Somehow, it doesn’t quite feel like she’s gone. I keep thinking I’ll turn a corner and just see her there, smiling and laughing and gesturing for me to join her. After all, she’s been around all my life, and we’ve never been apart. Not really, because being Sorted into different Houses doesn’t count. She was still with me then. I saw her nearly every day. We weren’t separated, not really.
We actually thought we would both be Sorted into Ravenclaw, you know. Not because she was particularly Ravenclaw-like—she wasn’t—but because, well, it was unthinkable that we wouldn’t be in the same House. I mean, it’s not like we’ve had to share a bedroom since we were very young, but we’ve always been just a few doors down from each other, walking into each other’s rooms at nearly any time of the day or night, and it was just…strange, to think of not being able to do that anymore. Alien, almost. Unthinkable. And we just both assumed Ravenclaw because I knew that was what I was—when she liked to go out on hikes, I liked to sit in the library and read Byron or Wilde or Browning or Shakespeare, Muggle authors that they were, or even the Americans Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Miller. Our parents called me precocious, and she was rambunctious, and somewhere deep down inside both of us, I think we knew she was for Gryffindor, but we ignored that and carried on as usual. After all, she liked to read well enough. Just not like I did. And I loved taking walks as well as the next person, but I wasn’t always running off the beaten path the way she was.
I was Sorted first, D coming before R in the alphabet, and I knew before the Hat touched my head what House it would call out. And it didn’t disappoint me. The disappointment came later, when she was called up to the stool and the Hat unhesitatingly called out Gryffindor. I think that was the worst moment of my life—well, second-worse, now—hearing the word “Gryffindor” resound in my ears as I watched her walk away from me. It felt like forever, even if it really wasn’t. But she looked at me as she slipped the hat off her head, identical brown eyes meeting and holding, and I could see that she was as scared as I was. But then she went away, and I didn’t even notice that Harry Potter was the next one to sit down at the Gryffindor table. I didn’t care about him—what was a scar compared to my twin? I didn’t know the scar, I didn’t love the scar, and my twin I’ve known and loved forever.
I couldn’t fall asleep, that first night in the Ravenclaw dorms, and I wondered if she, in her dormitory far away from mine, was lying awake, staring into the same darkness that I was. But I didn’t know, I had no way to tell, students were forbidden to be out in the corridors at this time of night, and I didn’t even know where the Gryffindor dormitories were. I don’t know if I can explain how frightening that was. I got gooseflesh along my arms when I thought about it, that anything could happen to her in the middle of the night and I wouldn’t know. That night, I wanted to be in Gryffindor as desperately as I’d wanted to be in Ravenclaw before I came to Hogwarts, to have the comfort of her sleeping in a bed next to mine, even if we hadn’t done so in years.
I saw her the next day at meals and in the time between classes, but when I got my timetable and saw that we didn’t have any classes with the Gryffindors, I think I might have burst into tears on the spot if she hadn’t suddenly waved at me from her table. It wouldn’t do for her to see me crying—she never cried, and maybe that was one of the reasons she was put in Gryffindor, that she could be strong enough to stop herself from crying when she needed to. And all through that first day of classes, even as I was turning matches into needles with the rest of my housemates and correctly identifying Potions ingredients for creepy Professor Snape, my mind wasn’t on my lessons. But it didn’t need to be, and maybe that was one of the reasons I was a Ravenclaw, that I didn’t need a lesson in order to learn. I still couldn’t think of anything but her, but I spent so much of my life thinking of her that it didn’t matter. We’d always been the same, before. The same hairstyle, the same clothes, the same toys, the same friends, and now we weren’t the same anymore. We were different. So different that the Hat had put us in different Houses. We were irrevocably changed, now that those vital differences had been brought to the fore, unable to be ignored anymore, and I felt just as lost as I had the night before.
Things got better, of course. The days went by and I saw that I hadn’t really lost her after all, and that we weren’t so different that we weren’t twins anymore. Whatever illusions of sameness the Sorting Hat had shattered when it called us for different Houses didn’t matter, because it couldn’t take away the fact that we were twins, and there was still just enough of what we were that was the same that the differences weren’t important. Somehow we never managed to be in the same classes until the NEWT preparation courses of sixth and seventh year, but that didn’t matter as much. I had friends, and she had friends, and for the first time these friends were not the same, but always she and I would set aside some time on a weekend to find somewhere to just sit and talk. Once, in second year, I remember we inadvertently stayed up past curfew talking in an empty classroom, and when she was talking a mile a minute about some of the things that were happening, I saw Professor McGonagall watching us through the window in the door, but when I looked at her, she just smiled and left. I think she understood just how important it was for me that my twin and I spend time together. I’ve always liked Gryffindor’s Head of House.
