I shift uncomfortably and try to readjust myself in this tiny bed that’s as hard as an eight-hundred year old petrified troll head.
It’s been days since the events in the labyrinth. After a couple of days of just sleeping, I woke to the news that thankfully all of us are going to be just fine. Padma, Susan, and Lav have been treated for their injuries and Justin is apparently getting some hypnotic-chanting treatment in a locked ward. I can’t help but wonder how fine he could be if they’re detaining him somewhere and singing to him. If anything is broken, I hope the Mind Healers are able to put Justin back together again. The Healers here at Hippocrates Imenhotep (say that name fast ten times fast) have made it very clear that Oliver and I, to a lesser extent, need to stay here to recuperate before heading back home.
I tug on the sheet, trying not to hit myself in the chest or strain anything (broken ribs and torn muscles still need time to heal even with magical intervention). I accidentally pull it from where it was tucked under the mattress at the bottom of the bed, revealing my feet which are dangling helplessly off the end. Because of the bandages and the reknitting bones, I can’t reach down to recover my own feet. I groan. Not again. Last time I was like this for hours.
“Try lying diagonal, mate.”
I look up to find Oliver sitting up in his bed across the room, grinning. He’s still a little pale, but it’s a drastic improvement from the alarming bluish hue he had for days.
“Hey, you’re awake,” I say surprised, but happy. “I thought they put you out for a while with all of that incense and healing spells.”
“Is that why my bed stinks like it does?” asks Oliver, raising his eyebrows and looking around. “I thought it was me.” He holds up the unburned end of a bundle of grasses and what looks like sticks and sniffs and then gags. “Ugh, smells like Wartcap Powder and cat urine.” He immediately drops the unburned incense over the side of his bed where it lands on the marble floor with a quiet swooshing sound.
“Nice,” I say, smiling. “I thought it smelled more like a combination between moldy yogurt, sour milk, and month-old potato curry.”
“I’m not going to ask how or why you know what that smells like.”Ah, the joy of returning home after a month away.
I’m reminded once again about the outcome of Peru and how bizarre it was replanting myself back in London after Ernie’s death. I can’t help but dread going back to home again for some reason. Maybe it has something to do with coming to terms with the fact that none of us are positive about what happened with the Horcrux – at least I can’t remember anything. Maybe Padma knows….
She and I haven’t had a chance to really talk yet. I’ve been sleeping up until yesterday, and since then I think she’s been reluctant to address the issue of me leaving her out of the whole Greece escapade because she’s concerned about me. But I know that once I’m better, I’m in for an earful. I know I’m in trouble. I deserve pretty much anything that she gives me – I just hope that my stay in the ward for the severely hexed is relatively short and painless.
I position myself diagonal on the bed, but my feet are still hanging off the end. I gaze at the frescos painted on the small domed ceiling of our room. The art is amazing, but even the moving images of Greek athletes and gods now fail to entertain. Oliver is fiddling with his pillows and flopping around. He picks up a magazine and then lays it back down.
“This is bullocks,” I say finally. “Are you as uncomfortable as I am?”
Oliver wiggles his toes under his sheets and I see that his feet are dangling off the bed as well. “Bored,” is all he says frowning. “I hate doing nothing. Do you know what happened to my broom? A couple of laps around the pitch in some fresh air would do me some good.”
“Yeah,” I say, liking the prospect of getting out of this bed and this room that reeks like cat urine and food mold. I haven’t been on a broom since my short stint as Chaser back in sixth year, but strangely I feel like flying would be a great way to leave all of this behind for a while.
Oliver and I look at each other, glance across the room where two hoverchairs squat by the door, and then grin slowly. Without a word we turn over our covers and swing our legs over the side of our stone-lined midget beds. I test my feet on the floor and ease myself forward until I can push myself into a standing position. The room sways and I hastily reach for the edge of the round marble with the mosaic top teetering next to my bed.
“Whoa,” breathes Oliver from the other side of the room as he leans heavily against the wall, shaking his head as if to clear it. Apparently days spent not moving and stuck in bed do have an effect, regardless if you are a professional athlete or not. But both of us are determined to do something other than just sit here, so we slowly make our way over to two hoverchairs.
“Not too bad,” says Oliver, the smile returning to his face as he checks out the controls on his chair once we’re both sitting comfortably. “It’ll be a good broom replacement.”
I glance down at the small buttons on the arm rest, my heart beating excitedly in my chest. Then I notice that the commands are written in Greek. But it seems like Oliver has read my mind.
“We don’t need to know Greek – these things are intuitive,” he says confidently, his finger hovering over a bright green button with a funny leaf on it. “Watch, this is eassyyyyyyyy – whaooo!” He goes zooming out the door where I catch sight of his hoverchair turning abruptly and then streaking off down the hall, his white patient’s robes streaming behind him.
Not wanting Oliver to have all the fun and curious about where he’s going, I pound on the identical green button and the chair lurches forward. I find myself I’m racing down the hall, the chair carrying me to wherever the green leaf button leads to with my head smashed against the back of the chair and a huge grin plastered on my face. “Whooo!” I yell, unable to help myself. Holy Merlin, I need to get one of these!
After zooming down a handful of marble corridors, through a Roman-style bath, narrowly missing a fountain spurting bubbles and pink water, and then past a group of shrieking witches running every which way, the hoverchair comes to a halt in a huge garden full of fig and olive trees. Grape vines dangle from overhead trellises and purple globes hang heavily from them, ripe and ready to eat as the sun filters through the leaves. I’m breathless and laughing and barely notice the pain in my chest.
Oliver’s face has color in it again and his hair is standing up in all directions from windy ride. He’s got bubbles sticking to him and his white robes are flecked with pink moisture. “Where’d that fountain come from?” he laughs. “Did you pass those witches?” He holds up a pink towel.
My eyes grow wide, “You didn’t!” I snort as realization hits. “That was a witches-only healing bath!”
Oliver nods and gasps and sputters, “I just ended up with this towel over my face. Some witch lost it….”
We burst out laughing.
Suddenly, we hear loud voices talking in Greek coming from one of the entrances. We glance at each other. It’s clear that neither of us fancy being hauled back to our room and risk having our new form of entertainment be confiscated.
“This one,” I whisper, pointing to an orange button with what looks like a weird-shaped loaf of bread on it. “Maybe it’s the kitchens. I’m hungry.”
Oliver grins at me, and with a nod we slam our hands down and are rocketing away back through the halls of Hippocrates Imenhotep.