Chapter 1 : breathless
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Your mind plays tricks on you, too. Whispers that you have never heard before start to creep out of doorways and around corners. You can never catch all of what they are saying, and sometimes it doesn't even sound like the whisperers are speaking your language, but your mind convinces you that there is no doubt that they are talking about you.
"Listen," it tells you. "Do you hear that? They are mocking you!"
The friends you thought you had start to slip away, like trying to hold water in your cupped hands. It's slow at first, trickling between your fingers, but then you blink and your palms are dry. That is what is slowly but surely happening to you. Your supposed friends seep away until they have rejoined the sea of faces and voices that you know can never be a part of now.
You are an island. Isolated. Alone.
Your family has no sympathy for you. Your sisters have stopped speaking to you, your parents no longer accept you as their daughter. You have been removed from the family tree, which will continue to stand and grow without you, as if you were never one of its many branches. You spoke up for yourself for the first time in years, and lost everyone as a result.
You sit alone in your classes, not truly belonging anywhere. The ones you used to know have turned you away, and the others will not accept you. Not now, not after you have stood by and watched as they were teased, just like you are now. Why should they help you when you never did the same for them?
But they don't know that you have spoken out against everyone who used to consider you one of them. They don't know that you have finally made yourself to come out of your shell and speak your mind, only to have your shell forced back around you like a cage.
You start to drift through a quiet routine each day. You go to breakfast, but barely eat, and then move from class to class, silently taking notes and speaking only when it is required. You try and smile at people you pass in the corridors, but it feels wrong. Food loses taste. You see your hands become pale and fragile, and you think that they are just like the rest of your carefully structured life. Colorless and ready to break. You are doing your best to push through, but sometimes your best doesn't seem worth it.
The minutes blend to hours, which turn to days, which melt into weeks, and finally you realize that months have passed in your muted existence. You start to think that maybe it would be better if you stopped it all now. Why should you carry on when there's nothing there to make it all worth it?
You think that this constant tunnel you have been living in is finally starting to cave in on you, since you have simply given up trying to hold it together. You think your last few days are coming to a close, and wish you had more to show for them. Pieces of your life start to move away from you ever so gradually, but you aren't fighting to get them back.
All of this changes in a single instant.
A boy you have seen before but don't remember looks into your eyes and smiles at you. You have a strange feeling in your stomach, forgetting the last time you connected with someone. He asks if you are feeling alright, but the sound is muffled in your ears. You are out of practice when it comes to conversation.
"S-sorry?" you stammer, the words tripping off your tongue.
"Are you ok?"
He has brown hair and kind eyes that are trained on yours. You suddenly remember that he is waiting for you to answer him.
"I... I don't know." You blink, unsure of how to act around someone who is genuinely taking an interest in you.
"Can I walk you to the hospital wing? I think you should lie down."
You nod, standing on weak legs and following his lead. He walks slowly, not driving you not move faster than you're comfortable with. It feels nice to be thought of again.
"I'm Ted," he says, smiling again.
His smile is wide, and it makes the corners of his eyes crinkle. You are surprised to find yourself smiling back. You didn't realize that you could still smile after months of nothing.
"I'm Andromeda," you answer, liking how it feels to introduce yourself to someone.
He waits as the matron in the hospital clicks her tongue at you, telling you that you should have been to see her long before now. She makes you get into bed, and bustles off to get you something to eat. Ted sits down in a chair next to you.
"You don't have to stay here with me," you say.
Your voice comes out quietly, almost in a whisper. It feels like it's been years since you last talked. You clear your throat so you can speak louder next time.
"That's ok. I want to stay."
You give him a small smile and say, "Why did you talk to me before?"
"Why wouldn't I? You didn't look well so I just wanted to check that you were ok." He looks confused because you had to ask why he came up to you. Doesn't he understand that he can't talk to you unless he wants to be lonely, too? The other students you see every day will separate themselves from him if they know he talked to you.
"I haven't really talked to anyone in a while," you say, looking down at your lap.
"You don't talk to your friends?"
"I don't really have friends to talk to."
There is a pause before he speaks again, and you think that he has finally realized his mistake in sitting here with you. But when you hear is voice again, what he says is the last thing you expected to come out of his mouth.
"Then talk to me," he says.
You look up at him in surprise, but he is serious. He wants to talk to you. You feel something burst inside your chest, and are suddenly filled with a buttery warmth that you thought had left you forever. You are finally feeling hope again.
He sits with you for hours as the hospital matron comes and goes, checking to make sure you are warm and comfortable, and that you are eating the soup she brings you. She makes Ted leave so you can get some rest, because she insists that you need to stay in the hospital for the night so she can keep an eye on you, but you don't mind. Tomorrow is Saturday, and Ted has promised to come back and see you in the morning.
You don't feel how tired you are until he is gone and the lights are dimmed. You settle down into your pillow and are asleep as soon as you shut your eyes. You dream for the first time in weeks.
Just as he promised, Ted comes back the next day. He waits with you while you are fussed over, and helps convince the matron to let you go after she has given you some Pepperup Potion. You can't remember feeling better than you do right now, and think about how lucky it was that you met Ted when you did.
The color starts to return to your cheeks, and you enjoy your meals again. Teachers work to hide their surprise when you raise your hand in class, but you can see that they are relieved that you are starting to go back to how you were all those months ago.
Except you aren't that person anymore. You will carry around the choice you made for the rest of your life, and even if challenging your family caused you pain, you know now that it was the right thing to do. You have scars, but Ted looks at you as if they don't exist.
He has become your closest friend, and you have told him everything about your past. You are ashamed for what your family has done, and for what you have let them do, especially since Ted has told you that he is Muggle-born. But he reminds you that you've changed, that you have not become the people your family were trying mold you into.
He asks you to go to Hogsmeade with him, and you accept right away. You begin to notice things about him that you didn't before. The way his hair sticks up when he comes to breakfast in the morning, the ink smudges on the side of his hand, the way he laughs when you make funny faces at him.
There is a fluttering feeling in your chest, and it only grows with time. You smile when you think of him, and blush when you catch him staring at you during your classes. When he kisses you for the first time, you lay awake in bed that night, smiling to yourself. You never knew that you could feel this way about someone.
You finish your schooling and leave Hogwarts, getting a flat together in London. He kisses you first thing every morning, and right before you go to sleep every night. You know that you will never get tired of saying that you love him.
You meet his parents, and they are warm and friendly, making the voice in the back of your mind whisper reminders on your own family. "They threw you out," it says. "You don't have what he has."
But you push the voice away as his mother hugs you, telling you that you're even more beautiful than Ted described. You give him a shy smile and he wraps an arm around your waist. His father kisses your cheek before you go, telling you that you're welcome back any time. In just one night, you feel like you have a family again.
When Ted gets down on one knee and asks you to marry him, your eyes fill with tears. You can't say yes fast enough. You love him with every piece of yourself, and you know he loves you just as much. Looking at him takes your breath away. Ted is the reason that everything in your life makes sense.
You thought you were good at hiding scars. It took Ted to help you realize that you didn't need to hide them, because they showed your strength and your determination. At long last, you are good not at hiding scars, but at being proud of the person you have become.
Author's Note- Hi there! I hope you enjoyed this story, I had a lot of fun writing it, even if it was kind of intense! Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a review in the box below.
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