Chapter 2 : Dreams and Conciousness
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At first, she thought that he was sleeping. He looked so peaceful, lying there with his eyes closed. She could hear his ragged breathing. Hers stopped when she saw the extent of his injuries and the destruction before her. She dropped to his side, cradling his head in her lap. His face was ghostly white and it contrasted terribly with the dark red surrounding him. Tears came thick and fast and her shaking hands gingerly pushed his hair away from his forehead, and away from the deep wound above his right eye. She screamed for help, the blood seeping into her dress and her hands covered in the sticky, crimson liquid.
She checked for his pulse. It was still there, and although it was faint, it was there and she took a small comfort in that. She clasped desperately at his neck, thinking that if she didn’t feel the pulse, that it would go away forever and he would be lost. People entered and shouted orders but she didn’t hear them. She clung to his broken body and she would never let go.
“Do you know what happened?”
She felt her grip loosen.
“Do you know what happened?”
Her vision went black.
‘Do you know...”
The transition from unconsciousness to wakefulness came easily, without any resistance. I had never been visited by quite such a vivid dream. In some ways, it seemed more real than the sight that met me now – my room, dark and gloomy. But the details were already drifting away, and soon I wouldn’t be able to recall all of it, instead making up faces and places - eventually I wouldn’t remember any of it, and it would become a complete fabrication of the real thing.
I got up, and switched the wireless on. Again, the strange numbness was still unyielding - but this time it was obscured by the lingering mournfulness of the dream. I couldn’t back to sleep - instead I sat there for hours, the black sky turning from purple to red and then to orange. For the first time in years, I watched the sun rise.
I tore my eyes away from the window and looked across the dark room. His things were still scattered across the floor, across the desk, and they were taunting me. I wanted to throw it all away, to remove all memory of him from my mind, so that the grief wasn’t so impenetrable. But I couldn’t. Instead I rose shakily from my bed, and walked towards the dresser. Handling his letters delicately, I ran my fingers over the neat writing. Lorcan’s Quidditch jumper hung on the back of the chair, and I picked it up, running my thumb over the soft fabric. I slipped it on over my pyjamas and his smell engulfed me, comforting me.
The vague line between consciousness and sleep was blurred, and the memory plays tricks on a tired, exhausted brain. I found myself trying to remember moments from when he was alive, or when Lorcan and I first met, or lessons at Hogwarts. My waking mind did not remember the substance of them, only the vague sense of loss that accompanies random flashes of a lost memory, but asleep, I revelled in them. I could remember every detail. It was as if real life and dreaming had become inverted.
But, the images stayed with me - they haunted me and I wondered if I was being punished. If it was punishment, it was the most exquisite form of cruelty; the scenes are too breathtakingly beautiful and alien to be real. I closed my eyes, and found myself with him.
Another sensation awakened with me: pain. My head was throbbing - the pain radiated from the top of my temple, right down to my neck and shoulders. There was still a hint of grey about the corners of my vision; my eyes were still half closed - as they are when you are jerked from the depths of unconsciousness by the opening and shutting of a door.
“And she hasn’t woken up yet?”
Someone was perching on the edge of my bed, pressing a cool hand to my forehead. They obviously thought I was still asleep, and I so pressed my eyes shut again. It was Victoire - her light, twinkling tones were unmistakable - and I could imagine her, dressed up and exquisite, leaning over my bed. Her face would be a perfect picture of sympathy.
“Has she eaten?” And Maman was here as well. She would be standing by the door, clutching her handbag, while her elder daughter fretted and fussed around me. No doubt several dishes of bouillabaisse and tartiflette would appear magically in my refrigerator and the flat would be clean and sparkling by the time I got up.
And there he was - that Irish voice that I kept imagining at Lorcan’s. I briefly remembered last night: the hospital, the Aurors, Lysander. He had carried me up the stairs. He had looked after me.
“Did you see the article? About Lorcan?”
“It was nice, I suppose.”
“Are you sure you’re all right about staying here? I did offer, but I…”
I was already falling back to sleep. I could smell Victoire’s perfume and Maman was muttering in French.
“We’ll come back tomorrow, then.”
“I’ll be gone by then.”
Gold and glittering lights, that’s all I could remember of the dream I was having before consciousness rudely stole me from it. There was a lot of people… some sort of party, or a wedding perhaps, and they were smiling and dancing and laughing. The air was filled with it.
The room I was in now hardly compared to it.
Lysander Scamander was sitting in the armchair opposite me, holding two mugs of tea. His stubble, the terrible bags under his eyes and the scars on his face seemed more pronounced in the cold daylight. I saw him take in my appearance, his eyes lingering on the Quidditch jumper.
Lysander had been tottering around the kitchen when I had finally emerged from my room, and he had been looking far too domesticated. He had put some biscuits on a plate. He had swept the counters down and raised his wand to wash the dishes. He had been rambling stupidly while he worked. He had even laughed at his own jokes.
But Lysander had never been good at making tea, but always did it. He never let the kettle boil for long enough - he was too impatient.
I took one sip and choked.
