Dens Leoninus

by Christine Morgan
christine@sabledrake.com / http://www.christine-morgan.org




Author's Note: the characters of Gargoyles are the property of Disney. Those of the Harry Potter books are property of J.K. Rowling. Used here without their owners' knowledge or permission. February 2002; 5,500 words.

The nightly waking roar became a moan of pain.
Una, shaking shards of stone out of her mane, turned with a worried frown. "Still hurting?"
Leo spun away from her, one hand pressed gingerly to his furred cheek. "It's a bit better." His voice was muffled, and after all these years she could certainly tell when he was lying.
Hooves clacking on the stone floor, she walked around to the front of him. When he would have averted his face again, she caught him by the wrist and pulled his arm down.
"Let me see," she said.
"It's not that bad, really," he grumbled.
"I'll be the judge of that."
His tail swished petulantly, but he quit trying to avoid her and, wincing, opened his mouth.
She leaned close, for a moment looking like she was about to perform the sort of trick more commonly seen in circuses than in a magic shop. Leo's mouth was as leonine as the rest of him, full of sharp ivory fangs and a rough pink tongue.
Except something was sorely amiss in there. She could smell it on the dank wafting of his breath, and see it where one tooth had gone dead and black. The gum around it was puffed, swollen, seeping.
"I ohn uhnnersahn hy hone hleep ohn ichs ih," Leo said.
Una nodded absently, her horn bobbing. "One would think it should. But it's an infection, not an injury."
"Huh ah I gohn ooh?"
"A very good question. I'm no expert, but I'd guess the tooth has to come out."
At this, he backed away from her. His eyes, their pupils already enlarged to take in the most of the dim light of the shop's basement, went even larger.
"You want to knock out my tooth?" he asked, aghast.
"If it's left in, the decay will spread. You could lose them all. For all I know, the infection could eat into the bone of your jaw, or your brain."
He grimaced. She had seen him injured dozens of times, most typically on the occasions when the local toughs would attempt a robbery. She'd even seen him shot, back during the final months of the war. That had been after Griff disappeared, he and Goliath, heading out into the screaming dark never to return.
That had been fifty years ago, but she remembered it as if it had been yesterday. She and Leo had gone out searching night after night. They'd found no sign. As if Griff and Goliath had vanished into thin air – as she now knew they truly had. It was only later, when the war was done and the statue built in honor of that battle, that they learned anything at all of Griff's activities that night. And decades later before he was returned to them.
Their desperate search, though, hoping to find Griff alive, dreading to find the crushed gravel of his remains, and learning that it was worse to find neither and thus live with the unknown, had done what years of conflict had not. It had brought Leo and Una into direct contact with the enemy.
In Griff's honor and memory, they'd done all they could to aid the Allies whenever the aerial battles and bombings threatened London. Una heard whispered rumors after of a strange creature who'd saved them all by foiling a German plot to bomb London not with fire but with a deadly, flesh-corroding poison. She had followed up on those rumors frantically, but it turned out they involved a werewolf, not a gargoyle at all.
Neither she nor Leo had escaped all of those fights unscathed. He had fought bravely, ferociously, and borne his wounds with stoic courage.
Now, a toothache threatened to turn him into a mewling hatchling.
"Just another night," he pleaded.
"It's gotten steadily worse, Leo. Unless you have something done about it, you can't expect it to improve."
"Haven't you some spell or another to take care of it?"
"I'll look."
"Because what else would you have me do? Go to the dentist? I think they might just notice something a little peculiar if I walked in, don't you?"
Leaving him to his complaining, she went upstairs into the body of the shop. She lit candles as she went, preferring them to the too-harsh glow of the overhead lights. Plus, the candles added a flickering ambiance that appealed to their customers.
In the dancing, fluttering light and shadow, the items that filled the shelves took on a fey life of their own. The crystal skull on the highest shelf had refracted flames mirrored almost perfectly in the eye sockets, as if watching her. The severed and dried claw of an adolescent dragon seemed to flex and move.
She passed rows of jars in which unspeakable things floated in thick liquid, scrying balls each with its own stand, a rack of wands ranging from plain to gold-wrapped and jewel-tipped, and a freestanding shelf of magical tomes. A gargoyle – a statue, not one of the clan – hulked ominously in the corner nearest the door. It was poised as if to spring, jaws stretched wide in a fearsome snarl.
