The Sugar Quill
Author: Jedi Boadicea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Dog Stars and Desires  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.

NOTE:  This is sort of a sequel to “Reflections of Truth.” I really do suggest reading that first. I wrote this because so many people wanted to know what Sirius saw in the Mirror of Erised. I see young Sirius as having a lot more layers than he often gets credit for. This was my attempt at showing that. (Looking back on this story, I find that I no longer imagine the Astronomy tower in the MWPP day as quite so extraordinary, but I can’t dismantle it without dismantling the whole story, so ah well. J ) This story takes place in late March of sixth year.




                                                            DOG STARS AND DESIRES

                                                                                              By Jedi Boadicea



            “I have an idea.”

            Remus looked up from his History of Magic essay to see Sirius plop down into a seat across the little table, face alight with an excited smile. Next to Remus, James snapped his book abruptly closed and leaned eagerly forward.

            “What is it?” James asked.

            Remus, put the quill down.” Sirius waved at him irritably.

            “I can listen while I write, Sirius.”

            “Yes, but I’m going to need your help for this.”

            Remus frowned, having no doubt whatsoever what kind of idea Sirius had come up with, and equally certain that whatever help was required of him would keep him from his homework for a long time. And probably land him in detention besides. But Sirius gave him one of those innocent, pleading looks that fooled absolutely no one, and which no one could ever withstand.

            Remus sighed and set down his quill.

            “Great.” Sirius grinned, and leaned toward them over the table, lowering his voice so that they wouldn’t be heard over the regular evening chatter filling the Gryffindor common room. “Now here it is. Tonight, we’re going to sneak up to the Astronomy tower, and magically re-align the telescopes.”

            “To what purpose?” Remus asked calmly, thinking cold practicality might deflate some of Sirius’s wicked enthusiasm.

            But Sirius just grinned wider. “I got a peek at Professor Sinistra’s lesson plans last week. Seems that tomorrow we’re going to be studying Orion and its neighboring constellations.”

            Remus thought about it for a moment, then heaved a defeated sigh as understanding struck him. James caught on immediately. He grinned, and shook his head in admiration. “You’re mad, you know. They’ll know exactly who did it.”

            “Of course they will!” Sirius exclaimed excitedly. “That’s the whole point, isn’t it?”

            Remus tried hard not to smile. “They’d guess who it was anyway. We don’t exactly have the cleanest of records.”

            “Aw, you’re still respectable, Moony.” James clapped him on the shoulder. “You don’t get caught nearly as often as me and Sirius.”

            “So obviously, I’m going to need you both to help me,” Sirius said. “Go get your brooms ready now, so we won’t make a racket when we’re leaving.”

            “Brooms?” Remus and James both echoed, eyebrows raised.

            “Yes, brooms, you dolts!” Sirius gave them an exasperated look. “We’ll have to rearrange the projection crystals at the top of the tower, won’t we? We’re going to need brooms to get up there.”

            Though this suggestion made Remus blanch a bit, James’s eyes lit up with fresh excitement. James was always excited about any chance to fly.

            “Peter won’t be able to manage complicated flying like that, you know,” Remus pointed out. 

            “I know.” Sirius waved it off easily. “That’s why we need him to be look-out. Where is Peter, anyway?”

            James pointed across the room, to where Lily and Peter were tucked away at a corner table with a book and rolls of parchment. Peter had his head in his hands, hair sticking up in tufts between his fingers, and Lily was murmuring something soothingly to him.

            Sirius’s expression softened. “Is he having problems with Divination again?”

            James nodded. “And Lily’s got more patience than all of us put together. Not to mention the skill.”

            Sirius frowned. “It’s such a stupid class anyway. I wish Professor Trelawney would lay off him for a while. All those nasty predictions are giving him nightmares.” Then, as though he realized he was speaking more kindly than his usual wont, Sirius grimaced and added, “I can’t get any sleep at night, with all his tossing about! We should sneak stinkweed into Trelawney’s incense supply, that’s what we should do.”

            Remus, who had picked up his quill again while Sirius wasn’t looking, spoke without looking up from his essay. “Let’s keep it to one prank a night, shall we? We have to sleep sometime.”

            James chuckled. “Some things are worth losing sleep over.”

