Chapter 3 : Three
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“It’s fine,” you hissed through gritted teeth. The potion he poured on your leg emitted a foul yellow smoke, curling toward the ceiling in little wisps and sudden rings. You endured it’s sickening smell and burning heat three times daily and, truth be told, if it would have accelerated the healing at all you would have poured it on by the bucketful.
“All done,” James said apologetically, setting the bottle down on the coffee table and getting to his feet. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go throw up now,” he teased, nodding matter of factly.
He let himself out your front door. When he came back in ten minutes later, rubbing his palms together against the cold, Lupin was trailing a few paces behind him. The nearly constant watch Lily had you under was infuriating. When you’d left last night, hands trembling as the surge of adrenaline receded, you hadn’t expected to find Lupin in your guest room when you got home.
He apologized immediately, explaining his presence in a few rambling paragraphs that all seemed to end with “we tried to convince her otherwise, but…” In the end, you shook your head and told him to get some rest but when he informed you over breakfast that James would be taking the day shift because he’d found temporary work, you found yourself resenting the situation a fair bit more.
James left a few minutes later. Remus, not necessarily your first choice in companions, smiled jovially and took the empty potion bottle back into the kitchen, rinsing it in the sink. “Do you want something to eat?” he asked, wiping the bottle down with a cloth. You rolled your pant leg back down over the bandages and put your weight against it tentatively before starting to walk in earnest.
“Let’s go out,” you suggested. Lupin frowned, as you could always expect him to. “Come on. It’s my treat.” You knew your offer would be rebuffed but with nothing but sedentary activity to look forward to and the hours already passing too slowly, the immediate future looked bleak.
Lupin shook his head again, grinning a little. “If I let you leave she’ll hex me into next week – and I already come up with enough bad luck on my own, thanks.”
You groaned and slumped into the nearest kitchen chair.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked, sounding sincere as he dug into the depths of your pantry for something edible.
For a few seconds, you considered answering him in the affirmative – thinking of how nice it would be to have the perspective of someone not so entirely entrapped in the situation. Fortunately, reason returned to you before you did and you shook your head. “Thanks, but it’s not a big deal,” you replied, picking at the edge of the table. “Catch a hex, get a limp…I’m not worried about it.”
“How is the leg doing?” he asked. You weren’t sure if he’d posed the question that way intentionally or not – like the leg wasn’t what he’d been referring to all along.
“Healing,” you answered. “Hurts less when people stop poking at it.”
He chuckled. It was the nature, both of your birthright and your individual lifestyles that the four of you encountered danger and injury on a regular basis. James took bludgers to the head on more than one occasion, and less than 1/3rd of those happened on the pitch. And, while Peter could break a limb walking down an empty hallway, when it came to finding someone who could truly appreciate the impact of a serious injury, Lupin was the one to find.
“Lily just worries,” he explained, working his way through a mountain of potatoes, dropping the peels one by one into a cereal bowl. “She doesn’t like to think any one of us could get hurt – and then,” he added with exaggerated importance, “you go and almost lose your leg.”
You missed your cue to laugh by a few beats but he let your delayed reaction suffice and kept peeling potatoes.
“What was the work you found?” When flipping through the Prophet lost its appeal a few minutes later, you turned your attention back to conversation.
It was his turn to feel off his ease. He’d moved on from the potatoes to trimming a hunk of meat much less carefully. His hand froze for a few seconds before he answered you, tense and uncomfortable. “Nothing interesting.”
“Huh,” you grunted in response, pulling your wand out of your pocket and aiming it at the still open pantry. “Accio Crisps,” you said, catching them as the whizzed across the kitchen. “Where did I get a roast anyway?”
“Lily,” he answered.
You regretted the question for the rest of the evening and begged off to go to bed as soon as the opportunity presented itself. You weren’t tired, but once in your room, you realized there was little else to do so, knowing how much it would please Lily, and making a mental note to never tell her, you opened the bottle of sleeping potion she’d pressed into your hands before letting you leave last night and took a few gulps.
Sleep caught up with you somewhere between pages one and forty-seven. When you woke up again, it was still dark outside the window. Your watch read half-past four. The springs of the mattress creaked as you sat up, throwing your leg over the edge of the bed again, the floor cold under your toes as you balanced on the wood.
Leaning on the nearest sturdy object – an umbrella – you limped down the hallway quietly and into the kitchen. Lupin’s door was closed, so you didn’t hesitate to open the refrigerator, pulling out the cold plate of roast. You peeled the plastic wrap back and snuck a few slices into your palm before setting it back on the shelf and shutting the door.
A hoarse voice came from the living room. You nearly jumped out of your skin, whirling on whomever it was – umbrella brandished like a sword.
“Merlin! Let’s not take this too seriously.”
It was Peter. “What the hell are you doing here?” you almost shouted, your breath coming raggedly. Suddenly, your leg throbbed.
“Shh! Remus asked me to come. He had to go – something with Dumbledore… They didn’t want you left alone….What?”
“They?” you asked, pointedly.
“Yeah, Lupin, James and Lily,” he answered. The more he spoke, the more your head began to pulse as well – like someone had your temples pressed into a vice. “They left about an hour ago…Sirius, what?”
“They left at three-thirty in the morning and this didn’t strike you as odd? You’re a dolt, Peter – you really are.”
