Sunday, April 21, 2013

Truth and Courage

Spike stared glumly at her parchment for Defense Against the Dark Arts.  At the top, as instructed, she had written the phrase describing the assignment:  “Only the difference between truth and lies, courage and cowardice.”  She squirmed uncomfortably on her chair, just re-reading the words.  Courage, sure, but truth?  That was hard to own.

Below she had scratched out several beginnings that had proved fruitless:  "I like yarn."  "Green is my favorite color."  "I think I could be an Auror when I grow up."  All of them true enough, as far as that went, but not really true to the assignment.

"In order to truly, truly defend against the dark arts, one must comprehend one's own darkness." Epona Lutterworth, the Hufflepuff professor on the team had beamed genially at the class as she expounded.  Easy for her to say, though Spike sourly, her darkest secret probably has to do with the time she ran out of chocolate for muffins and substituted cocoa and oil in its place -- and didn't tell anyone!  Oh, the shame.  Oh, the horror.

"And one's light, as well," added the Slytherin professor, looking from under hooded eyes down a knife-bladed nose at the class.  "A dark wizard will not scruple to pull any aspect you strive to conceal and cast it against you.  That may be telling you that you are a worthless wretch who does not deserve to draw breath --"  his expression made it clear that most of the class fell firmly in this category "--or that you have nigh godlike capabilities.  That you can fly, for example."  Several students near the back tittered.  Spike didn't need Legilimency to see that they thought they would never fall for such an old trick, akin to the one about being so powerful that surely you could turn into anything -- including, say, a fly.  He fixed the sniggering set with his gaze, pinning them in their seats as he added,  "That you can cast spellwork far more advanced than is actually possible for you, leading you to do yourself in by channeling a flow greater than you can hold.  Leaving you a burned out husk, less than a Squib."  The temperature dropped several degrees as that thought sank in.

"Knowledge, including knowledge of self, is our most powerful weapon against those who would subvert us,"  concluded Professor Dukelow with a half smile.  "Knowledge of the truth and the courage to share it with the world through our words and deeds."  She flicked her wand, and words of fire traced themselves in the air above the professors' heads.  "We want a foot of parchment, and a practical that reveals something of your character.  Tell us who you really are, when it comes down to your heart; to where you truly live."

Spike sighed, scratching out "I don't like this assignment," "I love chocolate," and "Coffee is God."  Who and what was she, when it all came down to it?  What was the essence of Spike? 

Maybe it would be easier to start with the practical this time.  She pulled out her wand and some white thread, began working the same spell that her grandmother had taught her many years ago.  The white changed as it was pulled through her fingers, darkening slowly, and finally turning emerald green at the end.

Spike made a moue as she looked at it.  Pretty enough, but what does this reveal about me?

She looked around her worktable, hunting for inspiration.  Under a pile of paper, she found a Divination text that she had checked out on cledonomancy.  As good as any other source, she supposed.  Closing her eyes, she tossed her quill in the air, determined to walk in the direction it pointed, and find her idea at the end of the walk. 

When she opened her eyes, it was lying on the bookshelf, atop a text they had been reviewing in Muggle Studies.  The study of ordinary beasts, that life science thingy.  She pulled the text off the shelf, resigned to coming up with something like "turtles" or "spleen." 

The first word on the page was "enzyme."  She read further . . . and further still, finally finishing the chapter, then sitting with the book closed on one finger and pondering.  An enzyme.  I could be . . . no, I am an enzyme.

Returning to her paper, she quickly wrote:  "I am an enzyme.  I am powerful, dark, variable, and can change many things at my whim…even when they’re not supposed to be changed. Muhwahahahahahahaaaa!!! I can be dangerous or wonderful; it’s my choice."

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