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Chapter 14 : XIV.
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So please put your sweet hand in mine,
and float in space, and drift in time.
All my time until I die,
we’ll float in space just you and I.
“I don’t believe that killing a patient is allowed, Miss Delacour – so please; stop telling me that I should.” He asserted calmly from behind his clipboard.
I saw that he was struggling to regain control over the smile that was playing upon his lips and the professionalism that had been shattered the minute I had mentioned my mother’s name. Ordinarily, it would have humoured me.
“I want you to kill me. Do it now.” I snapped, my hand slapping my forehead in frustration. That man – that stupid man was not my father. My father – my true father would know better than to enter my life like Dennis bloody Creevey was.
“I’ve been asked to inquire into this.” He stated, awkwardly clearing his throat as he lifted up a small mirror from the table beside my bed. “Do you know where these marks and bruising came from? A colleague of mine pointed out that they are far too old to be a result of your attack. It’s a policy – we can’t not ask, Miss Delacour.”
“I – I...” The sight of myself caught me off guard. I had not looked properly in a mirror for such a long time.
If you ignored my imperfections, I was truly a thing of beauty. My face was a narrow heart shape, thin, with subtle cheekbones that made me look both soft yet also a little severe. I had a hint of a dimple on my chin, the chin which protruded slightly in reflection of my stubborn personality.
My complexion was clear, and my skin porcelain like – yet, not in a sickly manner as seen with most girls.
It was natural, luminescent – not something to be easily copied, and beautiful, even without make-up.
I had my mother’s nose – the one which ran in the Veela side of my family – that separated my eyes, and sat above my full, rosy lips. I had always liked my lips, and so had anyone who had ever been kissed by them.
My eyes, free of eyeliner and the dark makeup they were seldom without, looked larger and overall, made me look younger – perhaps even a tad more innocent. If such a thing were even possible.
My eyes were ice blue, and as cold as a winter’s day. The flecks of grey amongst the different shades of blue stood out without having make-up divert the attention. They were so unlike my mother’s, that it was almost amusing – if you looked at it in an ironic sort of away.
I was beautiful, at first glance. Even I knew that.
However, that was not what the Healer wanted me to see, and what had caught the attention of his co-worker.
It was the bruises and the marks that covered my face.
Beneath my right eye, lay a bruise that was a nasty mixture of both purple and green. My eye was no longer swollen, but it was still slightly red, which made me look as though I had some sort of an infection. My lower lip was split, and just off of the centre ran a thick line of dark dried blood. Bruises also littered my left cheek, however were healing and less noticeable under my suddenly flushed skin.
“You want the truth?” I challenged dryly, setting the mirror down on the bed beside me. “Well, here it is. I was at a party – at school – and apparently I had something put in my drink. All I remember about the person was that they had big hands, were in Hufflepuff and tried to get into my knickers – then got really ‘upset’ when I said no.”
“Someone sexually assaulted you?” He exclaimed. His eyebrows shot up his forehead, whilst his hand twitched towards me. I wanted to stare at it, and rudely question his behaviour – but I didn’t. I was actually rather touched.
“I suppose so.”
“Did – did he?” He couldn’t finish the sentence, and I couldn’t blame him. Though he knew nothing about the ties we may possibly have had, I was still Gabrielle Delacour’s daughter – and that meant something.
“No. I managed to fight him off.”
“Good.” He replied, smiling as though he were proud of me.
“You said that the – the person who attacked Albus and me – he was already being looked out for by Aurors? Why is that?” I asked. I already knew the answer to my question deep down inside of me, but I needed to have it said – and I wanted to hear it from his mouth. Somehow, it would make it all sound so much better than it really was.
“He’s wanted for the murder of several young girls, and for using Unforgivable curses.” He frowned slightly as he looked down at my chart, and I winced. Perhaps normal people weren’t as curious as I was.
“I kind of assumed that when he stabbed, tortured and threatened Albus.” I muttered darkly. I wanted to block out the images – the blood, the screaming – but I couldn’t. “Talking about it – do you think it will help me get over it?”
“Of course. There are lots of people here that you can speak with –” He was back. Mr Professional.
