Chapter 4 : Resignations
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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 The methods I have described in this story are a mixture of both modern regimens and outdated procedures from the heyday of the sanatorium.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.
Forbia “Freddy” Fotherby - Melanie Lynskey
Healer Calum Crane - Peter Facinelli
Nurse Jenkins - Samantha Morton
Remus Lupin - James D'Arcy
Lavinia Wainwright - Naomi Watts
Professor Trelawney - Emma Thompson
Professor McGonagall - Maggie Smith
Chapter Four Resignations
The coming of summer offered a sweet promise of hope for Freddy. From her room's window, she could see the sanatorium grounds turn a healthy shade of green, or the moors beyond, waxing violet and red with heather. It often rained and if she kept her window open at night, the droplets would carry with them the faint scent of flowers. Rumor had it that the tiny village, some five miles away, had gone all out this year for May Day.
Freddy was reminded of a May Day she had spent in Germany several years ago. The Walpurgisnacht celebration included the traditional lighting of bonfires and may pole dancing. She still an album of photographs she had managed to snap that night, one of which was published along with an article that detailed the wizarding origins of Saint Walpurga.
The trip to the Rhineland was one of her favorites, although now she found herself indulging in melancholy, wishing she could give wing to her memories and fly away abroad.
But things weren’t too bad now. Not too ghastly, as Crane had said during his last examination. She’d shown some improvement in her pulmonary function tests and he was confident that the latest round of prescribed antibiotics would start to clean up her right lung.
Freddy was pleased to have some good news for once, but she was more pleased when she received a letter from Sibyl Trelawney the last week in May. Her Inner Eye was being most vocal, suggesting that she visit Freddy during the first weekend in June, when the stars were kindly arranged and her aura was at its strongest.
And, much as Freddy had expected, Trelawney came sweeping into her room a day early.
“Were you expecting me?” she asked, kissing her favorite former pupil on the cheek and squeezing her hand tightly.
Freddy winced slightly as Trelawney’s heavy rings cut into her knuckles. “Of course. You always show up early. I should know. See, I even had the nurse bring in an extra chair and some tea for you.”
Trelawney beamed, tossing her pastel colored wrap over her shoulder with the mien of a Russian Empress. “Dear Forbia, I see your Eye is in excellent condition after all. I was a bit worried, you know, all this talk of medicine…antibiotics and what-not.” She sniffed, noticing a series of corked bottles on Freddy’s nightstand. “I see you’re following instructions, for once.”
“Only because I absolutely have to,” Freddy said, leaning back against her propped up pillows. She felt somewhat strange receiving Trelawney while she was in bed, but the solarium was awfully crowded at this hour and she didn’t need Lavinia Wainwright and her coterie eavesdropping. “You know how I feel about rules.”
“Well,” Trelawney sat and turned her attention to the small tea tray the nurse had left on the bureau, “we don’t need you rebelling right now. Tuberculosis is serious enough.”
“Yeah,” Freddy replied with a snort, her fingers automatically touching the long, thin scar on her chest.
Only one lung left.
“I’ve missed school terribly,” she continued with a cough. “I didn’t think I would. It’s a surprise. Has Dumbledore replaced me yet?”
Trelawney looked up from a crumpet she was buttering. “Replace is such a harsh word,” she said. “The Headmaster is merely looking for a substitute to take your place until you return to us…which will be soon, I’m sure.”
“Who is he interviewing?” Freddy pressed. She was eager to size-up her competition, even if it was from afar. There was something particularly pathetic about concerning herself over her job…something she had little to no control over. Unfortunately for her, she hadn’t exactly been the best Professor of International Magic, having only really connected with a handful of her students over the years.
Dumbledore and McGonagall, however, thought her methods were effective and she had taught the course at Hogwarts for five years…well, four and half, actually.
“Have some tea,” Trelawney insisted, her eyes widening slightly behind her glittery spectacles.
Freddy accepted a cup from her (the china was an awful uniform white and on the bottom of the cup, Yorkshire Wizarding Sanatorium for Consumptives was inscribed in block letters) but did not drink. “I want to know who he’s interviewing. Please, mollify me.”
“You have completely lost your talent for conversation,” Trelawney remarked, waving a sugar spoon at her. “I thought you’d simply be happy to see me.”
Freddy blushed. It was true. She had become a horrible grouch lately. “Sorry,” she said softly. “I haven’t talked to anyone in a while. The other patients are so nosy. And Healer Crane makes me nervous.”
“Hmm,” Trelawney sipped her breakfast tea. “I’ve sensed his aura from afar. It’s positively radiant!”
“Well, he is good looking.”
“Pretty is as pretty does.”
Freddy gaped at her, thrilled by her common sense. It was most welcome in an often unpleasant environment. “Yeah, you’re right,” she mumbled. “Pretty is as pretty does.”
“You don’t like him?” Trelawney asked. Her face was slightly pinched, inquisitive.
Freddy tasted her tea to disguise her thoughtful frown. “I’d rather not talk about him. It’s boring to rehash the same old things.”
