A/N: My particular thanks to Countess Black, who gave me the courage to publish this
This story is meta-fiction, meaning fiction about fiction. It takes place after Chapter 35 in 'Strange and Invisible History'.
My favourite quote is by Oscar Wilde: 'All humanity lies in the gutter, but some of us look at the stars.'
Dedicated to Joseph Merrick, author, gentleman, and star-watcher.
Spoiler A/N at the bottom.
I punched the button and then, hands burning, pushed away from my desk. Rabastan Lestrange was sitting on my bed. 'It's done?'
'And I'm...out-is that the word- now?'
'You are.' I popped the top of a can of soda and drank a bit before offering a sip to Rabastan. He shook his head. 'Don't know how you stand that stuff. It's vile.'
'I like it.'
He seemed not to hear me. 'Was it the right thing, do you think? Putting it in?'
'I think so. I hope so. But what do I know?'
Rabastan raised a brow. 'You'd think a woman who once published a thousand page paean to sadomasochism might have some insight into these matters.'
I shrugged. 'I wanted to wait until it made sense. People are more than the sum of their parts.'
He cocked his head. 'So when will you tell them about that?'
I put a hand to my wheels and moved backward, and then swivelled the chair to face him. 'The fifth of never.'
'Oh? Is it not a part of the human experience?'
'Not like sex is. Some of my parts are mechanical, is all.'
Rabastan still looked distant and a little sad. 'You'll tell them what I told you about Evan, won't you?'
'If you want to talk about it a bit more, we can.'
'It was long ago. How can a thing that happened all those years ago still hurt so much?'
I rolled closer. 'I didn't mean to upset you.'
'Not at all. Sometimes it doesn't seem so long ago, and then I...I remember it's the rest of my life. Put that in.'
'Of course.' I nearly got tangled on the throw rug and managed to stop myself just in time. He watched me, a wryly amused smile on his lips.
'You look like Lucius that way.'
'I'll have to grow a few inches, dear lady.' He paused a moment. 'Do you feel that way?'
'About...' I motioned downward. 'Sometimes. But we're as happy as we let ourselves be, I guess.'
'I'll be happier when the next chapter is written.'
'Whom shall I find for you?'
'Haven't seen Scabior in a while.'
He rose and then turned back. 'Madea?'
'Next time, try not to take months telling them things, won't you? I told you the first time we met.'
His laughter was infectious, and so, joining in, I rolled back to my desk.
Q: How much of this is true?
A: All of it. I use a wheelchair due to a neurological condition, and the thousand page paean is called the Silence-verse (available on my profile, starting with "Favor me with Silence".)
Q: Who's Joseph Merrick?
A: Joseph Merrick was an Englishman, born in 1860/2, afflicted with a disease (no one is completely sure what it was, though theories abound) which left him profoundly disfigured. Despite terrible treatment by many of the people in his life, he seems to have been a man of great dignity and regard for others.