The Sugar Quill
Author: Crookshanks  Story: A Traitor in Their Midst  Chapter: Chapter 3: The Christmas Present
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, they’re J

Disclaimer:  These characters are not mine, they’re J.K. Rowling's. 

 

A/N:  Thanks go to Arabella for beta-reading!  J  And also, thank you Rachel for giving me the quote, ‘Somebody’s in a bad mood’.

 

Chapter Five:  The Christmas Present

 

As the Christmas break approached, the teachers began to pile more and more homework on the students.

 

‘Ergh, I can’t stand this anymore!’  Tory exclaimed one day, after a particularly difficult Potions lesson with Professor Snape (who was the Potions teacher as well as the Headmaster.  As if they didn’t already have enough to do with him!).  Christopher Longbottom had added his newt tails too early, and the whole potion blew up in his face, giving him an enlarged nose and several boils.  Snape had already been in a very bad mood that day, and had given poor Christopher detention and taken twenty points from Gryffindor for his ‘clumsiness.’  Then he had given an extra amount of homework because they apparently ‘hadn’t learned enough.’ 

 

‘Me neither.’  Jenny looked once again at the large pile of homework Snape had given them, and groaned loudly. 

 

They took seats in the Great Hall for lunch.  Setting her books down, Jenny peered around the table, and was relieved to see that Christopher’s nose had gone back to normal size with no boils on it. 

 

‘Oh!’  Tory jumped to her feet.  ‘Jenny, I forgot my bag of potion ingredients in the dungeon!  I’ll be right back.’  Tory took off, nearly crashing headlong into a Ravenclaw Prefect.

 

‘So, you aren’t a Mudblood, Granger.’  The voice that spoke was full of a horrible, twisted kind of laughter.  Jenny did not need to turn around to know who it was. 

 

‘Malfoy, go back to your slimy Slytherin table.’

 

‘I asked my father about your surname.  He told me everything.’

 

‘Shut up.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.’  Jenny hissed.  But—who else would tell her?  No!  No!  No, she was not going to hear it from Malfoy.  ‘What… did he tell you?’  Jenny hated herself for asking Malfoy that.  Those five words… she knew she was going to regret this…

 

‘You mean you don’t know?  Well, of course you wouldn’t... my father said--’

 

‘Oi, Malfoy!  C’m ‘ere, look at this!’  Malfoy gave one last sneer and hurried over to the Slytherin table to see what his friend was pointing at in the Daily Prophet. 

 

Jenny already knew what they were looking at.  They were pointing to the page on the escape of Ron Weasley. 

 

Jenny could have sworn she saw Malfoy sneer at her again.

~*~

 

 

In the late evening, just before twilight, Jenny sat alone in her room, curled up in a ball on her bed with the hangings shut.  She thought about what Malfoy had said as she stroked Crookshanks absentmindedly.  The cat’s yellow eyes were like two shining suns as he closed them happily; his body became an orange mountain, which rose and fell like the rolling waves in an ocean as he purred softly after each rhythmic breath.  He was lucky.  He knew his family, even if he was a very old cat.

 

Jenny was wearing a white shirt, which made her long, red hair look like wine up against it.  Her hair was unusually straight tonight—normally it was wavy so it looked half its real length, and she was surprised at how long it had gotten to be.  I  wonder what my dad’s hair was like…

 

She wondered what Malfoy had been talking about.  She wondered if her mum had been a witch.  Did everyone know something she didn’t?

 

‘Jenny?’  Tory’s voice came from the door.  Jenny didn’t want to talk to anyone right now.  She wanted to be alone.

 

Jenny pretended to be asleep.

 

~*~

 

Jenny awoke very early that morning.  The sun hadn’t even risen yet, but it was near dawn, because there was a thin line of pink on the horizon.  Something had been troubling her, so she had gotten up.  From the windowsill, she watched the Gryffindor Quidditch team practice. 

 

It was Christmas Eve.  This would be the first Christmas she’d had without her mum.

 

She just remembered what she had wanted to do last night.  Jenny took out a quill pen, her ink and a piece of parchment from under her bed. 

 

Dear Mum,

            I’m beginning to worry about you.  What is happening?  Why aren’t you replying to my letters?  It’s nearly Christmas, and you still haven’t sent me a letter!  Classes are fine, but I hate Potions.  I really hate Malfoy.

 

Much love,

Jenny

 

Jenny rolled up the parchment and left the dormitory.  She had just reached the portrait hole, when she heard someone speak behind her.

 

‘Where’re you going?’  The voice belonged to Tory.  She was in a crimson armchair, her hair was a mess, and she had deep circles under her eyes.

 

‘To the owlery,’ Jenny replied hastily, pursing her lips.  She didn’t want to talk.  She wanted to send a letter.  ‘You look tired.  Why don’t you go back to bed?’

 

‘I’m coming with you.’  Tory gingerly got to her feet and yawned widely.

 

‘I want to go alone,’ Jenny snapped. 

 

Tory looked slightly hurt, but turned to go back to bed, muttering under her breath, ‘Somebody’s in a bad mood.’

 

Jenny took off at once, though she felt slightly sorry for being so harsh on Tory when she had just wanted to comfort her.  Jenny decided that she was not a morning person.

 

Jenny took a slower pace once she had gotten all the way to the third floor near the owlery.  There were only a few people up, but they were either ghosts or teachers.

