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Chapter 1: Patience is a Virtue
enchantedx @ TDA.
I consider myself to be a very patient man. Though not by choice; I kind of have to be. Actually, I really have to be. Not being patient can cause all sorts of accidents. I remember when I was six, I was so excited to go and get an ice-cream by myself that I just ran out into the middle of the road. My dad reached me first and picked me up, taking me to the other side, and the woman in the car did stop to apologize and ask if I was okay.
What happened after that? Let's just say I couldn't get my own ice-creams for a while.
What's that got to do with patience, I hear you say. You've got to have patience if you have parents as over-protective as I do, other people have told me. But it's bigger than that, which sort of makes it worse for me than just being a six year old who couldn't get ice-cream because he didn't look where he was going when crossing the street.
Mostly because I couldn't see the street; not the road or the cars or even the ice-cream van I was running to.
I was three when I lost my sight. Yeah. But I won't get into that. So, patience is something I've had to learn and come to value from a young age. I had to learn because, being as young as I was, it wasn't easy waiting for people to do things for you or to have to listen to kids your age play carelessly and free in the park while you just sat there. I value it for two reasons; one, it allows me to appreciate everything people do for me, especially when it's six am, because that's not pretty; people say I'm evil. It's not true; I'm just not a morning person. And two; people can be a little overbearing, even if they think they're only trying to help. I understand when I remember being a child; kids need help when they're young anyway, I just needed a little extra. But I'm seventeen now, an adult legally; surely that counts for a little bit of trust in people. I can do some things myself.
Like make breakfast. After six years of sitting in the same place, eating the same food, I think I can remember where the toast is and where the bacon is. But still she does it. The ‘she’ in question is my best friend, Lucy Weasley. Well, she's one of my best friends. My other best friend is Jackson Ryder, or Jack. He's not here yet, he's... Somewhere else. He was on holiday; he was actually supposed to be back a couple of days ago, in time for school, but his parents told me he had a bit of an accident and I'll find out more today. Knowing Jack, 'a bit' is probably just putting it nicely.
Anyway, Jack is the one who helps me around school; you just can't trust a magical school, especially one with moving staircases, and he likes to make jokes. A lot of jokes. Like moving the breakfast dishes around or telling me it's somewhere else, so I end up putting my hand in the juice or missing it completely and hitting the table. Lucy got tired of it in fourth year and would move my hand to where the toast actually was. Which really got on Jack's nerves. That is the 'it' she's still doing. Lucy seems to have forgotten the fact that Jack is not here. I'm surprised by this; she would have commented on how quiet it was.
"Lucy, I'm fine," I say slowly and clearly. I hope I get my point across with my tone and the raised eye-brow. The raised eye-brow is key; my dad listens every time when Mum does it. At least, that's what she tells me.
I can't tell what her expression is, but it seems to have worked; she let's go of my hand. "Oh, sorry." A pause. She's thinking. This is not good. "Where's Jackson?"
I shrug, trying to imagine her face by her tone. She sounds a little confused, probably wondering why he isn't here causing trouble, but she's also hopeful because, like I said, it's quiet. "I don't know. He hurt himself on holiday. His parents said they'd let me know."
She replies with a little 'oh' sound and I bet she's just nodded her head. She does that all the time, Jack says. Now that gets on his nerves. Apparently, she should be more considerate of my inability to see. I don't care. I busy myself with eating my breakfast, Lucy does whatever it is she's doing, and neither of us speak until I hear the sounds of flapping wings and screeching. I have excellent hearing.
I ignore the birds and carry on with my breakfast, until a letter (I hope it's a letter) drops into my lap. I push my last bit of toast between my lips and pick it up. It feels like a letter. "You've got a letter," Lucy tells me.
Not only is my hearing more than adequate, but I have also mastered the infamous eye-roll. I make it look good. Seriously. I just hand it to her. If she expects a reason for it, I am not giving it to her.
She opens it; I pick up another piece of toast. She's quiet, reading it; I take a bite of said toast. "It's from Jackson's parents. He won't be in school for a while."
Good bye, toast. I cough it back up, ignore people's complaints. "What?"
"The idiot fell while rock-climbing; he's broke a few bones in his legs, yes, legs. He can't walk. He's in a Muggle hospital, and he'll be transferred to St Mungo's this afternoon."
