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Chapter 23: Chapter 23
I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t even close my eyes. I just laid there on the cold surface as more and more images flew past me. Millions of memories flashed before me. There were layers upon layers of them, all passing so fast it made my head swim. My head and shoulder still burned in pain and I felt like I was going to be sick. The voices made it worse. Dozens of people were talking but I couldn’t follow along with any of them. It made my ears ring. I wanted it to stop. I would have done anything for it to stop but I couldn’t control anything. Occasionally the voices would fade out or some would fade back in like a radio trying to pick up reception. When the screaming started I desperately wanted to cover my ears, shout for help, do anything to make it stop.
Then my own memories started. There were others that weren’t mine layered with them and I couldn’t clearly view my oldest ones. The voices kept coming and going. It was utter chaos. I felt cold and empty inside. This was never going to end. I would be trapped forever. I wanted to die. It felt like the only escape. The only way to free myself would be to just end it all.
I started to feel a sinking sensation. I was being pulled under. This was the only way to escape, to unburden myself. Nothing mattered any more. Nothing but making this stop. Dying was what I wanted. I was going to be free.
Something pulled me back. It was terrifying and I wanted to fight back. I just wanted to fade into nothingness. I wanted to be free.
My mind dulled and lost the desire to fight back.
Tell me your name.
What was my name? A dozen names echoed through my mind. Who was I? I listened to the echoes over and over. Who was I? One name echoed louder than the others. Lestrange. It sounded right.
Tell me your name.
Your first name.
My first name? What was my first name? I didn’t know. I cast my mind back, trying to find any name. It was so painful, I didn’t care what my name was, I only wanted the pain to stop.
I’ll make the pain stop, just tell me your name.
With this promise I frantically searched for a name. I needed to know. This was how the pain would stop. So what was my name? An echo of a young boy’s voice repeating the same name over and over – Jade. That was me. I was Jade.
Focus on that. Remember who you are.
I tried, I really did but the darkness that had been slowly growing around me erupted. I felt numb and I was losing myself again. I didn’t fight it.
I jerked at the sound of my name.
Do you remember Fred?
Fred? It was familiar. I could almost place it…
Fred Weasley. A fuzzy memory of my head rested on a chest popped into my mind. A midnight snack. A walk through the woods in the middle of the night. A train ride next to each other. Dancing at a Ball. His lips kissing mine. This was Fred. My moments with Fred Weasley.
I need to close your mind.
No. Not now. Let me remember Fred.
It will stop the pain.
Please no. Remembering Fred will stop the pain. I want to remember Fred before it’s too late. Before he’s gone.
Darkness closed in around me. Unlike before the pain was fading as well as my memories of Fred. I was too weak to even fight back. I faded into the nothingness that I had been wishing for minutes before.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My body felt stiff, like I hadn’t moved in years. I could feel the sun beating down on me and a cool breeze touching my skin. I could also smell salt in the air and hear waves crashing. I couldn’t move though. It took me well over ten minutes to gather the will power to open my eyes.
I was lying on my back looking up at a clear blue sky. I looked to the right, well as far as I could without moving my head. The sky stretched as far as I could see. The ground was flat, rock by the look and feel of it. The only thing I could see on the horizon was odd shapes that I couldn’t make out. I shifted my eyes to the left. Bridges. That’s what those odd shapes were. Wood and rope bridges by the look of it. There was one only a couple yards away from my feet.
Alright, now I needed to get up. It wasn’t going to be easy. My body did not want to move. I focused all my strength on rolling over on my right side. I pushed and strained, using all of my power. It felt like half an hour before I successfully turned on my side.
From this view I could see why the bridges were necessary. I was not, like I presumed, on flat, even ground. There seemed to be little islands, twenty to thirty feet wide, all around me. Since I couldn’t see any water, I assumed it was below my line of sight. Although I had no idea how far below.
This is where panic started to set in because I had never in my life been to a place like this. There was nothing that looked remotely like Hogwarts. So where was I? I tried to think back. The last thing I could clearly remember was sitting in the Quidditch stands. I’d been next to Fred, watching the third task. What ever happened next was a very fuzzy memory that I couldn’t grasp.
I needed to get back. I needed to see if everyone was alright and figure out what happened. But first I needed to stand up. If I couldn’t move I’d be useless.
It took well over two hours. Nevertheless I was finally balanced on my knees. Sweat was glistening on my skin and under my nails was filled with dirt. My hands, especially my right one, along with my right arm were covered in dirt and scratches from the rocky ground. I wanted to sweep away the tiny pebbles that had become embedded in my skin after falling over multiple times but it was far too much effort.
I was resting, trying to regain my strength when I realized something was very odd. My left shoulder wasn’t hurting. Sure I had tried my best to stay off of it, a habit since I’d been a toddler, but that never fully stopped the dull ache. Now though? I felt nothing. This only ever happened in one scenario – when I was at Tsukino’s estate.
