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The House That Built Me

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            There was a prevailing idea amongst the muggleborns and halfbloods that most purebloods lived in opulent mansions, with only the Weasleys exempt. High stone walls; expensive, tasteful decorating; dark, sullen rooms thrumming with dark magic and ancient sins. A common idea, and an incorrect one. Many purebloods lived in ordinary homes, with ordinary secrets.

            Marcus Flint grew up surrounded by stone and ivy, perhaps, in a home built by an ancestor hundreds of years before. Indeed, Flints had resided on the isle since there were Flints to reside.  They had expanded, of course, to other islands in the archipelago, and further on to the mainland; but this had long been the ancestral home.  But it was no mansion; indeed, some would argue it was barely a house. The Malfoys would consider it hardly fit for their gardener.

            Certainly, there were other Flint residences (Former minister Josephina Flint had grown up in a very respectable home in Cornwall belonging to her strong-willed grandmother, who had left the archipelago at twenty in a rage about her beloved baby brother’s elopement to a local muggle), but it was here that held their history. Marcus had learned that there was strength in being backed by centuries of family (but there was freedom in not).

            It was embedded in an ancient deciduous forest, one of the few remaining in Britain and Ireland. Druids had communed here, before the Romans had ravaged them, and there was remembrance in the trees, in the way wind and surf softly echoed their chants. Perhaps it was foolishly romantic to believe the land remembered and mourned them; but Marcus believed it anyway. He learned to love the sky.

            There was a small clearing with a little pond (Marcus had spent much of his childhood being fished out of that pond; the fish had stopped being surprised), and the garden was filled with various plants, both edible and decorative. Marcus had learned the value of hard work in that garden, and the curious joy of growing things. The tangle of blackberry bushes taught him strategy, patience, and the value of being sharp. (For Marcus, romantic love was like blackberries; wrapped in spikes).

            The house was made of grey stone, and ivy trellised up its walls in a mass of green. (Marcus would always associate green with home). The door was a startling teal; it had been his grandmother’s favourite colour.

            It opened into a parlour that would more properly be considered a library; every speck of wall was covered in shelving, and the shelving was covered in books. It was obvious that at one point, the books had been neatly arranged in polite rows; but as books accumulated over the decades and shelving did not, there were many creative stacking solutions. (Once, a visitor had dryly reminded old Gerontius Flint that he was a wizard and could organize books as he pleased; he regretted it immediately, because Gerry could, and would, expound for hours about the physical and moral degeneration of those who used magic for everything). In that room, Marcus learned to read and walk. Less tangibly, he learned how to be inventive, and how to bend the rules without breaking them. (He breaks them because it’s fun).

            There was a small kitchen, where Marcus had learned to cook; there’s more magic in the world than wizardry.

            A dining room was off the kitchen; the table and chairs fashioned from driftwood untold years ago. Marcus had discovered, at a rather young age, that a bedsheet tossed over the table made an excellent tent.

            There were four tiny bedrooms; enough for a bed, a wardrobe, and a bookshelf. (While the architecture was sacrosanct, the décor was not—those rooms had seen many colours and patterns over the years. Marcus’ own was a silvery grey with dark purple trim, and the furnishings were grey also; the previous occupant had decided on a rather garish burgundy/chartreuse combination). In those rooms, Marcus had learned to learn, to dream, to plan. His mother had read to him there, and later he read to himself, late at night, long past bedtime. He fondly imagined his parents never knew. (They did).

            And all throughout were pictures: portraits of revered forebears; photographs, both wizarding and muggle, candid and posed — at least one of every family member, because they all had a place here, regardless of politics (most didn’t actually hate muggles; poor Josephina was just terrified of them, and half mad besides— she had died in St. Mungo’s, talking to a spider named Charlotte about the moral ambiguity of chipmunks. The funeral had been magnificent, and Charlotte had been lovingly cared for by a cousin).

            The homestead was sanctuary, too, for those who wished it. There was rarely a time when there wasn’t one at least extended relative handy. The heartsick and soulweary found peace in its solid, old-fashioned steadfastness.

            The island’s sun was never too harsh; filtered through a haze of cloud, glowing down at the mass of wildflowers and industrious insects, while the wind sang soft lullabies through the trees. (You belong here. This is your birthright. You can always come home). Of course there were storms; savage, violent cacophonies that set the sun to flight and enraged that singing wind into a savage, shrieking thing. But that was right, too; those who needed to could rejoice in the fury, burn out the rage, rip off the scabs on their hearts and their souls. And when the sun returned, they came back to themselves.

            Marcus came back to himself, here. After loss (and loss, and loss), he came back, to the old house’s warmth and silence, to his aged, loving (and so, so angry) parents, and silently judging sister. He remembered who he was, before Voldemort, and Death Eaters, black robes, white masks, dark magic…and Adrian.

            Marcus had had no convictions beyond what he loved. Marcus would have burnt the world for a boy; but the boy had (should not have) been the world.

            Marcus came back, and remembered what it was to love something that loved you back.

 

                                                            You belong here. This is your birthright. You are always home.