The Sugar Quill
Author: Winters  Story: The Auror  Chapter: Chapter One
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THE AUROR

THE AUROR

 

Chapter 1

 

            The crowds of students milled around the shining steam engine, reluctant parents still clinging to them. The steady trickle of pupils who managed to get aboard hurried to secure their own cabins.

            A group of tall, red haired children who were having trouble escaping their fussing mother were approached by a skinny boy with messy black hair and round glasses, behind which shone a pair of emerald green eyes. A short, wild-looking girl followed him, her dark eyes bright with excitement.

            The mother engulfed them into her hug when she saw them, then shooed the whole group of them away, waving goodbye.

            In the shadows at the back of the platform, the Auror watched everything with full alertness. As the final group boarded the train, she gathered her heavy velvet robes and glided out from her cover, crossing the large platform in only a few long strides. She stepped onto the carpeted floor of the Hogwarts Express and memories came flooding back to her. She did not sway though, nor did she show any sign of having been on this very train before. She was impassive, noncommittal, and above all, she never showed her emotions. She did what was required of her and she did it with spot-on, cold efficiency.

            The warm lighting inside the train brought out shimmers of other colours in the black cloak and hood that were drawn up close around her, and the blue silk of her practical - yet smart - trousers sent glitters of light dancing over the walls of the corridor.

            Every compartment appeared to be full, but the Auror did not get impatient, she just carried on down the aisle. Finally she came to a room that she thought to be empty. Sliding the door open, she saw that she was mistaken - it did not trouble her, that had happened before - but the expression of the skinny black-haired boy with glasses did trouble her.

             Harry thought that the Dementors had been brought back for some obscure reason, and reached desperately for his wand, scrabbling one hand across the seat. Ron had given a gasp of shock, and was also going for his wand. Hermione, though, retained her senses. “Hello. Can we help you?”

            The Auror shook her hooded head once, then slid the door back, more unwanted memories invading her head. He looks so much like James... The next compartment was empty, however, so she slipped inside, and huddled into a window seat, glaring at the land that blurred past her line of sight.

            She had barely driven the demons back when there was a click at the door. She jerked her head, and looked quickly up at the baggage rack - how could she have been so stupid! Cursing her past for distracting her, the Auror tugged her hood closer around her face, and waited for the person on the other side of the door to finish talking and come into the compartment that they had already claimed as their own.

            When the door finally opened, the Auror wondered if her whole set of duties at Hogwarts this term were just someone’s idea of a joke. She stared with invisible eyes at the man who had just entered the compartment. She stared at him as if just doing that could make him go away, go back to the part of her she could ignore, not to appear somewhere she was sure to meet him so often.

            He peered into her cowl as he closed the door, he was still smiling and a flicker was beginning in his eyes. The Auror did not like that flicker. She raised her invisible chin, and her invisible expression was daring him to remember her.

            He finally found his voice. “Hello. I’m guessing you’re Dumbledore’s new Auror?”

            She now narrowed those invisible eyes, and nodded briskly, annoyed by his deviating tactics. He smiled and sat down opposite her, the profoundly dark grey eyes flitting over her, measuring her up, comparing his idea of an Auror to Dumbledore’s idea. “I’m Remus Lupin, teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts this year at Hogwarts.” He held his hand out.

            Her invisible lip curled. How ironic. But she extended her hand anyway, nodding once again.

            His eyes fell upon her hand as it clasped his, and she was satisfied to note a slight widening of them. He looked up again at her and asked shrewdly, “If you don’t mind me asking - where did you get that scar?”

            She gave a harsh shout of laughter inside her head, but she finally opened her invisible mouth, and whispered, “curse,” through an invisible wry grin.

            His lips pressed together as though he’d have liked to say something else, but instead, he just looked into her hood, his eyes having surprising accuracy at pin-pointing the area her eyes were - invisible or not. The Auror felt a slight flash of worry and she wondered if it gave him the abilities to see better through the shadows that the hood cast across her hidden profile. She couldn’t control the shiver that time, the barrage of old scenes playing through her head at breakneck speed.

            The Forest...she was chasing it, catching up on it...nearly there...there. It was what she had most feared, but he had to be avenged...she had to do something...

