The Sugar Quill
Author: Madaline Fabray  Story: View Through a Lens  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.

The Mind’s Lens

“What a zoo!” sighed Orla Quirke as she and Colin Creevey stumbled into the photography room and collapsed onto an old, moth-eaten couch. The faded couch creaked and groaned in protest.


Orla brushed back an unruly strand of hair that had escaped the confines of her now rumpled bun. She looked at Colin, who had leaned back against the couch with a sigh. “Tell me, why do we get all these plum assignments?”


“Actually,” Colin answered without opening his eyes,. “between it being Valentine’s Day and since it involves Harry Potter, I think this might be our biggest assignment yet.”


“Yeah,” Orla grumbled. “We just might make it to page 30.”


“You think?” Colin opened his eyes, and they were twinkling with impish amusement. “That far forward? Things are looking up for us!”


Orla laughed despite herself. “Actually,” she mused, “how is olSkeeter feeling about Harry Potter nowadays? Is she still angry at him for not inviting her to his wedding?”


Colin grinned. “That was nearly five years ago, and even Skeeter doesn’t hold a grudge for that long. I got several pictures of Harry and Ginny Potter. They look so great together!” And here, his expression took on a far-away, dreamy look.


“You've never stopped your hero-worship of him, have you?” Orla looked with amusement at the photographer, who merely gave her a shrug in return.


“He’s a hero,” Colin said. “He’s also a great guy. Human, you know? Even after he defeated You-Know-Who, after he won the Triwizard Tournament, after he defeated the basilisk, he never became snide or felt himself better than anyone else. I remember my first year at Hogwarts, our Defense teacher. He was hopeless. Lockhart, that was him. He thought the world revolved around him…”


“My sister thought the world revolved around him too, and so did a lot of her friends,” Orla said. “He was kind of cute, but he’s in St. Mungo’s now, isn’t he?”


Colin nodded. “Permanently, too. Undone by his own spell. Well, he had an ego the size of Hogwarts, yet he didn’t do half of what Harry did.” Suddenly, Colin cracked up laughing.


“What is it?” Orla looked up from her notepad.


“Oh, just thinking of Lockhart and the basilisk made me remember something.” Colin chortled a moment more before explaining. “Valentine’s Day, he had arranged something, I guess, where a bunch of dwarves were conned into becoming singing telegrams. Harry, I heard, got one. From Ginny.” His eyes twinkling, Colin started singing in a decent tenor voice: “‘His eyes are as green as a fresh-pickled toad, his hair is as dark as a blackboard. I wish he were mine, he’s really…’” Colin was laughing too hard at this point to continue.


“That must have been a sight to see,” Orla said with a smile.


“Yeah, I wish I could have seen it,” Colin said wistfully, then he explained, “I was Petrified before then.”


Ooo, I forgot, you were one of those attacked by the monster!” Orla’s dark brown eyes flew open wide. “That must have been awful!”


Colin shrugged. “Actually, I was only Petrified. I don’t remember too much. I had been trying to sneak up to see Harry Potter after that amazing Quidditch game, where he had caught the Snitch despite the hexed Bludger. On my way, I saw something big move, and I went to take a picture, and bam! Next thing I know, I’m waking up in the infirmary with a strange potato taste in my mouth and Pomfrey telling me it was now nearly summer.”


“Wow, you never told me about that, Colin, and we’ve worked together for about three years now!”


“Not much to tell, really.” With a slight groan, Colin stood up. “Well, I suppose I should get to work on these photos, and you need to work on your award-winning news story on how the traditions of snogging and candy-giving are still alive and well on Valentine’s Day.” He shook his head wistfully. “Were we ever that young?” He disappeared behind a curtain in the lab room, whistling tunelessly under his breath.


“I think so,” Orla said absently as she took out her pink Quick-Quotes quill and tapped the end with her finger. She set it on the notebook, where it started scribbling additional notes. She chewed thoughtfully on her little nail as she debated on how to write her story.


A paper airplane memo struck her in the head, breaking her concentration.


Oww,” Orla muttered irritably as she rubbed her right cheek. She snatched up the offending memo and opened it impatiently. She groaned aloud and crumpled the memo.


