Chapter 2: No Longer
Daylight began peeking over the horizon, bathing the dirty city with a hue of pink, red and gold. It was a moment of beauty and peace as the city began to awaken and begin its usual procedures and routines of the day. The grime and dirt of a standard city were not seen for a few moments, bringing to light the stillness and simplicity of life before the world erupted in noise and further brought pollution into its streets.
However, as the golden sun began to reflect the pond outside the Hotel Denouement, there would be little to no "usual" procedures or routines in this building as the trials and convictions of High Courts were about to begin. The lobby was already bustling with activity as the seemingly two surviving managers directed the staff in placing chairs and benches, while also creating a stand and podium for the judges and witnesses to occupy. Justice Strauss prepared herself in her wig and robes and nodded to acknowledge her fellow judges as they say many stories above her, as a literal interpretation of the words "High Court."
Meanwhile, the Baudelaires, who had gotten extraordinarily little sleep due to the chaos of the night before with a harpoon gun and their desire to learn more about Criminal Law in preparation for the trials, had not spoken for many hours lost in their own thoughts. Exhaustion and guilt plagued their minds as well as anxiety of how the coming day would bring light to their lives and crimes.
There is a knock at the door and the familiar coughs of Mr. Poe can be heard. The dreaded sounds that they had heard so long ago as the man from the bank and a family friend came to inform them that their parents had perished in a terrible fire. It felt as though their world was spiralling in a cycle of misery and disaster, something which they could not seem to break out of.
"Baudelaires, why haven't you changed? The trial is starting," he asks before coughing into a handkerchief. "Justice Strauss has sent me to escort you and to give you these blindfolds."
"Blindfolds?" Violet asks in confusion.
"Everyone wears blindfolds to enter a High Court trial," the banker replies, "Except the judges, of course. Haven't you heard the expression 'Justice is blind'?"
"Yes," Klaus says, "but I always thought it meant that justice should be fair and unprejudiced."
"Well, the High Court ruled that we should interpret that expression literally, so everyone must cover their eyes before the trial starts."
"Scalia?" Sunny utters which likely meant "It doesn't seem like the literal interpretation makes any sense,"
"What my sister means is the literal interpretation makes no sense," Klaus translates.
"Well, the interpretation of laws, can be perplexing, like the interpretation of sausages. I'll wait in the hall."
The three siblings look at one another in doubt and confusion. How could they have imagined that their lives had developed into a series of unfortunate events? They had done things they could never imagined that they would do and most of it left them with regrets and a deep sense of bitterness in the pits of their stomachs.
"Unfathomable," Sunny utters.
"Everything seems unfathomable," Violet says with a sigh, pulling the outfits that Justice Strauss had left for them in the closet out and handing them to her siblings. "It's getting so that I can't tell a noble person from a wicked one."
"Kit said that the only way to tell a villain from a volunteer is to observe everyone, and make such judgements ourselves," Klaus recalls, "but that hasn't helped us at all."
"Today the High Court will do the judging for us," Violet says. "Maybe they'll prove to be helpful."
"Or fail us," Sunny says, leaving a pall of dread over them as they changed and then put on their blindfolds before meeting Mr. Poe and going down to the trial. Their whole lives seemed unfathomable, meaning being unable to be fully explored or understood.
Across the city, daylight is breaking through the windows of Pincus Hospital as two exhausted figures lean against one another, attempting to get some form of sleep. The night for Holly and Mr. Caliban had been as equally long and chaotic as the Baudelaires' had been but for vastly different reasons as they attempted to save the life another. The risking of life and limb to get the man proper medical assistance left them weary and exhausted. They had tried to stay awake to hear any news about the third Denouement triplet, Mr. Caliban even suggesting that they sleep in shifts so that someone would be conscious when the word did come and brought light to the patient's situation. The noble volunteer even offered to stay up to let the younger girl get the sleep she needed to grow and function, but she declined and thought the sleeping in shifts was a better idea. However, nothing had been seen nor heard in the hospital about Dewey Denouement since he was wheeled into surgery and as the hours had ticked by, both rescuers fell asleep.
A nurse wakes them up before offering some tea in Styrofoam cups.
"Any cream or sugar?" she asks.
"No thank you," Mr. Caliban declines.
"Just one packet, please," Holly says politely. The young girl did not know that she had broken a long family tradition of desiring tea to be as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a two-edged sword. Perhaps it was her mother's influence or her desire to deviate from her family's past that led her to add a little bit of sweetness into her drink.
When the nurse returns with the packet and stirring stick, the young girl asks the question hanging over her head.
