The Sugar Quill
Author: Zsenya (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Morning After  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.

Disclaimer: JK Rowling is a genius. I hope that if she reads this she will forgive me.

Author's Note: Much thanks to Canis M. for her wonderful beta-reading comments.

***

The first thing the dog became aware of was that he was wet. He didn't move anything except his ears and tried to listen to his surroundings. A bird sang a high-pitched note very close to him and he realized that he was outside. Slowly lifting his head, he squinted slightly and realized by the soft brightness that it was already dawn. He leapt to his feet and shook out his fur, enjoying the feeling of the water droplets being thrown from his body and into the air.

There was an obstacle in front of him and he recognized it.. He wouldn't be able to get past unless he turned into the man again. But first, he had to know if it was safe. He padded right up to the door of the run-down building so that his nose was sniffing at the narrow crack at the bottom. He couldn't smell the wolf, but just to make sure, he let out one soft bark. A voice, and not a growl, responded.

"It's all right, Padfoot. I'm okay. You can come in, if you're still talking to me."

The dog let out a bark that sounded like a laugh and bounded once around the garden. Then, because he was such a large animal, and the garden was quite small in comparison, he did it again two more times. He skidded to a halt in front of the door, transforming quickly into the man as he did so.

Sirius Black held out his hands to keep himself from banging his head into the metal shack and let out a real, human laugh this time. He smoothed his robes, and noted that the dog had left his shoes caked with mud. He pulled his wand out of his pocket and held it up to the door, muttering a few well-chosen spells. There was a sound of metal sliding against metal, a clank as locks unlocked. When the last barrier was removed, the door swung outward from its own weight, and Sirius slipped inside and pulled it shut behind him.

Remus Lupin was on the wood floor of the shack, propped up on the pile of pillows and blankets that Ginny had placed in there the day before. He looked pale, tired, weak, but his lips were twisted into a small smile and he was reclining against the wall as if he'd just wandered into the room to catch up on his reading. Understanding the Rarest Magic was in his hand, and he closed it, marking the page with his thumb, when Sirius entered.

"You can join me if you like," Remus said, motioning to the cushion next to him. "I won't bite."

"Unless provoked?"

Remus laughed but Sirius remained standing awkwardly by the door.

"Do you need anything? Water? Tea? Toast?"

"A cup of tea would be nice."

Without waiting to find out if Remus needed anything else from the kitchen, Sirius turned on his heel and ran to Lupin Lodge. He conjured up a cup of tea, and was about to add enough sugar to satisfy Remus's sweet tooth when a memory came flooding back to him. Rummaging around in the cabinets, he soon found what had become a common staple in the house ever since Ron had started picking up groceries. With a grin, he walked as quickly as he could with a tray of tea and biscuits back to the shed.

Remus's eyes were closed and his head was leaning against the wall of the shed - he was still upright. His book had fallen to his side.

Sirius carefully placed the tray on the floor and sat gingerly on the pile of pillows next to Remus. Hugging his knees and resting his chin on them, Sirius sat quite still, debating whether or not to wake his friend. Remus's skin was pale and translucent, and the shadows under his eyes were almost as blue as sky. Silver streaked his hair, and Sirius took a moment to reflect that those strands were the only silver that could safely touch his friend. Despite all this, Sirius didn't think he'd ever seen anything more peaceful in his life.

Realizing that Remus might be asleep for a while, and taking care to be as quiet as he could, Sirius shifted on the pillows a bit so that he was facing his friend directly. Although he looked tired, Remus did not look as if he had spent a night in pain. Holding his breath, Sirius reached forward and stroked Remus's arms, peeling away his robes at the neck to examine the flesh beneath. It was smooth and white and cool to the touch. There were no visible gashes, no tears on the robes, no bloodstains seeping through worn fabric. Remus was tired, but he was not hurt.

Sirius sat back on his heels and breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps he'd overreacted. He shouldn't have been so hard on Ginny. He was so grateful to her now that had she walked into the shed at that moment, he would have hugged her even more tightly than he had the night before.

"So - " Remus spoke, but did not open his eyes. Sirius started - Remus must have noticed him checking for wounds. "Will I live? Have you checked everywhere?" Remus's voice sounded concerned, but Sirius could detect a smile forming on his lips. "Wolves are quite flexible, you know."

Sirius couldn't laugh, but said lightly, "Joke if you like, Moony, but just wait - I'm certain that I can find something to do that will worry you just as much."

Remus pulled himself upright on the pillows and looked down at his hands. "I don't doubt that," he said. "I worried about you when we were at Hogwarts and when I wasn't angry with you, I was worried about you when you were in Azkaban."

Sirius allowed himself to gaze for one long moment into Remus's eyes. He smiled a sort of half-smile, which Remus returned, and then turned to pick up the tea tray behind him. He placed it on Remus's lap.

"Thanks," Remus said, and then, with a soft chuckle, picked a sugar quill up from the side of the tray and slowly stirred it into his tea, not stopping to drink it until the feathery top of the candy floated lightly on the surface.

Suddenly very tired, but no longer anxious, Sirius reached for a sugar quill as well, rested his head against the wall of the shed, and closed his eyes, feeling the sweetness filter through him. There would always be worry, but there would also always be relief. He heard Remus take a few hesitant sips of tea, and then place the cup and the tray on the floor. Sirius allowed his whole body to recline, reaching for a pillow to put under his head. A moment later, Remus settled next to him, gently sliding one slender arm over Sirius's chest. Their breathing joined into a rhythm, and Sirius finally allowed himself to relax. In seconds, he was asleep.

***

Arianrhod has drawn this lovely picture to illustrate this story!

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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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