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Chapter 1: Forever Young
A/N:This story refers to severe bullying and depression. If these are sensitive issues for you, think carefully before you read.
Eternal youth was a curse.
She was trapped in it, bound to it. It clung to her, suffocating her. It was her jailer, her ever-vigilant guard. Freedom taunted her, staying just out of her reach. It danced in front of her and laughed at her bonds, its mirth cutting deep into her.
She had forgotten long ago what it felt like to be alive, to have a body and sensation. She had only her mind, turned against her in a war she was destined to fight forever. A world, an existence, a life and a death and the pain, always the pain, torturing her, reminding her until she longed for madness, insanity that might be some relief. But her mind betrayed her again in its lucidity, condemning her to experience every moment of her private hell. The memory of her fourteen years alive eclipsed by nearly seventy years of miserable death, seventy years that meant nothing compared to the eternity that stretched out before her. No matter how long she was here, anchored to the world she no longer belonged to, it brought her no closer to the end.
There was no end.
It was that thought and that thought alone which destroyed her. It came as a whisper on the wind and a scream in the darkness. No end. No escape. No end. No end. No end.
Seventy years and she hadn’t aged or matured. Seventy years, her hair still in childish pigtails, eyes wide with naivety, Hogwarts robes that tied her, forever, to adolescence. She would never grow up. She was stuck at fourteen and she could never look beyond the bullying and the teasing because they were her entire world. Generations and generations of students passing through the halls, taunting her with the unthinkable cruelty of children, and she, with the unending sensitivity of a fourteen-year-old girl, could only sob in a corner as their words and laughter ripped into her.
Her mind was all that was left of her, and it betrayed her with its eternal youth, its impressionability, the way it absorbed every hateful thing ever said about her and slowly drip-fed them to her. Seventy years of being fourteen, denied the perspective and ability to move on that maturity brought with it. Nothing mattered more than what her peers thought of her, and nothing destroyed her more. In life and in death, they had despised her. Doomed to spend the eternity of her adolescence alone, a loneliness that filled her up and sucked her dry, that dragged her down and crushed her with its weight, and which she was powerless to escape.
Time and time again she had reached out with desperate hands to those who came to the bathrooms to cry, wanting no more than someone to share her grief and pain with, someone tormented enough they could see her pain in theirs and understand her. But they never did. They cried, they wiped their tears, they left. No matter how great their pain, they always moved on and kept living, and she was left alone. They had something she didn’t.
They had tomorrow.
She had no tomorrow, no hope that things would get better. She was stranded forever in youth and tomorrow would be no different than today, and her days and weeks and months and years blurred together because there was nothing to mark their passing, she never passed exams or grew taller or fell in love or graduated or got a job or found her identity or looked back on her teenage years with a nostalgic fondness and she could never say ‘How far I’ve come since then.’
She just existed, and sometimes she talked to people and thought they were a friend, and then as they left she knew, with the certainty of the perpetually alone, that they wouldn’t come back and they didn’t like her and they would laugh at her when they were back in their common rooms because she was the school joke and she always had been and she always would be, forever and ever and ever, Moaning Myrtle who died in a toilet and had stupid glasses and no friends and cried too much.
She would never be free and she would never be happy, and hope was one of those things that everyone else had but she didn’t have, and she didn’t know why everyone else could have it and not her, but she knew it was because she was worthless and everyone hated her and she didn’t deserve anything and she never had but she didn’t know what she had done to be so worthless, but she found her answers, as she always did, in the words flung at her.
She had existed. It was what she had done wrong, it was what made everyone hate her, and her punishment was to exist in this colourless world forever.