Noun: the lack of or absence of sound.
But perhaps that is not the right word, for what Harry sought now was not the lack of sound but the lack of noise. Words, spells, screams, sobs, noise. There is no victor in battle, only the ugliness of the field, once spell is fired and weapon wielded, all that remains is the noise that Harry had been unable to escape. Dry, burnt grass died a little more under his boots as the heavy, brooding bulk of the Forest beckoned him away from the castle, promising to ablate the noise. He longed for even the near-silent rush of air beneath owls' wings. But Hedwig would not come to him this night, nor any night again. Her ghostly white feathers would not lead him on the merry chase, nor chastise him for lack of bacon.
Strange how, now beneath the bows of ancient oak and towering beech, the image of the dead, laid as though sleeping would not haunt him, but rather the remembrance of an owl. Perhaps it was merely that she had died first. Perhaps it fitting he mourn for her first, for surely he could not feel that much, nor mourn as the dead deserved, unless he took the time the honour each soul as it deserved. And yet, he doubted. For seventeen long years, he had not finished mourning for his parents, mourning their warmth and light. Was this not the same?
He stopped, waiting in silence, with eyes staring blankly into the darkness of the deep wood. Here marked the true beginning of the Forbidden Forest, beyond Hagrid's realm of half tame oaks and wandwood, and into the pitch pine blackness. Oak gave way to towering spruce and beech to skeletal larch. The ground here, thick with needles deadened all sound.
It was the same. The holes left in him by the departed souls of friend, family and mentor clamoured for his pain, even here where the Forest stole all sound, he could not escape it. But, nonetheless, here is peace. Peace that could be shattered, broken and torn asunder in mighty tribute to his grief.
A step, the two more and the air changed, the ground changed and his footsteps begun to sound, like the deep drums, like a heart in final lethargy. The sweet, cloying scent of pine overwhelmed the scents that had clung to his robes, so long now that he could no longer detect their foul stench. Blood, smoke, sickness, he relished in their abolition. The drums beat on; he would not be distracted from his mindless goal.
Once past the boundary, little changed foot, to foot or mile to mile. He marched onwards on a path known only to himself but known well there. He did not notice, so absorbed in his all-encompassing pain was he, when two legs shifted to four, foot to paw and face to muzzle. Now one with the forest, swallowed by it and concealed within it as only the Tiger can be, he continued on relentlessly. When the ground began to slope upwards, littered with boulders and fallen trees, he began to climb, to leap from outcropping to tree to stone. His relentless pace shifted into something frantic, using energy his body no longer contained as he sprung up the mountain.
In time, he left the pine and spruce and larch and burst forth into the breathtaking cold. The ground, bare rock and stone, resisted his climb into the heavens, into the ice-cold expanse of star-on-sky. It cut his paws and tumbled underneath him, but still he hurtled upwards, towards the roof of the world, undeterred. Nothing lived here, on this wind-burned knife of stone, but from here all that lived, and died, could be seen.
When his swift paws could carry him no further, when there was nowhere left to run, he turned and surveyed the world, laid out below him. The field of war burned still. The great trees sacrificed as barricades threw their flames high as their substance returned to the air, to be used again. Deep furrows of accursed ground scared once green fields, perhaps nothing would grow there again and they would be forever reminders that even enmeshed deep in his hatred of his own kind, man would destroy the world around him.
The Tiger could stand it no longer, the anguish in his chest would remain silent no longer and with a deep draw of air, he roared. Deep and long and pervasive, the sound hurtled through the forest and crashed into the rock walls of the valley below, rebounded and rumbled like thunder. It took a great length of time to fade; lingering long after Harry's breath failed him. Like a puppet without strings, he slumped, listless to the stone. Fur retreated, fingers lengthened and the sound of animal rage gave way to the wrenching grief of a man.
His protest to the heavens had achieved nothing, the fires still burnt, the castle remained alight with the living frantic to save those left on the brink of death. The earth remained scorched. He was left cold and alone, regretting his flight into the solitary nature of his Animal. The anguish and grief had not diminished but the frantic beating of his heart began to slow as he lay staring at nothing on cold stone, under icy stars.
"Lacio mihi in obscurum ab nex , pro ego sum gelu quod unus." His mouth felt strange around the words, as though there should do something, ease the ice and pain in his spirit, but nothing changed.
"Do you honestly wish for death? Is your battle fought for nothing?" The rustle of cloth over ground destroyed his solitude and the dark shape coming to kneel before him destroyed the illusion of the endless sky. "Come, now is the time for sleep and healing. For grieving. There has been enough death this day, " The cold retreated from his skin a fraction as gentle hands slid under shoulders and knees. As he gave in to the darkness, the rich scent of sandalwood and sage surrounded him and he gave in to the care of Severus Snape, feeling himself lifted and cocooned securely within strong arms.
Perhaps I am not so alone, after all.
Exert from "The Darkness of Death" by Morgal Ab Llwyarch
Lacio mihi in obscurum ab nex , pro ego sum gelu quod unus.
"Cast me into the darkness of death, for I am cold and alone."
'Do not despair, ye mortals, for in thy mortality lies peace, but still doth the heart beat should there be warmth, still is breath drawn while thine soul is cherished. Then, thou art charged to live."
(A/N: sometimes things are just too much. I hope we all have someone who brings us back from the brink. I would like to hear your thought on this short, please. If there is enough enthusiasm I may find time to develop this further. Best wishes and sky-speed to you all.)