By CrimsonNoble

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Summary: Paranoia can be justified.

AU, summer after sixth year. Fuck HBP in the ass.

When the aurors arrive, the street is torn to shit and their greeting is a surprisingly strong sectumsempra. It doesn't land because they are aurors and this is what they deal with. One of them returns fire with a spell that crushes the leg of the only one still breathing that isn't theirs. There isn't a scream when the spell lands.

They take a moment to survey the area. The auror fresh out of the academy, attached to their squad for his field training, throws up. The other two maintain shields and take a minute to ensure they're alone now. Not counting the survivor, they are.

Auror Tonks leads toward the survivor—a boy, really, sixteen. Her shield does not waver and her feet do not falter as she marches through the shredded asphalt. The new guy comes next, still twitchy and snapping his head around to see if there's any more death eaters around. Tonks could tell him there aren't any left, if he asked. She doesn't because even though that's true, his paranoia will keep him alive. Auror Shacklebolt follows, walking backwards while keeping his own shield raised and trusting that he is not being lead into a trap, even as he watches for it to close.

The boy is sitting down, his wand still pointed at the Aurors. Half of his face is horrifically burned, and the air reeks of how the flame scorched his hair. The eye on that side of his head is missing. He is soaked in blood, and it can't possibly all be his, though Auror Shacklebolt would say most of it is. The reason is obvious: the boy's left arm is gone. Even without the other deep gouges in his flesh, that wound would justify the blood everywhere.

"Mister Potter," the new guy says. Auror Shacklebolt knocks him out before he gets further.

"Tonks? Kingsley?" The boy asks. Auror Tonks is surprised he can still speak.

"Harry," she says. "We'll get you to Pomfrey before anything else." She steps toward him.

The wand in his hand jerks toward her face and she stops. "What did you do when you all dropped by my house before my fifth year?"

She smiles. "I packed your things."

He lowers his wand, but doesn't let go of it. Auror Shacklebolt doubts he ever will. Auror Tonks presses a portkey into his hand. Before she activates it, he says: "There's one in Number Four. There's another about ten meters away from the lawn. There's one mostly on the wall of Number Eight. You apparated into the middle of the last one."

"Thank you," she says. Then he vanishes.

"Gotta make a new memory for him," Auror Shacklebolt points at the new guy.

"Yeah," she agrees.

"What's the verdict, Madame?" Tonks asks.

The mediwitch looks ill pleased. "The leg I fixed. I closed his shoulder up, but we need to get him a prosthetic soon. Same for his eye. The rest is trivial."

Tonks hears what she can only describe as the sounds of panic from the curtain behind which Harry is supposed to be unconscious. When the mediwitch throws the curtain open, Harry's upright with his back pressed against the headboard of the bed and his wand is clutched in his hand, halfway through a casting motion. "Calm!" she barks.

Harry stops. "Tonks?"

"Wotcher, Harry."

"You need to find out what happened, then." His voice bothers her. It's the voice she hears from some of the old aurors. The ones who served more than a decade and a half ago. A lot of the time, it's the last voice she hears from them when it changes.

"Yeah," she agrees. "If you wouldn't mind."

"Swear you won't leave me alone," he says. She doesn't have to think twice before she agrees. Then he tells her.

He tells her how he was asleep in his bed when the screaming started. He tells her how he fought with stunners and disarming hexes and after about a minute of that and having the death eaters laugh as they stood back up, he gave up on that shit and cut one of them in half with the same spell he threw at her when they arrived. He tells her how he ran from the house and how one of the death eaters caught him and tried to boil his blood from about a foot away, and how he cut off his arm at the elbow so he wouldn't die. He tells her how when he turned from that, one of the death eaters transfigured his eye into fucking faerie fire, and how he had to explode the man in against a wall to get the blood to put it out. He tells her how the last one took the rest of his arm as he decided he needed his leg more, and jumped forward toward the man. He tells her how he made the last one die shrieking as he spun the man so fast he flew apart.

"Don't leave me alone," he begs when he's told the story.

"I swore," she agrees.

He falls asleep with his back to hers and though she calls Dumbledore and tells him what happened, she stays that way.

They roll a listing out in front of him and ask him what kind of eye he wants. He says, "One like Moody's," though it didn't help the man when he died at the end of Bellatrix's wand. Tonks recommends a few alterations to it. Harry stares at her for a while and then agrees to almost all of them, though he rejects the one of them, telling her that if it acts as a sneakoscope, it'll be going off all the time and he doesn't need that headache. Tonks cedes the point.

He spends the first day with it in throwing up as it spins and shows him levels of detail he wishes it wouldn't. He doesn't complain to anyone, though. Tonks asks why and he tells her he'd rather be able to see everything too well than the way it used to be, blinded without his glasses. He's reticent about what happened to them, and Tonks suspects it has something to do with the death eater he painted Number Eight with. He gets them to fix his real eye too.

His arm goes easier. It has the shape of a real arm well enough, though it's as near to transparent as greased glass. It feels like that too. He learns to be careful with it quickly, after accidentally mauling his cup for the eighth time.

Meeting his friends does not go so easy. Tonks sees the light in his eye when his girlfriend shows herself, and watches as the light dies when the red haired bitch screams and flinches away. The boy he used to be able to call his best mate can't sit still and keeps trying to edge out of the room. Eventually Harry kicks him out, bellowing epithets. Tonks suggests he gets some better ones, and he goes quiet for a minute. Then he asks her to teach him some.

The bushy haired girl fares better, though not by much. She spews comfortless words that might have helped him deal with having killed the death eaters if he gave the least damn about them being people. She talks about his eye and all the advantages it has too, and begs to study his arm. He puts up with it admirably, Tonks feels. After a while she cries and starts talking about how her parents are moving out of the country after this, and how they're taking her with them. Harry tells her they're right, and she should get the hell out of the country for a while. Eventually she leaves, swearing up and down to owl regularly. Harry promises her he'll read them and makes her promise not to mention anything about where she is, or has been in them.

It isn't long before the mediwitch pronounces him fit to leave her care. She claims to need the bed space.

"Thank you," he says as he walks out of the castle next to Tonks.

"I swore," she repeats.

AN: I'm done with it. Less a real fic, more of a thought piece.

Edit: as of 7/2/2008. Blame the folks at DLP for making me read this again and correct two spelling errors that pissed me off. Yes, I'm joking about blaming them. No, I'm not joking about what this edit did.