The Victims, as I called them, used to come and
go all the time. I would just sit there, watching the events on Earth unfold
before me, and there would be another one beside me. Some of them watched me
expectantly, looking confused. Some looked like they couldn’t believe what was
happening. Yes, you’ve died! I felt
like shouting at them as they peered at me, waiting for me to say something.
This is why I’m not a Greeter; I have no patience for people who just stare
around in disbelief, uncomprehending of what’s obviously just happened to them. I felt terrible, of course, but
it’s easier to be annoyed than horrified.
You would have thought that I’d have been more
understanding and compassionate towards the ones who were utterly bewildered by
their deaths, but I wasn’t. It was always the ones who showed up, looked
swiftly to the windows to find out the fate of their fellows that made me ache
inside. I knew that they were the fighting Victims. They were the ones who put
themselves in the line of fire, trying to do whatever it was that had to be
done to buy time, or get out alive. Daring and brave; afraid, but gallantly so.
It killed me again and again when they materialized, and immediately knew where
they were, but didn’t care at all, as long as they had helped someone else. To
them, I wanted to say, Yes, you’ve died.
I’m to blame for that.
I was never really a big socializer, though. I
never talked to any of the strangers who showed up here in the
Life-After-Death, even if it was my son that killed them. Perhaps I should have
tried to offer my apologies for their losses, but I knew that it would be
meaningless. As if I could even help what Tom did! Still, I’d see the fighters
and I’d feel like I was owed a good kick in the rear for bringing such a person
as Tom Riddle into the world.
When Tom was born, I knew my life had come
to an end. Life had made enough of a mockery of me, and to be quite honest, I
didn’t care at all what happened in it after I’d gone. My family had disowned
me after I’d married Thomas, simply because he was a Muggle. My husband
disowned me after learning about my Wizard family. So I just moved on with all
that, and disowned my body as well. No one else wanted it, except maybe my
little son Tom Marvolo. If I had fought against the end of my life, I know it
would have kept on going, and I would have raised Tom myself. If I hadn’t been
so selfish, none of these people would have died.
The worst thing about all of the Victims
is remembering every single one of them. It didn’t matter if they were the
gawking ones or the fighting ones. I still remember all of them. Lots of times,
they came in groups. That was almost as hard as Fighters, because most the time
the outstanding resemblances between them could only mean they were related.
Whole families, dying on account of my child. Some of them were mere children,
too! Tom used to be that small.
When he was a little boy, I used to watch
him. After I died, he stayed in an orphanage in London. It was an
awful place for him. Tom was intelligent, reckless sometimes, but overall he
was very mature for a child. He had as sharp a tongue as any person I ever knew
in my short life, which got him into trouble, but he was still a quiet,
brooding sort of a boy. I watched his progress through the years, and I was so
excited when he got his Hogwarts letter that I could’ve jumped to the moon and
back. Tom belonged in the Wizarding
world. In my world.
Now that I look back, I realize that I was
completely blinded by my affection and my pride. Any normal person should have
realized that there was something very dangerous in Tom. He was my child, powerful
and brilliant, and if he was a bit cynical, it was to be expected. That was
what I was like at school. Tom, it
transpired, was beyond cynical, though he is still regarded as the most gifted
student to pass through the halls of Hogwarts.
In his third year, Tom discovered his Slytherin
ancestry, a fact that I was unaware of until my death and he learned enough to
discover Salazar Slytherin’s hidden Chamber of Secrets by his sixth year.
Thinking that he was doing the will of the powerful and wise, Tom took it upon
himself to rid the school of Muggle-borns, just as his predecessor had sworn he
would. He killed someone that year. When he was only sixteen years old.
Imagine! Children killing other children, my child killing another’s child. The
thought of it made me sick, and even worse was the fact that it was my fault
for not being there for him. I feel guilty admitting this, but I was glad that
Tom’s first Victim chose ghosthood as her eternity. There is no way I could
have faced that first Victim in my fresh shock.
It was too hard for me to look at Tom after
that. I know he became Head Boy, and I know that he left Britain as soon as he
graduated. When finally I plucked up the courage to look back at Tom, he had
plunged himself into the world of Dark magic. He studied with the worst wizards
to walk the face of the earth, learning illegal curses, drinking lethal poisons
and potions, trying to transfigure his person. During his studies, Tom learned many forms of murder, and had the
blood of several hundred Muggles, including his father’s family, on his hands
before he’d mastered them. I nearly choked when I first saw him; he barely
looked human anymore. The light-starved skin was now frosted white, and the
thick, black hair he’d inherited from me had thinned, and was now all but gone.
