Chapter 9 : It Only Lasts So Long...
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Her tired eyes gazed up at me and I could tell she was uncertain if I was really here or not. My fingers held her hand tightly, trying to reassure her I was here in the flesh. I didn't know what else I could do. She coughed before hoarsely speaking again, “I'm sorry.”
“You don't have to be sorry for anything. I'm the one who should be sorry. I should've said something early on.” I shook my head in disbelief that she was apologizing for something that wasn't her fault.
My mother shook her head, squeezing my hand but saying not another word. Once her eyes closed, I felt my heart stop. A hand touched my shoulder. I silently turned to see Lacey standing beside me. She softly said, “She's had a rough day, honey. Why don't you go home and get some rest? She won't wake for awhile.”
“Why did she drift off again?” I asked quietly.
“The stroke seems to have reversed everything. Her memories are coming back which is good but it is a lot to take in. She's exhausted and needs her rest.” Lacey answered softly.
I nodded before turning back to look at my mother, asleep on the bed. She looked so frail and pale against the clean white sheets. I took a breath before leaning over and kissing her cheek. “I love you.”
She stirred from the sound of my voice but did not wake. I stood and stared at her for a moment, afraid that in the blink of an eye, she would be gone. My fingers reluctantly let hers go and I turned to see Louis. He kissed my forehead, taking my hand and steering me towards the door. My feet were hesitant to move, but somehow I managed to get outside. Louis softly asked me as we walked down the street, “Are you okay?”
I nodded. “Yeah, I'll be fine. Thank you for coming with me.”
He squeezed my hand. “It's not a problem.”
We reached the Leaky Cauldron then we stopped walking. Louis mentioned, “You don't have to stay with me. I just don't want you to do anything irrational.”
I bit my lip, recalling the moments in the bathroom where I'd almost destroyed the mirror. I shook the thought away. “I really don't care to be alone right now.”
Louis stated, tucking a strand of loose hair behind my ear, “You may want to let Hannah know about what's going on.”
Godric. I'd completely forgotten about Hannah along with work! I instantly pulled Louis inside the warm building. The familiar smells of warm butterbeer and firewhiskey filled my nose as I took a deep breath of the sweet aroma only to be bombarded by Hannah. She hugged me, “Oh honey! What happened?”
Was it that obvious on my face? I hugged her back. “It's my mother, she's not doing so well...she's had a stroke..”
Hannah gasped and looked at me, “Oh Stephanie, is she okay?”
I explained the situation to her and she patted my shoulder sympathetically. “I understand. Now if you need time off work then by all means-”
“No, I'm still going to be coming to work as usual.” I protested.
Hannah sighed in defeat. “Fine.”
Louis stood there, hands in his pockets, looking around. He looked at Hannah, “Don't worry, I'll make sure she doesn't exhaust herself.”
Hannah looked at him with concern. “Make sure of it.”
Then she turned to look at me, her aged face holding a look of uneasiness. “Honey, are you sure you'll be alright? I worry for you.”
I nodded, taking her hands in mine. “Please don't worry about me. I'll be fine, I promise.”
Yet deep inside my heart, I knew I was saying those words more for my own benefit. I was trying to convince myself that I would be fine, when in reality I wasn't quite sure. Hannah could see the doubt in my eyes but she did not say another word. Louis touched my shoulder, “I need to discuss something with Hannah. Why don't you go back to the apartment?”
My eyes looked into his, wondering what he was up to. He kissed my softly before muttering, “It'll only take a couple minutes.”
I sighed, reluctantly heading towards the door. Before I walked out, I turned to say, “I will find out sooner or later.”
He grinned, motioning for me to go. I made a face at him then opened the door, letting the cold air waft in. My feet slid against the icy pavement as I walked out. The door clanged shut behind me but before I walked onward, I quietly peeked in the frosty window. Hannah was standing there, listening to Louis say something. My warm breath hit the frost upon the cold glass, slowly melting away the ice in one spot. I leaned in closer, trying to make out what they were chatting about. I frowned, unable to hear them. I could see Hannah sighing, shaking her head at Louis who looked frustrated. What was going on that I couldn't know about?
I gave up on spying and started walking down the street. My hands rubbed together, missing the warmth of his fingers in mine. Something inside of me felt empty without him near me. Every time I took another step forward, I felt some force trying to pull me back to the Leaky Cauldron where he was. A small snowflake fell onto my cheek, only to melt then roll down like a sad little drizzle of syrup. I tilted my face upward to the clouds, letting the flakes fall onto my face. I closed my eyes, letting out a breath.
Memories flashed in my mind like a never ending movie. I could see flashes of my mother crying, my younger self in school trying to keep out of anyone's way or back to when I first had met Louis. He had swept me off my feet right from the start but that was not all he had done for me. He took the pieces of my heart and put them together again.
Suddenly, I shivered as a warm breath blew in my ear. The sweet familiar smell of candy canes filled my nose. I smiled, opening my eyes and feeling his fingers on my waist. He softly asked, “What are you doing?”
“Thinking.” I slowly spun to face him.
His blue eyes met mine yet they did not sparkle like normal. I could sense something was wrong. I asked, trying to hide my worry, “Are you okay?”
