Knowing Good and Evil
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1.
They watched out the window of the front parlor and talked. Ginny could see four vampires lurking in the darkness of the square, and she was forcing herself to leave them alone.
She really wanted to apparate a couple streets behind them, sneak up on them, find their backup and stake them first, then come up behind them and beat them to a pulp before staking them in turn. She didn’t know why she had this need
to pound vampires into the dirt before staking them, but she did. Maybe the centaurs were right, and she really was some sort of feral monster. Maybe her dream was right, and there really was a primitive spirit inside her now.
Just as long as she didn’t start walking like an ape and grunting. Or talking like that little Valley Girl. Monster sensy gut? Healiness? What kind of talk was that?
Hermione interrupted her thoughts when she said, “So it really is a house of ill repute?”
Harry said, “With fangs. But everyone we saw leave was... really happy. I suppose if a vampire has ten clients a night, she wouldn’t need much blood from any one of them.”
Ron shuddered. “Too much information, mate. I am so glad I didn’t go.”
Hermione smiled proudly, “Ron got a lot of studying done while you were gone.”
Ginny said, “And they really don’t like this master vampire Marius causing trouble for them.”
Hermione said, “I’ll check the tax rolls tomorrow.”
Harry said, “So we have the lone threats taken care of, and we’re going to keep an eye on Marius and his army, and we’re going to leave the suckhouse alone. For now.”
Ginny said, “Right.”
Hermione said, “Good. Because we have a lot of studying to do tonight, and those vampires out there aren’t going anywhere.”
Three teenagers groaned. Ginny was sure Ron was louder than she was.
But doing homework next to Harry was different. They would look up at the same time and give each other little smiles. And they would bump arms and just sort of not stop touching. And Harry would let his knee drift over and bump her knee, which was a lot better than it sounded. She was thinking about slipping off one shoe and sort of rubbing her foot on his ankle when Hermione cleared her throat and pointed at the reading Ginny really wasn’t doing.
Harry gave her a little smile, and they went back to work. She stayed up and did some more practice on apparating and silent wandwork after Harry went to bed. She really felt that she needed a tonne of practice on both. It wasn’t until she was getting ready for bed that it occurred to her she was probably far ahead of the other sixth years. It was just too bad that she was probably not going to live long enough to attend Hogwarts again.
The next day was more of the same. They took turns staking out the Ministry in the morning and evening, and one of them searched the Diagon Alley restaurants during lunchtime. Hermione went off to do some Muggle-style investigating, while Ginny apparated over to the riverside.
Since the Disguising Charm still wasn’t working on her, she was resorting to Muggle disguise tricks. She was wearing a dark blonde wig, a really ugly pair of glasses, and a baggy windbreaker. Anyone who knew her really well and saw her face would probably recognize her, but otherwise she was probably safe. Still, the glasses were annoying and the wig was wretched. It was hot and uncomfortable, and it itched.
It took her almost an hour to track down the vampire nest using Hermione’s map and an occasional locator spell. It would have been a lot faster if she could have used a broomstick or apparated about, but the area was clogged with Muggles working and sightseeing and going from place to place.
The place was another warehouse. Something inside her was telling her ‘it’s always the abandoned warehouses’ for some reason. Maybe it was her experience with that first vampire nest. Or maybe not. Maybe it was something from one of her dreams.
The warehouse looked like every other warehouse. This one even had two big lorries parked outside in front of closed loading doors, and several guys in security uniforms patrolling around the building. Her gut told her that only about half of them of them were ‘guys’. They were walking around in the daylight, so some of them were human and the rest were whatever types of demons could pass as human in daylight. Great, demons and humans watching the building during the daytime, and probably more of them inside too. She was really looking forward to punching this Marius right in the face. Over and over.
She walked on, trying to look like she was lost. She had to make a couple turns to get completely out of sight of the warehouse and out of sight of any passersby. Then she apparated to the roof of a neighboring warehouse and took a better look.
The windows looked normal. At first. When she took the time to study them, she realized they were painted over on the inside. Someone did a good job. You had to really look hard to notice they weren’t plain windows looking into a dark interior. Whoever did the paint job had even painted white venetian blinds on most of the windows.
She checked the whole warehouse. The loading docks on the street side, the solid brick wall on the south side, and the two doors on the far side that led to a gravel parking area. There were a dozen cars and vans parked there. She wondered how many of them were stolen, and how many belonged to people who were now vampires.
