The Sugar Quill
Author: Grace has Victory (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Moons of Deceit  Chapter: 1 Truth under a Waxing Moon
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Moons of Deceit

Part I of
The Moon-Cursers

Grace has Victory

To the wonderful SPIDERWORT,
because she made this story happen.


1. J. K. Rowling owns the Potterverse. And she has made a lot of money out of it. I don’t own anything. And I haven’t made any money at all.

2. Thanks to my alpha readers, Robert (age 12), Julia (age 9) and Benjamin (age 7) for encouraging me to write, even though they hated some of the parts about bodily mutilation and weeping werewolves.

3. Huge thanks to my beta reader, Spiderwort, who told me in a single sentence what was wrong with the first draft, hence enabling me to fix thirteen chapters at once. She also fixed the typos, the unclear or clumsy sentences and the obscure British expressions that might mystify an American reader… everything, really, from the Romance to the Latin.

4. Further thanks to my gamma readers, Phoenix and Shiiki, who helped me prepare the second edition for the post-HBP universe.


Truth under a Waxing Moon

Saturday 30 October 1982

Kincarden Croft (unplottable, but easily located in Inverness-shire).

Rated G for references to playing house.

He first saw the girl framed in a window seat, her brow furrowed over the parchment in her lap. He would have known she was a MacDougal, for her slender frame, milky complexion and cloudy dark hair all shouted her Pictish ancestry. But he knew anyway, for the family had mentioned that their daughter would be home from Hogwarts for the weekend. She had arrived yesterday evening, but he had been too busy around the farm to notice her.

“Good evening, Miss MacDougal. I’m afraid I must ask you to move away from your seat.”

She slid to the floor with an obliging smile. “Good evening. I’m thinking you’d be the new farmhand. Remus Lupin, is it not? Can I help you with anything?”

“At the moment, I am only measuring.” Remus pulled a tape from his pocket and threw one end to the far corner, where it stuck. He drew the other end across the wall, past the window recess where she had been sitting, and into the opposite corner. A red number flashed into the air, quivered uncertainly, then vanished. “As I thought,” he said. “This room is still of unstable dimensions from the last time it was Transfigured. It doesn’t know its own size. Miss MacDougal, I don’t suppose you know the history of the spells cast on this room?”

“Unfortunately I do not. But I’m thinking that nobody has tried to change its size for at least ten years. Are you saying that it’s never been changed back to its natural size since then? Surely it’s not safe to leave an old Transfiguration spell in place for so long.”

“Yes, they do degrade over time – but that appears to be what’s happened here. We can convert it back, of course, but we’d better look out for the furniture. Have you any idea what size the room should be?”

“Only a little smaller than it is now,” she told him. “If we moved the furniture to the centre, so that nothing is touching the walls… Is that how it’s done?”

With a swish of his wand, Remus moved all the unfixed items in the room to hover around a point in the centre and a foot above the floor. “But that was the easy part,” he admitted. “The curtains – the pictures – the lamps – ” he moved around the room, charming each item off the walls as he spoke. “And the carpet… Can I ask you to put yourself back in the window…?” He jumped up after her. “Now we should be safe to undo the old spell – I’m sorry I keep asking you to move, Miss MacDougal.”

“It’s no trouble. I’m only sorry that I cannot do magic outside school and help you.”

Finite Incantatem!” Remus waved his wand at the four corners, and the whole room shuddered. The walls groaned; the corners blinked; the stonework sprang like rubber – and suddenly each wall had moved forward a couple of feet. The room was definitely smaller and quite still.

“Now,” he said, bringing out the tape again, “your mother wants this room enlarged to roughly twice as wide and three and a half times as long. Just a moment, while I do the sum…”

“Are you wanting parchment?” She moved towards a writing desk against the long wall.

“No, it’s just a simple Transfiguration problem. Dilato!

Miss MacDougal took a second to recover her balance. Where there had been solid walls, there suddenly were none. They had all moved outwards, so that the furniture was now clustered around them in the middle of an otherwise bare hall. “You make it look so easy,” she said. “Did you change the size of the whole house, or only the inside?”

“Only the inside of this room is enlarged. The outside should be the same size as it always was. Do you think your mother wants the furniture moved back to the new walls?”

“She does, and I can help you with that. I’m expecting she’ll want more chairs to arrange in groups around the room. Can you conjure those?”

