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Chapter 17 : Meet Norah
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Disclaimer: I only own my OCs and the plot but everything you recognise from the Harry Potter world does not belong to me but the talented J.K. Rowling.
“W-what do you mean?” I whispered, the blood pooling at the bottom of my feet and I was instantly sober. My whole body was frozen, even James knew something was wrong because he had stopped moving and was watching me in concern.
“I mean exactly that Elle, Dad’s given the doctor’s permission.” Charity’s voice strained even further and I could tell she was trying hard not to cry on the phone.
“He can’t… he said he wouldn’t…” My body immediately sprang into action and I climbed off of James, pulled on the nearest clothes to me which just so happened to be a pair of grey joggers and a baggy white shirt.
“Elle, I know he probably wouldn’t want to see you now but you need to be here… you’ll regret it if you don’t.” She advised me and I agreed.
“I know, I know. I’ll get there as quick as possible, just… try and stall him, please.” The lump in my throat was getting bigger and bigger, tears were already starting to form and I was blinking furiously because I didn’t want them to fall. I had cried way too much over this and I didn’t want to fall back into that old routine again.
“Elle…?” James’ voice just made me feel worse. I quickly said goodbye to Charity and hurried around, putting my hair up into a messy ponytail, manoeuvring a bra on underneath my shirt and pulling some sandals onto my feet.
“James, just… please don’t.” I muttered back to him, wiping away a tear that had escaped onto my cheek inconspicuously.
“What’s wrong?” I could feel him move towards me but I walked to the other side of the room, pretending to look for something. I just couldn’t deal with James right at this minute, he had no idea what was going on and I was at a complete loss on what to do.
“I don’t… I don’t know,” I sniffed, the overwhelming sense of helplessness took over and the tears burst like a dam, “I don’t know what to do, James.” As fast as lightning, he was by my side and pulling me to him in a bone-crushing embrace.
“Sssh, it’s okay. It’ll be okay, Elle," he comforted me, his arms wrapping around me so tightly like he was the only thing keeping me together at this moment in time. And he basically was. I felt like if he was to let me go, I would crumble to the floor in pieces and there would be no way of putting me back together, “What’s wrong? What’s happened?” He whispered so softly. I remembered that I needed to be there right now so I pulled out of his arms and looked up at him, still crying.
“I need to go,” I picked up the small bag that I had hurriedly packed, “I’ll explain but please, right now I need to go,” I rubbed away the tears in my eyes and held my arm out for him to take, looking up at him with bloodshot eyes hopefully, “Please come with me, I can’t do this by myself.” I pleaded desperately.
“Of course I’ll come with you, I’d never leave you by yourself.” He came to stand by me immediately, grasping my arm and I closed my eyes, focussing on where we needed to go before turning on the spot. Dreading opening my eyes, I unpeeled them slowly and took in the sight before me. The hospital towered over us with pristine white walls and polished windows and I had an overwhelming sense of going to my deathbed. Especially because my Dad was inside and the whole situation surrounding this visit.
“Are we going in?” James’ voice broke my apprehensive thoughts and I looked at him completely blank.
“I…” I started but a large part of me was telling me to run and hide away from everyone but it was too late because James was gently dragging me inside. The lump in my throat became bigger and bigger the closer I got to the reception desk. The panic rising, the room was getting hotter and I swear I couldn’t breathe.
“Elle, are you okay?” James asked unsurely, “You don’t have to do this if you’re uncomfortable.” He carried on, squeezing my hand to reassure me, and it a worked a little, but that loud voice in my head was still telling me to high-tail it. That nothing good could come of this meeting.
“N-no… I need to… do this.” I tried to slow my breathing so I didn’t have a mental breakdown in the middle of a hospital waiting room. As I took the first step towards the reception desk, where a woman in her forties was typing away furiously at a computer, the desk seemed to suddenly zoom so that it was at least a few metres away. But with James reassuring me softly, I kept putting my feet one after the other until I finally reached the desk.
“May I help you?” She asked without looking up, everything about her screamed tired. Her bun had tendrils hanging down, her face had dropped into an unimpressed scowl and her eyes were slowly drooping.
“Erm… I was wondering… i-if you could tell me where…” I took a deep breath as I closed my eyes so I could force the next few words out without crying, “Norah Underwood is.” She was giving me a confused yet scared for my sanity look and began furiously typing at her keyboard again.
