The Sugar Quill
Author: Jelsemium  Story: A Harry Situation  Chapter: Chapter 2: Owl Afternoon
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A Harry Situation

A Harry Situation

Chapter 2: Owl Afternoon

 

By Jill Weber/ Jelsemium

Characters copyrighted by J.K. Rowling and used without permission or intent to make a profit.

 

Hail and Salutations to David Gordon Rowling Murray!

 

 

The Weasleys at the Burrow:

 

It was a hot, muggy July afternoon shortly after Harry had sent Ginny the cat, when Molly Weasley decided that it was time to clean the attic. “I haven’t heard the ghoul for several nights,” she said. “Likely the heat has sent it into… oh, what’s the word? Not hibernation…”

 

“Aestivation,” Virginia “Ginny” Weasley supplied.

   

Molly beamed at her youngest and only female offspring. “Thank you,” she said.

 

Ronald, Molly’s youngest son, scowled at his sister. “Show off,” he muttered.

 

“Try reading sometime, Ron,” Ginny advised. “Something besides Quidditch magazines and Martin Miggs comic books.”

 

“When did you start channeling Hermione?” Ron muttered under his breath.

 

Ginny opened her mouth to respond.

 

“Reading your textbooks would be a good idea,” Molly said to Ron, interrupting the argument with the ease of long practice.

 

Mu-um! Summer’s just started! I’ve got plenty of time!”

 

“Then you can help me clean out the attic,” Molly said firmly.

 

“MUM! It’s like a dragon hatchery up there!” Ron whined.

 

“Or you can degnome the garden.”

 

“Can’t say that there’s nothing to do!” Ginny said snidely.

 

Ron stopped, mouth slightly ajar. Which was worse, an essay about dragon bile or cleaning out the stifling hot attic? He sighed. “I’ll get started on my homework,” he muttered. “I’ll be outside.” He grabbed some school gear and headed outside. Hedwig swooped off the perch and flew past him when he opened the door.

 

“Do some degnoming while you’re out there!” called Molly.

 

“Yes, Mum,” Ron sighed, letting the door bang shut.

 

Molly just sighed and shook her head. “Why can boys remember every time their favorite Quidditch Seeker gets fouled, but can’t remember to shut the door?”

 

Ginny shrugged.

 

Molly turned to Ginny. “Why don’t you and I see if we can get a start on the attic? Unless you have homework?”  

 

“I’ve finished my potions essay,” Ginny sighed. “Hermione was going to send me copies of her last year’s notes to help me with my other essays.” She didn’t want to clean out the attic, but there was no escaping once Mum had made up her mind. Better to just get it over with.

 

“Good, then, let’s make up a batch of lemonade and get started.”

 

Ginny sighed more loudly and gave her mother a sideways look. “Ron’s just going to write to Harry, you know that.”

 

Molly smiled wryly. “Well, Harry probably wants his owl back,” she said. “Besides, the poor dear needs some cheering up.” We all need it, actually, she added to herself.

 

 

Harry at #4 Privet Drive

Harry moved to the window quickly when he heard the tapping noise. He frowned a little when he didn’t recognize the tawny owl perched on the windowsill. He opened the window with some reluctance and moved back a few paces. The owl had a medium-sized package on either foot. Evidently whoever had sent it had tried to balance the load. The sender was obviously somebody who put some thought into things.

 

The tawny owl settled down on the desk and held its right leg out expectantly. This leg had a letter attached to the package. Harry cocked his head so he could read the envelope without touching it, then he relaxed a little when he recognized the writing as Hermione’s. “Well, hello,” he said, putting Hedwig’s water dish next to the owl while he removed the packages.

 

He relaxed even further when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be Portkeyed away to some foul destination. He sighed; he’d been feeling so jumpy lately he was beginning to annoy himself. “I’ll be just like Mad-Eye Moody by the time I leave Hogwarts,” he told the owl, who just blinked at him.

