The Sugar Quill
Author: Dzeytoun (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Millstone  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.


Disclaimer-These characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not myself.

Rating-PG 13



Author’s Note – My first fic.  Please Read and Review!




Harry is bleeding again.

I lean over my desk and stare hard into the Oculum.  It is a large shallow bowl made of silver and decorated with symbols that were old when Hogwarts was first founded.  The liquid inside is pure water, but the image it reflects is not my office.  Rather it is a window, a window that opens to many places.  Right now it shows the office of the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor – a room that has seen many occupants over the years.  Harry is sitting near Professor Umbridge’s desk, wielding a quill pen as he works through his latest detention.  I know what he is writing:  I MUST NOT TELL LIES.  I also know the quill uses no ink.  Rather Harry is writing in his own blood, blood drawn as his hand is slashed every time he moves the quill’s sharp nub across the parchment.


Neither Umbridge nor Harry knows they are being observed, of course.  The Oculum is one of my most closely guarded secrets.  It has proven especially useful in keeping an eye on Harry over the years.  This year it has also helped to observe Umbridge – Cornelius Fudge’s proxy in my school.


Harry continues to write.  The blood is starting to flow freely from the back of his hand.  This is only the latest episode of detention he has endured with Umbridge.  He called Draco Malfoy a git, I believe.


A drop of blood splashes onto the parchment.


I have observed each of the detentions.  After all, one does not let the Ministry’s agent have unobserved time in which to meddle with The Boy Who Lived.  Not that one takes any action to prevent that meddling, of course.  But one does observe.




It is not my fault.  Harry has been repeatedly warned to watch his temper.  Both McGonagall and Hermione Granger have tried to get him to control himself.  But no, he has to keep blowing up at our resident inquisitor.




I cannot interfere.  I cannot let Umbridge know she is being observed.  And I am keeping my distance from Harry lest my presence encourage Voldemort to reach through the connection between the two of them and possess the boy.  If I interfered he would doubtless demand to confront me.  No, that would be too dangerous.




Besides, interference would do little good.  Umbridge would just get a decree from Fudge getting around whatever action I might take.  Fudge is determined to destroy me, and Harry as well.


A thin stream of blood trickles down.


Harry has not asked for help.  He could have gone to McGonagall.  He could have come to me.


The quill slices deeper.


No, it most definitely is not my fault.




As I have done every other night of Harry’s detention, I lean over a vessel at the foot of my chair and retch softly.  I am glad I asked the inhabitants of the office’s portraits to leave me alone.  I like to think of myself as a humble man, but I don’t care to be watched while I vomit my dinner.


I rise, wiping my mouth with a cloth even as the receptacle cleans itself of the foul liquid.  I look back at the Oculum, blinking as my eyes fill with burning tears.


After all, Harry has repeatedly screamed at Umbridge.  He must learn some lessons in self-control.




Harry has a destiny.  He does not know it yet.  No, I will not burden him with that pain.  But he will, inevitably, battle the Dark Lord to the death.  If he cannot handle Dolores Umbridge, he certainly cannot handle the horrors Voldemort has in store.




And he does not seem to be hurting that much.  His expression has not changed at all.  Well, his lip did just curl a little....




//Your treasure, Professor?//


I know that voice, and I do not flinch.  Harry may have direct contact with the present Tom Riddle, but I carry the younger version in my memory.  He is my faithful critic and tormentor.


Be silent, Tom.


//Oh, I know he’s your treasure, Professor.  That’s why you kept him in a cupboard for ten years, wasn’t it?  Along with the silver?  Except the silver got taken out more often.//


I did not do that.  That was the Muggles.


But my protest is reedy and thin, the pathetic whine of a guilty old man.  I do not need Tom Riddle’s laughter to know its weakness.  I gave Harry to the Muggles.  I might as well have locked him in the closet myself.


But that was the only way.  The only way to keep him alive.  The only way to have the shield of love.




Tom laughs harder.  And under his voice is something else.  The frightened whimper of an infant locked in a closet filled with spiders.


I kept him safe!


//From who?  I did not return till this year.  Your precious Harry could have grown up happy in any number of well-guarded wizard locations.//




But Tom just laughs as I retch again.  I weep so hard I don’t know how I can breathe.  The sound of a whimpering infant fills my head.


Even if Tom did not return until this year, there were others – the Malfoys for instance.


//Oh come now.  The great Albus Dumbledore could not have protected Harry from the likes of Lucius Malfoy?  Who are you going to blame next, Peter Pettigrew?  Oh, don’t forget, if you hadn’t been in such a hurry that night Sirius might have avoided twelve years with the Dementors.//


But he has the shield now.  He cannot be touched on Privet Drive!


Tom is silent for a moment.  Then he laughs again.


