Foreword: Thank you to all who have reviewed. Something I want to make clear: The first chapters (2-8) were pre-written months or years before posting, and as such, now you have to wait for a) my free time (which is severely limited), and b) the length of time it takes to create, revise, and edit these long chapters. EVERYTHING is plotted, and you can find a clue to the plot in the first chapter. I won't write smaller chapters, I have goals for each (see aforementioned plot), and that's important to me. (My plot, my story). And since it is my story (but not my characters, well… canon characters aren't, nor the world), I'll write it the way I've plotted it out. Lastly: to those that say 'It's been a year, update'. Or 'so sad it's abandoned'. You're not guilt-tripping me into reprioritizing my world. You're only making me consider pulling the whole thing down until the whole thing is done. Accept what you get, when you get it.
Also: For the record, if I ever die before finishing the story, my family will notify on my accounts as such. However, as I'm in good health, I see the story finishing decades long before my death.
Chapter Nine: Lessons in Mayhem
The first clue, the very first tiny itsy-bitsy inkling, actually, that something had gone terribly awry came when Ally, who had cheerfully seated them around her kitchen table and then kindly poured both of them a dreadfully sweet tea in her best fine china - the ones she reserved only for the most hoity toity of guests (mercifully, no in-laws had ever visited because while they suited the term hoity-toity, Ally would have been too tempted to stab a butter knife through their wretched hearts) - set out a matching plate of her best lemon-shortbread. They immediately froze in their seats, Judas' cup near his mouth…. And understood with utter clarity just exactly how prey felt.
Ally, of course, smirked at them, and disappeared down into the hallway. An almighty crash filled the house for but a moment, and then the clear sound of something being dragged. Judas winced, wondering if they were being set up for body disposal. Lucifer seemed to relax, thinking that a little death and dismemberment was no big deal between friends, and that Ally was trying to hard.
Sadly, when she returned dragging an easel-chart, rather than a body, behind her, they felt that cold chill of prey again.
"Ah, aren't we birthday planning? It's running a little late, luv, seeing as tomorrow's our boy's birthday." Judas hedged carefully. "If you were planning on invites, you know they don't happen by osmosis."
Lucifer rolled his eyes, it was as if Judas didn't remember issuing invites already. Vampires, bah. It was of no matter, he had a far more pressing concern. If he was going to burn in the fires of Ally's insanity, then others should so suffer alongside him. "Where's the Lich and the hag?" Lucifer asked bravely, head craning to see the back door window, as if the Lich would be standing right there. (To be fair, he wanted to spread pain. It wasn't as if he hid behind the younger being, far from it. Especially as there wasn't enough meat, or any meat, on the Lich's bones to truly hide behind. Hiding behind Pru made infinitely more sense.)
"Busy, Gentlemen, and I do use that terminology loosely. The Lich is going through that Goblin contract about that ritual room with a silver comb. And Pru is minding Harry this morning" Ally smiled.
Judas thumped his head on the kitchen table. "He's still on that? It's been three days."
"It'll be three centuries." Lucifer grumped. "I didn't hire him as headmaster of Scholomance because he's the laid-back, easy-going type, you know. That sack of bones can really hold a grudge."
"Which is why he and I get along so very well," Ally smiled broadly, her teeth glinting just like a shark's wound in the sun right before a deep killing bite. "Regardless of the Lich's grudge against the Goblins, we who are all here have other matters to discuss."
Lucifer shifted in his seat. "We'll, Ducky, that sounds lovely, I must say… but you know, I'm on a deadline. Dad's going to be shunting me back down to my cage in about five minutes."
Ally's smile, if anything, widened. "Oh darling, five minutes is MORE than sufficient to my requirements. But, just in case, I got down on my knees and said a prayer this morning, to your dear Dad, humbly asking if he could spare a bit of time for me to have this very important discussion with you. Being a just and benevolent God, I'm sure he'll allow a few minutes leeway."
A shudder ran through Lucifer. Just and Benevolent? His Father? Maybe she hadn't read the old testament. Judas reached out to softly pat his shoulder. "Relax. Lucky. We've both survived centuries of torture. We can handle ten or so minutes of a lecture."
Clearly, Judas hadn't really met Ally before. Lucifer closed his eyes and took in a breath. He squared his shoulders. (The whimper which escaped the Devil was forevermore disavowed. He hadn't whimpered for Daddikins, so there was obviously no whimpering over whatever torture Ally had devised.) "I'm ready. Do your worst." He said.
"Quite." Ally nodded. "My husband and I took wee Harry to visit the dragons at the reserve the other day. A dreadful idea really, I must say. We're never doing that again. Dragons, I tell you - do you know how big there are? How many teeth they have? THEY BREATH FIRE! And there's Harry, flitting around and teasing them like some sort of fluttery aperitif!"
Her hands were in the air waving, and her tone was growing more strident with each second. Judas pursed his lips, and thoughtfully cocked his head, "Do you need a calming draught?" He asked curiously. "And yes, we're aware. They've moved in, after all."
