The Sugar Quill
Author: Night Zephyr (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Destined For Reality  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.

Disclaimer: Harry’s entire, wonderful world all belongs to JKRowling. I’m just pleased my “request to use” her characters was approved. Also, the quote is by our dear friend Ron in Prisoner of Azkaban.

A/N: Originally submitted as an entry in the SugarQuill First Task Tournament. Several “puzzles” to find here, especially for writers.


Ron ripped the brightly colored cellophane wrapper from the sugar quill and jabbed the end of it into his mouth. He swirled his tongue around the end of it, savoring the dark, fruity flavor. Mmmm, he thought, raspberry truffle. This should help me think of what to write.

With that, he glanced around to see how the others were doing on their essays for Binns’ class, since the writing on his own parchment was woefully sparse.

Nearing the end of term, the usually casual atmosphere of the Gryffindor Common Room was quietly studious. A few students in the corner stubbornly chatted while their books lay open in front of them, but the rest were hard at work, studying for exams, completing charts, or writing essays. The only truly cheerful contribution to the room was the crackling fire in the hearth, popping and sparking merrily with no regard to classwork.

All the fifth year students, save Ron, were hunched over the tables around him, poring over their books, pausing thoughtfully, then writing onto their strips of parchment. The essay assignments for History of Magic and Potions would have been atrocious separately, but to have them both due at the same time was, to Ron’s thinking, insane.

Both the enormity of the task before him, and the deafening silence, were making him crazy. So Ron sat sprawled in his chair, leaning back from the table at an angle to give his legs room, one foot bouncing on his other knee. His widening shoulders and long arms kept encroaching farther and farther into Hermione’s space, as she sat beside him at the small table, and her large stack of books were in peril of being pushed off onto the floor. (She shot him warning looks from time to time, but to no avail, as he was ignoring her quite successfully.)

Ron looked over at his best friend across the table and quickly leaned forward.

“Harry!” Ron whispered. “Harry!”

Harry had been concentrating and writing purposefully, over halfway done with his History of Magic essay. He frowned at the interruption, but he’d been expecting it--he was quite aware Ron was having trouble getting started. He looked up and waited.

“What?”

Ron wasn’t sure where he was going with this--he just needed some conversation. He spied the writing quill in Harry’s one hand, an orange-colored sugar quill in the other. “What flavor’s yours?”

Harry frowned again. Oh, that was important. But then, it was Ron. To humor his friend, he looked at the sugar quill and tasted it again quickly. “Tangerine, I think.”

Ron reached out and grabbed the Honeyduke’s box from the middle of the table, peering inside. “Only two left.” Just as he was about to tell Harry, “One more for each of us,” something shot from his right side, hitting him in the arm, and yanked the box from his grasp in a split second.

The box held deftly in one hand, Hermione used her other to pluck a purple-striped red quill from inside. “First of all, one of them is mine,” she said with mock intensity, “and since we all chipped in to buy them, we should all decide what to do with the last one.” She was rarely that concerned, or interested, in sweets, but sucking on the sugar quills seemed to help her think of what to write when she was tired, and after all, fair was fair. “I know--whoever gets done with their essays first gets the last one.”

Ron sneered at her. “Oh, that’s a fine idea. I wonder who’ll be done first.” He looked at the length of her completed essay for Potions, and the History of Magic paper she’d finished the majority of.

“Well, if you’d started right away when we came in, you’d be much closer to finished, too.” Hermione’s scolding was not helping Ron’s mood. “Do you even know what you’re writing on yet?” She roughly pulled his parchment around so she could read the little he’d written. “ ‘The battle strategy of the Duke of Yidhuth in the war to overtake the goblins at Spurr,’” she read. “There’s plenty of information on that--shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Thank you for that,” Ron said sarcastically, dragging his parchment back. “That’ll make it much easier.”

Harry was anxious to get back to his work before he lost his train of thought, and before the fight across the table really began in earnest. “Hermione, why don’t you just put the quill back in the middle, and we’ll decide who gets it when we’re ALL done?”