His eyes, deep sea green, like his father’s had been, were now black. Those
were not the eyes of a natural human- those haunting eyes of solid black tinged
with red. He was only about thirty, but he looked skeletal and disfigured and
Tom’s life was riveting. I wished I could look
away from that horrible figure! But I
couldn’t; my eyes were caught, transfixed on the man whom I had once called my
son. He started out recruiting supporters in various European countries, giving
lectures and insisting that the pure-blooded community follow him as he took
control of the government. Most people thought this meant he was running for
Minister of Magic as a Purist, but I could see the whole story from my little
window on the world. By the time the public realized what Tom was really after,
he had already begun to pick off his political enemies.
Tom’s first victim, Ludevune Ernig, former
political activist and Daily Prophet
columnist appeared out of thin air, right next to me, still in his night
clothes. His jaw was dropped, and it dropped even wider as he blinked around.
Definitely a Gawker, but I felt a huge surge of anger and shame to see him
there when I had just watched my son kill him. I’d known Tom would go after
this fellow first; he was very outspoken against the rise of Purism, and took
the battle against my son’s ideas to a personal level after Tom revealed his
master plan– the purge of all Muggles and Muggle-borns.
“I-I-I-” he’d stuttered finally, managing at
last to close his mouth. “Why, that murderous crook!”
Then he noticed me. I was just sitting there in
my chair, looking down on the world, where Tom was basking in his glorious
victory, servants at his side. With his main opponent out of the picture, it
would be considerably easier to climb the ranks to full power.
“Who are you?”
he demanded, his eyes wide and confused, but not without a glimmer of
realization. “What are you? Where’s
I had been debating whether or not to say
something when the Greeter arrived. Her name was Irene, and she dealt with most
the people from the British Isles back then.
“Hello,” she had said kindly to him, as only a
Greeter could. “I’m Irene. What’s your name?”
She knew his name already, but Greeters always
let their new charges introduce themselves. It’s supposed to help them adjust
to and accept what’s happened to them, though I’m not quite sure how. Just by
distracting them, I imagine.
“H-hello,” he responded, looking away from me to
the woman in front of him. “I, er, I’m Ludevune, Ludevune Ernig,” he stammered,
offering his hand automatically, as I’d seen him do many times before at
lectures and debates.
“I’m very pleased to meet you, Mr. Ernig,” Irene
replied, firmly shaking his hand with a motherly smile, as if to say this isn’t a dream Ludevune, I’m not a
Ludevune didn’t appear to see anything as he
nodded, bewildered. Still, he seemed to understand most of what had happened.
“That monster!” he growled suddenly, looking
around him on the ground like he was searching for something he dropped.
“Someone knocked, and it was him! He cursed me! That was an Unforgivable, that
Irene nodded, a sad smile on her face. “I guess
you won’t be forgiving him anytime soon, will you?” she said consolingly,
patting Ludevune on his shoulder.
Humor seemed the right approach with Mr. Ernig.
In spite of his grisly passing moments before, Ludevune smiled weakly and shook
his head. “No. I guess I won’t.”
“Good heavens! I have so much to show you! We
might not get to all of it unless we leave right now. . .” Irene gave the
reluctant man a tiny push forward, and pointed to a door. “We want that one,
Ludevune, the first Victim to make his way to
the Life-After-Death, wandered forward, looking slightly dazed. His green
striped pajamas were ruffled looking, and his slippers scuffed along the
ground. I could see his body lying on the floor just inside his front door
still. It had been hours before anyone found him, his eyes wide and blank,
frozen jaw still dropped.
“You can’t just sit here all day, you know,”
Irene had told me gently, resting a hand on my shoulder. I pulled my gaze away
from Ernig’s lifeless body.
“Yes I can,” I replied indignantly. Since I died
when I was only eighteen, I never really had a chance to grow out of my bad
Irene had sighed, and raised an eyebrow at me.
“I don’t know why you would want to
sit here all day, watching it all happen. There are going to be more of them,
you know. If you just sit here all the time, you’re going to see every single one.”