“What is it?” Colin peeked his head out from behind the curtain as Orla savagely lobbed the paper wad across the room.


“A message from Skeeter,” Orla lamented. She put her head in her hands. “She wants another picture of me taken. None of the ones taken earlier turned out right. I warned her, I’m just not photogenic! She is wasting her time. Why does she need a photo of the staff members, anyway?”


“I dunno, in case any of us go missing?” Colin grinned at Orla’s exasperated look. “Well, the note came through just in time. I haven’t opened my camera yet, and I have a few exposures left.”


“It doesn’t matter, Colin,” Orla said. “It’s hopeless. I’m a hopeless case!”


“Nothing is ever hopeless,” Colin said. “Have you ever known any of my photos to not turn out? Well, besides the one I tried to take of the basilisk.”


“Spoken like a Gryffindor,” Orla said with a reluctant grin, but then she shook her head. “I’m afraid I’d only be the second one you couldn’t get a picture of. No, I’ll try to talk Skeeter out of it.”


Orla, how long have you worked here?” Colin said, and he folded his arms across his chest.


“You know that yourself. It was three years ago, about a year after you started.” Orla folded her own arms over her chest and pouted.


 “Then you should know by now that once olSkeeter makes up her mind about something, that’s it. Now come on, Orla, it won’t take long. A picture or two, that should be enough.” Colin went back inside the lab to retrieve his camera.


“But it’s not that easy,” Orla insisted. “I don’t take good pictures!”


“All girls say that,” Colin said as he came back out. “And unless her name is Millicent Bulstrode, they have always been wrong.”


“When did you take a picture of Millicent Bulstrode? I thought she went on the run with her family shortly after You-Know-Who was killed, more than six years ago.”


“I didn’t,” Colin said with a shudder. “I valued my camera too much.”


“What, afraid her mug would break your camera?”


“No, more afraid that her fists would. There also was the danger that she would break me in the process as well.”


Orla giggled, but quickly sobered. “Wait, Colin. You should see something before you waste your film on me.” She left the room and returned a minute later carrying a large manila envelope.


“Look at these,” Orla said glumly. She opened the envelope and pulled out several large pictures of herself. Colin’s eyes widened in surprise as he looked at them.


“It doesn’t seem to matter what I do.” Orla pointed to the top photo, where she was pictured sitting at her desk, with an enormous spot the size of a saucer on her chin. The pimple was swollen and red, and looked ready to pop.


“I woke up with that thing just that morning,” Orla said. “Of course Bozo would just happen to want to take my picture that day.”


“And here,” Orla said, pointing to the second photo. “I was having a bad hair day, obviously.”


Colin looked incredulously at the photo. Orla’s wavy hair was sticking straight up in all directions. “It looks as if you had stuck your finger in a plug socket first.”


Orla looked puzzled. Colin tried again. “It looks as if you were struck by lightning.”


“Yeah,” Orla agreed glumly. “And here’s this one.” She showed a photo where her nose overwhelmed her face. The tip was red and sore-looking. “I had a bad cold that day.”


“But Orla,” Colin said, his brow furrowed in puzzlement. “Your nose isn’t that big, not by half.”


“It felt big that day,” Orla said. “I had a bad cold, and hadn’t stopped at the apothecary’s yet.”


“I don’t understand this,” Colin said as he gently took the photo. In the picture, Orla looked balefully at Colin through watery eyes as she took out a handkerchief and tried to cover her huge nose as she sneezed. The white linen cloth barely covered half of the nose.


“And this is the worst one yet,” Orla said with a fresh shudder. She handed Colin another picture. In this one, Orla’s smile looked more like cringing as she tried to pull her dress over a pair of bloated legs. “Bozo caught me off-guard here, I had just finished lunch in the park.”


“What on earth happened? Where you stung by a nest of wasps?”


“No!” Orla snapped. “It’s just, well, my legs, they are rather chubby. I hated that robe, it was too short. I got rid of it after that day.”


“But your legs aren’t that…” Colin flushed and paused. “I think,” he said, changing the topic, “that I know what is going on. I admit, I’ve never actually seen this, and never heard of a case this bad, but I think I can fix it.”


“Really?” Orla looked doubtful.