“No. That’s not what a meant. I mean, talking about it to normal people – friends, and family - not people who are paid to listen to me.” I declared hotly, unsure of why I was suddenly so frustrated. I felt my hands clench into fists under the sheets and my eyes squeezed closed. I didn’t want to be angry. I was tired of it. I wanted to be content again.
Behind my closed lids, I saw Albus as I had seen him that first morning at the Leaky Cauldron; asleep in a tangle of white sheets, and so naively unaware of all the cruelty and madness going on in the world, whilst he dreamed of strange and beautiful things.
“I assume so.” He replied honestly. I had not expected that. “After my brother’s death – well, there weren’t many people for me to talk to and so I suppose that if there had been, I would have found some peace in being able to describe all of the awful, painful feelings that were racing through my head.”
I drew in a deep breath, thrown completely off guard by the sincerity of his words, and opened my eyes to look at him seriously.
“Your brother? How did he die?” I wasn’t aware I had spoken aloud until I saw that pain and surprise had flickered across his face, leaving him looking young and heartbroken. “I’m sorry – if it’s too hard then I totally understand.”
“No. It’s fine. It has been a long time.”
“But I’m sure you still think about it everyday... In every happy moment... and just as equally, in every sad one.”
“Precisely.” His poignant brown eyes met with mine and I felt as though a mutual understanding had passed between us. We both knew the pain and life long effects of grief, and how sorrow could control you and turn you into someone even you did not recognise...
“His name is – his name was Colin and he was killed during the war. He was killed during the Battle at Hogwarts. He was only sixteen. He’d – he’d come back to school secretly and had refused to go with people his age. He was killed by a Death Eater – only, we have never been able to find out whom it is.”
“I’m sorry.” I whispered. I looked away, unable to hold his despondent gaze any longer.
“Your mother – she was a good friend of mine for a time. She helped me get over my brother’s death. She’s – she’s a wonderful woman. So full of life, and joy.”
“Not any more...” I was murmuring, unable to contain it. “Not any more...”
My vision was acting up again, blurring, and instead of seeing my mother. I saw someone entirely different. I did not smile, or laugh this time. I took in the shaggy blonde hair and grinning face in rapture and turned away. I wanted to go with him, but Albus, like an anchor, kept me tied to earth and the bonds that I had formed there.
It was dark when I awoke, and I was alone for the first time since my turbulent arrival.
My ward was empty, free of poor souls like myself, and eerily quiet. The only sounds that could be heard were the rasping of my breath and the rustling sheets as I pushed them off of my legs.
In my drug induced slumber, I was not haunted by ghosts of the past but of a future I could not have with two very different people. I saw my old tutor, and I saw Albus – two people who I could never properly love at the same time. Not with my whole heart.
Which was, according to my mother and all the books of old, the only way there is to love a person.
My head spun and my body ached as I threw my legs over the side of the bed and pushed myself onto my feet. I had not walked in what seemed like years, so I swayed as though drunkenly under the influence of butter rum and Firewhiskey, and had to grab hold of the wall to support myself.
The darkness did not help me find my bearings either, but at least there were no bright lights to confuse and coax me back into the world of sleep as there were during the day.
The door was not locked, and I pushed it open with more ease than I had expected.
It was then that I realized that this was not a prison, but a hospital, and it was not customary to lock up patients – even the barmy ones like myself.
I wore but a simple maroon and white gown – as expected for St Mungos patients – and the corridor was chilly at night. I hugged the thin frock to my slight frame, and quickened my staggering pace as much as I could.
It was a gamble, but I could have sworn that I had heard one of the Healers tell Dennis that Albus was not on my floor – which was the first, and for ‘Creature-Induced’ injuries – but on the fourth floor, which was for Spell Damage.
It was not hard to get there once I worked out where the lift was, and how to work it. My brain was so muddled; it was difficult to figure out what buttons did what and what they meant in relation to Albus.
“Albus.” I whispered. “I want Albus. I want Albus – I don’t fucking want fucking the Tea Room.”
There was a pleasant dinging noise when the lift had reached the fourth floor, and I stumbled out of it unseeingly. I knew which room he was in; I had heard Dennis mention it to someone when I was supposed to be sleeping and therefore, not in earshot and not planning on my great escape.
