The aftermath of the BSotS failed attack on Parkinson House - the sprogs are re-united with family.
Chapter 25 - The Drugs Don't Work
The headquarters of the Benevolent Sons of the Serpent, Theodore's London home, was unplottable and under a fidelius charm. Blaise was the secret keeper. The self-named Dark Lady side-along apparated to the spacious flat with Mitsy Rolfe, who, in turn, carried Theodore Nott, still a transfigured yellow snake.
Blaise placed a gentle hand on Mitsy's shoulder, "My love, will you send portkeys to the second-tier sons? There are eight of them."
"Of course my Lady."
Six of the eight came immediately, a seventh was in a ministry holding cell awaiting trial on a non BSotS charge and the eighth was Smythe, who was partnered with a high ranking ministry official and couldn't get away.
"Mitsy, darling, will you excuse us for the afternoon, please? I may have to be harsh with some of our "sons"and I'd rather you not be here for that.
Mitsy sighed and nodded, "I will await your summons my Lady."
Two hours later the Dark Lady stood in the living room of Nott's home surrounded by the mangled corpses of her second echelon. Theo was still alive but his hands and feet were spiked to the wooden floor making him look like a specimen being prepared for dissection.
"Someone betrayed me, Theo. If it was you then tell me now and save yourself no end of pain."
Knott whimpered, "I never did, Blaise, mate, you know that, you gotta know that!"
If Theodore thought having railroad spikes driven through his hands and feet was painful it was because he'd lacked a sense of scale. The pain of stigmata receded to a dull throb as every living nerve ending in his body was pierced by a white hot wire. He didn't just scream, he shrieked until his throat was raw.
"Only those who love me more than their own lives call me Blaise! To you I am the Dark Lady!"
Theodore looked about wildly, there had to be a way out of this.
"My - my Lady, please," he sobbed, desperate for a reprieve, "I was betrayed too! Who knew we were going to be there?"
"What are you implying?" Blaise pressed, dangerously.
"We were ambushed . . . ambushed by aurors! Doesn't that mean . . ."
"Smythe!" the Dark Lady cried, then knelt down on the floor next to the Theodore, who still trembled in shock from the prolonged cruciatus curse.
Blaise Zabini was a chess player- usually two moves ahead of the other players. Looking down at Theodore's tortured face the Dark Lady had an epiphany, one that would, in time, bring ultimate victory. It was time to shift the pawn.
"Oh Theo, I'm so sorry! I should have known Smythe was just too good to be true, I should have known better than to let an auror so close to the inner circle!"
Blaise became very solicitous toward Theodore. The spikes were vanished and Theo was levitated to the enormous bed in the master bedroom.
"This is going to hurt, sweetie, and I'm sorry, but it's the best way to get your hands and feet healed."
Theo went into shock as all the bones of his hands and feet were magically removed, then nearly choked on the insanely bitter Skele-Gro potion.
"It's going to be a long night, Theo, but Mitsy and I will help you through it."
Blaise transfigured the six corpses into china dolls, then packed them all away in a trunk. Later the Dark Lady would drop the weighted trunk into the Thames.
A few basic housecleaning and furniture restoring spells and the flat was pristine once more - not even ahint of the carnage remained. Blaise even knew some good air freshening charms.
Mitsy returned in answer to her summons and looked worriedly at her Dark Mistress.
"Is everything all right my Lady?"
"Please, my love, call me Blaise."
"Are you alright my, ah, Blaise?"
"We are going to have to rebuild the organization. We have been betrayed."
Mitsy's eyes grew dark. "Who, my Lady?"
Blaise looked at Mitsy, the Dark Lady's most faithful disciple, and sighed.
"What would you do, my love?"
"I would kill them."
And therein was the reason for Zabini's troubled sigh.
"Mitsy, love, you are the one good thing in my life. You have never taken a life and that is one of the things I cherish most about you."
"I - I could kill. . ."
Blaise smiled, "No. You might wish someone dead, you might even mean it, but you're no killer."
The woman whom Zabini rescued from her own world of pain, abuse and neglect crumpled at the feet of her beloved Dark Lady and sobbed great hiccoughing sobs.
"I'm so useless, Blaise. What good am I?"
Blaise kneeled and gathered her into a tight embrace.
"You are not a bringer of death, you will be the source of our ultimate victory - you shall snatch life from the very jaws of death."
Mitsy looked into Zabini's dark brown eyes.
"What would you have me do?"
"Carry my child?"
This time Mitsy shrieked for joy and clung even tighter to the center of her universe.
