Chapter 28: Battle's End
Briallen awoke the next morning to the worst pain she had ever felt in her life, and she could not keep herself from screaming in agony. She tried to sit up but a searing pain in her stomach made her fall back onto her pillow; she clutched her stomach, tears streaming down her face.
"Calm down, child, calm down! You'll wake the others!" shushed Mrs Krause as she rushed to Briallen's side. Briallen turned pink as she tried to keep from screaming, while she watched Mrs Krause and another, younger, nurse, fuss over the bandages wrapped tightly around her torso.
"It hurts!" whimpered Briallen. She pulled herself up on her elbows to look down at the wound on her stomach, which was being treated with a chunky blue gel by the young nurse, and screamed again when she saw the raw, broken skin. She began screaming for her mom.
Mrs Krause waved her wand and a bottle of green liquid appeared in her hand. She immediately fed the entire contents of the bottle to Briallen. Within seconds, she had calmed down drastically as most of her pain was alleviated, but she continued to stare at the wound, now blue and shiny from the gel the other nurse had rubbed on it.
"If you move too much you may start bleeding again. You've been cut fairly deep," said Mrs Krause, pensive. "Only the kidney was punctured, and, luckily, the stomach's fine, so you can eat. But, I must ask you: how did you get this wound?"
Briallen dropped her head on her pillow and closed her eyes. Her mouth was dry, and her lips felt chapped, even though she had just drank all of the potion Mrs Krause had given her. She raised her hands to her head where she felt moist, matted hair and could suddenly smell dirt and something metallic. She wrinkled her nose and put her hands back down. "It was one of the werewolves."
"But how were you cut, exactly?" The younger nurse paused with re-wrapping Briallen's wound and looked up suddenly at Mrs Krause, her hands shaking slightly. Briallen wondered why the young nurse seemed so scared all of a sudden.
"I was on its back and it ripped me off," explained Briallen dryly.
"So this wound was done by its claws?"
"Yeah, I guess," mumbled Briallen.
Mrs Krause and her assistant nurse gave each other a look that Briallen didn't recognize. The young nurse then continued to re-wrap Briallen's torso, though much more carefully this time, as if she were trying to not touch her. Mrs Krause waited for the nurse to finish before she spoke again. "Verena, would you attend to Mr Pierce now, please?" The young nurse nodded and quickly left Briallen. "Briallen, because you were not actually bitten, I don't need to contact the Department for Werewolf Integration Tracking – do you know what that is?"
Briallen had learned much about the Ministry of Magic in all of her classes, mostly in her history class, but she realized quickly that there were dozens of departments for every little thing, so she wasn't surprised to learn there was a department devoted entirely to werewolves. And it was, of course, one she hadn't heard of, so she shook her head.
"Well… never mind, you needn't worry about it. You should know, though, that this wound you have is a magical wound and it can't be healed like normal wounds. You will be left with a scar, and maybe, well…"
Mrs Krause was uncharacteristically at a loss of words and unsure of what to say. To her obvious relief, however, just then Takashi Wu woke up and began asking why he was in the hospital wing, and insisting that he wasn't hurt. After giving Briallen a sip of another strange potion, Mrs Krause turned and left her alone to go fuss over Takashi on the other side of the infirmary. Briallen looked around and saw that almost everybody from the night before was in the infirmary with her, except for Gavin Ellison and Lucan Stone. She thought it was strange that Gavin wasn't there since he had been the only one of them bitten by one of the werewolves the night before. Then she smiled as she noticed that on either side of her were Toby and Marisol. While she wasn't happy that both of her friends were injured, she was happy that they were there with her.
Briallen sighed and then winced as pain shot through her body again. The potion Mrs Krause had given her worked better to dull pain better than anything she had ever taken before, but there were still moments where if she moved the wrong way, it hurt. "Ignore the pain, ignore the pain, pretend it's not there," she chanted quietly to herself. Briallen looked out the tall window opposite her bed. "Look out the window… oh, wow… " The sun was just beginning to rise and she had a perfect view of the mountains to the south. Yellow and pink light covered the tall, misty mountains, and birds chirped happily to one another on the windowsill, oblivious of the horrible events from last night. "It's just as pretty as Ben said it was…"
"What?" asked a voice next to her. Briallen turned her head and smiled when she saw Hayden Van Vlerah by her side. In his hands he held a small pink and yellow vase with tulips, and a brown paper bag. "I heard you were fighting werewolves and evil hags last night."
