The Sugar Quill
Author: Jo Wickaninnish  Story: The Marauders: Year Three  Chapter: Chapter Two: The End of Summer
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The End of Summer

The End of Summer




The Pettigrews, Remus, James and Sirius sat at the kitchen table eating their supper and discussing the events of the previous night. The entire group had returned to the Pettigrew home early in the afternoon and, shortly after arriving, Peter’s sisters and their husbands had headed off to their own homes, both claiming long drives. (Although Emily had leaned over to Sirius and muttered a rather amusing comparison of Mrs. Pettigrew’s cooking to prison food and rat poison.)

“So they had no idea what happened?” James asked once more, spearing a piece of broccoli with his fork.

“All they were able to figure out was that the campers staying at the site disappeared and there was a clear sign of struggle,” Mr. Pettigrew repeated sadly.

Mrs. Pettigrew shivered. “It’s so horrid. To think if that lunatic had only picked a campsite a few over… it could’ve been any of us.”

Mr. Pettigrew stepped in quickly to change the subject. “Are you boys all packed? Are you going to be traveling by… fire… again? How is this to work?”

“Well, my mum and dad are going to pop in and travel back with me, I think,” James said.

“Pop in, dear?” Mrs. Pettigrew asked, as she spooned more mashed potatoes onto all four boys’ plates, despite their protests of being full.

Erapparate. They just sort of appear… out of thin air, I suppose you’d say,” James amended, poking at the mashed potatoes with his fork.

“And you, dear?” She turned to Remus.

“Oh, I’ll just be going by Floo. My grandparents will meet me on the other side,” Remus replied quickly.

“Sirius?”

“Oh, I’m heading over to the Potters from here and going to Kings Cross with them,” Sirius told the woman as he knocked his silverware purposefully on the floor.

“Oh dear, let me get you another set.” Mrs. Pettigrew got up from the table to get the silverware and all four boys quickly scraped the extra mashed potatoes into the fern that sat in the middle of the table. At the last second, they remembered Mr. Pettigrew and glanced over to him. He appeared to be biting back laughter as he shoved his own extra mashed potatoes on top of theirs and quickly dumped some dirt on top, exchanging a conspiratorial wink with the boys who all stared back at him in shock.

“Here you are, Sirius.” Mrs. Pettigrew placed the silverware down in front of him. “My goodness, you all are certainly hungry tonight. More potatoes, anyone?”

“No,” the five males at the table chorused.

“Oh, we’re just far too full, Mrs. Pettigrew,” Remus quickly amended.

“But it was a lovely dinner dear,” Mr. Pettigrew added, rising from the table to put his plate in the sink.

Mrs. Pettigrew opened her mouth to reply but was cut off by a loud ‘pop’ and two voices calling out from the hallway.

“Hello?” a distinctly masculine voice resounded.

“Mr. or Mrs. Pettigrew?” a female one followed.

Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew both looked frightened for a moment until they noticed James’ large grin. “That’s my parents. Sirius and I’ll go grab out stuff.”

“I’d best get mine and head out too,” Remus added, following the other two boys out of the room.

“Lovely to see you again, Mr. Potter.” Mr. Pettigrew rose to shake hands.

Mrs. Pettigrew and Mrs. Potter both did the same.

“Oh dear, I’m so glad to see that you’re all alright. We were so worried when we read the Daily Prophet this morning. An attack right were James said you’d be camping. My heart nearly gave out,” Mrs. Potter said quickly.

“The Daily Prophet?” Mr. Pettigrew asked.

“Our newspaper, like the London Times, I’d reckon,” Mr. Potter replied and then turned to Peter. “Good evening, Peter.”

The chubby, blonde boy grinned at the man who was an older, taller replica of James Potter. “Good evening, Mr. Potter.”

“But what was that incident doing in your newspaper?” Mr. Pettigrew asked, still confused.

“Well they attacked the campers with the Cruciatus Curse. Horrible really… they’re off at the Ministry having their memories modified,” Mrs. Potter replied, sitting down at the table when Mrs. Pettigrew gestured for her to do so.

“Excuse me?” Mrs. Pettigrew asked just as Peter muttered in a horrified tone.

“The Cruciatus Curse…”

“What is that, Peter?” Mrs. Pettigrew turned to face her son.

Peter paused for a moment. “It’s… a curse, which means it’s not really… good. It hurts and it’s illegal.”

“Muggle torture. The lunatic seems to have toned down his attacks. Going more for intimidation and torture than death recently, most of it doesn’t even make it into the papers,” Mr. Potter said, sitting down next to his wife.

“The lunatic?” Mr. Pettigrew asked, concerned.

“Voldemort,” Mr. Potter told him. Peter winced at the name.

“Who’s this Voldemort man, Peter?” His father was peering intently at him.

Mr. Potter raised an eyebrow and looked over to Peter. “You haven’t told your parents about this?”

“Well it’s not as though there’s anything they can do, now is there…” he mumbled, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“Well then, who is he?” Mrs. Pettigrew asked.

