Muffled sounds reach my ear; people talking in hushed voices and it sounds like someone is crying. It smells weird, sharp like disinfectant and bitter like lavender and cardamom. I want to open my eyes, but I am so tired, bone-deep exhaustion covers my body like a heavy blanket. Even lifting an eyelid seems impossible right now. The sheets underneath me are soft, my fingertips rest comfortably on something warm. It takes me a couple of minutes to figure out that my fingers are resting in the palm of another hand, the hand is warm and dry, busy fingers press against my wrist, I imagine to check my pulse.
”I think he is waking up,” a smooth, dark voice says right before I finally crack open my eyes. The world around me is blurry, patches of color bleeding together, red and brown, a deep black, standing out from all the other moving colors in the room. The black color is close but isn’t moving like the rest of the room. I turn my head to get some idea of where I am or who these voices belong to. When I turn my head a scent strikes me, the lavender comes from the person to my right, wearing all black, talking in a deep and rich voice. This man remains next to me as other voices join him, excited, tear- filled and happy. His fingers get busy again, wandering over my arm, tapping on my chest and resting on my cheek.
Suddenly the world comes into focus and I can feel the familiar weight of glasses on my nose. I exhale in relief and look around me cautiously. Four people are staring at me intently; their expressions ranging from neutral, to fearful and excited. The two women in the room are crying visibly, the younger one clutching a handkerchief in her hands, eyes red and poofy. The older woman is dressed in a white uniform, I recognize the style and pattern. This must be a mediwitch. But she is also crying, rubbing her eyes repeatedly. A male with red hair and a hideous jumper pets the younger woman on her back awkwardly while he grins at me, showing all of his white teeth. My eyes wander to my right, to the man with the soft fingers and extraordinary scent. His expression doesn’t convey any feelings, he looks at me calmly, his features collected. Somehow I appreciate the calmness he radiates, I don’t know why these strangers are upset or why they are in my room but I am too exhausted to really care.
”Harry, mate, I am so glad you are awake.” I look at the red-head, wondering if he is talking to the other male, however the one clad in black doesn’t react to the statement.
They all look at me expectantly, like I am supposed to say something to that, give an answer only I possess. I try to remember my manners but in the end my mind is way to jumbled so I forego any polite smalltalk and ask bluntly.
”Who is Harry?”
The red-head explodes into laughter that turns into something similar to sobs when he hears the mediwitch gasp and sees the younger woman cover her mouth with her hands still clutching that by now wet handkerchief. They really look miserable and I briefly wonder what has happened to them. They seem so sad, and forlorn but I am too exhausted to ask.
The mediwitch approaches me and asks me for my permission to perform a series of tests. I yawn and nod, my whole body feels sore, a pulsating ache deep in the core spreading through every fiber of my being. I would appreciate some healing potion. The mediwitch waves her wand over my body and hums to herself as she touches my arms, my stomach and my knees. She clearly exchanges a worried look with the older male next to me, before she sighs and puts her wand back into the pouch on her belt.
”Poppy, what is it?” The young witch asks, her eyes wide and scared. I feel sorry for her but can’t really grasp why a stranger should be worried about me.
”Nothing,” Poppy mumbles and starts pacing the room, ”only the injuries we already know about, no trauma to the head or problems with his magic.” The mediwitch stops the pacing and approaches the bed again. She puts a hand gingerly on my arm and I turn to look at her face. She is old, with laugh lines around her eyes and warm hands. She seems motherly and caring, I don’t know who she is but I am sure I am in good hands in her care.
”Harry dear, I know this must be difficult because you are tired but please could you try to tell us what the last thing is that you remember?” She makes eye contact and nods reassuringly, I realise her eyes are still young and lively, despite her apparent age.
I am exhausted but comply and close my eyes. My thoughts are chaotic, a jumbled mess. I see a green light, wands crossed in duel, I remember blinding pain followed by a white light and the feeling of peace.
”I don’t know,” I choke out, my throat feels like sandpaper and my lips are dry and hurt as I speak. Before I can elaborate on that my head is cradled and gently lifted, slender but strong hands tilt my head to the side so that I can reach the straw poking out from a glass of water. I purse my lips and sigh in relief when the water wets my throat. Way too soon it is removed and I whine in protest. I am still so thirsty.
”I know,” the smooth voice whispers, ”but you need to take i slow,”
His voice sounds understanding and reassuring, even though I crave more water I nod and rest back against the pillow as soon as the pressure of a warm hand disappears from the back of my head.
