Disclaimer: I don't own it.
Summary: An aged Lily Potter (II) remembers and records the lives of her generation for posterity's sake.
A/N: This actually started out as a brief character sketch of Lily Potter II, but somewhere along the line it lost its brevity. I'm not sure how long the story will be, since her childhood was intended to be five hundred or so words and turned into over four thousand. I'll hopefully be able to update a couple of times a week, but, with school, it might take longer.
Also, if anyone's interested in being a beta reader, please PM me.
Dare to be Different
Chapter 1: The Start of it All
I've never been one for reminiscing about the past--memories of my childhood rarely come in anything more than fleeting flashes--but now I find it unavoidable. At a hundred a thirty-three years old, I'm the last of my generation still living and just days from my own death; yet, I greet Death as a long lost friend, for Death can reunite me with my loved ones, especially my husband. I ask only that Death waits to take me until I can finish my tale so that we will not be forgotten once our bodies have faded to dust.
Daddy used to do the same thing with us--my brothers and me (and Teddy, if he happened to be there). Tell us stories of his past, I mean. He'd wave us over to a couch or some chairs and tell us to sit down. "I've got another story to tell you, one that you'll love," he'd say, and I'd know that he was right. I always loved Daddy's stories, so full of adventure, humor, excitement, and the occasional romance. He told us nearly everything about his past, and even now I can remember all his stories as clearly as if I've just heard them.
But I'm getting off topic. My earliest memory takes place during the summer when I was either two or three. I remember the yellowing grass and the parched dirt, the warnings on our TV to use water sparingly in light of the drought; I especially remember James, trying to act older than his age, saying to Mummy in a falsely mature voice, "Thank Merlin for the boomstorm tonight." By which he meant "thunderstorm."
My memory of the next few hours fails me, yet--in the funny way that the mind works--I can clearly recall, later that night (at least, I think this happened on the same night; it definitely feels like one memory), waking up to a particularly loud clasp of thunder. Before I could feel even the slightest bit of fear, however, my big brother James was right there next to me. "It's okay, Lily, I'm right here," he told me, pulling aside the covers and getting into the bed next to me. "You're safe now." A wave of calmness washed over me because I knew that nothing could ever hurt me when James, my protector and idol, was there to watch over me. I fell back asleep as quickly as I'd woken up.
James had always had that effect on me, though, right up 'til his dying day.
Albus also provided me with brotherly safety, but his was of a much different sort. He was the brother I could confide absolutely anything in without ever fearing that I might somehow lower myself in his eyes. Even in my lowest moments he'd never make me feel ashamed for my thoughts or feelings. "You're only human," he'd say. " You're bound to think selfish thoughts and make plenty of mistakes." And while, I realize, this doesn't seem terribly optimistic, it did wonders in cheering me up.
His help was much needed when, at the age of six, my best friend died. Her name was Mary Collins and she was a muggle girl who lived down the street from us. Mummy and Daddy had enrolled me in a muggle primary school to learn the basics of life--how to add, subtract, read, write, spell, etc.--when I was four, and Mary was the only girl who'd talk to me. No one else wanted to associate with the "weird" girl who had made "weird" things happen to the boys down the street when they had teased her about her red hair. Mary, however, seemed to care little about what other people said. I only realized after the fact that Mary might've not cared because, with her deadly secret of having leukemia, Mary had more important things to worry about than what her peers said. And through her example, I myself learned to accept people, as she did, based on my own experiences with them and not on what others said.
It was around this time that I turned to drawing because, although flying also took me away from the pain of the real world, I wasn't free to fly as often as I'd like. Drawing, on the other hand, was always open to me. I'd lose myself in the stroke of a brush or a quill against a piece of parchment, passing by hours in which I'd forget about Mary's death, forget about the misery that accompanied it, forget about everything but my drawings. I didn't even mind the fact that I had no talent for drawing--usually, I dropped anything I wasn't good at like a hot potato--because of its therapeutic influence on me.
