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Chapter 9 : chapter eight: iris
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"And I don't want the world to see me, Cause I don't think that they'd understand. When everything's made to be broken. I just want you to know who I am."
Iris- Goo Goo Dolls
I’m glad school is going so well. School is so important, and I’m glad you take it seriously.
I wish I could tell you this face to face, Lexie, but it can’t wait until Christmas. I got the test results back on Monday. The cancer has spread, Lexie. The treatment isn’t working. Doctor Robinson and I agreed that it would be better for me to stop the treatments and enjoy what time I have left. I’m so, so, so sorry to have to tell you this way, Lexie.
Know that just because I’m stopping treatment, doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. I love you so much it hurts sometimes, Lex. I’m just tired. We knew this moment would come, sweetheart.
I’m so sorry.
Breathing was next to impossible. The letter in my hands was way too much; with each word an icy poison of dread spread through my bloodstream, effectively blocking everything out.
I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t want to either. She was just going to give up and leave me here all alone. I wouldn’t let her. I abruptly stood from the Ravenclaw table and practically ran from the Great Hall.
Confidently, I walked in the direction of what I knew the headmaster’s office to be. How dare she write that to me in a letter? I always knew that deep down magic terrified her, but would it have been too much to ask for her to send a letter to the school requesting me to come home? It was a family emergency! I felt tears of anger and hurt sting my eyes. I closed them and prayed to Merlin I wouldn’t cry in a freaking hallway. That’s the last thing I needed.
“Oof,” I grunted as I felt the wind knocked out of me. Hello cold stone floor, we meet again, I thought to myself as I groaned in pain. Honestly was this going to be my thing now? Having bigger more muscular people slam into me on a daily basis?
I looked up to see who the new proverbial stone wall was. James Sirius Potter. Of course.
“I’m so-“ James began to apologise as he offered his hand to help me up. Again.
“Okay, as invisible as I may seem, I wasn’t wearing an invisibility cloak. For the sake of my health, could you please just watch where you’re going?” I said bitterly as I stood on my own, ignoring his proffered hand. He withdrew it as if he had been stung.
Once standing, I looked at him properly. He was in his Quidditch uniform, so I assumed he had just come from practice or was heading to practice. Hair matted to his forehead by sweat, and the large amount of mud confirmed that he had, in fact, just had Quidditch practice.
I rolled my eyes, bending over to collect my bag in which the contents had inadvertently been launched down the corridor. My right hand still clutched my mum’s letter.
“Lexie, what are you talking about? What’s wrong?” James asked. It only made me angrier that he was caring so much when my own mum wasn’t. I ignored his question.
“I get that your parents are probably the best parents out there and in being so raised you to have manners, but don’t you think it’d actually be better to be observant, instead of knocking unsuspecting students to the ground?” I said ignoring his concern.
“Excuse me?” James sputtered, obviously not used to being told off. Either that, or he was shocked by the fact that I was being rude. I knew I wasn’t actually angry at him, and I would feel terrible about this later but I couldn’t help it. Suddenly, the control I had over my life was gone and with it my emotional control.
It was an empowering feeling being angry at someone for no logical reason. Okay, so he did knock me to the ground. So what? It happens a lot to me and it’s not like he meant it. Where the hell was this anger coming from? Since when had I become so passive aggressive?
“Yes, excuse you! It’s common decency isn’t it? Why do I care so much, if no one bothers to care about me!” I snapped before collecting the last of my things and closing my bag.
“Lexie, I care. What’s going on? Why are you speaking to me-” James said before I cut him off.
“Oh I’m sorry, am I not allowed to speak to bloody James Potter, son of the wizarding world’s saviour that way? As a muggleborn, am I not entitled to speak to you or call you an ass?” My left hand twitched to cover my mouth in horror.
Whoa. Where the hell did that come from? Mouth, oi! Mouth! Listen to your brain. Dear God in heaven, help me. I just insulted Harry Potter’s son. Where are the Aurors to take me away to Azkaban? Bloody hell, bloody hell.
“What’s going on, Lexie? You’re not acting like yourself.”
He does have a valid question. I know I should answer, but I can’t.
Oh my God? Why is my vision blurring? Am I...am I crying? I am! I’m crying! What’s going on with me? Say something mouth, say anything!
“James who are you,” a girl asked who I identified as Rose Weasley said before locking eyes with me, “James, why is Lexie crying? Did you make her cry?”
I swiped my tears away frantically wishing against all hope that this was just a nightmare. Warm hands on my shoulders made me jump. I looked up (yes up) to see Rose Weasley looking at me with a concerned expression before glaring at her cousin.
I formally met Rose Weasley last year after seeing her hyperventilate in the library. She was studying for her O.W.L.S., and didn’t understand a theoretical concept for DADA. The stress of it all became too much for her. Knowing the feeling, I sat next to her, calmed her down and helped her through it. We never spoke after that though.
