Rosie and Al leave quietly and Clearwater helps me walk the three steps to Izzy's bed, I sit down and she fusses around me for a moment, sorting out drip lines and putting a pillow behind my back and then she leaves.
Izzy looks like she could be sleeping. The liquid from her ear is gone, the tubes are gone, even the bruise on her head has been disguised. She could be sleeping.
I reach out to touch her. She's cold, Izzy never liked the cold. I pull the blanket up higher, tuck her arms in, only her head is uncovered.
I wanted to talk to her, to apologise, but now I'm sat beside her the words don't come, the tears do but I ignore them.
The time seems to fly by and before I know it Auror Potter is back, Clearwater lingering behind him.
I look at them and I can see that Clearwater is talking to me but I don't catch the words. Auror Potter seems to notice because he comes forward and crouches in front of me.
"Matilda, I need to take Izzy now."
"I…I wanted to talk to her but…I can't."
"You don't need her here to talk to her, the loved ones we've lost never leave us, you can talk to her anytime, she'll hear you." I nod and then realise something that seems important.
"In the…in the morgue, will you make sure she's not with our mother? I don't want them to be together."
"Izzy can't be hurt anymore."
"I know but…it wouldn't be right."
"Okay, I'll make sure of it." He says, standing up. I nod and then lean forward, painfully, and kiss Izzy on the forehead. When I lean back pain rips through my side and Clearwater notices.
"Let's get you back into bed, Matilda." I nod and make to stand up but Clearwater levitates me and within a few seconds I'm tucked in again.
I don't watch Izzy leave, I close my eyes and then drink the Potion that Clearwater brings me. When I open my eyes again it's the middle of the night and the bed next to me is empty.
The next few days pass quickly and by the weekend Clearwater tells me she's happy to discharge me.
"Are you sure she's ready, Madam Clearwater?" Asks Rosie, looking at me and then the nurse.
"I wouldn't discharge her if I wasn't, Miss Weasley."
"I want to get back to the Tower, Rosie." I say, glancing across at Izzy's bed.
"Perhaps you could fetch Matilda's clothes?" Clearwater suggests. I tell Rosie what to bring and she leaves the room.
"Can I fly yet?" I ask the nurse, Al is at Quidditch practise.
"Yes, but under supervision, I'll ask Ginny to observe your practises."
"Thanks." The door to the hospital wing opens and Lupin comes in with McGonagall.
"All set, Penny?" McGonagall asks, conjuring two chairs by my bed.
"Yes, Miss Weasley is just collecting some clothes, I'll be in my office if you need me." She leaves and the two Professors sit down.
"How are you feeling, Matilda?" McGonagall asks, the use of my first name is unnerving.
"I'm fine, thank you." I reply, looking at my hands.
"I'm sure you're quite a long way from fine, but at least you're being optimistic." She replies.
"Are you sure you're ready for class?" Lupin asks. I nod but don't reply.
"We have arranged for Izzy's funeral to be on Wednesday morning, at the Ministry." I nod again.
"You will be escorted by Professor Lupin, Madam Potter and Auror Potter. Mr Fred Weasley has asked to attend, do you have any objection?"
"No, they were best friends."
"Rosie and Al also want to come with you, is that okay?" Lupin asks, I nod unsurprised.
"Your father's trial has been scheduled for a few weeks time, Aurors Potter and Lupin will need to meet with you several times beforehand to go through everything."
"Will I have to speak? At the trial?"
"I'm not sure, we'll have to wait and see what Mr Parker's defence lawyer wishes…"
"Mr Baxter? He'll make me talk." I say, bitterly. Baxter is a creep and always has been, even my mother didn't like him and that's saying a lot.
"One step at a time, Matilda." Lupin says gently.
"Your mother's funeral will be on Thursday after…"
"I don't want to go." I say firmly. McGonagall stops and looks surprised.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Very sure."
"If you change your mind then let us know."
"I won't. What's going to happen to me in the summer?"
"We'll sort that out after the trial."
"Why? Do you think he'll…" I can't even say the words.
"Matilda, regardless of what happens in the trial, he will never hurt you again. I promise you that." Lupin says, in the sternest voice I have ever heard him use.
I'm glad when Rosie arrives with my clothes, she looks unsure of whether to approach but Lupin waves her over and then both him and McGonagall leave.
When I'm dressed Clearwater comes out and tells me to take things easy and that if I need her just ask, anytime. I nod and only then notice how tired she looks.
"I don't blame you, Madam Clearwater."
"Excuse me?" She asks, confused.
"About Izzy, I know you did your best."
"Thank you, Matilda. It's been quite a while since I have had a child as young as Izzy die under my care."
"There was nothing you could have done, you said that."
"And it's true, but it was still a horrible event. Take care of yourself, Matilda, I'll be keeping an eye on you." I nod and leave the hospital wing with Rosie.
The common room is relatively empty when we arrive, although I notice Fred Weasley sitting alone by the window. I walk over to him and Rosie follows.
