The Sugar Quill
Author: DeeDee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Finding Lily  Chapter: Chapter Three
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.

      Part Three

            Ron turned pink and quickly stuffed Hermione’s letter into his pocket.  She thanked him!  Said she had no words for the books!  Invited him to her house!  He forced himself to remain calm—it was only Hermione, after all—and returned to his breakfast as if nothing had happened. 

            Fred and George, however, had seen everything and could not be so easily fooled.  “Who’s that letter from, Ron?” Fred asked.

            Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were too occupied with the Daily Prophet to stop the teasing, but Ron noticed the warning look that Ginny shot the twins.

            “Nobody,” said Ron, paying close attention to his toast as he buttered it.

            Before Fred or George could respond to this, Ginny said suddenly, “Bill, what time do you have to be back?”

            At the sound of his name, Bill jerked his head up.  He had never been a morning person, and was dangerously close to falling asleep.  “What’s that?” he said, massaging the back of his neck.

            Ginny opened her mouth to repeat the question, but shut it again when Mr. Weasley banged his coffee mug on the table in disgust.  “I knew he would deny it,” he muttered.

            “Now, Arthur . . .” Mrs. Weasley replied.  “No one can prove that he was there.”

            “Harry said so.  Don’t you believe Harry?”

            Mrs. Weasley raised the newspaper, and both of them lowered their voices.  Ron had grown accustomed to this behavior upon his return from Hogwarts.  He had no memory of the days before Voldemort attacked the Potters, but he was beginning to get a good idea.

            “We need to add that to our list of things to invent, George,” Fred continued, as if there had been no interruptions.  “The Official Weasley Letter From Nobody.  Think how many we’d sell!  ‘Fool your friends, dazzle your relatives . . .’”

            “Aw, leave him alone, Fred,” said George, though he couldn’t suppress a grin.  “Poor Ronniekins.”

            Ron decided right then to give each of the twins a Blast-Ended Skrewt for Christmas. 

            “Eleven,” mumbled Bill.

            “What’s that?” Mr. Weasley asked, turning to look at Bill.

            “I have to be back at eleven.”

            “Well, I know that, son.  Are you going to eat that bacon?”

            Ron cleared his throat.  “Dad?”

            “Mmmm?” his father replied, stealing Bill’s bacon.

            “I need to ask you and Mum if . . . if Ginny and I can go somewhere.”

            Mrs. Weasley lowered the newspaper.  “Could you be a bit more specific about where ‘somewhere’ is?”

            “Where Nobody lives,” Fred murmured, and both twins erupted into laughter.

            A big Blast-Ended Skrewt.  An adult.  Each.  “Erm.  One of my friends invited me to stay with her—him for the last week of summer.”

            “Herhim?” asked George, sending himself and Fred into another fit of laughter.

            “Honestly, you two,” Mrs. Weasley snapped.  She turned back to her youngest son.  “Ron, do your father and I know . . . him?”

            “Yes.”

            “Ah.  Why don’t we talk about this later?  Your father and I should discuss it first.”  She winked at him, and Ron knew why she had dropped the subject.   

            He left the table a few minutes later.  He wanted to bolt to his room, lock the door, and read Hermione’s letter again . . . maybe read all her letters . . . or maybe just read the best ones more than once.

            “I hope we can go to Hermione’s,” came a voice from behind him.

            Ron stopped in the hall and turned around to face Ginny.  “What do you mean?”

            “Oh, come off it!”  she laughed.  “You can be honest with me, Ron.  Of course that letter is from Hermione.”

            He shrugged.  “Yeah.”  The pattern on their carpet was interesting.  He had never noticed.

            “It would be fun, don’t you think?”

            “Maybe.”  It was very intricate, like millions of circles all twisted together.

            “Her parents seemed nice that day we met them.”

            “Yeah.”  Someone must have spent a lot of time on it.

            “What about Harry?” Ginny asked suddenly.

            “What do you mean?”  Oh.  No.  Did Hermione like Harry?  He didn’t care especially, but he’d appreciate it if his friends told him these things.  So he could be prepared.  It was simple courtesy.  The wallpaper in the hall had four different kinds of flowers on it.

            “Well, wasn’t Harry planning to come here?  He’ll be awfully disappointed if he has to stay with his aunt and uncle.”

            Oh.  “Hermione’s inviting him, too,” Ron replied.  A yellow flower, a red flower, a white flower, a purple flower.

            “That might not be a good idea.”

            “Why not?”he asked, finally meeting her eyes.

