The Sugar Quill
Author: eca celli  Story: Enduring  Chapter: Chapter One: The Sarcastic Turn Somber
Next Chapter
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Harry sat in front of the common room fire, staring into the flames, a melancholy mood ruling him. His scar thudded dully and it only served to aggravate his problem. He hated thinking things like this. He hated when he got into moods like this, but it was really something that was beyond his control. And, as much as he despised being depressed, he hadn’t the energy or the drive to attempt to lift himself out of it.

         “Have you finished your Divination homework yet?” Ron plopped down beside him.

         “No.”

         “Want to make predictions with me?” Ron remained bright despite Harry’s lack of enthusiasm. The bloke needed to relax a bit, after all, and though this activity wasn’t exactly the most exiting of endeavors, at least it was something. They hadn’t seen enough of each other lately. Between his new-found relationship with Hermione, impending exams and other various distractions, there was little time left for his best friend. If he was honest with himself, he would say that it was because of Harry’s continual depression that the friends had lately drifted apart but that was hard to swallow. Harry had been retreating further and further into himself lately and it wasn’t good though he was often at a loss of how to deal with it. It was complicated, he was sure of that, and he was also positive that they needed this time and if it meant doing homework, then so be it.

         “Isn’t it a bit early for you to be considering your homework? I mean, we have the weekend up ahead.”

Ron shot a very well staged glance back at Hermione—shifting the blame to her, which wasn’t completely false. She had ordered him to get Harry out of his shell. It had been her suggestion to do homework together, but it was Ron who had decided they would fake homework together. Either way, Harry fell for it. 

“Sure. Why not.” Harry fumbled for parchment and quills as Ron reached for his own, over boisterous in his animation. Harry really wasn’t feeling up to social interaction and found the whole thing vaguely bothersome. He knew that it was just Ron, his best friend, trying to help him but he just didn’t feel fit to interact with others. He just didn’t feel like himself.

“I’ll go first.” Ron stated pompously, flourishing his quill dramatically. “I predict…um…early this month I’ll be crushed by an extremely perturbed female.” He waggled his eyebrows at Harry and continued in a lower tone, “She’s been awfully moody lately. Unpredictable, that one is.”  Which was again only a half lie. This was Hermione. Harry continued to stare into the fire blankly. Ron moved on quickly. “So…your turn, mate.”

“Right. Ah…um…” he stalled, searching for an easy answer, trying to set his mind to the task at hand and not tasks of the past. “Late next month, I’ll be run over by a rampaging hippogriff.” He said with detachment.

“Oh, come on Harry! That’s awful cheap! We’ve used that one a thousand times! You’ve got to be able to come up with something a bit more original than that!”

Irritation overwhelmed him. He didn’t want to have to deal with this right now. “Fine.” He said, crankily carrying on with something more ‘original’,  “I predict that, by the end of the year, Voldemort will have finished me off and won’t have to worry anymore about that pesky ‘Boy-Who-Lived’” He shot Ron an icy glare, watching as his face contorted in shock. He was quite surprised at himself. He hadn’t expected to say that, but then again…he didn’t know what to expect from himself anymore. He really shouldn’t talk to people when like this.

“HARRY! That’s bloody MORBID! What the hell do you think you’re playing at, spouting out stuff like that?!!!”

“I’m not much fit for company at the moment.” He said heavily, staring at the fire still, trying desperately to keep from elaborating, in his mind, the way that the orange flames reminded him of Ginny’s fiery hair and the way that those same flames could so easily be used by the Dark Lord for tortuous purposes. It was the truth. It was better that he be isolated when in moods like this. It just wasn’t right to subject others to his morbid thoughts.

“You want to talk about it?” Ron attempted to offer a helping hand. Even as he squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, the offer was honest.

“I’m fine.”

Ron couldn’t help but feel miffed. Harry was not fine and he knew it, but there was nothing he could do to help if Harry wouldn’t allow him. It was yet another of those, now numerous times, when Harry had just pushed him away. It irked him something terrible and he bristled at his best friend’s automated response. He shouldn’t have to endure automated responses. He was his best friend.  He huffed and looked over at Harry, who was paying little to no attention to him. There would be no getting anything out of him tonight and, quite frankly, he didn’t really want to try to break the barrier tonight. He could feel himself getting steadily more angry. “I’ll just go to bed then.”

Harry grunted a response and Ron strode over to the dormitory door and slammed it a bit harder than was necessary, leaving the black haired boy in the fast emptying common room alone.

….

“Harry?” Ginny stood alone in the dormitory doorway, cautious and quiet in the late night silence, “Sorry to bother you. Forgot my quill. I’ll go now.” Ginny turned to leave, but his voice stopped her.

“No. Don’t go, Gin. It’s okay.” She went and stood in front of him, willing him to elaborate. He gave a wry half grin. “I’ve a feeling that you didn’t really forget a quill, did you?”

