The Sugar Quill
Author: birgit (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Artists and Scientists  Chapter: Chapter 3: The House
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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. Large parts of this chapter are inspired on Porlock's bunny.

Artists and Scientists

Chapter 3 – The House


Mark stared at the perfectly normal house. Despite the late-night talk with his father, he had woken early this morning. After breakfast he had gone outside, and although he didn’t remember telling them to, his feet had walked him to Privet Drive. Now he sat on a stone wall, watching number four. It was only half past eight, but the sun was shining and Mark was perfectly warm. The summer had began, although there was still a week of school to go before the holidays started. It would be the very last week Mark would spend at this school. In September, he would go to Stonewall High. At least, he presumed he would. His parents had never spoken a word about his new school.

But today was Saturday, and there was nothing to worry about. Except that Mark couldn’t get the thought of Harry Potter to leave his head. The way he had looked when he came home – although Mark was fairly sure that while Harry had looked at him, he hadn’t seen him – had been all Mark could think about for two days. He had tried to tell his father about it yesterday night, but he had found he couldn’t explain it clearly.

So now he was watching Harry Potter’s house. Not that much interesting was to be seen. The house seemed identical to number two and number six. Still, Mark didn’t want to go away. He sensed something Artistic around the house.

Suddenly, movement caught his eye. Something white was flying above his head. Mark looked up, and saw Harry’s snowy owl soaring towards one of the windows of number four. Nothing out of the ordinary, as owls liked to hunt at night. Mark just wanted to turn back to watching the house when he spotted something strange about the owl. He narrowed his eyes, and when the owl slowed down before flying through the open window, he saw it very clearly. A roll of yellowish paper was attached to the owl’s leg. Harry’s owl was carrying a letter.

Mark was fascinated. How brilliant, to use owls to deliver post! Maybe it was something practised by all Artists. Mark never saw many owls flying around in Little Whinging, but then, it was a very Scientific town. He tried to remember about the house in the only other town he had lived. The house with the dragon statue on the roof.

***

“Look, Daddy!” Mark cried. “That house over there, it has a dragon on the roof!”

“Mark, no! Come back!”

But Mark was already running to the house. It fascinated him, and he had to get a closer look. Daddy’s footsteps were pounding behind him. Mark tried to run faster, but it was too late. Daddy’s strong arms closed around him, and he was lifted from the ground.

Mark tried to kick him. “I want to see, Daddy!”

“You’d better not, Mark,” Daddy said. “Stay away from that house!”

***

Mark smiled when he recalled the memory. His father had been showing him the town, and this had been the very first time he saw that house. He had felt connected to it immediately. It had always attracted him, and he had been back to it many times, until they moved to Litttle Whinging.

Mark was started out of his memories when a clattering noise broke the silence in Privet Drive. He looked around, and spotted the dustbin of number three lying on its side. But there was no one around except Mark. Did he do this? He walked slowly to the dustbin, trying not to attract attention. When he was almost there, he felt his foot connect with something. There wasn’t anything in sight, but he clearly heard a thud and someone moaning.

Mark stood very still for a moment, then he walked back to the wall and sat down again. The person who had knocked the dustbin over was probably the same as who had tripped over his foot. And as Mark couldn’t see anyone, the culprit was invisible. Now he knew what he had sensed around Harry’s house. There was another Artist around here, and a rather clumsy one.

***

Mark was sitting on the ground, watching the house with the dragon on the roof. He sat here often. He had now watched the house for almost half an hour, but nothing had happened. The house had been silent, most probably empty.

Mark scrambled to his feet and crossed the street. He was going to do something he had never done before, and which his father had forbidden him the very first time he had seen the house. He walked to the garden fence and carefully climbed over it. He was sure the house was empty, otherwise he wouldn’t have dared. He walked through the large garden. He didn’t go to the front door, but to a window to the right of the door. He checked the road – no one was there. Then he looked inside.

At first glance, it looked like an ordinary kitchen. Then he noticed there was no cooker. There was no cooker hood either, and no oven.

Mark moved to another window. This was the living room. But there was no television. And something else was missing. There was obviously something missing, but what was it? Mark tried to picture his own living room in his mind. Then he realised that there were no lamps.

Suddenly, someone entered the room. Mark ducked immediately and crawled away from the window. How could there be someone at home? The house had been empty, he had been sure, and no one had entered through the front door. Mark was scared. He quickly walked back through the garden, jumped over the fence, crossed the street and sat down on his usual place on the sidewalk.

He saw a light go on. It shone through the window where Mark had been standing a few minutes ago. At once, Mark wasn’t scared any more. He felt at home.

Someone shouted, and to Mark’s surprise, there was someone lying on the street in a heap. The man was wearing violet robes. Not very handy, as he seemed to be entangled in them. Finally he managed to get to his feet. He looked around, and cursed.

“I’m fifty feet astray! Again!” he yelled angrily.

Then the man spotted Mark. They stared at each other until the man turned around and walked to the house with the dragon on the roof. He seemed to shout out a greeting to the dragon, but the dragon didn’t move. The man knocked on the door, which opened of its own accord. He went inside.

Mark waited a couple of minutes, but nothing else happened. He went home, happy, because he had learned a lot of things.

***

Mark kept watching Harry Potter’s house, just as he had often watched the house with the statue of a dragon on the roof. But nothing at all happened. When finally a big face appeared behind one of the windows, and Mark decided he’d better go home in case Dudley had seen him and marked him as his next target, Mark was no nearer to finding out what had happened to make Harry so miserable.

While he strolled home, he tried to recall the look Harry had had in his eyes when he arrived home two days ago, but the only face that appeared was that of his father’s, looking equally miserable. That was the way his father looked every time Mark asked him about his family. His father never told him anything else than that Mark’s grandparents had died and that no family was left, and the look in his eyes always made Mark regret that he had asked. But why was Harry looking the same way? Did Harry’s parents also die? Yes, of course they did, otherwise Harry wouldn’t be living with his aunt and uncle, but that was not what happened between this summer and the last one. Maybe Harry lost someone else he loved. But then it would have nothing to do with the Artistic World.

On the other hand, did all people who lost someone look this way? Mark didn’t know. Perhaps dying in a Scientific way was not the same as dying in an Artistic way, and the latter made you have this look. No, that was impossible, because Mark’s grandparents had been Scientists. Or hadn’t they? But if they had been Artists, why hadn’t Mark’s father ever told him?

Mark was totally confused. He just couldn’t solve this on his own. He would have to ask his father.

But when he stepped inside his house, the smell of lunch drove it all clean out of his mind.


To be continued...

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