Questions and Answers


Story Summary:
What happens when the past collides with the present and threatens to cast the Potters' and Weasleys' lives into disarray...

Chapter 50 - Beginnings


Andromeda sat up and groped for her dressing gown at the foot of her bed. It was still dark, but she rose early out of long habit. In truth, she could have gone downstairs, fetched the Sunday Prophet from the owl that was sure to be standing on the windowsill, fixed a pot of tea, and brought it all back upstairs to bed. But some vestige of her strict upbringing still remained, even now, and she pulled the soft, worn garment over her arms, and slid her feet into a pair of slippers. She padded downstairs and automatically flicked her wand at the teapot on the counter. Fragrant steam rose from the spout, while a cup and saucer floated from the cupboard above. As she opened the window to retrieve the paper from the owl, Andromeda noticed the pair of trainers by the door. She glanced thoughtfully at the ceiling and after she paid the owl, Andromeda set the paper down on the kitchen table and slowly walked back upstairs.

She pushed open the door to Teddy's old bedroom, but he wasn't there. A soft creaking sound pulled her attention back into the corridor and door that led to the attic. She pulled her wand from the pocket of her dressing gown and lit it, then gingerly made her way up the narrow, slightly uneven stairs.

Dim, bluish light spilled across the floor from Teddy's wand, held loosely in one hand. Andromeda picked her way across the floor and conjured a chair next to Teddy. She lowered herself into the chair and began to gently stroke Teddy's hair, like she had when he was small. She looked at all the journals strewn about the dusty floor. 'I thought you'd read all of them years ago...' Teddy merely shrugged, keeping his face turned away. 'Would you like to tell me what brought you to the attic in the middle of the night?'

'You know all those Muggle-baitings?' Teddy said in a raspy voice.


'Remember my mate from school, Joel?'

Andromeda searched her memory until she came upon a vague picture of a thin, weedy sort of boy. 'Somewhat. Didn't he go into the Obliviators with you?'

'Uh-huh.' Teddy exhaled a deep, shuddering sigh. 'He was part of it...' He lifted a tear-stained face from his knees. 'Gran... People... They're going to think I had something to do with it, because we were friends...' Fresh tears welled up and spilled down the planes of Teddy's face.

Andromeda urged him closer and he leaned against her knees. 'Not if they really know you.' She brushed Teddy's hair away from his face and behind his ears. 'And everybody else, well...' She sat back in the chair, the thumb of her left hand rubbing the slender gold band she still wore on her fourth finger. 'When I was in school, almost everyone not in Slytherin avoided me, because, well, I was in Slytherin... And even in my house, people avoided me because I was a Black. Not that I had ever done anything to earn such a fearsome reputation,' Andromeda chuckled softly. 'Guilt by association, you see. To be honest, it wasn't too far gone of a conclusion, given how my older sister behaved. But... There were people who were willing to look past something like a name. And there will be people who will look at you suspiciously because of your friendship with Joel. But after a while, they'll realize you had nothing to do with it.'

'Dad said...' Teddy rubbed his jumper sleeve over his face. 'Dad said people didn't let him forget he was friends with Sirius... That he lost a lot of tutoring jobs because of it. They could almost handle him being a werewolf, but best friends with a convicted murderer? Oh, no...' he muttered irritably. 'Even though he didn't do anything...' He yawned widely, making a belated attempt to cover his mouth.

'Don't you have to work today?' Andromeda asked.

'No. I sent in a message that I wasn't feeling well earlier.' Andromeda's hand stilled in his hair. Teddy hardly ever took a day off for anything. He looked up at his grandmother with a crooked grin. 'I haven't been sleeping much the past few days.'

Andromeda stood up and tugged at Teddy's hands. 'Come downstairs, and I'll make you some breakfast.'

Teddy slowly pushed himself to his feet. 'Okay.'

'How's Victoire these days?' Andromeda asked, deliberately changing the subject.

