IMAGINING THE FUTURE IS A KIND OF NOSTALGIA | two year anniversary
Summer was approaching quickly – there were suddenly weeks left, not months – and Keller could feel the end in his bones, crackling like an electricity that gave him hope and life and energy for what felt like the first time in months. He knew that there were several hurdles to jump before he was able to properly enjoy the summer: there was, first and foremost, his NEWTs, which wouldn’t be easy in the least, and after that, there was graduation. Keller, with Atlas trotting along by his side, walked down the hallways of Hogwarts, standing tall and almost thrumming with energy as he thought about the end. He would miss Hogwarts – that was never in doubt – but he was excited about what came next; his thoughts drifted to Fiona, to St. Mungo’s, to working for something that was bigger than the castle he lived in. It was when Keller looked around at the school now, he realised just how long he’d been there – it was when there was no longer stone or metal or wood, but memories and laughter and injokes with his friends pressed into every corner. Of course, there were the bad memories: spots of stone where he’d bled or fallen or stood, feeling humiliated or scared. Hogwarts was more than just a school now, but instead something like a living, breathing pensieve of memories that Keller accessed every time he stepped out of his dorm room, and that’s how he knew he’d been there too long – and how he knew it was time to move on. Hogwarts would always be, in some sense, home; it would always be that place where Keller had lost, and then found, himself, multiple times over, working his personality and his memories and his knowledge into a shape that resembled the person he was now, and there was no way to categorically make sense of that. Atlas, jogging along with his blue collar on and a tiny bell, glanced up at Keller as they approached a fork in the path, and Keller pointed to the door. “Outside, I think,” he said, and Atlas moved ahead to the closed door and pawed at with his tiny grey paw before Keller pushed it open, and fresh air suddenly overwhelmed him, and he stepped out into the courtyard. Walking out into the open, Atlas dashing ahead to chase a few leaves blowing around, Keller revelled in the sunshine and the air, closing his eyes as he breathed deep the feeling of approaching summer that clung on the breeze. The north seemed to be promising summer on its heels, and when Keller shaded his hand against the sun high in the sky, he looked toward the mountains, trying to imagine where the seasons hailed from – where summer was currently lurking, lying in wait for the perfect time to descend. “C’mon,” he said, whistling to Atlas, who stopped rolling on his back with a leaf in his paws to jump up and over to Keller happily.
Several months ago NEWTs would have been consuming most of his thoughts, though several months ago NEWTs seemed to mean something more than they did now. It was almost depressing when he came to accept that his life wasn’t particularly heading anywhere, he had no desire to be anything or do anything, and the best option he had been given was to impress to his greatest ability and sign up for the Ministry like so many of his family had before him. So there were really only two options, do nothing or do what was requested- expected even- and neither seemed to hold much value for him. He smiled slightly as the Ravenclaw spoke, it was comforting to think there was no control in anyone’s lives, as little sense as that made in his mind, “No, philosophical is good. Philosophical suits you actually.” He wasn’t sure if Keller was attempting to cheer him up or assure himself that there was always ways of changing how things are but either way he found himself frowning again. “There’s no decision without some form of sacrifice but some decisions are worth it, I’m not sure how you decide if things are worth the sacrifice.” Attempting a reassuring smile he gave a small shrug, “There are ways out for most though I imagine others are much more self sacrificing then I am.”
Though Keller had no idea what it was that he and Tyler were waxing poetic about, he still managed to smile when Tyler said that philosophy suited him. Shrugging, Keller said, “to be honest, I’m not sure what I’m even talk about half the time — why anyone thought I’d be good in leadership positions astounds me.” Self deprecation aside, Keller saw that whatever was plaguing Tyler was a legitimate problem - it was bigger than whatever half-assed advice Keller could have given, but because of that, he didn’t know how to help — not meaningfully anyway. “As for what’s worth the sacrifice-… I guess love? Happiness? For me, I’d-… I’d sacrifice almost anything if it meant keeping my family safe or Fiona safe,” he said. “I guess realising what your priorities are is important? Like-… uhm— do you value your own happiness over that of your family’s or your partner’s? And if you do, that’s not wrong — of course, everyone has a right to be happy — but if you do, then there’s nothing you won’t sacrifice to secure your own happiness, whereas if you’re prioritising theirs, then you need to realise that that’s what you’re sacrificing: yourself, and your happiness.” Keller felt oddly philosophical after his small monologue, and he dropped his eyes from Tyler’s face and dark eyes to look at the books scattered around the table, wondering if perhaps Tyler was looking for a career change. “But whatever the problem is, I think you should definitely do what makes you happy, Tyler,” Keller said seriously. “You deserve that — and nothing should hold you back.”
