Disclaimer: I don't own the song or the Harry Potter characters, places
and situations. As we all know, Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling, Bloomsbury
Publishing Plc, Scholastic Books, and Warner Brothers.
I am in no way affiliated with any of the aforementioned.
Author's Note: All thanks to TQ, sister, whip cracker, muse motivator,
beta reader, and official historical consultant.
Happy Birthday, Sugar Quill!
"Sugar! Powdered sugar like indoor snow! Everywhere!"
Heavy, furious footsteps accompanied by a livid, laboured breathing stormed
through the corridors, making those students unfortunate enough to hear them
cringe in fear and those teachers with the same ill luck roll their eyes upwards
as if hoping for strength.
A new term had just begun at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and
the caretaker, Argus Filch, covered in a fine dust of sugar, was storming through
the ants' nest of corridors and up the multitudinous flights of stairs in a
worse temper than usual. He thundered through the first, second, third and fourth
floors, past the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, through the corridors leading
to the Hospital Wing, and finally came to a halt by a stone gargoyle.
"Sugar quills!" he snarled as if the word itself was a fatal curse
to be flung at whoever had caused his foul mood. The gargoyle leapt aside, almost
like it was afraid of some dreadful retaliation against anyone (or anything)
who stood in Filch's way, revealing a staircase winding yet further upwards.
Before the statue had even finished moving, Filch was thundering up the stairs
and slamming the door at the top of them.
Albus Dumbledore looked up from the copy of The London Times he was
engrossed in with an expression of mild puzzlement. He took in the appearance
of the caretaker, covered in sugar, and a flicker of what might have been amusement
passed across his face.
"My new list of banned items!" Filch flung a roll of parchment at
Dumbledore, who accepted it and unrolled it ceremoniously until it touched the
"My, my. The students have been busy." The older wizard scanned the
list. "But this is merely every piece of merchandising sold by Weasleys'
Wizard Wheezes. Except one." His eyes flickered back to the top of
the list. He gazed thoughtfully at it for a moment, then waved for Filch to
take a chair. Looking slightly taken aback, the caretaker did so.
"Why sugar quills, Argus?" The headmaster steepled his fingers and
peered at his employee over the top of his half-moon spectacles.
"Powdered sugar everywhere! Someone's been enchanting them to explode!"
Filch snarled. Dumbledore nodded sagely.
"Ah. That would explain your sudden - ah - sugared appearance."
Filch scowled. Dumbledore sat back in his chair and gazed at a portrait behind
Filch of none less than the Founders.
"I regret to tell you, Argus, that this cannot be done."
"What?" Filch said in a slightly sharper tone than was wise. Dumbledore
raised an eyebrow at him before continuing.
"There is an unwritten rule among the Headmasters of Hogwarts that never,
under any circumstances, shall sugar quills be banned at this school."
"Argus," Dumbledore fixed him with a piercingly blue stare. "The
beginnings of Hogwarts and sugar quills are unavoidably linked. Were it not
for sugar quills, this school," he waved an arm to indicate the castle
around him, "would not exist."
* * *
Caledonia in pre-Conquest times was a greatly different place to the Scotland
we know today. There were no Muggle cars, highways, electricity poles or telephone
lines. No young men with mobile phones wandered the streets. No trains criss-crossed
their way across the countryside. Even wizarding life was different.
Broomsticks were still in their infancy, and could not be used for any journey
of much length. Quidditch was unknown, there was no International Confederation
of Warlocks and no Ministry of Magic. Many of our kind lived in constant fear
of attacks by magic hating Muggles.
But perhaps the most significant change of all was that there was no Hogwarts.
And without the school, there was no hope for Muggle-borns unless they happened
to find an experienced witch or wizard willing to teach them the trade, but
such cases were very rare indeed.
But that was about to change.
* * *
"Rowena!" A sharp voice called over the fields to where a young woman
stood, leaning on her hoe while in front of her an ox toiled away, dragging
a heavy plough through the hard soil. The beast worked unaided, with some strange
force beyond what the eye could see seeming to guide it.
The woman wore a sack like, rough tunic, and held in one hand a thin stick
of wood. Her hair was of a gleaming bronze, and was braided away from her face
and around her head with simple elegance, except for where it escaped the restraints
in wispy waves and hung over her face. A pair of strikingly blue eyes stared
at the ox from within her tanned face, and she turned them towards the voice.
A man dressed similarly to her, his a tunic of bright red, was striding towards
her. His face told the tale of a lifetime spent toiling in the fields under
the harsh rule of the weather.
"When are you next planning on doing that 'Appalating' or whatever it
is you call it to London?" he called, skirting the area where the ox was
working, and marvelling at the way it could till the soil while she simply stood
by and watched.
