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Chapter 35 : Believing: Scorpius POV
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The night before, the crotchety old hospital aide with the tufts of white hair kept trying to shoo me out of the room, but I insisted on taking up post in a chair next to Rose’s bed - I simply needed to be near her through the night. Healer Lawrence finally told her to let it lie. I was a bit shocked - being that he was so anti-Auror and especially after the scene that had taken place with Ron, Harry and Albus, but he seemed to have a soft spot for Rose. I could relate to that. Most people seem to have a soft spot for Rose.
He didn’t even ask me to leave when he came by the next morning to take her vital signs. He ran his wand around her head, then down her torso, around her belly, and finally passed it over each of her limbs. He paused at her shoulder and frowned. She looked away when he firmly slid down her hospital robe to look at her scars.
“Ms. Weasley, I need to see the full extent of this injury,” he commented, staring at her shoulder and arm. I could see Rose tense up, but she nodded and shuffled her arm out of the gown so that her left side was showing. She kept the rest of herself covered and because I was sitting on her other side, I quickly grabbed her free hand. She wouldn’t look at the scars and although I wanted to see exactly what Healer Lawrence was doing, I kept my eyes trained on Rose, mouthing “I love you,” to her and offering comforting squeezes with my two hands clasped tightly around hers.
“This,” Healer Lawrence began, covering Rose back up, “is dark magic.”
“How can you tell?” I blurted out. I hadn’t meant for it to sound like a challenge to his expertise. However, he didn’t flinch.
“Mr. Malfoy, I’m sure your Auror training has taught you that dark magic leaves a trace on any object that it’s cast upon. Human beings are no exception. I was just performing the revealing spell on Rose to confirm my suspicions about her heart condition from yesterday - which coincidentally is also dark magic, when I came across this as well.” He placed a remarkably gentle hand on her shoulder before he continued. “But this is years old, isn’t it?”
Rose nodded, “From my kidnapping,” her voice was surprisingly strong. “Stannous used cruciatus flagrate.”
The Healer’s head popped upright and stared at me as if to confirm her statement. I nodded, but I was still a bit confused.
“Well, obviously it’s dark magic - it’s from L’erge Stannous, but I don’t see what makes that so significant,” I said.
“Rose,” Healer Lawrence turned to his patient and his voice was grave, “Are you entirely certain that’s the curse he used - a variation of cruciatus combined with an amplification spell?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Rose’s voice was faltering but her eyes were boring holes into him. She was trying her best to keep herself under control. Her breaths were deep and even. “He said it very clearly - several t-times… over the course of the… ssix days.” My hand reached instinctively up to her cheek. She was being so strong.
Healer Lawrence’s lips pursed together. “It’s just… I not sure how…” he took a step back, inhaling deeply to regain his composure. He settled his hands in his pockets and stared intently at Rose’s shoulder that was covered again. “A curse like that should have killed you. I’ve never, ever seen anyone survive a form of cruciatus that’s been altered in that way. Unless… no, it can’t be...” he said the last part to himself. shaking his head.
“What is it?” I said, pressing him.
“Well, I’ve studied dark magic spells extensively - it was my specialty, until I became the Head Healer and leader of St. Mungo’s. I assume it’s not entirely impossible, but the only time I’ve seen someone survive a curse of this magnitude is when they’ve got some sort of magical protection around them, similar to how a child is protected from severe harm when their parent dies for them, or if a prophecy is involved. But both your parents are still alive, Rose.”
Both Rose and I looked at each other. We didn’t even hear his last sentence. The prophecy comment was what shook us.
“Erm… I think we need to get my Uncle Harry in for a consult,” Rose said to him.
His brow furrowed and his demeanor suddenly became very cold. He took a step back. “I see. Well, if you insist that the Auror Department is the utmost authority on matters of healing, then I will not go against your wishes. Clearly my own years of expertise are lost on… ”
“No!” Rose blurted, “I mean, Healer Lawrence, sir... it’s just that… I don’t really know where to start or how to explain this-” Rose was tripping over her words and she sounded exhausted despite the fact that she’d only been awake for about an hour. She needed rest.
My blood was starting to boil. As a Healer, he should know better than to excite a patient in that way. Both Rose and I had been entirely forthcoming as we answered his question. A biting remark was on the tip of my tongue and then I realized he had no idea about Rose and the prophecy and the baby and perhaps it was a good idea for him to be privy to all the details, given that he’d just dropped a huge bomb on us - one that the Auror’s hadn’t even realized.
Rose was still grappling for a way to explain herself when I squeezed her hand and began speaking.
