This chapter is dedicated to my uncle Larry, today would have been his fifty fifth birthday. Missing you always.
I sat on the floor on the great hall. A week passed since they were killed and everyone was still in here. At the beginning, people made small talk and played games. But, now, we mostly just sat in silence. The only sound was the thunder and lightning above our heads.
“Food?” James whispered, holding a bowl of mac and cheese.
“Where did you get that?” I questioned. We had been banned from going anywhere besides classrooms, restrooms and the great hall.
“Got out of class by asking to go to the bathroom. Thought you could do with some comfort food before you leave today.” I sighed. I had almost forgot. It was St. Mungo’s day. So many other students would kill to get out of here, but I felt so safe here. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine James. Stop babying me, I can take care of myself, merlin.”
“Damn it Aspen. You are not ‘fine’. Will you please stop saying that? No one is fine. Four of our classmates died last week. On top of that, you have cancer. Nothing is fine, nothing is okay. Everything is falling to utter shit.”
“You think I don’t know that?!” I hissed, “I’m the one living with it. I get reminded every day by my medicine, and teachers and those pity looks everyone gives me. So forgive me if I don’t want to me reminded by you!”
“Aspen, I’m living with this too.” This time his tone wasn’t harsh, it was soft and he held my hand. “I’m sorry, it is just hard for me too, even though I’m sure it’s harder for you.”
I nodded. “I know. It is just so hard. This is kind of my way of coping.”
“Of course it is. And no one expects anything more out of you.”
“I wish you could come with me to St. Mungo’s. I’m going to miss you for the next few days.”
He nodded, “At least you can see your parents and brothers again. That’s good, right?”
“Yeah, and my Aunt Susie is coming to visit me and design my wedding dress.”
“Is she your mum’s sister or your dad’s?” James asked.
“My mum’s twin sister. She is my only aunt.”
“Well, it should be nice to see her again.” I nodded. “How long are you going to be gone for this time?”
“Seven days, including today and six nights. I just have to pack up my stuff and go to Longbottom’s office and floo to St. Mungo’s from there.”
“Do you need any help with packing?”
“No, I’m almost done it’s alright. Go to class, I’ll be fine.”
“Okay, owl me alright?”
“Promise. Love you!”
“I love you too!” He called before leaving the hall. A few minutes later Ally came down and sat beside me.
“Hey, what’s up?” She smiled, twisting her dark brown
hair around her finger.
“Nothing just preparing for St. Mungo’s. Where have you been this past week? I haven’t seen you around much, which is weird for us.”
Ally grinned sheepishly, “I know, I’m sorry. Freddie and I have been having some...alone time.”
“What?” I asked, confused.
She stared at me, “Aspen, Freddie and I are dating. Remember, I told you over Christmas break.”
I slapped my hand to my mouth, “Oh Merlin, you’re totally right. I suck for forgetting, Ally. I’m so sorry! How the fuck did I forget that you and Freddie were dating?!”
“Aspen, it’s okay. I know that you have bigger things going on then my relationship. After all, you are fighting cancer. Besides, Freddie and I try not to kiss in front of you guys, we don’t like too much PDA.”
I wrapped my arms around her, “I’m so happy that you two are dating. I think you’ll be good for each other.”
“Thanks, A. How are you feeling about everything?”
“You mean the fact that I’m going to die?”
“Don’t say that.” She said forcefully, “You are going to be fine.”
“I’m sorry, but you all need to realize that I could die. I know it’s tough, and I know it’s scary. We don’t have to talk about it all the time, but if I die I want you all to be prepared for it. Because it’s not just a slight possibility anymore. It is a damn good chance. Okay?”
“Okay, you are one of my best friend Aspen. Knowing that you might die is scary. I guess I just don’t want to admit it.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere for a while.” She smiled.
“Good. I would miss you too much.” I grinned and hugged her tightly. I would miss all my friends too much too.
Two hours later I was sitting in a bed on St. Mungo’s sixth floor. It had been added when I was around ten, it had several different wards. Pain management, surgery, healer’s offices, maternity and nursery.
Dylan, Cole, my mum and my dad were all sitting or standing around my bed. Seven different healers stood at the front of my private room, frowning and muttering amongst themselves.
The head healer of the pain management ward, Healer Vinson, smiled brightly at me. “It’s nice to see you again Aspen.” He saw me the most when I was here for my last cancer treatment. He used to come and check on me nearly every hour even though he didn’t have to. Healer Vinson was the closest friend I had here, besides November Bell.
“It’s not nice to see you again.” He laughed.
“Well Aspen, this is Healer Bennett, Healer Monomer, Healer Martinez, Healer Webb, Healer Winters, Healer Johnson and Healer Richards. Bennett, Monomer and Martinez are residents, just a step down from me and Webb, Winters, Johnson and Richards are all interns.”
“Well, congratulations then. You’ll proabaly never see a case like mine again. Enjoy it while you can.” They all just looked at me. “That was a joke. I may die, doesn’t mean all the happiness in my life has to die too.”
Only one of them smiled, the blonde one, I think it was Healer Monomer. “Well,” Healer Vinson said, “Who is presenting the case?”
“I am.” The blonde one stepped up.
