Chapter 1 : The Voices
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You always supposed it was your fault that your mother heard voices. Because anything and everything was Theo’s fault, according to your father at least.
There are many types of voices, of course. Take for example the voice in the reader’s mind that’s currently forming as they read this. How does it sound? Is it weak or is it strong? You doubt it’s the latter. There are angry voices, miserable ones too. Voices that are used for music, for love.
But the voices in your mum’s head were made for destruction.
Because that’s what they did. Destroy her.
So when that oaf Hagrid asked who could see the Thestrals, you raised your hand.
In hindsight you suppose it began when instead of eating dinner she would stare at her hands. Your manor was unlike those of the Malfoys or Parkinsons. It wasn’t dark or eerie, at least back then it wasn’t. Your mum couldn’t stand going to their houses for dinner or tea parties; it was too ghostly for her liking. Your father didn’t really care what the house looked like as long as it was fitting for when his lot came by. He didn’t stay much in the house anyway, he had to keep up appearances; especially after the whole Death Eater scandal back in his early years.
“Edith,” snapped your father. You ate your bland soup in silence, and waited for your mother to respond. He stared intently at her, but she didn’t reply. “Edith! Do you call this food?”
You turned to your right to look at your mum. Her gaze seemed fixed on something in her lap. “Mum?”
Her head snapped up, smiling serenely and giggling. “Oh Theo dear, what’s the matter?”
“Not him you fool! I’m talking to you!”
At that moment you were very much inclined to laugh but due to the seriousness of the atmosphere you decide it would be wise if you didn’t. Looking back though, you mentally kick your past self for being an insensitive arse but in all fairness, you didn’t know about the voices then.
“Oh, of course darling Ed. What’s wrong?” Her voice was unnaturally springy, and you think that’s what irritated father the most.
“Salt,” he grunted. “There’s no salt in this.”
But your mother didn’t reply, because she was looking at her lap again.
“Mum,” you said tentatively, reaching across and placing your hand on her thigh. From above her robes you could still feel that they were ice cold. “What are you looking at?”
“My hands,” she said simply. She brought them above the table, into your view and said, “They look different.”
You looked at your father, whose jaw was clenched. So you asked her, “What do you mean mum?”
“They’re different Theo. Different than what they used to be.”
You opened your mouth to respond when father snapped, “Nonsense Edith! Now really, that’s absolutely ridiculous.”
And so you forgot the incident all together.
The next time it happened, you were worried. It was time for you to start your fourth year and you would rather not leave your mother alone.
You heard a sharp cackle coming from her room, and different pitches of voices. Low ones and high ones. You were sure you were alone with your mother, and wondered who it could be. You peeked through the crack and watched her pour water into cups.
But there was no water.
You heard her voice say, “Leone,” And then her voice changed, and became deeper, as she began speaking a language you didn’t understand. And so you in confusion entered the room and your mother was startled. “Theo, when did you come back?”
“Just now,” you replied. You hesitated for a moment, and continued, “Are you... Okay?”
Her face seemed blank, as if she didn’t understand what you meant. “Of course, just talking to Leone over here. He’s from France.”
You felt like throwing up, disgusted. There was no “Leone” in the room, and she most certainly could not speak French. And this made you feel very squirmy indeed. And so you left, perplexed and scared. When you sat down in your room, you began to shiver as you heard her sharp laughs.
You forced yourself to sleep, and so you do.
The Dark Lord had returned. Your father was getting aggravated and spends less and less time at home, and your mother thought goblins were conspiring to kill her.
You try talking to your father about it, but he waved it off. He didn’t seem happy about it, and you notice he looked older – much older. The bags around his eyes were sagging, and his beard was scruffy. Edwin Nott had lost his air of superiority, and that made you feel queasy. You most definitely did not want to look like that when you’re older.
You walked into the kitchen where your mother was curled up in a ball, sitting on the cold floor, rocking back and forth. You knelt beside her, and she lifted her head up. “What’s wrong?” you whispered.
“The goblins, they’re making fun of me!” she cried. You noticed the way she was talking, as if she had lost her maturity and was a child once more.
“Mother!” you said, your voice rising. Irritation flooded through your veins. “Goblins are not doing anything to you!”
“But they are, Theo!” she insisted. “I can hear them! They’re saying the scar on my face is ugly!”
You grabbed your mother’s hand and used it to trace her face. “There’s nothing wrong with your face, mother,” you pleaded. “Please stop doing this already! It’s been years.” She shook her head at you, obviously thinking you had gone mad, and for the first time, you think that maybe she’d gone mad. You watched as she got up and shrugged you off, her robes sweeping the floor. She looked apprehensive, looking around as if expecting something to jump out in front of her.
But you didn’t save her, not until it was too late.
Your father was away the week before your fifth year, and you felt like you were being asked to grow quickly. The last few weeks had been terrible, and you felt so confused all the time. You wondered with the war slowly brewing, whether you’ll be able to do all the things you wanted to do. You most certainly didn’t have friends – you never did think much of Draco Malfoy. Sure, you may have laughed when he’d make fun of Potter or Weasley, but deep down you’d come to respect Potter. You knew he was the better man, much braver than slimy Malfoy.
You were quiet and weedy looking, and were very intelligent. Not as smart as that Hermione Granger, but you like to think of yourself as exceptionally talented. But why then, were you unable to figure out what was wrong with your mother?
