Serpent Tongue: Chapter Twenty-Four: In the Atlantic
AN: Merry Christmas, everyone!
There's been a lot of theories about the Fates' eerie message to Aggie, but I guess you'll just have to wait and see. I will say that the box at the end of the last chapter is not a Horcrux and neither is Riddle's diary, because in this AU the Horcruxes don't exist; the diary is important, as is the box, but they aren't Horcruxes.
Book 2 is actually going to be split into 2 parts so I'm going to stop worrying about how long it's getting.
I will say that based on the direction that this fic is going, it's very unlikely that George and Hope will actually be in a relationship, something I hadn't really thought about when I started the fic, but, then again, pirates weren't even meant to be a major part of the fic. The fics I write are pretty organic and definitely evolve as time goes on, so a lot of the ideas I come up with are never implemented.
Thalia looked down at the annulment papers for her husband, a frown marring her lips, her pen stilling just over her signature line, caught between what was the best thing to do.
Nileas Ganis had been simultaneously the best and worst thing to ever happen to her. He'd given her two amazing children and their love had been something she had marvelled at at the time, but then he'd left without a word or even a thought, disappearing from their lives as though he'd never been there in the first place.
Thalia looked to the old framed picture on her desk to her sister's bright and smiling face, cheek-to-cheek against hers. Her heart throbbed. She should've had Aglaia buried under the Blackwood name, but Aglaia had been born before her parents' marriage –too free and unconcerned to think about anything but their love and care for each other and their child– and so she took her father's name, Gerus, as it was the custom of the Blackwoods that their name be carried on, despite marriage. Such a tragedy, it had been called when she died and it must've been worse for the partner Thalia herself had never met.
It was strange that she'd never known his name and that he'd never come to the funeral.
"Just sign it, already!"
Thalia jumped in her seat as her best friend plopped herself into the seat before her. Ophelia Megalos was tanned and freckled from a recent dig in Egypt, as the Rune Analyst was one of the best in the world, and an inspiration for Aggie.
Ophelia arched an eyebrow. "That scum never deserved you as a wife."
Thalia sighed. "It's not that simple. The children—"
"The children, your children," Ophelia put a dark emphasis on the word, "have every reason to hate him, and they do. There's no need to keep yourself tied to someone who ran for the hills as soon as he had the chance."
Thalia pursed her lips thoughtfully, looking down at the paper.
"Thalia, are you all right?"
She blinked and looked up past Ophelia to Remus Lupin standing at the side of her desk, a smile coming up automatically, even though she knew Ophelia's eyes were immediately drawn to the scars and the cane.
"Perfectly fine," she smiled, her heart speeding up just slightly, "I'm just late for lunch." She winked at him, seeing as he was the one she was late to meet. Their standing Thursday lunches was starting to be the highlight of her week, and she was sure that was telling.
Remus laughed even as she stuffed the parchment into her desk and took his arm, scowling over her shoulder at Ophelia who had slid her glasses down her nose slightly in order to cast a knowing glance towards her friend. "Catch you later, Thals, I've gotta catch someone about the increased number of ghostly apparitions I saw in Egypt…" Ophelia waved two fingers at her friend before darting away, calling over her shoulder, "It sounds most suspicious!"
Thalia huffed a laugh and turned around. "The usual?"
"But, of course," Remus responded easily.
Hope was frowning over the spherical astrolabe, scrutinizing it as though through magnifying glass as if looking for some hidden indents to press at. She'd looked up what a spherical astrolabe was supposed to look like and there was something slightly off about hers.
"You're way more into that than I thought you'd be," Hermione said after swallowing some eggs. They were sitting together at the Gryffindor table that crisp Sunday morning with their Slytherin shadow.
It had quickly become noticeable that Ginny was not very comfortable in Slytherin House (to which Hope would say "Who would be?"), but Hope didn't think she was improving her chances by hanging out with Hope, whose name was mud even more than usual.
"These constellations look off, is all," Hope grumbled. "Argo Navis is supposed to be on the opposite hemisphere…"
"Well, we know who's going to pass their Astronomy exam," Fred winked across the table from her and Hope rolled her eyes.
"Are you saying you're going to fail?" she asked dryly.
"Probably," George laughed, "with how much he's studying."
They all laughed at the outraged expression that appeared on Fred's face.
"I thought we were blaming Angelina for that?" Daphne asked innocently and Ginny giggled while the other witch pushed at Daphne's shoulder.
But they all turned to Hope when she said suddenly. "Aha!" She blinked when she realized that she had all of their attention. "Oh, sorry, it was just jammed." She twisted the knob at the top and the bronze plating of stars morphed into continents.
"So, it becomes a globe?" Hermione's brow creased.
"Well, that's boring," Daphne complained, "it could've been an explosion!"
That earned her a few looks but Hope considered the astrolabe in contemplation.
She knew she looked like hell after the strange dream she'd had about Salazar only to be followed by one about a Keres with its claws at Hope's throat. Hope held in a shudder. Still, the biggest problem that she was having as a godling, and it was going to take some getting used to referring to herself with that word, was the monsters.
"Just try to stay within the borders of the school, all right?" Thalia had said to Hope and Hope squelched the urge to point out that the Keres had gotten through the wards at Potter Manor which she thought were a good bit more powerful. "We're trying to get back to the source of the breach, then we can work on fixing the Gates themselves."
She and Galen were sort of dealing with the monsters on an almost case-to-case basis, whenever they popped up, but Hope thought it was smarter to track them down than waiting.
Finding a way to identify monsters by finding them on a globe could be a good start…maybe there was a good spell in Morea's book for enchanting objects with locator spells. Either way it was going to take time for Hope to get it working.
Hope leaned down in order to replace it in her bag when her book suddenly fell off the table and open to a page that she hadn't gotten to. Hope leaned down and grabbed it, looking to the page in curiosity.
