Chapter 1 : Exit Music
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-John Milton, Paradise Lost
1979 – I have recently lost a lot of weight and a lot of sleep. I have not really eaten properly for a long time; I’ve been Banishing the majority of the food as far as I can as discreetly as I can, because I do not want to upset Kreacher – or Mother, for that matter.
Despite that, I think it may be too late not to upset Kreacher. I did get us into this farce after all.
I look like an Inferius already.
I wonder how Sirius & Andromeda & Uncle Alphard are doing.
I suppose it is too late to wonder about the living.
One night, he dreams he is a wolf. He knows this is a dream because the wolf shows no sign of true wolfishness; he is packless, and there is a melancholy soaking through his pelt, like the cold, for it is December 1312 and he is in the dark forests of northern Europe.
Regulus in bed on a summer’s night in London is shivering and whining in his restless sleep.
He pads softly down to the grandmother’s shack. In the laconic brutality of dreams, he does not know how he arrives there. He kills the Dark witch inside with a swipe of his paw. He is not a wolf, but an Animagus – new powers as the dream demands – now he is in her dress as the girl arrives.
In the laconic brutality of dreams, in the despondent irony of dreams, he is tried and drowned in the bitter cold as a witch.
Dreams are nothing. Regulus will not remember his in the morning.
Two years into the future, two dreamers will be murdered, a third will be driven into hiding and insane with guilt, a fourth will be broken in Azkaban, and a fifth will enter the next chapter of the long suicide note of his life.
Regulus will have been dead for some time. Dreams will be nothing.
He looked determinedly into the old eyes of the last person his seventeen-year-old heart truly cared about in the world. Kreacher’s mind had not been quite the same since the Dark Lord had abused it, and so for once, the elf was uncharacteristically quiet and still.
At least I won’t have to worry about that happening to me, he thought, the conjured goblet shaking slightly in his hand as he raised it to his lips.
Picture the scene: dark, dark like the magic that brings you here and lets you in, dark like the magic you will not be able to fight.
The cave is the open mouth of a poisoned corpse, if said corpse is not long dead: slimy, dark and cold. It is a place of eternal shadow, where the Inferi do not live.
It’s not terrifying until you reach the lake. Water is generally transparent; this is black, the mockery of a grave for the undead. The lake is infested with them, mindless not-beings who kill roughly and clumsily, climbing over each other to reach for your weak, soft flesh and your fragile bones.
You have a single wooden previously-invisible boat, which is almost impossible to see, wandlight or no wandlight (your wand these Inferi have learned to go for first, the instrument of all your power, broken in an indifferent snap). The boat is lightweight, it is breakable, it rocks sickeningly as it goes painfully slowly to your destination.
Below, arms and legs lie in suspended animation, like grotesque puppets. They are what you will become.
the mind collapses, death and fear on your tongue as the carnival begins –
and they all laughed at that poor mudblood as i scuttled like a cockroach alongside them the girl screamed in pain her name was dorcas oh merlin oh salazar oh fuck dorcas don’t die not again
and i scuttle like a cockroach alongside them
sirius spat at me he is lucky he is lucky he is brave
i was alone in this madhouse of duty and pain though he hadn’t left yet couldn’t find his wand i hid it in the bathroom to keep him here for a few more minutes because i’d miss him when he went
it was enough time for mother to start on him again as kreacher and i scuttled like cockroaches to somewhere safer it was my idea it was my idea
and i scuttle like a cockroach to the window where i wait all night for an owl which never comes my fault my fault mine
– there is more to despair than simply regret – the mind collapses, death and fear in your throat as the carnival begins –
The boy opened his eyes to the Inferi glow with a crazed smile.
“Come on then, you bastards,” he said, in the voice of Sirius Black.
A/N: For those of you who were wondering, Danse Macabre is translated into 'Dance of Death' in English.
So I had no idea what I was doing while I was writing this story; I've just been reading a lot of Gothic horror and had an attempt at re-imagining some of it. What d'you think? Weird? Unnecessarily melodramatic? Did I cop out of describing the full effects of the Drink of Despair?
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by J K Stevland