They all have scars, little ones and big ones, faded and gaping, forgotten and foremost in mind, and most of all, they all bear the sort of scars no one else can see.
When it comes down to it, Luna thinks she decided to get it because of the unicorn. That's the first time Luna hated Voldemort, when she found out he had killed that unicorn the year before she started Hogwarts."You must never hurt a unicorn," Mummy had told her once, "their hearts are too pure." She fought for that unicorn, and this, this is her proof.
"Like a reverse dark mark then?" Ginny asks as she views it.
It's not very big, sitting on the pad of her index finger. But neither, Luna muses, is Ginny, and that's never made a spot of difference with her.
"A little lion to remember," Luna agrees. And Ginny, after a moment of critical examination, frowns,
"It's not about being a Gryffindor you know," Luna exhales with a dreamy laugh in response, saying brightly,
"Of course it is; it's where the brave dwell at heart. And the heart's the thing that matters after all." (Was it worth it sweetheart?-Of course Daddy, humans are unicorns too.)
Still, when Ginny gets hers it doesn't look a thing like her house crest. Daring yellow, fiery orange and piercing green, mourning violet and vibrant aquamarine, screaming red and crying rose, strong mulberry, proud gold, and blue for remembrance, every color the tattoo parlor has, a beaming lion's head made of swirling lines and dancing stars. It's abstract and beautiful, encompassing her left shoulder; a better badge than the scars that line her arms or the slash that mars her soul.
"I badge I get to choose," she says (and choice is what it means to her, what matters to her, has mattered to her since she was eleven years old (I'm sorry to hear that dear Ginevra, are you alright?)), flaunting it like she does her scars, her victory (fuck off Tom), with spunk and guts and low backed shirts that make her mother scowl and Harry grin.
Harry gets his on his left arm, tail wrapped around his bicep, its body curling down with the head resting past the crook of his elbow, roaring at the wound that brought Tom back and the order he carved into his own hand.
He gets Dean to do it, because he knows he'll do it well. He does.
The roaring head is defiant, the body proud, but the eyes are heavy. They hold the same mournful look that Harry's been wearing since Cedric died and that Dean hopes he never wears again.
(Kill the spare! kill kill kill)
So Harry moves forward and wears the past proudly, defiantly, mournfully, on his arm.
Dean's lion rests on the curve of skin between his thumb and his index finger. The mane is wild and overgrown, but its grin is that of someone who doesn't have to run anymore.
(I'm going to have to go away for a while mum.-If you walk out that door don't bother coming back.)
It looks like freedom every time he picks up a pen. He tells this to Seamus at some point, and his best friend laughs and tells him to stop being such a bloody girl.
Seamus's lion ends up tattooed on his arse.
"Because that's what any death eater scum can kiss," (Have anything to say? (My hand hurts, I want to go home, bastard, I'll kill you) No sir.) he announces proudly when Lavender finds it with a startled gasp.
Lavender kisses somewhere else instead.
The head of a lion sticks out of the top of Lavender's knickers. It is daring and provocative and almost makes up for the angry red gashes that stretch across her abdomen and down her thighs.
It almost makes up for the fact that she doesn't think she's beautiful anymore.
Parvati just gives her that look, the- maybe you've gone too far this time Lavender- look. She wants to scream. She doesn't.
"It's not about that," she says, "That werewolf (always the werewolf, never a name, never ever a name) he took," her voice cracks, "everything from me. But he didn't break me, I'm still here." (You gonna scream for me girly?)
And in its own way, Lavender thinks, that's a little bit beautiful.
Parvati tattoos a lion just below her collarbone. She fought just like everyone else, maybe her scars aren't quite so obvious, but god damn it, they're there. It's a statement, like her half shaved hair and future law degree.
(Who's the airhead now?)
Padma, the younger sister, the smart sister, the witty and dedicated and respected sister, holds her hand and weeps.
There's this horrific scar running down Padma's face and Merlin, she can't even see out of her right eye anymore. And Parvati's gone and shaved half her head and isn't wearing makeup for the first time since they started Hogwarts. They don't look like themselves anymore. They don't look like sisters anymore.
So Padma gets exactly the same tattoo, in the same spot. It's a statement as well.
