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Breathless by celticbard
Chapter 5 : Reprise
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8


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Fabulous chapter image by ChoS_sista_gurl @ TDA


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


Cast List:
Forbia “Freddy” Fotherby - Melanie Lynskey
Healer Calum Crane - Peter Facinelli
Remus Lupin - James D’Arcy
Slatero Quirrell - Simon Woods
Minerva McGonagall - Maggie Smith
Sibyl Trelawney - Emma Thompson
Nurse Jenkins - Samantha Morton
Lavinia Wainwright - Naomi Watts


Chapter Five Reprise

Dearest Freddy,
I regret to inform you that I have resigned my position as professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. Goodness, that sounds so awfully formal…almost like a death certificate. And I’m certain you’ve had your fill of those lately. Haha. See, I haven’t lost my morbid sense of humor yet. I trust you haven’t either.

I’m sure McGonagall has related all the gritty details to you already. I would have told you myself, but as you can imagine, I haven’t had time for social niceties lately.

Yes, I left Hogwarts of my own accord. I simply couldn’t stay there and teach while knowing that I had violated my promise as a professor by endangering the students. It was a difficult decision, as I was in need of the tidy income, but I think I did the right thing. I’m sure you’ll agree…or rake me over the coals for it.

It saddens me to know that we will no longer be colleagues, but I do hope we can remain friends. If it is all right with you, I would like to continue to drop by the sanatorium. We make a good pair the two of us…the walking wounded.


I hope you aren't too cross with me for running off like this. Though, I know you probably have a greater understanding of my situation than, perhaps, anyone else.

If you agree, I will come and see you sometime next week. Until then, I remain…

Your friend,
Remus J. Lupin


“Well that’s that, I suppose,” Freddy muttered to herself. She was sitting cross-legged on her bed with Lupin’s letter resting in her lap. It was roughly a quarter after nine in the evening and the nurses were making their last rounds before it was time for the lights to be put out.

Unfortunately, Freddy wasn’t feeling the least bit tired.

Ever since McGonagall had left two hours ago, she had spent her time going over Lupin’s note and the copy of the Prophet. A part of her was darkly curious about the excitement of Sirius Black’s near capture. She was missing a lot of life, being secluded in the sanatorium. And even charming Healer Crane couldn’t make up for that.

Now Lupin was gone, just when she was starting to like him as a colleague and, yes, a friend. He promised to still visit her, but things wouldn’t be the same. She had gotten used to the idea of him having Quirrell’s old job and she thought he did the position honor.

Slatero himself couldn’t have asked for a better, more dedicated replacement.

Freddy folded the note over with a scowl. She felt so very helpless here. Perhaps, if she had still been teaching, she might have been able to convince Lupin not to quit. And she would have tried, yes, she would have tried.

As she was slipping the note back into the drawer of her nightstand, Nurse Jenkins swept into the room, carrying a plastic medicine tray.

“Here’s your last dose for tonight, professor,” she said, handing Freddy a little paper cup filled with three pills. “You’re up late. Having trouble sleeping?”

“A quarter after nine is late?” Freddy said as she popped the pills into her mouth. Jenkins handed her a second paper cup with water.

“You’re usually ready for bed at this time,” the nurse replied, gesturing at her undisturbed blankets. “Feeling any better?”

“I suppose,” Freddy said after she had swallowed the medicine. One pill nearly got stuck in her throat and she coughed quietly to dislodge it. “I’ve had some news from Hogwarts and it’s kept me up.”

“Bad news?” Jenkins asked distractedly. She had set about straightening up the bottles on Freddy’s nightstand. “You had two visitors this weekend. Weren’t they professors as well?”

“Yes.” Reluctantly, Freddy crawled underneath her sheets and laid back. “They are old friends.”

Jenkins balanced her now empty tray on her hip. “And what about that other professor? That nice fellow. You’re lucky to have visitors. Most patients don’t get them at all.”

Or don’t want them, Freddy thought, remembering Lavinia’s poor attempt to try and talk her husband out of a visit.

“Yes,” she repeated. “He’s a friend too.”

