The Sugar Quill
Author: birgit (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Domus Draconis  Chapter: Chapter 3: Jolly Juice
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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: For this story, I borrowed the wizarding world, as well as Privet Drive and the zoo in Little Whinging, from JK Rowling. Several characters were also created by her, but I am completely responsible for their actions in this story. The plot is mine, and once book 6 comes out, it’s going to be complete nonsense, but I will have had fun anyway.

Author’s Note: Many thanks to my wonderful beta readers Alistria and Delleve Miststone, and of course my brilliant SQ beta reader Arianrhod.

Domus Draconis

by Birgit

Chapter 3 – Jolly Juice

“The most important thing is to speak clearly.”

Mark was fascinated. He was about to travel in a wizarding way for the first time, and it sounded very exciting. Mr Weasley had explained that there was a network of wizarding fires, called the Floo network. They just had to travel through the network and get out at the right grate.

“Now, who wants to go first?” Mr Weasley asked enthusiastically.

Mark glanced over at his parents. His mother was looking very scared, and his father was rubbing her back, softly whispering consoling words to her.

“I will,” Mark said.

At once, his parents turned to stare at him. Mark smiled back happily and grabbed a handful of Floo powder, just as Mr Weasley had instructed. He threw the powder in the fire and watched in amazement as the flames turned brilliant green. He took one step forward, heard his mother gasp, then took a deep breath and stepped into the green fire.

It felt pleasantly warm. His mother looked as if she was going to pull him back out of the fire, but his father had one hand on her shoulder to prevent that. Mark smiled. He decided he’d better go quickly before either of his parents changed their minds about dinner with the Weasleys.

“The Burrow!” he yelled, holding his arms tightly to his sides, just as Mr Weasley had adviced him.

The fire engulfed him. His parents and Mr Weasley disappeared from sight, and the green flames around him were swirling so fast that he was starting to feel slightly nauseous. He closed his eyes and let the fire carry him away, but he was disappointed to note that the journey wasn’t nearly as fun as the cart-ride in Gringotts. Although he was racing through the green mass at roller-coaster speed, the journey merely made him feel sick, and he hoped it would stop soon, before he threw up.

Mark had only just finished that thought when he felt himself slowing down, as if a violent storm had risen and was trying to blow him back. He opened his eyes and caught sight of a few grates flashing past, until he suddenly changed direction and hurtled towards one of the grates. Only half a second after the sickening change of direction, the Floo network spat him out, and he landed hard on a cold stone floor.

Gasping for breath, he rolled over and looked straight at the tip of a wand, held by a red-haired woman who was towering over him. Her face was set and she seemed to be about to utter a deadly curse. Mark’s heart hammered in his chest, and he suddenly wished he was back with his parents and the friendly Mr Weasley. As the woman opened her mouth, Mark closed his eyes, waiting for the blow to fall.

“And who are you?”

Mark opened his eyes in surprise. The wand tip hadn’t moved and the woman looked just as frightening as before, but he was still alive. He quickly decided answering the question would be best.

“Mark Evans,” he said.

“Ah,” the woman said, suddenly smiling. “Did Arthur send you?”

Mark thought his father had called Mr Weasley “Arthur,” so he quickly nodded.

The woman lowered her wand and pulled him to his feet. She started to swat him; it took a few seconds for Mark to realise she was swatting the dust and ashes off his clothes.

“Welcome to the Burrow,” she said, smiling. “I’m Molly Weasley.”

Mark suddenly couldn’t understand that he had been scared to death by her only a few moments before. Right now, she looked very good-natured and pleasant; she also wasn’t nearly as tall as Mark had thought. Mark smiled and decided he liked her.

All of a sudden, a faint screaming started. Mark froze in shock while the screaming grew louder and louder. He whirled around, but there was no one else in the kitchen aside from him and Mrs Weasley.

Then the fire lit up green, and as a dark shape emerged from it, the screaming stopped abruptly and was replaced by a yell of pain.

“Well, hello,” Mrs Weasley said. “You must be Mark’s mother.”

Mark rushed to his mother’s side and helped her up. She looked aghast.