As much as I wanted to, I couldn't tell anyone about my drawings; if I did tell, then I'd lose the very reason that I'd started to draw in the first place: its seclusion. If I let in anyone from my family, I'd no longer be able to keep out all reminders of my pain, and drawing would no longer be the escape for me that I needed it to be.
I spent nearly a year mourning, feeling guilty every time I so much as smiled, but, by the time I was eight--still young enough to forget even the greatest of setbacks--time had healed this wound as much as it could. I'd always feel a slight ache in my heart whenever I thought about my childhood best friend, but I was able to think less and less about her. Still I drew, however, and still I kept this a secret from my family. They had by then become habits too strong to break.
Teddy, I think, knew about my drawing, though he never made any reference to it. Once, when he wanted me to help him with his flying--even then, I was a natural--and I lazily told him I didn't feel like getting my broomstick, which was all the way upstairs, he went upstairs to get it for me. He took an exceptionally long time getting that broomstick, much longer then the task required, so we didn't get in much time for practice. When we had finished flying and I went to my room to get in some drawing time, I found my pile under the wrong side of my bed. I remember feeling very suspicious at that point, but Teddy revealed nothing. My suspicion increased tenfold the next day when an owl which looked strikingly similar to Teddy's brought me a set of charcoals, but still he said nothing, so I moved on.
I was wary of trying out the charcoals at first because I had only ever used inked quills and watercolor paints. Charcoals, in comparison, seemed so formal and intimidating to me. But, once I taught myself to use them--a difficult feat given my tendency, in the beginning, to accidentally smudge everything I tried to draw--charcoals quickly became my favorite drawing instrument.
Drawing was not, however, my sole hobby. Later that year, after James left home to join Teddy at Hogwarts--which, I'll admit, caused me to have some prolonged tantrums and crying fits--I began to develop my skills as a Keeper. Daddy had once tried, with Uncle Charlie's help, to train me to be a Seeker instead of a Keeper, but it was no use. In some bizarre twist of fate, I'd inherited Uncle Ron's talent--which, oddly enough, neither Rose (who was terrified at the thought of flying) nor Hugo (who was much better suited to being a Chaser) inherited.
"Thank Merlin," Uncle Ron once said to me during one of our training sessions, "that I've got someone to carry out my legacy. Imagine if none of you kids could Keep and someone like McLaggen's brat--" here Uncle Ron habitually glanced to make sure Auntie Hermione wasn't anywhere nearby--"became the Gryffindor Keeper."
I beamed at him and said that I was proud to make him--my very favorite uncle--proud, or something equally as corny, and Uncle Ron's ears turned red as they were wont to do.
"And you know that you're my favorite niece. Have been ever since you were three years old and killed that giant, hairy spider--" and maybe my memory was already failing me, but I could've sworn it was the size of pea, and a small pea at that--"for me. Only," he added after a slight pause, "don't say that to any of your cousins. Your Aunt's always going on about how I'm not supposed to show favoritism."
"'Course I won't tell," I assured him, smiling even wider. I was never very comfortable being praised by those whom I didn't know, but I reveled in the admiration of my family. Anything that differentiated me from the mass of children was fine by me.
Perhaps I had such a strong need to stand out because I had just recently realized that my part-veela cousin, Céline Noelle Weasley, who was the same age as I, was about a thousand times more beautiful than I could ever hope to be. She had long, silvery blonde hair; beautiful, endearing blue eyes; creamy, flawless skin; and just about everything I lacked. And, for a while, I absolutely hated her for this fact. I'm pretty sure she, in return, hated me.
Her hatred was probably more justified than mine, to tell the truth, because I might've, er, "accidentally" knocked over her glass collection when she wouldn't stop annoying me. It was all put right again with a few Reparo's, but Mummy still made me apologize and Céline still glared at me. She knew that my apology was fake and that my accident wasn't really an accident.
