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"Hearts will never be made practical until they are made unbreakable."
Chapter One: Where Two Become One
My favourite part of the day was enjoying time with my husband and dinner had been our tradition since we moved in together, nine years ago.
There was something satisfyingly domestic about preparing a meal for two. As a florist, I generally pictured myself as a romantic person—every day men and women, witches and wizards came in, ordering flowers for wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends. Every day I bought and sold expressions of love and devotion and every night I poured my own love and devotion into our dinner. It wasn’t always exotic food—tonight it was a simple spicy cream chicken with green beans—and I didn’t always make it but it was always spent together.
Tonight, an unremarkable Monday night, would be no different.
As if on cue, through the haze of spices and smells, I could hear the familiar sound of the front door opening and clicking shut; the rustle of fabric as a cloak was taken off and put on the rack behind the door; the clunk of a briefcase being set beside the washstand; the sound of his voice as he called out to me. “Molly? Molly, are you in?”
“In the kitchen!”
I could hear his shoes hitting the old floorboards as he approached and I felt my heart skip a bit as he neared closer and closer. I looked up; his stance in the doorframe never failed to take my breath away—all broad shoulders, strong arms, firm chest but it was nothing compared to the beauty of his face, his finely chiselled features resembling something from the masterpieces of fine art. Teddy Lupin, Auror extraordinaire and my boyfriend of eight years, husband of four.
Setting the pot of sauce aside for the moment, I crossed the room and into his arms, planting a soft kiss on his lips. I pulled away slowly, noting the tension across his eyes, stress pinching the skin tight. Unlike mine, his job was stressful; there were often nights where he wouldn’t talk at all, he would just sit in front of the fire and stare into space. I gave him a reassuring rub on the arm before moving back to the stove. “The chicken’s almost ready, take a seat.”
But he didn’t. Instead, he edged closer to me but kept his distance, as if afraid to touch me. “Molly…we need to talk.”
I looked up at his face, drawn tight with stress, grabbing the handle of the saucepan and to the plates of greens, which were steaming on the bench, fresh from the pot. “About what?”
“I-I think you should sit down.” His voice was tired; resigned almost, as if he had some great weight that was only his to bear.
I felt a prickle of irritation. I started to plate up the meals, my head down—it wouldn’t help things if he knew I was getting cross. “Teddy, I’m serving dinner, can’t it wait—?”
“No! Just—” His voice, harsh, broke off and his face relaxed just as fraction as he saw the apparent alarm in my eyes. His eyes closed and when he spoke, it was as if there was an ache in his voice that screamed at me. “Just sit down.”
I nodded, biting back the flood of questions that threatened to spill from my lips. “Okay.” He would answer my questions in due time, I hoped. I took his hand and he led me to the small dining table, where I slid into my seat. For a moment we sat in silence until it grew so monstrous that couldn’t breathe. “Is it your grandmother?” I ventured tentatively. His grandmother, the woman that brought him up, had been sick for months. I had my suspicions—which I would never, ever share—that she would be dead come spring. “Is she worse?”
He shook his head slightly. “No, no…Andromeda’s fine.” He took a deep breath, bracing himself. “It’s about…us.”
I sighed, running my free hand through my hair. It was the same argument every time. “Teddy, we’ve been through this, I don’t want children, not yet! We’re still so young—”
His voice was quiet but the distress, the shake I heard within it, forced me to listen. He was avoiding my eyes, staring down at the mottled wood of the kitchen bench.
He took a shaky breath. For a split second I thought I could hear it rattle in his chest. “I’ve…I-I’ve found someone else.”
The words bounced off me—it was like he had said nothing at all. “Pardon?” Polite. Sincere. I could feel myself cracking.
He looked concerned. I almost laughed. “I’ve been seeing someone else.”
This time, the words hit me like a slap, as if a great wave were crashing down on me. My grip on the handle of the pan slipped and the sauce spilled to the floor. “I…You…” The words were sticking in my throat, choking me; I struggled to think, see, hear—all I could do was feel and it felt like someone was ripping out my heart.
“Her name is Lucinda, she’s from the office.” He was rushing his words; spilling them out of his mouth like if he held them in any longer he wouldn’t be able to get them out. I had met Lucinda, I realised dimly, the memory of the young blonde witch floating up before my eyes. “It’s been happening for about six months, but we only slept together once, I swear. I wouldn’t do that to you. I just…I don’t know what happened." He swallowed. "We just clicked.”
I swallowed, feeling a lump in my throat. It meant nothing, that was what he was saying wasn’t it? “I…okay. I forgive you.”
