The Sugar Quill
Author: K-Chan  Story: Nox  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.

AN: This is for my lovely Beta, Lisa. Also for all my reviewers, thank you so much! Especially my brother, who gave me a great review for this fic. 'I was going to MST it, but to do that the fic has to suck.' Isn't he nice?

"This" is when someone casts a spell

"This" is when someone speaks

'This' is when something is written down

This is when someone is speaking

~~~ This ~~~ is a flashback.

"Lumos," Remus Lupin muttered as he held up his wand. A beam of light shot from the tip, and as he looked around the room, he fought to hold back the tears. He'd sworn that he wouldn't cry, he'd mourned the loss of his friend once before. Any more tears would be futile, he had to get on with his life. But going through this house, the former Black residence, was testing his resolve. He'd promised Harry that he'd help to clean it out, and that was what he was going to do. By Merlin, it was hard, though. Whenever he came across something that reminded him of his best friend, the tears threatened to fall again.

He was in the attic of No. 12 Grimmauld Place, trying to sort through the mess of objects that had accumulated. He was surprised to find that much of the stuff he recognised from Sirius' childhood. There... that was the broomstick the 13-year-old boy had wanted, and finally been given for Christmas. Over there, in the old wardrobe, were Sirius' old dress robes. And here... Remus had to bite down on his lip to keep from crying out... an old photo album, that Sirius had obviously hidden from his parents. It was filled with pictures of the four Marauders, from their time at Hogwarts, with scrawled messages written all over the paper not covered by photos. It had been their scrapbook, their memory-keeper. When the others first found his secret, they had all sworn on this book, sworn that the four would always be friends, no matter what happened. If only boyish oaths could be kept...

He carefully turned the pages, reliving the memories contained on the fragile paper. The figures waved at him, all smiling, all unaware of their futures. One in particular caught his eye. There were no humans to be seen. Instead, there was... a stag, a large black dog, and, perched on the stag's head, a small rat. Underneath was Sirius' messy writing: 'Told you you'd love us!' Remus smiled at that. Although they had made light of the work, he knew that becoming Animagi had been extremely difficult. It had caused quite a few arguments, with tempers stretched to breaking points due to the lack of sleep and endless research. They had all agreed though, once it was over, that it had been worth it.

~~~ "Remus, mate, you're going to love us."

Remus looked up from his homework, one eyebrow raised. "My dear Sirius, there is nothing in this world that could make me love you. Now go away and let me study."

Sirius looked suitably contrite for a grand total of five seconds, before the customary devillish grin was back. "Would you care to rephrase that statement in the form of a wager?"

Peter looked confused. "Sirius, what did you just say?"

Sirius grinned at his friend. "Basically... Bet?"

He was graced with a flat stare from Remus, before said werewolf returned to his studies. "Whatever it is, it can wait. I'm behind in Potions enough as it is, and you're not helping any."

James suddenly appeared at his side. "Are you coming, Remus?"

"Sod off, James. I'm busy."

The two black-haired devils glanced at each other, then at Remus, with an evil glint in their eyes. They waited until his quill was off the parchment before pouncing. Each of them grabbed an arm and a leg, and proceeded to carry a struggling and swearing Remus out of the Common Room and up to their dorm, where he was dumped unceremoniously on the bed.

He sat there, glaring. "This had better be worth it, or you're dead."

Peter came in then, a large grin on his face. "Coast's clear." Then the three boys grinned at Remus, who was looking very wary.

"The last time you three had something to show me," he said slowly, "It ended up being a picture of Snape in only his underwear."

"This is better. Trust us." James grinned.

"And the last time you said that, we all ended up with a week's worth of detentions."

James rolled his eyes, while the other two snickered at the memory.

"It was worth it," Peter commented.

Remus opened his mouth to say something, then found himself speechless. Where his three friends had stood moments before, there were now three animals... a stag, a dog, and a rat.

After a few seconds, they became human again, all with identical grins.

"Well?" Sirius asked. "What do you think? This was for your benefit, after all. This way, we can be with you during your transformations, and there'll be no danger to us."

Remus took a deep breath, then let it out slowly, letting the thought sink in. It all made sense now. The nights spent in the library, the secrecy around him... the silencing charm that Peter had been under for a month...

"You were right." He said as he looked at the three boys in front of him. "I do love you blokes." An evil glint then came into his eyes. "But I'm not sure that it was worth interrupting my Potions essay, becau-"

He was cut off by a pillow in the mouth, which started the biggest pillow fight yet. ~~~

He kept turning pages, knowing that he would be late for lunch, but not caring. This was all the contact he had left with Sirius, and with James, the unofficial ringleader. It was also how he wanted to remember Peter, not as a traitor, but instead as the quiet, shy boy that was always tagging along, ready to get into trouble with his friends. Oh Peter, Remus thought to himself, What changed? What made you turn away from us? He found a picture, then, just of Peter and James. The younger boy was laughing at something that the black-haired rascal had said. The laughter, though, didn't reach his eyes. They looked a little angry, and scared. Remus checked the date of the picture. He had made sure, when they started the book, to date all the photos. Sirius had called him an order-freak, but he'd done it anyway. He looked at the small numbers, and quickly worked it out. It was near the end of their seventh year. So... he was already starting to turn from them then.

