The Sugar Quill
Author: J Forias (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Ashes  Chapter: Ashes
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What makes a person, well… a person

Ashes

 

By J Forias

 

 

 

What makes a person a person?

 

That’s the question haunting my broken spirits. I try to make sense of this darkness with it, try to realise that there are huge parts of me locked off… sucked out by the beasts that drift callously past my cage door.

 

I had the memories of something more: the life of a person with spirit and drive and purpose. That’s what I had. What I’ve lost.

 

And a brother; I lost that, too.

 

“James,” I gasp, numb; the endless memory stream beginning to play out once again. “Oh, James…”

 

Then my lips cease being mine. They rebel to treacherously trace each of those damned syllables.

 

“We’ll fool him, Prongs. Get him to chase me, while it’s Peter, all the time…”

 

Tears stream down my face, but the cathartic nature of the grief is stripped from me.

 

I see the hooded figure draped by the cage bars, its head leant slightly backwards as if in pleasure while it feasts. The figure takes it all; gives me no chance to move from the agony to something beyond that. He leads me by the hand to my darkness and then binds me there.

 

“Who’d ever think we’d use Peter! It’s hysterical!”

 

How I hate myself right now. How I long to grab myself by the throat and squeeze until the words stop.

 

“Think of it. The ultimate practical joke. And we’ll get to play it on a Dark Lord!”

 

But they don’t. They never will.

 

All I can do is cease being human, so I shift.

 

The dog can grieve, in that beautiful animal way. It can suffer and be sad, without sinking into that pit of utter despair. The darkness can lose its grip.

 

At least for a while.

 

~*~

 

I dream of ashes; still warm from the fire, but damp from the rain that followed.

 

It clings to my fingertips. Won’t come off… ever.

 

All that’s left of what was once a home…

 

And there’s James… and here’s Lily…

 

But Harry’s been taken. He’s an orphan now. I haven’t even been given the chance to protect my Godson. I don’t deserve it either…

 

That’s why Dumbledore had him taken. He knows it, too…

 

All that’s left is to face Peter, lose to him and then return here, to this moment, forever.

 

~*~

 

Something’s different. The Dementors have stopped sucking at our souls. Most of those in the cells around me are so drained already that they don’t notice… but I can sense it. I feel freer. I can think. And more-so, I know what this means.

 

We’re having a visitor.

 

I sit on the bench, head bowed, listening intently for the sounds of his pattered feet.

 

There it is. I knew it would be him.

 

“Morning, Black,” says the Minister of Magic. He’s scared of me. But the two Dementors at his back give him the courage he lacks.

 

The cage door swings open with barely a creak. He enters.

 

“Good Morning, Minister,” I say, pulling my head up to smile at him.

 

He was there when it happened. He’s fascinated by me. And terrified.

 

“Any progress on my trial, Cornelius?”

 

The portly man tucks a newspaper under his arm and sits on the bench opposite me. Meanwhile, the two hooded monsters lurk ominously in the doorway.

 

“There’s no need to ascertain your guilt, Mister Black,” Fudge says quietly. “I saw the results of your work.”

 

“Quite,” I say. “But a trial can be a useful thing. You never know what truth you might uncover.”

 

“There’s nothing you can give us that could possibly win you your freedom.”

 

An ironic smile shifts my lips. “You can be certain of that, can you?”

 

“Your master is finished, Black,” Fudge whispers. “His Death Eaters are dead or imprisoned beside you.”

 

“Not all…”

 

Fudge waves a dismissive hand. “Naming more names now will do no good. We have all we need. The people need to forget.”

 

“Lucky them,” I murmur, glancing over at the dark sentinels beside me. “Yet I don’t appear to have that luxury.”

 

“You think you deserve it?” Fudge snaps.

 

Silence hangs for a glistening moment. I look down at my hands.

 

They are stained black.

 

“No.”

 

A strange flicker of emotions runs its course on Fudge’s face. He obviously hadn’t expected this answer. But he doesn’t want to see remorse. It doesn’t fit with the monster. So he gets up to leave.

 

I’m suddenly very angry at him.

 

He jumps, ever so slightly, as I rise with him.

 

“Are you finished with that paper, Minister?”

 

His eyes widen. “What?”

 

I smile with vicious politeness. “I’ve rather missed doing the crossword.”

 

Our eyes meet for a long, glorious moment. I’m taller than him. Stronger.

 

“Fine!” he mutters, pushing the paper at me. “Take it.”

 

I take it in a firm grip.

 

“Thank you, Minister. Most gracious.”

 

He tries to murmur something as he leaves the cell, but I ignore him, fluttering my newspaper triumphantly.

 

It opens on a page containing a family picture. My eyes narrow.

 

Is that…? It can’t be!

 

But it is.

 

I read the words.

 

No! That traitor will do it again!

 

Just one hint, that’s all Peter would need, and then…

 

Harry…

 

My Godson…

 

The ashes dry and spark to life.

 

I’m the only one who knows… the only one…

 

MY GODSON!

 

There’s a fire in my head.

 

I have to do it. No choice. None at all.

 

Purpose, at last…

 

Guilt doesn’t matter. It’s an irrelevant detail.

 

I have to get to Peter!

 

“He’s at Hogwarts,” I whisper.

 

I lean my head back against the wall, thinking, planning… living.

 

“He’s at Hogwarts…”

 

“He’s at Hogwarts…”

 

“He’s at Hogwarts…”

 

 

Fin.

//
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