“Lucky, like I said,” Jenkins replied. She turned off the lamp on her way out. “Good night, professor.”

“Night,” Freddy mumbled. She had already rolled over onto her right side (her good side, as Crane put it) and shut her eyes.

I suppose Lupin is my friend, she thought, her fingers curling against her pillowcase. A stiff breeze poured into her room through the window, which was kept open all night to better promote the fresh air treatment. Perhaps that’s why I feel so bad for him. It’s easier to be sick like this when you have someone else in the same boat. Though not like Lavinia and her lot. I wouldn’t want to be in the same boat with them, even I was drowning. God, I hate the water. Imagine falling off a bridge…falling, falling, falling.

She recognized the cemetery gates this time. They were rusty, but still stately in a way. Scabs of black paint stuck to the spear-like posts and the fence itself was skeletal against the green lawn.

Freddy wondered, vaguely, if this was a trance and not a dream. Only truly powerful Seers could enter this state at will and she had never considered herself particularly talented, although Trelawney seemed to disagree.

From what remembered of her divination lesson years ago, a trance had to be entered at will by opening up the mind. Unlike a dream, or a nightmare, rather, a trance could be avoided if the Seer focused his or her thoughts on reality. Something as simple as listening to one’s heartbeat would do, but Freddy wasn’t sure if wanted to abandon the experience just yet.

Instead, she let herself through the cemetery gates.

“I wonder if I managed to do this all on my own,” she mused out loud, picking her way through the cloud-colored tombstones. Long shades, cast at the tips of the setting sun, rested in the alcoves of the mausoleums. The sky above was a rather sickly shade of yellow, somewhat akin to the color of sputum.

“You, my dear, are becoming warped,” a playful voice chirped from somewhere nearby.

Freddy glanced over her shoulder.

He was waiting for her, as she had hoped he would be.

Freddy held out her hand and let him squeeze it in greeting. “Hullo, Slatero. Fancy seeing you here.”

Quirrell laughed with all the giddiness of a young boy. And, in truth, Freddy supposed he was a young boy…robbed of his gentle innocence by darkness.

She still loved him, although her love had evolved from the restlessness of howling grief, to a soft, nostalgic affection. Paradoxically, falling ill had provided her with opportunities to heal in other ways.

Quirrell seemed to realize this. “I’m very proud of you,” he told her, his smile bordering on cheeky. “You’ve been quite brave about all this.”

Freddy shrugged. “It isn’t like I have a choice.”

He wrinkled his nose. “Don’t sell yourself short. You have a horrid habit of doing that.”

“I’m trying,” she assured him, slinging one arm around his shoulders. It was good to be near him again and with muted sadness, she remembered that they would never have a life together, only snatches of dreams and memories.

How fitting then, that they should be standing in a cemetery. The air was thick with a mossy scent, close and breathless. Freddy inhaled and for a moment, enjoyed the fantasy of clean lungs.

“Why am I here?” she asked him.

Quirrell’s discerning brown eyes widened with understanding. “You’ve become rather astute at this.”

“Trelawney said I should practice more. What for it, eh?”

Together, the leaned against the marble wall of a mausoleum. Freddy traced the patterns of grey with her fingers.

“What is it you want to know?” he asked her at length.

Freddy was surprised by his forwardness. “I don’t know. My life is insanely boring right now. I haven’t given much thought to-”

Quirrell dipped his chin, his expression turning skeptical.

Freddy chuckled. “All right then. Ummm, how about Lupin? Yes, I’d like to know about him.”

“You have to be more specific.”

“Well, he told me why he quit his job at Hogwarts, but I have the feeling that he’s keeping something from me.”

Quirrell propped his elbow against the mausoleum door. “Possibly. But nothing that would affect your relationship with him.”

“Relationship? I don’t have a relationship with him.”

“He’s your friend,” Quirrell replied pointedly. “And you need to accept that. Being prickly won’t get you very far.”

“Thanks for the lecture.” She rolled her eyes. “What am I supposed to do with him though?”

