The Sugar Quill
Author: Fortuitous Intervention (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Love is the Child of an Endless War  Chapter: His Father's Son
Next Chapter
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Penny Weasley sat studying quietly at her kitchen table

Penny Weasley sat studying quietly at her kitchen table.  She had her own office, a sitting room attached to the master bedroom, George’s office, or the computer desk in the recreation room to work from, but she preferred the kitchen.  Studying in the kitchen was a habit she’d acquired in the early days of her relationship with Percy, when they’d shared a two room flat in Diagon Alley situated across the alley and around the curve from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. 

 

Mostly she’d loved studying in the kitchen then because Percy had liked to cook and she enjoyed watching him fixing her all of her favorite things to eat, while she crammed her head full of anatomy, incurable magical afflictions, and healing spells.  Occasionally she’d harrowed him with some of the more gruesome details she studied while he was cooking because he’d been so squeamish. It had been such fun to watch him flinch.

 

Now as the wife of one of the wealthiest wizards in the world a house elf made her meals to order. Aloysious to be exact, he was nosy, irascible, and painfully loyal to Mistress Penny. George had hired him for her because he knew that good food was important to Penny and Aloysious was a splendid chef. He’d been the top graduate in his class from the finest culinary school in the magical world.  Tonight he’d created a fabulous vegetable soufflé using Gruyere’ cheese, freshly grated, and a fruit compote salad made up of applies, tangerines, and walnuts coated thickly with dressing made from Percy’s own receipt. He’d also whipped up a side of barbecued dead cow for George who had never come home for dinner.  Despite his fine business sense George was a family man, with wealth enough that he rarely ever missed eating dinner with them.  “I have more than enough money,” he always said.  “Why work all the time when I can pay someone to do it for me?”  Not only had he missed dinner that night, though, he hadn’t even rung Penny on her mobile, or sent an owl.  Old-fashioned and outdated though they might be now that Muggles and Wizards were trying to share their ideas and inventions owls were still available to deliver mail in some areas.

 

Penny started to be worried about him.  It was really very unlike George not to call.  He was so dependable.  She glanced at the clock on the wall, a leftover household accoutrement from her first marriage to Percy.  It had been a housewarming gift from his mother, Molly Weasley.  Penny loathed the clock. It was a smart-alecky timepiece that announced its opinions whether you asked it to, or not.  Percy had loathed it. George loathed it. The children loathed it. Even Aloysious loathed it, but Penny couldn’t bear to throw it out.  “10:00 o’clock,” it intoned self-importantly, “Where do you suppose that unnatural beast you’re married to now has gotten himself?”  Penny gave it a sour look, but arguing with it was truly pointless, rather like talking to Molly sometimes.

 

The sound of his key in the door had her jumping up out of her modern classic kitchen chair, designed by an up and coming Swedish gnome cabinet-maker, to rush out of the room and into the kitchen corridor.  “George!” she spoke, sounding relieved on meeting him in the foyer.  “Where have you been all night?  I was really getting worried, why didn’t you ring me?” 

 

“Hello, love!”  George greeted her cheerily with a boozy kiss.  Penny would never guess he’d been sobbing into his beer for the better part of the night.  Not if he could help it. 

 

“You’ve been drinking!” she accused him, shocked. He usually drank with her at home, or at parties on the weekends. He never went out to drink during the week, unless…   

 

“Don’t be cross with me, Penny. It was all Harry’s idea.”  George hiccupped, tossing his arm around her waist and accompanying her into the kitchen.  “I’m starving,” he opened up the refrigerator, peering eagerly inside. First some food, then he’d have his wife. 

 

“What’s he done now, George?”  Penny asked, closing the refrigerator door with one hand. Stepping between her husband and nourishment. 

 

“All right, I’ll have you first.”  George changed his agenda with good-natured ease, putting his arms around her to nuzzle at her neck.  “You’re the most delicious thing I see in the kitchen tonight, anyway.”

