Chapter 6 : Slipping Through the Cracks
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23 June 2024
Scorpius was petrified. What was that man trying to do to his father?
The man was just staring at him, probably just as stunned as Scorpius was.
“Who are you – what are you doing to my father?” Scorpius finally blurted out. His voice was high pitched and he was clearly at the hedge of panic.
The man lowered his wand, slowly. But suddenly he pointed it at Scorpius.
Scorpius looked for his wand, and took it out from inside his robes.
“I-I must warn you. I got Outstanding at Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms,” he said pointing the wand at the cloaked man.
“Expelliarmus,” the man calmly said.
Scorpius’s wand flew from his hand and across the room, causing the man to laugh viciously.
“Silly child,” he said calmly in his deep voice. “You two won’t even last a week,” and the man Disapparated.
Scorpius stared, wide eyed, at the place the man had just Disapparated from. He knew that voice, really well. It was from one of his father’s old childhood friends. The man rarely had come to his house, but Scorpius could not forget that deep guttural voice.
He was abruptly taken out of his trance, by someone chattering just outside the room, and the sound of the doorknob turning.
He looked around, searching for a place to hide. There was a screen in the corner of the room. He ran and hid behind it.
A second after a Medi-Witch entered the room. She had a hovering basket full of blood bags next to her. It followed her everywhere she went. The Medi-Witch read Draco’s chart and rummaged through the blood bags’ basket. She took one of the blood bags and replaced the almost empty one, which was attached to Draco’s IV.
As the Medi-Witch was walking out of the room, she stumbled on Scorpius’s wand.
“What’s a wand doing here?” she mumbled to herself, picking up the wand and putting it inside her robes’ pocket.
Scorpius breathed a sigh of relief when the Medi-Witch left the room, closing the door behind her. He would have to find a way to get his wand back. He looked at his comatose father. Anger and sadness crossed his eyes as his stare moved across the IV to the blood bag. It was frightening to see his father like that; so vulnerable.
He knelt next to the bed and grabbed his father's hand, gripping it tightly. A tear escaped his eyes. He knew that his father had done a lot of bad things in the past. But Scorpius couldn't bring himself to believe that this could be some karmic punishment, for all of Draco's atrocities. No one deserved to be like this.
His father looked like a zombie, his skin was pale white and ice cold, and he had dark bags under his eyes.
"Dad," Scorpius whispered, hoping that his father would listen and answer his call. Another roll of tears fell from his eyes. He remembered what his father's supposed friend had said, just minutes ago. His words echoed in his head.
'You two won't last a week...'
"I promise you, I will sort this out," he cleaned the tears from his eyes with the sleeve of his robes, breathing heavily with his voice shaking. "You will not die. I will do my best to save you, you can believe me!"
Scorpius got up and tugged his father’s bed sheets. Someway, he thought that he might feel cold, since his skin was so icy.
"I love you, dad," he said just before leaving the room.
On the bed, a bloody tear escaped Draco’s eyes and his lips trembled slightly.
Scorpius tried to make his self invisible by avoiding the corridors with people, and passing through as quietly as he could. He now had to find his wand and in a hospital of this size and with this many people, it was like finding a needle in a haystack.
But luckily, he found the Medi-Witch that had found his wand faster than he thought it would take. She was going to the lobby, now with the empty blood bag basket still hovering before her. When she reached the reception desk, she took out his wand and gave it to one of the smiling receptionists. When the Medi-Witch walked away, Scorpius hurried to the reception desk.
"Excuse me, I lost my wand, while visiting a patient. Did someone, by any chance find it?" he asked in his most casual tone; being a good actor was one of the Malfoys’ best qualities that come in as the most useful at times. Luckily the receptionist that talked to him earlier wasn't there anymore, or else he would be in deep trouble.
"Oh, a Medi-Witch just dropped off a wand, a few moments ago," the receptionist said sweetly, opening a drawer and taking out Scorpius's wand. "Is it this one?"
