Chapter 16 : Love rule #15
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I woke up slowly, ensconced in warmth and comfort. I could feel woolly socks on my feet and the buttons of my pyjamas digging into my stomach. A warm, rough hand was holding mine, but my arm itself was painful at my forearm.
I tried to open my eyes to see what was hurting me but I was far too tired.
“Is she awake?” I heard someone ask, sounding desperate. Sophie?
I didn’t want to speak, so I just smiled slightly and snuggled deeper into the covers. There was a light touch on my face, and I sighed at the feeling and the warmth – I’d know that touch anywhere.
I could just wake up later.
Later came, and the light beyond my eyelids was brighter than before. A light breeze swirled over my bare skin, and with it came the smell of flowers and sunlight. I took a deep breath and slowly released it, gasping at the pain in my lungs and the throbbing in my head. I was still warm and comfortable, but I felt like my body was being hit over and over again.
Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to wake up after all.
The next time it was darker, and I decided that I felt better and I could open my eyes. So I did. I was met with a shadowy white ceiling and crisp white sheets. Colourful flowers were arrayed at my side, and through the window opposite me, I could see that the sun was turning the sky above the distant mountains a beautiful orange.
Why was I in the hospital wing? I tried to sit up, but was held down by something. A weight on my hip bone kept me in place, and I craned my neck to see someone’s head against me. Not just someone.
“Scorp?” I whispered, and his name comforted my whirling thoughts. He sat up with a start, moving to take my hand. His face was haggard, but I couldn’t help smiling tiredly at him.
“Oh hell, Rose,” he whispered back, holding my hand to his lips and breathing raggedly. I shivered in happiness, and pain shot through me. My arm was still hurting, a constant, niggling pain. “Don’t move, I’ll go get the matron.”
He jumped up and walked out of my line of sight. Come back! And then I was too tired to wait for him to come back, so I let myself drift again.
The next time, I was most definitely awake. No more drifting or going back to sleep. Everything hurt too much for that.
“Hello?” I whispered, not opening my eyes. My throat was burning.
“Sit up and drink this, Miss Weasley.”
I opened my eyes to see a whippet thin woman bustling around my bed, shuffling my beautiful flowers out of the way and stacking colourfully wrapped boxes. Rivers, our school healer, was a no-nonsense woman, so I did as I was told. She helped me settle back onto my pillows, tutting sympathetically when tears of pain sprang into my eyes.
“That was quite a fall you had, Miss Weasley,” she said, smoothing my cover down.
“What happened?” I asked, “How long have I been here for?”
“You fell of your broom yesterday morning and hit the ice on the lake. Your parents have been here since yesterday afternoon, and your friends are being particularly insistent about visiting, but you're too unwell.”
“But what concerns me most, Miss Weasley,” she continued, stirring a steaming potion and then handing it to me, “Is why you fell off the broom.”
I cupped the potion, enjoying the warmth and soothing feeling it lent to my surprisingly sore hands. I didn’t meet the Healer’s eyes as she glared beadily at me, watching as I sipped the foul concoction. She didn’t even give me a chance to ask what was in in and to calculate the calories.
I chose to ignore her last comment and instead asked, “What’s this meant to be benefiting?” gesturing at the potion.
“It’s to absorb the copious amounts of water in your lungs, to lessen your concussion, bring down overall swelling and give your body much needed nutrients. With your current state of health, I’m impressed you’re even awake. Broken bones, hypothermia and concussion will keep you here for a good long time.”
“What’s this?” I asked, finally seeing the source of the pain in my arm. A needle was taped into place just below my elbow. A tube full of liquid was suspended above my bed and was feeding into the needle.
“An intravenous drip,” Rivers said, checking the little bag. I froze.
“Wh – what?” I stuttered, my fingers already scrambling at it. She slapped my hands away.
“You need to calm down. It’s only liquids. You were severely dehydrated.”
I tried to take a deep breath, my head spinning. I knew they could put all sorts of nourishing things in the drips, which meant they could fatten me up without me knowing.
The healer handed me one last potion and before I knew it, my head fell back against the pillows and I passed out. It was a healing sleep, and I woke up feeling better than I’d felt in a very long time. The only thing distracting me was the gnawing hunger in my belly, and my hip bones sticking through the thin bed sheet. I fingered them wonderingly, and shook my head in amazement.
“Healer Rivers?” I called out, unsure if I was meant to be moving. I felt good though. The IV was still in my arm and it still hurt to breathe deeply, but it was definitely an overall improvement. The light outside the windows told me it was early morning, perhaps the crack of dawn.
“Yes, Rose?” she asked, sticking her head through the curtain pulled around my bed.
“I need to use the bathroom,” I whispered in embarrassment, and she smiled kindly for once.
“Normally I’d make you use a bed pan,” – I turned red at this and started to protest – “But I want you to move around.”
I pushed the covers back in relief and swung my heavy, weak legs over the bed. I slowly stood up, but had a huge head spin and paused to lean against the bed. Perhaps I didn’t feel so good after all.
