Lease of new Life - Chapter 76 - The Storm Hits
Sunday the 18th August 1991 saw Alex sat up in bed with a breakfast stand supporting his tray as he ate away. Ignis Pyre his dietician had spoken with both his father and Daisy, so the helpful house elf knew just what foods to prepare for him. He'd instructed her that it was important for Alex to get a lot of fatty foods as well as subsidence that was rich in protein and carbohydrates.
Now that diet wouldn't be conducive to a normal healthy well balanced food intake, but Ignis however had reassured them that it was important to combat his weight loss, and that the best way to achieve this was to aim for foods Alex liked and could actually eat, and to worry about the long term health effects once he'd beaten his cancer; the goal for now was keeping his energy and fat levels up so he was allowed to eat foods that normally wouldn't be seen as healthy, just this morning he'd eaten some oatmeal cereal with whole fat milk and not semi skinned like he was used to, and was now eating some high fat filled ice cream as well.
As for liquids Ignis had warned against drinking whilst eating as this would give his stomach a feeling of fullness, which was counterproductive to what they were trying to achieve, therefore he advised Alex to drink between meals to remain hydrated, and that he should drink all his liquids through a straw for a number of reasons. One to bypass certain smells and odours, and two because he might get mouth sores and drinking through a straw would make this easier to deal with.
Lastly he'd advised against keeping the usual three meals a day routine and explained it would be hard for Alex to eat such large portions all the time, so they should instead opt for small portions but at frequent intervals throughout the day, so instead of three big meals Alex would be snacking when he felt able to do so, although Ignis did say he should have his biggest meal when he was the most hungriest.
Finished with his bowl of ice cream Alex licked his lips and then regarded his father who was reading the Daily Prophet by his bedside. "Dad?" spoke up Alex.
"Yes son?" said Severus lowering his paper.
"Can I have some more ice cream please?" Alex requested with an endearing smile. Hearing Alex's request Severus had to smile too; any other situation and Severus like many other parents would refuse stating he'd already had enough, but following Ignis's advice Severus sought to encourage his son to eat at every and any opportunity, so instead of refusing he permitted it.
"Of course," Severus allowed. "Daisy!"
"Yes Master?" stated the ever eager elf as she appeared before them.
"Alex would like some more ice cream," Severus elaborated.
"Of course I is be bringings it right aways!" Daisy declared disappearing on the spot before she reappeared a few moments later with a bowl containing a mountain of ice cream. As Severus watched his son eat away his mind drifted to the upcoming day and he was dreading it. In just under half an hour or so Charlus along with his deputy healer, Rhodes Skelton, would be coming to start Alex's treatment and he knew it was going to be a tough ordeal, thankfully Abigail had promised to come in and see them before said potions were hooked up.
Speaking of Abigail, Severus folded his paper and set it down when the wards alerted him to the fact she'd just arrived. Sure enough she knocked on the bedroom door and entered when given permission to do so. "Severus, Alex, good to see you," she greeted them brightly.
"Hiya there, Abigail," smiled Alex.
"Good morning to you too, Abigail," said Severus respectfully.
"So," said Abigail casually plopping herself down on Alex's bed where she made herself comfortable. "How are you feeling about your first course of treatment?" Abigail gently probed.
"Worried I guess well ... I mean really weally scared," Alex quietly admitted.
"Mnn hmm," nodded Abigail having expected this since it wasn't an unusual reaction. "So what scares you the most?"
"Well," said Alex thinking on it. "I don't know what's going to happen," he elaborated whilst looking at her seeking support and reassurance.
"Well there's nothing to worry about at all," said Abigail giving him a wide reassuring smile. "What's going to happen is Charlus and Rhodes will come see you in around twenty minutes, and when they get here they'll simply set up the potions to your drip, so they're won't be any nasty needles and you wont have to drink any yucky tasting potions either, all you have to do is lie back and the let the potions do their work," she explained. "So easy see!"
Considering this Alex did feel slightly better; he'd been fearing that they were going to prod and poke him, give him painful injections or make him take awful tasting potions, so simply lying down and relaxing didn't seem so bad, but he did wonder how the potions would affect him. "That's good," grinned Alex. "But what about the potions will they hurt?" he asked getting his concerns off his chest.
"I won't lie to you Alex they might make you feel achy," Abigail conceded. "But it won't be like a severe stinging or sharp pain, mostly you'll feel really tired like you're wiped out, you might feel a bit sick too but you won't be alone okay? Your dad will be here and I'll stay with you if you want me to, and I believe your aunt is coming as well right?"
"Yeah," nodded Alex whilst feeling worried about how the potions were going to affect him; he was relieved they wouldn't hurt but they didn't seem to be at all nice either.
"Well then she'll be here too then," Abigail encouraged. She knew she hadn't totally succeeded in cheering Alex up but she doubted that anyone could; cancer treatment wasn't a walk in the park no matter how you tried to help the patient, and she believed in telling the truth rather than sugar coating things, that way Alex would know it was unpleasant and could prepare, rather than going into it whilst thinking everything would be okay only to get a rude awakening. "But anyway I'll see you in a little while okay?" she added getting to her feet.
"Okay," nodded Alex. "And thanks for making me feel a bit better, at least m'not as scared," said Alex feeling grateful; he knew it wouldn't be easy but he'd just have to struggle through.
"Pleased to hear it," said Abigail before she departed whilst saying her goodbyes. Not long after she left Narcissa arrived which got a smile out of Alex, but his fears and anxiety began to resurface the closer 09:00 AM approached. At five minutes to, Alex felt his resolve leaving him as though the clock was ticking down to his doom. He hated his cancer and he hated the fact he had to go through with this, and he was so, so scared.
"I can't do this," declared Alex shaking his head. "M'scared," he admitted whilst pulling his knees up to his chest.
"You can dear," encouraged Narcissa as she hugged her to him. "And I know it's very scary but we'll be right here okay?" she reassured as Severus leapt into action and put the wireless on.
"Will you hold my hand?" Alex pleaded whilst looking at his father expectantly.
