Chapter 2 : Chapter 2
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Author’s note: Hi guys! Thank you so much for all the kind reviews, I’m really excited to continue this story. I had to be away for a while but I’m back now, so this story will steadily be updated once a week.
Rose introduces three subplots in this chapter as it’s mostly written from her point of view, all of which will influence the main plot revolving around her and Scorpius.
I hope you enjoy :)
Rose is always busy. Busy, busy, busy.
Busy tending to patients between the Emergency Room and the Incurables’ Ward, busy dividing her time between the several projects she has in hands for her investigative research and her responsibilities to her patients as a Resident Healer, and busy dealing with the chaos that are her friends and family.
Really, she rarely has time for herself. Her life seems to be running around from one place to another these days, but Rose is okay with that. In fact, it’s what she’s wanted for a while now: a steady, mostly fulfilling job that keeps her occupied whenever her friends and family can’t. It’s the only way her mind can’t catch up with memories and thoughts buried deep down.
So, like most of her shifts go, Rose finds herself in the Potions room this afternoon, constantly moving from one cauldron to another, exploring every corner of every cabinet as she looks for some new ingredient she can add in, reading the most controversial works in search for a cure while desperately not letting herself dwell too much in the main reason for her to be there.
Everything should be okay if Rose can just find a way to save her.
Astoria Malfoy, one of the kindest, purest women Rose is lucky enough to ever have met.
Astoria Malfoy, beautiful wife of Draco Malfoy, who has become as much a part of Rose’s family as Astoria herself, at least where Rose is concerned.
Astoria Malfoy, the older woman closest to Rose after her own mother and her aunt Ginny. A role model. In ways, a best friend.
Astoria Malfoy, an old soul.
Astoria Malfoy, loving mother of…
Nope, Rose thinks to herself, not going there.
To ensure that her thoughts don’t get away from her - even if, she knows, they will anyway -, Rose focuses more intently on the book before her, the most recent addition to her personal library. The title shines through, the gold lettering contrasting with the deep, dark green of the cover, “The wonders of the herbal world: feats and tricks of the wise” mocking her.
Rose had acquired the book in a desperate attempt to try something new. Even though she’s well aware that the work is a compendium of real life experiences of several well-known wizards and witches, and thus a lot of the reports just have to be exaggerated or fabricated entirely for publicity purposes (she certainly doubts that Gregory Davenport, former Head of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes and a total idiot in need of acknowledgment from the public - Merlin knows he wasn’t getting it from the Ministry and with good reason -, really decided to eat the leaves of an entire Flutterby bush - recently discovered to be highly poisonous - and lived to tell the tale unscathed), Rose hopes that maybe one or two accounts may have a little bit of truth in them, and so they might give her something else to explore. Something new that she can study. Something that will give her the cure that Rose so wants to find.
She doesn’t know if she has much time. With a typical, everyday curse, it’s already hard to predict a course of action most times even if finding a cure is doable; it’s within the realms of possibility.
With Incurables, who’s to say?
Who is Rose, more than anyone who preceded her? What does she have that’ll bring her closer to finding a solution than any Healer or Potioneer before her?
Feeling her eyes well with familiar tears, Rose bitterly grabs the book and shoves it into her purse that’s on top of her assigned desk on the other side of the room, saving it for later. The little free time she does have has been all to her research lately, and tonight will be no different.
Rose glances over at the large clock on the wall to realize that rounds are about to start, and so it’s the perfect time to talk to Astoria about the personal issue they’ve been discussing over the past week. Since visiting hours aren’t starting until later, when Draco will surely be around, and because her shift for the day is ending in an hour, Rose looks over her shoulder to make sure that none of her colleagues are paying attention to what she’s doing.
She’s quick to retrieve a rectangular shaped box from inside her purse. Non-verbally casting the Colovaria spell and making sure that the box now looks ordinary enough as it changes from its blue color to a bland, inconspicuous white (while most wizards still disregard the Muggle world and almost everything about it, someone in the building ought to recognize a standard pregnancy test if they see one), Rose shoves it into her pocket and gets to work.
Briefly sitting, Rose scribbles down a few comments on the current status of the three main potions she’s working on, annotations that she’ll leave for the colleagues who will take over the next shift so they can keep an eye on things while she’s not there. Making a mental note to add Chizpurfle carapaces to one of the potions tomorrow if it keeps evolving as Rose expects it to, the redhead moves on to another task.
