The DMLE gets information from a Benevolent Son. Eliza gets information from Armand. Greg gets a warning from Theo and Remus and Bella and Pansy and Millie and Greg share what they know. Welcome...
Eliza was subtle; she had Gustavo on his back while she appeared to ride his inert body. Her burn scars were fading, having eaten more in this one sitting than she’d had in the past month since the attack that had killed her beloved Ian and disfigured her.
“Bella, you have to try some of this!”
The younger vampiress left the two young men in a pheromone induced stupor, making sure their watchers could see the bite marks on their legs near their obvious states of arousal.
As Bella took small sips from Gustavo’s chilling body she remarked to herself that a little garlic could be a good thing. But this? Eliza would have heartburn for a week!
“Spicy,” she said aloud, then placed her hand on Eliza’s arm to reestablish their telepathic connection.
“You were careful, granddaughter, not to drink their blood?”
“Yes, ancestress, even the little taste I got made me a bit nervous, how much of that potion will it take to affect us?”
“Diluted as it is by the donor’s own blood I’d say a good feeding’s worth.”
“I think the potion is a mild compulsion enhancing draught, the flavor is similar to liquid imperius, but even more subtle.”
“Very good, most vampires wouldn’t notice that.”
“I’ll bet you did.”
“Oh yes, you don’t get to the half millennium mark being careless.”
“Let’s just lie among the bodies and see what happens.”
Bella crawled between the scantily clad girls while Eliza snuggled into the arms of the young men.
They’d lain like that for three-quarters of an hour when the door opened.
“Two more putas for the Dark Lady,” Armand said to another man with a sneer, “hey, Chulo, this is what happens when you use a coño for a brain!”
He looked at his bouncer and laughed, “Lupo, chingar estupido! Lupo looks like he got fucked to death over there.”
Chulo shook Gustavo by the shoulder then jumped back.
“/Jesus Cristo!/ He’s dead!”
Armand reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a wand.
“Ah, a wizard, I see.” Eliza said from behind him. She’d moved so fast that the Spaniard hadn’t noticed her. One second she was on the ground, the next she was within killing range.
“We’re going to talk now. I’m going to ask questions. As long as I like your answers you get to live. Understand?”
Armand’s mind raced. She wanted him alive for questioning. If he didn’t make any sudden moves he might just live.
“Chulo?” he called, nervously.
“Look to your left.”
Bella had Chulo’s head bent at an unnatural angle as she drained him of his life’s blood.
“I’m afraid my great-granddaughter was a little hungry, surrounded by all that tainted blood. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling a pit peckish myself right about now.”
“How can I walk out of here alive?”
“Tell me who runs this place.”
“BSOS Incorporated, you know them as the Benevolent Sons of the Serpent.”
“They bought this place?”
“The Dark Lady did, she is much woman, yes.”
“Did she burn Ian’s?”
“Yes, he would not pay the dues. He was estupido, everyone pays, I pay. That’s how I stay in business.”
“Where does the livestock come from?”
“Mostly youth hostels, a lot of Americans want to see Europe cheap; they bring everything in a backpack. We steal the backpack and they need money. We offer them jobs.”
“What potions do you use?”
“I don’t know, but without it most of them would run from your kind screaming, this makes them more, ah, suggestible. The Dark lady gives us the potion.”
“And what happens to the vampires that feed on your tainted entrees?”
“They too become . . . suggestible.”
Eliza stepped back a pace and looked away, shocked that a human would seek to control any of her kind. Armand felt her move away and seized his chance. He pulled a crucifix from his pocket and shoved it into the vampire’s face.
She cowered and made the requisite hissing noises as Armand, the would-be vampire hunter, advanced on her. As soon as he came within easy reach she used her preternatural speed to pluck the wand out of his hand. Eliza grabbed his other wrist and brought the crucifix to her own lips to kiss it.
“I love Hollywood,” she laughed, “it makes idiots think they have a chance against us.”
“Y’know, Armand, I really was going to just let you go, but now, I have to get the taste of that garlic eater out of my mouth.”
“Who owns this place?”
“And the proprietress out front?”
“She is charmed to ignore the sanguinaria. Her enchantment is only to see you as “special” customers who need my attention.”
“What of the livestock?”
“We obliviate them and let them go as we find new touristas.”
“One more thing, who runs the sanguinaria?”
“Just us senorita, me and Gustavo and Chulo.”
“The others of my kind, the ones who have been fed potion, what’s happened to them?”
“Senorita Zabini, she knows, I do not.”
