hi. it's been a while... i'm sorry about that. i've missed you. very much. also, i've just found out that i was accepted into a creative writing program for next year, and i, of course, owe some credit to the wonderful practice and support i find here. without further ado:
On most early mornings, the Forbidden Forest came to life around sunrise. A new day’s breeze would gently rustle the new buds and leafs on trees. Baby owls would hoot as their parents returned with food from the night hunt. Creatures would stir and scuttle out of Hagrid the Gamekeeper’s way as he marched through the trails.
The morning of May 4, 1977 was different, for at sunrise, already eleven students--with badges in the shapes of lions, serpents, badgers, and eagles--were deep in the forest. The first rays of the sun were shooting across the horizon, painting the sky with streaks of golden yellow and warm, morning orange.
It was 5:30 am, and the badges affixed to the students’ robes vibrated, signaling the end of their game of mock survival and the ability to exit the forest.
Within a few minutes, three Slytherin boys burst from the forest. They whooped and cheered, ramming each other into manly embraces. They had survived the dueling.
“Where’s Evan?” asked Dane Avery.
“Do you think he lost his badge?” asked Adam Mulciber. “I’ll never let him live it down.”
“Do you think Regulus lost?” asked Dane.
“Who knows,” said Wilkes. “But we should wait around to see who else comes out. I want to know who won.”
The three boys stood around until Hufflepuff’s Riley Hodges emerged from the forest. He was clutching a cramp in his abdomen and moving slowly, but he still had his badge.
“Congratulations Hodges,” said Wilkes, shaking the Hufflepuff’s hand.
“Thanks. You three as well,” he replied to the Slytherins. “Should we wait for the rest?”
The boys agreed, but after ten minutes, still no one else exited the forest. They yawned and checked their watches and exhausted conversation. Nothing.
“You know, the others could still be deep in there,” said Riley after long minutes of silence.
“You’re right,” said Mulciber. “Let’s just head up to the castle. We have time for a few hours of sleep before class.”
“I suppose,” said Wilkes, gazing into the woods. It had been eerily quiet, and the end of the games had been somewhat anti-climactic. He rose onto his feet and began the trek back to Hogwarts.
They had made it just around the Whomping Willow when the wind carried voices their way. The boys turned: emerging from the forest was Amelia Bones, Lily Evans, and Sirius Black.
“Hey! Just going to walk away, huh?” shouted Sirius, his wand by his side instead of in his pocket.
“Sorry. We got tired of waiting,” explained Wilkes. “But well done. The three of you survived.”
“You alright, Amelia?” asked Riley to his fellow Hufflepuff. He had noticed the severity of her head wound and the exhaustion on her face.
Before she could answer, Sirius sped forward and addressed the three Slytherin boys. “Just what exactly were you playing at?”
“Excuse me?” asked Wilkes.
“Don’t play dumb,” said Sirius. “Dementors. Dementors in the forest.”
“That’s impossible!” said Riley, rushing toward Amelia. She nodded at him to confirm what Sirius had said.
“You dirty snakes didn’t think you could win on your own accord, did you?” hissed Sirius. “So you brought in dementors to fight the good fight for you.”
“Sirius,” said Lily warily. “You don’t know it was them.”
Wilkes looked to Lily, a glint in his eyes that made her feel frozen and uncomfortable. “Yeah, Black. Evans is right. It’s not polite to assume.” He smirked at her, as if they were sharing a secret, and Lily took a step inward toward Sirius.
“I’m not standing up for you, Wilkes,” she said. “I don’t know who sent dementors in there. But I figure we should ask you before attacking you.”
“How very Gryffindor,” snorted Mulciber.
“I’m waiting for an answer,” growled Lily. “Were you or were you not responsible for that? Because not only is that cheating, but that’s grossly dangerous.”
“Was it unfair?” asked Wilkes mockingly, turning to Mulciber and Avery. Wilkes usually maintained his cool, but this duel had showed a new side of him, an ugly typical-Slytherin side.
“Couldn’t have been,” said Mulciber. “Not when you Gryffindors had a beast of your own on your team.”
“What are you going on about now, Mulciber?” snarled Sirius.
“Well, I’d hate to be as assumptive as you and Evans,” he replied. “But I do believe an unauthorized Gryffindor tried to rip up my buddy Wilkes here.” He gestured towards Wilkes’ cloak.