I had to get to him, and that was all I knew to be true.
He would have done the same for me; I knew that in my heart to be the truth too.
“Room 394. Room 394.” I whispered to myself, obsessively. I staggered down the corridor with my eyes trained to the numbers on the door as though my life depended upon it.
Room 392. 393. 394.
My heart behaved peculiarly in my chest at the sight of the door, and there was no hesitation. None at all. I wanted Albus, and there he was, just behind a door. Perhaps, I should have been more apprehensive – then again, my mind was so mixed up, it was a miracle I had even gotten to it in the first place.
The door was open, as expected, and I opened it slowly, making sure I was quiet in my entrance.
The room was dark, just as mine had been, however much, much bigger. There were more people in this one room than there had been in mine – where, though empty, it housed three beds. In Albus’s there were five beds, and each were taken, including his – which was the first thing I saw when looking into the room.
He was nearest the door – therefore closest to me – and worryingly pallid in the dim light.
I moved to his side as fleetingly as I could, ignoring the pain that shot through my neck and through my side. All I had to do was get to him, and then I could pass out, faint, or even die – whatever my body desired. I just had to see if he was alright. I just had to touch him one last time.
I collapsed in the chair beside his bed, and dragged it so it was as close to the bed as I could manage.
Albus lay on his back, and I could see that his face wore a troubled expression. His eyes were squeezed closed, as though in pain, and his sheets pulled up to his neck. I did not dare lift them up to see what damage that knife had done to him...
Seeing him there - lying broken and irreparable, was what truly broke me.
I did not care that my mother, my aunt and my friends had not visited me or that I may or may not have found the man I had been searching for my entire life. All I cared about was the boy who was lying in a hospital bed because of my selfishness.
Tears leaked down my cheeks, and I lay my head on Albus’s leg. I did not want to cry – I had already shed enough tears to last a lifetime – but it was inevitable.
“You’re here,” A rasping voice murmured, “I knew you would...”
I felt pressure on the top of my head, and when I looked up, I saw through my tears, that Albus had lifted his hand and was brushing his fingers through my messy tresses. I pressed my lips together, willing myself not to cry, and searched his face hungrily.
His eyes were open only slightly, and his smile was weak, however still full of such love that I began to sob silently.
“I’m so sorry – I’m so, so sorry. This is all my fault.” I cried, with my tears soaking his sheets and my hands clutching his frantically. His fingers caressed the back of my head, trying to sooth me, but I was too far gone for such methods.
“Shh.” He whispered, blinking sleepily and struggling to remain conscious – just as I had. “You’re here... that’s all that matters. You... you came back for me.”
“Always.” I sighed, mirroring his words. “Always...”
“I love you, Em. I love...”
I was with him. I had found him. I had fulfilled my final wish.
And all my strength was gone.
I awoke to happiness, and then to bewilderment.
That, however, was not entirely uncommon, hence I did not think to question my situation until I had truly returned to reality and had left the joys of sleep behind me completely. It did not take long. It never did.
I was slumped over, still sat in the same chair, and lay with my head resting on Albus’s thigh. His hand still lay on top of my head and one of my arms was dangled over the side of the bed, numb and throbbing. He was asleep, and incoherently murmuring to himself.
An affectionate smile touched my face as I raised my head away from his leg, and sat back in my chair.
I could have watched him all day, if I’d had the chance, but unfortunately I did not.
As I brushed his hand with my thumb, someone cleared their throat loudly. At first, I expected to see a Healer or someone from my ward, sent to bring me back.
If only that had been the case, I might have been able to talk my way into staying with him.
Standing at the foot of Albus’s bed, looking exceptionally stern and uncompromising, was his mother.
Mrs Ginny Potter, the former Quidditch player and known Howler sender to each one of her three children. Her flaming red hair was long, like her daughter’s, and her jaw was set in such a way, that I knew that Lily’s softer traits could not have possibly come from her.
Her brown eyes were hard as they met my gaze, and pierced through me irately.
“Hello.” I murmured, sounding abnormally timid, “I’m – I’m Em. We met at the Burrow.”