            Remus!” Sirius growled. “Put down the quill, you bloody git! You work too much.”

            Remus ignored the comment and continued writing, but he shook his head as he did so. “I don’t see any reason to pick on Professor Sinistra like this. She’s a perfectly decent teacher, and she’s still nervous because she’s new.”

            “It’s not like we’re doing anything to her.” Sirius waved his concerns off yet again. “It’s just the telescopes. She’ll be able to fix them.” He smiled slyly. “Eventually. Now come on, let’s go get Peter and get ready.”






            Making their way to the astronomy tower without being seen was a simple task for anyone who knew all of Hogwarts’ hallways as well as they did. They didn’t even need to use the Invisibility Cloak, though James brought it along just in case; it wasn’t unusual that they would accidentally draw unwanted attention and be forced to beat a hasty retreat under the Cloak’s folds. Though that might be harder to manage this time, considering everyone except for Peter had their broomsticks along. Peter, for his part, was grateful that he wasn’t going to be asked to do any tricky flying. Watching Quidditch was about as close as he liked to get to dangerous maneuvers on a broomstick, unlike James or Sirius, who thrived on that kind of risk. Remus was a decent enough flyer, but he’d never loved it as much as James and Sirius. He only hoped that Sirius didn’t get it into his head to try anything crazy - well, crazier - than they were already doing.

            They made it to the tower, and Sirius opened the door easily with an Alohomora charm. The inside of the astronomy projection room, used in the chilly winter months, was sparsely furnished and immaculately clean, with only a few tables against the walls for books, and a dozen magical telescopes in the center.

            “Okay, Moony, you’ve always been the best at astronomy.” Sirius waved cheerfully at the telescopes. “Go ahead and get them going.”

            “I’ll open the roof,” James said, and hurried over to a panel of levers on the wall. 

            Remus sighed, then shrugged and stepped over to the nearest telescope. He took a focusing crystal from the compartment on the stand and inserted it into the appropriate niche on the top of the telescope. The crystal began to glow faintly.

            James flipped the largest lever on the panel, and with a soft hissing noise the ceiling evaporated, revealing a clear glass dome above them. It was a cloudless night, and the stars shone brightly in the dark sky. The shadowy shape of a small structure at the top of the dome could be seen.

            “All right.” Sirius grinned, all but rubbing his hands together in anticipation. “Let’s see where the professor’s got these things focused. Remus?”

            Remus turned the crystal in the telescope to the right, and its glow took on a bluish tinge. The structure on top of the glass dome above them began to glow a similar hue. Then a small beam of light shot out of the telescope, and a globe filled with white mist popped into being in the air beside it, at the perfect height to be closely examined. The mist faded away, and the inside of the globe seemed now to be filled with stars. As they watched, some of the stars in the globe grew fainter, and others brighter, and soon the constellation of Orion shone very clearly in the center of the globe. Little red lines connected all the stars to reveal the shape, and then the image began to rotate, showing the stars’ positions in three dimensions.

            “There we are.” Sirius grinned. “Orion. So we just have to shift the projection crystals a little bit to get them focused on Canis Major.”

            “Let’s get all the telescopes started first,” James suggested, with an eager grin of his own.

            The four of them split up and started all the telescopes, and soon the room was full of little globes, all of them showing the same image of stars.

            “I don’t know about this,” Peter said, biting his lower lip as he struggled to fit the crystal into the last telescope. “Shouldn’t there be a way to change the projection crystals from inside the tower? That’s how the professor does it. Why do you have to go out there to do it?” He waved vaguely at the dome above them.

            Sirius gave him a good-natured smack. “Because, you dolt, we don’t know how to work the professor’s controls!”

            “Besides,” James jumped in, “this way’s more fun.”

            “Don’t worry about it, Wormtail.” Sirius reached into his robes and took out their Map. “Just stay in here and keep an eye on this. If you see someone coming toward the tower, shoot up a few sparks and we’ll come down.”