            The Auror gasped, inadvertently tightening her grip on his hand. She drew back, and drew into herself, back to the safety, less pain, less emotion. He frowned at her reaction, leaning forward in concern.

            “I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

            “I’m fine.”

            He said nothing more, but seemed to be lost in thought for the rest of the journey, considering bleak possibilities. The Auror, however, considered nothing. Thought nothing. At least, she fought to think nothing. Like stills from a Muggle movie, clips of that night echoed and danced in front of her view, tormenting her, and mocking her.

            When the train finally pulled up at Hogsmeade station, it was with relief that the Auror fairly fled from the compartment, and curled up into a corner of the first carriage available. Keeping a wary eye on her surroundings, she also managed to scare off any student approaching her. None of them, it seemed, had any desire to share the short trip with a mysterious creature whose black robes resembled a Dementor’s so closely.

 

*          *          *

 

            The Great Hall was a warm and welcoming area, even to the Auror, who was still trying to suppress her memories. The candles shone brightly, and gave a golden glow to everything in the room; the humming and buzzing sound of excited children discussing plans for the new term - and fond memories of holidays - rose right up to the enchanted ceiling.

            Albus Dumbledore stood to address the mass of people, and the Auror looked up at him as he glanced across everyone in the room, wondering why, oh why did he ever choose her. There were so many other Aurors, who didn’t have such a convoluted history at Hogwarts, and were far better at their jobs than she. So why was she here?

            Dumbledore was seemingly unaware of her troubled thoughts, though, as he directed his twinkling eyes on each student and staff member in turn. “Good evening. And welcome to Hogwarts, all of you. As usual, I shall make my announcements short, but I would first like to address a special issue this term.” The recently sorted first-years looked up at Dumbledore with a mixture of apprehension and reverence, their round faces gleaming in the candlelight. “Due to the... inadequacy of last year’s Auror, I have hand-picked a lady whom I consider to be perfect for the job. She will only be taking one lesson a month for each of you, as Professor Lupin, who I am extremely glad to have back, will be unable to teach at certain times, as I am sure you are all aware.

            “At all other times, Miss Winters will be patrolling corridors, stair-ways and grounds, rather like Mr. Filch does,” there were a few groans at that. “And she will see that you are dealt with in suitable fashion if she catches any of you out of line. Is there anything that you would like to add, Miss Winters?”

            The Auror blushed under her hood, and composed herself sufficiently to say, “No, thank you, Headmaster.”

            “Well, then. That is all...except that I do want you to remember that she is here for protection of everyone, not for the amusement of some.” Then Dumbledore spread his arms wide and smiled broadly. “Let the feast begin.”

 

*          *          *

 

            The Auror soon discovered what the Headmaster had meant by his last comment, regarding amusement. One of the first lessons she had to take was with fifth year Slytherins. As she entered the room, before she had said a single word, a lean boy with shining, slicked back blonde hair said with a smirk, “Are we finally going to be taught about werewolves today? Professor Lupin has been putting it off for ages but it is an essential part of our coursework towards our O.W.L.s.”

            The Auror turned to him in surprise. “Excuse me. The lesson has begun, and I was under the impression that as a teacher, I should be the one asking the questions and making the sarcastic remarks. As a matter of fact, though, yes. You will be studying werewolves in my lessons, and I don’t care what your textbooks say, I don’t want to hear any childish comments about Professor Lupin. Or any others you may know who are unfortunate enough to have the same...problem.” That seemed to stun them into silence for a moment...it even shocked the Auror. Glad of her control and hoping it lasted, she got out the register book from her tattered old rucksack.

            Scrolling down the names, she almost lost that precious control when her eyes fell upon ‘Malfoy, Draco’. Already alarmed by the sight of Crabbe and Goyle’s sons’ names, she couldn’t believe that the son of Lucius Malfoy had been given a place at Hogwarts.

            “D...Draco...Malfoy...” She ground out from between gritted teeth.

            The blonde boy sneered at her hesitation. “Present, Miss.”

            Scowling at them from under her ever-present hood, the Auror knew from that moment that this would be her least-favourite class.

