Chapter 13 : Bleeding
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WARNINGS: this chapter has a violence, fighting, and death. Do not read if this will trigger you, okay?
“I know you really loved that job, but I think it was bad for you.”
Elizabeth and I were at either end of the sofa under a duvet, her on her blog and me ‘job hunting’ (also on my blog).
She shrugged. “You just... stopped smiling. Tired all the time. You looked drained- you do really need another job, but I think it’s actually sort of good that they’re being forced to drop you. It’ll make you find somewhere better.”
“I think you’re right,” I sighed.
According to Elizabeth, they were offloading a bunch of people because of budget cuts. I just happened to be one of them.
It helped that I could vent my anger, too, even if I was talking about totally the wrong thing.
She smiled gratefully. “Anyway, what are you thinking about doing next?”
Healing, although that would take an enormous amount of time and energy and I wouldn’t be able to be the superhero anymore.
“Not quite sure yet. I’ll probably just end up being someone’s secretary.”
“Surely you want to do more than that.”
“I’m not qualified for much else.”
We sat in silence, but I soon closed my laptop and heaved myself to my feet.
“Anyway, one of the girls from work wants to meet up and have a coffee. I might be a while.”
Three hours later, I had no time for keys-
-so I burst through the door with a kick, clutching my broken wrist to my chest. Elizabeth was in the exact same place I had left her.
I ignored her shock, the bystander’s scream still ringing through my head, and went straight into my bedroom, slamming the door behind me and sticking it shut with a wave of my left arm.
She knocked on it a second later.
“Becca- are you okay?”
My chest had my book on Healing somewhere in it...
She rattled on the handle, but nothing happened.
“Look, let me in- I’m worried about you!”
“In a minute!” I barked, harassed. “I’m just getting changed!”
“What the hell happened?!”
“I just- wait a minute, okay?”
“No, tell me right now! Are you okay?”
I found the hefty leatherbound book, practically ripping it open to the right page. Awkwardly reaching down my trousers, I pulled out my wand and rested my broken wrist on the floor, trying to get it flat as the book instructed.
I muttered the incantation under my breath, and my wand produced a puff of bright pink light- and then I let out a guttural, choked screech of pain as the bones realigned, twisting all the nerves and muscles around them; the most painful injury healing I had ever endured.
“I’m fine!” I repeated hoarsely, wand dropped in the shock of pain.
I gathered myself to my feet, not quite willing to use my right hand, shoving everything back into the chest.
“Becca, if you don’t open this door in the next ten seconds I’m calling an ambulance!”
Faster, I scooped my wand up and slammed the chest shut. I managed to get the wand back in its strap awkwardly before whipping the door back open.
“Sorry about that,” I mumbled, pushing past her into the kitchen.
“What the hell happened?” she demanded, but I just put the kettle on while trying to steady my hands. “I thought you were out with a friend. You’re all bashed up!”
“Car crash,” I admitted. “I wasn’t in it, but I couldn’t just watch.”
She swallowed. “...right. And... how did these happen?” she asked worriedly, taking my left hand in hers, tiny cuts all over.
“Metal doesn’t always cooperate with flesh,” I sighed.
I got the kid out. That was all that mattered.
Elizabeth studied my face for a moment. Her eyes flashed in anger, and she dropped my hand and rolled her eyes. “Really.”
“Oh, for- right, Becca, that’s it,” Elizabeth said, dropping my hand and marching to the coffee table, grabbing my laptop. “I can’t even listen to this- care to explain what you use this laptop for?”
She dumped it on the kitchen table, tapping her foot impatiently.
I frowned. It threw me off, it was such a weird question.
“Well, until yesterday, work...”
She yanked it open and pulled up the internet. I wanted to protest, but she knew what she was doing and was too quick for me.
“So, your search history is as follows; ‘superhero’, ‘superhero blog’, ‘prettynerdyunigirl’ and ‘superhero news’,” she reeled off, then snapped it shut again. She looked at me expectantly. “That’s it. That’s all you’ve searched for since the last time you wiped your history- a month ago. Well?”
“...well what? I’m interested.”
I carefully kept my eyes on my laptop, wondering when she had first looked on it.
“And you know what else? You’ve never used your email account. You know, the one I set up for you for work? You’ve never even logged into it,” she accused.
At that, I turned on her. “How would you know?”
