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.
Emeli Sande - Where I sleep
Albus was walking along a field of forget-me-not’s. I smiled at him, a familiar sense of warmth filling me as my heart started to pound faster. The boy would always make me feel that way; I just knew it. It felt as if my one purpose in life was loving him, and finally he loved me too.
Suddenly, he stopped and plucked a particular beautiful one, twisting the stem around between two fingers as he smiled sweetly at it, thinking of his girlfriend whom he was going to see soon; thinking of me. He eagerly resumed walking, the sparkle in his emerald eyes even brighter than before, making him more beautiful than ever. I felt my cheeks hurt from the grin that was plastered on my face. This was the best dream I had ever had.
A short stab of pain and anxiety hit me as I realised: I rarely dreamed...
Albus turned right into the next street where more terraced houses were lined up next to each other. I forgot about everything for a moment. This had to be one of those dreams where nothing really happened; just me watching Albus, the boy I’ve been in love with for two years. I had dreams like that all the time: during History of Magic, Divination, Astronomy, quidditch practice, sunny Saturday mornings,... You get the idea.
But then he turned toward one of the houses in the street and the scene changed. Yet it didn’t really. My perspective just changed and the warm feeling of watching Albus blissfully disappeared. I was inside watching a dark mahogany door in fear. I was hoarse, screaming at the top of my lungs but all I could feel was the air leaving my already empty, weak body. No sound, no way to stop him.
He knocked and the feeling of utter despair gave me new strength. I screamed again, feeling the strangled sound leave my mouth like vomit. The door swung open and big tears rolled down my cheeks, mingling with the sticky sweat that was already covering my face. An unlocked door, me screaming with all my might for you to run for your life... Don’t you get it?
Get the hell out of here, kid!
But I was too late. Upon seeing me, he ran forward and dropped to his knees in front of me. His hands flew up to my face while I tried to stare pointedly at his wand which was sticking out of the back pocket of his jeans. It was all of no use because the touch of his hands on my face disappeared almost immediately and his wand lay next to me, broken in half.
Everything turned red... blood. It was all I could see. I shook my head frantically, trying to clear my vision. I shook it so hard that it gave me a headache, but I couldn't stop.
Albus reappeared, just as clear and detailed as he had looked when I had been watching him walk down the street before. But now, mixing with the red, there was also black which, like a force, wrapped itself around Albus, who struggled to get out of its grip, and all I could do was watch, struggling against my own black force that kept me in place. It held me back from helping Albus, the only boy that would love me unconditionally, love me for everything that I am, love me in every way possible: a friend, a passion, a family. It held me back as I watched him fall very slowly, the black force evaporating in thin air, his emerald eyes dull and empty.
He hit the ground like a feather, as if he had no weight at all, and suddenly my force stopped pulling me back. It had disappeared as well and yet I didn’t move. I stayed where I was, knees pressed against my chest, completely soaked because of my own tears and sweat.
Albus was dead. And I would sit there with him for days, unable to do anything. Even when people would find us and help me, I wouldn’t budge.
I was stuck, stoic, a stone. Screaming until my lungs would collapse, weeping until my eyes turned blind, bleeding until my heart was drained and I would die. Finally.
Everything disappeared and all I could see was 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 was not a dream.
I jumped up and for a moment I thought the black force was holding me back again as I fell, face first, on a hard wooden floor, but it were the sheets of my bed wrapped up around me so tightly that I couldn’t move. Feeling hot and feverish, I tried to untangle myself from them and ended up practically ripping them to pieces.
Rose stared at me as wide-eyed as one can look at 3 in the morning, before bursting out in laughter and immediately muffling it with her hand.
“Frustrated?” She asked, giggling. I was still too dumbfounded by the vision I had just seen and the fact that Rose was laughing blissfully right after it. My face remained emotionless. “You were moaning and grunting – and, you know, saying... Albus."
My eyes dropped to the floor and I blushed. Rose thought I had been dreaming of Albus, my crush, in a certain eh – pleasant way. Her nose was screwed up in disgust, not wanting to think about what I could have possibly been dreaming. If you had known, Rose, you wouldn’t have been laughing.
I looked around the room. Lily and Lucy were still sleeping. Lily... your brother. I bit the inside of my cheek and raised a shaky hand to my forehead to wipe off the sweat. Rose had stopped giggling and started to look worried.
