Chapter 1 : No Need to Say Goodbye
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It wasn’t the end.
He needed to go, just for now, it was for the best.
For his own safety really, and for me. He was doing this for me, always for me.
Sometimes I wondered if I cared more for him than he did for me, but then this proved me wrong. It was the other way round, he cared more for me.
Or maybe he was stronger than I was, he knew I would never have the strength to leave him because it would make him safer in the end. Maybe it wasn’t strength, but selflessness.
I took a deep breath as he held me close, breathing him in until I could taste him on my tongue. I smiled through the tears as I lost myself in the smell of him.
His smell had always entranced me, the first thing I had noticed about him. He smelt of warmth, a bit like wood smoke, only nicer. Freshly cut grass and toothpaste, almost like the mint tea my mother used to drink. He reminded me of everything that was good about my life, and he was about to leave.
I felt his embrace tighten for a moment, a warning that he was about to let go, and knowing this made me cry harder, grip onto the back of his robes harder, close my eyes tighter wishing even more that this was just a nightmare.
But it wasn’t.
He slowly loosened his grip and held onto my shoulders, forcing me to stand upright on my own.
I forced myself to look up at him, to look at him for as long as I could, memorising his features. The lines on his forehead, creases from worry. The stubble on his chin, just the way I liked him to wear it. The lips that had stolen my soul from the first kiss.
I realised my hands were on his face, tracing the contours with my fingers, brushing his blonde fringe away from his eyes.
His frosty blue eyes didn’t hold his normal smile, instead they held tears that he was struggling to hold back.
Merlin knew what gave me the strength to do this.
Each time I went it was like a knife had been stuck in my heart and wasn’t taken out until I got back.
At least I knew I was safe, I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for her.
Not knowing, if I was still alive, when or even if I would be back.
It must have been torture.
Not that I knew anything about what happened until I got back. I was just a small part of a big machine, working to keep our world safe.
She didn’t even know what it was, all she knew was that ultimately it made her safer and that was the only reason I was doing it.
I breathed in the smell of her hair, savouring every last particle of scent.
Shampoo and roses, to me that smell would always be the smell of summer and hope. A smell I would never forget.
I squeezed a little harder, to prepare her for what would come next.
I put my hands on her shoulders and stood her up straight just like I always did, let her hands trace the lines on my face as though she was scared she would forget them. I, at least, knew that was impossible. When I was back she took a picture of me nearly every day, whenever we did something different or I bought a new item of clothing, whenever I cooked.
Maybe it was a little obsessive, but it helped her through these times, when I wasn’t there and anything that helped her, if not accept, cope with that was fine by me.
She looked up at me through eyelashes wet with her tears and I tried so hard not to let my eyes mirror the dark brown ones in front of me. I knew that if I cried she would never let go.
He brushed my hair behind my ear and his hands slid up my neck to cradle my face as he leant in. He kissed me and my eyes slid shut, drowning in the feel of his lips on mine. Tingling and hot his arm slid around my waist, pulling me close again as my hands slid into his hair.
“That’s time!” said a loud voice from the other side of the room.
“I have to go,” he said as he pulled away.
I heard the shout calling us to move out, and reluctantly pulled away.
“I have to go,” I said reluctantly. She nodded.
“I know.” I wiped the tears from her face gently with my thumbs. “I Love you.” She said quietly.
“You’ll come back, when they call you.” She told me, and I nodded.
“No need to say goodbye.” I said, the time I let him say goodbye was the time he didn’t come back, that’s what it meant, goodbye meant you weren’t coming back.
“I’ll see you soon.” He said instead and I smiled. One last peck on the lips and I felt suddenly cold as he crossed the room to stand with his colleagues, the unit he thinks of as brothers.
A cross between Unspeakables and Aurors, and he was one of the first.
I don’t think it possible to be more proud of anyone than I am of him, we all feel the same. I feel a hand slip into mine and I squeeze it gently, glancing at the person next to me to see who it is. Not that I need to, Sarah and I always hold each other’s hand, it’s the only way we manage not to run across the room and stop them leaving.
After the glance I’m back to looking into his eyes, we may be on different sides of the room now but those icy blue orbs still entrance me.
One last, quick kiss and I have to force myself to walk away, they are waiting for me. My brothers.
“You know where you’re going, See you on the other side.” We nod and form up.
I see her and my best friend Tim’s wife hold hands, we are so glad they get on, have each other to help ease the pain.
I hold her gaze as we are counted in.
3… I smile at her, she smiles back.
2… I give her a salute.
1… She salutes back.
