Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’: Chapter 30
In the thirtieth chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the wizarding world gathers at Hogwarts to say goodbye. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 30: THE WHITE TOMB
- All lessons were suspended, all examinations postponed. Some students were hurried away from Hogwarts by their parents over the next couple of days—the Patil twins were gone before breakfast the next morning following Dumbledore’s death, and Zacharias Smith was escorted from the castle by his haughty-looking father. Seamus Finningan, on the other hand, refused point-blank to accompany his mother home; they had a shouting match in the entrance hall that was resolved when she agreed that he could remain behind for the funeral. She had difficulty finding a bed in Hogsmeade, Seamus told Harry and Ron, for wizards and witches were pouring into the village, preparing to pay their last respects to Dumbledore.
I opened the door to my hotel room, greeted by darkly painted walls; there were no lights on the ceiling. The entire building was themed after water, so there were these strange fixtures shaped like waves with tiny bulbs lending a light blue glow to the room. Two queen beds split the room in half and the sliding glass door looked out over a view of Waikiki. I saw small figures, runners, making their way along the beach, thinking how they must be baking under the sun.
I set my bag down on the bed closest to that door and my mom and younger sister, Christine, seemed to be following behind me, even though they had a separate room from my brother and I. My sister’s bubbly demeanor was starting to grate on my nerves.
“You guys ready to go eat?” she asked us, pulling drawers open, looking around the room aimlessly. Her almond hair was pulled back in a ponytail so tight that it made the top of her head gleam when the light struck it; she turned to me, her eyes wide. “Are you listening to me, Mark?”
Yeah, yeah, I heard you. I guess I could eat.
“Good, good,” she said, as if whatever I had said to her was irrelevant to her mental process. “I want to find somewhere that has burgers, I really want a burger, do they have those here? I don’t remember, it’s been so long since I was here, isn’t that silly?”
My brother shot me a glance. We knew. I was always asked if twins like us knew what we were thinking, but this wasn’t a twin thing. We knew because we’d live with her. We knew because this is exactly what we’d expect from her.
“These rooms are really nice, aren’t they?” my sister said and my mom nodded, her face tired and long. “I suppose so,” she replied. “I just wish we were staying with some of Dad’s relatives.”
“I wish so too,” my brother said, sitting on the edge of the bed, dejected. “Why are we staying here?” he asked Mom. “Why aren’t we at Uncle Bobby’s or something?”
“We can’t. Too many people.”
“Can we please go eat?” my sister said, tapping her foot furiously. “I don’t know if you remembered, but we just sat on a plane for, like, forever, guys. Can’t we please leave?”
My mom ignored her and continued talking. “There’s so many relatives here. I guess none of us realized how large his side of the family is. People from all over the various islands, lots of people from the States. There’s just no room.”
I turned away from them and opened the sliding glass door as the broken record I sometimes referred to as my sister continued droning about burgers and other food that she could get down the street from her house in Southern California. I saw clouds approaching, patchy and nimble, and I thought they’d be coming too. We were running out of room.
- Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were spending all their time together. The beautiful weather seemed to mock them; Harry could imagine how it would have been if Dumbledore had not died, and they had had this time together at the very end of the year, Ginny’s examinations finished, the pressure of homework lifted…and hour by hour, he put off saying the thing that he knew he must say, doing what he knew what was right to do, because it was too hard to forgo his best source of comfort.
You had to rent a bright red convertible, Mom?
Mom laughed. I hadn’t seen her laugh in a few days. “Why not?” she said. “You only live once.”
At these words, we looked away quickly. The irony wasn’t lost on us.
My sister called shotgun and immediately resumed her previous song. “So I think we should just head straight to dinner, yeah? Wasn’t Uncle Bobby meeting us there?” She pulled out her phone and sighed with exasperation at some text. “Ugh, I just cannot deal with this right now. Doesn’t Megan know I’m in Hawaii?”
“We should go to that one beach Dad liked,” my brother said. “Remember? The one where I stepped on a rock and cut open my foot.”
That’s what you remember about that place?
