Chapter 47 : The Accident
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I'm sorry I've been neglecting you again. Things have been busy lately. Remus's father died and a friend was sent to prison for no reason at all. It's sort of been one thing after another, although nothing has happened to me personally. (Which probably just means that something is coming).
Really, there isn't that much to report anyway. Tonks and Gideon have broken up and made up half a dozen times since I wrote to you last. Nothing new there. I really do think that if he tries to keep her from becoming an Auror, that's going to be the final straw though. She had an interview last month but hasn't heard anything yet, although they say that it usually does take a while.
I've bought a new wardrobe for teaching and have picked out textbooks for my students. I'm mostly done writing out lesson plans and things. I'm still working on my thesis but I'm hoping to be done in April at the latest. Actually, this term hasn't been too bad because other than my thesis, most of the really hard work is done. I'm pretty sure I'll make valedictorian. It's between me and a couple of other contenders, both of which are astronomy students. I've heard that a lot of betting is going on around campus as to who's going to get it. Supposedly Professor Comes of the zoology department has a small fortune riding on me to win so I'd better or else.
Have you ever worked much with thestrals? That's one thing I'm worried about. We're getting ready to go through a unit where they'll have us working with them hands on. I know thestrals can be a bit touchy and it makes me nervous working with something that I won't be able to see. It won't be like handling the ones at Hogwarts that Hagrid has pretty well tamed. But I guess you don't want to hear me fretting over thestrals when you're working with dragons. How's Norberta, by the way?
Chill out, will you? I'm fine, just busy. Besides, you were kind of a jerk the last time I saw you, which you admitted yourself. Don't come rushing over here to check on me because I'm perfectly fine. Trust me, I'll let you know if VLDMRT shows up on my doorstep or something. In fact, you might even read about it in the paper. Just chill out, okay?
To say that I'm glad there haven't been any more attacks would be putting it mildly. Basilisks do something similar to hibernation in winter, but this one is not following usual behavior patterns anyway. It shouldn't have been active back in December when the double attack took place. Under normal circumstances I'd say that it's just gone into it's hibernation stage but in this case I'm not so sure.
The question isn't really what's going on with the snake, but what's going on with the person who controls it. Cases with serial killers come to mind and if it is VLDMRT, he qualifies as a serial killer. Generally they only stop if they die or get locked up, but neither of those seems likely. Unless maybe the basilisk turned on him for some reason? But that doesn't make sense either. It would serve him right though. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help (although I know you won't).
As far as Lockhart goes, I don't know what to tell you other than to hold out for the jinx to get rid of him. Either that, or take him down in the sewers and hit him with the killing curse like you did with those rats. Maybe by now Dumbledore is so sick of him that he wouldn't mind. Sounds like the rest of the staff wouldn't. At any rate, there are only four more months to go.
Well, Franklin McNair and I have had another run-in and I think that this time we might have crossed a line. He walked away threatening me like he always does but there's a change in his attitude that makes me think that this time he means it. I'd better be on my guard or he might pull strings to frame me for something and land me in Azkaban with Royal. Severus would completely freak out.
It started, as it always seems to, with Mary Ann. It's getting to be a familiar routine now. I swear that she purposely waits until I'm here alone trying to work on my paper to get into these situations. I'm getting used to the sight of her frantically streaking past the front window, bursting in the door and hurling herself against it as she fumbles with the lock. I looked up dispassionately as she repeated the performance yet again today. "Who is it this time?"
Usually this is the point where she demands her wand so she can attack whoever is chasing her. She varied from the standard routine at this point by dancing around the room, laughing hysterically as she waved a silvery length of fabric over her head.
"What's that?" I asked, knowing that the answer would not be anything good.
"McNair's invisibility cloak." she laughed, disappearing beneath it. "How do I look?"
"He started it." came Mary Ann's voice from somewhere to my left. "I knew it was him. Pinecones and dirt were flying at me out of nowhere. He thought he was so smart. But I listened and watched for footprints and when I thought I knew where he was, I just jumped at that spot. Sure enough, I ran into him. I just grabbed hold of the first thing I could find and ran. Turns out it was this. Pretty good, huh?" There was a brief moment of silence and then, "Boo!" came a shout from the right.
"Give it to me."
"No way -- get your own."
