Rose was relieved as the many faces staring in her direction turned towards Professor McGonagall, now standing at the head of the hall. It would be an understatement to say her peers were simply shocked at her turnabout. They were utterly flabbergasted.
"As many of you know, the Morbus has infiltrated Hogwarts. Already two of your peers have been infected, and, tragically, one of them succumbed to the dreadful disease. I will not hide the facts from you all! Rose Weasley, the second student to be infected has successfully fought off the Morbus, yes, but that is no reason to get your hopes up! She is one of the lucky few who will do so! This cannot be allowed to spread! That, children, is why there will be several changes coming to Hogwarts. Starting today." She paused momentarily, staring around at the nervous faces. Rose shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
"Classes will start again tomorrow, with the exception of Herbology. Professor Longbottom has bravely volunteered to leave Hogwarts and visit the Ministry. As many of you have either been told or guessed, we aren't receiving replies to our owls. We have lost all contact with the Ministry," several grumbles met this announcement, all of which she ignored, "Also, Healer Perez has brought up an important point. One way we can prevent the spread of this disease--if further cases do arise--is by separating you. If the Morbus does break out amongst you, it will spread rapidly due to your tight living conditions. That is why, beginning immediately, everyone is receiving their own personal dormitory. There are no more Common Rooms. Meals will no longer consist of you congregating in the Great Hall." Rose cringed as she remembered her last meal. "Breakfast will be magically sent to you in the morning, much in the same way the food is sent here. Lunch will be received in the same manner, and there will be several dinners spread throughout the evening, one per grade."
Once again the old witch paused, before flicking her wand. From a bag behind her flew a silver necklace. Carefully she held it up, where it sparkled in the light bouncing off of it. "Everyone is to receive a necklace, and you are to wear it at all times. It is enchanted so that if you do take it off, your names will appear on a list hung in the Entrance Hall. You will be severely punished. This necklace will detect a symptom of the Morbus as soon as it appears, and will let off a shrill whistling sound until it is deactivated by Healer Perez. In other words, the necklace will continue whistling until you visit the Hospital Wing. Lastly, classes are reduced. You now have two classes per day. You will find your new schedule and more details on the changes taking place in your dormitory, which you will be led to by your House Prefects."
There was a lengthy, tense silence as Professor McGonagall turned her back on the students and seated herself. Then, almost as one, they all turned back to their meals.
Rose played silently with her food, trying to ignore the burning feeling of others' gazes on her.
Later that evening, Rose was led to her dormitory by a very frazzled Prefect. She caught a few bits and pieces of what he was muttering as he squinted at the parchment in his hand.
"Bloody list....ridiculous... Finally!"
After what seemed like forever, Rose found herself standing in front of a light blue door. Inscribed in bronze block letters were the following:
6th Year, Ravenclaw
After hesitating a moment, Rose tentatively stuck out her hand and twisted the knob. Swinging it open, she hurried in before closing the door securely behind her. The room was relatively small and dim, her four poster with deep navy blue hangings scooted into the corner. Her trunk and school supplies were there, not to mention a small desk. Overall, it was truly nothing special.
Just as she was about to fling herself onto the bed, Rose spotted a rather thick role of parchment with a small, blue velvet pouch attached to it. Gingerly she picked it up, unrolling the parchment. At first it was completely blank, but suddenly her fingertips tingled and her own personal information scrawled itself across the page.
Welcome to your new dormitory. In the attached pouch is your necklace, which, let me remind you, is mandatory that you wear. No exceptions. It must be worn while you sleep, it must be worn while you shower. The spell will take effect at exactly 9 'o clock this evening. I suggest the necklace be around your neck.'
Rose glanced out at the dark sky warily, before pulling the drawstring off the pouch and scooping out the thin silver chain. Carefully she slipped it over her head, before returning to the parchment.
'Breakfast will arrive in your room at 7:30 every morning, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays. On the weekends, your breakfast will arrive at 9:00. Throughout the entire week your lunch will come at 12:00 sharp. If you look in the small cabinet beneath your desk, you'll find all your silverware and other necessary items for your meals. Dinner for 6th years will be served in the Great Hall at 7:30. Please don't be later, every group has only 25 minutes to eat.
Your new schedule can be found on the second piece of parchment. It will take effect immediately.
Professor Minerva McGonagall'
Having resigned herself to all this change, Rose sighed audibly and unfurled the second parchment.
Rose was finally settling into the new routine--when yet another altercation came knocking on her door.
Rose was lazily playing with her hair in Defense Against the Dark Arts, trying to not pay attention to the tall black man teaching their class. It was Monday, and DADA was her morning class. Suffice to say, she was not at all in the mood to be sitting on a hard wooden chair in a chilly classroom. One of the many things Rose had not inherited from her mother was Hermione's obsessive work ethic.
