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Chapter 13 : Breakdown: Rose POV
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“Nn-” I started to say. It was a gut reaction. She asked me the question every week, and every week I blurted a firm ‘No.’ This time, the word caught in my throat as I turned it over in my mind.
I must’ve been thinking about it for a while because Ruth eventually asked, “Would you be comfortable enough to show me your scars?” I had no idea why, but for some reason, it seemed easier to turn and stretch the thin fabric of my blouse up the side of my ribcage than to bring myself to discuss the topic.
“They look much, much better than they used to,” I explained. Most of the red ones had paled to light pink and the lighter ones were now the same color as my skin.
“So, they’ve faded over time?” Ruth asked. She was looking with interest, but not staring.
“No. Scorpius used a special healing power he has. He said it was passed down from his mother’s side. He spoke in a language that I didn’t know and his fingertips glowed bright white. Felt like someone was cooling me from the inside out - a soothing type of cooling, not icy cold or anything. Have - have you ever heard of that type of magic?” I hadn’t asked anyone else about it, despite the fact that I was insanely curious. I was sure the hospital staff would know about it, but if I asked them, it might lead to a discussion that I didn’t want to have.
I had looked in a few books, but a lot of magic that is passed down family lines isn’t recorded because either only a few people possess it or it is mostly myth and not able to be proven. I trusted Ruth. She was technically a healer as well. Even therapists had to go through the Healer Trainee program before choosing their specialty.
She cocked her head and deepened her gaze. Her eyes flicked to mine and she spoke slowly. “Yes, I have heard of that type of magic.” She nodded and continued to peer at me. “It… is very powerful and can only be done under certain - er - circumstances.”
“Scorpius said it isn’t dark magic,” I was looking for her confirmation.
“No, no - nothing like that. Tell me, how is it going with Scorpius?”
“Good - Great!” I corrected myself. “It’s great. We’re great.” I realized that I sounded like I was trying to convince myself that everything was great. It really was great. Fantastic. Super.
“We haven’t had sex yet,” I blurted out. Oh sweet Circe and Morgana. I hadn’t intended to reveal that little tidbit. I sounded like an idiot.
Ruth took it all in stride. “Rose, every couple makes that very personal decision when the time is right. There isn’t a schedule or anything. Perhaps Scorpius doesn’t think you’re ready?”
“I am ready,” I retorted. Boy, was I ready. I wanted to jump his bones every chance I got. It just - never seemed to happen. It’s not like we don’t do things. We definitely enjoy our time together. But, there was something missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but we always seemed to stop before anything got too close to the real deal.
“Have you discussed this with him?” she asked casually. She really was a natural at this. I couldn’t have this conversation with Selenia - she and Al had been together for so long, they don’t even remember the discomfort and awkwardness that accompanies taking steps forward in a new relationship.
“We’re not that great at talking,” I said meeting her eyes. She had this way of looking at me that wasn’t judgmental at all, but still told me that I wasn’t exactly being honest.
I bit my lip. That wasn’t true. We could talk about anything. Except us.
Healer Vanadi didn’t say anything, just lifted her head up and raised her eyebrows so nudge me a bit.
“Alright,” I admitted, “I’m not that great at talking.” The last time I had tried to talk to Scorpius about ‘us,’ only jibberish had come out of my mouth.
“Talking isn’t the only way couples communicate with one another,” she paused to let me think this though.
“I just…. I don’t - I don’t really know if he wants to… erm… be with me,” I said, looking away in discomfort. I didn’t need him to actually say the words either, I just got the feeling that something was a bit… off.
When my eyes landed back on Ruth, her lips were twisted in an odd shape and her eyes were really bright. I was thoroughly confused.
“Rose,” she said deliberately as if she were trying not to let the words come out too fast. “you said that Scorpius and you have been interested in each other since your Hogwarts days?”
“Yeah, fifth year. Or maybe earlier. I don’t know exactly.”
“And you both are now what? Twenty years old?”
