History of the World, The
DISCLAIMER: Rowling's world. Many large corporations hold the rights. I'm but a beggar in her almshouse. Surprisingly, I make no claim on Bewitched either.
SUMMARY: People are born, people suffer, people die. Sometimes they fall in love.
NOTES: I blame this mostly on the program director for Nick at Nite. We all love Uncle Arthur, who chose General Grant because he had more booze.
There is death in the air, literally. The Dark Mark seems to float over more houses than not, these days, though of course that is an exaggerated fiction. But Death is in the air, coming on a hundred bitter feet, coming on a dozen impervious wings.
Lily can see this; or not so much see it as sense it, smell it, taste it. She thinks that grief and pregnancy make one indisputably more empathic about these things. Her parents' shrieks will rise once again through the air in half a year, when her baby is born. Her parents' shrieks, gone up amidst the fire and crackle of a car crash. At least, she said to Remus, it wasn't the Dark Mark, like James' family. At least it wasn't my fault. He looked back at her with sad eyes.
Petunia, gravid in her own late stages of pregnancy, had looked at Lily with blame in her eyes at the funeral. Like Lily should have been able to save them through the sheer force of her will. Or perhaps that she should have performed some miracle to restore them. Or some mischief to prevent it. That was the day that Petunia wrote her off for good, the day the magic she'd always hated failed to deliver her parents from the hands of something as prosaic as a drunken driver.
This is the history of the world: people are born, people suffer, people die. Sometimes they fall in love. Sometimes they fall out of it. Mostly they manage to get by, no matter what, and no matter who they are. A chimera is trying to subvert that order, but few call him a revolutionary. Lily, in her empathic state, understands this, just as she can taste death on the march. This is the meaning of realism.
Lily stays at home each day, caressing her swelling belly, while James kills people for a living. It's the right thing to do, of course. The right thing to do. And James comes home day after day, weary and wary and smelling like defeat. But at least he comes home.
She used to play her own part, Dumbledore's secret weapon, a far more dangerous one than she'd have imagined just a few years ago. But she was ordered to stay at home, and she doesn't think it cowardice to obey. Her part now is to protect this child. And if it's possible, she will. Sometimes she feels foolish to let a child be born into the midst of a war. Still, she does not feel useless because motherhood has its own kind of power.
So she caresses her unborn child, stays sequestered at home, and because her days stretch unbroken before her, she watches Bewitched in reruns on the Evans' old telly. Today, Endorra and Uncle Arthur are staging a private war. Everything will come out right in the end. This is the meaning of fiction.
She remembers Bewitched from her childhood, watching as Samantha twitched her pert nose and worked magic on a mundane world. Lily remembers thinking it absurd. Fiction. She also remembers a small, sing-song voice in the back of her head: "I can do better than that."
Lily knows she'd never give that up, not even for the myth of perfect safety in blithe ignorance. Not even for the sake of this child.
This is the difference between fiction and reality. Uncle Arthur and Endorra stage their own private war. Lily watches, while the victims of a secret war fall all around her. She waits while death rises through the air, an unseen plague, an ominous blight.
She wonders if this war will eat up her husband and her friends and her own body like wars have eaten up people for millennia. She was witness to a secret meeting the day before her parents died, a meeting in Dumbledore's office with Crouch and Fletcher, James, and others. A meeting with Severus Snape. It was the first time she'd seen fear in Snape's eyes. The first time she'd seen shame, and some part of her understood. Lily knows, in that way that mothers do, that her own child will be a boy. She wonders if he'll be eaten alive as well. The thought is like ashes on her skin, like bile in her mouth, like a flash of green behind her own green eyes.
During the strange summer holidays of years past, when another war raged in jungles half the world away, Lily heard her mother say that if women ran the world, this sort of thing would never happen. Lily would take on the king of death to prove her mother's point. She knows this, the way she knows certain truths. There are things to be learned from the history of the world, and this is one.
On the telly, Samantha twitches her nose, and everything is set right.
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