“Niobe? It’s okay. I know you like Albus,” she said softly. The sound of his name sliced through me. A sound which had always given me that nervous yet wonderful feeling in the pit of my stomach, was now polluted with fear, anxiety and pain. I looked 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 shook my head softly but Rose didn’t notice. “You don’t look too well.”
Rose then realised it hadn’t been a pleasant dream, yet she didn’t know how unpleasant, nor how true. She didn’t know I was a Seer, although I had been at the verge of telling her so many times. It was not like I was 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 muttered, getting up and tripping over my ruined sheets in my haste to get out of the hot room. Stumbling onto the landing, I quickly headed for the bathroom and hunched over the toilet boil but nothing happened.
After a few moments of breathing heavily, I got up and looked into the mirror. My hot, humid skin seemed to glisten in the moonlight and I splashed some water on my face and arms. I immediately felt feverish again after drying myself off. I sighed. It was not as if I could take off any more of my clothes. I was only wearing my knickers and favourite green t-shirt which I had grown out of years ago.
I shrugged and, figuring I wouldn’t run into anyone at this hour, I tiptoed down the stairs toward the kitchen to get an ice-cold glass of milk. I probably wouldn’t have walked through Shell Cottage dressed like that if the owners themselves were actually home but they were 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 had 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 had trusted them enough to let them all stay the night while they would stay in the Potters’ guest room. However, not before Bill had confiscated the three bottles of Firewhiskey James and Roxanne had tried to sneak in. Teddy had been 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 eyed the Weasley family pictures enviously. How much I wished 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 wandered into the sitting room, only to find more pictures I could study, feeling an annoying void settle itself in my chest. I stopped by two pictures underneath each other in one big frame. One was of all the men in the family and the other of all the women. Harry had Albus on his arm while James stood next to them, his cousin Fred’s arm around his shoulders. The four bright green dots that were Harry and Albus’ eyes stood out.
Rose had once said that Albus was Harry’s favourite –not that he loved him more than his other children. No, James was just more of a Weasley: mischievous, loud, overly confident and an incredible mummy’s boy. Although Albus was more reserved and less open about his feelings, Harry always seemed to understand him better than anyone.
Rose hadn’t known how much it had hurt me to hear that. She had had no idea of my complicated relationship with my father and how much I had thought we used to have similar understanding yet silent bond like Albus and Harry still had. He had been my hero for the first ten years of my life, and then it had all changed.
I sighed. Albus, whose death I had just witnessed.
Feeling the pain and disappointment all over again, I turned to the other picture, the one with all the women. Hermione glanced proudly at Rose, who was giving the camera a brilliant smile, while next to her Molly was standing on her toes just to be as tall as her. A very pregnant Audrey stood next to them, looking more radiant than I had ever seen her. On the other side of Hermione stood Ginny who was holding a tiny Lily in her arms, cradling her lovingly while Nana Molly and Angelique crowded around her, fawning over Lily’s cuteness. With one hand Angelique held back her daughter, Roxanne, who was trying to run out of the frame.
Once again my eyes rested on the Potter family. If you considered James to be Ginny’s favourite and Albus to be Harry’s, it was safe to say that Lily was everyone’s favourite. She was 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 had never quite reflected her enormously fierce and courageous character, and everyone in the family felt the need to protect her –something that would become a rather difficult matter once other boys would start to notice her.
Suddenly the colours blurred before my eyes and before I knew it a big, roung tear fell down my cheek. All these mothers and their love had become something so incredibly alien to me over the past years, and it was something I would 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 got the chance to really experience or understand.
Feeling my temperature go up again as I concentrated hard on holding back any more tears, I looked away from the picture and wiped at my eyes. I walked back into the kitchen to refill my glass, only to stop in my tracks immediately.
“Hi,” Albus said sheepishly, trying to hide his plate. I was too horrified to even notice that he was 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 realised this as well, his eyes widened a bit and his mouth twisted into a smile he tried to suppress.
“Eh – You – I...” I looked down at myself and then back up at him, while gesturing wildly to the ceiling.
Good that we cleared that up!
I almost sprinted out of the room before I noticed the empty glass I was still holding. With a few more weird hand gestures and low, guttural sounds –all the while blushing as if my life depended upon it, of course– I headed for the sink. As I turned back around I suddenly stood face to face with the black haired boy, who was holding up the jumper he had been wearing just a second before. He smiled so incredibly friendly at me that I couldn’t resist. The fact that he was waving the jumper which smelled so amazingly like him in front of my nose also didn’t really help and so I accepted the piece of clothing and pulled it over my head quickly. It was far too big for me, but luckily that meant my blue knickers were now covered too.
