Lois sat working
quietly on the nightly report, ready for the change over with the morning shift
in a couple of hours. The ward was
almost completely silent, with only a few snuffles and soft snores from the
peacefully sleeping children. Most of
the beds were empty tonight as all of the children who were well enough had
been discharged home in time for the weekend.
In fact it had been pretty quiet for a week or so now, and Lois and her
colleagues had used the time to complete the tasks that, although not important
enough to take precedent over caring for the sick children, still needed to be
carried out to ensure the smooth running of a children’s ward in a busy London
Sighing, Lois set down
her pen, finished with her paperwork.
Her colleague, Tom Wilkes, who was enjoying a coffee in the small ward
office they all shared, looked up at her curiously.
‘You all right Lois?’
‘Fine, I was just
thinking about Harry. I hate the
thought of him having to go back to that family. I wish we could keep him in a bit longer,’ she admitted with
Tom nodded his
agreement. ‘They’re certainly not the
most caring of relatives.’
Indeed not, Lois thought with disgust. She had been on duty when the Dursleys had
eventually turned up at the hospital almost a full day after Harry had first
been admitted. She had expected them to
be beside themselves with worry for their nephew, but instead they had only
seemed annoyed at having to come down to the hospital at all.
Although she hadn’t
known it at the time, Lois had later discovered that Harry hadn’t had so much
as a bus pass on him when he was found.
The only clue to his identity was the fact that one of the witnesses
thought they recognised him as living locally.
When no one had come forward to report a missing child hours after his
accident had happened, the police had questioned the man again who, when
pressed, thought Harry might belong to a family who lived in Privet Drive; a
rather large father and son, and a woman with an unusually long neck.
Once they had been
tracked down, Mr and Mrs Dursley had apparently been furious that Harry’s
accident had resulted in a visit from the police. They had grudgingly explained that they had not been looking for
him, as he was supposed to have been staying with a friend. Lois, however, seriously doubted the truth
of that story. After huffing and puffing about the difficulties in missing time
from his very important work, Mr Dursley had offhandedly identified the
unconscious Harry, while Mrs Dursley and their extremely large son, had refused
to budge from the office chairs they had occupied since they’d arrived.
‘He’s fit enough though
Lo,’ Tom’s voice interrupted her reverie.
‘Fit enough with a
loving family looking after him maybe,’ she argued back.
‘I know,’ Tom consoled,
‘but Harry’s not a baby; he doesn’t need constant watching and apart from
anything else, he wants to go home.’
That was the confusing
thing for Lois. There was certainly no
love lost between Harry and the Dursleys, but he was indeed desperate to go
home. Not a doctor was allowed past his
bed, without pleas from the young boy to be discharged.
‘Anyway,’ Tom said
changing the subject before she could argue further. ‘You never said earlier -
what happened to your holiday plans, I thought you were supposed to finish last
inwardly. It was true she had changed
her holiday dates at the last minute, but she hadn’t admitted to anyone the
real reason why - Harry. Lois had
always had a tendency to become too attached to her patients, a tendency she
had done her level best to curb over the years. While a certain level of empathy with the people under her care,
made her a better, more considerate nurse, too much could be damaging
emotionally. Every hurt, every failure,
every setback her patients suffered became her own, leaving her psychologically
drained and lacking the mental resources she needed to deal with her work on a
With no little effort,
she had therefore trained herself, for the most, to maintain the necessary
professional distance she needed to be able to carry out her work. Occasionally however, despite her every
effort, someone slipped under her guard and there was simply nothing she could
do to prevent it. Harry had been just
such a case. She had felt an immediate
connection with the unconscious boy, which had only deepened when he
awoke. She had found him to be
amazingly self-possessed for one so young, seemingly alone in the world despite
the Dursleys and intensely proud, never showing an ounce of self-pity for the
predicament he found himself in.
When it became apparent
no one would be coming to visit him, Lois had taken to stopping by his bed
whenever she had a spare minute to chat.
He was generally cheerful and uncomplaining of his lot, although the
occasional shadows in his bright green eyes hinted at past sorrows. She assumed it was the loss of his parents
at such an early age; Harry had told her they had died when he was a baby and
that he had lived with his aunt and uncle ever since. Lois had been shocked to learn he had lived with the Dursleys for
so long - how could anyone care for a child from a baby and still have no
obvious emotional attachment for them?
Still, Harry had seemingly done a pretty good job of raising himself,
because to her surprise, he was a very pleasant and polite child, even after
having only the Dursleys for role models.
Despite her growing
attachment, Lois had done her best to think of him no more than any of the
other youngsters in her care - until last week that was. The night before her holiday was due to
start, she had been sitting in the office when the sound of muffled moaning had
her heading out into the darkened ward.
The noise had been
coming from Harry’s bed, but stopped before she reached him. She had watched him cautiously for a while,
lying still and unnaturally stiff under the white hospital sheets due to the
awkward casts restricting his movement.
