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Chapter 20 : The One With The Cold
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Have some birthday cake from me! *gives cake and party bags full of sweets and toys*
Thank you to my beta Sam for doing an awesome job, as always.
I was huddled up at the Hufflepuff table, shivering as I wrapped my arms around myself and stared down at the soup sitting in front of me, untouched and going as cold as I was feeling. I had put on two jumpers under my robes, as well as a t-shirt and thick tights under my skirt, but still I was freezing.
Michelle had thrown me looks of concern; my cold had begun not long after I had seen James, starting last night when I had gone to Michelle’s house to spend the night before we went back to Hogwarts. Her family had been really nice and tried to convince me to take a potion to soothe the effects of the cold, but I had politely declined. I still wasn’t sure why I had done that, I was clearly delirious, because all I could think of now was that damn potion. I regretted my choices of this morning and made a vow to have others make my decisions for me; I obviously couldn’t be trusted.
“Why don’t you try and eat some of the soup?” Michelle offered, pointing down at the soup in front of me, but I shook my head at her as I ran a hand over my clammy forehead, pushing my hair away from my face and knowing that I must look like a wreck. I was struggling to find the effort to care.
“I don’t feel hungry,” I told her, wincing as my throat ached from the use of my voice. Swallowing was no better either.
“Did you want to go to the hospital wing?”
I shook my head again; it was too much effort to walk that far. I just wanted to go to my bed and sleep, although I had been sleeping for most of the train ride here. I was planning on going to find James, to thank him once again for my presents - some bubble bath and lotion with hints of honey in it and smelt absolutely gorgeous, when I could smell, and then a massive box of chocolates and sweets, which was currently in my bag so that I could have it with me at the castle. My plans to thank him went downhill when I fell asleep on the train. I wasn’t sure if James had been trying to find me at all; I was stupid for getting my hopes up, but I knew that Michelle wouldn’t have told me even if he did.
I tried to look for him in the Great Hall, but it was too busy to see around the students, chatting loudly and telling each other about their holidays and what they had got for Christmas. I knew that I would see him tomorrow during lessons, although I wasn’t sure I wanted him to see me like this.
“At least have something, I don’t want you collapsing on top of this,” Michelle told me, leaning across the table and trying to get me to look at her instead of around the hall. I gave a sigh before picking up my spoon and dipping it into the barely warm soup, making sure to have a few mouthfuls, before it got too much and I pushed it away again.
She didn’t seem too happy, but she didn’t say anything else, focusing on finishing her own dinner and talking with Sian. Isabella wasn’t with us, she didn’t come back from her holiday until tomorrow; she had managed to get special permission from the Headmaster if she promised to catch up on the work that she would miss.
My head was beginning to pound and I wanted to go back to sleep, hoping that I would wake up in the morning and feel a lot better. I told Sian and Michelle as much, and held out a hand to stop any of them following me, telling them my plans to sleep. I walked slowly out of the hall, sidestepping a few people as I walked, my arms wrapped around myself to keep the warmth in me. I chanced a look at the Gryffindor table, but I wasn’t able to see James or William. I carried on my way feeling a little sad that I didn’t see him, but looking forward to getting into my pyjamas and climbing into bed.
When I arrived at my dormitory, the common room was empty as everyone was down in the hall. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and change into my pyjamas, before climbing into bed and wrapping the covers over me, the patchwork quilt included. I was vaguely aware of Snowball climbing onto me and meowing, but I fell asleep very quickly.
I woke up many times in the night, coughing loudly and feeling a burn in my throat. My sleep hadn’t done any good and now I was walking around school with my nose bunged up as well as my throat feeling like it was burning. My head was feeling very heavy as well. I was a walking mess and I knew that I should just hide away like I wanted to.
In my lessons I was just barely able to concentrate. Thankfully the teachers seemed to know that I was feeling under the weather so didn’t ask me to participate much during the class. The only lesson I was actually excited about going to, like the loser I was, was potions, and that was only because the classroom would be heated from the potions we would be making.
