His parents considered him a miracle

His mother had been caught in crossfire during the First War and told that she could never have children, something that had devastated the Corners, but that they had worked through eventually, adopting a daughter, Margaret, who had been orphaned in the same war. When Elaine found out she was pregnant, it was both wonderful and terrifying, and when Michael was born – after months of bed rest at St. Mungos, a few weeks premature, and by emergency c-section – they named him after an angel, because they could consider him nothing less.

He manifested magic at a very early age

His parents aren't exactly sure when it first happened, but they had been worried for almost a week why Michael never seemed hungry at the times he was supposed to. Then his mother spotted the bottle re-filling itself with milk, and a few days later, his father saw the blankets adjust themselves to keep his six month-old son warm as he rolled over in the crib. Perhaps this should have alerted them that they had an exceptional magical talent on their hands, but they were too busy finding it overwhelmingly adorable. This would not be the last time something Michael did was lost in how cute he was, but he was too young for it to bother him yet.

He liked the X-Men

He found a discarded X-Men comic at the train station on his way to Hogwarts for the first time and stashed it under his robes until he was safely on board. It didn't make a lot of sense, but he thought the Muggle take on magical powers was fascinating, and the pictures were unlike anything he'd ever seen before. He couldn't ask his parents to let him buy them, but Kevin Entwhistle was Muggle-Born, and they quickly came to an arrangement, even if Kevin insisted that it was "treason" because he was "DC."

He hated not being taken seriously

Sometimes it was because he was an athlete, something that was rather sneered at in Ravenclaw. Sometimes it was because he was young. But most of the time – really, almost all of the time – it was because of his looks. Michael had been a pretty child, almost girlish-looking, but by the time he was a young teenager, he was breathtaking. He knew this, at least academically, could see the ratios and proportions and symmetry in the mirror, but he never understood why it made people treat him so differently. Any accomplishment was dismissed as having been handed to him, any obstacle brushed aside as inconsequential after such genetic luck. By the time he was fourteen, it really felt like only Terry still treated him as though he were completely a human being.

He always wanted a brother

Margaret was almost seven years older than he was, and they were never close. Part of that was simply the gaps of age and gender, but as he grew older, he realized that even more of it was her resentment of him. When Michael had come along, she'd become the back-up plan that was no longer needed as they poured out adoration on their son, and he always felt vaguely guilty for it, even though there was nothing he could do. He used to imagine that he had a brother, someone near his own age, whom he could play with and who would make everything a little more normal, who wouldn't fuss over him but wouldn't be coolly distant either. His parents never had more children, but when he was eleven, he wound up finding that brother nonetheless, and it was everything he had ever hoped it would be.

He was scared witless of clowns

On the way to St. Mungo's for a check-up when he was six, he and his father had found themselves sitting across from a clown on the underground. Michael had never seen anything like this loud, painted, overwhelming creature, and it scared him out of his head. When the thing honked at him and offered him a balloon dog, he started screaming and latched onto his father so hard that the Healers thought the two had come in to have a Sticking Charm undone. He found out later what they were supposed to be, but that changed nothing. They were effing terrifying.

He wanted to be a Healer

His parents were both medical specialists – his mother in Communicable Magical Diseases, his father in Cryptogenetics – and he had always been assumed to follow their footsteps, something he'd never questioned. It was when his cousin dislocated her elbow and he saw how much difference a really kind and attentive Healer could make that he decided he wanted to go into practice rather than research. They didn't argue him, just smiled and patted his head and said it was adorable, but he would realize he was smarter than fixing wand scorches and pouring Skele-Gro once he actually got older. He wished they'd argued him.

His family were fervent Separatists

They both believed strongly in the complete division of wizard and Muggle worlds, not as superior/inferior, but simply incompatible and even quite toxic to one another. As a boy, Michael just believed it blindly, but as he grew up, he agreed with greater understanding, though he wasn't quite sure if it should be taken as far as they did, to things like having Muggle-Born magical children removed from their families. On the one hand, there were stories like Harry's that seemed to support that, or the way Lynn had talked about the 'therapies' and drugs she'd been put through, but then there were those like Kevin and Hermione and the Creevey brothers that made him not so sure. What he was sure of, and where he did agree wholeheartedly with his parents, was that exterminating or ruling over them was beyond wrong.

He could have been a writer

He never actually wrote anything beyond essays and such for school, but he loved to read for pleasure beyond his academics, and he often found his mind wandering in fictional directions. A snippet of overheard conversation, a fascinating tidbit in History of Magic, even something provocatively odd spotted on his way to class, and he'd catch himself daydreaming possibilities over it. He knew he had a way with words, could turn a good phrase, and that people loved the way he related real stories, but even though Terry pushed him to try, he never quite got around to it. Besides, the humanities were a soft option.

He was sometimes afraid of Terry's mind

There was a darkness there, a voice that whispered around the corners of his thoughts all too often and said cruel things, and sometimes, it echoed in Michael's nightmares. Oh, it wasn't as if Terry were truly hearing voices – that the voice was still his was perhaps more disturbing – and it never spoke out against anyone else. It just talked to his friend about himself, saying hopeless, hurtful things and bringing memories of loneliness and isolation and a life colder and more empty than anything Michael had ever wanted to imagine, much less see, much less see in someone he loved. He never said anything, but from their first successful Legilimency sessions, he made it his mission to silence that voice.

He couldn't understand why people insisted on 'ranking' his friendship

Sometimes it was saying that Terry was only his friend because he was popular, and he was willing to pal around with a pretty-boy jock who wasn't nearly his intellectual equal (rumor had it he could barely count!) for the points with witches and the social attention. Sometimes it was that Michael was only Terry's friend because he was such a nice guy that he took pity on the poor kid who didn't have any friends and drew him out of his bookish little shell. Either way, any way, it was always the assumption that Terry was the brains and Michael the heart of the duo. Never was it assumed they were equals, wholly and completely, that they could match each other fact for fact and spell for spell in intelligence, and that Terry was the missing piece of Michael's life just as much as the other way around. Trying to say that one was friends with the other was like trying to say that one syllable of a spell mattered more.

He had a true gift for languages

They just happened, with very little real effort. By the end of a two-week holiday in Calais, he was chatting casually with the other children in perfect – if childish – French, and he picked up Latin and Greek by the time he was ten. German was a greater challenge, but only because he didn't know anyone who spoke it and didn't find the texts very interesting, and he had planned on adding Spanish or Italian during his seventh year in preparation for a gap-year tour with Terry, but things were a little busier than he had expected, and he didn't worry about it all that much. Having to point to things on a menu for a few days or weeks lost all of its power to embarrass when put into perspective against the Carrows, and it mattered a lot more that between his talent for finding the right word and Terry's ironclad grasp of grammar, they could work out a spell for pretty nearly anything.

He had a reckless streak that terrified his parents

Ironically, it was because he was so cosseted as a child, but he was spontaneous almost to a fault, something that was thankfully balanced by Terry's more considered reserve. His parents couldn't even watch him play Quidditch, he flew so madly, and even Terry sometimes suggested that he should probably look more often before he leapt into things, but prior to December of '96, he just laughed and said that magic could heal almost anything, which was funny, because he'd never so much as sprained an ankle in his life.

His father's murder nearly destroyed him

Eventually, they discovered it had been Dolohov trying to force him to publish a paper declaring that Muggles were genetically inferior and barely separated from animals, that it had degenerated into a duel, and that he'd been thrown against the wall and broken his neck, but the investigation was almost as hard on the Corner family as the shocking, unbelievable loss itself. Michael had never imagined such pain, and to have it compounded by the questions if his father had been having an affair, if he'd been using illegal potions, gambling, involved in the Dark Arts…after three days of the nightmare he'd been pulled out of school for, he found himself sitting in his room, sobbing so hard that he'd made himself sick and honestly contemplating just sticking his wand against his head and ending it. His life had been so sheltered, so easy until then that the pain was more than he could comprehend, much less bear, and when Terry had not only heard his agony, but Apparated – without a license and knowing how much trouble he'd be in for that – all the way across the country to take his wand and hold him and listen and be there for the next several, awful days, he knew that even if the world was so much darker than he'd ever known, there were some parts of it that could shock just as potently with good. Even if he was never the same.