“He was twenty-one last month,” I replied.
“Well, although it is not my specialty, I have spent enough time around men in general to feel fairly confident in saying that a healthy, twenty-one year old male who has spent the last six years or so pining after one woman wants to have sex with her.” Her face split into a wide smile and she couldn’t suppress a light guffaw.
I started to giggle. Dom was right - I could be seriously thick sometimes. Scorpius was most likely waiting for me to give him a sign. Yet again, we had fallen victim to the ‘let’s not talk about it curse.’ How many times were we going to dance this dance before we figured it out?
“All available medical personnel report immediately to the triage area. Repeat: All available medical personnel report immediately to the triage area.”
I stood up. “Ruth, I have to respond to that.”
She raised herself out of the chair. “Normally, I would be responding as well, but there is another therapist on duty. I’m actually going on holiday early and then sabbatical for the next four months. I’ll be returning mid-April, remember? I mentioned this earlier?”
I nodded and smiled. “Have a great time in Bulgaria! Wish I could stay and say a proper thank you and good-bye-”
“No worries,” she said. “You can always owl me if you need to.”
I nodded again on my way out of the door.
The scene that assaulted my eyes as I entered the emergency waiting room was gruesome. Patients were everywhere – at least seventy of them. They were stretched across the waiting chairs, lying on the floors, leaning against walls as they groaned in pain, clasping around their middles or clutching their chests. Some of them held rags to their bloodied wounds, but most showed no sign of trauma – other than their cries of anguish.
All the healer trainees and other responding medi-persons were briefed in the far corner of the room. There had been a horrible accident during a ministry test conducted at an offsite location. The Department of Magical Transportation was trying out some new method of transport. We weren’t given any more specifics, other than something had gone terribly wrong.
At this point, the healers were treating people in the waiting area, because all the rooms had filled up and they were coming in faster and sicker than we could manage. Our orders were to stand at the ready until assigned a job by Healer Lawrence, the head of St. Mungo’s, who was currently interrogating the ministry official in charge of the test. They were speaking loudly against the wall not too far from where we were all standing by.
“MacLaggen, I need to know exactly what happened, or I can’t treat these people!” Healer Lawrence was a very intimidating man, both physically and in temperament. He towered over McLaggen, who was tall in his own right. He didn’t beat around the bush; he had a hospital to run.
“I can’t say exactly,” MacLaggen responded, sounding exasperated and frantic at the same time. He was quite tall and would be considered handsome under normal circumstances. My parents knew him from Hogwarts, but I don’t remember them talking about him a lot. “It should’ve worked. All the magical theory was sound. This was going to change magical transportation forever,” MacLaggen trailed off, staring at the people writhing in pain around the waiting area.
“Get a hold of yourself!” Lawrence barked at him and fisting the ministry wizard’s robes. Not one hair on Hr. Lawrence’s thick, graying head wavered. He pulled MacLaggen toward him, “WHAT WAS THE SPELL?”
“No spell... not a spell,” MacLaggen dropped his head to his hands and Lawrence let go, defeated. “I don’t know what went wrong. It should’ve worked. It was a magical combination between a portkey and apparition. We designed the bus with the ability to take over sixty people at once! Sixty! I was going down as the wizard who completely re-defined…”
“So you didn’t use any particular spell?” Lawrence growled, rubbing his neatly trimmed beard. He was losing his temper with MacLaggen. When the ministry official just shook his head that he was still grasping in his hands, the healer let out a strangled cry and turned to survey the chaos around the room.
All of us trainees were ready to report to whatever duty we were assigned. Obviously the first and second years would only be able to assist, but us third years would be able to take on some of the simpler cases.
“Weasley, we need you over here, STAT!” Healer Lawrence shouted as he walked away from a defeated MacLaggen. I was surprised he had called on me, of all the third year trainees. Although I wasn’t surprised he knew my name - everyone knew my name.
All the same, Healer Lawrence had been very vocal about his thoughts on the ministry. He claimed the Ministry of Magic usually got in the way of the hospital’s ability to do its job. From time to time, the ministry puts undercover aurors in the hospital to protect a certain patient who had been attacked. The hospital has its own security and Lawrence views ministry protection as a knock on his ability to maintain safety in his own building. Given my family connections with some fairly high ranking ministry officials, I assumed I was not high on his list of healer trainees.
He commanded, “We are short staffed at the moment. I hear from your teachers that you are the top of your class. I need you to attend to those three patients straight away!” He pointed to a group across the room. I was in shock. Not only did he need me to help him, he wanted me because I was good. I shook my head to avoid the ego trip I was about to take and ran to his side.
“Yes, sir! What is their status, sir?”
“I don’t know Weasley, that is what you have to determine!” he barked at me, the disappointment poorly hidden in his voice. My temporary high was suddenly deflated and I was determined to make a good first impression with my abilities. “Take Astatine with you,” he commanded, “there aren’t any more medi-persons available.”
Astatine was an older witch who served as a hospital assistant. It was her voice that had heralded the cry for all medical personnel to report just moments before. She wasn’t medically trained, but she knew every department really well. She even worked with us trainees, as our records keeper, assigning us our weekly rounds and organizing our classes as well as the application process for the program. Everyone in the building knew her well, with her wispy white hair and sharp, cockney accent.
“Oi! Guess we be workin’ together, love!” her accent coming through. She followed along behind me as I mentally switched my brain from the one filling in the charts to the one giving the orders.
My first act was to triage each patient quickly. There were two middle aged men and a woman who looked to be close to Victoire’s age – mid to late twenties. She had some lacerations to the left side of her face and some broken ribs. I fixed these up quickly and then had her rest on a spare gurney for a few minutes, promising I would be back to check on her later.
All around me, the commotion was mounting. Healers were running around, potions were being summoned and patients were being levitated to other parts of the hospital. Others that did not make it were being vanished to the morgue. The sound of moaning and pain permeated through the voices of the healers, giving orders to their assistants. Thus far, no one seemed to have determined what was causing all their pain.
I turned to the two wizards who were my charges. Upon further inspection, the first one was only partially splinched across his chest. It was mostly superficial and I was able to heal him quickly after summoning some dittany.
I was just finishing up with the other wizard when I heard a strangled voice say, “Healer! Oh Heale-” it was cut off by the sound of severe coughing. Instantly, I looked up to see the woman I had just healed violently coughing and struggling to get breath.
“Astatine! I pointed to the wizard that I was in the process of healing. “Give him one vial of curatio dolor and mark the time in his chart,” I ordered as I ran to the young woman immediately. She was clutching the same side of the ribs I had just healed. Did they break again? There must be something else going on.
I did a quick scan with my wand and realized something was really wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. She was still coughing, but losing her breath quickly. I performed the bone healing spell again. She responded by screeching out in pain.
“Intra vide,” I hovered my wand over her chest and whispered the complicated x-ray charm that would allow me to see inside her rib cage without opening her up. I wasn’t sure it would work. Most healers couldn’t even do it without the aid of additional equipment, but I had spent weeks practicing last summer, just in case I needed it.
“Oh, Merlin.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Her insides were all twisted up and in the wrong order.
“Two vials of curatio dolor over here, Astatine, straight away please!” The helper was immediately at my side, conjuring the pain relief medication I ordered as I tried to figure out what was going on.
“Love, she’s gone out!” Astatine couldn’t even administer the potion because the woman had stopped breathing and was unconscious. Her head lolled back and she was very, very still. I performed the spell to clear her airway, knowing that time was precious. Nothing happened.
“Ictus,” I pointed my wand at her chest. Her body pulsed once, but she lay unstirring immediately after. Still no breathing. I had to get her heart beating again or she wouldn’t be able to survive the other spells I needed to sort out her insides.
