sorenson lake

 The Blessing of Black Gate

Frederick Sorenson was a man of few words. 

When his father, a mountain man of no uncommon breadth, who had made his living off crafting charmed trinkets for the wishful youths and expectant mothers of nearby villages, gruffly told him one day when he was barely past the age of 10 that he’d had a letter, and passed him an envelope with a slate-gray seal that had the crest of the skull of a stag and a double-headed eagle; when Durmstrang Institute began his summons to their halls with a “To Young Master Frederick Sorenson”; when his mother had burst into what she called tears of pride but seemed more sad than overjoyed – young Frederick bowed his head and said simply, “So.”

And when late one night, early in his third year at Durmstrang, whilst meandering through the halls on the way back from a rather dull Astronomy class and swinging his prize hammer idly in between two fingers; when he’d rounded the corner and run smack dab into two first-year girls, one with dark-hair the color of mountains under the evening sky, and the other with golden hair of the long grass in the meadows at high summer; when Dalia had grabbed one hand and Rosalee the other and both yanked him into an alcove; when he’d peered out and seen the attention of a very hungry-looking frost troll eyeing them greedily not twenty feet away; when Rosalee had grabbed his hammer from his hands and slammed it into the side of the wall, shattering the handle and knocking loose a good cascade of debris that covered the entrance and kept them safe until a blustering groundskeeper be-spelled it all away; when all three collapsed in the Nurse’s office to be read a lecture by the Headmaster and had met eyes under his angry tirade – Frederick, long and lanky and always alone, smiled at his new friends and said meditatively, “And so.”

Then when the years passed, and he was never far behind Dalia Aleksa and Rosalee Nyland in their escapades, and maybe even began a few himself; when Dalia tutored them in Charms in the small library ante-room they claimed as their own by his 5th year and Rosalee taught them how to curtsy when being presented with dignitaries from the Ministry of Magic; when he began to tutor Dalia how to craft the links of a chain together and interweave the spells along the metal, and gently taught Rosalee why her terminology of “half-breed” wizards was offensive; when pies were stolen and knees scraped and teachers outraged and even a duel fought for their honor when Rosalee overheard someone calling them Mudbloods and threw a hex that literally blistered the poor idiot’s ears for two weeks after – Frederick Sorenson closed his eyes dreamily while his two friends bickered amiably away over Wizarding Politics, and said to himself, “I’m glad it’s so.”

And when his two closest and fairest friends turned their eyes towards one another; when sky met sea; when the smiling dimple around Dalia’s mouth grew ever-present and Rosalee began blushing (much to her frustration) every time the Charms Professor crossed her gaze; when he came upon them both one day flushing and disheveled in a glade of summer evergreens, Dalia’s dimple expanded to a brilliant smile and Rosalee’s blushes turned to stars in her eyes; when they returned to the same glade on Midwinter’s Eve in secret, and two wound silver rings he had crafted himself exchanged hands between his dearest ones – the shaggy-haired and lean-cheeked Sorenson brought both their hands together and pressed his lips to each fair forehead in turn, and said, “It was meant to be so.”

And when the whispers began and poison seeped through the air; when he looked around one day and noticed the presence of Half-Blood and Muggleborn children disappearing from Durmstrang; when his fellow professors began to avoid him at the dinner table and Headmaster Nyland looked at him with curiously predatory eyes; when Dalia cried in front of him for the first time on the same night the doors to their offices’ were painted with bright red epithets and slurs; when “Half-Breed” was a term thrown in mutters in the hallway and seen in the malicious, flat eyes of his students from the most esteemed pure-blood families; when Headmaster Nyland threw his daughter screaming on the floor at Midwinter in front of hundreds of students because he had seen the book of poetry Dalia had given her wife for a present; when he faced down his old teacher with fury pulsing hot in his ears and Dalia crouched on the floor behind him protecting Rosalee with her own body, and a rigid and unshakeable condemnation was carved in grim lines on the Headmaster’s brow – Frederick Sorenson, broad-shouldered and unbending, nodded his head, and said, “Then let it be so.”

And when the three of them left Durmstrang and the Northern wizarding hinterlands forever; when the sea swelled beneath (with perhaps a little help from clever Rosalee) and carried them swiftly to a faraway shore; when they traveled until they ended up in another frozen North, this one older, wilder, more untouched than from whence they had come;  when the wind and snow and things none of them wished to name howled outside the warmth of their little hut, nestled against the long, long beaches of an ancient and vast lake; when Sorenson sketched the designs of an immense tower on the dirt of their home and Dalia and Rosalee added their own touches each time they passed it by; when the outline of an entire castle lay on the floor of their cottage – then Frederick Sorenson, eyes afire and pulse erratic with excitement for what felt like the first time in his life, said, “This must be so.”

When the years passed and their school rose up on three islands of bare ice and earth out far in the middle of their vast and ancient lake; when their blood and sweat mingled with stone and water and he sketched the runes his father had taught him long ago absently in between the levels of rock while Dalia deliberately sprinkled salt along the windows as she finished their frames and Rosalee left out bread at the door at night to appease anything hungry that happened to be watching their work;  when those little curiosities of behavior built and built until their old traditions were seeped into the black stone walls; when he felt the rock and air hum as he passed down the hallways with the depth of the enchantment that grew there; when the students crossed the entryway beneath the great, imposing Gate that resonated the loudest in his bones with the magic he felt seeped into the very roots of his school and looked nervously about themselves for the source of their discomfort; when he took the place in front of his first class, the badge of Headmaster pinned absently to one lapel – Headmaster Sorenson, his hair graying and his face creased, smiled and said, “And now it is so.”

And when on the eve of the end of the first year of their new Academy, the Gates were opened against their will and in came the snarling worst of the magic of the Icy North, hungry for blood and light and heat; when he moved into battle with the demon without once thinking that it was one he could win, and felt the bite of claws and teeth and eternal famine the creature brought with it; when the Wendigo’s howling was replaced with the screams of his students, when the sobs of Rosalee lay ringing in his ears, when his head lay in Dalia’s lap and the dark-haired woman wiped the blood from his mouth, her dimple gone; when he lay on the ice and smelled the scent of iron and rock and the faraway tang of the dark woods, lay in the shadow of the dark Gate of the home he had made, a home for himself and his beautiful friends, a home for students who’d never feel unwelcome in these halls, when he raised a hand and watched his life’s blood spill out and pool in his palm –

Then Frederick Sorenson reached out and wiped his blood on the Gate in a swath that shone blacker than black in the moonlight, and he felt the cold and the wind and the stone beneath his great back echo in response.  The hum which always permeated the air of Black Gate Academy hit a high note of piercing clarity in his mind, his blood sealing some pact he had not even known he’d made.  As the night sky darkened in his vision and his breath hissed in a last gasp, Frederick Sorenson whispered,

Let it be so.”

(Feat. Mads Mikkelsen as Frederick Sorenson.)