"Yes, Blaise, and gladly!"
Zabini lifted her up and carried her to the great bed where Theodore Nott lay in a troubled sleep. This didn't concern Mitsy in the least; she was used to sharing Blaise with other men.
Mitsy accepted the deep violet beaker of potion without question. She assumed it would be a fertility brew. She was right, of course.
"My Lady, how will we be sure that the baby is yours?"
Blaise took the strongest dose of aphrodisiac to date, so much so that his nerve endings began to buzz.
"Theo is not feeling well, my love. We're just here to comfort him through the night as his bones re-grow."
"You are merciful and kind my Lady, my love."
Blaise nodded, completely convinced of the truth of that.
Millicent Bulstrode was six years old when her older brother, Sean, had been brought home. He'd been playing broom-tag with his mates in Hogsmeade and had followed one of them into the dark forest where they had both flown into a web as big as a cargo net. Sean threw himself across his smaller chum to shield the boy from the horrors that ran up the web to feed.
It had worked. Her brother had taken all the venom. By the time the adult wizards had rushed in to kill the acromantulae Sean's internal organs were just so much goo, liquefied by venom.
He'd been levitated home by four solemn neighbors and Millie felt so utterly helpless.
Millie was six years old again as four wizards levitated Greg through the gates of Hogwarts. She felt so helpless.
Great bloodied plasters of medicinal smelling moss and linen were wrapped around his neck and shoulder.
Millie was shaken from her grief by McGonagall's authority. When the headmistress had gotten the girl's attention she spoke more softly.
"Walk with them, talk to Mister Goyle, he needs an anchor to keep him with us. Hearing your voice will be the best thing for him right now."
"You mean, he's not - not. . ."
"Not if our healer has anything to say about it, but . . . he's in a bad way. Help him, if you can."
She walked beside his levitated body all the way up to the hospital wing.
"Greg, guess what? Our baby, it's a girl - she's gonna be beautiful. You're going to spoil her rotten and chase away all the boys who come sniffing around and she'll have you wrapped around her little finger and . . ."
And so Millie kept her one-sided conversation going even as Madame Pomfrey worked her magic on his wounds. The healer stepped away from the alumnus to confide in the headmistress.
"I would normally have shooed her away by now but I don't think much of Mister Goyle's chances."
"We may have a solution for you, Healer Pomfrey."
Both women were startled as Eliza Shakespeare appeared at their elbow along with her newest charge, the vampiress T'Shauna.
Earlier that day:
Eliza was in a very dark place. She held fast to the feral vampiress pinning the struggling youngling's arms to her sides. The starving vampire howled in pain and grief and frustration. Eliza recognized the landscape, fire, brimstone, the wails of the damned acacophony in the background.
She was in Hell.
The fact that Hell only existed in her mind made it no less real. Some part of her believed to her core that she deserved to be here.
"I thought the same thing, young one."
The snarling vampiress stopped. There was someone else there, someone else /real/.
Eliza relaxed her grip, but didn't let go.
"Someone who has walked the night for half a millennium."
"No, but I hope to meet her someday, I think we'll have much to discuss."
"The hunger, the burning pain, you took it away?"
"You're feeding on me right now so, yes, I have taken your hunger away."
"You are the Goddess!"
"Fine, if that's what you want to believe."
"I only wanted to have some fun, y'know? All these beautiful vampires parading in and out of the place and Iwanted some of that too."
Eliza looked carefully at her companion.
"I thought you looked familiar, you were at Ian's?"
"Yes, Goddess, I'm T'Shauna, my family emigrated from Ethiopia, it's very bad there for Jews, and I worked hard and made good grades and won a grant to go to university but it was still too expensive and some of my friends said they made good money and had "endowments"with clients at their restaurant so I applied."
Eliza commended the girl on her ability to talk in run-on sentences.
The dark vampiress blushed; she really wasn't much more than a child, even by human standards.
"I was not at work when Ian's burned."
Eliza pulled her thick hair from her face, showing her scarred cheek, mostly healed.
"Oh, Goddess, you're hurt!"
"I'm mostly healed, I want to find the people who set the fire and when I do there won't be a drop left in them."
"Nott." The girl said.
"No, not /not/, Nott, aname, somebody named Nott set the blaze. Oh, and someone named "Blaze" was involved as well."
Eliza smiled, "the Benevolent Sons of the Serpent."
"Yes, that's it. I heard it from the vampire who turned me, he was very, um, easy to convince."
"That was the potion; it's also part of what made you so easy to set on the short-lifes today."
