Trigger Warning: Certain content may be triggering to certain individuals, read at your own discretion.
The Light Within the Madness
"The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long."
–William Shakespeare, King Lear
He watches with mild amusement as his family battles to maintain their composure after his confession. Their eyes are wide with disbelief; their jaws slack, yet he cannot quell the feeling of immense relief that envelops him. He has finally told them the one truth he wanted them to know before he left.
The first to react is Victoire: she claps her hands together and says in a shrill, trembling voice, "That's… wonderful!" but he can see straight through the farce.
After a moment, Dominique throws down her napkin, pushes back her chair, and storms out of the dining room. His parents share identical looks of bewilderment; neither seems to know what to say, and Victoire seems to think the uncomfortable silence is her cue to continue with her high-pitched babbling.
He's starting to feel the first twinges of fear and panic since he made the resolution to come out to them about half an hour prior and downed a bottle of Firewhiskey soon after. Before he can lose his nerve, he quickly finishes off his dinner, congratulates his parents on their anniversary, and exits the room.
He waits till his parents are in their room, getting ready for bed, and knocks on the door. They look up, still wide-eyed and nonplussed, and he feels exasperated and irritated at their flummoxed expressions. It's been seventeen years. They shouldn't be this shocked.
But they are, and he can't take anymore of them staring dumbly at him, so he shuts the door, picks up his bag, and Disapparates.
She stares idly at the date on the calendar. It has been three years since he left home.
Initially, the shock of it all had been too much to bear; her mother had nearly gone mad from his confession, then him leaving home without explaining himself any further, and finally his lack of replies to the multitude of letters sent to him.
It had taken far too long for her parents to get over it. Much longer than it should have taken, in all honesty. Louis had always been the kind that lived life at his own pace and did things the way he wanted to. He never really stopped to think how his actions would affect the grand scheme of things.
It has been three years, and they still have no idea where he is or even if he's alive and well. Her mother and sister still send him letters religiously, but she never bothers. He was the one that abandoned them, not the other way around. If he had just stayed, for even an hour longer, just long enough to explain himself, their parents wouldn't be so heartbroken right now. She wouldn't be so heartbroken right now.
She blames him for everything. For leaving, for lying, for keeping her in the dark. For taking away the one person she had always thought would remain by her side: her loyal little brother.
Another Christmas dinner has passed with everyone studiously avoiding anything that concerns him, and she doesn't think she can take it any longer. It's always been this way; either perfect, beautiful Victoire gets all the attention, or adorable, little Louis gets it. Never her. No one ever cares if she made Division Head because Victoire's latest fashion line has been a success for weeks and Louis is still a runaway.
Even when he isn't present, it's still about him. Before, she would have done anything to take his side, but now, she doesn't care.
To her, he is non-existent. Just like he wants to be.
It turns out that the love of his life had found the love of his life right after their honeymoon. He never thought much of the stranger his husband returned home, wasted, with. In fact, he had been thankful to the man for taking care of Mason and bringing him back safely.
But little did he expect that his husband would find his soulmate in the fellow he had picked up in some sleazy bar while pissed out of his mind.
It might have been easier if Mason had found the bloke before they had vowed to be with each other in sickness and in health, till death does them apart. That way, he could have convinced himself that it was just not meant to be and have done what was necessary to mend his broken heart. But no, Mason had to be the type of person who believed in soulmates and love-at-first-sight-when-you're-drunk-and-can-barely-tell-your-head-from-your-toes, and would rather file for a divorce instantly instead of even giving their relationship a chance.
Maybe he wouldn't be taking it so hard if he wasn't so madly in love. Maybe he wouldn't be lying in a ditch, wasted in the middle of the day, if he hadn't left home and everything he had ever known for that man. But he had, and now there was nothing he could do but wallow in self-pity. This is what he got for abandoning his family because of a whimsical promise of love and eternity.
It didn't really matter one way or another, though. If he actually thought about it through his drunken haze, it was they who had abandoned him. His parents and Victoire had tried desperately to contact him for a few months after he left, but after that, except for a few letters every now and then asking if he was alive and well, they didn't really seem to care. He particularly blamed Dominique for his current predicament. If only she had taken her head out of her arse for one minute to see all the signs he was throwing in her face, maybe he would still be at Shell Cottage, sitting on the beach and laughing at nothing.
But all he's doing is projecting and deflecting and blaming others, and he knows it. He's used to life tossing lemons at him for no reason at all, and this is just another dent in the road he has to walk around.
He pushes himself to his feet and trudges down the street, ignoring the stares and whispers.
One morning, nearly a decade since her brother disappeared from her life, she sees a little owl tapping at her flat's window, a letter in its beak. She doesn't recognise the owl, but she sure as hell recognises the curling, elegant writing on the envelope.
