I didn’t want to leave him. Then again, I didn’t want to stay in a place where I would feel guilty. My dad needed me with him.
And so I went home. I left the castle without looking back, without kissing him like we both wanted. And I knew he wanted it as much as I did, if not more. The way he held me as though he didn’t want to let me go, the way he closed his eyes and waited patiently. But I couldn’t. How could I turn such a solemn event into something breathtaking? How selfish would it have been to find some kind of benefit to my pain and grief? It would have been extremely stupid to forget all that had happened that day, to be taken away by a kiss, but is it bad of me to want it still?
My father and I began to pack away our belongings as soon as we arrived home. The Ministry had quarantined off an area in the kitchen so I guessed that that was where they found her. And she was all alone, something I hated my father for despite the fact that he looked like he wanted to die also.
He had found us a new home by the coast, where I could see the sea from my bedroom window, it was a small flat with two bedrooms, a small kitchen, bathroom and living area; it was nothing special. I suppose he had dug out all of the savings in order to move us out so quickly. My room was green with a bay window and window seat, a small bed and a wardrobe, everything you needed.
On the second night of our moving house, we ate dinner in silence, some crazy concoction my father had made up. He was never a good cook, so I made the decision to take on the meals before he poisoned us.
I moved the mush around my plate. “I’ll cook from now on, Dad.”
Without looking at me, he removed himself from the table and went to his bedroom, slamming the door as he went. What had I done?
But I found out hours later. In the night, I heard him crying. And not only was he crying, he was screaming, bawling, aching. He punched something at one point, so I rushed in, turning the light on. I ran to his side. There was a huge dent in the wall.
“Dad, it’s okay,” I tried to tell him. It worked when Neville said it. “It’ll be okay.”
“Hannah, go back to your room.” He tried to hide his red face from me but I sat down on the bed beside him.
“No. I-I want to stay.”
“Well, I don’t think that …” He shuffled around the bed and stood by the window entranced by the black waves as they sprawled over the sand lazily. “Did you know your mother always wanted to live by the sea?”
“Yes, she told me.”
He shook his head. “And did you know that we never wanted children?”
My heart seemed to dissolve somehow and I felt as though my insides were empty.
“Why would you - why are you telling me this?”
He shrugged. The heartless idiot shrugged.
“Dad, look at me.”
He didn’t move or even try to.
“I knew it,” I said, hurt. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to look at me after this. Is it my fault that I look exactly like her? Did I ask for things to be this way?”
“Nobody asks for the sorrow they get in life.”
“So I have to pay for it? Dad, we’re supposed to be getting through this together. What happens when I go back to Hogwarts and you -?”
“And who said you’ll be going back to Hogwarts?” He folded his arms and continued to gaze at the moon.
I stood up. “You can’t stop me from going.”
“As long as you are a minor, I can tell you what to do. You can go back to hand in your assignments and do your exams. But after that -”
“You mean, I can’t do my seventh year?!”
“Maybe you can do it from home o-or -”
“Are you serious?! Not only is my mother taken from me, my education is too? And my friends?!”
“I don’t give a damn about your friends!”
“And it seems you don’t give a damn about me. I want to go back!”
“I don’t think so, young lady.”
“When I turn seventeen next August, you can’t stop me!”
“Watch me,” he uttered darkly. “I will not have my daughter go to that school. Things are getting dangerous and it’s about time you paid attention!”
I hated him. I really hated him.
“I don’t care,” I told him plainly.
Then he watched me as I made my way out of the room.
“Get back here!” he yelled after me. “I’m not finished!”
“I thought you wanted me to go to my room!” I shouted back as I reached it.
I slammed the door and locked it.
“Come out here right now!” he shouted. “Hannah Elizabeth Abbott, you open this door right now, or so help me, I will open it myself.”
“I’d love to see you try,” I muttered from inside, in tears.
“Do not test me!”
“No, really, Dad, I’d love to see you do it! I want you to!” Pulling on a jacket, I found a backpack and stuffed it full of parchment, a quill, my wand (as a precaution) and a bottle of water.
Dad’s footsteps bounded down the corridor to his room, where he was no doubt locating his wand. As his footsteps came back, I put on a pair of shoes, pushed open the window and dropped down into a nearby tree.
“Hannah!” I heard above me.
Head out of the window, he watched as I climbed down, ran alongside the houses and the beach to a place far away from him.
I had fallen asleep in the sand. The grains were all about my face, the water wetting my feet. Sitting up, I rushed away from sight before the sun began to rise.