 

“Stop it!”  Penny demanded, pushing him away.  “You’re drunk, and there’s only one reason you’d go out to get drunk without me.  What’s he done?  Tell me now, or I won’t let you eat, or have sex with you, ever again.” 

 

Furrowing his red-eye brows in drunken mock severity George replied, “You’re a hard woman, Penelope Weasley.  We’ll never make any babies if you have that sort of attitude.” 

 

“George,” Penny folded her arms, tapping her foot expectantly, “spill it.”

 

“Where’s my princess?”  George assiduously avoided his wife’s demands and her evil eye, looking around the room for seven year-old Phillipa, a veritable redheaded angel.   

 

“She’s in bed!  It’s ten o’clock already.”  Penny grabbed George’s face between her palms. Forcing him to make eye contact.  “You’re making me feel quite perturbed, now.  Must I go to see Malfoy and find out what’s happened for myself?”  She knew he’d crack under the threat.  One of George’s major life ambitions was serving as a steadfast barrier between anyone named Malfoy and anyone named Weasley, particularly this gorgeous Weasley and their wicked Weasley offspring. “Fine,” George gave in reluctantly. Feeling his pleasant drunk slipping away. Deeply regretting its loss. “You will be perverse and insist on sharing the parenting nightmares equally, so if you can’t sleep tonight it won’t be my fault.  A sixth year prefect caught him sneaking out of the Shrieking Shack on a regular school night.  Since the prefect happened to be shagging his new girlfriend in the shack he was reluctant to turn Jasper in, for obvious reasons.  Jasper was deep in negotiations to settle on a reasonable fee that would ensure his silence when...”

 

Penny gasped, her blue eyes grown enormously wide already, and George had barely scratched the surface of his tale. “He’s been sneaking out of the castle? What if he gets hurt doing that? And what kind of morally reprehensible prefect accepts hush money from a little boy?  They’re supposed to be looking out for him there!”  Her tone conveyed pure dismay.

 

“Penny, if you’re going to keep interrupting me this is going to be a very long explanation.  Can’t I have something to eat first?”  George asked plaintively.

 

“Keep talking,” Penny ordered him. “I’ll fix you a plate.”

 

Finishing his hastily assembled dinner and his story George then sat back with a tired sigh to gaze appreciatively at his wife.  Penny had only gotten better with time. She was thirty-three and he found her every bit as attractive now as he ever had, in fact maybe more so, of late he’d felt an extreme, urgent need to make a baby with her.

 

She had an amazing head of rambunctious black curls with a life of their own. Long lashes fringed startlingly blue eyes. Her roses and cream complexion positively radiated with good health, and her body curved lusciously, like a goddess, long limbed, large breasted, with round hips and thighs. For a women she was quite tall, almost the same height as George, although she’d only come up to Percy’s high shoulder. Everywhere she went George watched men stop whatever they were doing to turn and stare admiringly in the wake of her unconsciously provocative leggy stride.

 

George was thoroughly smitten with her.  Percy had been smitten with her, too.  Not many would have guessed, as different as they always had been, that the brothers’ ideal of the perfect woman would turn out to be exactly the same.  Penny certainly never had guessed it. She’d been aware of the fact that George had a crush on her, sure.  But it had been an innocent boyish sort of infatuation, harmless and sweet.  He’d pop over to bring her Sugar Quills if she wasn’t feeling well, or invite her over to his shop for pizza and butter beer on the pretext that he and Fred needed help with stocking shelves at night, or with packing a big shipment.  As in love with Percy as she had been, never questioning that everybody, including George, knew that she was, Penny had just played along with him. She liked him very much as a friend. She loved him because he was Percy’s brother. They had always gotten along well, and he had always been very kind to her, but she never would have predicted that George’s attraction to her would turn into such a full-fledged passion, or that they would have ever found so much happiness together as a couple.

 

George came to her emotional rescue when Percy died.  George rescued her in every way when Percy died. He’d eased into her newly saddened and lonely life like a comfortable pair of faded dungarees, with the same exact surety of a well-thumbed favorite novel.  Penny was in love with him.  She hadn’t been when they’d married, but she definitely was now.  How could she not adore a man who loved her children like his own? Who’d devoted his whole life to making her, and them, safe and happy? 

