Lisa could hardly believe that the N.E.W.T's were to be written in a few days. Days. That was it. Seven years of schooling came down to this. And yet, she couldn't put her mind to studying that evening. She hadn't really studied, not since the battle the week previous. There was much to worry about besides studying now, although that was important for the seventh years. She came into the common room, having been kicked out of the Hospital Wing (where she had been to see Mandy) by Madame Pomfrey, who said that the other girl needed to rest. Ha. Like she doesn't do enough of that now.
"How is she?" asked Steven anxiously as Lisa entered the room. It has been over two hours since he had last been at Mandy's side, and he worried about her every minute. Nothing seems to really calm him anymore except someone saying "She's doing fine."
"The same," Lisa replied, flopping down into the nearest chair. "She was awake for a little bit when I was up there, but she seemed really out of it. Her speech was really slow and she had trouble getting words out. Had trouble staying on the same topic too."
Steven followed her to the chair, wringing his hands. "What did you two talk about? I mean...I'm not trying to pry...but whenever I talk to her it's a bunch of mushy 'I love you's..." He sat down on the floor in front of her.
"Nothing of much substance... She couldn't handle it," Lisa said, biting her lip. "Asked how I did on finals, even though I haven't written them yet... Asked if I thought she should get glasses because her vision was so bad..."
Steven's face fell and he face palmed loudly. "Her glasses! No wonder she was squinting so much this morning...she hasn't probably been able to see....well, no wonder....did she...did she ask about me?" He was trying to stay focused, to not think about how much Mandy must be suffering.
"She kept asking for you, yeah," Lisa told him. "I tried to tell her that you were there earlier to see her, but she couldn't remember."
"Her short-term memory is completely shot..." he muttered darkly, shaking his head, "Is she...calm? She's always when I'm there, but Madame Pomfrey says she can get disoriented..."
"For the most part she was... Calm, I mean. But she did start to mutter random things when she began to drift off to sleep... Some things were in French! I didn't know Mandy even knew French."
At that, Steven had to laugh. "Same thing happens to me when I'm drunk, she tells me...perhaps it means we were French together in another life..." His smile died out eventually. "Did Madame Pomfrey say if there was any news?"
"News? About what?"
"Her condition," he answered.
"Well, she's quite obviously going to remain here until the end of the year, up in the infirmary... And then Madame Pomfrey said that she'd have to be taken to a hospital - perhaps even a Muggle one - to begin rehabilitation and recovery... However long that might take."
"Nothing's changed..." Steven frowned, "nothing."
"Like I told you..."
"She'll get better, won't she, Lisa?"
"I hope she does... Even though it takes months - or years, even...- to recover from the type of injury she sustained..."
"Years?" Steven's voice became quite quiet.
"Depending on if it's serious enough... And Mandy did take a nice crack to the head..."
"Don't talk about it like that," Steven pleaded.
Lisa buried her head in her hands. "I'm only repeating what Madame Pomfrey said. I don't like it any more than you do."
"I'm sorry," he said quickly, his voice dry, "it's just that it's been over a week...and it's like she's getting worse...”
"Well, she needs to be somewhere where a doctor can give her more attention, I think... Madame Pomfrey's great, but she has so may people to look out for... There's only so much she can do."
"I know...but...shouldn't she at least be able to...seem...I don't know...well?"
"I guess this goes even beyond what magical methods of treatment are capable of... Bloody unfair, if you ask me."
Steven sighed heavily. "That's what I want to do, Lisa."
"I want to make so that magic can fix it. I saved her life....and I want to save other people's..."
"You mean like a Healer?"
"...You'd be good at that."
"D'you really think so? Because I...kind of sent in a letter to St. Mungo's...and I dropped out of the Muggle University..." Steven mumbled.
Lisa blinked. "When? Have you heard anything back?"
"Not yet," he said.
"I reckon they're waiting to see what your N.E.W.T results are like, I suppose..."
"I suppose so," Steven seemed nervous again, "because that's my only plan now..."
"You'll do fine," Lisa assured him. "You always do."
"...this isn't going to be school anymore...it's the real world..."
