The Sugar Quill
Author: Durayan (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: It's a Dog's Life  Chapter: Chapter Two: Part the Second
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PART THE SECOND

"Remus, love, don't be an idiot. You were soaked to the bone last night. The least you can do is drink the potion. It's not that bad." Katie pushed the smoking goblet across the table toward Remus who was trying to coax Malcolm into eating his breakfast rather than playing with it.

"Ah. Then, you drink it. I can't stand the stuff! Besides, I assure you, I am quite well. It takes far more than a bit of rain to stop me." Remus disliked taking potions in general, but Pepper-up Potion was one he especially detested. It wasn't that it tasted all that bad, really. It was more the peculiar sensation of smoke escaping from his ears (a side effect of the potion) that he found so particularly distasteful.

"You could indulge me just a bit you know. How else am I to feel loved and needed if I can't play mother hen?" Katie persisted.

"My dearest Katie: That is your problem. I will not spend the morning walking about with my ears smoking, no matter how beautiful you are," Remus declared firmly. Then, more gently, "I am quite all right. Really." Remus took Katie's hand, kissed it tenderly and met her eyes. "I do appreciate your concern. Truly." Malcolm's spoon, laden heavily with oatmeal, thunked on the floor. Malcolm looked innocently back at his parents, as if he could not figure out what exactly had happened to it.

"Malcolm Lupin!" Katie started, giving Malcolm a dangerous look.

The creak of footsteps on the stairway announced Liz' arrival. "Good morning," Liz yawned sleepily. "Quite a night last night, eh?"

"How is Sirius?" Remus asked.

"Sleeping soundly." Thought I'd leave him to sleep as long as he could." Liz yawned again, gratefully accepted a cup of strong coffee from Katie, and took a long sip. Liz was normally the late sleeper of the household and tended to avoid conversation before her first caffeine infusion. But today was different. "Remus, what happened to Sirius last night?"

Remus shook his head, as he waived his wand at Malcolm's chair, to set up what he hoped would be an oatmeal-proof ward around it. "Not entirely sure. Maybe it was the effects of the tranquilizer they used on him that disoriented him. Or perhaps being locked up may have triggered some memories from Azkaban for him. Did he talk about it last night?" Remus retrieved a clean spoon for his son, and Malcolm set about testing the ward.

Liz shook her head. "He went up and took a long hot shower. Then went to bed. He was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow."

"Sirius is extraordinarily tough. It's amazing what he has been able to survive, let alone overcome. If being hit with a tranquilizer dart and being locked up in the dog pound has a bit of an effect on him, I suppose he is entitled," observed Katie.

The sound of movement from upstairs told them that the subject of their concerns would soon be joining them. Katie renewed her efforts to entice Remus into taking the Pepper-Up potion, which still bubbled smoke over the sides of the goblet. Remus continued to refuse.

Footsteps thundered on the stairs in what was unmistakably Sirius bounding down the steps. He stopped half way, paused a moment, and sneezed loudly.

Remus seized the opportunity. "There… You just may have a customer for your noxious potion" he announced to Katie. Remus pushed the potion toward Sirius as he appeared in the doorway "Ah, excellent timing, Sirius! My lovely wife has been trying to peddle this stuff all morning".

Sirius sniffled, rubbed at his nose with the back of his hand, and grinned amiably. "Mrs. Lupin, is this silly git here failing to recognize what a very lucky man he is again? I shall have to have a talk with him." Sirius scooped up the goblet of Pepper-up potion, sipped it, nodded approvingly at Katie and downed it in a single gulp. "Excellent vintage, as always, Mrs. Lupin," Sirius declared as smoke began to drift lazily from his ears. He sniffled again, and waggled his eyebrows at Liz, who grinned back at him.

"You tinks zee eyebrows, zey are sexzy, yes? And zee smoke?" Sirius waggled his eyebrows again, and shook his head to make little smoke swirls.

