. We'll get you all cleaned up first. I'll start with the burn."

"Right, I think it's best if we go back to Hogwarts," Professor Curran said to his children.

"Oh, I wanted to watch her heal Harry, dad. Please, let me stay."

"I'm sorry, Fe. You have classes to go to."

Aoife looked like she was going to argue but knew it was a lost cause, "glad you're safe, Harry. I'll bring you some chocolate frogs when I come and visit you." She quickly hugged Ron, which seemed to catch him off guard, and walked to the door.

Aengus began making his way to the door when his father stopped him, "you did good today, son. I'm proud of you." Hermione watched this scene and smiled as Aengus beamed up at his father.

"Thanks, dad." He smiled as they walked out of the room together.


"You're back!" Aoife said when Hermione walked into the Common Room later that evening.

"Yeah, Abi said Harry needed rest," Hermione said trying to stifle a yawn. "He's already doing much better. His arm is fixed and he's been given plenty of water and food. They're going to remove the cuts tomorrow and the burn should be gone by Saturday."

"That's brilliant news. When will he be allowed back?" Aengus asked.

"Abi said maybe Saturday after the burn has healed, on Friday he has that psychiatrist coming to talk to him so I have to talk to Professor McGonagall to ask if I can have the day off to be with him."

"She'll let you, surely. If not, I'll ask my dad to talk to her." Aoife said.

"Thanks, Aoife. Ron's talking to McGonagall. I need to ask you something, both of you." Hermione said as she stood in front of the fire which gave her a warm glow.

*

"How are we feeling today?" Abi asked Harry softly as she entered the room with her trusty clipboard.

"Much better, thank you for everything," Harry said gratefully.

"Don't thank me, I'm just doing my job. We're going to remove these nasty cuts and scars now." Harry stood up, just in his underwear, as she lifted the cuts, bruises, marks and scars with her wand. They had all gone when she asked, "would you like to remove this scar?" Pointing to the very familiar one on his forehead. He remembered back to what Dumbledore had said about scars being useful.

"No, this one is a reminder of everything. The reminder that we fought hard and won."

"Alright, well, we're all done. Let me check your burn." She peeled back the bandage and smiled, "it's healing much quicker than I expected. I'll put more burn lotion on and check it later, we might be able to get you back to Hogwarts sooner than I anticipated. I'll see if I can get Edgar to see you earlier than tomorrow."

"Sounds good. Will Hermione and Ron be here?"

"If he comes today, I'll contact Professor McGonagall and ask for her permission." Harry nodded at this and smiled slightly, but the smile didn't reach his eyes, it rarely did these days. "I'll bring you in some breakfast." She smiled as she set the clipboard down on the table over the bed.

*

"Hey, you okay?" Aengus said as he sat down next to Hermione in the library.

"Yeah, just thinking," Hermione replied, not taking her gaze off of her book.

"Thinking of Harry?"

Hermione was actually thinking of more than just Harry. She was mainly thinking of the conversation she had had with Aoife about the very same boy sitting next to her. "Yeah." She replied vaguely.

"It must be hard, seeing him like that."

He was right, it was, but it felt very similar to when she saw the cuts and scars on him. "Yeah."

"Curly, I may not have known you for very long, but I know something is on your mind."

She looked at him; he looked so much like Harry it was scary, the eyes, the messy hair. "Aoife said something to me."

"She did? I must tell her off for that..." He said sarcastically.

"She said that I wouldn't be the first one to throw it all away for you."

Aengus looked shocked at this, "why would she say that? Don't worry, I know you'd never do that and I don't intend to make you." He smiled. Before Hermione could say more, he busied himself by looking through his bag for something. She wanted nothing more than to ask him what Aoife was talking about, Aengus had told him that he was with Bree for years.

"Hermione," it was Ron, "McGonagall says you need to go to St. Mungo's."

"What's wrong?" She asked as she stood up from her table rather forcefully knocking all the pieces of paper off.

"Nothing. The psychiatrist is seeing Harry today. I can't make it, McGonagall says I need all the help I can get," he scoffed, "but she said you can go. You have a free period anyway." Ron explained as he, Hermione and Aengus bent down to pick up the fallen paper.

Hermione and Aengus brushed hands and she was surprised to see him blush slightly, "sorry, Curly." He mumbled as he continued to pick up the paper.

"We'll finish up here, you get to Harry. " Ron said to Hermione, "he needs you there." She was hesitant, anxious about what she would hear come out of Harry's mouth. "You're strong." He reassured her as she stood up.

*
"You came." Harry smiled when Hermione walked into his room.

