It was 7am by the time I woke up again. I had only been asleep for two hours. No one else was in the room, which meant they had never come up in the first place so I assumed they were at the hospital wing now. This worked in my favor though, my eyes were extremely red and puffy from crying and I really didn’t want anyone to see me. I almost lost it when I saw Mr. and Mrs. Potter on my way from James’ room last night, or should I say earlier this morning. They had looked worried as they asked me how he was doing. I had told them that I wasn’t sure, not knowing exactly what to say. Ginny had hugged me quickly while Harry patted my shoulder before they both hurried towards their son.
I took a quick shower and tried to take the tired look off of my face before I hurried towards the hospital wing. It was Sunday so there were no classes and since I didn’t really feel like eating I skipped breakfast. I finally made it to the hospital wing and saw the whole gang was there, including Teddy. I was about to walk out, not wanting to intrude on their family time when Ginny spoke,
“Paislee, how are you dear?”
I groaned to myself at being caught. I was trying to make a quiet exit.
“I’m fine. How’s he doing?” I asked, not moving an inch from where I was since I was still intent on leaving.
“He’s resting. He’s going to be okay though. Madam Pomfrey will be able to heal all his wounds, so St. Mungo’s is not a possibility.” Ginny replied with a soft smile.
“I’m glad to hear it. I’ll leave y’all alone now; let you have some family time.” I said turning to walk out.
“Don’t be ridiculous Paislee, you can stay as well, you’re family too.” Ginny said as she motioned for me to come closer.
“I don’t want to intrude…”
“Paislee, for the love of Merlin just get over here!” Dom exasperated. I scowled at her before making my way to them.
My eyes immediately sought James. He was still asleep, or possibly unconscious. His breathing still seemed shaky, labored. It hurt to see him like this. Again I felt tears threaten to spill out from my eyes. I blinked quickly and breathed in deeply to stem them off. Luckily it worked. Starlene grabbed my hand and squeezed it, I returned the pressure.
“How are you doing?” I asked Ginny and Harry.
“A bit scared of course, angry too. I don’t understand why or how this happened.” Ginny said. Guilt washed over me. It happened because of me.
“The two boys who did this were Slytherin’s right?” Harry asked and we all nodded.
“Well they were just sore losers is all. Two angry boys who thought they were being clever. They did it because they thought they would get away with it and because they were angry at having lost the match.” Harry said.
Oh if that was all there was to it. Of course the being mad at losing part was true, but they really did it because of me. They knew James and I were sweet on one another so they went after him when they failed to get me. And if I had just said something to a professor they would’ve been on alert and someone would’ve been keeping an eye on them to make sure they didn’t do anything else.
“I don’t ever remember us going to such great lengths to get back at someone.” Ginny replied.
Harry snorted, “You don’t remember when George and I punched Draco in the face fifth year after we won?”
“You punched my Dad?” Scorpius asked with awe.
Harry looked a bit embarrassed and rubbed the back of his neck, “Erm…yeah. He was making some rude comment about our family and we kinda snapped.”
“Excellent.” Scorpius said with a smile.
“Oh Scorpius, your family isn’t nearly as bad anymore. They were actually civil the last time they dropped you off round our place.” Ginny said.
“It’s still excellent.” Scorpius said. Everyone laughed softly, except me as I was still battling with my guilt.
“Unfortunately this fight was done in the middle of the night with no one else watching, unlike our little brawl with Malfoy all those years ago.” Harry said.
“Yeah, it was as if they were waiting for him.” Al said.
“They probably were; the wankers.” Freddie said darkly.
“Freddie.” Ginny chastised.
“Sorry Aunt Ginny, I’m just…I’m so angry. I should’ve been there with him. He wanted me to go with him but I was so tired from the celebration. If I had just been there…” Freddie trailed off as he slammed his fist on the small table my James’ bed.
“Freddie, this isn’t your fault you understand? You still would’ve been wand-less and you would’ve gotten hurt as well.” Harry said firmly.
“I could’ve helped him.” Freddie insisted.