With a flick of her wand, little vials with contents of various colors, as well as medical supplies, float around the room to rest on the silver tray beside her, and Rose waits until she’s sure it has everything she’ll need for her rounds. Known for always being prepared, Rose takes great enjoyment in ensuring that she not only looks after their medical needs, but also her patients’ personal ones. A sane mind is just as important as physical health, and like so the silver tray also bears a few sugary treats, a book and a magazine, joined by a couple of pillows that Rose levitates to follow her around.
Listening to the hallways coming to life with Healers and Nurses starting to busy themselves with their rounds, no doubt, Rose picks up the tray and heads for the corridor, making a right for Timmy’s room.
Timmy is a sweet four year old boy that had the misfortune of being hit by a stray spell from a baby who couldn’t control his magic. As a result, the young boy’s memory keeps erasing every time he goes to sleep, and only his recollection of everything that happened before the incident stayed intact. To make matters worse, every time the boy tries too hard to recall his memories and his mind fights him, nasty looking burns seem to erupt all over his skin. Albeit small in size, perhaps just smaller than a knut, the rashes hurt Timmy to the point of passing out from the pain.
Worse still, is that the boy is a Muggle whose mother died after birth, whose dad was and still is considered a bastard to his wife’s family, and whose grandparents are either away - on his father’s side - or uncaring for the child altogether - on his mother’s.
The incident happened after Ryan Bixby had left his son at the care of their neighbors, who have a kid just a little younger than Timmy, while he had to run to work for an emergency shift. His son had stayed with them before so really, Ryan never suspected something of the sort could happen. But had he known the other family was magical, maybe he wouldn’t have left Timmy there. Had he known, perhaps it would be easier to accept now that magic existed, that he had to visit his son everyday in a magical hospital so unlike his own, that it seemed impossible to every Healer but Rose that Timmy could ever recover.
The man was miserable, to put it mildly. Not only had he lost the love of his life when she gave them their son, he’d been left to raise the boy on his own while working as a nurse on one of the busiest local hospitals. Trying his hardest at parenthood, Ryan was completely devastated about what had happened, and no one seemed capable of giving him answers that could appease his mind.
There isn’t a hint of magic in their ancestry that Rose could find, and so she can’t be sure why the spell had such a strong effect on little Timmy and still keeps affecting him so strongly. But that’s the risk with baby wizards and witches, she knows, with their uncontrolled magic, added to the risk of exposing Muggles to magical children at such an young age. Timmy never really stood a chance.
Makes the choice of wanting, or not, to have children of her own all the more difficult for Rose, especially when she’d always thought that by now she’d already be a mother, or at least well on her way to it. Having developed an affection towards the little boy that even with her cousins Rose had never found before, not like this, Rose is just as determined to fix him up as she is to cure Astoria, despite how unbelieving her colleagues are that she’ll succeed.
Timmy has been at St. Mungus for almost two months now and has been Rose’s patient since day one, when the Edwards family came rushing in with the little boy to the Emergency Ward of St. Mungus where Rose was on call, terrified because the boy wouldn’t wake up and had been hit by a spell they didn’t recognize, his body marred with burn marks that seemed to be boiling on his skin. Ryan had only been brought in later.
Rose couldn’t ever, if she tried, forget that day. Not the panicking Edwards family, nor the wrecked looked on Ryan’s face when all that happened was explained to him, and of course never little Timmy’s body on the stretcher, so limp and helpless that it made her heart ache.
It still does, Rose realizes with a heavy sigh, when she enters his private room now and sees how his skin is stained by scars that Rose isn’t so sure will go away, or how confused the boy looks when he spots her. It’s bittersweet, she thinks, that the boy always has a smile for her because he likes having visitors, and yet he can never remember her. Beside him, Ryan sits in an armchair, in his hands several different color pencils that he holds out to his son.
When Ryan’s eyes meet hers today, Rose sees nothing but void and she gulps, knowing that the man is on the verge of breaking down entirely.
Just another tragedy waiting to happen.
