Chapter 73: Laila
Once Erela had her things in a bag, she left her flat. She didn't even wait for Markus to come home to tell him goodbye, she knew she'd see him at work anyway. And knowing that, going to the Ministry every day was going to be hell.
She made it all the way to Laila's house on foot and hesitated knocking on the door. She couldn't bring herself to go to her parents place, they'd ask questions. Erela couldn't go to Michael, he'd ask questions AND make her feel guilty for planning a wedding that would never happen. With Laila and her kid, at least she knew the asks wouldn't be as terrible.
At least she hoped.
She took in a deep breath and knocked on the door.
Erela waited, heard a muffled voice behind the door when the door opened. "Oh, hi Erela. What are you doing here? You scared me using the door."
Erela weakly smirked at Laila and ran a hand through her hair. "Sorry, didn't want to risk anything with Apparating here," she explained. She was far too distracted to even think about appearing somewhere else and possibly lose a hand for it. It would have been too horrific for Stephanie to witness something like that anyway. "And um . . . sorry having to ask now instead of before, may I stay here awhile? Markus and I . . . well, we're no longer a thing . . ." Erela shrugged as casually as she could muster.
Laila's smile faded into pursed lips with matching furrowed brows. She opened the door wide enough to let Erela in. "Of course, honey. You can sleep in Steph's room and she can sleep with me . . ."
"Thank you," she nodded and went inside once the door was wide enough for her to slip through. "And you don't have to kick Stephanie out of her room. I'll be fine with the couch," she insisted and tossed her bag to the couch. She had gotten used to Wisenburg's couch anyway.
"Okay, well how about you clean up and we'll go to dinner," Laila smiled.
Erela pursed her lips and looked down at herself, forgetting she looked more like a boy than anything. Yeah, cleaning up would be best.
She heard tiny feet coming their way. Right on cue, Stephanie came in with a big blouse like dress with a belt tied around her waist and high heels that didn't fit her at all. Went through Laila's clothes again, of course. "Auntie Erela!"
She heard then felt the little five-year-old tackle her with a hug. "Oh my gosh, hey Steph," Erela lightly smiled and pat the little girl's head.
"Are you spending the night? Why didn't you tell me!" Stephanie asked.
"She is! She's gonna stay with us for a little while. Hey, why don't you get Stephanie clothes on and we'll go to dinner."
The girl smiled and dashed back down the hallway.
"And Erela, when she's asleep you're going to tell me what the fuck is going on."
Damn, and she thought only the werewolf was able to make her nervous. Laila had developed the stern front from her years of raising Stephanie alone and she swore she hardened like a rock.
"Alright . . ." Erela pursed her lips and went to fish something appealing to wear for dinner.
Erela took a dress from her bag and went into the bathroom to wash her face and hair to get any dirt out from being the forest for a week then slipped into her dress. She scruffed up her wet hair, did some face touch ups, and went out when she was good and ready.
She glanced over to Laila, cleaned up and lovely as always, for a second as she went over to her bag and shoved her arm through her little bag and caught hold of a jacket.
"So what's new in the past month?" she asked.
"Uh, not much. We've been talking about going to muggle school for a little bit, and we decided Mommy can probably handle it," Laila answered, placing a hand on Stephanie's head and herding her daughter out the door, not daring to ask how her last month had been.
Erela steered clear of any mention to what had been going on the past month with Stephanie around. But she knew the storm of questions would come at her once she was asleep and had the two women alone.
After dinner, Erela changed into sleep wear and couldn't wait to get some sleep. It was just an exhausting day she wanted over.
She plopped onto the couch and closed her eyes with a couch cushion over her face to block out the ceiling light.
Laila put Stephanie in her bed and that kid was out like a light. She changed and walked out into the living room where she found Erela on the couch. The blonde fell into the love seat across from the couch. "Well you've got some explaining to do, Ela," she started, clearing her throat.
Erela kept herself from scoffing at her, something she swore she picked up from the ever so snarky man she had spent more time the past month than anything else. Instead, she let out a quiet sigh, pulled the pillow off her face, and sat upright.