"The big, bad, scary Real World.... Yeah. You have a point..."
Steven nodded. "I mean...what are you doing?"
Lisa shrugged. "Anything that'll take me out of England. I have to get away from here."
"I know the feeling..."
"...You want to leave too?"
"Don't we all?"
"You have a point..."
"..it's just so..I wanted to leave because it was dangerous..." he explained.
"You still want to? Even though the danger we've been living in these past few years... Appears to be over?"
"Not so much anymore," he admitted.
"Well, I still want out. Even though my parents will probably go completely mad when I tell them..."
Steven cocked his head to the side. "Why would they?"
"I'm their only child. They have absolutely smothered me all my eighteen years. They aren't about to let their baby get away so easily."
"I see," he nodded, "I'm an only child, too, but my mum's been here. She knows what it's like."
"Both of my parents attended here too... But that doesn't mean anything. They want me to stay close to home. Which I refuse to do."
Steven grinned slightly. "Do what you want. Not what they want."
"I've always done that. 'Rebel' is my unofficial middle name."
"Lisa Rebel Turpin?"
Lisa had to smile. "Well, not technically, like I said."
"Then what is it?" he asked.
"Lynn," Lisa replied, making a face.
Steven laughed softly. "Lynn?"
"After my grandmother," Lisa muttered.
"Well, that's nice," he said quickly in a serious tone.
"...So what's your middle name? You know mine."
"Promise not to laugh?”
"Oh, that all depends..." Lisa said, grinning.
"What's so funny about that?"
Steven sighed. "Steven Edward Joseph Thomas Austin Cornfoot."
Lisa blinked. "...Why all the names?"
"My mother couldn't decide...so she picked all of them." He looked quite unamused.
Lisa had to fight back a laugh, as she didn't think he'd be too fond of that. "Interesting," she finally said.
"Go ahead. Laugh."
She shook her head.
"Just...get it out..."
It was becoming quite evident that Lisa was having a hard time keeping the laughter in. She giggled. "Sorry," she managed.
"You do realise my birth announcement covers read 'SEJTAC', don't you?"
Lisa nodded. "I do..."
"What sort of child is named SEJTAC?!"
"Well, you were..."
Steven face palmed.
She giggled again. "Thankfully you can't get anything out of my initials, LLT. But Mandy's are JAB, if it makes you feel any better..."
"Well, slightly is better than nothing...."
"You still comfortable sitting on the floor like that?" Lisa suddenly asked, noticing that he was slumped over.
"I'm fine," he said absently, mind wandering back to Mandy again.
Lisa raised an eyebrow, but didn't inquire further. "Say... You up for a little evening excursion back to the lovely ol' Hospital Wing?"
Lisa nodded. "I know I just got kicked out of there, but I just realised I left my bag up there. I have go get it sometime."
Steven stood up quickly. "I'll go with you."
"Was thinking you might want to. That's why I asked."
"Of course....thanks for asking, I mean..."
"Welcome," Lisa replied, getting up out of her chair. "Ready to go now?"
They wordlessly made their way out of the common room then, and up and down the various hallways and staircases that eventually led to the Hospital Wing. "Pray Madame Pomfrey isn't in sight," Lisa muttered as she slowly opened the door that led inside.
Steven did so under his breath, glancing over his shoulder nervously.
Glancing around, Lisa noted with relief that the older woman was nowhere to be spotted. "Quick, behind the curtains," she breathed, hurrying over to the corner where Mandy's bed was located.
Doing as he was told, Steven dashed behind said curtains, trying to keep his heart from bursting out of his ribcage.
"Good, my things are still here," Lisa mumbled, spying her brown shoulder bag lying against the chair she had been occupying earlier on. She looked over at Mandy, who appeared to be sleeping peacefully.
Steven didn't hear Lisa, as he was at his girlfriend's side faster than she could get the words out. He took her hand carefully in his and lovingly wiped a few strands of hair from her face.
Lisa sat down in the nearest chair, quietly observing the two.
Steven lowered his face to hers and kissed her forehead softly. He repeated the same action on Mandy's nose and then lips. "I love you," he whispered.
