The Sugar Quill
Author: JK Ashavah (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Anomalies  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: I don't own any of the people, places, or situations of the Harry Potter universe. They belong to J. K. Rowling, AOL Time Warner, and the publishers of Harry Potter worldwide, included but not limited to Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and Scholastic Books. I am not affiliated with any of the aforementioned, nor do I have their permission to do this. I'm simply a fan having fun.

Thanks to "The Lord of the Rings Quotes" (http://www.coldal.org/quotes.htm) for helping me find an epigraph I like. The quote is from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Two Towers, volume two of The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954 by George Allen & Unwin in Great Britain. (It's page 665 in my HarperCollins edition.) The other quote used in sourced in the text.

Dedication: This is a Second Annual Sugar Quill Fanfic Tournament entry. I'm not writing this to win, but simply to have fun. I have been meaning to write this story for some time, as it is an important part of the backstory to Dux Dolosus, but I never found a reason to do so. I have now. Enormous thanks go to TQ for pestering me to write this when I first had the idea months ago and for beta reading. Thanks are also due to Elanor Gamgee, TQ, and Calliope for their detailed, dedicated beta reading and to Soupytwist, Gilraen, Alanna Granger, and Dad for volunteering to help me with this fic. You all REWL.

I would like to dedicate this to the marvellous administrators, professors, and denizens of the Sugar Quill. Whether or not you are fans of my work, you have always been there to offer me help, support, a good story, a laugh, or just a nice way to spend a Friday evening. I've been with the site for over a year and a half, and have enjoyed every moment. Thank you, Sugar Quill, for ROXing.

 

Anomalies
A Sugar Quill Second Task Fanfiction
By JK

"But handsome is as handsome does we say. Now's a chance to show your quality."
Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

 

Remus Lupin stood by the doors to the Great Hall, watching as frightened students filed past him, led by their prefects. He had kept a close watch on the Gryffindors as, shocked and terrified, they followed Percy Weasley through the corridors to the hall. Their portrait viciously shredded, they had nowhere else to sleep that night. And a dangerous murderer was on the loose in Hogwarts, one who, in a long-distant past, Remus had ... No! he told himself. The past didn't matter. The current moment, the protection of the students, was the most important issue now.

Now all the students were gathered under the centre of the star-studded ceiling, standing huddled in groups of their housemates, whispering. The Slytherins stood at the back of the hall, their prefects leaning against the wall, speaking amongst themselves. The headmaster called for the students' attention. The hall fell silent almost instantly, but it took a few seconds for the last of the Slytherin prefects, fifth-year Antony Bond, to stop speaking. Remus narrowed his eyes, watching the black-haired boy's face as Dumbledore spoke, explaining the dire situation. And dire it was, for the entire castle needed urgent searching. Bond's expression was guarded, but Remus thought he saw a flicker of concern cross the boy's face that none of the other Slytherins showed. Dumbledore conjured hundreds of sleeping bags and instructed the prefects to guard the doors to the hall. The fifth-year Slytherins immediately posted themselves at the main entrance, as did their Ravenclaw counterparts. The remainder of the prefects scattered themselves around the rest of the hall.

Remus began to follow his colleagues from the room, casting a final look at the students who were now beginning to claim sleeping spots. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger were leaning on their elbows, whispering. They looked like they'd be all right. Remus managed a smile, then sighed as he set out to face the collision of his past and present.

He hoped that the staff would find Black and put an end to this torment of memories, but surely the monster would have left already -

"Professor." The voice was low, almost ... dangerous. A black shape swept in front of Remus from the collection of prefects. It stopped between him and the doorway, arms crossed.

"Antony," Remus replied, attempting to step around Bond, but the boy anticipated his move and blocked it. "Antony, I need to help search the castle. Sirius Black is on the loose."

"I know," Bond replied. He took a step closer to Remus. "I wonder how he got in?" His glacial gaze hardened as he scrutinised Remus's face for the smallest reaction. Remus felt himself deflate. That attitude was bad enough from his old classmate Snape, but from his most talented fifth-year student, it was a hard blow.

"Fine, Antony." Remus stepped away from the doorway and the prefects. Bond followed him, eyes guarded and watchful.

The students had been ordered into their sleeping bags, and the lights were put out. In the darkness all Remus could see of his companion was the boy's pale face, so similar to a Malfoy's, and his icy blue eyes. His dark robes blended into the shadows, and his prefect's badge glinted only as ghosts slid by.

"Professor," Antony said, obviously taking care to keep his voice low but still allowing it to be dark and threatening, "don't think I don't know about you."

"Know what?" Remus feigned polite confusion, but his mind was racing. How much did this son of a classmate know? Was his secret known, and as such about to be revealed to the entirety of Slytherin house? After all his care, was he about to be ruined by a boy with a family grudge against him?

"I know you went to school with Black. You're helping him." The tone held as much of the accusation as the words did. That accusation ... how many times had Remus heard it from Snape? Was that not enough? He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, exaggerating its tangle and the way the front of it stood up at odd angles.

