The Sugar Quill
Author: Briteyes (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Nibs and Plumes  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.

Author’s Notes and Acknowledgements: I have no claims or rights to these characters; I’m just borrowing them, and I promise to return them the way I found them.

As always, many thanks go to my beta-reader, Doctor Cornelius, and to the SQ LiveJournal contingent for extra reading and moral support.

Extra special thanks (and many e-cappuccinos) to Podger Snowden, for her friendship, for many trips around the Yorkshire countryside, and for introducing me to barley sugar and sherbet lemons (many of which were consumed while writing).

This story is dedicated to the many wonderful people who make up my obvious inspiration—the one and only Sugar Quill.  Here's to the new server, A + Z!!


Nibs and Plumes

            Colin Creevey burst into the Gryffindor common room, his arms laden with parcels. Across the room, he spotted his younger brother Dennis sitting near the fire with several other first-years. He caught Dennis’s eye, and gestured as best he could towards an empty table.
            From the other table, Colin heard his brother push in his chair, and a moment later, he appeared at Colin’s side.
            "You’re back!" he cried, helping Colin with the packages. "How was Hogsmeade? Is it just like everyone said? Is the Shrieking Shack really haunted? Were you able to try Butterbeer? What’s it like in Zonko’s? Did you buy anything at Honeydukes?" Colin answered with a frenzied nod of his head. "Really? Oh, excellent! What?" Dennis gasped, nearly bursting with excitement, as his brother gleefully opened a flat, white box and held it out to him.
            "Colin, those aren’t…"
            "They are! Sugar quills! Just like Harry told us about! Go on, take one!"
            Carefully, Dennis pulled a delicate, spun-sugar feather from the box and turned it over in his fingers. The central spine was a light golden colour, which faded to a soft cream at the edges of the plume.
            "They’re beautiful," he breathed.
            "Mmmm," murmured Colin absently, taking a quill for himself.
            "Harry said he reckoned they were one of Ron’s favourite sweets."
            "That’s right," Colin answered, still examining his own sugar quill.
            "Hey, Colin?"
            "What, Dennis?" Colin finally looked up, irritated.
            There was a pause, then Dennis asked in a small voice, "How do you eat them?"
            Colin looked at his brother as though he’d grown fur. "Eh?"
            "How do you eat them? Do you just… I dunno, crunch on them, or…?" Dennis’ voice trailed off as he looked at the quill uncertainly.
            Colin gave an exasperated sort of sigh. "Don’t be silly. You suck on them. Harry said it was like sucking on your quill in class."
            "I don’t suck on my quill in class," Dennis persisted. "I don’t suck on it outside of class, either!  In fact, I don’t know a single person who does."
            "Ron Weasley must."
            "Well, I don’t have a class with Ron Weasley!"
            Colin was now starting to get annoyed. "How hard can it be? It’s just like barley sugar, or that rock we buy at Great Yarmouth. You stick an end in your mouth, and you suck on it!" he snapped.
            "But which end?" his brother whined. "The nib or the plume? It doesn’t matter with barley sugar, ‘cos it doesn’t have feathers!"
            Colin stared at his brother, his mouth moving soundlessly, rather like a goldfish.
            Finally, he answered, "You know what, Dennis? I have absolutely no idea."

