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Title: Ravens In My Mind
Author: bratty_jedi
Rating & Warnings: Suitable for all audiences
Prompts: Day of Adversity, Raven, Drama, Location 40 (I think I got them all as long as metaphorically counts!)
Word Count: c. 1,500 words
Summary: Nothing exists beyond this white path that has no beginning or end. If I can stay on in it, I won’t have to think about what I've done.
Author’s Notes: (1) Thanks to mrstater for helping me out with some DH quotage since I'm in Texas, my copy is in Virginia, and I don't know where one is around here. (2) There is a small bit in here in which the dialog is quoted from DH. The scene should be obvious. (3) This piece is a bit unusual for me. As is typical for me when I try to do something different, I think the idea is great and the execution decent. Someday I hope to get the execution up to the level of the idea. Comments and suggestions on what works, what doesn't, and how I can get the execution up to the caliber of the idea are much appreciated. Of course, you may think the idea sucks and that's OK to tell me too. (4) This fic won an award at metamorfic_moon

Ravens In My Mind

I'm tired. I don't know for how long I've been walking. I don't remember ever starting. Perhaps I've been here forever. It would be simpler if I had.

The crunching of the pebbles under my feet is the only way I am certain I am still walking. The chalky-white path of stones seems to lead on forever and I suppose I will follow it forever. It is easier to keep walking, my feet and legs moving of their own volition, than to think. I try to make my mind like my path, a blank expanse surrounded by a dark foreboding forest. As long as I stay on this blank strip, I don't have to consider the world beyond. Nothing exists beyond this white path that has no beginning or end. If I can stay on in it, I won’t have to think about what I've done.

No matter how I try to keep on my path, the black memories intrude. They fly in from the recesses of my mind, pecking at me, demanding that I give them attention.

He just keeps pushing. I try to answer their questions without letting them know the entire truth, but somehow Harry knows there is something more and he just keeps pushing.

"I'm pretty sure my father would have wanted to know why you aren't sticking with your own kid, actually," he says.

No matter what I say, I can't make him understand things he's never experienced. He doesn’t truly understand what it is like for a werewolf in the Wizarding world, even in the best of circumstances. Now is certainly not the best of circumstances. None of that matters to him as we face each other in anger.

"My father died trying to protect my mother and me, and you reckon he'd tell you to abandon your kid to go on an adventure with us?"

I am livid at his accusations. "How -- how dare you?" I say. "This is not about a desire for -- for danger or personal glory -- how dare you suggest such a--"

"I think you're feeling a bit of a daredevil," Harry says. "You fancy stepping into Sirius's shoes. I'd never have believed this. The man who taught me to fight Dementors -- a coward."

That was the final straw. I can't believe it. I've given up everything for those I love only to be called a coward. Before I know what I am doing, my wand is in my hand and Harry is flying across the room to crash into a wall.

Did I really throw James and Lily's little boy across a room? Harry was certainly no longer the baby his parents had known. He wasn't even the little boy I had taught. He was a man. That didn't give me the right to slam him into a wall. That didn't make it any better.

I hadn’t meant to do it. We were both angry and I just lost control. Harry accused me of being a coward for abandoning them. Can't he see that I have no choice? I had everything. When I found Tonks, a bright vibrant woman who loved me even knowing what I am, I knew I had everything. A baby was more than I could ever possibly have hoped for. How could Harry possibly imagine I would give that up if there were any other option for me?

A drop of rain hits my nose. I'm somewhat surprised at how dark it has become, storm clouds obscuring the sky that lies beyond them. I stare at the rolling clouds, trying again to force my mind to a blank. Memories still force their way to the forefront of my mind. They fly around, black against the grey clouds on which I vainly try to focus instead.

I want to explain to her that she would be much better off without me. Her family will help her far more than I ever could. I am just too great of a risk to her, especially now, and will be an even greater one to the baby. Even if I were to never physically hurt them, their futures are limited by a connection to me. If I just disappear, it will be so much easier for them. I can't undo the mistakes I've already made or prevent the harm that will cause them, but I can stop myself from making more mistakes that will only increase the damage.

I can't tell her all that. She won't understand it now and will only try to argue with me, upsetting herself even more. I put it all in a note knowing that someday she will understand the truth she can't allow herself to acknowledge now. I leave the parchment on her dresser, tensing when she rolls over and mutters something unintelligible in her sleep, and slip out the door as quietly as I can.

A shiver running down my back is the first indication I consciously have that the few raindrops have turned into an absolute downpour. My cloak is soaked already and the water is beginning to run down my neck and into my shirt. I could pull out my wand and shield myself, but I haven't really used it since throwing Harry and now doesn't seem the time to draw it again. Through the rain, I can just see a small building, perhaps a chapel, in the woods to the left of my path. I pull up my hood and run for the shelter it promises. It isn't very big, but I duck into the open doorway and find it to be quite dry inside. I try to shake some of the water off my cloak as I stare out at the quickly worsening storm. I'm cold and wet and have no energy left to fight my own thoughts. Every bolt of lightning seems to call forth a scene in my mind.

Tonks smiles at me and squeezes my hand reassuringly before raising her other hand to knock on the door before us. The door opens so quickly I am convinced her parents were standing just inside. The Tonkses quickly wave us in, but I can't help noticing the shadowed glances Ted keeps throwing my way or the fact that Andromeda's smile doesn't quite reach her eyes. Tonks has told them all about me, but this is our first official meeting. We haven’t even made it to our chairs, and I can already tell they do not approve of their daughter being with a werewolf.

A streak of lightning cuts the sky in front of my face, temporarily blinding me with its intense light.

The moon is full. I am pacing in the gloomy upstairs hallway at the Tonks residence. Through the gloom I see a light shining through the crack of a door that is barely open. I pad over to the door and nose it open. Inside, a woman with spikes atop her head and a rather large belly sits rocking in a chair by a fire. Her feet are up and she is defenseless. A part of me tries to scream, in warning or in terror I am uncertain, as I attack with a snarl.

Another bolt strikes. This one is so close I wonder if it hit the iron fence just outside my temporary sanctuary.

I am digging through rubbish bins in a dirty alley. My coat is more threadbare than I have ever seen it and my wand pocket is strangely empty. I come up out of a bin with a half-eaten piece of meat clutched tightly in my hand. I quickly shove it in a pocket, keeping one fist wrapped tightly around it, and scurry from the alley. I make my way through back streets to a tiny, falling down, shack. Inside, two filthy children, barely covered by the rags they wear, are playing in front of a dying fire. Their eyes light up as if it is Christmas when I pull the meat from my pocket.

There is another flash of light, this time further back in the trees. The memories and imaginings are flying through my mind so quickly that I have trouble picking individual ones out from the flock. When I do isolate one black thought, I can't remember if it is a real one or not. It doesn't matter. Even the false ones could become real if I let them. I have already attacked Harry and I am capable of much worse. I try to force my mind blank again, to not think about what has happened or what could happen. I doubt I will ever be rid of these dark thoughts flying around my mind.

The rain has lightened considerably, the storm letting up as suddenly as it began. It is now just a drizzle and I step out into it. Out here, even if I can't banish all the dark thoughts, I at least don't have to think about the cause of the wetness on my face as I walk along my white-pebble path. It is just the rain.

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