”Harry, do you know where you are? Or who you are?” The mediwitch asks hesitantly, as if she really doesn’t want to know the answer to that question.
Slowly, I catch on and realise that the people in the room call me Harry. "Harry," I whisper uncertain. I feel nothing as the name rolls over my tongue, no familiarity or recognition. I frown and try to think of my name but everything stays blank, a numbing blackness. I guess Harry is as good as any other name.
I slowly shake my head, look at them as devastation crosses the features of the younger male and the witch. I feel bad, like not knowing the answer to a quiz in class that I should have studied for. Suddenly the witch steps forward, throwing her arms around my neck.
I flinch, try to back away but I am not getting far confined to this bed by my own exhaustion. Her bushy hair tickles my nose and I have a hard time breathing. She cries soundly on my shoulder and I look frantically around the room. I don’t like being touched by strangers and my heart beats painfully.
”Mione!” The red head exclaims and puts a hand on the witches shaking shoulders. The mediwitch rubs her eyes again. I turn my head and look pleadingly at the older man trying to convey that this makes me uncomfortable.
”Enough,” he barks sharply and everyone in the room seems to cower a bit at the unforgiving tone. His voice sounds like he is used to giving orders and have people follow them without hesitation. The young witch lets go of me and backs away shamefully, cheeks red from tears and possibly embarrassment.
”Mr. Potter needs to rest, I have a healing potion as well as salve that needs appliance before he can go back to sleep. Give us some privacy,” he demands sternly, ”please,” he adds almost as an afterthought.
The redhead puts his arm around the witch who hides her face in is knitted jumper. He gently leads her out of the room, he waves at me and I nod in response, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice after all even though I have not the faintest idea who these people are. Their reactions tell me I probably should and I feel bad for disappointing them.
”Mr. Potter,” a warm hand rests again on the bare skin of my arm, ”the injuries on your chest and thighs needs to get taken care of. Would you be comfortable with the mediwitch doing it or do you prefer that I change the dressings and apply the healing salve?” His tone is calm, the sharpness is gone and he doesn’t shy away from the eye contact as our eyes connect.
The mediwitch looks still distraught so I shake my head slowly. I feel exhausted and don’t know if I can handle her sniffing and crying while she takes care of my injuries. I feel hollow and guilty for apparently not knowing who I am and upsetting these people.
“Please,” I cough and try to regain my breath before continuing, “can you stay?” My cheeks heat up in embarrassment because I sound so helpless and afraid. I have no idea where I am and why I can’t remember my own name or what happened to me that made me end up in a hospital bed. The only thing I know is that my chest hurts, the pain rises and falls like ocean waves. I am too exhausted to keep my eyes open and my head feels like it's wrapped in wool. My thoughts pass through my mind slowly, tangling and untangling in unfamiliar patterns. I have no energy to sort through them so I let them pass like birds on their way to the south. I am about to drift off when soft fingertips once again pull me back from the dark embrace of sleep.
“Harry, my name is Severus Snape and I am the Potions Master here at Hogwarts, school for wizards and witches. You are in the medical wing and I will try to ease your pain. In order to do that I need to remove some of your clothes, would that be alright with you?” My eyes sting with unshed tears. This is the first person who has introduced himself to me and I am grateful for that. I feel less alone and frightened in this unfamiliar world. I nod in response and my clothes vanish, leaving me shivering under the thin blanket.
It doesn’t take long until the blanket is removed as well, revealing a huge gash tearing the skin on my chest apart. I can tell that this wound is not fresh, it is partially closed but still infected, the skin around the edges an angry red. I hiss involuntarily as the Potions Master spreads a cool salve over the infected areas. It smells like mint and rosemary, I inhale deeply. The coolness lessens the pain somewhat, even though it is still present. The touch of his fingers is uncomfortable, painful even, but I can tell that he tries to be cautious. I wonder briefly what my relationship to this collected man is that clearly cares enough to approach my wounds with gentleness. I press my eyes shut as he puts his slender fingers on my thigh. Its is a strange feeling and goosebumps erupt all over my body. Somehow I get the feeling I am not used to being touched and I try to take only shallow breaths, my head tilted away from him towards the ceiling. It doesn’t take long until my clothes reappear on my body and feeling of being exposed and vulnerable disappears for a moment.
