Chapter 16 : Recovery
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“You’ve been her friend for all of five seconds and you want to keep vigil at her bedside? It’s a bit creepy Smythe.” ~James Potter
“I just want to make sure she’s ok.”
“Well, we’ll let you know. Now I think you should just run along, back to your common room.”
“You can’t talk to me like that – I’m older than you!”
“I don’t care how old you are grandpa, it doesn’t mean you have a right to be here!”
“Would the two of you stop it please? I’m sure the last thing Tabby wants to hear when she wakes up is people fighting!”
These words all seemed to string together in Tabitha’s mind in a messy blur of sound. She recognised the voices, but in the dark fuzziness of her brain, she couldn’t seem to organise anything properly. She was aware that she was laying on something firm, yet warm and soft. There was a sharp throbbing in her head and her whole body was aching, as though she’d been running for a very long time. The fog in her brain began to gradually dissipate and she managed to place some of the voices.
“She just looks so small and fragile lying there, I wish she would wake up.” Annie whispered, her voice sounding very close by.
“She will. Madam Pomfrey said she’ll be ok.” Natalie soothed, her voice seemed to come from the other side of Tabitha.
“Look would you just go? You shouldn’t be here.” This was James’s voice, although it sounded slightly hushed.
“I think I have a right to be here, I’m practically her boyfriend!” Tabitha recognised the second hushed male voice as Peter. Even with a foggy brain, his words sent butterflies flying through her stomach. James gave a sarcastic laugh.
“Oh you are not her boyfriend Smythe. I think you just need to back off.” He snapped. Tabitha’s brain was clearing faster now, and she was pretty sure she could manage to open her eyes, or even speak. Taking a deep breath that caused her to ache even more, Tabitha attempted to find her voice.
“I think you just need to shut up, Potter.” She croaked, her voice barely louder than a whisper. She heard someone nearby gasp before the room went silent. Tabitha wondered if she’d imagined the voices and by talking had caused them all to disappear. Slowly, painfully, she opened her eyes. Mercifully, she was in a dimly lit room. She was lying on her back, staring at the ceiling. From the stone arches above her, she gathered she had been brought inside the castle. She blinked several times, trying to adjust her eyes.
“Tabby?” Natalie’s voice whispered towards her as a warm hand enveloped her own. Tabitha turned her head slowly until she found the familiar grey eyes, radiating with concern.
“Hi.” Tabitha croaked out again, trying to smile at her friend. The concern in Natalie’s eyes lessened as she smiled back and squeezed Tabitha’s hand.
“Oh thank Merlin you’re ok, we were all so worried.”
Tabitha took in the room around her as Natalie spoke. She recognised the paintings on the walls and the curtains on the windows, but it still took her brain another second to work out that she was lying on a bed in the hospital wing. The lamps on the walls were all lit, casting the dim glow around the room and causing Tabitha to wonder what time it was. She felt fingers curl around her other hand and turned to see Annie on the other side, her cheeks stained with tears.
“Oh Tabby.” She simply said, her soft voice sounding thick. Tabitha smiled at Annie, and turned her attention to the foot of the bed, where two handsome, dark-haired boys stood, both staring at her with an anxious intensity. Tabitha had never noticed how similar James and Peter looked until she saw them standing side by side like that. She tried to smile at them and in response, Peter beamed back at her.
“You alright there Hart? You certainly had us all scared.” He said, cheerfully.
“Oh yeah, couple of bumps and bruises, I’ll be fine.” She replied. She tried to sit up, but winced in pain as she realised it was a harder task than she had first anticipated. Her four visitors all leaned forward nervously at the pained expression on her face.
“Tabby, be careful. You don’t want to hurt yourself any further.” Annie cautioned as Tabitha slowly wriggled herself into a sitting position. She was still trying to get comfortable when Madam Pomfrey walked over, her heels clicking on the stone floor.
