The Sugar Quill
Author: birgit (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Artists and Scientists  Chapter: Chapter 2: Chocolate
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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: This story contains elements created by J.K. Rowling. I'm not making any money of it. I'm just having fun in the world she created.

Author's Note: Many thanks to my wonderful beta reader Arianrhod. Special thanks to Porlock, who created a plot bunny that is incorporated in this story.

Artists and Scientists

Chapter 2 – Chocolate

“I presume you know why you are here?”

Tom stared at the woman opposite him. There could be various reasons why he and his wife were talking to his son’s teacher, Miss Putnam. Most likely something strange had happened again. Mark was sometimes unhappy at school, and in his case, that could lead to unexpected things.

“I wanted to talk about Mark,” Miss Putnam said.

That much was obvious.

“Mark is a bit different than other children,” she continued.

Tom sat up straighter in his chair. What could she suspect?

“He doesn’t show much interest in learning,” Miss Putnam said. “I think it’s a bit too difficult for him.”

She had said the last words very quiet, and now she looked expectantly at Tom and Amy, but Tom didn’t have a clue what he was supposed to say.

“You mean Mark lacks intelligence?” Amy asked in a calm voice, in which only Tom could hear the suppressed anger.

Miss Putnam seemed very relieved they weren’t flying off the handle. “Yes, he does, in comparison to other children. I’m sure there’s something he has talent for, –” Tom and Amy exchanged a look, “– but he has a hard time keeping up with his classmates on the usual subjects like English and mathematics.”

“What would you advise us to do?” Tom asked politely, because he seemed to be expected to ask that, although he would have liked it to just run away and go home.

“Well, that depends,” Miss Putnam said. “What school are you sending him to next year?”

Tom and Amy exchanged another look.

“We haven’t decided yet,” Tom said.

Miss Putnam looked surprised for a moment. Of course she did, because the summer holidays had almost started, and most parents would have chosen a new school months ago. But she didn’t know that this pair of parents had a very good reason to wait.

“As I’m sure you know,” Miss Putnam said, “some schools have entrance examinations, or only accept students after consulting the primary school. There are schools who would accept Mark, yes, but if you want him to attend a more – prestigious – school, you should take some measures.”

Tom started to feel nauseous. There was one prestigious school that would be very happy to accept Mark, but there were different problems concerning that school.

“What kind of measures are we talking about?” Amy asked.

Miss Putnam now looked very uncomfortable.

“You should consider having Mark repeat a year,” she said, hardly audible.


“You should tell him, Tom,” Amy said.

They were walking home. After telling Mark's teacher they would think about it, they finally managed to get away. Tom knew exactly what Amy was talking about, but he didn’t answer. First he had to sort everything out in his own head. He wanted to protect Mark, he didn’t want him to go through the same ordeal as he had himself. But he also knew that Mark didn’t belong in the world he was in now. He had suspected it for long time, and this talk with Mark’s teacher made it very clear. Mark wasn’t made to be a scientist, like his mother, or a carpenter, or an accountant. He was made to be a wizard, like his father.

“The letter is bound to come soon,” Amy said.

“Yes, I know,” Tom replied quietly. “But I don’t know how to tell him, Amy. I mean, he’s been living among Muggles for his entire life. I don’t think he’ll understand that there are also other people in the world. He’ll probably think it’s just another idea for a book I’m planning to write.”

“Don’t worry, Tom,” Amy said. “Don’t you think Mark noticed that he is different from other kids? I think it will be a relief for him to know that there are more people like him.”

“He’ll want to join them,” Tom stated flatly.

At once Amy grabbed his arm and stopped walking. “Tom, we’ve agreed about this. We’ll let Mark make his own choice. We can’t force him to stay in the Muggle world.”

“Yes, he has to choose for himself,” Tom said, “but how can he ever make a wise decision about this when he don’t know about – about the dangers.”

“I think,” Amy said slowly, “that you should tell him that.”

Tom stared. “You – I can’t – he’s only eleven! I don’t want to tell him that!”

“You have to.”

