The Sugar Quill
Author: Shandethe (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Price of Vengeance  Chapter: Chapter One
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Part One

Present-day London

He cut across the street, hoping no one would hit him on his way. It was a gorgeous August day, though quite cool for summer. Dressed in his Muggle clothes--dark blue jeans, a black shirt and a battered leather bomber jacket tied around his waist--he knew he blended in perfectly. For some reason, he was always paranoid that someone would be able to tell at a glance. He imagined some random Muggle walking up to him and saying, "Hey, you're a wizard!"

A smile played across the young man's handsome features, making his brown eyes light up a little. As if Muggles were that smart.

He was indeed a young man, twenty years old at a glance. He stood about six feet tall, with a slightly muscular build. His reddish-brown hair was a bit too long, and barely brushed the collar of his jacket.

He stopped in front of an old, abandoned-looking building. Who would have guessed that inside this falling-apart structure was the Ministry of Magic Headquarters?

He pulled out his wand, making sure no one was watching, and tapped it against the door. Once, twice, three times.

The door swung open, and Anthony McKinnon stepped inside.

An explosion of light and color met his eyes. The floor was finished with white marble, and the main desk looked as though it had been carved from the same. Witches, wizards, hags and ogres waited in dark wooden chairs. High-ranking officials stood off to one side talking, gesturing as they did.

Anthony forced himself to fight through the crowd and make his way to the main desk. A harried-looking witch in spectacles glared at him. "Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes," he replied.


"Name?" she asked irritably.

"Anthony McKinnon," he answered.

The witch sighed, obviously disappointed to see he really did have an appointment. "Fine. Mr. Fudge will see you now. Up that set of stairs, go down the hallway on your right, first doorway on your left."

Anthony nodded. "Thank you."

He left the witch to deal with a rather nasty-looking vampire and made his way up the stairs. His adoptive family, the Revels, were one of Europe's richest and most influential families. That was probably the only reason the Minister of Magic would consent to see him.

He'd come to London for one reason and one reason alone: to find out who killed his parents and bring them to justice. Fudge might be able to open the files from his parents' murder if he asked in the right manner.

He was so lost in his thoughts that he almost missed Fudge's door--how, he didn't now, as it had a gigantic "MINISTER OF MAGIC" brass plaque on the front. He reached up and knocked.

The door swung open. Cornelius Fudge sat at his desk, reading the latest issue of the Daily Prophet, sipping a cup of tea. He didn't appear to notice the newcomer.

"Uh...sir?"

Fudge jumped, nearly spilling tea on his violently purple pinstriped robes. "Ah! Mr...McKinnon, is it? Come inside."

Anthony stepped in the office. It was less imposing than he'd first imagined. Shelves lined the walls, packed with books. On the desk were several more books and a clutter of paperwork, which, judging by the lumps underneath, buried several family photographs and their frames.

"Well, now, boy sit, down, sit down," Cornelius Fudge said, literally drawing him a chair out of thin air. It dropped to the ground in front of his desk. Anthony took a seat.

"I must say I was surprised to hear you were coming by, Mr. McKinnon." Fudge said, setting aside his tea and newspaper. "I thought you were still in France."

Anthony shook his head. "I've secured a flat in London temporarily." He'd worked for two years for the Dark Arts Defense League where it was headquartered in Paris, as an intern after his graduation from Beauxbatons.

"I see," Fudge said. "And your family? The Revels? How are they?"

"They're fine, sir," Anthony responded. Marguerite and Henri Revel had adopted him when he was eight and moved him to France, where Henri was originally from. Marguerite herself was from Kent. They had always treated him as though he were their own, but no amount of kindness could ever make the horrors of his past disappear. He wondered briefly if Fudge was going to let him get down to business or just chatter inanely all day.

As if reading his mind, Fudge clapped his hands. "Now, then. What did you want to see me about?"

"Well, sir," Anthony said, "I came here in the hope of reopening the case of my parents' murder."

Fudge stared at him, stunned. "You want to...what? Oh, come now, my boy, surely you don't want to dredge all that up again."

"I do." It was only two words, but the forcefulness of his tone and the steely glint his brown eyes took said volumes.

"Those records have been sealed for years. No perpetrator was caught. The Dark Mark was, if I recall correctly, ablaze above your house--"

Anthony had a sudden flashback, sitting huddled on his bedroom floor, unable to get out of his room, the shimmering light outside his window. He looked up and saw that evil skull and snake...his parents dead...he couldnít seem to rid himself of that cold, clammy feeling.

Quickly he shook himself, hoping Fudge hadn't seen.

He hadn't. "--and it was clearly the work of You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. Most of whom we have, either dead or in Azkaban."

"Not all of them," Anthony replied. "Plenty escaped, and we both know it."

"Even so, Mr. McKinnon, there's no reason to reopen the case-"

"Except to find the truth!" Anthony exclaimed. "Can't you understand that, Mr. Fudge?"

The Minister of Magic was clearly taken aback. "What I understand is that it will do no good," he said angrily. "And even if I did have the power to reopen the case, I wouldn't do it!"

Anthony stood up, his dark eyes blazing. For a moment, he looked as if he was considering throttling Fudge.

Finally, he swallowed. "Good day, then, Mr. Fudge. I am sorry to have taken up your time."

With that, he turned and stormed out of the office.

*******************

Well, well, well, thought Lucius Malfoy as he watched the auburn-haired young man exit Fudgeís office. Little Anthony wants to find out what happened to his parents. How very touching.

There was a tap on his shoulder. He turned, and there stood his assistant, Loki Lestrange.

"Iíve got those papers you needed, sir," Loki said.

"Ah. Thank you, Lestrange," Malfoy replied, taking them from the dark-haired young man. "Fudge will have to sign these now...but wait just a moment..."