'Busy,' Teddy huffed ruefully. 'If she's not in classes, she's assigned to a couple of different Healers in the rest of her nearly non-existent free time. And sadly, the way it's worked out, the days she's not in class, I'm usually working a day shift, or I have the overnight shift, and I'm sleeping.' He blew out an exasperated breath. 'And she's usually studying anyway.'

'Sounds like a bit of a problem,' agreed Andromeda.

'I was thinking about asking her to move in with me...'

Andromeda's brows shot up. She poured Teddy a cup of tea to cover her surprise. 'And have you thought about what Bill and Fleur might have to say about that?'

Teddy folded his arms on the table and pillowed his head on them. 'Vic's of age, Gran,' Teddy pointed out. 'And seriously... How many of them lived with their respective spouses before they were married?'

'That's beside the point, Teddy,' Andromeda said dryly.

'That is the point, Gran,' Teddy said mulishly. 'All of them lived with the person they married, sometimes for years before they got married. Why should it be different for Vic and me?'

Andromeda sighed. 'All right...' She flicked her wand at the stove and a frying pan flew to it, and a package of sausages emptied themselves into it. Sizzling sounds filled the air, and Andromeda sipped her tea, studying Teddy. 'Did you ever think that perhaps Bill is somewhat strict with Victoire, Madeline, Nicholas, and Alexander because of that?' Teddy goggled at Andromeda. 'Close your mouth, dear, before you swallow an insect,' suggested Andromeda. She patted Teddy lightly on the head, before flicking her wand at the stove once more. Another frying pan joined the first. Eggs cracked in mid-air over the pan. 'I know it's a bit ironic that someone who had a somewhat liberal relationship before he was married could be vehemently against one for their child, but...' She shrugged expansively. 'Parents tend to be overprotective of their children.'

'That's not overprotective,' Teddy argued. 'That's... I dunno... Still treating her like she's fifteen.'

'You've only been engaged since, when? June?'


'And you're not getting married for another three-and-a-half years?'

'Something like that...'

'You're both young and you've got lots of time.'

Teddy let his head fall to the table with a bang. 'Why do people keep telling me this?' he moaned.

'Because, dear, you're only twenty-one and Vic's only nineteen. You are young.'

'You're not helping, Gran,' Teddy muttered.

'I know. I'm asking you all the tough questions. It's my job,' Andromeda told him lightly, jabbing her wand at the cupboard. Two plates hovered over the stove, and the pans tipped eggs and sausages into them, then the plates flew to the table landing with soft thumps in front of Andromeda and Teddy. 'Eat your breakfast.'


Teddy trudged up the stairs to his flat, feeling groggy after the nap Andromeda had insisted he take when they'd finished breakfast. He might be able to sleep until noon, but midday naps tended to make him feel like he had spent the night on a pub crawl. Not really caring about who could see, Teddy jabbed his wand at the door to the flat when he arrived at the landing to the fifth floor, wanting to collapse into bed as soon as he walked in the door.

He was not prepared for the sight that greeted him when he managed to get inside the flat.

Victoire sat huddled on the sofa, tearstains streaking over her cheeks, her face set into angry lines. Two bags sat at her feet - her schoolbag, filled with her books for her classes; and a large knapsack that Teddy suspected held clothes.


Victoire sniffed and rubbed the sleeve of her nubby jumper under her nose. 'I had an awful row with Dad,' she admitted.

Teddy dropped to the sofa next to Victoire. 'What happened?'

'He was horribly upset that I had, erm, stayed the night...' She flopped back against the cushions. 'I don't know what I was supposed to do... Get up at two in the morning and go home?'

'I don't know...'

'So he starts in on me about being out all night, without so much as a by-your-leave. Shouted a lot of rubbish about how I still live with them, so I have to follow their rules, regardless if I'm of age or not. Then after that... Nothing. Hasn't said a word to me since.'

'So you came here,' Teddy sighed.

'So I came here.'

Teddy's eyes closed and he took a deep breath. 'You can't stay,' he said nearly inaudibly.

Victoire's eyes widened. 'What?'

