The Sugar Quill
Author: VoxMaille (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Huh  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.

A/N: This ficlet was entirely inspired by “A Certain Point of View.” Yay for B Bennett!! Well, that and a deep fondness for that out-of-sorts Meg Wallace. Darn those Muggle cultural influences. ;-) Besides, I needed to type something happy and silly.

Thank you, as always, to Elanor Gamgee for beta-reading this. She’s fantastic!

Set during the summer after 4th year. Scene: The Burrow.

Rated G—Suitable for everyone.

Nothing belongs to me. None of it.

* * * *

Hermione Granger was doing something entirely mundane. It involved no exterior magic, nor any displays of bravery, nor was it even anything that would make people give her funny looks. She was reading.

Of course, one could argue that reading did all of those things, but nobody really noticed except the person reading.

At any rate, when Ron Weasley walked into the living room and saw her nose in a book, it hardly shocked him. He sat down on the sofa across from her. There wasn’t a lot to do right now. Harry was still asleep—lazy git, Ron thought—and the twins were grounded for some reason or another and Ginny was still not speaking to him over the strange and painful encounter she’d had with a garden gnome—even though Ron, really-truly-honestly-cross-his-heart, had nothing to do with it crawling into her bed the day after she’d accidentally torn one of his Chudley Cannons posters.

That left Hermione.

Ron liked talking to Hermione. Sometimes. Well, usually. All right, he admitted to himself, he liked talking to her a lot, as long as she wasn’t acting all barking mad and stuff.

So, since there wasn’t anything else to do around the Burrow that wasn’t related to work or chores or talking to Percy, Ron decided to employ a classic technique in the self-entertainment repertoire of bored adolescent boys. He decided to pester someone, namely Hermione. Interestingly, pestering was also a classic technique in the repertoire of adolescent boys who weren’t bored so much as—absolutely nothing in particular, if people wouldn’t mind keeping their noses out of things that didn’t concern them, thank you very much.

He cleared his throat loudly. She didn’t seem to hear him.

“Hey, Hermione,” he said. His best friend didn’t look up. “Hermione?”

She remained engrossed in her book.

“What’re you reading?” Despite four years of friendship, Ron had still apparently not learned that there were some questions he shouldn’t ask unless he really wanted the answer. Finally Hermione looked up.

“It’s kind of about this search,” she said.

He tried again. This was quite an unsuccessful pester so far. She was apparently able to ignore him without too much trouble. “What kind of search?”

“Well, the main character’s father disappears mysteriously and the story is about trying to find him.” Hermione glanced at him for a moment and then went back to reading.

“That sounds kind of interesting,” Ron said, trying to keep her from getting involved in the pages again. “Maybe I’d want to borrow it. What’s it called? Does it have Muggle pictures in it?”

“Not really,” she said absently. “It’s just an average Muggle book. No big drawings or anything. But it’s just great reading. I’ve already read it eight or nine times.”

Eight or nine times? She’s utterly insane. Completely barking.

“You didn’t say what it was called.”

She sighed. “It’s on the cover of the book. Here.” She finally seemed to give up and she handed the small paperback over to him.

Ron read the cover aloud. “ A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. That almost sounds like some kind of wizarding book.”

“Actually, it is, sort of,” Hermione said. “There’s magic, but it’s kind of more like science. I guess—”and she blew out a breath while she appeared to search for the right description— “more like Arithmancy than, say, Divination.” She rolled her eyes at the mention of her most deeply despised subject at Hogwarts. “Your dad might like it. He likes electricity—he might like how Muggles write about science and how they make up magic in their stories, even though they don’t have real magic like we do.”

Ron kept holding onto the book. If he had it, she couldn’t go back to reading it. “Well, maybe I’d like it, then, too. Why wouldn’t I like it?”

“I don’t know,” she said, shrugging. “I just never thought you’d have much interest in it—I thought you’d prefer your Marvin Miggs comics to Muggle books, even if they were really good books.”

“I like books just fine,” he insisted, a bit insulted. “Just because I don’t have a private table and practically an extra bed in the library doesn’t mean I don’t like to read.”

Her eyes narrowed. “There is nothing wrong with the library. It’s not my fault that you can’t appreciate the range of writings that Hogwarts offers.”

Ah, this was turning out to be a fine pester indeed.