“So what? It’s my fault,” I scowled. “My son is
a murderer. I’ll sit here and watch him if I want to.”
Irene, who was rarely startled by anything had
looked very taken aback at my claiming responsibility for Tom. She couldn’t
tell if I was being serious or not, I think. I have a reputation for being
overly sarcastic, so I didn’t blame her. Irene opened her mouth to say
something, but I snickered and turned back to my little window. She took the
hint, and left me alone.
After Ludevune Ernig came a positive
flood of Victims. Most of them were middle-aged political figures, wealthy and
poor, pure-blooded and not. It didn’t really matter; if they stood in his way,
Tom or one of his operatives blasted them to smithereens. I was disgusted. If I
hadn’t been dead, I would’ve been sick to my stomach. Thinking about it still
makes me nauseous.
Every one of those poor, baffled, bewildered and
otherwise confounded Victims showed up in various states of shock. They’d look
wildly around them, not daring to believe that what had just happened to them
was reality. Some of them would rush up to me and demand to know what was going
on, or try to warn me that there was something dangerous going on. They had
noble enough intentions, and they certainly had justified questions, but I
started to get overwhelmed with all of them. They were all alike. All were
painfully connected to the anti-Purists, or, as I fondly called them, the
People had been afraid to speak Tom’s sobriquet,
Voldemort, long before the fighters began to file in by the handfuls. There had
been an odd one here and there among the politicians and the writers and the
unsuspecting Muggle-borns, but I didn’t really see the difference in the
Victims until the fighters were outnumbering the gawkers. I could almost always
tell which person would be a fighter and which would be a gawker, just by
watching them. It was really strange, how I spent my time then. I can see
anything, anywhere on Earth, and as soon as Tom had picked his next Victim,
he’d stalk them like animals. They knew it too, and I would be sitting there,
on the very edge of my chair, praying with every fiber of my heart that they’d
escape. It was like rooting for Quidditch, in a sick sort of way. Tom always
caught his Snitch in the end, though.
I remember the first time I made the distinction
between fighting Victim and gawking Victim. It was a woman, fairly young. A
Muggle-born, coincidentally, but that wasn’t why Tom killed her. This woman was
working against him, and not publicly so, but she worked with a secret sort of
group that was trying to undermine Tom’s supporters. To Tom, it was just a plus
that the girl was Muggle-born. I watched
her as she raced through her house, trying to undo a spell that had been cast
all around her house that wouldn’t permit her leaving it. She was with her
husband, and the two of them were trapped in their bedroom when she finally
broke through the Death Eater’s wards.
When Tom found them, the couple was still trying
to make the hole large enough to fit a person through it. Without even thinking
about it, she had shoved her husband through the gap and turned to face her
enemy full on. Just as soon as she had raised her wand, Tom had wiped her life
away, and her body fell to the ground, sickly still.
I looked over to the other end of my room, and
there she was, hand still raised, but with no wand there. She frowned at her
change of scenery, looked at her clenched, wandless hand, spared me a fleeting
glance, and rushed to a window.
“Go, run, you idiot, don’t just stand there!”
she shrieked, and I could hear the tears in her voice. I knew she was watching
exactly the same thing as I was.
Almost at the same time, we had both gasped in relief,
watching as the young man below us continued on his way out of the house, and
Apparated away just as a Death Eater pounced on him.
Irene, who was still Greeting people back then,
hurried out of the door behind me, and glided up to the young woman who had
just sacrificed herself for her husband’s escape.
“Hello,” she said tentatively. “I’m Irene. Can I
get your name, please, miss?”
name?” the young woman said vaguely, turning away from her window. “Oh–yes– of
course. Dorcas Meadowes.”
This is where I first came to call them
fighters. Dorcas Meadowes had hardly paid any notice to her own death, being
only concerned that her efforts had paid off.
Upon assuring herself that her loved one made it to safety, it was
business as usual. No crying, no questions, no doubting.
Dorcas, I’m the Greeter ‘round here,” Irene said, choosing forwardness as the
best tactic with Dorcas Meadowes. “We’ve got a lot to get to for the moment.
You can come back just as soon as we are done.”
Dorcas nodded, tucking a loose strand of short
brown hair behind her ear. “Let’s hurry, then.”
A true fighter. I could’ve died all over.