“She’s splinched from the inside,” I said aloud to Astatine. I had never seen or heard of anything like this. “It must’ve been from the combination of the portkey and apparition bus! The two forms of magic must have scrambled her from the inside out!”
“Ictus Maxima!” I said louder. Another electric shock was administered to her system and her body convulsed for an instant but again, no response. No, no, no, no.
I tried a general body-healing spell we had learned last year. I tried another spell to right her internal organs. I tried the ictus maxima again and again and again.
I was wracking my brain for any other spell that might manage to get her heart pumping. Why couldn’t I think of anything? I knew there was a spell out there, but everything I was coming up was unsuccessful. Something must work. Something had to work.
“Love,” I heard a strong cockney accent say as a soft, wrinkled hand rested on my wand arm. “It’s too late, love,”
No, no. Merlin, no. This woman was the same age as Victoire. They probably went to Hogwarts together.
Another ‘ictus maxima’ and then another spell, I don’t even remember what it was.
“I’m sorry, love,” Astatine was talking from somewhere far away. “You mus’ call time o’ death.”
“No! I just need to remember the spell!”
“Rose,” The old woman’s voice was louder now. I was frozen. Just staring at this young, beautiful, lifeless woman before me. My wand was still poised at her chest. The sounds of the hospital were drowned out beyond our little space. We were in a cloud that held only Astatine, me and this poor woman.
“Rose, love. You did everythin’ you coul’. We forget sometimes, that e’en tho’ we ‘ave magic, we is still ‘uman.”
I shook my head and pulled in a breath through my nose, still not believing this was happening. My eyes found the large clock that loomed high on the wall and I called time of death.
Astatine whispered the vanishing spell away and suddenly the woman was gone. Not there. Only an empty hospital bed remained. I turned slowly around and was mildly surprised to see that there was still a crisis going on. My other two patients seemed to be doing well and Astatine moved them to the other side of the room, where a recovery station had been set up. I turned completely around again to see the empty gurney.
She was dead.
Dead. I was her healer and I couldn’t save her. She was so young.
I was still staring at her empty bed, trying to gather my thoughts when I heard a familiar strangled cough and a gasp for breath behind me.
I spun around. “Check for internal splinching!” I shouted to the healer working on a young man behind me. “Everyone! Listen up!” I stood on the nearest chair and pointed my wand at my throat, muttered sonorus, and spoke loudly.
“CHECK ALL PATIENTS FOR INTERNAL SPLINCHING! THE BUS ACCIDENT MUST’VE SPLINCHED THEM FROM THE INSIDE!”
“CHECK EVERYONE!” Healer Lawrence’s voice boomed above everything else going on in the ward. “DID YOU HEAR HER?! EACH AND EVERY PATIENT GETS ASSESSED FOR INTERNAL SPLINCHING!”
The pace in the already busy room accelerated. Healers taught the assistants the correcting spell for the simple cases. The more complicated ones were instantly moved to the severe curses ward. I jumped down off the chair and helped out where I could, performing the x-ray charm and healing any wound that came my way.
It was too late for some. We couldn’t save everybody. By the end of it, most patients were in recovery or had died from injuries that were too severe. All total, we lost fifteen of the seventy-three victims. Some of them weren’t even on the bus; they had just been standing nearby, monitoring the test.
Healer Lawrence found me as I was making my way to the staff room for a much needed shower.
“Nice work, Weasley,” he shook my hand. I nodded my thanks, but it didn’t make me feel any better.
“I lost my first patient today,” my voice sounded robotic because I was trying not to cry in front of him. I wanted to act the professional. “I couldn’t save her.”
“The first one is a tough one Weasley,” his normally gruff and dominant voice was suddenly kinder. He rested his hands in the pockets of his robes. “It’s alright to be upset,” I blinked at the tears that were coming, but it wasn’t enough to hold them back.
“Hell, they are all tough. If it gets easy to lose someone, then you know you have been doing this too long…” He looked around the room, surveying the remainder of the cases that were left. His words comforted me a tiny bit.
