Chapter 8 : The Hospital Wing
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He is stroking the head of the great snake, thinking, for once without rage, without anger. He is remembering a time long ago, when he was a boy, plumbing the greatest secrets of Hogwarts. He remembers another snake, one that only he spoke to, that obeyed his every command and was as bloodthirsty as he. He remembers the dead Mudblood, his joy at finally, finally eradicating some scum from the earth. Now, he is closer to that dream than his boy-self could have ever dreamed of. Ultimate authority is at his fingertips.
He abandons his memories as a hooded figure enters the great library. Nagini hisses quietly, and he quells her with his thoughts. Precious Nagini, an empress among reptiles.
“Severus,” the high, cold voice says, and the servant bows deeply. “Do you bring me news?”
“My lord, I have come as quickly as I was able. Dumbledore is restless these days. He travels frequently, and has confessed to me that he is searching for something related… to the prophecy.”
Slimy, sly, clever Severus. What a crucial servant he is. Nagini coils around his shoulders as he runs his fingers around his wand carefully.
“And the Malfoy boy? How does that poor little child find his task?”
Snape looks amused as well: a smirk twitches across his sallow face.
“He is hard at work, my lord. I have offered him my services, yet-“
“No!” The voice is angry now. Severus bows his head submissively. “Dear Draco has his task, to finish or to fail alone… Indeed, it is a test, and the consequences for failure would be very dire indeed…”
Snape’s expression betrays nothing as he nods once. Nagini tightens around her Master’s shoulders in anticipation of the Malfoy boy’s failure, her instinctive excitement for penance thrilling.
“What of the others – the Nott boys, the Averys, the Goyles? Will we make a new generation of warriors yet?”
Snape answers carefully. “They are very young, my Lord, and naïve in the ways of the world. The Goyles in particular are slow-minded and consumed only with weak cruelty. The Notts as well, they are more occupied with Quidditch than anything else.”
Quidditch, the Dark Lord thinks with bated amusement. What a thought.
“You must watch and train them carefully, Severus. I need young blood for my cause, young eager blood. This is your task: I entrust the young to you.”
Snape nods again. The Dark Lord prods carefully with his mind towards his servant’s: seeing nothing out of the ordinary, his mind retreats approvingly. Severus is loyal and emotionless, as ever. He is a great master of the Dark Arts: he has worked his way from a slimy boy to the coldest, the strongest, the greatest of Death Eaters. Severus, he knows, can be trusted completely.
“And what of Yaxley’s daughters?”
“They are young, but show great promise in spell-casting. They guard their emotions and lie low. They are much like their father, but will surely not be ready for… service… for a few years.”
The Dark Lord bares his teeth approvingly.
“Very well. Thank you, Severus. You may depart now.”
Snape gives a low bow and backs out of the chamber. That night, he chases the red-haired girl through his dreams. Her laughter is as pure and as light as their childhood. He dreams of a cold, frozen lake, cracking at last, and great waves swallowing them.
I wake up to bright sunlight and an awful pain. Someone is holding my hand softly, almost absently. I open my eyes and let the colorful shapes arrange themselves into features: a furniture, windows, light, a figure.
As the memories flood back I am suddenly very awake. Not to mention very angry.
“Did Griz hit that Bludger? Tell me, straight. Am I alive? How long have I been out?” A horrifying thought hits me. “Who got Seeker?”
The hand holding mine belongs to Amaris.
“Hey,” she says softly, “I’m so glad you’re awake. Its Saturday, Tor, its only the morning, you’ve had a concussion so Madame Pomfrey gave you a Sleeping Potion to keep you from agitating yourself. So please, keep calm and still, the others will want to see you, but she won’t let them in if you’re upset.”
I feel the farthest thing from peaceful. Currently, I want to hex Griz to the moon and back.
“It was cheap, dirty play,” I snarl. “Who knew she could even aim that well?”
Amaris looks concerned.
“Griz said she wasn’t aiming for your head and everyone believes her. I mean, why would she try to sabotage you, right? Other than just being a prat-”
“Is she off the team?”
“Am I on the team?”
“Er, no. Sorry. Zelda got picked.”
