Chapter 1 : One
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Laura Gates poured her black coffee into her mug, leaning against her furnished desk, her mind in deep thought. She pushed her blonde hair back and sipped contently. The coffee was bitter and hot, stinging her tongue but she didn’t care, she drank it anyway. Her mouth formed into a curve as she thought of her parents. If only they could see her now.
Both of her parents, Tim and Martha Gates were disappointed – to say the least – at her career choice. “Wizarding therapist,” they sneered in disgust. Both were renowned Healers and despised the study of psychology, believing it to be “beneath them” and a “soft option”. Idiots, they were.
So, as soon as she graduated from Hogwarts, Laura moved out, saying a not-so-kind goodbye to her parents. She began training in the finest institute they had to offer to witches and wizards, and learned the wonders of the mind under the best of the best. Twenty-four, making hundreds of Galleons an hour, and happily in a relationship with her modelling boyfriend – Laura was worth envying.
And today, she was absolutely grand.
Because today, she had an appointment with a Potter.
How very lucky she was.
Lily’s eyes wrinkled, as a bright white light came to view. She tentatively opened her eyes, and looked around at her surroundings. For a while, she thought she was alone. She was lying down in a white mist and was completely naked, which was weird because she was positive she was wearing clothes before she drank the poison.
She stood up, and rubbed her eyes. Her throat felt dry, from the toxin she had before, and as if the place had heard her thoughts, a goblet of water appeared in front of her. She was surprised at first, and curious at how it happened. But being a witch, she was well used to strange things. She reached down and swallowed the drink at once, and then placed it back on the ground.
But, was it ground? She did not know. It was just there, flat and smooth, not warm nor cool. The vapour seemed to hover above it, she noticed. Everything just was. Lily liked the feel of it though, so she didn’t think much about it. If this was what death felt like, it wasn’t too bad.
Now though, Lily wished she was wearing something. She didn’t like looking at her body – it was precisely this that everyone made fun of her for her. All her life, she'd felt like people were staring at her. Looking at how unusually pale she was, or why she was so scrawny.
And again, as if the place had heard her thoughts, a pile of white cloth appeared at her feet. She picked it up and slipped into the simple dress. It was warm and clean, reminding her of how her own clothes back home always felt. Her mum absolutely loved doing the laundry, especially since her dad bought her a Muggle laundry machine.
“Don’t think about them,” she scolded herself. It was already painful knowing that she’d left them. She shouldn’t be thinking about them. After all, would they be thinking about her? Would they even find her body in her bathroom?
“Are you sure about that dear?”
Lily turned around slowly, not knowing who it could possibly be in this unknown place. Soon, she came face to face with a woman dressed in a similar dress as Lily herself. The owner of the voice wore a simple white dress, and was pale but not in a bad way. She looked white. There was no other word for it.
She had plaited white hair that curled nicely at the ends.
A pale white face, except hers was far more prettier than Lily's.
And wore a white dress – every feature being accented with the white mist.
But she was beautiful, and that made Lily feel very small.
“Now, now, dear. No need to be scared! Thank you for the compliment though, not many people come by here often to tell me that I’m looking good.” The lady smiled brilliantly. Her voice was soothing but cheery also, and that made Lily remember her mum even more. Tears filled her eyes as she blinked them back furiously.
“Who are you?” she asked nervously. This whole place was freaking her out.
“Call me Net. Everyone does,” she said brightly, her teeth glimmering. “Did you have a good sleep? Ready to go?”
“What do you mean by ‘good sleep’?” Lily questioned, not liking this Net woman. She was weird and far too cheerful for her own good. Weren’t they dead, after all? Shouldn’t they be bitter and cold?
“Well, it’s been months since you’ve passed. We should go down and have a look at your family now.”
Lily’s stomach churned. It can’t have been months since she took her life. She was sure that only minutes ago, she was bringing the rim of the goblet to her lips. And so she made her point known. “Rubbish,” she replied. “It’s only been an hour at most.”
Net smiled sadly, and Lily felt anger. Back when she was alive, people would smile at her sadly as they visited St. Mungo’s, or the looks her cousins would give her at gatherings.
“Don’t look at me like that! Where am I?” she shouted in rage. Net just stood in silence, and waited patiently.
The lack of response frustrated Lily even more, and so she continued to shout at the woman. “Let me go you freak!”
“Silence you foolish girl. That is enough,” Net said, not sounding very patient any more. Her warm blue eyes turned cold as she said, “I’ll tell you everything, just let me explain.”
