Preview: Still, these little true-dreams didn't seem like much to worry about, at least, not to the point where it should warrant asking Professor Trelawny about them. Or that was what he thought until the morning of the following Tuesday, when they entered the Great Hall to whispers and people pointing at them.
Raindrops on Roses
Seventh Year Part 3
By half way through October, Scorpius had had two more dreams literally come true. They were only little, stupid things, but it was disturbing all the same. In one of them, Albus had spilled half a boat of gravy down his robes, and the exact same thing had happened that very night, when Lizzie walked past and shot him a dirty look. The two of them were not talking, for some reason - or at least, Lizzie was not talking to Albus, and Albus was sulking about it. In the other dream, he had predicted the arrival of three exciting letters, and two mornings later, at breakfast, the invitations to Teddy and Victoire's wedding had arrived. They would be married in May, just before NEWTs.
"Like we haven't already known for weeks," Albus muttered as Rose exclaimed over her invitation.
"But now its official," Rose sighed dreamily.
Albus merely shrugged and went back to eating his bacon and eggs.
Scorpius was pleased, and secretly relieved, by the invitations. Not because he hadn't expected to get one - Albus had managed to convince him otherwise several weeks ago - but for the lack of any other post. He had been getting dozens of letters since the first week of school, some stamped with the Ministry seal. It didn't take much imagination to figure out who they were from. He hadn't read any of them, even if some were so thick that he had had to open them before he could tear them up. His father had had plenty of chances to talk to him; Scorpius didn't see why he should listen anymore.
Still, these little true-dreams didn't seem like much to worry about, at least, not to the point where it should warrant asking Professor Trelawny about them. Or that was what he thought until the morning of the following Tuesday, when they entered the Great Hall to whispers and people pointing at them.
"What now?" Scorpius sighed, looking around. He had thought the novelty of him and his chair had mostly worn off. Oddly though, the attention seemed to be more on the others than on him.
"You'll never guess," said a grumbling voice from beside them, as someone came over from the Gyffindor table. It was Hugo.
"What is it?" Rose demanded, keeping her voice low. "Did something happen with the Shadow?"
Her brother shook his head, and handed her a copy of the Prophet in answer. Rose looked at it. Then she gasped. Albus, reading over her shoulder, swallowed hard. "Bloody hell," he said, breathlessly.
"What?" Scorpius demanded, unable to see from his position beneath and in front of the paper. Verso, he thought crossly, with one hand on the right wheel, and the chair spun around to the left so he was facing them.
Reluctantly, Rose showed him the front page. The Headline read: SHACKLEBOLT RESIGNS. And underneath, in smaller type, read: HERMIONE WEASLEY TO BECOME MINISTER FOR MAGIC. And underneath that, in even smaller type: "Harry Potter approves appointment of war heroine".
Scorpius felt queasy. Only two night's ago, he had dreamed that Kingsley Shacklebolt had fallen over in his office. It was weird, since he had never even seen seen the Minister except at a distance at the yearly memorial services. But since he, Scorpius, wasn't in the dream, and it had been followed by a scene of some House Elves doing a circus act, he had dismissed it as just a normal dream. But now he wasn't so sure.
"I knew he was ill," Albus muttered as they went over to sit at their usual place at the Ravenclaw table, and did their best to ignore the staring. "I didn't think he was that ill."
"Oughtn't your uncle have been made Minister?" Scorpius asked. It was the only thing he could think of to say. He looked down the table to where Lucy Weasley was chattering excitedly with her friends and passing the paper around.
"Percy?" Albus snorted. "I think he only took the deputy position under duress. He didn't want to be in the Ministry at all, after the war."
"I can't believe this," Rose muttered, scanning the article for more detail. "Its so sudden. The Wizengamot usually take ages to decide on a new Minister… historically, anyway…"
"Does it say what happened to Kingsley?" Albus asked, sounding concerned as he leant over her shoulder. Scorpius remembered what the Deputy Minister had said during his interview, about how Shacklebolt had taken an unexpected turn for the worse over the summer.
"It just says he's unable to continue his duties," Rose replied, turning to the continuation on page three. "I hope he's all right. He was Minister for over twenty years."