“You ever gotten seawater in a cut? You don’t forget that.”
I laughed too. It felt good. I wanted to go that beach, to walk down the clandestine path between the houses that I would never be able to afford and walk along shore and shove my dad in the water like I did the last time I was here. And then we swam out, snorkels in our mouths, and we pointed to fish we spotted and we touched anemones and I would surface and laugh about how it felt on my fingers.
I climbed into the back seat of the convertible. We weren’t here for that. And there’d be no swimming with Dad today. I heard my sister whine about something else and I did my best to drone her out.
- ”Well…yes,” said Hermione. “So…I was sort of right. Snape must have been proud of being ‘half a Prince,’ you see? Tobias Snape was a Muggle from what it said in the Prophet.”
“Yeah, that fits,” said Harry. “He’d play up the pure-blood side so he could get in with Lucius Malfoy and the rest of them….He’s just like Voldemort. Pure-blood mother, Muggle father…ashamed of his parentage, trying to make himself feared using the Dark Arts, gave himself a new name—Lord Voldemort—the Half-Blood Prince—how could Dumbledore have missed–?”
He broke off, looking out the window. He could not stop himself dwelling upon Dumbledore’s inexcusable trust in Snape…
I kept his letter with me during those days. Actually there were two letters, but only one mattered. A couple weeks before he passed away, my father wrote everyone in his barely-legible scrawl, telling them something important; it was a strange gesture because he rarely had much to say as it is, so the idea that there was even more he needed to tell us was foreign.
Dad thanked me for making up with Mom because it stopped the fighting at home for a long time. He said he was proud of me living on my own. He said he was proud to have chosen to be my father.
And at the end, he said something I did not expect: Please don’t be hard on your sister. She’s just going through a phase. She’ll be fine.
Sometimes, when I wanted to go away from the moment I was facing, I’d pull out my wallet and rifle through it, as if I was looking for something, when I was actually just looking at the letter, reminding myself of what it said.
“What time is the funeral tomorrow?” my sister blared in my ear, taking me away. “It’s early, right?” Her voice soared over the clink of silverware and the din of conversation.
“It’s just before noon,” Mom replied. We need to get ready pretty early so we can drive to the other side of the island. Do you know if–?” she started to say to my brother.
My sister cut her off. “It’s not going to take long, is it? I want to go swimming and get a tan for a bit and then maybe head into Honolulu and go shopping and…”
I looked at my brother. His face, exhausted, unshaven, mirrored mine. This wasn’t a phase at all.
“No, it shouldn’t,” my mom said, “but we’re going to a feast in his honor afterwards. It’s custom here, so it will be a few hours.”
“UGH. Really? I hate Hawaiian food—or Japanese food. Whatever it is. It’s all the same. Can’t we just go get our own food? I’ll probably just refuse to eat, mom.”
I put my wallet back into my pocket and put my face in my hands.
- Silence fell between him them, each of them lost in their own thoughts, but Harry was sure they they, like him, were thinking about the following morning, when Dumbledore’s body would be laid to rest. He had never attended a funeral before; there had been no body to bury when Sirius had died. He did not know what to expect and was a little worried about what he might see, about how he would feel. He wondered whether Dumbledore’s death would be more real to him once it was over. Though he had moments when the horrible fact of it threatened to overwhelm him, there were blank stretches of numbness where, despite the fact that nobody was talking about anything else in the whole castle, he still found it difficult to believe that Dumbledore had really gone. Admittedly, he had not, as he had with Sirius, looked desperately for some kind of loophole, some way that Dumbledore would come back….He felt in his pocket for the cold chain of the fake Horcrux, which he now carried with him everywhere, not as a talisman, but as a reminder of what it had cost and what remained still to do.
Do you want to go down to the beach?
My brother didn’t hesitate. “Yeah, let’s get out of here,” he said, grabbing a jacket from the hook over the back of the door. We walked out of our room, quietly shutting the door behind us, and rushed down the hallway as silently as we could. We passed the room our mom and sister were sharing and we could hear that forced whisper our mom used so frequently, the one utilized during situations where my mom wanted to yell, couldn’t, but still needed to use verbal force to get her point across.
