The Sugar Quill
Author: Jo Wickaninnish  Story: The Marauders: Year Three  Chapter: Chapter One: Camping
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Author’s note: So there’s been a bit of a lapse between the end of the last story and this one

Author’s note: So there’s been a bit of a lapse between the end of the last story and this one. Hopefully it won’t be a year until the next chapter goes up, but… no promises. Grad school is much more time consuming than undergrad ever was, so I beg you for an inordinate amount of patience.

And, to everyone reading, thanks. I hope something in here amuses you. I definitely found it much more interesting to go over again than the paper I’m supposed to be writing.

Chapter One: Camping

 

It had been a long summer so far, the longest Peter could ever remember. He longed for the boredom of the previous summer. Weekly he received owls from Remus, Sirius and James, all filled with more disturbing news than the previous one.

Remus’s grandfather was ill, and both Remus and his grandmother were worried about him. On top of that, rumors had been spreading that You-Know-Who (Peter shook his head, V-v-voldemort, you big baby, if the others can call him that, you can, too) was trying to enlist Dark Creatures, especially vampires, giants and werewolves into his slowly growing army. This made Remus even more fearful of how people would react if they found out about him.

Sirius’s letters were all about his family. His cousin Bellatrix couldn’t wait to get out of Hogwarts and join up with the Death Eaters. His brother Regulus looked up to Bellatrix as though she were a goddess and, being devoid of the ability to think for himself, he too couldn’t wait to join up with the Death Eaters.

Primarily to please their mother, Peter thought sadly. That’s something Sirius has given up on completely.

James’s letters were the worst by far. His father was working hard against Voldemort, and the entire family was a target because of it. Peter held his breath every day when he met up with Lily to read the Daily Prophet, certain that one day the Potters’ names, all of them, would emblazon the front page.

Even in Little Whinging he couldn’t escape the fear as he had last year. Lily Evans had been true to her word and subscribed to the Daily Prophet as soon as school had let out and the two met daily to read it, fearful of seeing a schoolmates name in bold print.

Yet somehow, despite all the rumors and the fear, nothing seemed to be happening. As the Wizarding world waited with baited breath for Voldemort’s next move, he seemed hesitant to make one.

“So how old is she, Peter?”

Peter shook his head, attempting to clear it, and tried to remember what they had been discussing. “Oh, right. Only a few months, she was born back while we were at Hogwarts, but to listen to the way Sirius raves about her you’d think she was the most amazing child ever.”

“But a metamorphmagus? Really, I’ve read about them, they’re quite rare.”

Peter smiled. “You’ve read about everything, Lily. Yeah, I suppose. He’s trying to teach her how to say Sirius… I don’t think she’s even six months old yet.”

Lily laughed. “Well I’m glad Sirius managed to get away from that horrible family of his for a few days.”

The two were sitting in Lily’s room on Privet Drive. The weather outside was unbearably hot and humid, so Mr. and Mrs. Evans had agreed to allow the two to remain in the house while they went to work. Petunia was supposed to be there to watch over them, but she’d left immediately after they had, threatening the two with death if they told the Evans’ that she’d left.

“How’s Melissa doing?”

Lily smiled wryly. “She’s working for her dad again. She said that her mum and dad refused to stop living their lives just because of the attack… but they sent her little brother to stay at her grandparents. They wanted to send her too, and she’s going later in the summer, but she got them to agree to let her stay with them for a bit.”

“And news from Becca, Tessa or Alice?”

At that Lily burst into laughter. “Becca turned her cousin Minnie into a newt. She was stuck like that for four days. When they managed to turn her back, the family decided it might be best if Becca went back to Britain.”

“Couldn’t she get in trouble for that?”

“Oh, she did. Official warning from the Ministry. She would’ve been in a lot more trouble if her mother didn’t know everyone in the Ministry,” Lily said, her eyes widening as she shook her head. “But you know Becca, she just finds it all amusing.” She flopped back on her bed. “Do you suppose he’s given up, Peter? It feels too quiet. I mean… maybe Voldemort’s realized…”

“Realized what, Lily?” Peter asked sadly, standing up from where he’d been sitting on the floor and crossing over to look out her window. “That he’s a bloody lunatic? I don’t know why it’s so quiet…” He shook his head. “Can we talk about something else?”

