Investigations take time.
A thorough search of the demonology library turned up blank. Likewise questions to covens and independent demon hunters the council was in contact with. A magical examination of the ichor on Vi's stake and knife suggested that it was compressed emotion. Perhaps the creature did not merely attack with despair but literally ate happiness. There were human mages who could do that, but no one had ever heard of a demon. The cloak was ordinary cloth. A physical examination of the fight scene revealed that despair-demons do not leave footprints. A magical examination confirmed Vi's account, but added nothing new. Neither physical nor magical search of the graveyard's surroundings found anything. None of this was useful.
After many false leads, a council mage performed a contagion-scrying on the cloak and discovered that a few threads from the same garment were on the side of Wisteria Walk, a street several blocks away from the graveyard. Physical examination of that site found nothing. Magical examination found confusing traces. Some sort of magic had been worked there, but they couldn't recognize it. A magical search of the surroundings found powerful wards surrounding a nearby house, which otherwise looked quite ordinary.
And so it was, six days after the fight, that number 4 Privet Drive came to the interest of the Slayers' and Watchers' Council.* * *
"So how do we do this?" Molly asked, "I mean, if we knock on the door and talk about demons but they're not clued, they'll think we're crazy." Molly was a student of Althenea's and was particularly gifted in divinitive magics. This was her first time working closely with the council, though, and she was nervous about it.
"If they're not clued, they won't be much use to us," Vi reasoned, "so it doesn't matter if they think we're crazy. Just try to act like there's nothing weird about discussing demons and hopefully they'll match the attitude. People do that."
"OK, you're the expert. You take the lead, I'll just hang back and speak up if I'm needed."
So Vi knocked on the door. A few moments later it was opened by a beefy man with no neck and a large mustache.
"Yes? What do you want?"
"We'd like to talk to you about the demon attack six nights ago."
"DEM-" he started to shout, then cut himself off, and continued in a whisper that was no less angry, "Demon attack? What makes you think I would know anything about a demon? Who are you anyway?"
"I'm Violet and this is Molly; we're with the Slayers' and Watchers' Council. It's our job to protect people from things like this -"
"Not doing a very good job are you?" he interrupted.
"World's still here, so we can't be doing too badly" Vi said, with a touch of harshness in her voice. Then returned to a friendly tone, "Which doesn't mean we wouldn't like to do better. I'm the one that killed that thing, but it was awfully close. And we haven't been able to figure out much about them. But if there are more of them, we want to track them back to their nest and wipe them out before they hurt anyone else."
"Hmph. Wiping them out. Good plan. But what does this have to do with me?"
"Someone fought it off over there," Vi said, pointing back and Wisteria Walk, "before it got to me. Yours is the only magically protected house in the -"
"Protected! Like this is -"
"Look, was it you that fought the thing or not?"
"It was my son, Dudley. Quite the fighter he is."
"Is he here? Can we talk to him?"
"He's out. With the Polkiss's, I think."
"OK, we'll go find him then. Thank you."
"Hmph."* * *
Once out of earshot, Vi and Molly compared notes.
"He seemed really angry," Molly said, "Is that usual?"
"Not really. But if his son got hit as hard as I did, that's something to be angry about."
"It didn't feel like a recent thing. More like being angry at the supernatural world is a habit."
"Hmm. Maybe Dudley's been hunting demons for a while? And getting hurt regularly?"
"And dad doesn't really get what it's about? Just wishes his son would stop and be safe?"
"Could be. Parents tend to hate being unable to protect their children. And hate anything relating to that. I've seen that in new slayer families. And that guy didn't seem very clued. Anyway, we'll know more when we talk to Dudley. You can find him, right?"
"So long as 'Dudley' isn't a common name around here, it'll be easy." Molly concentrated for a moment and a bright spark appeared in front of her, then wafted away. "Easy. Let's go."* * *
The spark showed them the straight direction to Dudley, not the path along sidewalks and avoiding fences. Like many suburbs, Little Whinging was a twisting maze of cul-de-sac streets, all alike. Finding a non-tresspassing route took time. By the time they found Dudley, it was almost dinner time and he was alone, apparently heading home.
