Eliza begins to heal, Parkinson House celebrates the Sabbat. Harry sees through Bella's disguise.
Chapter 18 - Imbolg
Eliza Shakespeare fed until she felt strong enough to morph back into her human form. She wasn't completely healed, that would take more blood than Remus had to give and she feared and respected her descendant too much to do that.
So it was a painfully scarred vampiress who stood, naked, before the couple.
Remus winced at the sight of her half scorched face and said "Please, I can spare more; and you need it."
Eliza managed a smile and thanked the werewolf, then politely refused.
"Just let me find the bastards who burned out Ian's and I'll drain them dry!"
"Is Ian?" Bellatrix began to ask, but stopped when she saw the look of utter desolation in the eyes of her ancestress.
The younger vampire enfolded her elder in a gentle embrace as both let the bloody tears course in red rivulets over their cheeks.
"I knew he'd be gone too soon, but it still hurts. More than I can bear sometimes."
Remus tried to give both vampiresses a little more of his life's blood, but staggered from the effects of his earlier contribution as he stood to make the offer.
Eliza smiled through her tears and said, "You'd better keep this one, he's generous to a fault."
"I hope to, Ancestress. He is arare one."
"I'm going to sleep now, if you have any information on the one who orchestrated the attack, please wake me, no matter what time, day or night!"
Just before morphing back into her bat form she caught Remus's eye and said, "Take care of her, Lord Were, she's precious to me."
"And to me as well, My Lady Vampiress."
Then he turned to Bella and said,"Will you help me prepare for the Sabbat?"
Three dozen children sat, cross-legged, in a circle. In the center of the circle seven adults joined hands, surrounding a table on which stood a small pewter cauldron. One man in plain black robes released the hands on either side and stepped up to the cauldron. The hands he released found each other and a slightly smaller circle re-formed. The ritual began as the bearded, bespectacled Remus, in his Brother David persona, placed the besom, the ritual broom, on the altar before the cauldron.
"Imbolg," he said, "is a time of cleansing and purification."
The Druid lit a white candle, dropped four drops of hot wax into the cauldron bottom and affixed the burning candle.
"With my besom in my hand I will sweep out that which is no longer needed so as to purify my surroundings and prepare for new growth."
He picked up the besom.
"Clear out the old and let the new enter. Life starts anew at this time of cleansing."
"Brother David" started at the north and swept with outward motions deosil (clockwise) around the circle.
When he had swept full circle he sprinkled rosemary and bay into the candle flame and said, "I call upon the power of these herbs so that their scent released in this cauldron's fire may purify us, our surroundings, and the tools of our Craft. With this rite, I am reaffirmed in my Craft and made ready for the renewal of life in the coming Spring."
He passed the broom through the smoke from the burning herbs, waved the end over the cauldron and said, "May this besom be cleansed so that nothing cast out of the circle can return and cling to it. So mote it be!"
All in attendance murmured "So mote it be!"
Pansy, mistress of Parkinson House, stepped out of the inner circle to walk slowly around the circle; each small face eagerly hung on her every word.
"Picture yourself a farmer in northern Europe hundreds of years ago. In the depth of winter, the fields are frozen and your food stores are running frighteningly low. Firewood stocks are quickly depleting. You watch helplessly as your children pale from lack of sunlight and grow thinner by the week. They wake up each morning crying from limbs numbed by the chill, and go to bed at night complaining of rumbling stomachs. Each day is a struggle for your family's survival against hunger and cold.
"Then something begins to change. Slowly, the days grow noticeably longer. The Sun, like an old friend, comes back to melt the frost that envelopes the land. The season of lambing comes abruptly, bringing a new, much needed food source: milk. Suddenly you know that your family will make it through the winter, you begin preparations for the new growing season."
Hermione Granger held a cup of milk reverently in both hands, raised it above her head and intoned:
"We celebrate Imbolg tonight,
And welcome the feast of waxing light!
In the shortest days and darkest nights,
There always remains a spark of light.
Father Sky and Mother Earth,
Provide for all with life's rebirth."
She took a sip from the cup and then passed it to the others in the inner circle, who took a small sip. The children in the larger circle drank from their own cups.
"Now the light is lengthening days,
Let us brighten our home, and set each lamp ablaze.
To the dark and the winter we bid goodbye,
as the Sun comes back to brighten our lives!"
Little Odin, dressed in his miniature version of the druid vestments excitedly asked, "Now?"
Remus smiled and nodded and pandemonium ensued as the sprogs ran to their rooms and the classrooms and the kitchen lighting every lamp in the manor until every room glowed with a soft, warm, flickering light.
They all reformed the large outer circle and cheered as only delighted children can.
Millicent held her wand aloft and shouted above the pandemonium:
"Farewell to the winter! Farewell to the cold!
In with the new, out with the old!
Greetings to the light, bright and warm,
Goodbye to the dark! Negative energy be gone!
If hereabout any lingers or creeps,
It shall be banished as the besom doth sweep!"
Each child took his or her own besom, passed it above the cauldron, then deployed into every room, every corner of the old mansion. Some had brooms with long handles allowing them to sweep the walls and ceilings. No surface area was ignored, not even the closets.
