The Sugar Quill
Author: Kwinelf (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: In the Beginning  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.

Author’s Note: This story is not meant to throw the events that happened to Lily and James Potter into any particular relief. However, Norri’s own experiences at this point in time are not separate from what happened to her sister and brother-in-law. While it may seem that there was nothing to be gained by Voldemort and his Death Eaters attacking the Muggle famly of Lily Evans, there are underlying motives for his actions, which will be brought to light at a later date in this Preludes series. It should also be noted that this author is not trying to make a Mary Sue of her character – merely providing some explanations as to why the adult Norri is, in many ways, a dual personality. Which is naturally why her assumed persona, Elsie Norr, has managed to get away with so much for so long.

I hope you enjoy this insight into Norri’s history. And that you have patience with this author as she attempts to unfold the many complex issues of her heroine’s story.

Kwinelf

P.S. Points to whoever recognises Norri’s dancing partner. As Zsenya pointed out, Sirius was beaming with happiness and James and Lily’s wedding, so it would have to be someone else…

In the Beginning…October 31st 1981, Not Far From Privet Drive

Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

And leaden-eyed despairs

Keats, Ode to A Nightingale

A dream – not unlike the many other dreams she enjoyed. Laughter. Playing with her sister Lily’s wand and shooting sparks at her new brother James. Dancing with the tall, unhappy man who had been at Lily’s wedding. Giggling with her grandfather as they played Exploding Snap, and as he tried to trick her into choosing the Bertie Bott’s earwax beans instead of the honeycomb ones. Snuggling under the covers as her Mama and Papa read her bedtime stories. Cooing over Harry, helping her new nephew take his first baby steps. A beautiful dream.

But then, she was awoken. By sounds from outside.

Shouts.

Screams.

And a horrible, high-pitched laughter.

She got out of bed. Stepped into her slippers. Pulled on her dressing-gown.

Quiet as a mouse, she walked to her bedroom door. She was about to open it when she remembered her birthday present from her grandfather. She turned back to her bed and picked it up from where it lay on her bedside table.

The long, thin shaft of wood glinted softly as she closed her hand around it.

A wand – like Lily’s.

Never mind that Mama and Papa still laughed over Lily’s wand. Or over Grandfather’s insistence that she also have one of her own. Her wand was from Grandfather. It linked her to his life – his and Lily’s. And somehow, that made her feel safer. More able to face whatever had made those horrible noises. Whoever it was who had been laughing.

She crept out of her room and along the landing at the top of the stairs, and she looked down to the room below. The sitting room, where Mama and Papa relaxed together every night after they put her to sleep with bedtime stories.

There was no sign of Mama and Papa. No movement, except for the swinging of the lamp that hung from the living room ceiling.

For a moment, she thought to call out to them. But something held her back. Made her close her opened mouth before she could let out the noise.

She inched closer to the stairs, still hiding between the railings.

From her new position just by the top of the stairs, she could see something in the doorway of the living room. It looked like….

A shoe!

Papa’s shoe? But how could that be? Why would Papa leave his shoe in the middle of the floor? He always told her not to leave her things lying around the house, because it made it difficult for Mama to tidy up. Surely he wouldn’t have left it there, right in the middle of the sitting room.

She scooted closer to the stairwell, shifting from side to side so that she could see properly.

Something was attached to Papa’s shoe. She peered over the banisters. It was long, and looked awfully familiar. It looked like….

NO!!

Her mouth stretched wide in a silent scream. Her hands clung to the banisters. She tried to close her eyes, to shut the picture of her father, bloody and battered on the floor, from both her sight and mind. But it was no use. She was frozen. Totally – even the little whimper rising in her throat died as she gazed down at her Papa.

But what about Mama?

Her breath caught as sudden understanding struck. It had been Papa’s shouts that had wakened her. And it had been Mama’s screams she had heard.

She had to find Mama!

It seemed to take an eternity to steal down the stairs. For some reason, her mind didn’t seem to be communicating with her body. Definitely not with her feet, which almost refused to take the steps she wanted them to. She could hear faint movements coming from the back of the house – Mama and Papa’s bedroom? But she ignored the noises, focusing on what she could see of Papa.

One hand on the banister and one clinging tightly to her grandfather’s birthday present, she reached the bottom of the stairs –

And stopped, unable to move. Paralysed by what she saw in front of her.

Mama and Papa.

Together.

Lying on the floor.

No one needed to tell her that they were both quite, quite dead.

Mama’s head was at a funny angle to her shoulders, and Papa – she looked away from what was left of Papa’s head. If she had not recognised his shoes and his dressing gown, she would never have believed it was him.

She stood there, unmoving, staring at them both.

Then she heard a sound from behind her, and her paralysis broke as she whirled to face whatever had done this to her parents.

She was confronted with the sight of a figure, robed and hooded in flowing robes of the deepest black.

The hooded figure that stood before her was tall, much taller than her Papa. She had to crane her head back to look up at it, even as she began to back away from it. There was no doubt that whoever the person was, they weren’t friendly.

For a moment, she could see nothing but the black robes the figure wore. Then it reached out a hand, and she saw long, tapered fingers that held a rod of wood not unlike her own.

She gasped, and her eyes shot up to where the hood covered the figure’s face. At that moment, the hood slipped back.

Not all the way.

But just enough for her to see the great, red eyes that stared down at her malevolently. And for her to glimpse the thin, flat lips which were curved in a cruel, cold smile.

She could not stop herself from screaming.

The sound of her cry resounded through the house, and was met with clatters and thumps, and then the noise of running feet. As she continued to back away from the figure before her, she saw other figures, also hooded, emerge from the sitting room and the hallway that led to the kitchen and her parents’ bedroom.