“I’m strange, Theo. That’s why you don’t like looking at me, right?” she asked. You averted your eyes as you have been doing whenever you came home. She’d been letting herself go, and you didn’t know why. How long had it been, since she last groomed her hair? Even dust was growing thick on the marble floors of your house.
You passed her some dinner across the table, and you both sat in silence. You watched the spoon in her hand touch the brim of her lips and flinch magnificently when she spat it out. It was your first time cooking, but it couldn’t possibly be that bad.
“This tastes funny,” she stated, her eyes piercing through yours. They’d lost their shine, that much you could tell. “You’ve added something in it, haven’t you?” Her voice was getting louder, angrier.
“No, I haven’t,” you replied, saying the truth. Because you actually hadn’t. What could you possibly add?
“Liar!” she shrieked. “The goblins told you to, didn’t they? Don’t lie to me! Get away! Thought I couldn’t tell, could you? Thought wrong didn’t you!”
Blood pounded furiously through your veins and you lost it. “Shut up! Shut up, you freak! What’s wrong with you? You were never like this! You seem bloody possessed all the time!”
“Maybe I am!” You drew back as her fist made a loud ‘thud’ against the table. “Maybe I am!” You saw blood dripping from her knuckles. Her eyes follow yours and lands on her hands.
And you hear a shriek.
“Get it off! Get it off!” she screamed, flailing her wrist. You stood in shock before reacting. In those seconds you saw what she had become. She’d lost weight – a lot of weight. She hadn’t been getting any sleep either; her eyes had sunken even more than usual.
“Mother!” you tried. “It’s just a scrape!”
“No,” she whispered angrily. You though she was calming down but she had begun hyperventilating. She started scratching herself, everywhere. You could hear her nails trace her arms irately, and she kept on scratching.
“What are you doing?” you asked desperately. It hurt you to see her like this. Once, your mother was beautiful. Now she was dirty. Once, she sang. Now she screamed. Once, she loved. Now she feared. What had she become?
You lunged forward and grasped her wrists. She squirmed, trying to release herself. “Let, go! You’re contaminating me!” Her hair flashed in front of your face, and you let go, trying to shield your eyes.
“Just stop!” you yelled, but it didn’t work. She was already running up the spiral stairs. You ran after her, and you could hear her singing.
“There once was a Lore,
He called himself Bore,
He liked to drain the cup,
Until he went, up, up, up!”
That wasn’t a song, you were sure of it. She was finally going mad. She was going mad. And you stood there. You wanted to run after her, but you didn’t want to watch her break down. How had this happened?
And so you walked, slowly, but surely. You walked for the first time in fear. You listened to her voice that was getting quieter and quieter. When you were close enough, you realized she wasn’t not singing anymore, she was sobbing. You stood outside her door, and waited. You waited for some courage and patience to return.
Tick, tock, tick, tock.
You inhaled and took a step in. The scene reminded you of what took place in your kitchen years ago, with the Goblins. Her mangled hair was spread over her face and she sat once more, hugging her knees. And like before, you knelt down beside her and pulled her in your arms.
You realized that in such short time, the tables had turned. Once your mother used to hold you, when you fell from your broomstick.
And now you held her, while she fell down into an abyss.
You released a bitter laugh. It was funny, the way things worked.
She whispered in your ear, “Make it stop, Theo. Make the voices stop.”
And so you promised, “Okay.”
But you didn’t. You lied. You broke your promise.
So maybe your father was right. Maybe everything and anything was your fault.
The voices in her head destroyed her. Every piece of her.
Maybe you could have done something about it. Taken her to St. Mungos. But you didn’t. You let the voices cave her in, eat her alive, until she was nothing but a hollow shell. But you’re getting ahead of yourself.
Two nights before you left for school, you had been sent with the Crabbes to pick up all your school supplies. When you returned, all the lights were switched off. Sweat started forming on your brows and you ran towards your parents’ room. Your feet skidded as your mother came to view. Her wand was in her hand, and in the other, was a knife.
“Mother,” you said. Your voice was shaking, and so for once you tried to even it out. “Mum, let the wand go.” It was stupid of you, how you didn’t tell her to let her knife go. Very stupid indeed. But not like you’d have known then, anyway.
To your surprise, she obeyed. She dropped the wand. And so you breathed. You watched her closely for signs of an outburst, and sure enough, one came. But unlike cries or screams of pain and confusion, this scream was silent. Her mouth opened to wail but no voice comes out. Your mother was in so much pain she couldn’t even express it. Finally something came out, and she croaked, “I’m so tired, Theo. I can’t do it. They just won’t shut up.” She fell to the ground gracefully and you didn’t know what to do. At this point even you were tired. You’d had enough. You wanted it to stop.
So you picked up the knife. “I’m going to fix you now, mother.”
She looked up at you, and for a second, as if she had regained her sanity, she looked you in the eye and nodded. You passed her the knife and waited for it to happen.
So perhaps, it was your fault.
A/N: Hi, there! I'd like to thank academica on her expertise on psychology, and nott theodore for being the most patient beta reader I could ask for. It was a first, writing Theodore Nott in second person! It'd really make me feel wonderful if you left some words below telling me how I did! Thank you for reading!
Edit on 05/01/2014 -- typo fixed.
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