 

Harry fed the tawny an owl treat as he removed the second package. He turned the envelope over in his hands a few times before opening it. The paper was embossed with glossy yellow butterflies and pink and blue flowers and… and… was that a faint whiff of perfume? Perfume? From Hermione the bookworm? EEK! She wasn’t… please… flirting with him? He shook his head. Impossible. More likely Hermione had been given the stationery as a present and was merely using it up, like the practical girl that she was… please.

 

“Dear Harry,

 

This is Blodwen. I bought her as an anniversary present for my parents so they could write to me more often at school, and so I could write to my friends more often during the summer. I can’t have an owl AND a cat at Hogwarts, and I’d rather have Crookshanks, anyway. You can’t snuggle up to an owl! So technically this is my parents’ owl who is going to be spending a lot of time at Hogwarts. It got rather tiresome to have to wait until I received post before I could write to anybody, and then I couldn’t always write to the person whom I wanted to write to, because the original sender of the owl would be expecting an answer… anyway, enough babbling.

 

How are you? I hope you’re not still blaming yourself for what happened to Cedric. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!  Tell me the truth. I know you’re not ‘fine’ and if you say that you are, then I will have to do something rash. Literally. I know I’m not permitted to hex you, but I’m sure I can find some Muggle way of giving you a nasty rash… there are Muggle equivalents for everything. You know how ingenious we have to be in order to survive without magic.

 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Muggle equivalents of hexes lately. It will be easy enough to deliver them, (Can you still smell the perfume that I spilled earlier?) (Harry sighed with relief. Spilled perfume he could deal with. A flirty Hermione, he could not.)  I am very close to coming up with something nasty that I can spray on my letters. Mostly because Ron is being an absolute prat over my upcoming visit to Bulgaria. Honestly, what does he expect to happen? My parents will be there, Viktor’s parents will be there. I wish I knew what’s got into that boy.

 

Anyway, please answer right away, I want to know how fast Blodwen is at delivering mail, among other things. This is her second delivery. Her first was to Prof. Dumbledore, so he would know that she’s my parents’ owl. One of the few not-prattish things that Ron said to me in his letter was that there are special wards around your place to screen out unwanted mail. I guess anything Dobby could do, Dumbledore can do better.  Ron said that all the Weasley owls had to be screened, so I thought I’d better do the same.

 

I’m enclosing some stationery supplies for you, just in case you’re running short.

 

Harry frowned as he opened the first package. The stationery was cream colored and stiffer than any parchment he’d ever used for school, but at least it didn’t have flowery stuff and perfume on it. There were also two fountain pens and an ink eraser enclosed. Trust Hermione to find a pen that could be used like a quill, yet not look too un-Mugglish to the Dursleys. Curious now, he opened the second package to find a fresh bottle of ink. He weighed the two packages in his hand. Yes, the inkbottle weighed about as much as the pens and the paper. Hermione seldom went wrong with details like that. He went back to his letter.

 

Don’t worry, this isn’t your birthday present, I have something quite nice picked out for you and it’s not a book. I think you’ll like it, even if it isn’t laden with sugar or information about Quidditch. I bought one for myself and it’s quite amusing.

 

Harry raised an eyebrow. There’s something Hermione likes besides books? Alert the media!

 

By the way, I hope you recognize the source of Blodwen’s name, as it was part of our History of Magic essay. Even if you haven’t finished writing it, you should have at least done the reading by now. Let me know if you need any help with outlining or anything. And you know I’ll be glad to proofread your essays for you, if you feel the need.

 

Love from,

 

Hermione.”

 

Harry frowned and tapped the letter against his fingers. Hermione’s comment about Muggles having to be ingenious sounded rather sarcastic to him. He hoped he was just imaging things. He didn’t like to think of Hermione getting bitter over how some wizarding folk treated Muggles.