"Oh, Goddess, I'm so sorry."
"Be at peace, daughter, it wasn't you, it was them."
"How may I make this right?"
"You may be asked to help, if so, will you?"
"Of course. Goddess."
T'Shauna opened her eyes and found she was being embraced by two women, and a tall, thin man who smelled like a wet dog.
Millicent was in mid-babble about how much fun it would be to dress up their little witch in dresses and shoes when she looked up to see four women. Madame Pomfrey, Headmistress McGonagall, and two strikingly beautiful creatures.
Madame Pomfrey spoke.
"Miss Bulstrode, I understand you are bonded to Mister Goyle?"
"Then it is in your power to make decisions for him in the event that he can't."
The big girl nodded.
"Miss Bulstrode, Mister Goyle was attacked by a vampire. We've done what we can, we've completely replaced his own blood with restorative draughts but he is still on the brink. He may very well die, unless. . ."
"Unless the vampire who attacked him shares some of her blood with him."
Millicent thought hard for amoment, "but, then he'll become a vampire too?"
The two women next to the healer nodded.
"He would see his daughter born."
There was a long pause as Millie digested this.
Finally she shook her head and said,"No. 'Cause he'd also see her grow old and die and all her children and their children's children."
A single bloody tear coursed down T'Shauna's dark cheek. She no longer had family. Vampires were shunned in her human family's society. After a while the young vampiress spoke.
"Yes, perhaps it is better that he not become like us."
"But I don't want to lose him!"
Eliza stepped forward.
"You'll never lose him, Millicent. If he moves on you'll see him again, and soon."
"I don't want to live without him."
"And what of the life growing within you, don't you want to see her?"
"Of course," she said, sniffing.
"Then live! You have something better than someone to die for, you have someone to live for, and in so doing you'll honor Greg, no matter what happens here."
Millicent sat in the chair beside Greg's bed.
"He's so cold, and I'm all talked out."
"Does he like music?" T'Shauna asked.
"He likes B*Witched and Verve."
"Oh," the dark vampiress enthused, "I love "Urban Hymns"."
"Really? That's his favorite!"
"Oh if we only had a CD player here!"
"The. . .Drugs. . .Don't. ..Work."
All five women in the room gaped at Gregory Goyle.
"Hey. . . baby. How's. . . our. . . baby?"
"She's fine! Oh Greg!"
Madame Pomfrey smiled, "all right now, shoo, everyone, shoo!"
"Shoo all you want, Madame Pomfrey, I ain't goin' nowhere!"
The healer huffed but relented.
"Just don't get in my way!"
"She . . .?"
The next day dawned like afirestorm in the Ministry of Magic. The Benevolent Sons of the Serpent, had been revealed for what they really were, another rising dark force in Wizarding Britain. To have a dark mage so close on the heels of Tom Riddle's reign was too much. The public demanded action.
Shacklebolt was granted full executive powers by a two-thirds majority in the Wizengamot - those casting opposing votes found themselves under heavy scrutiny. Half the dissenting ballots were from wizards and witches who genuinely felt that giving Kingsley so much power smacked of Empire, they were left untouched.
The other opposing votes were linked to BSotS activities and were summarily removed from the august body pending full inquiries.
Most of them would flee the country before the month was out.
As time went on more and more people came forward to testify against the "Benevolent Sons," and to seek reparations from assets seized by the ministry.
It was more than a little disturbing that the Dark Lady herself hadn't been apprehended. Neither had her lieutenant, Theodore Nott the Third.
Bella and Remus were more than happy to exchange the Odin golem for their own flesh and blood Odie. He shrieked with joy as he saw his Mum and Da and Mummy Pansy. The energetic little pup nearly bowled over the werewolf with his infectious enthusiasm. Soon Bella and Remus's "Brother David" persona and Pansy were surrounded by squealing sprogs.
The Hogwarts students were saddened to see the little ones go. Many of them had no siblings at home and were thrilled to have little brothers and sisters to visit when they went to Hogsmeade.
The Hogwarts Big Brothers and Sisters organization met for the first time that weekend. Everyone there wished it could have been a happier occasion. Luna Lovegood dispatched her hare patronus twice, first to Hogwarts, then to Parkinson House.
Someone had taken two children.
Odin and Alison had been portkeyed out of Hogsmeade.
Author's Note: this chapter's title comes from one of the 1998 chart-toppers in the UK "The Drugs Don't Work" by the British group, The Verve.
Yep, the coin came up heads. I, for one, am glad.