Title: Against All Odds
Author: Aelan Greenleaf
Category: Romance, Angst
Summary: Companion piece to 'Such Great Heights'. Even though he never reads them, she keeps on writing her letters, one at a time, to the man who once was.
A/N: Okay, I know this song is originally by Phil Collins, but I'm going with the "The Postal Service" theme, so I used their cover of "Against All Odds" as inspiration. Just so you know.
You're the only one who really knew me at all... - Against All Odds, The Postal Service
Today, the skies are dark, and it's raining, like it has for the past week. Dark clouds bearing evil omens, filling up the horizon with themselves. I'm writing this at the window, in my old room, the one I had when I was young and innocent. Well, never quite innocent. I don't anyone is really ever innocent.
Your letter arrived yesterday, bore by an strange owl. It's strange not to see the familiar white wings spread as Hedwig lands at the window, but I can tell you, your daughter really enjoyed her birthday present. I said it was from one of her uncles, but I could tell behind the elation and the surprise, she didn't believe me. She's quite omniscient, for an eight year-old.
I'm feeling worn, Harry. Worn out. Old. Useless. I know, that's silly, right? My husband tells me all the time. And I'm not old, I'm not even thirty. But, as you so philosophically put it, we've seen too much, you and I. Maybe that's why we were so good together; we were united, ancient spirits in bodies too young to hold them.
I never had a bike. You asked, I answered. You'll never read this, but maybe one day you'll pick up one of these letters and read it, out of curiosity and lust for the past. I know in my heart that you won't, but I'll keep writing for that impossible hope. It's like therapy, cheap therapy, these parchments that I soak with ink and tears for you.
No bicycle, was my point, wizards usually get brooms. I never had either, my mother really wanted me to be the girl. Two X chromosomes in a sea of Y's, and my mum was determined that her boys wouldn't ruin me. Damn near impossible, really. I could ride a broom by six, sneaking around late at night, when my brothers finally went to sleep and I could be alone, at peace. And free. I could be free then, when the moon was high and the world was silent, as if everyone and everything went away for a little while, just to let me be. That's why night is my favourite. That's why I love the dark.
I read every letter you send me, you know. Every single damned one. When that owl comes tapping, screeching in the early dawn, I'm right there, pulling it from its' hold, silently grasping a link to the past. My husband, he knows, but he doesn't care. He loves me even more for it, and that's why I'm so devoted to him. Because he understands me, even the parts that I don't really understand myself.
Do you really still love me, Harry? Or do you love the notion of me, the idea of me? Do you love that red-haired teenager, the one who waited for you when you went off to fight another generation's war? Because, I hate to break it to you, that girl died a long time ago. She died when the one she loved never came back. My hair's not red, it's brown, and my eyes don't burn so brightly anymore. That's what sorrow and grief can do to you; it changes everything. I wonder, if you passed me on the street, would you still know me? Or would you be looking for that teenager, laughing and smiling from so long ago?
It kind of sounds like I hate you, doesn't it? I don't hate you, but I don't know if I love you. Okay, never mind, of course I still love you, but in a different way, you know? I was bitter and resentful at first, when the fighting ended and you didn't come home. You left me with a broken heart and a confused daughter, an infant who would never see her father come home. I know in your mind you were protecting us, you were shielding us from yourself, but I can tell you right now that the best thing you could have ever done for us was to just come home.
She knows that the man she calls Dad isn't her father. She's known since the beginning that there was something, someone, missing. You tell me to tell her the half-truths, the half-lies, and I do. I tell her stories, at night, before she goes to sleep, about the man who saved the world. I tell her the stories of when we were young, and we were all so excited and devoted and true. She knows that you're still alive and that you're not here, but somehow, she doesn't hate you either. I guess both of us have that same defective part, the part that loves you no matter what.
Weird, isn't it?
I don't blame you for Ron's death; I really don't. Even at first, when Hermione came staggering into the Burrow, crying and sobbing and screaming, I wasn't angry with you. Somehow, I was strangely numb. It took time for me to realize the brother I had always kept close was gone, and that he wasn't coming back. That the brother I loved died by your hand. And still, I wasn't angry. All I wanted was for both of you to come home, to come walking through that door, weary and tired, but whole.
But you never came, and the dead stayed buried.
She loves you, Harry, and she doesn't even know you. That's how much we wanted you back. But love doesn't make a man whole again, and you and I, we're just silhouettes, shadows, of the people we used to be. The great pretenders of our age.
The past has a habit of staying buried, it seems, in this new world.