Heroes and Ghosts
Tonight was a special night. Though nothing was visibly different, the subconscious told otherwise. The mind gave subtle changes to perception. There was a deeper meaning to everything tonight. Something haunting. A deeper connection to the dark, not necessarily evil, but the blackness and the night, to the spiritual plane, the souls of the departed, the untold heroes and ghosts. Perhaps it was just the night that was in it.
The twinkling stars shone like jewels in the clear sky. It was a cold, sharp night, the kind that when you took a deep breath, the freshness caught in the back of your throat and immediately reddened your nose and ears. The full moon shone eerily, casting shadows that teased your imagination. Though the moon provided enough light to traverse through the dark, hardly any of it seemed to reach the grounds, casting it in almost a perpetual darkness. The trees of the forest gave out a darker aura than usual, almost seeming to reach out menacingly to passer bys or lure them into their midst. The lake was dark and still, not even the squid dared to break the tranquillity of the water. It was a contemplative and dark atmosphere, one that coincided with the mood of another, revelling in the solitude of this night.
On a rock ledge, jutting over the lake, a dark figure could be hinted, barely detected by faint moonbeams, arms wrapped around his knees, head tilted towards the sky, seemingly lost within the depths of the skies above. Inky messy hair could be seen atop his head pointing in all directions. He was small and skinny for his age, almost waif like and his emerald eyes shone, giving colour, to the monotone greys and blacks the world had become at night. 15 years of age and yet his eyes showed those of an old man bent with age, knowing all the horrors of life and little of the good.
It was commonplace for him to retreat here on this night in particular whilst the others celebrated with raucous laughter and revelry. It saddened him that amidst all that, the students and teachers alike had lost the true meaning of the night. It was commercialised, an excuse for a feast and an overindulgence of sweets and drink (if you were of age). But no, he hadn't forgotten. He couldn't forget, never. It was deeply ingrained into his very being and so every year he slipped away from the feasts to give his own tribute. In th past, this fact saddened him, for the day represented all that he had lost. He was angered that the others expected him to participate in their tradition, with no respect for his own and that they had lost all true meaning of the occasion. Then resigned, as he had tried to get others to understand his reluctance to celebrate. His friends and teahers would never understand unless they opened their eyes and their hearts. However over the last 2 years or so he had become calmly accepting. He wasn't here to change the world, or their views, to do the impossible. No he left them to their celebrations and him to his own.
He sighed deeply. Lost in thought he never noticed another person, for the first time in 5 years intrude upon his sanctuary.
'Albus bloody Dumbledore!' he snarled viscously in his mind. Every single year the old Goat insisted he make an appearance at the feast, when he wanted nothing more to reminisce. How had the coot forgotten the importance of this date, indeed how had the entire staff and student body with the exception of himself forget.
This was an age old tribute, commercialised and effectively ruined in both the Muggle and Magical world. Some such as he hadn't forgotten the true meaning, unfortunately it was usually those who had known tragedy on this day that remembered it.
Merlin above though, each year the whole concept seems to be sucked from the "holiday" and each year it becomes more fantastic and surreal and that's saying something when Magic exists. He just needed to escape. Escape the laughter and brightness. He needed somewhere to think, to honour those that should be honoured by everyone.
Stepping into the darkness he immediately was taken aback by the frosty air. It was just what he needed to clear his mind, which felt sluggish just watching the students gorge themselves on all manor of sweet things. Lost in thought he let his feet carry him to where ever, as he just drifted along with the tide of his emotions.
He blended in perfectly with the dark, he belonged to the dark, from his obsidian eyes, silky (often confused with greasy) shoulder length hair and billowing black robes. Yes, he was perfectly comfortable at night.
And surprisingly, his hawk like eyes spied another who was as comfortable with the night as he was. Slightly on guard, for realistically what student would forgo the chance of a feast for the solitude of night, particularly this night, with the abundance of superstitions flying abound.
Upon closer inspection he was surprised for the second time, a thing he did not appreciate, as he could think of no other student with inky black messy hair and small, waif like figure. Indeed there was only one.
Schooling his surprise into a familiar scowl, though more out of habit than anything else he stealthily approached him, reaching out gently, defying his natural instinct to just strangle him, the impertinent twerp, and …...
The boy showed no visible reaction, though really he was astonished that another being was out on a night like this, though if there had to be one, I suppose he would of expected this professor.
"Sir," he replied respectively, "take a seat." he offered. He was calm and felt no need to heckle his professor. He felt no animosity towards him and was slightly amused at the surprise that showed in his Professor's face. Apparently this tact was enough for the Professor to comply without any snide remarks or such and so he settled beside him.
