The Sugar Quill
Author: Amiable Dorsai (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Mission of Darkness  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.

Mission of Darkess Mission of Darkness

A Harry Potter Fanfiction by Amiable Dorsai.

Disclaimer: Everything Harry Potter is the property of the Divine J.K. Rowling.  I thank her for letting us  play with her toys.
I would also thank NightZephyr for a bang-up beta read and more than one encouraging word.

The intruder appeared outside of Ottery St. Catchpole just before midnight.  The July air was unseasonably chilly, but the hooded black cloak he wore kept him warm enough.  He scrutinized the house on the hill, spying for signs of activity.  In the moonlight, he could easily make out the outlines of the ramshackle dwelling where his target should be.  There were no lights on inside.  Excellent.  His mission would be much simpler if the household were all asleep. The moon was bright, brighter than he liked, but at least it would prevent him blundering in the darkness.  Just stick to the shadows, there’s the ticket.

He moved carefully, alert for any watcher who might spot him, any traps, any magic that might betray his presence.  There were wards, but they were old, the intruder evaded them with practiced ease.  They really should have updated those, he thought, makes this too easy.

Once in the garden, he crept cautiously toward the house, avoiding the gravel path. He paused at the door, listening carefully for the sounds of wakeful occupants.  The house was very old, and had been cobbled together over generations.  The floorboards would creak when walked upon. That could be sorted easily. He cast a featherweight charm on himself. With less weight, he would put less strain on the floorboards.   It would make walking a bit clumsy, but putting a silencing charm on the floor would also prevent him from hearing potential discoverers.  He had no intention of being caught tonight, no. That would be disastrous.

He was under no illusions; impoverished as they might be, the people who belonged in this house were powerful wizards.  These days, they would certainly hex first and ask questions later.  Even meeting one of the children awake would be a problem. They would make enough noise to rouse their parents, at least, and the twins--well the twins were dangerous in their own right--especially together, and they were always together.

There was a ghoul in the attic as well, he knew.  He had no fear of it, but a ghoul could raise a ruckus that might wake the occupants.  This had to be done quickly and silently.

He reached for the knob, then saw, just in time, that his information was out of date.  There had been some security improvements, after all.  A lock, a brand-new, shiny, Muggle lock was on the door, where no lock had been before.  He pondered this.  It would be enchanted, this lock, of Muggle origin or no.  He was certain of that.  It would be a clever enchantment, difficult to detect before the jinx was tripped.  The man who enchanted it had seen all the tricks.  Arthur Weasley, eccentric as he sometimes appeared to be, was no fool.

That had become quite clear since the Dark Lord’s return.  His return had put the kneazle with the gnomes, no mistake.

His own life, the life he had so carefully, so painstakingly built, had been turned upside down. He had never expected He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to ever return.  Neither had his associates, for all they now claimed otherwise.  Arthur Weasley had known, though.  Oh yes, he had.  He was amazingly well connected for such a low-level bureaucrat.  More than a bureaucrat though, wasn’t he?  He worked with Dumbledore.  He had been one of those actively fighting the Dark Lord for more than a year while nearly everyone else was living in denial.

No, if Arthur Weasley had put that lock on the door, a simple 'Alohamora' wasn’t going to open it, not safely and quietly.  Apparition?  Disappear from the doorstep and reappear next to his target?  Risky--the lock had shaken his confidence in his information.  What if things had been… rearranged?  He could blunder into a bit of moved furniture, or find that his target wasn’t in the room he expected.  Besides, his apparition skills were good, but not perfect.  He still made a bit of noise when he popped in, for all his practice.

If he just Apparated into the kitchen, he probably wouldn’t make enough noise to rouse anyone upstairs though.  He peered into the kitchen window, straining at the darkness for any sign of movement.  Nothing, and there was a wide-open space by the cooker.  Perfect.

There was soft whoosh outside and an almost simultaneous whoosh by the cooker as he performed the Apparition spell.  Just right.  The intruder prided himself on doing everything just right.  No amateurish bangs for him, when he Apparated.

He froze, listening carefully for any reaction to his entrance. His eye fell on a moonlit wall, covered in photographs.  Dozens of red-haired figures dozed in the moonlight.  Here and there, a black-haired boy with a scar, and a bushy-haired girl could be seen, most often with a freckled boy grown quite tall in the more recent photos.

The wall of photos shook him down to his soft, dark shoes.  Here was love, an overflowing fountain of it. He had turned his back on love, opting for power.  The love, he had thought, would come back when he got the power, when everyone could see that his was the only realistic choice.  All he had now though, was a cauldron of ashes.  It was too late for love, now.  He was sure of that, he had made his choice. There would be no forgiveness for him, no matter how wrong he now knew that choice to be.  That letter, so full of bitterness, recrimination, threats---he would not have believed his youngest brother capable of such rage.  The rest of the family would surely be worse.  There was also, of course the Ministry to worry about, but that now seemed like such a small thing.

Back to his mission, woolgathering was no use: get in, get the target, get out.  That was the way.  Woolgathering, hah, he smiled grimly to himself.  He had made a joke.  Wouldn’t they be surprised if they knew?

Up the stairs then, watch for the loose boards.  Lightweight as he was after the charm, there was still the possibility of a creaking tread.  He put much of his remaining weight on the banister.  It bent, but it did not creak  The ancient house groaned though.  He stiffened, fearing that one of the family had gotten out of bed.  No, the wind must have picked up.  That sound was the whole building protesting as the wind put a strain on its centuries-old superstructure.

He listened some more.  Something was wrong.  He should hear something besides the complaints of an elderly house.  There should be snoring, at least.
Could he have been detected, after all?  Was someone waiting to ambush him past the landing?

No, he didn’t think so, somehow.  The house felt empty, almost abandoned.  If everyone was out, that made his job easier, but the thought was troubling.  Where had they gone?  Why had they gone?  Was the target still here?  Biting down panic, he made his way up the stairs as stealthily as he could.  One short flight, second floor, ah, there was the room he wanted.

In quickly, no noise, don’t let the hinges squeak.  In.  The bureau, it would be there, he was sure of it.  That’s where she would put it.  She was very predictable, sometimes.  Not the top drawer, down one.  Yes, there it was, still in its wrapping.

Swiftly, he picked it up, gathering it to himself in a hug.  “Oh, Mum,” he groaned.

Percy Weasley had his Christmas sweater back.  With a soft whoosh, he apparated out of the Burrow for what he was certain would be the very last time.

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