He cringed, as if he had been expecting those words. He reached out as if to touch me, then recoiled. I wanted him to touch me. “Molly…I don’t think you’re listening. I’m moving in with her—I’m marrying her.”
There was a pause as I struggled to take apart his words, find another meaning. Panic began to claw its way inside me, and my voice grew higher and more desperate. “If this—if this is because of the children thing, Teddy, I’ll do it, we can try! First thing tomorrow, I’ll book—”
“Molly, Lucinda is already pregnant—we can’t—”
I could feel desperation tingling through my veins. My eyes were welling up with tears; I pictured the blonde woman in my memory, her stomach swollen and I could feel bile rising in my throat. “Please, Teddy, please.”
“Molly, I…” his voice was strangled and he shifted ever so slightly away from me, fear in his every movement.
I didn’t care.
“Don’t leave, Teddy, please.”
He shifted and from somewhere came a neatly stacked pile of papers. “The divorce papers are here, I picked them up tonight. Love…I just can’t go on like this, without her.”
My world was crashing around me. I hadn’t moved but my view was tilting—I couldn’t believe this was so real. He’d thought about this, brought me divorce papers, spoken to a lawyer and I was worried about dinner.
I was losing strength, tears were streaming down my cheeks and my voice was weak. I could feel my heartbeat; its irregular thudding acting like a metronome for the world that was moving so chaotically around me. “I can’t…I can’t let you…”
“Molly, I think it’s best if I leave tonight.”
There was a determination in his voice, and I instantly recoiled from the suggestion. My hand snaked out, grasping his sleeve. “No—!”
The shirt fabric slipped easily through my fingers and he was standing already, his face drawn with determination. He left the papers on the table and they almost glowed in the light from the kitchen, burning my eyes.
“—I’ll call Rose over.”
I couldn’t let him. Not now, not now…
“Teddy, please think about this, I won’t—”
“Molly, bloody hell! Stop!”
There was something in his tone that made me want to cry harder; it was a firm tone, strong and angry. He’d never been angry with me, never; in twelve years, he’d been irritated, annoyed, frustrated—never angry. Never.
“I don’t…I can’t…love you. Not like I used to.”
His words were the final blow and I felt myself drowning. My heart was beating slower now, groggy and unnatural. I couldn’t concentrate, focus—it was difficult even to comprehend what was happening.
“I…” I had nothing to stay, I realised with a sinking feeling, nothing that would keep him.
“Molly, I’m going to call Rose. She’ll look after you.”
I could hear his footsteps as he walked from the kitchen to the living room. They were loud, too loud, and I felt a scream bubble in my throat; a scream for him to be quiet, to stop, to listen, to explain so I could think. It was happening too fast and I could feel my grip on everything slipping, and my heart was beating, faster, faster and my breathing was irregular, rattling gasps for air.
I was falling apart.
The next few moments both dragged on and sped up; the hurried murmur of voices in the living room; the sauce from the forgotten pan dripping to the floor in slow motion, each drop hitting the linoleum, echoing, impossibly loud; the rustle of clothing, the woosh of the Floo, the sound of footsteps; and then, finally the sound of the door closing, the snap of the lock clicking shut, a sound that resonated in my ears, bringing a fresh wave of tears to the surface.
Through the blur of tears, something red flashed. “Molly?” Rose. Her voice grounded me, enough so I could focus.
“Where is he?” My voice was cracked, broken. It would have been impossible for her not to hear the damage.
Her eyes darkened, concern glossing over the brown irises. “Gone. Did something happen?”
He didn’t say goodbye.
Her eyes fell to the papers, lying on the table like shining beacons of a long lost war.
“Oh Merlin, Molly…”
“The pain of having a broken heart is not so much as to kill you, yet not so little as to let you live.”
Chapter Two: The Aftermath of the Storm
My chest hurt.
He had been my everything. I known him all his life and ever since he had kissed me that fateful night in June twelve years ago, my life had been part of his. I stared blankly at the curtains, drawn shut to keep out the light from my curled up position on the bed. I hadn’t slept.
I couldn’t do this; I couldn’t do this alone.
My heart was slowing.
Rose hadn’t left yet—only briefly to pick up some things from home. I didn’t mind her, though I think she was frightened of me. She brought me food she knew I wouldn’t eat and smoothed the hair from my face like my mother used to when I was younger.
Rose was my best friend. She wasn’t enough.
My lungs felt weak.
