Chapter 1 : Rising From the Ashes
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You’re making your way up to Spell Damage to start your rounds when you spot him walking down the corridor, his figure lit by an army of flickering fluorescents. He’s staring avidly at the chart clasped in his hands, and his eyes fly across the page, devouring all the information he is presented with. His pace is slow, and he is so preoccupied by the chart that he neglects to notice the sound of your quick, light steps as you approach him.
‘Is that you clocking off now?’ you ask him.
His eyes flicker up briefly to meet yours, as if it’s a chore for him to pay attention to anything other than the chart that he grips so tightly; you can’t quite understand his reluctance, as charts and paperwork are the only aspects of being a Healer that you would gladly do without. However, when he sees that it’s you, he flashes you a casual grin that sets his whole face alight, and yours in turn.
‘Unfortunately not, Rosie - I’m on call tonight.’
‘Ah, tough luck, but in that case, I’ll probably see you in the lounge later.’
‘Right you are, love. Don’t tire yourself out too much.’
He summons a last vestige of energy and pulls you into a one-armed hug, before giving you that smile of his.
‘I can’t promise you anything,’ you reply, laughing and he joins in before dragging his much-taller-than-you frame off down the hall.
He may be shattered, but in your opinion, and the opinion of numerous other witches working at Saint Mungo’s, he more than manages to pull off the uniform of lime green robes. It reminds you of why he was the first boy that you and all of your female cousins ever fancied. You were the ripe old age of eight and had just completed your time in your first ‘boys are yucky’ phase of life, (you are yet to find out that there are many more of these phases to come) and he was the gorgeous sixteen-year-old who could change his appearance at will and was nice to everyone.
You’ve both grown up a lot since then, and your relationship is different from the one you envisaged as a young girl, but you’re still close. You certainly see him more than anyone else. He works with you, and at best, work takes up a lot of your life.
Your mum thinks it’s wonderful that you put so much effort into your job, but your Aunt Ginny loves to nag on you to go out and have some fun and get yourself a boyfriend. Uncle Harry just laughs at the two of them as your Dad turns a violent shade of maroon at the mere thought of you in a relationship. What the majority of your family is blissfully unaware of is that you do have a boyfriend of sorts. It’s just not the type of relationship that you want to write home about.
He’s a Healer too. An older one. You’re just having fun. Teddy knows about it; he says that he’s not good enough for you, but you’re smart and can manage your love life perfectly well without his advice. You’re aware that he’s just trying to help you, but you know best, and Teddy tends too get overly emotional about this sort of thing anyway. His approval would be nice, but it’s not like you need it to justify your actions.
You reach the stairs and take them in twos until you find yourself on the fourth floor, where the eerily abandoned stairwell opens onto a silent corridor. Your progress towards the Medi-Witch’s station is steady, but upon seeing Healer Weaver lounging up against the station, filling out paperwork, your speed increases. The sight of him gives you butterflies, and though you don’t think that you’ve ever been in love - twenty is so young after all - you would bet that this is the closest you’ve ever been.
You glance around quickly to see if there’s anyone else nearby before parking yourself up beside him at the station and preparing for the disagreement that is sure to occur, but you are reluctant to partake in it. The only reaction your presence seems to deserve is a visual sweep of the corridor, and he mimics your earlier move of checking to see if there is anyone else in the vicinity. Still no one.
‘Hello, Rose,’ he says distractedly, going back to his paperwork.
You look up at him for a second before raising yourself up onto your tiptoes and stretch over the counter to grab your pile of charts for the night. You may not want to play it cool, but you’ll be damned if you’re going to make a fool of yourself.
‘You didn’t turn up last night,’ you say without looking at him, a blush rising to your cheeks at the clinginess implied by your words. You feel that you have claim to at least an apology. However you know that he’ll give you one anyway in an attempt to subdue you.
He keeps on filling in a seemingly endless series of letters and numbers on the parchment before him; his priorities are clear.
‘I know. Sorry about that. I was busy.’
‘I waited for you.’
You can’t quite summon the courage to look at him; so much for Gryffindor Pride. He finally lifts his eyes from the work that had been getting on your nerves and fixes you with a condescending stare that you can feel burning through the side of your head. In a miraculous feat, it also manages to quietly murder the few weak butterflies that remained.
‘Of course you were, darling, but some of us don’t have all the time in the world to do as we please.’
‘How about tomorrow, then?’ you ask, unable to extract the pathetic ring of hope that forms at the same moment the words do.
