~ kittykittyhunter ~

I believed redemption would be to pursue Wormtail, to murder him for what he did. Meeting you made me realise how mistaken I had been.

I'd glimpsed you at other points in the year – once near your aunt's house (you were preoccupied with running away); again, during your Quidditch match, when I discovered that the resemblance between you and James was not just one of appearance, but of talent. And my pride kept mounting – you spared the life of a traitor, and saved mine. You still haven't disclosed the details of that stunning feat. One day, tell me the story.

Harry… I rotted for more than a decade, reliving my lowest moments. I clung to some semblance of sanity; I reminded myself, over and over, that I was not guilty of the crime for which I had been imprisoned. That thought was my sustenance…

Was I innocent? No, not at all. Your parents lost their lives because of my failing, because I, with youthful arrogance, asserted I was a good judge of character.

My conceit hasn't disappeared.

You showed mercy to Wormtail, displaying your parents' kindness.

I was startled.

Harry, you are my family. I once said that your grandparents regarded me as their second son, raising me without complaint... You never met more than a sliver of your kin, so listen. They were good people. They analysed hearts, not drops of blood.

Then my place in your life became cemented. I still remember James' grin and Lily's laughing eyes as they entrusted you to me. I am your guardian.

All year has brought reflection on how little I have done for you. My best was to send you letters from a cave in a mountain. I did not watch your Triwizard Tasks, or even attend your Ministry hearing, which riddled you with anxiety. And then, childishly, stupidly, I directed my rage towards you – you, the same person for whom I am living.

Once again, I am sorry.

Then, yesterday, your head was surrounded by flames. You were questioning the father you have never known.

I assured you quickly that I was not proud of my past actions – too quickly; Remus gave me a sidelong glance, confirming he knows, as well as I, that I have not changed. I will still inspire you towards danger. I will not forget the names of my enemies, and will despise them, always. Perhaps one day I shall recover and regain those elements which made me your father's best friend. I understand, at last, how much your opinion means to me. I want you to rely on me.

Harry – after our conversation, Remus and I spent a long time reminiscing. There are thousands of things to say about Lily and James – some facts about James that I wish you could have heard:

How Lily would smile at him adoringly when she knew he wasn't looking, even after they were married. How he led Gryffindor to victory as Quidditch Captain and how, to everyone's surprise, he was appointed Head Boy, but fulfilled that duty as though he had been a Prefect and spent two years understanding the role. How he accidentally jinxed the Arithmancy teacher during one of our impromptu duels. How he once took the blame for one of my senseless pranks, and came back from the detentions unable to catch Quaffles for a week.

We will have time to tell you these tales from our idiot days: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. I know it is difficult, that you hate not knowing why you need to do what you need to do… if I were permitted to tell you, I would.

I want never again to be the sullen person you cannot approach with your problems. If you can find the strength, exercise mercy once more and forgive me. Then allow me to try again.

We will fight, Harry. We will fight until we pierce the darkness. I will fight for you until my bones shatter and my nerves stutter – but this time, I will not be content with dying. I will survive, and together, we will piece ourselves a future.

I promise.