Predictably, the next part of the routine began; the part where Franklin comes charging up to the door and pounds on it until it rattles. My hand shot out and grabbed the cloak, taking some blond hair with it.
"OW!" Mary Ann squeaked, rubbing her scalp. "You aren't seriously giving it back are you? That's stupid."
"Stay here and keep your mouth shut." I said, taking a step toward the door.
"No --- don't do it!" she shouted, 'obedient' as always, as she jumped in front of me to block my path.
"Full body bind." I threatened, picking up my wand.
"You're so stupid!" she exploded, but moved out of my way.
"I told you to stay away from here!" I snarled as I banged open the front door. I felt it hit something and I hoped it was his face.
"And I told you to stop harboring werewolves!" Franklin shot back, equally angry. "That little thief ---"
"I'm no thief!" shouted Mary Ann over my shoulder. "You started it! You were throwing things at me!"
"Full body bind." I threatened again.
"Crucio would be my suggestion." said Franklin.
"I didn't ask you."
"I think that's mine." said Franklin, reaching for the cloak in my hand.
I held it back, out of his reach. "I really wish you had parents I could talk to because you're acting like a two year old. You do realize this is a fourteen year old you're harassing, right? Grow up, why don't you?"
"Trust me, my parents would have loved to see me putting a werewolf in its place. And if you don't give that back right now, I'll report it stolen."
"And I'll report you for assaulting Mary Ann."
"Is that its name? Mary Ann? I think I'd have named it "Killer" or "Ferocious" or... "Horrible Little Thieving Mutt Dog."
"I don't have time to play with you." I snapped, shoving Mary Ann back as she tried to fly at him. "Here."
Franklin took the cloak as I thrust it at him. That might have been the end of it right then and there. I really don't know what got into me, other than the fact that I knew he'd probably just go right back to harassing werewolves with it again ---as if there haven't been enough injustices against them lately.
"Incendio." I said, pointing my wand at the cloak.
Whatever they make invisibility cloaks with, it's very flammable. The thing incinerated almost instantly, Franklin dropping it with a startled yelp as fire licked at his fingers. It was disintegrated before it even hit the ground, a mess of purple ash.
"Oh you rock!" Mary Ann exulted, half strangling me with a hug.
Franklin, for once, looked as though he couldn't think of anything to say. He opened his mouth but no words came.
"I told you to stop harassing the kids." I told him, now pointing my wand at him in case he chose to attack.
He seemed to come to his senses then, and responded by pointing his wand at me in turn.
"Hey --- if you attack Kerri, I'll tell my dad that you hurt me." said Mary Ann sharply. "I'll tell him you attacked me in the woods. I'll say that I tried to get away but....you used the full body bind on me." she invented, choosing my favorite method of controlling her to embroider the story.
"I have more pride than to get into a duel with scum like you." answered Franklin, looking at me. "But you'll pay for this. You won't see it coming, but when it does, you'll know it. Remember that I'm the one that made it happen."
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Mary Ann. "That you're too scared to fight her and afraid to admit it?"
"That's what it sounded like to me." I agreed. "Can't we just fight and have done with it? You might get a big surprise."
"I don't think so." said Mary Ann. "I think he already knows that you'd win."
"Remember what I told you." said Franklin, his tone chilling.
"Get off this property."
Mary Ann succeeded in pushing past me, and stooping down, gathered up a clod of mud to throw at his retreating back. He didn't even pause.
"I'll tell my dad?" I questioned as I hauled Mary Ann back into the house.
"Yeah well, he doesn't know we don't get along, does he? And you never know with my dad anyway. It might have made him mad. He likes excuses to get into fights with people. But hey --- that was awesome how you set that cloak on fire. Kind of a shame though. We could have just kept it. And you can stop telling me not to abuse magic too."
"You're an underage werewolf so the stakes are higher for you." I made excuse. And although I tried to pass the incident off as harmless, it did leave me feeling a bit unsettled.
I confided this to Remus when I told him the story. I did promise not to keep things from him anymore...with one noted exception...and if he wants to worry about my problems in addition to his own, why should I try to stop him?
"I have new appreciation now for what the McNair family is capable of." I admitted my biggest fear. "It was Fenrir's suggestion, but they're the ones who actually had the power to get all those people rounded up and sent to prison."
"Setting fire to an invisiblity cloak isn't a prison offence." Remus comforted.
