The Sugar Quill
Author: Llewella d'ambre  Story: This Past of Mine  Chapter: Chapter 1. Alastor Moody - The Next Best Thing
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Alastor Moody

Alastor Moody

***

A teenage boy sat alone on a park bench that overlooked a large pond.

It was dusk, and the brilliant hues of sunset that had been previously reflected on the mirror-like surface of the water were now nothing more than a few faint stains of dark orange and pink. The boy watched the colors recede with blank eyes, his mind wandering.

He stood abruptly, shoving his hands deeply into his pockets. Feeling something odd, his brow furrowed and he fished out the offending object. The item was a small rectangular card, the laminate glinting in what was left of the light. 

The boy snorted disdainfully and flicked the card behind him. It lay there in the grass, the stark white color standing out glaringly. 

At the top, in bold letters, it proclaimed Hereford and Worcester County Bus Pass. Below this, in the right-hand corner was a picture of the boy. He was younger in the photo, fourteen perhaps, but his features were unmistakable. Dark brown eyes, the color helping make up for the fact that they were slightly too small, a large mouth, carefully molded nose - indeed, the one thing the boy liked most about himself - and a mop of thick coffee-colored hair. He looked casually bored in the photograph, but friendly enough.

Beside the picture, in smaller letters was the boy's identification. 

It read: Alastor Warrick Moody

1334 Rising Way

Weobley

The boy, Alastor Moody, walked to the edge of the pond. He shoved his hands into his pockets again, thinking deeply.

"S'not like I need that old thing any longer," he muttered to himself, thinking of the bus pass. "I'll be getting my license to Apparate any day now, anyway. I'd like to see dear old dad try and keep me from it…"

His brows drew together in contemplation. He had recently turned seventeen, finally old enough to take, and pass, his Apparition test. All that was needed now was for the license to come. 

Alastor had been waiting for the owl bearing the good news for days. He was somewhat afraid that his father might have received it and was planning on keeping it from him. 

His father was the reason he was out in Weobley's town park and not at home. The two had gotten into a horrid fight earlier in the afternoon… and he could remember every word.

***

"Did an owl come for me?" Alastor called as he rushed down a flight of stairs and swung around the banister, catapulting himself into the kitchen. His father was sitting at his usual place at the kitchen table, his nose buried in a copy of the London Times and a cup of steaming black coffee in front of him.

"Hmm?" the elder asked.

Alastor frowned. His father had been acting rather oddly lately… even more so than he had over the past year and a half,

 

ever since Anya Moody, his wife and Alastor's mother, had passed away. 

"I said did an owl come…"

Michael Moody set down his copy of the Times and looked at his son. "No."

Alastor rolled his eyes disrespectfully.

"Do that again, young man..." said Michael threateningly.

"What?" Alastor asked innocently. "Ask if any mail's come for me?"

Michael sighed. "You know what I mean. Besides, what do you have coming that's so important?"

"Apparition license."

The older man's face tightened. "I thought I had made it clear that I didn't want you doing any more of that mumbo-jumbo." 

"Well, you paid for seven years worth of it," Alastor said calmly, popping two slices of bread into the toaster. "I figured I might as well let you get your money's worth."

"I didn't pay for your years at that school by personal choice, Alastor," Michael retorted. "Your mother made me, she said if you had those skills, they ought be honored, she said…" his voice cut off, half-strangled with emotion. He cleared his throat and took a sip of coffee from the glazed mug.

"Besides," he continued, "I've signed you up for a training program this summer, over at the police academy. In Evesham."

Alastor's eyes widened. He dropped the knife he had been holding, which clattered loudly on the stone floor of the kitchen nook.

"Police academy? What the hell is that about?"

"Language, Alastor. And I'm doing it because you need to do something with your future… you can't get by on bloody magic tricks!" 

"I'm going to go work for the Ministry of Magic, maybe even be an Auror! There's no way I'll become a Muggle pleaseman!" Alastor looked horrified at the very idea, and he purposefully used the wizarding term for a police officer, knowing it would upset his father.

"You'll do no such thing! I don't have the money to pay for you to go gallivanting off to learn some more spells! You're going to go to this academy, whether you like it or not!"

"I'm seventeen! You can't make me do anything!"

"I can't, can I?"

With that, Michael Moody rose from his chair and took a threatening step towards his son. He was a foreboding presence: tall and heavily built, like a Beater. Alastor almost took a step backwards, but didn't. He steeled himself and glared coldly at Michael.