Once Al and Rose went to Hogwarts, however, this enmity shifted. I no longer had an Albus to confide in or a Rose to satisfy my need for girl talk. Where the former was concerned, Hugo, already my best friend, filled in well enough--though I could never be as entirely open with him as I was with Albus--but he certainly couldn't help with the latter. For that, I had two options (everyone else was either already at Hogwarts or three years younger than me): Priscilla Pauline Weasley or Céline. Priscilla was always something of a priss, so I extended an olive branch to Céline.
We got along surprisingly well, considering how much we used to fight. Sure, it took a while for us to really warm up to each other, but once we did, we were practically inseparable. And once we were inseparable, it took little time for Céline to grow close to Hugo, making us a nice little camaraderie of three.
Céline was the one who picked out my kitten--my parents' present to me for my tenth birthday--an adorable, black-haired domestic short hair with a dangerous temper. She wanted to name him "Doux," and when I asked why, she grinned and said (imitating her mother's fading French accent), "Because, mon amie, 'e eez so sweet-tempered."
"I'm not naming my cat 'Doux,'" I said, laughing. "I need a name I can pronounce."
Hugo grinned. "Well, that rules out everything but 'Cat,' doesn't it?"
"Gee, thanks, Hugo. Good to know you have such confidence in me. How about…" I trailed off thoughtfully. "'Leo?'" Because I would know that I meant Leonardo, as in the famous painter Leonardo da Vinci, whereas Hugo and Céline would think I was referring to the literal meaning of "lion."
Hugo nodded and Céline shrugged. "Not too bad," she conceded. "Not as good as 'Doux,' of course, but it'll have to do."
Leo, as much as I loved him, proved to be a bit of a hassle. He was fine with me, Céline, Hugo, and my parents--all of whom he grew quickly used to--but, with anyone else, his aforementioned temper got the best of him. He was wont to hiss, growl, scratch, bite, etc., especially when some people--i.e. cousin Andrew, the evil spawn of nice Uncle Charlie--refused to leave him alone. I suppose he also didn't mind James or Al, or even Rose when she was over, but he never really liked them; there was a mutual avoidance between them.
"You realize that cat's going to flip out at school and attack everyone? And then they'll all hate us?" Céline once asked me after she had spent the day pretending to watch Hugo and I practice quidditch--though I happen to know for a fact that she was reading one of her corny romance books. She always told me that I'd love them if I just gave them a chance, but I disagreed; I hated reading. I had other, more useful ways to spend my time--and we three were lying in the grass. This had become a habit of ours during that autumn. Lying on the ground and watching the autumn sun set, I mean.
"Who cares if they hate us?" I asked, shrugging as best as I could given my exhaustion. Hugo, when he was trying, could throw apples so hard. I probably still have bruises.
"Oh, it's alright for you two, completely oblivious as you are to what other people think. But I happen to like being loved. In fact," she continued, "there's nothing that I enjoy more than it."
"Liar." Hugo rolled onto his side and poked Céline. "You wouldn't be hanging out with us losers unless you liked being a loser yourself. Besides, you're the nerd, not us."
"If by nerd you mean someone with any degree of competence whatsoever, then, yes, I'm the nerd," said Céline, poking Hugo back.
"Ha, she just admitted she's a nerd," Hugo said to me triumphantly, grinning.
"You realize you'll never live this down, don't you?" I didn't need to look at Céline to know she was rolling her eyes at our immaturity.
I loved moments like these, moments in which I felt as if nothing in the world could possibly be wrong, as if no evil could possibly exist. Perhaps that's why I remember this time leading up to my own entrance to Hogwarts so vividly. The crisp autumn air never seemed fresher, the winter's snow never seemed more beautiful, the spring flowers never smelled so lovely, and my own life never seemed so peaceful.
The holidays briefly interrupted this tranquil period as over a dozen of Weasley children returned to their families. James and Al came home looking so much older than I had remembered, and Al, in particular, looked more comfortable with himself than I had ever seem him looking. He and Rose seemed to have performed various acts of bravery and courage of the likes that I could only dream of, triumphing over villains such as Chase Zabini. Uncle Ron asked a few times about Scorpius Malfoy, but all Al or Rose would do, when he was mentioned, was frown.
