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Impact by R o s m e r t a
Chapter 22 : Visitation
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 24


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{lyrics: Fall Out Boy / Miss Missing You}

*          *          *          *          *

I had no recollection of getting to the Leaky Cauldron, but when I was awoken a few hours later by the chink of bright sunlight falling between a pair of dingy curtains, I was tucked into a large, cosy, quite unfamiliar bed. Potter was curled up on the opposite side, as far away from me as possible. Except for shoes, we were both fully clothed. 

I slipped out of bed and into the tiny adjacent bathroom, where I splashed cool water on my face over and over and stared into the mirror. I looked like hell, obviously, but it wasn’t really my physical appearance I was considering, or even my appallingly powerful hangover. I was worried about the grief closing in on me, threatening to crush me now that I wasn’t under those flashing lights with tequila in my system and Potter’s steady hands on my waist. 

Before such thoughts could overwhelm me, I spun away and tiptoed back into the bedroom. Potter was still asleep, the lines of his handsome face smoothed out, the smarmy smirk usually directed toward me nowhere to be seen.

I definitely found him more attractive when he was unconscious.

I gazed at him for a while like a regular fangirl creep, the standard homicidal thoughts that occupied my mind in his presence conspicuously absent. Hell, he had been there for me last night. Even if it was just because I was his best friend's cousin. I still couldn’t wrap my brain around it.

I shook my head as if to clear it of all things Potter. If only. Quietly, I slipped on my jumper and trainers, then crept downstairs to order some food, coffee, and Hangover Potions for the pair of us. Mrs. Longbottom was more than happy to oblige, and piled a breakfast tray high with all sorts of victuals. By the time I returned to the room, tray in hand, Potter was yawning widely but awake, shoes on and hair even messier than usual.

We sat in silence for a while as Potter ate a few pieces of toast and I picked at some tomatoes. "So," he finally said, grimacing between sips of the violently orange drink that would assuage the worst of his hangover, "where are we going first today?"

I dropped my fork with a clatter and stared at him. "What do you mean, 'we'?"

He snorted and passed a hand through his inky black hair, somehow mussing it even further. "You can't possibly think I'm letting you deal with this shit alone."

Why was he always so annoying? "You don't need to babysit me, Potter."

"I never said I did, Greengrass."

I groaned in frustration. "Just go back to school, okay?"

"You know damn well I'm coming with you whether you like it or not."

I closed my eyes and sighed. I couldn't with the fighting right now. I just couldn't. "Why?"

I knew the answer before he even said it. "For the millionth time: you're my best mate's cousin. His sister, really. He cares about you more than anyone else in the world."

I swallowed, hard. "And you care about him."

"And I care about him," Potter confirmed.

I felt that strange clench in my stomach once again and my eyes fluttered open. "Whatever." I shoved the breakfast tray away and got to my feet. "Let's just go."

 *          *          *          *          *

The more I thought about talking to Scorpius, about discovering the truth, about being questioned myself, the more terrified I became. I settled on visiting St. Mungo's first.

I couldn’t escape the Leaky Cauldron without Mrs. Longbottom fussing over my apparently inappropriate attire and forcing one of Ally’s old parkas and her own scarf on me. Once she released us, we walked, as much because I craved the brisk morning air as I hated travelling by Floo. Potter ambled along at a pace that far outstripped the speed at which my comparatively short legs could carry me. When I complained, he slowed to a near-crawl, lagging behind me and whistling tunelessly all the while. Git. At least my irritation at his antics served to distract me from the cacophony of emotions clamoring inside me.

We stated our business to the old dummy stationed in the enormous window of the abandoned department store and stepped through the glass pane into the hospital. A different, much older Welcome Witch was seated at the desk this time. She croaked her condolences (had Aunt Tori known every bloody employee in this damned place?) and informed me that Uncle Draco’s room was on the fourth floor because “we didn’t know where else to put ‘im.” I found this somewhat concerning but she assured me Healer Fawcett would answer any questions. I thanked her and, leaving Potter sitting in a rickety wooden chair and looking rather perturbed by the lady next to him who had somehow sprouted an elephant trunk, trudged up the nearby staircase the Welcome Witch had indicated.