Banshee was emblazoned on the top of the page. A banshee, the passage said, is a spirit of Irish origins that is more often female than not. The banshee is known as a death omen who heralds death by wailing, keening, or screaming, though screaming is the most common. Banshees are not all similar in appearance as other creatures are, though there are many accounts of women with long streaming hair, ghastly complexion and red eyes from continual weeping.
Banshees are best known for their ability to predict death and their fatal screams, despite this, sometimes a Banshee can sometimes predict a near-death experience or a transformation through death, though those instances are rare. The range of a Banshee's scream often depends on the power of the Banshee. Some Banshees can only affect a person they are directly in front of, whereas others could have a destructive outward force.
They are a rare species of subhuman that can form a mental bond with another being for survival, as not very many species are capable of such a feat, especially if it's subconscious. Such an ability is often compared to a marriage-bond that many witches and wizards find themselves with, however, marriage is not required for such a bond and more often than not the bonds are platonic and a means for the Banshee to protect themselves.
Hope frowned thoughtfully. A death omen…now that was something that Hope could understand, being a descendent of Death himself.
Banshees have one known weakness: gold. The belief is that since gold is what is known as a Noble Metal that are resistant to corrosion in moist air it is toxic to Banshees, as the origin of the Banshee revealed that they were once beings of mist and fog.
Hope closed her eyes, thinking hard, remembering the night when she'd been out at sea with Nomia and appeared on the Concorde. There'd been that Red Coat aiming at Léon de Grammont when his back was turned, when she'd looked back, the bullet gouging into the wood where Léon had been standing had definitely had a distinctive golden colour.
Hope opened her eyes to see George considering her, an eyebrow arched. "Thinking about Banshees, actually."
"Banshees?" he asked, a word that was echoed by her friends. "Why?"
"Morbid curiosity," Hope said with a grin before marking the page and shutting it to re-join the conversation. "Are we still lamenting to Fred's grade in Astronomy?"
Hope laughed. "At least I know who not to get help from when I study."
"Oh, please," Daphne scoffed, "Astronomy's so easy any of us could get through it with our eyes closed."
"Slightly open in Fred's case," Lee interjected with a beaming grin and they all laughed at his expense.
"Exactly how much are you enjoying Lockhart, Hope?" Angelina asked mildly and Hope groaned loudly.
"Ugh," she complained, "he's the absolute worst! Maybe I should just be skipping Defence Against the Dark Arts all together…"
"You can't do that!" Hermione's eyes were wide and her voice stunned. "You'll fail end of the year exams if you do that!"
"Lesser of two evils, if you ask me," Hope grumbled under her breath, digging into her pocket to pull out the will that Bill Weasley had left her with.
She'd had a full day to sit on it and think about how she felt about the will itself, and Hope still wasn't entirely sure how she felt about it, or even what they could have possibly left her.
But she supposed there was only one way to find out.
She was distracted however by the owls filtering in through the hall, distributing letters and gifts to the students from home. Hope wasn't expecting anything, of course, Remus and Thalia and her cousins mirror-called these days instead of sending letters; Remus made a point to check in on her at least once a week, as if he was worried that she would explode if in discontent otherwise (which was fair when considering the fact that she despised her Head of House and he felt much the same). But Hope still looked up at the sounds of surprise, arching her eyebrow at the sight of what appeared to be a bird made completely of water carrying a package.
Hope didn't even realize it was for her until the bird hovered several feet above her and suddenly seemed to melt away, dropping the package into Hope's hands, almost pitching it into her food.
"Nice catch," Alicia grinned. "Who's it from?"
"There's no name," Hermione noticed as Hope pushed her plate aside and cut the twine wound around it, lifting the lid off and blinking at the contents.
Daphne leaned across the table to inspect what it was that Hope had lifted out of the package. "Ooh, cool…what is it?"
Hope's fingers roved over the material. It was tough but malleable, like leather only just a bit more scale-like, formed into the shape of a tunic, the design rather simple.
She frowned suspiciously at it and grabbed the nearest, sharpest knife and stabbed it into the tunic, ignoring Ginny's faint gasp at her side.
"Hope!" Hermione reproached, but she fell abruptly silent because the knife had shattered against the fabric, tiny fragments falling as she shook it out.
"Huh," Hope said, "I guess it's kinda like Frodo's mithril shirt."
Everyone stared blankly at her for a few seconds, but then Hermione's eyes cleared. "Oh, you mean from the Lord of the Rings! I forgot you read those books."
Hope rolled her eyes and laughed. "I had no idea Cerastes skin was so strong…maybe its weak spot is just right behind its head…"
"I sense a story," Fred remarked in a sing-song voice that earned George an exasperated look from Hope, but the twin only shrugged and gave her a wink. Hope shook her head.
"A Cerastes is a Greek mythological monster," Hope said with as much patience as she could muster and hoping to the gods that no one asked her what she was doing fighting Greek mythological creatures in the first place, because that was going to get into complicated territory. "It's like a massive snake with horns. I cut off the head of one over the summer."
"You did what?" Ginny was gaping, too stunned to be shy, but Hermione and Daphne both nodded, they'd heard the story before. She'd never elaborated much on it, like the bodies of the pirates who hadn't been as lucky, or the fear she had felt, and the stunned surprise when it had actually worked. Hope was guessing no one else had seen the horns in the box with labelled jars for the other body parts of the Cerastes, which were probably worth some money.
"It's not that big of a deal," Hope said, pressing her fringe down over the lightning bolt scar on her brow, like doing so hadn't earned her the name Serpent Tongue. "Hey, no, why're you laughing?"she demanded of her friends when the laughter exploded around her, but that only made them laugh harder.
Her friends were the worst.
Sundays were less busy in Gringotts, for which Hope was grateful, then she didn't have people pointing at her scar or people questioning why a twelve-year-old was at Gringotts on the weekend alone.
A goblin named Gornuk had her set up in a private room that had only the single chest within it, as had been specified in Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel's will.
The chest itself was rather old and unassuming and Hope could see the worn and peeling letters of PF, so that meant it belonged to Perenelle.