“Jesus, Rose, can you just leave? You don’t need to stick your nose in this,” James inserted.
“Excuse me? I’m just trying to be a friend!” Rose said.
“In case you were unaware Rose, I care about Lexie a lot too and she’s my friend. Right now you’re interrupting something. So do us all a favour and stop being the nosy little cousin.”
Rose had released me at that point, so I slowly started to back away. They continued to argue.
“She’s my friend, Rose, let me be one!”
“She’s in pain, Potter, and it looks like you caused it. Besides, I met her first.”
“Potter? You’re calling me Potter?” James asked incredulously. Rose snorted and laughed without humour. As much as I wanted to escape, my feet were rooted to the spot. All I could do was watch the argument like a tennis match...in silent horror. They were arguing over me.
“Yes I am.”
Both of their faces were red with anger. Somehow, I clued into the fact that they wouldn’t stop arguing until I intervened. As if this day couldn’t get any worse.
“What?” James asked. I stepped forward slightly.
“Uhm, excuse me?” I asked timidly. They ignored me.
“You are a prat!”
“I am not!”
“Excuse me? Rose? Uhm..James?” I asked again. What the hell was with it and the Weasleys and the Potters?
“Don’t even argue that. I was there last year at Christmas. You made Nana cry!”
“Yeah, well at least I didn’t date my dad’s arch nemesis’ son behind his back!”
“How dare you!”
Okay, this was enough. Luckily, I felt my mouth detach from my brain to do the talking.
“ENOUGH!” I screeched. Both James and Rose stopped short mid argument. I cleared my throat uncomfortably.
“Okay, Rose thanks for being so considerate, but really I’m fine.” Wait, what? Where is this bullshit coming from? “James and I were just going to the Gryffindor common room.” I took another breath, and kept eye contact with Rose. I knew how to lie like the best of them, after two years of telling my mom that I was okay, fine and not to worry about me at home all by myself.
“Oh, alright then. I’m going to dinner,” Rose said in a calm voice before turning on her heel in the direction of the great hall. I gaped at her quick change of emotion. Damn.
I turned to look back at James who was eyeing me strangely, as if he knew I was going to break down at any moment.
“Look, I’m sorry,” I mumbled, “you didn’t deserve any of that.” I wiped more tears away. Could this day get any worse? “You just happened to be the first person I ran into after getting some terrible news and I’m sorry.” I took a shaky breath that I knew was borderline sob, and looked up at James.
“Are you okay?” he asked, completely catching me off guard.
“No,” I answered honestly, “do you honestly think I would have said any of what I said if I was okay?”
“No, I know you’re not like that at all.”
He did have a point.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly, my voice breaking. God no, please let me retain some semblance of dignity?
“It's all right.”
“No, it’s not. I can’t believe I said that.”
“I forgive you,” he said, which opened my floodgates.
I cradled my head in my hands and my shoulders shook with sobs. It wasn’t fair, none of it was. Taking another deep breath, I squared my shoulders, wiped away my tears and looked up to prevent more. It was like everything stopped and disappeared. The only thing I couldn’t clear out of my mind was a gravestone with my mum’s name on it. The date was far too soon. I didn’t want to watch her die.
“I’m just gonna go now,” I mumbled without looking at James. A hand clasped onto mine and prevented me from walking away. I followed the hand to its owner. Before I realised what was happening, James had pulled me into a tight hug and I was sobbing into his shoulder.
“She’s giving up. I don’t want to watch her die,” I whispered over and over again, unable to contain it anymore. James said nothing. He only held me tighter.
I pulled away after a few minutes, very aware of James’ eyes trying to dissect me.
“Thanks,” I said with a shaky breathe. “I need to go to the headmaster’s office.”
“Let me go with you.”
I shook my head, “No. This is something I have to do on my own. I need to get used to it.” I started to walk away, wiping tears away periodically.
James fell into step beside me.
“Stop, Lexie,” he asked softly. I complied. “What’s going on?”
I chewed my lip. I didn’t want to say it out loud.
“My mum sent me a letter today. The cancer's spread and,” I paused, finding myself unable to speak around the lump in my throat. I blinked several times before looking at James in the eye.
“She’s stopped all treatment so she can enjoy the remaining time she has left.”
“How long?” he asked. My heart beat quickened at the question- because I didn't know. I didn't know how much longer my mum would be alive. The ache in my heart at the realization was so strong that it seemed to radiate throughout my body; becoming a resounding throb.
“I’m so sorry, Lexie.”
“She couldn’t have the decency to send for me or let someone tell me in person. She just wrote it in a letter as if it isn’t a big deal. It is a big deal.”
Without hesitation, James grasped my hand in his and we walked the rest of the way to the Headmaster’s office in silence.
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