Indeed, breakfast was not served the next day. A few of the patients voiced their discontent, but to the bleak relief of Cho and the other nurses, many of them were too tired or in too much pain to notice. When the new shipment of supplies finally arrived, Cho was delighted to discover that it had been sent by the Americans and contained many specialties from their country. Along with the usual amenities, like fresh sheets and new down pillows, the care package contained an array of food: several cans of pork and beans, a strong-scented block of Wisconsin cheese, coffee grounds, roast chicken and beef, mostly stale bread, and strawberry jam. Cho even retrieved a few tubes of toothpaste tucked into the corner of the beleaguered box, as well as a small bottle of whiskey, which Miriam quickly pocketed and locked away in the pantry before any of the Muggle girls – let alone the soldiers – got a look at it.
When eleven o’clock came, Cho prepared a sandwich of roast beef and cheese, along with a small portion of pork and beans, and carried it out to Cedric on a tray. Behind her, several other nurses were doing the same, prepared to surprise the patients.
“What, is it my birthday?” Cedric wrote, though his grin required no explanation.
“We got a care package this morning,” Cho said, placing the tray in front of him. “Here, let me go and get a glass of water for you, so you can take your potions.”
“No,” Cedric wrote, pulling the tray closer to him. “Have lunch with me.”
She hesitated, brushing her dark hair out of her eyes, and looked nervously at him. She had other patients to attend to, and if Miriam saw her, she’d have another pleasant lecture to look forward to at bedtime. Still, his earnest gray eyes drew her in. Cho supposed she could always conduct her daily questioning over a sandwich.
Satisfied, Cedric gently tore the sandwich in half, handing part of it to Cho. Then, wasting no time, he took a bite of his half. The rich flavor of the roast beef and cheese filled his mouth, causing his smile to widen. He had barely gotten his first bite of the sandwich down when he turned to the pork and beans, greedily slurping up two spoonfuls before he remembered that today he had a guest for lunch.
Cho took a small bite of the sandwich, finding it a bit dry but preferable to bread and water. “So,” she said, swallowing carefully. “How are you feeling today, Cedric?”
Cedric paused long enough to scribble on his notepad. “Hungry.” He swallowed a drink of water and some more of the pork and beans. “Did you get my wand?”
“Not yet,” Cho admitted, watching his face fall. “It’s safe, though.”
He sighed, picking up his sandwich again. “Could you please just get it for me?”
“You won’t need it in here. Why do you want it?”
He stared at her. How could she be so oblivious? “I’m bored,” he wrote.
She took another bite of the sandwich and then placed it back on his tray, leaving it for him to finish. “Why don’t you try getting to know some of the other patients?” Then, she stood up, going to see what else was left over to scrounge up for herself.
After he finished eating, Cedric decided to take Cho up on her suggestion. He moved to the edge of the bed, carefully putting both of his feet on the floor. Hands gripping the edge of the mattress, he pushed upward, but this produced only a feeling of weakness and the return of his muscle aches. Cedric frowned, wondering how long he had been laying still, letting his muscles slowly begin the atrophy process. At least one… two… three days
, he thought, counting from his painful awakening in the hospital. He needed to try to get back on his feet.
Steeling himself, he pushed up again, forcing his muscles past the initial impulse of pain and lifting shakily into a standing position. He leaned on the bedside table for a few minutes, surveying his surroundings as he gave his body time to gather its bearings. He looked over at the man Cho had been tending to yesterday, but whatever sedative the elves had given him was apparently still in effect. Elves
, he thought, watching them scurry around the hospital. If the nurses couldn’t give the Muggle patients potions, how could they allow them to see the elves at work? He rubbed his chin, wondering if the Statute of Secrecy had been lowered for the war.
Across the room, Cedric saw the man with the head wound talking to a younger soldier with his right arm in a sling. Cedric pushed himself away from the table, steadying himself and walking slowly over to where the pair sat.
At the sight of him, the two men stopped talking, but they offered him pleasant smiles. The red-haired man extended a hand to Cedric, introducing himself as Andre in a French accent. His companion, Fjodor, sounded like he came from Russia.
They looked at him expectantly for several seconds before Cedric realized that they were waiting for him to state his name as well. He froze, looking around for a pad of paper, and looked back to where his was still sitting on his bedside table. He glanced around quickly to make sure no nurses were watching him and then grabbed Andre’s chart from the end of the bed. He ignored the medical jargon on the front, flipped the top page over to the back, and wrote his name down using the black pen.
“Cedric,” Andre said, nodding.
“Nice to meet you,” Fjodor added in his thick accent.
“So, how did you end up here?” Cedric wrote, sitting at the end of Andre’s bed.
“Bomb,” Andre replied simply, pointing to his head. “Blow up… knock backwards… one week ago.” Cedric gathered that he knew just enough English to communicate with friendly soldiers out on the battlefield, and perhaps to avoid unfriendly ones.
“Bullets for me,” Fjodor said. “My brother vas brought in yesterday. Did not make it.”
Cedric remembered the soldier that the elves rushed into surgery, and he broke eye contact with the men. The group fell silent for a few moments and Cedric was reminded of the rough feeling in his throat. He glanced back over at his bedside table, where his forgotten medicine was still sitting, waiting to be swallowed.
Fjodor spoke up again. “Vy are voo here?”
Cedric tapped the pen against the chart, trying to decide how to explain it. The only things he remembered were a cloud of yellow, hard voices, and burning in his nose and eyes. “Poison,” he wrote down at last. “My throat hurts.” He pointed to the pad.
Andre and Fjodor nodded in understanding. From the other side of the room, however, a blonde nurse approached, taking the chart out of Cedric’s hands. “Mr. Diggory, you shouldn’t touch things that don’t belong to you.” She watched his eyes follow her hands as she took the pen as well, and realization hit her with a sigh. “Hold on.” She walked over to his bed, bringing his pad and pencil over for him. He smiled in thanks, which seemed to soothe her, and she left the men alone once again.
“Do you want to play cards?” Andre asked, pulling a pack out of his bedside table.
Cedric nodded, setting the pad and pencil down on the bed next to him. As his new friends began separating the deck, he felt a sense of gratitude despite his injuries. For one, Cho had yet to ask to have her paper and pencil back, and at this point he wasn’t sure how he would communicate without them. Although he missed his friends and family, he was safe, and perhaps he would get to go home before long.
In addition, he felt immensely glad to have taken Muggle Studies at Hogwarts.
Hello again! If you’ve gotten this far, I hope it’s fair to say that you’re enjoying the story. Please let me know in your review what you think of my pace so far.
Thank you for your faithful support! Chapter five is coming soon!