Una went to the door and raised the canvas shade, letting it rattle and flap into the cylindrical holder affixed to the top. She turned the sign in the window from 'Closed' to 'Open' and undid the locks.
Outside, the street was peaceful and the summer night pleasantly cool. She stepped out for a moment, breathing deeply and admiring the color of the sky. It was still streaked with scarlet and gold in the west, a rich indigo overhead, and pure black to the east where the first stars glimmered. The city was alive with night-sounds of traffic, music, and human voices.
A few passers-by, tourists primarily, gawked at her as she stood taking the air. Those of the neighborhood were … well, not used to them by now, but at least accustomed to their odd ways. She knew they told each other that she and Leo were so obsessively into their image that they wore costumes and masks all the time, but she didn't know how many of them actually believed it, and how many pretended to because it was easier than believing the truth.
The average man, or woman, on the street wanted to believe in well-grounded things, and the slightest hint of anything unusual sent them into fits of anxiety. If they had any idea just how unusual the world actually was, she suspected many of them would go mad.
She went back into the shop and set about straightening up the place. She could hear Leo upstairs – they had nominal quarters in the flat above the store, but never slept there on the off chance that someone might break in. If such a theoretical burglar found no one in the flat, he would make off with the valuables and count himself lucky that the owners had not been home. If, however, he'd found them frozen in stone …
So they slept in the basement, the door at the top of the cellar stairs not only kept locked but woven with an avoidance ward that acted as a subtle deterrent. Anyone coming into the shop would find his or her gaze drawn elsewhere, and might not even notice the door if led right to it.
The smells of cooking food drifted down to her. In the winter, when the nights were long, they had time for a proper and leisurely meal before opening for business. In the summer, though, they were thankful again and again for microwaves and pre-packaged suppers.
The bell over the door tinkled, and a woman who was a frequent customer entered in search of a fresh supply of candles. Una was wrapping up the purchases when Leo came down with a covered tray.
The customer said her farewells and left with the bag under her arm. Una glanced around at the empty shop and smiled at Leo. "Flawless timing."
He set the tray on a small round table flanked by two chairs. Its surface was polished teak inlaid with semiprecious minerals tracing an astrological chart. She sometimes used this table for giving readings, and a rolling cart stood nearby with its drawers holding the various tools of that trade: Tarot cards, rune stones, an Ouija board, books on palmistry and numerology.
Leo lifted the cover. She couldn't understand the urge that drove him to transfer the pre-done cuisine to real dishware instead of eating it straight from the plastic packaging, since that only made more clean-up work to be done. But it did look good.
"Smells delicious," she said, taking up a forkful of tender asparagus. She was not entirely vegetarian, just as he wasn't entirely a carnivore, but her teeth were far better suited to crushing and grinding than they were to tearing.
Leo took a bite of chicken, and howled as he tried to chew. He spat the meat into his napkin and groaned in misery.
"Here … I'll run it through the blender for you," Una offered, rising.
"I'm not going to drink my meat," he grumbled. "Did you find any spells?"
"I'll look right now." She abandoned her plate after sneaking another bite of asparagus, and hurried to the bookshelf.
There were spells for causing pain, those were easy to find. Spells of healing were far more rare. And spells for a black and infected tooth? The best she could come up with was a poultice of herbs with magical properties. Most of the others were of the sympathetic-magic variety – if she could get Leo to bite into a piece of meat, then bury the meat, the belief was that the pain would go away as the meat rotted into nothingness. But if he could bite into a piece of meat, she wouldn't be having this problem, now, would she? No, the best remedy was to get the tooth out. Then use the poultice.
She told him as much, and he glared sulkily at her.
"It's like I said before. I can't go to a dentist. Are you out of your mind?"
"We could arrange it. I may not have spells to fix your tooth, but I do have spells to control and cloud minds. Once the work's been done, I'll blur it from the dentist's memory. It really is the only way, Leo."
He regarded his plate with great wistfulness.
"Or," Una added, "I can run it through the blender."
"All right, all right," he said dejectedly. "You find a dentist open this late, and I'll go."
"Good for you." She went to the directory and flipped through the listings. The first one she came to that advertised 24-hour emergency service was Granger Family Dentistry, and gave an address not far from the shop.

