Chapter 1 : The End
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In a world that’s breaking,
Where nothing is for keeps
This is us, this is love and this where I sleep.
- Where I sleep, Emeli Sande
Albus is walking along a field of forget-me-not’s. I smile at him, a familiar sense of warmth filling me as my heart starts to pound faster. The boy will always make me feel that way; I just know it. It feels as if my sole purpose in life is loving him, and finally he loves me too.
Suddenly, he stops and plucks a particular beautiful one, twisting the stem around between two fingers as he smiled sweetly at it, thinking of his girlfriend whom he’s going to see soon; thinking of me. He eagerly resumes walking, the sparkle in his emerald eyes even brighter than before, making him more beautiful than ever. My cheeks hurt from the grin that’s plastered on my face. This is the best dream I have ever had.
A short stab of pain and anxiety hits me as I realise: I rarely dream...
Albus turns right into the next street where more terraced houses are lined up next to each other. I forget about everything for a moment. This has to be one of those dreams where nothing really happens; just me watching Albus, the boy I’ve been in love with for two years. I have dreams like that all the time: during History of Magic, Divination, Astronomy, quidditch practice, sunny Saturday mornings,... You get the idea.
But then he turns toward one of the houses in the street and the scene changes. Yet it doesn’t really. My perspective just changes and the warm feeling of blissfully watching Albus disappears. I am inside staring at a dark mahogany door in fear. I am hoarse, screaming at the top of my lungs yet all I feel is the air leaving my already empty, weak body. No sound, no way to stop him.
He knocks and the feeling of utter despair gives me new strength. I scream again, feeling the strangled sound leave my mouth like vomit. The door swings open and big tears roll down my cheeks, mingling with the sticky sweat that’s already covering my face. An unlocked door, me screaming for you to run for your life... Don’t you get it?
Get the hell out of here, kid!
But I’m too late. Upon seeing me, he runs forward and drops to his knees in front of me. His hands fly up to my face while I try to send him a message by staring pointedly at his wand, which is sticking out of the back pocket of his jeans. It is all of no use because the touch of his hands on my face disappears almost immediately and his wand lies next to me, broken in half.
Everything turns red... blood. It is all I see. I shake my head frantically, trying to clear my vision. I shake it so hard that it gives me a headache, but I can't stop.
Albus reappears, the picture of him as clear and detailed as it had been when I was watching him walk down the street before. But now, mixing with the red, there is also black which, like a force, wraps itself around Albus, who struggles to get out of its grip, and all I can do is watch, struggling against my own black force that keeps me in place. It holds me back from helping Albus, the only boy that will love me unconditionally, love me for everything that I am, love me in every way possible: a friend, a passion, a family. It holds me back as I watch him fall very slowly, the black force evaporating in thin air, his emerald eyes dull and empty.
He hits the ground like a feather, as if he has no weight at all, and suddenly my force stops pulling me back. It has disappeared as well and still I don’t move. I stay where I am, knees pressed against my chest, completely soaked with my own sweat and tears.
Albus is dead. And I will sit here with him for days, unable to do anything. Even when people will find us and help me, I won’t budge.
I am stuck, stoic, a stone. Screaming until my lungs collapse, weeping until my eyes turn blind, bleeding until my heart is drained and I die. Finally.
Everything disappears and all I can see is Albus, his eyes still as emerald as ever, his skin still smooth, his lips still red, his hair still messy, and the most beautiful forget-me-not in his half-open, dead hand.
This is not a dream.
I jump up and for a moment I feel the black force holding me down again as I fall, face first, on a hard wooden floor, but it’s the sheets of my bed wrapped up around me so tightly that I can’t move. Feeling hot and feverish, I try to untangle myself from them and end up practically ripping them to pieces.
Rose stares at me as wide-eyed as one can look at three in the morning, before bursting out in laughter and immediately muffling it with her hand.
“Frustrated?” She asks, giggling. I’m still too dumbfounded by the vision I have just seen and the fact that Rose is laughing, blissfully ignorant, seconds later. My face remains emotionless. “You were moaning and grunting – and, you know, saying... Albus."
