A/N: I do not own Harry Potter.

Chapter 2: Aftermath

The translocation was instant and silent once again, and the six friends found themselves in the middle of the Hospital Wing. Neville stumbled with Hermione in his arms at the sudden change in location, but Ginny steadied him. Harry stood and looked around.

"POMFREY!" he called; the Mediwitch rushed from her office at his loud voice and hurried over to them, worry coloring her face.

"What happened?" she asked, taking in the scene. Ginny was favoring one of her legs quite heavily, Luna was still mildly groping her bruised breast, Ron was lying on the floor, and Neville was carrying a limp Hermione.

"Voldemort," Harry said, and Pomfrey flinched. "We—or I—was lured into a trap at the Ministry by Voldemort, and they all followed me to keep me safe. You see how well that worked out."

"The Ministry?" she questioned, running her wand quickly over Hermione and Ron. "How did you get there—and how did you get back?"

"Thestrals," Luna supplied. "We rode Thestrals to London. Harry got us all back here."

Pomfrey gave him an odd look as she levitated Ron to a bed. "What does that mean, you got them back here?"

Harry shrugged, watching as she then levitated Hermione from Neville's arms. "Dunno really, I just thought about all of us being here and used my magic to bring us."

"But you can't Apparate into or out of Hogwarts," she protested.

"I don't think what he did was Apparation," Neville said, quietly, watching as Hermione settled onto one of the beds.

Pomfrey tutted but her duties as a Healer overrode her curiosity. "What happened to them?" she asked, motioning toward Ron and Hermione, who were on adjacent beds.

"Hermione was hit on her chest with a curse that looked like a purple flame," Harry said, moving to the side of her bed and looking down at her pale face. It was a comfort to know she was alive, but he was still quite shaken from watching her fall. "I healed the wound somehow, but I don't know what else it did to her."

"And Ron was attacked by some kind of magical brains in the Department of Mysteries," Neville continued. "We had to stun him to get them all off." Harry's eyes flicked to his mate, who bore livid red lines on his face and arms from what he assumed were the brains.

"And what about Miss Lovegood and Miss Weasley?" she queried, looking at the girls with a critical eye.

"I think my ankle is broken," Ginny answered. She sat on the bed to which Pomfrey directed her.

"And I was punched pretty hard in the right boob," Luna said, still rubbing her chest. Pomfrey's eyebrow tweaked upward at Luna's brutal honesty, but directed her to the bed next to Ginny.

"I'll take a look at you two in a moment. Potter? Longbottom? What about you?"

Neville shrugged. "I broke my wand, but otherwise I think I'm fine. A little dirty, maybe," he said, attempting to wipe some of the sweat and grime from his face.

The Mediwitch looked at Harry, waiting. "I'm fine," he said. "Lucky as usual…just wish everyone else was too," he muttered.

Ginny snorted; everyone looked at her. "You may be fine, but Voldemort sure isn't."

"What do you mean?" Pomfrey asked, bending over Hermione as she did more detailed scans of her. Harry watched carefully.

"Harry blew that piece of shit's arm off," Luna responded, sounding uncharacteristically serious and put-together. All eyes slipped to her for a moment.

She gave a slow shrug, wincing as it pulled on the bruised tissue in her chest. "What? It's true. He had to Portkey out of the Ministry before Harry really started to work on him."

Now everyone was looking at Harry. He quickly started to feel uncomfortable under everyone's gaze. He had no idea where all that power had come from, but he could still feel it in his magical core, of which he now seemed intimately aware.

"How is Hermione?" he asked, focusing the attention on what Pomfrey was doing.

"Fine, mostly," she said. "Magically exhausted. There are some small stress fractures in her sternum and ribs, nothing a bit of Skele-Grow can't fix. Whatever you did to heal her, Mr. Potter, it seems to have worked fairly well. We shall talk about that later."

She walked over to Ron and examined him more closely. "There is some kind of neurotoxin in his blood that is affecting his mental processes, but it does not look like the dose was too concentrated. A flushing draught and some bed rest should fix him right up."

