FIC: "A String of Visions" for westernredcedar Recipient: westernredcedar Author:chantefable Title: A String of Visions Rating: PG-13 Pairings: Fat Friar/OC, Fat Friar/Nearly Headless Nick, Fat Friar/Griselda Marchbanks, Fat Friar/Minerva McGonagall Word Count: ~2300 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *None*. Summary: A wizard, a friar, and a ghost: a man who chooses to live on. Author's Notes: Many thanks to the mod and to my lovely beta, Beth. Dear westernredcedar, writing this seemed to take a lifetime in itself – I hope the end result pleases you.
Strength and Devotion of a Young Man's Heart
I jolt awake, shivering under my thin blanket. My mantle and cloak are still damp from yesterday's rain, so when I rise to greet the break of dawn, my appearance is about as pleasing as that of a drowned rat's. I might have been warmer had I had more fat on my bones. A simple charm, one that does not even require a wand, would have sufficed to make my habit dry. But either way, these things matter very little.
I bow my head and contemplate the new day. Spring is upon us, and there is much to be done. The kind people of Ottery St Catchpole have welcomed me in their village, accepting my commitment to them. Now, as the earth awakens, I must humbly see to awaking their hearts.
A new day, a new year, a new beginning. I may be far too young, but I take strength in my vows.
Wizardkind is my community.
Another beautiful day of service awaits me.
Masterless Witches and Saucy Knaves
I was born in Helga's Grove in summertime. They say that the grass fell silent and the trees stood still that day, and when my mother finally saw fit that I would be born in the chill twilight, an Augurey cried.
Helga's Grove was a beautiful village where harvest was always plenteous and the master, Sir Ivo, was a wizard like all his serfs. The old ways mingled with the new, and the people were lively and mischievous. The wells talked to the buckets as freely as the moon talked to the stars, and every knave felt as sure and strong as Sir Ivo when a troll wandered in a nearby field. The old women of the village remembered secrets from before Godric, Helga, Rowena, and Salazar vowed to put together the magic of our land. They told us tales of the days when Merlin slept in the garden of Vivian.
This is what I learned at my mother's knee; unfortunately, in the third winter of my life, Sir Ivo had swiftly taken ill and passed away.
Helga's Grove was passed away to the Crown, and then to another lord and master.
And with Sir Hugh the villeins gained a master, but the wizards and witches remained free – and alone. No counsel and guidance but their own; no hope, no faith, no dream but that of their own choosing – for better or for worse.
I was passed away as a novice to give our freedom a purpose and our hearts a comfort.
The fight is swift and furious.
The old man's robes are dirty and frayed at the hem. His small, stooped figure looks out of place here, where the woods are lush and green; here in the quiet under the glare of midday sun, where the well-used forest road cracks the ground open, thrusting fresh, greasy soil into the bright light. The rich, stately man on his perfectly groomed horse crosses the forest like it belongs to him. At the very least, he looks like the owner of his life, whereas I and the old warlock from Rowena's Crossing are anything but.
I step aside at the sound of the knight's whip. My weary travelling companion stops with a harsh laugh.
We met two dawns ago in a roadside tavern. He is on his way to his birthplace where he desires to die. He feels that death is at his heels and wishes to make haste. He is a dying man not willing to turn from his destined road, not for anyone.
He draws his wand and fully acquaints the knight of this matter.
The fight is swift and furious, a clash of sword and wand, of will and want.
My vision blazes with images of a thousand battles to come.
But I will not be the wizard to fight them.
I shall be faring east to Rowena's Crossing, where a good man shall die and I shall live another day.
In Joy and Temptation Longing Is Born
There is a merry Muggle girl in Godric's Hollow.
Her hand is hot and quick. Every time her touch burns my skin, my mouth is flooded with saliva. I want to sink my teeth into something – in ripe flesh, in ripe lust, in ripe knowledge.
Her thighs are bright and milky white in the sluicing moonlight, and I can see the goose bumps rising covering her skin. The night is cold and she is warm.
My days are worth more than my nights, though. I serve, I learn, I walk. The world, in all its raw beauty and raw ugliness, unfolds under my feet.
An everlasting miracle.
I know that it will continue far beyond my lifetime.
Sometimes I wish that I were able to witness that.
A Dream in the Greenwood
I dream of a strange man in a strange village. A place that I am yet to know, a day that I am yet to live. A man I will not be able to recognise. I see myself through the man's eyes, a trifle older and rounder around the middle.
The new friar came when the wolves left the village, I think. I wonder what it means. That friar, his face is round and placid but his eyes shine with fire that could very well mean mischief. That weary wisdom in his eyes has to come from somewhere; I doubt he ate it with a bowl of stew a kindly soul brought him. Oh, I think I have an inkling of what it means. He meets my eyes. I think I like him.
At that moment, there is very little of a mendicant and a lot of a wizard in the new friar. So much so that I begin to seriously doubt that the blacksmith's boys had hunted down the wolves last week –
On a gulp of breath, I shoot upright and open my eyes to the twilight chill on the edge of the forest.
My future reaches out for me and wraps itself around me like a cloak.
In the village of Salazar's Brook, men and women work together to be able to pay the taxes. And also to survive.
But the king needs silver, pounds and pounds of silver for his war and his men. So work the men and women do, a prayer as quiet a murmur on their lips as the names of Merlin and Vivian. Because silver comes first.
