For Nanaho-Hime in the drabble request thread at the HP Fanfiction Challenges Forum.
The Last Wand
I was there for a long time before she came.
Although time had ceased to have any real meaning long before that. It was not even that the days and nights blurred together. In the dark, with nothing punctuating the hours but the occasional delivery of brackish water and meagre food, or the occasions when they dragged me out and tortured me until I had told them more than I realised I knew, time became a thing of the past.
I did not know before that that time itself could cease to be.
But when she came to me, she brought time back with her. An ephemeral, flighty, difficult to grasp sort of time, but it existed as it had not before. We did not know the hour – or even if it was day or night – but with her there, I found again some sort of meaning in the passing of the seconds and minutes and hours. We even established a kind of routine, if there can be routine in such darkness and captivity and fear.
When they brought the water and dry bread, she would divide it between us (I am sure she gave me more than half; in the dark alone I had more or less given up eating, but she insisted I should do so now). We would make our meal last as long as we could, eating in a silence that was oddly companionable, just to fill the unforgiving void of nearly-time.
Then we would stretch out on the hard floor and talk. When she first came, she did all the talking. I learnt of her love for her father and of her fear for him now she had been taken; of her mother, beautiful and fragile, dead too early through curiosity and fearlessness; of her life at school before the terror came, and of the resistance now brewing in the dark at Hogwarts. Her courage, and that of the other children, astounded me. She told me stories too, of the fantastic creatures she had seen, or thought she had seen, or would see one day. (She never wavered in her belief that we had a future). In her tales, Nargles were as real as butterflies, and as vividly coloured; Plimpies were as lively as the minnows I caught as a boy in the stream by my grandfather's cottage, and the Snorkack was as believable as a unicorn.
After a while, as she made me stronger, I talked too. I told her of my boyhood and my travels as a young man. I told her more of wandlore than I have ever imparted to anyone else. I remembered the wands I had made, and the witches and wizards who wielded them. I did not speak of Lilith and our time together, but that was the only thing I did not tell.
We played games too. There were word games and riddles. There were drawing games scratched in the floor with the rusty nail we used sometimes to cut the bread or occasional meat (we could not see, but we could feel, and we had the time to spend long over these games). And one day, there was a string tied around the bundle of bread and cheese our captors tossed to us, and she taught me a Muggle game, "cat's cradle", with the string looped around our hands. An aging wizard and a barely adult witch, frightened and forgotten and alone, playing children's games in the dark – but they helped to keep us alive, and gave us back time and so something of ourselves.
Later, in what we thought of as the evening, although it may not have been, we curled together for warmth and slept, or tried to. This was the time when her courage sometimes failed her, and I heard her crying for her father and her friends – not for herself; never for herself. She always saved her tears for times when she thought I slept, and I was careful to be still and keep my breathing even so she should not think otherwise. Even in dark and captivity, we all deserve some privacy.
We did not count the days, or what we thought of as days, but time passed, and passed more easily than it had for me before she came. I was selfishly glad of her presence.
Our freedom came with confusion, noise and sudden light. In the first few days, I missed the familiar velvet darkness, her constant presence, our games and talks. Comfort, safety and freedom were almost more than I could bear.
When I was nearly well again, I made her a wand. Hawthorn with a unicorn hair core; ten and a half inches; supple, but not too springy. It was one of my best, and my very last. It was fitting that she should wield it.