The Sugar Quill
Author: Belphegor (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: October 31, 1981  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.

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Disclaimer: First of all, I don’t own any of the characters and situations mentioned below. They’ve been created by Johanne Kathleen Rowling, and therefore are her property. I wrote this to – I don’t know the exact reason why I wrote it, but I just wanted to lay it down. Now, make what you want with it.

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If all of this had been real…

If all of this had actually happened…

It would have been twenty years today. Well, tonight, to be exact.

I’ve left my university in quite a good mood, despite the big bad cold which has been killing me since yesterday, after a long talk with two of my friends and classmates, mainly about the Hallowe’en party that is set up for tonight – "Fancy dressed Hallowe’en party". Promising, eh? I except all my friends will be dressed up as vampires, Frankenstein’s creatures, witches, ghosts, evil psychotic youth killers wearing the now trademark white mask… I’ll be a witch tonight. I have a cloak, a pointed hat, some make up and a broom. I only wish it could fly… but let’s face it, there’s not much magic in Bordeaux, save perhaps in the libraries and the movie theatres.

So my mind was full of Hallowe’en just now in the bus. My little student’s room is a long way from university – twenty-six bus stops – and it always seems farther to everyone stuck in the middle of the traditional end-of-day traffic jam. When I rushed into the bus in order to be one of the first to get an empty seat, I knew I was in for at least an hour-long ride. I did find one, sat, and stared out the window near me, absent-mindedly clutching my school bag as I always do.

It was only 5.45 PM, and the sky was still glowing where the sun was hanging, but I knew it wasn’t going to last a long time. Indeed, when I shifted on my seat to peer at the opposite point to the sun across the city’s landscape, I could see that characteristic deep blue colour stretching from east to west, about to overtake the whole sky in its dark cloak. But the daylight wasn’t going to give in that easily. It lit up the clouds in pinks and purples and goldens, inviting them to join in the struggle against the oncoming dark. It was a wonderful sight, the patch of sky the sun was slowly leaving shining gold, surrendered – as if protected – by stretched clouds, all in different forms and sizes, shapes and colours. Totally cliché, but wonderful all the same.

Have you noticed that your perception of your surroundings varies along with your mood of the moment? When I’m sad, or tired, Bordeaux seems a tree-less city, dark and grey and dull with its stone buildings blackened by the city pollution and its cold, damp, dirty pavements. But I felt good sitting on that bus today, content to let my gaze follow the houses and shop window fronts flying past me, slowing down as the bus came to a stop light. I could see two trees out the window. One was still mainly green, its leaves still holding on thanks to the nice weather we’ve enjoyed for half a month. The other’s leaves held many colours, like a traditional representation of a tree at the falling-leaves season; these leaves were green, yellow, red, brown – and every single shade of those colours was present. I could only gaze at it for a minute before the bus moved off again, but long enough for a thought to sneak into my head and settle down so I couldn’t shake it off.

Twenty years ago… what had it been like? Was the weather this nice on the evening of October 31st, 1981? Had the sky offered so beautiful colours to the pairs of eyes that had gazed at it that night, wondering about what the future would be like just like I’m here, gazing at the sky and wondering about the past? How did James and Lily Potter live their last sunset?

Maybe James pointed out a tree to Lily, remarking with a chuckle that this very leaf, right here, was exactly the same colour as her hair. Maybe she rolled her eyes at the corny line and laughed, softly not to interrupt Harry’s nap, and told James to shut that window over there – his hair was unkempt enough without the early evening wind to ruffle and tousle it more. I thought of the thousands questions that must have crossed their minds, and were left unasked – the unsaid words that flew between them at that moment, of fear, of comfort, of love, of trust. Fear for each other, for little Harry who was but a baby, helpless and innocent, totally ignorant of the danger he was in just by being there, breathing, laughing, sleeping. Comfort, because whatever happened, they’d always have each other. Love. And trust toward their friends, who’d never, for all in the world, betray them.

What is it like, having to fear for your own life and for the lives of the ones you love, every day and every second? I for one have never known that, and hope with all my heart that I will never know. But this evening, as the colours faded from pale pink and purple to blue in the sky above the city I’ve adopted as my second home, I realised what it must have been like to have every Hallowe’en reminding you of the friends you have lost, of the bitter tears you have cried alone while everybody was rejoicing and celebrating, to have all the orange and black decorations in the shop windows and elsewhere, thinking – as you gaze along all the innocent paper and plastic bats, pumpkins, death’s heads – about what could surely have been avoided and yet couldn’t have been because it was part of the past now. And nothing on Earth can ever bring it back to you.

I actually felt sad myself; you can’t be in the middle of writing a fanfiction about Hogwarts’ "old generation", get fond of the characters as they emerge from your pencil and piece of paper to head straight into your and the reader’s mind, without after-effects. James and Lily Potter, those two names so often mentioned in the Harry Potter series but who really aren’t more than shadows of characters we’ll never see live, laugh, cry, curse, joke, play chess or Exploding Snap. Those names have grown a particular echo in my heart; they now crack a light each time I hear them, like a sort of veiled message to myself. They’ve become familiar, "real" characters with emotions, feelings, qualities, and faults, each one having a life before, during, and after Hogwarts, that I admit we know hardly anything of but which we can build up from our imagination. From that moment on, a tiny part of them belongs not to you, but with you – and you can’t think ab out their deaths without feeling a bit sad, as if they were long-left friends, once part of your life but now far away.

I don’t know how to express that very well, it sounds awfully awkward – but I know one thing, which is that last time I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I felt an anger toward Aunt Marge I didn’t feel before, when she tries (and manages) to infuriate Harry by taunting him about his parents. I hated Aunt Marge for saying such things, because at that point they felt – and still feel, by the way – like friends to me. We have become close, as I can imagine their feelings and thoughts, though sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m the one writing the story and directing them, leading them to do what I want them to do…

I love writing. It’s now part of my life, such as reading, or drawing, or doing homework or essays – it comes naturally. And I don’t have to force myself to think about these characters. I just have to let my mind float for a moment, sit on a seat in the bus, and the thoughts of them come to me, their laughter and their fears, their jokes and their pains, their secrets and their smiles. I’ll be miserable when my little series reaches its end – ending, I think to myself on that night that right now seems so close to us and yet so far. Just twenty years ago.

Happy Hallowe’en to all of you, and may you keep on dreaming.

 

 

 

 

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