The Sugar Quill
Author: Lauren Greenleaf (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Harry Potter and the Dragon's Nest  Chapter: Chapter One: Dudley's Drums
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Harry Potter and the Dragon's Nest Keywords: Harry, Ron, Hermione

***Disclaimer: The regular Harry Potter characters, places and concepts do not belong to me, they belong to J.K. Rowling. I am just borrowing and will put them back neatly where I found them between Book 4 and 5. Kelsey Florence belongs to me, however, but I'll lend her to anyone who asks nicely!!! S.L.***

***Dedication: I would like to dedicate this to my excellent beta-reader Elanor, for paying me some of the nicest compliments I've ever had about my writing! Thanks a million, Elanor, and thanks to everyone at Sugar Quill for letting me get my work out into the Muggle world!***

 

Chapter One: Dudley’s Drums

The blinds were closed over the windows of number four, Privet Drive. A strange thudding noise came from one of the upper rooms, a noise that had long since set all the dogs along the street howling. Occasionally the thudding would stop, only to start monotonously up again, usually to the accompaniment of a voice raised in a scolding yell.

Dudley Dursley was practising his drums.

Harry Potter, hunched in his bedroom immediately next door, clutched his quill tighter while attempting to cover both ears with his free hand. A large splatter of ink dripped spitefully onto the parchment and, swallowing a groan – which would surely bring Aunt Petunia down on his head if it were heard – Harry tried to blot the ink away. Naturally, the blotting paper refused to work. Harry sighed. If only he were allowed to use magic outside of school...

A soft hooting at the window provided a welcome distraction from the boring History of Magic essay, and Harry hurried to open the window for Hedwig. The snowy owl swooped in, did a couple of graceful laps around the room, then came to rest on her perch. Harry reached eagerly to untie the letter from her leg and unrolled it.

"Dear Harry,

I hope you’re coping with the Dursleys – hopefully it won’t be too long before you can come and live with me instead! I’m just writing to say happy fifteenth birthday and I hope to see you sometime when you return to Hogwarts."

It was signed "Snuffles".

Harry grinned, then laughed. This earned him a thump on the wall from Aunt Petunia next door, but he didn’t care. At least Sirius Black, his godfather, had remembered his birthday. It was just a pity the wizard himself hadn’t been able to visit Harry for his birthday – but as he had escaped from Azkaban, the wizard prison, two years ago, public appearances were understandably impossible. Besides, the Dursleys probably wouldn’t like an escaped convict turning up on their doorstep.

Naturally the Dursleys themselves had forgotten his birthday. Or, which was more probable, had remembered it and simply not bought him anything. The sudden purchase of the drums for Dudley, which had only happened today, was probably not a coincidence.

Harry scratched the top of Hedwig’s head, then gave her a few Owl Treats. She nibbled the end of his finger affectionately before settling down to her reward. Harry went back to his desk feeling happy for once, especially when a loud crash and Aunt Petunia’s loud, hectoring shriek announced the demise of the drums.

 

vvv

 

The next three weeks passed in standard Dursley fashion – in a word, horrible. Dudley taunted Harry over his lack of birthday celebration when he, Dudley, had been given the drums and then had them replaced with a violin when he had poked a hole in the drum skin with the drumstick. The violin sounded like a cat being slowly tortured, and Harry was glad when Dudley found that boring as well and threw it out of the window.

Uncle Vernon had given himself a raise. Being the director of the drill firm Grunnings he couldn’t be promoted, but he could certainly increase his salary at the expense of his workers. The money mostly went towards more toys for Dudley, as usual. Harry certainly didn’t see any of it.

He was grateful when the day finally came that he could go up to London and Diagon Alley to shop for his school supplies. Uncle Vernon reluctantly gave him the money for a train ticket there. His Hogwarts ticket – for the train which left from platform nine and three-quarters at King’s Cross Station – had been delivered by owl two nights ago, the owl waking up the entire household. Harry had been existing on bread and cheese since, and was glad to be going somewhere where he’d be able to get a decent meal.

Waving at Tom, the bartender in the Leaky Cauldron, Harry went through the back door and found the right brick in the wall, tapping it three times with his wand. The archway opened, and he found himself facing Diagon Alley.

The bustling road was filled with people. Witches and wizards of all shape, size and description bustled about, many of them people Harry knew, other students like himself buying school supplies. He would have to go to the wizard bank Gringotts first to get the money he needed. As he walked up the steps he saw Hermione Granger waving at him from just within the foyer.

"Harry! Did you get my owl?"