Teddy picked up Victoire's clenched fist and gently kissed the back of her hand. 'Vic, there is nothing more I'd like than for you to stay...'

Victoire yanked her hand from Teddy's grasp. 'And yet, you're still telling me to go home.'

'Victoire...' Teddy began to massage the bridge of his nose. 'It's not that I want you to go home, I don't. But if you're going to come live here, I want you to do it because you really want to live here. Not because you ran away from home.'

'What makes you think I don't want to live here?' challenged Victoire.

Teddy closed his eyes and refrained from grinding his teeth. 'Victoire,' he began patiently, 'do you want to come live here, with me, at this moment?' He cracked his eyelids open and glanced at her. 'Be honest.'

Victoire chewed her lip and twisted her ring around her finger. 'Right now?' she asked hesitatingly.

'Yeah, right now.'

Victoire's face fell and the corners of her mouth turned down. 'Not really...' she admitted, sniffing a little. 'No offense, but Mum is a much better cook than either of us, and time isn't exactly something I've got a great deal of just now to deal with all of this...' She waved a hand around the cluttered sitting room.

Teddy's mouth quirked in a smile. 'I can't say I blame you...' He hated any type of cleaning, and his lack of cooking skills were already legendary. Teddy heaved himself to his feet. 'Come on. I'll take you home.' He silently counted to himself. 'It ought to be all right. Full moon was last week, yeah?'

Victoire rubbed the sleeve of her jumper carelessly over her cheeks. 'I don't think that'll matter,' she snorted.

'Somehow, I don't either...' Teddy stooped to pick up Victoire's bags. He slung them over his shoulder. He pulled a face. 'And as much as I hate to say Gran's right... We're young and we have lots of time, don't we?'


Teddy stood just outside the entrance to the Obliviators' offices, eyeing it with a measure of trepidation he hadn't felt since he first started. He took a deep breath and started walking toward the large doorway. They know you... They know you... he chanted silently to himself. The last time he'd felt like everyone watched his every move was his first night at Hogwarts and scattered soft sardonic howls greeted him as he walked to the tall stool and the Sorting Hat. Salutations for the werewolf's son. He peered around the edge of the doorway, jumping when someone jostled him. He looked down, startled. 'Teddy!' Siobhan squealed in delight. 'At last! Someone who doesn't seem t'think dirty socks are funny.'

'I've only been gone a couple of days, Siobhan,' Teddy reminded her.

Siobhan grinned. 'True,' she admitted. 'But out o' th' eejits in there, ye're th' only one that doesn' act like ye're still in school. It's like workin' in a common room after a Quidditch match.'

'Oh, huzzah,' Teddy muttered. 'I'm a marvel of maturity.'

'Oh, good, you're here.' Carolina's head emerged from her office. 'There's an incident at a primary school in Plymouth. Kid blew out every window of his classroom. You'll need to do the other students and the teacher. Take Siobhan. Coordinates are on the map.' She turned back into her office. 'Oh, and Potter asked to see you sometime today. Said you had to go with him Barkingside before you went home after your shift.'

Teddy merely nodded. 'All right,' he said evenly.

'At least he finally saw sense and asked a pro to modify someone's memory, instead of trying to do it himself,' Carolina grumbled as she retreated into her office.

Siobhan glanced at the map. 'Oh, I think I've taken care o' this one before,' she murmured. 'If I'm rememberin' correctly, he's got a wee bit o' a temper on him. Wonder what set him off this time, then?'

Teddy began to walk to an Apparition point. 'What do you mean by "wee bit of a temper"?'

Siobhan shook her head. 'He's no' violent, if that's what ye're askin'. Tends to hold it all in until he gets pushed one too many times.'

'Muggle-born, confused, and gets picked on at school?' Teddy guessed.

'Yeah.' Siobhan's face clouded. 'I'm really wantin' to tell him what's goin' on, but...' She shrugged. 'He's only nine, and legally the only person who can tell him is a Hogwarts teacher, and no' until he's eleven.' They reached the small alcove at the end of the corridor. 'I'll see ye there.'


