Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.
“Marie? Dépèche toi, ma chérie, où es tu? J'attends…”
Her eyes snap open, breathing panicked. The words from the dream still ring in her ears: Marie? Hurry, my darling, where are you? I’m waiting…
The voice — soft, gentle, loving — sounds familiar, though she cannot place it.
As her breaths become even again, she counts to five in her head and then delicately climbs out of bed.
Delicately. A word to describe everything these days, it seems. She may be ill, but she is not a china doll. So what if the doctor has condemned her to a life, lasting only three more months, in bed? What does he know, anyway? She is perfectly fine, just often short of breath. Her father believes him, silly man, but he does not know about the nightly outings. If he did, she suspects, he would have bars put across her window and a lock put into her door.
Padding across her room, the bottoms of her feet chilled by the feel of wood under them, she approached the mirror hanging on the wall, just above her dresser. It is true, she has to admit, that she has lot a lot of weight in the past few months. Her face, which had, six months ago, been clinging to the last of her baby fat, now looks hollow. Almost sunken. Her eyes are not the color they should be, a dazzling emerald. Instead, they are olive green, paling by the day. Her fair hair has lost its sheen, even though she takes time to brush it one-hundred times a day exactly, like her mother used to.
Well, she sighs, maybe she isn’t as healthy as she would like to believe, but she certainly isn’t dying. Eleven-year-olds don’t die.
She twirls a strand of hair around her finger tips and hums softly to herself. It’s a melody her mother taught her years ago; she can recall the sound of her mother’s voice, and the feel of fingers playing with her hair, gently separating the strands, and then bunching them together, twisting them into a braid.
Marie? Hurry, my darling…
That’s who the woman sounds like. Her mother. Well, a mother, if not specifically hers. She has the same caring tone all seem to when talking to their child.
A breath of wind makes her thin pink curtains flutter, along with her heart. She moves towards it, twirling around, arms outstretched. She reaches for the window’s latch, but something stops her: a flutter of movement outside, near the garden.
Giddily she smiles. With her failing strength she heaves herself onto the window ledge and sits so that her legs are dangling off. A dainty four-seven, her feet cannot touch the ground yet, and according to the doctor, never will.
Not even allowing that thought to penetrate her mind, she slides off, lips still turned upwards, and giggles breathily as she lands crouched like a cat ready to leap. Standing and giving herself a quick dust-off, she totters on one foot as she spins about freely.
When she reaches her mother’s garden, she can still see her house — a scaled-down model of a Victorian house in, simply put, the middle of nowhere. Of course, it is a somewhere to her, but not to anyone else, aside from her father and the occasional visitors, who include the doctor (the most frequent), her father’s friends (old and boring), and her cousin — or is it uncle? She is not sure. He does not come often, and when he does he leaves quickly.
“Hello?” she calls, and laughs as it echoes against the garden walls, which stretch up into the sky with nothing over them. Nothing to hold them down.
Hello… Hello… Ello… Lo… O…
The girl turns at the sound.
A woman with bright eyes and a warm smile is standing before her. Her wavy auburn hair reflects the sunlight, making it shine.
“Come on. We’ve been waiting for you.”
She holds out her hand, which the girl hesitantly takes.
The woman’s smile is secretive, knowing, but underneath that it is kind. “Don’t worry,” she says.
“I’m not.” But still, she is curious and wonders where they are going. There is nothing for miles around; no homes, no people, no roads other than the single dirt one her father sometimes drives down.
Instead, she is led into the garden, past the slightly rusting gate and deep among the flowers. There, an old man with a funny hat and a twinkle in his eyes waits for her. “Come along, dear, we can’t keep them wondering.”
She wants to ask who they are, but she is beginning to feel a little short of breath, and so she says nothing, letting go of the red-haired lady’s hand and taking the old man’s.
“Goodbye, darling… I’ll see you again,” she promises with the same smile, and then the girl is moving forward.
As she pauses to catch her breath, the kind old man smiles at her. “Come along, come along. It isn’t far now.”
They walk for a few more minutes, and the man asks, “Tell me, child, have you ever gone to school.”
She shakes her head, adding, “But Father taught me to read and write.”
“Have you ever wanted to?” he asks.
The twinkle returns. “You won’t have long to wait.”
And then he frees his hand from hers and pushes her gently forward.
She takes a few steps on her own, suddenly unsteady on her feet.
“Keep going,” he says, “and don’t look back. You’re almost there.”
She turns her head forward and does as he says, keeping her gaze trained ahead of her. After a few minutes of walking she spies a lone figure standing, waiting.
“Ma chérie. Viens ici.” My darling. Come here.
Unsure of herself, the girl moves forward, and then breaks into a run. As she stumbles, she is caught in familiar arms.
“Ma fille.” My daughter.
“Mom,” she whispers.
The woman’s eyes are filled with compassion and love. “Hold on, darling, you aren’t yet.”
“When you can answer that,” her mother answers with a smile, “you will be. For now, go back, and learn.”
“Learn what, Momma?”
But the woman is gently prying the girl’s fingers away. Without another word, she turns and keeps walking until she is gone, swallowed up by the garden.
A month later, she stands behind her father’s favorite armchair, her arms around his neck. From her stance she can read the words off the reporter’s notepad: …with Harry Potter and his daughter, who has never heard of the magic world before now…
“Well, young lady?” the reporter asks. “You’ve been cured of an ailment there was no magical or muggle cure for. How does that feel?”
She tilts her head and smiles by means of reply.
“Your father was — is — very famous. That makes you famous too, you know.” He seems eager to, after an hour and a half, get an actual answer from her. “That must be an exciting bit of news for you.” She does not answer, and so he goes on. “It seems you’ll be going to Hogwarts in a few months. Everyone will know your name by then. So let’s have it. Who are you?”
This time, he gets a response.
She says, “I am Marie.”
A/N: A product of homework-avoidance, randomly wanting to make a banner, and lots of Lewis Carroll quotes!
If the French is wrong, I'd appreciate it if you'd point it out to me - I don't speak it; I translated the French sentences on a website.
Ahh, likewise with spelling/grammar. I'm not too sharp at midnight. (Which it was eight minutes ago, if you were wondering. xD)
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