Marcus Flint was quietly seething. It had seemed so cool to stand in the window of the train and pretend to jump out as it approached a bridge over a loch. The Slytherins he was with had cheered him on and he had felt involved, accepted, part of a group. It just seemed the natural thing to do that he should actually jump when the group starting chanting for him to do so. It was only when he'd got to the bank of the loch, with the Hogwarts Express a quickly disappearing sight that he realised it maybe wasn't so good after all. But he still had his wand, so he could dry himself and summon the Knight Bus. Once he was at Hogsmeade he just had to hide and wait for the train to turn up. Then he could mingle with everyone else and voila. People would be talking about it for days. He'd be the new cool guy.
What was not supposed to happen was meeting the Deputy Headmistress just as he arrived in Hogsmeade and then Stan Shunpike telling her the whole story of his supposed journey. Of course he'd made it more exciting, telling someone you jumped out a window of a moving train for a dare just didn't quite work for him. So he'd added long grass that tried to snare him, kelpies and grindylows he'd had to battle, rocks and hills he'd climbed over just to get back to a road where he could summon the Knight Bus. McGonagall had listened with rapt astonishment to the tale but rather let him wait for the train to arrive, she had insisted that she escort him back to the castle and that he must be hungry and tired after such an adventure.
It was only once that they had passed the Great Hall that he thought maybe she hadn't bought his story, or perhaps that she had bought it too much. They climbed several flights of stairs in silence until they emerged onto the fourth floor. Flint knew that McGonagall's office was on the seventh floor. In fact most of the fourth floor was taken up by the Hospital Wing so what was the point-
His thoughts all slammed into one as the realisation hit. McGonagall thought he was injured. She hadn't listened to any of his comments about how he was perfectly fine and how he would stay in the Great Hall until the others arrived. Every time he stopped or tried to slow down she waited for him to catch up again, a look of concern on her face.
So now he was in a bed in the hospital wing as McGonagall and Pomfrey talked about him. Dire consequences had been promised if he got up from the bed, and Madam Pomfrey's reputation was well known for following through on her threats. His trunk and bag were still on the train so he had nothing to do. Classes hadn't started either so it wasn't like he could even play with some of the spells they'd been shown that day. But he had been taught a few new ones over the holidays, although casting those whilst sitting down was going to be very difficult. No... That wouldn't work either. Hence he was sitting quietly fuming at how his day had gone so badly wrong.
He was brought out of his thoughts by Madam Pomfrey coming over to him.
"What happened Mr Flint?" she asked curtly. "Professor McGonagall says you say you were pushed out of the train."
"Yeah I landed in a lake. Bloody freezing it was and right in the middle of nowhere. Took me ages to find a road where I could call the Knight Bus."
"Do you feel unwell? Headache? Any injuries?"
"No I don't feel unwell at all. Quite miraculous don't you think Madam Pomfrey?"
"Yes indeed" the mediwitch muttered. She waved her wand over him and seemed to frown at the results.
"A lake you say?"
"It wasn't that one with the narrow bridge across it with the big island in the middle was it?"
"How did you know that Madam Pomfrey?" Marcus asked in clear surprise.
"Just a lucky guess" she replied with a smile.
It wasn't the first time someone had jumped into that lake for a dare and she doubted it would be the last. Physically the boy had nothing wrong with him, but she knew just the way to handle things like this. He would be more wary of doing stupid things like that again by the time he was through. She headed towards the back of the room and rummaged around in a drawer, removing several blankets and an Everwarm hot water bottle.
"Do you feel cold?" she asked.
"No ma'am" he replied.
"Hmmmm. Your temperature is low, but I can't give you Pepper Up without contacting your parents. Let's get you all tucked up with these and then we'll see where we get to."
Madame Pomfrey coaxed Marcus into laying down and draped the blankets around him. The hot water bottle went by his feet.
"That's it, good boy. See if you can get some sleep now and I'll check on you in a little while."
It was the most uncomfortable that Marcus had ever been. His feet itched from being too hot, but the blankets were wrapped too tightly around him for him to move them much. He couldn't move much of anything now he thought about it. Everything was cocooned in layers of blankets. All he could do was stare at the ceiling.
Ten minutes later, Madame Pomfrey came back to find Marcus fighting with the bedcovers.
"What are you doing Mr Flint?" she asked sternly.
