For me, it’s always been black and white. My dad likes to talk about shades of gray, but for him even gray is too simple. Within the gray, there’s always a little blue, a dash of gold, a sneaky streak of sparkling emerald. Sometimes the all colors are too painful to look at straight on.
I’m not saying life is easy. But I’m saying life can be simple, if you make it that way.
My brother James isn’t simple. He’s loyal, loud, brash… everything a Gryffindor should be. His life is twisted up in a maze of chivalry and pranks.
My brother Al isn’t simple. He’s ambitious, popular, smart… everything a Slytherin should be. His life revolves around Quidditch and the shifting lives of his team.
My family isn’t simple. Weasleys are many. Weasleys are disorganized and cheery. Weasleys always have gossip and stories and scandals and general mayhem to discuss.
Me? I’m simple.
My Aunt Hermione was called a know-it-all too often to count in her day. She had a hand that cracked the air as fast and hard as a whip, and she quoted textbooks the way some kids parroted the Weird Sisters, so I’ve been told.
I, however, like to think of myself as a see-it-all.
I wander the halls of Hogwarts, watching and listening. I catch snippets of people’s lives, a whisper here, a rumor there, and I piece people’s puzzles together, slowly but surely. I know some students better than they know themselves, now that I’ve been at Hogwarts for over five years.
I often feel like I a live a thousand lives a day, and go to bed without one at all. I’m not the kind of girl that relies on friends to define me, so naturally I’m not close to too many people. My family, being as big as it is, is as much of a support system as I’ll ever need. Plus, since they’re family, they love me unconditionally and interminably, something that’s never guaranteed with normal friends.
Everyone is an onion, see; they have layers and layers of thoughts, expectations, opinions. Each layer is delicate and easily split off. As each layer strips away it becomes translucent, flimsy, and out of date; people shed layers that aren’t true to themselves, and even more often have their layers stripped away by others. I make it my job to peel people, to try and get to their core without invading their lives and ripping the fragile shells they cower within.
But no more of my philosophy.
I am sitting by the lake, leisurely reading an old Muggle classic of my mother’s, when a stone soars into my lap. It bounces off my book and falls to the sweating grass beside me. I look up to see the Scamander twins coming towards me, rumpled blond heads bobbing and gangly limbs swinging every which way. I take in their loosened ties and untied shoes, and tuck away the sloppiness in my mental file folders.
“Sorry!” calls out Lysander, “We were just playing catch.”
“With a rock?” I ask skeptically, picking up the stone and twirling it in my fingers. “Why don’t you go find a Quaffle instead…?” I trail off as my thumb catches on something engraved on the rock. I peer at it and a closer look reveals it to be an extraordinarily familiar symbol.
“Well, the Quaffles are locked up, and we only have a few minutes before lunch anyway,” Lorcan said, regarding me curiously. “What’re you looking at?”
“Where did you find this?” I ask, eyes still locked on the stone. I’ve only ever seen that symbol scrawled on a piece of paper, long ago, as my dad told me a story of three brothers and their adventures with…
“Just outside the forest,” Lorcan says uncertainly, “We only wanted a rock to toss around.” It is clear from his orb-like eyes, so similar to his mother’s, that he’s expecting to be told off.
I am hit with a memory from over a decade ago, on a stormy night when I couldn’t sleep. Teddy Lupin had slept over at the time; I believe it was Easter vacation. He’d told me of his nightly walks in the Forbidden Forest, kicking around stones and wearing out his eyes looking for a particular one. He’d been in an desperate phase back then, when he was growing up and wanted only his parents to guide him. But they were in a place where no one could find them.
Except for perhaps Lorcan and Lysander Scamander.
“Why don’t you go to lunch,” I say, pocketing the stone, “You really should find something less dangerous to play with.”
“It’s just a rock,” grumbles Lysander, but the two boys run back to the castle anyway. Fickle first years. But they wouldn’t have seen the symbol on the stone anyway.
