Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
I’m not you.
I judge too quickly, I act too rashly, I move to fight too hastily. I don’t have your infinite wisdom or your knowledge that everything will turn out okay in the end. I don’t have your certainty and— oh how I wish I did.
When I first passed over the dark waters of the lake and through the giant stone doors of Hogwarts, I wasn’t who I am now. I was just a lonely, overwhelmed boy who had gotten in over his head. You, however, saw in me something that I did not. It was the same thing, the same quality that made it impossible for you to knowingly harm others. You and I, we were both willing to sacrifice ourselves; if not for our loved ones, than for the unknowns out there, the ones who are other people’s loved ones.
We were both society’s scapegoats, though you handled it better than I. You, of course, already had a century’s worth of experience weathering the storm and you barely batted an eyelash when they declared you insane and stripped you of your awards. You just continued handing out lemon candies and wearing absurdly colourful robes and doling out advice with a twinkle in your eye.
I, on the other hand, was left battered and bruised by the time the rain had finally stopped falling, with a new scar to add to my collection.
I had once again taken the fall for our selfish, flimsy, fickle society.
I would never learn. I still haven’t, in fact. I’ve shouldered the role of a protector once again, fallen into a dangerous pattern, risking my life on a daily basis for a society that only thanks me with meaningless awards and constant press coverage. But I can’t complain to you, not now, even though you’re one of the few who would understand.
I can’t complain to you because you’re dead. You couldn’t escape the role of the martyr, and neither can I.
The reason I continue is a very simple one, one that you would have guessed without my ever telling you, because deep down inside you and I operate on the same principles.
We continue because of the smile on a little girl’s face when she’s reunited with her mum; because of the gratitude in their voices when they realize we’ve just saved their lives; because of the simple pleasure of a carefree afternoon spent with friends.
We continue because of love.
Love, which has the power to defeat the greatest of evils. Love, which will always prevail. Love, without which one is not human.
Those are your beliefs that you have passed on to me, ones that I have respected and heeded and believed in all these years.
Love is the answer.
It is the thing that links you and me and all of humanity.
It is what Voldemort didn’t have and what I suspect Grindlewald lacked as well.
And you handled the fame that came with his defeat with much more grace and dignity than I could ever hope to have. You were at peace with the attention while I simply wish to eventually sink back into oblivion, beyond the reach of the hopes and dreams but most of all the expectations of society.
You were an inspiration to more than a generation’s worth of people. You were their saviour, just as much as you were mine.
Sometimes I wish you had taken on my burden and I know you wished it too. You made your mistakes—you were human just like the rest of us. It was something we easily forgot.
You were the epitome of all things good and it shocked me to learn of your own childhood, your own brush with the darker side in each of us. But you turned away, you realized your mistakes, and that made you stronger, more wise and empathetic, than if it had never happened at all.
I’m not you. I can’t trust or manipulate or understand people like you. If it was up to me, Snape would have been locked away in Azkaban long before he could have killed you. I wouldn’t have seen his possibility as a spy, or the assurance of his loyalty.
I was too young to take on the responsibilities that I did when the war rolled around and you were too old. We were some pair, weren’t we? The quirky, senile old Headmaster and the headstrong, impulsive boy hero. And yet it was on us they pinned their hopes for a better future.
I had to shoulder the whole burden after you died.
I hated it. There were times when I wished I could shove it off, pound it into the dirt and leave it behind. But I could never do that. It would betray all that you’d worked for, all those who had sacrificed themselves for the cause. And that is why you trusted me to follow, to act on your speculations, to not hesitate or for once put myself first.
I hated you for it. For raising me like a lamb to the slaughter. For allowing me to believe I would actually survive the war. I had disliked you before, when you refused to meet my eyes (I thought you blamed me) or kept your thoughts hidden from me (it cost us both dearly) or treated me like a lost little boy in need of guidance (when all I really wanted was for you to tell me the truth), but at that moment, for the briefest of seconds, my blood boiled at the mere thought of your serene, smiling face.
I thought, “You died before it got hard, old man.”
I thought, “You just don’t want me to be happy, do you?”
And then I was ashamed and I loathed myself with an intensity I had never directed towards you.
We’re alike, you and I, and if we don’t stick together, who will?
Emotions run high when you’re about to die and you know it.
I was insane. I was depressed. I was hysterical. I was happy. I was mad. I was sad. I was lost. Utterly confused.
I was that way for a long time after his death in the Great Hall. I wore a false smile plastered on my face once the initial europhia faded and I kept it plastered on like I was a sick doll for days, weeks, months.
I was in shock and I didn’t have you to guide me through it.
I made do with my friends, who stuck by me throughout my irritable moods and flash floods, even though they were going through the same thing. We were awful to be around, with sharp comments just waiting to fly out of one or the other of our mouths, angry eyes looking for opportunities to sour the evening.
We got over it, eventually. It helped that we got sick of each other and no one else would put up with us—not even me, the Hero of the Wizarding World. It just goes to show you how ungrateful they are. They turn you into this inhuman creatureand then dump you on the side of the road.
Did that ever happen with you? Did you ever wake from nightmares thinking that he was still out there, killing people, even though you knew that you’d defeated him? Did you ever fall silent and just wonder if your cheering fans knew the inescapable darkness they’d thrown on you, so eager to save their own lives?
But I guess that’s what we all do, except for you and me and a few rare others. We are the rat race, after all, a breeding, messy, disgusting, fight-for-your-life-or-die species. We just hide it better than the rest of the animal kingdom.
But hey—I’m just a cynic.
And I’m most definitely not you.