“Am I that transparent?” she flashed a winning smile.  Her hair shone in the gentle light of the fire, burning iridescent shades of auburn and orange. It was really was just like fire, she was just like fire he reflected as he marveled at the way she made everything seem a bit better, a bit warmer. “Do you want to talk about it?”

He shrugged. “Not really.” He pulled her onto his lap, a small, reluctant grin beginning to tug at the corners of his mouth. It was easier to forget, when she was around. He didn’t want to dwell on things that hurt any more. He wanted to be with her.

“Are you sure?…” She twisted around in order to look him directly in the eye, “Has anything happened?” She bore into his green eyes, willing him to speak. The stubborn git had to give it up.

“No, Gin. Nothing new. I’ve just been thinking…” 

She looked at him intently now, her brown eyes overflowing with unspoken questions.

“Can I kiss you?” He was shocked at the audacity of his statement. Ginny apparently was too, for she looked at him strangely.

“er…Yes, I suppose. You don’t need to ask….” she looked about to continue, but Harry caught her instead with a deep kiss. He never really mastered the whole romantic act. He lacked that certain flare but Ginny didn’t seem to mind, as she kissed him with the same ferocity in return.

Harry was reminded how very nice it was to kiss Ginny, how very easy. It was quite enjoyable, really. Her brilliant hair fanned around him and he was just thinking about how great it really was, to be here and be kissing her and how very beautiful she was, how very incredible all these thought culminating into one feeling of perfect ecstasy, a feeling that was quickly ruined.

Somewhere in his peripheral senses, he heard the creak of the dormitory door and saw the bleary image of a tall read headed bloke standing in the stairwell, killing the moment instantly. Harry jumped away from Ginny quickly, trying to make the scene look innocent, but only succeeded in falling off the slim sofa with a large ‘thud’ and receiving a nasty whack against the coffee table with his head.

“Sorry, just came down here looking for…” a groggy Ron mumbled before fully realizing occupants of the common room, “HARRY!!”

“Damn, as if my head didn’t hurt enough!” Harry swore, fingering a large bulge on his forehead and climbing to his feet with the aid of Ginny’s hand.

Ron ignored him. “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING?!”

“Wait. You don’t understand, Ron. Let me explain first.” Harry pleaded, still massaging his twice throbbing forehead.

“No….no….no…I’ve seen enough….not that I ever wanted to see any of this. It’s disgusting is what it is, downright disturbing…” Ron crossed his arms across his chest and blundered on, “I can’t believe this…can’t…believe this….You play this bloody pity game, don’t say a damn word for weeks, you have me and Hermione up in arms about how you’re doing and all that rubbish. Then, I come down here and find you SNOGGING MY LITTLE SISTER! WHY?…No, don’t answer that. I already know the answer.  I mean, it’s quite easy isn’t it? All that adoration all complete and everything…don’t have to play around with doubts…”

He kept going, but Ginny’s voice cut through like a razor blade. “RON. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 Ron stopped short. “Of course! Would you mind explaining?”

“Harry and I care about each other.” She started.

Ron gave a rude snort “Is that what he tells you then? ” Harry clenched his fists and bit back a string of choice words.

She continued, “We’ve been dating for the past six months. And nothing has happened, thank you very much. I don’t need my great moron of a brother taking care of me...”

“But…but….Why the hell all the secrecy?!! Why haven’t you told me and Hermione, eh?” Harry opened his mouth, preparing for a measured reply, but Ron kept on, “But I suppose we aren’t important enough to know what goes on in the Great Harry Potter’s wonderful life, eh?! No, we just don’t deserve that kind of attention. You’d rather…you’d rather…. SNOG MY SISTER in secrecy, wouldn’t you?!!” Ron hair was now matching his face perfectly in his rage.

That was it. That was enough. Not only had he implied that his intentions toward Ginny were false, but he had also questioned his integrity.

“STOP IT!” He worked his jaw and clenched his fists, in vain effort to stop the anger.

“Why? The Great Hero doesn’t like to HEAR THE TRUTH?!” And Harry couldn’t hold back anymore. He crossed the common room in two great strides and punched him. Right across the face, hard.  Immediately, Harry regretted it.

Ginny bit back a yelp as she saw Ron stagger backward from the blow and a scream as he threw a painful response, catching Harry squarely on the jaw. Harry staggered backward, tripping over the coffee table that had earlier injured him, kicking out his legs and arms in effort to right himself, but doing so he managed to trip Ron who fell over in a violent clattering.  Ginny looked on with mute horror.