From afar I saw a bird - an owl, if I was not mistaken - so I whistled. None other than the family owl, Periwinkle, came down to me after an evening hunt, his beak active and delighted.
“Hey,” I muttered to him, yawning. “Could you do me a favour?”
He waited patiently on my arm.
“I need you to take a letter to Hogwarts for me. To Susan Bones. Hopefully you can get it to her by breakfast, in the Great Hall. You sit here and I’ll write it quickly.” Periwinkle sat beside me, busying himself with rustling his feathers while I wrote a few paragraphs:
The funeral is next week. My grandparents have sorted it apparently and it’s going to be a real quiet affair. I’m sorry but I don’t think you should come even though I know you wanted to. My dad probably wouldn’t let you. And that’s the other thing. We’ve fallen out. We barely talk and we argued last night. I’m writing this from the beach! We moved house and with that comes a move in his attitude towards me. He hates me because I look like her and I hate him because he says I can’t ever come back to Hogwarts. Well, I’m allowed to come back for exams and that’s it.
Anyway, I want this note to be quick. Please let me know how you are and update me on school and everything. I’ll be doing my work from home so it’ll be a little less exciting. Let me know how Zach, Ernie and Justin are. And Megan, Isobel and Leanne. I miss them all.
One other thing - I know this is a lot but, could you somehow ask Neville for his address so I can write to him over Christmas? No, it isn’t what you think, but I left things on a bad note and I want him to know that there are no hard feelings. I guess that he will be going home for Christmas and it’s too soon for me to send a letter for him to the castle now. Do that for me and I will love you forever. Not that I don’t already. You’re my best best friend and somehow I have to live without talking to you properly. As soon as school is out in summer, we will meet up, but for now, I guess we will see when my father allows me to go back to Scotland.
I miss you more than you can imagine.
Rolling it up, I attached the note to Periwinkle, repeating the instructions to him. He flew away into the sunrise as I decided that it was time to return home; I was hungry and could do with some breakfast.
When I got back, my father pretended that last night did not happen. That was better for me. We ate breakfast together silently as he read the Daily Prophet to himself. I wondered whether he knew I would return or whether he was actually worried that I had left for good? He probably knew that I wouldn’t go too far; despite our problems, we knew each other well.
When he had finished ignoring me, he pointed to a huge package on the dining table.
“That came from Hogwarts. Some work for you to do.”
Picking it up, I muttered, “I’ll get right on it.”
I took it into my room and laid on my bed, crying a little. We were all good before she left. We were kind of happy. But now our family was falling apart and with it my sanity. I didn’t think I could possibly bear all of this unresolved hostility. So, instead of calling him up on it and ending up in another argument, I got straight into a Transfiguration essay, trying to keep myself busy.
A few days later, I got a reply from Susan. She was doing alright and I was glad, but I also noticed that what I had asked for was missing.
The one thing that you didn’t write in the letter was how you were feeling. How are you? I can guess, but I want to know how you are coping. You can’t avoid talking about your mother forever so you can at least write it down for me.
Also, I am so upset that your father is being that way. I had hoped that you would return for good at some point, but I guess I will have to learn to live without you.
I’m alright at school, but I miss you so much. It’s not the same talking with the other girls and your empty bed makes me sad every time I’m in our dorm so I usually stay in the common room until the last moment. Zach finally admitted how much you keep Ernie and Justin in check. Justin has been a bit quiet without you and Ernie is so upset. He hasn’t spoken to us since and didn’t turn up for a few of his lessons. He got a detention from Snape for ditching.
Sorry, I haven’t been able to get to Neville yet. I just got this at lunch and I’m writing this in the Owlery before I go to class. He’s been a bit low too. What happened when you spoke to him? I could guess but I know you would disagree with my theories. I’ll say them anyway: I think you like him. Either way, I know he likes you. I caught a glimpse of him this morning and he looked terrible. I’ll try and get his address for you but I don’t know when.
I hope the funeral goes well and I can’t wait to see you.
There was Susie going along and finding her own conclusions. I wasn’t sure whether I liked Neville in that way. But I did want to kiss him. I just needed to speak with him, to apologise, to tell him that I am okay and not to worry about me.
I quickly wrote a reply:
You need to get that address. For your information, I want to apologise to him for something I did. I’m sure I hurt his feelings and I want him to know that I’m sorry. Especially now that I don’t know when I’ll be returning to Hogwarts. Seriously, try to talk to him by the end of the day. Try. For me.
I sent Periwinkle right off, deciding to curl up in bed until I got her reply.