My eyes drop to the floor and I blush. Rose assumes that I have been dreaming of Albus, my crush, in a certain eh – pleasant way. Her nose is screwed up in disgust, not wanting to think about what I could have possibly been dreaming. If you knew, Rose, you wouldn’t be laughing.
I look around the room. Lily and Lucy are still sleeping. Lily... your brother. I bite the inside of my cheek and raise a shaky hand to my forehead to wipe off the sweat. Rose has stopped giggling and starts to look worried.
“Niobe? It’s okay. I know you like Albus,” she says softly. The sound of his name slices through me. A sound which has always given me that nervous yet wonderful feeling in the pit of my stomach, is now polluted with fear, anxiety and pain. I look up at Rose with tears brimming in my eyes. “You told me last year, remember? It’s okay, Niobe. Just go back to sleep.” I shake my head softly but Rose doesn’t notice. “You don’t look too well.”
Rose then realises it probably wasn’t a pleasant dream, yet she doesn’t know how unpleasant, nor how true. She doesn’t know I’m a Seer, although I have been on the verge of telling her so many times. It’s not as if I am going to tell her now: “Ow, and I just saw your favourite cousin die in the near future...”
Yeah, not happening.
“I need some air,” I mutter, getting up and tripping over my ruined sheets in my haste to get out of the hot room. Stumbling onto the landing, I quickly head for the bathroom and hunch over the toilet bowl but nothing happens.
After a few moments of breathing heavily, I get up and look into the mirror. My hot, humid skin seems to glisten in the moonlight and I splash some water on my face and arms. I immediately feel feverish again after drying myself off. I sigh and look at myself properly. It’s not as if I can take off any more of my clothes. I am only wearing my knickers and favourite green t-shirt which I have outgrown years ago.
I shrug and, figuring I won’t run into anyone at this hour, I tiptoe down the stairs toward the kitchen to get an ice-cold glass of milk. I would never walk through Shell Cottage dressed like this if the owners themselves were actually home but they are out with most of the Weasley parents to celebrate Harry’s birthday, after having lunch here at Shell Cottage for Louis’ birthday. Yes, their birthdays are on the same day.
All the kids have stayed here at Shell Cottage while the parents went out to have dinner in Godric’s Hollow with Harry and Ginny Potter. Fleur and Bill trusted us enough to let everyone stay the night while they sleep in the Potters’ guest room. However, not before Bill confiscated the three bottles of Firewhiskey James and Roxanne had tried to sneak in. Teddy was able to get us some more, though, so it had been fun. I think it was the most fun night of my life outside Hogwarts. Yes, I had been invited as well.
You see, Louis and I are best friends. It is rather odd, since he’s a year older than me and a boy and his cousin Rose is one of my roommates at Hogwarts –you’d think she’d be the best friend; she gets an honourable second place though. Yet he and I hit it off from the very first time we stepped onto the quidditch pitch and we have been best friends ever since. He is the only one not related to me who knows about my gift.
Once downstairs with the cold glass pressed against the side of my neck, I eye the Weasley family pictures enviously. Oh, how I wish Louis was really my brother, so I could be part of his amazing family. Although that would make Albus my cousin, which could get a bit gross since I’m... well, madly in love with him.
I wander into the sitting room, only to find more pictures I can study, feeling an annoying void settle itself in my chest. I stop by two pictures underneath each other in one big frame. One is of all the men in the family and the other of all the women. Harry has Albus on his arm while James stands next to them, his cousin Fred’s arm around his shoulders. The four bright green dots that are Harry and Albus’ eyes stand out.
Rose once said that Albus is Harry’s favourite –not that he loves him more than his other children. No, James is just more of a Weasley: mischievous, loud, overly confident and an incredible mummy’s boy. Although Albus is more reserved and less open about his feelings, Harry always seems to understand him better than anyone.
Rose didn’t known how much it hurt me to hear that. She had no idea of how complicated my relationship with my father was and how much I like to think we used to have a similar, understanding yet silent bond like Albus and Harry still have. He had been my hero for the first ten years of my life, and then it all changed.
I sigh. Albus, whose death I have just witnessed.