Teddy slouched into Harry's office. 'So?' he asked gruffly.

'Aaron wants it all gone,' Harry said quietly.

'I disagree,' Teddy said bluntly. 'Professionally, I disagree.'

'It's not your decision, Teddy.'

Teddy dropped into a chair across from Harry's desk. 'If you had to pick one memory to completely remove, what would it be?'

Harry's mouth opened, and he inhaled, ready to speak. Then... Nothing. What would I have erased? he wondered. As he replayed the events of his life, he slowly realized that every bad memory led to something else he wouldn't - couldn't - eliminate from his memory. They had all knit together to form the personality that now occupied his brain. Even the worst memories of his life had inevitably led to something worthwhile. The question was - if he took away one awful memory, would the wonderful ones still mean the same thing? 'Good point,' he muttered. 'But it's still Aaron's choice.' He pushed his chair back and stood. 'Let's go.'

Teddy slowly followed Harry into the corridor and Disapparated, his eyes closed. When he opened them, after the familiar, suffocating sensation of Apparition, he was standing in an alley close to Dudley and Aaron's flat.

Aaron sat on the narrow steps leading up to the door of his flat, swathed in a coat and scarf. Harry disappeared into the door, but Teddy joined Aaron on the cold step. 'It's normal to lose bits and pieces of your memory. Happens all the time. But before I do this, I need to ask you something.'

Aaron's dark eyes narrowed. 'Go ahead.'

'Will you still be you if I...?' Teddy made a sweeping motion with his hand.

Aaron chewed his lip. 'Don't you do this all the time? Remove everything?'

'Not like you want it,' Teddy shot back. 'We only remove what we have to. Never all of it.'

'Then why did you suggest it?' Aaron huffed.

'Because it's an option,' Teddy demurred. 'An option of last resort.'

'I hate this... I hate not being in control of my own bloody life,' Aaron growled.

'You are in control of your life,' Teddy asserted. 'I'm just trying to get you to really think about this. Because there's no going back.'

Aaron stood up and stuffed his hands into his coat pockets. 'Let's just get this done...' He stalked into the flat and led Teddy into a small room lined with books and strewn with paper. 'Sorry about the mess,' Aaron apologized. 'Dudley's something of a neat freak, surprisingly, and my filing system involves the, "I know the article I'm looking for is in the stack on my left..." Highly inefficient, but it works for me.' He moved a pile of papers from the seat of a chair and gestured for Teddy to sit. 'The deal is, I keep my mess confined to this room, and Dudley doesn't try to tidy it,' he added nervously. He dropped into the worn leather chair behind the desk and gazed at Teddy. 'What did you mean by would I still be myself?'

Teddy loosened his scarf and pulled his wand from the inside pocket of his coat. He idly twirled it between his fingers before he replied. 'Your memories are like a quilt,' he began slowly. 'If you remove a few threads, it's still usable as a quilt. But what if you remove entire pieces of it? Suddenly, there's giant holes in it and what makes you who you are now is gone...'

'Does everybody get a choice?'

'No. We usually just remove enough so they don't remember the exploding teapot. When we leave, they see the shattered teapot and think it's been dropped.' Teddy stopped twirling the wand and leaned forward a bit. 'It does depend on the event, though.' A small grin tipped up the corner of his mouth. 'Like Harry's aunt. That's one's legendary. When they had finished with her, Marge just thought she'd had too much to drink and passed out. When we remove or modify a memory, the loose threads on either end sort of connect to create a new one in its place. The larger the gap, the more tenuous the creation.

'Plus, couples share memories. Dudley's not having his memory modified, so if I take everything away from you that takes something away from the two of you. And I would like to try to avoid that...'

Aaron sighed and picked up a pen. He began to sketch absentmindedly in the margins of piece of paper. 'Did you come over with the intent to actively persuade me to change my mind?'

'Not really. Just want to make sure you know what will happen.'

'How old are you?'


'You don't act like it...'

Teddy shrugged. 'I've got my working face on.' He sat back in the chair and waited.