"Dudley?" Vi called out.
"Yeah? Do I know you?"
"No. I'm Vi and this is Molly. We're with ISWC and we wanted to ask you about the demon you fought six nights ago."
"Demon? Is that what that thing was?"
"Well, it was really tough and it seems to eat people, so for lack of a better term." She shrugged
"And you thought I knew more about it?"
"We talked to your parents already, and they said you beat it. Figured at least we could ask you how."
"Yeah. That's right. It thought it was so big with its mind... stuff. Wasn't ready for my fists."
"It seemed ready enough for mine. Does it have a weak spot or something?"
"Nah. Just got to put real force into it."
"I have to see this."
"Let's go. You and me. That'll give me a real sense for what you can do. Don't worry about hurting me. I heal really fast."
"Okay, I guess," Dudley said, and threw a half-hearted jab at her jaw.
Vi brushed it aside effortlessly. "Take this seriously, please. I'm not fragile."
"Fine." His next jab was better. Good form and seemingly solid intent. Still slow, by slayer standards.
She brushed it aside with contempt. "You can do better than that."
Dudley didn't answer, but instead sent a five punch combination. Clearly a practiced move.
Vi's arms blurred, but the rest of her body just stood there. "Stop trying to hit me and hit me."
Dudley attacked harder. His form got sloppy as his anger overrode his training. But his power and speed didn't increase. It just wasn't there.
Vi decided she'd seen enough. His next punch she caught. Straight on, right knuckles to left palm dead stop. An ordinary human would have broken bones in her palm. Vi didn't flinch.
"Ok, enough," Vi said, "It's clear you didn't beat that thing by fighting like this. What really happened?"
Dudley stared in shock. Then wilted. "It was Harry" he muttered at his feet.
"My cousin. He lives with us because his parents are dead. Has since we were a year old. He's a - a wizard." The last word was a faint whisper.
"And he fought it?"
"Must've been him. I don't remember it that well. Just kept hearing..."
"How'd he do it?"
"I don't know. I don't know any of that stuff."
"Can we talk to him?"
"He disappeared the day before yesterday. The three of us got this invitation to a lawn award ceremony -- so dumb, but mum and dad were excited -- anyway, it was a scam, and when he got home Harry was gone, along with all his stuff. He left a note. Said he was safe and would be back next summer."
"Any idea where he went?"
"No. Probably with some of his - his people." The last word was almost a slur. Vi chose to ignore it.
"That'll be hard to track. And next summer is a long time to wait for information. Did he tell you anything?"
"I asked him a couple days after it happened. He said they were called 'dementors' or something. They eat happiness and souls. They guard a prison called 'Azkaban'. It's on an island somewhere in the North Sea. W- Wizards send their criminals there, and sometimes they send just anybody 'cause of politics. I didn't really follow that part, but Harry was really mad about it."
"They send innocent people to be preyed on by soul-eating monsters because of politics?"
"Yeah, I think so. If I understood right. Wizards aren't nice people. Harry's all right, I guess, most of the time. But the rest. The first time I met an adult wizard, he stuck me with a pig's tail. 'Cause of what dad
said to him. I needed surgery. The second time I wound up with my tongue swollen until it dragged on the floor. I guess this makes time three. And I know Harry has nightmares about what they do to him during the year. He talks in his sleep, about them killing him and his friends."
"I think it's high time someone found these wizards and taught them to play nice with the rest of the world."
"I wish. They're hidden so normal people can't even see them. And they have their own government. And even if you found them, they fight with - with magic
. Who can teach them a lesson?"
"We can," Vi said, her face hardening into a predator's smile, "We will."
Molly had a similar smile. And soon Dudley was smiling too. Then they got to details.