Peering awkwardly over Rose's shoulder, Scorpius read:
An overwhelming majority of the Wizengamot were in support of Minister Weasley's appointment, despite concern from the public gallery regarding her husband's recent suspension from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (more on this story, Page 6). Minister Weasley assured the public this morning that those circumstances will not affect her Ministership, and that she expects him to be reinstated soon. She then went on to clarify that she will not interfere with the politics of that situation, but will leave it to the Head of Department, Harry Potter.
Former Minister Shacklebolt declined to make a speech, as is customary, but Deputy Minister Percy Weasley read a statement on his behalf, conceding the leadership of the Ministry to Mrs Weasley and confirming that the attack on him last December by the smuggling gang leader, known as the Shadow, has left him in ill health and unable to continue in the role. The identity of the Shadow is now alleged to be Draco Malfoy, the son of convicted war criminal Lucius Malfoy. He is currently in the Ministry cells awaiting trial. A date has not yet been set.
Scorpius tried to remember his dream. Had the man just fallen, or had he collapsed, clutching his chest and gasping for air? His imagination seemed to make the scene worse and worse the more he tried to think about it.
"Well, congratulations, Minister's daughter," Albus said, grinning. "Won't it be nice to be the centre of attention for a change?"
That night, perhaps because of the events of the morning, and having worried all day about whether he had really witnessed whatever had happened to Kingsley Shacklebolt to make him resign, he dreamed a dream he had had once before, about Rose sleeping, except that this time, it was more detailed.
He saw mistletoe hanging above the bed, and heard singing, as if from far away.
Ding dong merrily on high…. the angel bells are ringing…
He sat there for a moment, watching her sleep. She was truly beautiful, even when lying still in a hospital bed. Her bushy hair shone redder than usual in the dim light, spread out over the crisp white pillows. She was quite pale, and there was sweat beading on her forehead. As he watched, her expression twisted from one of peace into one of pain.
Ding dong verily the sky… is riddl'd with angles singing...
He tried to move towards her, but someone grabbed his arm. And then, as he tried to pull away, the dream-Rose opened her eyes, and began to scream.
He woke up with his back afire with pain, as if he'd tried to twist himself around in his sleep. Gasping, he tried to straighten himself out, tears springing to his eyes as he gripped the sheets with white knuckles and tried to hold back a groan.
"Scorp?" said a sleepy voice from Albus' bed. "You okay?"
It took a few more seconds, but he managed to answer. "Yeah… fine," he breathed. "Go back to sleep."
Professor Trelawny, when Scorpius had floated his chair all the way up to her classroom, had flatly refused to open the trap door, even when he practically shouted up through it that he needed help. Apparently he had ceased to exist, in her mind, at the same point he had dropped her class. Firenze the centaur was only slightly more accommodating, and just as unhelpful.
"The dreams of humans are like shadows of the moon," he said cryptically, glaring at where Scorpius' chair had made muddy furrows in the grassy floor of his classroom. "They are of little significance."
"Even when they come true?" Scorpius had asked, annoyed.
"All dreams are a reflection of truth," was the only answer. "But truth in the future is an illusion. Only the stars know the true path."
The only other place he could think to look was the library, but two hours of research had led to nothing but a vague paragraph about the effects of Moonsilver poisoning in a book about Healing.
No one is certain why the reaction to Moonsilver occurs in certain wizards only, but similar to Dragonpox, the affliction appears to be present only amongst Pureblood wizards. Exposure is usually limited once the wizard becomes aware of the allergy; this usually occurs in childhood with a reaction to night lights. However, of those adult wizards who experience severe exposure, reactions are varied. Magical ability will almost always be dampened until the effects wear off, and the body's natural ability to heal will also be affected. Deep sleep and vivid dreams are common, and some will experience a rash on the affected area. Without treatment, ingesting the substance is almost surely fatal to allergic wizards and witches.
No where did it say anything about symptoms continuing after the wizard had been cured. Frustrated, he went back to trying to write his Charms proposal. He wondered if he ought to ask Rose about the problem. It was true that she disliked Divination, and always had done, but she couldn't dismiss it as any old silliness when something so obviously real was happening to him. He ruminated over this for a while, doodling idly with his quill between the occasional muddled sentence. He had initially dismissed the idea of talking to his friends, but he was quickly running out of avenues. Still, the more he thought about it, the more he knew he couldn't tell Rose. She didn't need anything else to worry about. And Albus even less so - Scorpius knew he wasn't sleeping properly, and he had enough on his plate.