“Because I sent you an email on the very first day you had it!” she said, exasperated and angry. “And you’ve never even opened it! Because no email other than mine has ever been received or sent on that account, suggesting you don’t give the address out because you don’t use it. God, you’ve not even got spam! I made up the password the day we made it; do you really think I couldn’t get on it if I wanted?”
My mind was racing- my house of cards was tumbling, and she knew it. I swallowed. “I don’t know what you’re suggesting.”
“Well, on top of all your unexplained injuries,” she said, speaking faster that I’d ever heard her, “the scars that I don’t want to mention- but god, they definitely weren’t there when you moved in two years ago- and your laptop apparently dedicated entirely to the research of the supergirl, I can draw the only, blindingly obvious conclusion.”
My hands were cold but I was breaking out in a sweat, trying not to vomit. “And what’s that?”
“You’re her, aren’t you? Supergirl.”
“No, I’m not her.”
“Please, Becca. Don’t lie to me.”
She was quiet for a moment.
“Your arm was broken when you walked in that door,” she said quietly. “You’re holding it weird, but the bone isn’t broken anymore, and you don’t look like you’re in pain. And, funnily enough, the blogs just reported that the supergirl yanked a kid out of car wreck not twenty minutes ago, but broke her arm in the process. Something about a dislodging part of the car and breaking her arm, but she managed to pull the kid out with her left hand just before the car blew up.”
I shrugged, hot tears running down my face. “I couldn’t get the parents out in time.”
Then I turned my back on her and threw up in the sink.
The first thing she said was that she’d been suspicious about something for months, but the fact that I was covered up all the time and the head injury confirmed it for her.
“I thought I was being subtle,” I said, crying, but laughing bitterly.
“What’s your worst scar?” she asked quietly.
I lifted my t-shirt and showed her my stomach, the whitened skin slightly raised. She gently touched it, and I shivered.
“Little pocketknife. The asshole was already under arrest and thought it was a good idea to stab me and get attempted murder on his list of charges.”
She shook her head. “You’re... really her.”
“Can I ask how you don’t have a broken arm anymore?”
“Wrist, actually, and no. Fuck, I’ve put you in so much danger.”
I leaned in close, holding her wrists tightly, trying to press the seriousness of the situation into her. “There are guys after me. Just knowing about who I am-“
“I can look after myself.”
“No, you don’t understand- they don’t stop. There’s so many of them. They want me dead. You know when I was- the superhero- was attacked in the street for no real reason? That was why. They hate me, and will do anything to kill me. Including torture. Including kill you. You can’t tell anyone.”
“I promise,” she nodded. “No one. And I won’t give you up, not ever.”
“Torture, Elizabeth,” I murmured, shaking my head and looking away.
Felix Felicis. Veritaserum. Crucio.
She nodded. “Yeah. But they can’t torture love out of me.”
“Yes. They can,” I said wearily, heavily.
She said nothing.
In the end, I knew I had to give her something.
“From now on, Elizabeth, I promise not to lie to you. I may not be able to tell you everything, or even be able to explain most of what I do, but I will tell you about my night and I’ll tell you if I’m omitting stuff, I just won’t tell you what it is. Okay? No more lying.”
“No more lying would be nice,” she said, smiling. Her smile dropped. “So the kid’s parents died?”
I nodded. “I just balanced the kid on my hip and got him a safe distance away. The girl that hit them... god, not older than us. She couldn’t stop crying. It was a total accident, though- something about the lights not working, so the girl couldn’t have known.”
“And you’ve never even talked about it? What you do every night?”
“No one except you knows,” I said faintly.
She asked, so I told her everything. Everything I could, anyway.
Three hours later, scratches still up my arms, we noticed her laptop beginning to bleep.
“That’s my blog messaging, sorry-“
She frowned when she began to read the screen.
“There’s something happening to do with... well, you.”
I rushed over, reading over her shoulder.
“Two streets away,” she read out, shocked. “Oh my god, two streets away- there’s a rogue policeman demanding you turn up right now- it’s a hostage situation,” she said in panic.
I went straight back into my room, Transfigured my outfit, and added a stab proof vest. I came out, and there were already grainy photos up on her blog.
“One guy... he’s saying the superhero has twenty minutes or he’s going to start killing people.”
