Chapter 1 : Fantasy or Reality?
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A big thank you to Lia (lia_2390) for encouraging me with writing this.
Lily Potter II - Karen Gillan
Lysander Scamander - Liam Hemsworth
(chapter image by amoretti. @ tda)
Snow covers the ground, and I hardly remember the time flying by so quickly. It is today that we decide to take the children to pick out a Christmas tree. Lysander has Liam, our young son, bundled in his arms he squirms excitedly. The two look so much alike it’s uncanny, both with their bright blue eyes and sandy blonde hair, and the same carefree attitude. Sophie dances circles around me as I try to tie her scarf around her. The children are excited just as much as we are; it is the first Christmas we are spending at home rather than with his parents or mine.
It takes a better part of an hour before we are finally on our way. The nursery where we plan to purchase the tree isn’t far from the house, a quick walk for two adults, but with the children it might take us far longer.
Sophie runs off almost immediately prompting Liam to wail. It’s not unusual for him to follow after his sister. He reminds me of Albus tagging along with James all the time. I can already see how much he looks up to his sister, and I hope that they will always be this close.
We play in the snow as we go, making snow angels, having a snowball fight, everything that makes the children giggle and enjoy the day all the more. In no time we arrive at the nursery. Liam is in awe over how tall the trees are; Sophie demands the biggest tree they have with her hands on her hips. Lysander laughs, and his laughter is contagious.
“She reminds me of you,” he says pulling me to him.
His lips are soft and cold against mine, but it matters little. I want nothing more than to fall into the kiss and forget everything around me, but Liam tugs at the hem of my trousers and reminds me why we’re there.
“Keep that thought for after they are in bed,” I whisper and scoop Liam up in my arms. “Which one do you like?”
“That one!” he exclaims happily pointing to a wilting, dilapidated tree. “No! That one!” He changes his mind to the tree that Sophie is standing beside.
“I want this one, Daddy,” she says batting her long lashes at Lysander, “please?”
We’re here all of three minutes and already the children have their tree picked out. I almost protest to the idea of the first tree they see, but I can see that Lysander is already caving, and I know that that is the tree that we will place in our living room somehow.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that Lysander would do anything for his children. He is the one that stays home with them while I am playing Quidditch; he is the one that tucks them into bed when I am running late; he is the one that cooks them dinner and reads them their bed time story. He is the stay-at-home Mum, while I am the absent father figure too busy with work. Our roles are reversed, but it works for us.
Lysander pays for the tree, and we all watch as it is chopped down and placed on a sled that we can pull home. We don’t tell the clerk that we plan to use a charm on it to make it lighter and easier to drag.
We’re on our way home sooner than I thought, and it promises to be as much fun as the walk there. I promise a warm fire and biscuits when we return as Lysander stands the tree and makes it ready for decorations. Liam is asleep in my arms before we are halfway home, and Sophie sits on the tree when her legs become too tired to walk anymore.
The evening promises to be a quiet one.
I look over at Lysander who seems to be thinking the same thing. He takes my hand in his and kisses my cheek as we continue our walk. It is family outings like this one that always make me consider having another child. I can easily understand why it was that Grandma had so many children. I cannot imagine my life without the love of my husband and children.
Tiny beams of early morning sun flits across the floor like butterflies dancing to an unheard song. With a soft sigh, I roll onto my side and smile contently.
Everything was perfect. I had a wonderful husband, who I loved more than I could have ever imagined; two beautiful children that I adored; a wonderful home not far from my parents; there wasn’t anything I ever wanted or needed. I had it all; the perfect life.
And it is all a lie.
Everything is perfect when I close my eyes. There, in the moments between wakefulness and sleep, I can remember it. The way my loving husband dotes on me or the happy laughter of my children, but the truth is they don’t exist anywhere except in my mind. Or so the healers remind me on a daily basis.
They tell me that the fall has caused some bruising on my brain; that I have spent the better part of three years in a coma. If I was in a coma then why did everything feel so real? I can remember everything, from the warmth of my husband’s arms to the first time I heard my daughter cry. None of it makes sense to me. How could the life I remember be a lie?
