And suddenly, everything was replaced by a harrowing numbness. My hands fell away from his sleeves, my mouth tried to form words, tried to form an argument, a response, but nothing came. I slumped back against the wall once again with tears slipping silently down my cheeks. And slowly, oh so slowly, my brain started functioning again, and my father was gone. The hallway wasn’t bleak and stretching and filled with shadows. It was a regular corridor, and everything was silent. The pieces were put together and I stood shakily, carried on down the corridor, slowly but surely making my way to my room. I collapsed on the bed, curling in on myself, eyes wide as I watched the door. I didn’t dare let myself blink. What if my father came back? What if he whispered horrible things in my ear again? I was shaken out of my thoughts by a soft knock at the door.
“Who is it? What do you want?” My voice was high and hoarse and strained. Weak.
“Hello, Lily. It’s Doctor Moon.” A soft, soothing voice came floating through the door. “I haven’t got a wand. I’m not going to hurt you. I just need to do your evaluation. Hailey came to find me; she said that you were having trouble in the corridor. I thought it might be better if we had our meeting in your own space… Can I come in?”
“Yes.” I whispered, scrabbling to sit up, and I scrubbed at my face as she entered. It was then that I noticed the cracking and drying blood under my fingernails.
She smiled softly at me. She was tall with short brown hair and bright, cornflower blue eyes. “As I said, I’m Doctor Moon, but most people call me Lily.” This made me smile in return. “I actually went to school with your father.” The smile faltered a little, but I managed to keep it up. But the way her eyes sharpened, I knew she’d seen it. “Would you mind if I sat on the bed?” I shook my head, and she made herself comfortable, the mattress dipping slightly under her weight. “Do you have a poor relationship with your father?” She asked, poised and ready to write.
“Yes. No. I… I don’t know.” My voice sounded pathetic to my own ears.
“Would you care to explain?”
“I… He… ignores me. He thinks I’m not as important as James and Al and the rest of my cousins. I know I’m not. If I was, he wouldn’t say the things he does.”
“The horrible things he whispers in my ear when no one else is around. He was the one who told me to cut the first time. He… He said he’d love me more if I did, that they all would.”
“I see… Did you ever see him? Did he ever visit you and tell you to do it?” She asked, jotting something down.
I nodded frantically. “If I skipped a lesson, he’d come into my dorm and make me do it in my room… and sometimes when I was wondering the castle I’d turn around and he’d be there.”
“Was it him you saw in the hallway earlier today?”
“Only after the voices. He sometimes visits after the voices and I think that he’s going to save me but he doesn’t.” I tugged at a hangnail, my eyebrows furrowed slightly. I shuddered at the burning, stinging tearing sensation it left as it ripped at my skin.
“What about your mother and your brothers? Do you have a good relationship with them?”
“Not really. Mum wants me to be like her when I’m not even if she doesn’t say it, and I don’t want to be, but everyone else does too so I try really, really hard to do it, but it never works out and they all get angry at me. And Al and James are both really good at what they want to do. They all got the best bits of Mum or Dad or the Aunts and Uncles so I can’t really relate to them on any level at all, and I never really speak to them. But none of them ever visit and say anything to me about the cuts or any of the other stuff.”
“Other stuff?” She asked, sitting up a bit straighter. “What other stuff?”
“I used to go to the Room Of Requirement at school and asks for drink and drugs and stuff like that.” I rubbed the pads of my fingers together, lost in thought.
“Did you do that often?”
“The drink and drugs was a monthly thing. I usually spent a whole night getting completely and utterly wasted on my own, taking a little more each time. I never did find out what my limit was…” I frowned a little.
She scribbled frantically, underlining something repeatedly. “Do you feel inadequate, Lily?” She asked.
I hummed a little, “I suppose so. I always thought of it like… self loathing.”
“Do you think about it a lot?”
“Do you lose sleep over it?”
“Do you not eat because of it?”
“Was this your first suicide attempt?”
She paused, “When was your first?”
“At school. I tried to throw myself off of the astronomy tower, but they’d put spells in place that meant you couldn’t fall at your usual rate after what happened to Dumbledore.”
She winced slightly, before following up with a variety of other questions, ranging from my capability at school, to how long my friendships had lasted, and to how much weight I’d lost over the past year or so. I answered honestly, because I knew something was wrong with me. I knew I wasn’t like my cousins, or my brothers, or my parents, and I honestly wanted to know what it is that I had. But just because they were going to figure it out, it didn’t mean they’d be able to fix it. Just because it was going to be found it, it didn’t mean that it was going to go quietly.
After about 3 hours, she stood, smiling kindly at me.