"It is! Thank you!" Scorpius gave her his most charming smile.
"INCOMING!" a Healer yelled, making everyone move over to the sides and letting him past. Just behind him were two women, lying on hovering stretchers. Both of them were coughing and vomiting blood, which was being siphoned by two Medi-Witches that were running next to their stretchers.
Scorpius looked in shock, when he realized who both of the women were.
"MUM! GRAN!" he ran after them, but was stopped by a Healer.
"Do you know these women?" the Healer asked.
"YES! They are my mother and grandmother! Move over, I want to see how they are," Scorpius tried to walk past the Healer, but the Healer stopped him, getting hold of Scorpius' arm. "What are you doing? Let go of me! MUM!"
"I'm afraid I can't let you go after them. This disease is highly contagious. We can't let other people get infected by it," the Healer said, calmly, but in an authoritarian tone. "I advise you to go home, and once we have any news, we will send an owl right away."
Scorpius looked at the man furiously. He didn't want to go home. He wanted to go after his mother. He wanted to make sure they were alright. Home was the last place he wanted to be right now. It was empty and it would only make him feel worse.
"Can't I just stay here? In the lobby and wait for the news?" Scorpius asked, in the hope of being able to sneak into his mother's and grandmother's room, like he had done previously.
"I'm afraid you can't. We aren't allowing anyone who doesn't work here, or isn't a patient, to stay in St. Mungo's," the Healer said. "Go home, calm down and when we have news we will contact you."
Scorpius huffed. He didn't like this idea at all, but there wasn't anything he could do. Taking the Healer's advice, he went to the corridor with all the fireplaces and flooed home.
Potter home, London, UK
23 June 2024
Albus was sitting at the kitchen table watching his mum cook dinner. He was deep in thought, and wasn't paying any attention to the last reports on the "White Disease" on the Wire. He kept shifting from his position and sighing. He had been in there for so long, he had forgotten what he was supposed to do in the kitchen.
"What is it you want to ask?" asked Ginny, taking a look at her son, while enchanting the wooden spoon to stir the soup.
"What? Who says I want to ask for anything?" Albus lied, remembering what he was doing in there. He was a terrible liar. And his mother always seemed to know when he wanted something.
"What are you up to?" she asked suspiciously. "I can see that you want something. And the sighing says that you are afraid to ask."
"I'm not that predictable!" Albus objected. He gave a deep breath and mustered up the courage to ask. "Rose got a job on the Daily Prophet..."
"Yes I know," Ginny said, cutting up some vegetables. "What about it?"
"Her first job is going to Russia to write a story about this Doctor who was murdered a few days ago," Albus continued, cautiously.
"She is?" Ginny turned around to look at her son. She raised her eyebrows. "I'm surprised Hermione is letting her go."
"Yes, well. I want to go with her," Albus finally said.
"WHAT?" Ginny looked at Albus as if he was a mad man. "Are you insane? No, you're not going! Going to Russia with you cousin," she laughed and turned around to carry on cutting the vegetables, as if Albus hadn't asked anything.
"Mum, I'm serious. Quidditch tryouts won't start in a month. I'll be back in no time," Albus's brain was in full speed, thinking of good arguments to convince his mother.
"Albus, you are not going and that is final," Ginny said without even looking at her son.
"But that way Rose won't be alone in a foreign country. And I can get back any time. Please," Albus pleaded.
"That's ridiculous. You're not going!" Ginny said.
"Well, dad went on an even more dangerous trip than this one and he turned out just fine," Albus was using everything he had. Giving up was not in his vocabulary.
"You father had to do it, you don't!"
"What if I have to?" Albus yelled.
Ginny looked at him with curiosity. "What are you talking about?" she asked.
They were interrupted by James coming into the kitchen. He was coughing slightly and looked exhausted.
"You look like a ghost!" Ginny said, forgetting about her conversation with Albus. She put her hand on James's forehead, feeling his temperature. "You're burning up! James, you're staying home until you get better."