He had hoped being in the library would help him think, there was no where else in the school that he felt perfectly comfortable and though the fact was slightly sad it made things seem much simpler- to have just one place that mattered rather than many. It seemed at time that Keller was the only other student who understood that the library was more than a room full of books- it was a sanctuary- some people had religion, others their families and he had a library and the books housed inside it. He felt guilty as the other sat down, which felt slightly ridiculous though it wouldn’t be the first time he’d felt guilty for expressing his frustration. “NEWT studies.” The words left him softly and in an embarrassed realization he looked back to the books in front of him, he hadn’t done any preparations for exams for weeks now but he wished that could be the excuse. “It’s not the exams, I mean they’re definitely distressing but I’ve not thought much of them actually,” He could have easily lied but having unintentionally almost made Keller leave he felt he owed a better explanation then a lie, “Do you ever- It just feels like I’m fighting to make changes in my life that are already decided for me which makes all the effort so pointless but to not try seems- Do other people feel so out of control?”
Keller wasn’t sure if he should be worried about Tyler or not - he had just admitted aloud that he wasn’t focusing on his NEWTs, and for a student about to graduate and the wizarding world on his own, Keller wondered if there wasn’t somethig actually quite wrong with Tyler. “That’s fair enough,” Keller said instead, shrugging one shoulder as though the idea of not studying for the biggest exams of their life didn’t send him into a panic. Tyler’s next words made a frown pull itself onto Keller’s face - the feeling of living a life that wasn’t in your own control was something that Keller had felt, but not of late. “I think a lot of people feel out of control,” Keller said, still frowning in thought. “I think we all do, to a certain extent? Not to get uh-… philosophical, but if you think about it, our lives are determined by forces largely out of our own control - time, accidents, coincidences, other human error-…” Keller shrugged again. “But I think you’re referring to something more specific… but nothing in your life is so permanent that you can’t change it if you don’t want to,” Keller said seriously. “There’s always a way out from it, there’s always a window of escape, I promise you that. Sometimes you have to be smart about it, andother times you have to be sacrificing, but-… I have to believe there’s always a way.”
Sometimes I wonder if you are even human, Keller. Only you would find the Giant Wars and peace deals made centuries ago mood boosting. I, on the other hand, will continue to find anything remotely connected to history dull. Firewhiskey and stories are the stuff of fun and perhaps they can make us forget for a little while that our friends have abandoned us in our time of need. We can reflect on the times when they were actually here and they did actually care. And we can do our best to bring the spirit of Nolan to life. Merlin knows, I could use some of his humor right about now. I’ll talk to Zane and we’ll make it happen. It is a shame, though. I know Tuesday would love the company. As would Benjy and Tyler. We seventh years really are a sorry lot now, aren’t we?
And sometimes I wonder if you’re even human - isn’t it written into the genetic code of every human to be interested in where they came from? What our story is? Granted, few of us have our roots in the Giant Wars, but history itself is fascinating - I worry about your future. Firewhiskey could definitely aid the forgetting part - stories might counteract that, though, and only serve to remind us of what we’ve lost-… I wish Nolan was here - he’d know exactly what to say, wouldn’t he? He’d probably make a joke and we’d all be laughing and we’d find a way to deal with them leaving while still finding it funny-.. I don’t know how Nolan did it. We are the sorriest bunch - maybe we could find a way to sneak everyone together? There’s two Gryffindors and one Slytherin-… how hard could it be? A few spells, some careful stealth work, abuse of the Head Boy badge-…
Olivia shook her head, “I can’t imagine having to put on a show for the people around me all the time. I wouldn’t be a very good pureblood, I’m really incredibly unconcerned with appearances though that may be a product of my upbringing.” She nodded along with what Keller was saying, she’d never understood the point of blood purity. It just didn’t make evolutionary sense, they were just depleting their own gene pool with each generation, “If wizards hadn’t starting marrying muggles they would have died out long ago, I will never understand the concept of marrying for purity. Some of the most influential, important, and powerful wizards and witches have been halfbloods and muggleborns.” Olivia shrugged taking a sip of her tea and grabbing a piece of toast, spreading a thick layer of jam onto it and taking a bite. “I’ve always felt that way, I think it’s a shame that more people don’t get to experience both the wizarding and muggle worlds.” She laughed slightly at Keller’s question before nodding, “Oh I’ve always known that my mom is a witch, there’s no way I could have missed it. If you’re ever around York send me an owl and I’ll show you where I grew up, I can’t imagine a better representation of what it’s like to live in both worlds.” Olivia loved her home and parents and she liked the idea of sharing that with Keller. “I went to muggle primary school and then I would come home to a house that smelled like a different potion every week, it was lovely.” Olivia looked down at her plate as they discussed Lowell and their classmates, “Fortunately I think most of our classmates would be loyal to us though I can think of at least one who would choose him over us…Evangeline. Or perhaps she wouldn’t choose Lowell over her classmates but I genuinely believe she would pick her pureblood family over her mixedblooded classmates and that would mean siding with Lowell if it came down to it.” Olivia sighed, hating that anyone, even Evangeline, would behave that way. She looked back up at Keller with a small, sad smile, “I think we could all do with a bit more wishful thinking these days Kell.”
