Chapter 28 a few loose ends

Into this atmosphere of pseudo triumph burst another broadcast by Convolvumort.

"I have been bereft again of my dirteaters!" wailed the now well-known high pitched voice "And it is all the fault of my OTHER arch enemy Professor Glumblebum who foiled my plans to lay hands on HAIRY PIMPLE! My servants were attacked by him and Starriest Crack and Professor Miaowa McCatterwaul! I am Dogged by CAT astrophe! And it's NOT FAIR! Where was my minion Tuurd the Troll while this was happening?"

"Uuuh…. I was being fed by the house elf boss" said David in Tuurd's voice "While she was cursing the snake and stirring the house. Cor that was uncomfortable!"

"I am surrounded by incompetents!" cried Convolvumort.

"No you isn't master, they is all back in Azkaban!" squeaked Grace as Leaky.

"I have only ONE recourse on which to fall back" said Convolvumort.

"Well send de elf for more recushions boss" suggested Tuurd.

"Dolt! Idiot! Fool! What kind of moron are you?" demanded Convolvumort.

There was a long silence.

"Uuuuh… how many kinds of moron is dere, boss for me to be?" asked Tuurd.

"AAARG! It is insupportable! There is only one thing I can do…..my loyal listeners I tell you that YOU must be my new dirt eaters and think nothing but EVIL THOUGHTS and you fifth year boys get your hands outside the bedcovers and let NOTHING distract you…. You WILL be my followers and in return I offer you abuse, hard words, mud to kneel in to kiss my feet, lots of nice cuddly pain and a very sore left arm. How can you pass that up?"

It was one of the closest to the knuckle yet; and Lucius, Krait and Severus all had to endure a frothing diatribe from Voldemort over how the Wizarding Wireless would pay when he was back up to strength.

At least he had now accepted that it was probably Dumbledore himself doing it; for surely no-one else would dare, nor know so much.

"What have you told him Severus that he could use?" he demanded.

"My Lord he has not questioned me recently" said Severus "I had to tell him a certain amount before when – when I was pretending to pass information to him; obviously. I think he may have remembered some and guessed more. Remember he hinted at Lucius; but did not accuse him outright, he dares not as he has never been in the open; that at least is a strength for you that he can only be vague over what he does not know."

Draco was glad now of course that he had never outright called his father a dirteater!

Voldemort descended into the sulks; which was at least better than handing out wholesale tastes of the cruciatus curse. He did however adjure Krait NEVER to be in a situation where the headmaster could meet her eyes.

"He is almost as good a legilimens as I" he said "Severus will start to teach you some occlumency as he knows enough to avoid being caught out by Dumbledore."

"Thank you father; that would be well useful" said Krait, who was a skilled enough occlumencer to fool her repellent sire.

As Lucius did not yet know – or even suspect – who Convolvumort was he was quite safely able to deny any knowledge and use his reputation for being slippery by suggesting that it was a bad time to risk coming into the open to attack the Wizarding Wireless. Which Voldemort grudgingly accepted.

-/-

It was almost an anticlimax when David and Erich caught a girl in their year trying to sneak into the Potions Dungeon; the alihotsy affair had filled her with enthusiasm to get her main rivals for whichever boy she fancied embarrassed and in trouble by that same means of hysteria. David had suspected that it had been she who had tried before in the abortive attempt that had led to the burning of Severus and the early labour of Krait; and taxed her with it, gaining a defiant confession. They took the girl, Ambrosine D'eath straight to Professor Dumbledore, totally disgusted with her. As David told her

"It's not the stealing of stuff to play childish pranks that's pissed us off, D'eath, it's that you couldn't manage to own up to it at the time, even though it nearly killed Krait and Professor Snape…you are loathsome."

Dumbledore agreed; and with a heavy heart he expelled the girl. It had been quite a year for expulsions; but, he reflected, at least he had not been forced into one of them being Harry.

-/-

Crabbe and Goyle were subdued in school.

Their respective fathers had been two of the Deatheaters who had been arrested for the first time in the battle of the department of mysteries; and they looked upon Draco with some resentment because his father had got away. Krait was almost sorry for them; but she looked into the eyes of each and saw no hint of compassion or gentleness; and forbore to even try to work on them.

"We'll probably be fighting against them when we come to do it" she said to Draco.

Draco nodded.

"You are probably right" he said, sighing. "It seems wrong, fighting children….why are you laughing?"

"They're your age….and older by far than some of our able little soldiers."

Draco looked mildly surprised.

"Why….so they are!" he said. "So much has happened….I feel years older than the others in our class."

"And that's why Dumbledore is telling us things….because we ARE years older – mentally – than our ages" said Krait, gently. "Is your father….fond of Charlotte?" she asked abruptly.

"He's giving out the fiction that she's his long term mistress and both the children are his and hers" said Draco. "I think she's filling the position of fiction….my mother's going to be furious, it'll dent her pride….though I think she's had lovers….it's going to be an interesting holiday." He added dryly.

"If you can get your mother to the point where she wants any compulsions dealt with…."

He shrugged.

"Mother is a complex being….it comes of being female I suppose."

