Chapter 3 : Epileptic
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Albus - Brant Daughtery
Lily II - Emma Stone
Dominique - Amy Adams
When James awoke, he found that his eyes did not want to see the light. It was so bright it was nearly painful. As he lifted a hand to shield his eyes, he found himself even weaker than he had been upon falling asleep. He grunted and did his best to sit up. He was unsuccessful, as he only pulled himself up an inch or so. He felt his eyes dilate as he slowly opened them to the light, the whiteness of the walls and furniture only intensifying with the brightness.
Before he could take in anything else, he saw a mass of black hair. His eyes drifted shut, his head lolling back and forth, as he slurred. “Al...?”
James did his best to open his eyes, and he focused on the person in the white chair. He was slouched over, as if trying to refrain from entering sleep, and he jumped at the sound of his voice. But as soon as the man raised his head, James knew better than to believe it was Albus.
It was his father.
James tried to smile, beaming on the inside at seeing his father again. “Dad.”
“Jamie,” Harry's voice expressed his worry and love as he rose and approached the bed. The bed dipped with his weight as Harry sat next to him.
With Harry next to him, James was better able to focus his vision and take in his appearance. His hair was its usual mess, but his eyes were dark and sunken, the sign he held when he lacked sleep. He wore casual clothing and appeared fine and unbeaten in every way besides his lack of sleep. James wrinkled his nose at his father's appearance. “What's wrong? Are you okay?”
Harry actually chuckled. “You had a seizure and you’re lying in a hospital bed, and you ask what’s wrong with me?”
James tried to smile.
“It's nothing, though. A story for another time,” said Harry as he dismissed his beaten posterior, and he embraced his son's hand. He knew James wasn't fond of physical affection from his father, but Harry believed he could suck it up just this once and take it. He squeezed his hand, and Harry was surprised to feel a weak squeeze in return.
James looked up to his father's face and found his eyes already upon his. His green eyes were searching for the meaning behind all of this; James knew that much. The years had been kind to Harry with his young skin, narrow jaw, and still pitch black hair. Harry was thankful that at forty-one he had yet to begin graying at the roots, unlike Ron who had small specks of it but refused to admit it. Harry also always kept himself well-shaved, but he had a small amount of stubble growing from his cheeks.
“You left your mission? You came home?” James pondered.
“Of course I did.”
“But I thought—”
“You,” Harry emphasized, “are more important. I had to see what was going on, and I may not return to the field. I was due home in a week’s time, but now I may stay home with you.”
“Now?” asked James as if the word had a special importance. And he realized it did. Harry hadn't noticed that he had already let it slip that he would be staying home because of James’ condition. “Why now? T–There's nothing wrong with me. It was just a freak accident.”
Even as he said, it he didn't know who he was trying to convince. Clearly his father knew something he didn't.
Harry sighed and looked to his lap, rubbing his stubble with his free hand. James didn't like that. His eyes bulged, and he pried his hand from his father's, correcting Harry in a crude yet painful voice. “There's nothing w–wrong with me. Everything's fine. I’m fine.”
“Jamie,” Harry sighed his beginning, and James already felt himself tear in half at that voice. What did his dad have to tell him?
James felt his body stiffen, and he clenched his bed sheets in his hands as he braced himself for the worst.
“Healer Eubank took a brain scan. It's common to undergo brain damage after a seizure. Thankfully, you had very little from your first seizure, but when you seized, it did trigger something. The way he described it—how to put it?—it activated or damaged a part of your brain in a way that is going to make seizures...quite common for you.”
“What?!” blurted James.
Harry shushed him and continued. “He's diagnosed you with epilepsy. You had an intense seizure at home, apparently. Healer Eubank says they won't all be like that, but some will be worse. The reason as to why you seized is still unknown. Your mind was clearly thinking hard on something or undergoing a great change, he said.”
James said nothing for many moments as he took it all in. Epileptic? Him? Why him? Why not perfect little Albus? James groaned even as he tried to embrace this part of him that he wouldn’t be able to change. He murmured. “But it wasn't doing any of those things. I was just playing Quidditch.”