Feeling the pain and disappointment all over again, I turn to the other picture, the one with all the women. Hermione glances proudly at Rose, who is giving the camera a brilliant smile, while next to her Molly is standing on her toes just to be as tall as her. A very pregnant Audrey stands next to them, looking more radiant than I have ever seen her. On the other side of Hermione is Ginny who’s holding a tiny Lily in her arms, cradling her lovingly while Nana Molly and Angelique crowd around her, fawning over Lily’s cuteness. With one hand Angelique holds back her daughter, Roxanne, who is trying to run out of the frame.
Once again my eyes rest on the Potter family. If you consider James to be Ginny’s favourite and Albus to be Harry’s, it’s safe to say that Lily is everyone’s favourite. She’s just gorgeous with her flaming red hair, slightly darker than the normal Weasley-red, those big brown eyes filled with beautiful green specks and a handful of freckles scattered across her cheeks. Her petite body has never quite reflected her enormously fierce and courageous character, and everyone in the family feels the need to protect her –something that will become a rather difficult matter once other boys start to notice her.
Suddenly the colours blur before my eyes and before I know it a big, round tear rolls down my cheek. All these mothers and their love has become something so incredibly alien to me over the past years, and it’s something I’ll never feel again. Lily Potter, named after a role model for every mother out there. A love so strong and powerful it defeated Voldemort... a love that I never really got to experience or understand.
Feeling my temperature go up again as I concentrate hard on holding back any more tears, I look away from the picture and wipe at my eyes. I walk back into the kitchen to refill my glass, only to stop in my tracks immediately.
“Hi,” Albus says sheepishly, trying to hide his plate. I am too horrified to even notice that he’s nicking a piece of chocolate cake. Let me remind you: I’m wearing only my knickers and a worn-out, too small t-shirt. Once Albus realises this as well, his eyes widen a bit and his mouth twists into a smile he tries to suppress.
“Eh – You – I...” I look down at myself and then back up at him, while gesturing wildly to the ceiling.
Good that we cleared that up!
I almost sprint out of the room before I notice the empty glass still in my hands. With a few more weird hand gestures and low, guttural sounds –all the while blushing as if my life depends upon it, of course– I head for the sink. As I turn back around I suddenly find myself face to face with the black haired boy, who is holding up the jumper he was wearing just a second before. He smiles so incredibly friendly at me that I can’t resist. The fact that he’s waving the jumper which smells so amazingly like him in front of my nose also doesn’t really help and so I accept the piece of clothing and pull it over my head quickly. It’s far too big for me, but luckily that means my blue knickers are now covered too.
I hold my breath as I turn my back to Albus, deciding to pour myself another glass of milk. Only after hearing Albus sit back down at the kitchen table, do I dare to breathe in. His smell overpowers me immediately and I gasp in shock as Albus’ face appears before my eyes. It’s the face I saw in my vision not long ago; empty, dull, colourless... dead.
I furrow my brow and try to push the image away. I can’t accept it, I wouldn’t allow it to happen.
Although his smell makes the image surge back to the front of my brain, it also calms me down afterward and makes me sensible enough to realise that the fact that I can still smell him also means he’s still alive. Here, now, with me, safe and sound... If only I could keep it that way.
I turn back around and sit opposite of Albus, realising that I haven’t said one entire, coherent word to him yet. I blush.
“Um – thanks,” I say awkwardly, pointing at the jumper, which is rather useless since my hands are buried under the long sleeves. He chuckles and looks at his piece of cake guiltily.
“Will you not tell Louis if I share?” He asks innocently, pushing the plate toward me. I pretend to consider it.
“I don’t know. I don’t like lying to him,” I tease, hiding my smirk.
“Oh, come on! Louis would never share with me if I had asked him, and this is just too good!” Albus says putting another piece in his mouth and sighing dramatically. I can’t stop myself from grinning at him. “Nana Molly is like the female Merlin when it comes to cooking.”
“Louis always shares with me,” I say smugly. Albus rolls his eyes before scooping up another piece.
