The Sugar Quill
Author: Corvidae  Story: Rare Books and Manuscripts  Chapter: Default
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Rare Books and Manuscripts

Rare Books and Manuscripts

by Corvidae



Hermione was in the library. It was a quiet afternoon at Hogwarts so it pleased her to be here, she didn't need a Potions essay or Transfiguration research as an excuse to enjoy herself. She hummed under her breath while reading about the mating habits of manticores and the history of pointed wizards’ hats since the twelfth century. Every now and then a house-elf would patter mutely by her feet and a frown grew long down her face.


            To further minimize the level of noise, Madame Pince had recruited house-elves for a sort of cataloguing system. When a student needed a book they simply wrote down the title or subject and their name on a piece of parchment and placed it at the end of their table. A book-elf would take the parchment and scurry away to find the desired tome, thus reducing any unnecessary scuffling of feet, thumping of books, or clandestine meetings between the book shelves; should any student have such a thing in mind.


            Hermione of course felt outraged. She had already tried to get up and do the task herself four times, each time met by a frantic book-elf who ushered her back to her seat without a word but much poking and pinching. For those who saw the library as merely a social setting, which were many, this new system was also quite disagreeable. As a result, the room was much emptier than usual and the clusters of students that did remain looked rather put out.


A small group of girls were now making loud huffing noises and sticking their tongues out at the elf that had pinched their shins in an effort to make them stop whispering. This of course only rewarded them with a good kick each from a tiny foot.


            Although Hermione didn't agree with this system, house-turned-book-elves aside, she had to admit that the reduction of noisy shenanigans in a place so obviously meant for study was a nice change.


"Really," she thought, looking at the girls’ fresh display of huffs and puffs, "if you want to talk why you don’t just leave!" 


As she watched them something caught her eye, or rather, someone. Seated by himself was a dashing young wizard wearing Ravenclaw robes scribbling on a piece of parchment. Hermione watched as he passed the note to a book-elf and yet no frown darkened her face. She was oddly distracted from indignation by the boy. The boy who was really more of a man, who had dark waves of hair spilling over his eyes, dark eyes that belonged to a poet, and slender hands that could so easily be imagined as writing epic stories and thoughtful theories. Hermione blushed and looked down.


"Really," she chastised herself, "how would I know if he wrote epic stories or crude jokes, they're only hands!" And yet, Hermione looked at his hands again and could not deny that they did in fact look like very skilled hands, romantic even.


"Oh!" she muttered in incredulity, "that's quite enough." But as she continued to read she did not see the words. As fascinating as straw-woven boater bonnets were she found herself more intrigued by the light that came through the windows and cast the boy’s features in shadowy relief. Realizing the very Lavender-ish thoughts that she was thinking snapped Hermione back to herself and she gathered her things and left. On the way out she knocked one of the boy’s parchments to the ground and apologized. His name was Parker Hepple.




            The next morning, a Saturday, found Hermione taking extra care getting dressed, even attempting a twist with her hair before giving it up and heading down to the Library. Harry was playing chess with Neville Longbottom, who looked to be winning by a savage degree and Ron had been sentenced to a weekend of detention with Madame Pince, as punishment for hitting a book-elf over the head with a copy of Charm Your Own Cheese, when it bit his ankles. She waved to him at the desk and walked rather quicker than necessary to her customary table, sneaking a peek at her favorite Ravenclaw. Hermione had managed to convince herself that she could think and dream what she like as long as no soul ever heard these things.


            Sitting down with a large volume, she also withdrew a piece of parchment and a quill from her bag. After tearing the parchment in her lap, Hermione scratched down a title and handed it with stealth to a passing book-elf. It was signed Parker Hepple.


            A minute later the Ravenclaw called Parker received a book at the edge of his table. He looked at it curiously as he had ordered no such thing and read the title Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Saganini. He looked around curiously and did not see Hermione, whose head was ducked down so low her nose was rubbing the page of her book.


A minute went by and he received another book he had not asked for called Your Eyes are Deep as the Ocean by Beatrix Bloxam. Again he swung his head around in search and even tried to tell the elf he had not requested the book, but the book-elf refused to listen and only smacked his knee for talking. Five whole minutes went by before You Are the One: Sonnets by Tilda Heart appeared in front of him. He stared at it hopelessly and Hermione left him there, giggling softly to herself. The elf-system had proven itself not entirely useless after all.




             Hermione sat down at her usual table on Sunday only to find a book already there. Placed squarely in front of her seat as though waiting for her was What Do You Think? by Harry Cook. Within seconds another book-elf breezed by placing You and Me by Roberto Crichton on top of the other.


Hermione felt herself flush with excitement. Her Ravenclaw was reading demurely across the room. She stood, planning to be the forward one when he also stood. She looked down in a moment of shyness but when she looked up again her Ravenclaw was kissing a long-legged Hufflepuff hello.


             Feeling her face fall, she stumbled backward into her seat. Another book arrived: Rendezvous by Evely Fitzpatrick. Hermione did not know what to make of it and she felt irrationally aggravated due to her humiliation. She twisted around looking with hawk eyes for her own secret admirer. There were a few students studying quietly here and there, none of them looking the likely culprit, yet to Hermione it seemed that boy and girl alike were leering at her with questionable intent.


She breathed quickly and tried to bury her face in one of the books. Talking is the Key by Ferry Ferguson appeared by her side. She ignored it and ordered her own book. When it came she propped it up where the title would be visible to all; Leave Me Alone: Hermits of the West Appalachians by Horatio Cole. When another book-elf approached her, she grabbed it roughly by the arm and tried to shake the truth out of it.  This choice of actions would come back to haunt her later.  At any rate, her attempt to discover anything from the elf was fruitless. Four more book-elves came to their co- workers' aide and launched a small attack on Hermione’s legs and arms.


            Eventually the skirmish receded, most of the damage showing up purple and green on Hermione's skin. An elf practically threw Saying Please: Children and their Manners by Fisher Burnett at her.


Hermione laid her head down, feeling deflated, and took Tea at Four O'clock by Bertram Bytheway from the house-elf that shoved it in her hands and stared at it, much as Parker Hepple had done the day before.  It took some persuading but she was eventually able to order the short novella Acquiescence by Constance Pope and left it in the middle of the table before taking leave of the library.




            Four o'clock arrived at Hogwarts and since the only place Hermione could conceive of to have tea was the Great Hall, she seated herself there among the other library-refugees who were boisterously carrying on. If she were to be honest with herself- she was nervous. Her hair had been coaxed into a knot and feeling rather vain and foolish she had changed her robes. For ten minutes she sat alone, her eyes fixed on her hands, which sat twisting in her lap.


            Suddenly a single yellow posy lay on the table in front of her and next to it a book titled Hello by Peter Madison. Hermione could not help the smile that tugged at her mouth. Slowly, cautiously, she lifted her head and saw that the man in front of her was-








            "Ron." He smiled, sitting shakily.


            "Hello," Ron mimicked the book cover. They laughed nervously and sat in silence for a minute.


            Hermione looked up. "I'm glad it was you."



















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