Chapter 29: Joy Will Burn Out the Pain
The carriage jumped up and down as we raced to take off from the ground.
My knuckles were white as I clung to the door handle. I stared out of the window and watched the trees become small patches of green on the ground. I felt myself pale and my stomach dropped. I turned my head slowly to look back into the carriage. The rest of them were feeling the same way as me, I could see it in the way they clung to each other.
My eyes came to rest on Demitri. She was sitting next to Dumbledore with her head resting back against the seat, her eyes were closed and a tear slowly dripped out from under her surprisingly dark eye-lashes. Dumbledore’s ringed hand appeared on Demitri’s shoulder. I stared at the hand and saw it slowly contract as it gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. Demitri’s eyes opened with the pressure and she turned her head to look at Dumbledore. He smiled at her. She smiled back. Another tear made a trail down her face and came to rest in the line of her tight smile. She wiped it away.
I glanced around the carriage and saw that everyone else was too worried about themselves to notice the little exchange. I found myself thanking Merlin for some reason.
A couple of moments later, the carriage jolted and Jasmine screamed loudly. I covered my ears quickly and looked at her resentfully.
‘It’s nothing to be afraid of, Miss Kilter!’ Dumbledore told her cheerfully.
She nodded but she didn’t look reassured. The carriage jolted again and she screamed louder, her hands both gripping the handle of her door were white.
Dumbledore tried to calm her down as she hyperventilated but it took time for her to settle down.
Once she was comfortable again she asked, ‘So you’ve seen death, Snape?’
My heart jumped. Demitri looked at Jasmine as though horrified that she could ask someone such a question. Dumbledore’s face was impassive and Holly and Kelly were looking at me expectantly.
‘Yes…’ I told them uncertainly.
‘The Battle,’ I shivered as I remembered seeing people drop to the ground.
‘Oh,’ Jasmine said as if she was disappointed. ‘What about you Demitri?’
‘Now, now Miss Kilter! I hardly think that these are appropriate questions to ask your classmates,’ Dumbledore said sternly, finally stepping in to protect Demitri.
‘Thank you, Professor, but it’s fine,’ Demitri said gratefully. ‘My mother. She was killed in a muggle car accident when I was five.’
‘Oh, sorry,’ Jasmine said and she sounded as though she meant it this time.
The carriage was silent.
‘How long until we get there, Professor?’ Holly asked as she pushed her glasses up her nose slightly.
‘Not long, really. Maybe Miss Fortescue would like to tell us… some more about her mother?’ Dumbledore looked at Demitri for confirmation.
Demitri nodded timidly. She swallowed and readjusted her position on the seat.
‘Well, I don’t remember her all that well. All I know is what my father’s told me… and what I see in photos. Well… she was beautiful,’ Demitri smiled slightly and exhaled sharply in sad laughter. ‘Dad always talks about how much he loved mum’s flyaway red, curly hair. I remind him of her I think. I try to be as much like her as I can because from what dad has said, she was a wonderful person.’
The carriage was completely silent. The only sound was the faint flapping of the Thestrals wings.
‘She was comfortable with who she was. She never wavered from her way of life because of what people said and other people’s opinions didn’t worry her. Nothing could change her but herself. She was a muggle, my mother. But dad still fell hard for her. Not that my father is prejudiced or anything!’ Demitri corrected herself hurriedly. ‘But there was something about the way she smiled that… and the way she carried herself, dad says… that made him fall in love with her. She was her own kind of magic,’ Demitri finished softly.
There wasn’t a sound from within the carriage as we sat, just staring at Demitri’s sad, smiling face. It was such a heart-warming, sad story and the way she told it had sent goose bumps and trembles scrambling up my spine. But she wasn’t finished, not yet.
‘Then, one day, she went out in her car to run a few errands around the muggle shops. Someone went through a red light (which means to stop by the way) and hit her. It sliced the car cleanly in half. Both drivers were killed. But the car crash killed three people.’
I looked at her in confusion.
‘My mother was pregnant with my little brother, Calix. She was only about half way through the pregnancy when she died… but I would have had a younger brother if it wasn’t for the accident. That’s one of the reasons it makes me so sad really. My family went from four to two in a matter of seconds.’
Shock. That’s what hit me. Really hard in the chest. I gasped involuntarily. The thought of living with my father without my mother scared me. Imagine if I was to have a younger sister… finally a feminine balance in the household… and to have everything wiped away and told to me in a few words.
‘Tragic,’ Dumbledore said softly.
‘Yes,’ I agreed just as quietly.
Dumbledore turned his head to look out the window and from this new view I could see properly behind his glasses and a glistening tear appeared at the corner or his eye.
Turning back he said, ‘We’ll be there in a few minutes now. I just wanted to prepare you for what you are going to see. Lily is not herself. Don’t go into the hospital expecting to see your friend. There will be a few weeks until she is herself again. Her injuries should be mostly healed though.’
I nodded instead of speaking as a lump appeared in my throat.
The others replied, ‘Yes.’