"Neither is being a werewolf." I reminded him.
"Well, no." he agreed. "But you're not a werewolf so it isn't likely they'd get away with something like that with you. The worst they should be able to do is fine you...although," he added reluctantly, a crease appearing between his eyebrows. "It certainly wouldn't sound good to the Hogwarts governors. If Franklin's brother is still friends with Lucius Malfoy then he does have access to at least one of them."
"I met Malfoy once. It was in Knockturn Alley when I went with Tonks to get her tattoo." I thoughtlessly blurted. At the time I had not wanted Remus to know about that little trip because he wouldn't have liked the thought of me being in that neighborhood. I immediately wished I hadn't said it and hoped that he hadn't caught on.
No such luck. "You went to Knockturn Alley with Tonks?" he asked.
"Basil was with us." I told him, hoping that the thought of us having a male protector would ease his disapproval. "Hey -- did you know Tonks is related to the Malfoys?" I asked, by way of distracting him.
"Of course." answered Remus, his tone completely unsurprised. "Andromeda was a Black and Narcissa Malfoy is her sister."
Here was an interesting bit of news. "Black? As in Sirius Black?"
"Yes. Sirius was Andromeda's cousin. She was quite a few years older than we were though. She wasn't at school with us so I don't know her very well, although Sirius was close to her. She and Sirius were about the only decent people that family ever turned out...or seemed to be anyway. They both ended up being disowned although I suppose Sirius must have redeemed himself in their eyes after leaving school." His tone had gone fractionally harder as he said this, and I knew that by 'leaving school' he meant 'killing the Potters.' It was over a decade ago but I know it's still a sore spot with him. It leaves him confused as to how his friend could have committed such a betrayal and makes him wonder if he's somehow guilty for not perceiving Sirius Black's true nature in time to prevent the tragedy.
"So Tonks is related to two families full of lunatics." I said more cheerfully than perhaps was decent. It's just nice to not be the only one.
"All of the wizarding families are so interrelated that nearly everyone is related to at least one Death Eater. People don't talk about those relationships though. Having a Death Eater in the family is almost as bad as having a werewolf. Knockturn Alley?" Remus went back to the subject that I'd been trying to avoid.
I grimaced, thinking that I much preferred the topic of lunatics and mass murderers to this one. And to think that Royal is locked up in Azkaban along with real criminals like Sirius Black. I wonder how many other innocent people have been unjustly thrown to the dementors?
Remus's birthday is coming up very soon. It's sneaked up on me this year. Well, actually it's sneaked up on all of us. Last year we had a little party that the Fabians attended. Celestia made the cake and Matthew helped open presents. It sort of puts a damper on things with Royal locked up and his family moved away. Basil and Augustus are out of work and can't afford to put in money for gifts or food anyway.
I think maybe I'll just make a nice dinner for him and have him over some evening for a quiet little celebration. I know Jillian will be happy to take Mary Ann for me. Tonks is working hard on her studies but she'll probably welcome an excuse to get out for a bit. All that time alone together...I can really think of something I'd like to give him, all right.
Get a grip already, Kerri.
Last night during one of our concerts Remus spoke with that couple from Vashti's building about taking Mary Ann. I'm glad I didn't know what he was doing because I'd have been a nervous wreck. I want her to go to Ryann and Jillian. Remus agrees that it would be the best solution, but also thinks we should keep looking for other candidates since Ryann is still being stubborn about it. None of us have mentioned this to Mary Ann in fear of getting her hopes up. Mary Ann herself seems indifferent about the question of her future. She doesn't seem to care where she goes as long as it's away from her family.
At any rate, the couple in question wasn't interested in taking her. I wasn't surprised or disappointed. We're starting to run out of time though and really, it's a miracle that Fenrir or Sheila haven't heard what we're up to yet. If a better solution isn't worked out, then I guess I'm going to be the one who takes Mary Ann. My mother is going to have hysterics when I show up at home with her this summer. I'd also better be preparing Dumbledore for it for next fall. And what on earth is Severus going to say?
I had the worst day imaginable yesterday, and the worst night. I was in the hospital. I think this is Franklin McNair's "thing that I wouldn't see coming." I'm going to have to hurt him.
