Chapter 20: All Good Things…
Uric wasn't sure what to do. His instincts told him to explore, but Varys had demanded that he stay with him. If he had his wand, he could levitate Varys with him, but he didn't have it and his parents had told him countless times not to use wandless magic.
He leant in really close to Varys and whispered where he thought the other boy's ear was. "I need to go. There's something wrong with this place. You don't have to worry. The badgers will always protect you, even in the dark, and I don't think there's any pudding around so you should be okay." Varys started calling his name, louder and louder as he moved away, but Uric's mind was on other things.
He paused for a moment as he heard a scratching noise in the darkness, than forced himself to continue onward. He really wasn't entirely sure about the lack of puddings in this place, but Varys had seemed much more scared than he was so he had to tell him something.
The darkness was complete in every direction, but the air wasn't still. A warm gush of air was coming from somewhere. Uric followed it back to its source. There was a door, he could feel it, and the warm air came from the crack at the bottom. He felt around it. The door had huge, iron hinges and was bared from the other side. Uric frowned at it. He had to get out.
A search in his pockets revealed many things. A long piece of yarn. A pretty stick he had found. A figure designed to look like a hippogriff bowing. A strange grey rock. Exactly thirteen buttons. Some milkweed.
Uric pulled out the yarn and threaded it though the side of the door, than pulled to lift up the bar. Nothing happened. Reluctantly he tried the stick instead. Yarn was easy to come by, but a pretty stick was priceless. He braced it against the bottom of the bar and pushed up. The stick snapped, but not before the bar was lifted high enough. Since Uric was leaning against the door, he fell forward into a stone-lined corridor. A magical torch flickered to life in a bracket on the wall.
Uric picked up the remains of the pretty stick and placed them back in his pocket. Perhaps he could salvage it later. The new light showed many things. The room he had been in was actually rather large and the torch only managed to illuminate the area around the door and the petrified body of Varys near the middle of the room. There were no puddings that Uric could see, but they could be hiding in the darkness. Uric considered for a moment, than closed and locked the door again. Now Varys would be safe. He did wonder what Varys was yelling at him before he shut the door though.
The corridor he was in curved away in both directions. Uric picked a direction at random and began to wander. There was something very odd about this place. There was no ceiling for one thing, except very high up hidden in the darkness. Uric was at a loss to explain why someone would want a large room full of passageways without ceilings. Strange noises, like the permanent hissing he heard down one corridor were all around him. There were no decorations like at Hogwarts. Every corridor looked the same as the other, and it was only by the various different sounds coming from the different parts of the big room that he was able to keep his bearings. He unconsciously avoided going near those noises though.
He was still wandering nearly an hour later when the sounds of harsh cursing drifted to him down one of the many corridors. He stopped a tilted his head towards the noise. The voices issuing those curses sounded human. He wondered if he should head towards them? But they were coming towards him at an alarming rate. Within a few minutes, two angry wizards strode into view. They weren't wearing masks like before, but Uric could recognize them from the two times they had attacked him and the nice woman.
"Beaufolle!" thundered the taller one when he spotted Uric. It occurred to Uric that he might not want to see these wizards again. A curse hit the corner as he ran around it. More curses, some of a more mundane nature came after it, followed by a bellow of pain. Uric didn't stop running, but all the noise they were making was confusing him as to where he was going. He turned down a corridor like all the others and ran into a dead end.
It was occupied. A creature Uric had never seen before was chained by a very rusty chain to the opposite wall. It had the legs of a goat, but the body of a boy, if a very hairy boy. On its hairy head were two very sharp and curved horns. The creature was crouched down watching him with glittering, black eyes. Uric stared at it, his eyes unfocused as he ran through his mental catalogue of magical creatures. He smiled suddenly.
"Hello, Mr. Satyr. I'm Uric Beaufolle." He bowed to the feral looking creature. The satyr seemed to have been waiting for him to do so since it leap towards him, its head down as if to skewer him with its horns. Uric heard the clatter of its hooves on the floor. He straightened up and took a step back, accidentally treading on the end of his robes. With a startled cry, he fell backwards and the satyr, unable to adjust in time, fell on top of him. Uric wrinkled up his nose.
"You need a bath, Mr. Satyr," he said. The satyr boy struggled on top of him, trying to find purchase with its hooves, but Uric was squirming too (since it tickled) and neither of them were able to get up. Finally, the satyr let out an inhuman roar in Uric's face. Uric froze for a moment, giving the satyr the time to roll off his prey and come up in a crouch, his rusty chains clanking with every move.
Uric got up as well, ignoring the creature while he brushed off his robes the best he could. They were horribly stained from the rust and the satyr's lack of hygiene. The house elves were going to be very upset. He looked up to find the satyr watching him warily. Its eyes were no longer glittering madly. In a moment of clarity, Uric got the impression that it was waiting for him to hit it.
