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Chapter 1 : The Snow is Silent
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"From the fiends that plague thee thus–
Why look’st thou so?" – with my cross-bow
I shot the Albatross.
The snow is silent. It sends the life away. More than the cold that gnaws at the bones, this thing – this emptiness – eats one whole. Would it be better to divide the soul than suffer beneath the yoke of pain?
He would say yes. He always says yes.
He is gone now. There is no thought of seeing again, hearing again, knowing again. There is only absence and the snow, pale as her graven face.
Once there was a dream. How else is one to begin, head held high, aiming for those regions beyond the heavens whence all dreams come. The wind roars in your ears as you go higher and higher until you hit the roof of the world. Then Icarus screams beneath his flaming wings. Falls. Shatters. Lies still.
It was not I who fell. I watched my sister drop into the sea, one hand raised against the waves before the light dimmed, her eyes meeting mine. I heard Gellert's feet crunch on the gravel walk. He ran and ran to vanish in the mist. There would be no more laughter, no more light.
So I remain, alone. The months have passed, bitter winds beating against the shutters of the empty house, whistling down dust-crusted halls. I have waited for her ghost to appear, but she is safe, freed from the curse that had twisted her magic into a powder keg. She had understood. She knew how it drew her life away, bit by bit, an illness that did not consume, but exude. Magic, not tears, fell from her eyes, her every footstep imprinted with wasted power.
Gellert knew how to use it. A symbol, he had said, to show why and how they need us. Raw magic in all its brilliance, bursting from the fractured soul of a young girl.
As he spoke, his eyes were lamps, pale and burning, like the feverish spots on his ashwhite cheeks.
I would have gone to hell and back on the promise of a kiss. One sweep of his lips across mine, a brush of fingertips on my eyelids, a smile meant for me and me alone. All the glories of the world could pass through my hands for one word to prove that I meant as much to him as he did to me.
At the sound of the church bells, a new century begins. They mourn a death and hearken a birth, and still the snow falls on her grave to catch in the carved letters of her name, the dates of birth and death. The old century, the old ways, they remain here, caught up in the numbers one-eight-nine-nine.
There is laughter in the distance. It fades before I can resurrect him, shaping his form from the dead snow so that a single burning touch could fell him, so that he could melt at my feet as I had at his.
I will go on, remembering that it was I.
I shot the Albatross.
Author's Note: the quotation is from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner".
It's interesting to compare the story of the Mariner to that of Dumbledore, who likewise suffers in the wake of a mistake. However, I've made Ariana's death less of a mistake than it is in canon.
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