1981-01-01: Valiantly Victorious Veterans

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Scene Title Valiantly Victorious Veterans
Synopsis Voldemort is gone; not everyone is celebrating.
Location St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
Date January 1, 1981
Watch For Shrines, hospitals, the Greater Good, and carefully-prepared help.
Author Jas

January 1st, 1982. The dawn of a new year — the dawn of a new era, so far as Wizarding Britain was concerned. Plenty of witches and wizards were still in awe, still uncertain, still trying to figure out how to live a life that wasn't overshadowed by fear of You-Know-Who, but they were all, uniformly, delighted and thrilled and just overall pleased that they were, in fact, free of him and his shadow.

Well, perhaps not uniformly.

There were some, after all, who'd delighted in his ways, and had been firmly on his side throughout the war, and they, at least, were not pleased with his fall.

And there were those, Jas Lancaster thought, as he made his way through the halls of St Mungo's Hospital, who weren't terribly likely to be delighted ever again, valiantly victorious veterans of a war or not.

"They're doing all right today, love," a mediwitch told him, when he asked at the desk — "But you'll have to make certain only to see one of them at a time, now, and not stay too long. They do get tired out, you know."

He knew, better than she might imagine. He, too, had a first-hand knowledge and understanding of the effects of Cruciatus — to the innocent mediwitch, it was a terrible travesty, an Unspeakable Curse, and in many ways the worst casualty of the war. To Jas — well, he was pretty sure that, on a day when the Dark Lord was in a good mood, he cast it about thirty times, at a bare minimum, and tended to pick on his followers at least as much as those who opposed him. He didn't tolerate failure well.

But Jas wasn't at St Mungo's to visit a shrine to Voldemort, for all that he knew there were some who'd considered keeping those. He was there to visit an old friend from school, instead, for all that they'd been fighting on opposite sides during this war.

"Hullo, Frank," he said softly, once he was in the room with the fellow Hufflepuff. It hurt, really, to see the cheerful restraints keeping him pinned down to the bed — and of course, he couldn't possibly be allowed access to his own wand. It was, another well-meaning witch had explained, for his own safety.

But Frank Longbottom didn't really look as if he gave a damn about safety, at this point, if he'd ever cared. He looked miserable, and frightened, and as if he was reliving every moment of the torture that he'd undergone at Bellatrix Lestrange's wandpoint. It took some people that way, Jas knew — there were those who were allergic, there were those who were nearly immune, and there were those who were trapped in a replay of that which could have, should have, killed them. Tortured into insanity by means of Cruciatus: That, that was the curse Bellatrix gave to Frank and Alice Longbottom.

Today, at least, Frank recognized Jas; he could tell, by the spark in Frank's clouded-over, frightened eyes. For a moment, something like lucidity fell upon him. Perhaps, Jas thought, the mediwitch had been right: perhaps this really was a good day for him. And only a week after the torture, too — although it wasn't as if he was likely to recover ever, at this point, if he hadn't within the first week.

"Jas?" Frank sounded utterly bewildered. More than that, he sounded young, and confused, as if he were back to being a year behind Jas at school, trying to catch up to things that he wasn't supposed to have learned yet. It hurt, hearing that voice again. (It hurt, knowing that Frank would never sound quite so confident as he was supposed to, ever again.)

With care, Jas helped himself to a seat at the edge of Frank's hospital bed, carefully avoiding the restraints and various spells monitoring his progress. He managed to find a smile, and was honestly somewhat surprised at how difficult it was; perhaps it was simply that the smile he found was genuine, and not a fake, that caused it to be so hard for him to dust it off. "I hear you're not doing too well," he said, keeping his tone light. It's perfectly reasonable to be taking it hard after an extended bout of Cruciatus, Frank, he tried to say, without ever really saying it.

And there, now, the shadows were back in Frank's eyes, and he flinched back into the bed, looking around the room at things that weren't there — the ghostly memories, Jas realized soon enough, of Bellatrix and Rudolphus and the others. Once again, without warning, without recourse, Frank was reliving his torture — not just the physical and magical pain of the curse itself, but the mental and spiritual pain of being witness to Alice's torture, too, and being completely and utterly unable to rescue her or prevent her pain.

After twenty minutes of sobbing, muttering, quietly screaming — the screams of one who hurt too much to draw in a full breath, screams that Jas was intimately familiar with — and writhing in pain both real and imagined, Frank collapsed into the bed and was left to simply sob once more. When Jas reached for him again — a hand on Frank's hand, a hand on Frank's shoulder — he was met with the barest of recognition, and very little sanity left. Somewhere, in there, there was a clinging need to be remembered, a desperate need to remember. Mostly, though, there was naked pleading — help me.

"There's so little I can do for you, Frank," Jas murmured, sorrow piercing deep into his heart. In his own mind, he cursed Bellatrix, for stealing one of his few friends away — but that was neither here, nor there. "What I can do, though —"

His wand hadn't been taken away, which was likely enough an oversight on the mediwitch's part, based on how everyone was just so happy, just so thrilled with the new order of things. His wand was, in fact, in his hand, and the tip touched lightly to Frank's temple — and Frank, knowing enough, simply lay there, still and watching, waiting. He didn't fight, didn't pull away, didn't speak against whatever Jas wanted to do, whether it was save him or kill him —

"Obliviate," Jas murmured, with all the force of his will and a decade of professionally casting that spell behind the word. If he could wipe out the memory of the torture, the memory of the suffering, the memory of everything that had happened for the past week, and a full week ago — if only Frank could forget

Jas only hoped it was strong enough to counteract the other curse.

Frank was asleep, and seemed — a little — as if he was actually resting, when Jas left his room to look in on Alice, who was in much the same condition as her husband. She, too, slept when he left her room.

"We might be putting them in a room together soon, the dears," one mediwitch was saying to another as he came back out to their desk. "Ah! All right, then, love? Leaving for the day?" As Jas nodded, she broke out into a cheerful, sunny sort of smile. "Have a Happy New Year, then!"

"And you as well," Jas murmured wryly, taking his leave. He didn't really think he was all that likely to be celebrating and thrilled, with the fall and disappearance of his Lord. Perhaps, instead, it was time for a leave of absence, so that he, too, could make certain inquiries to find the Dark Lord. He wasn't going to torture any Aurors, though; it was obvious enough that none of them had any idea where He'd gone. Perhaps there would be clues somewhere in Europe, Jas thought, and walked out.


And then Jas went off to Russia and met Valentina, and the rest was history.


jas
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