Chapter 1 : Charlie's Plants
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"Time heals all wounds."
In Louis Weasley's case, these words were not true. It had been a month since Charlie Longbottom's death, and Louis's grief had gotten worse as time progressed.
Louis was completely out of sorts, which was beginning to worry his loved ones. At three and a half weeks, Louis should have been eating regular meals again, sleeping most nights, and speaking. But it was a full month now, and instead he was silent ninety-nine percent of the time, ate only when someone forced him to, and rarely slept for a full night.
He'd lost the one person he'd ever loved with all his heart, more than life itself. There was nothing that could ever make it okay again. Carter Longbottom, Charlie's younger sister, and Rose Weasley, Louis's cousin, took him into their flat immediately. They knew he couldn't survive in the flat he used to share with Charlie because he'd be even more of a wreck, and they also wanted to keep an eye on him for his own safety.
Rose and Carter glanced warily at Louis, who was wearing yet another long-sleeved shirt. It wouldn't have mattered so much to them what he was wearing if it hadn't been the middle of summer.
"Louis…" Rose said slowly and calmly, in a warning tone. "Why are you wearing a long-sleeved shirt again? It's hot." The girls looked at him curiously, awaiting an answer, but Louis sat there silently, staring at the plate of food in front of him that was starting to go cold.
"Lou… Please eat." Carter nudged his arm gently and kissed his forehead.
Louis ignored both of their remarks, something he'd been doing to everyone lately. He hadn't really spoken since Charlie died, nor had he eaten or slept much. They somehow had managed to keep him hydrated, despite his constant refusal to eat anything, but he drank water to stay alive.
He wasn't sure why they'd wanted him to. If they wanted him to be okay again, if all they wanted was for his own good, then they would just let him die, slowly and painfully, like Charlie had. Then he could be with him again. He wouldn't have to live without him.
The lack of Louis's tears thoroughly surprised everyone. They couldn't remember a time when he'd cried once since Charlie's death, and he'd never been left alone by anyone, once again, for his own safety.
"Louis William Weasley," Rose said as calmly as she could, though her patience was running out. "He would want you to eat. He would want you to sleep. Hewould want you to carry on with life, just like you would want for him if this happened to you!"
Louis listened to Rose's words, and the truth in them stung; his eyes brimmed with tears for the first time in a long time.
But instead of replying, he only said one word: "Longbottom."
"What?" Rose and Carter asked in unison; neither of them understood.
"Longbottom. Louis William Longbottom. We did it." Louis's voice shook as he said his last sentence; he pulled something small, round, and silver from his pocket – a wedding ring.
"You got married?" Carter asked quietly, knowing how hard this was for Louis to talk about, especially as he had not spoken about anythingin a long time.
Louis nodded. "It wasn't big. Just signed the necessary papers and went home to… celebrate."
Rose and Carter didn't act disgusted, as they normally would have, had Charlie still been alive.
Louis nodded, as if to signal that he would now go back to silence for a long time.
Rose looked at Louis's sad, yet empty face, the wet blue eyes that showcased every emotion he ever felt, the dirty blonde fringe that almost covered those beautiful eyes. Louis always used to be laughing. He was always happy with Charlie; it was like he was high on love and happiness, and nothing could ever bring him down. It was obvious that Louis had never loved anyone more than Charlie, maybe not even his family. When Charlie died, Louis's entire world had shattered. It pained Rose to imagine if it had been her who'd lost Scorpius like that. She shook her head. It wasn't time to dwell on the things that could have happened. It was time to focus on helping Louis through what had happened.
Carter noticed beads of sweat had begun to gather on Louis's forehead, and there was a small spot on his chest that was beginning to dampen as well.
"Louis… You need to take that shirt off… The Muggle couldn't fix the air conditioning, or whatever you call it. Please take it off. You'll overheat." Carter moved to tug at the sleeves, but Louis made a sort of choked yelping sound and nearly fell out of his chair in attempt to move away.
"Louis!" Rose said sharply. "What the bloody hell was that?"
"Don't touch me." His words were like knives, fast and cutting, deliberate and dangerous.