Rose is quick to fill in the silence, afraid of what’s to come of it. “I see you’re up,” Rose greets them with a kind smile. Closing the door behind her before the pillows come in levitating after her and leaving the silver tray on a cart just outside, keeping a single licorice wand on herself, Rose steps further into the room. “Did you have a good nap, Timmy?”
The boy looks up, eyes wide when he glances at his father as if asking for permission to reply to the stranger. Ryan looks up at Rose, trying his best to return the smile with one of his own but only managing what looks like a grimace, running a hand through his son’s hair and nodding in encouragement.
Timmy, ever a lively four year old despite the predicament he’s in, embarks in a fantastical, babbling tale about the dream he’s had, and for a moment both Rose and Ryan forget all that is wrong and why the little boy is there. The story he seems so engaged in telling is magical, for the lack of a better description, and the boy comes alive narrating it, filling the room with a joyous purity that’s hard to let go of.
Until, that is, the little boy asks Rose “Are you my doctor? What is your name?” so innocently that no matter how excited he had been just a moment ago, and how curious he always is to meet new members of the hospital staff like it’s happened since he got there, Rose’s blood runs cold and she can’t help the sadness that overcomes her. Sharing a glance with Ryan, she knows he feels as helpless in that moment as she does.
She swallows the lump in her throat. “Yes, I am. My name is Rose.”
“Like the flower?,” he asks in astonishment.
In a way, Rose hates that the boy always asks her that. “Indeed.”
“Cool,” Timmy whispers in wonder, and Rose knows it’s because he’s never met anyone else with such a kind of name before her, and he can never remember meeting Rose.
She forces her smile to stay on her lips. “Tell me, Timmy. What are you drawing?”
The question and the ones that follow are mostly for the boy to focus on a response and, on a deeper level, to try and get him to remember what happened before he fell asleep since only his memories from before the incident seem to remain untouched. It’s also a good distraction for Timmy not to notice Rose performing the routinely charms that check on his vitals, even if she does so without her wand, and to miss Rose dipping a licorice wand into an invigorating Potion when she steps outside for just long enough.
Rose replies to the little boy in kind, shooting another question here and there but mostly letting Timmy take over the conversation so that she can assess his neurological condition better. When she’s finished, her eyes don’t hide the mischief behind them. “And have you behaved, Timmy? Have you been a good boy to your father today?”
“I think so,” the boy replies, his confusion noticeable when he tries to remember all that he’s done that day.
Rose smiles genuinely and holds the treat behind her back, pointedly standing before the bed for Timmy to notice. “I hope you’re telling the truth, Timmy.”
His eyes widen and he leans on his side a little, trying to take a peak at what Rose is hiding. “What do you have there?”
Rose laughs wholeheartedly at his perkiness when Timmy hurries to kneel on the bed, his hands moving everywhere because he doesn’t know what to do with them. “Oh, I don’t know,” Rose mumbles, feigning ignorance.
Timmy catches his father’s eyes, looking for an ally. “Daddy, I’ve been a good boy. Tell Miss Rose.”
Ryan Bixby isn’t used to, Rose thinks, be an outwardly affectionate man, but Timmy is his Achilles heel, so when his son calls for him Ryan smiles affectionately and nods, even if his eyes tremble with the effort of not letting his tears fall. “He has,” the man lets out, sounding tired. “Timmy did very well today.”
The boy beams with the support like the proud daddy’s boy that he is, and Rose can see Ryan break inside, can see the light dim a little more behind his eyes whenever he’s faced with the truth that his boy might never recover.
As much as she loves her job, Rose wishes it was easier sometimes, hopes that she wasn’t such an over-achiever that the worst, most difficult cases were assigned to her. Often times, she doesn’t know how she stomachs it all, how she can compartmentalize every emotion that she feels. “Well, then if it’s true, I think you deserve a little something as a reward. Am I right?”
Timmy nods vigorously. “Yes, Miss Rose. Please.”
Rose can’t help the gentle caress on the boy’s cheek any more than her heart beating in her chest. “There you go,” she murmurs, handing him the licorice, hating that the boy won’t remember any of this tomorrow. Timmy grabs it and puts the sugary wand in his mouth instantly. “Now don’t tell the other doctors about it. It’ll be our little secret, alright?”
Timmy grins. “Thank you, Miss Rose,” he mumbles in between bites.
