They enter the room, young little things with wide eyes and even bigger dreams. Graves hovers above the table, watching them trail in one after the other. They take seats on the two rows of uncomfortable chairs, and Graves knows their backs will hurt when they finally get up. He also knows they won’t care, not after what he has to say.
Percival waits until the last one has quieted down before he speaks.
“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known,” he starts. “When I was young and dreamed of glory. You have no control over who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”
His voice is soft, but it carries across the room and resonates against the walls. The Ilvermorny graduates - some of them future Aurors - are looking at him expectantly, and Graves takes care not to step too close to them as he unravels his speech. He knows how cold his touch can be.
Graves raises his wand arm, showing them the symbol Grindelwald etched onto his skin back when he had enough breath to scream. The scar is a deep silver, much darker than the rest of his body; a triangle, a line and a circle with jagged edges.
Grindelwald used a knife on him, preferring the method to be much more intimate.
“No one,” Graves continues, “Could have predicted my capture and death at the hands of Gellert Grindelwald, or his infiltration at the very heart of the MACUSA.” He sees the eyes of a girl before him catch on the chain still around his right ankle and doesn’t blame her. "Except maybe Grindelwald himself.”
“This path you’re taking,” Graves says with a breath he doesn’t need, “Will not be easy. Never. You will fall and break and make tremendous mistakes that may result in the deaths of your camarades. It happened to me. It will happen to you. The only way that it might not is if you leave this room this instant and never come back.” No one takes him up on the offer, but Graves didn’t expect them to. “You will also rise and climb and be proud of yourself. You will teach and be taught. You will fight for your life and the life of those you wish to protect.”
“When I first started as an Auror and, later, when I was appointed as the Director of Magical Security, my only wish was to protect my country.“ Graves says. This is the hardest part of his speech, and he wishes words came more easily to him with time, but they don’t.
"I failed,” he admits quietly. “I let the enemy inside, and MACUSA is still recovering from the damage Grindelwald inflicted while he was wearing my face.”
Silence reigns in the room, only broken by the slight cough of a boy and the shuffle of someone’s feet.
“Even the slightest mistake can cost you your life,” Graves says, looking at each face in turn. “It cost me mine.”
“For your sake, for the sake of this country, for the sake of tomorrow: be aware. In your job, in your life; do not become complacent like I did. Do not let yourself be lulled by the comfort of routine. Because then you will make that mistake, and you will fall, and you will not get up again.”
“You don’t get to choose your story,” Graves finishes. “No one does. This is war. But you can make the most of what you have and what you are. So learn. Learn, grow, train and get ready. It will not be easy. But we have to win. And when we finally do… It’ll be worth it.“
I think Auli’i Cravalho seems like a great person based on what we’ve seen of her since she was announced as Moana’s voice actress. So, I’m not trying to antagonize her with this post. But I just want to say, “Why can’t Moana be both?” Disney Princesses have shown plenty of heroism in the different films that feature them. A heroine can be a Disney Princess and a Disney Princess can be a heroine.
Snow White escaped the Queen after the huntsman spared her and the princess’ kindness helped her enlist the help of woodland creatures who helped her find the cottage of the dwarves. When she got there, she convinced them to let her stay by earning her keep. And, even though she was cooking and cleaning for them, she still had those men wrapped around her finger. When she first met them and said “How do you do?” and they didn’t respond, she enunciated, “I said, how do you do?” Yeah, Snow White could be a little sassy. And she was assertive with the dwarves and only let them eat dinner after they all cleaned up and even got Grumpy to do it. So, yes, she fell for the witch’s trick (but she was only 14 and very sheltered in the castle as a scullery maid) and then fell asleep for the last part of the film, so the dwarves and animals had to confront the queen and she could only be woken up the kiss of the prince she liked. But people always seem to forget some of the cool stuff that she did.
Cinderella spent most of her childhood abused by her stepmother and stepsisters. She retained her kindness and never stooped to the mean and petty levels of her family. But that does not mean she just gleefully put up with their crap. She had a little bit sass and had a few sarcastic quips about her stepfamily and their cat Lucifer under her belt. Take this quote, for instance,
“Oh, that clock! Old killjoy. I hear you. Come on, get up, you say, Time to start another day. Even he orders me around. Well, there’s one thing. They can’t order me to stop dreaming.”