You know ever since the argument the other day I've seen him around campus a lot more frequently than usual. Mostly I just ignore him but sometimes I've had the impression that he's been following me on purpose. In retrospect, I think he was learning about my schedule and waiting for some sort of opportunity to present itself. It seems that the thestrals gave him one.
I was nervous enough about working with the thestrals to begin with. They had us massaging balm into their skin. Because there is so little fat and tissue between their skin and their bones, it's very important for a thestral's skin to be kept supple and in good condition. Those in captivity tend to have dry skin for some reason, so that's the condition we were supposed to be treating.
It was awkward anyway, not being able to see what my hands were rubbing the cream on. It was okay as long as the cream was visible, a white smear apparently floating in midair, but once it began to rub in, it wasn't so easy to manage. It was hard to tell how much of the thestral was covered. Still, everything went fine until I had worked my way to the thestral's hindquarters.
I must have been standing more directly behind it than I realized. I had thought that I was more to the side of it. All I know is that I remember someone shouting "Boo!" followed by a slapping noise. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital.
Four pale faces peered down at me. Remus looked especially haggard, his face anxious. "One of you go get the healer." he said. His voice was pitched low but it brooked no argument.
"You go." said Basil, looking at Augustus.
"No -- you go." answered Augustus.
"I'll go." said Tonks with an annoyed sigh. She turned quickly, the movement seeming like a blur to me. I had a killer headache.
"Kerri, you were kicked by a thestral." Remus informed me, leaning over me but carefully not touching. "You're in Saint Mungo's."
"I was?" I asked, completely dazed.
"We'd have thought that if you were going to get attacked by an animal, it would have been a werewolf." Basil cheerfully blurted.
"Hush." said Remus sharply as Tonks returned with a man dressed in white robes.
The three of them, Remus and the two idiots, moved out of the way of the healer. As I became more alert, I felt rising panic. I hate doctors and I hate hospitals. "Remus?" I asked in alarm.
"I'm right here." he answered, positioning himself at the foot of the bed where I could see him.
My heart pounded wildly while the healer talked to me, and I was so nervous that I missed most of what he said. I did come to understand that I had several broken ribs and a mild head injury. There had also been some internal bleeding that had since been stopped. I also learned that I had been unconscious for several hours.
"When can I go home?" I asked the most important question, and immediately closed my eyes against the feeling of sledgehammers beating away at my skull.
"Not until tomorrow. Right now you need to drink a potion to mend the fractured ribs. You'll have to stay overnight while they heal."
"Can't I drink it at home and heal there?"
"No. You'll need to be examined to be certain that the fractures have healed correctly." answered the healer as he began stirring up a bright green liquid in a glass. "Have you ever taken skelegrow?"
"No." And I didn't think I wanted to either.
"Well, this is similar to skelegrow. It will mend your fractures. An injury that would have otherwise taken weeks to heal will heal overnight, although there will be discomfort."
As if I wasn't already feeling discomfort already....
"Can't I take it at home and promise to come back in the morning so you can examine me?" I asked hopefully.
"No. I'm sorry. Regulations won't allow me to leave while you're injured."
I drank the potion which tasted horrible and managed to make my ribs feel worse than they already did.
Once the healer had left, after giving a few more instructions that I was too distracted to listen to, Remus returned to the side of the bed and took my hand.
"Potion tasted good?" Augustus teased in an effort to be cheerful. "I'll bet it tastes about as good as the food does. Maybe we'll sneak you something good tomorrow morning."
"It's not so bad." said Basil bracingly. "All you have to do is lay around. You won't have to get up early and go to work tonight."
"Don't worry about it." said Remus, as my eyes immediately went to his. "How often do you go alone during the full moon? And you already take one night off each month anyway and I manage just fine. All you have to worry about is getting better."
There was something bothering me that I couldn't quite place. Something important that I needed to tell them, but my brain was working sluggishly, caught up in the horror of being in the hospital and the pain in my midsection.
"Are you all right?" asked Augustus, looking at me closely.
"Of course she is." answered Tonks, though her face was as pale as everyone else's.
"Well now that you're awake we can go tell Brand and Streak." Basil informed me. "They're at work and have no idea this is going on. Neither does Mel for that matter."
"Get better." Augustus commanded as he and Basil left.
"What happened?" I asked, more to myself than to Remus and Tonks.
