Chapter 20 - Recruiting
Theodore Nott the Third was many things. He was the Scion of the Noble House of Nott. Well, he would be if his house hadn't fallen into shambles, literally, figuratively and financially as aresult of the last war.
He was a trusted lieutenant and advisor to the rising Dark Lady. Okay Blaise Zabini wasn't exactly a lady, but she, um, he, oh whatever, at least outwardly resembled a dark skinned, drop dead gorgeous fox right out of the music videos. S/he knew s/he was a prick tease, but Theo knew this particular he-she had block and tackle of his own. The thought made him shudder.
He was second in command to the rising political entity that was the Benevolent Sons of the Serpent; the public face was kind and charitable. Their real face was plain and simple racketeering, extortion, and terror. Blaise managed to coerce a minority of the Wizengamont's seats, leaving that august body ham-strung. Minister Shacklebolt's administration became mired in procedure.
Today Theo was tasked with adding Parkinson House to the ranks of the BSOS. It should be simple, extend"protection" to the orphanage and once established there, recruit as many of the pureblood children as possible.
Greg and Millie were at the Farmer's Market in Campelltown, buying a truckload of potatoes and fresh snap beans, so Pansy was the only one there when Theo came to the door.
"Just walk away, Nott."
"Now don't be that way Pansy, look, we got off on the wrong foot last time, /mea culpa/, y'know? Lem'me make it up to you, okay?"
The dark-haired girl crossed her arms but didn't say no.
"Can I come in?"
Pansy shrugged and stepped back from the open door.
"Wow," Theo said, looking around at the mansion turned home for the war orphans, "love what you've done with the place."
Pansy's expression didn't change; she looked at Nott implacably, waiting for him to say something.
"Look, I've got a really sweet deal going on now. You've heard of the Benevolent Sons?"
Pansy inclined her head.
"Well I'm one of the founders of the BSOS, and I don't know if you know it, but every business that flies our banner is under our protection. They haven't been robbed or vandalized or burned to the ground."
Pansy finally spoke, "Nott, this isn't a business, it's a home. We don't make a profit here; we break even on good months. Success here means no one goes to bed hungry."
"Yeah, but you see, you've got all these kids, they're like the next generation for magical Britain, right?"
Pansy shrugged. "The Prophet says we've got about ten percent of their generation."
"Yeah, but we've got the makin's of leaders here, just think, all under one roof. Train em' up right and they'll be runnin' the BSOS in a few years."
Theo smiled at his own self-aggrandizement, "see, we're not thinkin' about tomorrow, we're thinkin'about the day after that and the day after that!"
"And what will you be teaching them?"
"The same things our parents taught us, pureblood rule, might makes right, y'know."
Pansy nodded, "Let me think about it."
"Sure, sure, take your time." He extended his hand which she pointedly ignored. He drew his hand back and ran his splayed fingers through his hair. "I'll just see m'self out then."
The dark haired girl nodded.
Michael MacMillan returned home from a late session at his office to find his wife, Debbie, laid out on the living room rug, half a dozen potions' bottles around her. He wanted to scream, but what came out was a quietly desperate, "No!"
With strength born of desperation he picked up his wife, the center of his universe for twenty years, and apparated to the lobby of St. Mungo's. On his arrival he found his voice.
"Somebody help me here! Somebody! Please!"
Emergency mediwitches and healers swarmed husband and wife, checking her for vital signs, they found a weak pulse the healer in charge placed Debbie in stasis as her assistant started the interview with the husband.
As soon as the husband said the word "potion" the team set to removing and replacing all the blood in her body. If whatever she took hadn't been absorbed by too many vital parts she might pull through.
Less than an hour later she was purged of the combination sleeping draught and oleander brew she'd concocted for herself. Physically she was going to be fine, but she was still dying.
The healers were at a loss.
One young intern, Christianna Prince, left the treatment room and returned with Michael.
Healer Prince, not much more than a girl herself said, "Talk to her Michael, get her to respond."
Michael nodded, "Deb, sweetheart, it's Mike. We need you; me and Ernie, and Renee. If you go away who'll make sure Renee does her homework? Who'll be there to help Ernie get his Apparating license? You know I always leave something behind, have to count my protruding parts."
Debbie's eyelids fluttered open and she focused on her husband.
"Can't let it go, can't get it out of my mind, y'know."
Michael's shoulder racked with sobs, "I know, but it wasn't anything you did, you know that, don't you?"
She went on as if she didn't hear him, "I wash and I wash and I'll never be clean again. Just a dirty used thing. I see it in your eyes every time I look at you. I'm /dirty/."
How could she know that the pain in his eyes was from his own guilt and shame for not properly protecting her? How could he make her see?