“And then you’d both be in here and what good would that have done anyone?” Teddy asked.
“I could’ve taken them.” Freddie argued.
Al snorted, “No offense mate, but Weatherly and Flannigan are huge. They outweigh you by about 150 pounds. Not exactly lightweights. James is lucky he isn’t in a worse state.”
Ginny cut Freddie off, “But nothing Freddie, no more of this guilt okay? It truly isn’t your fault and no one is blaming you. You can’t be with James every moment of every day, they would’ve cornered him alone at some point in time.”
“Aunt Ginny is right Freddie, it would’ve happened sooner or later.” Roxanne said as she laid a comforting hand on her brother’s shoulder. He looked at her and gave a grim smile before murmuring a ‘thanks.’
“How long is he going to be asleep?” Lily asked.
“I’m not sure I’m afraid.” Madam Pomfrey answered, making her way towards us
“You’re not sure?” Hugo asked with a confused expression.
“It’s up to him. He’ll wake up when his body feels like it needs to.” Madam Pomfrey answered.
“Isn’t there something you could give him; a potion or a spell to make him wake up?” Rose asked.
“Sometimes the body knows what’s best dear.” Madam Pomfrey said. “He’s comfortable of course; I’ve been able to put some a potion for pain in cream form so he’s not hurting much.”
“Well that’s good.” Harry said.
“So it’s the waiting game huh?” Teddy asked.
“Yes Professor Lupin, we’re simply playing the waiting game.” Madam Pomfrey answered.
And so that’s what we did. We waited.
Ginny and Harry were staying at Hogwarts since they wanted to be there when James woke up. The rest of the gang took shifts. Dom, Roxanne, and I were a team; Hugo, Al, and Lily were a team; and Rose, Starlene, Freddie, and Scorpius were the last team. We relieved one another for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Well, they did, I pretty much stayed with James the entire time. There was a small recliner right next to James’ bed that I stayed in practically all day. Madam Pomfrey threw a fit at first but changed her mind after she caught me crying when no one else was around. I guess she felt sorry for me, I didn’t want her pity but if it meant I could stay with James I could handle it. I ate every once in a while and slept about three hours each night. We all still had to go to class of course, but the professors were exceptionally flexible with us. Word of what had happened to James spread across the school in a very short amount of time. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and most of Ravenclaw were in an uproar. While James was a cocky jerk at times he was also very popular and very well-liked by just about everyone. The Slytherin’s were very quiet lately, not wanting to set off the bomb that was threatening to erupt at any moment. Of course it would be completely unfair to blame the whole house for something only two of them did, but there were very few Slytherin’s that seemed upset about what had happened. However, a handful of them had apologized on behalf of Weatherly and Flannigan. About six students had personally gone up to Lily and Al and apologized, loud enough for everyone in the Great Hall to hear.
While everyone else ate their meals in the Great Hall I refused to leave James’ bedside. I wasn’t eating nearly as much as I should have been but I didn’t really have an appetite in the first place and I didn’t want James to be alone for even a moment. Dom, Starlene, and Roxanne tried to get me to come down for meals and eat more often but I just couldn’t. It was my fault James was there in the first place. James had been unconscious for 8 solid days and it didn’t look like he was going to be waking up anytime soon. Madam Pomfrey had even given him an I.V. to help him get the fluids and nutrients he needed. Sometimes Muggles had brilliant ideas. It was supposed to be Hugo, Al, and Lily’s shift but I of course had volunteered for it so that they could catch up on some homework when Starlene came in. I was doing my own homework and hadn’t heard her come in until she spoke.
“Paislee, you know you really should eat a good meal and get a proper’s night rest.” Starlene told me.
Did I mention I had sleeping on the chair next to his bed?
“I don’t him to wake up alone, especially now since Ginny and Harry had to go back to work.” I told her.