I stopped briefly to listen. “I don’t understand why you can’t appreciate that we’re here because your father is dead.”
“Don’t lecture me again!” my sister cried. “God, what is so wrong with wanting to get a vacation out of this? Besides, he’s dead, he doesn’t care if I’m even there.”
My brother pulled me along, which was probably a smart thing to do, considering that I must have made it apparent that I was about to burst through their door to yell at my sister.
Silently, we understood that the point of walking down to the beach was to get away from all of this. We took the elevator down to the lobby and walked out the front doors, greeted by a warm summer night in Hawaii. Even though the shore was a good quarter mile walk from where we were, we could hear the crashing waves and it gave me comfort.
“So, you’re not going to punch her during the funeral tomorrow, are you?”
No, I said. I hate her, but not that much. Besides, I don’t think it’s advised that we pick a fight during the funeral, right?
My brother laughed. “That might be kind of funny, but I don’t think Dad’s relatives will think so.”
I don’t really know what to expect tomorrow.
“Me either,” he replied, his voice quieter than before. “Dad wasn’t religious, was he?”
No. Do we have to say anything? I don’t know if I can do that again. His wake was bad enough.
“No, no, I think other people have that planned. I think we just sit there. And look sad.”
I smiled. We have the same sense of humor.
As soon as we got to the sand, we followed our custom: remove the shoes, remove the socks, dig our toes deep inside the cool sand, feel like you’re a part of the earth. I breathed the clear air in, free from the smog of Los Angeles, free of the noise of parking-lot-traffic. I wanted to be here, now, for as long as I could, so I didn’t have to go to the cemetery tomorrow, so I didn’t have to find out if I’d have to look at my dad’s body or see if he’d been cremated, so I didn’t have to watch something be lowered into the ground and see if I was able to stand it and see if it was possible for me to not cry, and then a bunch of people I didn’t know would start hugging me, saying the expected, “We’re sorry,” and “I was very close with him,” and “You have our condolences,” and a bunch of other phrases that didn’t mean shit to me, but I’d have to listen to them over and over again.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out. It was Eddie, the guy I was seeing back in L.A. “MISS U, HOPE U ARE OK.” I hated that he could spell out full words and I hated how lonely I felt reading this. I put the phone back in my pocket and caught up to my brother, who had trudged ahead on the beach towards the water.
“It’s so nice here,” my brother said. “I wish we were here for some other reason. I think I’d be able to enjoy it more.
Yeah. I just reminds me all of dad.
“I haven’t been to a funeral before. You?”
“I’m not looking forward to tomorrow.
Neither am I.
- An extraordinary assortment of people had already settled into half of the chairs; shabby and smart, old and young. Most Harry did not recognize, but a few he did, including members of the Order of the Phoenix: Kingsley Shacklebolt; Mad-Eye Moody; Tonks, her hair miraculously returned to the vividest pink; Remus Lupin, with whom she seemed to be holding hands; Mr. and Mrs. Weasley; Bills upported by Fleur and followed by Fred and George, who were wearing jackets of black dragon skin. Then there was Madame Maxime, who took up two and a half chairs on her own; Tom, the landlord of the Leaky Cauldron in London; Arabella Figg, Harry’s Squib neighbor; the hairy bass player from the Wizarding group the Weird Sister; Ernie Prang, driver of the Knight Bus; Madam Malkin, of the robe shop in Diagon Alley; and some people whom Harry knew merely by sight, such as the barman of the Hog’s Head and the witch who pushed the trolley on the Hogwarts Express. The castle ghosts were there too, barely visible in the bright sunlight, discernible only when they moved, shimmering insubstantially on the gleaming air.
“It’s too hot to wear a tie,” my brother said.
My mom stared at him, squinting at the sun pouring down behind him. “I know, I know, but try to stand it? It’s only an hour or so.”
We were at Hawaiian Memorial Park and Dad’s service started in less than half an hour. My brother somehow got convinced to wear a tie, while I was in a frayed polo shirt and shorts. I didn’t own any “fancy” clothing (and I still don’t), and I felt underdressed as those who came to pay their last respects arrived.
Christopher was there, my half brother who I only met a few times; he was tall and looked like a paler version of my father, so he sort of creeped me out by default; my dad’s brothers, my uncles, had also showed up, wearing the most expensive looking Hawaiian shirts I’d ever seen. Their eyes were red and puffy and they shook hands with purpose and conviction and it made you want to burst into tears in response. Aunt Lucille, my favorite of dad’s siblings, was also there, her infectious smile plastered on her petite face. She gave the best hugs and her smile was not a mask. She always seemed so happy; today was no exception, because she was ecstatic to see us. It had been so long because there was no way for any of us to afford a trip to Hawaii in the last ten years or so.
“I missed you so much,” she said to me when I arrived with the family and she squeezed me hard and I squeezed right back. Her joy made me feel better.
The rest of the Oshiro clan joined the Moriharas and soon the field was filled with people I vaguely remembered from the last family trip to Oahu and a whole lot of people I had never seen before in my life. I was related to all these people, most who lived on one of the islands of Hawaii, and a part of me lamented that I’d never gotten to know them.
“Are you ok, Mark?”
Mom turned to me, her eyes perpetually red, as they had been since we’d landed the day before.
I’ll be ok, I said. I was lying.
- But then he heard music, strange, otherworldly music, and he forgot the dislike of the Ministry in looking around for the source of it. He was not the only one: many heads were turning, searching, a little alarmed.
“In there,” whispered Ginny in Harry’s ear.
And he saw them in the clear green sunlit water, inches below the surface, reminding him horribly of the Inferi: a chorus of merpeople singing in a strange language he did not understand, their pallid faces rippling, their purplish hair flowing all around them. The music made the hair on Harry’s neck stand up, and yet it was not unpleasant. It spoke very clearly of loss and of despair. As he looked down into the wild faces of the singers, he had the feeling that they, at least, were sorry for Dumbledore’s passing.
The service had begun and I’d shaken enough hands and been grasped by enough hugs for a lifetime. There was a priest of some sort, but not what I’d expected. My brother nudged me immediately, leaning over to whisper.
“Uh…I think dad’s getting a Buddhist ceremony.”
What? Dad was Buddhist???
Mom leaned over my brother to speak to me this time. “It’s more of a custom thing,” she explained, “since he’s Japanese.”
The man began to recite a sutra and I suddenly realized what the box on the table in front of the canopy was: my father’s ashes.
I was relieved that I wasn’t going to have to look at his body. I turned around. Red eyes everywhere, tears streaming down faces. I was ok at the moment, but I looked down our row of seats. My sister was on her cellphone.
My silent rage began to build inside of me.
- Hagrid was walking slowly up the aisle between the chairs. He was crying quite silently, his face gleaming with tears, and in his arms, wrapped in purple velvet spangled with golden stars, was what Harry knew to be Dumbledore’s body. A sharp pain rose in Harry’s throat at this sight: For a moment, the strange music and the knowledge that Dumbledore’s body was so close seemed to take all the warmth from the day. Ron looked white and shocked. Tears were falling thick and fast into both Ginny’s and Hermione’s laps.
My mom was up at the small folding table, pulling the urn my father’s ashes were in. And for a brief second, I wish he had not been cremated. The remains of my dad were just an arm’s length or two away from me and it was his body burnt down to it’s most primal, natural state. And I suddenly wanted to touch him one last time, to assure myself he was real and that this was real. My face started burning in despair and the heat from outside the canopy seemed to be rushing in, washing over my face and my body, and I could feel hot, bitter tears pouring down my cheeks. This was not happening.
- Now he retreated downt he aisle, blowing his nose with loud trumpeting noises that drew scandalized looks from some, including, Harry saw, Dolores Umbridge…but Harry knew that Dumbledore would not have cared.
