Sooo, I'm back! Well... sort of. This story just would not go away. Seamus Finnegan has been living in my head for 15 months now, and I figure the only way to get rid of him is to write it down. To me, Seamus feels like 90 per cent an original character. He's terminally underdeveloped in the books (What do we know about him? He's Irish, he has sandy hair, he supports the Kenmare Kestrels, and his Dad's a Muggle. That's pretty much it); whereas my Seamus came into living, breathing multi-dimensional life seven years ago when I was writing Six Foot Of Ginger Idiot, and has been one of my favourite characters to write ever since.
Important note: This story follows immediately on from the events of Pub Crawl – literally an hour after the end of it – so you need to read that first. It's an easy, fun read, but you really do need to read it because a) I wrote it with this story very much in mind so there are a lot of deliberate references back and forth between the two fics, and b) you need to know what my Seamus is like, as a person, at this particular point in time, which is eight months after the end of the war. Basically, you should consider it Chapter One of this story. Read that first, then come back here. And brace yourselves, 'cos this is going to be fun!
Pinky Brown, 19th February 2012
Kiss Me, I'm Irish
Chapter One: St Patrick's Night
Lavender hesitated in the dark hallway. "Who is it?" she called out.
"Who'd ya think?"
She smiled to herself, shook her head and began the long process of unchaining and unbolting the door and taking off the many protective spells that made her feel safe.
He stepped into the hallway and they gave each other a tight, warm hug.
"My God, you're freezing!"
"Tell me about it. Took me an hour and a half to get here on the night bus. I think my feet have frozen solid."
They let go of each other and he waited while she locked and bolted the door again.
"You came on the Knight Bus?"
"A night bus. Not the Knight Bus."
"Why didn't you just Apparate here?"
A shrug. "Too pissed."
"How come it took you so long?"
"Well, mainly because I got the wrong bus and went to Highgate, and then I had to wait for it to turn around and come all the way back again."
She took his hands and rubbed them vigorously between hers for a moment. "You're like ice!"
The corners of his mouth twitched slightly. "Other bits of me are cold too, if you fancy rubbing them."
She laughed, and let go of his hands hurriedly. "You're terrible!"
"What?" he protested innocently. "I only meant my feet. What did you think I meant?"
She flushed slightly. "Come inside and warm up. I'll light a fire."
He unzipped his jacket and followed her through the lounge and into the kitchen.
"Do you want a coffee?" she asked over her shoulder.
"No. Actually, yeah. Cheers. Actually, better make it a tea. I don't want to be up all night." He shot her a sly look. "Unless you want me to be up all night, of course..."
She laughed. "Seamus, you've been out drinking all night, I'm not sure you're capable of keeping anything up!"
He laughed delightedly. "Ouch!"
"Tea it is, then," she grinned. "Do you want some toast as well?"
"No, thanks. Just the tea's fine."
He leant back against the kitchen unit and watched her filling the kettle.
She laughed. "Thanks! They're new. Mum bought them for me because it's been so cold."
"What's the pattern on them, snowmen?"
"Never mind what I'm wearing," she teased, pulling at the front of his t-shirt, "What's this monstrosity?"
Seamus affected bewilderment. "What's wrong with it?"
"Kiss Me, I'm Irish? Really, Seamus?"
He shrugged and laughed. "I need all the help I can get!"
"That's not what I heard."
"Oh, yeah? What did you hear?"
"Well, whatever I heard, I heard it all from you, so are you saying its all bollocks?"
He laughed out loud. "You think this is bad, you should have seen what I was wearing earlier."
She raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Dare I ask?"
"Well... you know those big furry hats shaped like a giant pint of Guinness...?"
Lavender burst out laughing. "Oh, no! Where is it? Put it on, I'll get my camera!"
"Can't, sorry. I lost it."
"How could you lose something that big?"
"Well... technically, I didn't lose it, some woman stole it."
"What, she came up and took it right off your head?" she chortled.
"No, she distracted me and then made off with it when I wasn't looking."
They looked at each other and both started laughing.
"How did she distract you, Seamus?"
He had the grace to look a little sheepish, and nodded down at the slogan on his t-shirt.
She laughed delightedly. "So she kissed you and then stole your hat? Oh, so you so deserved that!"
"You taking your coat off, or are you not stopping?"
"I'm stopping, if that's okay with you."
"'Course its okay. It's always nice to see you, Seamus, even if you do have a terrible knack of waking me up."
"Sorry," he said sheepishly. "I should have thought."
"Don't be silly, I don't mind. I mean, it's not like I've got to get up for work tomorrow, is it?"
They both laughed at the old joke.
"Are you sure you don't want some toast?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Had a kebab while I was waiting for the bus."
"Well, you know where the bread is. Help yourself if you change your mind."
He went back into the living room, shrugged off his coat and tossed it onto the armchair, and then crouched down and busied himself lighting a fire in the grate.
"So what have you been up to this evening?" she asked, coming back into the room with their teas a few minutes later. "In the pub, I suppose?"
"'Course. It's St Paddy's night. Where else would any self-respecting Irishman be?"
"I didn't realise it was St Patrick's night," murmured Lavender. "I lose track of the days at the moment."
Seamus collapsed onto the sofa and rubbed his eyes wearily.
She handed him his cup, then sat down beside him with her back to the armrest, pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her toes against his thigh.
"You could say that. Me and your ex went on a bit of a pub crawl. Charing Cross to Archway on the Northern Line. Eleven pubs, eleven pints. Supposed to be, anyway, but Ron couldn't hack the pace, the lightweight."
"How is Ron?"
Seamus gave an exaggerated sigh. "Please don't tell me you still care."
"I don't. Not like that, anyway. I'm just asking."
"Well, he's still shacked up with Granger, if that's what you mean. They're revoltingly happy. Apparently she likes morning sex."
He saw Lavender wince and wished he hadn't said it.
"It's fine," she said stiffly. "I told you, I don't care anymore. It was a long time ago."
"Yeah," said Seamus, flatly. "A lifetime, right?"
There was an unusually long silence.
"So how was your night?" she asked eventually. "Did you pull?" She gave him a teasing little push in the arm. "Have you come straight to me hot from the bed of another woman?"
"On St Pat's night? Of course I – no, I didn't, actually. Too drunk. Anyway, I was with Weasley, wasn't I? He's like the opposite of a girl magnet." He affected a panicky voice. "Don't talk to me, I've got a girlfriend!"
Lavender laughed out loud. "Why didn't you go out with somebody single, then?"
He shook his head. "I dunno. Seems like all the blokes I know have paired up now. Ron, Neville, Harry, Ernie..."
"What about Dean?"
"He's doing that course in Manchester, isn't he? Mixing with a load of arty types. Girls with blue hair, that kind of thing."
"He could have come down for the night. Or you could have gone up there to see him."
"Nah. Don't want to cramp his style. We had a good night, though. It was a laugh. I always have a laugh with Ron."
A wry smile. "Yes, it seems he was only miserable when he was with me."
"Yeah, well, he didn't know what he had, did he? I've told him a hundred times he backed the wrong horse, but he won't listen."
"Oh, you know what I mean."
"Oh, shut up," he grinned.
She smiled at him. "You do make me laugh, you know."
He gave a thin smile. "Well, I try."
She shook her head. "I still don't understand how those two ended up together."
"Me neither. But, hey, it works for them, so…" He shrugged. "What do we know?"
"Well, since we're both single... nothing, obviously!"
They both laughed.
Lavender stifled a yawn and stretched her arms luxuriously over her head. She noticed him sneak a sideways glance at her breasts as she did so and bit back a smile.
"I should get to bed..."
"No, don't!" he blurted. "Not yet!"
"It's past three in the morning, Seamus."
"I know, but… I've only just got here!"
"Well… okay, but only for another half an hour. It's really late."
Ho nodded gratefully, and they sipped their tea in silence for a few minutes, watching the fire crackle and burn in the grate.
"So what are you up to this weekend?" she asked brightly. "Any hot dates lined up?"
Seamus did not seem to have heard. He gripped his mug tightly with both hands and stared distractedly into the flames.
"I -" he began, and then stopped.
"What?" she prompted, grinning, when he showed no sign of finishing the sentence.
He shook his head.