People were starting to flood in now, but I hardly took notice. The days seemed to meld into one another—I hadn’t slept properly, hadn’t eaten and barely drank. I hadn’t moved since Rose put me to bed the night he left. I could almost imagine what I would look like: face drawn, skin that was sickly and unclean, matted greasy hair.
But who was there to impress?
I hadn’t stopped crying.
It was all I could think about. That single event played over and over in my head. Mum visited today, helped Rose out. I don’t know what they had said to each other; their voices just swirled around me, their meanings lost.
I threw up today.
I don’t know how; it was mostly bile, acidic green and rank. Rose is worried, I can tell. I should be worried—my heart feels like it’s pumping glue, I feel dizzy and light-headed, I can’t concentrate, eat, sleep—I can’t do anything.
I should be worried. But I can’t make myself be.
I was on the verge of losing my mind.
I could feel myself slipping—I thought about the past today. How I let myself centre my whole being around him—my happiness, my life, my everything. Everything I did took him into account.
It was like trying to navigate without a compass and with the clouds covering the stars.
It was the first thing I had said since that night. My voice was dry, cracked from disuse.
Rose, who was lying half-asleep next to me, jumped, as if a snake had bit her. “Molly?” Her voice was thick. She rubbed her eyes. “Oh, Molly!”
She flung herself at me and within a split second I was in her tight embrace. Her arms were around me, but as much as I wanted to hug her back, I couldn’t—I couldn’t move.
I took a shaky breath. My mouth full of red hair—hers or my own, I couldn’t tell—I spoke. “Rose…have you met her yet?”
She pulled back, though her arms were still tight around me. She regarded me curiously. “Met who?”
I tried to take a deep breath but it didn’t help; it was shallow, weak. “L-Lucinda.”
“Lucinda…” Her brow was crinkled in apparent confusion and I was in a state of disbelief. Then it was if the lights had clicked on in her head and her face collapsed under the weight of—what seemed to be—pity and sorrow, mingled with anger. “Merlin, Rose, he told you her name was Lucinda?”
Frustration bubbled inside me—she had lost me. “What do you mean?” My voice was sharp, sharper than I expected but I barely noticed.
She sat up in the bed, brushing the hair away from my face. Her fingers were cold and my breathing was constricted. “That isn’t her name, love”
My energy was dwindling, but I forced myself to speak. “Tell me.”
She flinched, her hand pausing across my face. “Darling, I’m not sure…”
“Tell me.” It was the strongest my voice had sounded in days.
She took a deep breath and looked down. “I-It’s…it’s Dominique.”
It took a moment for her words to make sense—I rolled them over and over in my head, looking for another meaning, a hidden sign, anything other than the face value of her words.
It wasn’t long before I realised there was nothing.
Then there was a sudden, overwhelming pain and I couldn’t breathe, it was like someone had plunged there hand into my chest, took my heart in their hand a squeezed and it hurt and burned, and I was screaming, the sound tearing itself out of my throat. Rose calling out but I couldn’t hear her; my brain was failing to take in so much; the lack of oxygen, the crushing pain, the sensation of my heart beating slower and slower until finally I blacked out, finding relief in the emptiness.
When I woke up, I knew I wasn’t in my bed, safe at home. The room I was in was white, for starters, with balloons and flowers lying on every surface; my—our, a cruel voice inside my head corrected me—bedroom was pale blue, the colour Teddy had picked out in our first month of living together. Secondly, I was not in my bed—these sheets were horrible, nothing like the sheets at home. Thirdly—the most obvious—was the quietly humming machines, the sensors that were reading my every move. By the artificial white light that lit the room and the darkness outside its only window, I knew it was night time.
“Healer Blackwood! She’s awake!”
The voice was shrill but familiar. I struggled to focus my vision, the blood pumping through my veins ringing ears like the steady beat of a drum. Slowly the figures in the room began to focus, and I was able to see Rose, seated in the chair beside the bed, anxiously wringing her hands; my mother, on my other side with my father, their faces ; Lucy, asleep on the bed next to mine.
Before I could speak and without warning, the door swung open with a creak and a flurry of white entered the room. The woman’s hair was her dominating feature—big and blonde, it had been curled and fluffed within an inch of its life, and as a result made her head seem twice as large. Her white practitioner’s robes were pressed and clean, over a bright red sweater with a scooping neckline and a black pencil skirt that brushed just above her knees. Her face sported a huge smile, showing a row of perfect white teeth and the skin around her blue eyes were lined, the only sign of any aging process.
