The Sugar Quill
Author: Pelirroja  Story: Defiance  Chapter: Prologue
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Laura - very nice start

AN: This story has been brewing in my brain since July 2003. Some things just take time. Hopefully this will be worth the wait.  Much thanks to the beta crew that read and reread: Mincot, Gryffinjack, InFabula and Seriously Sirius.  Albus Dumbledore reads a passage from John Donne; other than that, all words are mine. The characters are JK Rowling’s; I am just borrowing them.

 

~ ~ Born to those who have thrice defied him ~ ~

 

Harry and all the members of the Order of the Phoenix, old and new, were gathered to pay tribute and respect to their fallen colleague.  The dining room at 12 Grimmauld Place was packed to capacity as Albus Dumbledore’s voice filled the room.

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice.”

Dumbledore closed the folio from which he had just read and paused to look up at those gathered in the room. His eyes rested on each member in their turn as if to provide comfort.

“My dear friends, we are here tonight to honour and remember Sirius Black who is now gone beyond the veil. In keeping with a tradition established some seventeen years ago, we are here tonight to share our memories of one who was most valued. May these memories give us all solace, support, and, most importantly, hope.”

A woman lingering at the back of the room took mental stock of how Dumbledore’s words affected everyone. She held her arms about her, playing with the folds of her robe absentmindedly in silent observation. First, she noted Arthur Weasley grimly nodding, as he put an arm of comfort around Molly, who wept silently. Then, there was Hermione, misty-eyed, leaning against Ron whose face was hidden, buried in her hair.  In contrast, Mad-Eye Moody and Minerva McGonagall showed no emotion at all.

As the woman found herself slowly navigating the perimeter of the room, she realised she hadn’t yet even considered her own feelings. Everything had been a blur, so fast, so unexpected. Experience doesn’t aid in certain matters. As Dumbledore had said, it was seventeen years since the last ceremony. Even though his words spoke of hope, elapsed time didn’t make watching this new one any easier.

As she continued to traverse the room, slowly and unnoticed, the second part of the ceremony began. In turn, current members of the Order rose to speak and each began to tell a story or an anecdote about Sirius. Some were funny, some sad, and some were clearly quite embellished over time. All of the stories honoured a man who took risks and paid the ultimate price for doing so.

Sirius was like no other, she thought, and she continued to wind her way around the room. He was part teacher, part warrior, part…well, he was rather indefinable, come to think of it. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted as two people came clearly into view. She froze in her path as she took them in.

Harry and Remus stood together, opposite Dumbledore.  To the casual observer, both seemed to be holding up well under the pressure. She knew better. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that though they were outwardly stoic, their insides had to be churning with anger, sadness, and most of all just the sheer numbing pain of loss.

She found herself transfixed by Harry’s hollow stare; only a Dementor’s kiss could have rendered a more vacant expression.  Pain had clearly dug a deep hole in Harry’s heart.

Others soon made their way beside her to her side. It was macabre, really, the way everyone felt compelled to glimpse Harry’s face. She shrugged off an arm of a fellow mourner, preferring to stand alone. Her head was clearer, alone.

She barely noticed the ceremony happening around her. Snippets of conversation, tributes and asides faded in and out as she continued her wordless vigil.

"The last time we did this, it was for Lily and James. I reckoned it was bound to happen again, but after all this time…I don’t know…” Marlene McKinnon’s voice trailed off.

Caradoc Dearborn came up behind Marlene and nodded his head in solemn agreement, “After surviving all those years in Azkaban, I don’t think any of us ever surmised that Sirius would be taken. The one thing you could always say about Sirius was that he was a survivor. Whatever anyone threw at him, he’d bounce back.”

Mad-Eye Moody, in his familiar gruff voice, added his tribute, “As you all well know, my motto is “constant vigilance”. Details, it’s all about the details when it comes to stealth, and Sirius was a master at---Mundungus, kindly return the goblet from your left pocket to its rightful place on the sideboard----as I was saying, stealth. Sirius was a master at knowing how to blend in. When it came to finding someone to counsel new members of the Order how to break into Death Eater meetings undetected there was no one better. He knew just how to do it without getting caught…”

“I’ll say he was a master at it.” said Gideon Prewett, nudging his brother, Fabian, in the ribs, “He wasn’t captured, he went out fighting, virtually leading the charge, he was.”

“Quiet, Gideon!” snapped Fabian.

“What? It’s not as if they can hear-”

“It’s not that. Bill is speaking next and I want to hear what he has to say. He was barely ten years old the last time I saw him. He and Molly were walking together through Hogsmeade one day just before you and I--”

Shhhh, the both of you!” hissed the woman who had to up until then remained silent.

Before the Prewett brothers had distracted her, she had been studying Harry, who was currently looking more and more forlorn.  She looked about her to see if anyone else had noticed. No, it was clear, she noted grimly, that to their untrained eyes, there was no discernible, difference. Only she noticed, however slight it was, that there was a transformation. With resignation, she returned her attention to Harry’s reactions and to the ceremony.

Emmeline Vance, Elphias Dodge, and Hagrid all recounted their fondest memories of Sirius.  Each of their tales seemed to portray Sirius as the ultimate prankster.  Harry managed to produce a slight, forced smile at each one.