"Rose doesn't like to talk about it," Al explained to me when we were alone, "because he's beating her in almost every class. He's never openly hostile or mean, but, well, you know Rose. She can't stand being second-best."
James had his own opinion on the subject. "He's a git, just like his father. All Malfoys are gits."
"Here, here, mate!" cousin Fred said, nodding. "Speaking of Malfoy, maybe we should try that new prank on him? Could be fun."
"James Sirius Potter, don't you even think about it!" Mummy exclaimed. "As if I need one more letter home telling me that my son has blown up an entire wing of the school." I let out a laugh at that--why hadn't my parents ever told me James did that?--and even Mummy's mouth twitched. "You're setting your sister a bad example, you know."
"Yeah, yeah, I know." James waved his hand impatiently, as if he could swipe away all of her arguments. "I'm really hungry, Mum. Do we have any cookies?"
Mummy frowned, clearly unsure of whether or not she wanted to let James change the subject, but she eventually shrugged and answered, "No, but we're going to visit Grandma later today, so you can have your cookies then."
I remember making the cookies later on with Grandma and eating all the leftover dough in the bowl. That dough tasted like heaven, for no one, after all, made better cookies than Grandma. I told her so, causing her to smile fondly at me and say, "You flatter me, dear."
The rest of the holidays prove to be a blur. I remember receiving a pretty silver necklace from Mummy and Daddy and the cookie recipe from Grandma along with her usual jumper and baked good, but not much else. I think I gave Céline a wizards' chess set and Hugo a box of Weasley Wizard Wheezes' invisibility gumdrops (good for an entire hour). In fact, I can't remember much of anything until the summer holidays, when Victoire graduated from Hogwarts.
I'd known that Victoire and Teddy were dating, and I'd whispered my hopes a few times to Céline that her sister would marry Teddy so that he could really be a member of our family, but I hadn't expected them to get engaged so fast. They planned to not marry until she was at least twenty-three--which was a random age, in my opinion. Why not twenty-two or twenty-four?--but still. Engaged.
I wondered if Rose would be jealous. She'd had something of a crush on Teddy when she was younger--she had always been close enough to him to see that he was nice, but never close enough to consider him a brother, as I did--and, although she'd never explicitly stated that her crush had ended, I had just assumed that it was over when she left for Hogwarts. I hoped that, if she wasn't over Teddy, she never had to see him with Victoire; bone only had to look at the two of them together to know that no one, no matter how wonderful, would ever take the other's place.
Céline, the first chance she got, interrogated me and Hugo about Teddy, whom she had never before had too much contact with, given the large age difference. What was he like? Was he nice? Did he ever get annoying? Would he ever hurt her sister? Questions like these flowed from Céline's lips, and I was sure, seeing how demanding she was at that moment, that I'd answer her questions all wrong, but she seemed pleased with what she gathered. "I'll have to see him before I can be sure," she told us when she had finished, "but I think I can like him."
I'm assuming she did like him, although she rarely mentioned him to me or Hugo. I think the idea that her sister was growing up and leaving her behind scared her a bit, and she felt that, if she ignored Teddy and his connection to her sister, then maybe Victoire would go back to being first and foremost her big sister. Out of respect for her feelings, I never mentioned Teddy, either, when he was an avoidable topic of discussion, and I made sure Hugo did the same--I doubted that he'd think to steer clear of Teddy on his own.
A picture Teddy and Victoire, as a couple, was my first attempt at drawing real people. I had become skilled enough at drawing flowers, fruits, trees, etc. that I felt it was worth a try, at least. The picture came out looking quite deformed, but, regardless, I was proud of my first attempt and vowed that, just as I had become more skilled at drawing inanimate objects, I would improve my drawings of people during my last free year before Hogwarts.