“Please proceed Healer Monomer.” Ah ha! I was right!
“Aspen Powells, female, age eighteen, is in for T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia cancer. Vitals are stable, we will run some more scans.” She tried to avoid my eyes, looking at the other healers instead. Is it really that hard to look the sick girl in the eye? Come on.
“Good, Healer Monomer you can run the scans. Aspen, I will see you for evening rounds.” All of the healers left expect for Healer Monomer. Oh joy, even more scans. By the time all of this is over I will have turned into the hulk.
“Do you mind if I put my hands on your stomach?” She asked.
“Not at all. I was wondering, is it okay if I call you by your first name. I just hate having to act all formal around here. After all, I am going to be in here a lot.”
She smiled, “Okay. My name is Ashely. You are still in Hogwarts, right?”
“Yes, seventh year. Hoping to live to my graduation.” Ashley frowned. “So did you go to Hogwarts?”
She nodded, her blonde hair bouncing up and down in its bob. “Yeah, graduated five years ago. I was a Ravenclaw.”
“Gryffindor.” I told her, “So do you have a boyfriend?”
Ashely raised her eyebrow as she felt my stomach. “Excuse me?”
“Sorry, it’s just you will be here invading my personal space everyday so I would like to know basic things about you. If you’d like I can tell you some basic things about me. Healer Vinson did say you would be one of the main healers on my case.” I said, staring around the room. It was the same one I had last time, I knew this room like the back of my hand. There was that dent in the wall from me throwing a basketball against it when I was board. And near the door was a purple nail polish stain.
“Well, I guess that’s alright. I don’t have a boyfriend though, practically live in this hospital being an intern and all. But I only have two more months of it until I become a resident.” She began listening to my heartbeat, “What about you?”
“I have a fiancé.”
“Wow, you are a little young, don’t you think?”
I shrugged, “Sometimes I can’t believe it, but James and I we just...I’m not sure how to describe it. I feel like he makes me better, without him I would feel lost. He is my knight in shining armor and I know that he will always be there for me. No matter what. When you have something as rare as that, shouldn’t you cherish it? Especially when I only have a few months left with him.”
“Don’t give up yet, Aspen. This could still work.”
“Let’s talk about it after the scans, okay?” She nodded. Twenty minutes later, I was lying on a hard white table on the fourth floor. Ashely and the scan operator were behind a wall, looking at the scans. I know it seems like a muggle scan thing, like an MRI or cat scan, but it’s not. It’s fifty-seven wands placed in a specific pattern that scanned my body and showed what muggle machines should, and more. Although I’m really sure what. Wow, I really need to learn more about my disease.
I heard a gasp, and I froze. I knew what a gasp meant in this situation. It didn’t mean it was gone, it didn’t mean I would live. The only thing a gasp meant right there in that moment was I didn’t have a hope in hell of beating this thing.
Ashely pushed my wheelchair through the hospital corridors, “How much time do I have?” I asked.
“What do you mean, Aspen?”
“Please, don’t act like you don’t know. Just don’t. It makes me feel even worse. How much time do I have before I die?”
“You are not going to die Aspen-”
“Stop.” I frowned, “I told you not to do that. I heard your gasp, and I know what it means. If my cancer was gone, you would have told me by now. Please just tell how long I have, don’t do all the bullshitting about how I still have a chance. I know I don’t. I have been preparing for this, for my death. Telling me the truth isn’t going to kill me, the cancer is taking care of that all on it’s own. Just respect some of my last wishes, okay?”
We had reached my room and Ashley helped me get back into my bed without a word. She looked over my chart for a while, still silent. I didn’t say anything or force her to talk. No, Ashely would do that all on her own. All I had to do was wait for her to talk.
“The test we have run indicate that you are going to die within five days.” My jaw locked. Five days. I thought I would be prepared, after everything I’ve been through. I knew I was going to die. Yet, five days? Really? Only five days to live. How do you live the rest of your life in five days?
She stared at me, “I’m sorry Aspen, I shouldn’t have told you.”
I shook my head, “No. Thank you for doing it. It’s better that I know now. So I can say my goodbyes. No regrets from beyond the grave.”
Later that day I was all alone in my hospital room. I was sitting in a chair by the window, watching muggle London below me. I watched the people on the street below. They were simply living their lives. Isn’t that what we all did? Just lived.
Sure, we had problems and we had relationships and we laughed and we sung and we danced and we had fun. That’s how you live. But it doesn’t matter in the end, that’s what I realized now that I was so close to the end.
I finally realized what everyone I knew that was close to dying meant. It seems so stupid and silly and just plain cliché, but your brain just becomes clear when you know you are going to die.
I struggled to move my arm, all the wires and tubes connected to it. What happened next, I will never really be clear on. I could feel it. I could feel myself dying. My heart beat slowing, not because I was relaxing, because it was about to stop. I was about to die. And I didn’t even try to stop it. I didn’t scream or yell. I sat there and I let myself go.
Okay, so I’m sure you are all plotting my death, and I totally don’t blame that for you for that. I would want to kill me too if I were you. I would just like to tell you all, this is not the end of our story. I can’t say any more. See you next time! Please review!
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