There and Back Again Lane
Ch.1 - I Remember Nothing
It's so dark, so peaceful. I can't feel anything anymore...
Sirius and I are celebrating with Firewhisky at the Three Broomsticks. After seven years and six run-ins with Lord Voldemort and his minions, I finally graduated from Hogwarts. I'm amazed I was ever as young as these third years here for the first time. My godfather's jokingly trying to dissuade me from my life's ambition. "It's such a dangerous profession; you're bound to get hurt," he laughs. With that a discordant note emerges.
"You're dead." I get up from the table barely able to look him in the face as his joy of my success shatters into grief and pity. The sorrow etched on his face is murdering me. "You can't be here," I tell him, continuing to back away. One look around the room reveals my worst fears, that all the pub-goers are those who had died to get me to that point, where I was. There's Cedric chatting up Madam Rosmerta, Mum and Dad coming to stand behind Sirius for moral support. All eyes in the pub turn towards me. "Neither can you, Harry," Sirius answers.
I don't try to fight the tears, but they just won't come. I realise he's dead and that, like so many of these faces I will never see again, it was my fault. I don't know how many hours I've spent awake imagining how things should have been different, and how many sleeping hours I relived each second of their deaths. It's just too much. There's no hatred in their expressions, just sickening concern and distressing pity.
"Harry," Sirius's voice reverberates within me, shattering my heart as I try to stopper my ears. I feel his hand clasp my shoulder. "Harry, you have to go back." Back to the noise, the stench of death, the crying? No. "You have to seal the prophecy, you have to live." I know he's telling me the truth, but I don't care. My friends and family have paid my blood price, I deserve to go on. Instead of them.
"You don't belong here, Harry." He now sounds like so many people who've gone before me, and starts to look like them too. Luna was right – you do see them again. So many I could have prevented. I was too late, again.
"Go!" A shove in the back and out into the world.
I must have been dreaming. Damnable hell. I feel every part of my body shattered, ablaze, and rent. My breathing is laboured and I feel bubbles forming on my lips. Sucking chest wound, goes well with my broken legs. Can't seem to feel my right arm. Please, don't look at it. Can't see much anyway – just shapes, ever darkening. Bloody hell.
Through the almost insurmountable physical agony, I'm beginning to remember my friends falling trying to give me more time. I felt their deaths as he murdered them. But I had to hold on until it was time. I had to.
Someone please end this... no, wrong way to think. Did we win? I can't hear anything now, but faint images shift in front of me. Maybe that's a face. I try to ask who it is, but my lips don't move. I attempt to raise my arms to touch it, but they refuse. Don't know whether to laugh or cry, so I settle, unsuccessfully, for both. Why aren't I unconscious yet? So many, so many...
The dead. They're fading from me. I'm trying to remember, but they're too many, they're slipping away to quickly for me to grasp. Oh, there's a tear, some part of me declares as I feel a faint trail of wetness find its way to my ear. Great triumph.
There's a voice. It's distant but just audible. I recognise it but can't place it. Can't even tell whether its male or female. "He did it, he did it," is all it says. I guess that means me...
Voice. Who is it? Dunno. Male, I think.
"We've done test after test," he says, "and it's always the same result." Must be a Healer.
"That can't be true," declares a familiar female voice. Who's that?
"Perhaps it would have been better to have let him die," another proclaims. Oh, thank you, so kind. Troll. Yet I know that voice too, as if it were my own.
"The Obliviators will take care of that," the Healer declares. "And the Ministry will help him reintegrate into Muggle society."
Small bloody consolation, ending up like Lockhart. Er, what was that last bit again?
"I can't believe it," the woman pleads. "Harry Potter's a Squib."
It was five years since the car crash that changed my life. I'd hired a car to take Mum and Dad to Heathrow for their twentieth anniversary. I'd tried to pass a container lorry when it veered in front of us. My attempts to swerve away caused the car to flip. They perished immediately. I spent four months in hospital. Strange that I can scarcely remember my parents at all, though I dream about that day more often than I care to recall.
But my life isn't all tragedy. After a year in traction, most of which I can't remember either, I was released back into the world and able to continue my chemistry studies at the University of Edinburgh. Two years after that, I met her.
I was back in London, emerging from a record shop to celebrate my most recent wretched break-up with a few mates when I bumped into her. Literally, spilling the contents of her satchel on to the pavement. To this day, I've no idea how I missed seeing her vivid red hair but she seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Stammering an apology, I helped collect her things. She, in the midst of mumbled imprecations as we kneeled to pick the pages strewn on the ground, fell on to her backside in what I later discovered was gobsmacked recognition.
"Er, I'm Ginny Weasley," she announced, extending a hand in greeting. "We went to school together." I blurted my name and was about to mumble an awkward remonstrance that certainly I would have remembered her if we had – or another tired one-liner – when something about her beautiful face, her hair seemed so familiar. So much like home. I forgot completely about the friends I was to meet and invited her to a cosy nearby pub. We've been together ever since.
We're a peculiar pair, I the staid scientist and she the homeopathic apprentice healer. She has the most extraordinary sense of everyday fashion, simple but slightly, wonderfully odd whereas my clothes are blandly ordinary. Her sense of humour is lethal and wide-ranging while mine tends to the dry. We're murderous at parties, rounding in on our less quick-witted company like wolves on a herd of sheep. We can communicate with the merest look but we both of us have secrets in which neither of us pry too deeply. Together, we're also a terror to electrical equipment.
I remember our first big row clearly, though not the reason(s) why. There we were, happily shouting at one another, when the toaster next to my hand caught alight and the telephone sizzled in its wall-mount next to her. We could barely look at each other for shame after that. Then there was the day she sat on my lap as I was working on my laptop. Thankfully I had already saved my work, because the computer began to smoulder. It must have been jealous because the technician could find nothing otherwise wrong with it. Much to my – and likely the technician's – chagrin, Ginny still won't sit on my lap if I'm working.
I'd better finish this off. We're off to see her brothers in London for their blessing to our engagement, and it's my turn to clean the owl's cage. Yeah, she has a snowy owl as a pet. Quite an affectionate bird, our Hedwig. And as I give my sweet slumbering lass a peck on the forehead before receiving a nibble from my other girl, I know this is the best of all possible worlds.