We were apparating back to my house in America, where the Visitation would be held. I didn't want to apparate. The uncomfortable, suffocating feeling would set me into depression. I knew I was on the edge right now. My emotions were out of check and I couldn't control anything.
It had been two weeks since I'd gotten the news. I'd been keeping to myself mostly. Every time anyone tried to say anything to me, I lashed out at them. Lily and Rafe had given up trying, though they still sat by me in the classes I had with them and ate lunch with me. Ah, lunch. That reminds me.. I was hungry. All I'd done for two weeks is eat. Homework meant little to me, but I was packing the calories. It was my getaway. When I thought about them . . . I ate. All the time.
I knew my body was changing - I was gaining weight at an unhealthy rate, but I couldn't stop. It was becoming an addiction. Somewhere inside me, I knew it was my way of coping with depression. I no longer looked at myself in the mirror because I knew I was fat. But, there wasn't anything I could do. I had to eat.
Christmas break was right around the corner, and I was still planning on going back to Rafe's house. He insisted that I spend the entire break there now that I wouldn't be going back to my parents' to finish the rest of it. I didn't argue. I needed something. I felt like I needed fun, but I wasn't allowed to have any. If I did, it would be like rubbing it in their faces because they couldn't have it anymore. Therefore, neither could I.
I was wearing an overpriced black gown, cashmere cardigan, and ridiculous shoes. I hated it, but I had to honor my parents in some way. I looked like a black cow.
At this moment, I was walking through Hogsmeade with Professor Malfoy. We stood a good six feet apart, walking down the street like complete strangers. I figured that he probably looked dashing in his dress robes, but I wasn't paying much attention. I didn't want him to be here with me. I wanted to do this alone. I needed to. That wasn't going to happen.
My arms were folded and his hands were shoved deep in his pockets. It didn't help that with every step I took, I was hit harder with the reality of where I was going, and the tears were closer and closer to slipping out.
"Sid," he said as we exited Hogsmeade. It had taken a while to get all the way through the town, to the outskirts where the protection spell no longer prevented us from apparating.
I turned to face him, but couldn't make my eyes meet his.
"Sid, I'm so sorry about all of this. I know . . . I know how hard this must be for you. I - I want you to know that I'm here for you, okay? I know you don't want me to be, but I am. And I will be for . . ."
He trailed off at the end, like he wasn't sure how long he would be here for me. I didn't care though. Under normal circumstanced, those words may have made me melt on the spot. I didn't want to hear this right now though. I needed not his sympathy. I needed not any of this.
I shook my head. "Let's just go, please."
Professor Malfoy sighed and looped his arm delicately through mine. "Are you ready?" he asked. I didn't say anything, just twitched my head slightly forward.
Suddenly, we were being squeezed through darkness. An invisible rubber tube engulfed the two of us and we were hurtling through space. I didn't like this feeling at all. It made me want to die. This couldn't be good for me at all.
Then, POP. We were there, standing in front of my house. The same three story brick Tudor that I'd grown up in. It was the only face I truly felt like nothing could go wrong. So much for that. Somebody up there - I looked at the sky - clearly hated me.
I quickly removed my arm from Professor Malfoy's and headed for the front door, which was open. There was a sign just inside the foyer with a collage of pictures of both my parents from infancy to more recent photographs. I couldn't bear to look at it, and I had to turn and keep moving through the house. There were only a few people there so far - we'd shown up early. I would be here all day. Directly after the Visitation, the funeral mass would be held. My parents had been devout Catholics, which I always thought had been quite ironic, being involved with magic and all.
What I saw next, nobody could have ever prepared me for. To this day, I will never be able to get the first image out of my head of my parent's open caskets and their pale, dead bodies lying in them for an eternal rest. It was haunting, and my mouth dropped to the floor, salty tears flooded my eyes as I began to sob. I pulled out my wand, and pointed it randomly, but nothing happened. I didn't have a spell. I didn't even know what I wanted to do with it. This was a muggle funeral rite, but I didn't care. Wand in hand, I ran out of the room and up the stairs.
I dashed into my parents' old room and locked the door behind me. I ran into the closet, then, closing and locking that door behind me, too. Then realizing that I had forgotten to switch the light on, I lit my wand and conjured up some food. It was all I could do right now.
Lying there in the fetal position, shoving treacle tarts and pumpkin pasties into my mouth was not exactly a prideful way to spend the next couple of hours, to say the least. I didn't like what was happening. It was like I was watching a movie and it was all I could do but watch as the person threw her life away. Only this time, it wasn't a movie. And the person throwing her life away - yeah, that was me.