 

Once inside the owlery, Jenny found a small brown owl that seemed to be waiting to deliver a letter.  He eagerly extended his leg for Jenny to tie the letter to.  The owl took off through the window; however, she remained where she was, looking all around her at the different owls.  Some were small, some large, some brown, some gray and some were a snowy white.  It fascinated her to see so many owls.  It’s funny, Jenny thought, how much I have to get used to in the wizarding world.

 

~*~

 

The manor’s walls looked silvery in the pale moonlight.  They stood tall and menacing.  Just like prison walls…

 

The thought haunted Ron.  Prison was worse than a nightmare.  Malfoy was going to pay for all the years Ron had had to suffer.  Ron was going to follow him, haunt him. 

 

And then he would find Jenny and tell her the truth.

 

~*~

 

Jenny was shaken awake by Tory.

 

‘Jenny!  OI JENNY!  Are you alive?  C’mon Jenny, it’s Christmas!’

 

Jenny sleepily opened her eyes and was instantly yanked out of her bed and pulled downstairs into the common room.  She dropped into a chair near the fire, longing for the warmth of her bed.

 

‘Jenny!  Look, you’ve got presents!’  Jenny’s eyes widened as she spotted her pile on the floor under an enormous tree, which was decked with little, shining ornaments that moved and spoke when she came near enough.  It was amazing.

 

Tory, Jenny spotted, had already open a fair amount of her own presents, and was waiting eagerly to see what Jenny had gotten. 

 

Jenny sighed and stumbled over to the tree, wishing she was still in bed.  She usually loved Christmas, but it just wouldn’t be the same without her mum.  Every Christmas, she would wake up to the smell of breakfast, which was different every year; she and her mum joked and talked all through the meal, and barley ate at all, but Jenny hadn’t really minded that.  After breakfast, they would open presents under their Muggle tree, which was nothing compared to this one, and she had gotten very few presents at home as well.  Jenny suddenly felt very grown up, being on her own without her mum on Christmas. 

 

Tory handed her a box wrapped neatly in red paper.  This is Mum’s, she thought, amused at how her mum even wrapped presents neatly.  She grinned as she remembered her last Christmas with her mum.  Jenny had been helping her wrap presents at the kitchen table, and her mum had been carefully taping and folding while Jenny hadn’t cared whether her own boxes had looked neat or not.

 

‘Jenny dear, please try not to be so reckless with the folding.’ Her mother had said.

 

Jenny had let out an exasperated sigh.  ‘I’m not being reckless, I’m being creative.’

 

‘Jenny, that present is for aunt Matilda, and it’s fragile.  Be careful!’ her mum had warned, though Jenny had continued ‘being creative’.

The memory made her miss her mother even more, so Jenny shifted her attention to the present instead.  She tore open the paper, and lifted the lid of the box.  Inside lay a large blue book, about as thick as the tree trunk.  Tory raised her eyebrows and Jenny stifled a laugh as she read the cover:  Hogwarts, a History II:  From 1899 to 1999 Hogwarts.

 

Tory suddenly stopped laughing.  ‘I thought your mum was a Muggle, Jen.’

 

Jenny shrugged and went to open another present.  ‘I guess she went to Diagon Alley to get it.  Muggles can go in there, you know.’  Wait… without a wand?  How DID Mum get it?

 

Other than the book, Jenny had gotten a box of chocolate frogs and a box of sugar quills from Tory (she had gotten Tory the same thing.  ‘We could’ve just kept our own presents!’ Tory laughed when Jenny had opened it.), from some of the other Weasleys at Hogwarts (David, Rachel, Fay, Ben, Samantha, Carrie and Percy Jr.), she had gotten a sack of treats for Crookshanks and a maroon sweater (‘Ugh.  I HATE maroon,’  Jenny thought to herself, and decided that this would go in the bottom of her trunk), a chess set from Sarah, and dungbombs from Tom and John.

 

Jenny and Tory began to play a lazy game of chess, and Tory was losing very badly to Jenny.  Chess was Jenny’s favourite game, and she always won.  True enough, Jenny’s rook knocked Tory’s bishop (which was her last piece save the king) off the board with a violent swing.  Jenny’s rook was free to checkmate the king.

 

Tory pushed herself off her stomach and began circling the tree, looking for extra presents that they hadn’t yet opened. 

 

‘Jen, there’s one more present for you.’  She came back from behind the enormous tree carrying a square box in her arms.  The paper covering it was a midnight blue with little stars and moons that twinkled.

 

Jenny slowly unwrapped it, not wanting to ruin the beautiful paper (this reminded her very much of her mum unwrapping a present), and deciding to save it.

 

Inside, there was a book.  But it wasn’t the same type of book her mum had given her:  this was a photo album.

 

‘But who would send me a photo album?’ Jenny thought aloud, her brow furrowed, ‘I already have presents from everyone who would send me any.’

 

‘Maybe someone sent you more than one thing.’  Tory said, ‘I sent you two things.  Or—or maybe, Jenny, you have a secret admirer!’ 

 

Jenny shrugged and flipped open the cover.  On the first page, there was a picture of three people about her age.  One looked familiar…

 

‘There’s a note.’  Tory said, handing the small piece of parchment to Jenny.  ‘What does it say?’

 

Jenny frowned down at the words.  She was confused.  ‘It says, I thought you might need to look at this.  Maybe the pictures will help you make sense of everything.

//
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