Chapter 27 – Gimme Shelter
Mitsy Rolfe was tired, but elated. Everything had happened just as her beloved Dark Lady had predicted.
"If you look like an abused prisoner they will help you, if you place yourself in harm's way they will trust you. When you escape they will shelter and protect you and our baby."
"If you can endure a few days of pain and discomfort any cuts or bruises will be further evidence of your trustworthiness."
Mitsy steeled herself. "I will endure it for you."
"Remember, when the time is right, use the knife, the book will tell you how."
They had made love, tenderly, for the last time. Blaise cast the spell to ensure that she was indeed pregnant with his child before sending her naked into the cellar.
The Dark Lady called for Nott.
"Theo, Mitsy has been getting ideas above her station, why don't you remind her that this organization is run by those of us with nads?"
"Oh, and Theo?"
"Yes, My Lady?"
"She likes it rough. Make the little bitch squeal!"
Blaise found perverse satisfaction in the muffled sounds of Misty's piteous cries.
She endured brutal rape and starvation for five days, interspersed with her transsexual lover's only slightly less brutal fucking. Mitsy's only source of water was a cold-water tap in the basement sink. She was allowed to sponge bathe. She was not allowed to douche.
A medical examination would indicate that she'd been violated by at least two men, repeatedly.
When Nott's house imploded the fidelius fell. One minute there was nothing between Number Five and Number Seven, then there was a clap of thunder and a smoldering hollow in the ground like a bomb crater.
No one on the ground noticed the large white bat fluttering from tree to tree, keeping to the shadows.
Auror Team Six looked at the smoking hole.
"Is that what you were hoping for, Chief?"
"Not exactly." Auror One answered, he had a sinking feeling that told him whoever had been in the house was now dead. "Get forensics up here, we need to scan for human remains."
"Right away, Chief."
Poppy Pomfrey came away from Mitsy Rolfe's room shaking her head.
"She's been used, and badly, you can be sure. I've healed the broken rib and teeth and multiple cuts and bruises but Miss Rolfe is going to need some quality time with a mind-healer before she's ever better."
"The baby, is it, well, from the rape?"
"Apparently not. She was taken shortly after she'd learned she was pregnant. That's the one good thing in all of this; Mummy and daughter are doing well."
"A girl then."
Pansy and Millie now knew Brother David's true identity; Bella had unintentionally given him away during the assault on Nott's estate.
Neither minded that a werewolf was minding the children at Parkinson House, the moon was nowhere near full and he was under the watchful eye and in the tender care of Bellanca, late of the Daughters of Vesta and a powerful wolf animagus.
In this little corner of Hogsmeade dark did not mean evil.
Millicent decided that Mitsy would be her preggers mate – they were due about the same time, Millie perhaps as much as a month ahead.
Both mothers-to-be had that look about them – content, fulfilled, resolute - that all pregnant women have shared since time immemorial.
That and runaway hormones, swollen feet, morning sickness and mercurial mood swings.
Pansy left Greg and Remus in charge of The House, citing the need for a "Girl's day out." Their first stop was Toni's Beauty Shoppe in Diagon alley for a complete makeover.
The proprietress looked at Bella with a calculating eye and offered a variety of products to give her "a little color."
"Your skin and hair are perfect, dearie, they are to die for!"
Bella smirked, "You don't know the half of it."
Millie and Mitsy went for short, off the shoulder hair styles that complimented their slightly rounded faces, Pansy had her hair lengthened, lightened and permed. She'd grown into her up-turned nose and, with just a touch of make-up she was, for the first time in her young life, in point of fact, pretty.
She stared at her unexpectedly attractive reflection, eyes welling with tears.
"What is it Panz?" Millie asked, solicitously.
"When I was little, m-my Daddy called me his "Pretty Pansy," but even then I could see that I wasn't."
"Maybe pretty is as pretty does?"
When they tried to pay for the makeovers Toni shook her head.
"You're the ones who took in all those children at the end of the war, come in anytime dearies, but your money's no good here."
They thanked Miss Toni, profusely, and went on to torture the proprietor of the shoe shop next door.
The bald man in the cobbler's apron groaned. He recalled a conversation he'd had with his mates in the Leaky Cauldron just the night before.
"Give me a bloke anytime. A man come's in, says "I'll have the black with the round toe," E tries em on, says, "I'll take these," puts is old pair into the box and wears the new ones out t' break em' quick like."
"Now when the ladies come in they want to try on every pair, in every color. And after they's surrounded by boxes and tissue they may or may not decide to buy a pair atoll on account a they're "jus' shoppin'"."
