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Breathless by celticbard
Chapter 2 : Visiting Hours
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 18


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Beautiful chapter image by esperanza @ TDA


Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of Rowling’s work, however, all OCs mentioned herein belong to me.


Medical Disclaimer: Much of this story revolves around the infectious disease, tuberculosis and its treatment. The methods I have described in this story are a mixture of both modern regimens and outdated procedures from the heyday of the sanatorium. For the purpose of this story, the main character contracts and suffers from a strain of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis found only in “wizards”, therefore, her experience may differ from the experience of a “muggle” with the same disease. Finally, I am not a physician. My statements regarding tuberculosis, although thoroughly researched, should not be taken as actual medical facts. 

Cast List: 

Forbia “Freddy” Fotherby - Melanie Lynskey
Healer Calum Crane - Peter Facinelli
Nurse Jenkins - Samantha Morton 
Remus Lupin - James D'Arcy



Chapter Two Visiting Hours


There was a tall, lanky man awaiting Freddy in her room. He smiled when she was wheeled in, the dark circles beneath his eyes lessening some.

“Professor Lupin!” Freddy was so excited that she nearly forgot all the nurses had told her about restricting movement and such. She tried to get up from her chair, but was shocked when her legs did not fully support her and she had to be helped back into bed.

Lupin politely turned his back until she was settled, though Freddy did feel a good deal of embarrassment as Jenkins fussed over her. At last, the nurse left, giving her a pointed look as if to warn her against too much activity. Freddy was relieved that she hadn’t said anything. It was wretched to be reprimanded like a child when one was quite grown.

“Hello, Freddy,” Lupin said, finding the solitary chair next to her bed and seating himself. He was wearing his patched and frayed traveling cloak, and his grey-streaked hair had a wind-blown appearance, as if he had come striding in from the moors. “I hope you don’t mind my dropping by. I had a free Saturday…made sure to mark all my papers last night, you know!”

Freddy said nothing, but fought the urge to grab his hand and wring it tightly. But then, she would look pathetic, and awkward, and obscenely crazy, and she would never, ever have a visit from him again.

Instead, she laid back on one of her many pillows and raised her eyebrows. “Ah, so we’re friends now?” Her voice was strained and he must have noticed it, for he frowned thoughtfully.

“If I can remember correctly,” Lupin replied, the breeze from the half-opened window tousling his hair further. “Goodness, it’s chilly in here. I’m surprised Healer Crane doesn’t have you all shut up.”

“Oh, he does,” Freddy said, somewhat ruefully. “But the windows and doors are always kept open. It’s part of the fresh air treatment. I can’t really tell the difference, to be honest, especially when I'm feverish most of the time.” She paused and took a deep breath. Keeping up with any conversation was tiring, but she would be damned if she let anyone see how much she was hurting. “So tell me– what's happening at Hogwarts?”

Strange, she thought, that I should be asking for news from Lupin. Two months ago, they hadn’t even been on proper speaking terms. He had come to Hogwarts in September to fill the vacant post of professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts. From the beginning, Freddy had been suspicious of him, which was largely due to the fact that her one-time fiancé, Slatero Quirrell, had held the position unsuccessfully (and disastrously) for a short period of time.

For the first half of the school year, Freddy had only just tolerated Lupin’s presence and she was largely threatened by his unassuming attitude. It wasn’t until January, when she had actually begun to fall sick, that the man had proved his loyalty and trustworthiness. He had helped her when she was quite literally too weak to walk and shielded her illness from the rest of the staff until it became impossible to do so.

Afterwards, they had reached a sort of sickbed understanding, which had now bloomed into a tentative friendship.

And as it was, Freddy was terribly glad that he had kept his promise to visit. She was lonely and completely unaccustomed to this strange yearning for human company which now took hold of her.

Lupin, however, seemed to appreciate her predicament.

“Well, there is not much to be said for Hogwarts,” he replied steadily. “I’d rather hear about you first. The nurse tells me that you are not allowed to get out of bed…and she gave me this pamphlet.” He fished around in his pocket and produced a neatly folded piece of parchment that looked almost like a travel brochure.

Daily Schedule For Patients,” he read slowly, as premature lines creased his brow. “Is this what they make you do everyday? Seven thirty am-Rising Bell. Eight fifteen to nine am-Breakfast. Nine to twelve forty-five-rest as ordered. Lunch at one.”

“Rest from two to six, then dinner at six fifteen,” Freddy continued for him, having memorized the routine for lack of anything better to do. “Lights out at nine thirty, though the nurses come through every half hour with their wands lit and stick it in your face to see if you’re still alive. It’s like some awful boarding school…I hate it here, Lupin.”

“Hmm,” He flipped over the pamphlet and read the fine print on the back. “Well, you’re partially right. It says here that the main building was once a school for Muggle children, though it was closed in 1980 for renovation and never reopened. The Ministry purchased it in ‘89 . Supposedly, the lower floors are still dormitories, but used by the nurses and staff instead of students.”

“Please stop,” Freddy muttered, her eyes fluttering. The familiar tightness had taken hold of her chest once more and was currently squeezing the air out of her remaining, pitted lung.

