Chapter 4 : D is for Death
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Charlotte Present Day
“Charlotte!” Al called after her, “CHARLOTTE.”
She whipped around, “I have nothing to say to you.” She said in a deadly calm voice, “Leave me alone.”
“Please,” he began to say, but she cut him off.
“Please what?” She seethed.
“Let me explain,” he pleaded. The other students in the hallway had stopped pretending not to listen. A group of second years were actually pointing. Neither Charlotte nor Al seemed to notice.
“Save it,” she snapped, “there’s nothing you can say.”
And with that she ran away.
She ran fast so he couldn’t follow.
She kept running, ignoring the stares.
She ran faster.
That is, until she just couldn’t anymore. She collapsed onto her knees in an abandoned corridor. She finally allowed herself to do what she couldn’t when the letter came—she cried.
Three days into the start of term and the work load was already unbearable. Also, the secure feeling Charlotte had in the beginning of the week had vanished. She thought Wednesdays should be banned.
The stress of her classes was wearing her out; she was struggling with the nonverbal spells. Concentration was a key element in successfully performing a spell nonverbally, and she couldn’t clear her mind in order to do this.
“I’m rubbish at this!” she exclaimed one afternoon in the common room. She was trying to make the armchair turn purple without saying the incantation. She tried again…the chair turned yellow.
“That was closer,” Talia said encouragingly. She was feeling guilty for spending most of her time with Holden the last couple days so to make up for it she was helping Charlotte study.
“Don’t be patronizing,” Charlotte said.
“Fine, it was lousy. But at least it actually changed colors.”
She tried again…nothing happened. “Rats!” Charlotte yelled, “Stupid freaking nonverbal magic” She trailed off muttering.
“That’s enough for now Char,” Al said firmly, “we need to get going to Herbology anyway, or we’re going to be late.”
The three of them set off for Herbology which they had with the Ravenclaws. Professor Longbottom was a well-respected teacher who obviously loved the subject he taught.
They filled in and sat next to Rose and Liam who were already there. When they sat down Rose and Liam stopped talking abruptly, Charlotte wondered what they were keeping a secret.
“What are you two talking about?” Talia demanded.
“Nothing,” Liam said at the same time Rose said, “Homework.”
“Well which is it?” Al asked smirking.
“Homework,” Liam said at the same time Rose said, “Nothing.”
“You guys sure are slick,” Charlotte said, her frustration replaced with amusement.
They couldn’t press the subject further thought because Professor Longbottom walked in and everyone fell silent.
“Hey guys,” Longbottom said excitedly, “Today we are working in greenhouse three, follow me!”
The rest of the day passed in a blur for Charlotte. She could feel herself steadily decreasing as the day went on. During Herbology she had the urge to tap everything around her four times each.
She even needed to tap the dangerous plant in front of her; Al slapped her hand away when she tried.
Then on the way to dinner she walked carefully so that she didn’t step on any cracks in the ground. It would be foolish to step on a crack when her grandmother was dying. That felt weird for her to think.
Her grandmother was dying.
She hadn’t thought of it like that since that day in Mungos a few years ago even though it was technically true. Her heart was racing now.
When they sat down she tapped all of her utensils four times each and tried to eat her casserole.
However, every time she tried to take a bite she felt nauseated.
After trying for the fourth time to eat her food she let her fork drop to the table with a clank.
She tuned back into the conversation.
“Tryouts tomorrow,” Liam was saying to Al, “James has to let us back on.”
At that moment James sat down next to Charlotte, “I don’t have to do anything.” He said sternly to Liam, “If anyone flies better than you, you’re off the team.”
Liam threw a biscuit at him.
James snatched it out of the air easily. “You’d better hope you can throw better than that tomorrow.” He took a bite out of the biscuit and turned to Charlotte.
“Teddy just sent me to get you; he wants to talk to you in his office.”
“Well why didn’t you say so?!”
“I just did,” James tried to say, but Charlotte was already up and speeding off to Teddy’s office.
She knew why he wanted to talk to her.
Yesterday he saw Granny.
He would tell her how she was doing. Charlotte knew she was being obsessive, but she had a strange sense of foreboding that something was wrong. The feeling had been eating at her all day. In a few minutes she would know if she was being silly or if she needed to worry even more.
She entered without knocking. Teddy looked for one moment at her flushed face and wild eyes; he motioned for her to sit and then handed her a letter.
My sweet Charlotte,
I hope sixth year is everything you dreamed it might be. Don’t forget what I always say: make sure you prioritize. If you can’t get top marks in every class, that’s okay. Friends and Family are the most important. Teddy says you’ve been worrying about me and I want you to stop that right now. Enjoy your sixth year Charlotte, It’ll only happen once. Stay out after curfew, ditch class, get in trouble, kiss boys, and, most importantly, have fun. I’m not saying to do this all the time mind you. Now, please dear try not to get too upset, but I have something I need to tell you. I’ve had a healer from St. Mungos come out and look me over. Unfortunately, I don’t have much more time. I’ve simply grown old. When it gets closer to the time you’ll be able to leave school and come say goodbye. Never forget the love I have for you sweet girl. It’s going to be hard for you to understand this—I am not afraid to die. I’m looking forward to being able live once again like I did when I was younger. Old age hasn’t suited me, I’d much rather be tangoing with trolls in Argentina than stuck here in bed. Make sure you remember what a cool lady I was when I’m gone.
All my love,
Charlotte read the letter four times before acknowledging what it said. Every line was a blur except for one particular line in the middle. “Unfortunately, I don’t have much more time.” The other lines meant nothing to Charlotte. The only thing that mattered was that her Granny was dying…quickly.
“Thank you for this,” she said to Teddy in an odd hollow voice, “I’m going to…” What? She thought. What was she going to do? What could she do? What was she going to do when Granny was gone?
“Charlotte?” Teddy asked quietly, “Can I do anything for you?”
As if anyone could do anything for Charlotte.
She was going to be completely on her own without Granny.
She had no one else.
She stood up abruptly, knocking the chair over, and ran her hands through her hair. She pulled out a few strands. She couldn’t control her breathing anymore.
Teddy reached out a hand and she jumped backwards so quickly that she fell on her butt. She wasn’t even embarrassed.
She just got up again and turned around without another word. She ran to the door with wild thoughts attacking her mind. Her fists were clenched so tight that she thought she might be cutting through her skin.
She couldn’t feel anything. She felt like she was in a bad dream. Everything was fuzzy.
Then she finally threw open the door…and tumbled right into strong arms. She shoved them away without thinking and made to keep going.
Someone’s arms wound around her. Not someone’s…Al’s. He pulled her tightly against his chest.
“Let me go!” She said wildly. All of her thrashing was futile. He had always been much stronger than her.
“It’s okay Char, I’ve got you.”
This made her try even harder to get free. She wanted Granny. Just when she thought she might get away he held her tighter and put a vile to her lips. She had no choice but to swallow the liquid that poured out.
The effect was instantaneous.
Her anxiety transformed into calmness.
The vivid nightmarish thoughts vanished from her mind.
Her pulse slowed.
Her breathing evened out.
Her mind was sharp.
She knew exactly what was happening because it was just like before.
Charlotte Age Thirteen
She woke up with a start. It took her a few moments to realize where she was, alone in a clean white bed with rails on the side…St. Mungos.
She flinched as she remembered why she was here, and what she just found out. She realized that her wrists were tied to the rails. She felt trapped, alone, pained, scared, and angry all at the same time.
Her eyes flicked around the room for some way to get out of the tethers. The room was basically empty except for a cushy armchair in one corner. There wasn’t even a window.
The florescent lights were giving her a headache.
She needed to get out of the small room; she tugged against the restraints. No luck. She tried harder and harder. Soon she was yelling for help. Her voice was horse by time a healer came bustling in.
“Calm down dear,” she said briskly, “here take this.”
Charlotte tried to shake her head her eyes wide open, but the lady poured the contents down her throat.
The effect was instantaneous.
When she awoke again the environment was different. There were two healers at the foot of her bed and an elderly witch in the armchair.
“Granny,” Charlotte choked out. Her mouth was very dry.
The healer she didn’t recognize handed her a glass of water which she gulped down.
The healers then proceeded to explain her condition. She was suffering from acute anxiety.
They said that she had excessive amounts of epinephrine in her system which increased her pulse rate and breathing, resulting in a panic attack.
Then they explained the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that she might experience due to her condition. The list seemed to go on and on.
It was too much for Charlotte to handle in that moment with the weight of the news about her Granny pressing down on her. She started to have a panic attack right then and there.
The cool liquid was forced down her throat once more.
The effect was instantaneous.
The third time she woke up she was alone with just one other person in the room. His head was in his hands and his dark hair was tousled.
“Al?” She asked quietly.
He lifted his head quickly and looked right into her eyes. “How are you?” He asked. He got up and moved the chair closer so that he could sit right next to her.
“Better I think,” She said slowly, “I’m not sure what’s happening to me Al.”
“You’ll be okay.”
“How do you know?”
“Because, as I keep telling you, I know everything.”
She felt herself chuckle for the first time in days. He pulled out a portable chess set and they somehow fell into their usual routine even in the unusual setting.
They teased each other and got competitive over the game. When her knight crushed his bishop she actually whooped with joy. “Sucker!” She yelled.
It was perhaps this outburst that made the Healer woman come in to check on her.
“What are you doing?” She looked scandalized, “you’re supposed to be resting and staying calm.”
“I am calm,” Charlotte said, annoyed. The healer came over to her; she took her pulse and monitored her heart rate.
“Higher than normal,” she said making “tsk, tsk” noises.
“Yeah,” Charlotte said, “that would be because I’m about to kick his ass!” Charlotte stuck her tongue out at Al and he pretended to glare at her.
“Open up,” The lady healer commanded.
“What?” Charlotte said indignantly, “No way!”
“If you make things difficult I’ll have to body-bind you,” she threatened.
“I don’t need it!” Charlotte yelled. She looked to Al for help, but he seemed confused as to what was going on.
“I’m sorry for this honey,” the healer said, “Petrificus Totalus!”
The full body-bind curse left Charlotte unable to move an inch. Her mouth was still wide open in protest. Her eyes darted around nervously. She caught Al’s eyes and saw the pity in them; his face was twisted into a grimace.
“There, there,” the healer said in what she must have thought was a soothing voice, but really sounded creepy and awful, “That’s it.” She poured the potion into Charlotte’s mouth.
The effect was instantaneous.
“How dare you” She said to Al feeling utterly betrayed, “How dare you force me to drink that.”
“You were freaking out,” Al said, “I was just trying to help you calm down.”
“You were out of line,”
“I was just trying to help.”
“There are other ways you could have helped me,” She said calmly (what other option did she have?) She started walking.
“Wait,” he called.
“Don’t follow me Al,” she said seriously, “Don’t worry, it’s not like I can do anything rash. You’ve made sure of that already.”
He let her go. She walked up to her dormitory feeling calm…shocking! After all, calming draughts are supposed to make you feel calm.
She sat on her bed and stared blankly at the walls.
She couldn’t even cry because of the dammed potion.
All she could do was sit there and feel unnaturally tranquil even though in the back of her head she knew something was terribly wrong and she should be panicking.
Sleep was a blessing when it finally came.
Charlotte Present Day
Finally, finally, her tears dried up. She got up, ignoring the stabs of pain in her knees.
She felt hopelessly alone. She supposed she could go to the common room and see if Talia was there. But if she was being honest, she knew that Talia wasn’t the person she wanted to see.
There were only two people that could possibly make her feel better right now: one who she was currently furious with and one who was hundreds of miles away.
Standing there alone in the abandoned corridor she felt her resolve strengthen. She knew what she had to do.
She walked the halls of her school in silence, glad to see that very few people were out and about.
She stopped in front of a statue of a one-eyed witch. “Dissendium” She whispered. The witch’s hump opened in front of her and a secret passage was revealed. Al showed this passage to her back in second year.
She looked over her shoulder once and then climbed in. She stayed calm by reminding herself that in no time she would be with Granny.
Al a Couple Hours Ago
“Dammit!” he yelled and kicked his trunk. He had stalked up to his dormitory after he had to watch Charlotte walk away, again.
He needed to know that she was okay. It was impossible to know Charlotte and not feel protective of her.
He knew her better than anyone…of course he was more protective of her than others.
He had followed her on a whim yesterday night and was glad he did. When she ran out of the room Al could see all the raw emotions running across her face. It was enough to make anyone do something stupid.
Forcing her to drink the potion was the hardest thing he had ever done. It took him right back to when they were both thirteen.
Back then he thought that he would never understand how those healers did that to her over and over again.
Now he had more empathy.
Nevertheless, seeing the betrayal in her eyes was almost unbearable. He knew why he did it, but that didn’t mean that it wouldn’t haunt him for the rest of his life.
And now she wasn’t talking to him and he had no way to know if she was alright. He had a sudden thought: there was a way he could find out she was okay without talking to her.
He grabbed the invisibility cloak from his trunk and set off to find James.
“Here me out,” Al said to James. He was sitting on James’s bed in his dorm trying to convince him of a trade, “You get the cloak for a week and I get the map for a week.”
“I don’t know…” James said, clearly enjoying that he had something Al wanted, “The map has really been helpful to me lately…”
“I won’t try out for the team if you don’t make the trade,” Al said boldly.
“Empty threat,” James said calling his bluff, “you would never do that.”
“Fine,” Al admitted, “Please James, it’s about Charlotte.”
“Oh, why didn’t you say so?” James laughed, “That changes everything!” He said sarcastically.
“Come on.” Al waited unit James realized that he wasn’t going to get anything else out of Al. He handed the map over silently and took the cloak.
“You owe me,” he said mysteriously and then vanished under the cloak.
Al hurried back to his dorm and pulled out his wand. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” The map came to life. He said Charlotte’s name and the map shifted to show him her dot.
She was alone in a corridor. She didn’t more for over an hour. Al was nodding off when he woke with a start and realized that her dot was moving.
He hoped that she would come back to the tower so he could see her.
Her dot didn’t move in the direction of the Gryffindor tower though, it moved towards the DADA classroom.
He sat up confused and focused on the map. He saw her get closer and closer to the secret passageway that lead to Honeydukes. He jumped up once he realized what she was doing.
“Shit,” he said running his hands through his hair. He dropped the map and ran.
Author’s note: What do you guys think? Leave me a review if you want. Also, does anyone know how I would go about getting a banner? Or even better does someone want to make me one? (Is that even possible? I’ve never done this before.)
Toodle doo kangaroo.
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