Chapter Nine - Disaster “Good Morning! This is Romilda Vane on the WWW Breakfast Show! It’s a beautiful Monday morning, it’s eight thirty and the sun is shining…”
“Aidan, eat your breakfast,” I snap for the sixth time as I rush around the kitchen, late for work. He’s just stirring his soggy cornflakes around in the bowl, head on hand, sulking. He throws the spoon down, sighs and folds his arms. “Don’t make me force feed you,” I warn him.
“I don’t want it,” he complains, “It’s manky.”
“...coming up for you this morning, but first we go to Bobby Rawls for the News and Weather...”
“Stop being such a spoilt little brat!” I yell, “Eat your breakfast!”
I slam the Daily Prophet down on the table and glare at him in the most threatening way possible. “I mean it. EAT!”
“I hate you!” he cries dramatically.
“Am I bothered? No, so eat your bloody breakfast! I’ve had enough of your attitude!” I yell. He picks up the spoon and starts grudgingly shovelling his cereal into his mouth, purposely allowing the milk to dribble down onto his school uniform. “Don’t do that,” I warn him, wiping his face and cleaning his jumper with my wand, “It’s disgusting.”
“I don’t care,” he says, “I like being disgusting.”
“Well nobody else likes it!” I snap, “You won’t be disgusting as long as you’re under my roof.” Urgh – I’m an ‘under my roof’ parent. It’s not really the type of parent one aspires to be, but kids really do drive you to do awful things.
“Then I don’t want to live under your roof!” The typical reply. I’ve been known to give it myself.
“Fine, get your own place!” I challenge him. Aidan folds his arms and refuses to eat another bite of his breakfast, so I whip away his bowl.
“I’ll just go live with Dad and Daisy!” he cries.
“Fine,” I say, “Shall I tell your dad how bratty you’ve been over the last few days? Hmm? Should I tell him how you broke the radio? Or should I tell him about the rude word you used yesterday?” Oh yes, Mum can play dirty too. If there’s one person he’s afraid of, it’s Scorpius. Not that Scorpius ever really gets mad with him. I just threaten that Scorpius has this secret inner anger that explodes whenever Aidan uses a swear word, or if he won’t go to bed on time. In reality, Scorpius wouldn’t be bothered if I told him that Aidan broke the radio on purpose when he found out that I’ve befriended his teacher. Yes, that is what his behaviour stems back to. Apparently it’s a child’s worst nightmare to have your mother become friends with your teacher. Neville Longbottom was my teacher for years at Hogwarts and I never found it strange that he’s one of my parents’ best friends. When Aidan discovered ‘Mr McDonald’ in the flat, having just been dropped off by Mum, he threw a complete wobbly and Brian had to leave to escape the screeching.
“I don’t care!” Aidan bluffs.
“...there’s been a massive explosion at Zaria’s Wand Emporium. Three people have died with dozens more injured...”
“You’re the worst Mum ever –”
“Shh!” I demand and turn up the radio.
“The explosion happened just ten minutes ago at the Wand Emporium in Diagon Alley. Thirty people have been rushed to St Mungo’s Hospital, with at least another ten still trapped inside the rubble. The explosion is being treated as an accident and is said to have originated in the wand-testing room on the third floor. Again, for listeners just tuning in, there has been a massive explosion at Zaria’s Wand Emporium of Diagon Alley...”
“C’mon, get your bag,” I tell Aidan, “Work’s going to be hectic today, I don’t have time to listen to your whinging.”
I wasn’t wrong about work being hectic. As soon as I step through the door, it’s complete pandemonium. Patients are being rushed here and there on stretchers, while Healers are running around like headless chickens. The so called walking-wounded are sitting on plastic chairs, waiting to be seen. It seems like there are a lot more than thirty people injured.
“Rose, thank Merlin,” Gladys gasps as soon as she sees me, “Have you heard?”
“Yes, I heard on the radio,” I tell her, looking around. There’s a woman with one leg, screeching in pain on a stretcher. “I didn’t think it was as bad as all this –”
“It’s worse,” she says, “The wands are still going off. There’s been another explosion just a few minutes ago. Apparently it hit the Apothecary.” This isn’t good. I can’t even imagine the amount of damage an uncontrolled spell could do in the Apothecary. Heaven knows how many explosive potions they have in there. “The Ministry have sent Aurors and everything to see if the wands were tampered with, but it looks like some fool just didn’t take enough care designing the blasted things. There’s been a few different buildings hit. Anyway,” she shakes herself, “You’re needed on the fourth floor.”
“Me?” I ask, confused. I can’t imagine what use I’ll be in a crisis. Excuse me, may I file your severed leg?