“My port key is tomorrow morning - one day is plenty of time to see your brother die and say hello to your parents. Molly’s told me at least twice that I’ve grown so that should just about do it.”
I didn’t say anything in reply. I couldn’t look at him, and just stared into the murky greyness of my tea.
I had been wearing some glorious long gown, in the dream, one that swept the floor when I danced. And he had been in his most glorious dress robes and we had been a vision.
“Your family didn’t want you to be alone, so I stayed here for the night. Scorpius had his dad over and Rose has shacked up with Noah, so I couldn’t go anywhere else.”
I struggled to remember it anymore - but hopefully, if all went well, I can revisit it later, in my sleep. I wanted to see him again, be with him again. Nobody here would remember him just like I would.
I ran my fingers around the edge of the chipped mug. I was at a loss – watching Lysander totter around the room and trying to will the tears from my eyes, just so I would have some outward token of my heartbreak.
“I wouldn’t have been able to stay here if he was alive though, obviously.”
It was like Lysander hadn’t comprehended the enormity of the situation. Lysander’s brother had died. Lorcan had died. His parents were grieving, and so he should be grieving. I supposed Lysander kept thinking that this was all just some horrible occurrence that didn’t really affect him, and everything would be all right in the end.
Maybe it was just his bizarre way of coping with it.
“And because you - and I quote – ‘love me like a brother',” he said smugly.
And then the last remnants of the dream were swept away, and I was suddenly swamped by the same feeling I had when Lysander visited me in the hospital bed: I no longer had anything in common with the man I shared so much of my childhood with. We had grown apart - not because of fights or disagreements - but because I simply didn’t know him anymore. I wasn’t sure whether I liked him.
And when I had said I had ‘loved him like a brother’, I could not remember.
So it was strange that he kept finding excuses to look after me, when I could barely recognise the boy from Hogwarts.
I had supposed that Lysander would feel the same way about me - that there was nothing to salvage from a relationship that had been born out of a mutual loathing of homework and Professor Mirkwood and closeness that was long gone after years of travelling and no correspondence.
And I was angry with him for that.
I had stayed close friends with Rose and Scorpius, so I guessed I blamed our estrangement on Lysander. It had everything to do with him disappearing off for two years, without word, waiting and waiting for him to write to us, and for him to come home.
And yesterday, I had told him I didn’t need him. I had told him that I hadn’t wanted him to come home. He just sat opposite me like I hadn’t said those things and Lorcan hadn’t died. I kept staring at him, willing him to say something that was vaguely appropriate.
“Why are you being so nice to me?”
“Do you want some dinner?” He said, easily avoiding the question as he had always done when he didn’t want to talk about something. He avoided eye contact, spoke loudly and authoritatively to show he was in command.
“Your mother brought some food this afternoon. You were…”
He smiled again. Silence fell almost instantly - an awkward pause that seemed unending but spoke volumes about our new relationship. He knew I wanted to speak to him, but wouldn’t let me. He just kept smiling.
“I just want to know why…”
“You need to eat something, Dom,” Lysander said. He stood up at made his way over to the kitchen, busying himself with pots and pans so the noise was loud enough to block my attempts at conversation. “You’ll feel better.”
“I feel fine.”
“But it’s your favourite!” He added, his voice bursting with enthusiasm that obviously wasn’t genuine. “Your mother made it.”
“Can we not just talk?”
A pause. Lysander took a sip of tea, and grimaced.
“I’m sorry,” he said. Lysander kept his head low; staring into the sink like it would somehow help him through this. His tone was too aggressive, like the apology was just something that automatically came out of his mouth in response to something he wasn’t prepared for. He was headstrong, proud (annoyingly so) and sarcastic, inappropriate at the wrong moments. Apologising went against his nature, and so I reveled in it even if it felt forced.
“Lorcan. Disappearing. You know,” he said. I shifted on the sofa, pulling a blanket up across my knees. The cup of tea was left neglected on the coffee table.
“No one knew where you were,” I said, as calmly as possible. “Not even your parents.”
“They encourage me to be independent.”
“You didn’t tell me.”
“Ah,” he exclaimed jovially, and the act of sincerity fell away with it. “You’re definitely not trustworthy. Word could have easily got to Lorcan and then my parents and then probably Rose and she would have flown to Peru herself to pick me up and drop me back down here and not hear another word about it.” He laughed. The happy sound seemed to echo around the room.
“I can’t believe you deemed me a liability,” I said.
“Oh please, Lorcan would have found out somehow even if you didn’t tell him. He was too bloody clever for his own good.”
I gave a sharp intake of breath. “That could be misconstrued as a compliment.”
“I was probably saying it wrong.”
He had always acted like this. At Hogwarts, the very mention of his brother would make him cold and distant, not engaging until the conversation returned to something in which he could take control and dominate, something where he had an opinion that people would listen to.
When Rose berated him for the state of their relationship - she, of all people, knew the importance of family - they would argue and argue. Scorpius and I would retreat into the background, coupled together by our mutual apathy, and watch as the two most headstrong people we knew battled it out. Merlin knows what would happen if he mentioned house elves.
Apparently, Lysander enjoyed the challenge.
