Blood for Blood, Soul for Soul
I fiddle with the hem of my oversized T-shirt, Dudley’s old clothing. Across from me, separated by an empty but sturdy rectangular oaken table, sits a young-yet-so-old child in an expensive-looking but grimy medieval working attire, whom I am engaging in a staring contest for the last minute. We are in a small room illuminated by only a fireplace on one side of the brick wall, having been dragged and dumped here by some unknown means. Until now, none of us is willing to start a conversation. In a way, it is a war of will and nerves.
Of course, when it is put that way, there is nary a chance I am going to win the contest. After all, I am still recovering from a life-and-death situation happening just two weeks ago, in the end of my fourth year in Hogwarts. It has been very hard, trying to recuperate from it when in the tender mercies of my relatives…
Well, I do lose.
“Who are you? What’s your name?” I ask, frowning at the aristocratic-looking much-younger boy across the empty table. The little one reminds me so much about Draco Malfoy, except that this boy is younger and has dark hair… Mmm, and Malfoy will never possess such easy grace and grave, intelligent eyes too, or so I would like to believe.
The child does not answer for nearly half a minute, and by that time I have decided to go on with another prodding question. Before I could open my mouth, though, my unwilling partner of conversation beats me to it. “Fëanáro. Curufinwë Fëanáro Finwion.” The tone is curt and cautious, as if I would jump onto him and hurt or kidnap him somewhere after he had revealed his identity.
My frown returns, but it is not my former displeased half-scowl. “Harry. Harry James Potter,” I say just as cautiously. Who is the child? Why must someone so young be so apprehensive for a possible attempt on his life? It is wrong. No one should be burdened by what I have been suffering myself. Fate is so unoriginal and morbid.
“Where are we?” seeming to come to the conclution that his life is not in danger, Fëanáro asks in that lilting – but still curt – voice of his, relaxing visibly. I shrug.“Who are you?” the child goes on with his interrogation. I grumble to myself, admitting that the tables are now turned against me. Since when has this Fëanáro been so chatty? I admire the little one’s strength of will and confidence, though. But I also somewhat remember asking this particular question to him before too… “Umm. Human? Student? Fifteen-year-old orphan?” Oops. Why did I divulge so much? I would have mentioned being a kind of house-elf to the Dursleys and more if I continued! Humph. In hindsight, I loved it when the child was silent.
Unfortunately, like many things going wrong around me, my wish is not to be granted.
“Human?” Fëanáro raises two perfect eyebrows into his perfect, if strewn in a haphazard manner, hair. I can see the peaking curiosity in the boy’s expression and demeanour well. Despite his – natural, I would bet – noble bearing, the child is an open book for me to read. There are some closed areas somewhere in Fëanáro’s mind, I know, but those have only resulted from some early sorrows the child might have had to endure. I know, because in a way the boy reminds me of myself.
What is wrong with the word “human,” though? Surely the intelligence I see in the child’s eyes is not some trick of the light? What can Fëanáro not understand about it?
“You have round ears!” the child exclaims with shocked amazement and terror when I instinctively rake my fingers through my messy locks in bafflement. The top of my left ear is fully exposed.
I stop midway and blink, even more disorientated than before.
“What happened with your ears? You can’t be from the Birthland, since you seem too young to have gone in the Great Journey. Then no orc or any foul forces of the Black Foe must have done that. But what? Your face is different too! Who maimed you? And your voice…”
To my great surprise and astonishment, the child leaps onto the table and sits sprawled on the middle of it, looking quite upset and worried. Fëanáro’s bright grey eyes are wide in horror and realisation. I blush. What is wrong with my facial features and voice? Sure, I am not particularly good-looking, far from the somewhat-unearthly beauty of the boy almost directly in front of me, but I have in no way suffered from a form-warping torture! My voice is not that bad too, except if someone made me nervous by persuading me to sing openly…
“Umm – Fëanáro? I-I am all right. This is the way I am. This is how my kind look like,” I stutter, trying to placate and convince the terrified boy at once. If I would be awfully fair to myself, I would say that the child is scared for me and not about me. It is an even more bizarre notion than everything I have experienced so far in this room in the middle of nowhere, though, so I favour an abstain against the speculations about the child’s feelings and motifs.
