UPDATED - 24/12/2018 - Betafied and completely (hopefully...xD) legible.
An auburn-haired girl lay in a hospital bed, her dark eyelashes contrasting heavily with her bloodless skin. Her breathing was shallow and supported by the nasal cannula under her nose. If she had a bit more colour in her, she would have been said to have 'unusual' looks. However, the halo of filthy dark red curls around her head wouldn't be the first thing a visitor would notice when they walked into her room, that would instead be the masses of leads, wires, and tubes attaching her to various machinery and medicines.
She was awake, and yet she was not. Drifting in a sort of netherspace. Where her body had once been was numb. All she really knew of was the events that had led to here.
They had been in the park, the same place they had been since 7:30 that morning. Their stomachs were aching with hunger and yet the need to stay away from the Dursleys for as long as possible was strong enough to withstand the hunger pangs. They both knew that they were riding the breaking point with the Dursleys' after the events of last summer. Just as they both also knew that the truce was flimsy - one wrong move and everything would come crashing down. And yet, neither could bring themselves to tell anyone or to get out; no-one would believe them - or so they thought.
On this particular day, they had snuck out a couple of their textbooks along with some ink and parchment. They had been consistently having one major issue from the summer after their First Year at Hogwarts; nowhere to do their homework. It wasn't as if they could just turn up at school with nothing done and the excuse, "We're really sorry but our Uncle locked our books in the cupboard under the stairs over the summer, Professor Snape, so we couldn't do the homework." 'Yeah because that would go down marvelously' Harry thought with a slight snort.
As it was, they had been back from Hogwarts for about a week and both had got through their Charms, Transfiguration and Arithmancy homework, something Harry was particularly proud of considering how long it had taken him to do even a one piece of homework last summer. Although he supposed this might have had something to do with having more chores than they knew what to do with last year. This year, the Dursley's seemed to be doing their utmost to ignore them, a tactic which whilst being infinitely more pleasant, induced thoughts about how much worse it was going to be when they inevitably decided that they wanted their free slave labour back.
Harry had just finished reading over a particularly tricky paragraph in his Potions textbook when his sister let out a notably frustrated sigh. He glanced up at her. She was completely ignoring the textbook in front of her. Instead, she was making what appeared to be a daisy chain. Her frustration seemed to be aimed at the daisy she was currently trying to attach. Ignoring her indignant "Hey!", he plucked both parts out of her hands and deftly tied them together.
She stuck her tongue out at him in response to his raised eyebrow.
"So how's the Runes work going, Isa?"
It was Isa's turn to raise her eyebrow incredulously.
"Oh, fantastically, Harry. Can't you tell by my intense focus?"
He snorted and closed the textbook in front of him. It was nearing the time they would have to leave their sanctuary anyway, but it was always nice to end a day of essay planning with something different. Sometimes these 'something different's would be lighthearted in nature; but then other times, when something was on one of their minds, it was more serious - just as Harry intended it to be today.
"Do you ever wonder if we should let someone in?" he asked, swiveling so they were side by side and resting his head on her shoulder.
Isa stiffened slightly, "Sometimes. But then we'd have a shedload more problems to deal with, and that's if they believed us."
She tugged on his arm so he fell sideways his head now resting on her leg. Her hand slowly combed through his perpetually messy hair.
It was almost as an afterthought when she added: "'Mione knows some of it though."
Harry sat up, shocked at his twin's revelation, "You told her?"
Isa pushed on his shoulder till he relaxed back into her, "No, she's just very observant, and we've shared a dorm for 3 years. She asked me if withholding food was the worst it had ever been at the Dursleys, I said no." Harry gave her a reproachful look, "What did you expect me to do? Lie to her?"
At Harry's reluctant head shake, she continued, "She was more than just asking me though, it was like she knew already but just needed me to confirm that what she was seeing was what she thought it was. She made me promise to use a code word if it ever got as bad again."
He felt a surge of affection towards their bushy-haired friend. It was nice to know that someone cared enough to look beyond what the twins portrayed.
"What was the code word?" He asked with a chuckle, feeling a bit silly at using such a spy-related term.
"Volo - it's Latin for Wish."
Harry nodded, picking up Isa's abandoned daisy chain.
"I really hope we never have to use it." He said, turning it over in his hands.
Isa nodded, knowing that the consequences of that would have ripples reaching far beyond themselves.
Neither of them spoke for quite a while, both picking the daisies that littered the floor of their small field. It was only when the clock was striking 5 that they could bring themselves to move.
Without a word, Harry presented Isa with the daisy chain, now longer and tied so that it was a loop. She took it, happily placing it on her head.
"Princess of the Park," Harry smirked.
"Oh shut it, you."
Harry chuckled and ran a hand through his hair, dislodging the daisies seemingly woven through it. A look of confusion flashed across his face for the briefest of seconds before being replaced by amused understanding. He raised his eyebrow at her and combed his hair a tad more thoroughly.
