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Problem 28: Here I am again, in the Hospital Wing. 

“—she’s sick, not anorexic!” 

“I was just asking, for crying out loud! She didn’t eat anything this morning.” 

“That’s because she’s SICK!” 

I open my heavy eyes to see that Matt and Caspar have continued to argue all the way up here. Brilliant. Livi, for once, isn’t saying anything, but is instead swinging her legs as she perches on the gurney next to my bed. Strangely enough, Lily is also here. 

“Well how was I supposed to know that?” Matt barks. He looks quite pretty angry, really. 

“Maybe if you used that fluff you call a brain—“ 

“Oh, shut up, both of you,” I groan, “Can’t a girl faint without her motives being questioned?” 

“No,” Madam Cherie says smoothly, gliding up to take my temperature. Pressing her wand against my forehead, a shiny red number appears in the air: one hundred and two. Point seven. What’s the point in being precise? I already know I feel like crap. “You need to stay in here a few days. All of you, out! You might catch whatever she’s got, which I highly suspect to be the flu.” 

Oh, brilliant. How much better can my life get? 

My ex-boyfriends loser friend has managed to get a cartoon of me all the way around the school. 

The boy I genuinely want has called me out for cursing blonde weirdo’s. 

And I have the flu. 

Bollocks. 

As my rather caring – considering he was swearing at me yesterday – ex boyfriend and my best friends leave, leaving me with Lily, I feel a distinct sense of relief. And then I realise Lily’s still here. 

“Why are you still here?” I ask nicely. Well, rudely. But I have the flu, so it’s okay for me to be horrible now. 

Lily shrugs, and looks at Madam Cherie, who huffs. 

“Professor Bell sent her up here,” the matron explains, patting her golden hair to see if it’s kept to its neat little bun. Of course it has; she uses so much magic on it I doubt it ever even comes loose. “Something about a duel that backfired on Lily.” 

“Who were you duelling?” I ask Lily, amazed she’d do something so openly nasty. She opens her mouth to reply, and meows. Realising this, she claps a hand over her mouth, eyes widening. 

I start to laugh, but unfortunately have to stop when I start to cough instead. Damn it all! 

Lily tries to laugh back at my coughing fit, but instead does some strange cat-like wheezing. Haha! Karma. 

“Oh dear,” Madam Cherie mutters, scuttling off to her office on her pin-like legs. I notice she’s wearing a pair of very tall heels; I always wonder how she gets to be taller than Albus. Cheater. 

Madam Cherie is what I guess most people would picture as the mildly slutty receptionist at some big city firm someplace: she wears pencil skirts and tall heels, her make-up is done to perfection, she doesn’t do fats or carbohydrates. Whereas I wear school uniform and comfy flat shoes, I look like I jabbed mascara in the vague direction of my eyes, and I eat roughly five times what I should. Just saying. 

I guess it’s pointless to say that she’s the female object of desire for many young, hormonal boys. Valentine’s Day is the worst time to go to the hospital wing, ever. Even if you can fight your way through the many idiots clustered around her office, you find you have to wade through bouquets as big as you are, and then battle for a bed with some plonker who thinks he can woo Madam Cherie by being an injured soldier. 

Pah. None of them ever get any attention; although she doesn’t show it, Madam Cherie is a closet lesbian, as I found out last year. 

It’s a long story. 

And although I could tell that story, I’m feeling kind of sick, and Madam Cherie has returned with something violently pink to feed Lily. 

I have no idea what whoever she was duelling hit her with, but she’s sprouted whiskers. I would laugh, but Madam Cherie has brought me something to ‘cure’ me too. And we all know what this means: she’s going to drug me halfway to insanity, and then I will fall asleep, handily waking up next time she wants to force another lot of it down my throat. 

“Open wide,” she commands, and I’m about to say something witty when she pours something vaguely purple looking into my mouth. Ew. 

Newsflash: Medicine is not nice. 

It burns down my throat, and I realise I was very, very right when I guessed what was about to happen to me. I start to get drowsy instantly, and feel very grumpy about it too. It’s stupid well three days I need to take off, and I could be using them doing other stuff, like snogging Scorpius or flirting with Scorpius or talking to Scorpius. 

