The Sugar Quill
Author: Poppy P (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Searching for Percy  Chapter: Chapter One: History Will Teach Us Nothing
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Chapter 1 – History Will Teach Us Nothing...

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

-The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics

Thirteen-year-old Petra Weasley, heaved a loud groan and put her head down. Her auburn-colored plait scraped against the blank piece of parchment before her.

“What’s wrong?” asked her cousin, Billy Weasley, a short, freckled first year. The two Gryffindors were sharing a table in their common room. Petra had several rolls of parchment lying around her as well as various quills and two pots of scarlet ink. Billy was reading a Quidditch magazine, his strawberry-blond hair barely visible over the top as he poured over the latest in racing brooms. He didn’t even bother to look up as Petra spoke.

Petra sat up with her hands over her eyes. “It’s this bloody history assignment!” she moaned through her hands. “Listen to this: Chose an important figure from the war and describe the characteristics that make that person a hero to you. You must use at least three different references. At least one of these should include an interview. Be prepared to deliver a three-minute speech on your hero before the class.” Petra’s brow furrowed in indignation. “Stupid Binns! What kind of assignment is that?”

“That doesn’t sound too hard,” reasoned Billy, setting down his magazine so that it didn’t stick to the huge gum bubble he was blowing. “Just take your pick. We’re related to half the Order,” he said, talking around the bubble.

“I know, I know. That’s the problem,” said Petra, chewing thoughtfully on the end of her quill. “Do I choose Uncle Harry or Uncle Ron? Aunt Hermione or Granny Weasley? Granddad or Auntie Ginny?”

“What about Uncle Percy?” asked Billy, causing his bubble to bob up and down. It was bigger than his face now.

“My dad? Why would I pick my dad?” asked Petra, bemused.

“Duh,” said Billy with difficulty.

“Do you really think he was a hero?” asked Petra tilting her head reflectively.

“He died in the war effort, didn’t he?” Billy’s voice took on the characteristic softness that all the Weasleys took when discussing Percy.

Petra marveled that even Billy could take this tone considering that he had never met her father either. That soft tone had always made her uncomfortable, but for some reason it really irritated her now. “Just because someone was killed by Death Eaters doesn’t make them a hero. Look at Cornelius Fudge,” she pointed out petulantly.

“Who’s Cornelius Fudge?” asked Billy, standing up to accommodate the size of his bubble.

“He was the Minister of Magic before Granddad and Sirius Black!” said Petra sharply. “Don’t you ever pay attention in History of Magic?”

“No,” said Billy indifferently, his bubble stretching towards his knees.

“Well, you should,” said Petra with aggravation.

“Yes, yes we all know how smart you are,” his voice echoed slightly inside the bubble. “You should’ve gone to Ravenclaw, really.”

Petra’s eyes flashed with anger. Billy knew she was sensitive about the fact that she wasn’t sorted into Ravenclaw. She had always felt this was a disappointment for her mum. Penelope had been a Ravenclaw prefect during her time at Hogwarts. Petra grabbed her quill off the table and poked Billy’s bubble with it.

“Ha!” said Billy, pulling the bubble out of his mouth. He held the end pinched between his fingers. “It’s Drooble’s Best, so it won’t pop.” He glanced around the room slyly before turning to Petra with a smirk. “So take that, Pickles.”

Petra bristled instantly at the sound of her family nickname. “I told you not to use that name at Hogwarts you prat,” she hissed, drawing her wand and pointing it at Billy’s face. “Reventarus!”

Billy’s gum bubble burst with a resounding ‘pop!’ covering his face and robes with pink, sticky goo. He gaped at her open-mouthed, too furious to respond. “Y..you!…”

“Goodbye cousin,” said Petra sweetly before sprinting up the staircase towards the third year girls’ dorm.

“I’ll get you back for this, Pickles!” he called after her.

As soon as she entered her room she was accosted by her one of her dorm mates, Mauve Finnegan, a giggly, sandy-haired girl. “Oh my gosh! Can you believe Binns? Four rolls of parchment and three different references! It’s not fair! Who are you going to write yours on?” asked Mauve breathlessly.

Petra stared at her roommate, admiring the fact that she could cram so many sentences in between breaths. “I dunno,” she said turning away from Mauve. Her gaze fell on a small, framed picture sitting on her dresser. The photo showed Petra’s father standing behind her mother with his hands on her belly. Like all wizarding photographs, it moved, and every few seconds her father would rub his hands across her mother’s stomach, smiling broadly over her shoulder. Occasionally, her photographic mother would lean back and turn around to plant a kiss on her father’s cheek. When her mum gave her that picture, right before she started Hogwarts, she’d explained that her uncle Charlie had taken this picture when she was six months pregnant. Her father was killed shortly after the picture was taken.

Petra picked the picture up, running a hand over the gilt-edged frame. She didn’t look up as she spoke. “My cousin Billy thinks I should write about…my dad,” she said hesitantly.

