1. The statutes of secrecy
When I was growing up, I couldn’t fathom why my mother, my proud pureblood mother, would think of living amongst Muggles and raising her daughter there. If it had been a tiny village, I could have understood, but a large town like Cokeworth was the furthest away from anything that could have felt magical. It was even less understandable when I heard my mother call for the hundred time: “Remember the statutes, Belladonna!” when I left the house. The statutes of secrecy, ensuring the safety of all creatures of magic from persecution by muggles; or fancy talk for don’t show your magic to anyone or the muggles will kill you. I understood Mother was scared to be found out, and at that time I thought the perfect solution would be to… you know, go live in a wizard community instead. Although, I was glad we never moved: it would have meant missing the friends I made in the neighbourhood. There were no wizards or witches, so I ended up becoming friends with some Muggle children. Mother allowed me to play with them, and visit their houses, but I had to uphold the statutes and never –“Never, ever, Belladonna!”- invite anyone into our home.
“Azkaban is not a place where you want to end up! So, we uphold the statutes.” My mother had never been very original with her warnings, but she instilled a deep fear for the wizard prison. Every now and then, I read in the daily prophet that the ministry of magic was creating more and more dementors to guard Azkaban. For everyone’s protection, they maintained, but I’m sure it was also in the ministry’s interest to have a small army of dementors at the ready. As mother told me, more and more groups that had been repressed by wizards, like werewolves, giants and even house elf sympathizers were finally starting to demand equality for all.
But those weren’t things I had to worry about. My entire world existed out of our house, and the friends I had made while playing outside. When the weather didn’t allow playing outside, I could be found at the Evans household. Lily was rather curious to see where I lived, and Petunia kept asking her sister why. According to Petunia, their home was far superior to any house in the city, and refused to even entertain the thought anything else. Petunia was a few years older than me, and while she could be fun, I always knew she was only hanging out with us to keep an eye on her sister. Lily was only one year older than I, and we got along great. She was my best friend. On countless occasions I almost blurted out something magic related, only to be stopped by a little voice in my head that sounded quite like my mother going “The statutes, Belladonna! Not even your best friend! Remember Azkaban!” That my mother didn’t even know who my best friend was, or who I was playing with at all, didn’t seem to bother her. I knew she always placed a spell on me before I left so she could track me, and would know if I went places I wasn’t supposed to be. It was enough for her, and so she didn’t have to interact with muggles at all. Merlin forbid that the proud Athena Greengrass would have to bring herself to interact with those Muggles. Perhaps the fact that my mother didn’t knew who I was befriending, made it possible for Lily and me to become as close as we were. And so, Lily trusted me with a secret she had been dying to show me. We believed to be alone when Lily levitated the little flower above her hand. We were proven wrong when Petunia jumped up.
“You’re doing strange again! I’m telling mummy!” she called out, immediately running of. All I could think was Another witch! Finally I could share my secrets! I could show her what mother had me practicing! Someone I didn’t have to watch out for! Away with the statutes! While thinking that, my mother’s stern voice reminded me: no one can know. And I remembered Petunia running off. Did that mean that Lily had broken the statutes of secrecy? That they would drag Lily off to Azkaban?
“Never mind her. I told you she wouldn’t understand.” A boy said, staring at the diminishing Petunia. He introduced himself as Severus Snape. He was a frail boy, wearing rather battered black clothes. I had seem him run around before, found ourselves staring at each other, but somehow never even talked. Apparently, Lily had known him for quite a while, and had showed him her magic too. He had showed her what he could do. Petunia had called them both Freaks that time. The explanation didn’t do anything for my panicking nine year old brain. Both of them had been seen practicing magic by Petunia.
“Nobody is dragging anyone off to Azkaban!” And with that battle cry, I grabbed both Lily and Severus home with me. My mother was the smartest person I knew. She would be able to help.
“Don’t worry, Mother can fix this. I’m sure she knows someone in the Wizengamot that can help you.” I tried to calm the others down. Only, neither of them really felt distressed, confused at most. Didn’t they understand? What they had done?
I, off course, realised exactly what I had done when my mother, eyes wide, stared at me and my friends standing in the livingroom. Her teacup made its way towards the floor and without thinking, I stopped it from falling before it fell to pieces. Broken china wasn’t going to make this day any better.
“You can do it too!” Lily had whispered in awe, and smiled at me. Mother didn’t smile.
“Belladonna Greengrass! I told you… I warned you..” mother started sternly, yet out of breath.
“Mother, Lily and Severus showed Petunia their magic. It was an accident. You can’t let them take them to Azkaban.” I pleaded with my mother, while Lily stared around: off course it was the first time she had seen the waving portraits and pictures, the floating candles and the little old house elf wandering around. Severus stood, rather uncomfortable, next to her.
“Lily?” my mother had asked. I could understand that she was confused, because they had never met, but mother looked almost as pale as if I had told her that I showed my magic to the entire city.
“Ah, yes, forgot to introduce myself. Lily Evans, ma’am. I live a few streets away.” She stretched her little hand out towards my mother. For a second the woman only stared, but eventually, grasped the little hand in her own and shook it.
“Athena Greengrass.” She muttered, probably more out of habit that with the intention to introduce. It had taken me years to understand my mothers reaction.
“I never told her about my magic,” I told mother softly. “But we were playing, and she showed me, and… then Severus… and now I have…Can’t you do anything?” I had asked her distraught. That that was what made my mother smile, surprised me most of all.
“It’s fine, Donna. Calm down, dear. No one will take your friends away from you. Lily, as I recall, I don’t think your parents have any magical abilities, do they? Or your sister?” She asked, carefully studying the girl.
“No Ma’am. Not my parents, not Tuny. Although… mom says she has magic kisses.” Lily answered shyly.
“Then you’re a … muggleborn witch. A witch without magical parent. As you might have guessed, Belladonna and I are also witches.” Mother told her. Then her eyes had drifted to my other companion, with a questioning look.
“Severus Snape, Mrs Greengrass. I live at Spinners End. My mother’s a witch too. Her name is Eileen Prince.” The boy told her. Mother nodded curtly.
“I remember your mother. We were sorted into the same house, growing up.” She told him, which made Severus almost breathe in relief.
My mother had gone on to explain Lily a bit about our world. About the statutes of secrecy, off course, but also about the professor of Hogwarts school for magic and wizardry that would come to explain all to her parents and offer her a place to study magic.
“Really? Oh I can’t wait. When will he come?” Lily had excitedly asked my mother.
“He, or she, will come the summer you turn eleven. Because only then, you can attend the school.” My mother explained patiently.
“When you have a magical parent, they can teach you a few things already, though.” Severus chimed in. Mother grinned, looking up and down the boy.
“And I’m sure your mother has told you, that we’re not supposed to.” Which made Severus look a tad bit worried, until mother smiled and winked. She, off course, had been telling me about spells and such. I hadn’t actually practiced anything, even a pureblood would get frowns when she took her nine year old to get a wand, but theoretical knowledge was worth a lot too.
“But then we’ll go the first year, and you’ll only go the year after.” Lily interrupted us, looking sad.
“Then you can teach me over the summer!” I tried to get Lily enthusiastic again. Off course it was sad that we couldn’t go to school together. But I wouldn’t be far behind.
“You will do no such thing.” My mother reprimanded us sternly. “You’ll only be taught by adults. Children teaching other children magic is just plain dangerous. And why else do we have Hogwarts!?” She worried so, even though it would be more than two years before Lily and Severus would attend school.