Rose snapped out of her trance and turned to face the Professor, who always seemed to have a cruel glint in his dark, slanting eyes when addressing her.
"Yes, Professor Zabini?" She said innocently.
The man winced involuntarily. Taking a deep breath he furrowed his brows. "I trust there's something very interesting outside, Miss Weasley? Why else would you be staring out of the window," he gestured towards the chilled glass next to her, "when you should be paying attention to this lesson?"
She shrugged mutely, directing her gaze down at the desk before her. A tense silence blanketed the room, before Professor Zabini turned his back quickly and continued on. Rose exchanged a wide eyed glance with Franky. He almost always gave out some sort of punishment! Franky quickly scribbled something onto a piece of parchment, before shoving it in Rose's direction.
'What's up with Zabini?'
'I'm not sure... Maybe he's just not in the mood for giving detentions. All the teachers've been acting odd because of the... because of the thing,' Rose wrote before tossing it back in Franky's direction.
'It's not just that. Look at him!'
Rose raised her eyes slowly, her stomach clenching as she carefully inspected the Professor's appearance. He had a sheen of sweat on his skin, and she could just see, if she looked close enough--he was trembling. He could barely hold his wand. Even as she watched, the trembling seemed to get worse.
"Professor Zabini?" Franky asked hesitantly.
"Y-yes?" He swallowed with obvious difficulty, turning towards them.
"Are you feeling alright?"
A few students who hadn't been paying attention snapped their heads up, regarding the Professor warily. His eyes narrowed almost immediately. "Of course I'm feeling alright." And he turned abruptly away. But it was too late, now all the other students were noticing. A few girls near the front whimpered slightly and inched their seats back.
It was a few minutes later--when most had begun to relax--when it happened. Professor Zabini was in the middle of an explanation that no one was listening to, when he suddenly swayed eerily. Everyone stopped what they were doing. Reaching out a shaking hand, Professor Zabini gripped the edge of his desk tightly, his entire arm now trembling violently. A few students called out to him, but he was deaf to their cries.
And then, he fainted.
A piercing scream erupted from the girl nearest him, who scrambled away from his crumpled form. She fled the room, followed by a few others.
"What the hell are we supposed to do?" Franky asked frantically, inching slowly towards the door. "What do we do? Is he dead? Does he have--does he--"
"Shut up!" Rose yelled. Everyone had started speaking at the exact same time. At her yell, silence enveloped them.
"Everyone, leave. Now." She growled threateningly.
"But what about Professor? Do we just leave him here?"
Rose hesitated, biting her lip. Over the past few days she'd been seriously considering what she would do if someone else became sick, but she didn't think it would happen so soon! But, if she really thought about it, what else could she do?
"I'll take care of it. Now leave!"
They didn't stop to question her. More than happy to be putting distance between themselves and the Professor, her classmates fled the classroom. All but Franky.
"Rose? What the exactly do you think you're doing?"
"Franky." Her voice was low, dangerous. "I know what I'm doing! Please, just leave!" Franky opened her mouth to retort, but Rose cut her off. "You read the bloody article. I cannot get infected again. You can. Go!"
Franky stared at her doubtfully for a moment, before turning slowly and walking out the door, wringing her hands.
Rose sprang into action. Approaching the Professor, she rolled him over. His head lolled limply. Stepping back a foot or two, she drew out her wand. "Wingardium Leviosa!" The middle-aged wizard slowly floated upwards, his arms hanging uselessly by his sides. Slowly Rose directed him towards the door, which had been thrown wide open by her classmates scuffle. Outside, she lowered him onto the stone floor before turning to face the door. With a wave of her wand, it locked. In the air before it, she carefully traced the following message in glowing red flames:
'DO NOT ENTER! SOMEONE HAS FALLEN ILL IN THIS ROOM!'
Just in time, too, for seconds later classes let out, and students came streaming into the hallway. Panicking, Rose waved her wand and levitated Professor Zabini above their heads, preventing him from being trampled.
"Back away! Back away! He's sick, get away!"
All the way to the Hospital Wing she cried this, trying her best to keep her jumbled nerves together. The youngest students fled in a panic at the mere sight of the unconscious Professor, while older students simply stared in shock, pressing themselves against the stone walls.
It was a long walk.
Rose stared up at the ceiling in the Hospital Wing. It was evening now. Her stomach growled uncomfortably.
She had managed to make it to the Hospital Wing without anything bad happening. Once inside she had set him on the nearest bed before sprinting for Healer Perez, who was in her supply room. Panting, she had begged to be able to help. And so she had. At first, the Healer had been doubtful, but quickly relented. It was only sensible.
