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Chapter 8 : The Unexpected
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Sorry for the lack of updates. But this one will make up for that, right? It's the longest chapter so far, I think. So enjoy!
Also, check out my new story "Vital."
The owl didn’t wait to find me at breakfast, instead it woke me, rapping at the dormitory window, at some all-too-early hour of the morning.
I rolled out of bed, onto the floor and unlatched the window, wincing as a gust of wind blew rain into my face. The owl hopped inside onto a table, where I quickly untied the note from its leg. It didn’t bother to wait for a reply, flying back out the window as soon as its letter was gone.
Sleepily, I shut the window, before retreating to my comfortable and warm bed to read this apparently important letter. A quick lumos spell cast just enough light for me to make out the faint lettering on the parchment. “Victoire Weasley, Hogwarts Castle.”
I unfolded the letter and read the short note:
This afternoon, there was a little accident at Gringotts. Apparently, the Goblins were angry about something. Anyways, one thing led to another, and before long there was a bit of violence. Your father was at the bank at the time. He was taken to St. Mungo’s Hospital. I’ve only just had the time to write to you, but know that he is in a stable condition. The healers don’t think he is in any danger of death anymore.
I felt my stomach drop as I reread my mother’s note. My father wasn’t in danger of death anymore? What did that mean? Had he been in danger of dying? Of course my mother wouldn’t elaborate on his condition: it was just like her to leave out all the details. And it was just like her to assume I wouldn’t be bothered by the news. Honestly, if my father really was hurt, it wasn’t as if I was just going to go about life like nothing had happened! I had to go see him. And to top it all, my mother’s owl hadn’t even waited for me to reply.
I jumped out of bed, not caring about the time and yanked on my dressing gown before running down the stairs to Dom’s dormitory. Slower, this time, I poked my head inside, looking to see if my sister was awake. “Dom?” I whispered quietly.
There was no answer, so I slipped inside, holding my wand aloft for light and moved to my sister’s bed. When I pulled back the curtains, I saw her lying nestled among the covers. She was asleep, looking like an angel with her blonde hair fanned out around her face. I felt a surge of jealousy that was only suppressed when I thought of my father. “Dom,” I said again, shaking her shoulder urgently. “Dominique!”
She stirred, rolling over, before finally opening her eyes. “Vicky?” she asked sleepily. “What’s going on? What time is it?”
“Dad,” I said in a rush, “There was some sort of accident at Gringotts, Mum just sent me a letter saying that he was hurt and is at St. Mungo’s. Come on, you’ve got to get up!”
Dom blinked slowly, “Oh. Don’t worry about that Vicky,” she said airily. “Mum sent me a letter just before bedtime. She said there’s no reason to worry. Really,” she added, when I looked unconvinced. “She said she’ll owl in the morning with more news. Why are you so worried? Go back to sleep,” she added with a yawn.
“Before bed?” I asked, feeling anger replace worry. “Mum let you know before bed that he was hurt and you didn’t bother to let me know?”
Dom shrugged, “She said that there wasn’t any reason to worry. I don’t see why you’re in such a strop, Vicky.”
“Oh?” I asked. “Well maybe it has to do with the fact that my own sister didn’t let me know my father was hurt. Or that my mother didn’t bother to write me until early in the morning, when she obviously had time to write to you before bed! I don’t know. Maybe one of those two!” My voice had grown louder with each word.
“Shh,” Dom cautioned, holding a finger up to her lips. “Quiet down Vicky. Just go back to bed and we’ll talk in the morning, alright?”
I gritted my teeth and nodded. If she didn’t care, that was that. “Fine,” I hissed as I slipped out of her dormitory.
For a moment, I stood outside the door, breathing heavily, before running down the steps to the common room. If my father was hurt, the least I could do was find an owl and send a letter. Maybe Mum had been exaggerating about his condition anyways. If she’d told Dom he was fine, then he was fine. But I still had to check.
The November air was drafty and cold, so I drew my dressing gown closer as I went down the stairs. Now, I was wishing that I’d grabbed a blanket or a jumper, to help stay warm. Even some slippers would have helped.