It was a new thought for Uric. He had never considered the idea that someone might want to willingly hurt someone, not seriously anyway. But if Louis and Mena were right, Varys had wanted to do that to Simon, and those wizards had been trying to hurt him when they cursed him back there. He knew what spells like crucio and laceratus were meant to do. Perhaps they were just as mean to other people. Maybe it was those wizards who actually hit Mr. Satyr.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Satyr. They shouldn't be treating you that way." He took a step towards it and the satyr backed away, its eyes filled with fear.
"Get back!" it croaked in a voice hoarse with disuse. Uric beamed at it.
"You can speak!" He had come up with an idea, but it wouldn't work if he couldn't get the satyr to understand him. "I need to get closer, Mr. Satyr and then maybe I can get those chains off." He took another step forward, and the satyr took step back, pressing itself against the wall. "Please." The satyr regarded him for a long moment, than turned its head sideways to reveal the iron collar around its neck. Attached to a ring at the back were two heavy, rusty chains.
Uric frowned as he slowly approached the satyr. Both his mother and father had made sure he understood the consequences of wandless magic. Unfocused, it was the most dangerous force on earth and focused it still held that title. Wizards used wands to help them control that magic and to make sure that they didn't burn themselves out. Uric couldn't help it when he did things without his wand, but he wasn't supposed to do them purposely. Maybe when he was older his mother had told him one day, but definitely not now. If he did this he would be disobeying a direct order from both his parents. But didn't the satyr deserve to be as happy as he was? Didn't it deserve to be free to find the badgers? His parents would have to understand.
He reached out to touch the chain, not even noticing when the satyr boy flinched away from him. His hands closed over the rusty chains and he knew what to do. He willed the chains to grow even more rusty until the iron was gone. The chains crumbled, leaving a dark red powder all over his hands. A glance down the corridor revealed two lines of the red powder leading all the way to the now empty wall at the end of the corridor. Uric found himself sweating profusely for the second time in the day.
He stepped back and bowed once again to the satyr. He then turned to go back the way he had come, but the satyr boy's dirty hand closed on to his arm. It pulled him back and pointed in the other direction towards the dead end.
"That way!" it croaked. Uric shrugged and walked towards the wall. He didn't even blink when he walked right through it, but then he was used to such things as magical walls. The corridor he emerged into was wider than the one he had left, and colder. He shivered. The stone was darker here, and Uric was reminded of the darkest dungeons in Hogwarts.
He walked forwards and was surprised to find none of the side passages and strange turns that had characterized the other corridors. The corridor occasionally widened into much larger rooms and seemed to curve always to the right. Uric passed through everything without too much thought. A funny thing with a bull's body and two serpents growing out of its back, growled loudly at him in one room. Uric frowned back at it, and it backed into a corner. In another room, Uric instinctively stepped on the proper flagstones to get across, never even glancing up at the huge stone waiting to crush him if he took a wrong step.
Finally, Uric entered a room a bit larger than the others. At first he thought it was empty, but then he could hear a large scratching noise. A huge rooster stood up from a nest of hay in one corner. It was a bit strange looking for a rooster. It had black scales on its neck but it had the head of a rooster. Its tail was like a lizard's. Huge black wings sprouted from its back. Uric was strongly reminded of Simon.
It came charging towards him, but Uric didn't move. Stopping in front of him, it cocked its head to look at him with one beady eye that was larger than Uric's head. It opened its beak and let out a screeching crow that was meant to intimidate. Uric put his hands over his ears but stood his ground. This really was the biggest rooster he had ever seen. He wondered if it could fly?
Without warning, the rooster ducked its head, slamming its beak into the ground right next to Uric. The floor cracked under the pressure, and a cloud of grey mist issued from the rooster's beak. Uric inhaled it and started coughing. It felt like he was breathing fire. The rooster pulled back and regarded his coughing with some satisfaction. It pawed the floor with its sharp feet, than headed in for the kill.
Uric knew he had to move, no matter how much he wanted to know about the rooster. He dove forward and through the legs of the surprised creature. Coughing, he came up running and headed for the door. His eyes were beginning to water from the strange grey mist that the rooster had expelled. The ground shook behind him as the rooster came after him, its long legs eating up the distance. With a great cry, it launched itself into the air, its claws out to rip Uric to shreds.
Uric slammed into something warm and solid. An arm wrapped itself tightly around Uric, and Uric felt the surge of magic from whoever was holding him. "Contegonos!" bellowed a voice that Uric was sure he recognized. Uric could hear the crash as the big rooster slammed into an invisible shield. "Havenward!"
