Chapter 1 : What's the Matter with Me
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Oh, poor, poor Harry Potter. Alone he stood on what was left of the tower where his mentor was killed after they had returned from retrieving what was no more than a piece of junk used to fool a madman. His hand was on a jagged stone that was once a battlement. He pushed it into the stone as hard as he could to feel the pain — to make sure he could feel something. The tower was now just a ragged mess of stone and wood from the magical bombardment it received just hours ago during the final battle between light and dark. There were few who were injured here as gravely as Harry was. As he looked out on to the fields where the Battle of Hogwarts was fought and the blood of his friends and enemies was spilled, Harry sighed a deep rattling breath. There was a gaping wound that would not close. It was in his heart.
“Damn you, Tom Riddle,” he said in a voice soaked in emotion. “Damn you and everything you stood for. I hope you rot in hell.”
Hot angry tears began coursing down his cheeks. For some reason he was unable to control his sobbing. The reason he gave to come back from death to his parents, his Godfather, and his mentor now seemed like a bridge too far for him.
He came back for love, he told himself. He told them he loved her and they agreed that he needed to return. But, they were wrong for letting him come back, he thought. The love he now knew was too far away from him. She would never want him. Not after what he had done to her. He had left her — he had hurt her. Even though he only intended on protecting her, he understood he did nothing.
“I’m a fool,” Harry said in his sobs. “I’m nothing more than a fool to think she would love me after what I’ve done.
I’ve done nothing but cause her pain and suffering. What the bloody hell was I thinking? I can’t hope for her to ever forgive me. ”
Behind him, the object of his love stood silent. Tears flowed down her cheeks as well from watching and listening to him. Her heart tore itself apart at Harry’s grief. Her feet were cemented into the stone. She could not bring herself to reach out to him and acknowledge his grief and that it was because of her.
He has to know that I love him, she thought, but how can I tell him.
Then the shrill sound of a Phoenix call reverberated over Hogwarts. Harry turned and caught a glimpse of the bright crimson and gold bird and immediately knew it was Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore’s familiar.
Even though Harry heard the song, and knew the song of the phoenix gives strength and hope to those it sings for, he felt nothing. To him this was a signal that he was no longer pure of heart. Or that he was just too far gone from ever having hope. He had no more strength.
As Fawkes trilled his last note, he flamed away, leaving Harry looking up across the sky, as his head lowered; he saw her flowing red hair and thought he was imagining Ginny standing at the entrance to the crumbling tower. She was still the most beautiful vision he could imagine.
“Suppose you’re here to prove I’m completely mental,” Harry said to what he thought was his imagination.
“Why would you say that?” Ginny asked shocking Harry to blink several times.
“I…err, I thought you, well I thought it was my imagination that you were here,” he said haltingly.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Harry said barely controlling himself from screaming his sorrow. “I don’t know how many times I can say it, but I really am. I didn’t mean for it to happen this way.”
It was Ginny’s turn to blink in confusion.
“You didn’t mean for what to happen what way?” She felt strength return to her legs and started toward him. “You didn’t mean to win?”
She took another step toward him and began firing off questions to clarify what he meant.
“You didn’t mean to beat Voldemort? You didn’t mean for the war to end?”
With each word Ginny was coming closer to him. His heart was racing. She was more beautiful than he remembered. But she looked the only way he could imagine her looking at him after all the pain he caused her — angry, upset, hurt.
“No, I’m just sorry that I didn’t…” Harry could not believe what he was about to say. But he stopped short. Then Ginny filled in the missing word.
“Die?” she asked.
Harry turned away from her quickly as his sobs resumed. He couldn’t allow himself to be this weak. He didn’t know what had come over him or why she was here. He wished it would all stop. Then he felt a coolness slowly sweep across his brow and move his sweat soaked fringe to the side. It was a smooth caress that touched deeper than anything…any one had ever touched him.
“Harry,” Ginny began, “It really is going to be better now. He’s dead. He won’t be a nightmare for your life anymore…you can live, because he did not survive.”
Harry looked up from his coughing sobs and did not see the disdain he thought she would have for him as she alluded to the prophecy that haunted him from the day the scar on his forehead made him the Boy Who Lived. Instead he saw the softness he craved.
“I’m sorry,” he said again. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me…I just wish…”
Ginny took Harry’s face into her small hands and turned him toward hers.
“Harry, you don’t have to wish anymore,” she said. “You just have to believe it.”
He looked deeply into the chocolate-brown eyes that held the keys to his heart.
“I love you,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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