Which was where I found myself now, sitting as close as possible to the bubbling cauldron as I could safely be and watching as Michelle made our potion, thankful that she was taking pity on me and wasn’t trying to force me to help out. She must have known that I wouldn’t be much help to her. The fumes from the potion we were making, a Shrinking Solution, were enough to clear my airwaves and I was able to breathe through my nose for the first time that day. I knew that I should move away from the cauldron, in fact the Professor Noble had been throwing me cautionary looks to move away every time he caught me too close to it; I didn’t want to end up with the potion on me, but I also wanted to stay warm.
Thankfully he had taken some pity on me, using his wand to fill robes with a warming charm, but only because of how dangerous it would be if I continued staying too close to the cauldron. I could hear James give a small laugh from the table next to mine and Michelles, and turned to look at him, enjoying the warmth that was now slowly filling me as he moved moved further down the table, warning me that the charm wouldn’t last very long, but in that moment I didn’t care. I was warm, and that was enough for me.
James was laughing at something that William had told him, his blue eyes twinkling in delight as he chanced a look at where the Professor Noble was, scared of being told off for being loud, before his eyes fell onto me. He gave me a small wave, which I returned. I was going to open my mouth to say something to him but I heard Michelle scoffing from behind me.
Turning to look at her I noticed that she was shaking her head, placing some more ingredients in the cauldron and stirring the contents. She didn’t look too happy and when I asked her what was wrong, she just shook her head again, but didn’t respond. Instead, she threw a disdainful look towards where James was sitting, which I was annoyed about; he hadn’t even done anything to warrant a look like that.
Barry and Elijah managing to blow up their cauldron at the back of the classroom made me forget all about it.
Thankfully they weren’t far enough into their potion to require many people a trip to the hospital wing and only a few people were in the ‘splash zone’. It meant though, that our lesson was cut short, as Professor Noble was forced to take everyone affected, so we all had twenty minutes to kill before the bell would go.
I was about to turn and ask Michelle what she wanted to do, but she was packing her things up and had stormed from the class, without any other word to me. I watched her go numbly, still in shock about her behaviour, and slowly began pushing my own things into my bag. I looked up when I sensed someone standing by my desk, and saw that William and James were looking at me.
“Did you want to hang around with us?” William asked me and I nodded slowly, murmuring out a ‘thank you’ that was barely heard. James seemed to grin though at the sound of my raspy voice, biting his lip to try and stop it and he helped me put my backpack on.
“What’s up with Addison?” William asked me, as we slowly began to walk out of the classroom. We were one of the only ones still in it, everyone had rushed out as soon as possible. I gave a shrug in response to Williams questions, covering my mouth as I gave a cough before answering, my voice breaking slightly.
“I’m not sure, she didn’t say. She just started scoffing before she stormed out,” I told them. I didn’t want to mention that she had thrown a dirty look James’ way. I still wasn’t sure what that was about and didn’t want to add any unnecessary drama.
“Are you losing your voice?” James asked as both boys fell in step either side of me, as we slowly made out way out of the dungeons.
“I think so, my niece has definitely given me her flu.” I told them, William stepped away from me.
“I don’t want to get ill,” he told me jokingly. “If I had known you were contagious, I wouldn’t have let James bully me into asking you to hang around with us.”
I laughed and noticed that James had shot William a glare, but William grinned and stepped back to walk normally.
“I didn’t bully you,” James argued back over my head as both the boys were taller than me. “I asked you to ask Abigail because I was busy and you were closer.”
“Sure, that’s the reason.”
I gave a chuckle at their behaviour, thankful that they had asked me to be with them, otherwise I would have been left alone until the next lesson, which for me and James was Muggle Studies.
“How was your Christmas, William?” I asked the boy. “Did you sort out things with your sister?”