"Yes, Sir," said the nice woman's voice from off to Uric's left. "Clamocrista!" From somewhere all around them, there was the sound of a cock crowing. There was a great crash that shook the room, and then nothing. Uric looked up at who he had run into, trying to focus his watering eyes. He coughed a few times, than grinned happily.
"Father!" he exclaimed. His father's blurry face looked down at him, than looked away.
"Thacher! Get over here and stop playing with that compass!"
"Let's keep in mind that I'm not in your employ, Alastair," said the pleasant voice of Uric's Charms teacher. He didn't sound very annoyed though. Something was thrust in Uric's hand. "Drink up, Uric. Don't mind the taste." Uric didn't mind the taste at all. He liked socks, though he never thought he'd be drinking something that tasted like them.
"What's that?" asked Havenward.
"A general antidote. It should take care of the cockatrice's poison," said Thacher. Uric blinked his eyes and found them clearing. The burning sensation in his throat went away and he could breathe without coughing. He looked around and saw the cockatrice lying dead only a meter or so in front of them.
"Whatever possessed you to take on a cockatrice on your own?" demanded his father. He sounded very angry. "Don't ever do something like that again!" Uric looked down. He hated to disappoint his father.
"I'm sorry," he said. His father pulled him into a hug.
"It's alright," he said gruffly, holding Uric there for a long moment before pushing him away. "Now, was Varys with you?"
Mena cautiously approached Mr. Kurze. He was putting a suit of armour together that had been dismembered by Peeves. Louis had said there was no way to find out what the adults were doing to get Uric back. Mena had believed him for awhile, but then it had occurred to her that sometimes Louis missed the most obvious things. She was sure it had never occurred to him to just ask what they were doing. The worst Mr. Kurze could do was tell her to go away, or give her a detention since she should be back in her Common Room like all the other students. A detention, or even losing points would be worth it if it got them some information, no matter what it would do to Hufflepuff's reputation.
"Mr. Kurze," she said. He looked up at her, his eyes narrowing in thought and she was sure he was trying to remember her name.
"Miss. Smith, isn't it?" She nodded her head. He looked her over and Mena was acutely aware that with her oversized cloak on she looked like she was planning on leaving. She hadn't taken the time to change since Uric had been kidnapped. Deliberately, Mr. Kurze set down the greave he had been attaching. "What can I do for you, Miss. Smith?" he asked kindly.
"I was wondering about Uric," she blurted out. "What are you doing to get him back? Is he going to be alright?" For some reason he was smiling at her. "Sir," she added belatedly.
"You're not supposed to be out, you know," he said, though he still sounded amused. "I suppose it's to be expected that Uric would rub off on you." Mena wasn't sure if she was being complimented or insulted.
"Please, Mr. Kurze." She bit her lip. She hated to beg.
"Do you remember that time in the Headmistress' office, when things went crazy for a moment?" he asked suddenly. Mena nodded.
"Uric messed something up, like usual," she said. Uric didn't always mess things up, she admitted to herself, but she wasn't about to take the statement back.
"Perhaps he did," Mr. Kurze mused. "But he did manage to do something correct. He touched a compass, I charmed many years ago for my wife so she could find our dog when it ran away, something that idiot dog did regularly. Jacko died, though and she left the compass there. It tunes itself to whoever touches it, allowing you to find them. Luckily, the charm hadn't faded."
"Then you've found Uric?" asked Mena excitedly. Mr. Kurze frowned apologetically at her.
"It's not that precise a charm. You have to just follow the arrow. Even with apparating, it could take them hours to narrow down where Uric is, and then they still have to rescue him and Varys."
"Why aren't you out there then?" demanded Mena angrily. He didn't seem to take offence at her accusation.
"Mr. Beaufolle, Professor Thacher and Miss. Havenward are all out searching for him. They don't need the help of an old, worn out wizard like myself," he said wearily. For some reason Mena wanted to comfort him.
"You thought of the compass. They couldn't have done that," she said. He stared at her for a moment, than started chuckling.
"And how would you know that, Miss. Smith?" he asked.
"Well, I-" He waved away her explanation.
"Don't tell me. I'm sure you didn't do any harm. Get back to your Common Room before I have to take away points." She turned to go. "Oh, and Miss. Smith?" She turned back to him.
"Don't worry about Uric. Even if I didn't think that the boy's probably driving his kidnappers mad by now, I'd be assured that Mr. Beaufolle looked ready to walk into Hell to get him back. Those kidnappers are in for a surprise." He sounded very happy about it.
"I want to help," blurted out Mena. It was frustrating to know that the adults were out there doing exactly what she wanted to do. Mr. Kurze nodded sagely.
"So do I, girl. But sometimes we have to let others do things for us. Sometimes the waiting takes just as much courage."
"Basilisk!" yelled Thacher in warning. He backed up around the corner towards them, his eyes tightly closed.