Hermione didn’t say anything, but flashed a glare at Ron and set the box down as suggested.

Ron sat sullenly (though quietly now), frowning at the book in front of him. He heard rustling next to him, even though he was trying hard not to look her direction. Squinting sideways so she wouldn’t notice, he saw Hermione remove the wrapper from her sugar quill, and absently set the sweet between her lips as she read. Engrossed, she didn’t notice him studying her as she pursed her lips a bit around the quill. She took it from her mouth and licked her lips, making them all fascinatingly shiny and wet. The red of the quill had deepened their color a bit, bringing out the blush of her cheeks, and--

Ron suddenly caught himself feeling a bit strange--not bad strange--just strange. Have I gone mad? he thought to himself. Why am I staring at Hermione’s lips, for heaven’s sake? She must have made me do this--some spell or something. He became very irritated at himself, and at her, and felt the need to crunch something immediately. Ron bit down hard on his sugar quill, loudly cracking the sweet little pieces between his teeth.

Everyone within a ten foot radius looked up from their studies until they realized what the odd noise was. But Hermione was the only one who felt it necessary to say something, since the sound was closest and loudest to her ear.

“You know, that’s very bad for your teeth. My parents have to tell their patients all the time. ‘You shouldn’t eat sweets at all, anyway, but then, crunching down hard on foods when you eat can really cause trouble for you later’. The ones who don’t listen are always back--job security, my parents call them. And besides--it’s really annoying.”

“Hmmm- really?” Ron said nonchalantly, biting off another small piece and leaning in closer to crunch it in her ear even louder than before.

Hermione just glared at him, then turned to face away and continue with her work. She ignored his irritating crunching until his quill was finished, knowing there were none left to torment her with.

But ten minutes and one written paragraph later, the last remaining quill in the box had begun to torment Ron. He was partly tired of sitting there, and partly convinced the quill would help him think. Seeing that Harry was concentrating hard on his essay, and Hermione was facing away, he quietly reached out toward the box and eased his fingers inside.

--Smack!! -- The loud, sudden sound of Hermione’s small hand slapping Ron’s large one made several people jump and several others loudly whisper, “Shhh!”

Hermione, blushing, crouched down in her seat. “See?” she fired at Ron. “You’re bothering everybody!”

“I didn’t make any noise!” Ron protested. “You did!”

“Well, you’re not going by our agreement!”

“I never agreed to anything--you and Harry did!”

Hermione let out an exasperated noise and tried to get back to work.

Ron smiled to himself. Aha!--another diversion--another game. He knew he’d be sorry later when everyone else was finished with homework but him, but he just couldn’t resist harassing Hermione a little bit more. After letting her get well involved with her work once more, Ron reached toward the box, taunting her, moving slowly so she’d notice what he was doing, then closed his hand around the opalescent white sugar quill within.

Hermione took the bait. Grabbing his hand this time instead of slapping it (hopefully making less noise, she thought), she started to pull up to get the quill away from him, when, to her surprise, another hand closed in on top of hers.

“Okay, you two! That’s it!”

Harry, who had been a silent witness to most of this, had begun to feel like he was babysitting four-year-olds. He needed to get his work done, and to keep his two friends from distracting him and everyone else. (He also made a mental note to keep Ron and Hermione from sitting next to one another on study nights from now on.) He was fed up and planned on taking care of the problem himself-- right now!

