Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter series or "Suzanne". All rights belong to J.K. Rowling and Leonard Cohen.
Warning: This story contains references to mild violence and gore.
Jesus Was a Sailor
It was radiant, the day I died. I vividly remember the feeling of those careful, slender rays of sun prying back the clouds to rest softly on my head as I slumbered on the banks of the Black Lake. I'm not sure where I am now. Purgatory? Limbo? It doesn't much matter in the grand scheme of things, anyway. The only thing that matters to me now is that I can see. With my eyes closed, surrounded by these other lost souls, I can see everybody from my past, lit in startling clarity. So it is not of myself that I speak of today, not really.
It is of them.
The Battle of Hogwarts took place on a Friday night, segueing seemingly without notice into a bloody, bright Saturday morning. It was unseasonably warm, more like July than May, and most students were taking protracted strolls through the long grasses by the game sheds, taunting the Giant Squid with leftovers from lunch, or rejoicing the end of the week by sequestering themselves indoors with friends and treacle tart.
I cannot speak definitively for the others, but I, for one, was doing none of these things. Not for long, anyway. I woke up after my rest on the darkly sanded shore of the lake at around two o'clock. And if you were wondering, yes, I was skipping class. I'm loath to admit it, but in my relatively short seventeen years, I was unabashedly lazy. A pleasure seeker, if you will. Those last few hours, between the time I awakened and when the Death Eaters stormed the castle, are what I shall think about when I contemplate the meaning of my life. Because, in those few, small moments, I feel that I truly was Pansy Parkinson, as she ought to be. I think of myself as a long, stretched out being; cloying and sticky and utterly without care.
The general student body first became aware of the Death Eater invasion just after dinner. Approximately seven o'clock in the evening, I was returning from the Great Hall, my mind churning with self-disgust as I viciously berated myself for that last piece of treacle tart. Looking back, I wish I hadn't been so hard on myself. I feel somewhat ageless, now that I'm dead, and I am now more than ever privy to and enamored by the beauty of youth. Overweight, uncomely, plain; it doesn't much matter. We were all so vital.
I was so engrossed in my own little mental debate, that my first real feeling of fear and terrible understanding didn't come until a flashing green strobe lanced across the cobblestones in front of me. I suddenly became aware, hypersensitive; it felt as if my ears had become unplugged, my eyes tugged wide open. My world was bathed in green. A brilliant, verdant, Slytherin green.
I ran. And I did not look back.
Before I continue plodding along, I should probably tell you why I am relaying this story at all. I know that it isn't the most intriguing. There are no princesses in towers or evil queen mothers. This tale is simply about an act of incontrovertible human kindness, one that I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of.
As I sit here above the sky and watch the world go on, it continues to baffle me how successful people have become at convincing themselves that they don't care. Because everybody cares. I'm pretty sure even Voldemort cared about something or someone; that there was something in that place inside his chest where everyone assumed he was empty.
And it is for this reason, and this reason alone, that the last hour of my life was more important to me than all of my seventeen years combined.
May 2nd, 1998. 2100 hours.
It's glacially cold up here. I was under the impression that heat rises, so I feel like it really shouldn't be this freezing up here on the seventh floor. I don't know where I am, except that in order to get here I had to scramble hand over hand up seven flights of panicked staircases. Now that I am here, my surroundings seem even more alien. The room I am sitting hunched in the corner of is relatively small; too small to be a classroom. It's bare, but comfortable. The walls are rough-hewn grey stone that creeps into thin wall-to-wall carpeting. There is a small twin bed in the far right corner and what appears to be a tiny galley kitchen and bathroom offset from the rest of the rectangular room.
I've distanced myself as best I can from these small amenities that I am quite sure I do not deserve.
That is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of this small, cozy place, chilly though it may be. What does that make me, then?
The thick chartreuse blankets on the bed call out to me, but I cannot find the will to get up and help myself to them. There's too much going on in my head, too much violence and green. I shut my eyes tightly, attempting to distance myself from my own mind. I don't want to see Marietta Edgecombe being ravaged in that soundless way that speaks of pure evil by a man with claws and a long, scarred torso. There are so many things that I don't want to see.
So I don't. I close my eyes and pretend that I am dead.
May 2nd, 1998. 2230 hours.
The door to this odd, sacred room creaks open, letting in the grey, cobwebbed light that seems to carry death aloft its sad rays. My heart thuds deeply and futilely, and I clench my fingers together, praying to something I don't even know with half of my mind, and thinking with the other half of how black and blasphemous this day is.
I hunch into my corner, fear pricking me like wet marbles laid along my livid spine. I have never been especially brave, and this day is no exception. There are four sets of footsteps. They are loud and heavy; unafraid. Male, definitely. I can feel tendrils of dread snaking into my perishing muscles and locking them into place. Whoosh. The room is flooded with light, and my mind shuts down. There is too much horror, too much gruesomely anticipatory fright in the scene that moves steadily towards me in the harsh half-lit brilliance, with its whispering flame and dancing, orange goddesses. I stare. They stare. He takes one step toward me, and that is all it takes.
May 3rd, 1998. 0030 hours.
When my bloody eyelids peel upwards, I can feel the half-light from the lone wall sconce press its yellow fingers into my faded eyes. I am no longer in the small, dank room, though from what I can gather in my immediate field of vision, my new abode is no better. When my battered, sluggish brain realizes that I am lying face-up in the middle of a random corridor, my immediate reaction is to attempt to stand up and run. I don't even make it to a sitting position before I collapse from the pain.
