Written for the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. Thanks to Lizzie for beta'ing!

Prompt: Write about your team's chosen character (Sirius Black) in their 2nd Year
(word) plethora
(colour) bronze
(word) ridiculous

Word count: 2916


"That's stupid."

Sirius snorted as he tossed small cubes of bronze-wrapped chocolate into nine different small piles over the red coverlet. Lying sideways at the foot of James' bed, he leaned on his elbow and stared at Peter with deadpan skepticism. The mousy-haired boy was kneeling on the floor, elbows pressed against the mattress as he divided silver-wrapped chocolates into the same piles.

"I'm telling you, it makes sense! Think about—"

"You're telling me that Remus—our friend, Remus Lupin—is a werewolf." Sirius raised his eyebrows. "Listen to yourself, Peter. A werewolf."

"I think it totally makes sense," Peter huffed.

Sirius let out a laugh. "That's stupid. James, don't you think it's stupid?"

"I'm not getting dragged into this," James said from his place at the head of the bed. "It's been going on since breakfast. Just focus on sorting the damn chocolate."

Over the holidays, James had persuaded Mrs. Potter to purchase the largest package of chocolate Honeydukes offered, and somehow succeeded in stuffing it into his trunk along with everything else he had brought—Sirius suspected the trunk had some sort of engorging charm on the inside—keeping it a secret from all of them until nearly three weeks later, when he was ready to set his plan into action.

It was a ridiculously cheesy idea, really, and Sirius wouldn't have been caught dead doing anything as emotive as this for anyone, ever, but it was Remus, who was sick in the Hospital Wing yet again. So here he was, helping his friends sort the plethora of chocolates into nine even piles—one for each month, because Remus' sickness, whatever it was, happened about once a month—while Peter tossed around far-fetched ideas.

"You keep insisting, Peter," he began again. "But you're forgetting the small fact that Remus is actually a nice kid, and he bloody loses it when I step on ants outside. He's not exactly the type to go out and eat people once a month."

"I didn't say he eats people."

"Then what do you think he does, sit around quietly as a wolf eating custard in the Hospital Wing? Merlin."

"Well," James said as Peter opened his mouth to respond. "I think we should focus on sorting the chocolate, since you've been counting them all wrong, Peter—and Sirius, if you chuck another hazelnut-flavored one at my head again I swear you'll be the one in the Hospital Wing."

"Oh, stop being such a wet blanket."

James glared at him, but grinned less than a second later. Sirius pelted him with bronze chocolates.

With the stacks of sweets neatly separated into different paper bags, the three of them made their way out of the dormitory and through the Common Room. Eight bags were currently hidden under Peter's bed, but James had the ninth in his pocket. It barely fit, but they'd decided that straining his robes was a better alternative than fighting off the curious students they were bound to pass who would be eager to eat whatever was in the bag.

James checked his watch. "D'you reckon Madame Pomfrey will let us see him?"

Sirius shrugged, taking the steps down from Gryffindor Tower three at a time as he walked ahead of the other two. "She usually lets us stop by at least for a second."

"She thinks we're good for him," Peter said. "And if she says no, Sirius can do the whole puppy-dog-eyes thing."

James laughed. "That's the stupidest expression I've ever seen on anyone's face."

"Hey, it worked last year, didn't it?"

It was a sunny, breezy day, and the castle was almost entirely clear of students; most had already made their way out to the grounds. If it hadn't been for Remus' present condition, the boys would have been by the lake long ago.

"Hey, Black!"

Sirius whipped around at the voice, and caught Lucius Malfoy's eye as he watched them from around the wall of a nearby corridor, mouth twisted into a smug smirk.

James seized Sirius' elbow as he started in Malfoy's direction.

"Let go," Sirius snapped, and James frowned.

"What's going on? I thought we were going to see—"

"Yeah, well, there's something I've got to do first," Sirius said tersely, eyes flitting between his friends and the blond Slytherin. Without looking at James' perplexed expression, he tore his arm out of his friend's grip and set off towards Malfoy.

"You know he's a prat!" James hissed after him.

Sirius shot him a dark look. "I can deal with it, okay, Potter?"

James fell back at his words, hand still clutching the paper bag in his pocket. Beside him, Peter looked utterly confused. Sirius set his jaw and kept walking.

As soon as he turned the corner, away from James and Peter's sight, Malfoy pulled out his wand and magically pinned him up against the wall. Rabastan Lestrange and Elvina Avery stood nearby, probably guarding against anyone who might come snooping.

"Always the brave one, aren't you. Very Gryffindor. Your mother sent Narcissa a letter this morning."

"What do you want?" Sirius tried to ignore the way the stone wall dug painfully into his shoulder blades.