The confusion I felt must have been apparent on my face because Rose took my hand and my mother spoke; “This is your Healer, love, Camellia Lane Blackwood. And that is Lorcan Scamander, a Resident at the hospital.”
Due to the overwhelming presence of Healer Blackwood, I hadn’t even seen the young man hovering behind her. His face bore an expression of supreme exasperation and, unlike his superior, his robes were crinkled, as if he had been sleeping in them. His name was familiar, though, and the longer I stared, the more I could have sworn I knew him.
It took be a long moment to place him and when I did, it was with surprise. Lorcan Scamander; I knew of him vaguely as Lily Potter’s best friend—she was close to the Scamander twins, but being seven years older, I had never really had much to do with Lily let alone her friends. At Hogwarts, with me in my seventh year and he in his first, he’d been the awkward little kid who couldn’t make eye-contact with me and pretended like we didn’t know each other; no matter how hard I tried to be nice, it was nothing short of uncomfortable every time.
“Good evenin’, darlin’!” drawled Healer Blackwood, her unmistakable Southern twang coating her words like honey, thick and smooth. “Nice of you to join us in the land of the livin’!”
I gave a weak smile. “Thank you, Healer.”
“How are you feeling? Any chest pains?” It was Lorcan who spoke this time, and his voice was tense, irritated and I didn’t expect it. A tendril of anger began to worm its way inside me.
It took a moment for me to respond. “I’m fine, thank you for your concern.” Sarcasm was dripping from my voice, but I didn’t care. I was on my last legs in keeping my emotions under wraps. “When do I get to leave?”
My mother looked affronted, and Dad just shook his head. “Molly, I don’t think—”
“You ain’t going nowhere, sissy!” said the Healer, brightly, cutting off the rest of Mum’s words. “You just suffered minor heart failure; you ain’t leavin’ for a week at least.”
Lucy stirred in her sleep, but it was unheeded. I was beginning to feel lightheaded as the great expanse of time a week was—time to reflex, to think, to feel...I couldn’t let her do this to me. “What do you mean a week? I have a job, bills to pay, I can’t just—”
Healer Blackwood seemed unfazed and when she spoke, her voice was stern. “I suggest you get cosy, Mrs. Lupin—”
Rose looked panicked. “It’s Miss—”
“—‘cause there ain’t nothin’ you can say or do that’ll change my mind about your treatment. I’ll be ‘round later to run some tests.”
With that, she indicated to Lorcan, who was smirking slightly, to follow and together they exited the room, leaving a hushed silence in their wake.
Rose was the first to speak. “She’s something else.”
Mum had a slight smile on her face. “I quite like her.”
I ignored them. “Mum.” My voice was desperate but I needed it to be, so she would listen. “You can’t...I need to be home right now, I need normalcy, I can’t be left here for hours on hours alone—”
While Mum, I could see, look about willing to reason, Dad’s voice was stern. “Molly, what you need is rest.”
I glared at him, seething. Couldn’t he see where I was coming from? “I can rest at home—”
The hard look in his eye left no room for argument. “Molly. You’re staying. That’s it.”
Disclaimer: Title from William Shakespeare’s, The Twelfth Night.
“I’m not over,
I’m not over you just yet.”
~ I’m Not Over, Carolina Liar
Chapter Three: This is Illyria, Lady
By the time Healer Blackwood returned, my entourage had left; it was past four in the morning, I didn’t expect them to stay.
I heard her before I even saw her. The quick tap, tap, tap of her shoes against the marble of the corridors sounded her approach. “Well, I hope you’re more reasonable than this evening, Molly,” she called, just before she entered my room.
I huffed childishly but said nothing. She smiled, showing her rows of perfect white teeth. Her hair had lost some of its bounce—the effects of a stressful job, I’d imagine—but her coat had come off and all I could see was the stretchy red cotton of her shirt covering an hourglass figure and enormous breasts.
For a split second, I despised her.
Approaching me with that same smile on her face, she began fussing with her clipboard. “Wipe that frown away, love, I haven’t even started yet.”
I narrowed my eyes in suspicion and moved away slightly, but she didn’t take the hint. She continued flicking through the papers, tapping her wand absently. “Started what?”
“Well, we need updated blood samples, several actually, and I’ve got several nasty tasting potions coming up any moment I’ll need you to take before I can even think about callin’ it a day.”
I frowned but said nothing.
“You face will stay that way if you don’t lighten up, darlin’,” she warned in a slightly singsong voice. She twirled her wand a muttered a few words, causing several small glass vials to materialise in front of her, which she directed to line up just in front of my right forearm. Taking a seat on my bed, she began pulling things out of my bedside draw; two tubes that seemed to be cream of some kind, a roll of bandages and several stoppers for the vials.
