Stage 1: Obedience

The first stage in moral development is characterized by a reaction to stimuli: It is wrong to steal, because one is punished, or it is good to steal, because it feels good to receive something one does not pay for. This is the stage of moral development inhabited by children. As a child, I follow the rules because I fear pain, or I break them because I can gain pleasure. Most of humanity rapidly moves past this initial stage of moral development.

"Ah, Rosie, get back here!" Ronald Weasley dashed the short distance down the lane to grab his daughter before she managed to stick whatever it was she had found into her mouth. The two year old girl screwed up her face and let out a loud wail, irritated that slimy rubbish she had picked up from the dirt lane was not being put in her mouth.

"Oh, silly, I told you we don't stick rubbish in our mouths," Ron said, picking his daugher up and hoisting her in his arms. He blew a raspberry into his daughters belly and she squealed with delight, quickly forgetting her woes. "Come on love, we've got to get back to the Burrow before your grandmother gets back. She wouldn't want to miss time with her granddaughter, would she?"

Hosting the toddler onto his shoulders, Ron stepped down the lane, whistling happily in the late April sunshine as he dodged muddy puddles in the lane leading away from Ottery St Catchpole. He'd wanted to take his daughter out for a walk, and they had gone a bit farther than he intended, but it was all in good fun.

As Ron neared the small wooden bridge over the stream along the path, he found a worried looking man peering confusedly about him, right before the markers that prevented muggles from getting into the Burrow.

"Hi!" Rose shouted, waving her pudgy arms excitedly.

The man whirled, his balding forehead slick with beaded perspiration, and his rain slicker looking muddied and ill used. His eyes widened when he saw Ron and his daughter, and he hurried forward. "You! Are you a Weasley?"

Ron halted, readying his wand in his arm holster. "Yeah, I'm a Weasley. Who are you?"

The man hurried up, red in the face and panting. "I'm Charlie, Charlie Prewett. I'm your cousin! Well, your mom's cousin. Molly's cousin. You must have heard of me?"

Ron relaxed slightly, but kept his wand at the ready. "Oh, yeah, I know you. You're an accountant, right?" He did not add, "the family squib."

"Stockbroker, actually. And who's this then?"

"I Rosie!" Rose squealed, and Ron got her down so that she could wave hello to the man. He had the red Prewett hair, and though he didn't look anything like Ron's mother as far as he could tell, Charles seemed a nice enough sort.

"Hello, Rosie," Charles said softly. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a muggle picture, which he held up for Ron to see. In it, a smiling young girl with two missing front teeth laughed as she swung from a swing at a muggle park somewhere, her brown hair trailing in the breeze behind her. "This is my youngest daughter, Gisela. She's eight years old."

"She's lovely," Ron said politely. "Good to see you, Charles. But I've got to get back home, mum will be around soon."

"Wait! Please, wait. My daughter, she's sick. Leukemia. The doctors...they've tried everything. Nothing's worked. They say she only has a few months to live." With trembling hands, Charles got out another picture. The child in it could not have been more different. Her skin was pallid, and there was no smile. Her head was bald, and her eyes dull and listless as she sat in a hospital gown, staring up at the camera with dead eyes.

"I...I'm sorry," Ron stammered, unsure why this man was telling him about a dying child.

"You can do something!" Charles babbled. "You're a wizard! I know you are! Molly was, well, the whole family was. I've tried tracking you lot down for ages, hasn't been easy. Gideon and Fabian are dead, the rest of the family too. But I tracked Molly down, even if she is a Weasley now. And you! You must be a wizard! You can do magic, save my daugher! Please! She's your cousin!"

"I don't...I can't-" Ron stopped as a voice called for him in the distance.

"Ron! Rosie! Where are you?" From the woods, Ron's wife appeared, waddling along in shapeless robes, her huge belly proclaiming the imminent birth of her next child.

Ron waved, picking up Rosie in one arm. "Hello, Hermione. Sorry, this is my wife, I have to-"

"No!" Charles grabbed onto Ron's other arm, his face desperate. "Please, don't, you're my last hope! She's my baby and-"

"Stupefy!" A red bolt shot out of Hermione's wand and slammed into Charles, knocking him out and dropping him to the ground, where his body splashed in the mud. Ron nudged the man with his boot, rolling him over so he wouldn't drown in the muck.

"Ron, what was that?" Hermione demanded, waddling forward with her wand still drawn.

"He...he's my squib cousin," Ron said faintly, clutching his daughter. "He's daughter is sick. Some muggle disease. He wanted me to cure her."

"Well, we can't go around curing every little disease every time a muggle has a problem," Herione huffed, coming over to take Rose out of Ron's arms. "Come on. Ugh! Rosie is filthy! Do you want to obliviate him, or should I?"

Ron withdrew his wand, bending over to touch it to Charles temple. "I'll do it." As he muttered the spell, Ron noticed the papers fluttering in the breeze in a mud puddle, and picked them up. It was the pictures of Charles daughter. What was her name? Georgia? Something like that. Absently, he pocketed the pictures, shaken by the whole confrontation. He finished the memory charm, carful only to remove the memory of meeting Ron, and stepped away after his own wife and child.

"It's for the best," Ron told himself. "I'd only get hurt if I went about helping muggles."

Ultimately, the first stage must be left for it is entirely self centered. It is the stage meant for animals, the stage at which there is no actual moral reasoning, only response and reaction. Thankfully, humans are capable of much more complex moral reasoning.