Sirius, however, was quiet. He looked to Wilkes’ robes. Maybe to Lily they just appeared torn, but to Sirius, who’d had much experience with werewolves, the claw marks were obvious.
“Who was really cheating?” asked Wilkes. “Come on, team. Let’s go back to the castle. We can deal with them later.”
“Sirius,” murmured Lily as the three Slytherin boys began to walk away. “Sirius, what’s going on?”
He was noticing the fresh scratch marks at the base of the Whomping Willow, the body of a rabbit that had fallen prey to claws, and a dangerously wide trail leading into the forest. Everything seemed to point to the fact that Remus had escaped from the Shrieking Shack.
“I’m going back in,” said Sirius. His voice cracked weakly, so he repeated. “I’m going back in goddammit!”
“What?!” asked Lily and Amelia simultaneously,
“Riley, help Amelia back to the castle. Lily, go with them, why don’t you?” said Sirius, his eyes trained on the hellish woods from where they had just escaped.
Riley nodded, offering his arm to Amelia for support.
“Go on,” said Sirius, a little harshly. “I’ll... I have to go.” He took off, sprinting once again for the forest.
“That was odd,” said Riley as they watched Sirius go.
“Very,” agreed Amelia. Since she was still shaken, she took Riley’s arm, and together they began hobbling towards the castle.
Lily took a few steps to follow them, but she was still looking over her shoulder to Sirius. Admittedly, she was a little curious about his sudden need to return to the woods, but she was mostly worried about him. He didn’t often sober up from adrenaline so quickly and responsibly; the change was jarring and worrisome.
Lily had to catch up with him and make sure everything was okay. She gave a quick goodbye to Amelia and Riley, who were confused but unbothered by her departure. And then she sprinted after Sirius.
The breeze that morning brought was cold and unrelenting. She rushed against it, feeling her throat grow raw and her eyes become watery. She called out his name several times, but it was lost in the howling of the wind. He was much more athletic than she, and he pounced ahead. It took her awhile to catch up. In fact, she wouldn’t have, but he stopped momentarily to fish out a mirror in his clothes.
“James! James! Oh thank God! Are you with Remus? The Slytherins said something that made me think he might have escaped--”
“Yeah. He did,” panted James. “God. It’s bad. It’s the worst. He’s just transformed back. He and I have been wrestling for the past hour or so...”
“The Slytherins saw. Wilkes said something... Did Moony go for Wilkes?” asked Sirius.
“Yeah. No damage... But Marlene...” James let out a dry sob. “Oh God.”
“Where are you!?” demanded Sirius.
“You know where the creek splits off into two?” asked James. “Right there.”
“Are you with Mar? Is she... bitten?” asked Sirius.
“She’s just down the bank. I don’t know. I’ve been with Remus. Peter’s with her. And he stunned Evan Rosier. So he’s passed out over there. I’ll go to her now,” said James. “Are you close by? Oh, god. I’m with Remus... He’s... out of sorts.”
“Yeah. I am close,” said Sirius. “Give me five minutes--”
He turned to continue on his way towards James, Remus, Marlene, and Peter when he noticed Lily. His back had been turned to her while he was speaking to James, but there she was: standing in the open only three meters away, not even bothering to disguise herself.
“How long have you been there?” demanded Sirius.
“Long enough,” she said quietly. “They’re hurt. I’m coming with you.”
“How much did you hear?” asked Sirius.
Lily didn’t say anything at first. She had her chin pointed down, and she looked at him through heavy lids, almost guiltily.
“How much did you hear?!” asked Sirius again, this time much more forcefully.
“I know Remus is a werewolf.”
Sirius was surprised by Lily’s confession, but he tried his best not to convey any shock. “You’re wrong.”
“Don’t lie to me,” said Lily. “I wasn’t sure before just now, but I had suspicions. You’re not very good at covering it up.” She didn’t want to tell Sirius that it had been Severus who had always suggested the theory to her.
“Go back to the castle,” said Sirius, his gray eyes angry and fierce.
“No,” said Lily.
“No. I’m not leaving them. They’re my friends too,” said Lily. “And if anyone’s hurt, I’m not sure why you and I are standing around bickering with each other. We’re losing time.”
Sirius looked at her with a murderous expression. She had expected him to argue, but instead, he just said, “You’re strikingly like James.” And with that, he turned on his heel, and she hurried after him.
