Her ears were buzzing. It was the first thing Winter noticed as she slowly regained consciousness. The second was that she was in an unfamiliar bed with white curtains drawn all around. ‘The hospital wing’ was the thought that drifted through her head. Third, she couldn’t move her arms or legs. But before she could panic about that she noticed number four: there were people on the other side of the curtain and they were talking about her.
“I’m telling you she’s not dangerous,” James’s voice whisper-shouted.
“In case you didn’t notice Mr Potter,” the snippy voice of the headmistress cut in, “she was completely out of control.”
“Okay look I’ll admit that what happened was a little... out of the ordinary but I’m telling you professor, Winter would never do anything like that in her right mind.”
“That’s enough,” Harry’s voice interrupted. “Goodness Penny, I would have thought you had more compassion than this. Perhaps we should wait until she wakes before we make any rash decisions.”
Professor Clearwater huffed, clearly annoyed. “Fine Potter. But I have a responsibility to the rest of my students, and my staff. If she is a danger to anyone she cannot stay here.” Heels clicked as Professor Clearwater exited the hospital wing.
Winter sneezed, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had followed the headmistress’s departure.
Immediately the curtains were yanked back to reveal James, Harry, and a rather rattled looking Shayne. None of them said anything. They just stared at her. Was that fear in their eyes?
Winter tried to wave but her hand was strapped to the bed. She took a deep breath. “Um, what happened?”
James’ face visibly relaxed and he exhaled a huge breath.
“Why am I strapped to the bed?” She rattled the straps. Then she pulled at them, lightly at first but then with all her strength but they didn’t give at all.
“They are spelled to hold you,” Harry said calmly.
Winter could feel panic rising in her chest. “Why are they spelled to hold me?” she nearly screeched. “What am I doing here? Would someone please tell me what’s going on?”
James stepped forward but Harry laid a hand on his shoulder to halt him. James turned to look at Harry who shook his head. Winter noticed a dark purple hand-shaped bruise circling James’s neck.
“James, what happened to your neck?” Winter was becoming increasingly confused.
James sat in the chair next to the bed and awkwardly took her hand. “You don’t remember anything?” he asked.
“Am I supposed to? All I remember is we were eating dinner and then I woke up here.”
James glanced back at Shayne.
Shayne huffed impatiently. “You went crazy,” she blurted. “You just started screaming and freaking out. Then your eyes did that freaky thing and you kind of attacked James.” She said everything in one breath.
Winter was shocked. This couldn’t be true. They were playing a prank. “Ha ha very funny guys. Is this some sort of birthday prank?”
Their faces remained serious. No one even almost cracked a smile.
Winter’s face fell and the panicky feeling returned. “Seriously tell me you’re joking.”
No one said anything.
“But I would never hurt anyone. James you know,” she pleaded with her eyes, “you know I would never hurt you.”
James’s eyes were attempting to comfort her. “I know you would never hurt me... on purpose.”
“On purpose? What are you suggesting?”
“Well,” Harry cut in, “I have a few theories, none of them proven but still... Theory number one is that you were being possessed by something or someone. While that theory is highly unlikely due to the amount of magical protection at Hogwarts and the power you hold yourself, it’s still just a theory. Theory number two: the Imperius curse. Someone could have Imperiused you but again, within Hogwarts I would have been able to track the caster quite simply but I haven’t been able to find any evidence that the spell was cast tonight. So that theory is pretty much disproved, though I will be doing another sweep to be sure. Which brings us to theory number three: You just came of age. This incident could have been to do with that. Now because there isn’t another Halfling vampire/werewolf on record anywhere that we’ve been able to find as of yet there is no way to confirm this theory, though I believe that it is the most likely one we’ve come up with.”
Winter didn’t really know how to respond so she settled on, “So you’re telling me that I turned into a monster when I turned 17?”
“No, no, no,” James was quick to say. “He didn’t say that.”
“Yes he did. James I attacked you, with no reason. I could have killed you. If what you are telling me is true it sounds like my vampire side just took over. If I hadn’t been stopped I would have torn your throat out. How was I stopped by the way?”
“Rose stunned you,” Shayne said bluntly.
“Oh, well good for her.” Winter took a moment to just breathe. “I’m dangerous. Harry I should be locked up until we figure this out.”
James protested. “Don’t be ridiculous Winn. You’re fine now.”
“But what if it happens again? Who knows if it was just a onetime thing or if it’s going to happen randomly? If it happens again and I hurt someone, or worse kill someone, I won’t be able to live with myself.”
James opened his mouth to protest again but Harry cut him off. “She’s right son and you know it.”
James slumped back in his chair, defeated.