            “Does Dumbledore know about it?  I mean, it’s not really safe for Harry to be going wherever he chooses, is it?”

            “I don’t think Hermione would do anything against the rules,” said Ron.  Except steal stuff out of Snape’s office and brew forbidden potions over a toilet. 

            “She might not have really thought about it,” Ginny continued to muse. 

            “Hermione thinks of everything.”

**

            Hermione had stayed at home just in case Ron and Ginny arrived while her parents were gone.  Besides that, she was worried that the Dursleys might recognize her from the train station, and she didn’t want anything to ruin Harry’s chances of getting away.  She ran up to the attic to get the box of Lily’s things and carried it downstairs, then discovered that she had nothing left to do but wait.

            Fortunately, her friends didn’t keep her waiting long.  Some ash stirred in the fireplace, and Ginny stood there seconds later.  She came out to hug Hermione warmly, then brushed the soot off of her socks.  Seconds later, both girls backed away from the fireplace as something landed with a thud, sending small poofs of ash into the room.  Their coughing was quickly replaced with laughter when they realized that the “thud” had been Ron. 

            He groaned and crawled out, hitting his head with another groan as he did so.  “That’s a nice, crooked fireplace you’ve got there, Hermione,” he grumbled, rubbing his head.

            “It is not crooked!” she said defensively.  “Maybe you should learn how to use that stuff properly.”  Right then, Hermione thought of the chessmen and softened her expression.  She stepped closer to him and asked, “Are you all right, though?”

            “Yeah.”

            Their trunks tumbled down a minute later, and Hermione helped them carry their things to their rooms.  Ginny would be sharing Hermione’s bedroom, and Harry and Ron would be sleeping in the guest room.  One of the first things Ginny did when they were alone was to give Hermione the wooden box of Ron’s chessmen.  Hermione bit her trembling lip and put the box in her desk.

            When they had settled in and cleaned up, Hermione led them to the kitchen and gave them each a glass of chocolate milk. 

            “Well?” said Ron, gulping down everything in his glass.

            “Well what?” Hermione asked.

            “Are you going to show us that stuff that belonged to Harry’s mum, or what?”

            “Oh!” she exclaimed, laughing.  “I completely forgot!”  She ran to retrieve the box and set it down on the table.  She showed them the photograph of Lily holding the flower (“That does look a little like me when I was very little,” Ginny confessed), the locket, the letter from Mrs. Evans, and some of the more interesting books.  Both Ron and Ginny were amazed that young Lily had been able to put her voice inside the book of fairy tales.

            “Harry won’t know what to look at first,” Ginny sighed.  “I’m so happy for his sake.”

            “Me too,” Ron agreed.  “I like his grandmother.  Wonder whatever happened to her?  She must have died pretty young if she was already gone when Lily was killed.”

            “I’ve thought about that too,” said Hermione.  “Not to mention his grandfather.”

            “Harry Evans,” murmured Ron.

            Hermione gathered Lily’s things together again and put them back into the box.  “I better put this stuff away before Harry gets here,” she said.  “Should I give him everything tonight, do you think?”

            “Yes,” said Ron and Ginny together.

            When Hermione returned from the hall, she poured another glass of milk for Ron; Ginny had drunk only half of hers.  She sat down with them again, staring absently at the window.  She felt peaceful, safe, and content, sitting here in her house with her close friends.

            Ron was the first to break the comfortable silence.  “Don’t you think it’s strange that Lily never wrote to your mum?”  

            Hermione looked at Ron.  “She was only five or six, though.”

            “But she could write,” Ron insisted.  “At the very least, her mum could have written.”

            He had a point.  Hermione frowned and ran her finger around the rim of her glass.  “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that,” she confessed.  “It is rather odd, isn’t it?”

            “Maybe she did write,” Ginny suggested practically, “and your mum doesn’t have those letters anymore.”

            “And if they did write to each other,” Ron continued to muse, “when did they stop, and why?  It would have been neat if Lily wrote to your mum from Hogwarts.”

            “Very neat,” Hermione agreed, “but it won’t work.  When I got my Hogwarts letter, my parents were mystified.  They’d never heard of it.”

            The three lapsed once more into silence, but Hermione’s brain was now racked with questions.  Ron’s question was a good one.  Why hadn’t either Lily or Virginia written?  And if they had written, there was still the problem of when and why the letters stopped.  It must have been before Lily went to Hogwarts.

**

            Petunia Dursley whisked her feather duster over the shelf above the kitchen sink, humming to herself.  She kept her eye on a neighbor across the street; Annie Yates was burying something in her front yard.  Petunia stopped dusting and leaned closer to the window.  Right.  A sprinkler.  One could never be too careful, though.

