The Sugar Quill
Author: Lauren Greenleaf (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Harry Potter and the Dragon's Nest  Chapter: Chapter Two: Mute Magic
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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.

***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 chapter to my other faithful reader, Julie. Jules, you so don't belong in Slytherin. Gryffindor's more your style.***

 

Chapter Two: Mute Magic

The first class of the year for the fifth-year Gryffindors was double Potions with the Slytherins and horrible Professor Snape. With his hooked nose, greasy black hair and nasty smile, Snape was easy to dislike. This was made even easier by the fact that he favoured the Slytherins – his own House – over the Gryffindors and was constantly trying to make Harry look bad. Harry was just pleased he’d had the weekend to get used to being back at Hogwarts before he had to face Snape.

A half hour into the lesson, as Snape was hovering over Harry’s shoulder while he boiled his badger bile for an Invisibility Potion, there was a knock at the dungeon door. Draco Malfoy, Harry’s nemesis (one of them, anyway), jumped to open it and stood aside to let Kelsey Florence into the room.

"Ah, Miss Florence," said Snape in an oily voice. "I have been looking forward to meeting you." He moved forward and shook her hand. Kelsey let him, smiling gently, then made some kind of flickering motion with her fingers which set Hermione giggling.

"What?" muttered Ron.

"Hope Snape doesn’t know sign language. She just called him..." Whatever Kelsey had just called Snape was lost in further giggles. Ron looked over at Harry and rolled his eyes. Harry nodded, then turned back to the front. Kelsey had her wand out and made a strange guttural sound in the back of her throat. Harry was struck by a funny feeling that he’d heard it before, but then Kelsey started using the wand and his attention was caught by that. Words were appearing, almost at the speed of normal speech, written in blue lines in midair.

Hello, Professor Snape. Professor Sprout sent me, she wants to know if you have any potion ingredients which need renewing from her greenhouses?

"Yes, Miss Florence... if you don’t mind waiting a moment, I think I’ve left the list in the storeroom..." Snape turned to the class and barked, "Continue your work, and I don’t want any funny business." He then turned and crossed the dungeon to the storeroom.

As soon as he was gone, Malfoy began pretending he was mute, opening and closing his mouth. He stroked his wand, mouthing words, then tried to make the same guttural noise Kelsey had made. His performance being watched so intently by the laughing Slytherins, none of them noticed Kelsey playing with her own wand again.

"Malfoy, you’re horrible," said Hermione heatedly, brandishing her wand furiously. "You wouldn’t treat her like this if she was one of you... not that she’d want to be, stupid Slytherins." This was clearly a stupid thing to say when surrounded by Slytherins, but apparently Hermione didn’t care. She caught Kelsey’s eye and signed something to her across the room. Kelsey shook her head firmly and signed back, a devilish grin appearing on her pretty face.

"What are you doing, Granger?" Pansy Parkinson inquired. "Telling her how to be a complete nerd?" The Slytherins all laughed. Hermione went crimson and suddenly shouted "NOW!" at the top of her lungs.

And suddenly the Slytherins all went silent. Then their hands flew to their faces, their arms, their legs, and they all started scratching madly, leaping to their feet

"Ow!" Pansy yelled.

"I itch!" said Crabbe, one of Malfoy’s offsiders, tearing at his cheeks.

"My arms!" Malfoy said, scratching at them with his wand. It spat green sparks and he hastily dropped it and just used his hand.

Hermione and Kelsey stood, facing each other across the classroom, identical grins on their faces as they watched the squirming Slytherins. The Gryffindors were hooting and howling at their classmates’ plight, when –

"What is going on here?"

Snape had returned.

Hermione nodded hastily to Kelsey, and Kelsey raised her wand behind her back, letting out another guttural sound. Suddenly all the Slytherins stopped scratching, looked sheepish, and sat back down. Hermione exchanged a last signed word with Kelsey, something which made the Scandinavian laugh soundlessly, then sat back down.

"Miss Granger."

Hermione looked up just as Snape thumped a thin hand down onto her desk. "I can only assume you had something to do with this," he said softly. "Since you have your wand in your hand, of course. What was it? A hex? A curse?"

Kelsey started tapping her wand on Snape’s desk, frantically trying to get his attention, but Hermione nodded. "Yes, Professor Snape," she said almost inaudibly.

"Yes what?"

Hermione paused before answering. "A hex," she said finally. Harry caught the motion of Kelsey’s hands and guessed she had given Hermione the answer.