"No, go on."
"It doesn't matter."
She surveyed him for a few moments uncertainly. "Well... okay."
"It's just –"
He looked up then and met her eyes. "Do you ever feel like, I dunno, everyone else is getting on with their life and making plans for the future and you're just sort of..."
"Stuck?" she finished.
"Welcome to my life," she joked, then realised to her shock that he was quite serious. "Why, is that how you feel too?"
He shrugged. "Everyone seems to be moving on, getting on with their lives... It's like the war never even happened. How can they can get up in the morning and go to work and… and... walk about, after everything we've seen and done? How can they just forget?"
Lavender shifted uneasily in her seat. "I don't think they've forgotten, Seamus. Maybe they just don't want to think about it anymore. You can't blame them for that."
"But how can they not think about it? How can they just pretend all that stuff never happened? It's like everyone's forgotten, and they think it's all okay now, and it's not! It's not..."
His voice cracked on the last word and he turned away from her and put a hand in front of his face so she couldn't see his expression. For an awful moment she thought he was crying.
"Seamus?" she whispered urgently, "What's wrong? Has something happened?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong. I've just had too much to drink, that's all. I'm fine."
"Oh come on!" she snorted, and he looked up, startled.
"Don't give me that rubbish. I'm the world expert in giving people the runaround about that stuff. I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm… not fine. And you're not fine. Are you?"
They held each other's gaze for a moment, and then he shook his head slowly.
"I killed someone, Lavender. How am I supposed to just pretend that never happened?"
She stared at him, not knowing what to say. Eight months ago, another late night visit. She had not long moved into her new flat and was having difficulty adjusting after three months in hospital. Seamus had come from a funeral. A week of funerals. He was numb with grief and rage and full of vodka, and something that had been building up inside him for months had finally come to a head. In this room, on this sofa, in the small dark hours of the morning, he had told her his worst secret, and wept in front of her. Neither of them had mentioned it since, and for that she was grateful. She didn't want to talk about the war. She never wanted to talk about it again. Except it seemed that after eight months of bottling it up Seamus did want to talk about it, and right now, in her fragile state, she was not at all sure she wanted to hear.
"You have... nightmares?" she asked hesitantly.
He nodded. "Well… not really nightmares. It's not like I wake up in a cold sweat or anything. More like... blackouts."
"No," he said hurriedly, seeing the horror in her eyes. "No, not blackouts, that's not what I – I mean, they're sort of – I don't know what they are... I'm awake, but I don't know where I am. I'm here, but in my head I'm back there. Does that make sense?"
He could see from the look of confusion on her face that it didn't, and wished he had never started this conversation. They should have stuck to the flirting; he should have kept his mouth shut. Now it would all be ruined.
"You mean, like a daydream?" she asked, desperate to understand.
He gave an unhappy shrug. "I don't know. It feels real, when it's happening... it can't be more than a few minutes, but when I come back, when it's over... I don't know where I am, whether it's then or now... it's like it's all just happened all over again. And I'm lying on the floor and I can't move."
Sounds like blackouts to me, she thought, but did not voice the thought out loud.
"How long have... have you... has it..."
"About a month. The first one... I was on a ferry." He gave a mirthless laugh. "I was really badly hungover, and probably still half-drunk too, and seasick, and... you know when you're so hungover you start to sort of hallucinate?"
Lavender just looked at him. Clearly, she didn't know.
"So I thought it was just that, it was just because I was so ill, I was on this fucking ferry and I felt so bad I wanted to die. I was shaking, I'd been sick, the boat was lurching about, my balance was all over the place, I could barely stand up... Oh yeah, and it was raining, so I was cold and wet and shivering sitting outside on the deck, hoping the fresh air would sober me up, and then... and then... there he was, standing in front of me.
"On the boat?"
"No, not on the boat. Where he was when I - in the - he was there and I was there, and I wasn't on the boat anymore."
"Oh, no," whispered Lavender, on the verge of tears now.
"I mean, why have I just started seeing him now? It's been over a year! I hardly thought about him at all, I was okay, and then, bam! Suddenly he's in my head!"
He dragged his fingers through his hair and dug them deep into his skull, as though trying to physically pull the nightmare vision from his brain.
