The Sugar Quill
Author: inyron (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Four Sins 1: Recklessness  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.


Story One: Recklessness


The Forbidden Forest was dark and damp and deep. And forbidden, which was probably its greatest virtue, at least in Sirius Blackís mind. James sometimes said, half jokingly, that revealing his invisibility cloak to Sirius was the biggest mistake heíd ever made. Heíd long since abandoned the principle that others could use the cloak only if he joined them. Sirius loved to steal it and go roaming, deeper and deeper. He wasnít afraid of anything; not getting caught, not getting in trouble, not getting eaten by the unknown beasts who growled and moaned rather creepily in the darkness, and sometimes even in the brightness of a lazy Saturday afternoon. When he was at school, around people, he made sure he was in the middle of things; the life of the party, or just the Transfiguration class, but even Sirius Black needed his alone time, so he was pleased that James gave up so easily his insistence on following him. But he did share some of his more exciting stories with his friends, most notably the time he met the centaurs and they recognized him, and talked about him like he wasnít even there. That had creeped the others out, Remus especially, since he knew about centaurs, but Sirius thought it was cool. Today was a Saturday, and he would normally be itching to go out, but he was doing something much more fun instead. Studying. Not that boring type Uric-the-Oddball studying, but learning about something he wanted to know. Something relevant. How to become an Animagus. It was the best idea James had ever come up with, although that wasnít saying too much; Sirius was usually the idea man for group projects. But even he had to admire the genius of this one. If they were in animal form, they could be with Remus every month when he transformed into a werewolf. Plus, well, he could be an animal at will! He could go farther than ever into the Forbidden Forest! He could execute plans in Hogsmeade under the perfect disguise! Helping Remus would just be a bonus, although a n ice one. And working on this all together made them happy, and a lot more comfortable than they had been in nearly a year.

The night they found out Remus was a werewolf stuck in Siriusí brain like a failed test whose consequences he couldnít ignore, even though he tried. It seemed unfair; they were only twelve years old, nothing that serious should have happened to his group of friends. A month later, he had gone out with the cloak to the Forest to sit quietly under the full moon and listen to all the sounds. It bothered him too much, so he didnít do that again, and just concentrated on acting like everything was perfectly normal. He hated to admit it, but he was glad James took the approach he did. First, (without Remus knowing) he researched all the methods of curing a werewolf, but that was unsuccessful, all the information was either on warding off, killing, or, in the case of the restricted section, different gruesome spells you could do with parts of a werewolfís body. Sirius was almost sorry he agreed to help James swipe those books. James spent a lot of time brooding after that, and reading an y literature he could get his hands on. Remus always looked really uncomfortable whenever he caught James with one of the books, and even though nothing was ever said, on all of those occasions, Sirius had to tail out of there and wander the forest.

But everything was okay now. After McGonagallís lecture on transfiguration, James had remembered that werewolves werenít a threat to and suggested that they become Animagi. Sirius had enthusiastically agreed, and even Peter wanted in, without them having to pressure. And then, miraculously, Remus was receptive to the idea. Receptive, then agreeable, then filled with barely contained enthusiasm. They were afraid he would have been awkward or embarrassed, like usual, but this idea focused on them, rather than him. And the more they worked at it, the more they promised they would do it for him, the more light came into his eyes, and the more he would talk to them about it; what it was like, what he remembered, how he was bitten, even- a little- how it felt. And even though they knew they still had years left to go, on they worked.


"Who has my beans?"


"My Every-Flavour Beans! Who has them? I want a couple more of the red ones."

"This one is kind of orange-ish."

"Give that here!"

"I donít have the bag, just this bean. Iím afraid of it."

"Be quiet, Peter, I have the bag. Iím picking out the white ones," Sirius said distractedly. James looked disgusted.

"The white ones? Theyíre all so horrible!"


"Here." Remus pushed the orange bean to Peter. "Have this one."

"Itís not red!"

"Maybe itís pumpkin."

"Maybe itís carrot, I had an orange one that was carrot once before."

"Doesnít look like carrot. Looks unnatural."

"Oh, this is impossible!" James heaved his book across the room. "Weíll never get to the next step until McGonagall teaches us intermediate living object transfiguration at least."

