The Sugar Quill
Author: Ashtur an'Vangan (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Even Badgers Cry  Chapter: Prologue
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Even Badgers Cry
Ashtur an’Vangan

The Characters and World of Harry Potter are property of JK Rowling

  It was a typical night at the Bones’ farm.  Everyone had gone to bed hours before, and the only sound was the slow, consistent rustling of turning pages as Susan read her book in bed.  Reaching the end of a chapter she smiled at the way that Rosie Cotton had her hooks into Samwise.  However, when she glanced at the clock next to her bed she groaned.  Grimacing, she carefully marked her page with a bookmark and set it on the nightstand.  She was supposed to be out in the fields helping her father at dawn, and it was already two hours after midnight.  Sighing, she touched the glowing globe next to her bed.  Flopping back into her pillow, she closed her eyes, hoping that sleep wouldn’t be too slow to call her this night.

  Unfortunately, it seemed that sleep would not be her companion tonight.  That wasn’t unusual.   Sometimes, it was just so hard for her to turn her mind off, to relax and drift away into peaceful slumber.  There were so many thoughts that came to her when she tried to sleep.  Speculations and musings about what she’d been reading, thoughts about her own future, and of course, the news that the Daily Prophet relentlessly informed them about every morning.  The war was not going well.  This morning, the paper had been full of pictures of giants storming their way through some hapless Muggle town.  Susan shivered, thinking of what would happen if giants stomped through the part of Liverpool where her grandparents lived.   Susan wasn’t sure if her mother had told her parents everything that was happening, but she hoped not.  They’d never really accepted that their daughter had married a wizard.  It wasn’t that they were rude or anything, but Susan had long since noticed that there was always a certain coolness in their attitude towards her father, and even to her.  It wasn’t that they didn’t like her, they was just… unloving.

  Susan’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud pop at the foot of her bed.  Startled, she touched her hand to the globe.  The soft, white light of the lamp revealed that Dody, her Aunt Amelia’s diricrawl, was standing on the end of her bed.  The gray bird squawked and leapt into Susan’s arms.  Susan hugged Dody to herself, and she burrowed her head under Susan’s chin.  Dody was shaking, and if Susan didn’t know better, she would have imagined that she was crying.

  A moment later, there was a loud crack outside the window.  Susan knew that sound, it was the sound of someone Apparating.  She jumped to her feet, sending Dody flying back onto her bed.  Her wand in her hand, she carefully looked out her second floor window, trying to see who had come calling.  She let out a breath when she saw the familiar bald head of Kingsley Shacklebolt, one of the Aurors who worked for her aunt.

  Susan sat back down on her bed, and was unsurprised that Dody immediately jumped right back onto her lap.  The relief she’d felt when she’d seen their visitor was a friend was fading, and instead she felt a growing sense of dread.  Why would Shacklebolt come here at this hour of the night?  Why was Dody here, and in this condition?  Susan had a sneaking suspicion about the answer, and her stomach clenched at the thought.

  A moment later, she heard the voice of her father screaming in disbelief.


  Justin Finch-Fletchley awakened to the sound of an old bantam rooster outside his window.  “I wish they’d put a snooze button on the ruddy things,” he muttered groggily.  He thought about grabbing his wand and firing off a nice silencing charm, but remembered that he wasn’t at Hogwarts, so that would get him into buckets of trouble.  He’d already had more trouble with the Ministry of Magic than he’d ever wanted to, and he definitely didn’t want to add to that.

  For that matter, Justin wasn’t at his parents’ house either.  He was at his grandfather’s estate.  He actually preferred it that way.  His grandfather was the only person in the entire family that didn’t look at him differently than the old days.

  After he showered and got dressed, he walked down the mahogany staircase towards the small dining room, the one they used for family dinners.  Justin was unsurprised to see his grandfather sitting at the table reading the newspaper already.  

  “Ah!, Justin, good to see you are awake bright and early,” said his grandfather.  He then turned to the butler, who was standing quietly in a corner.  “We’ll have a light breakfast this morning, Benson, please have the cook prepare Eggs Benedict.”

  “Very good, My Lord,” replied the butler, who turned and headed off for the kitchen.

