Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: She could have been a Gryffindor.
Disclaimer: Nope, not mine. Just playing in JKR's sandbox a bit. Not profiting.
Feedback: Please. :)
Note: This actually isn't a pairing I ship. It was interesting to see it turn out so well.
He can't remember when he fell for her, but he can remember the last time he ever saw her. Of all the things he can possibly remember, the first that comes to mind is the last time he saw her.
He remembers the determined bravery he saw in her eyes every time their gazes met. He remembers the way she stood at his side during what he would later jokingly, drunkenly term Harry Potter's Last Stand. But most of all, he remembers how, not fifteen minutes after Voldemort's final fall, she smiled at him even as the light dimmed from her eyes and the blood spilled from her body.
He wishes he had been able to dissuade her. Even now, fifteen years after the fact, his greatest wish is that he could have convinced Padma to stay behind.
As he thinks that thought, others follow. If she had stayed behind, would she still be alive or would she have died in some other way, at some other time? Would they be married or would they have drifted apart? Would his knowledge of her being back in the Great Hall with the other students have helped him or hindered him? Could he have fought better with the knowledge of Padma's worried heart waiting for him to spur him on?
The questions have eaten away at his mind every day for fifteen years. There have been times that he is able avoid thinking of them for all of an hour at a time. But then something happens and his mind is forced back to that which was lost.
He has long been used to the fact that she will be forever on his mind, but there are times that he wishes it did not hurt so badly. He would like to be able to spend more than a few minutes on any one task. His utter inability to put aside the pain of Padma's death has given rise to an inability to hold a job. But in a way, though, his inability to put aside the pain is fitting, a proper ending for the fallen hero. His Padma lives on in his memory and will until he himself dies.
He hopes it will be soon. He lives on for her, but is tired of living with the pain. For every moment he lives with it, he dies a slight bit more.
But his memories of her are not all bad. Even as he remembers her death, so too does he remember her life. For every time he remembers the way her eyes went dim, he can remember half a dozen times where she was beautiful, vibrant, alive. And those memories make all the pain worth it, in the long run.
He drifts off to sleep in his chair, much as he always does. And much as he always does, he dreams of Padma's last moments.
He walks the fields with a heavy heart. He is both seventeen and thirty-two. He is a young man and he is old before his years. But here, in his world of nightmares and dreams, she is alive.
He finds her in the dirt behind Greenhouse Five. Her blood is spilling quickly, and he knows he can do nothing to staunch it. So he drops to his knees at her side, words and tears spilling in torrents.
"Padma, no. Not like this. You're not supposed to die like this. None of us is."
"I'm not supposed to die like this?" she whispers, eyes struggling to keep focus on him. "Not supposed to die defending the world and the people I love?"
"Yes," he says, reaching out to brush her hair back from her face. In her last moments, he wants to see her face clearly. "You're too young to die, Padma. Especially like this."
"We're the same age, Harry," she reminds him gently, a quiet smile playing across her lips. "Nearly to the day."
"That's not what I mean," he tells her, his voice tightening so that he can barely speak. He pauses a minute and then forces the words. "I've lived more than you, fought more than you have. If anyone deserves to die in the fight against Voldemort, it is me."
"Nobody deserves to die," Padma rasps.
"Don't be that way, Padma. You know what I meant." He lifts her up against him as he sits back against the greenhouse. Her blood quickly gets on him. They sit in silence for a few minutes and soon there is more of her blood on him than inside her.
"It won't be long, Harry," she tells him softly. "Just another minute or two..."
"No, Padma," he whispers, tears streaking down his face to land with pitter-patter splashes in her long black hair. "No."
"Yes." Her voice holds a note of finality as she cranes her neck to look up at him. "I love you, Harry. Have since fifth year."
"I love you, too, Padma," he whispers in response, lowering his head to brush his lips against hers. "And I always will."
"Promise me something, Harry," she whispers, the last of her strength giving her an urgency stronger than before. "Promise me you won't let this follow you."
"I promise," he whispers. And at that, he is suddenly aware of the dream.
She smiles at him, eyes locked on his. And as he watches -- both his dream-self and his actuality -- she slips away quickly, quietly, and at that point painlessly.
And then the dream continues, something it has never done before. He looks down at her still form, tears in his eyes but no longer on his face. He lightly strokes her face, closing her eyes for the last time. He moves slowly and with care, stretching her out on the hard dirt before he rises to his feet.
He stands there a moment, looking down at her. And then, as he feels the dream slipping away, he speaks his final words to her, words he never said in life.
"You could have been a Gryffindor."