Author’s Note: Thanks very much to my Beta’s, Letomo and EllandrahSylver. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# Many thanks to Kitlynn. mackiechandler . RingofHeart and tchizek for recommending this story. Ninety-four now… I’m going into full renovation/move mode now, so updates might be a bit irregular. Chapter 77 Dangerous pasttimes Crumrin Manor
Aloysius Crumrin sighed as he looked up from his desk. He had been dreaming quite happily about walking in a meadow of wild flowers and now he was behind his desk, in his study, in his house, surrounded by his books and behind the safety of his wards. His home, a place that most witches and adepts considered the centre of their power. But to Aloysius Crumrin it was just a place, albeit one where he was comfortable. So now he was here, he wondered why.
The door opened and he blinked. The being that walked in was misshapen and huge, its vast jaws holding rows of sharp, serrated teeth, its huge hands and fingers tipped with claws. Blood dripped from both. The beast was followed quickly by others, a plethora of his enemies, dead or defeated, usually both. Aloysius had not reached that age of almost hundred and fifty years by leaving enemies alive, thank you very much. Only the strongest of the immortal Fae he had faced were still alive and they had mostly fled back to the domains of Faerie.
Aloysius rose, his hand in the pocket of his elegant black and green housecoat, the other leaning lightly on the desk, the tips of his fingers just touching the polished surface. “Ladies, gentlemen? To what do I owe this honour?”
One of the females, a Rusalka he'd met and defeated a good eighty years ago, jumped at him, claws extended. A quick gesture sent her flying away, to land in the fireplace and go up in a shriek and a gust of steam. Rusalka were really rather pathetic without a river to drown people in. Without her native element present clawing and biting and her song were her only weapons. But in reality he'd defeated it without any injury merely by offering a young Russian Army captain, who had even gotten away unscathed, if with his ardour noticeably cooled. But now she left a scratch on his cheek. Aloysius knew he was in trouble; the cut reverberated through his aura, his magical core. This was no mere nightmare, this was an attack on his very being.
His gaze swept over the group as they filled his room. The unwashed and uncouth were climbing on his furniture and that was something that Aloysius could not allow. “Excuse me, I think you should leave now,” he offered politely.
The growl from the nearest Hobgoblin was enough to make him raise his eyebrow. It had been a very long time since any Hobgoblin had even dared look at him, let alone defy him. Another reason this had to be a dream.
The Hobgoblin bit at him and its yellow, crumbling teeth left a red mark in his forearm. If the dream continued like this eventually they would wear him down. He cast his gaze about as he was attacked again and again. He was identifying his opponents, trying to locate one who did not fit. To propel oneself into a dream required an avatar, a representative, as well as a balance, to escape. No being would risk being caught in the mindscape of a person driven to insanity in his dreams.
Aloysius had just dispatched the League of Ordinary Gentlemen and was starting on the Hag of Serpent Mound when he saw the first discrepancy. A man in a cheap suit with pieces of processed cheese draped all over him. The man nodded gravely and gestured with a limp, sweaty slice of a pale orange colour. Aloysius was almost certain milk had nothing to do with its production. But he was the only one out of place. Aloysius would remember a man draped in cheese among his enemies, he was sure.
The Hag had been dispatched but the side of his body was bruised and it had taken a lot of energy to change his left leg back from the chicken leg she had changed it into. The really tough opponents were waiting, biding their time, letting the cannon fodder weaken him. Aloysius smiled. A gesture brought his swordstick to his hand, and then the cold steel bit through the neck of the skin dancer at the same time that the snifter of brandy upended itself into the hole of its neck and the ornate salt cellar on the mantle was flung over its screaming head. The skindancer died, with rather less trouble than it had last time. Aloysius had learned a lot since he last fought most of these beings. And he was tired of having to react. He had always been better at attacking anyway.
He sprang at the hulking form of Rawhead and Bloodybones and thrust a lightning bolt into the pale wizard next to him, then ducked the great beast's blow and sent a flare of fire into the bird-like faerie on the other side. Rawhead and Bloodybones roared and leaned forward, catching Aloysius a hard slash across the face, sending him reeling back and stumbling into the wall by the fireplace. It sprang forward and then Aloysius' sword slashed out to meet it, cutting through the thick bony wrist and while Rawhead howled, its head was severed from his shoulders.
Aloysius retreated into the safety of his huge fireplace, counting his enemies. He had taken out four of the most dangerous, but not the being who was orchestrating this dream. His eyes swept the room, taking everything in, giving nothing away. The eyes of the great trophy head of the Grizzly he had killed in '03 seemed to be following him. He lunged towards the nearest enemy, a blob of yellow slime and summoned a spout of water that mingled with the salt on the floor. The blob started to bubble and foam as it absorbed the saline. A lesser hobgoblin rushed at Aloysius and the old adept summoned up the floor boards and watched the thing impale itself on the cold iron nails.
He was getting tired. He was much too old for a battle royale like this, even though it was strangely exhilarating at the same time. He allowed himself to be driven away from the bear's head, but then took a deep breath, pointed his sword as if he was bout to attack a rather unpleasant looking Inferi and spoke his next spell. *Getting tired, old man. It's been years since you've had to use an incantation,*
he thought wryly.
The silvery Archaeopteryx that shot out of the sword and towards the bear, the brown eyes widened. The man with the cheese gasped in surprise and the remnant of his opponents screamed and faded.
With a shudder Aloysius fell to his knees. He felt anger, bitterness and just a small amount of respect and then he was alone in his head once more. He was battered and bloody and with deliberate care he went to his drinks cabinet and removed a decanter of whisky and drank a glass. Then he sat down behind his desk and started to put his dreamscape back in order. He left the bear's head till last. When his magic, weakened and weary, touched it, the bear's open jaws snapped shut on it. Aloysius winced and woke up, his body aching and his magic depleted.
He looked at the clock by his bed and nodded at the time. He could set a temporary ward and then could go back to sleep and rest. He would need the it, he’d have to reweave his wards entirely to make sure there were no cracks or gaps in them. He looked at the raw, red marks as of a bear's teeth on his hand and smiled, if a trifle grimly. “Well… now that was interesting. This requires research.”
Aloysius settled down, his mind and body weary, and made a mental note to call his colleagues in other Covens and see if they had encountered similar attacks.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS New York, Meier Family Charitable Foundation Headquarters, December 29th
Micheala Tyler, Director of the Meier Houses scrubbed her face with her hands. Then she looked up at her equally tired assistant, Juliet Hindemeyer. “Well? How many do we have now?”
“Eighty-three children from ages three to seventeen, all adamant that they do not
want to return to their families,” Juliet replied wearily. “That’s the Eastern Sector alone. We haven’t heard from Mountain and Pacific yet.”
“Wonderful. I really need to call Dr. Meier about this,” Michaela looked at the papers in front of her. “Why do the older children say that they don’t want to return?”
Juliet sighed. “They all claim they were stolen. When we ask how they know they just say they do.”
“And the parents?” Micheala asked. “What do they say?”
Juliet looked at the papers on Michaela’s desk. “You won’t believe this. I don’t believe this and I gathered the data,” Juliet took a deep breath. “It varies, a bit. Some of them are dead, by various weird means. One couple burst into flame, another died covered in weeping sores, one pair suffered simultaneous nerve damage that has crippled them, causing incredible pain and palsy.”
Micheala gave the other woman a disbelieving look. “What? Stuff like this is happening to all of them?”
Juliet nodded. “All of them. Some are worse affected, some less. None of them are able to take care of the children in their current conditions anyway. None of the children want anything to do with them, ever again, period.”
“I see,” Michaela tapped her chin with a blunt finger. Her dark brown eyes settled on a reproduction of a painting of Simon Meier X. “What about grandparents? Uncles, aunts, guardians? That sort of thing?”
Juliet sat down. “All the children have the same guardian, something called the Montgomery Foundation. I haven’t checked, with Mountain and Pacific yet to see if they have seen the same thing.”
Michaela frowned. “You know, this is starting to sound more than a little suspicious.”
“A little?” Juliet snorted. “I’d say a lot.”
Michaela sighed. “Any special cases I should know about?”
Juliet frowned. “Well, there’s one oddity. There’s two girls, the younger is well fed and cared for. The older seems well cared for but is painfully thin and it seems she lost the weight very quickly, but the doctor can find nothing wrong with her.”
Michaela nodded. “Right. Keep monitoring her. If she doesn’t improve we’ll call in Dr. Meier himself if need be.”
Juliet nodded. “Okay. So, what do we do, hand these kids over to this Montgomery Foundation?”
“No. No. Send out a message not a single of these kids is to be handed over until we have clarity. I think I’ll make some calls…” Micheala reached for her phone.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Hogwarts’ Grounds, 29th of December
The four girls wandered around the grounds, ignoring the cold as the two Witches showed their guests the Wizarding world.
The Whomping Willow had been a great success, as had the tales concerning it. But the favourite remained the Magical Creatures. Dawn kept looking wistfully at the ancient trees of the Forbidden Forest, as if hoping for a Unicorn to appear and Kit scanned the sky for dragons.
Ginny grinned. “The Unicorns are not coming out just because you're curious. If that worked, they would have to be out every time a First Year came near it.”
Luna nodded. “Ginny tried at dawn and at dusk and even skipped Charms once to try at noon, but curiosity doesn't work.”
“Luna!” Ginny objected.
Luna winked at the younger girls. “Ginny is trying to maintain a proper blasé attitude, to preserve her mystique and that of our world.”
Dawn giggled. “Ah. And you don't?”
Luna shook her head. “No. Things like that aren't important.”
“What is important, then?” Ginny asked rather snappishly.
“I'd like Daddy to wake up, and to remember Maman. I want Harry to have a better life and Professor Snape to be happier,” Luna replied thoughtfully.
Ginny looked at Luna and then sighed. “Do you always have to be so ridiculously wise and grown up?”
Luna grinned impishly. “Compared to a Gryffindor? Of course?”
“Okay, can you explain what all that Gryffindor stuff s about?” Kit asked, grinning as well, though her face was sad.
“Sure!” Ginny and Luna explained as they led the other girls around the lake.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Hogwarts, Chambers of Sybill Trelawney
Minerva McGonagall sat looking at Sybill as Arlene tucked her in with a strange gentleness and fierce protectiveness on her face. The frightened girl, Evelyn, Minerva remembered, was there as well, lightly holding onto her mother's robe.
She smiled slightly as she remembered that Hagrid had been very firmly told to leave after he had carried Sybill to her chambers. The half giant was not needed while the Divination Professor was put into one of her soft white linen nightgowns. Arlene certainly had a commanding presence.
“What was that spell you used?” Minerva asked with an eye on her colleague who was breathing deeply and seemingly sleeping.
Arlene removed the huge glasses and placed them gently on the white, bare bedside table. “It's not a spell, as such. It is an ancient ritual, or prayer, or meditation technique depending on who you ask. Those who suffer from Visions have used it for millennia to gain control of their emotions in the face of powerful and upsetting dreams and premonitions,” she explained. “My father asked his old teacher to teach it to me.”
Minerva nodded, thoughtfully noting the word ‘suffer’. “I see. Why doesn't Sybill use it more often? She seemed to know it?”
Arlene looked at the younger woman in the bed pensively. “I don't know. It is difficult to achieve without a personal focus and none of the baubles she wears is one. Her wand would not function as one, it is a different kind of tool. I created mine myself, most of us do.”
Minerva tapped her lip. “I see.”
“You said she comes from a long line of Seers and Prophets?” Arlene asked.
“Yes, the Trelawneys have had that power for generations, though it skips on occasion. I always thought Sybill was bit of a fraud.”
Arlene shrugged. “Most of her prophecies probably are
fake. She obviously goes into trance for the real ones, having little control over them,” she gently patted Sybill's hands and stepped away from the bed. “Not much food in real prophecies. People rarely want to hear them. Predictions of wealth and riches are much more popular.”
Minerva nodded. “Very understandable,” then her mouth quirked. “Though since Sybill has a stable income from Hogwarts she tends to predict the death of pupils. One of them is supposed to die each year.”
Arlene raised an eyebrow. “How many have?”
Minerva rolled her eyes. “None, of course.”
Arlene gave the older woman a hard look. “Of course. Did it ever occur to you that she’s been preventing it?”
“P-preventing?” Minerva seemed stunned at the notion.
“Yes. Preventing,” Arlene repeated.
“But she’s so vague! How could she prevent anything?” Minerva objected.
“Because that way she can be where she is needed, and do what must be done and smile and be gone?” Arlene shrugged. “I don’t know if she really has been, if she’s a prophetess her visions probably range in years rather than weeks or hours. So she might just be hamming. But I wouldn’t underestimate anyone
with the Curse.”
Minerva eyed her colleague. “Ah. I think I know.”
“What?” Arlene asked.
“She knows what happens to oracles who give unwelcome news, as she knows there are those who would take her and force her to use her talent,” Minerva explained. “Sybill has been hiding, hiding in plain sight.”
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Hogwarts, Main Hall
Severus Snape had been observing the red-headed woman with some trepidation. She had been introduced to him on arrival as his brother's former Nanny, young Willow's grandmother and his cousin due to an ancestor's less than stellar moral compass. She also worried him. The look she gave him seemed to be compounded of Pomfrey, McGonnagal and Sprout, all tutting over him and telling him to take better care of himself. If he wasn't careful the woman might start to mother him.
The way his sister acted and that his entire newly found family had hugged him had been embarrassing enough. Narcissa had even taken pictures. If he had to maintain his persona as Evil Potions master and Faithful Spy for Voldemort the fact he had a loving, non-magical family was going to make his life difficult.
Severus had managed to escape outside earlier, to look at the Dementors. On the whole he might prefer facing the soul-sucking monstrosities to facing the woman eying him so keenly.
Minerva, standing next to him saw the direction of his look. She sighed. “Really, Severus. She's just a bit curious. I’m sure she won't do anything to embarrass you. Like pinch your cheeks. Or tell you you’re adorable when you sneer and pout.”
Snape focused the entirety of his powerful gaze on the older woman, who smiled at him fondly. “Ah, Severus, that expression reminds me of your very first Transfiguration class. You gave me that exact same look. You were such a cute little boy back then... I think I may even have a picture...”
The red-headed woman approached, Clarice and Joyce in tow. Minerva reached into her handbag and removed a large album of photos. Severus knew that though dominated by Gryffindors, there were pictures of him in there.
He wondered if he could flee to his laboratory and take poison before rather than after his great humiliation.
He looked at the approaching redhead and saw that she was followed by Willow and Alexander (Snape absolutely refused to call the boy Xander) as well as Buffy, (What a name! And Normals had the gall to comment on Wizarding names?) who looked drawn, frightened and thoughtful. Then again, Severus had heard about the encounter with Sybill earlier that morning while he was out. The older woman took three steps and then looked straight into Severus’ eyes. Severus blinked as he felt the slight push against his shields, scowled and pushed back. The red-headed woman smirked.
“Yes, you are
“Well, isn’t that wonderful. You can tell by penetrating my mind?” Severus snarked.
“Actually, yes. All of us have shields up the wazoo,” Danielle noted. “That and you and Simon are too much alike not to be related.”
“And who are you, madam?” Severus asked coolly.
“I’m Danielle Moritz. Willow’s grandmother, your distant cousin and Simon’s former nanny,” Danielle looked him up and down critically. “You’re awfully thin and look unhealthy. Don’t they feed you around here?”
Minerva McGonagall, standing next to Severus, stifled a snort.
“I’m in excellent health,” Severus began.
“You know, you have exactly the same tone of voice Simon had when he assured me the gaping hole through his arm he got in Vietnam was just a minor fleshwound,” Danielle interrupted him conversationally.
Dumbledore coughed. “Be careful dear lady, teasing Severus is dangerous. He might bit your legs off.”
Danielle blinked in surprise and then her lips quirked. Behind her several of the younger members of the family sniggered. “Well. I am surprised to hear a Wizard quote Monty Python.”
Albus twinkled at her. “Ah, my dear Magistra Moritz, I have unexpected depths.”
Danielle snorted. “I see. Well, can you tell me where Simon is?”
“He is testing the efficacy of the Dementor controlling amulets the Ministry uses with Auror Moody. Ms. Summers and Lady Clarice are with Mrs. Weasley and Ms. Ellis is with Sybill,” Minerva supplied. “And the younger children are outside, in the stables, playing with the magical creatures.”
Danielle nodded. “Good, that means that I’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted with Severus. Oooh, is that a photo album?”
Only Severus’s long habit of controlling his emotions prevented him from wincing.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Hogwarts, Great Hall, some time later
“Frederick Gideon Weasley!” Molly Weasley called out, her voice harsh.
Fred turned round and saw his mother stand with two other women. Lady Clarice and Mr. Madison were behind them, looking uncomfortable and Mum was looking very annoyed.
Professor Snape was there as well and his face was thunderous.
Quickly running down the list of pranks he’d perpetrated recently Fred walked to his mother, smiling. George trailed him, trying to look innocent.
“What were you thinking?” Molly asked in an icy voice.
Fred blinked. “What about?”
“A prank is one thing, Fred. What you did, that crosses the line into despicable!” Molly spat.
Fred looked from one angry, stern face to the next. “What am I supposed to have done?”
“You put a love potion into Lady Clarice’s tea!” Molly growled. “Admit it, at least!”
Fred goggled. “Wha’? No I didn’t! That was just to wind up George! That stuff never works! George and I tested it!”
George let out an indignant squawk at having been pranked but shut up at Snape’s glare.
“Tested? How?” Snape demanded to know, his voice icy cold.
“Rabbits, owls, then Flobberworms. Then me,” Fred explained. “It was just some pink fluid. All it did was make my nose itch and my tongue tingle”
“What was it supposed to do?” Snape now eyed Patrick with considerable animosity.
Fred shrugged. “I admit it was supposed to be a love potion. We found it in an old book and decided that if it was that old and that intricate it might be a good thing to try out.”
“I see. What was the name of the book? And the potion?” Snape asked, his obsidian black eyes fastened on Patrick with enough intensity that the bigger man almost backed away.
Fred shuffled nervously. “The book was in Latin. I don’t recall the title exactly, we, errr, couldn’t get it out of the Restricted Section and barely had time to get the recipe. Someone had put a translation in there, so we took that since our Latin isn’t the best. I don’t think anyone probably had looked in it for donkeys’ years. But errr, the potion was called Anima Vera
“WHAT!” Snape thundered, his gaze suddenly back on Fred. Molly gasped, as did the older witches.
Fred gulped as the Potions master’s nose almost took his eye out, he loomed so near. “You blithering dunderheaded idiot!”
Clarice stepped up to Snape and put a hand on his arm. “Severus, what does it do? Is it dangerous?”
Snape growled. “To brew? Yes, very. These two idiots could have blown up half of Hogwarts while doing it.”
“What. Does. It. Do?” Clarice demanded.
Severus took two steps and faced Patrick. “If you hurt her in any way, I swear you will suffer in ways you cannot imagine.”
“SEVERUS!” Clarice yelled.
“It’s a type of love potion. But it only works for those who already love each other dearly. It allows the formation of a Soul Bond,” Cecilia spoke softly. “I’ve never seen it, or brewed it, and all I know of it are legends and rumours.”
Clarice looked stunned. “Soul Bond? Like Simon and Joyce?”
Severus blinked. “They are soul bonded?”
Cecilia nodded, her face drawn. “Yes, they are. Clarice?”
“Soul bonded?” Clarice looked at Patrick as tears started to run down her face.. “Oh God, Patrick, I’m so sorry!”
Patrick’s eye narrowed. Then he looked at Fred. “You and I will have words later, boy.” Then he stepped towards Clarice and lifted her bodily off the ground and carried her to a private room.
Cecilia glared at Fred. “So what did you think the potion did?”
Fred sighed. “I thought it would reveal the Soul, you know, the magical core? George thought it was a love potion. So if anyone is to be punished, it ought to be me,” He met the older witch’s eyes firmly.
“Why do you even allow such things as despicable as rape potions?” Danielle asked her voice full of loathing.
“Tradition,” Molly replied. “Once a couple has declared their love for each other, or as a means to do so, the exchange of such potions is tradition. To use it to force someone to submit to another is a crime punishable by twenty years in Azkaban, minimum. Or the Dementor’s Kiss”
Cecilia snorted. “And how many people are convicted of that crime? How many men use those potions and how many of their victims come forward?”
“All except the rarest of these potions can be detected in the blood for up to a month. Exchanging potions and then denying it is social death sentence. I believe the last case of such a use was fifteen years ago. The young wizard in question died in Azkaban. The witch is married with several children,” Severus explained. “Rape is no more tolerated in Wizarding society then in yours. Less even.”
Cecilia bit her lip. “What effect will this have on Clarice, Severus?”
Severus tilted his head in thought. “I don’t know if a Soul Bond actually formed. Someone better at reading auras than me would have to check that,” he pursed his lips.
Cecilia shook her head. “I’ll check with Danielle later.”
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS A classroom
“Clarice?” Patrick asked softly. The auburn haired woman in his arms was sobbing, more reminiscent of the picture painted by her worried parents when they had told Patrick to be very careful with her affections or to suffer the very painful consequences than the strong, vibrant woman he’d become used to.
He only got another sob as a reply and returned to his soothing murmurs and rubbing his large hands over her slim shoulders and back. It took him a while but she finally calmed down enough to talk.
“I’m sorry. I never meant to harm you,” Clarice said in a still trembling voice.
Patrick looked at her. Then his mouth started to quaver. And then his cheeks. And finally he started to laugh. He grabbed hold of Clarice before she could run out of the room, or scream in indignation and hugged her.
Clarice let out a squeak as her nose was buried somewhere in the region of Patrick’s breastbone. “I love you, Clare. I’ve probably loved you since you threw me in to that pond.”
Clarice looked up at him, and then laid her cheek against his broad chest. “But that potion… It forced you to become my soulmate…”
Patrick kissed the top of her head. “And I should mind why? You’re smart, successful, rich, sweet, nice, exasperating, funny, drive me to distraction, manage my daughter, tell me to put on my workshoes when you call me in the morning, cook us dinner. Love us,” He lowered his hands from her back and squeezed her bottom, the action pulling up her robes. “Not to mention you’ve got a perfect ass and are hot as hell.”
“PATRICK!” Clarice yanked at her robes to make them fall back into the rigid folds that Patrick’s handling of her lower assets had disturbed. Then she grinned up at him. “Not until we’re engaged,” She winked.
Patrick froze and then smiled. “Right. I can do that.”
Clarice looked up at him, eyes widening in shock. “What?”
“Wait until we’re engaged,” Patrick replied matter of factly. Then he reached into his robes and pulled out a small cloth bag and upended it, showing a silvery ring carved with runes and set with a large purple stone. He took Clarice’s hand carefully, and gently pushed the ring on her finger.
Clarice looked down at the ring. Then up at Patrick. Then down back at the ring.
“Clare?” Patrick asked anxiously. “Are you okay?”
Clarice gulped. “You want to marry me? Even now? Even before…?”
Patrick sighed, took her face in his hands and kissed her lips, three times. “Yes. Yes. And yes.”
Clarice looked at him, still and stunned.
Patrick started to fidget. “Clare? Clarice?”
“You want to marry me?” Clarice asked in a much brighter tone.
“Yes,” Patrick affirmed.
Clarice squealed and jumped up, throwing her arms around his neck. Patrick quickly put his arms around her to take the weight, slight though it was of his neck and spun her round. Clarice giggled. “I feel giddy as a schoolgirl.”
Patrick grinned and moved his hands down under her rear, pulling her closer. Clarice stiffened for a second before slinging her legs around him and kissing his nose.
Just then the door opened. “Clarice? Are you alri- MADISON! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH MY SISTER?”
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Defence against Dark Arts Classroom, December 29th 1995
Simon was scowling at the silver amulet on the table. Madam Bones had left as her niece was home alone. “What do you think, Jon?”
Jon poked the amulet, it slid closer to Moody, and shrugged. “Not my area of expertise, old boy. You'd need Evelyn for this. I'm just good at hitting people.”
Moody snorted. “I think I like you. I know it has an effect. I just don't think it’s the effect that the Ministry thinks, hopes and declares that it is.”
Simon looked at the grizzled Auror. “What do you think it does then?”
Moody poked the amulet and it slid back to Jon, who poked it back, reacting without looking and seemingly instinctively. Moody raised an eyebrow. “Hmph. Well, you've faced vampires?”
“Yes, I have,” Simon replied. Then his face grew thoughtful, “Like crosses you mean? They don't like it and they hurt and burn, it will make a fledgling back away but with proper training or willpower they can ignore them?”
Moody chuckled and pushed the amulet back at Jon, the old man pushed it back fast and hard, grinning. “Yes, exactly like that. You know, it's nice talking to someone who understands about the Dark Arts and hasn't fallen to them.” He glanced at Simon, his eye hooded.
Simon gave him a sharp glance. Then shrugged. “If there is something you want to tell me, Auror Moody?”
Moody hesitated. “I noticed your children call Snape 'Uncle Severus'. And that they seem quite... close to him. I think that it is a mistake to get too close to Snape”
“Ah. I assume then that Severus has done something to deserve your distrust?”
Moody nodded. “He's a Death Eater. A follower of Voldemort, or Riddle to give him his proper name.”
Simon nodded slowly, absorbing the information. “If I recall the so-called Dark Lord fell about thirteen years ago. So Severus would have been a teen when he joined them?”
Moody nodded. “Yes. BUT he was a Death Eater! He took the mark!”
Simon snorted. “Jon? Another one for you?”
Jon nodded. “I'll look into it. I'll need to study the mark he took though. Can't be much worse than the average demon mark.”
“Are you insane? That man could corrupt your children!” Moody insisted.
Jon snorted. “Right. Considering the way he kept forcing ice-cream on the poor mites, he might have a point. And he's been telling Dawn that all Gryffindors are idiots.”
Moody's mouth quirked. “Well, he has a point with that. Idiots never stop to check for danger but rush in headlong.”
Jon chuckled. “Well, if he tries to corrupt them Cecilia, Penelope and Danielle will rip his soul out and Joyce will tear his balls off and Buffy would just bludgeon him to death.”
Moody blinked. “Ah. Well, that sounds about right, yes. Bludgeon to death... Is this Buffy small and did she rescue a young girl called Luna Lovegood?“
Simon and Jon hastily looked at the door. “Yes. And if you value those false appendages, don't call her small, or tiny, or any synonym of that term,” Simon told him.
Moody nodded, accepting the caution. “Never does to annoy a Slayer.”
Simon gave the old Auror a look. “You know what she is then?”
Moody flashed him a grin. “It was obvious,” then he sobered. “I met two Slayers when I was younger. One in Germany during Grindelwald's war and one in Korea, the Mudang War in the fifties.”
Jon looked up, his eyes widening in realization. “Albert Moder.”
Moody blinked. “Merlin’s hairy arse. ‘Teeth and nails’ Carnahan?”
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Severus Snape was looking ready to spit nails. He had walked in on his sister getting manhandled by Madison twice now and it unaccountably irked him. He ought to have been able to shake it off as if he had caught some students in flagrante delicto, but the sight of Madison’s big hands on his sister’s petite form set his teeth on edge.
Simon seemed torn between amusement and similar rage. Clarice was giggling like a schoolgirl and showing off the purple sapphire set in the platinum ring that Patrick had given her. Arlene, Joyce and the older girls were cooing over it.
James was looking at Patrick. Then he gestured and the larger, younger man approached, rather hesitantly. “Sir?”
James smiled. “If you hurt her, I’ll tell her mother.”
Patrick shivered. “Okay, could you just threaten to bayonet me, sir? I’d feel a lot better.”
James’ smile widened. “Oh no. If we get to that level I’ll ask Jon. He owes me. He can get very… creative.”
Patrick looked at where the old Colonel was talking quite animatedly with Dumbledore and Moody. “Errr…”
“Getting cold feet already?” Cecilia asked as she walked up behind him.
Patrick shook his head. “No, Ma’am. Just thinking that I hope this protectiveness extends to Amy.”
Cecilia’s face softened. “Yes. To you as well. As long as you’re good for Clarice,” Cecilia looked over to where Clarice dragged Amy into a hug. “And I think you both will be.”
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The four girls wandered around the edges of the grounds, throwing snowballs on occasion, chattering like magpies. Molly Weasley had cast warming charms on all four of them and the girls were testing them to the limits. As they walked and talked they did not notice that some of the cold was not natural, that grey robed shapes were following them, just out of sight, across the Hogwarts wards.
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Willow looked up at the ceiling of the Hall, trying to get as much of it in to the camera’s view point as she could. It was a magnificent scene, even if Dad said it was a waste of magic, that it should be saved for an emergency. *Sometimes Dad has no poetry in his soul. Sometimes you have to do something merely because it is grand and glorious.*
Willow decided. “Are you getting all this?” Willow whispered.
“Uhuh! It’s awesome!” Rowan whispered back into Willow’s earphone.
“I’ll turn around and give you the full view,” Willow replied, turning even as she spoke, slowly and carefully so as to capture the whole of the great space and the incredible ceiling. When the camera was turned towards the end, and she had the High Mezzanine fully in view, the beads around the camera and microphone burst into flames and the devices themselves melted onto Willow’s shoulder, causing her to cry out in pain.
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Willow was crying as she held the melted remnants of the camera and Madam Pomfrey removed the earphone from her singed and painful ear canal.
Joyce was holding her and murmuring comforting words. “Don’t worry honey, Xander is walking outside the wards right now to call Rowan on satellite phone. I’m sure she was at home and not in your camera.”
Willow nodded, her eyes still on the destroyed technology. “Dad said I had to pay for them if I destroyed them…”
Joyce snorted. “Willow, the only reason your father isn’t in here is because Madam Pomfrey kicked him out for excessive worrying and hovering. And now he’s probably hunting for Xander to hear if everything is alright with Rowan. And that warning was for the not unimaginable case that you decided to break them open to see how they worked and might be improved,” Joyce remarked dryly.
Willow blushed. “I told him I was sorry about his mobile…”
“And he accepted your apologies. And he never used it anyway. But the point remains you are not to take apart any of your electronics without permission,” Joyce gave Willow a gentle hug, careful to avoid touching any wounded areas. “This is not your fault. He was right there at the table when you and your uncle Patrick and Aunt Penny crafted those beads. So don’t worry.”
Willow nodded, still uncertain. She was oblivious to the soft murmurs as Madam Pomfrey gently rubbed a salve on the burn on her shoulder and turned her head obediently when told to so a few drops of ointment were put into her ear.
A sip of pain relieving potion and then the School Nurse smiled. “Now that wasn’t so bad was it?”
Joyce smiled at the wan looking Willow. “She’ll be better once she knows her sister is alright. And she really won’t have to pay for that camera.”
Madam Pomfrey looked bemused. “Is that like a Camera Obscura?”
Willow smiled in spite of herself. “The Camera Obscure led to camera’s yes.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded sagely. “Well, you’ll have to tell me about that dear. And about your sister too. Why isn’t she here?”
Willow glanced at Joyce who pursed her lips and then spoke. “Rowan is a bit ill and we thought it best not to bring her. The explosion might have frightened or hurt her.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded. “Ah, I see. Well, we’ll know soon enough.”
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Xander smiled as the babble sounded in his ear. He looked up and nodded at the man waiting. “I gotta go, Rowan, I’m gonna check on Will. Yeah, I’ll tell her you’re fine and not to worry. Yes I’ll tell her it wasn’t her fault. Okay. Take care. See you tonight.”
Xander closed the phone and looked at Simon. “Rowan is fine. I suggest we go tell Will that now.”
Simon closed his eyes and let out a breath. “Willow would have been devastated if Rowan had been hurt.”
Xander snorted. “Row told me to assure you she very much internalized the message not to move into anything electronic that was in anyway connected with the Wizarding world. She does want a mainframe in the UK, she says the time lag is up to, ‘like, 0.3 seconds!’”
Simon smiled at the obvious quote. “She’ll need to live with it. Let’s go.”
Xander nodded and together they strode towards the castle.
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They could taste them, the children beyond the wall. Taste the strength in them, great and powerful and ancient. The hunger was more powerful than the wards and the beings called Dementors surged through the lines of power that tried to hold them back and at the four girls playing and laughing within them.
Luna was the first to see them, to feel them, to realise they were there. “Oh, Niviene…” she whispered. “RUN! EVERYBODY! RUN!!”
The panic in her voice startled Dawn and Kit and Ginny, whirling, around, saw the gaunt, floating figures and screamed before she ran. In their fear the girls split up, Kit and Luna running towards the forest and Ginny and Dawn towards the distant school.
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Arlene’s knees buckled and she screamed as she feel to the ground, her hands pressed to her temples. “The girls!”
All eyes turned towards her. “What girls?” Joyce and Molly asked simultaneously, their eyes flickering over around the hall, noting the absence of their youngest children. Dumbledore and Moody had been talking with Jon and all three men hurried over to the fallen woman, as did Buffy. Evy knelt by her mother, grasped one of her hands and anxiously held it.
“Mom? What do you see?” Evy asked in a quavering voice.
“Grey floating things in black robes, the girls falling… Kit, Dawn, Ginny, Luna, screaming…” Arlene’s eyes were wide and staring and her voice hushed and hoarse.
“Kit…” Evy whispered. She patted her mother’s hand and stepped back as others hurried in and towards the door. She closed her eyes and shimmered from sight. Then she went over to where Jon was sitting in his wheelchair, grabbed the golden rod from his pocket and ran towards the door hoping it would be a while before anyone realized what she was doing or even that she was gone.
Buffy was running, accelerating to a speed no human should be able to reach, let alone maintain. *Sword, sword! I need a weapon! A stake won’t do! I should have taken one of those weapons from the castle, dammit!*
Suddenly there was a humming noise then it was there, falling from the air in front of here. She instinctively grasped it and gasped as a shock ran through her fingers. It was a sword, heavier than she was used to, the blade burning with white light like one of the swords Willow kept talking about Glam Thing and/Or Pissed. She smirked and made a mental note to tease Willow a bit more and hide her own tattered and well-loved copy of The Hobbit
. As long as she kept the teasing out of earshot of Mom, she could get away with it.
Dragging her attention back to the situation at hand, Buffy noted she had never held a weapon that fit her hand better. Ahead of her she saw Ginny and Dawn, staggering towards her as the black-robed things dove towards them and hovered around them.
Buffy growled as Dawn went down. Two of the black robed things stooped towards her and Buffy’s growl became a scream of primal anger. The sword flared brighter, the edging of flames flashing to cover the entire blade. A final burst of speed and Buffy was next to the girls, Ginny was crying and trying to lift Dawn who was cowering and weeping.
The Dementors seemed to ignore the fact she was armed, as if they did not fear bladed weapons, or possibly any weapons at all. Buffy felt the cold penetrating her, felt the heavy weight upon her mind as the Dementors tried to drag her memories out of her. The blade slashed and struck the nearest Dementor, slicing through it as if it wasn’t there.
Then, very, very slowly the two halves of the Dementor separated and started to unravel. A horrible keening noise came from the top half and the twists and turns of the creature threw back its hood, revealing its drained and terrifying face, the hollow black eyes and the sharp, snaggly teeth. White, crackling light ran up its body and neck, over its face, rippled over its eyes and with a final, horrifying and unearthly scream the Dementor fell apart into motes of grey and black ash.
Buffy hadn’t waited for the resolution of her strike, two more Dementors had been sliced with the blade but she could feel others approaching, more than she knew she could handle.
A sudden golden light flowed around her and then Evy stood beside her, a long, white hafted, golden tipped spear from which the light emanated in her hand. With a fierce expression on her face she stabbed the nearest Dementor. With a scream the thing clasped at the haft, only for its hands to start burning and then its entire grey and black twisted shape burst into flames until it fell apart into motes and ash like Buffy’s opponents had.
Buffy looked at her shy, withdrawn and frightened cousin, surrounded by the glow and at her determined face and grinned. She stepped to stand over Dawn and Evy stood over Ginny. The Daughter of Osiris and the Chosen One prepared to finish their battle.
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The icy cold tore at their minds and they saw things, felt things they did not want to remember. So they ran, and ran and ran. Two young girls who had lost too much, too young and were now on the edge, near their breaking point. Kit and Luna ran, in a blind panic ahead of the floating Dementors.
Almost too panicked to notice the man in the sky blue robes who beckoned them towards him. The girls ran past him and the man then turned towards the Dementors and pointed his wand. “Expecto Patronum!”
A silver ostrich jumped out of the wand, spread its vestigial wings and tore at the Dementors, scattering them. The man nodded in satisfaction and turned around.
Luna stumbled back, gripping her wand as she recognized him. “P-professor Lockhart?”
Lockhart smiled and cast two quick full Body Bind spells at the girls, catching them both. He moved closer and flipped some of Luna’s long hair out of her face with his wand. “Yes, Miss Lovegood, it is I, Gilderoy Lockhart. I have saved you. And the price you will pay is providing me with some more of the wonderful memories that allowed me to cast such a powerful Patronus.” End note: I will do my best to update soon so as not to leave you with this cliffhanger for an extended period of time.