"Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them" - Dion Boucicault
I do not gasp when I hear his name, unlike the majority of the hall, because I have been expecting it. The past eleven Sortings have seen me envisioning the moment when he will strut through the great, double doors, arrogant and smug, just like his father. That moment is now here. Yet, despite the anticipation bubbling from deep within, I cannot bring myself to look at him. I have always considered procrastination a form of cowardice, but my head will not turn, my eyes will not seek. I do not look at him, for fear of what, or who, might look back at me.
I avert my eyes as he stumbles forward to take his place on the three-legged stool, resisting the urge to seal them shut as I hear a chorus of inhaled breaths, signalling the instant when the frayed hat touches his head, coming to rest just below his brow.
Silence. Everyone waits with baited breath for the hat's decision, eager to know what house the Boy-Who-Lived is destined for. Everyone except me. I do not wait, for I already know. I have known for eleven, long years.
I hear the hat scream Gryffindor before if does, feel the table tremble as a thunderous applause clouds the Hall, see the secret smile tug at the corners of Albus's mouth.
The Gryffindors take him in, many on their feet, but my eyes remain trained on the darkening window as he takes his rightful place. The memories, all too vivid, begin to circle through my mind, and I do not have the strength to end them. Her fiery hair, covered first by the faded grey material and then at home amongst the sea of red and gold, while I am banished to the end of the hall to cower behind the cold green banners.
Food materialises on the polished golden platters and while the other teachers hasten to devour it, I let my lids flutter closed for the briefest moment. Though the hall fades, her face does not. It never does.
I force myself to look again, reaching for my fork while listening to Quirrell stutter his way through an anecdote for Flitwick's entertainment. I do not realise my eyes are straying until they land on the person leaning up to ask Weasley a question. That person's eyes are following the Head Table, and too soon they will land on me. I am not prepared, there is not enough time in the world to prepare for a moment like this, but I cannot seem to muster enough control to look away. Regardless to internal protests, my eyes inspect the chaotic mess of black locks, sticking up at the back the way His used to. My gaze traces the hollows of his cheekbones, blotched red with excitement. My scrutiny lingers on the over-sized, ragged looking sweatshirt he is wearing. He does not appear to be the pompous boy I expected, and this confuses me. He does not seem to have the unmistakable air of belonging that his father possessed. I wonder, as I watch him ask Weasley another question, whether his looks will be deceiving. Perhaps he will be, as everyone quotes, 'just like his father'. It seems wrong, somehow, for him to be anything else.
All trepidation and consideration are wiped clean from my mind, however, when his fragile face moves an inch to the left, and it finally happens. This time, a gasp does force its way through my clenched teeth, because even through the thick glass of his ugly spectacles, across the wide expanse of the Great Hall and under the dying flicker of the floating candles, they pierce me like they did all those years ago. They are more like hers then I ever could have imagined, dreamed, dreaded. Pools of liquid emerald nestled into almond-shaped orbs, framed by webs of lashes, the same spark brightening the surface, the same depth hiding beneath. And suddenly I am not perched on the hard, wooden chair, but crouched behind a familiar bush, watching as she flings herself off the swing, releasing the chain and soaring through the air, landing with the grace of a gazelle, her face exuberant and her breathing ragged.
And then, as his eyebrows knit together in frown, I am back in Hogwarts, listening to Quirrell stutter and to Flitwick squeak, glaring at the eyes that I love surrounded by the face that I loathe.
And I will always remember this day. Not because of the food or the talk or the atmosphere. I will always remember this day, because this is the day that I start to hate Harry Potter.
Angst may be a treasured thing, but it doesn't make me feel all warm and cozy inside. Reviews do, however. So do us a favour, please?