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Chapter 1 : At a Loss
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“I know, I can’t believe it... I was going to be on shift with him tomorrow.”
“You know... you know what they would have done to get him to bleed like that?”
“I don’t want to know.”
“He was probably still alive when they...”
My eyes saw nothing except for visions of human disfigurement. It seemed that everywhere I turned there was another example of a human being impacted upon by one of man's own creations. A girl was wheeled in with horrible burns. More than one violent accident came through the doors. And there was even an old man who seemed to have mistakenly severed his finger.
I remembered finding him, shattered and twisted and bleeding profusely, his breathing ragged. The open window. The broken furniture. His office, usually so light and comfortable, had been dark and dingy, his wrecked possessions and splintered wood and glass littering the floor. And the blood.
“You know what they would have done to get him to bleed like that?”
I moved my head slowly to face the people standing in the cavernous white room: healers, relatives, people waiting. A family in the corner stood up hastily when a healer approached them, lowering his facemask and shaking his head sadly. That family might be us in an hour or so. And I watched their reactions, trying to acknowledge the correct way to respond to these things - they were crying, one was on his knees, another still and silent.
It didn’t help. My body had succumbed to this horrible numbness, and I felt like I had blended into the blank white walls: undefined and bland, cold and uncaring. If I had made the mistake of looking into a mirror, the paleness of my skin would have complemented the shade.
They had sat there for hours, in a cold and drab waiting room, watching healers go in and out with various potions and machines. I had loitered outside in the corridor - too annoyed by the sympathetic looks and encouraging smiles. The words that had been used by the healers in the snatches of conversation that I had greedily overhead in the waiting room had shifted from my ears and settled in my stomach like lead: a very small chance, he may pull through, he may fight it.
We were expecting for something to happen, for someone to tell us it would all be all right.
None of us dared to think of what would happen if it wasn’t.
“Miss Weasley? We need to talk to you... about Lorcan. About what happened tonight?”
This was just another example of the fragility of the human body. It had been short-sighted of me not to consider that the person I saw every day, talked to everyday, kissed and hugged and slept with, could so easily be damaged by the outside world and by the actions of others. I should have insisted he wore some sort of protective armour, and he would not have been taken from me so quickly.
From the moment that you allowed yourself to feel these feelings, you began the countdown to the day when the loved one would no longer be around.
“Would you like some coffee? Water? Something to eat?”
The coffee was cold and disgusting, but I drank it anyway. I was starving, but I was too nervous to eat anything, or even ask. Instead I looked at all the paintings of famous healers snoozing in their frames. He was supposed to be one of them; his portrait should have been hanging here. His wide blue eyes and brown hair, so much like his twin brother’s, should have been painted and hung on the wall with the others.
The white wall, white skin, deathly pale. Death on a pale horse.
“Miss Weasley, it’s imperative that we talk to you.”
I was so tired.
“Would you like anything else?”
I shook my head.
“Then I need you to speak to me. I know it’s difficult, I know you’ve been through a lot, but the faster we get this done, the faster you can go home.”
The Aurors came just after he was taken to hospital, and I endured several minutes of uninterrupted, pressurised questioning. Now they had sat me down at a table, they had notes and files and long, black cloaks. Official looking documents with stamps and signatures - even pictures of Lorcan, fingerprints...
“Perhaps it would be better if I talked on her behalf? She is obviously still in shock.”
Rose entered with a flurry of red curls and soft fragrance. How come she could still look so perfect under the harsh lights and the horrible circumstances - she was one of those miraculous people where her skin was still pale and porcelain and beautiful when she cried, not red and blotchy. As she spoke, a single tear fell from her eye and dropped onto the table.
“Thank you, Miss Weasley. That would be helpful.”
“What would you like to know?”
I needed fresh air, or some water - but my mouth was too parched to say anything. I gawked ungainly at Rose as she gesticulated and retold the story. The man sitting opposite was writing things down, dotting i’s and crossing t’s with such ferocity it was as if the parchment had murdered Lorcan.