"Of course I will," said Severus returning to the bed. "In fact we both will," he added only for Narcissa to nod and take his right hand with both of them squeezing away as the music began to calm Alex down. "It's going to be okay, alright?" Severus shushed. "We're both right here and we both love you," added Severus leaning down to give Alex a kiss.
Said boy looked mildly better but still looked quite worried. Thankfully though by the time the healers had arrived the calming spell had worked its magic, with Alex just relaxing away as Narcissa and Severus along with Daisy comforted him, even his teddy bear and plush Quaffle had been drafted to help sooth him.
When Charlus and Rhodes entered they uttered a few greetings but didn't really dilly dally and got to work as fast as possible; they later explained this was because Alex would most likely come to resent them because he'd see them as the ones instigating his ordeal, so it was better to be in an out as fast as possible as not to annoy or upset Alex, no none of them wanted to drag the ordeal out and make Alex feel any worse. When it came to hooking up the tubes to Alex's ports said boy turned his head to the side and buried it in his father's robes, and only re-emerged once the two healers had left.
Looking at the drip he spied bags containing yucky looking yellow coloured solution, which was being fed into his body through his two ports. Knowing they'd make him feel ill Alex felt like ripping them out, but knew he couldn't because it was vital for him to get better again, not to mention how much trouble he'd be in too. Seeing how Alex was glaring daggers at his tubes Severus decided it would be appropriate to distract him.
"Why don't we get your magazine out? You could read up on Puddlemere?" Severus suggested.
"Yeah okay," Alex sighed out. Severus did as promised and produced his magazines which Alex leafed through. They spent some time snuggling up together whilst they worked through the quizzes, as well as the puzzles and word searches that were in the back of the magazine too. Alex was relieved to hear that Puddlemer's captain Andy Maber was back from injury too, and was also relieved to see that contract talks for Thomas Ensor were apparently going well.
As time went on though Alex did begin to notice some effects to his body due to the potions; an hour or so in his skin began to feel hot, with his muscles and limbs becoming achy as tiredness hit him. He didn't think it could get any worse but it just went and did; his protesting limbs were joined by his joints that began to ache too, with nausea settling into his stomach. To make matters even worse a dull ache began in his temple that only progressed as time went on, resulting in one mother of all headaches.
Severus and Narcissa noticed the changes too when they spied Alex becoming quiet and more subdued. Eventually Alex gave his reading up as a bad job and tuned onto his side so he could relax as much as possible. "Dad-daddy," said Alex calling out.
"Daddy's here, son," said Severus leaning down close to his son's face. "How you doing little man?"
"Feels awful ... achy and sores ands sick," rattled off Alex as he looked up at them with half open eyes.
"I know son I know," said Severus sympathetically whilst feeling absolutely useless; he couldn't do anything to help his son and therefore felt helpless and powerless, an awful feeling for a parent to have when their child is sick or distressed. In fact Severus thought it was worse to watch Alex go through the treatment then experience it himself, but then he'd never had to take the potions so he couldn't really say that. "Just try to relax okay?" he suggested supportively as he began stroking Alex's hair soothingly.
"That's it Alex," said Narcissa as she came from behind him and kissed his temple. "Just close your eyes and go to sleep if you want to," she advised.
"Tired but cants sleeps," said Alex sounding irritable, frustrated, worn out and upset; the potions that were in his system made him feel exhausted but the steroid component kept him awake, trapping him in a vicious circle of feeling restless and tired but unable to get the much needed sleep. Alex only felt worse though as more of the toxins were pumped into his body, resulting in an extremely strong wave of tiredness and weakness coming over him, so much so that his muscles just felt feeble and debilitated, not to mention achy and sore.
As the treatment continued Alex had to admit that Abigail had been right, if there anything he felt right now then it was completely and utterly wiped out. Yes if there was anything he was certain of then it was that his entire body felt like a wreck. It was so bad that Alex couldn't help but feel some small amount of resentment towards Charlus and Rhodes, for they were the reason for his current predicament, not to mention the drip and the bloody stupid potions! Why he ought to get a hammer and smash them up – and then we'll see who's the bloody winner!
"Daddy?" said Alex quietly whilst sounding both weak and frail.
"Yes, Alex?" said Severus speaking with concern and sympathy.
"How much longer?" asked Alex sounding desperate; he was, he just wanted the treatment to end, he wasn't sure how long he'd been receiving the potions but it felt like an eternity, and every second under them seemed to make him feel ever more ill not to mention sick.
"Just a few more minutes," reassured Severus not having the heart to tell Alex that he still had another half hour to go.
"That's right not much longer now," said Narcissa sweetly as she hugged him from behind, tears in her eyes. Hearing this Alex felt relieved but this relief disappeared when a few minutes had passed and nothing had happened. Time seemed to come to a standstill for Alex as he lay there helpless as his body was poisoned, it seemed to stretch out and expand as though it was taunting him, mocking him for his current situation.
"Daddy please whens it over?" cried Alex with tears in his eyes; he felt awful and his emotions were all over the place due to how tired and ill he felt. Seeing his son reduced to such a state had a profound effect on Severus and he nearly lost it and broke down, it was only the thought of remaining strong for his son that stopped him from doing so; no he couldn't let his boy see him be weak.
"Soon son soon," said Severus choked up whilst willing the hands on the clock to move faster. "Just a little while longer," he consoled. Thankfully Charlus and Rhodes returned around ten minutes later to remove the drip and the tubes from Alex's port, with said boy glaring daggers at the two healers. They didn't stay long though and Alex could finally relax and say he'd gotten through his first treatment, but even though his body wasn't getting any worse the effects of the potion's didn't leave him and he didn't feel any better.
"M'gunna be sick," Alex suddenly announced as he felt vomit welling up in his throat. In response Narcissa quickly helped him to his feet as Severus opened the bathroom door, but Alex wasn't prepared for how weak his little legs felt, just walking to the bathroom seemed to cost him a monumental amount of effort. He did manage it though and brought his head over the basin just in time. Retching loudly Alex spewed up his guts with his father's head near his own with one of his arm's wrapped around his back.