  Justin was about halfway through his breakfast when a large owl started pecking at the window.  

  “Now there’s an odd bird,” said his grandfather.  “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a Great Horned Owl in England.  Beautiful specimen though, I wonder if it escaped from a zoo.”

  Justin smiled and shook his head.  “Oh, no, that’s Hector, the Macmillan’s owl.  It kind of fits Ernie, look at the way he’s preening out there.”  Justin walked over to the door and opened it, putting out his arm for the owl to perch on.  “Ernie saw a picture of a Great Horned Owl in one of the books you sent with me to school a few years ago and decided he had to have one.”

  “I’ll never get used to the way that you wizards are able to use owls to communicate.  It’s certainly more interesting than trying to use the telephone.”

  “Ow!” yelped Justin as Hector took a nip out of his finger.  “More interesting, but on the other hand, telephones don’t bite you if you don’t feed them quickly enough,” said Justin as he broke off a piece of toast and held it up to Hector.   After the owl gobbled down the toast, he finally held out his leg for Justin to remove the small scroll.

  Justin opened the scroll, expecting to see Ernie’s latest appeal for advice on how to ask out Hannah.  However, as Justin read the message, he felt like someone had dropped a lump of cold lead into his stomach.  It said: “Justin, I just heard that Susan’s Aunt Amelia was killed by You-Know-Who last night.  E.”

  Justin crumpled the letter in his fist as he looked down at the table.  It wasn’t fair.  Susan didn’t deserve this, no one deserved this.  Why did there have to be people like You-Know-Who in the world?

  “Justin?  Are you all right?”

  Justin jumped; he’d forgotten that he wasn’t alone.  “I guess,” mumbled Justin.

  His grandfather narrowed his eyes.  “What is it?”

  “It’s nothing,” said Justin, not looking up from the table.

  “You know I’m not going to let you get away with that, so you may as well tell me and save us both some time.”

  Justin inhaled deeply.  He was right.  His grandfather was many things, and one of them was determined.  “I think I’ve mentioned my friend Susan before, right?”  His grandfather nodded, so Justin went on. “Her aunt was murdered, the letter doesn’t say much else.”

  “Murdered?  Do they have the scoundrel?” asked his grandfather intently.

  “No, no.  It was no normal murderer.   Anyway, it was no ordinary murder, it’s part of the war.”

  “Justin, I believe you best start at the beginning.”

  Justin spent the next half hour telling his grandfather about everything that had been happening in the Wizarding World for the past five years, including the small fact that his own injuries back in second year were a small a part of the war.

  When Justin finished, his grandfather sat there and looked at him for a long moment, steepling his fingers in front of his face.  Finally he said, “Why are you still going back there then?”  Justin was both surprised and relieved that his tone indicated curiosity and not condemnation.

  “Yes, it’s a dangerous place, but it’s where I belong.  Not just because I can do magic, but also because it is where I fit in.  I’m not about to run away from it either.”

  His grandfather smiled, “I’m glad to hear you say that Justin.  I’d think less of you if you’d said anything else.  Still, do you know if anyone has told the Prime Minister about this? I think he’d be interested in knowing that there’s a full scale war brewing in his country.”

  “I doubt it,” said Justin bitterly.  “The Ministry of Magic is pretty obsessive about keeping secrets.”

  “So, what are you going to do for your friend?  Will you need a ride to that part of London where you can get formal robes for the memorial?”

  Justin sat back and closed his eyes.  He took a moment to form a plan in his mind.  “No, I don’t think so, I have another idea.  By the way, may I borrow the telephone, I need to call Hannah.”

A/N:  Well, we’re off again.  As you can see, while this is the sequel to Bones to Bones (as well as Losses and Gains), there’s a major difference, in that I’ve added Justin as a second perspective character.  While most of it is in my head, I’ve been working with a Justin POV fic of his third year (Stone and Flesh) for quite awhile.  There are echoes of that in this fic.  Hopefully those things won’t cause any problems for you.  Let’s just say that Justin’s bad attitude towards the Ministry of Magic is well earned.  

As usual, many thanks to Zsenya for her wonderful beta.
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