The Weight of the Sky

By Ekai Ungson

Disclaimer: Harry Potter the series copyright J.K. Rowling. All words in bold lifted from "Art & Lies" by Jeanette Winterson.

If I burn within my iron tomb what is it to you? It is possible to be damned in your own lifetime.

When she walked past him in the halls she did not look at him, did not acknowledge his presence. This was not new. People like her rarely, if at all, associated with people like him. Such it had been for centuries and centuries past.

He had been taught early on to value what had been done in order for him to be standing where he was now, to value what had been given, sacrificed, taken, plundered by those that had gone before him. The laws of old remained as they are, and those laws dictated that he not stop, as he was doing now, not turn, as he was doing now, and not stare at her, fire hair flowing out behind her, mesmerizing him, mocking him, tempting him.

And he wondered, as he watched her turn the corner and disappear from sight, if he had made a wrong decision that night, not so very long ago, when she faced him in all of her fiery glory, and he had turned away.

A string of successive damnations that bind what is still left of the soul and force its future into the same thick moulds as its past. Small treacheries, hurtful lies, moral cowardice, wilful sadness, neglect of beauty, scorn of love, each does its own violence to what was made inviolable; the soul.

The soul wings in and out of fashion, immortal or not, it can be damned. Isn't this life hell enough?

Not so long ago, he fell in love. He didn't feel as if it were any importance at the time—knew only that it was here and he was feeling it, but he felt no sense of urgency, knowing that there are more important, vital things at hand. It was a winter's night and he had been in the Potions dungeon, alone, warming his hands by the fire as he waited for his cauldron to bubble.

She swept inside, then, a flash of brilliant vermilion hair against dark robes. He had raised an eyebrow, slightly stunned at her arrival, and then having that astonishment multiply tenfold when she made a beeline in his direction and, grabbing his shirt collar, kissing him fully on the mouth.

Any normal man would have reacted in some way or another. Shouted, maybe, drew back if he were a gentleman, even gibbered intelligibly for a moment. He had done none of the sort, only kissing her back with a detached sort of wonder. She didn't seem to mind at all.

It didn't change his life, those secret moments in the greenhouses, the stolen kisses in between the library shelves. Things went on as before. They kept out of each other's way not because they did not want to be caught but because it had always been the way things had worked.

She threatened to shatter him, but couldn't—even in the heat of her kiss his walls were impervious, trained and built to be stronger than stone. Her kiss, amid the harsh wind and packed snow on his back, attempted a penetration of his frozen world. She never succeeded. Never even when she laid her hands on him and from her fingertips sprung forth Life, and Death, and Resurrection.

As they made their way back to the castle, she held his hand. She let it go once they reached the stone steps, and they went their separate ways and lived their separate lives.

Hell enough for you, who rejected a love you felt in favour of a duty you despised. And the worst of it? That it condemns you to a permanent adolescence. Lost love to weep over, a full bath of self-pity and self-hatred, the one real chance at life lost.

If I had taken her in my arms, with the ardour she deserved, what would have happened? Would we have been lovers for a while and parted? Would we have married? Would we have remained friends?

I would have faced both beauty and terror squarely. Beauty at what she revealed, terror at what I could no longer conceal.

He heard her calling to him one night, heard her voice in the cold air the same way he would see breath as it misted.

Draco… she called. Draco.

He followed the sound of his name she never spoke, half mystified with the sound of it on her voice. His name on her lips, on her tongue, a word she never said, because she never said anything. Following the echo through the dark halls lit with ominous flames. Following the breath of her, the scent of her.

He found her in an empty classroom, fire hair and white cotton pyjamas. He stood still at the door, unable to take a step forward, not wanting to look away, not wanting to leave, but not wanting to stay.

Draco. Her brown eyes murdered him. Draco. Her voice threatening to break the walls around his heart, trying to release him. Draco. Draco. Draco. One button, another, another. The white fabric was falling away.

He looked at her, she breathed. He looked at her, she lived.

He looked at her, and turned away.

Turned away from love, from brilliance, turned away from her beauty. Closed his eyes, and he heard her voice, small and soft, "It's all right, Draco, you don't have to make love to me."

She never returned to him. The next day she was on Potter's arm, and she never looked at him again.

Too bitter? Perhaps, but I have found that human nature is bitter, twisted roots of wormwood and gall, the buried death-in-life, that still fears the grave. Having killed part of me, I fear it less than those who do their murdering with unconscious hands, the daily suicide that precedes all other crimes.

Foolish then to search for wings? Inhuman even? But I dream of flight, not to be as angels are, but to rise above the smallness of it all. The smallness that I am. Against the daily death the iconography of wings.

When she walked past him in the halls she did not look at him, did not acknowledge his presence. This was not new. People like her rarely, if at all, associated with people like him. Such it had been for centuries and centuries past.

And such it will be for centuries and centuries more.