“A dark wizard who has absolutely barbaric ideas about Muggle born witches and wizards,” Mrs. Potter replied, a look of anger splaying across her pretty features. “Unfortunately, the mindset of some of the older Wizarding families is that Muggleborns are inferior. Insane if you ask me, I’m half and half and a far better witch than many Purebloods that I’ve known… at any rate, initially they just wanted legislation that put a lot of restrictions on Muggleborns… the man behind all of this, Voldemort, has recently upped the stakes in his campaign.”

Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew sat silently for a moment. Finally, Mr. Pettigrew opened his mouth to speak.

“What’s being done to stop the man?”

Mr. Potter replied immediately, “Everything possible, there’s a group of us attempting to track him and his followers down. They’re good, but I’m absolutely certain that, in the end, we’re better. And we will get him soon.”

A large racket distracted them as the three teenage boys stumbled into the kitchen with their trunks.

“Ready Dad?” James asked, looking to his father.

Mr. Potter smiled at his son, stood up and shook Mr. Pettigrew’s hand again, followed by Mrs. Pettigrew’s. Mrs. Potter did the same.

“You boys go on now, we’re right behind you.”

“And my house had better still be standing when we arrive, Sirius Black.” Mrs. Potter glared at him sternly.

“We won’t be more than five minutes dear,” Mr. Potter said to his wife.

She gave Sirius an appraising look and then turned to her husband. “You underestimate him, Alexander.”

Mr. Potter raised and eyebrow at Sirius, who attempted to look back at him innocently.

James chuckled and pushed his friend towards the fire.

“See you next week, Peter, try to be on time this year, huh?” Sirius called over his shoulder before stepping into the fire.

“Bye, Peter,” James said to his friend and then followed Sirius through the flames.

“Alright then, Remus?” Peter asked his remaining friend.

“Alright, help me get this trunk in the fire, would you, Peter?” Remus pushed the trunk he’d packed for the week towards the flames and the two boys maneuvered it into position. “See you in a week, mate.” In a flash of green, he was gone.

“We’d best be off, it’s not wise to leave Sirius Black unattended for long periods of time,” Mrs. Potter told the Pettigrews with a smile.

“We’re well aware,” Mrs. Pettigrew replied as something caught her eye, causing her to lean in closer to the fern on the kitchen table. A perplexed look crossed her face but passed quickly as she bid the Potters a final farewell before they Apparated right out of the kitchen.

Mrs. Pettigrew shoved her hand into the fern and scooped out a handful of mashed potatoes.

Looking to her husband and son, she asked, “Would either of you gentleman care to explain this?”

 

~~*~~

 

 

Remus sat on his trunk in the entrance hall to his grandparents lodge. In an hour he and his grandmother would leave for Kings Cross and he was going to be certain they were on time. The last week hadn’t been so bad, Remus had spent most of it going over his homework, fielding frantic owls from James, Sirius and Peter begging for help on the massive load of homework that they all only seemed to begin that week, and catching up on his reading, just as he’d planned on doing.

Of course, he’d also kept up his weekly correspondence with Melissa, too, but that wasn’t something he planned to admit to many people. He’d been scared to death when he tied that first letter to Aziza, his grandparents’ ancient owl, but it had been worth it when the old barn owl had returned with Mel’s messy handwriting scribbled on the parchment. He kept all of the letters in his trunk, something he’d decided to do after a long debate over the possible discovery by another Marauder, but instead of opening his trunk to get them out to reread them for the hundredth time, he reached into his pocket to reread his favorite.

Remus,

 

Well that was a surprise, your owl showing up at my window, but it was a nice one. Any reminder of Hogwarts is nice during the summer. I’m not sure what you want us to talk about, but if we can come up with something, then sure, lets owl back and forth this summer.

 

I can tell you about my day if you want. I hammered my fingers. It hurt. You know what a hammer is right? If you don’t, I’ll explain in the next letter. Tessa came over earlier and we finished our Transfiguration homework. I think Lily would die if she knew.

 

Love from,

Melissa

Love from. It was the first letter she wrote back to him. He’d spent a better part of the summer daydreaming that someday he’d be able to show it to her and explain why he’d kept it and she’d laugh and then… Remus shook his head and shoved the letter back into his pocket.

He could hear his grandmother shuffling around in the kitchen and his grandfather coughing in their bedroom. It was so different here than how it had been at home. There his mother would’ve been obeying every little whim of his father and his father… well on good days, his father would be passed out in a drunken stupor, on bad days he’d be wide awake and more than happy to belittle his only son.

Remus closed his eyes and thought farther back to the dim and steadily growing dimmer memories of how it had been before he’d been bitten. His father had been proud of him; he’d walked, talked and shown magical ability well before even the most optimistic predictions. His mother had been the prettiest woman ever in his mind, an idea that slid far away once his father began drinking…

Remus winced and the cleared his mind.

Control, Remus. That’s how we do it. Control everything you can, and you can control this. Just don’t think about it. It’s good here and your grandparents love you even if you are a werewolf.

That thought led him to wonder how the Marauders were getting on with their Animagi work.

I really shouldn’t hope they succeed. It’s got to be dangerous. Actually, I’m dead certain it is, since none of them will really tell me what goes into all of it. I’ve read that book James gave me cover to cover, but it doesn’t detail the full process… he must have other books for that.