I smile at him because I know he needs it, needs to know I’m going to be O.k.
He salutes me, and I laugh despite myself as I salute back and then, with a crack, he is gone.
I don’t know how long we all stand there, waiting, but eventually we stop staring at the spots where they were standing only a few moments ago and begin to search for handkerchiefs and tissues.
“Coffee?” she asks, and I nod, unable to speak quite yet.
She leads me away, she’s much better at this than I am, she always has been. She makes it easier to bear, at least she understands what I’m going through every time they go away.
If it wasn’t for this, my life would be normal, but if my life was normal I wouldn’t have him and he makes my life worth living.
Three months of dodging curses and jumping over obstacles is enough to make anyone wish they were in better shape, even me.
He flashed a grin over his shoulder at me as we came to a stop behind the best cover we had seen in a while.
We never talked about when we might get home, or about how long we’d already been out here, whenever someone did it seemed they died within twenty four hours. We’d made a pact after number two, there were five of us left.
“Just over the next ridge, and we’ll have all the answers.”
I nodded, “You sure you can handle that sprint?”
“You know I kick your arse at that.”
“Fancy proving that theory?”
He grinned and glanced over the top.
“Looks like the best chance we’ve got. On three?”
“One, Two, Three”
We jumped over the wall in unison and sprinted for the ridge, our muscles screaming in protest as we pushed ourselves to the limit.
Any less would get us killed.
Six months, he’d never been gone this long before.
I wouldn’t have minded, only this time was different. This time I really wanted to know when he would be home.
To start with it had all been normal, as normal as it could be. Then I started being sick and feeling tired, not even noticing my missed period.
It was Sarah who realised what was going on when she realised that I’d eaten carrots in a restaurant.
I did not eat carrots.
Now I was craving raw carrot every morning.
And my stomach was swelling up like a balloon.
If it wasn’t for Sarah I don’t think I could have coped. She went with me to everything, Ultrasounds, hospital appointments, crib shopping.
She was my angel, and if she was mine, Tim was his, and he better be doing his job well.
“I’ve got some good news guys.” We all turned to look at the man who had been absent from our hideout for the last eight and a half months with excitement in our eyes. “Time to go home.” He said. “Grab your stuff and be quick about it.”
I grabbed my bag, which was always packed no matter how long we’d been out, the way I’d been taught and picked up the photograph from what was no longer my pillow and tucked it in my pocket, my little piece of home that lived next to my heart.
Five cracks, then the one I made myself, and I was back in the ministry.
“Take a shower, debrief in fifteen minutes.” We jogged to our locker room, fifteen meant fifteen and we all wanted to make the most of the first decent shower we would have in nearly nine months.
The water was heaven, as was the smell of her shampoo, of which I kept a bottle here, she could never be here to meet me and this was the next best thing to let me know I was really home.
“It’s O.k. honey, keep breathing.” She said as she held my hand while we made our slow way up the waiting room.
“I need healer Jamison, I’m having contractions.” I said to the Welcome witch.
“Through that door, she’ll meet you on the other side.” She said as she scribbled a note and waved it into the air with her wand. “Next.”
“Come on, take it slowly.”
“I feel like such an old lady, just think, a month ago I repainted the entire house.” I said with a wry smile.
“I tried to stop you.” She said.
“He’s not going to be here, is he?” I asked her, when another contraction brought tears to my eyes.
“As soon as you’re settled in a room I’ll see what I can do.” She replied with determination in her eyes. “Your mum will be here soon anyway.”
“As such I think we can all agree…” he was interrupted by a knock at the door.
“What?” the door opened and a witch came in looking sheepish.
“I’m sorry sir, but I tried to get her to leave. Once she found out they were back she started demanding to be let in.”
“Who did?” I held my breath, waiting to hear her name.
“Sarah O’Neil.” She said.
“I don’t care if they’re in a meeting with the minister for magic I’m going in there.” She shouted as she flew through the door.
“Sarah, what?” said Tim incredulously.
“She needs you.” I was shocked to realise she was staring at me. “She’s in Labour.”
My eyes bugged out of their sockets.
“Your wife is pregnant and in St Mungos, currently giving birth to your baby.”
I looked at the head of the table with pleading in my eyes. The eyes that met my gaze showed sympathy and he nodded.
“You’re dismissed, you too Tim, go.”
“Thank you sir.” I ran from the room with Sarah and Tim on my heels throwing myself into the nearest connected fireplace I shouted. “St Mungos!”
Sarah was next through and grabbed my hand pulling me through the hospital. Sarah stopped in front of a door.
