Chapter 1 : I Can Barely Look At You
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As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear
-Snow Patrol: Run
The house was quiet as he sat, looking at her. The tick of the clock was the only sound that rang in his ears. She appeared to be completely still as she took in what he had just said to her. Her usually vivid and vibrant hazel eyes were blank. Emotionless. They were just...there. It scared him to death that she hadn't said anything. She was a talkative woman. Or, at least that's what he had figured. When he'd opened the door, she was smiling and talking to him.
Then he told her. Why did he always have to be the one to deliver the worst news that people could imagine? It was always he who had to look at the faces of the victims' wives, mothers, husbands, lovers...Anyone who loved the victim. He had to look at their faces, their bodies shuddering with sobs. But this woman was different. She showed no emotion at all. She just looked at him, shell shocked.
“Mrs. Brooks?” he asked, not sure whether or not she was all right.
Her face didn't change. She remained in her state of shock, nothing on her face except her features. Blindly, she picked up a napkin from the middle of the shining oak table. She was looking at him, but to him it felt like he was being watched. He wasn't being listened to, she was watching him for signs of a prank or a joke gone wrong. Her eyes traced his face, no tears brimming in her eyes yet. He watched as she swallowed hard and folded the napkin delicately.
“Mrs. Brooks are you all right?” he asked, growing more frightened by the moment. He'd never been around a woman who acted like this after hearing the news he had just delivered. She dropped the napkin she had been folder immediately and looked at him, blank. Numb. Not there. His breathing became shallow as fear built in his gut. If anything in the world could scare him more than death, it was lack of emotion.
He could taste the confusion and disbelief that the dark-haired woman before him was feeling. No matter how many times he told himself not to get emotionally attached, he did. He couldn't help it; that was the kind of man he was. How could you help someone if you didn't care for them at all?
His gaze was still fixed on the woman before him as she looked at him, nothing at all in her eyes. Her lips were starting to curve into a frown as she allowed a tear to fall from one of her eyes. What disturbed him was that she still didn't show any feeling. It was as though her heart wanted her to feel, to be in pain, but her head was not allowing her to feel anything. She was no longer in reality, but in her own world.
“Are you okay, Mrs. Brooks?” he asked for the third time, knowing that he was not going to get an answer. Of course, she did not answer.
He turned his attention to the clock on the wall. It was obviously old, perhaps a family heirloom. But the time was still correct – eight fifty-two in the morning. It was precise too. He looked at his wrist watch and then at the clock. The seconds were correct as well, which did surprise him. Most of the time second hands were always off. He smiled in spite of the current situation.
“He's dead,” she said absently, shocking him that she had actually spoken.
“Yes, Mrs. Brooks.”
“Are you one hundred percent sure that the dead man is...my husband?”
He looked at her, and she suddenly aged. She didn't look at all older than the twenty years she likely was, but her eyes were no longer young. They were old and looked as though she had seen it all. It reminded him of the way his grandmother had looked at him just before she had passed away. He had to look down at his hands. He could no longer look at the young Mrs. Brooks.
“I need you to go now, Mr. Randolf,” she said harshly, standing up. “If all you're here to do is tell me a lie about my husband being dead, then I wish to have nothing to do with you. Please, for the good of us both, get out.”
“E – excuse me, ma'am?”
“My husband is not dead! Do you hear me? He's coming back to me!”
There was nothing more that Mark Randolf could say to the young woman in front of him. He gave a courteous nod, tipped his hat, and turned out the door. When he was out of the house, he sat on the front stoop and let his head fall into his hands. He watched as his tears stained his robes and listened to poor Mrs. Brooks sob loudly over her husband.
“I'm sorry,” he whispered to his wife, though he couldn't hear. “I lied; I'll come back when the time is right.”
As the Polyjuice potion wore off, he picked himself off and walked away from the love of his life.
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