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Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or anything associated with it. I'm not making any money from this story, and I don't intend to.
Challenge & Summary: Full Moon9 - Marauder-aged puppies, Divination class and tarot cards. Too many ways to do this.
Author Notes: Warnings for post-modernism and reapplication of modernism. Many images are from The Waste Land by Eliot, Invitation to Wine by Li Bai, and Tender Buttons by Stein.
ah, do you not see the River flowing from heaven to sea, the draft-tumble of its never-return
The moon was full. Round-autumn, bright and cold and smooth like a mirror. It was still wet. Sirius caught a glimpse of it, shivering from his costly scaling, from the sliver of opening between smooth stones, from the eternity of wave-crash against the perilous crag, flattening the rocks. Flattening the earth. There was then the remembering of a distant name and the forgetting, so from there, he never climbed again to see that patch of sky.
He never returned.
He existed only as a concept, a hymned outline. There was no name of him, just a pronoun, the idea of a man or the idea of the idea of a man. The bones and skins and flesh of him were long gone so that they made way for the outline, for the volume and mass of a single, vital he. None of it was solid, all of it was clandestine and numinous, there was, perhaps, even a string of tune from the rainsky, the delicate voice of a moon maiden.
But behind the ocean, the bones and skins and flesh of him were gone to make way for pseudo-fur and pseudo-blood. The mockery replaced by another form of the exact same thing. He still had no name. But all of it was lapidarian, was from the stone-world of terrible truth and untruth.
Sirius carved into the walls with his fingernails, he didn’t keep a calendar, but he wrote down the name Peter, the one thing he ought to remember, and after he found a stone he relined the word on the wall, a cut for a bruise; his etched hate set in stone.
But he didn’t have another name to write down.
Because it was so easy to throw away, to forget and toss back to the ocean to let die there. All he knew now was a thin shard of full-moon light through the opening. It was a heap of silver on the stone floor and when Sirius ran his finger through it, he was almost happy.
Sirius hadn’t seen a living thing in what must had been tens of years. No, that’d not right, he thought, I can see my hands and my feet and I’m alive. But he had grime underneath his skin now, dirt flowing in his blood and his hands were certainly not of a living being. Nails and rock, nails and rock. He ran his fingers through the heap of quicksilver on the ground, when he slept, he kept his back bent and rough, his head tucked away like a fetus, his hands over it, a security blanket. Bulletproof.
Remus’s hands were calloused from dishwashing and floor sweeping, the tips of his fingers were always scarred. He had picked up the habit of drinking, some lonely nights along the way, and his mouth and clothes were stained, forever-smelling of slightly sour wine. And on one such night, he even drank to the moon, to the sinecure of its seat in the sky, to the celestial but cruel heaven and its spinning.
A matter of Right or left, burnt, throne-held Judgment.
Peter took Divination with such seriousness that it all started to seem a little strange.
Sirius was not credulous enough to actually believe in seeing the future, but Peter went prancing in their dorm room talking about cards and stars and angles, things about the Chaldean claivoyante or whoever they were. Sirius muttered something about the beginning of the Exile and sneered.
(But Remus was easy to interest, after some nights left pondering. Too curious, had a bit of a poet in him, wanted to know too much of how things worked how magic worked how dust spins and spins and how the world runs. The Hanged Man, the downward crucifixion and who is who and what does a card mean; meaning to chance. I’ll put a meaning to chance. Shh, shh, do not breathe the magic, this is the acarna to it. The magic is invasive is divine and hollowing.)
The library was full of dust, spinning under the sunlight, the rays and rays and rays of bright gold pouring from the side, a contrasted solemnity, a Vermeer forte. Peter pursued to talk with whispered passion about the art of prescience. Remus wasn’t interested in that. What is magic, he thought. Why can’t entropy be magic, the final destiny for all matter, the ultimate manifestation of chaos that was the first thing born in the myths.
It is divine and hollowing, a pinnacle of existence.
“Dante,” he said. “The Commedia had influences on the cards.”
Peter, watching him shuffle through them, did not understand. He did not read poetry. He did not care for Classicism and Remus wanted to squeeze the ignorance out of him for not even noting the fact that the separation of Magic and Muggle did not exist then, when the Western World was not divided to god and devil, male and female. (And such taint, such taint was bound to spread, the difference is spreading, it touched the world in the round and seeped unto the sheets of its history.)
“The Symbols,” he tried again. “There is a parallel between the symbols from The Divine Comedy and the Tarot System. They belong to the same iconographic genus.”
It’s deeply ironic, it is a corroboration for a Constantinian victory. History is written by the winners; Peter frowned in confusion.
“Never mind, it’s not important.”
The library was dusty. Peter went on to say something Remus didn’t catch; he just nodded and smiled a bit/
He brought this to Sirius, an absent mention after the completion of a Charms assignment, a mere mentioning, no fuss, and Sirius frowned too, a pondering glance, a thoughtful thread called quiet.
“What do you think, did Muggles create it or did we?”
(We, said aloud as if there is no other word that can replace their entity.)
“I do think we created it.” (He’ll go along with it.)
“Then why did we borrow from Christianity, they hate us.”
“They didn’t hate us, Padfoot, they—”
“They wanted to burn us, thought us evil.”
Which was true enough.
“Or maybe Dante took the symbols from us,” he thought about that. “We’ll never know, I suppose.”
What was magic anyway, he lay down among red. This isn’t magic, this is a guessing game, it’s believing in what pieces of paper say just because you drew it from a mess of them. Absurd. Like phrenology, like claiming that the physical shape of the head had relation to its inner workings, it is impossible, it is too subjective, it is preposterous. He was smiling by then, thinking about Victorian sciences and the foods of melancholy, chance against method. He laughed out loud. He was convinced that he was not convinced, that all these went against a rationality so solid it was too thin even to worth his doubt.
