The Sugar Quill
Author: Sweeney Agonistes (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Sprig of Lilac  Chapter: Chapter One
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A/N: Thanks as always to Zsenya for wonderful beta-ing and making elegant turns of phrase.

Disclaimer: All this belongs to Jo, not me. Please do not sue.

Part One

Now that lilacs are in bloom

She has a bowl of lilacs in her room

And twists one in his fingers while she talks.

“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know

What life is, you who hold it in your hands”…

-T.S. Eliot, “Portrait Of A Lady”

I entered the Hogsmeade flat and sniffed the air, which was redolent of garlic. Theron had either prepared dinner or decided he was going to be attacked by a vampire.

I went into the kitchen. For some reason, he had fixed pasta, and there was a basket with garlic bread. Not our usual fare, but a welcome change today. There was also a vase with lilacs in it. A sentimental touch – that was Theron. He was not in the kitchen to see my appreciation of his handiwork, though.

I poked my head in the living room. There he was – asleep on the couch, still dressed in his work robes. I looked down at him. He had not changed much since we were young – stately, austere gray highlights at his temples and gentle laugh lines were the only physical signs of his middle age. He was sixty-two, I was fifty-six – the thirty years we had been married were wonderful. Theron had continued in his job at St. Mungo’s as a “researcher”; I was still the professor of Transfiguration at Hogwarts. There were no children, although not through lack of trying. My younger brother Maimonides had married his Slytherin prefect and had a son, Meleagrant; my older sister Medea had joined the Department of Mysteries like her husband Finn, who was an Unspeakable. We all gathered once a month for dinner as a way of keeping us all together. Every now and then, Albus would join us – his duties as Headmaster were lonely, and he liked to keep up with his only son, especially in such parlous times as these. It helped that I held Albus’s old position and that we were old friends; we spent a lot of time together, playing chess and talking. Talking about He Who Must Not Be Named. He dominated much of our lives – we worried, talked…did everything in our power to keep our students from worrying about him. They did anyway.

Of course, Albus’s Order worked quietly at their jobs – as always – and obtained intelligence that could be used against the Death Eaters and their master. Theron and I helped out with it as much as we could; we were involved primarily for our nephew’s sake. Meleagrant had been a Death Eater, but had finally left their service. He was still very volatile, but too shaken by the atrocities he had both seen and committed to even consider returning to his old lifestyle. Albus had asked Theron and me to be in the Order to give Meleagrant some reassurance and support. Theron also used his job to provide his father with information about the latest tricks the Death Eaters were using to torture and maim. Theron was quietly crafty – just like his father.

He woke then and stretched, smiling at me. “Hello, Minerva-girl.”

“How was your day?”

“Quiet,” he answered. “No information, no new patients, everything on the up-and-up. Blessedly quiet.”

I laughed. I knew that quiet was never what he truly wanted. Knowing that I knew, he stood and embraced me. I let myself relax and did not let myself think about the essays that I had to grade tonight. I simply enjoyed the feeling of being with my other half.

He said, “Pasta for dinner tonight.”

“I saw,” I said into his shoulder.

He extended an arm into the kitchen. “Shall we?”
I nodded.

Amid the filling of plates, he said, “Maimonides and Demetria are coming over tomorrow with Meleagrant, and so is Finn – Medea is ill, he said.”

I stopped with one hand over the basket of bread. “Can’t come – Albus and I are working late tomorrow, and I’m not coming home tomorrow night.”

He said lightly, “You’ll miss a grand dinner.”

I took a bite of my pasta. “If this is anything to be judged by, I certainly will.”

Theron said, “We can reschedule if you want to be there…”

I raised a hand and said wryly, “It’s fine, Theron. I imagine the house-elves will put out something palatable for once – never mind the numerous feasts they’ve managed to come up with…”

He grinned at me. “Oh, Minerva.”

We ate. And then we spoke of music by the fire over hot chocolate – a tradition inherited from Albus – and then we went to bed. A normal and beautiful evening.

And the last words that Theron and I ever spoke to each other were brief “I love you’s” the following morning.

//
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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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