Hayden raised an eyebrow as he took a seat on her bed and reached for her hand. This time Briallen did not pull away. "You're still very pretty, even with the bruises and caked blood, and dirt and grass everywhere…"
Briallen pulled her hand from his and pinched him. "What's that you got there?"
"Flowers for you," said Hayden as he put the vase on the table next to Briallen's bed. "And some Tinking Toffees, because I know they're your favorite."
"Too bad I can't eat them because my stomach was ripped open," joked Briallen.
Hayden laughed sadly and took her hand back. "Really, though. I'm glad you're alright. Last night, I was so worried. The castle was crazy because Taye Frost said that a suit of armor told him it had seen a monster in the castle. We were all sent to the dining hall, but when the heads of houses checked names, and they found that you, Marisol, Toby and Lucan weren't here… everybody was so scared. And then, not ten minutes later, Gavin Ellison practically kicks open the front doors of the school, carrying you in his arms, followed by Marisol, Toby, Lucan and all the kids that had been kidnapped. Christabel Lewis was screaming and crying about the north wood and about a bunch of werewolves and an evil witch… It was chaos. And you were all so beat up, and dirty, and bloody… "
"But everyone is okay?"
Hayden nodded solemnly. "They're okay but, uh, Gavin was bitten. Werewolf Liaison Officers from the Ministry are arriving today. He has to put his name in the werewolf registry now… They don't usually move this fast, though. There's a rumor that one of the teachers turned him in."
"I feel so bad for him; he's such a nice guy," whispered Briallen sadly.
"I know," said Hayden as he stroked Briallen's hand. "So… once you're better, you're going home, right? Are you going to visit your grandpa at all this summer?"
"Of course I am, Hayden, just so I can see you."
"Don't tease me."
Briallen smiled broadly and nodded. "Can't help it, you're an easy target… I'm thinking about it, though. I might spend a few days in The Village before the school year begins. Unless Benjamin is still willing to train me for Quodpot, then maybe I can convince my parents to let me stay longer," said Briallen casually. She liked that she and Hayden were having a normal conversation. Talking about her plans for the summer made her forget about her pain, and about the trouble she knew she'd be in when she saw her parents and her grandfather.
"And then we can go to lunch everyday again, like we did during winter break."
"Only if you swear to me you won't take me to that ugly, frilly, cafe latte place. It's either the Bubbling Cauldron, Charlotte's, or nothing."
"I agree," said Hayden with a laugh.
"Hey," murmured Marisol, just now waking up. "What's going on?"
"We're in the infirmary. Remember?" asked Briallen, as she watched her friend sit up. Marisol didn't look like she was badly injured at all, with just a few scrapes and bruises, especially when compared to Toby, who had his head and an arm bandaged.
"Oh, yeah… That woman gave me a sleeping potion!" said Marisol, sounding offended. "I told her I was just fine and all I needed was a shower!"
"You're just a girl, and you experienced an incredibly traumatic event!" argued Mrs Krause, from her place by Christabel Lewis.
"I need a shower!" screeched Marisol. "Look at me! Look at my hair! What if Benjamin sees me like this?"
"Mr Beauvais did see you like that, when he stopped by last night to see how you all were."
Marisol fell back into her bed and pulled her sheet over her face as she grumbled angrily about how she believed Mrs Krause should be sent to an insane asylum.
"Oh my gosh, if Marisol looks terrible, then I probably do too! Hayden, you need to leave, and wait 'till I've showered and done my hair!" cried Briallen jokingly.
"Very funny, Briallen… so, um, why is Hayden here? Are you guys dating?" asked Marisol with a sniffle, still under her sheet. Even after a night of fighting monsters, her top-most priority was the subject of boys.
Both Hayden and Briallen said 'no' at the same time. Briallen smiled at the boy sitting on her bed. She was liking him more and more every time she saw him. Marisol suddenly ripped the bed sheet off of her and shot up.
"What happened to the snatcher?" cried Marisol, scrambling to find her wand.
"SIT DOWN!" bellowed Mrs Krause. Christabel looked up at the nurse standing next to her, surprised and fearful. "Miss Winsome was apprehended last night by the Dean and the Aurors still on campus. She's most likely in a prison cell right now, and she'll be there for a very long time."