‘About that… I need to speak to you when you finish your shift.’ His voice falters uncharacteristically, and your stomach lurches at the sound.
‘Can’t we do it now?’
‘No. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and you should be well into your rounds by now. I’ve kept you back enough.’
He turns on his heel and marches off in the opposite direction to the one you arrived, but you cannot help but call a few futile words at his retreating back before he disappears out of sight.
‘I don’t mind.’
Your movements are hurried and erratic as you stumble your way down the private hall that leads to the staff room. The door seems to be stuck, and your gentle coaxing does nothing to move it. You treat it to a kick and the resulting crack echoes down the hall, but you fail to hear it because you’ve already found your way into the staff room.
You make your way over to the sink at the far side of the room and splash copious amounts of water on your flustered face, as if trying to wake yourself from a nightmare.
An awful, unbelievable nightmare.
You’re not sure what to think or what to do, and so you stand there, hands on either side of the basin to prop you up, and stare blankly at the awful peach coloured wall in front of you. He said he needed to talk to you, but you had barely even considered this outcome. For the first time since you proclaimed the need for your independence, and that proclamation was accepted by your family, you feel like you need comfort. Desperately.
You’ve never been one for crying; your parents weren’t terribly forthcoming about showing the particular emotion that it related to. Neither are you it seems. You don’t cry now, but you wilt a little bit, and your insides ache. You recall all of those naïve girls in your past, who, stupid with love, wept over men and participated in what you believed to be nothing more than amateur dramatics. You feel sorry for them now.
Apart from that minor regret, you don’t know what to think or what to do.
‘Rosie, love, are you alright?’ someone mutters groggily from behind you. Of course you can’t see them, but you’re almost definite about who it is.
‘Oh, Sorry! Did I wake you? I didn’t see you there.’
You don’t think you’re up for an ‘I told you so’ moment just yet, so you brush over Teddy’s question like it never existed. It’s unlikely that he’ll let the subject drop if you continue to appear as downtrodden as you feel, so you turn around and give him a bright smile to accompany your words.
‘You, did, but don’t worry about it. What’s wrong with you?’
‘What are you talking about? I’m fine. Really.’
‘Why is it that you always think that you can cope with everything alone? That you have to cope with everything alone?’ he asks in a voice thick with sleep and aggravation.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ you snap at Teddy, turning your back on him.
You lift the kettle beside you on the worktop and add water to its empty shell before putting it on the stove to boil. You can feel his eyes on you the whole time, and all you want to do is shout at him to stop. To leave you alone. You don’t want to talk about. But you can’t because that would betray the truth of what you’re feeling, and you can get through it without him. It’s none of his business, no matter what he and his nine extra years of life experience think to the contrary.
‘It’s Nicholas, isn’t it?’ Teddy asks. His voice is soft, but you know that an affirmative answer will unleash the anger pent up inside of him.
‘No, unfortunately for you, it’s not.’
‘Don’t give me all of that rubbish. You need to grow up. I never wanted him to be as much of a prat to you as he’s been to everyone else, so don’t start on that.'
‘I’m not starting anything!’
‘Honestly, I thought you had managed to get past the stage when everyone else was just a hindrance in the Great Life of Rose Weasley. Clearly, I was wrong.’
‘No, you just want to be wrong! Do you want the truth? It is about Nicholas and I don’t want to talk about it with you. You can pout all you want, but it’s not happening,’ your anger is seeping out of every pore and you're not sure how much longer you can hold it back.
‘If you think this is pouting, you haven’t been acquainted with yourself. You should never have gotten yourself involved with that git in the first place.’
‘I know! So you’ve said! But it was my choice and I don’t regret it.’
‘Then you’re very foolish, even more so than I thought. You weren’t the first to make that mistake, and you won’t be the last.’
And you storm out of the room because you don’t know what else to do and can’t think up a better option.
You haven’t spoken to Teddy in over two weeks, thanks to a lot of shift swapping and a fair bit of luck, although your willingness to cover for a Senior Healer has left you vulnerable to a meeting; something you have worked so hard to avoid.
You find that your social life has depleted to almost nothing in the last fortnight. You’ve skipped the ritual of Sunday dinner at Grandma Weasley’s. In fact, you’ve conveniently managed to miss all family occasions. The depressing truth is that now you aren’t spending your time with Nicholas. You have more of it than you know what to do with. You find yourself more likely to accept his offer of going back to the way things were with each passing day.
