Chapter 2 : Just a One Time Thing
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Warning: Sensitive topic chapter
James II - Chris Pine
Albus - Brant Daughtery
Lily II - Emma Stone
Dominique - Amy Adams
Horrified, Dominique fell to her knees next to her cousin. She tried to grab his large hands to support him, but his movements were too violent. “J—James? Jamie, it's okay. I’m here. What's happening?”
He said nothing, his mouth only opening and closing, suckling on air that wasn't there.
Dominique's hands flailed about hopelessly as she panicked. What was she to do? Knowing she alone could not be of any use to him, she called desperately, “Aunt Ginny! Help!”
There was a clatter from downstairs and a scramble to reach the source of the scream. She looked back to her cousin, still jolting violently on the ground. She could see tears slowly leave the corners of his eyes, yet still no sound came from him. Dom felt her own tears form, and she cried out again. “Something is wrong with James!”
At her latest scream, the music from the next room stopped, and the door to Al's room flung open. In the next moment, Al and Lily were standing in the bathroom doorway. Dominique looked over her shoulder, her hands on Jamie’s chest.
Finally Ginny came into view, and she pushed Albus and Lily out of the way. She blanched momentarily, taken aback by the condition of her son, but quickly regained her composure and knelt beside them.
“What's he doing? Is he having a seizure? Is he all right?!” Albus blurted out in a worried manner.
“Shut up, Al!” she snapped. She couldn't handle his questions in that moment.
Al’s mouth clamped shut in surprise, but he did so without further question, and he took a large step backward.
“Lily, back up. H–He'll be fine, all right? H–He'll be fine; I just need you to back up and give him some space.” She tried to calm Lily, but really she didn't know who she was trying to convince.
Lily nodded but couldn’t resist asking one question. “Why aren't you trying to stop it, Mum?”
“B–Because you don't try to stop a seizure, Lils. You can't stop one,” Ginny urged and nodded to her to back away. Ginny didn't know how she had managed to hold her composure this long, but she knew she would crack soon. Her family was her weakness; she had always been a strong woman, but when it came to her family in pain, that was a different story entirely. Her hands shook as she knelt next to her oldest son, and she wondered how much longer it would be. She knew seizures lasted anywhere from a seconds to a few minutes, so she believed waiting it out was her best option.
Dom whispered in a horrified voice, cowering in the corner of the bathroom while she tried to give James as much space as possible. “Aunt Gin, is he going to be okay?”
“I don't know, baby. We will have to wait and see.”
Ginny felt tears in her eyes, and she looked to her son once more. His emerald eyes were glazed over and staring at the ceiling in such a way that made Ginny believe that—in that moment—her son wasn't there at all. He continued to convulse, his mouth opening and gaping at nothing, only making the weakest of sounds. He continued for what felt like decades to Ginny after he finally went limp on the floor with an exhaustive breath.
Ginny relinquished her grip on her knees, and Dominique pried herself away from the tiled wall. Ginny looked to James and found him panting with tears wetting his cheeks. Her lips quivered, and she almost felt useless next to James, but then her motherly instincts took over as she met his eyes. He gave her a pleading look, as if his mother could take away the pain he had just endured. He felt his mother's hand on his cheek before he burst into tears for the first time in many years.
He engulfed his mother into his arms and buried his face into her neck. He cried loudly, still gasping lethargically. Ginny stroked his hair, doing her best to calm him while she herself was still terrified. “Shhh. It's okay, honey, it's okay.”
“What happened...?” James asked through his tears.
“You had a seizure, Jamie,” Ginny said, but other than that, what was she to say?
“It was torture…” moaned James between his cries against Ginny’s neck. “I–I couldn’t stop myself, couldn’t—”
“Shh, I know,” encouraged Ginny, stroking his hair and kissing his cheek. She peeled his damp cheeks from the crook of her neck and looked him in the eye, stroking his cheeks with her thumbs. “How do you feel now?”
James pulled out of his mother's arms and found himself slumping to the floor again. Wanting to calm him and take care of him, Ginny etched towards his back and took his head into her lap. She heard him mutter something about not having the energy to sit up any longer. His words were slightly slurred for the time being, but his tears were still steady. “I don't know how I feel. Oh my god...”
“Just relax, Jamie,” Ginny soothed. She couldn't take her eyes away from him. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen him cry; it had to have been when he was near eight-years-old and Albus had flushed James' new, very own golden snitch down the toilet. Now it was nine years later, and she hadn’t seen him shed a tear since. James was tough; if he was crying, it was bad.
“I need you to try sitting up. We have to get you to St. Mungo's.”