“Do you know why you’re so dizzy, Miss Weasley?” Rivers asked, gazing at me over her spectacles.
“Because I… hit my head?” I guessed hopefully, and she rolled her eyes.
“Because you don’t eat, Rose.”
“I eat a satisfactory amount,” I said stiffly, determinedly taking a step away from her.
My eating habits are no one’s business but my own!
I got to the other side of the curtain before my legs almost gave way. Rivers hurried to my side and threw my arm over her shoulder, still huffing.
“We’ll talk about this later, girl.”
“Nothing to talk about,” I said mulishly, and she all but dragged me to the bathroom.
“Oh my god, Rose!” Callie screeched, and she and Sophie threw themselves across the bed at me. Sophie was pale and babbling incoherently. She cuddled me so hard that my newly healed bones protested and hopped into bed with me so she didn't have to let me go.
The girls weren't my first visitors. I felt like everyone I'd ever said hello to had come in to see me.
Everyone but Scorpius.
“Let me go, Soph, I said with a laugh, "I'm fine. What have you been doing in class?”
Callie rolled her eyes and sat down, clearly not interested in school. Sophie wasn’t interested either, because she babbled in my ear.
“Everyone in school has been so worried, it’s just not the same without you menacing the hallways and yelling at first years. Scorpius has had to do it all by himself, and he’s such a mess that he can’t even eat-“
Callie talked over her, distracting me from either the Scorpius comment, or the eating comment, I wasn’t quite sure which.
“Your parents want to come in for a visit in a few minutes,” she said, and my heart lifted. I had seen them already, but I had been so drugged up and hazy that I could barely remember it.
The girls left after promising to bring me homework and textbooks, and were replaced by my parents. Dad was still in his wheelchair, but long hours of physiotherapy were doing wonders for his speech and muscle control. Mum was looking frazzled, her bushy hair greyer and bushier than ever.
“Hello, love,” Dad said, winking at me, “How is my favourite Head Girl?”
“I’m okay, Dad,” I said, fidgeting with my sheets as both of my parents stared intently at me, “In fact, I feel good. I’m being kept here against my will!” I said the last bit as loud as I could without shouting.
“If you even so much as look at the door, Miss Weasley, I’ll lock you in,” Healer Rivers’ voice came from her office, and Dad sniggered. Mum sighed and sat on the chair that Callie had recently vacated.
“What are we going to do with you, Rose?” She looked disappointed and worried.
I couldn't meet her sad gaze.
“Nothing, Mum!” I said quietly.
“Guess what, Rose!” Dad suddenly exclaimed, clearly trying to ease the awkwardness. At least I knew who was the good cop and who was the bad cop.
“My Mungo’s Healer reckon I can be back at work in three months!” His eyes were lit up, and a smile was on his rugged, still-a-bit-droopy-face, and I gave him my first smile in response. I knew how difficult the last few months had been for Mum and Dad, mentally and financially. The loss of a second income had had a rather hard impact.
“That’s great, Dad!”
Dad leaned forward to say something else, but Mum interrupted. “We have someone coming in to see you tomorrow.”
“Merlin,” I groaned, slumping back onto my pillows, “Not the whole bloody Weasley clan!”
“No, Rose,” Mum said tartly, “A Muggle-born Healer.”
Dad shifted uncomfortably as I protested. “What for? I’ve got Rivers, she’s better than anyone.”
“Not for the kind of help you need, Rose.”
“The kind of help I need? Mum, what I need is to get out of here, see my friends and study for my classes!”
“You won’t be able to do any of that if you’re dead, Rose! Which is exactly what you’ll be if you continue like this!” Mum exploded, and I stared at her. So that’s that this is about.
“I am perfectly healthy, Mum! My weight is in the normal range, my grades haven’t dropped, and my friends don’t hate me anymore!”
“Rose,” Mum sighed, head in her hands, “Your weight is at the low range of healthy. If you continue like this, you’ll eventually wear your body out! You don’t look healthy, and I know you don’t feel healthy. Why else would you have fallen off your broom in the first place?”
“I see what this is,” I hissed, so angry I was trembling, “’Let’s kick Rose while she’s down.’ Well you know what? I don’t need any help! Please leave me alone.”
I slid under my covers and pulled them up to my now-wobbling chin. Closing my eyes, I rolled over so I didn’t have to look at either of them. The truth was, I was scared. Because despite my protests and my denials, I knew that I was sick, but I didn’t want to be fat again.
I lay wide awake that night, fear filling my chest. A Muggle Healer. No Scorpius. Fat. No school.
I needed to see Scorpius so badly that I worked myself up into a panic. Rivers finally administered me a calming draught, and I knew a brief moment of tranquillity before nightmares haunted me.
The next morning I Vanished my breakfast into oblivion and slumped to the shower – and made an effort to change my pyjamas for a dress and put on some makeup.
I was going to do anything to convince this Healer that I was fine. .
I used all of the products Sophie had brought me in order to fix my hair. Soon it hung down my back in thick, shining strands. However, the rest of me had little to offer. My nails were brittle, my skin pasty, my eyes exhausted. With a sigh, I tore myself away from the mirror and slumped back to bed. When had I gotten like this?
