Chapter 6 : Mother Mother
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Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to JKR! I also don't own the rights to the song Mother, Mother by Tracey Bonham. Enjoy!
I awoke to darkness. After several moments of paralyzing silence, I realized it was my eyelids. The moment I tried to open them, I felt hands holding up my head, and something was poured down my throat.
Water? I was so thirsty… I eagerly opened my mouth, but what flowed in was sickly sweet…and I was so tired…
“Daddy?” I entered the dark bedroom. The television was on, but all that was playing was static. In the black and white glow, I saw my father’s face illuminated, eyes wide open. “Daddy, I had a nightmare.”
I walked towards him timidly, poking his arm. He was so cold. I lifted the blankets up to cover him, so he could get warm again. “Daddy?”
Then I saw the pills scattered on the floor, and the slip of paper. I bent down to read it. A lot of the words I couldn’t understand. I didn’t know what they meant. But there were a few I could read. Failure. Sorry. Scared.
My daddy wasn’t scared of anything. He’d killed the spiders in the bathroom, pulled me out of the way of cars, put me on his shoulders so the neighbor’s big dog couldn’t nip at my heels. My daddy was my hero.
Then all of a sudden a bunch of men in uniforms burst in, flooding the room with light and sound. I saw my mummy, wrapped in a nightdress, crying. I started to make my way towards her, to comfort her, like she did to me when I was sad, but then a man grabbed me and started to take me away.
I saw some other men place my dad onto a stretcher, and then cover him with a sheet. My mummy cried harder.
“NO! DAD! DADDY!” I shrieked, suddenly realizing what was happening. They were taking him away from me.
It was dark again. And silent. There was pressure on my arm. I tried to open my eyes again, but found that I couldn’t. They were so heavy.
“Who’s…there…” I managed, my lips cracking from dryness and my body shutting down at the effort. I felt the weight on my arm shift as sleep started to kick in again.
“I’m sorry,” someone whispered. For what? I wanted to ask. But I was tired again. I wanted to rest.
“Hello Clara, my name is Doctor Howard. Do you know why you’re here?”
I stared distrustfully at her white coat. People in white coats had taken my father from me. “Do you know where my daddy is?”
She wrote something on her clipboard. I looked out into the hallway through the window. My mother was talking to another person in a white coat, a man.
I didn’t answer any of the doctor’s questions. I watched my mother. “What are they saying to her?” I asked. She was crying. “Make them stop!”
When the doctor tried to restrain me, I started screaming. “MUM! MUMMY HELP ME! MUMMY, STOP CRYING!”
This time when I awoke, I felt a tremendous weight on my chest, crushing my lungs. I tried to grab at my stomach, gasping for breath, and then I was being forced down, and liquid was pouring into my mouth through a tube. I struggled for another moment, and then, like magic, I fell back asleep.
I stared out the window as the houses and mailboxes and trees flew past. I was getting a new home today. A place with a mummy and a daddy. I was told I was lucky. That most children in orphanages past the age of seven stayed there. But I didn’t feel so lucky.
“Mummy, where are you going?” I had asked desperately as she packed a bag.
She had stopped for a second, but her hands were shaking. “Mummy has to go with those nice people that we talked to yesterday. She’ll stay with them for a little while, and then she’ll be back, and we’ll be together again!”
I climbed onto the bed and sat in her suitcase, trying to prevent her from leaving. “But I don’t want you to leave! I don’t want you to go away!”
She cried harder. I thought telling her that I wanted her to stay would make her happy. I still thought she was a good mum. But she was so sad.
“Bye my sweet,” she whispered, planting a kiss on top of my head. I remember her tears sliding down my forehead to my eyes, so that it looked like I was the one crying. But it wasn’t. I never cried. I was Daddy’s Little Fighter.
The next time I woke up, my eyes fluttered open and I winced at the light. My eyes watered at the shock of the lamps overhead, and I tried to lift my arms to shield my face, only to find that they were constrained to the bed.
“Help,” I rasped, feeling overwhelmed and scared. “Help!”
Madame Bones came into view, her blonde hair tucked up inside her hat and her smile pasted on. “Oh good, you’re awake! I was worried I’d have to give you another sleeping potion while I set your legs, but you healed up quite nicely.”
I frowned and moved my arms, showing that I couldn’t lift them off the bed.
“Oh don’t worry about that, dear. It’s just so that you didn’t move them in your sleep while I re-grew the bones in your arms.” Her smile looked less cheerful, and there was a wrinkle in her brow.
I turned my head to the left to get away from the blinding light, and saw a chair pulled over to the side of my hospital bed.
Noticing my stare, Madame Bones moved it back against the wall with her wand. “He was visiting you quite a lot, you know,” she confided, giving me a secretive smile.
I opened my mouth to ask who, but then McGonagall bustled in through the doors. She had taken over for Flitwick after he had died in my fourth year, and no one had challenged her position as Head Mistress.
“Miss Sullivan,” she began grimly, “I’m glad to see you’re awake.”