“Never ... never ...” she gasped.

“It’s all right, Mum,” Mark said. “You ended up in the right grate, didn’t you?”

His mother didn’t seem to be able to speak, so he helped her over to the kitchen table and sat her down.

While his mother was slowly regaining some colour in her face, Mark looked around the kitchen. He spotted a clock on the wall. It was clearly a magical clock: instead of numbers, there were phrases like “Time to feed the chickens” and “You’re late.” Right now, the only hand was stuck between “You’ve got visitors” and “Time to make dinner.”

The kitchen fire went green once again and with a soft whoosh, Mark’s father entered. He was the only one of the family to get up by himself, brushing ashes off his hair and clothes. He glanced over at Mark and his mother and then extended a hand to Mrs Weasley.

While greetings were exchanged, Harry arrived. Mark had expected him to exit the Floo gracefully, as he was the most experienced, but he was mistaken. Harry tumbled out of the fire and smashed into the floor. Moaning, he pulled himself up.

“I’m never going to like this,” he said miserably.

Then he looked around in the kitchen. “Hello, Mrs Weasley, good to see you again.”

The next moment, Harry had disappeared from sight as Mrs Weasley had engulfed him. When finally, after a few minutes, Mrs Weasley released Harry, she held him at arm length and observed him with a critical eye.

“I have never seen you looking so healthy at the end of the summer,” she said, as she appraised him.

Mark didn’t think Harry looked very healthy, as his face had turned purple from lack of oxygen, but he supposed that a whole summer with the Dursleys would be much more harmful than a hug from Mrs Weasley.

There was a tiny pop and Mr Weasley materialized out of thin air. Mark felt his eyes grow wide. That was amazing. He immediately wanted to know when he would learn to do that, but before he could decide whether to ask his father, Harry or Mr Weasley about it, he heard a door open behind his back.

He turned around and blinked. In the door frame, four boys were standing. They all had red hair and lots of freckles, and they wore almost identical grins on their faces. Mark blinked again. He now noticed that one of them was slightly taller than the other three, and one was more a man than a boy, but the two boys in the middle were identical to every freckle.

“Harry!” the tall boy exclaimed. “I didn’t know you were coming!”

“I didn’t know either,” Harry said, grinning.

Someone behind Mark cleared his throat.

“Boys,” Mr Weasley said, stepping forward. “This is Mark Evans, and his parents.”

The eldest boy extended his hand to Mark. “Hi, I’m Charlie. So Harry is living with you, right?”

Mark shook his hand and nodded. Before he had the chance to say anything, one of the twins knocked Charlie out of the way.

“Nice to meet you, Mark,” the boy said, vigorously shaking Mark’s hand. “I’m George.”

“Don’t, Fred,” Harry said in a bored voice.

“What?” The boy pulled an innocent looking face.

Harry sighed and rolled his eyes. “Mark, this is Fred. The other one is George.”

The second twin appeared. “You’re no fun, Harry.”

The tall boy turned out to be Harry’s friend Ron, and after the four boys, Ron’s sister Ginny entered the kitchen. Mark wondered why Harry always called her “Ron’s little sister.” She was almost as tall as Ron, and certainly taller than Harry.

“Dinner’s ready!” Mrs Weasley called.

Dinner was a completely new experience for Mark. He had never been to a gathering of such a large family as the Weasleys, and certainly not of such a noisy one. Fred and George were telling Harry stories about their joke shop, and the three of them burst out laughing every few minutes. Mr Weasley was talking to Mark’s father about his job at the Ministry of Magic, and was amiably sharing stories about shrinking keys, stubborn paper knives and word-shuffling dictionaries. Mark’s mother and Mrs Weasley seemed to be exchanging recipes and talking about Muggle and magical ways of cooking. Charlie was talking to Ron and Ginny about dragons.

Mark tried to eat and listen to all four of the conversations at the same time, immensely enjoying the atmosphere. His gaze often darted to the strange clock on the wall and he wondered what other surprises the house would have in stock. He fervently hoped he would be getting a tour.

“So did you enjoy your shopping today, Mark?”

