For as long as I can remember, a cherry tree has stood in the backyard of the Burrow. Over time, young cherry seedlings have taken root around it, half-sheltered underneath it's leaves, like baby chicks crowding around their mother hen. That cherry tree is a good tree for climbing; way up in its branches there are excellent places to sit, places useful for hiding. For many years, these niches have been my little secret havens, my own special places to go when I need time to think. This is where I sit now, propped up with my back against one fork of a branch and my feet against the other, my hands comfortably wrapped around overhanging boughs.
The silence seems to be peacefully unbearable, if there is such a thing. It's not even true silence; I can hear countless birds chirping in the surrounding trees, though none come into my cherry tree. But everything else is buried in stillness, as even the reporters and Ministry officials have gone away to deal with other things. The everyday sounds of life in the Burrow are silenced forever, and it's only now that I realize how precious they were to me. I sit with my back to the spot where our house once stood; I don't need to see the blackened, charred remains of the building. That is a sight that is burned into my memory forever, and I have no need to look at it any longer.
Instead, I look up into a veritable sea of white blossoms, blossoms so pure they seem to blend in with the innocent, fluffy clouds floating in the sky, the whiteness only broken by patches of bright blue here and there. White is the color of innocence, the color of purity. The color of spring, of new life, perhaps. New life, while I sit surrounded by destruction. I vaguely recall 'albus' being the Latin word for white. How unfair it seems, that these cherry blossoms remain so pure when Albus Dumbledore's blood is frozen in his veins, frozen by the Killing Curse. How ironic it all is.
A breeze stirs, causing a shower of snowy petals to detach from their stems and swirl down in a cloud around me. I lean back against the branch supporting me, realizing that it's only about five inches in diameter. Still, I'm balanced well, and I still hold the branches above my head. With a soft sigh, my eyes drift shut, and another breeze breathes upon my skin. I can feel a few stray petals drift across my face, lighting only a moment before they are swept away by the winds.
Beautiful. It is spring, and everything in nature is beautiful and new. Why, then, is there so much death? It's still afternoon, and yet this morning everything was fine. This morning I had been in the Burrow, helping Mum dye Easter Eggs for my little nephews. I took a quick trip into town, just to pick up a few ingredients for a cake, then came home to find nothing left of my home but a burnt foundation, nothing left of my family but my mother and father's wedding rings lying in the dust, and the Dark Mark floating in the sky. All this on such a beautiful spring day.
My home was not the only place attacked today. Voldemort had finally decided to raid Hogwarts, leaving a massacre in his wake. No one knows how he managed to accomplish it, but the Dark Lord brought the school to its knees. The news was all over town by noon; the entire school staff, dead, including the newest professor, Hermione Granger. Hermione, who was to be my sister-in-law come June. Perhaps it is a blessing that Ron was killed before he heard, because I don't think he could deal with losing her.
After several long moments, I open my eyes and stare at the branch above me. Carved into the bark are the initials "GW & HP", encircled by a heart. I put them there my first year at Hogwarts, when I had become infatuated with Harry Potter and thought it would be romantic to carve my initials into a tree alongside his. But Harry had been killed today before noon, and news of his murder sent a great cry up among the wizarding world. There is no hope left; the boy who lived has died. There is no one left to save us. No one.
Slowly, I remove my hands from the branch I'm holding to, using only my back and my legs to keep myself balanced. "I won't fall. I'm safe here, and I can't fall." I tell myself. But then another breeze comes, a stronger breeze, and I feel my branch swaying. "I will not fall." I repeat in my mind, staunchly resisting the urge to reach up and grip the branch and keeping my hands folded on my stomach instead. But there is fear in my heart; I am afraid to fall.
Another breeze, and I instinctively reach up with both hands to grab the bough above. I can feel my pulse pounding through my palms, and it seems to be beating my heart right into the tree. An idea strikes me: I can let go. I can fall, my neck will snap, and I won't have to be alone. Everyone I love is dead.....why should I go on? It's an intriguing idea. I unwrap my fingers from around the bark, slowly bringing my hands down to rest on my stomach again. I close my eyes and wait for the breeze to come again, half hoping it will cause me to become overbalanced.
The breeze does stir, but not violently enough for me to die. Instead, the branches above my head are parted with the wind, and I feel the sun shining full on my face. Somewhere inside, something tells me that I have to live. I was not meant to die today, or I would have been killed with those around me. I will live. I have no choice.
I sit up, holding on to the branches once more. The wind blows a shower of cherry blossoms into my face, reminding me how fresh and clean spring is. Spring will always come, no matter how cold the winter. No matter how deep the darkness.
I will not fall.