There was blood, and there was a lot of it. When Remus opened his eyes, there was the blood, tainting the creek water. He lay on the bank, a human once more. In the distance, James and Peter crouched over a girl, his girl.
Remus wished he had the strength to sit up, but gravity was defeating him. He kept his eyes trained on his friends, just a ways away. Had he killed? He wasn’t sure. His memories from his nights as a werewolf were never clear. They were warped and distorted with hunger. From last night, he remembered finding her, Marlene. In his memory, her skin was a perfect white, and he had scratched it away with his claws. Her blood had shone against her skin like cherries in snow.
He disgusted himself.
“Moony!” barked Sirius, though Remus had once again closed his eyes. “There you are!” Sirius crouched down to Remus, wiped the hair back out of his face.
“Go to her,” breathed Remus.
Sirius followed Remus’ gaze to James, Peter, and Marlene on the bank. He stood up, but not before he looked at Remus’ hands. Marlene’s blood was caught underneath the fingernails.
Remus wished he would just die right there. Sirius joined the others, fell to his knees to tend to Marlene. They didn’t need Remus, they didn’t want him; he didn’t deserve them.
Remus had not expected Lily to be there. She came out of nowhere and didn’t just crouch over him; she took a seat, cross-legged, right next to him. He tried to get up, to move away from her. He wanted to warn her that he didn’t deserve her kindness, but Lily put her hand on his and quieted him.
“Remus. I know,” she said quietly. “Shh. It’s going to be alright. Marlene’s going to be alright. She has James, Sirius, and Peter looking after her. She will be fine, but I’m worried about you. I don’t have any chocolate on me, which is a shame. But I will clean you up...” She picked up his hand, studying Marlene’s blood under his fingernails. “Scourgify.” Lightly, she dropped his hand back down and repeated the spell on his other hand. Then, she set to work doctoring his cuts, bruises, and scrapes.
She reached a gash in his side that he had received from James’ antlers, though she didn’t know that. He winced when she touched him. “Hmm,” said Lily. “I don’t want to hurt you, but I need to get this cleaned up so we can heal it. So I’ll distract you with a story. How about that? I can tell you my favourite from when I was young... Did you heard about the little prince who had a pet lion?”
She touched his body tenderly and carefully, all the while telling a child’s tale. If only for a short while, it distracted him from the pain, the aching guilt, and his self-hatred. Her voice drowned out the worried voices of Peter, James, and Sirius. Her hands moved to his hair, where she combed the dirt out with her fingers and rubbed his scalp. He wanted to tell her that she was a natural healer--or mother--but he couldn’t find any words.
“Remus?” she said, when her story was finished. She wasn’t expecting him to answer, but she wanted to call his attention back to real life. “Remus, I think it’s time I help you to the Hospital Wing. There you can sleep and get some chocolate... And maybe some ointment for the scars. Okay? Don’t worry. You don’t have to move. I’ve got you. Let’s get you out of this forest.”
“Fuck!” yelled Sirius, as it was the only word that came to mind even after taking in the situation for over a minute.
“Come on, Sirius,” said James levelly. “Let’s take Mar back up to the castle before she loses anymore blood. We have to be extra careful. You help Pete.” There was something calming in the tone of James’ voice--the way he took initiative, used their first names rather than their nicknames.
“What about Evan Rosier?” asked Peter, as he stepped closer to Marlene.
“He’ll wake up eventually,” said James.
“With all this blood around him?” asked Peter. “Kind of traumatizing.”
“Come on, Wormtail. It’s Rosier. He’s seen worse,” said Sirius.
The boys dropped the conversation as they lifted Marlene, without magic and steadied her in James’ arms. Sirius took a step back and looked down at her.
Undeniably, she was beautiful--even after the attack. Her eyes were closed gracefully, her lashes contrasting against her cream-colored skin. She had a long, thin nose which may have been the main reason he sometimes thought of Marlene as statuesque. Or maybe it was because of her figure: she was plumper than most girls wanted to be these days, but she wore the weight happily, confidently, wonderfully. She was loud, independent, and buoyant, and Sirius always assumed it was the reason he was so attracted to her--not even romantically, but as a person. He never thought of her as someone who needed much protecting or sheltering, so seeing her there limp in James’ arms, blood drenching her robes, was jarring.
They began to walk towards the exit of the forest carefully, and Sirius and Peter fell in stride behind James.
“What happened to Lily?” asked James, turning his head slightly to talk to them even though no one really felt like talking.