"Fred?" He jumps and then turns to me.
"Oh, hello Matilda, I'm glad to see you're better."
"Thanks, are you okay?" He nods too much so I continue, "its okay not to be okay."
"Then I'm not okay, I miss her."
"Me too." Rosie goes over and hugs Fred and he lets her, when they break apart he tries to smile at me.
Before I can say anything else I hear a familiar voice call out my name, when I turn around Al is running towards me.
"Hey." I say, he engulfs me in a hug and I relax into it.
"Hi, I went to the hospital wing and you're bed was empty and I thought…" His voice tails off and I feel bad for him.
"I'm here, don't worry." He pulls back and smiles, nodding his head.
"How was practise?" Fred asks, wiping away some tears on his face.
"Alright, James wants to know if you're allowed to fly?"
"Yes, but your mom has to supervise practises for a while."
"She's there all the bloody time anyway!" He replies with an easy smile.
The rest of the day seems to take forever. People keep coming up to me, telling me how sorry they are. By ten at night I'm ready to escape to the dormitory.
I lie in bed with the curtains drawn around my bed, staring at the canopy. I can't believe that Izzy is gone, that I didn't keep her safe.
At some point Rosie opens the curtains and crawls into the bed with me, I cry on her shoulder for what seems like hours and then fall into a fitful sleep.
I wake early, before dawn, and creep into the shower. My bruises are still there and I push on them, using the pain to punish myself for failing.
When I finish I dress slowly and walk into the Common Room. I'm surprised to see that it's not empty, in spite of the time.
James Potter is sitting on one of the tables scribbling an essay.
"James?" I ask, he jump and then relaxes when he sees me.
"Oh, hi Matilda, you're up early."
"Yeah, why are you?" James sighs theatrically.
"You've discovered my secret."
"What secret?" I ask, sitting opposite him.
"Everyone thinks I just mess about and play Quidditch and I just happen to get amazing grades without doing any work."
"You work in the mornings?"
"Yep, I get up at five every morning and do essays, even at the weekend, then I go back to bed and wake up with minutes to spare, I've got a reputation to maintain." I smile and almost laugh.
"Why don't you just work at night?"
"I've always been an early bird, don't tell anyone though, especially not Libby."
"Why not Libby?"
"Because it annoys her so much that I get perfect grades without doing any work."
"I can't believe you go to all this trouble to keep your grades up."
"I want to be an Auror, like Dad." James says, looking serious all of a sudden.
"I thought you wanted to play Quidditch."
"That's what I tell people."
"You're a strange boy, James."
"I know, it's part of my charm. Anyway, what are you doing up?"
"Just couldn't sleep." I mutter, looking at the table.
"I guess, just couldn't stay in bed getting annoyed with myself."
"You can help me design a new Quidditch workout if you want?"
"I thought you were working?"
"I can multi-task, there's the notebook, see if you can find some new exercises." I pick up the leather bound notebooks and spend the next hour disappearing into Quidditch.
It isn't until I hear the other Gryffindors waking up that I realise James has snuck back to bed.
Breakfast in the Great Hall is almost unbearable, after five minutes I'm ready to bolt but Al holds my hand under the table.
"It's okay, just eat your breakfast, they'll have something else to talk about tomorrow." I nod and look down the table to the first years. Izzy's absence is almost unnoticeable, she was so tiny that she could easily blend into the background. I can almost pretend she's there, talking to Fred.
Fred looks up and he catches me eye, in that moment the lie I had taught myself crumbles and I see grief looking back at me. I run from the Hall.
Al catches up with me near the Defence Classroom.
"Matilda?" He asks, approaching as nervously as if I were a temperamental Hippogriff.
"She's gone Al, she's really gone, I'm never going to…" Al pulls me into a hug and my words are lost as he holds me.
We break apart when we hear footsteps, it's just Lupin walking to his classroom.
"Alright, Matilda?" He asks, opening the classroom door to let us in. I don't reply but I know that Al says something.
We sit at the back of the classroom, Rosie arrives within five minutes and joins our bench. She pulls a napkin with toast in out of her bag and passes it to me.
"We can't eat in class." I say, almost to myself.
"The bell hasn't rang yet." Rosie says, glancing at the clock.
I eat a piece of toast but it tastes like rubber. Al eats the rest and the class starts.
The topic is shield charms but I'm grateful when Lupin says it's a theoretical lesson. I'm happy to pretend to read. It isn't till the words start to blend on the page that I realise I'm falling asleep on Al's shoulder. I'm not sure I care.
A/N Sorry for the delay, this chapter is mainly about Matilda's grief.
Next chapter; Izzy's funeral
Allen Pitt- You'll hear more about her father in the next few chapters.
WhatsTheTimeMrWolf- Yep Al and Rosie will be a great comfort for her.
LUG-14- Yep Al and Matilda's relationship won't be an easy ride for them.