Harry had. A large tawny owl had delivered Hermione’s present three weeks earlier, along with the letter announcing that this was the day she would be in London. The gift had been, naturally, a book – The History of Quidditch in England. Harry was surprised that it hadn’t been a schoolbook, but chose not to say anything apart from "Yes, thanks."

"Ron says he’ll see us on the train. He wasn’t coming here this year – his Mum’s going to do all the shopping herself. She says it’s finally become too much for her, trying to make the twins behave and keep an eye on Ginny and Ron and not lose anyone," Hermione said.

"Oh, right," said Harry. "We’d better get started, the Dursleys’ll love it if I’m late home, they can lock me out." He touched his pocket to make sure his wand was safe, then he and Hermione headed for one of the goblins at the counter. This routine was becoming almost normal to Harry, but the ride down to his vault was still a stomach-twisting, dizzying blur for the duration of which his and Hermione’s main objective was to hang on as tightly to the sides of the cart as possible.

After loading up his bag with gold Galleons, silver Sickles and bronze Knuts, they continued to Hermione’s smaller vault, where she had a small amount of wizarding money safely stored. To their shock, when the vault door was unlocked, a small pixie flew out, gibbering angrily at Griphook, the goblin steering their cart. Calmly, the goblin reached up and plucked it from the air, holding it firmly as Hermione collected this year’s money.

"Pesky little thieves... Corpus Gelare!" Griphook added, tapping the pixie on the head with his wand. The pixie stopped struggling and seemed to freeze in the goblin’s hand. Griphook put it neatly down on the floor of the cart.

"Try not to step on him, if you can possibly help it," he said with a grin. "Let’s go then?" he added, seeing Hermione had her money.

"Who’s the pixie?" Harry shouted over the roar as the cart made its speedy way back out of the bowels of the bank.

"Brybek," Griphook replied. "We catch him about once a month, getting into people’s vaults. He doesn’t really steal anything," the goblin added, seeing the outraged look on Hermione’s face. "Just seems to get some kind of thrill from it... here we are." He helped the shaken pair out of the cart, scooped up the frozen pixie, and strode towards the door back into the bank. Despite being a full two heads shorter than Harry, the goblin’s presence was still commanding.

Harry and Hermione said goodbye to Griphook at the door back into the bank, then made their way through the queues and back into the fresh air of Diagon Alley. Somewhere further along the cobblestoned street they heard the rattle-bang as someone let off a string of Filibuster Fireworks, and green sparks shot out of a nearby shop doorway to the accompaniment of a loud yelp of pain. They both laughed, then wandered down the street towards Flourish and Blotts, the bookstore.

"What can I help you with?" asked one of the shop assistants, a thin young man with a pinched face, looking rather harassed. Evidently they were not the only ones shopping today.

"Er – we both need The Standard Books of Spells, Grade Five... Magical Theory II... and The Dark Arts: Your Safety Guide, by Olivia N. Shadow," Harry said.

"And I need..." Hermione checked her list, "...Twenty Simple Arithmancy Formulae, by Matthew Matica."

The assistant darted around, finding the books and stacking them high in the pair’s arms. Soon they had all they needed and could pay and leave, staggering a little under the weight – Harry had remembered he needed a new book for Divination, but not what it was called, and Hermione had snorted quite rudely when he mentioned it. She disliked Divination, enough to have walked out of it and not returned when Professor Trelawney finally made one too many disparaging remarks.

"How about an ice-cream?" Harry suggested, so they had mint-choc-chip and banana ice-creams, the odd combination of green and yellow trickling down the sides of the crispy cones. Hermione licked her fingers, then stopped.

"Oh, it’s four o’clock already!" she said. "I’ve got to go and meet my parents, they can’t get in here of course, not without me anyway. I’m surprised we didn’t see Hagrid here," she added. Rubeus Hagrid was the massive groundkeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and was often to be seen in Diagon Alley hunting for something obscure – usually an animal. Norbert the dragon and Buckbeak the Hippogriff numbered among Hagrid’s favourite "pets", and the animals he classified as "cute" were generally what anyone else would call "terrifying".

"And I’d better be getting back to the Dursleys'," Harry said glumly, the pleasure in the day beginning to seep away as he contemplated the prospect of the remainder of his time with the horrible family.

"Why don’t you go and stay with Ron until school starts again?" said Hermione as they bid farewell to Diagon Alley and walked back through the back door of the Leaky Cauldron.

"He hasn’t invited me. I got his birthday present – another Chudley Cannons book and a talisman sort of thing to tie onto my broom for good luck. He hasn’t made any more "fellytone" calls," Harry added with a grin, and both of them felt a pang of regret that Ron couldn’t be here with them today.