Liz giggled. Malcolm clapped excitedly.

"You are quite chipper today, Mr. Black!"

"And why shouldn't I be? I slept better last night than I have in ages! Katie, you must find out what those Muggle dog catchers put in that stuff." Sirius rubbed his backside thoughtfully, and added "and whether or not there's a less painful method of administering it."

Katie insisted on giving Sirius the once-over again, peering into his eyes, making him stand first on one foot and then the other, poking him here and there until she satisfied herself that there was no permanent damage.

Sirius winked dangerously at Liz. "I wasn't worried for a minute. It's rather exciting to be rescued by a woman so lovely as yourself."

Liz laughed. "How exactly did you get yourself into that particular predicament, may I ask?"

"Why, by saving Mr. Lupin's hide, of course. How do I always end up in 'predicaments'?" Sirius sighed dramatically. "It seems I made a promise to Katie-girl that I would always bring him home. It's gotten me in more trouble over the years. Don't be fooled by his calm demeanor. It's all a front. He is trouble from the word go."

Katie sat back and laughed. "Funny, that's not what Remus said. Do tell, Sirius. Your version of last night's events sounds ever so much more interesting."

Sirius described in detail how he'd faithfully stood watch outside the warm cozy pub where Remus pretended to be tailing a death eater operative while indulging in several Butterbeers on the job, how the Muggle dog catcher had attempted to capture him and how Remus, when summoned for help had promptly attempted to get his ownself arrested and might have too, had Padfoot not threatened to sink his teeth into the officer's rather ample behind, giving Remus an opportunity to Apparate away.

"You owe me for that one in a big way, Moony. In fact, dear Moony, I would like to register a complaint," Sirius declared. "We are supposed to be partners, yet there does not seem to be quite the equitable division of work here. We track a suspected Death Eater, but somehow it is YOU sitting by the fire in the pub sipping Butterbeer while I wait outside in the elements. You insult an officer of the peace, and I have to save you and somehow it is ME who spends the night behind bars. You practically drown yourself Apparating in the rain and I end up catching cold. It is not fair. I protest. I am afraid I cannot continue to work with you under these deplorable conditions." Sirius sniffled loudly.

Remus laughed, genuinely pleased that Sirius seemed to have made it through the whole incident with nothing more than a cold to show for it. "Rubbish. You are lucky to have me for your best friend, you know."

Sirius suddenly sobered. "Yeah. I know that. I really do know that."

Sirius looked thoughtful for a moment. "At least, we must have gotten some good information on this fellow we were tailing. You were in the bar for quite a while, after all. Anything useful? Is he supplying illegal potions for the Death Eaters? The connection to Lucius Malfoy could be quite useful to Arthur Weasley, if we can establish the nature of the potions this fellow is dealing in."

All eyes turned to Remus, who shifted uncomfortably. "Oh, yes. The potions are illegal. But I am afraid they will do Arthur little good. Beyond, perhaps, a good laugh. It seems that our little potions master has established himself as a skilled brewer of potions which…" Remus seemed to be casting about for the proper words "…well, they enhance certain…aspects of…um, 'intimate performance'."

Liz and Katie stared with mouths agape at Remus. Finally, Katie asked the question: "You bought VIAGRA from a DEATH EATER?"

Remus looked blankly back at Katie, wondering if he should recognize the word.

Sirius coughed lightly and asked, "What's Viagra?"

Liz snorted and replied, "Something you will NEVER be in need of, Mr. Black."

***************

 

Three days later…

"Katie, he is driving me bonkers. You have to do something." Liz looked a bit frazzled. "I swear---you'd think the man was dying. Are all men like this when they are sick? Where do they learn this?"

Katie laughed. "They learn it from us. Give them soup and they milk it for all it is worth. Anyway, I thought you said he sounded sexy with that low gravely voice".

