Disclaimer I own none of Harry Potter. The original characters and plot, however, are mine. Also, I stole the epilogue idea from the amazing Gubby (GubraithianFire). It's not to say that the story is being told backwards - far from it - but that I'm letting you start with the ending. Does that make sense? I start with the end, but the next chapter, and the chapters following, will be from the beginning onwards. Think of it as a geometric proof. =)
Author's Note This is an incredibly hard story - both to read and for me to write. It is also extremely personal, so I beg of you to consider that before commenting on it in any review of the like. That being said, I hope you enjoy this, and I'd be thrilled if you left me a review telling me what you thought!
EPILOGUE: FORGOTTEN ANGELS
The room smells of toxins and odd chemicals that are unfamiliar to an untrained nose. Rose is shaking, unsure and frightened, limited by her decision in the cold metal chair that now binds her to her wavering will. Women all around her bear the expression that is printed on her face: was it worth it, in the end? Was there truly anything good that had come out of it?
She is twenty-two years old, and unprepared.
The cruelly large window bears her witness to the bustling city below her, though there is nothing but false tranquility in the room she now belongs to. Her stomach is still raw from the stones and leaves. There is hardly anything left within her anymore. Her eyes flutter closed - she feels the pain again, ripping through her.
"NO! No! God, no, please ... please, no," she whimpers, but it is too late.
She winces involuntarily as she remembers, though it will make no change now. She watches the soot of the sky, tendrils of iron and coal smeared against the roiling, turbulent sky.
A small breeze wraps itself around Rose's ankles and she shudders as her white gown floats on the air. It is stark against her glowing skin, but she does not understand why her flesh gleams the way it does. It is not a day to shimmer, it is not a day to shine. The sky should be proof enough of that, but as she lifts her head to watch the clouds once more, they part, and through them shines the sun.
Innocent, like a small child, like a child, the sun is content to merely sing a happy lullaby and go to sleep with no worries. It sails through the day, lighting the earth and the miseries of the people around her. She is as invisible to them as they are to her. Where misery resides, there is no place for compassion.
Her robe is a butterfly, with only six days to live and one night to die, with hardly the worries and the complications that come with the insecurities and regrets of a life lived too hard.
She has lived that life too hard. Wrapping her arms around her frightening stomach, she wanders away from the window. The sun will not touch her today. The angels will not touch her today, of that she is certain. God - whatever deity might have decided her fate - did not smile upon her. She doubts that there even is one.
"Honey?" comes a voice, and it is too loud. She shies away, wild red curls obstructing her face, and the nurse with the gumdrop face looks sadly at the terrified girl. "Honey, is there anything you need? You might want to be getting home, you know. The office is closing for the night."
No, no, the office should not close. Why would it close? Closing meant - it meant saving all those lives, but Rose has found a purgatory. No longer will she visit the hell of the white-washed room inside, but she cannot go home. There are angels at her home, and she is certain they will see through her deceit. Rose tries opening her mouth to answer the nurse with the gumdrop face, but no words will come.
The office should not close. What time is it? She glances outside the window, and in the blood-streaked sky sees a small sun drowning on the horizon. Late. She has been there long, and Mother - Mother the angel, Mother her savior - will be wondering where Rose has been. She will say she was at the graveyard, mourning an uncle she has never known. It is perhaps not so far from the truth.
"Sweetie?" The nurse with the gumdrop face is tired and sad. What it must be to see them, day after day, locked inside jars with no proper burials. Rose's hand wanders over her stomach, and finds she is still in the butterfly robe.
"I - I'm going," Rose whispers. "May I have my clothes?"
The nurse with the gumdrop face smiles weakly and points at the chair. They, like she, have been waiting long, and Rose feels the blue jean disappointment wash over her.
"Oh. I'll be a minute." The nurse with the gumdrop face nods and opens the door to an empty room. It is dark inside the room, but Rose does not care. She lets the butterfly robe fall to the ground, its wings broken, and welcomes the chill against her naked, gleaming flesh.
Perhaps there is a chance of salvation.
She turns on the light to reach for her pants, but instead of the clothes, the lights hit the jars that line the wall. Each labeled, each frozen in time, each dead.
Rose falls to the floor. The nurse with the gumdrop face was no angel after all.
Slowly, Rose starts to cry, harder and harder until the lights turn off and she slips into that area between sleep and hell, the damnation of purgatory, the lasting shelves of forgotten angels.
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