The Sugar Quill
Author: Rincewind  Story: Innocent Boy  Chapter: Part One
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Innocent boy

Innocent boy


Author’s note: Some of you might sort this story into the so called alternative universe category because of some of the assumptions I’ve made, but I must disagree with those people because none of these assumptions are improbable enough to be deemed too unrealistic for the ‘real’ Harry Potter universe. And even you don’t totally agree with me, I still think you’ll be able to appreciate and enjoy this story. But then again, as the writer of this story, I might be a bit prejudiced. So I guess you should just see for yourself what this story is about and judge afterwards.


Part 1:


“Father! Father, I wasn’t involved! No! No! Father, please!”

- Barty Crouch Junior, GOF chapter thirty.


While the sun was still shining happily over London's crowded and noisy city streets, not as brightly as it had done in the early afternoon but its presence couldn't be ignored yet, a boy in his late teens wiped his sticky and damp, straw-coloured hair out of his freckled face before closing the front door of a dark and shabby-looking pub.


Bartemius Crouch Junior was glad he could leave the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley behind him and instead walk in the Muggle world. Not even the tiniest little breeze had been able to reach the built up alley crammed with its many magical shops, not to mention the crowded, stifling heat of the pub with its many sweating visitors and even more disturbing smells.


He walked a few paces through the broad and busy street, took a few deep breaths and felt a welcoming gust of wind sweep past his overheated body.


He wished that he’d already got his Apparating license, but he knew he wasn’t the only one who had applied for the test at the beginning of the summer holidays. With a bit of luck he’d be allowed to Apparate after next week though. Not that he really minded the twenty minutes walk from the Leaky Cauldron to his parents’ house: it gave him some time to think things over, and besides, he was already far too late for dinner anyway, so twenty more minutes wouldn’t really matter.


Nevertheless he felt a bit guilty, realizing that his mother had lovingly prepared a delicious meal for herself, her husband and their child, only to serve dinner just for herself, as his father would undoubtedly be too busy at the office to notice that dinnertime had come and passed, and he was still over here, outside the Leaky Cauldron.


In a way it was her own fault that she would spend the first half of the evening alone.

The reason that he'd spent the afternoon in Diagon Alley was that she'd been kind enough to slip some Galleons in his pocket while whispering: "Here you are love. Why don't you go out and buy a nice present for yourself? You shouldn't stay around the house every single day of your holiday and you know you deserve something after these seven years of hard work." He really appreciated those words.


If only his father would praise him or say something nice once in a while, but on the rare occasion that they did have a conversation, his father acted rather detached and he never showed any sign that he actually liked his son or was pleased with anything his son had achieved. Barty had given up hope and had long ago accepted that he should just learn to live his life with, or rather without, a father who had an important and very demanding job.


And so he’d spend this afternoon visiting shop after shop, looking for a suitable present to reward himself with. He was never much of a Quidditch player, so he’d skipped Quality Quidditch Supplies, and he already had more than enough books and clothes. Nevertheless he’d wanted to buy something useful, so in the end he’d decided to buy an owl. Not a large one, but a tiny, fluffy, grey-colored owl, accompanied with a minute cage, exactly the right size for its occupant. He had named his new companion Lyra, and right now she was hooting happily in her cage.


He set of towards his home, blending in easily with the Muggle crowd as he, unlike some of the witches and wizards he’d met today who stubbornly insisted on wearing cloaks regardless of the type of weather and temperature, was wearing a plain white t-shirt and khaki shorts. He was thinking of letting Lyra out of her cage, but decided to wait until the next block, because he spotted a black cat crossing the pavement a few feet ahead of him. A few minutes later he let her out and watched for a moment as she soared through the cloudless sky. He kept walking with the metal cage in his hand, lost in thoughts and taking only an occasional heed of the traffic around him when he had to cross a road.


While he was moving along with the crowd, he thought about the words his teachers at Hogwarts had spoken when his NEWT results had been announced and the words his family and friends had spoken ever since. They were all convinced that he had a bright future full of golden opportunities ahead of him, but apparently these opportunities were shining so brightly that he was blinded by their light and he didn’t know what to do now that he’d graduated from Hogwarts, despite all the career advice and offers from wizarding firms and institutions. He knew he’d have to choose before this holiday was over and he’d better choose sooner than later, because he hated the uncertainty and craved for a new goal in his life now that his old goal, receiving top NEWT’s, had been accomplished.