“She’s in room 34F on floor three.” She directed us towards a set of elevators and in my hurry to get away, James had to turn around and mutter a polite thank you. My nerves and thoughts were all over the place and I was just so lost, I wasn’t even sure if James could help me this time.
“Norah’s your younger sister, isn’t she?” He asked quietly after the elevator doors shut in front of us. We were in one of those elevators that had mirrors all around you so that you could see how dejected or miserable you looked. My eyes were heavily bloodshot from the tears, my cheeks were red and puffy and my hair was a complete mess. No wonder the reception woman was scared for my life. I felt like a mess on the inside and now, I guess, it reflected on the outside.
The clothes, I now realised, were actually James’ and they were way too baggy. So much so that the t-shirt came to about mid-thigh and I had to pull the drawstrings on the joggers really tight so that they wouldn’t fall down and reveal the black lace knickers that I was still wearing. I just nodded in response to his question because I was scared that as soon as I opened my mouth, an unintelligible squawk would come out followed by a new round of tears.
So I let the lump in my throat get larger and larger until it physically hurt to swallow and my bottom lip was shaking so hard. We walked slowly down the corridor, checking the room numbers on our sides of the hall but it turned out room 34F was around the end with three seats lined up outside. The door was wedged open just a little and I could see Charity sat on a hospital chair, staring at something on the wall facing us. She saw me and immediately got up and came outside, closing the door behind her.
“Hey.” She embraced me tightly as the tears that I forbade from falling streamed down my face.
“Hi,” I mumbled into her shoulder. The air around us was thick with tension because any minute now my Dad would appear and I was sure that chaos would follow, “Where are Darrell and the kids?” I asked to distract myself from the situation.
“At home,” she answered, leaning against the wall looking worse for wear, “I got the call at around one, came here and called you an hour later. Darrell has booked today off anyway so he can look after Ruari and Gabby.” She explained.
“Does he know…?”
“Yeah, I explained it to him before I left. He said he was going to drop the kids off with his Mum and come and see me later on today,” she reached forward and grabbed my hand, “How are you doing?”
“I don’t really know…” I stared at the door nervously, “I’m just scared Dad’s gonna come round the corner any minute.” I whispered.
“I told him to go down to the cafeteria to have something to eat. He just left five minutes ago so you should be good for about half an hour,” she hugged me again, “How’s the wedding planning going? I got your invite but I haven’t had time to reply. I was going to today but… circumstances.” She nodded her head towards the door.
“It’s good, we have almost everything sorted now.” James answered for me, coming to stand beside me and holding my other hand.
“You got your dress?” she looked at me and I nodded in response, “Do you wanna go and see her?” she asked quietly and my breathing sped up again. I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready for this but if this was the only opportunity to see her before Dad gets back then I guess I’d have to make myself ready.
“Okay.” I breathed out deeply, closed my eyes and approached the door with Charity. Her dark ginger hair was fanned out around her pale head on the pillow and a multitude of tubes were coming in and out of her nose and mouth. A steady beeping in the corner was the only thing that was reminding me she was still alive. The fact that in the next few hours that beeping would no longer be there frightened me and I couldn’t imagine losing her as well.
“Have the doctor’s said when they’re going to do it?” I swallowed past the lump as I stared at my lifeless baby sister.
“They said they’re gonna give her an injection of morphine then slowly decrease the amount of air the life support machine is giving her until she…” Charity’s eyes filled with tears and I could hear the strain on her voice as she tried to stay calm. Because that’s what Charity did, she was always the one who stayed calm and collected whenever something major happened but I could see that cool exterior crumbling as she watched Norah. My arms wrapped around her instantly as we both started crying into each other’s shoulders. Completely forgetting James was there, I went to stand right next to her side and grasped Norah’s hand. I gasped when I felt how limp and cold it was but I tightened my grip anyway, brushing a little bit of her ginger hair out of the way of her face.
“Elle, I’m gonna go and book us in a hotel room for today and tomorrow, okay?” James whispered and I turned to face him.
“Okay,” I replied quietly as well, accepting the slow kiss on my lips and watching him leave the room so that it was just myself and Charity left, “I don’t think it was a good idea for me to be here, Char.” I announced to the quiet room.
