The Sugar Quill
Author: Emma Dalrymple (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Many Waters  Chapter: Prologue - Night Letters
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MW 1
PROLOGUE:  Night Letters

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars...

 - Bible, Book of Revelation

But this is all I want to do--
tell you that up in the woods
a few night birds were calling,

the grass was cold and wet on my bare feet,
and that at one point, the moon,
looking like the top of Shakespeare's

famous forehead,
appeared, quite unexpectedly,
illuminating a band of moving clouds.
 - Billy Collins, "Night Letter to the Reader"



28 August
You silly prat.

What do you mean you didn't say goodbye to him?  You've been in love with the man since fourth year, and when he actually stumbles upon your cottage, helpless and alone, you leave him for a bloody ISLAND.

All right, so the situation's not quite as severe as all that.  But really, Cate, what were you thinking?  The man's reserve finally begins to thaw and your response is to hightail it out of Emrys without so much as a farewell?

Don't you think it odd that he wandered through English and Welsh forests for weeks, yet it was you who finally took him in?  You, his long-time admirer and one of the few people in Britain able to find him a job?  (Yes, I know about his lycanthropy, dear, and you can just pick your jaw up off the floor, thank you.  It's quite unbecoming.  You're not the only one who used to spy on people from Ravenclaw Tower.)

So the romantic, clever boy of your schoolgirl fantasies stumbles fortuitously across your path, tossed there by a benevolent-feeling Aphrodite, no doubt.  And you, ungrateful wench that you are, toss aside the gift and dash off first chance you get to a remote island no one's been resourceful enough to find for thousands of years.

Small wonder you've never had a beau, when you reject even the attractive morsels Merlin sees fit to deposit neatly in your lap.  What more do you need?  Directions?

Well, if instructions are what you require, my sorry friend, here they are:

Name:  Remus J. Lupin
Ingredients:  100% male, consisting of 8% reserve, 27% intelligence, 22% kindness, 4% cunning, 8% romantic warring with 9% controlled virility, 15% canine instinct, 6% wiry strength born of malice and unfair but accepted burden.  (And that's the truth.  I didn't suffer through four years of Trelawney for nothing.)
Instructions:  Suitable for long riverside walks, evening astronomical discussions, and general wickedness behind closed doors.  Goes best with tea and satin sheets.  Use before marked date of full moon on package.  Wizard General's warning:  Not for public consumption.  Highly addictive.  May cause intolerance for the rest of the male race.

For an attractive and intelligent woman you can be uncommonly thickheaded sometimes.  If he doesn't yet fancy you, which I think highly unlikely considering your aforementioned attributes, avoiding him is hardly the way to go about securing his affections.

For Merlin's sake, write the man.

Brighid




2 September
Dearest Remus,

I'm very sorry I didn't wake you up before I left.  I had to have all my wits about me when I left to find Atlantis, and saying goodbye would only have unravelled me further.  All the same, it was wrong of me and I apologise.  I hope you'll forgive me.

Atlantis feels like a dream.  Thousands of years of practising aestheticism have their effect on a place, and this forgotten isle is a testament to that.  The smallest things are imbued with unspeakable beauty; the flutter of brilliant dragonfly wings, the gleam of the white stone castle in Elysia as the noonday sun strikes it.  While the beauty is awe-inspiring and endless, there is a wisdom and strength beneath it that reminds me of the Forest Soror.  It comforts me to know that beneath the majesty and sublimity of this foreign world there is something drawing me in, reminding me of home.

Adolphus Nor, who you know of course is the Atlantean Archdruid, has been very kind.  He would get on marvellously with Professor Dumbledore,  I'm sure.  He has a great fondness for nectarines and his favourite pastime is playing on Muggle swings.  He and his wife, Eden, took me on a tour of the castle last week and I must confess that I have never seen such opulence before.  My chamber in the west tower has been made comparatively spartan at my insistence, but it would have rivalled Lucius Malfoy's bedchamber easily before it was made habitable, I'm sure.

How are you faring?  I trust that Robin isn't working you overly hard at the Candela.  I warn you that I will brook no complaints if Ludicer somehow contrives a way to steal your robes.  

I miss you.

Warmly, Cate




4 September
Ms Fairchilde,

I am writing to enquire after your progress.  What are your thoughts on the Atlantean Ministry?  Do report back as soon as convenient on what you've learned about the government.  Other cultural notes are welcome, of course.

Sincerely,

Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic
Order of Merlin, First Class




5 September
Cate,

Your absence from Ara Virga is what the stars' would be from the night sky:  unnatural.  I miss you, too.

I haven't forgiven you, however.  I'm still pondering your punishment.  Forty days and nights tied to the side of Gladys Popinjay?  Or a year apprenticing as potion sampler for Severus Snape?  No penance is too great.

Ludicer sends his love.  At least, that's what I interpreted two blinks and a hop to mean, but I could be mistaken.  He might actually have been asking if there are any attractive female Delphic Descrying Shrubs your side of the Mediterranean.

Remus

P.S. How do you know what Lucius Malfoy's bedchamber looks like?



6 September
Aidan,

No dangerous beast sightings thus far.  I'm continually on the lookout, so stop pestering me.  I can and will send you a Pora for Christmas if you can't find something else to nag me about, and then we'll see what becomes of you.

Regina



7 September
Minister,

I have not yet been in Atlantis long enough to make any concrete judgements about its government, I'm afraid.  I will get back to you when I have something of import to relate, rest assured.

If I may be so bold as to correct you, sir, the Atlantean government is called the Druidic Council and its foremost leader is called the Archdruid.  I'm sure you already knew this, but I don't wish for there to be any inadvertent faux pas made if they can be avoided.

Sincerely,

Cate Fairchilde



8 September
Remus,

My punishment options sound horrifying indeed.  But does my offence truly warrant such drastic action?  I'm not opposed to grovelling, you know.

Cate

P.S. I don't know what it looks like.  It was a metaphor.




9 September
Brighid,

You will be pleased to know that I have owled Remus and received an owl from him in return.

He is threatening to force me to imbibe all of Snape's potions creations for the next year.

Now what do you advise, oh enlightened one?

Love, Cate




10 September
Ms Fairchilde,

Minister, Archdruid, it's all the same in the end.

Many thanks for your prompt reply.  I will be expecting a preliminary report in the near future.

Sincerely,

Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic
Order of Merlin, First Class




11 September
I can and will send Remus a pithy note explaining your undying devotion for him, Cate, for Christmas if you don't stop whining.

Aidan



11 September
Cate,

Your offence certainly does warrant such 'drastic action,' as you put it.  Crushing the tender heart and sensibilities of the trusted guardian of Ara Virga, the Forest Soror, and Ludicer (in that order) is a grave offence indeed.

How does mucking the Care of Magical Creatures paddocks for a half year sound?  I hear the seventh-years are studying dragons this year.  Dragon excrement is supposed to be particularly aromatic.

Remus

P.S. You couldn't think of another metaphor to use?  Why Lucius Malfoy?
P.P.S. You will be pleased to know that not only does your favourite pet enjoy threatening to abscond with his guardian's robes (although he has not yet succeeded in that particular endeavour), but he is also apparently able to read.  He is not very pleased with my proposed treatment of you.





12 September
I wasn't expecting him to have quite that reaction, Cate.  Your first lovers' quarrel!  How sweet. . .

Angelically, Brighid




12 September
Dear Cate,

I hope you don't find an old man's enquiring after your affairs too vexing.  I was very proud to learn that you had been chosen as Head Scholar for this Atlantean project, and even more so when you were appointed British emissary to that mysterious isle.  You are a bright, dedicated young woman who demonstrated your resourcefulness and compassion over and over again while at Hogwarts, and I'm very happy to see you situated in a place so pleasing to your interests.  Adolphus has waxed poetical about your many virtues, so it seems you have made just as favourable an impression there.

I have heard that a certain ward of yours that goes by the name of Ludicer has been making Mr Lupin's life very interesting indeed.  I have always said that one should never underestimate the loyalty of a pet.

It would please your old headmaster greatly if you sent word of your adventures on occasion.  It is always a good idea to have more than just one side of the story, whatever happens.  Not to mention the fact that I would enjoy hearing from you.

Please give my regards to Horatius and Antonia Parius.

Warmly, Albus Dumbledore




14 September
What has he done, Remus?  - Cate

P.S. Because I was trying to think of something opulent, and that was the first thing that sprang to mind.



15 September
Professor Dumbledore,

I was delighted to receive your letter.  I was not aware that you were acquainted with the Archdruid and the Pariuses, but I do not find it surprising that you are.  I am not the only resourceful graduate of Hogwarts, it seems.

Thank you for your words of praise.  They mean much to me, especially coming from a wizard I esteem so greatly.  Unfortunately I've had no adventures as of yet, as I've told the Minister, but I've no doubt that I will sometime in the near future.  Even in the Forest Soror I could not lead a perfectly quiet life.  Adventure and quests have a way of finding me.

Horatius Parius wishes me to inform you that you should be expecting a book of his soon, to be transported by Alata.  Antonia says that they will be in Britain for Christmas this year and that they hope to see you.

I hope this year's students have not been causing you too many headaches.  I suppose, however, that between the Marauders (and my small circle of friends) safely out of the castle and the war over that anything would seem quiet in comparison.

Cate




15 September
Iris,

Somehow I've managed to wring dire threats against my person from both Remus and Aidan within a fortnight of leaving Ara Virga.  I'm beginning to wonder about the effect I have on the males of my acquaintance.

Cornelius Fudge has also been annoyingly persistent in his owls for information on Atlantis.  The man couldn't even be bothered to differentiate between 'Minister' and 'Archdruid.'  All my work here will be for naught if our Minister refuses to observe even the formalities.

