A/N: Hi guys. Sorry ´bout the late entery, but lately stuff going on around me was getting a bit crazy. I have also spent some time re-reading my last two chapters. I agree that in some points I may have... um... „over-sugared" it a bit too much and I´ll keep that in mind for later on. In other points, I agree that I may have made Harry forgive Alice and Neville a bit too fast, but don´t worry... its DEFINITELY not all over between them yet – afterall, one can repeat his mistakes so many times. Nevertheless the last two chapters were calmer and fluffier but its time things got moving and darker – WAY darker. Its quite possible, that in later chapters I may get a bit fluffy again, but I´m an old sap so bear with me, guys ;) Many of the characters from the book are to make an appearance sooner or later and a few wizarding institutions and places will be made and shown, with small adventures to be had there :) Plus the Repopulation Act´s following will grow as well as the relationships of our characters. Ginny, Luna and Susan will soon be finding out just how many secrets their snakes hold :) As well as show several of their talents. And, of course... Voldie and his gang are still around, so we are still in for interesting Dark-Light fights. I´m never exactly sure how much, since I´m practicly living the adventure along with the characters – as wierd as it sounds :D So wish me luck, guys and I hope you´ll keep enjoying the ride :)
Chapter 13: Restless night
"... and with that in mind, we feel that each and every one of you should have the power to adress the issue. Penalties for disobeing the Act shall differ on the level of disobedience."said Athena Kellen to general agreement of everyone in the room.
Many members of the Magical Law Enforcement department were present on the midnight meeting. Visibly absent was the Head of the department – Amelia Bones, but her seat was filled in by her deputy, Pius Thicknesse. Pius, Athena found was much more reasonable than his boss Bones. He eagerly adressed some of the points neccessary and was a very strong supporter of the Act – his daughter and son having most pleasurable matches – Pius will undoubtably be a godsend for the new regime, she was most right to recruit him.
"I welcome the oppoturnity this new law presents, Madam Kellen."said Pius with a small bow.
Athena turned to her daughter. Cassiopeia Kellen sent several papers flying across the room with a flick of her wand – the papers finding their way into the hands of every member of the department.
"These are the couples, which the Relationship Counsil deemed as potentionally problematic. Any hint of disobedience should be reported straight away and punished accordingly. They present a threat to the Repopulation Act and therefore must be treated as such. I hope and pray, that they see the absurdity of their actions and come around. If not, we must not hesitate to punish them – we need to set an example, lest the entire Act will fall apart."
There was a murmur of agreement sweeping around the room. Athena (true to her old House qualities) kept her face neutral – she now had almost everyone at the department of Magical Law Enforcement on her side.
"With that much said, the first meeting is over. We shall meet in this conference room every week – the time and date will be specified on the Ministry Bulettin Board. Until that time, each and every member is welcome to seek me out should he have any other questions. And of course any urgent matter regarding the enforcement of the Act should be reported AT ONCE."she said as most of the people in the room were getting to her feet.
Athena watched gleefully as the people exiting the large Ministry conference room – eager, even cheerfull chatter going on. However a few people in the crowd including Thicknesse remained seated. Cassiopeia shifted, shooting an anxtious look at her mother – knowing full-well WHY these members were staying.
"Mum... is this really such a good idea?"
Athena turned around with a cunning smile and took her daughter´s shoulders.
"Peia, this IS our time. The time for a change. And WE will see to it, that that change comes. And we have to stop anything that gets in the way of it."
Cassiopeia bit her lip as her mother went on.
"And as for Harry Potter, Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy..."
Athena´s look hardened.
"They will have to come around. We NEED them to come around OUR way of thinking... if not, we will have to deal with them."
Cassiopeia gasped in shock.
"Mum.. you´re not thinking of..."
"It will come to that, if it must."said Athena steelingly.
Cassiopeia was clearly terrified.
"Mum... the rumors going around them... I remember them from the Slytherin Common Room... these three are not to be messed with. You saw Harry Potter´s power in that room. Do you really think it wise to move against someone this powerfull... Many Slytherins in the House often speculated that he is EVEN stronger than he lets on. Draco Malfoy is rumored to be the most powerfull Malfoy for generations and Blaise Zabini... they say, that he is NOTHING like his ditzy mother..."
Athena almost laughed at the thought of Callidora Zabini, remembering her as a clumsy, wierd and giggling little girl in the High Society – something which apparently didn´t change one bit over the years.
"Nevertheless... as strong as those three are they would make incredible assets to our plan, the power and influence of their families would definitely ensure our victory. Not to mention, they are the perfect matches for you and your sisters – if only Croaker made the right adjustments to the Love Locator, the entire matter could´ve been solved much more easily. But Cornelius took the matter in a rush. No matter... now..."she finished and adressed the five men and one woman that remained in the room and came closer to the speaker´s platform.
"As you are no doubt aware, the Repopulation Act was made to bring a new regime into our Ministry – one that will once more be informed by our most noble ones. I have deemed the six of you worthy enough to join us. I am sure that you will find your future help most appretiated and even more generously rewarded."
