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Harper’s POV

ONE YEAR LATER

 

 

My fingers trail over your gravestone, bathed in warm afternoon sunlight. Can you feel me Ava? Do you know I’m here? 

 

Ever since you left this world, I’ve had this heavy sadness that follows me like a ghost, attached to me with a chain. Sometimes that sadness floats farther way, but it’s always there. It goes hand in hand with the regret I feel on a daily basis that I can’t seem to forgive myself for. I made the same mistake as you, letting anger win out over everything. 

 

I wasn’t there for you in your final moments, was too angry that you’d fallen into your habits again to be there. I didn’t even come to St. Mungo’s, staying in the house, pacing the whole time. I ripped apart a few pillows waiting, and didn’t even cry at first when Ginny came back with the news. Lily cried, but I didn’t. Al cried, staying at our house that night, still covered in you, but I didn’t. You begged him to save you that night, and he tried so hard, do you know that? 

 

You’re gone Ava, I’ll never see you again. I hope wherever you are, you’re happy. Maybe you fell into a better world where things were as they should have been, all of us as a happy family. I’ve started having this dream since you died, where we’re all having a picnic under an oak tree, and you’re so blissfully happy. I pray it’s true for you, cause it’s certainly not true for us. 

 

Dad wanted to bury you in the family plot, but Charlotte fought him tooth and nail to lay you to rest here. She said that in life, you were happiest in Colorado, far away from everything that hurt you so much. So, she bought a plot of land with pastures for horses, and a small log cabin, and buried you under this tree that looks over it all. We planted flowers all around you, mostly peonies. You always loved them so much. I can’t look at them now without crying. 

 

I miss you Ava, so much it hurts sometimes. I thought we’d have so much more time together, time to repair things. Time for you to get better, for all of us to get better. I thought in a few years, we’d be three sisters united, still bearing scars but happy despite all of it. 

 

I had this idea that when I stopped being angry at you for the choices you made, for not being stronger, that I’d ask you why you did those things. Why fall into bed with Avery, the exact type of guy that should have made even your skin crawl. Why allow those powders and potions into your bloodstream, to take you away from reality. Why? Why? Why? 

 

You can’t answer me now, so I’m left to fill it all in myself. Charlotte found those letters you wrote the day you died, and they sounded like suicide notes, but she’s so certain they’re not. You have no idea how much your death shattered her, Ava, and sometimes I’m still mad at you for hurting her. She tried so hard to reach out to you, to give you something stable, to give you a better future, and you destroyed her. But, none of this was about her, or me, was it? 

 

It was us not able to understand the disease you carried. I’ve read a lot about addiction since you died, and understand that it’s not just something you can will yourself to be stronger than. It’s not a bad habit, like biting your nails, or being negative. It’s a battle, something you would have had to fight everyday for the rest of your life. I’m sorry Ava, that I didn’t understand. I thought you were being selfish, and stupid, and I knew you could be so much more. I didn’t understand that trauma hit us all differently, and it hit you hardest of all.  

 

I’m so, so sorry. It took a while, but I can’t stop crying when I think of you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I should have been there. I should have been brave like Charlotte, holding your hand until the very end. 

 

The day after you died, Mum showed up on the doorstep, said she’d seen you the day before and heard about what happened. She wanted to share her condolences, like you were the daughter of a friend, and not a daughter of her own blood. She wanted to talk more about the change in decor at the townhouse. 

 

Gods Ava, I wish you could have seen what that did to Charlotte. It was such a strange, dual moment, her realizing what had set you off and that instant bit of forgiveness that passed over her face. Then she was unleashed. I’ve never seen her like that, ever. I didn’t think she could do something like that, scream at mother. She screamed, and eventually forced her out of the house. Charlotte told her that she never wanted to see her again, that she didn’t deserve to breathe the same air as us. 

