A/N This is sort of a bunch of little collective things about Hazel's life after Augustus. Picks up right after TFIOS ends. If you like it, I have three other TFIOS fanfics that you should check out :) Reviews are greatly appreciated!
disclaimer- John Green's brilliance level is like a bajjilion. I'm clearly not him, so I don't own the rights to The Fault In Our Stars.
Augustus died thinking that he got his wish, but he didn't. He didn't leave a scar; He left a jagged, twisted, awful wound branded across my being. He has ripped me in two and left me alone to heal. Only, the universe hasn't granted me enough time to heal, enough time to form a scar. I will die broken. I will die with the aftermath of a tragic love story written all over me, I will die without a scar. Scars imply healing. I can never heal, I will never heal.
And knowing this makes me feel almost as if I've betrayed him. Even if he had left a scar, the scar will die with me. Everything Augustus wanted won't have been achieved. And in any way I can, I want to grant him his wish. I want to give Augustus one final gift. I want to wrap him up and hold him close to me to protect him from the thing he feared most. I want to save him from oblivion.
I sit up in bed, where I've been dutifully fighting cancer and stretch over to grab my laptop off the nightstand. I pull it onto my lap, clicking it open and running my fingers along the mousepad to wake it up. "Hot." I say of the laptops base, even though Augustus isn't here to respond this time.
I begin to type, my fingers flying across the cold keyboard with an intensity that I haven't experienced in a long time. I don't edit as I go, but just write. I have a very nuanced story to tell of a very nuanced person, and unfortunately, not a lot of time to tell it.
I start on the day that I met Augustus Waters, because that's the day my life truly began.
The next day I print the story off and slip the papers into one of those extra large ziplock bags. I would have preferred that it were hand written, but alas, as I have said, I live in an ocean, and it's only a matter of time before I begin to drown.
I drive to Crown Hill Cemetery and drag my oxygen tank to his grave. The dirt is still new, a reminder of the rawness of my pain. The memories of our infinity are still fresh in my mind, but at the same time, they feel a thousand years away.
His headstone is finally here. It's grey marble, one of those sort of boxy ones with the slab of uncut granite for the base. A probable gravestone for an entirely improbable person. It reads:
A dearly beloved son, a lover,
And a friend to all.
You won't be forgotten.
We love you.
I snort. You won't be forgotten. What an incorrect notion. We will all be forgotten. People who aren't dying tend to have a mentality that they're invincible, that the finiteness of life won't claim them as it has claimed all before. It will. Yet, as this thought floats through my mind, I hold pages that I wrote myself in hopes of helping Augustus escape oblivion.
Beneath Augustus's epitaph are his dates of life. They only stretch seventeen years. There is a cross engraved in the stone above the words. I focus my eyes on the very center of the cross, where The Literal Heart Of Jesus would be, where I met Augustus. I sigh.
I sink to my knees, setting the thick stack of papers to my side. I never read them, it would be too painful, and now I never will. I sink my hands into the fresh dirt above the grave and take a handful away. I continue to do this until I've dug a shallow hole. Not big enough to make a difference, but just big enough to lay the bag in and cover up again.
The rain may wash the soil away, but that doesn't matter. Perhaps someone will find the papers and read them. They won't know who we are, they'll just know the story scrawled across the pages. Perhaps they'll tell the story to someone else, who'll share it with yet another person.
And maybe, just maybe, they'll save Augustus from oblivion.
In October, after my PET scan, during the cancer team meeting in the conference room, it isn't Dr. Maria who tells me that I have borrowed enough time, but instead it's the sound of my father's voice break. It's a deep, anguished cry, as if he had actually believed that I might grow into adulthood, and that dream was just now being crushed.
I stare up at the ceiling and grit my teeth as I have done so many times before.
They tell me that I have roughly four months to drown. Just past the new year.
Two months later, in December, when I've become too weak to do anything but sit in bed, my parents move my bed into the living room.
I sit tethered to my BiPAP, in a tangle of sheets, and focus my eyes on the Christmas Tree. My parents always put too many lights on, and the branches sort of sag around the weight of the little bulbs. They always put my childhood ornaments at the bottom, where the little blobs of glitter hang precariously from the drooping branches. The little glass Santas and angels go at the top on the thinner branches, just beneath the star. It's all very pretty in a strange way, like out of all the things in the world, it isn't beautiful at all, but it holds a strange little sentimental place in my heart.
I spend a lot of time in that position, sitting up in bed (with the help of a brigade of pillows, of course) staring at the Christmas tree with the soundtrack of old Christmas songs playing in the background. On Christmas day my entire family, some of whom I haven't seen since I was very young, pile into my living room. They all want to see the Hazel Grace show while it's still in town, just like when Augustus was dying.
I open presents from my bed. I exclaim over each present and how thoughtful it was, and how it's so wonderfully nice, and I really do appreciate it everything, but it all feels so forced. I'm never going to use any of these presents. And I know that I'm just a side effect, and I know that the cancer that I'm fighting is just a part of me, and I know that I should be grateful for the time I've had and the time I have left, but all I want to do is cry.
I try to be brave, and I try to accept the things I cannot change, but I don't want to die. I want to live and I want time to use these presents, time that I know I'll never be granted. I don't want to say goodbye to such a wonderful thing as consciousness, but I know that I have to. And I know that I have to try to enjoy it all now, because I won't ever have the chance again, and while I know all of these things, everything wonderful I feel is tainted with a deep sadness. Everything wonderful is just another goodbye to say, just another thing I'll never experience again. I can't be happy without remembering all the reasons I have to be sad.
It's a truly wonderful life. I don't want to say goodbye.
A couple of days after Christmas I have my mother drive my to the Literal Heart Of Jesus. She waits in the parking lot as I slowly, very slowly, make my way to the elevator. I ride the creaky thing to the basement, where Isaac is already waiting. When I see him standing at the little wooden lectern, staring just a bit too far to the left, I have to take a deep breath to keep my composure in tact. Last time I gave a eulogy. This time the eulogy is in my honor.
I shuffle over to the molded plastic chair and grip the top to gracelessly sit. There is one empty chair beside me.
"Hazel." Isaac says.
"Isaac." I say.
"I have prepared a eulogy."
"I assumed that much."
Isaac clears his throat. "When I was thinking about what I was going to say in this eulogy, I couldn't really think of much. I would like to talk about how wonderful Hazel was, what A Joy To The World she was, how she was always So Brave, and how she was So Funny, but you've all heard it before. We all know how wonderful Hazel was. That's why this is all so….." Isaac grips the edge of the lectern, taking in a sharp breath. "That's why when I was thinking about what to say, I just got angry. I mean, Hazel's middle name is Grace. Do you know what Grace means? It means 'in God's favor.' Well I think that's pretty god damn fucked up." Isaac continues.
"Don't curse in the Literal Heart Of Jesus!" I say. I'm sort of beginning to cry.
Isaac ignores me. "If this is how God treats people in his favor, then we're all screwed. He took Gus away from her. And now He's going to take her from us. So you know what?" Isaac pauses. "Screw you, God. Screw. You." He suddenly shouts, pumping his hand in the air, flicking off the world. He lets out a deep breath, hunching over the podium as if he's broken. "I'm beginning to think that Satan and God are the same person." He whispers.
I clutch at the chair as I stand up. I hobble over to him and wrap my arms around his shoulders. I sort of fall into him, because standing is sort of difficult, and he supports me by wrapping his arms back around me. He rests his chin on my shoulder, and I hold him tighter, because he's shaking, and we're both crying, and it hurts.
"I've had it." Isaac whispers shakily. "Don't die, don't die on me. Just don't die, Hazel." He says, his voice pleading and weak.
"I'll be okay." I whisper, more to myself than to him.
"You're going to die." He cries. I appreciate his brashness. People are always walking on eggshells around me, but not him. I know I'm going to die. Everyone else knows I'm going to die. I appreciate that he acknowledges it.
"I never said I wasn't." I reply. My tears begin to roll more rapidly.
"I'm going to miss you." He says.
"I'm not gone yet." I whisper. I suddenly jerk out of Isaac's arms, haunted by the premonition that this is the last time I will ever see him.
The first thing I see when I wake up on January second is white. My head is angled towards a window facing the back yard, and just beyond the frosty glass, is a world blanketed in white snow. It's beautiful, contrary to the grey that seems to hover in the living room. Outside the cloudiness is barely noticed against the white, but inside the lack of sunshine makes everything feel forlorn. I suddenly feel very cold.
"Mom." I say weakly.
With her magic bat ears, she hears me and rushes in from the living room. "Sweetie." She says softly, sitting on the edge of my bed.
"Mom, it hurts." I murmur. I stroke little circles around in Bluie's fur, feeling very young.
"I know honey, I know." My mother nods, reaching for the pain pump.
"No." I stop her.
She raises her eyebrows at me and I weakly shake my head. I know that I'm going, I can feel it, and I don't want to go under a haze of drugs. She drops the pain pump. "Mom." I whine. I don't know how she understands what I want, but somehow she does. She slides into the bed beside me, wrapping her arms around my shoulders. My head fits just beneath her chin in the crook of her neck. She strokes my hair soothingly.
"It's okay. It'll all be okay." She croons. Her smooth fingers run along my forehead as she pushes my hair back.
"I love you." I sigh. My voice is but a faint whisper, my lips barely moving as I speak. I feel so very tired.
"I know honey, I love you too. I love you so much." She says softly.
"I'm so sorry." I whisper. I'm sorry that I'm a grenade, and I'm sorry that I'm about to detonate.
"Don't apologize, honey. Don't apologize." She says, her pain evident in her voice.
"It hurts." I repeat. It really does. Every part of me hurts.
"It's okay. If it's time, just let go. We love you, Hazel." She whispers, continuing to stroke my hair.
I can feel one lone tear roll out of the corner of my eye and run smoothly down my cheek. "But I don't want to go." I murmur. I want the pain to stop. I want to stop fighting. But I don't want to go.
It's truly a wonderful