Written for the Minority Rules challenge. 10 drabbles/stories on 10 minor characters in Harry Potter. Reviews very much appreciated.
To the wicked and the forgotten.
The Man on the Moon
I am ten years, eleven months and twenty-eight days old today. Just a tiny child.
Tomorrow, I will be eleven years old exactly. Wise. Mature. Old enough to go to Hogwarts, get a job, buy Grandma a cottage by the sea, marry, have kids, become the greatest Headmaster Hogwarts – no, the world – has even seen. Grandma says that, with my brains, I will go places. She's wrong. I will fly.
But for now, I am still ten. A piece of nothing in the night. One more night. Tomorrow morning, I will be reborn like the phoenix from its ashes. Something new and wonderful. Not really me, but still myself. When the sky shatters, I will put the shards together again, as Grandma fixed the china vase in the hall with a wave of her wand. Invincible.
The clock on the wall ticks by slowly. Only an hour left. I can't sleep. The full moon streams in through a crack in the curtains. I get up and pull them all the way open. The moon is larger than I imagined. It blocks out the stars, even the flickering lamppost at the end of the street. I can see the Man on the Moon smiling at me. He's giving me an early congratulation. A good omen.
A cricket chirps in the dark. Rare for late winter. Another omen. Should I sit quietly and listen to its music, or venture outside to cup him in my hands, like water from the faucet, running to an infinite stop? I ponder for a moment and choose the latter. A birthday present to myself. Perhaps Grandma will charm it to sing me to sleep.
I open my window and crawl out into the night. I forget to take a jacket, but it doesn't matter. Cricket catching is my expertise. I'll be back before tomorrow, safe and sound in bed. Grandma will never know what happened. The breeze is cool, but not cold. Spring is in the air. Soon Grandma and I will rummage out the rake and hoe and get to work on the garden. She has promised me my own patch this year, to do what I like. Anything at all.
The cricket chirps again. I abandon my visionary garden for the real one. The cricket's near. I search all around the house but find nothing. Outside the gate then. Lifting the latch quietly, so as not to waken Grandma, I step across the boundary between my world and theirs. It's dark, but the moon lights a path for me. Straight to the cricket, singing his heart out on the other side of the asphalt road. I run over without checking for cars. It's too late. No one is out at this hour.
And then from nowhere, it hits me. A heavy mass of fur that blocks out the moon. It's dark and sweaty and smells like pain. There are claws extending, teeth snapping. I fight back. It overpowers me easily. Skin breaks and I smell metallic blood. My blood. I scream and it screams back. Something burns past the skin into my veins, my muscles, my bones. There is cracking and growling and more screaming. I am burning alive.
Lights snap on as the neighbours wake. Curtains open. People point and gesture, don't move. Can they see me under it, gasping for breath? I try to choke out a cry for help, but nothing comes out except more shrieking and howling. My voice has abandoned me. No one is coming to help, not even Grandma clutching her dressing gown in the living room. The cricket has long fled. I will die alone, under a thousand eyes.
The pile of fur grabs a chunk of my arm with its teeth and drags me off the street. No one runs out to save me, waving a wand, a gun, a broken chair leg. Nothing but words streaming out of gaping mouths. And then even that disappears. I am dragged past the last house and into the bushes. Through the mud and snow until there is only numbness and shallow breaths. The fire has gone, replaced by a dull ache. My body feels like it's been distorted beyond repair. Not just bruises and scratches and bites but bones and heart and soul. Even my brain feels gone. I want to pass out and forget, but I don't remember what to forget. There is a strange hollow sensation in my stomach, like I haven't eaten for months. This is absurd. I just ate…
But when? What? How? Look, there is the squirrel coming from its den. Smell, there is the bear still in hibernation. Listen, there is the owl hooting softly. What to choose, what to choose. My head wants to explode. I fade.
When I wake up, it's morning. I don't know where I am. My clothes are gone. I am naked in the cold, curled up beside a pile of dead leaves. There is a disgusting taste in my mouth. I puke. Fur and feathers come out, coupled with the occasional bone. What have I been doing?
The night comes back. Moon, cricket, hurt. Grandma watching silently. Teeth and blood. The distortion, the melding of bones, the forgetting. The sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize your life is a lie. No one loves you. No one needs you. No one wants you. Not even the Man on the Moon can save you from the downward spiral. Dreams are the things that nightmares are made of. They twist and they turn and you think your close but you get further and further until you don't remember what you're running to or what you'll do when you get there. The clock keeps ticking, too fast and too slow, never stopping, counting down the minutes, the seconds, the infinitesimal moments of childhood.
I am eleven years old today. Exactly. Not a boy anymore. A monster. Broken winged. Grounded. I am going nowhere.
When the sky shatters, who will piece it together?