When: Friday, July 10, 1998
Where: starting at Hagrid's hut
Why: Tying up one last loose end
Hagrid looked very surprised to see me at his cabin door late Friday afternoon. I don't blame him for that - despite having taken his class, I was never the most interested or motivated of students in general, and certainly not buddy-buddy with the man like some Gryffindors who will remain nameless.
But realising that it was my last full day here at Hogwarts...ever...I was going to be gone, something I'd waited for for quite a while. And now that the day was nearly upon me, I had to do something that had been plaguing me...since the carnival at least, and probably before, since the battle.
"I was working the Kissing Booth - I couldn't go on your Tour," I told him, "And...I sort of need to be not with a group anyway."
So he acquiesced, and now here we are in the clearing of the Forest I remembered from a certain class fifth year. But this time, it'll be different. I know it will be different as he calls and puts out a piece of meat for me.
When the first one arrives, I can't stop the visible flinch causing Hagrid to ask, "Are yeh sure yeh want ter do this?"
"I have to do this," I reply, steeling myself, "Can I...can I touch it?"
"Yeh'll have to ask him, yerself," Hagrid replies.
So again biting my lip and getting up my courage I approach the thestral closer, looking into the big white eyes of the animal.
"Puis-je?" I murmur, reaching out my hand to touch its nose.
If I didn't know any better I'd say it was rolling its eyes at me, but once my hand is there, I feel a renewed sense of courage. I can do this, I can.
"Hello," I initiate, knowing full well it won't reply back, but that's okay, it doesn't need to, "I don't like you very much - I'm sure you've figured that out. I'd probably be much happier if I couldn't see you. I don't want to. But maybe, and don't you dare admit it to him, Nott's right and I just have to get over this. Things are different now. I'm likely in no minority anymore seeing you. And...and I can't change the past anyway. I've seen death. I've...helped cause it. Right.
"Maybe this is silly, bête. You tend to hang around Hogwarts and so the likelihood that seeing you is going to be a common occurrence in my future is next to none. But...I guess we just have to deal with what life gives us, n'est-ce pas? And this is how I'm dealing. Facing my demons rather than trying to bury them forever."
The fact that I'm talking to technically an invisible winged horse is a bit wonky, so I'm glad that certain people can't see how silly I look. Yet I think I needed this - I need to deal with these phantoms before I leave. Casal is gone, and it's only myself holding me back now.
Past isn't going to change. Those Mugges in London will always be dead. So will Casal. But the future is bright and I'm not going to let seeing these silly horses dictate any of my life anymore. They're here. So what? So am I. We'll both be here, and that's okay.
And so it's with a feeling of actual closure I nod to Hagrid and thank him before turning and heading back to the castle to pack for my last train ride home.