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Just Before Healing by WeasleyMom

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With Hannah, things always go to yellow.

The whole of her childhood is bathed in it. She runs outside in the fields near her house on summer days, and round about in the Muggle park down the road. Her mum is always there, and they wear dresses and run and collect daffodils and run some more, hair and ribbons flying. At home, they bake in the tiny kitchen while the sun spills in, making shadows on the warm wood of a table covered with flour. Hannah asks questions and stirs the batter and cracks eggs, never understanding how much longer it all takes because a child is helping and a mother is restraining herself from using magic. These days are pure, unblemished happiness: watching her mum move from the cooker to the table like a dancer, singing occasionally and smiling a lot, always looking like a dream in the tattered yellow apron she always wears.

When Hannah is eleven, she steps into the Great Hall under the blaze of candlelight, torches, and the stars overhead, and she is home. The hat tells her who her friends are going to be and where she will sleep at night, and it is so, so right from the first hello, from her first moments in that golden common room. And she thinks to herself, what a very clever hat.

There’s always danger, something to fear even in the light of day, and yet, she loves school and Hogwarts and her friends. Everything, mostly.

Everything, that is, until Professor Dumbledore stands in the entrance of greenhouse three… until Professor Sprout joins him, whispering even as her face crumples and four eyes turn and find Hannah in the middle of all the others.

Her whole life turns on this moment.

As it does, she realizes yellow isn’t only the color of sunshine and badgers. It’s the color of a sick person’s skin, the shade of a wolf’s teeth bared in the night, and the color of death. Death isn’t black”not to Hannah. If life is white and pure and clean, then dying taints it. Spoils it. Ruins it outright. And if white is tainted, doesn’t it become a sallow, sick sort of yellow? Hannah’s never seen a dead body, and she doesn’t see her mum either, but when she thinks about these things, her mind is full of yellow. It could never be black: death is not kind enough to hide so much in darkness.

Hogwarts is different, after.

Everything is, but it’s hard to stand now, to move forward. It’s nearly impossible to press forward against grief and fear and what’s-the-point. But she does walk, and before long, she is in the Great Hall again, this time with her wand drawn. The smell of blood and sweat permeates everything, and her ears are filled with the screams of those throwing curses and the ones who absorb them. She tries not to hear as she sweats and bleeds and hurls curses of her own into the chaos.

Finally, mercifully, dawn arrives. It breaks through in that final, desperate moment of Good and Evil, shining down through the same colored glass, illuminating the Evil splayed on the floor in defeat. And when she sees it… when she knows it’s over, Hannah bends double in relief, sobbing.

And in the tears and the crushing hugs, she glimpses the seed of something she hasn’t known since before that day in the greenhouse: hope.

~~~

When Neville Longbottom steps into the lift at St. Mungo’s, Hannah’s face is red and blotchy, streaked with tears. She recovers quickly, and he’s kind enough to pretend he didn’t see. They’ve always been friendly. Being with him now should be comfortable, and yet, it isn’t. To Hannah, there’s something about the Neville in the lift that is very different from the one hovering about in her school memories. This one’s taller and broader, kinder even than he always was in school.

He asks about her dad’s illness and shares the relief of her good news, and in the evolution of their conversation, things turn. In moments, he is somehow more familiar than he should be, in ways that don’t make any sense. They hold each other’s eyes as if they shared secrets, when they’ve only ever shared space in DA meetings and classes. They talk some more, and something shifts inside Hannah, forming a question mark in her chest where there used to be a large, white nothing.

Neville must feel it, too. Because after the doors open and they say goodbye and she walks away, she hears her name echoing in the corridor, the slap of his shoes against the tile floor. She stops and turns, and there he is: breathing hard and wanting to know if she’s hungry. They walk slowly to the cafeteria, where they eat and talk and find each other. And the walls in that place are the color of butter.

They choose the church for its stained glass and wood floors, and when the sun shines through the painted panels, the floor comes alive”a dancing kaleidoscope of color and shimmer and anything-can-happen. She wants to wash this first day of their future in gold like everything else. Like sunshine and sickness and daffodils, and yes, even like death.

Because death is the cord between them, and it’s yellow, too.

Knowing all these things, Hannah still paints their kitchen chairs the color of her old common room. She paints, and it fits, and it brings her comfort. It reminds her of her mum’s apron and the second of May, of her bed in Hogwarts and the way bruises look just before they heal.

And the sun shines in.

Because with Hannah, things always go to yellow.

Chapter Endnotes:

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