The Sugar Quill
Author: ProfessorWannaBe  Story: It is a Glorious Morning  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.

I’ve borrowed a character directly from JK Rowling with her kind tolerance and sent him to meet with one of my own.  Thanks to Sandra for the joking that brought this to paper (and the drawing she made to go with it), to Rella for forcing me to get my roses straight and to Suburban House Elf who consistently keeps me from making the worst of mechanical errors.

 

 

 

            It is a glorious morning!  Birds are chirping in trees that rustle in a gentle breeze.  The babble of the river is carried by the zephyr across a meadow dappled with patches of clover.  Two dull-looking cows graze contentedly under a cloudless sky.  A dazzling sun has risen above the treetops promising to make the day warm—just as it should be in late August.

 

            The serenity is shattered, however, by a loud crack.  Birds take flight, alarmed by the sound and the sudden appearance of a man under the canopy of their leafy amphitheatre.  One glance through the wire fence prompts the cows to abandon their breakfast and trot to the far corner of their pasture.  Even the wind and river fall silent as the intruder crunches his way across the gravel road.

 

            Now, you must realize that the man cannot be blamed for the disturbance his mode of transportation made amongst the local animal population.  It is only natural that the wind would die away with the rising sun—you shouldn't assume that it had anything to do with the man's arrival.  On the other hand, the man's appearance is a bit…frightful.

 

            Longish hair hides most of his face behind black, greasy curtains.  As he turns to cast a sneering glance over the road and meadow, the greatest impression is of a prominent nose hooking out from beneath eyes as black as his hair.  He is dressed entirely in black which, perhaps, accentuates the pallor of his complexion.  His belligerent march across the road suits his appearance, while both are completely incongruous with the pastoral scenery.

 

            If you could see him scowling before the gate of the lonely house surrounded by this meadow, you might think that he has arrived to do some dastardly deed.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You would need to look closely to see the sigh he indulges in before opening the gate or discern the steely resolve in his eyes as he lifts the latch to allow himself into the front garden.

 

            The gate, like the rest of the fence surrounding the house, is painted a dazzling white.  As it swings open and closed under the stranger's hand, the hinges stridently protest their usage.  The man glares at the hinges then hesitates again as he faces the house from inside the garden.  Only a few strides separate him from the three steps that will take him onto the front porch—the expression on his face implies that it is the walk of the condemned. 

 

He is obviously unimpressed by the multitude of fading pink roses that flank the path.  Prosperous Damasks line the fences, ramblers fill the corners of the garden, climbers grasp at the porch railings and the trellises on either side of the parlor window.  The less pretentious shrub roses crowd the pathway.  The ground is covered with dropped petals and the air is still perfumed with the spicy sent of the Damasks which causes the man to wrinkle his nose as he takes a measured pace into the garden’s embrace.

 

            ‘Severus!’

 

            A plump woman of indeterminate age leaves the door standing open as she toddles across the porch and down the steps.  She is a portrait of joy.  Her eyes dance above a toothy smile while her arms are spread wide in welcome.  Severus manages only a two more strides so they meet in the very center of the garden.  He is resigned to the enthusiastic hug he receives.

 

            ‘Aunt Mathilda, you look well,’ he remarks as she releases him.

 

            Mathilda's joy falters as she scans his face.

 

            ‘Oh, Severus,’ she sighs, ‘you look dreadful.’  Reaching up to cup his face with both hands, she continues to chastise him.  ‘What have I told you about spending your summers locked up indoors?  You might as well spend them still in the dungeons of that drafty old castle for all the good the holidays do you.’

 

            ‘Yes, I know.  You're right,’ he replies without any hint of remorse for disregarding her advice.

 

            ‘Well…,’ the delight returns to her face at his words, ‘You are here now and we will get you a bit of sun today.’

 

            Grabbing her nephew's hand, Mathilda drags him onto the porch.

 

            ‘Have you eaten, Severus?’ she asks, once again in scolding mode.

 

            ‘No, Auntie.  I didn't have time.’

 

            Pressing her lips tightly, she points to one of the two chairs, ‘Sit!  I expected as much.  How can you work on an empty stomach?’

 

            No reply seems necessary as she leaves her guest on the porch and stomps into the house.  He sits in stony silence during her brief absence, making no effort at conversation even when she returns two minutes later with an overloaded tea tray floating before her wand.

 

            ‘You don't take care of yourself, Severus.  Fresh air, sunshine, hearty meals…that's what you need, dear.  If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times…’

 

            Any observer could tell that Severus is not listening to his aunt but it does nothing to stem the flow of words.  Her harangue continues as she pours tea and sets it before her nephew.  The outpouring of advice only ceases once he compliments her on the freshly baked scones.

 

            ‘Ah…now, I see.  You skip your breakfast in anticipation of Auntie's scones.’  She beams.  ‘You always did like my scones.’

 

            Severus finishes three scones, two cups of tea and a bowl of fruit under a barrage of unwanted reminiscence.  It takes a while for Mathilda to realize that he has finished eating, she is so wrapped up in memories of his childhood visits with his mother—her niece.

 

            ‘Shall we get to it, dear?’ she asks as she returns the dishes to the tray, levitating it inside without waiting for a response.

 

            ‘Yes, let's,’ he grumbles once she is out of sight.  Another heavy sigh escapes him as he stands to wait for his aunt's return.

 

            ‘Here we go,’ she babbles, once again leaving the shadowy doorway with a wide-brimmed hat in one hand, pink gardening gloves and a pruner in the other.  She thrusts the hat onto Severus' head, hands him the gloves and tool, oblivious to the look of disgust on her nephew's face.  Leading the way off the porch and into the bed of roses to the right, she launches into another monologue, ‘We'll start over here.  I've been babying these two all summer long.  First, it was powdery mildew then a bit of a drought …’

//
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