Chapter 4 : Too Perfect
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"Nice to see you Miss Dorcas." I looked up at the old man, squinting from the bright walls of the hospital wing. My own private room. It's usually reserved for Remus, but here I am. I rubbed the back of my head, feeling the bump that had formed.
"I heard you have an aversion to Miss Meadowes," he said. I eyed him scrupulously. Never one to trust this old man.
"That's true," I said, pulling the tight blankets off of my legs and torso. Pomfrey came over and pushed me back down, before smoothing the blankets back down.
"What am I doing here? I mean, I know I should be here, but why here?" They both looked at me in confusion, a look I'd never seen on Dumbledore.
"You know, in Remus' room?" Dumbledore nodded and folded his hands over his small stomach, as Madame Pomfrey stumbled away. Oh no, that was his important business talk stance. That's what he looked like when he told us about Remus. I guess I should go into the story about how the marauders and I met right about now.
It was first year obviously, and still wasn't talking to Harley, who had taken away my dolly that morning saying I had to grow up faster. My mother and father walked me over through the gate and onto the platform. We had apparated, but we all had to go one at a time, because mom wasn't feeling well and couldn't apparate on her own. I have a weird, messed up, detailed memory. I went on the train and was off all by myself, in my own little compartment. Well, I thought it was mine, until a Slytherin prefect came in.
"What's a little bitch like you doing in here," the older girl snarled. I know my mommy said that's a bad word.
"That's not nice. Apologize." She sucked air in through her teeth, and took out a small badge.
"Do you know what this is, little one?"
"Yes," I said proudly. Mommy has one like that at home.
"So you know I'm allowed to curse you, and say it was punishment for behavioral problems?"
"Well, no offense, but you're wrong. You can't do anything to a minor, considering you still are anyway. That's not a Head Girl badge, it's Prefect. The most you can do is dock points. Sorry for being in your compartment." I began to collect my things, not really wanting to cause trouble. She stood there in shock, looking absolutely mad.
"Oh, and you should probably take a brush to that hair. It's starting to look a tad bushy," I added.
Stupefy!" I heard, ducking for cover. I didn't feel anything and rose slowly. I turned around to face a boy about my height, with black, wavy hair, light blue eyes, a scar on his chin. and one canine tooth missing.
"What the bloody hell are you doing," the boy shouted. He grabbed my arm and tried to pry me from the compartment, but I wouldn't budge.
"Don't touch me. I won't move until you say you're sorry to her. That was my fight."
"Well, we both won't be saying anything in a second if we don't get out of here." I looked over at the girl, who was getting up, and looked back at the boy.
"Let's go," I said, wide eyed and particularly scared. I followed him down the corridor and into another compartment with three others.
"Hello," they said cheerfully. I caught my breath, not one for distance running. Or any running at all.
"Do any of you know what happened back there?" They looked up, then to the boy with the hair, and then back to me. One of them spoke first.
"Well, no but just to be safe, get the door Remus." The lankiest and friendliest-looking one stood up and swished his wand around on the doorknob. We sat in silence for a few minutes, until the door rattled.
"Sirius, I know you're in there! Just give me the girl and I'll leave," the girl said.
"No such luck, Bella-bitch. Go away or I'll sic Peter on you." There was one final bang on the door, and then more silence.
"So you're Sirius Black," I questioned. He put on this arrogant face and flicked his hair back. His face was all scrunched up, and he was basically looking at the wall.
"No, but what's wrong with your face." He looked down and turned red. The others burst out laughing and rocking back and forth in quakes. I backed away, they were certainly a strange group. They got their wits about them, and the spectacled one addressed me first.
"So, who are you?"
"I'm Dorcas Meadowes, but the Meadowes part isn't really necessary. Just Dorcas is fine."
"Dorcas," questioned the boy that saved me.
"Yes, that's the name," I said, not certain he was alright in the head.
"As in Meadowes?"
"Was I not loud enough?"
"You seriously don't remember me?"
"Well, I do from the last couple minutes in which we met. Do you remember that?" He shook his head.
"No, no! From the Pureblood Galas, at my guardians' mansion?"
"No I've never gone to any Pureblood anything. It's not really important to me, you know?" He looked offended.
"Did I say something wrong,'" I asked, directing my attention at the others.
"No. You didn't. It's just I was sure I've met you-" He stopped and got a dazed look on his face. I shifted my gaze downwards and there was more silence.
"Harley!" My head snapped up.
"What about her?" He was about to talk, before I cut him off. "And yes, before you ask, she's my sister."
"Yeah, well she used to come with your parents."
