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Chapter 17: chapter sixteen: irvine
"How are you so strong? What's it like to feel so free? Your heart is really something, your love a complete mystery to me....cry with me tonight."
Irvine- Kelly Clarkson
I was incredibly hesitant.
Okay, so hesitant isn’t a strong enough word.
No, I was incredibly dim-witted to think I could handle sharing a Christmas with such a loving family when I had just lost my own. My stomach twisted uncomfortably at the thought.
It was just past 5:00am on Christmas Eve day. As usual, I hadn’t gotten much sleep. Fear of nightmares, which relived memories of mum’s skeletal body and sunken eyes were enough to render me sleepless. That and the horror of Ginny and Harry Potter (Mrs and Mr Saviour-of-the-Wizarding-World) rushing into my room with their wands raised. Tears stung my eyes shamefully as I relived the memory....
It was just another sunny day at the country cottage. The sunlight bathed my tan skin, and I closed my eyes as I inhaled the faint smell of honey and honeysuckle. I always loved lazy summer afternoons like this.
The way the breeze gently fluttered the grass, rose bushes and foliage was mesmerizing and relaxing. Although old, the porch was my favourite place to perch and view a scene worthy of Shakespeare’s “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream.”
Hearing ice musically chatter in a glass, I turned my head to face who I knew to be my mother.
I didn’t have to look to know it was her. Her footfalls on the porch and cinnamon perfume never failed to reassure me. When I turned to her, she handed me a glass of lemonade with a smile.
I opened my mouth to thank her and speak with her, but no words came out. Panicking, both of my hands grasped my throat painfully. Suddenly the sun drifted away from us and with it, any semblance of warmth mum carried with her.
Watching in horror as se transformed into a skeletal corpse with dead eyes, I screamed. I reached out to her but she sidestepped me. The stars fell from the sky, leaving nothing but darkness and a faint eerie gleam, which came from mum.
She was terrifying but I wanted to do nothing but embrace her and feel her arms wrap around me in a safe cocoon. She kept backing away, until she was no more.
“Lexie, sweetie, wake-up,” a familiar voice urged in the darkness. Feeling warm feminine arms encircle me, I snapped my eyes open fearfully only seeing mum’s zombie. I shrank away.
I couldn’t breathe and my vision was becoming increasingly hazy.
“Lexie, it’s Ginny. You’re okay,” she said, trying to soothe me.
I wasn’t looking at her though. My eyes scanned the room looking for the porch railing or rippling waves of grass. Nothing.
“Lexie, breathe,” she begged. It wasn’t mum’s voice.
“Harry do something, she’s going to pass out!”
Unfamiliar footfalls crossed the room quickly. My bed sunk with the added weight and different arms wrapped around me. Arms that battled evil held me and let me wake up from my own internal battle. They returned me to reality.
Sobs shattered my panicked exterior and I clung to who I assumed was Harry with all my might. Mum was gone.
“It’s okay Lexie. You’re safe, just breathe for me okay?” Harry’s deep timbre voice whispered into my ear.
“Ginny, go get the dreamless sleep draught,” Harry said quietly to Ginny.
Ginny left the room and returned with Harry’s requested potion. After urging me to take some, both Ginny and Harry stayed until they were sure I was fast asleep.
I wiped a few stray tears from my cheek after recalling the memory. I never knew my father, nor had I ever missed him. It was impossible to miss something or someone you never knew.
Being comforted by Harry’s fatherly embrace was like a blind man being given a few moments of sight. My heart ached with remorse, for now I missed what I never had. My life would’ve been different if I had a dad.
Now it was Christmas Eve and all I wanted for Christmas was a fraction of what I had once had.
Sitting on the edge of my bed fully dressed but not daring to leave my guest room, I jumped when I heard a soft knock at the door.
“Lexie, its Harry. I know you’re awake,” he said, his voice muffled by the door. I froze instantly.
As a Ravenclaw, I was smart enough to realize that trying to fool the Harry Potter that you were sleeping was a lost cause. I suddenly felt for the Potter children. They were probably never able to get away with pretend sick days.
Therefore, I did the sensible thing: remain rooted to the spot and hope he’d go away.
“I’m coming in.” Damn.
I turned my face away from the door, mindful of the sound of someone entering and closing the door behind them.
Harry didn’t say anything. Instead, he sat next to me on the bed. From the corner of my eye, I could see that he too was awake and fully dressed.
“5:00am is a little early for most students on vacation,” Harry said softly. I had the feeling that he was comfortable in the silence but had a point to his visit.
