The Sugar Quill
Author: Rincewind  Story: Innocent Boy  Chapter: Part two
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Part 2:

Part 2:

 

“I can’t say too much about this because it touches too closely on the prophecy and how many people knew about it, but the Lestranges were not in on the secret.”

 - J.K. Rowling on her website www.jkrowling.com

 

The lock clicked softly and the door opened smoothly inwards. Barty slipped inside and found himself in a low-lit, roomy entrance hall, its walls covered with light-green and white striped wallpaper and a brown coloured carpet stretching across the floor. On one side of the wall a couple of coats and cloaks hung neatly from a hat-and-coat stand and on the other side a large mirror was attached to the wall over a radiator. Apart from the front door Barty counted three other doors and one staircase, and here and there a number of large cardboard boxes were stacked on top of each other, out of the way against the wall.

 

He heard voices coming from the first door on his left which was situated between the mirror and the staircase, so he silently crept towards it. He didn't dare look through any of the four small, square-shaped window-panes, curious though he was, and instead kneeled down next to the door and listened carefully.

 

"Now then, where were we before our belated, fourth companion finally showed up?" A male voice spoke briskly.

 

Barty's eyes widened in shock as he realised what these words implied: There were four companions, four Death Eaters behind this door!

 

"Better late than never, don't you agree?" The voice continued mockingly. "Ah wait. Now I remember. We were talking …" but a female voice interrupted him impatiently before he could finish his sentence: "You can stop playing the delighted host, my dear husband. Our real guests of honour won't speak without a little persuasion." She put a lot of emphasis on the last word.

 

Now a second male voice spoke urgently: "You can do what you want with us but we won't say anything because there simply isn't anything we can tell you! We know as much about what happened to He Who Must Not Be Named as you!"

 

Barty's curiosity won over his fear and he risked a quick peek through one of the lower window-panes. There were four black cloaked figures standing in the gloomy living room, their backs to the door and he saw two other shapes sitting on wooden chairs, their bodies tied to the back of their chairs.

 

"That's rubbish, Frank Longbottom!" The woman spat back, "You must know something important about our Master, or Dumbledore wouldn't have hidden you so well and for so long. So speak up, and tell us why you were going into hiding."

 

"We've already told you." The man named Frank said wearily. "Alice was expecting a baby, for goodness sake. We needed to spend some time away from the frontline. And besides, we went into hiding well before your master disappeared."

 

"Fair enough," the first man spoke again. "If that's the way you want to play the game, you leave us no other choice. Go ahead my dear."

 

Right now, Barty was feeling slightly dizzy. His head was spinning and he moved his back, which was clammy with cold sweat, against the wall, dreading what would happen next.

 

"You should have chosen the easy way out," the woman said disapprovingly. "Though if truth be told, I knew you wouldn't tell us the whole story straight away.

 

"And in fact, I prefer to get the desired information this way.” She added excitedly. "Let's see if a little shock therapy will refresh your memory. Crucio!"

 

Barty put his fingers in his ears but the man's agonizing, ear-splitting cry still penetrated deeply into his conscious. His legs failed him, going numb with shock, and he slumped onto the ground and remained sitting there, rooted to the spot as the seconds lengthened and the torturing continued.

 

He heard the female Death Eater laugh cruelly and another woman open her mouth for the first time. Her voice wasn't cruel or harsh like the other woman's, but hurt and helpless, as she shrieked pleadingly: "Stop it! Please, stop it!" The evil woman paid no attention to the other woman's words but eventually, after what seemed like an hour, she lifted the curse.

 

The chilling silence that hung around the room, only broken by the silent sobs of the second woman and the heavy breathing of Frank Longbottom, was perhaps even more disturbing than the violent sounds that had filled it only moments before, as echoes of the sickening screams seemed to reverberate inside Barty's very heart and soul. Horrified, he wondered how on earth one human being could possibly do something so vicious and evil to a fellow human being. Sure, he had heard some nasty stories about Death Eaters, but to actually witness one of their foul deeds...

 

His feet still didn't seem to be able to carry him, so he rolled onto his front and started to crawl towards the exit. He needed to leave.  He needed to find help for these poor people - these... these hostages, who were probably kept captive in their own home. While he made his slow way to the front door, the talking in the living room continued.

 

"So, have you found some new details you want to share with us, or do you want another dose?" The first Death Eater inquired calmly as if he were an optician and he was asking if his client was finally able to see four numbers instead of two, now that he'd changed lenses.

 

"I-I c-can't..." The mangled husband answered joltingly.

 

"P-Please, Frank," his wife begged through her tears, "I can't take this any more. Tell them about our meeting with Albus and the Potters about the Pro-…"

 

"No Alice," Frank interrupted her before she could let anything important slip, "I'm not worth that."