She was so brave! Why do people like that die? It still doesn’t make sense to
me why the truly great people end up here before they should. As Irene took
Dorcas to the far door, I had to smother my face with my hands to keep from
crying. I never cried, not even when I was alive, and I had every reason to,
but just to know that that woman had died because I decided not to live. . .
the pain cut through me like a flaming knife.
In the years that followed that, I became aware
of every single Victim to pass through this hall. The gawkers began to annoy
me, something which I do feel ashamed about- they had just been murdered, I’d remind myself. Then the
fighters started to come in twos, threes, fours, whole families, and I didn’t care if some of them started to gawk, for it
was my fault there were here.
The first family was such a shock, I thought I
was seeing quadruple. Of course, I’d just watched all of them die at the hands
of my son and his servants, so I knew that it wasn’t my eyes. There was a woman
first, followed by two children, and then a man. They were still positioned
just as they had been a mere second ago, with the woman shielding her smaller
daughter, the older daughter faced forward with her eyes clenched tight, and
the man trying to block all of them from the front. None of them had seen when
Tom apparated behind them, and killed them all with one spell.
I watched in horror as they all relaxed and
jumped around to stare at each other. The older girl fainted on the spot, and
the woman began to cry, hugging her little one close to her. The man bent down
and pulled his unconscious daughter upright, looking around him with a
tragically defeated look on his face. He knew exactly where he was. He also
knew that he hadn’t been able to save anyone in the process, and it looked
supremely painful for him to be sitting there in the Life-After-Death,
surrounded by his family.
Irene came tearing out of the usual door,
appearing flustered and upset. She had been just as put out by the family’s
murder as I had, though she certainly
couldn’t have claimed any fault in it.
“Good heavens!” she exclaimed, hurrying to help
the man wake his daughter. “That happens, sometimes, it won’t be a problem,”
she assured him, gesturing to the girl, who opened her eyes then.
“It shouldn’t have had to happen at all,” the
man muttered hollowly, his head dropping. “They’re only children!”
“Don’t blame yourself,” Irene had told him,
patting him gently on the shoulder. “Now, this is a rare and saddening
occurrence. Please, can I have all your names? I’m Irene, by the way, I’m your
It seemed talking was Irene’s way of dealing
with this. She just kept rambling, and if it was a comfort to her or to her
charges, I couldn’t exactly tell. Both parties seemed exhausted and depressed.
“Bones. Edgar Bones. This is my wife, Carmen,
and my daughters, Emily and Rosalina.”
Irene nodded, knowing all of this already, but
looking as though she wasn’t even aware that Edgar Bones was speaking English.
“Come with me. We’ll need to talk to someone about this.”
They all left. That was the last time Irene
Greeted anyone, I’m pretty sure. I don’t blame her at all for resigning.
Greeters are supposed to be the ones to talk others through their tragedies,
and the whole system is ruined as soon as the Greeter lets him or herself be
affected. There were two other Greeters after Irene. No one liked dealing with
European countries anymore, because the death toll was always rising, and
people were dying in increasingly hideous ways.
Pretty soon, every day a new victim of Tom would
come through. Pretty much all of them were fighters, and didn’t notice the
sullen eighteen year old girl in hospital robes who was watching them. Some
days, I didn’t even watch the Earth, I simply sat and waited for more Victims
to show up. It became a habit, I guess, to sit there and inspect the people who
were dead on my account, at the hands of my unloved little Tom.
People I’d known in life sometimes came to
visit me after they died. I saw my best friends from school. I saw my
grandmother, the lone member of my family who would consent to visit me since
I’d not only betrayed the family line, but also brought fear and death upon the
whole Wizarding world. They all asked me why I didn’t go try and do something
cheerful and fun. Apparently, being dead means you also get to have a blast,
but I didn’t want to. I couldn’t explain to them why I preferred to watch the
disasters go on below. They all thought I was being ridiculous, trying to blame
myself for Tom’s actions. None of them realized that I’d made the choice to
abandon him to a cold, cruel world where he’d never know love, compassion, and
normality. None of them knew that I’d made that decision, knowing that he would probably end up being problematic and awful,
and accepting that as long as I could escape my own horrible world.
It was fresh after one of my grandmother’s
visits, actually, that the strangest thing happened to me. She had been trying
to convince me to go with her to see my old school Headmaster, but I declined,
telling her that I was busy watching Tom. In truth, I hadn’t watched Tom in a
while, and had just been waiting for more of his Victims to appear so I could
wallow in my misery some more. I peered out my window uninterestedly, so I
could assure myself that I hadn’t lied to Gran, and I saw, to my dismay, that
Tom was after someone at that very moment.
