Chapter 1 : broken wings
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Dec. 31st, 2026 11:50 p.m.
Pastels. Everything is faded pastels; pale blue walls, muted off-white floor. I'm sure if there were people here, they would be dulled, too. Luckily, there is no one. They would be sure to stare. It's obvious I'm out of place. I have tattered, bloody clothes, a dirt-covered face, and bright red hair. Hell, the most recent cut on my leg is soaking through my jeans, leaving a drop or so of shocking crimson on the floor. But what I think doesn't belong the most is my hat. My ripped, faded, yellow knit hat. It isn't bright like the rest of me, so it blends in with everything else, but it shouldn’t be here. The smell of home-of my sister- is long gone. My sister should be the one wearing it.
It isn't mine. I can't wear it. It's ripped off my head before I even realize what I'm doing. The urge to tear it to pieces is strong, but I can't. It might be the only thing I'll ever have of hers.
A splash; a murky drop on the hat. If there was a mirror, I could see the one clean streak amongst the layer of grime. But not for long. Once the first tear escapes, there is a flood. A shaking, shivering, sobbing flood. I despise myself. I chose this. I left her. I don't have the right to cry for her. Still, I was never good at being strong, and I stuff the hat into my mouth and scream, tears still leaking down my face. Luckily, after a while, there is no anger. There is no pain. Everything seems distant. The too bright colors turn back into the too dull ones. It’s almost normal.
That's how he finds me, and the bright colors come back. He has too bright robes and the too dark hair and the too brown eyes. It’s just too much.
The only one who knows. The one I disappointed the most. The only one I hurt.
He finds me. Rocking back and forth like a child, whispering her name.
Sep. 1st, 2024, 10:45 a.m.
"Lucy!" Even though one foot was already on the train, I turned back. I would recognize that voice anywhere. "I need a hug!" Barreling toward me was my sister. She was a good six inches shorter than me, and I easily caught her hug and lifted her up. About ten metres away were our parents, but they were just smiling and watching.
"Molly, I have to go," I told her, and the smile that seemingly never left slowly fell.
"No," she argued, and I sighed. I just couldn't fight with Molly. Not now. It was then I noticed the stares. How odd this must have been for all of them. Someone like me acting like this. I was Lucy Weasley; the scary Slytherin with the purple hair and combat boots. I wasn't supposed to be smiling and hugging my sister on the platform. But as much as I wished it was just me they were staring at, I knew most of them were staring at Molly.
Molly has Down’s syndrome. It was as simple as that. She was short and her face looked different- more slanted eyes, and her ears were the cutest, tiniest ones I’d ever seen. Her brain didn’t work quite right, either, and some people don’t understand what she says. I’d never had a problem with that, though. No one really knew about Down’s syndrome in the wizarding world, so most people treated her like a child, or as if she was stupid. In all honesty, though, she was far more intelligent than me. If there wasn't something wrong with her brain, she'd be one of the smartest people in the world, in my opinion. No one else saw that, though.
"I'm sorry, Molly, but I have to go to school. Unless you want to go for me?" I asked, and Molly just laughed. That was why I loved her. There was hardly a time Molly wasn't happy. And her happiness was infectious.
"Nooo!" she said, still laughing, before hugging me again. Except this time she refused to let go. Knowing what to do, I bent down so my lips were right by her ear.
"If you let me go, I'll send you a surprise from Hogsmeade," I whispered, and she just nodded, smiling even wider.
"Bye! Have fun at school with all our cousins!" she called, before walking back over to our parents. Dad gave me a stern nod, telling me to behave myself, and Mum just started talking to Molly about going to Diagon Alley once I was gone. I nodded back with equal formality, before disappearing onto the train.
Everyone was talking around me, telling stories of summer romance, of adventures on vacation. Friends were screaming and hugging. As usual, I quietly slipped past everyone, and no one seemed to mind. After a few minutes, I found the right compartment. James, Albus, Louis, and Rose were already there, and as soon as they saw me, they beckoned me in. They were all sixth or seventh years, but it was never uncomfortable. We were cousins, and they didn't care if I was only a fourth year. I never talked to the girls in my year; we just never got along. I was the angsty freak.