My mom sat down next to my brother, tears freely streaming downwards, and she reached over and swatted my sister’s hand, which was clutching her cell phone with rigidity. My sister sighed with marked exasperation and made a face at my mom, putting it away. She crossed her arms dramatically and slumped back in her chair.
- A little tufty-haired man in plain black robes had got to his feet and stood now in front of Dumbledore’s body. Harry could not hear what he was saying. Odd words floated back to them over the hundreds of heads. “Nobility of spirit”…”intellectual contribution”…”greatness of heart”… It did not mean very much. It had little to do with Dumbledore as Harry had known him. He suddenly remembered Dumbledore’s idea of a few words, “nitwit,” “oddment,” “blubber,” and “tweak,” and again had to suppress a grin….What was the matter with him?
As the priest figure continued to say things I didn’t understand, he soon lapsed into a large portion of song entirely in Japanese. My brother leaned back over to me and whispered, “I bet if dad were here, he’d ask the guy to skip this so we could go eat.”
My mom swatted my brother this time, but with a small smile on her face.
- And then, without warning, it swept over him the dreadful truth, more completely and undeniably than it had until now. Dumbledore was dead, gone….He clutched the cold locket in his hand so tightly that it hurt, but he could not prevent hot tears spilling from his eyes: He looked away from Ginny and the others and stared out over the lake, toward the forest, as the little man in black droned on….There was movement among the trees. The centaurs had come to pay their respects too. They did not move out into the open but Harry saw them standing quite still, half hidden in shadow, watching the wizards, their bows hanging at their sides.
Aunt Lucille stared at me. I’d missed what she said.
“It’s time for you to come up here,” she said quietly, crying still, as most people were. I looked and my brother and mom had stood up and were standing next to the table. I got up and joined them and it became clear to me that the tarp that was underneath the table wasn’t there for decoration, but was covering the hole in which we would inurn my father.
His brothers moved the table out of the way and I saw the plain urn in my mother’s hands, shaking delicately, and saw that her mouth was curled up in an attempt to resist outright sobbing. My brother kept making faces too, as if he was struggling to refrain from saying something that should be kept to himself. My sister was doing her best to put on a show, and kept forcefully dabbing her eyes, but I could tell there wasn’t anything there to dab up.
My mom got to her knees and my brother put a hand on her shoulder, while I stood there feeling useless. As she placed him into the ground, Aunt Lucille whispered, “It’s customary for you to place a handful of dirt on top of him, as his direct family.”
My mom had already scooped up a pile of earth and dropped it on top of the urn. “Goodbye, Morris,” she said, using the nickname his family had used since he was a kid. She stood up and one of my uncles escorted her back to her seat. My brother kneeled down quickly and spent little time pondering the scene before him. I heard him mutter his goodbye and he quickly returned to comfort our mom.
I bent over and the ground was cool and slightly wet. I managed to grab a healthy handful of dirt and as I let it go over his urn, I felt as if I was about to be shoved inside and the great weight of this moment was unbearable to me, as if my spine would suddenly shatter and I would plunge forward and join my father and I’d be surrounded by blackness and dirt and that this would be my future and there’d be people standing over my remains, saying words that meant nothing, and throwing the earth back at me, and I didn’t want to stand up because I’d have to carry this moment with me for the rest of my life, and every time I thought of my dad, I’d remember how he was ultimately reduced to a small slab of metal in the ground and the shame of that was too much to handle for me.
“Mark, Christ, could you please hurry up?”
I turned my head up to see my impatient sister staring down at me and the shame and terror was replaced with a seething, fiery hatred.
- He could not let anybody else stand between him and Voldemort; he must abandon forever the illusion he ought to have lost at the age of one, that the shelter of a parent’s arms meant that nothing could hurt him. There was no waking from his nightmare, no comforting whisper in the dark that he was safe really, that it was all in his imagination; the last and greatest of his protectors had died, and he was more alone than he had ever been before.
I wanted to shove her in the grave and bury her alive and the satisfaction of knowing that she would suffer for what she did to my father would fill me with an unending sense of joy.
I sat down, furious at the thought that my sister would never have to be responsible for what she did in those final moments of his life and sad that everyone here believed she had been the best daughter a man could ask for. I wanted to bury her.