I felt the carriage start to descend and the Thestrals’ wings slowed as the carriage touched down and we went flying along the ground, bumping along quite unpleasantly until we finally came to a stop.
I opened the door and hopped out quickly. The others followed.
My heart had begun to beat faster and harder, quite painful against my ribcage.
The building was completely white. The big, white, double front doors swung open as we approached and a woman in a completely white, perfectly pressed uniform stood waiting, her hands clasped in front of her.
‘Good morning,’ she said, smiling sweetly. ‘Are you Lily’s friends?’ she asked us, bending over slightly to get on our level.
‘Yes, we’re Lily’s friends,’ Jasmine confirmed while the rest of us nodded.
‘Well I’m Kary.’ She pointed to her name badge.’“As in car with a y. Kary. Let me guess… Jasmine,’ she said, pointing to Jasmine, ‘Demitri,’ she pointed to Demitri, ‘Holly,’ she pointed to Holly, ‘Kelly,’ she pointed to Kelly, ‘and Severus,’ she pointed to me.
‘How did you know?’ Holly gasped.
‘As we explained in our letter, she talks about you a lot,’ she smiled. ‘I’m the nurse she gave a headache. I’m her main nurse. I’ve been looking after her basically since she got here. Did you want to come and see her?’
I nodded tentatively, blood rushing in my ears, everyone else nodded too.
We followed her through halls of white. It was like a maze. There were no numbers on the doors and no signs. How do people find their way around this place?
They don’t. Was the answer that came from somewhere deep in my mind. My stomach dropped.
Nurse Kary turned around as she walked and walked backwards. ‘I’m afraid she’s just lain down for her mid-morning sleep. Of course you can still see her if you’re eager. You just will have to go in one at a time and be very quiet so you do not wake her. When she is woken up for lunch you can have a chat.’
‘Who wants to go first?’ Kary asked us.
My hand shot up more quickly than the others but Dumbledore said, ‘Ladies first, Severus, ladies first.’
I lowered my hand slowly.
Time dragged on as, one at a time, the girls walked into the room then walked out minutes later, bawling their eyes out.
I sat in a pristinely white chair and waited my turn. My eyes were starting to hurt from no break in the white of the hospital.
Finally, Holly came out of the room with her hands over her face. The others rushed to comfort her.
‘I can’t bear it,’ Holly cried just to be hushed by Kary.
‘Severus? It’s your turn now.’
I got up shakily and walked through the door. Hope, making my heart flutter uncontrollably.
Lily’s room was a huge contrast to the rest of the holidays. The white walls were hung with drawings of animals and the room was filled with flowers that added colour and light to the room. I smiled.
Then I saw her.
Her dark-red hair was splayed out in contrast on her white pillow behind her, forming a kind of red halo. Her face was quite pale, nearly green and her beautiful eyes were closed in a peaceful sleep.
A heavy weight pulled at my chest and a lump formed in my throat as I walked towards her ever so slowly, my footsteps echoed off the walls.
There was a single, white chair at her bedside. I pulled it out slowly, trying to make as little sound as possible and lower myself onto the chair. It was still warm.
I gazed at her for what felt like moments but was probably more like five minutes until I plucked up the courage to reach for her hand.
There was no sound except for a wizarding clock ticking constantly. It whittled away the time slowly.
I swallowed again and took a deep breath as my warm fingers brushed her cold hand. I took it in mine. I rubbed it with two of my hands in an attempt to warm her up.
‘You’re cold,’ I managed to choke out in the silence. My voice was strained and horribly loud in the quiet. It echoed slightly.
Still holding her hand I began to speak, gazing at her beautiful face. ‘You missed a lot.’
I swallowed. Silence.
‘So much has happened and – ‘ I broke off because I didn’t know what to say.
‘There was a battle at Hogwarts. Voldemort came. He and Dumbledore fought.’
‘Head boy’s dead.’
‘And just about everyone else it seems,’ I laughed sadly, so loud in the deafening silence. ‘I found Professor Gibliry dead in her office. She’s a mermaid by the way. In case you didn’t already know. But I’m sure you did. You’re too smart not to figure that out.’
My emotions began to overflow and I gripped her hand tighter. ‘I didn’t know what to do, Lily! Everyone was dying and killing each other! There was so much death! And – and – and the code! Nicholas Flamel has this pyramid that controls everything! Voldemort’s going to try to rule it. And I’m the only one who knows about it! I think Dumbledore expects me to stop him! But I can’t! I’m too little! I just… can’t.’
I was sobbing hysterically and the tears were in free flow down my cheeks. There was no controlling it. They gushed and gushed down my face as I sobbed, but Lily still didn’t wake up. ‘I was crushed underneath a banister… watching everything… out of sight. The pain. Oh the pain, Lily! You cannot even imagine!’ A tear ran down my cheek and I wiped it away with my free hand and placed it back over hers. I sobbed and turned my face into my shoulder. Then I spoke again, but I said it softly and into my shoulder. I don’t even know if anyone could have understood what I said except me. ‘But it was nothing compared with the pain of losing you.’
I lay my head down next to her on the bed… and that’s where I stayed.
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