Chapter 9 : Love rule #9
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Love rule #9 - Love conquers all
I woke up the next morning in the predawn light. Rolling over and staring at the ceiling, I considered not getting up. Life would go on, no one would care and it was, after all, Sunday. With that in mind, I rolled back over, burrowed under my covers and shut my eyes.
Then it was Monday, and I did the same. Tuesday passed in a blur of nothing, and Wednesday was gone.
Then it was Thursday, and I had head duties and a quiz in Transfiguration, so I got up. Hoping water would give my weak, exhausted limbs some life, I ran a bath and sunk into it. Then I wondered why no one had come to find me in my fit of pathetic self-pity. Because no one cares, a little voice whispered in my mind.
Listlessly drying myself as I walked back into my room, I shuddered as I stood on something that crackled underfoot.
“What in Merlin’s name?” I muttered, bending down. I stood up dizzily with a pile of letters in hand. Letters addressed to me by Callie, Sophie, Albus and Mum. Frowning, I sat on the edge of the bed and opened the first one.
I’m sorry to hear about everything going on. Please owl me as soon as you get this.
Then the nest one:
You are strong and you are beautiful and you won’t let this get you down. I just know he’ll pull through fine, and you will as well.
Thinking about you and your family (I’m desperate to hear from you!)
My family? What did they have anything to do with my mini-breakdown? I was just a bit stressed, no need for everyone to get involved. Who will pull through just fine?
Seriously, where are you? We need you here at Mungo’s ASAP! If this is about our little spat on Saturday, get over it. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but there are more important things going on right now!
Get here. Now
Merlin, who was in Mungos? I threw on any clothes as I tore open the final letter. Mum’s writing was a mess compared to the neat, pretty writing it usually was, and I shoved shoes on as I read it.
My darling Rose,
Dad has had an accident and has been taken to St Mungo’s. I don’t want to make you and Hugo panic, but I think you should floo here. I’ve made arrangements with Professor McGonagall, and she has excused you from all of your classes and head duties for the week.
Stay safe darling, don’t worry, and I’ll see you very soon.
The letter was dated from Sunday morning, and I choked down the scream rising up my throat. What was wrong with Dad? Why hadn’t anyone come for me? The letter fell from numb fingers, and I raced out of the dorm, through the corridors and burst into McGonagall’s office. My lungs were burning and my head was spinning. Dad Dad Dad Dad chanted through my head.
McGonagall wasn’t in her office, but the fire was crackling merrily. I grabbed some floo powder and threw a handful into the beautiful flames.
“Mungo’s!” I cried, so determined to get to Dad that I didn’t even cough as soot got into my mouth. Fireplaces span past dizzyingly until I was deposited unceremoniously on one of Mungo’s many hearths. A nurse sitting in a chair in front of the fireplaces kindly helped me to my feet.
“You must be Rose,” she said, smiling. I stared. How did she know? In response to my inquisitive stare, she squeezed my hand.
“Everyone knows who you are, dear.”
“What’s wrong with Dad?” I blurted. Her smiled faded at that, and I gripped her hand tightly.
“He’s alive,” she admitted, but didn’t say anything more. I followed her as she walked briskly down a white, sterile corridor. I liked Mungo’s – despite the chaos, mayhem and sometimes tragedy, there was a lovely cleanliness and order to everything.
We stopped abruptly at a ward, and my heart was hammering. I’d never been so terrified in my life. Why hadn’t anyone been to fetch me?
“In you go, love ,” said the lovely nurse, ushering me towards the doors. She turned and walked away, and I took a deep breath.
“Rose?” came an incredulous gasp as I entered the ward. Mum was standing next to a hospital bed with her arms wide open, and I ran into them. Nothing could ever be more comforting than a mum hug.
“Darling, where have you been? I’ve been so worried about you. Why are you so thin?”
“It’s not important, Mum. What is wrong with Dad?” I asked, head spinning. When was the last time I ate?
Mum stepped aside, and I looked into Dad’s pale face. His normally animated eyes were shut, and there was a strange slackness to his mouth.
“Dad?” I whispered, but there was no response. If it weren’t for the steady rise and fall of his chest, he could be dead.
“He’s had a stroke, Rose,” Mum said, a tremor in her voice. Mum, who was usually the strongest of us all, had tears in her eyes.
“Will he be okay?” I asked, terrified. I was expecting something to do with a magical curse, or something gone wrong at work, but this was much worse. Despite advances in magic, the only cure possible for a stroke was muggle rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
“Healer Harmsworth says he will recover in time, but won’t gain his full strength back. He’s woken up three times since I brought him here. He can’t speak, but I know he wanted you here.” There was reproach in Mum’s voice, and my eyes filled with tears.
“I’m so sorry, Dad,” I whispered, dropping into a chair and holding his hand. Mum came around and stood behind me, resting her hands on my shoulders.
“Everything will be okay, Rose. It’ll just take time. But it was such a shock. You’re here now though, and Dad will be okay – that’s the important thing.” She dropped a kiss on my forehead, muttered something about coffee, and left. I sighed, dropped my head onto the bed next to Dad’s chest and promptly fell asleep.