Ginny knew it was the next necessary step. He had to see a Healer so they could figure out just what the hell had happened. Yet, all the while, she hoped that taking him to St. Mungo’s wouldn’t turn his episode into a huge publicity matter. Even after twenty-four years, any matter that had to do with the Potters got more attention than necessary because it had to do with the Boy-Who-Lived and three other famous names. Ginny would have thought that, after vanquishing Voldemort, the world would have settled down, but that hadn't been the case at all.
The wizarding world had praised Harry Potter and those who had supported him all the while. He received more unwanted attention than ever. Granted, it wasn't like the attention he had received from Rita Skeeter, but it was unwanted attention nonetheless. It even went so far as to make Harry and Ron into chocolate frogs cards, and Ginny heard that hers and Hermione's were in the making.
“D–Do I need to walk?” James found himself muttering before he even gave it a second thought or attempted to hold his own weight.
“Of course not, baby. We'll help you,” answered Ginny as she looped one of his arms around her neck. She looked to Albus out in the hallway, still quiet and looking fearful. “Albus, help me please.”
Albus nodded and went to Jamie’s other side. He picked up Jamie’s other arm and wrapped it around his next. Together they heaved him up and held his weight. Ginny found the method nearly obsolete, as James stood so much higher than her and definitely more broad, but Albus was just as tall as James—and would potentially be taller one day—so she was grateful for his help. Together they were able to pull him from the bathroom and into the hallway.
James muttered, knowing Ginny would be considering it as a travel option. “P–Please don't apparate. I might throw up again.” He noticed their actions change as they took in his statement, so they headed toward the stairs, and he refused that out-right as well. He was embarrassed that he could barely handle carrying his own weight; if he could hardly hold his own weight, he couldn’t handle stairs. “No. No stairs.”
He didn't understand what had become of his muscles and his senses. He felt useless and weak. He felt like a limp noodle with no control over his movements. It reminded him oddly of his dreams whenever he had to scream or defend himself. The scream would never be the volume it needed to be or that of what you could manage while you were awake; nor were your defense mechanisms effective in the slightest. If you punched someone in your dreams, it felt as if you were only tapping them with a wet noodle.
Dreams made you feel as if you could never defend yourself successfully while you were awake; your dreams made you feel weak and useless. Now, James found that all those feelings were accurate to life as well.
“All right,” he heard his mother reply, her voice sounding far off in the distance even though James knew she was right beside him. “We will use the fireplace in our bedroom.”
Ginny looked over to her shoulder as she shrugged out from beneath James. She glanced to Dominique. “You’ll look after Lily, won't you?” She asked, knowing the girl was nearly eighteen and had excelled exceptionally on her apparation final. “And maybe you could apparate home and notify the others, Dom, honey?”
Dominique nodded and left with a crack.
They flooed into the busy hospital, and once Ginny spoke to the receptionist, an assistant brought out a wheel chair for James to sit in. She relayed the events to the assistant, and they were escorted to the only floor that wasn't related to magical or creature injuries. The floor dedicated to physical or mental injuries or ailments was more normal than all the others and was fairly similar to that of a muggle hospital. There were no ridiculous wizarding objects on the wall but rather chairs outside hospital wards and surgery rooms.
James had only been in St. Mungo's three times before: the day of his birth, and the birth of his brother and sister. Of course, being too young to remember the place, he looked about in curiosity. There were no people running around with dirigible plums sprouting out of their heads or cases of werewolf bites. Instead, happy pregnant women strolled the halls as they left their check-ups, and others held illness that you couldn't see from the outside. This was where Healers who specialized in the same things as muggle doctors and surgeons worked.
They were led into a private ward, and Ginny was thankful for the quick entrance. During their short stroll there, she could already feel the eyes of the strangers on her and her son. James had kept his head down and his mouth quiet. Perhaps he hadn't wanted any attention drawn to them, or perhaps he had simply been too weak.
When they reached his ward, before the assistant led them in, Ginny turned to Albus, who had followed along silently after James had dropped into the wheel chair. “Al, honey, why don’t you wait out here until we’ve talked to the Healer?”
Al nodded and disappeared from view as they slipped into the ward. The assistant help James out of the wheel chair and onto the hospital bed.
“Your Healer will be with your shortly,” she said curtly before leaving them.
Once the door was shut, Ginny turned to him, where he was already slipping under the scratchy sheets as if it were his own bed. His eyes were shut as he maneuvered his body. Ginny approached and pushed back his hair. “I know you feel weak, but I need you to stay awake for a little while longer, okay?”
“Mum...?” he murmured in questioning, and Ginny wondered if he was even lucid. His voice was muffled, and her advice was quickly not needed. “Okay...” he gurgled before slipping into sleep.
