The Sugar Quill
Author: Madaline Fabray  Story: Winter to Spring  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.

Teacher and Student

Winter to Spring

 

A/N A Big “thank you” to Gufa for her betaing, Brit-picking and polishing assistance!

 

Newt Scamander walked slowly home, relishing the frosty February air. His finely-polished wooden cane made brisk tapping sounds on the cobblestones beneath his feet.

 

He still loved winter and the pure crystal stillness the snow and ice gave to the quaint old structures on the outskirts of Ely. He chuckled as he remembered that he was as old as some of these “ancient” structures.  

 

Newt suddenly shivered, and he clutched his satchel and cane tighter as he picked up his pace. Yet another sign of old age, he thought wryly. Although he loved winter’s cold, that cold settled in his bones and joints, making them twinge.

 

He rounded a slight bend in the road and smiled as he caught sight of his two-story detached cottage. It had been built by his grandparents long ago, before he was born. The house, like him, had its own history.

 

The old wizard inhaled deeply, smelling the sweetest perfume he knew: Porpentina’s French toast and sausage. Mouth watering in anticipation, he entered the rounded wooden door, and was promptly dive-bombed by a familiar ball of brown and white fur.

 

“Hullo, Mauler,” Newt said with a laugh as he held the Kneazle at arms’-length. Mauler purred loudly and sniffed at her master’s face, flicking a pink, sandpapery tongue at Newt’s cheek.

 

“Welcome home, dear,” Porpentina called from the kitchen. “Breakfast is nearly ready and your new apprentice is here. Coffee or tea, love?”

 

“Tea sounds excellent, dear,” Newt said as he shifted Mauler onto his shoulder and looked towards the large round table which served both as the Scamanders’ dining room table and the  work table where Porpentina made the numerous healing potions Newt used. For the first time, he noticed the young woman seated there, looking at him with a mixture of anticipation and nervousness.

 

“Why, hullo there,” Newt said kindly, remembering all too well how nervous he had been on his first day at his first job. Oh no, the 84 years since that time had not erased that memory. “You must be Miss Lavender Brown.” He smiled as he saw Hoppy curled up like a white fur blanket on the young witch’s lap and Milly rubbing his black and white back against her legs. Ah yes, Newt had a feeling Lavender Brown would work out quite well for him. The Kneazles always knew.

 

“Yes, sir.” Lavender tried to stand, but Newt waved his hand.

 

“You don’t need to stand on my account, Miss Brown,” he said, his dark eyes twinkling. “I was never much for ceremony. Besides, Hoppy would never forgive me for depriving her of a warm perch.”

 

Lavender laughed at that, and some of the nervousness left her eyes. In the adjacent room, separated by an archway, an Augurey with a healing wing gave a soft cry. A Crup with a bandage on its left paw and its forked tail gave a yawn, then a bark of greeting.

 

Just then, Porpentina came into the room, carrying a tray with two plates piled high with sausages and French toast. There was jam, maple syrup, butter and powdered sugar arranged in the middle of the table.

 

“So, how was Parker’s new aethonon?” Porpentina asked as she carefully manoeuvred the trays onto the table.

 

“Oh, he’ll be all right,” Newt said. “Just picked up a nasty stone and bruised his hoof. But Auger will be fine before a fortnight’s over.” He gently put Mauler down on the ground with a final, affectionate pet and placed his satchel next to his chair. He then started to sit down, but Porpentina brought him up short.

 

“Wash your hands first,” she said, a hint of sternness in her merry blue eyes.

 

Newt stood back up with a laugh and apologetic look at Lavender. “My memory slips on occasion. Thankfully, I have Porpentina to remind me of things.”

 

Lavender smiled in response as she gently lowered Hoppy to the ground and stood up. Hoppy and Miller joined Mauler by the small fireplace to the right of the table. “I should wash my hands, too.”

 

“Right this way, then,” Newt said as he led the way to the kitchen. The small kitchen consisted of a wood-burning stove, a tiny ice box which stored frozen meat for the Scamanders and a much larger ice box which stored needed potions and animal food. A trough with a pump handle spout was squeezed between the large ice box and the stove. Newt pumped the handle a few times, and clear water came gushing out. Lavender tentatively eased her hands towards the stream of water, then thrust them in when she realized it  was warm. She reached for the ivory-coloured bar of soap next to the pump  and thoroughly washed her hands. Newt followed, but as he was lathering his hands, he heard a loud bell clamouring from the front of the house.

 

“Sounds like we have a customer,” Newt said as he flung the water and soap from his hands and shut off the water. He sighed as he hastily dried his hands. Once again, it looked as if breakfast would have to wait. He turned to Lavender. “You can go join Porpentina if you would like. I may be a few moments.”

 

“May I come with you?” Lavender asked. “I am here to learn, after all.”

 

Newt smiled and nodded. “Very well. Now, let’s go see who it is.”

 

“It’s little Andy Rabnott,” Porpentina announced as soon as Newt and Lavender came back into the kitchen. “His new Pygmy Puff has a bit of a cough. I’ve already sent him into your office.”

 

“What colour is it?” Newt asked as he went to a small cabinet on the left wall. He pulled out the centre drawer and pulled on a pair of fine black gloves that clung to his gnarled hands like a second skin. He handed Lavender a similar pair of red gloves.