“Yes, it’s all hands on deck today,” says Gladys, “Linda’s helping out with the burn victims and Hazel’s trying to contact families.”
I rush up to the fourth floor, the Spell Damage ward. It’s absolute chaos. There aren’t nearly enough beds for everyone. There are blankets laid out on the floor and those with the least amount of injuries are on them. Nobody takes any notice of me, so I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.
“Excuse me, could you help me with something?” some asks, grabbing my shoulder. I spin around, to find myself face-to-face with Healer Kennedy. What I’d give to trade places with that nose-less man in bed three right now.
“Eh, yes, of course,” I splutter, still completely embarrassed to be in the presence of the man who heard me talk about his arse in such a lustful way. I follow him down to the bed closest to the window. There is a woman, clutching her stomach and groaning in pain. Her face is covered in blood, and there is a deep gash running down her arm.
“What’s your name?” Healer Kennedy asks me. I’d feel taken aback that he doesn’t know my name after two years if there wasn’t a crisis going on.
“Rose Weasley, Sir,” I tell him.
“Call me Damien,” he says, “Rose, this is Helen,” he nods at the woman, “Now, when I count to three, she’s going to take her hands off her stomach and you’re going to put yours there instead, alright?”
“M-me?” I ask, “You do realise I’m just a receptionist, don’t you?”
“Rose, look at me,” he says firmly. I look into his eyes. This really isn’t helping. “You can do this. I’ll talk you through everything, alright?”
“B-but, can’t you just use magic –”
“No, I need a pair of hands for this. There are things magic can’t do, and I need you to apply the right amount of pressure. Right, on the count of three Helen you’re going to lift up your arms.”
I brace myself.
Deep breath, Rose. You can do this.
It’s just a bit of blood.
Without even thinking, I place my hands down onto the wound. I don’t even have time to look at it. I apply enough pressure to stop the blood from flowing, but not too much. I don’t want to hurt her any more than I have to.
“Brilliant,” Damien smiles at me, immediately calming me. He proceeds to heal up the cuts on her face and arms before turning to the more serious injury I have my hands over. She was hit by some unknown spell, making the wound hard to heal. After about ten minutes, Damien has managed to stop the bleeding and reduce the wound to a semi-serious cut. He gives her a douse of Pain-relief potion and leaves her. “Right, Rose, follow me.”
For the next few hours, I’m Healer Kennedy’s own personal assistant. After getting over the initial shock of the sight of blood, I’m quite a good little helper. I hold bandages, fetch potions, calm patients and soothe relatives. Even though I’m well aware of the horror of what’s happening, I can’t help enjoying the adrenaline rush. I’ve never had so much satisfaction at work before. There’s only so much enjoyment you get from filing charts and writing letters. Today I’m actually helping people to save lives. Today I’m actually making a difference in the world. Still, I can’t help but shudder every time I see someone pull white blankets over dead bodies. I know people die every day in this hospital, but I never actually saw it happen.
Nearing lunchtime, as I’m rushing down the fourth floor corridor after Healer Kennedy, he is called into the Potion-brewing laboratory by Healer Wharton, the Chief-of-Medicine. He signals for me to follow him in, and I do so. I love the smell of the Potions Lab. It reminds me of the Potions dungeons at Hogwarts. Healer Evil O’Satan McBitchface is in there too and gives me a horribly dirty look, as if wondering what on earth I’m doing up on the fourth floor. She doesn’t say anything, however.
“Damien, this Fracture Relief Potion isn’t working,” says Wharton, “We have no idea what’s going wrong!” This must be serious if even the Chief of Medicine can’t figure out what’s going on. And a Fracture Relief Potion – they must brew that every single day. Healer Kennedy takes a vial of the Potion and studies it.
“Shouldn’t it be a lighter blue colour than that?” I ask.
“Yes,” Evil O’Satan snaps, “We are aware of that.”
I remain quiet as the three Healers try to figure out what went wrong. Evil O’Satan suggests that it could be something to do with the Rat Tails, while Wharton thinks that they did not brew it long enough. Damien thinks that neither of those solutions would explain why it’s the wrong colour. If it were a problem with the Rat Tails, it would be too thick and if it wasn’t brewed long enough then it wouldn’t have turned blue at all, but would have remained purple. So they decide to re-brew a fresh batch. Evil O’Satan takes it upon herself to do the work, while the rest of us look on. When she has all the ingredients added, she allows it to boil for five minutes, as is standard protocol when making a Fracture Relief Potion.
“Now, it’s turned blue,” says Damien, “So we know it’s been brewed long enough.”
“And it’s just the right consistency,” Wharton agrees.