Louis. After all this time, he thinks he can crawl his way back in.
She scoffs as she takes the letter and sends the bird on its way. Staring at it, she wonders if she even cares enough to read it. After all, why should she? He broke off all contact with her and shattered everything they had ever had when he left, so what makes him entitled to her time, now?
Nonetheless, he's still her brother, and the fact that he sent her a letter and not anyone else fills her with a sense of smug pride and long-lost affection for him. She gently opens the envelope and pulls out the rather tattered-looking parchment.
Frowning at the blotches of ink along the sheet, she quickly scans the contents, her heart drumming a quick rhythm in her chest.
It starts off in a typical, Louis manner, with a very subtle apology that held little to no value, and a few words hoping she was well. It went on to say that he was alive, but not fine, and she feels a twinge of worry in the pit of her stomach. By the time she's reached the end of the short letter, though, the worry is replaced by outrage and she screams in frustration, scrunching the parchment into a ball and throwing it across the room.
She could not believe that he had the gall to ask her for so much money and expects her to simply hand it over to him with no reason or explanation whatsoever. He hasn't changed one bit, and she doesn't know if that makes her more angry or disappointed. He's asked her to meet him with the money because he needs it, but she won't go. She won't give him the satisfaction of walking back into her life and destroying the fragile balance she has finally managed to establish. If she meets him, it will destroy her. She knows it for sure because that is the sort of person Louis is, and that is the sort of power he holds over her aching, pining, broken heart.
No matter how cold and uncaring a front she puts up, in the face of her brother, she would crumble like a trampled sandcastle.
No, she refuses to give him the satisfaction of breaking her all over again.
It doesn't really surprise him that Dominique didn't show. In fact, he would have been mighty shocked if she had. After what he did to her, he doesn't expect any kindness from her, but he had hoped. And he had hoped in vain, because, once again, he had been painfully reminded of the fact that there isn't a single person in this world that he can trust will come to his aid when he calls for them.
It's nothing new; he had learnt that the hard way while he was still a child in school, knowing nothing of heartless betrayal and merciless torture, when people thought they could bribe and blackmail him into doing things for them once they found out his 'secret'. And when that didn't work, they'd thought they could physically break him. But he had hoped that of all the people in the world, Dominique would be the one person he could still count on. He had hoped, and prayed, that she would give back a fraction of everything he had given her.
But, as always, he was proven very wrong.
And now, it doesn't matter. Now, nothing matters. She had been his last ray of hope in the claustrophobic darkness, but the pinprick had long since vanished and he is left all alone in an endless expanse of black.
It's consuming him whole, and he knows of but one way to stop it. Laughing bitterly, he watches as his tears smudge the words scrawled with trembling fingers. He signs his final letter, carefully slips it into an envelope, and hands it to the owl. It titters and waits, as though trying to comfort him, but that only makes him ache more.
The bird takes off, and he's left to stare after its shrinking form, watching the red-tinged horizon and feeling a sense of calm settle over him.
He's always done whatever he wants to, irrespective of all the unfairness, the pain, the humiliation, the mockery, the betrayal and the abandonment. People have always resented him for it, and this will be his final revenge.
He can picture the shock on their faces and he can't help but laugh. It has always been his guilty pleasure. Defying their expectations. Proving them wrong. Coming out at the top in the very end.
It will be his final revenge.
She was a fool to have not expected it. She'd seen it coming for a long time, now, ever since that girl had stepped into the office and swayed the hearts of everyone there. In her defence, she expected it to be later than sooner, but then again, it's her fault for not anticipating that the crafty witch would sway their boss in an entirely different manner.
This is what she gets for believing in humanity. She gets cast away for being honest, disliked for being hardworking, mocked for being punctual and organised, and laid off for taking the high road.
Sure, she has her pride and dignity, but apparently that doesn't keep your job or pay for your survival. Groaning, she downs the rest of the Firewhiskey and throws the bottle across the room, belatedly hearing the resounding crash as it shatters against the wall.
The universe keeps telling her that she's never going to be able to reach the pinnacle; that her illusory goals are far beyond her grasp, but she has continued to pursue them and persevere through hardship for so long, and now she's finally learnt her lesson.
The universe is right. There's nothing she can do.
She's lying in her own vomit, laughing at her pathetic self, when an owl swoops in through the open window, deposits a letter on top of her, and exits without even pausing. She scoffs as she tears open the envelope and scans the contents. Some fellow claiming to be her brother's ex-husband wants to meet with her about something very important. She decides she'll go.
After all, meeting a stranger who could be a murderer is far better than rotting away in her flat with no work, no money, and no company.
