The Sugar Quill
Author: Teresina Dragonwagon  Story: Travelin' Soldier  Chapter: default
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Travelin' Soldier


Travelin' Soldier


Two days past eighteen

He was waiting for the bus in his army greens

Sat down in a booth in a café there

Gave his order to a girl with a bow in her hair


She had worked as a waitress in the Three Broomsticks that summer so that she would have enough money for her school supplies the next year. That was where she met him. The soldier.


He'd just turned eighteen, he told her. Though at the age of seventeen wizards were considered legal, they had to be eighteen to be in the army. He'd joined as soon as he could. "The sooner the world is rid of this menace, the better," he had said. "I want to help."


He's a little shy so she gives him a smile

And he said would you mind sittin' down awhile

And talking to me, I'm feeling a little low

She said I'm off in an hour and I know where we can go


He'd looked tired and sad, and when he'd offered in a shy voice to buy her a mug of tea, she'd smiled and accepted. She sat quietly, stirring her tea, for a moment, then asked, "What does your family think of you joining?"


It had taken him a minute to answer. "My mother died when I was born," he said. "My father was killed just last year, somewhere out on the battlefields. I'm an only child, and…well…there’s nobody special in my life.”


"Oh," had been her reply. She stared down into her tea. They sat together in silence until Madam Rosamerta noticed that she wasn't working and told her to take the order of the customer who had just walked in the door.


"I get off in an hour," she told him quickly as she stood up. "Meet me at the far end of the street then. I want to show you something."


He'd looked happily up at her, then nodded and left.


An hour later, she slung her apron into the back room and hurried down the street. He was waiting for her, and he smiled as she walked up. "You came," he said simply.


So they went down and they sat on the pier

He said I bet you got a boyfriend but I don't care

I got no one to send a letter to

Would you mind if I sent one back here to you


She nodded. "Of course." She glanced around, then said, "this way," and headed off the street into the small grove of trees at the edge of the town. Frowning, he followed her.


About five minutes later, she came out of the trees and into a small clearing. A stream tinkled along one end of the small space; the other held several flat boulders covered in a thick layer of moss. By some odd quirk of the light, and of the water splashing against the rocks and up into the air, the stream was hung over by millions of tiny rainbows.


She heard him gasp behind her. Turning around, she said, "Isn't it beautiful?"


He nodded. "Amazing," he replied, sitting on one of the rocks. She seated herself next to him. "You never told me your name," he said softly after a few minutes.


"Arabella," she replied. "Arabella Lawrence."


"And I'm Jeremy Figg," he said, and they both smiled.


I cried

Never gonna hold the hand of another guy

Too young for him they told her

Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier

Our love will never end

Waitin' for the soldier to come back again

Never more to be alone when the letter said

A soldier's coming home


Three hours passed as they sat and talked in the little glade. "Oh, Merlin," Arabella exclaimed, glancing at her watch. "I was supposed to be home an hour ago. Mum's going to kill me."


"Wait," Jeremy said as she stood up. "You probably have a boyfriend—"




"Can I write to you, then? From training camp? I leave tonight," he said.


She smiled at him. "Of course," she said again. "Goodbye, Jeremy."


"Goodbye," he replied, watching as she ran lightly into the woods and out of his sight.


So the letters came from an army camp

In California then Vietnam

And he told her of his heart

It might be love and all the things he was so scared of


A week later, Arabella received her first letter from Jeremy at the training camp. He wasn't allowed to tell here where it was, but from his descriptions she thought it was probably somewhere in Ireland.


She started her final year at Hogwarts two months later. In that time, she'd received at least one letter every week from Jeremy, and sometimes two. With each letter he poured a little more of his heart out to her. With each letter she fell a little bit more in love with him.


She received another one at the end of her first week of school. "Who's that from?" her friend Sayrah asked, not recognizing the owl.


"Jeremy," Arabella replied absently.


"Ooh," Sayrah said. She smacked the girls on either side of her. "Bella's got a letter from 'Jeremy'."


"Ooh," the other two girls squealed.


"Who's Jeremy?" one of them, Katelyn, asked.


"He's…he's a soldier," Arabella replied, blushing slightly.


"A soldier!" Ami, the other, exclaimed. "Bella, you've got a soldier writing to you?"


"Yes. His name is Jeremy Figg, and—and he has two days, this weekend, to go on leave and come back home before he goes to fight."


"Is he going to come here?"


