Jason gets himself a new wand. Pamela Landy makes some unexpected discoveries.
Then he remembered something Hagrid had told him about thestrals. He bent over and whispered, "Find me a witch or wizard who doesn't like your owner."
Jason hung on tight as the thestral swerved and flew deeper into the mountains. It landed near a lonely cabin just as the sun was rising. A woman was standing at the door of the cabin. She was very old, blind and dressed in a long black robe. Even without the wand she was pointing, it would be hard to mistake her for anything but a witch. Beside her was a huge three-headed dog.
“Fred Dobbs, you’ve got your nerve coming here. You and your idiot brothers can just get out fast before I set Typhon on you.”
“Ma’am, I’m not Fred Dobbs. My name is Jason Bourne. I need help.”
“Don’t lie to me, Freddie. I may be blind, but my ears and nose a perfectly good. I can hear your thestrals and smell them. No one around here keeps those things and I know you were in town last week.”
“Please ma’am, listen to me. I know who Fred Dobbs is and I don’t like him any more than you. He was working with the Prince brothers and holding me prisoner. They took my wand and most of my clothes. I had to sort of borrow their thestrals to get away.”
“So you don’t have a wand? Let’s see. Expelliarmus.”
The spell had no effect on Jason as he was not carrying a weapon. The old witch relaxed and her tone became friendlier.
“If you’re in trouble with the Prince brothers, you’ve got a friend here. My name’s Demetra Studyvance. I’ve lived in these woods nearly a hundred years. My husband and I made a good living brewing potions and making wands until Nero Prince came along.”
“Who is Nero Prince?”
“The old man. He moved here from England about fifty years ago. People said that he was a Dark Wizard but I think that he was just like a Muggle gangster, didn’t care about anything but money. He cornered the market on wand cores and potions. When you dealt with Nero Prince you had two choices. You could do his dirty work like Fred Dobbs or he would ruin you. My husband tired to stand up to him but it killed him and left me blind.”
“What happened to Nero Prince?”
“They say he died of Dragon Pox but more likely it was some dark spell gone wrong. His sons are just as bad. Twice as nasty but only half as smart. Well, that’s enough talk for now. What can I do for you?”
“What I really need is a wand.”
“Weren’t you listening to me? To make a wand you need a core. The only way to get a core is to buy it from the Prince brothers. Unless ... yes, it might work.”
Demetra approached Jason and began to run her hands across him. She seemed to he measuring him.
“Thestral hair wands are tricky,” she finally said, “but you’re a big, husky guy and you should be able to handle one. I’ll tell you what. If you work for me for two months I’ll make you a wand.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Odd jobs mostly. Dig the garden, chop wood for the winter, gather herbs.”
Jason did not see that he had much choice.
“Okay, it’s a deal. One more thing, do you have any men’s clothes?”
“I still have some of my husband’s things.”
She waved her wand and a pile of clothes flew out the door and landed at Jason’s feet. There was a pair of boots, woolen socks, a heavy woolen robe and a long linen shirt rather like the hospital gown Jason was wearing.
“Thank you. Uh... your husband, did he ..? What I mean is .... Do you have ...? Are there some underpants I can wear?”
"Underpants? My husband never wore them. Said he liked to feel the breeze on his privates."
Jason suppressed a chuckle.
"Now don't start getting ideas. Typhon here always sleeps at the foot of my bed. Only thing is, all three heads are never asleep at once, if you know what I mean."
Jason pulled on the robe and boots. The boots were large but Demetra flicked her wand and they became a perfect fit. She flicked her wand again and a pair of scissors appeaed. She handed them to Jason and said, “Now, if you ask one of the thestrals nicely, he may let you take a tail hair. Just one though, they don’t like it if you’re greedy.”
Jason approached a thestral, keeping clear of the fearsome jaws and hooves. He snipped off a single hair and jumped back just in time to avoid a kick.
“Now give the hair to me, you’ll have your wand in three months.”
Demetra turned to the thestrals and shouted, “Go on home boys. I don’t want Fred Dobbs calling me a horse thief.”
Jason watched helplessly as the thestrals took flight and vanished over the trees.
As the weeks passed, Jason's escape caused consternation in various corners. The Department of Magic was furious that Jackson Bowerman had failed to renew the deep sleep charm on Jason. He insisted that he had renewed it every day without fail but the fact remained that Jason was gone. Bowerman was suspended pending a full investigation.
Word of the furore reached Harry in England. He was not a suspect for the moment. The silent memory charm he had used on Bowerman was hard to detect and very few wizards knew it. Unfortunately one of those wizards was Kingsley Shacklebolt and Harry had learned the trick from him. Harry decided that it was best to keep a low profile for a while. Jason was quite capable of looking after himself.
Pamela Landy was equally furious at Jason's disappearance. The story was complete nonsense. According to the official report he had recovered consciousness without warning, disabled the alarm system, climbed through a window and over the wall, ran off through the woods and evaded a tracking team wearing nothing but a hospital gown. Then he had simply vanished. The home had been in the kind of area where even a few clothes stolen off a line would be reported but the local sheriff had heard nothing.
The obvious explanation was that Jason had been assassinated, but even that did not fit the facts. Security at the convalescent home was minimal. It would have been easy for someone to slip a heart stopping drug into Jason's intravenous. What was the point of setting up an elaborate charade of Jason escaping through the woods?
