The Sugar Quill
Author: Thing1 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Veritas  Chapter: Chapter 1
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* 1 *

Sirius Black was seriously put out. Once again, Harry had been forced to spend his holidays with the wretched Dursleys. Harry had insisted that since they had practically stopped speaking to him altogether, it wasnít quite as bad as it used to be, but Sirius wasnít having any of it. He knew that there was a very good reason for it, and that the Dursleys house really was the safest place Harry could be outside of Hogwarts itself, but he was still frustrated. Over everything, really. He was still in hiding, Voldemort still wasnít being taken seriously, Harry was still stuck in that miserable house, and most of the world still believed he was a murderer and the worst possible kind of traitor there was. He let out a deep sigh and laid his head on the corner of Remusí desk. And one more meeting I have to sit through listening to everyone talk about how weíre getting nowhereÖ.

Mundungus Fletcher cleared his throat loudly. Siriusí head shot back up and he gave Fletcher an apologetic look.

"Sorry, Fletcher. It wasnít you, really. Just me wallowing a bit."

"Weíre all frustrated, Black. I canít believe my own nephews wonít take me seriously on this issue. But, I suspect they are like a lot of people who remember the last time this happened. They donít want to believe it could be happening again. They want to think that Harry well and truly destroyed Voldemort on that terrible night all those years ago."

We all wanted to believe that. The price for that belief was just so high.

"Weíll need to make certain that Arthur Weasley and Dexter Tanner arenít being undermined from the inside. Fudge was extremely displeased, I hear, that Weasley missed a few days work last month because he was off Ďdoing something for Dumbledoreí. Heís looking for an excuse to sack them both, and any of Voldemortís supporters with ties to the ministry would be delighted to see that happen. Particularly Malfoy, for some reason."

Remus nodded grimly. "Malfoy dislikes Weasley because Arthur likes muggles and all that; you know that. And he canít be particularly pleased over Ronís open hostilities with Draco. Harry Potterís best friend and all that."

Dumbledore looked thoughtful at this. "Actually, Lucius may be having some troubles of his own with Draco, you know. That boy puts up a great show, no doubt primarily for the benefit of Lucius himself, but I suspect there may be more there than meets the eye." You must be joking. That boy is as rotten to the core as any other member of that family has been, is, or ever will be. But Remus, to his surprise, was nodding.

"I remember Draco, of course. Iíll admit I kept a close eye on him while I was at Hogwarts. Quite rude and brash in front of others, but rather quiet and focused when on his own, I discovered. I thought that was interesting." Remus turned to see Sirius glaring at him, and laughed. "Donít give me that look, Sirius. I know he and Harry are openly hostile to one another. But remember what we were like with Snape, our own version of Draco, right? And look how that turned out."

Think what you like. I refuse to believe it. And Harry would have a fit over this conversation. So would Ron, actually.

"I think, gentlemen, that we have ended our discussion for today. I will give some consideration about the issue of Arthur and Dexter. It would be very unfortunate for anything to remove them from the Ministry." And very hard on the Weasleys too. He saw Dumbledore catch his eye.

"Sirius and Remus; may I stay and have a word with you for a few minutes?"

The others left, after giving their goodbyes, and Dumbledore sat back down in a large chair next to the open window. He looked out at the garden for a few moments, smiling.

"Remus, this is truly a lovely spot. And your garden is excessively beautiful. It must be a very comforting place to sit and relax. Pity none of these flowers would do well up at Hogwarts. Too cold for the poor things." He turned back, and looked at them with his customary twinkle.

"Now, I have two things to discuss with you both. Firstly, there is a rather talented young witch who has been working with us for some time. Very good at the Dark Arts, and an excellent charmer. And just as good at breaking charms. Almost, I would suggest, as good as you two."

Sirius smiled and gave Remus a wink.

"So I thought with the current problem you are working on, that she might be a very good asset to you."

Sirius groaned. Whenever they worked on a project with others, he naturally had to spend most of his time in his animagus form. It was difficult, because not only did it make it impossible for him to communicate anything in a timely manner. And he had discovered, much to his dismay, that when he spent too much time as a dog, his memories of Azkaban would intensify, and he would start having both nightmares and daymares. I spent so much time transformed while I was there, just trying to keep sane in any small way; the memories of that wretched place intensify when I feel things in that shape for too long. Blast it; this witch better be worth this.

He knew he had gone a little pale, and he could feel the scowl on his face. Dumbledore looked at him with concern.

"Sirius, I know that it is particularly difficult for you to remain transformed for long periods of time, such as this project would require," What? RemusÖSirius glared at Remus, who pointedly kept his own gaze on Dumbledore.