He was terrible at maths

Michael Corner and mathematics parted ways irreparably at algebra, at the point where the already-difficult numbers were replaced with letters that didn't spell anything at all. He made it through Arithmancy by the skin of his teeth and a lot of questionably ethical reliance on his best friend's help, but he didn't think that it should even matter. Why fuss over it so much when there were Calculating Charms that would do it all automatically…and when human brains were actually needed for things that required creating or deducing an answer, not regurgitating one.

He fell hard for Padma

She was just sitting in the common room, shoes off, feet up on the couch, tip of her quill in her mouth as she worked over a Muggle Studies essay, but the way the firelight made her skin glow, the single strand of ebony hair that hung over her dark eyes, the tip of her tongue skimming over her lips…he felt like he'd been slammed across the room with the strongest Impedimenta curse, and it was enough that Terry actually dropped his book and yanked him into the dorm. But she hated him for Cho and thought he was nothing but a shallow pin-up, and he was trapped in another relationship, and it wasn't until halfway through seventh year that he even got her to notice he was flirting. It wasn't until they were in the Room of Requirement that she began flirting back, and it wasn't until he didn't know that he had eight minutes to live that he actually got anywhere. It was mad and terrified and a maelstrom of hormones and adrenaline and desperation, but the feel of her, the taste of her at last was everything he had ever imagined and more.

He loved spicy food

The hotter the better, and if it made him turn colors, weep at the table, and lose all sensation in his lips for two hours or so, it was just about right. This was something that Terry not only didn't understand, but considered a possible sign of mental illness, but something that they had come to terms with relatively quickly. After Terry forgave him for the Firebrand Fudge, that is…they sorted it out, but Michael always maintained that it was, in fact, a perfectly acceptable and commercially available treat, against the accusations that it was a sadistic punishment devised by parents who wanted to put their children off sweets for life.

He was terrible with names

He could usually manage the general vicinity of the right name, but unless he'd known someone for a long time, there was little hope beyond luck of recalling if it was Tom, Tim, or Todd; Emily, Emmeline, or Amelia. Terry – after being interchanged with Tony for the first few weeks of their friendship – suggested the use of mnemonics, and it was eventually not only a success, but a running joke between them. They would go to great lengths to see who could make the most bizarre, convoluted, obscure, and overall brilliant reference to any given name. Sometimes, when they broke down in giggles over the Legilimental exchanges, they were compelled to share these, but usually the responses were just blank stares or some version of "you two are mental." Which made them laugh all the harder, because they knew they were. It was what made them friends.

He hoped to be disfigured in the final battle

The idea that it would go beyond an hour at most without intervention was unthinkable, and Michael knew that, barring some random accident, he could easily survive an hour, but he still secretly hoped he'd be mutilated somehow. Although there was a part of him that cringed in shame from it as an act of deceit, he knew he hadn't ruled out doing it himself in all of the confusion of battle, if it looked like he was going to get away unscathed. This was something he hid even from Terry, because he knew it would be taken the wrong way, but it wasn't anything self-destructive or some desire for glory. Quite the opposite. He just wanted enough damage to his face that he could be normal.

He and Terry were buried together

Neither the Corners nor the Boots were allowed to view the bodies, and after hearing how their sons had died, they didn't argue it. Professor Flitwick and Neville had both already made positive identifications, and they agreed to accept the option of cremation, being given the ashes and keeping intact the memories of the young men they had loved rather than the wreckage that had fallen onto the battleground of their school. What to do next was the problem, but in the end, a simple solution was found. The ashes were mixed, then halved, and at opposite ends of the country, identical gravestones rested at two family plots in commemoration of the brothers who had shared all but blood.

Tiresius Wolfric Boot

9 December, 1979 – 2 May, 1998

Michael Julius Corner

16 February, 1980 – 2 May, 1998

Below, they had originally intended to inscribe the text they were told the boys themselves had chosen for a tattoo, but when the stones were cut, something else appeared inexplicably and indelibly of its own accord: