Chapter 21 : XXI.
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After what seemed to be several hundred years of silence, Albus’ father spoke up.
“What’s that you’ve got there, Lily?” He asked. His tone was soft and calm, unlike every other person in the room. He touched his daughter’s shoulder encouragingly and offered her a small smile when she shot him a nervous glance. My eyes flickered uncontrollably to the scar on his forehead. It was hard to imagine him – the ‘Chosen One’ who took down the Dark Lord – as a father, after seeing his name so often in my school books.
“It’s – it’s a necklace.” She stammered apprehensively, timidly glancing from me to Albus as though she expected something awful to happen between us - or to her. “I found it last year in Albus’ things – and I took it because I thought it was pretty... I’m sorry, Albus. I didn’t know –”
“Know what?” Someone snapped cantankerously from the far side of the room. “Who does the damn necklace belong to?”
“Yeah! Quit the bloody drama, and just tell us!”
“I know who it belongs to.” Lysander suddenly said, as he abruptly rose to his feet. I hadn’t even known he was there; let alone sitting beside Dominique and Louis. Louis smiled at me weakly, whilst Dominique just stared up at her boyfriend with a hard look on her face. It was as though she wanted him to sit down and shut up and continue to deny the truth, just as she did so well.
“Who?” She snapped, questioning him sharply. My eyes reluctantly flickered away from Albus’ piercing gaze to Lysander’s, fearing his response more than anything in the world. “Come on then, who’s is it?”
“It’s my brother’s.”
As promised, I returned the very next day. It seemed to me that it was inevitable that I did so, despite the number of tears I had shed the night before and how angry I had been at him for breaking my heart for what felt like the millionth time this year. I was too young, I told myself over and over again, to be so broken.
So I decided to fix myself – and us, all at the same time.
But, despite all my hopes and great expectations, the moment I entered the hospital wing, I knew something was wrong.
The fair hairs on my arms and on the back of my neck rose and a chilling shiver ran down my spine as I stepped across the threshold. My eyes flashed upward, in alarm, and immediately sought him out. He lay, as before, in the third bed along, only this time he was surrounded by people.
I saw his twin brother, standing down at him with an unfathomable expression on his face, as well as Dominique, two of her moronic friends and several friends of his. I concealed myself behind the curtain of one of the beds and watched how they all looked at him as though their hearts were breaking.
Dominique looked as though she had been crying. Her mascara had leaked and her eyeliner was smudged. Her eyes looked red. All of their eyes looked red.
“Take it easy, mate.”
“Hope you get better soon!”
“I love you.”
Hearing Dominique say it made the world tilt for one awful moment. My head swam and I had to clutch the wall to stop myself from falling. In that moment I realised what a terrible thing my love was. She loved him. He loved her. I loved him. And he – well, I didn’t really know, did I?
I watched them leave, concealing myself behind a curtain and fought the urge to be sick. I would not go to him until I was sure that they had gone, and weren’t coming back.
“Emmanuelle,” He whispered, before I had even unrevealed myself, “you shouldn’t be here.”
“Here is exactly where I should be.” I said as I drew myself away from the curtain and let my Slytherin robes fall to the floor so I stood comfortably in my thick tights and school uniform. He frowned and opened his mouth to speak, but I shook my head. I smiled, my whole heart yearning for him, and climbed into his bed. “Don’t say anything.” I whispered as I lay my head upon his chest.
Slowly, almost reluctantly, he put his arm around me. He was pale and he was cold and he was quiet – but he always was. He sighed heavily and I watched him wince before he closed his eyes.
“This is serious, isn’t it?” I murmured, my voice catching faintly, “It wasn’t just a Quidditch accident, was it?”
He shook his head.
“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong with you?”
Again, he shook his head.
“Do you love me?”
This time, he didn’t shake his head. He opened his eyes and he smiled – properly, for the first time in months.
“Of course I do.” He said, touching the top of my head, “Who wouldn’t love you?”
“A lot of people,” I whispered, ignoring the hard look in his eyes, “you’d be surprised at how many there actually are. Even I am somehow losing count...”
He shook his head and tightened his grip around me. I knew it was true, but I didn’t care any more. If I had him, then I didn’t need Rose, or friends, or family. I told myself that I didn’t need anyone if it meant that I could have him.