 

He tried out the ink and found it was a sepia tone. The brown ink on cream paper looked very… colour coordinated… he thought. Then he shrugged and made a mental note to not use this with Ron. He could just imagine Ron’s reaction to fashion-forward ink and paper. Well, there were always Hermione, Sirius and even Ginny to write to, he supposed. Speaking of writing to Hermione…

 

“Dear Hermione,

 

Thanks for writing. Thanks for the stationery, I didn’t think to buy any and I’m tired of scrounging around for scraps to write on. Blodwen is a beautiful bird, and very well behaved. She and Hedwig should get  along nicely. No, I have no idea where her name came from (other than the obvious that it looks rather Welsh-ish). No, I haven’t even started on the reading for Binn’s essay. I was starting with Snape’s, which will take the longest and be the most disgusting. Unlike some people I can mention, I can’t read two books at the same time (one with either eye) while writing two different essays (one with either hand.) ((By the way, do you know where Hedwig’s name comes from?))

   

Blodwen doesn’t sound like a goblin name, though. So I’m hoping that the essay deals with something nice like owls rather than another gruesome goblin uprising.

 

And how are you doing? Your comment about how ingenious Muggles have to be sounded like you were a bit put off with the wizarding world in general. Not that I can blame you, what with how you’ve been treated by Snape and Malfoy and Rita Skeeter and all those idiots who sent you nasty letters last year. But I am worried. I’d hate for your summer to be as bad as mine.

   

Sorry, I can’t help you on the Ron front. I have a guess about what’s eating him, but I won’t make it. It’s not my place to speculate on that topic. Besides, I don’t think you’d believe me and I’m tired of people calling me a liar. (Which you did, when you assumed that I wouldn’t tell you the truth about how I am.)”

 

Which brought him all too quickly to the topic he’d have rather avoided.

 

“I can’t tell you how I am. I don’t really know. Sorry, but if there are words to describe what I’m feeling, I don’t know them. You’ll have to settle for ‘No, I’m not fine, but I could be worse.’”

 

He stared at the parchment for a long time before he gave up. There was nothing he could think of to say to allay Hermione’s worries. He wasn’t fine and he wasn’t sure he’d ever be fine.

 

“Anyway, please cut Ron a little slack. This summer isn’t going well for anybody and he is genuinely concerned about you, even if he’s not phrasing himself properly.

 

Your friend, Harry”

 

He attached the letter to Blodwen’s leg and stroked her feathers. She bobbed her head at him and took off through the window.

 

 

Ron at the Burrow:

Ron wandered into the garden and slumped under a tree, scattering his books and writing equipment. He didn’t want to write another stupid essay about some practical use for dragon bile. Lovely, all that work for that git Snape would be wasted anyway. Snape never marked Gryffindor papers fairly. (The only way Hermione could get less than 100% was if she had her paper marked by Snape.)

 

“If Hermione can’t get a good mark, I might as well have you dance all over the parchment,” he said to Hedwig. “You’d probably get a better mark.”  Hedwig landed on the ground and blinked at him expectantly. ‘Maybe she thinks I should say that to Hermione,’ Ron thought. He sighed. He doubted Hermione cared what he thought.

 

“Right,” he said with forced cheerfulness. “I should write that letter to Harry right now, so you can get on your way.”

 

Hedwig hooted softly and Ron stroked her feathery breast. “You’re lucky, you know? You can just fly into Harry’s window any time you please. I have to wait to see him.” He really wanted to see Harry right now, and not just because he was worried about the prat. He picked up his quill and sighed. “What should I say?” he asked the owl. “Dear Harry, come and save me?”

 

Hedwig cocked her head at him.

 

“Yeah, not very informative, is it?” Ron sighed. “It’s just that… well, everybody’s fighting! Mum and the twins are always arguing about what they’re going to do after they leave Hogwarts. And Percy’s buying into Fudge’s denials, now he and Dad are always… well, it gets cold when they’re both in the same room at the same time. The family clock actually froze up the other day. Now, instead of pointing to things like ‘traveling’, ‘at work’, or ‘at home’, everybody’s hands point to ‘At a Crux.’” He sighed.