Retching again Alex brought up more sick and then some more, and then even more. On and on it went until it hurt his throat and stomach to vomit, but he still felt nauseas and knew his protesting stomach wasn't done. Feeling awful Alex couldn't help it as tears leaked from his eyes as salvia dribbled down his chin. "Come on just a little bit more," Severus encouraged as Alex promptly hurled and spewed up a few more times, before he eventually just began dry heaving.
Feeling weak and helpless Alex appreciated it when his father wiped his face clean. Not having the energy to walk and feeling more drained than before, Alex felt his father lift him into his arms before he was carried back to his bed. Feeling as though tiredness had settled into every fibre of his being, Alex let his eyes snap shut and relished his father lovingly stroking his hair. Letting out a yawn before he licked his lips, Alex soon drifted off into the land of nod and knew no more.
Heaving out a sigh whilst feeling glad that they'd eventually gotten Alex settled, Severus got to his feet and pinched the bridge of his nose as he made his way into the living room. Narcissa followed and joined Severus on one of the couches, the two sitting side by side. "Merlin, watching that was awful," Severus remarked as he rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"I know," Narcissa sighed also feeling drained and worn out. "It's horrible seeing him so weak and ... well I don't know how to say it ... you know not his usual self?" she added finding it hard to express what she meant, nevertheless Severus still understood.
"Indeed," Severus agreed. "Well at least he is sleeping now ... that's something," he supposed.
"Yeah," said Narcissa perking up. "Tomorrow is a rest day too right?"
"It is," said Severus looking forward to it whilst feeling relieved, no it would be a full day and half until Alex had to go through that again, only the effects of the potions were cumulative so he'd feel worse next time and less rejuvenated after each rest day too, basically the treatment was going to wear him down until eventually his body was an utter and total wreck, and that was if he survived, no it seemed either way Alex was in for a tough time.
"Well then he has that to look forward to then," said Narcissa brightly.
"True," Severus conceded. "But when did we get to the point where we say he can look forward to feeling normal?"
"I know," sighed out Narcissa accepting it but not liking it. "I don't like it either."
When Alex next awoke to say he felt awful was a complete and utter understatement. Not only did he feel like he'd been trampled by a herd of hippogriffs, but to make matters worse the inside of his mouth was now feeling quite sore and his stomach still felt nauseas. Feeling cranky and very grumpy Alex rubbed his bleary eyes, before he glimpsed his alarm clock that told him it was 03:44 PM in the afternoon. Just lying there Alex looked up when his bedroom door opened whereupon he spied his father and his aunt entering.
"Hey son," said Severus softly as he sat down on the bed bedside his boy. "How are you feeling?" Hearing this Alex looked up at his father as though the man had just grown two heads. How was he feeling? How the fuck did they expect him to be feeling? What an utterly stupid question to ask!
"Just fine," snarled Alex sarcastically. "Howdya think m'feeling?" he snapped irritably whilst blinking his eyes to try and get rid of his booming headache; one that couldn't be cured by a pain relief potion as it'd interfere with the mixtures currently in his body. Taking in a deep breath whilst closing his eyes for a moment Severus reminded himself not to rise, and instead tried to pacify and placate his son.
"It was a rather silly question wasn't it?" said Severus apologising with Narcissa smiling along.
"Yeah but I feels awful," Alex admitted, so nothing new there.
"Well maybe we could do something to take your mind off it?" suggested Narcissa.
"There's an idea," Severus approved. "How about we go make some potions together? You always love doing that," offered the potions master.
"No," said Alex shaking his head; he didn't feel like doing anything. His reaction obviously surprised his father because he always loved brewing potions, and he meant always.
"Well," said Severus trying to think of something else. "We could read something together or if you're not up to it Aunt Cissy and I could read to you?" Once again Alex shook his head whilst becoming even more irritated that they wouldn't just leave him alone; he was too tired to think or do anything, put simply he felt like CRAP.
"Or we could do some puzzle or art together?" said Narcissa throwing that out there.
"Don't you guys get it? I SAID I DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING!" said Alex letting out his frustration; god it was like talking to idiots! Hearing this Severus felt like someone had stolen his Alex in the night and replaced him with this monster child before them, but he forced himself to admit that this was his Alex, just one that was currently very unwell and more snappy because of the treatment, Merlin he was already hating those bloody awful potions.
Then again Abigail had warned them that Alex would be worse than his bad pre-cancer days, and he guessed this was just the reality of it. He did sympathise with his son though, he must be feeling absolutely awful right now to be THIS snappy and irritable.
"Hey son sshh," soothed Severus as he wrapped his boy in a hug with Narcissa soon joining him. "If you don't want to do anything then that's fine okay? But you don't need to shout at us alright? But what about the garden? Wouldn't you like to go there and get out of your room?" Severus added whilst determined to succeed.
Alex considered this and found himself liking the idea, yes it would be nice to just relax outside and chill out, it certainly beat just lying in bed all day. He did feel rather guilty that he'd snapped at his father and Aunt Cissy, but he was so cranky and tired that he didn't even realise he was doing it. God he hated what these potions were doing to him. "Okay," whispered out Alex very quietly. "Ands m'sorry okay?" said Alex feeling utterly miserable.
"It's fine, hon," reassured Narcissa. "We know you don't mean it," she assured.
"It's juss these awful potions," he told them. "I already hate them!" said Alex viciously whilst punching his quilt weakly due to how tired he was. Severus found himself nodding along to this and was relieved when he saw Narcissa doing the same.
"It's okay to feel angry and even hate them," said Severus keeping the lines of communication open. "Because you know I hate them too okay? I hate how ill they make you feel but I know they're necessary, that doesn't make me like them though," he conceded.
"I feel the same too Alex," added Narcissa. "It wasn't very nice seeing you take them before, in fact it was quite upsetting," she admitted. Hearing this Alex felt a bit better emotionally; it felt good to know he wasn't alone and wasn't the only one who didn't like the potions, but even more so when they agreed with him and supported his view point.
