Author name: brownstudy
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's note: Betaed by jollybengali, who is lovely and constructive. The title is from the song And You And I. My painting is El Greco's Laocoon and, though I did research the painting, I opted for something completely different. I actually wrote this out by hand two weeks ago -- inspiration finally struck -- and typed it up yesterday; I think it may have lost something in the transfer.
Word Count: The word count is 1,040, up from 972, and I am afraid that making it longer will ruin it.
Summary: When Harry closes his eyes, on the flat bright colors of a dreamscape come his imaginings, and the surreal, elongated people put on plays for him. He stretches the battle out infinitely in his mind.
Harry stares into the newly repaired mirror. Items imbued with magic don't respond well to Reparo, and the glass doesn't sit flat in its frame, the shards bumping up and the glass warping where the major cracks have been pushed back together. His face is pale as always, and tall and thin -- new traits created by the mirror, but he only thinks it looks false, surreal. This is the face of a person in a dream that he can't quite remember, the face of someone in his imagination.
He decides he needs to do something new and different.
The next morning, he walks downstairs and, in the moment between when Dudley turns the TV on and when he takes his first bite of Pop-Tart, punches Dudley across the mouth. He clearly hasn't hurt him much, but that wasn't really the point, anyway.
Sometimes at school Harry lies on the grass with his head pointing downhill, toward the lake, Hogsmeade, everywhere, and most importantly away. When he closes his eyes, on the flat bright colors of a dreamscape come his imaginings, and the surreal, elongated people put on plays for him.
Sometimes the players act out bits of his life: the time he threw a gnome into a tree at Ron's, the time he saved the Philosopher's Stone, the time he almost kissed Ginny but thought better of it, the elation of the first task of the Triwizard Tournament, the morning he hit Dudley. Harry sees that a lot, only the players are tall and thin and healthy, and somehow watching these pale, larger-than-life actors do the scene in such an overly dramatic way makes it seem cheap, as though they could be doing bigger and better things than acting out a memory of satisfaction for a boy who doesn't know what he's doing anyway. The things he's done in his life seem stupid, frivolous -- not big enough to be acted out by these superhumans.
Sometimes the final battle -- and he knows it is the final battle because Harry suspects Voldemort couldn't be on the school grounds otherwise -- is acted out in glorious detail. Every wound of every participant, every marked man and woman and every hair on every victim's still head, splayed gracefully in the grass at the crest of the hill he is currently lying on. The figures come in droves for these productions, and it seems that there is an inexhaustible number of them waiting in the wings to be killed. He's been seeing this since he was thirteen, and each time it gets more involved, more precise. Somehow the huge, pale actors suit this play, and he doesn't mind them so much -- they make it hyper-real, so real that it couldn't be rendered in anything less complex than a human imagination. Dumbledore is there, naked and vulnerable and fighting with Nagini, but apart from a detached, odd kind of pain Harry isn't interested. And he stretches the battle out infinitely in his mind, postponing the moment where he has to see the end, and finally he lies down on the grass, head pointing downhill, and closes his eyes.
He has long since acknowledged his hero's complex and therefore knows that he's spent a lifetime actively being Voldemort's enemy.
He wonders if Voldemort has this same suspicion -- the feeling that, once Harry is dead, he will have completed his life's work and have no idea what to do with himself other than just be, so consuming is the amount of time they spend on each other. Harry reckons that he, Harry, will be expected to go to lots of parties and enjoy himself thoroughly, when really he'll be craving challenge -- something that, assuming Voldemort dies, will be lacking for the rest of his life. Who will there be to save people from?
A shadow falls across Harry's face; he feels it --
It's probably some concerned friend. Ron, Hermione, or someone else entirely -- he doesn't check. Standing quickly, without opening his eyes, he walks to the lake. He doesn't know exactly how far down it is from his spot, so he walks until he feels water soaking into his shoes and socks. He removes these and other articles of clothing until he's in his white, button-down school shirt and regulation black trousers. He rolls up the cuffs on both and wades in.
He stops when he is chest deep and stands with his arms out so he can keep his balance in the slight waves of the lake. He doesn't do anything; he just stands, letting the water slosh around his body the way the figures are swirling in his mind.
When he wades back to shore, he lays down with his feet at the very base of the hill, where the waves can touch them as they lap at the grass. Despite his wet clothes, he doesn't shiver in the breeze.
"Harry," someone says, "open your eyes." Lavender or Parvati. He never did learn to tell their voices apart.
"No." They don't understand. They don't see the war in his mind. They don't know that he can't look away, that he couldn't if he wanted to; his whole existence has become about revenge and he needs to see...
Hermione's voice this time. "Harry, look at me."
The battle stops, not all at once, but gradually, like a clock winding down until it freezes and then ticking only when you shake it, and he is himself. His mind renders the image: he is Harry Potter, elongated hero in stupid glasses spotted with water, lying on his back in soaking clothes, and four of the elongated figures are standing over him -- his friends. His friends around him, tall and pale, pulled soft and thin as taffy.
His friends look frightening: hollow and supernaturally false. He studies these strange figures for a long while.
There is a long pause, and Ron and Neville look at each other, wondering if Harry has heard Hermione. She starts to repeat herself. Just then, Harry opens his eyes and right before he says, "Could someone get me a towel?" she has the impression of something much bigger behind his eyes, bigger than anything else she's ever encountered. The words shatter it.