The Sugar Quill
Author: Alanna Granger (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Like a Sugar Quill  Chapter: Default
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Persons attempting to find a moral in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.--Mark Twain

It was the week after Christmas but before New Year's; the needles from the gracious fir were turning brown and sticking to the carpet; the new books had been read, the new clothes worn, and the new toys played with; and Lily Evans was bored.

She'd been gone for Hogwarts for barely two weeks, but she already missed the stately castle with its solid walls; missed using magic; and, most of all, missed her friends. It seemed that every year Lily spent at Hogwarts, she grew farther and farther apart from the Muggle world. And now, she was fifteen years old, alone in the week after the holidays, with only her sister to keep her company; her activities limited to staring out the window at the melting snow, sighing, and counting down the days until she returned to school.

And then the doorbell rang.

Her sister flew to answer it. Petunia was a tall, blonde, horse-faced girl, who derived two pleasures from life: teasing Lily and mooning over her boyfriend, Vernon. Perhaps she thought that the latter would be standing at the door, but he obviously was not, as she slammed it closed and backed against the doorknob.

"Salesman?" Lily asked wearily.

"No." Petunia shuddered. "Some of your kind. Detestable-looking boy who needs a haircut, girl with a load of mousy hair…"

Lily sprang up and ran to the window. James Potter, Sirius Black, and her best friend Juliet Sinistra stood there, waving frantically. "Wait!" she yelled. "Mum? Mum! May I go out for a while? Some of my friends are here!"

Mrs. Evans appeared at the top of the steps, smiling. "Go on, then, dear, have a good time." Her relief was plain on her face -- during the holiday, she'd often voiced concerns that Lily was becoming "mopey" and "moody." "Call if you need a ride home. Now, you know what to do – stick with your friends, don't go anywhere by yourself, and don't talk to any…"

"I know, Mum! Bye!" Lily grabbed her coat and Gryffindor scarf and rushed out the door. Excited greetings were exchanged; Juliet pulled her into a quick hug and James Potter grabbed her hands and twirled her into a dance.

"Oh, James, not in the middle of the sidewalk – what will the Muggles think, after all?" she protested, laughing. James stopped his spinning but didn't drop her hand, and they walked down the street together. The four talked excitedly about their respective Christmases for a few minutes, and, as they turned the corner into a street packed with after-Christmas shoppers, Lily asked hesitantly, "Might I inquire where we’re going?"

Sirius bowed deeply and elaborately. "We, Miss Evans, have taken the liberty of rescuing you from Muggle-land –" James laughed "--and therefore have no idea what to do next."

"We could go to Diagon Alley," Juliet suggested. "Florean Fortescue's has a nice new peppermint ice-cream sundae – mm."

"No money. Anyway, it's too cold for ice cream." Lily shivered in the brisk December wind.

"There's supposed to be a great Quidditch match over in Leatherhead --" James suggested tentatively.

"No Quidditch today, please, boys," Juliet said firmly. "Anyway, I don't know where the nearest Portkey is, and it's too far to walk."

The four friends stood despondently in the street, watching people walk by with giant shopping bags. "What we need," Sirius said, "is something close, fun, and cheap."

No one spoke for a second. "Diagon Alley," Juliet suggested tentatively.

"No fun without enough money to even buy a Quaffle."

"Boys, honestly." Juliet grinned. "Um... I suppose we could go to someone's house and play Exploding Snap or something." No one volunteered. "Or the Animagi are doing a concert pretty close to here."

"I don't like the Animagi," Sirius said plaintively.

"Fine, then. You quit raining on our parade and come up with a better idea!" Juliet snapped.

"I have a better idea, Miss Acid Pop!"

Juliet glared at him, a clear challenge. "Fine. What?"

"We could go ice-skating." No one protested, and Sirius grinned. "Told you it was a good idea."

"I love skating," Lily confessed. "But I haven't been since I started at Hogwarts."

"If you're Muggle-born, you've never really skated. We learned all about it in Muggle Studies, how your skates never fit and they twist your ankles, and how the blades are dull and the ice gets all scratched and they have to Zambezi it or whatever... No, you've never really skated."

Lily smiled wryly. She did like to skate, she really did -- but Sirius's description matched her experiences a little to closely for comfort. "Well, then, she said, "lead the way, Mr. Black." She offered him her hand with an assumed air of mid-Victorian formality.

"With pleasure, Miss Evans." Sirius took the proffered hand and they minced down the street together. James and Juliet raced behind in a mock chase, the former yelling, "Unhand my girlfriend!"

Sirius turned left, then right, then left again, and finally tapped a light post with his wand. Beneath it was a cheerful, well-lit passage, which in turn gave way to a sunny street. "Icy Wonderland Skating Rink," Lily read. "Slippery Twenty-Four Hours Per Day." They trouped inside.

At the desk, a grumpy-looking wizard tapped their shoes and said "Renovo modius!" Lily gaped as her heavy overshoes gave way to graceful, well-fitting skates. A sign read, "Guaranteed to Fit! Blades Bewitched with an Anti-Scratching Charm! Have Fun, Or We'll Know Why Not!" As they walked through the silver doors onto the rink itself, Lily felt blinded by the sun reflecting off the crystal-clear, glassy ice.

"It's charmed to repel scratching," James said as he tottered onto the ice. "Come on, Lily!"

She tottered onto the ice and nearly fell. James steadied her quickly, and she soon remembered how one moved one's feet while skating. Sirius, to no one's surprise, turned out to be an astonishingly graceful skater. His red-and-gold scarf whirled about his head as he executed perfect turns and jumps. Juliet was almost as good, and they performed a graceful dance together, skating backwards and spinning quickly about the rink.

James and Lily watched in awe, but then he grabbed her hands and they, too flew about the rink, skating in perfect unison until he tried to pull Lily backwards. They ended up sliding all over the ice, Lily clutching him in a desperate attempt not to fall, and finally, lying on their backs, both of them gasping for breath in between gales of laughter.

"I -- vote -- we -- take --a -- break," Lily choked, attempting to sit up and sliding.

"Motion -- seconded." James struggled to his feet and pulled her up as well. "Coming, you two?"

"Sure." Juliet skated swiftly off and returned shortly with a large box of sweets. "You all owe me ten Knuts." James and Sirius were already engaged in a violent argument about whether the Appleby Arrows could possibly beat both the Wigtown Wanderers and the Ballycastle Bats to win the League.

"Do you two ever think about anything besides Quidditch?" asked Juliet, exasperated, as she bit into a Chocolate Frog. "Oh, it's Ichabod the Irreverent, I've got about fifty of him."

"No," Lily replied with a melodramatic sigh. "They live and breathe that game. I don't believe they can hold a decent discussion without it."

"Can too," James retorted.

"Bet you can't go the rest of the afternoon without mentioning it once!" Lily challenged.

"We can, and I'll prove it. Loser treats everyone to Butterbeer," Sirius declared, then hesitated. "James, why don't you start."

James was at a loss for words, and the girls exchanged triumphant glances. He hurriedly glanced at Juliet's purchase and said, "Did you ever notice how people are like sweets?"

"Can't say as I have," Lily admitted, brushing a piece of hair out of her eyes and putting her arm around James. "Do continue."

"Well," James began, sucking a sugar quill meditatively, "Sirius is like an Exploding Bonbon."

"Can't argue that," Lily said with a laugh.

"Juliet's like an Acid Pop -- she looks sweet, but she could burn a hole in you like that." James snapped his fingers. "Snape is like a Cockroach Cluster, or maybe a Blood Lollipop -- I can't decide." Everyone laughed. "Professor McGonagall is a Licorice Wand. I don't know why, she just is. And Lily, you're like... a sugar quill."

She looked at him questioningly, and he rushed on. "I mean, you're sweet, and you're sharp -- and you tickle!" For Lily had brushed his neck with her fingertips, not entirely accidentally. "And you look like you're really fragile, but I don't think you'd shatter easily." James snapped the nib off his quill and began sucking on it. "Come on, let's go back on the ice." He took her hand.

Once they were flying across the ice, Lily smiled at him. "And do you like sugar quills, James?"

"Why, I do indeed, Lily." James stopped, took her other hand in his, and looked down at her. "I like them very much." He took a deep breath, leaned down, and kissed her.

The sugar from his sweets still on her lips, Lily kissed him back.

In the years that followed, she never remembered who won the bet, or whether James managed to teach her to skate backwards. What Lily remembered was that, beside the serviceable eagle feathers on James's desk, there always nestled a sugar quill. She remembered that she developed a sudden fondness for the sweet when she returned to Hogwarts.

And she remembered that kiss, their first. The kiss that made her feel warm, even in the chill of the ice rink. The kiss that began everything.

A kiss sweet with the taste of a sugar quill.

A/N: Inspired by Gryffindor Scarf Guy at the ice-skating rink. A nice little plot bunny that unfortunately appeared *after* I’d sent in my first submission.


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