“Fine, then we’ll discuss your Inner Eye. Have you been doing any exercises? Have you been trying to sharpen your Sight?”
Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Freddy thought with a wry smile. Leave it to Trelawney to bring up the matter of her rather bothersome…ability.
She was still struggling to accept her second sight, which had become all the more evident in the months preceding her admission to the sanatorium. For many long weeks, she had suffered from prophetic dreams (nightmares), which, she assumed, was her subconscious attempting to warn her of her illness. In hindsight, the signs were perfectly clear to her. If she hadn’t misinterpreted them, she may have never had to come to the sanatorium in the first place.
Freddy decided not argue with Trelawney now. She had been right, after all, about her Sight.
“I want to show you something,” she said, setting her tea cup down next to the medicine bottles on her nightstand.
Trelawney adjusted her spectacles, the left side of her mouth hitching up in a curious smile. “I had so hoped you would reconsider your talent, Forbia! Though I must say, I knew you would. I took it upon myself to do a little crystal gazing before I came.”
“I don’t doubt that.” Freddy coughed into her sleeve as she turned around in bed, bringing her knees under her. In looking over the headboard, she had a clear view of the sanatorium grounds and the chalk road that threaded down from the hospital towards the village. “Remember my dreams? The rundown town with empty shop windows and weed infested streets? Well, you can see it from here.” She pointed out several faint dots on the horizon and a thin spire which rose from the countryside to rupture the hazy, early summer sky.
“Remarkable,” Trelawney said, sticking her head out the window and squinting.
“It’s like looking into a mirror,” Freddy replied, “a mirror of my dreams, anyway. God, that sounds so corny, but you know what I mean. I knew this place long before I ever set foot in the sanatorium.”
Trelawney’s smile was somewhat watery. “Wait until Minerva hears that I was right about you. She never believed in your Sight.”
“Oh please, don’t tell her!” Freddy felt herself flush. Her knees weakened, and she landed on her bottom in the middle of the bed. The medicine bottles on her nightstand rattled musically.
“If you are to embrace your Sight, you must accept it fully.”
Freddy gathered the starched blankets about her. She had enough to worry about now without being bothered by the influence of her “Sight”. So far, it had caused her nothing but trouble and more than enough heartache. And what good was it if she could only foresee the bad things in life? Her father’s death…her sickness…
She shook her head. “There’s a graveyard as well.”
“Pardon?” Trelawney was sitting once more, her fluttery hands folded neatly on her lap.
“There’s a graveyard…in the village. I heard the other patients talking about it. The sanatorium buries all the unclaimed bodies there.”
Trelawney hesitated, refusing to meet her eye. After a moment of terrible silence, she said, “The Headmaster is interviewing a very pleasant Swedish man to act as your substitute. There is also an American woman, but I don’t like her so much. She’s very…flippant.”
Freddy tried to laugh, but the sound was strangled by a cough. “Sweden is a lovely country.”
Trelawney tossed her head distractedly, playing with her shawl. “And I don’t know if you’ve read the papers, but Sirius Black was nearly apprehended on the grounds of Hogwarts Castle two days ago.”
“What?” Freddy’s hands fisted in the bed sheets. Truth be told, she had quite forgotten that Sirius Black was on the loose. Any news of the outside world she received was usually belated and misconstrued, anyway.
Trelawney gazed at her over her spectacles, looking uncommonly stern. “Also, you ought to know, dear Remus Lupin resigned from his post yesterday.”
Freddy could have strangled Trelawney. Honestly. The dotty old professor was a cherished friend and mentor of hers, but sometimes, she seemed capable of driving any sensible person mad.
Take Minerva McGonagall, for instance. When the Deputy Headmistress showed up at the sanatorium unexpectedly the next evening, she was slightly perturbed to say the least.
Freddy, who had been anxiously pacing in the empty solarium, (she had learned to go for her walks when the rest of the patients were at dinner) was thrilled to see her.
“I swear, I’m going crazy!” she said, throwing up her arms as soon as McGonagall was shown into the solarium by an orderly. “Sibyl didn’t tell me anything. Well, no, that’s not true. She told me just enough and then left. What the hell happened?”
McGonagall wearily removed her traveling cloak and rested it across the back of a lounge chair. It seemed as though every one of her seventy years was pressing down upon her as she tried to smile.
Freddy offered her a seat by one of the big windows, feeling ill-equipped to withhold her many questions.
“Leave it to Sibyl Trelawney to make such a mess,” McGonagall replied after she had caught her breath. “I told her not to say anything. Look at you, you’re positively feverish.”
“That’s nothing new,” Freddy grumbled. “But Lupin quit! Why? Why would he do that?”
McGonagall held up her hand for silence and Freddy suddenly felt as though she were a young girl in Transfiguration class again.
“I hate to say this,” the old professor said, “but I didn’t really have the time to visit you just now. The school is in a bit of an uproar, as you can imagine. We had Sirius Black for a guest just two nights ago.”
“See what happens when I leave,” Freddy said, trying for humor, but failing miserably. “Things fall apart.”
