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Captive Audience

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When they let me out of hospital--because having Molly suck about two pints of your blood really takes it out of a person--I intended to return to the Folly after visiting Lesley and Nightingale. It turned out I wasn't allowed to see Lesley: she was in a medical coma and her face was being stitched back together as best as possible. So I trooped along to Nightingale's room and found it empty. A health care assistant directed me to intensive care. "Pneumonia," she said. "Only to be expected, really."

He looked sicker than he had right after being shot, lying pale and unresponsive in the hospital bed. I hesitated by the chair, but I was still feeling a bit shaky and decided to sit down. A nurse came over.

"You're his partner?" she said.

I nodded, and then realised too late that she didn't mean that kind of partner. Like I said, I was still a bit groggy.

"He'll pull through," she said. "He can hear you, you know. So you can talk to him, or read to him, if you like."

"Read to him?" I echoed.

"A lot of our patients tell us afterwards that they really appreciated it," she said. "If you've got the time."

I looked at Nightingale. "It's me, sir," I said. "Peter. We did it. Got rid of Mr Punch. But Lesley--" I stopped. "Lesley's alive," I said. "They think she'll be okay." Whatever that meant when you didn't have a face any more. "Apparently I'm supposed to read to you," I went on. "I guess I can do that."

If I had a book. I thought for a moment and got my phone out, then found the LCC online library app, and searched around for a particular book.

"All right, sir. You're a captive audience now," I said, and began.

"Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say..."