Chapter 23 : A New Freedom
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- John Johnson
As I let out a scream that I didn’t even recognise as my own, I wondered how on Earth anything Muggle could feel so close to a curse. Oddly it was a comfort, anything that could distract the sound of my bones rattling through this process was a comfort.
“Anything?” sounded from my left. I didn’t hear the response – my scream once again dominated the room – but I heard the following reaction. “Fuck. Right, higher.”
You would think that it hurt more, but I could only feel the pain up to a certain strength. Because when you come so close to dying, your body begins to feel a sense of wonder. I embraced it because of high – the escape – that it gave. They needed it because it gave them something else –
“In an hour, when she’s recovered enough, we’ll begin.” Cheers and vague shouts, which I already knew too well from past viewings, came to me. Hunters all stood in a line, spinning their wands in the air and letting out whoops of excitement as they stared at me.
Draco leaned down towards me, and whispered in my ear –“
“No, where is it going!”
“Any longer and she would have died,” snapped a wheezy voice.
Suddenly, everything stopped and I hit the examination table with a hard thump. I turned onto my side to help hold myself together, finding more ease as the various pads were plucked from my body. Through my half closed eyes, Norma stared at me, repulsed. “Pathetic,” she seethed. “This whole damn thing –“ She stopped quite suddenly, and I reflected on the fact that she could show some warmth. But it was only the once, and it was a lie, so I was free to hate her again. “Take her back.”
I would have to be carried back – my body needed a good few hours to be able to move much, if at all. The door would swing open, and I would be laid down. It was then that I could sleep. Horrifically enough, all of this finally gave me some peace when I slept, like my nightmares were being unrepressed while they all encouraged them out of my body. I could sleep, and sometimes deeply, moving in and out of unconsciousness. That is, until finally they’d come for me -
“This is ridiculous,” shouted a voice from outside. They were always shouting here. “We’ve got the wrong girl, that’s it!”
“Corette said Marianne Walters was our girl,” retorted the second voice, who I had heard enough from that I knew it belonged to Jeremy. “So that’s the one.” Jeremy was always at the sessions, but he never really said anything. I harboured a theory that maybe he was doing it to disconnect himself a bit from my connections with it all, but he would be insulting my intelligence if that was his idea. If anything, it made him stronger in all of this. Not even good enough to get his hands dirty, rather watching on listlessly. I hated him the most.
“But we’re not getting anything. Squat.”
“What were you expecting? She’s not going to be handing out Visions every single day.”
Finally I banged on my door. “I am here, you know.”
“This much is safe to say,” Jeremy said as I heard him unbolt the door. “She’s got spirit.” As the door flew open, cocked his head to one side and added, “Though she doesn’t look it.”
“I just told you that I’m here.” And after a blink, which seemed to take the last of my energy, I rasped, “And you’re even looking right at me.”
“How are we feeling?”
I instinctively grabbed hold of my wrist. “The painkillers aren’t working. Though with Muggle medication, that’s hardly surprising…”
“We haven’t got anything better right now,” said Norma severely, revealing herself from just behind Jeremy’s shoulder. Considering my treatment here, any other relationship with her would just be puzzling if she showed any compassion outside of her work, the people who mentally beat me up every single day are hardly suitable candidates for friends. But I always hoped, to be fair from anyone I met here, but one day I see some pang of guilt. But not yet.
“Norma go…” Jeremy seemed to blankly stare for a moment. “Well I don’t know what exactly to do with you, but I want a moment alone with Marianne.” That was my own fault. Jeremy had tried to be friendly with me and assert what I’d rather be called. I tried to show attitude and say that I was whoever he wanted me to be. So I am now Marianne. Maybe that was for the best though – I wouldn’t wish this on Anne for the world.
After Norma stalked out, there was a long silence between us. It ma have been brief, but for me nowadays, every pause felt like a stretch, while every action seemed to go like lightening.
“I’m disappointing you,” I stated.
The dreams, all these fucking dreams were the cause of this. They went through my brain inside and out, searching my thoughts and watching my body convulse as the shocks they created were sent through me. My only peace would be immediately afterwards, when I was thrown into this cell, though I could hardly thrive while encased in grey stone.
“We could get you a better room, you know.” Jeremy had this horribly annoying habit of never really answering my questions. I was grateful for conversation, sure, it was better than the alternative, but I hated that I had no real idea what was happening. It was as if I was right at the centre of all the action, and yet pushed right to the edge of it at the same time.