McGonagall raised a grey brow, her lips twitching. “Whatever the cause, we had quite the crisis on our hands. Professor Snape did manage to apprehend Black before he did any harm to the students, but-”
“He escaped again? Bloody hell, that man is insane.”
Again, McGonagall’s lips twitched. Freddy had the sense that she was withholding some information, but decided not to press her. She was grateful for the visit and more than pleased with her old professor’s company. The last thing she wanted was to drive McGonagall away before learning what details she could.
“Yes, well, we were incredibly lucky,” she continued. “Though I’m certain the Prophet summarizes the events better. Here, I brought you a copy.” McGonagall reached into her robes and produced the paper.
Freddy took it with a polite ‘thank you’. She was still, however, unsatisfied.
“Now what of Lupin?”
McGonagall pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “Forbia, you are a friend of his, are you not?”
Freddy hesitated for a moment, trying to decide whether or not she was being asked an intimate question.
But what was so intimate about being friends? Nothing, really, except Freddy wasn’t used to having them.
McGonagall seemed to sense her confusion. She dropped her hand back onto her lap and offered the younger woman a tight, half-smile. In the twisted shadows of twilight, her face appeared as creased as a crumpled piece of parchment. “He has visited you, yes?”
“Yeah.” Freddy tucked her fingers under her knees, tensing slightly. “It was very kind of him.”
“Has Remus ever spoken to you of his…peculiar problem?”
Freddy inhaled sharply. “Oh…that. I know he’s a werewolf, if that’s what you mean. In fact, we’re rather fond of the allegory, TB versus lycanthropy. It’s very-”
“Remus neglected to take his Wolfsbane Potion during the last full moon. He was loose on the grounds and a danger to the students.”
And for some reason, Freddy’s heart sank. She stared at McGonagall for a moment, her pity for Remus soon giving way to a strange sort of satisfaction.
Now he knows what it feels like, she thought, to be a danger to your own students.
At least she wasn’t entirely alone in her predicament.
“Did Dumbledore let him go?” she asked pointedly.
McGonagall shook her head, her sharp chin raised. “No. Remus resigned.”
“More than I ever did,” Freddy replied. “But he does seem to the gracious type. Pity.”
For once, the emptiness of the solarium made it more daunting than when it was filled with gossiping patients. She rested her chin on her open palm. From somewhere deep within the sanatorium, a hum and a whisper issued forth from the crowded dining room.
McGonagall stared into the growing shadows. Freddy thought she looked absolutely exhausted.
“You see what this place does to people,” she told the older woman. “Turns us into creatures.”
“Creatures?” McGonagall lifted both her brows this time.
“Starving creatures,” Freddy replied. “We prowl about like scavengers, searching for signs of life, or what remains of it.” She smoothed the copy of the Prophet out on her knees. Sirius Black leered back up at her.
McGonagall looked at her sternly.
Freddy twisted her mouth into a frown. “ It’s hard to explain,” she said, “but I think I would do anything not to be a patient here.”
“Sibyl said you were rather melancholy,” McGonagall muttered tersely. “For once she was right.”
Freddy rubbed her fingers together, feeling the last of the early summer warmth leave the room.
She was so cold sometimes.
“Poor Remus,” she muttered. “He really seemed to be enjoying his time at Hogwarts. It makes me feel guilty, almost. I’ll have the chance to go back to teaching…he won’t.”
McGonagall, she noticed, was looking at her carefully. “I can see why he thinks highly of you, Forbia. You’ve become very sensitive, empathetic.”
“Bah.” Freddy covered her cough with her palm. “Not really. I think I’ve just had more time to think about things.” But Lupin thinks highly of me, she wondered to herself, how odd!
“Have you been thinking about Quirrell?” McGonagall ventured mildly. The light from the lamps on the walls reflected off her spectacles, giving her an owlish appearance.
Freddy folded her arms across her middle, hunching forward. “Of course. But it’s not as bad as it was at Hogwarts. I’ve had other things on my mind.”
McGonagall nodded in response. “I suppose it’s natural, in a place like this.”
“A place like this,” Freddy echoed. She thought of Lupin, alone, unemployed, but free. If she was in his shoes, she would have headed straight off to the Continent or the United States. And she would have enjoyed life, no matter what…
“I have something else for you,” McGonagall said. She was fishing through her robes once more. “It is the reason I came, actually. Remus asked me to deliver it when I visited and I couldn’t stand to have it lying unopened on my desk. You know how I feel about tardy mail.”
At length, she produced a folded piece of parchment sealed with plain red wax and the standard Hogwarts coat of arms all the staff used for their official correspondence.
“Did he say what it was about?” Freddy asked, taking the note from her.
McGonagall shrugged, rising to her feet and stretching with all the elegance of a sinewy feline. “No,” she replied with a deepening frown. “I try not to pry into other people’s business, however difficult that may seem.”
Author’s Note: Thank you so very much for taking the time to read. As always, if you have a spare moment, please leave a review. I’d absolutely love to hear from you.
Special thanks goes out to my wonderful betas, soliloquy and Renfair. You guys rock!
The next chapter has already been written and will be posted soon. I hope everyone has a happy, healthy New Year!
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