Ginny groaned but sat next to him and ran her fingers through his long hair. She wrinkled her nose at his obscenely long hair and wished he would let her cut it. James was attached to his hair as if it were a person itself. He loved its color and volume, its uncooperative style, and he liked it long. So long that if he didn't pay attention, it shielded his eyes from view, and Ginny did not care for that. It brought back memories of when she saw Harry running around Hogwarts in the midst of the battle twenty-four years ago with his hair to his shoulders, lacking a haircut. And with the remembrance of that time, came all the bad, and those were things the world—as well as herself—was trying to move past.
She bit her nail and pulled the covers up to his neck, deciding that the Healer could get whatever they needed while James was asleep. James was exhausted from his seizure, and he deserved the sleep.
The door opened then with a small knock and a tall man in white robes entered the ward with a clipboard and parchment attached to it.
Ginny rose and shook his hand, listening to the man introduce himself. “Hello, Mrs. Potter. I'm Richard Eubank, and I'm going to be your son's Healer.”
“Nice to meet you.” She tried to smile, and when her hand retracted from his, she was immediately biting her thumb nail once more, glancing to her snoring son.
Richard Eubank was tall and tan with sleek blond hair and a narrow face. His jaw was sturdy and strong, his cheek bones high, and shoulders broad. Upon looking at him, Ginny believed he did not look like the kind of man who would have ended up being a Healer. Instead, he looked like he belonged out in the Auror field with Harry and Ron. As she inspected him more closely, she nearly believed she had seen him at Hogwarts. A Hufflepuff maybe. Maybe he had been in Fred and George's year.
“So, it seems young James has had a seizure,” said Richard as he glanced to his patient. He stifled a chuckle as he inspected him passed out on the bed. Ginny nodded again, wanting Richard to talk faster. “Yes, sleep. I’m afraid he will be spending the majority of his next few days sleeping and feeling very lethargic. A seizure will leave someone feeling very weak and lifeless. It's best that we let him sleep. Would you be able to tell me, Mrs. Potter, precisely how long the seizure lasted?”
Ginny rubbed her temples, trying to recall the image of her son thrashing on the floor. It wasn't something she ever wished to see again or wanted to remember, but she did it for the sake of him. She would have guessed that she had been near his side for maybe three minutes, but Dominique had been with him when it started. So, if she added perhaps a minute to allow time for James to begin seizing, Dominique to panic, and Ginny to make her way upstairs, she guessed four minutes. “Maybe four minutes.”
“Wow,” Healer Eubank whistled under his breath as he scribbled something down with a pen. His eyebrows rose with her answer as well, something Ginny did not like. What was that supposed to mean?
“And what were his actions like during the seizure?”
“Very abrupt. He was thrashing violently. His muscles—they looked very tense and stiff. Like he was flexing them,” she answered quickly, her voice laced with concern.
Mr. Eubank nodded and scribbled some more. “So, he had a tonic-clonic seizure.” Is there any other kind...? Ginny thought to herself and wished she had the opportunity to voice her thoughts, but the Healer continued to quickly ask questions. Ginny would have her chance to ask questions later. “Mrs. Potter, a tonic seizure can generally be triggered by fever, high or low blood sugar, a tumor, electrolyte imbalance, flashing lights, or drug withdrawal—to name a few. We have no record of his visits, other than birth, so it seems he has a healthy medical history. Would you be able to venture a guess as to the reason for his seizure? What was he doing before the seizure? Was he sick or running a fever? Were there any elements in the environment that could have triggered it?”
She stuttered. “N–No, I don’t think so. He had just finished up a game of Quidditch, but that is nothing out of the ordinary. He plays almost every day; he’s Quidditch Captain at Hogwarts. He was drinking water after the game; he wasn’t dehydrated. I–I don’t know what could have possibly triggered it.”
“Then, Mrs. Potter,” began Healer Eubank in a low and serious voice, his eyes analyzing her carefully, “I have to ask for the sake of covering all medical bases. Is it possible James here is suffering from a drug withdrawal?”
Ginny blanched. She felt her cheeks flush red, and she grit her teeth. Her retort started off with a yell, but she remembered to lower her voice as to not wake James. “No, he is not a bloody drug addict! As far as I'm concerned, he has never taken a single drug in his life.”
“Very well,” he answered, taking no mind to Ginny's outburst. “Forgive me if I offended you. It is customary that we do all we can to find the cause, and in most substance abuse cases, the parent rarely knows the child has been using. I’m sure you are not aware of everything he does in his spare—”
“My son is not a drug addict!”
