One More Try, A Lullaby

by: IckleRoses | Complete Story | Last updated Feb 16, 2015

A short story for Sarah who's had a horrible day and in need of some AR hurt-comfort. Bit rushed because I wanted to get it done for her tonight. I hope this makes you smile again, honey. WARNING: Descriptions of suicide attempt.

Chapter 1
Just Close Your Eyes...

Chapter Description: Based around the song "Lullaby" by Nickelback. Part of the Madam Ivy universe.

Why did you do it?!

She doesn’t know.

What is wrong with you?!

She doesn’t know. God, she wishes she did.

She wishes she knew what caused her to fuck everything up in life. If it wasn’t her social life being next to non-existent it was her boss shouting her ear off for yet another screw up that no one else seemed to ever be guilty of. It always felt like it was just her. Like the world was a giant whirlpool and she was constantly the one down in the depths of its very eye with no chance of swimming upwards to the surface.

After trudging through the pouring rain after another disastrous shift that’s left her feeling two inches tall, she slams the door of her tiny apartment and immediately collapses so that her bottom is on the floor and her knees tucked against her chest, burying her head in her arms so she can let the tears fall. The meltdown she’s been trying to keep in for the past couple of hours. She barely managed to hold it together, to keep her bottom lip from quivering, for all that time and now the sobs come loud and fierce.

It hadn’t even been anything serious. Just a telling off for a stupid mistake. Not even a discipline or warning.

But it was a tiny addition to a pile of troubles that just seemed to keep building up for her until they finally overflowed. Like tonight. It had been thrown on atop work colleague bullies, vicious social media, lack of friends or family and the end of yet another hopeless relationship. Not to mention the fact that she hated her job. Yet it was either stick with work that made her miserable or quit and not be able to pay her bills. She didn’t have the skills to go anywhere else in life and constantly felt too worthless to try to gain what she missed in school. Classes she had skipped because otherwise it meant having paper balls thrown at her head or being locked in the girls bathroom.

The fact that she managed to get this dank pit of a flat was a miracle in itself, as well as inheritance left from her grandparents to help pay for the deposit. There was little left of that now. Her depression kept her from being impulsive enough to take a load of it out of her savings account and spend it on a solo holiday in Majorca or Cyprus. Her depression kept her from doing almost everything.

It was only a matter of time until it took her very life.

Tonight was the tipping point. The idea created in her head that it was only a matter of time before she lost her job and was on the spiral to becoming cold and homeless being the seal of approval of how hopeless she was. She had no one to call. No one to miss her.

She pulls herself to her feet so she can make it to the kitchen. She finds the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer. At first she merely holds it. Regards it. The shine and the reflection of her pale, tear-stained face already looking like a ghost in a mirror shard. She runs her finger along the edge of it. And then again.

Harder this time.

She’s testing just how sharp it is. The edge is slightly jagged for cutting meat as well. There’s a sting as it breaks the skin of her index finger and a tiny drop of blood leaks out. She gasps. Not in fright, but surprise at the redness. For a moment there she’d felt like the world had been completely awash with black and grey. There was colour there. There was feeling in the pain.

Just like when she would do this as a teenager. Back then it was merely a cry for attention. A release from the bitter numb of adolescence and an isolated, excluded young life. Back then she only ever cut sideways. The ’wrong way’ as she was often told by the kids at school who spotted her scars when she forgot to pull her sleeve down. The kids who cared more to mock her for being an ’emo poser’ than caring she was trying to mutilate herself.

Well...tonight she’ll try to get it right.

She grabs a bottle of wine from the fridge. A cheap present from an old boyfriend who is probably spending the night with the pretty art student he dumped her for. She opens the bottle and glugs it down as if it were water. She gags, never having liked the taste. But she’s desperate for the fog to enter her brain and cloud the voices telling her that This Isn’t The Way.

What is the Way then? Why is this the only path she can see right now, other than continuing down the same one and becoming more miserable each day?

She lets out another sob and holds her left wrist out in front of her. Her right hand grips the knife.

Can she do it? Will it make everything better?

No. She’s not that stupid. She knows enough to be sure of that.

But it can’t make anything worse...


Damn it!

