Quick Exit

Rose led the rush for the door and was the first to look over the five story drop.

James was passing the third floor when his summoned broomstick caught up with him. It took him a second to catch it and mount, so that by the time he had control and started flying, his robes were brushing the floor.

Adam started for the stairs saying, "We'd better get down there. I was not counting on that, James might get there before Tiffany does enough damage." Chimera started down the stairs, summoning their broomsticks. As the broomsticks came to them, they took off, following James.

Professor Dumbledore had been talking with the Househeads when the Headmaster spells alerted him to what was going on, and all five of them were walking down the hall toward the main doors when screams and shouts from behind them made them turn. They were in time to see James arrest his fall, and shoot down the hall.

James passed right through one of the castle ghosts without even seeing him. James was drawing his wand, focused on the main doors when they opened. Professor and Madame Potter were coming in with their broomsticks in hand. James flew right over their heads, even as Professor Dumbledore was calling out. "Stop him."

James was already gone, and Professor Dumbledore sent Harry after him. Harry had already been mounting his broomstick, and he flew after James as the first of the Manticores that had been in Manticore hall when James left started streaming by on their broomsticks.

Chimera was first, closely followed by Mercy and Jerrick. Professor Dumbledore started out, following the rapidly disappearing Manticores. "Madame Potter, you might want to follow them. I think your skills may be needed again."

Ginny mounted her broomstick, and flew after the rest.

James flew toward Tiffany, hoping only that he got there in time to hurt the person that had been saying those things about Tiffany. It wasn't his will that stopped his anger, but Tiffany's threat to castrate Reginald. The threat opened his eyes to what would happen to Tiffany if she actually did that, and that thought was what brought him out of his anger.

He started trying to calm Tiffany, even as he increased his speed again.

Tiffany had started carrying out her threat, and had actually made a small cut in Reginald's robes, when James's thoughts broke through her anger, making her pause.

Reginald made the mistake of trying to break free as she paused, and Tiffany doubled her fist, landing another blow to his face. Reginald's head snapped back, and he shook his head, the fear of what she was trying to do keeping him from passing out.

Before either of them could do anything else, James arrived, and made a running dismount, letting his broomstick fall, as he took Tiffany in his arms. He held her, soothing her anger, and turning so that he was between her and Reginald.

Rose, Melissa and Lisa arrived next, and they landed, taking in the scene at a glance. Lisa looked around, and pulled out her wand. "Reparo," she said, repairing the cut in the front of Reginald's robes.

Harry was the next person to arrive, followed by more Manticores and Ginny. Ginny landed, and started looking over Reginald. She looked at Melissa who was standing there calmly, and not moving to help Reginald at all. "Why aren't you helping, Healer?"

Melissa shrugged. "None of his injuries are life-threatening, and considering that he was telling his friends that he'd used Tiffany, I am not sure I could keep from hitting him right now, let alone healing him."

Ginny Potter froze. She looked up at Melissa. "What did you just say?"

Melissa recounted the things Tiffany had heard.

Ginny Potter turned back to Reginald. "I'm surprised you're still alive."

Professor Dumbledore and the other Househeads had arrived in time to hear the last statement. "Would somebody tell me what is going on here?"

Rose shrugged. "It's simple. Tiffany overheard Reginald telling a couple of Slytherins that he's had sex with her, and since James hears everything she does, he heard it as well. He got a little angry, and she was caught in the rage."

"He's very lucky I was not here. I would have killed him." James was blunt, and the look he was directing at Reginald should have killed him on the spot.

"I would not have killed him, but he might have wished I had." Everyone turned to Harry, who had spoken. The look on his face, as he heard about the slanders being spread about his oldest child reminded people that this was the man who had killed Voldemort and Bellatrix Black in duels.

Professor Dumbledore was about to say something when James spoke again. "I will say this. If I ever hear of you talking about my Soulbonded, or any of my family like that again, I will challenge to a Wizard's Duel, Blood and Bones."

Everyone froze, looking at James. A Wizard's Duel wasn't that bad. A Blood and Bones Duel was just that. It didn't stop until one of the Wizards was bleeding and had broken bones.

Professor Dumbledore frowned. "Nobody has fought a Blood and Bones Duel in three hundred years."

James took his eyes from Reginald, and smiled mirthlessly at the Headmaster. "True. However, the laws that allow it have never been removed either. It is still a legal option for people that have suffered great insult or injury at the hands of a Wizard."

Professor Dumbledore sent Reginald off to the Infirmary, and started back to his office. Rose caught up with him. "Sir, what happened was not Tiffany's fault."

Rose told the Headmaster how Manticore set it up so that Tiffany would hear the slander first, and be far enough away that James wouldn't be able to get there before he controlled his anger. "We set her up, Sir. If anyone should be punished for this, it should be me."

"Us, you mean." Professor Dumbledore and Rose turned. Adam, Lisa and Emma stood there, having approached from behind them as they talked. "We all did this, and bear equal responsibility for it."

Professor Dumbledore looked at the four of them for a long minute. "I will think about this. I do not know what the consequences of your actions will be yet, but there will be some." He sent the four on their way, and continued to his office.

Along the way, he was stopped by every team leader in Manticore, including Jerrick and Mercy, as well as half a dozen other Manticores, all of whom claimed responsibility for the actions of Tiffany and James. By the time he reached his office, he had a clear picture of what had happened.

He sat and thought about what his response to this day's events would be, until the perfect punishment came to him.

By dinner, everyone in the castle knew that every single Manticore except James had two detentions each, and that Chimera had lost twenty house points each. The rest of the Manticores had lost five house points each. Tiffany had gotten ten detentions and lost fifty points.

What the students didn't know was that Professor Dumbledore had told James exactly how the Manticores had set up his Soulbonded.

Two weeks later, all of Manticore with the exception of James and Tiffany, was the target of a prank that didn't touch anyone else in the school, and lasted from Friday night until Sunday night, over the Hogsmeade weekend. It meant that none of the Manticores went into town that weekend.

After all, who wants to go into town with a donkey's head on their shoulders?