“This isn’t a Hogwarts book, is it?” Ron said logically. “So why would you lump my attitude towards disgusting-smelling old books that Mrs. Norris has probably had lots of nasty little kittens on with simple Muggle books that won’t bite or scream or claw me?”

Hermione sighed. “Fine. I apologize. Maybe you’d like it.”

He sat up a little straighter. “Maybe I would. So what makes it such a good Muggle book, then, anyway?”

“It’s got an interesting storyline. I said it was about this search, right?”

“Yeah.”

“So this girl’s father disappears and nobody knows where he’s disappeared to, and he was this really brilliant Muggle scientist who was working on something top-secret, and no one will tell her exactly what happened to him, and then something happens—which I won’t tell you, because if you do read it, you should see for yourself, but anyway she and these two boys go out searching for her father.”

“Oh. It’s about a girl.”

Hermione gave him a withering look. “What’s wrong with it being about a girl, I’d like to know?”

Oops.

“Nothing is wrong with girls. Really.” Don’t go from ordinary pester to fight, Ron told himself. If you do that, then you won’t have anyone to talk to until Harry gets his lazy bum out of bed.

“Anyway, this girl”—Hermione narrowed her eyes at him then—“well, her name is Meg and she’s about our age, and she’s very smart, but she never seems to fit in—she always feels like an outsider.”

Ron nodded, trying to look interested. He looked at the cover of the book again. There was a picture of some big thing like a centaur on it.

Hermione was still going on in rapturous detail. “. . . and she has this little brother named Charles Wallace. She loves him so much. Other people don’t understand why she’s so devoted to him.” She was babbling now.

He began to have second thoughts about pestering her any more. Carefully, Ron set the book down next to him, and stared at Hermione. She was gesturing rapidly now and her cheeks flushed as she continued. Wow, he thought, she looks almost beautiful when she gets so excited about some—

He cut that sentence off immediately and forced himself to actually listen before he could think anything else weird about Hermione.

“. . . I mean, she’d do anything for her brother. Anything. He’s special. There’s just something about him—he’s got gifts that other people just don’t understand. Even she doesn’t understand them, but she loves him anyway and wants to keep him safe, because she just knows that something could happen to him because he’s so different and so special.”

She was speaking faster and faster now—he couldn’t help but get a bit caught up in her zeal. He leaned forward and really started to pay attention to what she was saying.

“And then there’s this Calvin character. At first I didn’t even understand why he was in the story. He’s this tall skinny redhead with a million brothers and sisters and he’s kind of embarrassed because his family doesn’t have a lot of money. And he just didn’t seem like he could fit in the story. He wasn’t smart like Meg or special like Charles but he’s there anyway. Even Meg doesn’t get it at first. It’s funny. But the three of them go off and search for her father, and then it turns out that Calvin really is important and really isn’t a nobody. He’s just as important as Meg or Charles Wallace to the story. Plus, it ends up that he likes—I mean, he and Meg—” She broke off. “I’m not telling you that. You’ll think it’s girly. If I tell you, you won’t read it. And the book really isn’t girly, it’s all adventure and it’s almost like it’s a half-magic, half-Muggle world. It’s wonderful!”

She sighed happily and leaned back into the chair.

Ron sat there, eyes round. He felt as though a herd of galloping books had trampled him. “Erm . . .” he managed to say at last.

“Oh, Ron, you don’t get it!” Hermione was practically glowing with enthusiasm. “Madeleine L’Engle writes people so realistically that I almost feel like I know the characters already. Sometimes I think they’re so familiar that I’m sure I’ve met them, or that I’ve been in their shoes before.”

“Well, they remind me of absolutely no one,” Ron said promptly. “You were right. Don’t think I’ll be reading that book. Got other things to do, y’know. Still good outside summer weather to take advantage of.” And he left so fast that even an Acceleration Charm would have appeared sluggish in comparison.

* * * *

“Huh,” Hermione said, almost to herself, as she watched her best friend’s back disappear down the hall. She shrugged, picked up the book he’d left on the sofa and went back to reading. If anyone had been looking, which no one was, not even anyone peeking nervously from the hall over his shoulder, that person who certainly wasn’t looking would have noticed that she had a tiny smile on her face.

* * * *

A/N: Hee. I love that book. Yeah, okay, not everything about the characters parallel. As dear ickle Ronniekins would say, “that just proves . . . completely missed the point.”

//
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