Clarity.

KLAR-i-tee -noun

or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.

state or quality of being clear or transparent to the eye; pellucidity: the clarity of pure water.

I had... friends, but it always felt odd. Like I was missing my glasses, if I had needed them. Life was blurry. Muted. Devoid of any real meaning or purpose other than waking and sleeping. And then I saw her.

Her.

She'd been on a swing next to another girl, and she jumped off at the height of her forward motion. She'd just hovered there, suspended in midair for a long moment, and floated down to land gracefully on her feet. Her red hair flashed brilliantly in the setting sun. It was as if she didn't know how she was doing it, but was content to do it all the same.

I watched her for weeks, trying to work up the nerve to speak to her. She was captivating, even from a distance. And then I finally showed myself, approached them and explained the secret she'd known all along: she was special. She had a gift. She was magical, in every sense of the word. When she looked up at me in awe, I saw her eyes. They were a brilliant, blazing green.

When our eyes met, it was as if I had awoken for the first time. Colors and smells bloomed before me, assaulting my nascent senses. Lily Evans was, in a word, overwhelming. Our meeting did not go the way I had planned, but I was undaunted. I saw life through a new set of eyes, and it only became clearer as time went on. By the time we reached Hogwarts, I dreaded the sorting. I told her that I wanted her to be in Slytherin, where I had been destined to go since my birth had been arranged.

Of course, that infernal hat put her in Gryffindor.

I had been expecting this, and I knew what I had to do. What I must do, what I was born into this sad, cruel world to do. I had, after all, had my life planned out for over a decade and followed the plan faithfully. Even now, Lucius Malfoy was expecting me at the Slytherin table. He was a prefect; he would protect me now, just as my parents had protected me all my life. Despite the deep hatred they seemed to harbor towards me, they never starved me or beat me, never left me to the elements. They kept me safe.

As I walked up to the sorting hat, I felt the eyes of the 'friends' I'd been arranged to play with since birth. I felt the burden of my destiny weighing upon me. I felt that the sorting would define me; it was a Rubicon, past which I could only move inexorably towards the fate I chose.

The hat was placed on my head, and I knew what it would say. Knew what I, in turn, must tell it. You know, Mr. Hat, I thought to it clearly. If you don't sort me into Gryffindor, I am going to steal you and drop you in a cauldron of boiling acid. I'll laugh as you dissolve.

"Gryffindor!" the hat yelped quickly. The Slytherin table was conspicuously silent, but I didn't care. The Gryffindor table cheered as I walked purposefully towards them, but I paid them no attention. I took my seat next to Lily and met Lucius Malfoy's glare from across the great hall. He seemed to think that I would put my parents plan for my life above the captivating young witch sitting next to me. I had defied my parents that day. I had defied my destiny; I would have defied God himself if he tried to take Lily Evans from me.

Within that single act of defiance, I had found it. The unconscious, unspoken question I had been asking ceaselessly since I became self-aware. I had found my answer, and that answer had led me to revelation upon revelation, all exploding like muggle fireworks inside my adolescent head.

It was glorious and frightening, in equal parts.

I had found that I didn't want Lucius Malfoy's protection. I had found that I didn't want to be safe. I had found that I didn't care to be around Avery and Mulciber any longer. I had found that I didn't care what my parents had planned for my life. I had found that I didn't care about the purity of blood. I had found that a world that would not tolerate the existence of Lily Evans was a world that I could not, and would not, tolerate.

I had found my clarity that day, in the most unlikely of places. It wasn't in the proud green emblem of Slytherin House. It wasn't in the pale green pallor of a killing curse. It was in the piercing green eyes of Lily Evans.