Timely Errors Requiem
Summary: A collection of oneshots whose purpose it is to answer some of the questions Timely Errors left behind. Does it serve that purpose, can we ever truly know anything about the complications time leaves behind?---that question I will leave for my readers to decide.
Chapter One: Injury
Alice was supposed to be in Herbology right this very moment. She knew this because she'd been staring at the clock above Frank's bed for the last three hours now and was acutely, almost painfully, aware of each passing second.
Because he wasn't waking up.
In Herbology she'd have been trimming her stupid Tickling Trellis while listening to Professor Pod natter on about fertilizer. What good was all of that, anyway? She'd taken the class because it was a requirement for pursuing a career in healing.
And she'd been so positive that was the job for her. She'd imagined this stupid Florence Nightingale image, cooling sweating brows, easing pain and secretly laughing as silly little magical mistakes wandered into her 'oh-so-loving' care. What an idiot. She'd never spent much time in 's, the curse of having a healthy immune system and attentive parents. But she was realizing now how much she hated it: the sterile light, the crisp impersonal attention, the constant beeping of monitoring spells, the sounds of so much living and dying filling the air it was enough to give her a headache.
And he wasn't waking up.
She hated the place even more for that fact and she knew with a certainty that she'd never be able to work here and forget this feeling, these feelings, these oppressive not-fun feelings that were uncommon and unnatural in her happy existence.
She reached her hand out and rested it on Frank's bed. Somehow the words 'Frank' and 'bed' always conjured up images of different, more pleasing circumstances. But even those fantasies seemed pathetic and so unrealistic. She couldn't even think up a joke to say when he woke up, something suggestive and playful that would make him blush and her heart beat rapidly. But everything she thought of just sounded desperate and sentimental. Her ability to tease him seemed to have suffered a permanent break.
If only she hadn't been so useless when they'd been cornered by those Death Eaters. She'd frozen, her cool head seemed to leave her and it had been Frank and his sudden action and logical choices that had saved her. She had always known he was good in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but the way he'd acted, the way he knew how to protect... protect the things he loved.
She shook her head.
If only she could have protected him the way he had protected her. She wasn't a damn damsel in distress! She was an independent woman with more than enough spirit to match wands with any stupid Death Eaters. She felt like something was starting to boil inside her and she almost wished she was back in Hogsmeade. She was no weakling; she knew some nasty, vindictive spells. She'd like to see how some of those Death Eaters might take the bikini wax charm her mother had taught her.
She slumped down in her chair.
That was pathetic. True, it hurt like--well, like ripping the hair from a tender area, but was that really the best she could do? She'd never learned magic with the aim of hurting people. She felt a little ill that she was relishing such a focus. But something about it was primal and undeniable. They had hurt someone precious to her; she in turn had to hurt them back, hurt them worse, even. Was there anything more basic or right?
His skin still seemed unnaturally pale even though the healers said he was fine and only needed rest to mend from the curse that had sent his system into shock. Merlin, she hated seeing him like this, all weak and unresponsive. Of course, she wouldn't give up this chance for anything, no matter how terrible he looked and how terrible she felt, it was better to be here than trapped in Herbology.
It had been James Potter who had pointed her to the escape that allowed her current location. Hogwarts student Floos only allowed communication, not travel, and as commiserating as all her professors were about Frank, they weren't about to let one of their teenage charges roam free at St. Mungo's. And her parents had told her she was being melodramatic, pointedly refused to allow permission for her to leave school. But James conveniently mentioned to her that Professor Pod's office was rarely locked; he even gave her the password just in case. (How he knew it was beyond her knowledge or caring.)
And he hadn't even done it when Lily was around, or asked Alice to impart his act of consideration. It was, strangely, nice. Alice didn't think James was quite the prat that Lily did, but she'd never thought of him as a very nice person. Attractive (amazing Quidditch player thighs). Smart, but only in a flashy sort of way. And he was obsessed—or to put it more nicely, dedicated—to Lily. But James had always been sort of a prick.
After what happened in Hogsmeade, he'd seemed a little subdued and had even been observant enough to notice her concern about Frank, and devise a clever way to relieve that stress. It had been....surprising, surprisingly nice.
