Jason Bourne travels to Las Vegas and encounters trolls, animagi, thestrals and an old friend.
He was somewhere on the outskirts of Las Vegas. He followed the crowd to an abandoned motel. He stepped through the door and the floor under him began to descend. When it stopped he was looking out at a cavernous room. A glittering sign announced that he was in Merlin’s Palace. The room was lit by thousands of candles and torches floating in the air. The walls were encrusted with fantastic gems. The gaming tables were surrounded by witches and wizards in richly coloured robes.
Bourne walked toward the tables. A small wizard in a powder blue robe approached him and said, "Your wand, you have to turn in your wand. No one is allowed to have a wand at the gaming tables except for casino security."
Jason had no intention of giving up his wand. He pushed past the small wizard, but his way was blocked by a creature that looked like nothing he had ever seen. It was twelve feet tall and almost as wide. It carried a club and was dressed, incongruously, in black slacks, a white shirt and a black bow tie.
“Come with me, sir,” the small wizard said.
Bourne did not see that he had much choice. The wizard led him to a small room and locked the door. Bourne could smell the troll standing outside. He worried that the Las Vegas authorities might not be quite as tolerant as the Boston wizards. After about half an hour, the door opened. Nicky Parson was standing there with the small wizard. Jason stared. Her hair was different and she looked odd in her powder blue robe, but it was definitely her.
"It's all right, I've explained that it was just a mistake, and you didn't mean to gamble, " Nicky said. "I'm off shift in half an hour. I'll meet you at the coffee shop down the road."
Nicky arrived as promised. They sat in a booth near the window. Loud country music muffled their conversation.
"So what did you tell them?" Jason asked.
"Half the truth. I said that you were an old boyfriend and I wanted to tell you to get out of my life," Nicky said.
"So which part is true?"
"The second part. Listen, Jason, I owe you a bit of explanation, but that's all I can do. You see, I'm a squib."
"What's that?’ Jason asked.
"A child of witch and wizard parents who can't do magic. We're the lowest of the low in the magical world. Witches and wizards treat us like we're mentally defective. Anyway, my parents didn't think like that. They sent me to Muggle schools. I did well and won scholarships. A CIA recruiter spotted me and encouraged me to apply. I thought this was crazy. I would never pass a security check. But I applied and some how I got in. I did well. Growing up in the magical world made secrecy second nature. Then I got assigned to Treadstone and I started working with you. It didn't take me long to guess what you were. "
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't think you would believe me."
She was right about that, Jason thought.
"I watched you for years and eventually I couldn't stand it anymore," Nicky continued. "I hated them for what they had done to you and what they had made you do. I decided that I had to get out. When I met you in Madrid, I saw my chance and took it. After I left you in Tangiers, I found my way to the wizard quarter. I have just enough magic in me to let me use magical transport. The CIA had no chance of tracking me. I headed back to the States and got a job here. Wizard casinos are one of the few places squibs can make a decent living."
"Why is that?"
"Wizards like us as dealers, they think that because we can't do magic, we can't cheat. I'm not proud of what I do, but at least I'm safe. "
"Nicky, I ...," Jason began, but Nicky cut him off.
"Please, don't tell me anything. It isn't safe. I've done all I can for you. I have no where else to run. I’ve got to go now."
She got up and walked away.
Arriving in Las Vegas by Muggle transport had been a good idea, Harry decided. In Britain, his fame had reached a tolerable level. People recognized him, but he was mostly left alone. In America, he was still a celebrity. His arrival at a wizarding portal would have been a major event. At the airport, he was waved through customs with only a routine passport check.
Horocrux hunting, Ron pointed out, was much easier when you had a Ministry of Magic credit card and a plan. Hermione had a Muggle driver’s license so they rented a car. Ron insisted on a Mustang convertible. Hermione was reluctant, but Harry agreed that it made sense. The plan was simple. The Prince brothers had made their money in potions and many of their ingredients came from the Nevada desert. They were probably hiding Jason with one of their suppliers.