It was during this interval when the dormitory doors flew open and an a trio of confused first years accompanied by a frantic Dennis Creevey stumbled in, flailing their arms about, crying questions. Harry and Ron were a bit too involved to act on the intrusion, but Ginny, glad for the distraction, rushed over and ushered them back up the stairs; assuring them that everything was all right, even as her own heart pounded with angst. Obediently, they returned to their confines, whimpering only a little.  It took longer to persuade Dennis though, he wanted to stay and gawk. Behind her, she heard an anonymous slam and hoped desperately that no one was hurt. It seemed that both Ron and Harry were still reeling at having actually punched one another and couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. She winced at the noise and hoped that someone would come down soon and sort this out. Those two were too far gone to realize at all what they were doing.

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!!” Hermione’s voice stopped the racket immediately. Both Ron and Harry looked up from their tangled mess on the floor to the doorway of the girl’s dormitories. An enraged Hermione stood there, hands on hips, her night dress rumpled, her hair knottier than usual, Prefect badge gleaming in the firelight. Ginny breathed relief.  “RON! HARRY!” Hermione stated in disbelieving shock as she absorbed the scene, but immediately returned to duty “Just what was so urgent that you had to go into it in the middle of the night?! And, more importantly, why are you FIGHTING?!” Both Harry’s and Ron’s mouths gaped as they struggled for an explanation. Ginny intervened.

“Hermione, umm….Ron caught me and Harry in a…ahem…rather compromising position.” Her eyes were large and face pale.

“They were SNOGGING!” Ron seemed to have found his voice. Harry turned a burning shade of scarlet.

         Ginny continued as if there were no interruption, “And Ron made some rather scathing accusations. Harry was just defending himself and Ron, well, I suppose he thought he was defending me. That’s all.” Ginny looked up at Hermione, pure innocence written all over her worried face. The innocence took much acting. She was a damn good actress.

         “They’ve been going out for SIX MONTHS, Hermione! SIX. MONTHS. And we never heard a word about it!!” Hermione melted noticeably at this.

         “Awww, Gin!” she bustled across the room, immediately enveloping Ginny in a tight embrace. “Why didn’t you tell me!”

         “I would have. But it was never the right moment, you know? And Harry and I thought it better to not have this be public. You know, with everything.” Hermione nodded, looking at Ginny through bleary eyes.

         “You’ve wanted this for so long and…finally…” Hermione stole a glance at Ron and Harry, who had now disentangled themselves and were standing awkwardly in separate corners nursing their individual wounds. “We’ll have to talk more later.” She whispered. “You two better go down to the hospital wing.” She addressed the two idiots, reassuming her dignified manner.

         “Not the hospital wing!!” Ron bellowed his disapproval, “Really, I’m fine!”

         “Yeah. Me too.” Harry piped up for the first time in a long while.

         Reeeally? If you’re so fine Mr. Weasley, why is that spot on your cheek turning such a nice shade of purple? And you, Harry, your lip is bleeding, for heaven’s sake!” And Hermione dragged the two off to the hospital wing.

*

Harry woke up to sanitary white and excruciating pain the next morning. To the dismay of both boys, Madam Pomfrey had insisted that both Ron and Harry stay the night, despite the fact that the injuries were only minor, mostly just bruises, and there was little she could do. There would be endless teasing over this. He sighed. He hated the hospital wing.  What a wonderful way to begin Easter Break, he thought sarcastically.

Harry moaned and rolled over in his bed, away from Ron. His head still throbbed, though now it wasn’t only due to his scar. He felt the large bump that had formed there, and the fat lip and sore jaw he possessed now also. His whole body ached. Scrawny Ron had quite a bit more fight in him than he let on, he thought as he remembered last night’s events.

He had been afraid of this.  God, how would he ever explain all this to Ron. He knew that Ron would be protective of his sister, would be afraid for his sister. And he had every right to be, he thought with a shudder. If Voldemort ever found out….he didn’t care to think about it.

“You awake, mate?” Ron was up. Damn. “Hey, I’m sorry ‘bout last night.” Harry remained silent, not for anger, but for lack of words.  “Harry, are you awake?”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“Listen, about last night…”

“Did Hermione talk to you or something?” Harry rolled over and looked incredulously at Ron. It wasn’t like him address affairs of this magnitude so readily. Hermione had to be threatening him. Ron nodded.

“Yeah. I got quite a bit of a lecture…” Ron thought back to the ‘talk’ he had endured that morning. Hermione had chastised him severely for his idiocy, but somehow he couldn’t let it go. All the effects of her elaborate persuasion fell away from him now as he actually attempted to mend the wound. This wasn’t a simple matter and it was not light.  “But I still don’t approve.”  “Then why apologize?” Harry’s voice bit the air.

“Well. I shouldn’t have hit you.” Ron’s eyes were ice. He added with cold finality. Maybe he was picking a fight, but, damn it….