I grab my book and stand, before realizing I have nowhere to go. I’m no more experienced in the Resurrection Stone than anyone else currently at Hogwarts, after all. Because I do know that’s what it is. The famous (or infamous) stone from my father’s stories, unless someone is playing a crude, cruel joke.
My instinct is to throw the stone away and forget about it, but it’s too dangerous be casually tossed around. Lorcan and Lysander are lucky they didn’t unintentionally bring back some poor person. This rock summons people back from places they shouldn’t be hassled in. Within its smooth, innocent features lies a magic as dark and wonderful and mysterious as the Forbidden Forest it slumbered in for so many years. But clearly the forest isn’t safe enough.
Finally, I make my decision and begin the walk over the grounds to the greenhouses, where sunlight filters through the glass windows creating heat so thick it can be cut with a knife. I knock on the door to the adjoining office tentatively.
“Come in,” a voice calls out.
“Hi Professor,” I say, pulling open the door. The office is not that much different from the greenhouses themselves; the stuffy room is full to the brim with quirky plants, and in the midst of the greenery is a desk. Vines creep up three of the four legs. And leaning back in his chair, hair graying, hands and elbows dirt stained, is Professor Neville Longbottom.
“Miss Potter,” he says warmly, “I haven’t seen you in awhile. Herbology not your choice of career, eh?”
“Er, no,” I stammer, “I figured I could see you whenever you came over for dinner anyway. And you really can call me Lily.”
“Lily, then,” Longbottom says, “So, since you’re clearly not here to transfer into my class, what can I do for you?”
Blushing furiously, I fish in my pocket for the Resurrection Stone and hand it to him.
I watch his face as he takes the stone, probably expecting it to be a Venomous Tentacula seed or something in that neighborhood. He plucks it from my hand and has that expectant, fatherly look teachers get whenever a student comes of their own accord to ask a question.
Then his eyes fall to the engraving. He frowns, and scrabbles for his glasses on the desk. Once they’re balanced on his nose, he squints down at the rock and draws his thumb across the sign of the Deathly Hallows.
“My, my,” he murmurs, “Where on earth did you find this, Lily?”
“The Scamander twins were tossing it around, and didn’t even notice the symbol. I took it from them when I saw what it was.”
“Your father dropped this deep in the Forbidden Forest…” Longbottom says, “It’s plausible that over the years it migrated closer to the castle, but this is extraordinary…” And, to my astonishment, he hands it back to me and folds up his glasses.
“Er, Professor…” I start, but Longbottom interrupts.
“You’re the most trustworthy student at Hogwarts, Lily,” he says, “I have no need for the stone, and I know that whatever you choose to do with it, it will be the right decision. You are your father’s daughter, after all.”
“But I have no need for it either!” I say quickly, “Professor, I really don’t want—”
Longbottom encases my hand in his rougher one and his eyes, full of meaning, bore into mine. “I trust you,” he says firmly, “now run along.”
Full disbelief, I wander out of his office and onto the grounds. Lunch has surely started by now, but I’m not hungry. A warm breeze meanders over the grounds and the sun winks lazily, throwing light over the sparkling lake. Needless to say, the weather does not reflect the hurricane in my mind.
What in the name of Merlin does Longbottom think he’s doing?! I don’t need the stone either, and I don’t want it! Not only do I not want this kind of responsibility, I’m sure as hell not ready for it. Damn it, nobody on this planet is ready for it!
I can feel the light bulb flaring to life over my head. Suddenly, the lake isn’t sparkling; it is dark and menacing, and its depths hide a million secrets. My feet begin sprinting towards it of their own accord.
No one should have the stone. Just like its brother, the Elder Wand, the responsibility the holder requires is something nobody possesses and likely ever will.
As I get within range, I raise the arm clutching the stone. My heart is pounding, the sound filling my ears, pulsing throughout my body. I savor the adrenaline before hurling the Resurrection Stone into the lake with all my might.
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