Lily, her arm still in a sling but her voice getting stronger (though it seemed to have taken on a permanently raspy, lower tone), was finally healthy enough to leave St. Mungo's four days later. She had missed the end of her last year at Hogwarts, much to her chagrin. But she had the promise of an end-of-the-year party at the Burrow that Saturday (at Gran's insistence), to which many of her fellow Gryffindors were invited—as well as a certain Ravenclaw.
After an endless battery of examinations and poking and prodding from the Healers, Lily and her parents arrived home safely. Dad helped Lily up the stairs to her bedroom, where she immediately moved to sit cross-legged on her own bed, sighing in relief as she stretched her good arm. Her faded, fraying patchwork quilt, a project that she and Gran had worked on together when she was six or so, still covered the bed.
Everything in the little yellow room was exactly as Lily had left it in August, which felt like a thousand years ago. It even smelled exactly the same. Her school trunk stood on its end near the doorway; she had to remember to thank Alice for packing it up.
A small, stuffed snowy owl named Ben, Lily's best friend all throughout childhood, sat on the pillow beside her, and Lily pulled the toy into a tight, one-armed squeeze, burying her nose against his worn, fuzzy head.
As she did so, Lily's fingers brushed the scar on her throat. She had seen it for herself for the first time only three days ago and it had been quite a shock. She had avoided looking too long in the bathroom mirror at the hospital for the rest of her stay, for she was very startled and rather upset. The wound was jagged, ugly, and made a very prominent line that would always show, no matter what kind of robes—or even Muggle clothing—she wore. It traced from just below her left ear all the way across her throat, down her right collarbone, and though Lily had only glimpsed her arm while her bandages were being changed, she could see that the scars and healing wounds covered a great deal of her upper arm, shoulder, and even over to her shoulder blade.
Lily had laughed with her uncles about their club, but…she rubbed two fingers of her left hand against the raised mark across her throat, staring into space.
"Calliope's at Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron's, by the way," Dad said. "Hugo said he'd take care of her until Saturday." He turned around, watching her. Lily glanced up, coming out of her reverie, and smiled. Dad narrowed his eyes for a moment, watching her. Then he sat down beside her, his back to her headboard. Lily leaned against his chest and sighed.
"You know," Dad said after a minute, gently putting his arms around her so that he didn't hurt her shoulder, "I got lucky."
"Lucky?" Lily rasped, and she cleared her throat, wincing involuntarily.
Dad nodded. "My scar—the one everyone sees, that is—I've had it for longer than I can remember," he said, touching a hand to his forehead. "It's the only way people have ever known me. I never had to get used to having it be out there, in plain sight, because it's always been a part of me."
"What?" asked Lily.
Dad sighed. "Scars are like…little pieces of experience. Sometimes, we have to trade in a part of ourselves in order to become bigger than what we were." He flexed his right hand in front of Lily's face, and she reached out her finger to gently trace the thin white lines that spelled I must not tell lies. "And sometimes, trading in that piece means we have to be brave, and show what we've learned despite our own fears."
Lily sat up and faced him, tears in her eyes. Dad put out one hand and stroked Lily's hair. His fingers touched part of the scar below her jaw, and she blinked, her tears spilling over.
"You can be brave, sweetheart," he said. "I know you can. Do you know how I know?"
Lily wiped her cheeks. "Because I'm your daughter," she said, her voice barely audible with emotion.
Dad smiled, but shook his head. "I've got nothing to do with it, Pixie. I know you're brave all on your own, because I saw you face a charging graphorn without a single ounce of fear on your face," he said. "And I watched you go through something that I still struggle with thirty years later."
Lily shook her head. "That's different—"
"I'm not talking about what happened afterward," Dad told her gently. Lily frowned, confused. "The Triwizard Tournament—that one year at school, forget everything that came after—it changed everything about me, Lily," he said. "It was one of the hardest experiences of my life. You've faced something that most wizards would never even dream of being able to do. That's how I know you can be brave."
Lily took a deep breath and nodded, putting her hand to her throat. "Okay," she said. "Okay."
Dad stood up and kissed the top of her head. Then he straightened, looking thoughtful. "Well, and you're your mum's daughter. I'll give you that."
Lily laughed reluctantly as Mum pushed the door open, carrying a bag of her things from the hospital. "How's it going?" she asked gently, setting down the bag and coming over to kiss the top of Lily's head.
"I'm fine," Lily told her, smiling a bit.
Mum nodded knowingly and patted her hair. "Well, I've got something for you, Pix," she said. Lily frowned as Mum pulled an envelope from her pocket. "This arrived for you this morning."
Lily took the envelope and pulled it open with her good hand, still frowning. The note was very brief, written in violet ink with a very familiar neat hand.
Dear Miss Potter,
I was terribly sorry to hear of your oak wand's destruction; I know that a wand is not an easy thing to lose. Your mother sent me the pieces, and I am sorry to say that it was beyond magical repair.
Lily's heart clenched. Seeing the pieces of her wand, shattered and broken, she had known that it was probably going to be impossible to fix, but it hurt to have the fact written out before her eyes in Mr. Ollivander's neat script.