He let out a sigh, saying quietly, “Yeah.”
I didn't believe him. He wasn't telling me something. I looked deeper into his eyes, trying to find what he wasn't telling me. I was no mind reader but I knew he was not telling me the truth. “What were you talking to Hannah about?”
“Can we discuss it later?” Louis inquired.
I shrugged, hoping he'd tell me later. “Sure.”
He took my hand and we walked to his apartment. The frustration was building on his face as we entered his apartment. I wanted so desperately to know what was going on. What could have happened during the talk he had had with Hannah? Had they quarreled over something? Was it about a family member?
I took off my boots and coat before heading into the kitchen to make some lunch. My stomach growled as I searched his cupboards for something to eat. I found a container of soup in the fridge. I opened it, poured it into a pot on the stove and waited for it to heat up. I leaned back on the countertop, biting my lip. Louis was in the living room, lying on the couch. I was worried about him. He wasn't acting like himself now. What had happened?
After the soup was ready, I poured it into bowls, grabbed two spoons and I walked into the living room. I set the bowls of soup on the coffee table before looking at him. “What's wrong?”
He looked at me. “Nothing.”
Yeah, right. I was not stupid, and I knew something was wrong. I sighed, sitting on the edge of the couch. “Louis, please be honest with me. I was honest with you and I trust you. You can trust me.”
My fingers touched his and he sat up, looking at our intertwined hands. “Remember how I told you I was in France for a year or so?”
I nodded, biting my lip as he continued quietly, “I wasn't there just for photography. I was there to see a specialist.”
A specialist? Like a doctor? My heart instantly dropped to the floor. My whole body froze as I tried to comprehend what he was going to say next. His blue eyes averted to the floor as he hesitated on what to say next. I could feel my mind beginning to have flash backs of when my mother had been hospitalized. I felt sick at the thought of having to go through it all over again with him.
He bit his lip before looking at me. “There's a reason as to why I don't do magic as quick as any other regular wizard or witch would.”
My body felt ready to jump out of my skin as I looked at him. I wasn't ready for whatever he had to say next. I wasn't sure how much more I could take. Louis sighed, “I didn't know about it until two years ago. I started feeling sick, having colds more often and my mother practically dragged me to St. Mungo's to be looked over. They couldn't figure it out so they told me to go to a more educated healers in France. I had a bunch of tests done on my heart and even my blood. After months of waiting, they found out what was wrong that is affecting my magic, among other things.”
My fingers numbly slipped out of his, as I stood, backing away from him slightly. I was scared. He could sense how scared he was making me. “Stephanie, I wanted to tell you but they didn't finish scheduling it until yesterday. I wasn't sure what was going to happen and I didn't want to worry you more than what you were already.”
I closed my eyes, taking deep breaths. He wasn't lying. I quietly asked, “What were they scheduling?”
“Some kind of surgery on my heart.” He answered.
I swallowed, trying to take it all in. Slowly, I leaned back on the wall and slid to sit on the carpet. I felt his fingers on my cheek. I opened my eyes, seeing him gazing intently at me. Louis added, “I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier. I should have.”
My fingers touched his cheek, running down his smooth skin. I softly spoke, “It's okay, I understand. Is it serious?”
He sat down next to me and put his arm around me. “I'm not really sure. The healers in France said the surgery is rather easy and I'll be fine through that. It's the recovery they are concerned about. I have to be careful not to over work myself.”
I touched his knee, leaning on him. My arms wrapped around him as he kissed my forehead. “I'm not going anywhere.”
I snuggled closer to him. “I'm scared you will.”
“I promise, I'm going to be fine, Stephanie.” He stated.
I asked quietly, “What were you arguing with Hannah about?”
“I told her about the surgery. She was angry with me for not telling you sooner,” Louis shrugged.
My stomach growled and he looked down at me. I managed a smile. “I'm hungry, sorry.”
“It's okay. You need to eat since you missed breakfast and threw up earlier,” he stated, standing up and pulling me up with him.
I smiled, “You don't need to worry about me. It's me who should be worrying about you.”
He grinned, “There's no reason to worry about me.”
“Mhm.” I kissed him and charmed the soup on the table to reheat. I sat on the couch and Louis did the same. I curled up to him, resting my head on his heart. I knew he would be okay. He had to be, just like I had to be okay.
We ate then curled up on the couch, talking. I asked, “When is it?”
“In a couple weeks.” He stated.
I nodded and he asked me, “Are you okay? Today has been a lot to deal with-”
I reassured, “I'm fine.”
He kissed me and I closed my eyes.....if only we could stay like this forever. I wanted nothing to change. I wanted to stay like this, with him and be in a place where nothing could touch us. And maybe my mother would finally be able to meet him....
a/n: okay i'm a horrid updater, I know...and i'm sorry. I had some health issues with kidney problems going on so I had very little time to write in the first couple weeks of April as I was in and out of the doctor office/hospital....and then school got insane cuz I missed days...etc.
but I will never abandon this story, I swear. It's too good to stop! and about the little plot twister with Louis...well i won't say anything more just yet.
thanks for everyone's reviews/support! you guys are awesome! <3
and thanks to my beta (civilized)! she's so wonderful!!!
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