 

“George, you nitwit, why didn’t you ring me that Jasper was in trouble again?”  Penny raged at him.

 

George shrugged helplessly, “Mobile phones don’t work well in the magical world, Pen, despite our best efforts.  Fred and I are working on the ion displacement spell that will splinter the magic connectivity to allow electronic devices to operate, but it’s tough going.  You can’t undo a thousand years of magical segregation overnight.  Besides, I knew you had a big test at school today, and I couldn’t very well send an owl winging into Oxford, or pop myself into the quad, now could I?”

 

She’d been studying like mad for the entrance exams into the newest field of study in medicine. It was a first attempt at combining the training of a magical healer with the common sense approach to healthcare that Muggles used.  An original and innovative undertaking, and only the very finest students were to be accepted into the program. Nonetheless, her children always came first with Penny, and she deeply disliked finding out this sort of disturbing news after the fact. George was exceptionally good at dealing with Jasper, but a mother always worries more. Penny’s maternal instincts gave her a stronger inclination to snap Jasper back in line, harshly if need be, than George had. 

 

Penny was wringing her hands, chewing her lip, glaring at George fretfully over the rims of her oval-shaped, gold-rimmed spectacles.  She’d picked up a few of Percy’s mannerisms in a nine-year relationship, or maybe it was just the side effects from raising his son.  “I can’t believe he lied to you, George.  Out and out looked you in the eye and lied to you.  Are you positive he wasn’t telling you the truth?”

 

“It would be an exaggeration to say he was looking me in the eye.  Actually, I’m fairly certain he was focused the entire time on my left ear.” George replied accompanied by a stretching yawn. “And there’s no mistaking that empty slot in the safe at Harry’s house.   The map is gone, and if Ginny wasn’t six months pregnant, and confined to bed, I think she might have considered jumping up to go and thrash Jasper herself.”

 

“Well, I think you should have spanked him. I know you hate to do it, but he deserved it today.”  Penny snapped, “I’m tempted to go up there tomorrow and spank him myself, the little fiend.  He can’t be allowed to lie to us, and he surely should have learned not to steal from his own family by now. It’s one thing for him to get up to mischief, but I won’t tolerate not being able to believe my own son.”

 

“Hmmm… well, I talked to Harry about all of this tonight at the Hogshead, and while I agree with you that the occasional spanking does seem to improve Jasper’s attitude, Harry seems to think that beating children is passé.  Since it’s his map, I thought we’d take a break and let him deal with Jasper.  It’ll be good practice for him.”

 

“What does Harry know about raising children?  He doesn’t even have any, yet. You’re being rather casual about all of this, don’t you think?  George, I want to bring Jasper home before he gets into serious trouble.  This is not working out with him being away at school. He needs better supervision than he has, and he needs stronger discipline, too, but not the kinds of sadistic torture that Malfoy dishes out.”

 

“Draco Malfoy will not ever lay a hand on one of my children, so long as there is breath in my body,” George swore, choosing his words carefully to avoid starting a quarrel with her. “Look, Penny, I’ve wondered myself if Jasper isn’t acting out because he’s missing the attention he gets at home, but when I asked him about it today he said he doesn’t want to come home. I don’t think he was being entirely honest with me about that, either. But before you say anything else, I want to tell you that I’m not going to be convinced into taking him out of Hogwarts altogether.  Being on the Quidditch team has been a good thing for him. He’s learning how to play by the rules, and about how his actions affect others and all the uncomfortable ways in which his bad behavior can create consequences for him that go beyond having an over warmed backside.  Since he’s started playing Quiddtich he sleeps better at night, he’s made a friend, and he’s usually well occupied enough not to endanger himself or others.”

