April 22nd, 2098

05:16:28 [Porthman] A clandestine meeting with Hippolytus Botts had turned up more eventful than either of them had hoped, despite the utter absence of anything ‘eventful’ truly happening. They’d returned home after a mutual understanding of how things were going to go down from thereon out. Sleep was far from sight at first, but Meredith finally found a wink of it before the next day started. Then, when the next day did – indeed – begin, he was quick to shower, dress, grab his things, and head out the door for work. A small deviation from the typical starter brought him someplace new: a stop off at St. Mungos to visit a friend he rather hoped would be alert (if not ambulatory) for this visit. A sign in, refreshed directions, and a walk later and he was on Gloriana’s proverbial doorstep.

05:22:36 [Gloriana] The last few days had been grueling. With the regrowing of skin, the nightmares, and then the final blow of her mistakes coming to a head with the Ministry letter informing her of her impending meeting with the Wizengamot. Welby had demanded the Wizengamot stave off their trial until Gloriana was mentally fit as well as physically fit. They had, reluctantly, agreed but their patience would not last for long. All of that, coupled with the fact that she’d not physically seen anyone since she’d arrived, had put her in a state of depression the nurses were unsure she’d make it out of. “Pitiful thing…“ they would say to one another, and gave her a sympathetic glance. She spent most of her time sleeping, though it never seemed to help with the restlessness. And that’s how Mop would find her, turned away from the entrance of her privacy curtain and slumbering… not-so-peacefully.

05:38:09 Porthman didn’t wish to disturb his slumbering friend, so as with his previous visit, he sat down on the bedside chair upon passing through the curtain as quietly as he could. He’d reasoned that he’d stay there as long as he could - even if she never stirred, just as he’d done the previous visit. Meredith wasn’t one to talk to himself, and with friend (apparently) sleeping, he stayed quiet. The only noise he made was the folding of clothes and breaths he took while adjusting his posture to lean comfortably over his knees.

05:46:25 [Gloriana] As was the norm the past few days, her sleep was plagued by nightmares. Nightmares enough to bring her out of a dead sleep at a moment’s notice. It was only so long after Merry sat down across from her that she started awake to find what she thought was Valen sitting across from her. She cowered before a blink told her she was long. Eyes previously wide with terror were now subdued and duly averted. Mop. Her heart sank. She didn’t want to see him. She didn’t want to see anybody. She wanted to be forgotten at St. Mungos with her two best friends: guilt, and shame. But she did want to see him, at least somewhere buried under all of her stupid idiosyncrasies and the pain of knowing she’d been too late. Mop, the only person who’ll ever give a shit about me. She’d really spiraled into a tragic mess. The question was: would she ever be able to pull herself back out of it?

05:55:46 Porthman lifted his head when Gloriana stirred and reeled back. Mop thought she might fly across the room if she were capable, but he soon wagered he’d simply startled her awake. “Oi, take it eeeeasy.” He asked with a soft smile and a hand that reached out to the edge of the bed (but dared not rest upon her). “Nearly flew bloody well out of bed!” Meredith’s announcement was coupled by his withdrawal; he leaned back in the seat, taking his hand back with him. He didn’t need to see Gloriana to know that her spirits would be low. Seeing her only solidified his next course of action: making light of the situation. “They say you shouldn’t attempt anything physical for a while, so I think trying out for the Olympic high jump is out. Sorry, mate.”

06:06:34 [Gloriana] The sound of his voice made her twitch, noticeably, but didn’t seem to affect her any other way than that. She swallowed hard and pushed herself to sit up in the hospital bed and tucked a frizzy wave behind her ear. He was trying to make an easier mood out of her impossibly dark one. Sadly, Mop would find that a lot harder now than he ever had before. She was quiet, only allowing the twitch of her mouth up in the thinnest smile at his joke about the Olympics. Her sad brown eyes stole glances at him, but never made it to his face. She was afraid that looking in his eyes would cause her to cry. He’d seen enough of that, she imagined, and she’d done enough of it. Glori was uncommonly quiet, too. It was like someone had broken her into pieces, put her back together, and forgot to stick her voice box back in. How could she be to reticent with Merry? She fought with herself to try and speak; something, anything would do to break her silence. “What… are you doing here?“ Anything except that.

06:21:28 Porthman didn’t seem too dissuaded by Gloriana’s dark-and-stormy mood. It was particularly gloomy, but it seemed appropriate for what she’d been through. He gave her a second – a moment – to respond in any other way, but he didn’t really expect what she said when she DID find her voice. “What?” Meredith asked with a twisted, confused expression. “What am I doing here?” He nearly parroted back. “Shite.” The auror paused and fidgeted in his seat. “What do you think I’m doing here?” He couldn’t help but grin and scoff out a heavy breath. “Best friend missing for two days and pops up in St. Mungo’s – y’think I’m just gonna stand outside and wait for you to come out?” Meredith did try not to put pressure on her, but he couldn’t help his natural tendencies: a hard, green-eyed stare fell upon her, waiting to catch hers.

06:29:48 [Gloriana] It seemed like no matter what he did, Mop unsettled her. But then, everything unsettled her now. She was always waiting for the other shoe to drop (as if it hadn’t already). Best friend. It stung. It should have, but it stung. She didn’t know how to answer, but it was obvious in the way she continually refused to look at him that she thought she didn’t deserve his company or just downright didn’t want it. If she wasn’t already still aching from every part of the healing process, she would be able to feel her heart breaking with every moment of silence that passed between them. Push, push, push. She was steadily putting distance between them; out of fear for Mop’s safety, or the desire for him to find happiness, or maybe self-preservation (it was all relative). Push him away until he doesn’t remember how bad it feels to lose his best friend…

06:36:57 [Porthman] When moments of prying and attempts to steal eye-contact weren’t enough, Meredith’s smile took on a different meaning. With an expression soft once more, he clapped his knees and rose to his feet. “Right!” He announced on a new exhale. “I’ll come back by later—if I don’t make it after work, I’ll come back tomorrow morning.” His words were a promise – he’d come back; maybe she just wasn’t ready yet. Gloriana had been through an awful lot and her reaction to her experience was completely valid. Meredith wouldn’t keep her uncomfortable any longer. “Do you want me to pick anything up for you?” The hospital wasn’t going to let him waltz in with just any-old-thing, but he figured he’d extend the courtesy all the same before he took off.

06:44:01 [Gloriana] The slap of his knees made her jump. For the first time, she caught the blurred image of his face in a passing glance. To her surprise, she avoided the meltdown she thought was inevitable. Well, she knew it was inevitable, she was simply glad it hadn’t occurred at the tiniest vision of him. Later. It was in the same wheelhouse as her Wizengamot trial. Later was far more punishment than she could stand. It was a ticking time bomb with no hope of being diffused. She didn’t want to deal with it. She didn’t want to deal with anything. She wanted to be forgotten. Why wouldn’t they just let her fade away? Do you want me to pick anything up for you? She shook her head, staring down at pale digits she didn’t feel belonged to her.

06:50:36 [Porthman] “Brilliant.” Mop clacked his tongue to the inside of his mouth. “It’s good to see you awake.” He bid before he turned to leave. “Take it easy; I’ll be back around.” The auror made his last wish and promise before he’d turn and separate himself by dipping around the privacy curtain to head back out and on with his day – a little less fulfilled than before – if he went unchecked.

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