The Sugar Quill
Author: Polaris  Story: Clari-tea  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A snowflake gently landed on the window latch and froze, becoming a tiny statue teetering on the edge

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for another person’s genius. It’s unethical. And I’d get sued.


Author’s Note: I know people do this all the time, but I really do have to thank my beta-reader, Chary, for being extremely kind, patient and helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you… To everyone else, don’t be too harsh on me. It’s my first fic… but be honest J








A snowflake gently landed on the window latch and froze, becoming a tiny statue teetering on the edge. As the light flurries swayed in the air, Hermione watched the ground slowly, quietly, become covered in white.


The roofs resembled gingerbread houses topped with powdered sugar, and never before had she thought of the neighborhood surrounding Grimmauld Place as a peaceful one. The night was soft, and though her mind was troubled, she found something reminiscent of peace as the window slowly frosted over.


But Ron’s snoring penetrated through the walls of her room and brought her back to reality with a screeching halt. Within her rose a spurt of anger: how could he sleep so easily while their other best friend was in so much pain? She knew instinctively that Harry was still awake. After what had happened, how could he be expected to sleep? The idea alone made her sigh.


It was worry that kept her awake tonight. Not just worry for Harry, but for everyone and everything that surrounded her.


Now stop. That’s enough of that. No use worrying yourself about things you can’t control.


She pushed her thoughts aside repeatedly, but in vain. There was no escape.


And so it was that she descended the stairs to the kitchen in hopes of a warm cup of tea. Her mother would do that, at times like these. Before everything was complicated and her worries consisted only of her marks at school, when innocence had never been threatened and magic was just a far away dream…


The kitchen was dark and imposing, and not at all the welcoming atmosphere she was seeking. But it would have to do. At least she was certain not to be bothered by anyone. Other than Kreacher, perhaps, but otherwise, the house was entirely silent.


She took one step –




Hermione gave a strangled cry as her wand soared from her hand. Her heart threatened to leap out of her chest, she opened her mouth wide, prepared to scream –




Another strangled cry escaped from her throat before her eyes adjusted to the light now shining in front of her. The glow from the sudden brightness illuminated the face before her –




His face looked worn and tired, etched in worry. “Hermione, forgive me, I didn’t mean…”


He broke off suddenly, obviously embarrassed at his rash reaction. As she struggled to breathe correctly again, she realized that Sirius must have been sitting in the kitchen, alone, in the gloom.  The thought caused a wave of pity to sweep over her, and her eyes softened slightly at the look on his face.


“I’m sorry,” he stated lamely.


“It’s – it’s all right.”


“No, really, I should’ve thought before –”


“Sirius, it’s fine, really. Just… be careful,” she answered placidly.


Her tone quieted him, but an awkward silence fell upon them. Hermione shuffled a bit, wondering what to do next.


“Er –” he began in an apparent effort to break the silence, “I was just making some tea.”


“Oh, lovely, I came down to get just that.”


“Two cups, coming up, then,” he answered in a falsely cheery tone.


She walked over to the stool by the counter and sat on it, drawing her nightdress and robe tightly around her. Truth be told, it was awkward being alone with Sirius; during the summer, he’d been in the master room most of the time, feeding Buckbeak and thinking of Harry, while she had been helping out with the chores or ridding herself of her homework. As odd as it was, they had never truly talked by themselves, even though they had been locked in the same house together for over a month.


The sound of clinking cups gently pulled her from her thoughts. Sirius was pulling his wand back now, ready to heat the fire –


“Oh, wait!”


He paused abruptly in his movements, looking alarmed. “What is it?” he asked in a worried tone.


“Oh,” she said, flushing slightly, “it’s just that – well – have you ever had it the Muggle way? It’s quite similar to the wizard way, I suppose, only you heat the water with a kettle, and you sift the leaves, but you’d have to wait before drinking, of course, because it really is quite hot, although I suppose it’s equally hot the wizarding way –” She paused in her ramblings, realizing she had strayed far from her original path. “Anyway, it was just a suggestion,” she finished timidly and took a profound interest in staring at her hands.


She always felt rather foolish in front of him. Perhaps because she had a rather sheltered life compared to the horrors he must have gone through, and, therefore, she felt she could never really be seen as an equal, regardless of her age.


But a funny noise caught her attention, and she realized he was chuckling quite heartily.

Indignantly, she raised her chin and stated, “It really isn’t that amusing.”


He paused, red in the face, and shook his head. “Hermione, I wasn’t laughing at you per se, rather at all the fuss Muggles go through to make a cup of tea.”


“I’ll have you know it’s really quite delicious.”


“And really quite a bother?”


“It doesn’t hurt to have patience, you know.”