 

*          *          *

 

            Her other classes that day went much more smoothly, however. The additional fifth years that she taught were far more agreeable, the Hufflepuffs copying every one of her words down, and even managing some sympathetic grimaces at the textbook’s descriptions of the werewolf curse. The Gryffindors were in general quite quiet and reserved, being used to letting Hermione Granger answer all the questions for them. But the Auror especially enjoyed teaching those from her old house. The Ravenclaw fifth years were so eager to learn and listen, yet they also joked and questioned. It made her remember the lesson her class had received on werewolves, and how different the class of ‘78 had been compared to all other classes that Hogwarts had ever seen.

 

            Their year had always been an unusual one. Of course, there were still the bullies and the heroes, but there weren’t many...intellectuals in their year. Ravenclaw lost out greatly in the sorting, with only two first years joining that house. But the Sorting Hat had decided, and its decision was final.

            So little Charles Cookson and Sephine Winters were put into the same timetable as the Gryffindor first years. Their continuous wit and wisecracking never seemed to get on the teachers’ nerves, like others’ did.

            Sephy and Cookie were giggling especially loudly one History of Magic lesson, and Professor Binns noticed. It had been years since he had heard laughter in his lessons.

            “Miss Winters do you find something I am saying amusing?”

            “No sir.”

            “Well then, you must have been listening to what I have been saying. Please repeat it.”

            Some of the Gryffindors sniggered. Maybe finally one of the ‘arrogant two’ would get their comeuppance.

            But they were to be disappointed. “ ‘In the March of 1286 the goblin leaders gathered in the Valley of Eoch in Northern Scotland to discuss plans of rebellion. Morin the Malevolent headed the meeting...Miss Winters do you find something I am saying amusing?’   And to top it off she even got Binns’ voice right.

            The ghost looked slightly ruffled, and most put out at having been denied the opportunity to punish Sephine. “So. You do listen. Very well then.” And with that he slipped back into his incessant droning, whilst all looked on the Ravenclaw girl with awe.

            Sirius Black had turned round from the row in front of the pair of Ravenclaws and asked incredulously, “How on earth did you do that?!”

            He’ s just memorised the text book.” She answered matter-of-factly, pointing out the paragraph. “Look. Right there.”

            “Jeez...” Those around her laughed at her mischievous grin, and soon began to learn how to combat the boredom of Binns’ lessons with the Ravenclaws’ help.

 

            By the time their year had reached the fourth grade, although still remaining true to their house personalities, Sephine and Charlie had learnt to compliment the winning team of James Potter and Sirius Black by joining in their antics.

            Defence Against the Dark Arts was usually a lesson in which they indulged in some quality prank-planning, but when Professor Ascentus announced the page number for the day’s lesson, it was revealed to be about one of the most advanced forms of Dark Creatures. James, Sirius, Lily and Peter’s faces fell. All glanced at Remus, who had turned an unhealthy shade of white.

            “...So, I was thinking, if we used that slug-thing on Snape, then...hey, what’s with you guys? I though we were planning our revenge today? C’mon, you don’t think them wolves in the Forbidden Forest are gonna come and getcha, do you?”

            Even Sephine had picked up on the expressions that the Marauders wore, and she had deducted that it would be wise not ask, and wiser not to know. Scowling, she nudged Cookie in the ribs and shook her head in warning.

            “What? I mean, it’s not like there’s anything to worry about here! Is there?” Charlie made a mock-suspicious glance at Ascentus and gasped in ‘horror’. “My God... I should have guessed, Sir!”

            But he exclaimed a little too loudly. “Mr. Cookson? You should have guessed that werewolves only transform in the light of the full moon? Well, yes, you should have guessed that. Now would you care to tell me anything else you ‘should have guessed’?” Ascentus looked down at Charlie over his half round glasses, waiting for an answer. Charlie pretended not to see this look and began mock-frantic scribbling at his roll of parchment.

            Ascentus cleared his throat. “Mr. Cookson?”

            “Mmm?”

            “Are you going to answer my question?”

            “Oh, sorry. I thought it was a rhetorical one. Yeah. I should have guessed that you’d have heard me say that, cause I can never keep my big gob shut?”

