“Oh, my poor dear,” Nan says and grabs onto my upper arms and pulls me in for a bone crushing hug. She doesn’t let go. I try to squirm out of her clutch but she holds tighter and I hear her sniffling and her wet tears against my neck were her face is buried.
“Oi Nan, no hug for me?” James cuts in after what felt like a millennium under her tight hug. Her hold loosens and I hear her sputter ‘of course not’ before she diverts her attention. I untangle myself and James catches my eye before I head into The Burrow. He winks and accepts Nan’s hug. I duck into the place of my childhood. Our family never came over as much as some of the other family members, mum was never one for big crowds and neither is dad for that matter but I still associate this place as a second home because it was here I first did magic.
I try not to think that Lucy had been by my side then and she had laughed so hard when my anger at Louis caused him to be doused with water. She said there was a mischievous side to me yet. I was nine and most people thought I’d be a squib by then.
I pull off my shoes in the entryway and take in the smell of cedar and musk. I hear voices from the kitchen and I know my parents are probably already here and for some reason I don’t want to see them. I only see them on Sunday’s and this was Thursday. This week has been weird though because I saw them on Monday too at the- the abbey.
I felt my pulse quicken at the thought but I ignore it, it’s probably my nerves, nothing else. I dither about in the entryway until I hear James and Nan come in from outside.
“Roxanne isn’t coming of course, still in Hogwarts the dear thing. Your parents are here James, and so are yours Molly dear,” Nan prattles. She continues going over the guest list of the cousins who could and couldn’t make it and how disappointed she was that they couldn’t take the time out of their schedules for this family dinner. Though, I’m not a bit surprised, Victoire never shows up for anything since Teddy and Hugo is back chasing dragons in Asia. Lily will be off somewhere, probably couldn’t tear herself away from her new love interest of the month.
I store the info in my head a she says it and we follow her into the kitchen. There are bodies everywhere as if we were trying to break the world record for how many Weasley’s and their counterparts can fit in a single room. I feel their eyes on me as I stop abruptly to avoid Albus and Louis’ kids as they run around the table with biscuits in their hands.
I grasp onto my upper arm and dodge around Uncle George’s flailing arms. He seems to be right in the middle of story, as always, with Dominique as his perfect sound box. She eats up his tales as if they are honey. I turn around in a circle, trying to find an empty space. I see a chair by Fred in a corner but I don’t move toward it. Sitting beside someone means I have to speak to them and I really don’t feel like speaking.
I feel someone grab my arm and pull me into another hug. Their aftershave tells me that it’s Louis. He always wears too much. He lets go and I immediately take a step back, but he keeps a tight hold on my forearm so I can’t move any further.
“God Molls, bloody hell,” he said and sighs. Not even Aunt Fleur says anything about his language.
I look into his dark eyes and I beg that he doesn’t say anything more. I don’t know if I can handle hearing it. He must have noted the fear in my eyes because he stalls for a moment. His mouth half open but his pause was enough for me to sneak out of his hold and hurdle myself to my parents side. If there was anyone who didn’t want to talk, it was them. They’re lips are pursed together and their hands tightly clasped. They too understand what I feel.
This can’t be real.
Her face is like an everlasting flame in my mind. It grows and it consumes everything in me. All I see is her face. It burns itself into my retinas and carves its way into my frontal lobe. It’s so real. If I close my eyes I can still see her dancing with her hands pressed to the heavens while the rain splashes on her open fingertips.
It can’t be just another memory now because those get fuzzy around the corners after a while like a photo left out in the sun too long.
My dad’s arm snakes around my shoulders and pulls me into the crook of his arm as if I was still that five year old girl that used to run to him with every little problem. I let myself be pulled into him because nowhere else is safe anymore.
The chatter around me feels so unreal. As if this was the dream, as if it was an opening act to something else because there was this floaty feeling to it as if it was one of those weird psychedelic films that Lucy liked – likes so much.
I look at all their faces, half expecting them to morph into hers. But they don’t, they remain their own. But their chatter, the stilted laughs seem out of place. Foreign like there is no place for them in this kitchen anymore.
Nan is busy trying to put some food together and Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry are helping her. Fred is leaning back in his chair which is balancing precariously on its back two legs as he’s chatting with Louis and James. Dominique is still listening to Uncle George but they’ve now been joined by Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill. Albus is leaning against an edge of the counter idly looking out the window, a frown on his face.
I don’t know what to do or what is expected of me and I dearly wish she’d just walk through those doors right now. I want to hear her high pitch laugh that she saves when she is messing with someone. I just want to hear her. To see again how her eyes, so much like our fathers, light up when she play’s an especially good tune on the piano or how her ears twitch when she lies.
I’d give anything for that and I wonder why they are all so bloody normal. Why are they milling about as if this should be normal? I hated that and them because this is anything but that. She is not here. She laughs all the time and her laugh isn’t here and she is never late. It is like an itch she has to scratch. She would never admit it, but she has to be on time for everything, always the first to show up or she won’t show up at all.
My breath catches in my throat and I look at their faces again, I hear Louis as he’s talking about Quiddtich and see Rose turn away from Lester Davies, her fiancé, when he tries to pull her into conversation. Although there is a light smile playing across James’ face he isn’t looking anyone in the eye here.
There is something below the surface here. It is in the air, dangling around us and surrounding us. We try to ignore it, I can see that now, the frantic waving arms of Uncle George arms as he’s explaining something doesn’t seem quite right and although Fred is talking, even smiling, there is something awkward about it, like he is forcing it.
I close my eyes because a deep disconcerting feeling settles in the pit of my stomach and I begin to wish that this actually is normal because I know something is wrong. There is something deeply wrong with this picture because her laugh should be intermingling with everyone’s here. She should be curled up on a countertop with a script in her hand. She always wanted to make a film. She wanted (wants?) to bridge the gap between muggle and wizard entertainment.
But she isn’t here. She isn’t here. Dad’s hold on my tightens, I think he can feel me shaking but I don’t want to be close to them anymore because they remind me that this isn’t normal and now I know I need it to be. If I close my eyes, I can still see her, hear her voice. But then I open them again and all I see is them.
“Alright, dinner is ready,” Nan says, stilling everyone’s conversations. I want to stop her, to say that she isn’t here yet and how can we eat without her. I’ve never done that before. We always come to these things together. She’s the only one who makes me feel comfortable here.
When we were young and all the cousins would go and play out in the lake she would stay with me on the edge because I didn’t want to get dirty and wet. She’d be the one to say water games were for the immature and reckless and she wasn’t either. She said that even though I knew, I knew that she loves the water.
There is a general mass of people as some levitate some plates onto the table while others bring the dishes. My body is tense and I squeeze into a chair on the corner, not bothering to help because I know I’ll just get in the way and I don’t want to be so close to so many bodies.
Someone falls into the chair next to mine and I see that it’s James and then Dominique slides into the one next to him. A silence spreads out between us three but I don’t bother trying to fix it. I’ve never really known what to say so I let James continue tapping his fork against the table while Dominique fiddles with the ends of her red hair.
The parents gravitate to the sitting room because there is no way we could all fit around this table. It is unsettled and for a moment there is only the sound of scraping plates and chairs as the rest of the cousins sit down.
This makes no sense. This. These silences and the way we almost fear to look into each other’s eyes. There is this thunder and lightning in my heart because I just want her to come and make it all go away. I’m barely breathing and my heart bleeds to see her again. I need it. But – this, she will want it for her scene. Right? The pure emotion, the silences that stretch on that speak louder than any words. Words only mean so much and they can easily cover up the pain. She has to want this for some reason because after the bomb goes off in the office, after something so major like that, she says that you need to put in a scene that is completely different. Contrast it, make it mean something.
It makes the audience think. To bath in their emotions and wipe it all over them self like jam on toast. That makes a good film because she says she would rather make someone cry than laugh. If she is the director of all this then I pray she gets her scenes in because I’m sick of feeling like a puppet, getting jerked about without any knowledge of what I’m actually meant to be doing. I want all this to stop. For it to be truly normal.
“Do you remember-”Rose says, pulling on the edge of her black cardigan and briefly looks in my direction. Everyone else is quiet, waiting, as if testing the waters, expecting a collision. “That time when Lucy tried to stage that Shakespeare play? Except, none of us really knew what she was going on about and we all ended up burning down the shed?”
“Oh God,” Albus replies, putting his head in his hands, “that was a disaster. Why didn’t she just find a wizard playwright?”
“It would have been too easy,” Rose says and chuckles a little into her hands, trying to cover it up. “Mum loved it though, happy that at least someone in the family liked muggle culture.” Rose rolls her eyes.
“Yeah,” Dominique says, her voice wavering slightly. “She was always up to something.” I see her bite down on her lower lip.
My chest tightens, wondering why it’s all in past tense. Likes. Likes muggle culture. She doesn’t just stop, it’s her thing. I feel someone’s eyes on me, or maybe they all are looking, so I keep my eyes glued to my hands. They are tightly woven around each other, grasping one another till my knuckles are pale against my blotchy skin.