“Yeah, well. Wasn’t that really my fault anyway? I threw the first punch.” Harry joined readily in the scathing sarcasm. He wished it weren’t this way. He didn’t want to remain on these terms with Ron, but it seemed there was no choice but to return the anger that was being sent his way. It wasn’t his fault if Ron couldn’t accept.
         “It was. I just didn’t think it was polite to throw blame.” A heavy silence hung for a few moments as each raged in their individual corners. “But don’t worry about it. I’ll cope. I mean, there’s nothing I can do. Your being the Great-Harry-Potter and all” Ron spat.

Harry was about to strike back, but was interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps. It was McGonagall.

“I’ve heard that there was a bit of a tizzy last night in the dormitories.” She stood poker straight and imposing above their beds. .

“Damn First years” Harry thought he heard Ron curse and braced himself for a lecture, but McGonagall ignored the exclamation, if she heard it, and continued.

 “Much to my disappointment, I am forced retract 40 points from Gryffindor. Each. And detentions.” Both boys let out cries of dismay, which McGonagall pointedly ignored. “Brawling is no light matter and it will not be handled as such. I trust nothing like this will ever happen again.” She peered at them over her spectacles. “All the issues have been resolved, then?”

“Yes, Professor” they answered in unison.

“Good. Harry, I’ll need to you to come with me.”

Harry was only barely surprised. What, exactly, she wanted him for, he had no idea, yet he pulled himself out of the bed dutifully, quickly changed behind the screen, and followed his Professor out into the hall. These sort of occurrences happened quite regularly now. Normally it was just Dumbledore checking up on him, but there was always that chance that something had happened. Sirius was off battling Voldemort, along with Lupin, Moody, and Hagrid and his heart lurched at the idea of anything happening to any of them. He followed McGonagall up through the corridors to the familiar stone gargoyle with a mind whirling with all too terrible thoughts. She said the password, and he climbed the spiral staircase to Dumbledore’s chambers alone.

 

         Dumbledore was sitting at his desk. His face slack, his eyes filled with that far away, worried expression that he wore so often now.

         “Ah, Harry. Good to see you.” He smiled warmly, the life seeming to come back to his twinkling eyes at the green-eyed boy’s entrance. “Snuffles, you can come out now. He’s here.” Dumbledore beckoned under his desk and a large, shaggy black dog emerged a moment later, bounding toward Harry in great leaps.  

         Harry couldn’t stop the grin. Sirius was here. He watched the dog transform into the familiar form of his godfather and the grin only grew wider.

         “Harry!” Sirius clapped him round the shoulders, drawing him into tight, fatherly hug.

         Harry was overflowing with happiness, and, to a certain extent—relief, at the unexpected visit, but his excitement was quickly distinguished as logic returned to him. “Nothing’s happened has it?” he asked frantically, pulling away from Sirius “Did something happen?”

         Sirius shook his head solemnly. “No, Harry. Nothing.” Sirius left the subject quickly though, his eyes narrowing in on Harry’s cuts and bruises. “But it seems that I should be the one asking you that. What happened here?” He gestured loosely at his godson’s black and blue condition.

Harry felt himself turn pink. “No. Nothing like that.

“Good.” Sirius paused, a mischievous glint glowing brighter than usual in his eyes. “You didn’t get into a scrap over a girl, did you?” He was now smiling slyly and snickering.

Harry felt his blush deepen. Sirius gaped at him. “Oh my God. You did.

         “I remember those spirited days of youth. Chasing girls.” Dumbledore’s dreamy voice cut into the exchange. Harry had been just about ready to go hide under a rock somewhere and never emerge, and was extremely thankful for Dumbledore’s distraction. “Got into quite a few brawls myself.” The blue eyes behind the spectacles assumed a rather glazed quality. The gratitude abandoned him soon, however, and Harry found himself, along with Sirius gaping at the Headmaster, open mouthed and all. It was Dumbledore after all, talking about girls, and he was ancient.   “That Minerva was quite something.” At this point, Harry let out a squeak of shocked horror. Ew. His Transfiguration professor and his headmaster. Nightmarish images passed across his mind’s eye before he could stop them. He shuddered.

         At this point, Dumbledore seemed to be pulled out of his reverie. He looked at Sirius and Harry as if seeing them there for the first time. “Sorry. I’ll leave you two alone.” Harry thought he saw him flush, but wasn’t sure, he strode past them so quickly.

         “I’ll just go down to the teacher’s lounge.” He reached awkwardly for the door, “See if I can find Minerva.” Harry thought he heard him mumble, but he wasn’t sure. He didn’t want to speculate, either.

         And Harry and his godfather were left alone, both gaping at the empty doorway, pale faced, jaws hanging.

         Sirius blinked several times, gulped and tried to recover. “Sooo….ahem….” he cast about for words, until suddenly remembering Harry’s prediction and gaining again that mischievous Marauder glint in his eye. “Who knocked you ‘round, then?”