 The boy winced again and made a dreadful face at the thought of his best friends doing something dangerous because of him.

They’re very talented, even Peter is sometimes, but I don’t think they’ll get it down. I don’t know what I’ll do if they do. ‘Thanks for trying guys, but I absolutely forbid you to come with me because something, anything could go wrong.’

Remus shook his head.

They’d never let me get away with that. I just hope they never get it.

But part of you hopes they do.

“You again.” Holy Harpies, I said that aloud.

Gran is going to think you’re mad.

She’s already expressed a concern about that issue, as you well know.

It’s the whole suicide rate thing, I suppose.

Isn’t it always? Either I scare people away because of what I am, or I scare people away because of what I might do because of what I am. It’s a lovely life, really.

You don’t scare them. They worry, yes, but they’re not scared.

I know.

That’s why you want them to succeed, to be able to keep you company, to stay with you all the time.

But something could go wrong. Hell, knowing us, something will go wrong.

You don’t care, deep down, you just want to run wild and free… with them. The wolf wants company.

Remus let out a quiet, harsh laugh.

The wolf wants dinner, and if they do this incorrectly, that’s exactly what he’ll get.

They won’t do it incorrectly, but even if they do, you’ll fight, they’ll win and they’ll get their chance to try… even if it does compromise everything you hold dear.

Even if they think they’ve managed it, I’m not going to let them try because they are the only thing I hold dear and I won’t let anything happen to any of them, especially because of me.

“Ready then, sweetheart?” the elderly Mrs. Lupin called from the kitchen. “Come eat something before we leave.”

“I’m really not hungry, Gran.”

“Remus, you wouldn’t disappoint your grandmother and insult her cooking by rejecting something so simple as a piece of toast when I know good and well you’ll be gorging yourself on chocolate frogs on the Hogwarts Express.” Her good natured voice chided from the kitchen, causing Remus to roll his eyes but rise off his trunk and join her there.

He sat down and buttered a piece of toast, then began picking at it.

“Are you excited? A third year, my you do grow up so fast, I can remember when you were small enough to fit in the palm of your grandfather’s hand.” Mrs. Lupin’s eyes took on a faraway reminiscent look.

Remus quickly cleared his throat. “We’d really better go, Gran. My friend Peter nearly missed the train last September and I really don’t want that to happen to me.”

His grandmother shook her head slightly and smiled across at her grandson. “Of course, dear, gather up your things and we’ll head out.”

The two Lupins rose from the table, Remus several inches taller than his short grandmother, and cleared the plates away quickly.

“Are you going to say good-bye you your grandfather, Remus?” Her voice broke the silence, sadly and quietly as both were sure the man wouldn’t live to see his grandson return at Christmas.

“Of course, Gran… I’ll go now,” Remus replied, equally quiet, and slowly made his way over to their bedroom.

He knocked on the door and let himself in. “Morning, Gramps. We’re leaving soon.”

The old man offered a weak smile that in its heyday was identical to the one Remus had. He motioned for his grandson to enter the room and sit down. Once Remus settled himself, the old man opened his mouth.

“Dark times are coming, my boy,” Mr. Lupin rasped. Remus winced, but nodded. “Your father was a prat and… I’m sorry. I failed him and in doing so, I failed you.”

“No you didn’t, you and Gram are-”

The elderly man cut him off. “But there’s no use living in the past and dredging up regrets.” He paused a moment and took a deep, rattling breath. “You’ll have to choose a side, boy, and the dark side will seem the easiest decision.”

“I’d never go-”

“I didn’t say you would.” The old man’s hand lightly clasped the younger one’s. “But it always seems easiest. Just remember, remember for always, that what is simple and what is easy is rarely ever right. You need to decide what you believe and stand for it.”

“Yes, sir,” Remus replied solemnly. There was a pregnant silence. Just as Remus was about to get up and leave, thinking the old man had fallen back asleep, he broke the silence again.

“There’s a piece of paper in the trunk at the end of the bed. I think it’ll help you… when I was at Hogwarts, well… my friends and I never managed to complete it. I overheard something you said once this summer and thought it might be useful to you and your mates.”

Remus walked over and opened the trunk.

“The rolled up bit with the green ribbon, aye that’s it,” Mr. Lupin rasped. “Don’t open it until you’re on the train.” He smiled ruefully, but the smile was still full of love. “Your Gran wouldn’t appreciate this the way we do.”

“Yes, sir,” Remus said, a lump forming in his throat as he glanced over at the man who’d taken him in and loved him after his parents had died.

“Remus!”

Both men turned their heads towards the door at the sound of Remus’s grandmother hollering down the hallway.

“We’ve got to head off now, dear.”

“Goodbye, Gramps. I’ll see you over Christmas,” Remus said to the frail old man in the bed.

“Perhaps you will, my boy. Have a good term now. Don’t torture your Gran with too many owls from McGonagall, alright?”

Remus let a real smile float to his lips. “I’ll try.” Then he turned and headed out of the dark room, clutching the roll of parchment tightly.

 

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