The young couple was hurrying around in a panic
as Tom made his way through their house. I realized at once that this wasn’t
their first encounter with my son. I’d watched him hunt them at least twice, I
was sure. As far as I could tell, there weren’t any Apparition wards on their
house, and I slid forward in my chair automatically, chanting in my head Get away, get away, get away!’ The
husband was shouting words I couldn’t hear to his wife, and I watched her as
she hesitated, then sprinted up the stairs, and into a nursery.... No wonder
they wouldn’t Apparate, they had a baby upstairs.
My eyes were attracted back downstairs, where
flashes of light were smashing up the small kitchen. That man would be a
fighting Victim, I could tell already. Not many people actually took Tom on,
and when they did, it usually didn’t last for more then two exchanges: one of
theirs, and one of Tom’s. This fellow was doing quite a good job dodging the
curses, but Tom was quite literally impossible to hit. In the blink of an eye,
the man was dead. Just as I predicted, he materialized at the other end of my
room, and rushed to a window.
“RUN!” he bellowed, like they all did. New
Victims usually take a while to figure out that they can’t hear or be heard on
Earth from the Life-After-Death. “Run,
Lily, no what are you-?!” He stopped shouting, and buried his face in his
hands, knocking sliver framed glasses askew. I snapped my attention away from
him, and my heart fell when I figured out what was happening. The woman had
found her child, and Tom had found them both. He had her wand, now, and was
trying to shove her aside. That was baffling to me; I’d never seen Tom turn
down such an easy kill. What was this woman doing? Tom was offering her a way
to escape; she could have easily Apparated if she let him toss her to the
ground, as he was attempting to do. Finally, as though in slow motion, Tom
turned his wand on her, and the woman was dead before she hit the ground.
I turned mournfully away from my window. There
she was at the end of the hall, looking shocked, but not confused. She rushed
to the side of her husband at the window. They stared out, and I knew they were
looking down at their son, just as I looked down at mine. The only difference
was that they were waiting for their son to join them.
The woman had been shaking, and her husband put
an arm around her shoulder. I looked away from them, remembering with a jolt
what it had felt like to have someone comfort me like that. They didn’t notice
me there, thankfully, and I stared out the window and back into their house,
knowing from Tom’s wand position that the little baby would be joining his
parents in this room soon. How very mistaken I was.
The flash of green light burst from Tom’s wand.
The flash of green light glanced off the baby. The flash of green light hit Tom
square in the chest, and the house exploded. I leapt up so quickly that my
chair flew backwards several feet with a clatter. The woman screamed, and the
man began to gibber.
“Lily! He’s gone, he’s left!” he cried
excitedly. “Did you see that?”
is gone!” the woman shrieked to her husband, not sounding at all excited.
“Harry will have died, look at it,
Even though I was astonished beyond all
astonishment, I wondered vaguely where their Greeter was. Then I wondered where
their son was. The curse should have killed him, but obviously it hadn’t, which
was completely a mystery to me. It had definitely looked like Tom’s favorite
Unforgivable, Avada Kedavra, which had never failed before then. If the curse
hadn’t killed him, the house’s explosion should have. Yet he obviously hadn’t
arrived here. To this day, I have not had my head spin as badly as it did at
I put a hand to my forehead, and stared down at
the clearing dust on Earth where the house had been. There, still in the
destroyed nursery, somehow unscathed by the collapse of the house, was a tiny,
squirming child, and by the looks of it, he had been screaming at the top of
his lungs for several minutes. My jaw fell open. I had been sure that he died,
or was about to die at any moment. I stared over at the couple down the hall
(whose Greeter was still nowhere to be seen.) The woman was crying into her
husband’s shoulder, and he stroked her red hair as he fought his own tears.
Neither of them seemed to have noticed the miracle that their son had survived.
Before I could stop myself, I had moved
tentatively toward them, feeling like an intruder in their small, saddened
world. “Um. . . Excuse me.” The man looked up, his brow furrowed in concern,
and the woman peeked over her shoulder, eyes puffed and red. I plunged on,
feeling all the more interfering as they looked at me. “Well, you didn’t seem
to notice, so I thought I’d just say that… er, your baby’s still alive.”