Luckily, I saw, there was a fire going in the fireplace. I made my way down the stone steps carefully, realizing half way down that a person was sitting by the fire, sleeping in an armchair. The last thing I wanted to do was to wake them, so I practically held my breath until I reached the bottom of the stairs. Now all I had to do was make it to the portrait and hope I didn’t wake whoever was sleeping.
I’d almost made it when my toe caught on the edge of a rug, sending me sprawling onto the stone. “Damn,” I muttered as my head began to pound from the force of the impact.
From the corner of my eye, I saw the man in front of the fire jump awake, looking around for the source of the noise before his eyes rested on me. “Vicky?” he asked in a confused tone.
“Teddy?” I responded, feeling a blush cover my cheeks. “I- What are you doing up?”
He laughed softly, “I could ask you the same thing.”
I sat up quickly, resisting the urge to bury my face in my hands. “It’s a long story. I just got a letter from my mum. There was an accident at Gringotts and my father was injured. I wanted to go to the owlrey and send a message.”
Teddy frowned and walked over, offering a hand to help me up. He didn’t say anything, instead he stared at me, with a gaze so intense I started to blush.
Finally, not able to stand the silence, I turned on him. “What are you doing up?” I repeated my earlier question.
He sighed, coming out of his reverie. “I listened to what you said after the match, Vicky. I was trying to figure out what happened, trying to get some news. I waited until everyone had gone to bed and sent an owl to my grandmother. She sent me back a quick reply, about some catastrophe at Gringotts. She said that there were quite a few dead and there was an uproar over all the gold that might have been lost. I knew that your father worked there, so I was waiting for someone to tell me if he was all right.” He pointed to the fire. “Floo.”
I bit my lip. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked, feeling the same betrayal that I had from Dom.
Teddy laughed lightly. “Well, I tried, but the staircase didn’t exactly let me up. And besides, I didn’t even know if there was reason to worry. But now,” he frowned. “Are you going to visit him?”
I put my face in my hands. “I want to,” I said softly. “I need to, but I can’t until the morning. And I’d have to ask Professor McGonagall for permission.”
“That would best wait till morning,” Teddy agreed.
“Yeah,” I muttered. “But, I’m still going to owl Mum.” I needed more information than just a little paragraph note.
Teddy placed his hand on my arm, as if meaning to restrain me. “It’s after hours,” he said slowly. “You don’t want to get caught out of bed.”
I shrugged his arm off. “I’m going anyways. Honestly, I don’t care about the rules anymore.”
He looked like he was about to stop me, but instead nodded. “I won’t stop you.”
“Thanks,” I told Teddy softly, then padded my way to the door. The portrait swung open easily, and I climbed down. It was only once I’d stepped a few feet away that I saw Teddy standing in the portrait hole, looking down at me.
“What?” I asked him, feeling exposed not because I was alone in the corridor but because his eyes bored into mine again, as if trying to see into my mind.
He looked at me for a long time, opening his mouth several times, before finally saying, “Do you want me to come with you?”
I blinked at the request. “No. I mean there’s no reason for you to be in trouble too.” I tried to laugh and make light of the situation, but the sound ended up being choked and forced.
Teddy’s gave a small smile and shut the portrait without saying another word.
I stared at the Fat Lady for a few moments, before I started jogging down the corridor, towards the Owlery. So much had happened, and my mind wasn’t even fully awake. The owl. My father. Teddy. And now I was running through Hogwarts in the dead of night. This could only end badly. Luckily, my sleep-deprived mind was able to shove that thought to the back of my head.
By the time I’d reached the ground floor, I knew that it was going to work. I hadn’t seen anyone, not a ghost, prefect or professor the entire time. Perhaps, they were all too preoccupied with the problem to patrol. Or they were all sleeping, an equally probable possibility.
I was headed down a corridor that passed the kitchens when someone else appeared at the other end of the hall. Panic bubbling in my stomach, I pressed against the wall, hoping they hadn’t seen me. But the voice that called out told me they had. “Who’s there?” Professor McGonagall asked.
I closed my eyes in horror, of all the people to catch me out of bed. “Me, Professor,” I said in a trembling voice. “Victoire Weasley.”
McGonagall bustled down the hallway towards me. “Miss Weasley, what on earth are you doing out of bed at this hour?”
With a deep breath, I un-plastered myself from the wall and faced the headmistress. “I was going to the owlery.”
“Couldn’t it have waited till morning?” McGonagall asked dryly.