Hope undid the latches and flipped the top open to reveal the contents within, and whatever she'd been expecting, it hadn't been that, though she supposed she should've guessed with the story Perenelle had spun for her when she'd gone to see the Flamels over the summer.
There was a long leather cylinder that she realized was there to protect parchment within and when she pulled the parchment free, she had to dust off them off, blowing the dust away and examining them intently. It looked like they were maps of a sort with specific locations marked, so it must've been significant, but Hope wasn't sure what exactly it meant.
She reached inside again and this time pulled out a very worn compass, bound in leather and with something that looked remarkably like blood seeping into the creases.
Then she pulled out a sword belt. It looked rather unlike Nomia's and Léon's, whose belts had stretched vertically across the chest and more like William and Bridger's who wore theirs at their waist with their swords slightly below. Apparently, pirates were a big fan of large buckles, as Perenelle's was shaped like a cresting wave.
Hope blinked, examining it closely this time. Where the compass had been worn –though still not as much as Hope had expected–, the belt itself appeared to be new, one that hadn't been Perenelle's own.
She set it aside.
There were several books, all with a focus on piracy and Hope was beginning to see a common theme. There were two bracelets that were ornate metal with a bluish gemstone in the middle; Hope thought they might've been significant, but she wasn't sure what they were for.
Hope didn't know how long she examined the contents of the chest until she reached the bottom with only a single small box remaining with a letter in a loopy scrawl for Hope Potter. Hope sat back down on the floor and broke the seal on the envelope and unfolded the letter within.
Hope, it started:
I'm sure you will find it surprising to discover a single bequest for you in our will when everything else has been given away, but there is a method to our madness, I promise you. It had been quite some time since I'd thought about Nomia and my time on the Golden Fleece, even though all the memories I had of it were surely good and certainly impacted my life henceforth, and it is always good to remember both the good and the bad that comes with reliving our pasts. Before the details of the will were even finalized I found myself seeking out the Naiad captain of the Golden Fleece for simply farewell's sake. She was pleased and surprised to see me, until I described you, a girl she referred to only as El, and I suppose there was in importance to you using a different name, but it mattered not, all that mattered was that I was able to bid an old friend a final farewell given that none of my school friends still remain on this earth.
Nomia was always a difficult person, but steadfast, loyal, and strong, and she had told me of the disagreement the two of you had the day previously, but one that seemed profoundly serious and deep. I also understand that it was something that was incredibly personal for you and it probably hurt quite a bit. Wearing masks is always a difficult business, but you are certainly not alone in the endeavour. Everyone wears a mask at some point in their life, some perhaps longer than others.
I hope you don't take offense to our speaking about you, Hope, you were simply one of the many topics we spoke of. I know that Nomia has found it difficult to take on protégés in what she describes as the wake of the utmost betrayal, something she can't bring herself to speak much of, even now.
What I mean to say is…no one is perfect, everyone is flawed, but moving forward is always the better option to looking back. Nomia sees your potential and you see yourself in comparison to her as a weaker, less skilled version. Truth is in the eye of the beholder, my dear, and I hope that one day you can see your own potential just as she does.
Hope pursed her lips, eyes flowing over the words. It was difficult to grasp that Nomia had been open about the disagreement the pair had had with Perenelle. Hope would be lying if she said that she didn't feel a flare of annoyance at the fact, but it was hard to blame someone who was now dead. Nomia on the other hand was very much alive and therefore, perfectly blameable.
She picked up the last box, shaking it just slightly before peeking inside. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she still replaced the small box within the chest, collecting everything up and returning it to the chest, just as there was a polite knock at the door and a goblin entered.
He bowed shortly and distastefully which Hope decided not to take to heart. "The records you asked for, Heir Potter," he said, extending a parchment towards Hope.
Hope took it, almost having forgotten that she'd asked to check it. The goblins of Gringotts were incredibly meticulous, that much could be said, keeping profiles on those that possessed vaults, and even though Hope was certain in her heritage, she felt the need to check.
Hope Lily Potter was printed clearly and Hope trailed her fingers down until she reached Species, beside which was a single word Non-human, an arrow extending to the right towards the word Godling.
Well, Hope supposed that they would be the ones to know.
"Thank you," she said kindly, returning the parchment to him, but the goblin only grunted and turned around, leaving Hope in the echoing silence.
She blew out a sharp puff of air, frowning as she sat on the chair in the room. It was vindictive to be at least slightly happy that Nomia regretted her words, and Hope couldn't really help it, it was as though Nomia had left her stranded in the middle of the sea with no shore in sight.
Hope needed some advice.
"Hey, there you are! How'd it go at Gringotts?"
Hermione and Daphne caught up to her immediately after Mindy had returned Hope to the castle, which made Hope think that they must've figured out a way to track her dot on their map, either that, or they were incredibly lucky.
"All right," Hope shrugged, her hands holding tight to the hooks on either side of the chest, keeping her from making any gesture with her hands. "Not really what I was expecting, to be honest, but it's not like they left me bad stuff." Quite the opposite, actually. "And I wanted to show some of it to Morgane."
"Morgane? That mermaid you mentioned?" Hermione skipped slightly beside her as they headed out over the sprawling green grass in the direction of the Black Lake. "Why?"
"Because some of it I don't really understand and she served on ship once, so she probably knows better," Hope gave another shrug, hesitating to call Morgane a pirate when she'd only admitted to befriending pirates, not really noticing the faintly amused smile on Daphne's face.
Daphne had seen Hope more light-hearted in the past few days than she had probably since the day she'd met her, despite learning a lot of things that probably scared her. It was like the saying went, the truth will set you free.
Hope set down the chest in the grass and started pulling her shoes off in order to stand in the water, cool water soaking her feet first and then her ankles as she went further. Hope crouched down to press her hand just slightly against the surface of the water.
"Kaló Morgane," she intoned, her eyes glowing green. For a few moments there was only silence and then Daphne gasped suddenly at the sight of a finned tail that was such a bright and beautiful colour and the next thing anyone knew a head of dark hair was flipped back to reveal gleaming dark skin and eyes.
