The Sugar Quill
Author: Doctor Aicha (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Better Than Butterbeer  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.

***

 

Hermione Granger was at it again. Ron Weasley and Harry Potter were engrossed in a game of chess when she came into the Burrow's sitting room with a large stack of books. "Term starts in less than two weeks and you've got loads of homework yet," she said to the boys. "I've only got my Potions essay and I'm done, but you two haven't done anything. And we've got O.W.L.S. this year."

Ron looked at Harry, who grinned, and they pushed the chessboard to the side. "No use putting her off, she's been at us all week," Harry said.

Ron grinned. Harry was right. Hermione and Harry had arrived at the Burrow more than a week earlier, and the boys had managed to avoid homework thus far. However, Hermione looked very determined - and, he reasoned, if they'd put up a good show today, maybe she'd let them alone for a while. "Let me get a quill and parchment," Ron said, as he stood.

When he returned with the required implements, he curled into a corner of the couch with his Transfigurations text. "Discuss the theory of human transfiguration with Polyjuice Potion." Ron wondered why McGonagall and Snape couldn't get together and accept one essay for both classes. Anyway, this would be an easy one to write. He knew this one.

He grinned. Harry was writing diligently on his roll of parchment. Hermione, too, was concentrating on her homework. Ron stuck the end of his quill in the corner of his mouth, tasting the sugar for a moment before he bit down. Sugar quills were meant to almost melt in your mouth, but this one didn't. It was hard. Really, really hard. Like… rock candy.

"Ouch!" he exclaimed, spitting the broken quill into his hand. He also noticed something in a slightly different color… his tooth was in his hand A bit of it anyway - evidently he'd broken it. He moaned as a sick feeling washed over him. The pain was intense.

"What's the matter?" Hermione asked. Ron clutched at his cheek and held his hand out for her to see the tooth. "You've broken a tooth! How in the world…"

He held out the remainder of the quill. "A sugar quill… but they aren't hard enough to break teeth…."

Ron moaned, pulling her back from the mystery of the too-hard sugar quill. "Oh, that must hurt. We've got to get you to a dentist."

"Dr. Bennett," Ron forced out. He felt like he was going to pass out. The wizard dentist in Diagon Alley could fix him up.

"How are we going to contact him? We haven't got any of that kind of Floo powder. Ooo, I wish your Mum was here!" Mrs. Weasley had gone to Hogsmeade to visit an old school chum and buy a few supplies.

Ron glanced at Harry, who was looking a bit green around the gills. Evidently, Harry didn't like the dentist any more than Ron did.

Hermione was pacing around the room. "I'm taking you to Mum and Daddy," she told Ron. "Harry, stay here and tell Mrs. Weasley where we've gone." As Harry nodded, She took Ron's tooth from his hand and pocketed it. "Might need that," she said. "Now come on, we've got to get you to a dentist."

Moments later, Hermione stepped out of the fire in her parents' sitting room and Ron tumbled out behind her. He'd barely managed to get the name right, and had almost ended up in the wrong grate.

Hermione tucked her wand in her jeans and told Ron to follow her. He couldn't walk up to the High Street in those robes, so she was determined to get him into some of her Dad's things.

Ron was nauseous from the pain and from the fear he was feeling. What if the Muggle dentist was even worse than the Wizard one was?

Hermione waited impatiently in the hall outside the toilet. Ron was taking forever to change clothes. She had the cordless telephone in her hand, and she was talking to her Mum.

"He just did it. He bit into something… Yes, something hard… yes, it was sweets…. I know, Mum, I wasn't having any… we'll be over straight away…. He's changing now…. He was wearing his robes… Anyway here he is so we'll be right down… Okay Mum… Love you too…"

Hermione pressed the button on the phone and directed her next words at a positively white Ron. He was so pale his freckles were standing out away from his skin. "Relax. My Mum is going to have a look. She'll fix you right up."

She put a hand up on his shoulder and squeezed, smiling at him reassuringly. Their eyes met, and through the pain Ron felt his stomach do a little flip. Fear, he reasoned.

*****

As they walked through Hermione's neighborhood toward the High Street, Ron found himself looking around at the quiet houses and small shops lining the road. He was hoping he'd get to have a look in some of them - if not today, then maybe he could get Hermione to invite him after they left school.

Ron entered Hermione's parents' office with trepidation. He didn't like the dentist, even the Wizard one, and this one was bound to be really unnatural, as they were Muggles. Stupid rule anyway, about underaged wizardry. He could have fixed it himself. Or at least numbed the pain.

The receptionist, and elderly lady with purple-toned hair, looked at Ron quizzically before she turned her attention to Hermione. "Hermione, dear, what are you doing here?" she asked. "Your Dad said you'd gone to stay with a schoolmate."

"Oh, er, Mrs. Kelley, this is my friend, Ron. He's broken a tooth and Mum said to get him right over. We, er, took the train down this morning."

With that, purple-hair turned a brilliant smile on Ron. "Of course, dear, you're the emergency Dr. Ward-Granger said was coming in. And you must be Hermione's schoolmate. How lovely."