“Tor, please relax,” Amaris says worriedly, stroking my hand in what is clearly supposed to be a soothing motion.
“You relax,” I retort. “I’m going to kill her. We need to get her back.”
Amaris breaks into a smile. “Well, I do have an idea…” She tells me her plan. It is a pretty good plan.
The hospital wing is boring at the best of times, and it gobbles up my weekend. Though Amaris, Pyxis, Phin, Taurus, and Theo take it in turns to entertain me and do our schoolwork together, the two days stretch into an exhausting monotony. A few other patients come and go, and there’s a curtained bed at the other end of the room, although I haven’t yet seen the person behind the curtain.
Finally, Sunday evening Madam Pomfrey lets me get up to have a quick shower. Despite my constant insistence that I feel fine, she refuses to release me. From the window I can just see the Quidditch pitch, and work myself up when I realize the team practicing is wearing green robes.
Feeling gutted, I lean back on my bed and try to immerse myself in reading about Alric the Awful’s pursuit of the giant massacre.
When the head of the Albanian giants came to the Cave Consults, it was an unusual example of giant solidarity…
The words seem to drip off the page.
“Bollocks!” I say out loud, tossing A History of Magic on the floor. “Bollocks and pants!” It feels good to shout, even if nobody is there to listen.
“Having fun there?” A voice says behind me. I roll over and gasp. Its him.
“What are you doing here?” I stutter.
“Visiting the patient of course,” Terry Boot says, pulling up a chair and spinning himself into it. I pull myself into a sitting position and cross my legs on top of the blanket, hoping I look prim and put together. Ha.
“I heard about your nasty fall. Concussion, yeah? That’s rough. I’m particularly prone to them, which is part of why I stay away from sports like Quidditch.” He grins wryly. “One of many reasons, quickly followed by clumsiness.”
“Yeah, I was sabotaged,” I say, lifting my eyebrows dramatically. “This girl in my year – Griz – hit a Bludger at me because she didn’t want me on the team.”
“Great name,” he comments, throwing his legs up onto the bed and reclining a little. “Got any plans for revenge?”
I grin and tell him the plan. He agrees that it is a pretty good plan.
“That’s Goyle’s younger sister, right? Nasty piece of work, that Goyle. We don’t have many classes together since he failed most of his OWLs. Word about is that his father’s a Death Eater, did you know that?”
With a sinking feeling, I shrug non-commitedly. “I’m sure its possible. They were supporters of You-Know-Who last time.”
Its not common knowledge that my father is a Death Eater. He keeps himself undercover as a spy, however, people expect Slytherins to be sympathetic towards pureblood sovereignty. However, an impulse inside me tells me not to tell Boot any of this. Maybe I’m currently fraternizing with the enemy, but at Hogwarts, aren’t I surrounded by enemies at all times anyway? My father works at the Ministry and befriends anyone who could be of use to him. Why shouldn’t I do the same? A cold voice asks.
The coming war is something that everybody and nobody is talking about. Whispered conversations between close friends in the dormitories. Meetings between Slytherins in the Room of Requirement, the only place that we won’t be overheard. I’m sure the other side is stirring as well. Rumor has it that Harry Potter is constantly meeting with Dumbledore, probably learning powerful defensive magic destined to derail my father’s comrades. But in the corridors, in classes, nobody speaks of it. We may play pranks on the other houses, some with more malicious intentions than others, but under Dumbledore’s eye no significant solidarity can be shown by Slytherins.
I change the conversation to less dangerous topics. While I’m sure that Boot’s a pure blood and internally involved with our cause, I know better than to approach the delicate topic. Plus, that might ruin the mood.
“Terry Boot,” I say slowly, trying the name on for size. It rolls off my tongue crisply.
“Short for Terrance,” he laughs, “but nobody calls me that unless they have an inherent death wish.”
“Sympathies, friend. Nobody- not even my parents- are allowed to call me by my full name except for situations of dire danger.”
He smirks playfully. “And what qualifies as dire danger?”
“That’s a good question. Near death, I suppose. A Hippogriff with a mean streak approaching me from behind. If I was about to walk right off the Astronomy Tower or something. Failing a class would probably qualify.”
