A New Joker In The Deck
Chapter 28: A New Joker In The Deck
“I am not amused!” Voldemort barked at last, irritated by the constant excuses from Bellatrix, “Parlour tricks childish pranks enough to send you fleeing? I am indeed disappointed…”
Bellatrix cringed, knowing what was to come.
The Dard Lord let the spell lie, continuing to speak even as one of his favoured servants writhed in agony at his feet, “so, Dumbledore has allowed new wards and protections to be added to those surrounding Hogwarts, wards that are entirely new in design. They will interfere with the others spells, I have no doubt in that, make them drain that much faster… a thing we will use when the time comes. But that time is not here yet.”
He glanced around the room once, and then let his eyes slide to the drooling, shuddering figure at his feet. He grimaced, then cancelled the crucio, “I still have use for you… but not if you fail me again.”
Ignoring Lestranges fawning, he glanced at the shattered remains of Lucius Malfoy, laid in a medieval gibbet in the corner of the room, “you will eventually join him. I’m sure I can make you last longer then that pathetic traitor did however.”
Bellatrix fell silent, just knelt, head bowed at her master’s feet.
“Still…” he mused, “one way or another I want Sarah. She intrigues me… and if you can not retrieve her, then you must make her come to you. She stays with the weak Gryffindors… if you take someone she considers friend then I am sure she will ride into the rescue. You know what to do then…”
Bellatrix nodded, stepping warily back from the throne.
She glanced up warily, “I did not say you could move… crucio!”
Dumbledore hid a grin as Snape stamped up to the teachers table in the Great Hall, a darker then usual glower darkening his face.
“Is everything all right Severus?” he asked mildly.
“I would be surprised if you had not heard already,” Snape barked in reply, “you seem to know everything else that happens in this school fast enough!”
“Perhaps,” he shrugged slightly, amusement dancing in his eyes, “but as I was just this morning reminded, even here I am not omniscient.”
“Ha!” the Potions Professor snarked and then grunted, “I should have realised something was up when Neville got a potion right…”
Dumbledore’s eyebrow rose in faux surprise, “Neville got a potion right? How could you allow such a thing?”
He got a sharp look in reply as Snape considered then discarded the blatant double meaning in the Headmasters words.
“He didn’t. It was an illusion, a particularly good one at that,” grudgingly, Snape had to admit that, “I would not have caught it at all if I hadn’t spotted the odd looks the rest of the class were shooting me.”
“The illusion was just on you?”
Dumbledore considered this, “I know she is improving but that much?”
He got a wry look in reply, “it wasn’t Sarah. Once I knew what to look for I spotted the sorcery swiftly enough. It seems we have some troublemakers who are using Sarah’s near free rein as a cover for their own games.”
Dumbledore shook his head, “it was not the Weasley twins…”
“I know,” Snape interrupted.
Dumbledore frowned, and then groaned, “Oh lords, it was bad enough with just the twins.”
He got a snort in reply, “it was not as if you did much to moderate their antics…”
“Every school has to have a least one group of pranksters,” he sighed, “and I am afraid that if they had been persuaded to stop someone else would have stepped into their shoes soon enough. Better the devil you know…”
“Well,” Snape grumbled, “apparently these devils have been busy enough that their absence has been noted and someone else is taking up the reins.”
“Any ideas who?”
“Not as yet,” Snape grimaced.
“One of yours I suspect,” McGonagall crossly noted, sitting down the other side of Dumbledore, “there are few enough with such a crass sense of humour in the school and most of them are Slytherins!”
“Crass?” Snape asked edgily.
“None of the first years was willing to enter Flitwicks class third period, as I found out rather to my surprise.”
Dumbledore shot her a questioning look, “Flitwick would not explain that too me,”
“I am not surprised,” McGonagall frowned, “Madam Hooch was seen entering the classroom by the first students to arrive, after which the door slammed behind her. She was there to see if she could get some of the spells on the school brooms renewed again but…”
“And?” Snape asked eventually, amused by the faint red glow on the Transfiguration teachers cheeks.
“Somebody had a recording charmed to the door and the recording… well, such things are not appropriate for a school and certainly not for the ears of First Years!”
Dumbledore sighed, “That does explain the sudden rumours regarding Flitwick and Hooch…”
Snapes eyes bulged out and he choked, “Hooch and Flitwick?”
“Quite,” Dumbledore replied, “but I agree, that does sound like a Slytherin.”
Snape considered this for a moment, “oh fuck.”
“So you can change at will now?” Ron asked.
“Yes,” Sarah replied smiling, her eyes dancing, “how are your animagus lessons going?”
Ron grinned wryly, “About the only lesson I’ve even been better then Hermoine at and that’s not saying much,”
Sarah quizzically glanced at Ron, “what about Quidditch?”
“Not a lesson,” he shrugged, “I think McGonagall is about to kill the lot of us. If she wasn’t obliged to teach us thanks to that two classes rule, then well…”
She laughed, “it took me a while to, don’t worry, if you have the capability then you will get their eventually and if you didn’t, well, you wouldn’t be here in the first place would you?”
Ron smiled, “not easy though,”
“Nothing worth while ever is,” Sarah grinned, “so, what you hanging around here for anyway, you looking for a ride?”
“Yeah, I’d ride you anytime,” Ron grinned eagerly, then blushed a furious red as Sarah gaped at him “ahh, what I mean is…”
It was too late, Sarah had already collapsed laughing.
He groaned, “You had to say that to Sarah didn’t you? Anyone else and I could have used it, replayed it in the Great Hall perhaps for all to see but Sarah?”
He shook his head, carefully backing away from the two, “Sarah is not to be touched, Sarah I will not allow to be hurt. By anyone.”
He grinned, “But I’ll get something good on you, just you wait.”
He stopped, “why am I talking to myself again?”
“I am beginning to think signing up with Voldemort was not the best of ideas,” Bellatrix grumbled.
The look shot her by Crabbe senior was a blatant ‘you think?’ which forced the irritated and scared witch to mentally raise her opinion of his intelligence a notch or two.
“We succeed, we get the order gunning for us, still have to worry about our own Boss killing us for some imagined slight and the Goblins closing our accounts just ‘cos we pissed their Golden Girl of,” she frowned, “on the other hand, we fail and we may well be dead but I’m not entirely sure that would matter. If we’re not dead then well, eventually we will be. Likely to be a long ‘eventually’.”
Goyle grunted agreement.
“Screwed if we do, screwed if we don’t,”
Crabbe nodded, then tapped at his arm.
“Right, the order and the other pissants cant attack us from a distance, Voldemort can through the mark, thanks for reminding me,” Bellatrix growled bitterly, “damn, I knew I should have taken up that offer from Wolfram and Hart when they opened that new branch in this dimension.”
Goyle arched an eyebrow at her.
“Well, it could hardly be a worse deal then this could it?!”