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Chapter 3 : flow
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“Do you ever wish you could just… float away?” Roxanne asks with a strangled sigh, licking her finger and running it down her half finished essay, so that the ink blots and smears across the parchment, a trail of destruction.
“I am rooted, but I flow,” I quote in response, staring out the window. Roxanne acts as if she has not heard me.
“Do you know what the meaning of life is?”
“Who cares?” I snap. Philosophy is bullshit.
“The meaning of life is that life has no meaning.”
“And so then people ask ‘why are we alive?’”
“And I say ‘because we are’.”
Then Roxanne is quiet. She’d been the same way ever since she kissed me. And I’d kissed her back. And now it is just this moment in time that’s all warped and irregular and odd and neither of us want to acknowledge it. And despite the fact that I am furious with myself for letting Roxanne into my life, I find a strange solace in her company. She doesn’t try to own me.
But I know it won’t last. I drive people away; it’s just my instinct.
Sometimes I feel so scared of myself. Of the amount of emotion I can funnel through my hands into actions and words, each as shocking as the last. Of how easy it is to get away with it all.
I walk aimlessly through the trees that fringe the edge of the forbidden forest, staring into nowhere. And I think of absolutely nothing. Because that is what it’s all about.
Every now and then I stop and scrawl profanities on a tree trunk in heavy charcoal, and when that isn’t enough to satisfy me, I carve the words with my wand, and the wood cracks and splinters. Sap pours from the wounds, the lifeblood draining away into the parched earth, sticking to my shoes.
There is blood on my hands.
There are footsteps and I melt into the trees just in case, but it is only Roxanne, passing by on her way to the lake and her daily battle with the urge to drown herself. I watch her from the astronomy tower sometimes, and I think how much quicker it would be to jump than to drown. After all, people like us are drowning every day anyway.
I decide to follow her. My feet are light and quiet as I tread in her wake, the weak sun shines on the back of my head, but I pull my hood up and cast my face into shadow. The trees are in that stage where they just begin to turn from fat and greedy to bare and anorexic, the leaves flaking off their branches like dry skin. The pattern of their branches is burnt onto the floor by the sun, and I take care to only walk on the shadows. The light will burn holes in my skin.
Roxanne is standing on the edge, her toes curled over the side, her purple hair blowing in the breeze, about to tip over. Her shoes are wet, and her eyes are blank. Without turning round, she whispers to me.
“I’m in trouble, Lila,” she says urgently, and as I creep closer, I can see her face. It is resigned.
“Yes, you are. You’re fucked up.”
“Not as much as you are.”
“At least I’m not depressed.”
“No, but you don’t want to help someone who is. You want to watch them suffer instead of make it better. You feed off pain.”
“I let my emotions out in other ways,” I snarl. I don’t know why that makes me so angry, because it is true, and I have never tried to deny that I am a bad person.
A fish leaps from the water and startles us both into silence; the ripples seem to last forever, just quietly flowing on and on and on.
“People are coming for me,” Roxanne whispers, taking a step forwards into the water so that it now laps around her ankles. I know that she won’t go any further though. She doesn’t have the guts.
“Liar,” I delight in the feeling of the word as it falls from my lips.
“If you say so.” Roxanne looks at me intensely. “But I hope you don’t regret it.”
The ghosts are all in her head. They may be invisible, but that just makes them twice as powerful. I know this more than anyone.
Suddenly, she smiles brightly and links her arm with mine. I stiffen.
“I have charms now. What do you have?”
I don’t reply because she already knows it is the same answer anyway.
I rip the feathers from my quill methodically. The broken ones cover my textbooks and parchment, little drops of emerald in a sea of white and black. It doesn’t take long before all that’s remaining of the quill is its spine, a mere skeleton, a shadow of what it was supposed to be like -- and yet still the root of the object. The rest was just decoration really.
Using my nails, filed lovingly into points, I slit the spine in two, right down to the nib. The ink bleeds across my hands.
“Miss Brown, would you care to explain what, exactly, you are doing?” Flitwick squeaks as I crush the nib between finger and thumb.
“It was an old quill,” I say impassively. I was pretending it was Albus Potter. I was trying to satisfy a hunger for a food that doesn’t exist.
Flitwick stares at my desk, where it looks like I’ve been plucking a bird with blue blood, and am now sucking the marrow greedily from its bones. There is disappointment in his eyes, and I know he looks at me and sees my mother.
There could not be a mother and daughter who were less alike.
And I don’t give a fuck about what he thinks about me anyway. The old Lavender is gone now, too, and I am merely the manifestation of every dark thought she’s ever had since Greyback attacked her. Every hateful word, every malicious action… it all seems to have poured itself into my soul, into the core of my existence, turning me so blackened and rotten that I shy from good things, from happiness and peace.
I am suddenly frozen. My limbs feel numb, and my heart begins to thump louder and louder and louder until it is the only thing I can hear. Everyone is looking at me, and I put my hands over my ears and I want to scream.
So I do.
I scream until my throat hurts and I shake in my chair because I hate the way I am, the way I am dirty from the very start, from before the very start. The class looks terrified, and I rock even harder and try to stand up, but my legs will not support me and I fall to the floor and curl into a ball.
I have not cried.
Even though I feel as if I might break unless I do.
I cannot cry though, they already think I am weak now.
“I need someone to take Miss Brown to the hospital wing,” Flitwick’s voice is panicked, a million miles away. The floor is cold, and my bones are even colder, and my heart is frozen in a lacy web of ice.
I won’t go to the Hospital Wing though. I’m not sick. I’m just empty.
But I cannot find the strength to move, and my mother is somehow in my head, her head bowed, tears dripping off the end of her nose.
It is incredible the way that scars can paint a person.
I will not become my mother.
I will not.
Before I can do stand up myself, there are arms around me, lifting me up, their heat burning through my clothes. I am being carried like a baby, still curled in the same position that I was on the floor in. I cringe.
“Thank you, Mr. Potter,” Flitwick sighs with relief.
But I immediately start fighting Potter, kicking his legs, squirming to be free of such a humiliating position, I am not Albus Potter’s charity case, I’m not someone that needs to be helped. Ever.
“Get- the- fuck- away- from- me,” I hiss desperately, and Flitwick pales at my language use.
But I can’t quite break Potter’s grip, and he steers me towards the door grimly, and I am struggling the whole way. It’s not like I’d try to make it easier for him. I glare fiercely at Roxanne on the way out who is laughing so hard that the stupid black bow in her hair is shaking.
Once we are out in the corridor, Potter drops me like a hot coal and I step backwards quickly, hissing quietly at him like a cornered animal. And that’s exactly what I am.
“If you even try to take me to the fucking hospital room, I will kill you-”
“God, what the fuck is wrong with you?” Potter runs a hand through his hair. “Why won’t you let people help you?”
I am confused. But then it clicks.
“You think I’m mad,” I whisper.
All extremes of feeling are allied with madness. Am I mad? I hope so. It sounds delicious.
Albus still hasn’t responded, which is an answer in itself. I start laughing hysterically, slumped against the wall, my shoulders shaking in a manner similar to moments before.
“Do you want to know something?” I croak. “I think I might be.”
Albus looks shocked. “Don’t you want to do something about it?”
I smile ruefully. “No.” I don’t care if I’m mad. I just couldn’t bear to be normal.
“But you always seem so sad.”
I look him straight in the eye, and I know that my voice is full of venom when I speak. “You know nothing about me. Nothing.” To my delight, he backs off, arms raised in surrender – but then I realise that it’s done sarcastically and the anger and loathing returns with full force. I want to hit him so badly.
So I do.
I stand up properly and punch him right in the face, and it feels amazing. And when I pull my hand away, there is blood on my knuckles.
“Fuck!” he cries. “What the hell did you do that for?”
I shrug, “You deserve it.”
And surprisingly, he does not answer, so maybe he really does.
“You don’t even know the truth about your own family.” I continue as if nothing has happened, and that the blood trickling down Albus’s cheek is imaginary. “Did you even realise Roxanne’s depressed? That she harms herself? That she hates you, all of you?” As I state each fact, I relish the expression on Albus’s face; a mixture between shock and disbelief.
“You’re lying,” he whispers. I cackle and repeat the exact same words that Roxanne said to me earlier.
“If you say so. But I hope you don’t regret it.”
News travels fast. Everyone knew about my “freak episode”. I didn’t care. I never did.
Never, ever, ever, never.
After eating, I go upstairs and get into the shower. The water pounds onto my head and I close my eyes and cover my ears, melting into the sound, imagining that I am lost at sea, drowning. I wonder if any of the water molecules seep through the microscopic cracks in my skin, joining the ice that flows through my veins. The water may be piping hot, but the chill is soul-deep and boundless.
I scrub my body absently, staring at the opposite wall and trying to fight off the chokingly familiar feeling of claustrophobia.
When I get out again, there is a note on my bed.
We’re going to teach you a lesson, bitch, it says.
I think about what Albus Potter said, yesterday, about a ‘reckoning’. And I look at the note. And I smile a twisted little smile.
I was born aggressive, a soldier, a person who has seen true cruelty in the world, who knows what it is like to lose control. And here’s the thing about soldiers; without a war to fight in, they are nothing.
a/n: credit to Virginia Woolf for the quote “I am rooted, but I flow” and “All extremes of feeling are allied with madness”. But anyway, hi there! Sorry it's taken a while, I had to check that everything in this chapter was in accordance with the ToS and such! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. :) Probably won't be another chapter until the new year because of the imminent queue closure, so Merry Christmas and Happy new Year everyone!!
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