I said this all very fast, and they just
stared at me like I was mad. I wondered if I was mad. An awkward silence followed my words, and then the woman
seemed to come out of her trance. She blinked at me, and ran to a window.
“Harry!” she shouted, leaping up and down like a
little kid. “Oh James, he’s- he’s alive!”
The man joined her at the window, a
disbelieving smile flashing across his face. The couple stood by the window,
crying from sheer joy and I stood just behind them, wondering their Greeter
I felt like the biggest nuisance in the world,
just standing there. I cast around for my chair, which had made its way halfway
across the room. I started towards it when the woman called out to me.
“Wait! Excuse me, don’t go just yet!”
I stopped, flinching at the prospect of
conversation. “Yes?” I said slowly and quietly, as though speaking to a
She ran over to me, her red hair swishing behind
her, her eyes still puffy from crying, but the joy in them unmistakable. “Thank
you for telling us,” she said, putting a hand to her chest.
“Oh,” I said blankly. It was a little startling.
Victims had never paid me any mind before. “You would’ve figured it out
eventually. . .” I trailed off.
She considered me a moment. “Even so. It was a
kind gesture. Do you mind if I ask, what’s your name?”
I blanched. If I told her my name, she would
know my relationship to Tom. The last thing I had ever wanted was for any of
Tom’s Victims to know who I was. She seemed to sense my reluctance, though, and
looked extremely apologetic.
“I’m sorry, forget I asked,” she said, shaking
her head. “I’m Lily Potter. This is my husband, James.”
James, who had moved to stand close behind his
wife, thrust a hand around her for me to shake. I only hesitated for a second,
and shook his hand cautiously. He grinned at me. I didn’t see how anyone could
be grinning when they’d just been murdered.
“So, what do you call this place?’ he asked,
looking around at the doors on the left and the windows on the right, and
sounding as though he were simply on a museum tour.
I raised my eyebrow at him. For a fighter, that
was a very strange question. I supposed, though, that they all asked that
question eventually, even if I wasn’t there to hear it. “The whole thing is
just called the Life-After-Death,” I said uncertainly. “But this room is just.
. . Well, I don’t know, it’s kind of my room, I guess, no one else visits it
“Why not?” Lily asked me, looking incredulously
at the windows. “You can see everything from right here! Who wouldn’t want to
see the Earth?”
I have to say, I was very taken aback by these
questions. They weren’t dumb questions, like the gawking Victims asked me
sometimes. It was as if they thought that I was omniscient about death, or
something. Not that anyone had told them otherwise.
“Well, you can see Tom from this room. No one
else wants to see him,” I said shyly,
and it took me a moment before I realized what I had said.
“Tom. . . Tom Riddle?” James Potter spluttered, and his suspicion had been
unmistakable. He rested a hand on Lily’s shoulder, his gaze hard.
“Yes,” I said defiantly. Both of them looked
distrustful at that, and I could’ve kicked myself when I realized that they
probably thought I was a Voldemort supporter. “I’m not- I mean, I’m not a-a
Death thingy,” I stuttered, horrified at the very idea.
you, then?” Lily asked, tilting her head slightly, and there was something
about her tone that made me feel like she already guessed.
“I’m his mother,” I mumbled, staring at my feet
and wishing that I hadn’t come here in the first place.
“That thing had a mother?” James asked
incredulously. I didn’t wonder at his skepticism.
My short temper had flared at this, however.
“Let me rephrase myself,” I replied icily, arms drawn protectively across my
chest. “I should have been his
The Potters stared at me. I stared at them,
wondering if either of them was sensitive enough to understand my meaning. Yes,
I should have been his mother. I should have loved him, and cared enough to
stick around for him. Had I done that, I wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Lily Potter looked sadly at me. “Is that how you
died? Giving birth?”
I nodded once.
“I’m so sorry, that’s terrible.”
Without considering what I was saying, or who I
was speaking to, I responded, “I didn’t think so.”
James made a face, and Lily blinked. “What?” she
For reasons unknown to me, I felt like opening
up to this woman. Maybe it was because I hadn’t talked to anyone new in
decades, and I was lonely. Maybe it was because she was a fighting Victim, and
I felt guilty. Maybe it was because she was a mother who had died young, and I
thought I could relate. For whatever reason, I told her my story. I told her
about my decision to let myself die. I told her about causing the deaths of
countless people, all by abandoning my child to a cruel world that wasn’t his.
