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Running on Empty
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Chapter 3 - Running on Empty
It was probably a good thing that I was living and teaching at Hogwarts. If I’d had to subsist on my own cooking after Ron’s death, I’m fairly certain that I would have starved because in the immediate aftermath I didn’t want to do anything, including cook. As it was, I was extremely grateful for the order that Hogwarts imposed – my first class met at 9:00 a.m., five days a week, and my second class met at 2:00 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. As far as I can remember, I made it to all of my classes, and thanks to very detailed outlines from the prior times I’d taught each class, I had essentially nothing to prepare. I almost never made it to breakfast, skipped lunch more often than not, and would be dragged to dinner by one or another faculty member. I can’t really tell you what I did when I wasn’t in the classroom – I was in a rather robust fog most of the time, the exceptions being the times when I’d become a wrathful, raging lunatic.
It was the latter condition that earned a visit from Madam Pessary, the matron of the Hogwarts Hospital Wing. I’d chided some student in the hallways and what began as a mild correction ended up as a screaming harangue; it wasn’t one of my finest moments as an educator.
Word of this got around, I’m sure of it. After my last class of the day, Madam Pessary was standing nonchalantly in the hallway.
“Do you have a few minutes, Mrs. Weasley?” she asked.
“Am I in trouble?” I asked. An unprovoked vision of me being summarily tossed out through the gates of the school came to mind. Part of me thought that wouldn’t be an entirely bad thing.
“Probably not – at least in the sense that I think you mean,” she responded quietly. She moved nimbly to a seat across from my desk, taking out a portfolio and a biro. One of the creeping innovations in the Wizarding world since my time as a student is that, aside from a few fossils, no one uses quill pens any more.
She asked me a series of question – which I answered. Part of me tried to think ahead to where these questions were leading, but it was too much effort to do anything other than answer the questions asked.
“Do you want to kill yourself?” she asked with an air of finality.
That question took some thinking.
“No,” I replied. “Sometimes, when I think about it, I want to die, but I have no desire to kill myself,” I elaborated.
Madam Pessary did some quick sums on her writing pad.
“You score a solid 45 on the Goldberg inventory,” she announced.
“Is that good?” I asked.
She smiled and shook her head.
“It means moderate to severe depression.”
“Are you going to give me a Cheering Charm?” I asked bitterly.
“No, Mrs. Weasley – you’re not sad, you’re depressed – there’s a difference,” she replied firmly.
And so began my involvement with modern Muggle psycho-pharmaceuticals. In a story too tangential to this one, I was evaluated by a mediwitch. She prescribed a course of medicine which was fulfilled at the Muggle chemist shop in Hooper. The bottle of pills sat on my dresser for two days before I relented and took one of the pea-sized pills before breakfast. By lunchtime the fog had lifted as if burned off by a bright summer day.
I wasn’t happy – far from it – but I could think again.
Once I could think again, I wondered how Harry was getting along. Part of me felt shame that I’d gone months without thinking of him, having been mired in my own sadness and fog.
Ginny had died the same day that Ron died. Rival gangs had been involved with smuggling – both magical and Muggle contraband. The younger, upstart organization decided to liquidate the competition, which sent some of the survivors into St Mungo’s. Ginny had been up to her elbows in a wizard’s chest, repairing all sorts of vascular damage, when a member of the rival gang got into St Mungo’s, apparently to finish the job he’d begun that morning. According to the security monitor, Ginny successfully fended off several magical attacks while completing the surgical repair. She failed to notice, however, that the assailant was dressed in the latest fashion in explosive vests, armed with a “deadman” switch. The operating theatre became an inferno when the device exploded; death was instantaneous for everyone involved. Ginny’s last action had been to push her patient’s gurney out of the operating theatre, into the recovery room.
Ron had been aware of the investigation that was targeting both gangs, and agreed to step in for a week while the lead Auror assigned to the taskforce took enough leave to get married. Ron had often taken other Auror’s shifts to allow them to attend to their families; it was one of the things that earned him rather fierce loyalty among the Auror corps. When the news of the gang battles hit his desk, he took a crew of Aurors to arrest the known members of both gangs. The survivors were successfully apprehended – all but one – and that was the one who managed to kill Ron.
Ginny was buried in the churchyard at Godric’s Hollow – she was a Potter after all. Ron was buried in the family plot in Ottery St Catchpole. I’d attended both funerals; Ron’s was in the morning and Ginny’s was in the evening. I suppose I saw Harry at both funerals, but I was so dazed I have very little recollection of the events. After the funerals, I wouldn’t see Harry again for months.
After coming out of my fog, I put off doing anything about Harry for another day. I’d developed an amazing proficiency in procrastination over the past few months, so it wasn’t entirely surprising that I stretched it out that long.
It was Friday, and I’d just finished with my last class of the day. The students seemed to have noticed that I was back in my right mind again, rather than going through the motions of teaching, and some of the more eager upper level students would stay after class. Some of them were just inveterate brownnosers, and others were kindred spirits to a certain buck-toothed girl who’d come to this school what seemed like a lifetime ago. Ordinarily I’d stay as long as they wished, but I had plans for the evening that didn’t include matrix calculations of energy consumption in advanced transfiguration.
My plans, it seemed, did not survive contact with determined swots.
I wasn’t able to leave Hogwarts until well after dinner. It was dark by the time I left the Great Hall, and part of me wanted to call it a day and go back to my flat, not because I was tired, but because I was afraid of the reception I was going to get – or not get, as the case may be.