Chapter 46 : The Hospital Wing
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The hospital wing was dark. It was eerie when it was dark, mostly because the candlelight danced along the walls like bright shadow puppets. Curtains surrounded a couple other beds, but for the most part the place was vacant. Definitely different than after a brutal Quidditch match. Or any of my try-outs.
To my surprise, both of my parents were asleep on the bed bedside mine. Dad was on his back with Mum curled up under his arm, her hair splayed out on his button-up shirt. They still had their shoes on. Lily was in the chair between both beds, head lolled back as she slept as well. There was an overturned Quidditch magazine in her lap. I taught her well.
Albus cleared his throat. He was on my right side nearest to the candlelight, an open book propped on the arm of the chair. There were bags under his eyes.
I blinked. “Hey,” I said quietly.
“I’d appreciate it if you would stop getting into so much trouble and scaring the shit out of all of us,” he said in a sober tone.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, leaning back into my pillow and staring at the dancing candlelight on the ceiling. “I don’t understand what happened.”
“After the incident where Wesley found you, you had some damage and you worked yourself up too much in Hogsmeade,” Albus explained. “Your head wound started bleeding again and you passed out.”
“In the street?”
He nodded and I let out a low groan. How embarrassing. “Yeah, Lily showed up with Rose and Bink because they heard you yelling from all the way down the street.”
My head hurt just thinking about it. I reached up. The bandage was still there. I was sweaty so I kicked off the blankets, which made me a little dizzy. “How much did she hear?”
“All of it.” Albus dog-eared his book and snapped it shut. “And she told me.”
“All of it?”
“All of it.” He narrowed his green eyes at me. Sometimes, on very rare occasions, Albus could be quite the adult. He kind of reminded me of Dad. Lily reminded me of Mum. I wasn’t sure who I reminded anyone of. I’d say Uncle George, but Fred had that title reserved. “James, she told me everything she heard. All about your career.”
“Don’t,” I snapped. “Don’t even.”
“We can do something about it. It can’t be true.”
“What makes you think it’s not?” I asked.
“He can’t have that much pull…”
I snorted. “I love you, Al,” I said, “But you have no idea what the Quidditch world has. He has pull.” I knew he did. From the moment he threatened me, I knew he was the type of bloke who could go through with it. Sure, I had an ace last name, but he had contacts. Years of connections. Some people owed him for their careers. No one owed me anything.
“I thought Potter boys don’t love,” Al said.
“We don’t. I’m drugged up. Shut it.”
He chuckled at that.
“Don’t fucking tell anyone what she told you,” I said, looking over at him again. “I’m serious. Anyone. Not even Paloma.”
“It’s not like Paloma and I are even talking anyway.” He shrugged. “Hell, I hit Wesley in the face.”
I paused for a moment, remembering that my brother could actually punch. I was proud. “Promise me.”
“Why is it such a big deal? Why is your pride so insane?”
“It just is, okay?” I said. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone.” Not when I just got Dad to be on board with the Quidditch idea. Not when I finally got his approval.
“Fine.” Albus rubbed the back of his neck. “I promise.”
There was a long silence in the room, both of us lost in our thoughts. They were probably manly thoughts. Mine were drug-induced.
“Can I ask your advice?”
“Yes, you should give your sweaters to the homeless.”
He ignored me. “What should I do about Paloma? She’s being weird. I mean, she asked Wesley on a date. She’s been ignoring me. And she’s being kind of mean.”
My brother, the idiot.
“Here’s my advice,” I said softly, my eyes on the open window above the bed across the room, “Fight for her. And if you are lucky enough to get her, don’t let her go. Ever.”
It wasn’t light yet and I was being shaken awake. I blinked a couple times, my eyes fuzzy with sleep. The potion was making me feel a little drunk. Parents still on the bed (Dad was now snoring). Lily was still in the chair. Albus had found an empty bed and was curled up in a ball.
The person shaking me was Avery Flynn.
She had been crying. Her eyes were all red, hair a tangled mess around her shoulders.
“James?” she whispered.
“Aves,” I said before I could remember that I didn’t call her that anymore. Whatever. I was drugged. “Why are you here? Am I dreaming? Godric…”
“You’re not.” I felt the mattress sink as she sat. “James, we need to talk.”
“Right now?” I tried to sit up, but felt dizzy again so I didn’t. I rubbed my eyes a little until she came into focus.
Why was she so beautiful? Her face was illuminated in the candlelight.
“It’s four,” she said softly. “Please. Just hear me out.”