I don't know how many minutes . . . hours had passed since I'd locked myself in here, but sooner than I would have liked, the door was being opened. I hated magic right now. I hadn't even though to spell the door. I just clicked the lock on the handle. That wasn't about to keep Professor Malfoy out.
He didn't say anything. He just closed the door behind him and walked in, taking a seat on the opposite side of the closet, by my dad's old shoes.
"There's a lot of people asking for you downstairs, Sid," he said quietly, sitting Indian style.
I wiped the tears away, made the food vanish with a flick of my wand, and slowly sat upright. I wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone right now.
I took a deep breath. "I don't care."
He ran his hands through his hair and sighed at me. I knew he was disappointed in my strength right now, but it honestly did not matter to me. I had nobody to impress any longer.
"Please, I know this is hard for you. Everyone downstairs was a dear friend of your parents, and they would really like to pay their condolences to their only child. Don't you want to give them a good way to remember your parents? I promise.. I won't let anything bad happen. You don't have to be in the same room as the . . . casket. I think it would be nice if you might be greeting the guests at the door? Do you think you could do that, Sid? For them," he asked, pleading me. He was making this difficult. He knew how to get to me.
"Fine," I groaned. "I'm coming."
He stood up and looked at me, as if expecting something. I cocked an annoyed eyebrow at him. "What?"
Professor Malfoy bit his lip. He knew this was not a time to be laughing at me. "You haven't gotten up yet."
I scowled at him, but couldn't find the strength to stand up on my own. He held out his hand to me.
Reluctantly, I took it and then accidentally stumbled into him. He steadied me by my elbows and a chill ran down my back. We were too close. My breath was hitched in my throat as I looked up into his beautiful blue-gray eyes that held a coldness I didn't understand. My hands had somehow managed themselves flat against his chest when I was trying to balance myself. I felt the firm contours of his pectoral muscles beneath my fingers, through his dress robes.
He cleared his throat and released me then. "You alright?"
"Professor," I nodded my head curtly.
I made my way down the stairs, hand clenching the banister tightly enough to get splinters stuck underneath my fingernails from the wood.
The only thing I could watch were the stairs. I could feel everyone watching me, and I didn't like it. The whispering began and I didn't have to hear what they were saying to know what it was about.
"[i]That's her. That's the girl whose parents died. Oh that poor thing.[i]"
I didn't want anybody's sympathy, and I didn't want their attention. Didn't they understand? The only reason I was coming down here right now was because I didn't want anyone to think ill of the way my parents had raised a child.
Professor Malfoy escorted me to the front door which was still open. He bent down slightly to whisper in my ear. "Please, just stand here and say hello to people when they walk in. Direct them inside. That's all you have to do, Sid. You'll be fine, okay?"
I just nodded my head, and swallowed the lump in my throat. He went back inside then, and I was left alone to wallow in self-pity. I was pathetic.
"Hey," a deep American voice said. It sounded familiar but I couldn't place it even when I looked up to see who it was.
A dark complected middle-aged man wearing sunglasses and a billowing, black cloak stood before me.
"Hello . . ?" I said.
"I'm sorry." The man apologized. "It's been a long time since you've seen me, so you probably don't remember who I am."
"Okay," I said, probably a little rude than was necessary. "Who are you, might I ask?"
The man just smiled at me in a way that turned my blood to ice. "An old family friend."
He began whistling and walked inside without another word. I was beyond mystified, to say the least. Who the bloody hell did that bloke think he was? Walking up to me and muttering rubbish like that.
Professor Malfoy came out again. He stood directly in front of me and bent over until we were eye level.
"Who was that man?" he asked. His stern tone made me realize that this was a serious matter. I shook my head, feeling helpless.
"I don't know . . . He said that it's been a long time since he's seen me but that he was an old family friend. I thought something seemed familiar about him but I-I didn't like him. At all." I said. That was probably the most I had spoken in a long time.
The look in his eyes told me I was right in thinking that man had been bad news. Professor Malfoy grabbed my wrist and began dragging me away from the house. I didn't protest.
"Where are we going?"
We continued walking in silence, and I was scared. I'd never been afraid around him before, but whatever was going on - I got the feeling that no even Malfoy could protect me from it.
"My place," he answered finally as we turned around to face my house one last time.
I heard an explosion, and then saw flames. There was fire everywhere, engulfing my house. I could hear the desperate screams of the people in my house. Those who had gone to pay respect to my parents were being burned alive. It was that man. I know it was.
There was one fault to his plan though, it seemed . . .
I wasn't in the house right now, dying along with the rest of them.