Chapter 1 : Lucy
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“Molly,” Lucy sniffled, and Molly looked up sharply. Her sister sat up a tree, her skinny arms holding tightly onto the branch that supported her and crying quietly, “Molly I’m s-s-stuck.”
Molly placed her hand on her hip and looked up at her sister. As the eldest, it often came down to her to be the sensible one – she never resented it, she always thought she fulfilled the role quite well and Molly knew, if she were to fetch her parents, Lucy would get into even more trouble for climbing trees. “Jump.” Molly said, blinking up at her.
Lucy glanced downwards and her grip on the tree increased. Her lip wobbled again before she managed to speak. “What if it hurts?”
“Can I tell you a secret?” Molly asked, wishing she could simply reach up and pluck Lucy from the tree herself, “sometimes hurting isn't so bad.”
“What do you mean?” Lucy asked.
Molly considered this for a second and took the rapture in Lucy’s face as a sign that she should continue. “Like when you wobble a wobbly tooth, or when you press a bruise, or pick at a scab even when it hurts you - it's not so bad, Lucy. It'll be over in a second. It's thinking about the pain which is worse. It'll be over before you know it."
“Okay,” Lucy said, running this over in her head – it seemed to make sense, “okay,” she said again, letting her grip on the branch loosen slightly. She navigated the height, her breathing steadying and then, accompanied by her sister’s cheer, Lucy jumped.
“Lucy,” your mother says, “Lucy.” She’s upset, trying to pull you back from where you are – she leans forwards in her seat and reaches out and tries to touch your knee. You pull back, not wanting her hands on your skin, not wanting her to get to close. No one can touch you.
Your parents are sat down and your sister hovers by the doorway. They’re all watching you, waiting for you to speak, but you can’t – maybe, once, you had the words but now you cannot speak them. Not to your parents. They were never supposed to know.
Instead, you count in threes: three, six, nine, twelve, fifteen.
“Why?” Your father asks, his own voice cracking slightly. “Lucy, why would you do that to yourself?”
Why? Why? A question he wouldn’t ask if he understood.
Lucy remembered the first time she cut herself. She remembered the way it felt like she’d torn open her soul and left herself bare for sin and death and hatred to seep straight through the open wound. She remembered the way she’d cried after and then, later, the crippling weight of her shame.
She remembered realising how much she hated herself.
Your hands pull the material of your dressing gown over more of your flesh and you look to your knees and block out as your parents try to talk to you – you can’t talk about it, you don’t know where to start, you don’t know how to explain it. The addiction. Sometimes you think look, I’m in control now - It gives me control, and sometimes you think I don’t want this anymore, I never wanted this, I never meant for this to define me.
You don’t want anyone to look too closely as your skin, most of the time. Sometimes, when you’re feeling particularly twisted and perverse you want the whole damn world to see your battle scars but then, you see straight and you think clearly and you pull clothes over your skin. Then, you feel the uncomfortable tickle of clothes touching a still-bleeding-cut but it is better than anyone seeing you plain. Anything is better than that.
Your mother suggests something about you wanting attention, but you’ve never wanted less attention in your life. You want to barricade yourself in your room. There, you have a secret draw with your old potions knife, plasters and antiseptic potion. You’re not stupid.
“What do you... what do you use?” Your father asks and you consider providing him a list.
Lucy could feel the trace of pain from an elastic band pulled against her wrist. No, not an elastic band – a hair band. The odd heaviness of her wrist as she was so very aware of the power the hair band had. She would pretend that she wasn’t going to give in, run her fingers over the hair band, pull it back and not release it – tease herself. Then she’d let it go. A white mark appeared, just for a few seconds, before it faded. The horrible, hatred cycle of pain and more pain. Trapped.
“Scissors.” you answer, but that’s a lie. You just don’t want them to take away your knife. The brutality of the first word you’ve spoke since this conversation began takes your family by surprise. You suspect they thought that you might be crying. You rarely have enough emotion left within you to cry.
