Neville Longbottom and his relatives
Disclaimer: see previous chapters.
Note: contains spoilers for the official series.
Time passed, maybe a week or two, and Aoife had to take Harry on the official Unseelie court business. This particular business involved a hundar – an Underfae that appeared like a heavy-bodied, vast worm with bat-like wings and a horse-like head, the inspiration behind human legends about the wyvern... though unlike the human version the hundar is also amphibious and prfers swimming to flying.
In any case, Aoife was told by Alexandra (though the same copper-skinned intermediary) to come over to the hundar’s lair and to deliver a number of messages – all official court business, no double-cross intended. (Of course, when it comes to dealing with the Underfae, anything went: they were quite unpredictable even by the Fae standards.)
And so, Aoife found herself approaching a lake in the British countryside where the hundar in question dwelt (they were not a very numerous Fae race but there was more than one still)... and a human man was doing his best to drown a young boy, apparently.
“Come on, lad, put all of your power into it!” the man was yelling. “Release your magic.”
“These days, apparently, I cannot look or spit anywhere without landing a witch or a wizard,” Aoife thought disgustingly, before noticing a darker shape in the dark lake water – the hundar.
“He’ll eat the boy first, allowing the original wizard to Apparate and then return ASAP with those Aurors of theirs,” Aoife muttered to herself. “We’ll have to kill them then, and Alexandra will never let me hear the end of this. Not to mention, if we mess up and one of them gets away, I will have to run from them too. Double drat.”
Still, with this resolution in mind, Aoife quietly made her way to the wizard and said, in her normal tone of voice:
“Glad to see that the pureblood families are sticking to the old-fashioned ways of keeping their families strong – by drowning the weak.”
This produced the result Aoife was interesting in – mostly. The wizard was startled, pulled his boy out of the water and glared at the succubus.
“This has nothing to do with old-fashioned ways!” he snapped, ignoring for the moment the fact that Aoife was not dressed like a witch should be dressed. “This is me helping my nephew unlock his magic!”
“Didn’t appear to be working all this well from my point of view,” Aoife said wryly. “Maybe you should try a different approach – or even ask for professional help. From headmaster Dumbledore, for example.”
“Pah!” the man spat: clearly he knew Dumbledore but was no friend of his either. “Albus Dumbledore used to be a fine man once, but as a headmaster he’s rubbish – just ask Augusta.”
“Augusta,” Aoife rifled through her memory: did she hear ever such a name. “You mean Augusta Longbottom?”
“Yes,” the man said slightly stiffly as he was beginning to recover his bearings. “My sister-in-law. This boy is her only grandson, Neville, and so far all signs indicate that he is a squib.”
Surprisingly to Aoife, that struck a nerve. “My husband was a wizard, my daughter’s a squib herself,” she told the wizard flatly, “and believe me, ill-treating the youngster just because he might be one, is a bad idea.”
“Hmph!” the wizard did not sound particularly impressed by Aoife’s revelation, but Aoife did not care, because the hundar made his appearance. Fortunately, this particular Underfae had at least some intelligence and opted to transform himself in a person: a rather thin person with an almost skull-like face and scraggly, opaque black hair. He was also looking at the wizard with a rather hostile impression – or perhaps at Aoife.
“Ah, there you are,” Aoife told the hundar, startling the wizard again. “If you excuse me, Mr. Longbottom or whatever your name is, my date is here.” She indicated the hundar-humanoid.
“Hmph!” the wizard repeated again, though with a different intonation this time. “You could do better, as far as men go.”
“Perhaps,” Aoife shrugged – this was something that she was familiar with, after all. “But this is official business, so if you don’t mind...” With these words, she walked away from the wizard and his young companion, who Apparated out of there anyways: apparently for all of Neville’s uncle’s confidence towards the magical unlocking, he was not that confident to continue in fact of witnesses, especially possibly magical witnesses.
“Good riddance to bad rubbish,” Aoife muttered and forgot all about the encounter.
* * *
Algernon Longbottom was not a stupid man – set in his ways and somewhat bigoted, maybe, but not stupid. However, he was not easily unsettled either, not usually, and today’s encounter had done that.
Things were changing in the British wizard society these days – or not. Bellatrix LeStrange seemed to have vanished, before the Aurors could arrest her and her in-laws for what they have done; and Rudolphus LeStrange, angry at his wife’s successful denial of him took it out on the Aurors, burning almost a dozen of them before he and his brother were taken down.
The Ministry officials, though ignoring the semi-fiasco the LeStrange (and also Crouch Jr’s) arrest was turning out to be, appeared to be focusing their attention on Dumbledore – good riddance to both sides of that conflict too, Algernon Longbottom reckoned.
So: a fiasco (well, a partial fiasco) for the Aurors, and the other officials more concerned about Dumbledore’s popularity rather than the remaining Death Eaters. Typical Ministry policy; perhaps things had not changed among the British wizards and witches after all.
That woman, though, Algernon could not help but wonder – there was something off about her. She knew things about magic and magical society, but was dressed like a muggle.
Well, maybe she herself was a muggle, or a muggle-born witch. That would easily explain her clothing preferences, and her companion was dressed like a proper wizard, though shabbily. And – she knew Dumbledore. This implied that her companion knew the headmaster too, and this all added – in Algernon’s opinion – that he wound up on the periphery of one of Dumbledore’s plans, and he honestly didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed to be dismissed from it so casually: just whom did those agents of the headmaster think he was? A person of no significance, maybe?
“Mr. Longbottom?” a head of an Auror appeared in Algernon’s fireplace. “Can we speak to Mrs. Augusta Longbottom, please? While searching the LeStrange castle we found some information about the situation of Frank and Alice-“
“I’ll send for Augusta immediately,” Algernon interrupted his interlocutor, for all things concerning Frank and Alice were important and to Augusta – especially so. “More bad news, though?”
“No, not this time.”
Suddenly the headmaster and his feud with the Ministry no longer appeared to be particularly important to Algernon Longbottom.TBC