A bit of really random, angsty, R/S shippiness for the SQ
fanfic tournament. Remus guilt! Huzzah!
I think there was some sort of challenge involving sugar quills and
Yes? Yes. This is my answer to that challenge.
Standard disclaimers apply- everything belongs to J. K. Rowling and
various publishing companies that have dug their talons into her
I'm making no profit, this is only for my own (and hopefully
The rhythmic falling of raindrops on the windshield was interrupted
by the humming of the wipers and the windshield cleaner that the
sole occupant pumped out onto it. It was a used car, and extremely
the best he had been able to procure for himself after leaving the
world. His own world wanted nothing to do with him, he realized,
the end of the war; Muggles had no qualms with employing him because
knew nothing of who he really was. In his own world, he had been
with a grudging respect and almost pity for a few months before
gradually cut off. He still had money in Gringotts, though no great
He still had a contact at the Apothecary in Diagon Alley, and he
had his wand. He still had friends in the wizarding world. Didn't
Remus was having some trouble convincing himself. The last time he
visited the Leaky Cauldron, all of its familiar patrons had avoided
eyes. The others, too, but it would always be that way with them; he
a werewolf, he made them uncomfortable- yet at the same time they
to be examining him, sizing him up. Looking, perhaps, for something
hadn't been there, ever, yet everyone had seen. It was ironic, he
He had suspected Peter, and Peter had suspected Sirius, and Sirius…
Sirius had pretended, at least, that he suspected Remus. In this
they were all traitors to some extent. Friends didn't suspect each
of things like this. It wasn't done.
Remus felt a pang of guilt and regret, but also something stronger.
was a common enough occurrence- it seemed that every time he thought
sweet Peter, innocent, unsuspecting Peter, forgive me, Peter, my
Peter, I couldn't protect you-
oh Sirius, why? How? How could you betray your friends, Sirius?
loved you. I loved you. I still love you, Sirius, this can't
he felt an immense sense of loss, a depression, something deeper
betrayal. Sirius had robbed his best friends of their lives, his
of his parents, and Remus of the only family he had ever known. He
left Remus with nothing but sentiments and emptiness and the
guilt from having suspected the victim of betrayal. Peter would
have a chance to forgive him. He was dead now.
Remus shook himself, realizing that he was in no shape to drive,
pulled over to the side of the street. He was nearly at his
anyway. He noted the parking meter with detachment and inserted a
coins, hoping it would be enough for a short trip into the world
had left him behind. He didn't need too much, anyway, but there were
some things you couldn't buy in Muggle shops- Wolfsbane. Magically
A really good flea powder.
But there were also things he couldn't avoid in the wizarding
such as those prying gazes he often got and the cool reception from
general public. Often, they did not even know why they treated him
badly, so he supposed he shouldn't blame them; he thought it
that his shabby robes and haunted honey-brown eyes made them
anxious to escape his gaze. Sometimes he could fool himself into not
this. Sometimes he could pretend that they looked at him that way
of pity, out of compassion and understanding that all of his
all of the people who cared about him, were dead, or at the very
dead to him. Sometimes he caught people wanting to ask about James
Lily and oh, how was little Harry, but they always remembered and
their tongues in time and life went on, and he had to forget
But he couldn't.
Remus walked through the Leaky Cauldron with nary a word to the
Tom, who had once been his friend. He took no notice of the fact
his shaggy dark hair was soaked, along with the rest of him, or that
was dripping on the floor, or that it was freezing cold. These
were irrelevant when you were damn near immortal and even closer to
He tried to ignore the curious stares or the fact that all
stopped when he entered and resumed only in whispers which concerned
when he left.
"Did you see-"
"-thirteen people with one curse-"
Remus' mouth formed a grim line as he tapped the proper brick to be
entrance to the alley. He would be in and out again, he told
before the memories could start. He had to be. It was too painful
other people were around.
He hurried into the Apothecary first thing, already having
enough money for his purchase on his previous visit. He very nearly
it all the way back to the Leaky Cauldron before something caught
eye and Remus stopped, looking down into the display window,
There, stacked innocently enough between a box of Chocolate Frogs
some questionable-looking lollipops, was a perfectly innocent sugar
Remus closed his eyes and remembered.
It was the day before Christmas break, and because Lily, James
Peter were all going home for the holidays, they had decided that a
Christmas celebration was in order. With everything that was going
there was no telling when they would be able to get together again-
fact, there was no guarantee that they would ever be able to gather
the same place again, period. Yet it was a merry enough time; they
that a few presents were in order and soon Sirius had managed to get
paper strewn everywhere. The common room was a complete disaster,
that anyone minded. It wasn't as if they had to clean it up; Remus
Sirius were the only two Gryffindor students staying at Hogwarts
the break. Besides, the House-elves would probably get to the mess
anyone else could even consider tidying it up himself.
Lily and James were snuggled up in one armchair by the fire;
people were pretending that they weren't there in an effort to give
Head Boy and Girl a little privacy. After all, James and Lily were
tolerant people when it came to others snogging in the Gryffindor
it would be hypocritical of them not to be.
Peter had just read out the tag on the final gift. "This one's
Sirius, with love from Lily,'" he said.
Sirius grinned. "Are you sure you should be signing your letters
that, Mrs. P?" Lily was a bit too preoccupied to answer; James made
vaguely rude gesture to his friend from behind Lily's back. It was a
Remus knew as well as Sirius; James didn't want anyone knowing about
proposal. He had the absurd notion that it would make Lily some sort
target. Remus didn't know what sort of target, exactly, unless James
a target for jealous girls. But then, James had always been smarter
he'd let on. How else had he made Head Boy?
