For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead, sunk though he be beneath the watery floor; so sinks the day-star in the ocean bed.
Aidan Whitby pushed his brown hair away from his face. He had known it would happen, ever since he had first read about the Muggle registration act. It was only a matter of time, and his mam was too proud to run far away, to leave Ireland.
Now it was all for nothing. The letter he held in his hand said as much. It was very concise, and yet his dad’s handwriting was shaking so much that Aidan could barely read it, but he knew before he had even read it—his mam had been convicted of stealing magic and was now in Azkaban.
It was horrifying. His beautiful mam, with her wide brown eyes and her crooning voice, who told him how the wee folk would come and snatch him away if he danced under the full moon. His mam, who loved him and his little brother Kevin more than anything, and she wouldn’t be home for Christmas or any Christmas after that. Instead she would be with the dementors, who would eat away every good memory she had ever had, make her a shell of the vibrant woman she had once been.
The thought made his heart feel like it would break open.
He couldn’t bear the thought of going to Hogsmeade, not even when Caspar pleaded with him. He had decided he should tell his little brother, but one look at his face and he knew he couldn’t do it to him—not today. It would be best to give him one last day of carefree happiness, let him go to Zonko’s and Honeyduke’s and pick out sweets for the holidays before he ripped away the thought of having a family Christmas ever again. No one survived Azkaban—except for Sirius Black and all those other Death Eaters. They all stayed in there and if they ever came out, they were always mad, and even Black might have been. No one really knew.
His mam was as good as lost to him.
He knew what he would have to do come Monday. He would have to hold his head high in class, sit through Muggle Studies where he was being taught that his grandparents were savages, little better than beasts, and then practice dark curses on the students who served detention with one of the Carrows. It was horrifying to watch, but he had decided that as long as it wasn’t Kevin, he could get through it. He needed to be strong and keep Kevin safe, and as long as they at least looked like they agreed that people like their mam were filth who stole magic, they would make it out alive and relatively whole.
Mam would want that.
At least, Aidan hoped she would—and that was all he could do—hope.
It killed part of him inside, and he wondered if that was what He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named wanted. If he broke everyone’s spirit, there wouldn’t be enough left of a person to fight back.
He supposed it was a useful strategy.
Not wanting to remain in the castle any longer than he had to, Aidan pulled on his winter’s cloak and slowly made his way outside. A thin layer of snow covered the ground, making Hogwarts beautiful, and yet all it seemed to be doing was mocking him and his pain. The night before he had written a letter to Octavian, asking how he was, how he enjoyed Beauxbatons. He missed his quiet friend a great deal. He had always been more of a best mate than Caspar in many ways, who didn’t understand what it was like not to be one of the pureblood elite.
Octavian always knew and accepted Aidan for who and what he was. If he were there at the moment, he would smile sadly at Aidan, his black eyes wide and full of unshed tears, and would just sit with him, looking out at the snow and offering silent comfort.
He was now across the English Channel, and Aidan knew that was where Octavian needed to be. Perhaps one day the three of them would be together again, probably with ‘Henri Jacques’ in tow as Octavian couldn’t seem to be without him.
The thought brought a sad smile to his face.
Even though he didn’t have an owl, he made his way up to the owlery, just wanting to quiet his tumultuous thoughts, and perhaps cry a few tears alone and in peace, away from anyone who might see him. He pressed himself into a corner, just letting the sounds of rustling wings and quiet hoots fill his senses as silent tears slipped down his face, the only testament that his heart was slowly breaking, and he wasn’t certain if it would mend again.
Aidan wasn’t certain when exactly he arrived, standing in the door, but neither spoke a word to disturb the unearthly quiet of Aidan’s haven from the world. When his tears continued to fall, Neville pushed himself from the wall and slowly walked forward until he was sitting beside Aidan, holding his hand gently in his own.
“Your mum?” Neville whispered gently and Aidan could only nod.
Then thick, warm arms were wrapped around his waist and Aidan was crying on Neville’s shoulder, clutching to him desperately as the sobs wracked his body, letting out all of the pain and frustration that he could never voice, not under the current government. But Neville always knew how he felt, could read it in his eyes although he managed to fool the Carrow siblings and even many of the other students, even those who had known him since he was eleven years old.
“Hush, it’s all right,” Neville whispered against his ear, kissing it gently and rocking Aidan back and forth, and somehow Aidan found himself believing that if he could just stay in Neville’s arms a little bit longer, everything just might be.