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Welcome to Blunderland by peppersweet
Chapter 23 : { 22 }
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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I could’ve punched him in the face for not telling me earlier. Instead, I threw a pillow at him, which was the next best thing I could do without messing up my cuts. Unluckily, Albus ducked, and so the pillow went whizzing through the curtains and probably ended up on the other side of the ward.


‘What was that for?’ he yelped.


‘He’s really alive? You’re not lying?’


‘Why the hell would I lie about that?’


I shot upright and threw my arms around him, forgetting how painful the scars were. It must have hurt him too, because the two of us broke apart pretty hastily.


‘He’s alive,’ I repeated, feeling a bit hysterical. ‘He…oh, god…but I killed him!’


Albus gave me a look of sheer horror. ‘What?’


‘He gave me his inhaler and…and.’


‘Oh, no,’ Albus slumped back in his seat, smiling weakly. ‘No, not that, not that at all – the cold room, Flora. It was well below freezing. It's a...firing range, or something. Where they test out how spells perform under different conditions. And the cold, well, it just…makes you shut down.’


I felt a bit of a chill on me when he said that. I was on the verge of asking him to shut the window when I realised it was just my imagination.


‘Hypothermia,’ I said.


‘Something like that.’


‘Well…and he’s alright now?’


Albus grimaced. ‘Ehh…if you count being electric as alright, then I guess he’s alright, but…yeah. No. Sort of. He’s not the same.’


The relief I’d felt at knowing he wasn’t as dead as I’d thought faded a bit. ‘Not the same,’ I echoed.


‘Not really,’ he said.


Then other pressing issues occurred to me. ‘What about his dad? Did they find his dad?’


‘I…well, actually,’ he rose from his chair. ‘My dad wondered if he could have a word with you. He’s waiting outside. Just wanted me to go in first and…see how you were.’


‘Oh, okay,’ I said, sitting up straighter and tucking my hair back behind my ears. On the left side, it stubbornly fell back into place again. Albus ducked out of the curtains and reappeared a moment later with his father in tow. I’d never really appreciated the similarities between them before, but it was obvious now. Albus was taking on the grim, stoic look that his father had.


Mr Potter took the chair and I drew my feet up so Albus could perch on the end of the bed. The two of them exchanged glances, and then Mr Potter sighed, removed his glasses, and pinched the bridge of his nose.


‘Where to start?’ he said wearily.


‘Is Scorpius’ dad – Mr Malfoy, I mean – is he alright?’ I asked.


Mr Potter smiled ruefully. ‘Yes, in a way. I’ll get onto that.’


‘Oh.’


‘As you…well, not even as you know. You do know. There’s been a lot of…anti-muggle sentiment lately, in the press and – well, even in the Ministry. Turns out it was concentrated in the Department of Mysteries. Call themselves a terror group. Apparently we’ve only scratched the surface. I know,’ he said patiently, when my mouth inadvertently dropped open. ‘The Minister wouldn’t believe it at first.’


‘We blundered right into their base,’ Albus cut in.


‘And Scorpius’ father was with them.’


Something inside me seemed to harden. ‘Does he know?’


‘It’s not like that-’ Albus started, but his dad interrupted.


‘He wasn’t with them. He was their hostage. They were trying to…extract old Death Eater methods. Curses they used, bits of old dark magic, the like. That’s why they wanted his son, why they chased you and Scorpius halfway across the Department – they wanted him as ransom. We found, ah, we found a photograph-’


‘What you told me about,’ Albus nodded to me. ‘When the Slytherins took a photo of him. It's…Fletcher, his parents are in this group.’


The three of us sat in silence for a bit. For some reason, I thought I felt sorry for Fletcher. He was a year above me and technically an adult in the magical world, but a kid all the same. It was all his parents’ doing, evidently, instructing him from afar. Just like Scorpius had only suffered because of who his dad was, and I’d only been picked on because of my background. We were living with the legacy of the second war, just as we seemed on the verge of falling into another.


‘So what happened?’