"Yeah . . ." She agreed. "It's a long story . . ." Erela began.
"I'm my own boss, honey, I have the time," Laila replied then raised her brows.
How on earth did the woman have the energy with a five-year-old to take care of, on her own too. It was completely beyond Erela and she was constantly pushing papers and once in a while running around after the wanted, even she knew she wouldn't have the energy to take care of a child.
"Okay . . . well . . . I kind of . . . went off on a little manhunt. Or starting to, but haven't reached a conclusion," Erela started and leaned back against the arm of the couch. "What got me to do this is because . . ." She was going to sound insane once she said it, "I saw Stacee. Or at least hallucinated."
Laila let out a big sigh and ran a hand through her blonde hair. "Ela, Stacee isn't the type to hang around past his time, and this doesn't explain why you and Markus split and why your on my couch."
"I'm getting there . . ." She sighed too. She heard it ready, she got the message he wouldn't stick around, reason was why she called it a hallucination. "Thinking it was some subconscious calling or something, I went looking for the guy that got him . . . Getting absolutely nowhere . . . I seeked help . . . from Landon," she finally managed to tell. Not just forcing the words out, but actually saying his name.
The blonde witch pursed her lips into a thin line, "Landon! Oh my god I thought he went rogue! How is he?" Laila paused, "Wait a minute, Landon is on the dangerous witches and wizards list. Erela, honey I know you two were friends and Stacee only ever had praise for him but—that's not a good idea. And you're an Auror. You are endangering your job and yourself."
Thank you for stating the obvious, Laila . . .
"I know I know," she groaned almost in a quiet whine and pressed her face into her palms. Erela let out a sigh then ran her hands through her hair, keeping her eyes to the ground. "He and I were seeing each other for the work only in secret. And . . . well . . . my emotions got out of hand . . ." Erela continued, "I said something stupid to him and it completely affected how I feel for Markus."
"Christ, Ela," Laila muttered and pinched the bridge of her nose. She really had no words for how stupid Erela's actions were and she obviously knew they were wrong, but did that make it better or worse?
"Yeah," she nodded. "So that happened . . . feeling guilty that that was happening when I was with Markus . . . I had to break it off," Erela finished and leaned back. She was such an idiot. An impulsive idiot . . .
"I don't even really know what to say to you," the mother sighed and pulled her legs up underneath her, followed by running a frustrated hand through her hair. "I mean you FUCKED up but I know you know you fucked up . . . So I'm not going to nag at you."
Erela couldn't help but purse her lips, her eyes still completely avoiding hers. And she was right. Probably because she knew she was right she didn't want to look her in the eye. She greatly appreciated that the woman wouldn't nag her for screwing up her life, but a part of Erela felt like she deserved to be yelled at. To be told that she needed to pull herself together.
But Laila knew when to not overstep her boundaries.
"I'm really stupid, aren't I?" she asked inaudibly, mostly questioning herself rather than to her friend. "I don't even know what I'm doing anymore . . ."
Laila rolled her eyes, "Alright, I'm going to bed then." She pursed her lips and pushed up from the couch. "Goodnight."
"Night," Erela answered and fell back into her cushion and pillow. Still felt like crap and still felt empty.
The lights turned off behind Laila and up the stairs she went. Erela pressed the pillow over her face again and closed her eyes, everything went dark almost instantaneously. Red and warmth ran down her face, arms, and chest. She felt week . . . dizzy . . . there was a body in front of her, limp and white. Blood ran from their ears, but she couldn't make out the face. Her ears were ringing, the terrible screeching sound ringing in her head. Erela pressed her hands against her ears to block out the noise, but it only grew louder.
Make it stop . . . why wouldn't it stop . . .?
She tried to pull it back behind the walls, to make the screeching noise stop, but it never ceased. She had no control over it . . . couldn't control it . . .
CAN'T control it . . .!
Erela jolted awake, her eyes wide and stared up at the ceiling. She pressed her hand to her forehead and wiped the cold sweat from her forehead . . . something was going to happen . . .
Soon . . .