Chapter 1: Start Over
For those of you who haven't read my other stories: Hello! I'm Gaaralovesmeonly! How are you today? I bet your day is spectacular, or at least not your worst day ever. I hope you like my story. Feel free to review it afterwards and tell me what I did right, or wrong, or what you think I should do in the future. I always love reviews. You can also just leave a review just to say "hello", either way, I will love it, and probably reply. :)
For those of you who have read my other stories: Hello again my readers! It seems like it has been forever since I've written anything. :) I'm glad you're back for another story.
For everyone: Make sure you pay attention to who is speaking. I'd hate for you to be reading, thinking Cygnus is Harry, or that Hermione is Cygnus, or that Draco is in this chapter. Just read on, everything will be alright. :) Eventually.
(My commentary or side notes)
~0~ (this denotes flashbacks)
"I am moving through the crowd
Trying to find myself
Feeling like a guitar left on a shelf
Will someone strum away?
And I ask myself
Who do I wanna be?
Do I wanna throw away the key
And invent a whole new me?"
-No One by Aly & AJ
Sometimes, in life, there are those decisions we never want to make. I don't quite remember how it happened, but I got stuck in one of these predicaments. On one hand, I had, of course, saved the Wizarding world from the likes of Voldemort. I was famed for my deed, and on everyone's list of "most amazing people" and what not. The problem with all that was that I absolutely hated it all. I just wanted to be a normal wizard. In my mind, the most perfect situation would be if everyone calmed down. Yes, they all knew who I was, and yes, I had saved them all, but they could kindly nod if they saw me, or simply smile and be on with their life.
Most people aren't like that, of course. If they see me, they come up to me, congratulating me, saying how wonderful it is to meet me, and yell out my name to the several others that might nearby, so they can do the same. Yes, I know it's absolutely fantastic what I've done, but I couldn't bloody care less about it.
On the other hand, did I really want to be someone else? Would I even be any good at trying to pull off something so permanent? I wasn't a very good actor. With my horrible skills, I would most likely be found out almost the moment I had put up the disguise. I didn't understand what Hermione had in store for me. I couldn't even begin to comprehend how much practice and concentration being another person would take…
"Alright, Harry. Everything is ready for you." Hermione came out of her secret room that I hadn't been able to go in ever since we had arrived here (wherever here was). She smiled in the most unnerving way, making me begin to question what I had gotten myself into once more. She held out her hand and offered me a ring. I looked at the ring in her hand a moment. It was nothing special looking, made of light wood carved into a (some-what) circular shape, with no designs on it whatsoever.
"Hermione, if you planned on proposing to me, you should have got a better ring" I joked.
She chuckled. "No, this is how you're going to be someone else." At my questioning look, she continued, "You put it on, and it acts as Glamour, so you don't have to do anything. Here. Put it on."
She handed me the ring. It was light and felt no different than what I expected it to; wooden and textured. Judging its size for a moment, I figured it would fit best on my left index finger. It slipped coolly onto my finger, which I found unexpected. I watched as it changed from a rather plain sort of wood into a marvelous golden band with a deep grey, square stone in its center. Just as I was about to look back to Hermione, I saw as words emblazed themselves into the sides. I turned my finger around to read the words aloud.
"The one and the only." I looked back to Hermione, only to see a smile on her face. "I didn't know it would change. What do the words mean?"
She shook her head slightly. "Harry, you have to see yourself." She went back into her room to pull out a mirror and set it in my lap.
I kept my focus on her, a little frightened to see myself. Or, my new self, really. What if I look awful? I asked myself on instinct. Oh, who cares? Just as long as I don't have to deal with fame anymore… I took a deep breath and looked into the mirror.
It is the most peculiar feeling ever, to be someone else. Yes, I may have experienced it before, with polyjuice potion, but it's never something you get used to. Looking into the mirror and seeing a thinner face, with higher cheek bones, warm brown eyes, and slightly lighter hair cut so that it fell around my head in its length, but that didn't really seem all that long at all; it was odd. I touched my face with a pale hand that looked like it was mine to my eyes, but inside the mirror's world was peachy, yet firm and completely foreign. That was so very much unlike Polyjuice Potion. I looked down only to find that nothing about me seemed to have changed. That will only make it harder to be this new person.
"Harry," Hermione said softly, breaking the glass-like silence that I hadn't realized had enveloped the room. "This is just like you wanted. You don't have to be famous. You can just be yourself now. You can do anything you weren't able to before. You can actually be normal." She smiled and pried the mirror from my hands. I hadn't realized I had been holding on so tightly to it, but once I did, I calmed myself.