“But it’s still not sky blue,” says Evil O’Satan, “What a nice time Herbie McGuff chose to go on holiday!” Herbie McGuff is the Potioneer. Most of the Healers here haven’t brewed a potion since their training days. It’s up to old Herbie to do all the work.
“Why not try a clockwise stir?” I suggest, recalling a story my dad once told me of the so-called ‘Half-Blood Prince’, who added all sorts of off the beaten track suggestions to potion making. They usually worked out for the better.
“Because anyone with more than one brain cell knows that you’re supposed to stir it counter-clockwise!” Evil O’Satan spits at me.
“Yes, how’s that working out for you?” I ask, perhaps a little more cheekily than I should, “Just let me give it a go.”
“I don’t think so!” she snorts, “You’re a receptionist, you wouldn’t know anything about Potions!”
“Bonnie, let her have a go,” Damien says to her, “It’s not like you have any other suggestions.”
Oh why does he have to be married? Why does everyone have to be married?
She grudgingly hands me the long wooden spoon and stands back to watch me make a fool of myself. I begin to stir it counter-clockwise, then after three stirs, I add in a clockwise one. I don’t know why. I have absolutely no logic to back this up. I try it again, three and then one. It starts to look a little bit lighter. I do it again. And again. And finally it turns a sky blue colour. It could now be poison, but at least it’s the right colour.
“Wow, Rose, how did you know how to do that?” Damien asks, impressed. I impressed him.
“I...really don’t know. I suppose twenty-two years of going against the norm has to pay off at some stage,” I shrug and Damien smiles. They test the potion and find that it works. Thank you, Severus Snape.
By six o’clock, every patient has been seen to and I return to my regular post at the receptionists’ desk. Thankfully today is Scorpius’s day to pick up Aidan from school, so I don’t have to worry about getting him his dinner. Linda, Gladys and Hazel are already there by the time I return, each of them looking as exhausted as I feel.
“That Healer Ryan is the Antichrist,” Linda moans, “I’ve never done so much running in my life.”
“Well at least you didn’t have to tell seventeen different people that their loved ones died,” says Hazel miserably.
“I was stuck with a bunch of people hit with vomiting spells!” Gladys cries.
“I was working with Healer Kennedy,” I grin. They all shoot me very vicious looks. I don’t speak again for the rest of the day.
It’s almost midnight by the time I finally arrive home. Ollie isn’t here. I presume Scorpius took her to his place. Now we have shared custody of the bloody dog. There are several messages on my phone.
“Rose, it’s Mum. We’ve just heard about the explosion in Diagon Alley. Was work busy today? Ring me back!”
“Hi Rose, it’s Scorpius. I’ve taken Aidan and Ollie to mine. They can stay the night, I’ll drop him to school in the morning. Oh, by the way, Daisy wants to talk to you about something. I’m not sure what it is. See ya.”
“Red, have you seen my broomstick-shaped toilet brush? It was here before the party, but I can’t seem to find it! Ring me back! Oh, it’s James by the way...”
I don’t bother listening to the rest. What on earth could Daisy want to talk to me about? Has she heard about the drunken proclamation of love I made to Scorpius? I don’t see why that would bother her. It doesn’t even bother him. He hasn’t mentioned it since, and it’s been over a week. I can’t think about this now. Twelve people died today before my eyes. I feel like such a wimp, letting it get to me like this. How many people did my own parents, my aunts, my uncles or my grandparents see die? And they were people they knew, not just random passers-by who have nothing to do with me.
I crawl into bed, the faces of the twelve dead still in my mind. I toss and turn, but I can’t sleep. I pick up the phone and dial Scorpius’s number, not really thinking about what I’m doing. It’s nearly one in the morning. Daisy could pick up. I’ll wake Aidan. And yet I’m still letting it ring. I can’t exactly ring Brian, considering he doesn’t even know I’m a witch. I’d have a hard time explaining where and how the twelve people died.
“’Lo?” a very groggy voice growls. It’s definitely Scorpius. Or Daisy’s a werewolf.
“H-hi,” I say, my voice shaking. I’ve been crying and I can’t disguise it. Shit, this was a bad idea.
Yeah, that’s really not the response I was looking for.
“No, you Muppet,” I hiss, “It’s me.”
“It’s one in the morning,” he says tiredly.
“I can’t sleep,” I tell him.
“Try a hot Firewhiskey,” he suggests and I hear him roll over in bed. Then I hear Daisy ask who’s on the phone. I start to panic – she’s going to kill me. She knows I’m in love with her husband. “It’s just my Mum,” Scorpius covers up. I then hear him get up. “Right, what’s wrong?” he says clearly. He’s obviously not in the bedroom anymore.
