The Sugar Quill
Author: Jack Ichijouji (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Skin Deep  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.

Disclaimer: In the Beginning, I’ve been told, God created the H

Disclaimer: In the Beginning, I’ve been told, God created the Heavens and the Earth. And some six billion years later, JK Rowling owned Harry Potter, and I did not.

It’s very disturbing to wake up one morning to the realization that you’re pretty. There are more disturbing things to wake up to, of course (often involving foreign heads, blood, and the like) but not as many as one might think.

Sirius didn’t quite wake up with this revelation. He wasn’t even entirely aware of what day it was (Sunday). The revelation occurred several minutes later when he was looking in the mirror in the bathroom and wondering, “How did Bella get in here?” Our story begins just as he realizes that the face in the mirror is his own.

James was brilliant, if he did say so himself. Any plan guaranteed to cause Lily Evans to lust after him was brilliant enough, but this one combined his one of his two other passions: embarrassing Snape and playing Quidditch. In this case, it was Quidditch.

“Quidditch Cup and Lily. I should clone myself just so I can give me a hug,” he muttered smugly. His thoughts were interrupted, however, by a shout from the boys’ dormitory.


Someone has a problem with modesty, thought James. Now, back to my brilliant plan.

Before James could return to his brilliant plan, however, Sirius ran into the common room. “Look at my face!” he exclaimed. “Do you see anything different about it?”

James glanced at his friend’s face. “No. Well, you have a spot on your jaw, but I don’t know how long it’s been there.”

“You don’t see anything? Anything at all?”

“Noooo…” said James in a tone suggesting that Sirius’ mental well-being might have been questionable. “Do you see anything?”

Sirius sighed and sat down. He rested his chin on his hands and frowned. “How long has my face been like this?”

“Like what?

“Don’t mess around, Prongs! You know! I’m… pretty.” He shuddered. “What happened to the roguish good looks?”

“Padfoot, you are, and I say this with love, an idiot. You look exactly the same as you always have.”

“So that’s supposed to make me feel better? I’ve always looked like a girl?”

James rubbed his temples. Talking to Sirius when he was in a mood such as this could be trying on one’s patience—and sanity. “Sirius, do you—” Something caught James’ eye. “Do you know you’re not wearing any trousers?”

“What?” Sirius looked down. “Dammit! Now I’m pretty and I don’t wear pants. The transformation has begun.” He trudged sadly to his room, presumably to put on clothes appropriate for mourning his manhood.

Remus’ favorite day of any given month was the new moon. He was fortunate to be enjoying the second new moon of the month, and was wondering what to call it. Perhaps, he thought, if two full moons were blue, then two new moons were orange.

He was always up bright and early on new moons, and was usually one of the first to eat breakfast. Peter usually followed, but James and Sirius liked to sleep in as late as possible.

“So anyway,” said Peter, swallowing, “the Arrows really have a shot this year, after they beat the Wasps.”

Remus, who only followed Quidditch as closely as to know that James played it on occasion, tried to think of something to add to the conversation. “But what if the Wasps win? They’re certainly… um… waspish.”

“They won’t,” said Peter coolly. It was the same tone of voice that James used when someone suggested that Slytherin could win the Cup.

“Right then. Erm. Do continue.”

The chill in Peter’s voice disappeared as he continued to explain the finer points of each player, including the reserves. Remus turned his attention to his stack of waffles as a few words and phrases (“Seeker… but the reserve… the Keeper’s bum…”) entered his ears unbidden.

“Moony!” Remus heard a voice call. He turned to see James and Sirius approaching.

“Thank God,” he muttered, though Peter couldn’t hear him. As they drew closer, Remus said, “Wormtail was just explaining his support of the Applemere Arrows.”

“Appleby,” corrected Peter.


“Appleby? Not this year. Puddlemere all the way.” James took a seat next to Peter and loaded up his plate while debating Peter’s choice in Quidditch teams.

Sirius slid morosely into a seat next to Remus. “What’s wrong with you?” asked Remus.

“I’m beautiful,” Sirius replied glumly. When Remus was unable to respond, as most people would be in such a situation, Sirius continued, “And I’m the spitting image of my evil cousin. Who is a girl.

“You’re being ridiculous, you don’t look like a girl,” said Remus. “You look like… like… well, not a girl, anyway.”

“You are terrible at cheering people up, you know that? You’re worse than Prongs. I mean, look at her!” They both turned toward the Slytherin table, where Bellatrix was correcting her sister’s posture by force. “Scary, isn’t it?”

“Oh, come on, Padfoot,” said Peter, who’d torn away from his and James’ discussion. “You don’t look a thing like her.”

“She has bigger breasts, for one thing,” said James. “And… well, I’m sure there are other differences.” He and Peter chuckled.

“I’m going back to bed,” announced Sirius crossly.

“Wait, we’re sorry,” said James, trying to suppress a lingering smirk. “Look, if it bothers you that much, why don’t you just try being more masculine?”

“What do you mean?” said Sirius suspiciously.