 

But their captors had smelled blood.

 

"Speak up!" the first Death Eater demanded forcibly, but the woman remained silent.

 

"We can go on for hours and neither I nor any of my companions would mind doing so, but I think you two would; the Cruciatus Curse isn't very beneficial for your health and I'm sure you don't want to suffer any lasting damage," he laughed. "Perhaps you're under the illusion that, in time, the Cavalry will arrive at your doorsteps, so let me save you from suffering that particular disappointment: there are very, very few people who know about your sudden remove to your old house. By a lucky chance one of us happened to hear the news this morning, and he made sure that no one else at the Ministry would find out in a hurry."

 

Meanwhile, Barty tried to push himself upwards against the radiator. His trembling hands, white as a sheet, were gripping the cold radiator tightly, and slowly, inch by inch, he was able to raise his body until it was more or less in a vertical position. His feet were still barely supporting him and he took a moment to rest before he'd try walking. He looked into the mirror in front of him and he saw his own frightened face, his freckles much more prominent than ever before, against his paler than usual skin.

 

"And if I were you, I wouldn't count on any of the Muggles outside hearing you scream as we've placed a very powerful Imperturbable Charm on this house; not a sound is going out. No, there's just you and us and the whole…."

 

A sudden flapping noise at the front door made the man stop his soliloquy and made Barty jump. It was amazing how he was suddenly able to muster the strength to duck and meanwhile sprint to the door at the other side of the room, quickly open it, ran into what turned out to be the kitchen, and quietly close the door behind him, in less than a second. Adrenalin was pumping through his body as he waited with bated breath for the Death Eaters' reaction.

 

"Nothing to worry about, brother," a third male voice reassured the others after a few seconds. "It's just some local weekly Muggle newspaper that was shoved into the mailbox."

 

Barty exhaled with relief: for the moment he was safe. A quick glance around the kitchen showed him that this room provided no real escape route, as the two windows in this room could only be opened a few inches and the only other door led almost certainly to the large living room, towards danger, so he had no choice but to turn around and retrace his steps back into the hall.

 

Apprehensively he opened the door and tip-toed forward. He was startled to hear the voices from the living room where the Death Eaters were still threatening the Longbottoms more clearly. With a shock he realised that the Death Eater who'd collected the newspaper, had left the door to the living room wide open so that its occupants now had a clear view of a small piece of space between the front door and the staircase.

 

This meant that all exits downstairs were either beyond his reach or being watched, so this left Barty with only one last option if he wanted to leave this place soon. He slinked towards the bottom of the staircase and started his way up, praying desperately that none of the steps would creak.

 

When he was halfway up, he heard the female Death Eater cry: "Crucio!" again and this time it was Mrs. Longbottom who was screaming beyond control. Barty almost slipped but regained his balance just in time and made it safely to the top, even though he was trembling worse than ever.

 

He staggered blindly into the first room to his right, his heart sickened with disgust and despair. He had no eye for the contents of the dark room as he moved swiftly to a curtained window, roughly pushed the purple curtains apart, and frantically tried to open the window. First the window didn't budge, but after a few desperate seconds the window started to move outwards, its hinges creaking rustily.

 

When he looked outside he was greeted by a pleasant and welcoming surprise: his faithful pet Lyra was hovering a few feet away from the window and as soon as the window was open wide enough, she flew onto his left forefinger.

 

Quickly he conjured a piece of paper, an inkbottle, a quill and a small cord out of thin air and hastily began writing his rescue note. He tried to be as short and terse as possible, as he wrote about the four Death Eaters, the Longbottoms and the address. Without rereading his words he attached the paper to the bird's tiny leg, who took of eagerly when the note was tied securely to its leg.

 

Waves of relief were spreading through his body as he watched Lyra disappear behind the rooftops. He turned around and examined the room, immediately spotting an occupied bedstead he'd overlooked when he'd so hastily entered this bedroom.

 

Cautiously Barty edged forward, careful not to wake the little fellow who was sleeping so peacefully in his comfortable bed, oblivious of the horrible things that were happening to his parents downstairs. The boy couldn't be more than two years old, one of his fragile hands clutching the edges of his blanket, a content smile on his innocent face.

 

Barty longingly wished he could turn back time, or swap places with the boy, so that he'd be able to dream happily, play undisturbingly and live a simple life, yet without grown-up worries.

 

Suddenly a low, unfamiliar voice behind him shouted: "Petrificus Totallus!" Before Barty could react, the curse hit him and he felt his arms snap to his sides and his legs spring together as he felt down helplessly, stiff as a board.

 

 

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