Isa looked disgruntled, "Do you have to ruin my masterpiece? That was the most handsome you've ever looked!"
He mock gasped, his hand flying to his chest, "You wound me, sister! I'll have you know that I'm always handsome."
Isa snorted, grabbing her Runes textbook and the muggle notebook and pen off the grass. Harry followed her example with his Potions text before rising swiftly to his feet, knowing that they were pushing it for time if not late already.
They walked back to Number 4 Privet Drive in silence, the dread of the inevitable confrontation weighing heavily on their minds. They had no idea of what would set it off, only that it would happen - guaranteed by Aunt Marge's ballooning at the end of last summer. Even the twins use of Sirius' name at the very beginning of the summer hadn't relieved the palpable tension; if anything, it had made it worse.
Harry opened the door. The hallway was empty, but the kitchen light was on. Unfortunately the monotone tenor of Dudley's voice droning away in the next room could be heard, meaning that if Isa and himself were lucky they wouldn't be spotted and could make it up to their room. They both prayed that their uncle had had a good day at work and so wasn't going to be in a moaning mood and as such, think of them; but it was with sinking hearts that he heard the words "Potter" "freak" "stick" in the same sentence. They both knew that thanks to the events of the past few years this family now both feared magic and were angry with it.
This being said, Harry knew that if their wands were found on them, they - the wands - would meet an unfortunate end.
Isa, on the other hand, was toying with the idea of running and never looking back. However, beyond actually getting out of here, she knew that it could never work. Dumbledore for one would never believe that the threat posed from inside the house was greater than that from outside the house and so wouldn't move them. His thoughts on this were clear from their confrontation at the beginning of second year, where, fearing for repercussions after the incident with the Masons, Dobby and running away to the Weasleys, she had spoken with the headmaster several times on their removal from Privet Drive. Every time resulting in a lightly padded 'No - I'm sure they can't be that bad, see how it goes, Miss Potter'. They could always go rogue, abandon magic and all the dangers it possesses. But even the most ignorant of people had to acknowledge that this would most likely just leave them defenseless to Voldemort and the Death Eaters. All this without even taking into consideration her brother's stance on honor and responsibility. No, they would have to stay - for now.
Harry held out his hand, Isa looked at him questioningly.
"Wand and books," he mouthed, tugging on the book in her hand
She handed them both over, watching as he quickly bent and stuffed both wands, sets of notes and textbooks deep in the hydrangea bush next to the front door. They took a deep breath before crossing the threshold of the house.
Uncle Vernon exploded out of the sitting room, his face inventing a new shade of red.
"Decided to come back have we? Had a nice day trip?"
Uncle Vernon's voice sounded unnaturally loud as it reverberated off of the narrow hallway. His eyes were narrowed into mean piggy slits that looked tiny on his huge ruddy face.
"Found that your freakishness can't get you the necessities of life? Like food! And a roof over your head! Because only normal, hardworking people are able to provide a stable environment and enough financial security to provide the necessities of life! That is why we are landed with you! Because your dratted parents, the freaks that they were, didn't have a normal hardworking bone in their bodies. They couldn't even hang on to life, they were that pathetic at living! So some low life scumbag decided to burden us with your pathetic excuse for an existence, and this is how you repay us for our generosity?! By coming in late at night, bringing in foliage and mess and…. and… FILTH! I WILL NOT STAND FOR NORMAL HARDWORKING PEOPLE BEING DEGRADED BY THE LIKES OF YOU!"
With each word he said he took a step forward, so by the end of his tirade, his face was almost touching Harry's, spittle landing on the boy's glasses.
Harry was seething at this point and fighting the urge to wipe down his glasses. He wanted to shout back that his parents had been the most hardworking people in world but knew that when his uncle got like this, the best way to get him to stop was to let him scream it out. Despite his brain knowing this, his heart was telling him to shout back, to stand up to the bully. In the end, they compromised, deciding that if he said one more thing about their parents then he would say what he was thinking.
Isa was thinking along the same lines and was trying desperately to hold off the torrent of abuse that was pouring through her head. She was starting to regret leaving her wand outside.
Vernon stopped for a second and regained his breath before starting out again in a slightly quieter tone.
"It was bad enough, with you blowing up Marge. And then with those… freaks in MY house, telling ME to forgive YOU, for blowing up MY SISTER! And then we're told that you have a god-father who's a mass- murderer. Not that it's a surprise that your parents gallivanted with those sorts; considering wha-"
Harry's fist stopped his Uncles rant. The teenager spun towards the door on his heel, his twin halfway out the door they hadn't actually closed. A hand grabbing the back of Harry's t-shirt and throwing him down the hallway put a stop to Isa's escape. Without thinking, she hurled herself back into the house, making beeline for her brother. The massive meaty hand closing tightly around her hair put an end to her plans.
