Chapter 1 : you know where you hope this train may take you.
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Disclaimer: I do not own the brilliant world of Harry Potter or its characters. I also do not own the quote displayed; that belongs to the movie Inception.
For Burning_Bridges' Aftermath Challenge
Who am I? This is the question that has plagued me since that moment I discovered that Voldemort had been a part of me all my life. I thought I knew who I was. But what makes a person, really? Is it the things you do and say? Is it by the strong exterior you plaster to your face, hiding behind that mask? Is it by the way you act when no one's looking? Is it what people say about you behind your back, or is it the way you carry yourself?
I do not know. I thought I knew who I was; I thought I knew what made me me. Now I don't even know what makes me who I am.
I am Harry Potter, that is all I can say. A name and nothing else. I thought I was strong. I thought I was brave; I thought I was a martyr. I thought I was sarcastic at times and a little thick in the head. I thought I was short tempered some days, but as the years passed, I was probably short tempered on most days. And that's where I lose sight of that line of what makes me who I am again.
I guess there are some things that I know about myself. I know that I am eighteen-years-old. I know that I lost my parents when I was an infant; I was the youngest seeker of the century when I joined the Gryffindor team my first year. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are my best friends for whatever mad reason.
But these things are all factual. A stranger to me miles away who has simply read the Daily Prophet could know these things.
It's the deeper things about me that I no longer understand.
Am I kind? Am I funny or am I one of those boring people you'll never share a laugh with? Am I rude and unforgiving?
I thought I was kind, maybe a little rude at times, but who isn't? I believed myself to be these things all before one cataclysmic event. Before I knew that I had been living with another man inside of me since I was an infant.
If this man had been kind, maybe I wouldn't be questioning who I am now. But he was not kind; it was Lord Voldemort. He was cruel and unyielding; he killed for pleasure and tortured out of nothing but pure spite.
And he had lived in me.
Upon discovering this, I felt defiled. I felt just as cruel and evil as the man himself. I felt as if I were covered in acid, my skin burning, tearing me apart with my very own flesh and there was nothing I could do to get away from it. I hated myself for having him be a part of me; I hated myself for not knowing sooner, not doing something about it to save the world, and even though I don't show it, to most importantly save myself and my sanity. I wanted this disgusting, degrading, and defiling creature out of my flesh. I was ashamed to have shared a body with him.
I wanted him out. Out of me so that I could be alone, so that I didn't have to fear that he was changing me more and more every second that he was within me.
Before the world knew my story of that night, most every thought I was giving up. That I didn't care anymore if I left them to die without my help. Others were right in believing that I was leaving them so that Voldemort would leave them alone and call off the war. Of course, those thoughts were in my mind. After the war and my story was shared with the world, most people thought that I gladly walked into the Forbidden Forest that night to die for what was right. To end this war.
Which is also correct.
But none of these reasons were my first, and I am ashamed to admit it. I was selfish in my doing that night. I went to that forest because I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to be in a place that was free of Voldemort, where I could be happy, and I wanted to be separated from Voldemort. No matter what it did to the real me after it all.
I didn't know that I would come back. It was selfish of me to walk to my death, to leave the job up to someone else for the sake of simply being separated from that other soul inside of me.
There is no questioning the fact that Voldemort's soul inside of me did begin to change me. When I discovered he had been a part of me for so long, I questioned it. But I already knew the answer. Of course it had changed me.
It reminded me of my fifth year. Professor Dumbledore wouldn't look at me, and after seeing Mr. Weasley being attacked, I had snapped. Never in my life would I dream of yelling at a professor - unless it was Snape; there were the days when I wanted to snap at him - but I knew that ordering Dumbledore to "look at me" was not of my own accord. Where had it come from? It was something that confused me more than anything, and then it all made sense after I fell into the pensieve.
I understood finally why I could see into his mind and he me. I finally understood why I could speak Parseltongue, why the hat wanted to sort me into Slytherin, and so much more. Clearly, Voldemort living in me had taken its toll.
So what if that had changed who I am as well? Who was I, really? If I wasn't Voldemort, who was I? Would I be myself or would I be plagued by the same traits and characteristics that Voldemort had, forcing me to believe that I was just as evil as he?
That was why, when I faced the option at the train station with Professor Dumbledore, I did not know what to do.
"Where will it take me?" I had asked, and I received one simple response. "On."
On to where? Onward to this confusing heaven? Onward to be reunited with my parents, with Sirius, and Remus? Onward to leave the fate of the world to chance...?
Or would it take me on with my life? Would it pull be back into the world of pain, death, and fear? On to a life where I no longer knew who I was?
I was left to simply stand at King's Cross and sort through my crowded thoughts, waiting for this train that would take me on. On to a place I didn't quite understand yet but would come to understand in time.
These are the thoughts that cloud my mind, that plague me in every waking moment, sometimes even in my sleep. To sort myself out, I have come to share these thoughts with a journal. I find it therapeutic to me; it helps me to separate the traits of Voldemort within me from the traits that are purely me. Which is what I am doing now, ranting in my journal at a desk in my flat.