            “Mummy, I want another bowl of ice cream.”

            She walked over to the table where little Dudley was sitting and reached for the bowl.

            “Mummy!  You’re standing in front of my favorite show!”

            “Sorry, Angel.”  She opened the freezer.  “What do you want this time?  Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cookie, or banana split?”

            “All of them.”

            She returned the bowl to Dudley a few minutes later, along with a short celery stick.  “Eat that too, Duddy.  You must try to stick to your diet.  Remember what—”

            There was a knock on the door.  She quickly looked out of the kitchen window again.  Annie wasn’t in her yard anymore.  Most peculiar.  She went to the door and opened it cautiously, revealing two strangers—a man and woman who seemed normal enough.  The woman was looking at her a little strangely, though.

            Petunia pulled back the chain lock and opened the door a little wider.  “Er, may I help you?”

            “Mrs. Dursley?” the man asked. 

            “Yes.”

            He extended his hand to her.  “I’m Henry Granger.  Pleasure to meet you.”

            She took the offered hand weakly and quickly let it go again.  “Er.”

            “And this is my wife, Mrs. Granger.”

            His wife nodded pleasantly and said, “Call me Rose.”

            “Er.”  Something wasn’t quite right.  She peered beyond them.  They had a nice car.  “Is there something you want?”

            The man smiled and put his hands in his pockets.  “Actually, we were hoping to get Harry.”

            Petunia’s eyes widened and her lips thinned.  “Who?”

            “Harry Potter does live here, doesn’t he?”

            “Oh, Harry,” Petunia said.  These normal-looking people wanted to see Harry?  Why?  Should she let them in her house?  She took another look at their car, which looked quite expensive.  She stood aside and managed to say, “Come in.”

            She led the couple to the living room.  “Lovely home you have here, Mrs. Dursley,” the woman said.

            Petunia stared at her.  She looked very familiar.  “Do you mind if I phone my husband?”

            “Not at all.  We’re in no hurry,” said the man who called himself Mr. Granger.

            Petunia went quickly to the hall and dialed Grunnings, tapping her fingers impatiently on the wall as she waited to be connected to Vernon.

            “ThanforcallGrunningVernonspeaking.”

            “Hullo, dear.  It’s me.  Erm, there are two people here who want to take Harry, and—”

            “Let them.” 

            There was a click.  “Vernon?”  Petunia shrugged and hung up the phone.  She went back to the living room and stood awkwardly in the doorway, staring at the couple.  “I suppose it’s all right if you take Harry,” she told them as casually as she could.

            “That’s wonderful,” said Mrs. Granger.  “Is he upstairs, Petunia?”

            Petunia started and narrowed her watchful eyes.  “How did you know my name?” she demanded.

            Mrs. Granger hesitated, then gave the most obvious answer.  “Harry told us.”

            Petunia wasn’t sure if she believed the woman, however normal she looked and whatever her car had cost.  Then she suddenly realized where she had seen the face.  It had aged a few decades, but she was sure that she was looking at Lily’s old mate.  “I know who you are,” she hissed.  “’Call me Rose’?  I should have known then.”

            Mrs. Granger smiled uncomfortably.  “Yes.  I was Lily’s friend.”

            Petunia couldn’t explain why she did it, but she left them without a word, stalked to her bedroom closet, and took something down from the highest shelf.  Then she marched back into the living room and slammed the bundle into Mrs. Granger’s hands.  “These are yours,” she snapped.

            Mrs. Granger stared down at a pile of letters held together with a blue rubber band.  She gasped.  “Wh—?  I don’t understand.”

            Petunia crossed her arms.  “It was my job to take care of the mail.”

            “You . . . you . . .” Mrs. Granger sputtered.  “Are these from Lily to me?”

            “Yes.  My mother wrote you some as well.”  Petunia smiled.  “They always wondered why you didn’t write back.”

            Mr. Granger put his arm around his wife’s shoulders.  “I think we better leave,” he said.  “Could you have Harry come down, please?”

            “Yes, take him,” Petunia shrugged.  “HARRY!” 

            There were a few thumps upstairs, followed by a voice.  “What is it?”

            “Pack your things.  You’re leaving now.”

            “Okay.”  The door shut again.  Petunia took a calming breath to suppress her rage.  Apparently, Harry was expecting these people.  But he didn’t see fit to notify his aunt and uncle, did he?

            Mrs. Granger said softly, “You should have given these to Harry long ago.”