Mark started and turned to Charlie, who was looking at him genuinely interested, the Weasley Grin firmly in place.

“Oh yes, it was – er – nice,” Mark began, “and – I mean –” He took another look at the older boy’s face and suddenly felt very at ease. Surprising himself, he started to recount the day’s events, in no particular order. Charlie was a wonderful audience. He did not seem to consider Mark a little boy, and listened carefully to every word Mark said, while his eyes were glittering with enjoyment.

When Mark finished telling about buying a wand at Ollivanders, he noticed that everyone was silent. He blanched. Every single eye was on him, but he couldn’t tell if it was because they found his story interesting or because something was wrong.

“Is it usual for wands to spark like that?” he asked uncertainly.

“Oh, Bill had a lot of sparking wands, too,” Mrs Weasley said. “I remember clearly. Fred and George were there.” Her face darkened as she looked at her twin sons. “They thought the sparks were very – funny.”

For a moment, there was an uneasy silence. No one seemed to dare to ask what Fred and George had done – maybe nothing at all – until Mr Weasley cleared his throat.

“There are two possible reasons for sparking wands,” he said. “Usually a wand only sparks at touch if it fits the wizard. However, very powerful wizards are able to get sparks at the first touch of many wands. A more common reason, though, is that the wizard is able to use many wands well, even if there’s only one that suits him best.”

“Bill would have done well with other wands too,” Mrs Weasley said. “Although he might not have become Head Boy with every wand.”

“Why not?” Ron asked. “What has your wand to do with becoming Head Boy?”

Mrs Weasley directed her piercing gaze at him. “Because, Ronald Weasley, your grades and performances in class are very important for becoming Head Boy. It might not be considered very important for becoming a prefect, but to become a Head Boy you need top grades.”

Ron’s ears turned red at those words, and he suddenly became very interested in the last crumbs on his plate. Mrs Weasley glared at him for a moment, then waved her wand and made all the dishes fly over their heads to the sink. Mark gaped when another flick of her wand prompted the dishes to wash themselves.

When they moved to the living room a few minutes later, the conversation had turned to the inner workings of the Ministry of Magic. Mark tried to listen, because he was eager to learn anything about this wonderful world, but politics did not interest him much, and the long and exciting day started to take its toll. The words seemed not able to find their way into his head, which was feeling more heavy every minute.

While drinks were served, Mark’s gaze travelled through the living room. On a table next to the door were a few strange silver instruments, buzzing softly. The walls were covered with moving photographs of mostly freckled, red-haired people of various ages. A few of the photographs featured Harry, and Mark remembered the Dursleys’ living room – so different from this one – where no pictures of Harry were to be found at all.

Mark’s mind drifted away to the events of the past day. A man with violet – no, brown – robes swam into view, bloodshot eyes standing out on his face: the man they had met in front of Gringotts today. Mark wondered how such a man was supposed to protect Harry; he didn’t look very trustworthy. Was it possible that the man was secretly loyal to Voldemort instead of Dumbledore?

“Fudge is a fool!”

Mark started at the harsh words, and suddenly realised that he had been about to drift off to sleep; however, now he was wide awake again. It was Harry who had spoken, and he looked angrier than Mark had ever seen him.

“He’s certainly not the best Minister we could have,” Mr Weasley said calmly. “He’s totally incapable of running the Ministry, especially now the war has started again, but the Department Heads are working together very well on their own.”

“The war?” Mark’s father asked sharply.

Mr Weasley flashed an anxious glance to Harry before turning back to Mark’s parents. “Didn’t you hear? A dark wizard – that is, he’s evil – and we thought he was gone, but –”

“We know about that,” Mark’s mother interrupted. “But has he started a war?”

Mark didn’t feel remotely sleepy now. The stories his father and Harry had told him had made him realise that the situation was grave, but no one had ever talked about a war.

“I’m afraid we should call it a war, yes,” Mr Weasley said. “The attacks only started two months ago, after the Ministry finally acknowledged You-Know-Who’s return, but without doubt, it will get worse.”

“And the Minister?” Mark’s mother asked. “How will the wizarding world survive with an incompetent Minister?”