 

“It’s one of those new green and white striped ones.” Porpentina gave her husband a knowing look, and he shook his head with a rueful smile.

 

“Those are prone to colds and sinus trouble, aren’t they?” Lavender said eagerly. “Something about their noses, they are narrower, right?”

 

“That’s correct,” Newt said, nodding his approval. “Porpentina, do we have any…?”

 

“It’s already on your desk,” his wife responded. “I’ve taken to making batches of Pygmy Puff Expectormist and bottling it. We seem to be getting at least two cases a day. Did the Weasley brothers say anything about fixing the problem?”

 

“They are still working on it, last I heard,” Newt replied.

 

He and Lavender went into the adjacent room. The Augurey looked at them with its sombre eyes and tilted its vulture-like head. The Crup wagged its injured tails slightly at their approach. A cage of guinea pigs, which was placed on a larger medicine cabinet near Newt’s office door, squeaked in greeting as the two wizards entered the office.

 

Inside was a young boy of seven or eight, wearing a bright red knit cap and matching muffler. His blue coat was partially unbuttoned, and two bright red knit mittens poked out of the left pocket. Melting snow covered the tips of his black boots. He held a green and white-furred Pygmy Puff close to his chest. Its pink tail drooped over the boy’s wrist.

 

“Why, hullo there, Master Andy,” Newt said to the child, whose eyes were red rimmed. “What have we here, young man?”

 

“I think my Pygmy Puff is sick,” Andy said. He thrust the little ball of fluff to the wizard. The Pygmy Puff gave a squeaking little cough.

 

“I see,” Newt said as he gently picked up the Pygmy Puff and inspected it with his still-sharp eyes. “And what’s his name?”

 

“Chudley,” the little boy responded. “I like the Cannons, so I named him Chudley.”

 

“I rather like the Cannons, too,” Newt said as he carefully flipped the Pygmy Puff on its back and slowly stroked its belly. The Pygmy Puff chattered and purred, the noises punctuated by a couple of sharp coughs.

 

“Hmmm…” Newt said. He turned to Lavender. “Well, what do you think?” He handed the tiny creature to the young witch. She blinked in surprise but took Chudley and peered closely at it, like Newt had done. She noticed the fur near what passed for its face was slightly wet and matted. She tickled the mouth region, and the creature’s wet, pink tongue licked at her finger and purred in between squeaky coughs.

 

“A cold, but not a bad one,” Lavender said. She looked up to Newt for confirmation, and he nodded and smiled. Encouraged, she turned to the boy. “You were smart to bring him in when you did. Chudley should be all right, with a bit of medicine.”

 

“Who are you?” Andy asked, curious, as he took Chudley back.

 

“I’m Miss Lavender,” she replied. “I just started here. Chudley is adorable. When did you get him?”

 

“Father Christmas brought him,” Andy replied with a bright smile. Then he turned back to Newt, who was placing a small bottle in a paper bag. The older wizard took another bottle and an eyedropper.

 

“Just give Chudley five drops of his medicine twice a day, like this.” Newt filled the eyedropper about half full of a bright red liquid, then held it in front of the Pygmy Puff. The wet tongue instantly came out and sucked at the medicine. “It won’t be a problem, giving him the medicine. The trick will be keeping him from finding the bottle and drinking it all at once.”

 

“Would that hurt him?” the little boy asked with round eyes.

 

“It might,” Newt said. “It’s more likely that it will make him race around the room for hours, and your mother would have my hide. The sugar and menthol tends to make them hyper. There, he’s all done.” Newt removed the now-empty eyedropper from the Pygmy Puff’s mouth.

 

Chudley purred in pleasure as a much happier Andy took the paper bag and his pet back to the dining room.

 

“Tell your parents I said ‘hi,’” Newt said with a wave as the boy went back into the snowy cold. Chudley’s long tail could be seen hanging out of Andy’s coat pocket.

 

“I will,” Andy said as he waved back, paper bag clutched to his chest.

 

As soon as the little boy disappeared out of sight, Newt closed the door. He took off his gloves and took Lavender’s gloves, placed them back in the drawer and sat down at the table. Lavender sat across from him.

 

“I had a feeling it would be a quick case,” Porpentina said as she served the French toast and sausage, which she had kept warm by warming spells. “What do you like on your French toast, dear?”

 

“Powdered sugar, please,” Lavender replied.

 

“That often happens,” Newt said. “Sickness and emergencies don’t always wait for breakfast and supper. We were lucky with this one, just a Pygmy Puff with a small cold.”

 

“I had Hagrid. I handled Blast-Ended Skrewts.” Lavender grimaced at the memory. “I doubt anything could get much worse than that. I…” and here she flushed, suddenly shy. “I’m glad you agreed to take me on as an apprentice. It’s really an honour. This is what I’ve wanted to do for ages.”

 

This was me, so many years ago, Newt thought, a bit wistfully.

 

“Well, I need a good apprentice,” Newt said. “As my dear wife likes to remind me, I’m not getting any younger, and there is a need for another animal healer in this area.”

 

“Well, I hope I won’t let you down,” Lavender said. “I really want to learn.”

 

Newt looked at her eager face. Yes, just like me, when I was her age. So long ago.

 

“I think you are going to do just fine,” Newt replied.

 

Finis

//
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