"A weak summoning spell, Elpis, I'll give you that," the mermaid bared her teeth in a smile but Hope, given some more extensive research on mermaids and their love of drowning men (Hope had noticed that men were preferable and really you had to wonder why that was), couldn't help but think that if anyone crossed Morgane they'd find it a bit more terrifying. "Who're your friends?"
"This is Daphne Greengrass," Hope said gesturing first to the blonde and then to the brunette with the French braid, "and that's Hermione Granger."
"Morgane," the mermaid offered helpfully, moving her tail around in the shallows and Daphne was in awe.
"Your scales are beautiful," she couldn't help but tell the mermaid.
"Thank you," Morgane beamed, "I work very hard on them."
"Do you really live in the Black Lake?" Hermione interjected quickly, an almost manic light brightening her eyes. "You don't look like the other mermaids in our books."
"Freshwater versus saltwater is a hot debate." Morgane winked. "You could say I'm visiting." She seemed to almost glow faintly and all three girls had to gape as the scales melted away into skin, leaving her in a long skirt with a colour similar to her top and ultimately her tail. She stretched out her toes. "It's been awhile since I've used my legs, give me a moment…"
She maneuverer herself into a kneeling position, preparing to stand when Hope offered Morgane her hands, which Morgane gratefully took in order to heave herself into an upright position. Unfortunately for the both of them, Morgane overestimated Hope's strength, and Hope underestimated Morgane's ability to remain standing.
Morgane toppled down on top of Hope.
"I think I've broken something," Hope groaned loudly, her ribs protesting as Morgane rolled off to settle on the ground beside her, evidently deciding not to take another chance with standing, the other two giggling at the pair of them. "I might recover sometime this week."
"Oh, don't be so weak," Morgane waved a hand carelessly. "You'll be fine…what did you summon me for exactly?"
"I wanted you to take a look at this," Hope said, pulling the chest forward and opening it for Morgane and her friends to take a look inside.
Morgane's eyebrows rose high on her forehead, looking inside with a bit of interest. "Hm…a lot of good quality gear, you might need to get the compass refitted into some new leather…but this…" Morgane reached inside and grabbed the parchments that were marked maps. "You must've gotten these from another pirate? It would be concerning if the Red Coats had this."
"What is it?" Hermione asked in confusion, cocking her head just slightly.
"It's a list of the pirate ports, well, the ones we used to have," Morgane had to acquiesce. "This must be an old map…several of these were decommissioned after the Red Coats got wind of them."
Hope grabbed ink and a quill from Hermione's bag without bothering to ask, earning her a disapproving noise from the brunette. "Which ones aren't active anymore?"
Morgane took the quill from her and started making crosses and dots, crossing out the ones that were no longer functional and marking new ones that Perenelle had not previously had, but that made sense, as she hadn't been a pirate for centuries before her death.
"Be careful in Singapore, it's the biggest one," Morgane explained, handing it back to Hope, "some of the pirate crews are good quality, but others can be as unpredictable as the sea, then you have to worry about them on top of the Reds…but if you ever see Madame Jiaying Liu tell her I say hi, you know, if you'd survive." Morgane's eyes twinkled. "She's a grandmother now, I hear, and supposedly her family has a skill with dragon fire."
"Where do pirates find these people?" Daphne muttered in bemusement, shaking her head.
"Dragon fire?" Hope was still blinking in incomprehension.
"It's not that pirates are finding them," Morgane said, giving a small nod to Hope in agreement, "it's that they are finding pirates because they are pushed to by circumstances outside of their control."
"What d'you mean?" Hermione frowned, intrigued by where the conversation was going.
"Elpis," Morgane said instead and Hope's eyes flashed to hers, "can you tell me the species of the pirates on Nomia's crew."
"Oh!" Hope lifted her hands to start ticking them off on her fingers. "Bridger's human, William's a werewolf—"
"A werewolf out at sea?" Daphne asked doubtfully.
"He's a born werewolf that can control his shift, not like Remus," Hope explained quickly before moving on. "I think Cora was part fae, but she didn't bring it up much, Simon was definitely a Veela—"
"Would you say, then, that the majority of Nomia's crew is made up of non-humans?" Morgane countered and Hope paused.
She'd never really thought about it much since Nomia had originally explained how some crews preferred all creatures and others all humans, while some didn't particularly care and had a mix of the two. There couldn't have been more than five humans on Nomia's crew, now that she thought about it.
"Mostly, yeah," Hope had to agree.
"Every magical community has their prejudices," Morgane informed them, "though I will say that the English are by far the worst, so you have my condolences."
Hope wrinkled her nose, but she couldn't deny it. She'd always known that things were rather difficult for Remus to make a living unless he chose to work in the Muggle world, which was what she assumed he'd done before he became the tutor to her, Hermione, and Daphne, and, more recently, Astoria. Hope assumed it was still going well, Remus hadn't given any indication otherwise.
"Being a pirate starts to sound like a good idea when its free to room and board and food is shared amongst the crew, and, if your captain is fair, you get a pretty even percentage of the loot that you salvage…a lot of magical communities aren't as good about it."
"I thought the Greek one was pretty good," Hope muttered half-heartedly.
"Well, the Greeks are used to the weird and strange, Greece is like a nexus for the abnormal," Morgane snorted, "but trust me, they've got their problems as well."
Hope looked down at the map once more. "These Red Coats…why are they…" She couldn't quite form the correct word in her brain, but, luckily, Morgane got her meaning.
"Why are they the way they are?" she offered and Hope nodded.
Morgane sighed, her eyes growing distant and Hope was supposing that she was thinking of the time she'd spent aboard one of the vessels of the Red Coats until she'd realized what they did and abandoned ship, swimming for the nearest mermaid establishment.
"Originally, I think they served a higher purpose, that they had a calling back when pirates were more like looting crusaders, leaving only rubble and flames in their wake," she admitted, "Redcoat was a term given to those that were a part of the British Army because they wore these distinctive coat…I believe once I heard one joke that it was a good thing they were red, or no one would be able to wash the blood out."