“Healer Lawrence,” I said calmly but loudly. “I think what Rose is trying to say is that the Auror department has some information that might help you to make a more informed decision regarding your diagnoses and you also have some very important facts that could help us solve a case that we’re working on currently. Perhaps if we combined our efforts, we could come to a conclusion faster?”
The Healer paused for a moment, his black eyes piercing into mine, the scowl etched upon his face. “Very well,” he acquiesced. “In the best interest of my patient, I’ll hear what Auror Potter has to say.”
It only took a few minutes for me to summon Harry. Ron was right on his heels, along with Al. I was more than a little worried that this would look like a one-sided wand fight, especially given Healer Lawrence’s short temper. Harry was along the same line of thinking and was able to talk Albus into checking on Selenia - who’d also refused to go home at all during the night, insisting that she stay to check on Rose regularly. It was a brilliant move on Harry’s part, as the mention of Selenia was the one thing that could distract Albus from anything else. He plodded off down the hallway, looking for her.
But there was no convincing Ron. He was bound and determined to give Healer Lawrence a piece of his mind, now that Rose was on the mend.
“Look,” Harry placed a firm hand on his best friend’s shoulder. The three of us had paused outside of Rose’s room to discuss our tactics. “We are at a complete disadvantage. Fact is, we don’t know what happened here yesterday any more than Lawrence does, but we need him to be forthcoming with us. If there’s a flaw in his security system here, he’s sure as hell not going to admit it if he feels like he’s going to be attacked for it. So Ron, I implore you. Let me take the lead on this one.”
“If you think I’m gonna let that crackpot spend one more minute deciding what happens to my daughter and grandchild - He almost killed them yesterday, Harry! Do you even understand that?!”
“I agree with Harry,” I piped in. Ron shot me a venomous look. I didn’t want to cause more problems, especially given the conversation that Ron and I had yesterday, but Ron and Harry would’ve easily stood out in the hallway all afternoon arguing over semantics - they needed a tiebreaker.
“Look,” I continued to make my case to Ron, “the bloke’s a specialist in Dark Magic Healing. He even admitted that he made a mistake yesterday, but he’s got some important information about Rose’s scars that’s a new lead in the case - no matter how small. We might be able to track down Stannous or find out… I don’t know - something that can help us. I feel like we’ve been at a standstill in our investigation for months. Waiting for Stannous to attack is not a very good strategy from where I’m standing. And it’s wearing on every single one of us - Rose especially. She deserves to live a life where she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder every second thinking he’s one step behind her.”
That did it. At the sound of his daughter’s name, Ron’s face fell. He nodded and the three of us went in to see Healer Lawrence and Rose.
Healer Chang and the white-haired aide were there as well. It seems that Harry wasn’t the only one bringing in backup.
It was slow going at first. Ron stood a step behind Harry and I, with his arms crossed and giving the evil eye to Rose’s Healers. I opened up the conversation by retelling all parties what Healer Lawrence had revealed about the crucio flagrate curse.
“And you’re completely certain this is a fatal curse, Aphis?” Harry asked.
“Yes, I am. My specialty is healing Dark Arts Magic. I’ve got an advanced degree and have studied all over Eastern Europe. At one point, I served as advisor to the Ministry in difficult cases that involved Dark Magic and its effect on the human body. However, your predecessor didn’t seem to feel that Healer consultants were necessary, anymore. I was told that my services were no longer required and have not been asked to the Ministry since.”
“There were a lot of things my predecessor did that I didn’t agree with, Aphis. In fact, I never even knew that you once worked with our department. It’s really too bad that things happened as they did. I’m sorry it ended poorly, because I think I could’ve used your expertise on more than one occasion in the past. It would’ve saved me a hell of a lot of time.”
Ron snorted from his defensive position behind Harry. If Healer Lawrence heard it, he didn’t comment.
The older man didn’t smile, but he at least nodded to Harry. “Very well, Head Auror Potter, let’s move on.” The two men shook hands and began discussing the case in earnest. The rest of us stayed silent, for the most part - until the idea of the prophecy came up.
“Erm, this is a matter of the utmost security, Aphis. A matter that I think all of Rose’s Healers need to be made aware,” he paused and tipped his head to the side, indicating both Healers Lawrence and Chang.
Healer Lawrence didn’t miss a beat and cleared his throat, “Astatine, I think we are quite set for now,” he held the door open in invitation for the aide to leave the room.
As soon as the door closed, Harry cast a muffliato and began to give the details of the prophecy to the Healers. Throughout the entire exchange, Ron stayed silent. Every now and then, he would shift his weight with impatience. When Harry was explaining the prophecy to Healers Chang and Lawrence, he paced around to the other side of Rose’s bed and sat down in the chair I’d slept in the night before. She was keeping up a brave front, given how difficult it was for her to listen to us discussing her past.