I shook my head quickly. “You see Professor, I just received an owl from my mother. Apparently, there was an accident at Gringotts this afternoon and my father was hurt. I wanted to write to her, to make sure he was alright.”
The Headmistress was silent for so long, I got worried. She was probably stirring up all of her anger. But instead of yelling or even deducting points, she put a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Miss Weasley,” she said quietly. “That’s quite understandable. I was afraid that this would happen once the word got out.”
“Sorry Professor?” Her change of heart caused me to do a double take.
“The Gringotts Incident will affect a lot of students,” McGongall said. “If a family member wasn’t injured, there was probably some controversy over their family gold. I can guarantee that there will be quite a few owls in the morning. The Professors,” she paused, “We’ve been trying to decide how to handle visitations and the like.”
I bit my lip. “Professor, is there any way. Any way at all that me and my siblings can go visit our dad? Please.”
She sniffed. “I’m not one to make exceptions, Miss Weasley, but I know much of your family. Bill Weasley showed great bravery during the war,” she said. “Come to my office with your siblings at eight tomorrow morning and I’ll have a portkey ready.”
I licked my lips in anticipation of the coming punishment. “Thank you Professor. We’ll be there.” I turned as if to go back to the dormitory.
“Oh and Weasley?” McGonagall called. “Don’t, as they say, spread the word about this.”
“Of course, Professor,” I said, before practically running away.
St. Mungo’s Hospital was crowded, to say the least. Dom, Louis and I had taken the portkey from McGonagall’s office straight to the entrance hall. Even at such an early hour, the line to the Welcome Witch stretched to the door. And most of those queued up were visitors, not patients.
My siblings and I joined the line, behind two very old witches. Both of them were more terrified than they looked. I knew that Louis was especially shocked, considering that he’d only found out when I’d woken him around seven thirty. No one else had been awake then, so I’d only left a note for Grace and Meera to see.
After about ten minutes of waiting in the line, I grew impatient. I’d gotten a few hours of sleep and had had no food yet. Irritability was inevitable.
“Wait here,” I told Dom, before marching up the line, past the others waiting. I reached the Welcome Witch’s desk and pushed in front of the person at the front. “My name is Victoire Weasley,” I said quickly, before I could be interrupted. “Please tell me where my father, Bill Weasley, is staying.”
The Witch went from looking annoyed to looking awed. A minute later she replied. “Second Floor, Creevey Ward.”
I smiled my thanks and practically sprinted back down the line. “Come on,” I told the two blondes, who were still waiting, both looking rather grumpy. “I’m got the floor and ward, let’s go.”
Dom raised an eyebrow, “That was fast,” she commented as we moved towards the lift.
“Name dropping works wonders, dear sister,” I said with a wink as we entered the packed lift.
We exited on the Second Floor and I practically ran down the hall, looking for the Creevey Ward. When I finally found it, I had to wait for the others to catch up before I opened the door. My mouth nearly dropped open when I saw my father, lying on a bed, bandaged with bloody gauze; the scar on his face looked red and irritated, as if it was fresh.
In a chair to the right, my mother sat, looking exhausted, her blonde hair limp and down. She glanced up when we entered, her mouth falling open. “What are you doing here?” she asked jumping to her feet.
Louis ran towards Mum to give her a hug, which she returned, all the while staring at me and Dom. “Your letter,” I said finally. “Professor McGonagall gave us a portkey and her permission to come.”
Mum’s eyes flashed, but she didn’t say anything to me, instead stooping down to answer Louis’s question. “How’s Dad?”
“He’s doing better,” Mum said at last. “He was hit by quite a few curses and buried under some fallen stones. But zhe healers say zhat he should regain consciousness in a day or so.”
“Maman, what happened?” Dom asked, going to join Louis in our mother’s arms. She looked gorgeous and positively stricken.
There was another pause, then Mum began stroking Dom’s hair. “Zee goblins,” she said, slipping back into her French accent. “Zhey were unhappy with zee wizards. Zhey attacked zee people in Gringotts. When zee Ministry tried to help, zee goblins made the zee building collapse. Many of zee Ministry workers ended up casting curses zhat hit people like your papa.”
“Did anyone die?” Louis asked.
“Lou!” I said, appalled that he would ask such a question.