Lily nodded her head and looked at her bare feet, obviously embarrassed at her outburst. The woman sighed and said, “Look up Lily.” And so she did.
“You died on the eleventh of July. It’s October now.”
“So I’ve been here?” she interrupted. “I’ve been here this entire time?”
Net nodded and continued, “You haven’t gone on. You’re not allowed to.”
“Says who?” Lily blurted out. Net smiled at her understandingly.
“It just works that way love. You can’t fight it. The only way you’re allowed to go on is after you see your family. It’s all devised to make you feel guilty. They all do in the end.”
Now she was just being confusing. What did ‘going on’ mean anyway? Lily had the shrewd idea that Net was able to read minds, because the woman replied, “Going on. It’s like a nice deep sleep. No nightmares, just nothingness. Others though, they join other dead people. It’s like a village of the dead. But you don’t have that choice, because you decided to take your own life, rather than let it happen on its own.”
Lily’s face fell. “Can’t I just stay here then, with you?”
“No you can’t,” she said curtly, and Lily knew not to push the subject any further. “So come, my dear. And I will take you, to meet your family.”
“I don’t want to,” Lily whispered. “I don’t want to see them ever again.”
Net sighed deeply, and surveyed Lily very closely. She looked a lot like her mother, Net decided. “James misses you,” she said gently. Lily looked up at her, and the woman nodded.
“Really?” she asked in an exasperated voice. Net nodded again. Lily felt her eyes fill with tears and this time, she didn’t try to stop them. Soon she had broken into loud sobs and Net stood patiently, letting her get it all out. “Do you know?” Lily said in between her sobs. “Do you know why I drank the poison?”
Net sighed deeply and answered, “Yes. Body issues. A girl at school used to give you a rough time for being a Potter, didn't she? Told you everyday you were overweight. Asked you how it felt to be so ugly. Not nice, at all, I think. Used to starve yourself. Couldn’t take it anymore.”
Lily listened as Net listed it all. She squirmed at the precision she had when researching about her next visitor. So then, Lily raised the one question she’d been dying to ask.
“What are you?”
“No, not who. Tell me what. What are you?”
“What do you think I am?” Net retorted playfully.
“An angel? Or are you like the Goddess of Death or something? Are you even a witch?”
“I am all of those things, but none of them also.” And that answer just left Lily generally confused, so she didn’t push it any further. “Are you ready dear?” Net asked.
Lily shook her head. She wasn’t ready. She didn’t want to see them. She was a disappointment. She left just so they wouldn’t be in pain. Lily remembered her mother and father talking in hushed voices, debating whether or not they should take her to a Muggle hospital. Hundreds of Galleons were spent on Lily’s treatment at St. Mungo’s, but she simply didn’t want to get better. She wanted to lose weight.
“We’re going to see James, honey. Not your parents. There’s a reason you chose to wake up today after all these months. Today, James has his first appointment with his therapist.”
“Therapist?” asked Lily, genuinely surprised. Since when did her older brother need a therapist? He was always okay, laughing joking around, perfectly healthy, unlike Lily had been. “Why is he going to a therapist?”
Net raised her eyebrow at the girl and said, “Why wouldn’t he go to a therapist?”
Lily blushed and averted her gaze, guilt filling her body. She assumed it was because of her, that James was going to a therapist.
“Come now, and then you can be at rest.” Net held out her hand, which Lily tentatively grabbed. It was soft and pearly; Lily liked the feel of it. She held her breath, as her surroundings faded away.
A short knock on the door caused Laura to sit up tightly. “Come in,” she said, her voice businesslike all at once. Short brown hair peeked through as her secretary stuck her head in.
“It’s him!” she whispered loudly. Laura stood up and smoothed out her skirt. She drew in a breath as in walked in James Potter.
Lily watched her brother walk in and the whites of her eyes blurred. She hadn’t got to see him before she left. She began walking towards him, but Net grabbed her shoulder lightly. “Don’t bother Lily. He can’t see or feel you.” Lily nodded to show she understood but her heart ached badly.
He looked different, Laura concluded. Any other acquaintance of his would think he looked the same, but she knew him far too well. After all, she spent countless of her hours at Hogwarts studying him rather than Divination textbook. It was rubbish anyway so she didn’t mind.
His eyes were red, almost as if he had been crying for days, and his hair seemed forcefully groomed. Maybe his mother did it, or his aunt. He had a permanent lost look on his face and he trudged lazily into the room and plopped down onto the couch. She smelt cologne on his body, a fresh minty scent.
