|whitecotton (whitecotton) wrote in severus_sighs,|
@ 2009-12-16 19:13:00
|Entry tags:||ficlet, member: whitecotton, pairing: severus/lucius, rating: pg|
Before a Gold Flame by WhiteCotton
Title: Before a Single Gold Flame
Rating: PG (Yes, but it's okay, as I am being treated for this problem.)
Word Count: 1,500
Summary: There is an old story that tells of when two candles are lit by the same wish.
A/N: Written for calanor, who needed cheering up. Not beta read, so please feel free to point out errors.
I do not own or make any money from the characters or situations belonging, in all rights, to JK Rowling.
Before a Single Gold Flame
There is an old story that tells of when two candles are lit by the same wish. Those wishes, should they touch, become a single flame, searing in their brightness, complete in their unity and permanence, and forever lighting the way to fulfilment.
But, of course, it wasn’t as simple as two people wishing for the same thing. For the flames to become one, the wishes must have a joint purpose and must each answer the wish of the other, which is why it was a miracle rarely seen outside of the telling of a story.
Severus believed in the story of the single flame nonetheless, as it was told when huddled in knitted blankets and wrapped in the arms of his mother. He especially believed in the power of a wish made on Christmas Eve, bearing as it did the strength of unsurpassed fertility lying at rest in the earth.
Every year, when his father had gone to bed, his mother would creep into his room, two candles clutched in one hand, and take Severus by the other. They would tiptoe downstairs and then stand before the fireplace to make their wishes.
And even though his candle had known only loneliness since she had died, his wishes never shared, each Yule he still set a fresh candle on his mantel in solitary state. Repeated word for word every year, the lack of his wish turning to reality took none of the delight out of the act; his little rite, his mother was used to say. In fact, though he would admit it to no one, it was the prize of his year, combining memory and hope in the gold of a small flame. Lessened, yes, and faded or jaded or both, but still he would stand before his candle, taper and then wand in hand, and make his wish.
Wherever he was.
Taking out the candle from its cushion between two scarves, deep in his valise, Severus inspected it before laying it carefully on the bed. It would not stay there long, for at midnight he would take it downstairs and place it on the mantel in the drawing room. He had already seen the splendorous tree there, the fairies lighting up the branches, shooting stars of gold and silver as they caught the crystal icicles. While sitting there after dinner, with a shadowed, melancholic Lucius, his eyes had been drawn to the tree, its magic somehow more dreamlike than Hogwarts’ enchanted halls.
He had made his decision then, that this year he would set his candle somewhere more suited to its importance. Having long ago given up the belief that there was a candle out there for him, lit by someone else with the same wish as his, he had performed his rite behind the doors of his quarters. That no other candle could share its wish thusly hidden, had mattered not to Severus; he lit his candle every year anyway.
Standing back from the bed, Severus removed his outer robes and laid them on the back of the chair by the fire, then kicked off his boots.
His room at Malfoy Manor had been upgraded of late, since Narcissa had taken her jewels, furs and spitefulness to some other poor bugger. Instead of the narrow room he had been used to occupy here, where the draughts seemed to collect and whirl wherever he had stood in it, he had been directed to these more opulent chambers. And chambers they were, for his new bedroom, furnished in burnished gold, cream and sage green, included a bathroom attached and a small sitting room, too.
It also housed a French filigree clock, which tinkled just then, reminding Severus that he had just a quarter of an hour until midnight.
Hurrying his movements, Severus pulled his dressing gown and slippers from the valise, both of which were reserved solely for such visits as this. He shrugged into the gown, tying the belt neatly. Then, brushing the folds of the velvet, which showed too well the creases of its storage, he nudged his feet into the slippers.
Reaching again into his valise, Severus took out a silver candlestick, a relic of the Prince inheritance. With it in one hand, and picking up the candle in the other, he left the room.
While his status within the Malfoy home may have been elevated since Narcissa’s departure, she had left behind her a house that seemed somehow diminished. Severus knew it was not a reflection of it missing her; rather that it was mirroring the indeterminate state of its master. Lucius had been quieter than ever since the fall of the Dark Lord, more introspective and without purpose, becoming almost a husk of the golden idol Severus had admired, followed and adored.
Like him, the Manor seemed to Severus to have reduced, emptied of more than its mistress. The corridors he trod now were filled with shadows that crept close to the weak flames of the wall sconces, the furniture sagging against dull wainscoting, and the floors dead to the sound of his footsteps. It was therefore a relief to reach the drawing room, where the tree made an ethereal picture of the prevailing gloom.
Using the sparkling light from its branches, Severus picked his way across to the fireplace, holding his candle and the candlestick ready. He nearly dropped both when he saw there was already a candle there, its golden glow a small beacon for his own candle.
He hesitated, but whoever had lit the candle, whether it was Draco or Lucius, Severus would not turn back now. So, squaring his shoulders, he stepped closer to the single flame until he could see it clearly.
This candle was made of soft beeswax, tall and perfectly straight, and looking resplendent in its chased silver stand. His own candlestick would seem poor by its side, so instead of setting them next to one another, he placed his right on the edge of the mantelpiece.
He stood back to see how it looked. No other candle of his had ever stood in such surroundings, nor had his wish been whispered among such enchantment as in this room, and Severus felt a bloom of hope fill him. Careful not to relinquish the feeling, for he expected it would die soon enough on its own, he quickly drew out his wand and touched it to the wick of his candle.
There Severus paused, savouring the moment before his wish would light the flame, but the mantel clock began to strike midnight, its mellow chimes hurrying him along. As the clock ding-donged the second time, he closed his eyes and made his wish. He had made the same wish every year since a very young man, but its age didn’t lessen the fervour of the words or the momentary hope in his heart.
Opening his eyes, he saw the wish come out of his wand as a delicate pale-blue wisp, flowing to the wick where it brightened and flickered into a beautiful small golden flame.
He stood back again just as the clock chimed for the seventh time, admiring the way the flame lit the worked ivy wreath in the silver of the candlestick. Then he started, for the flame flared brighter, growing until it was a ball of white light. This had never happened before, and he stood there, stunned, watching as a second ball of white light lit up the centre of the mantelpiece.
The two flames were so bright that Severus had to shield his eyes against them; but even as his hand lifted, they dimmed a bit, became more golden, and he could see they were no longer two flames, but one.
The clock chimed for the twelfth time.
Amazed, Severus closed his eyes, thinking it was a dream, but when he opened them again, the flame was still there: a single golden flame. It glowed and danced, every flash and spark like the song of a choir, and Severus knew he had never seen anything or heard anything quite as beautiful.
Movement caught his eye, and he turned to see someone emerge from the gloom and move towards him. It was Lucius, of course, the fairy light sending his hair into a moving silver river. He stopped next to Severus, his eyes fixed on the single flame over their two candles.
“What did you wish for?” asked Lucius, his voice hushed.
For a moment, Severus couldn’t speak, couldn’t think how to. Then he turned back to the flame and felt comfort flow from it. More than that, he felt the hope inside him take form, settle there, and blossom into happiness.
Finally, Severus replied, “I wished for my soulmate.”
In that moment, as he and Lucius stared at the beautiful golden flame hovering over the two candles, he realised that before now, he had never believed. All those times he had lit a candle on Christmas Eve, he hadn’t ever thought the story true.
Now, as he turned to face Lucius, to accept the hand that reached tentatively towards his cheek, Severus believed in everything. One just had to wait for the right time.