Questions and Answers


Story Summary:
What happens when the past collides with the present and threatens to cast the Potters' and Weasleys' lives into disarray...

Chapter 36 - Under Pressure


Arthur put a hand on the side of the fireplace and pulled himself to his feet, his knees creaking as he did so. 'I'm getting too old for this,' he muttered, stretching the stiff muscles of his back. He wandered into the kitchen and pulled out a chair from the table. 'That's the lot,' he said tiredly. 'Ron said he'd ring Hermione at her mother's and try to take over for a few hours so Hermione can come to the hospital tomorrow. The others will try to come down when they can.'

'That's good,' Molly said, directing dinner preparations. 'We need to fetch some clothing over for the children,' she sighed.

'I'll go.' Arthur stood up and went to the back door, reaching a long arm into the scullery for a canvas bag as he did so. He glanced out the window. Lily sat on the grass under a tree; her knees drawn up to her chin, with her stuffed bunny tucked under one arm. The brown ears flopped comically over her head, tickling her ear, but she didn't seem to notice. 'I'm taking Lily with me.'

'Fine.' Molly flicked her wand at a cupboard, sending a stack of plates to the table. She watched as Arthur stopped at the apple tree, holding one hand out to Lily. Lily immediately took his hand, the two of them walked through the garden gate, disappearing a moment later. She went upstairs to the attic, where James lay on the bed, his hands behind his head, staring at the shadows playing across the ceiling. 'Dinner will be ready soon,' she said. James merely nodded. Molly sighed and perched on the edge of the bed, smoothing James' unruly hair, smiling with it sprang back to its previous configuration. No matter what James did to it, it refused to lie down. Just like his father's...

James glared at Molly. 'What?' he asked.

Unperturbed, Molly settled on the bed a bit more. Surly teenagers were nothing new to her. 'It wasn't that you went to the hospital this morning,' she said. 'It was that you just left a note saying you were leaving.'

'Would have let me go see Dad on my own?' he challenged.

'I might have,' Molly allowed.

James rolled over to his right side, facing away from his grandmother. 'I just needed to go see Dad for myself.'

'I understand,' Molly said gently. 'But the fact remains you didn't tell me where you were going. That was rather irresponsible of you.'

'But I left a note!' James protested, sitting up.

Molly's lips twitched. 'In that respect, you've come a long way from your uncles George, Fred, and Ron. They snuck out in the middle of the night in your grandfather's flying car to pick up your father from his Muggle relatives. Didn't even have the courtesy to leave a note,' she sniffed. 'So, as long as you're staying here, you don't leave the garden or paddock without permission from me or your grandfather.'

'Grandmum! That's entirely out of order!' James nearly shouted.

Molly raised a censorious eyebrow. 'I can confine you to the house, you know,' she said calmly. 'Like I said this morning, all you had to do was ask.'

James fell back against the mattress. 'Fine,' he grumbled.

'And you get to do the washing up after meals,' Molly added. James' eyes lit up. He could get away with doing magic at the Burrow over the summer holiday. Molly's lips twitched again. She knew exactly what he was thinking. 'Without magic.'

'Ah, bloody...' James clamped his lips shut, eyeing the wand in Molly's apron. He could still taste the soap she'd used to wash his and Rose's mouths out a few summers ago. 'All right.'

Molly patted James' knee and got off the bed. She started to leave the room, but turned in the doorway. 'James, why didn't you go see your father again?'

James shrugged. 'Don't like hospitals,' he muttered.

Molly's eyes narrowed, as she watched James curl on his side again to face the wall. James had been in St. Mungo's before. It hadn't seemed to bother him then.


Ginny leaned over the bed, brushing Harry's hair away from his forehead, before pressing a kiss to it. 'I'll be back first thing in the morning,' she promised. 'Maybe I'll stop at the house first and bring your book with me. We can read it together.' Her fingers tightened on his, and she glanced at the Healer hovering in the doorway. 'If he wakes up, I want to be notified immediately.'

The young Healer nodded. 'Yes, ma'am.'

Ginny slung her bag over her shoulder and brushed one last kiss over Harry's cheek, before she left the room and walked into the waiting area. She stopped in mid-step when she saw Bill sprawled in one of the chairs, the newest edition of CounterCharm . 'Bill, what on earth are you doing here?'

