A History of Magic
Disclaimer: All the characters, places, objects in this fanfic belong to JK Rowling. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Warning: Mention of underage drinking – although the drinking age is 17 in Wizarding Britain, Lily is still a couple of years short of that birthday.
Lily Potter carefully crossed the mess that littered the floor of her room. She reached into her untouched school books in her school trunk. While many of her clothes, shoes and Quidditch gear had made their way onto the floor, the books had stayed firmly closed in her trunk. She reached in, ignoring the broken quills, bits of spare parchment and grabbed the book she needed, still in its pristine condition, 'The Rise and Fall of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' out of her Hogwarts trunk and placed it on her desk as she looked out of the window.
She could see her brothers out the window playing three on three Quidditch with Rose, Hugo, Fred and Roxanne in the pitch that nearly filled their entire back garden. She briefly again cursed the fact that her mother had caught her sneaking into the Firewhisky for her own New Years celebrations and grounded her until her return to school. This meant that she was a prisoner in the house and had spent the last hour doing her homework with a hangover and not circling the small Quidditch pitch on her broom scoring goals against her cousins.
Life really was unfair at times.
It was not like she was hurting anyone by having the odd shot of Firewhisky. She had been curious more than anything else and there was nothing wrong with a bit of curiosity.
Her mother really needed to get a life and stop being such a hypocrite. She had overheard the conversation that her mum had been having with her uncle George about sneaking her out of the house and down to the pub in that wartime Christmas when her mum was sixteen. She was doing nothing wrong by drinking the odd glass of Firewhisky.
Grumpily she pulled parchment and a quill out as she watched Rose miss yet another open goal. Her cousin really did not know one end of a broomstick from another and should really stick to her role as Head Girl instead of playing Quidditch.
Maybe Rose should be writing the essay instead of her. After all, Rose excelled at essay writing and she did at scoring goals. It didn't seem fair that they were in the opposite positions.
Her attitude did not improve as James flew directly past her window with the Quaffle in his hands, deliberately trying to wind her up further. For someone who had left school, her brother was really immature. She sent back a two fingered salute, which she had no doubt would earn extra sanctions from her hypocrite of a mother if she had seen them, before picking up her quill.
Lily scribbled in her spider-like scrawl the title 'In your opinion how important was the role of the teenaged group Dumbledore's Army in the defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?' onto her parchment before angrily opening the book to the chapter on the Battle of Hogwarts.
History had to be the most boring subject, especially with Binns teaching it.
This had no impact on her life. It was hardly like it was a curse that she had to learn so she could hold her own in a duel.
What was in the past should be left there.
The grudging resentment about her mother's actions grew as she forced herself to read the chapter and not join in the match outside her window. Would it have really done that much harm to join them and copy Hugo's essay at breakfast on Monday? Not that her cousin had ever actually let her do that. She let out one more ill tempered sigh as she started to read.
The defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named took place in a final confrontation with Harry Potter at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on 2nd May 1998.
On one side of the battle was the army of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named that contained Death Eaters (see chapter three) and other supporters which included Dementors and Giants.
The other side of the battle was led by Harry Potter and contained members of the Order of the Phoenix (see chapter four), as well as a number of staff and students of Hogwarts with their respective families and friends. The majority of the Hogwarts students were barely 'of age' and there are a few notable examples of underage fighters who broke the law to join the battle. These students came principally from a group known as Dumbledore's Army (see chapter five).
There are believed to have been over a 150 fighters that took part in the battle between the hours of midnight and five o'clock in the morning. The youngest of these was Ginevra Weasley (who later married Harry Potter) at just 16 years and 264 days old.
Out of the estimated 150 fighters there are known to have been 53 casualties which included the deaths of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the notorious Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange, Hogwarts Headmaster Severus Snape, highly skilled Auror Nymphadora Tonks-Lupin, successful entrepreneur Fredrick Weasley and the youngest to die, Colin Creevey at 16 years and 329 days old. A full list of the casualties and their associations is shown in the table below.
The battle itself took place in two parts. The first in the hours between midnight and three o'clock in the morning, where the supporters of Harry Potter defended Hogwarts castle and the actual fighting took place in the school grounds. The supporters of He-Must-Not-Be-Named were the more successful in this fight and there were many casualties sustained by the supporters of Harry Potter who lost over half their original fighters (31 fatalities). Many modern day historians believe had it not been for the announcement by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named which halted the battle at 3 o'clock in the morning, that all the Potter supporters would have been killed given the ruthlessness of the battle and the inexperience of most of the fighters.
Little is known of the actions between the hours of three and four o'clock, except that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named called a halt to the battle in order to meet Harry Potter in the Hogwarts Forbidden Forest.
