Heart of Darkness

Harry looks for Snape’s hiding place. It’s not a very nice place. In fact, it’s not a place at all.

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Heart of Darkness

by Lucius Complex

 

 

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You open your eyes and look around.

You find yourself standing on a checkerboard floor, ankle deep in water. You can see quite clearly for several feet around you, but everything beyond is darkness, the black, vacant spaces of Snape’s imagination, not yet formed.

You pick a random direction and start walking. More of the checkerboard floor continues to form around you, sloshing water. They soak up your trousers. The space behind you disappears into darkness, with no way to tell if it continues to exist.

You find yourself walking for an interminable period, for the light is supernatural and there is no way to tell the time. There is a hollow, watchful feeling about the space. A distinct sense of emptiness tickles at you as you move further forward. The light seems to moves in your direction, coming from neither lamp nor sun.

There is no sign of Snape.

Something brushes against your leg. You look down and pick up an autumn leaf. Another one floats by, its veins still green with dying chlorophyll. You peer in the direction it came from; and see nothing.

They come in profusion after that, floating like a pageantry of tiny ships, and you follow. The variegated splotches of color bloom red and virulent against the checker-board lake, barely visible now againts the murky green-brown hues of the shallow lake you find yourself sloshing through. Here and there you notice the leaves floating past beginning to turn black with rot.

More and more of the black leaves appeared; some of them carried through the air by the first stirring of wind which quickly becomes gale-like, whipping your clothes back. You fold your elbow against your face to cover you mouth and nose against the flying leaves and continue walking.

The river of leaves lead you to a large, ancient tree, beautiful and dying. Under the tree a boy of ten or eleven stands before a small bonfire. He is tall for his age, and clothed in inky rags barely adequate against the unrelenting wind. You watch him collect the leaves around him and throw them into the fire. It’s an impossible task, as each time he clears a spot, the tree would drop more leaves upon him.

You walk up to the boy, blinking against the wind. Up close, you notice that the fire floats upon the water, rocking gently like a buoy. The child however, is as wet as you, and his lips are blue with cold.

‘Hello,’ you say softly, ‘my name’s Harry.’

The child peers at you through dark strands of long, whipping hair.

‘Why?’

‘Because that’s my name. Harry Potter. I’m here to help you.’

‘Why?’

‘Because I wanted to. Also, the line of candidates was rather short.’

‘Why?’

‘Because I have a saving people thing.’

The little boy considers this for a moment. ‘Why?’

You shrug. ‘I’m not sure myself; maybe deep down, everyone has a saving-people thing. Maybe you have it too.’

The child Severus shakes his head. His face, what little you can see of it, is expressionless. ‘You shouldn’t be here.’

‘Neither should you,’ you point out gently. ‘Why are you burning these leaves?’

Severus discards more black leafs from the pile he was about to drop into the fire, letting the wind tear them away from his blue fingers. ‘He only likes the black ones.’

‘I like the red ones,’ you say idly. ‘What about you?

‘Red,’ he shrugs.

‘Well then,’ you announce somberly, ‘I guess two is a bigger number than one, so we win. That means we get to decide. That means we get to change the rules.’

‘Why would we do that?’

You can’t help but smile at this beautiful child. ‘Because we prefer the red.’

The boy is about to burn another scarlet leaf, but he draws it back from the fire just as the tip touched the flames. He twirls the leaf around, observing the singed outer edge eating slowly into the orange heart. Your smile fades a little as you both watch the leaf turn black before Severus releases it to the wind, to join the others. His eleven year old eyes are grave.

‘The Dark Lord prefers black.’

‘But you’re not the Dark Lord,’ you tell him, squatting down beside the floating fire. Your hands pet the watery surroundings for a black leaf and holds up.

‘Your name is Severus, and you prefer red.’

You throw the ebony leaf into the flames, and the both of you watch it curl and wither into ash. ‘Hmmm. Burns just well as the red, from the looks of it,’ you say nonchalantly.

‘You shouldn’t be here,’ Severus whispers again.

‘But I am,’ you smile. ‘I’m going to help you.’

‘Because you have a helping people thing,’ the child stares into the flames before raising his head to gaze thoughtfully at the dying tree above him. ‘Am I sick?’

Your eyes follow his gaze. ‘Yes. You’re in St Mungos. The doctors are trying to heal you, but they can’t reach your mind.’ You let that sink in for a while before adding very deliberately, ‘I think the tree should live.’

Severus exhales. ‘The Dark Lord prefers black.’

You decide to get comfortable, or as comfortable as one could get in a puddle of water and leaves. Clearly you will be here for some time.

The healers tasked with keeping your body alive will not be pleased.

‘True. But this isn’t the Dark Lord’s mind. The Dark Lord has his own mind, which is no more.’ You wait again for a few moments. ‘I killed him, you know. He left a big mess. Did you see?’

The little boy taps his own head. ‘He lives here.’

‘Then I’ll just have to kill him again,’ you say blandly. ‘Black is boring. We should have more red.’

 

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