As Harry’s hand closed on Hermione’s, which was closed on Ron’s, all three of them suddenly felt a semi-familiar pull behind their navels. They looked at one another wide-eyed for a brief moment, before the whirling sensation from the sugar quill/portkey ripped them from the room.

~~~ * * * ~~~


It appeared to be a busy village street of some sort, not unlike Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. The only problem was-- they had never seen this place before.

Stunned, Harry, Hermione, and Ron just stood on the walkway where they landed, hands still clinging together around the sugar quill. Ron, somewhat embarrassed that he might have somehow caused all this, shook off Harry’s and Hermione’s hands, and held out the sugar quill to Harry.

“Maybe you’d better take care of this,” Ron said sheepishly. Then a note of irritation crossed his voice. “Who in the world would make a sugarquill a portkey, anyway?”

Hermione was still baffled by the whole incident, but optimistic. “Maybe it was a mistake. We should try and use it to get back.--maybe the port’s still open.”

“Nah--usually has to be at least a full day or so before they can reset. My dad told me,” Ron said knowledgeably. He knew Harry and Hermione had precious little experience with such issues.

“A whole day?” Hermione didn’t want to sound discouraged, but she did appear a little deflated.

Harry, more interested in figuring out where they were, grabbed and quickly shoved the sugar quill into the inside pocket of his robes. The three each turned in their own circle, scanning their surroundings, and looking for any sign of familiarity.

“Do either of you have any idea where we are?” Harry asked.

Ron and Hermione shook their heads absently, still looking around.

Hermione had begun to focus on the huge crowd of people surrounding them, passing them, bumping into them, and overall, ignoring them. But she began to notice what she could, finding they seemed to be of all different races, ages, and sizes. Most of them also seemed to have a destination and appeared to be moving steadily towards it.

“Excuse me,” she said to a young man passing them. “Excuse me, can you help us?”

The young man stopped and looked at her, but did not speak.

“Can you tell us where we are?” she asked politely.

The man answered in a language she did not understand. If he told her anything that would help, she didn’t know it. The man walked on, and she tried again.

“Excuse me,” she told an elderly lady passing by. “Can you tell us where we are?”

The woman looked at her as if she were speaking a foreign language this time, and Hermione nearly turned away. But then, the woman spoke. “You’re in Rohtua. Didn’t you know? No one just happens to be here, you have to work at it.” She looked at Hermione as if she were nutters, then hurried off before any of them could get out a word.

Hermione herself was thinking maybe she was crazy, or, at the least, not hearing correctly.

“What did she say?” Harry asked, watching after the old woman.

“This is Raw-too-uh, or something. Then she said no one just happens to be here, they have to work at it?” Hermione questioned, as much to herself as to Harry.

Ron just shook his head. “Great, Hermione. One who doesn’t speak English, and one who’s bonkers. Good choices to help us.” He walked away as Hermione was about to reply to his rude remark, and stopped at the curb, looking up and down the street. He could see over the heads of most of the people, and he scanned the low buildings for any signs he could recognize. If he was, indeed, the one who got them into this mess, he was determined to get them out.

Ron was about to turn back to Harry and Hermione when he felt something pulling at the hem of his robe. Thinking someone had stepped on the back of it (which rarely happened since Ron’s robes were chronically short), he grabbed at the robe and pulled it loose. But as he turned away, the tugging became stronger.

Ron spun around quickly, thinking someone was toying with him, to see a small child looking up. The two stared at one another for a moment.

“Can you see my Bun anywhere from up there?” the tiny girl asked, wide-eyed. Wisps of light brown hair that had escaped her ponytail blew in the light breeze around her face.

“Your Bun?” Ron repeated, bewildered.

“Yes,” the child said, as if Ron should know what she was talking about. “My Bun for my story. I had him with me, and now I can’t find him. Do you see him anywhere?”

Being one of the youngest in the Weasley family, with no young nephews or nieces quite yet, Ron did not have a great deal of experience with very young children.
His only thought was that he needed to be looking for a way to get his friends and himself out of here, not looking for a Bun, whatever that was. With the patience that Ron was famous for, he made a decision.

