She couldn’t stop shaking. Her hands, her breath, her soul… they were all shaking uncontrollably. She sat at the edge of her bed, her mind unwilling to focus on anything other than the shrill pain that echoed through her for the last three and a half days.
They’d taken her out of Herbology. She’d been sharing a joke with Susan, when McGonagall came in and she had been asked to escort the Transfiguration Professor to her office.
In front of all those people, Hannah had followed suit, cheeks flaming red, trying to think why the Deputy Headmistress would want to see her. She wasn’t taking Transfiguration anymore, and she hadn’t been able to think of any wrong-doing she’d done since the year before with the D.A.
She remembered that long walk up to McGonagall’s office with immense clarity. The way their footsteps had clicked and echoed in the stone corridors. How the paintings that lined the corridors had stared, their eyes following her and fingers pointing as they’d whispered to neighbouring frames. And she certainly remembered the sharp cold she’d been doused in when she’d accidentally walked through the Grey Lady.
When she’d sat down in front of the strict professor’s big, wooden desk, she glanced at McGonagall, only to find her eyes filled with what she’d thought to be disappointment; much later, Hannah conceded the look had, instead, been of pity.
McGonagall had opened her mouth with difficulty, and Hannah’s eyebrows had shot together, her heart racing as she’d tried to think of what she could have done wrong to make her old Transfiguration professor so flabbergasted.
“Miss Abbott…” she’d said at last. “Hannah, this morning, several Aurors answered a call of duty. When they got to the site… your house… they found the Dark Mark floating above. Inside, they found the body… the body of your mother.”
Her stomach had dropped out of her body. How could she have heard correctly, and the only word to work its way to her lips had been, “What?”
After that, her memories of the day were a bit blurred. Madam Sprout had hugged her at some point. Her father had shown up, and she’d left Hogwarts with him without saying so much as a word to her closest of friends.
They’d been halfway to her father’s house when she had gone a bit mad. She begged her father to let her see her mother--to see her face again, to hug her and kiss her so that she’d wake up to find it had all been a dream.
Hannah lifted a shaking hand to her shaking throat. She still couldn’t talk properly from all the screaming she’d done.
Her hand felt cold against her neck, but it felt good. She rubbed her skin, just below the jawbone, trying to sooth out the ache. Maybe if she focused on healing the physical, the rest would follow shortly after.
It hadn’t worked yet, though.
It made her wonder if perhaps she was going mad--really, truly insane. Repeating the same actions, expecting different outcomes. Rummaging through her mother’s things--her clothes, jewellery, papers--desperate to find something to hint that this wasn’t happening. She kept going back into her parents’ bedroom, searching for something that wasn’t there. It was taking so much strength to keep herself from running there now.
Hannah turned her head sharply to stare at the door, holding her breath slightly. She heard footsteps. In all likeliness, it was one of their guests, come to their house to show their sympathy and offer their support. However, every creak the house made put Hannah on edge now. She was terrified that the ones who’d hurt her mother would come back.
Slowly, she stood up and started making her way to the door. The footsteps had stopped, but she needed to look. She rested the palm of her hand against the wall, pulling the door open just slightly with her other hand. She peered out through the slim opening of the door; the hall was empty and the bathroom door was closed, though it was open when she’d fled the wake for the safety of her room.
It was a guest, it must be. Exhaling, Hannah tried to laugh at herself, but her attempted smile twisted and it all came out as more of a whimper than anything else.
Closing the door, Hannah rested her head against the sharp corner of the door’s frame. She knew she should go back down; her father was expecting her to be there. The people down there, the people she didn’t know, were all expecting her down there.
Closing her eyes, she grabbed at the folds of her dress, pulling her hand into a tight fist. It was her mother’s dress. Hannah didn’t have anything appropriate to wear to her mother’s funeral, so she ended up wearing something from her mum’s closet. It smelled clean, with a hint of the lavender of her mum’s potpourri. It felt like her mum.
Hannah hugged her stomach and tried to control her breathing. It was her mum, and it made Hannah feel so alone. So alone, and she was scared that she couldn’t go on, couldn’t function, without her mum there.
It was the most terrified she’d ever felt.
She didn’t want this, and to be downstairs with all the people trying to show how sorry they were would make it all too real.
So, she hid.
She hid, with her face pressed roughly against the doorframe, an arm braced around her middle, wearing her dead mother’s dress.
No longer able to hold back her sobs, she gasped and wheezed, her breath hitting the hard wall just in front of her. Her eyes were shut tight, wetness pooling at the corners before making their way down her cheeks, catching at her nose and mouth. She tasted their unpleasant saltiness, but she couldn’t think to wipe the tears away.
She was shaking worse than ever.
Completely lost to the world, Hannah let herself fall into her tears. That’s all there was to her just then; her tears and her mum’s dress. There was no funeral, nobody downstairs, no Hogwarts, no footsteps coming quickly down the hall that stopped just in front of Hannah’s door.
So lost to her emotions, it took her several moments before she realised there was a tapping on her door, or that someone was whispering her name.
When she did realise there was someone just on the opposite side of the door, she snapped to attention. Her breathing laboured, her nose and eyes running, Hannah stared at the door as the voice behind it continued to call to her.
“Hannah?” The voice seemed very familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Her mind felt fuzzy, and it didn’t really seem as though any of this was happening anymore.
“Hannah?” the voice called again. “I’m going to open the door, all right?”
In response, she reached out and turned the doorknob, pulling it open herself to stare at the face in the hall.
Suddenly, the voice had an owner, and Hannah felt a bit daft for not recognizing it before.
“Ernie?” she whispered, her own voice sounding strange to her, as though it had been through a meat grinder.
He nodded, looking both nervous and concerned, as though he thought she might have just lost her mind.
Before anything else could be said between them, Hannah took a few steps forward and threw her arms around him. An odd feeling of comfort ran through her. It was good to see someone she knew… someone who was a good friend.
Ernie’s arms wrapped around her hesitantly. “I’m sorry,” he whispered into her ear. “I’m so sorry.”
Nodding, Hannah tightened her grip on her friend.
“Susan’s on her way, too. Justin’s trying to, as well.”
She nodded again, grateful for her friends. A burst of love and sadness swept over her. Suddenly, she didn’t feel quite as alone.
A/N: Many thanks to Katieay for the beta and title suggestion! *hugs*