The Sugar Quill
Author: Fitchburg Finch (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Brand-New  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Brand-New

by Fitchburg Finch

Disclaimer: All characters and places in this story belong to J.K. Rowling.

Thank you to Night Zephyr for her time and her help. Also, thank you to Lisa and Kristin for their support.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Molly impatiently rapped her fingertips against the wooden table in the kitchen of the Burrow. She stared hard at the ceiling, as though her willpower would make Fred and George hurry and come downstairs so that they could leave for their annual Diagon Alley shopping trip. Behind Molly, Ginny leaned casually against the counter. Percy stood near the fireplace, using the cuff of his sleeve to polish the Head Boy badge that was pinned to his jumper. He glanced at the badge and saw a miniature version of his own reflection. Cleary pleased, he pompously clasped his hands behind his back.

From his seat at the table, Ron watched Percy’s display. Ron exchanged a glance with Ginny, nodded towards Percy, and rolled his eyes. Ginny covered her mouth with her hand so that Percy wouldn’t notice her giggling.

A tiny squeak emanated from inside Ron’s shirt pocket. Ron looked down at Scabbers, who had poked his head out of the pocket, his whiskers twitching. Ron took a small crust of toast off of his plate to offer Scabbers, but the rat had already retreated to the bottom of his pocket.

“Suit yourself,” said Ron, putting the crust back on the plate. He stood up and walked over to the sink, setting his plate beside the other breakfast dishes.

Molly turned as she heard the plates clink together. “Oh, I forgot all about those,” she said, getting up from her chair. She took out her wand and pointed it at the sink. The plates were soon submerged in warm, soapy water.

As Molly tucked her wand back into her pocket, Ron was reminded of the brand-new wand he would be buying in Diagon Alley. He had been looking forward to this day ever since he had found out that there would be enough money left from his father’s Ministry contest winnings for a wand even after their family trip to Egypt.

“Mum, can we get my new wand first when we get to Diagon Alley?” Ron asked eagerly.

“Yes, dear,” said Molly, with a little annoyance in her voice. Ron knew his mother had grown tired of this question, but he wanted to be certain that his wand would not be lost in the commotion of school shopping for five children.

“What is taking them so long?” Molly asked herself, looking up at the ceiling once more. She strode down the passageway, stopping at the foot of the stairs. “Fred! George! We’re leaving now!”

A muffled voice floated down from a few floors above. “Why don’t you go along without us, Mum? We’ll catch up with you. We’re just looking for our…cloaks. Yes, that’s it, our cloaks.”

The lack of noise from upstairs caught Ron’s attention. He knew he would hear the creaky floorboards if the twins were searching their room. Thinking back, Ron was almost sure that he had seen Fred and George stuff their cloaks into their trunks the day before. He suspected that they were trying to get left behind so that they could travel to Knockturn Alley instead, which they had always wanted to visit.

“Get down here now!” Exclaimed Molly, who had obviously come to the same conclusion.

Fred and George had obviously noticed their mother’s ominous tone because they hurried down to the kitchen, their loaded trunks banging on each stair. When they arrived, they found Molly waiting for them with her hands on her hips.

“First of all, it’s too warm for cloaks,” she said sternly. “Second, they’re in your trunks, along with anything else you think you might have misplaced. Third, do you honestly think I would leave without you, giving you a golden opportunity to take the Floo to Knockturn Alley?”

“We weren’t planning on going to Knockturn Alley,” said Fred, trying to sound as though the thought had never occurred to him.

Percy scoffed and the twins turned to glared at him.

Percy’s gleaming badge caught George’s eye. “Percy, if you polish that thing any more you’ll blind someone with the glare.”

“Say what you will, George,” said Percy nonchalantly. “But as Head Boy, I must present the proper image at all times.”

“Do those times include when you’re drooling over Penelope Clearwater’s picture?” Fred asked, a knowing grin on his face.

Percy’s haughty expression disappeared and his ears flushed pink. His embarrassment rendered him speechless. Molly put her hands up in the air.

“That’s enough! We need to leave; we’ve wasted enough time. Percy, you can go first,” said Molly in a weary voice, pointing to the flowerpot full of Floo powder sitting on the kitchen table.

“Mother, I can keep an eye on things until you arrive,” offered Percy, with a vengeful look at Fred and George. “I’ll make sure that there isn’t any mischief,” he added, as though there could be nothing worse.

Fred and George bristled, but said nothing.

“Thank you, Percy. At least you can act your age,” replied Molly.