She busied herself organising her space and tapping her vials, each of which glowed a bright green hue. “Now, I’m going to get some blood samples from you, which I’ll take down and test—it will tell us if you’re getting better or worse.”
I felt a flutter of anxiety brush low in my gut and I coughed nervously. “How will you…?”
She gave me a warm smile, pulling at my arm longways and rubbing some salve into my forearm before hovering her wand just above my skin. “Nothing invasive, dear, you’ll just feel a slight tingle.”
She was right, of course, but nothing she would ever say could make me admit it. Her wand light pulsed a vibrant green, and then, slowly, a spray of red began to eek off of my skin. I watched in fascination as the blood began to gather in a thick, soupy ball that twirled and spun at the tip of the Healer’s wand. A few seconds pass and the ball slowly grew thicker and the tingle in my arm intensified to a vague sting, but I didn’t say a word.
“So who was he?” The interest her voice was thinly disguised under a veil of nonchalance.
I blushed. I knew instantly who she was talking about but said the first thing to mind. “Who was who? Shouldn’t you be concentrating?”
She rolled her eyes dismissively. “The one who landed you here, stupid!”
“I, uh...I don’t want to talk about it.” The machines monitoring me beeped warningly as my chest tightened, but the Healer paid them no mind.
“Spill, sugar! You’ll never get over it if you don’t talk about it!”
Thankfully, before I could say a word, Lorcan chose that moment to duck his head in the doorway. “Healer?” He seemed surprised to see her there.
Healer Blackwood jumped, the wobbly ball of blood shaking slightly, before she threw a glare at the sandy blonde head peering in. “Shoot, Scamander—we were bonding.”
I almost laughed but covered it quickly with a cough.
Lorcan arched an eyebrow, his eyes flicking from me to the Healer. “I can see that, Camellia. Should I come back or...?”
She pouted, her big red lips jutting out changing her expression to one of a particularly petulant child. She moved the blood to a position over the vials before whispering something that caused it to spread “You’ve gone a ruined it now and I’ve got other patients, besides.” She turned to me, her bright smile blossoming once more. “I’ll get you talking, sugar, you just watch.”
She paused at the door way before turning to Lorcan. “Oh and Lorcan? Can you be a darl’ and bandage up our patients arm?”
Lorcan gave me a glace before nodding. The Healer smiled brightly before whisking herself away in a flurry of hair and American sass.
Silence stretched between us as Lorcan moved towards me, replacing Healer Blackwood’s spot on the bed. Placing my arm across his thigh, he began rubbing the cream into my arm gingerly. His face was a mask of calm confidence and his hands were soft and smooth on my skin, the cream sending tingles up my arm.
I took the time to notice the changes in Lorcan had gone through since Hogwarts—and they were immense. Gone was the gangly teenager who couldn’t string a sentence together if I was in a three mile-radius, replaced with a strong, sure and confident man. I couldn't help but notice how much more attractive this Lorcan was. He hadn't changed so much in looks but in his confidence, in his personality--being several years older than him didn't make me blind, he was always attractive. But now, he seemed okay with it.
I don't know if that is a good thing.
I cleared my throat awkwardly, racking my mind for something to say. “Healer Blackwood is...interesting.”
Lorcan gave me a sharp look, pausing from his workings on my arm. “She’s brilliant.”
Taken aback, I let the silence settle once more. His hands were sure and fast, wrapping the bandage tightly around my arm. The burning, tingling sensation was fading but was also being replaced by a dull throb.
There was one question I was burning to ask, so I let myself speak again. “You don’t...you don’t think much of me, do you?”
He gave me an incredulous look. “What do you mean?”
His strangely intense attitude startled me, causing me to stutter out the rest of the sentence, as a blush crept to my cheeks. “You’ve just...been...never mind.”
He shrugged. “Okay.”
Oddly irritated by his dismissal, I tried again. “You don’t think I’m ill.”
He gave me a long look. “No.”
I decided it was time to state the obvious, indicating vaguely to the monitors with my free hand. “But I am.”
I cocked my head to the side, frustration at his apparent ignorance of my condition irritating as I tried to figure out where the conversation would lead to—I figured it couldn’t be good. “Your boss believes me.”
This brought a small smile to his face. “If you hadn’t noticed, Healer Blackwood has a tendency towards the dramatics.”
