I am jolted awake by someone prodding me in the side. I am not one to allow people into my personal space (unless it is for business purposes of course) so I immediately draw my wand and ram in against the soft bit of skin beneath their jaw bone.
“Steady on Rose,” they gasp, their eyes like saucers. “It’s just me!”
“Albus. You should know better than to wake me like that,” I snarl.
“And you should know better than to fall asleep when we have Quidditch practice,” he hisses in reply. Damn. I had forgotten we had practice today. “Come on or we’ll be even later than we already are and I don’t want the rest of the team thinking they can just rock up late whenever they want. You’ll be doing laps for me as punishment,” he orders before strutting out of the common room. Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I follow him out at a much more leisurely pace.
By the time I get to the changing rooms, Albus is fuming. The new kid, Henderson, looks a little green but everyone else is just ignoring him. Which is only antagonising him further. I walk right past him as he yells abuse at me for walking so slow before taking my Quidditch robes out and changing.
“How come you’re late?” Dave whispers to me as I pull off my school robes.
“Forgot we had practice,” I shrug as Albus hurls a spare shin guard at us. Dave snorts and Lucy shoots us a look. Well, she shoots me a look before gazing soppily at Dave. This can only go wrong.
“Now that we are finally all here,” Albus glare in my direction. “I just want to go over the Gryffindor team rules. I have added a few new ones too but I doubt you’ll need them, they’re just precautions. Rule number one: anything that has happened, is happening or might happen outside the pitch, stays outside the pitch. Nothing matters in here except for Quidditch. Rule number two: You will turn up to practice on time and with the correct kit. I will not tolerate lateness and if I feel you are not giving your all to the team, I will replace you. Rule three: before every match, you must eat a full dinner the night before, go to bed early and eat a decent breakfast in the morning. I don’t care how sick you feel, I won’t have my team falling off their brooms just because they were too nervous to eat. Clear?
“Rule four: if you are struggling with balancing schoolwork and Quidditch, come and see wither me or another member of the team. Hopefully we can get someone to help you otherwise we might have to let you go, so please try to stay one top of it all. Rule five: you will never, under pain of death, reveal any of our tactics or plans to any other member of any other house and I would strongly suggest you do not reveal them to anyone outside of the team because if they tell, I will hold you responsible and you will be off the team.
“Now for the new rules. Rule six: if you decide to quit the team (for whatever absurd reason) you will notify me at least a month before the next game we have to play. A month is a poor time to train up a new member but it will have to suffice. If you notify me in less than a month, I will expect you to play in that game and you can quit after. Understood? And lastly, rule seven: this team is like a family. But a very platonic family. There will be no dating any other member of this team and I would prefer it if you did not date members of the other Quidditch teams either to prevent tensions arising that are not due to the actual game. Savvy?” Albus looks around at the team who are all staring at him blankly. Except for Lucy, who looks shocked and pale, and Keegan who is staring at his toes and fiddling with the bottom of his jersey. Well this just got more interesting.
“Does everyone understand?” Albus yells. Everyone, bar me of course, jumps slightly before nodding, some a little less enthusiastically than others. Lucy looks on the verge of tears but Dave doesn’t even glance at her. Instead, he glances at me. Oh Merlin. There is a frown etched into his forehead as he looks at me. I stubbornly stare ahead of me. “Good, now let’s get onto the pitch!” Albus roars again. Apparently my lateness has put him in a rather foul mood.
To add to the disaster that is practice, the heavens decide now would be a perfect time to release all the rain that they have been holding up the entire week. We are drenched within seconds but Albus does not even blink an eyelid as he orders us onto our broom and tells us to fly seven laps of the pitch. He himself, stays in the middle, watching us. If no one gets injured by the end of this, I will… Well, I don’t know what I would do. I’d be impressed at least.
As I fly close to the stadium seats to try and avoid the heavy rain, I skim over an oddly shaped form sitting in the stands. I race around once again and when I get back to where I had spotted it, I slow down, squinting my eyes against the rain. I think it is a person. What kind of insane idiot willing comes out in this weather to watch a Quidditch practice? Unfortunately, the person behind me does not see me slow down through the veil of rain and comes flying straight into me, sending me flying into the stands beside the hooded figure. I lose my broom and come crashing down to the floor, knocking over several benches. The person who flew into me is sent off balance and crashes against the stands a little way down.
Brilliant. I think I have broken my back. Groaning, I try to stand up but a hand is immediately on my shoulder, pushing me back down to the floor.
“Don’t move, you might make it worse,” a vaguely familiar voice calls through the racket of the rain. I stop protesting and relax back down onto the wooden floorboards. I knew someone would get hurt in this weather. The hand that was one my shoulder moves to push a few benches out of the way. “Where does it hurt?” he asks.
“Uh… everywhere?” I snort. They chuckle slightly and I can feel their name on the tip of my tongue. I think I must have concussion. “My back mainly. I haven’t broken any limbs at least,” I try to shrug but stop when a shooting pain darts down my back. “And this sodding rain is not helping.”