“Thank you. Bella?”
“Nearly done here, ancestress.”
“Are you still hungry?”
Blood dripped from her fangs as she smiled eagerly.
Senior Auror Brian Wright settled into the watch desk with forced calm. Right on schedule the well dressed Benevolent Son walked into the duty area. It took an inordinate force of will for Brian to not simply start the interrogation in earnest, now where had he left those thumb-screws?
“Good evening, Senior Auror Wright. Have you had a chance to look over the materials I brought you last time?”
“Evening, Mister Bletchley. It was good of you to provide a list of your members, a very distinguished group, I must say.”
“Those are the associate members, witches and wizards who, like you, are concerned by the, um, inclusive policies of the present administration and are working toward change.”
“Through peaceful, political means, of course.” The auror offered.
Bletchley beamed, “I’m so glad we understand each other.”
Auror Wright looked thoughtful for a moment and seemed to come to a decision.
“Would you be willing to talk to Commander Pierce? He’s a highly respected senior officer; if we can get him on board the whole division could be persuaded to join the Benevolent Sons.”
It was everything Bletchley could do to appear calm, Merlin’s Beard! Recruit the whole division? The Dark Lady would reward him beyond measure!
“Could we arrange a meeting with Commander Pierce?”
Senior Auror Wright smiled, setting the hook. “Of course, but I happen to know he’s working late tonight, why don’t we take a moment to let him know you’re here?”
Bletchley was practically buzzing with anticipation as Wright led him to the conference room where the commander and two other officers poured over documents.
The Senior Auror knocked on the doorframe.
“Commander? This is the young man I told you about. Do you have a minute?”
“Of course, we were just about to have tea, would you join us Mr. Bletchley? You too, Brian.”
Just then Smythe, Commander Pierce’s adjutant, came in with a tray.
“Milk? Sugar?” he asked the guest.
“Just two sugars please.”
The young auror used tongs to pluck two cubes from the sugar bowl, placed them in a cup and poured tea over them. He then poured for the rest of the men at the table. They enjoyed the tea and small talk. When the Benevolent Son had finished half a cup Smythe topped him off.
Pierce knew the combination of calming draught and veritaserum would only take five minutes to render his guest tranquil and accommodating.
“Now, Mr. Bletchley, tell us about the Sons of the Serpent.”
“We’re a consortium of citizens, business owners, and community leaders with a single goal in mind,” he paused for effect, taking a sip of tea as he did, “the return of pure blood privilege.”
“I see, and what of the half bloods and muggleborns?”
“Half-bloods will be tolerated, but never allowed into positions of real authority. Mudbloods will be marginalized before they are purged.”
The commander smiled, “Would it interest you to know that I am a muggleborn?”
Bletchley seemed saddened at the news, “that’s unfortunate, you will, of course, have to go.”
“Tell me, Bletchley, what happens to people, say, business owners who cannot or will not accept your world view.”
“We destroy them?”
“Arson, murder, rape is a good weapon.”
“Have you taken part in any of these acts of coercion?”
“Oh yes, I’m first echelon. To be first rank you must be an active enforcer.”
“How many have you killed?”
Bletchley paused to count, “four, so far. We are planning something special around the end of this month.”
The commander leaned forward, “what exactly?”
“I don’t really know, but the Dark Lady told us, y’know, first level folks, to be ready to create some mayhem.”
“You seem rather anxious.”
“It’s good to blow off steam, y’know?”
“Were you blowing off steam last month at the MacMillan’s home?”
“Oh yes, that was good.”
“Who else was there?”
The commander’s secretary took notes, as did the four verbatim quills in the room. Once Bletchley had told everything he knew the two obliviators in the room adjusted his memory so that he would only remember that he’d had tea with the Commander and had made an appointment for later that month to pitch the Benevolent Sons at the next division meeting.
When the Benevolent Son of a Bitch was gone the aurors exchanged glances.
Pierce looked at his senior officers, “Dark Lady?”
Wright shrugged, “There’s always someone waiting in the wings to pick up where the last one left off.”
“We need someone in there.”
The adjutant cleared his throat, “Sir?”
“Before I became a tea service I earned top marks in covert operations and infiltration at the academy, sir.”
“Are you volunteering, Smythe?”
“Yes, sir, I am.”
“Sit down, Mr. Smythe, have some tea.”
