Chapter 1 : it began with me and ended with you
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I don't own Fred or George (or anything else from Harry Potter), and I think it goes without saying that I do not own the Shakespeare characters that are referenced at one point in this fic.
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I cannot measure moonbeams by myself. I cannot fathom its dimensions, I cannot hold it in my arms it slips away like pebbles falling through blades of grass.
The grass was wet that night that we measured the moonbeam – we thought that Mother would like to wear the moonlight but we couldn’t be sure of the size – its height and breadth, its depth and width, its longitude and latitude. Where it began and where it ended.
You stood in the moonlight, spread your arms wide like the wings of a hawk that cried in the lonely sky above us, you shouted, “Is this how big a moonbeam is?” I cried nay, have another go! – and you spun round exactly three times counterclockwise and stood on one foot and declared, “Then this is how big a moonbeam is!” I laughed and told you you were a fool, so you stood on your head and laughed back at me, “You are the fool, because this is how big a moonbeam is!”
I sprung up off the grass and joined you in the moonlight, side by side, fingertip to fingertip, our arms reaching to the east and the west, and I looked at you looking at me, and we exalted, “This is how big a moonbeam is!” It was exactly the reach of both of us – no more, no less, it began with me and ended with you…or the other way ‘round, perhaps it didn’t matter.
You posited to me, “What is a moonbeam made of?” and I said, surely, a moonbeam is made of a moon and a beam and it must then be made of cheese like the moon and steel or wood like a beam, and if so then I expected to be able to grab it with my hands, hold tight with my arms, but the moonbeam eluded me like an owl.
You were always the intelligent one, and you lightened me while standing in the enlightenment of the moon, you said, “A moonbeam is made of nothing and also everything.” And you were right.
But what is the purpose of the moon, I asked. “The moon is meant to light the world when the sun has gone away,” you said. The moon had quite an expectation heaped upon it, and so it cried its silver tears – you said they were gold, you silly fool, just because you could flip a Galleon a hundred times and have it land heads up every time but one.
We returned to the garden every night for a month, trying to capture the light using buckets and jars, trying to stuff it in our pockets, trying to wrestle it to the ground only to come up with our hands stained with grass and dew. We shouted at the man in the moon, and he shouted back, and every time I shouted, his voice sounded like you, and when you shouted his voice sounded like you.
For we were Guildencrantz and Rosenstern, or maybe the other way ‘round, it really didn’t matter because it all depended on which jumpers we wore that day – once Mum mixed up the wash and I wore Hamlet’s jumper, oh he was angry! We had bacon for breakfast that morning.
Do you know, I’ve stopped wearing the jumpers – they’re rather pointless now, though sometimes I forget who I am and I haven’t anything to tell me. It’s written in my hands, in the ridges of my fingertips, the creases of my palms, but I always thought palm-reading was rubbish anyway. The moon doesn’t talk to me anymore.
Dad asked me once, “Do you know what the purpose of the moon is?” I said that the moon is meant to light the world when the son has gone away. And I wept that night because I was not the man in the moon and my tears were not silver nor gold they merely stained my pillow until I was drowning in feathers.
I hated the moon, not now, not then, not ever but I had begun to hate it – and oh!, Fred, I forgot why we even tried to capture the light in the first place! One night a piece of moon fell on me, and I brushed it onto the ground and squashed it like a bug. I had no use for it anyway – because, really, you stupid git, who ever heard of marketing moonlight?
The moon doesn’t talk to me anymore, though I cry and scream and beg.
Once I stood on your shoulders and I was certain the moon would be ours. I couldn’t reach, so I swung at it with my Beater’s bat but I missed and hit a star instead. It fell to the earth, and the ground shook with laughter and the countryside was aglow with cool embers, the hope of humanity. And that’s how fireworks were invented.
What am I to do, with no one to lift me? The moon has turned its back on me. It shrouds itself with clouds, it mocks me, you fool, you fool.
I tried so hard, I tried, I tried, please, my brother, please forgive me.
I cannot measure the moonbeam by myself. I went to the garden one night, when the moon was shining bright in the sky, that smug bastard – I measured twenty paces to the north and five to the east and had to start all over again because I couldn’t tell where the moon ended and where it began. I dashed from one end of the garden to the other, but the edges of the moonlight evaded me like bouncing pixies. They thought I was mad, can you believe it?
I stood on my head, I fell to my knees, I lay in the cool, wet grass, and it felt like the ocean, and I found myself drowning in the moonlight. I could not chart its boundaries – it swallowed me up, it encompassed me, it spilled out of my feeble arms and ran in rivers through the grass and all the way to the sea.
I’m sorry. The moonbeam is too big for me alone. The moon cares not that I finally remembered my purpose.
It lights the world when the sun is gone, but only when it wants to.
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