The train ride was absolutely unbearable.
I was so jealous of all of the other carefree passengers, lounging about with their coffee and newspapers. They weren’t on the way to a hospital, to figure out if the only person they had ever truly loved was dead, mutilated, or comatose.
For hours, I tried much too hard not to cry. Crying in an area with a large group of people usually warranted a lot of staring, and I couldn’t handle that. Not now.
I hated the feeling of holding back tears. It was painful... almost as if the tears were bubbling under my very skin and I threatened to explode into a million glass pieces at any moment.
I closed my eyes and tried imagining he was there in the seat next to me, holding my hand and staring at me with that familiar look of undying love I still couldn’t believe was meant for me. We were headed to somewhere beautiful, where the days weren’t scheduled in hours and the years didn’t age us. He was laughing, and the sunshine was illuminating his ivory skin and glinting in his sapphire eyes.
It worked for about five seconds. But the thing about fooling yourself with an amazing manifestation of your imagination is that the second you open your eyes, the ugliness of the world assaults you once again and everything goes dark.
I lost it. I bent forward in my seat and sobbed. I could feel eyes on me, but I ignored them. They didn’t matter. They were eyes full of curiosity, or annoyance, or maybe even pity. None were eyes of sympathy, because no one on this train truly understood. How could they?
“Excuse me, sweetheart?”
I looked up slowly to find a small elderly woman placing herself gently in the seat before me. Her glassy eyes were filled with concern as she looked at me.
“My dear... what’s happened to you?” she asked softly, placing a warm wrinkled hand on mine.
Tears rolled endlessly down my cheeks as my mouth gaped emptily for the words to explain. But what words could? What words could possibly convey this sort of tragedy, this sort of dread?
“I... I fell in love,” I managed to gasp out. She nodded, and I could practically feel the years of experience radiating from her. She had lived, and most likely had loved, for many years longer than me. Maybe she could understand.
“He... He went off to war and... stopped writing. He was injured, but no one knows if he’s dead or alive.”
I saw her small hand go up to her mouth, and her pale blue eyes filled with tears.
“Oh my dear, I’m so sorry,” she said, grasping my hand tightly with her frail fingers.
I nodded at her, unable to express my appreciation to her. She cocked her head at me, gazing at me sadly.
“I lost my husband just last year,” she whispered to me. I squeezed her hand back, trying to convey my “I’m sorry” with my eyes. She seemed to understand. “Don’t abandon hope until you know. There’s a very good chance he’s alive. And even if he’s not... I’m sure he wouldn’t want you to spend the rest of your life in sadness. I’ll pray for you.”
I leaned over and held her like I would hold my own mother. “Thank you,” I whispered. She put her tiny arms around me and held me, rocking me back and forth like a small child. I let her hold me, relishing the feeling of a human being’s touch. This woman didn’t hate me, or make assumptions. This woman simply cared.
After a few moments, the train stopped. I looked up and realized this was where the ticket lady had told me to get off. I got up quickly and gathered my things.
“Good luck,” she said softly, grasping my hand one last time.
“Thank you. Thank you so much.” I embraced her one last time, then turned and ran off the train as if my life depended on it.
It was pouring rain outside. Of course.
I ran frantically down the street, looking all around for the building that held the hospital. I looked down at the letter in my hand, trying to make out the address, until I finally spotted the large brick building with the numbers that matched the ones Andrew had written.
I flew inside up to the receptionists’ desk, where a fat silver-haired woman sat with her head down, scratching something onto a piece of parchment. After waiting long enough for my hair to begin dripping on the counter, I called out to her. “Excuse me?”
Gray, beady eyes looked up at me in distaste. “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for Scorpius Malfoy. He was serving in the army. I’m his fiancée, and one of his battle comrades wrote me that I might find him here...”
“I’m sorry miss, we don’t keep the records of army patients on this floor. You’ll have to go upstairs.”
I turned and ran down a hallway, finding a staircase and ascending it like the wind was taking me there. My heart was beating loudly in my ears, and my wet clothes seemed to nearly bite my skin.
But none of it mattered. I could feel myself reaching out to every corner of the building, seeking his presence.
I finally reached a counter where another receptionist sat, this time with a blonde ponytail and rosy cheeks. She looked up at my bedraggled appearance and furrowed her brows in concern.
“Can I help you, dear?” she asked gently, as if afraid I was about to break into hysterics. (She wouldn’t exactly be wrong in her assumption.)
“I... I...” The words just wouldn’t come. The woman smiled sympathetically.
“Are you looking for someone, dear?” she asked again, this time even more gentle.
I nodded, blinking away tears. “Sc-Scorpius Malfoy,” I whispered. I could feel it in my stomach. He wasn’t here. He was dead.