Pius Thicknesse and Albert Runcorn shared a joyfull smile, the middle-aged woman also smiled radiantly at Athena, while Broderick Bode Junior smiled automaticly at his boss, before shooting a small (real) smile at Cassiopeia, who returned it as her mother went on, taking out a parchment from her case as she did so.
"This is the pact, that most of the remaining noble families have sighned. Once all the power will be in our hands again, we shall divide it equally among ourselves and govern this marvelous country, ensuring that another tragic war shall never happen again... it is now the time for you – my hand-picked helpers – to add your names on the list and take your rightfull share of benefits and duties that come along with them."
Broderick narrowed his eyes slightly and out of habit closed his mind - using the Occlumency he learnt from a dear friend - keeping his thoughts firmly to himself as he looked at the parchment Pius Thicknesse had just sighned his name on.
There were quite a few names sighned there – most were known to him as pure-blooded members of the High Society. Few of them even had known Death Eaters as family members, though they have disowned them upon their arrest earlier this year and the various times before. Families like Rowles, Montagues, Bletchleys, Carrows, Bullstrodes, Yaxleys and Flints... but there were also other pure-blood families listed there as well – MacDougals, Macmillians, Burkes, Davises, Cornfoots, even the no-longer pure-blood Thurkells.
Broderick´s eyes slightly narrowed again as he spied the names Malfoy and Greengrass written among them too – Lucius Malfoy, Hyperion and Silvaterra Greengrass. Though when thinking about it, that was no surprise since both families were very well known for marrying by arrangement – during the old days, several of the young nobles met eachother at formal parties of the Wizarding High Society and it was ussually right there, where the marriage arrangements and contracts were made. But seeing the names written on the parchment meant something even more serious than an arranged marriage between two pure-blood families.
"Oh no... Dray and Torie´s problems have truly, only begun."he thought with a very sad sigh deep in his heart.
Athena noticed the small frown on his face and smiled supportively.
"There there, Broderick. I know what you´re thinking."
Broderick´s eyes shot into hers in an alarmed manner. Could she possibly KNOW...?!
"I know your half-blood family is not all that respectable – not to mention poor, but have no worry. I am taking you under my personal protection. You are an outstanding wizard and the greatest helper a Head of Department could ever ask for."
Broderick couldn´t help but breath a sigh of relief – Athena smiling broadly. Behind her, Broderick saw Cassiopeia give him a gentle nod and smile – one he returned with the same emotion before he looked at her mother.
"Thank you, ma´am."he said with a small bow, happy that his true thoughts were beyond detection.
Athena smiled broadly as he added his signature on the parchment and moved away for the woman who added her own as well.
"Very well then. All of you shall be informed and refer ONLY to me. Needless to say, that each and every one of you is required to keep this meeting, and other meetings strictly to yourselfs. For the present moment carry out your duties as ussual, but expect that sooner or later I shall call upon you to assist a bit more troughoutly. That will be all for now."
Two men at once exited the room, the woman bowed deeply and followed, closing the door after her.
"Albert, remain for a bit please. I already have a first assighnment for you."said Athena sweetly.
At once Cassiopeia shot her mother a terrified look, while Broderick narrowed his eyes again.
"Peia, please take these documents into our office. Broderick, dear... please accompany her."
Nodding Broderick turned for the door, opening it and holding it out for the younger girl – a gesture that earned him a sunny smile from her as the two left the room.
"Pius, I shall have to ask YOU to leave as well. Do not worry though. I will definitely contact you later on."
Though Thicknesse was dissapointed, he bowed while shooting a jealous look at Runcorn (who gave him a smug smirk) as he moved briskly out of the room as well. He was fumming as he briskly walked trough the abandoned Ministry corridor towards his office. As he rounded behind a corner and spied his office door he failed to see a rat peeking from behind a statue next to the Office Door. Angrily, Pius opened the door and entered. Not aware of the rat slipping inside his office he smashed the door behind him forcefully. He passed several working desks and stopped at the desk next to the Department Head´s door, shooting look at it, one which bore the mixture of anger and jealousy.
"One day... one day... I will be the Head of this Department."he swore angerly to himself as he turned to himself.
Fumming angerly he scrambled several papers into his work-bag. He snapped his head up as he heared a noise from the nearby desks.
"W...who´s there?!"he called into the dark, apparently deserted office, looking around wildly. Pius was absolutely still for a moment, all his sences on alert. After a few more seconds, he shook his head and returned to his task, adding more papers into his bag.
"Stupid imagination. The family´s right... I´ve been working too hard."he muttered to himself.
"Not as hard as you WILL be..."sounded a squeaky voice, which dispite its high-tone held an unmistakable tone of menace.
His head shot up again at another noise and thistime he almost screamed.
Standing right infront of him was a short, plump man, with fair mousy-brown hair and a shining silver hand which held a wand, that was aiming straight to him.
Before Pius could even reach for his wand or make any movement at all, Peter Pettigrew cast his curse.