Hermione appeared rather green at the nonchalant way Morgane had spoken and Daphne looked unnerved, but, to her credit, Hope was unfazed, she, after all, had been the only one to see the Red Coats in action, albeit for a very short period of time, though one that would be burned into her memory for a very long time.
Only cold experience could cause Morgane to be so unaffected by what she was saying, the same kind of experience that turned the look in Hope's eyes hollow.
"You won't find a creature on the crew of any of the ships captained by Red Coats," Morgane said simply before correcting herself, "well, not willingly, anyways…I've heard they're not above chaining up some to kill other pirates, which is frankly disgusting, but not outside the realm of possibility…" Morgane's lips curled somewhat in her disgust. "But the point is…they don't like non-humans, much like your Death Eaters didn't like…what's your word for non-magical folk, again?"
"Muggles," Hermione informed her dutifully and Morgane nodded seriously.
"Muggles," she agreed, "Death Eaters don't like Muggles and Muggle-borns. You can think of the Red Coats as the pirate alternative to the Death Eaters, but the Red Coats are more cohesive and dangerous, and they know that knowledge comes from power, ancient power… the Dark Lords of your country sought immortality in more ways than one, but the leader of the Red Coats doesn't need something he already has, power, on the other hand, that's something he maintains after all these centuries."
Hope's brow furrowed. There had to be a reason, though, for the leader of the Red Coats to be the way he –if it was a he– was, something that drove him.
"Honestly, I still have no idea why the Red Coats are so determined to end pirates, especially the non-human beings on the crews," Morgane admitted. "Maybe its revenge, maybe its fear, maybe it's the desire to be above those they deem inferior…maybe there's a higher being pulling the strings, even I'm not sure…But it's best not to dwell on it, Elpis. Some people can't be reasoned with, some people are just cruel and cold and their reasons for being so have long since been forgotten.""
That, Hope found, was not comforting in the slightest.
Hope was starting to realize that she had now developed a tendency to go off on her own without her friends since the school year had begun and she was starting to feel a bit bad about it.
But she also wasn't sure about bringing them all the way down to the Marina in Greece, especially since pirates were generally incredibly paranoid about outsiders coming into designated ports.
Hope tried not to draw too much attention as she made her way down the cobbled streets, searching for one shop in particular, the blacksmith's shop.
It wasn't too hard to find, as she soon discovered, easy to spot with the steady column of smoke rising from the chimney. Hope pushed the door open, causing the bell on the door to jingle, to which a voice called from the back: "Be right with you!"
Hope herself was quite interested with the assortment of weapons around her, sharpened steel and iron, some shiny and some dulled. She moved to stand where there were an assortment of daggers and knives on the walls. They were painfully sharp and some even had ornate carvings, but there was one that was solid black.
She lifted it off the wall, holding it in her hand.
"Careful with that," a voice mentioned behind her and Hope turned to see a man with a face blackened with soot and smoke, his beard fully and wiry with twinkling eyes.
"Its heavy," Hope noticed, still weighing it in her hand.
"It works best for throwing," the man informed her before extending his hand. "May I?"
Well, it wasn't really hers in the first place, so Hope handed it over easily, eyebrows rising high at how casually he flipped the blade up in his hand before drawing back and tossing it. Her eyebrows inched even higher at how it lodged into the wood of the door.
"Wow," she found herself admitting, "impressive." Even she wasn't sure herself if she was talking about his aim or the blade itself.
He moved around her to yank the dagger out of the door, this time getting a good look at her. "I remember you," he realized, "you were that monster killer girl, the one that cut off the head of that Cerastes that showed up here a month or two ago…Serpent Tongue?"
"That's what they call me," Hope shrugged, taking the hand he offered, "Elpis Slytherin, or El, I'm not too picky."
"Well, El," he said putting an awful lot of emphasis on her name, perhaps more than was necessary, but it made Hope crack a smile, which might've been his intent, "I'm the blacksmith here, the name's Adrian."
Hope tried not to let it show that his name bothered her, thinking briefly of Adrian Slytherin and his darkness before she could aggressively push the thought down.
"What can I do for you?"
"I'm looking to have a sword made," Hope said, leaning against the counter and bringing out a folded parchment from within her pocket and extending it to him.
He gave her a look as he unfolded it and Hope turned pink. "I'm not the best artist," she had to admit.
"That much is obvious."
She tried hard not to roll her eyes and scowl.
"But I've had worse," he had to concede. "A broadsword, yes?"
"What kind of metal d'ya want?" Adrian asked, making notes on a slip of parchment.
"Aegean Iron," Hope said swiftly and that made him pause and look her up and down. Hope was rather unassuming with her hair done in curls and casually wearing her jeans, looking rather like she should be lounging around in some park and enjoying the sun, but here she was, at a pirate port trying to get a sword made.
"Planning on any more monster killing?" he asked mildly.
"I'll take what I can get," Hope fired back in retort, which only served to make him grin.
He gave her a price and said "I'll even throw in the dagger," which Hope hadn't been expecting at all, but she found it rather interesting, so she decided to say nothing and just hand over the gold.
"One more thing—" Hope yelped in pain as he grabbed her hand and cut deeply along her palm, red springing instantly from the wound and he caught the droplets in a small tin, apparently delighting in her outrage. "Works better when its infused with your blood."
Hope muttered something unsavoury under her breath that made Adrian grin as he offered her a cloth to press against the wound. This time Hope didn't bother to stifle the full-on glare that she tossed in his direction before leaving and slamming the door shut extra hard behind her.
Aggie was barely sleeping, the words of the Fates still ringing in her ears. Galen's concern had been touching, but she didn't dare to think of if that prophecy had meant him or Hope, but her mind conjured up the images regardless. Hope bloodless, eyes unseeing; Galen clutching at his chest as blood fell from his wounds before he collapsed.
She viciously shook those thoughts out of her head. No, she wouldn't let that happen!
