Chapter 1 : Hope
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-Thomas Paine, The Crisis
My eyes scan the paper nervously. It has almost become habit for me to jump straight to the Obituary section immediately. I sigh in relief that none of the names are ones I recognize. But others are not so lucky.
Looking around the Great Hall at breakfast, I watch to see the reactions of those around me. Some, like me, relax or even smile in happiness that the Death Eaters have not gotten to their loved ones. Others, mainly Muggleborns who have little fear of Voldemort reaching their families, take the time to check up on their friends. But then there are those whose worst fears have been realized. A few start to cry, and fall into the arms of their best friends or significant others. Two get up and run out of the Hall, with classmates following behind them. Most just sit in stunned silence, still as can be, and stare at the walls in front of them.
Itís been getting worse and worse lately. There have been more who have to see the names of their parents and relatives among the Obituaries of those killed by the Death Eaters. This is the worst part of war: seeing the students who have to read in the paper that their parents arenít around anymore. Iíve been lucky so far. But in a war like this, my luck is bound to run out.
I glance up at the Head Table, and see the Headmasterís chair empty again. Knowing Dumbledore is more frequently gone both scares and comforts me. Everyone knows that Dumbledore is the only one Voldemort ever feared, so I have to believe he is out there fighting him. But do Dumbledoreís extended absences mean he has been hurt? Without him, Iím not sure how this school will go on. Sure, we have Professor McGonagall, but somehow, that doesnít seem to ease my thoughts.
I canít stand to look at the Headmasterís unoccupied seat any longer, and so look down at my plate, and poke idly at the eggs that are quickly growing cold. I have to stop thinking about things like this. Itís not normal for a teenager to be worried about death and destruction. But then again, Iím no normal teenager, and this is no normal school. And this war is definitely no normal war. My thoughts are interrupted as a sob rings out. I look down my table; a girl who has been putting off looking at the Obituaries in fear has just had that very fear realized. I know her, sheís in my Charms class. She gets up and runs out as well, but nobody follows her. Her best friend just left school the week before, and she didnít have many other close ones. I canít leave her by herself, and so I get up after her.
My footsteps ring hollow in the deserted hallways. My first instinct is to look in the bathrooms for her, but I spot a huddle figure over by the window. I walk over, and crouch down besides her. Gently, I rub her back to comfort her. ďWho was it?Ē I ask quietly. She hesitates for a moment, as if sheís unsure whether or not she wants to talk about it. Finally, she manages to whisper ďMy mum.Ē I lean in and wrap my arms around her. Nobody should have to spend this much more of their lives without their mothers. As softly as before, I pose another question. ďAndÖ and your dad?Ē She shakes her head and cries harder. ďI-IÖ I donít know. They don-donít know where he is right know.Ē She sobs more now, and I hug her tighter.
ďItís going to be okay. I promise. It will all be okay in the end.Ē I whisper. She seems to be comforted a bit, and I can tell she wants to believe me. She has to- all she has left is hope. Thatís all anyone has left at this point. Hope and promises. But I just canít seem to believe myself.