“Do I need to do anything before I go in?”
“There’s a charm on the door, it’ll sterilise you as you walk through.”
I put my hand on the door handle and pushed the door open. They all heard the door and looked up.
The look of shock on her face made me wish I had a camera.
She was covered in sweat and her hair was a mess but she was the most beautiful thing in the world to me.
“Of course I am.” I started crying and crossed the room in three strides to take her and my place at her side.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it.” I said as a fresh wave of tears joined those already on my face, only these were tears of happiness.
“Sarah interrupted the debrief. Remind me to thank her.” He smiled as I grimaced in pain.
“Push now!” said the healer.
I screamed in agony as the contraction reached full force and I pushed with all my might, gripping his hand in mine, sure I was crushing his fingers.
“You’re nearly there, one more big push on my count.”
“You can do this, I know you can.” He said, I looked into his eyes and nodded.
“One, Two, push.” And I pushed, not taking my eyes off his as I did so. I felt a strange sense of release, the pain dulled a little and I could hear crying.
I sunk back into the pillows breathing heavily and after a few moments a baby was placed in my arms. Our baby.
“It’s a boy, congratulations.” Said the healer.
I looked down at the blonde fluff on his head and smiled.
I was a dad.
I had a son, and he was lying in my wife’s arms.
“What are we going to call him?” I asked nervously.
“I’d been hoping we’d have more time to decide so I haven’t chosen yet but I do have a few ideas.” She admitted as he curled his fist round her little finger.
“Well as long as it’s not as weird as mine I don’t really mind.” I replied with a smile.
“But I’d been thinking Serpus Andronicus was such a good name.” she said with a wry grin. I was glad she still had her sense of humour despite her fatigue and having been in labour.
“Maybe not.” I replied as I sat on the edge of the bed. “How about Achelous?”
“Bless you” she replied.
“It means, he who drives out grief. It was one of the names my parents considered for me.”
“I thought you wanted it to be less ridiculous than yours?”
“Fine, some form of Alex?” I asked.
“Alexios,” she whispered, “Alexios Deon Malfoy.” I grinned as she looked up at me.
We stood facing each other, not knowing quite what to do. We’d never done it this way before.
I was crying, at least that was the same, but one of my hands held a smaller pudgy hand, which was attached to a small boy, almost a miniature of the man standing in front of me.
Alex was now four, and the girl in Scorpuis’ arms, Kiran Nastusia, was two.
I picked up Alex who wrapped his arms round my neck and stepped closer to Scorpius who wrapped us all in a hug.
When he kissed me it was less desperate than it had been before, more reassuring and confident.
He kissed both our children on the head and passed Kiran to me, taking Alex instead.
“I love you.” He kissed me again.
“I love you too Daddy.” Said Alex
“You have to look after Mummy, O.k?”
“And Kiran.” He ruffled Alex’s hair and put him on the floor, where the little boy took my hand again. He stood up and looked at me. “Good…”
“You’ll come back when they call you.” I told him fiercely as a fresh wave of tears cascaded down my cheeks. He nodded with grim determination as he tried not to cry too.
“No need to say goodbye.” She said, I kissed her again, this time was more desperate, it had to be, I needed it, and she needed to know that this still hurt as much as it did before.
She was an amazing mum, and I wish my job didn’t mean leaving her and our children for months at a time, but the reason I took the job in the first place was to protect the ones I loved, if anything my reasons had increased.
She would be amazing, she always was.
I pulled away and walked over to the rest of the unit.
“I don’t know, snogging in front of your kids.” Said Tim, I punched him on the shoulder.
“I would snog my wife in front of the minister for magic if he was here.”
“Alright lads, you know the destination. On my mark”
3… I smiled at them and they smiled back
2… I saluted them.
1… Rose and Alex let go of each other’s hands and saluted me back and Kiran tried to copy.
“How long is Daddy going to be gone?”
“I don’t know darling.” I said unable to take my eyes off the spot where he had vanished from only moments before.
“I miss him.”
“We all do.” Said Sarah taking the boys hand. “Coffee?”
I nodded still staring at the empty space on the other side of the room. I whispered it again, like a mantra, this wasn’t the end it was only the beginning.
“You’ll come back when they call you. No need to say goodbye.”
Hope you like, it ended up a lot longer than I anticipated but I kept wanting to give you guys more and I just couldn’t stop. I hope you like the names cause I spent ages choosing them. Alexios means defender and Deon means of Zeus, Kiran means Ray of Light and Nastusia means Stronger than Death, which I thought was pretty darn cool.
Please do tell me what you think.