They started walking again. Thoughts were whirling through Tom’s head. He wanted Mark to make his own choice. He wanted him to make the right choice. He wanted him to know what might be awaiting him. And now was the moment to make the choice. Mark had to know now. Eleven or not, Tom had to tell Mark.

“Yes, you’re right,” he said.


Tom couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t get his mind to quiet down, he couldn’t stop thinking about the task that was ahead of him. He had this strange feeling that he wouldn’t be able to sleep properly until he had told Mark about the wizarding world, but also he knew tonight was not the right moment. It was past midnight already, Mark was asleep.

Tom stepped out of bed, careful not to wake up Amy. He walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. He was going to make some hot chocolate. It was a habit he had copied from his mother. He could remember vividly the nights he had sat in the kitchen until late, talking with his parents while drinking hot chocolate. After that, he always would fall asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.

The last night that had happened was just before he had returned to Hogwarts for his sixth year. They had been talking about wizarding professions. Tom’s mother had been an Auror, while his father worked as a Healer in St. Mungo’s. Although Tom had received the OWLs needed for both jobs, he had been more interested in hiding the wizarding world from Muggles, especially in hiding magical creatures. So he had chosen Muggles Studies, Care of Magical Creatures and Charms for his NEWTs. His father had been happy with that, but his mother would’ve liked him to become an Auror as well. They had a slight disagreement about that, but arguing just didn’t work when you were drinking hot chocolate. So it had been a nice evening.

A few days later, Tom had gone back to Hogwarts. He had never seen his parents again.


Tom quickly turned around. “Mark? What are you doing up so late?”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Mark answered.

Tom smiled. “I couldn’t sleep either. Would you like some hot chocolate? That helps.”

Mark nodded and sat down at the kitchen table.

A couple of minutes later, they were both drinking hot chocolate in their pyjamas. While Tom watched his son, a huge battle was going on in his head. This seemed to be the perfect moment to tell Mark about the wizarding world. Mark was awake anyway, and Tom would be able to sleep after he had told Mark everything. Hot chocolate always caused good conversations, he had had quite a few of them with his own parents. But, the other side argued, could he stand telling about his parents in such a familiar situation? And wasn’t this supposed to be a serious talk, thus not very suitable while enjoying hot chocolate? No, the side in favour of telling Mark now said, both Tom and Mark were calm, and there was plenty of time. It was the perfect moment. But it was still past midnight. Mark was too sleepy now, he would understand much better by day.

“Dad?” Mark interrupted Tom’s thoughts. “Do you know the Dursley family, of number four, Privet Drive?”

“I don’t think so,” Tom said bewildered, “what’s the matter with them?”

“Don’t you know them? They have this very fat son, Dudley, he’s even fatter than his father. And their nephew lives also with them.”

“Oh, I think I’ve seen them a couple of times. Dursley, did you say?”

“Yes, and the nephew is called Harry Potter,” Mark said. “Do you know him?”

“I might have seen him once or twice,” Tom answered.

“But you don’t know anything about him?” Mark pressed.

“No, I didn’t even know his name,” Tom replied.

“He came back home for the summer holidays yesterday. He looked – upset.”

Tom stared at his son. What was Mark talking about? Why would he care about that boy looking upset? Tom had never heard Mark talk about Harry before.

“Are you and Harry friends?” Tom asked.

“No, he doesn’t know me, I think,” said Mark. “He’s a lot older than me.”

Mark obviously wanted to tell something about Harry Potter. Tom decided that waiting would be the best strategy.

“I don’t think he likes living with his relatives,” Mark finally continued. “He’s is much different than his cousin. Maybe it’s because of that. But I don’t know why he’s upset. Something happened.”

Tom suddenly felt very tired. He didn’t have a clue what Mark was trying to say, and apparently Mark couldn’t string two sentences together about it. Tom suspected it was because Mark was also very sleepy. It was a quarter past one, much too late for an eleven-year-old boy, and for a forty-year-old man as well.

Not the perfect moment after all.

To be continued...

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