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21 December 2008 @ 10:21 am
Letters and Secrets  

Challenge Twenty-One: Winter Holidays Past
Title: Letters and Secrets
Author: verseblack
Wizard/Witch: Phineas Nigellus Black/Ursula Flint Nigellus
Rating/Warnings: G/PG
Genre: Romance/Whimsy
Word count: Exactly 500
Prompt: 27. jewelled quill and parchment
Summary: Ursula works on Christmas cards...and a little something else.

Phineas Nigellus Black prided himself on being a man of many excellent qualities. He was brilliant, witty, and also an accomplished liar.

What he was not, however, was patient.

He found himself reminded of this particular failing while leaning against the doorway, watching his wife compose Christmas notes. Her head was bowed over the desk, her face a calm mask of concentration, completely absorbed in her task. Completely oblivious to him.

He shivered watching Ursula's slim fingers trace the edges of a leaf of parchment. Shivered again as she played the feathered end of her jewelled quill across her cheek and neck, the peacock iridescence vivid against her pale skin. Apparently jealously was another yet failing he would have to add to the list, he thought wryly.

“Must you spend so much time on those letters? This is the second week you've spent shut up in your study alone.”

"Are you offering to compose a warm and friendly Christmas letter to the McMillians?" she asked innocently. “After the appalling tantrum Isadora threw when you refused to overturn her darling son's failing marks in Potions, I fear I am finding it difficult to find anything seasonally appropriate to say to them.”

“I am certain you will rise to this challenge as you do all others,” he said airily, then slipped quickly off to his own library before she made good on her threat to make him write out the holiday tidings.

A few hours later a scroll appeared in the fireplace and with a crackling pop exploded onto the floor. Breaking the seal he saw his wife's neat handwriting.

I have an early present for you.

Intrigued, he entered the study to see Ursula smiling. A small, green box sat in front of her. “Impatience seems to be a failing of mine, dear husband,” she said giving him a knowing wink. “I could not wait for Christmas to see your reaction, and I also know the brief life expectancy of secrets in this house.”

Phineas lifted the lid of the box. A tiny hedgehog blinked up at him. “A hedgehog?”

“Not just any hedgehog.” She deftly lifted the prickly creature and said, “Phoenix laughter.” Then, she sat the animal down on a stack of papers. The couple watched as the hedgehog, shuffled and sniffed thought the notes, then drug a piece of paper titled, “A Treatises on Phoenix Laughter in Dreaming Elixirs” off to the side and went back to snuffling through the pile.

“Your position at Hogwarts leaves you little time to keep up with your reading, so I devised a little helper to sort through papers. Tell it a subject and give it a stack of papers and it does the rest.”

“But that must have taken you ages to perfect.” He stared in wonder at the hedgehog, who, having finished its hunt, was curled up asleep on the stack.

“Well, yes, you don't think I would honestly devote two weeks to writing letters to people I can't stand?”

Author's Notes: I thought a busy wizard could use a magical "Google!"

Proof Reader: redvelvetcanopy

dickgloucesterdickgloucester on December 21st, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
LOL! That was really sweet!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Sea Isle Witch: Misc - A Unicorn Snowflakeseaislewitch on December 21st, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
I adore your Phineas and Ursula. They are both clever and witty, which makes for great reading. There's always an undercurrent of sensuality too. Nice touch to add the bit about the potions grade.

verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
With my husband and I finishing up end of term grades I had to add the bit about the potions grade :)

Thank you so very much for your comments! I love that this community gives me the chance to play with this couple.
LewlinX: Cupid&Psychelewlinx on December 21st, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
Ursula truly is Phineas perfect match!
What a wonderful fic!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
I almost made it a pig (such as the sort that hunt for truffles), but thought a hedgehog was cuter :)

Thanks so much!
atlantelatlantel on December 21st, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful idea! Indeed, a magical google would be really useful, especially to such a teacher!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm wishing Ursula would make me one to set loose on some of my books and magazines ;)
Bambubambu345 on December 21st, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
I loved this! I especially loved Phineas' self-knowledge and his determination not to act like a petulant little boy, even when he does.

I could also use a hedgehog just like that! I lose things all the time.
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Phineas does have a bit of a childish streak in him, doesn't he?

I think my own wishes for such a searching hedgehog "inspired" Ursula ;)
Somiglianasomigliana on December 21st, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a very clever, clever application of magic. A magical search "engine"!

Love it!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I had the worst time coming up with a proper magical gift--I'm so glad you liked it!
morethansirius: Hogwarts Happy Holidays!morethansirius on December 21st, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love your Phineas and Ursula. She is the perfect match for him in every way. I could do with a cute little googling hedgehog of my own. Such a thoughtful and ingenious gift!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I almost made the critter a pig (such as the sort that hunt for truffles), but thought a hedgehog was cuter :)
beffeysuebeffeysue on December 21st, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
A clever Ursula to create such a magical creature for Phineas! Who wouldn't want such a helpful critter?

Well done!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks! As I look at my stacks of papers I wish I could talk Ursula into making a search hedgehog for me ;)
redvelvetcanopy: Toujours Purredvelvetcanopy on December 21st, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)
I think the best part of this is that Phineas thinks he's the impatient one, when really, it's Ursula. This is my favorite of the pairings you write.
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
I have such fun with these two. Thanks again for your Proof-witchery!
Ni!allie_meril on December 21st, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Oh! *giggles* I do love this, Verse, it's wonderful. Ursula knows her husband very, very well.
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think those two are a good match!
Gelseygelsey on December 21st, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
BWahaha, a magical google. Excellent!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you! (Of course, now I want a magical Google!)
ladywhitehart: Seasonalladywhitehart on December 21st, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
*claps* I love you magical Google-er!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I had a lot of fun with it :)
closetravenclawclosetravenclaw on December 21st, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
*snorfle* Really cute--love the hedgehog. I like that your couple has various non-redeeming traits, and that they seem to share the same traits--a perfect match.
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! As you say, these two arent perfect, just perfect for each other ;)
MissBlane: Lumosmissblane on December 22nd, 2008 03:49 am (UTC)
What an awesome magical creature!

Good work!
verseblackverseblack on December 23rd, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!