Tonks, who had been shaking her head, rose. “Before you all think my cousin was nothing but an adventurer, an overgrown practical joker, and a womaniser, I had better speak. When I was about two or three-years-old, my mum…”

And there it was. Tonks had inadvertently hit the nail on the head. “Mum”. That explained it all. “Mum” was the perfect word; there are changes only a mother notices. No one else seemed aware of Harry’s change in demeanour. It was subtle: a shifting in position; eyes that focused on the speaker, but did not see; hands that clenched and unclenched. 

As she pushed her long hair out of her eyes, revealing her pained expression, someone else realised what she saw. A hand touched her shoulder gently. This time she did not shrug off the touch; it was one she welcomed.

“He’s stronger than you think, Lily,” the gentle voice of her husband pulled her attention away as he wrapped his arms around her, “I know all of this is hard on him, but he’ll get through it.”

Lily Potter turned to face James. She was about to respond when she noticed that Sirius had also come to stand beside her. Clearly, they had been watching Harry too, but she doubted they saw everything that she did. Despite their love and connection, they were not his mother.

Sirius, however, looked almost as grave as she felt.  “This is so surreal. As many times as I attended one of these ceremonies for a fallen member of the Order, I often wondered if you all could “see us”. And now here I am listening to people speak about me, and I am present to hear it. I never really imagined that you all actually attended. People always said they could feel the presence of those departed. If they only knew how right they were.”

Lily smiled at Sirius. He was right; it was surreal. It was hard to choose the moments of when to look in on those still alive in the physical world. She, James and those departed of the Order had all mostly moved on. They were not ghosts living forever to wallow in the present of what might have been, but they were still keenly interested in what was to come. They did not want their sacrifice to have been for nothing.

“I know, Sirius,” Lily rested her hand gently on his shoulder, “There are times when I feel as though I could almost reach out to those still there. Even if we can’t make physical contact, we still know oftentimes what’s in their hearts, and that’s what makes it so difficult, seeing the pain and not being able to do anything about it. Just because we’re here and not there, doesn’t mean we don’t experience emotion.”

Sirius smiled faintly, as his eyes travelled toward Harry, “I can tell you this, Lily, Harry has his friends. They are fiercely loyal to him. They’ll help him and stand by him, no matter what.”

Lily was about to respond when James interrupted, “Remus is still there to look out for him. He won’t let him forget us.”

“Don’t worry, Lily,” Gideon interjected, “My sister, Molly, loves him like one of her own. She’ll make sure he has everything he needs.”

But that was the problem, wasn’t it? 

“Not everything,” replied Lily, “Even with the best intentions, she doesn’t really know him. She may have seven of her own, but experience doesn’t help in everything. He isn’t hers.”

Everyone’s attention was abruptly called back to the ceremony in the physical world by a sudden outburst. The rest of them looked surprised, but Lily knew it was coming all along. She only wondered that it had taken two-thirds of the ceremony before Harry lost his composure. 

“I CAN’T DO THIS! MAYBE THIS IS FINE FOR THE REST OF YOU BUT… WELL I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! IT’S LIKE YOU ARE ALL TRYING TO PUT HIS MEMORY AWAY - ERASE HIM AS SURELY AS HE IS ERASED FROM THE BLACK FAMILY TAPESTRY!”

Harry fled from the room, unaware that Remus was at his heels. James and Sirius were about to follow when a wail from Lily stopped them. She had let go a shriek of utter desperation that in volume rivalled her son’s outburst.  

Lily looked positively wild with fury and frustration as she turned to the group, “The cost is so high. I can bear the pain of almost anything but I can’t stand what this is doing to my son.  It never ends. As well-meaning as you all are, you just don’t understand!”

Even James seemed to struggle for words of comfort as he came to her. Lily didn’t blame him. James never had felt or sensed some things as acutely as she did. Only Sirius, who had most recently been attached to the physical world, seemed to experience anything approaching her level of pain.

Dorcas Meadows slowly worked her way toward Lily as she addressed her cautiously,  “I think it takes a woman’s perspective to understand what you mean, Lily. All of us here gave our lives, but you’re the only one whose child was left behind. There’s no one in the Order who understands that kind of pain.”

Lily freed herself from James’ arms, her eyes flashed with recognition. She couldn’t believe that she hadn’t thought of it before, “You’re wrong there, Dorcas. There is one person who understands, and the horror of it is that she is all alone. If you’ll all excuse me, I need to be with her.”

In a flash, Lily removed herself from 12 Grimmauld Place. She soon found herself in a room that was practical, clean, and sparse. Although inhabited, it was vacant devoid of any shred of the personality and life of its single resident.

Lily noticed the room’s occupant, a woman with long brown hair and a round face, standing by the window. Although it was a beautiful evening, she made no attempt to open the window or to focus on the activity outside. Her face bore no mark of expression. Lily picked up no sense of a functioning, living mind. 

Lily knew the occupant couldn’t hear her as she spoke. Even if Lily were there in the physical world, the woman, in all probability, wouldn’t have given her any notice. Nonetheless, Lily was going to talk to her anyway.

“I know you’d understand, Alice. You’re as trapped in your body in the physical world and as unable to help your son as I’m trapped and unable to help mine.  We had no idea what our resistance would mean. We did our best to protect them, and now Harry and Neville pay the price for our defiance.” 

 

 

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