As it was all four ladies went with a variety of heel heights from flats, in black and tan, to three inch heels in black, white and ivory.
They took a light lunch. Pansy, Millie and Mitsy ate salads while Bella snacked on a small brick of Honeydukes finest dark chocolate with a small port. She assured her friends that, while she was a little hungry, she knew her husband was keeping something warm for her back home.
After lunch they all converged on Gringotts. The goblins were terse, as usual, but almost courteous around Bella.
The lead teller gave each of the ladies a charmed scroll that kept an updated account of the contents of their vaults. Pansy checked her bottom line, blinked, and checked again, then sat hard on the cold stone floor.
Millie knelt by her side.
"What is it, Panz?"
Pansy didn't answer; she just handed over her parchment.
She had been endowed, from the estate of Eliza Shakespeare, with ten thousand galleons – per annum – on behalf of Parkinson House and Primary School.
Millie shrieked and gathered her best friend up in a bone-crushing hug.
"Now we can have a proper home and school for all our sprogs, and twice as many more if it comes to that!"
Bella had a letter from Eliza that outlined long term investments which left her feeling pensive – she didn't need to be reminded that she would outlive all of her newfound friends, and her husband. A single bloody tear marred her perfect left cheek.
A goblin teller cleared his throat and handed the vampiress a lacy handkerchief.
"Thank you." She sad, dabbing the blood away.
"Not at all," he whispered gruffly, "can't have the humans panicking in the bank 'cause there's a vampire in the lobby."
"I suppose not."
Mitsy filled out a withdrawal form requesting the box labeled "Avery" from her vault. The goblins grudgingly complied.
On the night before her rescue Blaise told Mitsy, "I've given the goblins a box to put into your personal vault. I told them it was a gift for you from William Avery, it's a black lacquered wooden box and it is the most important thing in the world. With it I will be able to come back to you even if this body is killed."
Mitsy didn't understand, but she had believed Blaise Zabini. More importantly she'd believed in Balise Zabini.
When they all returned to Parkinson House Mitsy took the box into her room and sat on her bed contemplating its smooth, dark surface.
She took a deep breath, held it, let it out slowly and opened the lid.
Inside she found an old leather-bound book, "Majiks Most Darke," and a stiletto knife. Blaise had made a list of pages and paragraphs, especially noting those pertaining to horcruxes – specifically those instructions for activating one.
"Life is so much easier when we're wolves." Odin was explaining to Alison. "We eat, we play, we run with the pack. No studies. . ."
"I heard that!" Remus said, sternly.
"But Da, I don't need arithmetic to catch a rabbit!"
"Odie, my son, some day your life will be much more than just catching rabbits. You'll have a job and a family and cubs of your own – and they'll have to live in the human world."
Allison tugged her best mate's sleeve, "don't you want us to live in a proper house?"
"We'll live here, won't we?"
"Maybe for a while, but then we'll want a house of our own with a yard and trees and room for the cubs."
Remus reaffirmed his vow to allow his son to grow up without the fears and prejudices of his own sorry childhood. Of course, animagus training so early in life would make his lycanthropy look less like a curse and more like a gift. He certainly had more control over the beast, even during the full moon, than any werewolf before him. Thanks to Bella, of course.
Who would have thought that the way to make one dark creature safe for his fellows would be the love of another dark creature? He smiled at the thought and silently gave thanks for his bride.
"Brother Dave - I mean Remus, would you help me become a wolf too?"
"How do you mean?" Remus asked, afraid he understood only too well.
"Well, you could bite me when the moon's all full."
"No!" Odie shouted.
"Why not?" the little girl demanded.
"Because it hurts and it's scary and I don't want any of that to happen to you!"
Remus put a calming hand on his adopted son's shoulder.
"You were turned by a monster, Odie, someone who enjoyed hurting people. We won't let that happen to Ali."
"But I wanna run with the pack too!" Alison insisted.
Remus sat cross legged on the floor.
"Let me tell you about a group of children who called themselves Marauders, and how they helped a poor, scared, lonely werewolf find acceptance and love. . ."
Bella returned from shopping and a side trip to the sanguinaria (no really, just a quick bite) properly warmed and showing more color than usual. She stood in the doorway of the study where her husband consoled Odie and Ali – a girl in whom she saw a good match for her adopted lycan son.
She listened as Remus told the story of his friends, James and Sirius and Peter, how they knew what Remus was and didn't care – all that mattered was that he was their friend. They worked hard and taught themselves to become animagi so that the four of them, and later a fifth, could run through the forbidden forest when the moon was full.
