“So it all comes down to this, doesn't it?” whispered Harry. “Does the wand in your hand know its last master was disarmed? Because if it does… I am the true master of the Elder Wand.”
A red-gold glow burst suddenly across the enchanted sky above them as an edge of dazzling sun appeared over the sill of the nearest window. The light hit both of their faces at the same time, so that Voldemort's was suddenly a flaming blur. Harry heard the high voice shriek as he too yelled his best hope to the heavens, pointing Draco's wand:
“Avada Kedavra!” “Expelliarmus!”
Harry hisses in pain, finding it odd that the Killing Curse hurt this time. Perhaps it’s because he already died once. There’s certainly that same blinding white that he saw before he ended up at King’s Cross Station with Dumbledore, but the pain…it just doesn’t make sense.
The ghostly voice of Sirius floats through his mind saying, “Quicker than falling asleep.”
“Then why does it fucking hurt?” Harry groans out against the memory.
“That’s to be expected, Potter.”
His distress is momentarily forgotten and replaced with confusion. Harry would know that posh, drawling voice anywhere. “Malfoy?”
“Who else would it be? Granger refused to let anyone else come near you.”
Harry moans as another wave of pain overtakes him. “Am I…” he starts to ask. Dead? That seems unlikely, given his current discomfort and presence of Draco Malfoy. Seeing his old headmaster in the afterlife was one thing, but this is another altogether.
“You’re alive, if that’s what you’re wondering. Here, this will help with the pain. Open up.”
He nods his head in response, parting his lips and allowing whatever form of Draco this is to pour something down this throat. He swallows and almost sighs in relief as the potion starts to overpower the pain. Harry is just starting to accept the fact that he somehow survived the Killing Curse- again- when he thinks about the caster of said curse. “And what about Tom?” he asks Draco. “Did he survive as well?”
“Was Tom your partner?”
“What? No. Tom Riddle.”
Draco makes a choking sound that echoes loud around them. “Uhm…” he clears his throat before regaining his composure. “No, but Potter… what year do you think it is?”
That’s an odd question. “1998. Why?”
“Potter. Open your eyes.”
Oh. It hadn’t occurred to Harry that his eyes were still closed. After all, he figured he was dead up until a few moments ago. Slowly he forces his eyelids open. He blinks against the sudden onslaught of light, rubbing his eyes at the effort. “Where are my glasses?”
“You haven’t worn them in years- not voluntarily, at least- but we had to take out your contact lenses when you were brought in so Granger brought this old pair by.” Draco hands him the glasses, aiding in slipping the temples atop Harry’s ears.
Harry is just about to ask when Hermione and Draco became friends when the room comes into clarity. And that includes the person in it. He gasps. “Malfoy! You…you…” he can’t find the words to accurately describe the changes he sees so he goes with, “your hair.”
Draco, oddly enough, chuckles at his outburst. “You had pretty much that same reaction the first time you saw it.”
“The first time…? I don’t understand.”
“Potter,” he sighs before summoning the bedside chair and leaning casually on its armrest, ankles crossed. “Harry,” he tries again, earning another shocked look from the man in question, “It’s 2004. You killed Riddle six years ago and you’ve been an auror for the Ministry pretty much ever since.”
Harry can feel himself gaping but he just can’t seem to wrap his mind around what he’s hearing, let alone form the words necessary to respond.
Blessedly, Draco doesn’t wait for him to do so. “You your partner were brought in a few weeks ago. I don’t know the details of what happened, only that you were both injured. Your partner claims you sacrificed yourself to save his life, something I’m willing to believe given your savior nature.”
“M-my partner? Is it Ron?”
“If your partner was Weasley, don’t you think I would have just said that?” he quips.
Harry almost smiles. That’s the Draco he knows and bickered with for years. “Fair enough. So what’s the story with the hair?”
Draco runs his fingers through the short, brown locks with a huff. “It’s brilliant what a simple change in appearance will make people forget. True, some still ask for a new healer when they hear my name but at least they don’t run away at the mere sight of me.”
The change is truly quite startling, so different from the platinum blonde Harry was expecting. And then there’s the fact that Draco is now a healer. Harry takes in the standard lime-green robes worn by the healers at St. Mungo’s. He may not be able to place the present time but at least he knows where he is.
“Now back to you. The healers were forced to put you into a magically-induced coma,” Draco says without making eye contact.
“Was I hurt that badly?”
