Challenge Nineteen: Bring Out Your Dead!
Title: They Said A Hundred Times I Should Have Died
Wizard/Witch: Alastor Moody/Poppy Pomfrey
Word count: Exactly 750
Prompt: 27. feeling pain
Summary: I'm just thankful for the journey, and that I've survived the battles, and that my spoils of victory are you.
“Alastor Moody. You’re back,” said St. Mungo’s ER attending.
The Auror glared at her from the bed. “Nurse Ratched. We meet again,” he said darkly.
“What is it this time, Moody?” she asked. Near her, a woman in intern’s robes started the diagnostic spells.
“Just a run-in with no-good scalliwags,” Alastor grumbled, eyes tracking the blonde.
“Run-in, he says. Scalliwags, he calls them.” The matron rolled her eyes. “So what’ve we got, Pomfrey?”
The intern read off vitals. “And four broken ribs, extensive bruising, and Dark spell-trace.”
“Lass has it right,” Alastor said gruffly. “Nothing Skelegrow won’t fix.”
“Let us decide that. Finish up here, Pomfrey. Behave yourself,” she ordered Moody.
“Open,” Poppy told him, waving the Magimometer in his face. He glared. “Gods, you are a bad patient. Please? I need to read your magical levels.”
Seconds ticked by with the tap of her foot. Poppy poked his ribs, eliciting a gasp. She took advantage and stuck the device in his mouth.
“You’re feisty,” he said around it.
“What do people call you besides Pomfrey?”
“Intern.” He snorted. “Patient-torturer.”
“I’ll say,” he muttered.
“Poppy.” She finally relented, both giving him her name and taking the Magimometer.
“Poppy,” he repeated quietly.
“Alastor, you shouldn’t be here. You have an early meeting!” Poppy giggled as his hand slipped under her Healer’s robes.
“And you’re pulling a double shift,” he growled softly, pressing her against the wall of the closet. “I won’t get to see you for days.”
“And that’s… going to kill you?”
“You never know, it might,” he teased, but she didn’t need convincing; hands were already at his trousers.
“Look at me, Poppy! I’m not a man you want’a stay with! You deserve better!” Alastor shouted, gesturing at himself. He wobbled at the motion, still unbalanced on his wooden leg.
“You think I care about that? I love you, leg or no!”
“No. It’s over, Poppy. We’re over.” He wouldn’t look at her, just snagged his new staff and clumped toward the door awkwardly, nearly falling.
She went to help him, and he pulled away. “No, Poppy.”
A crack and he was gone, leaving her crying in the empty doorway.
“Albus, I’m telling you! That isn’t Alastor!”
“Now, Poppy. I assure you that he is Alastor.” The Headmaster patted her hand kindly. Patronizingly.
“He isn’t,” she repeated fiercely. “I know Alastor better than anyone, even you. That. Is. Not. Him.”
“You have been apart for years, my dear. He’s not the same person.”
Poppy seethed. “That may be, but some things never change. That isn’t him!”
“I don’t want to hear anymore, Poppy.” He left her muttering dark imprecations at his back.
Poppy stroked his uneven hair as he lay in her infirmary. “Oh, Alastor. I knew something was wrong. I’m sorry I couldn’t figure it out,” she murmured.
“Wasn’t your fault.” The rasping growl startled her. A rough, scarred hand reached weakly for her hand, and she gave it to him.
“I’m glad you’re all right.” The admission came too easily.
Rough lips pressed against her knuckles. “I’m glad you’re here.”
She cried, holding him like he was her lifeline instead of the other way around.
“Alastor?” Poppy turned toward the door. Instead of Alastor, Minerva stood there. “M-Minerva.” She sank into her chair. “Where is Alastor?” she asked shakily.
“I’m so sorry, Poppy. He… didn’t make it.”
The breathless sob was the sound of a heart shattering. “Where is he, Minnie?”
“We don’t know, Poppy.” Minerva hugged Poppy tightly, feeling her pain. “We can’t find him, but he’s gone.”
Poppy went about her tasks mechanically, restocking shelves in preparation for students arriving. Skelegrow… gauze… Magimometers…
Scrape… clump… click.
She froze. The sound repeated, then silence. Surely she was imagining this.
“Well, aren’t you going to look?” The voice was rougher than before, but she recognized it. She always recognized it.
Slowly she turned, eyes bright.
Her battle-scarred warrior stood in the middle of her infirmary, leaning heavily on his staff, complete with claw-footed leg, eye patch, and new magically-constructed hand. Hair stood in all directions.
He wasn’t handsome, he wasn’t whole -- but he was here.
“You’re dead.” Her whisper filled the room.
“Supposed to be. But I’m here now, Poppy. It’s over.” She trembled, and he hurried on. “The war’s over. All I want, all I’ve ever wanted, is a life with you.”
“Despite… everything?” She gestured, an echo of past arguments. He nodded. “Bout damned time,” she said, throwing her arms around him.
Author's Notes: You cannot believe the cutting I did on this. From 1300 words to 750! But it’s done. I hope it’s still good. The title and summary are taken from the Johnny Cash song, Just Like a Soldier.