"Antony ..." Remus made sure to keep his voice quiet, to avoid the curious ears of students. He shook his head, unable to understand why everyone who knew his past had to make the same assumption. Perhaps it seemed logical to them, but to Remus ... all his life he had faced the same prejudices because of what he was. Now he faced them again because of what one of his friends had become.

Where was the justice in that? Remus struggled to find the eloquent, finely tuned words he invariably sought whenever faced with such prejudice, but as always, they refused to come. "I ... what would I have to gain from helping Sir - Black? Even if I wanted to?"

Bond frowned.

"I don't know. I often find it hard to understand the way the mind of such a wizard works."

"You mean a Dark wizard?" Remus asked with a wry smile. Bond did not reply. His silence was as telling as any word of confirmation. In that moment, Remus recalled an incident from a Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson the previous month. The fifth-year Slytherins had been preparing for their O.W.L s, and as such had been discussing the role of Defence in wizarding society. Remus had never expected teaching that class to be an easy task, but the lesson had gone better than most.

"There are often a number of prejudices against certain members of wizarding society," Remus said, standing behind his desk. He walked to the board and began to draw up a table. "These tend to affect the amount of suspicion with which they are viewed when charged with Dark activity. Can anybody tell me one?"

There was silence from the class.

"Anybody?"

The Slytherins were rarely willing to volunteer information in class. Many of them viewed Remus with open hostility. He had spent countless minutes standing in front of a smirking and infuriatingly silent class as he asked the simplest of questions, such as who had 'forgotten' to put a name on his or her essay. He sighed. Then a hand rose in the middle of the classroom. Remus smiled. Bond. The boy was undoubtedly intelligent, but had a fine Slytherin bloodline, and rarely offered answers without severe prompting. When he did offer an answer, though, it was insightful, thought out, and (in his written work) often compassionate.

"Yes, Antony?"

The boy lowered his hand and cleared his throat. "It doesn't prejudice people towards someone as a Death Eater, but instead against." Remus nodded in what he hoped was an encouraging manner. "Money." Remus examined the boy's face carefully, amazed. Of course, it was true, but it was never spoken of openly by Slytherins. It never had been, even in Remus's time at Hogwarts. "It's stupid, of course," Bond continued. "After all, 'the Prince of Darkness is a gentleman.'" Bond shrugged. Remus felt his face sink into a pensive frown. That sounded like a pre-rehearsed cue, or perhaps a quote of some sort. But it was not one Remus had heard before. What could it be from?

Remus had been so curious he had spent considerable time searching for it. None of the searching had yielded any results. Until, that is, in his puzzlement, he had turned to Muggle quotes. Then he had found it.

"You said something very interesting on the topic of Dark wizards in our lesson a month ago," Remus said in a solemn voice. He put his hands in his pocket and stared up at the stars. As the Fat Friar floated by (smiling as he always did, although with slightly more concern), Remus glanced at his companion. Whether it was a trick of the dim light or true fear, the boy's face seemed paler and more drawn than normal.

"What do you mean?" he asked, his voice unusually strained.

"You quoted Shakespeare," Remus replied casually. "King Lear, act III, scene iv, line ...146, if I recall correctly." Now he was certain he hadn't imagined the look of stunned fear on the boy's face.

"But how -"

"Antony, it's not that hard. I simply looked it up. Admittedly, it took me some time before I found it in a book of Muggle quotations. Not many wizards would expect that. Least of all from you, known as the pureblood tyrant of the prefects. Surely it wouldn't be good for your image." Bond was silent, staring at the floor.

"What I don't understand, Antony, is why. Not why Shakespeare, for that's simply a matter of taste, and many share your passion. But why act the way you do? No-one who reads Shakespeare for fun can be what you pretend to be, the personification of pureblood prejudice. I've watched you, and I've read your answers in class. You're more than that. You're committed to your work in Defence, and you see past the hatred of your housemates. So why the act?" Remus sighed. "Antony, you're only fourteen. You have so much ahead of you, a life of hope and opportunity. When I was growing up, we were deprived of that; it was in the middle of Voldemort's rise. Why ruin your chances of friendship? And why hurt so many people? You have so much to live for, Antony. Don't waste it." The drawn expression on the boy's face made him look far older and more mature than his fourteen years. Yet were those the faint traces of tears on his cheeks as Remus finished speaking? Bond wiped his face with a robe sleeve and sighed.

"I don't have as much to live for as you'd think, Professor. Perhaps I don't hold the same prejudices and beliefs as my housemates. If it were up to me, I would embrace my true feelings." He shrugged. "But that's not how my life works."

Remus stared at the boy with a new respect. "I can see you won't disclose your reasons, Antony. But it seems we're just a pair of misfits, anomalies in wizarding society if you will, defined by our difference. You may not know why, but I understand your position. It's a hard one to live in. I know I would not wish it on anyone. I only hope you manage to make the best of it."

Remus straightened himself with a forced smile.

"Now, with your permission, I must go assist in the search."

As Remus left the hall, he glanced over his shoulder. He saw Antony standing where he had left the boy, eyes fixed on a point on the enchanted ceiling. In that moment, Remus felt a sense of connection with the young Slytherin. For they both followed the same path. And it was harsh, rocky, and above all, lonely. The path of anomalies.

//
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