The things you do wrong in life... they haunt you...
On the day that Daphne Greengrass died she was three weeks from her twentieth birthday. Her mother and sister had been planning a small party; a garden brunch with all of Daphne's favourite things - cucumber sandwiches, mimosas and the small wizarding orchestral quartet that they could never recall the name of.
The guest list was small and private; a few of Astoria's friends, a few family members and everyone they knew Daphne would have wanted invited, and the dress code was white. Neither Astoria nor Victoria Greengrass could foresee that their guest list would not change, but the dress code most certainly would.
You are cordially invited... to Daphne Greengrass's closed-casket funeral.
As the sun rose on what would be a beautiful day, Daphne herself was sat up in bed. As usual she had only managed to get a few hours of restless sleep, and yesterday's makeup had rubbed off on her pillow to make the perpetual dark-circles beneath her eyes both clear and ugly. Her hair was unwashed, scraped back into a braid.
She was thinking about the farmer's market on Wednesday, when she had seen three of her old schoolfriends for the first time in months. They had been strolling through the stalls, glancing at hanging herbs and flowers as they chattered about everyday life in a way that Daphne hadn't been able to since she had graduated. He was still winking at the pretty witch on the spice stall. She still had luxorious hair and a wonderful smile. He was still doing a dumb little dance as he walked in a way that had once made Daphne's stomach flutter.
When they saw her, they stopped. They approached. Their eyes still smiled like hers never could, but they betrayed themselves. They had heard of her therapy sessions, of the fact that she rarely left her parents' home and hadn't attempted to contact anyone from school since her graduation.
Pansy spoke first, moving to wrap her slender arms around her old friend. "Daphne! Long time no see!"
Daphne vaguely recalled resting her arms around Pansy's narrow waist in response to the hug and breathing in the strawberry scent of the other girl's hair. When she pulled away Nick Gallow clapped her gently on the shoulder, as though she was one of the glass ballerinas he used to tease her for collecting in their fourth year. His bright blue eyes and charming grin didn't stir her heart like they used to. All she could see was an accomplice.
Teddy Nott just inclined his head. They had never been particularly close, and Daphne could tell from the look in his eyes that he was a little bit freaked out by her. He must have heard the rumours.
"How have you been?" Pansy asked. "We haven't spoken since graduation!"
Daphne looked around at them all and realised what selfish beings they were, if they could really go on with their lives pretending nothing had happened. She had an urge to reach back her hand and slap Pansy across her pretty, oblivious face; to push Teddy away and hit Nick until he realised that it wasn't okay for them to feel so okay.
She didn't. Instead, she put on a smile so fake it hurt. "I've been really busy with stuff." she lied. "How about you guys? How are you?"
She was brightly informed that they were all doing just perfect - Pansy was enjoying the freedom of her father's manor, Teddy was on a league Quidditch team and Gallow's Uncle had died last summer leaving him a vast inheritance. While Daphne barely left her childhood bedroom, becoming a ghost of her former self.
Then they parted ways, with Pansy making Daphne promise to get in touch. By the time Astoria found her, Daphne had been standing motionless in the middle of the market for over fifteen minutes, fists clenched and eyes swimming with tears. She had to be dragged back to the carriage.
"I still hear the screams. We just... when they evacuated the school... we just... just stood on the grass with everyone else. All we could do is stare up at the castle... at the fire coming from the windows... then someone jumped... and I... I could hear everyone else scream and I remember screaming with them because no-one could stop the girl from falling and I saw her break when she hit the ground and I can't live with this in my head anymore! I don't know what to do!!"
Healer Garson looked at her. He looked at the nineteen year old girl curled up on the chair with her hands clenched into claws and her eyes bloodshot and filled with the sorrow of a thousand widows. Daphne Greengrass was falling. And he didn't know how to help her.
The maid found her. Responding the usual yawn of 'Rosmary, bring Daphne down for breakfast would you?', she had ascended the stairs and strode into Daphne's dark bedroom without a second thought, heading for the heavy drawn curtains.
"Good morning miss," she said, pulling the curtains apart and letting brilliant light flood the stale room. "Time for-"
When she turned, Daphne was sat up in bed. Lank blonde hair was falling across her face. Dead blue eyes were wide and staring down at the stained bedsheets. A crusted mixture of vomit and blood had dried around her mouth and chin, the tell-tale sign of the toxins she had swallowed only an hour earlier.
Rosemary screamed like a banshee and ran out of the room.
When they told the funeral guests what had happened, Victoria Greengrass would tearfully inform them that one of the maids must have accidentally dropped something into Daphne's water. Daphne had been fine, she told them. A lively and beautiful girl with a prosperous future ahead of her...
... what she didn't include was the past Daphne had left behind her.
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