He kicked at a brightly wrapped box and then leaned over to pick it up and shake it. “What is this?”

Lily glanced up to see what he was talking about. “Alice’s birthday gift. I’m going to give it to her next week.”

“What is it?”

“A big box of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum. She loves the stuff… it’s an unhealthy obsession.”

Peter chuckled and nodded as he easily recalled the fact that Alice usually was chewing gum.

Lily sighed and rolled over onto her stomach. She began digging under her bed. “Ah ha!” She sat up and unrolled a parchment. “It appears our old pal Boger the Ugly has returned in full force and attempted to take over the Ministry several centuries ago.”

Peter groaned. “Not History of Magic. Sweet Merlin, Lily, you can kill a fun summer day quicker than anyone I know.”

She flashed him a grin and tossed him a piece of parchment and a quill. “Might as well get your homework out of the way. Come on, Peter, didn’t you say the other blokes were coming to stay with you next week? Going camping or some sort of male bonding nonsense? You might as well get this done now instead of scrambling to finish it during the last week of vacation, like last year.”

Peter glared at her but settled in at her desk to work on his holiday homework while Lily triple checked hers on her bed.

 

~~*~~

 

 

“Remember now, we’re all Muggles,” Peter emphasized to the other three boys. They stood in front of the Pettigrew house.

“Explain to me exactly why Muggles feels the need to wake before the crack of dawn to go on this camping expedition?” Remus moaned and yawned at the same time.

“Where do these go?” James sleepily gestured towards the four back packs that were heaped on the porch.

“Well, they’ll go in the car, with us. We packed everything else last night. But we’ve got to wait for Emily and Marietta to get here.” Peter sat down on the porch, hugging his knees to his stomach.

“Your sisters?” Sirius asked, bouncing around excitedly.

“Mmhmmm,” Peter replied sleepily, resting his head against the railing. He glanced to his right and noticed that Remus had curled right up on the porch, using one of their back packs as a pillow and gone back to sleep.

Sirius plopped down next to James and managed to engage the groggy, messy haired boy in some half conscious Quidditch talk. This continued until two cars pulled up simultaneously to the front of the Pettigrew home.

James and Sirius stopped talking long enough to watch two girls who looked remarkably like Peter with longer hair jump from the passenger seats and run squealing towards one another. The one in the plaid shirt and jeans looked as though she might be younger to James and the other was clearly pregnant. As the two women embraced, two men emerged from the vehicles and shook hands.

Suddenly the attention of the two women was diverted towards Peter, who was nodding off against the railing and hadn’t even noticed their arrival. They swooped down on him and he let out a surprised, but pleased, yell.

“Oh my goodness Peter, look at you.”

“What’re they feeding you at that school of yours? You’re huge!” 

Peter broke away from the two women with an embarrassed grin on his face. “It’s too early for this,” he muttered, but there was happiness clear in his voice.

“Marietta,” Mrs. Pettigrew exclaimed from behind the boys, as she pushed her way through the screen door. “Goodness, look at you.” Mrs. Pettigrew grabbed her daughter into a big hug.

The woman with the large belly that James had now narrowed down to being Marietta laughed. The man James assumed was her husband walked up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Emily-” Mrs. Pettigrew turned to her other daughter. “When can we be expecting grandchildren from - ”

 “Don’t start, mum. You’ll have plenty of grandchildren, I’m sure. Why don’t you start on Peter to find a nice girl or something?”

“I’m thirteen,” he squeaked from where he stood, turning red at the thought of creating grandchildren with some ‘nice girl’.

Emily chuckled. “There’s nothing wrong with my memory, Peter. I know how old you are.” She shook her head amusedly. “Well, are we going to get going, or what? Can you all even fit in there?” She gestured towards the packed station wagon.

“Two of you can drive down with us,” Marietta offered.