“Stay here,” I said quickly, “I’ve dealt with worse. He’s only got a knife. How many hostages?”
“One, I think,” she said, desperately messaging someone on the laptop. “Take your phone.”
“I can’t have anything that traces me back here,” I sighed. “I’ll take some change and call you if I really need to, okay? I shouldn’t, though.”
“I do this every night,” I assured her, fixing my mask in place. “Don’t leave this flat- I’ll be back in twenty minutes, I promise.”
Elizabeth nodded, and tried to force herself to relax in her chair.
I left, and reached the street in a matter of minutes.
Creeping up an alley, a few muggles had their phones out and were directed at the policeman, making a grand speech. I hovered, not quite trusting the situation.
Not enough of the crowd looked scared, they just looked excited. God, a man’s life was at risk.
I dived into the head of the hostage-
-she’s there okay Stun her when she’s taken you five metres to safety, no more-
“It’s a setup,” I growled under my breath. My stab proof vest was useless against magic, but if I left, my whole reputation would be ruined...
Or I could let myself get attacked.
I ducked into the street, exposed, and marched up to the policeman.
“Give me the nice man and no one gets hurt,” I ordered.
Really, it was a stupid plan, but it was the only one I had.
“You bitch,” he snapped.
Something in his eyes, in the way he moved... this wasn’t a part he was playing on behalf of the Ministry, really: this was real, and he was going to do everything he could to kill me.
I smiled, and inched towards the man who was going to betray me.
“Now, if you let him go, I’ll talk to you.”
“No. Step back, or I’ll kill him.”
The knife he had in his hand was a sturdy, thick hunting knife. In itself the knife was good for cutting a throat, but he was holding in way that was only good for thrusting and stabs, but not slashing. He had betrayed himself in that.
“You won’t. He’s with you,” I said, dropping volume in my voice considerably. “So play nice, little man.”
He paused. I raised an eyebrow, placating hands up. In a move I should have expected but didn’t, he lunged at me and managed to plunge the knife straight through the elastic securing my stab proof vest and into my side. I punched him heavily in the neck and jumped back. He staggered, weaponless aside from the wand I knew was in his pocket, but the knife was still stuck in my side. I knew I had to leave it in- he could have hit an artery, I didn’t know how deep it was- but I clutched it with shaking hands and whimpered in shock and fear. Overwhelmed by pain and the blood that was trickling through my fingers, I had more adrenaline than my panicked mind knew what to do with and some of the crowd had realised something was desperately wrong, and like animals were rapidly becoming restless and jittery.
“You won’t escape!” the policeman said gleefully, a wicked glint in his eye. “I will kill you!”
Stumbling, even though he could walk at a normal speed and catch me up, I managed to get through the crowd of muggles and collapse into a nearby alleyway. Any second a whole fleet of them were going to attack and tried to force myself to my feet but I couldn’t-
“You won’t hurt her!” I heard a voice shout back, trembling as I tried to crawl away, to somewhere safe to Apparate, for God’s sake the muggles could still see me-
“Get out of my way, you filthy mu-“
“We won’t let you.”
There was a pause. I froze.
“Get out of my way!”
There was the sound of a slap.
“Fuck you, don’t touch her!”
“Move, or you will die with her-“
“Kill us then.”
“Kill us, I dare you. Kill us. Kill two unarmed, sixteen year old girls. Kill us. Come on, do it!”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. ...YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU’LL HAVE TO STEP OVER OUR NEWLY DEAD BODIES TO GET TO HER.”
“Don’t hurt those girls!”
Someone was trying to protect them, running in front of them- that was my job. I pulled my wand out of my sheath, too weak for wandless magic, and yanked the knife out. Fortunately, hunting knives are not good at stabbing, and had only succeeded in sinking in a couple of inches- nothing more than a deep flesh wound. I sealed up my side and bit my lip to not cry out.
“I will kill you.”
“And me. Kill me, too, while you’re at it.”
I was curled up on the floor, the cold of the pavement beginning to register with my not-yet broken body, but all I could really understand of what my senses were telling me were the footsteps.
They were walking between me and the voice, between me and the girls, they were human shields, and they were supporting me, and they were really willing to sacrifice themselves for me, even though I didn’t know any of their names and I could almost guarantee the two young girls were bloggers on that goddamn website by night.
