A/N: This is meant to be a short story, so it's going to be very fast-paced. :) Don't think that I'm trying to skip out on the detail--this was supposed to be a one-shot but I got sucked in. Also, I know sentence structure is horrible in this, please don't think that I'm incapable of writing correctly! :( The style this is written in wasn't meant to be perfect.
The Flame Was Drawn to the Moth
Her name was Moth, and she had been teased for it all her life.
Her parents had been in to that Muggle playwright Shakespeare, Harry guessed. She had one younger sister, Peaseblossom, and elder twin brothers named Cobweb and Mustardseed. Her mother called her children her little fairies, and they laughed and called her Titania.
Harry didn’t know much about Moth, but everything he did learn, he drank like a lost traveler who stumbled upon a sudden oasis. He knew that her hair was a mousy brown and that she had abnormally wide, murky-gray eyes. He knew that her lips were full and budding like two flowers. That nearly everybody in the school thought that she was stranger than Luna Lovegood. That they were probably right.
Harry knew that she loved birds.
“But don’t they eat moths?” retorted Harry, dropping a book from the rickety wooden chair with a loud thump. Dust poured from the pages and settled in a ring around the book, to join the sleepy dirt that had been in the unused classroom for ages.
Moth didn’t seem to find this very funny. “They’re just trying to survive,” she said defensively, and reached into a large, white birdcage shaped like a rounded cylinder. Hagrid was keeping smaller creatures inside the castle, including a wide array of magical birds that Harry was supposed to keep secret—McGonagall wanted them to stay outside in the cold, but Hagrid insisted they would freeze to death.
When Moth extracted her hand, a small, blue bird was in her tiny grasp. Harry had shown her the room and no one else.
“Have they ever tried to eat you?” Harry was still bitter after losing the Quidditch match to Slytherin. He was still bitter because it was Moth’s fault that he lost.
She didn’t know. But he felt justified that he was angry with her, for keeping him awake at night. Her wide gaze haunted his mind. Her fault that she was in his every waking thought and he could do nothing about it; her fault that he only thought of her, even through Quidditch matches and his house—mostly his pride—suffered for it.
“No, they haven’t,” replied Moth very seriously.
Harry couldn’t help but laugh at the tiny bird that was now sitting on her head.
He first stumbled upon Moth in Dumbledore’s office. Harry still referred to the circular room as Dumbledore’s, even though Minerva McGonagall was made Headmistress long ago. The room was the same; she kept the Sorting Hat and other things in their usual places, but Fawkes was gone. Now there was a certain stony order to the usually cluttered room that never allowed Harry to feel comfortable.
He kept his Pensieve hidden in the cabinets containing the whirring, silver instruments that had gone quiet long ago. The Boy-Who-Lived had seen things he didn’t want to remember, and so he hid them away, in the swirling, misty Pensieve.
Harry left the grounds one night, wired with lack of sleep, to visit with the Order. They were concerned for him, they said. They hoped that he was doing well. Harry could not begin to explain through his anger how unwell he was doing. They gave him sleeping potions and a pat on the back and sent him on his way, refusing to give the information he had gone to seek.
He was so angry that he stormed back into the castle and went straight for his Pensieve to rid himself of the furious memories pounding the walls of his mind like prisoners. He hadn’t expected to find somebody bent over his Pensieve.
Harry’s hand closed around his wand and he ripped it from his pocket. His anger multiplied and he nearly flinched inside it. “What the hell are you doing?!”
The person stood like being ripped away from a violent dream and Harry was faced with an odd-looking girl. It was quiet for a long time and he suddenly realized his wand was at her strangely long, thin neck. She didn’t flinch.
“Your story is so sad,” said Moth in a distant, entranced voice.
Harry didn’t sway and demanded without question, “What are you doing in here.”
“Professor McGonagall was just telling me that my parents were murdered.” She said it so easily that he was nearly taken back. “She left for a moment. I think pressure is starting to get to her. She said she should be back soon, if you want to wait.”
Harry sheathed his wand in his pocket and there was silence. He had to look away first; her gaze was so oddly protruding, like she was reading his mind. Though his wand was away, his anger continued welling up, ready to bear its fangs. His fists unclenched.
“What’s your name?” he fired.
“Moth?” repeated Harry skeptically.