“Can I stay with you – tonight, I mean? I don’t want to be alone.” I saw him frown and it tore at my fragile excuse for a heart. He didn’t want me to stay; I could see it in his eyes as clear as day.
“It’s not a good idea, Emmanuelle.” He said, sighing softly as though he were tired of it – of me, and of everything I brought with me, “But if it’s what you want...”
It wasn’t the answer I wanted, but it was enough. I pressed my lips lightly to his and curled up beside him, my head resting upon his chest, listening to the slow heartbeat that reminded me that he was still there with me...
Two hours later, he started to burn up.
One and a half hours after that, his fever had yet to break.
And five hours later, in the middle of the night, he started to cough up blood.
His eyes told me what I had been hiding from myself for months: that I was losing him and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. He was sick, and he had been running from it since before we had even met.
“What’s happening?” I cried, touching his forehead uselessly as he convulsed and looked up at me with real fear in his eyes. “Don’t – I can’t – don’t leave me.”
My tears and his blood mixed into one as I buried my face into his shoulder. He clung onto me, as though for dear life, and whispered the same word over and over again like a prayer; it took me a long time to realize that it was my name, just my name. Emmauelle. He said it liked he needed me, like he knew what was going to happen – and I couldn’t let him let go. I wouldn’t.
“Someone – someone help! Someone – please help me!” I called into the darkness knowing that there was no way anyone could possibly hear me. The nurse would be asleep. Everyone would be in their beds, adrift in a beautiful world I would never belong in without Lorcan there with me.
He shook his head violently, tears running down his cheeks, and his bloody hands reached out for me. He pushed my long hair off of my face and pleadingly, he shook his head once again.
“Stay –” he murmured, and I saw the anguish so visible on his face that it made my vision falter. I wept, my head spinning, and dag my nails into my palms. “Stay here – with me.”
His eyes were closing and his breath grew even more ragged. I could see that I was losing him, and it was so effortless. He would disappear, snuffed out like the flame of a candle, and I would be unable to stop it.
His grip on me grew painful and as he cried out I began to scream. His fever had him shivering, despite how his skin burned and he twitched, violently, in spasms that were heightened as he convulsed and coughed up more and more blood. He had given up trying to stop it with his hands – hands which were stained red and holding onto me as though they would never let go.
Even though we both knew that they eventually would.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered, so low and incoherent that I was barely able to hear him. “I wasn’t enough. I should’ve – I should’ve been enough. I thought I was. But I’m not. I’m sorry – so sorry.”
“Stop it!” I cried, pressing my hand against his lips. They were trembling. “I love you – so much. You’ve made me happier than I ever will be. But don’t you give up on me – if you do, I won’t ever be able to forgive you. Fight it, Lorcan – fight for me.”
And with that, I lost him.
Even in the darkness I could see the light I loved so much leave his eyes. I felt him go, I felt his body grow frightfully still and I heard his final breath catch as it left his body. His lifeless eyes stared up at me and he was no longer the person I loved. He was a stranger.
The nurse came in fifteen minutes later and found me standing, covered in blood, by his bedside. She pried his cold fingers out of mine and told me to sit down and take a calming drought. But I didn’t need to calm down – inside, rather than in a panic, I was numb. I didn’t feel anything. Just a terrible numbness...
Dominique and Lysander were called out of bed, at two in the morning. Dominique’s hair was a mess and she had dark circles under her eyes. Lysander looked pale, almost ill, as though he had known that this day was coming. His eyes locked on me and something was exchanged between us that I would never come to understand.
Dominique wept and cried onto Lysander’s shoulder and screamed his name as though it would somehow bring him back.
And I saw it then, what I would have to do. The truth would be too painful for anyone to bear. That was what Lorcan had been trying to tell me all along. Dominique had loved him and he had loved her. He might have loved me but he hadn’t chosen me, and so, in the end he had always chosen her.
The nurse, finally remembering I was there, asked me what happened and I told her what Lorcan would have wanted me to say; that I was his girlfriend’s cousin, who came in to get something for a headache and saw that he was coughing up blood. I did what any good person would do. I watched him die and did nothing about it.
