Harry Potter has gone blind. A rambling about how he has adjusted to life as a blind man and someone who helped him to see.
"Harry, dear." He felt her nudge him in the ribs, but he did not stir. "Harry," she said, her breath tickling his ear. "It's time to wake up."
This time he opened his eyes. Not that it mattered. The only difference between having his eyes open and having them closed was the absence of the weight of his eyelids over his eyes. The fact was, Harry Potter was blind. It had all happened rather suddenly, actually, and no one had known how or why. Even the most skilled Healers of St. Mungo's had not been able to explain it.
He supposed it wasn't really that odd, considering that Voldemort had been involved. Harry wondered about that. Perhaps part of his own curse had deflected back at him, the way Voldemort's had? But then...Voldemort had died, and Harry had not. Perhaps Voldemort had cast a spell on himself, such that anyone who might kill him would go blind? Implausible though it seemed Harry decided that, if such a spell existed, it would definitely be something Voldemort would do. Harry doubted that he could resist the urge to make anyone who could kill him suffer, even in death.
It hadn't been easy, initially. After it happened, his friends treated him like he had come down with some great illness that left him incapacitated, something which frustrated him to no end. He knew they were only trying to help, and that they were looking out for what they thought was his best interest...but it wasn't very long before it began driving him mad. He remembered telling them that he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself. They seemed disinclined to agree; they did, however, "back off"--as he had so succinctly put it.
In fact, the only person he found with whom he was comfortable being blind was Luna--a fact which had surprised him a little. Then again, she'd never been one to view things the way others did. There were two kinds of behavior that the people around him clung to in the aftermath of his blindness, and Luna practiced neither. Most people either treated him like a loaded canon--carefully avoiding any mention of the fact that he was blind or anything that alluded to it, for fear that he might become upset or offended--or tried to do everything for him. It was the latter that annoyed him the most. He was /blind/, not paralyzed.
Luna, however, fit in neither of these categories. In fact, she'd announced it as soon as she'd seen him that day in St. Mungo's.
"The Healers said that you're blind," she said, before she'd even made it all the way into the room yet. "Mrs. Weasley said it was awful…but I don't suspect that it's really all that bad."
He turned his eyes to where he thought she was, sitting alongside his bed. He opened his mouth to speak, but was promptly interrupted.
"I used to pretend I was blind, you know," she began, "when I was a little girl. I'd tie a scarf around my eyes." There was a short silence. "I rather liked it," she mused. "It was much easier to see things that way."
She paused then, as if giving her statement time to sink in. Harry thought about it for a moment. "What d'you mean?" he asked, sure that Luna was confused. "I thought the whole point of being blind was that you couldn't see."
"Not at all," she said serenely. "It's just that you see things in a different way." She paused.
"For instance," she said, after a while. Harry heard some rustling, and he assumed that she was rifling through a bag of some sort. Suddenly, the rustling came to a halt. He felt her take his hand, making his palm face upward. She placed something in his palm, and then drew away.
"Now," she said. "What did I put in your hand?"
"Um...well, it's hard," Harry began, turning the small object around in his fingers. "And...oddly shaped." He could tell that there were places in which the object jutted out, almost like it had spikes. He brought it closer to his face.
"It smells like...cherries." Deciding it was safe, he tentatively stuck the object into his mouth. He heard Luna giggle.
"Tastes like cherry, too," he mumbled, rolling it around in his mouth. "It's delicious."
"See?" she asked excitedly. "You are still able to see! It's just in a different way, that's all. There's more than one way to charm a cat. My mother always used to say that."
Harry had not quite understood what she'd meant then, and he wasn't so sure that he knew now, either. Still, he knew that some part of him did, and he liked it.
"Why don't you wear your glasses anymore?" she'd asked him one afternoon, as they sat outside Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour.
"Well, it would be rather pointless, wouldn't it?"
"Hmmm," she uttered, as if it required consideration. "I suppose so," she said. Her voice held a tone of disappointment. "Still, I was quite fond of them. They are part of what makes you 'Harry,' I think." She paused then, and he considered her words briefly. "And besides," she added, "they remind me of my Spectrespecs."