            “As if food and a roof weren’t enough?” Petunia said dryly.  “Just be glad I never burned them.  I should have.  There’s no telling what sort of nonsense she and my mother wrote.”

            “How long did it take for them to stop writing me?” Mrs. Granger asked.

            Petunia drew herself up.  “Oh, they were quite determined—but so was I.  The letters finally stopped after a year or two.”

            Before the Grangers could reply, Harry came trudging down the stairs.  He was dragging his trunk behind him and carrying that ridiculous owl.  So he had been ready to leave.  Had been planning this for weeks, no doubt.  Petunia wanted nothing more than to get him out of her sight.  Those horrid green eyes always mocked her.  She noticed that Mrs. Granger slipped the bundle of letters subtly into her bag.

            Petunia knew then why she had returned the letters.  She wanted Lily’s friend to know that she had picked the wrong sister.  She, Petunia, was the clever one.  The normal one.  It was a small triumph, but it brightened her day.

**

            The trip from Privet Drive to Hermione’s house passed quickly for Harry, who was so eager to see his friends again.  He had looked forward to seeing them at the end of every summer, but none so much as this one, when the previous year’s events weighed so heavily on his mind and conscience.  He always tried to picture Cedric as he was before they entered the maze—looking happy at the Yule Ball or racing around the Quidditch stadium on his broomstick.  Not only did he picture Cedric as he was before the maze; he tried to picture his life as it was before the maze.  It seemed very long ago, and Harry wondered if he could ever be as content as he was then, when his chief concern was asking Cho Chang to the Ball, or laughing with Ron as they made up silly predictions for Professor Trelawney.

            “Did you get all your summer homework done, Harry?” asked Mr. Granger, looking at Harry through the mirror.             

            “Most of it.  I’m sure Hermione’s all done,” he smiled, forcing himself to shake off his gravity.  “I should thank you both for my birthday present,” he continued.  “Hermione said that you helped her pick it out.”

            “It was her idea,” Mrs. Granger said with a wave of her hand.  “But you’re quite welcome, Harry.”

            They lapsed into silence again, but only for a few minutes.  Harry closed his eyes and inhaled deeply as they pulled into the drive of the Grangers’ home.  In minutes, he would be with the two people he cared about most.  And Ginny would be there too.

            As he stepped out of the Grangers’ car, he noticed three grinning faces peering at him through a window.  The faces disappeared, and the next second, Ron flung the door open and ran out to meet Harry, with Hermione and Ginny close behind him. 

            “Harry!” Ron exclaimed.  For a moment, Harry thought that Ron was going to hug him, but Ron stopped short suddenly and extended his hand instead.  “Glad to see you again!”

            Hermione was not so bashful.  She flung her arms around Harry’s neck, and Harry noticed that Ron’s ears had gone pink.  “We’re all together again,” she sighed as she stepped back.  She draped her arm around Ron’s shoulders and grinned.  “Aren’t we a sight for sore eyes, Harry?”

            Harry’s eyes were much more interested in the expression on Ron’s face at that moment.  He looked as though he were claiming the Cup for the Cannons. 

            Ginny approached Harry more quietly, blushing furiously.  “Hi, Harry,” she murmured, smiling up at him.

            “Hi, Ginny,” he replied.

            “Come, let’s get inside,” said Mrs. Granger cheerfully.

            They piled into the house, and Mr. Granger exclaimed, “Hermione, what have you been cooking?  It smells heavenly!”

            “Actually, Dad,” Hermione replied, “Ron cooked most of it.  I just helped with the—just a few things.”  Harry watched her smile at Ron, who now looked badly sunburnt from the neck up. 

            “Well done, Ron,” said Mr. Granger, putting a hand on Ron’s shoulder.  “I’m starving.”

            Ron carried Harry’s trunk up to the guest room while Harry released Hedwig through a window.  He noticed that Mrs. Granger had pulled Hermione aside in the hall and was talking to her quite seriously.  Hermione seemed very affected by what her mother said, and covered her mouth with her hand.  Harry turned away, not wanting to intrude.

            A short time later, all six of them crowded noisily around the Grangers’ small table.  Harry had stayed at the Burrow often enough to know that Ron could cook, so he tore into his supper with no trepidation.

            “Thanks for taking care of supper, Ron,” said Mrs. Granger.  “It was very sweet of you.” 

             Harry knew that the “few things” Hermione helped with probably had to do with showing Ron how to work a stove.  He smiled.

            “Why, Harry,” said Mrs. Granger suddenly, “you have green eyes!”

            Bemused, he could only respond, “Yes, I do.”

