There was something soothing about the evening. It didn’t frighten Rose, the way it did the other girls on the ward. Something about it made her feel safe, secure. It felt like it was wrapping her up in its soft arms, shushing her under its breath, no pressure. There was a kind of peacefulness about it.
It just came on so slowly.
It was summer, which normally would mean long walks in the park, endless hours under the sun, and a good amount of reading getting done.
Instead she was here. And like any other person, she was bored.
Rose didn't need to be here; she didn't. She wasn't ill. Anorexia was for stupid, insecure people, for people who didn't understand all the beauty about life. Rose Weasley knew anorexia wasn't expressive, or creative. It didn't make you look mysterious or soulful. She hadn't been given a mirror during her stay here, but she'd seen enough on the sunken cheeks of the other girls, their spotty ill nourished skin, the dark circles under their eyes, the greasy thiness of their hair.
She'd seen enough to know what she looked like herself.
It was funny. In the comfort of her own bedroom, her own house, she hadn't thought she looked like that. She'd never been pretty, but she'd never been ugly. Maybe there wasn't a stunning feature about her, but she'd been fine. Now she felt hideous.
It was also strange to think that she was really here. The girls that ended up in here were often the kind who also ended up on the cover of Witch Weekly and were discussed in the waiting rooms of St. Mungos amongst middle-aged women who were unaware that only a few floors above, there were some of these girls just waiting to be gawped at. Only visitors were seldom seen around here. Except for Rose's visitors.
Rose glanced back towards the window. The sun was setting, finally.
Visiting hours started at weird times on this ward. Apparently the evening was when most of the girls were up, having been too clocked into the habit of waiting until everyone was upstairs and busy so they could go downstairs and purge or whatever it was that struck your fancy.
The doors at the end of the ward opened, and a couple entered: a woman with bushy brown hair and a long-nosed man with bright red hair. They crept up to her bed at the very end and Rose turned her head away to look out the window. Her parents, sympathetic though they were, didn't need to be here. She didn't want them. They made her feel guilty, but they also made her angry. They'd put her here, a place that was of no use to her. The nurses did nothing but give her small portions and weighed her every day. She did the second thing all the time back at home.
"Hi, Rosie", Hermione said softly. She clearly gave up the effort of finding something else to say and simply put her hand over her daughters, who prompty snatched it back without looking and continued staring, unseeing, out the window.
Her dad said nothing, knowing that anything he said would be useless.
This was something Rose had only noticed in the early hours of this morning, and it pleased her slightly, realising the control she had over her parents. She did not feel weak and vulnerable like the other girls in her ward. She felt powerful.
"Go away", she murmured, expecting them to simply sigh-maybe her mum would squeeze her hand-and walk out.
They did not.
"I said, get out", Rose repeated. Her voice was hoarse from lack of use, and maybe this was why her parents remained seated. They did not feel the power she did radiating from her body. Maybe it was the frailness, the apparent emptiness.
"Why won't you leave? You clearly wanted me to", she spat, trying for guilt.
"No, we didn't", her mother said, sounding quietly desperate, "we wanted you to get better." Beside her, Ron nodded vigorously, still yet to say anything.
"The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem", her father finally mumbled, clearly quoting something he'd read in a pamphlet in the waiting room.
"There's no problem to admit; I just want you to leave!" Rose said, louder now, loud enough for the girl opposite her bed to look up from her gazing into space. Rose knew her name was Celia and that she had a fascination with muggles. She wanted to look like this famous muggle who was known for her bony frame and emotionless face.
Well, she was going the right way about it. Pout and all.
"Rosie, we haven't seen you for days. We're your parents, we have a right to see you!" her mother grasped at, evidently forgetting she'd said the same thing on her last visit. Her mother was usually perfect at remembering things, a logical woman- sensibility was her approach.
Evidently her daughter's 'illness' was distracting her from that.
"What about Hugo?" she said suddenly, a glint of pleasure in her eyes, knowing she'd got something.
Something tensed inside Rose. Her little brother was a difficult person. He'd been oblivious to what'd been going on with his older sister. He was more interested in being a fifth year, dating girls and studying for OWLS and joking around with his mates than he was with her.
Rose hadn't ever taken her NEWTS. She'd started her diet in the middle of her sixth year and by the start of her seventh she'd stopped eating all together.
It was when she'd collapsed in the stands during a quidditch match that they'd realised she needed to go to hospital.
They hadn't asked her about why until her fourth day at St. Mungo's. They'd let her rest, and grieve over herself. Then they began the grilling.
Rose wasn't really sure herself why she'd stopped with the food. Maybe it was the pressure, the desire to be different, dramatic. You could've called it attention-seeking, but Rose thought it went a bit deeper than that. It was like, she'd be doing homework in the common room and realise she'd left a few things upstairs. She'd go up and get one of them; her brain would tell her to get one thing and then run back up to the dorm to get the next item, rather than getting them all at once. When she was in the Great Hall, which was rare, choosing to spend her dinnertimes in the Library, she would move the little food she'd helped herself to around her plate, then rest her hands on her stomach and say 'ugh, I'm full.'
Her friends, Jenny and Robyn had seemed convinced. No one concentrated too hard on other people's eating habits.
It was only in the summer before her seventh year that James, her cousin, had pointed out how thin she was that her mum took any notice. That anyone took any notice. They'd all accepted that Rose was weird; she liked different things and would've rather read a book than attend a quidditch match. No one really understood anything about this than Rose did herself. She just knew she wanted to be thinner. It was a diet-a brilliant diet. She'd lost weight and she was getting excersize.
