The Sugar Quill
Author: Miss Pince  Story: A Padfoot Sighting  Chapter: Default
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A Padfoot sighting

A Padfoot sighting.

Inspired by an incident on an underground train.

AN: This is one of those wonderful stories where you get an idea, sit down at the computer and it just flows out. It took my exactly an hour and two minutes to write this and completely out of character with myself, I didn’t agonize over one single sentence of it. This is dedicated to Christine, as a belated birthday present.

He really, really, really hated the Underground.

To him it felt like a maze, a myriad of trains and stops and people, a place where it didn’t apply that he should always follow either wall to get out.

Perhaps it was because it was underground, but Remus without exception lost his usually keen sense of direction whenever he descended the stairs to a tube station. He’d gotten lost on the Underground more than once, no matter how detailed his directions, even if people wrote down the smallest details like ’Turn left there – there’s a yellow wastebasket in the hall where you’re not supposed to go...’ he usually managed to muck the directions up to no end. Sometimes when he’d started to despair that he’d ever see the blue sky again he used directional magic, but in a place like the Muggle Underground that was extremely perilous.

Most times, the Floo network or a Portkey could deliver him to his destination. The rare trips on the Underground were reserved for those times when everyone else could Apparate, and no one had taken into consideration those who could not, or who were forbidden to learn.

Thus it was with his usual dry humour that he normally entered tube stations, wondering where he’d end up this time – after all, his underground adventures had allowed him to see a larger part of Muggle London than most other wizards knew existed – but today he was not in the mood for humour, anymore than he was in the mood for getting totally lost on the Underground.

He was, in fact, not in the mood for going anywhere at all.

His transformation only two days gone had been exceptionally bad. He was still limping and sore and bruised. He was heartsick, homesick, basically sick of being himself, and wishing more than anything that the Wizarding world would just go away and forget that he ever existed.

Six months. Six months had gone by and he still found no solace for himself. He couldn’t visit his memories because none of them were without the presence of a traitor. He couldn’t go to sleep because his dreams were haunted by the very same man. Every object in his home seemed to have a memory attached. He found no reprieve in books or in work, it felt worthless, now, when the Wizarding world was free but he had still lost everything and everyone that had been dear to him.

And lost them to the hand of a man whose memory he couldn’t escape.

Even the hated Underground reminded him of the betrayal, and Remus hated it all the more for it. He hated himself for allowing the memories to surface in his mind, memories of Sirius, wild-eyed on an escalator, or his unquenchable curiosity at how it all worked.

Sirius had loved the Underground. Every time Remus had been forced to travel somewhere the Muggle way, Sirius had been delighted to do likewise – even if he didn’t need to be where Remus was going. So Remus’ adventures on the Underground had slowly turned into crazy escapades and for a while he’d hated the Underground a little bit less.

The hate was back full force now, though.

The familiar Underground wind started up, slowly, as a train came out of the tunnel and into the station, pushing air in front of it. Remus managed to catch the direction on front and consult his slip of paper. Correct. He entered the train, minding the gap, and sat down in a vacant seat, staring out the window, as if there were something extremely interesting to see.

He was supposed to stay on for some ten stops. He wasn’t supposed to go off until at the very end of the line. ’Can’t mess that one up, hopefully’ he thought grimly, watching with blind eyes as people exited and entered the front of the train, every last one of them in a hurry, trying to remember whether this was the first or the second stop since he entered.

The train started up, and gathered speed as it hurtled into the dark tunnel. Remus felt slightly uncomfortable, watching a multitude of pipes and wires along the tunnel wall. He dropped his gaze from the window, to the floor in front of him, and for a split second he thought his heart was going to stop.

The only difference, really, were the brown eyes that stared into Remus’ hazel ones, unblinking. If they’d had been blue, Remus would probably have alerted Ministry of Magic officials, secrecy in front of Muggles be damned.

The huge black dog was lying in the aisle, next to his seat, and staring unwaveringly up at him. Then suddenly it stood up, gave a small whine and laid his muzzle on Remus’ knee.

Remus felt his chest contract painfully, and he drew a shaking ragged breath. The girl across the aisle who was holding the dog’s leash looked up from her book and yanked it.

“Snuffles!” she said in indignation “You’re not supposed to do that! I am so sorry for my dog, sir, he is very affectionate but usually doesn’t know where to draw the line, if you know what I mean...” She smiled apologetically.

‘I know precisely what you mean’ Remus thought.

“I don’t mind. I am very fond of dogs...” His voice sounded shaky, but the girl just smiled and went back to her book.

For a few moments the dog stared into Remus’ eyes again. It was almost like it knew that it represented something to him. Before he could stop himself, he reached out and fondled the dog’s ears in a familiar way. The dog – Snuffles, she’d called him – arched to the touch, then licked his hand, then looked pleadingly up at him. He shot the girl a sidelong glance, but she was engrossed in the book she was reading – something by someone named ‘King’ – and didn’t notice when he leant down and whispered almost conspiratorially to the dog:

“What do you want, eh?” Snuffles whined. “What makes you think that I might have something for you?” Snuffles whined again, and put his muzzle back on Remus’ knee, a gesture that was so terribly familiar that it ached somewhere very deep, where Remus hadn’t even noticed he’d been aching. “Okay, okay, you know, you’re terribly persuasive...” Remus rummaged around in his bag. He thought he still had some of those biscuits he’d bought the other day... ah, there was a pack. Shooting another glance at the unsuspecting owner, Remus pulled out the biscuit and gave it to the dog, who munched on it for a while, then whined, almost contentedly and nudged Remus’ hand with his head. “Oh, very subtle. Want a scratch, do you?” he whispered, scratching Snuffles behind the ears all the way to the next stop, where the girl gathered up her things, smiled prettily at Remus and led an unwilling Snuffles away from his newfound friend.

When they were out of sight Remus took a deep breath and let his head fall back against his seat. He berated himself silently – indulging in nostalgia like that always had nasty repercussions. Dwelling on the "what ifs" only led to wallowing in his own misery later on.

Much to Remus’ surprise, neither repercussions nor wallowing showed up, and somewhere in his heart he had to acknowledge that the wound was healing. It made him almost resentful; after all, the pain was the only thing he had left of his friends, of his youth and of his past.

 

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