“So you just decided, Moth, that you’d have a look around another person’s Pensieve?”
They were silenced when a red-eyed Professor McGonagall opened the door. Her head was held high in defiance of her broken disposition.
Harry couldn’t believe this! Possibly all of his innermost thoughts and secrets had just been sifted through by some head-case of a girl. Things about Voldemort, information from the Order, things that he hadn’t even told Ron or Hermione.
The one secret that he had not uttered to anyone.
Harry didn’t mean to keep meeting Moth. But everywhere he went, she seemed to be there. It was like not noticing how chilling an old house was until somebody mentioned it, and then feeling eyes on him everywhere.
He saw Moth floating through the halls like a ghost, alone. She had made friends with the Grey Lady and Sir Nicholas. They might have been her only friends, actually.
One day Harry found himself leaning his weight on a sink in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, staring into the broken mirror. Only months ago Draco Malfoy had been doing the same thing. Harry was beginning to see Malfoy’s cowardly person inside himself. He had cut from Transfiguration and hadn’t spoken to Ron or Ginny or Hermione in days.
Moaning Myrtle sighed. “Harry, you really haven’t been visiting me as much as you promised.”
“I haven’t promised you anything, Myrtle,” grumbled Harry.
He couldn’t stop thinking about what he knew he someday had to do. About the one thing that he had not told anyone, and the same thing that girl had probably found when she shoved her weird head into his Pensieve. Harry splashed cold water on his face and put his glasses back on. He stared at his reflection, at the scar.
And then the door opened and Moth stepped inside.
Harry caught her indifferent reflection and stared at the mirror, unable to side between awe and anger. “You’re following me,” he fired hotly over the running sink.
“You’re in the girls’ loo,” Moth pointed out justly.
He irritably turned the faucet off and it was awkwardly silent.
Harry pursed his lips, clenching the corners of the cracked porcelain sink. He just wanted to get away from everyone, including this girl that just… appeared everywhere! His breath quickened and he spun around.
“Do you even realize what you’ve done?!” His voice bounced off the high ceilings, echoing.
You’ve done… done…
He heard Moaning Myrtle squeal with glee and splash loudly as she dove into her toilet.
Harry ignored her, his anger rising and getting the best of him. Frustrations he held for too long were suddenly tumbling out before he even knew what he was saying. “YOU WENT LOOKING AROUND MY PRIVATE THOUGHTS! DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE? I CAN’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT THOSE MEMORIES BECAUSE THEY PUT EVERYONE IN DANGER! AND THEN YOU JUST—”
He stopped abruptly because he found it was impossible to express how truly infuriated he was. Because he felt a tight pinch behind his eyes—he was not going to cry in front of that girl.
Moth hadn’t even flinched, and it only annoyed him more. “Why are you yelling?”
Myrtle’s gleeful cry came from the U-bend. “Because you’ve made him very angry, you twit!”
“STAY OUT OF IT, MYRTLE!” Harry’s cheeks were hot with growing embarrassment. Why was he yelling?
He knew why: because this Moth girl had pried into his mind and then followed him for weeks. Because she went delving in to something that was none of her business and because Harry had the weight of the world on his shoulders and nothing he could do about it.
But she still made him feel so incredibly stupid for yelling, with just those four words.
Moth scratched her nose. “I wanted to say that I was not trying to look through your Pensieve. I wanted to find a place to leave one of my memories, so I wouldn’t have to think of it. And there was a Pensieve just sitting there waiting as if that was how fate wanted it.”
As if anyone had the right to lecture Harry, the Chosen One, about fate.
He made a conscious effort to keep his voice below a yell. “So you just figured you’d put it in some random Pensieve? What a bloody fantastic idea,” he murmured bitterly, staring hard into the door behind her.
“I wanted to get rid of it,” said Moth. An odd smile crept to her face. “I think I’ve forgotten all the details already. I can’t remember how they were killed.”
Harry realized that she was talking about her parents’ murder, and all he could think to say was, “Oh.”
Myrtle slowly crept out from the U-bend, smiling sneakily. “I think she likes you, Harry.”
Moth didn’t seem to hear, but Harry wasn’t so able to ignore the whiney ghost. “Myrtle, will you be quiet?” he finally managed not to yell. When he looked away from her silvery face poking from the toilet, Moth was gone and the door was swinging shut.
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