The Sugar Quill
Author: Barbara the Wallpaper-er (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Insignis  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.

“I didn’t understand what you meant,” Peter said

Many thanks to my beta reader Yolanda, Queen of Grooviness. Kudos for the ladies of Flights of Fancy for the encouragement.

Regarding the use of JK Rowling's characters, standard disclaimers apply.


This story is a response to a dare ("You can't write prose!") and a niggling plot bunny that just wouldn't leave me alone, sneaking in during a songwriting session, interfering with the Musical and being generally bothersome.


This story is set during the First War.






 ‘Forgiveness is the final form of love.’ I didn’t understand what you meant,” he said. “Now I do.” The little man’s watery eyes brimmed with unshed tears in the dim light. He squatted on the dirt floor, just out of range of a woman wrapped in black filaments. “You knew, didn’t you. You knew what I’d become, what I’d do. You Saw it, didn’t you?”


“I –“


“Why didn’t you stop me?” The words seemed to strangle him on the way out. “Why didn’t you stop me from becoming – ?” He stopped himself.


“I couldn’t.” Her vision blurred. “No matter how very much I wanted to. I couldn’t take all your choices away from you. That’s what Voldemort does – I couldn’t do that to you.”


“You should’ve anyway. That’s what friends are supposed to do.”


“No,” she said gently. “Friends are supposed to stand behind you, whatever you choose to do. And when they need to, they stand against you, because they love you.” Her voice cracked. “That’s what friends are supposed to do.”


He straightened and his voice trembled.


“He’s going to kill you.”


“I know.”


“It’s going to hurt.”


“I know.”


~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~


“You’re a Hufflepuff! How can you be so brave?”


She stared at him in amazement. “Brave?”


“You’re so calm.” He was fidgeting now, jumping at every noise.


“I’m going to die,” she said, “and it’s going to hurt. A lot.”


He looked down at her with wide, frightened eyes. “You’ve Seen it?”


“Oh, yes. A dose of Crucio and a blast of the Killing Curse and – well, that’s all I See.” She squirmed a little on the floor. “Did – did Maris – ?”


“She’s dead.”


She was silent for a moment. “I… never Saw that. My nephew, Melville?”


His voice was sharp. “They’re all dead. We – the Dark Lord ordered the house be emptied.”


It was like being Portkeyed into the heart of a hurricane. In the center, cold dead air. Around, dangerously close, a maelstrom. Her breath hitched. “I – I had hoped my immediate surrender …”


“You were a bonus.”


“Ah.” She subsided back into the dirt.


“Aren’t you going to do something?”


“Besides cross my fingers and hope for the best?” she asked dryly. “Although the crossing is metaphorically speaking, all bundled up cozily as I am, since Lucius broke my wand.”


“How – ?”


“He condescended to take me to a Ball once, before my sister foolishly married a Muggleborn. That mask hides his face, not his hands. He still wears that ring and it still catches in my hair.”


“What else do you See?”




“For who?”




“The Dark Lord cannot die.”


“He can.”


“You sound so certain.” There was a wistful note to his voice.


“I Saw it.”

His face opened and something old and familiar and long-lost appeared. Hope.


“He can die,” she reassured him. It was strange, to be reassuring him in these circumstances, and yet, old habits … died … hard. “Voldemort can die. And Dumbledore knows.”


“Dumbledore won’t do it.”


“Won’t what?”


“Kill him. I can’t do it; I’ve never cast the Killing Curse, and look at what I am. Dumbledore can’t do it.”


“Dumbledore can’t? Or won’t?” His gaze jerked to the door, like a rabbit spying an owl. His wand rose swiftly.





~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~


When she came to again, she was alone in the darkness. No, not alone. He heard her stir; she couldn’t quite suppress the gasp. Everything ached so. The bindings were gone. She could move. Barely. It would have to be enough.


“I’m sorry.”


“You’re – “ her voice cracked, unfamiliar and hoarse, “you stayed.”


“I had to Crucio you. I’m sorry. They were coming.”




“Why did you forgive me?”


“I didn’t know how much it would hurt, then,” she croaked. “Give me a few days to recover and I’ll forgive you again.” Dried tear tracks had crusted on her face. The plus side to the Cruciatus curse was that her bladder wasn’t full anymore. The reverse … Why did one never See the grotty details?


“They’ll be coming back soon.”


“Quite. Well, now, that was my round of Crucio.”



~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~



His eyes were puzzled, then widened as she struggled to her feet. “Don’t –” he warned.


She clung to the wall near him and stumbled. He edged away. She lurched after him.


“I don’t want to – ” he said, flatly.


She stopped for a moment and smirked at him.


"Don't." He edged away.


She followed, lunged for his wrist and caught it. She tried to grapple the wand from his hand. He wrenched his arm away. "Don't," he said warningly.


She lurched after him again, made a swipe at him and missed.


"Stop it. I don't want – " he repeated.


“I know, Peter.” And she lunged, her hands raised, aiming for his wand – or his throat.



~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~



Avada Kedavra!” he cried, panicked. The green light flashed out of his wand and hit her square in the chest. She crumpled inward, like a house of Exploding Snap built by a trembling hand, falling in a thousand tiny moments. He stood, shocked, as her body tumbled to the floor.


He dropped to his knees and lifted her up by her upper arms. Her head lolled back on her shoulders, her dark hair swinging free. “I’ve never – I didn’t think I could – ”




He dropped her back into the dirt. “Yes, Master.”


“She is dead.”


“Yes, Master.”


“Did you get any information from her?”


“Yes, Master. She’d – discovered who some of your servants are. She will tell no one now.”


“You are telling the truth,” his master hissed. “Careless, Lucius. Very careless.” Things boded ill for Malfoy tonight. “Very well, Wormtail. Dispose of it.”


“Yes, Master.” He kept his head bowed until his master was long gone. He squatted in the dry soil. “You Saw that, too, didn’t you? And you forgave it, too. Didn’t you.” It was not a question.


He pointed his wand at the still form in the dirt. “Contumulo*.” The dirt floor shuffled aside, creating a deep hole. Her body sank from sight. “Operio* grave.” The dirt smoothed over, concealing that there’d ever been an opening. Another flick of his wand and a flat piece of stone settled into the soil; it nestled slightly under the dirt, to be brushed aside only by those who looked for it. Insignis*,” Peter said, rolling his wrist, and a name was burned into the stone.


Insignis Marlene McKinnon.”




Moody says, in Order of the Phoenix: “That’s Marlene McKinnon, she was killed two weeks after this was taken, they got her whole family.”


Contumulo – “bury, dig and fill a grave”

Operio – “to conceal, to cover”

Insignis – “to mark or distinguish”

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