“Nope. Sorry. Don’t see any Bun from here. See ya later.” With that, he started to walk away, back toward Harry and Hermione. Until he heard her start to cry.

Ron stopped at the sound and groaned, dropping his head back in frustration. He turned back to the tiny girl and squatted down to her level as he reached her.

“Look. Don’t cry. It’s okay. Don’t cry.” He looked around for help from his friends, but they were busy trying to get straight answers from anyone else on the street. Ron turned back to the little girl, realizing he was no better at handling crying females at six years old than when they were much older. “Are you lost?”

“No,” she sobbed, rubbing her eyes with a little balled-up fist.

Ron looked up and down the street again from this angle. “Well, who brought you here?”

Sniffling, it took her several tries to get it out. “My--my--my teacher.”

Ron was almost relieved. If there was a teacher, there must be a school nearby. He couldn’t tell if this was a village of magical people, or Muggles, but between Harry, Hermione, and himself, they should be able to find out where they were and get back to Hogwart’s either way.

Fearing he would lose her in the crowd, Ron awkwardly held out one long forefinger to the little girl, who took it willingly and followed behind him back to Harry and Hermione. As the two broke free of the mass of people, Harry and Hermione turned to stare at their tall friend and the tiny person walking next to him clinging to his hand.

Ron’s face was a bit pink as he approached and tried to answer the question his two friends had on their faces. “She lost her Bun.” They looked even more confused, so Ron shrugged his shoulders at them and went on. “But she says her teacher brought her here, so there must be a school or something nearby. What did you two find out?”

“Not much,” Harry replied. “These people all seem to be so involved in their own thoughts. They don’t want to be stopped or interrupted. And there’s so many different languages here.”

“What’s her name?” Hermione asked Ron.

“Her name? I don’t know,” Ron replied with an air of ‘who cares?’.

“Honestly, Ron!” Hermione knelt down next to the little girl to ask her.

“Catarina,” the girl replied. “Have you seen my Bun?”

“No, Catarina. But we’ll try to help you find it, okay? I’m Hermione.” She didn’t have much experience with small children, either. But she did know they didn’t have to be treated like alien babies. Hermione offered her own hand, but Catarina would not let go of Ron’s finger.

Ron, feeling smug that Catarina trusted him, squatted down to her. “Which way do you think your Bun is?”

Catarina looked both ways up and down the street, then wordlessly led off in one direction, pulling Ron by the finger behind her. The three of them followed Catarina up the street, looking for anything that appeared remotely like a school or institutional building of any kind. As they passed a small grassy area in front of an older, vine-covered house, Catarina looked towards a huge alder tree. Below it she had spied something aqua blue and fluffy, and she darted towards it immediately. She ran to what was, apparently, her ‘Bun’ and grabbed it up, hugging it mercilessly.

Watching after her as she ran, Harry, Ron, and Hermione slowly followed behind, hoping to see her teacher, or anyone else she might know, that could help them. As luck would have it, they spotted someone hurrying towards Catarina from a wide, open porch: a middle-aged woman (similar in size, shape, and age to his own Mum, thought Ron).

As they all approached Catarina, she appeared to have difficulty choosing which way to run first. But she decided to call out, “I’ve found my Bun! Now I can finish!” to Ron, Harry, and Hermione, as she held out a very large, fluffy aqua stuffed toy bunny. Catarina ran to hug the woman’s legs, then turned briefly to wave shyly at Ron before running inside the house.

“Thank you for bringing her back,” the woman said, turning to go back inside.

“Wait!” Harry said rather loudly.

The woman stopped in her tracks, startled.

Harry looked embarrassed. “I mean, could you talk a moment and help us out?”

“Well, I guess so,” she turned to say slowly, eyeing them a bit suspiciously.

“We’re sort of lost and we were wondering,” Harry looked to Ron and Hermione for support, “Is there anyone from the Ministry we could talk to?” Then he happened to think maybe this was a Muggle village, albeit a strange one. “Or maybe a police station, or something? Anyone in charge?”

The woman stared at them, visually inspecting them even more now. “Why? Should you be in the blocked section? Or are you---?” Her fingers flew nervously to cover her mouth as she thought of something. “Did someone ask to use you? Because if they haven’t and you’re out here on your own...” she finally blurted out, acting a bit afraid.

The three friends looked at one another in complete confusion once more. What in the world was she talking about?