Snape practically purred with satisfaction. "Fifteen points from Gryffindor," he said. "And, Miss Granger, you will remain behind after class for a detention." Hermione flushed red, but said nothing, watching Snape hand over the supplies list to Kelsey. As Kelsey left the room she signed one last thing to Hermione and Hermione nodded.

"What just happened?" Harry asked as soon as the class had been relatively returned to normal and Snape was over the other side of the room criticising Neville.

Hermione took a long time in answering. "It was me," she said eventually. "I did it."

"You never, it was Kelsey," said Ron. "We saw her."

Hermione nodded. "But," she said, "it was me. I asked her to do it, and she did it. It was only right that I take the blame."

"You lost us fifteen points," said Harry, not that it mattered much to him. "And you got a detention!"

Hermione shrugged. "What does it matter?" she asked. "If he’d realised it was her, she’d be back home before you could say bat, and you know he’d never listen to us if we tried to tell him what Malfoy was up to."

"Dumbledore would," said Harry.

"He might, yes, but you know Snape’d make life hell for poor Kelsey, not that she hasn’t got it bad enough already," said Hermione. She grinned cheekily all of a sudden. "He already makes my life hell, so I haven’t got anything to worry about!"

*******

Hermione had her detention during break, and then Harry and Ron had Divination, so they didn’t see her to find out how it went. At lunchtime, however, she was seething, and seemed quite ready to explode.

"Bat droppings," she said before they could ask anything as they sat down at the lunch table.

"Pardon?" asked Harry.

"Bat droppings. He made me catalogue bat droppings for half an hour. Sorting them by size. If I ever had to drink a potion with bat droppings in it, I’d be sick. And I was late for my Arithmancy class, Professor Vector was quite vexed."

There was a tap on Hermione’s shoulder and she turned around. Kelsey was standing there, Cho Chang just behind her. Hermione smiled and Kelsey grinned, and the two started into a flurry of signing back and forth. Hermione apparently didn’t want to say what she had to say out loud, although Kelsey was perfectly capable of hearing her.

"Hi, Ron. Hi, Harry," Cho Chang said.

"G’day, Cho," said Ron offhandedly.

"Er... hi," said Harry, feeling his face flush red. Cho smiled at him, which only, of course, made it worse.

"Have you had Quidditch practice yet?" she asked.

"Um, yes, first thing every morning," Harry said. "You?"

"We’ve booked the pitch for this afternoon," Cho said. "We would’ve booked it this morning, but Katie had already put your team down. She’s a good Chaser."

"So are you – a good Seeker, a good player, I mean," Harry stammered.

Cho smiled again, then touched Kelsey’s arm. "Ready to go?" she asked her.

Kelsey used her wand. Nearly. Just want to tell Hermione goodbye. She did so, fingers flying, then leaned down and hugged the older girl. Hermione hugged her back, then waved goodbye as Cho led Kelsey back to the Ravenclaw table.

"What were you talking about?" Ron asked.

"She was just thanking me for this morning," Hermione said. "She said she owes me a favour now, but I told her not to worry. Then she was telling me a little bit about herself. She likes talking in sign rather than spells because it’s easier for her, but not very many people know sign."

"You do," said Harry.

"Yes, I learned it when I was younger, at Muggle school. One of the boys in the class was deaf-mute, and besides, I liked knowing a secret language," Hermione explained.

"Oh, right. How does she do her spells?" Ron asked.

"She said she can’t tell me. She said Dumbledore advised her against telling anyone. Not only is she at a fifth-year knowledge level, she also acts like one of us. If I didn’t know she was only eleven, I’d think she was just small for her age," Hermione said. "Of course, she does look a little older, and that’s not just because she’s in with us," she added.

"Why is it?" asked Harry.

"Look at her ears," Hermione said cryptically.

Harry and Ron looked. As Kelsey ate her lunch with one hand, using her wand to "talk" with the other, her hair swayed over her ears. Finally she tossed her head, and they could see what Hermione said. Under the blonde hair, Kelsey’s ears were slightly pointed – not a lot, but enough to be noticeable if you had it pointed out to you.

"They’re pointed," said Harry slowly. "Is she part elf?"

"She’s a half-elf," said Hermione proudly. "Her father is a powerful Norse wizard and her mother is an elf, and she gets extra height from her."

"I thought elves were little, like Dobby and Winky," Ron said. Dobby and Winky were two of the house-elves who served Hogwarts, keeping the place clean, making the food, and doing countless other jobs around the place. Hermione’s lips tightened at the mention of them – she just couldn’t understand how these elves, house-elves to be exact, could possibly want to work without being paid.