“Avery,” I warned. “I don’t know if this is a good idea. The last time I spoke to you my head started bleeding again.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“About Quidditch,” she breathed. She wasn’t looking at me. Her fingers were fumbling with the material of her skirt. “About my father threatening you. All this time I just thought you were a jerk that wasn’t man enough to tell me my own father was using me, but then you blurt out that he threatened both of our careers if you told me and you were actually trying to…figure it out. James, why didn’t you just tell me?”
“I couldn’t risk it,” I said. I looked at my parents for a moment. “I couldn’t risk being the reason your adult life was ruined.”
“I confronted him.”
My eyes snapped over and met hers instantly.
“When you collapsed, Bink grabbed you and carted you back here. I went the other way and found him.” Avery moved a piece of hair behind her ear. “I told him off for everything. I screamed. I may have used some magic I’m not exactly proud of.” She took a deep breath. “I may have destroyed half the city block.”
“Destroyed?” I gaped at her.
“Shop windows, merchandise, laundry hanging out to dry…”
I blinked. “Avery, why did you do that?”
“He destroyed your life.”
“What’s it to you?”
“Don’t,” Avery said, shaking her head. “Don’t pretend for a second that just because we broke up that the last seven years have meant nothing to me.”
“You hexed me.”
Her jaw tightened. “You brought up my father. I lost it.”
“You went after my Quidditch dreams.”
Avery cleared her throat and stood up. “I owe a fortune to the village,” she noted. “I told Mum I’d get a job at the pub on the weekends.” She shrugged and leaned down, blowing out the candle so we were bathed in darkness. “Take your potion and go back to sleep.”
I leaned back into the pillow and heard her footsteps toward the door. “Aves?” I said.
“You think it’s true? What he said?”
She was silent for a moment. “I checked already,” she said softly. “The owls came back immediately.”
“And?” I swallowed so hard it hurt.
“It’s over, James,” she whispered. “Not just for you.”
I squeezed my eyes shut. After trying so hard to protect her, I’d brought her down with me regardless. “Your career too?”
“I’m sure I could be a Healer or something.” More footsteps toward the door.
“Aves?” I mumbled.
“Take the extra money,” I said, biting down on my lip. “From the auction. Give it to the village. Don’t take that job.”
She was quiet. The door opened and then shut.
I dreamed I was at the Tornadoes game again. This time it was against the Magpies and instead of being in a box, I was down in the front row. The front row actually blew because your neck hurt ten seconds into the game. But I was there, shouting profane things at the refs for making stupid calls. Wagging my finger like it mattered.
The coach was pacing on the pitch, running his fingers through his hair. He’d been the coach for six years. Six amazing Tornado years.
“You think you can do better?” he shouted up at me.
“Sure!” I cried. “I could replace all three of these idiots and do a better job!” Why was I speaking to the coach of a professional team with such lip? I could be killed for that. It was like treason among the Quidditch elite. I wasn’t elite though. So he could just A-K my ass for breathing.
“Get on the pitch then!” he cried.
I gasped. “What?”
“Get down here. Grab a robe and a broom.”
I moved over the railing so fast I nearly toppled to the ground. My legs were barely holding me up. The crowd was cheering and one of the Chasers sank to the ground.
“What’s your name, kid?” the coach asked, grabbing an extra robe from somewhere and a quill to write my name on the back.
“James Potter,” I said gleefully.
“Sorry, kid,” he said, tossing the robe onto the ground. It burst into flames.
The coach was David Flynn. His eyes reflected the fire. “Sorry, kid,” he repeated. “You can’t play for us.”
I choked back a sob I didn’t know was there.
The scene changed and Avery was there. She was crying again. I wasn’t sure why, but her knees were pulled up to her chest.
“Avery?” I walked closer.
She didn’t move, but she kept getting further away.
“Avery, what’s wrong?”
She was either ignoring me, or she couldn’t hear me.
“Avery!” I shouted. She wept harder. “AVERY!”
I jerked awake, fingers gripping the sheets hard. It was morning and the light was streaming in through the tall windows. Well-placed curtains were keeping it out of my eyes.
“Your parents just went down for breakfast,” Fred said, sitting on the bed beside my feet. Bink was standing beside him, hands in his pockets.
For a moment, I wondered if Bink had heard what I said to Avery, but judging by his casual expression, I figured he hadn’t. I’d have to ask Lily later. My head was pounding again.
“How you feeling, mate?” Bink asked. “Your head okay?”
“Thanks for taking me up here,” I said to him. “I bet that was a sight.”
“Bloke in a dress carrying a bloke with a mustache?” Bink said. “Yes, definitely a sight. The mustache stuck.”
“It was. I saw it.” Freddie nodded with a smirk.
“Shit.” I moved my hand to the bandage and rubbed it a little. “Why is everything so fucked up? We had a practice scheduled today. I can’t even get out of this bed.”
