The Sugar Quill
Author: Mysterious Muggle (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Absence of Light  Chapter: Prologue
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Absence of Light

Absence of Light

By Mysterious Muggle






Then. (Four years ago)


            Nick Donovan practically skipped as he moved along the path. His fingers trailed along the high fence beside him, and his smile threatened to split his face in two. He performed an impromptu drum solo on the letterbox, took a bow and continued towards the house, which was painted orange by the light of the setting sun. She was standing at the window, smiling and shaking her head. He just grinned wider, unaware that in a few short hours, it was all going to be torn apart.






Nick Donovan walked slowly through the darkened room. There was barely enough light to see by, but he didn’t mind. He knew the room like the back of his hand, and the darkness seemed…well, somewhat appropriate. People like him didn’t live in brightly lit, bustling rooms. People like him wore black, spurned company, and lived in the dark. It was the way of things.

Not that they had always been that way, he admitted, but things change, and he’d long ago given up fighting these particular changes. As he pulled on the long black cloak he habitually wore, he thought back to happier times. He paused momentarily, and then shook his head, clearing it of distracting thoughts. Now was not the time. It was never the time. He had sworn again and again to stop dwelling on the past. A past that could not be changed. But that knowledge never stopped him from wondering how it could have ended up if things had been different. He was willing to bet that he wouldn’t be here, now. Preparing for what he was about to do.

He slipped the ring onto his finger, and almost stopped himself remembering the night he had gotten it. Almost.






            The body of her assailant slumped lifelessly to the ground, like a puppet with its strings cut.  Nick heard her scream, but it seemed distant and muffled. He lowered his wand and walked over to the body. Just before he lifted the mask, he looked back. She was standing there, looking shocked and shaking slightly. He turned back and lifted the mask off the corpse’s face.

            His cry of anguish echoed over the darkened hills.




*    *    *






            Anna Stewart sighed and rubbed her eyes. She was seated in her office, which held little more than a small desk, some filing cabinets and a few chairs. There was a clock sitting on the desk, but she had turned it to face away from her. She always found it distracting when working late. The only illumination came from a group of candles hovering just above her. Paperwork overflowed from the desk, and some had ended up on the floor. She wasn’t in the mood to pick it up.

She hadn’t joined for this. You didn’t become an Auror so you could sit in a cramped office writing reports. She understood that reports were necessary, and agreed that they needed to be done, but she didn’t mean that she should do them. The advertisements and posters talked about the action, about the fighting for a cause. They never once mentioned all of this. Still, she knew what she was fighting for.

            She stared blankly at the piece of parchment currently vying for her attention for a few more seconds, and finally threw her quill down in disgust. It was too late at night to be doing this sort of thing. But the powers that be wanted as many people available as possible. Something big was happening, Anna knew that much. But all she wanted to do now was to sleep through it.

            She stood up and stretched. Time to grab a bite to eat, she thought. Reports can wait. Reports will wait. She reached the door just as it swung open. The man framed in it was not a pretty sight, but she was used to it by now.

            “Hello, Alastor,” she said wearily. “What’s up?” Alastor Moody’s expression was difficult to read. But then, with a face as mangled as that, it’s always difficult to read, she thought.

            “Sit down, Anna,” he said in his usual deep growl “There’s someone you need to meet.”

            He motioned to someone outside, just around the corridor. Three men walked in, two of them Ministry agents; flanking the third like he was a prisoner. The third man’s face was covered by a piece of cloth that had been thrown over his head. Moody turned back towards Anna and said, “We thought it was time you met our spy.” He stepped over towards the prisoner and pulled the cloth away.

            Anna was glad she was sitting down. She felt like she’d seen a ghost. “Severus…?” she asked in disbelief.

            Severus Snape looked into her eyes and nodded. “Hello, Anna,” he said in a quiet voice. “It’s been a long time.”

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