"Thanks guys," said Alex appreciative of what they'd done and said but not feeling any better physically. Eager to get out of his room he got to his feet with his legs feeling like they'd already ran two marathons and back. Taking his cane when Narcissa handed it to him he was relieved to see that it actually helped, and helped a lot. Exiting his bedroom with his father's help they entered the living room and exited through the opposite doorway. Passing the guestroom and potions laboratory they entered the garden.
Resting in one of the comfy garden chairs Alex put his feet up and let out a sigh of contentedness; just being outside felt wonderful and had improved his mood considerably; just being able to feel the wind on his face and cheeks, to see and hear the birds chirping as they flew through the sky, to feel the sun's rays as it blazed in the sky. Of course it wasn't really outside but Alex didn't know that. He was however soon joined by his father and Aunt Cissy who sat beside him, with not much occurring until Severus called Daisy towards him.
"Daisy could you prepare some food for Alex? Try to make it something dry and remember to put the anti-odour spell on his plate too," Severus instructed.
Alex appreciated his father's foresight because right now he expected any odour to make his stomach rebel even more. Daisy dutifully complied though and Alex's snack was soon brought to him and took the form of some crackers, which he looked at with disdain. "Come on son you have to eat," said Severus gently. Heaving out a sigh Alex began nibbling on them but while he appreciated the crackers dryness they hurt his mouth with how hard they were.
Severus picked up on this and obviously saw something was wrong and investigated. "What's wrong, Alex?" he inquired.
"My mouth's really sore," Alex whined.
"Abigail did say that could happen," said Narcissa knowledgeably.
"She did," Severus acknowledged. "Good thing I anticipated it," added the potions master fishing inside his pocket. A moment later he retrieved a minute vial full of pink fluid.
"You can help?" said Alex hopefully as his mouth really was quite sore.
"Indeed," smiled Severus. "Now just wash this around your mouth but don't drink it," cautioned Severus as he handed over the now opened vial. Taking the potion Alex poured the contents into his mouth and swished it around for a short while. As he did the soreness in his mouth began to dissipate before it left him completely, seeing a cup being held before him Alex promptly spat out the solution.
"Wah waz zat?" asked Alex speaking with a bit of a lisp since his mouth had been slightly numbed.
"Numbing solution," elaborated Severus. "You should be able to eat without any pain or discomfort," said Severus to Alex's relief. "Now it might feel a bit weird eating because your mouth has been slightly numbed, but don't worry about choking," added the potions master waving his wand over Alex's throat. "I just cast an anti-choking spell so you'll be fine," he reassured.
"Th-anks dah-ad," said Alex with a lisp. "Hey I sah-ounds fun-eh," slurred out Alex before he smiled and giggled.
"You do," grinned Narcissa who was just happy to see Alex was smiling.
"Don't worry the numbing solution only lasts around fifteen minutes," Severus supplied with a fond smile. "So just long enough to finish your snack," he reassured. Alex did just that and found he could eat his crackers without any problems now the soreness was gone. Daisy also brought him some bread sticks to eat as well as some ice popsicles that would keep him hydrated and help settle his stomach.
After eating his crackers and the other food provided Alex felt his stomach settle down slightly which was a relief. According to what his father said apparently having an empty stomach would make his nausea worse, hence why Ignis stipulated that he should eat frequently throughout the day so his stomach always had least something within it. Alex saw the wisdom in this and vowed to stick to his eating schedule because he knew not eating would make him feel even worse, despite how sick it made him feel whilst doing so.
The three of them passed the time by just talking away with Alex mostly listening. Narcissa told him what Draco was doing at the Manor and what Uncle Lucius was doing at the Ministry too, whilst his father kept him distracted with potions theories he had or experiments he wished to undertake. As this occurred Daisy brought him drinks so he wouldn't become dehydrated. Strangely enough said drinks included flat coke so Alex would receive all the energy it contained, yet not be troubled with the usual gassiness it produced when bubbly. It tasted pretty bland but was easier than eating so he wasn't complaining.
He did complain though when Daisy brought him some pasta around 06:17 PM though because he really didn't feel like eating, no matter how much his father or aunt encouraged him, and while his mood had picked up from entering the garden he was beginning to feel irritable again, which was no doubt because of how tired and restless he felt. "Come on son you have to eat," said Severus whilst eating some of the pasta. "See it's lovely," he encouraged.
"You're just saying that," said Alex with a scowl as he glowered at said plate.
"Come on dear we already talked about this," spoke up Narcissa. "You know how important eating is."
"I don't care," Alex petulantly retorted; he knew how important is was but he just didn't care at the moment, his stomach felt awful and he wasn't at all in the mood for eating.
"Alex," said Severus sternly; he was willing to let Alex get away with snapping now and then but not when it came to eating. "You need to eat and we're not going to leave you alone until you do," he stipulated firmly. Hearing this Alex snapped his head up at his father who he saw looking at him resolutely and with determination, turning towards his aunt he knew he wouldn't be getting any help from her either, so he sent her a betrayed look before he gave in sensing he wasn't going to win this battle.
"Fine," spat Alex letting out a big huff as he brought his plate onto his lap and began grudgingly munching away. "Happy?" he asked them resentfully, his face contorting into a furious scowl.
"No Alex," sighed out Severus whilst wiping his forehead. "Look we're not doing this to punish you okay? We just care about you and you need to eat," he tried to explain whilst feeling awful that he was upsetting his son, but Alex needed to eat or else he'd lose even more weight and that'd reduce his chances, Merlin he hated when you had to pick between the lesser of two evils.
Alex knew his father's words made sense but that was in his head, not in his heart, and emotionally he felt like he was being punished; they knew he didn't want to eat and felt sick yet they insisted he eat against his wishes, so yes he found it hard to feel as though he wasn't being punished, hence why his glare didn't lessen.
