Where the Heart Moves the Stone
Verse IX of the J. Alfred Prufrock Arc
10.7.2003 - 09.26.2004
Standard Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot. Harry Potter and all the elements therein are the intellectual property / registered trademarks of JK Rowling, Scholastic Books, and Warner Brothers. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was written by T.S. Elliot. The lyrics to Dark Time belongs to October Project. All biblical quotes cited can be found in the King James Bible released by Thomas Nelson Publishers. I am not profiting from this.
Warnings: SS/HP slash.
Continuity: This is the sequel to Two Foot Palace and is Verse 9 of J. Alfred Prufrock Arc.
Notes: Rule of thumb: Any quote from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Severus's POV. Any quote from The Mystic's Dream is Harry's POV. Those lyrics preceding the chapters that are not from the Bible are from October Project's song Dark Time.
A thousand laurels to my beta ladydeathfarieBest Beta Ever. XD I love this woman; she makes me lucid!
This story was originally launched under my secondary pen name, "Hanakai." For convenience's sake, I have decided to streamline my fics under my original pen name, Vain. SAME AUTHOR. SAME STORY. DIFFERENT NAME. As a fic is re-uploaded under my Vain pen name, I will delete it from my Hanakai profile. Eventually, Hanakai will be deleted entirely, so please update your faves and bookmarks to reflect this.
Thank you for all your previous reviews—I saved them all—and I hope you all review again. I'm greedy.
For progress notes on the pen name transition or if you have any questions, please see my Livejournal (linked both my profiles). I hope this doesn't inconvenience anyone & thank you for your patience.
Do not steal from me.
The Blind Men's Duet
"I should have been a pair of ragged claws And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep... tired... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet - and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid."
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
"Sir? Sir . . .?"
Papers shuffled as the man gathered a bundle of scrolls in his arms, steadfastly ignoring the boy standing in front of his desk.
The boy pursed his lips and clenched his hands tightly around the scroll he held at his chest. The man turned around so that he didn't have to raise his eyes to meet those of his companion and began to file the scrolls on the shelves behind his desk. The classroom was empty—it would be the dinner hour soon—and, somewhere in the very back of the room, water dripped steadily into the sink. The smell of wormwood and cinnamon was heavy in the air.
"Sir?" He took a tentative step forward closer to the desk. "I have the essay for you."
The man continued to ignore him.
"I finished it this morning. Madame Pomfrey just released me."
"Leave it on the desk."
For a moment the boy hesitated, the scroll still held tightly to his chest. Directly in front of his heart. The man continued his filing.
"The desk, Mr. Potter."
The silence of the dungeon was broken as the boy slammed his scroll down on the teacher's desk. "Severus—!"
Severus froze. "Get out, Potter."
The man whirled around, black eyes flashing with an indescribable emotion. "OUT!"
Once upon a time there was a little boy who used to reach out to grasp Christmas lights. Every year, as soon as the weather turned chill and the kerosene heater came out, he would remember the lights. His foster mother was very, very poor and could not afford to have an ordinary Christmas, so she had to do the best she could—even if that meant doing things the Muggle way. So every year she would string up a bedraggled strand of glittering lights in their tiny efficiency and the little boy—still a baby, really—would toddle over to the ragged, fake Christmas tree that was missing more boughs than it had, and try to pull down the lights. Occasionally he would succeed and topple the little tree in the process, but his mother could not bring herself to begrudge her boy such a small pleasure. She could not afford presents, so the lights would have to do.
One Christmas however, when the boy was about four or five, his mother did not string up the Christmas lights. In fact, she did not get out of bed at all. The little boy hovered anxiously about his mother as she lay still in her bed, occasionally prodding her with a small, slightly chubby finger.
She was not his real mama; he knew that. She had been a friend of his real mama, she had once told him. Close friends ever since First Year, she'd always said. She would never say more, though; she only spoke of 'those days' with a distant kind of pain. The little boy didn't understand, but he didn't remember his real Mama either, so he called her Mama instead. The woman didn't mind. "You're my son, then!" she'd say. "My baby. My family."
The woman reached out to the child and tried to pull him up onto the bed with her, but was too weak. Her thin, pale arms went lax and her breath rattled loudly in her chest, a rough, wet sound. "Come lay down with Mama, Tommy."
The boy clambered up onto the thin, uncomfortable mattress and snuggled into his foster mother's arms. "Are you sick, Mama?"
For a moment the woman was silent, then she sighed sadly. "I'm tired, Tommy."
Solemn green eyes watched his mother's drawn, sweat streaked face. A small nose wrinkled. "You should go to sleep then."
"I'd like that." She smiled faintly, a surprisingly soft expression for such a hard face, but one that made her seem to glow for a moment. Her deep blue eyes closed tiredly. "Tommy, if I ever go away, you will have to look out for yourself, okay, love? Can you do that for Mama?"
"Where are you going, Mama?"
A short gasp left her thin chest, a sound resembling a chuckle. "Nowhere yet, lovey. But if I do, then just remember that. Remember how much I love you. And remember that, no matter what anyone says or does to you, you are special. You are stronger than them. Better. Smarter. There is so much—"
She broke off, coughing and gasping for air. Blood stained her lips.