It wasn't until he got back to the dormitory, and saw the wedding invitation propped up in pride of place on his bedside table, that the solution occurred to him.
Dear Scorpius, the letter began.
Glad to hear you can come to the wedding. Of course we had to invite you! You're family. Someone has to sit with Gran and stop her grumbling all through the ceremony (not that she doesn't love Victoire, she just doesn't like the idea of me permanently leaving the house at last).
Scorpius smiled thinly at that. He had been worrying that they'd only invited him because Rose would complain otherwise. He wondered what Victoire's family thought of it. Dom and Louis liked him, at least, but he'd never really met her parents. He had a dim memory of a willowy, beautiful woman with silver-blonde hair, and a tall redheaded man with scars all over his face.
As for the other thing, I've never even heard of someone becoming a Seer overnight. It's usually something people are born with, or they go through ancient ceremonies and trials and things to open their 'inner eye'. Can you tell I never took Divination? Ben did, though, so I heard enough about it while he was studying out loud in the common room.
Scorpius sighed. It had been a long shot. His eyes widened a little, however, at the next words.
I think I have an idea who you could talk to, though, since your teachers aren't any help. I really suggest you don't bring this up with Professor McGonagall, by the way. Ever. You get a real insight into her prejudices when you're Head Boy. Divination is one of them. I think the only reason she ever kept Trelawny or Firenze around is because old Dumbledore promised to keep them.
Anyway. I'm talking about that Seer woman that Neville found to help track you down after your dad nabbed you out of the hospital. Normally the Ministry doesn't truck with Divination either, but this woman was the real deal. Albus must have told you about it. No idea where to find her, but you can ask Neville. Rumour is they were an item back in the day! Hope that helps.
And to your other question: your dad's case is still being investigated. It's taking a while, as you can imagine, especially with all the reshuffling of government happening now that Aunt Hermione's taken over (I have to call her Minister Weasley, now. Weird!) All things going well we should be able to go to trial by the end of the school year. Don't worry about it until then, eh? Get on with your life. Trust me.
See you soon I hope,
Well, it was all very well for him to say not to worry about it, Scorpius thought, skimming over the letter again while the others chatted over their breakfast. Teddy didn't have to worry about repeating his account of the whole experience in front of a room full of people. And if they didn't get around to it until the end of the school year, Scorpius would be eighteen - finally of age no matter what country he was in - and no longer under whatever dubious protection the international loophole gave him.
Still, the reminder about the Seer woman made him think. He'd completely forgotten that part of the story from when Albus had explained how they had found him, using nothing but a map and his old iPod. The more he thought about it, the more he thought he remembered hearing Neville talk about her, though he couldn't remember exactly when. Thinking about it started to give him a headache, and he rubbed his temples irritably.
"You all right?" Rose asked, startling him. It was Sunday, and he and Albus were dressed for another day at St Mungos. Albus looked up from his breakfast, and so did the nearest five or ten people within hearing distance.
"Fine," he muttered. "Keep your voice down, will you?"
Rose's expressed settled into the one of long-suffering he had come to know so well. "Sorry," she sighed.
"Can we go to the greenhouses on the way down?" Scorpius asked Albus as they got up from the table. "I need to ask Neville something."
"Course," Albus said. He sounded distracted, as he had done now for several weeks. It was hard to see his face as they went along, Scorpius' head being at Albus' waist level, so he couldn't tell whether his friend was worried about something, or just tired. Tired, probably. Seventh year was going to chew Albus up and spit him out the other side if he wasn't careful.
"Do you like going to St Mungos?" Scorpius asked after a while, the question coming to his lips unexpectedly.
"Do you like it? I mean I know its a pain…."
Albus snorted. "Too right." He sobered a little, and kicked a stone out in front of him, as the wheels of Scorpius' chair moved effortlessly across the grounds. "But I guess its not the work that's so bad. Knox is all right, once you get past the fact he's obviously insane, and the other Healers... And I'm learning lots. I like helping people."
"But?" Scorpius sensed the word hanging in the air.
"Well… you know. It's tough. Knowing you can't help everyone. It doesn't feel like I'm really, you know, changing anything." His friend refused to meet his gaze. "I wish I could help you, more."
Scorpius didn't let Albus come into the greenhouse, so he had no idea what he and Neville were talking about, and Scorp wouldn't tell, either. "It's personal," was all he would say as they made their way out to the Apparition point. The little side trip meant that they were almost running late.
"How's stuff with you and Rose?" he asked instead. Scorpius shot him a dark look.
Albus sighed and shook his head. "Why do I have the strange urge to knock your heads together?"
"She's annoyed at me because I'm moody all the time," Scorpius said, low. "And I can't help being like that when I'm constantly in pain and these stupid hospital visits aren't getting me out of this stupid chair any faster. I know I'm being a crap boyfriend."
"Mate, she knows you can't help it. You just have to give a little. Talk to her. Occasionally tell her she looks pretty, stuff like that."
"Are you serious?"
"Trust me." The conversation was interrupted by their arrival outside the Apparition wards. In a manner that was quite well practiced, by now, they Apparated to London, and arrived together in the St Mungo's waiting room. Albus rubbed the back of his neck, where he always seemed to get an ache after Apparition. "All right?" he asked Scorpius, who was grimacing.
"I better go find Knox," Albus sighed. "See you after." He fled, feeling a sickening twist of guilt in the pit of his stomach. He wasn't sure if it was because he was leaving his friend to the mercy of his healing session, which he knew he hated, or because the whole Lizzie thing had left him feeling guilty more or less constantly ever since it had happened. Lizzie had not spoken to him since the incident, unless she had to, and did not even look at him except to glare. The fury of the look the first time had caused him to spill gravy all down himself, much to the amusement of the Lysanders and the other younger Ravenclaws at the table. He wondered why she cared so much. It wasn't as though she had ever liked Cleo.
His relationship advice to Scorpius was therefore not pulled entirely out of the air. He'd been thinking about it for some days now; if he hadn't been so involved with Quidditch, if he had made the effort to spend more time with Lizzie and tell her how much he appreciated her, she would not have broken up with him and he wouldn't be in this wretched mess. Of course, he had wanted to break up with her just as much at the time, but that thought was not at all comforting, so he pushed it to the back of his mind.
He made his way to Knox's office, always a jumbled mess of papers and books and probably old take away dinners, but it was empty. Still moody and brooding, he trudged down the corridor to the wards the man had patients in, but there was still no sign of him. Bethany, a young Healer he remembered as being Head Girl at Hogwarts in his fifth year, was in the last ward, dosing yet another tentacle victim with anti-Transfiguration potion. Albus knew enough now to recognise it, and to know that it didn't always work.
"Another one?" he asked, doing his best to keep a look of disgust off his face.
"Yes," Bethany sighed, moving out of the man's earshot. "It's like some kind of epidemic, or something."
"Octopusitus," Albus suggested, grinning.
"Yes," Beth said with no trace of humour whatsoever. "That's what they're calling it. Looking for Knox?"
"Yeah," said Albus, after a moment's surprised hesitation. "Do you know where he is?"
"Went out with a patient about half an hour ago," she replied. "This woman was convinced she was a tree, and she was going to put out roots and get stuck if she stood still for long enough, so he took her out to see if she would."
Albus blinked. "Seriously?"
She sighed and rolled her eyes. "You know Knox. That's the sort of thing he does. I would have just given her an anti-Confundus Potion."
"So you're here by yourself."
"More or less, but there's nothing really serious happening."
"Oi!" protested the man with tentacle arms, having overheard.
"Except you, Mr Flannigan," Beth replied patiently, without looking round. While she was very good at her job, it was becoming increasingly obvious that Knox had trained her. Albus wondered if, by mere association, he was going to become just as nonchalant in the face of squid mutation as they both were. "You may as well help me with my rounds," she said to Albus. "Just see if anyone needs anything. And come ask me if anything goes pear-shaped."
"Um. Okay." Albus tried not to look nervous. He'd never had to talk to a patient alone, before. That was silly, he realised as he went out to start going through the wards again. He knew most of the long-term patients, though there weren't many of those, and anyone who didn't know him was sure to realise he wasn't a Healer, himself, dressed as he was in old jeans and a jumper that had proven itself to be effective in not absorbing bodily fluids.
There were only two people on the first ward. One of them, Mrs Garrett, knew him. The other was a large, ruddy-faced man Al had never seen before, looking very disgruntled at having to wear hospital pyjamas. He looked like he might have been Hagrid's cousin, with a dark, tangled beard and very thick limbs. "Er… hello," Al said nervously, wiping his slightly sweaty hands on his jeans. "Can I er… get you anything?"
"Water," the man grunted, with a somewhat surprised tone. Al turned away to fill a glass from the jug on a stand, and when he turned back the man was staring at him with eyes as wide as saucers. "You ain't… yer never…" he began to say, his expression twisting in confusion.
"No, I'm not Harry Potter," Al sighed. It wasn't the first time an addled patient had insisted he must be a war hero in his forties, despite the fact that he was obviously a seventeen year old boy. He handed the glass over, and the man took it clumsily almost without taking his eyes off of Albus' face.
"No… ye must be the son, aren't yer?" he said, relaxing a little with comprehension. "I've seen yer in the papers!"
Al nodded with a fixed, not-so-patient smile on his face. He was sure he could fill in the next words while he turned to check the supplies in the nearby cabinet.
"I remember when yer were born! It was big news for a few days, eh? Eh? And I remember when yer dad did for the Dark Lord - wasn't that a great day! Singin' and dancin' in the streets there were, even out in the country. And my poor wife was bawlin' her eyes out for days with 'arpiness…"
Al nodded and made noises to show he was listening, even though he was sure the man had no idea which son he was, and was probably talking about James' birth, not his own, which had not even been front page news.
He had just finished straightening the rows of self-sticking bandages in the cabinet, and was getting ready to escape the steady stream of enthusiasm from the country gentleman who didn't seem to even have anything wrong with him, when a man came rushing through the door of the ward, carrying a small girl in his arms.
"Someone help!" he said desperately. His race was red from running, and he had straw-like hair which was badly messed about as though he had run through a gale. The girl, when Al looked, had her eyes closed and was very pale. There was a white bandage stuck to her forehead, and a red stain was coming through it. For a moment Al just stared, looking around, then he realised the man was looking at him.
"But -" he began.
"They said to come up here," the man said, tears of panic staining his cheeks as he laid the child on the closest bed. "Help her, please! She fell off that stupid broomstick and her mother wasn't home - you have to help!"
Al opened his mouth to say that he had come to the wrong floor, that broom-related injuries were typically treated on the ground floor, but stopped when he saw the look of utter desperation in the father's eyes.
"I have to get -" he began, starting to make for the door, to fetch either Beth or the nearest qualified Healer, but the man reached out and grabbed his arm.
"You can't leave!" he practically shouted. "You can't leave her like this! Please…"
"Okay, okay," Albus said, almost panicking himself. Surely Beth must have heard the noise. She would be here any moment, anyway.
He turned back to the girl. She was perhaps six or seven, with long pigtails the same straw colour as her father's. For a brief, oddly painful moment, he was strongly reminded of Lizzie. Gingerly he peeled back the inexpertly-applied bandage to reveal a deep red gash on her forehead near the hairline. It bled freely, and he put his hand back over the bandage hurriedly.
"Why didn't you heal this?" he demanded of the man angrily. The cut was deep, but anyone who had taken the compulsory OWL Charms course could do the heal-all Episky spell, foolproof for non-magical cuts, bruises and even some breaks. The girl had clearly lost a lot of blood, and the healing spell would have prevented that much better than a bandage.
The man spread his hands helplessly. "I'm… not a wizard," he said, almost choking on the words. "My wife…"
Albus, understanding, nodded and turned back to the child. The man was a bit of an idiot for letting his daughter fly a broom without a witch or wizard to supervise, but at least he'd had the sense to bring her to a wizarding hospital. Though how he had gotten in was a bit of a mystery, since Muggles usually couldn't see the entrance to St Mungos, in the same way that they were blissfully unaware of the Leaky Cauldron. Perhaps holding a child with magic had bent the rules just enough to let him in.
Al drew his wand and, carefully pulling back the bandage once more, drew it carefully along the line of the gash. "Episky," he said, low, and the cut closed, the skin on either side knitting neatly together without leaving even a scar. He was pretty pleased with that. The girl continued to lay still, very pale, and only the slight rise and fall of her chest reassured him that she was still alive at all. "She'll need a blood-replenishing potion," he said, with a barely-disguised sigh of relief.
The man knelt beside the bed as though his legs could no longer keep him upright. He stroked her hair back from where the wound had been, anxiety writ all over his face. "She's so still," he said, looking up at Al imploringly. "Why isn't she waking up?"
Al frowned. "She… probably has a concussion," he said realised out loud. He had learned about head injuries with Knox - the likelihood of getting a bludger to the brain had given it particular relevance to him at the time. Tentatively he put the tip of his wand to her forehead again and whispered the diagnostic spell. Immediately the hologram-like image of the girl's brain appeared to him in midair. The bruised area was clearly visible, glowing slightly red. Probably a good thing the Muggle father couldn't see it, Al thought. He jogged down the corridor to the supply cabinet, used Knox's password to open it, and brought back a potion that would heal the damaged area as well as another to replace the blood she had lost. "They'll take a while to work," he said, as he used another handy spell to force the liquid down the child's throat. "Come let me know when she wakes up."
The man nodded eagerly. "Thank you so much," he said with sincere gratitude, tears sparkling in his eyes. "What's your name?"
"Albus," said Albus, and saying his name seemed to bring him back to himself with a jolt. Was he mad? He wasn't a Healer! He could barely pass for a Healer's apprentice. And yet he'd done all that with hardly a thought, and he'd actually said 'come let me know'. Let me know. Where the hell had that come from?
"Is everything all right in here?"
Bethany had chosen that moment to stick her head around the door, frowning slightly at the Muggle man with blood staining his shirt.
"This young doctor saved my daughter's life," said the father, standing and shaking Al's hand vigorously. Al's face went bright red with embarrassment. He extracted his hand from the man's grip, and hurriedly took Bethany aside to explain it all.
"I'm so sorry," he said finally. "I honestly didn't mean to, it just sort of… happened on automatic."
Bethany had been listening to the story with an undecided sort of look on her face. Now, to his surprise, she smiled at him. "Don't worry about it," she said. "I guess Knox was right after all."
He blinked. "Er… sorry?"
"Knox. He's been saying for weeks that you're a natural. He says you've picked up all the basics faster than anyone he's ever trained. He suggested it might be time for you to do rounds on your own." She frowned. "I'm starting to wonder if that's not why he wandered off, today. Sneaky bastard."
Al realised his mouth was hanging open, and closed it quickly, only to open it again to say, "but… but I'm not… I'm… that wasn't even a magical injury, though!"
"A lot of people would have panicked," Bethany said, waving off his protest. "You probably should have come found me, but you had it all under control. At least no one died." She smiled impishly. Al suddenly felt like throwing up a little. "You've got talent, kid," she went on. "You want to be a Healer after Hogwarts?"
Albus blinked. "I'm… going to play Quidditch," he said without thinking.
The girl raised a surprised eyebrow. "Really? Well, don't be surprised if Knox tries to talk you into staying. It'd be a bit of a waste to spend the rest of your life throwing a ball around."
"I'm a Seeker," Al said blankly. Beth only shrugged and handed him a blank clipboard to take the unconscious girl's history.
A Healer? Al thought, as he filled in the form on auto-pilot. For real? He'd never even considered doing anything other than professional Quidditch. With the exception of Professor Flitwick, who disliked all careers that didn't involve books in some form or another, no one had ever suggested that he needed to consider any other options. His brother and cousin were in the game, just as his mother had been. No one had ever doubted that he, Albus Potter, would make it too.
But if he chose to be a Healer, well, it wasn't as if he had failed at Quidditch. Just that he had chosen a different path.
He hung the clipboard on the girl's bed and cleaned the blood off the father's shirt with one of the charms he had learned his first week of community service with Knox. It was definitely something he'd have to think about. Maybe he could change something, after all.
Thanks everyone for your patience in waiting for this chapter. As you can tell I have less and less time for writing these days but still determined to get through this story! Please leave a comment to show your support, I truly appreciate all your feedback and your comments motivate me to get writing!