Disclaimer: Not mine.
A Walk in Potter's Field
Walking along the Thames, in the park at the base of Tower Bridge, looking across the dirty water to the Tower, he wondered if the inmates that had lost their lives so long ago knew anything of Azkaban, or truly believed in witchcraft. He had visited the Tower many times, the first he had been only eight, and had gone on an outing with his class, pushed along by teachers who were only intent on reaching the end, not giving even the most interested students time to absorb even some of what they saw.
He sat down on the damp grass and pulled up his knees, wrapping his arms around his legs. Remembering how he had traced the graffiti of names and laments, chiselled in the stone and now sealed under Plexiglas for the hordes of tourists to see, of those made infamous by their deaths. He scanned the outer wall and still knew which window opened into the cell that had so made an impression on him.
He had not found it as dark as he had thought it would be. Sunlight had streamed in the narrow slit, the ceiling had been higher than he had imagined, the room smaller, tighter, as if a curve in a hallway. Not a real cell, not like they said was in Azkaban. The North Sea would not carry the sound of the city to him as the Thames carried the sounds of London. They would not allow him to sit on the bank of the moving waters and reflect as the sun grew hotter overhead and families began to lie out on blankets with cold drinks and sandwiches.
Jane walked to the chopping block and knelt in prayer, asking her God to take tender mercy on her soul.
"Have mercy upon me, O God." She laid her head down and closed her eyes, knowing that soon she would be in His glorious heaven and firm embrace. Her lips moved in gentle supplication: "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!"
He thought he could do that. Lay down his head and be done with it, meeting whatever maker would accept him or lay in the ground, never having the chance to etch his name in graffiti on the wall.
He sighed and fell back, folded his arms under his head and looked up to the sky, hearing the angry sounds of the city. He also knew that since the witch-hunts, no wizard had lost his life in a wizard prison to execution. So frightened had they been of being consumed in fires, or seeing more rotting heads held on spikes lined up on the bridge, that children still chanted about, that they had decided on a more humane method, a method that prohibited a soul from being tenderly embraced.
She had practiced, it was later said. Kneeling down and finding the hollow of the axe man's block, practicing how to fit her throat to the smooth wooden surface. She had chosen what to wear with thought to the blow that would cleave her neck, and had demurely handed fine linen gloves, her only worldly possession, off with hardly a thought.
Turning to the axe man she had only asked, "Will you take it off before I lie me down?"
He shivered as a cloud drifted in front of the sun, and sat up quickly, imagining the cloud the Dementor's robes and the sudden lack of warmth as its breath. He had to make a decision. He had to ask more questions than a foolish sixteen-year-old girl had thought to ask.
"Will you take it off before I lay me down?" was the only question she had asked, then in one brief moment panicked. Not in fear of the blade, not in fear her sweet Jesus, merciful and good, would leave her, but fear in not finding the smooth wooden block to be able to lie down her tired head.
He sat up and looked at the water line where the Thames used to flood into the moat at Traitors' Gate, but was now held back by an earthen embankment. Traitor. He smirked at the word.
They called him a traitor; from what, he was unsure. He was a traitor to Tom. Tom, who had lied to him, demanded his loyalty before he fully understood what such loyalty meant. He was a traitor to those that opposed Tom, although he had never pledged his life and soul to them. He was a traitor to his people, people he had never belonged with. He pulled his legs up again as if to protect his soft underbelly and hung his head, a curtain of black hair obscuring his face and sharp chiseled features.
He thought of his father, with big beefy fists, and his mother that would sit tearfully in the corner, not able, or not willing to stop him. My people. He sucked in air to fill his lungs and stood, knowing that if he did not move soon the stinging in his eyes would turn wet. He turned away from the river and strode out of the park, the irony of its name not lost on him. Turning his back on the Tower of voices, he stepped onto the pavement.
Seeing a pub, he pulled open the door and breathed easier in the cool darker space. He sat in the corner, watching the door, always watching, always on alert. A pint slid in front of him, and a slim hand picked up his money from the table.
"You waiting for the tour?"
He looked up blankly at the lip-chewing girl.
"The Ripper tour. Next one starts at three, never seen you in here before, thought it was the tour you be looking for."
"No." He lifted the heavy mug. "Just thirsty."
"Yeah, well," she looked back over her shoulder, "it's mostly a con."
"Mostly?" He smirked at her, seeing her begin to smile.
"Yeah, were you ordering? Got a little cheese left back from the lunch tour, and could find you a sandwich, outta soup though."
"No, I'm fine."
"Right, you change your mind just give a shout."
He watched her hips sway as she walked back to the kitchen, and thought how far he had come since leaving this world and if swaying hips and the promise of more could lure him back, or keep him here. He snorted a laugh and drank down the rest of his ale in one long swallow and thought of sitting in the pub up near Spinner's End, doing the same thing amongst laughter and cheers.
He'd stayed there when he had left Hogwarts. Travelled back and forth between the worlds, kept in touch with both, but Spinner's End was his haven. A haven for working class morals and hard drinking men. A world where a dark-haired gangly youth could disappear. His father's world. A world where suspicious looking visitors would go unseen and where the stench from the river ensured closed doors and windows would not raise questions.