Liam knew he’d forgot something the second he’d left the supermarket. His shopping bags had seemed full of everything he’d intended to get at a glance. Yet only in the warmth and comfort of his flat did the sugar seem to want to do a vanishing act. This was why his mother had always told him to write a list.

Next time, Mum, I swear.

It’s not like he’s got anything to substitute it with either. If he was feeling devilish he supposes he could pull a prank by mixing in some salt. But he’s not that kind of bloke. Besides, he does enjoy baking and the guys at work always go nuts when it’s his turn to bring in the home-made snacks to share. Liam’s banana muffins had made him everyone’s best friend for a week last time it was his turn.

Not going to get very far without some sugar though. Not now he’s bought the rest of the ingredients.

Someone in the building is bound to have some. Good thing about British neighbours, you can always count on them to lend a bag of sugar or some spare tea bags. English people probably owe most of their friendships to a mutual love of tea and baked goods. Liam’s got to know most of the people in the flat and they’re all friendly enough aside from the odd resident who wants to keep to themselves thank you. Fair enough.

Liam journeys down the hall, looking at each door and wondering who would be home tonight. Most likely all of them. It’s only Wednesday. He’s about to knock on the flat next to his when he spots a door that’s ajar at the end of the corridor.

No. 28.

He has to think for a moment to remember that’s where the brunette girl lives. He’s only passed her a couple of times so far. Cute but shy little thing. Barely said more than a passing hello. She looked about nine years younger than him, probably just out of Uni, if that. The memory of her eyes sticks out the most for him. Always looking so...lost. Sad. Kept herself to herself. He feels guilty for not even knowing her name.

Well, maybe it was time to rectify that. Maybe the offer of some delicious banana muffins would bring a smile to her face. Maybe she’d like to come over for some tea. Despite being as red-blooded male as the next guy, Liam didn’t expect anything to have to happen. He wasn’t really into girls too much younger than him. It depends on how mature they were. If they still acted like school kids then it was a turn off having a girl remind him more of his little sisters than a sexual partner.

Nothing wrong with making friends though.

Though, he supposes, the more pressing matter here is why is her door open? Did she just forget to close it? Seems unlikely, most doors in this flat close instant on impact with a clear click of the lock turning. Maybe someone is popping in for a minute?

Except Liam can’t hear anything. Not music, not TV, not the run of the shower which always make a racket with the pipes in this building.

The other possibility is....that this might require the police.

Okay, maybe he’s been watching too much CSI. He needs to at least check it out first. Calmly.

Liam knocks on the ajar door.

"Hey there...Anyone home?" He calls, softly; "...Miss? You in?"

Not a word.

Christ, he should know her name. Does someone else in the building? Maybe he should knock on some other doors. Someone must have spoken to her properly before.

He carefully pushes the door open first because his heart is thumping like a jackhammer and he needs to know why.

The answer is clear as he pokes his head in.


He curses and rushes forward into the scene without letting a rational thought enter his brain. Ignoring every care for how dangerous this could be for him walking in on something like this with no idea of the situation.

It doesn’t matter.

The girl - the young woman - is lying slumped on the couch with a deep vertical cut along her wrist and down towards her elbow. Her arm and lap is drenched in blood that’s soaked the sofa and puddled around her feet. Her eyes are half-open and rolled back in her head. Her mouth is parted in the shape of a perfect bow.

If Liam’s heart was a jackhammer before, it’s about to break its way out of his rib cage any moment.

"Miss! Miss, can you hear me? Oh shit." He quickly tears off the closest fabric to him - his own shirt - and wraps it around her wrists.

He has no First Aid training. What the hell is he supposed to do?

Check her pulse. That, he can do. He does and he can’t feel anything. Is he doing it right?

He checks the airways. He thinks he can feel a brush of warm breath but is he imagining things? Everything feels like a warped dream right about now. Time feels like it’s frozen and yet at the same time he’s aware it could move and then everything will be lost. He doesn’t even know the girl’s name...


He should have brought his mobile. Why would he need it to borrow a bag of sugar for some bloody banana muffins?

Liam looks down at her face. She is pretty. Just like he remembered. Pretty and silent. He breathes heavily as he gazes at her. He wants her to wake up and speak more than anything right now. It’s as if he’s been instantly tied by an invisible piece of string to this strange girl after touching her still warm skin. He might get in trouble if he stays, with a knife near his feet and blood all around.