He was going to take me to a ball, a sponsor event for St Mungo’s, to celebrate our four-year anniversary. I hated those events, trapped inside some horrible dress while I had to make conversation with horrible people. He had always made it fun, though. He had always made me laugh.
Rose turned to face me, scandalized. Her hands automatically found mine, and I watched as Lorcan’s dried blood was transferred from my hands to hers. I felt her shudder, and another tear fell. She didn’t need that. She didn’t want that.
It was too hot in the room, and my throat was dry, but I kept laughing. The Aurors were staring, they didn’t know what to do.
How I wanted this to simply be another of Albus’ pranks, for Lorcan - fully alive and healthy - to jump out from behind a door and surprise me. I smiled bravely at the thought. Rose looked around at the Aurors, and I saw the pain in her face. Her blue eyes, usually so bright and full of energy were dead and dark.
“Could you get her some water please?”
I stood up to accept it. It felt like my throat had now closed, and the laugh had diminished to a hoarse chuckle. He would soon be gone, he wouldn’t fight, he would die and I would be left all alone. The healers had said there was a small chance of him surviving... but it was miniscule.
My body seemed to react to the loss, my legs collapsing beneath me. I was sure I would hit the floor, but I was caught. I felt familiar arms surround me as I blacked out.
The sheets were soft, but pulled so tightly across my chest that I could barely breathe. I stared stupidly around the room, but only saw rows and rows of other beds that seemed orange in the light from the street lamps outside. Someone was snoring.
The door opened and I fell back on the pillows and closed my eyes. It was someone in the lime green robes of a healer, and they walked purposefully towards the end of my bed. They picked up my file, and flicked through it before moving towards me. They pressed a hand to my forehead.
I opened my eyes, just a fraction. I didn’t want to talk to more people about what had happened... I didn’t want to wake up and find that Lorcan had died when I was asleep. But the man sitting beside me - he had brown hair, blue eyes, the same strong, handsome face. He was my Lorcan.
Relief flooded through me - he was back here, with me, alive and healthy! Lorcan was sitting on the edge of my bed, my hand clasped in his. He was here. My breathing sped up considerably, and I ripped the sheets away from me in an effort to be closer to him. I threw my arms around his chest, let my fingers travel through his soft hair. I kissed him briefly on the cheek before burying my face into his shoulder.
“You’re here,” I said. “You’re with me.”
“Where else would I be?”
I pulled away. There was something wrong. The accent was different... there was just a hint of lilt, something Irish. And as our faces were so close, I could spot the similarities and the differences - the new scars that littered his face, the stupidly sarcastic smirk that had plagued my childhood and days at Hogwarts. Just a case of mistaken identity... it had happened often enough.
“As you live and breathe.”
I didn’t speak... I couldn’t. I had thought that Lysander was Lorcan. I had hugged and kissed him like he was my Lorcan, given him the welcome that he wanted rather than the cold shoulder and sniping comments that I had practiced, should Lysander had ever returned.
But here he was. And we were both stranded in the middle of a hospital room, surrounded by the sleeping. His face was illuminated by a single strand of orange light that sliced through the window. His brown hair was ruffled and messy, and there were massive bags underneath his blue eyes. His clothes were ripped and torn beneath the healer’s coat he must have pinched from someone.
Lysander was the splitting image of his brother, but he was much more rundown and neglected than I remembered him. Lysander had been gone for a long time now and, though they looked the same, I had to remind myself how different they were.
“And the prodigal son returns! Did you miss me?”
I sank back into the pillows, trying to disguise the true answer to the question. Of course I had missed him - but that didn’t mean I wasn’t angry with him for disappearing. He had abandoned me, betrayed me, in a way. He had been my friend and he was meant to be there for me. And he had just left. It must have been so much worse for Lorcan.
“I came as soon as I heard,” he said, but he sounded too impassive. “I’m so sorry, Dom.”
“He’s your brother.”
“We weren’t close, you know that.”
“You hate him.”
“And he hated me, but I’m still here.”
And he kept talking about Lorcan in the past tense.