            “Pull in the claws; you’re only hurting yourself, Charlie.” Ascentus snorted, and picked up his textbook once more, adjusting his spectacles. “‘The werewolf curse is a particularly nasty curse, as the bearer of it has no control over his or her actions when in wolf form. No matter how much one may only want to do good, or only have a pure heart and innocent wishes, the wolf will embody all opposites of your true self. There are as yet no known cures for the curse, but many of our top alchemists are working towards ways of reducing the suffering on all parts.’ Can any of you tell me, please, some of the disadvantages that one with the werewolf curse would face in our society today?”

            Silence reigned. Not even James or Sirius seemed to know the answer. Lily was more interested in her table than her textbook for once, and Remus Lupin looked like he had been dipped in talcum powder. As he began to shakily raise his hand, Sephine practically leapt out of her chair, hand stretched high above her head. “Ooh! Ooh, Sir! I know!” Everyone looked at her, astonished. But then she scrambled out into the aisle down the centre of the classroom, a grin trying to work its way onto her face. “But I can’t tell you now, because I really need to get to the toilet! And I think Remus does too...or else he may puke on Lily’s notes!”

            Over the gales of laughter, Sephine saw the boy’s surprised expression. He frowned at her in question and mouthed “What?” But Ascentus interrupted the noise of the students. “I think that that would be an excellent idea, Miss Winters, as it’s obvious that Miss Evans has put a great amount of effort into her notes. Off you go then. And stop dancing, child!”

            Sephine pretended to rush from the room in a fit of desperation, but as soon as the door closed, she waited around the corner for Remus to emerge, a look of...panic? upon his pale face.

            He stopped opposite her, apprehension and suspicion plain on his features. “What did you do that for?”

            “I already said, didn’t I? You looked about ready to let loose over the table, so I thought I’d try and save us all the hassle.”

            Very clearly unconvinced, Remus nodded slowly. “Right. Thanks. Do I really look that bad?”

            She grinned playfully. “No worse than usual, honey.” And flounced off down the corridor, leaving an only slightly mollified Remus Lupin staring after her in wonder.

 

            That had been when the Auror should have first guessed. She should have known from that lesson, that conversation, and her friend’s monthly absences. But she had been too preoccupied with her own intelligence. She had been too self-absorbed to put together clues that the others had put together way back in the second year. And it had cost her more than she was willing to remember.

            She sighed, and felt her shoulders slump wearily as she leant forwards on the desk. A hurried march in the corridor made her look up, though, as a billowing set of black robes strode past. The Auror frowned, reaching inside her pocket and floundering for the piece of paper that was ever present there. As she studied it and worked out who had just passed her office in such a fury, she felt another set of memories tickling at her consciousness.

 

            She stumbled out of the hospital, padding quietly down the corridor. All was quiet this late at night.

            She was surprised to find that it didn’t pain her, there was just an odd tingling in her fingers...as though they were almost numb...but not quite. The blood trickling into her palms cooled down the heat that had accumulated there since last night, and the black spots clouded the vision that had been all too clear since last night.

            The balcony in front of her swayed and rocked in and out of focus. She smiled, amused at the comical appearance of her surroundings. As the balcony drew nearer, beckoning her, a confident and yet oddly nervous stride made her turn her head slightly. On seeing who was approaching, she groaned and made for the balcony with doubled determination.

            “Sephine! Stop it!” As he reached out to grab her wrist, his hand drew back just as quickly, and he stared at the shiny red liquid that now coated his palm too. “What on earth do you think you’re doing?!” His normally deep, menacing voice had risen in pitch considerably.

            She sneered at him, trying to move away. He couldn’t understand. Stupid, lousy, traitorous Death Eater that he was. “’rrroff.” the words came out slurred, and she swayed dangerously towards the balcony.

            He swore under his breath, then grabbed her wrist again and hauled her after him, back towards the hospital.

            “No.” She managed to protest. “Don’ wannoo.” But he was far stronger than she in this state, and she almost managed to feel guilty at seeing Madam Pomfrey’s horrified expression. Then she saw Severus’ disgusted expression and she remembered why she’d done it. But, unfortunately for her plans of revenge, the world went black half way to the cold stone floor.

