chapter banner by ailhsa @ TDA
The wind blew mightily down at the grounds, and nature danced at its trumpeted music.
War was a distant memory, yet here was Melinda staring at the rows of headstones with one similarity. They all died in 1998. It was now 2015.
The reason she was standing there was her mother.
Melinda Black felt no real connection to the Second Wizarding War, but her mother insisted that today, on the day to celebrate souls, they would watch as families gathered around their dead to pray.
There is a blank face amongst the crowd of the dead that roamed the halls of Hogwarts. Melinda has always noticed it. He lurks in the shadows of the school, too afraid to pretend to feel the sun grace his skin unlike most others. He is quiet in his loneliness. He is hidden, always.
It is when the sun sets and the moon lights the way that he can finally be seen.
He sits by the fountain of the inner ward, always ever so silently.
He swishes a finger in the water, but never able to make a ripple. Everything that he touches doesn’t know how to register him. He is unknown. He is undead, but dead.
He didn’t die at the grounds of the school. He’d been dead long before the great battle had begun. And maybe, he’d long been forgotten as well. He doesn’t remember how he got there. Death had been like a lifetime.
Melinda quietly made her way to the fountain, and took a seat across from him.
He’d known for some time that she’d been watching him. He had no particular problem with being watched, but approached was different. He didn’t quite know how to look at her, let alone address her, but he knew her for he’d been watching her too.
He’d been running since Voldemort had infiltrated the Ministry. Survival was not a key skill of his. It wasn’t something he thought he’d needed to hone. But running meant staying true to his beliefs. Mostly, it gave those he loved a chance to be safe. Safety was everything. In this way, at least he could assure life for his beloved.
The belly that he had stuffed over his married years weighed him down heavily. His lungs threatened to collapse every mile. His legs shook even as he sat on warm grassy grounds. His arms were flabby with no real muscle. But at least the fat gave him ample time.
He didn’t always have to search for food despite the grumbling and the faintness. He could do every two days without looking for food. And despite his better judgment, food was the last thing he ever thought about.
Wherever he ran, it was always towards the forest.
The forest is a haven for shelter, hiding, heat, and then food. It’s always dark under the shades of trees. He never had to truly worry whether he’d be found whenever he was under their cover. He was safe as long as he kept his wand by his side and his wits about him.
Winter approached ever so swiftly. The wind was always mighty in its blow. Heat was hard to come by unless he decided to gather wood.
Despite having companions to ease the loneliness and the tasks needed to be done, he found no real solace.
They always talked about Voldemort this, Harry Potter that.
Until speaking his name became their undoing.
It was a cold winter’s night, while the snow was falling, blanketing the ground completely white.
He’d forgotten to eat the morning before. His head was feeling less cooperative. His hands lay lazily beside him as he rested against a naked tree.
His companions were irked at the lack of food and heat.
They warmed themselves with heated conversation again about Harry this, and unfortunately, Voldemort that.
He remembered closing his eyes for a moment before the thunderous crackling and popping interrupted their camp. A rush of black dressed, hooded men came rushing at them, wands at hand, spells ablazing.
It was a thunderstorm accompanied by the snow.
He shot to his wobbly feet, almost unable to balance himself. His belly had long been gone, replaced by the emptiness that couldn’t be filled. His shirt was too large for him now. His pants drooped, held by a flimsy old belt that he’d thankfully grabbed then.
It all seemed like a long time ago.
The smiles of his wife and his daughter were no longer vibrant in his memory. He couldn’t properly remember the first day he’d set eyes on the most beautiful girl in school. He couldn’t remember kissing her by the fountain of the inner ward of Hogwarts. He couldn’t remember holding his baby girl in his arms for the first time. He couldn’t remember being happy that his daughter found someone she loved. He wouldn’t have a memory of his daughter giving birth to his grandchild.
All that was in his mind was how hungry he’d been for ages. The only things registering in his mind were stay free and stay alive.
His hand quickly gripped at his wand. A new found energy surged through him. He flicked his wand, reverted a spell back. Flick. Flick. Swing. He continued.
The Snatcher at the end of his angry spells doubled back, alarmed, unable to keep up.
He swung over and over again, hitting random other Snatchers, and finally, his opponent fell on their back.
Quivering, the Snatcher searched for a nearby weapon.
His eyes had long lost its shine.
He pounced at the poor Snatcher, his body slamming heavily down with the force of gravity on his side. There was a soft crushing sound beneath him that he could not be bothered with. He took his wand, raised it high and plunged down.
He began to stab the Snatcher over and over again, lost in his inhibitions. He repeated the motion without a care where it would land.
He stabbed once more down past the first layer of skin, digging down onto the rib cage, a smile forming on his face. Down he pressed on, enamored by the contorted expression on the Snatcher as he did.
Then he saw the eyes.
He sniggered, still sat upon the Snatcher.
He released his wand, letting it rest where he had pierced it.
With his bare hand, he curled his fingers into the hollows of the Snatcher’s eye and gouged it out.
He snorted in triumph.
He thought of feasting that night, of having a full belly for once since running.
His head slowly fell back, his neck craned uncomfortably. His shoulders slumped. He felt his body sway side to side, and warmth trickling out. He looked down. He watched red release itself from his heart. He saw the hilt of the blade, belonging to the Snatcher below, pierced through him.
A one last fight.
Together, they were neither human. They were animals fighting to exist.
He let out an absurd chuckle. He got up, straining the last of his reserves and pushing his wand deeper into the Snatcher. The Snatcher was gone first. That was important. He smirked, this time sure that he had won.
He felt a pang of pain. He’d been stabbed once more on the belly that was once full.
He tried to turn around, but this Snatcher kept him in place, replicating what he had done. The knife twisted in place, and he bit his lip to stifle a wince.
He took the blade of the knife in his hand, holding it tight. He pulled with all his might to be released, to the Snatcher’s surprise. He unhinged the knife from his heart and ended it there.
He rested under the shadow of a naked tree with five other bodies, two belonging to his companions. He was the last. He let his eyes close and for winter to lull him to sleep.
Melinda watched him grow even more solemn, lost in the darkness of his past.
He told her, war shows what a person can be, but doesn’t have to be.
He tried to affect the water of the fountain again, to no avail. This fountain where he’d first fallen in love didn’t know who he was.
She stared at him in observation.
He leaned in closer to whisper one last thing before dawn, “We have no savior.”
author's note: I had a different ending in mind, which I tried to push and make work, but this is the ending that the story made sense with. I would like to writing more about this in my fic considering that I did use my OC, Melinda Black. Or maybe another one-shot.
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