Liz frowned. "He does. Until he starts whining…that just about kills it. Honestly. Men are wimps. And the next time I ask him if he wants something and he just sighs and says 'soup, just soup' in that pathetic little voice I shall return with the bowl and dump it on him."

Katie laughed and Liz softened a bit. "He does look like he feels rather awful though. He was up most of last night coughing. Can't you do anything for him?"

Katie considered this. "I've given him most of the usual potions. They don't seem to be having too much of an effect though. Mrs. Noyes had a couple of suggestions-this seems to be no ordinary cough he's picked up."

*************

 

 

"Right then. I've called and made us an appointment." Liz announced as she stepped out of the fireplace, brushing soot off her shoulders, having just returned from Mrs. Noyes' shop in the village where there was a telephone. "The vet's name is Dr. McCarron. His office is in the village just over the bridge from the apothecary. Specializes in cats and dogs mostly. Should be perfect."


So far as Katie could tell, there was no reason this wouldn't work. Padfoot was very nearly the same weight as Sirius, so the medication dosage should be close to the same. Sirius was tall and lean, (though since he'd been staying with the Lupins, he'd filled out and could no longer properly be considered gaunt). Padfoot, however, was simply a massive animal. Katie could see little reason to wonder why someone had called the animal control department over such a large beast, but she said nothing to Remus and Sirius, who were both still pretty indignant over the incident.

So it was that, options carefully weighed, and patience thoroughly worn through, Liz, Katie and Sirius loaded into the Lupin's car and set off for the local veterinary office.

They pulled into a spot not far from the door of the squat gray building. A small rectangle of grass graced the front of the building, and the sign read "F. Robert MacCarron, Veterinary Surgeon".

Liz looked doubtfully at the building. "Are you sure about this, Sirius?"

Sirius gave Liz a rather flat stare. "The worst they can do is kill me," he said in a hoarse voice and broke into another coughing fit. "That just might be an improvement", he said morosely once he could speak again.

Liz politely resisted the impulse to roll her eyes, or to mention that Sirius seemed to have acquired the personality of Moaning Myrtle. She marveled that a man strong enough to have endured 12 years in Azkaban and have made it out with his sanity intact could be reduced to such an absolute baby by what was essentially a bad case of the sniffles. She'd had about all of the "helpless man" routine she could manage this trip, and suspected that she was about to convert rather abruptly from "supportive and sympathetic girlfriend" into someone a whole lot less patient. Soon. True, Sirius looked patently awful. And she supposed he felt about the same way he looked. But then again, he'd impatiently refused Katie's potions this morning, muttering that they were doing no real good and that he couldn't bear the taste any longer. Liz figured that if he wouldn't take his medicine, well, he deserved to suffer a bit.

So here they were. At the vet's office. At least this way, Sirius could obtain precious Muggle antibiotics and run no risk of being recognized by Muggles or wizards who might recognize him as a wanted man.

"Well. We are here now." Katie declared with resolve. "Let's do what we came for, and get you home, Sirius. Liz and I will be with you the whole time. I promise".

Liz looked around, and waved her wand slightly, muttering a charm that would wrap the Lupin's auto in an aura of utter uninterestingness. Charm in place, a Muggle could look directly into the car through the open window and not see what was about to happen.

"Ready?" Sirius nodded, and transformed into a large listless shaggy black dog. Liz fitted the collar on over his head. "Let's do it".

A bell tinkled when they opened the door and they were hit with an odd smell that seemed to be a mixture of alcohol and wet dog. Padfoot froze on the threshold.

"No time to back out now. We're here. Let's get what we came for." Liz gave Padoot's leash a light tug and he followed her cautiously into the clinic.

The woman at the front desk looked them over appraisingly. "Appointment?"

Liz nodded "Um, yes. I called earlier. Harker. Our dog is ill." Liz gestured at Padfoot, who obligingly hacked for the receptionist.

"New patient, then? You'll need to complete the paperwork, of course. What's his name?"

