The Sugar Quill
Author: jynx67  Story: That's What Friends Are For  Chapter: Default
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That's What Friends Are For

That's What Friends Are For

by jynx67

 

 

 

 

A half-unconscious young man was lying under a table. The bar's proprietor poked at him with a broom. "Come on now, time to go. We're closed."

The young man pulled himself out and stood, brushing the non-existent dirt from his robes as he yawned. "Sorry," he muttered as he stumbled towards the door.

 

She shook her head sadly, watching him leave. He'd been here every day for the past month and every night she'd had to chase him out. So depressed he seemed, unlike the normally boisterous boy she had known for several years. She had always enjoyed when he and his friends would bound into the bar so happy and carefree. She wondered what had happened to him, what had made him so glum? Moving over to the long, ornate bar, she pulled out a piece of parchment and scratched out a quick note to a very good friend.

 

 

 

Outside on the cobblestone road, he dragged his feet along, nearly making himself trip. Another yawn escaped his lips and he looked up at the dark sky. There was no moon tonight, but the stars shone brightly. A deep frown fell across his features. Sneaking a glance to his side, he saw no one and shifted his features. He shook his new body from head to tail with nary a sound.

 

He padded down the street, his eyes searching lest he be noticed by anyone. Turning down an alleyway, he saw the familiar box with the discarded fabric patches inside. Climbing into the box and turning around several times before lying down, he curled up and closed his eyes.

 

His thoughts drifted to his friends. He wondered what they were doing right now. They all were probably home curled up in their beds having sweet dreams and not even thinking of him at all. He sighed deeply and his head shifted as he whined. Oh how he wished he was with them, any of them. He missed their jokes. He missed hearing them snore. This lonely box was nothing like the round room with six, huge beds covered in long, red draperies. He missed the warmth, the trips to the kitchen, the delicious food. His stomach growled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten in several days. No, he needed to stop thinking and just move on. Slowly, his thoughts dispersed and he fell into a deep, tired sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

James Potter sat at the table eating breakfast with his parents when a familiar tawny owl appeared at the window. His brow furrowed, wondering why he would be getting an owl from Hogwarts this early. Schedules weren't due for another few weeks. "I've got it," he said as he jumped from his chair to let the bird in.

 

The owl dropped a letter in his hand and immediately flew back out the window. Obviously they don't expect a reply, he thought to himself of who had sent it as he opened the letter. He had to squint to make out the signature and his eyes widened as soon as he realized who it was. "Dumbeldore?" he questioned aloud, forgetting his parents were in the room.

 

"What's that, son?" his father asked, lowering the <I>Daily Prophet</I> from in front of him.

 

His eyes scanned the parchment and his brow furrowed. "Merlin, Sirius. What's gotten into your head?" He spoke as he walked back to the table and flopping back down into his chair.

 

"What's wrong with Sirius?" His mother moved to look over his shoulder.

 

 

Mr. Potter,

 

I do not like to be the bearer of news of this type, but I felt you should know. Your friend, Mr. Black, has been seen rather consistently within the confines of the Three Broomsticks. Madame Rosmerta informed me this evening that she is afraid he is living somewhere in town alone. He seems quite despondent and is always very tired. We have attempted to contact his parents to no avail.  Perhaps you may wish to ask your parents if you can summon your other friends and go to find Mr. Black and escort him somewhere safe. I trust that you will do what is required, Mr. Potter.

 

Sincerely,

Albus Dumbledore

 

 

James' mother put a heavy hand on his shoulder. "Oh, the poor dear. You must bring him back here, James. Sirius should know he is welcome." The past several summers, Sirius and the other boys had visited, quickly becoming favored in the Potters' eyes.

 

His father's brow was furrowed beneath the black frames of his glasses. "What's that about Sirius?"

 

James looked up and sighed, "I guess he finally ran away from home. He's been talking about it for ages. You know how his parents are, all demanding and such." He shook his head sadly, looking at the parchment once again. "I'm going to owl Remus and Peter right away."

 

"That's a wonderful idea. I'm sure the three of you will be able to find him easily." His mother leaned down and kissed his forehead. "You're such a good boy, James."

 

He blushed, "Aw, Mum."

 

His father nodded in agreement. "Your mother is right. Sirius is always welcome here." Mr. Potter liked the young Black boy. He was so unlike most of his family, which was a good thing.

 

James wiggled out from under his mother and ran to go send messages to his friends. He was sure Peter would come, but Remus was going to be a maybe. If his father was out, Remus was sure to come.

 

 

 

Remus Lupin stood under the cover of the small lean-to at the Hogsmeade Station. The rain was coming down in sheets, making visibility minimal. He sat down heavily on a bench and was startled when he heard a squeak. Looking down, he saw a very wet brown rat scuttling away from him. "Sorry 'bout that, Wormtail," he said apologetically.