As if on cue, Mandy's eyelids suddenly fluttered open.
Steven, now sitting on the side of her bed and resting his head on her shoulder, didn't notice.
Lisa, however, did notice. "Mandy!" She exclaimed softly, seeing her friend awaken.
At that, Steven's head shot up and a grin crossed his face as he say that she was awake.
Mandy blinked, slowly realising that there were people in the room with her once again. "Who... Who's... here?" She said, struggling a little with the words as she tried to make some sense of the blurriness that was her vision.
"Oh, it's me," said Steven quickly, massaging her hand in his, "It's Steven...and Lisa..."
"Know... y-your voice any... where," Mandy replied, squeezing his hand. "Late... v-visit, no?"
"Lisa forgot her bag," he explained slowly.
Lisa held it up in reply. "When I was here earlier," she said.
"N-Never... noticed. Can... Can't see."
"Lisa told me about that," interjected Steven, "I didn't think you'd be awake, or else I would have brought you you're glasses..." It pained him to hear the strain in her voice.
"Done... E...nough sleep for... t-two nights," Mandy murmured. "Need... wake up."
"You need your rest," Steven said, "So that you can become healthy again and you won't have to go to..." He closed his mouth quickly, looking to Lisa.
"Go... where?" Mandy asked, directing this to Lisa. She couldn't turn her head to face the other girl, but would've done so had she been able. "...Where?"
Lisa just stared at them. "Umm," she stammered, biting her lip, not knowing exactly what Steven meant.
"...St. Mungo's..." he finished awkwardly.
"No!" Mandy cried out. "No! D-Don't want... to go... there! St-Stay here."
Steven petted her hair to calm her down. "Shh. It's okay..."
Tears began to form in her eyes. "Bad... place! You-you not... there..."
"I'll follow you wherever you will go," Steven reassured her quietly.
Lisa nodded. "Me too," she said softly.
"But... don't... don't want St. M-Mungo's," Mandy said again, blinking her tears away.
Steven nodded slowly. "I know...I know how you hate it but...there's really no...the Healers are good there...they'll help you...you'll be able to talk properly again and walk and everything..."
"How... how long?" Mandy asked, wanting nothing more at this moment than to walk on two feet again. She hated being bedridden.
"...I honestly don't know," answered Steven after a moment, his voice dry.
"... I'm not sure either," Lisa replied, still talking softly. She did know that it would be a nice while, but wasn't sure how to break that to Mandy.
Steven gave her a half-smile, trying to reassure her. He knew how much she hated hospitals...
"Going to... be... a while, isn't it?" Mandy asked, confirming her fears.
"I'm sorry," he apologised rapidly, "I'm so, so sorry..."
"..Why?" Mandy was confused. What was he apologising for?
"For not being able to heal you fully," he murmured.
She squeezed his hand again. "Did all you-all you could, Steven... H-had not known the... spell, I would... not lie here."
Steven's face crumpled.
Mandy hated not being able to say exactly what she thought. Somehow, the words and phrases became broken between her mind and her mouth. "...Don't look... like that."
Steven looked back up at her slowly and forced himself to smile slightly. He squeezed her hand tightly.
"...H-Hate you being... mis-miserable," Mandy said, struggling to say the right words.
Lisa continued to watch in silence, biting down on her lip again.
"I'm not miserable," whispered Steven, "it's just hard....I wish you were better..."
"Get... better. I-I will" Mandy said, stressing the last word. "... Last thing I... d-do."
"Oh, don't say that..." his voice was slightly pleading.
"Getting better isn't going to be the last thing you do."
"...No, hope not... M-more things to... do after...wards."
"Yes," agreed Steven, "On the bright side...it looks like you won't be visiting your mother this summer after all."
Mandy had forgotten all about that. "Y-You're right... But... but she'll come here... once... she h-hears... about me."
"No, she won't."
"How... you know?"
"...won't let her," he said sternly, "neither'll Lisa."
Lisa nodded, confirming his statement. "You can deal with her later. Once you're better."
Mandy opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out, as it sometimes happened.