“Why do you hate him so much?”
“‘Did’, Dom. Past tense. He’s dead now.”
I paled. Tears threatened to spill down my cheeks, but I refused to cry in front of Lysander. He would start to pity me then and I wouldn’t be able to stand that. I was scared of him, for him - why didn’t he understand that this was hard for me? Why didn’t he empathise? Why wasn’t he with his parents, helping them struggle through this? They needed him more than I did. I didn’t need him at all.
That was what I had said to him yesterday, and there had been a hint of doubt then - but now, it was different. He was different. He wasn’t the same person who left me all those years ago.
Perhaps travelling, or whatever he had actually been doing, had killed some soul within him. Something had happened. The way he spoke, the way he argued - it was harsher, without the smile that usually accompanied the sarcastic comments or the wink to show he was just joking. Perhaps he had simply forgotten about us, or forgotten how to care.
“I’m sorry,” he said again. This time was more sincere.
“So you’ve said.”
“I am! That was… that was uncalled for.”
“Never usually stopped you before.”
Lysander sighed, and moved forward, away from the sink. He made some attempt to pat me on shoulder, to comfort me, but obviously he thought better of it. He returned to his seat opposite me. His face was grave.
“You don’t want to try and understand my relationship I had with my brother,” he said, and his tone was low and threatening.
“Well then you explain it to me.”
“No.” He turned away then. “I’ll have some food if you’re not having any.”
And there it was - the coldness and the distance that had coloured every conversation about his brother. I was no Rose; I couldn’t deal with him like this, I didn’t have the courage to argue with him. I didn’t know what to say.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” I repeated. “Why are you here?”
“I told you.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“All right, fine. You got me. I’m taking advantage of your vulnerability and your lack of Lorcan in order to pursue you romantically. I want you to see that I am capable of looking after you. I came home from Germany especially for this purpose. I want you.”
He smiled. “Of course I am.”
But I almost didn’t hear him for suddenly my mind was racked with a whole barrage of images: Lysander, kissing me under the mistletoe, making me dinner, or holding my hand. I was traipsing through jungle undergrowth, not waltzing in some fancy ballroom - the world, vast and terrifying and exciting, with a hint of violence. Blood pounding, sweat, wide eyes and adrenaline.
Not polite smiles, no small talk, and nothing controlling of every second of my life.
I shook my head disbelievingly, and the intractable thoughts were knocked out of my mind. They were two completely different things - I couldn’t compare them. I couldn’t simply swap the surroundings and for it to be a completely different situation. Life with Lysander - his unpredictability - would have been complex and strenuous. Life with Lysander now was hard enough.
And I had loved Lorcan.
I saw Lysander’s smirk and knew that it could never be true. These corybantic thoughts just made his quiet confidence even more unbearable, and they raced out of my mind as exhaustion and tiredness settled in.
“Don’t worry, Dom,” Lysander said, from by the sink. “I’m only here to look after you. I wouldn’t try to do anything, like that… you know. You disgusted me enough at school, but now you’re acting the grieving widow...”
He shook his head and made a face to show his repulsion. Strangely, it made me feel more comfortable around him than when he had been sincere. I almost smiled as the room returned to a more comfortable silence than before - there was no way I was going to get anything out of him now. Whatever had happened between him and Lorcan was over, and I didn’t have the energy to find out what it was.
I needed to sleep, but Lysander continued to ramble. I closed my eyes, trying desperately to recall the gold glittering and the ballroom and the candles, and Lorcan’s face so close to mine, his breath on my cheek.
“There was this fog there, right,” Lysander continued, mumbling through biscuit, “in Peru. It just made you fall asleep, right at the top of this mountain, and there was just a huge pile of people sleeping. Weird. I thought that had happened to you today.”
“I was tired,” I replied. He was just making conversation now, looking out of the window at the darkening sky. He didn’t want to apologise anymore, he didn’t want to talk about his brother and what it all meant.
“And seeing as you’ve been up for a grand total of four hours, would you like to go back to bed?”
My legs were weak as I walked across the living room towards the bedroom door. I opened it, then turned to say goodnight. He nodded in reply.
I watched the sun rise again, and listened to the birds.
He was gone by the time I had got up, left without a note, without anything.
Lysander had stayed because I had been the best of a bad lot - the easy way out. I had been too distracted by Lorcan’s death to pester him constantly about travelling, or berate him about his cavalier attitude. He needed a place to stay and there I was.
Not because he was sorry, not because he cared.
The dream ended with us dancing to someone playing the violin and Lorcan kissing me. It was a memory, not a dream; at least I thought it was. The complex mystery of those things that were conscious memory and those things that nestled somewhere in my unconscious was not something that should be fathomed so early in the morning, when the sun was rising and the birds were singing.
I needed sleep.
Again, the rewrite is taking place. Sufficiently less angst and cliches, I reckon - but you never know. At Dom's early stages of her loss, I'm going for a more surreal take (whereas in earlier drafts she was a bit WOE ;A; and there was lots of crying). And, obviously, I'm aiming at putting her through the five stages of grief, because she's my character and I can do that to her. Ha.
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