“What are your parents like?” He asks, leaning forward intently. His blue eyes are fixed on me, as if I’m a rare specimen or valuable discovery, not a damp-haired girl with an ugly bruise on the back of her head clad in rather unattractive sweatpants.
“Well, my mother is very… sharp. She’s precise. She’s aware of everything that happens and even if you don’t think she’s watching, she is. She can be a little over-bearing, a little involved, but she means well.” He nods wisely. “She really does want the best for us – for my sister and I.”
“Yeah- the other Greengrass.” Boot says. “She’s in my year. Are you two close?”
“We used to be, when we were younger and could kind of scuffle and fight and make up. Now its tough. We’re pretty competitive with each other.” I jealously hope when he said “other Greengrass” he didn’t mean “hotter Greengrass.”
“She’s a cold fish, that one,” Boot snorts, then recoils quickly. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult your sister. I mean, I don’t know her all that well. I had to practice dueling with her once in my second year-she whupped my ass.”
I laugh. “That doesn’t surprise me.”
He pretends to be offended. “Do you mean to say that I’m an easy target? I’ll have you know, miss, that since that humiliation at the hands of your sister I have become an expert dueller. I have mastered jinxes that the likes of you have never dreamed of. I have cast spells which would make your head spin backwards. I have developed-”
“I get it!” I laugh, grabbing his flailing wrists and settling them. I release him, but reluctantly. His skin is pleasantly warm.
He winks at me. “So when are you going to challenge me for a duel? Let me win back some of my manhood.”
“We could fight to win ultimate rights to that secret room,” I add.
“Sounds like a plan,” he says, narrowing his eyes playfully. “Now, what about your father?”
Even just thinking about my father makes me smile. I miss him – I guess I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl.
“It sounds cheesy,” I tell him, “but my dad is pretty much my hero. We have a lot in common- we even look alike, or so I’ve been told. Daphne has always been Mum’s favorite, but during the summer months Father and I are always inseparable. He’s taught me a lot about everything-magic, life, the future. I don’t know,” I finish lamely, “but I want to be just like him someday.”
“He sounds like a great guy,” Boot says, grinning, but not in a sarcastic way. “I’m sure we’d get along like a house on fire.”
Unsure how to interpret this, I change the subject quickly.
“How did you even find out I was in the hospital wing?” I ask. “I mean, I know I’m popular and pretty and amazing, but-”
“And modest,” Boot interrupts.
“Spoken like a true Slytherin,” he says, but plows on before I can be offended or honoured. “Actually, I was visiting a guy from my house who’s been in here for a few days.”
He motions with his hand towards the closed-off bed at the end of the hospital wing.
“I saw that you were in here too, but you had swarms of visitors every time I stopped by. I guess I just got lucky this time.”
I’m happy, I’m wonderfully happy.
“What happened to him? Your friend I mean.” I gesture to the other occupied bed.
“Oh, some idiotic kids cursed him and it backfired badly. His ears started singing obscenities, but it won’t stop and his ears keep nearly falling off. Its quite nasty, really, but Madame Pomfrey brought in a specialist from St. Mungo’s so poor Gary’s finally on the mend.”
As he speaks I feel my face go pale and my body a bit numb. I don’t know if he knows or not, but I’m pretty sure the kids who cursed Gary were my friends.
“That’s good he’s getting better,” I say, my mouth feeling dry.
“Yeah, well, we Ravenclaws are tough,” Boot says, looking around him a bit distractedly. “Listen, I should probably go in and say hi, tell him his ears look great and not at all like Frankenstein’s monster, that sort of thing.” He stands up and does a strange thing where he kind of ruffles my hair. I’m not even annoyed the way I am when the Nott boys do it.
“Tell him I hope he’s feeling better,” I say, still dry and weak-feeling. “I should probably, uh, have a nap or something.”
“Later, kid,” Boot says, and as he leaves I close the bed curtains around myself.
A/N: I don't own Frankenstein, Mary Shelley did so credit to her!!! Thanks for reading!!! I don’t know what to say to convince people to review, but… if you’re reading this… PLEASE DO!!!! :)
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