“We don’t want to hurt anyone,” Hermione interjected. “We just want to get back to where we belong.”

The woman pointed farther down the street. “There--down there--to the corner and turn left. See Dr. Persimmon.” She hurried nervously away toward the house, clearly done with the conversation.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another.

“What was all that about? Ask to use us? For what? This place is weird,” Ron stated.

“Well, our choice is to go meet this Dr. Persimmon or keep trying on our own. If he’s a doctor, he must be somewhat intelligent. I vote for Dr. Persimmon,” Hermione reasoned.

“Unless he’s a witch doctor or something,” Ron replied.

Hermione glared at Ron. “Witches are perfectly capable of being excellent doctors.”

It took him a moment to realize what he’d said wrong. “No, not that kind of a witch doctor. I mean, the kind who live with cannibal tribes and such--you know, sticking pins in voodoo dolls and all that ancient Dark Magic stuff. As if we don’t have enough Dark Magic to deal with on our own...” Ron rambled.

Harry sighed and started walking. “Let’s just go.”

Dr. Persimmon was not difficult to find. Even those who would not verbally answer the three friends were happy to point the way. All went well until Harry, Ron, and Hermione reached their final destination: a huge, sprawling oak tree sporting a small, but elegant treehouse on it wide limbs. Apparently, to reach the good doctor, some ladder climbing was in order.

Word of mouth had alerted Dr. Persimmon that guests were coming. He was not surprised as Harry, Hermione, and finally, Ron (folding himself into as small a personal space as possible) crawled into the lavish, but tiny treehouse and sat down.

“Well, well. Guests. I have a lot of guests, you know, but usually at my invitation. Sugar quill?” Dr. Persimmon, a short, round bald little man with a bright red driving cap, held out a large decorative glass jar filled with more flavors than even Honeyduke’s had ever held before.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione each took one carefully (thinking it best to be polite under the circumstances), remembering what the last one they had touched had done to them. They watched as Dr. Persimmon pushed up his little square glasses on his round nose and poked a sweet into his mouth as well.

“So... they’ve sent you to me. And you seem to be lost. Do you belong in the blocked section?” Dr. Persimmon asked, talking around the sugar quill in his mouth as one might with a cigar. “I can send you over there with Myrna to see if you can get rid of it if you wish.”

The three friends looked at each other with the same alarming thought. They didn’t want to go anywhere they had to get rid of something, whatever it was. They wanted to keep all they came with, thank you very much.

“No. No, we’re pretty sure we don’t need to go there,” Harry said, trying to sound sure of himself.

Dr. Persimmon pulled at his red and purple suspenders, thinking and looking at them. “Hmmm, and I thought maybe you three were all just blocked. Especially that one--,” the little man said, gesturing toward Ron. “Certainly gave me all the signs.”

Ron eyes went wide and his jaw dropped. He wasn’t sure what the signs of being blocked were, but whatever they were, he didn’t want to be giving them out to complete strangers.

“Well, you’re not blocked, and you’re not working toward your ending, or you’d know that...” The doctor was talking it through with himself more than he was talking to the three friends. “Then you must be...” He squinted at each of them, peering deeply into their eyes and their faces. “But you can’t be...You’re so...real,” he finally said in disbelief. “Do you know who’s asked for you?”

Ron was getting fed up with not understanding and threw his hands in the air before landing them back in his lap. “Yes, of course, we’re real. No, we don’t know why we’re here, and yes, I guess we’re lost, but why would anyone ask for us if we don’t even know anyone here?” His impatience was apparent in his voice.

Dr. Persimmon seemed uncertain how much to say. “Well, someone must have...” He raised his finger in the air. “Aha! I know--I’ll check the book. The one who requested you most recently won’t be there, but all the previous ones should be.” The little round man stood and walked to a podium in the corner which held a very large, thick book. “Your names, please?”

The students looked at one another. He was going to look them up in this book? They wondered if they should even give their names, but at this point, it couldn’t make matters much worse.

Hermione went first. “Hermione Granger. Or it might be under Granger, Hermione, if it’s indexed.”

Dr. Persimmon went to work, flipping more pages than it seemed possible the book could hold, even as thick as it was. Mumbling her name to himself, something dawned on him. “Hermione Granger...Granger...G..R..A..” He looked up at her, startled. “Granger? THE Hermione Granger?”

