Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Black Vengeance

Of Puzzles and Attacks

by maidros 5 reviews

Harry speaks with Rodolphus Lestrange and his sister. Emmeline Vance is captured by the Death Eaters.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Bellatrix,Harry,Hermione,Rodolphus Lestrange - Published: 2007-09-09 - Updated: 2007-09-09 - 2774 words

Black Vengeance – 14

(Author's Note: I am not sure how many people noticed a couple of incongruities relating to the death of Sirius Black – his fall seemed to be in direct dissonance with the effects of a stunner as described in other places. This has always intrigued me, and I am putting my interpretation on that little puzzle. Secondly, I will be focussing on the working of wards in this chapter. I have never seen a story that deals with the actual working of wards and how spells are combined to form effective protections, nor how they can be breached.

As usual, all criticism is welcome.)

Of Puzzles and Attacks

---(Beginning of the Chapter)---

Harry's hand had automatically dipped into his robes, and his fingers curled around his wand, when he felt a hand clamp warningly on his wrist. “Potter! No!”, came the sharp voice of Mrs. Greengrass.

“They .... killed .... Sirius”, panted Harry, as he struggled to break her grip.

Mrs. Greengrass held on desperately, while Rodolphus laughed, a cold, harsh laugh. Harry was jolted out of his struggles by the odd manner of Lestrange. He looked on as the man, who had his wand in his hand made no move to cast any spells. He was holding his wand in a defensive posture. Rodolphus Lestrange's laughter finally subsided enough, as he wheezed, “Potter, you must be the most simple-minded person on earth.”

“What. Do. You. Mean?”, came Hermione's cool and carefully enunciated voice. She too held her own wand in her hand.

Rodolphus Lestrange shook his head, “Merlin! They reckon you two among the best of the Light side!”, he remarked in wonder, as he continued, “Can you see Sirius Black's death in your mind's eye, Potter? Can you picture the exact sequence of events which led to his death?”

Of course, Harry could remember it. He could see the red jet of light hitting Sirius in the chest, and Sirius' body rising up and then falling in a long graceful arc behind the Veil. He could see Sirius' surprise and fear as he fell beyond the Veil.

“I've seen it enough in my nightmares”, snarled Harry, his eyes narrowed into slits.

“And you noticed nothing unusual about it?”, questioned Rodolphus, his disbelief and disgust apparent in his voice.

Harry looked puzzled as Rodolphus continued, “Potter, surely you've seen enough people hit by stunners? That was what Bella fired at her cousin.”

“It was sufficient to send him beyond the Veil”, he returned in a tight voice.

“You fool! When was the last time someone hit by a stunner rise up into the air and fall in a long, graceful arc? Stunners tend to knock you down, Potter, they might even knock you back a yard or two. People do not rise up in the air and fall in long arcs, when hit by stunners.”

There was silence at this pronouncement, complete, cold and eerie. Hermione'e eyes had widened enough to give Dobby's a run for their money, even as she turned chalk white. Harry gaped at Rodolphus Lestrange – the implications of what Rodolphus Lestrange had just said were too terrifying to contemplate. If Bella did not kill her cousin, who did? The words were still rankling in Harry's mind, when Mrs. Greengrass broke the silence. “Potter”, she began and as Harry spun round to face her, she continued, “He's not here to harm you. On the contrary, he's here to help.”

“A Death Eater here to help me, Mrs. Greengrass?”, his eyes flashing between anger and confusion.

“Potter, please allow me to explain before you go around doing something rash”, answered Mrs. Greengrass, even as she looked at Nott for help. The weedy looking Slytherin nodded quietly, “Not to worry, Potter. Remember Daphne and I are oath sworn not to betray you. But let's go inside. What we have to reveal is best done inside rather than on the pavement.”

“But first, Potter, I need to key you and Granger to these wards. I need a drop of your blood – both of you.” Rodolphus Lestrange had spoken for the first time.

Harry's confusion deepened at this. Daphne interpreted his look, and returned, “Harry, my mother's maiden name is Priscilla Lestrange. Rodolphus Lestrange is her brother and the Lestranges specialise in warding.”

“Lestrange!”, Harry whispered at Daphne. “Then Bellatrix ....”

“Is my aunt, yes”, returned Daphne in a quiet voice, an unreadable look in her eyes.

Harry and Hermione watched in fascination as Rodolphus Lestrange and Priscilla Greengrass cast a number of spells, before a manor shimmered into existence before their eyes. Once that was accomplished, they all made their way into the gloomy, and dimly lit home of the Notts.