“She took Remus to the castle,” said Peter. “Healed him up a bit first, it looked like.”
“She knows,” said Sirius. “About Remus.”
“Figures,” grunted James. “She’s unusually perceptive, that one.”
There was silence once again, which Peter found to be more uncomfortable than the talking. So he spoke again. “What’s going to happen to Marlene?”
“She wasn’t bitten,” said James.
“Where’s all the blood coming from then?” asked Peter. “Have you looked under her robes?”
“Yes,” said James. “Big claw marks.”
“Where?” asked Sirius.
“Stomach,” said James. “Torn up. I don’t know how to go about healing it, even temporarily.”
“You haven’t even tried to heal her even a little?” asked Sirius, raising his voice involuntarily.
“She doesn’t really have much skin there right now. That’s why we’re heading straight for the Hospital Wing.”
“Well... will she... survive?” asked Peter.
James whipped his head back to glare at Peter. “Of course. Don’t even let the opposite thought get into your mind.”
But his protectiveness was only worrisome. For the second time that morning, Sirius found that only one word escaped his mouth, this time under his breath, conveying a rare sense of helplessness. “Fuck.”
They walked on, nearing the edge of the forest. The trees grew further apart and the overhead canopy wasn’t so thick. Their visibility also increased, and a few minutes later, the boys heard the voices and saw the accompanying figures: two of them--shadowy, on the outskirts of the forest.
“Someone from the duel?” whispered Peter, squinting to see.
“No,” said Sirius immediately. He recognized one of their voices, the way she stood with her too-long arms crossed in front of her chest, her feet that turned inward as she walked. “MJ.”
She seemed to hear him say her name and met his eyes. Her hand was enveloped in Jared’s, who waved at the boys with his free hand. It was still quite dark so they didn’t seem to notice Marlene in their arms.
“I’m not standing around to make small talk,” muttered James to Peter and Sirius. He had heard their footsteps stop. “Let’s keep going back to the castle.”
Sirius, for a faltering second, wanted to run to MJ, grab her, tell her what had happened, all of it. He had the strange feeling that he needed to apologize, but he wasn’t sure where to start or really what he would apologize for. He missed her friendship, her surprising sarcasm as they took notes on the Quidditch Pitch. He wanted to drag her away from Jared and ask her just what she was doing with that hippie, when she could so obviously do better.
But he didn’t. He didn’t so much as nod at her or wave at Jared. He followed James.
And as he looked away from her, he muttered another involuntary “Fuck.”
“Remus,” mused Lily softly. “The Hospital Wing’s this way.” He seemed disoriented and still shocked.
“Dumbledore,” muttered Remus.
“Remus, you’ve got a cut on your side. We should get you fixed up.”
“No. It’s just... just a cut,” he said. “She’s worse. What did I do?! I... I can’t be trusted...”
“It was an accident, Remus. It wasn’t even you. It was a werewolf. It wasn’t you,” she said levelly, stepping nearer to him and resting her hand on his cheek.
The gesture alarmed him, and he was uncomfortable under her touch. “I keep causing all of this suffering... It’s all my fault. Always.”
“That’s a lie,” said Lily. “You have no control when you transform. It’s not even really you. You’re so compassionate, Remus. We all know that the werewolf is not you,” said Lily. “Even Marlene will understand.”
“What did I do to her?” asked Remus, his voice breaking. “Do you know?”
“You didn’t do anything to her. You would never. Don’t you see, Remus? The werewolf isn’t you,” said Lily.
He ignored her. “Was she... bitten?”
Lily had not rushed over to Marlene when she and Sirius had entered the clearing. Marlene had been surrounded by the boys, and though Lily had never thought she would say this, she trusted those boys completely. There was some fierce way that they took care of Marlene.
“She’ll be okay,” said Lily gently. “Shh... oh now. You’re bleeding through your shirt again. Please, let’s go to the Hospital Wing. I’ll stay with you.”
He shook his head. “I don’t matter. She deserves the attention from the Hospital Wing... not me. It’s just a cut, Lily. I already have a hundred scars. What’s another one?” He turned away from her, shrugged out from her embrace, and began walking the other way. The shining patch of blood was growing on his shirt, and he limped away miserably, repeatedly clearing his throat to hold back tears.
Lily couldn’t take his self-hate, his loneliness. She ran toward him and grabbed his hand. “I’m coming with you then. You’re not alone.”