"What is it, sir?" Loki asked.

Malfoy didnít answer. "Excuse me, Mr. McKinnon?"

McKinnon turned around. He didnít look very much like his father, Lucius decided. Aside from the same hair color, Anthony resembled his mother. "What?" he demanded, his tone none too welcoming.

"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lucius Malfoy," he said with a slight bow. He waved a hand to his assistant. "And this is my assistant, Loki Lestrange. We couldnít help overhearing your -- ah -- discussion with the Minister."

McKinnon crossed his arms over his chest. "What of it?"

Malfoy looked around, then back at McKinnon. "Why donít we step inside my office for a moment? We can talk there." The papers could wait.

McKinnon considered this. "Fine."

"Follow me, then." Malfoy started down the hall, flanked by McKinnon and Lestrange.

*****************************

Anthony once again found himself in a Ministry officialís office. This one was very different from Fudgeís pleasant clutter. The furniture was made of dark, polished wood, and everything was in perfect order. Not even the pictures on the desk, which were mostly of a blonde woman and a young boy, were out of line. He didnít think they would dare to be.

"Have a seat, Mr. McKinnon," Malfoy said, gesturing toward one of the chairs in front of his desk.

Anthony pulled up his chair, and sat down, all the while studying Lucius Malfoy. Like his office, everything about this man was smooth and immaculate. He was in his mid to late forties, at least. His sleek black hair was combed back perfectly, and he wore a black cloak over dark green robes. He seemed to give the air of someone who knew exactly what he wanted and exactly how to get it.

"Close the door, Lestrange," Malfoy ordered his assistant, who obliged.

That Lestrange is a funny one, Anthony thought, turning his attention to the assistant. Loki, Malfoy had called him. Like the Norse god, often called the ĎSly Oneí or ĎTricksterí. This man definitely looked the part, with the mischievous glint in his blue-green eyes. He didnít appear to be any older than Anthony himself. Lokiís black hair was thick and shining, which made a startling contrast against his pale skin. Though he was dressed normally in plain gray-and-violet robes, there was something about this young man that struck Anthony as being wild--like an animal in a cage.

Lestrange stood next to the closed door, while Malfoy sat down at his desk.

"So what do you want?" Anthony asked. He was perfectly aware that his tone was less than civil.

Malfoy smiled. "My boy, all I want is to help you. As I said, I heard your discussion with Fudge. He is none too sensitive when it comes to personal matters."

"So Iíve noticed," Anthony replied, warming a little. "Can you help me?"

"I believe so," Lucius Malfoy said. "Only...if Fudge does know, I can understand why he wouldnít want to tell you."

"Why?"

"Because, boy, it concerns the delicate matter of a Death Eater who walked free."

Anthony sat up straighter. "What do you mean?"

************************

This is almost too easy, Lucius Malfoy thought as he studied Anthony McKinnonís determined expression. Heís desperate enough to turn to me for help, and naive enough to trust me. Little fool--well, they didnít have that saying Ďlike father, like soní for nothing, did they?

Easy as it was, it would also prove useful.

"Well..." Malfoy did his best to look hesitant and apologetic as he tested the waters. "Your father, in his work as an Auror, put several of the Dark Lordís most important Death Eaters in Azkaban. Shortly before his death, he caught Antonin Dolohov. Dolohov, it appeared, had information about Dumbledoreís revolt against him. The Death Eaters were desperate to get to it."

"So they went after my family," Anthony said, suddenly understanding. His fists clenched at his sides. "Do you know who killed my father?"

"Why, the Death Eaters, of course," Malfoy replied smoothly. "However, if youíre asking who delivered the killing blow, I have only a guess there." He had to try hard not to smile. It really was perfect. Heíd be able to get rid of his rival once and for all, with no one the wiser. Best of all, he wouldnít have to hire someone to do it. Good help was, after all, so hard to find these days.

McKinnon leaned forward. "And that guess is --?"

"His name..." Malfoy sighed. "His name is Snape. Severus Snape. He works at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as the Potions Master."

Anthony sat there in silence. "Do you have proof of this, Mr. Malfoy?"

"All I have, Mr. McKinnon, is the knowledge that Severus Snape was, and most likely still is, a Death Eater. And a most clever and cunning one. It was suspected, but there was no concrete evidence. He walked away, alive and free."

Anthonyís hands gripped the arms of his chair tightly. "If he is responsible for my fatherís death, he wonít be alive for much longer. I can promise you that."

*********************

Yes, definitely perfect, Malfoy thought, watching the young manís reaction. Hell bent on revenge, this boy was. "I understand youíre staying in London. Iíll have the files concerning you parentsí deaths sent to your flat."

McKinnon nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Malfoy. Youíve been most helpful" He stood up, and nodded to both Malfoy and Lestrange. "A good day to you both."

With those words, he left the office.

"Hot-headed, that one," Malfoy remarked. "Impulsive, too. One of these days thatís going to land him into trouble."

Loki grinned. "I see where this is going. You get McKinnon to kill Snape."

"Which he will definitely do when he finds out that Snape canít be punished by law." Malfoy said. "Dear, dear. My poor old colleague wonít know what hit him."

"Why donít you just kill him yourself? You know, out while youíre doing some Death Eater thing, accidentally hit him with the Avada Kedavra curse--"

"No, my dear Loki," Lucius said with a smile. "As always, you are too eager for the kill. Such things have to be done with an artistry--a finesse, if you will. Otherwise, we are no different than simple animals."

"So youíre going to take advantage of that boyís naivete, then? Just like that?"

"Just like that," Malfoy replied. "Sometimes, Lestrange, I amaze even myself. Now, then," he said, standing up. "Let us go and pay Mr. Fudge a visit."

 

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