There is blood all around me. Great pools of thick, crimson liquid surround my body – my robes are soaked through and heavy with it. I lift my head slightly to look down at my body before letting it fall back in relief. My body is mashed and bruised and grated, abused beyond recognition. My robes are lying in a pile around me, while the rest of the ashen skin that hasn't been darkened by bruises glows palely in the smoky light. Stains cover me, inside and out. I close my eyes, feeling small, shallow breaths knife through my lungs as blood gurgles from between my lips, and I know that I am going to die. What a way to go.
It is in this position; naked on the cobblestone floor surrounded by my own blood, my body so destroyed that you can barely tell I'm human, that Fred Weasley finds me. It is in this position that, in the seconds before I die, that I truly believed that Voldemort was wrong.
May 3rd, 1998. 0030 hours.
When Fred Weasley first saw the girl lying smack dab in the middle of the corridor, his first thought was that she was some sort of siren. He reckoned it had something to do with the way she was sprawled on the ground and soaked to the skin, her long hair flaring out behind her like seaweed. Her skin was white – so pale that he felt blinded by it.
Then he saw the blood. He saw the blood, and she became even more beautiful. Fred was not a sadist. He never had been, and enjoying the pain of others was not something that spoke to his character. But he loved tragic things. Broken things. His room was full of odds and ends that George kept on trying to surreptitiously toss. And in that moment, the image of Pansy Parkinson dying in front of his very eyes was the most tragic thing, the most beautiful thing, that he had ever seen in his life.
"Bollocks," he rasped, running towards the body and stripping his cloak off at the same time.
Panting, he desperately pressed his balled-up cloak against the ruined body of the girl in front of him. He wasn't even sure if he was trying to save her life, or attempting to preserve some bizarre shred of modesty. Modesty that was completely immaterial now.
Fred's head shot up. He found his eyes drawn to her lips. They were pale and thin and just a little sad-looking, but they had moved. They had moved.
He got closer to her face, frantically trying to find some sort of awareness, some sort of recognition in her glazed eyes. "Yes, Parkinson. I – I'm here now." His hand hovered above her broken body, trying to find some place to touch her without causing pain. He remembered thinking that he had never seen anybody so blue. Skin like paper, creased at the folds; tiny fissures waxing and waning with each breath she took.
A deep, rattling gasp sucked air through her teeth, and Fred felt like he could see a ghost of something move past him in that second. Covering his blood-soaked cloak, he lifted her upper body as best he could with causing her too much pain until she was resting lightly on his legs.
"W-what… are you... d-doing?"
His eyes hardened. "I'm not going to let you die alone, Parkinson. I don't care who you are. Nobody should die alone."
At this, Pansy Parkinson's blue, crepe-paper eyelids rose a fraction of an inch, and Fred realized that she had brown eyes. He didn't really know why this was of such sudden import to him at that moment, but he had always expected her to have cold, bitter-coloured eyes. Not that cinnamon brown. Molly Weasley eyes. Strange, that this girl, of all people, should remind him of his mother.
"Who did this to you, Parkinson? How much pain are you in, really?"
"Enough. Enough to… notice," Her voice cracked on the last syllable, and a strange curve rounded her lips. "I did this to myself, Weasley. You, of all people, should be able to understand that," she whispered hoarsely.
"No. You did not do this to yourself!" Before he could stop himself, Fred felt his fingers curl into her upper arms and press down. "Somebody who had no right to take a life hurt you. So do not blame yourself," Fred ground out, the words coming out of his mouth seemingly of their own volition.
A laugh scraped up her throat, forcing the blood in her lungs to bubble up out of her mouth.
"Damn it, Parkinson!" He shook her shoulders, feeling her soft bones rattle around in her fractured frame. "Don't give up. Live!" he yelled, his breaths coming in great, heaving gasps.
He didn't realize until almost thirty seconds had passed that he was shaking a dead body, covered in her blood in the middle of a seventh floor corridor.
May 3rd, 1998. 0130 hours.
On that early morning, in the last few hours of the Battle of Hogwarts, Fred Weasley died. I will not disclose how he died, where he died, or what colour underwear he was wearing when he died, for I believe that that would be considered an invasion of his privacy.
I will, however, tell you this.
A person's last few moments on Earth are precious. Fred Weasley was alike most other human beings in that he thought about his family, his girlfriend, and his dreams in the last few seconds of his life. But what made Fred Weasley different was this:
Just before Fred Weasley closed his eyes to surrender himself to that great and final abyss, he thought of a sad girl with eyes that reminded him of his mother's.
In his last moments, Fred Weasley thought of me.
I know this story is strange. It may very well have been pointless. Some of you are quite possibly sitting in your ergonomically-designed chairs right now and wondering why you just wasted your time reading a story that probably didn't even make much sense.
I'm sitting up here wondering something similar. Floating between worlds, in a place I can't really describe, I have a lot of time to think. I can see everything, you included. I'm watching you read this right now, actually. I suppose in the afterlife, or whatever this is, we arrive at different conclusions about where we go from here. Is this eternity? I don't know, and maybe I never will. Yet, I will move forward. I'm not positive that it's possible for me to go anywhere, but I will make the motions nonetheless.
Even if I never find what I'm searching for, each step is taking me closer. Closer to what? Your guess is as good as mine. There is life, there is death, and there is something that is bigger than both of them combined. I think, if anything, that's what I'm looking for. Maybe it's orange hair and crooked teeth, or a boy that held his enemy as she died with cobblestone creases on her cheeks.
Because to me, that means the world and more.