“I remember.” She frostily said in response. “You’re the girl who convinced my youngest son to run off without a single word of notice on Christmas day – and who almost got him killed in the process.”
Her coldness, and the way she glared at me as though she were plotting my demise, frightened me.
‘Who almost got him killed.’
I inhaled deeply, and lowered down at my hands. They twisted nervously together on my lap; it was an annoying habit which I had thought I’d broken long ago.
“I’m sorry.” I was aware of my voice shaking as I spoke, and it made my cheeks flush pink. “I never meant for anything to happen – and it’s my fault he left on Christmas –”
“Well, obviously.” Ginny Potter snapped harshly, her eyes flashing to the ceiling incredulously. “My son would not do such things. He’s a respectable student – and an otherwise decent human being. He would not just up and leave his family without being coveted.”
“‘A respectable student’, ‘a decent human being’ – what exactly are you trying to say? What are you inferring – that I’m not? I don’t mean to be rude, Mrs Potter – I really don’t, but you don’t know me and I think it unwise that –”
“I beg your pardon?” She exclaimed, her brows drawing together as she took a furious, shaking step towards me. “You could have gotten my son killed! I can say whatever I wish to you!”
“My Healer says that I saved his life!”
“I suppose you did – only after you provoked a known murderer, who proceeded to torture and stab my son all because you could not keep your horrid little mouth closed. And to make it worse, you chose not to immediately take my son to St Mungos, but wait a full six minutes whilst he bled to death slowly and painfully.” She was in my face, her full fury being unleashed in the words that she cruelly stage whispered.
I clutched my neck and stomach, which had both begun to burn, and pressed my lips together.
“I – I didn’t. I – didn’t – I love him.”
“Oh? Well, take a long hard look at what your love has done to my son.” She hissed, her icy tone back in place, as she moved back to her place at the foot of Albus’s bed.
My tears, prickling with tears, shifted from her hateful gaze, to Albus.
Uninterrupted, sleep still continued to claim him.
His lips were quivering somewhat as he dreamed, and his eyelashes flickered ever so slightly.
He was in a dream world, seeing before him a wondrous or nightmarish place that I could not perceive, and unaware of the heated argument between his mother and I – with me being the girl who had put him in that unfortunate bed, and almost been the reason for a death long before his time.
‘I’ll love you until I die.’
I broke down at the thought of him, lying pale and still in a wooden coffin, and regardless of what I did, there was nothing I could do to relieve my mind of the haunting image that would inevitably rule my nightmares from there on in.
“I want you to stay away from him.” Mrs Potter slowly said. It was not her words, but her gaze that drew my attention away from Albus. She was staring at me as though she knew that I understood, and amongst the hatred she felt towards me, there was also pity. “Promise me that you will.”
My eyes flickered back to Albus fleetingly, with tears welling up in them.
“I promise.” I whispered.
I looked at her, incredulous, and it caught me by surprise that she honestly did look grateful.
I pressed my lips to Albus’s hand as I stood up, and as I left, I only looked back once.
“Do you know how concerned we were, Miss Delacour?” A strange, unfamiliar Healer snapped at me. I nodded my head and shifted myself so that the covers completely covered my shivering body. “Do you? Because I don’t think that you do!”
“Where’s – where’s Healer Creevey?” I mused distractedly, “Is he not working today?”
“Actually, he is trying to track down this illusive mother of yours.”
“What?” I exclaimed – unintentionally loud, and completely uncomprehending of the woman’s jumbled words.
“He’s looking for your Mum.” She sighed, tapping her white clipboard with the top of her quill. “You need to get rest. You weren’t supposed to leave your bed for at least a week – do you know how much your little excursion cost you in terms of your recovery?”
“I’m sorry?” I was confused by everything. Perhaps it was the drugs she had forced me to take. Or maybe it was the after shock of my tumultuous reunion with Albus. I could hear his whisperings of endearment mixed in with his mother’s threats. It was all noise, and it was tearing my heart into two.
“Oh for pities sake, child! You are a foolish girl and leaving your bed from now on is forbidden! Don’t make me bind you by force!” She meant magic, of course. It was not the Muggle world where people were tied down by ropes and material.