Ginny awoke once again – for what must´ve been the fourth time now. Not that she minded much – it was only to be expected after experiencing so many incredible things all at once. She kept her eyes closed and not even bothering to move at all, replayed the events of the party – each memory bringing a smile to her face.
Harry´s proposal and the subsequent Potter/Weasley family session that followed...
They all agreed, that it was almost impossible to predict what Athena Kellen and her cronies might do and that a quick, private wedding would definitely be the best course of action at the moment – though there were many angry growls at Kellen´s expense over the conversation. Over the course of that conversation it also became apparent that dispite their making-up, Harry and Alice will ALWAYS have their differences. Alice had grumpily insisted, that if her little brother is eloping, she and Fred are getting married as well. Harry got annoyed over her lack-of understanding the situation and a small argument broke off between them with Neville in between them trying franticly to keep the peace and the two siblings glaring eachother like a pair of angry basilisks. Lily put an abrupt end to it moments later and the talks resumed – the two pairs of parents agreed on giving Fred and Alice their permission as soon as this matter is resolved.
Once more she felt a blast-wave of emotions hit her at the very thought – in less than two days´ time she will be married...
It almost didn´t seem real... things were going so fast. She could remember as if yesterday the carefree childhood in the Burrow... little-girl fantasies about marrying the boy-who-lived... then Hogwarts... meeting Neville (her brother´s mate), Alice, Mione and all the other lions... Luna... all her friends... and now... THIS.
She grinned joyfully and turned around in the bed, cuddling a bit more into the incredibly warm covers – as they should be, given that they were covering TWO people – something that left her smirking to no end.
Harry and the other snakies had requested a sleepover in the Cottage before the party – asking permission from both the teachers and the parents. Though agreeing, Molly and Lily insisted on strict sleeping arrangements – Harry with Blaise, Dray and Angus in Harry´s room, Neville with Ron and Fred in his room, Alice with Hermione, Luna, Susan and Hannah in hers and Ginny with Torie (big mistake) in the smaller guest room the Cottage held – and placed a special little charm on the Potter Cottage to prevent any of them from changing them. Alice and Fred had already figured that one out, as they tried to do something about it – to no avail. However even such a charm was no match against the combined abilities of Ginny and Astoria. Their witty solution allowed them to bypass the charm´s detection and sneak themselves into Harry´s room shortly before midnight – easily passing the enchanted door as well, using the secret password Torie learnt from Harry a month before.
"Knew it..."whispered Harry contently as he felt her slip under his covers.
They fell asleep cuddling under the warm covers and each time Ginny woke up, she was quickly lulled back to sleep as she snuggled closer to her soon-to-be husband.
She grinned madly as she imagined for a moment the looks on Alice´s and Fred´s faces if they knew, that she and Torie suceeded where they failed. Snuggling more into the covers she opened her eyes upon the realization, that there was something missing in the bed.
"Harry...?"she whispered quietly as she raised herself a bit and looked around, her eyes trying to adjust to the darkness.
"Must´ve went to the loo..."she thought logicly as she looked around.
Laid here and there in the magicly enhanced room were the beds Harry had conjured up for his fellow snakes. Gentle snores were heared, coming from the closest bed. Ginny grinned as she looked at it (seeing much better now) – the bed that held two people as well, the girl practicly glued to the sleeping boy´s back.
During the party, when she and Harry were getting better aqquanted with Sirius´ fiancé Amelia, Naja had slithered to Harry and told him something that conjured a manic smile not just on his face, but also Angus´ and Blaise´s, who understood something unsaid between them. At once the three snakes, accompanied by their significant others sneaked towards the open door of Harry´s room just in time to hear an overjoyed girlish squeal and see Torie practicly launch herself on the blonde-haired boy, kissing him full on the lips – Draco had FINALLY told her. However Susan´s, Ginny´s and even Luna´s mouths fell open as they saw, that the empty portrait in the room was occupied by an old, monkey-like man with a bald head, white beard and a pure-gold locket around his neck – rolling his eyes and folding his arms.
"AT LAST! Maybe NOW you will stop pestering me for blasted love advice!"
Harry, Blaise and Torie laughed, while Draco and Angus blushed heavily. However the other girls were utterly stunned and at that moment Alice entered the room to see what they were up to. Her loud scream of "WHAAAAAT?!" drew the entire party there and Harry and Angus were forced to reveal their great surprise ahead of scheduele.
"And what a surprise it was..."thought Ginny as she looked at the portrait in question and then at the three new ones, added there during the party by Harry and Angus, both of which, along with Dray, Torie and Blaise couldn´t wipe the smirks off their faces.