"Whatever," mumbled Alex in between mouthfuls; his irritation, tiredness and achy body just making his mood even more fouler. Narcissa internally cringed at Alex's attitude and felt her patience being tested by what was normally a very polite and caring boy, to see Alex go from that to being this snarky, irritable and unpleasant child to be around was very trying and emotionally upsetting. She tried to remind herself that this wasn't Alex's fault but it was quite hard to do so.
Severus similarly felt himself feeling the same as Narcissa, and understood what Charlus and Abigail meant when they advised against him trying to care for Alex at home, he knew now it just simply wouldn't have worked because as much as he loved Alex he felt himself needing a rest. It seemed the entire day had been a battle to get Alex to cooperate, or had been trying for other reasons such as watching his son suffer as his body was pumped with poisonous potions.
Try to see it from his point of view a voice in Severus's head said. He's already been sick once today and must still be feeling nauseas as well hence why he doesn't want to eat. Considering this Severus could understand how Alex felt and as the pamphlets advised, believed love and affection to be a suitable means to help his son. As such Severus decided to battle on and therefore brought his son into a hug despite his snarky mood.
"Look at me," requested Severus whilst trying to get through to his son. Despite his attitude Alex felt himself doing just that. "We're really sorry okay? And I know you don't feel well, in fact you probably feel awful and I know your tummy feels off too okay?" said Severus sympathetically. "But you need to eat Alex or you're going to die alright?" said Severus seriously before he took a breath.
"And I won't let that happen because Aunt Cissy and I care too much about you okay?" he continued. "So I can live with you being mad at me if it means you get better," he laid out. "But don't think for one moment I enjoy forcing you to eat because I don't, I wish I never had to do it, and I wish you'd never gotten cancer too, but we've just got to deal with it alright? I know it's hard."
"You don't," whined Alex in a quiet shaky voice as is anger shattered leaving a broken and upset boy it its wake, one that suddenly seemed to be a lot younger and much more vulnerable. "You don't know how hard it is," he cried as he sniffled away.
"We don't," Narcissa agreed. "But we can imagine and we're here for you okay? We love you," she implored.
"Exactly," agreed Severus as he hugged Alex tighter to himself and leant down to kiss his forehead. "I love you lots and lots alright?"
"I k-know a-ands I l-loves yous ands A-Aunt Cissy too," said Alex sounding choked up.
"Now come on I know it's hard but let's finish your pasta okay?" Severus encouraged. "You've nearly finished half of it which makes me so proud of you because I know you really didn't want to do it, so be a good boy and eat up for me alright?" Severus further encouraged as he praised his son. In response Alex's mood seemed to improve slightly and he ate a mouthful of pasta when his father brought it up to his lips, and another and then another, he just took it one mouthful at a time and soon he'd eaten three quarters and then thankfully he was done.
"Good boy Alex! Well done!" cheered Narcissa once Alex had cleaned his plate.
"Indeed good boy," chorused Severus causing Alex to let out a little sheepish smile. Yes he appreciated the praise but really he was just glad he'd eaten, and that he didn't have to eat anything else for a while; who knew such a normal task would become such a horrendous thing thanks to his upset stomach. Having finished his food Alex just spread out on his chair and made himself more comfortable, one of his hand's resting on his bloated stomach in an attempt to quell the storm within.
Unfortunately it seemed to do very little as the nausea in his stomach seemed to get worse, with the sensation of liquid creeping up his throat alerting him that he was close to being sick. Realising this Alex swallowed down the saliva that had collected in the back of his throat, and took in some deep breaths to calm his stomach, but alas it wasn't to be. "M'gunna be sicks 'gain," Alex declared as he scooted along his chair so he could put his feet on the ground.
Hearing his son's announcement Severus moved quickly and conjured a bucket which he placed in Alex's lap, before he gently pushed Alex's head down over said bucket and held it in place, only for the sound of Alex loudly retching to reverberate throughout the air a few moments later, followed by another, and then another after that. To Alex it felt like the stuff was just pouring out of him, which turned out to be a very accurate description.
Seeing his son was finished Severus removed the bucket and then eyed its contents, dismay filling him when he realised the battle they'd had over the pasta had effectively been worthless since it was now sitting in the bottom of a bucket, and not in Alex's stomach. Letting out a sigh he vanished the bucket and the sick and then helped Narcissa clean his boy up, who was happy to just let them care for him since he was feeling so ill and drained. "I feels awful," sniffled out Alex as he held his stomach.
"I know," sighed out Severus before he gave Alex a big affectionate hug, although he was careful not to jostle his stomach and make him feel any worse. Alex relaxed into the embrace and just drank in the warmness it gave him; he always felt so safe in his father's arms.
"Love ya dad," said Alex seeking further reassurance.
"And I love you too," Severus replied before he gave Alex's forehead a kiss which got a wide happy smile out of his boy. Still being embraced by his father, Alex's eyes travelled to Narcissa who was nearby with his arms stretching out towards her. Picking up on what Alex wanted Narcissa moved towards him and joined the hug.
"Family hug huh?" she smiled.
"Yeah," said Alex letting out a wide grin as he squeezed them tighter to himself momentarily before he let them go.
"Now you must be feeling pretty tired, right?" Severus assumed; his son had just been sick after all and that tended to make you feel pretty drained.
"Uh huh," Alex agreed. "M'not sleepy though," he amended.
"No but would you like to rest in your bed?" Severus suggested.
"Come along then, dear," said Narcissa helping Alex up with his father passing him his cane. From there the two of them helped him back into his bed where Severus tucked him in and fluffed his pillows.
"Comfy?" said Severus double checking.
"Yeah thanks, dad," said Alex gratefully as she snuggled into his bed whilst feeling nice and warm.
"You're welcome," Severus replied as he settled himself down beside the bed, with Narcissa doing the same on the other side. They were however soon joined by Abigail who entered after she'd knocked. She quickly took in the scene with her eyes landing on Severus.
"Could we talk?" she requested.
"Of course, come in," Severus beckoned.
"Privately?" Abigail responded.
"Ah ... yes," he agreed as he got to his feet. "I'll be back soon, son," he added as he followed Abigail into the living room and seated himself opposite her. "So how can I help you?"
"I was more wondering how I could help you," Abigail returned with a smile. "So how have things been today?"
"Where to start?" said Severus letting out a sigh.
"That bad?" said Abigail knowingly.
"You could certainly say so," Severus agreed as he rubbed the back of his head. "To be honest it's been horrible; it was awful watching Alex go through the treatment, and since then he's been sick twice and very moody and snappy."
"I can understand what you're going through," said Abigail sympathetically. "The first treatment is always hard, well they're all hard but for different reasons, the first one because you're not used to it and it's quite shocking, and the others because of how much they take out of you, in fact they're all a bag of mixed emotions," she explained. "The thing to focus on though is that tomorrow will be completely different; the recovery potions will make Alex happy, and his mood will be considerably better as a result, and as for being sick I believe the recovery potions will help with that too, so Alex's stomach won't be as vulnerable when he goes in for his second treatment," she reassured.
"It will really be better tomorrow?" asked Severus finding it hard to see but hoping so much that it was true.
"I promise," she vowed. "In fact you'll be amazed at the difference you see in him, he'll be like a different child, full of energy and positive and demanding attention to do things like playing or perhaps making potions as he usually enjoys, believe me Severus the recovery potions will really help."
"Thank you," said Severus letting out a smile his spirits lifted considerably.
"You're welcome, now I know Alex is being a bit of a misery at the moment," she acknowledged. "But it's really hard for him and it's not his fault, but what you can do to help him is some father son bonding, what I usually find helps is a bit of tender love and care, so why don't you give him a bath to help with his achy muscles? And perhaps a massage afterwards?" she suggested.
"I think Alex would enjoy that," Severus agreed.
"Good, well I'd like to speak with Alex before I go so could you just wait here?"
"Of course," said Severus inclining his head. Seeing his agreement Abigail stood and then poked her head around Alex's bedroom door.
"Narcissa?" said Abigail getting her attention.
"Yes?" she replied whilst snapping her head to face the therapist.
"Do you think I could have a private word with Alex?"
"Sure if Alex is okay with it?"
"Uh huh," Alex agreed.
"Alright well I'll see you in a little while, dear," said Narcissa stroking Alex's brow before she got up and departed. Abigail watched her go and then took the seat Narcissa had just been occupying.
"How you holding up, trooper?" asked Abigail with a sad smile
"You were right Abigail; the potions made me feel really weally wiped out," Alex answered.
"I know, and have they been making you feel sick too?"
"Yeah ... like twice ... it was horrible."
"I know," said Abigail sympathetically. "At least you know what to expect now though, right?"
"Yeah I guess," Alex acknowledged.
"And you can look forward to tomorrow; believe me Alex it's going to be great, you're going to feel so much better tomorrow, why the potions will make you full of energy, and you'll feel a lot less moody too," Abigail encouraged.
"Uh huh ... I have been rather snappy haven't I? I bet dad was complaining about me," said Alex somewhat miserably.
"No he's not been complaining about you," Abigail countered. "Sure he's upset because he doesn't like how the potions make you moody, but that's more because he doesn't like to see you suffering than because he can't deal with you being snappy with him, he's knows it's hard for you Alex, and he understands what you're going through."
"I s'pose but he made me eat before and I didn't wanna, and thens I was sick," Alex whined.
"Did you tell him?" Abigail investigated.
"Yeah! But he didn't listen and said I had to eat or else I'll lose more weight," said Alex getting it off his chest.
"Well I think your father was wrong, Alex," said Abigail emphatically.
"You do?" said Alex perking up at her agreement.
"Yes, I can understand he's worried about you, and that he doesn't want you to lose weight because it'll decrease your chances, but forcing you to eat won't help, it'll just make you sick, so I'll be having a word with him and he won't do that again," Abigail promised.
"Thanks, Abigail," said Alex holding out his arms to show he wanted a hug.
"You're welcome, kid," said Abigail returning the hug before she ruffled his hair only for there to be tufts of it on her hand when she withdrew it, well looks like his hair is beginning to fall out she thought to herself. Wiping the hair off her hand quickly so he wouldn't see she straightened up and ended the embrace. "Alright I'll see you later, okay?"
"Yeah see ya, Abigail!" Alex happily called after her. Closing his door behind her she found Severus and Narcissa sat at the couch, cups of tea in their hands. Sitting down opposite them she regarded the blacked robed professor.
"Severus I have a bone to pick with you," said Abigail seriously.
"You do?" said Severus with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes I do, did you force Alex to eat before?"
"Well," started Severus as he considered it. "I guess so ... yes," he admitted when Abigail's glare intensified.
"Look I know you're worried about Alex, and that Ignis told you about how important it is for Alex to eat, but you need to understand that Alex's nausea is effected by numerous things. One of them is stress and anxiety, so when he's upset his nausea will be even worse, and forcing him to eat when he doesn't want to will only lead to him being sick, which is just a waste," she lectured before she took a breather.
"Simply put you need to ensure that he's only going to eat when he can keep it down," Abigail continued. "Or there's no point. He'll give you signs and signals which he sometimes won't understand, but at times he'll be positive he knows what he wants, and if he's feeling too sick to eat he'll tell you, at times like that you'll just have to bite the bullet and let it go until he's ready, understood?" let out Abigail continuing her rant.
"I understand," said Severus contritely as both he and Narcissa had the decency to look embarrassed. Looking back on it Alex had been very reluctant and he supposed he should have picked up on it, of course he only wanted the best for his son, but he needed to realise that he had to choose his battles, and forcing Alex to eat when he couldn't wasn't going to achieve anything, no they'd just have to wait until Alex was able and encourage him to eat then, he supposed Ignis was right when he said they had to be flexible when his son ate.
"I'm glad you understand," said Abigail pleased to see she'd gotten through to him. "But I think you owe your son an apology," she prompted.
"You're right," said Severus guiltily as he let out a sigh; it seemed he couldn't do anything right today, he was either sitting by helplessly as his son was pumped with poisonous potions, or upsetting him by forcing him to eat. Maybe he was being a bit too hard on himself, but that was just him in a nutshell, ever criticizing his failings. Either way he did owe his son an apology.
