Cedric sat by the window, watching the early summer air gently batter the trees. It was strange, sitting inside and observing the change of the seasons rather than living it day by day as he stepped out for each Quidditch practice and game. At least he was comfortable, though. The ache in his throat had dulled since his last attempt at using his voice. His stomach hurt a little, though he couldn’t tell whether it was from having to miss breakfast that morning or if it was an effect of Cho’s potion.
Without thinking, he inhaled and let out a sigh. Clarity. Only a few pinpricks of pain.
Cedric turned to see her standing there, as if on cue. He couldn’t help but smile at the way single strands of her hair played about her eyes, floating atop her smooth skin. The corner of her mouth twitched in amusement as she awaited his response.
He looked down, fishing his pad of paper out of his bedside drawer. “Hurts less.”
“Throat still aches… breathing easier.”
“Good,” she said, smiling wider. Oliver will be pleased. “Any side effects?”
He paused. “Stomach… maybe.”
“Think I’m hungry.”
She nodded. “Could I see that?” She gestured to the pad. She flipped to a clean page and jotted some notes in clear script. Patient reports slight stomachache. He says breathing is clearer. She glanced up at Cedric, whose eyes were fluttering closed as he gazed at the warm day outside. Potential drowsiness. Mood seems to be improved. She tore off the sheet, folding it neatly and tucking it inside her uniform.
“Any food?” he wrote, returning to the well-used first page.
“I’ll see if we have some bread,” Cho replied. Cedric was happy to note the easygoing tone of her voice, as she seemed to have shed some of her initial shyness. Perhaps giving the potion a try had resulted in more than one positive change. “I need to change your bandages, though.”
He nodded, easing himself back into his bed and laying down slowly. She gently moved the sheets back, cleaning the few scrapes that had not yet fully healed and noting the fading color of his bruises. As she leaned forward to replace the bandage over a cut on his collarbone, he boldly moved closer and placed a kiss on her cheek.
Cho blushed heavily, shocked at the contrast between the warmth rising beneath her skin and the cool, soft touch of his lips. She turned her head to the side, accidentally brushing those lips with hers as she tried to flee from him. She backed away from the shoddily placed bandage, too consumed with panic at the thought of Miriam witnessing open flirting and imperfect work in one terrible fell swoop.
“I’m sorry,” he scribbled, looking up at her with wide eyes.
“I’ll see about the bread,” she stammered, unable to shed her blush even as she left.
Fortunately, Cedric did not have long to wallow in his mistake with the pretty nurse. She did not return with bread, but Miriam appeared just before lunchtime, with two familiar faces in tow. “Mr. Diggory, is it? You have visitors, dear.”
Seamus Finnigan, one of his closest friends from his time in the service, approached. He had his wand by his side and was discreetly propelling along Dean Thomas, a skinny black boy who sat in a rickety-looking wooden chair. The legs of the chair levitated a few inches off the ground. Cedric’s eyes widened as he watched them approach, and he stole a glance about the room to see if any of the Muggles had observed the strange feat. However, most of the other men were milling about, some locked in conversation, some smoking by open windows, and others playing cards. By some miracle, none of them seemed to have noticed the wizards’ entrance.
“It’s wonderful to see you, mate,” Seamus said in a thick accent.
Cedric fished for his pad, having almost forgotten it in the face of such a pleasant surprise. “You, too,” he wrote, smiling brightly. “You look good, both of you.”
“You as well,” Dean piped up.
Cedric looked at him, tearing his eyes away from the boy’s glowing smile and letting them fall back toward the floor. Dean’s left foot was tightly wrapped in bandages, and it took Cedric a few moments to realize that his right foot was missing entirely. He raised his questioning glance from Dean’s ankles and met a slightly sadder face.
“It was trench life,” he replied quietly. “Feet got wet… never got better.”
“I’m sorry, mate,” Cedric wrote.
“S’alright,” Seamus cut in. “Look at this spell the Weasleys taught me! I imagine pretty soon the Muggles will want to learn it, too, or at least make something like it. But look, I can just push him along and his trench foot doesn’t get in the way.” He did a slow circle with Dean just to show off, and Cedric couldn’t help but smile slightly. He remembered the Weasleys, red-haired twins from school who seemed to have a solution for everything. Their terrible exam scores hadn’t stopped their creativity.
“Besides, they saved the other one. Just can’t use it much,” Dean added.
Cedric glanced up at the boy pushing Dean’s floating chair. “How are you, Seamus?”
“Oh, fine, aside from having to take care of this bloke,” Seamus joked.
Cedric smiled. At least one of his friends had gotten away from the war unscathed. Wait—there was someone missing. Perhaps he was in a different hospital, or—
Seamus’s face fell.
Dean sighed. “We were hoping you wouldn’t ask.” He carefully met Cedric’s eyes. “He was chasing after a couple of deserters… you know Neville, all about patriotism and staying strong… and he made the mistake of turning his back to a mortar shell.”
Cedric bit his lip. “I’m sorry to—” he began writing.
Suddenly, there was a crash from the other side of the room. He looked over to see a thin blonde nurse picking up food that had fallen off a tray. She withdrew a wand carefully, ignoring the hesitant looks from nearby elves, and pointed it at the water that had spilled out from the dropped pitcher. Cho rushed in, stopping at her side and concealing the wand quickly. “Hannah, don’t let them see,” he heard her whisper. Miriam was already coming over, yelling at them about wasted supplies.
“Seamus, you okay?” Dean’s voice came to his ears, and he returned his eyes to the pair in front of him. Seamus was picking himself up off the floor, having apparently jumped and lost his balance. Dean was looking at him with concern as he dusted himself off. Seamus murmured that he was fine, but his eyes remained glued to the tray even as the nurses carried it off to the kitchen, as if it were a deadly weapon.
“Seamus?” Cedric wrote, showing him the pad.
Finally, the other boy shook his head, placing his trembling hands on Dean’s chair. “Well, we’d best get going, let you get some rest,” he said quickly to Cedric.
“Right,” Cedric wrote. “Well, good to see you both. I’m sorry about Longbottom.”
“Yeah,” Dean said. “When do you get out?”
Cedric thought for a moment. “Not sure. Throat still hurts. Lungs are better.”
“Good,” Seamus said, having apparently recovered. “See you around, then.”
“See you,” Cedric wrote, watching them go as soon as they’d read it. He looked over toward the kitchen, but Cho seemed to still be busy with cleanup, and it wasn’t likely that she was interested in seeing him right now, anyway. So he turned over, staring at the pristine floor and wondering how the war could still haunt him once he left it.
Thanks for coming by for another chapter of this little story!
I hope you are enjoying the blending of magic and Muggle medicine, the mention of actual war-related ailments from this period, and the interaction between some of our familiar characters from canon. Please consider taking a moment to let me know your thoughts in the box below.
One important note—the idea of the “wizarding wheelchair,” the charmed floating chair that the Weasleys designed for Dean, was directly inspired by a similar invention in CambAngst’s Harry Potter and the Conspiracy of Blood. I offer my thanks to Dan for giving me permission to borrow the concept here.