Written for the Prompt of the Day for the Hogwarts Online Forum. A companion piece to "Dreams".
Oranges and Lemons
Oranges and lemons, say the bells of Saint Clement's
He does not know how he knows the tune and the words; he does not know what they mean. He sings under his breath and the girl smiles. He likes the girl, although her face is worried and her hair is thin and white. He likes making her smile. Sometimes – on a good day - when he sings, he can hear her laughing inside his head, like an echo or another voice in the song.
The plump woman who smiles a lot calls him "dearie" and "love", which worries him. She brings him a round ball and sings his song back to him. He does not know why, and stares at the ball blankly. She sighs and picks it up and takes off the orange outside. Then she breaks it up, and he knows he is supposed to eat it.
The juice is sharp and sweet on his tongue and makes him gasp. Next time she brings one, he will not eat it.
He still sings the song.
You owe me five farthings, say the bells of Saint Martin's. When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey.
He is worried. He knows he has forgotten. There is a lady and a child, and the child looks like the sad girl in the bed. They worry him more than anything. They smile at him and talk, but he does not know what they are saying or why they are there.
He does not sing on the days they have come.
When will that be? say the bells of Stepney.
Sometimes he almost catches what he does not know. One day, he thinks he will wake and it will be there.
I do not know says the great Bell of Bow.
Some days he knows he knows nothing at all. He lies still in his bed, and the plump woman clucks and tuts and the girl with the white hair does not smile at all. If the lady and the boy come on one of those days, he shouts at them. It makes them look sad, and once the boy cried.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed, and here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
He knows something bad happened.
Something very bad.
But he knows the song.
"Oranges and lemons say the bells of Saint Clement's." He sings it under his breath to make the worried girl smile. He likes that.