“Oh Miss Hart, you’re awake. I thought it had gone rather quiet over here.” She said, glaring accusingly at the boys. Tabitha wondered briefly how long they had been fighting before she had woken. The nurse retrieved some pillows from the next bed and helped Tabitha to sit up properly, placing the extra pillows behind her back and neck. “I’ll just go and fetch your potion.” She said, before marching back out to her office. Tabitha watched her walk away before she looked back at the foot of the bed and realised James and Peter were having a hushed discussion, both looking quite adamant and annoyed with the other.
“Why?” Peter hissed. “I see no reason why I can’t stay.”
“You’ve been her friend for all of five seconds and you want to keep vigil at her bedside? It’s a bit creepy Smythe.” James retorted. Tabitha moved her hand to rub her head gingerly and was surprised to discover that it was wrapped in some sort of cloth.
“Potter, didn’t I tell you to shut up?” Tabitha moaned, running her fingers over what she assumed to be bandages. The two boys turned to look at her, James looking furious. “What happened to my head?” She asked no-one in particular. Madam Pomfrey came back at that moment, a goblet in her hand.
“You had quite the fall Miss Hart, eight broken bones and countless cuts and bruises. All easily fixed of course, but you cracked your skull quite badly when you hit it and I’m afraid it will take several days to heal.” She handed Tabitha the goblet, which was smoking slightly. “Drink this please.” She said, and Tabitha obeyed. The dark liquid burned her throat as she swallowed, but she noticed that almost immediately, the throbbing in her head seemed to lessen considerably. “Now gentlemen, Miss Hart needs some rest and I’m sure Miss Cooper and Miss Moore will provide enough company. Off you go please.” Madam Pomfrey instructed the boys in a no-nonsense voice. Both boys looked at Tabitha hesitantly.
“Go.” She said, trying to communicate that she would be fine. “Peter, I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok?” She added. The Ravenclaw, still wearing his blue and bronze scarf, smiled at her.
“Definitely, we still have to work out our Hogsmeade date.” He said, before turning and leaving the hospital wing. James hesitated at the foot of Tabitha’s bed, looking positively furious. He stared at her angrily as though he wanted to say something, but thought better of it and stalked silently out of the room. Madam Pomfrey closed the door behind them.
“I’ll have some food brought up for the three of you.” She said, before retreating back to her office.
“What’s up with Potter? Talk about grumpy!” Tabitha grinned at her friends and she settled back against the pillows. Natalie and Annie caught each other’s eye knowingly. “What?” Tabitha asked. “What’s that look supposed to mean?”
“Weelll…”Natalie started hesitantly.” Tabitha looked back and forth between her friends, silently demanding an answer.
“James was sort of the one who saved you.” Annie blurted.
“What?” Tabitha asked, confused. Annie and Natalie looked at each other again. Eventually, Natalie let out a sigh and gave an explanation.
“When you fell, James was right there and he tried to catch you, to grab you before you fell, but he wasn’t quick enou…well you fell so fast Tabby. And then, while everyone was screaming, he just whipped out his wand, performed a cushioning charm to slow down your falling. He managed to hover you back up to safety, but you’d hit your head on a beam and had passed out by then.” Natalie took a deep breath and bit her lip as she watched Tabitha’s confused expression.
“He saved your life Tabby. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if he hadn’t…” Annie’s voice began to tremble and she couldn’t finish what she was saying.
“You’re just very lucky Potter was there; and that he thought of something so quickly.” Natalie finished. Tabitha stared at the foot of her bed where James had been standing only minutes before. She felt an uncomfortable twinge of guilt in her stomach when she remembered how she had told him to shut up. She groaned as she realised James was probably going to hold this over her head for the rest of their time at school.
“Are you alright?” Annie asked, her hands fluttering uselessly over Tabitha’s arm.
“I’m fine,” Tabitha replied, and was saved from giving further explanation by Madam Pomfrey, who returned at that moment with a large tray of food for the girls.