Harry had gotten a letter about a lead on a very dark wizard that he’d been trying to find for a few months now. Apparently the wizard was responsible for a few Muggle deaths as well as the death of one of his Auror’s. Dad was actually the one that had owled him and Harry was not particularly happy about leaving but Madam Pomfrey assured him that James was going to be just fine, so he had left yesterday. Ginny left for St. Mungo’s shortly after Harry left when Hermione had asked for help. A group of Muggles were sent there to have their wounds tended to and their memories wiped. Apparently Ginny’s expertise was needed and she too left after the assurance of James’ full recovery.
“He’ll probably be so out of it he won’t even realize no one is here.” Starlene said.
“I wouldn’t feel right about it.” I insisted.
“But you look like hell Paislee.”
“Liar. Look, I’ll be here, why don’t you go get some dinner and a good night’s rest. It’s nearly 9pm anyways and you still haven’t eaten. I’m sure the house elves down in the kitchens would be more than happy to get you some food.”
“Starlene, I said I’m fine.” I said a bit irritated.
“Starlene, just drop it okay? I want to be here alright? I need to be here.”
“Why? Why do you ‘need’ to be here?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” I said.
“That’s the problem Paislee. You haven’t spoken much at all since this all happened. You aren’t your normal cheery self, you’re constantly here and only leave to go to class, you aren’t eating properly and you haven’t said one word about how you’re feeling. You only ask how we are and only want to talk about how the rest of us are feeling!” Starlene cried.
“Well excuse me for being concerned.” I muttered.
“I’m bloody ecstatic that you’re concerned Paislee, but I don’t think you realize how concerned we all are for you.”
“Well don’t be.”
Starlene scoffed, “Fat chance that’ll happen. We care about you Paislee.”
“I’m glad y’all care, but like I told you. I’m fine.”
“Tell me why you need to be here.” She insisted.
“No. Drop it, I don’t feel like talking about it.”
“I’m not leaving until you tell me.” Starlene said.
“Then pull up a chair, I don’t want your legs giving out on you.”
“Paislee Jeannette Hayes, you talk to me right now!”
“No! Freaking-A Starlene just drop it!” I shouted.
“Why do you need to be here Paislee? Why is your health and your feelings so less important than everyone else’s? Huh?”
“Because it’s my fault James is in here!” I yelled as I stood to my feet and faced Starlene.
Starlene’s face dropped its angry look and its place came a confused look.
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“It’s my fault James is hurt alright? I need to be here when he wakes up so I can apologize to him!”
“Paislee this is mad, how in the world can this be your fault?”
“Because Weatherly and Flannigan went after him because of me!”
“That doesn’t make any sense Paislee.”
“Dom and I were attacked by them a few days before the match. Dom was only in the middle of it because she was walking with me. Weatherly and Flannigan had me pinned to the wall and tried to attack me but I was quicker and hexed them with a stinging jinx. Al saw what was going on and was going to try to help but I finished them off before he could help. I was almost out of time since my shield spell was just about gone. I didn’t tell anyone what happened cause I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, just a little duel right? And then we one and they were so angry and I kept throwing them winks and laughing at them during the match and they know how much James and I like each other and they went after him.” I said and felt tears gathering in the corner of my eyes.
“Paislee…” Starlene said softly.
“Save it Starlene. Nothing you can say is ever going to make me change my mind alright? If I had just said something to someone, a professor or Prefect or someone then this wouldn’t have happened!”
“That’s not true Paislee.”
“Yes, yes it is! They would’ve been stuck in detention or something and they wouldn’t have hurt him! They beat the living crap out of him Starlene! They didn’t even have wands; they just used their fists and feet!” I shouted.
“That doesn’t make it your fault Paislee! And how do you think they would’ve reacted if you had said something and they were in detention during the match, they just would’ve been even angrier and would’ve done something even nastier.” Starlene insisted.
“They went after him because of me! This is all my fault and I have to apologize! I have to make up for what I did! Not eating and not sleeping good is a small sacrifice considering the sacrifice James made for me without even knowing it!” I yelled and that’s when the tears came. I couldn’t stop them. I tried so hard but they poured down my face and soon sobs were wracking my body. Starlene started crying too and she came closer to me and put her hands on my shoulders.
