"You never know which way the path will lead you until you reach your destination and even then it might not be what you expected"
I still don't like the way everyone looks at me. It's been four years and I still hate it. You would think I was some particularly interesting zoological specimen or some such nonsense. They are always watching me, always judging me, always wondering whose side I am really on. I know some of them still think I killed him…they…they think I am capable of…of that.
No, I am not ashamed to say that I have cried. Yeah, call me the Boy Who Cried. Well, wouldn't you if someone you knew was killed like that right in front of your eyes…as if he was nothing more than a nuisance…like a fly buzzing around your ear? It's not as if I want anyone to go through that but they just don't understand. I could not do anything. I was powerless.
When I think back over what has happened to me over the last four years, it still amazes me. I could never have seen this coming. Being a wizard. Finding out the truth about my parents. Finding friends. Finding enemies. Saving lives. Not being able to prevent death. Finding a home.
Yes, Hogwarts is the home I never had. It is a part of me and somehow, despite everything that has happened within its walls, I still feel safe here…well, safer than anywhere else. It is not so much that I feel protected by some ancient spell…it's because I have friends here, good friends…great friends.
Friends…but no family.
I draw my knees up to my chin and hug them tightly to myself. For a moment, I close my eyes and remember what I saw in the Mirror of Erised. I don't know if I miss them. How do you miss someone you never really met? I am not even sure I love them. How do you love someone you never really knew? I know they loved me. I know they loved me more than anything. What do I feel? Regret? Anger?
I wish Sirius were here. He's the closest thing to a father that I have and he's who-knows-where right now. I hope he's all right. Dumbledore sent him off to gather up the old crowd. I wanted him to stay…at least for a while. Seems like he is always running off somewhere…always running. Those years in Azkabhan…I don't know how he survived…how he escaped. I can't even begin to imagine what he has been through…thinking about it makes me ill. He sees Dad in me…I know he does…but he sees Mum as well. It must be hell to look at me and remember my parents because I know he will always blame himself for what happened to them. I don't but that's small consolation to him. Sometimes I envy him because he has so many memories of them and then I get upset with myself for being selfish. Memories are all he has. Well, that's not entirely true…he does have Professor Lupin. At least he has one friend who believes in him. And he has me…even though I almost killed him.
The thought of Professor Lupin almost makes me smile…almost. I will always associate him with the smell of chocolate. I shudder involuntarily when I remember his painful transformation outside the Shrieking Shack. But, even worse, was the expression on his face when he left Hogwarts. I don't think I have ever seen so much shame in anyone's eyes. I'm not ashamed of him…he can't help what he is…it's not as if he had a choice.
Wormtail had a choice too…no, can't let myself think about that too much. Not right now…
I open my eyes to look at Ron, who is throwing stones into the water. He does not have that carefree look about him anymore. He looks rather pensive and I think he is imagining that he is throwing stones at Malfoy…or Fudge…or someone. I envy him sometimes even though I know I shouldn't. I am envious of his family, a family that is warm and loving and nurturing and everything that I could have ever wanted. Everything I will never have.
His mum is so sweet and considerate…makes such great cookies and fudge. Did Mum make fudge or was she hopeless in the kitchen? Ron's dad collects plugs and loves all sorts of muggle things. Did Dad collect anything…did he find the muggles just as fascinating? I will never know and it hurts. Ron can say what he likes about having more siblings than he can shake a wand at but he is luckier than he realizes. I'd like to think that, if my parents had not died, I would have had a few brothers and sisters too. Maybe one of them would have been fearless like Charlie or Bill. Maybe one of them would have been a real prankster like the twins. Maybe one of them would have been ambitious like Percy.
Maybe one of them would have been as loyal a friend as Ron has been to me. I'd like to think so.
And then…then there's Ginny.
I don't know what I think about her. Sometimes she just seems like Ron's younger sister…this little red-haired elf who breezes through the corridors of Hogwarts, lighting up the darkness with her constant smile and infectious laughter. And then, sometimes, that's not who I see at all. I see a beautiful young woman who radiates this constant optimism and goodness that draws me to her. She has not been left unscarred by the past…you just can't see the scars. I see them in this haunted look she gets sometimes when she doesn't realize I'm watching her. I don't know if the others have ever noticed. I have. Even her laughter changed after her first year…it was like she lost her innocence in a way. I really don't know what I feel for her…sometimes I think…maybe…well, there is the way she looks at me sometimes…it's sweet…just like her.
Maybe I like her more than that…maybe…
I shake my head softly and hear the sound of pages turning. That would be Hermione. I look over at her and, surprise, she is reading her favourite book "Hogwarts: A History." Well…maybe she isn't really reading it…it seems she has been looking over the same pages for a rather long time. I glance at her face and am surprised to see tears in her eyes.