“You’re welcome. I’ll see you again tomorrow.” Rose almost wishes Timmy didn’t look so innocent when he waves her goodbye; it breaks her heart. “Mr. Bixby, can I see you outside for a minute, please?”
Ryan follows Rose into the hallway until they’re out of earshot, leaving the door ajar behind them. “How is he today? Any improvement?,” the man asks right away, eyeing Rose’s tray suspiciously.
Rose explains briefly that it’s unfortunately more of the same. So long as he isn’t straining to remember, everything seems to be fine with little Timmy. However when he focuses on memories lost, his body fights him and so far they still haven’t been able to reverse the effects of whatever damned spell he’s under. “This is the Potion of Vivid Dreaming,” Rose tells him, pointing towards a couple of vials with a curious orange liquid inside.
“What is it for?” Ryan asks with a grimace. Having learned a lot about the magical world in the past weeks, the man still isn’t too keen on anything he doesn’t really know about.
Rose tries to explain its effects and her theory on it in a way that she hopes is understandable for Ryan. Because memories often play a big part in dreams, Rose came up with a variant of the Potion of Dreamless Sleep that counters it, one that induces vivid dreams. The goal is to intensify the experience of dreaming enough that, subconsciously, Timmy may recall real memories that will carry on to his conscious state.
It comes with risks, of course, that Rose explains too. Not only is it an experimental potion that hasn’t been credited by the Ministry yet, so it requires parental consent, but also possible secondary effects haven’t been thoroughly studied due to the lack of viable subjects such as Timmy that can partake in trials. There’s also the possibility of occurring a vivid nightmare, should Timmy have one, and Rose isn’t sure what his response would be to that except that he would most likely be terrified.
Uneasy about the explanation and apprehensively asking about the rashes that appear in Timmy’s body whenever the spell manifests itself, Rose shows him a small jar with a light green concoction that she tells him it’s Essence of Vervain, that will ease the burning feeling and help with the healing of the scarred tissue.
Rose likes to think that she has a way with people. Everyone in her life has told her that, at some point or another, and she likes to think that it makes a difference. So when she explains to Ryan that she truly thinks this might be a step in the right direction, the man believes her sincerity and promises to think about giving her permission to go through with it.
Sparing another moment to ask him how he himself is doing and giving Ryan a Sleeping Draught to get some rest, Rose leaves the man with a new coloring book for Timmy and instructions to find a nurse during the night shift if he agrees to go through with the experimental treatment, so that he can sign the consent and the nurses can go through with it. A few words of encouragement offered, Rose goes on her way.
Usually, and despite being bittersweet, Rose walks away from Timmy’s room with a smile on her lips and a renewed hope in her capabilities. Other days, however, beat her down, and this is one of them.
She’s still confident that she’ll save the little boy and his small family, the same way she’s just resolute to save Astoria.
As she makes her way to room 478, Rose’s mind wanders to all the hours she has invested in research for both cases, to all the sleepless nights she spent in between books and ingredient cabinets and no good experimentations, loathing that so far she hasn’t made that much of a progress on either end.
She’s glad to have been made Resident Healer in the past year, though. It had been a strike of good luck, plus unwavering good faith from her mentor to be chosen for such an important position at such an young age, even if Rose had already baffled the board of St. Mungus several times with her incredible skills and hard work as a relentless researcher and kindness with her patients by then. Being given free reign to start her own research revolving Astoria’s condition hadn’t been all that hard, in truth, and Rose feels most grateful for it.
She wants Astoria to be healthy again, and safe, and the vibrant woman Rose met all those years ago. She wants to know that Astoria will garden again, wants to spend time with her outside the hospital once more, and to know that the woman can go home to her husband to maintain and strengthen their beautiful marriage. Rose wants Astoria to be happy and as loved as she should be, and for her to be here for Scorpius when he gets back. Rose wants Astoria alive more than anything, and not only for the woman and Draco and even herself, as Rose selfishly makes herself believe are the only reasons, but also for him.
Always for him.
Scorpius would be devastated if he was to return home only to find out that his mother had passed away, and while abhorring the idea, Rose knows there’s a very high probability of it happening and soon because of the curse. She just doesn’t know when that will be. Rose is stubbornly determined to believe that it’ll happen in the distant future, when Astoria has already had a happy, fulfilled life alongside her husband and son, and she hopes that by the time Scorpius gets back, Rose will be able to tell him that his mother is cured and that he’s got nothing to worry about.