“Well yeah, but that’s because he loves you,” he mutters with his mouth full. I quickly look down. Even though I know Louis considers me his best friend as well, and I know I love him to death, still it caught me off guard for a moment to hear someone else say it out loud. Louis is just too good for me to be true. “You know, I sort of envy that – I mean, what you two have. That doesn’t often happen with other girls because you know – they’re girls, with all the flirting and touching and sexual tensions and stuff. You’re not like that.”
I look up when he starts talking, only to look away again quickly so he doesn’t notice my hurt expression. He doesn’t see me like all the other girls, because I’m not like them. I’m just me; whatever that means.
I try to push these thoughts back so I’m able to look up at Albus again and smile politely. He frowns at me and asks what’s wrong so I let the weak attempt at a smile slip from my face, knowing I’m not hiding my true feelings well enough.
Why is this suddenly news? I’ve known this from the moment I decided to go down this pathetic path leading to the broken-hearted girls’ club, didn’t I? Where do I suddenly get the idea that Al could find me attractive?
That’s when my mind jumps back to my vision. But not to the pain, to the good part, the beginning. In that short moment, Albus loved me, loved me like no other could and that’s why he was heading toward that house, to see his girlfriend, me.
Me? His girlfriend? ME?
But before my heart can even do a leap of joy, another realisation hits me. Albus dies.
He dies because he’s on his way to me, because he’s with me, because I’m his girlfriend.
Did I not wish for a way to keep him safe and sound, only a couple of minutes ago? Have I not sworn to not accept the vision, that I wouldn’t allow it?
Well, here’s your solution, Niobe. There you have it, happy?
I sink deeper into the jumper, as if it will protect me from the truth. Surprisingly, Al’s smell does help me calm down again and pulls me out of my depressing train of thoughts.
“Niobe?” Albus asks, and I have a feeling he’s been repeating my name more than once. “Are you okay?”
His eyes look so sincere that, in this moment, I want to tell him everything. I stop myself just in time. I can’t risk it. Just like I suddenly wanted him even more once I found out that I really could never have him, it’s possible that his feelings would suddenly change because he isn’t allowed to be with me... Oh, how tempting.
But hold up, have I truly continued hoping on actually getting together with Albus? Stupid, stupid Niobe! How many times does my heart need to be crushed to bits for me to realise it won’t survive everything; that it needs protecting? And even so, Albus Perfect Potter will never go out with me.
But in the vision... Merlin! Why do my visions have to be so freaking accurate? When I finally find out that there is the slightest chance of dating the boy of my dreams, I also find out that if I do, it’ll be the death of him.
I think this is the appropriate time for the phrase: Fuck my life.
During this entire inner debate I have been unable to look away from Albus deep, sensitive eyes. I have a feeling that he’s been looking right into my soul. I wish he was, so that he can see everything, know everything, understand everything and still fall in love with me, even if it will kill him.
The touch of his hand startles me, yet I don’t pull away: I just stare down at it. His big hand wrapped around my little one easily, covering it completely. It feels so incredibly good and safe. I don’t want him to let go.
How unbelievably selfish of me to sacrifice the life of this boy just so I could be loved. Aren’t I supposed to love this kid? And isn’t loving someone wanting them to be happy? To live a happy life? How is that possible when he’s dead?
I wince at my own thoughts and agree with them wholeheartedly. However, it doesn’t stop my fingers from moving and securing his grip on my hand even more.
... at least I wouldn’t be alone.
As I finally look away from our joined hands and back at his face, I see a slight blush creep up Albus’ cheeks which makes my face grow warm as well. There passes an awkward moment between us and then it’s gone; the hand, the warmth, the love, the company.
I swallow thickly and try to compose myself.
“I’m fine,” I whisper.
Albus doesn’t finish his cake. He puts what’s left back in the fridge and starts cleaning his plate and both our glasses.
I need a moment to recover from that horrible feeling after he let go of my hand and I do the only thing that makes me feel better. I bury my nose in the jumper and inhale its scent. I calm down considerably, feeling like somehow everything will be alright.
“Niobe,” Albus whispers, a smug smile on his face as he catches me smelling his jumper. I blush furiously. “Are you coming?”