Fifth year was one of the worst times, I think. Especially the summer before. I didn’t know Harry Potter, and I think I might have been ready to believe the Ministry, if it hadn’t been for her. She knew Harry personally, and all I saw of him was that awful time at the Yule Ball with his friend Ron Weasley who kept ignoring me to glare at Hermione Granger’s date. Sometimes I would see him between classes or on a Hogsmeade weekend. But she knew him, and knew his friend Hermione, and convinced me that Harry wouldn’t lie. But I was still afraid, and I knew that she was too, but she didn’t let it do anything to her. She just went on as she had before, gossiping with me and exchanging owls with Lavender. And during the year, she convinced me to go to Harry’s group, the one that became Dumbledore’s Army, and I went because I had to prove that I could be just as brave as she was, even if I wasn’t in the House known for its bravery.
Some people thought she was ditzy, an airhead, not thinking much beyond makeup and boys. I’ve overheard some of my fellow Ravenclaws talking about her lack of focus and how an interest in Divination wasn’t going to get her anywhere, but they’re the same Ravenclaws who steal Luna Lovegood’s things, and I doubt they ever even bothered to try to get to know either of them. My sister may have liked boys and playing with makeup and Divination (a subject most Ravenclaws find too airy-fairy to take), but that wasn’t all she was. They seemed to overlook the fact that she was in Gryffindor, but over the years I’ve come to realize that she was put in that House for a reason, a real one, beyond showing me the differences between us. She had something to do, and only Gryffindor would have given her the courage to do it.
It wasn’t that long ago now. A month, maybe. I haven’t really been paying attention to the passage of time. But it’s the beginning of August now, and the Leaving Feast was at the end of June, so I suppose it was a month. The very end of seventh year, right before we were to leave Hogwarts and enter the adult world. Of course that would be when he attacked—Voldemort. I say his name now for her sake, because I know that she wouldn’t have wanted the name of a dead man to scare me. And I don’t think it does, anymore. Not like other things do. Not like the memory of finding her. I don’t know if that will ever leave my nightmares as long as I live, not even if I get to be as old as Dumbledore had been before he was killed.
Voldemort and his Death Eaters appeared at the very end of the Leaving Feast, just as Headmistress McGonagall was getting ready to dismiss us. Of course it would have been then—his last chance at Harry Potter while he was still at Hogwarts. If Voldemort could have defeated Harry there, then he would have proven that he could overcome Harry and Hogwarts all at once, because I’m sure he knew that losing Harry would break our morale. And he had his Death Eaters there—hundreds, it seemed, though it might have been less. And we were drawn into a battle for our lives, ourselves, and our freedom. That battle is another thing I don’t think will leave my nightmares.
All the teachers were fighting, and someone called the Aurors, so they were there too eventually. But a lot of us were the seventh years, because Harry Potter was a seventh year and it was more his battle than anyone else’s, and because he was fighting, the rest of us fought. Not all of us fought for him, of course—some fought for them, found ways to breach the wards and let them in so that they could begin the fight, but I don’t know who they are, and it doesn’t really matter. There were also a few sixth years—I know I saw Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood, but my sister had told me what they’d done for Harry, and I knew they had just as much right to be there as the rest of us. The fifth-year prefects took the younger years and hid, leaving the rest of us to fight.
It went on…a long time. I wasn’t aware of the passage of time beyond that. They were trying to kill us and we were trying to capture them, which put them at a bigger advantage than they had been before, going up against a bunch of students interspersed with few adults. As the hours passed, my brain wasn’t even thinking anymore; I was just hexing whoever was trying to hex me, and trying to keep myself alive. Sometimes I saved other people, and sometimes other people saved me. The hours seem blurred together in my mind, and I’m not going to take the effort to try and separate each specific memory. I don’t need to know who I couldn’t save. With one exception. There’s no way that I can not know that I couldn’t save her.