He shuffled them, distracted and smug and thought, what the hell. When he drew the card, it was The Moon.
Wan yellow, it was not even a color. Water and wolf, howl and tide. The wane and wax of it held too much a meaning, and he ran probability calculations through his head to find an excuse that it is not improbable for one to draw a card that might have some personal meaning.
I’ll take the chance, put meaning to a symbol, transform symbol to a word to a paper.
The Phoenician Sailor, died by water, the fecundity of it that is also deeply ironic, borne away from the Arcadian tide, thousand is charming for a lifting for a cover for a body. Nickel, what is nickel, it is originally rid of a cover.
Thought it fit to wake up.
It was always efficient to blame a dream, what did a card mean anyway.
three ways to
Sirius wrote an essay on the mistreatment of werewolves by the Ministry for History of Magic, and read it aloud three times that day.
“Give it up, Sirius, it’s not just the werewolves who are being mistreated.”
“Oh yeah? Name one, mate.”
“How about…the vampires.”
Snicker. “Vampires? Oh c’mon, they drink people’s blood!”
“Yes, as opposed to only wanting to eat their flesh.” He made an attempt to leave.
“That’s not the point.” Sirius grabbed his wrist.
“No, the point is, I don’t need your pity.” So Remus grabbed his with the other hand. “Especially when you make them public.”
The Monday next week, Sirius got back his paper with a questionable mark: While your efforts are valuable, this paper is a long stretch from the assignment, and offers a stance that largely ignores the safety of the general Wizarding public.
“How’d you think it was going to turn out?”
“Well, I thought he was better than this.”
“The rats are underneath the piles the Jew is underneath the lot,” he muttered without smile, flipping through pages and pages of astronomy chart.
“You’re not a Jew.”
“No. I’m not.”
Sirius slid off from his bed and walked towards Remus’s, crouched down, put his hand on the edge of it. “I’m sorry if this is coming off as pity, but I know you went to register the week before last week and…it’s just not fair. I watch you suffer every month and all the compassion you ever get from other people is maybe a sneer.”
“The world doesn’t turn on fairness.”
“Well, that’s what’s wrong with the world.”
“Maybe that’ll be your next paper.”
Sirius reached up, touched his face, brushed away hair and kissed him. What an awkward thing. And Remus let him crawl onto his bed, straddle his hip, and undo the tie.
Remus did not have the luxury for modernism. It was out of the question, there was no schizophrenic euphoria, only hard truth.
Frost on his bed curls curls of strike of clock, planted dead, silence, mortal tumbles crash into red fin-de-siecle seedpod, dry with water, we all are the pod people. Gather on the bridge, the bridge, the bridge, watch life go in motion, cast the coins tossing fortune which is cunning in their way into the river the connectedness of it is disconcerting. Sky is splashy with the strike of morning Big Ben is calling he throws rocks into the sea when it rains the rub and tickle remain on his face. He hold both Shih and Stein burning with spreading difference with ming and jiu.
Leaking into the corners.
Romance was all right. Romance could be faked, it could even seem real. But let’s not go to the middle of nowhere—assuming there was a middle to an nonentity, assuming that going was still possible—so let’s not go there.
Night was cooling on his chest, the blue of it, the very theme of it. Sun was coming up, the moon was gone. The hush of time was in, around, unable to be broken. He was in his room, transformed back but still keen, still sharp and bloody. He could hear the breathing from Sirius’ room. Sirius was not asleep. It would be so easy to Apparate down the hall, crawl up his bed and be warm but he didn’t.
He still had the card—he stole it from Peter’s deck of Tarot, because the whim cooled down anyway, as most things with Peter did—he had it somewhere in the depth of his trunk, and if he wanted, he could still find it. It’ll still be in a color between white and gold, still blue with the surge and pull of tide or moon. A remainder, he supposed, that he was half a being, half a monster, a renter for his body but really, not a man.
God is believed because hell is believed.
There were heaps of silver on the floorboard, he knelt and touched and burned himself.
He went swimming, he cast rocks to the waves, crashed thoughts down to them. He was drowned. He threw a bottle too, green glass blue glass, it had a little paper in it, had a little hope in it, folded up into squares and squares. He threw it into the sea, stared until he couldn’t see it anymore.
He didn’t have it anymore. He burned it, sundown, paper burned. It was all too easy, all too iconoclastic. The white-yellow of it was fed into the white-yellow of something else, the wolves whimpered and whined when they were eaten up. The water gave vapors, gave off mist. The tickle of it kept falling back on, kept cloaking him in the sheep’s skin. The edge of it was humiliating.
“You’re seeing it too, aren’t you?”
He whispered, “Yes.”
“Why can’t this ever work?”
“I never knew it could.”
So it was all right.
The next moment, the moon was back. Sun faded and the moon came up from the western end, like a cruel rewind. He crept into Sirius’s bed, put a kiss to his neck, put a tongue to the hollow. His pulse—his life—was there, beating like a hummingbird. He straddled him, ran his fingers down and up and it almost didn’t taste like despair.
“What is magic, Sirius. Tell me, I don’t understand anymore.”
“Magic is hope.”
“You really believe that?”
“I think we have to.”
He held back, held back the pureness, the autumn cool, the piece of world he wanted to keep. The open seas, too open, too many possibilities of drown and flight, crashing down with the breeze, the thread of quiet.
Wind, what a manifestation, the flow of a gradient, the release of free energy to entropy, to magic. How Mephistophelian of it, to take on such an invulnerable form.