Anger bubbled inside me as his words sunk in. The room was becoming too small for the two of us, the hospital blankets too confining and I could feel the thump, thump, thump of my heart quicken in my chest. “So if I’m just being dramatic, how do you explain it?”
His expression darkened. “There has to be another reason. Something else is the cause—you’re twenty-eight, you can’t have BHS, Molly. You...you just can’t. It doesn’t make sense.”
I glared, unconsciously pulling the thin white blanket of the hospital bed up. I was becoming antsy and my chest was tightening ever so slightly, and “Why not?”
He looked hesitant, eyes flickering to the monitors surrounding me, but apparently the urge to express himself won over in the end. “You can’t be that emotionally attached.”
I frowned, not quite believing what I was hearing. “What?”
He looked a tiny bit flustered; it was strange, because he seemed perfectly comfortable delivering blows to my way of living. “You’re twenty-eight, you barely know who you are yet—”
My voice was hard with a jagged edge. “I loved him.”
He sighed, looking as though he wished to be anywhere but in my room, having this discussion. “I know, but—”
I shut down, unable to let myself hear the words tumbling out of his mouth. I snatched my arm, newly bandaged, away from him and turn my eyes to stare stubbornly at the wall. “I’m done for today.”
His voice sounded irritated, confused. “What—I—”
“No more tests today.”
In my minds eyes, I could almost see his expression harden. “Molly, we need—”
Thankfully, whatever he was going to say was cut off by a tap, tap, tap against the window. Attention diverted, what I saw now was, the owl at the window, and ignoring Scamander’s vague sound of protest, I leapt out of bed, and hurried to the window. Forcing it open was a slight struggle and the cold air that blustered into the room made me rethink if it was actually worth it, but the owl flew into the room without trouble, gracefully dropping the rather large but thin package on my bed before landing on my bedpost and eyeing me expectantly.
Scamander cleared his throat. “You’re not allowed owls in the hospital.”
I gave him a sour look. “It’s important.”
He rolled his eyes, obviously finding me completely dull, and made to exit the room. “That’s all for now, Mrs. Lupin. We’ll run some more tests tomorrow.”
One of the monitors around my bed beeped angrily as I spat, “It’s Weasley!”
He waved me off, exiting the room silently. I huffed, frustrated at being treated like a child by someone over half a decade my junior, before turning my attention to the package in my hands and the owl that was hooting noisily in my ear. It was an ordinary barn owl, so I had no idea who it was from. Digging around in the overnight bag Rose had been so kind to bring, I found my coin purse. Scrounging up a sickle, i tucked it into the bird pouch, giving it a gentle stroke of affection. The owl hooted happily before taking flight, flying out into the brisk London dawn.
My attention shifted to the package resting innocently on my bed and I picked it up curiously, the brown-paper wrapping tearing easily under my eager fingers. As I peeled away layer after layer, the bright blue cover of the bundle of documents glared at me and I felt my world shrink down to the single object in my hands. My chest tightened but I was already numb and I could feel a thing; my blood was pumping furiously in my ears as I stared at the cover and I could feel my hands shaking, the paper crinkling softly as my fingers tightened.
The divorce papers. The thought fluttered through my head softly, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake, as the monitors started beeping furiously around me. He had sent me the divorce papers.
A single tear slid down my cheek, and then I was crying.
Disclaimer: The title of this chapter is unashamedly stolen from Oscar Wilde’s famous play of the same name.
“Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.”
~ Charlie Brown
Chapter Four: The Importance of Being Earnest
That night, the first night I had slept properly since he left, I dreamt of him.
We were standing in the hotel room we rented out each anniversary, the white curtains rustling softly in the late afternoon sunlight. He was standing there in his best suit, the gray one with the pinstripes, lips stretched out in a wide smile. I can feel myself being pulled as I move toward him, like the sun pulls the moon, and I smile too because this is right, this is how it is meant to be. He’s holding a bouquet of roses, my favourite flowers. The red blossoms are like splashes of blood, the beating heart in the middle of the white suite and I smile because they are for me, his gift every year.
Suddenly the world is turning, revolving, spinning, and I’m behind him and he’s not facing me, he’s facing her—she’s gorgeous and stunning and beautiful and he’s smiling at her and he’s embracing her and then she has my flowers and I’m screaming, screaming for them to stop and crying, the tears are falling, hot and wet down my face and I—
“…and he just sent them to her? Out of nowhere?”
“I found them on her bedside table.”