"Sorry ma'am, my feet got really hot so I was trying to kick them out."
"Well let's hope the hot water bottle's done the trick then. Let's have a look, lie still for me."
A green 37 shot out of Pomfrey's wand a second later.
"That's good it has. How did you end up out the window?"
"I don't know ma'am. I was minding my own business and suddenly I was in the lake."
"Did you see who it was?"
"Ok well after a shock like that you must be worn out, so get some rest now. I'll leave the blankets right here if you get cold."
He was being treated like a little child! Marcus Flint was fourteen now, he was not a little child! He wasn't tired, or injured and imagine having the entire run of Hogwarts for a few hours! Think of the stories he could tell from that!
"Madame Pomfrey?" he called out. No answer.
He called a bit louder. "Madame Pomfrey?" Still no answer.
Satisfied she wasn't there, he untangled himself from the bed and headed towards the door. It opened just as he got there and he came face to face with the mediwitch herself.
"Can you not sleep?" she asked.
"Fancied a walk" he shrugged in reply.
"Well I'm afraid that the train isn't due in for a good few hours yet and you're not allowed in the castle on your own, so you'll have to stay here. I'd also like to keep an eye on you in case you react to anything in that water."
"Really Madame Pomfrey, I'll be fine."
"It's not a chance I'm willing to take. You have been pushed out of a moving train, then fallen into a cold loch from height and then had to fight plants and creatures to get here. How you injured nothing is almost a miracle, you will almost certainly be suffering from shock and when the adrenaline wears off you won't be fit for anything. I won't have you gallivanting around the castle where anything could happen to you. Sit on your bed or I will stick you there."
The next four hours were lonely ones for Marcus. The mediwitch mainly ignored him and so he was left with absolutely nothing to do. He tried to leave again the next time he thought it was clear but Poppy acted on her threat and stuck his backside to the bed. This left him able to move, but not able to get up. Then every so often Poppy came over to him and took his temperature, clucked in displeasure about something and asked him if he felt okay. Every time he said he felt fine and asked to leave, but the mediwitch denied him and noted down a few things on a chart at the bottom of his bed before leaving again. He was dying to read it, but with his bum stuck he just couldn't quite reach far enough to get hold of it.
By this time Marcus was thoroughly bored and more than slightly annoyed at how his day had gone on. He knew that it must be getting near time for the Feast by now because it had gone pitch black outside. He saw Madam Pomfrey begin to come towards him but as he opened his mouth to ask her about it, a thermometer found its way in instead. Apparently of its own accord.
"Keep it under your tongue and your mouth closed Mr Flint or it will take longer" Poppy said as she approached.
"Why?" Marcus queried around the thermometer.
"Because if you don't keep your mouth shut I shall have to take your temperature from your bottom" she replied simply.
Marcus paled and kept his jaw firmly shut after that.
Once the thermometer had beeped, Poppy read the display, frowned and then waved her wand several times over the boy's head and body.
"Mr Flint none of my scans are showing what I would expect after the scenario you described. I am concerned that this might mean there is an underlying condition masking the results. You should get yourself comfortable whilst I go owl your parents, you'll be staying the night."
"But the sorting feast-"
"I'm afraid you'll have to miss it. I won't have a potentially ill child wandering the halls that could collapse at any moment. So unless there's something you're not telling me I suggest you put these on." Poppy held out a pair of hospital pyjamas.
"I have to stay here all night?" Marcus asked in indignation.
"Must I check your hearing as well Mr Flint? Now I've had enough of listening to you blather, either tell me what really happened or you'll stay here overnight."
Marcus hesitated for a long moment.
"I did fall in the lake" he said at last. "But then I just walked back to the road and summoned the Knight Bus."
"How did you fall?"
"I-I jumped in for a dare" he muttered with his head between his knees.
"That will be twenty points from Slytherin and a week of detention with me Mr Flint. Since tomorrow is a Saturday we will begin then. The Welcoming Feast is due to start in ten minutes so I suggest you get down to the Great Hall. I shall see you here tomorrow at eight am."
"Yes Madam Pomfrey" the boy muttered sullenly.
"Good, go enjoy the feast."
When he had left, Poppy allowed herself a wry smile. There was always one. Every year. But it wouldn't be the start of term without it. Chuckling quietly she headed back to her quarters to change before going to the Feast herself.