Harry and Ron looked at Hermione strangely. It was usually Harry who got this kind of reaction from others, not Hermione. What had she done to become “THE Hermione Granger” in the doctor’s book?

All of a sudden, the doctor gasped, staring at them. “Yes...Yes...Of course!! And you’re..you’re Ron Weasley!” he said, pointing at an amazed Ron. “Which means you’re...you’re the ...”

“Famous Harry Potter,” Harry finished for him wearily.

“Oh, I’m honored...so honored!! To have all three of you! And now, it makes perfect sense--why you’re so real, why I couldn’t tell, why it seemed like you were wizards all the time!” Dr. Persimmon was so flustered he couldn’t stop talking.

All six teenage ears perked up at the word “wizards”. So this was a magical community? They could use magic without fear of the Ministry catching them?

Harry approached the subject cautiously, even with that said. “So you have other wizards here, then, do you?”

“Well, of course!” Dr. Persimmon burst out. “All the Rohtua people are wizards! And some of the greatest there are, I might add! We can make people do whatever we wish--good things, bad things, exciting things. We can paint the sky purple, and create a world underwater. We can make animals no one else ever thought of, and make them talk, or write poetry, or take over the Earth. We can make people love or despise one another. We can tell the most powerful people in the world, or even monsters and dragons, what they have to do!”

Ron was having trouble believing this. Even Dumbledore, or the horrific powers of Voldemort, couldn’t do the things this man was talking about. He must be bonkers, too. “You can tell dragons what to do?” he said doubtfully. “And they do it?”

“Yes, we have for years! And I mean to tell you--I have never had such honored guests in my home before. Why--more people have asked for you three in your short time here than anyone else--ever.”

Harry and Ron seemed just as mentally lost as when they arrived. But Hermione looked as if the gears in her mind were beginning to turn.

“The Rohtua people--they usually are working toward an ending unless they’re blocked?” she asked tentatively.

“Yes, usually,” Dr. Persimmon answered, eager to answer her questions. “Sometimes they need to go to the blocked section, and just sit and think. At times eating sugar quills helps them, so we keep lots of them there--you know, for medicinal purposes. In fact, one of the greatest wizards ever recorded once said, and I quote, there are ‘really excellent sugar quills, which you can suck on in class and just look like you’re thinking what to write next’.”

Ron wrinkled his brow in thought. Bloody hell, that sounded familiar!

But he was distracted by Hermione, who started jumping up and down with a huge triumphant smile on her face, deciding to cease when the treehouse began teetering with each jump. “I knew it! I knew it! You’re talking about writing, not wizardry! You write towards en ending unless you have writer’s block! I don’t know about sugar quills helping, but I know you need to have characters in your stories, that maybe you can request to use if they belong to someone else. Or else you can use your own, like Catarina and her Bun! That’s why there are so many different languages, writers of so many races and ages, men, women, and children. You’ve been talking about writing all the time, not wizardry!”

Dr. Persimmon looked stumped. “Well,” he said quietly, and completely perplexed, “aren’t they the same thing? We mix ideas like potions and weave words like enchantments. If it’s done right, we cast a spell over the reader--writing is the greatest form of wizardry! Doesn’t everyone know that? That’s what had me so confused about the three of you. So many people have asked for you, and filled you in with their stories, and made you their friends--they’ve made you so real, I thought that you were one of us. Look! Look here in the book! See how many request entries there are for the three of you!”

Harry, Hermione, and Ron carefully made their way through the cramped room toward the huge book. Each looked under their names and at the thousands of names below it under “requests to use”. Some names listed were the same, some different, but the three did notice they all had the same initials listed under the heading of Creator: JKR. All three of them returned to their seats silently, seriously humbled by their apparent popularity, though still uncertain what it meant to them.

“So, all of our friends at Hogwart’s are in the book, too?” Harry asked.

“Certainly,” the doctor replied. “And any family members, as well.”

The three shifted in their seats, feeling a little sad at mention of Hogwart’s and family members--they still didn’t know their way back home.