“We can't know for sure, Jamie. I'm sorry,” whispered Harry. “Things are going to be a little different for a while.”
“You think?!" spat James furiously as he was met with his usual rage that came when he was upset. “I mean, what the fuck? I'm epileptic?”
“James,” Harry pressed in a hard tone at his son's word choice. He knew it was hypocritical of him to reprimand his son for such words in front of him while he knew he had cursed like that at his age in his anger.
“Oh, leave me alone!” he retorted once more. “I'm bloody seventeen and just found out I’m epileptic; cut me some slack.”
Harry gave a heavy sigh and turned briefly away from his son to gather himself and run his hand through his hair. James huffed in annoyance.
“Fine,” muttered Harry in agreement. He knew James was right; now wasn’t the time to try to discipline James for language. He deserved a little leeway, but even now, it was not acceptable for him to backtalk to his father. “But you watch your mouth when speaking to me. And your mother. I get that you’re in pain, but show a little respect. Or maybe I’ll just go back to the field in see you in a week?”
They both knew that Harry’s threat was empty, but still the thought seemed unbearable to James. It meant so much to him that Harry was missing his mission to be by his side when Harry so rarely even took a day off of work.
So James nodded in defeat. He etched down into the comfort of the bed. The sheets were scratchy against his legs as he pulled them up higher.
They said nothing more before Healer Eubank slipped into the room with his clipboard of charts and notes. Ginny entered shortly after Healer Eubank. The Healer flashed a smile to James, and for the first time, James was able to look up at the man who had taken care of him all afternoon. Harry stood and backed away from the bed to allow Healer Eubank and James to have the conversation that needed to be had. Ginny went to stand next to her husband, and their arms went around each other.
James lifted his hand to shake the Healer’s.
Healer Eubank got right down to business. “Well, Mr. Potter, I'm afraid I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?”
“Bad,” said James without hesitation.
The corners of Healer Eubank’s lips twitched with a smile. “Very well. The bad is that your seizure was so powerful that it triggered something in your brain, which has caused you to now be epileptic. The other bad news is that I was unable to locate the reason as to why you had a seizure in the first place. I ran a full body scan and some bloodwork, and found no possible triggers. Were you thinking hard about something?”
“No, not really,” James admitted in all honesty. He had only been focusing on Albus and his lost Quidditch match, which now seemed like ages ago. Sure, he had been irritated about it, but there was no way that had been the cause of it. “There’s nothing.”
“Hmm. Well, we will continue to look into it. Seizures will be fairly common for you now. The good news is that not all of them will be this bad, and the other good news is that we have some pills and potions you can take to lessen the effects of your seizures. There is a pill I would like for you to take once daily in the morning after you wake up. This pill will help control the strength of your seizures. A seizure cannot be predicted, nor can it be stopped. We can only lessen its effects. You may either swallow the pill whole like the muggles do, or you may mash it up into your drink with breakfast; unfortunately, its taste isn’t too pleasant, so you may choose to mask its taste with juice or something to that effect. Either way, it is up to you, but this pill will help you. The other I'm going to give you is an elixir I want you to take after each seizure. It should prevent most of the side effects of seizures such as lethargy, minor tremors, and headaches. I want you to take a sip of it almost immediately after a seizure and also take one sip a day for the next two days after each seizure. Do you understand?”
James only nodded. It was a lot to take in, but he knew he could remember it. He also knew his instructions would be imprinted on the labels of his medications he would receive. It was odd to listen to the Healer speak to him in such a way. James had never had any medical issues or any reason to take daily medications. Now, he knew he had at least one pill to take daily that he would have to take for the rest of his life.
“I'm going to give you two vials of the elixir; each bottle has approximately twenty sips, and I'm going to give you a bottle of fifty pills. When you are about to run out of your pills, all you need to do is simply owl me, and I will send you the next fifty. Are we clear?”
James looked to his lap again and nodded. “What's the taste like? Of the elixir.”