Mr Weasley smiled wryly. “Don’t worry about that; Fudge will be out of there soon enough. He simply cannot keep making mistakes without consequences for himself.”

“He’s already made too many mistakes,” Harry muttered, but he looked pleased with the information that Fudge would be gone soon.

“Who will be the new Minister, Dad?” Ron asked.

Mr Weasley hesitated. “It’s a bit too early to speculate about that, Ron –”

“But you must have an idea if you’re going to sack him,” his youngest son persisted.

“Well, there are several possible candidates,” Mr Weasley said. “There will be elections, of course. One of the candidates might be – er – well, maybe Amelia Bones, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”

Mark noticed that Mr Weasley’s ears turned red, just like Ron’s had done during dinner; even without that suspicious sign, it was clear that Mr Weasley was hiding something. It was equally clear that Ron wasn’t about to let it go.

Mark glanced over at Harry and was shocked to see him looking extremely angry. His face had turned very red, and still seemed to be getting redder. The colour even seemed to be stretching into his hair. Mark blinked. Harry’s hair was turning red. He blinked again. On a second thought, Harry didn’t look furious at all. It was the slightly annoyed expression and the unhealthy red colour in his face that made him seem angry, but that effect was wearing off now Harry’s hair had turned red, too.

Harry finally seemed to notice something when his nose and ears disappeared and were replaced by tomatoes. At the same time, Mark’s mother shrieked. Mark turned around quickly and caught sight of his father, who had turned dark blue and sported blackberries on his face, and was sitting next to a lemon-decorated, bright yellow Charlie Weasley. Mark’s mother had gone rigid with shock.

Mrs Weasley was the first to come to her senses. “FRED AND GEORGE WEASLEY! HOW DARE YOU DO THAT TO OUR GUESTS!”

“Now Molly,” Mr Weasley interrupted. “I’m sure they’re willing to turn them back, don’t you, boys?” Mark was quite sure he was hiding a smile.

“Of course, Dad,” George said.

“It only lasts a few minutes,” Fred added.

Mrs Weasley still looked furious, but she didn’t say anything. Ginny had sat down next to her and was patting her back.

“What is this stuff?” Harry asked, examining his red hands.

“Jolly Juice,” Fred said proudly. “Our newest product, to be used at parties. We’ve invented four different types.”

“Green Apple Juice is supposed to be in Mark’s glass,” George said. “Didn’t you drink any of it, Mark?”

Mark looked at the glass on the table in front of him. He vaguely remembered the drinks being brought in, just before his mind had started wandering. He hadn’t taken one sip of it.

“You still could –” Fred started.

“OH NO YOU DON’T!” Mrs Weasley cut him off. Ginny tumbled to the floor in surprise, clutching her ear, which had been no more than ten inches away from her mother’s mouth. “It’s bad enough as it is! You’re NOT going to make him drink that!”

“All right, Mum, all right.”

Most likely the only reason that Mrs Weasley didn’t continue her lecture was that the victims of the Jolly Juice turned right at that moment. Mark’s mother seemed very relieved that her husband had regained his usual colour and she smiled a bit.

As the conversation resumed without any yelling, Mark’s eyelids became heavy. He still wanted to say something to Fred and George about the Jolly Juice, but he couldn’t remember what, and he did not seem to have the force to speak either. As the sounds around him turned into a comfortable buzzing, his head lolled aside and sleep overcame him.

Tom and Amy Evans smiled as they saw their son fall asleep on the couch in the Weasleys’ living room.

“I think Mark has had enough fun for one day,” Tom said. As he stood up and walked over to Mark, he noticed that Harry was looking quite drowsy as well. He lightly touched the shoulder of the boy whom he had come to love almost as his own son over the past two months. “Ready to go home, Harry?”

Harry nodded and got to his feet as well. While he said goodbye to all of the Weasleys, and Amy thanked them for their hospitality, Tom gathered Mark in his arms, savouring the fact that he was allowed to do this for a final time before Mark went off to Hogwarts. He did not doubt that Mark would feel much too grown-up for this when he returned home for Christmas.

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