The Sugar Quill
Author: Llewella d'ambre  Story: This Past of Mine  Chapter: Prologue
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Prologue

Prologue

***

"Come here, I've got something that might interest you."

Harry glanced up from his plate and looked warily over at Mad-Eye Moody’s hunched form.

The gnarled wizard beckoned with one of his stubby fingers, then went about trying to excavate something from the depths of a pocket, his magical blue eye focused on Harry all the while.  

Somewhat unwillingly, Harry rose.  He felt his feet moving him closer and closer to Moody, who had finished rummaging and was now holding out a photograph.

Harry was quite a few paces away, but he could just make out the movements of people happily waving and holding up glasses, going through the motions of a get-together. 

Harry’s curiosity kindled into flame at the sight of the small, square slip of a photograph and he felt himself moving towards it.  Part of his mind wanted desperately for him to stop, to turn on his heel and run from the room and the photo.  Unfortunately, that part of his mind did not control his body.  The curiosity had overcome any resistance.  His feet did not cease their inexorable shuffle toward the old wizard, his gash of a mouth twisted into a grotesque parody of a smile.

C'mon, mate, get out of here! Run! Don't look at the picture! Harry's mind screamed. You know what it is! Don't look!!

He knew he should listen to that small voice. He knew he shouldn't look. He knew this was wrong.

…then don't! You've seen enough of those bad horror pictures Dudley watches to know what happens to the guy who opens the door he knows he shouldn't!

But he was aware that he was not in control of his body anymore. He couldn't turn back. His feet stopped and his body lurched to a halt in front of Moody - his curiosity getting the better of him.

"Original Order of the Phoenix," the man's voice growled.

As though in slow motion, Harry's eyes looked from Moody's mismatched pair and then down to the photo.  He was aware of nothing save for the people inside the faded matte paper.  

They beamed up at him, familiar faces mingling with the unfamiliar.
 
 
Harry's stomach executed a nervous flip as he watched a young woman, standing next to an equally young Sirius - whose tan features and expressive eyes painted a picture of young, happy man - glance questioningly at a door in the background.  Obviously, someone was knocking.

She excused herself and rose, laughing, tossing her hair and giving Sirius a light punch in the arm. Harry watched the woman walk back to the door. He felt like throwing up.

Don't open it! Oh, please, don't open it!

The woman did not hear his silent plea.  She flung the door open as though expecting to see an old friend.

Complete terror flooded Harry's veins as he saw the beings standing in the doorway. Death Eaters.

The woman's mouth opened in a silent scream.  Harry saw every head in the group in the foreground snap to attention.

In the brief second before the Death Eaters flooded into the room, shooting rays of brilliant lime green light this way and that, Harry saw every person cast in relief. 

Dumbledore, his wise old face twisted with the closest thing to fear Harry imagined it could reach. Mad-Eye himself, his wand at the ready, a jet of red light already issuing from the tip.  Professor Lupin, looking young and brave – his hair not yet touched with gray, his face still open and innocent - stepping in front of a woman to shield her from the attack. Sirius leaping forward, trying frantically to reach the horrified woman who had opened the door, followed closely by Harry's father, his hazel eyes flashing with fear, who was at this moment looking back over his shoulder, yelling something to Lily, whose face was white with panic. 

Other faces, all perfectly painted pictures of horror, met Harry's eyes. One person, however, stood out. It was a small man, standing to the side, looking pleased with himself.

The man in the photo smiled and looked up, meeting Harry's gaze.

Hot, writhing anger seeped through the cold fear in the pit of Harry's stomach as his green eyes met the watery blue of Peter Pettigrew. Wormtail. The willing murderer and betrayer of his parents. He began to shake. 

"Beautiful, is it not, the wonders I am able to create?" Wormtail whispered, gesturing to the frozen picture of terror around him. "I am so much greater in the Dark Lord's service than I could ever have been in the Order. If I had had the chance, I would have turned the lot of these duffers in." Pettigrew smiled a cold, lazy smile. "As it would turn out, I may yet have that chance. Won't you join us, Harry?"

And suddenly Wormtail's small, pale hand was reaching, reaching out of the photo and grabbing the front of Harry's jumper, tugging fiercely.

"Join us, Harry, come and die just like your parents did!" he cackled.

Harry opened his mouth to scream, but found himself falling instead, tumbling right into the photo.

***

"Ah!" Harry let out a yelp of fear and pain.

He sat up, his breathing heavy and laboured - sweat prickling his skin. Somewhere in the darkness Ron let out a grunt and shuffled around in his bedsheets.

Dream, just a dream, must've fallen out of the bed, thought Harry, putting a hand over his wildly thumping heart. He looked about him, trying to gather his wits and erase the cold feeling in his stomach.

He was lying on the cold wooden floor of the small room he had been sharing with Ron at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place since his arrival a couple of weeks ago.

Harry rose to his feet shakily, trying to be as quiet as he could about getting back to bed. He did not care to wake Ron, lest he have to yet again have to load worry onto his friends, and deal with the endless inquiries into the nature of his nightmares.  No, there was no need to hand away problems to his friends, especially not about silly dreams. 

The floor let out one loud creak as Harry finished throwing his blankets back onto the bed, but luckily Ron merely let out a sleepy snore.

Once he had settled himself back into the bed, he closed his eyes.  But no matter how hard he tried, he could not block the images of the original Order.

Moody had shown him the photo earlier that evening.  While nothing as awful as what happened in his dream came about when he had looked at the actual photo, it had still disturbed him.  Evidently enough to affect his dreams.  He shuddered, remembering how quickly the happy faces had morphed into masks of terror and death.

His logical mind might have known nothing like that had happened to the original Order, but his heart also knew that half the people in the photo would be robbed of the chance to live full lives, many even before another full year could pass. 

His parents included. 

Moody might be able to look at the smiling, cheery faces of his former colleagues and still speak nonchalantly about their impending deaths, as though being blown to bits or tortured to madness was a normal occurrence…

…but Harry couldn't.

Those people, the original Order, were more than just faces in a tattered old photo. They were more than simply a few casualties in a war. They were wizards and witches who had been willing to give their lives for good. They weren't faces, they were lives. In the darkness of his room, Harry felt hot tears stinging his eyes - and he shook his head angrily - trying to blink them away. Those faces represented lives not only of the person pictured, but also of people and families that would never be the same again.

People like me, families like mine…

Rolling over onto his side, Harry pulled his knees to his chest and tried to force himself to sleep. He was leaving for Hogwarts the next morning, and Mrs. Weasley would certainly notice if he was looking peaky.

A few tears slipped out of his eyes as he squeezed them shut. Surely those faces had stories to tell, but tonight was not the night to ponder such matters. He drifted off into another dream-riddled sleep, and by morning the original Order would be the farthest thing from his mind.

***

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