Ron’s business would be the cover. He would claim that he was looking for new sources of supply for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. While Ron talked business, Hermione would strike up a conversation with the lady of the house. Harry would stay hidden under his invisibility cloak and look around for anything suspicious.
Bourne found magical Las Vegas as frustrating as magical Boston. There were plenty of shady looking characters who were willing to teach him whatever he wanted, for a price. The problem was that he couldn’t trust any them not to stun him and sell him to the highest bidder. He was practising the spells Harry had taught him in an abandoned gravel pit just outside of town, when three men surprised him. They had to be wizards. No one else would be dressed in long coats made of the skin of some reptile Jason could not recognize but hoped never to meet in the wild. One of the wizards was tall, with a snakelike face, another was lean and muscular and the third was heavyset, almost fat.
The tall wizard spoke. “Hello there, stranger. That’s a nice looking wand you’ve get there. Mind if I take a look at it?”
“Didn’t your mother tell you never to talk to strangers?” Jason growled.
“Where are my manners? My name is Fred, Fred Dobbs,” the tall wizard said.
“This is my brother Tim.” The muscular wizard nodded.
“And this is Dale.” The fat one raised his hand.
The three men, circled around Bourne, eyeing him closely.
“It’s him,” Fred whispered.
Jason’s fist landed in Tim’s gut. As Tim gasped in pain, Jason grabbed him and threw him against Fred. They both landed in a heap. Dale fired off a spell but Jason dodged it. He disarmed Dale with an Expelliarmus charm. In a moment the three men were on the ground and Jason was holding four wands.
“Looks you guys aren't good for much without these things,” Jason said.
“Not quite,” Fred replied.
Suddenly, the men were gone and in their places were a mountain lion, a grizzly bear and a diamond back rattlesnake. The snake hissed and bared its fangs. Bourne did not need to be a parseltongue to understand its meaning. He dropped all four wands and backed away.
When Jason awoke, he was tied up on top of a table in a small room with adobe walls. He could here the Dobbs brothers arguing.
“I’m sure that Mr. Prince will be real pleased to get his wand back,” Tim was saying, “and he should give us a nice bonus for catching the man alive. I’ll just drop over and collect the reward.”
“Yeah, and you’ll share it fair and square just like you always do,” Fred said. “I’m coming with you.”
“Me too,” Dale said.
“So who’s going to watch him?” Tim asked.
“She will,” Fred replied. He took a real rattlesnake out of a cage and put in on the floor of the room where Jason was held.
"You leave her alone and she'll leave you alone," Fred warned, as a closed the door.
Jason heard them arguing for a minute more. Then there were three cracks and he was alone with the snake.
The magical ropes dissolved after about an hour and Jason was able to slip out of the ordinary ones quite but escape would not be easy. The room had an open window but it was too small for him. The door looked flimsy but it might have a magical lock and, in any case, the noise would disturb the snake. Jason lay back on the table. He saw that while the walls were adobe, the ceiling appeared to be thin plywood. He reached up and felt that it was rotten. The ceiling was low enough that he could lie back on the table and kick it. He tried it and his boot punched through to daylight. After a few more kicks he had a hole large enough to crawl through.
He pulled himself to the roof and looked around. He had no idea where he was. The nearest town might be a hundred miles away. He went back into the house and looked around. There were no maps or any other clue as to where he might be. He found a leather canteen, filled it with water and set off.
There was a rough road leading to the house. Ordinarily, it would not be a good idea to follow it, but he doubted that his captors would be returning by car. He saw a cloud of dust in the distance and took cover behind a rock. It was a Mustang convertible with two teenagers in the front seat. Those kids must be pretty stupid to take a car like that on a road like this, he thought. The car hit a rock and the front tire punctured. Serves them right. Then he saw a red headed boy get out and point a stick at the front tire. There was a flash of light and the tire was as good as new.
Jason recognized them as Harry’s friends. Harry himself was no doubt somewhere nearby. Should he trust them or take his chances in the desert? While he was making up his mind he saw the Dobbs brothers flying towards him. They were riding huge horse-like creatures with leathery wings and flesh-eater’s mouths. Harry appeared out of nowhere, flying on a broomstick. He was firing spells at the Dobbs brothers. Jason ran to the car.
