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Parents are calling goodbyes and I add mine. "Bye, Hugo!", Rose calls back. "I'll be back soon!" Wheels slip and skid as they begin to turn on the rails, and the whistle of the train sounds a musical note through the platform. Then the breeze, as Lily pulls me back away from where the train is gathering speed. Then it's past and the sound fades into the distance. Mum takes my free hand and we leave the station.
Past and Future
"Why not? Why spend my entire life hoping for something that's never going to happen? The healers gave up before I was a year old. And so did you." I shove my chair back as I stand, then give it a harder push to make it fall over. It hits the ground with a dull thud; the floor isn't hard enough to cause a satisfying crash. One hand on the table to keep my bearings, I turn to face in the direction of the door and storm away.
Live in Concert
"Honestly, it doesn't make any difference to me whether I've got a good view or not; I can't see either way." I say it lightly, although I'm screaming inside. Why do I have to explain these things all the time, when I'm supposed to be enjoying myself? It's a concert, where you listen to the music. Surely it shouldn't matter whether I can see or not. But I'd rather explain myself than make Mum do it, because she always gets so awkward.
Empires Old and New
"I'm worried by how close some of the people I'm protecting come to being dark wizards. We have to protect political candidates regardless of their policies. Sometimes I wonder whether it was really a wise move for Kingsley to introduce his election reforms; it might be more democratic, but if it allows extremist blood-purists into power is it really a good thing?"
A Haunted House
"Shall we tell Hugo what we're doing today?" I start eating breakfast as they appear to have a silent conversation. They do that a lot. "Oh seriously, Ron, do you ever make decisions? Okay Hugo, we're going to see a harp teacher so you can have a go at playing one; you know you were interested at the concert? It's quite a long way because there aren't many harpists in the area and we wanted a good one." And because they had to find one willing to teach a blind boy like me.
A Birthday Present
On Wednesday I wake up, roll over, pull my duvet closer around me in the hope that I can get back to sleep- and remember that it's my birthday! So, try to get a few more minutes' sleep or rush downstairs?
"...House-elves may enjoy their work, but I don't think any species enjoys being forced to shut their ears in oven doors and iron their fingers. How would you like to have to beat yourselves over the head with whatever came to hand if you forgot to do something? I am not calling for an end to house-elf employment, just for some basic human decency with regards to their treatment."
Mum stands up and walks away from the kitchen table, opening and closing the fridge then plonking something down on the counter next to the cooker. There's a loud rattling as she rummages through the cutlery drawer, then the rhythmic thumping of chopping vegetables. Sometimes, Mum uses magic to cook, but today she's doing at least part of it herself.
Platform Nine and Three Quarters is less busy than it was in September but is certainly not empty. We arrive before the train gets in, so it's only adults and younger siblings. I unzip my jacket after a few minutes, because while it's freezing outside it's pretty warm in here. Unlike the first of September, where everything merged together, there are two clear scents filling the air: pumpkin pasties and coffee.
The Slytherin Conspiracy
"Bye, Hugo. Have a good Christmas."
Behind the Veil
"How does it feel, to not know what's out there? Not knowing what's inside the mist, not knowing whether it's the same as it was when the mist first came down. No idea whether things are moving out there; or whether they've disappeared completely and the world only consists of what you can see, a tiny island in a sea of nothing."
There's a tap on my door, and I roll over to scream, "Go away!" Whoever it is doesn't, but opens the door and steps just inside. "Go away go away go away..." tears prick at my eyes, betraying me. There's no reason why I should be crying! The only thing my stupid eyes are any good for is betraying me.
Hot and Cold
"Come on, Dom! Hurry up!" I run with the others, my hand in Lily's. It's easy to tell where everyone else is; there's shouting and squealing as snowballs fly. We're the only ones here, on some remote hill where muggles never come (Mum has apparently cast muggle-repelling charms just in case). Apparently it's the perfect place for everything snow-related: nice long slopes for tobogganing, and a big flat area on top for snowball fights and igloo building and snowmen.
For Family and Friends
She's telling us that everything will be alright, just like grown-ups always do. So many grown-ups told me that the healers would find a way to make me able to see, and later that being blind didn't really make a difference. There are normal lies and white lies, and grown-up lies. Although there's no real difference between normal lies and grown-up lies.
Beginnings and Ends
The Hogwarts Express leaves on a school day, so when I say goodbye to Rose it's actually me leaving the house, not her. When I get home in the afternoon, she's long gone, probably nearly in Hogsmeade by now.
Of National Importance
Mum sighs. "Can anyone actually remember what the sun looks like?"
Forms of Courage
The funeral for Norbert Leach takes place in the Atrium of the Ministry. There are already a lot of people there when Mum and I arrive and she guides me across to our seats. There's a sombre mood, as befits a funeral, little sound beyond low murmuring and the scuffling of feet on the polished floor.
A Desert Island
That was the plan, anyway. Practise my instruments, eat tea, then write. It all goes according to plan until I sit down at my desk, realise I've left my bag with my first draft and Brailler downstairs, go to get it, and hear Mum opening the window to let an owl into the kitchen. Story forgotten, I stick my head around the door.
You don't often get an unexpected knock on the door at half past nine in the evening. And it's even rarer for the visitors to be invited in at that time. I'm supposed to be in bed, but I creep out onto the landing and lie at the top of the stairs. The muffled sound of voices comes from the living room - Mum, Dad, and a man who's voice I don't recognise. I can't hear the words, but it's obvious from the tone that the strange man is telling Mum and Dad something important.
Lo, How a Rose
At the end of the Easter holidays, we go to Godric's Hollow again. Snuffles tugs on the lead and flails his tail against our legs, Mum worries about muggles seeing us, Uncle Harry trails behind with Dad valiantly trying to interest him in a conversation. It's warm but not sunny; the ground's muddy, but it hasn't actually rained since Easter Monday. The church bell signals ten o'clock as the gate creaks open and Aunt Ginny encourages us all into the garden of the house.
The term's almost over when we finally get the message to say we can visit Rose. There's no longer any danger of passing on the infection, but she's still far from recovered. The hospital wing is full; while quiet, I can hear sounds of people shifting in bed and the odd cough. It's got that hospital scent in the air, the one that I know all too well, of... well,cleanliness. Mostly it's the sterile clean smell, and then there are hints of potions and the bitter note of lavender.
The Start of Summer
I pad softly downstairs, settling myself on the harp stool. I don't feel like playing any tunes, but I run my hands gently up the strings. The sound's discordant, infinitely complex, and yet pure and simple at the same time. Like life. Discordant, complex, but all based around the simplest concepts and all somehow fitting together.
“You always know what we’re thinking, don’t you?”
"Dia duit agus failte go dtí an Comórtas Domhanda Quidditch, uimhir ceithre cead, fiche á hocht - hello and welcome to the four hundred and twenty eighth Quidditch World Cup. Fáilte go hÉireann – welcome to Ireland!"
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