I sat on my bed, growing more anxious by the second but somehow frozen. I couldn't convince my fingers to break the seal of the only letter I'd received my entire six years at Hogwarts. Had my mother seriously reached a level of clarity necessary to write me a letter? It didn't seem likely to me, but apparently she had.
It took me three hours. Three hours of picking up the envelope, flipping it around in my hands, and laying it cautiously back upon the bed as if it were highly explosive. At one point, Mel came in to check on me. I told her I was feeling a bit ill and not to worry. She accepted this easily, accustomed to my distance and unwillingness to share personal information.
When I finally worked up enough courage to open the envelope, I thought I would feel much better. In reality, my stomach sank even further, and it took me another half hour to take the parchment out. As I unfolded the letter, my hands began to shake violently. Before even reading it, I relished in seeing my mother's handwriting. It was elegant with exaggerated loops, all of her letters slanting slightly to the left. The cursive was exactly as I remembered it to be. It was the first piece of Mum I'd come into contact with since I was seven. I felt the overwhelming urge to cry again, but gathered myself and hesitantly began to read:
I miss you very dearly. How is your school work coming? Are you still at the top of your class? I'm sure your father is driving you mad. Please don't let him get to you; he means well. He just doesn't understand. He is doing his best, though, I assure you. I look at your picture every day. Your shining emerald eyes and hopelessly messy hair pick me up in the lowest of moments. I love you very much, honey, and I do hope you will come visit me soon. The staff here are pleasant, but they aren't my Finny, and the pudding is just dreadful.
There was so much in her words, and yet barely any substance at all. She was still hopelessly in love with my father, despite everything he'd done. I wasn't surprised, but after all these years it was still hard to read. She said little of her own condition, but I felt she must be improving if she was suddenly capable of writing to me. And...she wanted to see me. Of course I wanted to see her too, but how could I now? After everything I'd been through, all the time I'd spent trying to forget, to accept the way she was. I didn't want to allow myself too much false hope. I feared that if I let my heart break again I might find out I was just as weak as she was.
I remembered far too clearly the day I'd lost Mum, and I knew I never, ever wanted to feel that way again.
I lay on my stomach, face pressed against the itchy living room carpet. I had been drawing pictures all day. Usually, Mum couldn't get me to come inside until the sun was going down, but today it was pouring, so I'd had to settle for inside entertainment.
Mum was in the kitchen fiddling with her trinkets and speaking to herself in her usual way. I was completely unaware at the time because I was accustomed to it, but to anyone else, even a child, her behavior would have seemed clearly insane.
I continued to draw, imagining I was outside climbing trees or playing with the neighborhood children when I heard it. A loud crash echoed through the house, and I jumped from the floor to see what had happened. Mum often dropped things and on occasion threw them, but there was something different about this. It was louder, deeper, more ominous.
Upon entering the kitchen, my fears were confirmed as I found my mother laying on the floor, unconscious, her wand a few feet from her body. I shook her furiously, yelling at her to wake up. When she didn't respond, I began to cry, unsure of what to do next.
I ran back into the living room where my mother kept her muggle telephone. She only kept it because it was the single method in which my muggle father would allow her to contact him. I dialed his number, the only one I knew and waited as the ringing sounded on and on. He picked up on the fourth ring, and I began to sob into the phone, my speech inaudible through my crying. My father was not a sympathetic man, but even he knew something had gone horribly awry. He promised me he was straight on his way.
It was a half hour before Dad arrived, but the officials of St. Mungo's appeared at the door almost immediately. They pulled me away from Mum as I squirmed and wrestled them just to try to hug her limp figure. When my dad came in the house he entered the kitchen with the strange men and closed the door to prevent me from eavesdropping. When I pressed my ear to the wall, I'd reasoned they had put a charm on the room to ensure I didn't hear a word because all I could make out was complete silence.
Dad emerged from the kitchen. "Pack a suitcase," he said. "You'll be staying with me."
"But what about Mum?!" I shrieked at him, appalled by his impassive demeanor.
"Finn, we don't have time for this. Your mum needs to go away, so pack your things," he replied. Dad never was the most understanding. In fact, I was sure he was glad about what had happened to my mother.
In the end, Dad had to pack my things for me and was only able to get me into the car by carrying me out over his shoulder. He didn't speak the entire way home. I just cried and cried, periodically asking what had happened to Mum. I stared out the window, watching the rain pound upon the pavement as tears cascaded down my face. I didn't understand.
When we arrived at his house, he sat me down on the couch, and I pleaded with once more him to explain what had happened. He refused. "This isn't a matter for a child," he said sternly. He followed it up with, "Now, I don't want to see you crying, Finn. Your mother is what she is, and there's no sense whining about it." With this, he left me on the couch to sulk in my feelings of tragedy and befuddlement.
I gathered myself and stopped my crying as quickly as I could, knowing Dad would become angry if he reentered the room to find me still sobbing. I don't remember much after this, except for waking up later in my bed, my stepmother sitting caringly at its foot, while my dad was nowhere in sight.
I looked down at the letter in my hands now, once again feeling the tears welling up behind my eyes and immediately forcing them away. I hadn't cried since that day, and I wouldn't now.
A/N: I know that this chapter was severely lacking in the Fred department, but he'll make his return soon. Promise. Please review!
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