“We had practice earlier,” Fred explained. “It wasn’t anything to write home about, but we did some drills and laps. Lily led it and even hexed me for talking back.” He motioned to the mark on his arm. “She’s a bloody spitfire.”
“You’re telling me,” I grumbled. “How’d your dress-date with Amy go?”
Fred smiled a little. “Well,” he said.
Bink kicked him. “Go on.”
“I don’t want to.”
I whined. “Freddie, I’m in the hospital. If you don’t tell me I am going to get all worked up and pass out again. Do you know what that can do to a Quidditch Captain?”
“Fine.” Fred crossed his arms and let out a humph. “No, we have not shagged.”
“You want to?” Bink asked.
“Uh, yeah, she’s a bloody girl, isn’t she?”
“So why haven’t you?”
Fred ran his fingers through his soft hair. “I dunno,” he said. “We just hang out and stuff.”
“You fancy her?” Bink asked.
“No!” cried Fred. “Well, I dunno, maybe.”
“Then shag her!”
Fred shoved him. “She’s a fifth year.” He shrugged. “She’s just nice and stuff. She wears sneakers with her robes. She laughs at my jokes. I mean, I want to and all…but I’m kind of just having fun with her.”
Bink shot him a look. “I don’t understand.”
I chuckled and tried to pat Freddie on the back, but failed considering I was still propped up on pillows. Stupid hospital. Stupid head wound. “You do fancy her.”
“I’m going to shag her!” Fred said, his ears reddening instantly. “I’m going to. Tonight. I will. I’m serious. I’m doing it.”
Bink burst out laughing. “Yeah, okay, mate,” he said. “You do what you need to do.”
“I’m going to!” Fred hugged his knees to his chest.
“Completely believe you,” I said with a nod.
“That reminds me,” Bink said casually, stepping away from the bed for a moment. He looked around the hospital wing and, when realizing no one else was there, smiled. “I have to ask you a question, James.”
“What kind of question?” I was nervous that he was so far away. Where was my wand?
It was in Bink’s hand.
“Would it bother you if I took Rose on a date?”
I choked, lunging away from the pillows only to get a splitting headache. Freddie forced me back down. “Give me my wand!” I cried in a raspy voice. “I’ll kill him! I’ll cut his fingers off!”
“James, calm down,” Fred said, but then glanced over at Bink. “What d’you wanna do that for? You and Rose always fight.”
“Yeah.” Bink smirked. “We do.”
“Limb – from – limb!” I gasped. The room was spinny.
“Come on, Potter,” Bink said. “Just let me take her out once.”
“You’re the one that told me it took you twenty minutes to bag a girl,” I insisted. “I am not letting you go out with my baby cousin!”
Bink shrugged and twirled my wand between his fingers. “I already asked her,” he said. “She said yes. We’re going out this weekend. Sorry.” He shrugged, pompous smirk planted on his face. “We spent a bit of alone time together after I carted you up here.”
“Snogging?” I asked. “Did you already snog her? I am going to fucking kill you, Legace! I’m disowning you! You’re off the Quidditch team! You’re off of the Team James Potter Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team Team!”
He laughed loudly. “No,” he said, “We were not snogging. We weren’t saying anything remotely suggestive. Actually, we were talking about you and Flynn.” He shrugged. “I want to take her out.”
I gave up on trying to swat Fred away and just leaned back into the pillows. “Bloody why?”
“Because she challenges me and doesn’t take my shit.” Bink shrugged. “She called me out four times during our conversation.”
“And you like that?” I asked.
“Don’t you like that about Avery?”
“Don’t talk about Avery.” My jaw clenched.
“I’m going out with Rose. I’m taking her for Italian.” He smiled. “Whether you like it or not.”
“I will hex you,” I mused. “But I’d watch out for Hugo.”
“Her little brother?” Bink snorted with laughter. “What’s he going to do?”
“Why hasn’t Rose gone through boys like the plague, hmm?” I asked.
Bink was quiet for a moment. “He can’t be as bad as you are with Lily.”
“He has a nasty stinging hex.”
He paled. I enjoyed that.
“We brought you snacks.” Mum smiled warmly at me and set a tray down on my lap. Her face was red and her hands were cold when I touched them.
“Where were you?” I asked, scooting up even though my head was spinning. Dad had walked in behind her.
“We stepped out to the game,” she said with a grin.
“Game?” I closed my eyes for a minute. “Shit! That was today…What happened?”
“You’re playing Slytherin in the final,” Mum said with a bright smile. “Eat up.”
What if I didn’t want to play Slytherin in the final? What if I didn’t want to see Clint Lawson’s annoying gob staring at me from another broom? And that twitterpated Scorpius Malfoy. I didn’t even know what that word meant, but it definitely described him.