She's laughing because of how unbelievable the story this man is telling her is. Louis killed himself? Her little brother Louis? The Louis who abandoned her and broke her heart? The Louis who she didn't help?
Her Louis is dead?
She tells the wizard that it isn't possible. Her Louis would never do something as foolish as kill himself.
But maybe he would. What does she know? She hasn't seen or heard from him in nearly two decades. She can barely remember anything past the childish innocence in his wide, blue eyes and his perfect, golden curls.
She looks down at the letter in her hands, and reads the last line.
For you, my final revenge.
He's still mocking her. Even from beyond the grave, he's still mocking her. Maybe the man is right. Maybe Louis is, in fact, dead. She would much rather prefer him dead over being alive as some psychotic maniac that chooses to take his own life for some twisted, illogical act of revenge.
She doesn't know this Louis. But, then, which Louis does she know? Who is the young blond with bright eyes and lilting laughter that runs through her mind? That isn't Louis. This is Louis. The Louis that writes crazy, narcissistic suicide notes. The Louis that kills himself just to spite her, and everyone else. The Louis that lies and runs away and does whatever he wants.
The Louis who is dead.
Apparently she'd gotten completely wasted and tried to hang herself, for some unfathomable reason, but had failed because the bannister couldn't take her weight. Victoire had found her in a pool of blood and bile and had rushed her to St Mungo's, where she's strapped down to a metal gurney in a room smelling of antiseptic.
She doesn't understand why she would try to kill herself. Was it because she no longer had the only job she ever wanted? Because her little brother killed himself? Because the thought of seeing Victoire and her beautiful, perfect children made her want to gouge her eyes out?
She doesn't know. Maybe she was just sick and tired of wasting away where nobody would ever care to come find her.
The door opens and her parents walk in. They look mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Her father's usually twinkling eyes are lifeless and his smile is forced. Her mother's usual, painfully beautiful face is old and tired.
If only Victoire hadn't found her.
If only Louis wasn't dead.
If only she could escape this madness.
The Healers still think she's suicidal even though she hasn't done anything for them to reach that conclusion. She's as well behaved as can be, does what she's told, and is a very pleasant person to be around, in her opinion. But they still don't believe her. She can't understand why.
After all, why would she try to kill herself? What she wants to kill is already dead. There's nothing left in her lifeless soul, so taking her own life is meaningless.
She can't kill herself because she's already dead.
Victoire has come to inform her that their mother has passed away.
Her sister thinks it's a good thing; that Mother had suffered far too much, but she disagrees. Her mother probably suffered the least. If anybody suffered, it was Louis. Their mother hadn't killed herself, she had died peacefully in her sleep. Louis, on the other hand, had chosen to take the longer, more painful way out. She says so to Victoire, and can't help but feel smug satisfaction at the disgust on her sister's face.
Victoire blames Louis for their mother's death.
She blames all of them for Louis' death. She's finally come to the conclusion that, all along, they were the ones who had abandoned him. They were the one who had forced him to leave forever. They were the ones who had killed him.
It has been many years since she was first transferred into the psych ward of St Mungo's. She likes it here. She has her own, private room in a quieter corner of the ward, and she mostly has the rest of the floor to herself because the other patients are all further in.
She likes being by herself, but sometimes it gets lonely. But every time she pines for company, as if knowing how she feels, a visitor always comes. She loves spending time with him; he's kind and gentle and listens to everything she says.
She's sitting by the window of her room when she feels his presence behind her. She turns around and laughs airily, taking in his brilliant blue eyes, his perfect golden curls and his vibrant smile.
"You're just in time, Louis. You won't believe what I just saw…"
A/n: This one-shot was written for Round 9 of the Quidditch League Fanfiction Challenge (Season 3). The prompts this time were some of Shakespeare's plays, and as Keeper (for the Falmouth Falcons) the play assigned to me was King Lear. I was supposed to re-interpret the play and imbue the most striking features into the Potterverse, so I ended up with this.
I haven't actually read most of the play; just important scenes and acts, plot overviews, summaries and analyses, but what struck me the most wasn't the whole a father and his three daughters, one of them ostracised, good people dying pointless deaths, etc. but the madness within the characters that inevitably led to their deaths. And my first thought was- what if the madness hadn't completely consumed them?
And that's how this story came to be. Plus, I've always wanted to write Louis killing himself and Dominique going mad. (Yes, I have sadistic tendencies, I'm sorry.)
Special thanks to my amazing, spectacular, wonderful beta, nymphxdora, and one of my favourite readers and good friend, TheSeeingEye, for their expert opinions on this piece.
Reviews and opinions are more than welcome, as always.
Thank you for reading! Here's a truckload of cookies to soothe your traumatised soul.
Lots of love~