As I lay in my bed at St. Mungo’s with Mum talking softly to the healer that I can barely hear; I want more than anything to close my eyes and drift back into the life I so desperately want. They think I’m crazy, I can hear it in the way Mum speaks in low tones, or the sideways glances she tries to hide. The healers want to blame everything on the coma, that no amount of magic is going to fix what has been done when I fell from my broomstick.
I know Mum curses my decision to join the Appleby Arrows straight out of Hogwarts; I know she blames Quidditch for my fall, that avoiding that bludger should have been far easier than it was. The truth of the matter is that none of it made any lick of difference. The damage is done. I am lucky that I wasn’t crippled by the fall. It’s hard on Mum seeing me laid up like this, but I know that when I’m better the only thing I want to do is get back on my broom and start flying again.
“How are you feeling?” the healer asks me, and, for the first time in days, I want more than anything to be able to tell him the truth.
“Restless,” I answer; it’s as close to the truth as I’m willing to go.
The truth is that when I’m asleep I feel more myself than I do when I’m awake. When I’m awake, I suffer through the day wondering when I’ll be allowed to go home or when I might be able to look at myself in the mirror and not think of what I am losing. I can see a difference in myself when I’m awake standing in front of the bathroom mirror. My eyes are empty, hollow and cold, nothing like how I remember them when I’m asleep. My red hair is limp and stringy, like it hasn’t seen conditioner in months. I look like a ghost in contrast to the tan I once sported.
I feel like part of me is missing. That somehow when I fell from my broomstick and woke up in my coma-world part of my soul split and now it is stuck in the endless cycle of a world that doesn’t exist. How I’m going to fix that is beyond me, but I know that the healers are not going to let me leave until I convince them that I’m perfectly normal.
“When can I go home?” I ask even though I know the answer.
“When you are healthy enough to,” he replies easily, before turning and leaving me alone with Mum.
She picks up the book she has left on the chair before she sits and watches me with the same careful expression she has had since I first opened my eyes. It kills me to see how guarded her eyes have become, like she’s afraid that if she pushes me too much I might crumble and break. I wasn’t some frail child. I might not have lived three years of my life, but I had in my dreams and I was every bit the same woman who had flown through the skies on her broom. I could have understood the fear and worry, anything but the absolute absence of either.
I watch her almost as carefully as she watches me. Her face betrays nothing, her lips are pursed in a happy smile but I can see the tiny lines that have formed in my absence. She is anything but happy. She fidgets with the book she has been reading for days. A small smile forms on my lips as I finally see the signs of worry within my mother. Oddly, I feel better knowing she’s worried.
“I’m alright, mum,” I whisper, a yawn coming too quickly to stifle.
“I know, dear,” she says and she sounds so much like Grandma.
“Then why don’t I believe you?”
Her eyebrow rises in a delicate arch to my question; she doesn’t like the tone in my voice, and I’m not sure I do either. It is so different than what I remember. There is curiosity and worry laced with disbelieving. I am lost, and we both know it. Finding myself is bothersome and tiring, but I know that I have the support of my family. Yet, as I lay there with only Mum for company, I cannot help but feel completely alone. They do not understand me anymore.
They think I am loony and perhaps I am. I dream of a world that has never existed, of a husband who does not love me in the real world, of children who are nothing more than figments of my imagination, of a perfect world that I miss more than anything and would give anything for it to be real.
For a moment I want to forget that I am lying in a hospital bed with the faintest recollection of truth. All I have to do is close my eyes, and I am no longer laying beside mum, I no longer have the white wash walls of my room to stare at. Instead I sit by the hearth in our small home with the smell of homemade biscuits filling the room. The children play happily at my feet as I read to them, and our kitten, Muffins, sleeps across my lap. This is where I wish to be. But as soon as I open my eyes, the hospital room returns, and tiny tears dot my eyes.
How does one distinguish fantasy from reality?
I wish the answer was simple. If I do not find the answer, I will never see home again. I will remain a patient with delusions of a world that does not exist.
Rather than listen to the flipping pages of Mum’s book, I roll onto my side, bury my face into my pillow and silently cry myself to sleep as I have every day since waking. I haven’t managed to stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. I wear out far too easily, but the healers suggest this is normal. How can this be normal when I am so very tired all the time? If I have been sleeping for three years, would it not be logical that I would be energized?