The examinations continued. Ginny did indeed have a broken ankle, for which Pomfrey promptly gave her Skele-Grow. She was on bed rest for the next several hours. When the Mediwitch came to Luna, Harry and Neville turned away quickly because their blond friend exposed herself rather nonchalantly to the Mediwitch. Harry found himself thinking inappropriate thoughts about the pink hue of her nipple; he sidetracked that by thinking about the purple and black bruising he'd glimpsed covering the rest of her breast, which infuriated him all over again.

His friends had been trying to help him, to support him, and four of them had been injured; meanwhile, he'd come out of the whole thing relatively unscathed.

"You boys can turn back now," Pomfrey said, and he could almost hear the laugh smothered in her voice. "Some anti-bruising paste should take care of the damage in a day or two," she continued, speaking to a now-covered Luna and handing her a small container of white cream.

As Pomfrey worked to give Skele-Grow to Hermione and a flushing draught to Ron, Harry and Neville took seats with Luna near the three occupied beds. Ginny was grumbling good-naturedly about having to stay in her bed.

Harry felt a twinge in the magic around them and looked up, fingering his wand. Neville and Luna noticed this, becoming equally as alert. Luna slid her wand from behind her ear; Neville looked ready to throw some punches.

But that caution was for naught; the change in the magic was an arriving Portkey, which deposited Dumbledore into the middle of the Hospital Wing, right where the six of them had returned to Hogwarts.

"There you are!" the Headmaster exclaimed, sounding less like the jovial old man they all knew and more like a worried grandfather, with undertones of the authority they all knew he had.

"Headmaster," Harry said, rather curtly. If Luna, Neville, or Ginny noticed his tone, they did not react to it.

"Albus! There you are!" Pomfrey said, interrupting any further conversation. "Would you care to explain what has happened, beyond what they have all already told me? Voldemort was at the Ministry? Why did these children have to go fight him?"

"That is a long story, Poppy, one to which even I do not know all of the details." He looked at Harry. "However, if you would come with me to my office, Harry, I believe we can sort those details out?"

"No."

"Excuse me?" Dumbledore asked, clearly looking shocked at Harry's blunt refusal to do as asked. All eyes were on him again, but he did not squirm this time.

"No, Headmaster. Whatever you or I have to say can be said here. My friends were there fighting for their lives with me, so I have no secrets from them."

A tiny tightening around Dumbledore's eyes was the only indication that his demeanor had changed.

"Be that as it may, Harry, some of what I need to tell you is rather sensitive in nature. It is not information unprotected minds should know."

"And you think mine is protected?" Harry asked, coldly. "You think Snape actually tried to teach me anything in those Occlumency lessons?"

"Professor Snape did his utmost, I am sure."

Ginny muttered something unflattering about the Potions Master. Dumbledore looked at her sharply and Harry had to fight back a smile. Luna was not quite so successful, and her bright laughter filled the Hospital Wing.

"Look, Headmaster, I am not leaving Hermione. Or Ron. Or Neville, Luna, or Ginny. And since three of them have to be here for now, here is where I am going to stay."

They stared at each other for several long moments. Finally Dumbledore's shoulders sagged a bit and he nodded. He was about to say something else when approaching footsteps reached their ears.

"HARRY!" a familiar voice called out, as the doors to the Hospital Wing burst open. Sirius entered the room at a sprint. "There you are," he said, more quietly, coming to halt near where Harry was sitting.

"Sirius, I thought I told you to wait in my office with the rest of the Order?"

Sirius turned furious eyes on the Headmaster. Harry was slightly shocked to see such naked rage in his Godfather's eyes.

"It is well past the time when you can tell me to do anything, Albus," Sirius responded, his voice tight and controlled. "Especially where Harry is concerned."

Dumbledore rubbed his temples for a moment; Harry could tell he was becoming supremely frustrated with the whole situation.

"Headmaster, why did it take you and the Order so long to get to the Ministry?" Harry asked, thinking quickly over the timeline of the past twelve hours or so. It was now mid-morning.

"We told Snape where we going before we left, and it took us several hours to fly to London on the Thestrals. Why weren't you all there when we arrived?"

Sirius, Neville, Luna, and Ginny were now staring at the Headmaster with open curiosity. Dumbledore's eyebrows had tweaked toward his hairline.