The lamp at her bedside flickered once and most ominously, casting shadows over the book in her hands. She hadn't yet opened the Necronomicon, maybe because she was afraid doing so would cause the prophecy to come to pass, which was ludicrous, as prophecies could never be outrun, perhaps forgotten or denied, but that didn't cause them to cease by force of will.
Aggie opened the Necronomicon to gaze down on the pages. There were symbols instead of actual words and for a moment they were utterly useless until Aggie realized that they all made complete sense to her.
So, she began to read, all the while thinking of how cruel Death was.
"Doesn't any of that make you want to stop being a pirate?"
Hope, Hermione, and Daphne were hanging out in Morea's Secret Room, very much aware that it was getting close to curfew. A year ago, Hermione would've cared more, but having both their map and Hope's invisibility cloak made it easier to stay later and not be seen re-entering their common rooms.
Hope was crossing a line through the word Banshee on the blackboard that she'd acquired from what Daphne could only suspect to be an unused classroom. There was a variety of names of creatures on the board, some of which she had listed under headings. Those were the ones classified in their Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Book; Basilisks, Demiguises, Dragons, Fairies, Ghouls, Griffins, Ogres, Veela, Ghosts, Dementors, and Sprites were among those listed. Then there were the ones from Greek Mythology, including: Godlings, Chimeras, Keres, and Cerastes, and those were the ones she was the most familiar with. Only a few of those ones were crossed out. Now she was under the Irish Mythology heading for Banshee.
Daphne had to wonder just how intensive this bestiary she was working on was meant to be, though she had to admit, it was far better use of her time than actually paying attention in Defence Against the Dark Arts, no matter what Hermione believed.
Hermione's question had caused Hope to pause, just making the chalk line through the last 'e' and then she twisted just slightly to look to where Hermione and Daphne were lounging on the couch. The shadows caused by the flames seemed to darken the scar that now stretched to the edge of her eye, but if Daphne shifted her head just slightly she could swear that there were three slashes through Hope's eye instead of one.
"Learning about the Red Coats or whatever they are?" Hermione probed.
"I saw the Red Coats in action," Hope said after a short and stilted silence, "what Morgane said just makes them a bit worse than I'd originally thought."
"But you'd still want to be a pirate." It wasn't even a question from Daphne, merely a statement of fact.
Hope inhaled deeply through her mouth and exhaled through her nose. "I don't know…but I've always been the happiest when I was out at sea…it was utterly endless and…" Her eyes shined a deep blue. "…and utterly beautiful. I'm not sure if I could really be happy with what everyone else does." She dropped the piece of chalk and fell into the armchair. "You know, getting a job at the Ministry right out of school, marrying a school sweetheart, having children." Her expression faltered slightly. "Doing what my parents did," she had to admit.
She didn't even know if her parents had jobs after school or even what they specialized in, it was something she realized that she hadn't really asked Remus about.
"I don't want to be forced to be someone I'm not," she said finally before giving them a smile, "and what's more adventurous than being out at sea?"
"You are absolutely unreal," Daphne laughed suddenly and Hope grinned wildly before pushing at her with her toes, causing Daphne to shriek in an effort to get away from her, which only earned them a laugh from Hermione. "Hermione, help!"
Hermione swatted them both with her book. "You two are the worst, the absolute worst!"
Hermione yelped loudly as she was suddenly crushed by the weight of her two friends.
"This is what happens when you're born before the rest of us, Hermione," Daphne said above her and Hermione grumbled under her breath before finally succeeding in pushing them both off of her.
"You're both menaces to society."
"Yeah, because conforming is always a good idea!"
Hermione rolled her eyes at Daphne. "Have you both finished that essay for Charms?"
"What, no, of course not," Daphne responded. "That was assigned yesterday, Hermione!"
"I finished it." They both looked to Hope who was shuffling her Tarot cards that she'd pulled out of her bag. She pulled the first card up and frowned. "It's always Death," she muttered to herself before realizing that she had both of their undivided attention. "I figured it was a good idea to get it out of the way."
"Is that because you wanted to work on the new teleportation thing or the bestiary thing?" Hermione asked before pausing. "Why are you always working on something might be a better question, Hope, don't you ever want to relax?"
"Meh," Hope shrugged, "I like to be kept busy, is all."
More like she didn't want to slow down, but Daphne thought it best not to comment on it.
"I've been doing a lot of reading on palmistry," she said instead, plopping herself in front of Hope while Hermione clamoured up onto the couch, Crookshanks, her cat that had a tendency to run off as though trailing after some unseen enemy, leaping up onto her lap once she'd settled, throwing a scoff in the direction of Daphne, which she ignored. They were all incredibly aware of the doubts Hermione had toward Divination as a whole, but the art still had merit to Daphne, Trelawney notwithstanding.
Hope forfeited her hand easily to her friend, who opened a book to palmistry.
Daphne inspected her hand closely. "I think you have an air hand, but I'm not really sure…that just has to do with your hand's shape…most people with air hands are mentally active, restless, and easily bored—"
"Sounds right so far," Hermione grinned, petting Crookshanks' head and Hope glowered at her over Daphne's head.
"—They want to expand their knowledge and are logical in thought and do possess good intuitive capabilities, but you never know, I might be wrong." She sniggered suddenly at the look on Hope's face.
Now she was trailing her fingers over the different creases in her hand.
"Okay, so your heart line is littler shorter, but not too short…which means…" Daphne frowned at her book. "Which means that you have little interest in romance, which is pretty true." Hope snorted at that. "But there's also a circle on your heart line and that indicates depression and sadness…so stuff to look forward to."
Hope had to stifle her amusement into her hand this time. "Man, I should be getting my palm readings done only by you in the future."
Hermione giggled and Daphne ignored her.
"So, this is your head line," Daphne continued, tracing her finger over the crease, "it's meant to show your intellect. Yours is curved…which means that you're creative and spontaneous."
"Maybe you should take over for Trelawney," Hermione was still giggling, "because you've been really spot on with Hope's palm."
"Oh, shut up."