"No!" Ally snarled. "I do not… look, my husband made a request of me that I dismissed at the time due to the terrible influence of such calming draughts." The matriarch of house Lockwood, or at least, this cadet house of such, flipped the standing easel around. "Upon later consideration, I must admit my own shame for doing such. For you see, gentlemen, it's a terrible thing I had done. Terrible and inconsiderate. Not right of a wife. And, now I must make amends." She flipped the first page of the chart, and in bold red letters
"BULLYING IS WRONG!"
The Devil slunk lower in his seat. Chin barely above the table-top.
"Jasper asked me quite plainly to make Lucifer and you stop harassing him. And I ignored him, without giving it a fair and unbiased consideration. But, upon reflection, it's not even arguable. It's quite blatant what you two do to my poor sweet husband. It's reprehensible, appalling, and unacceptable. And, not only is behaving in such a fashion immoral, it sets a bad example to Harry. We wouldn't want that, now would we?"
The shifting and wary gazes coming her way made the Black blood in her purr in pleasure. "So, today, we are going to have a very thorough discussion on what it means to bully. Why we do not like bullies, and what shall be the further consequences for anyone in Little Whinging who opts to bully another person in Little Whinging."
Where she got the long wooden pointer from, neither Devil nor vampire knew. But, if she rolled out a chalkboard next, Lucifer decided he was voluntarily sending himself back to hell.
"The classic definition of 'bully', per Websters is, as a verb, to use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants: and as a noun, someone who uses superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants"
Ally went through each word slowly, her glare fierce and hostile.
"Harassment is another word that falls under the bully umbrella, and it is any act or aggression that is unwanted and uninvited. Harassment can be emotional, intellectual, physical, or sexual." With aplomb, Ally flipped to a new page on chart. "We, specifically, are interested in discussing the badness of Sexual Harassment: the unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature."
"Point of interest, Ally…," Judas raised and waved a hand. "You do know that he's the very Devil of biblical legends. The original bad guy. Evil is what he does?" Judas suggested carefully. Lucifer nodded fervently.
"Yes, and I so don't care. It's not my fault his Father hadn't turned him over His knee." Ally sneered at the very-nearly-under-the-table-Devil. "However, to clarify things for your pitiful little minds, we are having this discussion because when my darling Jasper made his wedding vows to me, with full awareness that I descend from House Black, he swore upon his magic to be faithful and true in body and mind to me. Only me. By legal full name - ME." She tapped a marker against the page. "This means, gentlemen, that any sexual advance on him is utterly unwelcome - by me, never mind Jasper's thoughts on the subject. Though, to be on the up and up, he would expressly like you to both ruddy stop rubbing up against him, touching him, pinching him, leering at him…" She gave Judas a firm glare…"Licking him. He does not like it."
"I'm just being friendly! Dogs do it all the time to one another…" the vampire protested.
"Suffice it to say, your attempts to seduce my man are a blatant slur against me. You can just be grateful that my Jasper is a smart man. He understands precisely what a cuckolded wife of House Black would do. And, he wants his tackle to remain intact."
Judas raised a hand, "If we didn't stop, and say, Jasper has a bad bought of potioning and succumbs… what would you do?"
"Pickle your prick, and serve it to you, all nicely diced up at the next bank holiday barbecue." She didn't even blink.
Judas straightened, and crossed his legs. "Right."
"So." Lucifer rubbed his jaw. "You want us to stop mentioning how hot he is? Or good his ass looks. How much fun we could have boinking."
"Yes." Ally's eyes glittered unpleasantly.
"So...no pinching, no rubbing, no grinding, no more licking, and essentially no-touching." Judas ticked each item off on his fingers.
"No comments verbal or written, allusions, or leers." Ally continued blithely. "No drooling over, or any such act that could be construed as either a) physical interest, b) sexual interest, or c) malign interest. Now, I recognize the pair of you are morally bankrupt and haven't met an ethic that you didn't trod all over with muddy boots, but the bottom line is - I can make your lives more hellish than you've ever known if you don't stop."
Lucifer and Judas snorted in tandem at that. "Now, Luv, pickling pricks aside, do think about who you're threatening." The devil sat up straighter, and leaned back in his seat before airily waving his hand at both himself and Judas.
Ally sneered. "That, gentlemen, is a lovely if pathetic attempt at intimidation. For the record, gentlemen, those cups you've been drinking from? I rinsed them quite thoroughly with holy water before setting them out. I let them air dry to coat the inside of the cup. The vicar at St. Mary's, by the way, was most helpful when I asked for a few bottles. I used another bottle to make the tea."
Lucifer bolted for the sink, dry retching into the basin. Judas just sat stone still, looking at the human woman in pure horror.
Ally smirked, quietly counting to ten in her head before cheerfully admitting, "Just kidding."
"Sweet Mother of Sin." Judas breathed, shoulders slumping. "Why was the Black bloodline allowed to flourish for so long?"