You know, stuff that happens in my dreams. 

Speaking of which... 





“The monkeys Rose, the monkeys!” Livi yells, and bursts into tears. I stare at many cages of monkeys, unsure which ones she means. They all look the same to me. 

“Which monkeys?” Matt asks, appearing by my shoulder with a parrot. “There’s so many monkeys, but only three of them are good monkeys! Find them, Rose!” 

“Find the monkeys!” Scorpius orders, pushing me roughly towards them. The monkeys all begin to make screeching sounds, and Livi starts laughing. 

“It’s impossible!” she cries, “The monkey’s don’t exist!”
 




I hate whatever Madam Cherie’s fed me. Not only am I having insane dreams, but my mouth feels all swollen. 

And when on Earth did my parents get here? 

“Rosie, can you hear me?” Mum says gently. 

I groan. Honestly, I am ill. Actually full blown ill, not oh-dear-I-have-a-sniffle ill. My head hurts, it feels like the room is dancing around me, and my eyes are so heavy. I want to go back to sleep. 

Mmmn, sleep. That sounds nice. 

“Rose, the nurse wants you to take some medicine,” Mum carries on, clearly oblivious to how bad I feel. 

I groan again, and open my eyes. Ugh. Bad idea. Even my eyeballs hurt. 

But luckily enough they still work, and my mother and father come into focus. 

“Muuuum,” I moan, “Daaaaad. Ill.” 

Dad smiles. “I gathered. The nurse says you’ve got some kind of bug.” 

I nod, and my head spins. 

“She’s awake then?” I hear from Madam Cherie, and I suddenly want to go back to sleep. But no, she’s zooming towards me, medicine in tow. “Wonderful. Open wide!” 

Dutifully opening my mouth ready to swallow what I can only describe as crap-tasting nonsense, I notice Scorpius sneaking in and hiding in Madam Cherie’s office. Ooh. I wonder what he’s doing here... perhaps someone finally told him that there’s a potion for being a smartass. 

Oh, Rose! So cruel. 

Secretly, I’m laughing. 

In fact, I laugh a bit out loud, and choke on the violet potion Madam Cherie is pouring down my throat. Mum frowns sympathetically. Oh no. I know what that means. 

As Madam Cherie bustles away in the vague direction of her office – I hope Scorpius has a good hiding place – Mum begins The Speech. 

“Rose, you know I’m worried,” she says in a concerned sort of voice, “But I have an awful lot of work—“ 

“—and you know I’ll be fine,” I finish for her, and smile. Well, I try to. I think I may look as if my lips are glued together. “I know, mum. You can go.” 

Mum hesitates, but she’s clearly about to dash off. Placing a kiss on my forehead, she stands up, kissing dad on the cheek and leaving. It’s kind of nice, how predictable she is. It’s always nice to know she’ll do the same thing – even if it doesn’t sit right the first few times. I remember in first year I got hit in the head with a bludger and then cried when she left. 

Although she did take care of me – James visibly cringes when he sees bludgers now, because it brings back memories of her yelling at him for over an hour. When mum gets going, it’s almost impossible to stop her. 

Dad relaxed back into his chair and propped his feet up on mum’s vacated seat. 

“So, what’s been happening, kiddo?” he asks. 

Ah, dad. So awkward, so redheaded, so dependable. I inherited so much of him it’s scary. 

“I got on the Quidditch team,” I croak, “We’re going to win this year.” 

He laughs. “I know! If Gryffindor ever lose again it’ll be when you leave, Rosie.” 

Let me make one thing clear: only dad can call me Rosie. Anyone else is immediately classed as Enemy. 

But when dad does it, it’s just like it’s been since I learnt to talk as a toddler. You see, I’m really still the two year old who ran out in front of the Burrow chasing chickens and skinned my knee. And the five year old who achieved her first magical feat by making a toilet explode in the Muggle school mum insisted both Hugo and I attended, and consequently was dubbed ‘toilet queen’ by James. 

Ah, James. A constant source of irritation from the moment I learned that he would be in my life pretty much every day. He went to the same school I did and irritated me there, he was around my house every other day irritating me there, and to top it all off he’s at my magic school irritating me. 

Woohoo. 