"He was a Death Eater, Seamus. It was him or you. He'd killed dozens of people already and he wasn't going to stop."
"I killed someone."
"You saved people's lives."
He shook his head. "Only my own. The battle was practically over."
"But you didn't know that! It was a war. A lot of people died. It was a war!"
"That still doesn't change what I did though, does it? I didn't have to use the killing curse. I could have used any one of a hundred spells that would have stopped him. I didn't have to kill him."
"Yes, you did, Seamus. If you hadn't, you wouldn't be sitting here talking to me now. He would have killed you in a heartbeat. You didn't have time to think, you just acted in self-defence –"
"No, no, I didn't, that's just the point! I didn't give him a chance to attack me, I just turned the corner and he was there, right in front of me, and I didn't even stop, I didn't even –"
"You were in the middle of a battle!" she reminded him. "You'd been fighting for hours. Days. You were exhausted. We all were."
"So my excuse is tiredness?" he demanded, bitterly.
She leant forward and put a hand over his, but he snatched it away.
"He would have killed you, Seamus, if you'd given him the chance. I don't care what you say, I'm glad you didn't stop to think. Anyone would have done the same."
"Because I didn't have to. You're not the only one this happened to, you know. A lot of people did things they would never have done normally, things they weren't proud of. It was a war."
"But it's supposed to be over! Why can't I stop thinking about it?"
Lavender said nothing. She didn't need this. She had enough problems of her own. Panic attacks and nightmares, agoraphobia and insomnia. Potions for the pain, lotions for the scars, yet more potions to help her sleep...
"You need to talk to someone," she said finally.
"I thought that's what I was doing."
"No, I mean... a professional."
Seamus stiffened. "You mean like a shrink," he said flatly.
"No," she protested at once," But there must be someone who can help you. You can't be the only person going through this."
"I'm talking to you, aren't I? I can't talk to... a Healer or someone like that. What would I even say? Oh, yeah, I killed someone and I feel a bit bad about it, boo-hoo. They'll lock me up and throw away the key!"
"How do you know? You don't, do you? Maybe they've got a list of unsolved deaths or something. You've only got to read the Prophet; every day there are new things coming out, things that happened... they're still finding bodies, for Christ's sake! They're still holding inquests. This is going to go on for years. Maybe his family have been trying to find out what happened to him. Maybe he's got kids!"
He shook his head. "I can't talk to anyone else about this, Lavender. It's just... my problem to deal with, that's all."
She surveyed him for a few moments with a frown. "Have you told anyone else about this? Dean?"
A short laugh. "Hardly!"
"Why not? He's your best friend."
"He was. And then there was a war and we didn't see each other for more than two years, and... well, let's just say there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I don't particularly feel the need to tell him all my shit, and nor does he. He's gone back to what he knows, where he feels safe, and who can blame him? Our kind tried to kill him, remember?"
"But you didn't! You were his friend!"
"Like I said, was. People move on, Lavender." A wry smile. "Well... some people do."
"Well... what about your friends at home?"
"What friends? I haven't been home except for the holidays since I was eleven. I didn't go home at all for two years. They've all moved on, left school, got jobs, girlfriends, gone to college... They don't know anything about a war, or the wizarding world, and that's because I've been lying to them about it my entire life. You don't know because you're Pureblood, but when half your life's spent in the wizarding world and the other half in the Muggle one, you don't have any choice. It's like breathing after a while."
Anyway," he went on, "I'm not part of their lives anymore and they're not part of mine. That's just how it is. Why do you think I came all the way to fecking London for St Patrick's Night?"
Lavender was silent for a moment. She was starting to understand why Seamus came round so often, and it wasn't just because he fancied her. The thought was oddly disappointing.
"So I'm really the only person who knows?"
He nodded. "I might have said something to Ron earlier, but I don't know; we were both pretty drunk. He probably doesn't remember anything I said. Which is probably a good thing."
"Why? He's been through a lot of stuff too; he knows what you went through."
"No, he doesn't! He knows what he went through, him and Harry and Granger. He doesn't know what it was like for us. He doesn't know what it's still like for us. He doesn't have a fucking clue. You know, though, don't you?"
