The Silver Doe
December 26, 1997
“Expecto Patronum” the man whispered, and a bright light burst forth from the tip of his wand, taking the form of a doe.
He had never before seen her illuminate a darkness so profound, and the brilliance of the Patronus recalled to his mind those near-forgotten words from early youth: Et lux in tenebris lucet. The light shines in the darkness.
He gazed on her longingly, wishing he could cling to her light. But this was no time for sentimentality. He had a job to do. And if he failed to do it, an even deeper darkness would descend.
He, a Slytherin, had been entrusted with carrying the Sword of Gryffindor to those who could rightly wield it - the Sword which now lay secure at the bottom of the frozen pool as the Patronus stood before him, awaiting his guidance.
He had a plan, he’d told the portrait, but would the boy follow? Only two days before, word came to him that the great snake had forcefully sunk her fangs into Potter’s arm. Apparently, though, the boy had recovered sufficiently to apparate into these woods – evidence, no doubt, that Miss Granger’s resourcefulness had, as always, served Potter well.
But what of Weasley? Dumbledore - for reasons he had yet fully to apprehend - had faith that Weasley and Granger both were the proper companions to help Potter accomplish whatever task he had been assigned. Perhaps he was correct. Even Longbottom had recently shown the valor for which his House was known, leading an admirable, if ill-fated, raid to steal Gryffindor's Sword from inside the Headmaster’s office.
He scrutinized the doe’s soft, luminous eyes as moisture filled the rims of his own, and he released her to wander in search of the boy.
In happier times – not that any of his times had ever been especially happy - but in times less dire perhaps, he had often spent the night after Christmas lounging in a plush staffroom chair, playing Wizard Chess with Minerva before the fire.
She hated him now. All his old colleagues did. And best that it be so. It would not do for any of them to hesitate in thinking him a murderer, a traitor, a coward. It was their best protection… and his.
And so he stood under a Disillusionment Charm behind the treeline on the night after Christmas - watching and waiting for the boy in the frigid dark.
Hermione says it happened December 26, 1997. The 1997 part I know, but it’s the December 26 I’m not so sure about. All I know is it happened after Christmas. What happened? Rescuing Harry, Destroying the locket Horcrux, and my return to my two best friends, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter.
I wanted to return to them the very second I left, but I couldn’t. For one thing, I was immediately attacked by Snatchers and another, Hermione is so good at magic she was able to make the tent invisible from outsiders. I had become an outsider and could no longer find them. I did not need to worry they would be harmed. I had to worry I would never see them again.
My return, I don’t think it was glamorous. I did what I had to do. Harry calls me his hero. I’m no hero. I was lucky. If I hadn’t run out on them I wouldn’t have been trying to return. If Hermione hadn’t been so smart with magic, I would have returned sooner. If Hermione or Harry had said my name earlier the Deluminator may have brought me back earlier. If they hadn’t said my name at all I may have never returned. If Professor Snape had not unleashed his silver doe when he did Harry would not have followed it and I would not have followed him. If Harry hadn’t worn the locket when diving in the pond, I would not have had to go after him. I would not have rescued the Sword of Gryffindor. Hero? No. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Destroying the locket was destroying my demons. The horcrux knew me inside and out. It knew my fears and my failures. “Your mother does not love you. She wishes Harry was her son instead of you. Hermione wants to date Harry.” And the embrace! I had to witness the two together. My worst nightmare. The locket didn’t just show me my fears; it possessed me with the feeling as if they were coming true. Feelings of unworthiness and loneliness engulfed me. All strength escaped. I couldn’t do it.
And then I could. Harry and Hermione needed me. I needed them. My mum loved me. She did not just say it. She meant it. Maybe Hermione did want to date Harry, but I would show her that I love her and do my best to get her with me, if that’s what she wants. This locket was not going to be the bane of my existence. It was not going to make me feel like a failure. I was not going to be a failure. I was going to be the best friend to Harry and Hermione. Taking the sword, I stabbed the locket, allowing the soul inside to leak out, killing it.
Harry assured me he only loved Hermione like a sister. I could have wallowed back in despair and told myself he was just talking for my benefit, but I remembered the kiss he shared with my sister on his birthday. That wasn’t just a kiss. It wasn’t one I was comfortable replaying in my mind, but it reminded me of his love—their love. He couldn’t love Hermione like I did if he loved my sister like that kiss portrayed.
What if Hermione didn’t just feel like Harry was her brother? What if she wanted more? No, I couldn’t be that dense, could I? We’d gotten closer those months on our escape. I couldn’t pretend she was getting this close to Harry. Harry had a hard time letting anyone in and if she was spending this time getting close to me she didn’t have the time to do it with Harry. I had to know she didn’t just think of me as a brother and that it was very likely she did think that of Harry.
Leaving Harry and Hermione gave me a chance to reflect on myself. I had been such a prat I was surprised the two hadn’t kicked me out of their own voilition. I moped around the tent. I whined about not eating enough and not having a comfortable place to live. I didn’t provide any help to finding more Horcruxes or destroying the one we had. I had no right to complain about them not being any help. I was no help. I knew if I did return I would have to change. I wasn’t a kid. I was 17, an adult. We didn’t have parents with us. It was just us in horrible conditions. Everything I felt they had to feel, too. Complaining about it doesn’t help. Complaining doesn’t make things better.
I imagined Hermione running into my arms and kissing me a thousand times when I returned. Had I been realistic about it I would have known that is not the Hermione I love. I knew when I returned she was happy because she threw her fists at me. Anyone else I would have taken it as anger, but I knew this was her way of showing she loved me. She was upset I had left her. She wanted me to feel the same pain she felt. I had. I did have a comfortable bed and food as I ended up staying with my brother, but I wasn’t with Harry and I wasn’t with Hermione. I had let them down and in that I had let me down. I never imagined I would have walked out on my friends. When I told Harry we were in it to the end I thought I meant it. I may have had “comfortable” conditions when I was away I wasn’t comfortable. I would have rather slept on a bed of rocks then be away from my two best friends like that.
Had I not left, I do not think I would have deserved Hermione. I had to find out more about myself. I had to grow up. Before I left I was a child, always expecting someone to care of me. Returning, I was a man, someone who could take care of himself or at the very least try.
Life isn’t always perfect. It’s not easy. We’re not always going to have a warm bed to sleep in and good food on the table. Sometimes we have to sleep in the cold and eat mushrooms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We do what we have to survive. Hermione didn’t need a child to baby. She needed a man. I had to become something worthy of her.
Artwork by MahadosKnight@devianart, manipulated by Kat Suki
The Silver Doe by ccollinsmith
Ron's Story by leah49