The Sugar Quill
Author: Giesbrecht (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Some Things Are Better Left Unknown  Chapter: Chapter Two
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--Chapter 2--

"For in much Wisdom there is much Grief, and he that increaseth Knowledge increaseth Pain"  --Ecclesiastes 1:18, KJV

 

            Safely inside the Gryffindor common room, after a most unusual day, the Marauders staked out a deserted corner near the portrait hole to do a serious bit of talking.

            "For being a day in which we didn't actually do schoolwork, this has been most educational," said James.  "At least, I learned a lot."

            "Besides discovering that you'll eventually have a kid who looks just like you?  You could pass for identical twins!" said Sirius with an evil grin.

            "That is simply downright weird," said James, poking at the rug for emphasis.  He ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes.  "He's Quidditch captain, even."

            "Harry isn't exactly like you, James," said Remus.  "Quieter, less mischievous."

            "I noticed that, too," said Sirius, looking distinctly disappointed. "Must be from his mother's side.  Pity.  Wonder if he's got any siblings.  Eh, Prongs?"

            "Like I'd know," snorted James.

            "I wonder if any other students are related to us," mused Peter, observing a few sixth-years discussing Arithmancy at one of the tables.

            "Neville's surname was Longbottom, Wormtail,"  said Sirius. 

            "He didn't seem a bit like Frank," said Remus.  "Frank's shy, but not mousy.  Perhaps heritage is the only reason he's in Gryffindor."

            "Or the Sorting Hat knows something we don't," said James.

            "You never know, do you?" said Sirius.  "Look at dear Peter here.  I could have sworn he'd end up in Hufflepuff."

            "Thanks a lot, Padfoot," said Peter sourly.

            "You know I only pick on those I love, Wormtail,"  said Sirius sweetly.

            "In which case, you have a very unhealthy crush on Snape," said James, grinning.  Sirius socked him in the shoulder, so James smacked him upside the skull. Sirius then launched himself at James, putting him in a headlock, accidentally catching Remus' robes, and earning him a kick in the knee out of Remus' indignation.  Thus ensued a long and spirited brawl that ended only when the Gryffindor fifth years entered the room.  The Marauders untangled themselves, realising then that in their zeal, they'd missed supper.  They didn't mind.  Not if the kitchens were still behind the painting of fruit in the dungeons.  They made good use of this knowledge, and when they returned, (after wreaking havoc in a girls' toilet, just for old times' sake) the Common Room was empty, save for (amazingly enough) Harry himself, doing homework by the fire.  They watched him in silence for a while.

            "So," said James, sticking his hands in his pockets, "What do you think would be the best way to tell him?"

            "Tell who what?" said Peter.

            "Harry," said James, "Tell him we're here.  Let him in on the charm."

            "Are you sure that's such a good idea?" asked Remus.  "We've been pretty harmless so far.  Actually having contact with a future person could cause a lot of problems."

            "No one came back in time to warn us not to do this," said Sirius.  "And I want to see the look on Harry's face when he figures out who we are.  It'll be priceless."

            "That it will," said James, though that was not the only reason why he wanted to introduce himself.  "So what would be the best way?  Write it on parchment and give it to him?"

            "Sounds good to me," said Sirius. 

            They actually stole some of Harry's own parchment and a spare quill to write the message.  That was one major advantage of the Somebody Else's Problem Charm: one could do things right under people's noses and they'd never notice until too late.  James tried several drafts before settling on his message, and the other three made various (and not always helpful) suggestions.  When they were all reasonably satisfied, James deposited the message on Harry's textbook.  Harry didn't pay it any mind it at first, and made to move it out of the way when he realized what it was.  This is what it said:

            Harry–

            First, do not do anything until you've finished reading this note.  Otherwise, everything will be ruined.

            Second, some old friends and family of yours have cast a very complex charm and are awaiting your opinion.  When you are finished reading this note, look up and to your right.  There are four new but strangely familiar fifth-years sitting in the armchair on your right.  One of them is waving.  They will explain everything, even if it takes all night.