You check the shift rota upon your arrival in the morning, and as you had suspected, both Healer Weaver and Healer Lupin are names featuring on the parchment. You never have been the sort of person who seemed to attract good luck, but you didn’t think that you would ever have this sort of misfortune either.
You spend the day like the countless others before it. Recently, they seem to have taken on a life of their own, stretching themselves into fatiguing, never-ending periods of time that appear to be much longer than a meager twenty four hours. At least your shifts at the hospital are less lonely than when you’re at home, but not even the distraction can halt your increasingly dismal train of thought. It’s only now beginning to dawn on you that not making any effort to stay in touch with your friends whilst you were in Healer training was not the best decision that you could have made.
You have less than an hour left to go on your shift, and just as you wish the time would drag, it starts flying past you in a blur of ticking seconds and shortened minutes, which disappear in the blink of an eye. You finish persuading Mr. Jennings to take his afternoon dose of potion in, what seems to be, a period of time much shorter than usual, when in reality it took half an hour. Time is creeping up on you, and you want to do anything other than go home.
You reluctantly glance at the clock as you pass the Medi-Witch’s station, and it tells you a different story to the one you would like to see. You decide to ignore it and, instead, continue on your way to scrounge some menial task from another overworked Healer; it’s the only way to delay your return to your hideously empty apartment. You lower your eyes in an attempt to get past the desk unnoticed, but the Medi-Witch turns out to be a sadist intent on sending you home.
‘You should clock off now. Your shift finished fifteen minutes ago and you look an absolute state,’ she says in the needlessly blunt manner that Medi-Witches use to deliver information.
There’s not much you can do because she just gave you a clear indication that if you don’t listen to her, you will be reported to your boss as an overworked Healer, and no matter the truth behind it, it will still force another day off upon you. So you leave.
You take the stairs to the bottom floor in order to get to a fireplace, but once you reach the reception you find yourself weighted to the ground with hesitation. You can’t spend another night home alone rationing yourself just enough wine to prevent a headache the next morning. You won’t do it.
Your hurried retreat takes the person standing behind you by surprise and they stumble, but you pretend you don’t hear their obnoxious profanities as you mumble an apology and leave.
You rush straight past the Welcome Witch and take the corner sharply, causing you to crash straight into someone. Straight into him. Teddy. And although he’s not the person you were looking for and you don’t know how he’s going to react to you, you find a secret smile tugging at your lips.
‘Sorry,’ you breathe as you look up at him with nothing better to say.
You doubt that he noticed it was you, that he had collided with up until this point, because the sound of your voice seems to make him start, and the brief smile he gives you - before he realises that you’re still not talking - causes your stomach to flip.
‘Don’t worry about it.’
It’s awkward, but you’re not about to belittle the only sort of human interaction that you’ve had in so long. It’s when the silence becomes awkwardly disappointing that you begin to regret this impromptu run-in, so you attempt to direct attention away from the obvious lack of words with a few particularly painful ones of your own.
‘Well, I’m just going to… go now. I-I’ll see you, I suppose.’
For the second time in ten minutes you head to the reception of the hospital with the intention of making your way home, and although you’re doing so alone, you can’t help but feel that you’ve made the right decision. Nicholas Weaver can find some other idiot to take advantage of.
‘Rose!’ a voice calls from behind you.
You feel something akin to hope caught in your throat and suddenly realise what it means when people say their hearts are in their mouths. You steel yourself, and as you spot who called you, the hope you feel is justified.
And it’s Teddy because he’s always the one there to catch you and to pick up the pieces, and it’s Teddy because, without realising it, you seem to orbit around him, a fact which has become abundantly clear recently.
‘We can’t leave it like this again. I’m sorry. I was so far out of order that I was embarrassed to admit it.’
‘Merlin, no! It was me! Me being the stupid, stubborn, immature idiot that I always am - you were right. He’s a total bastard.’
‘Rosie, at this point I don’t even care who was right and who was wrong. I’ve missed you too much to give a damn. And you should have seen the looks I was getting at The Burrow for upsetting you!’
You both laugh at that. No matter how much everyone loves Teddy, they seem to think that you are desperately in love with him and an incident like this would only have indicated that he had wronged you romantically, in their minds. The truth of the matter is that you’re beginning to wonder if they’re not too far off on the matter of love. It feels like love. It could be love. You don’t know.
‘I’ve missed you too.’
If you weren’t so wary of rejection you would kiss him right now, even with the whole hospital watching, but it doesn’t matter because he’s not scared and he kisses you anyway.
So, what's the verdict on the second person? Did it work or not?