“You may eat and then I think you girls should go and leave Miss Hart to get some rest.” She said. “I will come back in half an hour.” The girls tucked into the sandwiches and soup on the tray in front of them hungrily.
“So,” Annie smiled at Tabitha over a mug of steaming soup. “What’s this about a Hogsmeade date with Peter Smythe?”
Tabitha had to stay in the Hospital wing for four nights before Madam Pomfrey was convinced she was well enough to return to her regular classes. Despite the fact she was still covered in bruises, Tabitha was relieved when, on late Wednesday afternoon, she was allowed to leave the hospital wing and head back to the Gryffindor common room. She’d had many visitors over her days of confinement, but at night, she was left alone in the dark, quiet, empty hospital wing. Alone with only her thoughts, Tabitha found herself once again fighting off the gnawing fears that had been plaguing her since she had discovered the secret of her mother’s diary. Knowing Madam Pomfrey was asleep in the next room still wasn’t enough to ease her anxiety, and Tabitha had been grateful for the sleeping draught that she had been administered each night.
The common room was empty when Tabitha climbed through the portrait hole, and a quick glance at the clock told her that most students would still be in their last lesson for the day, which wasn’t due to finish for another twenty minutes. Tabitha sat herself down at a seat by the window and watched the forbidden forest while she waited, finding the gentle, rhythmic waving of the tree branches to be calming.
She glanced up at the sound of the portrait hole opening and was surprised when James climbed through, his bag slung over his shoulder. He stopped suddenly when he saw her, an apprehensive expression crossing his face. Tabitha felt the uncomfortable guilt twist in her stomach again at the sight of him. James hadn’t come back to visit her in the hospital wing, and though she wouldn’t admit it to anyone, she had found herself looking up expectantly at each new visitor, hoping it would be James. Now, he stood in the centre of the common room, staring at her as though he were afraid she would break, a deafening silence between them.
“Why aren’t you in class?” She asked in an attempt to break the tension. She knew that James should be in Muggle Studies, since that was where she would be, had she not just been released from the hospital wing.
“Professor Northwood had to go away for some…personal thing,” James explained, his voice expressionless. “No one else was available to take the class so we were given a study lesson.”
“Oh. Ok.” Tabitha replied before falling into awkward silence again. James stood there for another moment before turning and heading towards the boy’s dormitory stairs.
“Thank you.” She said suddenly, surprising even herself. James froze at the foot of the stairs and turned to face her. “The girls told me what you did on Saturday, how you…helped me.” She couldn’t bring herself to use the word ‘saved’. “I just wanted to say thanks.”
James watched her for a moment longer before dropping his bag, walking over and sitting beside her. He stared at her for a moment, as though trying to decide what to say.
“How are you feeling?” He eventually settled on. Tabitha let out a sigh of relief, glad he had finally said something.
“I’m ok, still a bit sore. Pomfrey says I’m not allowed on a broom for at least another week though.” She replied, watching James carefully, trying to gauge his reaction.
“A week? Seriously?” He said, the old cheeky smile returning to his lips. “Oh well, sucks to be you!”
“Thanks so much, I appreciate the support.” Tabitha replied sarcastically. James laughed, and Tabitha couldn’t help but laugh along with him. “How crazy is this whole thing though?” Tabitha mused. “Falling through a broken step in the Quidditch stands, I mean how unlucky do I have to be?”
“It is weird.” James replied, a thoughtful look on his face. “It was really odd you know, the step literally snapped in two, like it had been cut.”
“Really?” Tabitha replied. “And all those other people had stepped on it before me too. Wow, I must be really unlucky!”
“Or really heavy.” James teased. Tabitha narrowed her eyes at him, the old anger reigniting.
“Potter! How dare you…!” She growled, her hand instinctively balling up into a fist. James saw this and put his own hands up to protect himself.
