Today was a double post, so you may need to go back a chapter to "It's Time" before continuing on here.
Overall, there have been very few chapters that have been difficult for me to write in the roughly 1M words I've written between my three stories. Since 99% of the time I've been writing what I want to read, it's come very easily. Yet, I really found myself struggling to write the "It's Time" chapter because what I wanted to read/write wouldn't necessarily translate well enough into a rivitting chapter. I went in painting the picture of Harry's world in the AYA ward (version #1), but had to do it in a way that wouldn't be too dull to read, still moved the plot forward, and was no more than 11k words (versions #2 #3). Unfortunately it took writing it three different times to get the final chapter I just posted. But, like I've always said, I'm writing the story I would want to read so it didn't feel right to get rid of the scene I cut from the final version. So, I figured I'd post it here as a "Deleted Scene" in case anyone else wanted to read a more in depth view of the medical side (I left the social side in the chapter) of Harry's world in AYA#6.
A few things to note:
1. Due to time constraints, this scene has not been polished or edited. So kind of like when you're watching a deleted scene in a movie and can see the green screen or cameras, I have no doubt there are a lot of errors (though I rarely send them this level of rough draft, a nod of appreciation to French_Charlotte for correcting the plentiful of errors that do get by), or notes, and words that may or may not make sense. All of that usually gets fixed in what I call "polishing" where I add the emotion/feeling and swap out elementary words for better ones. What I'm trying to say is, this is a rough, rough draft.
2. If you notice some ideas, comments, dialogue repeated here in the official chapter or a later one, it's because I do try to utilize my "alternative" scenes as much as possible. In this case, it could be pulling a line to use later or copy/pasting a dialogue in a different section. Who knows what you'll find?!
3. Some of the details might be different. If I made a change in the main chapter (like the location of something in Harry's room or someone's appearance) it wouldn't necessarily be made here and vice versa.
4. The ideas here are still part of the official story even if they weren't officially published. In my mind this scene still happened, just off screen.
One last disclaimer I don't normally ask for: if you liked this chapter, please let me know what it was about it that you liked. I left this out of the main one thinking no one would find it remotely enjoyable (I have mentioned my love of medical texts?) so if I'm wrong, I'd definitely like to know. On the other hand, if you absolutely hated it, please keep that to yourself. This was left off originally because it's not everyone's cup of tea and I don't need the discouraging reminder, especially as I'm heading into what will be a difficult week for me.
With all those disclaimers out of the way, enjoy this deleted scene which would have been placed before Snape's dinner in the cafeteria.
Severus watched Harry reluctantly unpack his bag, placing his clothing - consisting of comfortable jumpers, tshirts, jogging bottoms, and pyjamas - into the small chest of drawers underneath the television, bringing his toiletries to the lavatory, setting his sketchpad and pencils into the bedside table along with his school books - spelled to look like their muggle equivalent - and a novel Severus hadn't seen before, and ending with a set of still pictures in frames on top of the table. If nothing else, the space looked as comfortable as they could make it for however long they ended up being here. As for his own overnight bag, Severus used a well placed extension charm on it to keep his things organized, so outside of removing the snacks he'd brought for Harry and the Ginger Ale - which he'd later take a couple cans to the refrigerator in the kitchen - he'd keep his own things packed away in the space underneath his makeshift bed. For all he knew, by tonight Harry would want some privacy and he'd be going to Spinner's End or back to Hogwarts for the night.
Unpacking in silence gave Severus plenty of space to observe his child. Harry not only looked completely exhausted, he seemed as if he would break apart at any given moment. Watching the young wizard relive his worst nightmares over the course of the night had been absolutely heartbreaking. Unable to shake Harry awake, Severus could only sit and try to assure the Gryffindor didn't harm himself throughout the process, leaving the pair drained in their own different ways. Once Harry finally did wake up - for real, not only in some ritual induced fog - Alton confirmed his lack of magic and then they immediately turned around to head for Surrey; giving no real time for Harry to come to terms with this new reality he'd be facing for the next several years.
Therefore as much as it pained him to hear, the declaration the young wizard made hadn't come as a complete surprise. Severus knew it wouldn't be the last, or the worst, they saw from him in the foreseeable future as he adjusted to his emotions surrounding his situation. Harry's angry, sometimes volatile attitude was one negative trait that unfortunately crossed both realities. No one would blame the teen for getting slighted at the injustices of his life thus far, however he had never learned any coping mechanisms to handle his emotions - explaining his challenges in learning Occlumency - in a healthy way, and he couldn't ostracize those supporting him through these turbulent waters.
Nurse Kathleen returned too soon with Harry's lunch - which he'd need to eat while she started his pre-medications - leaving Severus and Harry almost no time to speak about the teen's reaction to the day so far. Harry chose to start his treatment in the reclining chair not too dissimilar to the ones in the nearby clinic. His tray of food had been placed on the table, which could swing over allowing him to eat or work on his bed, the sofa, or the chair. It was wide enough to allow Severus to place his one muggle binder - filled with all of Harry's previous and current medication schedules and reactions he's ever had to them - and a muggle notebook, ready to notate whatever Dr Swanson had to tell them once his chemotherapy officially started.
