Author's Notes: As promised, here is my extension of Your Ghost of a Rose. I decided to start it now, and continue it after NaNoWriMo. Written for Asking Me Where My Love Grows' Poetic Colours Challenge and Rosa Clearwater's Angst Challenge on the HPFC forum, and based on the songs off the Blackmore's Night album "Ghost of a Rose" (making it also a stylistic companion to Autumn Sky).
Rabastan Lestrange had wandered down this pathway a thousand times before, even since his childhood, but he had always been accompanied – at first by his brother, then by… others. Being here alone was a new experience.
The moors seemed darker without company, when he didn't have her by his side. Or maybe they really were darker than they had once been. Perhaps it was because of the dementors and the mists they brought with them. The sun was obliterated by swirling grey clouds, and mists hung around him in thin curtains.
The effect was dismal.
Rabastan hummed softly, trying to cheer himself up, but to no avail. The world was simply a darker place now than it had been in his childhood.
Of course, that was to be expected. Rabastan Lestrange, the eligible, quiet, rather bookish Pureblood who had once wandered these moors was a creature of the past. In his place was Rabastan Lestrange, Death Eater, Azkaban escapee, outlaw.
It had been a mistake to take this walk. He was feeling her presence more and more, and he didn't like it.
Her voice seemed to echo around him, warm and familiar, though he hadn't heard it in so long. "Sit with me my darling, let's talk a little while…"
"No," he said aloud. "You're not here anymore."
"Are you sure?"
Rabastan stopped, then shook himself. No. She wasn't here, and even if she was, she wouldn't want to talk to him. She had made that clear fifteen years ago. And he couldn't blame her – why would someone like her want to talk to someone like him, once they left the realm of childish friendship?
He ought to go back soon, anyway. It wasn't healthy to stay out on the moors this long. He'd just walk a little further.
Just another mile.
Along the road he walked, and the longer he went on, the longer the road seemed to grow. What had started out as a mile went on forever, and Rabastan started to wonder whether he would ever find some landmark to guide him, or if he would wander forever.
Did he particularly care?
Being lost on the moors wasn't so bad, really.
When his legs could stand to go no further, he sat down on the edge of the path, plucking a cornflower from the ground and twirling it between his fingers. When he had started out on this walk, he had assured the others that it would just be a little stroll to clear his mind, but now… now he didn't even know where he was, and he had no desire to go back. What did he have to go back to, in any case? A brother bitter from his failing marriage, a sister-in-law deranged from Azkaban, and a Master who would see them all dead in a second if he thought it would help him achieve his ends? He'd rather be on the moors.
Where was he?
The place seemed familiar.
Tiny flashes of memory were starting to flicker through his mind. Didn't he know this place? This patch of cornflowers… he lifted one to his nose and the scent jogged something in his memory. Blissful days in which he had lain among these flowers breathing in their sweet, slight scent and admiring their brilliant colour…
Squinting through the mist – wasn't that craggy hill a place that had been deemed a castle in childhood games? Wasn't that old tree once the perfect place for climbing? That low stone wall, remnant of some ancient land claims – hadn't he once sat on that, laughing and talking to her?
Rabastan stood slowly, making his way through the mists until he stood right in front of the wall, then clambered up onto it, wincing in pain as his weakened body struggled to heave itself up. Once seated, he looked to his side, and could have sworn that she was there, sitting right next to him, a beatific smile painting her face. No, it couldn't be… she couldn't be here…
She extended a hand and almost touched his cheek, smiling.
"Rabastan," she murmured.
"My love…" He reached for her hand, pleading with his eyes for her to touch him. He didn't know if this was a ghost, a memory, a creation of his own fragmented mind, but…
He looked down, running his fingers over the flat, smooth stones that made up the top surface of the wall, searching with his fingertips. If this was the place he knew… if it was where he thought it was… then the letters would be there…
His skin caught on a jagged ridge in the stone. Rabastan squinted down, and felt a surge of pain straight from his heart.
He did know this place.
One of the stones was carved, ever so carefully, with two sets of initials, enclosed in a wobbly heart. An insignia he had carved in a special place in his childhood. A little tribute for her, something to signify what he felt. It seemed foolish now, but when he had carved it, it had seemed so… so meaningful. And yes. It was here.
He looked up again, into the face of the shade of a woman that was seated by him.
Sweet Andromeda Black looked back at him.