"Hey, Luce," James greeted, patting the seat next to him. Immediately I sat down, and my cousin smiled from behind his large glasses. "I saw you and Molly. How is my favourite cousin?"
"She's great," I replied. "Bloody woke me up this morning with that stupid song you gave her, by the way." It surprised me how easily I relaxed around James, because relaxing was not something I did well.
"My plan succeeded, then," he replied cheekily. "Oi, look! She's waving!" James nudged me, pointing out the window. Immediately I waved back, putting on a smile. Just then the train started to move, and my hand slowly sank down into my lap. I looked down, seeing my sister's smiling face in my head. James nudged me comfortingly. He knew what I was thinking, that Molly should be sitting here next to him, off to her final year at school.
Why had the world chosen Molly to go through this? She was the nicest person I knew, much nicer than I was for sure. What could she have possibly done to deserve any of it? I had seen her struggle to learn to read and write; I had seen her trying to figure out how to use money. Everything that had seemed so simple ... it was a challenge for her.
Molly smiled all the way through it.
So now I had to force myself to. Smiles hid the pain.
Oct. 17th, 2024 9:53 p.m.
The mirror was my worst enemy. Every day, I saw how horribly fat I was. Sucking in my breath, I see the faint outline of my ribs. Below that, though, was fat. The fat I could pinch. The other girls in my dorm- they’re sticks. I didn’t know how to look like them. They ate- much more than I did- but they were still so damn skinny.
I saw my broader shoulders, the way my eyes were different sizes when I smiled. Mostly, though, I just saw the fat. Like normal, I ran away from the mirror, from having to face myself.
Most nights I wandered the corridors. It was incredibly easy to avoid the prefects; they did the same patrols each night. Plus, the paintings tended to help me; they would snore louder when a professor or prefect was coming.
I was wandering through the Charms’ corridor one night when I suddenly wasn’t alone. In the darkness I couldn’t make out his face, but it was obvious he was strong. Much stronger than me.
“I didn’t take you as a night person,” he said, and I recognized the voice. It was a Hufflepuff in James’s year, one notorious for his creepy antics.
“There’s a lot about me you don’t know,” I replied coldly, and started to walk away. He kept pace, though.
“I want to know more,” he said, before his lips crashed onto mine. They were rough, greedy, and it hurt a little. But I felt … wanted. No boy had ever even looked twice at me before, and now there was one kissing me. I needed more. He pushed me into the wall, and I deepened the kiss.
I was so, so alive.
“What do you two think you’re doing?” a voice interrupted. I winced, recognizing it. At this point, his hand had been up my shirt, and he was about to unhook my bra. I had no idea why I was going to let him. Now, as he still leaned against me, it was uncomfortable. He used girls and then discarded them, and I was letting him use me.
“Come on, mate,” he practically growled, but the prefect just pointed his wand at us, and the light illuminated my face. I watched as the prefect’s face turned from shocked to furious to a mask of calm.
“Detention. Go back to your common room. I need to have a word with Lucy,” the prefect ordered. Grudgingly, he obeyed, winking and mouthing ‘tomorrow’ at me. Then it was just the prefect and I. James and I.
“You have about ten seconds to explain why that creep had his hand up your shirt,” James said, his voice shaking with anger.
“I … I don’t know,” I replied, my voice tiny. He had made me feel wanted. Like I wasn’t ugly.
“Stay away from him. You know what he’s like,” James ordered. I just nodded. “We’ll talk more about this tomorrow. If I try to right now I’ll just end up screaming at you.” Quietly, I walked away. What had I done?
But the next night, I went back to him. And then night after that. I just couldn’t stop.
Dec. 20th, 2024, 2:47 p.m.
"Lucy, do the dishes!" my mother's voice screamed up the stairs. I had been home for a grand total of five minutes and had somehow provoked the sleeping dragon. Professor Longbottom had abruptly put an end to my purple hair, (apparently we could only have ‘natural’ colors) so it couldn't have been that. My marks were fine ... well, they were passing. I hadn't caused much trouble ... what could it be?
"I'm going!" I yelled right back, my anger flaring. With my mother, it didn't take much to set me off.
"Now! And don't you use that tone with me!" she scolded, and I bit back a retort. Instead, I stormed out of my room and down the stairs, where there were multiple stacks of dishes. My mother was also there, her arms crossed under her puffy coat. Molly had a jacket on as well, with her yellow knit hat. She loved that hat.
