Chapter 25 : nothing like a little coma to spice up summer
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“Sweet fucking Merlin!” I shouted and snapped my eyes open.
I looked around the room and tried to piece together where I was. I was alone, in a hospital bed with several tubes poking into different parts of my body. The whole room was white, but covered with different vases of magical, tropical flowers. My whole body felt like I had been hit by a truck multiple times. I was sore and aching and my whole body hurt.
A few moments later, an older Mediwitch walked into my room and jumped back when she saw me sitting up and examining my surroundings.
“Hope!” Her voice was full of shock and surprise, but she spoke with a familiar tenderness.
“I’m sorry,” I fumbled my words. I didn’t recognize her, and was beginning to realize that I was not at Hogwarts anymore. I looked out the windows and saw the sunny streets of Diagon Alley outside. “Am I in St. Mungo’s?”
The Mediwitch’s face flushed and my heart rate rose – a machine began beeping quickly on my left.
“Let me get the doctor,” she said, trying to sound calm. My eyes widened and I swallowed hard.
The last memory I had was of cradling Sirius’ body in my hands and sobbing. After that, I had blacked out. So many questions were running through my head. Where was Sirius, was he okay? What about Remus? Did my grandparents know I was here? Only seconds later a doctor rushed into the room. He was probably in his late thirties, with dark brown hair, a milky complexion and green eyes. His eyes gauged me in shock, like he couldn’t quite believe that I was sitting up in bed.
“Hello Hope,” his voice was steady. “Do you know who I am?”
I crossed my arms across my chest.
“I don’t know who any of you are, I don’t know what I’m doing here and I don’t know where my family is.” My brows furrowed. “And I’m incredibly sore.”
The doctor took a deep breath, but smiled.
“Well, let me begin by saying that your grandparents have been called and they will be here shortly.” He tried to read my reaction, but I just nodded. “My name is Dr. Finnigan, and I’ve been your doctor for the past three months.” My eyes widened, and Dr. Finnigan nodded carefully. “Would you like me to continue or would you be more comfortable waiting for your grandparents to arrive?”
“What do you mean three months?” My voice was rising with subtle hysteria.
“Hope, it is July 15th. You have been in a coma for the past three months – mainly due to the traumatizing nature of the attack you suffered.”
“The attack I suffered?”
“An unknown werewolf was spotted by a small group of boys on Hogwarts Castle grounds. We don’t exactly know why you were out of your bed so late at night, but you were attacked quite viciously.”
Tears began welling in my eyes. Was I in a coma because I had been transformed into a …
“It’s a miracle that the werewolf didn’t bite you, actually.” Dr. Finnigan interrupted my panicked thoughts. “It seems like it was fighting with itself. It did beat you up rather badly, and it seems the wounds got infected with some sort of poison. You’ve been unconscious for the past three months, Hope, and I can’t help but express my surprise and delight that you’ve woken up. Why, I think by the end of the summer you’ll be able to return to Hogwarts for your new school year.”
His words sounded fuzzy to me, and I felt as if I was going to pass out. My heart rate had already risen when I realized I was in a hospital – I hated hospitals, after all. But finding out that I had been in a coma for three months due to a werewolf attack that hadn’t resulted in my turning into a werewolf at the hands of Remus Lupin was a lot for me to handle.
“What happened to the werewolf?” I asked, my voice small. Dr. Finnigan looked confused.
“What happened to the werewolf?” I asked again, my voice slightly frantic. “Did they catch it?” I was careful not to say “him.” Dr. Finnigan looked uncomfortable.
“They, ah, didn’t actually. It ran off into the night when the boys found you.”
“Sirius Black and James Potter,” Dr. Finnigan stated surely. “I believe they are in Gryffindor House with you?”
What in the hell was going on here?
“Your grandparents will be here soon, maybe it’s best that they explain everything to you.” Dr. Finnigan quickly ducked out the door and I was, once again, alone. I slowly swung my legs to the other side of the bed, trying to stand up. I should have realized that after being in a bloody coma for three months that simple acts would be slightly more difficult. I lay, sprawled on the floor and noted how cool the tile was.
What exactly did he mean when he said, “by the end of the summer, you’ll be able to return to Hogwarts?” Everyone must be insane if they thought I was staying here for the rest of the summer. I was pretty sure that Gran would be able to take care of me just fine at home – and I would raise that note as soon as they got there. I struggled to my feet and in the back of my head I thought ironically that being in a coma hadn’t changed me from the clumsy klutz I was before. Sitting back down on the bed, I began to look through some of the flowers surrounding my bed. I picked a card out of a particularly bizarre looking bouquet and read the note.
