Charming is a Victorian Era Harry Potter roleplay set primarily in the village of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the non-canon village of Irvingly. Characters of all classes, both magical and muggle — and even non-human! — are welcome.
With a member driven story line, monthly games and events, and a friendly and drama-free community focused on quality over quantity, the only thing you can be sure of is fun!
The corridor was dark as she moved down, exhausted and stumbling. Rue ran her fingers over the walls only to find them moving beneath her touch like waves upon the sand. She could see only a short distance in front of her but there was an overwhelming sense of needing to press on, to find what was at the end. Water started to gather around her bare feet as she started to run.
Things flashed by in her peripheral vision as she ran, tripping over the rising water, slowing as it got deeper and deeper. Rue couldn't make out what she saw, but she knew she wouldn't like what she saw if she could. Finally she burst through the end of the hallway, the light blinding her. Stumbling, Rue shielded her eyes and lurched forward, nearly tripping over the bassinet she hadn't seen, hands braced on the sides as she looked down. The tiny bundle cooed at her and one look had her gasping for air as if the wind had been knocked clear out of her. Tears clouded her vision as she looked at him, perfect, healthy, whole, blonde hair and blue eyes just like his dad; her sweet little Silas.
As soon as she went to pick him up she heard it; a familiar cry yelling out for her. Rue looked around, expecting to find Margie. It was clearly her daughter's panicked voice, but Margaery was nowhere in sight. Another scream, more desperate and afraid than the last. Rue panicked, turning around to look, eyes straining against the light, but she couldn't see her daughter. She looked quickly back at the bassinet, indecision and fear rising in her throat, but Silas was gone. Another look around the void and nothing, silence; she was alone with her guilt once more. The water rushed in again, spilling out of the doorway behind her and she couldn't escape, couldn't move as it swallowed her into the never-ending darkness.
Rue cried out softly as she sat up in bed, soaked in a cold sweat, tears streaming down her cheeks. The feeling of being winded was real, the ache in her heart leaving her perpetually breathless. Her body still ached and protested when she moved, reality settling over her once more. All she could do was just sit and try to breathe through it.
It had been a week since... the beach and though she was well and truly exhausted, sleep evaded her, nightmares plaguing her as soon as she laid down. Between taking care of Margie and trying not to over do it with her own health, Rue was barely making it through the day. But when it was all over, the house quiet, she would much prefer the constant motion of the days to this. Here in the dark of her cozy bedroom was the reality of what she'd lost and was still fighting to keep was all she could think about.
Curling into herself, Rue rested her forehead on her knees and wrapped her arms around her legs. All she had to do was breathe and it would pass. It always passed, but relief never lasted.
Lock was having nightmares, too, but for him, the worst part was the moment right after he woke up.
In his dreams he was holding Ruth on the beach, and she was dying. It was the beach at the Sandition but it was empty; no friends, no onlookers, no children, not even the still body of his daughter only a few inches away. Or he was in the water, breathless and straining against a current that pulled him back without relief as he fought helplessly. He would look through the dark water for his wife, the salt stinging his eyes, and he would see clues drift by--her hat, her boot, a glove--but he would never find her, no matter how hard he fought. Or he was in that hospital room, that awful room where they'd spent the entire rest of the day, and suddenly the bustle around Ruth's bed went quiet. The healers would part with one motion, like a group of statues, human sized chess pieces being swept aside by a giant invisible hand, and Ruth would be there, motionless, her skin whiter than the bedsheets and the blood a vivid stain around her.
Lock had no idea how long his dreams lasted, because when he woke up (quietly, with little more than a slight tension in his chest and a sharp inhale of breath) he would only ever remember the last moment of them. One morbid picture that stayed with him, one more way that Ruth might have died that day, burning into his eyes in the dark until he reached out and touched Ruth's shoulder in the bed next to him and reminded himself that she hadn't.
And then came the worst part, following right on the heels of the wave of relief he always felt at being able to touch his wife: the realization that in his nightmares, he never dreamed about losing the children. Not Margie, not Silas. They never so much as made an appearance in the grisly tableaux his subconscious served him at night, just as they hadn't even really occurred to him on that day--at least, not until after he'd known that Rue was safe.
He hadn't told her that, and he didn't know if he ever would. How could he possibly admit such a thing to the mother of his children? Lock knew it was wrong. He knew he ought to be ashamed of himself--and he was, deeply ashamed. But that couldn't give him a time turner, to go back and fix his instinctual reaction, and it couldn't change the content of his nightmares, so when he woke up at night and touched Ruth's shoulder to ensure that she was still there, he spent the next hour or so staring up at the ceiling, and wondering how, without even realizing it, he'd become such a terrible father.
Sometimes, before he had a chance to get back to sleep, Rue would wake from a nightmare of her own. Lock knew she had them more often than he did--she tossed and turned the entire night--and that made him feel guilty, too.
He sat up, pushing the blankets away to clear the space between them, and then scooted closer to her. It was dark in the room--the moon must have been small tonight, because the window wasn't adding much--and he could barely see her outline against the black of the distant wall. Almost hesitantly, Lock reached out and put a hand on her far shoulder. When she didn't pull away, he scooted closer, then pulled his wife in against his chest, wrapping his other arm around her as well. "You alright?" he asked in a low murmur, though he knew she wasn't.