Painfully, I untwisted my limbs and used the wall to use as leverage to stand, legs shaking as uncontrollably as a newborn deer.
“She has to die.”
I snarled. I didn’t- Harry Potter himself had told them that.
“We will too, then. Go ahead.”
I re-sheathed my wand, and pulled my back straight. I wiped the blood off my hands and onto my trousers.
“Are you deaf? No.”
As I turned, I saw that my human shield, all of whom were facing my attacker, were just muggles. Fifty at least.
One woman, age undetermined, had a shoulder bag filled with folders and files like a student and was clutching a cup of to-go coffee. She was standing next to a man, age undetermined, who was stuffed into a suit and had a Jewish kippah on his head. He was in front of a teenage boy, still in school uniform with a hoodie flung over it and piercings all over the ear I could see.
All these people, of all ages, sizes, genders, races, religions and lives- were willing to give it all up.
No one was looking at me.
I spun on the spot, and snapped onto the roof of the street opposite. I ducked behind the arch of the roof on the other side as he reached for his wand.
“Did it ever occur to you that you might be looking in the wrong place?” I yelled. My voice boomed around the street, and I heard yelps of surprise.
He spun around, but failed to see me.
One of the spectators who hadn’t stood in front of me pulled out a phone, and I thought of what I said to Mr Ryland the first day I met him.
‘Once a picture is uploaded, within seconds it could be on twelve different websites and viewed by thousands of people... and suddenly that picture you uploaded can never be taken off the internet. Because it’s everywhere, and encrypted into a thousand different systems, and it’s impossible to take anything back once you’ve put it up in the first place; the internet becomes a weapon.’
“If you really want to help me, guys- get your phones out!” I ordered, practically laughing. “Get your cameras out! Send this to everyone you know- make sure everyone in the world can see this! Hashtag ‘Live Superhero’- let everyone know what is happening on this street right now! If there’s one thing you do today- make sure it’s this!”
Sure enough, light bounced off screens as technology- the one thing wizards had refused to allow themselves- was pulled from every possible pocket and bag, and the fingers began pressing buttons, swiping for menus, taking photos and videos...
It was the ministry’s turn to make a move.
“COME OUT, YOU COWARD!” he roared, trying to shield himself from the pictures, but the devices that took them were everywhere.
“WE LOVE YOU!”
“I know!” I cheered back to the two girls. “I love you too! Thanks for saving my ass!”
Then there was a shocked shriek.
“LEAVE HER ALONE!”
An awful thudding sound punctuated his last word.
“COME OUT, SUPERGIRL, OR SHE DIES!”
Tentatively, I raised my head just enough to see over the top of the roof. One of the girls was on the floor, clutching her nose, and the other in a headlock.
He had conjured up another knife, and pressed to her throat.
“Don’t hurt her,” I ordered calmly.
Bitterly, I recognised how clever a move the ministry had made.
“Give yourself up, or she dies!”
I had seconds before he became impatient, before the world began to question the supergirl, but I couldn’t think-
“Shut up,” he snapped.
“Supergirl, call his bluff. Let him kill me,” she said boldly.
I wanted a Time Turner.
It took a few moments and some luck, because he was too distracted to notice my fresh attack, but I finally managed to penetrate his mind.
-I’m gonna have to kill her shit Selwyn is not going to be pleased-
The confirmation that it was- her- that had led this turned my stomach, but had no time to dwell. I yanked myself up just enough haul my arm over the roof and aim a spell accurately with my finger, and slit through his face with a sharp cutting motion. He howled in pain and dropped the knife, grabbing his cheek. The girl scrambled away, taking her friend with her into the protection of the crowd.
“Threaten another innocent person and I will slit your throat!” I snarled, ducking below the wall again.
I glanced sideways, seconds before the shots were fired: my position had been found. I scrambled over edge and threw myself to tumble towards the street as two blasts left holes in the roof-
Falling takes an insanely short amount of time when you roll off a roof and only have two floors to fall, and I only just managed to Apparate before I landed.
For a moment, I froze to check all my limbs were still working, but I’d managed to Apparate myself onto my feet, just up the street.
“Holy hell where did you come from-?“
“RUN!” I barked at the muggle admiring my physically impossible move as I began to do the same towards the crowd, slashing at the man again to remove him from this battle.