- ”Ginny, listen…” he said very quietly, as the buzz of conversation grew louder around them and people began to get to their feet. “I can’t be involved with you anymore. We’ve got to stop seeing each other. We can’t be together.”
She said, with an oddly twisted smile, “It’s for some stupid, noble reason, isn’t it?”
“It’s been like…like something out of someone else’s life, these last few weeks with you,” said Harry. “But I can’t…we can’t…I’ve got things to do alone now.”
She did not cry, she simply looked at him.
“Voldemort uses people his enemies are close to. He’s already used you as bait once, and that was just because you’re my best friend’s sister. Think how much danger you’ll be in if we keep this up. He’ll know, he’ll find out. He’ll try and get me through you.”
“What if I don’t care?” said Ginny fiercely. “I care,” said Harry. “How do you think I’d feel if this was your funeral…and it was my fault…”
I sat in my own hatred, feeling as if my father’s funeral was ruined, even though it was ending and people were shuffling about to drop handfuls of dirt into his grave. Some people returned to their seats, some stood about and hugged each other or stared off at the Ko’olau range in deep thought.
And then my sister leaned over to my mom. “So is this over yet? I’d really like to go shopping.”
And I couldn’t stop them from pouring out of my mouth, but I stood up, my heart leaping and thumping in my throat, and I stared directly at my sister and said, I hope our plane crashes on the way home just so I know that you’re dead. And I walked away, off towards the sun and the space and I walked past years of death and despair and I didn’t turn back.
- “So,” said Scrimgeour, his voice cold now, “the request I made of you at Christmas—“
“What request? Oh yeah…the one where I tell the world what a great job you’re doing in exchange for—“
“—for raising everyone’s morale!” snapped Scrimgeour.
Harry considered him for a moment.
“Released Stan Shunpike yet?”
Scrimgeour turned a nasty purple color highly reminiscent of Uncle Vernon.
“I see you are—“
“Dumebldore’s man through and through.” Said Harry. “That’s right.”
I turned at the sound of her voice.
“Mark, please stop.”
My mom was sweating and she stared at me, her eyes pleading.
Why is she even here, Mom? This is just a vacation for her.
“She’s your sister,” she replied, her voice cracking.
I don’t give a shit. She doesn’t deserve to be here.
“Your father would want her to be here.”
I gaped at her. No. He wanted much more from her. And I found myself pulling my wallet out and there was dad’s letter to me, but I didn’t pull that out. I pulled out another letter I’d stolen, one that had only been read once by its recipient and been ignored.
Do you know what this is?
“No, I don’t, Mark, but it’s not important. We are supposed to be—“
You remember how dad wrote us all letters?
“Yes, of course I do.”
He wrote one to her as well. Did you read it?
“No, Mark, I didn’t, but it doesn’t matter now becau—“
He begged her to talk to him. I screamed the words at my mom. He begged her to give him a hug and stop acting like he didn’t exist. He begged her to please tell him what he did wrong to deserve this treatment. He begged her to do something to make him feel like he did one thing right, that he was a good father to her at least once in his life, and he begged her to do it because his broken heart was killing him.
My mom was sobbing loudly and her face was contorted in anguish. “Why are you telling me this now? I miss him too.”
Guilt struck my chest, but I had to say it or I’d take it to my grave as well. Mom, he spent the last month of his life dying and she pretended he didn’t exist. She told him he was a terrible father and that she was better off without him. And you know why? Because he didn’t give her enough stuff, enough money, because she had to live without the latest new brand or shitty record. That’s it.
I stepped closer to my mom. She is a worthless piece of shit and I want her to die. I hate her more than anyone I have ever met and she does not deserve to be here because she sullies his memory. She killed him, as far as I am concerned, and she’s here to go shopping.
My brother joined my mother now and he stared at me with a mixture of terror and understanding in his face. “Mark, please, I know it hurts, but let’s not do it now, ok? I get it, I swear I do, but just not now, ok?”