She almost felt pity, seeing him so broken.
Net watched Lily struggle to be in the same room as her brother, shaking. “Can we please just go?” Lily asked desperately. She didn’t want to stay while he talked. Net shook her head, and the duo stood, observing.
Laura shut the door gently behind her secretary and smiled weakly, a bit hesitant. She felt nervous all of a sudden, but shook it off. “Hello Mr. Potter.”
James didn’t look up, and instead stared at his hands. “James, I’m here to help you.”
The man didn’t respond in any way. Laura sighed, knowing this wasn’t going to be easy. A cruel idea formed in her head, thinking that the more of her time he wasted the more money she earned. She waved it off and tried again, “You can talk to me. I understand.”
James looked at her, his jaw tight. Laura could feel an outburst coming from him. But instead, all that came was a choked response. “You don’t.”
Lily was falling, her knees going weak, until she felt Net’s surprisingly strong arms around her, stopping her. “Get up,” she said. “You have to watch this.”
“I can’t, take me back. He’s too miserable. This isn’t James. You lied to me. James isn’t like that.”
“This is what he has become.”
Lily looked at the woman, her bottom lip quivering. How could she be so cold, why didn’t she just let her leave already? This – all of this – hurt so much. Why was he so miserable? It was Lily who took her life – it should be hurting her. Then why was James so depressed? It didn’t make any sense.
“But, I do James, I do. Please, talk to me.”
“Can I just go?” His voice sounded hollow, empty even. She inhaled and exhaled, trying to control herself.
“Tell me how you feel James,” she tried, sighing. Bloody Gryffindors – all stubborn as hell. “Then maybe I can understand.” They remained in silence, Laura not pushing it just in case he did decide to leave – she couldn’t risk losing that kind of money. Then after an eternity, he spoke.
“Have you ever lost your baby sister?” he asked so quietly, that Laura would’ve missed it if she hadn’t seen his lips move. She opened her mouth to respond, but her throat tightened and James continued talking anyway.
Net closed her eyes. She really was getting fed up of this. Constantly having to take souls to revisit family and relive that pain. She tried hard not to look at Lily, but she knew the girl was breaking on the inside. Every word that came from her brother’s mouth was killing Lily. What was worse was that she was already dead.
“I feel so fucking lost. I don’t know why the hell she did it. She’s so stupid.”
Lily gasped at the declaration. She wasn’t stupid. It was her choice to make the constant throwing up and trips to the Healers stop. James didn’t understand.
“She doesn’t even know, how hard it is, to live normally. After what she did. To live life knowing that someone’s supposed to be there, but they aren’t.” Tears were flowing from his face, and Laura looked on painfully. She could sense the hurt radiating from him.
“Don’t cry... Please don’t cry...” she whispered, even though she knew he couldn’t hear her. Silvery tears were leaking from her too, and her body continued to quiver.
James paused in between a sob to take a breath, and sighed. “Merlin, this is so embarrassing.”
Laura shook her head. “No, not at all. Let it out, keep on talking.” She wanted to reach out and cradle him but her professionalism wouldn’t let her. She figured she was too rough to soothe him regardless; he looked so fragile and broken.
“I wish she knew, that me, and everyone else in our family, are fucking confused. I’m so fucking confused. I don’t know, what to do, what to say. I’m so angry. I hate her. I hate me. I’m jealous of Albus. Because he found her. I’m just so, so baffled at everything. I’m jealous of all my cousins, because they have a sister. I’m jealous of everyone who has a sister." He paused to take a breath. "Look, even you have a sister,” he said, his voice cracking as he eyed the picture frame resting on the desk behind her.
Laura looked back at the picture sitting on her desk. It was of her and Sophie, as little girls, swinging on the swings. She felt the sudden urge to Apparate to her house, but along with her parents, she had stopped talking to her younger sister too. It was strange knowing that while some envied her for her job and boyfriend, others envied her for her sister.
Lily had a massive lump in her throat. This was all her fault. She’d been trying to escape all this pain, and she’d given her family even more. She wanted this to stop. She wanted him to stop crying.
“Drinking that poison was so unnecessary. What a selfish thing to do. All of this –,” he said, spreading his arms wide to indicate the room, “– is so fucking pointless. All this pain is so stupid and unnecessary.”
Laura was speechless, at a complete loss for words. Her own stomach churned restlessly. Nervously, she placed her hand on James’. “We can take a break, if you’d like.”
