|Rita Louise Skeeter (ritabugwrites) wrote in an_ill_wind,|
@ 2009-09-03 17:58:00
|Entry tags:||- 1980/09 september, octavius pepper, rita skeeter|
Who: Pepper and Rita
Where: Al's room at Frank and Alice's house
When: Evening, September 3
What: A little bonding over shared pain, though not really saying much about anything at all in the process.
Status: Finished log
Pepper was a zombie. He still hadn't really slept properly, just kept coming back and double-checking Al, though he and Dig had done absolutely everything they could do for him. Now it was all on time, and on Al's willingness to stay alive. Pepper couldn't stand it, yet he could not force himself to leave. He'd caught a shower at some point, and had spent the rest of the time since they'd finished fixing Al's insides and outsides wandering around the house, standing outside and smoking fag after fag after fag.
And since he couldn't drink booze, he was loading up on the coffee.
Rita'd been parked in and watching things since she'd gotten there, shortly after they'd brought Al back. She was quiet, she stayed out of the way. She didn't cry or lose her shit, or flail around like a mad woman. She sat and she watched and she kept her vigil. Thinking of her as he stood in the Longbottom's kitchen pouring himself yet another cup (really, he'd lost count), she grabbed a mug for her as well.
Coming back into the room where they were keeping Al and sliding down the wall to sit beside her on the floor, he handed her a cuppa without a word.
Rita barely noticed the world moving around her. Everything she was and everything she had was focussed on Al, willing him to get better, waiting for it and watching. She hadn't even bothered to owl work, nor had she bothered to eat or sleep or do much of anything for herself for the last day. She sat up all night watching, and then stayed all day, and now it was evening again and barely anything had changed.
When Pepper walked in and sat down beside her, it took Rita a moment to jog her brain enough to realize he had brought her coffee. After she finally managed to drag one hand up and accept the cup, she nodded sluggishly and took a sip.
Pepper wasn't the only one who felt like a zombie, but after a nice, hot, caffeinated mouthful, Rita managed, "Ta."
Pepper nodded and brought his knees up, drinking in a mouthful himself, watching the bed where Al was laying, Dig re-checking him for something or other. Pepper really did need to sleep at some point. So he could relieve Dig and have his wits about him enough to do Al the same service he'd been managing since the Death Eaters gave him back. Jesus on a fucking cracker. This is what Doing the Right Thing got you. Beaten within an inch of your life. Pepper agreed to get more involved in the Order, certainly, but if this was the sort of up-it's-own-arse shit it involved, moving to Alaska might be a viable option afterall.
"Don't think I'll have a job come whenever I decide to wander back," he said absently. "Not that, all things considered, I'd go back anyway."
"Yeah. Me too," Rita said, and though her mind was on anything but work at the moment, she knew Pepper was just talking to talk, probably, so maybe he wouldn't have to think about what clearly neither of them could stop thinking about.
Rita had never been physically affectionate. At least not until she started dating Al again. He taught her to appreciate cuddling and casual touch. He made her crave it. Now, all Rita could think of was how much touching Al would hurt him, and she kept her distance. But Pepper was there, at her side, and she slid down the wall a little and leaned her head on his shoulder, clutching the hot coffee cup against her chest tightly as she shut her eyes against the world.
"I can forget about the column, at any rate. I almost had them convinced to give it to me," Rita mumbled, hoping Pepper wouldn't mind her invasion of his private space. Hoping maybe, as one of Al's best friends, he'd understand. She and Pepper weren't close, exactly, but she'd always secretly thought they had a lot in common.
Pepper flinched slightly, but more out of surprise than of being uncomfortable with Rita leaning on him. He wouldn't be able to sit here and wax poetic about how important Al was to him, to her, to Frank, or about how much they needed him, or about how hard it was to sit through it. It fucking sucked. It was an unspoken thing. There were no comparative emotions. They were just two people, who had known each other for ages, and who both need Al to stay alive.