More tears ran down my face as I saw her grimace slightly.
“Oh, my dear, I’m so sorry...”
I let out a strangled sob. “He... He’s dead?” I breathed, looking at her in desperation.
“He was down in Room 3. I saw them wheel him out about an hour ago. He wasn’t moving. I’m so sorry. Would you like me to—”
I never heard her finish. I ran down to Room 3 and burst through the door. A nurse was at the bed, changing the sheets. I covered my mouth as another sob threatened to escape.
The nurse looked up in surprise. “Excuse me? Can I help you?” she asked, slowly approaching me.
“There was a... a boy in here. Named Scorpius Malfoy? Is he...” I couldn’t finish.
The nurse blinked a few times at me, then placed a gentle hand on my arm. “Who are you to him?” she asked, keeping her hand on my arm comfortingly.
“His... His fiancée, Rose,” I whispered, tears stinging my raw cheeks.
“Rose,” the nurse whispered. I looked up. “He’s not dead.”
A scream of relief burst from my mouth, and suddenly I was on the ground. She leaned down to keep me steady.
“Sweetheart, please listen to me very carefully,” she said urgently, looking directly into my eyes.
I nodded, wiping away the tears. He was alive. He was alive.
“He’s not in a good place right now. He’s not well. I’m going to take you to him, but you must follow my every instruction. Patients in his condition are not supposed to see anyone.”
“Yes, I’ll do whatever you say. Please take me to him,” I begged, grabbing her sleeves in desperation. She nodded curtly and pulled me into the hallway.
“Walk behind me. Pretend you’re not following,” she whispered as she sped up to walk ahead of me.
I obeyed, looking around at the white walls in what I hoped appeared to be a casual manner. We walked for what seemed an eternity before reaching a large black door. She looked around cautiously before beckoning to me.
“I can’t go any further. They’ll realize I’m missing. Be very careful. He’s in a very fragile state. Speak very softly, and don’t startle him.”
“Thank you,” I whispered before slipping through the door.
I was in a dimly-lit hallway. It was absolutely freezing and smelled faintly of bleach. I walked slowly, my footsteps echoing loudly off the whitewashed walls.
There was a door at the end of the hall. Nothing ever good happened when you opened the door at the end of the hall. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath to steady myself, and proceeded to turn the knob.
This room was much warmer, and much darker than the hallway. I looked to see that the warmth was coming from a nearby fireplace, which was also the only source of light. As I looked around, I realized that the room must be enchanted to look like the inside of a log cabin.
And then I saw him, lying in a large bed near the fireplace. My heart jumped to my throat as I took in his appearance.
A bandage was wrapped around his forehead, just like it had been after the Potions accident. Large purple contusions covered his face, and his eyes had large, black bags under them. His face looked like that of an emaciated skeleton’s.
This was not my Scorpius.
I approached slowly, dragging my leaden feet across the floor. Fear crawled in my belly and froze my veins as I neared his bedside. Once there, I stopped and looked down at him. His facial expression was pained, as if he were suffering from some sort of bad dream. I reached out a tentative hand, wanting to brush away the hair from his eyes like I did so many nights ago.
That is, until his eyes snapped open. Blinking a few times to clear his vision, two sapphire orbs focused on me.
“Sc-Scorpius?” I whispered, relieved tears beginning to pool in my eyes. I gently placed my hands atop a few of his bandaged fingers, gazing at him and waiting for him to speak.
He looked at me for a few seconds, his eyebrows furrowing in confusion. Then, his mouth opened, and one question slipped from his lips that sliced straight through my glass heart.
“Who the hell are you?”
* * *
A/N Author's Note: OH MY GOD. HELLO. IT HAS BEEN FAR, FAR TOO LONG.
I'm so sorry for the unforgivable wait on this! I was in Europe for four months, if that helps you forgive me at all. And I'm going to be honest with you - The main reason I disappeared is that I joined Tumblr, got addicted to another fandom (which I am far too embarrassed to currently name) and basically abandoned all of my fanfiction to run a fandom blog. I'm in too deep to leave now, but I've missed writing for hpff, so I'm hoping to make a permanent return.
I am going to try to finish this one up as best I can. I've lost a lot of steam on the plot, but I have a few ideas on how to wrap it up short-and-sweetishly.
I also plan to finish Sectumsempra and To End It All, if you follow my Dramione fics.
I feel like a loser because I basically had this entire chapter written and never even posted it??? Shame on me. You may boo me.
Thanks to everyone (especially Solana) for stopping by my inbox to give me the usual push to write again!
Hope to write to you guys again very soon!
P.S. Go see Frozen to forget about the sadness of this chapter - It's the most adorable movie in the entire world! Seriously! Go!