"Are you going to go see him?"


"Oh, Bella, a soldier…"


Arabella bit her lip. "Actually, I'm going to ask Dumbledore if I can make a special trip to Hogsmeade to see him."


Sayrah, Katelyn, and Ami all looked at each other, then burst into giggles. "Oh, shut it," Arabella told them, though she was smiling herself, and left to go and find Dumbledore.


The next day found her waiting nervously in the Three Broomsticks. She'd been sitting there for about ten minutes when a familiar figure in an army uniform walked through the door. "Jeremy!" she called happily.


He walked over to the table. "Hey, Ari," he said, hugging her tightly before sitting down next to her. "I've missed you."


"I've missed you, too," she said with a smile.


They chatted amiably for about an hour, then fell into a comfortable silence which was broken when Jeremy said tentatively, "Ari, I have something to tell you."


Arabella looked up at him. "Yes?" she said.


"Before I go…I just want you to know that…that I love you."


She gasped.


Looking back on it, she was still amazed by how quickly it had all happened. Two days later, Arabella Lawrence had become Arabella Figg—and Jeremy had left again, but this time to go to war.


He said when it's getting kinda rough over here

I think of that day sittin' down at the pier

And I close my eyes and see your pretty smile

Don't worry but I won't be able to write for awhile


She continued to receive letters from him, but they came less frequently than before, and oftentimes the letters were no more than a few sentences long. But somewhere in the letter was always the phrase "Never forget that I love you."


Though Arabella hadn't told her friends about her marriage, all three could tell something major had changed over that weekend. Though they interrogated her about it constantly, she refused to answer any of their questions—until one day in early November, when Jeremy sent her the longest letter she'd ever received from him. "When we're in the heat of battle," he wrote, "Dark wizards firing off spells at us from every side, all I have to do is remember the day I met you, sitting in that glade, and you smiling at me, and it gives me the strength I need to keep fighting."


"Tomorrow," the letter continued, "we're heading off to face battle once again. It's not expected to be a very big confrontation, or even a very important one, but for some reason I have an odd sense of foreboding about what the day will bring. I may not be able to write for awhile, but don't worry about me. I'll be all right," and then his customary "Never forget how much I love you. Jeremy."


I cried

Never gonna hold the hand of another guy

Too young for him they told her

Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier

Our love will never end

Waitin' for the soldier to come back again

Never more to be alone when the letter said

A soldier's comin' home


She was worried, though. Terrified. Sayrah noticed, and that night, after everyone else had fallen asleep, said, "Bella, you have to tell me what's going on. It's tearing you apart."


Arabella sighed. "You're right," she said, and told her friend the whole story—how she'd met Jeremy, and fallen in love with him, and then, when he'd come home on leave, they had gotten married.


"Oh, how romantic," Sayrah gasped when she was finished. "But how could that possibly be what's wrong?"


For answer, Arabella handed her friend the letter she'd received that morning. The girl read it in silence, then said, "Oh, Bella," and hugged her tightly.


"I'm so worried about him," Arabella confessed, tears beginning to stream down her cheeks. "I'm so afraid that I'll never see him again…"


"Don't be," Sayrah replied, shaking her head. "Just remember what he said: he'll always love you."


Arabella gave her a watery smile, which her friend returned. "Now go to sleep. We have an early class tomorrow, remember?"


Two months passed with no word from Jeremy. Christmas went by in a dreary blur for Arabella, who, though she was grateful for the presence of her friends, and of their gifts to her, couldn't help but think of Jeremy somewhere out on the battlefields. Fighting. At Christmas.


New Year's went by, too, and Arabella's nerves were fraying rapidly. Katelyn and Ami had long since figured out that her gloominess had something to do with the mysterious soldier, but only Sayrah knew the entire truth.


One Friday night at a football game

The Lord's Prayer said and the anthem sang

A man said folks would you bow your heads

For a list of local Vietnam dead


One Friday in mid-January, Ami managed to convince Arabella to come to a Gryffindor-versus-Slytherin Quidditch match. As was traditional before a Quidditch match, everyone stood and sang the school song. Once teachers, students and Hogsmeade citizens had seated themselves again, the commentator said, "And now a list of those brave soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the fight against the Dark Lord…"


Arabella felt a thrill of horror. No. Oh, God, no.


