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Chapter 6 : Gathering Goods and Regretting Rages
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“You can go on in to see your friend now,” the pretty blonde nurse said to me, as I sat alone, swinging my feet and hugging my arms to myself as I tried to make myself comfortable on the horrid plastic chairs that St. Mungo’s provided. She was only trying to be kind, but her words made me want to cry as I forced my head upwards stiffly and dragged myself from the chair to the doors of the ward that the three Finnigans had been admitted to.
I paused in front of the shiny sign that hung there. It read, “First Floor, Creature-induced injuries. The Travis ‘Tamer’ Toddworth ward for serious burns”. I remembered Uncle Charlie once mentioning something about Travis Toddworth – one of the best dragon tamers to date, and was the first person to ride a Hungarian Horntail. He was a proper celebrity, and his amazing ability with dragons has never been matched.
Unfortunately, he met his untimely death when a Chinese Fireball incinerated him. So this ward was named after him, because a lot of his work provided invaluable information for burn healers.
I sighed, pushing my chin up higher and straightening my spine, before mentally bracing myself and entering the stark white ward which was full of people. Small wonder, seeing how burns were so normal usually, and considering that yesterday was Bonfire Night, it was practically spilling people at the edges.
Apparently, they just stuck the burns ward on this floor because a lot of animal-induced injuries are burns, but pretty much refer everyone there (even if the burns have nothing to do with animals). No wonder everyone checks what floor different wards are on.
I pushed the door aside and stepped in nervously. My hair was tied down in a long ponytail to the side instead of pulled up to the back or free, and I felt unusually girly, shy and un-brash in a pale pink cardigan and skinny jeans with big boots. I wasn’t really sure how to act; I didn’t really go to hospitals, especially not when Mum had left me to face all the awful awkwardness when visiting some Healer friends she apparently knew in school.
She hadn’t told Dad she was visiting Healer Corner, though. But she had deliberately left me alone to face the Finnigans, I knew, so I could feel the full impact of my actions.
It was already working. My breath was coming faster as I scanned the bursting ward, trying to see the patients through the bustling visitors, and ignoring the curious looks from bored people.
Slowly, I walked down the large ward, turning my head this way and that, and had almost given up when I saw three beds next to each other on the end, close to the wall where there were windows. I saw a familiar flash of curling, dark brown hair spread across a starched pillow on the bed nearest the window, and walked towards who I saw was Reagan, propped up in the bed and reading a book. As I neared, I saw Sean snoring like the hunk of meat he is in the bed two over from Reagan’s, and the empty bed inbetween them with a sign reading ‘Fergal Finnigan’ on the end.
I didn’t know whether to be more scared or joyful that Fergal wasn’t in his bed.
As I was standing and staring at the empty bed, Reagan said suddenly, “I was wondering when you were going to turn up.”
I jumped, and turned towards her, taking a few unsure steps towards her, before frowning. “What do you mean?”
Reagan rolled her eyes, still reading. “Well, your mum was always going to make you come see us wasn’t she? And she’s abandoned you too,” she noted, looking up.
I shrugged awkwardly. “She wants me to see…what I’ve done.” I looked down at my shoes, trying to ignore Reagan’s stare as she put her book down and shoved her messy plait to the other side of the pillow.
“Well, I have to admit that it was pretty epic, what you did, I mean. Sure, it was stupid, and pretty painful, but a good idea,” Reagan said casually, and I stared. “Although I don’t think it counts as winning the war, because it was hardly fair on the time-scale thing we had going, plus we’re now incapacitated… but it was still awesome. I think we should call it quits,” she added, and stuck a bandaged hand out from under the covers.
I stared at it for a moment, then suddenly realised how much I had apparently retreated into my shell in this past week. Since when did Lily Luna Potter not have the upper hand and be intimidated by measly hospitals?
So I straightened up stiffly, shook her bandaged hand gingerly, and offered her a half-smile.
“How did your meeting with Finnigans go, then?” Dad asked, skimming the newspaper as I sat down across from him. His tone was a little off, because I knew he was still wondering exactly why I’d done it.
Yeah, well, me too.
“Yeah, good, thanks… Sean was asleep and Fergal was with some other nurses, but Reagan and I actually made up,” I said casually, trying not to show how my heart had constricted at the thoughts of what I’d done, again.
“That’s good,” Dad said curtly. “Has Hugo been to see them yet or has your Aunt Hermione strangled him?”
“I don’t know,” I said dully. “I’m not allowed to see him and we’ve been off school this week, remember?”
Yes, I had spent my half-term moping around the house and wishing I could have done something, anything, differently. But I hadn’t. And I knew I had to face up to the consequences.
But I had no idea whether seeing Hugo would have made me feel better or worse; better, because he always made things feel better ‘cause it was us two in it together, or worse, ‘cause we were both in it and would have nothing to say to each other.