Percy smirked at Fred and George and adjusted his badge. “You two should get used to being under my watch. Once we get to Hogwarts, I’ll be Head Boy and you’ll have to obey my orders.”

“Really, Percy?” George asked, in a tone of mock surprise. “Are you sure you won’t be Head Boy until we get to school?”

“Yeah,” Fred chimed in. “The way you behave, I just assumed you had been crowned at birth.”

As though he had not heard a word Fred and George had said, Percy grasped a handful of Floo powder from the flowerpot and tossed it into the fire. He took his trunk from its spot on the floor beside Ron’s and Ginny’s and dragged it behind him into the roaring green flames.

“Leaky Cauldron,” he said clearly.

“George, you next,” said Molly warningly.

George hauled his own trunk across the kitchen and took some powder. He seemed conflicted as he looked down at the powder slowly sifting through his fingers, as though he was still considering going to Knockturn Alley. He looked back over his shoulder and saw Fred’s encouraging face, but quickly changed his mind once he noticed his mother’s reproachful expression.

“Leaky Cauldron,” said George flatly. Fred, Ginny, and their belongings quickly followed him.

Standing before the fireplace, Ron felt queasy at the thought of whipping around the Floo Network so soon after breakfast.

“Don’t you go getting any ideas from those two. Go straight to the Leaky Cauldron,” said Molly, mistaking Ron’s hesitation for indecision.

Unwilling to provoke her any further, Ron hastily threw the powder into the fire and stepped inside. “Leaky Cauldron!” He exclaimed.

The Burrow suddenly vanished, and Ron winced as his trunk banged repeatedly into his knees. Once he arrived, he got out of the fireplace and began dusting the soot off his clothes. While Ginny dusted herself off, Percy and the twins continued scowling at each other.

A moment later, Molly appeared in the bar. “Wait here,” she instructed them, and then walked a short distance to the bar.

“Hello,” she said to Tom the bartender, who was stacking clean glasses on the bar. “I’m Molly Weasley, I reserved four rooms for my family.”

“Oh, yes,” said Tom. He glimpsed the Weasley children, who outnumbered the patrons in the pub at that early hour. “It looks like you’ve got your hands full,” he added, with a toothless smile.

“I certainly do,” said Molly, with a tired laugh. Tom took four keys from his apron pocket and handed them to Molly.

“Come on, you lot,” said Molly, waving them over and shepherding them to their rooms.

In the upstairs hallway, she handed one of the keys to Percy. “Percy, you and Ron will share a room,” she said, which caused Ron to groan with disappointment. She then handed a key to Ginny and one to Fred.

“You two will take the room next to mine so I can keep an eye on you,” said Molly to the twins.

“Sounds great, Mum,” said George, with a strained smile.

They scattered to their rooms to drop off their trunks before leaving for Diagon Alley. Ron opened his trunk, took out his Hogwarts book list, and stuffed it into his pocket. Ron saw Percy take a picture frame from his trunk and place it on the bedside table. Penelope Clearwater smiled shyly at Percy from her photograph. Ron pulled a face and decided to escape back into the hallway.

As Ron left the room, he narrowly missed Hermione as she bounded down the hallway, dragging her trunk behind her. “Hi Ron! Mum and Dad just dropped me off.”

“Great! We’re staying here too. How was your summer?” Ron asked with a smile.

“It was excellent,” said Hermione. “France was beautiful and I found some fascinating books on French witchcraft. I had already done my History of Magic essay but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to include some of what I had read about. You must have found out some amazing things in Egypt for your essay. I’d love to go there someday.”

“Oh, yeah, my essay,” said Ron vaguely. He had forgotten the assignment and quickly tried to think of something that would get Hermione off the subject of essays. “So, have you bought your new stuff for school yet?”

“No, have you?” Hermione asked.

“Nope, that’s what we’re doing today. Why don’t you come with us?” Ron offered.

“All right, I just have to put my trunk down,” said Hermione, looking around the hallway.

“You can put it in my room for now,” said Ron, pointing to the door behind him. Hermione lugged her trunk inside. Ron heard Hermione and Percy saying hello to each other.

“Ron, is that Penelope Clearwater in Percy’s picture?” Hermione whispered once she had left the room.

“Yeah,” said Ron, looking sickened. “She’s his girlfriend. Can you believe it? I don’t know how she can stand listening to him talk about being Head Boy all the time.”

“Well, I think it’s sweet,” Hermione countered.

“It’s bad enough that I have to share a room with him. Let’s talk about something else. Hey, while we’re here we can try to find Harry. He’s staying here too,” said Ron.