"Oh well, we’ll see him on the train," said Hermione briskly as they exited the Leaky Cauldron and she waved to her parents. "And I’ll see you there then," she added, giving Harry an awkward one-armed hug, her other arm being loaded down with books. She dashed off, Harry watching her go, her bushy brown hair flying behind her.

 

vvv

 

The remaining time until he had to catch the train to Hogwarts passed painfully slowly. Dudley seemed intent on playing – or failing to play – every known instrument he could persuade his doting parents to buy for him. He went through, besides the drums and violin, at least four other instruments in the time Harry spent there, including a trombone which made a rather spectacular exit through Dudley’s window and into the greenhouse. Had Harry done the same, he would’ve been forced to pay for the damage and locked in his room for the rest of the time until he left for Hogwarts – Dudley was simply fussed over, Aunt Petunia anxiously inspecting his hands for glass cuts and Uncle Vernon trying to blame it all on Harry.

But finally the time came. Harry was driven to King’s Cross Station by Uncle Vernon, who barely saw him out of the car before he slammed the door and took off in a squeal of tyres. Harry wasn’t worried – he was as glad to be rid of Uncle Vernon as Uncle Vernon was to be rid of him.

The Weasleys were on platform nine, Mrs Weasley already sending Fred and George through the barrier to platform nine and three-quarters. Ginny was wrestling with a cage almost as large as herself which contained an owl Harry hadn’t seen before, a tawny bird which was clearly not impressed to be awake and surrounded by so many people; it kept hooting loudly and earned Ginny many odd looks from the Muggle passengers on the platform.

Ron was standing to one side with Hermione, Hermione’s parents nowhere in sight. Pigwidgeon, Ron’s owl, was in his (considerably smaller) cage, while the cage which presumable held Hermione’s cat Crookshanks was at her feet. Ron spotted Harry first and waved, and Harry ran over, lumping his trunk along. The three friends shared a "welcome back" hug, then stood grinning at each other until Mrs Weasley bustled over and began sorting them through the barrier.

 

vvv

 

Once on the train, rocketing along towards Hogwarts, the trio settled back into their old routines of talking over one another and laughing at new jokes. Ginny kept very quiet in her corner of the compartment and watched Harry most of the way.

Hermione kept yawning, and after the fifth or so view of her recently mended teeth, Ron asked her if she was tired.

"No," said Hermione, "I’ve been sleeping quite well. I just seem to have less energy lately."

"Probably all the homework you were doing on the holidays," said Ron with a snicker.

Seeing the look on Hermione’s face, Harry hastily interrupted with, "Ron, why wouldn’t your mother let you come to Diagon Alley this year?"

Ron sighed. "It’s Fred and George, of course, they keep inventing new practical jokes and tricks. Mum didn’t want them there because they’ve been trying all summer to find a place that’ll sell their stuff."

"Won’t they just go into Hogsmeade and try at Zonko’s?" asked Hermione.

"Oh, I suppose they might, but I rather think Mum’s got that sorted out," Ron said. "I think she sent an owl there to warn them about the twins, so that’s probably not going to work either."

There was a rattle in the corridor outside, and then a knock at the door – the witch pushing the tea trolley was there.

"Anything off the trolley, dears?" she smiled.

"Oh, definitely!" said Harry, making a dive for first his money and then the trolley – the Dursleys had kept him more or less on his bread-and-cheese diet even after he’d returned from Diagon Alley, and he intended to stuff himself with Cauldron Cakes, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and whatever else he could think of. He bought food for the others too (though he refused to buy a Cockroach Cluster for Ron to give to Ginny), and soon they were all happily eating.

"Yuck – paper-flavoured."

"Ooh, look, I got Abigail Williams, she was a big part of the Salem Witch Trials!"

"She wasn’t a witch, was she?"

"Nah, she was a witch-finder, it says. She’s a bit young, isn’t she?"

Hermione spat out her next flavoured jellybean. "Yuck – Lima beans," she said.

"You’re out of luck today, aren’t you?" said Harry. "Here, have a Chocolate Frog." He handed her one and she opened it.

"Ooh, Ron, you wanted Ptolemy, didn’t you?"

"You got Ptolemy?" Ron asked. "I’ve been after him for years..."

"Here," said Hermione instantly, handing the card over. "I don’t need it, I’m not collecting them."

Ron watched the card for a few minutes as the Greek astronomer brandished a telescope furiously, then tucked it away in his pocket. "Thanks, Hermione, I owe you one," he said awkwardly.