It was dark outside when I woke next, and Dad appeared unchanged. A small note was propped on his bedside table.
Rose, gone home for a shower and dinner. You have next week off school so don’t worry about classes. Hugo is with me. I’ll bring some clothes for you. Love Mum.
I crumpled the note and threw it away. Standing up with a stretch, I realised how quiet the ward was, and how incredibly, painfully hungry I was. My stomach was cramped and my head was spinning.
When was the last time I went for a run? I was suddenly panicked. Yes, Dad was in Mungo’s and very sick, but I hadn’t been for a run! I was distracted from my dilemma by the teeniest, tiniest movement from Dad. If I hadn’t been staring at him, I would have missed it. His little pinky twitched.
“Dad?” I asked, stepping towards him and touching his shoulder. His eyes fluttered and I held my breath, but that was it. I waited for a while longer before giving up and walking out of the ward. I didn’t leave him alone of course – there was a nurse sitting outside the door of the empty ward. Dad seemed to be the only patient in there.
“I’m just going to find something to eat,” I muttered to the nurse sitting outside, and she smiled at me. It was the same woman who brought me here. Her nametag read Nurse Peters. I was about to walk away, but remembered –
“Where are all the other patients? I’ve never seen such a quiet, empty Mungo’s ward.”
“Privacy, Miss Weasley. An important, famous family like yours, and Harry Potter visiting…” she trailed off, looking nervous as she said my uncle’s name. He made lots of people nervous, but to me he was just Uncle Harry who changed my nappies when I was a kid and gave me my first broomstick. I nodded, understanding.
“The press must be having a field day,” I sighed, and she nodded.
“Don’t worry, Miss Weasley. No one has been allowed in. But…” she trailed off again, handing me a copy of the Daily Prophet. I glanced at the cover and shut my eyes.
“Weasley on his deathbed, daughter nowhere to be found.”
“Yes, well,” I whispered, ashamed of my selfishness and stupidity. Albus was right – I was nothing but a child. Unable to form any words other than “Dad moved a few moments ago,” I walked away, dropping the newspaper from lifeless fingers.
I felt so numb. Sitting in the hospital cafeteria, turning an apple over in my hands, all I could think of was how much of a terrible person I was.
I was fighting with my boyfriend and my cousin, and probably Scorpius too. I’d left Dad on his own for almost the whole week without visiting. I wasn’t there for Mum when she needed me. Hugo was probably a mess, and I wasn’t there for him either.
Around me, people were whispering and throwing glances at me. I bit back a sigh and tried to put on a brave face. I took a tiny nibble of my apple, and my stomach cramped in response. I put it down and was about to stand up, when someone sat down opposite me.
I looked up into the blazing eyes of my brother. Uh oh…
“Not here, Hugo,” I hissed, trying to forestall what a knew would be a massive fight, but he shook his head slowly.
“What the fuck, Rose,” he said loudly, and I winced.
“I know, Hugh. Let’s go somewhere to talk. I –“
“I thought you were a good person. I thought you loved him. Where the hell were you?” He was almost shouting, and I stood up.
Someone had a camera out, and another person was taking notes. No reporters, my ass, I thought vehemently. Hugo was continuing to rant, and I was worried about what the people around us were hearing. I had always been the mature, press-ready person. Not that I cared how I was portrayed – I was more concerned about affecting my parent’s and aunt’s and uncle’s careers with thoughtless words.
Then I realised. My family was far more important than a stupid reporter elaborating on the truth; I looked at my brother, who was pale and unkempt, whose bottom lip was trembling, who looked like he hadn’t slept in a week.
I walked around the table and pulled him into a huge hug. He stopped talking and burst into tears.
“Where were you?” he sobbed into my neck, and I held him tighter.
“I’m so sorry, Hugh. I was being stupid and I didn’t even know Dad was sick. I promise. I’m here now,” I whispered, and led him out of the café and away from the gawking people, “Everything is going to be okay.”
But it wasn’t okay. Not even a little bit. A week later, after practically living in Mungo’s, Dad was finally showing some signs of improvement. Unfortunately, it was almost time for Hugo and I to go back to school.
The constant worrying about Dad and stress about my relationships back at Hogwarts and freaking out about what school work I was missing had really run me down. So when the girls suddenly turned up on Friday night, they found me curled up in a bed that I’d laboriously pulled up next to Dad, fast asleep. I woke up to whispers.
“Merlin, Mrs Weasley. I’m so sorry we didn’t think to tell you sooner. I mean, I knew she was getting thin, but I didn’t realise how much.” That was Callie. Who were they talking about?
“I’m so worried about her. Did you know she has a boyfriend? And her and Scorpius are friends? She’s changed so much this year.” Sophie.
“It’s okay, girls. I’ll have a chat to her later on. For now, maybe just let her sleep? There’s a games room upstairs if you get bored, and a few good muggle restaurants around.” That was Mum.