“Sorry, I’m not skilled in Atmospheric Charms,” they say and I detect a smirk in their voice. Oh for fucks sake. “Come on Thorn, I don’t think anything is broken but I suggest you go to Madame Pomfrey to make sure. I think you can stand up now,” the figure stands up themselves before offering me a hand. I take it, not sure I can sand by myself.
As he helps me up, his hood falls back to reveal his platinum hair and he resists another smirk as I lean heavily on his arm. I hate being helpless. I hate being weak.
“Rose?” someone shouts from a few meters away. I can barely make out their figure through the rain. “Rose, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you, why did you slow down? Are you okay? I’m so–”
“–Sorry? You said,” Malfoy snorts.
“Malfoy?” Dave stops trying to climb over the bench in surprise. “What are you doing here?” his voice is strained and hostile.
“No doubt he was spying on the enemy,” I sigh. “But would you mind having this little catch up later? I need to go and see Pomfrey,” I snap.
“Rose, I’m really, really sorry,” Dave repeats, resuming his attempts to climb up to where Malfoy and I are standing.
“You can grovel at her feet later McLaggen, now I’m taking her to Pomfrey,” Malfoy snarls and I can sense his eye narrowing on Dave.
“What do you mean: you are taking her to Pomfrey? You think I’d trust you with her?” Dave sneers in disgust. I had no idea he hated Malfoy so much.
“And you think you should be trusted with her after what you did?” Malfoy retorts, his voice filled with rage. Apparently the hatred is mutual.
“For fuck’s sake!” I snap. “Dave, Albus is already going to be pissed that one member of his team is missing. Malfoy can take me to Pomfrey, it will stop him spying at any rate, and I am perfectly capable of looking after myself. Now can we please get a fucking move on before I pass out!”
“Rose, really, I’ll deal with Al later, you’re not going with him,” Dave spits out the last world like Malfoy is something contagious. He probably is but right now I am in too much pain to care and Dave is staring to irritate me.
“McLaggen, do us all a favour and piss off,” Malfoy sneers before turning around and sling my right arm over his shoulder while slipping his left around my waist to hold me steady. Dave makes a disgusted noise and mutters something (no doubt unpleasant) under his breath. “Ready Thorn?” Malfoy asks before slowly helping me down the stairs and across the grounds towards the castle. Admittedly, we get a few odd looks from the passing student but otherwise we make it to the hospital wing in peace.
Madame Pomfrey fusses over me the minute Malfoy lowers me onto one of the beds. As she dries my clothes and instructs me to lie down, I notice Malfoy does not leave but stays, partly concealed by shadows, over by the door.
My eyes flutter open as the clock on the wall ticks to seven in the morning. The white sheets immediately inform me I am still in the hospital wing. On the desk by my bed is a goblet of pain numbing potion and several letters. I reach for the potion first. The liquid is thick and tastes faintly like the stuff my mother used to make me drink when I was ill as a child. Some form of muggle medicine.
When I have taken the potion, only then do I reach for the letters. There is one from my parents, one from Nana and one whose handwriting I recognise but am slightly surprised to see. Pushing the ones from my family aside, I take the last one and open it.
Dear Rose, it begins. I hear you’ve had a Quidditch accident, don’t worry I’ve already sent Albus a howler for making you practice in the rain. I somehow think I won’t be getting a Christmas present from him this year but I am sure his reaction was worth it, even if neither of us were there to witness it. Anyway, back to you. I hope your injuries are not too bad, maman only mentioned it briefly in her last letter, but I am sure Madame Pomfrey is taking good care of you. How are you at the moment, outside of the injuries? I haven’t heard from you in a while, I am sure you are busy with NEWTs and Quidditch but I just want to make sure you are okay? I hope to see you during the Christmas holidays, maman is desperate for me to spend Christmas back in England but I am not sure yet. I will definitely be back for a couple of days though and we must meet up as I have some news I would like you to know before the rest of the family. Don’t worry, I am not pregnant! Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you and do let me know if anything interesting happens in your life. I promise I shall not breathe a word… I live in France after all; there is no one to question me here. Hope you get well soon, ma chère, much love, Dominique.
Setting the letter down, I resist the urge to sigh. I shall have to write back to her, there are very few people in this world that I actually get along with and, since moving to France three years ago, Dominique has become one of them. I am somewhat pleased that she sent Albus a howler though. Folding her letter, I place it back on the bedside table but before I can reach for the others, the door opens and a crimson robed figure enters.
“Rose,” Dave stars, clearly surprised to find me awake. “I just came to see how you’re doing,” he tries to act casual but the way he keeps wringing his hands betrays some discomfort.
“I’m fine thank you,” I mutter coldly.
“Look Rose, I am really sorry about what happened, I didn’t see you through the rain and I wasn’t expecting you to slow down… And I’m sorry I let that Malfoy creep bring you here, it should have been me, it was my fault and–”
“It really doesn’t matter,” I cut across him.
“Still, I feel really bad and I am truly so–”
“Sorry? Yes, I get it. Do you know what really annoys me? People who say sorry over and over again. I mean really, once is enough. So please, just stop apologising.”
