Chapter 26 - House of Cards
The Hogsmeade weekend was going swimmingly. Sixth and seventh years had signed up en masse to take their adopted little brothers and sisters out for a treat, and later for games of spell-tag and broom rides.
Amy Colleen had a group of six, as some of the surrogate big brothers and sisters were organizing games on the community green and all the kids wanted to run around the little village shops.
Odin and Alison broke away from Amy's group heading into Honeydukes, Ali didn't care for sweets and Odie wasn't going to be separated from his mate. Amy stood just inside the door of Honeydukes, watching the cute little couple checking out Zonko's Joke shop. Odie, as usual, was in his customary kid-sized druid vestments. She wasn't overly concerned about the man in the Zonko's robes who was tossing hoops and giant rubber balls and bubble wands to all the kids as they passed the storefront.
Another young man in Zonko's garb rolled a plastic hoop toward Odie and Ali and said "Catch!"
Laughing the young couple grabbed the hoop simultaneously - then felt a pulling sensation behind their navels.
The young man shouted "gotcha!"
Amy Colleen screamed.
The man looked up and disapparated.
Pansy and Millie told their charges, "Stay here!" and ran to the sweet shop door.
Luna Lovegood dispatched her hare patroni before joining the Parkinson House parents.
Amy was hysterical.
"Colleen, Amy Colleen, listen -listen to me, who took em' c'mon Amy, help us out here!"
The Irish girl choked back her sobs and stuttered out "he was a student, a seventh year last year, aSlytherin, I'm sure of it. Tall, skinny, spiky brown hair, bad acne."
Pansy and Millie shared ameaningful look, "Nott."
"Yeah! That's him, Teddy Nott or sumat!"
"Everyone back to The House, now!"
The students gathered up their charges and moved the party back to Parkinson House - most of them didn't even know there was a problem, and were eager to show their new big brothers and sisters their home and rooms and playthings.
Pansy gathered the older students together, "Keep em' busy, keep em' occupied. Okay?"
The Hogwart's students, most of whom had seen combat during the siege of Hogwarts in the previous year nodded. They were not going to let their little brothers and sisters down. Not now, not ever.
Bella and Remus were confused as they saw their charges coming back to The House so early. Confused, that is, until a silvery white hare told them in Luna's ethereal voice "Someone's taken two children, call the authorities!"
The vampiress and the werewolf felt the sinking, hopeless, mind-numbing fear that all parents feel when achild is hurt - or worse. "Please, please, don't let it be ours."
Bella was at the floo, calling the DMLE before Luna's ethereal voice had a chance to fade.
Nearly all the children were back before Millie threw herself into the tall druid's arms.
"Odie . . . they took lil' Odie!"
Remus held the large, sobbing girl at arms length, "who took Odie, how did they get him?"
"It was Nott, Theo Nott, and he took em' with a portkey!"
Millicent nodded, "Ali was with him. Ali's always with him."
Greg stumbled out of his door, "I gotta do summat! I kin help, I tell ya!"
Millicent was on him in an instant, "No, ya great lummox, ya can't, not this time. Now back to bed wit cha!"
"Millie, Theo's flat, I been there. London. Bridgeman Road! Near Islington!" Greg wanted to say more but his eyes rolled up into his head and he nearly fell over. Millie was there to catch him.
Bella was in deep meditation.
"Ancestress," she projected,"Meet us at Bridgeman Road, Between Holliway and Islington."
Remus laid a gentle, reassuring hand on her shoulder, "Do you know the neighborhood?"
"I do, I've done a few odd jobs in the area."
"Great, let me side-along with you!"
Pansy placed a hand on both their shoulders, "They got two of me sprogs, no way in hell are you goin' without me!"
"Or me!" Millie insisted.
Remus was getting impatient, "easier if we portkey." He looked around and found a small plastic lorry, touched it with his wand tip and said "West Islington, /portus/!"
"Grab on everyone, three, two, one!"
At the last possible moment Pansy bumped Millie with her hip, making the larger girl lose her hold on the toy.
Millicent screamed in frustration as the other three were ported away.
Glen Kercheck was miserable. He'd narrowly avoided being kissed by testifying against his Dark Lady. He'd told them everything he knew, which wasn't much. He didn't know the location of BSotS's headquarters because it was under a fidelius charm and he wasn't the secret keeper. No one asked him about the pendent he wore - it was under apowerful "notice-me-not" charm and he wasn't able to talk about it.
Unfortunately he wasn't able to activate his pendant/portkey as he was shackled, day and night, by anti-apparation, anti-portkey manacles.
Something was going on, the aurors were scrambling around, scrying, divining, desperately trying to find someone or something.
