Marisa Coulter was sitting in a her small London apartment late one night causally working on her new project for the magisterium. Her life finally seemed like it was finding order again after her miserable affair and trial with Asriel Belacqua. Although she still turned heads wherever she went, the whispers of her infidelity, her husbands murder, and her bastard child finally had died down. It took some time, but she managed to manipulate the magisterium into allowing her to continue to study the nature of Dust. She was halfway through reading the latest report on the effects of Dust on children when she heard the doorman ring for her. She sighed deeply expecting it to be Father Macphail or one of the other miserable magisterium twats whom failed to heed her instruction not to bother her after 10pm.
Marisa made her way down the hall adjusting her elegant satin robe, Oz trailing silently behind her.
“Who is it?” She called into the intercom.
“I have an Asriel Belacqua and a Lyra Belacqua here to see you Ma’am” the doorman called back.
Marisa felt as if all the air had left her lungs. The two people who she had tried so hard to forget over the last three and a half years were suddenly here, at her apartment, only a few floors below her.
Asriel had just returned home to Jordan College from one of his trips north. He had much to discuss with his fellow scholars in attempt to secure more funding for his research, which is why he was angered that the Master had demanded a private audience as soon as he returned. He thought for sure he was going to receive a lecture about the heretical research he was conducting but he begrudgingly agreed anyways.
“Ahhh Asriel it’s good to see you!” The Master greeted as he walked into the retiring room, Stel by his side.
“Master, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Asriel greeted back with fake sincereness.
“I’m afraid this is a rather grave matter regarding Lyra.”
Asriel was immediately intrigued as this was not the conversation he was expecting to have.
“Lyra got sick a few weeks ago and we assumed it was a normal cold or the flu. She had a fever and was extremely fatigued, but when she did not get better within a week I rung the doctor to check her out. When he could not determine the problem we had her brought to the hospital where they ran a bunch of tests. Asriel I’m afraid that Lyra has leukemia.” The Master finished solemnly.
Asriel sat in stunned silence for a few seconds. He was trying to wrap is brain around what the Master had just told him.
“Leu-leukemia as in the cancer?” Asriel clarified as Stel began to pace around the room no longer able to lay still, betraying Asriel’s own unease.
“Where is she now?”
“In her room resting. Ms. Lonsdale is with her now. They wish to start chemotherapy as soon as possible but they need your permission to do so as you are her legal guardian.”
Asriel nodded in understanding, “what are the doctors saying about her condition, will she live?”
“They believe so, but Asriel I must warn you, chemotherapy, especially on a child as young as Lyra, can be harmful. They told me that they are most likely going to have to give her a bone marrow transplant, and the waiting lists for such a procedure are long. There is however a small chance that one of her parents could be a match.”
Asriel gripped the back of the chair he was standing behind feeling ready to explode. His anger at himself for not being there to prevent this, and more so his anger at The Authority for allowing an innocent child to contract such an ugly illness was almost too much to bear.
“How do they test to see if I am a match?”
“I believe it is just a simple blood test done at the hospital. I imagine it wouldn’t take but a few days to get the results back.”
Asriel only gave a slight nod of his head in acknowledgment, “then I shall go get this test at once.”
He grabbed his coat preparing to leave before he was stopped by the Master with a hand on his arm, “Asriel we will do everything in our power to see to it that your little girl gets better. Perhaps you should take a few moments to visit her first though. She has been asking for you.”
“I am going to get this test done now. Let the girl sleep. I will see her in the morning.”
“As you wish.”
As Asriel made his way out of Jordan college and over to the hospital he focused only on controlling his breathing not paying mind to anyone or anything he passed by. Stel was stalking beside him much the same.
‘Asriel you will have to face the girl eventually.’ Stel thought to him.
‘I am aware of that.’ He thought back. ‘But not now, not tonight.’
The test was as easy as the Master said it was. While he was at the hospital Asriel was able to talk to one of the doctors who had seen Lyra, and was given much of the same information just a bit more technical. He tuned it out but thanked the doctor for his time anyway. On his way out Asriel took note of how all the nurses and doctors stopped and stared, and for the first time in his life they all seemed to be looking at him in pity. The great and scandalous Lord Asriel was accustomed to looks of admiration, jealousy, and sometimes even fear, but never pity. He gritted his teeth out of frustration. He did not want pity. He wanted to get the stupid test back, make sure Lyra got better, and go back to his normal life.
Once he made it back to Jordan it was quite late at night. He did not even bother to stop by the mess hall for a meal, instead making his way straight to his room, luckily undisturbed. That night he hardly slept at all, instead tossing and turning restlessly.
The next morning he made his way down to Lyra’s room. The young child was still asleep. Another one of the kitchen staff was by her side nodding off herself. When Asriel opened the door the young woman looked rather relieved to be relinquished from her duties. With a polite nod the woman left father and daughter alone.
Asriel approached the bed with trepidation. Even in sleep Lyra’s little face seemed to be screwed up in pain. Her soft brown curls slick with sweat were sticking to her head, Pan in his signature ermine form curled up by her neck was looking as equally uncomfortable. As Asriel eased down to sit at the edge of her bed, Stel gave a quick lick to Pans soft head.
‘They’re too warm.’ Stel thought.
Asriel merely sighed realizing that there wasn’t much he could do about that. He reached forward to brush a strand of hair out of the girls face which caused her eyelids to flutter.
“Un-uncle?” Lyra mumbled, still in the process of waking up.
“Hello little one.” Asriel responded.
As she woke up more Lyra began to sit up to face her ‘uncle’ better.
“You’re back” Lyra said with tired enthusiasm. “I’m sick Uncle.”
“I know Lyra, but the doctors are going to make you better.”
“Will you stay in Oxford till I get better?” Lyra questioned innocently.
“Good.” Lyra said, settling back down. Even the brief interaction took much of her energy, and her eyelids already began closing again.
“Get some rest Lyra.” Asriel said as he quietly got up and moved towards the door before pausing to take a last look at her sleeping form instinctively rubbing his hand over his face is disarray.
Once back at his office he found a note lying on his desk. Apparently the doctors had sped up the process of his test, and the results were lying in front of him.
‘At least your name still counts for something.’ Stel noted.
Asriel just grunted in response before opening the piece of paper. He slammed his fist down on the desk as he read the results. He was not a match.
At that moment the Master walked into the office, “Ah Asriel, I called in a favor with one of my friends at the hospital and they were able to...” the Master trailed off after taking a look at Asriel’s face. “I’m guessing you weren’t a match then?”
“No.” Asriel responded grimly.
The Master then began shifting his weight unable to voice the thoughts forming in his head.
“If you have something to say Master then say it.” Asriel said agitated.
“Well sir, you are not the only relative Lyra has. I believe there is a woman whom shares half of Lyra’s DNA, she may...”
“Absolutely not!” Asriel exclaimed cutting him off. “Neither Lyra nor I will have anything to do with that woman ever.”
“Asriel, I understand your anger toward Mrs. Coulter, but those donor waitlists are long, and while the doctors believe they can cure Lyra because they caught it early on, the longer she has to wait for treatment the worse her chances of survival get.”
Asriel slumped forward, putting his head in his hands, unable to comprehend the dilemma he was facing.
“Just think about it.” The Master said before leaving.