And at her kind touch, at her understanding words, he began to weep.
Half hour after the boys had brought Marlene into the Hospital Wing, James, Sirius, and Peter found themselves alone sitting in the dark. All of the beds were empty, and the only light came from the few torches that flickered near the the entrance. Though they had the entire Hospital Wing to themselves, the boys sat side by side in chairs set around a bed. The bed was, of course, empty. When the healers had seen Marlene, they had decided to treat her in a side room. More privacy, they had said. But James knew that it meant that Marlene’s condition was grave.
There was an unsettling silence in the humongous Hospital Wing. As James reflected on it, he wondered about Amelia: perhaps she had doctored herself up and decided not to visit the school healers. His mind wandered to Remus who had also been injured in the Forest Duel. But Remus was in Lily’s hands, and James trusted her so he wasn’t worried.
Still, the duel had seemed so violent that James was shocked that Marlene was the only one seeking treatment.
To his left sat Sirius, who had his head in his hands. James wouldn’t have been surprised if Sirius were hiding tears. When the boys had brought Marlene into the Hospital Wing, it had been Sirius who had screamed for help. Over and over, Sirius repeated “She’s been attacked! My friend has been attacked!” He had seemed almost infantile, fixating on the same phrase over and over until James had led him into a chair.
The nurses had not found any logical sense in Sirius’ words. They instead had spoken to James, who had decided to tell the truth. “She was attacked by a werewolf.”
He had sold out Remus as the attacker, but it was necessary. The healers had to know what kind of injury they were up against.
Peter sat on his other side. He was curled up into the chair as if he were sleeping, but his eyes were wide open. They were all too afraid, too shaken to sleep. All they could do was sit together quietly, thinking about Marlene being treated in the side-room.
It was torturous really. James had known Marlene since they were four years old, when Marlene’s family had moved next-door. When the McKinnons weren’t traveling with Mr. McKinnon’s globe-trotting job, Marlene and James would play in the woods every day. She had always been so vibrant and lively, climbing up trees and jumping across the rocks in the creek. It was a strange thought to think that she had become helpless, a victim.
He was so lost in thought that he was confused when the Hospital Wing doors swung open. But the movement extracted him from his reflection, and he noticed Dumbledore enter, Lily at his heels. Dumbledore, without even a hello, walked past the boys swiftly and entered the side-room where Marlene was being treated. The door closed tightly behind him, and that’s when Lily spoke.
“How are you guys?”
Sirius slid his face out of his hands and looked up at Lily incredulously. “Really? How are we? Wonderful. Never been better.”
“Whoa, Sirius,” said Lily, her eyes narrowing. “I don’t need your sarcasm. I’m not daft. I know where we’re all at emotionally, but I haven’t checked in with James or Peter since the duel was still going on, and I wanted to make sure they’re injury-less.”
Sirius gave her a fierce look, but slid his head back under his hands.
“I’m okay,” said Peter.
“We’re fine, Lily,” said James. “Where’s Remus?”
“In Dumbledore’s office,” said Lily.
“Without Dumbledore?” asked Peter.
“No, Peter,” said Sirius, dryly. “Dumbledore can now be in two places at once.”
“Sirius,” snapped Lily. “I know you’re upset, but can you stop taking it out on your friends? Your sarcasm isn’t helping the situation. In fact, it’s just making things worse. We’re supposed to stick together when things get shitty, but you’re trying to alienate us.”
Sirius stared up at Lily, his gray eyes unreadable. It was the first real argument that Sirius and Lily had had since becoming friends, but Sirius did not fight back. He stared at her, until she broke the gaze, looking back to Peter.
“I tried to get Remus to come to the Hospital Wing as soon as we got back to the castle, but he wanted to talk to Dumbledore. I went with him, and he worked himself up. He started yelling at first, begging Dumbledore to expel him or turn him into Law Enforcement. But soon he couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe. So Dumbledore gave him a cup of hot chocolate with a Calming Draught inside, if you can believe it. Anyway, Remus fell asleep in one of the chairs, and as soon as he did, Dumbledore went to go find Marlene. He thinks her condition is too complicated for the healers. He wants to move her to St. Mungo’s,” explained Lily.
“Condition?!” asked Sirius.
“Werewolf attacks are always dangerous, even without a bite,” said James.
“I know that,” said Sirius sharply. “But what does that mean?”
