Title: Invisible (The Shadow Play Theatre remix)

written by Becky M

listen. don't listen. listen.

A bare bulb above, chain suspended high enough for a little boy to need to stand on the army cot in order to light it. The grate on the door cast a dim square on the wall, horizontal bars confining. Hardly enough room for shadows in the cupboard under the stairs, but enough. Yes, enough.

The boy on the cot watched the wall avidly, waiting for something. Someone. There was a world within his green eyes: a world of daring swordsmen, brave aeroplane pilots, and beautiful queens of ancient, hidden lands. Eyes that could see the shadows invisible people cast. Full eyes. Magic eyes.

She was shaped like a young girl, small enough to step into the square of light on the wall. A sword hung at her side. How now, good shadow. Whither wander you?

A second shadow danced into the light, leaping and pirouetting with toes pointed. Here, there, and everywhere. Over hill, over dale, through brush, through briar. Over park, over pale, through flood, through fire. I do wander everywhere, swifter than the moon's sphere.

The shadow laughed, took the other's hand. I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The shadows spun each other around gaily, dancing across the patch of light, chanting together at first: I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me—and what can be the use of him is more than I can see!

Si, si, senorita, the first continued, pressing her lips to the hand of the second. thou are fair, thou art beautiful fair, thine eyes are doves and thy teeth a flock of sheep, thou art lovely as the dawn, dauntless and free. Let me gaze upon thee, for thou art fair.

The second shadow turned away from the first. Do not look at me because I am black, for the sun hath looked upon me. There is nothing new under the sun. Here comes the sun and I say, it's all right. She looked suddenly at the first shadow, spun around, embraced her. It's all right, she murmured.

Cherry blossoms swirled around the two and a third shadow approached jauntily, interrupting the happy couple. I am a roving gambler; how do you do?

The shadows sprang apart, quivering. The third laughed gaily. Aha! You're a fishmonger, she told the second, who recoiled. Gotcha. A square-shaped parcel slid halfway out of her pocket.

A hissing voice, a crouching whine, a clang as the metal sword hit ground—suddenly the first shadow shrank down, clawing and snatching at thin air. What has it gots in its pockets? We wants it, we do. Give it to us.

The second shadow made to grab the parcel and failed. She snarled greedily. I want to lock it all up in my pocket—it's my bar of chocolate. Give it to me now.

The third took the parcel out, weighed it questioningly in her hand, tossed it back and forth from one hand to another, and threw it up in the air. Take it, then, in memory of me.

The two shadows jumped up, scrambling for it, knocking it to the floor and then pawing for it. Suddenly, they emitted twin cries of shock, outrage. The second shadow fell back, as if stabbed. It's nothing but a pack of cards! she declared.

Nothing, nothing, nothing comes from nothing, echoed the first shadow, gleefully.

The third shadow bowed, doffing her plumed hat. Aye, and I am Jack-of-All-Trades, master of none and mistress of nuns. None of the above, you see.

I'll have none of nuns, the first shadow roared angrily, knocking the hat from the third's hand. FEED ME SEYMOUR!

The second snorted disdainfully. I'm a lady, not a five-star-chef. But the she grabbed the arm of the third, shaking her violently, tugging her toward the newly boiling cauldron. Ah. You'll do. Into the pot with you. A push and then, SPLASH.

Laughing wickedly, the two remaining shadows donned pointy hats and danced around the bubbling cauldron, chanting together: Sugar, spice and everything nice—that's what our soup is made of. Soup, soup, beautiful soup. Soup of the evening, beautiful soup.

I want a big bowl! cried the first shadow, spoon in hand, as the second shadow mimed taking her order.

She tossed the pen and pad of paper to the other, then, grabbing the spoon from the air with a laugh. Make mine a double.

A shared giggle and they danced around the cauldron again: Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.

The second mimed a throwing motion: Eye of newt, she chanted.

The first sprang up into the air, knees bent like a Russian dancer: Toe of frog!

The second shadow spun in place, drawing out her words Tongue of bat…

…and great green gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts! the first concluded triumphantly. The second shadow placed her hands on her hips, as if to emphasize her impatience and astonishment. The other shrugged her shadowy shoulders, tittering nervously, There was a sale at market?

The boy on the cot laughed, laughed long and hard, clutching at his sides in a futile attempt to contain his mirth, rocking as he was from side to side. He laughed and laughed, until tears spilt out of his too-wise eyes and there came the blow of a fist upon the cupboard door. "Oi! Who're you laughing at, bumface?"

The patch of light flickered on the wall, like a dying bulb.

"Just my shadows, Dudley." The boy turned back to the wall. He swallowed—swallowed hard—and whispered again to himself, as if his heart would break: "Just my shadows."

His eyes were glass-green, were blank. Ordinary eyes of an ordinary boy. Eyes that had never seen shadows.

The boy buried his face in his pillow and wept.

After what might have been an eternity, the third shadow poked her head out of the cauldron. When shall we three meet again? she asked, her voice quivering with quiet sadness, the cheerful curve of her pony-tail wilted. In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Silence. Only silence.

The windows of Gryffindor tower were high, wide, bisected by iron bars. More than enough room for the moonlight to cast shadows. The boy lay on top of a red velvet quilt, wand dangling between his fingers, empty green eyes reflecting the light until they suddenly snapped shut.

A cloud passed over the moon. The boy breathed slowly, in and out. The harsh lines of his face softened and for some moments, or eternities, he appeared to be the child he was once. The stars burned like street lamps. The wind whistled as it weaved its way between towers and turrets. The boy slept onwards.

There was silence in the twilight before the dawn.

The silhouette of a young girl stepped out onto the wall. If we shadows have offended…

Another joined her in the bell of borrowed light, cocking her beribboned head to the side …think but this and all is mended…

The third slid out of the reflected crosshatch, standing between the two of them. Her voice was the strongest. We are such stuff that dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

Aye, the first shadow agreed, pigtailed braids bobbing as she nodded, all that we see or seem…

…is but a dream within a dream, finished the second softly. She flickered wistfully for a moment, then straightened herself. We must make haste, said she.

The first shadow nodded. The day breaks, she said, raising her head up to meet the first threads of pale pink dawn, and the shadows flee away. The two sprang up, out of the light, but the third lingered, watching the boy as she slowly faded into the grey stone of the walls.

good night, sweet prince. may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

A/N: Written for Aja during the HP Remix. Heavily inspired by the Be-Papas, so blame them for the weirdness. (Especially Ikuhara. Dude, the man is on crack..) Echoes of Shakespeare, Scripture, Peter Beagle, The Beatles, Tolkein, nineteenth century poetry, childhood rhymes, and other such bits of culture and pop culture abound.