“Can, but won’t,” was all I could retort.
“Marianne, we need to know that you’ve going to be responsive with this before we can give you more freedom –“
“You’d be surprised.” Now moving to sit by my side, Jeremy brought his wand out and began to move it in between his fingers. I didn’t know whether it was just a playful habit or threat, but I didn’t really know anything anymore. Just in case, I forced myself upright, grasping onto the side of the wall and hauling myself up. “We have to go through this. And until you’re ready to give yourself up as a volunteer, this is the way that we have to go through it.”
This had been asked of me quite a few times. And the same thought always ran through my head. Of course I could lie. I could completely surrender and agree, for some luxuries. But I’d run, I knew me too well to not think that I would. And something tells me that going against my word came at a much higher price than a few loud mouth comments ever would. All I could think of was to ask the same, dull question –
“What am I volunteering for?”
“That’s not important.” I knew very well that it wasn’t. This place wanted blind, absolute loyalty. You could see it amongst everyone who worked here. They may doubt, and they may oppose, but they all were in absolute agreement in their final goal, whether they agreed with it or not. It was all upside down to me.
“Is to me.”
Jeremy laughed. “I really wish you were a different house, you know? Gryffindors are so difficult.” The harshness in his tone then began to shine through. “But you’re not in school, Marianne, not yet.” In response to my immediate reaction, he said, “When we think you’re ready, we’d send you back. But we need to know –“
I was a seized by a small, though no less violent, coughing fit. Taking advantage of the attention, I deterred Jeremy from being able to finish his speech. “What am I volunteering for?”
“What am I volunteering for?”
“You’re going to use up what strength you have left, that’s not good for either –“
“If you tell me, I’ll say yes.” The moment I said it, I regretted it. But it was something about the promise that had been raised. He wasn’t just promising me a better room any more. He was going to give me freedom, if I chose to believe it. But when he replied, “Is that a contract?” I knew it wasn’t even worth it if I did believe it. It was freedom on their terms.
“Yes.” It was the only kind I could get.
“Are you familiar with Seers?” He looked at me for a moment, and when I didn’t respond, stated, “Of course you do, you took Divination. You hated the subject. Didn’t feel right to you.”
I could feel my skin growing paler, a grey tinge floating to the surface for two reasons. The first being that none of them had ever assumed any person details about it, let alone anything correct. I thought they were seeing just what was passing through my eyes during their sessions, but clearly not. And the second:
“Seers are born with those powers,” I said. “I’ve only been having these dreams for –“
“Some remain dormant, released at a stage of puberty or traumatic event. You’ve recently experienced both, haven’t you?”
I couldn’t deny it. Everyone had been saying how different I was looking. More grown up, healthier. It was a compliment, but now each time I heard it echoing in my memory, it felt like a blade’s slash. What was supposed to be the making of me was now undoing me completely. As for the traumatic event… “Cedric.”
“And the rise of the Dark Lord. That doesn’t just get forgotten.” He sat down besides me, though it was only then I even noticed that I had been sitting down again. “Seers are complex. They come in many varieties. And they’re rare, very rare. Especially your kind. You don’t come in riddles or codes. When you See something, you See it all. I’m sure a lot of people would be envious over that.” I looked at him blankly again. “This is a lot to take in, I get it –“
“They can’t happen,” I said abruptly.
Jeremy’s eyebrows arched. “Why not?”
“You’ve seen them. Everyone dies, or is close to dying.”
“Everyone will die.” It was supposed to be a question, but it seemed that I couldn’t even insult my own intelligence. I knew what happened in those dreams. Even if I never saw the ending, I could feel it, pushing against my mind with absolute urgency. In those dreams, everyone suffers, and there are those who dies. If those dreams are true, then so are the endings. I knew those all perfectly.
“I’ll get you a better room.” Jeremy jumped off the floor, and held out a hand to pick me up. “And you can get some rest. You’re gonna need it.”
But I didn’t sleep for hours after that conversation. I never wanted to sleep again.
A/N: So probably there’s a big bunch of people very prepared to hate me for the lack of updates. For that I am so sorry. RL just gets a bit whirlwind at times. However, I am back on the writing and hopefully this will be forgiven! Chapters will now alternate being first and third person, which I think a few of you will be happy about! Keep the reviews coming, they have been lovely - with a special shout out to waluigii who wrote a phenomenal one just recently.
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