Richard's long nose wrinkled as he thought. "It reminds me oddly of a pineapple Bertie Bott's Bean. Not too terrible. Something else I would like for you to do is let me know each time you’ve had a seizure. I will ask you to rate them on a scale of one to ten in terms of pain and bodily reaction. I also would like for you to inform your family and close friends of your condition; tell them what I have told you and help them know how to react if you are to have one around them. They need to remove anything you could potentially harm yourself with from your vicinity, and they should turn you onto your side if at all possible. Lying on your side will help prevent you from choking on saliva, your tongue, or—potentially—vomit.”
“Lovely…” sighed James with a heavy exhale.
“It’s not pretty business,” affirmed Healer Eubank. “Now, how would you rate today’s seizure?”
James shrugged. How was he to begin rating them? It wasn't like he had ever experienced a seizure before or anything similar. He could only remember the pain, feeling hopeless, looking through eyes he hadn’t been able to close. He had felt useless and vulnerable, but most of all, he had endured great pain. James murmured, “Seven, maybe. Eight? I’m not sure.”
“All right. You don't need to come by after each one, only if you have had a fairly traumatic one. If that were to happen, simply tell the receptionist who you are and that you need to see Richard Eubank. Your diagnosis is my number one priority now, James.”
James looked up to his Healer. He asked him in an embarrassing manner. “Do you have other clients like me?”
Richard sighed, pulling his clipboard in thought. He actually ran his hands through his cropped brown hair and looked to James, now speaking to the young man in more friendly terms. “Healer Collingswood and I are the Healers for the epilepsy department, as well as for the departments of many other physical and/or neurologic conditions. We both have many cases and see various conditions and diagnoses, but in all honesty, James, no. None of my clients have a diagnosis like yours.”
“Why is mine different?”
“You want my honest opinion, Mr. Potter?” asked Healer Eubank with a quirk of the eyebrow.
James only then realized that there was more to the matter that hadn't been shared, a side to which Healer Eubank would have thought unprofessional to share. James nodded, not knowing whether he did want to hear his opinion or not.
Richard then sat down on the bed beside him. “I think your brain is undergoing a difficult change. I'm not sure what it is, but something triggered your seizure. Someone just doesn’t become epileptic without a medical examination revealing the cause. Medically speaking, you had no cause. If you aren’t aware of this change in your brain and we can’t medically see it, then it has to be a change in the state of mind, something you would be unaware of. I think something new and powerful is developing within your mind.”
“What the hell could that be?” murmured James in wonder.
"That I don’t know. This is just my theory. It could be many things; we can't be sure until it has finished developing, though. Did you know that myth believes Merlin himself became epileptic shortly before he became capable of using wandless magic? Who knows what the possibilities are.”
Richard rose with a pat to his knee and a small smile. “Now, if you don’t have any more questions, then the assistant who helped you to your ward will be here shortly to give you your prescriptions and your release form. I hope the next time we meet is under better circumstances, James.”
“Me too, Healer Eubank. Thanks,” answered James with a sincere smile.
Then Healer Eubank left with a smile to James and a kind wave to Harry and Ginny, who had stood in silence, listening in fascination as they too tried to understand their son’s new condition.
Before Harry and Ginny could even approach him or say something after Healer Eubank’s exit, the assistant, a petite little thing who was obviously perfecting all of her actions in hopes of a promotion, was quick to square away all matters of James' prescriptions and his release forms. He took a quick swig of the elixir and found that Healer Eubank had been right. It tasted like a mixture of the Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, but the taste of pineapple stood out the most.
He could immediately feel the liquid beginning to have an effect on him. He had more energy to simply hold his head up; he felt his tongue beginning to not feel like a lump of cotton in his mouth anymore. When he was certain he had gathered his bearings, the assistant helped him back into the wheelchair and pushed him from the ward. In the hall, Albus rose from where he had patiently waited. Together they made their way to the entrance of the hospital.
When they reached the check-out desk and the apparation boundaries, Harry turned to Ginny and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I’m going to go take care of the bill. Meet you at home?”