It was definitely strange, this whole situation. Lorcan was lying somewhere, being cut up and probed and sewn back together by the healers he saw and worked with everyday. My family and friends were elsewhere, lodged in that cold, drab waiting room, desperate for news. And I was in this room with Lysander and a headache that threatened to consume my whole body.
“Where have you been?”
“Everywhere. I was in Germany when I got the letter about Lorcan.”
“And what were you doing there?”
“Sightseeing, eating sauerkraut, you know the drill.”
I wanted to go back to sleep, or for someone else to wake up or walk through the door, just so I could escape from this strange whispered conversation with a man I no longer had anything in common with.
We had been friends at Hogwarts; it had been Lysander, Scorpius, Rose and I in a tight little group that sometimes allowed Lorcan to join its ranks, much to Lysander’s chagrin. We had always discussed daring trips in the Forbidden Forest while the others had begged for us to just return to the castle, to do our homework. In some ways, Lysander and I had been necessary counterbalances to Scorpius and Rose: the wild and crazy side to challenge the more conservative.
He had never really grown out of it, and so after years at working at some dead-end job, he had upped and left, deciding that travelling the world would be better than settling down. He had asked me to come with him, but I had refused.
“You could have come with me. Seen the world,” he continued.
“I had better things to do.”
“Of course,” he replied, laughing softly. “Did you ever tell him? About me asking you?”
I shook my head. Once or twice, I had imagined Lysander off gallivanting somewhere, when I was bored at home, or the Wireless was playing Celestina, or when Lorcan was berating his brother for leaving his job and going around the world... but it was different. I had pictured him in sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts and socks and sandals, taking pictures of famous landmarks. Not this - not a Lysander with scars and tired eyes.
Never, not even once, had I pictured myself at his side, or taking his photo outside some temple. Not until now, and the thought racked me with guilt.
“Ah well,” Lysander sighed. “It’s not like you can tell him now.”
I stared at him, rigid in my bed.
“Merlin Dom, you’re not as feisty as I remember.”
I opened my mouth to shout at him - but I wasn’t sure whether I was angry at him or not, or whether it was some guilt that had taken over me and made sure I found someone else to blame, because Merlin forbid I couldn’t be the cause of it.
Lysander could have been easily saying that I couldn’t tell Lorcan now - because he was in surgery and I was locked in this room with him. Lysander smiled again.
“You’re his brother,” I croaked.
“And you’re his girlfriend. Shouldn’t you be weeping by his bedside?”
Another retort perched on the tip of my tongue, then disappeared. I gawked at him, struggling to find the words - I had played the weeping girlfriend... hadn’t I? I had fainted, I had found his body and rushed him to the hospital, asked breathlessly for a glass of water?
I hadn’t cried yet, though. Due to the shock, of course.
“Just because I gave up on you doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same to him,” I said calmly.
Lysander turned quickly to face me. I knew my words had hurt him. However much I had missed him, the fact that I had hurt him gave me some sort of excruciating pleasure. He deserved to know how it felt. Silence spread between the both of us, and we could hear the breath of the other patients, sleeping peacefully in their beds. I waited for a witty response or the typical Lysander smirk. Nothing came. He just stared at me.
“You don’t know...”
But then the door opened, and another healer stood in the doorway. Lysander automatically stood up and reached for my file, and flicked through it aimlessly. He continued to gaze down at me, an amused smirk playing on his lips as he watched me. His cold blue eyes bored into mine, and for the second time in about ten seconds I was startled by the severity of his gaze. But this time, I knew I wouldn’t give in. I couldn’t.
I closed my eyes. I couldn’t shout at him, or hit him, or tell him to get out. The sleeping patients all around me, the healer at the door, made that impossible - and he knew it. I breathed slowly in and out... perhaps he would finally relent, and go see his brother, or his family.
“Excuse me?” The other healer was speaking. I heard Lysander put down the file and walk to the end of my bed.
“Is Dominique Weasley in this room?”
“I was just checking up on her. Is there something I should know?”