"Necesito… para enviar my padre… em, un búho! Like, now!" cried Marisol, sounding slightly confused. Mrs Krause, unsure of what exactly Marisol had just said, smiled and nodded. Marisol took this as approval to owl her father, and jumped out of her bed and ran out of the infirmary.
"Verena! Bring her back!" cried Mrs Krause, alarmed. She had no idea what Marisol was doing, only that she wasn't supposed to be doing it. Verena ran after Marisol, while Hayden and Briallen watched, amused.
"What's she doing?" Hayden asked Briallen.
"Owling her dad," she laughed.
"So you must be feeling better," said Cal Bevin as he sat down on the floor next to Briallen. Still in her pajamas, she was currently kneeling in front of one of the many bookcases in his office. It had only been half a day but Briallen's wound had healed greatly, though it still looked pink and shiny, and she still had her stitches in, and was still wrapped in bandages.
"Mrs Krause gave me some sort of pain-relieving potion. It's better than aspirin… you know, grandpa, you really should clean out these little cupboards more often," said Briallen as she wiped a rag inside the now empty cupboard on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. "Look at all this dust! And all this junk!" She lifted a wide glass jar full of shark teeth and waved it in front of her grandfather. "Do you really need a jar full of teeth?"
"It's meant to be intimidating," said Cal Bevin with a smile as he took the jar from Briallen. "I shall put it on my desk, that way when a student who is in trouble comes to speak to me, they won't be misled by my charming demeanor."
Briallen chuckled. "Or maybe you could just give it to Professor Alembic? I bet there's some sort of potion that uses shark teeth."
"Actually, yes, I believe three shark teeth are needed in a Wit-Sharpening Potion… "
"Ew," said Briallen as she made a face. "And to think that we drink potions!"
"Judging by your disgust of shark's teeth, I take it you would rather not know what is in the pain-relieving potion that you love so much?"
"Don't even, grandpa." Briallen raised her finger as if she were scolding a toddler.
They worked silently together, happy to just have each other's company, as they cleaned out the bottom cupboards of all the bookcases. Cal Bevin had spoken with Briallen about what had happened, but he had not lectured her, only reminded her how disappointed he was with her when she broke the rules. He was angry she had disobeyed him, but he was also happy she was still alive after an encounter with werewolves, and proud of her, and her friends, for finding the missing kids (even though it had been pure luck, since Miss Winsome hadn't had them hidden there the whole time).
Briallen, of course, defended her decision and made clear that everybody else made their own decision as well to go out to the north wood last night. Cal and Briallen fought briefly and said their share, and then agreed to put it aside for the remainder of the semester and spend some quality time together, and try to find a way to explain what had happened to Will and Meda Bevin. And so Briallen was now cleaning out her grandfather's office.
Once they finished the bookcase that had contained the jar of shark teeth, Briallen fell backwards onto the floor and closed her eyes. "Grandpa?"
"Yes, dear?" asked Cal as he examined a small, empty telescope case of the kind used by sailors, that Briallen had found hidden within a book just moments ago.
"Why did Miss Winsome do what she did? Why did she want to hurt us – especially me – so badly?"
Cal put the telescope case back in its book and looked over at his granddaughter, who stared expectantly at him. "Miss Winsome is actually a hag. She took so many beautifying potions that when she applied for a job here a few years ago, I didn't recognize her."
"And you would have recognized her before?"
"Yes. Many years ago, when I first became Dean of Bergamot, she applied for the job of assistant groundskeeper. Even though she was a hag, that didn't mean she was evil, only different. She was friendly and had a good attitude, and so I hired her. The first few weeks of term went by smoothly and she did an excellent job. Until the parents of one of the first year students at the time came by for a visit. When they saw that a hag was one of our groundskeepers, well… you need to understand, Briallen, that thirty years ago, things were much different in the wizarding world. Well, not that much has really changed since then, but it's a little better."
Briallen could have sworn she saw her grandfather actually roll his eyes just then.
"As I was saying, the parents saw Miss Winsome – who went by Abilene at the time – and demanded that she be fired immediately. Of course, I refused and insisted that she was a great groundskeeper and would never harm the children, but the parents went to the school board, and a month later I was forced to let her go. I guess her anger at being fired was directed towards me and, after years of resentment, she decided to get her revenge… and what a revenge it would have been had she succeeded."
Briallen had never seen her grandfather look so sad before. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted, though, by the arrival of Professor Alembic flanked by two men in conservative robes, along with Gavin. "Professor Bevin? The men from the Werewolf Liaison Office are here. I also took the liberty to fetch Mr Ellison as well."