"They’re house-elves, Ron," she said impatiently. "Real elves are tall. Taller than us. And they have pointed ears like Kelsey. Besides, she told me." She shook her head, then started eating her sandwich ravenously, though Harry heard her mumble "Bat droppings!" more than once over the rest of the lunch break.

*******

The last lesson of the day was Transfiguration with their Head of House, Professor McGonagall. For once she wasn’t chivvying them into turning a hedgehog into a pincushion, or a teapot into a tortoise, but instead set them to reading a new chapter in their Transfiguration books and copying some notes down from the blackboard. It was comparably easy work, and even Neville had finished when the lesson ended.

"What’s all this about?" Harry asked as they left the room, books tucked under their arms. He’d barely understood a word of what he’d been writing.

Hermione looked excited. "The chapter after this is about human Transfiguration," she said. "I think Professor McGonagall might be starting us early on it!"

"We don’t do that till sixth year," said Ron dismissively.

"Oh Ron, that’s why I said "early". Wouldn’t it be exciting to be able to transform into things? You might even be able to become an Animagus!" Hermione grinned.

"That would be pretty good," agreed Ron.

"But what would you want to turn into?" said Harry. "I’d want to turn into something big, like a tiger. Imagine Malfoy’s face!"

Hermione giggled. "I’d rather not," she said, "but I know what you mean. I think I’d turn into something like a fly. They can go anywhere and not be suspected."

"You’d get swatted," said Ron. "I’d be an owl, they go everywhere in here anyway, and you’re not likely to have someone flatten you."

"Pity someone hasn’t flattened you already, Weasley," broke in Malfoy’s voice from behind them. "Make it easier on your parents... one less mouth to feed."

"Bet it’s hard on your parents," said Harry, "with your big mouth to feed."

"You think you’re smart, don’t you, Potter? Surprised your Mudblood’s not fighting for you, though... she did enough during Potions..." Malfoy smirked nastily.

"You leave Hermione alone!" Ron yelled.

Malfoy snickered and raised his wand. Harry grabbed at his own wand, but all Malfoy did was spit red sparks at them, which singed Harry’s hands. Hermione hissed, so they’d hit her too. Crabbe and Goyle, flanking Malfoy, raised their wands and grinned unpleasantly.

"What’s going on here?"

Professor McGonagall’s voice was welcome. The Slytherins slunk off, hiding their wands rapidly, as the Professor looked keenly at them.

"Did they do anything?" she asked Harry. For answer, Harry raised his hands, where a few small blisters were beginning to show. Professor McGonagall tsk’ed, then smiled.

"You should go to Madam Pomfrey," she said. "You too, Miss Granger," she added as Hermione held up her own hands. "Did they get you, Mr Weasley?"

"No, Professor," said Ron.

"Good. So you didn’t retaliate at all?" she suddenly shot at them.

Harry blinked.

"No, Professor," said Hermione. "Why?"

"Let me see... I think five points each to Gryffindor for refusing to be provoked." Professor McGonagall smiled again, then waved them off to the hospital wing.

*******

"That was jolly nice of her," Ron said later as they sat at the dinner table.

"Yes," agreed Harry, "but I wonder why she did it?"

"Probably because it was the first time she didn’t see you and Malfoy trying to turn each other into beetles," said Hermione around a mouthful of pumpkin juice. She swallowed. "I mean, usually the instant he goes for his wand you’re after him. Why not this time?"

"I wasn’t fast enough, and then when it was only sparks..." Harry said. He raised his bandaged hand – his wand hand. "I didn’t think it’d blister. Are your hands OK, Hermione?"

Hermione looked ruefully down at them. "They’re itchy from that lotion Madam Pomfrey put on, but I think they’ll be all right," she said. "Only I’ve got Arithmancy homework, and I wanted to get it done tonight."

"I’ll help," said Ron surprisingly. "If you tell me what to write, I’ll write it for you."

Hermione looked at him. "Really? Well, all right," she said. "I really want to get it done, so if you don’t mind..."

Ron went slightly red. "Of course I don’t mind," he mumbled. Then he stuffed his mouth full of food before he could say another word.

Kelsey passed by the table and leaned over to say something to Hermione, fingers flying.

"Malfoy attacked us," Hermione said. She pointed him out. "Remember, he was the one who..." She started signing, a little clumsily because of the bandages, and Kelsey nodded. Then she raised her wand and made a noise in the back of her throat, touching the wand first to Hermione’s hands, then rubbing it over Harry’s bandage.

"Hey..."

"It’s not itching any more..."

"Kelsey, what did you do?" Harry asked.

The wand wrote. Fixed it.

