The Sugar Quill
Author: Issy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Coffee  Chapter: Chapter One: Cappuccino
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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.

Chapter One - Cappucinno

Disclaimer: I don't own one hair on Harry Potter's head. Or any other character in the series. It all belongs to JK Rowling. Likewise, The Cynic’s Dictionary and the website I-cynic dot com belong to Rick Bayan (source of the definitions for flirting, celibacy, taboo, foundation grants, poetry and power) and The Devil’s Dictionary belongs to Ambrose Bierce (source of the definitions for saint, jealousy, logic and snogging.) I am also proud not to own a rabbit that plays the banjo, as I am sure it would be a nuisance.

A/N: A big thank you to my SQ beta reader, Igenlode Wordsmith!

 

 

Chapter One - Cappuccino

 

Flirting: Wiggling one’s toe in the pool while fantasizing about a swim in the deep end. In the contemporary workplace, likely grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit.

 

“If that girl looks at you one more time,” I grated, “I’ll have her guts for garters.”

 

Edmund quirked an eyebrow at me, grinning (the Actual Edmund grin, of course, not the Ravenclaw grin. The Ravenclaw grin is reserved for Professor Flitwick and all those that think Edmund is some form of saint - though why they think Edmund is a dead sinner revised and edited is beyond me). “Jealous, darling?”

 

“Bierce says that you can only be jealous if you are unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.”

 

He sighed. “Giving you The Devil’s Dictionary was the worst mistake I ever made, Sylvia.”

 

“No. Giving me a clarinet would have been the worst mistake you ever made, because then I would have had to force you, as my boyfriend, to listen to me play.” I sipped my coffee and grinned right back at him.

 

“And then I would have had to become celibate.” He clasped one hand to his chest and gave a pathetic sigh.

 

“I’m sure you would have enjoyed a respite from the pleasures and perils of romantic congress, even if it did mean adopting a way of life traditionally practiced by Catholic priests, monks, Shakers, stamp collectors, overly zealous careerists, Transfiguration Today fans, hermits and amoebas,” I quipped.

 

“You didn’t answer my question,” he countered. “Are you jealous?”

 

I glanced venomously at the girl in question, who was now flicking her hair invitingly at Edmund. She was a Gryffindor and I was pretty sure she was a fourth-year, but I couldn’t remember her name. She was sitting at a table with a sandy haired boy I thought was called Seamus Finnigan, but she wasn’t paying any attention to him. Instead, she was mooning at Edmund. My Edmund.

 

“Yes,” I answered bitterly, staring into my cup of coffee - which was now littered with pink confetti thanks to Madam Puddifoot’s oh-so-adorable cherubs. Seriously, I love them. The blood pouring down my chin? No, I didn’t bite my tongue. Not at all. Whatever would make you think I don’t like Madam Puddifoot’s oh-so-adorable cherubs?

 

I think you know how much I hate Christmas. Multiply that by seven hundred and five and you will have an approximate total as to how much I hate Valentine’s Day.

 

Edmund reached across the table and took my hand, his eyes dancing with laughter. “Sylvia, Sylvia, Sylvia,” he said. “What am I going to do with you?”

 

“Take me away from all this pink and these stupid staring silly bints,” I grumbled, tossing back my coffee and choking on the confetti.

 

Edmund slapped me on the back and handed me a glass of water after he fished out the rose petals floating on the top. “She’s only looking, you know, and that‘s not taboo,” he told me reasonably. “It’s not like she’s served pork rinds at a Hasidic wedding or answered the question ‘how are you?’ in the negative.”

 

“I know,” I replied, sipping the water slowly. “It’s just… I’m envious, that’s all.”

 

Edmund took some Galleons out of his pocket and put them on the table. “You’re not envious,” he told me, smiling. “Envy is the meanest form of emulation. Anyway, you have nothing to be envious of. You’re my girlfriend, Sylvia, not -” he glanced over his shoulder, “- Lavender Brown. Come on, let’s go.”