“I’ve never been most students,” I answered simply. I turned to look at Harry who had a sad smile on his face.
“No, I suppose not,” he said softly before continuing, “I remember you from the train station on your first year.” I looked at him in surprise.
“Yeah, I do. You reminded me of someone.”
“Me.” I raised my eyebrows at his answer. He continued, “I didn’t have anyone to see me off to Hogwarts either.”
“My mum was there, she just couldn’t get through the barrier,” I defended instantly. Harry nodded comfortable beside me, allowing silence to encompass the room once more.
“Do you think she’s happy?” I asked suddenly. I looked at Harry, who seemed to be eyeing me curiously.
“I think she is at peace,” he answered. I bit my lip.
“It’s just hard. No one really believes in the afterlife in the Wizarding world. It seems to muggle.”
“Wizards have a hard time with faith. We’re cursed that way; we don’t have to blindly believe in things that muggles could hardly imagine.”
I bit my lip again as it started to quiver.
“James told me about the train station,” I said. When Harry didn’t say anything I continued, “I feel like my mum just left me behind, alone.”
I looked at Harry again to gauge his reaction. He simply looked at me sadly, silently giving me permission to continue.
“All I have left are memories that I feel slipping away every day. Then I have nightmares,” I paused, taking a shuddering breath as tears slid down my cheeks, “about her, what she looked like in the end. It’s terrifying. I wanted her to stay with me. I need my mum. She was the only one that saw me, and now I feel guilty. Every time I smile, or get hugged or make someone laugh...I feel like she’s fading away. It’s like I’m drowning and I can’t do anything to stop it, and no one else can understand what I’m going through.” I stopped then, allowing the tears to overwhelm me.
Harry wrapped an arm around my shoulder, forcing me to look into his eyes. When I finally looked up, I could see tears in his own eyes.
“No one can really ever understand the loss of a loved one or grief. Everyone is different. You see the world through different eyes, it can be lonely. You’re one person Lexie, and although you don’t see it now, you’re one person who’s touching the lives of so many people for the better. It’s okay to feel alone, but the important thing to realize is that you are never alone, and that it’s okay to cry.”
I looked away from him then and started to play with my hands.
“You couldn’t understand. Before this year, no one knew my name. I had no friends, Mum was all I had and I never knew my father. I just can’t, I have to be strong. If I’m not strong, what does that say about me? It scares me. I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle, and it terrifies me.” I furiously wiped away my tears.
“I know the feeling Lexie. I lost both parents and a godfather. It’s okay to break down. You don’t need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders for everyone else’s benefit. It’s okay to be a human being. One thing I also know is that you are surrounded with people who love you. They don’t have to be a blood relation to be your family.”
I sniffled, and then looked up at Harry again. I knew that I should feel awkward, but his warm loving eyes made that feeling impossible. Without hesitation, Harry gathered me into a bear hug. I let the tears escape my eyes.
My body shuddered with grief.
“I wish you were my dad,” I said, my voice muffled.
“Lexie, I already consider you my daughter,” he replied.
My only response was to hug him tighter.
After several moments of silence, I looked at Harry.
“I’m going to see her today, I mean I’m going to her grave today. I was going to sneak out and leave a note,” I said. Harry nodded.
“What about James?” he asked, smirking in my direction. I had the decency to blush.
“I love him and I know that he’ll insist upon coming with me. As much as I want him to I know I have to do this on my own,” I said, hoping Harry would understand.
“I understand. I’m assuming you want me to talk to James?”
I bit my lip.
“If I told him, I know I’d fold. No offence or anything but James is stubborn. Not to mention his eyes get me every time.” Harry’s smirk morphed into a friendly smile.
“I’ll just let him know you had to go talk to your landlord and that you’ll meet us at the Burrow at 4. ‘Sides, I don’t expect him to be waking up until 12 anyways.”
“You’re a genius.”
“Uh, duh- Saviour of the Wizarding World remember?” Harry joked. I laughed with him, relishing in the upbeat atmosphere. Harry’s expression turned serious suddenly.
“Will you be okay?” he asked.
“Of course I will. I just need a picture of the burrow and I’ll be able to apparated there.”
“That’s not what I asked Lexie.” I fidgeted.
“To be honest, I don’t know,” I said uneasily, looking at Harry. “but it’s something I have to do.”
Harry nodded and stood. I did the same and followed him down to the kitchen.
He collected me in a hug and kissed the top of my head.
“I’ll see you later okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll see you at the burrow,” I said as I accepted the picture Harry handed me. With a final wave, I disapparated.