"Don't think it's just your brother I have plans for, oh no Missy, just because he committed the last offense doesn't mean that you're suddenly innocent of all crimes. So, you better get comfortable"
Her eyes shot open. She couldn't really feel her body, but that wasn't at the top of her concern list. That top-spot would go to her brother. From what she remembered, the nice man who had helped her at the Dursley's had said that they would be together at the hospital. Thankfully, he had been telling the truth as her eyes soon found him in the only other bed in the room. However, she had also found something else - someone else.
Their Headmaster, the same one who had been so eager to push off her worries about the Dursley's previously, was sitting in the chair in the corner of the room. His face seemed older than she'd seen it last, his eyes without their characteristic twinkle.
"Headmaster? What- How did you know?"
"Ah, Miss Potter, a certain Miss Granger thought to inform me of your predicament and her actions regarding it. I believe I owe you and your brother my deepest apologies."
"That's not good enough," Harry said quietly, his eyes hard, his jaw set. Isa tried not to jump, not having realised that he was awake.
Dumbledore sighed gently.
"I am aware of that, Mr. Potter. And you have my assurance that I will regret my decision to place you both there for the rest of my life."
The old man paused for a minute. Isa really hoped he wasn't waiting for an assurance of forgiveness; neither twin was leaning in that direction. An attack on either twin would result in no warmth from the other.
"As it is, we need to find another suitable place for you both to reside until you come of age. Under normal circumstances, you'd go to Sirius, bu-"
"As we should have in the first place." Harry snapped.
Isa glanced at him, his hands were clenched.
"As I have said, Mr. Potter, I am sincerely sorry for all harm that has befallen you or Miss Potter through the results of my actions."
Harry met his look defiantly; it was clear there wasn't going to be much forgiveness in that area for a while.
Isa internally sighed, she understood that Harry was angry at Dumbledore for placing them there in the first place and for not believing her when she asked to be moved, but that he was being this verbal about it to one of the only people in any position to help them probably meant that something deeper was going on inside her brother.
"Go on, Professor?" She added politely.
"But as Sirius is currently on the run, that wouldn't work. I was thinking perhaps the Weasley's if both Molly, Arthur, and yourselves are amenable to the idea that is?"
They both nodded, Harry somewhat reluctantly.
"Very well, I shall speak to them about that when I inform them of your change in residence," Dumbledore said.
"About that, Professor, would you mind if you held off on that for a few days? Just so we can acclimatise?" Isa asked hesitantly.
Harry hesitantly addressed Dumbledore, "What's going to happen now?"
"Well, I'm afraid that being transferred to Saint Mungo's is pretty much impossible without the entire Wizarding World finding out which I assume neither of you is comfortable with."
At their rapidly shaken heads, he continued.
"There are two options available to you, remain here, hopefully keeping the Wizarding World in the dark and Madam Pomfrey will do what she can when you are discharged from here. Or I can involve a few friends and we could, for lack of better phrase, fake your deaths in the Muggle World, and move you to the Hospital Wing immediately. Both have their own respective negatives. For example, should you choose the latter the Dursley's would receive charges akin to murder as opposed to grievous bodily harm. Whereas should you choose the former, you will be faced with potentially lasting issues from your injuries and a longer stay in hospital."
The two Potter's eyes met. As one they faced Dumbledore and asked to wait.
Dumbledore smiled for the first time since entering the room.
"I had a feeling you would choose that route - it's what your parents would have done. Very well, I shall make the arrangements, someone will be around in the next couple of days informing you of the updates in your guardianship situation. I must be off, I will see you both at the start of September, if not before."
With that, he turned on his heel and left the room, intent on talking to their muggle Healer before he went back to Hogwarts - he would go to the Burrow either tomorrow or the day after.
As soon as he was out of sight, Isa snorted, "Well that was brisk."
Harry barely smirked, his forehead furrowed.
"Alright, this is getting ridiculous, what's wrong?"
He shook his head.
"Harry, tell m-"
She gasped, the reason for his temper suddenly becoming obvious.
"You blame yourself. Oh, Harry, it's not your fault, it's their fault."
The words seem to explode, pouring out of him as if previously trapped behind a dam and she'd opened the floodgates.
"It's my fault. It's all my fault. Everything that happened at the Dursleys was my fault. I punched him. I started it. It was my shirt he caught hold of. If he hadn't caught it we could have just run and somehow found our way to either Ron's or Hermione's. Or we could have just snuck back in at night, grabbed our stuff and our wands out of the bush and gone. No-one would have known."
Isa wanted nothing more than to hug him, but with all the wires and tubes coming out of her she wasn't sure she could manage it without removing something that wasn't meant to be removed so she settled for the next best thing.
"Harry, it's not just your fault. If it was in any way your fault then you'd be the one on trial; which you're not, so it's not your fault. Did you single-handedly make the Dursleys abusive? No? Well, then it's not your fault. We all share a part of the blame for this, but it was a combination of decisions by lots of people, not just you. Okay?"
He just looked away.
Isa sighed and closed her eyes, hopefully, he would think over what she had said. If not, well, she wasn't going anywhere.