Chapter 8 : The Hospital Wing
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When Rose woke up the next day, she felt extremely disoriented. This was not the first time she’d woken up in the hospital wing, but it was the first time that she could not quite remember how she’d gotten there. She had vague memories of Albus taking her there from Defense Against the Dark Arts, but she had no idea if those memories were accurate. She didn’t even know what day it was.
Most people would assume that it had been one day, but Rose knew better. She’d spent three days passed out in the hospital wing after a nasty fall from her broomstick in her third year, and Roxanne had once been in the hospital wing for nearly two weeks with a concussion, most of which she had no memory of.
Madam Pomfrey walked out of her office. “What day is today?” Rose demanded.
“Thursday,” Madam Pomfrey said shortly. She disliked engaging Rose in conversations about the duration of her stay in the hospital wing, because she and Rose always seemed to have very different opinions on what constituted “enough time.”
“Thursday” told her nothing except that she’d probably been out a long time. Now that she was more awake, she distinctly remembered having a free period before Defense Against the Dark Arts, which only happened on Fridays. “How long was I out for?” she asked cautiously.
“Nothing you didn’t need,” Madam Pomfrey told her.
Rose tried to quell her growing panic, but she was fighting a losing battle. Just as she was beginning to really lose it, however, the door opened and Albus stuck his head in. “I won’t upset her, I promise,” he said. Madam Pomfrey gave him a penetrating look, and then walked back into her office.
He came over and sat down next to the bed, and she grabbed his arm. “Al! How long have I been out for?”
“You’re feeling better, then?” he asked.
“How long was I out for?” Rose was trying without much success not to hyperventilate.
He frowned. “Less than a day. Why?”
She let go of him and pulled her legs up to her chest, still breathing heavily. “You promise? It’s been less than a day?”
“Yes, I promise,” he said, looking bemused. “Why wouldn’t it have been?”
“I came in here Friday, I remember because I had a free period before defense against the dark arts, and Madam Pomfrey said it was Thursday, and—”
Albus cut her off. “Rose, you had a free period before defense against the dark arts because you skipped history of magic.” She stared at him. “Remember? You were tired? You went to have tea?”
The rest of her memories came flooding back, and she gasped. “That bastard!”
Al looked confused. “What?”
“He put something in my tea!” Rose was livid. Albus glanced toward Madam Pomfrey’s open door and shushed her. “I was too tired,” she said in a lowered voice. “I wasn’t paying attention, he was wandering all over the room, he was behind me at some point, and he slipped something in my tea!”
Her voice had gotten both higher and louder again, and Albus shot another worried look at Madam Pomfrey’s open door. “Rosie, keep it down.”
“He put something in my tea!” She did not understand how Albus was not reacting more strongly to this fact.
He rubbed his forehead. “Probably. I wasn’t thinking about it, either, if that makes you feel any better.”
“He poisoned me.” Rose actually looked around for her wand, though she had no idea what she was planning to do with it, given that Malfoy was not actually present and that there was no way in hell that Madam Pomfrey would let her leave the hospital wing yet.
Albus rolled his eyes. “Now you’re just being melodramatic. He did not poison you.”
In Rose’s opinion, that was a very charitable interpretation of the events that had transpired. She sniffed. “That bastard.”
After about ten minutes, Albus excused himself to go get lunch before his afternoon classes. A few minutes later, the door opened again, and Malfoy walked in. He looked very pleased with himself.
“I just saw Al go down the stairs,” he said, sitting down in the seat her cousin had recently vacated. “How are you feeling? Everyone said you went hysterical yesterday.” He shook his head in mock disapproval and actually patted her hand. “Too much caffeine, Red.”
She snatched it away. “You bastard,” she hissed angrily. “You put something in my tea!”
He looked like he was trying to hide a smirk, but his attempt failed miserably. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You went crazy from too much caffeine and too little sleep.”
“I was tired! That wasn’t fair!”
Malfoy ran a hand through his hair, which had finally started to fade. Unfortunately, it had looked much better when it was actually red than the orange it had turned into. “Well, I told you I’d get you back.”
Rose glared at him. “What was it?”
“What was what?” Apparently, her look was intimidating, because he shifted uncomfortably. “An elixir to induce euphoria.”
