Rating: Oh, nothing terrible yet.

Disclaimer: Yes, yes. I disclaim.

Reviews: I feed on nettles and the occasional thorn. Do supply.

Summary: The insufferable Potter must be made to learn a thing or two. Though I may well keep this as a one-shot, in which case the summary would have to be quite different. How shifty of me.

"One more word out of you, Potter, and it will be etched into your eyelids."

Harry glared at the blurry quill poised in front of him, so close that his eyes crossed trying to focus. It was an ordinary quill- a cheap little EagleStic 39, in fact.

"Funny you should say that," huffed the quill. "You thought me the pinnacle of arcane clockwork once."

"Sorry. I didn't mean to be rude."

The quill took the liberty of moving a breath closer to the bridge of Harry's nose.

"This plume has fought in wars, my lad. Perhaps you could show some respect."

And, in fact, the EagleStic 39 had once been considered revolutionary on account of its nib's having two slits, rather than the traditional one, as well as an anticoagulant coat on the tip of the tip for longevity.Some had turned their noses up at it, smelling a marketing ploy; but it had quickly become clear that the collective wizardly consciousness had begun paying as much attention to its quills as to what one wrote with them. The market had degenerated into orgy. A wave of imitators (most notably the ClawHawk and Trinity lines) had scrambled onto the blotting-paper of the EagleStic's success, though none rivalled the Eagle itself- ruffles and bells notwithstanding. The transformation of the stationery sub-culture had been phenomenal. In less than a month the single-slitted Noxaprime VI had become quaint, medieval; a year later it was extinct everywhere but in the margins of Potions exams.

All this, however, was before the Trismegestus-3 came out. It claimed to be made of a single Ruch feather, imported from one of the overlapping plethorae of deserts in Arabia and treated with balms in Egypt. Its plume was uniquely aerodynamic. Its nib sported three- three- slits, cut at angles that would make an Arithmancer proud. Most importantly, it came laced with a charm guaranteed to make the most doctorish handwriting legible for twelve weeks before it needed to be retouched. Professorshad recommendedit to their students as the worthiest of all possible frivolity.

"Nothing frou-frou about me," the quill continued, stabbing the air for emphasis. "When you misspell the names of historical figures, do I complain? When your sums are incorrect, do I cane you? No. I am a servant; I keep your secrets-"

"Not from Snape," thought Harry bitterly.

"He has an interesting relationship with his handwriting," agreed the quill. "It was quite an experience- his handwriting, I mean."

Snape had handled this particular quill once when he'd caught Harry opining on a charmed half-scrap of parchment about the Potions' Master's tics. The other half of the scrap had been immediately stashed in a book, but Snape had discovered Harry's interlocutor by forcing the quill to rat on the other party's quill. Hermione had spent their entire detention speculating- aloud and at length- about how Snape had known, and whether the weak point of the charm could have been fixed by an Oath, and in what language, and whether Snape knew any Hebrew. Harry was unsure whether Hermione or Filch had contributed more to the agony of that detention.

The EagleStic's heydey had faded almost as abruptly as it had begun. After the Trismegestus became cheap enough for the population to own, the EagleStic had found itself relegated to the dustier shelves of Flourish and Blotts. It was sold in ribbons of three. It was then sold at a discount. People who once treasured it threw its successors away or forgot them on counters and tabletop cracks; once an object of value, it was now a mere exercise in first-year Transfiguration.

"Err, it's his insanity that's being quite the experience at the moment..." Harry glanced at Snape and drew a breath. "Look. We've been together a long time, haven't we? We've been good to each other- you more than me, but I'm sorry about that and I'll be really nice in future; I promise. Couldn't you just-"

"He has an amazing touch," the quill replied, twitching a little. "Besides, he recognises my true potential. Unlike some snooty children. I am a warrior, Mr. Potter, in case you failed to notice. Waiting around for you to realise that study is a serious business will never get me the respect I deserve."

"Respect? From Snape?"

"It is a concept rather foreign to you Gryffindors," sniffed the quill. "And- really, Mr. Potter, do be frank- would you pass up the opportunity to write in blood rather than cold edelberry juice for a change?"

Harry had to admit that this was an excellent point.

"So all this time I've been using a Slytherin-hearted quill."

But this is not the story of the quill; for though it felt itself liberated it was, still, a very ordinary quill. And though it believed its story to be a tragic and intricate one, full of misunderstandings and misappreciations and heroism, it was in reality filled with little more than petty concerns about Euclid. Indeed, had the quill poised in front of Harry been any other quill in the world, the conversation would have been much the same. The priorities of quills are not those of boys.

Worthless feather. Harry would certainly have swatted it away if he wasn't being held motionless in a full-body bind.

In the opposite corner stood Snape, equally motionless.

It was unclear whether he was controlling the EagleStic 39 with his wand or with the uncompromising line of his lips.