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Hope

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James Potter sat on the hard, plain, cushionless chair in the middle of the bare room as he mused, Hope is a strange thing.

To him, hope was his wife, steadfastly by his side as the war-torn world raged and crumbled around them; her emerald eyes determined and fiery locks asway as she moved, slim and graceful as the blossom she was named after.

Hope was his one-year-old son, with James's untameable hair and Lily's eyes. A pure, untainted infant that was too innocent to comprehend the trials and sorrows of the cruel world it was brought into.

Hope was the camaraderie he felt with his friends, knowing they'd die before betraying him. It was the laughter, the jokes, the feeling of never growing up that was scarce in times like these, when war forced them to grow up.

James leaned his head back against the unyielding wood and replayed memories of childish gurgling and the melodious, tinkling laughter of the woman he loved. It all seemed aeons away. His struggles against the bonds of steel that constrained him were fruitless.

Hope was the lone firefly flitting among the dark, menacing-looking hedges in your backyard at night. And you watch, mesmerized, because only yesterday a horde of exterminators had scoured the area, armed with their ugly protective suits and massive, horrible spray guns. But that single bug, somehow, somehow had survived, had escaped the fate of its perished brethren.

The ropes fell off his body one by one as James massaged his fingers that were red and raw from previous attempts at freeing himself. He felt the familiar warm spark of hope kindling in his heart. He could get out of this godforsaken prison. He would see them again. Fighting his way through the inattentive night guards shouldn't prove much of a problem, and after that...sweet, sweet freedom, and his family back.

But any battle-hardened warrior knows that hope is fleeting.

Hope never lasts, because your next-door neighbour's little monster of a son will snap the lid shut on the jar he had used to trap the last firefly. And it is gone, never to flit in your hedges again.

James watched in silent resignation as the door creaked open slightly, just enough for a glittering silver egg to bounce once, twice, and roll to a halt at his feet.

All hope was lost.

Now I lay me down to sleep...

The grenade exploded.