"A thestral kicked you." Tonks answered. "They didn't know who to contact because your records show that you don't have any family here. The head of the zoology department got hold of me though. I told Remus, and Basil and Augustus were there at the time so they came too."
"Do you remember any of it?" Remus asked.
"I don't know." I answered slowly. It was hard to think with the sledgehammers pounding away in my head. "I was working with one of the thestrals....and I heard someone shout....and I think someone slapped the thestral because I heard a slapping sound." Now it was beginning to come back to me.
Remus and Tonks exchanged worried looks.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Pretty sure. It's hard to be sure of anything just now with my head hurting like this."
"Did you see anyone near you?"
"No....but Franklin McNair did threaten me. And if he has another cloak....I wouldn't have seen him, would I?"
"When he threatened you, were there witnesses?" asked Tonks.
"Mary Ann was there."
"No one is going to listen to a teenage werewolf."
"So if he is at fault, he's just going to slip out of it, just like his family weasels their way out of everything else?" asked Remus, sounding utterly furious.
I closed my eyes and put a hand over my eyes as his voice set off the sledgehammers.
"Kerri?" he asked, his voice full of concern again.
"I just want to go home. I don't want to spend the night here." I said, feeling tears start to come.
"Why are you afraid?" asked Remus. I appreciated that he didn't belittle my fear by saying something like, "there's nothing to be afraid of."
"I hate hospitals and doctors -- healers." I corrected.
"Oh , you were raised as a Muggle." said Tonks brightly. "They aren't going to cut you open or anything here. Wizard methods are completely different from Muggle ones. You'll just be miserable from the potion all night, but you'll be well tomorrow. I know -- I've broken lots of bones and taken that stuff more times than I can count."
"I hate hospitals." I stubbornly repeated. "There's no privacy. I don't want strangers poking and ---" I paused, noticing the indecent nature of the gown I was wearing. Wizard hospital gowns are no different from the Muggle kind. I hoped that Basil and Augustus hadn't been around when I'd been dressed in it. And then a new horror occurred to me. "Where's the bathroom? If they think I'm using a bedpan, they're out of their minds."
I looked around frantically and spotted a tiny bathroom, half concealed behind the open door of the hospital room.
"Nothing wrong with her attitude." said Tonks seriously. "She'll be fine."
"I am not using a bedpan." insisted.
"The healer said he doesn't want you moving around because it could damage the healing fractures." Tonks informed me. "Weren't you listening?"
"No. And I'd rather die than use a bedpan. I don't have to go right now, but I want you guys to help me get to the bathroom now, while you're here. Hopefully I can hold it after that until I go home." I looked from one to the other of them. They looked back at me as though I'd lost my mind. "Fine." I said, starting to sit up. Remus's hands were immediately on my shoulders, gently but firmly preventing me from moving further.
"I'll get the healer. They can give her something to knock her out." said Tonks, starting to turn away.
"No." said Remus, stopping her. "Kerri, do you have to be so stubborn?" he asked me with chagrin.
"I am not going to use a bed pan. I'm not an invalid. It's disgusting and I'm not going to do it." I insisted, trying not to wince as every word made my headache worse.
"If I help you to the bathroom, can you manage from there on your own?"
"Yes." I instantly answered. Some way, some how I would manage, even if it killed me.
"Remus, if she moves around it could re-fracture anything that's already healed." Tonks warned.
"As long as the potion is in her system, it will reset. You know Kerri. She really will crawl there if we don't help her."
"But the healer could give her something to make her sleep or restrain her somehow."
"Nymphadora Tonks!" I exclaimed, and winced as my headache pain doubled.
"She means well." Remus soothed.
"Are you going to knock me out, chain me up, or help me?" I demanded.
"Kerri -- you are the most aggravating person in the world." Tonks informed me.
"You pee in the little bucket then and see how you like it." I answered as I pushed the covers off and sat up.
"Are you all right?" asked Remus, looking closely at me.
Actually, now that I was sitting up, my ribs felt like they were being sliced with broken glass. "I feel just wonderful." I answered, unable to keep the sarcasm from my voice. "But I'll love you forever for doing this." I added sincerely.
"I'll help too." said Tonks in frustration, coming around to the other side of the bed.
