Chapter 17 : Of Get-Well Gifts and Generalities
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Alcyone hummed softly to herself as she rearranged the items on her bedside cabinet. It was eight o’ clock on a Saturday morning – nobody else was up just yet. Finishing, she went to the bathroom and washed, sticking a loose piece of hair from her bun back behind her ear.
“Alcyone?” Lily sounded sleepy and when Alcyone turned, she saw that her friend was still in bed, eyes closed.
“I’m heading down now Lil,” she told her quietly, picking something up from her bed. “I’ll be back up soon.”
Lily barely nodded and Alcyone smiled, pulling the door of the dormitory shut.
Picking up two muffins and a bit of toast in the Great Hall, she made her way to the Hospital Wing. The week after Hogsmeade, a spat of colds had cropped up among the students, keeping Madam Pomfrey extremely busy, and Sirius had been among those that fell ill with a particularly nasty version, one that required several doses of potion.
She quirked an eyebrow, placing the bouquet of yellow daffodils she was carrying in the vase by his bed.
“Madam Pomfrey hasn’t let you out yet?”
“She’s like a hawk,” he grimaced. “Won’t let me even go to the bathroom alone…thinks I might try to run for it. Mind you,” he added darkly as she burst into giggles. “It’s not like I wouldn’t try if I could.”
He glanced over at the flowers and winced.
“I appreciate the thought…but daffodils, Alcyone? I thought you knew me better.”
“I do. Touch them.”
When he gave her an odd look she rolled her eyes.
“Go on…I promise they won’t bite.”
Tentatively, Sirius reached out and prodded one.
He jumped back. The flower, whose petals had been closed, had suddenly opened like a Venus Flytrap.
“What is that?” he gasped, looking at Alcyone.
She smiled and motioned for him to look back at the vase, pointing to the petals which were forming into a sort of mouth.
“What is it?” he asked again shakily.
If daffodils could frown reprovingly like Professor McGonagall, Sirius would have sworn that the flower did so.
“Patience is a virtue,” it announced to the room.
Sirius was fast recovering his cool.
“When your need is dire, and your brains have deserted you-”
“When will my brains ever desert me?” Sirius asked suspiciously.
“Trust in your courage, for there is your strength”, it proclaimed, ignoring his interruption.
Sirius gaped, open-mouthed, first at the innocent-looking flower, which had closed its petals back up, and then at Alcyone who rocked back and forth on the chair, convulsed in silent giggles.
“What the hell was that?”
She fought to control herself.
“It’s a “Quick-Quotes Daffodil”, from Hogsmeade.You know,” she added seeing his blank look. “Every time you touch it, you get a wise old saying. I thought you could do with it.”
“The thing about brains deserting me wasn’t either wise or old,” Sirius said firmly.
She waved her hand as if she was batting his objection aside.
“Of course it was…anyway, they’re a new breed in the village – charmed flowers. I heard that Professor Sprout bought some honking daffodils for the greenhouses, I’ll bring you a couple of those next visit, if I can.”
“That’s all right,” he said quickly. “No need to go to all that bother.”
“It isn’t at all!” she insisted, eyes bright with amusement. “Besides…I’m sure you could do with some entertainment cooped up here?”
Alcyone looked at the daffodil, which gave her a sanctimonious little nod before getting up to go.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she smiled, and left.
Behind her, a very disgruntled boy let out a groan, the knowledge that he’d been worsted doing nothing to improve his mood.
“…and so, I have here a general outline of topics covered on your N.E.W.Ts,” Professor McGonagall announced crisply, as the class waited restlessly to leave. “The experience will be something like your O.W.Ls…you know now what to expect. I trust you are all revising hard – my schedule is posted on the door of my office if you want to meet with me outside of class.”
The bell rang and students flooded the hallway, heading towards the Great Hall for lunch.
“I can’t believe that exams are in just five weeks,” Lily sighed. “After that, it’s graduation…no more Hogwarts.”
“I know,” Dorcas groaned. “But right now, I’m more concerned with passing the Transfiguration N.E.W.T. All those theories and notes…it’s going to be impossible.”
“I’m not so worried,” Remus swung his bag over his shoulder. “From what McGonagall said, I think it’ll be more general, so if we memorize the big things we ought to be alright. Actually, we were thinking of having a couple practice sessions for the practical sections as a group sometime next week. D’you want to come?”
“That’s a good idea,” Alcyone said thoughtfully. “We could do the same thing with Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms.”
“Does Sirius know?” Aella asked. “He’ll probably want to join too.”
Remus nodded. “He actually came up with the idea, but I think he’s still pretty sick, so we’ll hold off on it until he’s better. He said you dropped by earlier, Alcyone, and left him some rather special flowers.” He grinned. “They’re the best gift he’s had in a long time.”
“I’m glad he likes it,” she replied demurely, smiling a little. “I did try to pick something nice out.”
Remus snorted as he dropped into a seat next to James.
“What do we have after lunch?” Lily asked.
“Charms, I think,” Alcyone consulted her schedule. “Yeah, that’s it, with Divination right after.”
“That subject’s a load of rubbish,” James helped himself to another serving of treacle tart. “I’ll never get why you took it.”
“Because it’s good to get a thorough understanding of all branches of magic,” Lily rolled her eyes. “How many times have I explained this again?”
“Not enough?” James asked cheekily, and Lily poked him with her butter knife.
Alcyone watched with a smile, and then, checking her watch, left the Hall.
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