Albus and Severus practicly raced into the room, as curious and eager as first-years and the rest of the party, minus the Evans grandpartents gasped in pure and sheer disbelief – everyone quite sure that had they not seen this for their own eyes, they would never have believed it – the legendary mystery of Hogwarts was not only real, but solved. Harry quickly explained, that following the Chamber of Secrets incident they had researched into another famous Hogwarts legend and during their third year, by using Parseltongue he had managed to locate the first portrait – the one that they had been asking for advice ever since, the one that Harry made a copy of shortly after the Battle of Hogwarts and hung in his room during the summer – the portrait of Salazar Slytherin, or as they called him, Professor. The three remaining copies had been made since the begining of this term and the five snakes happily told the stories behind their long and difficult search for the others´ locations, given that each founder had hid his portrait away separately and devised the pathways to them. "Like secret levels in a video-game."remarked Angus excitedly. The room was barely breathing as the five spoke – Harry about locating Slytherin´s portrait in their third-year, Blaise and Draco getting past magical logic puzzles in order to locate Ravenclaw´s in their fifth, Astoria locating a secret enchanted garden surrounding Hufflepuff´s a year back and finally Angus getting past a challenging obstacle course and finally locating Gryffindor´s barely two weeks ago.
"Honestly... you NEVER know what these snakes stumble upon..."she thought still in awe as she looked away from the portraits and around the room at the beds.
However as she fixed her sights on the beds, slightly better visible in the moonlight, that shone trough the window she noticed, that Angus´ and Blaise´s beds were empty too.
"What the...? What could they possibly be up to at this time of the night?!"
She pondered on that for a while and looked quickly over Harry´s side of the bed. Her curiosity grew as she saw Naja there, undoubtably sleeping with Hazumi wrapped-up next to her. Ginny looked at the small, slightly shining clock on the wall – it was three in the morning, something which only increaced her curiosity. Should she leave the protective space of the room and look for them? On the other hand, she knew Harry´s room password – the one single word which can get the enchanted door to open without having to answer any riddle... Her mind set, she got up from the bed and tip-toed past Draco and Astoria. Torie stirred slightly, but remained asleep and of course – as Torie often said – Draco can sleep trough ANYTHING. Slipping quietly from the room, she quietly crept trough the hallway. She tried looking in the kitchen, then the main living room. She was about to leave, when she spotted them behind the glass-door leading to the garden. And the doors were slightly ajar. She grinned and tip-toed closer determined to surprise them, hearing Blaise´s hushed voice become clearer.
"... and I seriously believe that you are overestimating the situation, my dear friend."
"Am I...?"came Harry´s voice.
There was something in it, that made Ginny stop – a kind of stiff tension, she never heared in his voice before. At once re-thinking her surprise ambush she scooted closer, determined to hear more. There on the small balcony stood Harry and Blaise, gazing at the bright, shining moon. Harry appeared to be holding a mirror. He was gripping the handle very tightly and his hand appeared to be shaking in anger.
"You heared what Double B said just now... damn, I should have thought about that before I lost my temper with that bitch of a witch..."
Blaise put a hand on his shoulder.
"From what I heared, my mighty friend I would expect nothing less, when she was insulting Ginny such ways. In any case, this is no fault of yours. They were preparing to enforce the Act one way or the other. It would have occured one way or the other."
Harry´s head gave a small nod and he sighed.
"Shall we inform our precious sunshines about this as well?"
At Blaise´s question Harry snapped his head towards him very fast.
"Blaise... to use Angus´ phrase – Did you have a run-in with a herd of wild water buffaloes?!"
Ginny would´ve giggled at the phrase, had the tone of Harry´s voice not been a serious one.
"You´ve seen how happy they were when we proposed. Do you honestly want to wreck that happiness with worry about what Kellen might or might not do?"
Blaise bowed his head slightly.
"You´re right. My sweet little moonbeam is so happy... still... I am not sure if we can keep something like this a secret from them."
Harry gave a long deep sigh.
"I realized already, that several things will change as we let the girls into our lives. I realized that I will have to be open and truthfull with Ginny... and I want to Blaise. Its just... I don´t want to spoil this for her. You know that dispite the evidence we have, we have no real inckling about what Kellen´s next move might be. And its not just about us... the Repopulation Act... its bigger... way bigger than this..."
Blaise sighed and nodded.
"I understand. Though I must say I do not share your view on the possible dangers. I am not sure she would go that far."
Even with the back turned to her, Ginny could tell that Harry fixed Blaise a very serious look.
"The world isn´t split into good people and Death Eaters, Blaise. Athena Kellen may not be a Death Eater, but she is a power-hungry pure-blood suprimacist. Plus she has Fudge wrapped around her fingers. That´s why I expect anything from the likes of her."
"Luck favours the prepared."
"Exactly. And speaking of Tommy´s merry little lot, lets not forget that many are still at large. Angry, violent and desperate. Something which renders them possibly even more dangerous."
Ginny raised her eyebrow as she heared Harry´s curious reference to the Death Eaters. What did he mean by it...?
"You are right, Harry. Though the blind ones at the Ministry think it is all over since Sir Thomas had been so kind to expire, it is plain to see that his followers will not give up easily. It is only right to remain constantly vigilant as Alastor Moody had always so rightly advised."
The pair glanced once again towards the shining moon.
"We really should return into our beds, Harry. I am sure your Mum would not appretiate us standing on the balcony in the middle of the night."