   

“I wish Harry was here, at least then I wouldn’t have to worry about how those Muggle relatives are treating him. And I’d have somebody to talk to and…” He sighed again. Then picked up his quill with resolve and started writing.

 

“Dear Harry, you stupid prat, why’d you go and send Ginny a cat? You’ll only give her ideas!”

 

He stared at the words for a few minutes, then looked at Hedwig. “There’s the ticket,” he said. “Everybody’s mad, why not upset Harry, too?”

 

Ron sighed, picked up the eraser and froze. He’d borrowed it from Hermione sometime last term and had forgotten to return it. He looked at it mournfully and wondered if he should return it now. She probably thought he’d deliberately stolen it. He replaced the eraser in his bag and ripped up the parchment.

 

Hedwig hooted, as if puzzled.

 

Ron got up. “Might as well degnome the garden,” he said. He went at the chore with almost savage intensity and gnomes flew a remarkable distance from the wall. Too bad the Fred and George weren’t here to see the PROPER way to degnome a garden. Usually, the twins would be out there, working off some infraction or other. Now they were spending a lot of time at Diagon Alley doing who knew what with who-knew-who. The last thought made him wince; who-knew-who reminded him of You-Know-Who and the current situation.

   

He was distracted from his dark thoughts when his hand suddenly felt heavy. Surprised, Ron glared down at the gnome that had sunk its teeth into the base of his thumb.

 

The gnome caught a look at Ron’s expression and its eyes widened and it let go. “Erm, I’ll just go throw myself over the wall, now,” it said diffidently as it sidled away.

 

“Good idea,” Ron said dryly as the gnome leaped over the wall and fled. He wondered if Pixie would like chasing gnomes the way Crookshanks would. He wondered if Pixie and Crookshanks would get along. He wondered if Hermione would like him better if he gave Crookshanks a few treats. He wondered why all trains of thought led to Hermione. He wished Harry was there, then at least he’d have somebody to talk about Hermione to. Until then… back to the letter.

   

He read to Hedwig as he wrote. “Dear Harry, I guess Ginny will probably write and thank you for the cat, but I’ll say thanks, too. Pixie is the only good thing that’s happened so far this summer. Everybody’s arguing. Percy believes Fudge when he says that You-Know-Who isn’t back. Dad believes you when you say he is. Being in the same room with the two of them is like being in Potions with hung-over Slytherins and Snape with a toothache, only not as nice. The twins got a stack of Galleons to start their joke shop with and Mum’s having fits trying to find out where they got it. Not to mention that she’s still on about them joining the Ministry. Not to mention that she’s still ragging on Bill and Charlie for not having wives yet. Not to mention…”

 

He paused, then plunged into the heart of the matter. “Hermione’s not talking to me.” He could think of a dozen things to add to this bald statement. He could tell Harry how the whole world had turned into a murky, senseless, brutal place. However, there didn’t seem to be much point. Harry would understand, Ron hoped. Or maybe there was something more he should say?

 

He stared at the parchment for a long time before giving up and sending it off to Harry.

 

 

Harry at Privet Drive:

It was considerably later that same hot, muggy July afternoon when Petunia Evans Dursley decided it was time for her to clean the out attic.  She climbed up the stairs and into something very reminiscent of a blast furnace. Obviously, it was time for Potter to clean out the attic. She headed downstairs again and barged into Dudley’s extra bedroom without knocking.

   

She paused just inside the doorway and scowled. That disgusting bird was sitting on a perch, rather than being properly confined to a cage. Dudley’s extra desk was strewn with papers, feathers, bottles and books. She snorted. “So, this is how you repay our many kindnesses to you, by working your…”

 

Harry turned his cat-green eyes on her, causing her to falter for a moment. A surge of anger let her continue. “By exercising your unnatural appetites on Dudley’s furniture!”