On a lighter note, I think I'm falling in love with Atlantis.  Even though this island and its civilisation are thousands of years old, it's still sparsely populated; the only city is its capital, Elysia.  Most of the island is still heavily forested, and there is an ancient darkness in the grey mountains, the formidable expanses of trees.  It isn't an evil darkness, or even a negative one; history and magic are locked away in each stone, each flower, and they darken with that knowledge.

I haven't moved much in Atlantean society yet, as it's draining simply acclimating, but the company I have been keeping is certainly mixed.  Eris Blanceflour, the daughter of a wealthy family who holds much influence in court, could give Cesara Viridian a run for her money any day.  Boreas Vortigern seems respectable enough as one of the chancellors of the Druidic Council, but the hair on the back of my neck stands on end when he comes near.  He seems. . . attracted to me.  On the other hand, Evander Pendragon (a junior member of the Druidic Council) and Delphinia Bulfinch (a young witch who lives in a cottage quite near the castle) have been all that is charming and helpful these past few weeks.  Horatius and Antonia Parius, close friends of the Archdruid and his wife, are a very sweet, erudite old couple.

The Nors and all the other kind people I've met here cannot compare with you, Aidan, Brighid, and Remus, however.  I miss you all.

Love, Cate




16 September
A- You wouldn't dare. -C



16 September
Lovers' quarrel?!?!  Your imagination rivals that of Aidan, Brighid.  Lovers' quarrel, indeed. . . - Cate



17 September
Mundungus,

To my bewilderment, Aidan and Remus have taken it upon themselves to threaten me with punishments dire and painful for piddling "offences" against them.  Any ideas on how I can stave them off?  Or better yet, avenge myself?

Cate



17 September
Cate,

Let's see.  I have come back from forays into the woods to find all my texts concerning my Candela assignments mysteriously misplaced.  Although I have since been careful to place my robes on the top shelf of the armoire, before I became appropriately wary I found thorns strangely appear in their hems.  Although he hasn't yet done anything to me in my sleep (I believe he does not want to cause harm to anything belonging to you, and I am sleeping in your bed after all), I sleep in terror of what awaits me in the morning.

I fear I will have to punish you for Ludicer's transgressions in addition to your own, for I can't very well punish a ward that I'm supposed to be protecting, now can I?

Remus


P.S. The first thing that sprang to mind when thinking of opulence was Lucius Malfoy's bedroom?



18 September
Cate,

I'm glad you're finding Atlantis so enchanting and (most of) the people so hospitable.  This Boreas Vortigern fellow sounds like quite a character.  Keep an eye on him, dear.

Work here at the Ministry is the same as usual.  I'm sorry that you seem to be falling afoul of Fudge as well.  He's a perfectly nice man if one doesn't know him.

What exactly did you do to provoke Aidan and Remus?  I'm sure your row with Aidan will blow over shortly (his temper is about as long-winded as a Slytherin's thoughts of altruism), but Remus always struck me as the unflappable type.  You haven't succumbed to the wiles of some dashing young charmer and owled him all the provocative details, have you?

Come to think of it, perhaps a letter of just that nature--but altered so that includes your wishes concerning him, not some Atlantean lothario--might be just the trick to put you back into his good graces.

What do you think?  - Iris




19 September
You are too funny, Cate.  I could see you sputtering as you wrote that last letter.

Why is it so improbable that Remus should return your feelings?  Explain that to me.

Brighid



20 September
Cate,

You can reduce Moravian Biting Vines to docile lapdogs and leave everything that's familiar to you for a hidden island that's suspicious of anything foreign, but you can't fend off a couple of overgrown schoolboys?

Aidan's been traipsing around dangerous territory for years.  It was only a matter of time before all that living on the edge went to his head and he started bringing others down to his level.

I thought Lupin too much the gentleman to threaten a lady, but what am I thinking?  Chivalry died out centuries ago.  You're observant enough to have realised by now what your most powerful weapon against him is.  And Merlin knows I'm hardly the one to be advising you about
that.  Good luck, my girl.

Mundungus




20 September
You horrible, horrible man, Remus.

Does my long and devoted care of you mean nothing?  I was hoping to appeal to your forgiving nature, but apparently that has been superseded by your unnatural quest for vengeance.

Dear Remus.  Can't we just be friends and put all this behind us?  I still miss you. . .

Cate


P.S. Good grief, it was just a figure of speech.  As in, figurative, not literal.



21 September
C- Wanna bet?  I'll wager 16 galleons and an Erumpent claw that I'll do just what I threatened if you call my bluff. -A




21 September
Iris!  I'm shocked and appalled that you would even suggest such a thing!

Do you think it would work?  Not that I would try it, of course.  - Cate






*A/N:  I am deeply indebted to Axelle for inspiring Brighid's instructions to Cate during a little conversation concerning Oxford men.  It was she who suggested Brighid say them to Cate, and I was happy to oblige.  A nice big box of chocolate truffles (and a bottle of Evian! hehe) for her never-failing ability to inspire plot bunnies.

A big holiday stocking of gratitude for Seldes Katne as well for making me giggle with all of her invaluable (but never dry) comments and advice.


Continued in Chapter 1:  Out to the Undiscovered Ends


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