Bill glanced up over the edge of the magazine. 'Dad called earlier this afternoon. Thought you could use some moral support, but that Auror guarding the double doors wouldn't let me through.'

Ginny blinked a few times. 'That's ridiculous,' she spluttered. 'They know you're family.'

'He has a list,' Bill said disgustedly. 'When did Percy start training Aurors?'

'Never, as far as I know,' Ginny replied. She looked back at the doors at the unfamiliar Auror. 'Must be a newbie in the training program,' she said to Bill in an undertone. 'Looks terrified.'

'They'll let anyone be an Auror these days,' Bill growled, baring his teeth at the trainee in a feral grin.

'Stop that,' Ginny chided, smacking Bill on the back of his head. 'You'll make him wet himself.' She retraced her steps to the trainee. 'Hiya. I'm Ginny Potter. I'm going to give you a list of people that will be allowed to go to Harry's room any time they want. Understand?' She gave the trainee a withering glare she had perfected on James.

'Uh... okay...'

'Right.' Ginny took a deep breath. 'Do try to keep up... Arthur Weasley, Molly Weasley, Andromeda Tonks, Ted Lupin, William Weasley, Fleur Weasley, Victoire Weasley, Madeline Weasley, Alexander Weasley, Nicholas Weasley, Charles Weasley, Bronwyn Rhys-Weasley, Isabella Weasley, Aiden Weasley, Owen Weasley, Percival Weasley, Penelope Weasley, Parker Weasley, Patrick Weasley, Peyton Weasley, George Weasley, Katherine Weasley, Frederick Weasley, Jacob Weasley, Sophia Weasley, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger-Weasley, Rose Weasley, Hugo Weasley, James Potter, Albus Potter, and Lily Potter.' Ginny paused to let the young man finish scribbling the names to his list. 'Oh, and Neville and Hannah Longbottom, and Rafael Moreno and Gareth Shacklebolt.' She smiled with sickening sweetness at the trainee. 'Any questions?'


'Brilliant.' Ginny spun around and went back to Bill. 'There. I was "official" and used your given names, so you're on there as William.'

'Thanks,' Bill said dryly.

'I'm at Mum and Dad's if anything happens, all right?'

'I'll call you if something happens,' Bill said.

'Thanks, Bill.' Ginny scooped a handful of Floo powder and threw it into the fireplace. She stepped into the emerald flames. 'The Burrow.'


James smiled humorlessly as the rain pelted against the roof of the house. It fit his mood. Ginny had come home from the hospital a few hours ago, but she'd been distracted, incessantly twisting Harry's wedding ring around her thumb. She'd stared off into space, not quite ignoring them, but not really able to focus on anything around her.

He lifted his head when he heard a soft knock on the door. It opened to reveal Lily, clutching her ratty stuffed bunny, the quilt from her bed dragging behind her. 'James?' sniff 'Can I...' sniff 'Come sleep with you?' sniff sniff


Lily opened and closed her mouth a few times. 'Don't like thunder,' she said mulishly.

James opened his mouth to tell her no, but he flipped the bedclothes back. 'Come on,' he said gruffly. He knew it was a lie. Lily wasn't scared of much of anything. She would cavort in the back garden during storms until her lips turned blue and Ginny or Harry had to force her to come inside. Lily nearly tripped over the quilt as she ran to the bed, and climbed in. James tucked the bedding around her perfunctorily. 'Don't start talking,' he warned her. 'This isn't some bloody slumber party.'

'Okay.' Lily shifted a few times, trying to settle into the bed.

James endured it with what he thought was unusual patience for him until he couldn't handle being nudged in the stomach anymore. 'Quit it, Lily!'

Lily froze. 'Sorry...' She began to twiddle one of the bunny's ears. 'James?'


'What if Dad...?' Lily trailed off.

'What if Dad what?'

Lily gulped. 'Dies,' she whispered.

'Hush, Lily,' James told her. 'That's not going to happen.'

'You don't know that!' Lily nearly screeched, bolting upright.

'Shhhhhh!' James hissed, putting his hand over Lily's mouth. 'You'll wake everyone.' Lily's wide brown eyes narrowed over the edge of James' hand, and she licked his palm. 'Ewww.' James wiped his hand on the back of Lily's pajamas in disgust.