But the worst part is, I think, that I didn’t even know it happened when it did. My mind flashes back now to that first night in the Ravenclaw dormitory, and how suddenly afraid I had been that I wouldn’t know if something happened to her, and I think how ironic it is. Something happened to her in the middle of the night and I didn’t know. But there was no flash of insight in my mind, that I just knew what happened. Her death didn’t announce itself to me. It’s a common myth about twins that we’re telepathically connected, but we’re not. Sometimes it seems that way. I’ve finished her sentences and she’s finished mine, I’ve known what she was thinking sometimes, no matter how odd or obscure, and vice versa. But it wasn’t magic. It was just because I was her twin and I knew her. Better than anyone, even our parents. And she knew me just as well. Different Houses couldn’t change that. It was because we were twins, and I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.
So when she died, when the green light appeared to snatch her life away, I didn’t know. And there’s nothing I regret more than not knowing, not being with her as she died. Everyone knew when Voldemort died—all the Death Eaters collapsed, pain from their Dark Marks knocking them unconscious. It didn’t hit me right away that Voldemort was dead, but when I saw Harry appearing from somewhere, the scar on his forehead already fading, I knew it was over. When that lightning-shaped scar was gone, and Harry looked enough like an ordinary young man that he’d never been allowed to be…that’s when it hit me that things were over. That Voldemort was finished and we wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore.
I was tired, of course, after fighting for hours non-stop. But I couldn’t rest yet; I wanted to find her and make sure she was all right, that nothing extremely bad had happened to her, and then we would be able to rest and celebrate together. But I looked, and I couldn’t find her anywhere among those helping to clear out the dead and wounded of both sides. At that point my feet just seemed to be taking me all over the battlefield without knowing specifically where to go, just searching for a trace of her anywhere. It was Luna Lovegood who found me eventually, and led me to the big grassy area where they were laying out the dead.
I’m not proud to say that I fainted when I saw her, and woke up again with my head in Luna’s lap as she stroked my hair, her big eyes seeming to say that she knew what this would do to me. I couldn’t manage a smile or a nod or any gesture of gratitude for Luna, but I know she doesn’t mind. Luna’s the type not to.
I still wasn’t thinking at that point. I just crawled over to where they’d laid her out, and I took her hand in mine, and it was cold. I didn’t even realize that I was crying until my tears splashed her hand, the salty wetness warmer than her skin. I still couldn’t let go of her hand—it was something, some part of her that I could hold on to. I thought that maybe if I held on long enough, she’d still be there. I don’t know how long I spent stroking a hand growing wetter with tears, gazing at a face nearly identical to my own save that it was still and her eyes were closed. She didn’t look dead, but I suppose they never do, do they? Those who die by the green light?
It was dawn when I was finally lead away, unresisting, because I had nothing left in me to resist with. I couldn’t even look back at her as the Healer took me away to look me over, because I just didn’t have the energy. The grounds were misty and the sun came up silver, and it looked breathtakingly beautiful, and I didn’t care. She was gone from me, so what was there left to care for?
That was the night that replaced that first minute in Ravenclaw with her in Gryffindor as the worst night of my life. Now we weren’t just separated by stone walls and staircases and House rivalries, but by that veil, and it wasn’t a barrier that I could surpass to visit her. The night of the Final Battle, as some are calling it now, changed things even more irrevocably than the Sorting Hat had, and her potential had been snuffed out before it had even really begun to flower. She’d never be a Gringotts curse-breaker like she wanted. She’d never get married and have children and grandchildren. She’d never come to my wedding and be my maid of honor and be the first to catch my bouquet. Even when I heard that she threw herself in front of the Avada Kedavra meant for Ron Weasley, who was shielding a Stunned Hermione Granger, and showed everyone who dared think that she wasn’t really a Gryffindor and hadn’t deserved the Gryffindor red and gold, I couldn’t care that she had died a hero so much as that she had died at all.
I don’t know if it’s really quite sunk in yet that she’s gone. I’ve gone for months without seeing her before—she spent a month with Lavender during the summer once, and when we were studying for OWLs and NEWTs, we didn’t have much time for visiting with each other. But this is different. No visits to end and no tests to arrive. My twin is gone from me, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to catch her and hold her back. And there’s something inside me that’s just empty, and won’t ever be full again. I don’t know if I truly appreciated her presence before, but I do so now, in hindsight. I can eventually be glad that she was there for me…but not yet. I can’t think of being glad yet. Right now, I can’t do anything but mourn the one person I loved above anything else, and stand beside her grave and hope she knows how much I miss her.
All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.
--e.e. cummings, "All in green went my love riding."