The Sugar Quill
Author: Julia Potter  Story: Occasionally You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too  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.

Disclaimers: All characters belong to the brilliant JK Rowling

Thanks to my beta-reader Zsenya

***

Remus Lupin put aside the book he was attempting to read in disgust. What was the point when all the words formed dancing ones and zeros? Distracted, he jumped to his feet and ran his sock-clad toes around the hearthrug's frayed edges. It would be nice to buy a new rug. His generous mouth curved into a humorless grin. It would be nice to buy a great many things.

Remus wasn't quite as destitute as his ancient robes led people to believe, but it was always a struggle for him to find work and the work he did find. . . People tended to equate poverty with powerlessness and Remus figured it was better if his employers thought of him as insignificant. Besides, Remus had learned as a child to ignore other peoples' opinions. He would rather spend his few Galleons on books, a decent bottle of wine, or warm socks than robes and hearthrugs.

Ten thousand Galleons

When he was little, Remus's mother badgered him about spending too much money. One of her biggest fears was that he would end up penniless, begging for food on the streets. She had gone about teaching him to be frugal with a vengeance. Most likely it gave her some small comfort to be able to do something to help him. Remus had taken her lessons to heart, especially after James and Lily died.

His thoughts wandered back to the letter he had received. It was now nothing more than a small pile of ash. Whoever had sent it had put a burn spell on it.

Dear Mr. Lupin:

It has recently come to our attention that you have been nominated to receive the Order of Merlin, First Class.

I do not wish you to believe that the Ministry does not recognize your efforts to defeat the Dark Lord. We do, and as a token of our appreciation, we would like to present you with a monetary gift of ten thousand Galleons.

Of course, since we are not awarding this gift to other recipients of the Order of Merlin, it would be inappropriate for us to offer both items to you. Taking into consideration your particular situation, the Ministry believes financial compensation is the most appropriate course of action.

Please owl us as soon as possible with your decision.

The letter had not been signed.

He would probably never know who was the driving force behind it.

Remus knew if Sirius or Harry, or any of the Weasleys were here they would be red with fury. They would demand that he send a howler back with his reply. Sirius would probably want to deliver it in person.

Remus told himself that his situation was different now. He would be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. Not too many wizards would challenge a personal friend of Lord Gryffindor (how Harry hated the title). He should send a howler.

The Order of Merlin was very shiny and pretty but it could not be eaten or burned for warmth. Remus rather liked the idea of a new hearthrug and mattress.

He remembered back nearly six years. In the Shrieking Shack he had reached out a hand to help Ron Weasley and the boy shrank away from him.

It still hurt.

He wondered if Ron even remembered it.

The first defeat of Voldemort hadn't improved his lot very much. Oh, that was somewhat his fault. Dumbledore wanted to tell his story to the newspapers, demand recognition from the Ministry for him, but Remus just wanted to be left alone with his pain.

Should he take the award, stand with his friends and become the first werewolf to be honored by the Ministry of Magic? It would send a powerful message to all the misfits and magical beasts.

Or should he remember the lesson he had learned too well as a child? Nobody wants to be close to a werewolf. Five years down the road would he still be teaching at Hogwarts? Everybody knew about him now, it would be hard to nibble at the edges of the magical world. Did he really want to hang on Harry's coattails, to hope Sirius didn't marry so he would have extra money to give him?

He couldn't abide that. Damn the Ministry's shiny babbles. He would take the money. He would think of something to tell the others and someday he would be glad of it.

FOUR DAYS LATER (Remus Lupin's office at Hogwarts)

Remus put away his quill when Minerva McGonagall came striding into the room.

"Hello, Minerva. Do you need something?"

She paced forward. "Has Hagrid been to see you?"

His face fell a bit. "No. I stopped by his cabin the other day, but he wasn't there. How is he doing?"

"I guess as well as can be expected," Minerva dropped into a chair across from Lupin. She looked every one of her eighty-three years and then some. "He's been back from France for over a week. Several," Minerva had to clear her throat just a bit before continuing, "of Madame Maxime's students got together a keepsake album for him. It was quite charming." She took a deep breath. Remus didn't say anything, just gave her the power to pace the conversation.

She dropped her bombshell. "Those Ministry bastards are not giving him the Order of Merlin."

Remus felt liked he'd been kicked in the stomach. "What! How do you know for sure?"

"Hagrid asked them about his invitation to the banquet, or rather lack of invitation. After several unanswered owls, and one reply that the banquet was last month, they finally gave him the pathetic excuse that since only a few Giants helped us it would not be appropriate for Hagrid to receive the Order of Merlin.

