Title: Such Great Heights
Author: Aelan Greenleaf
Summary: War is hell. Years after the Final Battle, the man remembers, and writes the letter he has written so many times before. Post Hogwarts; one shot
A/N: I'm seriously so obsessed with the Harry Potter universe right now. Memories of Star Wars are slowly fading away... :P
Everything looks pefect from far away... - Such Great Heights, The Postal Service
We were kids, once. Youngsters, children, adolescents, teenagers. And yet, we were soldiers all the same. A new generation, a generation whose goal, it seemed, was to right the wrongs of the past, to save those who had come before and those who would come after.
I'm looking outside the window, and I can see it's a beautiful day. It's gorgeous, in fact. The sky's clear, no clouds in sight. The sun beats down onto the ground, warming the plants and the grass and the creatures. This is the day that dreams are made off.
There's an owl sitting outside, and I wish I could let her in, but I can't. She's been there a long, long time, holding a letter that, like so many others, bears my name. If I answer, if I let her in, it'd be like telling the whole world that I'm still here, that I'm still alive. And I don't want that.
I'm not very old, but I feel ancient. My body is still young, but in my chest, I know, beats the heart of an old man. I can feel it in my joints, in my bones, in my blood. I've seen too much, and I've done too much evil to be able to simply be young anymore. My time's gone; I should have died long ago. But I didn't, and I don't believe in suicide. So here I remain. Forever entombed.
How pessimistic. How cynical. I sound whiny, depressed, morbid, even to my own ears. But I swear I'm not, I swear, darling. I'm not trying to make it worse than it seems, I'm not trying to ruin everything by over-exaggerating. This is, simply, the way that it is.
There's a child, outside, playing on her bike. And there's a boy nearby, older, watching over her carefully, ruefully, as she glides without fear on her two-wheeled contraption. I never got to ride a bike. My cousin did, though. He had several, and he'd ride them once or twice, break them, then throw them away. I tried to put the pieces back together once; all I wanted was to feel the wind in my hair as I rode away, but the bike was beyond repair and I had known all along it would prove fruitless.
She's so happy, that little girl. I don't blame her; how could she not be? The day is wondrous, her brother is watching over her, and she's as free as can be. Up and down and up and down, she goes, on the street before me. Did you ever ride a bike, love? Do wizard families even have bikes? I hope you did; I hope you felt once that feeling of being utterly, entirely, absolutely, free.
I move away from the window.
We lost so much, didn't we? War is hell; I know it and you know it and everyone who was there knows it. The loss of innocence was so sudden that we didn't even realize it was gone. We went from child to adult in an instant, without that awkward phase that is so essential to human existence. We were never young, were we? Maybe you, with your playful grin and restless eyes.
I miss you, but you knew that, right? Of course. I always put this into my letters. I make sure of it. It's important to me, important that you know that I'm still capable of feeling something. Anything. I miss you every night when the stars appear, when I remember the nights when the fighting would stop and we'd sit beneath the sky, just sitting, just watching as the universe spun around and around. We were idealistic then.
How old is your daughter now? Seven, eight? She must look just like you, beautiful as always. And your husband, he's an Auror, right? That's wonderful. I'm slightly envy of your life, of the normality, of the love between all of you. I find it amazing, incredible and very honourable that he could accept a child that was not his into his heart. I don't know if I could do the same.
I know you wonder why I never read your mail, why I always seem to write to you with the same messages, with the same words. I think, mostly, that it's because I want to write to the you that I remember, the girl that loved me so long ago. It's selfish, I won't deny it, but it's what I want. A part of me is still stuck in the past, still the eighteen year-old boy from the war. Man. I suppose by then I was a man.
A man that had done too much, love, a man that had committed too many crimes. I know you wonder why I left that day; I know you must because I still read the papers from our world, I know that they still wonder where I am. I think it's important that you know that I didn't leave because of you. I think it's important that you know that you were my only reason for staying.
I think it's important that you know that by the time I left that blood-stained field, I wasn't the man you loved anymore.
Horcruxes. Do you remember when I told you about them? When I found the last, when I could finally destroy it, the curse that I had to perform, the spell that was the weapon that would kill, was one of such horror and of sin that I swear it made me cry. A sacrifice. And he was the first to volunteer.
I had to kill my best friend to destroy the Dark Lord.
Most of me died. The part that's left, the part that's writing you this letter, is only the charred remains of what used to be a 'hero'. The Chosen One, they called me. Yeah, chosen for what? To murder an innocent, to murder the first friend I had ever had. When my blade pierced his heart, it took mine with him.
And that's what I want you to know, love. Your brother was the world to me; he didn't die in vain. I hope someday you'll forgive me for what I've done.
Tell her stories about him, okay? Tell her stories about her uncle and his best friend, before everything fell down. Tell her... tell her the half-truths. It's better than the lies.