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Chapter 31 : 31. It's Okay
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It felt like I had been asleep for a century. Every inch of my body felt stiff and weird, as if my arms and legs had all been removed and put together wrong. Nevertheless, I reluctantly opened my eyes, blinking against the bright lights that hit me straight in the face. They were momentarily blocked out when someone leaned over me, looking at me closely.
”Is she awake?” a voice said from far, far away. ”Susie, are you okay? Can you hear me?” the voice said, not sounding so far away anymore.
It was Em.
”Em?” I whispered.
”Thank Merlin,” she breathed, straightening up, and called over her shoulder to someone. ”Theo, she's awake!”
I watched in a daze as Theo joined her, and soon enough, a third person; Midwife Flow.
”We've been going insane here!” Theo fumed, holding my hand carefully, as he peered at me. ”You've been out for three days! We only now got to see you, they--” he said, eyeing Flow with a faint distaste. ”They didn't let us see you!”
”Where is he?” I demanded at once, looking wildly around.
”Who?” Theo said, at the same time as Flow disappeared with Em. I watched them come back, as Flow handed a bundle of blankets wrapped around something tiny to Em, who then eyed me carefully.
”He's fine,” Em told me at once, and I let out a sigh of relief. ”You want to--”
Automatically, I held out my arms, and Em gently put Sid there. He fit so perfectly, it always shocked me. I watched that beautiful face of his, touched his dark curls, and felt my heart swell with relief and love, as I realized he was safe – safe in my arms.
”Not a scar on the kid,” Theo mused, watching us. ”Not even a single hair out of place.”
”He's perfect,” Em agreed, pulling me from my thoughts. ”As he always was.”
I looked up at her, feeling at loss. ”Em...”
”No, don't,” she said, smiling. ”I'm the one who should be apologizing. I let a guy... a guy like him, at that... come between us. If I hadn't thrown such a hissy fit, you wouldn't have moved out, then you wouldn't have been through all that, and--”
”Em, I'm sorry, too,” I whispered, shaking my head. ”And... no one suspected him.”
There was a tense silence, and I watched something pass between Theo and Em.
”What?” I demanded. ”Is there something I don't know?”
”Actually,” Theo said, ignoring Em's glare. ”If it hadn't been for Marcus, you would still be knocked out cold on a floor, and Sid would be--”
”Shut up, Theo, for crying out loud!” Em snapped. ”If it wasn't for Marcus, none of that would've happened in the first place!”
”What happened to him, anyway?” I asked, looking down at Sid to avoid their eyes.
”They're actually handling his case right now,” Theo said, shaking his head. ”I'm the one who never liked the man, you know that, Susie! But, you know... I just feel sorry for the guy! The way it was handled! I mean, he shows up at the Ministry with you and Sid – who was sleeping in an abandoned room, bless him! - and comes with all this 'intel' about Felicia and her goons, and what do they do? Throw him in Azkaban to wait!”
”He confessed?” I said, surprised.
”Everything,” Em said, nodding. ”Your dad right about lost it, you know...”
”He's the Minister of Magic!” Theo huffed. ”It's not a fair trial, if you ask me!”
”What's not fair is your total ignorance of the facts!” Em snapped.
”Please take this outside, people!” Healer Flow cut in, as Theo was about to say something. ”Both of my patients need rest.”
Theo and Em were still bickering under their breath, but my thoughts were somewhere else; somewhere out there, a man was about to get an unfair trial – and even if he was partially guilty, everyone deserved a fair trial.
And on top of that, I would be in the front lines to watch my dad ruin his political career – and all because of me.
I had to do something.
The hearing of Marcus Valois was pushed forward by a week. Apparently, his case and his involvement seemed unclear to some, and more investigations had to be done. And during that week, I did my best to get discharged from the ward.
And the moment I walked out with Theo and Em – Sid strapped safely in a stroller – I turned to them, my eyes wild. ”I need you two to look after Sid for a few hours, okay?”
Theo raised his eyebrows, as Em narrowed her eyes. ”You're not going to do something stupid, are you?”
”No,” I said shortly, as Theo took charge of the stroller.
”Just an odd coincidence that Marcus' hearing is in a few days, right?”
”The oddest ever,” I agreed with a shrug. ”Thanks!” I said, hurrying away.