Gregory Goyle was walking through Hogsmeade, heading for the outskirts of the village. He was nervous. Theodore Nott had contacted him, telling Greg that he needed to not be anywhere near Parkinson House the around Ostara, the Vernal Equinox. Goyle may not have been the brightest flame in the candelabra but he knew it didn’t bode well for Millie and Pansy and the sprogs. He wanted to tell someone outside of Parkinson House, but he didn’t know who. Everywhere he looked he saw businesses flying Notts “Benevolent Sons” flags, or wearing the purple wrist bands signifying membership in the BS organization.
First thing, though, he had to tell the girls. Then figure out who else they could trust. He wished to Merlin he could contact Potter, but he was in Australia of all places.
He was going to tell the aurors what he knew of Nott and his band of followers but the first maroon-robed auror he saw also sported the purple wristband. He spun and walked away as fast as he could without attracting attention to himself. As he neared the outskirts of town the old Crabbe Manor house, once so foreboding, now so warm and welcoming, came into view. He sped up until he was almost running. He practically collided with Millicent coming out the front door to greet him. Fortunately they were both made of stout stuff and neither was hurt. He was practically sobbing in relief, seeing her there and whole.
“What’s the matter, baby?” she asked, concerned.
Greg wrapped Millie in a tight embrace and just managed to choke out, “Pansy, we gotta talk to Pansy!”
Millie held him until he could compose himself. Someone had terrified Greg, you could threaten or beat or torture her big guy and he wouldn’t break, but you could get to him through those he loved. The thought of anything happening to her or any of the sprogs terrified him. He knew now that they were okay, and smoldering anger bordering on a berserker rage lurked just below the surface.
“Better?” she asked, solicitously.
Gregory wiped away his tears with the back of his hand.
“You must think I’m a right ponce.” He mumbled, embarrassed at his emotional outburst.
“Never. I’ll call Panz, why don’t you send an owl to Rita?”
Soon Pansy, Millie and Gregory were sitting around the table sharing tea. Rita came in, out of breath, her hair in disarray. She’d obviously rushed over.
“I came as soon as I could, what’s up?”
Pansy started, “I’ve been noticing a pattern. The Sons of the Serpent move into an area. Pretty soon all the businesses that don’t join them suffer all manner of bad luck. Fires, robberies, even physical attacks on employees and customers.”
Rita was quick on the uptake, “Someone from the Benevolent Sons came to see you?”
“Yeah, I didn’t say no, but I didn’t say yes either.”
“Might as well have been a “no,” far as the Sons of the Serpent are concerned.”
“Now Greg’s old mate, Theo, tells him it’s unhealthy for him to be here.”
The young man in question held tightly to both Millie’s hands and said with absolute conviction, “I ain’t goin’ nowhere!”
“First things first,” Pansy said, “we gotta keep the sprogs safe. Professor McGonagall said we can go to Hogwarts if an emergency comes up. I think this is a good time. We’ll have a few golems or simulacrums around to convince the Sons of the Snake they’re still here.”
“How much time do y’think we have?” Millie asked.
All eyes went to Gregory, who shrugged, “Theo said I needed to be out before the equinox.”
“That gives us a week, maybe ten days.” Pansy said.
“I have a friend in the Auror Corps, I think it’s time I called in a few favors.”
“Will he help us?” Pansy asked.
“Oh, I think he will, he’s a randy old goat and he likes me – says I remind him of this muggle actress, Miranda somebody or other.” She snorted, “Really, do I look like a “Miranda” to you?”
“What’s his name?”
“Pierce, Randy Pierce.” She said with a snicker.
Just then Odin ran from his room howling “Mummy, Daddy!” and then burst out of the dining hall and into the night.
The tall druid swung his adopted son up into the air and cried “Hullo pup! Didja miss us?”
The little boy just shrieked and laughed, “I knew you was coming, I smelt ya!”
Remus turned to Bella and said, “Either our boy has a great nose or we are in desperate need of a bath!”
“Speak for yourself, husband, I’m always clean and fresh!”
“Well, fresh perhaps. . .”
The newlyweds walked into the dining area and saw four smiling faces.
“Welcome home, we’ve quite a bit to tell you.”
Remus and Bella shared a significant look, “We’ve quite a bit to tell you as well.”
Then Remus, Bella, Gregory, Pansy, Millie and Rita all said together, as if on cue, “It’s about the Sons of the serpent.”
The six adults looked gobsmacked. Odie laughed and said, “That was funny, say it again.”
Author’s note: Synchronicity, a phenomenon that occurs when several seemingly unrelated parts of a puzzle suddenly fall into place to form a picture.
In this case it doesn’t bode well for Zabini and company.