“Paislee, James would never blame you for this.”
“It d-doesn’t matter! It’s still m-my fault whether he t-thinks it is or n-not. He’s b-broken and bruised because o-of me! I made Al p-promise not to tell h-him or anyone else because I th-thought I could handle it o-on my own! I was w-wrong Starlene! I was wrong, and J-James paid the price. I’m sorry! I’m s-so sorry!” I sobbed.
“That’s the biggest load of dragon dung I have ever heard.” A tired and hoarse voice said from behind me. I whirled around and saw James staring at me with bleary eyes.
“James!” I cried and quickly ran to his bedside, Starlene not far behind me.
“Oh James it’s so good to see you with your eyes open!” Starlene said with a watery smile.
“It’s good to be awake…sort of.” He said in that same pained and hoarse voice.
“I’m gonna go let everyone else know you’re awake now. Madam Pomfrey is talking with Teddy last I checked. It’s really great to see you up James.” Starlene said before leaving the room. I sat down in my chair next to James’ bed and ran my hand softly down his cheek. During the three days James had been asleep the bruising on his face had significantly lessened; the bruising now more of a pale yellow and the gash along his neck was still faintly red but was better looking as well. The bandages had come off of his head now and his hair was messy and matted against his head. And despite all of that he was still the most attractive boy I had ever seen in my life.
“How are you feeling?” I asked him.
“Sore.” He replied.
“What’s the rubbish I hear about this being your fault?” He asked me.
“James, please. Let’s not talk about this. You’re awake and your family is going to want to see you.” I told him.
James looked at me intensely, as if reading my every thought before he reached up with his uncast hand and stroked my face.
“Paislee…you know what I dreamt about?” He asked me suddenly.
“What?” I asked.
“Yes, you. The entire time I’ve been asleep all I’ve done is dream about you. About wanting to hold you, to kiss you, to just be with you. And you wanna know how I was able to wake up?”
“I heard you. I’ve been hearing you speak to me a lot, but hearing you cry, it tore me up and I needed to be awake to tell you to stop being such a git.” James said with a ghost of a smile on his face.
“I’m not being a git. I’m just…I’m sorry James. I’m so sorry.” I whispered.
“Hey now, none of that alright?” He told me as he pulled my face closer to his and kissed me softly. I was worried about hurting him so I held back a bit, but he growled softly in his throat and tightened his grip on my neck. I laughed softly before kissing him back.
“That’s more like it.” He said. I rolled my eyes before pulling away softly. Suddenly, the doors burst open and there were shouts of joy as the whole gang entered the room.
“JAMES!” They cried as they all ran to his bedside. James chuckled as they all started talking over one another asking how he was feeling.
“Alright now you lot back away, back away! I need to assess Mr. Potter before you put him back two weeks.” Madam Pomfrey said good naturedly. We all dispersed as Madam Pomfrey started assessing James’ current condition.
“How are you feeling Mr. Potter?” She asked.
“M’fine.” He replied.
“Do not lie to me Mr. Potter, I need to know even the slightest discomfort so I know where to go from here.”
“I’m sore…my…my ribs are killing me.” James muttered and then winced as he shifted in his bed.
“Alright you lot, time to go. Mr. Potter’s parents have been notified he’s awake and will be here shortly. Mr. Potter and Ms. Potter are allowed to stay but I’m afraid the rest of you must leave now. Visiting hours will resume as normal tomorrow.” Madam Pomfrey said and shooed us all out. The rest of the gang said their goodbyes but I lingered for a moment longer, running my hands through James’ hair. He closed his eyes and sighed softly as if savoring the feeling of my hand through his hair.
“I’ll see you later.” I told him.
“Lily, give Paislee the cloak okay? We’ve…we’ve got some stuff to talk about and I’d rather not wait.” James told his little sister. I was about to argue with him but he shot me a look so I sighed and rolled my eyes.
“Of course James.” Lily said and smiled at me.
“What time?” I asked.