“Scissors,” your mother repeats and the horror in her voice is palpable, “where are these scissors, Lucy?”
“I threw them away,” More lies. You really are loathsome, “I wasn’t going to do it again.”
“But, Lucy,” your mother says, her heart breaking, “why did you do it in the first place?”
Lucy never wanted to get out of bed, she wanted to exist beneath her duvet and never have to fight through another day. Lucy thought of her parents fighting in a brutal, bloody a war. She remembered when her mother explained to her about Harry, about Uncle George, about how wars leave scars long after the fighting has finished. Lucy felt like she’d fought a war, lost someone, lost something – she had no excuses to explain away how unbearable it was to live. She had no reason. She had nothing but the vast feeling of emptiness perpetually bubbling inside her chest.
You have no answer for that. It is difficult to explain and things are difficult enough without explanations. You spent half of your life trying to rationalise what you’re doing and the rest of the time not wanting to be rational at all. You can’t remember the last time you weren’t thinking about the feeling of the blade on your skin, or you weren’t thinking about hurting yourself or not hurting yourself and weighing up the benefits of both options. It festers in your mind. This whole thing is a disease. An addiction.
If I can make myself hurt I still have control. If I need to hurt then I am controlled.
Your mother now talks about sending you to see someone, sending long looks to your father as though they are the ones who have felt the rawness of having your inside disappear and having nothing but a hole waiting for you to fall into.
“No,” Molly says, it is the first time your sister has spoken, “it’s probably just a silly phase. You don’t need to see anyone, do you Lucy?”
Once again, she has saved you. You will not have to ‘see someone’ if you can make your parents believe that this is just a silly phase.
“No,” you say, “I’m fine – it was just a silly mistake.”
Underneath the material of your pyjama top lies a testament to your hurting. Your thighs are patterned with lines of three, old scars, the faintest lines that you can barely see. They are there, out of reach and you see no need to acknowledge the fact that they exist.
It’s okay. I’m okay. Everything is okay.
“Lucy,” your mother says, and she is crying again bringing her hands up to her face and repeating your name, “Lucy, I saw. I saw, Lucy.”
Lucy stepped out of the shower and did not look at her body. She didn’t want to see her story mapped out on flesh today, she didn’t want to count the lines of three that spattered her hips and her thighs and her stomach with the truth about what sort of person Lucy was. The sort of selfish, shitty person who hurt herself. She wrapped the towel around her wet skin. She crossed the landing to her bedroom, closed the door two and fished out her underwear from the draw. Sometimes, she forced herself to face the mirror. She placed her hands on her hips and stared at her ugly, distorted form. It was then that the door burst open. Audrey Weasley stood in the doorway, clutching an armful of her daughter’s washing.
She sees you there, with just your underwear on and all you can do it yell at her because she didn’t knock, but it is too late then. When you snatch the towel up from the floor, it is already too late.
You have no words this time. You fold your arms and don’t look at them.
You count in threes: three, across your left hip, six, across your stomach, nine...
The first time Lucy had tried to fight she had not succeeded. She’d been doubled over with trying in the girls toilets, her best friend waiting for her outside so that they could go to their next lesson. Her hands had fumbled as she pulled at the zip of her bag, releasing the vile contents within. She’d paced the cubical twice, found it very difficult to breathe and tried to convince herself that she didn’t have to do this. It was the friend, outside, who’d made the decision for her. “Lucy,” she’d called, “Lucy, hurry up!” Lucy hadn’t had enough time to fight a war. So she’d surrendered. But at least she’d fought.
Your parents have sent you up to your room, as though you have done something silly and mundane. You feel better when you can lie down and are not required to do anything, and so you take in the feel of the pillow supporting your head and your duvet pulled into a cocoon around your horrible body.