"Of course I did. Why wouldn't I?" Hermione did her best to sound happy for him.

"Everything alright?"

"Course. You look much better." She still hadn't walked over to his bed, she was scared and wasn't sure why.

"Yeah, I feel it too."

The air was filled with an awkward silence, neither of them knew what to say. "Harry, I'm sorry for making you see someone; if I had let you do what you wanted to do, none of this would have happened."

"I know you didn't mean for it to happen like this, don't blame yourself."

What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she talk to him anymore, why didn't the conversation flow? "So, are you looking forward to coming back to Hogwarts?"

Harry looked slightly to the left of Hermione, sensing something was awry. "I guess, looking forward to going back to normal."

Normal, that was what Hermione wanted, but she felt like the norm was alien to her. "I've missed you." She forced herself to look into his eyes. He looked into hers at the same time; the connection sent butterflies through her stomach, that must be a good sign.

"I've missed you too." He smiled a weak, faint smile.

"Hello, hello. Sorry, I kept you waiting. When Abi told me I was seeing Harry Potter...well, I couldn't believe my luck. But never mind that, I'm Edgar Furman. Nice to meet you." He directed the last bit at Hermione, who was still standing by the door. He was a short, plump wizard in a pinstripe suit. He had amazingly curly hair which stuck out in all angles.

"Nice to meet you, Mr Furman, I'm Hermione."

"Of course, of course. Hermione Granger. All we need is Ron Weasley and we've completed the puzzle. Joking, of course. I'm not looking to score 'celeb' points, just to help. Right, shall we get started?" Hermione finally uprooted herself, there was a comfy chair right next to Harry's bed which she sat in. "Where to begin? That is the most important question. Some say the beginning and I happen to...agree with them. Let's start there." Harry nodded, he knew that. "Righty, I have some notes from what you said the other day about your aunt and uncle. Would you like to talk about that?"

"I guess I felt like an outsider the whole time there. They accepted me but could never accept who I was. My whole childhood I felt like I didn't belong anywhere and that is because they hid who I really was. They had to, they didn't know what else to do. I just wish I realised that they didn't do what they did to me out of hatred, it was out of fear. They were, in their own twisted way, trying to protect me from what killed my parents. That's all they were doing. They said they had tried to squash the magic out of me, what if it was because they didn't want me to know what really happened to my mum and dad; they didn't want me to go through the same thing as they did."

"Do you hate them for what they put you through?" Edgar asked.

"I hate what they put me through. I don't know if I hated them, at times I definitely did."

"You saved them. Just before you went out to destroy Voldemort, you sent them away. You gave them a safe place to be. Were you returning the favour?"

This was something he hadn't really thought about, did he do what he did because he felt like he owed them something? "I did it because I didn't want them to get hurt. When I had nothing, they looked after me, I guess I did return the favour."

"Can I suggest something? I think that you look back at your life with your aunt and uncle as something dark because you found light at Hogwarts. They pushed you away, I think because they knew deep down that you wouldn't be there for long. Maybe they didn't want you to think they were replacing your parents, I don't know. But if you think about it, I mean really think about it; yes, they did horrible things to you, they locked you up and left you out but not out of spite, like you said, out of fear of losing you too. Your aunt already lost her sister to magic, my bet is, she didn't want to lose her nephew to it too. You found a better place at Hogwarts but when it came down to it, you protected those three, rotten members of your family." Edgar suddenly started acting professional, that explained the normal-looking suit.

"You're right. They are the only family I have, they did what they were asked to do: they looked out for me."

"That's what families do, they looked out for you and you looked out for them." Hermione smiled, she suddenly felt close to Harry again, everything from before had washed away.

"So, what I want you to try and do is tell me about all the nice things they did for you," Edgar said calmly.

Harry thought about this, he thought that they hadn't done anything nice for him. "They gave me Dudley's second bedroom." Harry stuttered.

"They didn't have to shut you in the cupboard to begin with." Hermione pointed out.

This was true, "they took me to the zoo."

"Because they couldn't arrange somewhere for you to go in time." Harry gave Hermione a quick glance, he was trying so desperately hard to think of something nice they had done.

"Do you want me to tell you the answer?" Edgar interjected. "They took you in. They feed you. They clothed you. They could have given you up, could have sent you to an orphanage or a care home, but they didn't." That was true, but surely they had to do that. "Albus Dumbledore wanted you to live with Muggles, you could have done that anywhere."

Harry looked at Hermione; this information wasn't new to him, he was aware that they could have given him to anyone else if they had hated him that much. "You're right. They did accept me, they let me go to Hogwarts. I just misunderstood things."