 

Harry leaned his forearms on the desk and waited for his aunt to finish. He had long ago given up hope of hearing rational comments from his relatives, but this seemed a bit incoherent, even for her. When she paused for breath, he jumped in. “I’m writing an essay about using dragon bile to rid a kitchen of rats, poltergeists and soap scum. I don’t care how unnatural you say I am, that doesn’t sound at all appetizing.”

 

Petunia opened her mouth, then gaped for a moment. She didn’t know if dragons or poltergeists actually existed, and she really didn’t care to find out. “Don’t smart mouth me, boy,” she snapped. “You’ve been having it easy this summer, but don’t think that will last long. I need the attic cleaned out, now.”

 

“In this heat?” Harry said. Petunia was glad to hear genuine dismay in his tone.

 

“I said, now!”

 

“I’ll die of heat poisoning!”

 

“I said, don’t talk back…”

 

“Do you know what happens to a wizard’s body when he dies?” Harry asked.

 

Petunia paused. She hadn’t gone to her sister’s funeral, so she had no idea if anything strange had happened to Lily’s body. The boy was probably bluffing… but it was better to not take chances. “In the evening, then, when it’s cooler. I just want it done before your Uncle Vernon and my precious Duddy-kins get back from their camping trip.”

 

“Yes, Aunt Petunia,” Harry said. He managed to keep his amusement off his face, but he was afraid some of it leaked into his voice, because his aunt gave him a dirty look. He knew darn well his uncle and cousin had gone to a fat farm. He’d seen the postcards with the return address.

 

“You’ll have no breakfast in the morning if you haven’t made a good start on the project tonight.”

 

“What, exactly, do you want me to do?” Harry asked with forced patience. “I take it you don’t want me deciding what to throw out, do you?”

 

Petunia frowned, but he had a point. “Start by carrying down the old newspapers and magazines that are piled up there. We don’t need them any more.”

 

“Yes, Aunt Petunia,” Harry said with passable meekness.

 

Petunia had to have the last word as she left. “Dudley’s extra bedroom had better be spotless by the time you go to bed or you won’t have any breakfast.”

 

Harry sighed and rolled his eyes at Hedwig, who’d just finished delivering Ron’s letter. “Bet me that she finds some reason to withhold breakfast no matter how hard I work.”

 

Hedwig obligingly coughed up the remains of her last meal. Harry raised an eyebrow. “A mouse it is,” and he laid the dead mouse from Dudley’s broken computer next to the barely recognizable corpse. Hedwig gave an indignant hoot. Harry shrugged. “Face it, I can’t eat your mouse, either, even if I do have unnatural appetites.”

 

Hedwig snubbed him for the rest of the day.

 

 

Author’s Notes:

 

Ozma: Thanks for the review, partner! **  I agree, Harry is too noble for his own good. Guess that’s why I like the kid so much.

 

Ara Kane: Hello and thanks for dropping by and reviewing! ** Yes, Petunia shows her human side. I figure Lily’s sister has to have one somewhere. ** Yes, Harry remembered that after Mrs. Norris had been petrified, Ron had said that Ginny was a cat lover.

 

Wilania: Thanks for the review!

 

Googligoo: I

                  I will

                  I will write

                  I will write at

                  I will write at least

                  I will write at least eighteen

                  I will write at least eighteen chapters!

                  I thank you for the review!

 

Meggs: Thanks for the review! It’s going to lead to Ginny and Harry becoming friends!

 

Lisa: Thanks! I’ll update as fast as I can!

 

Kazza: Thanks for the review! ** "lonely little Petunia in a onion patch" Interesting phrase. Is that a quote? ** You’re sweet, too!

 

Alan: Who’s trying to escape? ;-)

 

 

                 

 

 

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