"I think it might be best if I head home and come back tomorrow," Narcissa announced; she'd been reading the mood and had sensed that what Alex and Severus most likely needed was some time alone to round the evening off, and she didn't want to impede on Severus's privacy when he apologised to his son, no that could be quite private and personal.
"Always able to judge the situation," praised Severus gratefully. "Thanks for being here though Narcissa, you don't know how much it means to myself but especially Alex."
"You're very welcome, I'll just say goodnight to Alex though," said Narcissa getting to her feet before she strode into Alex's bedroom.
"Don't be too hard on yourself, Severus," said Abigail softly, now she'd gotten through to him she felt no need to be harsh with him. "This is a learning process, and both you and Alex will mess up at times, but you need to be a team and help each other when the other can't help themselves."
"I know," said Severus with a nod. "Sometimes I think Alex is too good for me though," he admitted.
"He is a wonderful boy," Abigail smiled. "But you're a good father too, Severus," she encouraged. Severus didn't know what to say to that, but thankfully he didn't need to for Narcissa's reappearance proved as the perfect distraction.
"He's all yours," she said with a smile. "Although he's rather happy since I just told him Draco will be coming to see him tomorrow."
"I'm sure he will love it," said Abigail approvingly.
"Indeed," Severus concurred. "He does need things to look forward to."
"Yes, well we'll be here, I'm not sure about Lucius with how busy he is, but he may come along if he has time," Narcissa supplied.
"Give him my regards anyway," Severus politely said.
"Of course," said Narcissa as though she'd do anything but. "Well I'll see you both tomorrow," she bade them as she approached the hearth. "Malfoy Manor!" she exclaimed and with a flash of emerald flames she was gone.
"I'll give you and Alex some peace," said Abigail before she too left and made herself scarce. Realising he was now alone Severus looked around whilst realising he couldn't delay any longer, letting out a sigh he turned towards his son's door and moved to make up with him. Entering the bedroom he was met with Alex's exuberant exclamations.
"Dad! Dad! Did you know Draco is coming tomorrow?" Alex excitedly rattled off.
"I must admit I didn't up until a moment or two ago," said Severus smirking at his son's exuberance as he sat on the bed bedside him. "But, Alex, I feel I owe you an apology, Abigail's just put me in my place and I realise now that I shouldn't have forced you to eat ... so I'm sorry," said Severus rather lamely although Alex could tell from his facial expressions that he meant it.
"Did she shout at you?" Alex wondered.
"In a manner of speaking," Severus answered with Alex unable to help but grin at the thought of someone telling his dad off, it was just too funny of an image not to. "And she was right too, about everything, but as she and I said I was just worried about you, but I won't force you to eat okay? Just tell me when you're feeling really sick and I'll let Daisy know not to bring you anything," said Severus apologetically.
"S'okay dad, I was a bit upset before but I'm glad you're listening now," said Alex forgiving his father; he wasn't going to stay mad at him if Abigail had already had a go at him, and he had said sorry.
"Thank you," said Severus gratefully. "Now how are you feeling?"
"Still achy ands sore," Alex replied.
"Well how does a nice relaxing bath sound? That way you can just have a nice soak and unwind," Severus suggested.
"Yeah!" said Alex happily.
"Alright, well then let me just get everything ready," said Severus rising to his feet before he made his way into the bathroom. Once there he turned on the magical taps, with hot and cold water pouring into the bathtub. With this done he took some bubble bath and added some to the quickly rising water, and a few moments later everything was done. Having got the bath ready he returned to his son's side who he assisted with walking.
Arriving by the side of the bathtub, Severus helped Alex pull off his gown and pyjama t-shirt, with his pyjama bottoms soon following. This done he had Alex lift his legs in turn as he helped him slip off his briefs, leaving Alex in the nude; he knew Alex could undress himself, but since he was rather clingy at the moment he didn't see anything wrong with 'babying' him, his son did need a bit of T.L.C and tender love and care is what he was going to get.
Climbing into the bathtub with the help of his father, Alex slipped into the warm wonderful water and let himself sink down to his neck, the foam bubbles tickling the back of his neck and his ears, the young boy letting out murmurs of delight as the water enveloped his achy limbs and sent the tension in them away. "S'lovely dad," Alex happily proclaimed.
"Glad to hear it," said Severus smiling along. "How is your stomach feeling?"
"S'bit better," Alex answered. "Still a bit queasy though," he elaborated.
"You should feel a lot better tomorrow," Severus reassured. "And Abigail was telling me that the recovery potions should offer you some more protection, so that when you have your next course of treatment on Tuesday it won't be as bad."
"Don't talk about Tuesday, dad," said Alex gently admonishing his father.
"Sorry," said Severus contritely. "But at least today's over with, and you know with every treatment your cancer gets better right? So as bad as today has been it's helping you get better," said Severus trying to improve the mood.
"I know," said Alex staring at the tiles on the wall. "Dad?"
"Yes son?" said Severus attentively.
"Do you think mum and James are in heaven?" said Alex turning to face his father. Having heard what his son had said, Severus quickly ascertained that Alex most likely wasn't talking about his parents, no he was actually talking about himself but doing it in a subtle way.
"Hmm," said Severus as he considered the question carefully. "Well you know how many ghosts Hogwarts has don't you?"
"Yeah Hogwarts: A History says it has loads."
"Well they say before people became ghosts they had the choice of staying behind or going on, so considering there's a choice I do think there's something beyond death, Alex, so yes I think it's likely heaven exists," Severus rationalised. "But you'll have to decide for yourself, so what do you think?"
"I think they're in heaven," Alex replied. "Do you think it hurts?"
"Dying?" said Severus seeking confirmation.
"Yeah," said Alex quietly.
"Well ... I suppose that would depend on how you die," said Severus not wanting to lie but also hoping to alleviate Alex's concerns. "But son ... if your cancer got so bad then the healers would know in advance, so no it wouldn't hurt; they'd give you potions to take the pain away and they'd also give you potions to make you really sleepy all the time," he explained.