“Brilliant,” I mumbled, helping myself to a sandwich. “How was the game?”
“Cold.” Dad shrugged and took a seat in the chair Lily had slept in. “How are you feeling, son?”
Dad didn’t call me that very often. It was something usually reserved for Uncle Percy. A little formal for Dad. But I didn’t mind.
“Better,” I said, not looking at either of them. “Sorry I worried you.”
“What happened?” Mum asked softly, putting one of her cold hands on me.
“James,” Mum warned in that tone I hated. The one she used after I might have set Lily’s stuffed animals on fire. That was never proven.
“Look, I’m just going through a few things, okay?” I said weakly. I didn’t want the food anymore.
“Does this have to do with Avery?”
It had to do with me losing my entire future all in one fell swoop. Not even a good swoop.
Dad cleared his throat. “Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” he asked.
I shook my head, which hurt. “No, I’ll be okay,” I said. “Just some…dramatics. Quidditch things. Schoolwork.”
Neither of them believed me. And they were right not to. But, fortunately, they didn’t press the subject. They probably figured eventually I would tell them. Or it would go away. Dad used to tell me stories like that, about how he bottled things up and was thankful when people just didn’t ask or didn’t press the subject. Probably why he didn’t now. And I was, in turn, very thankful I didn’t have to go into a story about Avery’s father, my unresolved feelings for Avery, my date with Haley Star, and the hex that cut open my head.
From Avery. My best friend. Was she still my best friend? I didn’t know.
The hospital wing was boring. There was no Quidditch Network or backlog of Quidditch magazines or anything remotely entertaining. My parents left around one in the afternoon since Dad had to get some work things done and Mum had a lunch date with Aunt Hermione. Albus stopped in one more time to tell me he hadn’t seen Paloma. Lily stopped in to give me some cookies she’d snatched from the kitchens. Bink hadn’t given me back my wand. Fred came in to tell me him and Amy were definitely going to do it tonight because that was what he did with pretty girls.
I didn’t tell anyone anything because I was drugged up and in the hospital. And bored out of my sodding mind.
So obviously when Clint Lawson sauntered into the room I was less than thrilled. Especially since I was unarmed. At least Madam Bones was in the other room. Unless he took her out too.
“What do you want, Lawson?” I asked impatiently.
“Seems the great Potter isn’t invincible after all,” he sneered. He seriously looked like an ugly dog. I couldn’t make that shit up.
“Clearly,” I said, motioning to the hospital bed.
“You hear about the win?” Lawson asked. “We’ll be playing in the Final.”
“I’m in the hospital, git, I’m not dead.” I rolled my eyes, leaving out the part about my mummy telling me what was happening in outside life. “I’m perfectly thrilled to take you gits out for the Cup. Your Seeker sucks.”
“I’m the Seeker.”
“I could make sure you stay in this bed until the game,” Lawson said through gritted teeth. It was more of an ugly naked mole rat than a dog, I decided.
“Madam Bones!” I shouted loudly and Lawson backed up.
“I have much more of that potion to take?” I cried, eyes not moving away from my enemy’s.
“Not too much, dear.”
“Thanks!” I smirked arrogantly and lowered my voice. “I’m glad you think you have a chance, git. It’ll make this more fun.”
“I could make sure you never have a career in Quidditch.”
“I doubt that.” Since it was already done and all. The least I could do was take out Clint Lawson and his fat head for my last game as a Chaser.
“You’re going to regret the day you were born, Potter.”
“My GOD,” I said loudly, leaning back into the fluffy pillows again. “You are the worst person at threats, did you know? It’s borderline sleep-inducing.”
His wand flew out and pointed straight at me.
“MADAM BONES!” I cried. Hey! I didn’t have a wand. Stupid Bink. And I was in no position to try to wrestle his from his sausage fingers considering small movements still made me dizzy. “I NEED MORE POTION I AM GETTING WORKED UP!”
“What’s going on out here?” Madam Bones waddled into the wing with her hands on her hips.
Lawson tucked his wand back in his pocket. “I was just going,” he said gruffly and disappeared into the corridor.
Well, shit. I was going to need body guards and a brush-up lesson on hexes.
A/N: Yay! I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter! Definitely less intense than the last. Thanks to Ramita for the inspiration for this chapter :)
I would like to make the announcement here:
I will be writing a sequel to Breaking the Quidditch Code after its finished. I have a plot all set up and it will be continuing after graduation for one more story. I wasn't ready to give James up quite yet and I hope everyone is excited!
BTQC will be right around 58 chapters.
Next Up: Quidditch practice, Falcon Cat, man night (sort of), a date, and the sting of rejection.
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