Between the two of them they got me to the bathroom. I was very careful to hide any sign of the agony I was in, although Tonks, who can't walk a straight line without tripping, has taken the same potion so many times that she probably knew anyway. I managed well enough by myself once I was in the bathroom but by the time they got me back to bed, I was breathing hard with the effort of not showing my pain.
"All of this just to go to the bathroom." Tonks fumed.
"It's about preserving dignity." Remus calmly informed her as he pulled the blanket up over me.
I would have smiled at him but I was too busy gritting my teeth against the pain.
Tonks was pacing back and forth across the room. "I want to talk to one of my professors before he goes home for the night. Maybe he can give some advice as to what to do about McNair. Do you need me here?"
"No -- go to the bathroom before you leave though." I dryly suggested. "There's a bucket under the bed."
"I hope you're completely well when you come home because you're a really lousy patient." she said as she turned on her heel and left.
"Take the bucket with you in case you need it." I called after her. Immediately regretted it because it set off the sledgehammers again.
"I can't stay too much longer, myself." said Remus, taking my hand again. "Visiting hours are almost over."
"No -- I don't want to stay in this place alone." I gasped, feeling panic again.
"I know. I'm sorry. What is it that makes you so afraid?"
"I don't know. I just don't like hospitals. There's no privacy or...dignity." I repeated the word he'd used earlier.
"At least you don't have a room mate. There was someone here when you first arrived, but they've been discharged since. It won't be so bad. All you have to do is go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning, you'll be able to go home."
"I know...and it makes perfect sense, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I wish you could stay."
"I would if I could." answered Remus, squeezing my hand. "If I was a relative they'd let me, but just being a friend they won't."
"Tell them you're my brother."
"They know from your records that you don't have family in the country."
"Then help me sneak out of here..." I began.
"But I have work I could be doing."
"Exactly. One reason among many that you need to stay here. If you were at home you'd just overdo things. I'm not going to sneak you out of here so don't even bother trying to convince me." said Remus, his voice firm. "And something else...please don't mention Franklin McNair's part in this to Basil and the others yet. We don't want them to end up in prison. Let Tonks see if she can come up with a legal solution."
"And if she can't, I'll come up with another sort of solution." I said darkly, and then winced as I felt a sharp pain in my ribs. "I'm okay." I said, in response to Remus's look of concern.
"I think this ordeal has given me a few more gray hairs."
"Sorry about that." I said, reaching up to stroke those that were growing above his ears. "But they make you look distinguished."
"They make me look old."
The healer appeared in the door. "Visiting hours are over."
My heart began pounding with panic again. "I don't want to be here alone."
"I know. I'm sorry." said Remus, his expression tortured. "Go to sleep and when you wake up it will be tomorrow and you can go home."
He kissed me goodbye and I held on his hand as long as I could until he walked out of reach.
"How are you feeling?" asked the healer, walking over.
"Fine." I answered coldly.
Unfamiliar fingers wandered over my ribs. I glared at the ceiling with my teeth clenched.
"You seem very tense. I could give you draught of peace if you like."
"Well, call for assistance if you need anything." said the healer, straightening up.
"Sure. I'll do that."
He turned out the light as he left, probably hoping I'd go to sleep. Well, he could forget it. No way could I possibly go to sleep in that place. There were too many strange sounds and scents around me to remind me where I was. I could hear someone groaning in the room next door and healers were constantly walking up and down in the hall. The air was permeated with the scents of dozens of herbs, some used for healing, others for sterilizing. On top of all of that, the pain seemed to have gotten worse now that no one was around to distract me from it. There was an odd sensation of movement in my midsection, which I supposed was the accelerated healing taking place. Thinking about it grossed me out. How is it that I can treat animals without any queasiness but I can't stand to be treated myself?
I wondered if it was possible for me to sneak out on my own. Where were my clothes anyway? Who had undressed me? Tonks and Remus would have fits of hysteria if I sneaked home in the middle of night in a hospital gown.
For lack of anything better to do, I kept trying to remember details of the "accident", trying to come up with something concrete I could use to make it worthwhile to file a complaint against Franklin. Or had it really been him? I had hit my head, after all. I seemed to dimly remember the healer informing me that I'd been knocked backward, and bumped my head on a fence post. Curiously, I reached back to feel a tender spot on the back of my head. It was just to the left of my right ear and about the size of an egg. The queasy feeling returned and I put my hand down again, trying not to think of anything at all.