“But I do think locking you up is a bit extreme,” Harry continued. “I think it best if you continue with your classes. You will of course be monitored at all times by a professor or member of faculty. In addition to that you’ll attend a private lesson with me twice a week to see if we can determine the cause of this incident. Is that agreeable?”
“Yes sir,” Winter said without hesitation. “Can you undo these straps now? I’m kind of hungry.”
Winter was transferred out of her shared dorm room and into a private room on the other side of the castle. Shayne was devastated at being left alone with the other two who had never warmed to Winter.
Her new room was smaller, as there was only the need to accommodate one person instead of several. The entrance was hidden behind a large dark tapestry and password protected by the animated knight embroidered on it. One four-poster bed stood against the back wall, a comfortable-looking armchair beside it. A large oaken desk off to the side, sat under a window with a view out to the Quidditch pitch. Her trunk had already been brought in and sat at the foot of her bed. The walls were crimson to match her bedspread. A door to the right led to a small bathroom equipped with a toilet, sink, cupboards, and a bathtub/shower.
She sighed and tossed her books onto her new desk. She supposed it would be nice not to have to share a bathroom. She already missed Shayne. And James. He wasn’t allowed to be alone with her anymore. He had argued that they were both of age and Harry had made a point of reminding him that Winter had almost killed him and if Rose hadn’t stepped in he’d be dead. James lost the argument.
It was back to classes the very next day so Winter decided to head to bed early. And so she dreamed.
Tap, tap, tap. Winter groaned and rolled over. Tap, tap, tap. Louder this time. She put a pillow over her head. The tapping turned to knocking. Finally she sat up and turned towards the noise. A woman’s grotesquely distorted face glared in at her through the window and she started, gasping, clutching her blankets to her chest. As she watched the woman’s face turned from awful to beautiful but when she smiled she showed off two very sharp teeth.
“Let me in dear.” The woman’s voice was like a song. The melodious words floated through the glass and pulled Winter out of bed. She skated across the cool wooden floor to the window. She reached for the latch and noticed the woman outside was floating. She hesitated but the woman’s singsong voice filled her ears again, urging her to open the window. She flicked the latch and the window burst open, knocking her to the ground. The woman was on top of her, teeth bared. Winter screamed.
Winter sat straight up in bed, nearly head butting Harry. A scream had woken her. She looked around frantically, attempting to find the source of the shriek. Her eyes settled on Harry and she finally understood. The scream had come from her mouth. The door to her room was flung open as Madam Lila, the matron of the hospital wing hurried in.
“Where’s the fire Potter?” Madam Lila demanded. Her hair was flying every which way and she had mis-buttoned her blouse. Clearly she had hastened to an emergency call she’d received while in bed.
Harry sank back into the armchair, breathing heavily.
Winter looked from him to the matron and back again. “What happened?” she asked tentatively.
Harry grunted but responded anyways. “I heard you screaming.” He held up a piece of ear-shaped rubber. He then reached under her bed and dethatched an identical ear, holding it up. “New extendable ears. They come wireless now. Roxanne’s idea,” he explained briefly. “I came as soon as you started screaming. When I got here you were thrashing around. I thought you might hurt yourself so I tried to hold you down. You’re even strong when you sleep.” He rubbed his aching muscles.
Winter stared at him, bewildered. “I was having a bad dream.”
He remained silent, waiting for her to continue.
“I’ve had a few but I can barely remember them. There was a woman in this one. She’s in all of them actually.” Winter paused to think for a moment. “She... I think she wanted me to let her in. She was one of them.” She glanced at the window in momentary panic.
Harry rubbed his temples. “A sleeping draught if you would Madam Lila.”
Madam Lila rummaged through her bag and brought out a small bottle filled with a clear liquid. She handed it to Harry.
“Thank you. I’m sorry to have disturbed your sleep. You may go.”
Madam Lila huffed and marched out of the room. A woman of few words, that one. Nothing like her predecessor, Madam Pomfrey.
Turning back to Winter Harry said, “And you’ve had other dreams like this?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well I could never remember them very well and they’re just dreams Harry. I didn’t think it was important.”
Harry stood and began pacing the room, thinking. Finally he stopped and handed the sleeping draught to Winter. “Take this tonight. It’ll give you a dreamless sleep. We’ll talk more on this tomorrow. Just get some rest for now.”
She nodded, unsure of what to say, and he swept out of the room.
Winter was escorted to each class by a teacher. Harry assigned several aurors to take turns accompanying her everywhere else. There was even someone stationed outside her bedroom every night. She didn’t get to spend time alone with her friends. She couldn’t even have a conversation with her boyfriend without someone lingering behind her. After several weeks of the same thing she finally became completely sick of it.