“But you saved lives today, Weasley – don’t forget that. The death toll would’ve been much higher if you hadn’t figured out the internal splinching. I hope that bumbling ministry moron gets a few months in Azkaban for this. Playing with people’s lives like that…” he shook his head.
I wiped a few of my tears away, still haunted by the face of the woman from earlier. I didn’t even know her name.
“Go home, Weasley. That’s an order. And remember – you saved lives today. That’s another order.”
I nodded toward him and headed to the staff room where I could have a complete breakdown.
I cried all the way down to the trainee staff room. Part of me felt foolish. I knew this was part of it. Death is a part of life. Dealing with death is part of the job description of a healer. We even had seminars on how to break it to the families of the deceased. But no one ever tells you about the empty, helpless feeling that tunnels through your center. They don’t warn you what it is like to stare down at someone when they can’t hear or see or feel anymore. I felt like a little part of me was gone too. I couldn’t help comparing the young woman to Victoire. She may have been a newlywed too, just starting a life with her Hogwarts sweetheart.
When I got to the staff room the other first, second and third years were there and we cried together. Some of them had lost their first patient as well. We held on to each other through our first, real tragedy. There were many hugs and words of encouragement. Some of the trainees were related to some of the victims, but thankfully, not any of the ones who didn’t make it.
Wolfie Longbottom had an arm comfortingly around my shoulders. “Great job today, Rose. If you hadn’t figured out about the splinching on the inside, I know we would’ve lost loads more today. I was able to save two ministry workers.”
One of the first years piped up. “Right after you announced to check for internal damage, the healer I worked with acted so quickly, it made my head spin! There were three victims right in front of us and all three made it.” Slowly the talk turned from stories of grief to stories of those who pulled through and I felt my spirits lift slightly.
I fell apart all over again in the shower. It got to the point when I couldn’t even hold myself up anymore. After I cried out every last tear, I pulled myself up and took a few more moments to calm down.
Checking the clock as I got dressed, I was surprised that it wasn’t even 5:00 pm. It felt much, much later. The victims had started to arrive around 9:00 am. The world seemed so different than it had been this morning. The hole inside me was still pushing through my center and I didn’t know how long it was going to be there. There would be no more tears – I had cried everything I could, but the emptiness that was left began to ache.
The ache continued - until I walked back into the staff room and saw him.
“Oh, Scorp!” I ran across the room in my clean healer robes and wrapped myself around him. The hole began to fill up.
He lifted me easily off the floor to hold me tight to his six foot two frame. I buried my face in his shoulder and breathed in his scent. Bit by bit, I was becoming whole again.
Scorpius was gripping me just as tightly. “The others told me about your day. Are you alright?”
I didn’t lift my head, but nodded into his shoulder. “I think I am now,” I said. “I just want to be close to you.”
“They said you figured out what was causing the damage and saved loads of lives. I’m so proud of you, Rose,” I slid down his front so I could stand and grasped both his hands in mine.
“It was terrible,” I said. His eyes pierced mine with great concern. “We lost fifteen patients and one of them… was… mine.” Deep, steadying breath.
He gripped me around my waist and rested his chin on my head. Just being with him and touching him was so soothing.
I leaned up for a proper kiss. “Did Selenia head out already?”
He nodded. “She asked Al to take her out tonight. She just wanted to get away for a few hours. They wondered if we wanted to join them. What would you like to do?”
“I want…” I paused, thinking it through. “I just want to be near you,” I said honestly. The only thing I could think about was never letting go of him.
We apparated home to an empty Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. All of the others were out, as was usual for a Friday night.
“You must be starved,” Scorpius commented. I had missed lunch and I was a Weasley, after all.
“Not really,” I hadn’t let go of his hand. I felt like his touch was keeping me from going everywhere at once and the adrenaline was still pumping from the day’s events. “I just… need to be close to you,” I wrapped myself around him again and inhaled, using his cedar scent to calm my nerves.