Dominique hugged me before I left, and told me tearfully, that she was sorry I had to see such a thing and that she was sorry I had lost my tutor. I almost laughed and only managed to hold it back by looking at Lysander’s face. His expression, so solemn and serious, reminded me of Lorcan so much that I could no longer bare the sight of the hospital wing. Everything reminded me and smelt of death. Everything reminded me of him...
I escaped, finally, and fled. I ran to where I know I would find refuge; the only place that would not remind of me him. To the only place he had not touched; the James Potter all-nighters in the Room of Requirement.
I was welcomed there like an old friend and there I would stay until I had managed to forget him completely and until I had forgotten that there was a time when I wasn’t alone, that once upon a time I had loved and been loved in return like in some sort of fucked up fairytale.
Lily Potter’s small arms found me just as I felt tears well up in my eyes. She smelt like flowers and held me as though I were a fragile, breakable entity. She drew away and smiled at me the same way Albus often smiled at me; with love, and an affection that was too honest to be false.
“I’m so sorry.” She whispered, letting me know through the simplest means that she understood. Her gift – or her curse, or whatever it was – let her into my head and she came out of it knowing me more than even I myself did.
She drew away from me, wiping away that tears that only she and I could understand.
“Em? Lily? What’s – what’s wrong?” Albus was slowly getting to his feet, helped by his father. I watched, through a blur of tears, as he winced and leant heavily on his father. I pressed my hand to my lips to suppress a sob. He was still broken. And I still could not fix him.
“Why in the name of bloody Dumbledore does she have Lorcan’s necklace?” Dominique snapped, her sharp tone enough to distract me. My eyes shifted away from Albus to her and I saw that she too was on her feet. She glared at me, her eyes full of such hate that it scared me.
“I – I am so – so sorry, Dom. I –” I began, only to be interrupted by Lily, who tugged at my hand impatiently.
“Don’t you dare apologise to her.” Lily hissed furiously, her bright eyes flashing as they passed by me and settled, angrily, on Dominique. “She doesn’t deserve it.”
“Excuse me? What the fuck are you talking about, Lily?” Dominique screeched, her nostrils flaring and her hand jerking away from Lysander. I watched him as he tried to calm her down and I saw her snatch her hand away from him once again. “Why does that bitch have something that belonged to my boyfriend?”
“Hey!” James exclaimed in alarm, abruptly rising to his feet too, “You better bloody watch yourself, alright? No one talks to Lily – or Em, for that matter – like that.”
“Bloody hell, James – can you just keep out of this, for fucksake!” Dominique exclaimed, “This is between me and Em, and Lorcan too, seemingly.” She had moved closer to me, hurriedly shifting around the table so that she stood facing me. I found myself shrinking away in fear of what she would do once the truth came out. “Now tell me, why the fuck did you have this necklace - and how the hell did Albus come to have it? I mean - did you just give it to him, willingly, without even sparing a single thought to the people who would have loved to have had it?”
“Give it a rest, Dominique.” Lily muttered. “It’s not like you cared about him at all.”
Dominique looked so though she was going burst into tears, or scream her head off – or maybe even both. She bit down hard on her lower lip, as if she was trying to stop herself from saying something she knew she shouldn’t. Lily, so small yet so strong, reached out and took me by the hand. She glared at Dom almost defiantly, and in that moment, she looked so much like her mother had in the hospital that it scared me.
“What’s going on?” Albus was still trying to stand on his own two feet, however remained leaning heavily on his father. His cheeks were flushed from the effort and his hair damp with sweat. He met my eyes for a brief moment, and I saw that the intensity still there, in spite of everything that had happened to us. I smiled faintly, inexplicably remembering the way he had looked at me – how he always looked at me – and the way he had fought for me, right from the very beginning. In that moment, when his eyes were locked with mine, Lorcan, for the first time in years, seemed very far away – as though my love for him existed in another life I was quickly forgetting.
Lysander cleared his throat, and I tore my gaze away. He frowned at me, and then, very slowly, he nodded his head. He answered my silent question, and I saw in his eyes that he understood. There was no way out of this – I would have to finally tell the truth.
Little Lily Potter’s fingers tightened around mine, and I felt a new batch of tears well up in my tired eyes. I couldn’t find the words. How could I possibly explain something that I had been running from for over two years? Where would I even begin?
“He – he gave it to me.” I murmured, unable to bare meeting Dominque’s harsh gaze. I stared at the table instead, and the beautiful, uneaten meal on it. “He told me that it had meant a lot to his mum, and that he was supposed to give it to someone special. And – and he gave it to me for my birthday – and -”
I looked at Albus, silently begging for him to understand. “And I loved him.”
I was still looking at him when Dominique lunged and slapped me hard across the face.
“And – and I think he loved me too.” Albus had closed his eyes, and James had gotten to his feet once again. He was shouting and Lily’s hand had slipped out of mine. It seemed the Potters were on my team. In any other circumstances, that might have made me laugh. But Dominique was screaming something, Lysander was too, and Lily looking at my face as though she thought I was somehow in pain – but I didn’t care. I couldn’t feel anything. Everything went still and beautifully silent, and for a moment, it was just me, alone in the world.
I remembered the day of Lorcan’s funeral, and how I had convinced myself that I couldn’t go because of what people would think, and what terrible things they would say and speculate. I wore black for two years for him, and I had stood, in the rain, hiding behind a tree, waiting as the last mourner – his brother, the person who he had loved most in the world – walked away.
I had sunk down onto my knees. My clothes ended up filthy, and I got a cold from sitting in the pouring rain – but yet, it didn’t matter. For a time, I didn’t care. Nothing seemed important in comparison to him. So, I sat in the dirt, touching the flowers and wistfully wishing I had brought my own. I was crying when Lysander came back. He had watched me for a time, probably wondering what I was doing, then cleared his throat and announced himself.
He told me, in a broken sort of voice, that he hadn’t been able to bare the ‘celebration of his life’ – because what was there to celebrate when a seemingly healthy fifteen year old, with the whole world in front of him, died unexpectedly in the night?
He had touched my hand. He had touched my hand, and I had cried because his was warm. His hand was warm, and Lorcan’s had always been cold. And I had cried because I had realised that I would never know – and never get the chance – to feel what Lorcan’s hand would have felt like if it had been warm like his brother’s.
I sighed and touched my stinging cheek. The numbness was gone. I tasted blood in my mouth. My neck had started to hurt once again, and my side burned. And where my cousin had struck me there would be a mark in the morning – yet another mark to take up residence with all my scars and all my bruises. All it was to me was yet another mark that would most likely show how damaged I really was beneath all of the lies and secrets I had spent my entire life putting up in order to to defend myself.
Dominique’s cold eyes were still flashing as Lysander dragged her away and Albus’ were still closed. I watched him frown, and I saw his father’s arm tighten around him as he slipped down into his seat, his feet finally giving way.
His mother glared at me as she moved out of the room and within minutes, returned with a vial of a dark coloured potion that Albus reluctantly down in one. I winced as he coughed and spluttered and wearily wiped his mouth, knowing exactly how he felt.
He looked so frail, so weak, so unlike the person I had found my world turning upside because of. I had done this to him – I had done exactly what I had known I would do; I had destroyed him.
But in a way, I suppose that we were all somehow broken, yet there was always a chance – if all hope was lost – of being repaired. Albus had put back together what Lorcan had torn apart, and I would do the same. I would undo all the damage I had inflicted upon him, no matter how long it took.
“We – we were seeing each other in secret all year. He didn’t want to hurt you, Dom – that’s why we never – that’s why I never told anyone I made him a promise, but – I guess I’m just too tired to drag all that around with me now. It’s been two years, and I suppose – no, I know that it’s time for me to let go.” Albus had opened his eyes, and was staring at me strangely. I hoped he knew it was because of him – and so much for him – that I was doing this. Why I was finally letting Lorcan go.
This was my road to joy, and all I needed was him.
That was all I asked.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I can’t tell you all how sorry I am. I am so, so bad. This has taken too long, and tis is pathetic attempt at a chapter, and my writer’s block has been appalling, and oh my god, I can’t. I haven’t updated in forever, and I am so sorry. This is not abandoned, even if it felt like it was. I’ve just had a lot going on, but it’s okay. I should be able to get time to continue this and hopefully do it justice, even if my muse is awful and writer’s block is a bitch.
Anyway, merry Christmas and happy new year!
And happy birthday to me, haha. My birthday is on the fifth (:
Song: No one's gonna love you - Band of Horses
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