“You drive,” Hermione said.
He took the wheel and raced down the road. Hermione covered him with a shield charm and Ron fired off stunning spells. As the reached the main road, Hermione said, “Head back for town as fast as you can go.”
Jason could not see Harry or the Dobbs brothers.
“Are they gone?” he asked.
“No, they’re still up there but they’ve disillusioned themselves so Muggles can’t see them,” Hermione answered.
The flash of a spell reflected off the car’s hood as she spoke. Now there was a new threat. A police cruiser was chasing them. Jason wanted to turn onto a side road but Hermione insisted that they keep going. He could see the shadowy outline of the Dobbs brothers on their thestrals overhead, so he did not argue. Suddenly the thestrals turned away.
“Where did they go?” Jason asked.
“We passed the magical fence. It keeps creatures like thestrals and dragons out of the city.”
The fence did not stop police cruisers. The cars were gaining on them. There was a barricade ahead.
Harry rejoined Ron and Hermione outside the police station.
“Why did you let them take him?” he asked angrily.
“It was just a traffic charge. You know we’re not supposed to interfere with the Muggle authorities unless it’s a life threatening situation or magical secrecy is involved,” Hermione replied.
“This is a life threatening situation. Didn’t you read the dossier. The CIA wants him dead.”
They watched the police station for several hours. Eventually a black van pulled away. A spell revealed that Jason was inside. They followed the van to the airport where a private jet was waiting.
"Where do you think they'll take him?" Ron asked.
"Washington, probably," Harry replied. "Listen, I'm going to hide on board that plane. I'll force it to make an emergency landing somewhere. Then I'll get Jason out and modify everyone's memories so they'll think he escaped on his own. I'll meet you at one of these spots."
Harry took a tourist brochure out of his pocket and marked out a series of sites.
Bourne sat in the plane and wondered how long he had to live. It was obvious that his captors did not plan on delivering him alive. Standard CIA rendition procedure was to drug the prisoner, cut off his clothes, dress him in an orange jumpsuit and tie him to a gurney. He was conscious, wearing his own clothes and secured by nothing but handcuffs. At some point, they would land in an isolated airport and he would be put out of the plane and told to start running. The final report would say that he had been shot attempting to escape.
Harry sat in the cargo bay under invisibility cloak. He cast cushioning charms to keep himself from being badly bruised but he was still cramped and sore. After about an hour the plane landed and he made his move. He forced open the hatchway to the main cabin and stunned the pilots and two agents. He left Jason manacled and gagged while he performed a particularly difficult spell. All four men on the plane would wake up in ten minutes with a false memory of Jason slipping out of his handcuffs, overpowering them and running off into the night.
Harry released Jason and said, “Hurry, we have ten minutes to get out of here.”
The door of the plane opened and a man with a gun burst in.
“No, Harry, watch out!” Jason shouted.
The man fired and hit Harry in the leg. There was a red flash from Harry`s wand and the man went down.
“It’s okay, I got him,” Harry called out weakly.
Jason knelt down and looked at Harry`s wound. It was bad. The bullet was still there and the bone was shattered. He would probably lose the leg if he didn’t die of shock first.
“I’ll be fine if I can get to a healer right away,” Harry said.
Harry took his wand and pointed it at the wound. The bleeding stopped.
“That should hold it long enough to get out of here,” Harry said. "I need your help. Press down on my wound. Do you know the top of Mount Rushmore?"
"Make a picture of it in your mind. Now, concentrate. Tell yourself over and over again that you have to go there right now."
Jason felt the terrible crushing feeling and in a few seconds, he and Harry were on top of another mountain. Harry took a coin out of his pocket and tapped it with his wand. There was a loud crack and Harry’s two friends appeared. Harry told his story while Hermione looked at his wound.
“There, I’ve vanished the bullet but the healer will have to do the rest. Where’s the port-key?”
Ron produced a paper cup and said, “Grab on at the count of ten.”