Chapter 1 : the coming flood
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He has always shied away from this, this responsibility. He has fled chains like a thief in the night, only to be bound by honour once again. The only traps into which he falls are the snares he creates himself. They only multiply with age, as he becomes older (and perhaps wiser). He sets himself more rules and more limits, until he is trapped under this mountain of molehills that he creates. He was once a man of action, young and burning and full of righteousness and resolve. But now he is old, older than the hills and the world is no longer so simple. Now he is old and action seems futile and sleep beckons like a lover. Yes, he is old and tired, but there is no time for rest. There is only time to write.
How to begin? It has always been the most difficult part; the first pen-stroke seems to catch on air as his mind stumbles for the right words, for any words at all. The flowery prose he has thought out disappears, and leaves only curt phrases, as dry as his mouth, more frantic than his tapping feet. How to begin? The beginning, that’s what his friend had always answered, but now his friend is gone and he has lost himself searching for that opening phrase.
My dearest- no, that is far too familiar. They do not speak like that anymore, not even now, with so little time left. There was a time when the words flowed easily, a seamless connection from thought to paper. There was once a time when his letters to this man spoke of love, loss and a tireless lust for power. Everything they had in common, everything that seemed to make their differences insignificant, invisible. But he has changed, and his friend has changed as well.
How he longs to be as they were, together a walking controversy, a living contradiction of all that the wizarding world held dear. They spoke of love and revolution, and never saw the paradox in their goals. And then one turned to dark and one turned to light and the paradox was clear, and love disappeared until duty took its place. Yes, they were once shining beacons, but no longer. Now they are just broken idols, shattered relics of another time.
This paper and pen have struck down too many bodies since, and this soul is battered and weary, having weathered too many storms to ever be whole again. It is not split, but old and eroded and ready, so ready to rest. Resurrection does not come naturally to him, not when he thought himself dead. But, naturally, it is necessary, for the greater good. He shudders at the phrase, one he repeated often in his youth, and turns his mind back, into the past.
It haunts him still, that fight. Not the duel, but the skirmish. So short, and so wickedly long. Which one of them did it? Which one of them killed her? He will never know, and it eats at him slowly. A filthy worm that gnaws away his mental blocks. He quails at the coming flood of memories, and they reduce him to dust, to ashes, to madness. He does not want to be reminded: he is a thief, a murderer, an unrepentant sinner, and however much he may try to wipe the stain from his past, it stays stubbornly in place, like blood in linen.
How strange it is, this attempt at redemption. How odd for this pen, for this desk, for this hand. His words here have made and broken dynasties. A sentence from him can tilt the world on its axis. How true indeed that the pen is mightier than the sword, for is any weapon so deadly as words? An address and a time: that was all it takes. Slanted writing on ripped parchment and an eternity is extinguished. And how many times has he cried for his crimes? Why, none at all.
He cannot think for all this hellish blankness in his eyes, an all encompassing nothingness that seems to swallow him whole. The silent accusation cripples him, it stays his hand, stymies his words, some inner part of him revolts against this atonement. He does not deserve to be saved, in truth. But this too is true: he does not want to believe that he still may have a chance.
He remembers the letters he wrote as a boy (on this desk with this pen), and longs for his youthful eloquence, as well as his youthful certainty, and his youthful love. But these have all grown sour, rotting in his age like his teeth and his memories. His eyes flit to the drawer in his desk.
His correspondent, he too had the genius (though far darker than either of them knew). He still remembers what they were as boys: stars, bright and shining, but long dead. They were already burnt out, things of the past, even before they began. They already knew what they were meant to do, even before they started, just as he knows that this, too, must be done.
He takes a deep breath. And he writes.
My dearest friend.
This is the last time I will write to you. This is the first time I have written in years. And he is coming for me. I have found one now, though the others still elude me. Remember when we dreamed of uniting them? But it will never be, my old friend - no more will our ambition live. How I wish we could be as we once were, instead of burned out old men; two boys, genius boys, working towards the greater good. Do you remember? Ah, memory is a twisted lane, and of late I have found that much of it is drenched in shadow. You yourself must have these troubles. It is no longer clear to me what I must do, and my memories tell me nothing except which path I must not take. Perhaps I must take action. Perhaps I must hide away, for I know too much that I may never tell. I do not know, but I feel I can no longer ignore this unrest. Give in, or fight? My dearest friend, I must ask you, for the last time, for your counsel, for I fear my time is short upon this earth. Please remember me fondly. I hope you have found forgiveness in your heart, as I have found in mine. For the greater good.
For the greater good, I hope you have found forgiveness in your heart, as I have found in mine. Please remember me fondly, for I fear my time is short upon this earth. My dearest friend, I must ask you, for the last time, for your counsel. Give in or fight? I do not know, but I feel I can no longer ignore this unrest. Perhaps I must hide away, for I know too much that I may never tell. Perhaps I must take action. It is no longer clear to me what I must do, and my memories tell me nothing except which path I must not take. You yourself must have these troubles. Ah, memory is a twisted lane, and of late I have found that much of it is drenched in shadow. Do you remember- two boys, genius boys, working towards the greater good? How I wish we could be as we once were, instead of burned out old men. But it will never be, my old friend - no more will our ambition live. Remember when we dreamed of uniting them? I have found one now, though the others still elude me. And he is coming for me. This is the first time I have written in years. This is the last time I will write to you, my dearest friend.
A/N: So, which one do you think the story is about? Or do you think it's both?
I'd love to hear your thoughts, criticism and all, so please feed the little grey box on your way out!
The opening sentence "He stares at the paper and pen on his desk, and they seem to stare back." is adapted from Write World's sentence blocks.
The title comes from a figure in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 5:21-27). The summary is one of the translations of the name Methusaleh, while the chapter title refers to the story of his death.