“Hope” you feel better! Xeno helped me pick out these flowers. They’ve got magical powers of healing, so I think by keeping them at your bedside it will improve your chances of waking up! I might just fill the whole room with them! Xx. Lena
I smiled, and noticed many other bizarre looking flowers that I assumed were from Lena.
“Oh sweet Merlin, Hopeless!” My grandmother burst into the room, happy tears glistening in her eyes. “You’re finally awake! I thought…” Her words trailed off and she hugged me tightly. My grandfather followed behind her, carefully.
“You gave us quite a scare there, Hopeless.” He smiled gently at me.
“Sorry Pop, it’s not like I did it on purpose.” I was still a little grumpy from being asleep for three months. What the fuck! “Can we go home now?” My grandparents looked at each other and appeared to be communicating telepathically. It wasn’t until two figures burst into the room that anyone spoke.
“Of course we can go home!” Henry spoke loudly, his eyes twinkling. Hardy stood beside him, looking ecstatic. Both my brothers rushed over to me and encased me in a bone crushing hug.
“Look how paaaale you are,” Hardy wrinkled his nose. “Gosh, have you spent the whole summer in a hospital or something?” Henry snickered.
“I think that what you really need right now is some sun,” he nodded. “Definitely some sun. And a chainsaw to take to your hair – but that’s not really a new development.”
I smacked both boys but couldn’t help but tear up. Even though I only thought I was asleep for a night, I had missed them. They had clearly missed me, and began to gather my things from around the room.
“Henry, Hardy, the doctors suggest that Hopeless stay here a bit longer so they can run some more tests…” My grandmother spoke sadly. My eyes got huge, and I gripped my grandfather’s sleeve.
“No tests,” I whispered to him. “Can’t you see, I’m awake and I’m fine?” He smiled down at me.
“You know, Bella, I think that the boys may be right. Hope probably just looks so dreadful because she’s been cooped up indoors all summer.” Wow, I love how the men I my family really know how to compliment a lady. Gran bit her lip.
“It’s not as if she’s been grounded, she’s been in a coma!” She sighed, and I felt bad because I could tell she was exhausted. It was all because of me.
“Please, Gran, you know how I feel about hospitals.” I begged her, my purple eyes twinkling. She looked at me for a moment, and I knew she was thinking about my mom. I was using the fact that I looked so much like my mom to beg my grandmother to bring me home – where I belonged.
“Fine,” she huffed with a sigh. “I’ll go talk to the Mediwitch about your discharge papers.”
It took about three hours for me to get fully discharged from the hospital. After such a brutal werewolf attack, the doctors wanted to keep me much longer to run more tests. They thought that they might be able to determine who the werewolf was by running tests of DNA recognition in some of my cuts. After all, all werewolves were supposed to be registered with the Ministry. This made my heart rise to my throat, I didn’t want Remus to get caught and punished for my attack. I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t him that attacked me. I was actually curious about the fact that he hadn’t bitten me and wanted to hear an explanation.
But when I got home, the thought of contacting Remus was pushed to the back of my head. I had important things to do, like reconnect with Jack – who had taken to hiding in my upstairs attic room. When I got home, my grandmother exclaimed that it was the first time she had seen him since they brought my things home from Hogwarts. I snuggled my cat, and he purred so loudly I thought he might explode. The next thing on my list of things to do was take a long, long, long bath. I threw about a pound of lavender salts into the tub in an attempt to rid myself of the hospital smell that seemed to follow me around. Jack curled his tail around the faucet, and perched on the edge of the tub – watching me with a curious expression like I might disappear again. After the bath, I finally looked in the mirror. My hair, which was normally such a disaster, fell long and limp past my shoulders, past my breasts and almost to my belly-button. Hm. It seemed that my crazy hair had kept growing while I was in my coma. I hopped in the shower and lathered it up with shampoo and conditioner – attempting to wash out more hospital grime.
The next few days I spent almost every minute in the back garden with my brothers – reading, playing card games and watching them run around foolishly. I was still pretty weak, and not up for running around. Gran brought out three large meals a day for me, with plenty of snacks. I had lost a lot of weight in my coma, and I looked honestly gaunt instead of my normal tiny. I knew that by the time I went back to Hogwarts, my weight wouldn’t be a problem. I’d probably actually gain a few pounds – since I wasn’t getting any exercise and my grandmother was constantly feeding me.
About a week later, Lena came to visit me. She sat in the garden with me, soaking up sunshine and expressing how glad she was that I hadn’t died. It was a little off-kilter, a little morbid but so adorable and so Lena that I was actually really happy to have a friend visiting me. She stayed the whole day until night, and enchanted several sparklers to stay spitting and sparkling around our chairs.