            They had dessert in the living room.  Mrs. Granger scooped ice cream in the kitchen, and Mr. Granger carried the bowls out to the young people.  When he had served the four of them, he disappeared into the kitchen with Mrs. Granger.  They were obviously leaving the four friends alone to talk. 

            There wasn’t much to say.  Ron had spent the summer playing Quidditch with his brothers (“And your sister!” Ginny interjected); Hermione had completed all her homework and had done a bit of extra reading on the side; Harry had been driven mad by the Dursleys.  Sitting there with them, chatting idly about their boring summers, Harry could forget Cedric and Voldemort.  He felt grateful and light. 

            “I have something for you Harry,” said Hermione, surprising him.

            “What’s that?” he asked.

            “I have to do a bit of explaining first.  See, my mum and I were cleaning out the attic recently, and we found photographs of one of her childhood friends, as well as some books that had belonged to her.”

            Harry nodded, wondering where this was going.  He felt he should make some response, so he said, “That’s neat.”

            Hermione glanced sideways at Ron, then took a deep breath.  “Harry, it was your mother.”

            Harry blinked.  “What do you mean?”

            “My mother’s best friend was your mother, Lily Evans.  They were only five or six when they knew each other, but my mum has two photographs, several books, and a pile of letters that have never been read.  Your mother’s voice is recorded in one of the books.” 

            She paused to allow Harry to respond, but he only stared at her as if the wind had been knocked out of him.  This was simply too much to take in . . . his mother, Hermione’s mother . . . childhood friends.  His mind raced to try to process what she had said. 

            Hermione continued, “My mother never responded to the letters because—they were sent to the wrong address, and she was only recently able to get them back.  Besides the letters from your mother, there are also a few from your grandmother.”

            Hermione stood up and went to a nearby closet, from which she took a box.  She returned to Harry and set the box on his lap.  “All of this is yours now, Harry,” she said softly.

            Harry swallowed and looked down at the box.  His mind felt numb.  “Do you—”  His voice came out hoarsely, and he cleared his throat.  “Do you mind if I go upstairs?”

            “Want me to stay down here, Harry?” Ron asked. 

            Harry nodded.  He glanced at Hermione and Ginny, whose eyes were shining.  “Go on, Harry,” Hermione murmured.  “First door on the left.  We won’t disturb you.”

            He gripped the box with hands that felt alien to him and walked away from them with feet that didn’t feel like his own.  He climbed each step one by one and pushed open the door of the dark guest room.  After he switched on the light, he sank to the floor with the box and pulled it open.

            On top was a bundle of papers held together with a blue band.  He put these to the side to be read later.  Beneath that was a photograph of a pretty red-haired girl holding a flower.  He ran his fingers over her face and set the photograph aside.  There was a small gold locket under the photo, and Harry picked it up and opened it.

            “Mum,” he whispered as his own green eyes looked back at him. 

            He unfolded the piece of yellowed paper under the locket and found himself reading a letter written by his grandmother.  Her name was Virginia.  Virginia Evans.  And he realized that he was named for his grandfather.  He had seen his grandparents in the Mirror of Erised.  It had been years ago, but he still remembered every detail of every face.  Two stood behind James, two behind Lily.  Virginia Evans was a slender woman with blond hair and a mischievous smile.  And she had written this letter.

            Several books lay in the box.  As he looked through them, Harry found his mother’s name, a short note, and a childish drawing of a cat.  His mother’s handwriting.

            The last was a book of fairy tales, in which either Hermione or her mother had marked a page.  He opened to the selected page, and a little girl’s voice spoke to him. 

            “Hi.  My name is Lily.  This is my book.  I hope you like it.”

            She wasn’t screaming, “Please, not Harry!” in his memory.  The shadow of her voice wasn’t comforting him as his whole body was racked with physical and mental pain.  She was only Lily Evans, a little girl who discovered that she could preserve her voice in a book.  And the little girl’s voice replaced the scream and the shadow.

**

            “He’s asleep,” said Ron to Hermione and Ginny, who stood behind him in the hallway.  “Asleep on the floor.”

            “Do you want me to wake him?” Hermione asked, looking concerned.

            “I’ll do it,” said Ron. “Good night, you two.” 

            They disappeared into Hermione’s room, and Ron went back into the guest room.  Quietly and carefully, he stacked Lily’s things back into the box.  Then, he took the blanket off of Harry’s bed and covered his friend.  Grabbing the blanket from his own bed, he switched off the light and crept downstairs to sleep on the sofa.

//
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 --