After several long moments, Aaron laid the pen down and glanced at Teddy. 'Never let it be said I don't listen to experts... Do what you would normally do...' His eyes flicked to the wand held loosely in Teddy's fingers. 'What do I need to do...?'

Teddy smiled. 'Just relax...' He lifted his wand and pointed it at Aaron's head. 'Obliviate.'


Neville walked into the quarters he shared with Hannah at Hogwarts. He'd received an owl from Hermione earlier that day. It had carried a small photograph and a short note describing the boy. He pulled the photograph from his shirt pocket and looked down at it, the tiny image cradled in his palm. He felt something well up inside and quickly replaced the photograph before he did begin to cry in earnest. Neville strode toward the small kitchen, and leaned against the door. Hannah was cooking dinner, standing in front of the counter, slicing something. Neville moved so he stood behind her. He wrapped his hand around her wrist, stilling the motions of the large knife, then pried it out of her hand. 'Hannah... Can we talk for a bit?'

Hannah started to pick up the knife and resume her preparations, but Neville stilled her hand once more. 'Surely I can finish making dinner while we talk?' she asked teasingly.

Neville soberly shook his head, and led Hannah to the sitting room and urged her to sit on the sofa perching nervously on the edge next to her. He was silent for several long moments, then said softly, 'We're going to have a baby.'

Hannah laughed. 'Oh, don't be daft.'

'No, Hannah, really. They've found a baby for us to adopt.'

Hannah's mouth fell open slightly. 'What did you say?' she whispered, her fingers twined in her apron.

Neville reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out the small photograph. He held it out to Hannah. 'His name's Eric.'

Trembling slightly, Hannah took the photograph from Neville and gazed at it. A small boy grinned widely, displaying two tiny teeth. Wispy jet-black hair covered his head and his dark, almond-shaped eyes crinkled with glee. She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them again. The photograph was still lying across the palm of her hand. 'Oh...' She stood up abruptly from the sofa and walked into their bedroom, still carrying the photograph.

Neville watched her leave in bemusement. 'Hannah?' He followed her into the bedroom. She was sitting on the bed, still staring at the photograph of Eric. 'Hannah, do you not want him?' Neville asked tentatively.

Hannah shook her head, tears streaming down her face. 'Is he really going to be ours?'

'Yeah.' Neville sat on the bed next to Hannah. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. 'MLE's going to bring him up this weekend.' Hannah shuddered and muffled sobs shook her body. 'Hannah? Why are you crying?'

She lifted her face from Neville's shoulder and attempted to smile. 'I just can't believe it... After all these years...' She looked down at the photograph. 'We're going to have a baby.'


James straddled a bench in the changing room, wrapping the joints of his fingers with thick sports Spellotape from the stockpile he had bought from Quality Quidditch Supplies in August. He was running short and made a mental note to owl for more. He flexed the fingers of his still-untaped left hand, listening to the joints pop softly in the murmuring hubbub of the changing room.

Al rested one foot on the bench and began the process of tying the laces of his boots. He pulled the laces tightly and knotted them into a bow, tucking the ends into the top of the boot. He repeated the process with the other boot and strapped on the shin guards.

Neither of them spoke while they completed their preparations, ignoring the soft whispers of Maddie, Isabella, and Rose and the uproariously good-natured insults that passed between Fred and Jacob, as they compared the size of their bats. James met Al's eyes and tilted his head toward the twins and rolled his eyes. Al looked over his shoulder, snorted with muffled laughter. He pulled his gloves over his hands, flexing his fingers to settle them. James exhaled noisily, in silent mirth. Al was a creature of routine when it came to his game preparation. He dressed the same way, in the same order, each time. Even when it came to practices.

Isabella flipped the end of her plait over her shoulder and picked up her broom. 'It's time,' she said quietly.

