Happy Birthday Harry

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   Harry walked along the sidewalk, feeling a bit wobbly. He took off his glasses and squeezed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger in an attempt to stop the dizziness. As his head cleared, he took a breath and put them back on. Being on solid ground had never felt so good.
Ron walked beside him, wearing a smirk. He ran his fingers through his mess of ginger hair as the two of them walked up to the door of 12 Grimmauld Place. He jammed his wand into the pocket of his denim shorts. According to his watch, it was 7:15pm. The two of them were right on time.

“Honestly, Ron. I don’t understand why you insisted that we ride to my house in that bloody flying car of yours. There’s this thing called apparating. I’m not sure you’ve heard of it.” Harry said. He fished around in his pocket for his keys.
“I thought you’d want a special ride for your birthday. Besides, I got splinched that one time, remember? It kind of turns you off from apparating if you don’t have to.” Ron said.
“Right, I forgot about that.” Harry tried to shake off the memory. He wasn’t in the mood to reflect on the Battle of Hogwarts. “Still,” he continued, “It’s been what, twenty-three years since I rode in that car with you? If it’s possible, I think you’ve become a worse driver.”
“Remember when we first rode the car and we were seen by a handful of muggles? Snape really blew his cap over that one, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, he did.” Harry said, smiling at the memory. At the time, there was just fear. The fear of getting in trouble, the fear of getting expelled. Many of the things that scared him back then turned into memories that made him laugh. “Are you coming in?”
“Of course. It’s your birthday. I have to see if my sister made a cake, don’t I?”
“I can always count on you to be there for me, Ron. As long as there’s food.” Harry said. He was only joking, of course. Ron was the most loyal person he knew. Harry fumbled through his ring of keys and opened the door.

     The house was pitch black and uncharacteristically quiet. It looked like no one was home.
“Merlin’s beard, where is everyone?” Harry asked. He felt around for the light switch and led Ron down the now-lit hallway. He turned more lights on as he moved through the house. In the dark living room, a shuffling noise could be heard. “Hello?” He turned on the lights and his heart practically leapt out of his chest.
“SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY!” The room full of people shouted. Everyone was there: Ginny and the kids, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Hagrid, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, George, Bill and Fleur, Percy… Even Kingsley Shacklebolt and Professor McGonagall were there.
“What’s the minister of magic doing at my birthday party?” Harry asked. Ron shrugged.
“People don’t forget it when you save the bloody world. You’re a popular bloke, mate. Just enjoy it.”
“You knew about all of this?”
“Of course.”

“Happy birthday, Harry!” Hermione said. She wrapped her arms around Harry and squeezed him tight. She pulled away, still keeping a hand on his shoulder. She turned her attention to Ron.
“You guys are just on time. You were brilliant, honey.”
“I try.” Ron said, grinning a huge grin.
“It was Ron’s job to keep you out of the house until we were ready.” She said to Harry.
“That explains the flying car.” Harry said. Hermione gave Ron a playful glare.
“You made him ride around in that deathtrap?” She asked him.
“It worked, didn’t it?” Ron said.
Harry laughed. He couldn’t help but smile. It had been a while since the three of them hung out together. It felt as natural as ever. He adjusted his glasses and noticed for the first time that there was a small crack in his left lens. A biproduct of reckless driving. Hermione noticed, too, and whipped out her wand.

“No matter how old we get, some things never change.” She pointed her wand toward Harry’s face and spoke in her clear, precise voice. “Oculous reparo.” Before he could blink, his lens was fixed. He pulled his glasses away to get a better look and then put them back on. That spell never ceased to amaze him. 

     “Like old times. Thank you, Hermione.” He said.
“Daddy!” An excited voice squealed. Lily jumped into his arms and wrapped her legs around him like a little monkey. Harry hugged her tight and kissed her hair.
“I missed you today, Princess.” He said. Albus, his youngest son, ran over and clung to his leg. James walked over soon after and presented him with a drawing.
“The three of us made this for you. Happy birthday, Dad.” James said. Harry took the piece of paper and immediately teared up. It was a drawing of their family: him, Ginny, James, Albus and Lily. Harry’s hair was colored blue, Ginny’s face was drawn green, and Lily drew herself with fairy wings. A spell was placed on the drawing (probably by Ginny) that made the figures in the drawing smile, wave and dance around. It was a picture of a happy family. It was the best gift Harry could have asked for.
“Thank you so much. This is brilliant, really.” Harry said. He put Lily down so he could wrap all his kids up in one, giant hug. When he stood up again, he was greeted by Ginny, who wrapped her gentle arms around his waist and kissed him on the cheek.
“I thought we were having a quiet dinner at home” Harry said.
“I may have told a white lie.” Ginny said. She leaned in and kissed Harry on the lips, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her fingers in his hair. She giggled as she pulled away, and he could feel her cool breath on his face. Her breath smelled like peppermint.
“Open up, you.” She said. She held a cookie up to Harry’s mouth and he took a small bite. It was soft, buttery, sweet and delicious.
“That’s amazing. Truly. I don’t know how you do it.” He said.
“I may have had some help from my mum. And from the enchanted spoons.” She said.
“Harry, it’s good to see you.” Mrs. Weasley said.
“You look good, Harry. You don’t look a day over twenty-five.” Mr. Weasley said. Harry hugged his mother and father in law. He was amazed that everyone he loved was together in one place, in his own home.
“It’s good to see you, Harry.” A soft voice said. Harry looked up to see Luna’s sweet, sincere smile.
“I’m glad you could make it, Luna.”
“Oh, yes. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Not to mention, I did miss my adorable godkids. Here, I’ve made you a charm.” She handed him a thin, braided bracelet that held a small, glass amulet with a gentle, yellow glow. “It’s supposed to give you a year’s worth of good luck. You wear it on your ankle when the sun goes down.”
Harry took the charm. It was quite lovely. He wasn’t so sure he would actually wear it, but he appreciated the sentiment.
“Thanks, Luna. I’ll save it for a rainy day.” He said.
Lily reached up for Luna and Luna scooped her up in her arms. She walked over to the snack table and gave Lily a cookie.

Hermione placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “You’ve done so well, Harry. Sirius would be truly proud of you.”
“And your parents, too, mate. They’d all be so proud. I know it.” Ron added. Harry felt a lump rise in his throat.
“Thanks, guys. I think you’re right.” He said. Ginny reached out her hand and Harry held it in his.

“Come on. Let’s go say hi to everyone else so we can get started on dinner. I’ve made all your favorite foods.” She said.
“Brilliant. I’m starving.” Harry replied.
“Me too.” Ron said.
“What else is new?” Hermione joked. She stroked Ron’s hair and looked at him with playful, loving eyes. She rested her head on his shoulder, their fingers intertwined.

Ginny led Harry around the room and he greeted all of his friends and loved ones. All the friends and loved ones who came to be there on his birthday. As he felt Luna’s charm resting in his pocket, he realized how lucky he already was. He had friends. He had a family. He had more than he could ever ask for.
This was the best birthday ever.

#CreativeWriting, fiction, short stories, my writing, fan fiction

My Top 10 Inspiring Songs

demi

1. Skyscraper by Demi Lovato

2. My Heart Beats For Love by Miley Cyrus

3. Who Says by Selena Gomez

4. F*ckin’ Perfect by P!nk

5. Firework by Katy Perry

6. Brave by Sara Bareilles

7. Daydreaming by Paramore

8. Stronger by Kelly Clarkson

9. The Climb by Miley Cyrus

10. Fight Song by Rachel Platten

#Music

#MyThoughts

Pussy Riot, Free The Nipple, and a Culture of Rebellion

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11:  Director Lina Esco attends

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 11: Director Lina Esco attends “Free The Nipple” New York Premiere

Recently, on Netflix, I watched Lina Esco’s film, Free The Nipple. The film is about a woman named Liv who leads a movement to decriminalize female toplessness. Based on true events, the women who participate in the movement take a stand for gender equality by going topless in New York City. In the early stages of this protest, several of the women are arrested, in spite of the fact that female toplessness is legal in New York. The women are able to get a lawyer to defend the legality of their actions, and as time goes on, they are able to grow the movement to include more women. After finding it difficult to release the film, Esco starts the #FreeTheNipple campaign to bring more attention to the issue.

At first glance, this film and movement might seem a bit shallow. After all, there are more important issues than a woman’s right to walk around without wearing a top. However, the film makes several valid points. If a man wants to walk around topless on a hot summer day, he is free to do so. If a woman wants to this, it is socially unacceptable, and in many places, illegal. The more important issue that this movement addresses is the fact that it is illegal for women to breastfeed in public in 35 states. In some places, an exposed nipple can land a woman in jail for up to three years and can cost up to $2,500 in fines.

Supporters of the movement argue that female breasts are not so different from male breasts. Both men and women have nipples, and yet on women, they are somehow considered to be more provocative in our culture. In the film, one or two women who go topless for the movement have breasts that have been scarred or altered, presumably by cancer. This highlights the fact that a woman’s breasts are not always meant to be sexualized. In fact, they don’t have to be sexualized at all. In some countries, women walk around topless out of convenience, because it is hot and they are doing strenuous activities, like carrying large containers of water. Sexualizing a woman’s breasts is a learned behavior, not a natural one.

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 26:  Pussy Riots  Maria Vladimirovna Alyokhina and Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova performs at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 26, 2015 in Glastonbury, England.  (Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND – JUNE 26: Pussy Riot

Another film I watched on Netflix is Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer. This film is a documentary about the Russian, feminist, punk-rock protest group, Pussy Riot. In February, 2012, five members of the group staged a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They performed their song, “A Punk Prayer,” in which the lyrics include phrases like “Banish Putin!” and “god shit” (referring to their desire for a separation of church and state). This was not the first time that the girls performed, but it is the performance that got them the most attention, and the performance that got them arrested. Three of the members, Nadezhda, Maria, and later, Yekaterina were taken into custody by the police. The other two members managed to escape, and are said to have left Russia in fear of prosecution.

In addition to calling for a separation of church and state, Pussy Riot’s performance in the Cathedral was meant to protest the Orthodox Church leader’s support of Putin during his campaign. However, they’re message may not have translated the way they may have hoped. Many members of the church were insulted by band’s performance, and felt that the members disrespected them in their own home. The three women who were arrested were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. After a long and high-profile trial, they are each sentenced to two years in prison.

In their final statements, the women apologize for insulting the members of the church, explaining that this was never their intention. They argue that the reasons for their imprisonment are invalid, and that they have nothing against religion or the church. Their protest was strictly political and their way of standing up for human rights, as well as protesting a leader who they consider to be a dictator. One member, Yekaterina, is freed, after it is argued that she never actually had the chance to participate in the performance before the arrest occurred.

While I had heard of Pussy Riot, I never knew their full story before watching this documentary. Many people in the U.S feel that the Pussy Riot members should not have been sent to prison. Famous figures and organizations such as Madonna, Sting and Amnesty International have spoken out against this arrest for peaceful protest and creative expression. I agree, and feel these women were brave to express themselves the way they did (and the way they continue to do so today).

TORONTO,  - JUNE 28, 2015 - The Grand Marshalls for this year's parade. From left, Celina Jaitly, David Furnish, Cyndi Lauper, Pussy Riot (Petya Verzilov, Gala and Nadya Tolokonnikova) and Youth Ambassador Brendan Jordan. Toronto Pride 2015 took over the downtown core as the annual Pride Parade wound itself through the downtown. Photographed on JUNE 28, 2015.

TORONTO, – JUNE 28, 2015 – Pussy Riot: Toronto Pride

'Free The Nipple' Fundraiser Hosted By Russell Simmons

‘Free The Nipple’ Fundraiser Hosted By Russell Simmons

    So, what do Free The Nipple and Pussy Riot have in common? The first and most obvious is that both involve protesting against the social and/or political structures that have been established in their societies. While I would say that Pussy Riot is dealing with the heavier issues, both films portray women who are willing to fight for freedom. They are willing to go against popular opinion. They are willing to risk getting arrested for what they believe in.

One thing I found interesting about Free The Nipple was that the film occasionally showed television clips about the tragic Colorado shooting in 2012. The audience sees someone who committed a terrible crime getting arrested by the police. Then, the audience also sees Liv and other women getting arresting for the (perfectly legal) act of walking around topless. I thought this was an important comparison, and I thought about it later when I watched the film about Pussy Riot. The definition of crime can be something as terrible as a mass shooting, but it can also be something as nonviolent as a woman exposing her breasts or a group of musicians singing a song.

You can say what you want about the Free The Nipple campaign, and you can say what you want about Pussy Riot. But there’s one fact that cannot be denied– Rebels make waves. As mentioned earlier, Pussy Riot has attracted the attention and support of many public figures. Free The Nipple has also gained support from celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Lena Dunham, and Liv Tyler. Pussy Riot continues to fight for freedom, social justice, and LGBTQ rights. And the Free The Nipple campaign continues to fight for gender equality. Both groups are proof that we can change the world if we are willing to use our voices to fight for what we believe in, even if it means going against the grain.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11:  Director Lina Esco attends

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 11: Director Lina Esco attends “Free The Nipple” New York Premiere

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot perform on The Park Stage during the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 26, 2015 in Glastonbury, England.  Now its 45th year the festival is one largest music festivals in the world and this year features headline acts Florence and the Machine, Kanye West and The Who. The Festival, which Michael Eavis started in 1970 when several hundred hippies paid just £1, now attracts more than 175,000 people.  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND – JUNE 26: Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot perform

#MyThoughts

I Want To Fall In Love With You

Holiday heart lights

I want to fall in love with you
I want to memorize your smile
I want to hold you in my arms
I want to keep you safe and warm

I want to fall in love with you
With all your quirks and flaws
With every freckle and every scar
With all your hopes and dreams

I want to fall in love with you
Each and every day
So I can show you how much I love you
And so you will always know you are loved.

-Ashley Lilly

#poetry

I Hope You Know You Are Loved

Heart-shape island floating in tropical ocean

Heart-shape island floating in tropical ocean

I hope you know you are loved
That there are people wishing on stars
For a friend like you
Knowing they’d be lucky to have you

I hope you know you are loved
That angels were singing for you
On the day you were born
And that they continue to bless you each day

I hope you know you are loved
That the stars shine for you
From the depths of the atmosphere
And that the sun seeks to brighten your days

I hope you know you are loved
That the raindrops form a melody for you
Rocking you to sleep at night
And letting the flowers bloom for you in the morning.

-Ashley Lilly

#poetry