When her husband promised to help Alison discover what her animagus form was she pulled the little girl into a tight embrace and said, "You are pack, remember that. No matter what form your animagus may take, you are of the pack forever."
Ali cried happy tears and grabbed Odie's hand before skipping off to play.
"They're going to be good for each other." She said with a smile.
"Hmmmm, you're warm. I guess you won't be needing any of me tonight?"
Bella pulled Remus into a searing kiss, "Oh yes I do, I have other needs that only you are "gifted" enough to fill."
She released a small dose of pheromones to let him know exactly what she was insinuating.
Remus picked her up with a lusty growl and practically ran to their bedroom, slammed the door and set locking and silencing charms about the room.
Just before the silencing charm took effect Bella's voice could be heard all over Parkinson House.
"Oh Sweet Hecate, yes!"
"Ah spring is in the air!" Millicent smirked.
"They do seem happy." Mitsy observed.
"It was funny watching them dance around each other til' she dropped her vestments for him."
"Vestments?" Mitsy asked.
"As in Vestal Virgin." Millie answered.
"How about you? Happy with your, um, boyfriend, fiancé?"
"Yeah, with us it was easier, once I saw what a sweetheart Greg really is I just threw him down and had me wicked way with im!"
Mitsy looked away and Millie blanched. She'd just described what had been happening to the poor girl in that cellar for Goddess knows how long!
"Oh God and the Goddess, I'm so sorry, I'm so stupid, I wasn't thinkin'. . ."
"No, its okay, see?" Mitsy smiled. "I'm okay."
"C'mere you." The big girl insisted and pulled the tiny woman into a gentle hug.
"Remember, when you're here, you're home. You just don't live in this house; you're part of it, you and the princess you're carrying. Roit?"
The small woman nodded.
"Ain't nobody gonna hurt our Mitsy, ever again, not while there's breath in our bodies!"
Mitsy felt the weight of the big girl's words and the depth of her unselfish love and began to wonder if her mission could, or should succeed.
Did she have it in her to take an innocent's life to get the Dark Lady back?
Mitsy had never been a dab hand in the kitchen, but the simple fare that the sprogs of Parkinson House enjoyed was fun to cook – and she loved the reaction that simple fare, like beans on toast, could elicit from dozens of hungry little mouths. One thing Mitsy could do really well was biscuits.
"It's not like I'm actually baking anything special here," she said, a little timidly, it's just porridge and currants and sugar and a little baking powder on a baking sheet."
"Cor, don't matter what's in em' the sprogs love em!"
Spring passed into summer and the team of Millie and Mitsy became locally famous for their biscuits. Hogsmeade's Dry Goods and the Green Grocer couldn't keep the simple brown bags on the shelves.
Late one summer afternoon a well-dressed older couple came knocking.
"May we speak with Miss Bulstrode and Miss Rolfe, please?"
Both women came in looking like Mother Christmas, rotund in their pregnancies, cheerful – a light dusting of flour on their reddened cheeks.
"We have to take their pictures dear, they are perfect!" the lady said, smilingly.
"Pictures for what?" Mitsy asked.
The gentleman offered his card.
Norman and Vera Dukes of Honeydukes Confectioners.
"We would like to market Parkinson's House Biscuits."
Pansy smiled, "Just how many shops does Honeydukes own?"
Mr. Dukes smiled and said, "At last count, five hundred. There is a Honeydukes in every major population center that has a significant magical population."
Millie looked worried, "I don't think we can handle that many stores, we're running ourselves ragged just keeping up the orders for Hogsmeade."
"We can handle the production from our bakery just outside of Campletown, you provide us with the recipe and we will mass produce the biscuits."
Pansy raised an eyebrow, "and what will Millie and Mitsy get?"
"Five percent of gross sales." Mr. Dukes said with a grandfatherly smile.
"Twenty percent and total control of production and advertising, start to finish." Pansy countered.
"That's not going to happen, Miss Parkinson. Eight percent" Norman offered.
"What a pity, Mr. Dukes, I was so looking forward to working with you. I'm sure Miss Skeeter will enjoy telling your customers how you tried to profit from a home for war orphans."
Vera Dukes stood. "Fifteen percent of gross, quality control oversight and right of refusal for any form of advertising."
"Honeyduke!" the older man complained.
"Oh do be quiet, Norman. What do you say ladies?"
Millie looked at Pansy, who smiled and nodded.
"You've just bought yourself a biscuit, Mrs. Dukes."
Summer passed into autumn and Millie huffed and pushed and huffed and pushed and cursed all mankind for putting her through this and swore if Gregory Goyle came anywhere near her with that "thing" again she was going to bleedin' cut it off!"