“You had to be here, Elle… you needed to see her.” She replied from where she was sat on the other side of Norah’s bed. Her thumb was casually stroking the back of her hand as if she could possibly feel it.
“Not really. It just brings up painful memories and guilt.”
“How many times do I have to tell you that it’s not your fault?!” Charity hissed angrily and I shrank in my seat, ignoring the look she was giving me and staring at Norah’s hand that I was currently holding.
“But it was, Char… and you know full well that it was,” I said through clenched teeth. She sighed loudly and decided to drop the subject for now and I looked at the bedside clock that read 3:24am just as I yawned. James came back in ten minutes later, hovering awkwardly at the doorway, “You can come in, James.” I said quietly, standing up so he could sit in my seat before sitting back in his lap.
“I’ve booked us in at the nearest B&B that was open.” He answered, yawning loudly but widening his eyes so he could stay awake with me.
“Go to sleep, James, I’ll wake you up when something happens.” I laid my head against his as he yawned again.
“No, I want to stay awake if you are too.” He vehemently replied, his arms wrapping around my waist and squeezing reassuringly.
“Thank you.” I whispered, kissing him on the cheek graciously and smiling a bit when he Smiled at me. We stayed in silence for another ten minutes, occasionally pointing out medial things like what time it was or that it was getting light outside already.
“What is she doing here?” Dad entered the room holding a cup of coffee in his hand, staring at me in shock and disgust.
“Dad, she’s Norah’s sister too… she has every right to be here.” Charity stuck up for me but it was useless.
“I don’t care if she’s her sister! She caused this!” he shouted, making me wince and let him shout at me, “I want her out!” He screeched, putting his coffee on the side and staring at me with such malice. James tensed underneath me.
“Dad, please! I was the one who rang her, just let her stay!” Charity was shouting at Dad too but I was staring at the floor, more tears making their appearance as everything that Dad had wanted to say for the last two years was now coming out.
“No, I’m not having a murderer in the same room! ALL THIS IS HER FAULT AND SHE IS THE REASON THAT NORAH IS LAY THERE LIKE A VEGETABLE! SHE IS THE REASON I HAVE TO TELL THE DOCTOR’S TO LET HER DIE!” he shrieked, paying no attention to the fact that there were multiple patients still in this ward that were probably sleeping, “I’VE LOST MY WIFE AND NOW I’M LOSING MY DAUGHTER THANKS TO THAT MISTAKE SAT RIGHT THERE!” He pointed a shaky finger at me.
“Excuse me? What is happening?” A nurse popped her head round the door to see what all the ruckus was about.
“I WANT HER OUT!” He yelled in the nurse’s face whilst pointing at me so I stood up quietly.
“There is no need to shout, sir,” she reprimanded him politely, “And she is free to stay if she wishes to…?” She turned her head to me and I could feel the hole that my Dad was burning in my head.
“It doesn’t matter… we’ll just leave.” I looked over at Charity who looked so apologetic but I just gave her an understanding nod, grabbing James’ hand and walking out of the room with the nurse. As soon as we had left, my Dad slammed the door shut behind us and I jumped in surprise.
“This is entirely unfair!” James exclaimed angrily, I could feel his grip on my hand tightening in anger.
“James… just drop it.” I muttered quietly, walking down the corridor again and towards the elevators to leave.
“No, I will not drop it! That’s your sister in there, she’s about to pass away and your Dad’s not letting you in! That’s ridiculous! You’re allowed to see her before she goes!” He ranted, pacing back and forth behind me.
“James! Stop it, please!” I yelled, the tears from before already falling onto my cheeks and down my face.
“You know what?” he suddenly said, ignoring my pleading looks, “We’re gonna march back in there and we’re going to stay in that room whether your Dad likes it or not!” He turned around and started marching back to the room but I grabbed his hand and yanked it back so he stopped walking.
“James… you don’t understand!” I tried to hold him back, “James, listen please!” He stopped walking and turned around to face me with his hands on his hips.
“It was my fault, okay?” I babbled the truth because I was pretty sure that James was gonna hate me after this, “My Dad was right, I am the reason why Norah is in there right now. It was all my fault,” he looked like he was about to interrupt me but I carried on, feeling really afraid of admitting the next statement but I had to tell him because he needed to know everything now. I was in love with him and there was no way he’d want to get married to me once he found out, “It was me… I killed my Mum.”
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