"And," continued Dumbledore, "it is difficult to work as effectively as possible in that situation, because you cannot communicate anything until you are alone with Remus. Am I correct?"

As always. "Yes."

"As this is the case, and time is of the essence, I have taken the liberty of explaining the situation to Mrs. Godine. Both of your situations, actually. I trust her as completely as I trust the two of you, and she is satisfied with everything, and has no issues with either of you. She was a few years after you at Hogwarts, you know. Ravenclaw. Yes, I think she came in your fifth year. You probably wonít remember her, but she does remember you two."

Sirius drummed his fingers on the desk. It always made him nervous whenever someone else was told about him, particularly someone he didnít know. But he also trusted Dumbledore, and would just have to relax and get used to the situation.

Remus nodded. "Excellent. In that case, she should come and stay here with us while we work on this. Do you think sheíd mind?" Sirius had to smile. Remus was becoming more and more reluctant to spend even one minute more than was absolutely necessary away from Katie. The baby wasnít due for another two months or so, but Remus was, quietly, starting to fret. Katie had made some very good headway in breaking him of some of his overprotective tendencies towards her, but sheís not going to get anywhere with this. Good thing she knows it.

Dumbledore gave Sirius a knowing wink. "Actually, I have already asked her if that would be acceptable, and she has agreed. Iíll bring her here tomorrow. And the second thing, Sirius, is that I think it would be acceptable for Harry to come here as well, until itís time to return to school. I had been reluctant, Iíll admit, to allow this after the incident with Pettigrew last spring. But, I think that this will be quite all right now. And pleasant for everyone, yes?

Both Sirius and Remus smiled and said, "Yes, Headmaster."

 

***

The next day, Sirius and Katie went to the Dursleyís first thing to collect Harry. The Dursleys did not say a single word to any of them while Harry and Sirius collected Harryís belongings. They did stare at Katie, though, who waited quietly in the entry hall for Sirius and Harry. When they finally got everything in the boot, and had Hedwigís cage secured with a seatbelt in the back next to Harry, Katie began to giggle as she started the car.

"Sorry, Harry; I think they were absolutely horrified to see that the wizard population will not be dying out anytime soon." She patted her stomach and gave him a wink.

Harry laughed and gave a final glance at the house. "I think youíre right about that. You look terrific, Katie. Howís it all going? Feeling good?"

"Feeling wonderful, thank you. The first few months were exhausting, as you know, but Iíve now moved into the Ďglowing expectant motherí phase of the pregnancy, so thatís a welcome change." Oh my do you glow. You practically float around the house. Iíll do best not to mention the happy grin you usually have, too.

Sirius laughed and turned so he could face Harry. "And Remus has progressed nicely into the "Oh my God this is really happening now what?" phase of expectant fatherhood. Donít tease him about it, though, as one of the side effects seems to be a grumpy temper. Well, donít tease him too much. Your dad was the same, you know. All sunshine and light until one day he looked at your mum, looked at her lovely but large belly, and went white as a sheet. "Lily, weíre going to have a baby in two months", he said, rather stupidly Iím sorry to say. Your mum just rolled her eyes and went on with what she was doing. Remus and I teased him mercilessly about it for at least a week. I think Remus is regretting that, now that he knows more how James felt."

Harry grinned. "Wait until we get a go at you." At me? Iím the most wanted criminal in the wizard world. Glad to see heís so optimistic for my future. But he smiled, and turned back to watch the world outside the window roll silently by, oblivious to the fact he was there.

 

***

They arrived back at the Lupinsí shortly before lunch. While Sirius and Harry unpacked the car, Katie took Hedwig and walked into the house. Out of the corner of his eye Sirius saw Remus walk out and give her a kiss, then he seemed to be speaking to someone next to him Sirius couldnít see. Must be our new partner. Wonder if Iíll recognise her?

Sirius turned and set down Harryís trunk as Remus and the woman he assumed was Mrs. Godine walked over. Harry gave Remus a hug.

"Hi Remus. Thanks so much for letting me come."

"You are always welcome here. Iím sorry we couldnít have you here for the summer, but, as you know, Dumbledore wouldnít allow it. Not that some of us didnít try very hard to convince him otherwise." Sirius laughed and put an arm around Harryís shoulders.

Remus turned to the woman next to him. "Elizabeth Godine? Iíd like you to meet Harry Potter," the woman shook Harryís hand, "and Sirius Black."

Sirius stepped forward and had his first really good look at her. I donít remember her, but she was five years behind us. She was a few inches taller than Katie, and rather stocky looking. She kept her straight dark blonde hair pulled in a ponytail, and wore very plain grey robes. But her hazel eyes were very bright, and she had a very calm and collected manner that Sirius liked instantly. Seems very trustworthy, if not a little severe. Rather like McGonagal, actually. He shook her hand.

