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by: Lucy Winslow
#16260
2 June 2012
12:00 p.m.

Forward, to the right, back diagonally, step back, repeat, dip in water, strain, repeat.

Mopping was methodical, a mindless activity and likely pointless in the walls of Tutaminis Manor. So many people came and went, it was near impossible to keep up the floor clean. At least here in the kitchen she stood a chance, and she hadn't been careful while preparing the cookie dough and the cake batter. Perhaps such an endeavor had been a foolish use of resources, but she hadn't known what else to do with herself, and when she'd come in here after breakfast to help clean dishes, it had sort of progressed on its own once she'd been left. She was halfway surprised Jason hadn't come running to her with Bella by now, three hours later, she noted vaguely as she glanced at the clock. Maybe he'd sensed she'd needed time alone or maybe he was just having fun with his much younger second cousin and his own kids. Whatever the case, Lucy was feeling numb to the idea of being bothered by it as she might have otherwise been.

That had been how she'd felt since returning home from the Ministry attack three days ago with no Sam in hand yet no definitive answer. She hadn't cried yet. She'd gone through the motions with Bella and feigned a smile or a laugh to appease the girl, but Bella had cried far more than usual which had only made Lucy want little to do with her, feeling like she was the reason. There was no way she wasn't. Bella could probably sense her mum was hardly herself, and she'd been gone all that time in hopes of helping Evie's group with everything to no purpose when all had been said and done. Bella wasn't as used to her anymore yet as Lucy might have hoped after having been back a month and a half. Even though she'd made a point of mainly serving to consult as a healer when needed rather than busy herself there until the day they'd attacked. She'd spend much of her time in the healer's area helping the wounded since the attack, but this morning had been the exception. She'd lost track of time, and there was nothing more to be said of it and now that the baking was out of her hands and into the oven, she felt empty.

Memories of happier times came flooding in unbidden with the small puddles of water that fell with the mop after she dipped and wrung it out. The day she'd met Sam, their first kiss, the sneaking around when he was the Care of Magical Creatures professor during her final year at Hogwarts. The frustration over how long it took him to propose, the joy at the sight of that blue line in the pregnancy test window after months of trying. How scared Sam had been of the thought of being a father, yet the sheer joy in his eyes as she began to show, as little Bella's kicks could be felt on the outside. Fear as the first sign of Death Eaters back caught them off guard while she was working as the school healer despite Sam's protests. The fear-ruled decision to retreat to Noland's safe house due to her muggle-born status, the fact he was a blood traitor. The tears of pain and of relief and joy as Bella came into the world, the pure and simple adoration in Sam's eyes as he held his daughter the first time.

Lucy gasped, clutching at her chest as the first hot tears came unbidden, unwanted. Suddenly, she felt hyper aware of the fact she was alone, truly alone. There was no one else here in this room with her. There was no Sam, no Sam to nurse back to health and to love and to hold and to cherish. There was no nothing. Bella was fine without her, perfectly happy with Jason, perfectly content compared to the nonstop tears she had around her. She didn't need her. And what other purpose did she have in her life now? She was a mother and a healer and she was needed, yet somehow that was hardly enough. There were other healers, and there were others who loved Bella, whom Bella loved more than her. And Lucy had spent so long hoping and praying for Sam to be found during the attack on the Ministry. She'd spent so long trying to figure out the safest way to get him out despite how run down he would likely be that she didn't know what else she was supposed to do. She had nothing to worry about anymore. Not with the knowledge that Sam was probably dead, left to rot somewhere if not killed outright. His corpse was probably in an unmarked grave with dozens of others. The sob came harder and she grasped out for the counter, letting the mop handle fall.

Her husband was dead, and she wasn't ready to accept that.
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