"Louis…" Carter couldn't find the words to say.
"Louis. Take off the damn shirt." Rose hated to be firm with her cousin, but sometimes she'd have to put her foot down, such as now.
Louis scowled at both girls. "No."
"YES!" Rose demanded, pulling at it again. "It – isn't – healthy – for you – UGH! Louis!"
"Fine! Do you want to see?" he practically screamed, startling the girls thoroughly; they hadn't expected him to lose it like this.
Louis ripped off his shirt, nearly tearing it in the process. He showed Rose and Carter his forearms, and they gasped loudly, not expecting to see what they saw.
Louis's arms were scabbed and scarred, some cuts fresh and somewhat deep while others had become dark red scars, memories of past cuts.
"I can't do it anymore!" Louis screamed through the hot tears that had begun to fall. A memory surfaced in his mind, one of himself, sitting in the loo alone, making cutting motions with his wand and watching the invisible blade rip open his flesh.
"I can't live without him! Nothing will ever be okay again, just face it! I'm not going to heal. I'm only twenty-seven! I wasn't supposed to lose him this young. Rose, Carter, you and everyone else have been trying to make things better, but nothing will ever help. I can't live without him. He died, and he took part of me with him. I WANT TO DIE. Don't you get it? I don't even want to get better! That's all anyone thinks that I need! To get better! I don't even want to. I want to dieand if nobody lets it just happen, I'll do it myself."
Louis collapsed onto the floor, breaking down into racking sobs, letting out all the emotions he'd been locking away for the past month since Charlie's death. Rose and Carter crouched down and held him in their arms, as tears slid down their cheeks as well.
He'd always loved his damn Plants too much for his own good.
Louis told him he'd turn into one of his Plants one day. Charlie had laughed and kissed him.
When he died, Louis wouldn't let anyone stop him from going to the greenhouse behind their flat and tending to his Plants. It was the one thing he continued to do. The Plants were Louis's last connection to him, and he wouldn't ever let them go.
He never let anyone go into Charlie's greenhouse with him. He insisted that he only went in alone. It was his and Charlie's special place, and it held the most precious memories in the world – Charlie's Plants.
Although everyone knew Louis scarcely talked after Charlie's death, he would talk to the Plants every time he went to visit them.
"Look at me, Charlie," he'd added one day, his eyes filling with tears. "I'm sitting here talking to your bleeding Plants, just like you."
One day, he walked into the small greenhouse, breathing in the organic scent of flowers and plants of all species, shapes, and sizes. Louis had never liked Herbology until Charlie had gotten him hooked on it. Now, he loved these Plants more than anything in the world.
On this particular day, Louis had a goal in the greenhouse. He had a project he was working on, so to speak, one that would hopefully result in his favor. It would take a month at most, and three weeks had already gone by. Louis consistently went to the greenhouse every day to tend to the Plants and keep an eye on his project. He never told anyone of the project. No, he could never tell anyone about it, not till it was finished.
At this point, it had only been two weeks since Charlie's death. Louis's arms were smooth and clean; he hadn't begun the cutting yet, though that was only a week away.
Louis smiled to himself for the first time in what seemed like forever. His project was going as planned, and it seemed like it would be ready a few days ahead of schedule. He couldn't remember a time since Charlie had died when he had actually looked forward to something with anticipation and hope.
When Rose and Carter knocked on the greenhouse door, Louis's smile faded. He knew they wouldn't approve of his project, which was another reason he was keeping it to himself.
He put away the tools he'd used to tend to the Plants, and stood up to brush the dirt and stray leaves off of his clothes.
He slowly approached the door, sighed, then opened it to see Carter and Rose looking slightly concerned. He closed and locked the door behind him, slipping the key into his pocket.
"You alright?" Rose laid a caring hand on his shoulder. He brushed it off indifferently and nodded.
"You know, I always told him flowers don't kill, but no, he had to go for the bloody killers," Carter said with a weak laugh. Louis tried to crack a small grin, but his eyes threatened to leak once again.