Steven rubbed his thumb against the inside of her palm soothingly. He knew it was hard for her.
"Hate when... that.... h-happens," Mandy muttered, frustrated. "Can... can't say what I-I... like."
"You could try and write it," Steven suggested.
Lisa immediately fished through her bag. "Here," she said, handing Mandy a piece of parchment and a quill. "Use this."
Mandy took the items, with a bit of difficulty, seeing as her arm still felt like it was made of lead. "Need... sit up," she murmured, attempting to do so.
Steven leapt up and helped to get Mandy in a sitting position. He handed her a book from a nearby bed stand to use as a surface to write against.
"Thank... you," She said, glancing up at him.
Steven smiled down at her.
Mandy thought for a moment what she wanted to say, and attempted to write it down on the parchment. But she noticed something rather quickly, much to her dismay. She was having trouble with writing, too. Letters came out backwards, words were spelled wrong. Her handwriting was rather shaky as well. She bit her lip again to keep the tears that had suddenly formed in her eyes from falling.
Alarmed, Steven looked over to Lisa, his face white. He had no idea that her ability to write would have been affected as well. He sat back down on her bed, facing her. Placing his hand over hers, he timidly smiled at her. "It's alright, love..."
Lisa's face had paled considerably when she noticed too. Oh no....
Mandy shook her head, a tear or two escaping despite her attempts to stop them. "No... Not all right. I can-can't even write any...more. What else... matter with m-me?"
"It can all be fixed," reassured Steven, "Nothing's wrong with you..."
"There... is! Just... l-look at me."
Steven looked at her, not blinking.
I... can't.... t-talk like I used t-to... Fool it... it up... Writing's funny... Can-can't move... m-my own..."
"Mandy, do you think little things like that change who you are? You're still Jacqueline Amanda Brocklehurst. You're still a Ravenclaw and you're still the woman I love..."
"But... I'm not the... the old m-me any...more. Feel d-different."
"Everything you feel is physical," he said slowly, "I mean...you still love me, don't you?"
"'Course... I do," Mandy replied softly, meeting his gaze again.
"Then nothing else matters...everything else will be fixed, I promise."
"Want t-to... be fixed now. H-hate being... like this."
"What did you always used to tell me?" asked Steven with a small smile, "Have patience...patience is a virtue..."
"Taste... of m-my own... m-medicine, huh? Should learn... learn to follow... m-my advice sometimes..."
"Don't worry about it," he laughed.
"Mandy? Patient? Steven, you sure you've got the right girl?" Lisa grinned, finally speaking.
Mandy had forgotten that Lisa was in the room. In fact, it didn't register with her that her friend had been there in the room a nice while. "Lisa! When did you get here?"
"Lisa came in with me," said Steven, "Remember?"
Mandy shook her head.
Steven bit his lip. "Well, that's alright...she was the reason we came up here...we had to get her bag..."
"This one," Lisa explained, once again holding up said bag. "We snuck up here y'know... Madame Pomfrey said you needed rest and kicked me out when I was up here earlier."
"Do you remember that?" Steven questioned Mandy slowly.
Mandy shook her head again in response. "...No..." she whispered.
"Short t-term memory.... shot..." She murmured under her breath, feeling distressed again.
"It's fine," said Steven quickly, "please don't worry about it..."
Steven shook his head. "No worries. None."
"Can... can't help it..."
"Can you try?"
"You can do it," Steven said, squeezing her hand, "I know you can."
"Hard," she said again. "It be... d-difficult for m-me... to do. But I... I know I have... t-to try."
"There's a good girl."
"Steven's right," Lisa cut in. "I mean, this should be a piece of cake for you, compared to the past couple years."
Steven shot Lisa a grateful look.
She shrugged, as if to say it was nothing. Which it was, seeing as she didn't have to think twice about it. "But seriously, Mandy. Follow his advice. Don't stress things - which, knowing you is probably a foreign concept-" She broke off and grinned, slightly. "Just... take things one day at a time."
"..and you're not going to be in this alone," Steven added.
"Definitely not," Lisa said, confirming his statement.
Steven turned back to the sick girl. "What do you say to that, Mandy?"