I blinked. “What’s going on?” That’s what I tried to say, but it came out as a whisper because my throat was so dry. Madame Bones hurriedly gave me water, holding it to my lips so I could drink. After I had greedily sipped the entire glass, I asked again.
“I’m afraid that I have to ask you some questions,” McGonagall said, leaning on her cane.
Frowning, I tried to remember what had put me in the Hospital Wing, and how I’d gotten here. But all I remembered was the draft from the dark room. Then I felt the weight on my ribs, crushing me, cutting off my air supply.
I began thrashing around wildly, gasping for air, fighting the constraints.
“Phantom pain!” Madame Bones shouted over the racket I was making, placing her arms on my chest to stop me from moving. “She did this the first two nights she was in here. Had to restrain her so the bones in her arms and legs could heal properly.”
I settled back, sweaty and frustrated that they weren’t helping me. Then I blinked, and the pressure was gone. “Nights?” I asked, panting slightly.
“You were brought into the Hospital Wing late on Thursday night. It is now Sunday morning.” Madame Bones scribbled something on her clipboard and then wheeled over a cart full of potions.
McGonagall redirected my attention. “Miss Sullivan, do you remember who attacked you?”
“Attack…” I gazed off into the distance, and then I remembered the boot. So heavy. So painful. I remembered the crunches, the stickiness of the blood, the bitter taste of bile from retching. Then I knew what I had to do. “Sorry Professor. I don’t remember anything.”
She sighed. “I figured as much. Your injuries were quite extensive.”
“The nasal bone was broken and the sternum was crushed, nearly puncturing a lung. Three ribs were broken and the others were badly bruised. Broken femur, patella, and tibia, as well as a broken ulna in the right arm, and crushed metacarpals on the left hand. This was not to mention the head trauma and the cut on your hip. It was so deep that I had to give you a transfusion,” Madame Bones recited, her frown deepening as she read over the list.
“This obviously is a very serious matter. Whoever attacked you meant to kill you. If it weren’t for Mr. Potter finding you when he did and rushing you here, you may not have survived.” I’d never seen McGonagall’s face look so grim.
The only thing I understood from the last five minutes was the word ‘Potter.’ “James?” I whispered, fearing that I would be wrong.
“Yes. He found you lying in a classroom on the fourth floor and rushed you straight here. He did not get to see the perpetrator, but rest assured Miss Sullivan that I will not stop until we have found your attacker.” McGonagall walked towards the door, somehow maintaining dignity while leaning on her cane, but paused and looked back. “Miss Sullivan, one more thing. You have been excused from Friday’s classwork.”
A small smile lit up my face, and I saw the ghost of one on the Head Mistress’ face as well, before the door swung shut behind her.
My mind prickled over one word. “Madame Bones, who donated the blood for my transfusion?”
“Oh! I figured you would know already, what with him being your boyfriend and everything,” she said, winking conspiratorially.
My hands began to shake, my heart started to race, and a sheen of sweat broke out on my face. “Ivan?” I whispered.
“Yes, dear. He was very eager to help as well. Now,” Madame Bones began with a determined expression. “You’ve got six potions to take. Do you want to go from best tasting to worst, or vice versa?”
I surveyed the cart, trying to focus. I had Ivan Turner’s blood in my veins. I wanted to retch, but merely swallowed and concentrated on the medicine cart.
It held potions that were thick, black, and chunky, and potions that were clear and harmless looking. “Let’s get the worst over with,” I sighed. This was not going to be pleasant.
Madame Bones insisted on keeping me in the Hospital Wing for another night, to give my head wound and broken bones time to heal completely.
Even though I’d been sleeping for three days straight, I felt utterly exhausted and my head was pounding, so I didn’t argue.
I was so confused, but it physically hurt to think too much. I assumed it was Ivan who attacked me, but why had he given me blood? I’d been left for dead…they could have killed me…but then, he saved me? I didn’t understand.
I spent the day reading books I had conjured from my dormitory and choking down varied potions, doing my best not to vomit. I could feel the evil rushing through my veins. Contaminated. That’s what I was. Filled with the blood of a killer. He did this purposely, to drive me mad. He wanted me to go insane.
I lay in the settling darkness with no visitors, no friends to speak of. Considering what had happened to me, I wondered what had happened to Fred. I was worried; he wasn’t in here. What if he was lying unconscious somewhere, like I had been? Worse, what if he was actually dead? Ivan was fully capable of it…
Once I started to worry, I didn’t stop. Matters were only made worse when the sun disappeared behind the mountains, casting the Hospital Wing into obscurity. Every time there was a noise, I jumped out of my skin, afraid Ivan or whoever had attacked me would come back to finish the job.
The door creaked open slowly. My breathing grew shallow and I looked around wildly for Madame Bones, but she had retired to her sleeping quarters for the night. I fumbled for my wand but realized that it was with my clothes in her locked office.
Then there were footsteps. They were slow, measured, and heavy. It was the man in the steel-toed boots! As silently as I could, I tried to get out of the bed and hide, but considering the fact that I still had a cast on both legs and an arm, it was extremely difficult.