A few seconds later, I was marching down the familiar path to the Minister of Magic's office. Behind the desk – the desk Miss Andrews had vacated – was now empty. I was about to burst into Nick's office, when the door was opened from the inside, and I almost ran into a man with the largest muscles I had ever seen. He was almost three times as big as I was, and he could best be described as a wall. He had a blank look on his hard face, as he stepped aside, letting me enter. I squeezed awkwardly in through the tiny space between us, stumbling inside. He closed the door behind me, and I quickly tried to gather my dignity and pride, as I looked at the nonplussed look on Nick's face.
He looked as if he had aged a lot. He rested his jaw against his palm, and he was half-slumped over his desk. His normally immaculate robes were crumpled and looked almost too big for him. The dark circles on his eyes made him look even paler.
Who was this man?
”Hi,” I said, sitting down in the chair. ”You look awful.”
”You're one to speak,” he said darkly. He sighed, shrugging. ”Just had a very intense fifteen minutes about some strict rules you need to follow,” he explained, nodding towards the door. ”That was Declan. Declan McGee, your new bodyguard.”
I stared at him in disbelief. ”I thought we'd established that I don't need a bodyguard.”
”McGee is the real thing – no nonsense, you'll like him,” Nick said, leaning back in his chair. ”I'm having you re-located to Argentina. You'll be safe there.”
I continued to stare at him. ”What? Re-locating me? Are you--” I spluttered, when the sudden urge of laughter washed through me. ”I'm not someoen you can just 're-locate' whenever things get tough! I'm not your employee, I'm your daughter, I--”
”YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER, GOD DAMN RIGHT YOU ARE!” he roared, making me jump. ”AND I WILL DAMN WELL HAVE YOU SAFE AND PROTECTED EVEN IF THAT'S THE LAST THING I'LL DO!”
”By using your rank wrongly, giving a man – however guilty and bad he is! - an unfair trial, is that it?” I said coolly, swallowing. ”You really want to become that kind of man? Abusing your power wrongly for personal reasons? You think that's the kind of father anyone would want to have? Or a grandfather?”
Nick watched me silently, before he swivelled around in his chair, turning his back to me. ”This discussion is over,” he said shortly.
”If you give him an unfair trial,” I threatened hotly. ”I will never see you again. I will cut all ties to you, you'll never see Sid or me ever again – and that bodyguard boy out there has nothing on me! Trust me, I know how to disappear without a trace!”
He turned slowly back aorund, his eyes wide with shock. ”What?”
”You heard me,” I said, folding my arms. ”Don't do it. Just let him... let him disappear – you know how to do that, don't you?”
We stared at each other for a moment, before something crossed Nick's face, and his mouth fell open. ”You like him, don't you?”
I blinked at him. ”What?”
”You're in love with that Valois-guy, aren't you?”
”Love has nothing to do with it,” I warned him. ”I dislike him as much as the next person, I just don't think he deserves an unfair trial because of something that wasn't entirely his fault!”
”HE CAME BACK FOR ME!” I cut him off loudly, slamming my fist against his desk. ”OKAY!? He – came – back!”
”Felicia Hunt had him--”
”Punish Felicia, then, if you must!” I told him. ”You know she was the mastermind behind it all. I've heard the true story; Marcus Valois had no part in the original plan, he didn't know what Felicia had in mind!”
”He... he...” he stammered, trying to find something to hold against Marcus. ”He likes you,” he announced suddenly.
”Is that a crime, sir?” I whispered, staring at him. ”Liking someone? Is that what he's being accused of? I doubt he would deny it, even if I say so myself...”
”This is not a joke, Susan,” he scolded.
”Then stop acting in a way that will make you a joke,” I murmured. ”Please – I beg you... dad.”
He seemed surprised by my last word, and so did I. ”Sir,” I corrected after a moment.
He flashed me the tiniest smile, before sighing. ”When did you become so righteous?”
”Being righteous and being right are two totally different things,” I told him quietly. ”Thank you, sir.”
”You make me a better man,” he sighed, turning around in his chair as he cleared his throat, clearly emotional. ”I'll probably regret this later, I just know it...!”
”I did have another thing to say, though...” I began carefully.
He was facing me again, his eyes narrowed with suspicion. ”Are you making fun of me?”
”Not at all, sir,” I said innocently. ”I just wanted to personally invite you to your only grandchild's christening.”
Nick blinked at me, before smiling. ”Oh. I'd... I'd love to come.”
”Good,” I said with a tiny smile. ”It's in three weeks. Be there, or... just be there, okay?”
I didn't wait for his answer – I didn't need one. I knew he would be there.
A/N: How many of you have had a busy week? I sure have! Phew - atleast i came out with a new chapter :)
- Lily xxx
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