"No I'm not," James protested, getting away from his mother. "It's my internship at St. Mungo's. I've been studying since I was in my third year at Hogwarts to become a Healer. I'm almost finished, it's not a little cold that is going to stop me!"
"But you can't work if you're sick, James. Be reasonable!" Ginny said, folding her arms.
James covered his mouth with his hand and coughed. He looked in shock at his hand as it was covered in blood. He put his finger on his lips realizing that the blood was coming from his mouth. Ginny was looking from James's mouth to his hand, unable to breath.
"James," Ginny's voice broke. "James!"
James started coughing even more. Ginny turned around to look at Albus, who was staring at his brother in horror.
"Go!" Ginny said, holding the tears from falling away from her eyes.
"Wha-?" Albus mumbled.
"Go to Russia! You're safer there!" Albus's mother yelled.
Albus ran to his room in shock. He couldn't believe what was happening. His brother was infected. He had the symptoms. Albus always thought that it would never affect him or his family. But he was apparently wrong. Cleaning the tears from his eyes, he started packing as fast as he could.
Ministry of Magic, London, UK
24 June 2024
"Minister, the Press is here. They are ready,” one of the Minister of Magic’s councilors, a short and bald man said, peeking into the Minister’s Office.
The Minister nodded, and got up from his lavish armchair. He took one last look at his speech, while straitening his robes.
It wasn’t the first time he had to face the press while in office. But it was his last chance to shut up some of the comments the newspapers and radio stations were making about him.
He smiled, looking at himself on the mirror; his sparkling white teeth, and his perfectly combed brown hair, were, no doubt, the only things that got him elected. Who would have thought that basing his campaign on his image would be the cause of the record breaking number of women voting on the elections.
“Crazy people,” he chuckled, thinking about it. He winked at himself in the mirror and decided it was time to face the lions.
He got down to the main entrance of the Ministry. The journalists were already seated in chairs in front of the new statute that represented the new Ministry's politics. When he approached the standing, all the reporters got up and started talking at the same time. Photo cameras flashed all over the place, making the Minister blind for a couple of seconds.
"Please, calm down," the Minister said, raising both hands. "I will respond to every question you have."
"Minister! Minister!" the reporters yelled, raising their quills, trying to get his attention.
The Minister posed for the photographers, showing his big shiny white smile.
"Please, if you could all be seated, I will respond to every one of your questions. One at the time," he said after taking some pictures, and then raising his hands again.
The reporters calmed down and the flashes stopped.
"Let’s start then," the Minister said. All the reporters raised their hands. "You!" He pointed to a reporter who was in a wheelchair.
"Minister, Olivia Stone, for the Daily Prophet. What are your comments on the so-called "White Disease" that's been creating havoc on the Wizarding Community, and even in the United Kingdom?" Olivia said loudly, ready to take notes.
"I am informed about this malady. I know this is scary for all the witches and wizards across the country. But I ask them not to panic. My office is already taking action in funding the research for a cure, and to discover the source of this virus. You will all see results soon," the Minister stated, and pointed at another reporter that had his arms raised.
"John Appleby for the Quibbler. Has any action been taken to put St. Mungo's under Quarantine?" the reporter asked.
"I can assure you that we are in constant contact with the St. Mungo's Director, and it will be put under Quarantine in the next twenty-four hours. I will take this time to urge you to not go to St. Mungo's if you are not showing signs of this "White Disease." The Minister pointed at another reporter.
"Sarah Stuart for the Wire, sir, have you read today's journals talking about the recent death of the "White Disease"’s Patient Zero, Gregory Goyle?" She lifted some kind of recording artifact, which was transmitting to all the radios that were set on the Wire.
"Yes, yes. It is a great tragedy. But as I stated previously, we are making efforts so that no one dies again from this malady," some camera flashes went off again as the Minister pointed at yet another reporter.
"Bruce Johnson, the Sorcerer. Do you have any comments on how the press is portraying you as?" he asked.