I don't like Lucy's tone. She sounds like she's... Annoyed. What the hell has she got to be annoyed about? She doesn't apparently need help going up and down the death stairs! I ask her that very question. Almost. "Who's going to help me around school? He's the only one in all of my classes. He has to go to the library, too."
Okay, so it wasn't anything like the question. I'm not going to take my irrational anger for Jack out on Lucy. She's not afraid to hit me. I could do without her swift slaps to the back of the head while she tells me I'm being irrational... She says it enough already.
"I will," she answers. "I'll talk to Professor Digby and we'll arrange it so I can leave my classes a little early and meet you outside yours." Lucy squeezes my shoulder affectionately and I smile a little. "See? It'll be fine, Key. I promise."
I think she ignores my grimace. I don't like being called Key. In fact, I hate it. My name is Ciaran. With a C. I do not accept there being anything remotely like 'Key' in my name. And worst of all; she knows this. She only does it to annoy me. And it's working.
So, I do the same to her. "Come on, Luce." I say, tapping her on the shoulder. "I've got to get to class."
"B-but," she stutters. "Breakfast isn't over yet."
I try to hide my smirk. It's so funny how she complains that all her family seem to do is complain about food and how she's glad she's not like that. Then she complains about missing breakfast. Does anyone else hear the word 'hypocrite'?
I sigh instead. "But I have to leave early, remember?" I don't really. Jack just likes us to so we can escape the crowds. He didn't tell the Headmaster that when we talked about it in first year; now we get to leave classes early. It's only five extra minutes. That may not seem like a lot to you, but to anyone else who has to sit through Professor Binn's class, it's a miracle others wish they had. Ha.
She groans and I hear her get up. "Well, come on then." She grabs my plastic stick or cane or blind person's helpy thingy as Jack called it the day we met – today I call it a stick - and then holds out her hand to help me up. I thank her. Not so much for helping me up, I was fine with that myself, but for picking up my stick; last time I tried to reach it, I fell on my arse and hit my head. Everyone laughed. It was not cool. So, I'm grateful when others get it for me.
See? Value. Don't you just love it?
The walk from the Great Hall to Transfiguration is relatively quiet. I find I rather like the idea of the sound of my stick beating against the cold, hard floor and letting it fill my head until it drives me insane, because the thought of Jack not being around is more than a little terrifying. I know it sounds rather selfish, but he and my tutor are the only reasons my parents allow me to come to Hogwarts each year; I honestly don’t know what I would do without Jack in my life. He’s my best friend, more than that, really; he’s the closest thing to a brother I have.
I mean, I love Lucy and all, but scepticism doesn’t even begin to cover it when it comes her decision to help me. She can be the easiest person in the world to get along with, but she closes up completely when it comes to her studies. You really can’t get a word out of her; she forgets everyone and everything when she’s focused on something. I fear for my life just thinking about it. Okay, I fear I’ll miss my classes because I don’t get up in the morning. But it’s basically the same thing.
“Are you okay, CJ?” I smile a little; CJ I like. It’s a nickname I’ll allow, the only one really. It’s my initials; Ciaran James. Yeah, that’s me. Nice to meet you.
Lucy nudges my arm. I assume she wants an answer. “I’m fine,” I tell her quietly. She sighs, but I don’t know what she’s thinking. I don’t know what her expression is. Hell, I don’t know anything. A feeling of dread fills the pit of my stomach and I swear it’s beginning to rise. It’s like bile. I hate it. I begin to realise just how much I seem to depend on my best friend.
I don’t want this; I don’t want any of this. None of this would have happened if I could still see. It’s not fair!
Lucy rubs my shoulder and we stop outside of my classroom. “Stop thinking like that. Don’t think I don’t know; I know you well enough to know that this frown and the little wobble of your bottom lip and your eyes closed over, like you look right now, is fear.” I feel her hand on my cheek. “You are either thinking about how dependent or low you feel. Considering Jack isn’t here -“ She called him ‘Jack’. It’s rare. Shocking. Well, not really. But she only says it when she’s being sympathetic. I don’t like that; when Lucy feels sympathetic, I feel plain pathetic. “I’m guessing you’re thinking the first one. Well, stop it.”
Ouch. I sense a lecture.
