Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not and never will be mine.
Little Angel Child
They say that those who die become Angels. They say these Angels are beautiful, calm, peaceful; with snow white wings stretching elegantly behind them – or maybe cream, or gold, soft as silk and pure as sunlight glinting on an uncharted ocean.
The playground was small, dead leaves and twigs mixing with the carelessly thrown litter and blown into small piles. They built up near the fence surrounding the playground, although more around the back where the tall, imposing buildings behind the school trapped the leaves. At the front, where the sun shone and the people passed by, the leaves just blew through the gaps in the fence and flew away, and only the larger pieces of litter and dead twigs were left.
Not many people bother the leaves and the twigs and the litter – at least, not the ones at the back in the shadow of the looming concrete blocks. The leaves there were wet and musty; if you poked them like one small boy was doing, they didn't rustle, but whispered silently and kept their council.
He is shorter than most other boys his age, small and pale with dark hair and bright eyes. Crouched there in the shadows among the dead leaves and the cool dampness, he seems almost surreal and fey, too strangely mature and self contained as he sits there and examines the decaying leaves with an innocent, childish curiosity. It is odd.
Are Angels odd? Do they kneel in the dirt, and cradle woodlice in their hands as if the small creatures were unrivalled treasures? When they brush messy hair out of their eyes, do they leave smudged trails across their foreheads? Are they short and skinny and swamped in oversized cast-offs?
This one is. He died long ago, though you wouldn't know to look at him. But he has the wings, fluffy and downy, like a young duckling who has yet to fly. He can't fly either, not until he's grown up – because he was so small when he died and became an Angel, he's only got a baby's wings.
No matter how small and fluffy though, they're still wings – they're even white like the legends say. Snow white, like the colour of innocence, soft as silk and pure as sunlight glinting on an uncharted ocean. But he can't fly until his wings have grown up, and the down becomes feathers.
What will make him grow up? His parents aren't there to help him, to show him as a swallow glides before the fledglings, or guide him as the geese fly together in formation. Who will help him shed his down, and let his feathers through?
Listen – the bell is ringing, calling out from the school. He looks up, little bright eyed child clothed in shadows. The other children are going, running now, hurrying into the classrooms and the lessons to sit and squabble and laugh. One boy stops, and waddles over to the Angel child watching the world pass by. He says something; it doesn't matter what, but the smaller boy nods, eyes downcast. All he is given for his acquiescence is a sneer, and the blond boy is too absorbed in his own self congratulation to notice that one of the downy feathers has fallen, a brush of white among the dark and rotting dead leaves.
The dark haired child notices, and for a moment he reaches out a hand to it. But then the bell rings again, telling him that he's late now and going to be in trouble. So he leaves it there, the little downy feather, soft as silk and pure as sunlight glinting on an uncharted ocean. But the feather is covered by the dead leaves and the twigs and the litter, and soon no one can see it even if they look. And when the Angel child comes back later to find his feather, it is gone; the one that grows in its place is stronger, bigger, more grown up. It is the colour of shadow, soft as a sneer and pure as loneliness glinting on an innocent soul.
And later, whether soon or in years yet to break the horizon, the Angel child will grow up more, and lose more of his little downy feathers. Some will get knocked into the gutters by other boys, and some he has to leave in the street as he runs away. Some he looses inside; those get thrown away, or swept into a pile and dirtied and covered with dust. He can never get his feathers back once he looses them, no matter how hard he tries or how often he looks. The only feathers he can keep are the ones he sheds in his cupboard, the ones that get torn out sometimes if he wasn't good enough, wasn't fast enough to avoid his punishments.
Those feathers he keeps and treasures, but still, he cries sometimes when he looks at them. Because they're soft as silk and pure as sunlight glinting of an uncharted ocean, but the white snow has been stained crimson from the blood he spilt on it, and painted blue from the bruises he couldn't avoid. And the feathers he grows in their place, the feathers that will one day let him fly; they were born in the shadows, soft as suffering and pure as tears glinting on eyes like open wounds.
And years in the future, he'll stand before a madman surrounded by a sea of suffering, and his clothes will be stained crimson from the blood he spilt on them, and his skin will be painted blue from the bruises he couldn't avoid. But his eyes will be hard and cold, his raised hand held steady before him. And his wings will stretch behind him, and the shadows will remember the feathers; remember the boy they clothed, the child they healed, the Angel who embraced the welcoming darkness the shadows offered.
And the shadows will rise around the Angel, and the madman will quail in fear as he, in his madness, witnesses the Angel clothed in darkness and forged in pain and suffering and loneliness glinting on an innocent soul.
And the Angel will speak, and the last downy white feather will fall, soft as silk and pure as the sunlight glinting on an uncharted ocean. And the last feather will grow in its place, sheltered by the shadows cradling him, soft as sleep and pure as the emerald light that flashed around him as the madman lands on the blood stained snow, struck down by the curse that killed the Angel so long ago.
And then the Angel will have grown at last and shed his downy wings, and then he will laugh for the first time since he died, laugh in happiness and joy as he flies on wings of blackest night, borne upwards to the open skies by the shadows that haunted him since he first found them.
And if the ones he left behind grieve for him, and if they weep and ask why he would leave them just as it had all ended, then he can give them no answer, other than the sound of silence and the sight of eternal darkness.
And the last downy feather lies forgotten on the small, cold body with pale skin and messy hair, and bright eyes like bruises that will never again glint with tears. But this feather is soft as sacrifice, and pure as the curiosity an odd little child held for the world. This downy feather is snow white, and no blood can stain it, nor bruises paint it, nor dirt dull its beauty. This feather will remain for all time, the last downy white feather that fell from an Angel who died years ago.