Never before had the old mansion been subjected to such a joyful scouring!
As one body the residents and guests of Parkinson house swept all the negative magical energy out the large double doors.
No one wanted to linger over-long in the cold February night and soon everyone was back inside.
When Pansy closed the doors everyone cheered their combined effort.
Harry uncovered two large canvases with magical paintings of lively Celtic musicians and singers and soon the circle was reformed, but this time it was a dancing circle.
Gregory Goyle sang "The Ould Woman of Wexford," his clear tenor voice echoing in the great room.
"Ah, one day she went to a doctor
Some medicine for to find.
She said 'Will you give me something
That'll make my old man blind?'
Says he, 'Give him eggs and marrow-bones
And make him sup them all,
And it won't be very long after
That he won't see you at all.'
So she fed him eggs and marrow-bones
And she made him sup them all,
And it wasn't so very long after,
That he couldn't see the wall.
Says th'old man, 'I think I'll drown myself,
But that might be a sin.'
Says she, 'I'll come along with you
And I'll help to shove you in.'
Well, the old woman she stood back a bit
For to rush and push him in,
But the old man gently stepped aside,
And she went tumblin' in.
Oh, how loudly did she yell
And how loudly did she bawl
'Arra, hold your whist, y'old woman,
Sure I can't see you at all.'
Ah, sure eggs are eggs and marrow-bones
Will make your old man blind,
But if you want to drown him,
You must creep up close behind!"
The party would be remembered for years, and not just because of the festivities.
Harry crossed his arms, palms inward, touching his shoulders and inclined his head to the Druid.
"Brother David?" he asked.
"Yes Brother Harry?"
"I have a message for you."
"Well, um, I don't know if you knew her, but Nymphadora Tonks Lupin."
The druid paled and sat heavily on a short bench used by the children at meal times.
Harry fretted that he'd upset the holy man.
"When did Dora speak to you, Harry?"
"It was in a dream, on the night my son was born. I was walking along a road that followed the contour of the joining of two hills."
"Were the hills grass covered?" a pleasant female voice asked.
Harry turned and saw Bellanca for the first time out of her Vestal vestments.
"Just Bellanca now, Harry. Was there a bridge, a stone bridge with a short wall?"
"You visited the Elysian Fields; someone who had passed on needed to talk to you."
Harry nodded, "A few people, actually."
The Druid looked at Harry and asked, "What did Dora say?"
"She said it's all right for you to love again, more than all right, necessary. Does that make sense to you, Brother?"
The tonsured man lowered his head and his shoulders shook. Harry felt uncomfortable seeing the older man apparently crying, but then heard not sobbing, but chuckling."
"Oh Dora, only you would go through such lengths to ensure my happiness."
He looked up, first at Harry, then at Bella then at nothing in particular as he said "Thank you Dora, I will always love you."
Bella covered his shoulders with her arm.
Harry had an epiphany that night, his mage's sight saw through the glamours and disguises and he saw the couple before him for who they really were. In a very few seconds he went through the entire gamut of emotions before a reassuring presence, perhaps Ginny, perhaps Sirius, calmed him.
A lot of people had died the night Tom Riddle fell.
And yes, even Bellatrix Lestrange
But death and life were not constants wherein magic was concerned.
Ginny was gone, but she remained, a bright spark, as long as he remembered her.
The people that had been Remus and Bellatrix were gone, and in there places were two gentle, loving, healing souls - or rather healing halves of a single soul.
He would be content to spend the next few years in Perth with his wife and son and godson.
He placed a hand on the old werewolf's shoulder and said "She also told me that you should spend as much time with Teddy as you can. He will be in Perth with Andromeda and Hermione and me for the next few years, but I can get an international portkey for you to visit as often as you like."
Remus smiled through his tears and thanked Harry from the bottom of his grateful heart.
"Hogwarts will be here when we return for James and Teddy's first year."
Blaise had had a full night. Karl lay bruised and bleeding on the small bed, Mitsi sat next to him and wondered what she'd ever seen in the abusive squib. She looked back at Blaise, beautiful, exotic and twisted as a pretzel.
"Take me with you."
"As my, what: legal secretary, Girl Friday, or whore in residence?"
"Any, all. I don't care - as long as I'm away from this, away from him."
"What are you willing to do for me?"
"Whatever you ask."
Blaise nodded to Karl.
Mitsy nodded. She stood, retrieved her wand and leaned over the man's bruised and bleeding face.
"It hurts, baby, don't it?"
Karl nodded and whimpered.
"Mitsy will make it better."
At that moment the man realized just how much he needed this witch, and he ached at the thought of his previous abuses.
"Ahm gonna be good to you, baby,"he slurred through broken teeth, "from now on I'm gonna. . ."
He never got a chance to finish.
She grabbed a handful of hair, jerked his head back and sliced his throat and windpipe with a cutting spell.
Karl tried to plead for his life, but could only manage a sickening, sucking gurgle.
"May we go now my Dark Lady?"
S/He liked the sound of that.