“Let him come to see you. It’s perfectly acceptable. You’re not betraying me in anyway.”

“What does this have to do with betrayal?” Freddy asked, straightening up off the cold wall.

Quirrell wouldn’t answer. He only smiled.

Freddy wanted to be annoyed with him, but somehow, couldn’t summon up the strength. She couldn’t even manage to feel defeated. A sense of neutrality had overtaken her, leaving her adrift in an ocean of indifference.

“Very well,” she replied. “If you can’t tell me anything else about Lupin, then I want to know about the sanatorium.”

Quirrell’s face tightened slightly. “You’ve done very well in adapting to it.”

“Again, I had no choice.”

“I’m surprised you want to talk about it.” He shifted, dropping his elbow and pressing his shoulder to the mausoleum instead. “What do you want to know?”

Freddy hesitated. She didn’t think she possessed the ability to properly explain how she felt about the sanatorium, with its narrow halls, heath-strewn grounds, and echoes that chased her every night. Any words would be a poor substitute for her half-formed impressions. Frustrated, she waved a hand.

“I guess I want to know why the sanatorium is a part of my life…no, wait. That’s not what I mean.” She paused and shook her head. “Umm, maybe…maybe I want to know why I feel as though the sanatorium has always been part of my life, almost as if it was hidden, but there.”

Quirrell appeared pleased with her question and he squeezed her shoulder confidently. “Very good! Well, that’s because the sanatorium has always been part of your life.”

“But I don’t want it to be.”

“Let me finish.” He held up a pacifying hand. “Whether you like it or not, coming to the sanatorium is a major event in your time here. You sensed it, heard echoes of it throughout your life. The same goes for our relationship. Your job at Hogwarts. And Healer Crane, of course.”

Freddy started, feeling as though she had been jolted out of kind reverie into harsh reality. “What do you mean about Crane?”

He looked askance. “We can’t talk about that yet.”

“Why not?”

“You have to be patient.”

“Slatero, please,” she begged him.

Quirrell seemed about to say something, but was cut off by a smooth, coquettish voice. It slipped into the cemetery, quite at home, and disrupted their perfect congress.
Freddy already felt herself stirring towards wakefulness. In desperation, she reached forward, trying in vain to touch Quirrell, to keep him with her.

“I only want to know,” she cried, pushed by apprehension to be truthful, “about Healer Crane!”

But then he was gone and only the winsome voice remained, singing… 

Singing ‘Oh willow waly’ by the tree that weeps with me
Singing ‘Oh willow waly’ till my lover returns to me. [1]

 

 





She awoke suddenly, sitting upright in bed like a mad woman startled by her own nightmares. The window above her head was still open, arousing rare superstition within her. Freddy imagined that all the restless spirits tramping about the grounds were now drifting into her room.

But of course not. She was being silly.

Pressing her knuckles to her forehead, she tried to ward off the tell-tale ache in her temples. Outside her room, an orderly tip-toed by, disappearing down the dimly lit hall. The clock by the nurse’s station chimed the hour.

It was only eleven.

Try as she might, Freddy knew she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. It was impossible now that her nerves were thoroughly stirred and she couldn’t help but think of that last look on Quirrell’s face. He had wanted to say something but couldn’t. It was that voice, that damnable voice…

Singing ‘Oh willow waly’ by the tree that weeps with me
Singing ‘Oh willow waly’ till my lover returns to me. [2]


Freddy’s hands clenched over the sheets. She certainly wasn’t dreaming now, was she?

No.

The lilting voice was real enough and it was coming from somewhere nearby…or below. Yes, somewhere on the floor below. She was sure of it. The sound must be coming up through the vents, directly into her room.

What was downstairs? The X-Ray Department? The lab?

Freddy wasn’t sure, but she did know that she couldn’t stand to spend another sleepless minute alone in her room. Patients weren’t supposed to be out of their beds after nine-thirty, unless it was an emergency.

But what did that matter? If she ran into a nurse, she could pretend to be delirious with fever. That would be a laugh. And she needed a good laugh.