 

In six years of married life their one, and only, serious quarrel had been about Jasper’s magical education.  When he’d received his acceptance into Hogwarts George insisted he be allowed to go.  Penny had thrown an absolute fit. She wasn’t quite finished with throwing it, yet.  After Percy’s sudden, tragic, death she was understandably reluctant to let the children out of her sight, much less send them away to boarding school.   Although Jasper had managed to get through his first year without major disaster, the older he got the more mischievous he got, and the more brainpower he acquired to fuel his evil schemes.  George had to admit her concerns were legitimate. Jasper was no ordinary child, but he was a child. He needed to spend more time with normal children more like himself than the ones in the surrounding all Muggle neighborhoods.  It wasn’t that George didn’t worry about Jasper getting into serious trouble, obviously he did. He didn’t like the idea that Jasper had been dishonest with him anymore than Penny did. In fact, that troubled him the most, but Weasleys did have that little fabrication gene welded into their very natures, Penny didn’t.

 

Penny huffed irritably trying to think of a suitable argument that would sway him.  Arguing with George was always a problem in that he refused to do it. He was just too calm and good-natured. He made his own case quietly then listened to her rant and rave until she ran out of steam. If the tension got to be too great he’d be forced to make her laugh. She could count on her hands the number of times he’d ever lost his temper, one notable occasion being the cursing of her new Jaguar convertible courtesy of Jasper Weasley. 

 

They stared at each other across the table in silence.  The clock on the wall croaked, “Eleven o’clock. The rotten apple doesn’t fall far…”

 

“Nobody asked you!”  Penny and George bellowed at it together, then looked at each other and burst out laughing.

 

“You see, love, this is why I didn’t want to discuss Jasper with you tonight.  I will swear that child is the absolute best form of birth control there is.  Now you’re upset with me, you’re cross with him, and feeling this way is going to put you off sex. Really, Penny, I think we should be up in bed doing it right now, not sitting here talking about punishing that little beast.”

 

“You’re a hopeless romantic, George.”  Penny laughingly derided his humorous foreplay.

 

“I can do better,” he vowed, getting up from the table, pulling her out of her chair and snaking his hand beneath her blouse to palm a full breast. Pulling her close so that she could feel just how much he wanted her, he tilted his head for a kiss.  He never failed to appreciate how nicely their bodies fit together, or the quick way she responded to him, now.  While she had always pressed herself against him willingly, always kissed him with affection, it had not always been with this much passion.  In between kisses he asked hopefully, “This is the right time of the month, isn’t it?” 

 

“It might be,” Penny speculated a little breathlessly, fairly well distracted from her troubles.

 

“Uncle George!”

 

Snatching his hand out of Penny’s shirt, so fast that her breasts might as well have ignited singeing his fingertips, George turned to face his accuser. Standing in the kitchen entrance, dressed in fuzzy red pajamas, which were liberally dotted with little black Scottish terriers, was his princess, flame haired, blue-eyed, Phillipa.

 

“You’re late,” she confronted him crossly. “You promised to read me “Some Wicked Witch This Way Comes” before I went to bed.”  She frowned balefully at her mother, “I wanted to wait up but Mummy made me go to bed, anyway.”

 

“I offered to read it to you myself,” Penny replied, irritated by the interrupted love making, and her daughter’s implication of neglect.

 

“You don’t do the voices well,” Phillipa haughtily informed her.

 

Aware of the need to fulfill the promise he’d made to Phillipa, even more painfully aware of his need to fulfill the promise he’d just started making with his wife, George sat down momentarily at the table to recover himself.  Clearing his throat mildly, he made amends, “You go back up to bed, Phil.  I’ll come read to you as soon as I’m done talking to Mummy.”  Like a doted-on princess, Phillipa bestowed a disdainful expression on them both, but was clever enough to realize the offer wasn’t going to get any sweeter than that. She consented with a regal nod and shuffled her pajama covered feet up the back staircase.

 

George shrugged an apology at Penny who now looked worried again about Jasper.  Moving in on her he whispered into her ear in case little pitchers were listening, “I made you forget about Jasper there for a minute, didn’t I?”

 

 “Yes, I guess you did,” Penny awarded him a reluctant smile.