The low hiss of voices outside my door jolted me from my nightmare, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth and a sob caught in my throat. I reached up from under the blankets to touch my face, feeling the warm, wet tear tracks that ran down my face. As the remnants of the dream washed away with the tears, I noticed the rich golden afternoon sunlight seeping through the window next to my bed. I had slept the whole day, I realised; no wonder I felt like I had been roughed up by a troll.
I remembered the drone of the voices outside, which had roused me from my sleep. I strained my ear to catch every word as their conversation continued. “…I just can’t believe he would do it, Camellia. What’s wrong with him?”
Lorcan, I realised. Was he defending me? I hadn’t expected that.
“I know.” I practically could hear the smile in her voice. I dreaded to think why she was smiling—these things were best left alone.
I could hear the low sounds of footsteps pacing in frustration. The gesture was oddly touching; at least, coming from the man I believed thought me a fraud. “I mean, of all the cheeky things the git—”
There was a dull thump as a body—Lorcan, I assumed, Camellia didn’t seem like one to slouch—fell sloppily against the wall of the corridor. “She needs rest!” He sounded frustrated, and I could almost imagine his hands rubbing the exhaustion out of his face as he spoke. “Whatever it is she has, it’s not getting better. How is she supposed to—?”
“Lorcan, I know.” The Healer sounded exhausted too. “But there is really nothing we can do to stop the girl from receiving mail, can we?”
There was a long pause. When Lorcan spoke next his voice was laced with a restrained anger. “He had to have known she was in hospital. Why would he…?”
“From the sounds of it, he didn’t deserve her.” The Healers voice held a note of protectiveness and I felt a sudden rush of affection for the busty American. “Look son, I need to check on Ms. Rowling—she’s been throwing up butterflies according to the orderlies—would you be a doll and run the procedure on Mrs. Lupin?”
Weasley, my subconscious hissed.
There was a brief pause. “Wait, shouldn’t you—I don’t—”
“Oh Lord, Scamander, you’re not going all shy on me now? It’s just a chest exam.”
As her words sunk in, Healer Blackwood laughed loudly then there was scuffling and the familiar tap, tap, tap as she began to move down the corridor, away from my room. “She’s almost thirty, son; I don’t think she’s interested.”
Merlin, she was crass. I’d give her almost thirty.
I sank further into my bed, listening to Camellia walk away, feeling a blush creep to my cheeks. There was a moment of shuffling in the corridor before Lorcan appeared in my doorway. Seeing that I was awake, he smiled tensely, moving into the room awkwardly to study the stream of parchment running itself out of one of the contraptions by my bed.
“Good morning.” Are you ready for your exam? I’ll just need you to take of your shirt.
“Oh, hi,” I said lamely, wishing my brain would shut up for just a moment.
“How are you feeling today?” It’s a little chilly but don’t worry, I won’t look.
“Fine.” I paused. “Better.”
“Great.” Now take off your top. “All your vitals seem normal but—” He frowned, tracing a line of the parchment before glancing at me. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and sat up, as he regarded me with concern. “There’s a disturbance in your heart rate; a very recent one. Are you all right? Any light headedness?”
A curtain of silvery hair flashed across my memory—the machine to my left let out a series of frantic beep!s before returning to normal—and suddenly I was feeling extremely self-conscious. I clutched the blanket tightly. “I was having a nightmare. It’s nothing.”
Lorcan raised an eyebrow before turning to pick up my chart. He scribbled something down quickly before returning his gaze to me. “About…?”
I narrowed my eyes, my fingers clutching the blanket even more tightly. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
A flash of red petals, the curve of his jaw.
A machine beeped and he continued. “Does it have something to do with your condition?”
I shook my head. “I don’t—”
“Look, I’m your Healer. I need to know—”
Tears sprung to my eyes as the memories of the half remembered dream floated to the surface.
The look in his eye as he chose her.
“Lorcan, I can’t—”
His eyes narrowed as he dealt his final ace. “Was it about him? Your husband?”
I winced at the word husband before I finally snapped, the tears finally slipping down my face. “Of course, it about him! Who else would it be?” I closed my eyes, distantly feeling the dip in the bed as he sat down, the softness of his hand as it slipped over mine comfortingly. I fell back into the dream, tears flowing freely. “We…we were in the hotel room where we go for our anniversaries and I… He was holding flowers… And I… I tried to take them but he wouldn’t let go.” I took a shuddering breath, taking comfort in his hand resting over mine. I continued as the monitors raged around me, “Then she was there and she was t-taking them f-from him and t-t-they w-were…” I threw a hand over my mouth as a sob escaped unbidden. The monitors around me were beeping chaotically, but I could barely hear them.