When Harry was done, Healer Lawrence nodded slowly and then began to explain his findings regarding Rose’s scars and the dark magic behind them.
“So the fact that she’s got a prophecy attached to her is the reason why she survived this curse?” Ron shook his head in awe.
“Actually, it’s the other way around,” the elder Healer explained. “A prophecy can’t make you survive a curse or live through death - the prophecy just predicted that she was the mother of the child - Rose is the strong one, surviving of her own accord.”
“But I’m not -”
“You can’t deny it any longer Rose - you’re tough. As tough as they come, actually,” Healer Chang conjured another chair and sat herself down next to Ron, so she could address Rose directly. I really appreciated it, because it made it seem like Rose was part of the conversation, instead of us talking over her lying in the hospital bed.
“Hold on,” Healer Lawrence put his hands up. “Do you have reason to believe that Stannous knew about this prophecy? I mean, before you or any of the Ministry realized it could have been about Rose?”
“Actually, yes. We’ve reason to believe that it was circulating underground for many years. It was even recorded in The Department of Mysteries, but it was during the time when making prophecies about the war heroes were rampant - and it was unfortunately disregarded. But someone obviously took notice.”
“So it doesn’t actually say Rose’s name, it just mentions a red-headed witch born from the golden trio?” The Healer pressed on.
Harry cleared his throat. He never did like that title. “Yes,” he said plainly.
“Then my bet is L’erge Stannous had to prove that Rose was ‘the one.’ Obviously he’s amassed a following - if the events of The Quaffle are any indication. But I imagine he had to provide some sort of proof to the others that he knew what he was doing.”
“Rose,” I looked at her from my seat next to Ron. “That’s why he let you go. In Hogsmeade, I mean. He simply needed to show the others that you were the one from the prophecy. You survived that horrid curse and he knew that you were strong. Strong enough to be the mother of the next most powerful wizard.” She nodded and I pressed a kiss into her hair. A wordless reinforcement of the promise I’d made. He will not get to you again.
“This explains a lot,” Harry commented quietly. “Aphis, what can you tell us about Rose’s fall and her heart condition from yesterday?”
“Well, the fall didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary and Rose doesn’t have any recollection of how she slipped or what happened. It’s fairly common in pregnancy to lose your balance as your center of gravity is shifted. But,” he cleared his throat and looked down before continuing, “Your heart palpitations were also caused by dark magic. A curse called dekompensirana sŭrdechna na skorostta. It’s a curse nestled in Bulgarian roots. I’ve only seen it a handful of times in my career. Until now, no patient has survived. As I’ve said, I have an extensive background in Healing Dark Magic.”
“It would appear, Healer Lawrence that someone else in this hospital is rather well versed in Dark Magic Spells as well.” Ron cut in, his voice cold and his eyes hard, piercing into the older man’s countenance and challenging his ability to keep order within his own jurisdiction.
“Yes, Senior Auror Weasley, you are correct,” Healer Lawrence grumbled. “No one but medical personnel had access to Rose’s room once she was admitted, so either it was one of the staff - or someone posing as one. It would also appear that the proper cure for this curse isn’t rooted in spells or potions. Healer Cooper was the one who discovered the actual cure. I need to apologize to you, Rose,” he looked directly at her for the first time since our conversation began. He struggled to form his next sentence and fumbled with the hem of the pocket on his Healer robes.
“Ahem… Y-yesterday, I wasn’t the best Healer in the room. You have my word that there will be no administrative action taken against Healer Cooper. In fact, if she hadn’t already chosen obstetrics as her specialty, I’d be encouraging her to pursue a career in Dark Magic healing. But rest assured, I’ve got plenty of backup...”
That was good news about Selenia, but Ron didn’t seem to be won over so easily. “This isn’t over yet,” he rose from his chair and let his hands tuck into his robes. “I’m not convinced that she’s safe here.”
I had to agree with him on this point. And while I had no intention of going anywhere while Rose was still in hospital, I wasn’t exactly sure what the solution would be.
“What if we worked together on this?” Harry suggested flatly, his lips curled downward. He too, was reigning in his impatience with the head Healer’s giant ego. “At minimum, we can provide some additional security to your staff. We’ll put an Auror guard outside Rose’s door and another plain clothes auror in the waiting room - at the end of the hall. I’m sure your hospital security have many important posts to cover that require some specialization. I wouldn’t want to put a strain on your system.”