In the quiet of the room, Rue focused on breathing. With her cheek pressed to her knees she looked toward the window, though there wasn't much light coming in. Frustrated, Rue dragged her hands over her face, wiping the tears from her cheeks. Impatiently she shook her hair from her face. It was getting so long, she needed to have her mum cut it for her. Among other normal things she should take care of, but everything seemed trivial compared to the obvious elephant in the room. There was Margie to care for, she still wasn't feeling completely well herself, the little things would have to slide for a while. Probably a long while.
She started quickly when she felt Lock move beside her, but relaxed easily enough. She felt bad for waking him, but she was fairly certain neither that he wasn't sleeping all that well either. Unfortunately for him, she was the one who restlessly tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, trying desperately to catch some real rest, but it just wasn't happening. Between the nightmares and her uncontrollable need to check on Margie in the middle of the night, it was just awful and she felt incredibly guilty about it.
Answering his question seemed silly when they both knew she was far from okay and so her response came out in a soft sigh, a slump of her shoulders. She was a long way from okay. This would never not hurt, but time would dull the ache, it just had to. "I didn't mean to wake you, I'm sorry." She whispered instead, after allowing herself to be pulled in. Rue had never been the kind for physical affection, but had softened considerably on that front. With the kids she couldn't help herself and with Lock is just came easily, naturally. Right now she needed it, more than she wanted to admit. Rue knew this was just as hard for Lock as it was for her, but that didn't stop her from depending on him to hold it together better than she could; leaning on him was the only thing keeping her upright emotionally.
Lock shook his head just the slightest amount; she'd feel the motion even if she wasn't looking at him and couldn't have seen him in the dark anyway. "I was already awake," he mumbled. He couldn't remember how long he'd been awake before he heard Rue cry out and felt her sit up next to him, but it didn't really matter. Tomorrow morning, this entire night would just feel like one long, restless blur. Of the four of them Calvin was probably sleeping the best, and he wasn't even two yet, so he never slept that well.
Lock took a deep breath, taking in the scent of her hair. In the hospital, the night they'd lost Silas, her hair had smelled like salt, and now it was a comforting thing for him to remind himself that it didn't smell salty anymore. It wasn't something he could have really explained, because it didn't make much sense; it was the sort of emotional simplicity that lead a frightened child to reach for a stuffed animal or to cling to his favorite blanket. Lock knew that they weren't in that hospital any more, that the danger had passed and Ruth and Margie were safe. He knew that time was marching on, away from the night they'd lost their youngest son, and that time, in theory, would make it better. He knew all of that, but it was still necessary, from time to time, to remind himself, with little things like the scent of her hair.
"Nightmare?" he asked quietly, though this was just as superfluous a question as his last. Obviously it had been a nightmare. After a beat, he added hesitantly, "I could ask Hatch about a sleeping drought, if you think it might help."
While she wasn't surprised that Lock had already been awake, she still felt guilty, assuming she was the cause. Her minimal sleep was restless as she tossed and turned trying to get comfortable as her body protested every movement and her mind replayed the nightmares over and over. It was starting to really wear on her and she knew that it showed, which in turn made her feel every more guilty for worrying anyone all over again. Needless to say it was a vicious cycle she had no clue how to get out of and prayed that time would slow the severity. Until then, she just had to push through.
Rue tried to adjust into a comfortable position as she snuggled into her husband, but wound up giving up and instead just tried to appear as if she were some semblance of relaxed. She brushed her loose hair from her face and chuckled, a real, genuine, albeit tired, laugh at the thought of drinking any potion that Noah Hatchitt had brewed. "I think I'll ask Tony, thanks." As much as she liked to pick on her little brother, he did know what he was doing and Rue had far more confidence in his skills than in that respect.
Moving so she could look at him better, she eyed Lock carefully. "Maybe we should ask for a double." Clearly he needed it too. Having a double made her reconsider whiskey as a good option. She had thought of that, but part of the reason she hadn't already asked for something to help with the sleep was that she wanted to be able to get to the kids if they needed her. Though sometimes she did sneak a little glass here and there when Lock wasn't home and the kids were asleep. She'd take that to her grave though.
A sleeping potion was tempting, he had to admit, and not only because it would probably prevent him from waking up in the middle of the night. He hadn't used sleeping potions before, but his general understanding of them was that when one took a sleeping draught, there were no dreams that followed--just pure, simple unconsciousness for several hours, depending on the strength. That was the real temptation--the ability to get rid of these guilt-inducing nightmares.
But he didn't deserve to get rid of the nightmares. He deserved to feel guilty.
Lock shook his head slightly. "If you're sleeping, I'll be fine," he insisted quietly. Ruth's well being was more important than his, anyway--and she was by far more affected by the restlessness and the nightmares than he was. He could manage wrestling with his. He didn't deserve a respite. Ruth, on the other hand, had been through more than enough. Lock wanted things to be easier for her, no matter what he had to do to make that happen.