A low level auror said, "C'mon Kercheck, they want you up in the infirmary."
The Benevolent Son was cooperating every way he could, biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to use his emergency portkey.
"I'll take him," said a familiar voice.
"Smythe?" Kercheck whispered.
"Shut it! I'm gonna' get you to the infirmary, there's a floo connection there, once you're in the fireplace your portkey will work, remember to wait until they take the cuffs off, right?"
The man nodded.
As they walked into the infirmary Smythe told the orderly, "get baseline readings on this one, he's on his way to a resort in the North Atlantic."
The orderly smiled evilly, "Roit you are guv! C'mon then, lets get you up on the table. Healer Jones will be along smartly!"
The healer came in wearing the traditional lime-green robe and told the orderly, "Remove the cuffs."
The orderly did, then placed avice-like grip on the prisoner's shoulder, to assure the man that any funny stuff would earn him naught but pain.
The healer waved an amethyst crystal around Kercheck's head and shoulders, paused, made some notes and reached for his white wand.
The infirmary doors burst open and a breathless young woman in maroon auror's robes shouted, "Healer Jones, come quick, we got casualties!"
The healer ran off, the orderly relaxed his grip and the prisoner dove for the fireplace in the corner. Before the orderly could snatch him out again the portkey activated and in a cyclone of green fire a grinning Kercheck disappeared.
Smythe, Jones, and the young auror walked calmly into the infirmary all smiles.
"Got the beacon going?" the ersatz orderly asked.
"Oh yeah," Smythe said with grim satisfaction, "we may not be able to see the place under a fidelius charm, but we'll see the beacon for miles and miles."
Healer Jones added, "We already know where to start, West Islington."
Odin and Alison landed hard on adingy cellar floor. The little boy yelped as he'd fallen painfully on his right wrist and the little girl had fallen full on him.
A croaky voice, that of a woman who'd screamed herself hoarse, pleaded, "Who . . . who's there?"
The children scrambled to their feet. Odie whispered to Ali, "I'm gonna change."
"No!" she hissed. Alison wasn't sure it was a good time to tip their hands, it might be better to wait until they knew more about their kidnappers.
Ali spoke up, "Who's in here?"
Odie's night vision was excellent even in his human form.
"There's a lady in the corner, all wrapped up in a blanket."
He sniffed the air, then whispered to Ali, "she's all beat-up and she smells like she's mated with different men."
As their eyes became used to the lower light Alison could see her. She was older than Mummy Pansy and Mummy Millie, but not as old as Auntie Rita.
"You okay?" the little girl asked solicitously.
"I've been better" the lady said, and drew her thin blanket closer around her. I don't suppose you got anything to eat?"
Odin had a biscuit wrapped in wax paper in the small leather bag that hung from his robe's rope belt. He offered it to the lady who took it gratefully. No one spoke as she ate slowly, savoring every bite.
The sound of keys against a door above shattered the silence. Alison and Odin stood between the door and the frightened lady in the corner.
The wand tip flooded the cellar with light, making the children squint in the glare.
"You better let us go if ya know what's good for ya!"
"Shaddap kid, no one cares on account a you're orphans. No Mum, no Da, just a couple a diesel-dykes ta feed the lot of you."
"You're wrong! I got me Mam and me Da, and when they find you you'll wish you ain't been born!"
Theodore Nott the Third, the man behind the wand pointed to Alison.
"An whot's she got, she got a"Mam" an Da too?"
Little Odin came very close to morphing as he said in a voice far too low and dangerous for a seven-and-a-half year old boy, "She's got /me/!"
Nott came down the steps and the lady in the corner scrambled to her feet and put herself between the child and the threat.
Red light flashed and the lady was blown back against the wall, where she collapsed, naked, in a boneless heap. Theodore laughed, turned his back on the children and started up the stairs.
Note: Turning your back on an angry werewolf may not be the smartest thing you ever do.
Odie morphed into the brown wolf and sprang, pulling his prey down. The still lighted wand-tip created a strobe effect as man and wolf tumbled down the steps. The brown wolf stood, Theo didn't. Odin, the wolf, limped over to Alison, favoring his right foreleg where the boy Odie had sprained it.
Then they heard it, twin howls in the distance, Odin sat on his haunches and yowled in reply.
Another cry, closer this time, another reply before he was bathed in red light and his world went black.
Pansy ran to keep up with the two wolves. She'd heard it too, the response in kind. She'd never heard of a seven year old animagus before, but she didn't care. She didn't care if Odie or Ali or both were bloody werewolves - she just wanted them home and safe.
