Author Notes: One-Shot. Very angsty! Watch out! I don't know what possessed me to write this, but the idea wouldn't leave me alone until I sat down and carried through. The style is first person, and almost stream of conscience, so it's a little weird. You're looking through her eyes as she remembers. I omitted certain names for a reason, by the way...
Warning: Again—extremely heavy angst. Depression. Serious themes. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor anything remotely related. I do not have permission to write this story, and I am not making any money from writing it.
I have always loved him from afar. Ever since I first caught sight of him at Kings Cross, I knew that no one else could ever be as perfect as he was. His laugh was contagious, his eyes glowed, and a single smile could light an entire room. At first I was captivated by what he was. Famous. Special, because he had done what no one else could do. Until I, too, went to Hogwarts, my crush was based on whim and fancy. What I wanted him to be. In my mind, he was perfect, without a single flaw.
If nothing else can be said about him, he always made one hell of a first impression on you.
He made a fairly powerful second, third, and fourth impression, as well. When he came to stay at my house right before my first year, my heart was beating so frantically that I thought it would burst. He was right there! Sitting in my kitchen! I spent the summer enthralled, though I ran every time he so much as looked my way.
All through my first year, I watched him. Every time I saw him I felt like it was the first time, and each time I was spellbound all over again. I told Tom all about him. Tom was impressed, and gave me tips on watching him, and I became rather good at professional stalking. I never took my eyes off him if I had a choice. Under Tom's tutelage I found out more about him. He wasn't all perfect—he had bad habits, quirks and endearing traits. He rubbed his neck when embarrassed. He was tidy to the point of being scary, but only when it came to areas other than his own. If his things were in an area that he considered "his" then he wasn't such a neat freak—god help him if he left a mess down in the common room, though! He was always quiet, unless he was with Hermione and my brother. He walked with his eyes trained on his feet, head down. He had a tendency to slouch. He was mostly oblivious.
When I threw Tom's diary away and found out that he had it, I almost died, and I don't mean that just as a figure of speech. My heart was beating faster than was safe, and I began to hyperventilate. Until I had a chance to "rescue" him from the diary, I shook badly and couldn't keep anything down. I knew then that I would die for him. If it came down to the diary killing me or killing him, I would sacrifice myself every time.
The end of my first year is slightly blurry, though I can still vividly remember crying as he died in front of my eyes. That image is burned forever into my mind. He sat there, dying, and he smiled at me. It's all right now, he told me, everything will be okay. But I knew it wouldn't. He was dying.
Later, much later, it would occur to me to be astonished by how cavalier he was about death. Every year he put himself into situations that should have killed him. Every year—except one—he came out with a smile to say that it's all right now, everything will be okay.
I watched him through the next few years, making use of what Tom taught me. He might be an evil snake-faced bastard, but he was damn good when it came to lurking, and I wasn't about to let that go to waste.
By the time I was a Third Year, I wasn't quite so obvious about my crush. I'd learned to be normal about it. No more stalking. Of course, by that time I knew everything there was to know about him. Now I ask myself if things would be different if I'd kept up my watch.
When Neville asked me to the Yule Ball, I was tempted to say no. I wanted him to ask me, not one of his friends. Then I remembered that I wasn't going to be so obvious anymore. Besides—he wasn't going to ask me. This was my only chance. I went with Neville. After that, I decided that it might be a good idea to try dating a few other guys. After all, I couldn't devout my life to watching him—if he came around, all well and good. If not, well, I ought to have a life.
I experimented with dating. I learned to kiss. I learned what to wear to make a guy look at you that way. I didn't throw myself at him, but only because he wasn't the type of guy to respond well to that sort of thing. Besides—I refused to pose as a harlot. I am not a scarlet woman. But I did learn. Like with Tom, just because I wasn't sure I liked it, it didn't mean that it wasn't good stuff to know.
I began to casually observe him again when I was in Fourth Year. Not to the degree of stalking I'd partaken in earlier, but still observation. I was especially enthralled during the DA practices. He carried himself like a born leader sometimes, but at others he looked like a First Year surrounded by Seventh Years. I tried to figure out what triggered the differences, and learned more about the way his brain worked.
I knew from the beginning that his relationship with Chang was doomed. She was completely wrong for him. She didn't know that he appreciated sarcasm, or that his favorite color was dark green. She didn't know that he liked fast paced conversation, or that keeping secrets drove him mad. She didn't know him. I can't say I was disappointed when they broke up.
At the end of the year, when he was headed to the Department of Mysteries, I knew I had to go along to watch his back. I trusted no one else with the task. I knew him. I understood him. I could anticipate which way he would run, which spells he might use. I was the ideal person to have at his back. So I came, despite the fact he so desperately didn't want me to. I had to be there, and I'm glad I went.
When Sirius fell through the Veil, I thought he would follow. He practically screamed his pain. Every gesture had that little something that was his way of telling people that he was hurting and that he needed help. No one else knew how to listen, though. No one else could hear. When I told mum, she just patted my shoulder and told me that it was okay. He was hurting, but that was to be expected. I told her that it was something more, that this wasn't at all normal or to be expected. I think she's sorry now that she didn't heed my warning.