"A basilisk," muttered Mr. Beaufolle. "What's next, a bloody chimera?" He was getting more annoyed the longer it took them to find Varys. It didn't help that they seemed to be attracting all the creatures in the place. They had already run into a bunyip, two harpies and an ice demon.
"That's two corridors down on the right," said Uric helpfully. His father had wanted to leave him behind in the care of Miss. Havenward, but Thacher had reluctantly pointed out that Uric might be the only one of them who had a chance of finding the way back to the room with Varys in it. Uric had led them through the various outer rooms, not even noticing the looks the older wizards were giving the various creatures and traps within them.
He had found the dead end, but when they went through the satyr boy was no where to be found. Uric remembered to tell his father about what he had done to free the satyr while they were walking. He was very apologetic.
"You are the damnedest child," was all his father said while staring at him.
"Don't tell him anything next time, Uric. You'll save him the nightmares," observed Thacher as they moved on. Now that Uric knew that the strange noises were various magical creatures, he was able to identify many of them by sound. He remembered the hissing of the basilisk from before. Varys wasn't too much further.
"We could try the clamocrista spell again," suggested Havenward. "That's supposed to kill basilisks too." Thacher shook his head.
"Basilisks were bred to be immune to that little trick centuries ago," he said.
"Well, maybe it's an old basilisk," suggested Havenward with a frown. She had very efficiently taken care of the bunyip for them earlier, but something about the ice demon had seemed to unsettle her. "How did you get by, Uric?" He shrugged.
"I walked," said Uric. He thought about it for a moment. "But it wasn't there when I came through here." Something else had been there, but he couldn't remember what. Mr. Beaufolle sighed.
"We'll cast a chameleon charm on ourselves and run through. We don't have time to fight," he said decisively. The others nodded their assent and Thacher cast the charm on them all.
"Ready," said Thacher. "Remember not to look it in the eyes." He risked a glance around the corner. "It's facing the other way. Let's go." Thacher went first, than Miss. Havenward, than Uric followed by his father. Uric couldn't help but look at the mythical creature as he ran. Hadn't his Uncle Melphicles tried to breed one last year? His eyes examined the basilisk's body, careful not to look up at the head. The way the torch light reflected off its scales was very pretty. There was a large bulge near the end of the basilisk's body that was closest to its head. He stopped running, and took a step closer to see what it was. A loud hissing filled the air.
His father grabbed the back of his robes and used them to lift Uric up so his feet weren't touching the ground. Mr. Beaufolle sprinted towards the end of the corridor. They could hear the basilisk slithering after them. They rounded a corner, and the slithering noise cut off, though his father didn't stop running for a very long time. Uric wished he would put him down since his robes were choking him.
Finally he was slammed down, while his father caught his breath. Uric went to ask a question.
"Uric," warned Mr. Beaufolle. Uric shut his mouth. "We should have blind folded him," said his father to Thacher. "We're just lucky it had already eaten today and wasn't eager to chase down new prey."
"Was that what that lump was?" asked Uric, forgetting he wasn't supposed to ask.
"Yes," answered his father. "I suspect that our kidnappers don't have as much control over this place as they think." He sounded very happy about that for some reason.
"We need to keep moving," warned Miss. Havenward. She seemed to be listening for something. The other two nodded.
"Lead the way, Uric," said Thacher with a polite bow. It didn't take Uric long to show them the rest of the way. The door was closed like it had been when he left it. Uric just hoped that the pudding hadn't learnt to open doors. He opened the door and went in, followed by the older wizards. His father had taken a torch from the wall and was holding it high. Varys was no longer on the floor. He was instead pinned to the far wall in some type of cocoon. It looked like he was unconscious. Uric wondered when the pudding had learnt to spin webs. He looked around.
"Where's-" he began to ask, but Thacher shushed him.
"Acromantula," said the Charms professor in an undertone to his father. Mr. Beaufolle nodded, than began to walk across the room towards Varys. Uric was watching intently when the door behind them slammed shut.
Two of the kidnappers stood in front of it, their wands pointing at the little group. They had put their masks back on (a red dragon and a black demon), but Uric noted that the taller wizard from earlier was missing. He looked back towards his father. Mr. Beaufolle was standing calmly in the centre of the room, the picture of dignity, while Thacher attempted to glare holes in the two kidnappers heads. Uric had never seen his Charms professor look so angry.
"Hello, Mr. Dragon. Mr. Demon," said Uric politely.
"What have I told you about talking to strangers, Uric?" asked his father. Uric had to think about that one for a moment.
"Be nice until you get what you want?" His father gave some very odd advice sometimes.
"Ha! And here I was beginning to wonder if he was yours," said Thacher, ignoring the dirty look Mr. Beaufolle was sending his way. His father was about to respond when a growl interrupted them.