“Cut your hair, maybe,” suggested Peter.

“Develop some muscle tone,” said James.

“Grow a beard,” added Remus.

“Remus, I take it back. You’re not worse than James.” Sirius, epitome of maturity, stuck his tongue out and left.

Sirius sulked for the rest of the day. James, who knew Sirius better than anyone, suggested that they just let him alone until he either came to his senses or got distracted by something shiny or dangerous. Sirius being Sirius, the three assumed that it would end up being the latter option, sense not factoring into their experiences with him.

The next day at breakfast he seemed to be in good enough spirits. He was humming, and had a smile on his face as he buttered his toast. This probably meant that Sirius was back to normal, for a given value of ‘normal’.

“’Morning, Padfoot,” said James cautiously. “Feeling better?”

“What do you mean? I feel great!” He took a bite of his toast. “R’lly gr’t!”

“Oh, that’s good. Possibly.”

“I took your advice. Well, Remus’ advice. I didn’t see where you had any right telling me to develop muscle tone.”

“What do you mean?” asked James.

“Well, you’re all skinny, and the other day Lily beat you up—”

“I mean,” said James, blushing, “what advice?”

“Oh. He said I should grow a beard, and look at this!” He jutted out his chin.

“What?” asked Remus.

“This!” He pointed at his own chin proudly. Remus dabbed at it uncertainly with a napkin. “No! The whiskers!”

James leaned in and squinted. “Ah, I see one. Or else it’s a blackhead.”

“Ah, you’re just jealous of my manly… machismo.” Just then, Peter took his seat across from Sirius. “Wormtail!” Sirius stuck out his chin again. “What do you think?”

Peter glanced at Sirius. “I’ve got a lotion back in the tower that’ll clear that right up,” he said uncertainly.

“Look, we’ll see who’s laughing when I have a handsome, luxurious beard that rivals Dumbled—oh, Merlin’s arse, what is that on Snape’s face?”

They turned to look at the Slytherin table. Snape had sat down, a goatee under his overlarge nose. “That’s disgusting! I can’t wear something that Snape’s wearing!”

“He didn’t have it yesterday,” said Remus. “It’s probably just a glamour, or a potion.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Sirius sadly. “He beat me to the masculine glory that is a beard.” He tapped his chin with his wand and muttered, “Raso.” A few wispy hairs fell to the table.

“I am trying to eat, you know,” said Peter.

“You’re always trying to eat,” snapped Sirius, but his heart wasn’t in it.

History of Magic seemed to drag on longer than usual. It was a mark of his mastery of the subject that Binns could make the Russo-Japanese Goblin War of 1904 seem boring. Remus read the paper during class, noting that the Arrows lost to the Wasps, 300 to 140.

Sirius had tried to mourn his masculinity some more, but his angst over his looks was wearing thin. By the time lunch rolled around, Remus’ sympathy for Sirius’ plight had run out. James’ and Peter’s had been drained dry not far after meeting Sirius that morning.

“I think I see what the real problem is,” Remus said finally, hoping that he was as brilliant as his marks indicated he might be.

“What’s that?”

“You’ve lost your touch.”

The look that Sirius gave Remus could be called doubtful, but it’d be wasting a perfect opportunity to use the word ‘incredulous’. “What?”

“Oh, I remember in fourth year, when you discovered girls. You were dating right and left. Your tongue was in so many foreign mouths that it had a passport. And then in fifth year, you started cutting back, picking girls by your more and more strict standards. And now… well, when’s the last time you had a date?”

“I went out with Emily Rigby just last month!”

“An entire month? Tsk tsk. The Sirius Black of the past wouldn’t stand for that.”

“Where do you get off telling me I don’t date?” snapped Sirius.

“This isn’t about me, is it? You’re the one without any confidence with women.”

Sirius’ eye twitched. “I’ll show you.” He marched into the Great Hall and grabbed the arm of the first girl he saw—in this case, a Slytherin named Victoria Ficus. “Do I turn you on?” he asked.

“Buh?” she asked eloquently.

“I’m going to kiss you now. And when I kiss someone, they stay kissed for some time.” He then proceeded to do just that.

“Buh?” she said again after they parted, this time with a broad smile on her face.

“Let’s go to Hogsmeade next weekend,” said Sirius. The girl nodded. “Thank you. See you later.” He returned to Remus. “Lost my touch. Pah. I can get girls, androgynous or no.”

“Oh, you certainly showed me,” said Remus. Another crisis averted. Well, not averted, so much as finally shut up. Now to find Peter before—




Well, not for Remus, obviously, but this is as far into the story as I’m taking you.

My thanks to Tori, who inspired this. Our conversation went something like this:

“Why do they always make Sirius look so girly?” “He probably was.” “Nuh-uh.” “Yeah-huh.” “Nuh-uh.” “Yeah-huh.” Et cetera, et cetera.

Also thanks to those who've taken the time to read this. So good for my ego, it is. Not that my ego needs much help, mind.

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