Chapter 1 : rage, rage
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doesn't joy, like fear, make no sound?
–the silver lily, louise glück
There was blood drying underneath your fingernails, remember? Remember how we were consumed by the light, remember how at first there was nothing, and then there was a bang, and then they next thing you know, your skin was on fire?
I remember, even if you don't.
In the early days, there used to be a man on the street corner with a fiddle and there was singing woman. She didn't have a particularly beautiful voice and the man's fiddle was always slightly out of tune (you knew that because you played violin until you were thirteen), but we'd open all the windows and let the music envelop us. We danced in the kitchen (you didn't know how to dance, and I had two left feet), laughing until the neighbors complained through the already open windows or we fell asleep standing up.
You used to bake blueberry pies in those days, though they'd always taste more like apple pie (I think it was the cinnamon). I used to boil the water for tea and forget about it, and you'd save it for me.
(You were always better at making tea than I was.)
Sometimes Sirius, Remus, and Peter would come over, and we'd play Quidditch or prank Bathilda Bagshot or take out the Marauder's Map, just for fun, even if it was useless after Hogwarts. Sirius started to get dark circles under his eyes, and I knew the war was keeping him up at night, too, but he'd come into the house humming some Weird Sisters song or another, anyway, just to make us happy. Remus looked tired as always, perhaps even more so. We hadn't been able to go with him on the full moon very much lately, and that was something I would always feel bad about, even later. Peter was Peter, though once in a while he'd get this strange look in his eyes and say he had to go in the middle of a conversation. He'd Apparate in a flurry of long sleeves (it was the middle of summer) and leave a half-finished cup of tea behind. We didn't think much of it; Peter, after all, was Peter, and Peter was prone to odd tendencies.
Your friends came over, too: brash Marlene, gentle Mary, and Alice with her swollen belly, eight months pregnant like you were. "Frank and I are thinking of naming our son Neville after Frank's grandfather," said Alice.
"I'd always wanted to name my child Harry," you replied. "I don't know why, I've just always liked that name."
"What if he ends up being bald?" I asked, a smirk twisting my lips. "Would people still call him Harry?"
You had hit my arm lightly and said, "Don't be silly, James."
When everyone was gone, we would sit on the fat sofa, arms around each other, and picture the future. Our future. I'd rest my hand on your belly, ripe as a peach in the summer, and say, "I think Harry is going to have your brilliant red hair and your amazing green eyes and be devilishly handsome in glasses like me."
"Really?" you asked, placing your hand on mine. "Well, I think he's going to have your messy black hair and hazel eyes, but he'll have my wonderful eyesight. He'll be studious like me and do spectacularly in school and not be in detention every other day like you."
"No way! Harry will be the best prankster Hogwarts will ever see. And even if he's not, we'll have five more children after him, and I'll train them all to be troublemakers. Harry's going to become best friends with Neville and become Head Boy and an Auror like us."
"In the year 1998, we'll see Harry graduate from Hogwarts," you said.
"In 2002, we'll attend Harry's wedding."
"In 2013, our grandchildren will start attending Hogwarts, and we'll wave to them from Platform 9 3/4."
"Two-thousand-thirteen," I murmured quietly. "Wow. That sounds like so far away."
"It's only 33 years away. We'll be 53, and 53 years after that, we'll be 106. We have a lifetime ahead of us," you said, and it sounded like hope. "This Voldemort thing – Dumbledore and us and the rest of the Order will destroy him, and soon we can get back to living our lives like normal. We'll live our lives like we always wanted to; we'll take up old hopes and dreams again and new ones will find their way into our hearts. We can't die. Not now. Not this early. We just can't, James."
In those days, everything seemed eternal.
I was rereading our story again.
I've been doing that a lot lately – flipping through random pages, pulling out phrases from here, there, everywhere. You used to say, "James Potter, you arrogant toerag, I loathe you, I abhor you, I despise you, I detest you, you abominable creature." I’d reply, "Lily-flower, I know you have an extensive vocabulary, but there's only one word for love." Those were the few chapters in which you hated me. Or maybe it was that I thought you hated me, or that you pretended you hated me, or that you thought I thought you hated me, so you strongly disliked me. That doesn't even make sense, and I don't know anymore – everything's a blur now, and the past is the past. Dumbledore probably has something profound to say about it, but I'm too tired to think too hard.
We're only twenty-one.
I feel like I'm already one-hundred-and-twenty-one. The last year has felt like a hundred years by itself. We've had to grow up so fast. Sometimes from the windows (now shut), I like to watch the people walk by. Some of them are twenty-one, too, and they’re nothing like us and everything like us at the same time. They have their whole lives ahead of them.
We used to.