We may both have been in it, but I knew it was all my fault, not his.
“Letters from Al,” Mum said, coming through the doorway purposefully, and throwing a piece of parchment to me, as well as one for her and one for Dad. I sighed and ripped mine open, before scanning to the top of the letter where I went around the process of reading Al’s rather messy yet arty and beautiful script.
Only Al wrote such reliable and homely letters.
So Mum told me what happened with the Finnigans. Fred said his dad’s gone into hiding from Mum and Aunt Hermione, and I have to say I’d agree with him. Honestly, it was a great idea, but perhaps not the best to perform; why didn’t you ask beforehand? James’ll just tell you it was epic, but it wasn’t the first plan to backfire ever and have bad consequences. Just don’t go thinking it’s all okay (which I’m sure you won’t, considering Mum said she was forcing you to their bedsides, but still – I had to say it).
School is fine, but they’re already asking us what we think we might want to take next year. After James’s divination fiasco, I won’t take that, but I’ll probably take COMC for Hagrid’s sake. Not sure about the others though – I’d love Muggle Studies, but I know most of it from Grandad already. Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, hmm…
Whoops, got to go – James is being pulled up by McGonagall in front of the entire school for something. What did he do this time, I wonder?
Almost immediately after reading Albus’s letter, I felt better. It was nice to know that as Grandpa-ish Al could be, he would always be on my side, and James would always be in more trouble.
Between James and Fred, they pretty much alleviated the pressure off all of us lot who did the occasional bad thing, despite the fact that they were only in fourth and fifth year respectively. Whenever we saw Neville, he always groaned at the thought of what the pair would do in two years’ time and changed the subject.
I don’t think any of the teachers liked to think about it, really.
“What does yours say, honey?” Mum asked carefully.
I shrugged. “Just the usual. Mostly about his options for next year.”
Mum scanned it and shrugged. “I think we basically each got replicas. It’s nice to have a son who actually writes, though, so I’m not complaining.” James almost never wrote, ever. He could never be bothered to take the time out from pranking and making mayhem for it, and didn’t see the point when Al wrote to us anyway.
Needless to say, it had caused a number of arguments. In fact, nearly every time we got to see him, there were several guaranteed arguments: the grades and his working (lack of, more like), the pranks and trouble he was in, and the letters (again, lack thereof).
There was a break of comfortable silence where we each finished the others’ letters, before Dad put down his letter with deliberation and a thoughtful/solemn look on his face. Already, I knew exactly what was coming – Dad never wore that face unless he really had to for a bad topic.
“Look, I know we’ve talked this over already Lily, and you know we’re disappointed in you - ” understatement of the century, especially from Mum, “ – but we think we need to move on now. You’ve had your punishment and seen the effect of your… silliness. So now we think you need to take it to heart and move onwards. This… moping isn’t going to be doing any good anymore.”
Internally, I did a frenzied conga, but on the outside, I nodded respectfully. It wouldn’t do to lose it now and dispel the mopey atmosphere I’d built up quite successfully over the last week.
“So tomorrow, the Weasleys are coming over and we can all reconcile a bit before school the day after,” Mum continued from Dad.
“Which - ?”
“Hermione, Ron and Hugo,” Dad clarified, as I’d thought. After all, there was hardly anyone else to reconcile with.
“That sounds lovely,” I said in a measured tone. As I turned towards the sink to wash my hands, I could sense Mum and Dad exchanging a relieved glance behind my back.
The first person through the door was Aunt Hermione, before Hugo who was trailing right at her heels, having evidently been told to stay behind her. As she reached to hug me, I saw Hugo sidle partway out from behind her, his posture drooping but eyes gleaming.
Oh dear… I knew that expression all too well, having one myself. And I was not ready to make mischief right now, not so soon after being let off the hook!
I glared at him, hoping to convey my point, but he just rolled his eyes and motioned upstairs. I ignored him and hugged Uncle Ron before walking after them into the living room, beckoning behind my back and hoping that Hugo obeyed.
We needed to show that we were more mature now and wouldn’t do it again, etc. etc, and for that we needed to spend time with the adults so that they could see how pathetically sorry we were before sprinting upstairs. Frankly, it was quite a good plan if I say so myself.
Instead, I went to put the kettle on and kicked a confused Hugo into fetching the biscuits down – I tried to whisper instructions to him but gave up when he couldn’t stop saying “what? I can’t hear you!” – and brought them into the living room where the four of our parents were sitting on the sofas and chatting about the next time they were to go to The Jarvey And The Wood-Knoll (our pub here in Godric’s Hollow) at the end of the month.