Slipping from underneath the sticky sheets, she grabbed her robe and threw it over her shoulders. Her door was still open (which was routine in the Intensive Care Ward in case the nurses had to get in and out quickly) and Freddy was able to slip out unnoticed, down the back staircase the orderlies used when the lift was too crowded.

The lamps by the stairs were kept burning brightly throughout the night, and she found herself squinting, trying to adjust her sight to the glare.

Despite this, it really was a pleasure to get out of her room unescorted. She knew she had less of a chance of running into any patients, which was indeed a blessing. And being a perpetual wander, she was glad to have use of her feet once more, no matter where they took her.

Curiosity got the better of Freddy and she decided to trace the music as far as she could. Maybe one of the patients had a radio in his or her room? Possibly. Although she would have expected the nurse to turn it off before bed.

Unless it was a rogue nurse with the radio, than that would be a different matter entirely.

Freddy descended a flight of stairs until she came to a landing on the third floor. The hallway beyond was dark, save for a single light which crept under a door.

And the voice. She could still hear the voice.

It was an appropriately haunting song, she thought. Slightly morbid and all too welcome in this ghastly hospital. She, herself, had never been one to indulge in morbidity, unlike the other patients. Perhaps it gave them relief, she reasoned, to neutralize their illness.

Or perhaps they were all a bunch of masochists.

Freddy stepped fully into the darkened corridor, holding the door open so that it wouldn’t creak. But it was heavier than she expected and in leaning forward, she took the necessary pressure off her hand.

The door slammed closed behind her.

Dammit.

Shuffling followed. Shadows flitted across the slinking light. Someone stepped into the hall.

“Hello?”

He was standing in the light and Freddy could see him clearly.

Healer Crane.

Lovely. Just bloody lovely. 

She considered running for it. The dark would prevent him from seeing her face and making a positive identification, although she knew he would follow her. And then how would she explain herself?

Poorly.

Now’s the time to brave, her conscience told her. Come on, Freddy old girl. Buck up. “I suppose I have no choice,” she muttered out loud.

Crane took a step closer. “Freddy, is that you?”

At once, she was wringing her hands. “How did you know?”

“You have that distinct Scottish lilt.” He was moving down the hall now. “I’d recognize it anywhere. Is something the matter?”

“Not at all,” she said in a rush, aware that she sounded breathless. Even now, she could just picture Crane’s patented concerned frown, the one that Lavinia Wainwright apparently found sexy.

“It’s past eleven,” the healer continued. “Patients are restricted to their rooms after nine-thirty. What are you doing out of bed?”

“Sleep walking?” Freddy offered with a bashful shrug. Crane was close to her now, about a foot away and she noticed his shoulders shaking with silent laughter. “Honestly, I don’t know. I have a tendency to wander…it’s sort of my thing.”

“Well, you must be feeling better,” he commented, one hand reaching out toward her empathetically. “I don’t recall you being so eager to break the rules when you first came here.”

Freddy wrapped her arms around her middle, deftly tying the belt of her robe. She didn’t know what to say to Crane. An apology seemed in order, although he hadn’t demanded one…yet.

The awkward silence between them was punctured by the same wispy, singing voice.

Willow…willow…willow.

The word was intoned mindlessly until it sounded like gibberish. Crane turned on his heel. “That’ll be my record skipping,” he explained and headed back down the hall.

Without thinking, Freddy took a step forward, intending to follow him. But then she thought of the cemetery and of the tombstones and was reminded of something Trelawney had said many, many years ago.

Freddy paused, dropped her arms to her sides and considered Crane’s retreating form. 

He was by the open door now, one hand resting on the frame. He glanced back at her.

“Are you coming, Freddy?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “I’m coming.”
 

 





Author’s Note: Another chapter finished! I would like to especially thank everyone who has taken the time to read/review so far. You guys rock!

And, of course, I must thank my betas, soliloquy and Renfair. They both deserve a round of applause. *claps*

The next chapter is already written and should be posted soon. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Lines [1], [2] were taken from the song “O Willow Waly” with lyrics by Paul Dehn, written for the film “The Innocents” (1961).
 


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