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Chapter 18 : “A plague a’ both your houses”
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His head still hurt, his skin felt like it was on fire, and he didn’t care if he ever ate again. The only blessed relief he felt was in the silence.
Sometimes he was hot. Sometimes he was freezing. There was absolutely no sense of time. Early on he was vaguely aware of Corinne crying and Nana Daphne’s horrified face.
Is she angry with me or about Corinne’s haircut?
A Healer in Lime Green robes was examining him. He was ancient in years. He looked somewhat familiar.
“…worst case I’ve seen in years. He must have been exposed recently. Are his parents aware of his condition?”
“Yes,” came the icy response. Scorpius recognised it as Nana’s.
“Hogwarts should be notified. If you like, I can send a message to the Head of Slytherin House.”
“He’s not in Slytherin, he’s Hufflepuff.”
After a long silence the Healer spoke, “Well, then, I’ll send a message to Professor Lupin.”
“His parents will need to decide what to do.”
Scorpius opened his eyes and was greeted with almost complete darkness. There was a very low glow from the dying embers of the fireplace. Shadows of the room were visible, but not much else.
He was not in his room.
Not his normal room anyway. Presently his eyes became accustomed to the glow to recognize the room he was now in.
It was circular.
Thousands of drawings covered the walls; images drawn in charcoal, ink, and paint. Some figures were recognizable.
It was his mother’s childhood room.
Mum, I want to get out.
The slight creaking was the first noise he’d heard in a while. Opening his eyes, he looked around, searching for the source.
He couldn’t figure it out.
The creaking continued, after a moment of silence he could hear a door opening. Nana Daphne’s oldest house elf entered the room bearing a food tray.
He limped slowly over to Scorpius’ bed and set the food on the small table nearby. It looked like there was a bowl of soup and a cup of tea. Scorpius could see the steam rising from both.
The house elf didn’t speak a word to Scorpius. Warily he glanced at him and Scorpius could see a mixture of pity and…and was that fear in his eyes?
He tried to remember the elf’s name. Nothing came to mind. He called out weakly,
“Excuse me please, I need to see Nana.”
The elf was gone and the food was stone cold.
He lost count of how many times the house elf brought food. After the second time, Scorpius tried to eat. After one bite he vomited so hard that he coughed up blood.
He didn’t try to eat again.
“Scorpius,” the voice said.
“Scorpius, son, wake up.”
Scorpius opened his eyes. His father looked down on him, his eyes blazing like a storm.
“Where am I going?” The sound came out raspy and was nothing like his normal voice.
“I’m taking you to St. Mungo’s. You’ll receive proper care there,” he said gently.
Draco stayed by his side until the St. Mungo attendants arrived. Only then did he walk away, but not without saying, “I’ll be with you at the hospital.”
The attendants were covered in protective robes. The treated him gently, efficiently, and spoke in calming tones. This calmness was interrupted as they moved him down the stairs.
“What were you thinking, old woman!” Draco shouted.
“There is no need for that, Draco,” he heard Nana retort.
“There is absolutely need for that,” he continued, “what, you thought if you locked him away like you did his mother that would fix things?”
“How dare you! I’ve seen to his needs!”
“His needs? He hasn’t eaten in how long? He’s probably lost 20 pounds in the last 10 days!”
Scorpius couldn’t make out the rest. He could tell Corinne was nearby. She was sobbing loudly. “I’m so sorry Uncle Draco…it’s all my fault.”
“Here we are, young man,” one of the attendants said. “A special portkey to St. Mungo’s.”
“You may feel a little queasy,” Said the other.
Upon arrival at the hospital, he vomited over both of them and passed out.
He regained consciousness in a softly lit room. For the first time in days he felt warm and comfortable. A Healer in lime green robes and a blonde ponytail was writing in a chart with her back to Scorpius. He tried to sit up and the movement attracted her attention.
“Let me help you,” she said and pulled out her wand.
Scorpius started. It was Victoire Weasley.
With a flick her her wand Scorpius was sitting up comfortably, padded by pillows. He tried to speak, but no sound would come out.
“Do you think you could keep down some water?”
After a brief pause, he nodded. She summoned a cup and used aguamenti .
The water was a relief on his throat. He was finally able to speak.
“Am I in St. Mungo’s?”
“Yes, you’ve been here for a while. It is now March 12.”
He was astounded at how much time had passed and appreciative of her exact information. How forthcoming would she be with other information?
“What is wrong with me?”
“Please,” he insisted. “I’ve been in the dark for so long. I need to know what is wrong with me. Where are my parents? School’s started again, can I get my homework? When am I going to get better?”
She held up her hand to stop him.
“I know you have questions, Scorpius. Your father asked to be the one to tell you, but he’s currently quarantined now.”
“Yes, at his home in the Jersey Islands. He was exposed to you and they need to make sure he’s OK.”
Exposed? To me?
“You are recovering from Dragon Pox.” She paused a moment to let the information sink in.
“It’s the worst case that anyone has seen in years.”
“Am I over it?”
“Not quite, you still have several more days of potions to ingest.”
He noticed now that there was some magical coating that covered her from head to toe. He realised that it was for her protection.