Trying to lift the mugs down to them off the tray and make eye-contact with Hugo at the same time, I only just avoided spilling boiling tea over Aunt Hermione because Dad spotted and froze the cup at the last second while she was turned in Mum’s direction. Scrambling for the mug to hand carefully this time and mouthing ‘thank you’ to Dad, I pulled Hugo backwards with me to sit on the floor, hunched and smiling only slightly. Hugo copied me, but still poked my side for an explanation, until Uncle Ron spotted us there and brought up the uncomfortable topic.
Good thing, too; my legs were already numb.
“Um, so with Lily and Hugo… are we ok with the situation there now?” he asked awkwardly. I tried to refrain from rolling my eyes or looking obviously pathetic.
All the adults looked at us, weighing up the possible comments, but Mum was first to speak. “Yeah… I think so. Lily’s not going to do anything that stupid again, are you?”
I shook my head, keeping silent.
“Yes, Hugo has been thoroughly talked-to. I think that it’ll be okay for them to go back to normal as long as there are no angry calls from Seamus again. In that case, there’ll be serious consequences,” Aunt Hermione said, steely glare fixed in place. All the parents nodded, and we smiled.
We were free!
Hugo grabbed my elbow and towed me backwards with a large grin, and though I subtly tried to jerk it from his grasp without the adults seeing, he was too set on dragging me backwards and into the hallway. I tugged more violently, but with a huge jerk he managed to tug me into the hallway, where I turned around to face him and stood my ground with hands on hips and angry whispers.
“Look, what do you think you’re playing at, Hugo Weasley? I am not going to enter into anything stupid, and you should know it! Whatever you’re planning, I’m not going to do it!” I finished with a glare, slowly walking backwards and away from the door.
Hugo rolled his eyes all too casually, sighing and stuffing his hands in his pockets. “Really, Lily? Why do you have to be so melodramatic?”
“You’ve never had a problem with it before,” I replied, stung.
“Well, you’ve never gone back on an idea for our Grand Plan before,” Hugo countered, then paused, waiting for an exclamation of apology from me that I had squashed anything to do with our Grand Plan, which I wanted to do. But I didn’t. The Grand Plan was stupid; it had nearly killed three people and injured them only by luck.
“Well, we’ve also never nearly killed three people before,” I hissed, trying to turn away.
“Lily, c’mon,” Hugo caught my arm as I tried to walk out, “just hear me out.”
I paused, eyes narrowed, and waited for him to continue. He got the hint after a second and carried on.
“Look, our parents are going to The Jarvey at the end of the month. If we want to be prepared properly for Hogwarts, we’ll need to sneak out to see Uncle George about supplies at some point, or by the time we go get ‘em, there’ll only be few Vertigo Vanillas left.”
I couldn’t help grimacing; of all the Skiving Snackboxes, the Vanillas were considered the least effective.
Hugo’s words were starting to make sense, but I didn’t know how eager I was to see the uncle who had messed up our order.
“Hugh, I’m not too eager to repeat the firework mix-up, but I’m thinking there might be some sense in what you’re saying…” I said slowly, calculating, “but I’m going to see how the rest of the month goes, okay? I mean, we just can’t go back…”
Hugo sighed, frowning, but he just went up the stairs.
I grinned at his back. I knew I was going to do it; the old Lily Potter was returning, wiser and more fun than ever.
Monday morning… again. I was yawning my way into school disinterestedly, Hugo’s curly orange head bent beside me as we trudged through the doors. We were in the middle of November, and the start of our second week back at school after half term. The only bright spot today looked like quidditch, if we were allowed to take part after the fiascos of previous sessions. It all depended on Coach Wood’s mood nowadays, as every winter-time, he became more hard on us and less tolerant.
Now, we were directed to the carpet in the corner by Violet Grey’s mum, and handed a stack of books about the first Wizarding War to ‘learn from’. Hugo and I grinned at each other; Mrs Grey was always slack on us, and though The Phoenix was more relaxed than how Dad and Aunt Hermione described their primary schools, Mrs Grey as a teacher was always a bit less worried about what we actually did with our lesson time. Some of the others were being pointed our way too, but I just picked the first one off the pile and started flicking through the pages.
It was actually very interesting. Mum and Dad and everyone don’t like to talk about the Wars much, especially the first one, because they weren’t involved in that and they don’t want us to hear the details.
It was actually a lot more gory than I’d expected. From the first line on the first page, I was immersed in the early story of Tom Riddle, occasionally swapping a phrase or pointing out a picture of my grandparents with Hugo.
The pages seemed to race by as I drank in the feuds and political mess-ups. In fact, I was so immersed that I didn’t even see the people behind me until a hand came down on my shoulder, making me shoot upwards in shock.
“Hey, Potter! Just me,” Reagan grinned, plopping herself down beside me on the carpet with a raised eyebrow, plait as undone as ever.