"Nice to meet you Mrs. Godine. Iím afraid I donít remember you from Hogwarts, though Dumbledore said you were there around the same time we were. Must not have served any detentions together."

She gave a deep laugh, and shook his hand. "No. Actually, I never served any detentions while I was there, Iím afraid. Ravenclaws arenít known as quiet bookworms for nothing."

"Now I remember one or two Ravenclaws serving a few detentions with me. With us, actually," he said grinning at Remus.

"Well, I do remember you both, detentions not withstanding. Actually, what I really remember is your exit at graduation. Donít think anyone has ever managed to top that one."

"Thank you, Mrs. Godine. A lot of planning went into that. Glad to see our efforts didnít go to waste." He looked at Harry, who obviously was dying to hear what this was about, and just mouthed Ďlaterí.

"Please, call me Liz. Iím not one for much fuss and formality."

Remus smiled. "Then youíll do just fine here. I canít thank you enough for agreeing to come here to work. Your husband is very understanding to allow this."

"Actually, Mr. Lupin, Iím a widow, so this is no bother at all." She smiled, but Remus looked instantly apologetic. His least favourite word in the universe. Good thing we get to stay here and work on this for a while yet.

"Please accept my apologies, I had no idea."

"Really, Mr. Lupin, thank you but itís quite alright. It happened a while ago and I guess I just didnít feel like giving up the name." She smiled warmly at them.

"Please, call me Remus. Well, shall we get some lunch? Liz, weíll show you around this afternoon, and weíll start working tomorrow morning. Harry, let me help you with your trunk here." Remus and Harry hoisted his trunk between them and started towards the house. Sirius and Liz followed.

"I am pleased, Mr. Black, to haveÖ."

"Sirius." He smiled at her.

"Sirius, of course. I am pleased to be helping with this. Dumbledore only explained a few details, but this is quite interesting. How did you and Remus come across this anyway?"

"A long story that infuriates Katie, unfortunately. Weíll fill you in out of earshot. But hopefully weíre right about what we think it is. Something is hidden there, we just canít figure out how to get past the charms and spells hiding it. Right now weíre deep in the exciting world, although Remusí happy world, of researching and learning every revealing, breaking, and transparency charm ever written."

Liz smiled at this. "Dumbledore did say that Remus preferred being at his house these days. When is the baby due? I assume itís their first."

Sirius grinned. "Our new marauder is due at the start of November. Yes, it is the first, but trust me, heíll be just as fidgety with any others who may come along."

She laughed. "Well, thatís as it should be, I suspect. We never got Ďround to having any children ourselves."

Sirius looked at her evenly. "You can join me and live vicariously through this one."

As they walked into the dining room, she looked back at him and asked "Why Ďour new marauder?"

Katie groaned and Harry and Remus laughed.

"Liz, you will learn more details than you care to of my husbandís and Siriusí rather sordid career at Hogwarts if you stay here for any length of time. They referred to themselves as Ďmaraudersí then, and they regard this child as an opportunity to wreck havoc, even from afar, yet again"

Remus and Sirius gave her very innocent looks.

"Sordid? Katie, love, thatís not entirely appropriate," said Remus.

Liz grinned. "Yes, I may not have met you at Hogwarts, but I admit I did love getting details of what you had been up to. Iím sorry to say that they were quite the heroes with our year, Katie. Especially after that run-in with Mr. Filch the night after Gryffindor won the Quiddich cup my third year."

Harry again gave Sirius a rather pleading look. This was a new one. Iíll die before I tell this story in front of Katie. Remus can take his own chances. All he said to Harry was "Thatís the night we lost the map. And thatís all you get."

Remus flushed and didnít meet his wifeís eye, even though she was grinning. Katie turned to Liz. "You donít have any details on that, do you?"

Sirius caught Lizí eye. Please, I realise I hardly know you, but Iím begging you not toÖ

"No, actually," she said calmly after catching Siriusí eye briefly. Bless you. "Well, not about what happened, at least. But anything that put Mr. Filch out, well, was regarded as a happy event even by the Slytherins."

Harry laughed, but controlled himself when he saw Katie giving him a look.

"Yes, Iíve met poor Mr. Filch," she said, starting on her lunch. "I made him very nervous for some reason."

Sirius laughed. "Iíd told him the good news by then, and Iím sure he was probably already counting the days before our new marauder hit the school grounds." He winked at Liz. "Heíll need eleven years to prepare himself, I should think." Liz laughed and winked back. I like this one. Sheíll be just fine.

//
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