Go East



They say nobody in Ravenclaw has ever gone bad. They say all the dark wizards come from Slytherin.

Lies. Nonsense and lies.

The little silver eagle around my neck burns on my bare skin. Romania isn't that cold this time of year, unless you're naked in the woods at night. Or if your hands are coated with silver blood that seems to be turning to ice against your skin. I cling to the pendant with one hand, staring at the corpse of the unicorn before me and the wide, glassy black eyes emptied of that gentle soul and reflecting only the leaves above.

So you were in Ravenclaw?

I cannot even see his shadow tonight. He is all voice. Sometimes, when sun or fire sluices through the air, I can see the faint outline of roiling black smoke; but sometimes, like now, he's just a voice in my mind and a faint chill where he passes through my flesh.

I should have known. Don't you ever throw your back out with all those books?

Maybe it's cold just because I'm so still, as if he'd frozen my muscles from the inside out. He has a terrifying amount of control over my body. It took him weeks to insinuate himself, to force my surrender into a habit. Weeks during which I spent part of the time letting him in, letting him twitch my fingers for his amusement, and part of the time watching helplessly as he raised my own wand hand and barked incantations in my own voice.

The feedback from casting Cruciatus on oneself is truly bizarre.

One of my Death Eaters was from Ravenclaw, you know. You might even have gone to school with her. Quiet girl, big glasses, innocent-looking, prone to summoning demons for fun and profit... A pause. Ravenclaws are so odd.

Not sure I remember. My mind is wandering. Then again, he's rambling. Whatever burning curiosity led me to saddle myself with this fading, temperamental ghost?

Pain shoots through my body, as if he'd reached in and strummed my nerves by sheer will, and then is gone. Just a reminder, that he is temperamental, perhaps, but not fading, and far, far more than a ghost. His voice hisses in my ear, and I cringe.

What did you tell dear old Dumbledore you took the year off for? Field research? You've certainly succeeded there, boy. Offence Against the Dark Arts only ever has two results, after all. Death or submission.

I shudder at that, and my mouth is very dry. The damp patch under the silver-furred body has spread to where I kneel. My sword rests by my side. Silver-steel blade, hilt wrapped with soft brown leather. A gift from Albus, to sling on my back along with my most precious books as I set out to find my fortune of experience. Go east, young man. I'm starting to feel dizzy.

He laughs.

Go east, young man, and come back broken. Did he really think you'd survive?

I know what he thinks of me, after all. I am just a weak little creature. And I'd known that even before I met him. That's why I caught that Portkey to Romania. The only thing I'd ever learned how to do was read. I couldn't fly or sing or plant or kiss or share my heart with another, and the years had leaked through my fingers in all that emptiness until I decided that, even if I couldn't make myself into a human being, I could at least try to slay a dragon. After all, I'd thought that I couldn't even cry, because I didn't even cry the night that I'd realized how hollow a creature I was.

In that, at least, I had been wrong. I can cry--but when he is in your mind, there are times when all you can do is cry, blood tears of agony, ice tears of despair. If the feedback from Cruciatus is bizarre, the feedback from Imperius can tear your mind apart.

Don't go into the forest with an empty heart, little boy, because the shadows will come to life and crawl into it.

Do it, boy. We haven't got all night.

And I can hear his mocking laughter again, so I let the silver blood pool in my palms and raise them to my face. Time to curse myself. Time to make myself a dark creature. Time to forget that I'd pretended to be human.

Unicorn blood tastes like moon water and tears, like rose water and strawberries warmed by the sun, but the aftertaste is dust and ashes and copper and wormwood. And, as my mouth burns, the rest of me turns to ice--that cloud has walked into me, that accursed ghost aligned his form to mine until I can feel the raw power of the unicorn blood coursing through his shadow of a soul.

Without my commanding them, my hands reach out, fill themselves with the blood still seeping from the great wound at the creature's throat, and lift themselves again to my face. Again, the pure beauty and ecstasy of the first swallow, then the taste of grave dirt in my mouth. My stomach is churning violently. It's like a drug, except the high lasts only for a second, and no drug creates a malevolent shadow doubling your own body and whispering madly in your own mind.

At least not when I've tried them.

I had to do something to fill the emptiness, after all.

He's laughing again. The man full of death is laughing. Blood dribbles down my chin; my body is made of ice; I am crying. But none of that matters. He is stronger now, even as I am cursed, and that is all that can possibly matter, because he broke me long ago.


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