She had just been about to turn away, when he began groaning again, his
thin shoulders twitching anxiously obviously deep in some nightmare, which had
worsened quickly. Within seconds his
hoarse cries had her bending over him, shaking him gently awake. Harry had struggled furiously against her to
sit up, only to be forced back onto the bed with a moan of pain as he jarred
his plaster-covered limbs.
Pushing her slight
surprise at his extreme reaction aside, Lois had murmured to him soothingly,
stroking his messy hair from his forehead until he had calmed sufficiently to
shake off the clinging remnants of his nightmare.
‘Do you want to talk
about it Harry?’ she questioned gently when he was fully awake at last. When he didn’t answer and only shook his
head roughly no, she had begun talking to him instead, murmuring quietly so not
to wake the others, telling him stories about her mishaps while training, and
anything else she could think of to distract him from dreams. At first he had remained tense, his eyes
haunted and his thin body still trembling slightly, but as she continued to
talk, he slowly relaxed and she was pleased when she managed to coax a smile or
two out of him.
Once he was finally
asleep, Lois didn’t immediately leave but sat with him a while longer wanting
to make sure he wouldn’t wake again.
Sitting on a chair beside his bed, she was able to observe him
undisturbed; he was small for his age, with narrow shoulders, hunched and tense
even in sleep. His black hair was more
untidy than normal and now that it wasn’t flopping over his forehead, the
small, lightening shaped scar was exposed that he had confided was a souvenir
of the accident that had robbed him of his parents. He looked vulnerable and lost, lying pale and still in the
darkness, and she couldn’t prevent a quiver of concern over what would happen
to him while she was away.
Although she knew any
one of the nursing staff would be just as ready as she to comfort him if he was
woken again by nightmares, would they stay and talk nonsense to him till he
went back to sleep? Would they make
time to sit and chat with him, so he wouldn’t feel so unwanted when the ward
was filled with families visiting the other children, bringing sweets and
laughter and presents from home?
As that painful image
took hold, she had known suddenly that she couldn’t bear to leave him here
alone and abandoned by his relatives.
With barely a moments hesitation, and ignoring the loud warning voice
telling her not to get involved, she had postponed her holiday and would
continue to do so until he went home.
‘Lois?’ Tom prompted, dragging her attention back to
his question and away from her thoughts.
‘Oh the friend I was
going away with had an emergency crop up at work,’ she lied, sure the truth
would lead to a well-meaning lecture on the importance of not getting too
involved. ‘Hopefully we’ll be able
to go next week instead.’ Luckily one
of their colleagues joined them at that moment and the subject was dropped.
Two worry-filled days
later and after much pleading with the doctor, Harry was declared well enough
to go home. After even more pleading he
was sure on the hospital’s part, the Dursleys had been persuaded to come
and collect him that afternoon. Harry
had insisted in being ready in his wheelchair with his few belonging by his
side, a full hour before the Dursleys were due to arrive. He knew his uncle would be impatient to
leave and he was just as eager to see Hedwig.
‘Are you sure you’re
ready for this Harry?’ Lois pressed, packing up the game of draughts she had
been playing with him in the hopes he knew, of keeping his mind off the
‘I’ll be fine,’ he said
in what he hoped was a confident voice.
In truth he was worried about coping on his own at home, but he
was even more worried about Hedwig. He
desperately wished suddenly that he had a real parent-like figure in his
life. Sirius, despite his best
intentions, simply wasn’t able to be with him, and for all the care and
protection Hogwarts and Professor Dumbledore provided, they were still after
all just a school, and a Headmaster who had hundreds of other children to worry
Lois watched the
changing expressions on the young boy’s face with sorrow. Harry tried his best to be brave, but
occasionally his guard fell and he was exposed for what he was - a scared boy who
had no one to turn to. Lois knew there
were plenty of others who were worse off than him, but at that particular
moment it was of very little comfort.
‘If you need anything
Harry, or you just want to talk, you can always ring me here or if I’m not on
duty at home,’ she said handing him a piece of paper with direct numbers to
both the ward and - completely against hospital policy - her home. She felt a tightness in her throat as Harry
looked at her with undisguised amazement and pleasure, obviously shocked at the
offer. What sort of a life had this
poor child led that such a simple act of kindness left him so surprised?
‘Thanks Lois,’ he said
quietly. Lois nodded, unable to speak
and instead set about dealing the cards she had placed on his bed for a game of
Their attention was
drawn away from the game a short while later by the arrival of visitors for a
young girl at the end of the ward. Lois
and Harry watched as a small boy escaped his mother’s hand and ran excitedly
towards his obviously adored big sister’s bed. He was already clambering up next to her and
throwing his chubby arms around her neck, before his mother could intercede to
pull him giggling into her arms.
‘Do you have any
brothers or sisters Lois?’ Harry asked wistfully.
‘No, I was an only
child. I always wanted one though.’
‘Me too,’ Harry sighed.
‘What about your cousin
Harry?’ Lois gently probed. ‘You seem to be about the same age, do the two of
you not get on well?’