 

            The Auror glanced down at her scarred wrists and frowned in thought. The state she had reached that day had been the ultimate in depression. No longer having any desire to see the next day. But Severus had stopped her. Why? He had never shown any liking to her. In fact he pretty much loathed her for her help in the Marauders’ pranks. So why?

            She sighed and put the piece of paper away. When she left her room she intended to find Snape and ask him, but as she walked up the second flight of stairs her attention began to wander. Soon she found herself just walking up all the staircases - to the top, or as high as one could go. The 3rd floor wasn’t much different from the others, but a small, quiet room at the end of the corridor caught the Auror’s attention. Moving towards it she began to see that a very faint metallic glow emanated from it. She peered around the doorway and gasped in joy at seeing all the old house trophies again.

            Grinning like a kid again, she moved from cabinet to cabinet, reliving everything from point-gaining Quidditch matches to point-gobbling detentions and pranks. The Quidditch cabinet held a plaque for each team combination Hogwarts had seen, and the Auror spent a long time searching for the ones she yearned to see again.

            Finally, finding the plaques for the year she wanted, she sat down slowly on the cold stone floor.

RAVENCLAW QUIDDITCH TEAM

1976

Keeper:

Sephine Winters

Chaser:                                               Chaser:

Rory Oldran                                        Delana Santoas

Chaser:

Kevin Gramdor

Beater:                                                Beater:

Sally Torin                                           Tai Chang

Seeker:

Charles Cookson

            The Auror snorted to herself as she remembered how close the last match of that year had been. Another shining plaque next to the Ravenclaw one interested her:

GRYFFINDOR QUIDDITCH TEAM

1976

Keeper:

Johnathan Sandley

Chaser:                                               Chaser:

Sirius Black                                         Remus Lupin

Chaser:

Paul Fevner

Beater:                                                Beater:

Carmichael Holmes                                        Florence Koft

Seeker:

James Potter

            The Auror shook her head in disgust, remembering that match. But she let herself remember it. Anyone who knew of it wouldn’t hasten to forget it. It had been so unheard of that a Chaser would catch the Snitch, even accidentally. And it had been a while before Madam Hooch would give in and drop the idea of a rematch.

 

            “AND THOSE GRYFFINDOR CHASERS ARE STREAKING UP THE PITCH! LOOK AT THE TEAMWORK! THEY SEEM TO READ EACH OTHERS’ MINDS! WILL THEY FINALLY STRIKE BACK AGAINST THE ALMIGHTY POWER OF THE RAVENCLAWS?” The commentator, Terry Jordan was practically jumping up and down on his stand with the excitement of it all. And he had good reason to - the Gryffindor Chasers were regarded as one of the best teams Hogwarts had ever seen, but so far this game Gryffindor has scored nothing.

            The three Chasers shot towards the Ravenclaw Keeper, who watched as the boy in the centre passed the Quaffle to the boy on his left, dodging the Bludger that had been heading for him.

            Remus Lupin grinned at Sephine Winters as he rocketed towards the goal she guarded. Intending to get past her before releasing the ball, he swerved left and right to try and confuse her. However, she remained perfectly still - watching him approach with an amused expression.

            Finally deciding to go for it, Remus zoomed to her right, desperate to get past her.

            Sephine moved faster than he could have guessed, though, and before he knew it, she had taken off towards the other end of the pitch, Quaffle under arm, throwing a wink back at him. She weaved between Beaters and Chasers, showing off to the crowds as she fooled the Gryffindor Keeper, too, hurling the Quaffle with all her might through the hoop.

            “UNBELIEVABLE! THAT CAN’T BE ALLOWED! OUTRAGEOUS!” Jordan raged and roared, even the new Head of Gryffindor, Professor McGonagall, looked especially sour. But the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, merely smiled as Madam Hooch pondered over a rulebook. Finally, she looked up and nodded reluctantly.

            “Yes, that’s allowed.”

            “WHAT?!” Jordan nearly lost his balance as he leaned forwards. “INTOLERABLE! ABOMINABLE! SCANDALOUS! DISGRACEFUL! ATROCIOUS!” McGonagall finally turned towards him and warned, “Jordan, have you been employed to act as a thesaurus or a commentator?”