Ginny at once started to retreat quietly, hearing more than enough already and determined to be back in bed before Harry. She quickly cast the counter-charm on herself with her wand and made her way to Harry´s room door, which issued another puzzle. At the sound of the secret password however, the puzzle dissapeared and the door opened silently, letting her in before closing. She had barely swung the covers over herself when she heared the door open again. A few seconds later, she felt Harry slip into the bed and wrap an arm around her. Smiling slightly, she wasted not a second to snuggle up to him and give him a gentle kiss on the nose.
"Sorry, love... did I wake you?"whispered Harry.
"No... I woke up a while before..."she whispered back.
"Where were you?"she asked as she ran a hand trough his messy hair.
"Loo."he muttered and Ginny couldn´t surpress the grin.
"Liar."she thought affectionately as she kissed him on the lips.
She continued to stroke his jet-black hair even as she felt him fall asleep a few moments later. Knowing her thoughts were beyond detection now, she thought about what she had overheared mere moments ago.
She wondered... what could Athena Kellen do? Especially after they were married?And just who is this "Double B"? Must be some kind of friend of theirs... the name sounding like some sort of a nickname from those muggle cartoons Harry is so fond of... He didn´t want to spoil her happiness...? How? Should she ask him about it...? Well, they were going to be married very soon... shouldn´t he trust her more? Was it a question of trust in the first place?
She felt him snuggle even closer and sigh contently into her hair.
"No... what´s the point? I´m sure Harry will tell me if it IS something to worry about. There´s just no point worrying about anything right now."
With Harry´s warmth lulling her back to sleep, she tightened her hold on him and closed her eyes with a huge smile on her face.
"Everything will be just fine..."
"Avada Kedavra! Avada Kedavra! AVADA KEDAVRA!"
The Masked Wizard jumped down from a small platform as the third curse missed him by a mere inch. Landing on the ground, he rolled away and took refuge behind a stack of huge wooden crates as his attacker moved in for another curse.
"NO, YOU IDIOT! Madam Kellen wants him ALIVE!"roared the sharp voice of Auror Savage.
"Out of my way, Savage! HE´S MINE!"Auror Proudfoot yelled back in his gruff voice.
Peeking from behind the crates, the masked wizard rolled his eyes at the sight of the two ever-bickering Aurors. He took cover again and looked around for some way of escape.
"Boy, what a mess... oh well, what´s life without a few Killing Curses..."he thought with a sigh.
It was shortly before three in the morning when he entered the renowned Potions Supply Farm founded by Hector Dagworth Granger and his society almost two centuries back. The Ministry controlled complex, made to look like an ordinary farm to muggle eyes, was the place where most of the Potions ingredients – including dangerous, illegal and non-tradable ones – were stored and in some cases grown or made. In the early hours of morning this farm is mostly deserted, save for a few night-shift workers. One of these workers tonight was Marrietta Edgecombe and her fianceé. He had planned to interview them a bit about about the help they recieved from the Repopulation Act Office. Not having much leads at the moment it seemed like the first place to start. Upon his arrival however he found several night-workers dead and the two having nightime visitors already – Death Eaters Rowle and Dolohov. Having set off the facility´s alarm charm moments later, the two Death Eaters were in a hurry. Rowle holding a bag with stolen ingredients, but Dolohov was binding the unconcious pair. Before he could do anything, Rowle turned a nearby object into a Portkey and the two dissapeared, along with their captives. Mere moments after, the Ministry lot arrived – over twenty members of the Magical Law Enforcement and these two Auror jokers. Whether they were blaming HIM for the dead bodies of the night-workers, or they were merely ignoring the fact and focusing on getting him, he wasn´t sure. Well... it hardly mattered. He once more looked around – he had very limited choices here... the alarm charm had blocked most options of magical concealment and since their arrival, the Magical Law Enforcement lot would be stupid not to set up a barrier, preventing any kind of dissaparation or transport by Portkeys. The only two options that remained were to somehow hide himself OR fight his way out.
"One or the other... and FAST!"he thought as several MLE members arrived into the room.
He quickly jumped away as four stunners hit the place he was crouching. Instantly he retaliated, while on the move and luckily two of his Body-Bind Curses found their mark.
Backed by five other wizards, Proudfoot moved in, his wand raised.
The masked wizard dodged just in time, the Cruciatus Curse hitting one of the crates, which crumbled and cracked, a squealling sound coming out of it – undoubtably it hit some of the living plants grown there or imported. He noticed the crates besides the group and the different lable on them – MANDRAKE SEEDLINGS.
"Reducto"he roared pointing his wand at the crates.
At once the top crate exploded and the group was showered in a mixture of soil and the tiny plants. Proudfoot´s eyes went wide and he instantly conjoured a pair of earmuffs on his head, as the masked wizard performed a charm on his mask, while dodging curses from the MLE members. A mere second later, the baby mandrakes started to cry, the effect was instantanious – the ten people in the room started to fall to the ground unconcious almost as one. Only Proudfoot, Savage (who performed a charm on himself as well) and the masked wizard were left standing.
"SILENCIO"roared Savage on the mandrakes on the ground, their cries silenced dispite their flailing on the ground.