“Rose, Ductor Lewis is here for you,” Rivers said midmorning, sticking her head through the curtains.
“Doctor,” I corrected her mutinously and turned away. I heard someone walking down the hospital wing towards my bed, and the curtains opened. I forced a passive smile onto my face and looked up at the ‘ductor’. I hid my surprise as a sleek, well-dressed young woman sat next to me.
“Hello, Rose.” She had a pretty smile, and couldn’t be more than thirty.
“Hi,” I said hesitantly.
“Shall we,” she said, looking around with a frown, “Have a chat elsewhere? This place is awful.”
I couldn’t help but warm up to her. The hospital wing sucked.
“There’s a balcony at the end of the wing,” I said hopefully, and the doctor stood up faster than she had sat down.
“Come on, then, out of this poky old spot.”
I slipped out of bed and into some shoes, throwing a jumper over my dress as I hurried after Lewis. I was tired and dizzy as I walked behind her, but excited – fresh air! She opened the doors and we stepped out into a chilling wind. I went to grab my wand to cast a protective charm, but found I didn’t have it on me.
“Allow me,” Lewis said politely, taking her wand out, casting the charm and conjuring some comfy armchairs. We sat down on the stone balcony, protected from the weather and ensconced in lovely chairs; Dumbledore would have been proud.
Lewis turned to me, looking serious. I suddenly wanted to hit my head against the railings, desperate to be anywhere but here.
“Rose, my name is Amethyst Lewis. I’m a Muggle psychologist and a Healer at St Mungos. Your mum invited me here today for a chat. I want you to know that you needn’t talk to me if you don’t want to. For all it matters, I’m happy to sit here with a cup of tea until if or when you feel like talking.”
Damn this woman, she was good. I fought with my natural politeness, which was telling me to say, “That’s okay, we can talk! Thank you so much for coming today!” Instead, I crossed my arms and sat back in my chair. I could feel my ribs under my arms and felt a thrill of excitement.
“Cup of tea?”
I nodded. “Black, please.”
The tea was conjured, and silence descended once more. It got to the point of being unbearable – after all, I was never one to keep my mouth shut.
“I don’t even know why you’re here,” I finally blurted out. Lewis took a sip of her tea and smiled at me over the rim.
“Tell me, Rose. How do you feel right this moment? It’s not a trick question,” she added as I glared at her, looking for an ulterior motive. I relented.
“I feel… warm.” The tea cup in my hands was hot, and the chair around me was deliciously warm, but then a shiver wracked me.
“Everything around you is warm, but you’re still cold,” Lewis noted, and I shrugged again. “What else, Rose?”
“I’m tired. Really tired… It makes no sense, because I’ve done nothing but sleep these last few days. I’m also really annoyed at everyone. Did you know Hugo hasn’t even visited me? And Scorpius was here at the start but he hasn’t come back since! I feel angry actually. I can’t even walk without getting dizzy. I can’t believe I hit my head that hard!”
I took a deep, shuddering breath, turning pink. Why did I say all of that?
“Do you really think you’re dizzy because you hit your head?” Amethyst Lewis asked quietly and I didn’t meet her eyes. As if on cue, my stomach rumbled loudly. I ignored her last question and decided to continue with my rant – anything to distract her.
“I’m so stressed out, all the time. I’ve got Dad to worry about, Mum is nagging me, and I’ve got so much school work to do. Everyone thinks I have to be perfect but I’m probably going to fail my NEWTs and then I won’t be able to get a job and Mum will hate me and Scorpius will pity me and the girls will stop talking to me again!”
“You’re not a self-centred person, are you Rose?” Lewis crossed her legs and leaned forward after I finished my garbled rant. I raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t think I am, no.”
“Good, because I don’t think you are either. This confuses me. If you’re not self-centred, then why haven’t you noticed that people aren’t nagging you, they’re worried about you.”
“There’s nothing to be worried about,” I said obtusely.
“What do you think of the weather today?” she said suddenly, and I raised an eyebrow.
“It’s okay, I guess,” I said, looking out at the sky. A few wisps of cloud dotted an otherwise pale blue sky. It was icy cold and the lake was frozen still. Students were laughing in the grounds and Hagrid was inspecting his cucumber patch with a sweet smile on his wrinkled face. “Actually,” I finally said, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“It is indeed, Rose. What do you think of Muggles?”
“Crazy old hero.”
“Crucial for sanity.”
“I just vomited a little bit.”
“Dangerous. Wait, what is the point of this?” I said, frowning. Previously, I’d been smiling bemusedly at the strange questions, but now I was suspicious.
“Just a bit of word association, Rose.”
“Well I’m tired,” I muttered, draining my tea – she had entered dangerous ground. “I’d like to go back to bed now please.”
I stood up without looking at her or waiting for a dismissal.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Rose,” she said quietly as I walked away. I threw a glare over my shoulder, stalked through the hospital wing with a vigour I didn’t have and yanked the curtains around my bed.
I needed help, but that didn’t mean I wanted it.
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