Ron opened his mouth to protest and I could see where he was coming from. Two additional Aurors didn’t seem like much. But Harry had a tactic going here. If he made it seem like he was asking Healer Lawrence for permission, it might go a bit smoother. The end goal was to keep Rose safe and Harry was willing to take the high road instead of flexing his Ministry muscles and doing more damage to the already tenuous relationship.
“That sounds reasonable,” Healer Lawrence agreed. “I’ve got to keep my security personnel assigned to their original stations. If you need to add more Aurors, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Thank you, Aphis. And I won’t be putting any staff here without letting you and your security team know first.”
Wow. It worked. Harry now had free reign to assign Aurors to duty in St.Mungo’s with no interference. That was impressive leadership.
By the time Al had come around with Selenia, our little meeting was over and Healers Lawrence and Chang had set off to see other patients.
It took a few minutes to convince Albus that Healer Lawrence really did know what he was doing - despite his poor bedside manner. Al was still upset over Selenia’s treatment the day before. However, in the end, Selenia convinced him that this was the best thing for Rose and there was no harm done since the investigation against her would not ensue.
Once that was all settled, Harry and the Auror department kicked into high gear trying to figure out how Rose could have been hexed in broad daylight at St. Mungo’s. She’d been unconscious when James brought her in, so she couldn’t remember what happened. In fact, she couldn’t remember anything since the afternoon of the day before.
After interviewing all of the relevant hospital staff, we still couldn’t conclude anything. It was very frustrating. Harry placed an Auror on guard duty outside her door, two plain clothes Aurors in the waiting area and another three to sit duty at each of the hospital entrances.
“Scorpius, you need to go home and rest – at least for a little while,” by early afternoon Selenia was trying to convince me to leave and catch up on some sleep.
“So do you ‘Lenia,” Al said, rubbing her back. He’d been doing the same to her. “I swear to Merlin, the two of you are the most stubborn set of magical people I’ve ever come across.” Al was shaking his head at both of us. Selenia and I exchanged a glance, both of us smiling at his hypocrisy.
It wasn’t until Ginny and Hermione showed up with treacle tart for Rose that we finally agreed to go home for a short while. Ginny said that she and Hermione would stay with Rose and Teddy was the Auror on duty so there were plenty of people around to keep watch. Al had to go to training. I was excused for one more day, but would have return the next day – I couldn’t let myself worry about that, we only had about a week and a half until our S.N.A.K.E.s. Once those were through Auror-trainee pairs were to be handed out shortly afterward.
Arriving at Number Twelve, I apparated up to my room on the top floor. I wanted to change my clothes and grab some extras in case I needed to stay longer. I wouldn’t be sleeping in Regulus’s room anymore – I always slept better in Rose’s - erm our room. As I flicked on the light, something glinted and caught my eye on the bed. It was a picture frame. Rose had framed the parchment of the baby’s first picture and attached the ribbon so it hung down the side. It felt like it’d been years since I looked at it and I couldn’t tear my eyes away just like the first time I had seen it. My head felt heavy as the reality of the situation settled over me. I’d almost lost one or both of them - the two most important people in the world to me. Fatigue took over and I just barely made it to Rose’s room before I completely collapsed on the bed. Her pillow smelled like lavender shampoo. I breathed in deeply and fell asleep with the picture in my hand.
I only slept for a few hours – just long enough to not be completely exhausted. I knew that I wouldn’t get any real sleep until Rose was back home anyway, so I got up. I quickly showered and dressed and then grabbed a pair of Rose’s favorite pyjamas. My last stop was the kitchen. After I completed a few necessary tasks, I headed back to the hospital. As excited as I was to see Rose, I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling. Now that she was out of the woods, I needed to throw myself on my knees and beg forgiveness for my horrid treatment of her over the past few weeks.
I nodded to Stephens, the Auror on duty outside the room. Rose was sitting up and chatting with someone. As I entered, I realized that Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny were all there as well. I guess I didn’t have to worry about her safety. You really couldn’t get better protection than that.
Rose looked so much better. She was rested and smiling and… actually glowing. I leaned in to give her a quick kiss and she smiled at me and pulled at my hand. She didn’t let go so I waved to her family from across the room. I couldn’t believe how easily she’d forgiven me. Maybe this was an act – she’d been really angry with me on the night of our engagement party. Maybe she couldn’t remember the past three weeks because of her head injury. Either way, I knew we would be discussing it later.
I had prepared Rose’s favorite meal – fettuccini alfredo with tossed salad. Her Mum and Ginny and Harry excused themselves, but made enough for everyone and conjured a table with six chairs. Ron didn’t need asking twice. He was already sitting at the table and helping himself to a heaping pile of pasta. We had a nice, family meal and it reminded me of eating at home with my parents.
After dinner – the four of them finally excused themselves after we all enjoyed what was left of Ginny’s treacle tart. I was pleased to see that Rose ate a good meal and had dessert as well.
“Thanks, Scorpius,” Ron patted my shoulder. “That pasta was so filling, I know I’ll sleep well tonight,” he smiled. Ron Weasley actually smiled at me.
“Ron, when have you ever not slept well?” Hermione countered. “I swear, they could be blasting through rock and you would sleep through it!” She turned to Rose, “Good night, love. Rest well,” she said as she planted a kiss on Rose’s head. Why were they all acting normal? I’d been a complete tosser the past few weeks. I was sure they all knew it. I walked the four of them out of the room and turned to watch Rose vanishing the rest of the dinner dishes. It was just me and her in the room… alone.
“You look really well,” I commented to Rose, painfully aware that we were alone and both conscious for the first time since… the morning of her Healer appointment. Had it really been that long?
“Ro,” I blurted, “I’m so sorry. I know I’ve been a complete arse. A total twat.”
“Scorpius,” she interrupted, as she vanished the table and five of the chairs. “You’ve already apologized. We’re not going to discuss this anymore. You needed some time and we just need to move on. I’m not angry, just glad that you’re here with me.” She crossed the room to me and pulled at my hand like she’d done earlier, squeezing my fingers. Her blue eyes shining brighter than I could even remember.
“But-” I protested.
She shut me up by grabbing my shirt and pulling me to her. Our lips crashed together and it took me a moment to fall into the kiss. Merlin, I missed her. I missed us. My one arm encircled her waist and the other hand caught her curls, pressing her closer. A moan escaped from my lips as I got caught up in the sensation of our lips touching after so much lost time.
“Well… it seems some parts of you have recovered faster than others,” I said hoarsely, once I could breathe again.
She smiled and gracefully lowered herself onto the bed. She looked so content. She scooted over so I could sit next to her and we just talked. We caught up on what was going on in our training. She still didn’t know what specialty she wanted and was going to ask for an extension. I got the impression she didn’t want to put the decision on hold indefinitely. Her goal was to get started before the baby was born. I told her that I wasn’t too picky about which Auror I was paired with for my apprenticeship. I was definitely more worried about my S.N.A.K.E.s, as they were coming up shortly, but I had been doing a lot of studying, so I felt ready for the written part. The practical wasn’t really something you could study for, so that made me more nervous. They just shot spell after spell at you to see what you could handle in a defense situation.
We talked for hours and Rose started to get sleepy. I settled into the chair next to her and she snuggled into bed. I couldn’t wait until we were back at home – together. It would feel like we were more of a family. The stress of the past few weeks finally began to lift and, at long last, I started to relax slightly and drifted off myself.
It wasn’t easy to sleep in a hospital chair, especially since the window on the door let in so much light from the hallway. I drifted in and out of rest, having the oddest dreams. I vaguely remember seeing the Auror on duty change shifts at midnight. A set of medi-wizards came in to check on Rose a few hours after that. She didn’t have the monitor bubble hooked up to her anymore, so they had to use their wands to determine hers and the baby’s heart rates, as well as other vital signs.
From my half-conscious state, I could hear them whisper as they entered the room. “You take the boyfriend, I’ve got Weasley.”
You take the boyfriend?! My head was lying sideways against the top of the chair. I didn’t move it but opened my eyes a crack. They weren’t medi-wizards – they had on dark robes – and masks. They were moving quickly around the room – one of them headed for me, the other one leaning over Rose.
“Diffindo!” I stood and shouted at the one hovering over my fiancee. He blew back away from the bed and slammed into the wall next to the door. While his comrade was staring at the fallen wizard, I instantly turned and shouted “Expelliarmus!” at the one headed toward me. Catching his wand with my free hand, I added “Stupefy!” to be sure he was incapacitated. I twisted back toward the first bloke to confirm I’d got him good. He was slumped sideways between the wall and the floor. The door flew open and the light flashed on. My eyes blinked to adjust to the brightness. My heart plummeted into the pit of my gut. With every blink I saw more dark cloaks and masks pouring into the room.
Death Eater after Death Eater after Death Eater.
A/N: First off - my PROFUSE apologies for the lateness of this update. I'm so irked with myself about it. But I really wanted to get this chapter just right as there are some epiphanies happening.
Secondly... whaddya think?
dekompensirana sŭrdechna na skorostta is Bulgarian for "uncontrolled beating heart."
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