"I have no idea, Harry. Professor Snape got the word to me very early this morning."

"So that son of a bitch sat on the information for hours?" Sirius practically screamed, pulling at his hair. "What the fuck was he thinking? They could have all been killed by the time we arrived."

"Yes, well—"

"Sirius," Harry said, overriding the Headmaster's rejoinder. "Calm down. Screaming isn't helping anyone."

Sirius nodded at Harry and paced away from the group, obviously still furious at the whole situation.

"Now, Harry, please tell me why you thought it was a good idea to go to the Ministry."

Harry felt his own hackles rise at the condescending tone of Dumbledore's words. He carefully controlled his emotions as he answered.

"Hermione managed to convince me to at least try to contact Sirius before rushing into the Ministry with no plan, so we did. But Umbitch," Harry continued, slipping and using the nickname the students had given the Headmistress, "had the school completely locked down. We managed to Floo Kreacher from her office, but obviously he was lying about Sirius's whereabouts," Harry explained, glancing at his Godfather. Sirius grunted something about 'gutting that stupid elf.'

"Speaking of the esteemed Headmistress—well, former Headmistress—where is she?"

"Hermione and I led her into the Forbidden Forest; she thought we were leading her to our secret weapon. The last we saw of her a Centaur war party was carrying her away."

"I see," Dumbledore answered, glancing toward the windows of the Infirmary and the distant Forbidden Forest. "What happened when you arrived at the Ministry?"

"We made our way to the Department of Mysteries. I've been having dreams all year about the Hall of Prophecy, as it turns out, and we eventually ended up there. Neville here found a prophecy that referenced me and the Dark Lord, so I took it."

Dumbledore let out a small gasp and Sirius stopped pacing, looking at everyone again.

"The Death Eaters all revealed themselves at that point. We had words and then we started fighting. They wanted the Prophecy but I knew as soon as I gave it to them, they would kill all of us—as if they weren't trying to do that already. We fought through most of the Department of Mysteries, becoming partially separated at some point. I was with Hermione and Neville when Dolohov hit Hermione with a dark purple flame, and she went down."

Harry paused in his story, unsure how to describe what happened next. His burst of power was etched clearly in his mind, but it still amazed him.

"That's when Harry went all super-powered," Neville said, picking up the thread. "He was kneeling next to Hermione when suddenly there was this enormous burst of power. It knocked me over and I think it killed Dolohov—good riddance, really. It continued for quite some time, and during that was when Harry healed Hermione.

"After the waves of magic settled down, Harry handed Hermione to me and went to face Voldemort. He Apparated or something up to the Atrium. I met up with Luna and Ginny—who had just stunned Ron and were working on freeing him from the brains—and we made our way to the lifts and up to the Atrium. We arrived there just as Harry froze the Fountain with Voldemort inside."

Dumbledore and Sirius had been listening intently. Dumbledore finally spoke: "And the Prophecy—what happened to it?"

Neville blushed and fidgeted in his seat for a moment. Harry laid a hand on his arm and shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Nev. It's not important."

"It was crushed when I was blown backward by the power escaping Harry," Neville said, nodding at Harry.

"On the contrary, Harry—it is incredibly important. But luckily we do not need the actual prophecy to know its contents."

Harry's eyes snapped the Headmaster. Dumbledore had just given up the game. He had known about the prophecy all along and had never bothered to tell Harry! Well, two could play at this shite!

"If it was so bloody important, why am I learning of it now?" Harry wondered.

"You were too young, Harry, to be saddled with such responsibility—"

"Bullshit!" Harry exclaimed, shooting from his chair and advancing on the Headmaster. His tightly leashed anger was getting the best of him. "I asked you at the end of my first year why Voldemort was so interested in me—point blank—and you refused to answer, citing the same reason. Don't you think I deserved to know why my life was a living hell for so long, and why it has been endangered along with the lives of my friends every year here at Hogwarts?" Harry asked, his voice rising steadily. He was standing directly in front of the Headmaster; he could feel his magic yearning to be free once again, but he did his best to control it.

"Harry…" Dumbledore tried to placate him.

"Don't Harry me, Headmaster. We're way past that. If the prophecy was so important, I should have known about it! So much could have been prevented—Cedric's death, Pettigrew's escape, even Voldemort's resurrection for Merlin's sake!"