I broke the rules, after drawing this drawing, for the first time. I, remembering my suspicions that Teddy knew of my hobby, rashly sent the picture anonymously to Teddy. He, thankfully, never mentioned to me that he received the sketch, but I knew, somehow, that he did.
Alice Longbottom, the same age as James but a Hufflepuff, suddenly started to write to me after the winter holidays of this last year had ended. I'd known her my whole life, yet we'd never been close--she was a shy girl, preferring to spend her time exploring nature or taking care of magical creatures--so I was slightly suspicious as to why she was choosing now, of all times, to write to me. And not just to write to me, but to write to me frequently and about James (though, maybe this choice wasn't so illogical because, with James as the topic, I had little difficulty in writing back detailed responses).
"She wants to talk to you about your brother?" Hugo asked confusedly when I told him. "Wouldn't it be easier for her to just ask James her questions?" I shrugged, having no response, for I had been thinking the same thing. "Merlin, girls are so weird."
"I take offense at that," I said, smacking him lightly across the back of the head.
"Well, all girls but you, of course. And Céline," he added belatedly, as though she might be listening in (though she was, at the time, visiting her family in France).
I asked James about Alice when he returned home for the summer holidays, but he just turned red--though, strangely enough, he looked quite pleased--and became deaf to everything I said until I changed the subject. I had been planning on asking Al and Rose, too, but there was something in James' embarrassment that kept me from doing so. I think it was the fact that he obviously didn't want the family to know… well, that and the fact that I wanted James to explain things to me himself. This was the first time that I felt closed off from my big brother, my hero, and a part of me hated Alice for doing that. Maybe, I realized, this was why Céline had such trouble liking Teddy, even though she got along with him.
For the rest of the holidays and right up until I boarded the Hogwarts Express, I didn't mention Alice to James, nor did he mention her to me. My last few months as an uneducated--in the magical sense, at least--girl passed fairly quickly. I went shopping with Hugo and Céline for our school supplies, I read my acceptance letter over and over again, and I even read of a few of my school books--Céline had told me and Hugo that we'd look like idiots if we came to school without reading any of them; in fact, she said, the school would probably chuck us right back home until we "got serious about learning"--in my excitement.
The three of us were asked many times, over the course of that month, what house we'd like to be in. All of us said Gryffindor because, with a family like ours, there really was no other option. I mean, it was okay if someone ended up actually being sorted into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff--Teddy was in Hufflepuff and Victoire in Ravenclaw--but a Weasley (or Potter, in my case) was expected to want, at least, to end up in Gryffindor. There was an obsession in our family with the Lion House and its inherent bravery.
I know that most Weasleys usually felt fearful about not becoming a Gryffindor, but, honestly, I wasn't very worried. All of my family had survived whatever test was required during the Sorting--I couldn't think of anyone, really, that hadn't survived--and I was fairly confident in my courage and bravery. I certainly wasn't smart enough to be a Ravenclaw, good-natured enough to be a Hufflepuff (I might've, er, purposely left out a few memories that show my less-than-desirable side. But, with parents like mine, how could I not inherit a temper? I mean, really, it's not my fault), or ambitious enough to be a Slytherin. Gryffindor was all that was left to me.
Yet, although I would only ever confess this to Al--it was nice to know that, in the future, I'd always have Al nearby to talk to--a part of me (albeit a very small part) wanted to go to another House, namely Slytherin. Surely it couldn't be as bad as everyone claimed it was--Teddy's Gran, after all, was in that House--and I wanted to prove this for Mary's sake. If I was in Slytherin, then hopefully my family would see that maybe, just maybe, the rumors about Slytherin were ill-founded; maybe my family wouldn't continue to blindly accept all stereotypes about Slytherins. Al told me that was sweet of me--sweet enough to put me into Hufflepuff, even--but not to get my hopes up. I was destined to become a Gryffindor, he told me, just like most of our family before me. It was in my blood.
"And--I'm, er, sorry to tell you this, Lils--but you're the most Gryffindor-ish person I know." He was right, of course, but that didn't keep me from half-hoping.