“I...” I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to sound pathetic. “Nothing. Go back to bed.”
I hang up. Well, that was a stupid idea. What did I think was going to happen? Did I really think he’d want to talk to me this late at night? Scorpius likes his sleep more than anyone I know. It’s not like he’d leave his warm bed, his loving wife, to listen to me go on about how bad a day I’ve had. I just continue to stare at the ceiling, hoping that I’ll fall asleep eventually.
Five minutes later, however, there’s a knock on the front door. I grab my wand, thinking up all the necessary spells in my head to get rid of an intruder as I creep down the hall to the door. I look out the spy-hole – I don’t believe it.
“What are you doing here?” I ask as I open the door.
“You sounded upset,” Scorpius shrugs, walking past me. He’s dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of socks, leading me to believe he apparated right onto my doorstep. Lazy bastard couldn’t even put on a pair of shoes.
“You didn’t have to come over,” I tell him. I go back to my bedroom to grab my dressing-gown and he follows me in. He lies on my bed, over the covers and shuts his eyes.
“Right, I’m listening,” he says. He’s on my bed. Scorpius is on my bed. Should I lie down beside him? Would that be inappropriate? No more inappropriate than him lying on my bed in the first place, I suppose. Shove it, it’s my bed. I can lie there too. I have every right to lie there. “Rose?”
“Eh...what?” I ask stupidly.
“Just get in the damn bed,” he yawns. Usually, I don’t take orders from him. This time I decide I will. I crawl under the covers. Technically we’re not in bed together. Technically I’m in bed while he’s on the bed. It’s completely different. Still, I imagine Daisy wouldn’t be too happy about it. “Now talk.”
“Talk?” I ask, “About...”
“Anything you like.”
“Alright...I saw twelve people die today,” I decide that might be a nice place to start. He opens one eye and looks at me, eyebrows raised. “I think that’s the extent of it.” He doesn’t say anything, but puts a comforting arm around me and closes his eyes again. That arm, that comforting arm, is just a friendly one, I know that. Still I can fantasise, can’t I?
I’m rudely awoken by a knocking on the door at eight o’clock the next morning. I’m not due in work until twelve, so I can’t imagine who’d be –
Oh crap. Scorpius is still in my bed. He stayed the night!
“Scorpius!” I hiss, “Wake up!”
“Mmpf,” he mumbles, still half-asleep, “Go away.”
“Get up, Malfoy!” I warn him, “Get up now!” He opens his eyes, frowns and then realisation dawns.
“Yes, my thoughts exactly,” I snap. The person at the door keeps on knocking. “You stay here, I’m going to see who that is.”
I rush down the hall, my heart pounding furiously. I have a married man in my bed. Really, my parents did a rubbish job with me. They should be ashamed of themselves. I open the door. It’s Daisy and Aidan. Double crap.
“Daisy!” I proclaim loudly, hoping that Scorpius will hear me and stay in the bedroom, “Aidan! What are you doing here?”
“I live here,” Aidan replies. That is such a me thing to say. Cheeky git. I wasn’t nearly as cheeky when I was five.
“Sorry about this Rose, but Scorpius left for work early,” Daisy tells me, looking a bit flustered, “I was just taking Aidan to school, he says he left one of his books here...” Before she’s even finished explaining, Aidan has disappeared into his bedroom to fetch his book.
“Thanks for this, Daisy,” I say, trying to make it look like I’m not pushing her out the door, “Really appreciate it.” I have to be nice to her. I let her husband sleep in my bed last night, after all.
“Oh it’s no trouble at all,” she says, “And Rose, if you don’t mind, I thought I’d pop over later. I have something important to discuss with you.”
She knows! How does she know? She couldn’t possibly know.
“We could discuss it now?” I suggest. Rip off the band-aid. Get it over with. I’m pretty sure I could take this bitch, if it came to it. She might be a bit taller, but I have a good ten pounds on her, and I’m ten years younger too.
“I don’t think we should talk about this in front of Aidan,” she says seriously. Roughly translated: I don’t want Aidan to see his mother die at such a young age. I understand that – she doesn’t want a Bambi situation on her hands. Still, I’d rather she just shoot me and get it over with. Aidan runs out of his room, holding his book. “See you at around six then?”
I nod. What else can I do but nod? I then swoop down and give Aidan a quick kiss, before the two leave. Scorpius emerges from the bedroom, looking extremely guilty.
“Eh...I should go.”
He disapparates. And I begin writing my last will and testament – I’m a dead woman walking.
A/N - Apologies for the wait, people! It's now 3:15am and I've just finished my college assignments, so I decided to be a nice person and post this chapter for you impatient little pixies! Enjoy and please review! :)