         His eyes were gleaming a bit too much for Harry’s liking and he wilted under Sirius’ teasing grin. “Ron.” Sirius’ smile faded quickly.

         “My God….who?…it wasn’t over Hermione, was it?!”

         “WHAT?! ewwww…Hermione?!  God, no. NOO.” Harry wore a kind of scandalized, disgusted look on his face that explained more than words could ever say.

         “Good.” Sirius let out a sigh of relief. “Who was it then?”

         “Ginny.” Why did his face have to burn so terribly much?!

         “Well, that explains the bruises, then.”  There was a contemplative pause. “How’re you and Ron?”

Harry’s heart plummeted. How were he and Ron? He had no idea. He hated to think about it. Ron was likely to never forgive him—he’d been such a jerk lately. “I don’t know.” Harry tried to keep his face straight, but the strain showed. A pang of guilt hit him hard. He had been neglecting Ron and Hermione lately. They were his best friends and he had barely spent any time with them, lately. Sirius just looked at him, now. And that didn’t help matters. He cast about for a subject change. Any subject change.

“So…Why are you here?” He saw his godfather immediately stiffen and kicked himself. Idiot. Bad choice. Very bad choice.

Sirius just laughed it off, though, letting it roll off his back easily. “What? I can’t come to see my godson? What’s the world come to?!”

“Oh. Yeah.” Harry tried to fake a laugh. It didn’t work. He was never any good at acting. There was something else. He knew it. There had to be something else. His godfather was a wanted man, involved in an incredibly dangerous war. One didn’t just ‘drop in’ when in a condition like that.

“Why don’t you, Ron, Hermione and Ginny come eat dinner with me tonight?”

This was rather sudden. “Uh. Sure.” Harry smiled feebly. Sirius led him to the door.

“Third classroom on the left, fourth floor, six o’clock.” Sirius whispered as he reached for the handle. “I’ll talk to you there.” Harry looked at him blankly, then moved to leave. As he ventured down the stairs, Sirius called after him in his normal, teasing tone “Have to meet this girlfriend of yours, you know!” Harry laughed despite himself. Ginny would love Sirius.

*

“Where’s Ginny?” Harry came bounding into the common room, glancing frantically at his watch. The rain pounded at the windows, clouding a mind that was already murky with a thousand thoughts. Sirius was here and Ginny would meet him. It would be great.

         “Why?” Ron was still peevish. He sat on a sofa now, glaring at Harry maliciously. Hermione was giving Ron, in turn, an equally scathing glare.

         “We’re all eating with Sirius tonight, if you must know.” Harry said in a low tone, standing above Ron and Hermione now.

         “And she has to come with?”

         Yes.”  The air between Harry and Ron was electric with discordance.

         “I think she’s retrieving something for Herbology. She should be back any minute now.” Hermione, mercifully, interrupted the exchange.

         “Well, she better come back quick. We’re going to be late.” Harry plunked himself down, listening distractedly to the steady beat of the rainfall, glancing at his watch repeatedly.

         “She’s always late, you know. You’d think you’d know that though, being her boyfriend.”   Ron shot venomously.

         “I do know that, thank you very much. But, I still reserve the right to complain.”

         “HARRY! What happened?!” Harry jumped. Colin Creevey, sure enough, had snuck up behind him and was now staring incredulously at his purpled appearance. His jaw dropped. What would he tell him? What would he say that would be benign enough to quell any dangerous rumors? Had those rumors already been started by the younger Creevey? How much did he know? He stuttered, searching for an answer. Hermione, again, saved the day.

         “Ron and Harry had a rift. They’re quite fine now, though.” Her glower should have been enough to quiet any other student, but Colin pressed on.

         “What about?”

         “Oh, um…nothing, really…Hedwig was just picking at Pig and they got overly defensive, that’s all….now, if you’ll excuse us…” and she literally pulled both boys out the portrait hole.

         “Thanks” Harry mumbled awkwardly, glancing at his watch again, in effort to avoid Ron’s eye. Thankfully, the sound of footsteps soon resonated up the stairwell and Ginny appeared--sopping wet and muddy. Her hair hung in dregs, her face was smeared with mud, her robes were dripping. Harry didn’t notice. “Good. Ginny, you’re here.” He grabbed her wrist and ran, dragging her along, darting up the corridors at a fast pace, twisting through the labyrinthine passageways of the castle to their designated meeting place, which was reached a few minutes later after many cries of protest and disgruntled yelps had been either endured or ignored. Probably ignored.

         “HARRY!” Ginny plowed to a stop, her eyes burning with rage. “Just where are you taking me! And why in the hell couldn’t I have at least washed up before going?!”

         “I’ll tell you later” Harry said, tugging her toward the destination that was now mere feet away.