And then it happened. As he was pondering on what he wanted to do with his life, paying no attention to the people behind and in front of him, he suddenly collided with an oncoming pedestrian, who probably wasn’t paying much attention to where his feet were carrying him either, and they both fell backwards onto the stony ground.


Barty unsuccessfully tried to break his fall with his arms, letting go of the cage, and grazing the palms of his hands and his elbows when they made contact with the solid pavement. He got to his feet and wanted to apologize to the person he'd knocked to the ground, but he couldn't speak because of fear when he met the gaze of the clearly startled man in front of him, whose eyes were burning with malice.


It wasn’t so much the emotion on his face that scared the living daylight out of him as it was the face itself. He’d recognized the face from many advertisements and posters he’d seen almost weekly during the last eight months. This face belonged to Rabastan Lestrange, a wanted Death Eater who hadn’t been sighted ever since the fall of He Who Must Not Be Named last Halloween.


Before he could say or do anything, the man had jumped to his feet, wiped the dust of his black cloak and continued his journey, only spitting the reproachful words: "Watch where you're going boy, or someone might get hurt next time," at him, evidently mistaking him for an ignorant Muggle.


Barty realized that he could do either two things: He could go home and pretend that nothing had happened, or he could follow the guy to wherever he was going. For a few seconds he remained standing there undecidedly, until in his mind there appeared a strong image of his father’s smiling face. He was beaming proudly at his own son who’d single handedly captured a dangerous criminal and delivered him into the hands of justice.


This image was all Barty needed and without himself being actually aware of it, his feet started to move towards the way from whence he’d just come. It wasn’t difficult for him to spot the thin man in his black cloak who didn’t blend in so well with the summery and airily clothed mass. All he really had to worry about was not moving too close to this... this Death Eater, lest he would notice that he was being shadowed.


Rabastan Lestrange moved faster than most Muggles around him and at the next crossroad he turned left and out of sight. Barty walked swiftly towards the corner and as he poked his head around it, he was relieved to see the black cloak still moving ahead of him at a brisk pace.


The shock of finding himself face to face with a criminal had by now almost completely worn off and he was actually quite enjoying himself, following this Death Eater from a safe distance. This was the kind of stuff Aurors were trained to do.


True, he had already considered becoming one, but he’d quickly discarded the idea at the time because it would mean working under the supervision of his father. Some people might think that this would be unfair as he’d probably be favored by his colleagues and superiors, but he knew for sure that the exact opposite would happen. His father would see to that. But did that really matter? He knew he had the brains and the determination. Surely that would be enough to negate his father’s presence. And besides, if he’d be able to catch this Death Eater in front of him, he would have already shown that he was more than just his father’s son.


Yes, before he knew it he had made up his mind. He was going to do something useful with his life: he was going to become a dark-wizard-catcher, an Auror. All he had to do now was find out where the suspect was going and then alarm the authorities. But how was he going to do that?


He searched the sky but Lyra was nowhere to be seen. “Just my luck,” he remarked under his breath. He’d totally forgotten about his pet and her cage in all the excitement. He’d forgotten to pick up the cage after the collision and he had no idea where his bird had gone to.


What else could he do now? Again he checked whether Rabastan Lestrange was still ahead of him and when he’d spotted the dark cloak he began to examine the neighborhood. This street was distinctly less crowded than the street they had left behind them. He saw a paperboy placing his bike against a signpost reading: Mortimer Street, and around half a dozen other people walking along the way. They were walking along a road surrounded by rows of old, stately houses on either side, green and flowery gardens in front of every building.


Barty and the Death Eater were walking along the even side of the street and when Rabastan had almost reached the end of it, he suddenly turned right and disappeared into a garden. Barty moved towards the place where he had disappeared and hid behind the neighbors’ fence at number fourteen. His heart was pounding in his chest as he heard the front door open and close. He risked a peek around the fence but found that he couldn’t see much of the front door due to the excessive amount of large and wild-growing plants that covered most of the garden of number twelve Mortimer Street.


He edged forward slowly over a moss-covered, barely recognizable path, sheltered by all the vegetation and before he knew it, he was standing before the wooden front door. He tried to look through the large window next to the door but the curtains were closed. Inside something was going on that couldn’t endure the daylight.


Should he enter or should he stay outside? He still didn’t know what this Death Eater was going to do and how long he was going to stay here. If he wasn’t much mistaken, the Ministry for Magic was situated close by this part of London. What if he raced to the Ministry, raised the alarm and came back here with half a dozen Aurors only to find an empty house. He couldn’t do that. No, there was only one proper thing to do. He drew his wand and muttered: “Alohomora.”

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