Ginny nodded as the assistant helped James to his feet, and she turned to help him as well. “Do you feel well enough to apparate?”
James nodded, feeling well enough to handle it. “I can manage side-along. Let’s give it a go.”
This assistant dismissed herself, taking the wheelchair with her. When James felt steady enough on his feet, he and Albus took their mother’s arm. Then, he felt that familiar pull in his naval.
They popped onto the front porch of their home in Godric's Hollow. The Potter house was one of the houses of which you couldn't apparate directly into; you could disapparate out of it, but not into it. His parents had tried it for a few years, but with the random visits from Weasleys when they would so often drop by to clown around, Harry and Ginny had chosen to make the inside of their home unapparatable.
Ginny and Al helped him into his house. They moved slowly through the entry way, where pictures of his parents' wedding and the progression of him and his siblings from infants to the age they currently were lined the walls. When they came to the living room, Lily and Dominique jumped up from where they sat and anxiously rushed to James. They wasted no time in hugging him and bombarding him with questions.
Unable to find the energy to answer or fend them off, he just weakly shook his head. He was grateful when Ginny spoke up for him. “That’s enough, girls. Give him some space. Wait down here for a few minutes while we get him settled into bed.”
They were reluctant but obliged nonetheless.
It took some time, but eventually James made it up to his bedroom with the help of his mother and brother. They walked him up the stairs and to his room, where Ginny pulled back the covers for him just moments before James collapsed onto his bed. He hadn’t even kicked off his shoes before trying to pull up the covers, but Ginny snatched his feet and yanked off his shoes before he could do so.
James muttered his thanks, his eyes already drifting shut. Al backed away and slipped out of the room without a word, and Ginny placed his pills and elixir on his nightstand for him. She sat down on his bed next to him and ran her fingers through his hair.
“Stay in bed as long as you like, sweetie,” she cooed. Now that her panic had faded, it was replaced only with pity and worry for her son. Now that she wasn’t as frightened as she had been, she felt her calm and collected posterior return and she felt as if she could care for her son as a mother should again. In fact, she didn’t even remember the last time he was sick. It had been so long since her eldest had needed her help in such a way, so she found that she relished being able to sit next to him and baby him as much as possible.
“Thanks, Mum,” whispered James, eternally grateful.
“You’re welcome, Jamie,” she said, and she leaned forward to kiss his forehead. “I’ll be downstairs. Holler if you need anything. Shall I send up Dominique?”
James managed a smile. “Yes, please.”
Ginny nodded at left him.
He laid there for a few minutes, doing his best to fight off sleep, but he was relieved when he heard Dominique’s swift footsteps on his wooden floor and then felt his bed dip with her weight. She climbed onto the bed next to him and laid beside him.
James opened one eye to peek at her, and then the other. He found her lying closely next to him on her side and looking at him in worry.
“So, I’m epileptic,” he managed to explain. “Don’t know how, don’t know why. But I am.”
“I–I’m so sorry, Jamie,” she whispered.
Then that was the end of that. He said no more, and she didn’t ask. That was what he loved about Dominique. She always knew what he needed and when, and she could clearly tell that, in that moment, he needed rest and time to gather his thoughts. They could talk more in-depth about what this meant for him at a later date.
He was grateful for their silence. He knew everyone else would ask him endless questions about what this all meant, but James didn’t even know himself. He was nearly too lethargic to think about all of it, but it was there in the back of his mind. His thoughts were frantic and flustered even if his body couldn’t show it.
What did this mean for him and Hogwarts? What did it mean for him and Quidditch? Would he still be able to play, or would he have to give up his spot on the team for risk of falling off his broom in a seizure while mid-Quidditch match? More importantly, why had this happened? What was developing inside him that Healer Eubank was so convinced about?
He didn’t know what any of it meant for him and his future, but as Dominique reached out and took his hand, he forced those thoughts aside. He could begin to figure it out tomorrow, for all he needed right now was his best friend’s reassurance that it would all be okay.
A/N: Edited 8.21 for medical accuracy and accuracy for sequel
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