“Okay,” nodded Healer Eubank, leaving it at that. “Moving on. It is very common for someone to undergo brain damage while seizing. There is no reason to worry as of now, but I need to take a look at his brain to look for trauma and permanent damage. I should also be able to diagnose if this will happen again.”
Ginny nodded. He pulled his wand out of his pocket and asked her kindly. “If you wouldn’t mind waiting in the hallway with your other son?”
She nodded without a word and ducked out of the room. Al looked up hopefully from the chair he sat in, but Ginny shook her head, a sign that she had no information to give him as of yet. Al looked back down to the ground, seeming defeated.
She dropped into the chair next to Al and felt her courageous posterior waiver in that moment. Now that she was sitting and the responsibility of caring for James was out of her hands and now in Healer Eubank’s, she felt as if she could be herself. Even though Albus was next to her, she didn’t have to be the brave and strong mother who had to care for her son. She could just be Ginny, and Ginny was scared.
At Healer Eubank’s mention of permanent brain damage, a fear had resonated in her that hadn’t been there. She had been fearing for his health and safety now in that very moment; she had even begun to think of what this meant for James in the future.
She took a deep breath and then knew what she had to do next. She fished the odd object that was a cell phone out of her pocket. The thing still fascinated and befuddled her to that very day. It was an object she didn't quite understand, and she hardly ever used it. When Harry had become an Auror and had to leave on occasion for field work, he had suggested getting cell phones so they could easily keep in touch. Ginny had known what a telephone was and understood the method from all the wires, but the cell phone was something else. There were no wires; how the hell did it work?
The only number programed into the phone that was too fancy for her was Harry's, but Harry's was full of other numbers—numbers like the home of the Dursleys and Dudley Dursley's cell number, as well as the number for the Auror Department, and Ginny couldn't even begin to guess what else. Harry had had to explain everything to her, and once she understood it, she found that Harry's thinking had actually been logical on the matter. It was a nice way to stay in touch while they were away from each other.
She pressed the only physical button on the cell phone to light up the screen and found the only number in her address book. Selecting the 'Call' button, she held the thing up to her ear and listened patiently to the dial tone before her husband's voice filled her ears. “Ginny,” his low voice beamed with happiness.
“Hey, Harry,” Ginny replied. She noticed Al perk up from beside her as he realized she was talking to his father.
Before she would drop the news on him, she basked in the pleasure of hearing his voice for the first time in a week. She sighed heavily, closing her eyes. She was quiet for a moment, only thinking about when he would return home.
“What's wrong?” His voice changed to that of worry and confusion. He knew her all too well; Ginny assumed that from her very first word Harry had been able to pick up that something was the matter.
“A–Are you busy?”
“Never busy enough for you. Tell me what's wrong,” he urged in a worried fashion. Hearing his voice through the little speaker on the phone always bewildered her. As much as he sounded like himself, he also sounded so different on the phone. But Harry's voice had changed anyway over the past twenty years. He had finished growing up after the battle, growing a few inches in height and in build, and his voice had dropped lower. When they were in the right of circumstances, Ginny found that his voice held the capability to send goosebumps down her entire body.
“I'm at St. Mungo's—”
“What's happened?! Is everyone all right?!” His voice was suddenly anxious and on-edge. He had cut her off before she even had time to explain.
She calmed him whilst rubbing her temples, shutting her eyes from the pristine hallway. She felt herself begin to break as she had to tell him. “We're not sure. Jamie had a seizure, Harry. As soon as it ended, I brought him here. From what I can tell, he looks like he will be okay. B–But, the Healer is checking for brain damage. I–It came out of nowhere, Harry. I had no idea what to do.”
“Shh, it's all right,” soothed Harry. His voice was shaking as she relayed the events to him, and she knew he was doing his best to be her stronghold even though he was struggling all the while. “We will get to the bottom of this. Do you know what caused the seizure?”
“No, I couldn't even begin to guess. Dominique was with him when it happened, and I haven't gotten a chance to talk to her. The Healer suggested a variety of things; things like a fever, high or low blood pressure, or electrolyte imbalance. Even a drug withdrawal. I told him there was no way in hell it was from a drug withdrawal.”
“Of course,” muttered Harry. “Our son isn't a drug addict.”
“That’s what I said! But Healer Eubank—”
“It's all right, Gin,” encouraged Harry. “Everything will be fine, I'm sure. It was probably just a one time thing.”
“I hope you're right,” she admitted painfully.
“I love you,” whispered Harry after many moments. Ginny muttered her love back, and then Harry's next words surprised her and also sent her mind swimming into a paranoid fit. She realized just how badly their son's situation was if it meant Harry was abandoning his three-week mission. “I will be there in two minutes.”
A/N: Edited 8.21 for medical accuracy and accuracy for sequel.
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