Prologue - Stolen

"Ron, we need to talk."

The lanky red-head groggily sat up in bed, slowly coming to terms with his surroundings. One of the Cannons on the poster which he'd stuck to the ceiling over his bed yawned and waved tiredly at him as the rest of the team slept soundly; some were hunched over on their brooms while others had simply fallen out of the frame. Ron smiled unconcernedly at the poster and then frowned. Why had he woken up in the middle of the night? Hadn't he heard something? Wasn't there someone who had called his name...?

The gears in his head sluggishly began to shift into motion and he took a slow look around his room through half-lidded eyes.

His gaze finally came to rest on a shadowy figure with disheveled dark hair a few feet away. He quietly regarded his best friend, who was standing at the far corner of his bedroom at the Burrow, staring idly out the window. With his raspy, sleepy voice he asked, "What are you doing up right now? It's late, you should be asleep."

Harry didn't acknowledge his friend at all and Ron began to wonder if he'd just imagined hearing him say something. After a moment of silence, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and squirmed over to the edge of his bed.

"Harry?" he tried, but again there was no response. There was a certain, uneasy strangeness to the situation and he felt as if he was viewing the scene through an unfocused lens rather than living in it. An expression of concern and curiosity crept onto Ron's face as he studied his silent friend. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and as his bare feet touched the cool wood floorboards, Harry craned his neck around and looked over in his direction, wearing an unsettlingly cheerful smile.

"Nice night, isn't it?"

He'd spoken the words in a completely normal, conversational tone; if he'd said them at any other time, in another place, there would have been no cause for alarm. However, Ron began to feel very alarmed when Harry nonchalantly opened the window with a lazy wave of his wand and cackled mischievously as he peered up at the moon, which shimmered brightly behind a cotton ball of clouds. He rested his arms across his bent knee and grinned crookedly at Ron, who stood at the side of his bed, rooted in place.

"Er, yeah, it is," he murmured. He clumsily fumbled around on his nightstand, looking for his wand, when he felt the blood drain from his face and his breath caught in his throat.

Harry casually withdrew a familiar, ash wand from his pocket and held it up into the silver moonlight, inspecting it closely. He absently twirled it around in his hand, testing the weight of it. After a moment, he nodded knowingly, like a wine connoisseur might do after tasting a fine vintage. His sparkling emerald eyes bore into Ron's and in a low voice he said, "I like your wand."

"Um." Ron was now fully awake and he could feel sweat starting to drip down the inside of his shirt, although he was too afraid to tug at his collar for fear of what Harry might do if he made any sudden movements. "So, uh, what are you doing?"

"Well," Harry began. His face adopted a look of intense concentration as he aimed his wand at Ron's. "I was wondering what was inside of it... Diffindo!"

A wood splinter tore itself away from Ron's beloved wand and dropped to the floor.

"Oi! What are you doing to my wand?!"

Harry arched an eyebrow and gave him a quizzical sidelong glance before he returned to dismantling the other wizard's wand. "I'm making sure you won't be able to stop me from doing what I'm about to do."

Ron's blood ran cold and he felt his muscles tense up. Shakily he asked, "And just what is it that you're going to do?"

"Diffindo." The final piece of his wand fell to the floor, joining the rest of the splinters to form a sad pile of wooden remains. Perhaps it was the pale moonlight playing tricks on his eyes, but Ron thought he saw a shadow flicker across Harry's face for a bare second as the other boy patiently began to advance towards him, wand raised and pointed firmly at him. When the wand was pressing into his neck and the two were standing only inches apart, Harry allowed a sinister smirk to show. "I'm getting you out of my way, Ron. You are, after all, only holding me back."

His cruel laugh was the last thing he heard before the world went dark around him.

12/5/06

Prologue's a bit on the short side, but I promise the rest will be normal length!