The Sugar Quill
Author: Jack Ichijouji (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Here Lies a Friend  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.

Disclaimer: If I had owned Harry Potter, I wouldn't have killed

Disclaimer: If I had owned Harry Potter, I wouldn't have killed Sirius. I would have killed... James. He was already dead, no one would have missed him. Of course, you might still have weird people crying over poor Zombie James.




“I need one hundred and forty-four Dungbombs, please.”


Zonko stared. As the owner and proprietor of a magical joke shop, he was used to strange things. They were, essentially, his stock in trade; he'd even invented a whistle that made a belching sound when you blew it. But nothing had quite reached the level of oddness held by Harry Potter walking into his store and demanding, albeit very politely, a gross of Dungbombs.


“Come again?”


“I need one hundred and forty-four Dungbombs. It's very important, please,” said Harry.


Zonko made a point never to ask what his customers planned to do with their purchases, much in the same way that a gun and ammo shop owner never says, “Gee, that's a pretty precise sniper rifle for just hunting deer.” But the Hogwarts rumor mill is legendary, and he'd heard from a student whose brother was dating a girl whose sister had met someone who'd seen the Weasley twins set off their fireworks that apparently, parts of the school were still smoking. So he said, almost as if trying to talk Harry out of it, “That's a lot of Dungbombs.”


“Yes.” Harry's eyes betrayed nothing. Zonko shrugged. The boy would get his bombs somehow, so Zonko might as well make some money out of it.


“I'll just go get you a box, then,” he said, mentally telling his conscience that it could go mind its own business. Dungbombs, well, they weren't dangerous, as such. The gas wasn't toxic, just... smelly. And even a lot of them would just... smell.


But it was a lot of Dungbombs.


He began to pack them in the box as the twin powers of greed and rationalization beat out the lone voice of conscience in his mind.


Not so many. And besides, this was Harry Potter. The Prophet insisted that he was a kind lad, despite all the bad press of the past. The Prophet wouldn't lie! They had... people. Who checked things.


Yeah.


He tapped the box with his wand, muttered a spell under his breath to make the box lightweight, and carried it to the counter. Harry was still there, browsing through the magazine rack. Zonko cleared his throat. “That comes to a total of... twenty-six Galleons, five Sickles, and thirteen Knuts.” That was a lot. He'd make Employee of the Month. Of course, only he and his wife were running the place, but that wasn't the point..


Harry reached into his pocket and counted out twenty-seven Galleons. Zonko had never seen that much money in one place. The register rarely had more than five Galleons in it at a time. At this point, even his conscience was saying, “You know, on the other hand...”


“Here's your change,” he said. His hands were shaking, and his eye was twitching. He'd never sold this much in a week, let alone one day. “And Happy Halloween,” he added, a huge smile on his face.


Just wait till I tell Alice.


~*~


The used—pardon, vintage—bookstore in Soho smelled of dust and age. Upon entering, Tonks felt that she was aging faster than she had been when she was outside.


She looked around and spotted a blond man of indeterminate age behind the counter. He was glaring at her, as if daring her to buy one of his books. Undaunted, she walked up to him. “Hi!” she said, trying the friendly approach. “I'm looking for a book.”


The man looked around at the dusty bookshelves. “Can't help you there,” he said sarcastically.


“A specific book,” she said, the friendly tone gone.


“Oh, a specific book. Why didn't you say so? I keep my specific books upstairs.” He returned his attention to the magazine he'd been reading before Tonks had the audacity to attempt being a customer at his store.


“Look, I'm trying to find Classic Motorcycles and You: A Buyer's Guide, and I'm in a hurry. Do you have it or don't you?” Her tone wasn't threatening, but it was unthreatening in the sense that it could become so very quickly.


“Probably. I developed my filing system a long time ago, and don't remember how it worked. Look around.”


Don't kill the Muggle, don't kill the Muggle, don't kill the Muggle... she chanted mentally. She stomped upstairs, unsettling dust that seemed to have been there since before London had been founded. Normally, Tonks would follow the rules—well, no, but she'd think about it—but she was in a hurry today. “Accio Classic Motorcycles and You: A Buyer's Guide!” she exclaimed, pointing her wand at the shelves.


The book flew at her, knocking over several yellowing plants on the way. “Whoops,” she said, in a tone indicating that no, no she wasn't, really. The dirt wouldn't be noticed among the dust anyway.


She returned to the counter without incident, though she did have trouble paying for the book. “No, that's not a twenty, that's a ten, that's a twenty...” fussed the man. Fussy, catty, reading... Tonks sneaked a look at the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens. He's gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide.