Pansy couldn't help but chuckle as she ran to keep up. Who ever heard of werewolves running around in the middle of the day during a new moon?
The white wolf morphed back into her human form. Pansy wrapped her in the smaller of the two cloaks she'd been carrying for that purpose.
"We heard him. Odin is around here. He can be hidden from human eyes, but not ours. He's pack, and we'll hear him or catch his scent, I know he's near!"
A sound like the rustling of cloth made Pansy turn to see Eliza Shakespeare arrive.
"What the /fuck/? I thought vampires couldn't stand the sun!"
Eliza rolled her eyes even as she fastened the clasp of her acromantulae silk cape.
"Neutrogena, Healthy Defense Daily, SPF Forty-five. It's also a wonderful moisturizer."
The ancient vampiress turned to Bella.
There was the rushing noise of an arriving portkey. The two vampires and the werewolf stood ready, Pansy had her wand drawn.
Millicent Bulstrode stood there smirking. She handed a parchment to Pansy who recognized Greg's neat handwriting.
"The Headquarters of the Benevolent Sons of the Serpent is Number Six, Bridgeman Road."
As Pansy read the address aloud aGeorgian Manor house seemed to erupt from the ground.
"Millie, I'm sorry . . ."
"Shut it, you!" Then her expression softened, "look, I know why you did it, but I'm only a few weeks along and you never know when you could use an extra wand, eh?"
"We're alright then?"
"Yeah, no worries."
Eliza took command, "Millie, why don't you take Pansy and this big brute and see if you can find a way into the cellar? Bella and I will take care of whoever else is in the house."
With that, two witches disillusioned themselves, then did the same for one very determined wolf with"near human intelligence" before sprinting around to the back garden.
Bella smirked and told Eliza, "You know someone has to invite us in, right?"
Bella hit the front door with the flat of her hand, reducing the English oak to so many toothpicks.
"Sounded like "come in" to me!"
Eliza went left and Bella went right. A green bolt barely missed the younger vampiress who was on her attacker in less than a second.
"You know what?" she said as she held Glen Kercheck off the floor by his throat, "Those curses /hurt/!"
She slowly, deliberately pulled the struggling Benevolent Son to her extended fangs and her preternaturally wide-open mouth.
The last thing Glen Kercheck knew in his wasted life was complete, unmitigated terror.
Eliza flowed up the steps to the upper floor bedrooms. She followed the smell of blood and sex and found Blaise Zabini, the Dark Lady herself, naked and kneeling in the center of a flaming pentagram. Zabini's eyes appeared to be focused on a random spot on the wall, lips moving in a near silent incantation.
"Animus meus perserveros . . ."
Blaise was beautiful, soft glistening black curls cascaded over broad shoulders and ridiculously large breasts. Most unexpected, a somewhat impressive semi-flaccid cock dangled between smooth muscled ebony thighs.
"Animus meus perserveros . . . animus meus perserveros . . ."
The three members of Auror Team Six stood in the square just south of Bridgeman Road looking lost. There had been a signal when they'd apparated in. They'd disillusioned themselves immediately upon arrival, then spread out to try to triangulate Kercheck's beacon. They had narrowed the signal to a single row of Georgian homes when the Benevolent Son's pointer winked out.
"Somebody found the tracer."Auror One whispered.
"That or he'd dead." Auror Three suggested.
"No loss, that." All three said in unison.
"Right then," the team leader said, "plan two. Close scan for magic - some pretty powerful stuff going on around here and we should detect a hole in the grid. I just hope something leaks through the fidelius before anything happens to the hostages."
The other team members grunted in assent.
Things weren't going well in the cellar. Theodore had stunned Odin twice more - to be sure he stayed stunned -and then enervated the woman just to abuse her. Ali had tried to intervene but her slight, eight year old body was too small, too light. Nott had simply back-handed the annoying child, sending her reeling across the room. Ali's burst of accidental magic knocked Theodore into the far wall, but he'd recovered quickly and advanced on the tiny orphan girl.
"You wanna play rough, little bitch? I show you rough!"
Saying this he lifted Alison by the front of her dress and shook her before throwing her across the room.
The woman, beaten and battered as she was, gathered Ali into a tight embrace, then turned her back on Nott.
"Leave her alone!" she croaked out.
Theodore Nott the Third had had enough, he raised his wand and gathered as much hate and rage as he could muster.
There was a crash as the three blackened basement windows exploded inward, bathing the interior of the cellar with daylight.
A huge grey wolf stood between Nott and the frightened woman and child.
The disarming hex came from two different directions simultaneously.
"You miserable /FUCK/!"Pansy screamed, "You took my kids! /Diffindo/!
