The Sugar Quill
Author: Muggle Molly  Story: Bookends  Chapter: Default
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This one is for my friend Doris…my other bookend

 

 

 

 

Many people that we can call ‘friends’ pass through our lives, some for only a brief time…a blink of an eye.  But if we are lucky, there may be a small number that are with us for a lifetime.

 

This one is for my friend, Doris…the other bookend in our set.

 

 

Bookends

by

Muggle Molly

 

 

Old friends sat on their park bench

Like bookends…

 

 

 

    The two old friends sat under a large oak tree on a bench made of stone.  This was their bench after all, donated by them to stand in this park as a memorial in honor of their fallen comrades from that terrible battle so many years ago.  This was the friends’ Thursday morning ritual.  How many years now?  It didn’t matter; too many to count.  Over the years, they sat here, through each season in turn, sometimes lingering a bit longer in the milder weather.  Today was not to be one of those days, as the sun would not show itself and the hazy sky threatened rain.  But still, they migrated to this spot, under the bare branches of this tree, in the early hours of this bleak November morning.    

 

    The man on the left, closest to the knarred old tree, brushed his salt-and-pepper hair back from his forehead, wrinkling his brow as he reached his other hand into a small paper bag, and for a brief moment the very faint scar he carried there retreated into the creases of his skin.  “Cherry or lemon?” he asked his friend as he pulled two pastries from the bag.

 

    “Lemon,” was the reply from the man seated on the opposite end and he took the roll that was offered, placing it on the paper napkin spread out on the bench between them.

 

    Even in this sitting position, the man on the right appeared to be about a head taller than his companion, and on that head he still sported the last remains of what was once a full mane of flaming-red hair.  However, the magnificent ginger-mixed-with-white beard he wore more than compensated for his shiny pate.

 

    The bearded man passed his friend one of the steaming containers of tea he had purchased just minutes before from the vendor at the edge of the park.  “Hang on, almost forgot,” he said as he reached into his cloak pocket, producing a small silver hip-flask.

 

    Slight grins brushed across their faces as both removed the lids and an ample amount of amber liquid was poured into each cup.

 

    The man on the left raised one eyebrow as his bright green eyes locked onto the blue eyes of the other… a silent comment on his friend’s generosity with the whisky.

 

    “What?  It’s a chilly morning, mate.”

 

    That was an understatement; it was bloody cold.

With a soft chuckle and a slight shake of the head, he began to blow gently across the surface of his tea to cool it slightly.

 

    They sat there in the quiet of the fall morning, each nibbling on their pastry and sipping their tea.  Words were not always necessary, as they had known each other for a lifetime.  They knew each other’s history.  They knew each other’s hearts.  They knew the inner thoughts that would surface in each other’s mind this morning.  Some will be most welcome and comforting; other thoughts not as welcomed.  But it was a packaged deal, these memories that bound them together; memories that ran the gamut from boundless joy to the horrific tragedy that is “war”. 

 

    They each carried many scars deep within their beings, hidden to the outside world.  Early on as they achieved adulthood, Thursday mornings were set apart to deal with these wounds.  Their respective spouses understood this.  Even though these two women had been highly involved in that final battle and had scars of their own, their men needed this therapeutic time together, so they gave it to them freely.  It was as much a constant in their lives now as were the birthdays and anniversaries recorded on their calendars; times to remember, times to celebrate…ritual and traditions.  Each family makes their own.

 

    So the two men sat on their bench, quietly cherishing the company of each other but wandering in their own reverie, silently reflecting on the past.

 

    They often joked that it was a miracle to have even reached this stage in their lives…there had been so many adventures and close calls.  In reality, both were acutely aware that they had been blessed in many ways.  Probably more than they deserved. 

 

    It took many visits to this stone bench to calm the feeling of trepidation that settled on them in their younger days and threatened to pick away at any happiness that loomed on the horizon. 

 

    At first, just the guilt of surviving was hard to live with.  But as time moved on, it became less painful to awake each morning and realize a new day, full of promise and opportunity, was before them when so many of their friends never got the chance for one more day.  Never is a long time.

 

    Each day became a gift, a gift to share with loved ones. They had each found a love that had grown out of friendship and let it fill their lives.  After all, it was love united that conquered hate in the end.  They were able to take that love and multiply it through their children and numerous grandchildren...a virtual sea of continuing love. 

 

    ‘Good’ will always triumph over ‘evil’ if you set it on its course and give it enough time. That was one of the truths the two friends realized together on this bench.  There were many more, but that truth was the most profound.

~*~*~*~

    They never set a time limit for these weekly visits, but each seemed to sense when it was time to leave.  Evidently, that time had arrived on this day, for they both rose in silence from the bench and began to collect the empty bag and cups.

 

    The man on the right paused and inquired, “You remember that old mirror we stumbled across at school in our first year?”

 

    “The Mirror of Erised?” the other asked.

 

    “Yeah, that’s what it was called.”

 

    “Of course I remember.  What about it?”

 

    “Don’t know.  It just popped into my head.  What do you reckon you would see if you stood in front of it today, Harry?”

 

    “No question about it, Ron.  I would see myself exactly as I am.”

 

    The taller man clamped a hand on the shoulder of his shorter friend and said, “Me too, mate, me too.”

 

    Without another word, they turned from each other to go their separate ways and fill the opportunities of the present day that lay before them.

 

  

Time it was,

 And what a time it was,

It was…

 A time of innocence,

A time of confidences.

 

Long ago…it must be...

I have a photograph.

Preserve your memories;

They’re all that’s left you.

 

 

 

A/N: This story is mine from the final battle to present day; the characters and background history were created by J.K. Rowling.  I wish they were mine as well, but they are not, and I am dealing with that the best I can.

    The italicized passages at the beginning and the end belong to songwriter Paul Simon.

    I would like to thank my beta-reader, Ara Kane, for her suggestions and her promptness in returning this story to me.

   To any of you talented artists that read this little story,   I offer you an invitation to do an illustration, since I sadly have trouble drawing a straight line.  I would love to see this pair through your eyes.

 

 

 

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