"That's right, you can't,” he stated flatly. "Besides, I don't see why you're objecting," he went on, staring grimly at his father. "You were an Auror, so why can't I be one? You've never even explained to me why you don't like magic anymore, why suddenly it's 'mumbo-jumbo.' In school people bloody loved me for being a Moody, for being your son, but if they could see you now, living like a Muggle…"

"For God's sake, Alastor!" Michael yelled, pounding a fist on the nearest counter hard enough to make the teakettle jump. "I have my reasons!”

"Don't give me the 'I have my reasons' rubbish you… you old hypocrite!" Alastor yelled, the volume of his voice inevitably rising at his father's inadequate response. "I deserve to know why you're against my chosen future!"

"I am your father and I will do as I please!" Michael roared. "And don't you dare insult me under this roof!"

"Fine, I'll go outside and yell it for the whole world to hear!" Alastor cried, throwing his hands into the air.

He turned on his heel and began to leave, but his father grabbed him by the arm.

"You are not to leave before I'm done with you!" he growled.

Alastor tore away, his shirt ripping in the process. The tattered scraps of fabric flapped madly as he deftly whipped his wand out of his pocket. 

"What do you plan to do, Dad?"

Alastor asked sarcastically, pointing his wand at his father. "I'll give you a good hex before I'll stay here and let you ruin my life. I'm not going to end up a has-been like you!"

He pointed the wand at the toaster, where his slices of toast were peeking out, exposing golden brown sides.

"Incendio!" he commanded, giving his wand a little flick. The toast immediately went up in flames.

He then turned and exited to the smell of burning toast and the sound of his father's expletives.

***

Alastor bit his lip. Michael had never been the perfect father, but he had never been this openly callous about his son’s career plans.

It was true that the elder had always been very secretive about his magical past, but he was usually fairly open-minded towards Alastor’s own abilities.

Alastor had only learned of witches and wizards when he had received a letter on his eleventh birthday, inviting him to begin schooling at Hogwarts. His father's face had fallen when he had seen the letter clutched in his son's chubby fist, and Alastor could remember his mother, his dear old mum, smiling softly at his father and saying, "He'll be fine, Michael, he'll be fine. Honestly, you hang more on the past than I do!"

He had never known what she had meant and had never questioned it. His years at Hogwarts had revealed that his father was a wizard, a former Auror, in fact. This had been surprising news, but it was all Alastor had ever learned of his father's past.

Every time he’d managed to find the courage to speak of it, his father would blow up.

With a depressed sigh, Alastor continued to wander around the bank of the pond, right on the water's edge. Soft mud made comfortable squelching noises from beneath his battered trainers. He wished his father would speak to him about his old life. If he chose now to live as a Muggle, fine, but why not at least tell his only child why he had chosen that life?

It didn't make sense at all.

Something awful must have happened to him, Alastor reckoned. No one just picks up a successful career as an Auror and throws it away. If he'd just tell me!

Frowning even more deeply, Alastor turned away from the pond. He was now determined to get answers from his father. He was going to march home and demand to be told what was being kept from him.

***

Alastor approached the small cottage on Rising Way with a dogged look in his eye. As he walked closer, however, he noticed that the neat white picket gate, something his mother had insisted upon, was sitting open, swinging slightly in the breeze. He had been sure to close it when he had left… even in a storming rage he would not have disrespected his mum enough to leave her precious gate open. A strange smoky cloud, greenish gray, hung in the air over the cottage. Alastor knew what it was immediately.

Abandoning all common sense and every lesson he had learned in his N.E.W.T Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, he sprinted up the walkway and burst into the house, his wand at the ready.

"Dad!"

His voice echoed in the still, quiet interior.

Alastor's stomach clenched painfully. 

Oh please God, no…

Suddenly, Alastor broke into a run, almost slipping on the stone floors, into the kitchen.

Michael Moody lay facedown on the floor, his arms and legs in limp, impossible positions.

Alastor flew to his father's side. "Dad!" he cried, turning the body over. The feel of his father's cold skin made Alastor's own crawl.

Michael's dark eyes were empty and glassed over.  The body was unmarked, showing no sign of a struggle.

But there remained no question of who murdered Michael Moody; it was clearly the work of dark wizards… Death Eaters, they were calling themselves now.

Alastor stared at his father's lifeless shell. He felt completely empty, void of emotion.

Avada Kedavra...

All he could manage to think about was that the last thing he had done was to insult his father and try to burn the house down.

"Dad, get up," Alastor tried, knowing nothing would happen and yet needing to speak to his father so badly. "I-I'm sorry. I'll go to the Muggle training school if that's what you want. Just get up, please!"

There was no response, as had been expected. Alastor then felt the all too familiar burn in his throat. Sobs were trying to make their way up. His vision blurred slightly. Forcing the tears back down, he glanced around, suddenly realizing that he, himself, could still be in danger.

He noticed a few sheets of parchment sitting on the kitchen table, resting on top of the Times. Without thinking, he grabbed them then fled. 

***

He wasn't sure how long he ran or in what direction, for he kept going until his burning lungs and tired legs couldn't take any more.

He didn't recognize this area. It was a swampy place, and as he walked cattails and marsh grass tore at his faded trousers.

He finally forced himself to stop and rest in a wooded area. He slumped to the ground, overcome with emotion.

Mum, dead. Dad, dead...

Only then did he feel a lump in his robe pocket. He pulled out the papers that he had grabbed off the table. He unfolded them slowly, examining his father's neat script.

Alastor,

As I write this, I can still make out the smell of burned toast. I cannot help but think on our quarrel. I am sorry, Alastor, really I am. But, you are too much like me for your own good. Your mother would have said that I am too protective, that I am suffocating you, though I will say that it is not without reason. Our quarrel was not your fault. It was my own. I knew that, someday, this day would come. I suppose I'm just not man enough to ever have told you the truth. Now, I hope you can forgive me. For my past and for the present. This is too long overdue.

Let it suffice to say that I had a bounty on my head. The Ministry forced me to lay low, if only to keep you and your mother safe for a while. The years rolled by, but the bounty was never recalled. I have been living like a Muggle ever since. The injustice of it all tears at my heart, and there is nothing more I could wish for than to see you excel in the most noble of wizarding professions - but I do not want you to end in ruin like your father. I do not wish to see you, ‘a has been,’ like me. 

You can cancel that training in Evesham, but please don't go off to train at the Ministry. Become a police officer… you will never look back, and I shall know that you are safe. I could not bear to lose you, Alastor. Not after your Mother. Please, Alastor, I beg you, listen to me. I can explain in more detail when you come home - oh! Alastor! I hope you come home! It is not the same here without you! 

I shall leave this in your room for you to read. But, please, seriously consider the Evesha--

The letter cut off at this point. In his mind's eye Alastor could see dark wizards, perhaps bounty hunters who had finally been clued into Michael's location, bursting into the room and sending the killing curse at his father, not even leaving the man enough time to yell.

For the first time since his mother had died, Alastor finally let himself cry. The tears seemed to flow ceaselessly, and only stopped when a large tawny owl swooped down and landed on a nearby log.

It cocked its head and hooted impatiently at Alastor, sticking its foot out to show the point more clearly.

Hands shaking, the boy quickly wiped his puffy eyes and then untied the letter. After reading his father’s letter, he has little desire to read this one.  Nevertheless, his curiosity got the better of him.  With shaking hands he found himself opening the heavy cream envelope.

Inside, a small rectangular card was tucked neatly between two papers. His Apparition license.

Alastor pulled it out and examined it for a long while. Then he read the papers. 

Slowly, after much thought, he pulled out a quill from his robe pocket and on the back of one of the sheets began to write in his messy scrawl.

***

A sheet of paper was on the ground, partially covered by leaves and damp underbrush. It had been lying there for days now, and was beginning to disintegrate into the soil. The author of the words written on the paper had long since gone, leaving the letter to be read by the occasional deer or owl.

Dad,

I miss you and love you. I know I probably never told you that, not once, but it's true. I wish I had said that to you as I stormed out, instead of calling you a Muggle. But I think you must've known, anyway. I read your letter, and I understand your concerns. But hiding your past as an Auror and trying to leave it all behind didn’t save Mum, and it didn’t save you.

Please understand, Dad, that I cannot become a pleaseman. I will not go to the Evesham academy. I will go to the Ministry. And eventually, be it months from now or years from now, I will catch the men who killed you. I have to become an Auror now. But don't worry, Dad, because compared to what you wanted for me; this is the next best thing.

Love always, 

Alastor.

***

//
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