‘No. Dudley hates me, not that I’m that keen on
him. Actually, he hasn’t really spoken
to me since…’
‘Oh nothing. It’s just that we both go to separate
boarding schools and I suppose Dudley gets a bit snooty because he goes to
Smeltings – my uncle Vernon’s old school.’
‘Where do you go to
school?’ Lois asked surprised; it was unusual to meet children who attended
boarding school nowadays, although she could imagine that the Dursleys would be
eager to have Harry live away from home for most of the year.
‘Erm… you probably
wouldn’t have heard of it, it’s in Scotland.’
‘That a long way to go
‘I know, but I love
it,’ Harry said, enthusiasm shining in his voice. ‘My mum and dad went there too – they put my name down for it
when I was only a baby.’
Lois was very glad Harry
had something in his life other than the dreadful Dursleys. ‘Do you have many friends there?’
‘Well my best friends
are Ron and Hermione, but apart from one of the Houses, everyone is pretty
‘It sounds like you
enjoy school – that’s unusual, especially for boys in my experience,’ she
grinned. ‘What’s your favourite subject?’
‘Well, I like Qui… er –
sports the best. I’m in my House’s…
‘Are you any good?’
Lois asked startled; he certainly didn’t have the type of physique she would
normally associate with a rugby player.
‘I’ve been told I am,’
Harry answered modestly enough, but was unable to hide a glint of pride when he
added. ‘I was the youngest person in
over a hundred years to be picked to play on the House team.’
‘Wow, I’m impressed,’
Lois scrunched up her nose. ‘I don’t
know much about rugby though except it looks pretty rough.’
‘It is!’ Harry said with feeling, obviously
remembering some past injury. ‘But it really is the best game in the
world. What about you, do you like
‘No,’ Lois smiled, ‘I’m
too clumsy by far; I was always the last to get picked for a team at
school. Not that I minded; it would
have suited me if I hadn’t been picked at all,’ she laughed suddenly. ‘No
wonder really, I had a horrible games teacher who used to make my life a
misery. Miss Robson,’ she said with
deep dislike. ‘She knew I was no good
at anything and she used to delight in showing me up in front of the rest of
the class. During a gym lesson one day
she discovered I was frightened of climbing the rope – so she insisted on using
me as an example on the correct way to do it.
I got about half way up and I just froze, I was absolutely
‘She started yelling up
at me from the bottom. “Get a move on
Lois!”’ she mimicked the gruff P.E. teacher’s voice. ‘“Don’t hang there like a
jelly you stupid girl, move your legs!”
What made it worse though, was that the gym was full and everyone was
watching me, including Simon Kendrick, who I had a huge crush on, so I
shut my eyes and carried on climbing.
The next thing I knew there I was hanging from the top of the rope! I was so proud of myself. Of course, I was slightly less proud when I
realised there was no way I could get back down again.’
‘Too scared?’ Harry
sympathised, a half smile on his lips.
‘So what did you do?’
‘Well I hung on for as
long as I could naturally, but eventually gravity and Miss Robson’s screeching
wore me down and I fell off. Landed
right on top of her,’ she remembered with a wicked grin.
Harry laughed. ‘Were
‘Fine, not a bruise on
me. Mind you, she was quite a
big woman, better than a crash mat I reckon,’ Lois chuckled. ‘She was off sick for three weeks.’
‘Did she leave you
alone after that?’
‘Are you kidding? I think the only pleasure that mean old crow
had in life, was tormenting the uncoordinated.
Didn’t make me climb the rope again though,’ she shrugged; as far as
Lois was concerned almost every cloud had a silver lining.
‘Some people shouldn’t
be allowed to be teachers,’ Harry said darkly, his eyebrows lowered in a fierce
‘You’ll get no
arguments from me,’ Lois agreed, shuffling the deck of cards to deal again.
Mr and Mrs Dursley
finally swept into the hospital to collect Harry an hour after their promised
arrival time, looking extremely unhappy to see him. Neither of them showed the slightest concern at his battered
appearance and Mr Dursley rudely brushed off Lois’s final instructions on
Harry’s care and follow-up appointments at the hospital. When she mentioned that all being well, his
casts would be removed in six week’s
time Mr Dursley butted in sharply.
‘The boy will be long
gone back to boarding school by then, they can take care of that,’ he
snapped. ‘And if he still needs
check-ups why is he being sent home? Shouldn’t you just keep him here until
he’s well enough to be up and about?’
‘If I had my way Mr
Dursley,’ Lois said coldly, ‘Harry would stay with us until his injuries are
completely healed. However, Harry for
some strange reason, is keen to go home and as he is fit enough to do so the
hospital can certainly make good use of his bed.’
Mr Dursley gave a
disgusted snort and muttered something about ‘the fine state the NHS was in’
before grabbing Harry’s chair and wheeling him roughly toward the exit.
As they left Harry
managed to turn awkwardly and call out his thanks to a pale and angry Lois, who
looked worryingly as though she was going to cry.