Hermione snorted. "Don’t worry, Ron, it was just a bit of luck. I’ll bet you start finding him all over the place now," she said.

Harry opened another Chocolate Frog only to find that the card inside was blank. He stared at it, turning it over and over, even holding it up to the light, but there was nothing on it.

"Here, look at this, there’s no picture on it," he said.

Hermione squinted at the card, then pulled out her wand and tapped it. "Aparecium!" she said, but there was no result. She tried rubbing it with her Revealer, but that didn’t work either. Finally they gave up and Harry put the card away in his pocket just as the train came to a halt. Then they had to stuff their sweets into their pockets and get off the train.

"Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here!" boomed a loud voice. Hagrid waved to them over the heads of the milling crowd and they waved back, then the first years began to move off in a nervous clump and they were left to board the horseless coaches which would take them to the school. Ginny, half-asleep, almost fell asleep again on the way to the school, and Hermione started yawning again. Harry and Ron talked excitedly about this new year.

"Fifth year... d’you think it’ll be as exciting as last year... or the year before.. or..." Ron’s voice trailed off when Harry started laughing.

"Hopefully not," yawned Hermione. "I could do with a nice, relaxing year – but we’ve got to start working really hard this year to prepare for our OWLs, you know."

"Oh, Hermione, go back to sleep," said Ron.

 

vvv

 

"Hermione? Hermione! Pay attention, they’re bringing the first years in!"

Hermione yawned, pushing a strand of brown hair out of her eyes and lifting her head from the table. She yawned again and covered her mouth with her hand guiltily – she was still feeling sluggish, almost unable to move.

"Honestly, Hermione, anyone would think you hadn’t slept for a week." Harry gave his friend an exasperated look and nodded towards the front of the hall where Hagrid was leading the small group of nervous-looking first-years in. Hagrid’s eyes searched the tables until he spotted them, and waved. Harry waved back. So did Ron, who was sitting on Hermione’s other side. Hermione barely had the strength to lift her hand.

The tattered Sorting Hat was brought out and placed on a stool by the diminutive Professor Flitwick. The rip at its brim opened wide like a mouth and it began to sing:

"Some might say that I’m old hat
But I’m no crying shame
For those who I Sort into their place
May find fortune and fame.

The knowledge was put into me
To help you find your future
Though I may look shabby
As a guide you’ll find none better.

I know where to look inside your mind
To find the place you will belong
And I know how to Sort your abilities
To make your powers strong.

Hufflepuff’s children are kind
Ready to help their friends
And if ever something might go wrong
They’re quick to make amends.

Ravenclaw’s people are wise
Intelligence is here the key
Their wit and wisdom makes them strong
Theirs is a learning place to be.

Slytherin’s sort are a tricky kind
Their powers those of cunning
Rest assured, if you cross this type
They will soon send you running.

Gryffindor’s type are mostly brave
Courage and soul are just their style
In Gryffindor you might just fit
And thus go that extra mile.

The Hogwarts’ Houses each are fine
And each have their own talents
Each bring glory, pride and hope
To each of their inhabitants.

So when you put me on I’ll tell you true
Just where you ought to be
And you will find that I’m always right
Just try me out and see!"

A round of applause echoed around the Hall as the hat "bowed" to each table, then settled back, waiting for the first of the new students to come and try it on. Professor McGonagall had moved forward to call out the names of the new students.

"Atkins, Emma!"

An arrogant-looking girl swaggered out of line, black hair swaying, and slipped the hat on.

"SLYTHERIN!"

Emma raced for the Slytherin table, taking her place next to Millicent Bulstrode, who gave her a hug and grinned nastily across at the Gryffindors. The familial resemblance was evident, despite the difference in surname: Harry guessed (correctly, as it happened) that Emma was Millicent’s cousin.

"Caskill, Fiona!"

"RAVENCLAW!"

"DeAngelis, Danielle!"

"HUFFLEPUFF!"

The Sorting went on in this way until the last student ("Singer, Casey!") had been Sorted into Hufflepuff. There were six new Gryffindor students, who huddled at the end of the table. Hermione opened her mouth, about to make some comment about how it had been for them five years ago, when Ron looked puzzled.

"Who’s that?"

Another student, looking no older than the rest of the first years, was standing next to Professor McGonagall, who was waiting impatiently for everyone’s attention. She had fine light blonde hair, blue eyes which were flickering interestedly over everyone in the Great Hall, and was blushing brightly as everyone’s eyes fastened on her. She seemed to shrug the blush off, though, and stood with her back straight and her eyes facing front as Professor McGonagall introduced her.