"But you do not even know what it says," Dumbledore said. Harry noticed Sirius's murderous glance at the Headmaster. Did Sirius know the prophecy?

"Do I have to?" Harry wondered. "I think it's fairly obvious at this point what it says—me or him, right? Only I can kill Voldemort?" Dumbledore's look of shock told Harry he'd hit the nail on the head.

"Why is it so surprising I figured that out?" Harry nearly shouted, his frustration at the entire situation ratcheting to new levels. His entire life had been manipulated by someone who was supposed to be on his side, and all for what? To preserve a childhood he never had? To make him a pliable pawn?

"Anything with half a brain could have done it!" Harry shouted, temper finally snapping. Every single window in the Hospital Wing exploded outward, causing everyone to duck, albeit unnecessarily.

"Harry, please calm down," Dumbledore said.

"I will not calm down!" Harry shouted, his magic roiling off of him now. It was buffeting everyone in the room, making them brace themselves against it. Somewhere in his mind he realized he was being hypocritical, having just told Sirius that shouting wasn't helping.

"Where were you this year? Where were you every other year when something atrocious happened? You're the Headmaster of this school—you're supposed to protect us and make sure nothing too evil happens around here. Yet every year it's up to me and my friends to save the day, to travel through time or kill a Basilisk or get entered in stupid Tournaments where your life is in danger the whole time.

"For such a powerful, smart old man, I think you're becoming awfully blind, Headmaster. You're the fucking Supreme Mugwump, for Merlin's sake! You have more power than Fudge or the Ministry could ever have! And let's not forget you're also the Chief Judicial and Legislative Officer of the government. How could you let the Ministry take over the school like it did? How could you let Umbridge torture your students all year long?

"We both know how powerful you are. Why didn't you just stun everyone when they tried to arrest you, and sort it all out later? You're practically a god to the magical people of Britain, yet you let a little bad press push you out of this school? Maybe they were right to lose faith in you," Harry said, breathing heavily now. There was plenty more he could say, but he let his cutting words hang in the air as he turned his back on the Headmaster and stalked to his chair.

He was tired of the games. He was tired of the Headmaster holding everything close to his chest and assuming everyone else was too stupid or not powerful enough to handle it. Harry and his friends had just proven they were more than powerful enough, and if Dumbledore didn't trust them now, why would he ever expect Harry to fight the psycho Dark Lord for a school and a country that hated and feared him most of the time?

He was tired of being treated like a child when his childhood had been literally beaten from him at the age of four by Vernon Dursley. The world had decided to place a monumental responsibility upon his shoulders yet persisted in telling him he was not prepared.

Harry shook himself from his pity party. He focused on Hermione, whom he now wanted to recover more than anything. She would help him sort out his chaotic thoughts and calm him down; she always did.

"I am sorry, Harry," came the quiet, almost mournful voice of the Headmaster. Harry did not turn or otherwise acknowledge him. "I seem to have failed you and this school more deeply than I realized."

There was a pause then, as complete silence enveloped the Infirmary for a few seconds.

"I shall think on this more and perhaps we can talk later," Dumbledore eventually said. Harry heard the swishing of his robes as he turned and his footsteps as he walked out of the Hospital Wing. He was staring at Hermione's peaceful face, where there was a little more color now, willing her to wake up so he could hold her and tell her he was so glad she was alive and that he would do anything to keep her safe.

He knew Neville, Luna, Ginny, Pomfrey, and Sirius were watching him, but he did not care. Sirius eventually pulled a chair over and sat beside Harry, resting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing every now and then. Pomfrey migrated to her office, leaving the five of them to hold silent vigil over Hermione and Ron.

Harry reached for Hermione's hand, which was warm, and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles.

"Come back to us soon," he breathed. A breeze wafted through the Hospital Wing as a result of all the shattered windows, pushing some of Hermione's chestnut hair onto her face. Harry carefully brushed the strands away from her forehead.

He froze. Hermione's hand had moved in his.

Her eyelids fluttered open and he was captivated by the most beautiful chocolate gaze he'd ever seen.

"Harry?"