The Sugar Quill
Author: Jedi Boadicea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Entwined  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.

James: Times New Roman

Author’s Note: For this story I went with the ‘James as Chaser’ idea from the JKR chat instead of ‘James as Seeker’ from the movie. In the end, it really makes no difference, because it doesn’t change anything about him except a title. * I borrowed ‘Diversion Enchantments’ from Arabella and Zsenya - many thanks to them for the inspiration. * Also, this story does mesh with my other two MWPP stories, though I did have to adjust my own timeline (I went back through the other stories and altered where necessary, namely the year in which they are set; both “Reflections” and “Dog Stars” should take place in sixth year.). But it is in no way necessary to have read any of the other stories in order to read this.

 

This story begins in MWPP’s sixth year.

 

Thanks to Elanor Gamgee for the beta-read and encouragement.

 

And special thanks to Zeptron Zulu, for the art to inspire and reward me. She knows where she is in this story. J

 

 

 

                                                                                                ENTWINED

 

March 16th

 

Sirius Black had expected to learn and experience many new things when he came to Hogwarts. He had expected to play Quidditch, to excel at some of his classes and fail at others, to be in Gryffindor as his family had been for generations. He had expected to make friends.

But looking back on those youthful expectations now, he realized he could never have hoped to predict what he would actually find. The boy he had been could never have truly imagined how events would change him, nor foreseen the lessons he would learn - about magic, about life. About friendship.

The sky beyond the hospital wing window was thick with coming night, indigo and black chasing the red sunset to the horizon. The dark surface of the lake rippled as something, probably the Giant Squid, moved just beneath the surface. And reflected on the water was the bright moon. Even distorted by movement, Sirius had only to glance at the reflection to know that the moon was a day past full. He had learned to calculate the fullness of the moon on sight with perfect precision, and that was one thing he had not learned in a classroom.

Of course, even without the moon in sight, he would have known that tonight was one night after the full moon. He would have known it by the sounds coming from the bed behind him.

            Remus didn’t like company after the full moon. They all knew it. Even after he had allowed them to share in the full moon night itself - to see him as the wolf, to share in his most hated secret - he still could not share the hours which followed afterward. He never really explained why, though all of them thought they knew.

            He wanted to weather out the hurt - and the self-loathing - in private, where he wouldn’t have to wear a strong face about it.

            But this time they weren’t going to let him do it. They weren’t going to let him sit here and blame himself for what had happened.

No. For what had almost happened.

            If anyone was going to take the blame for last night, Sirius thought grimly, it was going to be him. Not Moony.

            Sirius turned away from the window, arms crossed in preparation for a defiant stance. He glanced at the bundle of shadowed sheets on the hospital bed that was Remus, then quickly glanced away, grimacing awkwardly. Remus hadn’t spoken a word to any of them since they’d walked into the hospital wing almost an hour ago, and his very silence said more clearly than words that he wanted them to leave.

            But he wasn’t completely quiet anymore. And that was harder to hear than the silence.

            Sirius shifted his gaze to Peter, who was seated on the next bed over, his shoulders hunched and his feet barely brushing the floor. He gazed off into a shadowy corner with an uncomfortable expression on his face.

            James was standing on the other side of Moony’s bed, leaning back against the wall with his arms folded, a pensive frown just visible through the tangle of his black fringe. But he seemed, as always, to sense when Sirius looked at him, and raised his head to meet his friend’s eyes.

            That glance was all Sirius needed to know that James was, as usual, sharing his thoughts. After all, they had come up here for a reason. They’d known that Remus wouldn’t want to see them. They’d suspected he might treat them to this kind of silence. But they had come anyway, because they couldn’t just stay comfortably in the Gryffindor common room knowing what Remus was no doubt doing to himself up in the hospital wing.

            Sirius drew himself up, arms still defiantly crossed. “It’s my fault,” he said, and almost winced to hear how his voice echoed down the empty hospital wing.

            Peter looked up at him, giving him a warning glare. And he was right, of course. The last thing they needed was to get caught now by Madam Pomfrey.

            Sirius lowered his voice to a hoarse whisper. “It’s my fault,” he reiterated firmly. “I was the one who wanted to leave the Forest. It was my dumb idea. You didn’t have any choice in the matter, Moony. You were just following us.”

            He waited, holding his breath… but the bundle of sheets didn’t move. Nor did Remus speak. There was another hitch in his rasping breathing, and then nothing.

            Sirius clenched his teeth on an exasperated sigh, and met James’ glance again. He was certain that Prongs was just as frustrated by this as he was, but the bastard had that typical calm and thoughtful expression of his on his face, as if he were just thinking through the snags on a new Quidditch technique.

            “He’s right,” James said quietly, his voice low and steady. “And it wasn’t just him. I went along with it too. It was our fault. Blame us, Remus.”

            They were answered only by what sounded like a muffled sob.

            Sirius winced. God, how Moony must hate them right now.  He knew that he certainly would not have wanted to be overheard at a vulnerable moment like this.

            But damn it, they couldn’t just leave. They wouldn’t just leave. Not until they made Remus acknowledge that it wasn’t his fault.

            “Look,” Sirius took a step toward the bed, and made a few futile and violent gestures with his hands, though he knew Remus couldn’t see them; he had to release the tension somehow. “In the end, no one got hurt. The kids got away, and we made it back to the Forest. No one got hurt, Moony.” He stopped himself just short of adding wryly, except for us.  Remus certainly did not need to be reminded that he’d torn at his friends in the struggle to get him back into the Forest. It was a good thing that they’d learned all those medical charms over the last two years.

            James levered himself away from the wall, and turned to gaze steadily down at the occupied bed. “It won’t happen again. I won’t let it.”

            There was a soft brushing sound as Peter scraped the tip of his toe over the floor, his shoulders hunching even more deeply. “Or me,” he muttered. “I’ll bite you all in the ass if you try something like that again.”

            Sirius stifled a snort and the urge to retaliate with a rude comment.

            James gave Peter a sidelong grin.

            Remus shifted under the sheets, and a pale hand emerged to rub against his face, still hidden in the pillow. “No.” His voice was little more than a whisper, and it cracked as he spoke. “It wasn’t your fault.”

            “Oh come off it!” Sirius snapped, ignoring the quelling look James was shooting him. “Yes it was! Blame us, damn you.”

            Remus snarled. The sheets exploded into movement.

            “Fine!” he rasped. With a jerk he propelled himself upright, and flung his pillow at Sirius with so much force that it burst a seam as it hit Sirius’ hands. “It is your fault! What the hell were you thinking? Go into Hogsmeade? You have no idea… absolutely no idea…”

            “Of what?” James asked grimly. “Of what it would be like if you managed to bite someone?”

            Remus visibly flinched, froze for a moment in an expression of revulsion, and then dropped his face against his knees.

            “Well you’re right,” James went on relentlessly, his eyes bright behind his glasses. “We don’t know what that would be like for you. That’s why we made a bad choice.”

“A really bad choice,” Sirius muttered, mentally kicking himself for having ever set one paw beyond the Forest.

“And it won’t happen again.”

Remus said nothing, only wrapped his arms tightly around his knees.

Sirius sighed, and shrugged when James shot him a frustrated look.

“You didn’t bite anyone,” Peter said softly then, his eyes on the floor between his feet. “So it’s sort of stupid to blame yourself for someone else’s mistake, isn’t it? You can’t help what you are, and you didn’t… I mean….” Peter hunched down even further, visibly chagrined, and his glance darted anxiously between Sirius and James, as though seeking guidance. “I mean… in the end, everything’s all right. You…you blame yourself for too much already, Moony, when… when…. when most of the time it’s Sirius’ fault.”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Thanks a lot, Wormtail.” But he couldn’t help giving his small friend a weak grin. At least he was trying. And he was right, besides.

            Remus made a garbled sort of sound that sounded almost like stifled laughter.

            Sirius turned to him eagerly, hoping to see that their efforts had finally paid off, that Moony would join them in the joke and shake off all this self-hatred…but his heart sank. Remus’ shoulders were shaking, but he could tell that it wasn’t with laughter. His face was still pressed firmly into his knees, and he had his hands clutched in his hair in white-knuckled fists.

            James turned his face away, and stared through half-closed eyes at the wall.

            Sirius closed his eyes completely, and forced himself to keep silent.

            But as the sound of Moony’s barely contained sobs filled the quiet air, he decided that keeping silent was probably the crueler thing to do.

            “I’m a git, Remus.” It wasn’t the most eloquent plea to make, but it was all he could think of. “A total moron. We…. We can go. We can leave you alone.”

            But Remus seemed unable to answer them.

            And none of them moved to leave.

            They kept their places, as if frozen there by some unbreakable charm, each of them staring off into a different shadowy corner, each of them intensely aware of the others’ presence.

            And then, after what seemed like an eternity, Remus stilled. He slowly dropped his hands from his head and gripped his knees instead, his breathing hoarse.

            Sirius could only imagine what he was thinking. He had never seen Remus break down like this. He wondered if maybe coming here hadn’t been a mistake. He wondered if Remus would ever forgive them for it.

            No one spoke. No one moved. But as the sound of Moony’s breathing returned to normal, Sirius could feel the air around them grow warmer, somehow. Of course it was probably only his imagination… but it was there.

            For the next hour, the silence between the four of them felt like a tangible thing, like strands entwined, binding them together in a way that fumbling words never could.

And when the three anxious friends finally left the hospital wing and its lone patient behind them, they knew that they had been forgiven, and that all was as it should be once again.

 

 

 

                                                                                                            ~*~*~*~

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 1st

Dear Lily,

 

I hope your summer has been absolutely brilliant so far. Personally, I’m beginning to think that summer is a great waste of valuable time, time which could be far better spent in advance study for N.E.W.T.s - preferably in a secluded broom closet somewhere, as I’m sure Sirius would say. That bastard. The last thing he told me when we left King’s Cross was that he’s willing to bet his Nimbus 1500 that they make me Head Boy next year, and if they do he promises he will make my life living hell. When I pointed out that he doesn’t even own a Nimbus 1500 yet, he got a bit shirty, I have to say. I said that being mates with him was already a living hell, and he’d have to think of something better. I confess I’m beginning to regret that statement. The glint in his eyes as he left the station was not at all comforting.

 

However, I would be willing to bet my quite tangible Nimbus 1500 that you, Miss Evans, will very certainly be made Head Girl for next term. Which I think is quite a marvelous state of affairs, as you can then make sure that we are always let off easy after being caught releasing animated Cockroach Clusters in the Slytherin girls’ toilet.

 

I miss you.

 

-James 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 1st

 

Dear James,

 

My whole first evening and morning of summer holiday have been lovely, thank you for asking. I would have responded to you last night when Ganymede brought your letter, but Mum prepared a big fancy supper, and she made me stay at the table almost all night telling them about all the new spells we’ve learned. Sometimes I think she wishes she were a witch too, the way she’s so fascinated by even the simplest Charm. But I imagine I would be the same way if it had been Petunia who got the invitation to Hogwarts rather than myself. Though I’m sure she wouldn’t have gone, even if she had been invited. She hates it when I talk about Hogwarts. Sometimes it makes me sad, because I really think it’s me she hates. And then sometimes it makes me angry, because she shouldn’t hate me. She’s my sister! But this is far too gloomy a topic for the first letter of summer.

 

Sometimes, James Potter, you are really spectacularly stupid, and you simply ask for trouble. You have been Sirius Black’s friend for years, and yet you’re still too thick to refrain from baiting him. If I didn’t know that you enjoy it so much, I would think you were thicker than Davey Gudgeon.

 

It would be a real honor if they asked me to be Head Girl. Mum and Dad would be so proud, and I admit I would be proud too. I remember I was so scared, my first year, that I would never learn how to be a proper witch. And it would be nice, wouldn’t it, if a Muggle-born witch or wizard was given that distinction? You know that I don’t want to antagonize anyone, or make an example that would cause more pain and trouble, but even so.... I would be proud to be that person.

 

But this is even a more depressing topic than talking about Petunia. Do say hello to your mother from me. And remind Remus that he promised to write me about Astronomy - he’s the only one of you from whom I can get a decent conversation.

 

Be careful with yourself.

 

With love,

Lily

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 2nd

 

My Dear Lily,

 

If it weren’t a terribly unsporting thing to do, I would give Petunia a sound and thorough Cursing for treating you poorly. Perhaps if I had your permission first I would feel like less of a heel about it. Should I?

 

Of course, this is assuming that I shall be permitted to see you this summer. It has now been two days since holiday began, and I am most distressed that I haven’t yet received an invitation to the Evans home. Do they think I’m not good enough for you? I don’t suppose I could convince them with a display of Quidditch prowess? Or a Confundus Charm?

 

But I am, as you know, an impatient bloke. I am therefore issuing a formal invitation of my own:

 

My Dear Miss Evans, I would be most honored if you would consent to visit me at Rosewood, home to generations of Potter wizards and generally one of the dullest places in England. I promise to do my best to entertain you, and mother would be delighted to see you. I only wish you could have come when my father was here.

 

And I must say that I’m surprised to hear you calling Davey Gudgeon ‘thick.’ Wasn’t it you who told Sirius that if he insulted ‘poor Davey’ one more time you were going to Hex him?

 

I haven’t heard from Remus yet, but he usually sulks for the first week of holiday. You know how moody he gets. But we decided that we’re not going to let him mope the days away this time. Next week is the full moon, and if we can’t be there with him then we’re going to do whatever we can to make his life miserable in other ways. When I write him I’ll be sure to let him know that you demand an Astronomy lecture. I think you’re both ill.

 

You know how proud I would be if they made you Head Girl. You’ve worked harder than anyone else I know, and you deserve every shred of recognition. And besides, I think it would be a good smack in the face for all those Slytherins.

 

Did you see the paper this morning? Do you still have a subscription to the Prophet at home? I’ll have Ganymede bring you my paper if you don’t. There was another attack last night. I...

 

I don’t want to talk about this in a letter. I’ve half a mind to Floo to London and find one of those telephones so that I can talk to you.

 

Reply as quickly as humanly possible, or I will become quite depressed.

 

Yours,

James

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 3rd

Dear James,

 

You know that I would love to visit. But I do think it would be prudent for you to visit here first - my parents do want to meet you. And actually, I think Dad would be very impressed by stories of your Quidditch prowess. He’s a great fan of football, and while Mum is always asking questions about Charms, Dad asks questions about Quidditch. It’s strange, in a way, to come home to a world where Quidditch is an oddity. It’s hard to believe that my life has changed so completely in only six years. I can’t imagine life without Quidditch now... and I imagine you find it hard to understand what I mean. You’ve never had to make the transition between two worlds like that. It’s an amazing transition to make, it really is. I think it’s beautiful.

 

I don’t understand why some people can consider it wrong. I don’t understand how they could kill because of it. I wanted to understand, once. I wanted to know why, to try to figure it out, to make some sense of it all. I think I wanted to justify it, somehow. I don’t know if I even want to understand anymore, James. I just want it to end. I wish I could have met your father, too.

 

I’m sorry to be so morose today. I do still get the Prophet, and I read about the attacks. I’ve decided to hide the paper from my parents this summer. I know that may be wrong of me, but they don’t need to know this. They would only be frightened and worried and they might try to make me stay away from Hogwarts next term. I can’t do that. Hogwarts is my life now - and that’s something I need to tell them soon. After we leave school, I’m going to make the transition to the wizarding world complete. I need it now. It’s who I am. That’s going to be a hard conversation to have, and I’m not looking forward to it. I can just hear what Petunia’s going to have to say about it. (I should warn you that if you do come to visit, Petunia is not going to be very nice to you.)

 

You know perfectly well why I threatened to hex Sirius if he didn’t stop harassing Davey Gudgeon. Making private jokes is one thing. Seeing him accidentally trip at the dinner table and then asking him if he lost his good eye in the Christmas Pudding and would he please mind not setting everyone off their appetites in future is another thing entirely. Sirius knows exactly what I think of that kind of behavior, and he knows what will happen to him, so don’t you bother interfering.

 

I’m glad that you’re looking after Remus. You are the best friends he could ever have hoped for, and I admire you all for what you’ve done for him. Though I still wish you would have told me about it earlier. I could have helped with your Animagus research. But you did quite fine on your own, didn’t you? Honestly, James, I think Sirius might be right - I would not be surprised if they asked you to be Head Boy. You’re quite smart enough, though you know how I hate to worsen your already inflated head. And besides that, I think the teachers, and Dumbledore, know they can trust you. Which is quite ironic, really, considering how often you’ve tried bringing the whole castle down around their ears. But they will need a Head Boy they can trust next year. We can’t pretend that the school doesn’t need such things as badly as the rest of the world these days.

 

I miss you awfully.

 

With love,

Lily

 

 

 

 

                                           July 3rd

Sirius,

 

I have tickets to the League Quarter Finals - Wanderers versus the Wasps. So be sure that you have your sorry ass here by the 15th. You can stay for the rest of the summer, too, if that’s all right with your Aunt. But if Lily comes to visit I expect you to make yourself scarce.

 

~James

 

P.S. If Ganymede comes back in any way altered from his natural state, you’ll regret it. Pursue your quarrels like a man and leave the owl out of it this time.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 4th

Potter -

 

My Aunt will be glad to get rid of me. She’ll deny it, of course, but I think that throwing the gnome through her parlor window instead of over the hedge yesterday successfully snapped her final nerve. She believed me when I said it was an accident, but swears that nothing can be done to repair the old flying carpet the little bugger managed to eat half of before we got him out of there. Not that it’s much of a loss, mind you - that carpet hasn’t done anything but hover and spit threads for at least twenty years.

 

So yes, I’ll be there on the 15th. And I will make every effort not to mock you in public whilst Lily visits. Are you going to invite Moony and Wormtail to visit before September? Don’t forget to write Moony. I’m wondering if I should send him a Howler telling him not to mope all summer.

 

The Wasps are going to crush the Wanderers, no doubt about it. Did you see the results of yesterday’s game against the Bats? Absolutely brutal. Sixteen goals! Sorriest excuse for a Keeper I’ve ever heard of. Even you could do better than that.

 

-Sirius

 

P.S. Did I ever tell you that you are the most arrogant bastard I have ever known? I still cannot believe you named your bloody owl Ganymede. And rest assured that I will leave the owl out of it from now on. It’s not his fault he has an absolute git for an owner. (Notice I did not say ‘master’ much less ‘god.’) 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 4th

Remus,

 

I thought you might be interested in knowing that I’ve been doing research lately into enchanting objects with sentience, and I think I’ve come up with a clever way to make the Map ‘talk.’ As soon as I work it out a bit more, I’ll send it on to you for the Lupin stamp of approval.

 

For now, I’m sending on a package of Fizzing Whizzbees, so that you can use them every time you start to feel down on yourself. You’ll notice I’ve included one for every day of the week.

 

~James

 

P.S. Lily asked me to remind you to write to her about Astronomy. I am growing increasingly convinced that you are using Love Potions on my girlfriend. Is it going to have to come to a duel?

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 4th

 

Peter,

 

Don’t forget to write to Remus, and to keep me informed on what he says. Remember the bet was for two weeks. Personally I think you’re being quite stupid. I KNOW that Remus will threaten to kill Sirius in less than two weeks. You have too low an opinion of Sirius’ ability to antagonize people.

 

Two weeks. Ten Galleons. And a box of Sugar Quills.

 

~James

 

 

                                           July 4th

 

Dear Lily,

 

I would be quite willing to endure Petunia’s displeasure if it means getting to see you again. When can I come? Will you really come here afterward? For how long?

 

I just heard some news from my mother this morning. She heard from a friend of hers (Elsa McKinnon, she works in the M.L.E.S.) that Bartemius Crouch has decided to temporarily lift the restrictions on underage sorcery. It hasn’t been officially announced yet, but I imagine you’ll see it in the Prophet within the next few days. I guess the Improper Use of Magic Office was being overloaded, sending out warnings for all sorts of people trying to put wards up around their homes. I imagine most of them were Muggle-born. I always thought it was pointless of them to start teaching us about wards early in our studies if we can’t use them when we leave school on holiday. Promise me something Lily - promise me that you’ll put up every ward you can think of. In fact, ask your parents if I can visit as soon as possible, and I’ll come over and put some wards up too.

 

But that’s not the only reason I mentioned this. You’re probably wondering what’s in the pouch. Well, inside the pouch is enough Echo Powder to last you about a week. I know it won’t work in your fireplace, but Sirius and I modified this particular batch a few months ago. Just conjure up any wizard flame (you can do it now without worrying about being expelled, isn’t that nice?) and put the Powder in that. It will only be enough to carry your voice, but this way I can talk to you. (I didn’t pay nearly enough attention in Muggle Studies to know how to use a telephone properly, I’m afraid. You don’t want to hear about what happened yesterday in London.)

 

I’ll be at my fireplace all night tonight. Please use it.

 

Yours,

James

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 5th

 

Sirius,

 

I’m at a loss. I don’t know how to thank you sufficiently for your thoughtful concerns. But rest assured that I am not, as you so quaintly put it, ‘Moping around with my head up my ass.’ I am, at the moment, merely thankful that there are no neighbors in the immediate vicinity.

 

If you ever send me a Howler again, Black, you will sorely regret it.

 

Your slightly deaf friend,

Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 5th

 

James,

 

You know quite well that I have never been much good at potions. If you’re concerned about this, you should look to Sirius, as I seem to recall him mentioning something about making a trip down Knockturn Alley sometime this summer. May he rot there.

 

What enchantments have you been researching? It might be possible to enchant the Map so that it would respond to more than one command. What did you have in mind?

 

Thank you for the Fizzing Whizzbees. You do know they give me indigestion, don’t you?

 

-Remus

           

 

 

                                                                                      July 5th

 

Moony,

 

I talked to James last night. Has he told you about the underage sorcery restrictions being lifted? I’m tempted to send Bartemius Crouch a thank you gift. He has no idea what he’s unleashed. We are going to get a lot of work done this summer.

 

By the way, James and I decided something last night. He’s supposed to visit Lily sometime soon (Can you believe it? He is completely lost), and as soon as he knows where she lives, he and I are going to sneak back one night and set up extra wards around her house. Lily’s a smart girl and there’s no doubt she’ll set some up herself, but we want to be extra sure. He doesn’t want to upset her too much, so we’ll take care of it quietly. You need to find a way to come with us, Remus. We need you for this. Don’t mention it to Peter, though. He’ll want to come and help, but it would be better if he stays behind. The last thing we need is to be spotted. Lily might get startled and hex us out the window, and I do not want to be on the wrong end of an Evans curse. I’ve had bad experiences with it.

 

You’d better not be moping still. And if you’ve already started advance reading on next term’s set books, I will see that you suffer for it.

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 5th

Peter,

 

James let slip about your bet. I can’t believe you two were wagering on my death. Some people are simply callous.

 

You owe Prongs ten Galleons, I believe - I’ve already managed to work Moony into a froth. But you can send that box of Sugar Quills to me. Those two bastards just don’t appreciate good sweets like you and I do.

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 5th

Dear James,

 

I kept Ganymede overnight because he looked quite tired. You’ve been overworking him, I think.

 

It was wonderful to talk to you last night. I don’t really have much more to say, not after that lengthy conversation. Except that it feels strange to go down to breakfast in the morning and not see you there.

 

With love,

Lily

 

 

                                                                                      July 6th

 

Remus,

 

I spoke with Sirius and explained my new ideas for the Map. He seemed to think they would work, and told me to talk to ‘the Professor’ about them. I’m assuming he meant you, as I’m certainly not about to bring it up with McGonagall.

 

It was Peter’s idea to make it so that the Map could give instructions that started me thinking. If we can enchant the Map with enough sentient memory to give instructions on opening the secret passages, how much harder could it be to enchant it with OUR sentient memory? I mean, think about it - if you were to find this Map, and learn how to use it somehow, and needed instructions on opening a secret door, wouldn’t you rather see it in Sirius’ colorful vocabulary? All right, maybe not. I wouldn’t either. But it could have other, better purposes. Right now, if someone doesn’t know the key words, then the Map simply won’t appear. It would be damn entertaining to make that refusal bit more interesting, don’t you think?

 

I’m sending you this book on Ensnaring Enchantments that I found in my father’s study. There are some spells in here which I think might work. What do you think?

 

~James

 

P.S. Sirius told me about the Howler. I don’t think you should let him get away with that. I just wanted you to be aware that I am available should you require any assistance.

 

 

 

                                           July 6th

Dear Lily,

 

I know you still have a few days’ worth of Powder left, but I went ahead and modified some more. This way you don’t need to worry about your supply running out. No need to worry about conservation. Am I being pathetically clear enough?

 

I will talk to you tonight.

 

I miss you.

 

Yours,

James

 

P.S. Feel free to keep Ganymede overnight again if the urge strikes you. I think he likes you better anyway, not that I blame him. And this way he’s spared having to deliver things to Sirius - I swear he starts to molt feathers right before my eyes at the mere sound of Sirius’ name.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 6th

Sirius,

 

I can’t believe he told you about the bet. No, wait, yes I can. He might at least have waited the two weeks, though. But knowing you, you probably beat it out of him somehow. No one can keep a secret with you around.

 

I think I’ll keep the Sugar Quills for myself.

 

Mum won’t stop bothering me about my marks. Please tell me we’re going to do something fun this holiday. I don’t want to be stuck alone here any longer.

 

-Peter

 

 

                                                                                                            July 6th

 

James,

 

You don’t really need ten extra Galleons. Besides, I think it’s only fair that you provide me with proof of a death threat before I have to hand any money over.

 

-Peter

 

 

                                                                                                            July 6th

 

Remus,

 

I think I’m going to need that Arithmancy help next term after all. I hate Arithmancy.

 

Sirius says he ‘worked you into a froth.’ What happened?

 

-Peter

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 7th

 

Dear Lily,

 

I hear I am supposed to write to you about Astronomy. As you are quite talented at Astronomy yourself, I doubt there is much I could tell you that you don’t already know. However, I can tell you that I was successful in acquiring the Fwooper eggshells you were hoping for. (It was an interesting experience, exchanging Muggle money at the bank. Are you certain I can keep one of these ‘notes’? Also, the eggshells were not nearly as expensive as we’d feared, so I’m sending along the extra in wizard coin.)

 

I hope the color pattern on the shell is satisfactory. Most of what they had was pink and orange, but I managed to find this green one at the bottom of the tray. I hope the piece is large enough to work with.

 

I feel it my duty to say that you’re spoiling James terribly, and he’s quite spoiled enough as it is. But I do think he’ll be honored. If he doesn’t act suitably honored, in fact, I will berate him soundly for you. My pleasure.

 

It’s convenient (among other things) that they’re lifting the underage sorcery restrictions, as you’ll be able to use a few handy spells now to help you with your project. At least you’ll be taking advantage of it in a productive manner, whereas Sirius is already plotting evil doing. (He could use a good cursing right about now, Lily.)

 

Be watchful.

 

-Remus

 

 

                                                                                                            July 8th

 

Dear Remus,

 

Thank you so much for getting the eggshells for me - this green is absolutely perfect! And yes, I probably am spoiling James. But I can’t help it. And I imagine that you don’t want to hear me going on about him, so I won’t. But if he doesn’t act honored, then I give you permission to soundly berate him, or curse him, or whatever it is you four do when there’s dissension in the ranks.

 

Of course you can keep the notes. I’m always amused by the wizard fascination with all things Muggle. I like wizard coin so much better. It has a weight to it that the notes don’t have. And I guess it… just means something to me.

 

 I’m a bit surprised by the lifting on underage restrictions, honestly. I never would have imagined Crouch authorizing such a thing. I guess that attack on the Farrows really shocked everyone. The very first day of holiday. Everything just gets worse and worse, doesn’t it?

 

I hope you’re feeling well. From what James tells me, they all sound rather determined in making your life miserable this summer. But I’m sure you’ll give as good as you get.

 

Thank you again for the eggshells. I owe you.

 

Fondly,

Lily

 

 

                                                                                                            July 8th

 

Dear James,

 

I spoke to my parents after our conversation last night, and they think it would be lovely if you could come to visit this next weekend. I haven’t quite convinced them about letting me stay at Rosewood for the last few weeks of summer, but give me time. I’ll work on Mum a bit, and I’m sure I can make them see reason. You might ask your mother to write them - I think that would help.

 

With love,

Lily

 

P.S. Remus is asking me to curse Sirius. What exactly has been going on? It seems that every time there’s a lack of other people to torment, you all turn upon each other.

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 9th

Peter,

 

I would be glad to help you with Arithmancy. It would help me to have someone to do revisions with, actually.

 

What did Sirius do? He exists. Does it require more of an explanation?

 

The truth is that I think he’s getting restless with his Aunt. I don’t think he’s happy there. It’s been years now, but I don’t think he’s ever grown quite comfortable with it. I know he’s going to stay with James for the rest of the summer, and I think that will be good for both of them. I can tell that Prongs isn’t dealing very well with his father’s death, and he needs someone right now who will understand.

 

You don’t sound too happy either, Wormtail. What a sorry lot we all are.

 

Your ‘moping’ friend,

Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 9th

Wormtail,

 

Your marks are perfectly fine. Don’t let the old bag tell you otherwise. And don’t bother berating me for insulting your mother - I’m only repeating your own words.

 

But you’re absolutely right - we need to do something interesting this holiday. Now that the underage restrictions have been lifted, we can really have some fun. James and I have been talking about improvements on the Map. And I think that a trip to Zonko’s is in order - we’re low on supplies.

 

Let us know if it gets really bad over there and we’ll come rescue you. Or set the house on fire. Whichever works more effectively.

 

I can see you twitching over there. I’m just kidding. You know I’d never set your house on fire.

 

-Padfoot

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 9th

Moony,

 

You haven’t forgiven me for the Howler yet, have you? I would almost feel guilty about sending it, if I didn’t know that you were in fact moping - don’t try to deny it - and therefore deserved every howl and shriek.

 

I know you’re perfectly capable of giving me the silent treatment, but look at it this way: if you won’t talk to me willingly, you know that I’ll only find other ways of getting your attention, and the longer you ignore me, the more creative I’ll become. It’s in your best interest to talk to me, or Howlers will be the least of your worries.

 

I’ve been thinking about the full moon next week, and I really think that Padfoot could sneak onto your property without your parents noticing. If nothing else, I can hang around outside the shed, and we can yip yap away the hours. Prongs is just too damn conspicuous with that shining white coat of his to sneak in anywhere (someone has a complex, I’m telling you), but Wormtail could come with me just fine. So do me a favor and just consider it, all right?

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 9th

Git.

 

I waited all night by the fireplace like a dutiful friend, and your head did not deign to make an appearance. There I was, prepared to roast a few apples in that ridiculous hair of yours, and yet… no Potter.

 

I’m going to make a wild leap and guess that you were talking with Lily and my very existence had completely slipped your mind.

 

Well, if you had bothered to talk to me as scheduled, I would have told you that the Lightning Lacquer High Speed Performance Polish  I ordered from Quality Quidditch finally arrived yesterday. At the moment I’m debating whether or not to let you use any of it. You know how petty I am.

 

But I am also magnanimous. I forgive you for your bout of forgetfulness. After all, you’ve got the League tickets.

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                                                                                       July 11th

Sirius,

 

If I were to give you the silent treatment for every juvenile prank you pull, then we would never speak again. While that sounds appealing in many ways, in the end, for some unfathomable reason, I still have a desire to talk to my friends.

 

I don’t want you to sneak onto my family’s property on the full moon. I endured this for years before I ever had company. I can handle it now. It’s not worth the risk; if you or Peter were spotted, it could lead to all sorts of questions that none of us are willing to answer. I appreciate the sentiment, but this matter is best left alone.

 

And I’m sure you’re wondering by now how I managed to enchant this parchment to project Augury cries - and, more importantly, how you can stop it. While I certainly don’t wish to shorten the duration of your suffering by helping you with the problem, I will give you one piece of advice: if you destroy the parchment before disenchanting it, the cries will continue to echo in the room indefinitely.

 

You can thank James for this, by the way. If it weren’t for the book he lent me on Ensnaring Enchantments, I never would have figured out how to work this spell. I quite like it. At first I considered enchanting it with Fwooper song, but since you are already quite insane I decided that would only be redundant. In the end, I chose Augury cries in the hope that it might convince you to throw yourself out of a high window.

 

Do let me know how it goes.

 

-Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 12th

 

You’re a real bastard.

 

Thanks to your little trick I’ve been punished with de-gnoming the entire neighborhood. I’ve been at it since dawn, after a single hour’s sleep, since that was all that was left of the night by the time I stopped that damn spell.

 

I hope you’re satisfied.

 

I suggest you start to prepare yourself now. You’ll need it.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 12th

 

Sirius,

 

I think going to Zonko’s is a good idea, and the Three Broomsticks too. You know how my mum gets about Butterbeer in the house, and I’m just dying for some. She still thinks that I don’t know about that bottle of Firewhiskey behind the clock.

 

- Peter

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 12th

Remus,

 

Well, if you’ll help me with Arithmancy then maybe I’ll actually pass the next term. Hopefully Lily will help with the Divination stuff next term as well - she’s really good at it, and it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Why should I even want to read tea leaves? I don’t even like drinking tea that much. I was thinking about dropping Divination next year altogether. What do you think?

 

You know, I hate writing all those essays for History of Magic, but I’d rather be at school than here at home. You can’t do anything at home these days without hearing horrible news. I guess I just don’t know how to deal with it.

 

Is everything going to be all right with the next full moon? I know that’s a stupid question.

 

-Peter

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 13th

 

My Dearest James,

 

I realize that I’m not as pretty as Lily Evans, nor can I hope to tempt you with the myriad delights of the female body. But it has been at least a week since I heard from you and IF YOU DON’T START TALKING TO YOUR BEST MATE VERY SOON YOU WILL BE VERY SORRY. I should never have helped you develop that special Echo Powder. I should have known that the moment you could talk to Lily at any time I would never hear from you again.

 

It doesn’t matter. It’s the 15th in two days and I will be on your doorstep whether you’ve spoken to me or not. But I warn you, if you haven’t at least written me a note to say ‘sod off’ by that time, then you are not going to like what I bring with me.

 

-Sirius

 

 

                                                                                      July 13th

Wormtail,

 

I’ve had a brilliant idea!!! Find frogs - as many frogs as you can get your hands on. Small ones. Preferably dead, though live ones could work. I’ll bring the chocolate. I think it’s time we paid James and Remus back for... for everything they’ve ever done. Who needs a reason? They’ll never suspect it coming as a gift from you. That damn guileless look of yours is pure gold, Wormtail, pure gold.

 

-Sirius

 

 

                                                                                                            July 13th

Peter,

 

The full moon will pass.  There’s no need to worry, but thanks for the concern.

 

I know how you feel; there doesn’t seem to be any way to avoid hearing dreadful news these days. We just have to get through each day as best we can. 

 

The summer will be over before you know it. I would rather be at Hogwarts too.

 

-Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 13th

 

Sirius,

 

I won’t need to prepare myself. Anything you throw at me is likely to be easily countered. Give it your best try.

 

-Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 14th

 

Remus,

 

You think too highly of yourself.

 

-S

 

 

                                                                                      July 14th

Potter,

 

You were warned. Expect me to arrive at Rosewood tomorrow with disaster at my heels.

 

Your mother likes me better anyway.

 

 

 

                                                                                      ~*~*~*~

 

 

December 28th

 

“He spoke about you often. Quidditch was… was special to him. I think he would want you to be there.”

It wasn’t as if they could have said no.

Attending this funeral was the last thing that James wanted to do, and easily the worst end to the Christmas holiday that he could imagine.

But it was now the only thing he could do for a person he had considered a friend, so he would see it done. And though it wasn’t by any means a comforting thought, he steeled himself for the task by reminding himself that Aaron MacAllister’s family was having a far worse Christmas holiday than he.

Aaron had been killed on Boxing Day, just after leaving Diagon Alley, where he’d gone to commission magical repairs on the dress he’d bought as a gift for his mother. Sixth year Gryffindor, a Chaser under James’ captainship for the last three years. Muggle-born.

“Is this… is this thing on right?”

James turned at the sound of the subdued voice to see Malachi Gordon, Gryffindor Beater for the last two years, tugging helplessly at the Muggle necktie around his shirt collar.

“Here.” Sirius stepped up to him, pushed Malachi’s hands aside, and fixed the necktie in silence. He’d been silent most of the afternoon, which was a rarity for Sirius, even on somber occasions.

But then, James reflected, the only other time he’d ever been with Sirius at a funeral had been at the service for Alexander Potter a year ago… and James could remember very little about that day, except for the engravings on the side of his father’s coffin. He remembered those engravings with perfect clarity. He also remembered that Sirius had been there, standing at his back the whole time, though he couldn’t recall what, if anything, his friend might have said to him that day. He supposed that Sirius must have been as silent and somber then as he was now, adjusting the necktie for his fellow Beater.

The whole team was here. They had all received letters from Aaron’s parents just yesterday, informing them of his death, and inviting them to attend the funeral. Quidditch was special to him, they’d said. He spoke of his teammates all the time, it had been his greatest joy in discovering wizardry, and would they do this last thing for him?

It wasn’t as if they could have said no.

There were others here, too, more of Aaron’s schoolmates, mostly Gryffindors. Aaron had indeed been obsessed with his performance on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and had interacted with few people outside his own house - a kind of team loyalty taken to the extreme.

He’d been a good Chaser, James thought. A natural. Good Chaser, proud Gryffindor,

and a good wizard.

            James felt a hand brush lightly against his shoulder, and he turned to see Lily standing behind him, giving him a weak but comforting smile. He reached out and took her hand in his, glad for the contact.

            Peter was standing next to Lily, looking intensely awkward in the Muggle clothing they’d all been given to wear for the occasion. While everyone else looked pale, some of them even teary, Peter looked positively gray. He hadn’t know Aaron as well as James and Sirius had, but  most of the seventh and sixth year Gryffindors had come today; they’d known Aaron the longest. A few had been unable to make it, or too nervous about mingling at a mostly Muggle gathering.

James only wished that Remus were here; Moony had a way about him that calmed people. But last night had been the full moon, and Remus was currently in no condition to go anywhere, certainly not to a funeral. In the end, for this one month, James supposed that Remus had it lucky.

            “Thanks,” Malachi muttered as Sirius gave one last, not altogether gentle tug on his necktie. “I think it’s been wrong all afternoon. Muggles certainly don’t go for comfort.”

            Morton Bones, Chaser, and the youngest on the team as a third year, gave a quiet grunt of agreement. Morton had a wiry build, and a tendency to look awkward in anything but a Quidditch uniform; the Muggle clothing seemed to stick out at strange angles on his thin frame, and he looked decidedly uncomfortable. His eyes were bloodshot under his mop of yellow hair, and James suspected that he’d probably been fighting tears ever since they got here. Morton had looked up to everyone on the team, but to Aaron and James especially, as fellow Chasers. Aaron had always been patient and friendly with him.

            He’s just a kid, James thought, trying not to show his concern too openly. But he couldn’t help feeling for Morton. He was just a third year, just starting to really take in what was happening in the world outside of Hogwarts… and this was an ugly lesson.

Looking at Morton’s pale, freckled face, James suddenly felt very old and tired. He closed his hand more tightly around Lily’s but couldn’t bring himself to look at her for fear that his expression would break and reveal too much. He had to be strong. He was the team Captain. It didn’t matter if they weren’t on the pitch right now, he was still the Captain, and this green cemetery field demanded more of him in that capacity than any Quidditch pitch could. 

            “I think it’s time.”

            Sirius was suddenly at his shoulder, his voice low and his eyes looking paler and brighter than usual in his white face. He nodded back in the direction of the building from which they’d just emerged.

            James looked back to see Michael MacAllister, Aaron’s older brother, Muggle, trying to catch their eye from just inside the doorway. Michael didn’t look pale nor his eyes bloodshot; he looked like his face had been carved out of stone, and the nod he gave them when he caught their eyes was a stiff one. James remembered that kind of stiffness. At his father’s funeral, he’d felt like his body was encased in one of the suits of armor that liked to wander around the lower floors of Hogwarts; too heavy to move properly, and cold to the touch.

            “Come on,” Sirius murmured, his voice, too, sounding as though it were coming from the hollow depths of a suit of armor.

            James shook his head, trying to clear it of morbid wanderings. He gave Lily one last look, drawing strength from her steady green gaze, then released her hand and followed Sirius back into the building - where the last of the mourners were just filing out, and Aaron’s brother led them back to the coffin.

            At a wizarding funeral, it was customary for the coffin to be levitated by all of the deceased’s family members and closest loved ones. Wands out, the witches and wizards would float their burden to its final resting place. But this was a Muggle funeral. And he and Sirius had been asked to take part in this final stage of the Muggle ceremony.

            James said nothing as he took up his position at one corner of the coffin, only exchanged one last, bleak glance with Sirius before they both joined Aaron’s brother and father in lifting the wooden frame onto their shoulders.

            James steadied the burden with his hands, and tried to focus only on the feel of the polished wood beneath his fingers as they walked. He stared blindly ahead at Michael’s feet, following their trail and the pull of the weight on his shoulder. He tried not to think about the last game they’d played with Aaron, and how ecstatic he’d been about the win against Ravenclaw. He tried not to think about the way his father’s coffin had felt similarly cool and smooth beneath his hands.

            As they walked on and on, and the weight pressing down on his shoulder grew greater and more painful, all James could think of was how unfair and cruel it seemed that Muggles should have to carry their dead in such a fashion. At that moment, he would have given anything to be able to pull out his wand and do this the proper way. Aaron would have appreciated that, he thought. He might have been Muggle-born, but he was a wizard too.

After this - James decided, feeling the edge of wood digging into the base of his neck - after this they would all go to Hogsmeade, and they would do something to remember Aaron in their own way. He might have been killed for the magic in his blood, but Aaron had loved being a wizard, and James refused to let the spell that killed him be the final magic worked in his name.

Finally, after what seemed like a bleak eternity, they came to the appropriate place and lowered their burden. But James found that, even with the weight gone, he couldn’t bring order to his thoughts. He felt cast adrift, unable to focus on the final words being spoken, or on the people around him. Instead, his thoughts kept wandering back to their last Quidditch practice, and the Porskoff Ploy he and Aaron had been working on mastering.

“I’m just not as good as you, Potter!”

Aaron always had a laugh for every self-deprecating comment. He always had a smile for every time he swore to improve. He was always better than he claimed to be.

James frowned. He’d never be able to pull off that Ploy without MacAllister. Morton couldn’t handle it, not yet. He just couldn’t do it without MacAllister.

“James?”

He struggled to come back to himself, to answer the concern in the voice at his side. Lily’s voice.

“James.”

“I’m all right.”

Her hand slipped into his again, cool and steady. She didn’t call him on his lie, and he was grateful for it.

“Everyone’s leaving,” she said softly.

James blinked, wondering stupidly if there was something wrong with his glasses, and managed to take a look around.

Everyone was leaving. Even Aaron’s family was trailing away from the graveside, moving together as though they feared being lost if separated. The rest of the Muggles were leaving, too, and even most of the Hogwarts students. They also left in groups, and they had good reason to do so; attending the funeral of a Muggle-born friend could be a risky thing these days, and traveling in numbers was only a wise precaution.

But every member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team remained, along with Lily and Peter. They were waiting, he realized. Waiting for him.

James let his gaze travel over them, taking in their sad and frightened faces. Malachi had his arm - thick arm, good Beater he was - around Kelly Dobbs’ shoulders. Dobbs had played Keeper on his team for three years, and James had never seen her looking as devastated as she did now, not even after they’d lost that game to Hufflepuff last year. Morton had his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his trousers, his head hunched down in the misbuttoned collar of his shirt, and he refused to meet anyone’s eyes. Lakshmi Patil was standing next to Sirius, tears streaming silently down her face. She was a small girl - perfect Seeker build - and she looked even smaller now, drowning in a Muggle coat too large for her, and looking very much as though she wished Sirius would extend her a comforting arm as his fellow Beater was doing for Dobbs. James knew that Lakshmi had had a crush on Sirius for ages. But Sirius, for all that he flirted outrageously with any girl who stood still long enough in his presence, was in truth rather oblivious to the way the girls in question were feeling.

            James thought about how difficult it would be to fill an open position so late into the season. They’d have to familiarize themselves with a new player’s techniques. It was going to be damn hard to win this next match without Aaron. Next match… against Slytherin.

            No. They’d win. He’d see to it.

            James pulled Lily closer, and rested a comforting hand on Peter’s shoulder. He swept his gaze over his team again. “Let’s go.”

            Malachi nodded and immediately turned Kelly around to walk slowly across the cemetery lawn, heading for the cover of trees where they could all safely use the Portkey that would take them back to Hogsmeade. Morton followed after them, his head hanging.

            James caught Sirius’ eyes, and for a moment they just stared at each other, sharing everything that always went unspoken in situations like these. Then Sirius quirked a small, reassuring smile, and James was glad to see it. He’d needed it.

            Sirius swept a careless arm around Lakshmi and led her away, seemingly oblivious to the way she leaned her dark head against his shoulder and wiped quickly at her eyes. As they passed, James could just make out the sound of Sirius murmuring something about Muggle fashion, and Lakshmi giggling softly through the hiccupping of fading tears.

            Lily started to follow after them, but James found that he couldn’t move. She stopped, still holding his hand, and gave him a questioning look. When he couldn’t seem to find his voice either, she just nodded. “I’ll give you a minute.” She let go of his hand, and moved to catch up with Sirius and Lakshmi.

            James turned and stared down, one last time, into the grave. Someone had thrown roses onto the polished coffin lid. He couldn’t remember whom.

            “You were a great Chaser, Aaron,” he murmured. Because it would have meant something to Aaron MacAllister. He’d loved Quidditch more than any pureblood wizard James had ever known. “The best.”

             He almost expected a reply, just as he’d almost expected his father to sit up that day last year and brush off the effects of a killing curse like so much Floo powder. 

            But he hadn’t. And neither would Aaron.

            James turned away from the grave, and saw Peter still standing behind him, looking grayer than ever and as uncomfortable as Morton in his Muggle clothes.

            “Wormtail.” James gave the best comforting smile he could manage. “Waiting for me?”

            Peter just gave him a bleak look. For a long moment, he said nothing, and then his voice emerged softer and more uncertain than usual. “How can we fight this, James?” He made a jerky motion, as if to gesture at Aaron’s grave, but quickly gave up and just wrapped his arms around his chest under his jacket, looking small and… frightened. “I don’t think I can fight this.”

            James didn’t know what to say. Right now, he didn’t trust himself to say anything that wouldn’t just upset Peter more than he already was. He didn’t want Peter to know that he’d been asking himself the same question for a long time now - and he hadn’t come up with any kind of comforting answer.

            So he said nothing. He just clapped his hand again on Peter’s shoulder and shook his head. “Let’s go home, Wormtail.”

            Peter frowned, then nodded with a sigh.

            James fixed his eyes on Lily’s hair in the distance and followed it like a beacon, like some guiding spirit to lead him away from darkness and onto safer ground.

 

 

                                                                                                            ~*~*~*~

 

                     

                                                                                      July 1st

 

Moony,

 

We’re free. I can hardly believe it. I could walk into the M.L.E.S. headquarters right now and sign up for training as a full-fledged wizard. It’s about bloody time. Seven years. Whose idea was it to make school seven ruddy years long? Probably someone like you.

 

I think I’m still hung over from that party. This means that another round of Butterbeer is in order to cure my ills. What about tonight? I’ll write Wormtail as well. I think James is a lost cause for tonight, if the way he was looking at Lily yesterday is any indication. Sometimes I just want to lock them in a cellar somewhere so they can get it over with.

 

Write me back about tonight, or Echo, or something. I’m going stir crazy. We still ought to be celebrating.

 

-Sirius

 

 

                                                                                     

                                                                                      July 1st

Wormtail,

 

What say you to another evening at the Broomsticks tonight? On me. A drink for every time McGonagall said we’d never even learn how to transmutate an egg into a chicken if we didn’t “PAY ATTENTION” in class. We showed her, didn’t we? I’ll never forget how long it took us to catch that headless chicken of yours - still one of your greatest feats, as far as I’m concerned, even if McGonagall was “not amused.” Ah, the memories. Come to Hogsmeade tonight and let’s get started on being those nostalgic old wizards in the corner booth, gabbling about the old days of Hogwarts to all the hapless third years on their first visit. We’ve earned it.

 

-Padfoot

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 1st

 

Sirius,

 

You’re right - you can walk into the D.M.L.E. and sign up for training. Are you going to? 

 

Thanks to the Rum Ramoras you thoughtfully dissolved in my Butterbeer, I’m rather hung-over myself. I think you owe me an unadulterated round, and so I will meet you tonight at the Three Broomsticks where you can buy off your debt to me. Always assuming Rosmerta has been able to repair all the damage by now, and that she’ll welcome us back at all.

 

And before you go about locking James and Lily into any cellars, you might consider what Lily would do to you afterward.

 

-Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 2nd

Sirius,

 

I hear you went out carousing last night without me. You’re still upset that I beat you out on the end-of-the-year speech, aren’t you?

 

I just got a letter from Jeremy Abbott inviting us to meet up with the Hufflepuff team next week for a post-term match. He says he’ll try to get Ackerley to bring along his Ravenclaws too, and get in touch with some of last year’s players. Sounds like a time to me. What do you think?

 

-James

 

 

 

                  

                                           July 2nd

Lily,

 

Thank you for last night.

 

I should pay a visit to your parents sometime soon, I think. It’s been a while. I wouldn’t want Petunia to forget all about me.

 

My mother wants to see you again, too. She…

 

She’s not doing well, Lily. I’m worried about her. She’s acting like she’s hiding something, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

 

But I didn’t intend for this letter to be morose. We have our whole lives ahead of us now. I tend to share Sirius’ opinion on this: we should be celebrating. In that spirit, I say we go to all of those disreputable taverns in the Aberdeen District that can no longer turn us out.

 

Somehow I doubt you’re going to be quite as enthusiastic about that suggestion as Sirius would, but I thought I’d give it a try.

 

Please tell me I’ll see you again soon.

 

Yours,

James

 

 

 

                                           July 2nd

Moony,

 

I was thinking about what you said in your letter yesterday, about the M.L.E.S.  I was too soused last night to think about much of anything, but it’s all very painfully clear this morning. 

 

I think they need all the Aurors they can get right now, and it’s not as if people are exactly jumping at the opportunity these days.

 

But I keep thinking about what Dumbledore said to us when he caught the five of us alone in the hallway. It’s like he was telling us to expect something from him. Or am I going mad?

 

Well. Ganymede just flew in the window. Let’s see what Prongs has to say about the latest progression in his torrid affair with the Head Girl.

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                     

                                                                                      July 2nd

 

James,

 

Of course we should take up Abbott’s gauntlet. Sounds like a blood-bath to me. If he thinks we’ll play easy just because the Cup isn’t at stake, then he’s got another thing coming.

 

And I’m not sure what party you were at, Prongs old boy, but you most certainly did not outshine me in any capacity, not in speeches nor in charm nor in good looks, no matter what Miss Evans might have to say about it.

 

And speaking of Miss Evans, do you have any intentions for the next months that don’t involve sweet nothings and sonnets? Have you written off to Nimbus yet, or are you going to head to the M.L.E.S. with me?

 

Which brings me to something else that I’ve been reluctant to mention, but I think we need to do something about it. What are we going to do for Remus? They won’t take him at the Ministry, no matter how qualified he is. And without that experience, he is going to have a hard time finding a teaching post. Can your mother put in a word for him with some of the Department heads? We can’t let these people destroy his career, James.

 

I think we need to talk.

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 3rd

Dear James,

 

My parents would love for you to visit again, and Petunia, of course, has been pining for you.

 

You’re always asking for trouble, aren’t you?

 

I want very much to visit Rosewood again and see your mother. I can’t pretend to understand what might be going through her mind right now, but James, I think it understandable that she might seem depressed. Not to mention that she’s probably exhausted. From everything I’ve seen in the Prophet recently, anyone working in the Department of International Magical Cooperation right now is going to have a hard time of it. But she couldn’t ask for a better son. You’ll know what to do for her. You always do.

 

As for the disreputable taverns in the Aberdeen District, that is indeed something you will have to share with Sirius. But any time you feel like going back to Heather’s Grove, feel free to invite me.

 

I got a letter from Lakshmi yesterday. She says that her cousins are moving to France, and they’re lending her use of their cottage in Hogsmeade. She asked if I’d like to live with her. What do you think?

 

With love,

Lily

 

 

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                July 3rd

Sirius,

 

I think you’re right about Dumbledore, but who knows how or when he’ll speak to us again. He has more than enough on his mind, and I doubt we are at the top of his list of priorities. I think it would be wise to go ahead with our own plans, and deal with situations as they come.

 

It’s true that the Ministry needs as many Aurors as they can get, but it’s not as if you can just walk in and be assigned a seal and sent out to work. You know how impatient you get about training. This is probably something you should think through carefully for once.

 

-Remus

 

 

 

July 3rd

Remus,

 

Help. Mum is trying to force me into applying for work in the textiles research department at Gladrags. She seems to think that wizard tailoring is a ‘dignified profession with a long and noble history’ and I should be eager to spend the rest of my life up to my ears in robes and undergarments. I can’t convince her that I don’t know anything about tailoring and I’m no good at research. If I don’t come up with an alternative soon I’m doomed.

 

-Peter

 

 

                                           July 3rd

Lily,

 

I think that if you and Lakshmi Patil decide to live in the same house then I will be forced to put wards up all around it to keep besotted men away at all hours of the day.

 

I think that you’d be happy in Hogsmeade. I think it would be easier to visit you in Hogsmeade. I think you would be safer in Hogsmeade.

 

I think it’s a good idea. I only wish I could come up with something better. Or rather, with something feasible. But I’m going to do this properly, Lily. I’m going to have something to offer you. Sirius can laugh all he wants about ‘the Potter fortune,’ but you deserve something more than Galleons.

 

I have some things to take care of in Diagon Alley tomorrow. Could I pay you a visit afterward?

 

Yours,

James

 

P.S. I wasn’t sure if you still had any of that Echo Powder left, so I took the liberty of sending you some more.

 

 

 

    

                                           July 3rd

Padfoot,

 

Needless to say, I think we should keep our conversation from last night to ourselves. Remus would not appreciate it if he learned we’re trying to plot his life like a pair of village crones. I spoke to Mum, and she’ll do what she can, but she doesn’t think it will make much of a difference. Prejudice against werewolves is usually bad, but these days it’s much worse. I hate to say it, but I think the best we can hope for is to get good reports and recommendations permanently added to his file at the Werewolf Registry. It makes me angry, but I don’t know what else we can do.

 

I sent the letter to Nimbus this morning, and one to Universal. There isn’t as much of a demand for Test Flyers this season, but one can always hope.

 

I received positive replies from the whole team about Abbott’s challenge, so I’ve decided we ought to make a small wager on the outcome. Think of something creative.

 

-Prongs

 

 

 

                                                                                              July 4th

 

Peter,

 

I think the appropriate question here is: would you be up to your ears in ladies’ undergarments, or men’s?

 

I thought you were planning to take an apprenticeship in the Spirit Division of the D.C.R.M.C.  Did you change your mind?

 

-Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 4th

Remus,

 

I would like to retort by saying that I always think things through carefully, but we both know that would be a lie. Instead, I’ll defend my honor by saying that I’m aware of the demands of Auror training, thank you kindly for the warning, Professor. I think you’re just concerned about my safety. You’re downright sentimental, Moony.

 

I’ve decided to have a go at the early Apparition exams next month, and I think you should all come with me.

 

Prongs mentioned going to the Jaded Jarvey tonight. We thought we’d catch the Knight Bus out to Aberdeen and book a return bed, as attempting to Floo after an evening at the Jarvey probably isn’t wise. Flag the Bus at half nine to meet us.

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                                                                      July 4th

Peter,

 

Think you could escape the Hag tonight at quarter nine to catch the Knight Bus and join us for a night at the Jaded Jarvey? There’s a new band called the Weird Sisters playing the stage tonight, and they’re supposed to be good. We all know how much you love a good hornpipe, Wormtail.

 

-S

 

 

                                                                                      July 4th

James,

 

How hard do you think it would be to sneak into the Werewolf Registry files and set the whole lot on fire?

 

As for the match, I think hearing the Hufflepuffs singing all fifty verses of The Bulging Badger would be a suitable reward for our victory, so long as they include the miming on the chorus. I would say they should do it starkers as well, but I have a feeling the girls wouldn’t appreciate that, even if I would.

 

I’ll see you on the Knight Bus.

 

-Sirius

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 5th

 

Remus,

 

If we go to one more tavern this week, I’ll never leave the loo again. 

 

I don’t think I’m cut out for working in the Spirit Division. It sounded like a great idea six months ago, but none of you have any idea what it was like getting cornered by the Bloody Baron last Easter when it was my turn to make the kitchen run. I don’t think I was meant to handle Exorcisms.  Honestly, I think that’s what Sirius should be doing. If his skill for tormenting Myrtle is any indication, then working with the S.D. is probably his life’s calling.

 

-Peter

 

 

 

                                                  July 5th

Lily,

 

I need to talk to you. Meet me tonight at the Broomsticks?

 

Yours,

James

 

 

 

                                           July 5th

 

Remus,

 

Prongs was just here. The bastard. That absolute bastard.

 

He got a letter today from Puddlemere United. They want him to play first Chaser starting mid-season. FIRST CHASER. 

 

He says - if you can believe it - that he doesn’t know whether or not to accept. I could kill him. In fact, I think I shall. Or at the very least I’ll give him a bloodied nose.

 

He’s off right now to go talk to Lily about it. Maybe she’ll talk some sense into him, though I doubt it.

 

-Sirius

 

P.S. If you ever tell anyone the following, I’ll hex you. But I have to be honest and say that I’ll understand if he turns it down. We’ve got more important things to think about than Quidditch these days.  Which reminds me that Prongs said he’d take the Apparition exams next month, and I think Wormtail garbled something to that effect last night through his third Sorcerer’s Scotch. What about you?

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 6th

 

Sirius,

 

I’m not at all surprised about the invitation from Puddlemere. Have you heard anything yet from Prongs about his decision?

 

I suspect, though, that his answer will be no. James has other things on his mind. I’d be willing to bet that he and Lily marry by the end of the year. And I don’t think that he could calmly play Quidditch while others go hunting Death Eaters any more than you could, Sirius.

 

Yes, I’ll try the exams next month.  Has someone mentioned this to Lily? If any of us should master Apparition as soon as possible, it’s her.

 

-Remus

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 7th

 

Dear James,

 

Did you send your reply to Puddlemere United yet? I know how hard it will be for you, and I wish you could feel right about accepting, but I want you to know again that I’m proud of you for making this choice. I also want you to know that if you change your mind, I will just as happily go to every single match and sing Beat Back Those Bludgers at the top of my lungs. I want you to be happy. I want all of us to be happy.

 

But in the meantime, I suppose you will have to be satisfied with a Gryffindor cheer at your game next week. I think that game will be good for all of us. You do realize, though, that it’s only one day before the full moon? I do hope you don’t expect me to keep Remus calm if you lose.

 

All my love,

Lily

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 10th

 

Prongs,

 

I’m in love.

 

My Aunt’s cousin called yesterday. Remember I told you that she married a Muggle last year? Well, he came along as well. And he brought his motorbike.

 

Have you ever ridden a motorbike, Potter? I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about Muggles and their strange contraptions. They’re brilliant. They’re all brilliant.

 

It’s better than a broomstick. Broomsticks are just a bundle of twigs. Riding a motorbike is… I can’t even describe it.

 

I need one. If I could get my hands on one, I’m sure I could make it…

 

I bet I could make it fly.

 

Liam says he’ll bring it again when they visit. If they don’t come back soon, I’m going to have to track them down. You’re coming with me. You have to see this.

 

-S

 

 

                                                                                      July 10th

 

GET YOURSELF TOGETHER, BLACK.

 

As amused as I am to hear you waxing poetic about a bloody motorbike, if you let your newfound rapture interfere with the match tomorrow, I will make you very sorry. I have absolutely no intention of losing this wager to Abbott and his team - or do you really want to see Malachi with his knickers on his head? If you force me into flashing my bum to the world while Lily’s on the field you will wish you’d never been born. 

 

-James

 

 

 

                                                                                  July 12th

 

All last night, in my dreams, all I could hear was Dunstan’s voice… singing…

 

I will never be able to think of Badgers innocently again.

 

After that performance yesterday, I think you owe me a trip to Bath. You have to see this motorbike.

 

-Sirius

 

 

                                           July 12h

 

Sirius,

 

I’ll go with you to Bath.

 

I think we should visit Remus tomorrow. It looks to be a stormy night tonight, and that always upsets the wolf. It will be a bad night for him, and at least we can try to cheer him up tomorrow. I’ll mention it to Peter.

 

-James

 

 

             

                                           July 15th

 

Dear Sirius,

 

I realize that all basic courtesies are lost on you, but I would feel callous if I didn’t at least attempt them. So…

 

I hope this letter finds you well. In this case, you may interpret that as: I hope this letter does not find you in the midst of an illegal or life-threatening activity, and that you’re not dragging James into it…

 

Actually, I’m afraid that I have ulterior motives for writing this letter. I haven’t heard from James in two days, and I’m concerned. When I tried to contact him by fireplace there was no reply. He told me that you all went to see Remus after the moon, and while he sounded a bit somber, he didn’t say that anything went wrong with the visit. Is Remus all right?

 

I’ve had no letters, either, and that’s not like James at all. I was hoping you could let me know what’s happening, if anything. There’s been nothing in the Prophet, so I’m trying not to worry too much. But if you talk to him, tell him that he’ll have a very angry girlfriend on his hands if he doesn’t get in touch with me soon.

 

Fondly,

Lily

 

 

 

                                                                                                            July 15th

 

Lily,

 

I haven’t spoken to him either. I figured he was too busy trysting with you, but now that I know that’s not the case I think it’s time I paid a little visit at Rosewood. You need to move to Hogsmeade so that you’ll have access to the Floo Network. In the meantime, I’ll assume the burden. And if he’s not trapped under something very heavy then he’ll come to wish he was.

 

Don’t worry. I’m sure he’s fine. We would have heard about another attack on the Potter family if anything had happened.

 

You’ll hear from us soon.

 

-Sirius

 

 

                                           July 15th

 

Dear Lily,

 

I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking clearly and… well, there’s no excuse. Can I see you? I ought to apologize in person for worrying you, and I could really use your company.

 

I love you.

 

James

 

 

                  

                                           July 15th

 

Lily,

 

He’s alive, though I saw to it that he is not unscathed. If he doesn’t write you by the end of the day, tell me.

 

-Sirius

 

 

                                                                                      July 16th

 

Remus,

 

We need to have a bit of a conversation - all of us. Can you get to Hogsmeade tonight? We can meet at the Broomsticks and then head out to those caves we discovered last year. I’ll get in touch with Peter.

 

Mrs. Potter had a talk with James the other day and… well, he should tell you himself.

 

He’s going to need us, Remus. More than ever.

 

-Sirius

 

 

                                                                                                            ~*~*~*~

 

 

September 23rd

 

 

Lily remembered with perfect clarity the first time she’d seen Rosewood. She’d walked through the gate in the hedges, holding James’ hand, and listened to him tell her how Rosewood had been the Potter family estate for the last two hundred and fifty years, how it was passed from firstborn to firstborn, and how, as his parents’ only child, it would be his inheritance when they were gone. When his mother was gone, he’d amended quietly. His father had been six months dead that day.

She’d listened to him tell stories about his childhood as he led her through the gardens and the hallways, never once letting go of her hand, and she’d felt as though she too had spent her life tripping over every cobbled pathway and swinging on the enchanted chandeliers.

Lily Evans had fallen in love with Rosewood that day. But standing now on the green lawns, watching the sun set behind the terraced roof, she looked on the rose-strewn walls and pillars and thought them a rather grim sight. Because tonight, for the first time, she was seeing the place for the full weight of its history, and the heavy responsibility that history placed upon those who called the estate home.

Lily drew her cloak closer about her and turned to see, much to her dismay, that James had not moved. He was sitting on one of the stone benches at the edge of the lawn, hunched forward with his elbows on his thighs, his hands dangling motionless between his knees. His head hung forward so that the fall of his tangled black hair hid his eyes; all she could make out was the golden glint of sunset on the edge of his glasses.

 It hurt to see him like this. He hadn’t moved for at least twenty minutes, and hadn’t spoken in longer. She’d thought that just being here today might help him, and so she’d Apparated over as soon as she got his letter. But it didn’t seem to be making much of a difference, and it was killing her to see him like this.

Carefully arranging her cloak so as not to get it tangled with his, Lily sat down next to him on the bench. She wanted to reach under his arm and take his hand, but she knew better, knew him too well. If he was going to take any comfort from her presence, then he would have to come to his senses enough to ask for it, or it would never truly reach him. James rarely retreated into himself like this, but when he did, there was no helping him unless he could first help himself.

But she couldn’t do nothing.

With gentle hands, Lily reached back and pulled his cloak more carefully onto his shoulders, so that it might actually serve its purpose and offer him protection against the growing evening chill.

She smiled when she noticed that he was wearing the cloak clasp she’d made for him last year.

A lily, she’d grinned, trying to cover awkwardness with levity, handing him the magically carved clasp. To remind you who owns your heart.

     He’d grinned back in that disarming way of his. To remind me of your eyes.

            She’d blushed, she remembered. It had been, of course, why she’d wanted green Fwooper shell to work with in the first place; he was always complimenting her on her eyes. But she’d been too shy about it to actually say anything outright, and she’d been glad that he made the connection for himself.

            He used the clasp all the time, but it still made her blush every time she saw it.

            After adjusting his cloak, she shifted close enough to him to touch her shoulder and hip to his, and then tucked her fingers between her knees and waited.

            It was a truly beautiful sunset. The sky was streaked with coral and gold, and the clouds were lined with color and light. Rosewood’s façade grew shadowy as the sun descended further behind the line of the sloped rooftop. A sudden breeze rustled through the sycamores, and Lily had to raise a hand to push her suddenly tousled hair back behind her ears.

            “I don’t know if I can stay here.”

            His voice was so raw, so uncertain. So unlike him.

            Lily fought the urge to wrap her arms around him, and kept her voice low and calm as she replied. “You don’t have to.”

            James lifted his head and stared with narrowed eyes at the manor in front of him. The corner of his mouth twisted in a small, bitter smile. “Don’t I?”

            Lily frowned. “No,” she said firmly. “You don’t. No one is asking you to. Everyone understands. Your mother understands, James. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have left.”

            “My mother,” James murmured wryly, dropping his head again, “doesn’t think she’s ever going to see this place again. She doesn’t think she’s ever going to come back from Scotland. She’s given up. She gave up two years ago. She gave up when my father died.”

            Lily pushed her hair back behind her ear again, thinking of the last time she’d seen Mariana Potter, of the sound of the woman’s tired voice.

            “Maybe she did,” she said softly. “But that doesn’t mean you have to.”

            For a moment, as he continued to hang his head, she feared that her words hadn’t reached him at all. Then she heard him draw a deep breath; his shoulders straightened, and when he lifted his head she could see that his expression was set and determined.

            “I’m not giving up,” he said with quiet intensity. “I don’t care about fate. It doesn’t matter whose blood runs in my family. Gryffindor’s heir or not, I’m not just going to give up.”

            Lily felt her eyes begin to sting, and quickly bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from crying. He wouldn’t really understand that it wasn’t fear for him that made her throat ache with unshed tears, but a painful pride, and she didn’t want to cause him any further distress.

            “I just…” the quiet strength in his voice faded again, and he grimaced as though in pain. “I just don’t know if I can stay here. The house is so… empty. I can understand why mother went to stay with the McKinnons. They can use her up there.” His voice grew suddenly hoarse with pride. “No one casts a better Diversion Enchantment than my mother. But even when she comes back… because I can’t think that she won’t come back… even when she comes back, I don’t think she wants to come back to Rosewood. Not without Dad. Not anymore. And I… what am I supposed to do? Live here by myself?”

            Lily swallowed. “No,” she whispered.

            He didn’t turn his head - he seemed unable to look away from the building in front of him. But his hand moved, brushed over her leg and closed over her fingers.

            “I can’t ask you stay here with me,” he said in little more than a murmur. “It wouldn’t be… right. It wouldn’t be safe.”

            “Don’t.” She turned her hand in his grasp to twine her fingers through his. “Don’t try to push me away because of some…some perceived destiny.”

            His fingers locked so tightly with hers that she could feel the muscles beneath his skin straining.

            “If things get bad, I might have to… I might have to go live in a tree stump somewhere.”

            The laugh came out of her so suddenly she almost coughed on it. It banished the sting of threatening tears, and she turned her face to smile at him, deeply glad to see that he was watching her out of the corner of his eyes and smiling slightly as well.

            “I wouldn’t mind,” she murmured, still smiling. “You’d make it entertaining, somehow.”

            His smile suddenly faded, and he turned to face her fully, half of his face lit by the sunset, half of it cast in shadow. He loosened his grip on her hand, only to wind his fingers more closely with hers.

            “Marry me?”

            It was no surprise.

            It changed the world.

            “Yes.”

            His eyes closed. She could feel his hand shaking.

            When he leaned forward to rest his forehead against hers, she closed her eyes as well, breathing the scent of him, feeling his warmth. Loving him.

            “I’m giving Rosewood to my mother’s cousins,” he murmured, his hair brushing against her forehead. “They don’t have any Potter blood. They’ll be safe here. He’ll have no reason to come for them.”

            Lily said nothing, because she knew that he didn’t need her to; he just needed to say it. And he needed her to be here. Where she belonged.

             “Tomorrow,” he said, and she could feel his voice deep in his chest, as though every fiber and breath of him filled the air between them, “we’ll start looking for a nice tree stump.”

            “Good idea.”

            And he smiled. Every part of him smiled as he kissed her. And when he pulled her head tenderly onto his shoulder so that he could rest his face in her hair, Lily opened her eyes, and rested her gaze contentedly on the sight of their clasped hands. Fingers pale in the shadow of coming night, woven together, inseparable. Entwined.

//
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