Lavender nodded soberly. "I know."
She stared down into her empty mug for a few moments. "Everyone looks at me differently now, when they can bear to look at me at all. I can see the horror in their eyes, and the pity too. Poor Lavender, all she had going for her was her looks, and now she hasn't even got that."
Seamus made a convulsive movement as though he wanted to interrupt, but he let her speak.
"I haven't left the house in ten weeks," she told him. "Ten weeks! How did that even happen? I get a panic attack if I even think about going out. The last time I tried I couldn't even open the front door. I sat on the floor in the hallway for seven hours before I could even move my legs."
"Shit," said Seamus, under his breath. "I knew it was bad, but..."
"People keep coming round, trying to cheer me up – sometimes I think they must have a rota – and most of the time I wish they'd just go away again and leave me alone."
"Sorry," he said, with a sheepish little half-grin.
"Not you. I don't mean you. I like your little late night visits. Apart from anything else, you've always got a load of new stories about what you've been up to. No-one else wants to talk to me about their lives. It's like they think they'll upset the patient or something. Everyone treats me like I might break at any minute; they walk on eggshells around me. "Oh, you don't want to hear about that!" But I do. I want to hear about normal things. I want to know there's still life out there."
Because there sure as hell isn't any in here, she finished in her head.
Seamus looked rather shell-shocked, and Lavender couldn't help be a little taken aback by the strength of her own feelings too. She hadn't meant to sound so bitter.
She shook her head. "Sometimes I forget and feel like the same person on the inside, but then I see the way people look at me and I know I'm not. I'm not."
Seamus gave a short bark of mirthless laughter. "It's the opposite for me. I probably look perfectly normal on the outside, and everyone thinks I'm the same person I've always been - good old Seamus, always good for a laugh - but inside everything's all black and twisted and fucked up."
They looked at each other. He saw the look of horror in her eyes and regretted it at once. What was the phrase again? Too much fucking information.
"Sorry," he said quickly. "You don't need this. You've got enough shit in your life without me adding to it. I'm fine, really. It's just the drink talking. I always get a bit depressed after the eighth or ninth pint."
He laughed, but Lavender didn't seem to find it funny.
"You shouldn't drink so much if it has that effect on you," she said reproachfully.
"Yeah, I know." He managed a weak laugh. "Sorry things got a bit deep there. It won't happen again, I promise."
"Don't be silly, what are friends for? I'm always here if you want to talk, Seamus. Mainly because I can't leave the house, but..."
They both laughed, rather shakily.
"Listen," he joked weakly, "It's supposed to be my job to cheer you up, not the other way around."
But he cut her off. "Ah, look, it's late, it's been a long night, we're both tired... Let's just go to bed. Not together, obviously. Although, if you wanted to, of course, I wouldn't exactly be complaining..."
Lavender couldn't help laughing, despite herself. "You never give up, do you?"
"Sorry," he grinned. "It just comes out. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now, wouldn't you? I should just give it up as a bad job."
She shook her head. "Don't give up, Seamus. That's one of the things I've always liked about you; your persistence. I mean, you've been trying to get in my knickers for how many years now?"
He laughed out loud. "A long time!"
"Well, exactly. Don't stop."
He raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Are you saying you might say yes?"
"No, I'm saying don't stop trying."
"But are you saying don't stop trying because you think you might one day give in and say yes?"
A thin smile. "I'm saying don't stop trying because it reminds me that I used to be attractive and popular and boys wanted to get me into bed."
"You're still -"
"Don't. I don't want to have that conversation. Not now."
"And I can guarantee that boys still want to get you into bed, too. This boy certainly does."
"Sorry." He tried to look apologetic. "You did say don't stop trying."
"I know, and I meant it, I just don't want to talk about... well, that other stuff."
Seamus contemplated the bottom of his mug for a minute. "Can I ask you something? You don't have to answer if you don't want to."
"Have you... I mean, has anyone got you into bed?"
She smiled sadly and shook her head.
"Well, that's a fucking waste," said Seamus vehemently. "Seriously, with a body like yours, you should be enjoying it."
She gave a short, disbelieving laugh. "A body like mine? Scarred and ugly?"
He started to protest again, but she cut him off.
"I told you; I don't want to talk about it. You know the rules. You can stay, but I don't want to have that conversation."
He nodded. "Listen, I'm not exactly a catch either. I'm unemployed, I've got no money, I drink too much and I live with me Mam."
She bit back a smile. "And despite all that, you seem to have no problem getting women to sleep with you."
"Yeah," he said gravely, "But not the one I really want."
They looked at each other.
"I never know when you're being serious," she told him.
He gave a small mirthless laugh. "Neither do I."
She laughed, and climbed to her feet with a sigh. "Go to bed, Seamus. You've had too much to drink and got maudlin, that's all. You'll be fine in the morning."
"Yeah," he said, "I'm sure you're right."
"Tell you what; there's a brand new bottle of Dreamless Sleep potion in the bathroom. Take some of that; it'll help. Sleep as long as you like, I won't wake you."
"Okay," he nodded gratefully. "Thanks."
"You'll be alright on the sofa?"
He nodded. "Yeah, we're old friends now."
She laughed. "You, me and the sofa!"
He managed a thin smile. "Is that an offer?"
"No," she said firmly, but still with a smile on her face. "You know where the sleeping bag is by now."
He laughed, and she patted him affectionately on the shoulder. "'Night, Seamus."
"You won't forget to put out the fire?"
It was almost noon when Lavender awoke. Pulling on a dressing gown over her pyjamas and stifling a yawn, she shuffled into the front room. She wondered briefly why there was a light still on, but turned it off and thought nothing more of it. She chuckled at the sight of Seamus, fast asleep on the sofa and almost completely encased in his bright blue sleeping bag, like a giant caterpillar. It was nice to have company for a change. Usually her visitors made their excuses and left as soon as they could.
Humming quietly to herself, she made breakfast, eating her toast in front of the telly with the sound off so she wouldn't wake him. She loved Muggle television and even though the reception was bad because there was so much magic around and she could only get two channels, she didn't mind. One of those house makeover shows was on; some stupid bitch in Salford pretending to be pleased that her bedroom now had shiny leopard-print wallpaper. Lavender laughed out loud. Served her right for thinking she could get her house redecorated for free. She glanced quickly at Seamus, but he was still stretched out on the sofa in his sleeping bag, dead to the world.
She read a Muggle magazine in the bath for an hour, filled in the quiz ("Which Sex and the City girl are you?"), and then got dressed. Jeans and a baggy jumper. She used to care about clothes, but what was the point when the only person who ever saw her in them was herself? Besides, the last thing she wanted was to draw people's attention. She never left the house without the hood up on her robes anymore, and even that was no guarantee. The last time was New Year, when a small boy had screamed his head off at the sight of her. She hadn't been out since.
She had a bit of a tidy-up, got distracted by another magazine article ("Twins Separated at Birth - But Then We Fell In Love"), picked up the empty potions bottle from the floor beside the sofa and threw it in the kitchen bin, and was midway through washing up the cups from last night when a thought stopped her dead in her tracks.
It was a new bottle.
But... that didn't mean he'd actually drunk the whole bottle. Maybe... maybe he just knocked it over and didn't notice.
And even if he had drunk the whole bottle, that didn't mean he'd done it on purpose. He was probably still a little half-cut – it was St Patrick's Night after all - and hadn't realised how much he was taking. Although he hadn't seemed drunk. Probably the most sober she'd seen him in a long time, in fact, especially as he usually came straight from the pub after chucking-out time, telling her with a grin and a shrug that he'd "missed the last Floo again".
Anyway, surely no-one could actually die from drinking a whole bottle of Dreamless Sleep potion? Surely you'd just sleep for a couple of days? Wouldn't you? If only she'd paid more attention in Potions lessons!
She looked down at the empty bottle she was still gripping in her hand and turned it around slowly to read the label, fighting to keep down the growing fear in the pit of her stomach.
This bottle contains 15 adult doses. Do not consume more than 3 doses in any 24 hour period. 1 spoonful = 1 child dose. 2 spoonfuls = 1 adult dose. Do not give to children under the age of 5. Always use the spoon provided. Do not mix with alcohol or any other potions. If you have consumed more than the recommended number of doses or feel unwell, please consult a Healer immediately.
She swayed on the spot and felt the familiar flutter that signalled the start of a panic attack. No. She must not give in to it. Not now. Not now.
"Seamus...?" she called tentatively.
She tried again, a little louder. "Seamus! Do you want a cup of tea?"
A trick her Healer at St Mungo's had taught her: pretend everything is normal and everything will be normal. Swallow down the panic, don't let it overwhelm you. Everything is normal. Everything is fine. You are quite calm.
I am quite calm, she told herself, but the wild thumping of her heart proved otherwise.
She did not know how she managed to walk the few paces from the kitchen to the front room, only that the next moment she was leaning over the sofa shaking him roughly and shouting his name.
The blue caterpillar on the sofa did not stir.
Now what? She should check for a pulse. That was you did, wasn't it? Except that his hands were hidden in the depths of the sleeping bag, and the zip was underneath his body – no, not his body!
A mirror, then. But there were no mirrors in her flat, not a single one. She didn't even have a make-up mirror, something which only a year ago would have been unimaginable. Why on earth would she want to look at her face?
"I don't know what to do!" she wailed, "Tell me what to do!"
She leant over him and pressed a shaking hand to his forehead. His skin was warm and now that she was up close she could see from the gentle rise and fall of the sleeping bag that he was still breathing. "Oh, thank Merlin!" she thought, almost laughing with relief, "He's alright!"
Except... well, except that he wasn't alright, was he? He had drunk a whole bottle of Dreamless Sleep potion. Fifteen adult doses. It might just mean that he slept for twenty-four hours and woke up tomorrow with a terrible headache, but it might not. She couldn't just sit here watching telly all evening with him lying there, five feet away, in that ridiculous blue cocoon. What if he didn't wake up? What if he never woke up?
She looked around wildly, grabbed his wand which was sticking out from his shoe a few feet away on the floor and tried Ennervate several times, but to no avail.
"Wake up," she sobbed. "Wake up, you stupid, stupid bastard!"
She ran into the kitchen, filled a glass with cold water, ran back into the front room and hurled the water into his face, a small scream escaping from her throat as she did so.
Nothing happened, except that now he was not just unconscious, he was wet too.
"If you wake up," she told him desperately, "I'll have sex with you!"
"I'm already naked!"
Well, if that wasn't going to wake him up, she thought ironically, nothing was.
The thought sobered her up instantly. Nothing she said or did was going to make a difference. So what the hell was she supposed to do now?
If only she'd got herself an owl, like everyone said she should. But she'd never liked owls - nasty smelly little things with sharp beaks – and besides, she lived off Diagon Alley, it was easy enough to go to the Post Office if she needed to send a letter. She had never bothered to get the flat connected to the Floo Network either. She didn't like the idea of people dropping in unannounced. What was wrong with the front door, anyway? At least then she had the choice not to answer it. Yes, she had cut herself off from everyone very successfully over the last eight months. Too successfully, as it turned out. Because now she needed help and there was only one way to get it.
She was going to have to go outside.
She slumped backwards into a chair and let out a strangled sob.
"Oh, my god, Seamus. What have you done?"
Dun dun DUN. Why, yes, that is a particularly evil cliff hanger! (twirls cape dramatically) Don't worry, Chapter Two is coming soon.
I know that HP is a children's series, but it always bothered me that you see a lot of deaths in Deathly Hallows, but no killings. There are bodies of Death Eaters lying in the Great Hall at the end, so somebody must have killed them, and some of those people must have been Harry's former schoolmates. What happens to someone when they become a killer at that age? How do they cope? How do they move on? Teenage soldiers have fought and killed in wars for centuries, but these are civilians. Kids, basically. Do they really just get the jobs they always wanted, get married to their childhood sweethearts, have kids of their own and live happily ever after?
I was also interested in the themes of visible versus mental scars, as first explored in Biscuits, and how people like Seamus cope when they're torn between two different worlds.
Finally, any parallels between the first few chapters of Faultlines and the first few chapters of this story are entirely deliberate.
Thanks for reading, hope you liked it, and please let me know what you thought, cheers!