I notice Madam Cherie sneaking out of her office – it must be two o’clock. Two o’clock is proven to be the least busy time of the day, and is also the time Madam Cherie sneaks out of the hospital wing to go and do whatever she does with her lesbian lover. Hey, whatever. I’m only DESPERATELY SICK here. 

But anyway. As she leaves, dad stands up and offers me a lopsided grin. 

“Sorry, Rosie,” he begins, and I know that dad is also going to follow his routine. “I’ve got to get back to work. I was supposed to be back two hours ago.” 

I laugh weakly, cough and give up. Oh, for crying out loud. 

He looks at me with sympathy. 

“Bye, dad,” I croak out, “Love you.” 

He gives me a mildly awkward hug – well, my head spins if I sit up, okay? – and trundles off. 

Ach. Now I’m alone until Madam Cherie gets here. Which will be a while, as five o’clock is peak time and I don’t expect her to be back much earlier than that. 

No! I’m wrong. Scorpius’ gorgeous head pokes out from her office. I smile to myself, and he turns and grins back. 

No, I’m wrong again. It’s more of a smirk. And a damn gorgeous one at that. 

“Weasley, Weasley, Weasley,” he sighs, sauntering over in that wonderful way he alone can manage to do while looking edible. 

Merlin, I am loosing it. Whatever ‘it’ is. 

“Hmmn?” I reply, because it’s pretty much all I feel I can say without choking. 

“The flu?” he questions, waving around one of those little green slips – the ones sent to every teacher to notify them their pupil is ill, and not just skiving off the lesson. “That’s so cliché.” 

I glare at him. “Well sorry if my illness is too—“ Cue coughing fit. An impressive one, too. I hack away at my lungs for a good two minutes, and then croak, “...cliché for you.” 

“Sorry, Weaslet,” Scorpius apologizes, “Thought you were faking.” 

He pulls dads chair closer to the gurney I’m on and plops down into it, putting his feet up on the crappy bed. 

“Go ahead,” I rasp sarcastically, “Make yourself at home.” 

He rolls his eyes, and doesn’t move. Fixing his gaze on me, he frowns. 

“You look bad.” 

Gee, thanks. I say this – okay, I manage ‘-anks’ since I’m sure my throat is closing up – and he laughs. 

And I melt. 

Well, not really, but my knees feel like jelly. That could be the medicine, though. 

“So, Rose, I guess you can’t talk much. Shame. I’ll have to do it for us, then. I think I’ll tell a story.” 

Hey, not cool. I try to protest but – surprise surprise – fail and cough a bit more. 

OH MY MERLIN I’M GETTING WORSE. 

Scorpius was always rubbish at telling stories. Either he laughed too much while telling them, or forgot the ending and made me and Livi grumpy in the process. 

“Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl. One was insane – that was the girl – and was also conveniently enough from a family of strange and wondrous people. For the purpose of this tale, let’s call her Rose. 

“The boy was very handsome. His family were mainly maniacs or gits or both, and so he decided not to be called anything as anything they named him was bound to be rubbish. Unfortunately for him, his family did name him, and we shall have to use that name – Scorpius. 

“Now, Rose and Scorpius were two very different people. Rose was thrilled to be going to big school, whereas Scorpius was shitting a brick just thinking about it. Luckily enough for them, September arrived bloody fast, and before they could breathe or think about it too much they were bundled onto a big red train of death.” 

Not melodramatic at all, hey Scorp. He’s better at story telling than I remember. Although the last time he told me a story was quite a while ago...
Scorpius folds his hands behind his head and leans back, staring up at the ceiling. 

“Scorpius sat in a compartment on his own, alone and frightened, until someone with a rather sweet kitten rudely interrupted his being terrified. It was Rose, the mad one, and she brought with her a strange sense of happiness and a secret supply of chocolate frogs. They both gorged themselves on chocolate and another weird little girl joined in. Let’s call her, say, Olivia. 

“She was also crazy, but we forgave her for that because she had cupcakes. As we all know, cupcakes are the route of love—“ 

Really? I must buy some. 

“—and so she joined the small group.” 

Scorpius pauses, and does some ominous gazing at the ceiling. After a while, I get bored and kick him. If I can’t talk, he has to. 