"Padfoot," Katie said. At the same moment Liz said "Snuffles". They exchanged a look.

"Well, which is it?"

"Padfoot. But we call him Snuffles." Katie smiled as if this were obvious.

"Here. Fill this out". She eyed the large dog rather suspiciously. As if she were not accustomed to seeing large animals in need of medical care. She seemed to consider the likelihood that this particular patient might have a personality as intimidating as his appearance, and she quickly ushered them into a small room. "You can wait in the exam room."

"Thank you" said Katie taking the offered clipboard with its form and she, Liz and Padfoot slipped into a small room with an exam table and no chairs.

Once safely alone in the exam room, Liz looked at Katie and they both laughed nervously. Padfoot whined softly.

Katie examined the form they were to complete. "Let's see here….Responsible party. Is that you or is it me?"

Liz shrugged. "Didn't Sirius say this was all Remus' fault?"

"So he did. Remus Lupin it is." Katie filled in Remus' name and relevant information at the top of the page.

"Okay, breed: what do you think he is?"

Liz surveyed the large black shaggy dog. "Looks rather a lot like a Newfoundland to me. Maybe has some Irish Wolfhound in him, judging by the shape of the muzzle. I don't know…Large Black Mutt?"

Katie laughed and wrote it down.

"Age…let's see…how is it you calculate dog years? Isn't it something like four years to every human year? Let's see…Sirius is 38. That would make Padfoot 9 1/2" Katie filled this in.

"What does this mean: 'Is your pet intact"? Katie eyed Padfoot.

Liz blushed. "I think that's asking whether or not he's been…you know. Fixed."

Katie grinned wickedly "Well, then. Has he?"

"Oh, you are positively awful! Of course he hasn't!" Liz assured Katie. "No…not remotely."

Their giggles were interrupted suddenly when the door to the room was opened and a short stout balding man with glasses appeared. "Hello. I'm Dr. MacCarron. New patient? What seems to be the problem?"

"He seems to have a bit of a cold." Liz offered.

As if to prove this, Padfoot coughed mightily. The vet looked at him with a bit of a grimace, then motioned for Liz and Katie to move Padfoot up onto the exam table. The ice cold exam table, Liz noted.. Padfoot clambered up and sat down carefully on the slick steal surface, then glared at both of the women over his shoulder before Dr. McCarron took hold of him with the strong authority of one accustomed to dogs and pulled him round to start examining him.

The vet was going carefully over Padfoot from nose to tail. "Hmmm, yes I see. Is he around other dogs, then?"

"No. Not normally anyway. He was picked up by the dog catcher last week though."

The vet clucked disapprovingly. "Running loose, was he?"

Liz bristled slightly. "Well, he does have rather a mind of his own you know."

The vet peered into Padfoot's ears and shined a light into each of his eyes. "Looks to be in excellent shape for a dog of 9. Are you sure of his age?"

"Um, well, isn't it four dog years to every human year? He is 38 in human years." Liz offered.

The vet gave her an odd look, but said simply "Well no, not strictly speaking. It's more like 7 years with dogs. You are thinking in cat years. Not that either measure is particularly accurate." The vet pondered briefly asking how it was Liz knew how the dog was 38 in human years, but decided not to even touch it. "This fellow is about middle aged. Not geriatric, mind you, but he's no pup. What do you feed him?"

Liz shrugged. "Pretty much what we eat".

The vet scowled. "Human food isn't a proper diet for a dog you know. He appears to be just a tad overweight." He prodded Padfoot's ribs disapprovingly. Padfoot growled indignantly. "He'll get fat if you don't watch it. When did he last have his shots?".

Katie and Liz exchanged blank glances. "Um. I don't know. My husband just brought him home a couple of years ago. I don't know what shots he might have had before that" Katie offered truthfully.