When the wrapping paper was done away with, Sirius found himself
proud new owner of a set of slightly fragile-looking quills in an
box. "What's this, then?" he asked curiously (but not ungraciously),
his fingers lightly over the plastic.
Lily had broken away from James to explain. "It's a sugar quill,
she had explained, the ghost of a smile on her face. "I figured
you needed some motivation to do your homework for once. And we do
the N.E.W.T.s coming up soon. They're really made of sugar, too, and
don't need to worry about getting ink on your face when you suck on
This was followed by an even wider grin; apparently Lily hadn't
the incident the previous year, either.
Sirius shook his head and laughed. "Trust it to you to come up
a way to make it more likely that I'll do my homework." He smiled at
"Thank you, Lily."
That night Remus and Sirius sat awake in the common room long
everyone else had gone to bed. Sirius was composing an owl to his
Louise, who had become his legal guardian when his mother had died
previous year, probably omitting significant details such as his
prank or the reason the toilet in the prefects' bathroom was
carnivorous, which happened to be the same thing. Remus had been
to watch him ponder over the right word, the quill caught between
lips, at least until he realized that he was becoming notably
of a writing implement. He went through a moment of shock, a moment
which he discovered his feelings for his friend were no longer
platonic, and his knees weakened and his brain had rebelled at the
But he could not shake the feeling that what he felt was right,
preordained. If he didn't love his best friend, after all, then
Sirius must have noticed something- sudden, loud breathing, or
just gaping, uncomfortable silence- because he put down the quill
gave Remus a curious look. "Moony? Are you alright? You look a
pale…" He got up and moved towards the couch on which Remus was
Remus jumped up, banging his shin painfully against a table and
it over as he retreated towards the stairs to the seventh-year boys'
"No, Sirius, I'm fine-" His head exploded in pain as he cracked it
the hard stone wall and he stopped, massaging his head and
not looking at his friend. "Er, I was fine…"
But Sirius had caught up with him. "Moony?" He took another step
Remus held his ground, knowing he would trip over the first stair if
moved backwards any farther, and getting any closer to Sirius at
point was definitely a bad idea. Detachedly, he noted that his
was in need of a shave. Although, Remus' mind inserted rebelliously,
would look rather fetching with a goatee…
Sirius stopped his advance and raised a hand to Remus' face. He
at the contact, petrified. "Are you sure you're okay?" the
teen asked, then seemed to realize what he was doing and averted his
It was pure luck, Remus reasoned, or perhaps misfortune, that he
diverted his eyes upwards. They- Sirius' eyes- became rather round
a moment before narrowing in what Remus vaguely recognized as
Then Sirius' mouth was on his, soft and sweet and tasting vaguely of
quill before withdrawing with its owner. "Mistletoe," Sirius
as if this were the most natural thing in the world, but his
betrayed him. He refused to meet Remus' gaze and fidgeted with the
on his sleeve like he always did when he was nervous. "Um. I should
to bed- it's late-"
But Remus had done something extremely uncharacteristic and, for
the first time in his life, effectively shut Sirius up.
The jingling of the bell above the candy shop shook Remus from his
ruminations. A short, pleasantly round young woman with blonde hair
a more than generous smattering of freckles stood in the doorway,
at him concernedly. "Sir?" she said gently, her eyebrows knitting
"Are you alright? Only, you've been standing there for more than ten
and…" Her hurried words trailed off.
"I'm fine," Remus answered, quite aware that he was not, in fact,
such thing. He knew, logically, that he should have been tired and
or at the very least cold and wet, but he felt none of these things;
he seemed to be experiencing was a kind of quiet emptiness and
Why, Sirius? he asked once again, but answer came there none.
if I alarmed you. Just a bit of nostalgia."
The woman- girl, really, probably only a year or two younger than
was- nodded, and bid him a polite farewell.
Remus began to walk away, turning up his collar against the chill,
back to the pub, lost in thought once more. The following day was
birthday, a fact which he was having trouble coming to grips with.
remembered Sirius' last birthday with the sort of ache that can only
with the knowledge that one's friends exist only in one's memory;
was worse than dead and the rest of them were.
Hearing the voice of the candy shop witch, he spun around again.
she panted, coming up beside him with a shopping bag. He realized
it was his; he must have left his things in front of the shop
He hoped she hadn't peeked in and discovered what exactly it was
he'd been buying; he didn't want any more enemies. "You forgot
She had run out into the rain to return his shopping? He was
Why should anyone do that for him, let alone a complete stranger?
thank you," he said, tentatively reaching out and taking the
She smiled at him hesitantly and suddenly, Remus felt extremely
"You're welcome." She retreated into the crowd with a cheerful,
Remus!" Within seconds, she had vanished from his field of
Interesting, Remus thought as he tossed his supplies into the front
the car, that he couldn't recall ever introducing himself.
It was not until he got home that he noticed the extra package in
his purchases, the one he hadn't paid for. A box of sugar quills
to be watching him with an innocent expression, if that could be
of a box of candy. There was an adhesive sticker on the top of the
with the address of the shop and the name of the proprietor on it.
Remus traced a finger over the sugar quill logo, much the way
had done years before, and felt much of his tension leave him. He
that perhaps it was time to move on with his life, after all… and
plans to visit Diagon Alley again the following day.