“What?” he asked again as you pushed past him, headed back toward the bedroom as quickly as you could muster, abandoning your makeshift walking stick.
“You think Dumbledore calls James and Lily at three thirty in the morning for no good reason? Do you really?” You dug through the couch cushions, finding a shirt sleeve and tugging it on inside out. “Damnit, where’s my wand…”
“I don’t understand what the big deal is?” Peter started, following a few paces behind. “You should lie down…”
You didn’t answer him, pulling on your jacket and shoving the wand into the pocket. “You need to go, right now – go to the Weasley’s. Someone will be there with the boys. Ask Molly what’s happening. She’ll be able to explain.”
The end of his sentence was cut off by the crack as you blinked out of existence. The next thing you heard was the sound of your own scream as the force with which you were propelled forward tore at your leg and compressed your lungs. When the movement stopped, your feet gave out beneath you and you crashed to the ground.
The lobby was overflowing. There were people everywhere you looked, popping in and out of existence, rushing from one place to another. The staff, in their pristine white uniforms, flitted from one person to the next, shouting to one another over the cacophony. Struggling to stand up, you leaned against a gurney, searching for a glimpse of her crimson hair among the bodies.
“You need medical attention.”
“No, I don’t,” you shot back, inching forward a few steps without even looking at her.
“You do,” she protested, taking hold of your arm and jerking you back. You shook her off, and struggled a few paces more. The pain shot, like lightning, through your back before racing back down to your ankle once more, controlled breathing did little to control it. The nurse was still trying to drag you back to the gurney.
“Do you want to help me?” you asked, turning towards her. She didn’t answer, looking confused. “Lily Evans.” She was still confused. “Have you seen her?” you pressed further. “Red hair, pretty….”
You wanted to shake her as you waited for her answer but knew you weren’t strong enough to let go of the wall. Wand clutched in one hand you waited for what seemed like an eternity before she answered. “I…I don’t know…” she stammered, “Most of the healers are upstairs. We’re just doing triage dow-You need medical attention!”
You’d broken from her grasp, and released the wall, pressing your way through the bodies, doing everything you could to ignore the pain or the warm liquid now clinging to your pant leg – blood. Five steps. Now four. Three more before you’d reach the elevators. “Wounded only!” a witch shouted at you as you approached.
“The leg” you growled back, bracing yourself against the closed door. Her expression changed immediately as she gestured you forward, helping you into the open carriage.
“Fourth floor,” she instructed you.
“Uh-huh,” you mumbled, mashing the button with the ornate G impressed upon it.
When the door opened, the scene was much the same, albeit less chaotic. You lurched forward, propelling yourself toward an unlikely looking orderly behind the desk. He may have been the only person in the entire hospital who didn’t look frantic. “Do you have a roster of the Healers checked in tonight?” He glanced up, annoyed, and then withdrew a sheet of parchment and a clipboard from the desk. “Evans. Lily Evans.”
“Not checked in.” His answer was utterly unapologetic as he replaced the clipboard amidst the stacks of papers.
Frustrated and exhausted you turned on your heel to find yourself faced with Caradoc Dearborn. “Sirius, what the bloody hell are you doing here? I thought you were laid up?” he asked, far more calmly than you felt was called for.
You gestured toward your jeans, now utterly soaked with blood. “I came to find out what happened,’ you explained, lying only as much as was necessary. “Help if I could.”
Dearborn shook his head. “Ironically, nothing impressive.” You gestured for him to continue. “An accident at Slug and Jiggers. Someone mishandled some Bundimun and Ashwinder eggs. The whole place went up in smoke but before they could get the fire out, enough jars ruptured to blow the building sky high. Kind of funny, if you think about it,” he added, dusting soot off his sleeve. “We’re in the middle of one of the darkest ages magic has ever seen and some third year sets Diagon Alley on fire…”
“What did Dumbledore want Lily for?” Once again, you received a perplexed look into what you were sure was an entirely reasonable question.
“Dunno. Dumbledore isn’t in London s’far as I know.”
“Sirius Ignatius Black!” It was Dearborn’s turn to whirl around as Lily’s unmistakable shout rose above the clamour of voices in the crowded room.
“I think I’ll leave you to deal with that one,” he joked, patting your shoulder hardily before walking away. You winced.
Lily grabbed you by the arm and dragged you forcibly to an almost empty room. “I would ask you what the hell you were thinking but it’s obviously that you weren’t,” she chided, rummaging in a drawer beneath the handwash sink. When she found what she was looking for, she turned on you, still furious. “Sit down,” she ordered. “Episky!” Setting her wand aside, she opened a jar.
“Smells like mint jelly,” you observed as she propped your foot up on her knee and rolled back your pant leg.
“You’re right. I should take you by the pound – they’ll think you’re a roast,” she shot pack, using a gauze pad to spread a thick layer of the mysterious gel on your leg before setting your foot back on the floor.
“Lily,” you protested, dropping the joking tone.
“No. Stop it.” Getting up, she surveyed her work. “Comfortable?” she asked, still terse.
The question caught you off guard and it was your turn to look the fool. “Reasonably, why?” you answered cautiously.
“Because you deserve this,” she answered, withdrawing her wand again. “Petrificus Totalus!”
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