Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Friend's Words

Spike sat in the lab, thinking.  Two more faux Horcruxes to create, and then the project is through; I can send Nagini to disperse them through the castle.  In front of her lay a scrap of parchment, written on both sides.  She was now to the point of turning it ninety degrees and writing over her old notes in her hurried half-uncil scrawl.  It wouldn't do to have this fall into the wrong hands; the fewer pieces of paper she needed to track, burn, and Vanish the ashes, the better.

At the top, she had started a bulleted list under the header "What Makes a Diary."  Memories, obviously, memories, plans, dreams.  The habit of doing it every day, that has a certain magic to it. The things we do for reasons of our own.  The evolution of plots and plans as we write them down.  She sighed, rubbed her temples.

"One would think this would be an easy one," she mused to Nagini, who blinked at her words.  Spike wished she could teach the slug to blink in code -- left for no and right for yes, even.  I'm to the point of asking a slug for advice.  It must be bad.  "The thing is," she continued, "while I have all kinds of notes to myself on scraps and bits, and I have some that are from before I even went to Durmstrang the first time, none of them really qualify as a diary.  They're just . . . notes to myself.  If they contain plotting and planning, it's because I needed to unpack them out of my head and see if they were workable or not.  I just did them when it was too loud to think about anything else.  There's no . . . consistency, no energy from the daily attention and care that goes into a diary."

Spike got up to pace; she thought better on her feet sometimes.  Nagini watched her from the top of the workbench, safely away from her boots tapping on the flagstones.  "I've tried keeping journals before, tried to write words every day about what was going on; tried to create images and words to evoke my week, thought it would be a good thing to have something tracking where i was and what I thought, but they always seem to devolve into what I ate for lunch.  Or fall apart entirely.  Then I'd burn them to get the energy back, and now . . . now I wish I had one.  I'd gladly sacrifice it to complete the set.

"I could ask . . . could ask Totenberg for one of his old journals, but that's like asking for his heart.  He'd give it to me gladly, but  . . . but."  She stopped, pondering.  This must be one of the hard parts of being the Mistress.  She'd watched enviously as her father gave orders that were obeyed without question, waiting for the day when she would have loyalty that she could call on like that.  She'd never stopped to consider the Master's share of the cost, of knowing you were asking someone to do themselves harm to serve your ends. "Spend them carefully, Spike," he'd said to her more than once as the chamber cleared after a quick discussion with the generals, where he'd given the Hounds orders that were received with hardly more than a nod and salute.  Muttering outside the door broke her reverie, and she quickly tucked the parchment scrap into her robes, grabbed a mouse from the cage, and quickly and sloppily Transfigured it into a teacup with whiskers and a tail, to explain why she was here in the lab so late.

"Come in!"  No need to fake the frustration in her voice, let them blame it on the cupmouse.

Totenberg slouched in.  "Sorry to disturb," he said, laying a cup of cocoa on the workbench, next to a bit of paper.

Actual paper. She picked it up.  Yellowed and crumbling at the edges, she saw Totenberg's familiar copperplate and the word Rhaedestus near the top.  That was . . . probably about the time he made captain, one of his first battles.  "This is part of one of your old journals," she said slowly, as he nodded.  She held it to him, but he took a step back, hands at his sides.  "I can't --"

"You need it," he said.

She could feel the energy crackling in the paper, ready to be turned to new purpose.  "But--"

"You need it," he repeated, as the door closed behind him.

And he was right, I do need it.  She placed the cupmouse on top of the parchment, spilled a few drops of blood into its bowl, then shattered it on the table to create the Horcrux.  Nagini blinked approvingly.

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