“Oh yes,” Colin said. “These pictures turned out the way they did because you exaggerated things in your mind, and somehow they appeared here. You saw your legs as bad, and so they looked bad.”


“I don’t think it’s that simple,” Orla scoffed. “My legs are too heavy!”


“They are not!” Colin said. “You walk and run a lot, sure. Maybe they aren’t twiggy and long like a night robe model, but they look…they look just fine to me.” Colin’s face went red.


“Really?” Orla said, her cheeks suddenly turning rosy.


“Yeah,” Colin said softly. “I think you are pretty nice-looking, Orla. If you can just see yourself the way I see you, why, you’d take a great picture.”


“You think so?” Orla asked. “Do you really think that’s all it is?”


“Sure I do,” Colin replied with a lop-sided grin. “Have I ever lied to you?”


Orla smiled, and Colin pointed at her face.


“See, that’s one thing,” Colin said. “You have a great smile, when you decide to show it.”


Orla laughed as Colin started to prepare his camera.


“But my hair!” Orla suddenly shrieked. “Let me straighten it first. It probably looks like a rat’s nest, after that wind.”


“Your hair looks fine.” Colin looked at her from behind his lens. “Now just look this way and give me another of your smiles.”


“Colin!” Orla protested. “My hair looks awful, and I really should freshen my makeup first…”


“You look fine the way you are,” Colin said.


“How can you say that?” Orla gave an exasperated sigh.


“Because that’s what I see.” Colin adjusted the F-stop on his camera. “I see a very pretty girl, sweet, a bit shy, very smart – the consummate Ravenclaw -- but unsure of herself. She has pretty eyes and a sensitive mouth. She has lovely roses in her cheeks, especially when she’s feeling embarrassed, as she is now.” Colin chuckled as Orla gave a squeak of protest. His index finger hovered over the shutter. “Now smile, and this picture could make the cover of Witch Weekly.”


Orla ducked her head and laughed. The shutter went off with a loud click.


“Colin,” Orla asked tentatively as Colin lowered the camera. “Do you mean that? Or,” and here her smile faltered a bit. “Were you just trying to get a good picture?”


“I meant it.” Colin turned away shyly. “Every word. I think you are a pretty girl, Orla. Always have thought that.”


“You’ve never said anything,” Orla said softly.


“I…I didn’t want to embarrass you if you didn’t feel the same way, especially since we have to work together.” Colin rocked on the soles of his feet and looked at the floor.


Orla slowly stood up from the couch and walked over to him. She put both her hands over his and noticed he was shaking.


“I’ve loved you from afar since first-year, did you know that?” Orla looked into Colin’s gray eyes.


“What?” Colin’s eyes grew wide in surprise. “But why? I…I’m not that much. Not compared to so many that went to school while we were there.”


“Now who doesn’t think much of himself?” Orla teased. “And why wouldn’t I fancy you? You are sweet, you are brave, you don’t think of yourself. You are gentle and kind, and you never fail to make me laugh, even when I feel low.” Slowly, tentatively, she brought a hand to his cheek. “I’ve known you since you were a third year, and I a first, and nothing in the passage of time have dimmed my feelings for you.”


“Well, I’m glad we got the chance to work together,” Colin said softly.


Orla grinned. “That wasn’t chance. I asked for you. And not just because of my feelings. You are a great photographer, and…” and here she scowled. “I really can’t stand Bozo.”


Colin laughed. “You and most decent people,” he whispered conspiratorially. “Say, are you busy this evening? After we get this blasted assignment done.”


“No,” Orla said. “I just had home and pampering my two cats to look forward to.”


“Well, I hear Gordon Ramsay has a Valentine’s special….”


Gordan Ramsay!” Orla’s eyes flew open. “On our salary? How about the Paris-London Café? That’s not too far from here.”


“The Paris-London Café it is, then. But one day, I will treat you to Gordon Ramsay.”


“Are you that eager to take out a second mortgage?” Orla quipped.


Colin placed his camera on the couch and gently grasped Orla by the shoulders. “I think this is the best Valentine’s Day I have ever had.”


“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Orla said with a smile.


Colin grinned and drew her near, and for a few wonderful moments, all thoughts of the camera, pictures and the story were forgotten.


-- Finis--

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