 

The rat's shape shifted into that of a pudgy boy with dirty brown hair. Peter Pettigrew shook his head, trying to dry himself somewhat. "That's alright, Remus," he smiled. "It was the fastest way I could get here. I stayed pretty dry too!" He grinned broadly at his accomplishment.

 

Remus couldn't help but return his smile. "That's good. So, do you have any idea why James called us here?"

 

The smaller boy shrugged and flopped down on the bench, his short legs swinging back and forth. "Don't know. Maybe he's planned a prank or something?"

 

"No, not a prank," came a disembodied voice from the corner. James shrugged his invisibility cloak off his shoulders, his face grim and determined. The rain slid off the cloak and onto the concrete below.

 

"Hello, Prongs," Remus greeted with a sigh. "Nice of you to let us know you were here."

 

James sighed in return. This was going to be hard enough, but if Remus was going to be his usual sarcastic self, things were about to get worse. "I'm sorry, Moony. It's just... Sirius is in trouble." He mumbled as he pulled a piece of parchment from his pocket and handed it to Remus.

 

The other boy read over the letter and his brow furrowed in thought. "What's he doing here then?"

 

"I want to see," Peter said as he climbed onto the bench behind Remus to read over his shoulder. "Oh dear, he finally did it, didn't he?"

 

"Did what?"

 

"Ran away from home," James answered. "He's been threatening all year. I guess it was just too much when he got home for break." He turned and looked out at the rain. It hadn't let up at all. Poor Sirius was probably out there somewhere soaked to the bone.

 

"And just when was someone going to tell me this?" Remus glared at his friends. He was always the last to know anything. He handed the paper back to James and stood. Yes, he was upset at his friends for keeping him in the dark, but finding Sirius was the first order of business. "We better get out there and find him." Producing an umbrella from under his cloak, he held it outside the lean-to and opened it.

 

Turning back to the other two, he looked at them incredulously. "Well? Are you coming or not? There's enough room for everyone."

 

True to his word, the umbrella kept them all dry. They walked down the platform and into the small town of Hogsmeade. Their first stop was the Three Broomsticks. James hoped that Madame Rosmerta had seen Sirius that day and would know where he was.

 

Today was not going to be their lucky day. Not only was it raining cats and dogs outside, rather ironically, but Madame Rosmerta had not seen Sirius for over a day. The rather dejected trio stepped back out into the soaked streets.

 

"Merlin, Padfoot, where are you?" James asked to nobody in particular.

 

Peter's face was wrinkled up in thought. "You don't think he'd go up to the Shack, do you? I mean, it's raining and all and it might be where he is staying."

 

Remus lifted a hand to ruffle the boy's hair. "And once again, Wormtail proves his worth." He laughed and began walking up the long road towards the place that was his home for one night every month during school. The Shack always looked eerily different during the day. Passing through the old, rusted gate, they made their way up the winding walkway to the front door.

 

About halfway up the walk, James grew impatient. He dashed out from under the umbrella and ran towards the door. He didn't hear his friends calling out to him. His only desire was to make sure Sirius was safe. Bursting through the front door, he stopped. Even though it was daytime, the Shack was still dark and gloomy. Pulling out his wand, he lit it and moved across the foyer into the living area.

 

"Sirius, are you here?" he called out as he walked along and looked into the dimly lit room. He was nearing the stairs when the others walked into the house.

 

"He's not here, James," Remus called out before he could set foot on the stairs.

 

He turned to look at his friends, "What makes you say that, Moony?"

 

The other boy tapped his nose. "Nothing much. I would think that if he'd been here at all I would be able to smell him, in either form."

 

James' shoulders slumped in defeat. "Why wouldn't he come up here? He knows it's safe and dry."

 

"Maybe he just didn't want to be seen coming up here," Peter shrugged. "Someone might follow and that would ruin the whole 'Shrieking Shack' feeling."

 

"Peter's right," Remus added. "He's probably been staying somewhere in town. Maybe one of the ladies has taken pity on him and given him shelter? Whatever the case, perhaps we should wait out the rain for a little while."

 

James nodded, completely dejected. He wanted to find his friend and soon. He was worried about him after the way Madame Rosmerta had talked about him. He moved over to sit down on one of the old, broken couches in the living area. Dust rose into the air as his bottom touched the cushion.

 

"I'm sure he's fine," Peter finally said after they sat in silence for a few minutes.

 

James looked out the window, watching the water drip down the pane and puddle in a hole on the sill. Waiting was always hard, especially for James. He hated not doing anything. And when his best friend was involved, it was even worse. With every ripple from every drop, he remembered everything he and Sirius had done together since they started school. Drip. Turning all the girls in school's hair pink. Drip. Discovering Remus was a werewolf. Drip. Becoming Animagi. Drip. Turning all the Professors' robes into dresses. Drip.

 

He felt a hand on his arm and looked up into Remus' deep eyes. " The rain's let up enough," he said softly. "Let's go find Sirius."

 

He nodded and let his friend pull him to his feet. The three friends left the Shack in search of their other companion. His heart felt a little lighter. He knew they would find Sirius soon, in perfectly good shape. Of course his best friend would be fine.

 

 

 

Once they stepped onto the main road, the rain had stopped completely. Peter immediately jumped into a puddle and laughed, splashing Remus and James. They chuckled and looked around. "Why don't we split up," James suggested. "We can cover more ground that way."

 

"Agreed," Remus answered. "Peter, you may want to... check out the back roads, if you take my meaning."

 

The smaller boy looked up a bit confused at first. Then he smiled and nodded. "Sure, I'll start behind the Three Broomsticks. Maybe he's back there."

 

"Good. I'll go right and you can go left, James."

 

James nodded in agreement. He started off down the left side of the street, checking every alley and side road. Just as he was getting frustrated, something made him check around Gladrags closer than he normally would. He saw the box outside the door, filled with old scraps. As he checked closer, the piece of wool on top moved and a black nose peeked out from under it. "Padfoot?"

 

Upon hearing his name, the large, black dog shook the strip of cloth from his head and looked up, his eyes focusing slowly on the boy before him. He recognized James immediately and bound out of the box to tackle his friend, licking his face like a faithful hound.

 

James' laughter alerted the seamstress and she poked her head out the back door. "Oh, is that your dog?" she asked.

 

James looked up, a large grin on his face. "Erm, yes. He's been missing for days."

 

"You best take him home. Food is scarce 'round here. I've fed him what I could." She tossed a few more scraps onto the box.

 

"Thank you, ma'am," he said and waited for the woman to close the door before turning back to his friend. He jumped back when he saw two stormy gray eyes staring back at him surrounded by long, scraggly black hair.

 

"What are you doing here, James?" Sirius asked as he helped his friend to his feet.

 

" What do you think?" he responded as he wrapped his arms tightly around Sirius. "We were looking for you."

 

"We?" Sirius stepped back a bit, afraid that James had brought his parents. "Who told you I was here?"

 

"Yes, we, as in Peter, Remus and me. You see, Madame Rosmerta sent Dumbledore a note saying you were here alone and he let me know and you know I couldn't just let you live here alone. Why didn't you come to my house? You know Mum and Dad would welcome you."

 

Sirius ran a hand through his wet raven locks. "I didn't want to burden you and your family," he muttered.

 

James reached forward and cuffed him lightly upside the head. "You are not a burden. You know how much Mum and Dad love you. C'mon. You're my bloody friend!"

 

He looked at the ground, embarrassed that James was so upset with him. Before he could respond, he found himself being hugged within an inch of his life. "Siri! James found you!" Peter had suddenly appeared and wrapped his arms tightly around him.

 

Sirius couldn't help but let a smile come to his lips. Leave it to Peter to bring him back to reality. The kid was a little naive at times, but he always seemed to cheer them up when they were feeling down. He hugged Peter in return taking in the warmth of his friend. "Sorry to have worried you, Peter," he said softly. "That wasn't my intention."

 

"But you did run away from home," James stated. At his friend's nod, he let out a sigh. "Sometimes I wish you'd think about us, too. We're your friends. We're here to help."

 

The other boy shrugged in response. He knew they were worried, but he just couldn't bring himself to go anywhere he might not be wanted. He was tired of that and never wanted to feel alone again. He looked up at the end of the alley and saw Remus.

 

The tall boy wandered towards them. Their eyes met and an unspoken message went between them. They both understood. "'Lo, Sirius. Hungry?" Sirius nodded and blushed as his stomach growled. Remus smiled glad his friend was not injured, just lonely. "Let's go see Madame Rosmerta. I'm sure she will have plenty to eat."

 

Peter led the way, James and Remus walking on either side of Sirius. They walked in silence for a while until Remus spoke. "You can come stay at my house," he offered. "I wouldn't mind the company."

 

Sirius tilted his head towards him. "I'd like that," he answered. "I could stay with you during the full moon."

 

"And you can stay with me the rest of the time," James added. "And you can come too, Remus."

 

Sirius lifted his arms and wrapped them around James and Remus' shoulders. "Thanks," he said softly.

 

James and Remus spoke simultaneously. "That's what friends are for."

//
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