The Sugar Quill
Author: Bittersweet  Story: Ham and Cheese  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 wizarding world belongs to JK Rowling, I'm just spending too much time there... my beta reader whose help has made this tale so much better. Thanksss,amigo

Leaves rustled and blew about the garden outside the Burrow. The weather was dry, breezy and mild for the first week of November, as young Percy Weasley chased his toddler brother Ron away from the frog pond -- again! -- then out of the chicken shed.

His mother had asked him to help keep his younger brothers out of trouble for the next few weeks while she recovered from the birth of Ginny, the first Weasley girl. Percy groused, but he knew his task was easier today. The twins had been sent over to the Jordans's house for the afternoon so Mrs Weasley could get some rest. Percy had had enough of chasing Ron away from the frog pond, where he appeared determined to swim no matter what. Percy picked up Ron and carried him piggy-back into the kitchen where he cut up an apple and made a ham sandwich to share.

Percy could hear his new little sister's wails upstairs and Ron began to make sniffling noises and call "Mama". Percy, knowing that his mother could do without another wailing baby, lead little Ron out into the yard again. They sat on the back step: Ron fully distracted by the sandwich and apple. Percy picked up one of Charlie's old Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle comics to try to read a page while they ate. As Percy became absorbed in his reading, Ron walked a few steps off the porch and sat down hunched over something. Shortly Percy was jolted out of the comic as Ron squeeled and began to jabber, calling "Burpie!", which was Ron's baby talk name for Percy.

Percy came around Ron to find his baby brother sitting with a large grey rat on his lap. This rat looked like he had been mauled by a dog. The rat's eyes were cloudy, he had numerous scabs and his movements were rather feeble, but he was friendly, acting like he was used to people. The rat sat and stared at the ham sandwich as Ron took another bite, then put his sandwich down for the rat to eat. The rat ate the sandwich rapidly like he was very hungry, and gazed at it hopefully when Ron lifted the sandwich back to his own mouth. Ron took another bite from his sandwich. He pulled the rat close with one arm into a hug, the rat shuddered -- being squeezed with his injuries -- but remained calm. Then Ron released the rat and lowered the sandwich again for the rat to eat. Percy looked in amazement at Ron and the rat. Ron broke into babbling again, "Burpie! Abbla habbady bun-bun!" Percy crouched down and lifted up Ron's sandwich away from the rat's mouth. Percy pulled a bit of ham from his own sandwich held it out to the rat. The rat took it and began to eat it ravenously.

Ron squealed,"Burpie! Bun-bun!. Percy finally spoke, his eyes fixed on the rat," That's no bunny, Ron, that's a rat." Ron looked up at Percy with big round eyes and said with enthusiasum. "Rat!". "That's right, Ron. He hasn't bit you or anything?....He's really big." Percy looked closer at the rat, the rat looked back. "You know what I think? I think he's somebody's pet that got lost."

Ron bounced up and down, saying proudly, "Rat!". Percy picked the rat up off Ron's lap, where he had been desperately clutching to stay on amid the bouncing, and looked him over. The rat having finished the piece of ham was nosing gently at Percy's fingers. Percy laughed at the tickling whiskers, then he noticed the rat's right front paw had a missing toe and he took a close look at the left ear that was tattered and clotted with blood and the rat's many scabbed over cuts. "Poor guy" , Percy said sadly, then he looked at Ron with a bright expression. "Hey Ron, what do you think we should keep him and help him get better?" Ron bounced up and down and said loudly. "Yes! Rat-Rat!". Percy thought a moment, " Well I don't know if Mum will like it, and she is awful busy, so why don't we just take him up to our room and keep him there. I can give him water and food and he'll be our little pet." Ron got up and began jumping up and down crowing ,"Rat Rat Rat!". "First let's take him in and fix him up."

Percy carried the rat as the boys went into the kitchen. Percy set the rat on the scrubbed kitchen table. After rummaging in a drawer, Percy pulled out a jar of "Madam Hygeia's Healing Salve" and carefully Percy slathered the stump from the toe and the tattered ear and the scabs, Ron watching so close it was hard for Percy to see what he was doing. Ron kept merrily singing "Rat-rat-rat" to himself while Percy decided on the next move. The hard part was going to be getting the rat up to his and Ron's room without disturbing Mum. Ron was going to need to be quieted if they were going to make it. Percy knew how sharp his mother's hearing could be so he cast about for a way to keep Ron quiet. He remembered the box of candy from Honeydukes Bill and Charlie had sent home as treats for their younger brothers, lest they feel put out by the new baby.

Percy pulled up a chair and climbed up on to the counter and stood up so he could reach the high shelf. He found the box and first he grabbed a chocolate frog; but that would be a big mess -- besides he wanted to be sure to get all the famous wizard cards himself. He pulled the whole box out of the cupboard and found the sugarquills, and took out two then climbed down. He said to his little brother, "Ron, we need to be quiet to get this rat upstairs without waking Ginny. You also need to keep quiet about the rat until he is better, because that is the only chance we are going to have to keep him. We have to prove we can take care of him. Here," Percy held out a sugarquill which Ron stuck in his mouth and sucked with a thoughtful look on his face. Percy stuck the other sugarquill in his pocket and tucked the rat in his arm. The boys went up the stairs. Percy tried to go quietly, but Ron's feet thumped so that Percy feared they would wake Ginny. As they passed the landing with his mothers room he heard her call softly, "Percy..." Percy stopped dead with a fearful look at Ron who was still quietly sucking on his sugar quill. The rat slipped into Percy's pocket as Percy softly opened the door and stuck his head inside. "Hi Mum", he whispered.

Molly Weasley looked very tired, but she smiled at her son. "How have you and Ron been? Ginny has been quite a handful today, have you had something to eat?. Percy told her he had fed himself and Ron with the ham their father had cut before he went to work. Molly gave a satisfied sigh. Ron peeked his head in and smiled and waved. Molly gave a questioning look to Percy for Ron was rarely so quiet. Percy understood the look. "After we ate I gave him a sugarquill so we could come upstairs for a while without waking Ginny. Molly smiled, "that's my thoughtful boy". Percy smiled back, "I have Ron busy so why don't you get a few winks?" Percy suggested, as his mother looked so tired. "Thank you Percy. I think I will, but you be sure to wake me if you need me." Percy promised,"I will Mum, and you get some rest, Dad will be bringing the twins home in a couple of hours". He closed the door. What a close call! Percy let out a big sigh. His mother would never let him keep a rat that looked sick. Percy knew he had to get the rat healthy before his parents found out about it. When the boys finally had the rat up in their room, Percy pulled the rat from his pocket. The rat had the sugarquill in it's paws and was nibbling on an end, looking thoughtful. Percy broke off a small bit where the rat had been eating and stuck the remainder in his own mouth. Percy put him on his bed and Ron climbed right up and began to pet the rat. Percy found a box and an old towel and made a bed for the rat, it would slide out of sight under Percy's own bed. Ron began to act sleepy so Percy coaxed Ron into his own bed and put the rat with him and Ron settled down and dropped off. The rat eased himself away from Ron after his breathing became heavy and regular. Percy picked up the rat and set him in the box and told him "You need to keep out of sight for a while until you are well so Mum and Dad will let me keep you. If you will stay put I'll go get more food." The rat looked up at him with twitching whiskers then settled down to nap in his box.


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