“He is? Did his aunt and uncle drop him off early?” Hermione asked, puzzled.

“I overheard Dad telling Mum that he blew up his aunt! I reckon he ran away after it happened and came here,” said Ron with a mixture of amazement and amusement.

“She exploded?” Hermione asked, her eyes wide.

“Not really, she sort of expanded,” said Ron, laughing as he pictured Harry’s aunt looking like a huge Quaffle. “The Accidental Magical Reversal Department had to deflate her and modify her memory.”

“Ron,” said Hermione reproachfully. “This isn’t funny at all.”

“Sure it is. I can’t wait to ask Harry how he did it,” said Ron, his face red from laughing.

“This is really serious,” said Hermione, pacing the hallway. “Not only did Harry do magic outside of school, his aunt could have been hurt. Even if it was an accident, Harry could get in real trouble with the Ministry.”

“Yeah, right,” said Ron, with a casual wave of his hand. “This is Harry we’re talking about.”

Molly came back into the hallway and spotted Ron and Hermione. “Hello, Hermione,” she said warmly.

“Hi, Mrs. Weasley,” said Hermione, smiling.

“Ron, why don’t you and Hermione do your shopping together? I’ll take Ginny and your brothers with me. We can meet here when we’re finished. Your father will be here later.”

“Sure, Mum. But I don’t have any money and I wanted to get my wand today,” said Ron in an anxious voice.

“Hold out your hands,” said Molly. From her pocket, she removed a handful of Sickles and Knuts and poured them into Ron’s open hands. Ron’s hopes for a new wand faded as he dropped the coins into his left pocket. He knew there would not be enough for both his books and the wand.

“One more thing,” she said, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. From another pocket, she took out seven gold Galleons.

“Be very careful with these,” she urged him. “It’s the last of the gold your father won at the Ministry. It should be just enough for your wand.” She placed the gold coins in Ron’s open hand, closed his fingers over them, and gently patted his hand.

The Galleons felt cool and heavy in Ron’s hand. He could see the shiny edge of one coin poking out from between his fingers. He felt strange, as though the hand holding the gold belonged to someone else. He slid the gold into his empty right pocket. “Thanks, Mum,” he said quietly.

One by one, the remaining Weasleys emerged from their rooms into the hallway. Hermione and Ginny smiled and waved to each other. They chatted cheerfully about their summer vacations.

Percy strode over to Molly. “Mother, would it be all right if I joined you later? I have some correspondence that needs my attention.”

Fred and George snorted with laughter.

“What is so amusing about that?” Percy asked, fixing Fred and George with a stern glare.

“Correspondence!” Fred exclaimed. “Is that what they’re calling love letters now?”

“Oh, Percy,” said George in a high, girlish voice. He took Fred’s hand and batted his eyelashes at him. “You write the most wonderful correspondence. It makes me positively quiver!”

“Penelope,” said Fred in a very deep tone, “I care for you, but the truth is that I’m in love with my Head Boy badge.”

Percy’s ears flushed once again. “Stop it!” Molly said. “Of course, you can meet us later, Percy. I think that’s best since it’s obvious the two of you can’t behave yourselves,” she added to Fred and George, who were laughing so hard that they had to lean on each other.

“Come on, let’s get going before Mum explodes,” Ron said quietly to Hermione. They walked downstairs and over to Tom the bartender. “We’re looking for Harry Potter. Do you know if he’s still here?” Ron asked.

“He went to Diagon Alley a little while ago,” replied Tom. Ron thanked him and they went out into the backyard. They squinted in the bright sunlight; it had been dark and cool in the Leaky Cauldron. At first, the warmth of the sun felt pleasant but they quickly became hot.

“I guess I’ll be doing this,” said Hermione, tapping the third brick from the left with her wand. “So, you’re getting a new wand today?”

“Yeah, and not another used one either,” said Ron excitedly. “This is the perfect time to get it. If Dad hadn’t won that contest, we never would have been able to afford a new one. Let’s stop at Ollivanders first.”

Hermione frowned. “Oh, it’s so hot out. And Ollivanders is at the other end of Diagon Alley. Flourish and Blotts is close by, why don’t we look for Harry in there? Maybe he’s buying his books.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that would be his first stop,” Ron said under his breath as Hermione walked away.

They wove their way through the crowd until they came to Flourish and Blotts. Their attention was immediately drawn to the vicious book display in the front window. “Bloody hell,” said Ron. “Are those supposed to be books?”