"You hurt my babies! /Malleus//osteo/!
"You ain't gonna ever, /sectum//sempra/, never, /inflamare/, gonna hurt me or mine again."
She stood as tall as her one hundred fifty centimeter frame would allow and intoned "Avada . . ."
"No Pansy," Millie cried,"/expeliarmus/!"
Pansy's rage began to abate, morphing into icy, calculating malevolence. She looked down at Theodore Nott's slashed, battered, burned form. She looked into his tortured eyes and knew that he knew that he'd done the unforgivable - he'd come between a mother and her children, worse, he'd hurt two of Pansy's children. Now he knew the meaning of pain, and he knew the only release he'd have would be in death.
"No killing curse?" Pansy asked. "Fine, then. /Moblicorpus/!"
"Goodbye Theo, I hope you burn in Hell! Bombarda /maxima/!"
Such was Pansy cold fury that Theodore Nott the Third was reduced to a fine red mist that painted the basement wall of his family's matriarchal home.
Pansy looked down at the prone form of Odin the wolf, his wolf papa curled protectively around him.
Millie laid a hand on the brown wolf's scruff.
"He's breathing. His right forepaw is swollen but other than that he looks okay. /Enervate/!"
The big girl had to repeat the enervation spell twice before the wolf began to stir.
"Odie!" a petite strawberry blonde haired missile streaked over to the recovering cub and threw herself around his scruffy neck.
Pansy and Millie knelt by the battered woman who had shielded their daughter with her own body.
"We can never thank you enough. Anything you need, anything at all, you come to us. You need a place to stay? We got lots of room. You're family now."
The lady nodded gratefully, "I'll be needing a place to stay, me and my own little one."
"You're more than welcome, um, who are you?"
The abused woman smiled up through tear filled eyes and said, "Mitsy. Mitsy Rolfe."
Bella joined Eliza in the master bedroom and watched the chanting transsexual curiously.
"I see some shield ward lines."The older vampiress observed, "Nothing we can't handle."
As the two night-stalkers converged on Blaise the flames of the pentagram flared, giving the two ladies some incentive to step back.
The ends of Zabini's curls smoldered.
"So if we get too close she, he, oh whatever - it gets toasted?"
"I'm trying to see the downside of that." Bella smirked.
"That thing killed Ian, and I promised to drain his murderer dry." She looked pensive for a moment and said, "I'll be right back."
That left Bella alone in the room with the Dark Lady. The vampiress started scuffing the rune marks on the floor with her slipped foot.
"That won't work."
Bella looked at Blaise who held her gaze.
"You're Bellatrix LeStrange."
It wasn't a question.
"I used to be. And you're a bloke."
"I used to be. You should know that if I'm killed this house will collapse in on itself and take anyone in it with me. I don't think even a vampire can survive the implosion."
"Same spell you used on Ian's place?"
"You seem rather calm for one who's about to die."
Just then the floorboards exploded from within the flaming pentagram and Blaise Zabini was pulled through a hole that was really a bit too small for the Dark Lady's body.
"I hope she didn't waste too much blood."
Bella moved quickly to the ground floor where Eliza had already begun to feed on the Zabini's broken body.
"Ancestress, there's a mortality curse on this house, if 'Dork Lady' here dies the whole place implodes!"
Eliza Shakespeare looked at her descendant and smiled, "I've had a good run. Not many of us make it to Five Hundred. Get the short-life's out of here and try not to survive your "Wolfie,"okay?"
Bella smiled and nodded. There wasn't any sadness in it, she knew better than most what waited on the "other side."
"I love you Auntie Eliza."
"And I love you too, Bella. Now go, I'm feeling a little peckish here."
Bella swooped down into the cellar and shouted "We've gotta get out of here! Remus, can we portkey?"
The wolf reverted to human form and Pansy, who had been carrying his things, handed him his robe and wand.
A few cursory waves of the wand and he answered "yes."
"Well for Hecate's sake, hurry!"
He accepted his robe from Pansy and touched it with his wand-tip, intoning "Home, /portus/."
"On three, two, one!"
At the instant the portkey activated the last of Blaise Zabini's life's blood drained out and, as forewarned, the Nott's matriarchal home imploded in a mass of contracting wood and masonry and flame.
Author's note: One more chapter to go. Then I need to spend more time working on my original stuff. I have several short stories and two novels in the works and hopefully I'll find aliterary agent and a publisher (that's PAYING market) this year.
I've given Greg Goyle a beautiful tenor voice in this story; I thought I'd gift him with nice handwriting too.
Those of you who've been with me since "Bella Rising" began have an idea of what's coming. Expect a plot twist before it's done.
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