Ten minutes later, the group was sitting in soft cushions in a large sitting room. Priscilla Lestrange-Greengrass began in her quiet voice, “Before we go into long explanations, I think we need to establish some trust between us, Potter. You have very little reason to trust us, and we have too much at stake to take things on faith, much less hope. However, we need your help, and you need ours if you are to prevail against the Dark Lord. So, we shall begin with an oath that prevents us from speaking lies at this meeting.”

“What is the form, madam”, queried Hermione.

“It is an old wizards' oath with damnum veneficus – loss of magic – as the penalty for lying. You can refuse to answer any question, but you cannot lie.” She pushed an old contract towards Harry and Hermione. The muggle-born witch studied the document for a few minutes, cast several spells on it to ensure that no hidden clauses were on it, and finally safisfied, she nodded to Harry. “It seems a fair agreement, Harry. There is no way to breach the clauses without losing one's magic.”

Rodolphus Lestrange was holding his left forearm in his right hand when cut in, “Prissie, I can feel the Dark Lord calling me. Let us complete the vows, I'll take an oath not to betray any of you, and you can explain everything to Potter and Granger. We'll have to do the Fidelius charm tomorrow morning.”

“Do you think he suspects something?” There was a faint note of anxiety in Priscilla's voice. Rodolphus smiled fatalistically, “I hope not, but there is only one way to find out.”

A few minutes later, Rodolphus Lestrange had taken his oath not to betray Harry and Hermione and left to answer his master's summons. Just as he was leaving, he smiled at Harry and Hermione, “Think carefully about how Sirius Black died. Let's see if you can puzzle out what happened exactly.” He included all the inhabitants in a long, sweeping bow and left the room.

Once her brother was gone, Priscilla Lestrange leant back in her chair, and questioned, “Before I start explaining anything, Potter, how much do you know of the last war?”

---(Scene Break)---

Rodolphus Lestrange had been acknowledged a master of ward-setting, and by extension, ward breaking by almost everyone in magical Britain. Once one of the highest paid freelance ward-setters of the mid and late nineteen seventies, he had disappointed the wizarding world by throwing in his lot with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. To most people, it did not make much sense either. The man had had a very promising career, and was raking galleons by the ton thanks to the paranoia of the war. He had set the wards on the homes of some of the most prominent figures of the Ministry, before his allegiance with the Dark Lord was suspected. Whatever the cause, Rodolphus Lestrange had joined Voldemort and he was at the moment, showing just why his reputation was deserved at Emmeline Vance's home.

In the meantime, Bellatrix having disillusioned the two rookie Death Eaters and herself, was snapping out orders, “Hillcrest, give Rodolphus cover while he casts the wards. Travers, block the back door. Cooper, you're reserve – you move if you see red sparks. Now, go!” Bella positioned herself near the front door, standing well away and at an angle to ensure that she was not hit by spells from inside.

Blessed with his phenomenal knowledge of wards, and mage-sight1, it took Rodolphus less than a minute to detect the limits of the wards on the home. With that determined, he set about to place his own wards outside them to prevent the good Healer from leaving or communicating with anyone. His first spell was a messaging charm ward – a spell preventing messenger spells from working. He then placed an anti-apparition ward – this was a standard precaution to prevent people escaping or sending others for help. A strong anti-portkey ward followed the anti-apparition ward. Leaving Hillcrest holding the three wards, he then began chanting a floo-jammer, as he drew a rune-writer from his robes. One of the most difficult things about being a ward breaker was doing multiple tasks at the same time. Holding two jinxes while attacking a ward required a kind of focus and precision that most people were incapable of – which was why very few people were capable of ward-breaking.

Each ward was nothing but a set of similar spells, held together and powered by a rune that was designed to fit the needs of the spells it held together. Wards were set in two or three layers; usually there would be a detection layer and a response layer. More sophisticated wards would also contain a concealment layer. The basic problem with wards was that multiple wards could not be simply amalgamated into one single massive ward. They could however be set such that each layer may cover the weakness of the other, in a sort of a powerful ward ring. Most wizarding houses sported only set of wards. Of course, rich families and Manor houses had multiple sets of wards, and breaking any one of them was a serious problem and usually required a team of people. Some fortresses, like Azkaban and Hogwarts, had magic imbued into their very structure and had withstood the odd Light Lord and the not so odd Dark Lord, without collapsing, or even taking much damage.

Rodolphus concentrated on examining the wards at the Vance residence, as he drew two runes on the ground with his rune-writer and waved his wand in a long and complicated pattern. He nodded with a small sigh of satisfaction – the wards had been disguised by a simple Obscuro Veneficus spell. There was an anti-muggle ward consisting of a repelling-and-confusing charm, a rather weak anti-apparition and anti-portkey jinx – Rodolphus shook his head – why did people use such weak anti-apparition spells? A strong witch or wizard, let alone Bella, far less the Dark Lord, could probably apparate right through it, breaking it just by brute force. There was an obscure water rune – a curious mix of a Carthaginian water spell, and an Norse Condensing charm – protecting the house from fire based spells. Finally, there was an inner layer of wards, which consisted of intruder alarms, and counters based on stunners and confundus charms.

