The memory starts with a chill in the air and the sharp smell of ginger. It seems to have a well-worn quality to it, fuzzy around the edges from overuse. The classroom looks much the same as it ever has although the air of hostility between the different Houses seems reduced - instead directed towards the common enemy of the Professor and too much work.
Dahlia, dicing ginger root (she's never been able to work with it without retching since) at one of the benches, is barely recognisable - still all elbows; she towers over many of the boys in the class and yet still manages to look younger and all together lighter than in later years. Her hands work quickly and efficiently and the smile on her face isn't just from the tuning out of Lucius' banter as he stirs the cauldron next to her. She doesn't notice the boy immediately to her right and the one on the other side of her own lab partner tossing obnoxious jokes and gestures or if she does she pays them no more attention than normal.
She does the opposite unfortunately, out of reflex she brings her head up a moment too late and the glass catches her on the jaw and breaks. The splash of liquid barely registers at first compared to the sudden, sharp pain in her mouth. Her fingers bring away the stain of red when she touches where it stings and there's... something in her mouth, she worries at first that it's glass and spits it out quickly. Stares at it, confused for a second, when a couple of the bits are white in the puddle of bloody spit and green slivers.
"What?" Frowns in consternation for half a second before turning in fury to the boy on her right, "You broke my teeth!" the words slur a little as she tries to avoid touching where it hurts. She turns for help from her Head of House who's looking on almost flummoxed. Some use he is. Waves away Lucius' half-panicked inquires to her well-being; it hurts but it's fixable (she hopes) and she'll get payback in her own time and that's when he's best helping, not now.
Something drips into her mouth, tastes strange - a mix of lemon and heat and the smell of muggle rubber - and burns a little. She realises then that the bottle wasn't empty and she's got some gel-like substance on her face. Again a look to her Head of House, this time he looks a little more of aware of the situation and waves her towards the sinks.
She stalks over there, muttering under her breath and using her height advantage to knock her way past the boy, who's stuttering out an apology of sorts, turning the tap on to full in one vicious turn. Lets the water sputter for a second as the pressure builds before gathering as much as the cold liquid in her hands as possible. She brings it up to her face and -
Later on she'll never be able to separate the parts she truly recalls from the false-memories made-up from what people later told her. The moments between the reaction starting and her hitting the floor will never come back though - shock erased them from her mind long ago.
The memory shows her on the floor, mouth open in a silent scream, seizing as the reaction eats through her skin and enters her blood stream. It shows her classmates, some shouting in panic, some staring in horror or morbid fascination she can't tell, some green, some white. Everything is strangely muffled, sound and sensation both and time slows down. The knowledge of pain hits here, not the feeling itself but the thought that there was something beyond imagination over all of this. It's enough, even years later, to make her skin crawl and switch her memories to something - anything else.
The pain translates to sound and colour - a rush of white which will never leave completely and almost supersonic noise. The actual sensation is removed - the brain can't handle remembering it - so all that remains is the feeling of wrongness and pressure, or sudden lack of it, almost tickling the side of her face as it all bubbles away.
Slughorn's voice cuts in next to her ear - a query - the words sound strange, slowed down and sped up at the same time but the reply comes through clearer than anything else afterwards.
"Bundimun, sir, but I hon-" and it fades out as she loses control again. A passing thought of 'I'm going to die here' before something smacks into her hand and everything shifts.
She's never been able to pick out the timeline properly from after the Portkey, too much input all at once and so it all remains a blur of sensation and sound. She thinks it goes like this though.
White. White and blessed relief. White and relief and cold and muffled noise that may be voices. Noise that is definitely voices, more than one, concerned and business like and reading off numbers and lists and non-sensical tirades. Pressure on her wrist, not restraining this time - diagnostic she thinks. Harder pressure, everything's shaking, no, she is and they're holding her down. Questions, at her, over her, about her and around. Too few answers. Pain again and more white. Words that terrify her more than they should - bone, nerves, muscle, skin - the last one mentioned least. She's still cold, can feel the heavy, thick blankets covering her, and she's still cold and won't stop shaking. Voices again and she fades out. Wakes again and again and again and it's still the same day. White everywhere except it's the room that's white this time. Ragged breath in time with her jitters but less so now and she can move even if everything is as sore as hell. Except her face and that worries her more than anything. More than the soft, quiet words. More than the soft, quiet looks of people she doesn't recognise. Lime green in the white. Itches and don't touch it and cold and don't touch it and can't feel anything and don't touch it. Hands still shaking but warmer now. Worry and serious tones and long words and reels of numbers again. Back to white then more green. Healers, senior ones with diagnostic frowns and pity in their eyes. More words - surgery, scarring, sensitized - they wash over her, the meaning lost into the emptiness in her head. Can't tell whether it's from anaesthetic or painkillers or both. Nods in agreement and they seem satisfied and leave her to float. Above and over and back in and nothing focuses, it's all fuzzy around the edges and she can see the sterile smell turning to colour in front of her - more white to add to the monochrome. Droning voice babbling on and on and none of it makes any sense so she shifts and looks away and there's something on then in her arm and the hurt barely registers anymore and then... huh. Black. Finally.
She wakes up properly this time. Back in a bed at St Mungos, she realises that this must have been where she was before, and surrounded by Healers and, surprisingly, her brother. The carefully held non-expression on his face keeps her thoughts occupied until something cold and smooth hits her hand with the apology of 'there's nothing more we could do'. The words chill her more than she thought anything ever could.
Her hand flies up to her face, feels a slight tingle as it passes through a sterilisation charm, and it's like touching wall. Sensation on one side only. She hears 'open air will do more good than wrapping it at the moment' and 'we'll let you go back once it's all healed up'. The thing in her hands is a mirror, she sees now, and morbid curiosity makes her want to find out what could make her brother's normally so-fluid face shut down like that.
White. White and yellow and pinky-red and darker red and even some purple in there. Not bone, not bone thank what ever deity is up there but not skin either. A horrible in-between of muscle and vein and what little fat she has. And her eye, oh god her eye.
They get the bowl to her just in time.