“Watch out!” Lorcan shouted from behind me. I dove to the ground and curled into a ball. An unseen hoof scraped a long strip of skin from my back. I screamed. I could see the blood beginning to pool under me. A divot appeared right in front of my nose as another invisible hoof landed just in front of me. I felt a powerful downburst of air as the thestral launched into the sky.
I tried to roll over, but my vision went red and black around the edges from the pain. I very clearly remember one blade of green grass crushed into the dirt from the hoof. A dewdrop clung tenaciously to it despite having been trampled. Lorcan’s voice came from a long way away: from down a tunnel of swirling sensations.
“Ly! Ly! Can you move?” I didn’t need to hear him to feel his panic. He touched my back and I screamed again. This time the world went entirely dark.
When I awoke, I was on my stomach, with my shirt off. I turned my head to see where I was, but I knew already. I was in the damn hospital wing.
It was the third time this term. The first time, I had been bitten by a Jarvey as I tried to put the stupid thing back into its cage. To make it worse, the Jarvey kept telling me how damn stupid I was and calling me by names that would make a sailor blush. When I finally got it back into its cage, it almost took my finger off at the last knuckle.
The second time was more serious. Jack Jimson had brought in his pet two-headed runespoor so Professor Bêtisse could look at it, and it also bit me. Fortunately for me, the other two heads had already bitten off the critic head, but being bitten by the dreamer head was bad enough. I fell asleep, not just for a day, but for two weeks. Worse yet, I had very…vivid…would be the best description I guess, dreams and I talked in my sleep. Madame Pettifoot tried to limit my visitors while I was in the hospital wing, but Hugo kept sneaking in with Roxie so she could hear what I saying. When Hugo told me what I was saying in my sleep, I tried to punch him, but I was so tired. Who knew you could be tired from sleeping?
“So, you’re awake now?” Roxie’s voice brought me back to the present.
I tried to turn, but the skin on my back pulled, and I could feel a fresh trickle of blood run down my side. Madame Pettifoot must have used Essence of Dittany to close the wound and it had mostly been sealed, but it was still raw and fresh and hurt like hell.
“Dinna fache yerself laddy,” she said in the faux Scottish accent that always made me laugh. She moved to the other side of the bed and pulled the chair up close so she could grip my hand. I marveled as always at her creamy, café-au-lait complexion and how it contrasted with my pale skin and freckles. She reached over to the bedside table with her free hand to get some gauze, and wiped my back with it.
“Oh, Ly, really, thestrals?” she asked. “After all that’s happened the last two years, I thought that you would have given up on Care of Magical Creatures already.”
I laughed, which also hurt. “You know I can’t give it up; I’ve got to see it through.”
“What, just because your brother is so good at it?” She squeezed my hand.
I shook my head: only a slight motion on the pillow to avoid pulling the wound open further.
“I don’t want to let dad down, or mum.”
I closed my eyes, and I could picture their faces if I told them I was dropping the class. Mum would be puzzled why I would give up on something so fascinating and dad would be disappointed. They’d both go along with my decision, but I know both of them wouldn’t understand; unthinkable that a Lovegood-Scamander would give up on Care of Magical Creatures. It wasn’t that I didn’t know about them, but just that they didn’t seem to like me. Lorcan had inherited all of mum’s gentle kindness that attracted animals and he’d also inherited dad’s firm ability to handle them no matter what they were feeling.
A gentle kiss on my forehead made me open my eyes. Roxie had leaned in closer and kissed me. The burning spot where her lips had been distracted me from the pain in my back, if only briefly. I turned my head more and lifted my lips. She lowered her lips to mine and kissed me for the first time. Well, it wasn’t the first time she’d kissed me, but it was the first time she’d kissed me as if she meant it. I returned the kiss like I meant it as well.
After what seemed like eternity, but must have only been a few seconds, she pulled back. I opened my eyes just before she did, and I saw the smile on her face.
“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time, but never had the nerve,” she said.
“Me, too.” I thought back to all the times that I almost kissed her, but hadn’t, every time that I had wanted to, but couldn’t bring myself to actually do it.
“What was different this time?” I asked.
“I…it’ll sound silly.” She closed her eyes and breathed deeply for a moment. “I was worried that you might have had a serious accident and died before I could.”
“A bit melodramatic much?” I laughed as she balled her fist up and punched me very gently on my shoulder.
“Yeah, I felt silly when I got here with Hugo and saw that Madame Pettifoot had already mostly healed you up.” She pursed her lips. “I really was worried before that, though.”
“If you think I should give up Magical Creatures, then I will, but I really want to get my N.E.W.T.” I sighed, which hurt more than it should have.
“Ask yourself if your N.E.W.T is worth the pain.” She touched the place on my arm where the runespoor had bitten me.
“Will you come every time I get injured and kiss me to make it better?” I tried to sit up on my arms, but it was too painful.
“Every time, Ly.” She leaned in and kissed me again. This time it wasn’t just like she meant it: it promised other things.
“Remember what you said while you were dreaming after being bitten by the runespoor?”
I blushed bright scarlet, but nodded.
“Well, we might try that sometime, when you’ve gotten better.” She looked down at her watch. “I’ve got to get to class, but I’ll come back after dinner.”
I blushed more as she kissed me again and then left.
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