 

I was so proud of her, for saying what we’d all wanted to see, her igniting with power. I think you and I both underestimated her, but I know I won’t do that again. Despite losing you a year ago, she’s doing so well. James is still madly in love with her, though they don’t see each other enough, they’re endgame. She’s gone headfirst into her Healer apprenticeship, motivated by your death to learn more than they knew. Her speciality is going to be magic and addiction now. She’s still trying to save you, even in death. God, it’s painful to watch sometimes, but at least she’s remembered how to smile and laugh again.

 

I’m thinking more and more about the future, one more year at Hogwarts before it’s all done. I’m not sure what my life will be, what I want to do, but I know I don’t want to be behind a desk. I love being outside, and moving around a lot. I don’t want to stay put, not like Charlotte. Lily feels the same, we both want to travel a lot. We’re gonna live together after graduation. Like, live together. I love her. 

 

Did you ever know, about me? That I’m gay? I always wanted to tell you, used to stay up late some nights imagining how it would go with you. I knew Charlotte would be cool with it, but I never could settle on how you’d react. You’d either be supportive, and tell me you already knew and what took me so long— or you’d tell me that it wasn’t cool and you didn’t want to know. 

 

I always felt like it was obvious, that we were definitely more than best friends, but I guess we hid it better than I thought. At first, for many,  many years, that’s all we were — best friends. Then something changed, slowly at first, and then — boom. We were more. I wish I could have told you, and known what you thought. 

 

I wish you’d been able to find someone you loved. Always used to think it would be Al, and then I’d think it was stupid that all three of us sisters fell in love with each of the Potter children, like a perfect fairytale. James and Charlotte are forever, that much I know. They’ll be engaged in a few years, I know it, and then I’m betting I’ll be an Auntie to a boat load of little rugrats not long after. Charlotte’s going to find so much healing as a mother, I almost wish she could get pregnant now. But no. There’s other things she needs to do first. 

 

What else? 

 

Al is … doing okay. He misses you, feels partly responsible, like Charlotte. He wishes, like all of us, that he’d tried harder to push back when you pushed us away. He’s dating someone new now, and I like her a lot. Sierra has helped him heal a lot, she’s so positive. Sometimes too positive. She’s American, from California. A Thunderbird from Illvermorny that hails from a family that owns a vineyard. She’s an incredible cook, even better than Charlotte. You probably don’t want to hear about her though do you? 

 

What else can I tell you?

 

Charlotte and I have decided to host a yearly camping trip with Orion once I graduate, and later when he’s old enough, our other new brother. Apollo. He’s the spitting image of you as a baby, maybe you reincarnated into the same family. I hope not, for your sake. Our brothers will at least have a semi-decent mother. She loves them, but she also loves planning parties and being the wife of a powerful, busy man. Father is the same parent he always was, now he just had boys to pass along the family name. 

 

After you died, Charlie and I decided we didn’t want them to feel like we wanted nothing to do with them, despite our massive age gaps. So we’re always going to invite them to come to London for holidays and will plan a yearly trip with them. We’re taking Orion camping through Yellowstone in a few weeks, he’s looking forward to seeing bears and wolves. James is coming too. 

 

It’s hard to think about the future without you in it. Somedays, my brain tricks me into thinking you’re just off on a grand adventure in a tropical island, and I’ll think about what we’ll do when you get back, and then I remember it all over again. Me talking to your gravestone will be all that I have with you. Forever. 

 

It’s such a painful word, forever. I’ll never touch you again, or see you smile, or help you with anything. You’ll never help me anything. Never help me make midnight cookies again, or tell me a story when I can’t sleep like you did when I was little. 

 

If there’s any part of you that’s still here, can you send a sign, that you’re happy? I couldn’t bear to think of you living in pain in a different life. You carried enough here. Send a sign please. 

 

I need to go now. Charlotte will come out later, but for now, she’s working on fixing up the cabin so we can come visit and have a safe place to live. It’s a good thing we have magic to speed it along. 

 

So yeah, next time I’m here, if you’re happy wherever you are, make one of these peonies white instead of this bright pink we planted. It can happen right, I’m a witch after all, who’s to say you can’t change the color of a flower from another dimension? 

 

I love you Ava. I miss you. 

 

I wish this was different. 

 

I miss you. 

 

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