            The Marauders watched with bated breath as Harry read the note twice over.  Then, looking thoroughly confused and trying to remember where he'd seen that handwriting before, he looked up and around at them.  Sirius waved furiously, and Harry nearly fell out of his chair from shock.  His mouth wagged soundlessly as his gaze shifted from one Marauder to the next, finally settling on James, who was turning pink.

            "Sorry for the surprise.  We can explain everything," he said hurridly.

            "You're­–" began Harry, but he didn't seem to be able to put in words what he was seeing.

            "James Potter," said James, by way of introduction. "And this is Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew."

            "I–I know–I mean,–I–I've met–" Harry stammered, took a breath, and tried another tack.  "How?"

            "Sirius," said Peter, as if this explained everything.  It would have, had he been addressing another Marauder, or indeed, anyone from their time at Hogwarts.

            "It’s a charm," said Sirius, shrugging.  "Sends you through time.  Spent three years researching it, and this is our first go.  Pretty cool, huh?"

            Harry stared at him open-mouthed for a few seconds before closing his eyes, collapsing into a chair, taking off his glasses, and covering his face with his hands.  "This is unbelievable.  Completely, totally..."

            "...ridiculous," finished James, sitting down across from him.  "Yeah, I know.  But that's Sirius for you.  To tell the truth, I'm surprised he could actually do it, you know? ... We just came to this time to see how Hogwarts would change in twenty-five years.  We weren't expecting you."

            "We were hoping..." began Remus before trailing off.  "Anyway, are you the only one?"

            "Only one what?" murmured Harry from behind his hands.

            "Only one here with a Marauder for a parent," explained Remus.  "Personally, I doubt it."

            Harry put his glasses back on and looked around at him all.  "No, I think I'm it," he said, his voice strangely thick.

            "Really?" said James, taken aback.  "You mean Sirius and Remus and Peter... why wouldn't they have families by now?"  Peter nodded his agreement emphatically.

            "It's... kind of a long story," said Harry, obviously unwilling to say more.  "How long have you been here?" he asked,  "Why haven't I noticed you?"

            "We've been here since early this morning," said James, "And you didn't notice because of something clever Remus dug up."

            "Of course it's clever," said Sirius. "Remus is that kind of guy."

            "Its known as a Somebody Else's Problem Charm," said Remus, sitting down next to James.  "The story is that someone got the idea from a Muggle science-fiction book, and the theory is not to make something invisible or inaudible, but to make people simply ignore it.  Its a kind of highly concentrated super-specific distraction charm.  You can't see us unless you know about the charm, or know where to look."

            "Oh," said Harry, more out of weariness than genuine understanding.

            "We've been following you around all day," said Peter.

            "Don't tell him that!" said Sirius, "It'll make him paranoid."

            "We have, though," admitted James with a shrug, "and sat in on some of your classes.  We saw McGonagall hasn't changed a bit."

            "No, probably not," agreed Harry.  "Wait.  Did one of you–"

            "Write on the blackboard?" said Sirius.  "That was James.  What did you think?"

            "You wrote that?" exclaimed Harry in astonishment, staring wide-eyed at James.

            James grinned.  "None other," he said proudly.  "I wonder if she recognized it."

            "I'd think it would be awfully hard to forget," said Harry, finally smiling himself.  "At least I won't for awhile.  I thought McGonagall was going to have a fit.  Where did you get it?"

            "Made it up himself, he did," said Sirius.  "He's done it before, of course, twenty-six years ago.  Got detention for a month, didn't you Prongs?"

            "It was worth every minute," said James fondly.  He paused, and looked at Harry curiously.  "You do know about our nicknames, don't you?"

            "Yeah, of course," said Harry.  "Sirius is Padfoot, Pr–I mean, Remus is Moony, and Peter..." he hesitated.  "Peter is Wormtail."

            "Exactly!" said Sirius.  "And do you know where we got those nicknames?"

            "Sure," said Harry.  "You're all Animagi.  Except for Remus."  Remus looked troubled until Harry said, "It’s alright.  I don't mind that you're a werewolf."

            "Yes, but, what were you about to call him?" said Sirius.

            "Nothing," said Harry quickly, realizing that he'd have to be careful not to break any news to these four in the wrong way.  A tempting thought occurred to him.  What would happen if he told them everything?  He could warn them!  He could change–change what?  Could he prevent his parent's death?  Wormtail's betrayal?  Sirius' imprisonment?  Voldemort's return?  But the only reason Voldemort fell the first time was because of his mother's sacrifice...  Confused, he decided to let the matter be for awhile.

            "Something wrong?" asked James.  He and the other Maruaders exchanged curious glances, noticing the flurry of emotions that had just fled across Harry's face.  He'd gone suddenly quiet.  But then he only shrugged, and smiled again.

            "Wait 'till I tell Ron and Hermione!" he said,  "You don't mind, do you?"

            "That redhead and the bookworm?  Not at all," said Sirius.

            "But not too many people," warned Remus.

            "Wouldn't want to cause too much of a stir," said James.  "It would be easier if you could introduce them to us somewhere private.  Otherwise, someone else might figure out the charm.  They'll see you, of course, and might notice who you're talking to."

            "Got it," said Harry.  "Wait here a minute: I'll get Ron, and I think Hermione's in the library."  He bounded up the dormitory stairs and disappeared from sight.  The Marauders watched him go.

            "Nice kid, Prongs," said Sirius.  James smacked him.

*****

            "But Harry, that's impossible!"  Hermione had to jog to keep up with her long-legged friend as they navigated the many halls of Hogwarts on the way to a deserted dungeon.  Harry had just finished telling her what was going on and they and Ron were meeting the Marauders in a room they knew of that was both private and generally forgotten.  "Travelling through time is immensely difficult!  There's no way any old fifth year could do it."

            "Since when was Sirius Black 'any old fifth year'?"  returned Harry.  "They all got away with becoming Animagi right under Dumbledore's nose, didn't they?"

            "Yes, but–" Hermione gestured futilely, trying to come up with another argument.  Truth be told, she didn't really doubt Harry, she just couldn't reconcile the idea of a Hogwarts student figuring out such complex spells on his own.

            "And you heard McGonagall and Flitwick say Sirius and my dad were some of the brightest kids ever to come to Hogwarts," Harry went on,  "And they made the Marauders' Map, for Pete's sake!"

            "Oh, Harry, I just don't know," said Hermione worridly.  "What if they found out about--about everything?  Imagine what would happen!"  Harry gave her a peculiar look, and she caught the meaning immediately.  "I guess you've already imagined, haven't you?"

            "You could say that," said Harry quietly.

            "Then you know you mustn't say anything," said Hermione.  "If they find out... we don't even know exactly why you lived, Harry.  If we change anything, it might turn out that you're dead and You-Know-Who is still around!"

            "What, he didn't come back last summer?" Harry said sarcastically.

            Hermione wrung her hands in frustration.  "You know what I mean.  I hate to be the one to agree with Fudge, but we did have thirteen years of peace, didn't we?  Who else would have died in the meantime if You-Know-Who hadn't fallen?"

            That caught Harry up.  Before he could answer, though, he saw Ron coming to meet them.  "I couldn't find the room," he called, glancing over his shoulder.  "Never been this way before."

            "Neither have I," said Harry, "but it can't be hard to find.  Listen, Ron, when we get there: don't say too much about what happened between now and twenty-five years ago, all right?"

            Ron laughed grimly. "You mean you don't want me to say, 'Hey Sirius, you know you're gonna spend twelve years in Azkaban'?"

            "Something like that," said Harry.  "Don't say anything to my dad, either.  Or to Peter–he's still their friend." Ron wrinkled his nose, cursing under his breath, and Hermione did her best not to show equal disgust.  "And remember not to call Remus 'Professor Lupin.'"

            "So long as you call your dad 'James' and not 'Dad'," said Ron with a grin.  "D'you think they know about your mum?"

            Hermione shook her head.  "How could they?  They're only fifteen, right, Harry?  You don't know who you're going to marry yet, do you Ron?"

            "Good point," said Ron as his ears went pink, and he let the matter drop.

            They walked on for a few minutes in silence, Harry trailing one hand on the stone wall.

            "D–I mean, James–said it would be somewhere here: a hidden door that looks like part of the wall."

            "How do you find it?" asked Ron.

            "By finding the handle," said Harry.  "Its invisible, but James said it would be waist-high and... Here!"  Harry pulled on what looked like air, and a door appeared out of nowhere, leading to a low, dusty room.  "Wait a sec, while I see what's going on."  He stepped inside.

            "Hey there!" said Sirius cheerily.  "We were beginning to wonder."  He and the other Marauders were seated in dusty wooden chairs.  Other than that, the room was empty  The only light came from shivering silver flames that Remus seemed to be cupping in his hands.  Harry realised where he'd seen that trick once before: as Professor Lupin, Remus had used those flames when the lights on the Hogwarts Express had gone out on the way to school two years before.

            "My friends are with me," said Harry, "How do I do this?"

            "Just tell them what to look for," said James.

            Harry took a good look around before turning to Ron and Hermione.  "Listen," he said, "I told you about the spell, and how it works.  All you have to do is know what to look for."

            They nodded.

            "When you go in, look to your left.  Sirius is on the left, Remus in next, then Peter, then James.  And Remus is lighting the room with a sort of flame in his hand, the same kind he used on the Hogwarts express when the Dementors came on.  Got it?"

            Harry stepped back, and was quite satisfied to hear the barely audible squeak Hermione let out when she saw the Marauders. 

            "Harry," said Hermione breathlessly, poking her head back out the door.  "You do look just like your dad!"

            Harry grinned at her.  "I know.  Weird, isn't it?"

            "I think it's pretty cool,"  said Ron.

            "'Cool' is an understatement," said Sirius.  "You should have seen James's face when we first saw you, Harry.  I believe the technical term for it is 'freaked out'."

            "Whereas the technical term for you in any situation," said James, "is 'completely out to lunch'."

            "And you're just jealous," Sirius shot back.

            "Excuse me," interrupted Hermione, "but where do we sit?"

            Sirius jabbed a thumb at James.  "D'you mind taking this one, Prongs?"

            James shrugged and waved his wand, conjuring up three more chairs to complete the circle they were sitting in.  He beckoned them forward.

            "How did you do that?" asked Hermione, staring at James as she took her chair.

            "Oh, you know," said James, waving a casual hand as if shooing a fly.  "Just a little bit of advanced transfiguration.  Come now, you haven't seen Dumbledore do something like that?"

            "I have–I just–You're only a fifth year!"

            James folded his hands and leaned in close towards the incredulous Gryffindor.  "My dear Hermione, I  have never allowed knowledge like that to hinder me in my life-long quest for mastering the most difficult and obscure spells," said James mock-seriously.

            "Besides, it’s not that hard," added Sirius.  James backhanded him.

            "I suppose you've heard all about us," said Remus.

            "Of course!" said Ron.  "My twin brothers practically idolize you.  The famous Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs.  They'd probably kill to meet you."

            "We're flattered," said Sirius, "but no human sacrificing, please."

            "It’s not good for our image," said James.

            "So you're just... doing this for the fun of it?" asked Hermione timidly, looking very hard at James.  She seemed to be trying to figure out some mystery about him.

            "More or less," said James with a shrug.

            "It’s an adventure, and a Marauder is always up for a good adventure," said Sirius.

            "Even," said Remus, looking as if he didn't know whether to be proud of the fact, or very ashamed, "if it's highly illegal."

            "Especially if it's highly illegal," corrected Sirius.

            They talked for a good while, laughing quite a bit as the Marauders told of their various escapades together.  They had only recently managed the Animagus spell and were still getting used to their new freedom.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione added a few good tales of their own, impressing even Sirius with the story of the flying Ford Anglia.  The only thing was, they had to keep catching themselves from telling too much.  It wasn't such a bad thing to let them know that Remus would someday be a professor, (James especially was highly amused) but there was so much else that was far too dangerous.  Sirius kept asking over and over who James was going to marry, even when James threatened to turn him into a hamster, but Harry held firm.  "Even if you guess, I'm not saying."

            "Spoilsport," muttered Sirius. 

            Remus decided diplomatically to change the subject.  "So, Harry, you play Quidditch?"

            "He's the captain," said Hermione.  "He plays seeker, and he's very good at it."

            "Really?" said James,  "I'm captain too, but my position is Chaser.  Too bad, I could teach you a few moves."

            "James, think.  You probably already HAVE taught him a few moves,"  said Sirius.

            "Oh, right," said James.

            "No, he hasn't," corrected Harry before he could stop himself.  He was very tempted to smack his forehead for making the blunder.

            "Why not?" said Sirius.

            "Its another long story," said Harry quickly in what he hoped was an offhand manner.  "A long story" had been his excuse for any slip-ups so far, and it seemed to pacify the Marauders for the time being.

            "What, did he suddenly become very afraid of heights?" guessed Remus.

            "No, he had a horrible accident on his broom ten years ago that explains not only why he no longer flies, but also why Harry is an only child,"  said Sirius knowledgably.

            "Sirius, that is very sick, and very wrong," said James.  "Which may be typical for you, but there are children in the room."

            "We're not any older than you are at the moment," said Harry with a slow and deadly grin.  "Besides, Sirius, you don't have any children at all, which, as far as you know, is due to the very reasons you just gave to James."

            "I think not," said Sirius indignantly.

            "Harry, why don't you just call James 'Dad'?"  piped up Peter.

            "Because that's more sick and wrong than Sirius' alleged broomstick accident," said Remus.

            "I did NOT have a broomstick accident!"  insisted Sirius.

            "You don't know that," said Ron slyly.  Sirius made a move to clobber him, but James held him back.

            Hermione tutted.  "Boys!"  she exclaimed, clearly annoyed.

            "You know, Sirius, maybe we should have brought Patricia along," said James.  "Then she and Hermione here could have gone off and discussed... I don't know, make-up."

            "If I had an interest in that sort of thing, maybe I would have been grateful," returned Hermione.  "Who's Patricia?"

            "Patricia Marsh, Sirius' girlfriend," said Peter simply.

            "She is not my girlfriend," said Sirius, "and if you continue to call her that, I will spike your pumpkin juice with a Frankness Draught from now 'til graduation.  It will be ever so interesting when you can no longer prevent yourself from keeping your fascinating private thoughts to yourself."

            James leaned over to Harry and said, "Personally, I think ol' Wormtail hit the nail on the head."  Harry and Hermione both nodded.

            Sirius looked James in the eye.  "Personally, I think you could do with a nosejob a la Padfoot."

            Remus smiled.  "Personally, I think you're all a bunch of great noisy gits."

            "Personally, I'd like to raid the kitchens.  I'm hungry," said Peter.

            Remus, Sirius, James, Harry, Ron, and Hermione all looked at him.  "Wormtail, that was neither clever, nor pertinent to the situation," said James.

            "It was what I was thinking," said Peter.

            They went on talking.  When midnight came, Remus performed a Somebody Else's Problem charm on Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and they all snuck quietly back up to Gryffindor Tower.  Harry had filled the Marauders in on their schedule the next day, and the Marauders themselves promised a day full of unprecedented fun and general mayhem, followed by some cooperative pranking between the two generations in the evening.  They all agreed that the best part would be pulling pranks that hadn't been seen at Hogwarts in decades and giving the staff a serious case of dčja-vu.

