Chapter 1 : Life Goes On
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“I don’t want to die,” he’d whispered fearfully. She hadn’t known what to say. “I’m only seventeen. I don’t want to die,” he’d repeated.
So was she.
The hand holding his had tightened.
He’d cried, “I’m going to die. Please don’t let me die. Please.” His tears had left tracks from the grime on his face. “Please,” he’d begged.
She’d bent down and hugged him. They’d both been crying. She’d kissed his blood-stained forehead and said, “I don’t know what I can do. I’m so sorry.”
He’d continued to cry until his breathing became shallow. He’d gasped and wheezed and with one last helpless look, he’d slumped and stopped. She didn’t know how long she was sitting with the dead boy in her arms. Then she tried to lift him but he was too heavy.
She’d collapsed to the floor, still holding the lifeless body to her own, convulsing with sobs.
Someone had then arrived and helped her move the boy to place him in the Great Hall.
She’d sat with him, her hand clasping his and stayed silent. When another witch came to talk to Susan about him, she’d said she didn’t even know his name.
The witch had touched her arm softly before leaving.
Susan remembered casting her eyes around the Great Hall, watching people mourn. The Weasley family was huddled around a body she couldn’t identify. Her old Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher holding an unfamiliar woman’s hand — both dead. A woman was gripping at the body beneath her and yowling as the man knelt next to her looking shattered.
She couldn’t cope and gave the young boy one last hopeless look that he would never return and ran out the doors. She’d stopped once she was at a set of blown up stairs.
Rocks had been smashed, the paintings torn, and blood smears and dust everywhere. It was no longer the home she remembered.
Susan woke up from her sleep, screaming. She sobbed and held herself, her nails digging into her pale arms.
She felt his warm blood on her body. His pleas and cries.
Susan threw the bedsheets off and ran to the library. Her family was gone, all killed, and it hurt to be in the house but she couldn’t leave.
She frantically pulled out the book of dangerous spells she’d been reading last night and looked for where she’d left off.
It was like this every night. She’d been through so many books, searching for the spell he was hit with. She’d tried all sorts of things such as Episkey and Dittany but none of them worked.
So she’d held him.
She continued to search until she fell asleep, her chin propped up by her left hand and the book laying open on her lap, right hand ready to turn the page.
She said a quiet, “Hello,” to her boss, Cartus who gave her a smile and waved when she walked into Flourish and Blotts. Susan put her bag in the back and tied her apron at the neck.
Cartus asked that she start sorting through the boxes and put the books away. Susan set herself to work, counting the books flying out of the boxes. It was peaceful. She completed three boxes without any distracting customers.
She opened the fourth box. Her breath hitched in her throat as her eyes skimmed over the spiky green letters spelling out, ‘Surviving the War.’
Looking over her shoulder, she saw Cartus preoccupied with paperwork. She opened the book and flicked through the pages describing the Battle.
Her eyes welled up and her knuckles turned white. She flicked through more pages, breathing quickly. As she was passing all those pages, something caught her eye. She read, ‘The Names of the Fallen’.
Her quick breathing stopped. With shaky hands, she looked for her surname. She caught it almost immediately. Her hands brushed against the small letters as if that would bring them back.
She sat down slowly, holding the book and stared at their names.
Wiping at her eyes, she turned over the page. She saw dozens of names she recognised and she cried for them. Her mind flickered to the Slytherin boy and suddenly she was pulled back to holding his lifeless corpse.
Her heartbeat quickened and she shook violently. Everything spun and Susan held the book to her chest, squeezing her eyes shut to try to stop the image of Hogwarts in ruins. The Great Hall filled with the silent dead and the devastated living.
A voice ordered, “Breathe in for five seconds and then out through your nose. Keep going until you’ve calmed down.” She obeyed and the image of Hogwarts crumbling started to slowly ebb away.
After she relaxed, she opened her eyes and saw Padma Patil in front of her. “Padma?” she asked in shock.
“Susan Bones?” Susan nodded. “I’m actually Parvati.”
“Sorry,” she apologised. “W-Why are you here?”
Parvati sat with her legs crossed underneath. “I came in here to buy a book and I saw you. Did you want to go outside and get some fresh air?” she asked kindly.
“I’m working,” Susan said unsurely. Parvati blinked in surprise.
“Oh!” she said, tucking a strand of her dark hair behind her ear. “I didn’t realise you were working here. Can you ask your boss if you can take a break?”
“I can,” Susan responded hesitantly. “But I don’t know if I should. Other than him, I’m the only one working here and he’s rather frail…”
Parvati smiled sadly at the young redhead. “He’s a wizard. I think it’ll be fine. Just take a few minutes off. Take a breather, get a warm croissant?” she suggested.
“That does sound nice,” Susan admitted. “Let me just ask.” She stood up and put the book aside, wiped under her eyes and approached Cartus timidly. She looked behind her and saw Parvati smile encouragingly at her.
“Mr Blott?” Susan asked, wincing at the way her voice cracked.
“Yes, dear?” He smiled gently at Susan.
“I’ve just run into an old friend and I was hoping to take my break a bit earlier than usual?” she asked, looking at her shoes.
“Of course, dear! Take all the time you need. It’s a slow day today,” he said kindly.
“Thank you, sir,” Susan said gratefully. She then walked to Parvati who beamed.
“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Parvati asked, opening the door and letting Susan walk out. Susan smiled bashfully. Parvati said, “Have you been to that new café in Muggle London? The food is phenomenal.”
Susan shook her head. She had no idea about any cafés in Muggle London. She let Parvati lead the way and they chatted about what they had been up to since the end of school. Padma returned to school but Parvati opted to start working as an Auror.
They sat down in the café and Susan ordered a hot chocolate as Parvati ordered a slice of cake. Once the waitress left, she turned to Susan. “Have you talked to anyone about the panic attacks you’ve been having?” she asked quietly.
Susan glanced down at her shaking hands in her lap. Parvati understood and her eyes softened. “I know it’s tough, but you have to stop letting it take over your life.”
She glanced up at Parvati, her eyes swimming with tears. “I can’t,” she said in a broken whisper. “It’s so hard. I just keep seeing the Great Hall.”
Parvati reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Life is for the living. Try not to think about the ones passed, but think of the ones who survived. Of course none of us are ever going to heal from what happened but it’s silly if we waste it by hiding. We should make the most of it.”
Susan wiped underneath her eyes. “It’s just so hard.”
“Of course it’s going to be hard,” she said gently, letting go of Susan’s shoulder. “You got through a war. You can get through anything now.”
She smiled at Susan comfortingly. Susan took a shuddering breath and Parvati said, “Live a long, happy life, Susan. Recover — Mungos is offering help to anyone who asks — and go live. Don’t let the war define who you are as a person. Because you’re so much more.”
Susan glanced out the café window. The waitress brought their hot chocolate and cake. Susan blew on it before taking a sip. Someone stumbled outside. Another person picked up their bags. Parvati took a bite of her cake.
Life went on.
Final word count: 1,494 words
So I don't know if this is that great as I wrote it very hastily and my final product actually nearly had 3,000 words so I had to edit all those words out which took me all night but oh well!
This is for the House Cup over on the forums. I used prompt 2 which was 'Write about overcoming adversity to remember that fear and darkness are short-lived.'
Hope you all enjoyed!
- Kayla :)
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