I finished my story, feeling like I had just had
fifty pounds lifted off my person. Lily looked like someone had petrified her,
and James looked like a mixture of sympathy and disgust.
“So I’ve watched him ever since then. And I’ve
met all his victims, and now I’ve met you and told you my whole pathetic story,
and you probably hate me now.” I looked out my little window that had
previously showed the destroyed house with the little boy in it, but which now
was showing nothing. It was all black. “My window,” I ended lamely.
James looked at the window again. “Where’d Harry
“It wasn’t Harry’s life we were looking at
before,” Lily said faintly as she stared at me. I noticed her eyes were teary
“I have to go,” I told her, backing slowly away.
“I can’t believe myself. I don’t blame you for not accepting any of my
With that, I turned to the nearest door. I
didn’t care where it led to; I just wanted to get away from the Potters. Why
hadn’t their Greeter showed up?! I’d go give someone at management a piece of
my mind, that’s where I’d go.
“Lily, let’s go look for Harry. He’s just down
there somewhere, all by himself in a burning house,” James said uncertainly,
looking at me like he thought I would bite him or something. How he thought
he’d find his way around with out a proper guide is beyond me.
“Alright,” Lily answered, but she didn’t move.
“I’ll catch you up in a moment.”
James opened his mouth to protest, and grimaced
at the thought of accidentally gushing some more, but Lily waved her husband
away and moved closer to me. He seemed to sense that she wanted to talk to me
alone, and nodded reluctantly, making his way to a door.
“What?” I asked, trying to get control of myself
again. “I’m not a Greeter, I really can’t answer your questions.”
“Greeter? What? Oh, never mind, I just wanted to
say,” Lily ran a hand through her hair. “it isn’t your fault, what Volde- what Tom, did.”
I didn’t believe her. “Of
course it’s my fault. I left him alone. That would mess up any kid.”
Lily looked pained at my
words. Everything I said seemed to upset her. I made a mental note to never
speak to any Victim again, ever.
“I left Harry alone,” she said slowly. “I’ve
left my baby to a world that isn’t kind, and isn’t even his.”
I am sure that I could’ve rivaled any Gawker
then. All I could do was stare stupidly at her. I’d seen her death, of course,
and I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. She didn’t run away from
Tom, she tried to fight him, tooth and nail, without a wand. It was completely
different to be killed in a struggle and leave your child parentless than to
let yourself die.
“Harry might be messed up some day,” Lily
mumbled, looking at the ground. “There wasn’t anything I could do to keep him
from getting hurt, but I can’t blame myself for anything that happens to him
after this. I did my best. You did what you had to do, as well.”
“But that’s not the same-” I began.
“Perhaps, but I still see the same thing: Two
mothers, dying to give their children life. The deed has been done, and it’s up
to them to make the choices, now.” She sighed sadly. “Don’t blame yourself for
his wrong choice.”
“You don’t understand,” I said exasperatedly, my
temper rising. “I gave up my life so that he would live, but I was saving
myself. And I killed thousands with that one selfish, thoughtless decision.”
Lily didn’t raise her voice at all, but she
spoke to me so vehemently that my temper was kept in check. “I gave up my life
so Harry would live, and I already know that by doing so, I’ve made him a
“I’m sure that most orphans don’t turn out to be
mass murderers,” I said softly, averting my eyes. “How would you know?”
“A prophecy told me so. It isn’t really
important. But Harry will either kill or be killed. So by putting myself in the
position to be killed, I saved him, but only for a while. In the end, the
choice will be his to die or murder. I only allowed the choice to be possible.”
Lily glanced at Tom’s cloudy window, a lone tear trailing down her cheek. “Tom
will stop, someday. No one blames you, except you.”
Any words that I could possibly have said after
the intensity of hers were lost in my throat. I just stared at her, and hastily
tried to wipe away the twin waterfalls drenching face. Lily hugged me, an odd
gesture to come from a stranger, and I stood awkwardly in her embrace like a
Lily turned, and headed straight for the door
her husband had passed through just moments ago. I stared at my feet, wanting
nothing more than to join them on the floor, but years of steeling myself
against emotion forced me to remain upright. I heard the door open, and Lily
said softly into my room, “You’re a real fighter, you know?”