The Ginsberg Effect
Neville was still exhausted. He hadn’t really slept for the two hours he laid down after cleaning up the shop. He made sure Lavender was comfortable on the couch and then tried to get some sleep, but he couldn’t make his brain shut off. So as early as he dared, he showered and dressed to apparate to the Council.
It was early still, with most of the slayers just getting up to go to classes and training sessions. Mac was probably still asleep, which worked well for him. He stopped at the front desk. Daisy was just starting to set things up for the day shift.
“Hi, Daisy. Do you know what Oz’s schedule is? I have something important I need to talk to him about.”
Daisy looked at her watch. “He’s probably in the kitchen with Xander.”
She usually knew where everyone was for some reason. She looked up.
“Or he could be right there.”
Oz looked at the visitor. “Oh hey, Neville. Mac’s probably still asleep. She patrolled with some youngins last night.”
Neville grinned. She would be physically and mentally exhausted, then. He still had her beat, but he was glad she was asleep still. He didn’t know how he would mention the whole ordeal to her. “I actually came to talk to you. Can we speak in private somewhere?”
Oz nodded his head in the direction of one of the smaller sitting rooms downstairs then walked that way.
“You hungry? There’s always lots. I could have one of the elves bring something.”
“Please. I didn’t have time for breakfast this morning. Just something light will be fine.”
Oz summoned a house elf and ordered breakfast for them. When Neville sat down, he had to blink a few times to keep his eyes open. The couch was too comfortable.
“A few hours ago, one of my old classmates assumed dead broke into my shop. The last anyone saw of her, she was being attacked by Fenrir Greyback. No one found her body, so we just assumed it was destroyed by the rubble. She was turned and in my shop looking for Rowan and Lyra because she said they were in danger.”
Oz took a deep breath. Then his brow furrowed. “Is that her I smell on you? She’s a wolf? I haven’t heard from Lyra or Rowan, but she did say they’d be back before Christmas.”
Oz was still frowning.
Neville nodded. “She smelled you, Rowan, and Pevensie in the shop, although she didn’t know what Pevensie was.” He rubbed his hand over his face. “He said that they, whoever they
are, are coming after Rowan because he’s a natural born wolf. And that they’re also trying to raise Greyback from the dead.”
Oz closed his eyes and leaned back against the sofa. “Idiots.”
It was quiet for a very long time.
“I know exactly who ‘they’ are and I think I need to talk to this friend of yours, but first we need to go get Rowan and Lyra and bring them here. Or have someone bring them here. I’m either going to do it or have Willow.”
Neville nodded. “Lavender, the classmate, is at my shop right now. She wants to meet you as well but I didn’t want to bring her anywhere until I was certain that her story was true. She said they already left Ireland, but I haven’t heard from either of them since before they left.”
“I haven’t either. You mind apparating us to Hogsmeade? We can see if they’re there and get Brody on the lookout.”
“Sure,” he replied. The house elves brought some toast and tea. Neville drained the tea and grabbed his toast to go. They walked out of the council building and Neville took Oz’s arm, apparating them to Hogsmeade, right on the edge of town. “I was hoping they were already with you, but if they’re not here, do you know where they might be?”
“Lyra has a small cottage here, but you know how Brody is about his people. He considers Lyra and Rowan his people. Let’s check in at Three Broomsticks first.”
They entered the pub, and it was quiet this early.
“No’ open yet, mates.” The Brody smiled when he saw who it was. “Neville and Oz. Good to see ya, brothers. This a social visit or did Oz hear Lyra was back?”
“So she’s here?” Oz asked.
“Aye, and scared out of her mind. Her and the wee pup got in late last eve. Someone broke into their cottage, so she came here. They’re upstairs in a room. What’s goin’ on?”
“Someone is looking for them. More specifically, Rowan,” Neville replied. “I had a late night visitor at my shop as well, but I don’t know if Lavender was the one who broke in here or not.”
“Lookin’ for the pup, ya say? Can ya go get her? Let’s get this sorted wit’ lots of witnesses.”
Neville nodded and stepped outside the Three Broomsticks, apparating to his shop. It was still closed but he hadn’t yet put the wards back up, so a simple unlocking charm on the door was all he needed to get inside.
“Lavender?” he yelled, heading to the back. Neville wasn’t sure if she could hear him from down in the shop or not. “Are you awake?”
She sided up to him quickly and silently, making Neville jump. Lavender pulled her messy blonde hair into a ponytail.
Neville clenched his teeth. Mac finally was out of the habit of sneaking up on him and now he had someone new doing it. “Some people want to talk to you. Can you apparate or do I need to take you with me?”
“Well, since I have no idea where we’re going...”
“Hogsmeade. Just near to the Three Broomsticks. Can you make it?”
“Yeah. I’ll see you there.”
She stepped out of the wards and disapparated.
Neville apparated back to Hogsmeade and immediately looked around for Lavender. He was located to the side of the Three Broomsticks and there were still shadows in the alleys. “Lavender?”
His back was to her. She tapped him on the shoulder with two fingers and startled him again. Hiding and sneaking were two of her best traits now.
“Damn it, Lavender!” he snapped. His heart was going to beat right out of its chest. “Are you incapable of making noise now?”
“It’s kept me safe. Where are we going?” She looked around. She hadn’t been in Hogsmeade since she was sixteen.
Neville gestured to the Three Broomsticks. “In here. Now there are a few people inside, including that male werewolf you smelled in the shop, so don’t be alarmed. They just want to talk.”
“What a pity,” she said to herself.