Sirius frowned exaggeratedly. "I though we agreed we didnít need McGonagall for anything. And that does look unnatural. Give it here."

"Youíre sure itís not pumpkin?"

"Itís impossible to learn that level of transfiguration out of a book, especially with less than three years experience. And donít eat that in front of me."

"I think youíre pronouncing it wrong."

"They should have books that pronounce things for you."

Sirius laughed at that one. "Books that say the spells? Iíd love that! You could open it up and the book would curse you with a hair-losing charm!"

"Sirius, I doubt sincerely a book would be able-"

"Shut up. Anyway, I thought it was a good idea. Besides, Iím not the one who got caught out of the dorms because I pronounced Ďnoxí wrong. Who pronounces Ďnoxí wrong?!"

"Shut up."

"You shut up! And give me my orange bean!"

James rolled his eyes at Remus, but he was grinning. Even Remus looked amused, probably remembering that night Sirius decided to try out those new spells; the first night they were at Hogwarts. But James knew he had to get them back on track, and he knew just how to do that. "Gosh," he said loudly, "I canít wait until this is over with and Iíll be able to turn into a cheetah."

"A cheetah? A cheetah? "Sirius turned to look at him doubtfully. "You wonít turn into a cheetah, theyíre all fast and graceful. Youíll turn into an ostrich." A cheetah? James is mental, thought Sirius. Cheetahs aren't indigenous to Hogwarts, youíd never be able to blend in as a cheetah.

"I want," said Peter importantly, as though this was the first time he had stated his opinion on this matter, "to be a bear. A very big and scary bear."

"Our Sirius is going to be a dog, of course. Heís stated so, many times, heíd be so embarrassed if he turned out to be-"

"A millipede?"

"Nah, a centipede."

"A pissant." Laughter followed by Sirius whacking everyone with his pillow.

James took on a thoughtful expression. "I do wish you could choose your animal. It would make things a lot more fun, even if weíd probably all end up choosing the wrong animals for ourselves."

Sirius rolled his eyes and ignored the lecture. "Hey James, I bet things would go so much faster if we looked at some of the restricted Transfiguration books."


"Come on, I bet thereís some real advanced stuff in there."


"You wonít get in trouble, Iíll go aloneÖ"

"No, come on Sirius, you know we already got all the books we need out of the restricted section."

"We found out what books we could use might be in there and got those. But there could be books we donít even know about, books that could help us, books that could speed things up."

"Sirius, we have plenty of material, we just need more lessons."

"I suppose so." He sighed, knowing James would hold firm. He got up from his position in the circle on the floor, then flopped down on his bed.

"Tired, Sirius?" asked Remus. "What were you up to last night? Not sneaking into the Forbidden Forest again?"

"Yeah Sirius, when will you grow out of that and start sneaking into the girls dorm?"

"Donít encourage him!"

"Muphmuph," said Sirius. "Forbidden Forest." He brightened a little. "It was great. I heard something new. More like a screaming than a howl, but low pitched." He noticed Peterís expression. "And it was really loud too, like it was close by. So I started slowly creeping towards itÖ"

"Oh, stop it Sirius."

"Itís true. You guys donít believe me Ďcause youíre too scared to go in there yourselves. ĎCause you know whatís in there."

"Because we believe you?"

Sirius could have felt slightly affronted at the slander his friends were throwing at him, but instead, as he thought of the forest and its million and one treasures, and his friends all around him, he felt slightly magnanimous. "We-ell, if you donít believe me, you should just go with me sometimes."

"No," laughed James, "Iíve tried that."

"That was years ago! Back before I discovered Tree Gnomes are harmless, and heading due west into the forest takes you to much more interesting ground. Come on, itís a grand idea. Iíll be your guide. Tonight, weíll sneak out of-"

"No!" shrieked Peter. "The Forbidden Forest at night?"

"I do it all the time. I know that forest inside and out, come on, itíll be so much fun."

"Not at night."

"Peterís right, maybe we shouldnít go at nightÖ but it does sound like a fair idea. No lie, Sirius, youíve seen unicorns in there?"

"Of course I have. But weíve got to go at night. Thatís when all the really cool stuff comes out." Which was true, of course, but Sirius was having second thoughts. Did he really want to share his forest with these other people? People who couldnít even appreciate its greatest assets? Then again, James was looking kind of excited. And he did have that certain gleam in his eye that usually promised fun. "Címon, guys."



"No. Well, not at night. Please?"

"Thatís all right Peter, you donít have to come with us." Sirius knew exactly what sort of ammunition to use on his friend.

"No, please guys, not at night. Please?" Sirius saw Peter searching the other faces vainly and realized he was alone. Then he gulped back his scared face and put on one that kind of looked brave, if you squinted at it for a while. "Well, okay then. Weíll just have to go at night."



The invisibility cloak they all huddled under was ditched as soon as they got inside the forest, so there would be no more tripping accidents. They headed slowly and silently (well, more silent than normally, anyway) into the forest, deeper and deeper. After an hour had passed, they hadnít seen any wild beasts yet, but for some reason these rather large bird-type things had swooped down past them a couple of times. Sirius had never seen them before, but then again, he reasoned, he was usually invisible. And making less noise. He winced as Peter stepped on another branch that he and James and Remus had avoided. He looked back and James motioned for him to stop.

"Is this as far as you normally go?" he asked, very quietly.

"No, further. I can usually go a little faster."

"When are we going to see things?"

"What are those birds?" Peter nobly did not ask to go back.

"Shhhhh! Whatís that?" Sirius wished very much to be able to answer and tell them all about it, but the truth was, he had never seen a silver horse like that before.

"Itís a unicorn." Remus breathed. He started very slowly towards it, and it stood stock still. Sirius was afraid it was about to bolt, but Remus was getting closer and closer, and James started towards it too, and it only lowered its head a little. Sirius couldnít believe his eyes. He had never seen a unicorn before, not even a full-grown white one. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Peter slowly start towards it, then stop in mid-step, holding himself very, very still.

"Sirius" he whispered. Sirius craned his head over to him a little.

"Sirius." More frantically. His eyes were wide. All of the sudden, the unicorn turned and fled silently into the woods. As Sirius turned to look, he felt something whooshing past him and...

"AAAAAAGH!" Peter! Where was Peter?

"Peter!" cried James, pointing upwards. He was at the top of the nearest tree, being held onto by some bird which looked scary and scaly enough to be a dragon. Sirius wondered dazedly if it breathed fire.



"What do you think" James asked Remus, "Expelliarmus?"

"Donít be stupid."


"STOP SCREAMING PETER! SOMEONE MIGHT HEAR YOU!" It was uncharacteristically Remus instead of James who cuffed him on the head.

"Okay, a burning charm should work, but itís going to have to be strong to pierce his skin."

"Donít miss. And, umm, what happens after he falls 200 feet?"

"Weíll think of something. HANG ON! DONíT MOVE!"

If anyone could do this, thought Sirius, it was James. He and Remus set their wands at the ready. A shot a red blasted from his wand, and went so close, so close, right on the claw, right next to Peter, but didnít hit him. He screeched anyway, as he fell.

"Windgardium Leviosa!" James and Remus waited until Peter was only a couple of yards from the ground, then sat their spells in unison. It worked- but just quite. Peter slowed down, and instead of hitting the ground, was sent backwards, and in an upward direction again, at what would have been a very fast speed if the tree hadnít been in his way. They crowded around him.

"Peter! Peter, are you okay?"

He opened his eyes very slowly. "GuysÖ can we go back now?"


The next day, Sirius felt a little bit uncomfortable and guilty, but, since it was really the birdís fault and not his own, he decided to not discuss the incident with the others.

Peter found that eating lots of chocolate made him feel better, and Sirius, deciding that was a good enough philosophy, broke out his emergency stash of Chocolate frogs and passed them around.

"So," said Remus, unable to read Siriusí mind, "weíve decided to not go back to the Forest again for another couple of-"




"Makes sense to me. Actually, I liked the idea of sneaking into the girlís dorm. Or better yet, the Slytherin dorm, so I can try out some of those curses from the restricted book I swiped when James wasnít looking."


"Iíve got it!" announced Remus, who was looking at what turned out to be the orange-ish bean. "Yam."


"Yuck. I dunno."

"Throw it here," said Sirius, who was feeling especially adventurous.

"With pleasure," Remus responded, flinging it.

Sirius popped it in his mouth and made a face.


He burst out laughing. "Itís orange."


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