            The brothers sat in silence as the minutes wore on, their heads bowed as they examined the sweets more closely.
            "The pointy bit, perhaps?" offered Dennis, breaking the silence.
            Colin shook his head. "Nah, that’s the end you write with. Who’d want to end up with a mouthful of ink?"
            "But, it’s a sugar quill. You don’t actually write with them… do you?"
            "No, but just think if Snape saw you sucking on a quill with no ink at the end."
            "Oh." Dennis looked crestfallen. "Yeah, I suppose you’re right. I’d be scrubbing out cauldrons for a month."
            "At least."
            "But, you certainly can’t suck on the feather end, can you?"
            "Of course not! Think of what a mess it’d be, all that wet, sticky sugar. I reckon it’s like wet candy floss. Imagine getting that all over a Transfiguration essay." Colin looked pensive for a moment. "Well, if you think about it, sucking on a sugar quill is supposed to be a substitute for sucking on a real, feather quill. So, let’s look at it rationally. If you suck on your quill—"
            "Which I already told you, I don’t."
            "But if you did, Dennis!" Colin’s voice took on a long-suffering tone. "If, say, you were going to put this feather—" he pulled a normal quill out of a nearby bag and shoved it in his brother’s face—"in your mouth, how would you go about doing it?!"
            Dennis pulled away in disgust. "Eurgh, I wouldn’t! They’re not very sanitary, are they?"
            "Hypothetically, you pillock!" Colin nearly exploded. "Hypothetically, which end, which bloody end, would a person stick in their mouth first?!"
            Slightly sheepish, Dennis took the feather from his brother. For several long moments, he thoughtfully turned the quill this way and that, holding the quill to his lips at various angles.
            At length, Dennis tossed the quill pen to one side. "This is boring. Did you get anything else in Hogsmeade?"
            With a lingering sigh, Colin reached into his bag again, and brought out a handful of badges. "Here," he snapped, throwing them across the table to his brother.
            "What’s this?" he asked, taking one. "Support Cedric Diggory?! You must be joking! You actually bought these?"
            "Don’t be silly, Dennis, they were free. Besides, we’re going to improve them." Colin grinned conspiratorily as he leaned across the table to press one of the badges, which flashed the words Potter Stinks. Dennis dropped the badge he was holding and recoiled in horror.
            "That’s horrible! We can’t be seen with these, what would Harry think?"
            "What if we changed it to say Support Harry Potter? Or even, Diggory Stinks? What would Harry think then?"
            Dennis’s eyes widened, and slowly a grin appeared on his face. "Wow… That would really cheer him up, wouldn’t it?"
            "He really needs it, with Ron not speaking to him and all."
            Dennis nodded his approval. "So, you know how to do that? How to change the badges?"

            For several minutes, the two brothers stared down at the offending badges on the table.
            "Right then," announced Colin. "There’s nothing else for it." Rolling up his sleeves, he reached into his robes for his wand.
            "Scribere!" he intoned, flicking his wand repeatedly over the badge.
            "Nothing," said Dennis, rather obviously. Colin silenced him with a look and continued. "Scriptavi." Dennis shook his head. Still nothing had happened.
            "Scriptum?" Colin tried, waving his wand still harder. "Scripti?"
            Leaping to his feet, Dennis snatched up his own wand and joined in. "Scripti Switchi!" they cried desperately, "Switcheridoo!"
            Finally, Dennis waved his wand so furiously that the tip of it tapped one of the badges, and a cloud of acrid black smoke burst out and engulfed them. Coughing violently, the boys fanned the air with their hands.
            "What’s it say? Did it change anything?" choked Dennis.
            Colin twisted his head to the side. "Potter REALLY Stinks," he read. He threw the badge aside and all but collapsed on the table. "I give up."
            Dennis threw himself back into his chair, where he grabbed one of the discarded sugar quills and viciously bit off the plumed end. As he chewed, however, the expression on his face changed gradually from frustration to surprise, and then finally to utter delight.
            "Colin! It’s... you've... this is really good!"
            Colin lifted his head. Upon seeing his brother savouring the quill, he reached across the table for his own sweet. Carefully, he licked the very tip of the feather, then sucked it greedily.
            "It does taste like barley sugar, doesn’t it?" he observed. Dennis nodded enthusiastically, the last bit of the nib protruding from his lips.
            "Feels the same, too. It’s all… hard. You’d think it would be fluffy, like candy floss, but it isn’t at all."
            Dennis swallowed hard. "Reckon I should try it point-first?" he asked.  The badges forgotten, he held up a second sugar quill, a grin spreading across his face.


The End

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