There was a piercing silence in which Hermione clapped her hand over her mouth. Idiot, she told herself. He was in a prison cell for over a decade, of course he has some degree of patience.




Sirius was never one for awkward silences, and he shifted uncomfortably on his feet.


Hermione’s stutters began abruptly. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I –”


“It’s fine,” he replied flatly, not quite able to meet her eye.


“But I –”


“Just forget it,” he said more harshly than he meant to. Then, “Really, enough apologies tonight,” he added lightly, trying again to make amends.


Yet another deep silence in which both tended to their own thoughts.


As he stirred the tea slowly, his mind wandered back to sleepless nights and restless days in a cell on a wayward shore. When gazing out the window of his cell at night, jagged rocks lined the coast, taunting him silently, and even now, in his nightmares, he could recall the silhouette of those perilous boulders, as well as the cold creeping upon him, chilling his bones, as a telltale shadow drifted along the shoreline…


“You know, the night of the Shrieking Shack,” Hermione said suddenly, pulling him from his thoughts, “when – Pettigrew – was trying to convince us he was innocent… I didn’t mean to take his side and convict you or anything.”


Sirius gave a wan smile. “You had every right to doubt me. Being an ex-convict isn’t something people tend to smile upon,” he said dryly.


“Well, no, I suppose not, but I just thought you should know that I never had a… true grudge.”


He stopped stirring the tea and looked up, chewing his lip thoughtfully.  “You called me Mr. Black.”


She blinked. “Pardon?”


“In the Shack. You addressed me as Mr. Black. That was the first time in thirteen years I had been called that, not to mention without an accusatory tone. I didn’t think you had a grudge,” he said with a small smile, which she returned.


“You know, the Muggle way really is worth learning.”


He smirked.  “I know the Muggle way.”




“Hogwarts. I took Muggle Studies.”


“But didn’t your parents –”


“That was the point,” he said wryly.


Hermione did not speak and he forced himself to say something.


“Your parents are Muggles?” he asked.


“Yes. They’re dentists.”


“And they’re ok with you being here?”


“Well,” she began quietly, “it’s safer for everyone. With V-Voldemort back, and Malfoy at his side, it could be dangerous for me… for them, really.”


Sirius saw her troubled face. “Is that why you came down here for tea?” he asked patiently, observing her quietly.


She nodded silently, sighed and looked up. “And Harry,” she stated simply.


Sirius nodded in understanding. She took a breath and accepted the tea he handed her. “He’s just so withdrawn and quiet and he never talks to us about anything. It’s so hard to tell what going on with him. I wish he’d just trust us.”


Sirius considered her words. Harry had been plaguing his mind for the past week as well. When his godson had first confronted him about his problem, Sirius had been at a loss for words. He simply hadn’t been sure of what to do or say, or for that matter, what he was allowed to say. So much for being a caring guardian, he thought angrily to himself.


“Hermione,” he said quietly, “Harry is dealing with a lot of new nightmares, and he already has enough to deal with. The quiet is what he needs,” he said, trying to convince himself.


She pursed her lips, and, for a minute, she reminded him too much of Molly. “I completely disagree. He needs his friends, his family,” she paused. “You.”


Sirius looked down at his cup, agitated and irritated.


“I’m just being honest,” she said simply. “He looks up to you.”


Every word tore at his heart. He hated Grimmauld Place, hated not being able to be the godfather he was supposed to be. Didn’t she know that? Didn’t everyone know that? What did they think, that he enjoyed not being able to do anything?


“You should go to bed,” he told her, and watched as she looked away, the expression on her face hovering somewhere between hurt and angry. “It’s late.”


“Fine,” she said resignedly and shuffled away, her bushy hair pointing in all directions. He felt guilty all of a sudden –




She turned around and looked at him in an annoyed manner, clearly angry with his supposed indifference.


“Harry is lucky to have friends who care about him, like you and Ron.”


She smiled slightly. “Harry has friends, Sirius. It’s family that he needs.” She sighed. “Thank you for the tea.”


“Anytime,” he responded with a meaningful gaze, yet feeling too confused to elaborate.


And with that, she gave another small smile, waved goodnight and climbed the stairs slowly.


Her words drifted in his head as he sat at the kitchen table. Family. His was a joke, but at least he’d been given a choice. Harry was a victim of circumstance, and had never had a family.


James pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and looked Sirius straight in the eye.


“They say blood is thicker than water, Padfoot. But that’s a load of rubbish, if you ask me. You, Moony, Peter and I… we’re brothers, mate. That’s the magic. We’re family.”


He rested his head in his hands.


He could give Harry a family. And if he wasn’t already, then he would die trying.


That’s the magic. We’re family, Harry; we’re family. 






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