"EXPULSO"roared Proudfoot aiming at the masked one.
Ducking the spell and ignoring the giant blast it caused after him, he moved in at them. He pushed them back a bit, the trade of curses and blocks going at a frantic speed. The two were guarding themselves but not eachother – it was only a matter of time until they made an error. He waved his wand at the crates above and the crates moved towards their heads from the sides. Both managed to push them away from them with their spells but in so doing, they bumped into eachother.
"Damn it! Out of my way, you big oaf!"exclaimed Savage.
"Shut up, you idiot!"Proudfoot growled back, the two Aurors shooting glares at eachother.
The masked wizard couldn´t surpress the grin – exactly what he was waiting for.
A thick white substance shot from his wand and instantly wrapped around the bickering pair. Screaming, the two slowly but surely fell to the ground as the sticky substance not only covered them from head to toe, but completly immobilized them. The only place on their bodies untouched by it were their noses, so they could at least breath.
"And that´s it for our dream team."he said in his deep, magically modified voice as he looked at the two cocooned bodies on the ground.
"Don´t worry. It loosenes up in an hour or so."he said and couldn´t help but grin under his mask.
This spell of his invention was his pride – the Spider Web conjuring spell, the perfect way to incapacitate a foe. He quickly berated himself mentally. This was no time to gloat. Sure enough a Reductor Curse flew past him, scraping his left arm and reducing a smaller crate behind him to dust.
"See, stupid?! This is what you get for not staying focused!"he breated himself angrily as he winced at the pain, seeing four other MLE wizards in the doorway.
At once he doged two and reflected the other two curses before running behind another crate. Two wizards were hot on his heels, while the remaining tried to untie the bound Aurors. Dodging their spells and jumping over a working desk, he waved his wand again and transfigured the desk into a smaller brick wall just as one of the wizards tried to jump over it. The man collided painfully with the wall and fell backwards to the ground moaning in pain. The other followed. Sprinting into the other room, he saw that it was a greenhouse of sorts. With Solaris Charms cast around to provide daylight to the growing plants he recodnized as Vileblooms. The plants were often used in potions and were known to produce extremly unpleasant smell with their pollen. He grinned under his mask again – a different effect can be produced with Vilebloom pollen when...
"He´s here! We have him in the Vilebloom plantation!"roared the wizard to his collagues and sure enough two more sprinted in trough the door ahead of him.
He quickly ducked and rolled under one of the shelves holding the Vileblooms. He had his plan now and he set to work instantly as he lay under the plant shelf, pointing his wand straight at it.
The Engorgement Charm was so strong, the tiny Vileblooms sprouted into giant plants, the daylight from the Solaris Charm also helping as they grew. Their violet flowers at once started to emmit the pollen, which rose up like a foul-smelling dark violet cloud – covering the entire room in the horrific stench. The two MLE wizards and one witch instantly swayed on the spot and coughed, tears coming out of their eyes and heads spinning as they covered their noses. Knowing he hadn´t a second to spare, he swiftly rolled from beneath the shelf and pointed his wand at the cieling and its purple pollen cloud – determined to carry out his plan before any of them could cast a Bubble Head Charm on themselves.
The purple cloud gave an almighty bang as its pollen was incinerated. The violet clouds turned into acid-yellow smoke and swept trough the room like a gas-bomb.
"It worked."he breathed to himself as he heared three bodies fall to the ground with a loud thud.
Vilebloom pollen, as he very well knew, not only stinks worse than a dead skunk (he loved that reference), but when heated up to the right temperature it becomes a powerfull knock-out substance, capable of bringing a half-a-ton bull to the ground in three seconds. Hell... it could knock out a dragon if its exposed to it for a while. Luckily, his mask has several charms on it – aside from the Voice Modifying Charm, it also has a tricky little one, which blocks out any kinds of smell – ensuring that only pure oxygen gets trough it and working like a gas-mask.
Hearing footsteps, he hid himself under the shelf again.
THUD! THUD! THUD!
"Ooopsie... three more bodies..."thought the masked wizard with a snicker as he rose up and saw three other wizards joining in this knock-out of a party.
Walking to the door and side-stepping one, he looked at them all couldn´t help but grin again – thistime mischievously. With a single cassual wave of his wand, he conjured pure-white, fluffy pillows under the heads of the unconcious MLE members.
"Sweet dreams, everyone."he snickered again as he exited the room.
Passing into a potions room, he tried not to be too pleased with himself. Afterall there were bound to be more MLE members around. He saw, that the ingredient room door was blasted apart and curiosity sparkled in his eyes. Dolohov and Rowle must´ve stole something from there. Sure enough he found a young witch lying on the ground dead, as soon as he entered.
"Poor girl. Didn´t even have a chance to pull her wand out..."he thought sadly as he looked at the body.
Sadness flashed trough his eyes as he crouched to her and rolled her onto her back. She was in her late teens... and beautifull. Thin, relatively tall with long redish brown hair. Judging from her face – which most boys would undoubtably found very cute – she must´ve been terrified when the Death Eaters entered, utterly paralyzed by fear. He was getting that all-too familiar feeling as he closed her mouth and her wide-open eyes ever-so gently.