            “Don’t shout,” Remus reminded him. The last time they’d left Peter as look-out, he’d got flustered at the approach of Professor McGonagall, and shouted out a warning that she’d heard just as clearly as they had. They hadn’t been caught that night, but she’d confronted them in class the next day and assigned them all detention. Remus felt certain that, somewhere in her gut, Professor McGonagall knew that the hundreds of detentions she’d given them in the past six years hadn’t served as any sort of deterrent, but she stubbornly continued to assign them anyway, never one to be lenient. Remus couldn’t help but admire her determination. She’d put Sirius firmly in his place the last time he’d acted up in her lesson, and there weren’t very many people who could shut Sirius up when he was on a roll.

            “I won’t shout,” Peter said, a bit sulkily. He took the Map and plopped himself down in a chair facing the door. “Just hurry up, will you? I want to get some sleep tonight.”

            “We’ll be out of here with plenty of time to sleep,” Sirius assured him cheerfully, then picked up his broom and grinned at James and Remus. “Shall we, gentlemen?”

            “By all means, old chap.” James grinned in return, and flung open one of the shuttered windows.

            Sirius tossed James his broom from across the room. James caught it one handed and leapt out of the window in the same motion. He plummeted out of sight, and Remus could just imagine him swinging the broom around, catching it with his leg, and swooping up in an impressive loop. He’d seen Prongs perform similar tricks so many times that it almost lost its shock value. Almost. As it was, Remus anxiously held his breath until James appeared again in the window, sitting calmly astride his broom, his wind-mussed black hair sticking out in all directions.

            “Well, are you coming?”

            Sirius snorted. “Show off.” He gripped his broom, took a running start at the window, and dove out head first. James just managed to avoid Sirius’ one handed swipe at his head, then zoomed down, laughing, to follow Padfoot’s descent.

            Remus shook his head and muttered, “Show off.” He and Peter exchanged exasperated looks. 

            “They’re going to get themselves killed some day,” Peter said seriously. “I know it.”

            Remus tried not to frown in concern at his friend’s tone. Peter had been acting strangely for the last few weeks, more somber and withdrawn than usual. He was never the most outgoing of the foursome, but he at least appreciated a good joke. Lately, though, he’d seemed preoccupied. Remus was convinced it had something to do with the mirror they’d found those months ago, but Peter refused to talk about it.

            Well, there was nothing to be done about it at the moment. Remus shrugged, and gave a wry smile. “They probably will. See you in a bit, Wormtail.”

            He climbed onto the window ledge, trying not to look down the very long, very sheer drop to the ground far below. He made sure he was safely astride his broom before stepping off into the air.

            A black-haired streak with a flashing grin zoomed by him. “Come on, Moony, let’s go to the moon!”

Remus watched Sirius shoot straight past him, and up into the sky, as though he had every intention of being true to his words.

            James flew around the tower and drifted in beside Remus, who rolled his eyes. “He’s going to wake up the whole castle if he keeps shouting like that.”

            “Just give him a minute,” James said with an indulgent smile. “He’ll calm down.”  

            Sure enough, Sirius came zooming back down to them, still grinning madly, but a bit more contained. “All right. Let’s get to it, then. Come on, Head Boy, we’ll need your brilliant mind for this.”

            “Of course you will,” James quipped, and they flew up to the top of the tower together.

James and Sirius easily kept their brooms at a steady hover a few feet above the glass dome ceiling, but Remus had a harder time with it. The last thing he wanted to do was dip down too far and shatter the glass. Sirius noticed his hesitation, and gave another wide grin.

            “Don’t worry about being cautious. The glass is spelled - it won’t break. See?” He leaned precariously far off his broom and knocked his fist hard against the glass dome.

            Through the glass they heard Peter give a muffled shout of surprise, followed by the clatter of a toppling chair. James burst into laughter, and Sirius looked sheepish. “Sorry, Wormtail!” he called out, then shrugged at Remus’s amused expression. “See, no problem.”

            “Obviously,” Remus said dryly.

            James maneuvered his broom to hover right over the cluster of crystals at the very top of the dome. They were glowing faintly blue, just like the crystals in the telescopes below. Remus knew that these projection crystals were capturing the stars’ image, and sending it magically to those in the telescopes, which projected the image globes for detailed observation. They hadn’t ever studied crystals of this sort in a lesson, not even in the extra Magical Minerals and Spell Components class he’d taken last term. But Remus knew that if anyone could figure out how to do something like this, it would be James and Sirius.

            James pulled his wand, eager as always to tackle something new. “Let’s get started.”

            Remus wasn’t sure exactly how long they spent out there, hovering over the dome or making small laps of frustration, but it was long enough to leave his muscles feeling cramped from keeping an awkward seat on his broom. Finally, James put Sirius’ claim of unbreakable glass to the test, and clambered off his broom to take a seat on the dome next to the crystals. It held his weight, and eventually Sirius and Remus both joined him. They huddled over the projection crystals, faces lit by the eerie blue glow, and waved wands and theories about.

            “Just rearrange them -”

            “No, you have to keep them in the pattern -”

            “What pattern?”

            “The patt -”

            “There’s no pattern.”

            “Wouldn’t there be a magnification charm involved?”

            “But how are we going to readjust it if there is?”

            “I still think there’s a pattern.”

            “Maybe if you just tried a Sorting Charm and ordered them to focus on Canis Major-”

            “On Sirius.”

            “We know, Padfoot, but we should start basic, with the constellation.”

            “Maybe if you angle this one-”

            “If you move that it-”



            “I guess that wasn’t the way to do it.”

            “Clearly not.”

            “Try calculating the alignment of-”

            “The vector -”

            “The rotation of the zodiac-”

            Somehow, eventually, they managed a combination of spells and shuffling that satisfied James, who gave a small smile and nodded. 

            “I think that did it.”

            “You’re sure?” Sirius asked.

            “Only one way to find out.” James got carefully to his feet on the curved glass and mounted his broom again. “I’ll go down and see if the projection’s changed. You two stay up here in case we need to make some more adjustments.”

            James flew down, and Remus and Sirius found as comfortable a seat as they could on the slippery glass, sitting with the crystals between them, brooms tucked safely beneath their legs. Remus rubbed at his arms, wishing he’d worn something warmer. It was chilly out here, high up in the night breezes. Sirius however, as usual, seemed unaffected by the cold. He gazed up at the stars with a half-smile on his face, the wind in his dark hair.

            “I can’t believe I let you drag me into this,” Remus said, trying to keep his voice stern.

            “I know you too well to indulge comments like that, Moony. You love this as much as we do.”

            “Well. I wouldn’t go so far.”

            Sirius chuckled. “All right, maybe not as much. But pretty close.”

            There was silence for a few moments, while they each stared up at the night sky full of stars and moonlight. Remus knew, without even having to look at it directly, that the moon was ten days shy of full. He knew it in his blood.

            As though Sirius had picked up on his thoughts, he asked abruptly, “Can you still just watch the moon, Remus? Or has it lost its beauty for you?”

            Remus gave him a sideways glance, a bit surprised to see a solemn expression on his friend’s normally jovial face. He had been about to make a pithy remark about Sirius’s being unusually poetic, but changed his mind after seeing that expression. Instead he looked away, eyes locked on the dark shadow of the Forbidden Forest in the distance. Then he slowly lifted his gaze again, to the sky, to the moon.

“I watch the moon,” he said softly. “Sometimes I’ll watch it for hours. There are days when I think I hate it, hate the way it calls to me. It’s like I have tides in my blood, always pulling on me. But the moon has never lost its beauty. It has a terrible beauty.” He stopped, measured his breath, and let the silence sink deep before saying, “I’d like to see a full moon again. The only time I fully succumb to it is the one time I can’t appreciate it.”

            “Hmmm,” Sirius hummed thoughtfully. “I don’t know, Moony. I think that’s a bit more irony than I could handle in your place.” He glanced over and flashed a smile.

            Remus smiled back. Somehow Sirius always knew the right words to soothe him. “You’re bad enough as a dog, Padfoot. I shudder to think of what you’d be like as a werewolf.”

            “I can still take you down in a fight.”

            Remus snorted.

            Sirius grinned. “You and me, Moony, we’re the dogs in our little pack.” He tilted his head back and pointed up at the sky. “There’s Sirius, in Canis Major. That’s me. There’s Canis Major, and there’s Canis Minor.”

            “I’m guessing I’m Minor, then.”

            “Of course.”


            Canis Major, Canis Minor. The hunting dogs of Orion.”

            “So who’s Orion, then?”

            Sirius scrunched up his face and struck an exaggeratedly thoughtful pose. “Well, I guess that would have to be James. I’d hardly call Peter a hunter.”

            “Stags are usually the hunted, not the hunters.”

            “Good point. We’ll just call him a lady hunter, then, shall we?”

            “I don’t know. The only lady he’s ever really hunted is Lily.”

            “And that’s the only one that matters.”

            Remus shot Sirius a quick glance, surprised once again to see an unusually somber look on his face. Judging from the sudden tightness in Padfoot’s jaw, Remus wondered if he’d intended to let that last comment slip. He looked away again, and had every intention of letting it go by unremarked, when Sirius spoke once more, in a low voice.

            “Do you remember that mirror we found?”

            Remus kept his gaze on the stars. “Yes.”

            “You didn’t look into it. Do you think you really know what you would have seen?”

            “I know.”

            There was a brief pause, and then Sirius said, “I lied. About what I saw.”

            Remus said nothing. He remembered what Sirius had told them - something about getting a spot on the national Quidditch team, and traveling through wild lands hunting down dragons and dangerous creatures. Something that sounded very much like Sirius and his wild dreams. But he’d lied. Remus was wise enough not to ask why. He kept his silence, and let Sirius speak at his own pace.

            “It was stupid of me to lie, really.” Sirius gave a dismissive little shrug, but he was frowning deeply. “I could have told you. I was just... surprised, I think. Because when I looked in the mirror, the first thing I saw was James and Lily.”

            Remus frowned, puzzled. “James and Lily?”

            “I know, it didn’t make any sense at first. And then I saw... this scene. Christmas time. James and Lily in a home of their own... and we all showed up, and it was like a family. And all I could think about was this feeling... like I really envied James. Like I really wanted what he had.”

            Remus hesitated for a moment, then finally asked softly, “Lily?”


            He looked over at Sirius again, and met his friend’s troubled dark eyes. “Do you love her?”

            Sirius didn’t even blink. “Maybe.” A moment passed, and he looked away. “But I don’t really think so. I think... I think I love the idea of Lily. Does that make any sense? I see James, and I see how much he loves her, and I see how much she loves him. They love each other, and when they’re together it just fills the air. It’s like they complete each other. I want to feel complete like that.” He drew a deep breath. “It’s hard sometimes. Our world is hard. Voldemort killed James’ father. My mother died years ago because of Dark magic. People are being killed and dying every day. You think about things like that, and everything starts to seem so fragile. Really precious. You lot are my family, Moony. But James and Lily... I want what they have, too. Something precious.” He glanced at Remus, then his somber expression crumbled into embarrassment and he looked away again, scrubbing a hand through his black hair. “I know. Sounds rather odd coming from me, doesn’t it?”

            “No, Sirius,” Remus said quietly. “No it doesn’t. I understand.”

            Silence stretched between them again, a comfortable silence, as they both gazed up at the brilliant stars. Then Sirius leaned forward and rested his chin on his arms, crossed over his updrawn knees.

            “We’re not going to be at Hogwarts forever, Moony. Things are going to change.”

            Remus sighed. He’d been thinking the same thing lately. There would be no more trips to the Shrieking Shack, no more midnight escapades. No more easy choices. “I know.”

            “I don’t know what kind of life we can expect, with Voldemort out there. But I know one thing. I want my life to have meaning. I don’t want to end up locked away in some safe place, unable to do anything, unable to make a difference. We have to go out there and make a difference, Remus.” He grinned suddenly. “We have to wreak some havoc on the world.”

            Remus couldn’t help but smile; Sirius’s grins were always infectious. “Padfoot, it’s your nature to wreak havoc. Never fear. I’m sure you’ll cause an uproar.”

            “Why thank you, my fine four-footed friend. I’ll expect you to be there at my side, helping.”

            “I already told you, I’m going to teach. There’s not much potential for wreaking havoc in teaching.”

            “Are you joking? Look at Professor Kettleburn! He almost lost a leg in the last Care of Magical Creatures class! Now there’s a man who knows how to wreak some havoc!”

            There was a whoosh of air, and suddenly James was hovering beside them on his broom, smiling broadly. “It worked! All of the telescopes are projecting Canis Major. Now just pull the central crystal out with a magnification charm, and we should have a focus on Sirius.”

            Sirius grinned and drew his wand. “No problem.”

