One of the great gifts sure and it is to be free in this place, but none as ever roamed here was again fully free of this place, I reckon. It sticks in yer soul so and it does, an idyll and an ideal all at once, a vast vista and a personal panorama at one and the same time.
Grounds now, they're a joyous and a burdensome thing, the very reason we act and the turf we strive to thrive and protect. These be such as a man might never compass entire, no, not in a lifetime of strolling and caring, touched as they are by magic and wondrous places. That lake, she's a lady only as the mood takes her, don't ye know, otherwise she can be a true bi-ast. There are such in her depths as have never made it within reach of the most filtered sunlight, and by my reckoning 'tis but one of the ways we're blessed, that. Mind, the Slytherins are below even that, in a literal sense you understand, and Mermish being no tongue of mine, I've still held converse with such of their folk as bother themselves to tame a few words of the air-breathers. They care for theirs much as I for mine, and truth be told I've had helpful advice from them as dwell in the depths.
I'm a man as harbours in the arboreal ye might say, but there's one tree hereabouts as even I steer clear of - for a great and ancient force it is, to be respected from afar by such as have a regard for limbs of their own, I reckon. Forestwards he's to be found, verging on the forbidden so to speak, where tracks overlap, and the righteous soul ventures not on moonless nights without compelling cause - though I suppose there's such as might deem a death wish a compelling cause. Heard I have of the Yank lady befriending what lies in the gloom they don't own, given how many eyes they have to pick up the tiniest shard of light, but a wise man finds himself a path through life that doesn't call for that to be tested, I reckon. If she's not around, I for one would issue no guarantees of the fate awaiting.
There's a lighter side, a bright welcome at the gates, and room to roam on broom and foot among the ancient forms and geodesic grafts to the pulsing landscape of these parts. Few have strolled in one go even the full circumference of the castle, for a goodly distance it is, with so many temptations to waylay a mind and spirit of 'most any calibre. For me at least, any circuit'd open an' close rightly but at the Hut, for gamekeeper and groundsman share a bond such as few can know, and fewer that haven't survived the crucible of war. Mind, these days, there are those among us who did face the Shadow out of the Desert, or stood in Ancient Rome 'gainst that madwoman who supped of souls. Anyway, the Hut abuts the Circle, which in turn and form funnels into the Covered Bridge, from whence, on a clear day, a witch foresighted might see any destiny to be hers 'tis said. Emerging thence is the Clock Tower Courtyard, or 'from the rackety to the racheted', as my old gaffer used ta say.
These lands are of a seven-league ilk, to any minded to limit them by measurement, no doubt, but the knowing of them resides in that there edifice, right enough, supplemented as needs drive by those around o' course. 'Tis a marvelous thing, i' faith, the whispering o' the green, the gentle sigh as modulates a zephyr, and in distant lands sets loose a spiralling seed to bring life new to parts untold or touched. The comings and goings, in the seasonal sense, well they rather naturally centre on that iron-way over there, 'though stationary it rarely be, not wi' the tides o' wizardkind congruent. I've a mind to puff meself, though but a pipe it should be said, when I watch her hove into view in all her carmine and sable glory, for she's a fine old filly, the Express, and a servant of long-standin', much like the rest of us.
Memories ingrained, now there's an entirely other cauldron o' caterwaulin' carp as I see it, for those here inscribe their own pathways in the mind, priority and familiarity jostling for pole position as 'twere. Mind, every good student as I know on, has come, once at least, to see the blanched stone and contemplate what it means to them. Nary a Head gave more, not as any on the walls tell it, whatever their animus in life may have been, an' if there's a single spirit ta this place, it's his, sure enough. There's them as say, of an autumn night, out by the pumpkin patch, those open to the sidhe and fae can still hear him, humming his thoughts back to him, as he keeps his constant vigil.
There's more besides, o' course, and far, as yon pennants proudly proclaim, the Houses and the spirit that imbue the Quidditch Pitch wi' such a sense as must be felt, and cannot be spoke on, not fully to the purpose. 'Tis a melange o' marvels, so 'tis, and any witch or wizard as sez they took and labelled every aspect shows but their own narrow vision. A lifetime long and lusty I've spent 'ere, and even when I sleep in her embrace, this piece of land will still preserve from me much of her mystery whilst givin' me all her magic. Ye've a gatherin' ta be at, I'll warrant, so enough o' flannelin' an ol' man to show his age by the length of his recollection - be off with ye to the hall, and show that learnin' and wisdom both start with open mind and heart.