“We don’t know yet. I doubt the school healers know. That’s why they’re moving her to the Creature-Induced Injury Ward,” said Lily.
“This is insane,” muttered Peter.
Lily frowned, surveying the boys’ expressions: pain, anxiety, heartbreak. “Let’s go back to the dorms. I have some Sleeping Draught in my room. It’s not healthy for us to spend our time waiting.”
“You’re right,” said James, standing up. “And if Marlene’s being transported to St. Mungo’s, let’s take her stuff with us.” He gathered up Marlene’s cloak--lion badge still affixed to the front--and wand, but was surprised by the weight. He reexamined her belongings. In the pocket, there was a snake badge. He held it up.
“What is that?” asked Sirius, though it was clear. “Whose?”
“Must be Evan Rosier’s,” said James. “They were dueling when Remus and I found them...”
“Chased by a werewolf and she still managed to steal a badge?” asked Peter. “That’s dedication.”
“It’s not dedication,” said Sirius. “It’s Marlene. She’d give us nothing less.”
In a dark room, Marlene awoke to the sound of rain, the steady rhythm of someone near sleeping, and a distant radio program, with short, choppy announcers. She was nestled deep under covers, and though physically she had no desire to move her body, her mind was reeling. The daytime rain was casting shadows in the room, but it didn’t feel depressing; for some reason, Marlene’s first impression was that it would be a wonderful day to read.
As she came to more of her senses, she realized she was in a hospital. The radio program soon became recognizable as Healers’ walkie-talkies. And the snoring was coming from the woman who sat in the chair at her bedside.
“Mum?!” said Marlene. She had wanted to stay curled up there for ever, but the sight of her mother next to her had changed that. Marlene tried to wiggle free from the covers, but shooting pain across her abdomen prevented her. She gasped loudly, which woke her mother.
“Marlene!” she said, jumping from her chair and tending to her daughter. “Baby, it’s going to be okay, but you do have to let yourself heal up before you start moving around again.”
“Mummy!” said Marlene again, feeling strangely helpless.
Her mother’s face relaxed, and she took a seat on the edge of Marlene’s bed and stroked her hair. “Good morning, Mar,” she said.
“Why are you here?” asked Marlene. “You’re supposed to be in Surinam, not here.”
“I’m wherever my children need me,” said her mother. “I came as soon as I got word. I went to the Embassy to get the Apparation license... I came straight away. Your father’s still there working, but he’s going to try to visit this weekend.”
“What... you know what happened to me?” asked Marlene.
“The Headmaster sent his phoenix with an urgent letter that you were being moved to St. Mungo’s. I wasn’t going to let that happen without me being there. How are you feeling, by the way? Would you like me to send for a Healer to give you more potion for the pain?”
Marlene shook her head. She felt fine--like she needed to bathe--but she did feel fine. Except, somehow, she felt smaller, younger. Maybe because her mother was there. “What happened to me?”
“Well, we’re not quite sure. Some students at Hogwarts are being questioned for more information, but you were attacked in the Forbidden Forest,” said her mother.
There were shards of memories, mixed with feelings: following James into the brush and trying not to show her fear, sitting with Sirius in a clearing and fearing--but yearning for--a kiss, waking up with the relief of still having a badge affixed to her chest, the curiosity brought on by Evan Rosier sitting cross-legged, claws digging into her skin.
How was she supposed to make sense of those memories?
“By what?” asked Marlene. “What attacked me?”
“A werewolf,” replied her mother, trying to appear strong and ready for her daughter’s questions.
The answer didn’t surprise her, but it didn’t fit into her memory either. “Was I bitten?”
“No,” said her mother, though her eyes were filling with tears. “We won’t know much until we get all the information... and we will get the information,” said her mother firmly. “We can’t let you get hurt and not take action.”
“If I wasn’t bitten...” began Marlene, hating her mother’s tears.
“I’m sorry,” said her mother, grabbing Marlene’s hand.
“Am I going to die?” asked Marlene. It was the only answer, the only thing that could bring out a mother’s tears.
Her mother shook her head. Tears were streaming down her face, but she managed a slight smile, “You’re going to live a wonderful, wonderful life.”
“But what’s wrong with me?” asked Marlene frantically.
“Baby... There was so much blood loss... And poison was leaking into your body, but it was contained to one place... The healers had to remove it before it affected the rest of you... Marlene, honey,” choked her mother. “You’re unable to have children.”
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