“After midnight. Madam Pomfrey goes to bed then and won’t be around.” James told me. I nodded and kissed his forehead before leaving.
I was not looking forward to this talk.
Luckily Starlene hadn’t mentioned my little outburst to anyone and I was extremely grateful. The gang new about my meeting with James and they helped as much as possible to make sure I made it. Al and Freddie told me the easiest way to get to the hospital wing without being detected, Dom and Starlene made sure every inch me was covered by the cloak (which wasn’t very hard considering how small I was), and Lily made sure Madam Pomfrey was asleep before I left. I quietly made my way to the hospital wing and completely avoided detection with ease since I was under the cloak. I finally made it there and quietly opened the door. Madam Pomfrey’s light was off and there was a small lamp on right next to James’ bed. He appeared to be asleep but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure if he was or not, but I quietly walked up to his bed and sat down in the chair I had occupied for so many hours. I sat there and stared at him for a minute. He was shirtless; the blanket pulled up to his mid chest, exposing the top part and on the side near his ribs I saw some bruising. Guilt rushed through me at the sight and I cleared my throat to stop myself from crying again. I had already lost it once today; I wasn’t going to lose it again.
“I’m going to be fine American.” James said suddenly. I jumped slightly.
“Never said you weren’t.” I told him as I pulled the cloak off. James opened his eyes and looked at me, then smiled.
“What are you so happy about?” I asked him.
“And getting you to blush.” He smirked.
“And scowl.” James said with a laugh.
“You’re such a dork.” I told him.
“Eh, I aim to please.”
“How are you feeling?” I asked him.
“Brilliant thanks.” James said.
“How are you feeling?” He asked me and I was taken aback by the question.
“Me?” I asked.
“Yes you. How are you feeling?” He repeated.
“I’m fine.” I replied automatically.
“Well aren’t we just a pair of fibbers then?” I said with a small laugh.
“I’m just sore Paislee. Weatherly and Flannigan…well they kinda kicked my arse.” James said with a grim smile.
Insert guilt here.
“I’m sorry.” I said softly.
“It’s not your fault.” James said with a shrug.
I said nothing.
“And this is exactly why I wanted to talk. Why in the name of Merlin do you think this is your fault?”
Again I said nothing. I looked down at the floor, unable to look him in the eyes.
“Paislee, I’m waiting.” James said.
“What do you want me to say James?” I asked him.
“I want you to tell me why you think this is your fault!” James said firmly, his honey colored eyes searching mine.
“Because it is.”
“I’d rather not talk about it.” I said quietly.
“Paislee, I’ve got the gist of why. I heard almost everything you said to Paislee, but I need you to tell me. I don’t want to hear it secondhand.” James said.
“Why is this so important to you?” I asked him.
“Because you’re important to me, and how you view yourself is important to me.” James said pulling the biggest puppy dog eyes I had ever seen in my entire life. And to top it off that was pretty much the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me, which only made the puppy dog eyes even worse.
“Awe James, not the puppy dog eyes…” I whined.
And you know what James did? He pouted. Actually stuck his lip out and pouted.
Oh for the love of Merlin.
“Weatherly and Flannigan ambushed Dom and I a few days before the match. We got into a slight…altercation and before any real damage could happen they ran for it. I didn’t say anything to anyone because I thought that I could handle it on my own…and obviously I was wrong.” I said motioning to James and his plethora of injuries.
“I’m still not connecting on how you’re to blame for this.” James said.
Is he an idiot?
“James? How can you not see it? If I would’ve just said something to someone this wouldn’t have happened! You would be perfectly whole and in one piece! They beat the living crap outta you so they could get back at me!” I told him.
“No they didn’t.” James replied.
“James, yes they did. It’s my fault you’re here and I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry. I didn’t know that by not saying anything that this would happen. Please forgive me.” I said as tears gathered in the corners of my eyes.