"I love you Tommy. And no matter what, don't you ever let them beat you." Tears slid down the woman's thin cheeks. "Don't make the mistakes that I did. You be in control, not them."
The child's brow furrowed as he frowned at his mother. A small hand rose and clumsily brushed the tears off her cheeks. "Please don't cry, Mama. It'll be okay. Go to sleep—I'll protect you."
A sigh left the woman, a seeming acquiescence and her blue eyes fluttered closed reluctantly.
"Go to sleep, Mama."
Several days later the police arrived on a telephone call from the neighbors. It was Christmas Eve when they found a small child scrounging about in a cupboard for food. His mother, a pretty young woman who had aged too soon, lay dead in the adjacent room. The medical examiner said that it was tuberculosis. There had been a small epidemic sweeping the slums that year, but no one really cared. It was only the poor.
The woman was given a pauper's funeral: a mumbled prayer and a wooden box in a shallow grave with only a bit of stone with her name to mark the site. The child was placed in one of London's many over-crowded, under funded orphanages under the care of an abusive monstrosity of a man named Calloway. Soon, he too faded from sight, swallowed by the quagmire that was Social Services and eventually relegated to a faded name on a yellow file in an overstuffed cubby.
And, again, no one cared.
Thus was the fate of a little boy who no longer remembered the lights.
Narcissa Malfoy lay in bed, her husband's head on her lap as she gently stroked his pale hair back from his face. Lucius's clouded gray eyes stared up at the green canopy that sheltered their bed and his breathing was soft and even. Narcissa sang quietly as her fingers massaged his scalp; it was an old song, her father had sung it to her, and she had sung it to Draco. Before she and Lucius had made good on their betrothal vows, Lucius had never had anyone to sing to him.
"Way over yonder . . . Is a place that I know . . . Where I can find shelter . . . From the hunger and cold . . ."
Lucius stirred slightly. "Draco . . .?"
The singing stopped short as a sudden breath caught in the delicate woman's throat. "He . . . left for school. Over a month ago." Her words were hesitant, the veela heritage that they had both passed onto their son giving her melodic voice a seductively mournful quality.
"Oh . . ." Lucius's brow furrowed suddenly and he looked annoyed, the odd foggy look in his eyes lifting for a moment. "I know that!" He sounded peevish. Narcissa sighed silently and resumed stroking his hair. "The letter . . . There was a letter . . .?"
"I sent it this morning."
The foggy look returned. "Oh . . . Did you tell him—"
Narcissa's porcelain features twisted in pain and she turned her face away slightly, her wide blue eyes squeezed tightly shut. "You spoke to him before he left. Remember, love? And this summer. Draco knows what he may do."
Lucius opened his eyes and frowned sadly at the pain on his wife's face. "He was angry with me when he left. I . . . said harsh things." Narcissa said nothing. Lucius tilted his head slightly to the side. "I struck him."
The hand running through his hair tightened momentarily before letting go. "I know." The stroking resumed.
After a moment Lucius reached up and gently cupped Narcissa's cheek. She flinched and then turned her face back to him. A gentle swipe with his thumb soothed away the lone tear that slid down her smooth cheek. Their eyes met and, though they did not smile at one another, the tension in the room seemed to dissipate.
Narcissa blinked rapidly at the quiet request and leaned back against the headboard again. She may not like everything her husband did—indeed, sometimes she did not even like her husband—but he was her husband.
Lucius closed his eyes. "He's calling again."
"Will you go to him?" she asked, threading her fingers again through that long silky hair. It was a rhetorical question, of course. Lucius always went.
"Soon." He opened his eyes and watched her expressionlessly. "It will be alright."
"Mmm," Narcissa agreed quietly. He was her husband—she didn't have to like him to love him. And she did love him. "It will be alright."
Veelas mate for life.
"Continue?" he asked once more.
Narcissa smiled faintly and closed her eyes. It would be alright. "And the sweet tasting good life . . . Is so easily found . . . Way over yonder, that's where I'm bound . . ."
And as she sang, the Dark Mark on Lucius's arm burned.
Inside the highest tower of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore sat behind his cluttered desk, idly stroking his beard. It was late and the fire had burned down to barely more than embers, but he made no attempt to revive it. His face was lined with wrinkles and age had made his skin papery and thin. His hands were slightly gnarled-looking and his eyes seemed to lack their normal clarity, as though the years weighed more heavily on him at that moment than they usually did. Currently those eyes were fixed on a large grandfather clock set in a hidden corner, nearly engulfed by shadows.
The wood of the clock was deep cherry oak and the pendulum was a heavy golden teardrop that swung stiffly in an even, tireless rhythm. A table stood next to the clock. On it was a strange, six-tiered board upon which multiple pieces spun silently.
The clock struck with a dull chime, the heavy bells behind the pendulum rising and fall five times.
Albus closed his eyes tiredly. "Twenty-seven hands." Perhaps he'd have to have a new one made soon.
On the Scaccarium the carunculous danced without cease.