The Stars are Bright Tonight
The sky was black, dark and starless. Harry Potter sat on the ledge of the Astronomy Tower, gazing across the Forbidden Forest, at the night sky. The only light was from the moon, full and unblinking. The stars had always twinkled - winked at him. Sirius had been like that, winking in fun, after a good laugh. Now it was just the moon - the moon, all by itself, never winking. Like Remus, alone, no reason to have fun. Alone.
"Sirius," Harry whispered out into the night. He was cold, but it wasn't from the air around him. A warm breeze was blowing over him, but it did nothing to warm him, not when inside, he felt frozen over. He felt a tear roll down his cheek, as his eyes began to burn with more tears to shed - tears of pain. "Sirius," he whispered again.
He shivered. So cold…so alone…
He willed the pain, the sorrow to go away, and in its stead, the anger came. Rage boiled inside of him, hot like lava and needing an escape. He shut his eyes against it, as the cold he felt inside boiled into heat, burning his insides, like fire…flames that did not want to go out, yet asked for death.
"Damn you, Sirius!" he screamed into the night air. "Damn you! Why did you leave me?" A sob broke through the rage, and his anger faded. He had long since lost the ability to fall into a complete rage. He had trashed Dumbledore's office, and that had taken most of the anger. The rest of his energy he had spent on mourning over the summer - crying. The tears had come and come, a waterfall that would not end; a pain that would not go away.
"Damn you," he whispered, but it was weak and pained, offering little insult, but conveying so much sorrow. His body doubled over as he put his head in his hands. He choked on his pain, his sobs coming out broken and muffled, as he cried hot tears into his hands, but he was cold again inside. So cold…
He distantly heard the loud but graceful clicking in his mind, but it wasn't registering. His sobs continued, dancing with the sound of another's footsteps.
His hands were getting soaked in his tears, but he couldn't find the strength to pull them away from his face and wipe them, even on his pants.
The warm wind gave another breath, rushing around him, but still, he shivered. His insides were frozen over in pain, and he didn't know what to do about it. He just cried on.
He sniffed, annoyed somewhat at his babyish crying, but he didn't have the energy to care much more about it. He scowled at it, though, and wiped at his eyes. The sorrow was fading again, being replaced by the rage, boiling up for another go. Were his emotions going to continue somersaulting around, ping ponging back and forth for the rest of his life?
He shivered again. He didn't know which he hated more: the freezing cold of his insides, or when they burned in flames, as his rage boiled to a front. He brought his knees up to his chest and shivered again.
Click. The sound stopped. Buried within his thoughts, Harry hardly noticed the absence of the rhythmic stepping. He didn't even consciously realize someone else was there, until something warm and soft was draped over his shoulders.
He jumped a little in shock, looking down, to find two hands pulling back from a blanket they had wrapped over his shoulders. Harry looked up to meet two familiar eyes. The eyes held a kind concern, but also a fierce glare. Harry blinked, his mind registering slowly as he wallowed in his sorrow.
"Firenze?" The centaur offered the smallest of smiles, before stepping up to the ledge of the tower and gazing out across the forest. Harry followed his gaze, the sadness still lingering within him, but the rage had gone, and the tears had stopped for the moment. "The stars don't shine tonight," Harry said after a quiet moment.
"The stars shine every night," Firenze corrected, still gazing out at the sky. "For those who would see them."
Harry didn't ask. Centaurs were naturally cryptic - it was their way. If you asked them a question, they'd likely answer with the same phrase you were asking about. Harry didn't mind. At least they didn't ask questions.
"Your heart is cloudy tonight, Harry Potter," Firenze said. He didn't look at Harry, but he spoke to him in a quiet tone.
Harry glanced at Firenze, but then turned his gaze back to the starless night sky. "I see the clouds of the night, Firenze," he replied after a moment. "Rain clouds."
"Rain clouds storm about your heart, Harry Potter." Firenze finally glanced at him, if just for a moment. "They were pouring, just moments ago."
Harry felt slightly annoyed, but bit it down. What else was new, anyway? "Tears don't mean my heart is cloudy." His words were slightly harsh, but he wanted to get his point across. He was sad, that was all. He wasn't stopping the stars from shining.
"He wouldn't want you to cry for him."
Harry's head snapped over to stare at Firenze. Everyone had tried to speak to him about Sirius, though he had ended the conversations rather abruptly. He had never expected a centaur to speak to him about it, though. He was surprised, and it was likely his surprise that gave him time to think. He held his tongue, which had been about to lash out defensively and end the torment. Firenze had saved his life in his first year, but it wasn't just for that reason that Harry respected him. He trusted the centaur, and those two things kept him silent.
Firenze glanced over at him lightly, his forest-brown eyes settling on Harry's emerald-green ones. He seemed to be waiting for Harry to say something - a retort, perhaps?
Harry paused. He had half an urge to say that what Sirius wanted didn't really matter anymore, but…but he was tired of holding all of his pain inside.
"I miss him," he admitted, and his voice was soft, whispered in pain, as he looked away, down at his knees.
Firenze smiled a gentle smile, almost sympathetic, as he turned his gaze back to the night sky. "We always miss those who leave us," he said. "Whether it be after many years of life, or too soon in their youth." He closed his eyes for a moment, before looking back at Harry. "We all have tears to shed for loss," he admitted. "But he would not want you to cry for him."
Harry looked out across the forest. "He was always laughing." He closed his eyes, as he felt the burning sensation of tears welling up behind them. Behind closed lids, memories invaded his mind. "I can still hear him laughing."
"His body may have fallen away, but the souls of the ones we love never fade," Firenze said. "They live on, in memories, unforgotten and eternal."
"It still hurts," Harry whispered.
"It will," Firenze admitted gently. "But the pain helps us move on, because it can amount to something more. A memory of love, painful as it may be, resurrects them, in ways." Harry listened, but he continued to gaze out across the sky. "Our remembering keeps them immortal."
"Never forget," Harry whispered quietly, his words pulled away gently on the wind. He closed his eyes, a tear rolling down his cheek, as the rage he had felt was cooled, and even the sorrow began to fade away. "I'll never forget him."
"Then he will live on," Firenze whispered in promise.
Harry opened his eyes, and when he did, he saw something in the sky. Near the moon, full and blazing, a single star shone bright amidst the dark curtain behind it. The brightest star in the sky, giving the moon the smallest bit of company, but he thought, perhaps, he could see a difference in the moon.
He looked back at the star. He knew that star. Canis Major, the Dogstar. "Sirius," he whispered. Something on the ground caught his eye, the swiftest of shadows flickering in and out of the darkness – a large bulky shape.
I "A memory of love, painful as it may be, resurrects them, in ways." /I
Harry looked over at the centaur, standing beside him and gazing out at the sky. The clouds had rolled back, revealing the stars, the prospect of rain forgotten, as another memory took its place. A memory of love.
"Thank you, Firenze," Harry said quietly.
Firenze continued to gaze across the forest. "The stars are bright tonight."
Harry looked back across the forest, at the sky, and the brightest star, sitting next to the moon, winked at him. The shadow on the ground flicked into view and then vanished into the forest. A moment later, two howls, no longer lonely, broke through the silent night air.
Harry smiled. "Yes," he whispered, gazing at the moon and the Dogstar. "The stars are bright tonight."
A/N: Cute little thing I thought up one night. I like Firenze – probably because centaurs are awesome, and one of the TV shows I grew up on was Hercules, and the centaur was always my favorite character. Anyway, this was fun to write! Please review and tell me what you think!