Rose tries to push away thoughts of loss and Scorpius as she drags her feet down the corridors of the Incurables’ Wing with a heavy heart. By the time she reaches the nearest Nurses Station, Rose feels empty.
Leaving on their desk one of the pillows and her tray bar two of the vials, that she decides to take with her along with the magazine, Rose’s mind gets away from her. Passing a few gentle words to Nurse Goode, one of her favorite co-workers who happens to be grinning at her today with a glint in her eye that she can’t recognize, Rose continues on her way in a bit of a daze, lost in thoughts of Malfoys and little Timmy and her own concerns.
Her mind fixates on the box in her pocket and Rose worries, feeling it heavy on her lime green robe. The weight of what it entails pulls Rose forward with a renewed urge, wanting to meet with Astoria as soon as possible.
It always brings her so much joy to see Astoria, Rose can’t explain it. The woman is ethereally beautiful, and old soul, such a kindhearted spirit that just being around her uplifts Rose’s mood, even when she’s feeling down. Even in her worst days, when work hasn’t gone so well, or things with Michael are a bit more strained, or when her family is just being more of a pain than usual.
Astoria has listened to all of it. All of Rose’s hurt whenever she has lost a patient, to her ranting whenever Rose doubts if she and Michael are a good fit, to her frustration when her relatives do or say something that upset her.
And, of course, Scorpius.
Astoria has listened to everything Rose has ever shared about him in confidence, and she was surprised to find that Rose was just as good a listener every time she’d found herself in need of someone to hear her out, be it about her curse or her family or her Draco or Scorpius himself. Over the years of her son’s absence, the two women became close friends, they both like to think, and neither would honestly have it any other way.
Rose wonders if, in two months time, that will change when Scorpius gets back.
She wonders what else will.
Rose is distracted when she knocks on Astoria’s door, entering the private bedroom without another thought the same way she’s used to do. Truly, she only minds her manners with the older woman when she knows that Draco is around and visiting time isn’t until later, so Rose opens the door, vials in hand, the magazine tucked under her arm and the pillow still floating behind her.
Immediately closing the door behind her and placing the vials and the magazine down on top of a support table to her left, Rose takes a moment to gather her emotions and focus on her breathing. It’s not every day that seeing little Timmy gets to her but it’s getting harder, and now with the future probably written on the box in her pocket that she’s already starting to resent, Rose feels like she might be running against the clock to find Astoria a cure and it hurts her, the thought of possibly not being able to make everything right on time.
"I can’t wait to get home and read,” Rose comments with a tentative smile, glancing briefly over her shoulder at Astoria, who seems to be happier now than when she’d last seen her that morning. Rose can’t help the grin that forms on her own lips at that, something so simple lifting her mood a little. “I found a good book,” Rose continues, busying herself with getting Astoria’s medicine ready and missing the blond haired boy that’s sitting across the room entirely. “Or well, it’s not a good book but it’s promising, I think. It might give me a new perspective to work with, maybe something new I can try next.”
It’s rather nonsensical, with Rose being a doted potioneer and avid reader while Astoria has dedicated her life to botany, that neither has been able to come up with a viable solution to Astoria’s predicament. It has to be some kind of comical joke, or maybe some higher power trying to test them and what they’re made of, but Merlin be damned if Rose isn’t determined to see them succeed.
They have to.
“Rose, dear…” Astoria murmurs softly from the bed when she realizes that neither Rose has noticed Scorpius’ presence in the room, nor that her son is capable of forming coherent speech - if at all - since Rose walked into the room.
The redhead, however, interrupts Astoria before she can say anything else. “Oh, before I forget!” Rose reaches inside her pocket and retrieves the box from its hiding place. “I got it. I think we should do it toda-”
The words die on her tongue when Rose turns around and sees him.
The box falls to the floor before she can help it, the pillow following right behind when Rose loses he focus on the charm.