I held my breath as I turned my back to Albus, opening the fridge so I could pour myself another glass of milk. Only after hearing Albus sit back down at the kitchen table, did I dare to breathe in. His smell overpowered me immediately and I gasped in shock as Albus’ face appeared before my eyes. It was the face I had seen in my vision not long ago; empty, dull, colourless... dead.
I furrowed my brow and tried to push the image away. I couldn’t accept it, I wouldn’t allow it to happen.
Although his smell made the image so much clearer again, it also calmed me down afterward and made me sensible enough to realise that the fact that I could still smell him also meant he was still alive. Here, now, with me, safe and sound... If only I could keep it that way.
I turned back around and sat opposite of Albus, realising that I hadn’t said one entire, coherent word to him yet. I blushed.
“Um – thanks,” I said awkwardly, pointing at the jumper, which was rather useless since my hands were buried under the long sleeves. He chuckled and looked at his piece of cake guiltily.
“Will you not tell Louis if I share?” He asked innocently, pushing the plate toward me. I pretended to consider it.
“I don’t know. I don’t like lying to him,” I teased, hiding my grin.
“Oh, come on! Louis would never share with me if I had asked him, and this is just too good!” Albus said putting another piece in his mouth and sighing dramatically. I couldn’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 said smugly. Albus rolled his eyes before scooping up another piece.
“Well yeah, but that’s because he loves you,” he muttered with his mouth full. I quickly looked down. Even though I knew Louis considered me his best friend as well, and I knew I loved him to death, it still caught me off guard to hear someone else say it out loud. Louis was 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 had looked up when he started talking, only to look away again quickly so he wouldn’t see my hurt expression. He didn’t see me like all the other girls, because I wasn’t like them. I was just me; whatever that meant.
I tried to push these thoughts back so I could look up at Albus again and smile politely. He frowned at me and asked what was wrong so I stopped the façade, knowing I wasn’t 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 did I suddenly get the idea that Al could find me attractive?
That’s when my mind jumped back to my vision. But not to the pain, to the good part, the beginning. In that short moment, Albus had loved me, loved me like no other could and that had been why he was heading toward that house, to see his girlfriend, me.
Me? His girlfriend? ME?
But before my heart could even do a leap of joy, another realisation hit me. Albus dies.
He dies because he’s on his way to me, because he’s with me, because I’m his girlfriend.
Had I not wished I could keep him safe and sound? Had 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 sank deeper into the jumper, as if it would protect me from the truth. Surprisingly, Al’s smell did help me calm down again and pulled me out of my depressing train of thoughts.
“Niobe?” Albus asked, and I had a feeling he had been repeating my name more than once. “Are you okay?”
His eyes looked so sincere that, in that moment, I wanted to tell him everything. I stopped myself just in time. I couldn’t risk it. Just like I suddenly wanted him even more now that I knew I really could never have him, it might be possible that his feelings would suddenly change because he wasn’t allowed to be with me... Oh, how tempting it was.
But hold up, had I truly continued hoping on actually getting together with Albus? Stupid, stupid Niobe! How many times did my heart need to be crushed to bits for me to realise it’ll only happen again next time I put myself out there? And even so, Albus Perfect Potter would never go out with me.
But in the vision... Merlin! Why did 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 had been unable to look away from Albus deep, sensitive eyes. I had a feeling that he was looking right into my soul. I wish he was, so that he could see everything, know everything, understand everything and still fall in love with me, even if it would kill him.
The touch of his hand startled me, yet I didn’t pull away: I just stared down at it. His big hand wrapped around my little one easily, covering it completely. It felt so incredibly good and safe. I didn’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 winced at my own thoughts and agreed with them wholeheartedly. However, it didn’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 looked away from our joined hands and back at his face, I saw a slight blush creep up Albus’ cheeks which made me blush as well. There passed an awkward moment between us and then it was gone; the hand, the warmth, the love, the company.
I swallowed thickly and tried to compose myself.
“I’m fine,” I whispered.
Albus didn’t finish his cake. He put what was left back in the fridge and started cleaning his plate and both our glasses.