"Who knows. Maybe it's all a part of God's great design to whip you and his errant child into shape." Ally smiled toothily. "In all truth, though, you boys slip up once and harass my poor Jasper, and you'll be bathing in holy water. I wasn't kidding at all about getting holy water from the vicar. I'm quite serious there. And the vicar was lovely and most helpful. Blessed the water again after I bottled it. Offered to come along and bless my water-tank if I so desired. So, tow the line, or it'll be raining holy water all over your pretty lily white arses. Should that not effect a change in behaviours, I'll sic Harry on you. He'd be most disappointed."
"Oh, now, Ducky - don't you think you're being a wee bit extreme?" Judas whined. "I'm sure we can resolve all this without involving wee Harry."
"No." Ally tapped her chin thoughtfully. "I'm quite sure Harry would love to assist. He's terribly fond of Jasper, you know."
He winced. "You're so mean" He whinged. "I mean, you could have just asked us nicely…."
Ally snorted in pure derision. She strode over to the sink, where the devil was still gargling his mouth out with tap water, and smacked him upside the head. "Oh seriously, do stop, you pretentious drama queen! You're a fallen angel, not the undead. The worst holy water might do is make you a tad bit nauseous." She grabbed him by the nape of his neck, and dragged him back to the table. "Now, keep up. Take notes if you must. The final exam will be a doozy, and there is an essay portion. To clarify, classify, and make short: there will be no more harassment of any sort you can conceive of where myself, my husband, my husband's pack, or my foster-son is concerned. None. EVER."
The beaten down look on the pair was gratifying. She had much more to expound on them, on the subject of their immoral and uncouth behaviour, and the future repercussions for any infringement upon the newly set down rules, but as things were, they were off to a fine start.
Inconveniently, of course, the door bell would peal at that precise moment. Ally narrowed her eyes at the pair, wondering if they had abused their magical powers to create an escape. "Stay." She ordered. "Should you leave, I shall tell Harry you weren't interested in participating in his birthday celebrations today."
Dejection, thy slump and name was the Devil.
Ally strode off, back straight, chin up, and quite firmly confident that the emotional blackmail would keep the dastardly duo butts in their seats, and with that confidence in her control of her own universe, went forth to shoo off whoever it was ringing the bell of the front door.
She checked her hair as she passed a mirror, touching a curl back behind her ear, and deemed herself put together enough to open the door. She could spy, through the patterned glass on the door, an older man waiting patiently on the front step. Odd. They didn't often get the Jehovah's Witnesses in their neighborhood, and usually when they did, they travelled in pairs or trios. Still, individual or not, Little Whinging was mostly avoided by the various missionaries or pandlehanders. (Vampires took too much pleasure in talking to them about religion. Far too much pleasure, truth be told, keeping the poor men and women of that church tied up on doorsteps for hours. And when Lucifer had a run in, well… he treated such encounters like it was Christmas and his birthday all in one. Psychological torture wasn't just a wartime hobby. It was the devil's raison d'etre.)
"Hullo?" She cocked an eyebrow as she opened the door.
The old man, and he was old, sucked a breath. "Allyson Lockwood, nee Black?" He asked in a querulous tone.
"Yes. You are speaking to her." She frowned now. "And you are?"
"Lord Arcturus Black."
Ally froze stiff for a bare moment, running that name - THAT precise name - through her head, and then… blinked. The door promptly swung shut immediately after her eyes reopened and confirmed the boogeyman was indeed on her doorstep. Seriously, this shit just wasn't happening today. She had the Devil to tame, THE vampire to pull teeth from; and a birthday party to organize. She couldn't be expected to wrangle the Black Family into shape too. It was all too much to even contemplate..
Lord Black raised his hand, and rang the bell again.
"Go away." Allyson shouted through the door. For good measure, she turned the lock. "Grandfather Marius warned me about you. And, whilst I am being infinitely more congenial than my grandfather would ever be, I'm telling you that we want nothing to do with your pureblood nonsense." Allyson strode down the hall to the handheld phone fretted as she dialed the phone. Oh, dear, oh dear, poor Grandpapa Marius was going to have rabid kittens!
"Problems, luv?" The Devil slunk up behind her and whispered in her ear.
"Bugger off. You're supposed to be sitting on your arse in the kitchen memorizing definitions." She muttered, foot tapping as the phone rang. "I'm not giving a multiple choice exam, you know. I'll be wanting essay answers."
"Photographic memory. Perfect eidetic. It's not like I don't know what bullying and harassment is, luv. I practically invented the whole genre, granted I'm more on the pro side more so than anti. Either way, I'm going to totally ace your precious little exam. Ace it like I wrote the questions myself. Because I likely did. So, now that's established… who's knocking at the door, poppet?" Lucifer continued, a devilish smile on his face.
She rolled her eyes. He hadn't even fathomed the word exam yet. Ha. "Lord Arcturus Black." She answered in a mutter, all the same. "I honestly thought the old goat was dead. Isn't he like two hundred years old, or some nonsense? How old does a magical reprehensible goat have to be before it dies?"