Then her back hit the banister of the staircase.

She was trapped.

For several long moments there was no sound as the hooded figures continued to draw closer and closer to her. Then, as if on unspoken orders, they all stopped. She could feel their stillness, even though her eyes had not left the first figure that had confronted her, never wavering once from the red eyes she could still see beyond the rim of the hood it wore.

She wanted to close them, to shut out the black forbidding figures that now surrounded her, to block out the sight of her parents, whom she could still glimpse on the other side of the hall. But she could not.

Clenching her fist tighter around her birthday present, she slowly brought it upwards, until it was pointed – wavering in her hand – at the tall figure with the red, red eyes.

The figure laughed.

And she suddenly knew to whom the horrible, high-pitched laughter belonged.

Taking one step forward, so that it was directly in front of her, the figure stooped a little so that the red eyes were level with her face. She could see the lips again, now, still curved in that cold, cruel smile.

Then it spoke, and she was surprised that the voice, whose laugh was so high, was so deep.

"So, little one," the figure said, "you are bold enough to come down on your own after all. I thought I would have to send my Death Eaters to find you."

She said nothing, but her mind raced. She was backed up against the back of the stairs; she could still see her parents, and beyond them the living room – and the key!

The key her grandfather had given her parents, telling them to pick it up only when they needed to reach him very, very urgently.

She had always wondered why he called it a key. It didn’t look like a key at all to her, but like an old and musty book. But, somehow, she knew that if she could get hold of the key, she would be safe. But could she make it to where the old book lay on the small table, next to her mother’s armchair? Could she get past these horrible people, these – Death Eaters?

Somewhere, beyond the reach of her frail memory, she remembered someone else using that phrase – Death Eaters. But the words had not been spoken with the arrogant pride she heard now. They had been whispered in fear, in trepidation…in horror.

And now she understood why.

But she said nothing. And her mind was still on the book, lying innocently on the side-table.

"And brave enough to defy me with your silence. But your bravery will not last for very long, little one. You are going to join your Mama and Papa – in death."

As the hooded figure laughed again, she shook her head, gripping onto her wand until her knuckles ached and gleamed white against the dark mahogany of the wood they were gripping.

"No," she whispered defiantly. "You won’t kill me."

"Oh really?" The figure grinned. "And why am I not going to kill you?" he asked, obviously playing with her.

Her mind flew from key to the one person who was left to protect her.

"Because my grandfather won’t let you," she answered, struggling to keep the tremor out of her voice.

Strangely enough, her simple words rang with the absolute conviction she had in him. Not that they had any effect on the dark figure in front of her, who threw back his head and laughed. She cringed from the sound – high-pitched and empty, it reminded her of how she had woken up. Of the screams she had heard. Of what had happened to her parents.

"Child, there is no one – NO ONE – more powerful then I am. There are few left who can defy me, and soon there will be none at all. Certainly not your precious grandfather, whoever he is."

As he spoke, the hand holding his wand raised and lightly traced a wisp of hair away from her cheek.

"It’s a shame, really," he mused, almost to himself. "You’re quite a pretty child. But that will make you even more of a warning for those who have stood against me. At least I will do you the honour of killing you myself, rather than letting my Death Eaters play with you – the way they did with your parents." He smiled coldly again and raised his wand above her head.

"Wait!" she cried out, knowing that this was her last chance.

Amazingly, he stopped.

"My Lord," one of the others in the circle said, his voice a mixture of sycophantic respect and annoyance, "surely you are not humouring a child?"

Whipping around, the tall figure trained his wand on the individual who had spoken.

"Crucio!" he said, almost lazily, and laughed as the man writhed in pain, dropping to the floor in agony. He waited calmly until the man’s twitchings ceased and then addressed him. "If I choose to toy with my prey, Pettigrew, that is my affair, not yours."

Turning back to her, he smiled, obviously delighting in the horror he read in her eyes.

"What was it, child? Last requests?"

She nodded, fear twisting the words in her throat.

"My parents – " she said, but she was unable to continue.

"You wish to die next to them?" he asked, his tone one of gentle commiseration. Her eyes widened, surprised that he could pity her. Then her breath hitched as she saw the gleam of condescension – of triumphal power – in his eyes. "By all means, child."

At his words, the black circle silently opened itself and she walked past the forbidding figures, her eyes fixed on the key.

There was nothing else but the key.

Somehow, through the haze that swirled in her mind, she stopped to look down at her parents. Her eyes filled as she viewed them both. Then she stepped gently past them, so that her hand rested on the small table. Inches away from the key.

She looked up, her mind still curiously detached, and saw that the tall figure had moved forward once more. She drew a breath, tensed – and waited.

"A picturesque spot, child," he murmured, "I couldn’t have chosen it better myself. Well then –"

And that was all it took. As he lifted his wand once more, she lunged for the book, grabbed it, held it tight, felt herself pulled, heard his scream of rage and fury, saw a flash of blinding green light…

And then there was nothing.

And there was nothing for a long time.

When she was finally found, huddled in a ball underneath the desk in her grandfather’s office, the horrible events of the rest of the night had been played out. Her sister and her new brother were also dead. She had no tears left to shed. She had no chance to say goodbye to her baby nephew, already taken to another sister, one who refused to acknowledge her existence. Even her two wonderful, grown-up friends were gone; Remus was doing something everyone called "in mourning," though she had no idea what that was. And Sirius – no one talked about Sirius, or let her talk about him either. And so there was only Grandfather.

And the nightmares.

But he was there for her. As he had said he always would be. Waking her, holding her close, drying the tears from her eyes. Helping her to live again.

And that was a beginning.

//
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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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