“Oi! I don’t care if you’ve just come out of the hospital wing, don’t you dare punch me again, that really hurt last time!”
“Well you deserve it! I can’t believe you just called me fat!” Tabitha was seething at this point.
“Oh for Merlin’s sake Hart, I was being ironic! You are obviously not fat!” James snapped back at her. “Don’t you ever look in a mirror? You are clearly…” His voice trailed away and his eyes widened in shock at the unspoken words he had only just restrained himself from saying. Tabitha almost thought his cheeks looked a little pink.
“I’m clearly what, Potter?” She chuckled, incredibly amused by how embarrassed James looked. He glared at her, and Tabitha couldn’t help but laugh at how the roles had been reversed. Usually it was her feeling awkward and angry while James found her fury amusing. Before she could embarrass him further however, the portrait hole opened and Natalie, Annie, Rheydyn and Rowan came clambering through.
“Tabby!” Natalie exclaimed, rushing over and embracing her friend, although she tried to be gentle when she saw Tabitha wince with pain. “Sorry, I forgot.” She said guiltily.
“It’s ok,” she said as she hugged each of them. “I’m nowhere near as bad as I was.” Tabitha had to admit that Madam Pomfrey was one talented healer. She didn’t even have a scar from where she had hit her head, and from what she’d heard, she had hit her head pretty hard.
“Tabby, Peter’s waiting outside the portrait hole for you, he wants to see how you are.” Rheydyn said sweetly, smiling as she sat on the other side of James, who shifted slightly in his seat.
“Aw, he’s waiting outside like good little puppy dog.” He crooned in a babyish voice. Tabitha glared at him as she stood.
“You are such an idiot Potter.” She turned to the others, “I’ll see you guys down at dinner ok?” They all nodded, although Tabitha thought they looked a bit sad that she was leaving just as they got there. But I can’t just leave him standing out there in the corridor, she thought to herself as she climbed though the portrait hole. Peter was sitting on a nearby step and Tabitha sat down next to him.
“Hey!” He smiled, as he looked over. “How’re you feeling? Good to be free again?”
“Yeah, it is nice to look at something other than the same four walls.” Tabitha replied. She placed her hands on her knees and drummed her fingers casually. Peter still made her nervous, especially when he smiled at her. He’d come to visit her every day she was in the Hospital wing, even brought her a bunch of flowers. Tabitha felt her ears grow hot as she remembered what she had heard Peter say to James when they all thought she was still unconscious. ‘I’m practically her boyfriend.’
“Well I just wanted to see how you are and thought we could maybe organise what we’re going to do on Sunday? I mean if you still want to,” Peter said, his hands also resting on his knees. He flexed his fingers a few times in a way that Tabitha thought seemed to be a nervous habit. Spontaneously, she reached over and placed her hand on his, gently.
“Of course I still want to.” She said, “How about we meet at the Three Broomsticks for lunch at twelve-thirty and we can spend the afternoon together?” She surprised herself with how confident her voice sounded, while her insides were trembling. She was actually making plans to spend time in Hogsmeade with a boy! Peter smiled at her.
“Sounds like a plan to me.” He said, turning his hand over so he could curl his fingers around hers. Tabitha noticed that while they were large and strong, they were also cold and clammy. He has been sitting out here in a cold hallway though. She told herself. “Can I walk you down to dinner?” Peter asked, pulling Tabitha out of her in-depth, hand-holding analysis. She smiled at her ‘almost boyfriend.’
A/N: Ahhhh I wouldn't be so mean or so stupid as to kill off my main character this early in the story! I hope you all like this chapter. Just a warning that the next couple of chapters are a little bit fluffy and relationshippy but don't worry there's plenty of mystery and adventure to come!
Thanks to all my loyal readers for enjoying Tabby's story as much as I do and for all your great reviews. Please leave me a review and let me know what you thought of this chapter, I love to hear from you all :D
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