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Chapter 232 : Gryffindor - nott theodore
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The sun is rising again and the early morning sky is full of pastels, pink and purple and blue and white, like a flower garden, like the garden that she loved so much. It reminds him of her, this sky, and the way that the sun is warming the earth, the dust particles dancing gold in its light – that is her hair, the way that the candlelight used to catch it in the evening as the flame flickered in the draught. He looks at these things because it helps him remember, remember her.
(He looks at these things because it helps him forget, forget the crimson stains that are on the ground behind him, the bodies of the fallen covered over with sheets.)
People are beginning to drift away, the noise is quietening and he breathes in the peace that is descending. The soft murmur of voices is her voice, talking gently to her brothers, playing with the stray cats that used to come into their garden and sometimes into their house. It’s her song, in a high, gentle tone, as she sings to the goats when he let her feed them. He listens to these voices because they help him remember, remember her.
(He listens to these voices because they help him forget, forget the cries of anguish as parents saw their children dead, the screams of curses that tore through the air.)
He wonders if he should go as well, because he’s sat on his own and nobody is talking to him, or even taking notice of him. She was the only one who noticed him, anyway. And maybe she’s here now, beside him, and maybe he’s not alone.
(He likes to think this, because the alternative is too painful, too much to bear.)
Instead of leaving, he leaves the hall and he walks up the stairs, up and up and up until he’s in the office that he knows so well. There are canvases on the walls but only one picture is occupied, and he assumes that the others are off celebrating the victory. But the portrait is the one that he wants to speak to, it’s an old, lined face that he both hates and loves.
(He tells himself that he’s hated him, but really it’s been fear, fear and love.)
‘Hello, Albus,’ he says, and the portrait’s blue eyes which match his own, which match their sister’s, look at him and smile.
‘Hello, Aberforth,’ the portrait says. ‘It’s good to see you.’
He can’t return the compliment because he’s not sure if he is glad to see his brother, but he stares at the portrait for a moment and thinks about what Potter told him, about the way that his brother suffered before he died, the way that his instinct was to protect his siblings. He realises that’s all that Albus has tried to do, for over one hundred years; protect everyone else. And finally he’s succeeded.
‘I forgive you,’ he says gruffly to the portrait, and is startled when he sees the blue eyes fill with tears.
(He tells his brother that he’s forgiven because really he needs to forgive himself, forgive himself for what happened all those years ago.)
There are many more things that he could say, but this is not the moment and he doesn’t want to keep her waiting any longer, the sweet sister who’s done so much to help him through the years. He descends the steps and returns to the village, and he notes the sounds and smells and taste of victory. Maybe, now, he can stop living in the past.
(Maybe, now, he will live for the future.)
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