Frank moved, just ever so slightly, his hand reaching up to tug at the blankets that were wrapped tightly around his form. Alice held her breath.
It took a moment but his eyelids twitched, his eyelashes fluttered, and his eyes blinked against the white glare that seemed to invade the room in a predatory way.
"Hey," he croaked. He looked around his surroundings wearily.
Alice didn't know what she should say. 'Hey, thanks for everything'? It seemed too weak. 'I love you'? The atmosphere didn't call for it no matter how true it might be.
Frank blinked up at her, his eyes crinkling. "Well, I knew you'd have me on my back and at your mercy sometime. No handcuffs?"
Alice started to cry. She hadn't, not through this entire ordeal, not even last night when she'd been in her own bed with the curtains drawn waiting for the tears to come. And the strange thing was she was laughing, too, almost as if her messed up body couldn't decide what it was feeling.
Frank was sitting up now looking at her in concern as if she'd suddenly gone mad, and she just might have.
"He tells a joke," she finally managed to say between sobs and laughter. "I must have the wrong room: he wakes up joking. Frank!"
"I'm sorry, Alice," the boy in the bed said soberly. "Have you been here for long?"
Alice had almost calmed herself now. She reached out and playfully slugged him. "What do you have to be sorry for? I'm just—sniff—being stupid."
Frank smiled in a way that made her suddenly feel alive again.
"But I've been thinking things over."
"Have you now?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I'm going to be an Auror," she declared with a certainty that left her feeling oddly peaceful. "You and I are going to work together to stop this terrible Dark Lord, and I don't want you ever to need to protect me again."
Frank looked at her face. "You aren't going to change your mind about this, are you?"
Alice shook her head resolutely.
"Well, I can't stop protecting you," Frank offered softly, but his voice no less determined.
"Frank." She moved from her chair and stood next to the bed, her face close to his. "I can't lose you, okay? It's either both of us or none of us. Understand?"
"You're annoying," he announced. "You could at least be all mushy and fall into my arms and thank me for saving you."
"Oh, I could, could I?" She looked down at him.
"Yes," Frank agreed sagely.
"My hero!" Alice cheered in a high, girlish voice. She dove into the bed, snuggling onto his chest.
Frank groaned as her knee struck an uncomfortable place.
"Sorry," she said with a grin, rearranging her legs so that she straddled his hips. Alice settled herself so that she was directly over him, her hands resting on his shoulders. "For saving me, what could I possibly give my rescuer?"
"A kiss?" Frank offered hopefully, his face turning a little pink at her current position.
"We can start there," she suggested, lowering her lips to brush against his in a soft, feathery touch, but it wasn't long before the sensation grew more forceful. Frank's hand buried itself in her hair, pressing her closer, the strength of the kiss growing as their feelings of mutual relief and love took hold.
"FRANK!" a voice yelled from the doorway.
Alice tumbled, nearly hitting the floor before Frank captured her arm. The two teenagers looked guiltily toward the doorway where an enraged Mrs. Longbottom stood towering over them, the vulture topping her hat quivering with emotion.
"Bad time, son?" a more amused voice asked from behind her. Mr. Longbottom's mouth was twitching in the corners as if he desperately wanted to break into a smile.
"Hi, Mum, Dad," Frank greeted, his face now as red as a tomato.
Alice couldn't help it: she laughed. "Nice to meet you," she managed as her giggles subsided.
"Nice to meet you, Alice." Frank's father looked surprisingly like his son, only much older: his curly hair was snowy white.
Alice couldn't help smiling when Mr. Longbottom correctly identified her without her having mentioned her name. Turning to Frank, who seemed to have turned even more red if it was possible, she asked, "Told them about me?"
"He's mentioned you fairly often," Mr. Longbottom provided. "We'll go get some tea." Mr. Longbottom tugged at his wife's arm. She appeared to have frozen in shock.
As the door shut behind them, Alice heard Mrs. Longbottom's voice ring out. "But Thomas, what were they doing in a hospital? He's—Thomas!"
"He's recovering, dear; quite quickly by the looks of it. Leave it alone." The man's voice and his wife's muffled reply grew softer as they moved further down the hall.
Alice turned her face back to Frank. "I think they like me."
"What's not to like?" he said, burying his embarrassed face in her shoulder.