I was writing so fiercely and so quickly that I did not notice another presence in the room. Her hand swept down between the space of my face and the journal, and in one clean sweep, she snatched the journal out from beneath my hands. I jumped and immediately tried to grab for it, but she was backing away from me.
"Give it back," I whispered. It may sound crazy, but that journal kept me sane, and for some reason I believed that, if I shared it with someone else, it would demolish that barrier I had built up between myself and the parts of me that screamed Voldemort's name.
"Harry," Ginny muttered under her breath, analyzing my writing and turning the pages in awe. "Harry, you said you were better..."
I dropped my quill and rose from the desk. In one quick stride, I had reached Ginny and I snatched the journal from her long, fine fingers.
Better. The word from her lips stung like acid. How I wanted to be better, how I wished I could just snap my fingers and suddenly be better, but I couldn't. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to stop myself from doubting my sanity. From doubting who I am. If I am good or evil just like the man who once lived in me.
"I'm fine," I seethed as I made my way to my nightstand. I shoved the journal into the very back of it, slamming the drawer shut. I collapsed onto my bed with a defeated sigh; I knew Ginny wasn't going to give this up easily.
"You're not, though," she muttered, coming to my side. She sat down beside me and rubbed my knee. "Harry, why don't you see someone about this?"
A therapist? Now she wants me to see a therapist?
I would have sat up, perhaps left the room even, but I know Ginny would have just followed me. She wasn't going to give up this subject.
"Gin, no therapist could solve the shit going on up here," I commented. "They don't have therapists for this."
She sighed heavily, her eyes moving away from mine. She knew I was right; there was no denying it. They didn't have therapists for people who once shared a body with someone else, for people who were facing identity crises.
"Then talk to me," she ushered, lying down beside me.
She curved into my side, molding against me until she was the perfect fit. I breathed easy at this. She knew how to soothe me.
Shortly after the war we picked up our relationship again. We didn't jump right into things; it took some time. It was a difficult adjustment for all of us. We were all dealing with the loss of Fred, the sudden change in the world. It was a brighter place for everyone, but it had come at a great cost. Dealing with the loss of so many lives, it took the Weasleys, Hermione, and myself quite some time to see this new light. A world without Voldemort.
I, just like everyone else, was greatly affected by the deaths of our loved ones, and after a fair amount of time had passed, I was beginning to lose sleep at night. I realized how troubled my thoughts were, and that was when I realized that I no longer knew who I was. I felt as if I had lived the past few months on autopilot when I knew I should be doing the opposite. Ginny, having lost her brother and so many others just like the rest of us, had gone about it differently. She lived life to the fullest every day, knowing how short it is and how easily it could be taken away.
I, on the other hand, would sit and stare at walls for hours on end, trying to figure myself out.
Who was I...?
But Ginny and I were glad to be together. We had been dating for half a year now, and she was at my flat more so than not these days.
"What if I'm not..." I started and faltered. How was I supposed to even articulate my thoughts into words? At least in my journal I could just scribble things down and it didn't have to make sense.
"He was a part of me for so long, Gin. What does that make me?" I muttered.
"It doesn't make you anything, Harry. He's gone for good now. You are who you choose to be. Why can't you see that?"
"I'm trying," I muttered, squeezing my eyes shut as if it would make me see Ginny's reason.
"You are not Voldemort," she insisted, and I wanted to believe her. "You are nothing like him; you never were."
"I was a Parselmouth...The hat wanted me in Slytherin. I am like him."
"You're not anymore. I do not believe you were ever like him, but even if you were, you are not like him anymore. He, that part of you, is dead for good, Harry. You're nothing like him," she said, finishing with a deep kiss to my mouth.
One of my hands takes her cheek into my grasp, rubbing my thumb along her smooth skin. I want to hold her there, but I don't want to use our kissing to divert the subject. When our lips stop moving, I gently push her away.
"But how can you be sure?"
"Because - even if you have traits similar to him, that doesn't make you anything like him. It's what you do with those traits. And, Harry, you've done some great things. You killed him, you saved everyone. You once saved me from him. You've done all the right things, and that is what defines you," she presses, and I force myself to finally believe her. I have to believe her if I ever want to move on.
I can't sit back and watch life pass me by. Like Ginny, I have to live it to the fullest. I may think that I am like Voldemort in some ways, and maybe I am, but Ginny's right. I'm nothing like him as long as I do the right things.
Just like that moment at King's Cross, I felt like I was waiting for another train. A train to take me on. Life was moving too fast, and it was time to get on board.
I nodded to Ginny, brushing back a few locks of her hair. "I love you," I whispered.
She simply kissed me in return, and that was enough.
I still don't know much about myself, but that will come to me in time. I do know, though, that I am Harry Potter. That I love Ginny Weasley. That I once saved the Wizarding world. That I may be like the very man I killed in some ways, but I will never truly be him.
I don't know exactly what I will do with my life. I may get angry sometimes and I may make the wrong decisions sometimes, but everyone does. I do know, though, that I will make a difference in the world - the right kind of difference - and that makes me nothing like Voldemort.
I'm ready now, waiting for this train. I don't know quite where I will go, but I will go somewhere good. On.