“Quiet in the cheap seats! Anyway... They all got to Hogwarts fine, and then they were sorted into different bloody houses. Rose and Olivia, being of the mad kind, went into the craziest house they could manage – Gryffindor. Unfortunately for Scorpius he was sane, and so he was sorted into Slytherin. 

“This is where I get fed up with the story, because it gets really shit. Scorpius got bullied because he was a scrawny git who spent half his time with Gryffindors, and Rose and Livi were loved by everyone because they were mad and everyone loved mad people. 

“In fact, everyone still loves them now. But no one loved poor little Scorpius,” Scorpius himself sighed and fidgeted, trying to get comfortable. Tough luck, because the hospital wing chairs were uncomfortable, to encourage you to leave. “In fact, no one even understood why he was friends with a Weasley. I mean, our parents were rivals.”
“Nuhhy,” I disagree, “I liked you!” 

Scorpius pauses briefly from his staring at the ceiling to smile at me. 

“Thanks,” he says softly, and then goes back to telling his fabulous story. “So people start to pick on Scorpius because of that, too. Scorpius never used to be very violent, but he suddenly starts punching people. And one day, he breaks someone’s nose. His dad gets called into school, and he’s given a freaking anger management lesson. So he starts using his wand instead, and hey, that works. He struggles through the next year, and the one after that, failing at charms and winning some vague victories in flying lessons. 

“The next piece of shit that happens is that when the second year is over, and Rose, Livi and Scorpius say goodbye to each other, and suddenly Scorpius is cornered by his father, who demands to know why I’m talking to a Weasley, of all people. I always thought I could talk to whoever I wanted, but apparently not. So he’s given a stern talking to, and then he goes home for the worst part of the year: the summer holidays. Six unadulterated weeks of time spent with his parents. Hell. 

“At first it’s okay, because he has regular letters from both Rose and Olivia to keep him alive. Totally not crazy, or worse. But then his father finds the letters and threatens to take him out of Hogwarts if he doesn’t stop talking to the Weasley’s and co. Scorpius, who loves Hogwarts, is worried and so he stops sending letters. After a while, Rose and Livi stop sending them too. 

“This is the part where Scorpius goes crazy because his mother keeps asking him if he’s ever going to get a good wife and his father keeps sending him dirty looks. Scorpius gets rather bitter about the whole not-being-friends-with-Weasley’s fiasco, especially when his father tells him if he ever makes friends with a Weasley he’ll be withdrawn from Hogwarts, pronto. 

“When Scorpius gets onto the red train of death for his third year, he doesn’t sit with Rose and Livi. He hides in the toilets for the entire journey, and then dashes onto the last carriage when he’s sure they’ve left for the feast. He sits with his back to them, and then shuns them. He feels like shit and he’s pretty sure he looks like an idiot. 

“He doesn’t sleep well, and the next day he shrugs them off like they were just anyone. He’s being a complete twat, and he knows it. But he loves Hogwarts, and he doesn’t want to be home schooled because any more time with his parents would make him into some kind of gun-wielding psychopath. 

“So he acts like he doesn’t care, and he starts irritating Rose by encouraging this weirdo, Marius, to ask her out. He knows she doesn’t like him, and he decides it would be funny to get close to Rose by irritating her. He wouldn’t be friends with her, but he would be close to her. They are in the same classes after all, and he likes the sound of her voice. 

“It’s all terrifically sad, and somehow he finds himself telling the whole thing to the other character in the story, who appears to have fallen asleep.” 

Nonsense. I’m resting my eyes. But there’s no way I’m about to interrupt his story, because it’s kind of... sweet. 

“But for what it’s worth, Rose grew up to be the most beautiful girl in the world, married some guy who liked her for her last name, and had many kids before dying in perfect happiness. Ditto with Olivia. But Scorpius grew old alone, miserably bound to his father’s ways. Maybe one day he’d tell her this story, she’d fall asleep and he’d wonder why he was such a monumental idiot. Get well soon, Rose.” 

The weight of his legs leaves my bed, and I hear him walk away. When I’m sure he’s gone I turn onto my side, sigh, and go to sleep. Properly. 





Back from the hols! Feedback muchos appreciated =)

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