“Yes,” gulped Hermione. “According to our list, they’re our books for Care of Magical Creatures.”

Inside the shop, they split up and searched for Harry. Unsuccessful, they met up at the counter and decided to buy their own books. They approached the assistant with their lists.

The Monster Book of Monsters,” said the assistant weakly, reading Hermione’s list.

“Actually, we need two,” said Ron, pointing to his own list. Ron thought the man looked as though he could cry. “I’ll take used copies if you have them,” Ron added in a slightly embarrassed voice.

The assistant dashed all over the store, piling their books on the counter. Hermione’s stack quickly dwarfed Ron’s.

“What are you planning on doing with all of those?” Ron asked incredulously, pointing to her books.

“Some people want to learn, Ron,” replied Hermione in an irritated tone.

Ron and Hermione watched from across the room as the assistant cautiously approached the window display with a stick in hand. After a brief struggle, he returned with the books, which he had bound shut with string.

“Do not take that string off until you’re ready for a fight,” the man warned breathlessly.

They headed to the counter to pay for their books. Ron examined his copy of The Monster Book of Monsters; it looked as though it had been on the losing end of a few battles. All of his other books had tattered covers and bindings cracked in a dozen places. He noticed the crisp, white pages of Hermione’s books as he handed most of his Sickles and Knuts to the assistant. Ron knew that Hermione had seen him comparing their books by the sheepish way she put several Galleons on the counter. He could feel his ears turning pink but quickly turned his thoughts to his new wand. He patted the Galleons in his pocket, and his embarrassment faded away.

Laden with bags, they left Flourish and Blotts and looked up and down the road. “Let’s check Quality Quidditch Supplies next,” Ron suggested.

Hermione groaned with expected boredom.

“Oh, come on. Harry loves Quidditch, of course he’d stop there,” Ron rationalized.

“All right,” said Hermione, resigned.

Ron beat a path to the store, Hermione trailing behind him. Ron could barely open the door; the shop was so full of people it seemed as though it would burst. They worked their way through the crowd until they got close to the center of the room. Standing on his tiptoes, Ron tried to see the broom that was the object of so much attention. He gaped at the Firebolt, amazed that they had managed to improve upon the excellent Nimbus Two-Thousand.

“Wow, a Firebolt,” he whispered in an astonished voice. He read the card beside the broom with interest, particularly the last line. “Price on request,” he repeated to himself. He could only imagine how much it cost. Harry was the only person he knew who could possibly afford one. He thought of his sluggish Shooting Star, and then imagined himself soaring through the sky on the Firebolt, the wind slapping his face.

Hermione nudged Ron’s arm. “Do you see Harry?” she asked, looking around.

Ron scanned the crowd. “Nope. But I’m sure he’s been here. He’d definitely want to see that broom.” They struggled through the crowd a second time on their way out.

“Why don’t we try Madame Malkin’s next? Maybe Harry needed new robes,” said Hermione, shielding her eyes from the sun. The heat slowed them down as they crossed the street to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.

Once inside, Hermione noticed Madame Malkin. “I’ll go ask her if she’s seen Harry,” she said.

Ron spotted a small boy getting measured for new robes at the back of the shop. The boy held his arms out to the side, his sleeves falling perfectly at his wrists. He gazed in the mirror and smiled, as though he had never seen himself look so fine.

Ron had never stood on a stool in this shop to be measured for new robes. He walked along an aisle full of fabric, grazing the jet-black robe material with his fingertips. He thought of his worn, gray robes and could not believe they had ever been black. He was reminded of the summer before his first year at Hogwarts.

**********

Ron stood on one of the kitchen chairs in the Burrow while his mother hemmed Bill’s old robes to fit him. He poked his finger through a hole in the side. “Mum, you forgot to mend this hole.”

“No, dear. I tried, but it wouldn’t take. The fabric is too frayed,” said Molly. She gently pushed Ron’s hand away. “Leave that alone. You’ll only make the hole bigger.”

“Aren’t Hogwarts robes supposed to be black? These are gray.” Ron observed.

“They’re just a little faded. They’re perfectly fine,” replied Molly, with a hint of embarrassment in her voice. “Besides, you’re growing so fast. You’ll need different robes next year, so there’s no sense in buying new ones now.”

Flustered, she began to hem the robes again. She stood back to check the length and realized that they were too short.

“Mum, these are too short. I can see my trainers,” Ron protested, looking down at his feet.