The next picture saddened him again. It was of himself and Sirius. He was sitting in bed, reading, with Sirius curled up next to him, head in his friend's lap. He remembered the occasion well. It was just after they'd made up from the 'Snape Incident,' as they referred to it.

~~~ "Moony, I'm bored." Sirius complained as he flopped onto his friend's bed.

Remus rolled his eyes. "Padfoot, it's eleven at night. You're supposed to be sleeping."

"You're not," he pointed out, somewhat petulantly.

"That's because I'm trying to finish this book for Muggle Studies." Remus held up the book, which was promptly snatched for inspection.

"Oliver Twist? What's it about?" Sirius asked, cocking his head to one side.

"Well, it's about a young boy, an orphan called Oliver Twist, if you'll believe it, who's raised in a workhouse. The boys are treated really badly there, and they don't get much to eat, only a bowl of gruel thrice a day."

"Criminal! I wouldn't stand for it." Sirius exclaimed, his eyes flashing.

Remus grinned. If there was one thing that could always be counted on to distract his friend, it was a good story. And he seemed to have a particular weakness for stories when Remus told them. He patted the bed next to him, indicating that Sirius should sit there. The other boy crawled up to sit next to Remus, then curled up with his head in his friend's lap, settling in for a good story.

"Anyway, they're all half-starved. So one day, after he's finished his meal, the other boys force Oliver to go up and ask for some more food." He then told Sirius the whole story, in brief form, up to where he had been reading before the inturruption. He absently stroked the boy's hair, like he did to the dog that he turned into. When he finished the summary, Sirius was quiet for a while, and Remus thought that he was asleep, until he spoke again.

"Y'know, we're kinda like those boys."

Remus blinked. "What?"

"We, the Marauders, are like the orphans in the book. You're kinda like Oliver, trying to keep out of trouble, but not having much luck, cause James and I, who are like the Artful Dodger and Fagin, always pull you back into our clutches." He sounded sad, and Remus knew he was thinking about the Snape Incident and subsequent fight.

"You don't pull me back into your clutches, Paddy. I come back willingly."

After a moment of silence, Sirius grinned up at his friend. "Read me the rest?" Remus nodded, and opened the book again.

"Chapter XLVII: Fatal Consequences. It was nearly two hours before daybreak - that time which, in the autumn of the year, may truly be called the dead of night, when the streets are silent and deserted, when even sound appears to slumber..." It was after midnight when he eventually came to the end. "But, if the spirits of the dead ever come back to earth to visit spots hallowed by the love - the love beyond the grave - of those whom they knew in life, I believe that the shade of Agnes sometimes hovers round that solemn nook. I believe it none the less because that nook is in a church, and she was weak and erring." He closed the book and set it carefully on his bed-side table before looking down and Sirius. His friend was asleep, breathing gently, and displaying an innocence he never showed in waking hours. Remus smiled, and shifted his friend so that they were curled up together. He couldn't be bothered carrying Sirius to bed, and the extra warmth wouldn't go astray. He hadn't even realised until the next morning that James had woken in the night and taken a photograph of the two of them. ~~~~

Remus flipped a few pages, and found the one taken in the summer after their fifth year. They'd been exploring the caves near the new house where Remus and his parents had moved. All four of them were filthy, covered from head to toe in mud. Remus battled for a moment to distinguish between the four of them, until his common sense returned and helped him. The one on the far left, that was James. The glasses gave it away. That meant that the one next to him, pretending to strangle him, was Sirius. The shortest one was Peter, which meant that he was the one on the end, standing slightly apart, laughing at the antics of his two best friends. His parents had taken that picture.

~~~ "James, I don't think this is such a good idea..."

"Come on Peter, don't be such a wimp."

"I'm not a wimp!"

"So come on then!"

Remus rolled his eyes. "Stop teasing, Prongs. You know as well as us that we shouldn't be in here without a light."

"But if we go back for a light now, your parents will make us wait until tomorrow to explore, and I can't wait that long!" Sirius exclaimed. Remus laughed at him.

"Padfoot, you're bouncing around like a hyperactive were-cat on doxy-dust. Stop it."

All four laughed, though Sirius kept bouncing. "Can't stop, too excited. Gonna explore!"

"Child," Remus muttered under his breath.

"Well, my dear Marauders, I happen to have the answer to our problems." James grandly stated, reaching into his backpack. After a moment of digging around, he pulled out two medieval torches. Remus stared at them.

"Where were you keeping those? That bag can't be big enough to hold all the stuff you keep in there."

James grinned and wiggled his fingers at his friend. "Maaaaaagic!" Remus instantly regretted ever having told James about the Elenium trilogy. He had started acting like the child-goddess Aphrael, thief and prankster extraordinaire, for the sole reason of being annoying.

"That's all well and good, but how are we going to light them?"

Sirius pulled a Muggle cigarette lighter out of his pocket. "Using this!" He set fire to the torches, and handed one to James, keeping one for himself. "Come on, Moony, you're with me. Wormtail, you're with Prongs here." With that, he leapt off, leaving Remus to scramble after him.

They had fun, the two of them, exploring their passage of caves and tunnels. After an hour or two, they collapsed on a large rock in one of the caves. Remus grinned at his friend as he fixed the torch between two smaller rocks. He'd never tell Sirius, as it was too sentimental, but he'd always thought of the boy as his light in the darkness. Whenever things were bad, Sirius was always there to make things better. When he had nightmares, it was always Sirius who made it to his bed first, to wake him and hold him as he cried. When they'd been fighting, the nights had seemed so much darker, without his light to drive away the shadows. It had taken him too long to realise it, but as long as Sirius was in his life, there would always be light. ~~~

But no more, Remus thought sadly. Now that Sirius was gone, there would never again be a light to help him through the night. He stood slowly, holding the album to his chest. He would show it to Harry, to help him know his father better. He could hear Molly calling through the house for her assorted children and extended family to stop dawdling and come down to lunch. As he stepped out of the door, Remus turned to look around the room once more. His star was gone, and no amount of reminiscing could ever attempt to equal the bright light. Not since that day at the Ministry, when the light went out of his life forever. "Nox."

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