I was in shock. We had sat there for hours, in a cold and drab waiting room, watching healers go in and out with various potions and machines. We were expecting for something to happen, for someone to tell us it will all be all right. None of us dared to think of what would happen if it wasn’t.
Nobody spoke. I asked if anyone wanted coffee and they mumbled in refusal, so I left. The coffee was cold and disgusting, but I drank it anyway. I was starving, but I was too nervous to eat anything and everyone was too worried to even speak to each other. I wandered the empty corridors aimlessly, desperate for something, or someone, to distract me from what was actually happening.
Lorcan was in hospital. I remembered finding him, shattered and twisted and bleeding profusely, his breathing ragged. The open window. The broken furniture. The Aurors came just after he was taken to hospital, and I endured several minutes of uninterrupted, pressurised questioning. Being stared at by a sweaty, middle-aged man in the middle of the night is never a nice thing, even if he may catch your boyfriend’s attacker.
I shuddered as I entered the large entrance hall, looking at all the paintings of famous healers snoozing in their frames. He was going to be one of them; his portrait should have been hanging here. His wide blue eyes and brown hair, that were so much like his twin brother’s, should have been painted. I sat, dejected, on the rickety wooden seats that lined the hall, my eyes closed and my head in my hands. Visions of Lorcan’s broken body flashed through my mind. His office, usually so light and comfortable, had been dark and dingy, his wrecked possessions and lots of splintered wood littering the floor. And the blood. I opened my eyes to avoid reliving that.
The entrance hall was almost empty. 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. The tears began falling from my eyes as I watched their reactions and I couldn’t help feeling that the family will be us in an hour. The healers said he had a very small chance, but he might fight through. He had fought for everything else - his job, our house, me. Why shouldn’t he fight for his life?
I needed fresh air. My face was hot from the tears that were still streaming down my cheeks. I walked hurriedly through the hall, towards the main doors and the cold winter wind whipping my hair around my face. I inhaled deeply and wrapped Albus’ jacket tighter around me. The few people on the street glanced at me strangely. And I suppose I did look strange, standing in a gloomy alleyway, wearing a floor-length evening gown that was covered in blood. Lorcan’s blood. I was tired, but I dared not close my eyes, as every time I did, that terrible scene flashed before my eyes.
He was going to take me to a ball, a sponsor event for St. Mungo’s, to celebrate our four-year anniversary. Lorcan had matured from his days at Hogwarts, and had finally realised that the Crumple Horned Snorkack didn’t really exist. While I was stuck in a dead-end job in the Auror office, shifting and filing paperwork, he entered the healer-training programme, and had slowly climbed up the ranks. We had shared a flat in Diagon Alley, and I was in love with him. I am still in love with him.
I turned around quickly, and for one glorious moment I thought it was Lorcan walking towards me down the dismal alleyway. My smile faded as I realised whom it was. The last person I’d ever expect to be here. The last person I’d ever want to be here.
“Lysander.” My contemptuous voice echoed around us. The street was empty by now, as it was approaching midnight. No Muggle ever used the redbrick department store anyway.
“Merlin, don’t all hug me at once,” he said sarcastically and chuckled softly. I scowled. I didn’t want to hug him. Lorcan wouldn’t have. “Did you miss me?”
I snorted disapprovingly, 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 was very impassive for someone whose twin brother had just been attacked. That made me very angry, although it was common knowledge to everyone that Lorcan and Lysander did not get along. Both were exceptional students at Hogwarts but Lorcan had breezed through his exams with very little effort, whereas Lysander had to really work for it. After his brother started his healer training, Lysander went travelling. People said he disappeared because he was spiteful and jealous of Lorcan, who managed to get his own way with everything. The job, the grades, the girl - and Lysander had nothing.
I was a good friend to both of them at Hogwarts, and the girls there said that Lysander had always had a thing for me, but I had disregarded these ramblings as schoolgirl gossip. I was never sure of my true feelings for him, and as he never seemed to reveal his apparent affection for me, I let them (whatever ‘they’ were) slide. After graduation, he asked whether I wanted to come travelling with him. This, I had supposed, was merely a gesture of our friendship but as I had just begun dating Lorcan, I refused him politely. He had been stuck in a dead end job for a couple of years, then he disappeared to travel the world and now here he was.
His brown hair was ruffled and messy, and there were massive bags underneath his blue eyes. His clothes were ripped and torn and his long, black travelling cloak was patched and dirty. Lysander was the splitting image of his brother, but he was much more rugged than I remembered him. He was different.
“Where have you been?” I croaked, still surprised by his return.
“Everywhere. I was in Germany when I got the letter about Lorcan.” His voice was still slightly clipped with the Irish accent from his childhood, where as Lorcan had lost his from living and working in London. It was somewhat endearing. Lysander had been gone for a long time now and though they looked the same, I had to remind myself how different they were.
“I’ll show you where his bed is,” I said, deadpan, turning towards the mannequin to re-enter the hospital.
“Wait a minute,” Lysander grabbed my arm forcefully, “how are you?”
I looked up at him incredulously, trying to release myself from his vice-like grip. I scoffed at him.
“My boyfriend is lying in there, bleeding to death. How the hell do you think I am?”
We stood staring at each other in the alleyway. We’d be a strange sight, if any Muggle walked passed us. Me, standing in a blood soaked ball gown and a leather jacket, in an awkward embrace with a man in a cloak who looked as if he’d been dragged backwards through a hedge. He gazed down at me, an amused smirk playing on his lips as he watched me squirm. The intensity of his gaze was very overwhelming; it wasn’t soft like Lorcan’s, and I felt myself stand still as looked into his eyes. I had given up.
“I see you're as feisty as ever, Dom,” he said, smiling and let go of my arm.
“Really? I though you wouldn’t remember. You seemed to forget everything else, you know, your friends and family while you were off gallivanting,” I said spitefully, turning away from him. It was true, he hadn’t written or anything in his two years abroad. I heard him snigger behind me as I walked back towards the entrance. Yet again, Lysander managed to stop me, placing his hands on both of my shoulders.
“And did you tell Lorcan that I asked you to come with me? Or did you forget something as well?” He added insolently with a wink, and I gawked at him. Lysander Scamander had always known how to wind me up. I open my mouth but no witty remark came out; instead I just stood gaping at him. I was speechless because I knew it was true. Every time I had listened to Lorcan go on and on about how stupid his brother was for disappearing off to some distant land, I had reflected on what it would be like to be travelling the world with him. I love Lorcan, of course, but that didn’t mean I could stop thinking about what it would be like if I was with Lysander.
Now, the thought racks me with guilt. I dare not think about it anymore.
“Ah well,” Lysander continued, sighing melodramatically and lifting his hands off my shoulders after noticing my reaction, “it’s not like you can tell him now.”
My head shot up to look at him, my anger at Lorcan’s twin filling up inside me. I was literally shaking. I walked right up to him and slapped him round the face.
“You’re his brother!”
“You’re his girlfriend!” He retorted, while nursing his cheek, which was reddening. He looked down at me. This was a considerable feat as I had inherited my father’s tall frame and I was wearing heels.
“Shouldn’t you be in there weeping at his bedside or something, like the good trophy girlfriend you are?”
I slapped him again.
“Bloody hell! I’d forgotten how violent you were!” He shouted, now cowering as I repeatedly hit him on the head and arms.
“And I’d forgotten. How. Incorrigible. You. Are!” I said in between slaps, absolutely infuriated, “just because I gave up on you doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same to him!”
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. He lowered his arms from around his head, and straightened up. Silence spread between the both of us, and we could hear the wind whisper. I stood breathless, in front of him, waiting for a witty response or the typical Lysander smirk. Nothing came. He just stared at me. His cold blue eyes bored into mine, and for the second time in about ten minutes I was startled by the severity of his gaze. But this time, I knew I wouldn’t give in. I couldn’t.
“My boyfriend needs me,” I said quietly, and my words were almost lost in the wind. I walked towards the entrance, and I felt Lysander’s eyes on my retreating back. I had just reached the mannequin when I heard him whisper.
“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. And suddenly, all the pleasure and satisfaction I got from hurting him was gone, replaced with an overwhelming sense of pity. Fantasies of Lysander and me together flashed through my mind. What could have been. My vision blurred with tears, which threatened to fall from my eyes. I refused to let him see how much his words had affected me. I refused myself to want him to wrap me up in his strong arms and comfort me. Like he had done in the olden days. My breath caught in my throat.
“I didn’t want you to come back,” I lied, “I didn’t need you.”
And I left him outside in the cold. I blinked as I walked across the entrance hall, the brightly lit room such a contrast to the shadowy street outside. My heels echoed as I navigated myself back to the waiting room where everyone was sitting. I was too late. Lorcan had lost.
Scorpius had his arms wrapped around Rose, who was crying quietly in the corner. Luna and Rolf were showing great stoicism as Grandma fretted around them. Uncle Harry was in shock and tears were streaming down Aunt Ginny’s face. They all looked up at me and suddenly I was finding it hard to breathe.
“I’m so sorry, Dom,” Albus said softly, standing up as I entered the room.
“No...no, Albus,” I said, a hysterical giggle escaping my lips and denial floating around my mind, “tell me the truth.” 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. Albus looked around at my surrounding family, and I saw the pain in his face. His green eyes, usually so bright and full of energy were dead and dark. I would have known if he was lying to me. And unfortunately, he wasn’t.
It felt like my throat had closed, and tears were coursing down my cheeks. He was gone, and 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 strong, familiar arms surround me as I blacked out.