Professor Zabini had been tossing and turning all day; he'd fallen out of bed twice already! He was still sweating profusely. Occasionally shivers would wrack his body, and every hour on the hour, they took his vitals.
Healer Perez insisted she get some rest, being as it was very late. So, unwillingly, Rose lay her head down on one of the cots. Before long she was asleep.
It didn't last long.
"Rose! Wake up!"
Groaning, Rose sat up slowly, squinting around the wing. Through the window she could just see the first streaks of pink against the deep blue sky. She snapped her head around the the choked gagging sound coming from Professor Zabini's bed. The man was puking into a wide basin on the floor, Healer Perez watching worriedly from just outside the Quarantine Bubble.
"He's awake?" Rose murmured, standing beside the Healer.
"I don't know. He's been acting strangely. His fever hasn't gone down... He might not understand anything right now. He could be..."
"Delirious," Rose finished, gazing sadly at the stooped over wizard. As much as she disliked him, this was too much! No one deserved to go through this.
"I want... want... water... "
Rose quickly hurried over to him with a cup, murmuring 'Aguamenti' as she went. Screwing up her nose at the scent, Rose tipped his head back and placed the cup to his lips. After a few seconds of gulping, he froze suddenly, staring up at her.
"Professor Zabini? Can you hear me? Professor? It's me--"
"Mother?" The word was so faint as it slipped from his parched lips, Rose barely heard it. Furrowing her eyebrows, she shook her head slowly. "No, no. Professor Zabini, it's--"
"Mother! Why--" He coughed harshly, his face screwing up from the force of it. "Mother, why are you at Hogwarts?" What looked to be an attempt at an arrogant sneer flitted across his face. "You need to control yourself Mother. I'll be back for Christmas vacation. You can't possibly miss me--"
"Professor Zabini!" Rose was scared. He--he thought... It was unfathomable! "I'm not your Mother! It's Rose! Rose Weasley!"
"Weasley?" He scoffed, "Why are we talking about that family? Blood-traitors, the lot of them. You know that. Can you believe Weasel King and his disgusting tart of a sister are actually friends with Mudblood Granger?" Rose felt her jaw clench involuntarily at the slur. "Disgusting. But nevermind that. Why are you here?"
Rose let the cup she had been clenching fall from her hand. Backing away, she stared at him wordlessly. He was completely, utterly delirious. Could this even be described as delirium? He honestly, truly, believed he was back 30 years ago, his schoolboy days! It was unnerving.
"Rose? What's happening?"
Rose hadn't realized it, but the entire exchange, however climactic it had been for her, had been quite quiet. Shakily she turned to the Healer.
"H-He thinks he's a s-student again. He called me 'Mother.' He c-called my parents-" She stopped and shot him a venomous glare.
"Oh dear..." Healer Perez sighed. "We're going to need to do something-" The Healer's eyes widened and she pushed Rose further away from the bubble. Professor Zabini had risen into a stooped standing position, swaying and shaking. He took ragged breaths, his breath hot and foul.
"Who the bloody hell are you people?" He rasped, glancing around wildly. "Where am I? Why am I here?" He was becoming more and more aggravated by the second.
"Blaise," Healer Perez said placatingly, holding her hand up. It was trembling ever so slightly. "Blaise, listen to me. You need to calm down. It's Isabel. You're a Hogwarts professor, remember? You're Head of Slytherin."
"You're mad! I don't know you! Where am I?" He roared these last words aloud, stumbling forward.
"Blaise Zabini, if you come one step closer I'll be forced to do something neither one of us wants!" Healer Perez shrieked, raising her wand. "You're in the Hospital Wing! You're sick! Please, sit down and be still!"
"Sick? Me? Bollocks. You're feeding me a bunch of lies, and I do not like it." He growled, taking another step forward. The Healer's reaction was instantaneous.
Professor Zabini froze, falling to the floor with a thud. His eyes darted around wildly before abruptly rolling back into his head. Rose glanced at the Healer questioningly, approaching him once she received a nod.
His body immediately relaxed, but he did not wake. She bent down and gently pried back his eyelid. His eye was rolled back, completely unmoving. Pressing her finger to this throat, she stared at him for a moment. She picked up his arm, pressing her thumb hard into his wrist. Panicking now, she stooped down and pressed her ear to his chest.
The sudden shock had taken all the strength remaining from his heart.
Author's Note: Well, here's Chapter 3! I hope you like! I'm note really sure what my opinion of this chapter is...
If it feels like the story's moving a little slowly for you, don't worry, it should pick up soon!
If you would like to see roughly when the next chapter will come out, as well as sneak-peeks of up and comings, please visit my blog on the HPFF forums. The link can be found on my author page.