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Chapter 2 : 2.
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We stepped out onto the lane, which led around our small home onto the front garden. It was silent; the only sound was the wind, which blew the falling snow to the left. A few lights of the other small cottages lit up the space around us.
'Look, she's probably stopped in somewhere else. Go and ask Maggie if she's seen her. I'll check the McKinnon’s.' Richard nodded and set off in a slow sprint in the opposite direction. I did the same, moving as fast as I could, trying to conceal some heat within my ice-cold flesh. I turned on to the country road, which lead to three fields, knowing that I'd have a battle to get through the thick snow that now lay on the ground. I could see the small cottage light up the darkening sky and I helplessly called out to my mother once again. There was a reply this time but not one I wanted to hear. My body froze as I heard a defaming scream erupt and a flash of yellow light blinded my vision. As I gained the courage, I ran as fast as I could towards where the light had once been, attempting to call out to her through my ragged breaths. It was hopeless and as I reached the space where the yellow light had shone from, I almost collapsed with fear. A shaking, wining figure lay on the ground before me, the life slowly draining from her eyes. I approached her slowly, but movement in the trees caused my attention to move from my seemingly dying mother towards the cloaked men who moved in slow motion towards the distance. My Order instincts kicked in and I raised my wand, mustering all the energy I could.
'STUPEFY!' Red light filled the air, illuminating my mother who had now stopped moving completely. My spell hit one of the men and I had a decision to make, I could not let those men get away with what they had done but I could not leave my mother in the state she was. Torn in half, I heard two voices screaming in my head. I don't know what made me do it, but I ran towards the man who now was scrambling to his feet, holding his arm and stumbling to the side. I caught up with him and sent another stunning spell towards him, but it rebounded off an invisible shield and shot in the other direction, hitting a large tree. I could hear the men shouting to one another, asking where they should go, where they should Apperate too. I almost felt pity, these were no experienced Death Eaters but before I had a chance to even whisper another spell, their cracks filled the cold air and I was left standing in the middle of the trees, panicked and alone. I stumbled back towards my mother and fell to my knees, rolling her over on to her back, shaking her violently. There was no reply and I called out for help, I called out for Richard. There was nothing but silence and I screamed in frustration, scrambling to feet and thinking of all the good times I had experienced.
I thought of my mother alive, baking my birthday cake but it was overshadowed by the lifeless figure in front of me. I thought of James, the hours we would spend in Transfiguration and the amount of laughs we'd share but all I could see was that red haired cockroach wrapped up in his arms. I felt my body freeze up and I used all my energy to remember how Richard and I used to build snowmen in the garden when we were very young, how mum would find us the perfect carrot and little twigs we could use for his face. It was a weak patronus, but it did the job and the silver horse darted off into the distance, leaving me once again in silence.
I took my mothers cold hand in my own and brushed the fresh snowflakes off her face, just like she would do if it were I lying there. I felt like a 40-year-old woman doing it but the fear made me feel like I was 10. Twenty years under my mother’s tender care and all I could do was whisper in her ear, praying she would hear me and squeezed her hand, hoping that she would feel my touch and open her eyes. I did not take long for my fellow Order members to arrive and I could hear Richards’s distant calls. I realised it was James who was first to respond and he put his hands on my shoulders, and he kept asking me what happened but I was unable to answer. I could not piece together the last ten minutes events and I fell into some sort of live sleep, I could see what was going on. I could hear people telling me that they were taking my mum to St Mungo's and I could feel their touch as they wrapped their cloaks around me but I was physically unable to say anything. It was not until I was sat in the warmth of the hospital that my words were able to form. James sat next to me and looked at me straight in the eyes, I think he was wondering why I was not crying. And to be completely honest, so was I.
It was Dorcus who took the lead and began to question me. She was one of the strongest Order members, she could fight like all the men but could handle her emotions like a woman, allowing her to read people in a different way the males could. She crouched in front of me and whispered a quick drying spell on my damp clothes bringing immediate warmth.
'What happened, Cora?' I looked up into the light and I could make out Richard pacing the floor and punching the wall. I went to stand but Dorcus pushed me back down and I saw her signal to Sirius to calm my brother down. He did so, taking him further away from where I was sat. 'Cora, did you see them?' I nodded.
'There was two of them. I didn’t see their faces. I don't think they knew what they were doing; they kept asking each other what to do next. I hit one of them with a stunning spell but… it didn't do much good...' Dorcus continued to question me about their appearances but all I could see in my head was my mother’s pale, empty and deathly complexion. She told me I was doing well but I disagreed. 'I should have done more.'