Hope grinned as Crookshanks let loose a rather petulant meow as Daphne continued on. "Your life line is right here," she said, sliding a finger down it before blinking in surprise. "Actually, you've got two, that's surprising…the book doesn't actually say what that means, maybe you live a double life?"
Hope sniggered loudly.
"They're both broken lines that have what looks like a square connecting the parts…" Daphne trailed off as she glanced down at the book once more. "And that means that although you'll experience illness or injury or danger –basically anything negative, good for you—" Hermione had to cough loudly to hide her amusement. "—you can turn danger into safety and recover from your injuries."
"Things to look forward to, I'm sure," Hope intoned dryly.
"And the last one is the fate line and it's this one." Daphne drew her finger down Hope's palm. "Yours is deep so you're strongly controlled by destiny…but there are breaks in it, which means that you're going to experience a lot of twists and turns…so basically, you're cosmically screwed."
"Thanks for the completely accurate reading Madame Greengrass," Hope said flatly with an arched eyebrow as Daphne did a mocking sort of bow and Hermione howled with laughter.
Still, it was nice to relax and joke about things like Divination and forget for the briefest moment that anything terrible could happen at any time.
Hope remembered her query to Morgane before she had returned her legs to the scaled tail that it had once been and entered the lake once more.
"A map of creatures is going to be helpful," Morgane had had to concede, "especially with your tendency to be attacked as a Godling, but you need to be careful with something like that. Like I said, people are prejudiced, humans even more so. Something like that could be incredibly dangerous for creatures, it could be used to hunt them down…just be cautious."
And Hope had promised to do so, because she had a feeling that there was more to that astrolabe than met the eye.
This week wasn't much better than the last. The other Slytherins still aren't being very nice to me, except for Daphne Greengrass and Hope Potter. Hope cursed my drapes and told me to come and get her if I had any problems with anything else, but they like her even less than me and I wonder how she does it. She's got thicker skin than me. And I didn't have the heart to tell her that I've been feeling out of sorts, waking up in places I don't remember going, but I didn't want to bother her. You don't mind that I tell you these things, do you Tom?
"Okay, go big or go home, so check this out!"
Late in the week on the way to their Transfiguration class, Hope had whipped out her journal and showed it to her friends.
"What is it?" Hermione asked blankly and Hope groaned so loudly that she almost sounded like a pipe that was misbehaving.
"I decided to rework that idea of mine for teleportation," Hope explained. "My first plan was using gateways to make a sort of bridge between two places, that was thinking I'd start with bodies of water, because water is reflective, and mirrors are gateways…I did a lot of research." She gave them a sheepish grin.
"I'll bet," Daphne snorted. "Wouldn't you rather be doing something fun, you know, like sleeping?"
"Where's the fun in that?" Hope scoffed, flinging a hand as she did so. "You can get so much more done when you don't sleep…but, you know, I have been sleeping."
Hermione arched an eyebrow at just how petulant Hope sounded at the idea of sleeping, though she had to admit that there weren't any dark circles under her eyes –which had been at their darkest during the week of the final exams at the end of the last term– so she must've only awoken that morning with the same manic energy that she was presenting them with. That was impressive even by her standards.
"Anyways, I'm thinking that instead of finding a gateway, it would be easier to simply make one, because, you know, what if you're running around and you need one and there isn't one around?"
"Are you planning on doing a lot of running around, Hope?" Hermione asked with twinkling eyes and Daphne sniggered loudly.
"I'm just trying to be realistic!"
Really, Hope should stick to sketching runes rather than anything else –though Daphne hadn't seen the strange looking box several pages back– because what she'd drawn appeared to be a misshapen sort of gap, strangely shaded, with different words in Greek pointing to it.
"Okay, hang on—" Hope hooked her bag on Hermione's shoulder without even asking and took the journal from Daphne. "I'm not sure what I'm going to call it, maybe something like 'Gating' or 'Ripping', but it's essentially making a rip that connects two places together—"
"And are you sure you should be reading about it out loud?" Hermione asked sharply, the voice of reason.
"Oh, no harm ever came from reading a book," Hope remarked with a lack of concern, making a slice-like motion with her hand before turning around as walking backwards. "So, its…Afíste ton kósmo na syndetheí—"
Hermione yelped first when the air behind her friend appeared to split like a swaying mirage and Hope's eyes widened as she dropped through the opening, leaving only the journal behind.
Hope tried not to freak out when she first found herself unable to breathe and deep under water. It was so shockingly cold that Hope lost her breath instantly, struggling in her attempt to reach the surface. Her face broke through just as the burning in her lungs became too painful to bear.
She only got a short gulp before a wave pushed her under again, catching sight of a shadowy figure with flowing eyes, then she started the cycle again, beating her way to the surface, this time giving her the chance to take in her surroundings. The echoes of cannons pierced the air as water rained down on her from the heavens.
Hope blinked the water out her eyes, surging back as someone was thrown overboard with a terrified yell. The ship's back had only two words on it: The Concorde.
"Léon's ship!" Hope murmured to herself, remembering the angry young French captain and she swam quickly towards it, grabbing onto the knotted rope net on the side of the ship and hoisting herself out of the water.
Her waterlogged hair clung to her skin and Hope was definitely not dressed for being deposited into the Atlantic. Luckily, Hope never wore her skirt without thick tights underneath, no matter the weather, or else she was certain that she would be in an even worse mood.
She pulled herself up at long last, with a huff of breath, keeping her head low as she looked on. There was a ship flying a red flag opposite the Concorde, some red-coated men were swinging over on ropes to battle against the pirates serving on Léon's crew.
"Why couldn't it've dropped me on some beach?" Hope bemoaned to herself before pulling herself over the edge and onto the ship, grabbing up the nearest discarded sword that she could find. One of the Red Coats spotted her before anyone else and lunged for her.
Hope acted instinctively, bringing the sword –which was just a bit heavier than her usual broadsword and a bit cumbersome in her grip, but it was the best she had at the moment– up and stabbing it forward.