(Forever and always, didn't we promise, years ago, when the hat said our clothes weren't allowed to match anymore?)
"We're still twins," Padma announces drunkenly to the bar, and Neville, sitting next to her only blinks.
"I already knew that."
Neville doesn't know where he wants to get his lion, his badge, his courage, inked permanently onto his skin. And he still doesn't know when Harry meets him for lunch and tells him in a low, somber tone that seems ridiculous over butterbeer between friends, that it could have been him.
He tells Hannah, one day at the lake because she's wonderful and sensible and always gives the best advice (except perhaps that one time last year when she told him, sobbing, to run, please, for me, run).
She goes "hmm." And he waits. At last she places her hand on his arm and says
"It doesn't matter much in the end, you chose to be a hero anyway," then walks away (and doesn't say chose to be a hero over me.)
He gets it tattooed behind his ear. His little secret. It could have been him but it wasn't.
And that, as well as where his tattoo ends up, doesn't matter nearly as much as he thought it would.
Hannah's not really brave. And that had never bothered her once that hat yelled out Hufflepuff and she joined the house of the kind and the hardworking and the not really brave. At least not until the war started, and came to Hogwarts and to her friends and to her life. And then she's as brave as she's ever been.
But then the war ends and people are dead and she's just Hufflepuff Hannah again.
She nearly starts biting her nails again (Stop that, it's unbecoming her mum says, even from her grave) but picks up rubbing the soft skin under her wrist instead.
She gets the lion tattooed there eventually, because once upon a time she fought as well (Gryffindor Hannah, Fierce Hannah, Brave Hannah) and sometimes, when she's nervous enough to start rubbing it, she needs a little of that old courage back.
She tutors little Dennis in charms one day, rubbing that courageous lion the whole while (she's been told she's very good at giving advice but even she doesn't know what to say to the boy who shouldn't be an only child sitting before her).
He knows what to say to her though, grabbing her wrist and turning the lion up,
Dennis's tattoo is on the back of his skinny arm, the lion encompassed in a frame like an old photo. It doesn't need much more explaining than that. (Smile Dennis, we're wizards Dennis, well where did that get you Colin?)
Someone asks anyway, one day in Diagon Alley, and Oliver, passing by, cries at the answer.
Oliver gets a lion on the top of his huge shoulder, where he can still feel a phantom weight. (Wood, Mr. Wood can I get a picture, it's for my brother?-I've got practice kid) Katie gives him a sad look when he comes back to their flat with it and doesn't say anything at all.
"Catch the snitch or die trying," he told Harry once and never says again.
Katie gets signed to the Chudley Cannons at some point. The orange clashes horribly with everything but she scores plenty of goals regardless.
Every time she does she holds her palm out, where a roaring lion sits. Most of the crowd don't get it, think it's a celebration like Ginny's loop and Oliver's air punch. But it's more than that.
It's a dedication, to everyone who won't see it. (You're going to play quidditch while there's a bloody war on?)
Ron knows that, and he corners her after a match to thank her, with tears in his eyes.
Ron's tattoo is placed on his chest, right over his heart. Right where it belongs. (You'll have to kill us too!)
"Much better than a pygmy puff," Hermione decides with a kiss.
Hermione's tattoo is practical.
"I was going to get it on my arm, but imagine if I end up in the ministry? Absolutely no one would take me seriously."
And Hermione who misses some things so completely (You could have died mum!-Well, I would have died with a daughter then!) and gets others more than people ever imagine possible, looks at the tattoo on her ankle and says,
"The point isn't really for people to see it, is it?" And then, to George, as he's the only one who hasn't left her to her fretting in the living room of Burrow,
"At least it'll give your Aunt Muriel something else to complain about regarding my skinny ankles."
George laughs for the first time in a while.
George gets half a lion tattooed on his lower arm (WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DIE TOGETHER YOU GREAT IDIOT. HOW CAN I BE A TWIN ON MY OWN?).
Angelina takes one look at it and says,
"You always were an arse."
He laughs again.
Angelina gets half a lion tattooed on her lower arm as well. George's missing half. They don't quite line up, but she hadn't expected them to. (It's funny, how we used to fight about him, and now neither of us have him.)
"You're not alone you bastard."
And that's the point of this whole thing isn't it?