The Sugar Quill
Author: B. Nonymous (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Mischief Managed  Chapter: Dispatch
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Mischief Managed. - B. Nonymous

Mischief Managed.

Author's Note: Usual disclaimers apply - I'm just having fun.

I appear to have acquired Rowling's Disease. Every subsequent piece gains substantial bulk. :) Please read I Solemnly Swear..., and ...That I Am Up To No Good. first. Thanks to Mrs. Nonymous (Lily to my James) and beta extraordinaire Night Zephyr for their beta readings!


Dispatch

"Voldemort will be leaving no stone unturned looking for Mr. Pettigrew. We must do the same, and get to him first."

The small crowd in Headmaster Albus Dumbledore's office stood in silence after he spoke.

Hogwarts alumni Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were looking over a map, the Marauder's Map, which they had helped to create. They and their two other friends from their Hogwarts days - James Potter and Peter Pettigrew, put a little bit of their own essences into that piece of parchment. The essences of their two remaining friends had just appeared on its surface. With only one sentence apiece, the missing Marauders had forced the entire gathering into silence.

Hogwarts faculty members Albus Dumbledore and Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall demarcated the emotional range of the crowd. McGonagall was sniffling and holding back tears. She was amazed that, after disappearing from Hogwarts grounds five hours earlier, the three missing students had returned. She was equally amazed that Peter Pettigrew, formerly a servant of Lord Voldemort, had somehow found his way back to the light, saving those three missing students along the way. Dumbledore's urgent call to action was meant to remind the crowd that Pettigrew was missing, and must be found before Lord Voldemort punished his doubly-traitorous servant.

Hogwarts students Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger were teetering between elation and exhaustion. They were elated in having escaped from their five hour ordeal at the Riddle Mansion. They were exhausted for the identical reason. The faculty, students, and staff of the school knew only that the three Gryffindors had gone missing between the end of classes and the Halloween Feast that evening. They did not know precisely what had happened.

Dumbledore continued, "Remus, Sirius - Apparate to Little Hangleton as soon as you can. Make sure you are adequately prepared, and as always, try and follow Alastor's standard advice."

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled again, and a small smile broke across every face in the room. Everyone there knew of Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody's standard advice: "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!"

Sirius walked over and leaned in to Harry to whisper. "Harry, may we borrow the map? It'll help us find Peter quickly, and it's far less dodgy than some of the more mundane detectors."

Harry tied "Alastor" and "borrow the map" together for a second - flashing back to his fourth year - and hesitated. He had lent the map to whom he believed to be the real Mad-Eye Moody. That man turned out to be Bartemus Crouch Jr., a Death Eater - one who had never hidden his loyalties to Voldemort. Harry then, suddenly, remembered he was talking with his beloved godfather.

"Of course!" Harry replied.

"Cheers, then," said Sirius. He nodded at Lupin, who folded up the map and put it in his cloak. He then hugged Harry, patting him on the back. Harry hugged back simultaneously, but without nearly as much fervor given his weakened state.

Sirius transformed back into a big black dog and walked out with Remus. The rest of Hogwarts thought that the dog was Visiting Professor Remus Lupin's pet. Lupin's public reason for returning to Hogwarts was to assist in Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. The real reason was to help the Order of the Phoenix, including Sirius himself, keep a watch over Harry.

"And now, you three," Dumbledore looked at Harry, Ron, and Hermione, "please tell us exactly what you were doing before you disappeared."

"Ron and I had finished Quidditch practice," said Harry.

Ron continued. "Yeah, we had both started to put on our normal shoes. The inside of one of them felt... wet. And when I felt the wetness, I felt like I'd touched a Portkey."

Hermione jumped in with, "I had the same thing happen to me in the Library. I went back to my favorite table, sat down, and felt that tug."

Dumbledore paused and thought about what they had said. He walked over his small fireplace, and threw some Floo Powder in. The image of Arabella Figg, the elderly Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, appeared.

"Albus? Are they back?!?"

"Yes, Arabella, they are back. I would like you to find Mr. Filch. Both of you should then inspect the Gryffindor Quidditch locker rooms, and the tables and chairs near the History section of the library. Look for trace elements, residues, or anything else you can find. I will have additional items you will need to inspect, afterwards."

Hermione gaped at Dumbledore, surprised he knew her favorite table in the library. Professor Figg, however, showed no surprise and simply nodded her head in agreement before she disappeared from Dumbledore's fire.

"Harry, Ron, please give me your shoes," said Dumbledore as he conjured replacement shoes for the two of them.

"I hope Professor Figg will find a clue of some sort." Dumbledore then shook his head and started to sit down, "I am afraid, however, that Voldemort has one or more agents in his employ here at Hogwarts. And after your escape, I doubt they will surface again for many weeks, perhaps even months.

"Would you please tell me now what happened after you disappeared?"

Hermione spoke first, as if she wanted to purge herself of her story, "I appeared in a circle of... of Death Eaters..."

Hermione's surroundings flashed around her. One second, she was in her favorite spot in the Hogwarts Library. The next, she was in a darkened room. The only source of light was a large fireplace - she could see its flames behind a subset of the circle of robed figures that surrounded her. She heard a hissing sound, but instead of a snake, it was one of the robed figures. She had never seen Lord Voldemort in person, until now.

"Ahhh, the Mudblood. So nice of you to join us. Your friends will be here shortly, and I'd very much like them to join you. My associate -" he glanced at one of the robed and masked figures, "- says that your friends may appear outside this room. I need them to come in here if we are to celebrate properly this evening."

He looked at another figure. It was also robed and masked, but much smaller, and, Hermione thought, trembling.

"Wormtail - make her cooperate. Use any means you see fit," leered Voldemort.

The Death Eater - Hermione knew that this one's name was Peter Pettigrew - hesitated, then aimed his wand at Hermione and said, "
Imperio!"

Normally, Hermione would have tried to fight the waves of bliss overcoming her. She was caught by surprise, however, and succumbed to them - drowning in obedience and a complete lack of pain. Voldemort laughed - cutting through the air of the darkened room. Several Death Eaters joined him in laughing as he spoke.

"An interesting choice, Wormtail. This gives me an idea. And once again, Nagini," he looked over his shoulder at another source of hissing, one Hermione could not see, even if she had so wished, "I will have to deprive you of nourishment for the time being. When we have Potter secured, I will bring you along for tonight's activities."

Voldemort laughed even harder. Hermione could do nothing but stare blankly at the man who placed her under the Imperius Curse. That man shuddered internally at placing a poor innocent Mudblood... no... poor innocent girl, under one of the Unforgivables.

"And where were you two while this was going on?" asked Dumbledore, looking at Harry and Ron.

"We flashed into a room in a house. We were only there a few seconds when we heard Hermione shouting," answered Ron.

Voldemort's head turned, as if he heard something nobody else did.

"I believe our other guests have arrived. Mudblood, call for Potter!"

Only once before had Hermione felt this helpless - when she saw the Basilisk reflected in the mirror, knowing that she would not be able to reveal what creature had been terrorizing Hogwarts all year. She now felt the same as she started to shout.

"Harry! Harry! I'm in here!"

As Hermione's heart broke, she heard "
Stupefy!" shouted twice. Two thuds to the ground later, the Dark Lord spoke again.

"Macnair, take the girl and give her something to read... perhaps some new curses for her repertoire. And put the runt of the Weasley litter into interrogation. We'll deal with him later."

One of the Death Eaters whispered something into Hermione's ear. She then followed him toward the red-haired pile on the ground. The Death Eater invoked, "
Mobilicorpus," and forced the unconscious Ron to walk out of the room, with Hermione walking behind him.

As soon as Walden Macnair had turned right at the end of the hallway, he escorted Hermione into a sparsely furnished bedroom. He grabbed a book from the bookshelf, and handed it to her.

"Give me your wand. Read this. Learn the Cruciatus Curse. Maybe later, you can practice on the Weasley boy."

Macnair smiled saying this. He then closed the door, locking it before he completely shut it. He then opened the next door. He waved the wand at Ron's body, shouting "
Accio!" several times. Macnair examined his booty, two wands, and some odd-looking cakes. He then uttered a Banishment Charm, and Ron's body flew, face first, against the far corner of a blood-stained empty room.

He placed the children's belongings in the study at the end of the hall, and returned to the parlor.

Harry shook his head, the weight of being the Boy Who Lived showing on his face, and tempering his voice.

"They woke me up with the Cruciatus Curse..."

As Macnair returned to the parlor, two Death Eaters had just placed Harry's unconscious form where Hermione had been earlier.

"It's time to wake up the boy," Voldemort drew his wand and took aim.

"
CRUCIO!"

Harry's body shuddered, he then opened his eyes widely and started to scream. The parlor brewed with the simultaneous sounds of laughter and screaming, the ratio of one part screaming to several parts laughing providing equal intensities of both sounds. Peter remained silent.

Voldemort raised his wand, the Death Eaters falling silent at his motion.

"In a few hours, boy, I will finish the job I started fifteen years ago to the hour. In the meantime, we will attend to Nagini's hunger." He glanced at the same 'associate' he had glanced at earlier, "and we will also have some fun with Mudbloods beforehand. It's always fun to play with your food, or your pet's food, as the case may be."

Harry felt ill. He also looked longingly toward the hallway, where he remembered running in. He managed to speak, "Ron... Hermione..."

"Your friends are indisposed. Don't worry, they won't be harmed. I plan on sending them back to Hogwarts." More laughter ensued before several Death Eaters Apparated away, leaving only Voldemort and Peter.

Voldemort turned to Harry, smiling. "You won't be left here all alone, Harry. I have some old... friends... to keep you company."

He laughed again and turned towards Peter. "Wormtail, go fetch them. Then collect his things."

Voldemort Apparated out. Harry, weary from Voldemort's Cruciatus Curse, heard three "
Accio!"s. Before he finished searching his robes for his missing wand, Invisibility Cloak, and Marauder's Map, six dementors surrounded him, draining him of any remaining will.

The trio then proceeded to tell them how Peter, apparently inspired by the Marauder's Map, freed them.

"I, for one, am glad your brothers have put their talent to good use, Mr. Weasley. I am sure they had your safety in mind when they gave you those Canary Creams. One never knows when one might need to make a quick escape."

Ron blushed, "I'm glad I remembered them." Ron also remembered the real reason he had three long-lasting Canary Creams, and that Harry had his own special supplies. Harry and Ron were going to pull a prank on Professor Trelawney, in retaliation for a particularly harsh detention they received earlier in the month. The cloak would let them sneak in undetected, the map was their early-warning system, and the creams were for a quick getaway. Ron had brought an extra cream in case they could convince Hermione to join them.

Dumbledore now turned to Professor McGonagall. "Minerva, please escort Harry, Ron, and Hermione back to Gryffindor Tower."

Ron interrupted, "Can we stop at the owlery? I need to get Pig, and Harry, can I borrow Hedwig?"

"Sure," replied Harry quietly, not wanting to prolong the interruption.

"Of course, Mr. Weasley," replied McGonagall with her unique mixture of tartness and concern.

Just before they left his office, Dumbledore said, "Miss Granger, your parents will be quite safe. They have their Parents Kit, and I'm sending someone over to check in on them."

Hermione looked visibly relieved. Ron winced in his ignorance, not even considering that Hermione's Muggle parents would probably be Voldemort's next target. He held her hand tighter and whispered to her, "I charmed and tested their kit personally. I reckon it'll work if someone shows up."

Professor McGonagall led the trio out of Dumbledore's office. Fawkes, now back on his perch, chirped one last time to Harry. Harry smiled back at the phoenix as he closed the door.

Dumbledore stood back up again to visit his fireplace. As he did before, he threw in a pinch of Floo Powder. This time, a grizzled old man stood in the fire.

"Alastor, there is little time to talk. You have the addresses of the Muggle-born parents. Apparate to the Granger household as quickly as you can. Find help if you need it, but hurry - they are in terrible danger."

Mad-Eye Moody growled slightly, then spoke, "Potter escaped, did he? That boy is going to be worse than his father, you know."

Dumbledore smiled. "I certainly hope so, Alastor. Now hurry."

Stay tuned for the next chapter - Discussion.
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