 

“Well, I mean to do it again,” he insured his promise with an encouraging nuzzle. “You go to bed too, Penny. I can read fast.”

 

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

 

Wracked and boneless after a marathon love/baby making session with his wife, George sprawled unconscious half across Penny’s side of the bed.  She retaliated by half smothering him with piles of curly dark hair and they slept together in perfect peace and harmony.  That is until a familiar buzzing pricked George’s inner ear in the manner of a baby’s siren wail, only quieter.  He was reluctantly pulled into wakefulness by the persistent humming noise pinging on his conscience.

 

“Oh, bloody burning hell!” he grumbled, rolling out of bed, sliding into his pajama bottoms and rummaging through the pockets of the trousers he’d hastily slung over the bed until he seized the source of his disturbance.  He’d forgotten all about Jasper.  What brief bliss it had been. 

 

Things had been left badly between them at Hogwarts that afternoon.  George sent Jasper to his room, bribed Malfoy into lowering Jasper’s sentence with a generous contribution to the alumni fund, and had gone out to get drunk with Harry, without giving his nephew a hug, or even stopping on his way out to say goodbye.   He’d meant to contact him before going to bed tonight, at least to effect some semblance of reconciliation with the disingenuous little monster, but with one thing and another, plus his wife’s hands down his trousers, it had completely slipped his mind.

 

Grasping the small magic mirror in his hand, George slipped out of the room.  Heading downstairs into the kitchen to avoid waking Penny.  Slumping wearily onto a kitchen chair he popped the lid on the compact mirror to see Jasper’s too pale, shadow-eyed face peering back at him.

 

“It’s two o’clock in the morning, you miserable urchin,” George grumped only semi-feignedly.  “Why aren’t you in bed?  Have you been arrested?”

“Certainly not!”  Jasper drew himself up to his full height filled with affronted dignity.  Just like bloody Percy.  Percy could have slithered out of a swamp, covered in mud, oozing gunk, to greet a foreign dignitary with the same exact aplomb he’d display dressed in spotless formal wear.

 

“Have you fallen ill then?”  George demanded gruffly.

 

“No.” 

 

“Are you having bad dreams, again?  Shall I pop over to tuck you in?”

 

“That would be a nightmare, Uncle George,” Jasper replied austerely.

 

“How would it be if I disguised myself in a long black cape, and a mask, then snuck into your dormitory pretending to be a de-molared vampire that has to resort to attacking his victims with a fanged Frisbee?”  George offered.

 

“I dare say that would give all of my roommates nightmares,” Jasper responded with a bleary grin. 

 

George yawned, feeling too weary to hold up his end of the game of twenty questions.  Propping open one hazel eyeball with a forefinger and a thumb, he plopped his elbow on the table, resting his cheek in the other hand and observed Jasper’s features as closely as was possible with the aide of one burningly tired retina.

 

In addition to inheriting Percy’s propensity for pompous arrogance, Jasper had a measure of his proneness to anxiety and sleeplessness.  The kid looked terrible.  His blue eyes were red-rimmed, as was his pale little freckled nose, which meant, in all likelihood, that he’d made a decent attempt at crying himself to sleep tonight before resorting to George.  But insomnia, as George had learned from raising Jasper, was every bit as merciless to children as it was to grown-ups. His own parents had neglected mentioning to him how difficult parenting actually was, but he forgave them for it. He wouldn’t have believed them anyway.  Some things had to be experienced to be understood.

 

Without a doubt turning Jasper over his knee today would have reliably resulted in an immediate reversal of his recalcitrant behavior.  But George didn’t want to bully, threaten, or bribe him into being honest; better that he come to it for his own reasons, the right reasons, in his own time. And he’d felt fairly confident that Jasper would come to him with the truth soon. Not necessarily in the wee early morning hours of the next day, but better now than never.