William gave a scoff of his own; the last I had heard William’s twin sister had threatened to tell their parents that William had got a girl pregnant, which according to William was a lie. “She’s a bitch. Thankfully, she didn’t, I threatened to tell our dad that she’s sleeping with the boy that lives next to us, so we’re even.”
I opened my mouth in shock.
“Yeah, but yours is true, unlike her lie,” James stated, noticing the look on my face. “We didn’t think it was true until we caught her sneaking back to William’s house over the holidays. She was not happy to see us.”
I was amazed that William and his twin sister acted that way to each other, especially when me and my brother and sister wouldn’t act that way, but every family was different.
“Especially considering she has a boyfriend at Hogwarts.”
I couldn’t help the gasp that escaped my mouth at that admission and William turned to look at me.
“Oh yeah, my twin sister is a slut,” William told me, “She knows never to threaten me again otherwise me and James shall be telling her boyfriend.”
“Hey, don’t involve me in this,” James said, holding his hands up in defence, which caused William to raise an eyebrow up at him in disbelief, arms folding themselves across his chest.
“Unless you want to admit your own secret, I suggest you rethink what you’ve just said,” William threatened and I was intrigued again at the mentions of James’ secret. It must be big if William was threatening to use it against him.
“You’re a jerk,” James told him.
“You’re a coward.”
“You’re the worst best friend.”
“Would you rather Barry or Elijah?”
“No, I’d rather put up with you.”
“I thought so. I’ll see you both later, enjoy Muggle studies,” William said, backing away from us both and throwing James a knowing look, which he ignored.
“Remember when we said we’d get new best friends?” James asked, looking down at me. I nodded at him, remembering the conversation we had months ago. “Maybe that should be sooner than later.”
“Would he really tell your secret?” I asked, not knowing if he was joking or not.
“He wouldn’t, but I don’t appreciate the threats. I’m most certainly not a coward though, although maybe a little.”
“I could never imagine you as a coward,” I told him honestly, wincing again as I swallowed, and we continued on our way to our classroom at a slow stroll.
James smiled at me gratefully. “Thank you.”
“So what’s your secret?” I asked him, smiling mischievously.
James shook his head at me and laughed. “That you will have to find out yourself.”
“I’ll ask William,” I threatened, although I didn’t mean it. I would never ask William to spill James’ secrets.
“If he wants to keep all of his limbs intact, he wouldn’t spill the beans,” James warned me.
“Will I ever know?” I asked, wondering if he would ever tell me.
James didn’t speak for a moment, as though thinking about his answer. When I turned to look at him it was to find him watching me intently.
“One day I’ll tell you,” James told me and I gave him a thankful smile.
“Then I’ll wait for you to tell me.”
I was relieved when we sat down at our usual table in Muggle Studies, the few other people in our class filling in around us.
“Do you know how cute you sound?”
I rolled my eyes but contained my smile and blush at James’ words. I shook my head at him.
“I really don’t,” I told him honestly. How on earth could he think that me barely being able to speak and the fact that my throat was on fire was cute in the slightest? He was obviously lying.
“Well, I think that you do. I wonder how long until you lose your voice completely?” he asked me, slouching in his chair, but with his head turned to look at me.
“I don’t know. As long as the pain goes away, I don’t really care,” I admitted, coughing into my sleeve and then wincing at the pain I was feeling. It was like someone had clawed at my throat.
“Do you know what’s good for that?” James asked me and I turned to look at him, waiting for him to answer. “Sweets, want one?” He gestured down to his pocket and I looked down to see that he had a bag of sweets in there.
“Thank you.” I told him gratefully, reaching into his pocket and taking a sweet, knowing that it couldn’t make my throat feel any worse than it did. “So how was your Christmas other than your epic hangover? We never got a chance to talk about it.”
