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Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or anything associated with it. I'm not making any money from this story, and I don't intend to.
Challenge & Summary: Challenge FM #15: Why does Sirius have such an obsession with Sugar Quills?
Author Notes: None.
It was unnaturally early to be awake.
Sirius put his pillow over his head. The sun was too bright. Someone had forgotten to draw the curtains last night. By common agreement among the five boys, they were supposed to take turns, and last night had been Remus's.
Half-asleep, almost subconsciously, Sirius rolled over and kicked the bed next to his hard, expecting Remus to respond with some sort of angry yelp. Grunt. Moony-noise. At which point Sirius would lie still again and pretend to snore a little, and Remus would look around blearily before going back to sleep, and then they'd repeat the routine until both of them were fully awake.
This time, however, his ears were greeted with an unsatisfying sproing from the mattress.
Sirius opened one eye, slowly. The curtains round Remus's bed were open, and it was empty.
"Aw, bloody - " he muttered, and opened the other eye. He rolled over to the other side, and kicked James's bed.
"...ummmph," murmured James.
"Where the hell is Moony?" asked Sirius.
James didn't answer.
Sirius sat up, and immediately lay back down again. His head was throbbing. It was not a time for humans to get out of bed, and it was all Remus's fault. Not drawing the curtains at night was one thing, but really, it was very rude of him not to be there to react when his bed was kicked.
Eight o'clock in the morning. Sirius hadn't realised that such a time even existed. When was his first class, anyway? How much longer would he be able to sleep (or try to sleep)? And what day of the week was it -
The answer came to him, suddenly, like a cold splash of water. He sat bolt upright.
"It's Saturday," he said aloud.
The sound of James's breathing from the bed next to his was the only reply.
Sirius blinked several times and looked at Remus's bed. Empty. Definitely empty.
"'S not right, that," said Sirius to no one in particular. "People should be. You know. Doing that sleeping thing. On Saturday morning."
Damn Moony. Sirius was wide awake now. Chalk another piece of blame up to him.
Sirius got out of bed and dressed slowly. As he was putting on his shoes, getting ready to leave, he noticed something on the floor, near the foot of Remus's bed. It was white, long, and looked sticky.
He picked it up. It was a sugar quill.
"Hmmm," said Sirius, and then, with the disdain for hygiene characteristic of all teenage boys, he put one end of it in his mouth and started sucking thoughtfully.
It occurred to Sirius that he had never seen the school so empty during term-time. And then, a split-second later, it occurred to him that he'd never been up early enough to. The abandoned corridors and silent gardens only served, however, to reinforce his conviction that this was an unnatural time of day.
And yet somehow, despite the comparative lack of people to make up the haystack, he still could not find Remus, who was proving to be quite the annoying needle.
Twirling the sugar quill with the fingers of one hand, and still chewing on the last of his breakfast - a pear tart, which the house-elves had tried to give him five of - Sirius walked round the lake. It was, for the most part, deserted. He glanced towards their favourite tree. He didn't realise, until he saw there was no one there, that he'd been subconsciously expecting Remus to be in his spot with a book on his lap. Like he always was. There were four well-worn patches under that tree, where the grass was flatter and a bit less green, and one of those patches belonged to Remus.
But he wasn't there.
Dammit, thought Sirius, and lifted the sugar quill to his lips again. This wasn't Moonylike behaviour. Moonys were dependable, and safe, and generally good at being what Padfoots weren't.
Sirius tried to take a bite of the quill, and immediately felt like he had broken a tooth. He ducked into the nearest toilet and grinned into the mirror, where he saw, to his great relief, that everything in his mouth was intact.
He scowled at the sugar quill. Then he imagined it was Remus, and he scowled even more.
Well. Not in the gardens, he thought, as he emerged wondering where to look next.
James Potter and Peter Pettigrew were blissfully asleep.
James, sprawled out on his bed in a most unglamorous pose and snoring lightly, was dreaming of the little red-haired girl who was his partner in Potions and kept turning him down for dates. Peter was hugging his knees, a beatific smile on his face.
Neither of them stirred when Sirius flung open the door. "The Map, where's the Map?"
Frank Longbottom threw a pillow at him and mumbled something. James and Peter remained most determinedly asleep.
Sirius walked over to James and poked him in the side. "Wake up, Prongs. I need the Map."
James's response was to murmur Lily's name.
Sirius gave him another hard prod for good measure, and glanced over at the next bed. The last time he'd tried to forcibly wake Peter, he'd been rewarded with an unconscious fist in his face and a bruise that didn't fade for a week. Peter had been horrified and apologetic for a week, which had annoyed Sirius almost as much as the exponential increase in the number of girls fawning over him and his injury.
He pawed experimentally through James's trunk. No Map there, not that he'd been expecting success. James had any number of excellent hiding places for it. If Remus had been here he would have been systematic about it, and gone through everything with a ruthlessly methodical efficiency until it turned up, but Sirius was incapable of that.
It was so damn irritating how Remus had to disappear when he needed him, Sirius thought. Then it came to him that if Remus had been here, he wouldn't have been needed. It confused him to think about it, so he let the thought go.
He stole a piece of paper from James and tried to make a list of places to look, but as the quill hit the paper he realised that it was the sugar quill he'd been absently carrying around and sucking on the whole morning. "Idiot," he muttered to himself, and crumpled the paper into a ball.