When I reached the fourth floor, I found myself in a narrow hallway lit with what appeared to be floating bubbles full of candles. A placard on the closest wall informed me that this was the “Spell Damage” corridor, and a card in a brass holder beneath that designated Shoshanna Fawcett as Healer-in-Charge. “Looking for someone in particular, or do you generally loiter at sickbeds for kicks?”

I jumped and turned to find a gorgeous, raven-haired woman grinning at me. She wore bright pink lipstick and was chewing her gum rather ostentatiously as she fanned herself with a clipboard; if she hadn’t been sporting the lime green uniform, I never would have guessed her to be a Healer. “What? No, I—sorry, um,” I spluttered, “I’m here to see my uncle.”

“Does this uncle have a name, perchance?”

 “Malfoy. Draco Malfoy.”

 Her smile didn’t falter as she gave me the once-over. “You have Astoria’s nose.”

 I shifted uncomfortably. “I suppose so. She’s—well, she was,” I corrected myself with a pang somewhere around my stomach, “my mum’s sister.”

“Ah.” The woman nodded. “I thought so. I had a few classes with Daphne back at Hogwarts. Fun gal. What a tragedy.” She said nothing about the tragedy of Aunt Tori being murdered in her own home as she turned away. “Well, I expect you’d best follow me, Daphne’s daughter.” She flashed me another cheeky grin over her shoulder. “I’m Healer Fawcett, by the way. I’m the one who’ll be taking care of your uncle.”

Unsurprisingly, this little declaration did little to alleviate my concerns for Uncle Draco. I certainly hoped Healer Fawcett took her job more seriously than she let on; at the moment, she seemed little more than an overgrown child playing at being a medical professional. Nevertheless, I trailed after her down the corridor, trying my best to ignore the intermittent wails coming from various rooms that we passed. Despite the fact that she wasn’t much taller than me, Healer Fawcett moved rather quickly; I was panting by the time I caught up with her at the other end of the hallway, dread coiling in my stomach. She was studying her clipboard and tapping her foot impatiently while she waited.

“Right. The Mediwizards who ran your uncle’s tests brought him to Spell Damage because that seemed the most likely cause of his condition at the time.” She glanced up at me. “The coma, you know.” I nodded. “Best I can tell though, this is just your run-of-the-mill acute myocardial infarction. Heart attack,” she clarified upon seeing the confused look on my face.

“Heart attack?” I echoed numbly.

“Yep.” She popped the ‘P’ and consulted her clipboard once more. “Seems your uncle had fallen down the stairs; he had a broken leg and some bruises round the head as well before we fixed those up. Says here Magical Law Enforcement found Astoria’s body a few feet away. Their son claims he himself was knocked unconscious in the sitting room while waiting for his mum to bring him tea from the kitchen and his dad was upstairs working in the study. When”—Healer Fawcett squinted at the sheet of paper in front of her—“Scorpius? O-kay, then. When ‘Scorpius’ came to, his mum and dad were on the floor of the sitting room, dead and unconscious, respectively.” She let out a low whistle. “Whoa. Heavy.” She dropped the board and looked back up at me, apparently completely oblivious to my distress. “Here’s my theory: your uncle had some sort of preexisting heart condition you lot didn’t know about. As he was coming down the stairs, he spotted his dead wife and unconscious son, and the shock of it was too much strain on the old ticker.” She thumped her chest for emphasis. “He fell the rest of the way down and landed himself here. Any questions?”

I could do nothing but gape at her. Inability to process all this information aside—wasn’t there something called ‘bedside manner’ that this woman should be employing at this very moment? She gazed back at me, chipper as ever. I shook my head to try to clear it. I had approximately 57 billion questions, but Scorpius would have to be the one to answer most of them. “So…when will he wake up?”

Healer Fawcett shrugged. “Not sure. Might be that he won’t.” I couldn’t control my sharp intake of breath as I reflexively hugged myself in a feeble attempt to keep all those churning feelings inside me. “Luckily, he’s in good hands. Mungo’s prides itself on providing the best magical medical care in Britain, as I’m sure you well know from your aunt. Anything else?” I shook my head again, this time because I could think of nothing more to say; my brain was filled to the brim with Healer Fawcett’s seemingly offhanded comment. Might be that he won’t. “All right then, I expect you’d like to see him, so I’ll scarper. Just don’t expect him to be too responsive. Coma patients tend not to be.” She chuckled, failing to note my disturbance. “Flag me down if you need anything!” And with that, she was off, lime green robes billowing behind her as she raced back down the corridor.