James let out a groan as he remembered the pain he was in with his hangover. “It was good. Albus behaved himself, which was good; he’s normally a little shit. I think it’s because he’s got a massive crush on some girl so he’s feeling pretty happy, but he won’t tell me who it is. But that’s nothing compared to how I felt when I got your gift. I honestly could have kissed you for that.”
My cheeks tinged red at his words and James seemed to have realised his slip of the tongue. “Er... hypothetically of course, ” he added in embarrassment and I nodded along with him, ignoring the slight sinking feeling that suddenly went through me. “I am forever in debted to you, though. I’m not sure I could ever thank you enough.”
“It was seriously nothing,” I told him, shaking my head as the teacher walked into the lesson.
“I know how I can repay you. I shall tell you a secret,” James told me and I felt elation at this. Was I finally going to find out what William had been keeping a secret for James?
Professor Hargreaves interrupted us by handing out sheets of parchment, on a new hobby from Muggles, this time about something called Wood work. Beginning to engage the class in a discussion about it, making a few notes on the board that they were to all copy down.
“Really?” I asked quietly, fighting the urge to get him to tell me quickly, not caring if the teacher noticed us talking. I needed to know. “Is this the one you and William were talking about?”
“No, it’s not that one. It’s another one,” James whispered back, shaking his head as he dug his hand into his pocket and took a sweet out, popping it into his mouth. I followed suit, realising that I had taken an apple flavoured one.
“That’s disappointing,” I whispered back, my voice cracking, which caused James to grin at me.
“You’ll like this one,” he told me, moving his chair closer and leaning next to my ear to whisper to me. I kept my eye on the teacher in case he noticed. “I own an invisibility cloak.”
It was a good thing that my voice was breaking, because it meant that my gasp of suprise caught in my throat, although it did make me cough uncontrollably. James had to pat me on the back gently as I struggled to stop, hands in front of my mouth and my throat feeling like it was on fire.
“Are you alright?” he asked me. A few other people, including Professor Hargreaves, was looking at me in concern and I nodded as I coughed a few more times and wiped at my watering eyes.
“Abigail, did you want to go to the Hospital wing to get a Pepper Up potion?” Professor Hargreaves asked, coming over to where I was sat. James still had his hand on my back and was rubbing it gently in case I started violently coughing again. Which I did, my hand flying to my chest as It felt like it was burning with every breath I took.
“James, would you like to take her?” I heard the teacher say and James nodded, standing up and taking my arm gently in his warm hands, helping steer me from the room.
Once we were out in the corridor, I could feel the coldness filling me again and I shivered as we walked. Thankfully I had stopped coughing and was able to breathe a bit through my nose again. I tried to wrap my robes tighter around myself, but it wasn’t doing anything to keep the warmth in. James seemed to have noticed this and took his robe off to drape it around my shoulders. I opened my mouth to argue but he seemed to know that I would, because he stopped me.
“Don’t argue, just take it,” he told me and I smiled gratefully at him as we made our way through the corridor and towards the staircase. I wrapped it around me and felt the warmth of where he had worn it. The robe itself was too long for me, especially in the arms and it was just barely skimming the floor as I walked.
“So how long have you had the cloak?” I asked him as loudly as I could.
“The one you’re wearing?” James asked stupidly before shrugging. “I got it this summer because I had some sort of growth spurt and needed a new one.”
I nudged him away from me and he laughed loudly, the sound echoing around us and I hugged James’s robe around me, wishing that I could smell it, but sadly my nose was still blocked.
“Not this one,” I told him, coughing again, which caused James to watch me in case it turned into another coughing fit.
“Oh, the other one.” He grinned, moving forwards to reach into the pocket of his robe and pulling out a sweet. His fingers brushed against my leg accidently when he did so and my stomach flipped at the contact. James didn’t seem to notice. “I was given it by my dad, it used to belong to my grandfather.”
I nodded in amazement; it must be so awesome to own an invisibility cloak. There weren’t that many around and I knew that they were very rare. I had never seen one before.
“But, dad took it from me over the summer and I’ve only just been given it back,” James informed me.