"Since you can't bother to even say hello to your sister, much less take her to Diagon Alley like you were supposed to, we're going," Mum said coldly. My blood positively boiled.
"I've been home for five minutes!" I protested. Molly and I always went Christmas shopping together; I was planning on taking her tonight.
"On the way home you didn't say more than two words to me. I don't like how moody you're getting. And I don't want you to take Molly if you're going to be like that," she replied, and I barely managed to stop myself from retorting. Mum was usually worried about Molly; taking her to her therapy and making sure she stayed healthy. That I understood. But when it came to me, she was oblivious. If she knew half of what was actually going on in my life ...
It stung. My own mother didn't see me start to change. She didn't know why I was 'moody'. She didn't see that I was wilting like a flower.
She couldn't see how much I hated myself.
I wanted to yell, to scream at her how wrong she was about me. But the lies were easier. As much as I hated how I was, I didn't want to tell my parents. I didn't want to hurt them. So I just picked up a dishrag and turned away.
"Why isn't Lucy going? I want to go with Lucy." Molly was pointing at me, and I felt guilt build in my chest. I argued with Mum all the time, but I hated when Molly came in the middle of it. It wasn't fair to her. But with one last withering look at me, my mother grabbed Molly's hand and was out the door. Leaving me alone with my guilt and a pile of dishes the size of Hogwarts.
When they came back, I just told Molly we were going out, grabbed my coat, and left. Mum didn't have time to stop it.
March 9th, 2025 7:16 a.m.
I miss you. Happy Birthday.
I smiled slightly as I read through the short note. Molly had attached a drawing; I was pretty sure it was of the two of us, but I honestly had never been totally sure. There was nothing from Mum or Dad, but they were probably going to send a present later. They were too worried about Molly.
A month ago, Molly had started to show signs of magic. It was hurting her, though, and she has to stay in St. Mungo’s. She’s getting worse, too. If she kept on the same path that might have been the last birthday card I ever get from her.
No. I couldn’t think like that. I just couldn’t. But she looked so tiny in that hospital bed …
I didn’t know what I’d do without Molly. James was gone, Albus and Rose were studying for N.E.W.T.s, and Mum and Dad wouldn’t reply to my letters. Molly was the only one who always was there. And now … she was slowly breaking. I saw it when I visited her. It was getting worse.
It hurt. I hated seeing her like that; I hated seeing Molly in pain. I wanted to scream at every Healer there that they should be doing more. I wanted to take the pain myself. It couldn’t be worse than watching.
A tear leaked down my face. They almost always did; the hopelessness was crushing me. I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t sleeping, and I was always crying. I didn’t know what was going to happen to Molly, or if she’d be okay. It was impossible to think about anything else.
But this, this card was what broke me. I had hardly replied to her letters all term; I’d been too busy taking advantage of the fact that James wasn’t there to stop me from screwing around. And Molly, even when she was in the fucking hospital, remembered to send me a birthday card.
I was a horrible person.
After that, everything just dissolved. I couldn’t stop crying, the pain was tearing me apart. I was a mess of make-up and tears on the floor of the Owlery.
“Shit, Weasley. You look like hell. Want a ciggy? They help.” A hand reached out to me, a perfectly rolled cigarette in a palm that obviously belonged to a male.
I was done. I couldn’t take the pain. Shakily, I accepted it.
Dec. 25, 2025, 6:55 p.m.
"What the fuck?" In a flash, the cigarette flew out of my hand and into the snow. A fuming James was leaning toward me, and I in turn leaned farther into the wall. Instead of replying, I blew smoke in his face. This apparently wasn't the smartest decision, but I didn't give a flying shit. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Having a cigarette. Want one?" I said calmly, pulling another one out of the pack and lighting it with my wand.
"I'm a bloody Healer, of course not!" he exclaimed, grabbing my cigarette and smashing it into the ground. Then he took the pack.
"Oi!" I yelled, trying to snatch it back. "I paid for those!" Anger flared inside me, but worse than that was the desperation. I needed those; it was my last pack. They calmed me down. It was like a constant numbing shot.
