Green Candles
Disclaimer: The poem is by Humbert Wolfe.

"There's someone at the door," said gold candlestick:
"Let her in quick, let her in quick!"

Sometimes I wonder if I should read fiction, but there is neither time nor space for anything so frivolous in the current situation. Voldemort wants to kill Harry. It seems almost an anticlimax to add that he also wants to destroy Hogwarts, kill all Muggle-borns -- like me -- rule the wizarding world, and so on.

Then I read it anyway. I have time. Sleep is . . . less necessary than some people would think. They waste their time dreaming the night away, curled up in their beds, eyes tight shut. I make things happen. There is always a way, if you look hard enough, if you try hard enough.

I know that Harry is fated -- prophesied -- whatever you want to call it, to be the Boy Who Kills Voldemort, or the Boy Who Lived, or whatever. The second is in the past. The first is only a possibility. Professor Trelawney is a fraud. The future is what we make it.

"There is a small hand groping at the handle.
Why don't you turn it?" asked green candle.

This place is haunted by the past. The spectres of the Founders hang over us like thunderheads in a storm about to break. Courage, Learning, Perseverance . . . and Ambition.

One thing that I don't tell Harry and Ron is that you should never entirely trust received history. Of course I quote Hogwarts: A History at them (I really cannot understand why nobody else ever bothers to read it) but only when it comes to genuine, provable fact. I mean, how are we going to be represented in a thousand years? Saints? Sinners? If Voldemort wins, we may still be hanging around -- in cages so that he can poke us with a stick whenever he gets bored. I have absolutely no delusions about what he might do. Harry and Ron just think in terms of death. I have more imagination than them. They think that he'd just kill Snape, if he found out what he'd done, what he's doing. I haven't bothered suggesting alternative possibilities. Why make it worse for them?

We're all mad. How can human beings do things like this? How can anyone do something like this to someone else? It doesn't make sense.

"Don't go, don't go," said the Hepplewhite chair,
"Lest you find a strange lady there."

I am the worst hypocrite of all. Innocent of all save malice . . . It was so totally easy to use that spell on Neville, poor harmless innocent pathetic little Neville, and leave him lying there helpless on the ground. Of course, it was necessary, but Harry and Ron wouldn't have done it.

They couldn't have done it.

I had to do it, because they simply did not even think of doing it. So I pointed the wand and cast the spell. And then they had the gall to look at me with an instant's fear in their eyes, as though they were surprised that I could do such a thing. What did they plan to do? Brawl on the floor and try to knock each other out?

It's a good thing that one of us has a sense of proportion. The situation justified the means.

But what does that ultimately lead to? How far am I going to have to be prepared to go, in the current situation? They justified the Aurors using the Unforgivable Curses before, when they were hunting down Voldemort's agents. They justified imprisonment without trial, execution without trial, torture of suspects -- for why else would they have wanted Crucio? -- and judicial murder. Let's be honest about this. How long is it going to take before things start going that way again?

I know perfectly well that I would kill if necessary, and the knowledge doesn't even frighten me.

"Yes, stay where you are," whispered the white wall:
"There is nobody there at all."

The whole House system is mildly ridiculous. Am I supposed to be lacking in other areas, just because I was Sorted into Gryffindors? Rubbish. I am just as hard-working, just as intelligent -- and just as cold-blooded. I will do whatever is necessary to protect the people who I care about. Whether or not they know about it. They wouldn't understand. They're Gryffindors in the truest sense of the noun: brave, noble, heroic, stupid. Why do I have to care about them so much?

And what is it that I'm trying not to think about?

I've had . . . offers, suggestions, whatever you want to call it. Despite the public hostility of Malfoy and other Slytherins, it's been mentioned in places where I could hear it that those people of "unfortunate birth" who still choose to follow Voldemort can launder their origins, rise to power, keep their families safe. The last bit wasn't actually said out loud, but it was understood. We're all so good at understanding the things which aren't said. They aren't asking me to betray anyone (yet) or anything (yet). Just to . . . consider. Remember. Think.

The paper of the Muggle (doesn't it ever worry you how easily you use the term, Hermione?) book in front of me is nothing but paper and ink. No facts, only a story. It won't tell me anything except what I already know.

"As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means."

Even Ron could see the fallacies in that. Even I can see the truths.

"I know her little foot," grey carpet said:
"Who but I should know her light tread?"

Harry and Ron laugh at me when I object to breaking rules. I keep the rules because we will be punished if we're caught breaking them. I don't want to be serving a detention every weekend, or losing points for Gryffindor and then having to live with the House afterwards. It's not as if I have some sort of strange divine reverence for rules. People just like me created them because they felt that they were necessary to the functioning of the school -- or, on a larger scale, to society. I obey, when I do obey, because I don't want to suffer the penalties for disobedience.

Nobody has any authority over me unless I give it to them. My parents can't understand any of my life now that I'm a witch. Ron and Harry don't want to understand what we could do. As much as Voldemort. As little as the tiniest ant that is stepped on by the wayside. Draco Malfoy has some idea, some vague comprehension, but at the moment he's too busy being absorbed by petty rivalries.

And nobody, nobody matters as much to me as those two boys. I'll keep them safe, from Voldemort, from the rest of the world. Even if I have to pretend to join him. Even if I do join him. (Can't they see the storm coming?) However many lies. However many deaths.

I remember Harry repeating Quirrell's words, about how Voldemort had told him that there was no good or evil, only power and those too weak to seek it.

That's wrong. There are good and evil. But, frankly, I don't care.

I want the power to define my own reality.

I want the world.

"She shall come in," answered the open door,
"And not," said the room, "go out any more."


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