            “Yes, Professor, sorry, Professor. THE SCORE IS NOW RAVENCLAW 140 POINTS, AND GRYFFINDOR 30!! COME ON YOU REDS! YOU’D BETTER SCORE A FEW, AND SOON, OR ELSE IT WILL ALL BE UP TO LITTLE JAMES POTTER TO GET THAT SNITCH BEFORE RAVENCLAW SCORE ANY MORE!”

            Almost all the players on the pitch took that statement of Terry Jordan’s completely personally. In fact, almost everyone in the stadium took it personally. To all it was a challenge, waiting to be contested.

            The Gryffindor Chasers huddled tight, beginning another run on the closely guarded hoop at the Ravenclaw end of the pitch. Sephine was still enjoying herself immensely, and the more enjoyed she became, the more relaxed her movements became...more relaxed into the speed needed to guard a Quidditch goal...

            As she saved the Quaffle and began her next attack on the Gryffindor goal, the two Seekers, from opposite ends of the pitch, came to life, and hurtled towards a point mid-way between the goals. Each one was apparently unaware of the other as they both had eyes only for the golden ball floating in wait for them.

            Even Sephine slowed her crazy pace to a standstill as she realised that they wouldn’t be able to dodge one another in time. “Prongs! Cookie!” She shouted, trying to snap them out of it. Remus and Sirius saw it too, and both made their way to the spot where James and Charlie were about to crash.

            Sirius hovered beneath them, looking up out of a windswept black mop, and shouting in futility at his friends. Remus circled them, unsure of what to do. The Snitch didn’t move.

            The entire arena went deathly quiet as James and Charlie collided head-on with a loud ‘tock!’ The Snitch stopped fluttering, its delicate wings hanging at odd angles...and fell straight into Gryffindor Chaser, Sirius Black’s lap. The Seekers, meanwhile, hovered a few feet apart, rubbing their heads and cursing the Snitch for leaving little round dents in each of their foreheads.

            If possible, the crowd had gone even quieter. All waited for Madam Hooch to announce what this meant. She flicked to and fro through the pocket rulebook she carried in her robes at all times, and examined the broken Snitch closely. Eventually, she regarded the crowd and teams with an uncompromising expression. “For that example of Snitchnip five penalty shots will be awarded to Ravenclaw.” The Gryffindor crowds groaned in unison. Hooch blew her whistle sharply for silence. “Enough! Those are the rules! Gryffindors: all but the Keeper, down at the Ravenclaw goal please with the Ravenclaw Keeper, Seeker and Beaters. Ravenclaw Chasers – pick one person to take the shots.”

            Kevin Gramdor stayed opposite Jonathan Sandley, whilst Rory Oldran and Delana Santoas flew away from them, wishing Kevin good luck.

            The stands were completely silent as Kevin fidgeted on his broom, Quaffle in hand. Finally he made a quick surge forwards before hurling the red ball as hard as he could towards the goal. His nerves must have been affecting him worse than it seemed – the Quaffle missed by a couple of meters and Jonathan seemed to sag a little on his broom in relief.

            The second penalty was saved, the third missed again, but the fourth and fifth hit their target. Ravenclaw left the pitch that day triumphant – winning by 160 points to 30.

 

            The Auror laughed quietly at the memory of that match and the time after it. She had laughed then too - albeit not so quietly. Never took anything seriously. The amount of trouble she had given James, Cookie and Sirius for it though...They’d had those Snitch-impressions in their foreheads for almost the last two weeks of term; not even Madam Pomfrey could do much about them. And Sirius...well he’d actually been quite embarrassed behind that elaborate facade of arrogance. He’d never asked for the Snitch to fall on him! Of course, you rarely get what you ask for, often get what you don’t ask for. The Auror reflected, pondering the gleaming gold of the trophy.

            How long she sat there she didn’t know, but lost track of time, and finally allowed herself to drift through some long-forgotten memories. Only innocent ones, though. She was fed up of ones of the other sort. Eventually, as the trophies achieved an eerie sliver-blue light from the cold winter sky appearing through the high windows, she shivered, and left the warm memories with the warm light. Becoming cold and efficient once more with the cold light...she hoped.

 

*          *          *

 

//
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