-/-

Krait saw Harry off on the train; she knew that several members of the Order of the Phoenix were planning on terrorising the Dursleys a little bit when he got to London, so saw him off in good peace of mind. She and Severus were ready to leave when Lucius turned up.

"HE asked me to get you and tell you to restore Bella….he knew Severus would have a potion." He said.

"I see" said Krait. "Yes, he's a little short of death eaters right now….Severus, as you pour the potion on, could I hit her with a memory destroying charm?"

"It's possible….what had you in mind?"

"She'd not be dangerous if she were about three, even a little older…and she could be trainable. If we can steal Narcissa from him as well, it would please Draco, and it would be well not to antagonise her by killing her sister outright….things go wrong."

"Voldemort is there….you will have to be subtle" warned Lucius.

"Thanks….I shall be." She said.

-/-

Bella's statue was brought out; and her sister hovered protectively. Krait stood watching, her mind delicately probing the edges of limited consciousness of the petrified woman. As the potion began to work she acted, wrapping up all memories after the woman's sixth birthday and ripping them away, taking them into herself to best hide her actions.

"Mama? Where's mama?" wailed Bella Black. "Who are all you people? Where's my mamma?" she opened her mouth and howled, real tears running down her face.

"oh dear" said Krait, mildly. Inside she felt deeply for the terrified child that Bellatrix was; but showing compassion would not help any.

Voldemort strode over to the bellowing Bella and forced her to look at him; she sobbed – hardly surprisingly – in real terror.

"Gone!" he said bitterly "All her mind from the age of about six…gone! Daughter, how did you do this?" he wheeled round to glower at Krait.

Krait let her mouth drop open.

"I didn't know that turning her to stone would do that!" she said. "I never heard of such a thing….all the people who were petrified by Salazar's pet were in their right minds again….if you can ever use that adjective for Hermione Granger….weren't they Severus?"

"They were. And this is from that same stock of mandragora" said Severus blandly meeting Voldemort's eye, and telling him the absolute truth.

Voldemort's eyes glittered in anger and he turned to unleash a cruciatus curse on Krait. She fell to the ground, and he released it almost immediately.

"It was bad luck not bad planning" he said "But it was still your fault, daughter. We have received a serious setback…..I will need to think." He disapparated away.

"Bella" sobbed Narcissa "What am I to do for my sister, you awful girl?" she had her arms around Bella; who, not recognising the sister who had only been an infant at this stage of her memory, wept harder. Krait came over and cupped Bella's face gently in her hands.

"Listen, sweeting, you've not been very well" she said "But you're going to live here from now on…Lucius and Narcissa - and Charlotte I guess – are going to look after you, and take care of you…they'll do their best to make you happy."

Bella clung to her.

Narcissa watched with a degree of respect at Krait's handling of Bella, though she stiffened at the mention of Charlotte.

"Where's my mama?" wailed Bella.

"I'm afraid mama had to go away….Narcissa will be like a mama for you, you've forgotten but she's your great big grown up sister…she's married to Lucius, he'll be a kind daddy for you."

Severus said

"There are reducing potions….if one were made permanent….to a degree….she could have her form reduced to her mental age….and grow up in your nursery, Lucius?"

Lucius nodded.

"An excellent idea….I have a natural son and daughter a year or so each side of her current age…..Cissy, it'll be all right…..at least she's still alive."

Narcissa gave him an uncertain and rather sullen look and he patted her awkwardly on the shoulder. Krait disentangled Bella's arms and placed her hand in Narcissa's.

"It'll be all right now" she whispered. "Cissy will help you to be well and happy…won't you?"

Narcissa scowled.

"It's your fault she's like this."

"But she has a chance to be happy….was she really, before? Don't frighten her, Narcissa, she's just a little girl, whatever her body looks like."

Narcissa sniffed; but took her sister's hand tenderly enough.

-/-

Krait managed to have private words later with Lucius and Severus.

"I've glanced into her memories….I'll store them for viewing by Pensieve…but what he did to her at school beggars belief" she said white faced. "He ….he tied pain and sex together for her, and….well, it's too revolting to talk about really" she was white. "I'd rather get it to Pensieve where it's at least secondhand…."

"Let's get you back to Hogwarts, my dear" said Severus gently, putting an arm about her. "I've a potion to brew for Bella….and you can shed those thoughts."

Lucius stared.

"Severus, are you sleeping with my niece?"

"Lucius, I'm sleeping with my wife" Severus looked down his nose. "No, HE doesn't know we're married…. But he did sanction me….schooling…..her."

"Scum!" said Lucius.

"I trust that refers to my father not my husband" said Krait, coldly.

"Of course….if you didn't want Severus I make no doubt you'd have poisoned him." Said Lucius.

"Hardly. He'd know the antidote. I'd have done something else terminal" said Krait.

"Merlin's beard, you're a true Malfoy" said Lucius proudly.

The end – for now. Part 3 coming soon; look out for 'The Endless Riddle' unless you're bored by now in which case have a good day anyway. give me a few days, all right? I got talked into writing something for Jane Austen's 'Emma' and it's rather absorbing research.