I shake my head before I can stop myself. No, I do not want to go back to bed because I know what horrible nightmares follow those particular visions. Every time I see something bad, someone getting injured or worse, the memory of the night my mother died comes rushing back and haunts me for the rest of the night. I can’t handle it, certainly not after what I have seen already tonight.
But that’s not something I can tell Albus. He doesn’t know about my gift, nor my immense crush on him. He doesn’t even know my mother is dead, I think... I sure as hell haven’t told him. And so I get up anyway, ignoring my own absurd behaviour.
As we cross the hall to the stairs, he wraps one arm around my shoulders and gives them a comforting squeeze, still looking quite concerned at me. The butterflies flutter for a short moment before they all crash down again as he pulls back far too quickly and starts ascending the stairs.
I follow him silently but when we reach Louis’ bedroom door, he turns around.
“Aren’t you sleeping in Dom’s room?” He asks with a confused smile. I don’t even have the strength to blush anymore as I feel the fatigue and the depression weigh down on me.
“I need to talk to Louis,” I say monotonously. Albus frowns but keeps silent and opens the door for me. I immediately go to Louis’ bed and sit down next to him, squeezing his shoulder gently and saying his name. When he doesn’t wake up I shake him a bit and say his name into his ear.
His eyes pop open and they look around blankly for a moment until they land on me. He squints.
“Wha-” he mumbles but I cut him off, putting a hand to his cheek and looking him in the eye.
“I’m going to have nightmares,” I whisper, hoping that Albus isn’t listening. It’s suspiciously silent on his side of the room.
“Oh,” he whispers back. He understands what I’m trying to say, knows that I had a vision, a bad one.. He knows practically everything about me. “Are you okay? What...?”
I don’t want him to ask questions because I know I wouldn’t tell him the truth, so I cut him off again.
“Can I sleep here tonight?” I ask, hearing my own voice break. I feel myself crumbling, my strength slowly seeping out of me. He nods, realising how serious this is.
I’m about to crawl into Louis’ bed when I notice Albus’ warm smell. I look down at the jumper and then in the direction of Albus’ bed. I can’t see it from where I’m standing because the moonlight doesn't reach that side of the room.
“Al? Your jumper,” I whisper to the darkness.
“Keep it,” his voice says, closer than I expected. I smile to myself and step into Louis’ bed. He wraps his arm around my waist and pulls my back against his chest, planting a kiss in my hair. See, this is why I wish Louis was my brother, so I would never lose this. I can never lose him.
For a split second I imagine myself in the same position in Al’s bed and a shiver runs up my spine. Louis pulls the blanket closer around me.
“Do you want to talk about it?” He says into my hair. He already knows I’m going to say no; I can hear it in his voice. He won’t press the matter.
I will never lose this boy.
I pull his arm closer around me and inhale Albus’ scent, feeling the tears sting my eyes threateningly. I don’t even answer Louis, fearing that actual sobs would come out of my mouth instead.
No, I don’t want to tell you about how I saw your cousin die. I can’t tell him. I will never be able to, and it kills me. I have always been able to tell Louis everything, but not this time. This time I’m truly alone.
The tears flow down my cheeks, falling onto Louis’ pillow. No matter how close Louis holds me in his strong, protective arms and no matter how much of Albus’ wonderful and calming scent surrounds me, they don’t stop the tears. They only seem to make them worse, because they make it okay for me to cry. I am safe here.
I feel Louis’ grip slacken which means he fell asleep again and still the tears do not cease as I keep revisiting the vision.
“Niobe?” Al’s voice floats through the darkness again, and my breath falters. “I’m – Are...? I just eh–“
I hold my breath as I wait. An actual question never comes and Albus sighs instead.
“I’d say ‘goodnight’ but that doesn’t seem right,” he whispers, snorting humourlessly. So, he has heard us talk.
No, Al, this is definitely not a good night. It’s probably the second worst night of my life.
I don’t know how much more tears will come, but all I keep thinking is that they at least stop me from falling asleep . Because if there is one thing that can make this night any worse, it’s the nightmares. It’s just that one nightmare really, over and over again.
And sure enough it comes, as it always does.
A/N: I'm transforming this entire story from past to present tense, so if you find a mistake somewhere, let me know. ;) I hope to be working more on the story after these revisions.
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