“Do you ever dream that this life was completely different from how it *really* is?”
He asked me this question so quietly. As if asking it might cause it to happen. To change reality with mere words.
And how to answer him? Just ignore it. That’s the best way. Give a small glare then back to my task at hand.
And he is quiet now. Good. I hate it when he talks.
He talks too much. Thinks too much. Digs too much into my head.
How dare he…insolent brat. Behaving like I would at his age.
But it’s too late now. The question bothers me. Makes me get up and walk out of the room, paying no heed to his soft words behind me.
And I wonder about changing reality. Dark to light. Death to life.
Fresh fallen leaves echo underneath my boots, then I hear a distant wind…rattling the limbs of birch trees. Snaps and cracks, wood ready to break. And I have the urge to fly again. But I’ve put that away.
I’ve put all of that away. Forever.
No more text books. No more flying. No more of that life.
Now, I focus on my home. My books. My trees and crisp autumn apples. But today…
I focus on the past.
Damn that question! Damn that infernal boy…..
I smoke and walk. Walk and smoke. Why did I take him in anyway? His child…..
To redeem myself? To see if I still could care?
I don’t care. I never cared. They should have known that. *He* should have known that. But how could he know. He is gone. A legend. Stones of marble, carved with adoring hands….now he towers, lifeless.
And I took his son. I raise him with little compassion and little caring, just learning and loneliness. Things taught to me, I pass on. Snape would be proud I think. I am quick and to the point, no prattle or coddling.
The boy is somewhat like me now, just a tad softer. Too open with his eyes. Like his father before him.
Just like his dead father.
I crush the tip of my cigarette out with my fingers and relish the burn on my skin. I look up at the sky.
Very gray, ripples of shadow. Snow.
I carry in wood, letting it drop carelessly to the floor by the fireplace. And the boy sleeps, his dinner already eaten, his juice downed. His arm hangs low, almost dragging on the cold floor.
Raven hair, so unruly….
And I imagine it is Harry lying there. Emerald eyes would open and I would tell him of all the mess of my heart. How I hate him still. How I came to love him. How I was too afraid to tell him the truth when he asked me.
How he should be alive. To see his son, to hold him close at night, to give him love.
For I cannot. I cannot love him at all.
I only keep the boy to have a piece of Harry with me. To grip onto any shred of that faded love that never came about.
I couldn’t let the boy’s mother have him. All that was Harry was inside this boy….and I took him. She has stopped searching for us. Maybe she does not care anymore. The boy is not Harry, just an image of him.
I reach over and touch the boy’s cheek. A red flush creeps on his face, heat rushing to warm his chilled body. I cover him with a blanket and go upstairs.
I try to sleep, but I dream. All night. Sometimes with my eyes screwed shut, other times with them wide open. I dream of Harry. Of kissing him, of hurting him. Of loving him too much, of driving him away from me forever. Of altering the past and giving him a future. Not of death and fear.
But of love and safety. With me.
But I wake to icy drifts and coffee. Harry is still dead. And the boy, Harry’s child, reads at my kitchen table.
The boy reads all day and all night. His only company in this isolation. Every book I have collected has been touched by his fingers. Thumbed thoroughly and devoured.
I walk again. His idle question still bothers me even today. The smoke from the fire rises. The hardened snow breaks.
And I see him race to the forest edge, ruddy cheeked and smiling…falling into white. I cannot recall a time when my movements were that uncontrolled.
Except for holding onto a dead man’s child, looking into those familiar eyes day in and day out. Hoping that the boy would melt away and be replaced by his father.
That was more than lack of control. It was foolish. Such futile longing. A small chuckle emits from my mouth….a bitter sound. How *very* foolish.
I see his tiny arms outstretch, mimicking wings. He runs and falls, runs and tries to glide. Tries to fly. But he cannot.
And our eyes meet. So many questions I see lurking there….questions he refrains from asking, knowing I will give no answer.
So, I turn away from his gaze, from shards of green that stab my very soul. And I go back home. And I pour a drink. And I smoke.
Soon, I hear his boots on the floor. A chair scraping on the wood.
And a part of me wants to answer his single query. Yes…I dream of life being quite unlike it is.
But dreams are mere fancy.
I deal in reality. Very cold reality. And when you cannot stop dreaming of a different life?
You just let them wash over you, tearing a piece off of you each time. Then they pass, if only for a while.
But I do not answer him. I let him read. I finish my drink and my smoke. Then we sleep, each to our own dreams. Only to wake to reality.
And save those fantasy lives for night.
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