Mr Potter looked over at Albus, who shook his head. ‘You tell it,’ he said.


‘Well, we always suspected something. I have to say we didn’t expect it to be in the bloody Ministry, but I suppose they were sticking to the old principle of hiding in plain sight.’


‘Right under your nose all along,’ Albus said.


‘Yes, thank you, Albus. At first, though, we thought it was just a rogue. Someone working alone. We had no idea it was as bad as that…never could have appreciated…anyway, as you probably know, the alarm was raised. And…’


‘I told her about Scorpius,’ Albus muttered.


Mr Potter turned back to me and raised his eyebrows. ‘Well, yes. We brought him back from the dead.’


‘Can I see him?’


‘Not quite yet. Give it a few days. I expect they’ll want to keep you rested a bit longer. Take your time, Flora, you’ve been through a lot. I’ve got to get back to work now, but some more of us from the department will be round to see you soon. Got to get statements written up and such,’ Mr Potter said, rising from his chair.


‘The curse they used on you…it was never meant to be taught to anyone,’ he said, and there was an odd bitterness in his voice that hadn’t been there before. ‘It was a cruel invention of…well, it doesn’t matter, but the Death Eaters shouldn’t have got hold of it and these gits shouldn’t have either.’


Then he raised a hand and swept back a length of greying hair from his forehead, exposing a fading scar the precise shape of a lightning bolt.


‘Don’t be afraid of scars,’ he said, smiled, and then took his leave.


Albus stood and nodded to me. ‘I’ll be back soon,’ he said, before following his father.


*



No matter how much I wanted to see Scorpius, the Healers absolutely forbade me from any sort of exercise beyond loo breaks and the odd stroll around the three sides of my bed. I had too many wounds, they said, that were prone to re-opening, and they didn’t want to chance me moving about too much.


They were bloody weird wounds too. Took an age to heal, no matter what salves and bandages the Healers put on them. And they kept on weeping, which I guess was the curse’s work. Albus came to visit again once they’d taken the bandages off his hand. The cut went right across his palm and wouldn’t close up. It put paid to his stint as Seeker for the Gryffindors, he said, because there was no way he could keep hold of a broom with a hand that could barely even grip a fork. He was definitely in much lower spirits. He said he almost didn’t want to go back to school. In his words, he wanted to get out there and fight the bastards right away.


But there were nice things about the confinement, though. Not brilliant things, but it wasn’t all bad. The food reminded me of the sort of stuff you got at Hogwarts, and I had plenty of time to work through my reading pile, which I’d started compiling over two years ago. Albus was allowed to come and see me most days. Sometimes he brought board games and stuff so we’d have something to do when we ran out of chat. And sometimes we just sat in silence, reading, wiling away the time.


I’d been there for a fortnight when Fauna turned up. Her visit was totally out the blue, and it seemed she hadn’t expected it either. Our Head of House had authorised the Floo transfer at the last minute, and she came bounding up to the ward with her lazy pink tracksuit bottoms still on like she hadn’t had time to change.


It was like the past few months had never happened. She dropped into the chair next to me, hair falling out of her top knot all over the place.


‘Did you want me to bring you the homework?’ she said, and we fell about laughing. I had to be careful not to smile too wide in case the cut on my cheek opened up again.


‘What have I missed?’ I asked.


‘Ooh,’ she rubbed her hands together. ‘You don’t want to know. It’s all very boring. We’re just revising for mock exams right now. What happened to you?’


‘Eh…’ I pointed at the scars.


She giggled behind an ink-stained hand. ‘Everyone’s talking about you. It was in the papers. Professor Bones did a special talk with us in the common room, it was sooo serious, it was like you’d all died.’


‘Yeah, well…did you hear about Scorpius?’


Her face fell. ‘I…yeah. I asked if they’d let me see him, but…no.’


‘Apparently he can give people electric shocks.’


She smiled weakly. ‘Sounds like a lame superpower.’


‘Albus got away with a cut on his hand. But he says he can’t play Quidditch anymore.’


All her initial chirpiness had gone. ‘That’s awful,’ she said.