He looks just as she remembers him, and yet not quite so. When Scorpius nervously gets up from his seat, Rose realizes that he’s grown taller, if that’s at all possible. His hair looks different too, longer enough on the top of his head to make someone want to run their hands through it while being shorter on the sides. And sweet Merlin, it seems that he styles it now. And dresses better too, more maturely, and all of it together makes Scorpius look good, fits the image Rose always pictured of him whenever she was to see him again, only better.
Scorpius looks every bit a grown up now, and still his eyes and facial features are the very same she remembers, the same she fell in love with all those years ago.
She thought she had time. She wasn’t ready to see him again so soon.
Yeah, she wasn’t ready to hear his familiar, always intimate tone just for her either.
He seems to be just as astonished as Rose is to find him there, and yet the warmth of his eyes make it seem as if it’s perfectly logical that he wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly be anywhere else.
Rose feels as drawn in as she did back then.
What can she say to the boy that she initially couldn’t stand, then started to tolerate, then got to know and ended up falling in love with, only to have to let go off and not see again for a handful of years, and who is now back, standing in the very same room she’s in and looking every bit the man she always dreamed he’d become?
Rose apparently thinks it’s best not to say anything in face of the unknown, all the emotions and inner turmoil of the day wearing her out, when Scorpius crosses the room to stand right before her, so close that she can feel him everywhere as if every cell of his body is calling out to her. His breath tickles her cheeks when he speaks, he’s that close, and Rose loses all brain function.
Despite the mixed feelings about his departure and how they left things between them, Rose can’t deny the simplest, most basic thing.
She’s missed her best friend terribly, her lover, her twin flame. And now he’s here, and she couldn’t feel more thankful for it.
“Hi, Rose,” Scorpius repeats in a whisper because he can tell that her mind is somewhere else. His isn’t exactly there either. Not in the present, anyway, but rather reminiscing about the moments they shared in the past.
He’s always known how to read her, and she’s always loved that about him, even if at first she couldn’t understand it when it was something as elemental as second nature to him. “Scorpius…” Rose can’t bring herself to say much, her eyes never leaving his as if she’s afraid he’ll vanish into thin air if she dares to look away. “You’re here.”
Tears prickle her eyes and Scorpius’ stance softens, thinking of the last time they’d been together and how they’d both fought so hard to keep tears at bay in what was one of the most life-changing nights of his life. Rose looks very much the same with the exception of her hair, that she’s cut and now falls just around her shoulders instead of down her back, the fiery red as beautiful and colorful as he remembers it. Her blue eyes hold his stare fiercely, and Scorpius basks in the lively tones of the blue and flecks of gold he’s seen in his dreams every night and that he’s missed so much. “I’m here.”
She doesn’t know what she was expecting. Rose had been delaying the inevitable for weeks now, turning a blind eye to every conversation that reminded her that Scorpius’ return was imminent, and knowing that their unresolved feelings would most likely play a big part in their reunion and whatever came of their future, yet Rose had pretended it didn’t matter. She’d told herself that she had time to figure something out but, unpredictable as he’s always, Scorpius returned early, leaving Rose to decide what to do about it.
A blur of thoughts and memories assault her in a moment, confusing Rose to no end until Scorpius reaches out and cups her cheeks in his hands, his thumbs brushing her skin in the softest caress, dissipating the cloud in her mind because he’s always known how to ground her, how to make her feel anything and everything at once the same way he became the safe haven Rose wasn’t sure she was still looking to find.
So despite her better judgment, and holding his gaze for an heart-stopping second, Rose acts on impulse, enveloping her arms around his waist and tucking herself against his chest, and it isn’t until Scorpius wraps his arms tightly around her that Rose breathes again, feeling as much a part of him as before they parted.
Inhaling the familiar scent he’s always associated with her, Scorpius holds on to Rose fiercely and closes his eyes, letting himself enjoy having her back in his arms after so long because he’s missed her terribly. His friend, his partner, his other half.
For the longest moment, neither speaks a word and the silence that has fallen in the room seems to appease them, as if allowing them to feel whole for the time being. As if everything is the same as it ever was and always should have been. And regardless of whatever is to come next, the world is theirs and theirs only in that moment. And so they hold on.
And in that moment neither is mindful that an emotional Astoria is with them in the room.
Author’s Note: The next chapter will be from Astoria’s point of view, so you have that to look forward to.
Please leave a review and let me know your thoughts so far :)
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