That catches me off guard. Hermione crying is a rare thing to see. She is always strong and controlled and seems to have a solution to any problem we have…always knows the right book for us to use. She is the smartest student here and I don't know what we would do without her. But, not only that, she's loyal and is not afraid of taking risks anymore…well, most risks anyhow. She has a good heart…the way she kept Professor Lupin's secret from us still astounds me. She still worries about me and Ron…I'll never forget the way she looked after the First Task…she must have been terrified. I worry about her though because she has muggle parents. I worry that she will be targeted because of that. I have seen how Lucius has looked at her in the past, this predatory look that makes me sick to my stomach, and it never fails to make me furious…as if her birth had anything to do with anything. She is a far better person than he could ever hope to be.
Well, it looks as if Ron has noticed her crying. He's giving her his handkerchief. I wonder…they don't seem to be letting go of it…they're just looking at each other…kind of how Ginny looks at me.
I turn my head quickly…it's not nice to stare. Besides, it's not as if I am surprised. After the Yule Ball, I knew that this would eventually happen.
I pick up a rock and lazily throw it into the lake. I look back at my two friends and they have resumed their original positions…almost as if nothing had happened. But I know better.
"Hey, Harry," Ron suddenly speaks up, "Do you think Dumbledore's right to trust Snape?"
Now there's a question that has been burning inside me for a very long time. I have never liked Snape. In fact, it's safe to say that I hate him. But he did try to save my life and he did regularly make that Wolfsbane Potion for Professor Lupin, despite the obvious fact that he cannot stand either one of us. Deep down, I know he would not do anything to harm me…well, not seriously harm me anyway. I don't think he'd mind a broken leg much. And I do pity him. This assignment that Dumbledore has given him will not be easy. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes for all the gold in Gringotts. As much as I don't want to admit it, I think I can trust him. I may not like him…I definitely do not like him…but I trust him. I must be crazy for thinking that but there you go.
"We have to trust Dumbledore to know what he's doing," I reply.
Trust Dumbledore. Of course we all trust Dumbledore but…why did he look at me like that when I told him about my blood being added to the cauldron? He looked…strange. Ugh…my head is aching and I wish I had never heard of Polyjuice Potion.
"I would be much happier if I never saw Malfoy again," Hermione whispers.
I see Ron look at her with compassion. I think he would hug her if he thought she wouldn't bite his head off. I know she wouldn't.
Draco Malfoy…son of Lucius Malfoy who is certainly the most evil man I know other than Voldemort himself. Vicious. Cunning. Intelligent. Heartless. Sometimes I wonder if he even cares for his son. It doesn't matter. He tried to kill Ginny with that diary back in second year. I'll never forgive him for that and I will never forget. I only wish I could see him suffer the way I saw her suffer. Maybe even someone as cold as him would have relented somewhat if he had seen her the way I saw her in the Chamber of Secrets. The way she clung to me as if I was the only thing left in her world. It scared me…a lot. I hope I never have to see that expression on her face again.
And what about Draco? I don't even want to think about him. He has been nothing but abusive, arrogant and insufferable over the past four years. I can't think of a single good thing he had done…although…he did raise a glass when…
"Maybe we should be on our way," I hear Ron say. I see he is still looking at Hermione.
"I suppose you're right," I hear her answer. She is looking at him again and blushes slightly. So does he.
I am holding my breath…as if I am waiting for one of them to say something…but they don't. Now is not the right time, it seems. But they have an entire lifetime ahead of them. The right time will come soon enough. At least I hope so.
I lie back for a moment and stare at the clouds.
A long time ago, someone chose to make my life different from everyone else's. Someone chose that this so-called greatness should be thrust upon me. Someone chose to take my family away from me and leave me to fight against an evil that threatens to destroy everything that is important…my friends and our future. Someone chose that everyone would know my name. Someone chose to scar me for life, on the outside and on the inside. Someone chose that my life should be a living hell.
Well, to hell with them. This is my life, not theirs, and I am not going to give up on it, on my friends or on the future that we want for ourselves.
No, those choices were not mine. They never were mine.
But I can choose now. I can choose to sit by and let the darkness come or I can choose to fight it with everything I have.
Ron and Hermione get up and they are looking at me. I get up quickly. We all look at one another and smile. It feels like ages since I've smiled.
I know what my choice will be.
A/N: The sentence about having greatness thrust upon them is from Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." If you want to know the act and verse numbers, go read it (it's actually very funny ::assumes Duke Orsino pose and clears throat dramatically:: "If fanfiction be the fruit of love, write on…" ::falls down laughing at silly attempt to recite Shakespeare::)
A/N2: Double chocolate brownies to Amy, Tessie, Ron (it's H/G…just for you), Giulia, Danielle, Valancy, Susie, Ashley, Zoe, Dark Mark, Joycie and Silver Ray