Mum nodded slowly. “A few people. Not anyone we know, zhough.”
Dom detached herself from Mum and went over to Dad’s bed. Tears were brimming in her eyes as she examined his face. “It’s alright, ma chere. Il va mieux.” He’s going to be better, Mum told her from across the room. “Ne pleure pas.” Don’t cry.
I squeezed my eyes shut at the sight, feeling like crying, but I just didn’t have the energy to. I wanted to sink into a chair and fall asleep, not stand here watching this scene unfold.
After a minute of silence, Mum glanced at me, and I realized from her eyes that she was furious. “Let’s talk for a moment, Victoire,” Mum said, grabbing my arm and pulling me out into the hallway.
Her eyes were flashing a steel grey colour that had to symbolize danger. As soon as the door closed, she rounded on me. “What were you thinking?” she demanded in French.
I bit my lip. “I was worried, Mum. Your letter scared me. I didn’t know what to do. So, so I was going to the owlery to write you, but I met Professor McGonagall on the way. She told me that she’d help get us here.”
“Do you see your sister?” Mum continued, ignoring me. “She is crying over your father. There is nothing she can do to wake him up, and now she is misérable.”
I closed my eyes, feeling anger start to bubble up in my stomach. “Mum, listen. You weren’t exactly clear about how Dad was going to be. From what I gathered, he had been on the brink of death. I wasn’t about to stay at Hogwarts while my own father died!”
“Why am I always at fault?” Mum asked, putting her hands on her hips. “Honestly, Victoire, you’re my most difficult child, always mad at me for some reason or another.”
That was just plain unfair. “Most difficult?” I scoffed. “I wonder why that is? Maybe it’s because you favour Dom in everything. You ignore me. You hate me!”
“Stop making a scene,” Mum hissed. “I don’t hate you. And I don’t have a favourite child.”
I rolled my eyes. “Of course you don’t. You send Dom extra pocket money all the time. Did mine get lost in the post? What about how you never talk to me, except to scold me, but precious Dom can do no wrong?”Now that I was started, there was no way I was giving up easily.
Mum blushed a bit, either in rage or embarrassment. “That’s not fair, Victoire,” she said suddenly. “You know that I love you. You’re my baby, my first child. I could never hate you. But you know that Dominique is also my daughter and I love her too. You’re not an only child.”
“You know, I don’t even care about the pocket money,” I continued. “I don’t give a damn! But I hate that you didn’t bother to tell me about Dad’s injuries until three in the bloody morning. Dom heard before bed time, of course, but no, you leave Vicky in the bloody dark. You know that he’s my father too!”
“Stop yelling,” Mum said finally. “You’re over reacting, Vicky. Calm down. It’s not a big deal.”
I bit my lip. “Alright,” I said finally. “I’m sorry.”
Mum nodded once. “Good. Now, tell me again why you thought it was such a good idea to bring your sister and brother here?”
“Because I care about him!” I told her, starting to yell again. “Obviously you don’t care about us at all. None of us! You think that you can just keep us safe at Hogwarts away from all of this. But I’m not a kid, Mum. Imagine, what if Dad had died and we’d never seen him, since you were too careful and kept us at school!”
“I’m not over protective,” Mum’s voice got shrill again. “Victoire, you’re being unfair!”
I laughed at the irony. “Me? Unfair? Mum, I’m the fairest person out there. You’re the one who’s being so unreasonable! All you care about is France and being alone, without your kids! You’re the worst kind of mother that there is.” The words were cruel, but true.
“Don’t insult me, Victoire,” my mum said softly. “Don’t try to tell me that I don’t love my children. That’s a lie. I love all of you and you know it.”
I scoffed. “Not true, I know you favour Dom and I can’t stand it anymore Mum! Why don’t you understand that? See, here you are talking to me, it’s half Dom’s fault we’re here. She got the letter first after all. I’m sick and tired of this double standard. If you hate me, why don’t you just say so, so that I can say that I hate you!” With the last words, I shoved the woman back, with more force than I intended, so that she took several steps back before falling to the floor.
After a second, she looked up, eyes streaming tears. “GO!” she shouted. “Get away from me! And don’t bother coming back!”
Dramatic, yes I know. As always, reviews are love. Let me know what you think of this twist.
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