"So," I looked at the ring on my finger some more. "Is this charmed? Will anything affect it if someone gets suspicious?" It put my nerves on edge to already be thinking that someone could be suspicious, but I wanted to make sure this was fool-proof. Then again, this was Hermione's plan…
"No, it's not charmed. It's actually some sort of old magic I found in a book once. I figured you would want to use it someday, so I kept it at the back of my mind. Nothing can affect it. I can't even pull it off your finger, only you can."
I chuckled a bit. I should have known better than to think Hermione had left a flaw in this. "Alright. What's my new name going to be?"
"Good question. I was thinking something really hard to figure out, maybe some sort of code that would allow certain letters to…" she rambled on, talking fast and planning out some completely complicated compilation of possible puzzles. I just shook my head and laughed inside. It may have been 7, almost 8, years since I had known her, and I had seen her change so much as a person, but she was still the same old Hermione I had made friends with in first year. "And of course we are going to need to agree on your past in case anyone talks about it." She summoned a piece of parchment and a self-inking quill. "What do you want your new life to be like, Harry?"
"My life? I thought we were discussing names."
She rolled her eyes and smiled. "Alright. How should we get a new name for you?"
Of all the ways to make a new name for someone, only one came to my mind, and wouldn't leave. Before I could stop the words from leaving my mouth, they left. "How about we make an anagram?"
There was a second of silence as we both remembered. There was almost a ringing in the air, and the room felt like a grey film had been put over it.
"Uh, we don't have to use my name." I said uneasily.
"What else would we use?"
I looked back to my ring. The black engraved words seemed so odd against the beautiful gold. "How about the words on my ring? 'The one and the only'?"
She nodded. "That will work. No one would ever suspect it." She pondered a moment more, biting her lip a little.
Why on earth would an anagram come to mind? Of all things, that was the first thing out of my mouth. It seems Tom Riddle was more engrained in my head than I once thought...
"Well" Hermione interrupted my thoughts. "I'll work on your name. Just get used to the idea overnight. Don't go out with the ring just yet. I'll send you an owl."
"Oh, okay." I pulled the ring off, watching it for a moment before realizing it wouldn't change back into the wood it had been before, and then slid it into my pocket. "I'll leave you to it then." Pulling my wand from my other pocket, I apparated just before the entrance to Hogwarts and walked to my room.
It was rather small, but that only made it more comforting. I still didn't care much for my living space to have large, ornate rooms. Being Harry Potter, the 18 year-old who had defeated Voldemort instead of going to his 7th year at school, even I had to pull some strings to continue to live here. What I didn't expect was getting my own room all to myself. I lay down, face-first, on my bed. The whole day was so much; too much to process. I needed a rest. I felt my eyelids droop, and my mind went fuzzy. Dreams of the past were most certainly not a thing of the past, though I wish they were.
Sitting suddenly up in bed, tears running down my face, almost hyperventilating, with aches in my chest; this was nothing new to my nightly ritual. I looked around, and once I realized where I was, my rational mind took control once more. I stop breathing for a second, to calm my heart rate and my breathing. When the moment came where my throat began to burn, I slowly inhaled and found everything was back to normal.
Where these nightmares came from wasn't a secret, of course. If anyone knew who I was, it would be so absolutely obvious. But my nature prevented anyone from really knowing me. That was the sad irony of my life. As much help that I may need, there was a certain pride that I had not to take it.
I looked down at my hands in the darkness of the room. I still had all my rings on. I must have forgotten to take them all off, I told myself, though I knew there had been no time to take them off before I softly cried myself to sleep. This house was worse than hell itself. I slipped them off one at a time, and placed them on the bedside table. Now that I was calm, I laid back down, staring at my rings. All the silver seemed to glow in the light coming from the half-moon shining through my window, but what stood out most of all were the dark words engraved on one. No matter how hard I thought to myself, nor how many times I read it, I could not get them to make sense.
Nevertheless, I read them over and over, thinking about what purpose they could have. Hours could have passed, or merely minutes. I didn't feel tired anymore, though I knew it wasn't too late into the night. The words were the only darkness near the glowing mound of jewelry.
To be or not to be…
I had never even heard of them before. They seemed so simple, yet so powerful in a sort of way. The more I thought about them, the vaguer their meaning became. A million possibilities ran through my mind, from actually reasonable to completely insane. I had learned over the years to accept them all, especially when magic was involved. Just because something sounded impossible, didn't exactly mean it was. Lots of things sound impossible; flying on brooms, magic wands, fathers beating their sons, unicorns. Obviously one sticks out of the list, considering the other three are a normal part of my life. Although it seems very impossible, unicorns do actually exist. I didn't believe it at first either.