It was as if someone had cast a spell over the team. Fred and Jacob's faces immediately sobered and all the chatter between the girls ceased. This was the game. The final score was irrelevant. All that mattered was that Gryffindor won. Gryffindor hadn't lost a game to Slytherin in over two decades. And family pride was at stake. Not that any of them mentioned it, but they felt they would disappoint their parents terribly if they lost the Slytherin - at least the ones who had been Sorted into Gryffindor.

They filed out of the changing room: Isabella, Madeline, James, Fred, Jacob, Rose, then Al. One by one, they kicked off and hurtled into the air.

'And, here's the Gryffindor team, last year's Quidditch Cup champions!' Maya's voice rang over the Quidditch pitch. 'Team captain, Isabella Weasley has elected to keep her team from last year. There are many who attribute the skills of Gryffindor's team to the amount of time they spend playing against each other outside of team practices and during school holidays.' James flew by the stands, and Maya tried to wave at him unobtrusively. James grinned at her, and went into a loop to return the greeting. He took his hands off the broom handle when still upside down to wave at Maya and nearly slipped off. James yelped and clutched the handle, face flaming.

'Oh, he's got it bad, hasn't he?' Ginny murmured to Harry.

'Just a little bit.' Harry shook his head. 'I could have sworn we taught him better broom safety.'

Ginny snorted. 'You really don't think he's thinking about broom safety when he's trying to impress a girl, do you?' She gave Harry a pointed look.

Harry coughed and his ears turned pink. A few weeks ago, he had done the same thing James had done and nearly fell off his broom, trying to impress Ginny in their customary game after Sunday lunch. When she stopped laughing, she grabbed the Snitch from under his nose. 'No, I suppose not...'

Ginny craned her head, searching the stands. 'So which one's Maya?'

Harry pointed to a girl with a wealth of dark hair in the front row of the stands. 'There... The announcer.'

Ginny's head tilted to one side. 'She's cute.'

'I wonder if he'll introduce her after the game...'

'Maybe... If he acknowledges our existence afterward.' Ginny watched James pass the Quaffle behind his back to Madeline without looking. 'They do play the game well, don't they?' she said proudly.


'Al's a better flier than you were at that age.'

'Al doesn't have the distractions I had at his age,' Harry retorted.

'And Lucas Urquhart hits a Bludger toward James Potter, one of the Gryffindor Chasers...Oh, sweet Merlin!' Maya's amplified voice grew panicky as Harry and Ginny watched in horror as the Bludger slammed into James' back, between his shoulder blades. He pitched forward off his broom, tumbling to the ground.

Harry stood up, pulling his wand from a pocket as he did so. But when he pointed it at James, to his surprise, his mouth opened, but no sounds came out. He couldn't even force his brain to think the proper incantation. It was Ginny's voice that reverberated through the stands. 'Locomotor retardo!' she cried. Harry looked down and Ginny's arm was outstretched, her wand trembling from the tightness of her grip, face pale as she watched James float slowly to the ground.

Harry grabbed her free hand and towed Ginny behind him to the stairs and all but dragged her to where James lay in the middle of the grass, unconscious. Madam Pomfrey was already at James' side, the end of her wand trailing over him, a pulsing blue dot of light flashing steadily at the area where the Bludger had hit him. 'We need to get him up to the hospital wing,' she told Harry and Ginny. She pointed her wand at James, and a board appeared next to him, and another flick carefully rolled him on it, strapping him securely to the board. Madam Pomfrey murmured, 'Locomotor,' and the board rose from the ground and began to float back to the castle.

Once inside the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey worked quickly to perform a more thorough examination of James. Several slow, tense minutes passed before she straightened and turned to his worried parents. 'Three vertebrae were fractured and I've set them to healing. They ought to be good as new by morning, but I'll have him drink a bone growth potion when he wakes up.'

'So that's good...?' Ginny ventured.

'I'll know more when he wakes up,' Madam Pomfery admitted. 'If he doesn't wake up on his own in a couple of hours, then I'll wake him up.' She flicked her wand and a large overstuffed chair appeared next to James' bed. 'Do sit down and make yourselves comfortable. I'll be in my office...'

Harry flopped into the chair with a sigh. 'I hate this...'

