Rose Weasley looked at the greyscale image Madam Pomfrey was holding up for her. She eyed the round, white smudges across her chest. She then looked back at the scan results for the umpteenth time. Random words and phrases jumped out at her: adenocarcinoma of the lung, stage IV, median survival rate eight months, chemotherapy…
None of them seemed to make any sense. The only word that did was cancer.
Rose looked up at the old Hogwarts nurse again. The kind woman looked down at her with a grave expression; Rose was touched and saddened to see tears brimming in her eyes.
“Eight months?” she asked Madam Pomfrey quietly. The nurse put down the terrible internal image of Rose’s chest and sat down behind her desk with a deep sigh.
“Due to your age and health, I would guess at around a year,” Madam Pomfrey replied with a shaking voice. “Usually, women have a higher survival rate than men, but at stage IV, the chances of pulling through are less than ten percent,” At this point, the woman had to stop and blow her nose. Rose sat in shock, her eyes dry, her fingers poised over her heart. To think that this evil sickness had festered in her body for so long and no one had found it…
“I’m sorry, Miss Weasley,” Madam Pomfrey said once she had calmed her sobbing.
“It’s all right,” Rose replied steadily, not a single tear sliding down her freckled cheeks. It was all so surreal, like a dream, or someone else’s life. She just couldn’t digest the diagnosis.
Rose had come in the day before, after a Bludger slammed into her chest during the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff Quidditch match. Madam Pomfrey had, of course, fixed her up in record time, and the Scanning Spell was necessary. It was routine for patients with broken bones and other internal injuries or illnesses; it allowed Healers to see inside their patients' bodies without messy Muggle surgeries or large, bulky machines. But the results of what should’ve been just a precautionary scan turned out to be horrifying.
“My options,” Rose asked the nurse blankly, “what are they?”
Madam Pomfrey held back another sob, striving to remain somewhat professional, and found that she couldn’t look the girl in the eye. “As you are a stage IV patient, your only options left are treatments to ease the pain and hopefully extend your life,” she said thickly, trying to emotionally detach herself before she completely broke down. “The cancer has spread too far to hope for any long-term survival.”
“So, what you’re saying is that no matter what, anything I do won’t have any effect?” Rose asked, sitting up straighter as the volume of her voice began to rise. “That I’ll die no matter what?”
“Never say that, Miss Weasley,” Madam Pomfrey said forcefully. “We must always hope -”
“Hope?!” Rose shouted, standing up so fast that her chair fell over backwards; Pomfrey winced at the noise. “What's the point?! You already said it yourself, that we can’t hope for any - a-any ‘long-term survival.’” She had no idea where this sudden rage was coming from, but it was common knowledge that once a Weasley got going, they were harder to stop than trains.
Before the nurse could stutter a reply, the door to her office burst open and Professor McGonagall, the Headmistress, walked in, followed by Ron and Hermione Weasley, Rose's parents. The latter two were obviously confused, but the Headmistress’s face was grave. It was clear McGonagall knew.
“Rose!” Hermione exclaimed at once, going to her daughter. “What’s all this?”
“Yeah, Rosie,” Ron said, picking his daughter’s fallen chair off of the ground. Rose sat. “Is everything okay?”
“Madam Pomfrey?” Hermione addressed the matron as she sat in another chair next to Rose.
“Mr. and Mrs. Weasley,” Madam Pomfrey said quietly. “I’m so sorry to tell you -”
“What?” Ron burst out. “Tell us what?” His wife shushed him and turned back to the nurse.
Madam Pomfrey took a deep breath and started again. “R-Rose…she was hit by a Bludger in yesterday’s Quidditch match. In the chest."
“Is she all right?” Hermione asked, while Ron addressed Rose.
“Did you win?” Rose found she couldn’t look at either of her parents.
“Ronald!” his wife scolded.
“I fixed her up and she stayed the night in the Hospital Wing,” Madam Pomfrey said, ignoring Ron and Hermione’s words. Professor McGonagall stayed quiet, standing at the back of the small room and staring at the wall behind the nurse's desk. “However, I performed the Scanning Spell on her, as she had broken several ribs. Everything seemed in order, but I found…” At this point, Madam Pomfrey found herself unable to voice Rose’s ailment.
"Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, your daughter -” she started again, but this time Rose herself spoke up.
“No.” Everyone looked at her. “I want to tell them.”
“Tell us what, Rosie?” Hermione asked quietly, staring intently at her daughter. Rose tried to meet her gaze, but found that she couldn't.
“Are you sick?” Ron asked, kneeling down to eye level. Rose looked at him and felt her eyes begin to sting with tears. She nodded.
“Don’t worry, dear,” Hermione cooed softly as her daughter began to cry in earnest. “It’s all right.” Ron stroked Rose’s hair, bushy and out of control like her mother’s, red as a carrot like her father’s.
“No, it’s not,” Rose said finally, gaining control of her voice. Hermione and Ron stared at their daughter, lost for words. “Mum, Dad, I…” She looked at their parents, studying their faces, knowing that the disease in her body would destroy her family. How would they take it? How would Hugo take it? How would Gramma Molly and Grandpa Arthur take it? What about James, Al, Lily, Roxie, Fred, Louis, Molly, Lucy, Dom, Vic, Teddy, her uncles, her aunts, how would they take it?
“Mum, Dad…I have lung cancer.”
Professor McGonagall burst out in tears.
Author's Note: To anyone out there that has cancer, knows someone with cancer, or has lost someone due to cancer, this story is all for you. It's also for my maternal grandmother and my dad.
This story was inspired by the Showtime series 'The Big C,' which is about a middle-aged woman who has Stage IV melanoma and decides to do whatever she wants with the time she has left. Basically. So I guess thank you to the show's creators and Laura Linney, for being such an amazing actress!
I don't know whether I want to continue this story or not, or whether I even should, especially since I have another WIP already. However, since my other story (Just Lily, you should read it you know!) is a comedy and this story is a drama, I think I could switch on and off. (EDIT 11/3: Alright, JL is on hiatus, so this story has my full attention now.)
Please review! I know it can be a pain, but even if it's just "i leik dis storey continew" that makes me happy! That little box down there is hungry for feedback (preferebly positive, although honesty is much better for a healthy review diet).