“Thank you, come again,” said the owner, although he said it in a tone suggesting that she should only return if she planned to return his bloody book.


Not bloody likely, thought Tonks.


~*~


After James and Lily had been killed, and Sirius arrested, Remus had put all the gifts Sirius had ever given him into a box. He felt guilty for keeping it, but a part of him rationalized that the box reminded him more of James, Lily, and Peter than Sirius. It was a lie, but a comforting one.


For years, he didn't look in the box, because it reminded him that one of his best friends had been a traitor.


Years later, when Remus and Sirius met again, Remus still didn't look into the box, because it reminded him that he'd once thought his best friend a traitor.


But now, his first friends long gone, and the life he lived a far different one from the life he'd set out with, he felt that he could tolerate the box.


He still knew where it was, of course. He'd kept it with him every time he'd moved. And it wasn't as if he had too many possessions to search through at any rate.


Remus sat down in front of the box and carefully lifted the lid. The air in it was stale, and a surprising amount of dust seemed to have found its way in, but the contents were the same as he remembered.


He sifted through carefully, not certain what he was searching for. Most of the gifts were toys; Remus had been no older than twenty-two when he'd packed this box away, and Sirius had been a child even then. There were Chocolate Frog Cards, tiny Quidditch figures, a My Little Grim that he'd bought for Nymphadora—as she was still called at the time—but had given to him instead. They were all distinctly Sirius, but...


At the bottom of the box, underneath an old Martin Miggs, he found a tiny leather pouch. He couldn't remember what it was, but trusted that he wouldn't have put anything dangerous in there.


Carefully, in case it was something fragile, he untied the pouch and let its contents fall into his hand. It was exactly what he'd been looking for.


~*~


The trees were bare, except for a few brown leaves still clinging stubbornly to their branches. The sky was gray, and the air was crisp and chilly. It was probably the ideal weather for a funeral.


Behind the Shrieking Shack, a small group of people stood, gathered around what appeared to be a hole in the earth. They seemed to be waiting for something, or someone.


There was a pop as someone appeared next to the oldest of the group. “All right, everyone?” she asked nervously.


After a few moments, a young man carrying a box ran up, breathing heavily. “Sorry,” he panted, placing the box on the ground. “Took a minute.”


“Quite all right, Harry,” said Remus. “Whenever you're ready.”


Harry took a few deep breaths, and stood up straight. He didn't know quite what he wanted to say, but he knew what he wanted to be said. “Sirius...” he began, looking around the group, “Sirius was a friend. Some of you didn't know him any better than I did, and others knew him better than I could have hoped to. And, er, I thought it would be a good idea for us, for all of us, to have a way to... to say good-bye to him. Er.” He turned his gaze to the box, and placed it in the hole. “A gross of Dungbombs probably isn't enough for Sirius, but it's the kind of thing he would have appreciated.” He looked as if he wanted to say more, but had no more to say.


Tonks placed the book on top of the box. “He took me on his motorcycle once. Of course, Mum had a fit, and forbade him from ever doing it again. But when we met up again, he said, 'Once I'm cleared, kid, you and me, we're going on a ride.'” There were tears in her eyes, but she was smiling. “Just as well. Mum would have killed him.”


One by one, everyone present added something. Ron, a hippogriff feather quill. Hermione, a small book of Christmas carols and a Father Christmas hat. Ginny added an Extendible Ear, and Fred and George each placed a bag of dangerous sweets. Finally, Remus placed a small tooth in.


“Werewolf teeth are destroyed when they fall out, by Ministry decree. Sirius always said that it was ridiculous that I couldn't own something as simple as my own teeth. So he gave me one of his. His last baby tooth, I imagine.” He sighed the sigh of a man who has long since cried all the tears he could. “You know, Halloween was his favorite holiday.


Remus waved his wand, and the soil replaced itself over Sirius' memorial. They sat together for a time in silence, until George cleared his throat. “We should probably get back to the shop,” he said, motioning to Fred. “Good-bye, all.”


They Disapparated, and the group started to leave one by one, until it was just Harry and Remus. “You aren't going with your friends?” Remus asked.


“I'll catch up with them later.”


“This was a very good thing you did, Harry. Thank you for inviting me.”


“I... You're welcome. I just wanted to say good-bye, is all.”


Neither spoke for some time as they sat together, but Remus thought, So did I.


~*~


The memorial, and it can be called nothing else, is still there. It's unmarked, because if you have any business there, you already know where it is.


There's no epitaph, because this is a man whose life can't be summed up on a rock. If nothing else, however, the most appropriate thing said in this place was “Sirius was a friend.”




Requiescat in pace, Sirius.

//
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