"There were at least six hundred in the final battle, not to mention the two families who took on the Death Eaters in Bulgaria!"

"Personally," McGonagall said in her most scathing voice, "I doubt the Ministry people behind this can count that high."

"Only a few of the Giants joined Voldemort. Do those imbecilic idiots have any idea that without Hagrid we may not have won the war?" Remus asked, his voice still tinged with disbelief.

"Remus, we shouldn't be surprised. There was even some whispers of dropping Hermione from the awards list because of her lack of proper magical ancestry."

"But surely they don't think the rest of us are going to sit still for this," Remus fumed. It's one thing offering me money, but to just step on Hagrid.

"Well, I guess they couldn't afford another five thousand Galleons for Hagrid," McGonagall said tartly.

"Ten," Remus corrected before thinking. McGonagall crossed her arms. "How did you know?" he said weakly.

"It wasn't exactly a stretch to imagine whoever did this to Hagrid would rather not sully the reputation of the precious, darling, pure Order of Merlin by giving one to you. I mean, for all we know it may cause you to transform right in the middle of Diagon Alley. Sirius thought that as a wizard who knows where their offices are they couldn't just ignore you. By the way, he wants to have a little talk with you."

Remus groaned. He was forty-two years old. How could she still make him feel like a first year?

"I haven't told you everything yet. They're not going to honor Olympia."

Remus Lupin was placid by nature, but this made his blood boil.

"I've spoken to everyone in the Order. Unless the award of Merlin First Class is given to all, we will refuse it, and that includes Harry and Anne Dumbledore. A couple of Ministry officials are just now prostrating themselves at the feet of a nineteen year old who has spent the last three hours playing Quidditch. Two officials were trying to hide writing implements so Anne cannot wright the Daily Prophet to explain exactly why she will not be accepting the Merlin First Class in her father's memory. They might even still be in the Great Hall. Dash up there if you want a laugh. Come to think of it, don't bother, Creevey's up there."

Remus had to smile at that. "Just whose idea do you think it was?"

"Arthur was just threatening to start an investigation to find out. I thought I would stop by and let you know what is going on, in case you want to talk to them about something," she tried to make her voice sound innocent. It wasn't very convincing.

"Minerva, I just wanted a little money. I know it wasn't the Gryffindor way, but I figured I'd been enough of a Gryffindor lately." He gave her his best sad puppy dog look.

"If Albus was here, he'd know what to say. He'd be sensitive and brilliant and funny. All I can do is to tell you to step upstairs this instant and tell those spineless cretins that you are a much better human then they could ever hope to be and that you are mortally insulted by their behavior and there is no way you are going to refuse the greatest honor of the wizarding world." She lowered her voice to the temperature of an arctic breeze. Remus doubted a Dementor could withstand it. "Have I made myself perfectly clear?"

Remus swallowed. "Yes ma'am."

ONE MONTH LATER: BANQUET HALL, MINISTRY OF MAGIC, LONDON

"Moony," Sirius Black looked out at a veritable sea of faces. "Did you ever think that this would happen?" They were standing in a little corner of the stage, behind the dark velvet curtain. Chaos ensued behind them. Molly Weasley was clucking over her brood (and giving Ginny and Harry hard looks for certain tardiness - he was going to have to have a little talk with Lord Gryffindor). The twins were plotting to blow something up. Percy looked like he wanted to kill them. Snape looked like he might be thinking about smiling. Hagrid had tied Fang to the wall. Nobody had told the Ministry officials that the rope had been secured with a Strengthening Charm. Arthur Weasley had buttonholed the Grangers and was no doubt mispronouncing the word 'electricity' to them.

"That we would both be dateless on a Saturday, yes."

"Speak of yourself, Moony. I've been past four notes tonight."

"That hardly the type of behavior you want to set for the kids," Remus reproved. He'd gotten six notes, but he decided to not mention it to Padfoot.

"I'm not going anywhere tonight. Harry wants us to take him out to . . . James and Lily's graves tomorrow. He's never seen them."

Remus opened his mouth but Sirius cut him off. "You're going. You've got to stop living your life in the shadows like to don't deserve to be happy. Turning down the Merlin, what were you thinking?"

"Of all the stuff I am going to buy."

Sirius did a double take. "You don't sound too disappointed."

"Padfoot," he smiled his Marauder's grin. "I didn't give the money back."

"WAY TO GO, REMUS!!!"

//
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