A/N: Another gift for you Kela, even though you've already read it, just know I put it up for you. :) Read? Review?
They say I love you.
My hands are shaking slightly as I'm led down the hall; it happens every time I'm here. Something about the clean white walls and quiet, reserved nature of this place makes me nervous.
A witch is talking to a Healer in the corner, and she reminds me of why I hate coming here day after day as she collapses against him, in tears. Her scream of anguish echoes down the pristine, fake, hollow white corridor until it reaches my ears, and I wish I could tune her out. I recognize the scream for what it is, years of experience working against me. I pity her briefly, because that is the sound of your life crumbling around you.
The medi-witch guiding me -unnecessarily- stops at a door, as she always does. Her Muggle trainers squeak and squelch as she hurries back to her desk, creating and odd, disembodied effect. Her blonde head disappears behind a magazine, pretending to give me a bit of privacy.
The large glass window next to her aside, I know she listens at the keyhole.
She thinks I love you too, you know.
There are only six beds in this section of St. Mungos Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Two are yours. I have to sidestep Gilderoy Lockhart at the third bed, in the middle of the room. I remember the year he taught me at Hogwarts, but mainly how Harry, Ron, and Hermione had been off on some adventure I wasn't to be included in, yet again. Now Gilderoy has been reduced to a bumbling fool, bombarding me with offers of an autograph.
Then again, maybe he hasn't changed that much at all.
I tell him no and pry his hands from my Auror robes, saying I've already got seventy eight at home, and that they're very lovely. I move forward, and ten feet from your beds now, I have to start kicking away gum wrappers.
Five feet, and I just decide to let them crunch under my boots; you won't notice anyways. Green and orange Drooble's wrappers crinkle helplessly against the shiny shoes, and I smile. The sound brings your heads up to stare at me, vacant expressions very effective; only undone by the tears on your faces and gum smacking in your mouths.
"Hello," I said wearily. "I'm Neville. I've come to keep you company today."
"I'm A-Alice, Neville. It's very nice to meet you."
"I'm" -he looks to his companion for reassurance- "I'm… Frank. Would you like some gum?" You faces are hopeful now, and I have no choice but to accept the offering; a gift to the son you do not know. I can pretend for this instant, as I have every day of my life, that this is the day I can love you. I know I will be let down, as I flip the infirmary light off that night and come to realize it hasn't happened, as I am every night. For how can I love that which I do not know?
I set the -my- extra chair between your beds, as I did yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that for as long as I could remember. I force a happy smile as the sickly sweet candy fills my mouth once again, and I try not to gag. How could I love this?
But perhaps if I loved you, it would be easier.
Perhaps if I loved you, I could leave you.
Perhaps if I loved you, you would remember.