 

Even now, seeming to have set himself on this course of action to truthfulness, Jasper let the silence grow heavy between them. George could feel himself slipping into it. Back into peaceful Jasper-less oblivion, where he could make love to Penny on the automatic rewind of his mind.  Thus pleasurably engaged, he started suddenly at Jasper’s second summons.  Realizing that if he wanted to crawl back into bed with his wife any time soon he was going to have to prod a little bit more.  “Conscience giving you a bad time of it tonight, Jasper?” 

 

Giving up the game in a relieved rush, Jasper blurted out, “I lied to you about the map, Uncle George.  I’ve had it here at Hogwarts for a long while now.  I snuck into Aunt Ginny’s library and took it out of their safe at Uncle Harry’s birthday party last summer.  I didn’t think they would notice it was missing until I had figured out how it works.  I swear to you; I would have given it back.”

 

“Excuse me for a just a minute,” George said politely to his nephew in the looking glass.  This was going to be a long conversation.  It required caffeine.  He banged noisily around the kitchen, making himself a cup of tea, cursing the house-elf worker’s union that demanded double time wages for twenty-four hour a day on-call elves.  He didn’t mind paying the extra, but the elf was never available during the night anyway.

 

Sitting back down with a steaming cup of tea, George sipped it. Studying his nephew speculatively.  “Have you figured out how it works?” he asked.

 

“Yes, of course, it’s not all that complicated really,” Jasper began, but George waved off what was sure to be a lengthy and impossible to understand explanation.  The map was an ingenious bit of very advanced magic. The combined efforts of four wizards invented the thing to display the location of every single entity at Hogwarts at any given time. Likely he could have turned that map over to the very best team of developmental magic wizards he and Fred employed and they wouldn’t have worked out the secrets of it in a year.  Jasper had it cinched in under a few months. 

 

“You weren’t by any chance thinking of replicating those maps and selling them to your schoolmates were you?”  George raised his eyebrows suspiciously.

 

“Uh..well, yes, as a matter of fact, I thought I could use the proceeds of the sale to fund a new animal shelter in Diagon Alley, one that specializes in finding homes for cast-off owls…” 

 

With an impatient wave of his hand George cut off the self-defense speech in mid-air, “Save it, Jasper. I’m not going to punish you for stealing the map.”

 

“You aren’t?” Jasper queried, surprised.

 

“No, I’m not.  Harry is.  I want you to take his map, and all the others you’ve made and return it to him tomorrow.   Tell him I said you’re at his mercy and he can do whatever he likes with you.”  Ah, what rapture it was to turn over his burden, even so briefly, to a childless man who dared to think he knew better than one who had already suffered so many trials of parenthood.

 

Jasper should have been relieved.  Uncle Harry was a very rational and reasonable man.  There was just the one problem.  “I can’t return his map, Uncle George.  I have the ones I made, but the original has been stolen.”

 

A brief rocket of rage exploded behind George’s right temple, and he shouted, “What?  That map is a Weasley family heirloom!  How could you treat it so irresponsibly?” 

 

Jasper’s lower lip trembled precariously. George cursed.  “I thought I had it well hidden,” Jasper protested tremulously, “but when I went back today to retrieve it…..”

 

“You snuck out of the castle again?”  George ascertained furiously.

 

“How else was I supposed to do what you told me to?”  Jasper wailed finding himself at a loss. He was trying desperately to right his wrongs, only to find himself increasingly mired in his uncle’s wrath. 

 

George bit down on his tongue, forcing himself not to scold Jasper any further. The goal at the moment was to ease Jasper’s mind sufficiently to get them both back into bed, and asleep. Upsetting him wasn’t going to assist that effort. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave,” George offered an annoying clichéd Muggle reproach to his literary minded nephew who could have finished off the entire stanza if he’d been so inclined. “I still want you to go talk to Harry tomorrow.  Tell him everything you’ve told me and give him every single map you have in your possession, understand?”

 

“Yes,” came the gloomy response.

 

George’s mouth quirked in irritation.  “Would you rather have a spanking?”