“That’s N.E.W.T. standard,” she said quickly. She didn’t think that she could have brewed that potion, and she liked to think of herself as being quite talented at Potions.
He shrugged. “I’m not stupid, Red.”
If he had truly brewed an elixir to induce euphoria, she had to admit that that was true. He was, however, definitely a jerk.
“It took awhile to take effect,” she said. “Why?”
“I wanted to be off having an alibi.” She caught her breath, ready to scream at him, and he hastened to add, “If you put in a few drops of syrup of hellebore, it delays the effects.”
“Oh.” She frowned. “I guess that was smart,” she admitted grudgingly.
“Almost cunning, wouldn’t you say?” He was still looking entirely too pleased with himself. She glowered at him. “Hey, be nice. Goldstein said in class today that you made a Patronus.”
“I did?” she asked in astonishment.
He laughed. “Yeah. You did. Apparently, being really happy does make it easier. I told him after class that I’d heard you been given an Elixir to Induce Euphoria, and he said that it would certainly would make conjuring a Patronus easier, but that he really didn’t recommend it in case of a dementor attack because you’re likely to be unable to think straight afterward and they’d just come back and suck your soul out anyway.”
“So, what you’re telling me is, I was the first in our year to conjure a Patronus and I can’t even take credit for it because you gave me a stupid potion?” she snapped, her disgust with him deepening.
“Well…” He drew the word out, and then admitted, “Goldstein also said that even with the elixir, it was impressive that you’d managed one on your first try.”
Madam Pomfrey came out of her room and shot Malfoy a glare. “This girl needs rest. She’s not going to get it if she keeps getting visitors.”
“I’m really fine,” Rose said. “I think I might go to class, actually.” She threw back the sheets and made to get out of bed, though she knew Madam Pomfrey would never let her go.
Sure enough, the witch rushed over. “No, you will not. You will stay here and rest.”
Rose looked mutinous, and Malfoy leaned over. “Oh, c’mon, Red,” he murmured. “Just take the day off. Don’t waste your time, she’s not going to let you go, anyway.”
She sank back into her pillows, and Madam Pomfrey looked mollified. “Five minutes,” she warned Malfoy before going back to her office.
“I hate you,” Rose said, though her voice lacked conviction.
He smiled. “Yeah. I believe that.” She narrowed her eyes, wondering what on earth that sarcasm meant. “Look,” he said, leaning forward, “you really were exhausted. You’re not just here because of that potion. Believe it or not, I did not intend to put you in the hospital wing.”
She looked into his eyes suspiciously. Either he was a very good liar, which was always a possibility, especially with a Slytherin, or he was telling the truth. She let out a groan. “Fine.”
He held her gaze, and after a moment, Rose looked away. “Just relax,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll let you out tonight.”
“She’d better,” she said hotly. “I have double Defense Against the Dark Arts tomorrow and double Potions. If I miss them, I’ll turn your entire body red. I’ll turn you into a snail.” She thought for a moment. “I’ll feed you to the giant squid.”
“But I don’t want to be fed to the giant squid.”
“Yeah,” Rose said playfully, finally seeing an opportunity to regain the upper hand. “I remember. You have plenty of things you’d prefer to that, right?”
He leaned closer and said very softly, “You know, Red, you talk a lot about the fact that I think that you’re attractive. Why is that, exactly?” She suddenly felt very uncomfortable, and knew that she had not gotten the upper hand after all. She didn’t know if he saw the tension in her face or not, but he saved her from having to find an answer. “Just curious.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Feel better, Rose.” He straightened up and commented, “You know, it’s nice to end an interaction with you and have your face be bright red, not mine,” before turning and leaving the hospital wing.
When the door closed, Madam Pomfrey emerged, and Rose drank the goblet she was carrying. As she lay down and felt sleep begin to overtake her, she was fully aware that Malfoy had been right. Her cheeks were burning.
Rose awoke with a start a few hours later at the sound of the door opening and two familiar voices arguing. “She needs rest, Mr. Potter.”
Rose opened her eyes and sat up quickly. “No, I’m fine,” she protested. “I want to see him.”
After a brief argument in which James used his most winning smile and cited deep concern for a family member as a reason that he really should be allowed to see his cousin, Madam Pomfrey clicked her tongue before turning and going back into her office.
As soon as James had taken the seat by her bed, he took out his wand, pointed it toward the office, and said, “Muffliato!”