Mauve’s eyes widened. “Ooh Petra! That’s perfect! You won’t even have to do much research. You can just interview three family members! You are so lucky your dad was a war hero!” she exclaimed, throwing herself back on her four-poster.

Petra had the urge to say something sarcastic like, “Yeah, it’s really great having a dead father whom I’ve never known.” However, since it was Mauve, she figured the comment would be wasted. Instead she said, “I suppose I could write about my father.” She frowned slightly. “The thing is…it’s just that… I don’t know much about him...”

Mauve sat up on her bed and looked at her skeptically. “Your family’s never told you about your own father?”

“No, I mean yes. I dunno…” said Petra, flustered, putting the photo back down on her dresser. “Granny’s always made sure I had plenty of pictures of him while I was growing up. Mum’s told me all about how they fell in love and how they were mad about each other up until he died. My Uncle Ron always talks about how smart he was and everything,” she paused, unsure of how to put her concern in to words. “It’s just that, well, they wouldn’t be very objective now, would they? What if Percy Weasley was only a hero to them? I mean, can I really write a whole essay about him?”

Mauve looked slightly uncomfortable. “You’re being silly,” she said finally. “Of course he was a hero. You’ll write a fine essay, I’m sure of it. Besides, we all know how clever you are.”

“I guess,” said Petra softly. There was an uncomfortable pause.

Mauve quickly changed the subject as she always did when something was threatening to make her think too deeply. “Let’s go down to dinner now. Maybe we’ll run into Damien Thomas.” She smiled mischievously. “I heard he’s got a crush on you,” she said in a singsong voice.

“Shut up!” protested Petra, trying to keep a blush from creeping up her face. Her history assignment was momentarily forgotten as she thought of Damien, a tall, handsome Ravenclaw with skin the color of milk and coffee. “I told you, we’re just friends. We’ve known each other forever. Our mums were friends from school.” Damien was the son of her mum’s fellow Ravenclaw, Padma Patil.

“It’s a Hogsmeade weekend on Saturday,” said Mauve with a smirk. “Maybe your friend will ask you to go with him.” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively.

“Oh shove it, would you?” said Petra, smiling in spite of herself, aware that her ears were horribly hot now.

“I’m serious!” said Mauve, starting for the door. “I saw how cozy you two were during Astronomy.”

Petra ducked her head as she followed her dorm mate out the door. “He needed to borrow my telescope!” she protested weakly.

“Uh huh,” said Mauve before launching into a detailed lecture on her favorite subject - boys.

Petra smiled as she listened to her friend’s cheerful prattle. Mauve’s voice had a tendency to drive everything out of one’s mind.

Almost.

At the bottom of the staircase Petra stopped and looked up at the plaque above the entrance to the boys’ staircase. During her two and a half years as a Gryffindor she had read this plaque many times. She knew the inscription by heart.

This wing is dedicated to all of the brave men of Gryffindor who paid the ultimate price so that wizards and Muggles alike could one day live without fear of the dark shadow that threatened to end our world. It is an honor to recognize them as members of the distinguished House of Gryffindor.

She located her father’s name easily, Percival Angelus Weasley, Class of 93, Prefect, 91-92, Head Boy 93.

“What are you looking at?” asked Mauve, tugging at the sleeve of her robe. She had finally noticed that Petra was no longer listening to her. “Is something wrong?”

“Um, nothing,” said Petra, shaking her head and glancing around guiltily. How could she tell anyone the truth? She wasn’t sure her father was really a hero. In fact, the more she thought about it, the more she felt she didn’t know much about him at all. “Let’s just go down to dinner,” she said moving towards the portrait hole.

Just as she stepped away from the boys’ staircase a burst of light cut through the air as Billy’s squeaky voice was heard shouting, “Petrificus Totalus!” However, as Petra had just stepped away, the hex hit the common room mirror, which she had been standing in front of, and ricocheted back to Billy, whose arms flew to his sides as his body became rigid. He fell to the ground to the ground with a heavy ‘clunk’!

Petra and Mauve burst into giggles over Billy’s predicament. “You’ll have to do better than that, first year,” snorted Petra.

“Idiot boy!” said Mauve rolling her eyes. “He’s as bad as my little brothers!” Mauve had four younger brothers. Michael was a first year who had been sorted into Ravenclaw, much to the surprise and delight of Mauve’s parent’s.

Billy’s eyes roved around wildly, clearing beseeching Petra for help. She leaned down and patted the side of his face with her palm. “No, I don’t think so, cousin dear. I think I’ll just leave you here and let you think about the consequences of messing with a witch who’s obviously older and wiser.”

Billy’s eyes widened further as Petra and Mauve walked away, chortling happily.

“Are you really going to leave him like that?” asked Mauve as they pushed their way through the portrait hole.

“Of course. Some prefect is bound to stumble on him on their way down to dinner,” said Petra confidently. “Eventually.”

//
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