 

“If she persists in staring at you,” I asked hopefully, “can I Transfigure her? Please?”

 

Edmund chuckled. “Perhaps you’d better wait until you begin illicit experiments with genetic engineering,” he said, putting his arm around me and steering me out of the horrid pink-and-cherub-ness of Madam Puddifoot’s.

 

“But I might develop a miracle counter spell for the Killing curse!”

 

“You also might develop a rabbit that plays the banjo. Or worse, the clarinet.”

 

 

*

 

 

“Has Cedric got any ideas yet on what they’re going to nick for the Second Task?” Edmund asked me as we tramped back up to the school.

 

I sighed. “No. He’s been sitting in the common room staring alternately at the fire and that bloody egg for days. Nearly everyone in Hufflepuff knows the words of that bloody poem now.”

 

“I don’t know how he expects to work it out,” Edmund said. “Aside from the obvious bits, the whole thing seems to make as much sense as a foundation grant. Bourgeois beneficence that enables unmarketable artists to continue expressing their contempt for bourgeois values.”

 

I laughed. “And what a wonderful cycle it is.”

 

“So what were the words of the poem?” Edmund asked.

 

Ah, poetry. A form of expression peculiar to the Land Beyond The Magazines.

 

 

“Come seek us where our voices sound,

 

“We cannot sing above the ground,

 

“And while you’re searching, ponder this:

 

“We’ve taken what you’ll sorely miss,

 

“An hour long you’ll have to look,

 

“And to recover what we took,

 

“But past an hour - the prospect’s black

 

“Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back,” I quoted.

 

 

“Well, let’s try it logically,” he said. “Underwater, yes?”

 

“Check.”

 

“Nicking stuff, yes?”

 

“Check.”

 

“An hour to find it, yes?”

 

“Check.”

 

“Don’t find it in an hour, it’s not coming back, yes?”

 

“Check.”

 

“You know what this proves?”

 

“Not very much?”

 

“Well it proves that logic really is the art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding, but ‘not very much’ works for me.”

 

I grinned, tightening my arm round his waist. “Hurrah for the cool Ravenclaw intellect,” I said softly.

 

“Hurrah indeed,” he replied, grinning, as he pulled me into the hedge for some kind of rite or ceremony appertaining to a good understanding. Or snogging. I can rarely differentiate.

 

 

*

 

 

I am a student of Arithmancy, and as such, am familiar with many difficult concepts. For example, magic = teaching x talent (luck + force)², or Snape » [git³ - redemption (Dumbledore x squeamishness)] ¸ Slytherin, where Slytherin is equal to pure-blood (½ambition + ¼cunning). However, the equation that could be applied to the evening of February 14, 1995, was very simple.

 

My twin + Edmund’s twin = snogging.

 

That’s right. Walking back up to the Hufflepuff common room that night (sans Edmund), I ran across Sabina and Archie standing in a niche in the wall. Snogging.

 

This = disturbing.

 

Even more disturbing than Laboratory/Lavatory/Lav-whatever-her-name-is Brown making moogly eyes at Edmund, which is saying something.

 

Being a prefect, I have broken up many a snogging couple in my day. Although it would be very funny to burst in on them, yell, ‘you’re nicked!’ or something similar and clap them in irons, the usual method is to cough politely, take house points and then send them on their merry way (pretending you don’t know they’ll just find another place to engage in their nefarious activities.)

 

However, it is slightly more difficult to be professional and objective when said snoggers are your sister and your boyfriend’s brother. This situation = embarrassing. In fact, this situation = embarrassing².

 

Yet there is an upside, due to the fact that power = ability to make fellow humans squirm, sweat and stammer on demand. This = good, which means power = good (QED) - and who am I to pass up a good thing?

 

“Sabina!”

 

Excellent. Now Sabina = red.

 

“Sylvia - I - please -”

 

Merlin tap dancing naked on top of Ben Nevis.

 

My jaw dropped. “Sabina, how could you?”

 

Without a doubt, that line = corny. However, at that point, Sylvia = shocked.