In the back of my head, I kept wondering and waiting for Sirius, James and Remus to contact me. Peter, it seemed, stayed clear of my house. My Gran didn’t mention it in front of me, but I knew she was wondering why he hadn’t stopped by. It was incredibly frustrating. Many nights, I woke up in a cold sweat after reliving that night in my dreams. What had happened after I passed out? How was I even still alive? How had they all escaped unscathed?
I wasn’t sure if I was more upset about James not contacting me, or Sirius. Or equally upset towards both. I wondered how I would react when I saw Remus next – if I would be traumatized and terrified or if I would treat him like my old friend. I knew I didn’t want to see Peter, as I remembered him being the first to run away in the face of a dangerous situation.
The rest of summer went by slowly, and I still heard nothing from the Marauders. I kept up with my relaxing routine and luckily there were no more trips to the Hospital. My school supplies list came with a personalized letter from Professor Dumbledore, explaining his great delight that I had woken up and promising that he would talk to me personally if I had any questions. At my grandmother’s insistence, I wrote him back. I didn’t exactly feel like having a one-on-one conversation with Dumbledore would answer my questions. The only ones who I knew could explain to me what really happened were avoiding me like I had the plague.
Many times, when I was alone, I wondered if they even cared. They probably knew I was awake by now, and they hadn’t made any effort to contact me. No owls, no visits, nothing. Not even a bouquet of “Sorry we almost killed you” flowers.
The next month really did fly by, it seemed that being unconscious for so long actually did take a bit of time to recover from. Before I knew it, it was two nights before I was going to leave for Hogwarts, and I was on my bed packing up my things. I had a checkup at St. Mungo’s tomorrow morning and I wasn't sure how long it would take. I needed a clean bill of health before I could “officially return” to Hogwarts for the year. I was folding and refolding my school uniform shirts, and packing the rest of my things. Jack was purring happily at my side – his whole body was stretched out and nuzzled into the blankets. I flicked my wand and my shirts floated over to my trunk and carefully packed themselves. I jumped and startled Jack when someone rapped on my bedroom window.
I walked over to my window and peeked out. I was surprised to see James Potter floating on a broomstick outside my bedroom window. He motioned for me to open the window and I did with a frown on my face.
“Hope,” he gasped as he stepped onto the floor of my bedroom. “Hey.”
That was all he had to say? Hey? I was so angry I thought I might scream. Instead, I turned my eyes into purple slits, mustered up a glare that James Potter himself would be proud of and turned sharply back towards my bed.
“You, uhh,” James moved a hand through his messy hair, “aren’t talking to me, are you?”
I merely glared and continued to fold my clothing. James sat down at the foot of my bed, and I shot him a nasty look that made him immediately stand up again. He leaned against his broomstick awkwardly and I smirked internally. Glad to see I still had a little bit of the old, “Hope Khol, Crazy Girl” left. Glad a bloody coma at the hands of the Marauders didn’t take that away from me.
“Well, uhh,” James stammered again. “Usually we send Remus to test out these awkward situations and do damage control but we weren’t exactly, uhh, sure how you would, uhh, react to him.”
I looked pointedly at him.
“I just wanted to kind of, uhh, offer a white flag to you from the, uhh, whole lot of us. I actually wanted to see, uhh, what you, um, remembered from the whole, uhh, night but,” I had never heard James Potter sound so uncomfortable. “Merlin, Hope, can’t you at least talk to me?”
I stared at him, and beside me Jack arched his back and hissed. James sighed heavily.
All of the anger, confusion and hurt that I had been feeling since I woke up in July bubbled over me until I was overcome.
“The thing is, Potter,” his name spat out of my mouth and I watched his face change in surprise, “ever since I’ve been awake I haven’t been able to truly talk to a single person about what really happened that night. I’ve been deflecting questions so much that I’m sure I’ll be put in mandatory therapy at St. Mungo’s at some point in the very distant future. The last thing that I remember is cradling Sirius’ body in my hands. And then I woke up three bloody months later in a hospital. There was no word from you, or any of your git friends. So you and Black got to walk around like you were heroes who saved me from some random werewolf. But I kept your bloody secret, if that’s what you came here to find out. And I got to spend my summer in a bloody coma. A coma,” I began to stumble over my words. “I think you should leave.”
“Hope,” James began but then shook his head. I could have sworn he looked ashamed. “You’re right. You’re completely right.”
“Of course I’m right!” I screeched. I meant to keep that in my head. “You’re all bloody gits! I could have died because of stupid Sirius Black and he can’t even stop by my hospital room when I’m unconscious to say ‘sorry?’ His stupid prank almost killed me!
James looked confused.
“Hope, it’s been a difficult summer for Sirius. I’m sure he probably stopped by but you wouldn’t exactly, well, uhh, know would you?”