"There are worse things than losing a job," he said after a beat. "But being the Ministry's overrun by death eating fucktarts, I can't say I have an overwhelming desire to keep with the monotony. Not to mention the 'my life is regulated to high heaven' shit."
"Yeah. There are other jobs," Rita said softly.
There was a part of Rita that wanted to talk about Al. She wanted to explain, perhaps, that he had to live because they were in a fight and fighting and making up was what they did, but how could they make up if he didn't pull through this? Or perhaps she needed to explain what Doris had made her understand, that she'd pushed Al because she was afraid of losing him or getting too serious with him or getting hurt or any number of things that didn't matter now. But mostly, Rita didn't feel like she had to talk abotu Al with Pepper because he understood. They both loved Al, in different ways, and they'd both known him for years. Pepper didn't judge the way Frank did, and Rita could just sit there and know they were both aching. Somehow it was more bearable to share it with someone.
There was one thing she had to know, though. "Tell me the truth. Is he..." Going to live? Going to be okay? Going to pull through? "Just tell me the truth."
Pepper sighed first. Then he shrugged. "Honestly? I don't know. He's. I mean. They didn't just smack him around a few times, you know? It's..." he paused, taking another drink from his mug and staring fixedly on Al's better opposite them. "His body's trying."
His body was trying. Trying. Rita swallowed around a sudden lump in her throat, then swallowed a mouthful of coffee too when that didn't help. She nodded against Pepper's shoulder, looking towards Al as well. She'd asked for the truth. She had hoped the truth was that Al would get better, but he clearly wasn't out of the woods yet.
"Okay," Rita said softly. She was calm. She had been since she'd gotten there, at least on the outside. At no point had she descended into hysterics or cried or screamed. Just as when her father had died, she hid all of her worry and nerves and fear away as best she could behind a blank facade, and she just did what she had to do. She dealt. Of course, it hadn't lasted forever then, and she wasn't sure it would last very long at all now, but it was working for now. For now, it allowed her to stay out of the way but close as she waited for Al to wake up.
"Than you," Rita said then, and though she meant it in a meaningful way (for getting Al back and for putting him back together), she added, "Coffee really hit the spot."
"Anytime," Pepper answered, rubbing his tired eyes with the palm of his free hand. Fuck he was tired. Tired of the situation at hand, tired of the state of the world, tired of choosing sides and there being reasons to choose sides, of a government that wanted to smother the people in lies while kidnapping good people and nearly killing them. Who'd be next? What would it all culminate in? If Voldemort couldn't die without this soul distribution shit being taken care of first, then what in the name of good God in heaven were they doing? What was the point in doing anything but hunting down the horcruxes?
"I should sleep so I can relieve Dig in a few hours," Pepper said. "He's an excellent healer. Better than me. Al's in the best hands he... can be in, given the circumstances."
"Better than you, really?" Rita questioned, attempting a smile even though she knew it would come out sad. She shifted then, sitting up straight so Pepper could get up without her in the way. She was tired too, having been awake for about two days now, but she wasn't yet tired enough to sleep. She wasn't yet as tired as Pepper looked. Feeling charitable, Rita said, "I'll get you if anything changes."
Pepper managed a small smile, pulling himself into a standing position. "Thanks," he said. "Though you should sleep too. Alice and Frank have lots of room."
Shaking her head, Rita answered, "No, I'm going to stay with him."
If she was going to sleep, she was going to do it right there in the corner of the room on the hard floor. She wasn't going to move any further away from Al than she had to. Pepper, however, was a different story. "Get some rest. Al needs you on top of your game right now."
"Yeah. Okay," Pepper said, then headed out into the hallway toward the room he'd been told several hours ago that he should utilise for a nap (or good night's sleep, whatever time allowed).
Rita watched him go for a moment, then turned her attention back to Al. Dig, a man whose name she knew only because she'd heard others use it, was tending to Al still, and he met her eyes momentarily. Rita couldn't read the emotion in them, and she didn't have the energy to try. She just focussed, again willing Al to wake up, and went back to counting his breaths.