Fred and George ambled into the kitchen and looked Ron up and down. “Those robes are a bit short. Even for you, ickle Ronnie,” said Fred.

“I have a suggestion for how to make you look better, Ron,” said George helpfully.

“Really? How?” Ron asked.

George walked over and pulled the hood of the robes over Ron’s head. “There, much better,” George added.

Ron could see the twins laughing through the thin fabric covering his eyes. “At least I’ll have my own wand,” said Ron, pushing the hood back.

Embarrassed, Molly busied herself by tidying up the kitchen table. “Actually, you’ll be using Charlie’s old wand.”

Though he was disappointed, Ron kept his feelings to himself.

**********

“Madame Malkin said Harry was here last week,” said Hermione, who had reappeared by Ron’s side.

Ron patted the gold in his pocket to make sure it was still there. “Okay, let’s go to Ollivanders,” he said.

As they walked along, they were suddenly bumped from behind. They turned around and saw Fred and George.

“You two should watch where you’re going,” said Fred.

“Hey, you walked into us. Where are Mum and Ginny? Aren’t you supposed to be with them?” Ron wondered.

“We’ve taken a little detour,” said George. “Mum won’t even notice that we’re gone.”

“You’re going to Knockturn Alley, aren’t you?” Ron asked, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

“As a matter of fact, we are,” said Fred.

“A little scouting mission for research purposes,” continued George. “We’d like to see how the other half lives.”

Over George’s shoulder, Ron saw his mother storming down the street, practically dragging Ginny behind her with Percy following them. Fred and George were grinning, pleased with their plan and blissfully ignorant of what was coming. They suddenly noticed the odd look on Ron’s face and realized what it meant a moment too late.

Fred! George!” Molly called furiously.

Fred and George’s faces turned white with panic. Ron could almost see the wheels turning inside their heads as they tried to think of an excuse for their disappearance. Fred and George wheeled around to face their mother.

“Mum!” George exclaimed, as though he was surprised to see her. “We’ve been looking all over for you. We got separated.”

“And you thought you’d find me in Knockturn Alley? Did you honestly think you could disappear for a little field trip and I wouldn’t catch on?” Molly shouted.

Ron could tell the twins were desperately trying to come up with another explanation. “We wanted to go to Gambol and Japes,” said Fred quickly. “You know, the joke shop. We didn’t think you’d find it very interesting, so we thought we’d save you the trip.”

“How thoughtful of you,” said Molly, who had clearly not believed a word they had said. “So, where are your bags?”

Fred and George looked at each other helplessly, but they had no recourse. Percy looked smug, his badge glimmering in the sunshine.

“I don’t want to hear anymore from the two of you today,” said Molly. “Do you have any idea how I felt when I turned around and you were gone? I cannot believe how foolish you were, especially with Sirius Black on the loose,” she continued in a quavering voice.

“Sorry, Mum,” said Fred remorsefully.

“Yeah, we’re sorry,” agreed George.

Molly composed herself and turned to Ron and Hermione. “Have you found Harry yet?” She asked them.

“Not yet, Mum,” said Ron.

“Let’s go, we need to finish our shopping,” said Molly curtly to Fred and George. The twins sullenly led the rest of the group down the street.

“Blimey,” said Ron. “I’m glad I’m not Fred and George right now. I don’t want to see Knockturn Alley enough to go through that.”

They continued walking along Diagon Alley. Ron waited impatiently as Hermione stopped to shift her heavy bags to her other arm. As they entered Ollivanders, they heard a bell jingle over their heads. While Hermione closed the door, Ron walked further inside. “Hello?” He called in a loud voice.

“Hello,” replied Ollivander, who startled Ron by emerging from around a corner. Ollivander noticed Hermione and smiled at her. “Vine wood and dragon heartstring. How is it working for you, Miss Granger?”

“It’s excellent, thank you,” said Hermione, smiling.

“Wonderful,” replied Ollivander. “Well, Mr. Weasley,” he said, turning to Ron, who was surprised that Ollivander knew his name. “I remember your parents and your brothers, but this is the first time I’ve met you. You must be old enough for Hogwarts. What have you been using for a wand?”

Ron cast his eyes around the shop, trying to think of a way to avoid admitting that his wand had been secondhand.

“Er, no. You haven’t sold me a wand. Not yet, anyways,” said Ron with a nervous smile. “I was using my brother Charlie’s old wand.”

“Oh, yes. Ash, twelve inches, unicorn hair. Good for Charms. Did something happen to that wand?” Ollivander asked.