“It’s been a difficult summer for Sirius?” I stared blankly at him. “Really, James, it’s been a difficult summer for Sirius? Was he in a coma? Did he miss the last month of school because he was in a hospital tied up in tubes and being constantly tested?” I laughed. “I can’t believe I was ever stupid enough to like either of you.”
James sighed, and his cheeks flushed. I knew I should have been embarrassed that I had just confessed my feelings for both James and Sirius, but I was too livid to feel anything except overwhelming frustration.
“I told you not to leave your room,” he muttered under his breath – more so to himself then to me.
“Merlin, James, just leave! Why won’t you fucking go?!”
“Fine,” he held his hands up in defeat. “Fine Hope.” He grabbed his broom and walked towards the window, opening it and then turning back towards me. “I really am glad you’re okay.”
He flew out the window just as I screamed and threw a pillow at his retreating back. Luckily for me, it fell just short of my window. I didn’t want to have to explain to Gran why I was throwing my pillows out the window of the attic.
The next morning, Pop accompanied me to St. Mungo’s. My grandmother’s frantic energy tended to make me even more nervous when we came to St. Mungo’s for these checkups, so Pop was a logical choice. His calm, quiet demeanor kept me somewhat calm and also quiet.
The Mediwitch who had originally been the first to see me wake up, Cedrella Weasley, was actually a lovely older woman who was able to always put me at ease with her stories about her son, Arthur, his wife Molly and their babies.
“So, your boyfriend must be glad that you’ve recovered so nicely.” Mrs. Weasley tutted to me as she waved her wand around me to begin a series of tests.
“My, ahh, what?” My cheeks burned hot pink. I don’t have a boyfriend. I scoffed at the idea in my head. I’m the crazy girl who was in a coma for the summer – and that was the peak of my social life. Mrs. Weasley obviously assumed I was a nice, normal girl – not an antisocial, spastic mess.
“Your boyfriend?” Mrs. Weasley now sounded confused. “Well, he slept here at least every night for the first month of summer and a bit longer before the doctors caught him.” She paused, smiling. “I got into a bit of trouble for letting him stay, but I can’t help it. I do love a bit of romance.”
Mrs. Weasley looked bothered and a bit concerned.
“You really don’t have any idea what I’m talking about – do you?”
I shook my head and bit my bottom lip. Self consciously, I began playing with the knots of my dark hair. Who could she possibly be talking about? Mrs. Weasley bustled around the examining room – muttering to herself under her breath.
“I do believe there is a security photograph of him – the doctors developed it and handed it out to all the Mediwitches to let them know he wasn’t allowed to spend the night anymore.” She looked over at me with sad eyes. “He came to visit you after that, but he didn’t seem to want to see your grandparents. He stopped by once and almost bumped into your brothers and, dear Merlin, I thought he was going to faint! It seemed that he only wanted to be alone with you. He checked on you nearly every day, that he did. Even came by the day you were discharged. The poor lad, I think he assumed you’d taken a turn for the worst when he saw your empty bed. I was happy to explain to him that you had woken up and gone home!” She paused. “He just stood there though, when I told him, like a lost boy – all confused. Then he thanked me and left. Haven’t seen him since.” She grabbed a photograph out of a drawer. “Don't know why I woul though," she muttered. "Still, I thought it was adorable how he would come and sleep in that ratty little chair every night – just content with holding your hand.”
Holding my hand? My heart was pounding in my eardrums as I grasped the picture with both hands. I looked down and my mouth fell open.
“Mrs. Weasley, can I,” I paused, staring at the photograph and I felt a tear drip down my face. “Can I keep this?”
The older witch smiled a knowing smile at me.
“Of course dear.”
I waited until I felt the whole house go to sleep before I pulled the photograph out again. I stared at it, trying hard to remember anything – but I knew it was useless.
The photograph showed me, lying in the hospital bed with all those horrible tubes and my body heavily bandaged. My hair was fanned out over my pillow and my eyes were closed. I watched as the action in the photograph – more a mini-video than anything else – unfolded. A hooded young man entered the room with a rucksack. He pulled the ratty old armchair up to the bed and organized his things on the floor against it. Then, settling into the seat with his hood still on, he took my hand in his and began rubbing my hand with his thumb. He leaned forward to whisper something to me, that I wished I could remember, and then leaned back in his chair. As he leaned back, his hood fell off and I watched in astonishment and wonder as the hooded figure revealed himself to be Sirius. He held onto my hand tightly, still rubbing it carefully, until the photograph began to replay.
Sirius had come to see me this summer.
According to Mrs. Weasley, he had stayed with me every night for at least a month.
Sirius had held my hand every night.
Sirius had slept beside me in an uncomfortable armchair.
Sirius had come to see me this summer, practically every day.
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