“Is this close enough?” he encircled my waist with his arms and pulled me into him.
I shook my head. “Closer,” I said.
He whisked me off my feet and carried me bridal style up to my – our room.
“Is this close enough?” he half-joked as he laid me down on the bed and settled in comfortably next to me. He twisted a piece of my hair in the hand that was propping himself up on one elbow and traced some of the freckles on my face with his fingertips of his other hand.
The contact was sending waves through my skin right to my core. I brushed his lips with my thumb and then next moment grasped his head in my hands, pulling him down to me. I needed more - more of him against me. My hands fisted the hair on the back of his head as my lips attacked his jawline, face and neck.
I sat up and pulled my healer robes off. As I cast them over the side of the bed, he did the same with his training robes. I crawled toward him and sat in his lap with my legs wrapped around him. Our foreheads leaned together, but our eyes never left each other’s.
Scorpius’s hands lovingly caressed up and down my back, landing on my hips.
“Is this close enough?” he whispered in feather light touches across my lips.
“Closer,” I said, tugging on the hem of his shirt. “I need to be closer to you.”
“Rose… are you sure?” And then I saw it. His eyes were full of hunger. Even though his words said that it was alright if we didn’t, his eyes told another story. Finally, I knew what Ruth had been talking about.
“Closer.” I pulled off his shirt and kissed him with all my want and need. I was all passion and haste, grasping at all of him at once.
He nodded as he rested one hand on my shoulder and lifted my chin with the other one, forcing our eyes to lock. “Closer,” he whispered, slowing our pace and ghosting my cheek with the backs of his smooth fingers. His hands traveled carefully, lazily. Everywhere he touched was slow fire and steady tingling. I fell into him.
“Merlin, Rose.” Scorpius snuggled into me as I pressed heady kisses all over his chest. “That was bloody…”
“Amazing,” I finished for him. He reached down and tilted my head up.
“You are bloody amazing,” his eyes pierced my own.
We both sat up and he wrapped himself around me, resting my back against his chest as I shivered a bit from the chilled air. My eyes closed with complete contentment as my stomach let out a dissatisfied growl. I giggled. “I think I may be a bit hungry now.”
“It’s about time!” he popped off the bed and threw on his tee shirt and trousers. “Get ready for ‘Malfoy’s Marvelous Meatloaf’ – ready in under ten minutes!” he grinned at me and leaned in for a quick kiss, pausing to stroke his fingers at the back of my neck. “Meet you downstairs, love?”
I nodded back, letting out another giggle at how hopelessly adorable he was. Then crack, he apparated himself downstairs to begin preparing our dinner.
I stood to throw on the most comfortable clothes I could find when an absolutely brilliant idea came to me. I didn’t have much time, as the promise of dinner was only a few minutes away, so I ran across the hall to Dom’s room, searching for the necessities.
“It smells absolutely wonderful,” I commented about ten minutes later as I entered the kitchen.
“Well,” he didn’t look up as he placed two thick slices of the meatloaf on two plates for us and expertly poured some heavenly-smelling gravy over the top. “It was my Mum’s recipe. It was one of the first things she taught me to cook,” he moved his attention to the task of adding a generous helping of haricot verts to each plate.
“… and Voila!” he lifted one plate in each hand and turned toward the table, but didn’t quite make it there. He had stopped short once he saw me standing in the doorway, wearing Dom’s bronze colored sequined dress that came to just above my knee and a navy blue wrap. I had used a quick spell to fix my hair and let it hang long and wavy down my shoulders and back. I had even put on makeup.
Scorpius just stood there, holding the plates in midair. For several moments all he did was open and close his mouth.
My mouth was watering and I couldn’t wait to taste the wonderful dinner. But I was thoroughly enjoying watching his reaction to me. I raised my head higher and revelled for just a moment before I spoke…
“I want to go out.”
A/N: Aaaaaand whaddya think? I'd love to know!
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