Purple-hair looked as if she'd have gone on, but Hermione's Mum came out of the back room. She was dressed in a long white coat of some kind - looks like robes, Ron thought - and she was smiling at the both of them. "Go right back, dear, go into room three. I've just set it up for the X-rays," she said to Hermione.

Evidently Hermione understood what her Mum was on about. X-rays? What in the world…? Ron thought, but Hermione looked unperturbed. This is going to be worse than the broken tooth, he thought.

She led him into a small room with a sort of reclining chair and lots of silvery metal objects. A bright light over head and to lights on extension arms made it as bright as the sun. He reckoned they must be electric. A weird machine sat to the left of the chair. Ron began to feel like he was going to be sick.

"You sit in the chair. Mum's going to use that -" she'd pointed at the odd machine "to look at your teeth and figure what to do."

"Like Mad-Eye's eyeball," Ron commented, trying to stay calm.

Hermione grinned. "Quite like it, actually, you'll see." She made herself comfortable in a small chair in the corner. "Don't worry," she said once again. "Mum will fix you right up and you'll have quite a story for your Dad."

Ron lay back in the chair with his eyes closed. He breathed very deeply, trying not to give in to the urge to run screaming out of the building. This would be a great chair to have around, he thought, if it wasn't attached to all these odd things.

Hermione's Mum bustled in and put a square bit of metal-tasting paper in his mouth. It was all he could do not to gag. "You've broken a canine, dear, I need to get a quick X-ray to see how badly affected it is before I fix you up," she told him. Hermione had to leave the room, and her Mum put a very heavy blanket thing on top of him. "To protect you from the X-rays, dear," she'd said.

The X-rays didn't hurt at all. Ron was surprised, after all that preparation. In only moments, Hermione and her Mum had come back into the room with a sheet of small black squares, which had odd, ghost-like shapes on them.

"These are your teeth, dear," Dr. Ward-Granger told him. "This is the gum line -" she indicated with her small finger "- and this is the broken tooth. She examined the film very closely. "It's not too bad, dear, but we are going to have to put a temporary fix on and have you back next week for a crown."

"But -" Ron began. I think I'm going to pass out.

"No buts, dear, we'll submit it to the NHS and your parents won't have to pay for it. You must have this done or it won't stop hurting.

"But," he tried again, "Wizard dentists -" Oh God, I have to get out of here.

He didn't get far with that one either. "Magic and teeth don't mix, Ron," Dr. Ward-Granger told him sternly. "Hermione," she said, "please go out to reception and wait there.

Ron wished Hermione could have stayed in the room.

Dr. Ward-Granger picked up a long stick with a bit of cotton on the end of it. She stuck the cotton end in a small tub of something that looked rather like jam. "This will numb you up for the shot. Open up," she instructed. Ron decided that the jam couldn't be too bad, and did as he was told.

The odd tasting substance made his lip and his gum numb in only moments. She turned away for a moment, and when she turned back, she had a long needle in her hands. "Novocaine," she said, as if that explained it.

"No way are you going to put that thing in me," Ron said. "No way." When Hell freezes over, maybe.

"Nonsense, it's not going to hurt. Why, you're already numb."

"You're mad, I'm not having that needle shoved into my mouth!" Ron was getting slightly hysterical. He crossed his arms and clamped his mouth shut.

"Ow!" he exclaimed, raising his hand to his cheek. From now on, you must shut your mouth gently, Weasley.

"Am I going to have to get Hermione to come in here and pry your mouth open?" Dr. Ward-Granger asked, her mouth pursed in a decidedly Hermione-like way. At least I know where she gets it, Ron thought.

"I'm not having that needle!" he all but yelled.

"Yes, you are, if I have to get Hermione in here to show her how afraid you are, I will," she told him firmly. She opened the door then, as if to call for her daughter.

"All right, all right!" Ron gave in. He didn't want Hermione to know he was afraid. Besides, he was a Gryffindor! He was brave, he was able to handle this… he was terrified. She made him open his mouth and then she gave him the shot in the numbed place. It didn't hurt, much, but the sensation spreading through his mouth was unbearable… like someone had injected him with a bit of one of Neville's potions. Or maybe something Snape used in his hair. After a moment, though, that side of his face began to go alarmingly numb. "What's wrong with my face?" he stammered.

"It's the novocaine, dear, it will wear off in an hour or two," she said, in what Ron assumed to be a reassuring way. It wasn't, though, and his face felt really peculiar. He couldn't tell if his mouth was open or closed, and he had the dreadful feeling that he was drooling down that side of his chin.

Dr. Ward-Granger went to work, with an assistant who'd come in to hand her small, terrifying looking tools while he gripped the arms of the chair very tightly and fought the urge to be sick. The worst was an odd tube that the assistant kept sticking in his mouth and sucking his tongue into. It was strange. What was she doing to his tongue? Had he hurt it, too? Every muscle in his body was tense, and he felt like he would rather face Voldemort than Dr. Ward-Granger. He wanted to cry. He wanted his Mum. I should have been sorted into Hufflepuff.

