Just Like Him
Disclaimer: All of this is based upon the lovely J.K. Rowling's work.
Warning: HBP Spoilers
He's so much like Tom.
So very much.
The same colouring. The same sad smile. The same hooded look in his eyes, as though he fears I might attack him at any moment.
They are just so much alike. Both half-bloods. Both lost and alone. Both were hurt by those they trusted, by those that are supposed to love them.
They hold their friends tightly, not wanting to let go. They hide in the shadows from their enemies, hoping to be left alone.
"I'm sorry, my boy. There is nothing I can do. The Ministry rules are clear. There must be undeniable proof of abuse. There just can't be a suspicion. There has to be proof."
"I'm sorry, but there is nothing I can do."
But a little voice whispers in my mind, 'Are you sure? There must be something. You could watch closer. Snoop deeper, but you won't. You're too much of a coward. You're afraid of what you might find.'
I think that I am afraid. I fear that I'm right. I fear that my actions have hurt a student, a much loved student… the one I love as a son.
He is so much like Tom. He strikes back at us, his anger evident in everything. He shouts and yells and screams, but we aren't really listening. We just pretend and hope that it will go away.
But it doesn't. He just learns to keep it inside better.
And the guilt comes. I look at him but avoid his eyes because I can't stare into them anymore without breaking down.
He is just like Tom.
I have failed them both.
"I am sorry, my boy. I am sorry that the other students hurt you. I can punish them, give detentions… but maybe not even those. I am not sure if their behaviour fits under the category of punishable offences. At least, not by the school."
"Their actions were criminal… are criminal, but it is up to the Ministry to punish them. It won't do us any good though; I can't report them. They are only children."
"I am sorry, my boy. Please, don't look at me that way."
He is so much like Tom. He distrusts me more every day. He looks at me with those eyes that are so much like his mother's. I remember when she was a student as well. Has it really been that long ago?
He just stares at me, as though not really seeing anything. He does so much and receives so little credit for it. He tries so hard, but everyone ignores it all. They only see the bad in him. He is their whipping boy, and no matter how hard I try, I can't change any of it.
He falls… falls, falling, fallen into the deep places where I can't follow.
"Please, come back to me. Why won't you come back?"
Maybe it's because you can't. You are in so far that you can't escape.
But he does; he crawls from the deep, bloody and broken. He confesses it all and cries as he tells me everything, as he whispers every sin. He doesn't want forgiveness or redemption. No, he wants punishment. He wants… needs to be punished.
But I can't do it. I am as much to blame.
"Help me," I whisper to him. "Become a spy for me. Tell me what he is doing. Help me to save others."
He agrees to my request.
He works tirelessly, toeing the line between life and death, madness and sanity. He endures torture and whispers the words of salvation for others as he tells me Tom's plans.
And suddenly, Tom is gone, but he isn't free. He hides in the shadows for fifteen years, maintaining his contacts and doing my bidding. But we grow close during that time, closer than we were.
I speak to him everyday, and he has tea with me twice a week. It starts out awkwardly enough, but things soon change. I see him smile, faintly at first. Then, I actually hear him laugh. He opens up to me, while to everyone else he is a closed shell.
But then, the worst thing imaginable happens.
And all that I had worked for crumbles.
He doesn't laugh anymore or even smile.
He only trembles.
And Tom orders a child to kill me. He orders a child and holds fear for his family over him. And my boy… my dear boy takes a vow to help him, save him.
Now, one of us has to die, and I know who I will pick to live.
"Please, my boy," I beg him. "Please."
And I know that he will do it. I know because he loves me as he has never loved anyone else.
He's not like Tom in that respect. Tom never loved anyone, not even himself.
"Please," I plead once more with my eyes, sending him my true intentions.
But still, he hesitates. He doesn't want to do it.
His eyes beg me in return, 'Anything but that…'
"Please," I say once more.
And finally, he nods… just an almost unperceivable shake of his head.
Only I see it.
I have to fight a smile, but then, I realize that I am going to lose him. From here on out, I will be alone but only for a time.
But still, I want to cry. I'm going to lose him. This will destroy him, but he has to do it. He knows that he must, but maybe he can save himself in the end.
He begins to lose his resolve, and I ask once more.
He just looks at me once last time. He stares at me with that blank expression that reminds me so much of Tom.
But Tom would never act out of love like he is doing.
He stares for a minute and brings up his wand.
'Maybe,' I finally realize as the green light rushes towards me, as I see the look, the love in his eyes. 'Maybe he isn't like Tom at all.'
Special thanks to Hobbit_Tabby for the beta.