The Sugar Quill
Author: May  Story: As Life Begins  Chapter: Chapter One: The Letter
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As Life Begins

As Life Begins

Chapter 1:  The Letter

Sirius Black laughed his hardy bark-like laugh as he recollected his date with Ellen Shimpling to James and Remus.  She was quite the girl, he had to admit, but he was sure that he wouldn’t ask her out again anytime soon.  The whole time she was whining about never being noticed by any boys.


“So I told her maybe it wasn’t that they didn’t notice her; it was because they were trying not to notice her.  And you know what she said… But you’ve noticed me, haven’t you?’ and she winked and tried to cuddle up to me.” Sirius shook his head in disbelief, “I’m telling you, I turned my tail and ran.  Unbearable, that woman.”


“At least you’ve had someone ask you…” James shook his head; “Lily hasn’t even talked to me since this whole Girls Preference Week started!  Honestly, you think you know a girl.”


“Maybe she’s trying to teach you some humility,” said Remus, as usual the voice of reason.


“Hey, I don’t see any girls lining up to ask you,” James retorted.


To this Remus only smiled furtively.


“Who ever made up this Girls Preference thing has got to have been crazy!” Sirius gave a sigh.


“It was that Emmaline Vance from Ravenclaw and her boyfriend Anthony Clearwater,” Remus informed them, “they thought it would be fun.”


Emmaline Vance has a boyfriend?” Sirius burst out.


“Yeah, ever since school started this year, why?”


“Uh, no reason, I definitely haven’t dated her since uh...s-s-summer…” feeling his face going red, Sirius turned away.  He would have to talk to that girl about keeping secrets from him.


“Sure, just like you haven’t dated Ellen Shimpling.” James burst into laughter. “Honestly, Padfoot, you need a girlfriend so you’ll stop stealing the poor Ravenclaw boys’ girls.”


“I honestly had no idea…”


Rolling on the floor in fits of laughter, Remus finally regained his composure enough to continue talking. “What do you both think about Catherine Whisp?”


But he never heard what they thought of her. At that moment the dormitory door swung open and Peter Pettigrew walked in.


“That Rosier is unbearable!” He flopped onto his bed. “I’m telling you, his detentions are the worst in the world!  80 empty jars crusted with bits of spider skins.  Sick! Sick! Sick!  I’ll never get the smell of that awful Muggle cleaner off my hands.”


Sirius laughed again. “Try to get Mara Malkin to notice you smelling like that!”


“Well I don’t see any Sally Basil fighting her way to date you!” Peter retorted.


“Peter….” James warned.


Sirius sighed. Peter was right, and a girl not noticing him was something that didn’t happen very often.  After sitting beside her in potions for almost seven years, Sirius had still not managed to ever get more than a hello out of her.  She was one of the few girls in the school who hadn’t given him a second look.


“Sirius, you’ve got to get over her,” Remus condoled. “She’s just never going to crack.”


“If James can get Lily Evans to give him a chance, I can get Sally to give me one!” Sirius frowned.


“If you call that giving me a chance,” James rolled his eyes. “She’s so confusing all the time.  Sometimes she’ll be funny and witty and hang out with me all I want, and then she’ll pull something like this and not ask me out during this stupidly unofficial Girls Preference Week.”


“No one ever claimed girls make sense,” Remus pointed out.


Sirius shook his head. “So, what were you saying about that Whisp girl?”


“Well, what do you all think of her?”


“Nice girl.”


“Smart too.”


“Better than Lydia Viridian,” Peter added.


The room roared with three boys’ laughter.  Remus hated talking poorly about people behind their backs.


“The ice queen herself!” James clutched his stomach.


“What goes on in that girl’s head?” Sirius frowned. “Lydia gets top marks in the looks category without question, but she always makes me feel like I’d never even be good enough to tie her shoes.”


“I’ll agree with you there, no one could say she’s ugly… but she’s kind of intimidating.” Peter shifted uncomfortably.


“Catherine Whisp is nice, but why do you ask?” James calmed down a little.


Remus just blushed a little and sat back in his bed, letting the hangings hide him from view.


Remus has a daaaate!” Sirius sung and jumped onto his friend’s bed, catching him in a headlock. “Admit it, you’ve a date with her!”


“Okay, okay, okay!” Remus laughed as he struggled our of Sirius’s grip, “it’s true!  She asked me this morning.”


“When are you going?” James asked.


“Tomorrow night…”


“What are you guys doing?”


“I don’t know, she said she would have everything perfectly planned.”


Sirius did his best girl squeal, “What are you going to weaaaar?  How will you do you’re haaairOhh this is soo exciting!”  He fanned his face with his hand and breathed deeply.


“I wish I had never brought it up!” Remus moaned and retreated once again to his bed.


“Oh, don’t sulk, Remus, I’m sorry…” Sirius grinned as he watched his friend hide. “Come on, who’s my favourite puppy? Come back boy. Here, boy!”


A pillow flew out from behind the bed hangings and hit Sirius squarely in the face.


“You asked for that one, mate!” James grinned and poked his head through the curtains surrounding Remus’ bed in time to get a pillow in his own face.  The subsequent laughing that emitted from the four-poster reassured the two that Remus hadn’t taken their comments too seriously.


“Maybe we could double, Grace asked me for tomorrow,” Sirius grew more serious.


“How is it you’re getting so many darn dates and I haven’t even been asked once yet?” James sighed in exasperation.


“Because you’re Lily’s.  And the girls like Lily so they’re not going to steal her boy no matter how handsome he is!”  A voice came from the doorway.  It was Andromeda in her nightdress, hair flying everywhere, a cheerful grin on her face.  She was utterly amused with the boy-talk she had just overheard.


“Andromeda, you’re not supposed to just come in like that!”  Sirius yelled indignantly.


“Well I knocked several times but you all were laughing so hard…”


“What do you want?” Peter and Andromeda had never gotten along.


“Sirius, you haven’t happened to have gotten any letters from your parents, have you?” Andromeda asked.


Nooooo, they haven’t written me since fifth year, why’d do you ask?” Sirius’s curiosity was sparked; he stood and walked to his cousin’s side.


Andromeda blinked at him for a moment, “It’s just… I’ve just gotten one from mine, and they seem to have this crazy notion that we--yes, both of us--will join them at the Black family reunion this Christmas.  They wrote about having a special guest….  I don’t think I’ll go but I think it’s odd that they suddenly want to make contact with us again…”


This time it was Sirius who blinked. “You’re kidding me…”


“No, its true.”


“Maybe they just hope we’ll come back to them. You know, stop being the Black black sheep,” Sirius grinned.  “Besides, the special guest couldn’t be anyone very interesting.  I mean, who would want to waste a day at a stupid family reunion.”


“Yeah, I was just wondering if you got any letters like it…”


“Don’t worry Andy, we’ll not let them thieve you away from us!” James assured her.


“Oh, I’m not worried, believe me,” Andromeda smiled at James. “I learned long ago to make up my own mind.”


“That you have… by the way, has Lily told you anything about asking people out this week?” inquired James.


Andromeda shrugged and turned with a grin. “She’s talked to me about a guy or two she seems to fancy at the moment.”  With a toss of her hair, Andromeda left the room as quickly as she had entered.


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