Right on schedule - hopefully a sign of how easy this process could be - Dr Swanson arrived along with Kathleen and a new nurse pushing in a tray containing three bags of medications. If she were nervous at all about the treatment, she hid it well behind a genuine smile and her bright blue eyes filled with hope. Her career required far more optimism than the professor had available in his body and was grateful Alton had chosen to partner with her over Harry's initial care. Without saying a word, she managed to give him confidence not only in her ability to select the right medication protocol to fight this a second time, but in himself and Harry to make it back to a second remission and Maintenance.
"Were you able to get all settled in?" She looked around the room at the small, comforting pieces of home Harry managed to place around for himself.
"Just a lil bit," Harry mumbled and pulled a blanket up onto his lap, tucking in the sides neatly beneath his thighs. A protective measure against what he knew he couldn't stop from coming. "I know it seems silly for only a couple of days-"
"Harry," she interrupted him, sitting beside Severus on the sofa across from the reclining chair Harry still sat in, "you do whatever you need to be comfortable here, alright? Gertrude gave you a tour, correct?" Harry slowly nodded. "Good. Don't be shy around here. I know it's going to be an adjustment having chemo at the hospital and maybe there will come a time where you don't have to be here, but right now it's for the best, and we want you to feel comfortable."
" 'kay," Harry said, his nerves visualized by his almost compulsive wiping of his palms across the ivory hospital blanket over him.
"You met Kathleen," the doctor carefully spoke, gesturing to her two accomplices, "and this is Marybeth, who will also be part of your care team this afternoon. They're going to help me out to get everything set up. Do either of you have any questions before I start going over everything?"
Severus watched Harry intently hoping he'd speak up, showing an interest in his own care. Harry worried his bottom, contemplating where to take the conversation.
"How is this going to be any different from what I did in intensive phase last year?" The teen thoughtfully asked, allowing Severus to release the breath he'd been holding.
"That's a very good question, Harry," Dr Swanson's eyes lit up as she spoke then she clasped her hands together between her knees and leaned over to speak eye to eye with her patient, "it may sound a little backwards at first, so bear with me. During your initial treatment, we gave you high doses of chemotherapy drugs in hopes of killing off the cancer cells before they could regenerate - or come back - putting you into the state we call remission. But there's a limit of how much we can give a person at one time because of how volatile the body reacts to these drugs. Children and adolescence generally tolerate them better than adults, therefore we tend to treat them more aggressively and as a result, see better long term remission rates.
"If we do see a relapse, I prefer to use the regimen you're about to start because it gives a smaller dose of chemotherapy over a longer period of time… which is why you have to stay here. Per week of treatment, you'll actually be getting more of the medications with, on average, a similar level of side effects because they're spread out over several days instead of several hours. Does that make sense?"
"Yeah," Harry furrowed his eyebrows, and sounded, at least to Severus, as if he did understand, "Yeah, I think so."
"But the medications will be different this time?" asked Severus. His notebook was opened prepared to take copious notes regarding everything used in his treatment. This would not only ensure another person - one he knew he could trust - could confirm Harry received what he should be receiving, but it also could help him with his work at the MLD; should he ever be able to make it back there.
"Yes and no," she told him, "they're all medications he's had before, but not in the dosages or the consistency he'll see this time around. Since he saw a relatively quick remission last time, had certain things-" she emphasized the word because with two muggles in the room she couldn't say Harry's magic, "-not gotten involved, so I wanted to stick with what was working. Unlike the phases from last year, though, the cycles will provide a consistent cadence for them to work and hopefully keep the Leukemia away for good this time. The medication schedule will always be written on the whiteboard here in your room, as well as at the nurse's station outside, and if you ever feel you need more information you can ask any of the nurse's with the red badges."
Severus leaned sideways until the board on the other side of the television came into view.
"Will the side effects all be the same?" Harry's small voice asked, running his shaking right hand through his hair.
"If it's alright with you, I'll cover all of that with the medications and schedule at the same time," Harry and Severus both nodded, and Severus readied his notes. "On day one… and what I'm about to start you on… you'll have a one hour IV, which is the same one you've been getting monthly at the clinic and since your very first treatment, plus you'll start your first continuous IV. The side effects on the one hour will be very consistent with what you've experienced - nausea, fatigue, some pain, and tingling in your hands and feet. This continuous IV you'll have all the way until the end of day three and it actually isn't a chemotherapy medication, but used to help prevent any bladder issues usually seen with the cyclophosphamide… we'll get to that one in a minute.
"Once the one hour is completed, we'll start the second twenty-four hour IV, but this one will only be with you until around two o'clock tomorrow afternoon. This one also has a lot of the same side effects: nausea, fatigue, general pain, plus change in bowel movements, stomach pain, mouth sores, and lower blood counts.