It was so much worse.
“I don’t think that will be necessary, Healer Dawlish, I am sure that Miss Delacour will behave from now on.” It was Dennis, grinning slightly at his own attempt at light hearted humour.
“Did you find my mother?” I blurted out, unable to stop myself in time.
“I have my best people on it.” He replied steadily, still trying to make light of the situation.
“I want my mother!” I knew that I was behaving like a child, but I didn’t care. I needed her, and his evasiveness was rubbing me the wrong way.
“She will be found, Emmanuelle. Don’t worry yourself. All you need think about is getting better, alright?” He said my name. He said my name. I was not aware of how wide my eyes were until I saw alarm appear in his own. He bent towards me, inspecting my neck and pupils. “Where does it hurt?”
“Here.” I muttered, casually waving a hand in the direction of my heart.
He frowned, and turned to the female Healer.
“You may leave now, Healer Dawlish. Thank you for all that you have done.” He smiled politely as she murmured a goodbye and then turned to me. “I know what you did, and I am sorry for the way Mrs Potter received you.”
“What? You mean shouting at me and ordering me never to see her precious son again? Oh, wow, thanks for that.” I didn’t mean to be so harsh, but I couldn’t help myself. I was full of bitterness and he was the only person left that I could release it to. “Now, tell me where my mother is or get out.”
“You’re so much like her, has anyone ever told you that?” He asked, smiling down at me with a slight touch of wistfulness.
“No, most people say that I take after my father.” I replied dryly.
“Your father? What’s his name?” He seemed to lament his prying and demanding tone, and as he recomposed himself, I took the opportunity to interrupt him.
“I don’t know who he is; my mother has kept him from me my entire life.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” He honestly did - which made being rude to him so much harder than it should have been. “Knowing your mother well, I am sure that he was a good man.”
“What kind of man gets his girlfriend pregnant at sixteen and does nothing?” I snapped, enjoying the way that he recoiled as though I had slapped him across the face.
“Where is my daughter? Where is she? Where is my Emmanuelle?”
As though she were a trick of the light, there she suddenly appeared; my mother.
I wanted to sarcastically say ‘speak of the devil’, but she was the exact opposite of that.
Her pale blonde hair caught the light streaming in from the open windows and it looked golden. Her wide cerulean eyes, which were as blue as the ocean, caught mine as she pushed the female Healer away and I saw her rosy pink lips form my name.
“My darling! My darling daughter!” She cried, hurrying to my side with an easy grace that I would never possess. She fell onto the bed beside me and wrapped her arms tightly around my shoulders. “Oh! I was so worried! I was in Nice with a friend and – and I did not hear until this morning! I am so sorry, my darling!”
She drew away and took my face in both her hands frenetically. Her eyes were full of sparkling tears as she took in my battered face and the blackened area around the white gauze bandages.
It was as though my bruised face was a new thing to her, even though the marks had been there the last time she had seen me and she had not so much as blinked an eyelid at the sight of them.
“Maman – Maman - don’t cry. I – I think you should – I think you should meet my Healer.” I whispered, gesturing towards Dennis with my hand with urgency. She had not seen him yet, her eyes were only for me.
I might have found it touching had I not been so desperate to find out if the man who had been taking care of me so well was the very same man she had described to me.
“What? What are you –?” She turned, looking at me with mystification in her eyes, towards Dennis. It took precisely three heartbeats for her to react. “Dennis?”
“It’s good to see you, Gabrielle.” He replied softly. His smile was so genuine that it caught us both by surprise.
“And – and you too.” She stuttered, lying so pathetically that it made me roll my eyes. I saw with blush over her accidental slip back into French and it made her look so young, it alarmed me. “I’m mean; it’s lovely to see you too. You – you have been looking after Emmanuelle?”
“Yes – er, that’s what I do – that’s my job.”
I noticed the way that, as they shifted and cleared their throats awkwardly, they were shooting sheepish glances in my direction. Deeming myself a distraction, I loosened my grip on my mother’s hand and closed my eyes. I assumed the expected sleeping position – mouth somewhat ajar, head tilted slightly to the side – and breathed in slowly, and deeply.