"Why?" The woman's voice was sweet.
"We need some more of those spices you bought."
Rowena smiled. "I was planning on going some time soon. I shall leave
when I finish this row. I need some more pigments for inks to use on my spell
records, and to visit Gringotts to make a conversion."
The man nodded. "You do that, Rowena. We need all the extra income your
spell records provide. You give us so much help. How can we thank you?"
"You already know the answer," Rowena said gently. "You provide
me with a home. You are Muggles who do not seek to persecute me on religious
grounds. In return, I give you magical aid on the farm and pay a little extra
from my wizarding work. It's nothing."
But they both knew the contribution Rowena's help made to carrying the farm
through bad seasons and price fluctuations, so neither of them really needed
to say anything.
* * *
Diagon Alley was the one place in Caledonia or Angleland where members of the
magical community could meet and mingle, free from the threat of Muggle persecution.
Rowena visited it frequently, to exchange her wizarding money from her spell
records for tradable goods to pay her Muggle benefactors with, or to restock
her magical supplies.
She spent several happy hours that day wandering through and around the shops
in the small street, buying several small things she didn't really need. As
she exited the magical creatures shop about halfway down the alley, a sign painted
in bright colours caught her eye.
Brand New and Going Fast!
Sugar Spun Quills!
Get Them Before They're Gone!
Rowena felt a sudden urge for something sugary. Smiling in anticipation, she
wandered into the sweets shop, where a large pile of the sugar quills greeted
her as soon as she stepped through the door.
Rowena picked one up and twirled it between her fingers, then reached out to
gather some in order to purchase them. The Muggles she lived with would surely
enjoy them, as would she.
"Merlin's beard!" a quiet voice that screamed of coming from Gwynedd
said from behind her. It tolled faintly of recollection in her mind, and she
turned to face the speaker as the voice continued. "Not dear Rowena?"
The man behind her wore a wizard's robe of brightest crimson. He had olive
skin, a tangle of black hair, and piercing golden eyes like a hawk's. There
could be no mistaking that face, that voice, or those haunting eyes.
"Godric? Godric Gryffindor?"
"It must have been ten years, Ro," Godric said in a slightly dreamy
"Yes." She embraced him briefly. "What are you doing here?"
"In London, searching for some potions supplies. In this shop, buying
some sugar quills!" He winked at her, and held out a bundle of the sweets.
"Amazingly, so am I."
"Can I buy you a drink for the sake of nostalgia?"
"Certainly." She gave him a smile which shone from her tanned face,
making her eyes blaze and dance with a merry fire. Godric took her hand and
led her to the Leaky Cauldron.
* * *
"Myself," Godric told Rowena as they sat at a table in the tavern
with their drinks, and began telling of their lives since they had last met
ten years previously, "I have slain a silver dragon bred and used by one
of the old wizarding families. Feel lucky you don't live in the magical world,
Ro. They can be pests sometimes.
"I've also collaborated with a potions expert from the fens called Salazar
Slytherin. We began teaching some of the wizards from near my home how to deal
with Welsh Greens." He shook his head ruefully. "There should be somewhere
they can learn that."
Rowena sipped her drink. She placed it gently on the table and swirled the
mug, watching the pattern the cool liquid began to twist into.
"Well," she said in her clear, sweet voice, "I still work the
same farm with the Muggles. But I was kidnapped by Viking raiders a few years
ago. One of them was a woman around our age, a witch who had to learn her trade
on her own because of the religious views of their new leader after her parents
were killed in a raid. She had many of her own uniquely developed skills, and
was powerful indeed. I taught her to Apparate, and she has a rare skill with
"Her name is Helga Hufflepuff. One day, she will be a great witch. She's
a quick learner." Rowena sighed. "She also should have had somewhere
to learn the art."
"Somewhere to learn ..." Godric looked pensive. "Like a magic
school. Muggles have schools, why shouldn't we?"
Rowena sat in silent contemplation of the idea. A ray of stray sunlight falling
tin the window betrayed the hour as a late one, and reminded her or her errand
"It was brilliant speaking to you again, Godric," she beamed. And
grabbing her bundle of sugar quills as she left, she exited into Muggle London.
* * *
"And that, Argus, is why sugar quills may simply never be banned at Hogwarts.
Because Godric Gryffindor and Rowena Ravenclaw met again after ten years and
formed the idea for the school we are bound to buying sugar quills. Without
them, this place would not exist.
"That is how they met again. And the rest ..." He paused and gazed
almost dreamily at Argus over the top of his glasses, seeming to consider for
a moment what his next words would be. "Well, I won't say the rest is history,
for history can lie, and many choose to disbelieve it.
"But the rest is certainly legend."
* * *