‘Yeah,’ I gave her a thumbs up. ‘Fun times for us.’


‘Oh! In better news,’ her face lit up momentarily. ‘The Welcome Witch asked me to give you this.’


She took an envelope from the pocket of her hoody and passed it over. My name had been printed on the front in careful block capitals. I slit it open and took out the card inside; it was a typical thing from a shop, with delicate flowers on the front in pastelly colours.


The printed message was pretty standard: get well soon. But below it, someone with flamboyantly loopy handwriting had written to the bravest girl on the planet, love from us. And the signatures were a little bit hard to read, but if you looked hard, you could make out the names Myron, Struan, Faris, Maeve, and Jarvis.


‘It’s them,’ I whispered, and my fingertips stroked the signatures lovingly. ‘How did they now?’


Fauna tugged the card from my hands. ‘Who?’


‘The Weird Sisters,’ I breathed, and all of a sudden she started to giggle again.


‘Flora, this will be worth, like, mega amounts of money when you’re older.’


*



A full month had gone by before they were okay with me actually being around and about in the daytime, although they insisted it’d still be another week or two before I could be out in the fresh air again. The three of us – me, Albus and Scorpius – were all on the fourth floor, and I wasn’t to go anywhere but there and the fifth, where there was a tearoom my mum sometimes met me in.


It was odd getting my legs to work properly again after being confined to a bed for that long. I’d never really had much of a chance to use up energy, so I hadn’t really been eating as much. I definitely looked a bit thinner when I had a chance to look in a mirror on loo breaks. I daydreamed about Hogwarts feasts a lot but never felt hungry enough to eat much beyond soup and grapes.


I’d actually started to wonder if everyone was playing some massive trick on me. Maybe they were deluding me that Scorpius was still alive just to make sure I didn’t have a complete breakdown or something. I never got to see him. Apparently they were doing all sorts of tests with him. I started to privately think of him as Scorpius: The Wonder Boy, the Miracle Man, Back from the Dead, Scorpius the Zombie, etcetera etcetera, but then I reminded myself that surviving death is no mean feat and I ought to take it all a bit more seriously.


I didn’t go and visit him the first few days I was allowed to wander about. I think I was scared of what he might be like. Scared to acknowledge what we’d been through. I had an irrational fear of going in and finding out he actually was a zombie. An irrational fear of casually going to greet him, only for him to start chewing on my brains or something.


Then there was a rainy Thursday when I sat in bed reading for a full three hours before I thought screw it, threw back the covers, and left the ward. The Healers were used to people like me wandering about in their pyjamas and slippers, and a few of them nodded when I went past. It was the first week that the cursed wounds had all healed.


Albus had told me where the ward was and it wasn’t exactly difficult to find, but I took a few moments to myself outside the door before I knocked and asked the Healer on duty if I could visit. She was totally fine with it and had apparently heard all about me, so let me in quicker than expected. I hung by the door for a moment or two, looking around. Biding my time.


It was a nicer ward than mine, but more long-term. The Healer gently touched my arm and pointed me towards the end of the room, where a bed was set near a window. It felt like all of my internal organs had somersaulted at once and crash-landed.


I was going to visit a real-life zombie.


I tried to act casual. Paced myself, walking carefully in my inappropriately fluffy purple slippers. I tucked my hair behind my ears, forgetting that the curse had lopped half of it off at the left.


Scorpius was cross-legged atop the sheets, engrossed in a book. He looked up when I was about a metre away. Smiled, quite politely. He’d definitely gone paler. His skin was only a touch darker than the white plaster cast around his wrist. Only a little bit darker…but only a lot greyer. I thought he'd been monochromatic before, but now he looked like he'd been drained entirely of blood.


‘Hello,’ I said, taking the chair next to his bed.


‘Hi,’ he said.


‘So…how are you?’


He raised an eyebrow at me. ‘Well…I broke my wrist. And I died. That’s not such a big deal, though.’


I had to fight hard not to giggle, half out of sheer nerves, half because the whole situation was kind of absurd. But in trying to suppress that giggle, I ended up making a weird sound through my clamped lips that sounded a bit like fpptrrpptpfppppt.


‘And you?’ he said, not quite meeting my eye. I figured he was taking in the scars.


‘I’m going to tell everyone back home I was in a car accident,’ I said. ‘But they’re cursed, you know.’


‘Well, I was there,’ he said. ‘For…some of it.’


‘I thought I’d killed you,’ I blurted out. ‘I had your inhaler.’


‘I thought you were dead. You…um, I don’t think you want to know how much blood…you know, came out. Practically had to wade through it.’


‘Oh. Yuck. I meant to ask…how much do you remember?’


‘Dunno,’ he shrugged. ‘Just waking up in that cold room. Like when you have a dream about running, then you fall, then you wake up with a jump. I sat up so quickly I nearly gave one of the Aurors a concussion.’


‘Anything before that?’


‘Dunno,’ he shrugged again, nonchalantly, only a shadow had crossed his face. ‘Just running about.’


‘And have you seen your dad?’


He did this weak smile that showed off how colourless his lips had got. ‘Yeah. He’s alright. He actually…well, it’s kind of funny. He was there when they brought me back – as soon as the Aurors got there he got free and went to fight with them. The newspapers made a big deal of it, you know. My dad fighting next to Harry Potter. I reckon…I dunno, this is just a theory,’ he said, staring down at the book in his hands. ‘It was meant to happen. Like Potter – well, everyone on that side, I guess – had his hand out to help dad up for years. And he only let it help him up when we got involved.’


‘Is he alright?’


‘Back at work,’ Scorpius laughed, but it sounded hollow. ‘In Law Enforcement now, though. He didn’t want to go back to the Department of Mysteries. Can’t think why…’


He folded down the corner of the page he was on, shut the book, and placed it on his bedside cabinet. I got the feeling there were bits of the story he didn’t want to tell. A part of me wanted to ask what dying was like more than anything, but I decided I’d let it slide.


‘I got a letter from The Weird Sisters, by the way,’ I said.


‘Really? Wow. Yeah, Fauna said - she came by the other day, did she see you too?’


‘Yeah. She’s been a few times.’


‘Apparently school’s gone nuts since this happened. Fletcher’s been expelled.’


‘Poor kid,’ I said, without really thinking. Scorpius gave me a look of the utmost disbelief. ‘I mean…it’s not his fault. His parents made him that way. Made him fight their fight.’


Scorpius fell silent for a bit before saying ‘Yeah…I get what you mean.’


Then he changed the subject at once, thrusting his arm towards me. ‘Feel how cold I am,’ he said.


I gripped it like we were shaking hands. It was like gripping stone.


‘I thought you gave people electric shocks,’ I said.


He smiled. ‘Only when my heart rate goes up. I know, it’s freakish.’


‘Why does that happen?’


Scorpius laughed again, but he looked a bit sad this time. ‘I don’t know. Spell residue, they think. But, you know, you don’t get good things for free. I guess there’s a price to pay if you want a second shot at life.’


He let go of my hand and I stuck it in my pocket, trying to make it warm again.


‘Your scars don’t look as bad as Albus made out,’ he said.


‘I’ll grow into them.’


We lapsed into silence once more.


‘He said you’d changed,’ I ventured. ‘But I think you’re mostly the same.’


‘Except I’m dead.’


‘Ignoring that, though…’


He laughed, properly this time. ‘I don’t feel any different. Not at all.’



a/n: phew. That was exhausting. For writing these last few chapters I actually did the unthinkable and used my 'sad classical music and film themes' playlist for inspiration as opposed to my regular blunderland one. It was a tough couple of days' writing, I tell you.
Only one chapter left to go! Thank you for reading, please don't murder me, and also thank you to Gina for the real 'we killed Scorpius' cake (and my honourary ‘we killed scorpius’ bakewell tart in acknowledgement of the many miles between us). Disclaimer: our two dead Scorpii are totally unrelated. Or, you know, maybe they are. Muahahahaa.


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