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Chapter 18: Dying
A/N: JK Rowling owns Harry Potter.
Warnings: very emotive on the subjects of memory loss, insanity, and euthanasia (assisted suicide).
My first thoughts were disjointed, to say the least.
Flower... I need a flower...
Perhaps a rose? No, that’s a person...
Where’s Al? I saw his wand...
Or was he the brother? What about James? He was bleeding...
She’ll be okay. She’s just asleep now.
Who is she? What’s wrong with her?
Are you sure?
No. I’m not sure. I think I need Lily. Lily will help me.
Lily, I need you. You’ll fix me.
Did I ever reach the door? I should have. The voice wanted me to.
But the voice was bad. The voice didn’t like me.
The voice killed my parents.
I’m sure it did.
Maybe I’m imagining things.
I need my mum. Maybe my mum can help me. She’s not dead.
Or is she? I don’t remember...
It was much easier to be in the darkness.
“Ellie. Eliana, wake up.”
I stirred in the soft sheets, a warm mattress under me.
Hmm. Definitely better than a stone floor.
“Sweetheart, please wake up.”
“Shh. I’m trying to sleep.”
I heard a giggle. “She’ll be fine.”
“Lily?” I rasped. That was her giggle.
A hand on my arm.
“Don’t move yet, darling. You need to stay still.”
I tried to retort, but I found myself coughing and choking and retching, my lungs gasping for air.
“Drink this,” a hurried voice said, but I couldn’t even begin to. My throat was so dry, my arms were flailing, and then they were pinned down and a spicy, altogether unpleasant liquid was forced down my throat. The cough evaporated on the spot.
“Thank you,” I whispered weakly, but I no longer felt dry.
“No problem,” the voice said softly, and I opened my eyes.
At the glimmer of ginger, I dived at her.
“Mum!” I shrieked, yanking her into a hug.
Ginny looked shocked, but didn’t pull away. “Ellie?”
“It was so scary! There was a woman- she hurt me, I think she hurt Lily, where’s Lily?” I demanded, pulling away. She had to understand; Lily was hurt.
“Lily’s fine,” she assured me. “Only a little bit bruised.”
“I’m here, you unobservant nutter.”
I whipped around. “Lily!” Grabbing her, I had to make her know. “There was dark, and I know you don’t like black, but I had to fight it- you had to help me, I needed you, and my legs moved, and-“
“Madame Patil?” Ginny called unsurely.
She has to know. I want to tell her. “Dumbledore was right, you know, and I told her, and she didn’t like it- she killed my parents, and Dumbledore told me not to be scared. He helped Lily, didn’t he? I know he did, because James told me. Where’s James? I saw James. He was red. There was a lot of red on the wall. He played spot the difference with her. She wasn’t very good, he said so.”
A woman with dark hair and dark eyes approached us. She was wearing white- Lily doesn’t like white. I didn’t like her.
“Hello, Eliana, I’m pleased to see you’re awake now,” she said, taking out a clipboard absentmindedly. “How do you feel?”
“Well, it was dark. It was dark, and Lily doesn’t like it, so I fought it. I didn’t like it and it was dark, and I fought it but when it was white it hurt and I didn’t like it to hurt and I cut my finger because that pain was easier to feel and then I had to walk but I didn’t want to and I fell over.”
Her eyes had met mine. She looked confused. “What’s your name, dear?”
“Ellie. Ellie-Belly,” I sang. James called me it.
“You hate that name,” Lily said slowly.
“Oh, do I? Then I’m Ellie, right? I like Ellie. I think, maybe. Oh, I like red though, I definitely like red. It’s your hair colour,” I told her.
“What’s your full name, Ellie?”
“Ellie Potter. No, it’s not. Ellie Bell. No. Ellie... Ellie...”
I screwed up my face in concentration.
“Ellie... ahna. Eliana. I think. I like fairies, too. It’s like my name. I’m a fairy- I have a dress and everything. There was an angel there, you know. She fought against the bad one. She helped save me, but I don’t think she was okay. There was a lot of blood. Or was it James? Or Lily? Someone got hurt...”