That was basically the whole train ride. After that I dozed off until we were about to depart for the boats. Before we left, they made me sign a form, promising I wouldn't tell on them or complain about getting hurt as long as they healed me. If I did, they would let me sit on the train with them. I agreed, because I had no other friends.
"Dorcas, please get dressed. Madame Pomfrey will let James escort you to my office." I sat up, propping my elbows on the pillow, and saw James waving at me from behind a desk. I rolled my eyes and got up, picking up my robes from the night stand. I ripped off the stupid little night gown I was probably forced into and put on the warm robes. I stepped out from behind the curtains and walked over to where James was sitting.
"What are you doing with Poppy's stuff?" I peered over the desk and he shuffled the papers around quickly, before tossing them in a drawer.
"Nothing, just checking out files."
"Not again! You got what, five detentions for that last time."
"Whatever, let's just get going." He grabbed my hand and we walked silently down the corridor. I always wondered which day I would find out why my parents took the plane that day. I always wanted to know why Harley didn't use magic anymore. I always knew something was wrong with me. James was holding my hand now? That's just not likely. Something's wrong.
"Do you know what's up? It's probably nothing serious," I said, laughing quietly. He didn't even flinch. "I most likely just hit my head on the table or something."
"Yeah, I know," he said. Although, not too convincingly.
He leaned down to kiss me on my head and walked away, leaving me standing there and pondering his behavior. I made my way up the spiral stair case, the gargoyles automatically parting for me. They usually teased and made fun of me. Today was different apparently. I opened the big door with one hand, letting the other dangle at my side.
"Nice to see you dressed and healthy. Take a seat, Dorcas." I sat slowly and carefully, holding tightly to the edges of my shirt.
"I'm here to be a caretaker, and a news bearer," he said, while walking around his office. He stopped behind his large chair and saw though me with those great sea-like eyes.
"Some would say it's not a good job. I'm not scared of embracing the truth like others, though," he said thoughtfully. He was truly talking to himself now.
"I love to watch others feel. Do you understand what I mean Dorcas?" I nodded in false agreement. Feelings are suffocating. "I can tell you don't know what I mean yet. In fact, you might never understand." He stopped there, staring me down. His own knuckles white from clenching the arms of his chair too hard. He released his grip and folded his hands over his periwinkle robes.
"I've failed again, Miss Meadowes."
"Sir? I spoke timidly at first. It was hard to find my voice. He had been sighing an awful lot during this meeting.
"Keeping these ghastly secrets have certainly burdened my past, and now my present." I tried to question, but Dumbledore's eyes held a conviction which I had never seen before. He deserved to be through with this.
"Your mother was a spectacular, bright young woman. You, who hold many similar qualities, are as well." He sat once more, and I realized I was not ready to face this. I've never known Dumbledore to be without words, and this was the first time.
"I am trying my very best to make this as painless as possible, for a girl who has experienced nothing greater than heartbreak. Alas, I have not learned from my mistakes."
"Please, stop, Professor."
"This needs to be done Dorcas. You must be the only person in the world who has been dreading it more than I." A couple deep breaths from my end, and the torture was continued.
"Disappearing is the worst thing can do at a time like this." I knew exactly what he meant now. I knew what he meant by past mistakes. Looking at me, this was almost the same as looking at my mother, telling her the same thing. I knew what was going to happen, before he even said the words.
My eyes rose up from my lap. He couldn't possibly be serious. My mouth quivered several times. A tear fell out of my right eye, sparkling under the fake moonlight. It was like there was a hole inside of me now, and the more I tried to fill it with happy memories, the more it grew.
"What do you mean," I said, slowly and deliberately.
"You are going to die, soon. Everyone will die, but your time is just running out faster. With more unfairness in the world than I can imagine, your youth is being snatched away." There was more silence, more wasted time.
"Would you like me to explain now?" I shook my head yes.
"It started with your great-grandparents, strangely enough." I said nothing once again, unable to choke on my words, afraid of what would come out.
"Your mother's side of the family has always been particularly gifted with magic. Not always with the most common sense, but still very strong." My eyebrows clenched together, trying to seal in my tears. They fell, cascading in river down my cheeks.
"Then why are we dying out? Why don't we live forever?"
"You're too perfect. Magic isn't meant to be perfected. We've tried Dorcas, those are the extent of my comforting words. And that, is my true regret." Wow, look at that. Death from being too perfect.
"Your mother's family has always died young. The youngest being nineteen."
"That was my grandmother."
"She was brave as you as well."
"They said she died in a battle with an enemy."
"She didn't. Many mysteries will remain unsolved about you. We are trying our very best."