This was definitely weird and worrisome. I needed to remember what happened. The third task, I was next to Fred. I closed my eyes trying to focus on what happened next. Victor. Victor was…was…he left the maze! Ok, what after that? I replayed it over and over in my mind. Come on, what happened next? Take the cup. Fred-Fred was saying to take the cup? No, that wasn’t right. Who wanted the cup? Potter wanted -? No. I wanted. I wanted Potter to take the cup. Why the heck would I care if Potter got the cup?
I rocked a bit on my knees. The ground was becoming painfully uncomfortable but I wasn’t ready to try standing. I needed to know what happened. I wanted Potter to take the cup but why? Why did that matter? I just wanted the bloody tournament over with. I really could have used Snape. He was usually the best source for all things strange and unusual. I needed to tell him that I didn’t understand why I wanted Potter to take the cup. Something else happened. I went to find Snape. I needed to find Snape.
‘I still needed to find Snape,’ I thought bitterly.
Ok, I was going to find Snape. First I went down the stairs. Fred – he followed me. I could hear him. Snape was more important. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I-I went…er…what did I do? I never made it! Almost there and then….that’s when…he’s back.
The Dark Lord was back. The Mark burned, I felt it. No. My father felt it, then I felt it through him. They would all know he’s back, the Death Eaters at least. Dumbledore needs to know. Surely Snape would have told Dumbledore. Why did Potter taking the cup matter?
‘It doesn’t matter at the moment. I need to focus on getting a message to Snape, how though?’ I thought frantically.
The answer came to me a second later and I felt like hitting myself on the head for being so stupid. I had a way to communicate with Snape whenever I bloody well wanted to. I just needed to –
Now panic really set in because for the first time in over ten years I couldn’t sense Snape’s presence in the back of my mind. Even when I was with Kuniye I could still feel Snape even if I did shut him out. Here, in the middle of nowhere, when I could have used Snape more than ever, he was unreachable. So was my father.
It was a weird, isolated feeling. I couldn’t remember a time where I’d ever been so alone. Even if my father sometimes overwhelmed me and Merlin knows I hated being connected to him, I had grown used to him always being there. Snape’s presence I was used to taking comfort in, knowing that I could reach out for help when I desperately needed him. Now there was absolutely nothing. It made me feel uneasy and…incomplete. Like I was missing a piece of myself.
I needed to get back. It didn’t matter what it took, I needed to get back to Hogwarts. To Snape and Fred and Draco and everybody. I didn’t belong here. I needed to go home.
With that drive inside of me, I began pushing my way upwards. I wasn’t going to lay here and die. I was going to do everything in my power to leave.
It felt like hours. Actually it probably was hours before I was on my own two feet. I’d fallen lots of times, twisting my ankle. It didn’t matter. I had to keep pushing forward. My knees were exposed, my pants ripped long ago from all the falling. Blood and dirt mixed together making my knees sting even more with every fall but I just kept getting back up. Now that I was up I could shuffle since taking full steps wasn’t quite possible yet. I edged my way closer to the edge of the rock island thing I was on. I was careful not to get too close and risk falling over. What I saw below me made my heart skip a beat.
I had assumed the water was below me and I was right. It was not however, five or ten feet like I had imagined. It wasn’t even twenty feet. It must have been fifty feet down to the waves below. The rock islands were also not what I’d expected. They were cone shaped, definitely not held up by gravity that’s for sure. The island next to me looked about twenty-five feet wide at the top yet only a few feet where it reached the water.
I started feeling dizzy so I backed away from the edge and focused on the bridges. I finally had a good view of them. They were not short bridges. There was at least thirty feet between my rock and the next one. They also did not look particularly stable. Maybe it was because of how much they were swaying in the breeze.
There wasn’t any other way unless I risked the water. That wasn’t about to happen. I slowly made my way over to the bridge. After testing it with my weight I didn’t feel any more confident. I had to pluck up the courage, this was no time for a fear of heights to get the better of me. Cautiously I put one foot in front of the other.
You can do this.
Slowly I made my way across. My walking was improving with every step thankfully. On the next rock I had a choice. Bridge on the left or the one going straight? There was literally nothing on the horizon. No distinguishable rocks or bridges. Thinking I should attempt to head in one direction, I went straight. On the next rock I only had left or right options. I took the left, seeing ahead that I could continue straight.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting. Maybe some sign or anything to point me to where I was going? There was nothing though. Just rocks and bridges. On the tenth bridge I started feeling uneasy. What if there was nothing this way? What if there was nothing any way?
The thirteenth bridge was the longest yet. Easily fifty feet. There was no turning back now. Half way across I heard the worst sound imaginable. I turned my head quickly only to see the rope tearing apart.
I tried to run to the other side before the inevitable happened but my feet weren’t up to par. I tripped and landed hard on the bridge, breaking several planks. I didn’t have time to move before I felt the rope give way. I desperately clung to a board, praying it would hold.
No such luck. I felt it snap and with nothing else to hold onto, I fell. Down and down I went, screaming the whole way. The water was getting closer and I had two final thoughts before I hit the water.
I would never get to tell Draco how sorry I was.
And I would never tell Fred Weasley that I loved him.