"So if you were going to ... die," said Severus not wanting to speak those awful words. "Well then it'd be like going to sleep after a really long day, and you wouldn't even know about it or feel a thing, you'd just go while you were asleep," Severus further explained. "And I'd be with you all the time okay? You wouldn't be alone, but answer me this? Did you feel any pain when you nearly died?"
"No," said Alex simply. "I mean I think I remember you saying something to me, like fight or something, but it was all fuzzy and I can't really remember," Alex elaborated.
"I was speaking to you," said Severus letting out a smile; his son had heard him!
"So it wouldn't hurt?"
"As I said you wouldn't feel a thing, so no," Severus confirmed.
"Thanks dad," said Alex letting out a smile of his own, the young boy feeling reassured thanks to his father's explanations.
"You're welcome, son, and you can talk with me about this any time you want okay? But try not to worry too much about it, Alex, your chances are pretty good, not so bad you should be worrying about dying anyway," he consoled; he knew Alex should be worrying but that didn't mean he wanted him to be.
"I know," Alex acknowledged. "I just wanted to talk bout it anyway."
"That's fine," Severus reassured. "Now do you want me to wash your hair?"
"Uh huh," Alex consented. Hearing this Severus took the shampoo bottle in hand and poured a wallop of it onto his free hand. Massaging it into Alex's wet locks he noticed a few strands of hair on the palm of his hands when he came to rinse it.
"Is it coming out?" asked Alex when he felt his father momentarily stop.
"Yes," said Severus honestly.
"I thought it would," said Alex nodding to himself.
"You know ... it might be better to just cut it off in one big go, that way it wouldn't be stressing you out as you notice hairs falling out, we could just get it over and done with," Severus suggested logically.
"Yeah maybe," said Alex not wanting to commit himself, his tone of voice clearly saying that he'd think about it.
"Mnn hmm," let out Severus as he decided to drop the issue for now. "Hold still," he instructed as he rinsed Alex's hair. From there the two just sat relaxing away, Alex lounging in the bathtub as Severus watched on from his perch atop the toilet seat. They even played a game with the soap suds with Severus giving himself a beard and white foam hair, which Alex said made him look like Albus. Eventually though Alex decided to get out, with his father drying him once he had.
Walking with only a towel wrapped around his waist, Alex waited by the bedside as his father laid another longer towel on the bed, and summoned some oil towards him. "Alright lie down on your stomach," Severus instructed with Alex doing so. With his son lay down Severus unwrapped the towel from his waist and adjusted it so it was just lay over his bottom, the sides draped over his hips. Tipping the oil bottle on its side he poured some on his hands, which he rubbed together so they'd warm up and wouldn't be so cold on Alex's skin.
Hands warm and oil applied, Severus began gently massaging Alex's back and shoulder blades, the young boy practically melting into his touch as he let out a sigh of contentedness. "Think m'already in heaven," Alex admitted which got a chuckle out of Severus, who was pleased to see how his actions were relaxing his son. Rubbing circles into Alex's shoulder blades, Severus's hands crept lower and massaged Alex's lower back, before he lifted Alex's left leg, his own left hand cupping the front, as his right grasped his son's calf muscles, which he began rubbing soothingly, the oil and warm hands loosening them up.
"Feel better?" said Severus pleased with the results so far.
"M'yeah," murmured out Alex feeling a bit drowsy.
"Good," said Severus approvingly as he moved onto Alex's right calf. As for said boy he just lay there relaxing away as his father's hands worked wonders on his achy muscles and sore limbs. Having finished with Alex's back Severus decided to work the front. "Turn over for me please, son," Severus politely requested. Alex did so with Severus readjusting the towel to cover his front, before he began running his hands up and down Alex's stomach that he noticed was still quite defined from all his duelling training.
"Mnnn yous always makes me feels sleepy," Alex mumbled out as he found it harder and harder to keep his lead like eyes open.
"Something I'm proud of," said Severus with a smirk; he liked the fact he could relax his son and make things easier for him. "Now shsss," he shushed as he kept massaging away; his goal to send his boy off to sleep. It didn't take long and Severus had to resist the urge to tickle Alex as he knew it'd bring him out of his half asleep state, but eventually Alex nodded off with his breathing evening out. "Right let's get you ready for bed and then bo-boze for myself I think," said Severus speaking to himself. "Sleep well, son," said Severus once he'd dressed Alex in his pyjamas and tucked him in. "And sweet dreams too."
So chapter 76 is published! I'm terribly sorry for the wait, but the Christmas holidays just completely threw my writing schedule out the window; I didn't write anything for like two weeks because of how busy I was with family and celebrating, so that's why there was such a delay. As for this chapter yes things have finally hit home, and they will most likely get worse from here rather unfortunately, but if you want to see how Severus and Alex cope then you'll have to keep reading.
Additionally I believe I was asked in an anonymous review whether I've stopped using italics to show whether people are thinking or not. The answer is yes because I believe it to be rather tacky and an eyesore, I originally used them at the start but now I believe I can write people's thought processes well enough so that it doesn't need to be pointed out. That's one of the main things I've discovered whilst writing the story, basically my writing style has evolved and hopefully for the better too, I guess you don't see that so much in other stories because they're not as long, but my first story is nearly half a million words long, and has been written over the space of over a year so it's not so surprising, but it is interesting.
On the note of anonymous reviews, just be aware that I can't reply via private message to them, so if you wish to ask me a question in a review then please ensure you're logged in, or I won't be able to reply as much as I'd like to, just ask anyone who follows the story regularly and asks me stuff, they'll tell you I like to keep in contact with my followers, but like I said I can't if you don't give me the option.
Lastly the next chapter will be titled good and bad days, so Alex's treatment and how it affects him and his family is going to be explored in more detail. Like this chapter I'll try and publish it as fast as possible, but with time restrains don't be hoping for anything too soon. Hope everyone is enjoying the new year and everything is going well, see you next chapter.