"Tell me about my uncles."
"Your first uncle was supposed to be killed by an explosion. It did, for all intents and purposes, kill him. Your family has a planned time in which you are all supposed to die. That's way he didn't die until his brother's time. Twins go together." I bent my head down again, feeling a stinging sensation behind m eyes. This wasn't fair, this wasn't happening to me.
"How come you can't tell me when I'll die? If we all have set dates?" I was pleading, grasping for some sense of reality and control.
"Your uncles, they were rash. Brave, foolish. You can live as long as you want, but without magic. The day you turn eighteen, is the day I assume you must stop using magic." He pounded his fist on the desk, emphasizing must. I jumped as the table shook. Dumbledore looked pained, his sorrow painted on his face.
"What about my parents? How could my dad possibly have died?" I was excited, maybe they had the wrong girl. Fooling myself was horrible. I should accept this, I need to.
"That was a tragic accident, a muggle death. They could do nothing about it." They died on the plane anyway. I thought about it for a second.
"My mother couldn't apparate."
"Usually, patients will live past their life expectancy. If they don't use any magic." I covered my mouth, the tears coming freely now. I had no power of restraint left.
"Harley," I whispered, mostly to myself. That's all we were to them anyway. Patients. That word rang back and forth in my head. I was trying not to taste the salty runoff that came straight from my heart.
"If your dad apparated with your mother, she would have died. If your mother apparated with your dad, she would have died as well. There is no way I can make this situation okay for you."
"So it doesn't even matter!" I was screaming at Dumbledore, choking back tears as I went. He sat politely, but thinking back on it, I'm sure there was a tear there.
"If she died he would have killed himself anyway! And no one decided it would be a good idea to tell me?" I looked around, forgetting I couldn't talk to them. I couldn't scream at them and tell them how selfish this was. This wasn't fair. I couldn't yell at them, because it wasn't as if I would tell anyone either.
"When is Harley going to die?" Dumbledore shook his head.
"When is Harley going to die," I repeated.
"Your sister has been very fortunate," he said, trailing off. Leaving the rest to my imagination. I screamed from the top of my lungs. I tugged at my hair and held my own hand, because no one was there to hold it for me. My nose was dripping, and I felt disgusting.
"When will I die?"
"This disease is not the most predictable. We've had to do blood tests on your family for years to find out when their day would be. Your parents thought it best you not know. You mother didn't want you to end up like Harley." He paused and waited for my reaction.
"Approximations will do."
"Approximations will be misleading, Dorcas."
"Better than nothing."
"Everything is better than a lie." I stopped to think about that.
"What do you advise I do about the magic situation?"
"That depends, would you mind if I informed the teacher's about this?"
Yes!" He raised his eyebrows.
"I mean, yes I would mind, not yes, go ahead and tell them. Oh, you know what I meant."
"I don't know what to tell you about classes. You may continue regularly with Ancient Runes, Potions, and Herbology, but I'm afraid you'll have a little trouble keeping up with your other classes."
"I'll stay in my classes. Please, what do you think my age will be when it happens?" Dumbledore was giving into me. He would not deny me anything at this point.
"Probably three years." I breathed a sigh of relief. A lot can happen in three years.
"And if I continue using magic for the next two?"
"It's hard to say." I rolled my eyes, and let out a small whine.
"Dorcas, you will be disappointed if I mislead you. You need the blood work."
"I'll manage," I said.
"You can't do this alone, Dorcas."
"I won't tell anyone, but I do want to know. I want the tests." I walked out as calmly as my shaking shoulders would allow. Standing outside the door, I leaned against it and let the cool calmness overtake me. I heard a loud bang from inside and fresh tears came again. If Dumbledore was so shaken, should I be more so? My hand came over my mouth as I replayed the conversation in my mind. I was incoherent, unmanageable, and rude. They were all glad to get rid of me. I would disappear, it was easiest.
I took my time going down the stairs, drying my tears with magic, because I am a witch. How could this be hidden from me for so long? Lily would have figured it out. I am good at running away from things. This doesn't need to burden me as long as I don't want it to. I bumped into Sirius on the left out of the corridor.
"What's with you?" I was almost skipping in my fake happiness.
"Nothing, just happy to be alive." We slowed down to a fast walk.
"What did Dumbledore have to say? Are you alright?"
"Better than alright! He gave me a Special Services to the School Award for helping out! And I was right, I hit my head on the desk behind me."
"You sure you're okay?" My stride was more powerful coming out of the office than it was going in. I wasn't fine. I wasn't okay.
I cocked my eyebrow, smirked and said, "I'm so perfect, I could die."
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