Maybe she'd just overworked it a bit.
In her daydream, she hadn't noticed that her parents had left. This pleased her, but it also made her feel slightly lonely.
If James was here...she thought longingly. He was her favourite cousin. She was still a tad annoyed for him pointing out her weight, but he was still fun, still funny and clever and he appreciated why she wanted what she did.
She grasped idly at the sheets on her bed, her hands clenching then unclenching. She liked doing this. It was almost therapeutic, the motion. Hands, for some reason, had become a point of focus for Rose in the long hours spent in St. Mungo's with nothing to do. The books she had on her were read, the get well cards thrown away with all the flowers and chocolates and stupid balloons.
Hands were amazing, instruments capable of helping a friend, throwing a ball, playing a song. They could steal something, forge a signiture, murder a man, destroy a snow fort.
James had been fond of that when they were younger. She remembered attacking him with snowballs one winter when she was eight and he was ten.
Hands, despite the fact that they were no more than bony digits and rough, scarred palms and dirty nails, they had the power to create, dismantle, destroy. They were, Rose noted gravely, under only one influence and capable of clapping, snapping, of a language. But they were only instruments.
It was now dark, and Rose felt her eyes grow heavy automatically. She felt the sheets swarm her frail, skinny body as she huddled under the sheets and let the sleep wash over.
Rose woke the next morning just before sunrise. There was a faint light cascading over the sky, but no chirrup. This pleased her. Rose did not like birds; she never had. They were loud, noisy, intruding. They scared her, the beadiness of their eyes, their skeletal legs, their shiny, hard beaks.
As she looked around at the ward, noting the way some of the girls had curled into the foetus position with their arms wrapped around themselves, she understood that in this room, reason was lost.
No wonder her mother's rationale had gone straight out the window.
No one was going to wake up anytime soon, Rose decided. She closed her eyes and fell back to sleep once more.
She'd only closed her eyes for what felt liek a few seconds when she heard the soft coughs from the bed next to her. She opened one eye blearily and looked at the girl who was sitting up, hunched over.
If Rose had tried hard enough, she would have remembered the girl's name was Alyssa and that she had a father who liked to make a joke out of everything and a older sister who would sit by her bed and cry. But Rose felt lazy now, and annoyed that the girl-whatever her name was-had woken up her.
She did not open her mouth, though. She had nothing to say to these people, who were nothing like her. They did not understand, nor did they have any right to try.
A Healer bustled over to her, her chubby body vibrating, or so it seemed to Rose. In reality, she was a perfect weight. She had a fresh, round face and bright, happy eyes that her boyfriend adored. She would be married by next spring.
"Hello, lovely", she smiled. That was what she called all the girls here, and Rose did not feel lovely. She knew she looked like shit, pale face, dead eyes and rail thin body, and even if she hadn't looked like that, she still wouldn't have been lovely. This woman was chubby, but she was healthy. Rose could almost taste the difference. But she wondered who would end up happier; Rose, who was thin and clever and famous, or the Healer, who was round and boring and was nice. What did niceness ever do for anyone? The girls back at Hogwarts in her dorm, they were always skinny and bitchy and catty, and Rose knew that at least two of them were now high-flying Ministry workers.
Niceness never did anyone any favours.
Rose closed her eyes while the woman-Healer Cole, for the interested-moved around her bed, murmuring spells to clean up and fix up the machines around her.
"Need to check your weight, honey", she said gently. Rose groaned, but did as she asked.
There was a pause while she stepped onto the scales.
"BMI of 16, honey. We're improving!"
Rose called almost taste the smile on the nurse's lips. Rose had been a special case for her, someone with potential. She wasn't just a dramatic princess, she was damaged. She was in denial. It was going to take a while for her to get better.
"Right. Breakfast time."
These were the parts of the day that Rose hated. She hated eating under the watchful eyes of the nurses. She'd refused to be tube fed, so they'd given her small portions at first. They were gradually getting bigger, but on the days when she 'just wasn't hungry', a fight often ensued, resulting in the nasty tube.
This was one of those times. She looked away sulkily, childishly as a tray holding a bowl of branflakes with 200ml of soya milk and some wholemeal toast spread with soya butter landed on the table next to her.
"Come on, lovely. Eat up", Healer Cole said gently, "I know it's not your favourite time of day, but you do need to eat."
"Got on fine before."
This was an old argument. Rose knew the drill.
And Rose felt she'd won this time as Healer Cole was soon brought away holding a hand to the left side of her cheek where Rose had lashed out and scratched with her nails. Despite the fact that another Healer was now fixing up the nasty tube that would feed her by force, there was a small satisfaction, another glimpse of that power that meant she was in control. Maybe it wasn't too prevalent, not yet, but it would be. One day, she would have that power.
This was simply a small price to pay, a glitch if you like. She would get over it.
And so would everyone else.
Disclaimer: The part about hands was inspired by the poem 'Hands', which was written by Kasey Gooden.
Author's Note: Since anorexia isn't an issue I understand from experience, I am going from what I've researched, what I've observed from people I know who've suffered from it, and how I imagine the Wizarding World handle it. Since it's more of a mental illness-or at least stems from the brain-I imagined they would handle it much the same way as they do in the muggle world. Mazz X