The Sugar Quill
Author: Zia Montrose  Story: Willow, 10 1/4", Swishy  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.

It was a Saturday morning in July in Surrey, and Lily Evans was coming back from checking the mailbox in front of her family’s

With thanks to my amazing beta reader, Lady Narcissa.

 

Willow, 10 1/4", Swishy

 

On a Saturday morning in July, Lily Evans walked back from checking the mailbox in front of her family’s Surrey brick Tudor-style home.  The sun was still low in the sky, yet it already radiated good warmth in its effort to steam the dew from the grass of the suburban lawns.  A few of the neighbors were out and about: gardening, walking the dog, chatting with one another about how the roses were doing this year.  Lily had been home for a week now, and seeing as she wasn’t allowed to do magic away from school, was already running out of things to do.  In an attempt to be helpful, the redheaded teen made her way back to the house with the mail.  She tucked between the hedge bordering the driveway and her father’s parked car; he’d left it out of the garage that day with intentions of washing it.  She mused about washing it for him with the Scourgify spell, knowing how amused and proud it would render him.  She had delighted her mum with a vial of concentrated Garden Grow Potion for Mother’s Day this year and three months later, Mrs. Evans was still talking about it.  She loved being able to share magic with her parents, but the occasions were few due to the Ministry’s restrictions on underage magic in non-magical areas.  It seemed so unfair, really, as it was common knowledge that students from wizarding homes could often perform a bit of wandwork here and there without Ministry or parental detection. 

 

Lily’s reverie broke when she noticed Petunia coming down the driveway in her direction.  Upon seeing her younger sister, Petunia quickly traversed the driveway so as to walk on the opposite side of the car.  True, space was limited for two people to pass by on Lily’s side—her mother and father would likely have walked the same path as Petunia—but something about Petunia’s manner and facial expression told Lily that more than just space constraints had caused her sister to distance herself.

 

Passing her sister, Lily entered the house and ducked into the dining room to give her mum the mail.  Family friends had joined the Evanses for dinner last night.  She set the mail down on the table.

 

“Here you go, Mum.”

 

“Oh, thank you, Lily,” Mrs. Evans called from where she worked at trimming some plants arranged in stands in the corner.  The enjoyment of having her daughter home for the summer holidays had not yet worn off.

 

“You’re welcome,” Lily answered as she re-entered the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water.  As she neared the sink, she saw a familiar wooden object sticking out of a pot soaking from dinner the night before. 

 

“My wand,” Lily gasped, pulling the light brown, spindly, carved object out of the pot and flicking the water from it.  She stood, mouth agape.  Her eyes narrowed.

 

“Mum, was Petunia in the kitchen?” 

 

Mrs. Evans stuck her head into the doorway.  “Hmm, dear?”

 

“Mum,” Lily began, exasperated, “I just found my wand soaking in this manky pot from last night’s dinner.”  She held it up as an exhibit.

 

“Oh, dear.  I wonder how that happened…” Mrs. Evans mused sympathetically.

 

“I think I know!”  Lily huffed.

 

Mrs. Evans’s eyes widened.  “Yes?”

 

“I think Petunia put it in there.”

 

“Oh, Lily, do you think she would do that?  Maybe it was a mistake.”

 

“Right.”

 

“Well, why don’t you ask her, dear?”

 

Just then the back door swung open and Petunia pushed through, stopping.  Lily and her mother watched her expectantly.

 

“What?”  Petunia asked defensively.

 

“Petunia, did you put my wand in that nasty pot soaking in the sink?” 

 

“No,” Petunia said, turning to her mother for support.  Lily knew high drama when she saw it; her sister had always leaned toward the hysterical.

 

“Well, then who did?” Lily demanded.

 

“I don’t know.  Why don’t you ask Dad?”  Petunia’s voice was cold and accusing.

 

“Dad,” Lily yelled toward the living room, where he was sure to be reading the morning paper.

 

“Yes, Lily?”

 

“Did you do the dishes?”  There was a moment’s silence.  “Did you put my wand in the sink?”

 

From the other room, the newspaper rustled.  “Your wand in the sink…?  No, of course not.  What was your wand doing in the sink?

 

Lily shot a poignant glare at Petunia.

 

“It wasn’t me.” Petunia was steadfast in her denial.

 

“Sure it wasn’t,” Lily said, turning toward the stairs.

 

“Maybe someone confused it for a wooden spoon,” her mum offered logically.

 

“You don’t soak those, either!” Lily stormed out of the room, throwing a last baleful glare at Petunia.

 

Once upstairs, she shut the door to her room and pulled a towel from her laundry hamper to wipe her wand dry, inspecting it for signs of cracks and water damage as she walked toward her bed.  It will need oiling, she thought.  She sat, one leg tucked beneath her.  The day outside was magnificent; she made note of that, before falling onto her back. 

 

It was certainly too nice of a day to be stuck at home with Petunia.  She longed to see her Hogwarts friends, but it always seemed to take too much effort.  The Evanses weren’t set up on the Floo network like wizarding families and meeting somewhere in Muggle England often confused wizard parents.  Meeting in Diagon Alley was the remaining choice; she wished desperately that visits could be easier to plan.  If only she could use a broom, but the distances were generally too far and she couldn’t risk being seen.  Cleverness and resourcefulness were, for once, failing her.  With a sudden surge of jealousy more befitting Petunia than herself, she realized that her classmates could visit one another regularly via the Floo network.  If only they could get added to the network!  But her parents wouldn’t allow it, and all to mollify Petunia.

