Chapter 21 : 21. Teddy
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Her retreating footsteps echoed throughout the ward. She left slowly, careful not to appear rushed. I knew, however, that every step she took was measured, that she was trying to control herself. I knew her too well, and that was the problem.
How the hell was I supposed to tell the girl I’d grown up to love that this changed everything? I didn’t want sympathy, I didn’t want help; I needed space. I’d barely had twenty-four hours to get used to the fact that I was never going to set eyes on her again, I was never going to see the world again. As a stared into the darkness that was my vision, I wondered how I’d gone all my life with perfect sight without appreciating it. Memories of things I’d seen fluttered through my mind, though I knew eventually they’d fade. I tried not to think about everything I had lost. Sight was such an important sense, I had never really understood what it meant.
I was already starting to rely on my hearing a lot more; I had to listen carefully to work out which Healer stood near my bed. I could recognise them by the weight of their footsteps, their breathing, their presence. For the first time in my life, I listened to people properly. I couldn’t rely on their facial expressions to tell me what they meant. A nervous laugh meant a hundred times more than an uneasy glance ever did. I didn’t think people realised how much they gave away by their voice. Hesitations that had once gone unnoticed I now detected easily. I picked up the slightest sound from much further away than I had ever done before; it was as if my hearing had intensified tenfold. I no longer needed sight to see; like a bat I could map out where things were by sound. Of course, it was all my imagination.
I heard the footsteps of my Healer approach my bed. He cleared his throat, as if trying to rid an invisible frog that had lodged itself there. An intake of break, the slow exhalation. I did not wait for him to speak, beginning the conversation with my usual question.
“When can I go home?”
I heard him inhale sharply, then pause to consider his words. I expected the worst, of course. I could hear the “no” ready on his lips, the verdict moments from leaving them.
“We need to run a couple more tests first, I’m afraid.” I heard the apologetic note in my voice and I sighed.
“Haven’t you tried everything already?” I asked evenly. “There’s only so much a wand can do.”
“I expect you’ll be discharged in the next couple of days. It won’t be long now.” His footsteps retreated, leaving me alone with my thoughts once again.
Two days seemed like an awfully long time. At least I used to be able to watch the Healers come and go to pass the time. Now I was stuck staring at an empty darkness that swallowed up anything around me. I’d tried straining my eyes, opening them as wide as they’d go, but irritatingly the darkness remained. I felt claustrophobic, as though someone was holding a black sheet in front of my eyes. I longed to rip it away, but I knew that wasn’t possible.
I drifted in and out of sleep uneasily. It was disconcerting to wake up to nothing but noises around me. It was hopelessly boring, of all things. My eyes were no longer in pain, I did not mind the dull ache that settled in my heart; I was bored, restless. I couldn’t help but wonder where Victoire was. It was foolish of me to expect her to return after the way I treated her, but I still couldn’t help but hope that every passing footstep belonged to her. I was an idiot; I doubted Victoire cared whether I was blind or not. It was me who had the issue with it. She had only offered her sympathy and support and I had thrown it back in her face. I was supposed to be moving in with her, and I’d completely antagonised her.
Someone cleared their throat next to my bed, and I raised my head. I’d not heard anyone approach my bed during my musings.
“Hello, Harry,” I said dryly as he sat on my bed, his wait making the mattress dip slightly. “Lovely day, isn’t it?”
“How did you know it was me?” He asked, his voice raising somewhat in surprise.
“Your cough.” I scratched the palm of my hand, my mind distracted. “How are the kids?”
“They’re fine. Looking forward to the Easter holidays, I expect.” Harry paused, gathering his thoughts and preparing for his next words. “The Healer told me about… you know. Your condition.”
“Well I suppose they can’t trust me to tell you myself,” I said sarcastically, my eyebrows knitting. “I’m blind, after all.”
“Oh stop it, Teddy. You don’t need to be so bitter. It isn’t the end of the world.” Harry placed his hand over mine in an attempt to comfort me. I shook it off.
“Maybe not for you it isn’t,” I said bitterly. “But for me it is. I can’t even see the bloody world. I’m never going to see anything ever again! Do you know how frustrating that feels?”
“No, I don’t,” Harry conceded, shifting on the bed uneasily. “But you’ll find a way to get used to it, I promise.”
“I guess I’ll have to; it’s not as though I have a choice, is it?” I sighed, leaning back into my pillow. I felt like a cripple, forced to spend time in a hospital bed as though I couldn’t walk. There was nothing wrong with my body, it was just my sight that had failed. I longed just to get up and walk out of St. Mungo’s, to just walk as far as I could away from the hospital. I wanted to rip the blackness from my eyes, to bring some light to the dark.
“I saw Victoire earlier today,” Harry said cautiously; I heard how guarded each of his words were. “She’s rather upset.”
I groaned. “What did she say to you?”
“Only how pathetic you’ve been.” I hung my head in shame at his words. I knew exactly how pathetic I’d been. I just wanted them all to leave me alone. Harry stood up from the bed, and in my imagination I saw him stand over me. “How you just threw all her efforts back in her face! What’s going on, Teddy? You’re supposed to be moving in with her.”
“I’m scared, alright?” I said through gritted teeth. “I’m scared she won’t love me because I’m blind. I’m scared I won’t love her now I can’t see.”
“Of course you’ll still love each other,” Harry said gently, sitting back down. “How long have you been best friends?”
“A long time,” I said slowly.
“And you’re still together? A small thing like this isn’t going to change a thing. You mark my words.”
I nodded, trying to believe his words. “But what if it does?”
“Are you a man or not?” Harry said exasperatedly.
I didn’t say anything in reply, I just continued to scratch my palm. He sighed, and drew a piece of parchment out of his pocket.
“This letter came for you,” he said slowly, unfolding the piece of parchment. “It’s from your boss.”
“Oh,” I thought, inwardly cursing. I’d forgotten about the mission I was about to embark on, and the contract I’d signed. “What did he want?”
“He wanted to pick you up on Saturday to complete your next job.” There was a definite stony taint to my godfather’s voice. “I replied and told him that you were too sick to go and if he had a problem with that he could answer to me.”
I could feel my cheeks burning; I felt like such an idiot to have gotten myself into this mess in the first place. I mumbled my thanks and he got up to leave.
“Listen, I’ll talk to the Healers, try and get you out a little earlier so you can sort your life out. There’s nothing the Chosen One can’t solve.”
I almost laughed; I could hear the cheeky wink in his voice, and I marvelled at how much better I felt after his visit. Harry was right; we’d been friends long enough to get through something like this; once I apologised, that was. Hope began to slowly trickle into my cells, a new kind of energy that was just about to break loose. I was going to apologise to Victoire. Then I’d sort out the mess that was my career.
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