They were talking about me?
“I’m awake,” I mumbled, opening my eyes blearily. The three of them were standing around my bed; it was eerie, like I was the patient and not Dad.
“Hey, gorgeous,” Callie said with a small smile, and my best friends came forward and gave me a cuddle each. Merlin, I’d missed them. Sending letters all week just wasn’t the same. Mum drifted away to give us privacy, and I smiled at her. It was twilight outside, and the girls settled down on my bed with me.
“So, what have I missed?” I asked, “Everything is a complete mess, isn’t it?”
They didn’t meet my eyes, and I felt uncomfortable. “Scorpius must hate me,” I sighed, very bothered by the fact.
“What about Jake?” Callie blurted, obviously suddenly annoyed at me for some reason, “You care more about how things are between you and Malfoy, than between you and my brother? God, Rose.”
Without warning, my eyes filled up with tears and my lip trembled. Why was she being so mean to me?
“Callie, leave her alone. She’s been through a lot these last two weeks,” Sophie said reproachfully, putting an arm around my shoulders. But even she still wasn’t meeting my eyes.
“What’s going on with you two?” I asked when I was sure I’d gotten my emotions under control. What was with me lately? I was losing my head over everything.
“Nothing,” they said in unison, and I was even more annoyed. I sighed and looked away, noticing a paper sticking out of Sophie’s bag. I reached over and grabbed it, unfurling the front page.
“No!” Callie yelled, and I hushed her. I didn’t want her to disturb Dad, and if I wanted to read the Prophet then I was going to read the Prophet.
“Maybe that isn’t a good idea,” Sophie said in a small voice, and I rolled my eyes. I’d been reading about my family in the paper for the last two weeks, and mine and Hugo’s cafeteria conversation had already been well documented. But this title made my eyes widen.
"Daughter of the Golden Trio Wasting Away."
“Merlin, what is wrong with Lily?” I gasped, gripping the paper tightly.
“Not Lily, you idiot. You,” Callie said exasperated, and I raised an eyebrow.
Me? I was fine. Sure, I didn’t eat as much as I used to, but that didn’t mean I was wasting away.
Then I noticed that the article had a picture of me and Hugo at a family event from two years ago, as well as one taken in a Mungo’s corridor only yesterday. I remembered the Gryffindor jumper I had on, and my scrappy old jeans. So what if there was a marked difference in my weight? It wasn’t anyone’s business.
“So what have I missed in class?” I asked, dropping the paper over the side of the bed. The girls were eyeing me like I was going to explode, and I bit back a sigh at their antics. I wasn’t going to freak out over a stupid newspaper article.
“Not much, it’s been mostly revision. After all, we do have Christmas holidays in a few weeks’ time.” Sophie was relieved as she said this, glad the conversation had turned to less dangerous topics. Callie had other ideas in mind though.
“The school is still talking about that fight between you and Jake in the great hall. You’re a right bint, you know that?” she said vehemently, and I stared at her. Her eyes were angry, and that made me angry.
“Do you even know what your charming brother said to me?” I hissed, and she shrugged.
“He accused me of cheating on him with Malfoy of all people! How dare he!”
“That’s not entirely unfounded, considering how you guys spend your spare time having eye sex,” she rolled her eyes, and my hand twitched.
I will not slap her I will not slap her. Instead, I allowed my mouth to drop open and I stared at her.
“You bitch. How dare you even say that? Malfoy and I have never done anything of the sort (how do you even have eye sex?). I thought you guys were here to help me, but apparently not. Feel free to leave,” I hissed, sliding off the bed and determinedly walking around Dad to sit beside his bed.
I heard Callie’s customary heels ringing out against the tiles as she stalked away, but Sophie came round to where I was sitting.
“Honey, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know she was going to be like that,” she whispered, touching my shoulder, “She’s just been so worried about you and your Dad, and we have to remember that Jake is her brother.”
I shrugged her hand off. “She has a strange way of showing her concern. I’ll see you on Monday at school. As weird as it sounds, I don’t really feel like talking to anyone right now,” I muttered sarcastically.
Putting my arms on Dad’s bed, I lay my head down and blocked out the world. I felt a light butterfly kiss on my cheek from Sophie, and then she was gone too.
This time when I slept, I dreamed. I was on my broomstick and reaching out to the stars. I sensed someone flying behind me and glanced back to see Scorpius’ short blonde hair and shining eyes. When I turned around I grabbed at the stars and finally caught one. But it burned bright and hot, so very painful. I let it go, and fell back down to earth. With Malfoy up in the stars, there was no one on the ground to catch me.
“Rosie. my girl,” a mumbled, difficult-to-understand voice woke me up, “Hi.”
I opened my eyes to see Dad looking at me through half-lidded eyes. His breathing was laboured from concentrating on speaking, but his eyes were smiling at me. They were the first words he’d said to me because I had been elsewhere any other time he’d been awake. Happy but distressed, I burst into tears, and climbed into bed beside him.
“I missed you Daddy. Welcome back.”
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