James gripped my hand and my head fell back against the wall. Dorcus stood up and walked away with Moody and Deanborn, obviously to discuss those night’s events. I saw my father emerge from one of the treatment rooms and I had trouble remembering when he had entered. I wondered then how long I had sat there in silence, replaying the small battle in my head. I stood up and Richard rushed towards our father.
'How is she? Dad, what's happened to her?' Richard pushed forwards and I stood by his side. My fathers eyes where focused on the wall behind us and he shook his head.
'Gone.' His pale complexion faded even more and Richard grabbed his arms, once again asking him for conformation of the words he had just uttered. My father did not flinch; he calmly dropped his arms from my brothers and pushed past us, heading towards the exit. Richard looked to me, clenching his shaking hands before turning to the wall behind him and punching it with all his might. I stumbled back, treading on James' feet as my brother collapsed into a heap, screaming in anger and pain as if someone had ripped his chest open and pulled out his heart. He had always been a mummy's boy.
James arm sat on the small of my back and I could feel sigh deeply as I let out a sob of my own. I felt pathetic, a failure but I could not hold it in any longer. My mother was dead and although the corridor around me was filled with familiar faces, I felt so alone. I looked to Richard, who looked so consumed with his own grief that I wasn't sure if he'd ever stand again. The world felt as if it had just stopped spinning but I couldn’t stop. I felt like this was it, I had no energy to even breathe anymore.
* * *
Days passed and I stayed in my bedroom, moving only for the bathroom or to collect some water to try and ease my constant headache. The snow continued to fall as December approached and the thought of Christmas without mum was almost unbearable. Numerous Order members knocked on my door and attempted to comfort me however being the extremely smart people they were, they realised that I was most likely beyond help and left me after a few minutes of bitter silence. On the third day of my isolation and constant flow of tears, James came to console me. He, unlike the rest, did not say anything or offer his condolences. He instead sat down beside me and pulled a blanket firmly around my shoulders. I looked at him and smiled half-heartedly and he returned the gesture. He stood up and took my hand with him.
‘You need to get up, Cora. It’s the funeral tomorrow.’ I pulled my hand back and curled back up into a small ball, trying to conceal myself from the sensible man above me. ‘Cora?’
‘I want to stay here.’ I turned my gaze away from him and sighed.
‘You can’t stay in here forever you know…’ Was James challenging me to see if I would leave or was he simply stating the obvious? I wasn’t sure but my thoughts were interrupted as I felt his firm arms wrap around me as he pulled me to my feet. I pushed him off and shot him a wicked glace, he ignored it and pushed his glasses back into place.
‘Leave me alone, James.’ I sat down on my bed and turned away from him. I could hear him sigh behind me and he began to search my room. The sound of the wardrobe being flung open and my clothes being searched through prompted me to jump up and I pushed the blanket from my shoulders. ‘What are you doing? Leave it alone!’
‘You need to get some clothes on; people are here to see you. You need to get ready for tomorrow-’
‘I don’t care about tomorrow!’ I screeched, pulling a black jumper he had collected right out of his hands.
‘Cora, its your last chance to said goodbye to her…’ I became breathless as I scrambled to the ground to pick up the clothes that had been flung around the room during our small argument. I wiped away a few stray tears hastily and growled at James as he crouched down beside me. ‘This isn’t right Cora, you need to-’
‘What? Say goodbye! Don’t you think I know that James! What do you think I’ve been doing up here? Dreaming about flipping fairies? I don’t need you to tell me what I need to do! I know what’s going on! Ok, so just…leave me alone!’ The room fell silent and my breathing became heavier as I once again broke down. I felt weak; I had no energy left to argue with anyone about anything, never mind my mother’s death. My legs gave way and I collapsed to the ground in a heap, sobbing hysterically as I realised I could not carry on and something happened. James moved down beside me and pulled me close to him. His arms rested on the top of my back and he soothed me best he could, comforting words escaping his lips. I stopped crying and looked up at him, a confused look creeping upon his face.
In the three days since my mother died, no one had offered me an embrace, a hug or any sort of comforting gesture. It had been simply a pat on the back or a small, fake smile and that was it. Not one of the many people who had crossed my path had properly comforted me until today, until this dreadful moment. James continued rubbing my back and I let my head fall against his chest. As my breathing returned too normal I could hear his heart beating steadily under me. I raised my hand and placed it on his chest to feel the small thumps vibrate through my frail hands. I moved my hand to my own chest only to feel the same small thumps and sighed with relief. As awful and as heartbroken as I felt, it could not be argued. I was certainly still alive.
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