“Sorry,” he mutters sheepishly, staring at his feet. “I just…”
“It’s fine. I am not dead nor am I seriously or permanently injured so just leave it.”
“Right… yeah. Well… I’ll just be going then,” Dave mumbles. He makes to leave and reaches the doors before turning to look over his shoulder at me. “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but your cousin from France sent Al a howler for making us practice in the rain. Al almost exploded, it was hysterical. Not going to lie though, I keep thinking she’s going to send me one too,” he gives a half laugh before disappearing out of the hospital wing and leaving me alone once again.
Madame Pomfrey does not let me go for the rest of the day. By the time lessons have finished, I am practically squirming with irritation. I hate being trapped in this room. It is filled with memories I would prefer not to be reminded of. I have come to find that memories are often more painful than the actual event you remember because of everything that you associate with that event that you were unaware of while it was actually happening. As I mull these thoughts over in my mind, the door opens and a figure enters, heading for my bed.
“Good afternoon Thorn,” murmurs the husky voice of Scorpius Malfoy.
“Malfoy,” I nod, somewhat surprised he is here. “What can I do for you?”
“Well you weren’t in Potions so I thought I would deliver you the work as you are my Potions partner. We were just recapping some Sixth Year potions but Zabini said you would be more interested in some more advanced ones. He gave me this book for you,” Malfoy reaches into his bag to pull out a worn and ancient looking potions book. As he hands it to, I cannot help but be surprised as his finger brushes lightly against mine before he lets go.
“Thank you,” I mutter. To my astonishment, Malfoy proceeds to take the seat beside my bed and rest his feet on the sheets. The book in my hands however, quickly pulls me attention away from Malfoy. It is indeed an extremely old text book. So old I think I might have to translate some of the instructions from their original Old English before I attempt to brew any of the potions.
“He thinks you will particularly like the potion on page seventy-two and that you are more than welcome to use his classroom after lessons have finished if you wish. Although he said it would probably be best if you had someone with you should your potion go wrong,” Malfoy added on with a frown. “Although I cannot image you getting any potion wrong,” he mutters. Before I can respond however, the door slams open.
“What the fuck are you doing here Malfoy?” the new arrival hisses.
“Ah McLaggen, come to do some more damage have you?” Malfoy sneers, his lip curling in disgust as Dave comes towards us. “Was landing her in the hospital wing not enough? Decided to break her some more have you?” Malfoy continues, standing up to face Dave. I watch in faint amusement before the full meaning of Malfoy’s words sink in. Break her. Malfoy thinks I am broken. And he thinks it is Dave’s fault. Surely… Surely he cannot know?
Besides, I am not broken. I am merely bruised from the fall.
“Piss off Malfoy, no one asked you to become her protector,” Dave sneers, stepping closer to Malfoy. Oh dear Merlin, this might not end well. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh don’t I? So if I were to ask you if you knew who Georgina Morrish was, you would have no idea?” Malfoy’s voice is dangerously low. I can barely make out what he is saying. Dave’s face pales considerably and he whispers something so that I cannot hear. Malfoy just smirks and whispers something back before pulling away and sitting back down by my bedside. “You are not wanted here McLaggen,” he waves his hand absently as if in dismissal. Dave narrows his eyes in rage but manages to refrain from lashing out at Malfoy. Instead, he throws a couple of (now slightly crumpled) letters onto my bed before storming out and slamming the door behind him.
Malfoy pulls out a book and begins to read while I pick up the letters and read them. There is a short one from Albus, apologising for making us train in such conditions and informing me when our next practice was. There is one from Lucy, telling me she’ll come and see me after dinner with Lily and one from Dave, I read the first ‘I’m sorry’ and toss it aside.
“Who’s it from?” Malfoy asks without even looking up from his book.
“Dave,” I sigh.
“Something wrong?” he queries. I can tell he is trying to keep his face passive but his smirk still manages to shine through.
“He won’t stop apologising.” We fall into silence for a while, during which I become increasingly agitated. “Why are you here?” I ask eventually.
“Because there is a tie on my dorm door handle and I like to eat when most people have left the hall so I do not have to put up with the noise. This place is even quieter than the library,” he shrugs, again without even glancing away from his book. I find it slightly disturbing how I already knew he liked to eat when most people had left the Great Hall.
“Right.” More silence. “Do you come here often?”
“I think I will go and eat now,” Malfoy closes his book and puts it away in his bag as Lucy comes over. She eyes Malfoy with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. As he leaves, she takes his vacated spot as the people behind her perch on the end of my bed. It appears as well as Lily, she also brought Will Henderson, the new Chaser.
“What was Malfoy doing here?” Lucy asks with suspicious eyes.
“I have no idea,” I shrug.
“Odd,” she frowns. “I have the work you missed from Charms and Transfiguration but you’ll have to get the rest from your other Professors,” she changes the subjects and hands me a couple of sheets with the work written on them.
“So…” Lily starts. “Albus is pissed.”
Hello there, I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know your thoughts, the good and the bad ones. Also, if you have any questions for my characters, check out my blog for this story, there is a link on my author's page. Thank you so much for reading, IrishMyth.