The midwife smiled and reassured a white faced Greg that she'd heard worse.
"She's a big girl," the mid-witch consoled, "it won't be long now. Just keep hold of her hand and keep talkin' to her. There's a good man."
Millie and Greg screamed together as the littlest Goyle crowned and Millicent dislocated several bones in Gregory's hand.
Just a few moments later Glynda Pansy Goyle, all fifty-five centimeters and four point two kilograms of her, greeted the world with a healthy set of lungs.
"Beautiful!" Greg cried, "She's so beautiful, just like her mummy!"
Millicent pulled her baby to her ample breast and cooed.
"Thas' me little one, thas' our lil' Glynda!"
Greg smiled through his own tears at his daughter feeding hungrily at the "tap" and said, "lucly lil' sproggette!"
"Hush Gregory, we'll be home soon and I'm sure there's enough t' share."
Greg's ears glowed bright red as the midwife and Pansy and Mitsy and Bella all laughed out loud.
The happy couple motioned Mitsy to join them at bedside.
"Mitsy, we talked to Pansy and she and, um, we want to name you Godmother to Glynda."
Mitsy Rolfe looked into the expectant faces and knew, for the first time in her life, unconditional love and acceptance.
She saw her course at that moment with absolute clarity.
"Of course I will," the very pregnant little woman enthused as she patted her ample belly, "after all she's gonna' be Serafina's best mate!"
The next day Mitsy returned to Gringotts.
"Please return this to my personal vault; I don't want to see it again in my lifetime."
She handed the black lacquered box to the lead teller who grunted something in gobblty gook. Then added, in English, "For a nominal fee we can place the object in a legacy vault, where you may bequeath it to a person or persons in the future."
She remembered the squib who had treated her so badly that Blaise Zabini had seemed to be her salvation. What was that squib's name again?
Karl. Karl Stephens.
Mitsy smiled most unpleasantly.
"Are you sure, Auntie Bella?" Alison Farrington asked, wide eyed.
"Absolutely." Bella smiled, "your animagus form is a badger."
Remus laughed at that.
"What's so funny?" Ali insisted.
"You will be the perfect mate for Odie!"
"How's that?" the boy in question asked.
"Because, dears," Bella answered, "the badger is the most aggressive member of the weasel family – a full grown bear will not bother a badger, you'll have no trouble keeping a wolf in line!"
Alison smiled at Odin and said "and don't you forget it!"
Later in the room that Bella and Remus shared she asked, "Do you think we're taking this whole "Odie loves Ali" game a bit too far, I mean, they're only eight."
"I don't think so," Remus answered, "they've already been through so much together, their shared experiences have made them wise beyond their years.
"I've noticed that they argue over the same kinds of things the other children do, but they never intentionally hurt each other, and one or both always ends up apologizing when they do."
"Never let the sun go down on your anger." Bella said, and then smirked, my mum used to say that when I was little, I passed it on to Ali, who evidently shared it with Odie."
Remus kissed his wife tenderly and asked, "Will you watch over them and their children when I'm. . ."
"Shush, you." She said, placing a finger on his lips, "you might just as well outlive me."
The werewolf snorted "Yeah, right."
"No, seriously." She said, "I can be killed, and there are those who would congratulate themselves for it – just for being what I am."
"They'll have to get through me first!" he growled, his voice low and dangerous.
"The point, dearest, is that none of us really know how much time we have. The important thing is to live each day with the sure and certain knowledge that it's a gift.
"If we just remember that then we won't easily become petty or short with each other."
"Have I told you lately that I love you?"
"Only every day, but say it again, just to be sure."
Thus endeth the tale "Bella Rising." There is a possibility of a sequel, Harry and Hermione's kid(s) will attend Hogwarts, as will Millie and Mitsy's sprogs. And Blaise isn't exactly dead. He's only mostly dead. . . (Don't you just love Princess Bride?)
I would be unforgivably remiss if I didn't acknowledge my most faithful reviewers, SelenePotter of "Harry's Harem" fame, the incomparable Dr. T who writes the best fanfiction out there IMHO, Wonderbee31, Coolone007, the prolific Clell65619 who just keeps em' coming, RedJacobson who tells it like it is.
Even though I'm standing down as a fanfic author, it's not goodbye, just farewell. I plan to check daily for updates from my favorite authors, oh, along those lines, keep an eye out for stories by GuitarGurl – a new writer who has a fresh point of view and commentary – she may just be the next big thing in fan fiction.
So long f'now,
(Now you know what the "N" in PerfesserN stands for.)