“GET OUT OF HERE!” I screamed at them, and they scattered like startled birds.
A blast landed where my feet had been, and the impact nearly knocked me over but I pushed myself back up and never stopped running, I was only running now-
Something that burnt and stung like a bitch scraped my arm, but I kept running and Stunned a man who began to draw his wand-
“In front of muggles, really?”
I made sure to stomp on the wand and snap it in two for good measure as I passed, throwing another Stunner behind me when I felt something sizzle past my left ear- I didn’t hit her, but I forced her to duck and slowed her down by a few precious seconds.
As she slowed, someone grabbed her from behind. I weaved in the road, and dived down a side street at the last moment, ready to Apparate, when I realised what I had seen.
Throwing myself back into the street, I saw that a muggle had grabbed the witch, and was struggling with her.
I screamed at her to let go, but the muggle just told me to run, but they were Stunned and I had to Stun the witch- I dropped to my knees when a well-aimed knife headed straight for my face.
The policeman was back, face still bleeding.
I scrambled to my feet.
“Don’t hurt anyone else, it’s me you’re after, remember!” I yelled desperately. “Statute of Secrecy and all that!”
“As if you care!”
“I’ve never said what I am!” I yelled angrily, Transfiguring the knife into a dart covered in Sleeping potion.
“Collateral damage, anyway, they’re only muggles,” he taunted.
With a flick of my hand, I managed to pierce his thigh with the dart, and he yelped, trying to yank it out. I cheered in victory, already searching for the next muggle being needlessly hurt-
“LOOK OUT!” a voice screamed, and I dropped straight onto the floor, winded, when light shot over my head-
A body flung itself in front of me, and I couldn’t even see who it was, I was trying to stand up- someone tackled the policeman from behind, but his last curse hadn’t been stopped- I panicked, and grabbed the body from behind as it began to fall. I knew instantly that was magic I couldn’t deal with, that was dark magic far beyond me, if I had trained as a Healer, maybe, but not now, I couldn’t-
I realised that the body was a she, blood already rising through her clothes, and god, she’d been hit directly and I couldn’t do anything, she was a dead weight, and as best I could I lowered her to the ground; her head ended up in my lap.
And she was Elizabeth.
My eyes were drawn to her face. It was tightened in pain and I stared down at her, frantic, helpless, needing to stop the bleeding- god, how could the bleeding be everywhere?- and someone was shouting about an ambulance, and the muggles were protecting us, surrounding us, they weren’t letting those goddamn monsters through, they were stopping them, their plan was finished, the muggles weren’t allowing it and there was nothing that could move me now-
I cupped her face and blood smeared across her cheek, but she didn’t notice or know. It struck me was how vivid the colour of it was.
“You got stabbed,” she breathed.
“No, I- superpowers,” I gasped. “Oh my- oh, god- what did you do?”
“Saved you,” she choked, eyes too bright and blood in her mouth on her lips on my hands-
The flat was too far away. I wanted to Accio my dittany, but I knew it was too late and would be too little anyway. I was begging with a god that didn’t exist, with a past that had already happened; with an outcome I could see and couldn’t possibly change.
She was breathing heavily- having run from the flat, I imagined. “If you don’t know that-“ she coughed up blood, tortured coughs that screamed her agony, “then you weren’t worth saving.”
My chest was heaving- I kissed her forehead, stroked her hair, tears falling onto her cheeks that weren’t all hers. “I love you too, you beautiful girl.”
She bit her lip, seizing in pain. Hands tried to steady her, but I batted them away and tightened my grip on her.
“I’m- scared, I’m so scared,” she told me, her tears flowing freely. “I don’t want to die.”
My smile was through agony. “So I know this guy. He died. Sort of- superpowers, basically. He came back to life, and told us superheroes a lot. Heaven is perfect, and hell doesn’t exist- but sweetie, it wouldn’t for you anyway.”
“I told you I wouldn’t lie to you anymore,” I sobbed.
She nodded, her smile faint. “Quite right, too.”
There was so much blood. The more blood was out, the less life was in, I had to stop the bleeding-
“Tell mum and dad I love them,” she said, shallow breathing forcing softness in her tone.
“I will. I will, I promise-“
Her eyes drifted closed.
Too much blood was out, and not enough life was in.
I couldn’t put either back in her veins.
A/N Two more chapters.
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