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Chapter 2: Devastating Reality
Arabella stayed at St. Mungo’s Hospital that night. DeAnna’s grandmother met us to take DeAnna back to her place.
“Daddy I need to stay here so that mommy knows I love her.” DeAnna’s eyes were brimmed with tears that she would not allow to fall.
“DeAnna. Mommy knows you love her. She knows you love her with your whole heart and that nothing will ever change that.” I pulled her into my arms; cradling her head against my chest I could feel the tears fall on my shirt. She was so brave and so strong for someone so young, but even the strong cry. “You need to get some sleep though missy and so does mommy.” I smiled as she pulled away from me.
They got their things together and DeAnna gave me one last hug before she left. “Daddy, take care of mommy.” This time a tear stung my eye as I barely chocked out the words, “I will.”
I watched them walk out of the small waiting room. When I thought that they were far enough away I sat down with my head in my hands. What was I going to do?
I felt something move on my middle finger of my left hand. I turned it over and two tiny soft purple butterflies perched themselves there. Looking up I could just see eyes peering around the corner on DeAnna’s face. “You didn’t tell me good night daddy.”
I opened my arms and she ran to them, “Good night my little DeAnna.”
Arabella looked like she was sleeping. It was now June and she hadn’t moved on her own since she was admitted in January. Her students had started to visit her since school was let out.
Each one of the girls looked on her with awe. They all were surprised to see that the invincible woman they loved wasn’t all that invincible, just like I had. DeAnna and I had taken up residence in the hospital and soon they girls came to visit Arabella just as much as they did to visit DeAnna.
Arabella’s students filled the room with white flowers at DeAnna’s request. DeAnna in the mean time filled it with purple butterflies in every shade and size. Cards littered the room with well wishes scrawled across them all.
It didn’t matter how many well wishes, flowers, and butterflies filled the room. We lost Arabella that month.
The July breeze softly blew hundreds of girl’s dresses and hair as they all stood barefoot in the grass. No one raised their head to look around. The usual giggling laughs that I had become so accustomed to accompanying the girls were gone.
DeAnna eyes were fixed on her mother. “Daddy, why is she in a box?” Her innocence was almost unbearable.
“It’s like a bed for her so that she’s comfortable. She’s going to sleep for a long time.”
“But she’ll wake up for my birthday right?” her eyes gleamed with tears. I couldn’t say anything so I shook my head. “She’s not sleeping like we sleep is she daddy? She’s sleeping like Papa is sleeping isn’t she?”
“She’s sleeping like Papa.” The tears broke free from her eyes. She twisted her dress between her fingers trying to stay calm. I pulled her into my arms listening to the girl’s soft singing behind me.
“Daddy, mommy doesn’t like small spaces. She can’t be in her box bed daddy! Daddy she needs more space!” She was talking a million miles an hour, tears falling freely down her face. She was hysterical and couldn’t catch her breath. “Shhh. You are right. We’ll make sure that she’s with your butterflies.”
DeAnna’s butterflies landed on the people who were gathered with us to remember Arabella. They were almost calming, like the innocence and joy they were made with wore off on each person. However the more comfort they brought to people the more their vibrant colors seemed to fade. They were never same and neither was DeAnna.
She stopped talking after that day. Her giggling laughter was absent from the house. Despite the large windows that flooded each room with light, it was a very dark place to be. The life in the house was gone.
Even though she didn’t seem like my little girl, she still sent me butterflies every night. They didn’t seem to float across the air as much as push through it. Like the butterflies from before the colors weren’t as bright, but they were still very beautiful, pure and sweet.
One large blue one crossed the room today. With each flap of its wings it looked more and more like it was going to suddenly fall to the ground. This was common anymore, but hard to watch. I had become just as attached to the butterflies as I was to my family.
I headed down the hall, a muffled sound was coming from DeAnna’s room making me pick up the pace. I pushed the door open to find tears running down her cheeks. I sat on the edge of the bed and she crawled into my lap with a piece of paper in her hand.
“What do you have there DeAnna?” she just continued to cry softly as though she didn’t hear me. For a child of seven years to be absent from the world they live in crushed my heart, but I continued to try to find her again. “DeAnna what’s in your hand can? Can I see it?”
She didn’t reply but loosened her grip on the page and I slid it out of her fingers. It was a card made by the hands of a seven year old. Its purpose was stated on the front in wonderfully clumsy letters.
“Hapy Birfday Mommi”
I could feel my heart falling to pieces.