“Oh, hey there, Finnigan,” I commented casually, as though I hadn’t just leapt several feet in the air by surprise. “I see you’re back, then?”
“I see you’re as obvious as ever, then.”
“I see that – hang on, where’s Fergal?” I was gazing around the loose group of us students on the carpet, and though the chunky Sean was glaring at us from the opposite corner, I couldn’t see the ferrety Fergal for the life of me.
Reagan shrugged tightly. “He’s still resting at home. Got it a bit worse than the rest of us, and Mum’s being way over-protective.” She rolled her eyes, and I grinned; I was always doing precisely the same thing, and getting told off for it.
“You think you’ve got problems? Try reading about all your family in a textbook,” I retorted with a grin, waving the book in front of her face. However, when a page clipped Reagan’s nose, her eyes narrowed and she grabbed the top book from the pile to her right.
It looked like a rather hefty one, to my chagrin.
“Right, that’s it!” she cried, leaping on me with ‘The Illustrated Guide to WWI’ raised in her hands like a battle-axe.
I scrambled out of the way, shrieking as I went.
Everything looked to be turning out just fine.
"Kids, we might be going out a bit later, but you'll be in bed so everything should be fine."
Might be? We all knew they definitely would go out, but Dad was keeping the vague threat that they might stay; I should stay in my bed and not make trouble.
"Yes, we've got the usual spells up for if there are any intruders, et cetera, et cetera," Mum said with a roll of her eyes. She wasn't concerned that the extreme safety of Godric's Hollow might be breached. "Night, Lils."
"Night, Mum," I called innocently back to her as she backed out of my room, and Dad bent down to kiss my forehead before leaving my room and shutting the door softly behind him.
I lay in bed with my heart thumping, listening to my parents wandering around downstairs and watching the strip of light from the landing illuminate my clothes on the chair where they lay.
Though it was a measly eight’o’clock now, I knew that by half past, my parents would be safely out of the house, and I could floo to Uncle George’s. Having gotten re-dressed, of course.
So for twenty-eight and a half minutes, I listened to my breathing, until finally the slam of the front door was heard and I could breathe easy.
For safety, I slowly counted five minutes as I carefully, carefully pulled on my jeans and fluffy jumper (only the best burgling clothes for me).
They weren’t coming back.
Still, my heart was thumping crazily as I crept downstairs and slowly sank my fingers into the dull green powder that sat in a plant pot by the fireplace. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply, and seriously considered running back up to bed.
No! Think Gryffindor, Lily!
I had seven long and brilliant years ahead of me, and I needed to be prepared!
So with this little pep talk fresh in my mind, I climbed into the ample fireplace, facing the living room and closing my eyes.
“Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, Diagon Alley," I announced, and flung down the powder defiantly before immediately being spun through hundreds of other fireplaces. Eventually, I was shovelled out onto Uncle George's hearth, and picked myself up, coughing.
"Uncle George?" I called, wandering through the stock room and standing in the hall. "Uncle George? Aunt Angelina?"
I paused, frowning, but then heard movement downstairs.
I hadn't has time to contemplate that it might, in fact, be a stupid burglar who liked to rob well-to-do joke shops that were seemingly empty but which liked to leave lights on, when I managed to identify the footsteps anyway.
“Lils? Oi, I’m down here,” a very familiar voice called.
I grinned, and started to hurtle down the tightly-twisting stairs. “Hey there, Hugh! I was pretty worried that everyone had disappeared for a while there. Hey, where’s Uncle George?” I was speaking a little too fast: my adrenaline was pumping around my veins, a little painfully; my heart was trying to slow from the shock; and my limbs felt a little bit out of control, from the rush of sneaking out and apparently breaking in to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
“Well, he’s not here, but he left some stuff for us… he must’ve got the note we sent,” Hugo said, his own voice a little off as we headed back up to the workshop.
Cautiously, I entered the untidy and wonderful Disneyland-cum-Santa’s-Workshop-type room, not sure what I was expecting.
It probably wasn’t two bulging but scuffed sacks, with a note pinned to one of them:
Enjoy, kids. Use it well, and don’t get caught, or you’re not getting supplied again.
With a big, fat grin spread across my face, I grabbed the left sack and swung it across my shoulders.
*A/N: PLEASE DON’T KILL ME. I know I haven’t updated in five months and I’m a really horrible person. But there have been major issues with this, like severe writer’s block, RL getting in the way, NaNoWriMo (though you can see the product of that on my Author Page, hint hint… wow, sorry for advertising)… but I can make as many excuses as I like, I’m a horrible author for not getting it done. I do hope you liked the longer chapter, though.
On the plus side, I’m concentrating on this above my other fics for now so expect much quicker updates!
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