Cho was awake even before the house elves.
She walked downstairs, trying to keep her feet as quiet as possible, and crossed the small kitchen to the pantry. Withdrawing her wand, she whispered a quick Alohomora
, and the lock clicked open, the door falling slightly ajar. Cho smirked, glad that her plan to rise early had paid off, and stepped inside the small room. She could see guns confiscated from soldiers leaning against the corner, probably intended for use if the abbey was ever attacked, and a short line of shoes with soldiers’ names in them on a low shelf. In the back, past the shelves sparsely stocked with food, she saw a small box. Inside was a variety of possessions: a few tokens of affection from girlfriends back home, a tattered, rolled-up French flag, and—there.
Her nimble fingers closed around the thin piece of wood, and she felt the smooth ash against her skin. Picking it up, she decided that it might contain the tail hair of a unicorn, judging by the fact that it carried a similar weight to her own wand. However, this one was longer, clearly intended for someone with larger hands. She wasn’t certain, but she would not get another chance. Hopefully it was the right one.
Cho took the wand out of the box and closed and locked the pantry door as she left. She held his wand, along with hers, against her chest as she tiptoed back upstairs. Then, slipping them into her suitcase, she laid down just as Miriam finally woke up.
“It’s time for physical therapy.”
Cedric opened his eyes slowly, seeing a blonde nurse standing over his bed. “Physical therapy?” he wrote. “It’s just my throat… no bodily pain…”
“You’ve been laying in bed for an unnaturally long time. We have to get all of you working on a physical therapy program, or your muscles may become too weak.”
He nodded, slowly bringing himself upright. An intake of breath told him that while his throat was still too sore to speak, the pain was at least beginning to subside. He wondered what sort of permanent damage the deadly gas had done; was he fortunate to even be alive? He wished that a real Healer would come to examine him.
Knowing better than to test the nurses, he got to his feet, feeling the soreness leak down into his leg muscles. Across the room, Fjodor and Andre were also begrudgingly moving toward the corridor at the end of the room. Cedric followed them, walking through the tiny kitchen and outside into a fenced-in courtyard. A statue of a saint he did not recognize marked the center, a reminder that this place had once been intended for worship rather than rehabilitation. To his left, Cedric could see a small pool populated by fish. To his right was a station set up with wooden beams. A few patients were jogging around the courtyard perimeter.
“What would you like to try first?” the nurse asked him.
Cedric smiled. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad. He wished he had his broomstick, but any exercise would be nice after having been bedridden for a while. He considered all of the options and handed her the pad of paper. “How much time?”
“You’ll have two hours. You can try them all if you want.”
He nodded, pointing to the pond. Swimming was as close as he could get to flying.
At the edge, Cedric stripped off his shirt and trousers, sticking his feet into the water. He felt grateful that it was summer and the water was still nice and warm. Carefully, he eased into the pond, feeling the startled fish tickling his bare toes. Cedric soaked for a few moments, relishing the comfort sinking into his muscles, and then drifted slowly to the other side of the wide pond. It was open and looked fairly clean, as ponds went, and he saw that he could swim a lap or two back and forth if he wanted. He could also simply lie on his back and take in the lovely weather.
After about an hour in the water, he got out and dried himself off with a towel delivered by an elf. His next step was over by the wooden beams, where he joined Fjodor and Andre and worked on his arm strength. Sadly, he discovered that he would have much work to do if he wanted to return to Quidditch anytime soon.
, he thought. Merlin, do I miss home.
Almost instinctively, Cedric glanced around for the pretty witch who had been attending to him recently. If she couldn’t get his wand, perhaps she could charm a broomstick for him to borrow.
With about half an hour to go and no knowledge of when his next physical therapy session would be, Cedric decided to try out the makeshift track that lined the inside of the courtyard. He jogged slowly, careful not to let too much air into his lungs, and looked longingly past the stone wall to the expanse of open field just yards away. How far was he from Finnigan and Thomas? How far away was Hogwarts now?
Halfway around the track, his charred throat finally got the best of him, and he stopped. Cedric rested for the final few minutes of his time outdoors, and then he obediently filed back inside the abbey with the others and crawled back into bed. However, he had barely tucked into his lunch when a familiar nurse approached.
“How was your exercise time?” Cho asked.
“Good,” Cedric wrote.
“I need to talk to you.”
He looked up at her questioningly, and she sat down on the end of the bed. From her pocket, she withdrew a small glass vial full of a strikingly blue liquid. “Would you be willing to try an experimental treatment?” she asked, keeping her voice low.
“What is it for?” he wrote.
“It’s supposed to be designed specifically for… what’s wrong with you. The gas.”
Cedric raised an eyebrow. “Not another mixture?”
“No,” Cho replied.
“Who else has tried it?”
“No one. It’s one of ours. Someone at St. Mungo’s invented it.”
“How do I know it’s safe?”
“I—you don’t,” Cho admitted, her face falling slightly. “But it could work.”
Cedric furrowed his brow, and then wrote determinedly on his pad of paper. When he showed it to Cho, she frowned. “I paid enough attention in Potions class to know not to take anything that I don’t know much about.”
“Please? Don’t you want to get better?”
“Yeah, I’m worried about getting worse.”
Cho glanced around for a moment. The nurses were slowly retreating to the kitchen, where Miriam was about to have the weekly meeting about the budget, the incoming parcels of aid, and the general status of the patients. She was running out of time.
“Look,” she finally said, reaching toward her waist. Cedric’s eyes seemed to gain new life as he saw her withdraw his old familiar wand, untying it from her own. “If you give this a try, I’ll let you have your wand. I went to great pains to get it, so if you get it confiscated again, that’s your problem.”
He smirked. “I only have to try it once?” he wrote.
“That’s right,” she said. “You have to drink the whole vial, though. Tomorrow we can talk about how you’re feeling and see what you think of it.”
Cedric considered this. There were so many things he had missed about having his wand. Plus, he didn’t want his time in the Muggle world to make his skills too rusty. He nodded, holding out a hand.
Cho quickly slipped the wand into it, which he immediately tucked under the covers, and the vial of blue liquid. She sat for a moment longer, determined to ensure that he actually took it. In the corridor, Miriam poked her head out. “Cho?” she called.
True to his word, Cedric uncorked the vial and downed the potion. The liquid felt like cool water tumbling down his throat, coating every inch of burned tissue. He wondered if tomorrow he would wake up without the distinctive aching sensation.
“Cho?” Miriam called again, beginning to approach.
“Coming!” Cho replied, standing up with a grin and heading toward Miriam.
The older woman clucked her tongue, ushering Cho in to join the other nurses. “What have I told you about getting attached? Flirting is not a cure, young lady!”
Cho smirked, standing in an open space as Miriam began the weekly meeting. Flirting may not cure him—although it was fun—but hopefully Oliver’s potion would.