He still chuckled at the memory, over ten years later. He'd worn his glasses ever since that day. He wasn't quite sure why, except that he had to agree that he didn't feel like himself without his glasses. Besides, it had been worth it simply for the fact that The Daily Prophet had declared him 'deranged' for continuing to wear his glasses.
"I don't understand...are they insulting you?" she'd asked. "'Deranged' means that you have a 'mental imbalance.' I looked it up, just to be sure. I think it would be rather boring if everything were balanced, don't you?"
He found himself growing apart from most of his friends in the years following Voldemort's defeat. He and Ron were still friends of course, but after the death of Hermione and Ginny, their relationship had never quite been the same. As much as their deaths had affected Harry personally, he couldn't help but feel that they had taken a much harder toll on Ron. Harry almost felt like an intruder upon his grief, even though he had cared very much about Hermione and Ginny as well. Currently, Ron spent most of his time buried under a pile of work at the Auror Office, but he visited Harry and Luna for dinner about twice a month. He would always laugh and say that he still couldn't believe that they were married. Then again, he'd also say that there were no two people with whom he'd rather spend an evening.
Neville was the only other frequent visitor of the Potter household. He had a rather kind sadness about him in the days after Voldemort's defeat. Now, he was at Hogwarts for most of the year, where he'd taken over for Professor Sprout after her recent retirement. Harry was glad for him; Neville really seemed to like his job and, what's more, he was getting married in the summer to one of the other new Hogwarts teachers.
"Are you okay, Daddy?" came a small voice.
He was sitting up in the bed now, sliding his glasses onto his face. "Just fine, honey," he said, trying to determine the location of his three-year-old daughter, Celeste. He soon discovered it, however, when he felt his arm being tugged on from the side of the bed.
"Time to get up, time to get up!" came her young, excited voice.
"Time to go to the pet store!" chimed another female voice from across the room. It was Lunette, who had just turned six the previous week.
"Do I have to?" Harry asked pathetically.
"You /promised/!" Celeste exclaimed, in an accusatory voice.
"She's right, you know," said Luna. "I distinctly recall you promising to take them to the pet store last night. And I never forget crucial things like this."
"No fair!" exclaimed Harry jokingly. "They tricked me! They wouldn't let me inside the house until I promised! Such deception should not be rewarded!" he shouted dramatically, grabbing the nearest daughter. Lunette began giggling uncontrollably, while Celeste squealed in delight, putting up a mock struggle.
"Well, we're going to Diagon Alley, anyway. You know we're not going to get a moment's peace unless you give in," came Luna's voice from beside him on the bed.
"Fine, I admit defeat!" he said, dropping onto the bed dramatically and releasing Celeste.
"Hear that, girls? Quickly, now, go get dressed!"
There was a rush of giggling and the mad pattering of feet on the floor before he heard the door close behind them.
He felt Luna's weight shift until she was right beside him, pressing into his side.
"That was smart. They'll never stay quiet unless we promise them a visit to the pet store."
"They get that from you, you know," he said jokingly. "But seriously," he added, "we are not getting any wooblers this time."
Luna let out a disappointed sigh. She leaned in until her lips were right next to his ear. "Guess I'll just have to find another way to distract them so that we can have some time alone."
"Of course," Harry began, as soon as she was done, "having pets does teach them responsibility..."
Luna giggled a little, and then grew silent. He knew that she was probably examining him with those wide, silver, beautiful eyes of hers. What he wouldn't give just to be able to gaze into them one more time.
"I wish I could see you," he rasped, bringing his hand up to cup her face. He felt her frown under his palm. She grabbed his forearm. The silence persisted for what felt like a long time, but they were not interrupted.
Finally, in a voice so soft that he could barely hear it, she said, "You see me better than anyone I've ever known. I feel like you can see all of me, straight down to the depths of my heart. That's why I love you, Harry Potter."
They laid that way for a long time after that, until Celeste and Lunette came rushing into the room again, oblivious to what had just happened. And--Harry was quite sure he hadn't imagined it--he felt the lingering presence of moisture on his cheek where Luna's face had been pressed against his.