Ron felt suddenly embarrassed that he had broken his wand while trying to stop a flying Muggle car from hitting the Whomping Willow. He glanced quickly over his shoulder at Hermione, who was sitting in a chair by the window. She had one of her new books open in her lap but she was watching Ron, curious to hear his explanation.

“Well, it sort of…broke,” said Ron, turning back to Ollivander. “There was an accident.” Ron could feel Hermione’s disapproving look even though he could not see her face.

“It’s a good thing you’ve come today,” said Ollivander happily. Ron was relieved that Ollivander did not ask any more questions about his broken wand. “A wizard is at his best when using his own wand. The wand picks its owner, you know.”

“Yeah,” said Ron. He pondered this for a moment. He wondered if having his own wand would make him a better wizard, maybe even as good as Bill or Charlie.

Ollivander’s tape measure suddenly began whizzing around Ron. Ron’s eyes darted around as he followed its progress. After the measurements were finished, Ollivander glanced around the shop, and then hurried off to a shelf in the back. A few moments later, he returned and presented Ron with a long box.

“Mahogany, twelve inches, dragon heartstring,” said Ollivander, removing the top of the box.

Ron took the wand out of the box and swished it through the air. An odd squawking noise filled the room.

“No,” said Ollivander quickly. He took the wand from Ron’s hand and pulled another box from a large pile. “Beech, fourteen inches, phoenix tail feather,” he said, handing Ron the wand.

Ron aimed this one at an empty wand box. It hovered a few inches in the air before it flopped back down.

“Better, but not quite. I think I know just the one,” said Ollivander, excitedly scampering off to the back of the shop. He was gone long enough for Ron to wonder if Ollivander had forgotten that he was there.

But then Ollivander returned, and presented Ron with a very dusty box. “Willow, fourteen inches, unicorn hair,” he proclaimed confidently.

Ron took it, waved it, and watched as a golden orb emerged from the tip of the wand and floated to the ceiling.

“Yes, that’s it!” Ollivander cried, clapping his hands. “The magical core of your wand was very important, Mr. Weasley. I’m sure it will work well for you.”

“Thanks,” said Ron happily. “How much do I owe you?”

“Seven Galleons,” said Ollivander.

Ron reached into his pocket for the gold. He closed his fist around it, but was reluctant to take it out. He felt certain that it would be a very long time before he saw this much gold again. He examined the wand, thrilled that it had picked him. He could see every grain in the polished wood. For the first time, he had something that was truly his own. He smiled to himself, thinking about how this wand had waited for him, passing over all of his brothers. Ron carefully placed his wand back in its box, wiping off his fingerprints with his sleeve. He could not remember ever receiving anything in its original box. He handed Ollivander seven Galleons, still looking at the wand box.

Ron tucked the wand box into his bag and walked over to Hermione. She collected her three bulky bags and walked through the shop door while Ron held it open. As soon as they stepped outside, a hot breeze blew across their faces. They slowly made their way back to the Leaky Cauldron. Hermione groaned from the weight of the bags and tried to flex her tired fingers. Ron gazed at Florean Fortesque’s Ice Cream Parlor.

“It’s blazing out here,” said Ron. “How about an ice cream? My treat.” Ron jingled the remaining money in his pocket.

“We should keep looking for Harry,” said Hermione in a tired voice. “But it would be nice to get out of the sun and put these bags down. I don’t hear you offering to help me carry them.”

“If you don’t like carrying heavy bags you shouldn’t have bought so many books. Besides, Harry can take care of himself. He could find us before we find him,” said Ron.

Mollified, Hermione followed Ron across the crowded street to Florean Fortesque’s. They took a table under a large green and blue umbrella.

Ron ordered a chocolate sundae. Hermione shook her head when it came time for her to order. “There’s so much sugar in ice cream,” she argued.

“Oh, come on. I’m buying. Your Mum and Dad won’t see you eat it,” said Ron.

Hermione shook her head again and opened her Ancient Runes book. Ron’s ice cream arrived a few minutes later, and he ate it as though it was the best thing he had ever tasted. Hermione’s book was still open, but she hadn’t turned the page for several minutes.

“You’re missing out, Hermione,” said Ron, through a mouthful of whipped cream. He looked up at her just in time to see her staring at his sundae.

“Oh, all right,” she said. Ron grinned and called for another sundae.

“Thanks, Ron,” said Hermione, smiling.

“You’re welcome,” said Ron. He placed the wand box on top of his bag. He couldn’t wait to show it to Harry. It was meant for him, and it was brand-new.

//
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