         “No. You’ll tell me now.” Her stance left no room for challenge. “You can’t do this, you know. Just grab me out of nowhere and drag me along. WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU TAKING ME?!”  As her voice grew steadily louder, Harry grew more nervous. Filch, Mrs. Norris or Peeves could be lurking anywhere. She ranted on and he became more concerned.

He literally pulled her into the room, now. He set her in a corner of the abandoned classroom, casting a silencing charm as quickly as he could manage, guarding her from view. This was embarrassing. Ron, Hermione and Sirius were already there. He knew they were watching.

Ginny continued in her rage. “I’M WET, I’M COLD, I’M MUDDY AND I’M TIRED! And by Merlin, Harry James Potter, you had better tell me what we’re doing here or I won’t be responsible for what happens next!”

“Sirius is here. He wanted to meet you.” Harry felt sheepish and juvenile in the wake of Ginny’s unique terror. It was like being young and innocent in the face of one of Vernon’s lashings yet again.

WHAT?!” Ginny looked like she could kill. Her cheeks flushed, her hair burned, and her eyes blazed. “The first time I meet your GODFATHER and he sees me like THIS!! I can’t believe you, Harry, I really can’t. How could you possibly be so thick?!”

“You look fine.” Harry reached over and tenderly removed a fleck of dirt from her cheek.

Ginny snorted. “Don’t even go there.”  He pulled his hand away as if he had been burnt. Ginny cast a drying charm on her self, patted down her hair and smoothed her robes. “Well. If it must be done, let’s get it over with.” She stated with a kind of tired resignation. “But, bear in mind, I’ll hold this against you for the rest of your life.”

Harry just sighed, raked his hand through his hair and retracted the silencing charm. He turned around to see Sirius, Ron and Hermione staring at them, sure enough, with rapt attention. Ron was looking a bit too pleased. Hermione was wearing a look of genuine concern and Sirius was grinning that grin that only meant trouble.

“Sirius, this is Ginny.” Harry gestured toward the wild young woman beside him, who, he was quite certain, was still glowering at him at this very moment. “And Ginny, this is Sirius. My godfather.” 

Sirius offered his hand to Ginny, peals of ringing laughter already breaking the uncomfortable silence. “Glad to meet you Ginny. I’ve heard so much about you.” His voice was positively dripping with honey.

“And I, you.” Ginny cast a glare at Harry. “Though you’ll have to forgive my appearance. Someone didn’t inform me that we’d be coming here tonight.”

“You look beautiful.” He winked and nodded toward Harry. “Sorry ‘bout him. Haven’t had much time to train him yet. But, don’t worry. I will.”

“Might be a bit of a challenge. He’s pretty slow.”

Sirius laughed as he took a seat at the old teacher’s desk, now serving as a dining table. “I like this one, Harry. She’s got spirit.” The others followed suit.

“Yeah. The git doesn’t know half the spirit she’s got, either. Doesn’t know what he’s getting into, this one.” Ron gestured across the table at Harry as he invaded the House-Elf prepared basket of food.

“Ginny’s your little sister, right?” Sirius’ eyes twinkled dangerously.

“Yup. Raiding the cradle, he is.” Ron bit maliciously into a drumstick. Harry resisted the urge to dive under the table and hide. Hermione and Ginny both glared.

“Actually, Ginny is closer in age to Harry than all of us.” Hermione’s airy, educated voice stopped Ron’s destruction of the drumstick immediately. He looked at her now, dumbfounded, along with the rest of the occupants, waiting for elaboration. “Well, it’s simple arithmetic, isn’t it?” She looked at them all in turn, awed that they hadn’t figured it out. “Harry was born 31 July, 1981. Ginny was born 10 November that same year, three months too late to catch our class. They’re exactly…” She screwed up her eyes as she worked out the simple mathematics, “three months, ten days apart. Whereas Ron was born 25 January 1981 and is…five months, twenty five days older than Harry. And I’m six months, five days older than him, born 5 February 1981.” Hermione now straightened her back and grinned triumphantly, “So, you see Ron, he’s not raiding the cradle.”

Sirius was amused. “And as long as we’re spouting off dates…Harry’s conception was 31 October 1980.” He waggled his eyebrows mischievously as Harry suddenly had the, now familiar, sensation of wanting to go hide under a rock and never emerge ever, ever again.
         “Please, Sirius. I don’t want to hear this.”

“Aww. Poot ‘ickle Harry is embaaaraassed.” But Sirius dropped the subject. He seemed to have a shred of decency.

Harry just started to pick at his food. His jaw hurt. He couldn’t chew. And Sirius was a mad man. He made a mental note never to let his godfather get hold of any information that could be potentially embarrassing. This was hell.

“Harry, why aren’t you eating?” Hermione’s kind inquiry came.

“It’s nothing. My jaw is just a bit sore, having some trouble chewing.” Harry glanced up. Hermione was studying him worriedly. “It’s nothing. I’m fine.”