James shook his head, and wiped furiously at his eyes. But they wouldn’t stop leaking. He drew shaky breaths and stifled, “Stop crying. Stop.” He placed both his hands tightly on his eyes and pressed. But it wouldn’t stop. Laura looked on, a bit disgusted at his struggle. He was so vulnerable, she couldn’t watch. “Tell me to stop crying.” The therapist looked away uncomfortably.
Net turned to see Lily placing both hands onto her mouth. She too was now crying. The woman sighed. How ironic it was, for two siblings to be in the same room, sobbing, while one couldn’t see the other. How ironically cruel it was.
“It’s not fair, not fucking fair at all. It’s a selfish thing to do. She’s supposed to be in my life, in Albus’ life, in mum and dad’s life. She could’ve talked to us. She never said good bye!” James was yelling now. He seemed to have noticed that his voice had raised and so he drew in steady breaths. Laura scrambled to pour some water into a mug and handed it to him. She could see his hands were trembling as he drank. Maybe this was enough for one session.
“Albus found her. He did. Not me,” he whispered. “I should’ve been there for her.”
“It’s alright James. It’s not your fault,” Laura tried.
“I could’ve stopped her though! Now, all I feel, is anger. All this fucking anger and I don’t know what to do with it! I fucking hate her. I hate Lily, so much.”
That was the final straw for Lily. She broke out in full fledged sobs, her chest heaving, and silvery stream making their way down her face. “I’m sorry,” she spluttered. “I didn’t know... I didn’t know...”
“But I love her too,” he whispered angrily. “And it just hurts so much, to know that she’ll never come back. It’s been months since she’s passed, but it hurts so much. It hurts like hell. I feel like shit all the time. I wish I could’ve talked to her, just once.”
And then he was done, Laura could tell. All of her patients would go quiet, once they got it all out. Somewhere in her, something was telling her that James didn’t classify as a patient. Maybe he just needed someone to talk to.
“Would you like to go home now, James?” she asked nicely. He nodded slowly, and wiped his nose with his sleeve. She knew that he wasn’t okay – not now, and maybe not for months, or years – but that he will be, eventually.
Lily watched her brother for the last time as the woman helped him get up and walk out of the office. The agonizing burn in her flared as he left, she was going to miss him a lot. She followed him out the door and into the reception area, Net closely behind. She reached out and placed her hand on his shoulder. It went through. Lily felt the sudden rush to begin weeping again.
But then he turned around, and she could’ve sworn he looked her into the eye. James trudged away as a woman clasped his hand and led him to a fireplace. Net grabbed Lily’s hand and said, “Let’s go.”
Lily shook her head. “No. I want out, I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done it. I shouldn’t have drunk the poison, I want to live again. Make me human, Net. Please?” She looked at the woman in white hopefully, but all she got was a sad smile.
“I’m sorry love. You can’t go back, you can only go on.”
“But no!” cried Lily. “I need to go back! I was wrong, I get it. That was the whole point of this trip wasn’t it?”
“Yes, it was. It was to show that though suicide may rid you of your own pain, you leave so many others, all the people that love you broken. I’m afraid I can’t let you go back. It just doesn’t work that way.”
Lily closed her eyes and nodded. Net sighed sadly and gave an awkward hug to the girl. It was warm like the place Lily was at earlier, and so she buried her face in her shoulder. Once they let go there was a pregnant pause, until Lily spoke up, “I’d like to sleep now.”
And so sleep she did.
Laura Gates poured her black coffee into her mug, leaning against her furnished desk, her mind in deep thought. She pushed her blonde hair back and sipped, her brow furrowing. The coffee was bitter and hot, stinging her tongue but she didn’t care, she drank it anyway. Her mouth formed into a smile as she thought of her sister.
She picked up the telephone and dialled the number. She stood waiting, until she heard a voice pick up on the other end. “Hello?”
Drawing in a deep breath, she said, “Hey, baby sister.”
AN: So. Hi. Um. I'd originally began writing this piece for "fun", to get all that negative energy out. Some how, this story became so much more. I realize it's descriptions aren't great, and there's probably many typos, but it's the only piece I've ever had a tough time to write. I don't think I've ever cried writing anything before this. I've written a dark Lily Luna one shot before, which was even more dark and depressing than this but this one, there's so many emotions in this. I tried to get a point across and yeah. I understand it wasn't entirely realistic, James did open up a bit quickly - but he was about to explode. Blurring Whites is not a companion to Her Only Choice, though I actually feel more proud writing this one though.
Thank you for reading. I'd love if you could tell me how I did writing this, I've never written split perspectives before :)
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