Also, the primary lesson Cinderella teaches us is to never give up on our dreams. That as long we believe in them, they can come true. That is a beautiful moral that not just little girls, but everyone can take something away from.
And I’ve explained in another post how there is more to Cinderella than just marrying the prince.
Aurora may have spent most of her film asleep, but she was a little sassy, like with her fairy guardians (she was raised by three women, that’s pretty cool, right?) And she at least had some knowledge about stranger danger when first meeting the prince. It didn’t take long for him to charm her, but she did turn away and dismiss him at first. Also, she left Phillip when she needed to and set the terms for their next meeting. I think she deserves a little credit.
And let’s not forget Princess Eilonwy. She maneuvered through the Horned King’s castle and allowed Taran to team up with her so that they could escape. Also, when Taran made a sexist comment about girls, “what does a girl know about swords, anyway”, oh, boy Eilonwy set him straight.
I also talked about Ariel in that other post which I actually do recommend. But I’ll add a few points here, too. She went all kinds of adventures, including exploring sunken ships and escaping sharks. Many of these exploits of hers are shown in her prequel movie and in the 90′s TV show (and this was long before she met Eric, proving that he as her love interest, does not exclude her from being a capable heroine). Also, she is the one who saved Eric from drowning. And though she made a not entirely wise decision to run away from home and be on land, you at least have to give Ariel props for going after what she wanted, which is something the film makers made a full intent on making apparent (there was an interview from when the movie came out where this was mentioned, but I’m not quite sure where, but I’m sure the peeps that read this could find it if you’re interested :D).
Belle enjoys reading, even though that’s not what women usually did in her time period. She rejects the sexist, egotistical Gaston when he tries to flirt with her, insults her father (then later tries to incarcerate him if she doesn’t marry him) and tries to make her his “little wife”. She dreams of bigger and better things. She sacrifices herself for the sake of her father and later goes out to save him when he becomes ill. Belle does not take the Beast’s crap and even tries to leave when he explodes on her. When she gets attacked by wolves, she does defend herself and when the Beast saves her, she helps him back to the castle after he falls unconscious. She treats his wounds and sets him straight about his anger issues. Her patience and open-minded personality helps Beast slowly regain his humanity. And her love for him helps break the curse over him, his servants and the castle.
Jasmine also took charge. She refused to be forced into an arranged marriage and preferred to marry who she wanted and when she wanted. She did not like being stuck in the castle, and though, like Ariel, she wasn’t that wise in running away, she still took it upon herself to get somewhere. She did not put up with the men in the story deciding her future and called Aladdin out on his lies. Also, she has a pet tiger! That’s pretty freaking cool. Sure, she had to dress up for Jafar and kissed him as a distraction. But she used her beauty against the piggish (actually he’s rather horse-like) Jafar. And Jasmine has also displayed her resolve in the extended Aladdin media, too.
Pocahontas was just as adventurous as the last Disney princesses. She wanted more than to marry the stoic Kocoum. And, though wary, she managed to befriend John Smith and help open his mind to the beauty of the world and accepting people who aren’t the same as you. Colors of the Wind is a perfect summary of what Pocahontas teaches. Her wise, humanitarian ways stopped a conflict between her people and the Europeans. And although she cared very much about John, Pocahontas chose to stay and look after her family, friends and other peers.
Mulan knew that her father was too weak from a previous war injury to be drafted, so she took his place and became a soldier in the Chinese army. Yes, she had to pretend to be a man, but that’s just how it was in her time. Mulan trained and became a skilled fighter. With some help from her friends, she saved her country from invading Huns. ‘Nuff said.
Kida kicked some serious butt in her film (including punching Mole when he said some… things… in her ear) and she took responsibility for the sake of her people, like Pocahontas did.
Tiana worked very hard for what she dreamed of. She did not put up with Naveen’s selfish, narcissistic ways and taught him of what it meant to strive for something truly important in life (while he showed her that there is more to life than work, work, work). Though she could get down on herself, Tiana tried her hardest to obtain her dreams and in the end, refused to let people stop her (like those realtor guys). She become the owner of her own restaurant, just like she always wanted, and helped her late father’s dream become realized as well.
Rapunzel was trapped in a tower for her entire childhood. The reason why she didn’t try to escape is because Gothel pretended to be her mother and insisted that staying in there was for her own good. And being as sheltered as she was, Rapunzel believed her. But when she got her chance, Rapunzel made the decision to leave. She knocked Flynn out and tied him up and didn’t let him go until he agreed to help her see the floating lights like she always wanted to. On their journey, she faced pub thugs and a very intense horse and helped them reveal their better sides. She also did this with Flynn, bringing out Eugene Fitzherbert. Rapunzel used her extremely long hair as a valuable asset on her adventure with Eugene. She stood up to Gothel and was willing to sacrifice her freedom so that he would not have to die. And a tear, her care for him and sorrow over his death combined, brought Eugene back. And it appears that Rapunzel will go on many more adventures in Tangled: Before Ever After in 2017!
Merida loves archery, sword-wielding and horseback riding. She also is very good at those things. She’s very active and goes out to explore, even climbing a tall rock structure at the beginning of the film. Merida is a very capable Disney princess. She also, like Jasmine, does not like her future being chosen for, especially when it comes to marriage. She does make unwise decisions, like trying to give her mother a spell that will make her see things Merida’s way. And it takes her a while to take responsibility for her actions. But she learns to understand her mother better (and so does her mother with her), the two bond, and she does her best to break the curse she set and make everything right again. She learns to be diplomatic and maturely express her thoughts to the men at her castle. She defends her mother and bests her father in a sword match. All the while, Merida still retains her adventurous spirit.
Sofia is a wonderful role model for young girls and older audiences, as well. She helps those in need, even those who have done her wrong (though she doesn’t always forgive people that easily, like when Amber took her amulet and brought a curse on their home- though that was an accident, and Amber, too, is a testament to a character learning to be more responsible and open-minded). She changes the status quo and becomes the first female member of her school’s flying derby team. Sofia makes mistakes, but she learns from them. She goes on many adventures where she and her friends learn important lessons. She’s saved her family and friends numerous times, as well. Also, the film princesses appear every now and again to help bring the moral of the episode home.
Anna is just as adventurous as many of the others I’ve mentioned. And she certainly has good reason, spending her entire childhood behind castle walls, similar to Rapunzel in the tower. She is very brave, going after her sister in harsh winter weather, despite their estranged status. She enlists the help of Kristoff and Sven, treks up the mountain and also confronts the giant snow creature, Marshmallow. And she gave her life to save Elsa. Sure, she took things too far, too fast with Hans, but she was desperate for affection after all those years alone and like some of the other princesses, grew up sheltered from the world. Anna’s parents were dead and she believed that the only other family she had abandoned her. She learned her lesson with Hans, though. And, well, he got what he deserved.
Elsa isn’t a princess, she becomes a queen early on in her film, but Pocahontas and Mulan aren’t technical princesses, either (but they are in the official lineup). So, yeah, I’m going to include her, too. I can’t just have Anna and not Elsa. Elsa dealt with many problems after growing up thinking that her powers were a curse. But after she had some time to herself, she realized that her abilities were actually capable of wonderful feats. She bested Weselton’s goons and almost killed them before Hans intervened. And with Anna’s help, she overcame her fears and brought happiness to her kingdom. And she has been a great ruler ever since.
Elena is a princess learning to rule her kingdom as queen. She defended her family from a wicked sorceress and was stuck in Sofia’s amulet for a few decades. Once she was freed, she defeated the villain and now is becoming a capable monarch while also going on several daring adventures with her family and friends.
So, there is nothing wrong with considering Moana as a Disney princess (I also think it makes sense because she is a chief’s daughter like Pocahontas). She will display brave, empowering traits just like the other royalty before her. A princess can be a heroine just as much as a heroine can be princess. Those two things do not have to or need to be mutually exclusive. Disney has been proving that for decades and with the arrival of Moana this fall, I think we can see that it will continue on for many more years to come.
Just two little monarchs with big dreams: dreams bigger than they can swallow.
This piece is available as a print! This is the first in a series of (hopefully) a bunch to come, so if this doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps one of the others will. And since I’ll be doing all of the printing and production myself, they are pretty cheap! Check it out here!
Note: the print pictured below the cut is a test, so the text and proportions will vary slightly, but it will end up being about 16″ by 8″