Ginny joined him with a sardonic hoot. 'Welcome to our world,' she told him. 'I've lost count of the number of hours I've sat next to your hospital bed.'

'I think that's the same one she always used to put me in when I was a student,' Harry commented.

'It's next to her office,' Ginny pointed out. 'Makes absolute total sense. You're the worst patient in the history of magic. They practically have anti-Apparition charms on your bed at St. Mungo's. And James takes after you in that respect.' She stared at James for several moments. 'This sort of thing happened a lot when I was playing. Still does. And they all recovered and were back on their brooms in a week. I mean the worst injury I've seen in ages has just been a concussion and they're out of the hospital in a few days with that. How many times did I break something playing...?'



'You're babbling...'

'Yes, I know.'

Maya walked into the hospital wing and stalked to the foot of James' bed. She gave Harry and Ginny a curt nod. 'I'm Maya Hytner,' she said.

'Hello, Maya.' Ginny rose and held out a hand. 'I'm James' mum, and this is his dad.' She flicked her wand and a chair appeared near the large one she and Harry occupied. 'Please, sit...'

Maya shook her head. 'I just wanted to come by and see how James was doing. Professor Longbottom won't let the rest of your lot in. Says they're too noisy.' She turned and began to walk out of the hospital wing. 'Oh, and when James wakes up, tell him it was worth five penalty goals, Sophie came in as the substitute Chaser and scored a goal, and Al caught the Snitch about ten minutes after the, erm.... Incident.' She grinned slyly. 'I'm supposed to be neutral, right? But I'm going to have a word with Urquhart later. The way he plays, even Falmouth wouldn't take him.' With that, she slipped through the door and left.

Ginny gazed after Maya thoughtfully. 'If I were Urquhart, I think I might be terrified of that talk...'


James sighed and shifted, trying to find a comfortable position to sleep. He preferred to sleep on his back, but the large bruise between his shoulder blades ached terribly. Harry had helped him change from his Quidditch robes into a pair of pajamas and out of curiosity, laid his outstretched fingers over it. The bruise was just smaller than the breadth of his father's hand. He wiggled his toes, reveling in the sensation of the sheet rubbing over them. Madam Pomfrey and his parents had been relieved that he was able to feel every tingle, prickle, and tickle Madam Pomfrey had cast at his feet.

James stared sightlessly at the ceiling, wishing for the hundredth time his parents had gone home for the night, but they had elected to stay with him in the hospital wing. He was dying to get out of bed and head for the kitchens. He was starving and all Madam Pomfrey would let him eat earlier had been a bowl of soup. However, his mother would have woken up as soon as his feet hit the floor. He could hear a furious whispered argument outside the door. 'There are thirty minutes before curfew!' Maya hissed. 'I'm hardly out of bounds...'

'Scream, I shall!' retorted Peeves. 'If you talk like that again.'

'Get stuffed, Peeves,' Maya snorted. 'And I'll tell the Bloody Baron if you keep harassing me.' She peered through a crack in the door and tiptoed inside, wincing at the loud squeaking sound the hinges made. 'Will it kill the old bat to have the bloody hinges oiled?' she huffed to herself.

Ginny heard Maya's slow, cautious steps on the stone floor and kept her head resting on Harry's shoulder, eyes closed feigning sleep. She waited, trying not to breathe too loudly, feeling slightly guilty that she was actively eavesdropping on her son's life. 'Hi,' Maya whispered.


'Here...' Maya set a small knapsack on the bed next to James. 'I pinched some food for you from dinner. I heard Madam Pomfrey tell Professor McGonagall you were awake and having some soup brought to you. I figured you could do with something a little more substantial...'

'Oh, thank you,' James breathed. He pulled out a napkin-wrapped bundle and opened it. 'Mmm. Chicken, jacket potato.'

'I think there's peas in the cup...' Maya peeked into the knapsack and pulled out a teacup shaped bundle with a napkin knotted around it. 'Yeah, here they are...'

James bit into the chicken. 'How did you get so good at pilfering food?'