She turned to Christina, "can you take it out of my mind? It's right on the surface, easy to get to."
The green robed intern nodded and placed the tip of her wand on Debbie's temple. The memory that came out was not shimmering silver, but dull, metallic grey, like shimmering coal smoke. Just looking at it made her feel uncomfortable. She placed the foul reminiscence in a small crystal bottle and stoppered it.
Debbie sighed, "That's better then."
"Mister and Missus David and Bellanca, um, darling?"
Remus raised his head and looked at his bride and smiled.
"Thewlis, my dear, you are now Mrs. Thewlis. You're married to me and it says right here on my birth record that I was born David Thewlis almost two-score years ago."
"So Remus Lupin is truly dead then?"
"I'm afraid he had to be, dear, but then again so is Bellatrix LeStrange."
"How did you know; /when/did you know?"
The werewolf smirked, "you have adistinctive aroma, and I was intoxicated by it when we were students at Hogwarts."
"So you've known all along?"
"I've known since you rescued me from the incinerator."
Remus took his bride's hands and kissed them both.
"Bellatrix LeStrange died in the last battle, as did Remus Lupin; you are Bellanca Thewlis, bound, betrothed and wed to the happiest Druid on the planet."
A single blood-red tear coursed down Bella's cheek.
"I wish to God and the Goddess that I'd paid more attention to you in school, who knows, I might have become Mrs. Remus Lupin."
"Well, my dear, for better or for worse, you've got me."
"Let's live, husband, let's live while we can, and squeeze the juice out of every day, please!"
The lycan rolled onto his back, pulling his vampire bride on top of him and said, "What a marvelous idea, my lady wife."
Christianna Prince emerged from the penseive and promptly threw up. The images she'd seen, the haunted memories of a good woman, wife and mother as she was repeatedly raped by half adozen hooded men, orchestrated by a veiled woman.
How could one woman do this to another?
Christianna had seen death and suffering, but until the moment she looked at the tortured memories of Debbie MacMillan she'd never truly seen evil.
She recognized the spell that the Dark Lady had cast, preventing the MacMillans from communicating by the written or spoken word the horrors that had been visited upon them. The memories, however, would be there as long as they lived.
Fear and fury galvanized into adesire to see justice done - only then could the real healing begin. Christianna had no delusions; she knew that, having seen the memories, she would likely be marked for death, or worse.
Debbie had preferred death to living with those memories.
The young healer removed her own recent memories of the events and placed them in the penseive before siphoning them all off into the crystal bottle. She labeled the bottle carefully, and then made four copies.
One for the DMLE, one for the Daily Prophet, one for the St. Mungo's archives and one for her own records.
Brian Wright, the senior duty auror slid a chipped coffee mug to his visitor, a well dressed young man -Brian particularly appreciated his visitor's taste and style. The man sported a dragon's head ring on his right hand and wore deep green, square-toed dragon hide shoes. He was personable and easy to talk to. He was refreshingly up-front about his visit, explaining that he was recruiting for the Benevolent Sons of the Serpent.
"I've seen the BSOS written up in the Daily Prophet, sounds like you do a lot of good."
"And we're always looking for a few good wizards and witches, Senior Auror Wright."
"I'm at tea, it's just Brian."
The BSOS man smiled, "Brian it is."
A large screech owl landed on the priority perch and lived up to its name.
"Bloody hell, I wish they'd use barn owls for priority messages. 'Scuse me, mate, duty calls."
"I'll leave you to it, Brian. Ihave to be off meself."
Senior Auror Wright took the package from the owl, which looked balefully at the DMLE man.
"Here you go," Wright said, handing the owl a receipt and a puppy biscuit - the auror might grouse about the old bird but he had a soft spot for him none the less. The feeling was mutual and the screech owl butted Brian's hand before flying off with his receipt.
"I suppose I'd best review the memories before I send em' up."
He unstoppered the bottle and poured the memories into the departmental penseive.
Fifteen minutes later, ashen faced he sat hard on the old wooden chair at his desk. He reached into the bottom drawer and removed an odd, oblate glass bottle that looked like it had been pinched from three sides and took a long pull, and then another, before replacing the bottle.
It was definitely time to retire. He'd seen too much. He saw that poor woman repeatedly raped in front of her family, felt her terror as her child was threatened with the same fate, felt the despair that made her take her own life.
He also saw something from which, perhaps, only he could draw any kind of conclusion.
One of the rapists wore adistinctive ring.
A dragon's head.
On the one hand he felt like Fate's bitch, on the other he knew he held the key to breaking this case and exposing the "Benevolent" sons of bitches for what they really were.
A/N: So the careful fa
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