“I can, but there’s no point in doing it before tomorrow.”

As they began to push back the furniture and replace wall-hangings, Miss MacDougal asked, “Will you be working here for long, Mr Lupin?”

“As long as I can.” He saw her looking at him and knew he needed to change the subject quickly. “You’re at Hogwarts, aren’t you? Why aren’t you at school now?”

“I was meant to be,” she said, “but my parents were needing help preparing for this party. My mother was relying on my sister-in-law, but she’s having a bad pregnancy – she’s really not well enough to do much. And they cannot afford to hire help on top of all the catering expenses. So Professor McGonagall gave me permission to come home for the weekend.”

“And you’ve been in the kitchen all day?” She nodded. “That’s a valiant exchange. You’re missing out on Hallowe’en at Hogwarts – and perhaps a trip to Hogsmeade too? – to help your parents with their affairs.”

“This party is important to them,” she said. “It’s the first anniversary of You-Know-Who’s downfall. After so many years of confusion, they’re wanting to remind themselves that we’re finally safe. And to reaffirm that they do trust their old friends.”

“How many guests are they expecting?”

“Forty or fifty. Mainly family, a few longstanding friends… I think we’ve finished, Mr Lupin. I should… continue my homework… or I’ll lose all credibility with Professor McGonagall…”

She sounded so reluctant that, on an impulse, he said, “Show me.”

She silently took a parchment from the desk and showed him a standard sixth-year Transfiguration problem, shrinking a very large mammal into a very small one. On a second sheet, she had made several attempts at diagramming the change, but all were hopelessly confused. “I cannot draw it out properly,” she said sadly. “My mind always seems to lose the beginning of the vector before it reaches the end.”

He thought that was a very good description of why her calculations were not working. Most people had trouble calculating the geometry of a Transfiguration. Not wanting to admit that he had already worked out the answer, he carefully suggested, “It seems to me that you’re trying to draw on a flat parchment what can only be portrayed in three dimensions. Unless you’re as good as Professor McGonagall, your polygons will end up looking like a bowl of spaghetti. Here, draw it in the air.” He conjured a three-dimensional model of the starting dimensions, each vertex glowing red. “You have the angles? Each time you move a vertex, code the new position in blue…”

He had been going to add that she should write down the numbers as she went, and he would move the vectors as she calculated them, but he could see that she had already latched on to how his model worked. He suspended the model over the desk, while she moved corners, lengthened lines and wrote figures. Finally the new shape had been correctly formed, and the entire model glowed blue.

“That’s it! If I reshape each energy parcel according to these figures, the elephant will become a mouse.” Her face was flooded with relief. “Thank you so much, Mr Lupin. This is the first time all term that Advanced Transfiguration has made sense to me. I’m hardly daring to ask you…”

“Ask what?”

“Why you’re not a teacher.”

“I would like to teach.” He tried to sound neutral. Teaching was the one vocation that had always fascinated him, the career in which his interest could not fade, of which the usefulness could not be questioned, over even the longest lifetime. But teaching was not an option for him, so he refused to dwell on it. Instead he asked her, “What would you like to do with your life, Miss MacDougal?”

She was not to be deflected. “I’m thinking it’s – let’s say – a sort of Advanced Transfiguration to be wishing to teach but to settle for farming. What brings you here, to do the heavy labour on somebody else’s farm, when your talents so obviously lie elsewhere?”

Fortunately, he did not have to answer, because at that moment Mrs MacDougal entered the room. As slim and softly-spoken as her daughter, she glanced around the lofty hall that Remus had just created and smiled graciously. “Oh, well done, Remus. I had not imagined that anybody in our household would have the talent to conduct such a huge Transfiguration so efficiently. Thank you so much. I’m very, very impressed. By the way, William has been asking if you can help him in the cow-byre.”

This was the nearest Bethoc MacDougal ever came to giving a direct order to anyone. Making his way to the door, Remus heard his employer speaking to her daughter.

“Ariadne, dear, we’re needing another batch of raspberry fool in the kitchen. Did you finish your homework yet?”

Remus knew very well that she had not finished. When he heard an obedient murmur to the effect that the raspberries would be attended to immediately, he wondered if Miss MacDougal would ever be allowed to complete her studies in peace.

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