Downstairs your father paces your kitchen, talking in muffled voices to your mother about how they brought you up, your cousins and rebellion as they desperately try to explain away this thing you have done.
Every so often you can catch a word but it isn’t difficult to predict what your parents are saying. They talk about mutilations and childishness and peer pressure and you think that they could never, ever, possibly understand you.
“Lucy,” Molly says from the doorway, her eyes haunted as she looks up at you, “Oh, Lucy.”
She walks over and sits on the edge of your bed. You don’t want to close yourself off from your sister and instead you reach out, taking her hands, falling into her arms as the tears begin to come. I never thought they’d know. I thought I had it under control. I thought I could hide this from everyone.
“Why?” Molly asks.
“I thought it would make me feel less empty.” You mutter, thinking wistfully of choking on these tears and going to sleep and not having to wake up.
“Did it?” Molly asks, and you shake your head. You want to justify yourself – you want to say that it helped for a little while, but now you look back you can see that it didn’t. Not really.
“No,” You admit, balling your hands into fists to resist scratching at your skin, “it only made it worse.”
The second time Lucy had been stupid. She’d been too caught up in the act that she’d forgotten about practicality: it hadn’t occurred to her then that arms were visible, and that if she were to take of her robes then anyone could see the real Lucy. And someone had. A boy in her Potions class. She fixated on the way his gaze froze on her arm, the way he went pale all of a sudden, and then how he’d looked away very quickly and hadn’t said anything for a very long time. Lucy had ran to the toilets the second the lesson was over, crying into her robes as she realised that he knew now. She wanted it t be a secret. She liked that here she was, privately self destructing, and no one had known. It was a part of her so personal that she’d relished in it – look at me, she’d thought, look at how badly I’m doing. And no one cared. No one knew. And then, they did.
“Lucy,” your mother says, hovering around you room the morning after with her eyebrows drawn inwards and a frown pulling at her lips, “oh, Lucy.” She says and it is almost as if she wants to reach out and hug you, but doesn’t know how you would react. She acts as though she doesn’t know who you are anymore.
Which, you tell yourself, has always been the case.
“You know,” you say, sitting at your desk with your knees pulled up to your chest, “I knew you’d be like this.”
“Like what?” She asks, a hand hovering precariously close to her chest. You hate that.
“That you’d make me feel worse. That you’d make me feel like I’ve failed all of you.”
“What do you want me to say?” Your mother asks, her mouth agape as her eyes started to water again.
“Nothing,” You return viciously, “I want you to butt out of my life.”
She closes the door behind you and you both cry. You’d expected nothing more.
Lucy always hated it when people would ask that question. ‘Are you okay?’ they’d say, ‘are you okay, Lucy?’ It was the sort of question which made her insides twist and either made her want to start to cry, or blurt out something snide and crude (oh, well, I’ve become addicted to cutting myself to the point that I can’t go anywhere without carrying a knife and even that isn’t working anymore, I’m behind on a couple of essays and I hate myself, but other than that...). Mostly, her answer was the usual curt reply and a forced smiled. These days it was difficult to paint a smile onto her lips without tears bubbling up and trickling down her cheeks.
Sometimes she wished she didn’t have to pretend so damn hard, but no one want to know how much she was hurting inside. It was easier for everyone if they assumed she was just another silly teenage girl. If only she could believe that too.
Molly lets herself into your room again and sits on your bed. You don’t turn around, this time, and instead stay at your desk staring out of the window and watching the world exist without you. It’s times like these that you mentally extract yourself from the world and see that it would be no different. You don’t change anything.
“I can’t stop them sending you to talk to someone,” Molly says, and you don’t turn around, “maybe it’s for the best,” she continued, and you still don’t turn, “I knew you weren’t okay, Lucy. But I just thought... I didn’t think things were this bad.”
Well they are you think.
“This is my problem,” You say. “There’s no need for anyone else to get upset about it.”
“We love you.”
