Forgive Me, by AndromedaMarine
I first saw him at the Sorting Ceremony. He had the awfully conspicuous mussed black hair and a nervous expression on that arrogant face of his. I tried desperately to avoid looking into his emerald eyes, knowing that if I did I would feel the stab of pain from seeing a reminder of my greatest mistake. I did not hate him, no. But I hated that it was James she had chosen, and so there was only half of Harry Potter that I could loathe. Her eyes made it almost impossible to hate Harry, but Dumbledore had asked me to protect this child, a child who would forever remind me of my loss. I could only hate part of him. I had to wear that mask for six years, hiding my pain from him and the other teachers, but Dumbledore knew...because Dumbledore always knew. If Harry did not look like James I would have loved him as my own son. And I would not have accused him for acting like his father. I did not hate him. I hated myself.
I had petitioned Dumbledore on numerous occasions to use a Time Turner, to go back and fix things...to save Lily. He sympathized, thinking of his own sister Ariana, but even in my desperation I knew that to go back would risk more lives than just Lily's. I had nearly destroyed his office that time, but being so overcome with grief and pain, I could do no more than sink to the floor and wish for things to be different.
I tortured Harry at Hogwarts because of two things: my own inability to bear seeing Lily's eyes in James's body, and because Dumbledore requested I keep our protection of him a secret. To do one was to do the other. I had hoped that everything would go according to Dumbledore's plan, but with the Dark Lord plotting his own malicious schemes, events unfolded in such a way that I could never tell Harry what Dumbledore requested of me.
I have more regrets than I can count. My life was a sorry excuse, filled with humiliation, excruciating pain, and nothing ever seemed to go correctly. I should never have called my dear, precious Lily a Mudblood, because it was a horrible lie, and it was what cost me her friendship and love. Before that awful moment she was my best friend, and in one swift move I lost her to James, and then to the Dark Lord. I am filled with such shame over my actions, so overwhelming it is that in some ways I am relieved that the Dark Lord finally killed me. I did not deserve to live. I did not deserve to cling to life when Lily had left it so long ago. I truly did wish for Dumbledore to kill me the night I discovered Pettigrew's betrayal and Lily's death.
I truly wished for it all to end.
So often have I wondered about the past, about everything I could have done to correct the things that had gone wrong. Would I have married Lily Evans? Would Harry have been our child? Or, most importantly, would Lily still be alive?
Did I deserve her?
No. No, I did not deserve her now, nor back then. I have never deserved her, but that did not keep me from loving her for every second of my life. If I could risk a second chance at life my choice would be, in less than a heartbeat, to go back and change my ways, avoid Slytherin, avoid the war, and save Lily from her previous fate by never letting her go.
My life had no meaning without Lily Evans, despite Dumbledore's insistence that I was integral to the Dark Lord's demise by Harry's hand. I had twenty-two years to regret my mistake; sixteen to wait to die so the omnipresent, constant heartache of her death would disappear.
The what-ifs will never help me amend for my atrocious past, and nothing but the deepest magic of our world will allow me to have ever been with Lily during life. I would never have a second chance, an opportunity to stop myself from losing her...to stop the prophecy from ever taking place. The physical pain of death was absolutely nothing compared to the pain of watching Lily walk away from me for the last time, nothing when compared to the self-hatred I nursed for not stopping my hot-headed fifteen year old self from uttering a word so monstrous I would never live it down.
There is a small part of me that has always loved Harry simply because Lily was his mother. I do not deny that...I could never deny it, not to myself and not to Dumbledore. But necessity and loathing for James kept me from ever telling Harry about it. I wonder now if he understands the apparent joy I felt in Sirius Black's capture, since at the time I had believed him the betrayer instead of the framed. I had rejoiced in cornering the man I believed responsible for leading the Dark Lord to my Lily...but Harry hadn't understood...
I...I take extreme comfort that he obliged my last wish in life. That he looked straight into my eyes in my moment of death. I had hoped he could forgive me, hoped he could see the love I had for him as I drifted from his life to this one. There was an eternity between seeing Lily's eyes one last time and my final breath, and in that eternity it was evident that I had received Harry's forgiveness. It was the one thing that mattered at that point. To know Lily's son had forgiven me, the man whose impatience, inexperience, and idiocy had resulted in the Dark Lord hunting them down. To know that he understood soothed the constant pain, and when her eyes finally blurred and disappeared, I was not at peace, I was not complete, but I was satisfied. Satisfied that something, one thing, good had emerged from my separation from Lily: the one man in the world whose task and ability it was to destroy the villain responsible for Lily Evans's death.
If I can take comfort in one thing, it is that I was her friend, if but for a little while, and despite my mistakes, my jealousy, and my own cruel punishment, her son knew the truth about us, and he did not hold a grudge against me for it.
Where I am now I can see everything in Harry's life, I can see his past, his growing family, the second son whose middle name is my own. I will never see Lily again, not even here, because it was my punishment in life that I might lose her also in death. My consolation comes from watching her son and grandsons and granddaughter learn from Harry all the things he himself had lately come upon in regard to his mother and me.
I do not hate Harry Potter. I love him for being the only thing left of Lily that I will ever see again. I love him because he has his mother's compassion. He is the son I never had but always wished for with Lily, and I love him because I have his forgiveness.
Although I will spend eternity in her absence the pain has disappeared, yet I love her still. But heaven is a mysterious thing. Our magic lives here, too...and I still hold the hope that I may, somehow, earn a second chance to redeem myself and begin anew—begin again with Lily.