The World's A Stage
Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.

Part I: Masks

You love me.

I've never heard you speak those words out loud, but I know it's true all the same. Truth is not determined solely by the words we speak nor the deeds we do. Though we've never made any of the promises lovers make nor shared kisses like lovers do, the truth does not change.

You love me.

Thinking those words to myself has been my greatest comfort. You hardly ever betray yourself by word or deed. You've never said the words. If asked about your feelings for me, you would say that I'm your best friend. If pressed into admitting your love, you would add that your love for me is like that for a sister.

Furthermore, you prove your words by the things you do. We've only shared chaste kisses on the cheeks. We've hugged, of course, but only as close friends do. You've supported me through all of my darkest hours—but you've always held something back in reserve.

I guess I shouldn't be so surprised that you are so agile in concealing your feelings. Your upbringing could not have taught you to be open about love. You probably feel like you don't deserve my love. And you've always been the absolute best in the things that you care about doing well in. No, it should be no surprise to me that you play your role all so well. But no matter how vehemently you deny it, no matter how much you restrain what you do, the truth is still there—you love me.

For while your mask is normally so perfectly in place, there are times that cracks can be seen. In fifth year, when we were studying for our O.W.L.S.—there was one night when we were all so tired. We were the only ones awake. I had my head buried in a book, desperately trying to commit to memory one last spell. It wasn't working. I was so tired that the words were melting together on the page. I looked up, out of sheer frustration.

That's when I saw it. A single emotion flicker across your face. If I had blinked, I would have missed it. But it still would have been there. The truth would not change from my lack of perception.

But I'm so glad I didn't miss. It was beautiful. Your love for me was out in plain view for one crystalline second. Your mask dropped and I could see what you felt for me. I could not breathe, I was so relieved. That you felt the same way I do.

That's still one of my favorite memories. It has kept me company during so many lonely times. Just that one flicker on your face has helped me make it through those dark times that we lived in. No matter what else you say to me, I'll always believe in the truth of that moment. That's my happy memory.

Then there was that other time, when I was injured. I don't know how long I had been out, but it was long enough that only you were awake. I heard your voice, begging me to wake up, to not leave you behind. Your love infused your voice. Its presence graced the air around us. I think it brought me back. I could not do anything but respond to your love.

I think you almost said it then. Sometimes I wish I had kept my eyes closed just a minute more. Then it would have been out and between us. Then perhaps you would have stopped pretending and start living. But I couldn't keep my eyes shut any longer. For if you love me, the opposite is just as true.

I love you.

It's the truest thing I've ever said. I love you with my heart, my mind, my body, my soul. No matter what we may say during our roles, the truth is unchanged. I love you.

Finally, there was that awful night last month. My parents had died. I had just been told. I couldn't think. I could hardly grieve. No one else knew what to do.

And that's when I felt it. You didn't say a word. You didn't do a thing. But I felt the love that echoes between us then and now. It anchored my soul and gave me room to grieve. You loved me and so helped me to live.

It's so ironic that we can be so in love, yet we've never been together. We've always been just friends.

Because the roles the world wants us to play have no room for love. You're supposed to be the hero. I'm supposed to be behind you, supporting you most of the way. And I'm supposed to be with our other best friend. The two of us, united in love, always behind you, reminding you of the reason behind your fight.

It's such a lovely dream, like a fairy tale come true. I've been told by so many people that I'm lucky to have him. And if I loved him that would be true.

But in the end, all it is only a story. Nothing more and nothing less. A story that people have constructed and that we read our lines for. You can call it a story, you can call it a dream, but in the end, it's all the same thing. It's nothing more and nothing less than a lie.

Because I don't love him. I love you. And how can I be lucky when I don't have you? What sort of fairy tale is it when the lovers are separated by their very best friend? It's not a dream, it's a nightmare if I can't be with you! Perhaps the world doesn't understand it, perhaps the world doesn't want to understand it, but I love you.

Ever since my parents' death, I've thought about all the things I've done. I've thought about the path my life has taken. And I've thought about what my parents would want for me.

They would want me to be with you.

My parents lead me by example. Their role in life was not to have a witch as a daughter. They were perfectly ordinary dentists, leading perfectly ordinary lives. How that letter must have disrupted their world! I can't comprehend it.

Yet though that letter went against everything they knew as true, they did not hold tight to their world. They could have kept me there, saying it was all a lie. They could have begged me to stay, saying they would miss me all too much. They didn't do anything like that. They let me go. They let me go so I could discover myself. They let me go to become the very best witch that I could be. They let me go so I could be true to my own self.

I wouldn't be honoring my parents' memory if I continued with this farce. If I went along with what everyone apparently believes and commit myself to my friend whom I do not love. If I hide all I feel behind a mask, push it aside, and leave it to gather dust. If I did any of this, what would my parents' sacrifice have been for?

It would have been for a lie. And they've always wanted me to be true to my own self.

So I can't do it anymore. I can't go on reciting the lines that have been written. I can't go on and do the deeds that have been planned. It wouldn't make me happy. It wouldn't make them happy. It wouldn't make you happy. And I love you.

So I just wanted to let you know that I'm ending this play. I refuse to wear the mask I've been given. And though it may hurt some of the people closest to my heart, it's still the right thing to do.

Because I would finally be living my life.

I've only lived the role that was doled out to me so far. I have not lived my life. I have not loved my love. And I don't want to die without knowing how it feels to have your lips on my lips. How it feels to run my hands through your hair. How it feels to finally see those three words hang on air.

And for so many reasons, I wanted to let you know. You deserve to know just what is it that I plan to do.

At the end of this year, Harry, I'm not playing anymore.

Author's note—Currently, I have this fic set out for four parts. I should be able to stick to that plan. I don't know when I'll post the next part though—it's the whole internet access thing again. In any case, I would really appreciate it if you would tell me what you think and what comments you might have. Please review.