//Have you looked at his eyes lately, old man?  What is it the Muggle’s holy book says?  “What profit it a man if he gain the whole world if he lose his soul?”//


You are a fine one to talk, Tom.


But that does no good.  For it is not Tom who is talking, but my own conscience.  I have seen Harry’s eyes.  I have seen the pain.  I have seen the weary sadness that cannot be explained by any shadow of Voldemort touching his mind.


I hear the infant whimpering again.  How will I ever stand it?


In the Oculum Harry continues to write.  The blood now flows freely.


I have dreamed.  Oh how I have dreamed.  And in my dream I repent my decision.  I enter that awful house and tear the door of the cupboard open, gathering the suffering infant into my arms...


//But your plan was more important, was it not, old man?//


Shut up, Tom.


Harry’s lips twist again.




Umbridge appears in the picture, looking over Harry’s shoulder with a look of toad-like satisfaction.  


//You want to kill her, don’t you?//


No, Tom.


//Then why are you thinking of five ways to liquify human bone without breaking the skin?//


I will not kill her, Tom.  I will not descend to be you. 


//Well, enjoy the performance then.//


Like you, Tom, she deserves much worse than death.


For once he is silent.


Oh Harry, why didn’t you come to me?  Why didn’t you come when Ron urged you to?  Why did you say I would be too busy?  If you came I would have an excuse to help.


He did not come because I hurt him.  I drove him away.


True, I have not looked at him or spoken with him.  But that is the strategy I’ve adopted to protect him from Voldemort.


I have distanced myself to protect him.


The sound of an infant’s whimpers echo so loud that I almost clap my hands over my ears.


I can’t interfere at Privet Drive!  It would compromise the magic!!


//A good excuse.  You should have been a Slytherin.//




I look at Umbridge, feeling hate such as I have rarely felt for another living being.  In that moment I might even choose to spare Tom Riddle, if given the chance to destroy her.  I must control myself!  I must not let Voldemort have a victory within my own heart!




She says something and Harry rises, wrapping a scarf around his hand.  He is bleeding so badly that the cloth stains red immediately.  


Oh Harry, you should have come to me that first night!  That night when you waited till she couldn’t hear you and then you ran.  I watched you then, saying all the same things I’ve said tonight.  And with every inch of my being I hoped you would run to me.  I almost screamed at you in the Oculum, telling you to come here.  With all my heart I wanted to see you come charging up the stairs and throw yourself into my arms like a frightened child, wailing to me about how she had hurt you.


But you did not.  You don’t cry do you?  And that is my fault.  I left you with those damnable Muggles, and you learned not to cry.


What do I want?  What do I want to do now so badly that I have to grip the edge of my desk painfully to prevent myself from rising?  I want to go to my Harry now while he is wandering in pain and hurt through the halls.  I want to fold him in my arms and heal his sweet skin, then take him somewhere away from Fudge, and Umbridge, and the Daily Prophet, and even from his friends.  And I want to keep him there until I’ve taught him to cry.  Until I’ve made him breach those walls around his heart and let all the agony out.  And then I would hold him and let him sob.  Let him sob all the pain and fear away.  Hold him and caress him and rock him until all the pain is gone.  Hold him for a hundred years, if that is how long it takes.


Prophecy be damned.  Let the world burn if Harry could cry out his pain.


But I cannot do that.  The prophecy binds like iron.  Harry must kill Voldemort.  Or Voldemort will kill him.


Harry has reached Gryffindor Tower now.  Hermione and Ron are waiting – waiting to comfort him and tend his hurts like I should be doing.  


And his eyes are filled with such pain.  Such betrayal.  And he won’t come to me.  Even now Ron tries to get him to seek help.  But he won’t.  He won’t come to me.  And he won’t cry.


The Muggle holy book says something else.  “He who causes one of these little ones who comes in my name to stumble, for him it should have been better had a millstone been hung round his neck and he be sunk in the depths of the sea.”


The Muggles are wiser than we are.  Yes, wiser and stronger.  That is why we hide from them.  Not because they are so many and we so few.  We fear them because they understand so many things that we do not.

Tom has nothing to say to that.


I wave my hand and the Oculum darkens.  I retch one final time.


A millstone.  A millstone would be a mercy.  Yes indeed, it would be better for me had a millstone been hung round my neck and I been thrown into the ocean.


I wonder if the Muggle god is real?  He may well be.  What does he think of children whimpering in closets?  What does he think of old men who watch while innocent boys are forced to cut their lovely skin?


Somehow I don’t think he would be very pleased.


Harry, I’ll make it up to you, I promise!


How?  How am I going to do that?  Am I going to age Harry backward?  Am I going to give him another childhood, one filled with kisses and hugs and warm puppies and joyous Christmas mornings?


I’m so sorry.


Will Harry accept that?  Will that strange, moody god the Muggles keep going on about?


I am Albus Dumbledore, and I long for the mercy of a millstone.



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