“Lay down your weapons!” Jem roared. Her grief had caved in; succumbing to the hot sun of boiling rage rising in her chest. She breathed heavily and glared at each and every single SPHINX as the six lion masks turned towards her.
Her friend was dead because of a stupid, baseless, foolish, utterly prejudiced idea that all Slytherins were evil. Who decided who was evil? Who decided who should live and who should die? Who in the name of bloody Merlin thought that by killing all the Slytherins, world peace would be restored? Who believed violence would bring peace?
(She hadn’t realised she had said it aloud at that point in time. Marcus had actually told her afterwards.)
“You blind, shortsighted, dimwitted imbeciles! I’ve had enough of running around trying to pacify all of you and your godforsaken ideology. And the worst part is, I don’t even know if it’s even qualified to be recognised as one! I know many of you have suffered in the Battle of Hogwarts. I know many of you have lost loved ones when Voldemort and his Death Eaters stormed the castle. Good friends. Sisters. Brothers. Fathers. Mothers. I know you long to see some kind of punishment for those responsible for their deaths– some form of retribution! But that doesn’t give you the right to kill other people’s friends, families, lovers!
“You think because I wasn’t born during those Dark times, because I’m not British, because I’m an orphan, I don’t know loss as deep as any of you and I’m too ignorant to be preaching about peace. You’re dead wrong. I know loss because you taught me! You killed one of my best friends and he was the kindest soul I’ve ever met. He was innocent, he was smart, he was funny and brilliant and when he smiled the world smiled with him—” The image of Thomas, still full of life, still alive, flared afresh in her mind. He’s smiling at her (his teeth are Darlie white, she thinks giddily) and then he is stone cold dead dead dead. Blood pooling on the ground, written on the walls: “He was the first. Slytherins, beware.”
His blood became their ink. His death, their cry. Her eyes burned; her throat threatened to clamp up (she can’t cry she won’t cry), but she forced her voice to speak out.
“–and you killed him because he was a Slytherin. He was only a boy and you killed him because he was a Slytherin. How cruel, how cold-blooded, could you be? You killed a child, a schoolmate because you desired vengeance. What makes you different from any of those Death Eaters? What makes you different from Lord Voldemort?” Angry tears fell down her cheeks.
So much hatred was rising inside her, waiting to explode. In that split second, she wanted so much to kill them all. She wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine – to make them hurt, to make them pay. She wanted them to see how violence never stopped anything, never gave anyone anything. It was a vicious cycle- you kill, some else kills you, another kills that some one and it never stops. It only paved the way for greater violence.
And that was her answer. The answer to everything.
She brushed her tears away, her voice echoing stronger: “What makes us different from evil is that we forgive. Hate only begets more hate. I can hate you forever, but I can never bring Thomas back and I can never rid myself of the pain. But I can change how treat you. You can hate Voldemort and his Death Eaters but you can’t bring back those you love. But you can be better than that. You can be better than Voldemort, you can be better than those Death Eaters. If you deem yourself to be a good person, then you need to be a little bit better than all of this because right now, to everyone, you are only causing more pain and suffering and you’re teaching people that killing others out of anger is right. You got to be a little bit better than that. And I forgive you.”
She truly had underestimated the power of forgiveness. The sun in her chest slowly simmered. It didn’t hurt her chest anymore. It was a warm, soothing heat and she remembered Thomas in all his brilliance. Stunned, she smiled to herself. She was done. At least if she died now, she would die peaceful and no regrets. She waited for those two words that would end her life. She saw the nearest SPHINX approaching her, pointing his wand towards her.
And then he lowered it. Jem blinked as he pulled off his mask. His eyes glimmered with tears.
“Will!” A SPHINX hissed. “What are you-”
Will ignored him. “I lost my wife in that battle. To Fenrir Greyback. I led the team that slayed him, but the pain never went away. Even though it never helps: I’m sorry we were responsible for the death of your friend.”
Jem looked up at him. “I forgive you,” she said quietly. “Please, help me stop this.”
The remaining SPHINXes looked to one another. They took off their masks and sheathed their wands- all except one. Leonus. They flanked Jem, two on her left and three on her right.
“Leo,” Will said grimly. “It’s over. The war is lost. It has been for a very long time.”
“No, no- NO!” Leonus roared, ripping off his own mask and throwing it upon the ground. He brandished his wand furiously and the ex-SPHINXes raised theirs in response. “She’s manipulating you- can’t you feel it? That little bitch is using words to coax you over and then she’ll stab you in the back- just like what Voldemort did to his own followers!”
“Voldemort is long dead, Leonus,” a woman to Jem’s left spoke. “You got to move on. Forgive and forget. Live.”
“Forgive? Forget?” the last SPHINX snarled. “I will not forgive! Forget my daughter? Forget my sister? I will not! They will live in death and they will live in my memory as long as I kill every last one of them!!”
“We’ve killed enough!” Will shouted back. “We’ve killed too many! I’m tired, Leo, I’m tired of running, I’m tired of killing- we’re all tired. We’ve had enough and we are done.”
Leonus grinned maniacally. “Then you are weak, William. Avada Kedrava!”
“NO!” Jem screeched.