“But, Dr. Persimmon, we aren’t the same kind of wizards as the Rohtua, and we can’t stay here,” Hermione stated. “Even though we write sometimes, and get writer’s block--” Hermione glanced to her side.

Ron looked up and glared at her. “Hey, what are you looking at me for?”

“We can’t figure out how to get there without waiting for the portkey.” She recounted the events that led up to their transport by portkey. “Show him, Harry.”

Harry reached into his robe pocket and carefully pulled out the opalescent white sugar quill. He handed it over to Dr. Persimmon.

The little round man held the sugar quill up to the late afternoon light of the window, and seemed able to see things about it the three friends did not. “Ahhh! It’s not only been made a portkey, or whatever you call it-- it’s been enchanted.”

“Enchanted? How?” Harry asked.

“Someone where you came from wanted you here, but for only a short time,” Persimmon explained. “They sent you here to find out how important you are to others. But they didn’t want you to be here forever. This quill has a timer, of sorts, on it, set to ‘return especially quickly’. It’s set to take you back to Hogwart’s in about ten minutes. You know, if you weren’t as real as you seem to others, this wouldn’t have been possible. We would have known you were characters right away and you wouldn’t have been allowed here without a specific request. Is there anyone who would want you to know how much you mean to others?”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another. “Dumbledore,” they said in unison. With the dark times ahead, he’d want them to know how hard they had to work to take care of each other.

Somewhat tired and talked out, and now having their problem resolved, the three friends waited quietly in the treehouse for it to be time.

Dr. Persimmon waited with them, chatting at them about odds and ends. Suddenly he jumped to his feet, and grabbed the jar of sugar quills. “Oooh--better take some with you--just to get you through those essays you told me you have to finish.”

Ron groaned. “Oh, I forgot about those. Do any of your writing wizards want to come back with me?” he added hopefully.

Dr. Persimmon chuckled. “No, I’m afraid we can’t do that. Maybe you’d just better take some extras.” He pushed the jar at Ron, who took a number of sticks, then held it out for Harry and Hermione to take several quills each.

“Or we could just send you over to the blocked section instead,” Hermione suggested to Ron, smiling at him teasingly.

He tried to think of a witty response, but her smile distracted him too badly. “Oh, so very funny,” was all he could manage as he sneered at her.

Ron was still looking a bit confused as the three of them got in position with their hands all stacked atop the opalescent sugar quill/portkey held in Ron’s large hand. “So, what you’re saying then is, we don’t get to choose what we do in our lives on our own?” Ron questioned.

“Sometimes you do. Just sometimes we have to use our wizardry to change it a little so that it fits our needs. The more real you become to the wizard who’s writing, the more often you get to choose what you do on your own.” The doctor suddenly had a teasing smile on his face. “Just keep in mind what great wizards we can be. You don’t want to give us too much trouble, or we might be able to make things difficult for you in some of the more important parts of your life.” Dr. Persimmon looked directly from Ron’s face to Hermione, smiling, then back at Ron again. Ron’s face went bright red--it was obvious he got the message.

“You said we weren’t real. But we are. I can feel Hermione’s hand on mine.” (She blushed a bit at that.) “And I’m sure she can feel Harry’s hand on hers. I just still don’t understand how we can’t be real.”

“I only said you weren’t real, at one time. You were created. But since then, you’ve become real, because people know you, and love you, and spend time with you--that’s where the magic comes in. You’ve been friends to some who are lonely, or sick, or sad--that’s why they request to use you in their stories--they can’t wait for your creator to write more so they can spend more time with you. So they choose to do their own wizardry and magic with you themselves and write their own adventures, which in turn makes you more real to them over again, and to everyone else. It’s just a cycle. It’s been that way with different people in books over years and years. Oh--and I should mention, you’re always real to one another.”

“Well, I guess that’s a relief, anyway,” Harry said,having listened quietly to all the little round man was saying.

Ron’s, then Hermione’s, then Harry’s hand began to warm together as they felt the sensation pulling behind their navels once again. The three of them looked back through their whirling vision at Dr. Persimmon, who barely had time to raise his hand in goodbye-- and then, in a wispy spiral of opalescent white mist, they were gone.

//
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