The guilt returned to my chest and I stepped forward and hugged my mom. I’m sorry, I told her, you don’t need this right now. I’m sorry, mom, oh god, I’m sorry.
“It’s ok,” she said, in between sobs. “It hurts me too.”
- ”We’ll be there, Harry,” said Ron.
“At your aunt and uncle’s house,” said Ron. “And then we’ll go with you wherever you’re going.”
“No—“ said Harry quickly; he had not counted on this, he had meant them to understand that he was undertaking this most dangerous journey alone.
“You said this to us once before,” said Hermione quietly, “that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we?”
“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron. “But mate, you’re going to have to come round my mum and dad’s house before we do anything else, even Godric’s Hollow.”
“Bill and Fleur’s wedding, remember?”
Harry looked at him, startled; the idea that anything as normal as a wedding could still exist seemed incredible and yet wonderful.
“Yeah, we shouldn’t miss that,” he said finally.
His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.
“There it is! It’s right over there!”
My brother turned in his seat in the convertible, pointing to a spot between two houses along Diamond Head Road, houses that towered among the lush forestry of this grand island.
I recognized it as well. It was unforgettable. It was the “secret” path my father had taken us down ten years ago, to the beach only locals knew, where there were no tourists, no shitty people crowding a beach to take cliché photos. Just the crystal clear water, the shiny, white sand, and the expanse of nature that overwhelmed upon site.
My mom parked the car and we jumped out of the car, grabbing our snorkels and swimming fins and our goggles, my excitement recalling days when we used to be able to afford to vacation here, a world so unlike anything stateside, a world that seemed magical and dreamlike. I felt like a kid again.
But only partially. There was a hollow vacancy behind my sternum as we crossed the street, my sister ignoring all of us, a look of distaste and disgust on her face. She wasn’t too happy about being called out in front of dad’s family and had taken to giving us the silent treatment.
“I can’t wait to see if we can find fish,” my brother said. “Oh…and not slice my foot open.”
My mom laughed. Her eyes weren’t red anymore and there was color on her cheeks. It might have been sunburn, but it meant the same to me. She was starting to heal.
We bounded down the path and I imagined the past. I inserted it here and I could see myself and my brother, each clinging one of my father’s large and rough hands, and we were ahead of where I was now, walking down the narrow trail covered in shade from the trees overhead, and I watched as we burst into the opening and started screeching in awe at the expansive sight before us, as the beach spilled forth on both sides and the blue water sparkled back at us. It looked fake. It looked like a blockbuster movie or one of those cheesy photographs you found in IKEA that are pre-framed for your convenience, and it looked like this beautiful world stretched on forever and everything ever was exactly this beautiful.
I stood behind this scene and knew that the world was only beautiful like this right here, right now, and that miles beyond where we were, I’d have to return to a world where there was work, bills, a new man to date and stress about being accepted by, and there was a flight home, where I’d wonder if the irony of my outburst at my dad’s funeral would come home, and there’d be more time spent destroying myself with my anger.
But at this moment, I saw my brother peel off his shirt, his goggles around his neck, his fins causing him to wobble forth like some sort of Mexican penguin, and I could see my mom smiling at him, happy that we could be here, and we watched him plunge into the ocean, knew how cool the water felt, and then we watched him burst forth out of the cerulean waves, screaming about how he’d knocked his knee on his rock but he was totally okay, and we believed him.
I’d have to live with the weight of my dad’s urn in my heart forever, but I had this moment to cherish, even if he wasn’t here. I wouldn’t be on this beach if it wasn’t for him.
I miss you, dad.
I’ll make an announcement about the next liveblog later today. I’ll start Deathly Hallows later this week; I want to do a handful of posts this week about predictions, theories, a possible fanfiction review, and some other silliness to tide over my own sadness about this series and the loss of Dumbledore.
I think I’ll also only post one review per day during Deathly Hallows. I got sad today thinking about how there’s only one book left, so I’d like to extend this experience just a tad bit longer before it’s all over.
Oh, and because I obviously need to do this:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is fucked up and I love it to pieces.