The Greatest Treason

The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
- T.S. Eliot

"Yes, a werewolf -- but of course you shouldn't mention this to anyone . . ."

Of course, I knew perfectly well that they would. The gossip would be all through the House by ten minutes after the end of breakfast, and all through the School by the end of the first period, if not before. The owls would be coming tomorrow. He'd be out of the school by the end of the week.

And it was all for the best. That had been proved last night, when he -- no, the creature, don't give it the dignity of a human name, a human identity -- had almost run wild. It was a simple matter of safety. The school's safety. The safety of the children.

glass shivers

It was for the best.

glass splinters

It's not even that I hate him personally, hate it, hate the thing, hate the monster that nearly killed me . . .

glass cracks

I watch my own face in the mirror. Once again, there is no truth in my eyes.

I'm tired.

Make it stop. But I can't make it stop, I have to finish what I have begun. I have to do what I know I must do, and the price of self-knowledge is the self-knowledge itself, because then abandoning it means losing it, and if you truly know yourself then you must act on that knowledge, and this winds downwards into a spiral which leaves me with No. Choice. At. All.

Yes, I could choose to do less, or to do nothing, but that would be rejecting everything which I have won back with such pain over the last fifteen years. Throw it all away. Is it really worth that much?

Slytherins can lie to anybody they want to except themselves. I believe Salazar Slytherin must have known that. The only way that ambition and self-will can be safely channelled -- safely for society at large, that is -- is when the perpetrators, pardon me, the members of the House, do so while being fully aware of the consequences, on themselves and on others, and do not lie to themselves about what they are doing. The only circumstances under which we can allow ourselves to break the rules is when we admit to ourselves what we are doing.

glass in a thousand thousand tiny pieces on the floor

So why did I drop those few casual little words into the conversation?

I know, and I realise that I have betrayed myself again, taken a knife to what small fragments of personal integrity I possessed, gone against Dumbledore's express wishes, just for a single little moment of bitterness and resentment, the fruit of twenty years anger.

It's stupid and ridiculous.

I was going to be the hero. Just once. I would have dealt with the murderer, proved the werewolf a danger, saved Potter and the other two and rubbed their noses in it just enough to see genuine realisation and understanding in their eyes. Not gratitude. I don't want their gratitude. Maybe a little respect? Perhaps just a little.

Words are like blood, they coil so thickly in the back of your throat, they taste so salty and bitter, they will not come out, but they lurk there and make sure that you understand.

And I was right. I was doing the right thing. That is the truth. It's all I have left of last night now. I honestly thought . . .

Would it have been so much trouble, this morning, to choke down one more dose of bitterness?

no glass left for a reflection

but I know my own eyes too well

I know why I said what I said. "Yes, a werewolf . . ."

And it wasn't for the children or the school or any of that.

Nobody can betray us as well as we can ourselves.


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