There was no need for anything else to be said just yet. Surprisingly they both, well you wouldn't say they were totally comfortable in each others company but they appreciated it. Side by side, The Golden Boy of the school and Greasy git of the dungeons, staring silently into the sky, both just lost in thought. If anybody spotted them, they would of assumed hallucinations from too many sweets in the case of the students, and too much drink if it were the professors. Perhaps one wise old man would spout such things as "Nothing is impossible, just highly improbable!" and then wonder what made the too tolerate each other, even if just for the one night, meddling old coot that he is.
Nearing midnight, the hustle and bustle of the students could be heard as they moved the feast from the Great hall up to their individual dormitories and finally, the two solitary souls stirred slightly.
"Potter, what brings you out here, whilst all the other students are stuffing their mouths on sugary substances." There was no malice in his words, just curiosity. It was a rare moment to see the professor look so unguarded, so human and it was also a rarity to see The-Boy-Who-Lived so calm, despite the haunted look in his eyes.
"I always come here, since the beginning of my stay here, on this night. I retreat here." He said this with a slight smile on his face and as he turned to face the Professor, he could see the open sincerity in them. "I know the true meaning of this night and I feel connected to that here, away from the noise and laughter, the immaturity, in the solitude. This is my celebration of the evening, its not all about the sweets or the costumes or the decorations. More than anything I just remember what others have forgotten." And he fell silent.
And the dungeon dweller was hit with a sudden epiphany. How could he have forgotten what this night meant to the child. Of course he would remember and feel conected on this night more than others. And in this, he found a tenuous connection between himself and the boy he had despised for years. As the angle of the moon had shifted since he arrived he finally noticed a few objects resting in front of the boy on the rock.
Following his gaze, Harry just smiled again. With the greatest care and attention he lifted a delicate flower. "A blood red lily, symbolising my mother." With a gentle caress, he settled it gently into the water. He felt connected to her with just this simple action. Next he lifted, again with care, a wooden figurine. "A stag, to represent my father." Again he repeated the actions and set it gently next to the floating Lily.
Snape just stared transfixed at the tributes, which seemed so practised for the boy. Obviously, this was a regular ritual for him and this meant a great deal to him.
Next Harry picked up another fragile flower, a blue-purple colour and a lot smaller than the Lily. "A forget-me-not, for all the souls of the departed." It too followed the others into the water. And lastly he lifted a small white candle. All he said was "To light the way for my thought." He cupped it gently to his face, almost as if he were whispering gentle sweet-nothings to it. When he went to place it down it flickered with life. Harry felt a great peace. It was almost complete. And he settled back on his heels to watch the floating gifts, still all in their original positions.
Snape felt deeply moved at the calm acceptance of the boy and his inclusion to what was obviously a personal ritual. He too stared at the floating prayers, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a small breeze gave a gentle push and they slowly floated away, on their journey.
Harry felt sated and satisfied and as the breeze, that seemed to have a mind of it's own, returned, it caressed him gently. He could feel the gentle touch of his parents souls upon it the clearest as well as others of the departed realm. This was one night where he was in touch with what he had lost and he leaned into it, almost willing it to become substantial. He wasn't ashamed of the tears that ran silently down his face. They weren't sad or joyful tears. They were of calm acceptance. They just were.
Snape wasn't sure he knew anyone who was so connected to those of the spirit realm than this boy was. It was an amazing phenomenon to watch and experience, even second hand and even he couldn't insult the boy as he silently cried. He could feel the echoes of what the boy clearly felt and even surprisingly the gentle fragrance and nature of his beloved Lily. His heart felt lightened, a burden lifted. He felt...he felt...forgiven. And with that revelation he wasn't surprised as a tear escaped his own eye.
For Merlin only knows how long, they sat in silence, wallowing in the experience and emotions. Eventually they both felt the connection begin to fade and soon all that was left was a lingering caress of what had been. Both were composed and at peace with oneself .
"Po-Harry, you offered me something that I can never repay you for." Snape was embarrassed. He never apologised or was thankful and humble. It just wouldn't do for his reputation.
"No Professor." The boy replied quietly, seriousness reflected within his eyes. "You did that all yourself. You opened up and accepted what was, you finally realise that there is no need for forgiveness from others, just yourself. You can move on." Wisdom shone in the 15 year old's eyes as he gracefully stood. "Remember Professor, for I know you already know the true meaning of this night. Remember and open your heart to those of the other realm. Remember the heroes and ghosts of the past and present, that those," here he gestured to the great castle of Hogwarts, "truly forget. Remember the heroes and ghosts." And with that he disappeared into the night, leaving a slightly bewildered Professor.
Silhouetted against the inner light of the great front doors of the Entrance hall, Harry looked out over the grounds one last time. A smile smile lingered on his face, which widened as he noticed his snarky professor still where he left him. He drank in the aura and the unique perspective one had on this particular night. It was magical and as he turned inside intent on his bed, a whisper echoed through the Entrance hall hanging in the air with promise, "Until next year..."
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. The night he lost everything he had and the night he felt closest to everything he had lost.