“Ellie, do you remember what happened?” Lily asked.
“Of course I do. There was a walk- quite a big walk, and I didn’t want to walk, but I did- and the door appeared, and she didn’t like me, and she killed my parents and was dead and my blood was bad and my mind was fuzzy and she dropped me and James came in and the angel and there was red and I was mad and everything disappeared.”
There was a long moment after I stopped.
“I don’t like silence,” I told them.
“What do you remember about last week, Ellie?”
“We were on a train. We were playing cards. Harry told you off because he was angry. He grabbed my hand and took me off the station. Platform 9¾ isn’t the same when you Apparate. Molly had stitches, and I wasn’t happy.”
“Okay, sweetie. What did Carrow do?”
It stirred something in the back of my mind, the name.
“There was fire. It wasn’t blood, it was fire and it was hurting me and it was endless and it stopped.”
“Right, I need you to take this,” the dark lady told me, handing me a vial.
“No. Who are you? I should know you. You look like I should know you.”
“I’m Madame Patil, darling. I’m looking after you.”
“But you were in Eden.”
“No, sweetie, take it.”
I looked at Lily. She nodded, so I drank it.
The voice was coming from a boy. He had dark hair and green eyes and a nice smile. I liked him, but I frowned.
“You look like James. You like it when I kiss you.”
He nodded. “Yes.”
“What’s your name?”
He looked shocked, but I didn’t know why. “I’m Albus Severus Potter. You call me Al.”
“Do I? That’s nice. You’re the brother.”
“I’m Lily’s brother, yes.”
“But you look like James.”
“I’m James’ brother, too.”
“Yes. You stay at our house in the holidays.”
“No I don’t. I stay with my parents, but they’re dead now.”
“Yes, they are. But you do stay with us.”
“Oh. I guess that’s okay. Do I like you?”
“I don’t like it when people don’t talk. Don’t stop talking. It makes me think of the dark, and Lily doesn’t like black and it’s strange. Keep talking.”
He had swirls of emotions in his bright eyes, but swirls were confusing. “Yes, you like me. You like me a lot.”
“Oh. That’s nice.”
Nearly two years later, my eyes skimmed over the letters that I had read a thousand times but barely knew, tracing the carefully printed letters gently with the tip of my finger.
Eliana Fay Wood,
I’m Lily, your best friend of five years.
Your parents were Katie Bell and Oliver Wood. You were the best thing that ever happened to them. They died at the end of your first year at Hogwarts. You’ve lived with me, Al, James, Ginny and Harry ever since, and you get a Weasley jumper every Christmas because you’re part of the family.
It seems your remember everything about me- but what about being ninjas at Halloween?
All my love,
Lily Luna Potter
Hello, beautiful. I’m Albus Severus Potter- the one with the stupid name?- and I’m your boyfriend. Well, I was. I think I’m calling us on a break until you remember me, because it’s a little weird dating someone who doesn’t know me.
Anyway, I hope we’ll pick up where we left- I’m never going to leave you.
My little Ellie-Belly,
You’re an amazing girl, and always have been. You can survive anything, including whatever some psycho ex-Death Eater can throw at you.
Seriously- who else can steal the Invisibility Cloak from under my nose?
Love you, kiddo.
I had forgotten everyone who wasn’t there for me when I didn’t need them.
“What are you looking at?”
Shoving my box shut, I tried to look wipe away the tears. “Nothing,” I murmured.
Al took my face in his hands.
“I can tell when you’re lying, you know,” he said quietly, lightly pressing his lips to my forehead.
“I know,” I sighed. “I’m just... reminding myself.”
“When it was worse.”
He smiled sadly, and opened it again.
“I didn’t know what to write. I must’ve written about twenty at least.”
“How’d you summarize five years of knowing someone into one letter?” I shrugged. “It was mad- it was a big ask of you guys.”
