The Sugar Quill
Author: Gryffinjack  Story: The Music of a Soul  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.





This story is based upon the excellent AU of Mincot, who writes the most poignant stories I have ever had the privilege to read based upon the works of another astounding author you may have heard of, J.K. Rowling.  My deepest appreciation to both of them for allowing me to play around in their worlds. 


Thanks to my wonderful beta readers – Alkari, Eir de Scania, and Mincot.



The pale pink light filtered through the bars on the window of his cell, casting a weak light on the dirt floor beneath him.  


Another sunrise. Or was it sunset? Sirius couldn’t remember. Nor did it seem to matter; he was going to be here the rest of his life.  


Sirius had been numb those first few miserable days here – it was incomprehensible to him that he was actually a prisoner in Azkaban. What seemed oddly worse to him was that he hadn’t even done anything wrong to end up here. No, that wasn’t right. Although the actual betrayal had been Peter’s doing, Sirius had been responsible for making James and Lily put their very lives in Peter’s hands instead of his own. That had been his fault. And now, James and Lily were both dead, Remus was alone, and he, Sirius, was in a filthy, cold cell in Azkaban with nobody but Dementors and insane criminals for company.  


After those first few days, Sirius had tried in vain to maintain his perspective. He had tried to think of happy memories to try to cheer himself up as he sat in his dark, musty cell, listening to the shrieks of terror of the wizard in the cell next to his. But one by one, the Dementors had sucked those happiest memories out of him. Gone were his memories of … if only he could remember what they were, but he couldn’t. They were gone as surely as the life he had planned for himself. He had to find something else to keep his spirit strong or else he would go as insane as the witch two cells down who wailed and shrieked around the clock for death to free her. He sometimes thought that it wouldn’t be nearly as bad if there were a piano to play, but of course there wasn’t.


Sirius did not let the absence of an actual piano stop him from creating music, however. Music was a part of him; it was ingrained in him. It had been one of his few outlets growing up at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place and he hoped it would be now. The music was in his head and in his very soul. It could give him the strength to carry on in this place-- if he only could force himself to think of tunes that were not depressing.  If only they would stay in his head.  Music … wasn’t memory, after all—it was more than memory.  They couldn’t take it …  maybe.


Sirius closed his eyes as he rested his head against the cold, damp wall. Slowly he raised his arms parallel to the dirt floor, his fingers already feeling the excitement of the smooth ivory keys on the imaginary piano before him as he lightly stroked them. He could even see the piano before him, in his mind.  The notes of Lars Erik Larsson’s A Winter’s Tale sounded dimly in his ears at first before growing clearer and stronger as he played each note. The music welled up inside of him like a warm caress, its joyous melody nourishing his hungry soul as it wrapped him up in a cocoon as soothing as a woollen blanket. His lips rose in a blissful smile as the music coursed through his veins, bringing the warmth of life back to his body, the warmth of joy back into his spirit.


Then the bleak cell grew much colder as the music and the piano disappeared with a last discordant note, replaced with terror, pain, and anguish. He had been responsible for James and Lily dying… it was his idea that made Harry an orphan ... he was a horrible son who had turned his back on his family… The unbearably sad and painful thoughts kept crashing down upon him, unwanted, enveloping him in a cold fog even as it smothered all of his light and strength in a cloak of darkness and despair. Sirius collapsed onto the floor, crying out with an outstretched arm, pleading for help that would not come. No. The only ones to answer him were the Dementors. 

His days and nights continued in a pattern: he would wake up in the dim light confused and clutching his arms around himself against the cold, remember quickly where he was as the Dementor outside his cell greeted him with his most painful memories, he would then cry out when he could no longer stand it before turning to the window and praying for some miracle to come and set him free. When his painful memories were not so bad as to block all rational thought, he would remember about his music and tap into that for energy and warmth, only to have it cruelly ripped out of him, leaving a wide open wound upon his soul. 