"Then at around half past eight, we'll get started on your first dose of the three hour IV. This one is done every twelve hours for three hours each on days one, two, and three, meaning your last dose will be 0830 Tuesday morning, and then we'll immediately start the last twenty-four hour one at 0900 Tuesday and it will end at 0900 Wednesday. I won't lie to you, Harry, those last two are by far the hardest. They are both very rough on the stomach and will definitely make you nauseated and likely vomit, they both cause hair loss, and the three hour sees a significant negative impact on the reproductive tract. I know you're only seventeen, but I believe Dr Smithe did have you-"
"-Yeah, I got that covered," Harry immediately cut her off. His entire face turned a dark crimson. The conversation with Alton before Harry's port had been surgically placed seemed like forever ago and the teen had been equally mortified then. No teenager wanted to think about the possibility of having a child and definitely didn't want to consider the real possibility of never being able to. "So then I can leave Wednesday morning? After that last full day one?"
"Just like at the clinic we'll keep you for a couple of hours to make sure there are no lingering side effects, or if your blood counts don't rebound enough to safely discharge you," the doctor started to set up the chemotherapy, combining it in a way that intrigued Severus's academic nature so Harry could continue to receive as much of the supportive medications as he could get. The only good thing about his magical core being blocked was that they wouldn't have to deal with his core pain on top of the other side effects. "Sometimes the body bounces back, other times it takes a couple of days to regain what's lost from the chemo."
"But surely I'll be back by Saturday, right?"
Dr Swanson's hands paused over the lines, "I can't make any promises. We'll do what's best for you and that means keeping you here until you can safely go home without risk of a secondary infection."
"But, sir," Harry turned towards Severus, as if he'd be able to override the doctor, "Saturday is the first Quid… game… and Sunday I'm supposed to go to… the village… with my friends."
Quidditch and Hogsmeade, the two things Severus couldn't guarantee and had intentionally not spoken about yet. Though it may appear trivial compared to the risk of infection, he could understand how important they would feel to Harry and he hated to be the voice of reason - or conflict as the Gryffindor would surely take it - against him.
"It's your doctor's call, Harry," the professor regretfully stated. Harry's green eyes filled with betrayal that Severus didn't take personally. If Harry managed to make it back to school by Friday, he'd make arrangements with Alton to check Harry's blood counts to be sure it was safe to go. If he didn't make it back to school by then… well, it would be a moot point.
The rest of the set up for Harry's treatment was done in a strained silence only broken by Severus's questions for clarification - should Harry continue to take the prophylactic tablets from home; not while at the hospital as they'll be dispensing them, plus a steroid recently prescribed, with his meals - or Dr Swanson's lengthy instructions regarding the teen's overall health: every person entering his room was expected to wash their hands, the small box to the left of the door would be where some of the more mundane items could be passed through to limit exposure in his room, and the expectation that he shower every day to keep himself as germ free as possible. The latter caused some consternation from Harry, but not as much as the hospital's requirement that he document every solid and fluid that entered or left his body; food, beverage, urination, stool, and vomiting alike. Kathleen walked Severus - and by extension, Harry - through exactly where and how to document the outgoing products, and any drinks or snacks he may have between meals, while the nurses would document his meals when they drop off and pick up his tray. Of all the details and information they'd gone over, that was the one to push Harry over his edge, causing him to flat out refuse and then sit in, thankfully silent, defiance during the rest of the set up.
By the time Dr Swanson and the two nurse's were done getting everything going, Harry had reclined the seat back and appeared to be sleeping; hopefully for real - seeing as the young wizard desperately needed to keep his strength up - but likely only pretending in an effort to avoid having to converse with any of the adults. Dr Swanson had left, promising to return for all of his new medications for the day, leaving Kathleen notating everything in the chart held at the end of the hospital bed to his left, and Marybeth setting up something in the lavatory. They clearly had their routine down for new incoming patients and Severus resolved to stay out of their way as much as possible by settling onto the sofa with a charms book spelled to look like a [muggle equivalent] resting in his lap, his back leaning against the wall opposite to Harry; watching for his breath evening out. The professor closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the cold wall feeling his own exhaustion creeping into him from all sides, refusing to be ignored.
"The first day is always hard," Kathleen quietly said in the otherwise almost silent room. Severus slowly opened his eyes to the nurse placing the file back down at the foot of the bed. "He'll eventually come around. The AYA exists because this is a hard age to go through something like this - being stuck in the hospital, having all their choices seemingly taken away, missing friends and school, losing their hair - we're all used to how to handle them, though. We try to give them as much space and decision making as they can get it… it seems like something so small, but it really does help."
"Thank you," Severus told her, barely picking up the sound of the door clicking close, leaving Severus with an unhealthy combination of guilt and gratitude, that at least with Harry being in the hospital, the professor wouldn't have to do this all alone.