In this and every other corner of my province, I join the low-browed, stern-looking witches and wizards in their grim labour. Their dirty hair is flopping over their foreheads as they bend down their heads to the ground. They clench their fists, just like I do, but instead of the comforting, smooth length of roughly polished wood, they find nothing but air in their hands.
Just like I do.
Our hands may be empty, but our hearts are not. I take comfort in my vows, poverty and obedience. They slice away everything that is shallow, unnecessary; everything that is not contemplation and kindness, active search and active creation – in the name of my people. Not in the name of silver.
Just like the free witches of Helga's Grove promised me when I was a little boy, I am able to take comfort in the people I serve.
My only hope and my only wish is that they find the same comfort in my presence.
Anticipation of a Journey
I will go to Scotland. Magic will wrap itself around me like a shroud. I will drink the cold of the lakes and listen to the ringing of the mists. I will walk on the heavily breathing grass.
I will see incredible magic and believe in transparent reality. I will travel the dreams and come to the gates of a castle, halfway between loneliness and twilight.
I will go to Scotland and it will open the doors of my soul.
The Hour of Passing
For as long as I can remember, I have been giving my life away, minute by minute, so that I could learn. So that one day I could lie on the warm ground, peaceful in my understanding, and close my eyes.
I want to fall asleep, full of love and empty of doubt, and become one with the glory of life.
Morning Beyond Life
Desire overcomes me like nausea.
I wake up, suspended between dusk and dawn. I walk through the air, but I walk above ground. I walk and I seek. I am not quite lost, but I am not yet found. I am one with my community, forever.
I go where the magic is. I walk until once again, I am able to hear voices through the mist.
Until once again, I knock on the gates of the Hogwarts castle.
This time, a different law opens them for me.
Wind From the South
I fall in love in 1480.
It is a little bit like drowning and a lot like dying all over again. He is alive and more than a decade younger than I was when I put my body to rest. He is of noble birth. Well-educated. He knows the ways of a Healer. He comes to Hogwarts to brew potions.
His name is Sir Nicholas.
Ambition is wedged tight in his heart, like a silver coin, but I know that if he comes to love me a little, kindness and contemplation will find room to grow around his arrogance and envy. Kindness and acceptance will swallow Nicholas, absorb him. He only needs to learn to love someone other than himself.
He doesn't, though.
It is almost twenty years after Nicholas' death when the feeling begins to grow in his heart, frail and hesitant like a forbidden flower dreamt into existence by some long-forgotten bard.
As the Night Unfolds
The torches in the castle corridors shine with an eerie, blurred light. The towers are still and silent, piercing the trembling night: some have the students' heated whispers curled deep in the stone and mortar, some appear to be frozen and barren, indifferent to everything that is not as cold and sure as numbers and magic.
Ringing silence is pouring down from the blackened sky – through the castle roof, through the ceiling – flooding the halls and gushing down the stairs like a forgotten whisper. The sticky gloom is spreading through the dungeons, marring the polished, gleaming stone floors and heavy doors with dirty, shameful tears – and sighs – and dreams.
The castle is alive.
So many people, young and old, alive, experienced, feeling.
I am theirs, and they are mine.
Wind From the West
I fall out of love in 1699.
I still love him, though.
Somewhere in the distance a clock chimes, telling the hour to every stone and blade of grass.
I remember the clock being in the tower that is no more. Now, no matter how often I count the strokes, I cannot place the sound.
Where is it coming from?
It does not matter: in a hundred years, another tower will boom with the sound of time, and then another, and then another. It does not matter. Time spills forth, changing everything. The ties that bind can break.
I choose to bind myself to my people, time and time again.
I choose to stay.
I believe that I will always choose them.
No love is greater.
I am frozen in time and bound to a place. I haven't wanted to leave the castle walls for a very long time. I don't think I could even if I tried, now.
The days are burning bright.
Probability and Persuasion
The air is raw and warm. I would find it difficult to breathe were I capable of doing it.
There is a young woman, a girl, whose eyes are dry and red as she looks at me. Her full red lips must be smarting from the way she has been biting them.
I know her. I have known her for seven years, and her parents before her. Her name is Griselda Marchbanks.
Griselda peers through me at the gilded entrance doors. I can see her whole frame shaking violently, and I wish I could comfort her in my arms. She is unhappy. She is too young and too lushly, deliciously alive.
I wish I could undo the laws that made her parents come and beg her to accept her cousin in marriage so that she is not left penniless and destitute when her father dies. I wish I could undo her hoarse cries and pained shudders. I wish I knew how to mend her broken dreams.
She is so beautiful.
My arms close around her and she sobs as if she can feel them.
The heavy doors that had slammed shut behind Mr and Mrs Marchbanks burst open, and a chilling gust of wind sweeps through both of us.
It is something new.
Even I change.
Screaming with My Mouth Shut
The wind whispers softly, sheathing the sword of the moon in the clouds. Young Miss Minerva McGonagall is sitting by the window, just like she has been doing for the whole year since the first day she came to teach here.
Her face is haunted and sleep-deprived.
Her eyes are downcast, the weight of her heavy, glistening bun pressing her head down.
She is a witch like thousands of others, a soul like thousands of others. I am here, gliding past, willing her to notice me. Her mercy is my mercy.
For their sake, I stay. Them, I serve. To their souls I pledged my life.