The very idea of being a pureblood - of being forced into a set role for the rest of your life - made Keller shiver with disgust; if he had been born a pureblood, he was sure he would have broken a long time ago. “I guess we should think of ourselves as lucky then - that we have freedoms they don’t,” he said, shrugging. “I don’t think I ever really appreciated that fact until we discussed it, to be honest.” Olivia’s mention of influential and important people who had been born muggleborn and half-blooded made Keller smile - one of his favourite historical figures was undoubtedly Hermione Granger, and he would take any chance possible to talk about her. “If you think about it, muggleborns and half-bloods during the Second Wizarding War did a lot to break down many prejudices before we were even born,” Keller said, “like Hermione Granger — she did great work in the Ministry, though if only there had been more, we wouldn’t be where we are. Still, she was such an amazing figure for the muggleborn movement-… do you ever wish you were alive and attending Hogwarts with the uh-.. the Golden Trio, as they’re often called?” Hearing about Olivia’s home made Keller smile, though there was a twinge of his own homesickness mingled within him, and he thanked her quietly for her invitation to come to York - he wanted to travel after graduation and in the summer, so he would keep it in mind if he ever happened through that way. Loyalty, as Keller had come to realie, was a particularly precarious thing, and he frowned at Olivia’s mention of Evangeline. “Right,” he said, with a small, sharp nod. “Of course. She’s always been very-.. pro-pureblood, hasn’t she? I think she might genuinely choose Lowell over us if he offered her something that she couldn’t refuse, at least on behalf of her family-…” Keller frowned. “But that makes me wonder how many others would do the same - saying no to personal power or wealth is a difficult thing. I think even I would be tempted by money if Lowell offered it to me - my family need all the help they can get, and I don’t know if I’d have the courage to be selfless if it meant continuing their suffering.” He pushed around his toast a little, avoiding Olivia’s eye after his confession. “Let’s just hope we never have to be put to the test, right?”
It really rather was an abrupt way to announce his conversation with the new Minister, but he figured it was better to just jump right into it rather than beat around the bush. He took another bite of his food, and pulled his shoulder up in a shrug. “It was more him speaking to me, rather, he has a way of talking over your head, picking and bothering you until he grows tired of it and leaves.” It hadn’t been a good time at all, and he had been actively trying to avoid getting near him. That had failed. “He probably has… A lot of spies, I don’t know. He was asking me how I was dealing with the full moon, asking how I was dealing with my father disowning me… Oh, and he said my blood was impure. Since I’m a werewolf.” Zane shook his head quickly, and gave a loud sigh. “I tried… Telling him as little as possible. I didn’t want him getting under my skin, but I was… Furious. And you know how much I struggle with- Things- When I’m angry.”
The description that Zane gave of his conversation with Lowell left much to be desired in the new Minister of Magic - Keller couldn’t understand why he’d singled Zane out in the first place to only talk over him in the end. But, it seemed, that not a lot made sense when it came to Lowell: he was what he was, and that was not someone that Keller trusted. “Spies,” mumbled Keller, because what Zane said was completely plausible, but it triggered something else in his brain that he wasn’t sure he could put his finger on yet. “I’m really sorry Zane,” Keller said, frowning deeply in displeasure at the news of what Lowell had said. “After everything-… after everything, you don’t deserve to be told that, especially from the one man who is supposed to be looking out for all of us,” he said, shaking his head. “But I’m surprised - and proud - that you didn’t hit him after he said, especially about your family,” Keller said, giving Zane a tight smile. “But you run-in just proves that he’s dodgy,” Keller continued, lowering his voice so that only Zane across the table could hear. “Not that we didn’t have our suspicions before, but-… this raises questions of how he’s getting the information, and why a good man would come and rub it in a kid’s face, you know?”