 

There was a time when Lily regretted the loss of her sister’s friendship, but after five years of attending Hogwarts and coming home to such a sour demeanor every holiday, she was getting over it.  In Lily’s mind, the current animosity could be traced back to an early manifestation of her magical abilities, way back when her mum still referred to them as her “flower girls.”  Local children who studied ballet were given the opportunity to audition for roles in the familial Christmas Party scene of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite performed by the Royal Ballet of London.  Remarkably, both Lily and Petunia had been chosen.  Each rehearsal, after the girls had finished performing their parts, they would stand at the curtain’s edge and watch the famous company of dancers.  Lily had always found herself deeply touched by the tragic scene where the Nutcracker was killed by the Mouse King for defending Clara, who ran to hold the fallen victim in her arms and wept.

 

On opening night, the costumes, the lights, and the palpable sadness all combined to make Lily cry; as she did, real snowflakes fell from the rafters.  She could discern the hidden confusion in the faces of the professional dancers.  Meanwhile, the audience drew awed breath.  The snow segued marvelously into the dance with the Nutcracker Prince and the March of the Sugar Plum Fairies.  Somehow Lily knew that she’d made it happen.  She whispered fervently and secretively in Petunia’s ear, excitement causing her to momentarily forget that previous claims had earned her rebuke from her sister.  Petunia had recently been trying to appear more grown-up to fit in with the popular girls at school and such a claim challenged that tractable nature.  In a bossy voice, Petunia claimed Lily suffered from an overactive imagination and sought attention.  Back at home the argument persisted on and off for months.  Lily’s Hogwarts Enrollment Letter arrived less than a year later, causing her parents’ pride to bubble over and silencing Petunia.  Over the next few years, as they became teens, Petunia became increasingly concerned about appearances: spellbooks, cauldrons, owls, and robes around the house would trigger hysterics. 

 

On Lily’s first trip to Diagon Alley, she had been forced to settle for a black cat when she preferred an owl; Petunia had created such a fuss about ‘looking like freaks in the neighborhood’ that their parents forced Lily to compromise, even though the neighborhood was already full of cats. 

 

Other sources of friction arose.  Sometimes Lily noticed the funny way Petunia looked at her in their shared bathroom as she brushed out her hair for the night or primped to visit her friends.  This year, Aaron Derby from the neighborhood had begun stopping by on holidays.  He seemed more keen to talk to Lily, even when Petunia propped herself noticeably on the arm of the couch where he was sitting (when her parents were absent from the room, of course).   Petunia was always quite nasty to her after he left.

 

Lily had learned to look forward to the reprieve Hogwarts provided from her sister.  To her distress, she had received a rumpled dirty sock from Petunia for her birthday this year.  Lily had opened the parcel at breakfast in front of all her peers, whose curiosity had been raised by the tape and brown Muggle paper.  Even James Potter had witnessed that incident, raising an eyebrow questioningly at her in an inquiry she chose to ignore.  

 

Potter:  now there was another frustrating subject.  What did those Gryffindor boys think they were doing last week, torturing Severus Snape in front of the whole school?  She had her doubts about Snivellus too, but he hardly needed that kind of treatment in public, as unpopular as he was.  It was clear that Potter, at least, had been using it as a means for earning attention he in no way needed; he and Sirius Black were wildly popular already.  Seeking more at Snape’s expense was just loathsome.  So for her part, she wouldn’t give it to him, even if—oh bugger, these were her thoughts, she could be honest—she had noticed him in other contexts, like when he wasn’t being cruel but simply excelling brilliantly in class, or heroically dodging Bludgers in Quidditch matches, or joining forces spectacularly with Sirius at the Dueling Club to teach those cheating-prone Slytherins a lesson when Flitwick had stepped out.  But none of his successes were lost on him and that is what made him a hopeless toe-rag.

 

He also had no idea how to ask a girl out properly: not in public, not in bargain, and not cajolingly and over-confidently.  What a prat!  At least she’d been ready with the ”giant squid” response.  And that bit about making Snivellus apologize… did he think she was helpless?  It made her cheeks hot just thinking about it.

 

For the second time that day, Petunia broke her reverie, this time by skulking into the doorway and making Lily blush due to her most recent train of thoughts.

 

“Would you put your Halloween costume away?”  She held Lily’s cloak at arm’s length in two carefully pinched fingers.  “I have friends coming over.”

 

“Maybe I’ll wear it, then.”  Lily was aware of the surliness in her voice and the devious smile tugging at her mouth.  She had never particularly liked Petunia’s friends or the sound of cruel gossip and laughter that ricocheted down the hall when they were over.

 

Petunia’s already long face fell.  “You wouldn’t.”

 

Lily smirked satisfactorily.  “Try me.”

 

Petunia let out a small shriek, released the cloak, and dashed down the stairs.

 

Lily could predict what would happen next.  Any instant now Petunia’s shrill voice would break out into a desperate appeal to her parents.  Well, she’d asked for it, after all.  Standing, grinning, Lily donned her cloak and fairly floated down the stairs.

 

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