"You gentlemen don't seem to understand the situation you're in," said the demon in a deep, but strangely polite voice. "Killing you all will solve my problems nicely, especially your son. He's caused a lot of trouble." Uric's father was shaking his head.
"Nachleen will fight until the end to stop the Council abolition if you kill his son. He was only wavering when you kidnapped the boy. Now he's certain to go over to the Council's side." Mr. Beaufolle sounded smug. The demon-masked man shrugged.
"Perhaps I won't kill young Mr. Nachleen then, but you three are useless to me. My monsters are hungry."
"Yes, we noticed that," said Thacher lightly. "Basilisks are so hard to control when you're not a parselmouth." The red dragon spoke for the first time.
"You seem to think you have the upper hand," snarled the dragon mask. "We've been watching you since you came in. You didn't think we'd be stupid enough not to put a tracking charm on the boy?"
"Did we think they were stupid, Thacher? I don't recall," said Uric's father casually. Uric was fascinated by how much angrier the dragon mask was beginning to look.
"I don't believe we ever thought it," responded Thacher in the same tone. "It was just a natural assumption." Was it possible for the dragon mask to turn redder? "Do you remember our old school chum, Gallus Trentin?" Mr. Beaufolle snorted.
"You mean, Gallus "We marry our cousins and I'm the result" Trentin?" he asked. The red dragon masked man took a step forward.
"Yes," said Thacher, oblivious to the effect his words were having on the dragon masked wizard. "It's amazing his family had the gall to send him to Hogwarts. Now he was-" Thacher never got to finish his sentence since he was tackled by the dragon masked wizard.
Before the two of them hit the ground, Uric's father drew in a deep breath and bellowed. "Havenward!" The shout was deafening. Uric wasn't sure what to watch. Thacher and the dragon masked wizard were fighting. His father was running towards Varys to cut him down. The demon masked wizard was throwing curses towards both Thacher and Mr. Beaufolle, but he seemed hesitant to hit his colleague so most of the shots went wild. He didn't have time for many shots anyway. The door behind him began to glow with power until it suddenly exploded off its hinges, falling down on top of the demon masked wizard with a large crash. He lay senseless underneath it, his mask askew.
Miss Havenward strode determinedly over the fallen door, her wand trained on the two combatants. She waited patiently for an opening. Finally, Thacher used his legs to kick the dragon faced man off him for a moment.
"I hate your puns!" spat out the dragon just before Havenward's stupefy hit him in the side. Thacher got slowly to his feet. He felt a spot on his upper arm and winced. "That's going to bruise. You're supposed to attack with your wand," he chided his unconscious opponent. "You alright there, Alastair?" he called. Uric noticed it was a lot darker than it should be.
There was no answer. They all stared in horror at the other side of the room. The back wall was no longer visible as curtain after curtain of spider's web hung in front of it obscuring their view. There was no sign of Varys or Uric's father, though his torch lay extinguished in front of the web.
"Father?" called out Uric. Thacher glanced back at him, studying him in much the same way Louis looked at him sometimes. The older wizard glanced back at the web, than closed his eyes.
"Accio Uric's wand!" he called out. There was a groan as the heavy door shifted slightly, making Miss. Havenward throw her arms out for balance. Uric's wand shot out from under the door and Uric wondered if it had been in the black demon wizard's pocket all this time. Thacher handed it to him and gave him a very serious look. There was no sign of the wizard who had been making jokes earlier.
"This is very important, Uric. Acromantula's are afraid of light, and we're going to need a lot of it. I don't know how many of them there are in here. You need to keep a constant Light Charm on that wall until we've come out. No mind wandering. Focus only on the charm. Got that?" Uric nodded.
"Be careful of the pudding," he said. They couldn't be sure that it was just acromantualas back there. Thacher gave him an odd look, than turned away.
"Ready, Havenward?" he asked. She walked to join them.
"I'll get the boy. You go after Mr. Beaufolle," she said. She looked ready to take on the whole world. Thacher nodded. The two of them advanced towards the wall of web, leaving Uric standing behind them in front of the fallen door.
"Now, Uric!" called Thacher.
"Photos!" A wide, brilliant beam of light shot out of Uric's wand, silhouetting Thacher and Havenward. A high pitched wailing started, joined by another voice, and than another until the entire room was literally vibrating with the noise. Uric giggled a little, making the beam of light bounce around. He had never had a sound try to tickle him before.
Thacher and Havenward shouted out spells that Uric couldn't hear over the continuous wail. The wall of webs parted down the middle, and they rushed in leaving Uric alone. He continued to hold the spell, noting absently as the shreds of webbing began to float toward him on an invisible wind. The wails abruptly diminished, dropping from many wails, too two, than one, than none. It was silent then, but a muffled silence caused by so much web in the room.
The web was floating closer, the shreds undulating like ghostly arms. Uric wondered why he couldn't feel the wind. One piece touched his leg, and stuck there. Than another touched his wand arm. It lay there for a moment, than pulled. Uric yelled, startled by the action. He still maintained the spell, but now the wand was pointing towards the corner and the webbing now covered his entire arm and leg. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't pull his arm around far enough to point it back at the wall.
"Let go!" It was a pity he couldn't speak to the web in its own language. He was beginning to panic. Thacher had wanted the light in the middle. He was supposed to keep the light in the middle. "LET GO!" There was a rush of wind that made his hair and robes flap wildly. The web reacted like it had been struck. It flailed away, seeking the protection of the main web. Uric frowned at it and turned his wand back on the centre. The rip that Thacher and Miss. Havenward made was gone and the web seemed even thicker than before. This wasn't good.
Maybe if he made the light brighter? He concentrated. The beam slowly changed colour from a brilliant white to a bright redish-yellow. Uric kept blinking in an attempt to not blind himself. The wailing started again. He tried to hold the colour like that, but he couldn't for long. He was too tired and his magic felt weird. Wobbly. Like something swaying in and out of his reach.
The beam was wobbling between white and red or at least that's what it looked like to Uric's light-blinded eyes when he heard a shout. It seemed to come from very far away.
"Enough, Uric! You're blinding us!" bellowed his father. Uric had to concentrate to stop the spell and than he stood there blinking at the bright splotches in front of his eyes. His eyes eventually cleared and he saw his father, Thacher and Havenward standing in front of his with Varys over Miss. Havenward's shoulder like a sack.
"Did you have enough light?" he asked. His father exchanged a look with Professor Thacher. Thacher had a deep gash on his shoulder and his father's robe was torn and covered in spider webs.
"More than enough. Thank you." His father laid a weary hand on his shoulder. It was covered in blood and black ochre. It swam in and out of focus for Uric. His father's hand guided him over to one wall. "Sit down, Uric." He was pushed down so that his back was against the wall. "Rest until we can get everything taken care of." Uric nodded his head. He closed his eyes and let his head drop to one side. Within seconds, he was asleep.
"I still don't understand," repeated Mena stubbornly. Louis sighed and started his second attempt at explaining the politics of the wizarding world.
"Nachleen was the biggest player supporting the abolition of the Council system. The second biggest player was Engholm Siward. Siward stood to gain from the Council abolition, since he had supporters set up to back his bid for Minister once the new ministry system was set up. He has no chance of being Head of the Council since the Council Head, Cian Sage doesn't like him and is currently favouring Beaufolle as his successor."
"So Uric's father will become Head of the Council?"
"Maybe. Cian likes to keep people on their toes. It's one of the reasons he has been Council Head for so long," explained Louis.
"But what about Nachleen? Why did he support the Council abolition?" she asked. Louis shrugged.
"Who knows. Siward could have been bribing him, though it's more likely he did it because he believed he was right," he said. Mena's eyes widened.
"Louis, do you think they should get rid of the Council?" she asked. Louis glanced over at Uric who was drawing an ever increasing spiral across the front of his Potion's textbook. Uric was pro-Council, and always would be so long as his father was on it. Louis didn't know what side he would be on, but he decided it was better to be honest with Mena now, than deal with her later. Who knew what his family might make him do in the future?
"I'd get rid of it if I thought it would help me," he admitted in a low voice. Mena glared at him.
"And how does that make you better than Engholm Siward?" she demanded. Louis held her gaze.
"It doesn't," he stated flatly. Mena looked very upset.
"You can't mean that, Louis." He looked away and saw that Uric was watching them curiously.
"Did you know it's Founder's Day?" Uric asked. "We should have a party." He smiled at them. Louis thought it would be a good idea. It would get their minds off of politics and kidnappings. And reminding Mena it was her birthday soon would be sure to distract her. He smiled at Uric.
"That sounds like a great idea. Just let me finish explaining to Mena and then we'll start celebrating." Uric nodded and went back to his spiral, drawing strange little drawings of people's heads and random shapes in the space between the lines of the spiral.
"So," started Louis again, ignoring Mena's glare. "Siward was loosing support as the battle wore on. He allegedly kidnapped the wife of one of the minor Council member's who was against abolition, forcing him to change sides in exchange for his wife. Since it worked so well, Siward decided to move onto more obvious targets. Unfortunately, Mr. Beaufolle knew about what had happened and put a guard around Uric. This worked until the night Uric was kidnapped. By that point, Mr. Nachleen had begun to waver on his stance, so to be safe, Siward had his men kidnap both Uric and Varys."
"But how did they get in?" demanded Mena.
"I don't know," admitted Louis, than hurried onward in his tale. "Siward hides them in an abandoned labyrinth from the time of the Dark Wars. He fills it with monsters and waits for Beaufolle to either pay the ransom, or to come and try to rescue his son. He underestimates the help that Mr. Beaufolle brought and underestimates Uric himself. Not a good thing in any circumstances." He smiled at her and she reluctantly returned it. "One of his associates is killed in the labyrinth, by chance apparently. Then Uric escapes, and evades them despite the tracking charm they had on him." He stopped there. Uric had already told them the rest. Louis had been amused to hear of Mr. Beaufolle and Thacher goading their old school mate into attacking them.
"Siward's now in that new prison, Azkaban, along with Trentin. They'll be there for awhile if the Council has any say in it, and strangely enough, it does," he added, glad that they were all safe now.
"But what about the message?" asked Mena. Louis stared at her.
"The one under the masks. The ransom message," she said. Louis tried to remember.
"Power comes in many guises," said Uric helpfully. Louis had totally forgotten about it. Mena looked triumphant.
"You forgot about it." She pointed her finger accusingly at him. He hated to admit that she was right.
"It's not important anyway," he said. "It was probably just Siward trying to goad Uric's father into doing something."
"Father said it was for Nachleen," said Uric his face set in its usual puzzled look. "Though he called him 'that damned Gryffindor' not Mr. Nachleen. I don't think Mum was happy with him about that." Uric had been home for a few days after the kidnapping. The Headmistress hadn't been able to work up the courage to argue for him to stay at Hogwarts. "He said it was Nachleen's favourite saying. Did Varys' father ever come to Hogwarts?"
"He was here about two days after you were rescued," responded Louis. He had used the invisibility cloak to spy on Varys and his father. Varys had been reprimanded for loosing the invisibility cloak and for not escaping when Uric did. Mr. Nachleen had been extremely upset about owing anything to Uric's father.
Varys had found the invisibility cloak on his bed a day later and Louis was still cursing himself for being so sentimental. But he could understand the problems of living up to your family's expectations, even if Varys was still a prat.
"Ravenclaw is a funny house," said Uric, breaking into Louis' thoughts.
"I've always considered them the most normal house," said Louis.
"I think that's Hufflepuff," said Mena with a bit of pride. Louis gave her a sideways look.
"Not since Uric got there it isn't. Come on. Let's go celebrate Founder's Day."
Uric would always remember that Founder's Day as his favourite. The house elves had given them a basket full of food and sweets and Uric had led his friends through the secret parts of the castle. Through an old study, where you could just make out the faded name of Gryffindor carved into the wood of the desk. To a tiny herb garden where they held a picnic and wondered why the sun was shining despite the storm that was darkening the windows of the rest of the castle. Into a dusty broom cupboard where a small snake was painted that wriggled a little when Uric tickled it. They looked into an iron bound chest holding an even smaller locked chest with the initials R.R. on the lock.
Discussion had turned to celebrating Mena's birthday, and Uric's since he had been kidnapped when it happened. Mena insisted that they celebrate Louis' as well once she discovered it had been in November and he had never told them. They had agreed to have a party for the three of them, early on the morning when they were to leave Hogwarts for the summer. That day came much quicker than expected.
The cake and presents were over quickly. Mena had given everyone sweets. Louis gave them both books: Mena's was on political theory, while Uric's was a muggle novel, something he was sure Uric had never seen before. Uric's presents were as bizarre as he was. Louis received an invisible quill that wrote in invisible ink on invisible paper. "How useful," muttered Louis.
Mena got a box full of dirt. "It's special dirt," said Uric, and that was all he would say about the matter. They sat in silence afterwards. Even Uric was melancholy at the thought of leaving Hogwarts. He was afraid the badgers would hide so well that he couldn't find them when he came back. Saying goodbye to Mr. Snuggles yesterday had been sad as well. Finally, Mena broke the silence.
"I just wish we knew why Varys was sneaking out to the library so much," complained Mena.
"Oh, I figured that out," said Louis nonchalantly. Mena gave him the look she usually reserved for when Uric said something incredible.
"Yes," said Louis. He shrugged. "I just looked at the same books he was looking at. Simple really." Mena looked about ready to curse him so he hurried to explain.
"He was trying to become an animagus. It would have taken him a couple years, but if he had succeeded, he would have been the youngest animagus in history. More honour to Ravenclaw and all that."
"So why did you give him back the invisibility cloak then?" she asked puzzled. Louis started.
"How do you know I did that?" Mena shrugged.
"You didn't use it when we pranked Alexis last week. It would have been the perfect time, but you didn't," she pointed out. Louis laughed.
"I'll make a Slytherin of you yet," he said. She made a face.
"And why would I ever want to be a lying and devious Slytherin?"
"Because some day you will discover that hitting people does not solve all your problems," said Louis. She shrugged.
"It's worked so far," she said.
"I want to be an animagus," said Uric.
"Nice of you to re-enter the conversation, Uric," said Louis genially. Mena giggled at the comment, and the blank look Uric gave them both. She reached out to pet Simon who was asleep on Uric's shoulder. Louis checked the clock on the mantel piece in the room they were borrowing.
"We should probably head down to the coaches," he said. They packed up everything and headed out the door.
"So, what animal would you want to be, Uric?" asked Mena curiously.
"A hedgehog. I'd like to be a hedgehog."
"Uric. You're supposed to want to be a badger. You love badgers," she said.
"But I am a badger," protested Uric.
"Ah, just who I was looking for!" exclaimed a voice. They turned to see Professor Thacher striding down a corridor towards them.
"Hello, Professor Thacher," they chorused, except for Uric who said it several seconds later. He looked them over and winked at Louis. "Give my regards to your father, Uric and remind him that now he owes me twice." Uric blinked.
"Who's twice?" he asked.
"I would give up now, Sir," advised Louis. Thacher nodded.
"Yes. Perhaps a letter would be easier. Good summer to you all." He walked off, his blue robes trailing behind him. They continued on to the Great Hall, stopping just before they entered.
"Do you think we could be seen in public with you next year?" asked Mena. It was hard to tell if she was annoyed or just joking. Louis thought about it for a moment.
"I'll see what I can do," he promised. "Uric. Try not to blow up your house over the summer." He ducked out the door before they could say any more good byes.
Uric and Mena followed soon after, though Mena looked sad. Uric remembered saying goodbye to Mr. Kurze earlier that morning before the party. Mr. Kurze had taken two points off Hufflepuff, for old time's sake.
"Do you think the badgers will be here when we come back?" asked Uric as they stood in the queue for the coaches. He absentmindly stroked Simon's feathered head while the bird-lizard nuzzled against his neck. Mena looked up from where she had been staring at the polished marble floor.
"Of course they will be," she snapped, though she couldn't explain why she was so certain. Uric grinned at her.
"Good. Then we have nothing to worry about," he said. Simon chirped his agreement
Contego – L. "Defend/Shield" + nos – "us"
Clamo – L. "Cry (out loud)" + crista –"rooster" Thus ends the Latin lesson for the day.
A bunyip is an Australian aboriginal monster.
A/N: Only nine pages over the usual chapter length, and I'm sure no one minded the extra length. All chapters have now been revised. It feels strange to finish since I've been writing this story for over a year now. Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed. Your support, encouragement and advice have worked wonders.
It's here!: The adventures of Uric aren't over yet! Uric the Oddball and the Great Goblin Uprising – It's Uric "the Oddball" Beaufolle's final year at Hogwarts. Badgers, goblin raids, young love, demon summoning, evil vampires, new classes, and of course, Uric himself. Two chapters already up!
All questions asked in reviews will be answered in chapter 1 of the Goblin Uprising.
Thanks to my reviewers: Ozma, Tidmag, Mistri, Gred Weasley, Giesbrecht, NM (Narcissa Malfoy), Gemin16, AniMourner, and oO With.
Mistri: Is Uric ever safe is the real question…
NM (Narcissa Malfoy): I am both scared and amused by your sig. Yes, you are absolutely right about absolution being abolition. I was thinking one word and typing the other. I've fixed it now. Thank you for pointing it out:) Hmm, who do you think is sinister? (Not agreeing or denying, just wondering…)
Gemin16: I did have a nice time, so thank you. I'm leaning towards chaser since I don't think she'd have the patience to wait around for the snitch, but I haven't actually thought out that part of the plot yet so who knows what will happen.
oO With: You should read the reviews:) They're just as interesting as the story, or at least I think so. I certainly don't mind long reviews or rambling and I don't think you're stalking me…yet;) The title of chapter nineteen is actually a reference to a short story entitled The Ransom of Richard Redstone (I think, it's been awhile since I read it and the title may be off…certainly don't remember the author) Anyway, the story is about how two men kidnap this little boy for ransom and he drives them so insane, that they end up paying the boy's father to take him back. Uric's kidnapping was loosely inspired by this, though despite driving them insane, the kidnappers never did manage to offer Beaufolle money to take Uric off their hands. If this chapter had been normal length it would have been posted ages ago, but since it ran to 13 pages, I just had to keep writing until the story finished itself. I'm not sure if peanuts had been discovered in the 1680's. Have to check. You've been poking the screen? This explains why I've been giggling so much lately. Damn these symbiotic relationships…
All questions asked in reviews here, will be answered in the latest chapter of Goblin Uprising:)
Well, everyone, how was it? Please review and let me know. Cheers:)