"...I d-don't know what... t-to say... to that," she finally murmured.
"Say that you'll try?"
"That's all we ask."
"...Best friends... ever."
At that, Steven had to laugh.
"You. You're so sweet."
"But... why is th-that funny?" Mandy asked again.
"Then... why d-did you... laugh a m-moment ago?"
"Don't worry about it," he said quickly, "Are you thirsty? Hungry? Sleepy?"
"Hungry," Mandy said promptly. "...Very."
"What would you like? I'm sure Lisa would stay here with you while I ran down to the kitchens..."
Lisa nodded in confirmation.
"...Surprise m-me," Mandy finally said.
"Anything you don't want," Steven clarified as he stood.
She shook her head. "I'll eat any...anything this point.... But d-don't get any... thing t-too awful, ok?"
"Note to self, no tofu," he joked.
He bent down and kissed her on the forehead. "No tofu." He turned to Lisa. "Watch her, okay?"
"Aye, aye, sir," Lisa answered, giving him a mock salute.
Steven pointed at Lisa, half-stern, before smiling and walking away.
Lisa giggled. "Don't take all night!" she called after him.
True to his word, Steven was back a short time later, carrying food.
"Excellent," said Lisa. "I'm starved..."
"M-me too..." remarked Mandy.
"Here," Steven said, handing them each a small box, "I have cookies and brownies and all other sorts of things to rot our teeth..."
"Oh, brilliant!" Lisa proclaimed, digging in and immediately taking a large bite of brownie. "Mmm..."
"..Th-thanks," Mandy said, grasping the box in her good hand. "Just what I-I... was in the... m-mood for."
"Here, let me help," Steven offered, taking the box back from Mandy and opening it for her.
"...Th-thanks," she murmured again. She hated the fact that she couldn't do such a simple task without difficulty.
Steven lifted one of the chocolate chip cookies from the box and handed it to her.
"Looks... good," she said, reaching over to take said cookie in her left hand, her good hand.
Steven took one form himself and took a bite of it, nodding.
"M-my favour...ite," Mandy murmured though a mouthful.
Meanwhile, Lisa had attacked her brownies, having eaten all but one.
"Y'know," said Steven suddenly, "For the good being a Ravenclaw does me...I completely forgot about bringing something back to drink..."
"Mhmm. Smart, you are," Lisa said, swallowing. "Here, I'll go down this time... I need to get out of this chair for a bit anyway. Stretch my legs.”
"Would I have offered?"
"Point." He turned to Mandy, "Want anything specific?"
"...Something... something cold." She said, after thinking it over.
Lisa nodded and turned to Steven. "And you?"
"Got it... Back in a flash," Lisa said, before disappearing out of sight. Truth be told, she was going to purposely take her time. She wanted Steven and Mandy to have a bit of time alone.
Steven waited until Lisa had left the Infirmary before setting the box down on the empty chair and sitting himself back on the edge of Mandy's bed.
"You th-think... she left on purpose?" Mandy asked.
"Lisa. D-did she go... on purpose, you th-think?"
Steven caught on and winked. "The only purpose she had was cold beverages, m'dear...at least...that's what I'm going to believe."
"She could've... let you go for th-them..."
"She understands us."
"She d-does... yeah..."
Steven interlaced his fingers with hers. "She won't be back for awhile, I imagine."
"Knowing her... she-she'll take th-the scenic... route back... Which is a...a good th-thing."
"Mmm, yes, very good," Steven murmured, leaning down and kissing Mandy on the cheek.
The first hint of a smile to grace Mandy's face in days appeared then. "... And she can... stay a-away..."
Steven laughed softly.
"N-not th-that I have... any..thing against her..."
"I know love," he said, "I miss you too."
"Can't do... th-things I'd like to..."
"You can still kiss me..."
"...Come closer th-then," she murmured.
Steven did so, leaning in until he was millimetres away from her face.
"N-not close... enough..."
Obediently, Steven leaned in closer.
"...Better," Mandy said, before kissing him lightly on the lips.
Steven kissed her again, this time longer.