He turned to Bella, rasping out, “Stunning spells and confundus charms. Fire protection.”

“Draw her out.”, she ordered.

Bella's order made perfect sense. Wizarding homes were often enchanted enough that they would help their owners to the best possible extent. Going into an enemy's home was done only if there was no other way possible. Rodolphus concentrated hard for a moment, waving his wand in a wide arc, as he sought the anchor of the water rune. Finding it, he knelt down to write two powerful drying and draining runes on the ground, linking it to the water rune. He nodded to Bella, “Now!”

Bellatrix snapped out, “Rodolphus, take control of all the wards. Hillcrest – join Travers.” When her orders had been complied with, Bellatrix raised her own wand, and sent a hellfire curse at Vance's home. The curse impacted and a roaring fire burst from the outer walls of Emmeline Vance's home. At the attack, the water rune in the ward flared into life, and shuddered as the runes drawn by Rodolphus also activated. For a moment, they both strove for dominance, but Rodolphus had chosen his counters carefully and the water rune shattered and winked out of existence.

The first indication Emmeline received that something was wrong was when Bella's hellfire curse had set her home aflame. She waited for the anti-fire wards to put out the fire, but was horrified to see nothing happening. She grabbed her wand and tried to get out of the rear door, but was sent stumbling back into the burning house by a volley of cutters and blasting curses from Travers and Hillcrest. They were under cover and she would be in the open – to try getting out under those circumstances was suicide.

Emmeline did not even bother trying to get out the front door – it was obvious that she was completely surrounded, and her attackers held all the aces. She tried the floo, apparating, sending a message to other Order members and her emergency portkey, but none of them worked, and the fire was spreading faster than she could put it out. She sighed – she had known she would be a target for Death Eaters from the moment she had joined the Order, and her husband had paid the ultimate price in the last war. Well – if she could not escape on the ground, she would from the air. Emmeline summoned her broom and took off into the night sky, her broom clutched in her left hand, and her wand in the other; she rose above the burning building, and sent a couple of powerful cutting curses in the direction from where the previous curses had come at her. None of them had any impact – apparently, her attackers had been clever to keep changing their positions, moving quickly enough from cover to cover. If only she could make it past those anti-apparition wards, she would get away from the Death Eaters.

Unfortunately for Emmeline, she had been silhouetted against the moon as she rose into the sky, and the burning building provided enough light for the wizards on the ground to send curses at her. A stunner and a bludgeoning hex flew past her, narrowly missing her. Suddenly, her broom gave a jerk, almost throwing her off. She maintained her seat on the broom, but the broom bucked again wildly. Emmeline lost her seat, but managed to hang on by one hand sending another blasting hex waywardly, but to little avail. The broom was now madly flinging itself across the horizon, desperate to throw her off. Emmeline lost her grip as her broom lurched again. As she fell, she cast an arresto momentum spell on herself, followed by a powerful shield charm to stop anyone from taking pot-shots at her as she fell slowly.

On the ground, the disillusioned Bellatrix had seen Emmeline Vance rise into the sky on the broom – she could have laughed out loud at the stupid Healer putting herself between her enemies on the ground and the moon. Her eyes fixated on the broom, she began chanting an old broom curse furiously. She was rewarded a few moments later as the broom threw off Emmeline. She barked out to the other Death Eaters, “Take her alive!”

Emmeline gulped as she heard the cold voice, and sent a powerful cutting curse in the direction of the voice. Bella batted aside the hex with a contemptuous flick of her wand , as the hexes from Travers and Hillcrest shattered Emmeline's shield. Bellatrix let Emmeline land – the moment she landed on the ground would be the time when she would be most vulnerable, since she would need to find her feet, so to speak – and sent a wordless crucio at the witch. Emmeline Vance shrieked as the cruciatus curse caught her squarely, and was still screaming when everything went black as a couple of stunners from Travers and Cooper ended the battle.

Bellatrix surveyed the battlefield with satisfaction – everything had gone according to plan and she had the captive whom she could interrogate to her heart's content. That done, she took charge of the prisoner, and bound the Healer with conjured ropes. Finally, she raised her wand sending a Dark Mark into the sky, and snarled to the others, “The job's done. Let's go.” She turned to Travers and the two rookies, “Report to me tomorrow morning. The Dark Lord'll hear of this.”

With that, both Rodolphus Lestrange and his wife disapparated away with soft pops, leaving the other Death Eaters to make their own way to safety.

---(End of the Chapter)---
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