“That’ll work just fine then, dear. Put your bags in the car, boys,” Mr. Pettigrew instructed as he locked up the house.

The three boys looked at one another and then Sirius broke the stillness. “I call Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew’s car.” He grabbed his back pack, which happened to be the one Remus had claimed as a pillow, thus causing his head to thud into the cement of the porch, and dashed towards the packed station wagon. Remus shook his head half consciously and picked up his back pack.

“I’m not riding with that.” He gestured in Sirius’s direction. “It’s far too early to deal with him.”

“Well then, you’re coming with us,” Marietta said graciously. “The blue car, come on then.” She and Remus started across the lawn quietly. James shrugged and picked up his own back pack, then he crossed the lawn and piled into the Pettigrew’s station wagon next to Sirius who was having far too much fun rolling the car window up and down.

Peter, grabbing his own back pack, hastened towards Sirius, hissing, “Act like a bloody Muggle, you loon.” He shot James one last pleading look, and then crossed to his sister’s car, climbing in next to Remus, who was already fast asleep again.

A few moments later, Marietta and her husband climbed into the car and the four were off, following the Pettigrews with Emily and her husband behind them. Peter shook his head worriedly as he saw Sirius in the car in front of them gesturing excitedly at the stop light and even James seemed far too interested.

Peter hoped Marietta hadn’t noticed until she giggled. “You certainly found some characters to become friends with Peter. Look at him, Eugene, you’d think they’d never seen a stop light before.”

Eugene laughed as Peter sighed and sunk into his seat, thinking that it was going to be a long week.

 

~~*~~

 

 

“So we get to play with fire?” Sirius asked that afternoon, his eyes had been widened in a perpetual state of excitement since their arrival earlier that day.

“No,” Remus and Peter both replied quickly.

“I really don’t think play is the correct word, Sirius,” Remus continued quickly, looking imploringly at Peter.

“No, no, definitely not play,” Peter agreed. “And - ” The boy reached cautiously for the box of matches his excited friend held in his hands. “ - I think maybe I’d best do this. Erm… you lot can go find some more sticks. We’ll need a lot more than what we’ve got here tonight.”

The boys had a large tent set up several meters away from the three the adults had set up, and it gave them all a feeling of independence. Setting it up had been rather uneventful aside from Peter occasionally hissing at James or Sirius because of their comments (‘bloody hell, how do they do this without magic, Pete?’ from James and ‘amazing, bloody amazing’ from Sirius, which was actually a constant observation from him).

Peter shook his head as he thought of earlier when Emily had asked him if Sirius was ‘alright, you know what I mean Peter? Is he all there?’ Although in most other circumstances Peter would’ve found that question quite amusing, here he had just groaned and walked away, leaving his older sister slightly confused and rather amused.

With years of family camping excursions under his belt, Peter was able to quickly tent several sticks in the fire pit and light a good sized fire. He looked up as he heard footsteps approaching and smiled as he saw Marietta slowly waddling over towards the boys’ campsite.

“Mare,” he acknowledged with a grin.

“Peter,” she replied, slowly lowering herself to the ground next to him.

“Are you sure you should do that?” he asked anxiously.

“Sit?” She looked at him and rolled her eyes.

“On the ground.”

This time she groaned aloud, and Peter, misinterpreting it, jumped up to run for Eugene.

“Would you sit down, you bloody lunatic. I’m fine. I’m just pregnant, it’s not a terminal illness,” she patted the ground next to her and the chubby boy sat back down. “So how are you? I rarely ever see you anymore it seems. A few days at Christmas and that’s all… How’s school?”

“School is good,” he replied cautiously, jabbing a spare stick into the fire.

“You met these friends of yours there?”

“Mmm.” Peter made a sound of agreement.

She poked him lightly.

“What?”

“You never used to shut up, is all, and now you’re all quiet and reserved whenever Em or I are around. When you were little, I would’ve killed for a moment of silence with you… now I just wish you’d talk. What’s your favorite class in school?”

Peter froze for a moment and then blurted out, “Biology.”

“They already teach biology at your school? Good heavens, they didn’t start that until Fourth Year at Smeltings,” she mused.

Herbology… biology… they both deal with plants, not entirely a lie, right Peter? he thought to himself. Nice quick thinking, you aren’t a Marauder for nothing after all.

“Yeah well they’re… progressive,” he said, not even entirely sure what the word meant.

“Certainly seems like it. Mum and dad say you’re happy there. Those three are your dorm mates, then? That Remus seems nice enough when he’s awake.”

“Yes well… he’s… sick a lot. And yes, they’re my dorm mates.” We really should just tell them. I mean… for Merlin’s sake, Marietta could have a magical child, it skips tons of generations sometimes, they say. I don’t see why Mum and Dad want to keep it a secret from them. He shook his head.

“Do you play any sports? What do you do for fun over there, Peter?” She peered curiously at him.

“I… er… no,” he stumbled, and then panicked at her inquisitive look. “We get detentions for fun,” he blurted out and then realized how completely ridiculous that was. “Well, not for fun… what we do that causes the detentions… that’s fun… I mean… sweet Merlin-” He stopped short. Oh please, oh please, oh please tell me I didn’t just say ‘sweet Merlin’ aloud. Oh no, oh no…he chanced a glance over at his oldest sister, who had one hand on her stomach, rubbing it slightly and a faraway look in her eyes.

The silence grew uncomfortably until Marietta broke it with, “Sweet Merlin?”

Peter tried to chuckle as he rambled. “I know what you’re going to say ‘kids these days and their slang’… that’s what Em always says when I say something weird…” He looked pleadingly at her.

She opened her mouth and closed it immediately as the sounds of the other three Marauders became heard through the nearby trees. She glanced at Peter very curiously and then began the huge effort it took her to get up. The blonde boy quickly jumped to his feet to help pull her up.

“I love you, Peter. You know that?” she asked, looking him right in the eye.

“Of course Mare, I love you too,” he muttered, looking down into the dirt as only thirteen year old boys can do as they declare their love and still manage to mean every word.

She started back over towards where the adults had all gathered lawn chairs and were chatting by their own fire as the three boys burst through the trees each carrying an assortment of objects.

“Shoes?” Peter asked, turning his attention to Sirius. “Why are you carrying dirty, old shoes?”

“For the fire,” he answered simply, getting ready to toss one into the flames.

How did you misinterpret sticks to be shoes?” Peter responded, completely bewildered as he started at the pile of mismatching shoes the boy had clearly found deserted in the woods, which he now held proudly as though they were a prized possession and he should be praised for finding such perfect specimens. “Shoes…?”

 

~~*~~

 

“Veritaserum? You brought… Veritaserum. Why do you even own that?” Remus asked, staring at Sirius.

“I don’t, Bellatrix does. I nicked it from her house before I left.”

Remus groaned and rolled his eyes. It was their final evening camping after a week in the woods. The adults had left the boys to themselves primarily and most of the week had been dedicated to teaming up against each other making one another miserable. The other three boys were quickly surprised at how adept Peter was at this in the Muggle world, but the short, chubby boy only laughed it off and claimed that it was a side effect to being a little brother.

“Oh come on Remus, don’t be a prat,” Sirius said, preparing to open the deck of cards.

“Please don’t Sirius, you know I don’t like that game.” Remus looked to the other two boys who just shrugged.

“Lighten up, Remus,” Sirius goaded, opening the deck and tipping the cards into his hand. “It’s our last night out here and then we won’t even see each other until we go back to school.”

“In a whole whopping week, you mean,” the brown hair boy replied dryly, eyeing the cards with distaste.

James chuckled and doled out four pieces of paper from his back pack as Peter scrambled to find four writing utensils.

“Alright then, first question, what was your most embarrassing moment?” Sirius stared thoughtfully up at the roof of the tent and then began to jot down his answer. “Well?”

“You first, Sirius, this was your idea,” James muttered, glaring angrily down at his paper and already regretting ever having decided to play this game.

“Regulus accidentally magicked me into a cow pasture and gave me horns and a tail when he was six. The cow got really confused. There was… an incident… udders and an angry bull…” Sirius hesitantly replied.

The other three boys burst into laughter.

“Good Merlin, Sirius, what did the bull do to you?”

“Is that why you’re scared of cows?”

Peter just rolled gleefully on the floor laughing hysterically.

 “Peter!”

Peter whirled towards the door of the tent as he heard his father’s voice, tinged with fear, calling his name and the jangle of the zipper as he began to open the tent flap.

“Dad?” the boy responded curiously, the laughter quickly dying in the tent.

The zipper finished sliding and the flap fell open, Mr. Pettigrew was silhouetted against the moonlight in the gap.

“You boys need to come over to our tents, right now.” His voice left no room for questions and the four boys immediately tumbled out of the tent and rushed over to the large tent Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew had spent the week in.

The five of them hurried inside and found the other five adults already inside, Eugene holding Marietta. Peter noticed that Emily and her husband were also sitting closely, and Mrs. Pettigrew heaved a sigh of relief as they entered.

“What’s going on, Mum?” Peter asked.

“We don’t know,” Emily replied quietly. “There were some odd lights and…” She trailed off, sniffling. “We were out collecting firewood earlier and I heard several screams. I ran back towards camp to make sure everyone here was alright…”

Eugene picked up when Emily trailed off again. “The screams were from the opposite direction, but… then there were those strange lights… even more of them.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing, dear,” Mrs. Pettigrew cut them off quickly. “But just in case… it all seems a bit odd, so I think it’d be best if we all spent the evening together… in here.”

The four boys looked at one another, Peter watched as James mouthed ‘screams’ and Sirius ‘strange lights’.

“I know it’s a bit cramped, but it’ll do for a night,” Mrs. Pettigrew continued, unaware of the four boys reactions. “Then tomorrow I’m sure the police will be here and they can tell us what happened.”

The group sat in silence for a long while until Emily curled up in the corner, a few moments later her loud snores were reverberating through the tent.

Slowly the rest of the occupants of the tent drifted off into sleep until Peter thought he was the only one still lying awake.

Strange lights and screams… there is just no way that there could be Death Eaters here, is there? It’s just some lunatic Muggle, I’m sure… none of us even have our wands. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. We should’ve known better than to go anywhere without them. Just a week ago Lily and I were saying we should constantly be on alert, it’s been too long since- His thoughts were cut off by a very quiet voice next to him.

“You never did tell Em or me where those scars on your neck came from Peter? Your friend Remus seems to have a similar one of his hand.”

Peter jumped, startled, and turned his head to look at his sister. She had swept up her blonde hair that was the exact same shade as his own under her head to act as a pillow and propped her feet up on her husband. Her hands were gently clasped around her large stomach and her blue eyes, tinged with grey, were barely visible in the night.

“Oh for Pete’s sake, Mare, you just took ten years off my life,” Peter whispered to her.

She chuckled softly. “Do you remember when you were little you were convinced it was for your sake? Sorry to startle you, I don’t sleep well these days.”

“I can’t believe I’m going to be an uncle.”

“You’re avoiding the subject.”

Peter thought for a moment. “There was a very large spider… it attacked me at school. Remus pulled it off my neck and it bit him, too. That’s why we both have scars.”

“Most spiders wouldn’t leave a mark like that.”

There was silence.

“It was big.”

The crickets chirped outside.

“You really should get some sleep, Mare. That can’t be good for the baby.”

She chuckled again, more softly then before. “I’m so sick of everyone telling me what’s good for the baby… as though I’d ever do anything to harm it. I swear you’ve been worse than Eugene this week.”

“Well, I don’t get to worry about you often enough,” Peter responded with a small grin that no one could see.

Marietta made a small murmur of mutual consent. “You should get some sleep Peter, we’ve got to deal with this mess in the morning and pack up to head home.”

“Yes, Marietta,” Peter sing-songingly intoned, smirking, as he curled up into a ball and moved to rest his head on his older sister’s arm.

“Goodnight, Pete.”

Peter yawned. “’Night, Mare.”



 

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