Rose and James had discovered the spell over the summer. When Victoire and Teddy had arrived for a visit, Rose and James had both seen them give his father a meaningful look. Hugo, Albus, and Lily had been absorbed in a match of exploding snap, and hadn’t noticed a thing, and probably wouldn’t have been interested even if they had.
When they were all supposed to have gone to bed, Rose and James had crept back downstairs under the cloak, and were standing in a corner of the room when Victoire and Teddy had sat down to talk with her aunt and uncle.
Her uncle had pointed his wand at the stairs and used the spell, saying that the five kids upstairs didn’t need to overhear this conversation.
Rose and James had disagreed. It had been a very interesting conversation. Victoire and her uncle Harry had talked about increases in dementor attacks, and her aunt had talked about increases in attacks by magical creatures as a whole. Apparently, dark creatures were far more of a problem than dark wizards at the moment.
This was not news to any of the four people actually participating in the conversation. Rose and James, however, had never heard about it before, and had been up until past three in the morning discussing it. It wasn’t until the next morning when they were sitting alone at the breakfast table that they’d realised how helpful the spell itself could be, and tested it out on everyone else to make sure it did what they thought it did.
“Who else has visited you?” he asked.
“Oh, Albus during lunch, and Malfoy for a few minutes. I think he wanted to gloat. No class this afternoon?” she asked.
“Nope,” he said. “Roxanne would have come, but she’s got Ancient Runes right now.”
Rose put her head on her knees and let out a groan. “James, get me out of here.”
“Why’d you get all hysterical?” he asked. “So that Malfoy kid did get you?”
She looked up and wrinkled her nose. “Yep. Potion.”
“Want us to help you feed him to the giant squid?”
She giggled, thinking about the conversation she’d had with Malfoy. “No, it’s okay. I think we’ll just call it a ceasefire. For now.” James looked almost disappointed, and she hastened to add, “I wouldn’t want to commit myself to something I couldn’t follow through on. I should catch up on work first.”
He nodded. “A wise decision,” he said sagely, and then a grin broke out across his face again. James never could stay somber for long, even for the sake of sarcasm. “Anyway, it’ll be awhile until that red fades away completely.”
“I know!” Rose said gleefully. “It’s so perfect. I thought it couldn’t get worse that the bright red, but orange is definitely worse.” She hesitated for a moment. "So I learned something interesting last night. Or, I guess the night before last.”
“Oh?” he said curiously.
“Yeah. Apparently, some of the Slytherins see Malfoy and Nott as blood traitors.”
James’s eyebrows rose. He looked absolutely amazed. “Really?”
“I know! That was my reaction,” she said. “But Albus, Nott, and Malfoy all told me about it.” She related the conversations she’d had with them to him, and he was left with an uncharacteristic frown on his face.
“I figured they weren’t pureblood maniacs,” he said slowly, “given that Albus is friends with them and, come to think of it, given that they’re friends with him. But I didn’t think that they were actually thought of as blood traitors.”
“I know. Neither did I.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, and then James said, “Well, I guess that if he’s a git, at least he’s a blood traitor git. Makes me feel a little better about Al being friends with him.”
“Yeah,” she said. “Makes me feel a little better about his finding me attractive, too.”
She wasn’t sure why she’d decided to casually slip that into the conversation, but James looked a little taken aback. “Seriously?”
Rose nodded. “Don’t tell Albus,” she started, and James laughed.
“You know, I love my brother, and I know that you love my brother, but it’s a little funny how many things we say start with ‘Don’t Tell Albus.’”
“Tell me about it,” she said. “I do love him, he’s a terrific person, but he gets all disappointed in us. If I want somebody to be disappointed in me, I’ll tell my mother that I hate Slytherins.”
Rose’s mother was a proponent of interhouse cooperation, and was exceedingly unhappy that her daughter did not see eye-to-eye with her on the subject.
James sighed. “Some things you tell Albus. Some things, you just don’t. Thankfully, he never has the invisibility cloak, so he can’t overhear all those things that we shouldn’t tell Albus.”
“I don’t think that he would,” she pointed out. “Probably goes against his idea of fair play or something like that.”
He shrugged. “Probably. Anyway, what am I not telling Albus?”
“Well,” she said, looking toward the door, feeling absurdly as though she should double check that he really wasn’t at the door, “I heard him and Malfoy talking the other day…”
When she’d finished giving James the gist of the conversation, he leaned back in his chair, frowning again. “Good to know the dislike I feel is mutual. Does he know you know?”
She started to run her fingers through her hair, but gave up almost immediately. It was hopelessly tangled. The thought occurred to her that she rather wished Malfoy hadn’t seen her like that—but then, it hadn’t stopped him kissing her, had it?
Then it occurred to her to wonder why on earth she cared.
“Well, okay,” she said. “Here’s the thing.”
“I feel like ‘Here’s the thing’ is very similar to ‘Don’t tell Albus,’” he said. “It’s said a lot, and something that Albus probably shouldn’t know almost always follows it.”
Rose grinned. “That’s true, isn’t it.” She paused, and then repeated, “Okay. So here’s the thing.” He smirked, but didn’t interrupt. “They wanted to study after class that day, and, well, I thought I’d go with them, you know? It was just before Quidditch practice.” He nodded, and she continued. “And the quickest way to the library is through that secret passage I was hiding in…”
His smirk grew wider. “So you led them through it.”
“Yeah. I think Albus ended up being mostly convinced it was coincidence, but Malfoy… wasn’t. He cornered me when I was looking for a book, and accused me of showing off. I told him I wasn’t, I just wanted to see what would happen, and he said that was a stupid reason to do something.”
“That’s a perfectly fine reason to do something,” James said hotly.
“Yeah, well, I agree,” she said, “but apparently he doesn’t. Anyway, I might have maybe baited him a little.”
James raised his eyebrows. “Baited him how?”
“I don’t remember what exactly I said, but it was after he said that I had no self-control. I said something like that he probably wished I had even less,” she said.
His lip twitched, and she could tell he was trying not to smile. “Yeah, Albus wouldn’t be too keen on that.”
“No,” she said. “No, he really wouldn’t. And, okay, there was this other time, the day we went to Hogsmeade? Well, he was looking at the map with me and Albus—it wasn’t my idea, it was Al’s,” she said, quickly, and he shrugged.
“No, it’s fine. I don’t like the kid, but Al has a fair point. There was this other time?” he prompted her.
“Well, Al left, and so did he, but then he came back and tried to disarm me.” He nodded, clearly integrating the new information with the short version she’d given him and Fred. “Obviously, he failed. Then we had a brief conversation, and it kind of ended with my accusing him of staring down my shirt and bringing up a few other things I’d heard him say to Albus about me.”
“Was he?” James asked, the front legs of his chair thudding onto the ground.
“Was he what?”
“Staring down your shirt.” He looked annoyed.
“I was guessing when I accused him of it, but his face went really red, so I think so.”
James scowled. “Git.”
“Anyway, whenever I reference it, his face gets redder.” She neglected to mention his kissing her on the cheek. In retrospect, she was sure that he was just trying to throw her off guard, and it wasn’t going to work.
James nodded, slowly. “Okay, well, yeah, his being a blood traitor should make you feel better about that. You know, I thought he hated you.”
“Well, I think he does,” she said. “Or at the very least finds me very unpleasant to be around. I’m pretty sure it’s just about how I look. At one point, he actually said ‘Shame about the personality.’”
She expected James to be even more disgusted, but he surprised her. He said, “Wow. That actually makes me feel a little sorry for him.”
“Why?” Rose was not sure why that would suddenly make James feel sorry for him.
He ran a hand over his hair, and she hid a smile. She didn’t think he’d ever grow out of messing up his hair on purpose. “Well,” he said, drawing out the word, “for one thing, if he does hate you, that’s a very annoying contradiction.”
“Have you ever had it?” she asked. “I haven’t.”
James shook his head. “No. I’ve known girls who were perfectly nice but too…” He glanced up at the ceiling as he searched a word. “… homely to be interested in, but mostly, if I really hate a girl, it doesn’t matter what she looks like. She gets to be ugly pretty fast.” He shrugged. “You know. You find things to dislike.” She nodded, and he leaned his chair back again. “Which kind of brings me to my other… theory, I guess you could call it.”
“There’s another theory?” Rose sometimes felt exceptionally slow.
“Yeah, there is.” He paused, and then said, “Well, the way he’s behaving isn’t actually consistent with his outright hating you. If I really hated a girl that much and still found her attractive anyway, I would be avoiding her like the plague, not seeking out her company.”
He ran a hand over his hair again, and she felt a rush of gratitude toward her family. She was lucky to have them.
“So what does that mean?” she prompted.
James sighed, and the front legs of the chair thudded back onto the floor. It occurred to Rose that if he kept doing it, he was probably going to break the chair. “Honestly? I think it means that his feelings about you are pretty damn conflicted. And yeah, that kind of does make me feel sorry for him.” He grinned, lightening the mood. “Not that that will actually stop me from going after him, mind.”
Rose grinned back. “Of course not.” She leaned over the short distance between the bed and the chair and hugged him. “You’re the best.”
He hugged her back. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not your problem unless you want it to be.” She pulled back, and he leaned over and reached into his bag to pull out some sweets. “Here,” he said, dumping them on the bedside table. “You must be starving.”
She took a chocolate frog and opened it. Taking a bite out of the frog, she held up the card and choked. James thumped her on the back.
When Rose had finished coughing, she held up the card. James leaned in to look at it, and delight spread across his face. “I didn’t know he had a chocolate frog card!”
She picked up the box again, and saw, printed in the corner, Special Edition: The Order of the Phoenix.
It wasn’t so unusual for them to have special editions, but she’d never seen this one before.
She felt as though her birthday had come early. James seemed to agree, from the way he was rummaging in his bag for another frog.
“Sirius Black,” Rose read. “Black is infamous for escaping from impossible places. Among them were Azkaban prison and a locked room in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Black was killed in 1996 defending his godson, Harry Potter, from Death Eaters.”
James looked positively gleeful. Despite having never met his grandfather or Sirius Black, he quite idolized them. His habit of messing up his hair on purpose in the first place stemmed from his father offhandedly mentioning that James I had done that all the time in his youth.
She handed him the card. “You can have it.”
By the time Roxanne poked her head in, they’d also gotten Nymphadora Tonks, Fabian Prewett, Edgar Bones, Benjy Fenwick, and Alice Longbottom.
She pulled another chair up. “You guys are going to make yourselves sick. I’d better help you eat them.”
As she reached for the first one, the door opened again, and Albus came in. “Are those the new special edition chocolate frog cards?” he asked.
“Yeah,” James said, reading a card as he chewed. He handed it over to Albus.
“Emmeline Vance,” he read, and looked at the death date. “Bloody hell, this is a little… maudlin, isn’t it?”
“A bit,” Rose admitted. “But it’s cool, too, you’ve got to admit.”
“Definitely,” Roxanne said, passing another card over to Albus. “Take a look, Alastor Moody.”
Albus took it. “You know,” he said as he opened it, “sometimes I wonder how exactly you manage to fit so many things into your bag. It seems like it’s practically bottomless.” He looked down, and James, Rose, and Roxanne exchanged quick glances. He pulled the card out. “Cool. I got McGonagall.”
Madam Pomfrey came out of her office, and seemed taken aback to find both Albus and Roxanne there. “I didn’t hear either of you come in.”
They both shot a look at James. “We were quiet,” Roxanne said.
She examined Rose, and said that it seemed that she was completely recovered. However, it was still well after seven by the time she let Rose leave.
As she walked down the corridor with Albus, James, and Roxanne, all of whom had elected to remain with her until she was discharged. Roxanne seemed to think that if they left, Madam Pomfrey might decide to keep Rose overnight after all, and Albus and James had agreed and reminded her about the large store of sweets they had in the dormitory. She was feeling distinctly more cheerful.
As they reached the Fat Lady, however, a thought occurred to her. It was early evening, and years of using the Marauder’s Map with relative frequency at this time of day told her that the odds were good that Malfoy would be studying in the library rather than their common room. She held James back after Albus and Roxanne had climbed in. “Hey, can I borrow the map and the cloak tonight?”
“Sure,” he said. “Now?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Now is good.”
A/N: I have a lot of challenges that I'm doing, and unfortunately, the queue has been quite long recently, which is why it's taken me so long to upload this next chapter (though I have been editing the others!). However, if it continues to stay this short, I'll have chapter 9 up soon.
Any reviews would be greatly appreciated, and most importantly, thank you so much for reading. I hope you continue to enjoy the story!
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