He shoved the quill back into his mouth, tilted back in the chair, and looked idly round the room. Then he caught sight of himself in a mirror. All of a sudden, it hit him.
Slowly, without taking his eyes off the mirror, he bent forward. He leaned over an imaginary book and flipped a page. And he kept sucking on the sugar quill.
An image flashed through his mind.
Sirius stood up abruptly. "I know where he is."
Madam Pince looked up in disapproval as a fifth year Gryffindor boy barrelled through the doors of her library and stopped, panting, at her desk. She adjusted her glasses and frowned.
"Er," said Sirius. "Hi. Remus Lupin. Is he here?"
Madam Pince's gaze darted swiftly to the sugar quill in Sirius's hand. "No food in the library!"
"I'm not going in," said Sirius, feeling almost as offended as Madam Pince looked. "I just need to know where Remus is."
Madam Pince whipped out her feather duster and began dusting vigorously at the edge of the table, pushing Sirius back. "No food in the library!" she repeated sharply. "And get out if you're not using the books."
"But I - " Sirius protested, all the while being driven further and further out by Madam Pince, who'd got up from behind her desk and started brandishing her feather duster at Sirius.
"Looking for Lupin?"
Sirius's head whipped around. Professor McGonagall was standing just behind him at the door, looking impassively in his direction.
He nodded, and as an afterthought hid the sugar quill behind his back.
"He was here," said Professor McGonagall. "About half an hour ago. Then he left with some books."
"No way," said Sirius in disbelief.
Professor McGonagall returned his shocked gaze with a stony one of her own.
"Er. I mean, thanks, Professor."
She nodded, and went over to the counter, where Madam Pince had resumed her position.
"Wait, Professor," Sirius called. "How did you know - "
"That you were looking for Lupin?" She turned. "You would hardly be here to study, Black. And Potter and Pettigrew would undoubtedly still be asleep at this hour. That leaves Lupin."
"Oh," said Sirius. "I suppose it does."
Remus was twirling a quill in his fingers, reading a long roll of parchment, when he suddenly heard footsteps and a loud rustling of grass from beside him. He didn't look up. "Good morning, Sirius."
"I look all over the school," said Sirius accusingly, "and here you are, in the first place I looked. That's not fair. I even had to go to the library."
"You should just have done that first," Remus pointed out, as Sirius brushed off his patch of grass and sat down, upsetting a pile of books in the process.
"Moony, normal people don't go to the library on Saturdays," Sirius said. "Normal people don't think about the library on Saturdays. And I, unlike you, am a normal person."
Remus continued reading his essay. "You just spent half the day tracking someone down. Normal people would have used the Map."
"I couldn't find it," muttered Sirius sullenly. "James hides it too well."
"Did you look between the pages of the Potions textbook?"
"No. Why would I want to go near it voluntarily?"
"He puts it there sometimes," Remus explained. "Just so that he can sneak it to Lily Evans during potions, and if she opens his book and asks him what it is, he can nonchalantly demonstrate what a work of genius it is, and then claim all the credit."
"I know. He thinks it's clever of him, though."
"Well, but see," started Sirius, "if you'd been around, I would have known where to look. It's your fault for being hard to find."
Remus ignored this. "So how did you end up in the library, anyway?"
Sirius sucked intermittently on the sugar quill as he answered. "I was in the dorm, on a chair, and I was sucking on this sugar quill, and then I saw myself in a mirror and I thought hey now, that looks familiar... and I pretended I was you and I had a book, and I remembered you suck on sugar quills when you study - "
Remus put down his scroll, and finally glanced upwards at Sirius. "That's not one of mine, is it?"
Sirius took it out of his mouth and looked it at. "It probably is. But I've sort of grown attached to this one."
"What, more than you already are to anything from Honeydukes?" Remus raised an eyebrow.
"It helped me find you. Kind of," said Sirius, suddenly aware of sounding mildly ridiculous. "And it's lasted all day. Very hardy, this sugar quill."
"I can see that." Remus started rolling up his scroll. "Was there something you needed me for?"
Sirius thought hard. There had been something, he knew it, but it'd somehow been forgotten in the hunt. And it was odd, because he didn't feel right now that he needed Remus very terribly; but at the same time, a tiny part of him also knew that if the Moony-shaped hole ever appeared in his life again he would have to keep searching, until he managed to fill it up once more. Moony-shaped holes just weren't supposed to be there. They couldn't be there. The very idea of a permanent hole made Sirius panic a little, and he pinched his arm to shake himself out of it.
Then he remembered. It was the curtains.
"You didn't draw the curtains last night," he announced triumphantly. "The sun woke me up."
This last statement, he realised, was not strictly true, as it was the discovery of Remus's absence from bed on a Saturday morning that had woken him up, but he felt it would be too confusing for all parties involved to elaborate.
"That's it?" Remus asked.
"That's a big thing, Mr Lupin," said Sirius, somewhat annoyed with himself for fouling up the grand admonition.
"Oh." Remus smiled. "Well. I do apologise then, Mr Black. And you may have another of my sugar quills as recompense. Let's go back."
He picked up his books and scroll, glancing over his shoulder at Sirius. "Coming?"
Sirius popped the last of the first sugar quill into his mouth, and stood up. "Right behind you."
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