Chapter 1 : Transylvanian Measles.
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"Are you sure you're comfortable doing this?" Hermione asked, looking harrassed.
"Yes, of course," Victoire replied. "I'd Transylvanian measles when I was six, so it's not like I can catch them."
"And of course, it's only a mild illness. If it were anything serious, I wouldn't dream of landing you with this. I wouldn't anyway, but we were really stuck. Ron's still working on that big investigation and I really should try and make this meeting with Kingsley. He'd understand if I had to reschedule - he's got kids of his own - but it'd be really difficult for him. He's travelling to Argentina next week apart from anything else."
"Don't worry about it, Aunt Hermione. We'll be fine."
Inwardly though, she felt far from certain about that. What did she know about caring for an ill child, after all?
Thankfully, Aunt Hermione was as organised as ever.
"I've made a list of what you need to know, but I'll just go through it with you now in case you want to ask anything."
Victoire let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks."
"The main thing he needs is rest. Now he doesn't have to stay in bed or anything; just try and ensure he doesn't do anything too strenuous. Easier said than done with Hugo, I know. The poor child is so bored."
"And he should have plenty of fluids. There's pumpkin juice and orange juice in the fridge. There's Butterbeer too, but I'd prefer he didn't have that, unless you really can't get anything else into him."
"If he complains of feeling itchy, you can rub him with this salve and if he's feeling particularly unwell, give him some Pepper Up potion. It won't cure Transylvanian measles of course, but it relieves some of the cold-like symptoms like the sore throat and headache." She smiled reassuringly at Victoire. "He'll be fine, I'm sure. And of course, Rose will be here to help you."
Victoire felt herself relax a little. Although she was only ten, Rose was very mature for her age and would certainly be a big help if she was needed. Hugo'd been ill for two days now. Rose was bound to know everything he needed.
"Rose is always a great help."
"Thank you so much, Victoire. I wouldn't normally ask you to do this. Everything has just come at once - the attack on that Muggle, the last push to get this legislation finalised. Hugo couldn't have become ill at a worse time. I will try and get home a little early if I can though. I can probably reschedule that meeting with Richards."
"It's all right." She spoke with more confidence than she really felt. "I'm sure I can manage."
Apart from her continued anxiety, the next couple of hours couldn't have been easier. Both children were fast asleep and it was almost eleven before she heard a sound out of either of them.
"Mummy, Mummy," Hugo called.
She hurried up the stairs.
"Mummy's gone to work, honey," she said, sitting down on the bed beside him. "She says she'll try and be back a bit earlier than usual though."
"I feel so itchy," he mumbled.
"I'll get you the salve now." Her heart jumped. She hadn't expected to have to use it so early.
Rose was just coming out of her bedroom, as she headed down to get it.
"So, you're finally out of bed, sleepyhead," Victoire teased her.
"Well, I could hardly sleep with him yelling like that, could I?" Rose said grumpily.
"He's not feeling well, Rose. You can't blame him for wanting your mum."
"Yeah, whatever." She stomped off to the kitchen.
Victoire got the salve and returned to try and ease Hugo's discomfort.
He felt warm, she realised as she applied it to the purple spots covering his face arms, legs and torso. She was sure he still had a fever.
"Do you feel like getting up, honey?" she asked gently. "You don't have to if you don't want."
"Yeah, I guess." He pulled himself somewhat reluctantly into a sitting position and blinked tiredly.
"Take your time."
He clambered out of bed and headed for the stairs, still dressed in his pyjamas.
Victoire followed him.
"Do you want some breakfast, honey?"
"Yeah." For the first time that morning, he sounded enthusiastic, which relieved some of herr anxiety. He couldn't be too ill if he was feeling hungry. "Can I have scrambled eggs?" he added.
"I guess so."
She just hoped she knew how to make them. She didn't exactly do much cooking in her everyday life.
To her relief, however, they looked reasonably edible and she placed them in from of him, accompanied by a large glass of orange juice.
"Drink this. Your mum says you should drink plenty."
"All right." He did as he was told.
Keeping him occupied was as difficult as Hermione had indicated. Unlike his sister, he wasn't the kind of child to curl up happily with a book or spend much time drawing or colouring or listening to the wireless. An active little boy, who rarely seemed to sit still, he was clearly extremely bored and Victoire spent the morning playing gobstones, wizards chess and anything else she could think of in an attempt to keep him occupied.
"It's after one o'clock anyway," she finally said in desperation. "Time for some lunch. Are you hungry?"
He thought for a moment. "A little."
Despite being unwell and having had breakfast less than two hours previously, he tucked in happily to the sandwiches she made him, unlike Rose, who Victoire suddenly noticed was eating little, merely picking listlessly at the edges of her sandwich.
"Rose, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she snapped, "why?"
"You're not eating much."
"I'm not hungry, all right?"
Something about the continued aggression of her tone made Victoire suspicious.
"Rose..." she began, getting up and heading towards her.
"Oh, leave me alone!"
Uncharacteristically, she flung her sandwich on the floor and stormed out of the room.
