It is time for me to confess that I wrote something that is not true.
Many things, because to write the truth at the time was dangerous, and so I had to write down, in a book designed to be seen only by myself, a series of lies:
That I did not know where Harry Potter was.
That nobody did.
That, on the night after James and Lily Potters’ death and Lord Voldemort’s disappearance, I was at Hogwarts.
That I remained at Hogwarts over the following weeks, lost in grief.
That part was true. Partially. I got through the days with my tears tucked inside of me, the mouse transfigured into the snuffbox, invisible but not gone. At night I cried—but not every night. Not the nights I was a cat, and went to Number Four Privet Drive.
I told the truth as much as I could. I did receive a letter from Alice Longbottom in which she wrote that she hoped the infant Harry Potter was safe, and that she was ready to adopt him if he needed a family.
I did not write back and tell Alice that Harry Potter had a family—a family no child would want, but family nonetheless. I did not tell her that I had seen Harry, swaddled in Hagrid’s arms; that I could have held him myself but I was crying too hard.
I did not tell anyone. Not even Elphinstone—who did read my diaries, making my decision to write those lies an apt one.
I have known for eleven years that Harry Potter was alive. I’ve seen him. He’s a bright child; curious, kind, a little hesitant to trust or to let other people in, but it’s hard to blame him given his current circumstances. (His aunt and uncle make him live in a cupboard under the stairs.)
He needs a friend—probably a few good friends—but when he arrives at Hogwarts, after getting a letter that might constitute the greatest shock of his life, I will have to continue to lie. I cannot be his friend, except in secret. I cannot tell him that I have known him since he was born. He would ask, and well he should, why we did not rescue him from the Dursleys. Why he grew up a Muggle and not a wizard. Why he’s only finding out the truth about his parents—and about Lord Voldemort—right now.
It would be hard for him to understand that we did rescue him. It was not the most comfortable rescue, but better than sending him to Frank and Alice Longbottom would have been. (I must visit them again. I’ll go on Sunday.)
We didn’t just keep the truth from Harry Potter. We kept the truth from everybody.
Professor Dumbledore is sending the owl this morning. I can finally write the truth—and then close these diaries, clasp them tight around my schoolgirl excitements and my adult frustrations, my grief and my love, the war, the marriage, the deaths, all my discoveries and curiosities from childhood to what I must reluctantly admit is old age.
It is not my job to write about myself anymore. It is my job to help write the book of Harry Potter.
This was the final installment of The Diaries of Minerva McGonagall. To read the entire series, go here.