His gaze remains firmly on the floor.
“Malfoy. You have to tell me.”
“Can’t you feel it?” he asks cryptically.
Harry slowly starts to take in his physical state. He’s lying down, propped up slightly by few pillows behind his shoulders and neck. His head feels heavy but otherwise not outside of the ordinary. His arms and hands seem to moving okay. He peeks inside his shirt and sees the dark magic scar still prominently in the center of his chest. He starts to pat down his torso and hips when he notices that end of the bed looks strange.
“What happened??” he screams as he flips back the covers.
There’s a loud sniff and Harry doesn’t dare glance over at Draco for fear of what he’ll see on his former rival’s face. And he isn’t sure he could rip his eyes away from his own horror even if he tried. There, where his right leg used to be, from the thigh down, is nothing.
“What. Happened.” It is no longer a question. Harry demands it this time.
“They tried everything,” Draco says shakily, the waver evident in his voice. “There was so much dark magic, you shouldn’t have survived it at all.”
“But…what about Skele-grow? Pomfrey grew the bones back in my arm in our second year! Why didn’t they just do that?”
“Why not??” This can’t be happening, it just can’t. First he wakes up with six years suddenly missing from his life and now he’s also missing a leg. It’s all too much.
“It just wasn’t possible to-”
“It’s MAGIC! Since when is any of what we do supposed to be POSSIBLE??”
“Harry, you have to calm down s-”
“NO! I’m missing my fucking leg! I won’t calm down! Give me my wand! I can fix this!”
Draco tries to administer a calming draught but Harry pushes him away. Thankfully, they have some formulated to be used as an injection and Harry can’t fight what he doesn’t see coming. The change in his demeanor is almost immediate and Draco drops into the bedside chair in exhaustion. He watches as the potion takes effect. “Feeling better?” he asks.
“No.” Harry growls, though it sounds more like a gurgle due to his relaxed state.
“That’s fine. You’ve endured a massive amount of trauma. Physiohealers will help you learn to move again, and there are mind healers that will work you through coming to terms with what’s happened.”
“I don’t want to see any healers. I want to get my wand and go home.”
“I can’t give you your wand. It’s been confiscated.”
“Some of the healers think your wand might have been part of the problem.”
“What does my wand have to do with anything?”
“You’ve been using the wrong one.”
Harry may not remember recent events but he definitely remembers his own wand snapping in half during his fight against Nagini in Godric’s Hollow. What has he been using since? Perhaps Draco’s still? “Certainly I’ve given you your wand back, considering we’re somehow friends.”
“Friends might be a strong word.” Harry pulls a look so unimpressed that Draco apologizes. “Sorry. What I mean to say was, you valiantly returned my wand back in ’98. Then you went and bought yourself a new one even though Mister Ollivander told you it wouldn’t work. But no, you thought you could handle the magic. You thought you knew better. And the healers think that when you tried to block the Killing Curse from hitting your partner, it was just too much. The magic converged with your own and it hit your leg. That’s why they couldn’t save it.”
Harry is too relaxed to stop the tears from flowing down his face. This isn’t how things were supposed to happen. He was supposed to kill Voldemort, save the world, and then be free. Why did he even go on to be an auror? Wasn’t it Barty Crouch Jr. pretending to be Mad-Eye Moody that first planted the idea in his head? Now he’ll never be able to live the life he wants.
Draco slips his hand into Harry’s and gives a gentle squeeze. “Whatever you’re thinking in that head of yours, stop it. This isn’t the end. You’re alive. And if anyone can overcome adversity it’s the Golden Boy.” Watery green eyes meet his with disbelief, but Draco simply shrugs. “I wouldn’t bet against you, that’s for sure.”
One might think that losing a major limb and several years of your life would be the biggest shock you could awake to, but being comforted by Draco Malfoy definitely takes the cake. Harry holds onto his hand like it’s a lifeline. And maybe it is.
Now that he’s awake, Harry’s hospital room is filled with a seemingly nonstop rotation of healers and aurors. The former all come in to poke and prod at him and force him to choke down vial after vial of potions (the threat of injecting them against his will is always there, so Harry complies if only so the choice is his- even if in reality there is no choice at all). The latter come in to thank him for his bravery. Harry’s not sure which one is worse.
One bright moment is ‘meeting’ his auror partner, a wizard in his thirties called William Bellows. Apparently he joined the aurors after the rebuild of the Ministry following the war. He lost his parents and husband to a Death Eater attack and decided this would be his way to honor their memory. Harry likes him, and wishes he could remember their years working together.