At around half past four in the morning it appeared that the forces of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had been successful as he emerged from the Forbidden Forest with members of the Order of the Phoenix forced to carry out a seemingly dead Harry Potter. This action inspired acts of bravery by the defenders of Hogwarts and led to the second part of the battle that took place in the Hogwarts Great Hall.
The unusual aspect of the second part of the battle was that none of the fighters on Potter's side died despite the frantic nature of the battle. However the second part of the battle caused the demise of He-Who-Must-Not-Named as he held a face to face confrontation with Harry Potter, dying as a result of his own rebounded Avada Kedavra curse at five o'clock in the morning.
Lily looked at the book again, reread what she had just read several times and let her quill drop to the parchment, her earlier arguments and feelings lost in a sense of amazement. She could hardly believe what it said. It was saying what sixteen year olds were doing instead of worrying about essays, trying to sneak Firewhisky or arguing with their parents. They were dying in battles against Voldemort.
And these weren't just any people, they were her parents, her aunts, uncles and their friends. She knew them, they came around to the house often, had barbecues, argued over Quidditch, talked about the news or the Weird Sisters reunion tour.
They were ordinary people, they were just her family, not heroes.
She continued to stare at the book, before a whooping noise from the Quidditch pitch outside her window drew her out of her thoughts. She glanced upwards to see Fred circling the goalpost at one end screaming, before returning to the history textbook.
None of her earlier problems mattered now, not after what she had just read.
Naturally her parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents had all told them details of the final battle with Voldemort. Her mum often spoke about her uncle Fred who had given her cousin his name, saying once that her dad had wanted to call James, Fred. While her dad was happy to talk for hours about Teddy's parents as well as all of their namesakes: his parents, Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape and, naturally, Luna Lovegood, the strange friend of both her parents, whose visits always caused great amusement. But this was different from hearing the stories that her family had told her or even just watching as heads turned at her parents walking down a street.
Maybe she hadn't really understood fully the importance of the stories she had listened to, or her parents had very much downplayed their roles but it was different seeing it here in print. Those stories were real and not made up for exciting bedtime enjoyment around the fire.
Then there was the matter of their ages. She had always imaged her parents as old when they fought in the battle of Hogwarts but it clearly stated that her mum was just 16. She herself would be 16 in two more months and she did not, despite being a Gryffindor, feel remotely brave enough, let alone have enough ability, to fight in a battle and make it out the other side.
Slowly she picked up her quill and stared down at the essay title: 'In your opinion how important was the role of the teenaged group Dumbledore's Army in the defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?'
Her mind was buzzing with questions but she could not think of one word to use that would start her essay.
Why had her mum broken the law to fight?
Had her dad really killed Voldemort?
How had the battle felt?
How could they do this when they were younger than Al?
Then there was the fact she was not sure she could even write this essay now.
She looked at the page again. History was supposed to have happened a long time ago; it was not supposed to have a direct impact on your own life and family.
Grabbing her book, she headed out of the room and down the stairs. She wanted answers and her mind would not stop buzzing until she got them and there was one very easy way to get answers.
She stopped slightly warily at the door to her mother's study. This wouldn't have been an easy conversation to have even if she was not fighting with her mum. Summoning all her bravery she knocked on the door and pushed it open.
Her mother's small study was filled with photographs and other memories. There were plenty of pictures of herself, Albus and James but many more of her mum's brothers and her dad. Then there were clippings of her mum's Quidditch career, an old Holyhead Harpies shirt with Weasley on the back, next to an old England shirt that had Potter printed on it, and the odd award, that her mother would not allow in the rest of the family home. The room itself was filled with two large overflowing bookcases, a sofa, an oak desk right in the centre that was littered with parchment, quills, files and even more photographs and keepsakes.
This was very much her mum's domain and a room that hardly anyone entered. As well as her mother claiming that this room was her sanctuary for writing so she did not bring work into the rest of the house, all the Potter children knew that the room was so much more. The room was a place for her mother's memories of school and the Quidditch career she barely spoke of. It was similar to the history textbook in a way, it was full of things that were hidden, washed over and downplayed in stories.
Her mother sat on the other side the large oak desk. She was studying the reports of yesterday's matches and resting in her hand was the large eagle-feather quill that James had bought her for Christmas and there was a sheet of parchment filled with scribbles hanging off the tables. She was completely engrossed in her work.
"Mum," Lily spoke in a tentative voice.
Ginny Potter did not look up from the clipping that she was studying on the New Years Day Quidditch matches, "If this is to ask where your broom is hidden, I thought I made it painfully clear before that being grounded means no Quidditch practice. And with your OWLs coming up you should devote the time to doing some homework."
