The Sugar Quill
Author: Stubefied (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Stewing  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.

Harry peeked under a corner of his invisibility cloak and smiled expectantly at what he saw

*Let’s hope this is coherent, as it is less than half its original length. But after all that editing, I couldn’t NOT submit it! And please don’t count this note towards my 1000 words . . .*

 

 

Harry peeked beneath his invisibility cloak, smiling expectantly. A three-legged kettle gurgled happily up at him over a magical fire. He inhaled the aroma of beef and let the cloak fall to conceal the fire’s glow. Even with the spell for Traveler’s Protection Dumbledore had cast on them, Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to be careful not to attract attention to their presence in the Forbidden Forrest, especially until Remus Lupin arrived after the full moon.

 

Harry and Ron, frighteningly, were safest here, hidden under Albus Dumbledore’s protective nose. Since a dementor had nearly kissed Harry last year, this summer’s stay with the Dursleys had been mercifully short. Mrs. Weasley, afraid to have Ron at the Burrow, or even Grimmauld Place, until the extent of Kreacher’s treachery was revealed, had sent Ron into hiding as well, armed with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and three bags full of wood lice, in case they hung their hammocks from wand trees, disturbing their bowtruckles. Harry thought bowtruckles the least of their problems, but was happy anyway for Ron’s company.

 

Hermione, however, who sat a few yards away, renewing the Traveler’s Spell, a skill she had learned in one afternoon, along with how to use Chew Powder to conjure their meals, a charm to temporarily calm a raging centaur, and about a dozen others, would have been undeniably safer at home. That made Harry uneasy. Ron was attempting levity with semi-melodic burping, but Hermione was not amused.

 

“Quit that,” she hissed.

 

“Aw, Hermione, you’re no fun. Jealous Dumbledore didn’t teach you spells to belch as beautifully as I can. Wait!” Ron’s face lit up. “Fred taught me one—“

 

“Oh, no--urrrp. Ruuurp! I’m gonna Gurrrrrrp Yourrrrrrp! You are so UUUUUURRRRP!” The last eruption from Hermione was incomprehensible to Harry, but he was already rolling on the ground laughing. She turned on him.

 

 As she reached for her wand, Harry scrambled. She started to curse, but emitted only belches. The boys rolled behind trees, dodging sparks. Ron uprooted a handful of moss and pelted Hermione, who whipped around. While Ron darted away, Harry distracted her with rattling seeds. She whirled, and Ron landed a clump of grass in her hair. Harry dodged a spell as Ron struck again and soon they were all panting, laughing, and occasionally burping.

 

Harry studied his best friends, who had created this, his first moment of real laughter in ages, and emotion flooded his brain. He would do anything for them, die if that’s what it took.

 

And he had concluded that that was what it would take. “And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives” had confused him. Weren’t he and Voldemort both alive? Then, slowly, the conviction had formed that it must also be true that he could not survive Voldemort’s downfall. The bitterness that had accompanied that conclusion now evaporated. He wasn’t dying for ungrateful wizardkind. But he could for his best friends.

 

Then Hermione interjected briskly, “We’ll need to move camp now, you know.”

 

“I really just want to rest,” he wearily moaned.

 

“I’m sorry, Harry, but just now you can’t.”

 

And he turned on her and stormed. “Who put you in charge? Who-- even asked you along? Like I need a bushy-haired ball and chain baby-sitter when I’ve --” but regret was already attacking, as Hermione’s eyes grew, large and wet. She turned and fled into the woods.

 

Then Ron was in his face, screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? ARE YOU MENTAL?”

 

Harry ordered Ron to stay put lest they all lose the path. Ignoring his mutinous glare, Harry crashed into the trees, peering frantically around. As he shoved a springy branch aside, an army of tiny stickmen swarmed. He threw them a handful of woodlice from Ron’s pouch and brushed razor-fingered hands from his hair as he ran on.

 

He found Hermione, hands balled, kicking a tree. Seeing Harry, she crumpled with guilt and shame.

 

He dropped beside her. “Listen, Hermione. I didn’t mean it. I don’t know why I--I was thinking about that prophecy and I don’t think I’m going to make it and I’m so sorry. I know Ron and I are gonners without you. But I don’t just need you--“

 

“No,” Hermione frowned. “I shouldn’t be this upset. But . . . My parents. When Dumbledore requested I—accompany-- you, I knew they’d want me to help, but that they’d worry horribly. They were so upset.” She inhaled sharply. “He performed a memory charm. They think I’m at the Burrow. I wrote a letter in case—“ She stopped. Harry was staring. “D-do you think I’m awful?”

 

“No,” he mumbled, “I think nobody could have a better friend than you.” His arms shot out into the unfamiliar feeling of a true embrace.

 

 

“Ron,” Harry said finally, “looked ready to kill me.” When he and Hermione had begun to walk, he asked, “Think you and he ever. . .?”

 

Herminone smiled slightly. “Not now, but. . . I think—I hope—he just needs to grow up a bit. Nobody else would ever understand what it was like . . . being friends with you.” Her voice fell to a whisper and she looked away. Harry distracted himself by preparing for Ron’s worst.

 

However, before the towering red-head could utter a furious word, Hermione had stepped smoothly between the boys and smiled, “Hello, Ron,” so composedly that his freckled face immediately relaxed.

 

“I hope there’s been nothing nasty along,” she fussed. The wand fell from his hand. “We really should get moving. Harry stumbled into some bowtruckles and we’re more than lucky if we haven’t woken anything worse.”

 

“Bowtruckles?” Ron grinned. “Good thing you had my lice with you, then, mate?” And the kettle announced supper.

 

 

Later, Harry had a question for Hermione. “How’d you know about the bowtruckles?”

 

She shrugged. “I didn’t. But it did cheer him up. Would you rather belch slugs?”

 

 

 

 

 

//
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