Chapter 3 : Charity
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“How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”
- William Shakespeare
“Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.”
- Norman B. Rice
“Are you more comfortable now, Mr. Ollivander? I know my lap isn’t as good as a pillow, and I have been told my knees are rather lumpy, but I suppose it’s better than lying on the cold floor.” Her voice was soft, innocent still.
“Child,” the broken, old man whispered in a gravelly voice. “Your very presence is a comfort, a light in the dark, and one I thought never to have again.”
Draco hid behind a stone pillar – unseen – listening and watching the faint shadows cast by the tiny flickering light on the grey wall; impersonal actors playing out the plot he couldn’t bring himself to turn and witness in flesh. He’d brought the daily meal to the prisoners more than half an hour ago as ordered; he should have returned to the upper chambers, but something held him back.
“You mustn’t give up, Mr. Ollivander,” she chided gently. “Harry and my friends will save the world – they’re good at that – and then when they’re done someone will come find us. Lost things have a way of turning up, if you just don’t worry too much.”
It was a lie. Draco knew that. He sat frozen in the meetings, listening, numb and dead. He knew what would happen. Ollivander would die. The girl would suffer in pain and darkness, innocence ripped away, until even her light was snuffed out. Potter, Weasley, Granger…they would all be found. The Dark Lord would laugh at them, that soft, gentle laugh that made Draco want to be sick, and then with a flick of his wand they would fall dead.
Except for Potter. Potter’s life would not end quickly or easily…
In the end, the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters would win, magical superiority would reign…and all Draco could think of was that he was so tired of the dark.
Ollivander didn’t answer Luna. Apparently Draco wasn’t the only one who knew how to keep score.
“It’s Christmas Eve, you know,” continued Luna quietly. “Father Christmas will be out. I hope Dad remembers the biscuits for him this year. They are his favorites.”
Christmas Eve and Father Christmas. Draco had actually forgotten. He was rather certain the Dark Lord’s plans didn’t include trivial, human pleasures like Christmas.
Silence fell, and the shadows grew tall and wavered as the candle burned low. Still, Draco lingered, waiting, but for what, he wasn’t sure.
“The light will be gone soon, Mr. Ollivander,” whispered Luna, and for the first time her voice quavered slightly, frightened. “I’m not very fond of the dark.”
“It’s always dark here,” the old man replied softly.
How true that was; in the cellar with the prisoners, in the Manor above, in the ever-darkening world beyond its gates.
“Per—perhaps the light will last,” she stammered. “I remember a story my Grams used to tell. About some rebels and a light that wouldn’t die. They were outnumbered, you see, fighting a war everyone knew they couldn’t win, but they were right and good so they kept fighting.”
Her voice was suddenly growing in strength and Draco found he wanted to know – needed to know how this story ended.
“They were called the Maccabees, and their people had been conquered and told what to do by the Greeks. They were told they couldn’t be who they were, told they had to change. But they didn’t want to, so they fought back. For five years they fought back, even when everyone told them it was silly and that they should stop.”
The candle flickered and spit and the light waned to a watery glow, its wax almost gone. Draco heard Luna draw a sharp breath, but then she continued with her story, and for some reason he couldn’t explain he was very relieved that she did.
“After the fighting was done, they wanted to fix their temple. They needed to purify it and light their lamps, using only special oil, but the Greeks had ruined all of it. Somehow they found a tiny bit, only it wasn’t near enough. But, when they lit the lamps, a wonderful thing happened! That little bit of oil lasted and lasted, for eight whole days! So you see, Mr. Ollivander, if it could happen back then to the people in my Grams’ story, it could happen again! It is Christmas Eve! The ancient magic is very strong tonight.”
Ancient magic. The Dark Lord was obsessed with finding the ancient magic, but somehow Draco didn’t think it was the same kind Luna meant. Hers sounded more…real.
“You’re mixing up your holidays, sweet Luna,” Ollivander replied with a weak chuckle. “I don’t think your Maccabees celebrated Christmas Eve.”
Draco wondered what the world would celebrate once the Dark Lord won…
“I know that, Mr. Ollivander! That’s not the point! Sometimes, you just have to believe in the light, whatever the source, and then it can find you. Maybe, if we just believe a little bit, our light will last as well, like theirs did. Because it’s Christmas magic!”
At that moment, the candle faded to just a glowing ember and the cellar was plunged into darkness. Draco heard the girl hiss sharply and then sigh.
“I reckon someone else needs the Christmas magic more tonight. Maybe, it’s with Harry.” She paused and then added very softly, “Or with Dad.”
Suddenly, Draco found himself pulling his wand from the folds of his robe. He didn’t know why, couldn’t explain the impulse. It couldn’t be atonement; he wasn’t fool enough to believe the black marks against him could be annulled by silly acts of charity. He couldn’t save a soul he didn’t have, even if he believed it needed saving. But, as he walked silently away and back up the cellar steps, he cast the spell over his shoulder anyway, letting the nonverbal Lumos reignite the dying candle with a tiny, brilliant burst.
At least someone would have light on Christmas Eve.