 

Really, it had all become almost too much for Jasper to bear.  Utterly chagrined, he believed that he had to be the only eleven-year-old boy in the whole world that still had to worry about getting spanked for misbehaving.  It was a rare threat coming from George, but had undeniably been followed by uncomfortable action in the past. Gulping reflexively he responded promptly, “No, sir.”

 

“Well, then,” George advised, “I’d suggest you improve your attitude.  I’ve saved your hide tonight, the least you could do is be a little grateful for it.”

 

“Okay,” Jasper sniffed, rubbing tiredly at his eyes. “I’ll take the maps to Uncle Harry and tell him what you told me to.”

 

George tamped down the urge to Floo immediately to Hogwarts in his bare feet and pajama bottoms in order to give Jasper a consoling hug in person.  That wouldn’t do. Jasper would be forced to pretend he was embarrassed, full of pretentious outraged pre-adolescent indignity. He, then, would need to claim making an accidental wrong turn out of the bath straight into the fireplace. Jasper was growing prickly. He still submitted to his mother’s coddling and affection with fairly good grace and humor but even that tolerance was waning thin. George didn’t doubt that Jasper still needed the loving attention, but it would be better if he could just get them both to bed without it. “Good luck to you explaining what you’ve done to your aunt Ginny.  Harry can probably find out what’s happened to the original map; if he can’t do it, I certainly can’t.  I’ll tell Fred it’s been mislaid for now.  Buck up then, Jasper, by this time tomorrow it will all be over with, and I don’t think it will be so very terrible since your aunt Ginny isn’t allowed to get out of bed.  Is there anything else troubling you tonight?”   

 

“My Quidditch teammates are all mad at me. Even Stubby is annoyed, but mostly I think it’s because I snuck out without him,” Jasper admitted disconsolately, rubbing at his eyes again.  “They haven’t kicked me off the team, yet, but they aren’t happy that I can’t practice with them.”

 

“I can understand that,” George forcibly replied unsympathetically. “It’s easy to despise the bloke who gets to stay in bed before the icy dawn, or sits by a warm fire, instead of flying face first into freezing mud after the Quaffle during practice.”

 

“I’d rather be out in the mud with them than inside thinking about what a mess I’ve made of things this time,” Jasper mumbled miserably.

 

With tearful, sleepy, blue eyes, a tangled mop of drooping curls, and a look of profound forlornness on his skinny freckled face he suddenly seemed impossibly vulnerable, far too young to be away at school and on the receiving end of his much older, and larger, Quidditch teammate’s hostility. For a fleeting moment George experienced a panicked certainty that Penny had been right. They should have kept Jasper safe at home with them until he was older, say twenty-five or so.  When this flicker of parental paranoia faded, reasonable sanity told George that Jasper was definitely looking edgy tonight. He was a bit too angst ridden and exhausted for an eleven-year-old boy. Something needed to be done about it; George had thought so earlier today in Malfoy’s office and wasn’t sure what to do with him at the time. Maybe Jasper just needed to come home for a few days of parental soothing, even if he wouldn’t admit to it easily.  He looked like he could use a few good tucks into bed, and somebody to sit beside him for a couple of nights reading to him, or listening to his preteen woes until fell asleep.

 

“Your mother and your sister miss you awfully, Jasper.  What would you say if I arranged for you to come home and visit for a few days?  Maybe when your detention is finished?” George suggested carefully trying to avoid any appearance of coddling, cajoling, or managing that would inspire Jasper’s verging adolescent resistance.

 

“I suppose you’ve felt obligated to keep Mummy fully informed?”  Jasper inquired fretfully, postponing his answer while he wondered how gruesome a reception he might get from his mother after getting caught lying, stealing, and sneaking out of school in the middle of the night.  A spanking might be preferable to having her glare at him for days with that expression of wretched, flat-out disgusted, disappointment she got whenever he was in deep trouble.  However, the two possibilities weren’t mutually exclusive. His mother was perfectly capable of subjecting him to both and at this dark hour before the dawn he pretty much felt like he deserved anything she could dish out.