A figure appeared in the doorway. It was too dark for me to see the person's face and I supposed it was probably the healer coming back to check on me.
"Cerridwyn?" came a familiar, low pitched voice. "Are you awake?"
"Severus?" I asked in shock.
The figure advanced, coming near enough to turn on the lamp on the table by the bed. It was indeed Severus, looking every bit as pale and haggard as Remus had earlier. "What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Never mind that. What are you doing here?"
"I was kicked by a thestral."
"I know that. How?" said Severus impatiently, pulling up a chair beside the bed. He was looking at me closely, probably trying to find sign of injury.
I hesitated with my answer, afraid that if he talked to the McNairs, he'd find out that I was "keeping pet werewolves" as Franklin likes to put it. "I don't know. It was an accident."
"Do you have any idea how much alarm you have caused me?"
"Do you realize that this isn't exactly fun? I want to go home." Once again I found myself blinking away tears.
"Please don't do that." said Severus, sounding appalled. "I'm sorry. I'm very out of sorts. You can't imagine how I felt when the headmaster called me to his office and told me."
"Dumbledore? How did he find out?"
"I have no idea. I didn't waste time with pointless questions. I came as soon as I heard. Will you please stop that?"
"I'm sorry...I just didn't know you cared that much." I answered, trying vainly to staunch the flow of tears.
Severus was looking very uncomfortable. Probably he figured that my emotional behavior was due to my "time of the month" or something. Either female hormones, or the blow to the head. His expression made me laugh even through the tears.
"I'm sorry." I apologized. "It's been a bad day. And I hate being here by myself."
"I won't leave you tonight."
"What about visiting hours -- hey --- they let you in here?"
"I told them I was your brother." answered Severus, passing me a tissue.
"But my records say that I don't have any family in the country."
"I know. That would have been a problem, but the headmaster smoothed things over. The hospital director is an old student."
"You told them you're my brother?" I repeated in shock. "But ---"
"Don't worry about it. This one time won't make any difference. I hope."
"I don't care if he does hear about it. I'm glad you're here. I hate this place and I want to go home."
"You can't go home, but I promise to say here with you all night. Provided that you don't cry anymore." said Severus seriously.
"I'm surprised you're so glad to see me considering your last letter. I had the impression that you didn't want me coming to check on you."
"That's not it." I lied. "I'm just busy."
He regarded me in silence for a few moments and I didn't think he believed me. "How are they treating you?" he changed the subject.
"Okay. They don't want me getting up to go to the restroom. They expect me to use a bedpan --- I'd rather die."
"I don't blame you. You and both of a very private nature I suppose." he paused as though steeling himself and then said, "I suppose that if you need to use the restroom, I could help you."
"No. My friends did that earlier."
Severus looked so relieved that I laughed again but then yelped at the broken glass sensation in my middle.
"Are you alright?" asked Severus, leaning forward.
"My ribs hurt. They wanted to give me draught of peace earlier to calm me down but I refused."
"Did you? I'm going to go demand that they give you a sleeping potion then." said Severus, getting to his feet. "Wait here." he sarcastically added.
I scowled after his retreating back and scowled even more as he returned with a healer, a woman this time, bearing a cup brimming with potion. Not having the energy to fight with Severus, I took it.
"That's better." he said, taking his seat again as the healer left. "There is no sense in you lying here in pain."
"I don't want to...sleep." I protested, fighting the effect of the potion.
"I don't think you have much choice." Severus smirked.
The last thing I remember was him telling me good night and pulling the covers around me more tightly
Next Chapter : Kerri gets visitors
Hagrid looked around, as though only just noticing we weren't alone. "Remus. I haven't seen yeh in years." he said, sounding delighted. He thumped Remus on the back, and nearly sent him sprawling. "Er...sorry about that."
"Same old Hagrid." said Remus with a grin. Still smiling, I took his hand and gazed at Hagrid significantly.
"Oh." He said Hagrid, looking at my expression and figuring out what I was getting at. "It's nice...you two...together." he said awkwardly. I took that to mean that we officially had his approval.
"Hagrid is like a father to me." I told Basil and Augustus who were looking mystified. "He helped me adjust to being away from home when I first came here and taught me to love animals."
"Oh -- this is the maniac that taught you to shoot a crossbow." Basil muttered.
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