Mulciber would visit and sneer at the small cramped place while he dragged his overnight bag upstairs. Then after he had unpacked, they would set off for the pubs. Mulciber, with enough money in his pockets to drink until closing, and enough left over for them to Apparate down to London if their thirst and other hungers were still unquenched.
He reached in his pocket and tossed down a couple of coins for the waitress before stepping out to the pavement, walking deeper down the narrow street. It was different here in the daylight. Different from what it used to be, the dregs of London, that place beyond the river, that place of cheap whores and child prostitutes, work houses and charity poor. He knew the history. He just could not fathom the why of it. He saw his father in his reflection as he paused in front of a shop window. With a smirk, he cupped his hands and peered into the dark and abandoned building, then stood straight and continued on.
He wondered if it would be different if they had been alive. Alive like Black's parents, that still breathed but never said his name, or alive like old man Mulciber, alive but soulful and alone in Azkaban. He looked down the now empty streets and wondered what had become of them, the lost unwanted children of so long ago
Frances held Adrian's arm, gathered up her long brocade skirt, and stepped into the carriage. The carriage made its way slowly through the pedestrian crowded streets. She took her scented handkerchief and held it under her nose as their carriage made its way past the Tower. Her husband patted her hand and called up to the driver to hurry along, his Lady was ill, the pace too slow, the stench too strong. She pinched her cheeks, to return some colour to them, and was secretly glad that her daughter's head was not one of those rotting on the bridge. Not that she cared much, not really, not about things political and confusing, but she so looked forward to the season, a season that may have been otherwise ruined.
Mulciber had been warned off Spinner's End, and seldom visited after they had enjoyed that first year of freedom. The calls to the Dark Lord had became more frequent, the demands harder, the reasons more insidious. They would meet on occasion in London, but no longer found safety in Muggle homes. They found it ever harder to find their laughter in the local pubs, and began to avoid even Diagon Alley, too many eyes, and too many wondered who was following whom.
He had to make a decision.
She had said, "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!"
He remembered the time he had fallen on his knees and worshiped his Lord, thinking of the pride and glory that would go with it. He had received a burning pain, branded into his arm.
It was a lie, and he knew it as he thought it. There was no pride, no glory, only the hope of recognition, and a feeling of coming home.
"Mulciber said I would find you here in the cups," Lucius sneered as he slid into the booth.
"Slumming?" he asked, his voice already slurred and it not yet dark outside.
"The Lord wanted you close."
"I am close. He, however, is not." He looked into the grey eyes steadily. "Why do you do this?"
Lucius shrugged and pushed his hair behind his ear, waving to the barkeep, and holding up two fingers. He waited until a pint for him, and one more for the already drunken wizard sat on the table before answering. "I do it because I do nothing else." He laughed at the blank look he earned. "I have a family, and only one world. I do not have the luxury of leaving one for the other when things change, or hiding in one while waiting for the other to become safe again."
They finished their pints before Lucius stood and looked down at him. "Stay close and you too will have a place."
"He's dead, Lucius." He drained his glass and looked around for the barkeep.
"There will be another. We had hoped it would be you."
He snorted and leaned back against the bench's wooden back. "You are mad, as mad as your wife's sister is becoming."
"You share similar backgrounds. He was raised in this world, as were you. You, like He, is a master of the black arts. More importantly, He had nothing to lose and all to gain, He was only a half-blood that had the audacity to grasp for something more, something that has never been seen in our world. People will follow one such as that."
"Like sheep," he sniggered. "I don't want a herd. Tell them no."
Lucius sneered, and then looked to the door. "If you change your mind you need to do it quickly. I came to tell you it is unsafe to be seen together any longer and your friend, young Mulciber, is on his way to Azkaban."
"He should be pleased. He will finally be reunited with his father."
Her maid stepped forward, and placed a handkerchief over the basket, her hands shaking so badly she had trouble picking up the weight as she moved the container, hiding her precious Jane from sight. She saw the blood still pumping out of the corpse that lay grotesquely, headless, still clutching the wooden block. Silence filled the green and echoed against the internal walls of the Tower, the single crack of the axe embedding into her small neck screaming louder than the graffiti on the wall written by grown men and old warriors that begged for mercy and cried for their mothers.
She was but sixteen. She was married and Queen. She was falsely accused yet stood tall, unwilling and unable to flinch. She did not bemoan her lot in life, but reaped the rewards of what had been sown by others, and had reached out for it, and held it but briefly with both hands.
He sobered as he drank another ale. He felt again like a lost child, and like the lost children who used spray paint, instead of chiselling on stone walls, he wanted his name remembered. Like the sixteen-year-old he wanted to lie me down, but knew no one would pick up the axe and do it quickly.
He opened the doors at Hogwarts and thought of Lady Grey, and wondered if she found her peace or like the Grey Lady of these halls, she still sought her absolution. He stopped at the bottom of the circular stairs, starting up as the Headmaster started down. In the middle they met, and took each other's measure.
Albus reached out and grasped the younger wizard's shoulder, and gently squeezed. "I'll not make this easy, Severus. The only thing I will guarantee in return is that you will always have a home."
She had said, "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!" She was blindfolded and alone. She had nowhere else to turn, so she turned to the place she had began. "Have mercy upon me, O God."
A/N: The last words of Lady Grey have been recorded as lie...therefore, I use it here.