            Curled up in the corner of the fifth-years' dorm in Gryffindor Tower, James couldn't help but reflect on this "highly educational" day.  He found himself glancing continually over at Harry's bed.  He couldn't get over how much they were alike, down to the similar prescriptions in eyeglasses.  Remus was right, though, Harry wasn't as reckless as James, and he was definitely quieter, but with a little encouragement he had the same sense of humour.  But there were other differences.  Harry's eyes, for one, thought James.  Eye-color wasn't something James usually took note of, but who on earth had eyes that particular shade of green?  It was so unusual.  Did Harry really inherit it from his mother, the girl James would someday marry?  And there were times that Harry fell silent, and something seemed to burden him somehow.  Something's wrong here, thought James.  Something big has changed between my time and now, 'cause there's something about Harry that shouldn't be, something that he can't help and isn't about to tell us.  Almost like Remus, but not.  James sighed and decided not to worry about it at the moment.  It occurred to him just before he fell asleep that, come morning, he'd like to ask Harry where he got that odd thin scar on his forehead.

            Groaning, Sirius tried to stuff his pillow in his ears.  One of the Gryffindors was snoring heartily, and it was getting on his nerves.  Odd, he thought, usually it wouldn't bother him.  He realized he was tense, and even the Marauders' most daring adventures didn't make him this tense.  But this was different.  He had a feeling that this whole adventure was starting to turn a little weird; either that or it was about to turn weird.  His mum always said he had an affinity for the future--not true divination, but still helpful, though most of the time he couldn't tell if what he felt was something current or coming.  He realised he was thinking about how Harry, Ron, and Hermione had all been giving them surreptitious weird looks throughout the evening.  Especially Harry.  Sirius tried to chalk it all up to the strangeness of seeing one's own father at one's own age, but it didn't work.  It was almost as if Harry had never seen James before.  Ever.  Silly idea, thought Sirius, rolling over and sandwiching his head in the pillow, which drowned out the snoring somewhat.  He probably just never realized how much he looked like his dad.  They did look a lot alike, Sirius mused, except for the eyes, of course, and that scar.

            Remus, too, had trouble getting to sleep that night.  It wasn't the hard floor.  He was used to that sort of thing.  He was wondering why Harry kept avoiding their questions.  Sure, he'd filled them in on the basics of his life: his love of Quidditch, the classes he liked, the broom he owned, his favorite way of torturing his worst enemy.  Yet he seemed to pointedly avoid any inquiry about his background or home.  It takes a liar to spot one, thought Remus, and after spending a good bit of his life explaining away his monthly disappearances, he had a knack for picking up on other people's cover-ups.  And Harry was definitely covering something up.  He wondered vaguely if James or Peter or Sirius had noticed, but decided to wait until morning.  And there were always other ways of finding out about people.  Sirius might disagree, but those ways didn't even have to include going through a person's belongings.  He just had to ask the right questions in the right ways.  At least, thought Remus sleepily, he's not prejudiced against werewolves, but that was probably James' doing a long time ago.  He tried to think up some innocuous questions to ask in the morning, but only got as far as "where did you get that scar?" before he fell asleep.

            Peter watched his three best friends fall asleep one by one.  He knew Sirius and James and Remus would all just call him paranoid, but he could have sworn Harry, Ron, and Hermione ignored him.  Granted, most people usually ignored him, being as small and shy as he was, but these three had every reason to pay him some attention, being from the past and all.  Yet they seemed to avoid even looking at him, let alone speaking to him.  Well, of course, thought Peter, they're paying all that attention to James because he'll be Harry's dad someday, and Remus was one of their teachers.  And Sirius was... Sirius was Sirius, and therefore by definition impossible to ignore.  Oh, well, he thought.  Maybe I'm just imagining things.  He leaned back and put his hands behind his head.  Tomorrow would be fun.  This would be the first time they had ever had the chance to wreak havoc like they'd always imagined:  not only messing around in classes they didn't have to be in, but no one would ever guess they were at Hogwarts at all.  He couldn't wait to see what all seven of them together could cook up and didn't doubt that Harry could be as good as James at mischief.  He seemed pretty adept at wandering about at night undetected.  Peter yawned.  Perhaps a wild adventure had been where Harry had got that lightning scar of his.  What would cause that, he thought, before drifting off into sleep.

//
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