"You poor thing... those lousy bastards... they didn´t have to kill you at all..."he muttered sadly, running his finger on her cold cheek as though it could somehow ease the brutality of what had happened to her.
It was exactly times like these he wished, that there WAS a spell to revive the dead. Sure, duelling... incapacitating your foe... hell, even causing some minor injuries – FINE. But this...?! This was outright MURDER! Every nerve of his being was roaring in rage at the Death Eaters. He noticed with a gasp, certain similarities with...
"NO! STOP THINKING LIKE THAT!"he yelled at himself in his mind, shaking his masked head.
Knowing there was no help possible, he stood up and surveyed the office with determination – ANY lead could help stop those bastards once and for all. He noticed the shelves were ransacked, but judging by several lables and sighns, this room held untradable substances. He narrowed his eyes as he identified some of the stolen ones – they were ussualy used in the darkest of rituals.
"What the hell are those swines up to?!"he thought furiously.
Before he could think more, he heared hurried footsteps again. Realizing all too well, what would happened if he was discovered here along with the body, he sped from the room and continued on the hallway, angry that he had no time to investigate more. Sure enough, the MLE lot found him in the large room, which supported several magical creatures. Bowtruckles, Knarls, several poisonous snakes, even a few animals common to the muggle-world.
Blocking the first two, he ducked yet again but suddenly he heared the Killing Curse make contact and a short wail in the cage behind him. The poor creature behind him fell to the bottom of its cage, dead.
"You idiot! NOW I´m angry! Arania Telam! Arania Telam! ARANIA TELAM!"he roared, catching them all in spider-webs.
Hearing more footsteps running in his direction he quickly looked around wildly for an escape. He almost gasped as he realized... the room was a dead-end. The only other way out other than the door was the window at the very top – almost level with the high cieling. Thinking fast, he aimed his wand at his feet.
The jinx practicly blasted him from the floor, shooting him upwards like a cannon. Waving his wand in mid-air at the wall, the wall moved and a small part of it had created a platform. Using the Impediment Jinx once again, thistime weaker and aimed on his back, he blasted himself onto the platform. Swiftly he transfigured the remainder of the wall separating him from the window, creating a tiny staircase towards it. Just as he opened the window a curse missed him narrowly.
"Let the others know the direction! Have them wait for him outside the East Wing, don´t let him get away!"
He heared the MLE´s wizard shouting and as he looked outside of the window, already he could hear rushed voices. Looking at his surroundings he at once knew, that jumping from the window was out of the question – he was simply too high up and even if he DID break his fall magicly, the MLE lot would surely shower him with curses the moment he´d hit the ground. The East Wing held two smaller towers and by the looks of it he was on the windowside of one of them. He spied a small fence, not too far after the second East Wing tower, where a herd of cows were kept for whatever purposes.
"Perfect... now how to get there...?"he racked his brains franticly, knowing he had very little time.
He spied a thick pole on the neighbouring tower, possibly used during the old times... nevertheless it was more than enough.
"Truncatis funis"he called and at once a strong, deep-green vine sprouted from his wand, shooting towards the pole and wrapping its end around it strongly.
Pulling onto the vine and placing his wand safely onto his belt, he quickly looked at the direction he was about to swing.
"Okay... its now or never... jungle-man style..."he thought in boyish excitement.
"GET HIM! GET HIM! STUPEFY!"roared from under him and already the first Stunning Spell flew upward, luckily missing its target.
Ignoring the slight pain from his left arm, he swung himself from the window, at once gaining speed and evading the three Stunners that hit the window from both inside and outside. As he swept trough the air for a few moments and passed the second tower, he let go of the vine and reached for his wand. Free-falling towards the fence, he performed a Coushioning Charm to break his fall as he landed next to the cows. The MLE wizards sprinted and Apparated there and in a matter of seconds were all climbing over the fence. Wands raised, they were looking around, ignoring the "mooos" of the stirred and woken cows.
"Damn it... must´ve dissaparated."muttered one of them.
"Homenum Revelio"exclaimed one of the witches, waving her wand.
Nothing whatsoever happened, except the cow´s mooing.
"No human presence among them. He must´ve dissaparated."she said, shaking her head.
"I was sure, we have had him thistime. Madam Kellen won´t be pleased..."said the young wizard there.
A loud and angry "MOO" accompanied by several puffs of air drew their attention to a large brownish bull, which was at the side of the fence. Clearly angry, it was puffing out air from its nose and pumping itself for a charge. Several wizards quickly retreated beyond the fence, but the young wizard´s wand-arm rose, a superior look on his face.
"John! Shame on you!"scolded a young witch who was standing beside him, forcing his wand arm back down.
"B...but sweetheart..."the wizard stuttered at her.
"No buts... now come along. We have no business staying here."she said maternally and drew him away into safetly.
