8,492 A Harry Potter fan fiction
On his thirty-fifth birthday, Remus Lupin received a parcel wrapped in brown paper and string. It contained a plain box of cherry wood wrapped in velvet and a thick pile of blank sheets of different sizes and materials - unlined paper, parchment, even delicate ricepaper tinted in shades of pale green and veined with yellow. There was no sign of who sent it, and after undoing the charms around the bundle and the box, he released the lock with a touch of his wand.
There was one silvery feather inside. It glittered with the glow of encased moonbeams. Who would give him a pen like this? It sparkled with magic. The pen floated to the paper, and started to write with lighting speed, needing no ink.
"This is a good day, since I saw you," the pen wrote in dark strokes on unlined paper. The blocky letters were shaped by a child's hand. "You wouldn't know, since I wouldn't tell you that during Potions the hair brushing the nape of your neck was covering the collar of your robe, and my fingers itched to brush it away."
In all his years in Hogwarts only one person sat behind him during Potions. It was an anomaly that told him the nature of this mysterious gift's sender. He caught one after the other, as the pen kept writing on every piece of the sheets it came with. It seemed to know what message went with what paper, and Remus had to marvel at the sophistication of the charm it came with from a person whose proficiency was potions.
"There are things that can never be unsaid, so rather than say them I keep these words in my mouth, till they taste stale and are now unwanted even by me."
The enchanted feather wrote feverishly - notes, missives, reminders of things Remus had half-forgotten but now remembered through someone else's eyes, apologies, doodles of stupid pranks that the Marauders had done from the view of the victim, and there was even one particularly fervent letter that made his colour rise at the vivid description from the Mirror of Erised.
"Life is cruel. It made me see the vision of happiness through a mirror of hidden desires, but desires are something never to be held."
There were rambles about the nature of witchcraft, like a conversation for two walking along the winding paths leading to Hogsmeade, an attempt to describe Remus in poetry left half-unfinished in furious blots and struck out lines, as if he had thrown his pen in frustration. It made Remus laugh, because he could imagine the proud writer's defeat. Invitations - written twice, reworded, rewritten, but never sent, letter-perfect for no one's eyes. He could spend days reading all of these, all these private thoughts for his perusal. Their time in Hogwarts compressed into these scrawls. How can he read all these in one day? They would take weeks and weeks, he would savour these words, think them over.
"And I knew all this time that whatever I felt was something I can't reveal to you, because you, the you I knew from all these years in Hogwarts, you would reject me. But now I just have to tell you all of these things. I'll burst if I can't tell you, and the wounds would be open for the world to see."
It told more things he did not imagine - of the change he went through to become the servant of Voldemort. Of pain and torture, weakness, justifications why he was doing this, in the end wanting to escape the darkness he called upon himself, but can't, not when he carried the Dark Mark with him. Of the few things that kept him sane, through days only remembered in fragments of anger and defeat. Redemption, solitude, forgetfulness, found in the refuge of childhood. The bashfulness hidden in the abrupt attitude when his childhood crush returned to teach Defense against the Dark Arts, his thoughts on Remus' being there, how he wished he could be close, but dared not to.
"In all honesty I'd rather forget you - it's less painful than thinking where you could be at this moment, or if you were with someone, or if you think of me too. Do you think of me, even just a little? Maybe that's the only question I'd dare to ask you. Even when I revealed your true nature, I think I knew you can never be that cruel."
Remus stopped reading for a moment, lost in thought. He could almost imagine the person writing in the depths of his dungeons, reviled by the students, avoided by some of the teachers, lonely, and wishful. He'd tried to approach the man, but he'd reflexively shielded against any friendly overtures. And it made Remus sad just thinking about it.
He could not hear the scratching of the pen against paper anymore. Its purpose done, the feather started to disintegrate before his eyes, light motes floating upward and outward, into the skylight. The very last of the papers lay drying on the table.
On the eight thousand four hundred and ninety-second note, the very last of from the dissipating feather, was written, "In the end I have to say two things to you. I love you. I'm sorry."
Why 8,492 letters? I really don't know myself, but I have the strangest feeling that if Snape did start writing about his (unrequited) love, it would reach that number, you know?