June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Dr. Leah Webb stood, dressed in her finest black attire, among ten others who were also dressed for mourning before the grave of her late husband. Due to Hans’ profession and position in life, she wasn’t acquainted with many of these serious faced people. In fact, the only three people she knew in the party were the man on her left, who was her husband’s partner and good friend, her husband’s cousin, Sofia, and her daughter, Alandra.
Hans bought this plot of land when they got married and had requested to be buried in… what was it they called those who weren’t like them? Muggle soil. Muggle. Non-magical. Leah didn’t like being the only non-magical one here. Even her daughter seemed to be somewhat familiar with the others. Leah didn’t even know the man who spoke kind words about how her husband was a spectacular Auror (which she assumed was like a cop of some sort), how he brought about the capture of this dark wizard or that lunatic or whatever.
She didn’t particularly care what they said. Hans’ career was not who Hans was. Hans was grave. Hans was handsome. Hans was wise. Hans could be surprisingly kind. Hans took care of her. Hans watched over Alandra, even when their daughter didn’t know it. Hans was everything she wasn’t. They were an odd couple, she knew. So odd that even Alandra doubted their love. Her husband was not often affectionate, but affection was nothing compared to the mutual respect in their relationship. Leah loved that they always seemed to be on the same page, different as they were. They were each other’s rocks. Without him here, she felt totally lost, unbalanced.
Soon, the speaker finished speaking and the coffin was lowered into the ground. Her husband is dead. Leah wished she were too.
“… Don’t tell me you’re still in England,” Leah said dryly.
“I am,” replied the other voice on the phone. Sometimes, Leah was struck by how much Alandra resembled Hans. Oh, her daughter took after her in looks, but most of Alandra’s countenance was scarily reminiscent of her late husband. She was just as serious, just as direct. And they both spoke so eloquently.
“Why are you still in England?” Leah asked. “Is there not a war going on?”
“I am still arranging some of father’s affairs.”
“Surely, you could hire someone to take care of that for you. I was under the impression that your father left a sizeable amount of gold in that bank of his?”
“Mother, I’m going to stay in London if I like. I can’t just leave. I love London.”
Leah closed her eyes. She was reminded of a time thirty years ago when a handsome man from Germany with piercing blue eyes whisked her into his arms and told her those three words. I love London.
I love you.
“Don’t tell me you’re staying for a man, Alandra.”
Her daughter did not reply, but she didn’t need to. Leah heard some shuffling in the background and the sound of a deep male voice calling her daughter’s name.
“What about that job you had in Finland?” Leah asked, raising an eyebrow to form a shrewd expression often reserved for bureaucratic purposes.
“It’s still there. I haven’t quite figured everything out yet, you see. But I’ve got another job here too and I’m doing alright.”
Leah sighed, smiling sadly in spite of herself. So like Hans, she thought. “Do what you have to do, I suppose. Just… don’t put yourself in danger.”
“I won’t. I-I love you.”
They spoke intimately as mother and daughter so rarely. Leah registered it with a bit of shock. From the terse intake of breath on the other end of the line, she could tell her daughter was surprised too.
“Love you too, Alandra.”
Leah was never the one to call.
There were two reasons for that. One was that she couldn’t be bothered to count the difference in the hours between London time and Guelph time. The other reason was that she didn’t know the number to call because she didn’t know where Alandra was living (or rather, she suspected she knew where her daughter was living and she didn’t know the number to there either). So Alandra is the one to call.
Leah comes home, deposits her keys and her bag at the doorway and heads into the kitchen with the mail. Water bill… Hydro bill… Phone call.
She leaves the envelopes on the counter and heads into the living room with the cordless phone.
“Hello?” she says into the receiver.
“Mother, it’s Alandra.”
It has been roughly three weeks since their last conversation.
“Is everything all right, dear?”
A pause. A long pause. Not good.
“Are you all right, Alandra?”
Another long pause.
“How are – ”
“Will you tell me about you and dad?”
Leah freezes. She doesn’t bother asking why Alandra wants to know this now. There was trouble brewing, perhaps, between her daughter and the mysterious lover lurking about. Leah was still grieving and she still dreamed of Hans. Hans was everywhere, even here all the way across the Atlantic. [i]No. No. I’m not ready.[/i] But there’s no such thing as being ready. She’s seen enough of her patients’ families grapple with grief and death to know that there is never a right time. There’s only now.
So Leah sits on the couch, puts her feet up and begins the story. She tells her daughter about medical school. She tells of the coffee shop, of how Hans liked his coffee black, how she approached the man after much intrigue, how she coerced him into finally dating her. She recounts her pregnancy and recalls, with a smile, the small white wedding in Derbyshire and then moving into their townhouse in Islington.
“… He was a good man. He was quiet, and his eyes were sometimes sad, but he was a very good man. And he loved me and he loved you very much.”
Leah pretends not to hear the very audible swallow from the other line.
“Thank you,” said Alandra.
And then they said their goodbyes before hanging up.
“Is it serious?”
“I love him.”
“Does he love you?”
It’s the first time she hears her daughter laugh in a long time.
“So what’s the matter?”
“Things are a little complicated right now. A friend of ours died.”
“You are in the middle of a war.”
“And so are you.”
“I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”
“His agent wants him to do a movie in Korea.”
“Well, you have a career waiting in Helsinki.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Did you not tell him?”
“I never got around to it. He doesn’t even know why I’m here in the first place. I hadn’t planned on staying more than three months, you know.”
“You know what I think.”
“I know what you think.”
“So when am I going to meet this man?”
“You already have.”
“Summer holidays the year I turned sixteen.”
“The one you ran off with?”
“You make it sound like we were lovers.”
“Right. What’s his name?”
“Are you staying in Guelph?”
“Oh, I suppose so. It is a lovely city.”
“I’m staying in England.”
“Of course you are.”
“But you’ll come to the wedding?”
“You don’t even have to ask.”