I stared after her for a few moments as my mind whirled. I couldn’t fixate on any one thought too long, though. It was all too much. Finally, I pushed open the door to Uncle Draco’s room and slipped inside.

He was laying there in the semi-darkness, looking as peaceful as he ever did when he would drift off to sleep during long, hot summer days by the pool at the Manor. I approached the bed slowly, cautiously, reaching out a hand to smooth back a few unruly strands of white-blonde hair. It was impossible for me to comprehend that he might never come back to me; that he could possibly be so fragile. Uncle Draco, who used to heal all the scrapes and cuts I acquired as a child, who was so proud of me every time I aced an exam, when I got prefect. He wasn't perfect by any means, but he was the only father I'd ever known. He had always been there for me when I needed him. Suddenly, it didn't matter to me who my real father was; I only ever wanted my Uncle Draco.

I just needed him to wake up. 

I'd heard somewhere that coma patients can sometimes hear you talk to them; that it may help them recover somehow. So I started talking. I told him everything: about the duel with Potter, Theo's revelations, about Rose and Scorpius and how worried I was about my cousin. I squeezed Uncle Draco's hand as I spoke, hoping against hope that I'd feel something, anything in return.

There was nothing. I supposed I couldn’t say that Healer Fawcett hadn’t warned me.

Empty, exhausted, I kissed Uncle Draco's forehead. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” I whispered to him before leaving. I walked slowly along the corridor back toward the waiting room, head full of worries, barely recognising the sounds coming from the depths of other patients' rooms. Somewhere a woman was moaning pathetically, zaps of magical energy issued from wands unseen, and an angry-sounding man raised his voice as I passed a door standing slightly ajar. When his words finally registered in my brain, I came to an abrupt halt. 

"...let yourself be bested by a Malfoy, the worthless scum! And this one doesn't even have his father's wits or cunning! He's a Gryffindor, for Salazar's sake! And the way he cavorts so proudly with that Potter boy—"

I pressed myself against the wall closest to the open door. I had a pretty good inkling of whose room this was even before I heard Silas's weak interjection. "Father, please—" Relief flooded through me at the sound of his voice; he had survived the worst of Scorpius’s curse.

"How many generations of Malfoys are we going to allow to humiliate us?" I could hear Mr. Avery's relentless pacing now.
 
"Father, I don't see how—"
 
"Have you forgotten, then, that it was this Scorpius's cowardly, treacherous, good-for-nothing grandfather who sent your own grandfather to Azkaban? Or that Scorpius's father did the same to your uncle? That I myself only narrowly escaped that cruel fate through your mother's connections and my own timely and generous donations to the right causes?"
 
"How can I have forgotten, Father, when you remind me so frequently?" Silas was starting to seem a bit more like his surly self, though it still sounded like he was making an enormous effort to even speak. 
 
"You dare to sass me, boy?" Mr. Avery roared menacingly. Silas remained silent. "That's what I thought," his father said, clearly satisfied. "At least they all appear to have gotten what was coming to them," he added, a slight sneer in his voice. I clenched my jaw as a passionate hatred for this unknown, unseen man washed through me. "And we've hardly even discussed the Greengrass girl—"
 
"What about her?" Silas asked sharply, a note of defiance was creeping into his voice once more. 
 
"Is she not the reason you were attacked by her cousin? And if Theo Nott won't claim the girl as his own, she's likely not even a pureblood!" The disgust in Mr. Avery's voice was palpable. I wrapped my arms around myself as the back of my neck heated and shame inexplicably flooded through me.  
 
"What does that have to do with anything?" Silas demanded. 
 
His father was quiet for a few moments, then gave a soft, cruel laugh. "Oh, I see what this is." I leaned closer as his voice grew more hushed. "You've gone soft. You fancy the filthy little halfblood!" Silas was silent, and Mr. Avery let out another mirthless chuckle. "Let you get in her robes, did she, son? A whore just like her mother, I would imagine—"
 
"Enough!" I jolted at the volume of Silas's outburst. He sounded truly angry now. "Don't talk about her like that!"
 
Shock and fury were evident in Mr. Avery's tone. "You will not speak to me that way, Silas! What has happened to you? Did that curse damage your brain as well? Family pride and blood purity have always mattered to you—"
 
"No, Father, they've always mattered to you." Silas sounded weary, but his voice was steady, firm. "And look at me now, look at all that has happened, simply because I have accepted your convictions so blindly!"
 