“Aww. Here Harry, let me help you.” Ginny reached over and mashed all the food on his plate into a nice, even soupy texture. “There. Just like baby food. You should have no trouble chewing now.” She grinned serenely and returned her attention to her own plate.

Thanks.

Sirius, who had been studying the couple intently, suddenly burst out in guffaws.

What, may I ask, is so funny?”

“Like father, like son.” Sirius managed between peals of laughter.

Harry stared at him intently, jaw slack, waiting for elaboration. Anything to do with his parent sparked immediate attention. The information was just too sparse to be ignored. “It’s just…watching you two….The way you act and not to mention…don’t tell me you haven’t noticed?!”

“Noticed what?” Harry was genuinely wary.

“The hair. Honestly.” Sirius rolled his eyes exasperatingly, suppressing a smirk.

“Oh! But…I mean…” Harry cast about for an explanation, “Sure, I have dad’s hair,”

“My sympathies on that. Too bad it turned out that way.”

Harry pointedly ignored Sirius’ remark, “but Mum and Ginny are completely different. Mum’s hair was a much darker red than Ginny’s. Ginny’s hair is a much more fiery red…” he fell silent, suddenly aware that he had said much more than he had intended. All the eyes in the room were staring at him. His face burned.

Sirius was watching him amusedly. “What is it with the Potters and red hair?”

Harry gave it up. There was no dignity left to spare. All the blushing in the world would do nothing but encourage Sirius and he knew it. The only way to halt the infinite teasing was to shock him. He leaned back in his chair, took a deep breath and resolved to get it over with. He peered over the rim of his glasses and said it. “Well, it’s dead sexy isn’t it?”

Ginny suppressed a giggle, Hermione attempted to look reproving, but unsuccessfully hid the beginnings of a smirk, Ron let out a strangled cry of indignation. Sirius was ghostly pale.

“What’s the matter?” Harry asked, concerned. This Sirius was way too close to the Sirius he had met fresh out of Azkaban.

“It’s spooky sometimes…” His godfather visibly shook. “You’re so like your father, Harry. And you don’t even know it. I mean, it’s not just the hair and stuff like that, it’s a look you both share and the humor...” he trailed off. “You must get tired of hearing about it. I’m not sure how you feel about the subject…”

“No. It’s fine. I like hearing about them….I just…wish I knew them.” The rest of the room seemed to fall away. It was just him and his godfather and memories of people who were incredibly significant to them both.

“It’s odd. The more time I spend with you, Harry, the more I see them. It’s like…I’m looking at both of them a the same time…” he paused, his eyes swimming with unseen images of times past. “Not that you don’t have your own personality, of course.” He seemed to want to redeem himself for some transgression. He didn’t know how to approach subjects like these. He wasn’t good at this sort of thing.  His words clattered on the air, bouncing around the room and effectively shattering the moment.

“No. It’s fine. I didn’t take it that way.”  Harry attempted to right it, but the bind between them was broken and awkwardness prevailed. Harry looked around for something to lay his eyes on, noticing everyone about him. Ron was watching him intently, an unreadable expression upon his face. Hermione looked upon him curiously. Ginny’s hand rested lightly on his knee, he realized with a start. As soon as he noticed this, however, she retracted it.  There was a stretch of stillness.

Sirius cleared his throat in preparation to speak. The noise sounded unusually loud. “I promised your dad, your mum and dad, that I’d take care of you Harry and that’s why I’m here—to fulfill my duty as your godfather and that includes protecting you.” He paused and Harry had the feeling, for the first time in his life, that he was being lectured by a parent. He couldn’t really say that he hated it, but he wasn’t too sure he liked being worried over either. He wasn’t fragile, he could take care of himself, though no one seemed to believe this. None the less, it felt kind of good to be cared for like this. Sirius continued, “I know you’ve suspected it, so it won’t be much of a surprise to you, but, for the past months I’ve been hunting Wormtail in the war effort.” Sirius was right. None of them were shocked at this pronouncement. “And I’ve come across some information that has lead me to believe that you’re his next target, Harry.” Harry heaved a sigh at this. He was always the target. “Voldemort has had sufficient time to recuperate and gather his power and he’s ready to go after you again—and Wormtail’s the most logical of his minions to go looking for you, what with his experience..”  Ron cringed at this. It was always a sore spot of his, having unknowingly harbored such a despicable person for so long and not knowing anything of it. “It may have been incredibly naïve for me to come here. I have a strong suspicion that Wormtail may be tracking me too and by coming here I risk endangering you. You see, Hogwarts is…”

“hidden from all maps and other navigating devices.” Hermione’s voice broke in. “It’s in..”

“Hogwarts a History.” Ron finished.