“Why?” I asked as we made it to the staircase and we walked up them slowly. Well, I was walking slowly and James was kind enough to walk at my speed.
“I snuck out over the summer holidays to go to a party with William,” James told me honestly. “It was a shit party, but I drank more than I should have and tried climbing through the kitchen window at nearly five in the morning as I left my keys at home. Dad caught me, he was having breakfast and getting ready to go into work early; he was not happy to see me in the state I was, especially because I was meant to be grounded.”
I shook my head at him in disbelief and he gave a shrug. “I know, I’m a rebel, but in my defence William made me.”
“Nice of you to blame your friend,” I said as we walked along another corridor and got closer to the Hospital wing.
“It was his fault; he told me I either come willingly or he was going to kidnap me.” James laughed. “Although even he had to admit that it was a shit party. It was some Muggle that he used to go to school with. The whole lot of them were jerks, but we drank all of their alcohol, ended up breaking their garden fence and caused the police to come and kick us out. It was a laugh and in hindsight I probably should have stayed at William’s house the night. But, apparently I’m an idiot.”
I would have argued with him, but we arrived at the hospital wing and James opened the door wide for me to go in, following close behind me when I entered the room.
It was practically empty, save for what looked like a first year in one of the beds, a bandage wrapped around her left arm. She didn’t seem to notice or care that we were in the room, intent on just gazing ahead of her and looking like she was lost in thought.
The Healer, Madam Ashwin, came over quickly, a questioning smile on her face as she looked between us. I opened my mouth to speak, but James talked to her for me, which I was very grateful for.
“Abigail has the flu and the teacher has sent us down to get her a Pepper Up Potion, if that’s alright,” James said for me and Madam Ashwin turned to look at me with a caring look as she held a hand to my forehead.
“Oh dear, you’re burning up. Let me just get the potion and see if we can make you feel better.” She gave me a small wink and walked away and over to her office.
“Thank you,” I said, turning to James ,and he wrapped an arm around my shoulder and pulled me to him. I rested my head on his chest as he gave me a one armed hug; it still felt heavy and stuffy, but being around James was making me feel a lot better.
“You’re welcome. As cute as your voice sounds, I don’t like seeing you ill,” James told me. “Let’s hope that you’re back to your regular awesome self quickly.”
“I hope so too, I hate feeling like this,” I told him, bringing a hand up to my mouth as I coughed again.
Thankfully Madam Ashwin came back over with a potion in her hand. I had never been happier to see a potion in my entire life. James removed his arm from around my shoulders as Madame Ashwin guided me to one of the free beds and made me take a seat on it, before handing me the potion to drink.
“How do you feel?” she asked me, as she took the now empty potion bottle from me.
“A lot better, thank you,” I told her, noticing that my throat still sounded hoarse, but it was no longer burning. Neither was my chest, and I was able to breath properly. I also noticed that James was smiling at the sound of my voice still being croaky and realised that he was a very strange guy for wanting it to stay like I had a frog in my throat.
“Sadly it’ll only mask the symptoms, but you should be feeling better for a few more hours.”
“Thank you. As long as I can feel normal for a little while, I don’t mind. It’s good to feel warm again, though.”
Madame Ashwin left us both and walked back to her office, after telling us that we were able to get going back to our lesson. James and I left the hospital wing and slowly began to make our way back to our Muggle Studies lesson. I took off the robe that James had leant me and I gave it back to him. He shrugged it back on, giving a small sniff as he did so.
“Now my robe smells like you,” he told me with a chuckle, bringing the front of his collar to his nose to smell it again and I felt a little embarrassed.
“I hope I don’t smell bad.”
“It smells a little of honey,” he told me, “Is that the bath set I got you?”
I nodded. I had used it this morning in the hopes that a shower would make me feel better. It had done for a little while.
“I obviously made a good choice,” he told me with a grin.
“Yes, you did.” I agreed.
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