It went through his stomach and out his back and Hope had to push him back off the sword, his hands clutching at the wound she'd made. In the back of her mind there was a voice saying that he was eventually going to bleed out from the injury, though not as quickly as the tragic Vivienne had. It was something that made her heart ache, but here Hope was only defending herself against very same enemies that had done so much damage the last time she'd seen them. Did they really deserve anything less from her? And that thought made Hope feel rather uncomfortable, because she was just so…accepting of it, of causing death, and it was definitely something she would have to revisit later, when she wasn't likely to lose her head.
Hope ducked suddenly to avoid a sword with a yelp and threw her free fist forward in retaliation, punching the next one squarely in the nose.
"What the fuck?" came a demand, followed by, "Hey, aren't you that Serpent Tongue girl?"
Hope blinked. She wasn't looking at a Red Coat this time, but a young woman with a sharp sword locked over her stub of an arm as a very lethal prosthesis.
"Uh, hi," Hope said conversationally as she stabbed her sword over the girl's shoulder and into the Red Coat's eye socket. "Love to chat, but, you know—" She twisted away from the befuddled expression on the woman's face to avoid the bullet for a Red Coat's gun.
Léon de Grammont was the easiest to catch sight of, given his typical attire, making it look like he'd stepped right out of a seventeenth century fire fight. Hope had to admire that kick he gave to a Red Coat's solar plexus right before he slit his throat.
She rushed up the steps, stabbing into the second one going for him, so that when Léon twisted around, the man crumpled to the ground.
"I had that!" Léon complained before scowling at the sight of the girl before him, still dressed in her school uniform, her hair black and eyes green.
Hope was vividly reminded of their last conversation.
"Do you always do what people expect?" he'd asked her in regards to wearing that colour for her hair and eyes instead of what he'd originally seen her in.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Léon demanded.
"Saving your life, apparently," Hope intoned before they both stabbed at the wildly yelling Red Coat that came racing up the stairs to have a go at the only two people next to the helm, their backs almost completely to one another.
"Wow, really?" he drawled. "It's not like I'm doing fine on my own."
Irritation was welling up inside her. How on earth did he manage to be so utterly infuriating? She'd never know, but he made her grate her teeth every time he opened his mouth.
"Oh, yeah?" she snarled, grabbing the flintlock pistol strapped to his thigh and firing it over his shoulder. He didn't even blink at the sound, only staring as a Red Coat fell from the rope he'd intended to use to swing up onto the Concorde.
Hope was so surprised that it had actually hit its mark, as she had never used a pistol before, let alone one as old fashioned as the one she now held.
"Lucky shot," Léon decided after a moment with a derisive snort and Hope scowled at him in annoyance as he grabbed the pistol back. "And give me that before you shoot my eye out by mistake!"
"If I was going to shoot your eye out, Léon de Grammont," Hope nearly sneered, "it wouldn't be by accident."
For some reason that made him grin widely and Hope was starting to think he was always rude and crass and that it was impossible for him to be anything but.
"If you're going to be utterly useless," he threw over his shoulder as he fired into the crowd of red that was still swinging onto his ship, "then at least take the helm before we knock into the fucking Reds!"
"Oh, shite!" was the first thing out of Hope's mouth, twisting to see the wheel spinning and feeling the lurch of the ship towards the Red Coats' and Hope practically threw herself onto it, getting the feeling that Léon was somehow going to make that her fault; it seemed like something he'd do.
She grabbed two handles and then spun the wheel quickly in the opposite direction, narrowly avoiding hitting the next ship and causing such a lurch that several people shouted up to her: "Hey, watch it!"
"Sorry!" Hope shouted back before muttering feverishly under her breath. "Okay, I can do this…I can do this…" which was only to counteract the steady thrum of 'I can't do this, I can't do this' that was now echoing inside of her head.
Hope really had no idea what she was doing, she was just fucking her way through steering this ship at this point, and if everything went smoothly, then she'd be set.
But Hope was never so lucky, and they were still in firing range, and she almost pitched completely over the wheel.
"Do you even know what the fuck you're doing?" Léon roared as he duelled with another Red Coat, who was pushing him back up the stairs to where Hope was struggling with her grip on the wheel.
"NO!" Hope snarled. "I don't fucking know what I'm doing! Do I fucking look like I know what I'm doing?" She ducked as an arrow lodged in the door behind her.
Léon gave her a dry stare, which Hope thought he managed quite well.
"Here's a thought," she threw in his direction, "it's your fucking ship, why don't you take the wheel, jack-arse!"
He acted like he hadn't even heard her and Hope's aggravation grew. "Why, I oughta—" Hope muttered under her breath when she caught sight of a fallen Red Coat pulling something bright out of his pocket and loading it into his gun, aiming it at Léon's back.
Hope might've had a lot of thoughts about the French Bastard, but, in this moment, they were on the same side and he hadn't seen his enemy waiting to fire a shot. She abandoned her post and flung herself down the stairs.
"Léon, look out!"
The gun went off and Hope pushed the boy out of the way in time for something to rip into her shoulder, at the top of her arm, burning and excruciating. She was too startled to scream from the pain of it, though the pain was quite great.
She clutched weakly at her shoulder, feeling the warmth of her blood spilling just as constant as the rain pattering down on her. Her eyelids were drooping when a pistol went off and Léon's would-be killer collapsed, unmoving, allowing Léon to reach Hope's side, only to turn his head back in the direction of the Red Coats' ship, open his mouth and let loose a piercing scream.
Hope's eyes flared wide as she watched the air in front of him ripple. She barely even saw the resulting explosion from where the scream connected. The last thing Hope saw before everything faded to blackness was a pair of befuddled hazel eyes that belonged to a Banshee.
AN: I hope you guys all enjoyed the Christmas update! I know a lot of people were looking forward to Léon popping up in the fic once more and I hope you all weren't disappointed, as there is definitely more to come. And he and Hope will definitely not be a pairing.
He and Hope fighting was what I enjoyed the most out of this chapter, to be honest. And we'll probably be seeing more of the Blackwoods later on as they are rather important in book 2's plot.
As always: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE REVIEW!