A/N: You know how sometimes you get songs stuck in your head? Well, today I got a poem stuck in my head. What can I say? Iím a lit dork. Anyway, it inspired the story youíre about to read (hopefully you havenít run screaming into the night by this time). Iíve reproduced the poem at the end of the story for yíall to read. Frost is good stuff. Poem copyright Robert Frost, Harry Potter copyright J.K.R., imagination copyright me.
The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep
Paws crunching down into cold, up again, down, wind whipping fur, heart beating, blood thundering.
Stop, panting, tongue lolling, breath belching out in clouds of steam into the air. Scrabble at paw, dislodge rock. Lick tiny wound--no hurt. Stinging, but no harm.
Pause. Catch breath a moment.
Snow falling. Catching on fur. Melting in the heat from my body.
I know these woods.
Where am I?
I know them.
Why am I running?
Change. Canít think as a dog. Back to man-form. Concentrate . . . two arms, two legs, less fur . . . Ah, yes.
Staring up into the sky, gray sky with snow floating down out of it. Not remembering exactly, but knowing.
Wrestling in the snow, laughing uproariously. Cubs. Little boys. Laughing too hard to wrestle, and we just flop back in the snow, laughing up into the sky, the endless eternity of stars coming to earth, catching them in our mouths.
Human word. Friends.
James . . .
Somewhere there is a boy, like James but with Lilyís eyes. Ancient green eyes, wide in reflected wandlight as he peers in the alley where I hide . . .
(For the first time, the thought comes to my head . . . did I scare him?)
And close to Harry, too close, far far too close . . .
Traitor. Lying weasel. Sneaking damn rat.
Lips curl back from teeth, low growl deep in throat.
We loved you . . . we loved you. You donít betray your pack.
Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, Prongs. We were a pack.
James is dead. You killed him.
I am as good as dead . . . dead inside, though my body carries me around. So much easier to be a dog. Only visible things can hurt me then.
Remus is alone . . . Remus, the reason we changed ourselves in the first place. So he wouldnít be alone. So he would have a pack.
And now he is alone. He thinks us all lost to him, and he is alone.
And worst of all, he thinks I betrayed Lily and James . . . he thinks I could do this terrible thing . . . Moony, Moony, youíre not so far wrong, for it was by my hand that this happened. My blindness, my arrogance, thinking I could outwit the mole in our midst.
And all that time, it was not a mole, but a rat.
Darkness inside, reaching out to devour . . .
Lift head to the stars. Breathe in cold air. Watch it seep out and dissolve into the air.
If this world were perfect, I could play snow war with my friends once again. If this world were perfect, it would be all four of us, and you never, never would have . . .
How could you, Peter?
We could play with Harry, who is . . . how old is he? (Too long in the darkness. Too long. Perhaps they did take some of my soul. A snack.)
Old enough to play in the snow with his dad and his uncles. Old enough to plot and plan with, ambushes, laughter, piling back into the house to slurp down Lilyís hot chocolate, dripping melting snow on the wooden floors at Godricís Hollow and flee into the mud room when Lily howls.
Bitter cold freezes the tears on my cheeks.
Dogs donít weep.
I know why Iím here. I know why Iím running. Both to and away.
Kill Peter. Save Harry.
My life is that now, only that. It keeps me human . . . I think . . .
So much easier to be a dog, not to think. Not to feel. Only to be.
Wind stirs the hair around my face. Snowflakes land cool on my skin.
I take in a deep breath and let it out, watching it hang in the air before me before drifting away and blending with the snow.
Iíve been traveling as a dog because of my fur, and my four legs, and my strength, and my disguise. But I have been too long a dog, I think, and I am losing the man . . .
I cannot lose the man. The man is the only one who can protect whatís left of the pack.
I will travel as a man for a little while. Just to remind myself that I can.
* * *
STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.