'Well, don't put your hand over my mouth,' Lily said smugly.

'Dad's not going to die, all right?' James insisted.

'Why? Because you say so?' snorted Lily.


James glanced up at the doorway. Al stood just inside, carrying his pillow and a blanket. 'Can I sleep in here?'

James rolled his eyes. 'Really?'

'James, please...' Al fiddled with the hem of his t-shirt, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot.

'Fine...' James sighed and threw himself back down. 'Could both of you just go to sleep?'

Al nudged Lily's abandoned quilt with a toe. 'Lils, are you going to use that?'

'No.' She had already begun to burrow into James' pillow.

Al spread Lily's quilt over the floor and dropped his pillow on top of it. He settled on the quilt and draped his blanket over himself. 'Night...'


Ginny lay in her old bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering if it was too early to get up and go back to the hospital. It had been four days since Shacklebolt had shown up at her door, and Harry was no closer to waking up now than he had been the first day. The despair she'd felt from the first moment she had walked into that ominously silent room was starting to bleed through the cracks. The children saw it. Al and Lily had taken to sleeping in the attic with James, who didn't seem to mind the company. That was what had told Ginny, more than their actions, that she wasn't fooling them, any more than she was fooling herself.

Al, who was generally quieter than James or Lily, was even more so than usual. He would join her in Harry's room for his allotted time, but spent most of it with his lips clamped together, gazing at the panel, counting the soft beeps of Harry's pulse. Lily would count the drips from the potion bottles suspended over the bed, asking a million questions about what potion did what. Even more telling, her Hogwarts letter had arrived the day before, and other than a small smile, Lily hadn't mentioned it to anyone. And James... Ginny scrubbed her hands over her face. James came to the hospital with Molly and Arthur, but refused to step foot beyond those damned double doors. He would go up to the tearoom readily enough to fetch cups of tea for her, as long as she met him in the waiting area. He didn't want to talk about Harry; he didn't want Ginny to talk about Harry. In fact, James didn't want to talk at all.

The others came by when they could. Bill, Ron, or George would drop by in the evenings for a bit, usually with food. Penny, Katie, and Fleur came during the days with books, magazines, and sympathy. Bronwyn managed to take a few days off from the dragon reservation's infirmary and came to work on Harry, translating the Healer-speak into English for Ginny. Charlie just came to sit with her, not needing to talk about anything - a welcome relief for Ginny who needed the silence at that moment. Hermione had managed to trade places with Ron yesterday and come for an hour. Seeing Hermione come through the door gave Ginny a faint ray of hope. Hermione had been hit by the same curse when she was sixteen, and had survived. She had also been unconscious for an awfully long time, too - over three days. Ginny remembered all the potions she'd had to take for months afterward. The myriad vials had appeared next to her plate at meals, much to Hermione's dismay. They were foul, with a stench that could have easily removed most of the grime from the walls of the dungeon where the Potions class met. And Percy, bless him, held off reporters, keeping them away from the Burrow and the hospital. Ginny was grateful for that. She could come and go without being molested by reporters. Teddy came every day. Most of the time he helped keep an eye on the children in the waiting area, but once they were gone, he slipped back to Harry's room to sit with Ginny until she left for the evening. Victoire usually slipped in between her classes for a few minutes. She took the time to answer Lily's questions, to explain what the numbers on the panel meant to Al. She usually stopped to talk to James, but he just responded in monosyllabic grunts.

Deciding enough was enough; Ginny rolled out of bed and gathered her dressing gown from the chair at the old desk. She hauled herself up to the bathroom and ducked into a hot shower, hoping it would chase the cobwebs that had taken up permanent residence in her brain. She had heard of Muggles who were like this for ages. Ginny wondered if that were to happen to Harry if she would be able to do this every day.


Al perched in the attic windowsill, watching James and Lily sleep in the single bed. Death wasn't a subject Albus Potter lingered on very often. Death was a fact of life for him. His family was littered with the dead - his father's parents and godfather; Teddy's parents and his grandfather, for whom he was named; Uncle Fred. Even their names. All three of them were named after somebody in the family: James for their grandfather James and Sirius; Al for the two previous Hogwarts' Headmasters; Lily for their grandmother Lily and Teddy's mum, Nymphadora. Al just accepted the idea that people died and that was that. The question of whether or not they lived on - that was something he thought about constantly.

