Just Like Acid Pops by SugarQuills
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As dusk settled over the June sky, a chill swept through Turners Hill, West Sussex, following the dirt roads leading past the tiny village. It grew more prominent, gilding itself into sheets of ice on wilting daffodils and clinging to the air like cold poison as it slithered over the hill and plunged into a small valley. There was another old village here, this one rather unfortunate compared to Turners Hill. Old stacks of wood and stone fell onto each other in the poor imitation of a parish, surrounded by equally dilapidated houses. One or two chimneys released an exhausted sigh of black soot, which grasped at air then fell like powdered rain. Despite the poor circumstances there was jovial laughter issuing from the old parish that penetrated the eerie silence.
A stranger glided to the door, his long, black robes grazing the pebbled earth. He pulled his hood close around his head, shrouding his face from view. Only his eyes remained visible – crimson, cold, arrogant, unyielding. He had come for something, and he would not leave without it. His slit-like nostrils flared as he sucked in a breath, sifting through the smells until, recognizing the right one, he snapped his head to his left and dropped his eyes to the ground.
There was an unnaturally large paw print – faint and almost unrecognizable, but apparent to his keen eyes. He followed the trail around the side of the church to the back, where a pitiful vegetable garden slumped meekly before a small forest. Crushing the sprouting tomatoes under his foot with disdain, the stranger turned abruptly, his ears apparently catching the sound of an unwelcome guest. A twig cracked and the stranger advanced towards the sound.
The light of the waxing moon revealed the plump figure of a man dressed in brown overalls. He’d stepped out from the back door of the parish, wanting some fresh air to pacify his asthma. The room inside reeked of cheap alcohol and uneaten cake; the man (and his lungs) sought a break from the festivities. The stranger regarded him with an air of mixed disgust and amusement. The man was not one of his kind.
“May I help you, sir?” said the man with a friendly smile. “We don’t get lots o’ outside folks ‘round ‘ere.”
The stranger’s lip curled. He had no time for this. His appointment was late, and he despised waiting. But he wondered the reason for the function going on inside. There certainly wasn’t much to celebrate in the dingy town. Perhaps he could amuse himself for the time being by causing some sort of...catastrophe…accidentally, of course. He wouldn’t want anything horrible or painful to harm innocent Muggles…His thin lips twitched.
“Why do you rejoice?” he asked coldly.
The man did not seem to notice the unfriendliness. He answered with another smile.
“Why, sir, we got a lot to be thankful for, sir.” The stranger glanced around scornfully, but the man continued, “We just finished repaintin' our church, sir." He gestured to the white building before them. "But in our communi'y it's more than that. We all got love, sir, an’ the blessing o’ life!”
The stranger regretted his question. His time had been wasted listening to the naive optimism of the villager.
“The blessing of life…” The stranger repeated, his voice laced with irony.
How quickly he could shatter this man’s “blessing”…It would be like killing a fly…a mere mortal…a weak, pathetic thing. Quite unlike the stranger – no, he possessed powers beyond the wildest dreams of the man before him.
A shift in the stranger's demeanor suddenly alerted the man to danger, and his forehead trickled with cold sweat. The stranger noticed, and his mouth twisted into a sickening smile.
“A blessing indeed,” he said.
He pulled out a long, thin, wooden stick from the depths of his robes and flicked it most casually at the parish. An ear-splitting shriek sliced through the air. As the man watched in horror, red flames erupted in a ring around the building, licking the newly-painted walls and trapping the people inside. Paralyzed with shock, the man didn’t notice the second jerk of the stranger’s wrist anymore than he anticipated the jet of neon green light that sent him stumbling backwards. He collapsed on the ground, the blessing of life snatched away from him unmercifully.
“Marvelous, my Lord,” said a voice from the shadows of the forest.
Lord Voldemort did not turn, but instead surveyed the scene before him. The Muggle lay crumpled in the dirt, where he belonged, deaf to the screams of terror coming from the people trapped in the parish. They could wait. The fire wouldn’t be what killed them that night…
“You’re late, Fenrir,” Voldemort said, disappointment evident in his tone.
“My Lord, there was a holdup, I-”
“That will do.” Voldemort finally turned to face the kneeling man before him.
Fenrir Greyback looked like a monster. He was tall and bulky, his face was scarred and scruffy, his body cut and bruised, and his eyes glazed over permanently with a wild, deranged savagery. He was everything Voldemort desired.
“I have a task for you, Fenrir.”
Greyback rose hesitantly, still maintaining a respectful – rather, a fearful – distance.
“Does it concern the young boy, my Lord?” he asked.
Voldemort waved his arm dismissively. “He has joined me recently, as I knew he would. But enough – he intrigues me no longer. It is his brother whom I desire – the brother and his three little friends. Coaxing such talent to our side can only benefit me, Fenrir.”
“And my place in this, my Lord?”
“You are to recruit them. I’ve left you an early reward.”
Greyback’s eyes strayed to the parish, which both of them had been ignoring. The fire did not come close enough to burn the building, but the chaos continued as people tried to find a way through the ring of flames. Greyback licked his lips greedily, but turned back quickly to Voldemort. He still looked confused, as he was usually not called upon for the recruitment of…normal…Death Eaters.
“Why me, my Lord?”
”One of the four carries your mark, Fenrir. Perhaps you remember him? His name is Remus Lupin.”