"Well," her voice was stronger, "that's just it. I need your help on something."
Her mother's brown eyes met her own in an appraising fashion but the tone of her voice had changed. "You really shouldn't have left it this late. What if I can't help you and then you have less than 24 hours to find someone else."
"You can help, Mum." Lily pushed on. "It's for History of Magic."
Ginny looked curious as she studied her daughter's face. "That was not my best subject, nor your father's." She smiled softly. "Not enough practical lessons. Maybe you should floo your aunt Hermione when she gets in from work tonight."
"But it's about you--well Dumbledore's Army and the Battle of Hogwarts." She spoke quickly so she did not lose her courage, glancing at the old Galleon that was in a picture frame next to an old photo of the whole Weasley family taken in the early 1990s. "And the textbooks make it sound so different to how you and Dad talk about the battle."
Ginny placed her papers down firmly and gestured to her daughter to sit down. "Textbooks always have an agenda; they always want to push a side, not always getting the facts right." She waited for her daughter to sit down opposite her on the other side of the oak desk. "What do you want to know?"
"It says that you were the youngest out there," Lily tried to study and read her mum's face for any sign of emotion but it was blank. "It says that you were sixteen, that you were underage."
"I was not supposed to be out there." Ginny smiled. "Your grandmother wasn't too happy when she saw me. She said I was too young, which I was, but like someone else in this room, despite what everyone said, I found a way to sneak around the rules."
"Weren't you scared?" Lily asked quickly. "I'd be scared."
"Terrified." Ginny's face had whitened. "Curses were flying everywhere, people were dying and you did not know that was going to happen from second to second." Her mother's voice shook in a fashion that she had never heard before. "But there was a reason why we were out there, not least we were not going to let Voldemort kill your Dad."
She paused, adding weigh to her words. "In those situations you find a strength you don't know you have. You react on instinct and the battle itself was much easier than the days that followed."
"I don't understand?"
"Well, in the days after, I got to thinking of your uncle Fred and how he was never coming back. Then when I closed my eyes I would see not only the scene of the battle but Hagrid carrying your dad out of the Forbidden Forest as Voldemort shouted that he was dead."
She paused again but this time it was not because she wanted to emphasize her words but because she was struggling to continue with the story and Lily was positive that she could see tears glistening in her mother's brown eyes. "All I could think about was why the killing curse missed me by an inch and didn't hit me. I wondered why, when Fred and so many of my friends had died, I'd survived by an inch."
Both pairs of brown eyes met. There was no doubt about it; specks of amber were glistening against the brown in her mother's eyes. "That's when the bravery comes in."
"If you had to, would you fight again, knowing what you do now?"
Ginny smiled. "Every time."
Lily paused. "I'm not sure I could. I can't see myself being able to fight in two months time."
Her mother got out of her chair and made her way over to her. She swept her into a hug that she held onto for a long minute kissing her on her forehead. It was a hug that was strong and protective and, despite the fact Lily could have easily broken her mother's hold as she had done so many times before, she didn't. There was something very comforting about being in her mother's arms, not least was the knowledge that she was not going back to school to fight for her life.
It was only when Lily looked up into her mother's eyes that Ginny spoke.
"You'd find the courage if you had to." Ginny smiled. "But luckily for both you and me, you're growing up in a very different time because I don't think I would be happy about my soon to be 16 year old daughter fighting either."
Silence fell in the room again, neither willing to break it as they thought over the words. It was enough just to be there and they would have time to talk later.
Lily mulled over her mother's words. She wasn't sure that her mother was right about the confidence she was showing. She knew given the same circumstances that she would want to fight but she wasn't sure that she'd be able.
She smiled softly to herself as she imaged her mother and grandmother arguing about whether she should fight. Then she pictured herself in the same position. It was not hard to see why her mum had taken those actions, and her mum was right, she'd have found the courage.
Everyone always said that she was just like her mum, to the extent that she groaned at their words and dismissed them. She knew that they looked alike, the images in the old photographs showed the likeness so well. But their personalities, despite the comments that were made, she had always viewed as different. Looking at things now she wasn't so sure that she could scoff the comments that she was her mother's daughter away.
Maybe, just maybe, they were more alike than she had ever thought before.
"Mum," Lily finally said.
She was not sure why she was saying these words, maybe some part of her still wanted to escape the house but another much larger part of her wanted to return to a world that did not contain battles or wars. She wanted to escape writing an essay that she was still not sure that she could write and forget the textbook that brought all this up. "After all this, doesn't it make grounding someone seem pointless?"
Ginny smiled. "Go upstairs, do your homework and stay out of trouble or I may decide that your Easter holidays belong to me as well."