“You shouldn’t.” You say and you still don’t turn around. If you look at your sister you might cry.
“Please try and be better for Mum, Lucy, she’s terrified.”
“Why should I?” You demand. “Oh, Mum’s upset? I’m sorry. I’ll try not to be so selfish next time. This is why I didn’t want any of you to know! I don’t want any of you anywhere near me. Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
“Lucy,” Molly says sharply, “we want to help you.”
You have no answer to that, so your fold your arms over your chest and feel your resolve leave you. You haven’t cut for a week. You’re torn between the guilt, the addiction, the pain and the hurting. Nothing seemed so complicated then, in the beginning, where it had seemed like such a simple solution. You don’t control anything anymore. You never controlled any of it.
“I hate it,” You say eventually, and you’re not even sure whether Molly is there anymore, “I hate myself for doing it. I’m so...I can’t help it.”
Molly doesn’t tell you that you can, so you assume that you’re alone in your room again because that’s the sort of thing that people say in these situations. You stand up and walk around pace the length of the floor. You take deep, steadying breaths. Eventually, you aim a kick at the secret draw with your knife and your plasters and your antiseptic potions. It hurts.
“I don’t want you,” you say out loud, “I never wanted you.”
Lucy had not cut herself for six weeks when she felt able to throw away the knife. Molly asked if she wanted her to come with her, but Lucy thought it was best if she did it alone. She did not throw it away in one of the bins in the dorm. She couldn’t sleep if she knew there was something sharp in the room, she didn’t trust herself. Instead, she took a trip down to the kitchens. She wrapped it in one of her old jumpers, threw it in the dustbin and deposited the other instruments of her sin there too. She threw them away, one by one. And then she walked away.
Despite all the bubble bath you used, the bubbles still fade and you are left to face your body again. You look at all that you’ve done to yourself and you feel that familiar shame again. You decided that it’s no wonder your mother is scared, that your father has called everyone he could think of for advice and that your sister sometimes comes into your room at night and just sighs.
You trace some of the scars out. Some of them are fading, which you think is probably a good thing.
Your mother pushes open the door without knocking. You have been given little privacy since she found out; as though she thinks by never leaving you alone you will not be able to do it again. She seems to think she is capable of taking away all the sharp things in the world, all the opportunities for you to hurt herself and all the reasons why you might be inclined to do so.
“Is there anything you’d like for dinner?” She asks, an excuse to ensure that you are merely having a bath.
“I don’t mind,” you answer, trying to hide your body away in the water. You still don’t want her to see you, “anything.”
“Okay.” She nods, and turns to leave.
“Mum?” You call, closing your eyes for a second. “I’m trying.”
She almost smiles and pauses at the doorway, “Oh Lucy,” she says in that way of her, “I know, I just wish you didn’t have to try.”
You wish that too. You wish that a lot.
When she was twenty she pulled away the material of her work robes, scrabbled to let her skin free, to see the faint white line that still remained on her upper thigh. The rest of the lines were obliterated, faded through years. She was glad that one remained because it reminded her of how far she had come – she preferred to remember those days than pretend they never happened, assessing her scars for a moment or two and seeing how far she had come.
She’d thought she wouldn’t feel complete again until they’d all faded, but now she felt like she wouldn’t be complete if that one line didn’t remain: it was part of her, not a part that she was proud of or a part she would ever revisit, but there was no use in denying that it never happened. Instead, she liked to look upon the past and think about the future.
Look at how I’m in control now, she’d think, look at how far I’ve come.
And so, Lucy Weasley sat on a flipped down toilet seat, her hand shaking slightly as she ran a finger over the length of the final scar.
I’ve won. I beat you.
And she hadn’t finished winning yet.
This was written in part for the “It gets better” Challenge. I just wanted to say that self harm is a very serious issue and shouldn’t be taken lightly in any scenario. I’m obviously not trying to encourage it or glorify it in any way, shape or form. I just needed to write about it.
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