He does’t seem to care. He can’t leave her.

"Why would you do this? You must have people who love you. You can’t just leave them." He tells her, softly, in case she can hear him. "You need to stay with me, all right? I’m going to get you some help. It will be okay, I promise."

He hates breaking a promise. He won’t break this. He can’t.

Liam looks around for her land-line and picks it off the charger. He starts pressing at the numbers, except there’s no dial tone.


"There’s no point. By the time they get here she’ll have bled out. She’s already been here a while."

Liam’s head shoots up when he hears the voice.

Another person that he’s sure wasn’t here when he came in is now sitting next to the girl’s body. No, the girl. She can’t be just a body yet. Still warm. Beautiful.

The other woman has purple hair that somehow manages to look natural rather than out of a paint jar from one of those hipster hair-dye ranges. There’s a strange glow about her that seems to contrast the growing paleness of the bleeding girl beside her.

He blinks twice; "W-what do you mean? What do you know about this?"

"Just trust me. An ambulance won’t help her now." The purple haired woman explains; "But you can."

"...How?" He asks, finding it all too easy to trust her.

Why does he get the sense that she’s not human?

"First. Take her to your flat. Quickly now." She orders.

Liam has no idea how he’s supposed to make this right. But if he can save this girl’s life then he won’t waste time arguing. He moves forward and picks the girl up into his arms, finding her rather slight and petite, able to carry her like a baby with her head lolled against his shoulder. He looks down at her. This isn’t right. She’s dying and yet she looks more beautiful to him every time he looks at her.

The blood is dripping down him now. He tears his gaze away to look up at the other woman.

"Now wha-." He goes to ask only she’s gone; "For God’s sake."

He carries the unconscious girl back to his flat. A small voice in his brain is screaming why he’s obeying the orders of some woman who might be seriously involved in this instead of knocking on another door and asking for help. An ambulance. Anything aside from just taking her into his flat and laying her across his lap as he sits on the sofa.

Liam takes a breath and strokes his fingers across her cheeks. They’re still wet. She’s been crying. A lot.

What evil bastard could be cruel enough to make this sweet angel cry? To make her want to...

Wait, where was this coming from all of a sudden?

"She doesn’t have much time left." A voice tells him.

He looks up. The woman is back. Now in his flat, standing in front of him, her arms crossed and her expression sad but serious.

Liam holds her close, as if his thumping heart could kickstart hers.

"Y-you said I could help her." He tells the woman.

"You can."

"...Who are you?"

The woman gives a half smile; "My name is Ivy. But that’s not important right now. All you need to know is that I have the power to reverse what’s happened here. To make those cuts heal and her arms as good as new."

He has more questions but if the miraculous thing she promises is true then he shouldn’t waste time.

"Well then, do it! Please!" He part orders, part begs. He looks back down at the girl; "I...I have no idea what’s going on but I feel like...I’m supposed to meet her. I was meant to find her and...look after her. If she dies then....H-how can you save her if the doctors can’t?"

He needs to know or else he is being an idiot wasting his time.

"Like I said. I’m going to reverse what happened. Make her good as new." Ivy explains carefully; "Just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep hold of her. Keep her warm."

The woman moves forward and puts her palms out over the girl in Liam’s arms. Her digits emit a dusty white aura that seems to spread down over the girl’s limp body. It envelopes her in a tiny cloud for a brief moment where Liam is stunned by what is obviously magic surrounding him. When it starts to clear, he blinks in awe as the cuts on her arms begin to seal up. Almost like a zip.

He gawps, hoping she doesn’t open her eyes to see such an idiotic face looking down at her. How did this happen? Is this the world’s best prank? No. Whatever that was, he felt it. It was real. His skepticism in the supernatural has been shattered.

The girl in his arms emits a tiny noise, like a coo, before curling against Liam a little. He sighs out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

" did it. You saved her." He grins up at the...Witch. Whatever she is. "...H-how?"

Ivy smiles again; "I told you before. I’m making her good as new. Look...I’m not finished yet."

Liam frowns and looks back down at her.


It takes a moment for him to notice. But the girl in his arms is...shrinking. What had been a young twenty-something was now clearly reversing to a teenager, evident by her chest decreasing in size, as well as a freshness coming back to her face. She felt even lighter. The work clothes he found her in are starting to swamp her as she gets smaller and smaller. Her chest is flat now and the shoes have fallen completely from her feet.

"You’re...making her younger?" He questions.

"Bingo." Ivy nods; "I’ve been watching her for a while. She hasn’t had the easiest life. And I could see it wasn’t going to get much better the direction she was heading. Not her fault, she’s a lovely thing. The world just took advantage of how sweet she was and loved to walk all over her."

"Wankers." He curses and then bites his lip when he realizes he’s swearing near a pre-teen. Sleeping or not.

Ivy gives a small chuckle; "No worries. Anyway, I was going to come to her tonight, to offer her a second chance at life. But...I got there too late."

Liam nods; "Same here. I should have got to know her sooner. I wouldn’t have let her feel so alone. I know how that feels. I would have...given her someone to talk to. To make her feel...wanted." Loved, maybe. Eventually.

Why does he already feel something almost that intense?

"You can. Like I said, you can help her." Ivy says, kneeling down; "She doesn’t have any family. She’s going to need someone to look after her. To raise her with love and care and support. Someone to keep her safe and make her feel precious."

Liam gulps.

"You mean..." He starts, feeling oddly nervous.

"Yes. She needs a father."

Liam bites his lips, tears filling his eyes as he looks down at the child. Eight years old now. Pretty as a picture, even with her hair messy and her clothes that cover her like a bundle of blankets. He starts to lift her out of them and lets them fall to the floor. He grabs a fluffy towel from the airing cupboard and wraps it around the ever-shrinking little girl in his arms.

The smaller she gets the more helpless she seems. Utterly dependent and all alone. His heart breaks.

Can he be a father? He supposes he’s got a good enough job to support the both of them. His boss would be okay with giving him time off for parental leave if need be, they’re usually great with supporting working parents. Still there’s the fear of failing her. Of not being all she needs to be happy. The thought of growing so attached only to lose her is like a knife to his gut.

"W-why me?" He asks as the girl shrinks to a pre-schooler. Cute as a button with the rosiest cheeks.

What did Liam do to deserve her?

"Because you chose her." Madam Ivy responds quietly.

Liam doesn’t quite understand that. Because he decided to go looking for her? Because he wanted to invite her back to his flat? Because he obeyed the magic woman’s orders and risked his own neck getting in trouble to try to save her? Or because he’s not arguing in the slightest at being told that this renewed life is now his little girl. His daughter.

Of course he wants her.

She’s about two now. She seems to have stopped. She looks adorable as he cradles her in the towel which seems to have turned pink with cartoon ponies stitched across it.

Liam looks up again to speak to the woman.

Only she’s gone again. This time he suspects that she won’t be coming back. One reason being that when he opens the door to his spare bedroom he now finds a perfectly decorated nursery for a baby girl, completely furnished with the most pristine cot and changing table along with pink wallpaper and an endless collection of plush, cuddly toys. As if the room has always been this way.

His whole life has been turned upside down in a matter of minutes. And yet he can’t feel the least bit resentful. Instead he just feels...blessed.

The tot awakens with a sharp cry in his arms.


She was cold. So, so cold.

She had felt so thirsty and yet, at the same, time, like she was drowning. Memories muddle in a head that’s far too small to contain them anymore. They don’t make sense. They’re all far too scary and she has to scream to make them go away forever.

When she wakes she’s no longer cold. Instead she’s warm.

Very warm.

A pair of warm arms are holding her. The arms are big enough to be a bed in themselves. Or is she just small? Yes, that’s it. She’s very small now. Evident when she blinks around and the furniture around looks gigantic. Then there’s the face looking down on her. That’s big too and she wonders if she’s supposed to be afraid.

But the face isn’t scary. Does she know the face? She isn’t sure.

He’s talking to her though. He’s smiling a little to try to cheer her up. He’s rocking her gently against his chest.

"Shh, shhh, it’s okay, baby girl." He tells her; "It’s okay. I’m here. I’ve got you, you’re safe. Don’t cry now."

She sniffs. She was sad and she wants to cry.

She didn’t think it would bother anyone if she cried.

"Who you?" She asks, a bit surprised to find her voice so high and squeaky. It doesn’t help that she’s so full of tears.

The man looks distracted for a second. Then he smiles.

"Sweetheart, it’s me. It’s Daddy." He tells her.

"Da...Daddy?" She blinks through her tears. All at once it seems both impossible and obvious.

Why did she think she doesn’t have a daddy? Or if she did he went away a long, long time ago. She feels so surprised that he’s here now and seems so unfamiliar. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. She’s scared and confused and upset. Who else would be rocking her in his arms and kissing her head better other than her daddy?

She sniffles and wraps her little arms around his shoulders, burying her face in his neck. She breathes in the scent of his cologne. It almost smells like honey and reminds her of warm summers and picnics in the park. That makes her feel much better. She clings to her daddy as tight as she can and in return Daddy grips her tightly and continues to walk around with her, the motion and his voice so soothing.

If she’s with Daddy then she’s home. If she’s home then there’s nothing to be scared about. Nothing to make her sad.

"Did my little princess have a bad dream?" Daddy asks her gently.

She nods against him.

"Sca-wee dweam, Daddy." She repeats, still shaking a bit from it. She doesn’t even properly remember it. She doesn’t want to.

Just wants Daddy.

"Here. Daddy kiss your poor head all better." He does just that, brushing his lips against her hair.

She appreciates that, hugging him again.

"Daddy ha’ magic kisses." She mumbles with a tiny smile.

Daddy chuckles a bit; "Something like that."

She doesn’t feel sleepy now. She’s shaken and far too alert from her nightmare where she was all alone in the dark and drowning in nothing. What a stupid dream. Daddy made it all go away. But she does’t fuss or fight when Daddy takes her to the nursery and dresses her in yellow fleecy one-piece footed pajamas. She doesn’t care that he pads her waist with a night-time nappy. The clothes make her feel so safe like Daddy’s strong arms.

She reaches out for another cuddle when Daddy’s finished. She doesn’t ask why she was nakey to begin with. Maybe she had an accident? Daddy says that’s okay. She’s still too little to use the potty but maybe soon. It’s nice having Daddy take care of all that. Daddy takes care of everything. The idea makes her feel incredibly relaxed. Why does it feel

When Daddy picks her up she clings to him again.

"No sweeps, Daddy. P’ease." She begs. Not alone. Not in the dark. Not yet. Not even with her mobile on.

He rubs her back; "Don’t worry, sweetie. You can sleep with Daddy tonight. And stay up a bit with me until then. Daddy won’t ever leave you."

She chokes back a sob. She wishes she could show Daddy how grateful she feels other than hugs. She kisses his cheek and he returns it with one on her nose.

Her thumb finds its way into her mouth.

"Thirsty, darling?" Daddy whispers.

She nods. Bad dreams always made her throat dry.

So when Daddy warms up a bottle of milk, it’s the best thing in the world to sit on his lap and drink it all down. To make it all gone. Every last warm, sweet drop down her throat as she lays against Daddy’s arm and looks up to see his kind face looking down at her. Complete and utter adoration shared between them.

How could she have ever felt so scared before?

With the bottle finished, she snuggles against his jumper and he holds her close. He’s humming a lullaby and stroking her hair and her soft cheek. She’s almost ready to go to sleep before a sudden thought makes her nearly jump out of her skin again.

"D-Daddy...!" She cries, fretfully.

"What is it, baby?" He asks, looking worried; "Daddy’s still here. Don’t worry now. What’s wrong?"

"I...I..." Now this is strange; "I f-forgot my name..."

It’s such a silly thing to forget. She expects Daddy to laugh but he too looks stumped for a moment. Did Daddy forget too? Then he smiles and strokes her hair.

"Your name...." He hesitates, gazing at her; "Honey, your name is...Hope. Remember? My little ray of Hope."


Of course! Silly Hope, to forget a thing like that.

She gives a dreamy smile and nods, the information falling easily in. One last piece of the puzzle she needs for the moment and now she feels complete. Fixed together with all the other pieces that tell her all she needs to know. That she’s Daddy’s much loved little girl and always will be.



End Chapter 1

One More Try, A Lullaby

by: IckleRoses | Complete Story | Last updated Feb 16, 2015


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MartyMan69420 ยท Jun 28, 2024

welp i didn't think i'd almost cry from reading this but fuck. This was incredibly sweet, I always adored stories like this. You're a very talented writer!

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