Had she missed this. It had been what, a week? A week and a half? She kissed back, frustrated that that was all she could do.
Carefully, as if playing with a fragile china doll, Steven's hand traced her hairline, brushing her hair back.
Unhooking her fingers from his, Mandy slowly worked them up his arm, resting them on his shoulder.
Steven was careful to make all of his touches slow and meticulous - he didn't want to hurt her or make her feel uncomfortable.
"Wait... Perhaps we ought t-to... wait," Mandy murmured.
"Hmm?" He pulled away slightly, smiling down at her.
"Perhaps we ought t-to... wait," She repeated. "It's hard t-to take... th-things th-this slow..."
Steven nodded slowly and sat up. "I'm sorry..."
"I started it..."
Steven shook his head, "Either way...we need to just...take a break, until we can get you sorted out..."
Mandy nodded. "Which had b-better be soon..."
"Of course it will," confirmed he.
"'Cause th-this is hard."
"I'm sure it is."
Mandy heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Lisa. "Do you th-think... one more?"
Steven nodded and leaned down. Lovingly, he caught his lips on hers.
"Hopefully this will be all-" Lisa broke off as she walked through the curtains surrounding Mandy's bed. "-right..." Oops...
Steven pulled away and looked over at Lisa sheepishly. It wasn't like this was the most she had ever caught them doing...
"Sorry," she murmured, blushing faintly. "That's twice..."
"Don't worry about it," he muttered.
"S'ok, Lisa," Mandy said, speaking up. "Really..."
They stood in uncomfortable silence for a moment before Lisa cleared her throat and held out the drinks she had gone off to get. "Peace offering?"
"Thanks." Steven took two of the drinks from Lisa and handed one to Mandy.
"What is th-this?" Mandy asked, eyeing the bottle carefully.
"Pumpkin juice, I believe," replied Lisa, taking a swallow of hers.
"It is," confirmed Steven, taking a drink of his own.
"Good ol' pumpkin juice... Have loved this stuff ever since they gave it to us at the Sorting feast," Lisa said, taking a bite of a cookie.
At that Steven grinned and looked to Mandy. "D'you remember when you spilled your glass of pumpkin juice all over me at that feast?"
Mandy nodded, a smile gracing her face as well. "Quite well... Oh, M-Merlin, I was... quite... the klutz..."
Lisa giggled. "What, you implying she still is?"
Steven nodded slowly and winked.
He laughed and said: "Well it's true!"
"Are too! Isn't she, Lisa?"
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with Steven on this one, Mandy..." came Lisa's reply, pretending to shield herself.
Mandy's response to that was to flick a bit of cookie at her.
"But I think it's cute," Steven added for good measure.
"...You would..." Mandy grumbled under her breath, good-naturedly.
"Is it so wrong?" he asked.
Steven smiled. "Good then."
Lisa, who was watching, just shook her head, grinning, which resulted in Mandy flicking more food at her. "Hey!" she cried. "Enough!"
"We don't want Madame Pomfrey to find out that we snuck food in for you," Steven said.
"Or that we were up here at all," added Lisa.
"Would you... get in... trouble f-for coming up... after hours?" Mandy asked, finishing her pumpkin juice.
"Probably..." answered Lisa. "...If we were caught."
"If," echoed Steven.
"Which we're not going to, of course."
Ironically, Steven's ears picked up movement in Madame Pomfrey's office. He turned to Lisa. "If we're not going to, we better leave now..."
Lisa's eyes widened at the noise. "Oh frig... Yes, we'd better go..." She quickly gathered all the empty food boxes together and stuffed them in her bag.
Steven looked to Mandy and gave her one last kiss on the forehead. "I'll be back tomorrow, as soon as Madame Pomfrey lets me, alright?"
Mandy nodded. "Okay... It's n-not like I'll... be going any...where," she said dryly
Steven chuckled softly and gave her hand a squeeze. "Sleep well, Mandy."
"You...too. Love you."
"I love you."
"Steven... C'mon," Lisa hissed, after saying goodnight to Mandy.
"Goodnight," he whispered, not giving her a chance to respond before Lisa and he had disappeared around her curtain.