"You have no one to blame but yourself and your own idiocy—"

"You're right," Silas cut in again. "Scorpius has never done anything to our family or to me that I didn't deserve. Cecily is beautiful and enigmatic and kind no matter her blood status." For some reason, his words set my heart aflutter. "She saved my life, Father, despite the fact that I've treated her and her cousin like dirt." He took a deep breath. "So I will not carry on these old prejudices for you any longer."
 
There was a pause. "Is that so?" His father's voice was pure ice. 
 
"Yes, it is," Silas replied just as coldly. 
 
His father was silent for a long time. Then he said, very quietly, "Do not bother coming home for the holidays. You are no son of mine." I came to my senses just in time to scramble away and conceal myself in the adjacent doorway as Mr. Avery stalked out of Silas's room and down the corridor. The barest glimpse of his face—the hardened eyes, the cruel set of his mouth—made me shudder.

I heaved a few breaths, heart racing, as I considered everything I'd just heard. Slowly, I made my way back to my post and peeked round the corner. Silas was laying in a bed not unlike Uncle Draco's, dark eyes fixed on the ceiling as a lone tear slid down his pale, newly scarred face. A large part of me wanted to go to him, to comfort him, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt that he might need some time to himself just then, anyway. 
 
Potter was waiting where I'd left him. Silently, we made our way toward the exit. His hand brushed against mine as we walked, sending inexplicable tingles up my spine. 
 
*          *          *          *          *
 
A different yet no less harassed-looking guard was stationed outside the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry. The crowd, however, seemed to have thinned out a bit; it was mostly reporters and a few scattered camera operators. Potter’s hand rested lightly on the small of my back so that we wouldn’t get separated as I wrestled my way through the crowd, a gesture I found profoundly unnerving until he used that hand to grip my waist tightly at one point when I tripped over a rogue tripod and nearly went tumbling to the ground. I felt Rita Skeeter’s crawling gaze studying me once more as Potter and I identified ourselves to the watch-wizard and folded into the cramped telephone booth.
 
I let Potter take charge procuring our visitors’ badges. Being crammed into such a small area with him reminded me uncomfortably of the previous night, when our writhing, sweaty bodies had been pressed together and his hands were planted so firmly on my hips. I sucked in my stomach and tried to take up the least amount of space possible. As if reading my mind, Potter gave me a knowing smirk and leant against the wall closest to me. I scowled at him in return. I could feel the flush creeping up the back of my neck by the time we burst out of the booth into the cool Atrium of the Ministry.
 
Potter was familiar with the watch-wizard at the far end of the Atrium, who directed us to the tenth floor and told me that another guard would be there to escort me to Scorpius’s cell. I shuddered at the idea of my cousin locked away in some dark corner of the Ministry, but nodded and made my way to the lifts. When we reached level nine—the lift didn’t go as far as ten—Potter led the way to a door marked ‘KEEP OUT—EMPLOYEES ONLY’ and started to push it open. “Potter!” I hissed. “We can’t go in there!”
 
He glanced at me, unperturbed. “It’s a shortcut.”

“It says we’re not allowed in!”
                                              
Potter rolled his eyes. “Really, Greengrass? It’s okay to break a rule or two every once in a while. They’re not going to arrest us.”
 
I glared at him. “There may be a place and a time for rule-breaking—”
 
“So you admit it.” He smirked.
 
I ground my teeth together and did my best to ignore him. “—but I can say with absolute certainty that it is not at the fucking Ministry of Magic while visiting my incarcerated cousin!”
 
We continued to bicker as we made our way down the hall to the door described by the watch-wizard, and only stopped when we reached the bottom of the stairwell to level ten and found another security desk. Rose's mother was there, looking as exhausted as I felt, but she gave me a brave smile as Potter and I approached her. If she was surprised to see her nephew at my side, her face didn't betray it. Mrs. Weasley informed me that she managed to obtain special dispensation for me to have a short visit with Scorpius, and the guard whisked me away even before I could properly express my gratitude, leaving both her and Potter behind. “Greengrass!” Potter called after me. I turned back and gave him an inquisitive look. “Tell Scorp I said, ‘Yo dude, what’s shakin’?,’ okay?”
 