The summer passed. The next time I saw him I almost broke into tears. He wasn't my precious boy anymore. He had changed. He kept everything obsessively spotless. He was even more quiet than usual. He had always been something of a brooder, but he took it to a whole new level that year. His temper became legendary, right next to Professor Snape's. He sat up straight. He gazed straight ahead when he walked. He became completely oblivious to anything not directly related to You-Know-Who.
When he went after the Dark Lord that year, he slipped off on his own. He told no one what he planned, told no one that he was going, took no one to guard his back. Three weeks passed without word. Three weeks of agony that I drifted through in a daze. I don't remember anything from that time except the constant tears, the constant ache, and the constant fear. Where was he? He needed to be there, to hug me, to tell me that it's all right now, everything will be okay.
Three weeks passed, and he returned to the castle. I thought he had been different when he came back from the summer, but it was nothing to the changes now. Cleanliness was no longer an issue. He only spoke when spoken to, and then it was only in one syllable or less. His temper was non-existent, and not even Snape and Malfoy combined could provoke anything more than a half-hearted shrug. He slouched. He kept his eyes on his feet as he walked. He was oblivious to everything.
I went back to watching him with the same intensity I had during my first year. I saw the same edge to his movements that I'd seen the previous year—the one that begged for someone to help him. I told Professor Dumbledore. The Headmaster's eyes twinkled as he told me not to worry; his Golden Boy was just recovering from the Final Battle. It was nothing that wasn't to be expected. I just needed to hold on, and everything would be right as rain in a month. I kept my watch. The edge got louder and louder, and he became more and more quiet.
A month passed. I voiced my worry to several more people, all of whom brushed me aside, saying he was back to normal. He was anything but. I chose to take things into my own hands. I was already one of the few he would still talk to, so I held hope. I told him that I knew I couldn't understand everything he'd been through, but at least I could listen. I could hold him while he cried. He looked at me like I imagine a drowning man might. Like I had tossed him a rope. The smile he gave me was a broken reflection of the one that used to light the room, but I didn't notice then—he had smiled, and that was all that mattered.
Over the next few days, he began to open up to me. He told me things that, quite frankly, scared the shit out of me. The first time that he cried on my shoulder, I cried on his as well. I held him tight that night, and I told him that I was so, so sorry. And he gave me his tiny broken smile. It's all right now, he told me. Everything will be okay.
As he opened up, I stopped scrutinizing him quite so much. He was getting help, and he deserved his privacy. I wish now that I hadn't. I feel as though I might have been able to see what was happening. As it was, I still saw a certain edge to his movements, but I was doing everything in my power to help him. Everybody else only saw his improvement, and they wouldn't even listen to me anymore. His responses expanded into two, then three syllables, until finally he spoke in complete sentences. He never smiled for anyone but me, and I thought that odd—but it warmed me inside, so I didn't comment.
The first time we kissed, I knew I'd found my home. I belonged right there, in his arms. Everything would be okay, as long as we had each other. The first time we made love, I knew that I could never love anyone but him. Later, I would wonder slightly at the frenzy of our actions, the speed of our developing relationship. I would think it odd that we got together so quickly, after so many years. But, I reasoned, maybe it was because of so many years spent watching. I gave myself to him body, mind, and soul, and he gave himself back to me.
We had two months together. I thought he was getting better, as we lay on his bed and shared our thoughts, our fears, and our love. I cradled his head to my bosom, and told him that he was everything I could have ever wanted. He responded in kind.
It was my brother who found us sleeping together. He looked at the two of us as if we our sole purpose in this was to hurt him. Like we were committing the ultimate betrayal. He didn't say anything, but my love saw his eyes. That was the last time we slept together, and the last time the two of us talked privately. I went back to watching him. He was screaming again, but no one listened.
I sometimes wish I hadn't followed him that night. Hadn't seen what I saw. I wish that I had stayed safely in my room—or better yet, gone up to his dorm to look at his bed. But I didn't. I snuck out behind him as he drifted through the halls listlessly. Headed for the Astronomy Tower. I figured he had a new girl, and let myself fall further and further behind. I wasn't sure I wanted to see her, this new girl who had ensnared him. Heart rules Head—if I had kept my emotions in check, I would've seen the screams of pain he sent echoing through the empty castle.
I dawdled outside the Tower before I steeled myself to enter. I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd been more Gryffindor, and summoned the courage to simply barge in there. If I had, maybe I wouldn't be here now.
I look down into the crib of my child and stroke back his beautiful black hair. He blinks at me sleepily, green eyes glowing with life. My little James Harry. Oh my precious baby, I wish I'd been there in time. I wish I'd been able to stop him. I wish I wasn't the one to scream as he tumbled down. I wish I hadn't had to sit there, cradling his broken body, wondering when someone would find us, as I stroked his cold forehead.
I haven't spoken a word since that day. Everyone tried to get me to talk, but I wouldn't. I left school—I couldn't stay where his presence lingered, where I could imagine him sitting with me, laughing. I pick up my son, and I rock him. I cradle his head to my bosom, and see his father's broken smile, and hear the echo of his father's voice.
It's all right now. Everything will be okay. You are everything I ever wanted, and I love you. I'm sorry.