Chapter 17: Pain

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CHARLOTTE knew what pain felt like, what the pain of losing someone felt like. The War had taken a lot out of her, and the pain for JJ was still ever so present. As they say, it doesn't stop hurting, but you learn how to live with it. However, Charlotte at this moment wasn't thinking of the darkness but only the light. She is content and happy.

She smiled to herself, a warm feeling spreading through her body. Charlie grabbed his tattered and burnt pants from the wardrobe, her eyes following his every move. It was early in the morning, and the couple had just woken up from a long and relaxing Sunday evening sleep. The sun was barely peeking through the curtains, creating a haze in the room and it still felt way too early for normal people to be awake.

Charlie, however, was far from normal and relished the opportunity to get someone on one time with the dragons before the rest of the keepers joined for the start of the workday. Charlotte still hadn't joined the keep, as the Hippogriff sanctuary had still not gotten back with her reference, to the Sanctuary. She was frustrated, all aware that doing nothing was driving her crazy.

'Charlie.." Her voice was soft, a slight croak coming through, from sleep.

"Yes, love?" He turned towards her, pulling on his shirt over his head.

"Have you heard from-," She was interrupted by Charlie's irritated sigh.

"No, nothing." His answer was curt.

"You don't have to be so angry with me. You know it's been driving me mental living here." A hurt look flashed over Charlie's face at her words. She noticed and rolled her eyes.

"You know what I mean. You don't have to stay in this house. You get to work with the animals and all I do is cook and clean. I am not some trophy wife!" Her complaints finally pushed him over the edge.

"Charlotte, please just stop. You knew that coming here wasn't going to be easy. You walked into this with open eyes and I did tell you getting a job here is going to take some time. Just be patient. Now, I'm done trying to make this better for you, when you can't help yourself. I'm going to work."

He turned away, his eyes flashing and his body language tense. And then he spun around, a finger raised towards her.

"And I know you're not a trophy wife and never thought you were. So, stop acting like one!"

His anger made her recoil into the cushions, a flash of fear racing through her body. Her body became locked up, her heart raced a mile a minute and her breathing became shallow. The small but toxic pit of darkness in her stomach was starting to consume her.

This all happened in a few seconds and by the time her panic attack fully took hold of her, Charlie had stormed out, not noticing the reaction. The pit started to recede as she worked to get her breathing under control. She shivered, the duvet tight around her.

The door slammed shut, with a big "Bang!" and Charlotte felt her panic attack ebb away.

"You're okay, you're okay." Charlotte rubbed her arms, bringing some warmth and feeling into them.

Ever since her run-in with Rainir, she had been suffering from severe PTSD. She chose to get treatment with muggle therapists, as the wizarding community didn't think that the disorder's, like PTSD, was a real thing. She had ignored it too at first, but after having a severe panic attack at a dinner with Jayden and Leah, they pushed her to find something that helped. Of course, they assumed it was because of the war, but she knew it was for more than that.

At first, she went to St Mungo's, but they only wanted to commit her and she was sane enough to know that, that was not going to help anything. So, she refused treatment and found herself staring at a muggle advertisement for a therapist on the underground a few days later. After that, she found a telephone and started to make some calls. It had been two years since she started her therapy sessions, and she could never see herself going back to before.

Charlotte rubbed her face, already exhausted but pushed herself out of bed.

Charlie had a point, she couldn't continue complaining and not do anything to make it better. She had to take things into her own hands and being lazy and frustrated wouldn't help anyone do anything.

She climbed out of bed, stretching her body. She looked at her body in its summer pyjama set and sighed in frustration. She had actually picked up some weight from being inactive the last few months and she could really see it, in the fit of her shorts and shirt around her arms. She rolled her shoulders and squared herself. She was going to go for a jog and try to do it every day.

Charlotte strolled into the kitchen, feeling the exhaustion from her panic attack and from the fight with Charlie.

Something didn't feel right, something felt off.

She fell into her racing thoughts, her instincts were always right. She hadn't felt good or right in her body for a few days now. While these thoughts raced through her mind, she was not noticing where her feet were taking her.

Suddenly, with a start, Charlotte found herself at the kitchen sink, staring out of the window.

No wonder she felt uneasy.

On the horizon there were big, angry, grey clouds rolling in, the flashes of lightning in the distance making the hair on her arms stand up. Ever since JJ passed away, she avoided and cowered away from storms.

Her ever-present grief for her brother slowly rolled through her, as he trickled into her mind. She lost herself in her memories of him, not knowing tears were rolling down her face.

She so rarely allowed herself to think about him, think about how her memories were slowly fading as she got older. It made the pain even harder for her. She so wished she could afford or even find a pensive, to restore and keep their memories pure, forever.

Before she could even move, a huge, tawny owl flew right into her face, making her shriek in surprise. He was holding a letter in his claws, but they were both stretched out towards her face. The owl's angry hoots made her lower her arms from her face, where she was feeling for any scratches. The look in the owls face made her quickly but gently extract the small letter from his leg.

"Accio owl treats,' Charlotte muttered.

Within a few seconds, the owl had its share of treats and exited her small cottage. With a sigh, Charlotte unravelled the letter and her eyes flew rapidly over the words on the page.

C,

J in hospital, because of R. L alone but okay.

Will keep an eye on them, stay there!

H.

The weight of his words made her body sink to the ground, and recoil into itself like a spring. Charlotte felt like she couldn't move as her grief for JJ from earlier and the torture and frustration of being helpless overwhelmed her. She held her head in her hands, feeling the cold from the tiles sink into her bones. A numbness spread over her body, as she sat there for hours, not noticing the sun moving in and out of the clouds. Eventually, the sun had disappeared, and she was still sitting and despairing in the darkness.

Charlotte was alone, so very helpless and frustrated and sinking into an abyss she did not know how to get out of.

That is how Charlie found her.

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