"They're your family." Hermione smiled, "they love you and you love them. They'll always be there for you if you need them." She took his hand which made him smile.

He felt better, he was glad he had talked through it. "It'll take some time but, I promise you, you will feel much better about your childhood. Just remember the good aspects of it and don't hide it in darkness." Edgar instructed. "Right, do you feel like talking more? Or do you need a rest?"

"I want to carry on," Harry said, he was on a roll and didn't want to slow himself down.

"Let's go to the elephant in the room then. Voldemort."

Harry nodded slowly, "where to I start with him?"

"I know how you feel, Harry. Your life has been controlled by him. Now, you don't know what to do with yourself, am I right?"

"Yes. I never thought the war would end, but now it has, I'm lost. I don't know what to do, I don't know how to act. Do I pretend like it didn't happen?"

"What do you want to do?"

"Some...sometimes I-" Harry stuttered, finding it hard to get his words out.

"Go on, Harry. It's a safe place here." Edgar reminded him.

"Sometimes I think that people don't care what I, what we," he added when he looked at Hermione, "did. We risked our lives and we haven't been thanked, not really. The odd people have when we went to the funerals, but other than that, I can't remember anyone being grateful."

"Maybe they're still getting over it. Maybe they think you've got enough to do." Edgar offered.

"I have nothing to do. My whole life was lead up to killing Voldemort, that's all I know how to do."

"Balderdash. You know how to do other things."

"Like what? I feel like I've just been a robot, everyone telling me what to do and when to do it. It's like I've never had a chance to do what I want to do."

"You know how to love. That's something you can only be taught if you are loved. You know how to smile, how to laugh. You're dragging yourself down. Basing you life on one, albeit large, event that happened. What about the smaller things in between that? What about the friendships and relationships you formed along the way? The bonds that can never be broken. People are grateful; I for one can not thank you enough, but I don't. Because I feel like it would bother you if I did. Imagine endless amounts of people coming up to you, thanking you whenever they saw you. You did a wonderful thing for the world and that won't be forgotten. But, at the moment, it's a very personal time for everyone - there was so much love lost, some many lives cut short. They'll be thinking about the people they lost, their heroes. But that doesn't mean you're not a hero, it doesn't mean you're not appreciated. Everyone feels a bit like you, a bit lost." His voice was so calm and soothing, it made Harry feel safe and comfortable. "Do you know how I see it? Everyone's way of thanking you for what you did is by giving you a peaceful life, the life you deserve."

"What do I do now then?" Harry asked.

"Whatever you want," Edgar answered. "If anyone deserves that, it's you three. I'm not telling you to forget about it all, it's something that will forever stay with you, but your life has started again."

"But what about everyone who died?"

"Let me ask you something, would you blame Ron and Hermione if you died?"

"No," Harry said defiantly.

"Why is that?"

"Because Voldemort did what he did, no one could stop him from killing if he had his mind set on it."

"Then that means you can't blame yourself."

"Yes I can, I should have stopped him sooner."

"But you could argue other people could have found the Horcruxes sooner. Why did they leave it all down to you? Do you blame Dumbledore?"

"I did. I was angry at him for keeping me in the dark for so long, but no. Not anymore."

"Harry, everything you're saying is contradictory. You can't argue you wouldn't blame anyone else, but you do blame yourself. The war started before you were born, Harry. They weren't fighting for you, they were fighting with you. It wasn't just your battle to fight. They didn't die for you and they didn't die because of you."

"Then why does it feel like that?" Harry asked innocently.

"You're not seeing it from anyone else's point of view. Hermione, why did you join Harry?"

"I wanted to help him, but also to protect my parents." She answered honestly.

"Do you see now, Harry? Even Hermione didn't to it just for you. She had her reasons too. Like everything, it'll take time for you to realise you aren't to blame. But I can wholeheartedly say that I do not blame you."

"I don't either, Harry. Neither do the Weasleys." Hermione added.

"The only person who blames you is you."

"I'm not to blame, it's not my fault. They gave their lives for their families, not me." Harry said under his breath, trying to get himself to believe it.

"You're not to blame, it's not your fault. They gave their lives for their families, not you." Edgar repeated to him.

Suddenly, Harry did believe it. He finally saw it wasn't all about him, they didn't fight to save his life. A massive weight dropped off of his shoulders. He looked at Hermione and smiled; the smile finally reaching his eyes, she smiled back and began to laugh. In a matter of seconds, all three of them were laughing and smiling. Hermione stood up to give Harry a hug as she wiped a tear off her cheek. "I've missed you," Hermione whispered - Harry Potter was back.

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