“Something about Lorcan Scamander? I don’t know, Healer Berridge was in a rush.”
“I’ll wake her now.”
The door closed and I was already sitting on the edge of my bed, my head spinning from the effort. I slipped my feet into my shoes - heels, stupidly, and I was still wearing the gown from the St. Mungo’s gala - and stood. Lysander just stayed at the end of my bed, idly tapping the file on the metal frame. The sound threatened to wake the patients up.
“You gave up on me?” His voice wasn’t smug, or pleased or amused. It was just quiet, and I heard the sorrow in it. He gave a dark and appraising look, a shaft of orange light cutting across his face - it was a look that predicted disappointment; it was a look that stayed with me.
And suddenly, all the pleasure and satisfaction I got from hurting him was gone, replaced with an overwhelming sense of pity that was there for a moment, before the strange mixture of stoicism and shock settled in again.
“I didn’t want you to come back,” I lied, “I didn’t need you.”
And I left him inside that room, in the dark, wearing the coat he had stolen and the scars he had somehow procured. A whole plague of memories - good and bad - had begun replaying in my mind and I struggled to control them. I cringed at my apparent aloofness, the coldness that had seemed to colour that encounter. I should have been nicer to him. I shouldn't have pretended to care less than I did.
But Lorcan was more important than him, and I couldn’t leave him.
I remembered the few times I brought up the idea of death with Lorcan. It had been a silly resentment, really – some stupid comment about funeral arrangements and who Victoire would fuss over if I died - but he bitterly hated any reference to the idea that we might be mortal, like any other person on earth. The very notion that death would one day take the both of us was distasteful to him, and that I had been able to make light of it seemed like an insult. And Lorcan could never abide an insult.
The corridors were blindingly bright and white, compared to the dark of the room where I had slept. People were still busy, bustling around me, but I didn't notice, because none of it really mattered. I could have been walking on another planet, surrounded by life forms I didn't recognize as sentient, for all the interest I showed.
I needed to be there. Whatever was going on, I needed to be there.
But, apparently... apparently I was too late, and he was gone.
The collection of friends and relatives were still in the waiting room, dotted around the room in various states of despair. Rose and Scorpius stood up to greet me as I entered - Rose still looking prim and proper, Scorpius steely-faced - and I tried, I really tried, to hear their words of encouragement, to feel the warmth that should have emanated from their hugs.
“It’ll be all right. We’ll help you through this, I promise.”
I settled my blank eyes on the both of them. I just wanted to be alone. I didn’t want any of them to be here. But here they were: family. Connected in some way, forever. I shook my head, mutely, unable to find the words. Rose seemed to realize her mistake in telling me these things. Another soft touch on my arm.
"Dom, it’s going to be - "
We might have well have been strangers.
I was cold, and tired, and pale. And I hadn’t cried yet.
It was hard to believe that I had been in the same building when it happened. I had stopped in the hospital’s reception to talk to an old friend from Hogwarts - they had commented on my dress, wished me luck, hoped I had a wonderful evening. I would have liked to have a premonition. At the very least, this event that erased Lorcan from the face of the earth could have been foreshadowed in some way. I could have been there with him. I could have stopped it.
Wordlessly, I slid down the wall, landing on the ground without thought of my expensive dress. I noticed Rose and Scorpius exchanging irritatingly private looks. They were worried about me, I realized with little emotion. They were wondering what I may do.
A shadow fell across me, and I heard the collective gasp of my family. They didn’t know he was back. Lysander’s face – not sentimental, but rallying, expecting more from me, not allowing me to either shy away from the truth, or bow down to it in acquiescence – appeared as he knelt down in front of me, our eyes meeting.
He opened his mouth to speak, and when he did, he no longer had his Irish accent. His hair was swept back off his face, his skin free of scars, his eyes bright and alive. I closed my eyes. I smiled as the first tears began rolling down my cheeks.
“It’ll be all right, Dom. It’ll all be fine.”
Hello! Bit of a rewrite because I'm lacking inspiration at the moment. Thanks for choosing this story - I hope you continue reading!
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