As soon as they climbed outside the fence, the bull instantly calmed down. Most of the witches and wizards started to move away from the fence and back towards the farm. The young witch looked around and saw, that many of the cows started to surround the bull, mooing loudly. The young witch giggled as she turned to her companion.
"See? He was just protecting his girls... you can´t blame him for that..."she said with a wink.
"Yes... yes... I suppose..."he stuttered, red-faced as she grabbed him by the arm.
"Now come along..."she said gently as they left.
The bull watched them all retreat. Looking around the surrounding cows and hearing them "moo" for a while, looking more interested in the retreating wizards, though mooing back as well. The cows mooed on as the last wizard outside entered the nearby building. Suddenly the bull transformed – turning himself into a man. The masked wizard was standing surrounded by the cows and VERY gratefull, that his mask was hiding his blood-red, blushing face.
"Sorry girls... Big Moo is already spoken for..."he muttered in embaressment before he spun on heel and dissaparated with a loud Pop.
"Damn it, Wormtail! Stop rushing me!"
Marrietta Edgecombe stirred as the voice rang in the room, very close to her. She tried to remember what happened – she was working the nightshift along with her fianceé Casmus... they closed down their office door and were about to... when there was a commotion in the nearby office and the door was blasted open and...
She winced as a sharp pain went trough her mercilessly. Her entire body ached and she felt horribly weak. Little pains and aches went from her arms, legs and belly and she realized, that she can´t move. Opening her eyes she saw, that she was lying on some sort of an altar table in a darkened room, illuminated only by small pools of green light. Her eyes looking around, she saw something which would´ve made her scream if she had the energy – another altar table was placed beside her and on it lay her fianceé, seemingly unconcious and only in his underwear. What filled her with pure terror were the sighns carved into his arms and legs – blood flowing from the wounds. In a second she realized from the aches she felt at the EXACTLY same places, that there were sighns carved in her flesh too. She heared someone stomp around them and another voice rang out – a squeaky one.
"The Dark Lord had placed me in charge of this operation, Dolohov. I am to see this trough..."
Marrietta shivered. The DARK LORD?! As in He Who Must Not Be Named?!
"See of course, but not to do any of the work."growled Dolohov angrily.
"You heared him... he gave the task to YOU. Not sure why..."he squeaked grumpily.
Dolohov rolled his eyes.
"Because this ritual had not been used for more than three centuries. He was right to give the task to ME, what with Bellatrix, Barty and Daphne in Azkaban. There are not many who can perform this ritual correctly."said Dolohov with a smirk as Wormtail gave him a sulky look.
"Is it time?"came another voice, a deeper one.
"Yes, Rodolphus. We´re just about ready. All that remains is the final symbol and we can start."said Dolohov, moving closer to the two captives.
Marrietta heared a low moan and saw that Casmus was stirring as the man with long dark-brown hair approached him and used his forefinger to draw a bit of blood on it.
"Why... why are you doing this to us...?"Casmus whispered weakly.
Rodolphus Lestrange smiled nastily at the young man.
"You and your little girlfriend should be honored, boy. You shall become an essencial component of this ritual. You shall have the greatest honor of becoming the foundation stone for our Master´s return to power."
Marrietta was finally able to let out a small squal, just as she felt Dolohov´s finger on the wound on her leg.
"Are... are you going to... to kill us?"she whispered, utterly terrified.
"´Course not, you stupid girl... we need your life-force and magic for this!"exclaimed Wormtail in agitation.
"Shut up, Wormtail!"growled Rodolphus as he and Dolohov made blood symbols on a large simple mirror set in front of the two altar tables, yet still in the ceremonial rune circle, Dolohov had prepared.
"Doesn´t matter. These two won´t be telling anything to anyone."said Dolohov in a calm, cruel voice.
Ignoring the moaning protests of their captives the two stepped out of the circle and moved towards the altars, taking out their wands.
"No... please...no... we...we´ll do anything... please don´t..."pleaded Marrietta weakly, but no one in the room aside from her fianceé took any notice of it.
"Be careful to stay out of the circle. Otherwise you might get chaught in it."Dolohov warned his two fellows and Wormtail instantly jumped back.
Rodolphus on the other hand looked excited.
"The Dark Repository truly held incredible treasures... such a rare piece of Dark Arts... my widest dreams come true. And we shall make sure our Master comes back, stronger than ever."
"Don´t... please... we beg of you..."moaned Marrietta again, tears running from her eyes and falling onto the altar table.
But the two dark-wizards raised their wands to the sky. The circle started to glow deep-green and the two started to chant quietly. The carvings in the flesh of the two sacrifices glowed green as well and excruciating pain befell both of them, compelling them to scream out loud, no matter how weak they felt. Their very skin felt like it was on fire and they felt something pulling on it painfully, as though to rip them apart piece by piece. The green glow turned blood-red and the mirror in front of them glowed brightly, the reflection of the horror fading away as the glass trembled and turned pure-shining white. Wormtail gasped in wonder as he saw the two bodies on the altars turned into jet-black vapour and mixed in with the red light, and at the direction of the two wands, all of it burst into the pure-white glass of the mirror.