“How are you today?”
“Bit of a headache, it’s really hard to take in...”
His lips twitched up humourlessly. “It always is.”
“Do I really wake up every day differently?”
He sat beside me, and I sank into his chest immediately. For a second, he paused, and then began stroking my hair.
“Yup. Every day. Yesterday you didn’t remember much, but you knew something had happened... it was a little fuzzy, but you basically had an idea. The day before it was like the first day all over again, but that’s only what mum told me, I was at work on Wednesday. Lily’s coming home for the Christmas holidays, do you remember? That’s next week. We were thinking if you were well enough, you could meet her off the train?”
I thought it over for a moment. “Will there be the flashing lights there?”
“The Daily Prophet reporters? No.”
“And I can see Lily?”
“And she’ll be okay with that?”
He stopped, and gently lifted me to a sitting position. “What? Of course she wants to see you, Ellie. All she writes to me is about you. How you are, if you’re healing, when she can see you... Ellie, she just wants you.”
I thought. “Am I getting better?”
He recoiled slightly, and bit his lip.
“No. There’s no pattern in your behaviour, and there’s no cure, but some days, Ellie, just some days, it does feel like you’re back. It feels like you’re you again, and we all live for those days.”
“That’s not fair.”
“You shouldn’t be suffering. The whole logic behind me going to Carrow was to ensure the safety of the people I loved,” I told him firmly. “Wouldn’t I be better off dead?”
“But then you wouldn’t have to live with this stupid hope that I’ll be perfect again, that I’ll be okay. It’s been... what, six months? since the-“
“It’ll be two years in January.”
Swallowing the lump in my throat, I choked back tears. I had lived two years of my life as this. “Right. Well, that’s two years of suffering, for me and you all. Why not just end it?”
Al blinked, looked away, stood, and walked to the door to call down the stairs.
“We need an Ellie watch,” he yelled, a twinge of regret and sadness in his voice.
“Four months ago we found you trying to stuff a bottle of pills down your mouth. About a year ago, you tried to hang yourself. I know you’re only trying to help, Ellie, but we don’t mind only having a day a week where you are you. It’s better than no Ellie at all.”
Ginny arrived, smiling softly.
“Hello, sweetie. Not feeling great today?”
“Let me die,” I told her instantly. “It’s called euthanasia, right? Help me. It’s what I want.”
“No. You’re going to get better, Ellie. You just need time.”
“Frank and Alice Longbottom never got better. Why should I?”
“Because you’re the daughter of Oliver and Katie Wood. You never give up,” she told me, almost defiantly. “Katie would want you-“
“To be happy. That’s what she told me- happy. I’m not happy, not like this. I’m not really living. Kill me, or let me do it.”
“No. Drink this.”
She held out a sleeping draught.
“No. Let me die.”
That wasn’t one of my better days. That was yesterday. Today I’m too tired to get out of bed but I remember a lot. Al helped me get changed before going to work, and Ginny came in to promise me some lunch, and maybe a visit from James and Chelsea. They’ve been travelling around Europe whilst James studies Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration- well, according to Teddy, anyway. He and a newly married Victoire came after Al left- I think they’ve only just tied the knot because they wanted me to be able to go to the wedding. I couldn’t. I’ve even found a multitude of letters from my aunt, many simply keeping me up to date on her latest adventures, but I appreciate it nonetheless. It’s more than I ever had when I was hers.
I’ve found this book- well, I say found, I put it under my pillow a few weeks ago- and I write in it whenever I’m feeling normal. At least, that’s part of the instructions on the first page. Sometimes, when Lily writes a letter, she’ll mention a little something she hasn’t before, and it’ll stir something in my memory. She writes me a letter every day, but I don’t know how she keeps up with her schoolwork.