"Yes, but how?" asked Ron.

A spell I learned from my father.

"You should tell Madam Pomfrey," said Hermione. "It could be very useful to her."

Kelsey shrugged, then shook her head. Not supposed to tell. You can take those bandages off now. And with that, she whisked off towards the Ravenclaw table, where Cho Chang was keeping her place.

"That’s amazing," said Harry, beginning to unwind his bandage. "There’s no sign of blistering or anything."

Hermione dragged her own bandages off. "I can’t believe it," she said, looking down at her unmarked hands. "No wonder we’ve got to keep all this a secret from the Muggles... can you imagine if they found out about Kelsey? She wouldn’t get a minute’s peace..."

"Like we never get from you," said Ron smartly.

Hermione dropped her bandage on his head as she got up. "I’m just going to run up to..."

"... the library," chorused Harry and Ron. Hermione went red, seemed about to say something, then just walked quickly away. They saw her speak briefly to Kelsey on the way out of the room, and then she was gone.

"Wonder what she’s going to read this time?" asked Ron.

"I dunno," said Harry. "Probably something about healing spells... or Scandinavia... or both." He started cutting up his chicken and forking it into his mouth bite by bite, and though Ron looked like he’d like to continue the discussion, he didn’t.

*******

They were sitting in the Gryffindor common room later that evening when Hermione finally came back from the library, a thin book tucked under her arm.

"Hello, you two," she said brightly. "Ron, still want to help me with my Arithmancy homework?"

"I don’t mind," said Ron, "but what did you go to the library for?"

"Oh, just wanted to look something up," Hermione said vaguely. "I’ll just run up and get my books." With that she disappeared up the stairs towards the girls’ room, leaving Harry and Ron to exchange puzzled glances.

"What’s she up to?" Ron asked.

"Dunno," said Harry. "You might try and find out, though, you’re working with her."

"Aren’t you staying down here?"

Harry held up the book Hermione had given him for his birthday. "I just want to finish this chapter, and then I’m going up to bed. Katie’s booked the Quidditch pitch again tomorrow morning, and I’d like a decent night’s sleep if I’m going to be flying in the morning."

"Fair enough," Ron nodded.

Hermione returned at that moment, her Arithmancy book, roll of parchment, and quill all balanced in her arms. Crookshanks the orange cat was oiling his way around her ankles, nearly causing her to trip about four times as she crossed the room. She dumped her books on the table and she and Ron settled down to work.

Harry turned the pages of his book, but his attention kept returning to the pair: red head and brown head bent over the paper, the light of the fire sending alternating shadows and light patterns dancing over them. Hermione had almost golden strands in her hair which the firelight picked out, and Ron’s hair was the same: it looked like a flame which had escaped the fireplace.

"I’m heading up to bed," he said presently, and was answered only by a "Mmmm," from Hermione and a "See you later," from Ron. Pausing at the bottom of the stairs, Harry looked back to see them totally absorbed in their work... or was it something else?

*******

Quidditch practice the next morning was fast and furious. Harry raced for the Golden Snitch what seemed like eighty times, each time capturing the small ball with its furiously beating wings firmly in one hand. Their new Keeper was a sixth-year he didn’t know named Danica Adams, a tall girl who kept Fred, Angelina and Alicia (who were acting as the opposition) from scoring at every turn. George kept the single Bludger away from Harry, often hitting it directly at his twin. Katie zoomed all over the place, yelling directions and praise.

When they finally landed, the twins were sweating and even Harry had to wipe his forehead. Danica was applauded by everyone, as this was her first practice since she’d only arrived the night before. Ron and Hermione, in the stands, applauded the loudest.

"Nice one, Dan," Katie said, slinging an arm around her shoulders. She looked around at her team. "Now, we want to play like that against Slytherin and Ravenclaw. Hufflepuff don’t matter so much, they’re a load of duffers, but the other two are the ones to watch out for."

On the other side of the pitch a group of seven students dressed in Slytherin green walked out onto the grass. Katie subtly moved the Gryffindor team away, until they were on the path back to the castle.

"They’ll play nasty this year," she said. "I just know it." Judging by the look on her face, she was sure she was right, and nobody wanted to argue.

"That’s OK, Katie," said Fred. "We can beat them any time... if they want to be slimy they’re only going to slip off their brooms anyway." There was a laugh at this, and Harry risked a glance back to see if the Slytherins had heard. Malfoy, the smallest of the team, had one fist raised and seemed to be yelling something, but what it was they couldn’t hear, and didn’t care.