Up close, I catch some other differences in Fëanáro which I have not noticed before. For one, the boy’s pale, flawless skin glows – glows! – with an unnatural light, as if the moon were shining from inside the child’s body. There is an eagle’s sharpness in the boy’s eyes, signifying his acute sight, and the ears—
I try not to shrink back. The ears are pointed! No wonder Fëanáro considers me an oddity. But that means we are from different races… Ah, pity. I was beginning to like this odd little one despite everything.
Oh, bother. Hagrid could befriend the flesh-eating Aragog, so why not I? Fëanáro is – more or less – pretty harmless, I suppose, when it comes to… menu preferences.
“How old are you, little one?” I ask hesitantly. Will Fëanáro take offence, or refuse to answer again? – For emphasis, I wave a hand at my partner of conversation sitting on the table before me.
But apparently Fëanáro takes the hand signal as something totally different. He scrambles onwards, and before I could prevent it, he has already plopped into my lap. He is surprisingly light; warm too, and cuddly if it came to that, and so innocent in spite of all the display of maturity…
Where have those come from? I have only been here for less than fifteen minutes! Next I probably would declare Fëanáro my little brother – Merlin no! I already have so much trouble to deal with.
And why has the child not answered me… again? Impudent brat.
I look down and meet Fëanáro’s upturned eyes squarely. “How old are you?” I repeat, sterner and more demanding than before.
“I am fifteen years old.” Is it a grudging respect in the little boy’s voice?
I smile, pleased but a little baffled. “No, you can’t be. I am nearly fifteen myself,” I say, amused – somehow.
“Then I wish I was a ‘human’, not an Elf,” Fëanáro retorts. Ah, the boy’s wit is back. But – Did he say “an Elf”? And why does he not believe me still about my origin? Has he never heard the word “human” before? He used it like borrowing a rather excentric label from me!
I fidget with discomfort. Elf? As in Santa’s little elves? House-elves? But the child does not quite match any of the descriptions! Then what type of ‘elf’ is the boy?
And why did he not flinch away from me on my revealed identity, then, if we are indeed from different races altogether? I would have done so if I were he. Hmm, strange boy. But I like him, much, if I Dared admit it to myself. For once, I am just Harry James Potter, a nondescript person – A sort of older brother? Fëanáro seems to think so, as he is leaning casually, bonelessly, against me at the moment. The little imp…
“What are you wearing?” the child asks. I flinch a little. Ah – Impertinant brat! Is he aware that he has just asked about a personal and very touchy subject? No one at school has ever dared to pop up that question on my face these four years. In fact, no one in the Wizarding World has ever touched that subject upon coming in contact with me at an unfortunate moment such as this. But should I really be ashamed of how the Dursleys treat me and make me do? It could be viewed as a full acceptance to my belittlement in the hands of my relatives, to their opinion that I am subhuman. Do I want them to win like that?
“Our clothing styles are rather different from each other, little one. You pointed it out yourself,” I say evasively, knowing well that I am skirting the jist of the problem.
“But is it meant to be very big like that?” Fëanáro persists. I freeze, like water in a spell of minus degree in winter. And for the first time, I see fear of me etched onto his delicate face. he shrinks into himself, seeming to contemplate returning to his perch on the table – or better, to his own chair opposite me. It curdles my stomach, surprisingly… or not.
All the same, he does not move more than millimeters away from his former position. Hmm, curious. Why?
I glare at him, hoping to dissuade him from pestering me, yet my stare is, surprisingly, met squarely by the child’s overbright orbs. (Oh, is he having a fever? That kind of glow is unnatural. But then again, which part of this boy is natural?)
I relent, again, at length. “My cousin’s clothing, little one,” I murmur, turning my gaze away at the same time. I cannot stare into the depths of those shining pools any longer. (I doubt anyone can.)
“But It is too big for you! Can your mother not make it smaller?” Oh my. Does this bothersome squirrel never know the meaning of “give up”? Apparently not, because even now he is searching for eye contact. Ah well, you get what you want, and more, squirt. I am loosing my liking to you.