"Thank you very much, Freya," said Cal as he rose to his feet and dusted his robes off. "Please forgive me, I was just doing a bit of late spring cleaning with my granddaughter." He held out his hand to the two Ministry men.
"Your granddaughter?" asked one of the officers as he raised his eyebrow and examined Briallen. "She was one of the students involved in the event out in the north wood last night, correct?"
"She was by my side for most of it," said Gavin as he walked over to Briallen with a smile. He grabbed her hand and pulled her up, and she immediately hugged him.
"I don't care that you're a werewolf now," she whispered in his ear before she pulled away. Gavin smiled down at her. He looked paler than usual, and his left arm was in a sling, but when he smiled, Briallen knew he would be alright.
"Well," said the Liaison Officer. "I would like it if she could stay. There's a few questions we'd like to ask her as well."
"Of course," said Cal Bevin in a way that was both curt and courteous. He waved his wand and four extra chairs appeared in the room. He then turned around the two chairs by the fireplace so that they made a circle, and then he took a seat. "Please, sit down."
Everybody in the room took a seat in one of the chairs. The Liaison Officer that had just spoken cleared his throat. "Mr Ellison has already told us his version of what happened last night by the north wood cave, and has been very forthcoming with his part in the event, as well as about the fact that he was, indeed, bitten by one of the werewolves. As I'm sure we all know, when a person is bitten by a werewolf, they are infected with lycanthropy, which is why we are here today. As required by law, Gavin Ellison, being of age, must register himself as a werewolf in the American Werewolf Registry. He is now required, at all times, to let the Ministry know of his relatives, residence, close friends, frequent places of visitation, and occupation, as well as where he plans to be the night before, after, and of the full moon. When one or more of the previous change, he must make aware the Department for Werewolf Integration Tracking by either Flooing or Apparating to, or owl, a designated D.W.I.T. location."
Briallen's jaw dropped. "What? You're all treating him like a criminal, but he's not a bad man! Why do you have to know all that stuff? Aren't there privacy laws or something?"
"Briallen, be quiet. It's not your turn to speak," said Cal Bevin calmly.
The Liaison Officers stared at Briallen. "Werewolves, as I know you know, are very dangerous."
"Only for a couple of days a month. For the rest of the time they're just normal people! Good people!"
"That doesn't change the fact that the infected are a danger to themselves and others. The information we require is important should anything happen, such as last night. Which brings me to my next question – looking over the medical report provided by… a Head Nurse Althea Krause, you sustained a serious abdominal wound of unknown origin. Is this correct?"
Cal Bevin leaned forward suddenly and answered the Officer before Briallen could. "She was not bitten."
"I was speaking to Miss Bevin," said the Officer, pronouncing each word slowly, while not breaking eye contact with Cal. Gavin looked at Briallen, obviously concerned, though Briallen didn't understand why, since she wasn't bitten. The Officer then directed his penetrating glare to Briallen.
"One of the werewolves threw me across the clearing… I rolled for a ways and landed against a tree or rock, or something. It happened so fast, but I'm sure I wasn't bitten. Mrs Krause would have said something if she'd seen bite marks."
The Officer narrowed his eyes at Briallen and scribbled something in a small, black notebook Briallen hadn't noticed before. "I'm sure. And tell me, how many werewolves were there?"
Briallen crossed her arms and glared at the Liaison Officers. "There were three."
"Are you quite sure?"
"Yes! They were all gray, and there was one large one and two small ones – well, small for a werewolf, anyway. I think the small ones might be girls – anyway, I took down one small one with Lucan Stone, and then he and Takashi Wu took down the other two with help from everybody, including Gavin." Briallen was growing impatient with the patronizing and superior attitudes of the Liaison Officers and was eager for them to leave already. She was also eager to ask her grandfather why everybody kept acting so strange when discussing her stomach wound.
Both Officers began to write, and when they were finished, they nodded to each other. Cal Bevin shifted in his chair and looked with suspicion at the Liaison Officers as he asked, "What is it, Officers?"
The youngest officer, who hadn't said a word previously, spoke quietly but maintained composure. "There are only two registered werewolves in this area, sir."
"You know who the werewolves from last night are?" asked Briallen, suddenly alarmed.
"We know who the two females are. The large male is unknown."
"Are they alright? Lucan shot one with some arrows and we beat them up a bit… are they in trouble?"
"They are fine, and are not in trouble," said the young Officer, looking strangely at Briallen.
"The cave in the north wood is their safe zone. That is where they go to keep from harming others during the full moon. We cannot fault them for whatever injuries you and your friends incurred, as you were trespassing on their territory," explained the older Officer tightly. He clearly felt differently on the matter.
"What about if other people go there now? Now that everybody knows what happened there? Where will Gavin go?"
The younger Officer was kinder, though slightly patronizing, as he spoke. "We're sorry for what happened to Mr Ellison here, but we're not allowed to disclose to the general public the location of safe zones, not only to ensure their safety but the safety of the infected. Because the safe zone in the north wood has been compromised, the werewolves from last night will not be returning there. Mr Ellison will be made aware of the new safe zone, once it has been chosen and cleared with D.W.I.T. Until then, he, and the other two werewolves in this area, will be detained in a specially designed D.W.I.T. holding cell during the full moon."
Briallen felt horrible for Gavin and what he would have to go through. Suddenly she felt a hand take hers and she looked up to see Gavin smiling at her. "Don't worry about it. It's not your fault."
"Are we quite through?" asked Cal Bevin as politely as he could, given how angry and irritated he was just then.
"We are through with Mr Ellison and Miss Bevin. We would like to speak with you a little more, however, if you don't mind," said the older, and ruder, Officer.
"Gavin, Briallen, why don't you both go to lunch?" Cal asked the two students kindly. Neither of them argued with Cal. Gavin wrapped an arm around Briallen as they walked out of her grandfather's office, and she looked back only once, to see that the Officers had used their wands to create a large pile of paperwork.
"Gavin? Why were they asking me about my cut?" asked Briallen, unable to contain any longer the question that had been bugging her since that morning.
"You don't need to worry about that. They were just being… thorough," explained Gavin as they stepped into the portrait hall. Briallen wanted to yell at him just then, and tell him that she wasn't a little girl, and she wanted to know why everybody seemed to be so bothered by her injury. "Would you mind if I don't go to lunch with you? I'd like to see Kara."
Briallen didn't scream or yell or cause a scene. She nodded, in a friendly and understanding sort of way, and left Gavin on the landing as she went to the dining hall on her own.
She chewed her lunch slowly. The meeting with the Liaison Officers had left her angry with the Ministry, and the wizarding world in general. It didn't feel right to her, how they treated Gavin, a guy she considered to be one of the nicest people in the world.
"Briallen! Briallen!" came a voice from the large doorway of the dining hall. Everybody in the room turned to stare at Marisol who was waving her arms and bouncing around like a hyper-active lunatic. "Come here!"
Verena had been unable to catch her earlier and Mrs Krause, overwhelmed by attention-craving Christabel, had given up trying to keep anyone in the infirmary at that point. She had even allowed Briallen, who had to most serious injuries, to leave, once she'd drank several disgusting potions.
Briallen sighed and pushed her plate away before she stood up and walked over to Marisol. "What is it?"
"It's time for my big secret to come to fruition," said Marisol in all seriousness. Briallen wondered briefly where Marisol had learned the word 'fruition' and what, exactly, it meant.
"Secret? What secret?"
"Toby's surprise party, even though it's not a surprise anymore, remember? Come on!"
Marisol grabbed Briallen's hand and skipped out the front doors, down the steps and to a carriage. Toby was already waiting inside the carriage. His head was still bandaged, along with his arm, but the color had returned to his cheeks and he had a smile on his face. Marisol climbed in, and Briallen climbed in after her and then the carriage took off.
"Where are we going again?" asked Briallen. "I don't think we're supposed to leave the castle."
"I got permission from your grandpa since it's a special occasion," said Marisol happily, clapping her hands.
"Super special," Toby corrected with a large smile. The carriage moved quickly, and in little time pulled up in front of the Bubbling Cauldron. The three friends got out, laughing and joking with one another over Marisol's surprise-that-wasn't-a-surprise.
"Ah, just the three of us, hanging out at the Bubbling Cauldron," said Toby as he opened the door and went inside. Once inside, Briallen was shocked. Everybody from the night before, even Lucan Stone, plus some of their other friends from Bergamot, were in the Bubbling Cauldron. All at once everybody began to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Toby.
Briallen smiled, then laughed jovially and joined in, making sure that she and Marisol were the loudest of them all.