“Right.” Sirius, who normally would have loved to join in on the banter, continued in a determined manner. This was urgent. He needed to say this. “But understand, Harry that I had to come here. I suppose I could have sent an owl, but there’s always the danger of the letter being intercepted and that is a very real risk these days. Never mind that there’s some things that are just better left to face to face conversation. And I suppose I could have asked someone else to warn you but, you see, I’ve had a bit of a problem in the past with trusting other people to do a job that I should have done.” There was a fierceness in his tone that was chilling. “Not to mention the promise I made to your parents. I’ve never forgotten that, Harry. I haven’t ever.” He looked directly at Ron and Harry now, his stare piercing and meaningful. “You know, you two remind me of James and my myself. I know both of you mean well, but you have to trust me on this, it’s not worth it. Nothing is worth destroying a friendship like you have here. Nothing.” Silence fell as Sirius said these words, having just finished his speech.

Harry thought about what Sirius had said, not about Wormtail—he would think about that later. He knew he would and being the target of Voldemort was nothing new to him. He thought about Sirius’ advice. He was right, there was no doubt about that. But it just seemed to him that they couldn’t just make it all better. There was just too much that had gone on for that.

Sirius looked out the window idly. The sun was setting in a blaze of reds and oranges and pinks. The horizon was picturesque and comforting, calm and peaceful. But as Sirius looked upon it he didn’t feel the placating effects of the sunset, he felt rushed. “I’m sorry, Harry, but I have to meet some one soon…” he got up out of his seat, moving to say goodbye. Harry suppressed a groan as he lifted himself out of his chair. It was for the best, he knew, and he was stupid to be thinking these selfish thoughts, but he didn’t want his godfather to leave. Sirius, as if in a response to these thoughts, turned to him and smothered him in a powerful hug. “I’ll be back, you know, as soon as I can.”

Harry managed to laugh non-chalantly and push away. He didn’t know how to deal with situations like these, he wasn’t accustomed to them. He didn’t want to get all mushy. This was embarrassing.  “Get out of here now, you git. You’ve embarrassed me enough.”

Sirius smiled somberly and addressed all of them. “Really, though. Be careful, all of you. I couldn’t stand myself if something happened, so don’t do anything stupid, got that?”

Harry nodded. “We’ll be fine.”

His godfather’s eyes twinkled with a hint of that jovial demeanor he was so well known for before he transformed. The big black dog nudged Harry’s hand with his wet nose in gesture of good bye and before finally turning and running out the door and down the corridors, his nails click clacking on the hard stone floor. For a moment, Harry watched, transfixed, as the closest person he had to a father trotted away him. A hand on his shoulder pulled him back to reality.

“He will come back, you know. It’ll be fine.” Hermione stood at his side, eyes fixed in the same direction.

“Yeah. I know.”

The walk back to the dormitories was largely silent, Ginny pacing quietly at his side, Hermione holding Ron’s hand up ahead.  The journey passed all too quickly.  

**

Her hair caught the light, the fiery iridescence of it entrancing him. He sat, spell bound, in the common room, homework forgotten, mouth gaping, staring at Lily across the room. She was gorgeous.

         “There, Potter?” Sirius waved a hand in front of his face, rudely interrupting his reverie.  James glanced up ruefully. Sirius was mocking him now, barely suppressing that infectious grin of his. “Like redheads, now do you?” Sirius stuck a thumb in Lily’s direction and winked.

         James hefted his feet upon the coffee table, loosening up now that all hope of privacy was gone, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “Well, you’ve got to admit.” He peered over the rim of his glasses. “It’s dead sexy.”

         Sirius’ lip curled upward in sly amusement. “Is it now?” He cocked his head in Lily’s direction, evaluating her in a pompous and completely absurd manner. “I’m not so sure….I’d say there might be prettier ones ‘round here. Personally, I go for brunettes.”

         “Sirius, you go for anything that moves.

         “True, true…but still…”

         James interrupted him immediately, “No. Not at all. She’s definitely the most beautiful. There is no contest.” The context was that of playful teasing, but the earnestness in James’ voice was obvious.

         Sirius shook his head and laughed. “Only you, James. Only you.” His best friend sent him a rather sarcastic glare, which he ignored easily. He leaned forward on the sofa, glanced over at Lily and addressed James, “So, you really like this one, eh?”

         James looked at him and there was nothing sarcastic, playful or teasing in his tone when he answered. “Really.”

 

 

 

//
Write a review! PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of reviewing a story or piece of art at the Sugar Quill is to provide comments that will be useful to the author/artist. We encourage you to put a bit of thought into your review before posting. Please be thoughtful and considerate, even if you have legitimate criticism of a story or artwork. (You may click here to read other reviews of this work).
* = Required fields
*Sugar Quill Forums username:
*Sugar Quill Forums password:
If you do not have a Sugar Quill Forums username, please register. Bear in mind that it may take up to 72 hours for your account to be approved. Thank you for your patience!
*Comment:
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --