Chapter 3 : Now
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James barely glanced up from his newspaper. “Else, don’t worry so much. She’s a baby. She’s fine.”
Ignoring her husband, Elsie tenderly rubbed Grace’s forehead. “She’s warm,” she announced, “Do you think she might be sick? Who knows what germs there are at that day care. With all those little ones running around.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s probably just a cold. You don’t need to worry so much. It isn’t healthy.”
Frowning, Elsie took his newspaper, rolled it up, and whacked his head. James groaned and rubbed the spot she had hit. Playfully, he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her into his lap. He began to kiss her neck.
“James,” she laughed, “Don’t you have to go to work?”
“Don’t you?” he countered.
Elsie sighed. “I think I’ll keep Gracie home today. Just in case.” She twisted around and kissed his nose. “And I’m not worrying too much. It’s perfectly normal. I’m a mother.”
“You’re a wonderful mother,” he grinned.
“Go to work, Potter.”
“Yes, Mrs. Potter.”
Elsie giggled as she picked her daughter up from her highchair. After wiping the applesauce off Gracie’s face, Elsie gently put her back to bed, reading a story and singing a nursery rhyme.
“And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again,” Elsie finished, kissing Gracie’s red forehead.
James came home early, after only a few hours. His wife was not in the kitchen. He called upstairs, but there was no answer. As he began to climb the steps, he noticed a speck of red. Blood?
Terrified, he ran back down. In the kitchen, he noticed what he had missed before. There was a scrap of parchment on the table.
Took Gracie to St. Mungo’s. –Elsie
James was not too concerned. If it was serious, Elsie would have let him know earlier. He knew she would be frantic, though, and hurried to the hospital. He was shocked to find his father waiting for him in the lobby.
Harry looked relieved to see his son. “Al, Lily, Maggie, and I are here, but your mum’s still working. Mr. and Mrs. Horne are on their way. You got the letter we sent?” he asked, guiding James down the corridor.
“No, saw the note Elsie left. What’s the matter, Dad?” James demanded, “Why’s everyone here?”
Harry did not answer. He did not need to. At that moment, Elsie came barreling into James’s arm. Behind her, the ward door was cracked and James could see his brother and Elsie’s sister talking quietly, gravely.
“What’s the matter, honey?” he asked, “Is she really sick?”
Elsie nodded into his chest, spreading her tears all over. She could not seem to reply, however.
“Dad?” James tried.
Harry looked serious. “Gracie was coughing up blood, apparently. And, er, it’s-it’s fatal.”
James could not breath. A giant weight was crushing him. He held Elsie tightly. “I-is she already-?”
As soon as Harry shook his head, James pulled his wife in the hospital ward. Grace was lying on the only bed with Albus, Lily, and Maggie around her. They all looked up when he barged in.
“James-” Albus said.
James could not hear. He was too focused on the baby that was not breathing. He removed the yellow blanket so he could see her. A Healer was standing by, watching a monitor, and not saying a word.
“Gracie,” he whispered.
Elsie clung to his shoulder, sobbing. James did not move when Maggie carefully pried her sister off. He stayed frozen as Lily wrapped her arms around him.
“I’m sorry, James,” she murmured.
James did not take his eyes off the dying little girl. He let his family try to comfort them and let them grieve themselves, but he did not even notice them. All he could see was his precious daughter, Grace.
“She’s gone,” the Healer announced eventually, finally looking towards the family. “I’m so-”
James did not hear the rest. He had run from the room, ignoring his family’s calls to come back. He blindly raced down the hall, unsure where to go or what to do. How was it possible that his daughter was dead? Was it just this morning he had kissed her cheek and fed her breakfast?
James Apparated with no clear destination in mind.
“James, dear?” Hannah Longbottom asked, surprised to see him at the pub during working hours, “What-”
She quit cleaning the mug when caught sight of his tearstained face. “What happened?” she asked gently.
He could not bring himself to answer. After a long minute of silences, he said, “Firewhiskey, please.”
The day of the funeral was overcast, not terribly bright or dark, but to Elsie, it was as though the world had gone black.
It was just another piece of salt in the wound when Teddy and Victoire had to leave with their overexcited children and hurt even more when everybody offered their condolences. They did not know how it felt. They were just empty words.
Elsie had lost track of the days since she had watched her daughter take her last breath. It was all a haze. She did not know or care what anyone else did. Somebody was always at the house, bringing food or talking. Elsie no longer paid attention.
Somebody forced her and James into ridiculous black clothing. Then the couple was taken to the shadowy cemetery to listen to an unending service. Well over an hour on the tragedy of losing such a young loved one. The wizard who gave the speech had never lost a child.
Neither James nor Elsie bothered to hold back the tears as they watched the little wooden coffin lower itself into the ground.
“I’m so sorry,” yet another vaguely remembered friend murmured, hugging Elsie in a manner that was obviously meant to be comforting.
The speaker crept away when Elsie burst into tears. Why did this happen to her? What had Elsie done to deserve losing her beloved daughter?
If only she had taken her to the hospital sooner, Gracie might be there today. Elsie had failed and she lost her daughter because of it. Gracie had died. Why was nobody angry with her? Why were they all being so calm and uncomprehending?
“James.” Molly Weasley spoke this time. “Elsie. How’re you doing?”
James did not reply. Neither did Elsie.
“I know what you’re going through,” she tried, “I lost my Freddy.”
When they both continued to stare absently at the ground, she continued. “It is so hard. There’s nothing I or anyone else can say to comfort you, I know. Just know that we’re here for you. Let us know if you need anything.”
Elsie nodded remotely. “Thank you.”
Her tone was cold, not in a mean way, but an empty way. Molly was right; nothing could make her feel any better.
Molly kissed them both tenderly, wiping their tears before her own. She waved away some more guests, knowing that they could only make the situation worse.
“I’m sorry,” Elsie whispered.
James blinked. He blinked again. And again, finally remembering how to after so many days of doing nothing but downing firewhiskeys. Not eating, not sleeping, not talking. “You know it wasn’t your fault, Else.”
Elsie shook her head. “It was. It was all my fault.”
The tears were coming again, but she tried to blink them away. James wrapped his arms around her gently, rubbing her shoulder.
“Please, Elsie. It wasn’t,” he sighed, “Don’t blame yourself. Please, don’t.”
He was pleading. He was desperate for Elsie to believe that. He could not have Elsie believe that their daughter’s death was her fault. It was more than obvious to Elsie that she could only make things worse.
She would not ever believe what he said, but she could pretend. She could continue and find a way to survive. She had to, for James. He too had given up his sleep and anything he had wanted. Elsie realized he was drinking. He was just as broken as she was. He needed her to heal him.
He did not deserve this. He did not deserve to lose Gracie. She could not let him lose her as well. It was her duty. He would need her to carry on. She knew this. She knew he needed her.
It was the only thing that could possibly keep her going.
A/N Hello there! I hope this chapter shed some light on both James’ and Elsie’s perspectives. I tried to show how they each got to be the way you saw in the first two chapters.
I really want to know what you think. Drop me a line down below.
P.S. Harry Potter is property of JK Rowling, of course. I don’t own any characters. The whole wonderful world is not mine. Elsie is mine, the situation is mine, this story is mine. Otherwise, it all belongs to the amazing woman named JKR.
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