I’ll never forget that morning, even though I’d rather not remember. We knew that he often couldn’t sleep, and wandered the corridors endlessly, but he always returned by sunup. And he was never late for breakfast. He was often even early.
His curtains were always drawn, whether the bed was in use or not. And he always made it himself; neatness was a byproduct of his early years, which were mostly spent in servitude.
But in the hall, he could not be found, and no one else noticed, because he often skipped meals if he was nervous. We began to worry when he wasn’t found before the first class. We ran to the dormitories and pulled hack his curtains, expecting to see him still fast asleep, perhaps sick. He was notorious for ignoring the workings of his own body. It had almost gotten him killed more than once. Maybe this time was not exception.
I almost fainted when I saw what was there.
Two letters, one addressed to each of us, and an additional one addressed to Dumbledore.
With a shaking hand I broke the emerald green seal. It cracked across the lightning bolt that had become his symbol in our world. In everyone’s eyes, he was the equal of the Greek god Zeus – all-powerful, the savior and hero. I still have that cracked seal.
The small feeling of dread that had been stationed at the bottom of my stomach slowly spread upwards and gripped my heart tightly. I couldn’t breathe, and I collapsed on his bed, the letter clutched to my chest and tears flowing freely down my face. I was lost in my own thoughts and pulled my wand on the person who put an arm around my shoulder.
When his red hair registered in my numbed mind, my wand clattered to the floor, rolling away. I leaned into Ron’s shoulder, clutching him as hard as I could. I lost one friend that day, and I clung to the other as if my life depended on it. I think that at the time it did. And it still does, even now.
As I stood at the alter during our wedding, a different face swam before my eyes. Black hair, instead of red; green eyes, instead of blue. My husband knew it then, and he knows it now. He’s read my most treasured possession – once, before we were married, and I’ve read my husband’s most treasured as well. This arrangement was his wish, and neither myself or my husband had the will to disobey his last request.
Our families are happy, not knowing the real reason behind it. We have no children, telling his mother that we didn’t want any. The truth is that we’ve never been alone in our bed. No matter how fare away we move, his ghost is always there – stalking, whispering, loving. His letter is with me always, close to my heart. I read it at least once, even though I recite it several hundred times, a day.
His handwriting and the broken seal are the last remains I have of him. His belongings were taken to a museum, despite his wishes. His wand lied besides it’s brother, the last remains of his enemy, who disappeared the same day he did.
I handle the old, frail parchment carefully as I read:
On a day, alack the day!
Love, whose month is ever May,
Spied a blossom passing fair
Playing in the wanton air:
Through the velvet leaves the wind,
All unseen, ’gan passage find;
That the lover, sick to death,
Wished himself the heaven’s breath.
Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;
Air, would I might triumph so!
But, alack, my hand is sworn
Ne’er to pluck thee from thy thorn:
Vow, alack for youth unmeet;
Youth so apt to pluck a sweet.
Do not call it sin in me
That I am forsworn for thee:
Thou for whom e’en Jove would swear
Juno but an Ethiope were,
And deny himself for Jove,
Turning mortal for they love.
This is us, Hermione. I can’t deny it any longer, but I also can’t be near you when I do admit it. I’m sorry I can’t say this to your face, but by the time you find this, I won’t be talking anymore.
Do not worry about my enemy. He will be gone, beyond all hope of return when you read.
I hope that you and Ron will be happy together without risking your lives every year. I hope your children will know what happiness is and what life is without an enemy dogging their steps when they grow up.
I want you to promise me a few things, Hermione:
*1: Do not turn on Ron. You will need him as much as he needs you – but neither of you will admit it. Stay together, and help each other.
*2: Do NOT, under any circumstances follow my footsteps. There are people who need you. Stay with them.
*3: My last request will be the hardest to follow. I want you and the rest of the world to forget me. I have not done anything worth remembering. If you must keep a memory, remember my parents, remember Cedric Diggory, Remember Neville and his parents. But forget I ever lived, because I only ever existed.
I love you, My Hermione.
* * *
We found him at the foot of the astronomy tower. On his face was the only peaceful expression I have ever seen there.
In a horrifying moment, I knew what he had done, and I wanted to follow more than anything else.
But I had promised that I wouldn’t. His funeral was open only to the Hogwarts professors, our closest friends, and the Weasleys. The minister was not allowed on the grounds that day. He had hated Fudge. For fifty years I have kept my last promises to him, except for the last.
I love you, Harry, and I’ll never forget you.