"That’s the spirit, Fred," said Angelina. "We can beat them, we can get the Cup, and anyone who doesn’t agree shouldn’t even be on this team." She glared around. "Am I right?"

"YOU’RE RIGHT!" everyone cheered. As they walked back towards the castle for breakfast Harry looked back again to see the Slytherins staring after them, and he honestly didn’t care.

*******

After breakfast was the most boring class on their timetable (apart from Divination), History of Magic. Professor Binns was the most interesting thing about the class because he was a ghost. Rumour had it that one day he’d headed for the classroom to teach, and simply left his body behind in the staffroom. It hadn’t impaired his teaching style much – it was as dead as he was. The only vaguely interesting thing about him was that each day he entered the classroom through the blackboard, but even the novelty of this wore off after a while.

Harry, Ron and Hermione sat in an interested-looking row near the back, facing the front and pretending to listen. Harry scribbled on a bit of parchment and flipped it over to Ron.

What d’you think of Danica Adams? Good Keeper, hey?

Ron wrote back.

She’s good all right, she’ll work well with the rest of the team. Does she like you people?

Yeah, of course! Katie recommended her, and I reckon she was right.

"What are you two doing?" Hermione hissed. "Professor Binns is giving you a pretty suspicious look, you know."

Harry looked up to see the ghost wavering at the front of the room looking sternly at him and Ron. Guiltily he copied down a few dates from the blackboard, though he wasn’t certain what was meant to be so wonderful about the relationship between witchcraft and World War One. There didn’t seem to be one, and Professor Binns was quite proud of this.

"With all the scheming, with all the killing and fights that broke out over witchcraft, especially in regards to the Salem witch trials of 1692, it’s a stroke of luck that we were not implicated in any of the big wars of the Muggle world," he droned.

Ron nudged Hermione. "Wonder if he’s the reincarnation of Abigail Williams?" he whispered, and Hermione couldn’t help but laugh. The image of the Professor in the old-fashioned peasant’s dresses of the era was just too much for her.

"Miss Granger! Are you paying attention?" Professor Binns said.

"Yes, sir," Hermione said hastily, sitting up straight and trying to look attentive. Harry grinned to himself – at some point or other the whole school had had to perfect the art of pretending to attend to Professor Binns, and from what he could see, Hermione had it down pat. The Professor turned back to his blackboard, and Hermione nearly fell asleep with her eyes open as he continued to ramble on. Harry caught her eye and shook his head mock-disapprovingly, and Hermione waved him away regally.

*******

Surprisingly, Ron seemed to have learnt something from the class.

"What he was trying to say, I think, was that in a lot of cases where people suspected witchcraft, there weren’t really any witches involved," he said.

"Of course not," Hermione scoffed, "they’d be far too intelligent to let themselves be caught and killed." She shifted her books from under one arm to the other and nearly tripped over the trailing end of her bootlace. She knelt to fix it and her wand slipped from under her robes and fell on the floor. "Oh, bother!" she said crossly.

"Here, let me help you with that," Ron said, taking her books and adding them to his own pile. Hermione smiled at him gratefully and Harry was struck by a sudden thought. Ron had stayed back to help Hermione with her Arithmancy homework the night before –

– but Hermione’s hands had already been healed.

Harry simply added this to his list of things to not bother thinking about unless they turned serious – he’d rather think about Quidditch than wonder why Ron was acting so strangely.

"So what were you looking up in the library last night?" he asked Hermione as a change of subject.

Hermione stood up. "Just this and that," she said vaguely.

"Oh, go on, tell us," Ron said.

"If you must know, I was trying to find out what sort of a spell could let Kelsey be such a good healer," Hermione said. "She’s such a young girl, and yet she’s so talented..."

"How does she cast her spells, anyway?" Ron asked as they continued on their way back to Gryffindor Tower. "She seems to be speaking some kind of language, but if she’s supposed to be mute..."

"She is mute, but that’s no ordinary language," Hermione said. "Even I don’t know what it is, though – they’ve never said anything about it, not even in that feature The Daily Prophet did on her."

"It sounds sort of familiar, though," Harry said thoughtfully. "Like I’ve heard it before..."

"Well, you’re the expert on languages, aren’t you?" Ron asked idly. "You’re the Parselmouth, after all."

Harry stopped stock-still. "Ron, you’ve got it!" he yelled, making a couple of first-years nearby jump and look curiously at him. "It’s not Parseltongue, but it sounds like it... Hermione, can you find out if there are any other animal languages like that?"

Hermione looked downcast. "I could try, Harry," she said, "but there are millions of species of animal, how would I ever possibly work it out?"

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

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