I closed my eyes, not because I was tired, but because I didn't want to see those words anymore. They haunted me, worse than any ghost ever could, and I could almost swear the light of the moon seeped through my eyelids, forming the words on them ever so clearly.
To be or not to be…to be, or not to be…to be or not to be
It didn't matter how they sounded in my head, or where the emphasis lay, the words still made no sense. And yet, still, they were somehow my life in one phrase. What a wonder that such phrases exist, with such meaning to cover entire years of awful, horrid, torture-filled actions that were as much my own choosing as a snake chooses to have poisonous fangs. Yet nothing was as torturous as my own decisions. They followed no suit, and only made the other actions more difficult to maintain. A final straw, a forbidden love, the sad path to being disowned; it all added now to make my life Hell. And sadly, a part of me would never change that for anything in the entire world.
To be…myself…or not to be...?
I turned away from the ring onto my other side and opened my eyes to look out my window. I didn't want to face it anymore. Focusing on something else entirely, I noticed a tiny reflection of myself right below where the moon showed its face in my window. My once black hair was so pale now; I could hardly believe I was actually that other person. Another sigh of discontent, and then I decided to force myself to sleep. It would be a long process, but I was sure I would get there eventually.
I bit my lip, hoping to myself that I hadn't missed a single detail in this plan. I often doubted myself, but never before had I done anything with so much risk to my best friends. I much preferred to put myself at risk for them, seeing as how it was simple instincts to want to save myself, but meddling in others' lives seemed so careless. If I missed something, or didn't thoroughly think something through, my friends would never be happy, and I would be to blame. But it had to work. There was no other option now.
I walked over to my work room where I had put my wand. It was getting late. Ron had told me to be back to the Burrow as soon as I could so I wouldn't miss dinner. Although I hadn't eaten since the early lunch I had today, food was the last thing on my mind. It seemed as if my plan was nothing but a piece of tinfoil put up against a tornado. Or course, I told myself again and again that nothing would go wrong. I had checked every possible twist and turn that could happen. It had to work. It would.
I apparated back to the Burrow. I could hear everyone inside chatting happily. It still hurt, seeing everyone being so happy as a family, and being happy with the time they have together. There was still an empty place in my heart, reserved for my parents, whom I could never see again. Of course, I loved all my friends like they were family, but they could never replace the people who raised me for eleven years before I even met them. And I gave up my parents to protect them, and that was a choice that I knew couldn't be undone easily.
"Hey, 'Mione. Where've you been?" Ron opened the door, releasing the light from the house and warming the dark of the outside in its glow. I didn't quite understand how, but Weasleys could always manage to do that.
"Sorry, Ron. I ran a little late with my plan." I walked up the steps and into the house. It seemed almost everyone was in bed except Ron, and George. I'd have said it was hard to believe they could be making so much noise just them two, but it actually wasn't hard to believe at all. "Harry couldn't make up his mind. I had to convince him."
"About that plan of yours…" George said as I entered the living room and sat on the couch with Ron at my side. He was leaning against the wall, seeming to be thinking. "Are you absolutely sure it's going to work?"
I gave Ron a look. "You weren't supposed to tell anyone." Unbelievable…
He shrugged in the cute way he always did when he knew he was in trouble. "Sorry. I was thinking about it while I was waiting for you. I had no idea I was saying things out loud, and George heard me… I just couldn't tell him it was nothing."
"Don't worry. I won't tell." George smiled in a way that reminded me there used to be an identical one just next to it, with that same mischievous look to it, and a voice to match. I half smirked back, but the dark cloud that settled over me would take a moment to leave.
"Alright, then. Yes, I'm positive it's absolutely perfect. And if something goes wrong, I've already thought over how to fix it, and wrote everything down in case I happen to forget, which I highly doubt."
"What if Harry finds the paper?"
"Well considering that I keep it on my person at all times, he would have to be suspicious and somehow manage to get it from my pocket and know the spell to unravel the parchment. By the time he found it out, I'm sure that I would realize it was missing."
George nodded in response, his eyes looking past the floor in thought. "What if they find out after they get their happily ever after?"
"Then I remind them how happy they are and that I only helped push together what belonged."
"See, George? She's thought of everything already. I even asked her some questions. She had it all covered."
"And how exactly do you plan to do this?" George asked. "It seems impossible."
So Ron didn't go into detail on my plan…
"I have a sure way to get Harry and Draco together. I've recently made friends with him, and I know them both well enough to make sure nothing happens that would ruin anything." I smiled. "It will all work out."
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