A marine from my state died. It's a tragedy that the news won't stop playing; they interview a half a dozen people per a segment who all say that he was "so well liked" and "just an amazing person" and it irks me. He was supposed to marry this woman sometime this week, he died two weeks before the wedding. It's the saddest thing but I can't help but wonder if she just sits there crying because he's gone and then crying some more because all these mourners, the ferocious criers and loud lamenters, don't say anything about him that means anything really. All their words could apply to any person and it shows, totally and absolutely, that they didn't know him.
I think that's the most disrespectful thing you could ever do to the dead. And, apparently, so does my OC. This story was born from the tragic loss of this marine who, while I'm sure was incredibly brave, shouldn't be made a hero because he died young.
I'm sure he had flaws and no one will say them now out of some fear of sounding disrespectful but I think mourning a person who did not, because nobody that wonderful does, exist is even worse. Celebrate the person in all they are and were, don't leave out any parts.
Anyway, if you read all this props to you. This is Amelia Bellows, James II Potter's girlfriend.
Word count: 1550
"There's this thing people do where they glorify the dead. Rotten, nasty people become 'well liked by the entire community, a friend to us all'. Everyone's death is tragic, their life all of a sudden golden. The dull become 'the brightest student in the whole class' and the prospect-less suddenly 'had such a future in front of her' and always, every time, the constant refrain of 'what a shame, what a shame.'
"You all are here and you're likely thinking to yourself how nice he was. But that's not him at all. You don't know him. You're here for his death because you were never there during his life and you feel guilty. Or you were there and you disliked him and that makes you feel guiltier still. Why is pointing out the flaws of the dead such a crime? Because they can't fight back? Well neither can the living so frequently but I still hear gossip all the time.
"I suppose my point is that most if you, if you were honest with yourself, either didn't like him or didn't know him and that's not a bad thing. I hated the bloke myself. I hated almost every single thing about him.
"I hated the way he laughed too loudly and the way his feet stunk. I hated how his hands were too rough and his lips always a little chapped. I hated how he always felt like he had to be right and how he always was, too. His stubbornness, how much of a know-it-all he could be, how much he could slack off and still escape with better marks than me."
The audience looked around, uncomfortably squirming in their seats as she stood at the podium, dressed like a storm cloud and looking like lightening.
"Maybe you should just leave," she said to the open space and nobody moved. "Maybe you should just leave if the only word you could use to describe him is 'nice'. James Potter is a thousand things and nice is not on that list. He's selfish and can be cruel to just get a laugh. He gossips and used to be a womanizer. So if you think he's nice, please, out of this respect for the dead that you lot seem to value, get out."
A few people stood up, looked directly at her, and nodded once before going. "Thank you," she said softly, her eyes starting to shine. And they nodded once more, knowing that she was thanking them for him because just the act of sitting there and appearing to mourn would've made him angry.
She cleared her throat. "If you thought that he was nice, you probably managed to miss the whole picture. Huh, picture. Talking about him like he was a work of art, he'd love that." A few people dressed in black and seated in the front row chuckled.
"Because, while he wasn't nice, he was also incredibly intelligent. Like, out of this world, extraordinarily intelligent. Just don't tell him that because it'd go to his head and make that already-huge ego grow even larger, even though that hardly seems possible.
"If you thought he was nice, you probably didn't even begin to realize how passionate he was about Quidditch and how he had a knack for picking out the right presents for any person and any occasion. You probably didn't realize how quickly and effectively he could read people, gauging when they need a hug and how to best get under their skin or into their clothing, depending on their gender and how attractive they were. You probably, if you thought he was nice, didn't know that look he gets in his eyes when he's going to do something shocking and you probably didn't know that he has amazing handwriting for a bloke.
"You probably don't know that he's warmer than a human furnace and learned how to knit from his aunt because his mum wouldn't teach him. You probably don't know that he cleans up the common room every night so the house elves have less work. And you certainly don't know that James Potter is the type of boy who falls in love so quickly and thoroughly that you can turn around one day and realize you love him too."
"People do this thing where they glorify the dead. James Potter was the opposite of flawless and couldn't be considered a hero on any scale. But I love him and he loved me and I know that's all he'd actually want said right now. He wouldn't want to hear about how nice and generous he was, how he was an asset to our community and made everyone feel like family. He wouldn't want all that bullshit. He'd only want recognition for his successes and maybe to pass on a little light. He'd want you all to know that love is possible and life is brief and, silly as it sounds, it's better to dive into a pond than just to wade through slowly.
"So if you're not willing to walk up here and say 'James Potter is a complete and utter prat' than maybe you should leave because you've missed the point entirely. He could be awful and was insufferable to be around whenever he was right, and the fact that he's," her voice broke, a few tears starting to dot her cheeks, "dead, the fact that he's dead doesn't change that.
"People like to make heros from average people simply because they had the courage to die but dying doesn't take courage, living does. James Potter would've chosen life if he could've, I know it. Because he's a thousand things and brave is one of them. And with that life he would've continued being insufferable and awful and not at all nice, but he also would've smiled and it all would've been okay. Because that's what James Potter does, he makes things okay."
She impatiently wiped at her eyes, smiling a little and flushing pink, "wow, this is running really long. I'm sorry about that. I guess I'm just trying to say that James Potter wasn't the perfect man you all want to declare he was, he was flawed and his death didn't change that. But he was also incredible. But if you are blind to either side of him, maybe you shouldn't be here because you have no idea who James Potter really was."
She walked off the podium and into a mass of red. Freckled skin enveloped her as every Weasley and every Potter held on so tightly for fear of letting go of the last external reminder of their sibling, cousin, nephew, son. They held on to her because she somehow said everything they couldn't manage to say and in doing so told it to everyone they could never explain it to. They all hated James Potter, which is how they all loved him.
"Thank you," a low, masculine voice said in her ear. "I'm glad, at the least, he had love in his life. Doesn't make up for the fact that my son's dead at only seventeen, but he obviously learned what we taught him was most important, to love and do so frequently, and I thank you for helping him with that."
"No matter what," his weeping mother told her with a grateful smile, "and even without him, you're one of us. He'd have wanted that."
"Don't worry," Albus told her with a tight hug, "he probably loves the view from there. He gets to see you in your knickers now every morning!"
And she laughed because, yes, that was something he would've loved and she knew him well enough to not deny it.
That awkward moment when you're sitting in the café by your school crying over your laptop's keyboard because you too love James Potter.