“...Would like to inform you of the condition of your mother: Alison Johnson. We regret to inform she has had a severe stroke..”
Tears welled within my eyes, dropping one by one onto the letter. My whole body trembled as my fingers flew to my mouth in shock. I stood there, motionless. How could this happen? Why? Why now? I felt the weight of Louis' hand on my shoulder, steadying my swaying body. Suddenly, I felt the contents of my stomach fly up my throat. I hastily ran from the room to the bathroom and threw up. I could hear Dominque's voice outside in the hall, “Louis, what on earth did you do to her?”
My fingers clamped tightly on the countertop, as I forced myself to not lose control. Anger burned within my chest when my eyes gazed upward at the mirror in front of me. I had to scream, throw something or do something to release the anger boiling within me. My fingers slowly moved and gripped the bottle of soap. My arm moved, ready to throw it at the mirror but then I stopped. I realized what I was doing. Tears filled my eyes again and I suddenly felt sick. What was happening to me? I set the bottle down, my whole body shaking.
“Leave it alone, Dom.” Louis snapped at her before entering the bathroom.
I leaned on the countertop, shaking. Louis looked at me in concern, “Stephanie.”
I met his worried gaze for a brief moment before looking away. I could feel the tears coming back to my eyes. My sobs caused Louis to reach for me and pull me to his chest. I sobbed into his shirt, feeling the strength of his arms around me. I closed my eyes, trying to breathe, but I couldn't. Something was choking me, holding back each breath I tried to take. I felt his fingers rubbing my back in a tender motion. He softly spoke, “Ssh..shh. It'll be okay.”
Would everything really be okay? I shook my head in disbelief. Somehow I managed to find my voice back, “I want to go home.”
He pulled back from me, gazing at my tear stained face. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I need to be with her.” I cried softly.
Louis nodded, “Okay.”
I bit my lip, “I'm sorry.”
“Don't apologize Steph, you didn't know this would happen. Go pack.” He steered me to his room.
I went into his room and started packing my things. I sighed, pulling my trunk down the hall. Louis' mother hugged me. “I am sorry dear.”
“I hate to go-” I started saying, feeling the guilt return.
She shook her head. “Nonsense! Now if you need anything, we are right here, okay?”
I nodded, “Thank you.”
I started walking towards the fireplace to floo when I heard Louis speak, “You hate flooing.”
I faced him, “Yeah but I hate apparating even more so-”
“You didn't honestly think you'd be going alone, did you?” He raised an eyebrow.
I noticed he had a trunk behind him. “You don't have to-”
“I want to. C'mon.” He put his arms around me, planning to apparate us both.
I buried my face in his shirt, getting ready for the feeling of spinning.
We didn't arrive at the Leaky Cauldron like I'd expected, instead we were standing in Louis' apartment. I looked at him, confused. He mentioned, “I want to make sure you're okay before I leave you alone.”
I bit my lip, knowing I wasn't okay, as I recalled the moment in the bathroom where I'd wanted to destroy something in anger. If he left me alone, I would probably do something drastic to let out my frustration. I quietly spoke, looking at the floor, “I want to stay with you.”
Louis took my hands in his, gently pulling me towards him. I could feel his slender fingers on my
cheek, caressing my skin. I lifted my head to look at his face. His pale blue eyes seemed to have darkened in color, holding a glint of worry. The shadow of worry on his face troubled me. I didn't want to be a burden to him, I didn't deserve him. He deserved someone who held a stable life, with a normal family like his. None of that description of a good girlfriend fit me. How could I be what he deserved if I worried about my job, my mother being sick and everything in between?
My eyes flashed a wave of nostalgia. If only I could go back to where everything was happy, where my mother wasn't sick and I was in school planning on becoming someone great. My voice choked as the words came from my lips, “I don't know how I can get through this now. I don't know what more I can do.”
Louis' fingers stopped stroking my cheek. He froze, his eyes filled with pure terror of what I'd say next. I didn't want to say these next words but I had to. He would be better off this way. I swallowed before continuing. “I...I want to stay with you but I'm not sure if I can. I'm a broken mess, Louis. I've tried so hard to be someone you deserve, but I can't do it anymore.”
Once those words fell from my mouth, I felt the weight of my heart increase, becoming like a
hundred pounds of lead within my chest. It kept sinking further and further, pulling me down with it, and tears leaked from my eyes as a the sting of instant regret hit me as if I'd been slapped across the cheek. I couldn't look at Louis' face, knowing what I'd see. I would see a look of hurt, like I'd stabbed him in the heart.
Louis didn't let me go. He kept his hold on me, his hands moving to my shoulders. He didn't say a word, his breathing becoming unsteady with each passing second. The words hadn't fully sunken into his mind yet. When they did sink in, he quietly spoke, “Don't.”
I still couldn't bring myself to meet his gaze, but heard his sharp intake of air. “Don't do this, Stephanie.”
I hadn't realized I was trembling until I felt his fingers rub my arms. His voice was dripping with heartache. “Please, don't push me away like this, Stephanie.”
“I'm sorry, but I don't deserve you,” I spoke with remorse.
Quickly, I broke free from his grip and ran out the front door, down the stairs until I was outside. My skin was sweating even though it was December and freezing cold outside. I couldn't breathe. Every time I tried to take a breathe, the amount of air was never enough. I need more. I ran down the sidewalk through the snow, gasping for air. Everything around me was spinning, the colors whirling together as though I were on a carousel, spinning faster and faster. The vertigo was too much to bear. My feet become numb with every step, my whole body disconnecting from what my mind was telling it. I could hear nothing, only the sounds of screaming and shouting. I could hear the pain of my mother's voice as she shouted at her boyfriend. I could hear him screaming at me, telling me to stop being worthless.
Tears ran down my cheeks as I ran until I stopped, collapsing on my knees, not caring that I would get wet from the snow. My heart beat wildly in my chest, pumping blood hastily though my veins. I started crying, shouting into the air, “It isn't fair! Why me? Why does it have to be this way?”
The voice of an angel broke through my cries. “Stephanie.”
I shook my head, remaining where I was. The angel spoke once more, his voice tender, dripping with the sweetness of honey. “Life doesn't always give us what we want, but you won't go through it alone. I'll always be here for you.”
My teary eyes glanced upward, seeing the face to match the reassuring voice. Once I saw his face, I knew he was right. He pulled me up, off my knees so I stood before him. My knees felt like jello, unstable and shaky. My arms wound themselves around his neck, as I cried into his chest. Louis held me, rubbing my back and whispering in my ear, “You're wrong, you know. I don't want perfection, Stephanie. All I want is you. I want you with your chaotic life, your inability to understand French, your beautiful face and how you blush at everything I say, your smile and your heart. Je t'aime, Stephanie.”
The tears stopped coming at last. His words sank into my mind. I didn't know why I'd said what I had to him earlier. I suppose I had been scared. I had been scared he'd leave me too. I looked into his eyes, my lips mere centimeters from his, “You make me whole.”
Neither of us said another word, for I hesitantly brushed my lips against his. He kissed me back, causing my heart to somersault. Once his mouth left mine, I was gasping for air. His lips traveled down my jawline to my ear. His breathe was warm against my cold skin, “Don't scare me like that again.”
I clung to him, never wanting to let go of him ever again. “I won't.”
He kissed my cheek. “I want to make your pain go away. I want to fix you.”
I kissed him, “You make it go away. You make them stop screaming, every time I see your face or hear your voice. And you already fixed me, from the very first time I met you. You made me whole again.”
I buried my face in his warm shirt, shivering from the December winds. Louis noticed I was cold, “Do you want to go back inside?”
I nodded, “Yes.”
We went back inside and I curled up on his couch, wrapped up in a warm blanket. Louis went into the kitchen and made some hot cinnamon tea. He handed me a mug before sitting down next to me. I snuggled closer to his side, sipping the hot drink. I smiled at him, “Thank you.”
He kissed my head, “I wouldn't let you go that easily.”
I was so lucky to have him in my life. He was the best thing that had happened to me. I finished my tea and once he was done with his, I charmed them to go to float into the kitchen and rest in the sink. Louis kissed my forehead. I sighed, “I want to go see her.”
“When?” He asked quietly.
“I'd like to go in an hour or so. Would you go with me?” I timidly asked.
Louis didn't hesitate in answering. “I will.”
I rested my head on his chest, feeling it rise and fall as he breathed. “I'm sorry that you had to leave your family for me.”
“Stephanie, please don't apologize. I want to be here for you and you are more important to me than anything else right now.” Louis stated.
Knowing I meant that much to him, made me think of how much he meant to me. If I didn't have Louis to help me through everything, I wasn't sure where I'd be. I was sure of one thing. I was never going to let him go again. I needed him as much as I needed air.
I ran into St. Mungo's and straight to the stairs leading up to the second floor. Louis followed closely behind me. I was grateful for his presence, as I was unsure of my mother's well being at the moment. I needed to see her. I needed to know she was still here, even if she didn't know me anymore. I didn't care. She was still my mother nonetheless. However, once I reached my mother's room, I saw nothing but a clean, empty room, the bed all made up. There were no flowers, or any signs of my past visits. My heart stopped. What if something had go horribly wrong? I began to panic. Louis bit his lip, unsure of what to say. My eyes suddenly caught sight of Lacey, the red haired healer who usually tended to my mother. Lacey saw me, a look of remorse in her eyes, “Stephanie!”
I ran to her, skidding to halt once I reached her, “Lacey, where is she? Where's my mother?”
Lacey answered, “She was moved to a different room, just down the hall to the right, number 303.”
“Thanks!” I quickly said, trying not to become a nervous wreck.
I didn't check to make sure Louis was following for I knew he was. I could hear his footsteps echoing mine. She'd been moved to a different room. There couldn't be anything bad about that, right? I tried to reassure myself. She'd only been moved. She'd be fine. I stopped once I saw her room number. The door was ajar, a healer's voice rang in my ears from inside. I could hear her saying, “I'll be back to check on you later, Alison.”
A dark haired, young healer emerged from the room. She saw me, “You must be-”
“Stephanie, yeah. I'm her daughter.” I said, trying to catch my breath.
She nodded, “I'm Healer Flintwood.”
“Nice to meet you. Can I see her?” I asked, trying not to worry any more than I was.
Healer Flintwood bit her lip, “Are you sure? It may be a bit of a shock.”
“Nothing's a shock after going through everything I've been through my whole life. I've watched my mother get stepped over by boyfriends, seen her not remember me half the time and left school before I could graduate. I think I'll be okay.” I quickly said.
Healer Flintwood stepped aside to let me into my mother's new room. I took a deep breath and felt Louis' fingers grab mine. He squeezed my hand and I let it out. I slowly stepped into her room, seeing flowers on her nightstand and the things from her old room hanging on the walls. I bit my lip, my gaze turning to where she was, lying on her bed. Her brown curly hair was neatly brushed, the covers were pulled over her frail body and her eyes were closed.
I numbly walked over to her bedside, unsure of what to do. I stood beside her, watching her breathe. Softly, I spoke to her, “Hi mommy.”
Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked at me. Her voice came out cracked and shaky, “Stephie?”
Tears filled my eyes as I sat on the edge of her bed. Her fingers shook as she reached to grab my hand. I gripped her thin fingers in mine, praying she wouldn't let go. I swallowed, “I'm here. I'm always here.”
Now if only this would last.....
a/n: I know I know i'm a horrid updater! School got crazy. I had some college application tests to take and then I got sick (I had the flu for a whole week and a half) and I didn't have time to write! March was crazy for me! April will be better, I swear! I didn't plan on getting sick at all. gah. anyhoo thanks for everyone's continual support and I hope you liked this chapter! thanks again to Civilized, my lovely, patient beta!!!!! <3
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