Lupin gazed at her, nonplussed.

“It’s just…” She struggled to find words that would properly describe her peculiar claustrophobia. If she didn’t phrase things right, she might come off as ungrateful or even foolish. Hospitals were places of comfort, of care and respite from pain. Freddy, however, couldn’t adjust to her surroundings.

“I hate the notion of institutionalization,” she said at length, hoping beyond hope that her visitor would understand her.

Lupin sat back in his chair, his long arms resting on his knees. He did not look entirely out of place in her room, she noted, for after all, he bore all the marks of someone battling an illness. Thin wrists poked out of his cuffs and he seemed in need of a good bed and a hot meal.

He must have noticed her eyes on him, for after a moment he rose and paced in front of her radiator, which now squeaked and creaked as stale steam was pushed up through the pipes.

“I can certainly sympathize with you,” Lupin said as he attempted to pace the length of the room. The small, cramped space impeded his progress, however, and made him appear frantic and caged – like some restless animal.

Freddy recalled what he had told her in Hogsmeade village a month ago. He was a werewolf.

They both agreed that the allegory provided by their disorders was fitting, although Lupin could not retire to a sanatorium to have his ills cured.

“I don’t like it here, Remus,” she said stubbornly. “I want to go back to Hogwarts and teach again.”

His smile was lopsided. “I don’t mean any offense, but you really shouldn’t waste your breath.”

“You sound like Crane. Don’t make me nervous.”

“I am here to cheer you up, you know.”

“Then tell me about Hogwarts,” she said. Oh, this truly was wretched! What a horrid pretense of conversation and cordiality!

Anger rose up within her. “I can’t stand this,” Freddy said, raising her voice more than she meant to.

Lupin stopped his pacing at once.

“Freddy-”

“I know I shouldn’t have complained about teaching. I really do love it and I want to go back. And…and I want to be left alone, that’s it.”

Lupin ran a hand through his hair and shook a few strands loose so that they fell over his forehead. Once more, he found the chair by her bedside and sat.

“You still have your post as professor of International Magic,” he replied. “By this time next year, you’ll be back to teaching. And I’ve kept my promise, haven’t I? Now I don’t think I’ll be able to Floo in every Saturday, but McGonagall said she’d come soon, and so did Trelawney. Flitwick also said he’d visit in a month or so.”

“I’m sorry.” Freddy rubbed her sleepy eyes rigorously. Despite her best efforts, she had come off as ungracious. “I…I can’t keep whining like this. It’s awful. I sound like a baby.” She paused and smiled faintly, if not a bit sheepishly. “Tell me, who’s subbing for me? Did they find anyone permanent yet?”

“Professor Vector is overseeing things.” Lupin sat back in his chair, appearing somewhat relieved that they had successfully switched topics at last. “She’s following your curriculum, giving the students readings and assignments, though she hasn’t lectured. It seems as though the Headmaster will keep things as they are until this year is over.”

“She’ll be giving the final exam, then. Tell her she has to assign each student a country to write about. I once let them choose for themselves and everyone picked America or Australia because they couldn’t be bothered with translations.”

Lupin laughed lowly. “I’ll do what I can, though, I must say, I never took you for a strict teacher.”

Freddy ignored his comment. True, she hadn’t been the most involved professor at Hogwarts, but being away from the school had given her time to reflect. She did miss her students, well, at least the ones that didn’t gossip behind her back or fall asleep in class.

And unknowingly, she had infected three of them.

“Meg Carlisle, Cass Roderick and Hermione Granger,” she mumbled. “How are they, Lupin?”

He rolled his shoulders, flicking his surprisingly pink tongue along his lips before responding. “Good. Meg is still in the Hospital Wing, although I think Madam Pomfrey’s looking to release her sometime next week. And both Cass and Hermione have returned to class none the worse for the wear.”

“I feel awful, especially for Hermione. She was a rare, enthusiastic student and…oh God, Mr. Lias!” If she could have, Freddy would have sat straight up in bed. How could she have forgotten Mr. Lias?

Lupin raised his eyebrows slightly. “Oh, the Hogsmeade shopkeeper? From what I’ve heard, his TB wasn’t quite so advanced as Meg’s. But he isn’t in the village anymore…went over to America, I think. Sorry I can’t tell you more.”

“Oh.” Freddy wanted to say more, but she was cut off by another spasm of coughing.

Lupin sat on the edge of his chair as she wheezed, his face taut with worry. “Should I call for the nurse?”

“No, please.” Freddy tried to settle herself once more, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment. “I’m all right…it’s just, what a mess I’ve made of things.”

“No one blames you.”

“Still…I should have known I was contagious.”

Lupin looked at her thoughtfully, his dark eyelashes shading his red-rimmed glance. “You’re sliding back again. All this melancholy can’t be helpful.”

“It certainly isn’t!”

The voice from the door startled them both. Healer Crane was standing just outside the room; his eyes were curiously pinned on Lupin.

Freddy had the feeling that he had been listening to their conversation for several minutes.

“Oh, sorry.” Lupin rose awkwardly, “I didn’t know visiting hours were over.”

