Well, here it is! The NEW AND IMPROVED (!) sequel to Harry Potter and the Dagger of Death. For those of you who started reading the first version - my apologies. I just didn't like the way it was going so I unposted (is that a word? LOL) it to spend some "Quality Time" on it.
Warning - The chapters may be slow in coming, I've have a real job now - as if two kids, a husband, and a real life aren't enough - and don't have the time to write like before.
Grateful thanks to my husband Dan and my daughter, Rhiannon - my two biggest fans; THANKS to all of you for your kind reviews and shout outs; A special thank you to the one critic who took the time to flame Dagger of Death so wonderfully. Note to any future flamers, however, please spell your insults correctly, otherwise I won't read 'em ;-).
This story picks up just before Dagger ends. To wit: right after the scene at Grunnings.
To save on my sanity I've placed all of Glynnis' telepathic conversations in itals with * before and * after. Hope it's not too confusing. Also, this format will follow through all following chapters so I hope you can all follow along if you follow me.
Some chapters will incorporate adult themes, i.e., veiled references to non-consensual sex and/or rape.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~~~~~ For all of you who waited so patiently! ~~~~~
Andrus Dakin slipped unseen along the bright London street. When he reached the doorway of the Leaky Cauldron, he shrugged out of the invisibility cloak he wore, realizing it was unwise for anyone to know he possessed such an item. For an instant the cloak became a cascade of liquid silver, shining with a light of its own, before Dakin wadded it up and secreted it in a pouch at his waist.
The dim yellow light of the inn's entrance did little to enhance the young wizard's stark features, adding deeper shadows under his sunken cheeks and turning his swamp-brown eyes to a sickly gold-green. Dakin straightened his robes, combed his fingers through his hair and took several deep breaths. Looks were everything in a strange place, he reminded himself, and he wanted to appear as cool and collected as possible as he entered.
The inn was noisy with the sounds of voices and clinking dishes. Judging from the number of people in the common room, he'd not avoided the dinner hour, as he'd hoped. Dakin mentally chided himself for not being more sure of the time. His thoughts had distracted him and that sort of mental lapse could be dangerous. The hope that he could simply pass unnoticed through the crowd to the stairway was short lived.
"Dakin! Over here! I say, Dakin!" The high, screeching voice rose above the din. "Here's the young man I was telling you about, Presnip. I say, Dakin!"
Dakin made his way over to the gathering of wizards grouped around his employer, Annas Grimmel. "Mr. Grimmel," he ground out politely, "I trust you are well this evening."
"Couldn't be better, my boy. Couldn't be better! I was just telling my friends here about you, Dakin. Yes, sir, gentlemen, I had just fired that lazy good for nothing Emley Goyle and was wondering where on earth I'd find another clerk when in walks young Dakin here fresh from the colonies and looking for work! How lucky can that be, eh? And the boy knows his potions, I'll give him that. Dakin, these here are friends of mine. Presnip, Whisk, and Pollup." Dakin scowled a smile in the general direction of the old wizards who were ogling him like he had three heads. Being from "the colonies", as Grimmel so quaintly put it, was proving to be a real pain in the ass. He supposed he should have expected it from a country that still referred to the American Revolution as the skirmish but still, it was hard to maintain a low profile when everyone wanted to meet you.
"I still find it surprising," he managed with just a trace of sarcasm, "that for a city as large as London you don't encounter more colonials."
"One would think so, wouldn't one?" chortled Grimmel. "But while we have many visitors from Europe, we still have relatively few Yanks come our way. Wizard ones at any rate. The city is flooded with Muggle Yanks, so I hear tell. I suppose with the large cities you have over there it seems rather a moot point to travel so far abroad." The other wizards nodded in agreement.
"Indeed." Dakin tried another smile, accomplishing little more than a strained grimace. "If you'll excuse me, gentlemen, it's been a long day and I really must see to some correspondence."
"I say," wheezed the one who'd nodded when Grimmel said Whisk, "how long does it take an owl to get from here to the Americas?"
Dakin took a deep breath to calm himself. "Depends on the owl and it's speed," he replied.
"How fast can an owl go carrying a package?" asked the one called Pollup.
"What kind of package? Large? Small? Or are you looking for an example?" Dakin wanted to end this conversation as quickly as possible so he asked all the questions he knew were coming. For some reason, the old wizards were always fascinated by owl posts to the colonies.
"An average package. Say one the size of a large piece of fruit," answered Pollup after a moment's thought.
"So you'd like to know the speed of an owl carrying what? An apple?" Dakin asked, puzzled.
"How about a coconut?" piped Grimmel. "I do love coconut."
"And what kind of owl? African or European? You need to account for the owl," piped up Whisk. "That can make a difference."
"You want to know the average velocity of an owl carrying a coconut?" Dakin suppressed an irritated sigh. "I suppose either would take several days, give or take. Now, I really must be off . . . "
But Dakin never finished his sentence. He simply walked away when the wizards became engrossed in a pointless argument over the matter. What this British obsession with birds and coconuts was, Dakin never could figure out, so he went on up to his room and left the old men to their debate.
Once alone in his room, he allowed himself the luxury of wallowing in the frustration that had been threatening to overwhelm him all evening. He'd failed to kill Potter. Not that he particularly cared about that precisely. Killing the boy was only the means to and end and he'd have another chance. Of that he was certain. No, what did interest him was the fact that the Muggle had somehow thrown off the Imperius Curse. He was not pleased about that at all. Dakin considered himself a master of controlling spells and be have one overturned by a mere Muggle was insulting beyond measure.
The only good thing to come out of the whole affair was the fact that Sirius Black was Animagi. And close at hand, something he was certain he would benefit from knowing. Still, he began to pace the room, trying to figure out what could have gone wrong.
"You're agitated, dearie," remarked the mirror over the dresser.
"Obviously,"Dakin replied sarcastically. "I failed! Me! Potter lives."
"Poor thing," said the mirror obligingly.
Dakin continued to pace. "The Muggle . . . somehow shook off the Imperius Curse and did not complete his mission."
"There's something you don't hear every day," commented the mirror.
"How could an idiot Muggle overcome one of the most powerful curses known? Everything was going according to plan. The Muggle was all set to kill Potter then Sirius Black and some woman came in and ruined everything!"
"Ah, yes," sighed the mirror, "that will happen."
Dakin ignored the mirror and continued to think aloud. " Black and the woman were both shot with a gun. Black lunged at the Muggle but the Muggle shot him in midair. Then the woman came between Potter and his uncle's gun. The Muggle shot her, too. He was all set to shoot Potter when Black bit him. Somehow that affected him and he was able to shake off the curse."
"Bit him?" The mirror asked with a slight yawn. "Very poor manners, I must say."
Dakin turned on the mirror. "Black bit him because he wasn't himself!"
The mirror was genuinely puzzled. "Who was he, then? Gandalf? Merlin? Dumbledore?"
"He was a dog! Black is Animagi, your idiot! Don't you understand anything?" Dakin pulled off one of his shoes and hurled it at the mirror. "Just shut up!"
"You needn't get huffy, dear," the mirror said calmly, as if having shoes thrown at it was a common occurrence.
Dakin sat down on the bed and pulled off his other shoe, ignoring the mirror. "Black is here," he muttered, thinking that if he said it aloud he might be better able to figure it out. "And some woman is helping him. Is she Muggle or witch? Either way, she could be useful to me. She and Black seemed quite cozy with each other. When I find her, I find Black. When I find Black, I find Potter. When I find Potter, I get the key to everything I've ever wanted."
"That's the way, dear, think positively!" the mirror exclaimed, forgetting it had been told to shut up.
The wizard lay back on the bed, his hands behind his head. "This is interesting. How very, very interesting. This could be . . ." He looked suddenly at the mirror. "You'd better not tell anyone about this or I'll break you into so many pieces . . . "
"I don't work that way, dearie, never fear. Your secrets are safe with me."
"They'd better be," growled Dakin.
"Now that Cheval mirror down the hall. . ."
"Oh, shut up!" he grumbled. "I've got to think." But the mirror was already snoring gently.
Dakin stared up at the ceiling of his room and considered everything he'd learned. His last thoughts before falling asleep were of the looks on everyone's faces when he delivered Potter's body to . . . Well, then, all his dreams would come true.