The Potions Master performs a cleaning spell on his hands and puts his wand back into his robes. I look at him closely, his robes are unusual even for a traditional wizard. They are black as the night sky, tailored fitting on his chest and hips to broaden towards his feet. Whenever he moves they rustle slightly, and the black sleeves resting on his hands draw my attention to pale skin and long fingers. Strands of black hair frame his face as he moves through the room, putting vials containing a purple fluid on my nightstand and straightens the sheets he wrinkled by sitting next to me while he applied the salve. His movements are efficient and yet graceful, he is a tall man. I occupy my brain with guessing his age, the hair and pale skin doesn’t make this an easy task. He is definitely older than the witch and wizard with the ugly clothes but how much older is up for anyone's guess.
He frowns as he reads something on the chart that the mediwitch jotted down after the test she performed. Watching his movements reminds me that I am really tired and I close my eyes once again. I can tell that he is still wandering through the room, robes rustling and the scent of lavender och peppermint that comes closer and fades away whenever he moves. I convince myself that things won’t be so scary as soon as I get some rest, I might just wake up and remember who I am.
When I wake up again the burning pain has been replaced by a dull ache, a throbbing in beat with my own heart. I can tell that it is nighttime, the medical wing is deserted, the only lightsource is coming from the hallway. Flickering lanterns cast eerie shadows on the walls and the castle around me groans and whimpers. Hogwarts, I say to myself, concentrating on the feeling of the room I am lying in. Have I been here before? My musings get answered by a picture popping up in my mind, a huge castle and a dark lake, illuminated by candles. Welcoming, Secure, Home.
I smile involuntarily, despite the confusion inside of me.
I have no rational explanation and no real memory but I just know that this is a good place, it feels like home, comfortable and familiar even though I can’t seem to remember anything about the people I have already met or the events prior to my injury. For a moment I concentrate and focus all my energy on the blankness in my mind, willing it to reveal something about myself. I let out a slow breath as I realise that my efforts are in vain and my mind non responding to my probing questions.
I turn around and face the door, looking at the light that spills into the room. I am thankful for that source of light and look down the corridor. My glasses rest again on the nightstand to my left, leaving me with a blurry vision. I can identify shapes in the room, several beds and what seems to be a cabinet of sorts. The nightstand with my glasses, a vase with flowers and a journal or book. I am just about to close my eyes again to go back to sleep as I hear silent steps approaching the room. The steps are soon joined by a second pair and they pause right before the doorway. I press my eyes shut, trying to avoid meeting anyone I should know but don’t. I still feel exhausted from this afternoon and all the emotions thrown at me.
The two persons talk in hushed voices, I strain my ears but can’t identify any words until the people start walking again and their voices drift closer.
”.....no medical or magical explanation for his memory loss,” a female voice says and I recognize her as the mediwitch with the kind eyes.
”I know, I checked the tests you performed and performed some additional tests by myself. Just to be sure. No offence,” a dark voice replies. Even that voice I have heard before, it's the Potions Master who tended to my wounds.
”None taken,” the mediwitch reassures before continuing, ”It defies explanation. He should be fine aside from his physical injuries. Thankfully it is not a regressional amnesia, he seems to remember that he is a wizard. Just seems like everything else is gone.” The mediwitch sighs, she sounds tired and frustrated.
”Mhmm, this is mysterious indeed. I shall research this further and will try to come up with a cure for Mr. Potter. Until then I read some Muggle literature and found some advice on how to deal with amnesia generally.” The Potions Master pauses.
I snicker, the older male said ”muggle literature” like one would say ”brussel sprouts”; a mixture of disgust and morbid curiosity.
”Thanks Severus, I appreciate your assistance and I am sure Mr. Potter will be thankful for this when he remembers who he is and what you did for him.” Robes rustle and the Potions Master scoffs.
”I don’t need his gratefulness, but I need him to get well and be able to live his life. I need him to be safe and happy.”
I wonder why the Potions Master is so worried about my well-being. As the voices fade away again, I feel oddly comforted by the fact that there is one person who clearly wants to help med. Overhearing their conversation leaves me puzzled and slightly curious. I don’t remember anything about him but I feel somehow safe around him. Protected, taken care off, longing.
I can’t place the feelings that well up inside of me but decide to ignore them. It's not like they are real memories and in any way helpful. I still have no idea who I am and it starts to bother me that everyone around me knows more about me than I do.