Crane checked his watch. “Not entirely. I’m just a little early with my rounds today.”

“You probably should be getting back anyway, Lupin,” Freddy said, trying to disguise her disappointment.

Crane stepped discreetly out of the room.

Lupin studied her closely. “Are you sure?”

“You look tired. It’s no fair of me to take up your only free day.”

Lupin shrugged his thin shoulders. “If you’re positive. I’ll try to make it back next week, but either way I’ll send you an Owl. Take care, Freddy. And please cheer up.” He leaned forward and patted her shoulder lightly.

“Goodbye, Lupin,” she replied, watching him leave.

Oh, if only Crane hadn’t come in! she thought sourly.






Lupin was surprised to see Crane still lingering in the hall when he left Freddy’s room. The Healer was leaning casually against the wall, his eyes directed at a small piece of parchment in his hands, which detailed the lab results of a recent sputum test.

“You are her first visitor,” he mumbled so that Lupin thought the man was only talking to himself. “Are you related?”

Lupin stopped and offered Crane a tight smile. Much like poor Freddy, he wasn’t one for hospitals. They reminded him of his earlier days, when his lycanthropy had been new and the lunar cycle often coincided with trips to St. Mungo’s. Before the Wolfsbane Potion, he often tore himself up pretty badly during transformations and required the attention of healers on more than one occasion.

It wasn’t a pleasant time and being in the sanatorium made him think of straight, long hallways and cold metal tables and scents that assaulted his all-too-sensitive nose.

No wonder Freddy hated it here.

“I’m a colleague,” he replied at length, feeling as though his collar was suddenly too tight. “I teach Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts.”

Crane glanced up at him, his expression unreadable. “Welcome to the sanatorium, then. It’s nice to have such intellectual visitors for a change. The patients get rather oh so sick of healers and nurses. Let me walk you to the door…if you’re on your way out, that is.”

“I wouldn’t want to trouble you,” Lupin put in politely, although he sensed Crane wasn’t one to be easily rid of. “You must be busy.”

“I’ve finished my rounds on this ward for the day. And I don’t mind, really.” The Healer began to walk in the direction of the lift, his steps slow and measured.

Lupin fell in beside him, feeling especially raggedy next to his companion’s crisp white robes and neat gold striped tie.

“It was very considerate of you to stop by,” Crane said as they rounded a corner, hugging the wall to make way for an orderly wheeling an empty gurney. “We usually restrict visiting hours here on the intensive care ward, but I think your visit did Professor Fotherby well. Tell me, how long have you known her?”

The question was phrased in an off-hand manner, but Lupin sensed fierce curiosity in Crane’s voice.

Without changing his own cordial tone, he raised his guard a notch or two. “Not long. I only started at Hogwarts in September.”

“You must have been fast friends.”

“Quite the opposite.”

Crane stopped in front of the lift and pushed a fat, brass button with his knuckle. “She is lonely here. I can see it.”

The observation struck Lupin as slightly odd, though he struggled to keep his features neutral. Certainly Crane realized that all of his patients were in some manner lonely, isolated from family, friends and society in general.

“From what I’ve gathered,” he said quietly, “sanatorium life can be quite harsh.”

Crane laughed at this and stepped into the lift once the door opened. Lupin followed him.

“We try to make it bearable. Fortunately, the days in which consumptives were treated like lepers has passed.”

“The isolation is a bit extreme, though, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Of course.” Crane smiled and stared at his fingernails. “Sanatorium life has its flaws. The methods undertaken during the first half of the century were downright barbaric, actually. I even cautioned the Ministry against opening this facility, though they argued that the caseload was too great for St. Mungo’s alone to bear. Tuberculosis is making a comeback, amongst wizards especially.”

And you’re the brave white knight keeping the dragon at bay, Lupin thought to himself, surveying Crane plainly for the first time. The healer had obviously fallen into the role of hero and as it seemed, was quite accustomed to it by now.

The lift slid to a stop outside the first floor and the doors rolled back on creaking hinges, revealing the lobby; it was once the old gymnasium of the school.

“Well, I ought to be getting back to Hogwarts,” Lupin said as he stepped out of the lift and onto the cool, wooden floors. “Saturdays don’t last forever.”

Crane’s smile widened visibly as he pressed another button and the doors began to shut. “Indeed, they don’t.” 






Author’s Note: I’m sorry if this chapter was a bit on the slow side, although there is only so much I can do with Freddy in her immobilized state. However, I do promise that she will be up and about in no time. ^_^

The “Daily Schedule for Patients” was adapted from a similar schedule used by the Blue Ridge Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Virginia. All sanatoriums, however, imposed strict routines on their patients, promoting the “rest cure”. Since drugs were not available in the first half of the 20th century, the only treatment for consumptives was constant rest in bed. In a Welsh sanatorium, children were actually tied to their beds to keep them for getting up and moving about.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Without your kind support, this story would not have come so far. I also must thank my new beta, soliloquy, who did an absolutely awesome job on this chapter. And I’d also like to thank my returning beta, Renfair, who offered to help me with this story as well.

The next chapter should be posted within the next two weeks. I hope you have a great weekend!


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