The footsteps grew closer. Come on Clara, faster, faster! I managed to get both of my feet on the ground, but as I made to crouch down, a hand came down on my shoulder. I screamed loudly.
“Clara! Clara calm down, it’s just me!”
Heart racing, I swallowed and turned around. “Fred! Oh my God, don’t ever do that again! I thought you were- I thought you were-”
“Your attacker? That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I figured Daley would come back and try to finish the job.”
“Daley?!” I was shocked. He was so scrawny, so wiry, so…twisted and sick. “It was Daley who attacked me?”
Fred nodded grimly. “He was bragging to Ivan about it. Had on these heavy boots that were covered in blood.”
My mind raced. The crack of the bones, the coppery taste of blood dripping down my face, the stench of bile, the feeling of suffocation…then total blackness. I’d suspected Ivan. Or Carl, or Ross. Possibly even Bryant. But Kevin Daley, the magical whiz kid.
It was starting to make sense though: he was the master of coming up with torture techniques. He could easily figure out ways to maximize pain and minimize effort. And with those boots, he wouldn’t have to rely on strength or power.
“But how come you’re okay?” I was confused. I was in the Hospital Wing with dozens of broken bones and a head wound, but he was standing in front of me, completely unharmed.
“I know how to defend myself,” he said darkly. “Not that you don’t, but you’re new to this. I started learning advanced DADA in second year. Turner sent his three quidditch cronies, Davenport, Nicholson, and Hayes after me, but they ended up much worse off than me. I’ve been in here every night though, just in case.”
My heart fell. “You’ve been in here every night? And no one else?”
“Well obviously Madame Bones has been here, McGonagall’s been here, Longbottom, firstly to make sure one of his students was all right and secondly to see his wife, and a few other students with varied injuries, but I was the only one here at night that I know of.” Fred frowned, as though thinking about something.
I’d thought for certain that James would have come. He had, after all, brought me here. Didn’t he care? “Fred?”
His eyes shot over to mine. “Hmm?”
“I know this is going to sound weird but, you weren’t by any chance holding my hand at any point, were you?”
He laughed. “No, can’t say that I was.”
So that had been a hallucination. I should know better by now. Seeing my expression, he sighed and ran a hand over his face. “Are you in love with James?”
“Yeah.” There was no point in denying it. He was all I could think about lately. And he wouldn’t even give me the time of day.
Fred sighed. “I’m sorry, Clara.”
I’m sorry, Clara. That’s what the doctors had said, that’s what my mother had said, that’s what my teachers and friends at school had said, and the multiple sets of foster parents who sent me back into the system. I’d been receiving apologies all my life for things out of my control.
But this apology was so much worse. It meant there was no hope. Fred knew James better than anyone else. James didn’t love me. And that was something I didn’t think that I could live with.
“You should try and get some sleep,” Fred advised, taking a seat beside my bed. “I’ll be on the lookout.”
I nodded and adjusted the pillows, rolling over so my back was to him. My throat constricted as though I might cry, but of course no tears came. Instead I was left with my own mistakes. James.
“Mum?” I could hardly believe it. It was the first time I’d seen her since she left me at an orphanage when I was eight years old. She looked…fine. I’d been expecting a broken woman. A sad woman. Someone who’d been missing her daughter. Instead she looked whole, clean, together….happy.
“Clare Bear!” she cried enthusiastically, and crushed me to her in a hug. Like I was coming home from school on a break and it had only been a few months since we’d last seen each other. Except it had been five years. “Look at how big you’ve gotten!”
I pulled away and crossed my arms. “That tends to happen, even if your parents abandon you.”
“Honey, you know I didn’t want to leave you. But I had to, the doctors said it was best!” Her smile was perky and bright, as though it would help convince me of her innocence.
“Best for you! You had a choice Mum, and you made the wrong one, for me! You loved him more than me, and so you left. Like a coward.” Turning away, I angrily kicked at the ground. Here we were in front of my seventh foster home, the wilted flowers and chipped picket fence the best parts about it.
She blinked. “Honey…you know that’s not true.”
It didn’t sound convincing, even to her. “But it is. So while I’ve been rotting away for years, you’ve been, what? Getting manicures and lying on cushy couches telling someone about your ‘feelings?’ No calls, no letters, not even on my birthday, or Christmas. I hate you! I wish you’d never come back!”
And so I left, like she had done to me so many years before. Because that’s the thing: I was a coward too.
I awoke to sunlight, chirping birds, and Madame Bones trying to cram a potion down my throat while I was unconscious. Fred was gone. As I obliged to her poking and prodding, I thought about the dream I’d had. Well, technically it wasn’t a dream; it had been very real a few years ago.
Of course I didn’t actually mean it when I said I wished she had never come back for me. At age thirteen, I felt bitter, scorned, angsty…everything a thirteen year old feels even if they have two healthy parents and a roof over their head. I’d been unable to see how lucky I was to have a parent who cared enough to come back. Most parents left and didn’t look back.
I could only hope that James cared enough to come back for me, too.
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