The Sugar Quill
Author: Katherina Black (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Isn't It Obvious?  Chapter: Default
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"You know, the more time I spend in this place, the more I'm starting to think it's seriously affecting my health." Sirius balled up yet another ruined essay and tossed it across the room, looking very annoyed. "I really don't think Professor Flamel likes me," he added, beginning afresh. Sirius liked to think he could charm his way out of anything, but this essay was also long overdue.

James looked up at once. "God, Sirius, he's already given you three chances - he's got a pretty nice way of not liking you. If it had been me or Remus, we'd be cleaning out his Grindylow tank by now. But you, you lazy bugger..." James put on a high voice. "I'm so sorry, sir - my toad's ill...I've just been out of my mind with worry...Oh thank you, sir, I knew you'd understand!"

While his friend continued to mutter ludricrous excuses in falsetto, Sirius grinned his acknowledgement - vaguely aware that he was sending two nearby Ravenclaw girls into a smothered fit giggles in the process. It wasn't that Sirius was intentionally loud; he simply never considered lowering his voice, even in the library. Sirius was too big for the library, or the library was too small for him; but at least nobody seemed to mind.

In fact, whenever their small group made a rare appearance in the library, their presence was generally felt - if only because of the uncommon number of screwed-up balls of parchment suddenly flying around and the occasional interludes where they were so bored they decided to suddenly break into loud, theatrical singing ("But Madam Scribbit, music helps you to concentrate!")

James Potter had achieved the near impossible task of being a top student while breaking almost every school rule ever written. As a result, he could afford to flip through his Quidditch trading cards while his friend scribbled feverishly.

"So...where is everyone?" said Sirius, at last signing his name on his essay with a flourish, and throwing aside his quill. "Please tell me why they're missing out on all this fun."

"Peter's gone to the owlery. You know, he misses his parents too much. It's really not good for him -"

"Ah, we'll just have to remind him that we're his family now," said Sirius, would-be gravely, yet not managing to suppress an incredibly mischievous glint in his eyes while he said it.

"Yes, and watch him run into the horizon," James finished. "And Remus is...AWOL. Again." James frowned and forgot his Quidditch cards as he confronted the mystery surrounding their friend. When he said AWOL, he meant, of course, absent without leave from them.

Sirius leaned forward. "Well, he was looking a bit peaky the other day...not that that's saying anything. I'm sure he gets ill more than anyone I know, including Peter, and he spends half his time taking Pepper-up."

"It's weird. I mean, one day he'll be fine and the next -"

"Tsk."

The short, derisive sound broke their conspiratorial manner. Both boys turned their heads, eyes soon settling on the girl sitting alone two tables away. She had her red head studiously buried behind a book, but the sound had undoubtedly come from her.

"What are you tutting at us for?" James remarked, nettled.

"Nothing," came the quiet voice from behind the book covers.

James was generally quite level headed - at least, more so than Sirius - and he liked to think that he knew exactly how far you could push a teacher before going too far, or when was the time to grab Sirius before he started to get violent. But about some things he could be unreasonable. Quidditch was one. Lily Evans was another.

"Yes you were!" he continued, a little louder, while his Quidditch cards lay forgotten and Sirius looked on in slight amusement. If one thing annoyed James above all others, it was how Lily could maintain a perfectly calm and indifferent countenance whenever she wanted to. "We were talking about Remus, and you -"

Lily had not quite forgiven James for playing a prank on her on her first week of school. Her magical powers had been unknown to her until the summer before, and she'd been self-conscious and nervous enough at Hogwarts without having a green tongue as well. Now she dropped the book from before her face, facing them with a pair of piercingly green eyes.

"Well I would have thought it was a bit obvious," she said, completely unruffled. "But if you don't know, then..."

James had not quite forgiven Lily for "accidentally" hexing him in Defence Against the Dark Arts during their second week at school. The class had been practicing how to block simple hexes, and they'd been paired to work together. Apparently little miss "Ice Queen" hadn't heard him say he wasn't ready yet; before James had time to raise his wand, she had administered a Freeze Hex, and he'd been left sneezing the rest of the week. Furthermore, Lily was extremely hardworking and clever, which meant that James had to work that much harder if he wanted to have the satisfaction of beating her in class.

"If you don't want to tell us, then don't," James stated, returning to his previous occupation, and sending a glare at the smirk on Sirius' face before he did so. Despite what Sirius maintained, his dislike for Lily Evans had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she didn't happen to fawn over him like a lot of other girls did.

"Fine." Lily, having now put away her book, stood up and flung her bag over her shoulder, walked past their table, and did it all with maddening aloofness.

"What's obvious, Lily?" Sirius called out to her, just before she disappeared in between the bookshelves. Sirius always asked things in this direct manner, no matter who or what he was asking.

A just audible mutter was heard from the black shadows between the tall bookshelves. "That you're both idiots?"

Sirius formed his mouth in the shape of an "o", and mimed giving a low whistle as the sound of the library door being shut with a creak and a thump broke the quiet which had followed the cutting remark.

"You can't possibly think that she does know anything?" said James.

"Well, aside from the fact that that she's the cleverest witch in our year, and she just as good as told us she does - why ever would I think that?" Sirius began to blow the ink dry on his parchment.

"She's probably just trying to wind us up, or get us to talk to her, or something," said James, brooding. He shrugged. "Anyway, I say we confront Remus and don't let him go until we've got it out of him."

"Or we could just ask Lily. That might be easier, since we have no idea where Remus is."

"Lily doesn't know anything," said James, firmly, as they began to walk out of the library.

"Okay, whatever you say." Sirius gave up. "Let's go and get Peter, and then we can plan our - ahem - entertainment for Thursday evening..."

 

*

 

"...Thursday evening," Harry told him. "Eight o'clock."

Ron glanced Harry sideways, but his friends' face was passive. He hoped, for Harry's sake at least, that these Anti-Dementor lessons were going to work. It had been horrible, when those things had appeared out of nowhere on the Quidditch Pitch. But everyone else had managed to stay on their brooms, hadn't they? Bloody Cedric had even managed to carry on playing.

Anyway. Hopefully, Professor Lupin could do something about that. If anyone could, Ron reckoned, he ought to be able to help. He was the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher they'd ever had, no matter what that git Malfoy said about him being shabby and...

"Still looks ill, doesn't he?" Ron voiced. "What d'you reckon's the matter with him?"

Harry was about to shrug - to be honest, as long as Professor Lupin was alive on Thursday, he didn't really care. It was extremely selfish, he knew, but...

It would begin with the chill, a completely paralyzing chill. Harry always felt like that chill was about to reach right through him and stop his heart. Then, through the freezing fog - softly at first; then so loud - the voices, the screaming...

"Tuh."

The loud, impatient noise made both boys turn to find Hermione sitting at the base of a suit of armour, fiddling with her bag, which was so full of books it couldn't close. When Harry glanced at Ron, it was like someone had already flicked on the "stubborn glower" switch in Ron's eyes.

"And what are you tutting at us for?" remarked Ron, defensively. Hermione stood up, heaving her bag on to her shoulder and wincing slightly with the weight.

"Nothing," she said, loftily.

"Yes, you were," Ron insisted. "I said, I wonder what's wrong with Lupin and you -"

"Well isn't it obvious?" Hermione burst out quickly. She looked, first at Ron, then at Harry, with what Ron considered maddening superiority. Ron's initial shock of finding out she'd had Harry's Firebolt - or ex-Firebolt, thanks to her - carted away, had worn off; but it had left behind a severe furiousness. The way he saw it, Harry was going to have enough trouble staying on his broom as it was, without being stripped of a broom to even stay on. And she would have go around looking so damn self-righteous about it, wouldn't she?

"If you don't want to tell us, then don't," he snapped.

"Fine," said Hermione, through gritted teeth. She pushed passed them, and joined the throngs heading to dinner; leaving Ron feeling as if the argument had not been settled to his satisfaction.

"She doesn't know," he said, staring after her resentfully. "She's just trying to get us to talk to her again."

Harry shook his head. His mind was more on Dementors than on Ron and Hermione's incessant bickering, or rather, lack of it, now. And he did wonder, briefly, whether having his Firebolt back would make him feel any better about those things.

That thought was dismissed immediately. Of course it would.

//
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