"Goats? Fifteen years, whether or not magical. Blacks? They tend to avoid death like the plague. They all know precisely which way they are going." The devil gave a disdainful sniff of his nose, and then suddenly brightened as a new thought occurred. "So, under the new terms of appropriate social behavior, are we allowed to pick on him?" He grinned. "Maybe he'll have a heart-attack and I can save Death a trip, and just nip his soul straight down to Hell."
Ally hummed under her breath, and hung up the phone. The doorbell yet again peeled. Good gracious, didn't the man understand "Go away!"? And, where on earth was Grandpapa? The man was retired, for heaven's sake, it's not like he had anywhere to go! He should be forever at his beloved (and only) granddaughter's beck and call, dammit. "No. Not yet." She decided, clicking the phone off, and tapping it on her chin. "But don't you and Judas dare leave." She cast a glare at the Devil. "I may need backup."
And with that, Ally reached for the door again and faced the family devil. Present company notwithstanding, of course .
Ministry of Magic
July 30, 1991
Cornelius Fudge rubbed his eyes, and then stared back at the report again. "This can't be right." He muttered, looking up in askance at his undersecretary. "How do we not have enough revenues to cover this expense?"
Umbridge tittered, "Well, my dear Cornelius, it would seem that our tax revenues are down."
"I can see that, Delores." Fudge stared at the pitifully revenues total on the page, and then glared at Delores. "My question is, WHY are the numbers so low?"
Delores fussed with her tea cup. "Well, my dear Minister, we have had several stores close in the past two years. And, many mudbloods are retreating to the muggle world as they ought. Plus, as you know, the dark creatures aren't paying taxes for their purchases since we can't find them. It's well… just a shortfall of people to pay tax."
Fudge took a deep breath. "I know all this. I do read the reports, Delores! Year to year, our revenues have plummeted. We were down 28% four years ago, and now are short G51,000,000 in overall tax revenues from the decade previous. We had better revenues when Voldemort was killing people all willy nilly! We need that gold! And if I recall correctly, we set up a task force to solve this problem well over a year ago!" Fudge whimpered.
"Well, yes, you did set up a task-force a year ago. I'm chairing that task-force." Umbridge agreed.
"So, why hasn't the task force SOLVED the problem. Why are the revenues STILL down?"
"Well, there's been much discussion and analysis." She hedged.
"Yes, I can see… discussion and analysis which costed me G180,000! What has the Task Force decided?"
"Well, you see, it's a lot of data to consider, so...we haven't reached a complete solution as of yet."
"Not yet?" Fudge pulled as his hair, wondering if he'd have any left by the time he left office. Honestly, this office was not supposed to be that hard. All he was supposed to do was shake hands and kiss babies, for Merlin's sake! "Why on ever not?" He pressed his fists against his aching head. This was… terrible. "The Wizengamot will have a vote of non-confidence in me if we do not solve this problem! Post haste! And they will know there's a problem when the Wizengamot can't have TEA with their sessions. We simply can't wait!" He cried.
"Oh, I do understand, Cornelius, but… immaterial of all else, solid and stable solutions take time!" His undersecretary whinged. "I'm sure you understand such."
There were times he regretted appointing Umbridge to the role of Undersecretary. Her affection for the color pink, her adoration of 'kittens', and her voice notwithstanding, she was exemplary at executing his wishes. Except this one. "No. There's no more time. I need a solution right this moment, or else, I shall disband this task force, and refuse to pay their wages." Which, in his eyes, was a great idear, since he didn't have 180,000 Galleons to pay the bleeding task force.
Umbridge's already thin lips utterly disappeared she pressed them so firmly together. "Now, my dear Minister… you can not do such. You must pay the task-force for their work."
"What work?" He threw his hands up. "It's been a year, Delores. A year, and our coffers are still bare! The Ministry will be unable to pay the wages of our employees if we don't get this riffraff taxed and monies flowing back in. Now, what has the task force thus far concluded."
"Well." she hedged. "That the Ministry needs these revenues collected."
Fudge rolled his eyes. "You don't say." He drawled, waving his hands as if to say, 'get on with it'.
"And, that we don't know where the dark creatures have gone, there's no indication of immigration. No other country has informed us of a surplus of such unwanted creatures."
"We want them. All of them. Regardless of blood status. We want their galleons. We want the dark creatures monies, we want the half blood and muggleborns monies. Oh, and don't be so daft as to use that dreadful 'mudblood' word in my office or in the Ministry, Delores. Don't think I missed that." Cornelius lectured her sternly. "We need every drop of magical blood to pay taxes on every knut they earn, and every knut they spend. Every single one of them, well, except for the wealthy purebloods. I mean, honestly, we can't ostracize my backers. But… back to the dark creatures - if they haven't already, they might actually ruddy leave our shores … And why would another government tell us of a influx of magicals? Another government would just see these people coming and think, 'Oh, looky, extra tax revenue. Lovely!'"
The woman blinked at him. That she didn't stick out a tongue to snap a fly out of the air continuously surprised him. "Are you finished, my dear Minister Fudge? Could we be perhaps serious for just a moment?"
"Are you ready to give me something of substance?" He retorted.
"We need to capture a werewolf and question that creature with veritaserum about their locations and numbers." She stated.
"Excellent idea. Took a year and $180,000G for a panel of eight to cook that one idea up? So? Why haven't you yet caught a werewolf and asked these important questions?" Fudge tapped a pen on his desk.
She blinked again, and still no toady-tongue snap happened. Most odd. "We've not concluded how to do so. We could solicit a bounty-hunter…"
"That costs money. No."
"Or, authorize the aurors to do a manhunt."
"That would blow the Auror budget… no."
"Or send Dementors."
"That would…." Fudge stopped. He paid the Dementors by way of what they fed on - the worst emotions of mankind. That he had plenty of. "That's rather brilliant." He concluded softly, eyes brightening as the thought endeared itself more. The cheapest labor costs of all. Emotions. And a few unwanted souls, but mostly, emotions. Ruddy brilliant. Crap. He might actually owe Umbridge a raise.
Umbridge simpered. "But, that requires ministry authorization."
Fudge nodded, "Yes, yes… of course. I'll notify the warden to accept your instructions." He mused, thinking it through. This allowed him an out, if anything went wrong. He could foist all blame on Umbridge, and protect his own position. Brilliant. Clearly, such decisive and brilliant thinking proved he was the most brilliant Minister in the history of the Wizarding World. Goodness! Doing the nasty dirty backstabbing work of a politician, and still coming up smelling like roses of a caring Minister, which reminded him: "But, please do be explicit in instructions. I need an answer post-haste, and monies back in the coffer by September, but not at the cost of the souls of wizards and witches in good standing with us. We're coming up to an election year, after all."
Arcturus looked in askance at the tablemates in front of him. He was right now of the firm opinion that he'd finally bitten off far more than he could chew by trying to deal with yet another insane Black female. But admitting to all here that Allison was a nutter, much like her cousins Bellatrix, and Narcissa, would be like asking for evisceration. Dammit. "The Devil?" He asked, doubtfully. It was wretched to see the curse at work in his great-niece, quite tragic at this tender young age. Whoever had in ancient times cursed the family had certainly known what they were doing.
"He sure is. Your niece won't allow him in her home unless he washes off his brimstone glory. Oh, and of course, I am Judas. Judas the Damned. You may have heard about me. Badass boy betraying Christ. Good times." Judas grinned at him, his face alight with gleeful perkiness, and preceded to flash white long fangs into full glorious display. The stutter in old man Black's heart made his day.
Lucifer rolled his eyes, leaning back in his chair with complete nonchalance as he picked up the thread of the conversational goal to shock the old wizard senseless, "Our dearest Ally is not nuts. Well, subjectively, I suppose, we can confirm she's not a lunatic like the rest of you Blacks, at least not yet, though I'm certainly at work of pushing that envelope." He assured him. "Still, sadly, it's more of a lottery with bad odds that. The Dark Lord's power keeps her from going nutters completely. Though, I try. Oh, how I try. Failure is not normally in my wheelhouse, you know, so I'm told by the Dark Lord to consider this a growing experience. Anyhoo, we are who we claim to be. And, as such, welcome, Wizard Arcturus Black, to Knockturn II. Home of the Dark Lord, the alternate digs of the Dark Prince, and the preferred den of the dark creatures of Britain's magical world."
"Don't forget the gryphons." Ally sighed, returning to the table with a fresh pot of tea in hand. "Or the dragons. Technically, they aren't dark creatures." She poured for her Great Uncle, and then deliberately poured onto Lucifer's hand instead of his teacup. "You will not be driving me nutters."
The devil whimpered clutching his wounded hand to his chest. The burn healed immediately."I can try!"
"And fail. Yes, true." Judas nodded, sipping his tea, with fangs hanging pretentiously over the cup.
"Dragons?" Arcturus paled.
"And gryphons. Hags, a few bansidhe, scores of vampires and werewolves, oh, and one Lich." Ally nodded.
Oh, sweet Merlin. Arcturus felt his heart pound in near terror. "A Lich?"
"The Lich." Lucifer clarified tartly, eyes flashing red with his power. "Call him "A" and you'll be stuffing your intestines back into your belly. The one and only, and my finest production of pure soul corruption. Thus far, no one has successfully duplicated the Lich's existence, though that's mostly due to the Lich getting to them before they finally succeed. The Lich is of the mind no one else should have such power or immortality."
The wizard's faint moan had the plate of biscuits thrust his way. "Do have a biscuit. The sugar will perk you up." HIs great-niece assured him, lifting the teapot to top off his cup. "Chin up. Devil and Damned aside, they are so very not the scariest thing you'll ever face, Lord Black. I rather suspect my grandad will be an utter terror. He's a mite beyond pissed with the family, to put it mildly, and now that he's a grumpy old man, he has no filter left when it comes to sharing his feelings on any subject." She paused. "Or any restraint from lobbing things at your head. I do hope you have good reflexes."
Both Lucifer and Judas smirked evilly at him.