 

“You know how ruthless she can be,” George teased him with a wry smile. “She threatened to put me off sex if I didn’t spill my guts and tell her why you were the reason Harry and I went out to get drunk last night.” His smile broadened as Jasper’s head disappeared off mirror, and he heard the unmistakable sounds of exaggerated fake retching.

 

Over the past year George had noticed him bouncing between ‘All girls carry woodlice.’ and ‘Hey, that one is kind of pretty, how do you convince them to kiss you?’  Due to Jasper’s extreme precocity, he and Penny weren’t taking any chances with his sex education.  They were very open to talking with him about sex and love.  He thought all of it was pretty gross right now, but that wasn’t going to last much longer, and George wanted him to feel comfortable with them as sexual beings so he wouldn’t feel quite so freaked out when he needed to ask questions.

 

Jasper popped back up in the mirror making a face. “Is Mum very cross with me?”

 

“She wanted to come up to the school and spank you when I told her how rotten you’ve been.”

 

Jasper blanched.  His imagination spiraled with the infinite awfulness he might have visited upon himself by borrowing that map without permission. Life seemed very grim and dark indeed. If his mother had intentions of coming up to school and spanking him he would be reduced to groveling and pleading with her to be spared the pain and humiliation.  He might as well go and fling himself off the Astronomy tower now and get it over with.

 

George let him suffer for a minute, before admitting,  “I managed to talk her out of it, so don’t blow your second chance, it was a near thing for you this time.”

 

“Uncle George, I am sorry I lied to you. I got a bad stomachache from not telling you the truth, today. I couldn’t eat a bite of my supper.”  Jasper confessed, feeling immensely relieved and giving in to a yawn, “Now I’m hungry, but I think I’m too tired to eat.”

 

George glanced at the possessed kitchen clock on the wall; it sent him a judgmental view in return, “It’s two-thirty in the morning, and decent, normal, people who don’t carry around excess emotional baggage are sleeping.” 

 

“I suppose a lie that doesn’t live for even twenty-four hours is a lie that I can forgive. Let’s don’t make a habit of it, though, all right? I had a stomachache today, too, when you didn’t tell me the truth. Will you try to promise me that I won’t be summoned to Hogwarts for anything more serious than a Quidditch match until at least after the New Year?”

 

“I’ll do my best,” Jasper promised, and then added, “I guess I could come home to visit for a few days.”

 

“Good, I’ll owl the school tomorrow and arrange it.  Is there anything else you want to talk about before I go back to bed? Do you think you can go to sleep now?”

 

“I think I can go to sleep.  Goodnight, Uncle George.”

 

“Goodnight, Jasper.”

 

George closed the compact, shoving the mirror into his pajama pocket.  The set of mirrors had belonged to Percy at one time, years ago, before the war. Percy had functioned as a double agent in the Ministry of Magic.  George’s mirror and its magical counterpart, probably now shoved under Jasper’s pillow, were a means for Percy to communicate with his allies before the war.  Now they were used as an invaluable link between Jasper and George.  George presented it to Jasper in private the day he’d started attending Hogwarts.  Pressing it into his nephew’s nervous, sweaty, palm he’d bent down to whisper so no one else could hear, “Any time you need me, Jasper, I’m right here on the other side of this mirror.  No matter where I am, or what I’m doing, I promise you I’ll answer it.”  And he always had. 

 

So far he’d managed never to let Jasper down. He tucked the mirror safely into his sock drawer, flopped himself under the covers, wrapped an arm around Penny, and fell back asleep wondering if that promise would continue to keep Jasper out of trouble in the years to come.

 

//
Write a review! PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of reviewing a story or piece of art at the Sugar Quill is to provide comments that will be useful to the author/artist. We encourage you to put a bit of thought into your review before posting. Please be thoughtful and considerate, even if you have legitimate criticism of a story or artwork. (You may click here to read other reviews of this work).
* = Required fields
*Sugar Quill Forums username:
*Sugar Quill Forums password:
If you do not have a Sugar Quill Forums username, please register. Bear in mind that it may take up to 72 hours for your account to be approved. Thank you for your patience!
*Comment:
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --