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Sheer Dumb Luck by Hourglass nomineeReview TeamPaid AccountWiki StaffThe Owl Post StaffHourglass winnerScrivenshaft WinnerWinglessFlight

Rating: PG-13. Created: January 10th, 2008. Updated: January 10th, 2008. Read Reviews (5)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once."

- William Shakespeare

 

Like the opal necklace around her neck, the cauldron shines like a jewel, a sheen of almost creamy richness, emanating swirls of smoke that spiralled around her as if melding her with the potion. She inhales slowly, savouring the smells of his horse as it cantered past, smells of the fields when she ran through them to collect ingredients, smells of the lake behind the village where she could feel water caress her skin and no one would know, could know. Smells of freedom.

 

She stirs slowly, smoothly, watching with gleaming eyes as the mixture coheres into a smooth broth, as smooth as a corpse’s waxen smile. Reaching for the blade lying on the table, she pricks her finger and allows jewels of blood to well up and drip-drip-drip into the brew. She can almost feel the magic flowing between her body and the cauldron.

 

Hearing the clip-clop of hooves, she smiles. It is time.

 

As she pours the concoction into the barrel, which, she knows, contains after-dinner rum that no one else may touch but he, she cannot help but congratulate herself on her ingenuity. Her daring. Her skill. Her bravery. She cannot help but know, deep with herself, that there’s more to her than anyone might have imagined.

 

And it makes her laugh.

 

The next morning he’s at her door – kissing her – Merope, Merope, Merope, my beauty – begging her – wishing her – Come with me, my darling – taking her hand – pulling her wrist – Run away with me – needing her – wanting her – possessing her.

 

And it makes her laugh, just slightly, just quietly.

 

Before she leaves she places a short note on the kitchen table, for her father and her brother. It is short but venomous, a mere six lines of poison, as she taunts them, laughs at them, she shows them what they were blind to see. She teaches them what they did not want to believe and it makes her laugh, hard and full and rich.

 

She laughs every morning, when she slips her elixir into his tea, laughs every evening as he slips his arms around her naked waist, laughs every night as she feels his soft breathing beside her.

 

She laughs when he calls her darling, and when he tells her that he can’t imagine a life without her. She laughs hardest when he tells her that he’ll never stop loving her, laughs hardest because she’s sure it’s true.

 

She laughs because she's living on borrowed time.

 

She laughs because it doesn’t mean a damn thing.

 

She laughs because finally, twenty years too late, she can.

 

She congratulates herself, as a genius, daring, skilled and oh-so-brave.

 

But she feels the swelling in her belly, and the laughter begins to die on her lips.

 

She can feel the gentle slide of movement, the hum of a heartbeat, the slick pump of tiny blood, and laughter turns to terror. Now that there’s a third person, a little set of limbs, a little heart and little lungs, a little human being, dependent on the potion like she is on Tom, it’s not funny anymore.

 

She tries to laugh when he kisses her belly and talks of the hundreds of years they’ll spend together, you, me and baby Cecilia.

 

Why Cecilia? she asks, one day, trying to laugh, trying to laugh.

 

He frowns and cocks his head and laughs slightly. I don’t know, he tells her, I don’t remember. And she laughs and laughs, because she’s a genius of daring and skill and bravery.

 

But there are evenings, and there are mornings, and there are cups of tea, and there are hours spent brewing. And there is her body, growing, growing, growing, her bravery and daring swelling.

 

One morning she wakes and knows there isn’t much time left. She’s laughing that morning, as she Vanishes the rest of the potion. Laughing at everything she is and was. Laughing at a vindictive letters on kitchen tables, laughing at streams and rivers of mother-of-pearl potion. Laughing at everything that doesn’t matter, should have mattered, nearly mattered.

 

And she walks out of the door, trying to leave as quickly as she can with seven and a half pounds of sheer daring (sheer dumb luck) laying heavy inside of her.

 

Begging for a handful of gold in return for her only connection to her past, she is not laughing, she is not daring, she is not brave.

Stumbling to the only house where the lamps are not yet darkened, she is not laughing, she is not daring, she is not brave.

 

Holding the child is like holding her own daring, and she gives it to the crooked-toothed woman whose breath smells like gin when she laughs.

 

Gasping for breath, the coppery taste of blood on her lips, it is all she can do to murmur Tom, his father; Marvolo, my father; Riddle, my Riddle, he was always Tom Riddle to me.

 

And, somehow, crazy as it sounds, she doesn’t feel so brave as she dies.

 

(Again.)

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