Maya shrugged. 'When you've been sent to bed without dinner, you learn to sneak down to the kitchen after your parents are asleep, and take something back up to your room without making a mess.' She rummaged through the knapsack. 'Here's a fork...'

'Thanks...' James dug into the jacket potato.

Maya picked up the chair Ginny had conjured earlier and set it down next to James' bed, glancing over her shoulder at Harry and Ginny as she did so, checking to see if they woke up at the sound. 'So, are you okay...?'

James grinned. 'Yeah, I'm fine.' He chuckled softly.

'What's so funny?'

'Well, I woke up strapped to this board...'


James' eyelids fluttered and opened. 'Did we win?' he asked groggily.

Harry bolted to Madam Pomfrey's office. 'He's awake!'

Madam Pomfrey bustled to the bed and jabbed her wand at James' boots and they disappeared along with his socks. She flicked her wand at his feet. 'Can you feel that?'

James' toes curled as he felt a prickling sensation travel up the soles of his feet. 'Yeah.'

'And this?' A feathery tickle replaced the prickles.

James giggled a little. His feet were extremely ticklish. 'Yeah.'

'Wiggle your toes for me.' Obediently, James wiggled his toes.

'All right, lad...' Madam Pomfrey helped him sit up and stacked several pillows behind his head. 'You'll need to stay here until Monday morning, but you'll be able to go to your classes. And no flying and absolutely no Quidditch for two weeks.'

'Two weeks!' James exclaimed in dismay.

'You've had a rather nasty spill, young man, and you'll do as I say,' Madam Pomfrey ordered. She glanced at James' anxious parents. 'He's going to be fine.'

'Your friend Maya came in earlier,' Harry informed James. 'She said you won.'

'M-m-m-maya was here?' James asked, his voice rising into a soprano squeak. He cleared his throat, his face flushed. 'Maya came by?'

Harry ran his hand over James' head. 'Yeah. Neville wouldn't let the others in. Not sure why,' he added in mock-innocence.

'Knowing Fred and Jacob, they'll have smuggled in enough food and drink for a party. And Merlin forbid anyone have fun in here,' James muttered darkly. He looked around the otherwise empty room. 'Are you two staying the night?' he asked, his face crumpling.

'We hadn't discussed it,' Harry began.

'Yes, we are,' Ginny finished, glaring at Harry. 'Just until tomorrow morning.'

'I thought the whole idea was for us to learn independence,' James grumbled.

'Jemmy, if you were forty, your dad and I would still be here,' Ginny said quietly. 'Age has nothing to do with it.'


James picked up the chicken leg and tore off a bite. After he swallowed it, he looked up at Maya. 'I really thought they'd go home. They're not the hovering type. Mum isn't anyway.'

Maya traced the weave of the blanket of the bed. 'Do you remember anything about the accident?'

James shook his head. 'No. The last thing I remember before waking up here was following Maddie to the goal posts. What did happen?'

'Urquhart hit a Bludger directly at your back. Knocked you off your broom. Madam Pomfrey said you had three fractured vertebrae, but she fixed it at the pitch. Then brought you up here.'

'Urquhart, eh?' James' face darkened.

'Well, Professor Williams gave him two weeks of detention and threatened to remove him from the team if he uses dirty tricks like that again. And I, uh...' Maya coughed.

'What did you do?'

'Cornered him in the common room and hexed him about ten different ways,' Maya pronounced proudly. 'I don't like it when people do things like that.'

Ginny bit her lip in an effort not to laugh out loud. I like her...

There was silence as James quietly ate the rest of his dinner. 'So, erm...' He stuffed the napkins back into the knapsack. 'There's a Hogsmeade weekend coming up soon...'




James sighed and picked at a thread of the blanket. 'Next Hogsmeade weekend. Would you like to go with me? You don't have to,' he added. 'We can meet at the Three Broomsticks or something.'

Maya twisted a lock of hair around her finger, uncharacteristically bashful. 'Yes.' She jumped up from the chair and darted out of the hospital wing.