"Jeremy Figg…"


She didn't wait to hear any more. She ran back up to the castle, sobbing, and didn't stop until she reached the dormitory. Flinging herself on her bed, she bawled into her pillow. After awhile, time seemed to stop, and she just lay there, not knowing how long it was before someone came to find her.


Crying all alone under the stands

Was a piccolo player in the marching band

And one name read and nobody really cared

But a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair


"Bella? Are you in here?" said a voice.


Arabella roused herself enough to let out a soft sob.


"Bella?" Sayrah came into her line of vision. "Bella! What's wrong?" Arabella just shook her head. And then Sayrah answered her own question.


"Oh, my, God—the soldier—oh, Bella—" Sayrah sat down on the bed and wrapped her arms around her friend's shoulders. "Oh, Arabella, I'm so sorry…"


Arabella's only response was a series of rapid hiccups that turned into a wail and more sobs. The two girls sat on the edge of Arabella's bed for a long time, holding each other, Sayrah offering as much comfort as she could to her best friend.


Somehow, even though they had managed to keep the truth about Arabella's relationship with Jeremy a secret for months, by the next morning half the school knew that Jeremy Figg was, in actuality, the quiet seventh-year's husband. Dumbledore offered to give her the day off to mourn, but Arabella declined. The less she had to think about it, the better, she reasoned with herself.


She went through the rest of the year in a sort of stupor. Time dragged on as graduation grew closer and closer, leading, inevitably, to the day when she would have to leave Hogwarts behind.


On Graduation Day, she managed to paste on a smile for her parents and friends, but it wasn't any more real than her pretended joy at having graduated with honors in all her classes. She left that evening with her mother and father, still feeling completely alone.


I cried

Never gonna hold the hand of another guy

Too young for him they told her

Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier

Our love will never end

Waitin' for the soldier to come back again
Never more to be alone when the letter says

A soldier's coming


Arabella fingered her graduation scroll, which her parents had insisted upon hanging in her bedroom. Arabella Lawrence, it read, Class Of 1977, cum laudae.


"Lawrence," she whispered to herself, closing her eyes briefly. Two days from now would mark the four-year anniversary of the day she had met Jeremy. Each year, she suffered through it, spending most of her time either crying over her lost love or thinking about him. Her parents and friends were all worried about her; she hadn't gathered herself up and moved on the way people had expected she would. Sayrah had said that she just needed time; Ami had said that she didn't think Arabella could ever truly get over the loss of her one true love; and Katelyn said that, since it was a shocking event which had sunk her into her depression, only another one could pull her out. As it turned out, they were all right.


Everyone knows what happened on the night of October the thirty-first, 1981. But Arabella, upon hearing through her father, who worked with Dumbledore, that Harry Potter would be sent to live with his Muggle relatives, went straight to her former headmaster.


"Professor Dumbledore," she'd said, "my father told me that you were still looking for someone to live near Harry Potter, as a sort of guardian, to keep watch over him and maintain the magical wards surrounding his home."


"Yes, I am," the old man agreed, and Arabella realized he probably knew what she was about to ask.


"I want to volunteer for that job," she told him.


"I will gladly accept you as his guardian—if you can answer one question for me. Why do you want to do this?"


"Professor, I lost the person I loved the most at the age of seventeen," Arabella said, tears blurring the Headmaster's face. "Harry Potter lost his parents, the people whom he depended upon for everything. The fact that we've both lost someone so…so close to us makes me feel like we have some sort of special bond."


Dumbledore nodded. "Which is the answer I expected from you, Arabella," he said. "You've always been a brilliant young woman."


Two weeks and one dose of Aging Potion later, Arabella Figg moved into a small house two blocks down from Privet Drive.


She sat on the front porch of her new home one night, about a week later, thinking. She only vaguely remembered Lily and James; they'd been sixth or seventh years back when she was still in her first or second. But she did recall that they had both been funny, bright people, well-liked by the other students. She felt Harry would certainly turn out the same way, horrid Muggles or no.


As she sat reminiscing, Arabella realized what her friends had come to see in the past few weeks: she had accepted the fact that Jeremy was gone, though she was not the same carefree, intrinsically happy girl she had once been. She was a woman now, twenty-one years old, who had faced such pains in her life as many never face until their thirties. And it had changed her.


And she would always remember her soldier.


I cried

Never gonna hold the hand of another guy

Too young for him they told her

Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier

Our love will never end

Waitin' for the soldier to come back again

Never more to be alone when the letter says

A soldier's coming home




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