She was in the Gryffindor common room spending some time with James and it was like this particular auror was breathing down their necks. He was taking his job a little too seriously. James had whispered that he was a new one, fresh out of auror training, which explained the vigilance. Regardless, after weeks of having a constant supervisor Winter snapped.
“Geez, could you get any closer?” she snapped at the auror. He was a last minute addition to her watch so she hadn’t bothered to learn his name.
His eyes widened in surprise as she leapt off the couch and whirled on him, his hand hovering over his wand in its holster at his waist.
She narrowed her eyes at him. “I am trying to spend a little quality time with my boyfriend and you are standing over us, breathing down my neck as if I might attack him at any moment. Honestly I don’t even think this watching me thing is even necessary anymore.”
The auror put one hand on his hip and glared back at her. “You think I asked for this job? I thought I’d be tracking dark wizards or at the very least I’d be on memory modification duty. Trust me I didn’t think my first job right out of the academy would be babysitting a spoiled young witch at probably the best magical school that is more than capable of watching her themselves.” He crossed his arms, clearly annoyed.
Winter felt her annoyance building in her stomach and pushed it down before it could explode. Then she smiled devilishly. “Well fine then, if you don’t want to be here perhaps you should go.” Without thinking about it for even a minute she grabbed him around the wrist and transported them to the forbidden forest.
She released him and he stumbled back against a tree, fumbling for his wand.
“Maybe you’ll meet a creature you can wrangle in here, get the excitement you were expecting.” She popped away as he pointed his wand at her.
She landed back in the common room, in the exact spot she had left from, and faced a bewildered James.
“What did you do?” he demanded.
“Nothing. He didn’t want to be here so I took him somewhere else. He’ll be fine. He’s an auror. The forest will be a piece of cake for him.”
James scowled at her, crossing his arms.
“Oh come on James. Now we can actually spend some time together.”
He raised an eyebrow.
She pouted. “You are no fun, you know that?”
“Go get him Winter. You can’t leave him in the forest.”
“Fine but I’m not bringing him back here.”
James sighed but said nothing.
Winter popped back to the forest, catching the auror by surprise. He whipped around, aiming his wand at her chest.
“Relax new guy.” She opened her hand and silently used Expelliermis to pull his wand into it.
He jolted, taking a few steps back, his eyes wide. He was clearly scared.
“Did they even tell you anything about me?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Well here’s how it’s going to work. I suggest you listen. I will take you out of this forest completely unharmed and you will take your time getting back to my room.”
He opened his mouth to protest but she waved his wand around to silence him.
“I want to spend some time alone with my boyfriend and I can’t do that with you right there. I promise I won’t attack him. I’ll leave you at the main entrance and you can wander around for a bit before getting back to my room. If anyone sees you I give you full permission to blame it all on me.”
His brow furrowed, clearly annoyed at being told what to do by a student.
“What’s your name?”
“Burrows, Clive Burrows.”
“Well Clive, at the end of your shift I suggest you ask Harry to explain about me. Then, if you don’t wet yourself, perhaps we can come to some sort of a deal.”
She didn’t wait for him to respond before popping him to the main entrance and popping herself back to James. Without saying anything to him she popped them both to her bedroom. It was the most she had used her ability since she had started at Hogwarts.
She fell backwards onto her bed and groaned. “Harry’s going to kill me.”
James sat down beside her. “Yeah probably. But did you see that auror’s face when you grabbed his arm?”
She looked at him, confused.
A huge smile spread across his face and he chuckled. “I thought he might need a new pair of pants after that.”
Winter smiled, then laughed. She tried to sit up but James pushed her back down and hovered above her.
He pushed some hair out of her face. “You shouldn’t have done it but I’m glad we get some time alone.”
“If you don’t kiss me right now I might go mad.”
“Well we wouldn’t want that.” He swept down and pressed his lips to hers.
She flipped him over with ease and pushed him into the mattress, continuing the kiss for a few moments before flopping onto her back beside him.
“Can you just stay here with me until Burrows gets here?” she asked.
“Course.” He put his arm around her and kissed the top of her head.
She settled her head on his shoulder and draped her arm across his chest.
“Right now is perfect,” she said.
OMG I'm sooooo sorry this took forever to put up. Thanks so much to the readers who have stuck with me. I had quite a bit of writers block which has hopefully disappated. Your patience is much appreciated! Don't forget to leave a review. Let me know what you thought of this chapter, as well as how you like the story so far.Ps. It's about to get REALLY interesting. Mwahahahahaha!
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