"Have you heard anything from the doctor about Dewey Denouement? Is he going to be all right?" Holly asks, worry boiling up in the pit of her stomach.
"I just came on shift, I will go and find the doctor," the nurse says before leaving.
Holly examines her sweetened tea carefully, the worry twisting her stomach into knots that were so tight that she feels unable to drink her warm beverage.
"I hope he's okay," she whispers.
"So do I," Mr. Caliban says. "We've lost so many already, we cannot lose more." He then takes a long sip of his bitter tea to fortify himself for the coming day.
By "fortify," a person means that a few sips of tea might give the volunteer some much-needed strength for their ordeal
It takes another half an hour or so before the doctor who had admitted Dewey in the night comes to them.
"Mr. Caliban and Miss Snicton?"
"Snicket," Holly corrects. "Holly Snicket. Dewey Denouement is my uncle through marriage, is he okay?"
"Snicket?" the doctor says in surprise. "Haven't heard that name in a long time."
"You know my family?" Holly asks.
The doctor looks over at the girl from his glasses and gives a knowing smile. "I didn't realize this was a sad occasion."
"Please don't tell me he's dead," Holly gasps. She knew the code of VFD, but she was worried it was the one time that it wasn't.
There is a pause before the doctor answers. "He's going to be fine. He had some internal bleeding as well as water in his lungs. Fortunately, my staff and I were able to stop the bleeding and clear his airways. What was it that pierced his body?"
"A harpoon," Holly answers, knowing that it was a rather bizarre thing to cause internal bleeding.
"And the water?"
"He nearly drowned. After he was shot with the harpoon, he fell backwards into a pond, but I was able to get to him and perform CPR."
"Ah, well I must say you managed to save him just in time."
Relief floods the girl's face and she smiles with tears in her eyes. She is happy that she had saved a family member and she would not lose anyone else. She still felt immense guilt at not being able to save her mother or her father or even Olivia Caliban, whom she knew was in love with her father. She was also pleased that she was no longer a bystander in someone else's story and that she was no longer considered "helpless" but instead a capable volunteer.
"Can I see him?" she asks, wiping away the tears.
"I can only allow family at the moment, so your guardian will have to remain out here."
"That is perfectly fine," Mr. Caliban says. "I won't be her guardian for too much longer."
The smile vanishes from Holly's face when he says that. "W-What do you mean? You're not leaving, are you?"
"No, no Holly, I just meant that you're growing up and capable of making your own decisions. You're not a child anymore Holly Snicket."
She steps forward and hugs Mr. Caliban tightly, feeling a great amount of kinship to the man who had looked out for her before and after she became an orphan.
The girl then follows the doctor to the room in which her uncle resided.
He was laying in a hospital bed, propped up with pillows. He wore a hospital robe, a standard for all patients at the facility wore, but the girl could see the wrappings of bandages beneath them, likely patching up his harpoon wound. He sat sipping a cup of tea and reading a copy of The Daily Punctilio.
"I don't understand why you would want to read all those lies," Holly says entering the room, with the doctor right behind her.
The triplet looks up from his newspaper and stares at the face of his niece. His smile spreads under his moustache and he puts down both his teacup and paper to greet her.
"Well, there is bound to be truth in it one day," he chuckles. He then nods to a chair next to his bed for her to sit down in. The girl obliges and sits, still wearing the bottom half of her concierge uniform.
"I'll leave you two alone," the doctor says. "I'll be back later."
Once the two are alone, Dewey reaches out and grabs the young girl's hand. There were tears forming in his eyes, but the grin still plastered on his face.
"Are you all right?" she asks, wondering if he was hurting in some way and masking it with his smile.
"I am told that crying is a common reaction after narrowly escaping death and uncontrollable laughter is another."
There is much truth in this statement as after barely escaping the clutches of death, your mind may not know how to handle it and give off a reaction that seems out of place at the time, but is merely an expression of great joy and relief of being alive. He then begins laughing aloud and continues for quite some time until Holly can no longer hold it back and joins in. The room fills with their laughter and happiness, echoing off the walls and is done for such a long time that the two wondered if they were going to be told to stop disturbing the peace.
Eventually, their noises of joy die out and they are left in silence for a few moments, contemplating what had happened to them.
"And I suppose I have you to thank for saving my life…"
"We take care of your own. We Snickets take care of our own…" she smiles, not knowing that she had quoted her grandmother and spoken a truth that all members of her family follow.
A/N: Special thanks to Shiranai Atsune and Holly fanatic for the reviews. They mean a lot.