He wondered about his grandfather, Teddy's father, and his father's godfather. He had heard stories about them and their adventures in school. He knew his grandfather James and Sirius had spent nearly four years figuring out how to become Animagi for Teddy's dad. Al could spend hours ruminating on whether or not the dead were actually able to see them. Were they proud of what his father had accomplished? Did their namesakes really watch over them, like Harry maintained? When they were small and the weather was bad, Harry used to produce his Patronus, promising to teach them how to do it when they were older. Every time, a large, silvery stag stood calmly in the sitting room for a moment, before it cantered around the room, stopping at each of them, nuzzling their heads briefly, before it disappeared.

Al let his head rest against the cool glass of the window, his breath fogging the panes. Through the smudges of the window he saw a flash of dark red hair, and rubbed the sleeve of his long-sleeved t-shirt over the mist on the window in time to see Ginny slip through the garden gate and Disapparate. She was going back to the hospital. Al didn't blame her. It was better than lying awake, counting the cracks in the plaster walls, waiting for a more 'appropriate' time to go. At any rate, going to the hospital made him feel less helpless. At least there, he knew what was going on.



'Hold still,' Victoire said pitilessly. 'If you move, it's harder to get a blood sample without it hurting.'

Teddy sucked his offended middle finger, glaring at her. 'D' you have to poke so damn hard?'

'Yes.' Victoire held out her hand imperiously.

'Do they teach you that attitude in your Healer classes?' Teddy asked, scowling.

'Yes. Hand, please.'

Teddy reluctantly extended his hand out to Victoire again, and she firmly massaged his middle finger toward the tip, then firmly holding his hand still, jabbed a thin, sharp needle into the tip of the finger. Teddy hissed in pain, but didn't move. Victoire held the finger over a vial of a colorless potion, and squeezed several drops of blood into it. She put a bit of ordinary Muggle sticking plaster over the small wound, and prodded the liquid with her wand, muttering an incantation too indistinct for Teddy to hear. 'What's supposed to happen?' he asked.

'If I've done it right, if you're a werewolf, it will turn a sort of sick, mustard yellow. Kind of like the goo that comes out of Nicky's nose when he's sick.


'Again, try growing up with it,' Victoire sighed. 'If you're not a werewolf, it'll turn bright blue. Almost like the loch behind the school.'

'How long do we have to wait?'

'Just a minute,' Victoire replied, keeping one eye on the vial.

'What if it's something like me, or your dad?'

'It'll still be blue. It only turns yellow if you're able to turn other people into werewolves.'

Teddy felt his heart pound in his throat. 'What if it turns yellow...?' he asked tightly.

'You're luckier than your father was. You'll be able to get Wolfsbane here every month. And you can thank Aunt Hermione for helping to pass legislation that classifies lycanthropy as a manageable disease and not something that automatically disqualifies you from participating in society.'

'What about you?' Teddy mumbled.

'What about me?'

Teddy reached over and fingered the small ring swinging from Victoire's neck. 'That.'

Victoire's eyebrow arched and she shook her head. 'I'm not going anywhere,' she said softly. 'Regardless of what color that potion turns.'

Teddy took a deep breath, and craned his head to see over Victoire's shoulder. His eyes closed briefly, then opened again, as if to confirm what he saw, and his arms wrapped around Victoire, his face buried against the side of her neck, body shaking.

The potion was blue.


James plopped into the chair he'd begun to think of as "his" in the waiting area. He could see the entrance to the Spell Damage floor waiting area and the swinging doors that led to his father's room without having to turn his head. He could see everyone come and go, refuse to go through those doors when Ginny appeared at them, and catch the nonverbal signal from his grandparents it was time to leave, with little or no effort at all.

He leaned back, and stretched his feet out. They would be here for quite some time, if the past four days were any indication of the length of their stay. Al brought his summer homework, and James had tried, but was unable to focus on it properly. He was making mistakes on his Potions essay that a first year wouldn't make. He gave it up as a bad job and tried to read, or pretended to read, his Charms textbook instead.