            James turned his broom and sped down again, back into the tower. Remus watched as Sirius realigned the central focus crystal and cast the magnification charm. Then his grin widened, he got a mischievous gleam in his eye, and he cast a Locking Charm to freeze the crystal in place.

            Remus raised his eyebrows. “That’s going to take quite some work to break.”

            “I know,” Sirius replied cheerfully. “I’m going to lock all the telescope crystals in place, too. They’re going to be stuck looking at my star for a very long time.”

            Remus shook his head. “You do know how much detention you’re going to get for this, don’t you?”

            “It’s worth it. I’m signing my work, Moony! I’ll go to my detention content as long as I get credit for my art!”

            The task done, they mounted their brooms and flew back down to the window, but not before Sirius did a few speedy laps around the tower just for the thrill of it. When they clambered back through the window, they saw that every image globe was focused on one, brightly glowing, blue star. The focus was wide enough to make out the rest of Canis Major, but Sirius glowed brighter than all the other stars in the design.

            “Nice star,” Peter said, with a half-wry smile.

            “I agree,” Sirius stated with a pleased nod. “And now we can get to bed and get some sleep, as dear Wormtail suggested.”

            James grinned, and clapped a hand on Sirius’ shoulder. “Mischief managed,” he said proudly. “This was a good one, Padfoot. I’ll be seeing you in detention.”

            Sirius flung his arm around James’ shoulders as they left the projection room. “What? Prefect Potter in detention? You haven’t had a detention all year, Potter. They like you too much now. No, I’ll have Peter to keep me company in detention.”

            “What?” Peter squeaked.

            “It’ll be great fun, Wormtail! We might even get to clean out the dungeons again. Won’t that be a treat!

            Peter groaned. James laughed. Sirius grinned. And Remus just shook his head, smiling in spite of himself, and still thinking of everything Sirius had said at the top of the tower. He hoped, somehow, that his friend would find his heart’s desires. He deserved it. They all did.





            It took until lunch the next day before they heard the first word about what had been done in the astronomy tower; they were just leaving the Great Hall when Lily all but stalked up to them. She ignored James’s bright smile and cocked her hands on her hips, the light flashing dangerously off her Prefect badge.

            “What did you do this time?” she demanded.

            James tried to look surprised, but Sirius’ instant grin foiled the deception.

            “What have you heard?” Sirius asked eagerly.

            Lily gave an aggrieved sigh. “Not much. I just overheard Professor Sinistra talking to Professor McGonagall, saying that the telescopes had been tampered with. She also said something about Sirius.” She fixed the person in question with a withering look.

            “Well, you know,” Sirius began in a pedantic tone of voice, “there is a star called Sirius, and seeing as Professor Sinistra is the Astronomy teacher -”

            “Sirius.” Lily’s tone put an end to that line of excuses.

            James wrapped an arm around Lily’s waist and kissed her on the cheek, turning the famous Potter charm on to the maximum. “You should have been there, Lily. It was great.”

            Lily sighed again. She looked like she wanted to stay angry at them, but she seemed to melt into James’ embrace against her will, and the smile they all loved flickered across her pretty face. “You’re all incorrigible, you know that.”

            Sirius nodded enthusiastically. “That’s why you love us.”

            James arched his eyebrows. “Us?”

            “James, of course. Though honestly, Lily, I think you could do better.” Sirius reached over and pulled Remus to the fore. “Now good olRemus here is a much better choice than some dumb Quidditch player. Remus has got brains, and looks, and a spectacular animal personality tha-oomph!”

            Remus had long since learned that sometimes an elbow to the gut was the only thing to shut Sirius up.  

            James chuckled at the sight of Sirius trying to catch his breath, and Lily laughed one of her musical laughs. And then Peter gave a little squeak of warning, and they all turned to see Professor McGonagall stalking toward them, her lips set in a grim line.

            Lily deftly disentangled herself from James’ arms and gave him a bright smile. “Well, I’ll leave you to clean up your own mess. See you later in the common room, if you don’t all have detention!”

            “Why does it always have to be McGonagall?” Peter groaned under his breath. “We’ll be in the dungeons for a week!”

            Sirius clapped him on the shoulder. “Courage, my friend!”