Your mother also mentioned that you are still interested in applying for a job in our shop; it would be my pleasure to grant you an interview, whenever you are feeling well enough. However, I do require that all my employees have wands. After all, you can imagine the position I would be in if, as a wandmaker, my employees did not carry my wands. I was examining my stores and found this piece quite by accident. It is ten and a quarter inches, made of vine with a phoenix feather core. Though it is quite different from your old wand, it seemed to have a certain harmony with the pieces I held in my hand (which I have also included in the parcel). I have reason to believe that this new wand will suit you nicely. Do come by the store when you're up to it—we can arrange your interview, and I should like to know if the wand is a match; I could be very woefully wrong. I wish you a speedy recovery and the best of luck.
Garrick Ollivander II
Since 382 BC
Lily gaped at the note.
"This came with it," Dad told her, and he turned to Lily's desk, picking up a wrapped package. He pulled off the brown paper for her, revealing a faded purple box, which he held out to Lily.
Mum beamed as Lily took the box. Carefully, she lifted the lid. There was a tiny drawstring bag, which Lily picked up. She could feel the pieces of her oak wand inside, and set the bag on her end table, looking at it rather sadly before turning back to the box. On a small pad of gray silk sat a pale, polished wand with a dark handle. Lily looked up at her parents. "Should I—?"
"Try it out," Dad told her. Mum, who had started unpacking Lily's case at the foot of her bed, nodded.
Nervously, Lily reached out for the handle. The second the wand touched her fingers, her body tingled, spreading from her neck, down her back, and all through her arms. She gave the wand a tentative flick, and a bright blue ribbon spiraled from the end, evaporating into mist before her eyes. Lily smiled.
"It's wonderful," she said softly.
"What's it made of?" Mum asked, coming over to pick up the note from Mr. Ollivander.
Lily stole a look at her father. "Vine. Vine and—and phoenix feather," she said. Dad's face went blank for a moment before a smile spread across his face. He winked at Lily, and she grinned.
"It's beautiful," said Mum, leaning over to kiss Lily's hair. She took the box from Lily's lap and laid it on the bedside table, and Lily placed the wand in it.
Then she noticed a carved wooden picture frame sitting on the table as well. "What's that?" Lily asked, reaching for it.
"Oh—Granddad developed this for you." Mum picked up the frame and handed it to her. Dad smiled.
It was the photo they had all taken in Lily's hospital room. Everyone was gathered close around her, laughing and waving furiously at the camera. Something about seeing all of their smiling faces made Lily's chin tremble. Her throat ached sharply as tears filled her eyes.
Mum gently stroked her hair, sitting down beside her. "It's a great picture," she said quietly, tilting her head against Lily's shoulder. Lily nodded quickly, as Mum kissed her cheek. She raised her wand and flicked it. Out of the suitcase came the blanket Gran had made, and it landed in Lily's lap.
"Let's let you get some rest, hm?" Mum asked quietly. Lily looked up at her, wiping tears from her cheeks with her free hand. "James and Al will be here for dinner soon," Mum told her. "I'll come and wake you."
"Thanks," Lily said, her throat aching—not from her injury, for once. "I love you," she told them, looking between her parents.
"Us too, Pix," Dad said, taking the photo to place on Lily's nightstand. "Get some sleep."
Lily laid back and smiled as her parents left the room, tugging her blanket about her. Feeling rather tired, she turned onto her uninjured left side so she could still see the photograph and her wand in its violet box. A phoenix feather core—Lily could have exploded with happiness. As a little girl, she had adored her father's wand, and had ached for a phoenix wand of her own when she turned eleven. Well, it had been a long time coming, but…there it was.
She thought about this past year; so many things had changed. She had been through what felt like a lifetime. Unbidden, one of her panic-stricken thoughts from the third task swirled to the surface of her mind. I am Lily Luna Potter, she told herself. I can survive anything.
Lily adjusted herself into a more comfortable position, her eyelids growing heavy as she looked at the picture in its frame. Twenty-four cramped, smiling faces beamed at her. Was it really such a bad thing to feel overshadowed from time to time? Especially when the people who overshadowed you were the greatest people you had ever known?
Lily smiled to herself, gazing at her picture. Behind her photographic self, Aunt Fleur was kissing the top of her head as Uncle Bill and Uncle Charlie grinned. Teddy had his arms about Victoire, both of them beaming. Dom, Rose, Louis, James, Fred, and Al all stood in a row to Lily's left, making faces and bumping into each other. Aunt Audrey and Uncle Percy sat before them, waving and laughing. Gran was seated by the bed on her right, clutching Lily's hand on one side and Granddad's on the other, and behind them were Mum, Dad, Uncle Ron, Uncle George, Aunt Hermione, Aunt Angelina, and Molly, who had her arm around Lucy as both of them leaned close to Gran.
And, in the very, very center of all this chaotic affection and happiness, Lily could just make out her own face, nestled tightly between Roxy and Hugo, who were both hugging her tightly, lying on the bed on her either side. Suddenly, like an electric shock, realization struck.
Lily touched one hand to the scar on her throat, feeling her tears spill over. She fit perfectly.
That's it, everybody. Thanks for the memories :) And for coming along on the ride. I may randomly decide to post a follow-up to this...don't know, I've had a few requests, but we'll see! :) Love you all! Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading!