Disclaimer: The characters and anything else relating to the Harry Potter universe belong to J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers. I make no money from writing this story. Story is Loosely based around the James Blunt song "You're Beautiful", from which I also make no money.
I Saw an Angel
I step from the too crowded train compartment, jammed like the school corridors at lunchtime. The fermented smell of wet hair and coats crammed into a hot, humid space was beginning to make me giddy, and the dust filled air of the platform is a relief. Grey-suited Muggles stream past me. They do not notice me - if they do, they do not show it. I stand as a rock in the midst of their river and crane my neck to see the poorly designed map that holds no geographical relevance to anything above ground.
I am on the wrong platform.
Too late, I follow the swarm to the now deserted escalator. I shift uncomfortably and glance around at the vandalised tiles, eyes sharp to any movement. Cold air begins to sting my eyes, and I pull my coat tighter about me. Seventeen years in the highlands and a chill still makes me shudder. I consider tugging my hair from its ponytail - there's no one around to recognise me – but I just hunch my back, sinking further into the collar of my coat.
The station's upper level acts as the perfect wind tunnel for the 'brisk' (meaning frigid) February breeze and I lengthen my stride to platform four. Three teenagers beat me to the turnstiles and I wait. I long for a watch to look at and tut, or to tap my foot, but I don't, breaking a strong-rooted habit.
One of the boys doesn't understand how it works. Sodding country bumpkins. He's trying to put the card in the wrong way up. I look to his friends, but they have gone. I look around for someone to show him the right way, but there is no one else, so I step forward.
But he has got it right. He sprints through the gates before they can close again and, as he grabs his ticket back on the other side, I see him slip a thin stick of wood into an inside pocket. My eyes narrow as I follow him.
I lengthen my stride to keep the red-headed boy in my sights. He does not notice me. Why should he? London is riddled with so-called gothics. Lanky black hair and a sour expression is not so peculiar here as in any other part of the world. Even so, I make an effort to keep my footsteps quiet. He has caught up, now. His friends smile, but it does not reach their eyes. They talk with their heads close together.
There is a girl whose brown hair is tied away from her face. She is nervous and keeps glancing around. I think she spots me, pauses for a moment. I look her up and down, scowl a bit. She looks quickly away. Her Muggle up-bringing makes her easily intimidated, and I can use it to my advantage.
The boy makes up the trio. His face is so familiar and yet so changed. I still remember him as the runtish, insolent boy he probably hides inside. His face has matured. His cheekbones are high and there is a small cut at the corner of his mouth. He's grown again since I last saw him -- towered over him and yelled at him. He is handsome, I suppose.
He does not look back and I am pleased I only have to watch that accusing green gaze graze the walls and floor. We are alone in the great echoing tunnel that leads deeper, deeper underground, but I cannot hear their words. They talk over each other and hiss in whispers, and I trail too far behind them. But it's of no consequence. I'm in no hurry. Our destinations are the same and I have no desire to be recognised.
I am in the soot-stained hole in the ground that is platform five. Weak, yellow lights work so badly you can discern their flicker, like a strobe that flashes too quickly. There is a small group of children who have skipped the day off school. They look shifty, aggressive, as if hoping for a challenge from authority. A homeless man sleeps on one bench. My three ex-students are on the other.
Granger and Weasley are arguing in whispers. I can only see her angry face, his is turned from me, but I can imagine. Potter stands and walks away, looking tired of the situation -- of life, perhaps? He is walking towards me. I can tell from his hunched stance he is trying to tune them out -- maybe trying to tune out the world -- and have a moment to his own thoughts.
I back against the wall. He is coming closer and closer and I don't want to be seen here, like this, by him.
He passes by me, and I can see his face clearly for a split second. He has a light stubble down his jawline that suits him. A scar splits one eyebrow, and I remember how he came by it one night, over two years ago. His mouth is set and that cut is recent. The blood is still a vivid red that scores half-way to his chin. He has made the most of the ever-messy hair, styled into something resembling the fashion. Practical, though. It covers his scar almost completely.
I change my mind about my previous assertion. He is not quite handsome. He is beautiful, and it hurts.
I think for a moment on how things might have turned out had he not been his father's son, had I never been a Death Eater, had Albus Dumbledore never died. My logical mind takes pleasure weighing up that hypothesis -- would things have been different? -- and joyfully declaring it would all still be the same. We would still be strangers on a platform.
Something makes his lips quirk. He is looking at his hands, which hold a small photograph of a girl with red hair. I sneer and tell myself I am happy with the way things are.
A rush of hot air passes through the tunnel and he looks over his shoulder. His friends are still arguing. He stashes the photo back in his pocket and is in the process of turning round when those searchlight eyes settle on me; see me.
But I am already moving to the train. I do not have to look to see the green fire in his eyes that burnt me a month ago. I am on the train with the door closing behind me.
I look out the window. He is talking with his friends, pointing at me. He has his hand in his pocket, he is drawing his wand-
But she stops him. Her eyes are wide and she nods to the schoolkids just climbing aboard the train. She pulls him to another carriage up by the driver. I smirk at them, at their hatred, but my heart isn't in it. I hate myself too much.