The Prince brothers and Dr. Hirsch, on the other hand, were rather pleased with the situation. Leaving Jason in Demetra's cabin was an improvement on Hirsch's original plan. Harry Potter would still come to rescue Jason sooner or later and it would be far easier to stage an ambush deep in the hills. Dr. Hirsch still had some concerns.
"Suppose he escapes on his own again?” Hirsch asked. “It can't be hard to escape from and old blind woman, even if she is a witch."
"Then he'll have to walk twenty miles to the nearest Floo network connection which happens to belong to a friend of ours who, unlike the Dobbs brothers, is competent and reliable," Tiberius said.
"What if he Apparates away."
"You need a wand to Apparate. We have his and the old witch isn't going to give him hers."
"She could make him a new wand."
"With what? Tiberius gloated. “We control the supply of core materials."
Meanwhile, Jason was earning his wand the hard way. Days of chopping wood with a broad axe were hardening his muscles after his enforced rest. He took and old black powder rifle and shot a deer so that he and Demetra could have fresh meat. Gathering herbs and mushrooms was harder. Demetra and Typhon could gather some herbs by touch or smell but there were others that could only be indentified by sight. Demetra tried to describe the herbs she needed, but it was hard to get it exactly right. Sometimes Jason would return from a day in the woods only to have half the contents of his basket discarded.
Pamela Landy spent most of a day going through the entire Jason Bourne file with increasing unease. Something was wrong but she could not quite place it. It was not anything in the file itself. Indeed, some of the incidents seemed less strange than she had remembered them. Then she realized that the file had been scrubbed. Someone had deleted or changed the accounts of the the most inexplicable events.
Record tampering was a major security breach and there were strict protocols in place to prevent it. She called up the log of everyone who had accessed the Bourne file. One name caught her attention. An agent named Wayne Hartman had accessed the file on the very night that Hirsch had been murdered. Hartman had not worked on the Bourne file before or since.
She questioned Hartman and he denied touching the file or even going near the records centre that night. The records clerk told a different story. Hartman had indeed looked at the Bourne file. She remembered that he seemed very nervous and had not been wearing his wedding ring. Hartman's supervisor told yet another story. Hartman had gone the supply room to get a binder and about an hour later he had been found passed out. The doctor thought it must have been a bad case of food poisoning.
"Who found him?" Pamela asked.
"An internal security analyst called Septimus Brankovitch. A bit of a weird character as I recall, even for one of computer boys."
Pamela had her first real lead. The internal security analysts were the only people who had the kind of computer access that would enable them to bypass security protocols and tamper with a file. She would question Mr. Brankovitch herself, but first she needed to review his personnel file.
After three months Jason got his wand. Demetra measured him and told him to find a branch of a willow that was straight and clear. He led her to the tree and turned his back while she performed a secret spell. Jason cut down the branch and took it back to the cabin where he trimmed and shaped it according to Demetra's directions. Then he left it to soak for a week in a cauldron. Once the wood was soft, he cut a slit down the middle of the wand, worked the thestral hair into the centre of the stick and let it dry for a week. Finally, Demetra cast a final spell and handed the finished wand to Jason. He gave the wand and experimental flick and a shower of sparks shot out.
"Be careful with that. I told you thestral hair is tricky. You'd better go outside or you'll blast the cabin to dust."
Jason took his new wand and practiced. It was a bit like using a flintlock musket when you were used to a modern rifle. Sometimes nothing happened and then the force of a spell nearly knocked Jason over. As he practiced, he considered his next move.
The easiest thing would be to make contact with Harry but he did not want to do that yet. Harry had not been entirely open with him. He had no idea why Harry had stopped him from destroying the horocrux. It might be that Harry did not know the whole story himself. From what he had learned from Demetra and what he had seen himself, he was certain that the Prince brothers were not bright enough to have worked out and carried off the divided-horocrux scheme on their own. Someone else was behind it and whoever it was must have some sort of link to the CIA.
In all her years in the CIA, Pamela Landy had never spoken to a subordinate the way she had to the young woman who had just left her office. On the other hand, she had never been presented with such a feeble excuse for failing to complete a simple task. She had sent the girl to pick up the Brankovitch file but once she got into the records center, she had dashed out leaving the file behind. She claimed that she had been late for an urgent meeting on the other side of town. There was in fact such a meeting, but it was scheduled for the next week.
Pamela decided that she needed a walk to clear her head. She would get the file herself. An hour later, she was standing outside her dentist's office. The appointment she had thought she was late for had taken place a week ago. Her teeth were in perfect condition but she was not sure about the rest of her. Maybe Jason was right, she was working too hard. She decided to head home early.
At her apartment she checked her door. The matchbook cover on the door was an old-fashioned bit of trade craft, but it still worked. If it had moved, it meant that someone had opened the door while she was out. She opened the door and turned off the alarm. It was also in working order. Then she turned into the living room and saw a man sitting on her sofa. He was hard to recognize in a long black robe and beard, but it was definitely Jason Bourne. Pamela took a deep breath and tried to thing. She needed an opening question that would show she was in control of the situation.
“Hello, Jason, nice to see you. When am I going to meet your friend?”
“Hello, Pamela. What do you mean by a friend?” Jason replied, his expression was genuinely puzzled.
“You’re working with somebody. How else could you get in here? I always leave a piece of matchbook cover on top of the door when I leave. It was still there when I got back. You can’t open the door without moving it and you can’t replace it from inside. That means that you must have had someone follow you and replace it once you were inside.”
“Pamela, I swear to you that I was alone. I don’t have anyone helping me.”
“So how did you get in here? Magic?”