“How does she do that?” My mother mused quietly, probably mostly to herself. “She used to fall asleep everywhere as a child – in the garden, in the airing cupboard, in a fireplace... She’s such a strange girl.”
“I see a lot of you in her. At first, before I knew who she was, I thought I’d gone mad and was imagining you inside of this poor young girl.” Dennis replied, sounding sadder than I would have liked. I didn’t want him to upset my mother. And I didn’t want him to upset me either.
“How – how did it happen exactly? What happened to her?” My mother whispered, sounding distressed. Her grip on my hand tightened noticeably.
“From what I have heard, it’s not a pretty tale – but that’s a given considering the shape she is in.” I heard the frown in Dennis’s words and I could sense the tension between them. “Are you sure that you want to hear this, Gabbie?”
My mother’s hand trembled at the sound of what I’d imagine to her be old endearment, and at the way that he said it. So tenderly, as though they were still the lovers they had once been.
“Yes. I want to know.” She said, distinctively struggling to sound as though she were in control and not the emotional wreck I knew her to be. “Tell me please, Dennis.” I heard the hesitation, and the softness that came from saying his name.
Fleetingly, my mind flickered to Albus before my sensible head stepped in and diverted from attention to something a little less painful.
“Alright.” He murmured, shifting himself so that he was perched on the edge of my bed. I felt my mother leaning towards him instinctively and would have rolled my eyes if that had not of given my facade away.
“I’ll try to avoid going into detail... Well, Emmanuelle and Albus Potter were in Knockturn Alley several nights ago, and had been at one of the parties going on there. Supposedly, Emmanuelle provoked the ringleader and attacked him. He defended himself and somehow, the knife ended up in Albus. But no one believes that story, of course.”
“Well, obviously.” My mother snapped haughtily.
“Yes... well, from what Aurors have gathered, and from what information Albus gave us it’s quite apparent that none of what happened was Emmanuelle’s fault. D’Eath is a convicted killer and his gang of thugs are all wanted for some thing.”
“So he attacked my daughter and tried to kill Albus?”
“Yes.” Dennis seemed reluctant to continue, but not even I, with closed eyes, could ignore my mother’s urgency and persistence. “Only... he didn’t just ‘attack’ Emmanuelle. He – he bit her.”
“He bit her?” She repeated blankly, sounding confused. “He ‘bit’ her?”
“Yes. He is a part-Vampire and so – well, surely you can imagine what he was trying to do?”
And then, so suddenly that my eyes flew open in alarm, my mother exploded. Not literally, of course, but in all other sense of the word she did. Crying out and rapidly swearing in French, I did not know what to do. She was hysterical and speaking far too quickly for me to understand.
“Maman?” I exclaimed as I quickly attempted to wrap my arms around my flailing mother. “What’s wrong? Where’s the fire?”
“What? What are you talking about, Emmanuelle? What fire? It is raining – there can be no fire.”
“It’s a figure of speech, Gabrielle.” Dennis said, almost precisely at the same time as I did. Our eyes met for an ephemeral moment, and he smiled faintly.
“You are telling me that – that the thing that attacked my daughter not only beat her – but tried to drink from her? It wanted to drink her blood?” I could hear her internal struggle, and knew that she was only keeping calm for my benefit and was only speaking in English to appease Dennis. It seemed she did more for others than I had previously believed.
Both pairs of eyes shifted to me then, and candidly stared at the bandaged wound on my neck with mingled curiosity, fury and hardship shared between them. I wanted to be of comfort, but I couldn’t because my mind asked a valid question.
To whom would I comfort?
This chapter was difficult to write, knowing that it wouldn’t be a smut fest and couldn’t have too much going on, whilst also having a ‘shitload’ (it doesn’t seem like much, but it actually was) going on in the Gabrielle/Dennis front. I don’t have much to say other than I hope, as always, that you enjoyed it and that you won’t kill me for making Ginny a sort of negative mother hen figure. Though, in her defence, wouldn’t you want someone like Em to stay away from your precious little adorable son? Haha.
‘Maman’ – Mum.
Lyrics: Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space – Spiritualized
Thanks for reading!
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