Charlie was always especially interested in his poisonous Plants; he loved to study the effects of their venom. His investigations hadn't always gone in his favor, though, and he'd ended up in St. Mungo's more than once for touching plant poison. Louis thanked Merlin every time that Charlie had never been infected by any venom, but he was always very wary when it came to Charlie's experiments.
And of course, after all the times of getting lucky, Charlie hit a stroke of bad luck. One afternoon in his greenhouse, he was studying a particularly aggressive Venomous Tentacula, on Ministry business, of course; it is widely known that the possession of one of these plants is highly illegal. In a split second of carelessness, Charlie turned away to take a note, and – the plant had wrapped its feelers around Charlie and sunk its fangs into his arm. Charlie had managed to throw the plant off of him and hex it before it could suck any of his blood. But it was too late for the venom – it was already traveling through his system. They got him to St. Mungo's, and the Healers there did everything they could, but the poison was already beginning to affect him for the worse. It was only a matter of time before he died.
Carter's remark wasn't funny in the slightest, but Louis didn't want to make her feel bad.
As the three friends prepared to Apparate back to their flat, Louis looked back at the greenhouse one last time.
Only two more weeks. He hoped he could last until then.
Louis stood up and shook Rose and Carter off of him.
"Where are you going, Lou?" Rose asked, wiping tears off her cheeks and watching Louis walk to the door.
Louis didn't answer; he opened the door and started to walk out, leaving it ajar. Rose and Carter hurried after him, only to watch him vanish into thin air.
"Where the hell is Apparating to?" Carter exclaimed, looking to Rose for an answer.
"I know." Rose gave Carter a shrewd look. "Charlie's greenhouse." Rose grabbed Carter's hand and Apparated them.
When they landed in the grass behind Charlie and Louis's old flat, they ran to the small building that they knew Louis would be inside.
When they got to the door, Rose yanked it open – and Carter screamed.
"Hello?" Louis's voice echoed around the bleach-white area that seemed to go on forever.
"Charlie?" Louis blinked twice, but that was surely Charlie standing there, looking so breathtakingly beautiful that Louis couldn't believe it.
"Yeah… It's been a while, eh Lou?" Charlie winked and gave Louis a cheeky grin.
Louis ran to Charlie and squeezed him tightly, sobbing and saying "I love you" over and over again.
Charlie tilted Louis's chin upward and pressed his lips to his. They poured every ounce of love they felt for each other into one act of love.
"I missed you, Louis. It sucked here without you."
"It was pretty sucky where I was, too, love."
"Well, it sure took you long enough to get here." Charlie smirked at him, and Louis kissed his smiling lips.
"I'm glad I'm here. Now I don't have to be alone."
"You were never alone, Lou. I was with you."
"After all this time?"
Carter and Rose were cleaning out the greenhouse a few weeks later, when Carter gasped and collapsed on the ground.
"Rose! Come here!" she called to Rose, who was on the opposite side of the small building.
Rose came running frantically, her wild auburn locks flying behind her as she raced. "What? What is it?" she exclaimed, expecting anything but what Carter showed her.
"It's from Lou," Carter choked out, tears spilling down her pretty cheeks. Rose's breath was taken away. She swallowed thickly and looked into Carter's eyes intently.
Rose slowly took the piece of parchment from Carter's loose grip. A few of Carter's tears had stained the surface already. Rose began to read aloud:
I had to do it. I couldn't live without Charlie. I love him more than life itself.
I've been planning this ever since Charlie died. I knew I wanted to die as soon as I watched the light leaving his eyes in that St. Mungo's room a month ago. My project just took time to prepare.
The Venomous Tentacula was removed from Charlie's greenhouse, but during his study he had removed seeds from it, and they were forgotten. I grew my own plant, just like Charlie. He'll be proud that I actually learned a thing or two from him all those years that he rambled on about his Plants to me.
I'm sorry for all the misery I've caused you. I didn't kill myself to get away. I did it to be with Charlie. As you're reading this, know that Charlie and I are up here, smiling down on you and always watching out for you. Carry on with life, even though I couldn't. We'll always be with you in your hearts. I promise.
And lastly, I want you to know that I love you all. You have all changed my life for the better in some way. Remember, you'll all see me again someday.
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by Liam R