Over the next few weeks, Harry found that he was seeing Moth even more than usual. He also began to realize that it was his fault that he often saw her. In the hallway, he wound up subconsciously following her in the opposite direction of his classes. He would draw mindlessly on his Divination homework and look down to see a tiny ink moth with large eyes.
And what angered Harry the most was that he didn’t know why. When he went over reasons in his head, he was left with a blank slate.
Moth was not exceptionally pretty. Her nose was too small and her eyes were too wide and she had a gap between her front teeth. She was too bony. She was of average intelligence and average height and an average Hufflepuff.
There was nothing special about Moth.
So why could Harry not sleep at night.
He did not tell his friends about her. Not even Ron or Hermione.
Over the Christmas holidays Harry denied all requests to visit the Burrow, saying that he wanted to be alone. Mrs. Weasley was more than heartbroken, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave the place where Dumbledore had been last. Harry stayed at Hogwarts, roaming the empty halls at nighttime, sometimes without his invisibility cloak. Part of him wanted to be caught, to be yelled at, reprimanded for something. He wanted to receive something other than praise and false concern.
Moth stayed at Hogwarts too. It actually hadn’t occurred to Harry that since her parents were dead, she most likely didn’t have anywhere to go.
He found her in the library one evening, sitting on a couch across from the fireplace in the very back. An enormous leather-bound book was resting against her drawn knees, though her huge eyes stared through the page. The fire cast eerie shadows in the hollows of her face.
After much deliberation of hiding behind a bookshelf and taking a step out, only to slip behind the shelf again, Harry came to the decision to talk to Moth civilly—a silent apology of sorts.
He sucked in a breath and stood behind her. “Hi,” he said awkwardly.
She didn’t hear.
Harry cleared his throat, shifted his weight, and said more loudly, “Hello.”
Her head snapped up. “Oh. Hello, Harry.”
It was quiet for a while and she looked back at her book. Harry frowned and tried again. “What are you reading?”
“I don’t know,” she said honestly and checked the book cover. “ Men Who Love Dragons Too Much.” She shrugged. “I usually just sit in here with an open book so Madam Pince won’t kick me out.”
“Oh.” said Harry. He cleared his throat. “Enjoying your holiday?”
“Yes,” she said airily.
“You should come for a walk,” said Harry before stopping himself.
Moth looked up, her otherwise blank eyes showing a trace of surprise.
He shifted again. “Just around the grounds.”
When the large front doors opened, they paused to breathe in the stinging, cold air. Harry’s hands were numb, but he didn’t care as they slowly circled the freezing lake. They didn’t talk but they didn’t need to. It was quiet and snowing softly and though the grounds were muddy with slushy brown snow, they seemed gleaming white to Harry.
He decided that he was going to leave Hogwarts some time in the early spring. He told Ron and Hermione that he wanted to go to Godric’s Hollow, then maybe to Grimmauld Place. He wanted to continue his search for Tom Riddle and Voldemort.
When he told Hermione and Ron they just looked at each other, and Harry expected them to protest. Instead, they insisted that they went with him, and he was bursting inside with gladness. He didn’t deserve friends like these.
But he only said, “Okay.”
He didn’t know why, but Harry felt he had to tell Moth. When she passed him in the hallway one afternoon, a quill stuck in her messy bun, he had to swallow a lump in his throat.
They sat in the classroom that had been unused for years. Dust collected on the ancient desks and sparse books and parchment littered the floor. A large spider was making its web in the corner of the ceiling, and a rusty old cauldron hung over a fireplace that was now only ashes. All the birds were gone—McGonagall had found out about them, and now the room was eerily silent.
“I’m leaving Hogwarts,” said Harry abruptly.
Moth stopped writing—or drawing, or whatever she was doing at the desk across the room—and stared. “For what?”
Harry couldn’t say it. He knew what he had to do and that was enough.
Instead, he cleared his throat and said, “Hogwarts isn’t the same without Dumbledore.”
Moth looked back down at her parchment, contemplating whatever was written on it. When she stood her chair scraped the floor and old dust wisped from the stone in thin clouds. The sun soared through the windows and bounced onto her white turtleneck, illuminating her until Harry had to squint. She crossed to a small door that Harry hadn’t noticed, a door that came no higher than her shoulders.
“I’ve never shown anyone,” she said to herself or Harry, he wasn’t sure. She opened the door and instinctively, Harry followed.
Inside was what seemed to be a broom closet. There was one long, thin window that let in a ray of sunlight that fell directly on Harry’s eyes and blinded him, until he stepped out of the light.
That was when he noticed that each of the four walls was completely covered with drawings—drawings on torn pieces of parchment, on newspapers, on bits of cloth. Water colored feathers, inked berries, charcoaled tree branches: hundreds of birds lifting into the sky, to fly away from all of this.
Harry shut his eyes and wished that he could be one of them.
Moth pressed a parchment against the wall with her wand. It was the one she had been poring over in the classroom. She moved away and a wren stared back at Harry.
She leaned against the wall and sunk lower, the ends of her mousy hair sticking to the parchments like cobwebs. Her large eyes stared across the small space to him.
“I know you have to kill yourself. That way you can defeat Voldemort. I know that’s why you’re leaving.”
Harry’s bottle-green eyes tore away from a painted robin to stare at her. His heartbeat quickened and he felt a lump rise in his throat. So she had seen it in his Pensieve. The secret he hadn’t told anyone.
“Or at least that’s what you think you have to do. I didn’t mean to see it, but…” she trailed off, swallowing hard. “I think it’s very… noble. And I’m not going to try and stop you.”
She stared hard at a sketch of a crow over Harry’s shoulder.
Harry felt a knot tying itself in his throat. It was the first “I won’t stop you, do what you have to do,” that he had heard. Ever.
He didn’t know what it was. But something in those words made him close the several feet between them and pull her in by her neck. Hearing those words made him part his lips and press them against hers so hard, so he would be certain that she was really there.
Even though Harry was completely and utterly alone in the final war against Voldemort, it didn’t seem so terrible right then.
Harry didn’t ask her to come with him. He never would have put someone else in that kind of danger. Especially someone he barely knew and understood wholly—someone like Moth.
It was a Hogsmeade weekend; another weekend he turned down his two best friends. Ron and Hermione set off to the village alone, gloomily. But Harry knew they’d be forcing smiles and possibly enjoying themselves soon enough. They left, their icy hands enclosed in each other’s.
They all tried pretending they weren’t about to leave Hogwarts and step out into the dusty, broken world of the second war. Even Hermione stopped pressing Harry about the DA.
They just wanted him to have a few weeks of normality, because even feigned peace was better than nothing.
Harry stood behind the giant glass clock overlooking the blossoming courtyard. Students trekked off together and he watched them with bare envy as they laughed and couples kissed and commented about how it was getting warmer.
“I’m coming with you.”
He knew it was Moth and said without turning, “No.”
“Death Eaters murdered my parents and I want to help stop them. Even if it’s just standing aside waiting until the right moment.”
Her voice was shaky and he wondered if she was about to cry. At last, Harry turned around. “All right.”
For the first time, Moth smiled.
A/N: So I've tried to emphasize that this is a short story by dividing it into parts, rather than chapters--I'd put the whole thing together as one if it wasn't such a long one-shot. :) Please tell me what you think about Moth, sometimes I'm afraid she's too much like Luna.
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