"Please, we are here to discuss the "White Disease,"” as the Minister said that, flashes went off again everywhere and the reporters started yelling again. The Minister's counsellors pushed him through the crowd and into the lifts. "Well, that went well."
"Minister, I don't think this is the time for jokes," the short and bald counsellor said a little uncomfortable. "This disease is real and so are the comments the press has been making abo-"
"I know Thomas," the Minister interrupted. "I'm not stupid."
"Then, why did you lie?" Thomas asked. "You haven't been in touch with St. Mungo's Director. You aren't doing anything to control this."
"The people don't know that, Thomas," the Minister said with a smirk. They exited the lift once the doors opened at the Minister's floor and went to his office. "I'm talking with the Director today to sort this out. No one needs to know."
"Charles, if you want to get re-elected, you can't screw this up," Thomas pleaded, when Charles, the Minister sat on his chair behind his desk. "Have you even read today's Daily Prophet?"
"You know I don't. It's all a pile of rubbish. Always writing lies about me," the Minister laughed.
"You can't be laughing, Charles. This is serious!" Thomas threw a copy of the Daily Prophet on top of the desk. "People will get even more scared about this. You have to do something to reassure them that they are safe."
The Minister picked up the newspaper and read the headline. 'Gregory Goyle, White Disease's Patient Zero, dies today.'
"He had been infected for only four or five days, Charles. This is the first confirmed death from the White Disease," Thomas continued. He was frustrated now, holding on to the edge of the desk, looking directly at the Minister. "You have to do something for a change!"
"Fine!" the Minister yelled, causing Thomas to take a step back. The Minister got up and went to the fireplace. He grabbed a handful of floo powder and threw it into the flames. He then put his head into the flames and said "St. Mungo's Director's office.”
Von Nettesheim Magikal Krankenhaus, Berlin, Germany
24 June 2024
"Knight to E5,”said one of two men in German. A little black piece of chess shaped like a horse moved across the Wizard's Chess board and kicked a white pawn.
"Nice move,” chuckled the other man, also in German. He was looking at the chess board deep in thought. His glasses were slipping from his nose, due to the steam in the room and the sweat that came from the man's forehead. "Queen to E5." The tiny white piece moved and pushed the knight from the black horse.
The first man laughed and shook his head slightly. "You don't know what you have done," he said slyly.
Just then there was a tap on the only window of the room. They were in a dark dungeon looking room. The walls were stained from the various potions that were brewing, it was the steam that caused the stains. The tiny window was the only thing that let natural light inside, illuminating the counter with magical and Muggle scientific devices. The rest of the room was illuminated by lamps and the fire from the potions. The smell was disgusting. The scent from all the different potions and the smell of the old and moldy stains combined in a nauseating smell. It was clear that the place was rarely cleaned, if it had ever been cleaned before.
The man with the glasses looked at the window. There was an owl outside with a package tied to its leg. It was tapping on the window with its beak.
"Alright alright. I'm coming," said the man getting up and opening the window. The bird flew inside and landed on top of the counter delicately. The man untied the package while the owl kept biting him on the hands. "Ouch.”
When he finally took the package from the owl, the man took a step back looking at the bird cautiously.
"I know what you want," he said smiling and grabbing a cup and filling it with water. He gave it to the owl as well as some old owl biscuits.
The bird chirped in and started feasting itself on the biscuits.
The man sat in front of the chess board again, looking at the package with curiosity. His colleague were frowning at him.
"Well, open it," said the frowning man, gesturing at the package.
The man with the glasses opened the small package. Inside there was a vial with blood and a letter from the St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Injuries and Maladies.
"It's from London," he said.
A/N: Von Nettesheim Magikal Krankenhaus means Von Nettesheim (the name of a German magician, occult writer, theologian, astrologer, and alchemist. You may remember him from the chocolate frogs cards "Agrippa") Magical Hospital. Thank you to Susan/Violet Gryffindor for helping me with this.
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