Today, she just made a joke about pumpkin juice, and I remembered everything about Halloween- everything, the prank with the pumpkins, stealing the cloak and the map, even getting attacked by Mrs. Norris Junior (bloody cat). I wrote it in to this other set of notes I found- it’s working my way backwards from the torture, slowly building up my memory. It’s a really slow process, and there is so much scribbling out the pages do resemble a load of squashed spiders at a distance, but it’s mine. I haven’t told anyone about these, not even Al, and I’d like to keep it that way.
You know, I’m going to get better. For some reason, I feel like Lily has a plan. She always has a plan.
I might write all this up, one day. And I understand why mum found writing so therapeutic after her parents died- writing is so easy, and simple. I can fly quite well when I have the energy, but most days I don’t have it and Al is always in a permanent state of worry when I’m in the air anyway. I feel kind of bad for dad- he’d have loved nothing more than my method of rehabilitation to be flying, but I can’t do everything.
And about yesterday. I don’t think I’m going to escape days like that. Maybe it would be better for me to be dead, but they’re never going to give up on me, so what gives me the right to give up on myself? I may be dying, but I’m not yet dead and I should live as such.
It’s like Ginny said. I’m the daughter of Oliver and Katie Wood. I can do anything.
I will fight this to the end, because it’s in my blood.
A/N So, I know what you’re thinking. This girl, who actually claims to be a huge fan of happily ever after, ended it like this?
Well, you see, I love life and happily ever after, but I don’t think it should come easily, and I like to leave the conclusions of how everything turns out for the reader to decide. You know the characters, you know the plot... you decide for yourself if they get married, have three kids and a dog or if Ellie never gets over her illness. But, this is sort of a happily ever after- Ellie’s found her place in the world, she’s remembering, she still has Lily and Al and James... and she has hope. For me, that’s the most important part of this ending. She’s not giving up, not ever, because she loves them.
Yep, I’m an eternal sap. I’m okay with that.
I’m also going to do what I’m calling a ‘partner’ story to this eventually. It’s going to start two years later and it’s going to be Lily’s story. I’m going to make it completely canon to this, but it can be read in its own right or as a part of two. If you’re interested; I’m not going to assume you are. It’s not going to be like this story at all, either- more angst, romance and drama, less John Green.
A huge thank you to all the reviewers that have kept me writing: :), GuessWho, Nelle07, Stephamarie, Pheonix_Feather49, blackangelwings, uk_jw, Becca, Lily-Luna, lovehp, she-who-must-not-be-named, BBWotter, Cookie, AriPotter, Mrs. Riddle, JJFuzzyhead, George4eva, dmhg, Hph!:), Emily, Tessa.S, Emily and K.
Another thank you to all the favourite story-ers that made me smile when I really wanted to give up: aadf, BBWotter, blackangelwings, bookworm_hermione, ButtercupBoss, Charliechuckles, Danosycatwith7livesleft, DevilsPrincess93, Faerynn, fanfic1484, Fawkes_the_Pheonix, GingerWeasley10mil, gryffindorlion15, hannah_clare338, Harry_and_Ginny, harrypotter417, Harry_Potter_345, Hephaestus, HermionePadfoot, Hiana, HomeAtHogwarts, ibelieveinmagic, janna_luvs_prongs, Jenny_Malfoy, leeemmaK, Leonie, livingitup95, Luna_George, Melster, ms4aisa, Nelle07, Olympe, Pheonix_Feather49, Polyjuice_, PrincessGoose, Sinead_Potter and SourGrapeSnape.
Finally, all the people reading that have never spoken up, but have been quietly there the whole time. I know you’re reading this.
Sidenote: Pheonix_Feather49, can you see now why I didn’t include much description? Ellie, when writing in her little diary, doesn’t want to hold onto the memories of the places. She wants to keep the people, the jokes, the conversations, the things they held so dearly. She doesn’t really have time for descriptive detail; she wants to record how annoyed she was when cooped up with the Weasleys for more than a few hours at a time. :)
Ask away about anything- characters, plot, symbolism... anything.
This is GingerGenower, over and out.
In My Head, the partner story, is now up!