The Sugar Quill
Author: Llewella d'ambre  Story: Wings of the Night  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

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Must escape… stay in the shadows, the darkness… the Dementors… they’re looking for you… now RUN!

Sirius Black didn’t think twice as he tore across the darkened lawn of Hogwarts.  The only thought in his mind was escaping, getting away from the Dementors at all costs.

He charged into the Forbidden Forest, still running full tilt.  He saw nothing of his surroundings as he hurried through the black woodland, darting around the towering trees and stumbling over brush.

When his legs could take no more and his lungs were screaming in protest from their unexpected workout, Sirius finally jerked to a stop.

He glanced about him, turning in a nervous circle like a cornered animal, expecting to see the dark amorphous beings he was so familiar with to come slithering out of the shadows.  But there was nothing in the darkness of the forest except the rustling of a cool breeze.

I got out, I escaped!  

Relief flooded every fiber of Sirius’s body.  He slumped against a tree, trying to slow his ragged breathing, and thought about the night.

He had been trying to get into Hogwarts… trying to get Peter… Peter the worm, Peter the traitor!  Peter the—

His hands convulsed into fists, anger overtaking his gaunt form, his expression twisting with hatred.

His plan hadn’t worked, however.  He had been discovered, and forced to run, run not for his life, but for his very soul.  The Dementors would do far more than merely suck out his happiness if they captured him this time…

Shuddering involuntarily, he turned his hollow eyes to survey his current surroundings, worried about finding his way.

In the darkness, something hidden in the trees let out a sighing breath.

Sirius leapt wildly into the air, his stomach giving one huge leap of terror.  He fell backwards, tumbling to the ground in a heap, his right ankle wrenching with pain.

!!dementor’s kiss!!

The words flashed in Sirius’s mind like a neon sign, dripping with peril.  But the pain in his ankle held him down.

The sighing noise came again, and several large black shapes moved forward, barely visible in the meager moonlight that was filtering from above

Sirius couldn’t help it.  He screamed.

The shapes seemed to hesitate for a moment.  Sirius could feel his eyes bugging as one finally stepped out and into plain view…

“Th-Thestral!” he sputtered hoarsely.  The fear of dementors faded, replaced with the fear of the creature now before him.

The thestral cocked it dragonish head and blinked.  Then it abruptly leaned almost comically forward, just enough to sniff Sirius.

“Well, kill me!” Sirius croaked, sending the animal’s head jerking back.  He could see the almost hopeful way those dead white eyes were staring at him… well, they could get on with it for all he cared!

The thestral snorted and spread its wings indignantly.  Sirius cowered down, aware that several more of the horse-like animals were surrounding him.  One darted forward and grabbed his tunic in its mouth.  A moment later he was swinging in the air.

“Do it!  Just eat me,” he cried, “I have nothing to live for, anyway!  I failed tonight!  Failed!”

The thestral trotted serenely over to a nearby stand of birches, ignoring Sirius’s protests, and deposited him there.  The other thestrals made choked whinnying noises of impatience.  

Sirius sat.  He just wanted these creatures to kill him… to finish it cleanly before the dementors found him.  He had failed James and Lily once, and now he had done it again.  Peter was still free.  He, Sirius, didn’t deserve to live.

If I don’t die here, he thought, I’ll finish it myself.  No point going on, living in fear.  I can get my hands on a Muggle gun… or rope… something…

A thestral interrupted his morbid thoughts.  It nosed a small lump towards him.

Sirius felt himself gasp incredulously as the lump raised its head.  An Aethonan filly!  They adopted it! 

The winged foal gazed at Sirius through her dark eyes, but they were full of pain.  The coppery chestnut coat seemed to glow against the darkness of the forest, reminding Sirius painfully of Lily.  It struggled to its feet, flicking its bottlebrush tail and stirring the tiny protuberances that were growing out of its withers… its future wings.

Sirius saw that something was wrong.  The filly could barely get to her feet, and now she was resting her left forefoot, trying not to put pressure on it.  Without thinking, the man reached his skeleton-like hands out to help.  The group of thestrals stirred uncomfortably.  Sirius didn’t flinch.  Looking at the ethereal animal before him, he was sure he would give his life to save it.

He took the aethonan’s tiny hoof, immediately seeing the problem.  A sharp pebble was packed tightly into the fleshy frog¹.  His thin finger began to pry it out instinctively.

As he did so, he reflected.  A moment ago he was almost welcoming death, and now he was ready to do anything to stay alive, as long as it meant he could help the aethonan.  Can’t die now, he thought resolutely.

The thestrals watched as the small stone was removed and the air was quickly filled with snorts and grunts, of which Sirius did not know the meaning.  A new hope swelled in his darkened heart.  He had helped the foal… and he couldn’t stop at that.  He must help Harry!

A thestral butted his shoulder brusquely and he turned, ready to fight if he had to.  But the creature merely bobbed its head and lowered itself to its knees, staring meaningfully at Sirius.  His eyes narrowed warily, but the thestral remained adamant.

So Sirius limped over to the large animal.  His hands s he grabbed hold of the long black mane and clambered unceremoniously on.  It rose and Sirius immediately felt his stomach give a small jig.  What did he think he was doing?

From below, a minute nicker interrupted his thoughts.  He looked at the aethonon filly.  The thestrals were now crowded around, licking her chestnut coat.  Her warm eyes gazed up at Sirius and he felt his heart tug again, this time with the beginnings of affection.

“Thank you,” he whispered.  “Thank you for making me see that I still must live, if only to help others… to help Harry.”

The aethonon blinked wisely.

“You’ll always be my secret, the thing that will remind what’s important...”

The thestral he was mounted on pawed the ground with annoyance, so Sirius squeezed his legs clumsily, giving it permission to leave.  He now understood that it wouldn’t hurt him. 

It took a few jarring steps at the trot, then lifted from the ground in magnificent flight. 

Sirius looked back as his thestral glided silently at the treetop level.  He caught one last glimpse of the red filly.

“See you… Evans,” he whispered in a strangled voice.

He turned his face to the wind then and allowed himself to be carried away.

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Author’s Note (please do not count as part of the story!) – The word count here is 1162 words.  However, on the forum it was said that a story 150 words over was fine, so 162 over isn’t much more, right?  Right?  Oh, please say it’s right!  *grin*

¹ - The frog is a sensitive, weight bearing part of a horse’s hoof.

 

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