My senses were shutting down as I relieved that horrible moment where he chose her; where she took my place in his heart.
There was a long pause before I was able to speak again, slowly bringing myself back to the present with Lorcan’s hand as my anchor. “It’s silly,” I hiccupped, embarassed. Slipping my hand out of his, I rubbed my eyes furiously, letting out a small pathetic laugh. “I know it is, I don’t know…”
He shook his head softly, his shaggy mop of hair swaying gently. “It will be a long time before it stops hurting.”
I laughed bitterly, without humour. “Thanks. I feel much better.”
He shot me a look, taking my hand back into his grasp with a gentle tug. I was too surprised to do much about it other than stare disbelieveingly . “The point is, it will stop.”
All dark humour I found in the situation disappeared and I took a shuddering breath in a vain attempt to keep my emotions in check. A strand of hair fell into my eyes but I paid it now mind; I was more concerned with how I was ever going to feel human again. “When? How?”
For a moment, I thought I felt his hand twitch, his eyes flick to the hair across my eyes—as if he was going to touch it, stroke it back. Then his hand squeezed mine before dropping it, and the moment was gone and he was leaning back again, clipboard in his hands.
Releasing a small breath I didn’t know I was holding, I leant back into the bed. Raising a hand to brush the hair back, I cursed myself for the shakiness of it—what was I, some crushed up teenage girl?
Lorcan coughed awkwardly, staring far too intently at the clipboard. “I’m going need you to pull down your gown.”
I blinked stupidly at him, not comprehending. “Sorry?”
“Oh, s-sorry,” he spluttered, a faint blush blooming. “I need to do a chest exam—check your vitals and stuff like that. I’m going to need complete, er, access to your chest.” He paused, before hastily adding, “For t-the exam.”
Were those the tips of his ears I saw turning red?
It seemed I was not immune, either—I felt a slow burn spread along my cheeks as his words registered. I fiddled with fabric of my gown, unable to help the stutter in my next words. “O-Oh, okay, are you sure you can’t—?”
He shook his head spastically. “I’m sorry but—”
I shook my head too, reaching for the buttons of my hospital gown. “No, no, it’s fine—”
A frown appeared on his brow and he ran a hand through his hair. “I told Camellia you’d prefer—”
“Lorcan, stop.” He did and I gave him a look of reassurance, pausing with my work on the buttons. “Just do it, honestly, I don’t…”
I watched his Adams apple bob as he swallowed. “Okay.”
As I undid the buttons of my gown, trying to forget what was about to happen, I thought about the changes I had noticed in Lorcan since yesterday. Surely he didn’t get like this with every chest exam? There was only one conclusion I could think of, which I didn’t want to admit too thinking but I felt a small burst of pride mixed with nerves at the thought nevertheless.
The exam itself was something I never would want to repeat in several lifetimes. I felt my blush deepen as his eyes averted to the small plastic disks in his hand that he had acquired from the Drawer of Mystical Things next to my bed. I kept my eyes pinned to the opposite wall, avoiding any eye contact as I let my dressing gown fall.
Avoiding staring, he placing the disks carefully on strategic places on my chest—one between my breasts and the other just at the swell of my left—avoiding any contact with the skin. He then cleared his throat awkwardly, staring fixedly at my collarbone. “Cough, please,” he said. I did, hating every moment.
He asked me to cough a few more times after that, listening to the sound coming through his little cups. Then he asked me to draw five deep breaths, counting me in and out as he listened.
The entire exam lasted less than five minutes but it might as well have been lifetime. I could feel every movement with a hyper awareness I did not at all appreciate. Every shift of loose skin, every jiggle of fat—it was the first time since Teddy left that I truly appreciated the fact that I hadn’t given in to having children.
“You can put your shirt back on now.” His voice was soft and I felt my blush deepen even further. “Everything seems to be going fine.” He gave me a weak smile. “You’ll be pleased to know you’ll probably be out of here in a day or two—back to work in a week, Mrs. Lupin.”
“Weasley,” I said, my voice small. I refused to meet his eyes, “My name is Molly Weasley.”
Lorcan looked at me, his expression guarded. I watched as his eyes flicked to the silent monitors beside me, and back again.
When I spoke next, my voice was stronger, louder. “You can call me Molly.”
He nodded slowly, his face betraying nothing. “Sure.” He gave me a small smile. “I’ll be back in a few hours.”
And, for the first time in days, I smiled too.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Any feedback, comments, critique can be left in a review :) But thanks again!