Another bright moment comes when Hermione and Ron rush in to see him. They make it awkward by being afraid to touch him, though Harry understands their hesitation and he doesn’t blame them. It’s just an ugly look into the future. This is how everyone will treat him from now on, like he’s broken. And isn’t that the truth?
Hermione desperately tries to fill in all of the blanks in his memory, but it’s too much and it exhausts Harry. Ron promises to stay with him so Hermione gives them both a kiss on the cheek before turning to leave the room. At least this is familiar, Harry thinks to himself right before Draco Malfoy walks in and gets a kiss of his own- only his is on the lips instead of his cheek. He wraps an arm around Hermione’s shoulders and the two leave together.
They don’t see Harry gawking at their backs but Ron sure does. He snorts and says, “Weird, right? You’ll get used to it after a while.”
“Bu-but…” Harry stammers. Once in school Luna spoke of the possibility of there being an infinite number of universes, some similar to their own and some very different. Harry considers, however briefly, that she may have been right and that the dark curse he fell victim to sent him to one of those other universes. He shakes his head to dislodge the very notion. There has to be a reasonable explanation. “How? What happened?” he begs to know.
Ron tilts his head and shrugs. “Malfoy’s not so bad anymore. In fact, you were the one that made me realize he’s actually sort of funny. The bloke loves Quidditch almost as much as I do and he’s good to ‘Mione.” Another shrug. “And after all was said and done… I just… wasn’t the person that she deserved.”
This is all somehow harder to come to terms with than anything else. Ron and Hermione were meant for each other! Sure, they fought, but they challenged each other and balanced each other out. They made each other better. He needs them together to anchor him to this new reality.
Harry’s face must be quite crestfallen because Ron leans forward and assures him that they’re all still friends. “We’ve been through too much- and we still love each other, even if not in that way. We agreed to never give up our friendship, especially not for the likes of Malfoy. In fact, the five of us spend a lot of time together.”
“Sure. ‘Mione, Malfoy, you, me, and Nina.”
“Oh,” Ron’s mouth tilts down slightly before breaking into a tiny grin. “Right. If you don’t remember anything after the final battle, then you wouldn’t know about Nina. She’s the oldest of Dean’s younger sisters. Would have been two years behind us in school, had she been a witch.”
Harry doesn’t care that Ron’s dating a muggle but it still comes as a surprise. He’s glad to see a smile on the redhead. “And she knows about magic, obviously, from Dean?”
“Yeah, though I don’t use it too much anymore, just little bits around the flat and every once in a while at work when it could save someone.”
“What do you do? Malfoy said you aren’t an auror…” he tries to keep the betrayal out of his voice.
“Fireman.” Ron says the word proudly, his chest puffing out a bit. “Sometimes I miss having a beard- or at least the option to grow one out like Bill- but it’s rewarding work. And like I said… I use a bit of magic when I need to. My captain knows because he caught me once and I had to have the Department of Muggle Affairs come out and talk to him but he agreed to me staying on because I’m able to keep more people safe.”
Harry’s smiling now too, Ron’s pride infectious. He can just imagine his best friend racing into burning buildings and hoisting people up onto his shoulders. That’s when he notices that Ron’s aforementioned shoulders are quite muscled, much more than they were in school. It reminds him of Charlie (though Ron is a great deal taller than his dragon-handling brother) but just as he’s about to ask Ron about him, Harry moans in pain. He doesn’t know how much time has passed as they chatted but it must have been enough for his potions to wear off.
Ron is up and out of the room in an instant, bringing back one of the many mediwitches he’s seen before. Harry is given another round of potions, each one more disgusting than the last. He hates how they make him feel drowsy but he loves the quick-acting nature of them. That’s one advantage to magic over medicine, he thinks as he yawns.
“Go ahead and sleep,” Ron says when they’re alone again. “I’ll firecall Mum and let her know you’re alright, or, well-” he blanches, glancing down to where Harry’s leg used to be, “You know what I mean. I’ll tell her to let you rest but then be prepared because she’ll be here and you know how she is.”
“I’ll welcome the familiarity,” Harry says warmly.
They both chuckle, Harry’s ending in yet another yawn. He tries to fight his eyelids as they grow heavier and heavier but it’s no use. He lets the potions drag him down into a deep sleep, finally allowing his mind to rest.