He had to find some way of making music without the Dementors taking it away from him. He had tried every day since that first attempt to play joyous music, only to have to surrender it to the Dementors every time. And each time that occurred, he could no longer remember how to play that particular piece of music or even what it sounded like. Clearly, the music he created could not be cheerful. With a sardonic laugh, he realised that he couldn’t even remember what being cheerful was or why it was important to feel that way. He would have to choose a different emotion to render from his music. So instead, he decided upon strong, invigorating music. 

Sirius sat on the hard wooden slab that served as his bed and closed his eyes. Once again, he stretched out his arms before him as he tried to think of a suitable piece to play. At last, he had it: a transcription he had made of the Aristophanic Suite. He concentrated all of his thoughts on that one piece.  

The piece sprang to life in his head. His fingers began to dance on the keys, his feet pressing the necessary pedals. As the sun grew brighter and brighter, Sirius rejoiced as his strength returned to him as he found himself in his element once again. Thank goodness for music; it was the only thing that could help him keep his sanity in a place like this. Warmth enveloped him as the flame inside him grew stronger and stronger. 

Until a cold wind blew inside him, ripping the piano away from his fingers. The music he had created was but a distant memory now. No, not even a memory; it was gone. What was it he had been playing a minute ago? He would never remember it. Why had he been playing it? He would never know. Where warm strength and courage had been a moment ago, now there was nothing but grief and despair. The only music now was the hollow rasping sound of the Dementors sucking the stale air before his door. 

Once again his thoughts turned to how he had as good as killed James and Lily. Why hadn’t he trusted Remus enough to be their Secret Keeper? Had he trusted Remus and told James and Lily to use him instead of Peter, then they would be alive and with their son today. But instead, they were buried deep under the ground, though he doubted it was any darker than it was here.  

His attempts to “play” music over the next few days resulted in similar results. Each time, it became more and more difficult for Sirius to think of a piece of music that would make him feel stronger. Although he knew in his mind that he used to know sheets and sheets of cheerful music, of evocative music, invigorating and interesting, he could no longer recall what they were or what they sounded or felt like. Moreover, the multitude of invigorating music he used to play was also leaving him. In fact, imagining the piano itself or the reason for playing it was becoming hazier with each passing day as the flame that was his music began to flicker. 

His next attempt was music that was satisfying in its precision and focus.  Soon enough he had given to the Dementors all of his Rameau as well as his Josquin.  The mathematical complexities of Czerny’s finger exercises and the disciplined Bach fugues had soon left him as well, leaving him nothing but the sad, depressing pieces he had so carefully avoided. Even those at least still offered him the solace of playing, of creating music in his soul.  

Despite there not being any Dementors near his door for a change, his fingers struggled to find the keys now. They no longer felt solid as he tried to caress them, coaxing forth a song from The Kindertotenlieder or Violetta’s lament for her lost life.  His last resort was the second movement from a new symphony by Gorecki, The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. The weak flame inside him grew a bit brighter as the strains of the aching, reaching music fought to fill him.  Yet the music itself was growing ever fainter inside his head. He had to struggle to hear it above the cacophony of despondency; it was a losing battle. 

Sirius wondered where the Dementors were – they were always around his door, especially when he tried to play. But now there were none. Yet, still the music was growing dimmer and dimmer inside of him. The anchoring feel of the keyboard was disappearing on him. What was it he was playing? Why was he playing? What note was that? It hardly sounded like music anymore. Even the sounds were growing more distant. 

Concentrating with all of his might, Sirius urged the keys to remain solid even as they were dissolving into thin air. He no longer knew why he was playing; all he knew was that he had to try to keep playing that piano; his very life depended upon it. His heart raced as he tried clinging desperately to every note he could still form in his mind. But the piano faded and evaporated before him as the notes slipped away into nothingness. With a pain worse than any he had ever felt, Sirius slowly dropped his arms to his sides, hung his head in defeat, and cried. His music was gone forever.

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