 

Sabina hadn’t been snogging Archie at all. She was snogging Kenneth Towler.

 

If Sabina + Archie = disturbing, Sabina + Kenneth Towler = disturbing³. Not to mention Sabina + Kenneth Towler = Archie x broken heart.

 

Sabina wasn’t red any more. She had gone white as a sheet. “Sylvia…”

 

“Does Archie know?” I demanded.

 

Sabina looked down. “Well…”

 

“He doesn’t,” I said flatly.

 

“Not as such.”

 

“So you went and snogged Bulbadox Boy here without even hinting to Archie that you were getting sick of the relationship?”

 

“Hey!” Kenneth objected.

 

“Shut up, Towler,” I snapped.

 

“You shouldn’t talk to him like that!” Sabina said indignantly.

 

“Well, you shouldn’t treat Archie like that! He’ll be broken-hearted when he finds out!”

 

“He’s not going to find out!”

 

I stared. Sylvia = shocked x disgusted.

 

“He’s not going to find out,” Sabina repeated.

 

“If you think for one minute I’ll let you do that to Archie,” I said, “at the risk of sounding like Mum, you’ve got another think coming.”

 

Sabina went even whiter. “You can’t tell him, Sylvia! He’ll be so angry!”

 

“Well, you should have bloody thought about that before you went and snogged Bulbadox Boy!”

 

“Hey!” Kenneth interjected again.

 

“Shut up, Towler! Archie’s a good bloke, Sabina, and I won’t let you go round cheating on him!”

 

“You can’t tell him! He’ll hate me!”

 

“You’re the Ravenclaw,” I shot back. “Maybe you should have used that much vaunted intelligence of yours to consider the consequences before sneaking off behind Archie’s back!”

 

“Now hang on a minute -” Kenneth began.

 

“Stay out of this, Towler,” I snapped.

 

Kenneth’s lips were pursed so tightly he looked like a young male version of McGonagall with bad hair. “You wouldn’t care so much about this if I hadn’t asked you to the Yule Ball.”

 

I raised my eyebrows. That comment = ridiculous.

 

“If you hadn’t noticed, Towler, I happen to have a boyfriend. I am by no means pining after you.”

 

“Bet you wouldn’t care so much if you weren’t snogging Archie’s brother,” Sabina muttered under her breath.

 

“That’s stupid and you know it!” I took a deep breath and forced myself to come down. “Fact is, Sabina, that I’m a Hufflepuff, and I’m loyal. I’m not just going to turn my back on the fact that you’re stringing Archie along.”

 

“What happened to loyalty to your sister?” Sabina snapped back.

 

That comment = low blow.

 

“That doesn’t deserve a response,” I said. “Now look, are you going to tell Archie, or am I?”

 

Sabina sighed. “Look… I’ll tell him, I promise. Just give me some time, okay?”

 

“That’s open ended. ‘Some time’ could mean thirty or forty years.”

 

“Give me a month.”

 

I snorted. “I’ll give you three days.”

 

“Two weeks.”

 

“A week.”

 

“Ten days.”

 

“Done.”

 

“And… don’t tell Edmund.”

 

I stared incredulously. “Sabina, he’s my boyfriend! I tell him everything!” (Well, just about everything - I have not been able to bring myself to admit that I took ballet lessons for seven years.)

 

“You can’t tell him!” Sabina pleaded. “Archie is his brother! He’d tell him straight away!”

 

I sighed. “Fine. But if you haven’t told Archie by the 24th of February, I’ll spill the beans to both of them.”

 

Sabina let out a breath. “Thanks, Sylvia.”

 

“I’d say don’t mention it, but it would be a lie. Get out of my sight before I do mention it.”

 

I stood in the corridor for a long time after Sabina and Kenneth had hurried off. This entire situation = awkward. I felt like a combination of some horrendous character from Black Magic on WWN and a righteous little prig.

 

How could I have ever even contemplated the notion that power = good when it is obvious that power ® bloody awkward situations?

//
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