"Not been neutered…Running loose, was he? Do you ladies have any idea how many unwanted pups are born here each year? Irresponsible pet owners. Fail to keep their animals properly restrained. Fail to get them neutered." He shook his head disapprovingly. "I can assure you that the neutering will not change his personality a bit. Nor will he put on weight. If you feed him properly. You surely don't plan on breeding him do you?"

Katie looked to Liz to answer this one. Liz turned crimson. "Um, actually, we haven't really discussed that in too much detail just yet."

"Shall I schedule him for a snip then?" asked the vet matter-of-factly.

"Um, thank you, but I don't think he'd like that." Liz pretended to cough lightly behind her hand and inwardly marveled at Katie's ability to remain stone-faced while conversing with this man.

The vet gave them a disapproving glower over the top of his glasses. "You really should think about this. Here you have a large mutt. He's not suitable for breeding purposes."

Padfoot growled softly.

"And certainly", the vet continued rather pointedly, "neutering him would make him less aggressive and more manageable".

"I appreciate your concerns. We will consider the, um, option," replied Katie, quite firmly establishing that nothing of that sort would be happening today.

"Well," the vet said finally, "he appears to have a case of kennel cough. It's quite treatable with rest and antibiotics. And avoidable, I might add, with a proper round of vaccinations, which he should have every year." He gave Liz and Katie a long hard look over the top of his glasses. "If you will excuse me, I will return shortly with the medicines".

Katie and Liz looked at one another after the door closed and burst once more into fits of nervous giggles. Padfoot growled low and menacingly. When this had no effect, he barked at them, which only set him to coughing again. But he did manage to more or less silence Liz and Katie into quiet shaking fits of stifled laughter, as they tried hopelessly to gain control.

The door opened and Dr. McCarron returned. He had a tray with three syringes and a bottle of pills. Katie and Liz stopped laughing immediately.

"What's all this for?" asked Katie, somewhat apprehensively. Antibiotics were largely of standard manufacture, but Katie had not considered the possibility that Padfoot might receive vaccinations.

"The standard workup: Rabies, parvo, canine distemper," answered Dr. McCarron as he slipped the protective cap off of one rather large syringe.

"Is all this really necessary?" asked Liz

Padfoot whimpered slightly.

The vet appeared annoyed. "Ladies, it is the LAW". He grabbed the scruff of Padfoots neck and swiftly injected the contents of the first syringe into the large black dog, who gave a startled yelp.


Katie and Liz stated wide-eyed. "Are you sure…" Katie swallowed. "they are quite safe?"

The vet appeared annoyed at first, but returned Katie's gaze evenly. "Yes. They are quite safe. I promise."

Katie looked rather helplessly at Liz, who shrugged and stroked Padfoot's head soothingly. "It's okay, Padfoot. This won't hurt. Much."

Padfoot glared balefully at Liz and Katie, but took the remaining two shots without a sound.

"Now, have either of you ever "pilled" a dog before?"

"I beg your pardon?" Liz asked blankly.

"Have you ever given a pill to a dog before? Do you know how to get him to take the medication?"

Katie bit back the urge to tell the vet that she would normally just hand him the pill and a glass of water, and instead said sweetly, "I'm sure I can manage."

"Well, I will just give him one now, and you will need to give him another tonight. Thereafter, follow the instructions on the bottle." The vet swiftly grabbed Padfoot by the snout and pried open his mouth expertly, popping a pink pill onto the back of Padfoodt's tongue. He held Padfoots muzzle closed and spoke soothingly to the dog, who looked patently horrified, but did eventually swallow the pill.

The doctor released his grip. "There's a good boy…you earned a treat!" the doctor said genially. He offered a biscuit from one of his pockets, which Padfoot rather sullenly refused.

They paid the bill and left the office. Once in the car, Katie and Liz lost it completely, and it was some minutes before Katie could stop laughing long enough to get the key in the ignition of the car.

For his part, Padfoot refused to transform back and sulked all the way home.


//
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