“I will do no such thing,” I informed him.
 
The guard led me along a maze of corridors, each more dim and depressing than the last. Finally, we reached a long row of cells. The Ministry only really used this sort of in-house prison for underage wizards or those awaiting trial, so most of them were empty. Scorpius was on the very end, sporting an oversized purple jumpsuit and looking tired and drawn. My heart went out to him immediately. “Scorp!”

“Oh, thank Godric, Cee-Cee!” He rushed over and reached a shaking hand through the bars, which I latched onto at once. The guard mumbled something about giving us some privacy and shuffled away.
 
As I looked at my cousin, I felt such a rush of emotions that I didn’t even know what to say. “Potter—er—sends his regards,” I told Scorpius. “He’s here, too.”
 
Scorpius gave me a curious look. “Like, you guys came here together?”
 
“Yeees,” I said slowly.
 
He blinked at me stupidly. "And you're not fighting?"
 
"Of course we're fighting!” I hissed.

"Oh, good," he said, and the git actually looked relieved. "For a second there I thought maybe Mercury was in retrograde or something, then I'd really be fucked—"
 
"Scorpius!"

"Sorry, Ceci, I just—Godric, I can't keep thinking about this. It's making me crazy! I'm locked in here because they think I killed Mum, for fuck's sake, and she's...dead," he choked out the last word, as if he was scarcely able to believe it. I knew I still couldn't; I hadn’t even yet considered allowing myself to grieve for my aunt. "And Dad—"
 
"He's in a coma, he may pull out of it yet," I told him. "He wasn't attacked, you know; they just think he found the pair of you and had a heart attack from the shock."
 
“Well, thank Godric for that, I suppose,” Scorpius mumbled.
 
I took a deep, shaking breath. “Look, I understand if you don’t want to talk about this because I’m sure you’ve already vetted it out with Mrs. Weasley and the Aurors about a billion times but I have to know…what the hell happened, Scorp?”
 
He sighed and extricated his hand from mine only to run it through his hair, then clenched my fingers tightly once more. “There’s really not much I can tell you,” he began. “We were all in the sitting room at first. Mum and Dad were yelling at me about what a lout I am, then Dad went upstairs to do some work and Mum went to make us all some tea. I was still on the couch, thinking about how stupid I’d been, when something hit me on the back of the head. Hard.” He reached up to touch the spot and winced. “Someone must have snuck into the house and clobbered me. I guess I was knocked out, because next thing I knew Mum and Dad were both sprawled on the floor of the sitting room…” Scorpius’s voice broke, and his eyes filled with tears. I squeezed his hand while he recuperated a bit. “I tried to revive them but of course I had no idea what I was doing so I Flooed over to St. Mungo’s and yelled for help.”
 
“That was really smart,” I murmured encouragingly.

Scorpius gave me a weak smile in return before continuing. “When the Mediwizards came in and saw the state of things, they insisted on summoning the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol. Before I knew it, they’d carted me off here.” He sighed again and ran both hands through his hair, over and over, clenching it in his fists. “Everyone’s asking me all these insane questions and I don’t know what happened any more than they do. My head just won’t stop spinning.”

“I know the feeling.” Christ, I hated seeing him in so much pain and feeling so goddamned helpless.
 
"I'm so fucking scared, Ceci," he whispered, eyes brimming with tears again. "I could go to Azkaban. They're only keeping me here because I'm not of age—"
 
I grabbed his hand through the bars again. "Listen to me. You are not going to Azkaban. You're innocent. We'll get through this." Even though I haven’t the slightest clue how we’ll manage it. "Okay?"
 
He nodded, tears streaming down his face. My own eyes were swimming, but I didn't let go of my cousin until the guard returned to tell me my time was up. I started to trudge back down the corridor, unsure how much more I could take that day. “Cee?” Scorp called after me.

I turned to look at him. “Yeah?”
 
“Tell Al I said, ‘‘Sup brah, what’s crackalackin’?’”

I rolled my eyes. Boys.

By the time we returned to the security desk, Potter and Rose’s mum were accompanied by a tall, slender man I’d only met on a couple of occasions prior. He was almost a perfect, if slightly older, clone of his now-scowling son, his distinctive glasses and lightning bolt-shaped scar marking the only real differences between the two. “Hullo, Cecily,” Mr. Potter greeted me. “I need to ask you a few questions about your family.”


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