“Thank you, Lily. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. I’ll have your results in a day or two, and then I’ll call your parents in and we can discuss everything together.” I simply nodded.
She moved towards the door, but she stopped, hand resting lightly on the handle. “One last question. When you saw your father in the hallway, you said you thought ‘it was your turn to be saved’... What did you mean?”
I stared at the blanket on my bed, knees hugged to my chest and fingers picking at the stitching. “I meant that he somehow saved the entire magical community, thousands of people that he didn’t even know… and yet he couldn’t save me from myself. I just… I never really give up on him. I always hope that maybe he can somehow fix me, save me, learn to love me.”
Doctor Moon nodded. A tiny movement of her head, and she slowly opened the door and nodded towards me.
“Please sort out the cuts on her head.” And with that and a small wave she left and a nurse walked in, wheeling a trolley. She pinned my hair back so she could see what she was doing, and one by the one the cuts left by my nails were healed. My nails were cut, annoyingly stubby and short. And then she too was gone. The tray still sat in my room. As I lifted the cover I realized then that these were more of my personal items. Books, art supplies, my camera. All the stuff that I would’ve brought with me if I’d had the chance. And I couldn’t help but wonder who knew me well enough to put these things together for me.
I emerged from my room after finishing the book I’d been roughly three quarters of the way through before being admitted. It was a muggle book about various families, all of them fighting for the Iron Throne. I made a mental note to ask someone to pick up the next volume in the series for me. I somehow wound up in what I assumed was the rec room. It was all soft pillows, squidgy sofas and had bright beanbags littered everywhere. There was a wizvis, the wizards take on muggle television, in one corner, and the cabinet below locked tight shut. There were tables on the opposite side, one covered in paints and pencils, another in artsy crafty supplies and the final one in what looked like play-doh. It reminded me of preschool. I heard someone shout my name and I turned, scanning the room, eventually spotting Hailey sitting with a few other people. She beckoned me over and I sighed, walking sluggishly towards them.
“Are you okay?” She asked, “Doctor Moon said she’d get back to me, but she never did.”
“Yeah I’m fine. She gave me my eval in my room and then sent a nurse in to sort me out. Said she’d have my results in a day or two and that she’d sit me down with my parents and talk all this shit over with me.” I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, fiddling awkwardly with my hands as she stared at me.
“She did that with me too. It’s not so bad, really. They keep you in for a bit no matter the result, they just discuss how long you’re going to be here. Most of it’s decided by the Doctors so don’t expect an easy escape.”
I blinked at her. “I don’t want an easy escape. I want them to fix me.” The whole group looked at me then. “What?”
“Most newbies are in denial.” A girl with long black hair and a spatter of freckles across her nose said. “They say that there’s nothing wrong with them and that they don’t need to be here. I’m Cheyenne, by the way. Cheyenne Smith."
“Lily Potter, nice to meet you."
“Sit down and I’ll introduce you to the lot. In fact, we can have a little get to know session whilst we’re at it.”
I sat opposite Hailey, next to a boy with sandy hair and pale green eyes. He smiled at me before going back to staring at the carpet.
“Okay. You know me, Hailey Zabini, 16, Schizo. Go.”
“Cheyenne Smith, 17, bi-polar with a hint of depression. Go.”
“Zach Dobbs, 16, drug abuse and self harm. Go.” The sandy haired boy said, still staring at the floor.
“Florence Penrose, 17, best buds with Ana and Mia.” A voice to my right said cheerily, making me jump. I whirled, and there was a tall, brutally skinny blonde girl sat next to me who wasn’t there when I arrived. She was pale, and her hair wound down to her protruding ribs in soft waves. She smirked at me, eyes hard. “Go.”
“Lily Potter, 16, unconfirmed.” I muttered. “Nice to meet you all.”
“Nice to meet you too, fresh meat.” Florence said, throwing an arm that felt more like a twig around my shoulders. “We’ll show you the ropes. You joining this lot for music therapy this afternoon?”
“No thanks. I’m probably going to bed in an hour or so.”
“But -” Hailey started.
“Don’t push her. We didn’t push you.” Zach said as he tapped the tips of his fingers together at the same time, in the same pattern, over and over again. Hailey fell silent.
“How long have you all been here?” I asked, looking around at them all.
“Three months.” Hailey said.
“Four months.” Cheyenne said.
“Six months.” Zach muttered.
“A year and a half.” Florence grinned. I couldn’t help but stare at her. “I don’t want to ‘get better’. There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be perfect.” She said casually, as if that explained it all.
“This is why I was so surprised, newbie.” Cheyenne said sourly as she eyed Florence, lips pressed together in a thin, hard line. “Half the people in Mental Wards won’t admit that they’re just that. Mental.”