"No," he said simply, before taking out his wand and setting the entire thing on fire. I tried to salvage it from the flames, but James wrapped his arms around me and held me there. The need for the them was so strong that I was aware of myself screaming and kicking to free myself, just to try to save the stupid cigarettes.
I had no idea what it was. I knew they could kill me, I knew that it wasn't healthy. But they helped. Smoking kept my emotions in check, from boiling over. It kept me from giving a shit. If I had to care about life, I wouldn't be able to handle it. I was too weak. I knew that.
"Lucy ... stop ..." James grunted, and slowly I gave up. There were only ashes left, anyway. They were gone. When I had stopped moving completely, James put me down, breathing heavy. His grip was still vicelike, but he turned me around so I could look, and probably talk to him, but also so that I couldn't escape. Which was what I had been about to do. "You're going to tell me what the hell is going on right now." I didn't respond ... he couldn't know. He'd hate me.
"I don't have to tell you anything," I spat, trying to rip myself out of my cousin's grasp. If he were at Hogwarts, he'd already know. Luckily he had been out of school for a year. James had this nasty habit of caring ... he couldn't accept that I didn't give a damn about anything, and no one should give a damn about me in return. James was always sending me letters, trying to coax me into spilling my guts. The idea was almost comical to me.
"Like hell you don't. Lily was talking to me a few days ago ..." James trailed off. His voice was still chocked full of anger, but it softened when it was implying the obvious. That he knew. His grip loosened, too.
"Well, I'm fine," I spat, and tore out of his grip. I turned to storm away, but James grabbed my arm.
"I doubt that, Lucy. I know it's been hard, with-" he started, but I couldn't bear to hear it.
"Don't talk about her," I cut him off, tears pricking at the edges of my eyes. "You don't get to talk about her."
"You're wearing her hat," James whispered, and I felt my hand drift to my head. Sure enough, the yellow hat was there. I almost never took it off now. "And I know you've been fighting with your mum-"
"Stop," I croaked. I couldn't hear this. Not now.
"And Lily told me about school-" he pressed, and I tried to turn away. A tear had escaped. He pulled me back around, though. I shook my head at him, still looking down, but James just kept going. "-and the boys. This isn't you, Lucy." That's when something snapped.
People have this nifty thing inside them called a breaking point. Their entire life, people slowly inch toward it. Most never actually reach it, but some do. Imagine it as a cliff. After a long stretch of things piling up, you gravitate toward the edge of the cliff. And when you're as close as I am, one little phrase can send you flying off the edge.
"You don't know a thing!" It was as if I was watching myself yell at James. The real me was standing mutely, slowly suffocating with the pain of the truth. "I can't fucking take this anymore, James! Molly isn't getting better, my mother fucking hates me, I'm so damn stupid I'm failing all my classes, and yeah, I screw around with boys! You want to know why? I'm weak! Fucking weak- I know that! I need them to tell me they want me, even if it's only for my body! And you know what the best part is? They don't give a flying shit! They don't care if I starve myself or smoke- hell, they prefer it! As long as they get their sex, they're fine! And it makes me feel fucking good! So what if I'm drunk or high while I'm doing it? It's the only time I don't just want to fucking die!"
By the end, I was slapping James's chest with each word. He didn't say a word, but just stood there and listened as I screamed. When I was finally done, I was sobbing. James just wrapped his arms around me, and I soaked his dress shirt with my tears. But saying what I had wanted to for years hadn't helped; it just made me hate myself more.
I hadn't realized my hands were clutching pieces of James's shirt, and when I had calmed down enough to breathe properly I let go, but James's hands rested on my shoulders. They were rough, but in that way that made him seem familiar. His eyes were serious as they bore into mine.
"You need to listen to me, Lucy. What you're doing isn't healthy. You're not weak. You will get through this. And you need to; you need to be strong. If not for yourself, for Molly. Can you promise me you'll be safe at Hogwarts? That you won't do this anymore? I don't care what you need to do- floo me at three in the morning if you need to- but you need to be safe. I didn't know it was this bad. This is dangerous, Lucy," James said, his voice calm and caring. It wasn't patronizing, and I knew he was being sincere. That didn't stop me from being terrified, though.
"You won't tell anyone?" I asked, and James shook his head.
"Just promise me you'll stop," was his reply. As I was nodding, I realized there were probably lines of black from my thick layer of make-up running down my face. So hastily I started to wipe it off. Soon it was obvious my attempts were pointless, so I just looked at James and tried to smile.
"Thanks," I whispered, and James pulled me into a bone-crushing hug.
"It'll be all right. Let's go get you cleaned up, yeah? You look kind of like a sad panda right now." My laughter came out shaky, but I let James put his arm around me and lead me off.
Dec. 31st, 2026 11:41 p.m.
I had tried, I honestly had. James even had given me a special mirror that would let me talk to him, but I just couldn't handle it. Molly got worse, Mum sent more and more Howlers, my marks fell further, and the mirror became my worst enemy again. It didn't take long to fall back into my old patterns.
But eventually, even the cigarettes or the boys weren't enough. I couldn't ignore the crushing sadness. I was failing everyone; Mum, Dad, James. But most importantly I was failing my sister. I was letting Molly down. I hadn't been to the hospital in months, but I knew if I went I would completely lose it.
So I left. I just ran away one Hogsmeade weekend. It was me, a rucksack with a coat, my wand, and Molly's hat against the world.
It isn't as simple as it sounds. Trust me. It was better, though; I didn't need anyone. I stopped being so goddamn weak ... I fended for myself. The cold nights and meal-less days are worth it.
Who am I kidding? I ran out of money too quickly- my stomach hasn't been full in months. It isn't the kind of hunger from starving yourself. No, this is scary. And too many nights are spent moving and trying desperately not to freeze. There are too many times I'm running from burly men in my alley; too many times they've caught me. There are other ways to buy drugs, too.
Why do I even do it?
Molly. A year after I left, she's still in the hospital. The sickness is slowly starting to recede, they think, and even though I can't disguise myself magically- I turn seventeen in a few months- every week I sneak in and see her. Before I visit her every Monday night, I go to Diagon Alley. There's this little street vendor full of games she loves. It's almost too easy to take something. I know it's wrong, but it's for Molly. Her healers turn a blind eye to me, and for that I'm forever grateful. It hurts a little inside, though; my own sister doesn't recognize me underneath the grime. She calls me 'Yellow'.
Everything was fine ... until it suddenly wasn't. I had no idea what the date was. I should, I should know these things, that he would be working on New Year's Eve to see my sister. My sister who is now in intense treatment because I carried in an illness from the street. .
The pain, the crushing guilt, it's back. I can't breathe. I do the only natural thing- run. Run down the pastel halls, to get away from him, from Molly, from what I've done. Slowly, I stop running. All my strength fades away, and I slide down the wall into a crouch.
It occurs to me how much I fucking hate pastels.
Dec. 31st, 2026 11:51 p.m.
"Lucy?" He rushes toward me. There is pure disbelief etched into every line of his face. I can't stop thinking about Molly, about what I've done. It's one thing to destroy your own life, but to do that to her ... What have I done? If she doesn't get better, it's all my fault. It's all my fault.
It's all my fault.
"Molly," I whisper, clutching the hat.
"Oh my god, it's really you!" James whispers, before crouching so his face is level with mine. Slowly, softly, he tries to coax Molly's hat out of my hands. No. My grip tightens, tears still leaking down my face. James is whispering to me now, telling me that everything will be fine. Slowly, my energy fades. The hat falls to the floor. We both look at each other for a second, and I realize what my weakness has done. My arm shoots out to grab it, but James is faster. It takes him a minute to see what lies beneath the layer of dirt and ash. I can't bring myself to look at him. He knows what I have done; that by seeing my sister I hurt her. He know I'm 'Yellow'.
"James, I-" I start to explain, but James cuts me off.
"We'll talk about it later. Right now, though, let's just get you home." My eyes water again, and James lightly places the hat back on my head. Then, he offers me a hand. Immediately, I almost tackle him in a hug, sending him stumbling for a few steps. Tears are streaming down my face again.
James is the only one who's never given up on me. No matter what. Through the drinking, the drugs, and the year everything fell apart, he's still cared. I've never thanked him.
"Thank you," I whispered, and James laughed.
"What? What did I do?" he asked. "You came back."
"No. For everything," I replied, and James hugged me tighter, before checking his watch.
"Hey, Lucy?" he said, smiling. "It’s a new start now. Happy New Year."