He saw Ginny stride through the doors and racked his brain for an excuse. He was running out of them. He didn't think 'I feel a cold coming on' would work today. Molly had given him a massive dose of Pepper-Up last night when she'd overheard him tell Ginny he didn't think he should go back to see Harry due to a cold.

Much to his relief, Ginny just ran a hand over his head in greeting, with a soft, 'All right, then?'

'Yeah.' Ginny nodded and went to take Lily back to the room, leaving James to stare sightlessly at the page on Silencing charms. He heard Teddy and Victoire come up the stairs and swiftly buried his nose into the book, trying to look purposely busy. Neither of them actively tried to push James into going to see Harry, but the fact he was the only one who hadn't made James' stomach burn with guilt. Even Aunt Hermione had managed to get away from her sick mother to come by.

James looked up when Victoire sank into the chair next to his. 'So?' she asked neutrally.

James ran a finger over the edge of the book, shrugging. 'Not like he knows I'm there,' he said.

'Perhaps,' Victoire mused. 'I've picked up a few Muggle journals, just to see what they say, and a lot of them think they can hear you.'

Shrugging, James closed his book with a sigh. 'I'd just be in the way. You know... All that stuff going on...'

Victoire sat back in her chair, eyeing James. She had spent far too much time around Weasley men to not know James' excuses were some of the most pathetic she'd ever heard. She also knew the Weasley men could dig their heels in when they'd made a decision to either do, or not do something. They had to be brought round to doing the opposite of what they had decided, but only if they thought it was their idea all along. James might have inherited half his genes from Harry, but he was still part Weasley. 'Every Healer assigned to Uncle Harry has a clipboard like this.' She showed him the one she carried, tapping it with her wand. A chart appeared on the parchment with a patient's information from the Potion and Plant Poisoning floor, where Victoire was doing most of her practical studies this term. 'See? It has all the information they need on Uncle Harry without having to go into his room.'

James bit his lip, but nodded.

Encouraged, Victoire tapped the parchment again, and brought up the information on Harry for James. 'Technically, I'm not supposed to have access to this, but Aunt Bronwyn arranged it.' She handed the clipboard to James, who studied it with a frown.

'What are those?' he asked, pointing to the list of potions. There were more than twenty.

'The top of the list are the ones he needs to have all the time. They're repairing the nerve damage in his shoulder. It's a rather slow process if you want it done right. This one will help the severed muscles regrow. Kind of like Skele-Gro, but muscles are a bit harder since they need to be flexible. These will help repair the skin so he won't have a massive scar later. He'll still have one, but it won't be as bad as it could have been.

'There's a sketch that shows where the curse gashed his shoulder.' Victoire drew the tip of her wand up the parchment, making the information scroll upwards. A small drawing of Harry's back with a diagram of the injury appeared. 'As it heals, it's reflected in the drawing. You can bring up previous images to compare them.' She scrolled back up to the potions list. 'These two work on his lung, since that got damaged a bit, but it ought to be all right. And the last few are the ones they've been giving him to keep his pulse rate regulated. But they're weaning him off those, since he's able to go longer and longer between doses.'

James gazed at the mass of information, glowing softly in front of him. 'Why the tube in his arm? Can't you just make him swallow it?'

'We can try to decant the potions down his throat, but it's messy, and with the state of his shoulder, we could do more damage trying to make sure it gets down. We'd have to move his shoulder a bit too much. Doing it this way is fine. When he wakes up, he can take them orally, like everyone else.'

'Why hasn't he woken up?' demanded James. 'Truthfully.'

'I don't know. I wish I did.' Victoire took the clipboard back from James. 'One of the Healers who works on the first floor thinks that the body shuts down like this so it can focus on healing. Who knows?'

'But four days?' James huffed skeptically.

'Things also take longer to heal with you're older,' Victoire pointed out. 'Aunt Hermione got hit with this curse when she was a bit older than you. She was out for a few days, too. So it's not that long, really.'

Victoire held her breath, waiting for James to process the information. 'Nobody's going to force you to go back there,' she told him gently.

The doors swung open, and Lily reclaimed her chair next to Arthur. James suddenly stood up and strode toward Ginny.