            “Well,” McGonagall huffed as she came to a halt in front of them, crossing her arms and glaring at them through her square-lensed glasses. “Must I even waste time with accusations?”

            “Whatever are you talking about, Professor?” Sirius asked in a high-pitched, innocent tone.

            McGonagall’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Fortunately, Professor Sinistra thought to check the telescopes before the class convened tonight. Your handiwork was for nothing, Mr. Black.”

            Sirius grinned. “You’d be surprised how word gets around.”

            Remus groaned under his breath. Trust Sirius to always make things worse than they already were. And he privately suspected, besides, that it would be quite some time before Professor Sinistra would be able to undo all the locking spells Sirius had put on those telescopes. No matter how much trouble he caused, none of the teachers could deny that Sirius Black was one of the most talented students at Hogwarts. Remus thought James might have had a bit of competition for his top of the class honors, if Sirius had been at all interested in such distinctions.

            Professor McGonagall now swept her angry gaze over the rest of them, and finally rested on James. “I would have expected better of you, Potter.”

            Before anyone could reply, Sirius jumped in again, and now his tone had lost all of its humor. “He had nothing to do with it, professor. No one else did. It was all my own work.” The grin came back. “I don’t want anyone else getting credit. My work, my star, my credit.”

            Your star, is it?” McGonagall’s eyes were narrowing to mere slits.

            Remus felt like warning Sirius to give it a rest, but knew it would be foolish. If he was determined in taking the fall for all of them, there would be nothing any of them could do to dissuade him. They might only make the situation worse. Simply typical.

            “Yes, professor. My star,” Sirius answered cheerfully.

            “Well then, you won’t be disappointed when I assign you your detention. You are to report to the Gamekeeper this evening, and he will give you instructions on collecting special herbs tonight. In the Forbidden Forest.”

            It was very clear that she meant this to be quite a frightening experience, as far as detentions went. To anyone else, it very well might have been. The Forbidden Forest certainly had a terrible reputation. But she couldn’t have assigned it to anyone who would fear it less.

            Remus was honestly impressed by his friend’s acting ability in that moment. Sirius put on a believably horrified expression, and stammered, “The...F-Forbidden Forest? But Professor-”

            Remus was very glad that McGonagall didn’t seem to see James shaking with silent laughter, or hear Peter’s muffled snort behind them.

            McGonagall interrupted Sirius’s protests firmly. “And thirty points from Gryffindor. Feel fortunate that you’re getting off so easy, Mr. Black. Try another stunt like this and I will not be so lenient.” Then she turned and stalked away, strands of black hair wisping out of her tight bun with the ferocity of her angry steps.

            James sounded like he was going to choke on his own suppressed laughter.

            Sirius just turned to them, calm as anything, and said, “So I guess this means we’re going to have some fun tonight.”

            Remus shook his head. “Without me, I’m afraid.”

            “Oh no,” James said. “Just because you won’t have fur doesn’t mean you’re not coming along. You’re skinny as a twig, Lupin old boy, from all that being sick. A stag will have no problem carrying you.”

            “I don’t know,” Peter said skeptically. “I don’t think we should risk getting caught so soon af-”

            Sirius clapped a hand firmly over Peter’s mouth. “Wormtail thinks it’s a splendid idea.”

            “So do I.” James nodded happily. “Besides, we’re not about to let you keep all the fun to yourself. Not when we all helped get you into this situation in the first place.”

            Remus smiled, letting himself be swept up by James’ enthusiasm, and he gave Sirius a daring look. “And I still owe you for making me fall down that pit last time.”

            James nodded. “You certainly do. You should feel ashamed of yourself, Padfoot, playing tricks on a poor defenseless werewolf like that.”

            Sirius rolled his eyes. “You’re a bad influence on him, Remus.” And he took a playful swipe at James’ head, which James easily ducked. Soon they were heading off down the hallway, back to the Gryffindor common room where the afternoon was bound to get progressively more interesting as the time approached for Sirius’ ill-fated detention. Remus trailed after Sirius and James, in step with Peter, and exchanged an amused look with his smaller friend when the two black-haired boys started getting particularly rowdy. As usual.

            “One of these days we’ll have to do something about them,” Remus said with a smile and a shake of the head.

            Peter just nodded. “One of these days.”

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