Chapter 1 : When the Time is Right
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A HUGE thank you to visenya@TDA (Beeezie on the forums), for this absolutely perfect CI. She captured Ignotus' character perfectly, and with just one photo!
I watch over the Earth, observing their fleeting lives. I do not judge, that is not my job. I am not to interfere, save for rare occasions when my existence is defied.
Which never happened before he came, nor will it again for hundreds of years.
A familiar voice calls out, summoning me. Spreading my colossal wings, I answer his plea. The finality of the situation unearths emotions I have never felt.
I am searching for my equal.
A soft wind blew through the trees, cooling the unusually warm temperature. The sun sunk low, only moments from setting. The radiant colors overhead were a beautiful orange, dotted with pale purple shades of impending dusk.
“Father, must you go?” my son asked, his lip trembling.
“We have discussed this son. It is my time. One day it will be yours,” I said with a heavy heart. “Fear not, we will see one another again.”
“I promise,” I answered, lifting him into a tight embrace. I set him back down, and ruffled his hair affectionately. “This is not good-bye.”
My son nodded, tears springing from his large eyes. “I love you father.”
“I love you too,” I said as I removed the cloak from my shoulders. I smoothed out the fabric before placing it around his small frame. “Take care of the cloak. You must pass it on to your son when the time comes.”
“How will I know?”
“You will know here,” I said pointing to his heart, “when the time is right.”
I pushed his back gently, urging him to go before I changed my mind. “Look after your mother,” I added quietly as tears slid down my cheek. I wiped them quickly, not wanting him to turn back and see.
I turned from my son, imprinting his image in my mind for the final time. He would become a great wizard, and live a long life, of that I was sure. In the end, I felt in my heart we would meet again.
“Hello Death,” I said to the lingering shadows. He didn’t respond immediately, but I knew he was there.
“I have searched for you for a very long time,” he finally replied in a rasping voice.
“I am ready.”
Death nodded swiftly, and I saw beneath his black cloak for the first time. His face was bony and skeletal, but not as frightening as I once thought. He walked over to me, and I watched as his majestic wings unfurled around him.
“It is time, Ignotus,” he said as I felt my feet lifting from the ground. “Your brothers will be pleased to see you.”
I nodded, unable to reply. The two of us soared high over Godric’s Hollow, and I silently said good-bye to my home. The sky was darker, as the sun had nearly disappeared. We flew high into the shadows of clouds, and below the round moon. I refused to look down, knowing it was too late to change my mind, even if I wanted to.
“We are nearly there,” he said softly.
I felt my feet touch the ground, which was firm and solid beneath me. The impossibility of it vexed me, as we had been high up in the sky. “Where are we?”
“Where you belong,” he answered simply.
“Will you be coming with me then?”
Death shook his head, and his cloak billowed regally behind him. “I have work to do. Go, be with your brothers,” he said, gently pushing me further in.
“May I ask you a question,” I asked. I already knew the answer, but I wanted to be sure. He nodded, and I continued. “When it is my son’s time, will you be the one bringing him to me?” He nodded again. “You will not take him before?”
“You know the answer Ignotus. He will summon me when he is ready.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat, knowing that I could trust Death’s word, and stuck out my hand. “Thank you.”
Death clasped my hand in his bony grip. “It has been an honor meeting one such as yourself. Some mortals never cease to amaze.”
“You are not what I expected either.”
Death placed his hand on my shoulder, and gave it a rough squeeze. The light breeze ruffled his wings, and he shot into the sky without another word.
I watched him until he disappeared into the darkness, and let out a sigh. “We will meet again, old friend,” I said, feeling both relief and apprehension, before walking off in the direction he had shown me.
I felt a restricting sensation engulf my body, like a sticky spider web or a thick blanket. I pushed my way through, and when the feeling subsided I looked back. A stone archway with a think veil covering the opening stood behind me, where nothing had been before. I furrowed my brows together, feeling confused and disoriented.
“Well it is about time!” a booming voice rang out, echoing in the empty space. “I guess we should have chosen the cloak as well, eh brother?”
Time and space passed, although I could not say with absolute certainty how much. The days spent with my brothers were endless, much like when we were on one of our journeys in life. My wife joined us, telling tales of our son and his new wife.
A feeling of déjà vu settled like a knot in my stomach, and I grew restless. Something was nagging me in the back of my mind, but I could not fully grasp it. I wandered from my brothers and trailed my fingers into the cool water of the river.
Flowers bloomed all around, and the lush grass felt soft and springy beneath my bare feet. “I have to go,” I mumbled, more to myself than anyone else, before waking off in the opposite direction.
The vibrant landscape faded and withered before my eyes. Green turned to black, and a bleak greyness overtook the world. Everything was dead. I turned to look back at my brothers, but it seemed as if they noticed none of this. Puzzled, I looked around and saw that all was as it should be. Everything was alive with color and ceaseless wonder.
This confused me even more, although I continued my journey. The stone archway sat before me, intimidating and intriguing. The urge to go through it was overwhelming, and I held my breath as I felt the veil wrapping around my body.
Once on the other side, I looked back and saw it had disappeared, not unlike before. The landscape unremarkable and flat, the same as it was on my previous trip. I saw a large silhouette flying toward me, and flashes of sadness and joy engulfed me.
“Hello old friend,” Death greeted me, a slight smile playing across his features. “I have brought someone to you.”
He stood aside, and I saw a tall handsome man, with dark curls and hazel eyes looking back at me. I gasped, unable to speak, as my eyes grew wide.
“My son,” I sobbed, tears of elation and heartbreak streaming down my face.
“Father!” he exclaimed before running into my embrace. “Oh father, I have so much to tell you.”
I blinked, clearing my vision, glad to see that my son had grown into such a fine young man.
“I thought you would want to be here to greet him,” Death said.
“But how did you get me here?” I asked.
“I cannot say. I wanted you to know, and so you did.”
“The plants and trees…they died. Is this how?”
Death shrugged his shoulders. “Perhaps. Although it may be different next time.”
“Next time?” I asked.
I nodded thoughtfully. “Thank you, Death. I would like that very much.” I did not need to ask for his word this time. I trusted that he would not bring my grandson to me before it was his time.
Death placed his skeletal shoulder on my arm, squeezing it again. “Until next time, old friend,” he said, and a look of understanding passed between us.
“Yes, until next time,” I answered, once again watching him fly away and back toward the world of the living. I was almost sad to see him go, but I knew we would see one another again.
What started out with fear and ignorance had eventually turned to trust and acceptance. I respected him for keeping his word, and he respected me for out-witting him all those years ago. Our visits would be few and far between, but no less meaningful.
“Come son, your mother will be waiting,” I said, throwing my arm around his broad shoulders. “I cannot believe how you have grown!”
“Oh father, wait until you see my son!” he declared proudly. “He has grown to be even larger than I am.”
“I cannot wait to meet him,” I said, taking my son’s hand and leading him through the archway, toward the rest of our eternity.
Author's Notes: A huge thank you to Kevin (Tidal Dragon), for beta reading this chapter for me. I couldn't have finished it without you and your amazing insight.
I'd like to say that this piece was of course written for prompt three, the friendship challenge. For some reason this was the most difficult one to write, and I struggled for days over which character to chose.
I initially discarded this idea twice, before deciding to ask a few of my fellow Gryffindors their thoughts (thank you guys for your input!), and deciding to go through with it.
I asked myself the following questions probably a hundred times while writing this story.
Do you agree with my portrayal of Death and Ignotus' friendship? Do you believe that they even have a friendship to begin with? How do you feel about Death as a character?
The hungry box down below wants to know (:
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