“Paislee…c’mere.” James said and held his arms out. I scooted my chair closer to him and rested my head against his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me and let me quietly cry. I kept whispering that I was sorry while he rubbed my back. After a few minutes I finally composed myself and looked at James. He reached out and wiped the tears from my face before pulling me closer and kissing me softly on the lips.
“I want you to listen to me Paislee okay?” He asked as he kept my face in his hands so that I couldn’t look anywhere else. I nodded.
“I, in no way, blame you.” He started. I was about to argue but he shook his head and shushed me.
“Let me finish. Al had spilled the beans about what happened between you and Weatherly and Flannigan the moment he came back to the common room. And don’t be mad at him. The kid can’t keep anything from me. I know him too well. Freddie and I had cornered them the day before the match and threatened them within an inch of their life if they ever touched you or Dom again that it’d be the last thing they did. I was stupid to think they wouldn’t retaliate. I was even more stupid to have left my wand. This is more my fault than anyone else’s. I wasn’t being smart; I was being a pompous prat.” James said.
“What exactly happened James?” I asked.
“I was on my way to Ted’s, I was gonna ask him about an extension for our report on giants since we won the match when someone slugged me from the side. It was really early in the morning so I wasn’t expecting anyone to be up so I left my wand in our dorm. I barely had a chance to retaliate when I was kicked to the ground. I’ll spare you the really nasty details, but they basically kicked my arse good and proper. It was two huge blokes against one, I didn’t stand a chance. I got a few good swings in though.” James finished with a smug smile.
“You are such a dork.” I told him.
“So you’ve said.” He replied with that same smug smile.
“I’m glad you’re awake.” I said.
“Me too. You know what would make me really happy though?”
“You not blaming yourself.” James said.
I looked intently at him, trying to see if he was just trying to make me feel better or if he truly didn’t blame me. He seemed sincere so I slowly nodded.
“Okay, I’ll try.” I told him.
“You know what else would me really happy?”
“You’re pushin’ your luck Potter.” I told him and he grinned.
“You getting a good night’s sleep and a decent meal in you.” James said.
“Starlene is such a nark.” I muttered and James laughed.
“I’m fine Paislee…I promise. I’ll be up and outta here in no time.”
I snorted, “Whatever. You’re gonna spend the next month in here just wait. Madam Pomfrey is like a mother hen I swear.”
“I’ll be able to sweet talk my way out of here. No one can resist my charms.” James said with a smirk.
“You’re insufferable.” I told him.
“Go on Paislee…go to bed now and sleep in alright? That’s what the weekend is for.” James said.
“You sure you’re gonna be okay?” I asked. “I can stay. I’ve been sleeping here for the past week anyways.”
“No, I need you rested so you can help me escape.”
“Fat chance.” I said and he smiled at me. I bent down and kissed him before turning to leave.
“Yeah?” I asked and turned to face James.
“Promise me you’ll let this go, that you won’t continue blaming yourself.”
“I’ll try James."
“Try real hard okay? For me?” James asked with puppy dogs in full force again. I rolled my eyes but started smiling, feeling myself cave completely.
“Oh for the love of Merlin, yes James I’ll try, I’ll try really hard.” I told him. He grinned at me.
“You are such a cheater, using those puppy dog eyes.” I said.
“Not my fault you cave easily.” James smirked.
“Go to sleep James.” I told him before leaving.
I made my way to my dorm and climbed into bed. Starlene was still awake and was looking at me, waiting to see if I would talk to her. I smiled at her.
“Tomorrow.” I whispered. Starlene smiled back at me before nodding and settling under her covers. I climbed under my own and sighed deeply, completely exhausted and looking forward to a good nights sleep for once. James was going to be okay.
Well, I’m working on it.
A/N: AHHHHH! What do y'all think? I had a lot of fun writing this chapter. I know it's a bit more angsty than I normally do, but Paislee's been handed a raw deal here, so has James. So what's next for Paislee and her friends? School is gonna be over soon and Paislee will be able to go back home. Will she? Who knows?! Remember to review, I love reading your comments as they give me warm and fuzzies. =]]
P.S.: Y'all are amazing!!! Just sayin'. =]]