She caught him staring at it. “I’m sorry, but the magical protection is necessary until you are off the potions.” She brightened, “I do have letters for you!” She retrieved a stack from a nearby table. “My fiancé, Teddy Lupin, has been very worried about you. His letter is in there as well.”
Scorpius looked through the letters. They were from: Cornelius and Jussy (written together), Tarani, Corinne, Mum, Dad and Professor Lupin.
He read Jussy and Cornelius’ first.
Bad luck on the illness! Hope you are doing better. The ministry went bonkers when it was discovered what you had. Put us all through the third degree. No matter, none of us are sick and we are hopeful for your return.
Jussy brought your cousin, Corinne, to the New Year’s party. Poor thing, she was distraught over you, but we did our best to pull her out of her shell. She really is alright.
Don’t worry about Quidditch. The entire Hufflepuff house is behind you. We told Professor Lupin that if we couldn’t play with you then we wouldn’t play at all. We’ve forfeited the games until you are back and can play.
I imagine Cornelius told you about Quidditch. Don’t let it get you down, we’re all behind you. Corinne is suffering from a major GUILT complex, so for pity’s sake, put her out of her misery. She’s blaming herself and we all know she had nothing to do with your illness. (I think your Nana may have something to do with that.)
Anyway, we think she’s a lovely girl and hope she’s in Hufflepuff next term. I’m sending you all of my notes and Cornelius’ (you know he’s better at History of Magic) so that you can keep up. Not that you want to be doing schoolwork, but if I know you (and I thing I do) that’s what is bothering you the most.
Scorpius smiled at the loyalty of his friends and his house. He read on.
Please don’t throw this letter away. I am so sorry. Uncle Draco, Justine, and Cornelius say it’s not my fault at all. Nana says I shouldn’t have run you so hard on your visit. I feel so awful! Please say you’ll forgive me.
Your friends are so wonderful. Jussy came to get me for the New Year’s Party at Cornelius’. She is the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen. I can’t believe how much she knows about Quidditch. (Scorpius laughed out loud at that.) Cornelius and his family were so welcoming! I’ve never had a better pizza. Tarani didn’t come since you weren’t there. I’m sure she’s absolutely wonderful. Anyone who’s a girlfriend of yours must be.
Hoping I’m forgiven,
P.S. No one has yelled at me for my haircut yet.
Tarani’s was brief:
I hope you are recovering nicely. We miss you here at school. It’s not the same without you.
Professor Lupin’s was the longest of all.
I hope this letter finds you well. Your friends at Hogwarts, and there are many, are all rooting for your speedy recovery and return to school. Justine and Cornelius have been most meticulous in gathering your schoolwork. I hope it is not too overwhelming. Victoire says you are responding well to treatment. I hope you are not offended at this breach in confidentiality, but, my boy, I’ve been worried. It has been a relief to hear the good news from Victoire. If indeed you are offended, then feel free to inform the Headmistress and I shall take my punishment.
Oh, Merlin, he thought, as if I’m going to get all pissed off about that.
I’m sure at this point you’ve heard of the unanimous decision of the Quidditch team to forfeit until you return. I assure you that it was indeed a joint decision and it has the full backing of the Hufflepuff house. No one wants to continue without you and they are quite happy to take the penalty in house points. Incidentally, we aren’t in last place. We are third. We currently lead Slytherin by 30 points. Also, it should be noted, we are only 50 points behind Gryffindor. My “god-cousin” James Potter, is the cause of that. Ravenclaw, actually, is poised currently to capture the House Cup.
There are other family members that also wish you a speedy recovery. Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny have you uppermost in their thoughts. Lily and Rose send their best and so does Albus. Now, I know you must think that Albus misses you more for your Potions knowledge, but I must tell you that I don’t think that is his entire agenda. No, I’m not just saying that.
Enough of my rambling. I understand through Victoire that you may be convalescing with your father at his home near Jersey. Victoire and I have taken a home nearby and I hope to be able to meet with you. If you should require any tutoring, then I am at your service.
Mum and Dad’s letters were brief. Mum expressed her frustration with the Ministry that she wasn’t allowed to see her son and Dad simply said that as soon as quarantine was over he’d be at the hospital.
The letters filled him with comfort and a little bit of joy. He fell asleep with a smile on his face.
ext day he was greeted by Victoire’s smiling face. “Today you are checking out of St Mungo’s! Your father will be here shortly to fetch you.”
“Yes, and I’ll be available weekly to check on your progress.” She blushed, “Did Teddy tell you we live nearby?”
“Yes, he did.”
“I don’t want you to worry. You’ll be in good hands.”
Scorpius watched her as she went through her ministrations.
“Healer Weasley, what happened to your accent?”
She stopped mid-motion and turned to face him. “You are the first person to ask me that. My first internship was in New York. It pretty much killed any accent I had.”
Carefully she helped him to the lavatory. “Are you alright to get ready?” She hurriedly continued, “I can fetch another healer intern, a man, to help you bathe and dress if you’d like.”
“No thank you,” he responded. “I’ll be alright.”
Easier said than done. It took him an hour just to get into the tub and bathe. Getting out was a chore. Dressing was worse.
Then, as he looked in the mirror, he panicked.
In the reflection, he saw a monster.
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