"This is Kelsey Florence, who is from Lofoten Island in Norway. Sadly, Kelsey is mute, but nonetheless has joined us here at Hogwarts. Despite only being of first-year age, she will be working with the fifth-years in whichever House she is Sorted into. I ask you all to be considerate of Kelsey, and for those of you who know sign language, this will be most helpful in understanding her." She nodded Kelsey forward to the Sorting Hat.

"RAVENCLAW!"

The Ravenclaw table burst into loud applause; Harry saw Cho Chang standing up to wave Kelsey over and went nearly as red as Kelsey had gone when she spotted him and added an extra wave to him. He hastily turned back to his plate, rather wishing he could disappear into it.

"She’s pretty, that girl," commented Hermione. "But a first year working with us... gosh, she must be intelligent!"

"How on Earth are you supposed to do spells if you’re mute? And if she’s such a wonderful witch, why hasn’t someone made her un-mute?" asked Ron, who was looking up at Dumbledore. The Headmaster was making his usual opening speech to the school, which generally consisted of a "Hello and welcome to Hogwarts" before encouraging them all to tuck in. Massive arrays of food appeared on the serving platters, along with large pitchers of iced pumpkin juice and various other drinks. The Hall filled with the sound of many voices as everyone began to chatter, discussing holidays and the coming school year.

"She’s not mute from any normal cause," said Neville Longbottom from across the table. "She got cursed when she was younger and they haven’t found any way to lift it yet."

"How do you know that?" asked Ron, getting stuck into his black pudding.

"It was in the Daily Prophet, when they found out she was coming here. The "Local News" section, written by the new reporter they got in to replace Rita Skeeter, wherever she went," said Neville.

Harry, Ron and Hermione exchanged grins – they knew full well where the obnoxious reporter was. An Animagus, capable of turning into a beetle, Rita had been captured by Hermione near the end of the previous year. Hermione had released her, but the objectionable woman had not yet returned to her job.

"She’ll turn up," said Hermione. "Bad pennies always do."

 

vvv

 

After dinner they headed for the Gryffindor Tower, pausing for a quick chat with the Fat Lady portrait before giving the new password ("willow wand") and going inside to sit around the fire. Harry, Ron, Neville, Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas gathered at the fire to talk over their holidays, but Hermione excused herself and went up to bed, yawning all the way.

"I wonder what’s wrong with her?" said Ron.

"Why, has she been like that all day?" asked Seamus.

"Yeah. She was nearly asleep on the train and at dinner. Hope she’s not sick, it’s not like her," said Ron.

"Yeah. You ready for Quidditch practice? Katie said she’s going to get everyone together tomorrow morning," Dean said. Dean didn’t participate in the Quidditch matches, but was always well up on what was going on. Katie Bell was the new Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, since Oliver Wood had left, and was a Chaser on the team, along with Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet. Fred and George Weasley were the Beaters, Harry was the Seeker, and nobody knew who this year’s Keeper was going to be.

Harry groaned. "Oh, of course. Seems determined to be as tough as Wood, doesn’t she?" he asked. "Never mind, the practice is important. We’re going to win again this year!"

"I bet you do," said Seamus. "We’ve got the best team after all, not to mention the faster Seeker."

Harry went red. "Seamus..."

Seamus just grinned, refusing to say any more on the subject. The talk turned back to what people had been doing over their holidays, not that Harry had much to say on that subject of course, and one by one the boys excused themselves and headed up to bed.

Harry was left alone, staring into the fire and thinking about Cho Chang. This line of thought brought him round to that new girl... Kelsey Florence. She’d seemed so young, and being mute must’ve made life even harder for her. He felt a wave of admiration go through him that this girl had nonetheless worked at her magic and become as good as she had.

Kelsey was a mystery. If she wasn’t able to talk, then how was she able to do spells? Nearly everything he could think of involved some words or a chant. Maybe she was able to sign to her wand, but would that work? Harry left his place at the fire and went slowly up the stairs to bed, still thinking about the elusive Kelsey as he got into his pyjamas and snuggled down into his four-poster bed. Soon he was asleep, the sounds and sights of the day running through his head in a confusing but pleasant dream.

 

v v v

 

Chapter One of "Harry Potter and the Dragon's Nest" written by Seagull Laridae.
Please e-mail me with comments, suggestions or just general chit chat about Harry Potter!
Yes, there is more of this story coming if you, the lovely readers, want it, I am presently up to Chapter Four, but let's just see how well this first instalment is received!

Seagull Laridae is available for comment at seagull_laridae@hotmail.com, and will respond to all comments if possible.

 

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