I wanted to recover from that horrible feeling after he had let go of my hand and I did the only thing that made me feel better. I buried my nose in the jumper and inhaled its scent. I calmed down considerably, feeling like somehow everything would be alright.
“Niobe,” Albus whispered, a smug smile on his face as he caught me smelling his jumper. I blushed furiously. “Are you coming?”
I shook my head before I could stop myself. No, I did not want to go back to bed because I knew what horrible nightmares followed those particular visions. Every time I saw something bad, someone getting injured or worse, the memory of the night my mother died would come rushing back and haunt me for the rest of the night. I couldn’t handle it, certainly not after what I had seen already tonight.
But that was not something I could tell Albus. He didn’t know about my gift, nor my immense crush on him. He didn’t even know my mother was dead, I think... I sure as hell hadn’t told him. And so I got up anyway, ignoring my own absurd behaviour.
As we crossed the hall to the stairs, he wrapped one arm around my shoulders and gave them a comforting squeeze, still looking quite concerned at me. The butterflies fluttered for a short moment before they all crashed down again as he pulled back his arm far too quickly and started ascending the stairs.
I followed him silently and when he stood in front of Louis’ bedroom door, he turned around.
“Aren’t you sleeping in Dom’s room?” He asked amusedly. I didn’t even have the strength to blush anymore as I felt the fatigue and the depression weigh down on me.
“I need to talk to Louis,” I said monotonously. Albus frowned but kept silent and opened the door for me. I immediately went to Louis’ bed and sat down next to him, squeezing his shoulder gently and saying his name. When he didn’t wake up I shook him a bit and said his name into his ear.
His eyes popped open and they looked around blankly for a moment until they landed on me. He squinted.
“Wha-” he mumbled but I cut him off, putting a hand to his cheek and looking him in the eye.
“I’m going to have nightmares,” I whispered, hoping that Albus wasn’t listening. It was suspiciously silent on his side of the room.
“Oh,” he whispered. He understood what had happened of course, knew that I had had a vision, a bad one.. He knew practically everything about me. “Are you okay? What...?”
I didn’t want him to ask questions because I knew I wouldn’t tell him the truth, so I cut him off again.
“Can I sleep here tonight?” I asked, hearing my own voice break. I could feel myself crumbling, my strength was slowly seeping out of me. He nodded, realising how serious this was.
I was about to crawl in Louis’ bed when I noticed I could still smell Albus’ scent. I looked down at the jumper and then in the direction of Albus’ bed. I couldn’t see it from where I was standing since the moonlight didn't reach that side of the room.
“Al? Your jumper,” I whispered to the darkness.
“Keep it,” his voice said, closer than I had expected. I smiled to myself and stepped into Louis’ bed. He wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled 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 could never lose him.
For a split second I imagined myself in the same position in Al’s bed and a shiver ran up my spine. Louis pulled the blanket closer around me.
“Do you want to talk about it?” He said into my hair. He already knew I was going to say no; I could hear it in his voice. He wouldn’t press the matter.
I could never lose this boy.
I pulled his arm closer around me and inhaled Albus’ scent, feeling the tears sting my eyes threateningly. I couldn’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 couldn’t tell him. I would never be able to, and it killed me. I had always been able to tell Louis everything if I wanted to, but not this time. This time I was truly alone.
The tears flooded down my cheeks, falling onto Louis’ pillow. No matter how close Louis held me in his strong, protective arms and no matter how much of Albus’ wonderful and calming scent surrounded me, they didn’t stop the tears. They only seemed to make them worse, because they made it okay for me to cry. I was safe here.
I could feel Louis’ grip slacken which meant he had fallen asleep again and still the tears did not cease as I kept thinking of the vision.
“Niobe?” Al’s voice came out of the darkness again, and my breath faltered. “I’m – Are...? I just eh–“
I held my breath as I waited. An actual question never came and Albus sighed instead.
“I’d say ‘goodnight’ but that doesn’t seem right,” he whispered, snorting humourlessly. So, he had heard us talk.
No, Al, this was definitely not a good night. It was the second worst night of my life.
I didn’t know how long I continued crying but I hoped that if I just kept thinking about everything and if the tears kept falling, I wouldn’t fall asleep. Because if there was one thing that could make this night any worse, it was the nightmares. It was just that one nightmare really, over and over again.
And sure enough it came, as it always did.