People we know are dying every week. You're crying in the next room, sinking to the floor, salt against walls you once thought were white, but now you're realizing they're light blue, the stale taste of plaster burning in your mouth. I'm trying to be strong for us, and you're trying to be strong for us, and both of us were – are – Gryffindors, but it sure doesn't feel like that anymore.
You're still crying in the next room. I want to put my arm around you and tell you that everything will be okay, but I've never been a good liar, and you've always been able to tell. I read the obituary in the Daily Prophet this morning, and the names are piling up like bodies in a communal grave: Marlene McKinnon, Caradoc Dearborn, Fabian Prewett, Gideon Prewett. Soon it’ll be Mary MacDonald. Soon it'll be Sirius Black. Soon it'll be Lily Potter, James Potter, Harry Potter.
I'm in the room with you now, and we're clinging to each other, and your tears are on my face, and suddenly, we're kissing like there's no tomorrow. Fuck me, you whisper against my neck, hungry, because we haven't done this in months. I make love to you, because 'fuck' is a word too crude for a love so tender. It doesn't matter. I've read the last pages of our story and there's nothing but death written there. The way you pull your body flush against mine asks, 'Why did they have to die, why so young, why people we knew, whywhywhywhy?'
I don't have an answer, but you end up answering yourself.
I'm tired of fighting these futile battles; I'm tired of knowing I've already lost them, you say. There's no discrimination in this war, in death.
You're already writing the last sentence of our story.
I hadn't read that far yet.
You used to say my name at the grocery store, wondering whether you should have bought carrots or turnips. I used to say your name at the crossing of Ephemeral and Infinite Street. You used to say my name while making blueberry-that-tastes-more-like-apple pie. I used to say your name while eating blueberry-that-tastes-like-apple pie. Now we're both saying Harry’s name, because he's the only thing we've got.
Sometimes we like to imagine that the woman with the fiddle and the singing man – or was it the man with the fiddle and the singing woman? – are still there on the street corner. We take Harry and your stupid cat, and all four of us dance in a circle ridiculously and laugh until we think we hear the neighbors complaining Then we open the windows, and the man with the fiddle and the singing woman and the complaining neighbors aren’t there. We cry on your idiot cat until my allergies start up again, and somehow it feels almost as good as the laughter. Harry looks at us (from your green, green eyes) confused, and we smile through our tears and swing him around and around again.
Later that evening, you're praying in the next room (S.O.S, save our souls), and you know everything’s not going to be okay, so I put my arm around you and say, "Everything's not going to be okay."
We're taking the war in one hand and we're taking our lives in the other, and we're holding them up to the afternoon light from the kitchen window and trying to catch the space between them, but it’s like trying to hold water in cupped palms. We're left with wet, cold, dripping hands, and we remember all the towels are in the washing, so oops, better luck next time.
Life starts beating in a new rhythm. It's not as upbeat as the last, but in a way, it's more comforting. I make breakfast in the morning, because I always wake up before you, and at noon, you make lunch, but it always ends up slightly burnt, because you're too busy staring at the window and wishing the music would start playing again. We make dinner together, bumping elbows because the kitchen is small, and it always ends up more than slightly burnt, because our lips taste better than stale meat. At night, we put Harry's tiny body between the two of us. You hold one of his hands, and I hold the other hand, and we hum him to sleep with tunes we thought we'd long forgotten. I feel something taking root in my body, and I look at you and know you feel it, too. It's not the type of love that makes the heaves shatter and the earth crack. It's the type of love where both of us are digging our own graves, but we're digging them together, the type of love where we look into each other's eyes and we can’t help but feel this swelling of hope, wings bursting from our backs, the type of love where I can't tell where you end and I begin.
We've stopped crying against the wall now. Every once in a while, I'll stand there and try to remember what the tears tasted like. They taste different now than how I remember. Less salty, more bittersweet. For all I know, it could be wishful thinking.
"I'm terrified,” I whisper to you later, when we’re both at the window and gazing up at the night sky. I take your hand and place it over my heart. "See how shallow it beats? I'm striving to live, struggling to live."
"We both are," you reply, and you take my hand and place it over your heart. "It's only the beginning, and we have so far to fall."
"So far to fall," I repeat. "And falling is just like flying."
You take my hand and hold it my own, our fingers interlocking, when we’re both at the window and gazing up into the universe.
"I love you," you say softly, so softly it could have just been a whisper, a figment of my imagination.
I grip your fingers tighter, and behind us, Harry gurgles happily.
A/N: The story title and chapter title come from the poem Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas. The poem at the beginning belongs to Louise Glück. My only explanation for this one-shot is that 3am writing is the craziest writing, but it'd be really interesting to hear your thoughts on it! ♥
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