There was a ruckus in the front hall, and a black messy haired lad scuttled through to the kitchen, throwing himself at Ally for a hug. "Auntie Ally! Uncle Jasper and Auntie Pru are taking me now to get my school supplies." He told her excitedly.
"And we're stopping at Gringotts to do all those nasty things you want done to the utterly wretched people on your list." He assured her.
"Politely, of course." His foster-mother required. "Don't irritate the goblins. Heaven and Hell both know the Lich is doing that in droves already."
Harry smiled toothily. Despite only being a pre-teen, he definitely had the smarts and wit to put all other teens to shame. This was the cost of letting their sweet little boy hang about with a multitude of vampires, the Lich, Hags, and a fallen angel. Fortunately, he learned how to be a good pack member and a part of a larger team from the wolves.
"I'll be good." He promised, planting a kiss on her cheek. "So, for the record, if you should be planning my birthday celebration, I'm thinking waterpark. Particularly Waterworld? Using portkey to travel there and back?" He cocked an eyebrow at Judas and Lucifer. "Hint, hint."
Before any of them could reply, Jasper called from the front. "Car's leaving, Harry. Hustle."
The boy was gone in a flash.
Arcturus swallowed. He was old, not senile, and he hadn't missed some salient points during that flyby visit. Firstly, the child who was not of her blood, was quite comfortable in his grand-niece's arms. Secondly, the lad was casually saucy with two of the most feared pinnacles of evil. Thirdly, he had a lightening bolt scar on his brow and lastly, the lad, who was just now dawning eleven it seemed, was called Harry. Sweet Merlin, Circe and Hecate….Harry Bleeding Potter was living in a Dark Community.
Dumbledore would have a ruddy stroke if he only knew!
It blew Arcturus granted old, but far from feeble mind. Harry Potter was in league with the Damned and the Devil. A Potter gone dark. His heart sunk. Dorea must be spinning in her grave!
"We can't possibly accommodate a trip to Waterworld." The Devil groused. "It's his eleventh birthday. Besides, I've invited the sidhe. You know how they feel about chlorine, the ruddy purest snobs."
"The Sidhe?" Ally moaned. "Oh, Lucifer - why would you - surely they'll think you're teasing them."
"Nope. No, no… I assured them it wasn't a trick on Ol' Nick's part." Judas added, around nibbling a wafer biscuit. "Mind you, I had to give up a FANG to convince them I was serious. A fang doesn't grow back willy nilly.
"No." Ally agreed with a sigh.. "But it does grow back after a day." She sipped her tea thoughtfully, and then frowned. "Hold up, which Sidhe did you invite?"
"Oh," Lucifer airily waved a hand, "You know. All of them. Our boy only turns eleven once. He should get all the loot he can whilst everyone likes him. Puberty will put an end to that nonsense."
"All of them?" Ally thumped her teacup down hard. "ALL of them? For crying out loud - the Seelie Court are all a bunch of bleeding organics-only vegetarians, Lucifer! I'm not prepared to deal with that on a lark! I've nothing against vegetarians, but they want certified PROOF it's organic on everything. That's ridiculous! And outside of the chemicals in the water, Waterworld is the centre of fast food for the universe, I'm sure they wouldn't know what to do with a vegetarian if we gave them an army of nutritionists to help." Ally chewed her thumbnail thoughtfully. "What if we made our own water park here? Transfigured a few slides, I'm sure the dragons won't mind loaning their lake for the day."
Lucifer's eyes lit up, "Oooh, a dragon slide into the lake. I bet I can get the Swedish Snoutnose to help with that. And, what if we had airborne dragons drop people in…"
"We need to deepen the lake. It's too shallow for a good drop." Judas rubbed his jaw. "Maybe a runic spatial distortion. I'll have to check with the Lich when he gets back." He made a small face. "You know, I can steal some of the WaterWorld rides using time-shifting, and then put them back when we're done."
Lucifer gave a small eyeroll and huffed. "Oh please, that's a lot of work and fuss. Just Bermuda Triangle it. They'll never figure it out. It'll give the Met something fun to do for the rest of the year."
Arcturus' eyebrows were making homes in his receding hairline, and the urge to verbally blister immature morons for even contemplating using magic that might get their magical world exposed was building in his chest. What did they think they were doing? He opened his mouth to ask, when a teacup was forced into his hands.
"Don't." Ally shoved the teacup again towards Arcturus, with a roll of her eyes. "If you even start, they'll talk you around to their way of thinking, and then before you know it you'll be on calming draughts endlessly. It's far better to just ignore, and go with the flow. Accept that which you cannot change. Personally, I think I compartmentalize far too much of my life nowadays."
"Ah." The old man nodded understanding, after all, he'd lived his entire life around Black witches, and there was no other group that required serious mental compartmentalization than those women; still he kept a careful eye on the vampire and hypothetical devil.
And geez, he was going to have to give Christianity some serious thought as a real religion, not just some nonsense the muggles came up with.
"Oh, it's one of many real ones. And I am NOT hypothetical. I'm the real deal too. Christianity isn't fiction at all, if you must know, although that bible… well, I don't know what Daddy Dearest was thinking. That entertaining little read is the first good example of the "telephone" game. Prophets are only communicated when they are HIGHER than kites, you know. Brains would implode otherwise. Also? Going back a bit - He's not." The Devil pouted in his direction. "In league with me. Can't be, Ally here keeps beating me black and blue with rules, and ethics and moral requirements before I'm allowed to associate with him. It's all so very discombobulating, being me and expected to abide by 'rules' of all things. I mean, really? Me? Ethical? Moral? She's delusional is what she is. Oh, and, by the by, I must say, for an Lord of an Ancient and Noble Bloodline, your occlumancy is pure shite."
Ally scowled, "Two words, Lucifer. Holy. Water."
He cringed backwards. "I'm behaving!" He defended.
"And I'm the sugar plum fairy."
There were sixty-four dead already, and it wasn't even time for morning tea yet. And since the maids hadn't successfully slinked (as Dormettes tended to do) off with the breakfast dishes before Her Unearthly Majesty had started another day of mayhem and slaughter, tea was likely to be late this morning. Basically, it should be noted, that nothing really new was happening in the Unseelie Court. Just another day, like any other, full of the same shit where the servants and subjects of a very demanding and frankly terrifying Queen struggled to survive under her incredibly oppressive thumb.
Or, at least, that was the perspective of the minions. And were one able to ask one of the recently departed minions for their perspective, they would have admitted that Her Majesty's body count was running a mite bit higher than usual for a Wednesday.
Fortunately, and that said was incredibly subjective, because not a living subject felt fortunate, but as per Her Darkling Majesty, neither living nor dead minions were entitled to a valid or considered opinion. As far as the Queen of Air and Darkness was concerned, the peasants were pathetic whiners whose lives were sworn to her. That mean she could kill them if she ruddy wanted to. Neener.
As it were, on this particular Wednesday, Her Majesty had a small problem. Or, perhaps, it was best to claim that to the average individual it was a small problem. For Her, it was epic problem of colossal scale, a MOUNTAIN to overcome, and apparently none of her demented useless moronic underlings had a ruddy clue how to fix it. They were to serve and advise her, and they were all fundamentally useless. Honestly, she had more than three quarters of a mind to kill the whole lot and start over.
(Eh. She might keep the hellhounds. They had worked out well, if one ignored the scratches on doors and shitting in the throne room. Minor inconveniences, really. The blood of an bogie was infinitely harder to get off stone than hell shit was.)
Be that as it may, She had requested, over a poached egg, a ridiculously simplistic thing, it was almost embarrassing to ask, but she'd braved up and put it out there.
What would be the penultimate gift that One such as Herself might give an 11 year old boy for his birthday?
The idiot flock of minions had utterly disappointed Her. First it was something absurd like a muggle Super Nintendo Entertainment System (and what the deuce was that? Stupid minions!). Then it was suggested a cricket bat and ball, or a football. Really? SHE didn't run, so why would a Dark Lord like little Harrikins? Now, maybe a football team, but that would be a bit too frivolous a gift, when She didn't know if the Dark Lord even liked football.
It was disappointment after disappointment, and completely ruined her breakfast. Clear as mud, someone(s) had to die.
Was it too much to expect the demented throng manage this one itsy bitsy easy-peasy task?
"The next fool to not deliver a most pleasing answer shall be drawn and quartered. So. Tell me now, and be careful with your words if you wish to keep your head on your neck- what magnificent awe inspiring, indebting-to-Us gift does the Darkest Queen of all gift to the Dark Lord on his eleventh birthday?"
For purposes of clarification it should be noticed that in the highly sexist and discriminatory magical world, a true dark lord trumped queen any and every day. And yes, that did miff the Queen of Air and Darkness tremendously, but what could a girl do? Eviscerate everyone (male) just to reach the top? Tempting, but too time consuming. Besides, then she'd be listening to females whinge about not having men to service their needs (that of changing light fixtures, plumbing repairs, drywalling and such, because sex stores had toys in plenty, as far as She-of-Air-and-Darkness was concerned).
She shifted in her throne, fist clenching her scepter like a mace (because it was), and red eyes gleaming with menace, "Well? Silence will see you all slaughtered."
There was a stirring in the crowd gathered before her dark throne, a restless shifting, and some yearning looks towards the two exits. Sure, every stupid answer would result in death, but how was that unreasonable? All She wanted was the BEST EVER gift idea; how hard was that to deliver?
"ANYONE?" She roared, her scepter with a wicked sharp curve to it, that no one dared. "I don't want a suggestion like 'scooter', or 'computer', or 'candy'. Nor do I want something about sports, or gaming - really, gambling at eleven? That is a suggestion of that damnable Lucifer's character. I need unique, one of a kind, un-trumpable gift! A gift that would never be forgotten, something that will keep the boy forevermore grateful to US! A gift neither the Lich or Lucifer himself can best."
"Give him the secret." Shouted one minion at the back of Her hall. Hidden by the bulk of others, and shadows, as if that would protect him from Her wrath if she was not pleased. "Package it up in a box, a whisper to his ear alone, and thus neither Lich or Lucifer can ever best it, for once given, it can never be replaced.
Okay, that all sounded good, but… She was a busy Queen, and from time to time little details escaped her mind. Like this one. Still, appearances being what they were, she sneered "What secret?"
"THE SECRET." The minion shouted hoarsely, skulking deeper into shadows.
Idiot. She could summon him by his very bones. Still… a secret. If there was a secret, and shared, that was… hm. "I've a lot of skeletons in closets, dead-weight. Which secret?"
"He's mortal. Give him THE Secret."
Huh. Oh! Wait! Well. Now there was a thought. She could get the jump on the rest of the Powers that Be with that one, and it's the kind of gift you just couldn't beat. No way to top it, no replacements possible. Hmm. Yes. It would certainly solve a number of problems on her end of the spectrum too.
"You all owe your lives to this unnamed cretin." She declared. The original reward she had first offered to the court for giving her a good suggestion had been a year free of the court, but that had been hours ago, and since the winner of such price had chosen anonymity, well. Wasn't that a pity for him? More minions to torture and torment! She swept off her throne, her gown swirling in shadowy inky darkness around her feet, and with a mere moment of thought, vanished into the Air and Darkness she was Queen of.
Harry skipped along, his stomach happily full from lunch, although Pru had scowled fiercely at her plate. The small pub Jasper had led them to was located on the corner of Knocturn Alley and Dinural Court, in an dingy old building. The pub itself was a bit tired looking, but meticulously clean, and the smells from the kitchen delicious. The old barkeep, Jonesy had sure been happy to see their party trudge in, very welcoming. And just like everyone else Jasper had ever seen, Jonesy took a real shine to Harry. The lad had that kind of impact on people.
Still, their party had been good for clearly a waning business. "It's the lack of dark creatures doing business in ol' Knockturn." Jonesy had commented early upon their arrival, whilst bringing over four ales, a tray of butterbeer, and a pot of tea. "I rather preferred them as clients than the few dark wizards who stray through here. Uppity bunch."
Still, whether it was that Jasper and his four mates were werewolves, or that Pru was clearly a Hag, Jonesy was right happy to have them in his pub. Well, the fact five werewolves, a hag and a young lad had ordered a heaping table full of food, and a large bill, probably endeared them even more.
They'd nearly licked every plate clean. (Pru had stopped Harry from trying. Hags were notorious for eating small children, but they were damn fussy about table manners. Who knew?)
"That was great!" Harry nearly sang as he skipped along happily behind Ralphie and Jock, two of Jasper's pack that were nearest the door. "I'm so full I could just burst." For good measure, he patted his little food baby belly.
"Lovely image, dearheart. Please don't." Pru humped along behind him. Her head was cocked awkwardly, as if listening for something distant. "Does anyone hear…"
Ralphie had pushed open the door, and a trio of Dementors swooped down on him. It was a furious flurry of a moment, Pru raising her cane, Jasper dropping his money bag and launching himself to the door, Jock, Artie and Loki pulling Ralphie back out of the clutches of the Dementors… but Harry… in that frantic moment, made a funny sound of both fear and fury, and literally threw himself forward, tackling the Dementor with all his strength. They fell, a tumble of robes, and boy.
To Jasper's horror, though, the Dark Lord and the Dementor landed in a bad position, causing the larger figure, being the Dementor to plant a soul-sucking kiss on Harry's head.
The world seemed to come to a complete frozen stop then. Harry shuddered once, and then seemed to crumple inwards, eyes closed, and Jasper… well, he wasn't sure if he was really moving, or breathing, when he swept into the fray of five Dementors swarming around their unconscious and possibly unsouled Dark Lord.
Behind him, he could hear Pru's incandescent rage in form of a screech that could shatter glass. Jasper and his boys paid that no mind, they were focused only on Harry.
And then… the world moved, Harry moaned, and the dementor….seemed to choke… his shoulders moving in a heave of some sort, as if nauseated beyond endurance. Jasper didn't care. He no sooner scooped Harry into his arms, when Pru's gnarled hand clutched at him, and they vanished by portkey.
The Dementors left behind watched as one of their own began to wretch black ichor on the ground.
BREAKING NEWS - DAILY PROPHET SPECIAL EDITION!
Boy-Who-Lives survives the impossible again!
Witnesses in Knockturn Alley watched in horror as Dementors swarmed the Boy-Who-Lived who had clearly wandered down the wrong alley whilst shopping for school supplies.
Described as a rather tall, slender young lad with his father's famous hair, and his mother's glowing green eyes, Barkeep Jonesey declared the lad was well mannered and very considerate of others.
It was as the lad left the pub, clearly having sought direction, that he was accosted by a swarm of Dementors. Witnesses say that the lad was surrounded, and kissed on the spot. He seemed to fall unconscious for a moment, but was seen to move independently.
Sadly, his trauma did not end here, as witnesses further claim that the famed Baba Yaga swooped in to grab the lad during his moment of weakness, and vanished to parts unknown! Will we see the Boy-Who-Lived ever again?