"She asked if you're still acting like a Gryffindor worm," Malfoy sneered. "I think I want to see if you can squirm like one"

This was their third encounter since Sirius had gotten to Hogwarts this year. While Malfoy and his cronies had kept away from him during his First Year out of respect for his family name and some hope that he would prove Black enough despite associating with blood traitors and scum, his two months' stay back home had made his stance towards Gryffindor and his new friends quite evident. It seemed that Malfoy—under the encouragement of the other Blacks—had decided on a different course of action: bully Sirius until he cracked.

And Sirius wouldn't. He ground his teeth, but before he could say anything, Malfoy shot him a Stinging Jinx.

He was aiming for Sirius' head, but had to release him from the wall first, so Sirius was able to duck. The jinx hit his elbow, and he bit down hard on his lip to avoid letting a yell escape—he'd been on the receiving end of this spell before, but that didn't diminish the agonizing pain that shot through his arm.

He forced himself to not make a sound. Around the corner, James and Peter were probably still waiting.

Irritated at missing his target, Malfoy lifted his wand again, eager to cause more damage, when Avery started and made a frantic gesture. Malfoy jumped back, wand quickly disappearing into his robes, and Sirius was able to straighten up against the wall just as Professor McGonagall approached them from the far end of the corridor.

She stopped and carefully surveyed the three Seventh Years and the only Second Year.

"Is everything alright?" she asked.

"Yes, Professor. We're just having a chat."

"I didn't ask you, Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Black?"

"What?" Sirius looked up, surprised. He kept his arm firmly at his side despite the pain, but he thought McGonagall noticed anyway.

She kept her piercing eyes fixed on his. "Is everything alright?"

Sirius glanced behind her. Malfoy's pale face was expressionless, but his eyes burned with a threat.

"Yeah," he said casually. "Yeah, we're just talking."

The professor eyed him shrewdly for a second, and then turned to the others. "If you're done discussing matters with Mr. Black, I need him in my office. And don't you have somewhere to be? I do believe Mr. Lestrange has detention to attend to in five minutes with Professor Kettleburn."

Lestrange blanched, and Malfoy shot Sirius one last look of contempt before they left. Sirius kept quiet and tried to adjust his arm in a casual way that didn't give away the pain he was feeling.

He sighed. The last thing he needed was detention, and she was bound to give him one—three days ago, certain books in the library had suddenly begun to curse loudly at their readers, and he, James, Remus, and Peter had been foolish to assume they'd gotten away with it. With his swollen elbow, detention tonight would be hell.

Wordlessly, McGonagall turned the corner and began to walk in the direction of her office, clearly meaning for him to follow. He reluctantly did so.

In the main corridor, James and Peter stared at them with wide eyes.

"Professor?" James rushed forwards, walking rather strangely with the bulky weight of chocolates in his pocket. His eyes questioned Sirius, who shrugged in an I-don't-know-either-mate-but-maybe-it-has-something-to-do-with-the-books? kind of way.

"I'm taking Mr. Black to my office, Potter. I'm sure you and Pettigrew can go wait for him in the grounds."

"Professor, if this is about the books then you might as well take me too because it was both—"

She raised an eyebrow. "What books? My business is solely with Black, but if you have any confessions to make I'd be happy to schedule a detention to appease you."

James fell silent. Peter mouthed what did you do? and Sirius shrugged again. His arm burned.

His friends fell back, and Sirius found himself following McGonagall's tall figure through the mostly empty corridors, now at loss as to what reason she could have to be angry with him.

They reached the door to her office, and he stepped in tentatively. He had already been there more times than any average Second Year, so he was familiar with the chair across from her desk; he sank down on it, feeling small before its high back and in the wide space between the armrests. The door shut with a click, and McGonagall sat across from him, eyes piercing from behind her horn-rimmed spectacles.

"Would you like some tea?" she inquired, two steaming cups appearing on the desk at a wave of her wand.

He shook his head. She pushed one towards him anyway, and he decided not to argue; he drank some. It was sweet.

"I don't think you know this," she said suddenly, fingers crossing over her desk. "But my father was a muggle."

Sirius actually did know this; his mother made a point of calling the Head of Gryffindor House a half-blood strumpet whenever she could, but he wasn't about to share that particular piece of information. Instead, he kept silent, perplexed by the subject of the conversation.

"When my mother met him, she kept her magic a secret—she was terrified that he might reject her, or be afraid of her and of the world she lived in—and so, he didn't find out about it until I was born, and my mother could no longer feasibly keep magic a secret from him. It was a terrible shock. She had believed that hiding it would make things easier, but in the end, keeping it to herself only served to bring a lot of pain and confusion into the family."

Sirius didn't know what to say. McGonagall had never spoken to him like this, much less shared experiences of her childhood. He tried not to shift under her gaze. The pain in his arm was receding, but he wasn't sure if it was just because he was too nervous to focus on it.

"What I'm getting at, Black, is that secrets are never good for anyone."

The weight of her words sank in, and Sirius gulped before he spoke, fixing his gaze on the desk between them.