Oz tilted his head to the side when Neville walked in with a little blonde. She was compact but curvy, though not overly, but you could tell she ate like a real person.
“Dair?” Lyra said. “What are you doing here?”
“She came to warn us about things we already know, Mum,” Rowan said, smiling. “Hey, Neville.”
“Hey, Rowan.” He stood next to Lavender, not because he didn’t trust her, but because he didn’t want her to feel cornered. “I hear your trip to Ireland had some adventure.”
“Yeah, it was nice to run with my father’s pack again,” Rowan said. “I made some new friends, reconnected with some old ones.”
“Dair, why are you here?” Lyra asked. “Won’t Barris be upset?”
Lavender stiffened when Lyra said that name. “Barris and I aren’t together anymore, and I had to warn you what was going on. When that younger pack showed looking for Rowan saying that Fenrir Greyback was back from the dead... that’s bad.”
Oz was just listening.
“Did you break into their place this morning before you came to my shop?” Neville asked.
“No,” Lavender said.
He gave her this look.
“No,” she said more emphatically.
Lyra swallowed nervously.
“And... get your stuff because you are both staying at the Council,” Oz said.
“Beg to differ,” Brody said. “Lyra’s stayin’ wit’ me.”
Lyra turned bright red and Oz’s eyebrows went up.
“Brody,” Neville began, thinking very carefully about how he wanted to phrase what he needed to say. “There are more eyes at the Council and they’re prepared for a fight. Loads of fights and they can take on werewolves. I would hate for you, your family, or your patrons to be in danger of any sort.”
“We’re MacDougals. We dinna run from any fight.”
“All right there, Bitchy MacBagpipes,” Lavender said. “You need to take it down a whole notch. Neville’s just trying to present a reasonable argument. It’s not like he didn’t just tell you exactly where they’d be, and while I am not allowed to visit, perhaps you can.”
“Who said you couldn’t visit?” Oz asked.
“I did, but I said it right after she broke into my place and I just wanted to check out her story before I took her there.” Neville gave Lavender a look. “I didn’t say you would be banned from the place.”
“Not an unreasonable precaution,” Oz said. “But any friends of Lyra’s... plus, you might know some of my coworkers. We’ll let you visit.”
“Would it make you feel better if I stayed with them as a guard, Scotsman?” Lavender asked.
Brody looked her up and down. “We mite like yerself? No.”
Lavender growled at him.
“Better, but still no’ good enough.”
Neville rolled his eyes. “Lavender, the people at the Council are powerful. They can protect Rowan and Lyra just fine. Rowan works there in the Greenhouses and takes deliveries there for me.”
He didn’t want to come out and say who exactly was at the Council. He would let that happen when they were actually there.
Lavender poked him in the side. “Will you stop trying to cheat me out of a place to crash for a few days.”
Brody sighed. “What do you want to do, Lyra?”
“I don’t know.”
“I want to stay at the Council,” Rowan said.
“Of course you do,” Oz said.
Neville chuckled. “And it has nothing to do with the fact that your girlfriend lives there, does it?”
“Oh so do I finally get to meet the infamous Miss Pevensie that you have whined about for the last few months?” Lavender asked.
“I didn’t whine.”
Lyra looked torn.
“Lyra, why don’t you stay here with the Scot and Rowan can stay at the Council?” Lavender offered. “He is the one they want, after all.”
“I couldn’t just-”
“Mum,” Rowan said. “I’m not a baby. Oz will watch out for me.”
“You’re Oz?” Lavender said.
“Oh right sorry. Yeah. I’m Oz.”
“I’m... well... Lavender or Dair depending upon who you ask.”
“Of course,” Lyra said. “Dair from Labhandair
- it’s the Gaelic word for the the plant lavender.”
“Go ahead and get your things,” Neville told Rowan. “We can take you to the Council now.”
He turned to Brody. “I’ll tell Mac you said hi.”
“Wait... wait... wait...” Lavender said. “MacDougal? The crazy one we went to school with? You’re related to her? Oh this makes so much sense now.”
Oz started chuckling. “Neville’s the one sleeping with her.”
Lavender looked at Neville and flared her nostrils. “You let me sleep on your couch last night and your girlfriend is Morag I-like-to-punch-people MacDougal? Are you insane? There are easier ways to kill me, Longbottom.”
Brody just chuckled.
Oz was frowning. “Mac’s not gonna like you having female sleepover guests, Neville. I mean, I don’t know her as well as you guys, but she doesn’t strike me as the sharing type.”
He sighed loudly. “She needed a place to sleep and so I loaned her my couch while I cleaned up my shop. It’s not like I told her to crawl in between my sheets! She’s an old classmate who is trying to to help. She’s not my new roommate!”
“Damned right, I’m not,” Lavender said. “I like my arms and legs attached.”
Brody laughed loudly. “Be sure to tell m’sister she has a werewolf scared of her.”
“You’re her brother? Of course you are.”
“We’ll just explain it to her,” Oz said. “Mac, I mean.”
“Yeah, cos that’ll work,” Rowan added with heavy sarcasm. “You know, with no broken bones and no concussions.”
“An old classmate slept on my couch for one night. Not even a night. For a few hours. She’ll see reason,” Neville said firmly.
Rowan walked over and patted Neville’s shoulder as Brody started laughing again. “It’s important that you believe it.”
“If she can be in the same room and sit at the same table as Blaise Zabini and not kill him
, I think she’ll be fine with Lavender. Can we go now?” he asked.
“Mac can be in the same room with Zabini? This I have got to hear.”
Oz was grinning.