My father knocked on my door.
“Hannah, you need to eat,” he called, annoyed.
Rolling over, I checked the time. I had slept through the whole day and into the next evening. It was after six.
“Not hungry,” I replied.
“Periwinkle’s got a letter for you.”
I shot out of bed, nearly stepping on Fudge as he curled up on my rug and ran out into the corridor and to the kitchen.
I made to grab the letter off the table, but he picked it up instead.
I heated up a small bowl of soup and ate it fast, my eyes on the parchment in his hands.
Swallowing the last spoonful, I asked, “Can I have it now?”
“Have you finished all of your work?”
“You can’t stop me from reading a letter from Susie.”
“Have you finished all of your work?”
“Do you realise how much there is in there? I have enough essays to last me until after Christmas!”
He watched me carefully and then slowly handed me the letter. I grabbed it and threw myself down onto the sofa in the living room.
I did it. Attached is Neville’s address. I cornered him outside the castle after dinner. He was going for a walk by the lake. And you’re right. In a few weeks, he’ll be going home for Christmas like a lot of people (I’m staying and so are the others). He scribbled it down for me and thanked me for approaching him. And I don’t care what you say, you must feel something for him. The poor guy looked a mess. And I know he likes you, Hannah, I know it. You don’t have to tell me what happened between the two of you for me to guess that it was something major. I hope you tell me one day.
Please, please promise me that you will take care of yourself. You still didn’t tell me how you were so I hope you’ll be able to talk about it someday.
I’ll write soon.
I unfolded the other bit of parchment, looking over Neville’s familiar slanted handwriting. He lived further up north. Tucking his address in a book, I tried my hardest to wait until he was home, until he was away from others who may want to look over his shoulder. And yes, that meant that I did not trust that his roommates would not to go snooping. I couldn’t write now.
Days passed and so did my mum’s funeral. There was no way to describe it. How was it a goodbye if you couldn’t say it? Everything was belated and it meant nothing. She would never know about all the things we said about her, would never know how sad we were.
As I sat in my bedroom weeping some more while a mixture of my muggle and magical family members mingled in the other parts of the house, I noticed my father by the beach. He was spreading her ashes into the sea without me. I had a right mind to march right down there and tell him how angry I was with him, but I couldn’t. I daren’t. He’d probably punish me. It wasn’t like he hadn’t hit me before.
Instead, I ignored my grandmother asking me to come out and eat something and pulled out a fresh roll of parchment.
When I first began to write, I broke the first quill. It was my favourite one too. Cursing, I reached for another and some ink and wrote:
I’m not quite sure whether I should start by apologising, so I’ll write it anyway: I’m so sorry. A huge part of me didn’t want to leave but the logical part of me told me to stop being selfish and to go.
I live by the sea now, Neville. I see the sun rise every morning and I see it set. It’s a beautiful thing. And not many things are these days.
My father ignores me, my grandparents are becoming dictators and I feel like I don’t know myself any more. I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I miss her.
The funeral was today. It put some perspective into life, you know? On the one hand, I feel as though I should live life to the full because you never know when it’s over, but then, sometimes, I wonder whether it is all a waste. Why do all of these courageous things when it all amounts to nothing in the end?
Yes, all things do indeed perish but what does that mean for us, for humans? What, we are supposed to go along content with life and things, people we encounter, knowing that it all means nothing? Or do we know this and make sure that the things we do are worth something? I just don’t know. I thought you could help me.
I wonder whether we can change some things or whether some chances have come and gone and can never be encountered again, because I really want to go back and redo certain things.
But the one thing I do know is that I miss Hogwarts. I miss being there and the feeling it gives me. It is a second home, a place of safety and love. I want to be there right now rather than here where my decisions are made for me. There, I am free and able to be me without even thinking about it. But I guess that’s what my father doesn’t want.
Anyway, Neville, let me know how you are.
Dating the letter, I decided to wait before sending Periwinkle.
I realised that I did like Neville - so much more than I cared to admit. I had written those things in spite of myself. I told him that I missed Hogwarts but every one of those reasons could be applied to him. I missed being in his arms, I missed the feeling he gave me, that warm feeling in my stomach, that brave feeling. Being with him felt like a home away from home, somewhere safe away from my dad. Being with him made me feel loved …
I could be me around Neville. I didn’t have to adapt to him like I did with my other friends or family. I was just Hannah.
But I guess he would have to wait until I was ready to tell him how much I wanted to be his. Neither he nor I knew how long that was going to take.
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