"Oooh, she's in trouble," Hugo declared, delighted at the thought of his normally impeccably behaved older sister being scolded. "Are you going to go and tell her off?"
Victoire didn't reply, instead going to look for Rose, who was sitting on her bed, looking sullen and dejected.
"You're ill too, Rosie, aren't you?" Victoire sat down beside her and placed a hand on her forehead. Rose pulled away but not before Victoire'd felt the heat from her forehead. "Yeah, you're running a bit of a fever, I think. Why didn't you say you weren't feeling well?"
Rose looked down and scuffed her feet off the carpet.
"I was hoping it wasn't true," she mumbled finally. "I woke up with a bit of a headache, but I just thought, well, I didn't get much sleep last night, so I'm probably just tired. Then my throat started hurting, but I still kind of hoped I was imagining things, you know? 'Cause I didn't have any spots, so I thought I was OK. But now..." She raised her jumper to display the signature purple spots on her stomach.
"Oh, Rose, you are silly." Victoire smiled at her younger cousin, trying to cheer her up. "There's nothing to worry about. Transylvanian measles is really mild. You're probably not going to feel much worse than you do right now. In fact, once you've had some Pepper Up potion and a nice cool drink, you'll probably feel a whole lot better."
"I just hate being ill, that's all." Rose kicked the leg of the bed in frustration.
"Everybody does," Victoire said sympathetically. "Look, tell you what, I'm going to get you some Pepper Up potion now and something to drink - your mum said it's important to have plenty of fluids when you've Transylvanian measles. While I do that, why don't you go and get a book and just settle back against your pillows and read for a while? Once you've had your potion, I won't bother you unless you call me. And neither will Hugo. How would that be?"
Rose managed a half-smile. "Thanks Victoire. I think I just want to be left alone, really."
"Well, just let me fuss over you for a few more minutes, all right? Then I'll leave you in peace."
"Good girl." She touched her cousin's arm gently. "And don't worry. You'll feel a bit out of sorts for a few days, but that's all. You're going to be just fine."
She poured a goblet of Pepper Up potion and took an extra couple of pillows from the airing cupboard, then returned to her cousin's bedroom, where Rose was already resting against the headboard, a small pile of books beside her.
"Here, put these there behind you," she said placing the pillows behind her cousin's head. "And drink this."
"I'll be back in a moment with something to drink, then I'll leave you alone."
She returned with a large jug of pumpkin juice and a glass, which she placed on the bedside table before taking the empty potion goblet from Rose.
"Feeling better?" she asked.
"Yeah, much. I still feel really cold and a bit shivery though."
"Afraid I can't do anything about that," Victoire said apologetically. "You've a fever; you have to be kept cool. Sorry."
"It's all right. I think I'll just read for a while."
"OK. Call me if you want anything, all right?"
Rose nodded, already engrossed in her book.
Victoire left her be and returned to the kitchen where Hugo immediately resumed his complaints of boredom.
The afternoon was a long one, although, as promised, Hermione returned early, at four o'clock.
"I'm afraid I've some bad news for you," Victoire told her.
"What now?" Hermione sighed.
"Rose has come down with Transylvanian measles."
"Oh well, I suppose she was bound to catch it. I'm really sorry it happened while you were here though. You must have had a tough day, caring for two ill children."
"Oh, she was no trouble really. Once she'd taken her potion, I just left her reading in her room." Suddenly, she felt guilty. Maybe she should have paid more attention to her. Certainly, she should have noticed she was ill sooner. She would have, if she hadn't been preoccupied with Hugo. Rose never slept in so late. "I don't think she really wanted me around," she added weakly.
"No, she probably didn't. You did the right thing, Victoire. There's not much you can do for Transylvanian measles anyway, except wait it out. Rest and quiet are the best things for her. Poor Rose. She really hates being ill. It's the lack of control, I think, though I'm pretty sure she's no idea that's why."
Just then, Rose appeared on the staircase, purple spots now covering both her cheeks.
"How are you?" Hermione asked her.
"All right." She brushed the question away, before turning to Victoire. "I just heard Mum come in and I wanted to say sorry for being such a pain earlier."
Victoire went over and put her arms around the younger girl to give her a hug.
"You're not well. We all get a bit cranky when we feel rotten."
"Still, I didn't mean to be such a brat. Thanks for, you know, looking after me and everything." She grimaced slightly and Victoire couldn't help smiling. Rose really didn't like admitting vulnerability.
"You're welcome," she said gently. "Hope you feel better soon."
"I don't feel too bad really. Just sort of cold and a bit tired. And I think my throat's starting to hurt again."
"Come on, Rose," Hermione interrupted her. "We'd better check your temperature."
"Must we?" Rose sighed.
"Yes," Hermione said firmly. "Come along, it'll be done in a minute and then you can get back to your book."
"Oh, all right. Bye Victoire."
Victoire gave her a final hug before going to say goodbye to Hugo, relieved she was no longer the person responsible. Although nothing had actually gone wrong, the day had been a rather stressful one.
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