One of them was the car that had been parked all day yesterday in Grimmauld Place. That told her this was definitely the right place. The vampires and demons staking out Harry’s house were coming from here, and if they figured out how to get inside the house, they would overrun it in a tidal wave of menace. And the demons probably didn’t need a person’s invitation to get inside. If the Fidelius Charm broke completely, the demons would be a problem as soon as they could get to the front windows.
She apparated back to the top step of the house and slipped inside. The demons in the panel truck out in the square made her want to rush over and rip the doors off and chop them into pieces. But she went inside and closed the front door instead.
They went to the front parlor to chat. There was no good news, though. She told them what she had found out about the warehouse. She heard that there was no new information about Umbridge and the Ministry. And Hermione had her own report.
Hermione said, “I went over and checked the tax rolls. A Hepzibah Mason has owned those buildings for at least sixty years. That ‘boss lady’ you talked to might be a really old master vampire in her own right.”
Harry said, “So she could be a lot more of a threat than she showed us.”
Ginny grimaced. Why did vampire slaying have to get so complicated?
Hermione went on, “Then I used some Polyjuice Potion and I went over to the Wizarding museum I told you about. The Ravenclaw antique they have there is genuine, as far as I can tell, but it’s not a Horcrux.”
Ron complained, “Great, so what did Riddle grab and use for a Horcrux?”
Hermione said, “I’ll see about sending Susan Bones an owl and maybe she can get us a look at the Ravenclaw antique they’re supposed to have at Bones Manor.”
Ron asked, “And just how are you going to do that? We don’t have an owl we can use.”
Ginny saw Harry wince slightly, but she didn’t say anything. Ron was without his owl for as long as they were on their mission, and she was sure Ron hadn’t said it to make Harry feel bad. It was just Ron didn’t usually think things through before he spoke.
Hermione said, “I’ll do it at lunch. A little Polyjuice Potion, and I can check on Umbridge, then hire a rental owl from that place over by Flourish and Blotts.”
Harry asked, “And how are you going to get a return message?”
Hermione said, “I think I’ll just ask Susan to write to a pseudonym to be left at the owl post office, and I’ll check it every few days, every time it’s my turn to do the lunch stakeout.”
The afternoon lessons went really well. Sixth year Transfiguration lessons were hard, but the combination of Hermione and Harry and Ron was exactly what Ginny needed. Hermione understood the theory so well she could be writing the textbooks. Harry was so good with the nonverbal spells and the wandwork. And Ron knew the ‘Transfigurations for Dummies’ part that she always needed after hearing Hermione’s really complicated lecture. Once Ginny got enough help from Ron, Hermione went over her lecture again, and the second time it made a little more sense.
Then Ginny got to work along with Ron and Harry while Hermione taught them some seventh year lessons. That wasn’t so easy. She really needed Harry and Ron to be able to help her, or else she was struggling. She didn’t feel quite so bad about it when she saw Ron was struggling too, and Harry was having a hard time.
At least Harry’s Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson was easier, even if Ginny was still struggling with the silent wandwork. Even Ron was doing better than her, and Hermione was making it look dead easy. Then Ron’s lecture on demons that the vampires might have around didn’t require any wandwork at all. And Hermione let her use a Quick Quotes Quill so she didn’t have to take notes herself. Still, she wondered if Ron was deliberately picking out the most disgusting things he could find. Did Fyarl demons really have paralyzing snot? Eww.
Then Hermione took them down to the Potions room and they worked on Polyjuice Potion and the potion for Hermione’s Map Binding Spell. Hermione insisted she needed more of each, and so she turned it into a Potions lesson too.
While Ginny gave her talk on divination and Slayer dreams to Ron and Harry, Hermione used a Disguising Charm on herself and went off to the Muggle grocery to pick up some more provisions for Kreacher, who wanted to make bouillabaisse for them the next night.
But Ginny wasn’t even finished with her talk when Hermione was back, slamming open the front door and rushing upstairs to find them.
Hermione was so upset she forgot to undo her Disguising Charm. She was waving a Muggle newspaper and looking horrified. She pulled it open and showed the headline to them.
GRAVEROBBERS IN ALCESTER
Ginny winced. Ron said, “Bloody hell! Is that what I think it is?”
Hermione fumed, “It’s what we all know it is! Listen to this drivel! ‘Five of the six victims of the recent barbecue fork murder spree were dug up from their graves last night. Three different cemeteries were disturbed in what police described as a shocking breach of mores.’ Idiots! How can they not know it’s vampires!”
Ginny said, “So five more vampires rose last night?”
Hermione nodded. “And it’s getting worse.”
Ginny stood up. “I guess we know what we need to do tonight.”