“You say you can look after yourself, but then something like this happens and you don’t know what to do. But these things are always going to happen.” She takes my hand. “Next time, it might just be that Jack has other things he needs to do and he won’t be there, so you have to realise you don’t need Jack like you think you do, because we know you don’t. You can do this, Ciaran. You can do anything. Accept it. Embrace it. Besides, you hate needing people. I see you grimace when you want to ask for help.”
Oh, so she ignores my hate for the nickname ‘Key’, but that she sees. That’s just evil.
Like what she says is that simple. “Okay,” I nod. What? My logic may be lost on everyone else, but I understand. That’s what matters.
Lucy squeezes my hand. “Good. Now, I’m going to make a detour to Digby’s office before Arithmancy; I agree the stairs are tricky.” I scoff; she deserves it. “I’ll see you later.”
I watch my second best friend walk away. Scratch that, I listen to her walk away. My eyes are just in that general direction, which is obviously why I got confused… I hear a faint “Hello Lou,” before I enter the classroom, make my way to my usual desk (the right chair on the end desk, closest to the door) and drop into my seat with a heavy sigh. I pull out my parchment and my enchanted quill, fold my arms over the wooden desk and rest my chin on top, just waiting for the lesson to start.
I take back my previous comments; I don’t rely on Jack to help me around school. Without him, life is boring. Damn him. Of all the days to fall off a cliff.
When someone else enters the classroom, I’m hit with the oh-so-familiar fruity fragrant aftershave only one man in the entire school wears. I refuse to admit it smells good. He can’t have been that far away when Lucy said hello to him. I briefly wonder what took him so long before I realise I don’t care. What can I say? Not everyone thinks the world revolves around Louis Weasley. Not that I don’t like him or anything; I just don’t talk to him, or any of his family, except Lucy. I rarely ever saw Lucy’s sister. I only ever spoke to Fred when Jack wanted something from the shop. I mentioned his love of making jokes.
The teacher begins the lesson and I know I’m in for a long, dull day. I focus my attention on the scratching of my quill. Yeah, my quill literally takes my notes for me. Awesome. And I’m the only one who is allowed to do this.
I thank Lucy as she turns to leave and make my way into the library. Some people protest and moan when I hit them with my stick. Well, after six years, you’d think they would learn to move out of the way when they see me. It’s not like I can see them or anything.
I hear my name and navigate my way to the sound. I know where I’m going; we’ve been sitting at the same table every day since we started Hogwarts. “Hey, Abby.”
Abby is my tutor. She teaches kids with disabilities and she’s been my teacher since I was five and started school. She takes my notes and turns it into braille and helps me with my wandwork so I can learn. That way I’m not left behind and struggling with my studies.
“Hey, Ciaran. Where’s Jack today?”
Oh, yeah. She also teaches Jack. He’s dyslexic, but he’s gotten a lot better since Abby agreed to be his teacher in first year. She’s the reason we both get to stay in school. I don’t think we would have made it past those first exams if it weren’t for her. Now, we’re passing NEWTs. Well, sort of. Potions require exact measurements and other things I can’t read.
“Jack won’t be with us for a while; he’s in St Mungo’s after an accident. Teachers are sending him is homework.” I hate the annoyed tone in my voice; I know Abby doesn’t deserve it, but I’ve been asked the same question over and over. I sit down slowly and pull out my notes to hand to her.
“I’ll go see him while you’re in lessons and be back by four. We can’t have him missing out, can we?” she laughs. “Does that sound fair, Ciaran?”
I nod. “I bet he can’t wait to spend his time in a hospital bed, studying,” I smirk. He deserves it.
“Is Lucy helping you instead?”
I pull a face. “Yeah.”
“And how’s that going?”
I’m still terrified she’s going to forget and I’m going to die. Too dramatic? “I can’t say; it’s only been one day.”
She laughs again. I don’t think she’s meant to laugh. She’s meant to give me an alternate solution or at least offer her condolences. “Let’s get started, shall we?”
And the real work begins. Can’t I sleep instead?
A/N: For the I'm a Believer and What the Hell is a Hufflepuff challenges. Belief: I can do anything. I'm having so much fun writing this story and a first person OC centric novel, as well as writing about blindness, is a very new thing, so I hope it goes well. LOL.
Hope you enjoyed.