Out in reception, Hermione had picked up a magazine to read. An hour or so later, Ron emerged, looking a bit worse for wear. He flopped down in a chair, not saying a word, which was odd, for Ron.

Her Mum popped out, saying, "Now, come back next week and we'll finish you up."

Still Ron didn't speak.

"Okay, Mum, I'll tell Mrs. Weasley we've got to come back next week. I'll see you then, ok?"

Hermione hustled a still-silent Ron out the door and into the High Street. "What's the matter?" she asked.

Ron shook his head.

Hermione frowned. "What's wrong?" she asked again.

"Fathe is numb," he finally said.

She laughed. "Is that all?"

"One whole thide of my fathe is numb and you laugh?" he grumbled. "I'm thpitting when I try to thpeak."

Hermione grinned. Ron's lisp was very endearing.

Once they'd gotten back to her house, Hermione let Ron look around a bit. He came out of her parents' spare room and started to open the next door. Before she could stop him, he was inside. And it was her room. Ron. Was. In. Her. Room. She followed him within.

Ron looked around. This was Hermione's room, without doubt. One wall was filled with tidy bookcases, and another held a very large bed. Ron didn't allow his gaze to fall on her bed. That was… too much to think about. His… friend's bed.

Then he noticed something very, very curious.

Hermione had a Cannons poster on her wall.

He spun around to face her. "When did you become a Cannonth fan, Hermione?" he asked, his pain forgotten, his lisp unnoticed.

She chewed on her lower lip, and she didn't meet his eyes. "Well, you know. You l-, er, you and Harry love them, and it reminds me of, er… you two."

Ron smiled. Hermione never had been a good liar. He took a step toward her. "Hermione," he said, forcing her to look up. "Why do you have a Cannonth poster on your wall?"

She didn't answer, and she didn't appear to have heard a word he'd said. Merlin's wand, she was cute when she was embarrassed. Maybe she had that poster because of…. because of him.

Ron couldn't say why he did it, later. Maybe it was the novocaine affecting his brain. He took another step closer to her, breathed, "Hermione," and sort of bumped into her lips with his.

He was kissing his best friend. His best girl friend. Or rather, his best female friend. No matter. She was kissing him back. Kissing her was like drinking pumpkin juice after a long summer Quidditch practice. Ron wondered what it would be like if he could feel with more than half his lips. He wasn't even sure whether the numb half his face was even kissing her.

Hermione made a noise then. It wasn't a pleased noise, and Ron let her go, abruptly. She was wiping something off of her face.

Oh my God. I've drooled on her. He was mortified, and his ears had skipped red and gone straight to burgundy. I kissed her and I drooled on her.

He turned his face then. "Um, my Mum's probably worried. Let's go back to the Burrow," he mumbled, without looking at her.

When then stepped out of the fireplace, Molly Weasley rushed to assure herself that Ron was all right. Hermione explained about returning in a week to have the crown put on his tooth, and Mrs. Weasley was quick to point out that wizard dentists also used porcelain crowns, although they didn't have to wait a week to have them fabricated. "So it's just as well, dear, that Hermione thought to take you to her Mum straight away."

"But what happened? Harry said you bit into a sugar quill, and they can't beak teeth," Molly said.

Ron brought the offending quill from the sitting room and gave it to his mother. "It's been hexed, Ron," she said.

"FRED! GEORGE! GET DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!" she bellowed.

****

A week later, Ron was sure Hermione had forgotten about the incident in her bedroom, but he certainly hadn't. They were going back to her parents' office to have his tooth crowned, and Ron was quite nervous. It was only partly because of the dentist, however. His Mum had taken Harry to see Sirius somewhere Hogsmeade and his father was working, so Hermione and he had gone alone. She seemed perfectly normal, but he felt as if his very skin was jumpy.

Hermione's Mum hadn't had to use any novocaine when she removed the temporary crown and put the permanent one in. Mercifully, he wasn't numb.

"Thank Merlin she didn't give me another one of those injections," he said to Hermione, by way of making conversation, as the walked through her garden to her front door.

"You were very funny, last week, with your "fathe numb," she giggled.

Ron grinned. "Sure, and you like being drooled on," he said without thinking.

He could have kicked himself. I didn't say that. I didn't say it out loud. I couldn't have.

But he had. Hermione stopped on her front steps, looking down at the welcome mat, as if considering what to say. "Um. It's not so bad," she murmured.

She unlocked the door and stepped into her parents' hall. Ron followed her inside, thinking about what she meant. She meant she liked kissing you, you great idiot, he thought. Are you a Gryffindor or not?

He reached out and took her arm, and she stopped, and turned toward him. He took a deep breath, and said, "Hermione, do you - you know - like me, or what?" She didn't reply. She looked a bit stunned, however, and her cheeks were getting an interesting red splotch on them. "Because I reckon I fancy you."

She smiled then. He took a step toward her, and smiled. He leaned in. Her pupils were dilated, and her breath seemed to be coming in the same short bursts as his. "I won't drool on you, this time," he murmured, before he closed the last inches to her mouth.

This was sweeter than sugar quills, better than butterbeer. This was kissing Hermione, and he never wanted to stop.

 

 

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