"And was it?"

"Pardon?"

"Was it easier?" Sirius asked, his voice escaping with surprising earnestness. "When he knew about her."

She paused to think for a moment. "Maybe not at first," she said. "It's not easy to reveal something so weighty about yourself and go on normally from there. Things are bound to be messy, but I do think that if my father had understood the truth about my mother, he would have been able to help her." She looked at him pointedly. "I think the same could be said about your friends. You should trust them with the truth."

Sirius glanced up at her. How had she known? What could have made her guess that he hadn't told his friends about his family yet? Of course James, Remus and Peter knew that his family disapproved of him being in Gryffindor, but he hadn't really let on how much…and he hadn't let any of the older Slytherins get close enough to his friends to hurt them.

"Are you finished with your tea?"

He reached out and hastily drained his teacup, looking up at McGonagall only when he was finished. She still had the same expression of nonchalance on her face, as if they had merely been speaking of classes. He felt slightly unnerved, but oddly relieved as well; he didn't know if he would have been able to bear pity in her eyes or, Merlin forbid, hugs.

At least he hadn't gotten detention.

When he set down the teacup, she stood up and went to open the door for him. As she placed a hand on the knob, she added, "Potter and Lupin are doing worrisomely well in Charms."

Sirius blinked. Was she insinuating that James and Remus' good marks with Flitwick would be useful if they ever got in a fight?

"And I believe some of your friends may have secrets of their own to share with you, once they muster the courage to speak." She opened the door.

"Thanks for the tea," he muttered rather uncertainly.

McGonagall nodded curtly and glanced over his shoulder. "Your friends are here for you, it seems."

He turned and found James and Peter leaning against the wall across from the door. They straightened as they caught sight of him, eyes wide with concern and curiosity. Sirius grinned at them as McGonagall closed the door.

"What was all that about?" Peter asked.

"Beats me," he said, falling in stride with them. "To the Hospital Wing?"

Remus was propped up on two cushions when they found him. He didn't really seem to know what to say when they presented him with the chocolates, but James offered a gruff, "Don't mention it," and the awkwardness was forgotten as Sirius resumed pelting chocolates at James' head. James retaliated with a pillow, much to Madame Pomfrey's chagrin.

Unfortunately, the pillow collided with Sirius' arm, and he winced with pain as it brushed against his pained elbow.

"What is it?" Under his amusement, James looked concerned.

"Nothing," Sirius began to say, but then thought better of it. He took a deep breath. The other three stared at him curiously. "No. It...I—I have to tell you something."

He played with the bronze wrapping of one of the chocolates, scrunching it in his hands in order to avoid looking at his friends. "You know how my family's pissed off that I'm in Gryffindor?" He hadn't wanted to involve them in this; but McGonagall had had a point, strange as the conversation had been. "Well—they're more than pissed… they're furious. Furious enough to set Malfoy and his lot on me. They like—they like to hex me… and stuff…"

James looked aghast. "Malfoy? Like—just now?"

Sirius shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah."

"Why didn't you tell us?" Remus asked quietly.

"Yeah, you know we wouldn't've let them get near you."

"I just—" He paused, splitting the wrap in half with his fingers. "I didn't want to drag you into this. It's not supposed to be your problem. My family's messed up. My mum… my mum's the worst of them all. And—I guess…I guess I just didn't want you to think I was some sort of freak or something."

Peter frowned. "Why would we think you're a freak? You're cool, Sirius."

"Yeah, and it's not your fault if your family's like that," Remus said.

"But you all have such great parents," Sirius said, not looking at them. "I didn't think you'd understand."

He suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder, and he looked up to find James next to him. "Sirius, mate," he said gravely. "Maybe we don't have families like that, but it doesn't mean we won't help you out—and we'll definitely help you out when those idiots come and try to mess with you. We'll teach them a lesson."

Sirius couldn't help the small grin that threatened to spread over his face, even though his throat was in a tight knot and he couldn't seem to get a word out through it.

"And we don't think you're a freak," Remus said, voice oddly quiet. He was clenching the edge of the coverlet in an iron grip despite his weakened appearance and pale complexion. "We'd never think that."

"We're all friends," Peter said with a shrug. "Friends don't care about that sort of stuff."

Sirius shifted slightly on his feet, and pressed the bronze wrapping into a small ball. He chucked it at Peter's head. "Shut up, Peter," he said, but he said it with a smile, and he knew Peter could tell that he was thankful.

Madame Pomfrey swept in soon after, shooing them off. "He'll be healed completely by tonight if you all stop interfering with his rest!" she exclaimed, glaring at them, though there was less sharpness in her tone. They left Remus with a grin on his face and still half a bag of chocolates on his lap.

"Well, he seems to be doing better," Sirius remarked.

"It isn't full moon anymore, that's why—"

"Shut up, Peter, you're ridiculous."