James squeezes my forearm with his calloused hand, I meet his hazel eyes with my own and I see sympathy in there and I want to push him away. To push them all away, what do they know? What can they know. They don’t know her like me.
She is my sister. (Was?)
I hear them talking still but all I can think of is how she cannot actually be gone. She can’t. She just can’t because this has to be a scene and we’re just puppets. She’s the director and she can’t actually be gone. Not when I still need her because she is my sister. She is Lucy.
Their voices feel so far away. Like a distant memory, a fading dream or forgotten hope. She is my sister and she promised she’d always be there.
And then there is silence and it jolts me back to them and they are actually now looking at me, faces sad, expectant and James puts his arm around my shoulders.
Instead of looking at them I glance out the window so I can escape their intense gazes. The earlier rain had now turned into a hazy fog that hangs in the air like a thick coat of paint. My eyes find the giant oak that we used to all swing on when we were kids. It is drooping now and half of the tree hadn’t bloomed this year leaving the branches dead and old. Uncle Ron said we should cut it down but I think nostalgia has made everyone leave it alone. No one wants to let go.
“Molly-” Rose says, she has a look of concern on her face and it hits me that they probably asked me something. I look down at the food I didn’t touch and James’ hold on me tightens. It feels like a prison, holding me down.
I close my eyes and let her face burn brightly on my eyeslids. How her face lights up when she got her letter at Hogwarts or the way she cried when The Wizarding Drama Network turned down her application. I told her they were missing out on something great and she just smiled and said it was too mainstream anyway.
I’m not sure why these memories are haunting me. I wish she was here.
She cannot actually be gone.
She can’t. I know I’m shaking again and I hear James talking but I just can’t focus because she should be here. She has to be. His arm is so tight around my shoulders and it is a rope, tying me down, controlling me like the strings of a puppet and I realize I cannot stand it. I roughly pull away from him and push my chair out from the table.
It screeches against the wood floor and I scamper up, ignoring how they are all looking at me as if this is peculiar behaviour but what is weird is that she cannot be gone. The chair falls to the ground before I can steady it and it sounds like a war drum banging in my ears. Their stares follow me, the quiet murmurs burn into my ears as I leave the overcrowded kitchen.
Just breath. One. Two. Three.
I am wound up like the gears of a clock but I think someone has shoved in a wrench or thrown out a screw. Things don’t turn like they usually do. I cannot take their voices because I know another belongs with them. Her voice should be filtering in and out of the conversation, demanding to be heard.
It is missing. Gone.
“Oh, I’m sorry Molly,” I jump back as I almost bump into Uncle Harry. He runs a hand through his salt and pepper hair. “How are you holding up?” He pauses, his arm reaches out and he touches my shoulder briefly. I feel the pressure and I want to squirm away. To get away from the touches of sympathy. The ones that make the thunder roar inside my mind where her reflection gleams brighter still.
He reaches his other hand and holds me by my shoulders; the pressure is bearing down on me. One. Two. Three. My breath gets caught in my throat, and for a moment I wonder if life has stopped or why I can’t take in more air. There is something, a thing, slithering in my brain like a snake, telling me it’s obvious.
I try to block the voice out and I hear myself telling Uncle Harry I’m fine and I just need to use the loo. He lets me go and I head down the corridor to the stairs. I know the rooms are empty upstairs and all I want is some peace. Heat builds behind my eyes, a pressure that I can barely keep at bay but I have to keep the tears from falling because if she is gone wouldn’t I know it? Wouldn’t I stop expecting to see her everywhere? Her memory should fade away like the fog on a hazy afternoon.
The walls are old and cracking around me but I let my fingers brush against them as I walk along the hall, the crooked stairs are in sight, they twist up and out of sight. I focus on them, they are tangible. Real. They are real. I could still remember playing hide and seek with Lucy when I was six and she was five. We’d run up those stairs together, and hide in the attic with the ghoul. We’d be panting and sweaty by the time we reached the top but it was always the best hiding spot.
I get closer to the stairs and I realize I’m not alone. I blink because I don’t believe it but my eyes rest on a form lounging on the fourth step. Their back is leaning against the railing and a notebook is sitting next to them. A quill is resting behind their ear pushing back long, dark hair. Their nails, painted blue, are tapping the side of their thigh.
“Lucy...” I say like a breath of air.
Note: Yikes, it's been ages since i''ve updated, sorry for the wait! As always, one word of feedback can mean the world of difference. :P
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