Our eyes meet. I glower, ten folds more menacing – or so I hope – than before. “My mother is dead, and so is my father. I live with my mean relatives, and I am a creature to be feared and trodden, when it comes to their opinion about me. Satisfied?” Oh. I have not meant to be that harsh, despite of everything.
But, to the child’s credit, Fëanáro does not cry or scramble away. There is something odd in the way he looks at me, and that perks my morbid curiosity. (Most peculiar. I have never been so concerned about a stranger’s opinion of me. Ah, crap. Of all the first-times I have during this queer… dream – if this is a dream at all.)
Hmm. Dream. I can end this, right? I can will something to happen – like more control in my part against the strength of this little fellow’s character? I—
“My mother died in order for me to survive.”
I gape. My eyes are big and round in their sockets, ready to pop out. So much for self-control…
“She… What do you mean?” I stutter, feeling foolish defeated by what, in all likelihood in spite of the different races, is a five-year-old little boy. Oh well. He earns my respect fairly.“She died some time after I was born. She fed much of her life force into me during the delivery, and she tired of the world afterwards.” A silent, soft voice, but with the stab and pang of an abused toddler’s wailing. My eyes prick and heat. I close them and draw a ragged breath. Why does hearing such confession affect me so hard? Many mothers die around the world everyday just after delivering their babies into this cruel, merciless planet called earth. Or is it the calm agony I heard which clicks with the dormant one inside my own soul? Mum… Dad…
“My mother died saving me. Someone very evil tried to kill me, but she blocked him, and… they both died. I don’t know how it happened.” My voice cracks. I blink. A renegate tear rolls down the corner of my left eye, tracing its escape route almost with the sharpness of a hot blade. I omitted some things and lied a bit, but still, the truth is hard to utter. Why so? Is it because Fëanáro is a complete stranger? I can recall telling Ron and Hermione about what I witnessed every time dementors were near, and I was not this emotional about it.
But Ron has her parents and siblings, and Hermione has her own two parents. They can never truly feel how to be an orphan at a young age, and knowing that one was the cause of one’s mother’s demise. The knowledge carves a hollow which sucks everything around it when it is acknowledged, and sometimes the gaping wound presents itself so obviously that it hurts one’s soul. It happens to me and Fëanáro. To think that our mothers could live if only we died… How dearly have our lives been bought?
“People hinted that Mother was weak.” Fëanáro’s voice trembles. “I hate them. Mother was not weak. Mother… Mother was strong.”
Do I hate the Wizarding World for putting me on a hero pedestal? After all, the ones who defeated Voldemort for a time were my parents, especially Mum, not I. Is it foolish to hate ignorant but stubborn people, just because those people cannot appreciate the price of a parent’s loving sacrifice and see it for what it is in its entirety?
“Fëanáro,” I whisper. The child looks up, a glittering film of tears in his eyes but none falling. I inhale deeply. Calmed and strengthened a bit, I continue while staring into those bright grey orbs, “It is wrong to hate people because they are ignorant, or because they are too stubborn to realise what is put before their naked eyes, little one.”
My lips curl up into a small smile on the furious indignation in his eyes. The child in my lap looks suddenly much, much older than he is. But I am too tired to be perturbed by it.
The terrifying image vanishs in a blink, anyhow.
Exhaling slowly, I, for the first time, gather him willingly into my embrace. The little one snuggles trustingly in my lap, and I revel in the sense of belonging and protection coursing through my body and soul. Fate has spotted us and drawn us together, it seems. With this young-yet-old boy, I can share the feeling I have unconsciously buried for nearly five years; the feeling of souls bought with souls and blood with blood, of inexorable chain of consequences. It is like drinking Skel-grow in my second year at school; painful at first, but resulting in a whole part – or in this case, being. Healing.
Cradling Fëanáro against my chest, I murmur to one pointed ear sticking out of the tangles of silk-smooth locks, “Rest, little brother. Blood for blood, soul for soul. They are with us. They are in us.”
And we relax, being at peace with ourselves for the first time since our births.