**

The scarlet train rolled grandly into the station, slowing and billowing great gales of steam. With a squeal of its brakes, it came to a halt. For a moment, all was silent except for the hissing of the steam. Then the doors flew open and a crowd of children were disgorged onto the platform.
They milled about, hundreds of them ranging in age between eleven and eighteen, chattering and hugging and saying their goodbyes. A platoon of green, warty-looking creatures in neat red uniforms came in pushing long rows of baggage trolleys ahead of them. They commenced separating the trolleys one from another and shoving them randomly into the crowd, whereupon the children seized any that came close and began loading them up with trunks, birdcages, broomsticks, and cauldrons.
Some weren't content to wait for the trolley-trolls and waved wands, their voices lost in the general din but the evidence of their spells seen in the way trolleys diverted and sped right to them.
Several adults waited on the platform, craning their necks to survey the crowd. When familiar faces were spotted, cries of recognition would arise, and parents would rush forth to greet their children.
Gradually, the throng thinned. A quartet consisting of two boys and two girls was among the last to leave, approaching a blank section of apparently solid wall. That it was not, in fact, solid was something they knew well. And if they hadn't, they would have realized it the moment a woman's head popped through.
She had the same bright orange-red hair as two of the children, her face worn and frazzled-looking. At the sight of them, some of the worried lines smoothed out and she smiled.
"Hullo, Mum," the red-haired boy said.
"There you lot are," she replied. "I was beginning to wonder. Quickly, now, while no Muggles are about. Come through."
They did, passing one by one through the bricks. The effect was a little dizzying, a little disconcerting, but they had all done this before. They emerged, pushing their luggage trolleys in front of them, into the noise and bustle of King's Cross Station.
The woman embraced her two children, set them back from her to criticize how they'd grown right out of their clothes, then pulling them close again to kiss their cheeks and ask how school had been. Their faces flamed in embarrassment, but hardly anyone was around to see and the blushes didn't last long.
The other two, a black-haired boy with glasses over direct green eyes, and a girl with flyaway brown hair and a pretty, studious face, glanced around the station expectantly. The girl went on tiptoe, looking this way and that, her smile shifting to a frown.
"I don't see them, do you, Harry?" she asked the black-haired boy.
He looked too, brushing distractedly at bangs that were too long and in the course of so doing, revealing a jagged scar shaped like a lightning bolt on his forehead. "No, I don't. Are you sure they were coming?"
"Their last letter said they'd be here, and that they were delighted to have you come and visit for a while."
"And Uncle Vernon's not here, which means he got my letter," Harry said.
"Mrs. Weasley," the girl said. "Have you seen my parents?"
"No, Hermione, dear."
"You can always come stay with us," ventured the red-haired girl shyly, blushing all over again as she looked at Harry.
"They'll be along," Hermione said. "They're just running late. And if they don't show, I think I can find my way home on my own. I'm not a baby, after all."
"I don't like leaving you two alone," fussed Mrs. Weasley. "Maybe we should wait."
"We can take care of ourselves," Harry assured her.
"I'm sure you can, of course. Still …"
"It's all right, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione said. "I know you've got a lot to do. Don't let us keep you."
"Well, I do have to get these two home for dinner … their father and brothers will be waiting." She hesitated indecisively a moment longer, then nodded. "All right. Keep in touch, have a good summer, and Harry, we'll look for you a week or so before the start of term."
"Great," Harry said, smiling.
The red-haired girl giggled nervously.
"Come along, Ginny, Ron," their mother said. "We'd best get going. The noise, I don't know how the Muggles put up with it. Giving me a headache, all that racket and roar."
The three of them left, trolley wheels squeaking. The other two steered theirs to a bench, and sat down to wait.
Most of an hour went by. Hermione stood up. "I'd better call them."
Harry followed her to a bank of pay telephones. They were getting strange looks, mostly because his trolley had a caged owl balanced on top. The snowy-white bird fluffed her feathers and rotated her head to stare with wide golden eyes at anyone who came too inquisitively close.
Hermione finally found some coins that weren't Sickles and Knuts, and dropped them into the slot. She dialed. Waited, lips pursed in a manner Harry found eerily reminiscent of their teacher, Professor McGonnagal.
"They're not answering," she said, hanging up. "They could be on their way …" She trailed off uncertainly.
"You don't think anything's wrong, do you?" Harry asked.
"I'm sure there isn't. But I don't want to spend the night at the train station."
"Can you find your way back?"
She gave him a scathing look. "Obviously."
"Then let's go."
"What if they get here and we're gone?"
"The smartest student at Hogwarts must have parents who are pretty bright," Harry said. "They'd figure it out."
Hermione looked half-pleased by the compliment and half-anxious. Then her brow furrowed anew. "Our trunks. We can't take the trolleys out of the station, and we can't carry all of this. If only we were old enough to Apparate."
"We'll get a locker," Harry suggested, indicating a hanging sign with an arrow. "Take what we can, and come back for the rest tomorrow."
In her cage, Hedwig hooted as if to say that she would not take at all kindly to spending the night in a luggage locker. He poked a finger through the bars to reassure her and she nipped at him to emphasize her point.
"I suppose," said Hermione.
They rolled their trolleys into the locker area and unloaded the trunks, carrying their cauldrons. That drew plenty of raised eyebrows, and Harry was glad that they had changed out of their school robes already. Carrying cauldrons was strange enough. Carrying cauldrons and wearing long black robes with the Gryffindor crest would have been a little too much.
Hermione led the way, out of the station and into the streets of London.

**

Even without his wings, Leo's bulk would barely have fit into the chair. With the wings, folded and cramped against his sides, he was squashed in, arms pinned, resembling an uncomfortable sardine.
He couldn't have moved if he'd wanted, and Una thought that was for the best because he did want. He wanted to leap out of that chair, go on a brief but destructive rampage through the office, and escape.
The calming spell she'd placed on him was a variation of the one she'd put on the dentists. The Jacinth of Tryamon, a Third Race princess of Arthur's day, pulsed and sparkled in her hand. It was not easy, controlling three with it, but Una made do.
The two humans, a husband-and-wife team, were going placidly about the business of setting up their equipment for what the woman had called 'the extraction.'
Leo was nowhere near so sanguine. He fought the spell constantly, requiring Una to reinforce it again and again. She was tempted to render him entirely unconscious, but wasn't sure if that would interfere with 'the extraction.' She feared the gem might crack from his struggles.
So she tried her best to soothe him while also keeping the humans in line. Given the wide array of sharp metal implements in this room, she didn't like the idea of any of them breaking out of her control.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger, or Dr. and Dr. Granger to be perfectly correct, had opened the door readily enough to admit them when Leo and Una had arrived at the back emergency exit. Their moment of stunned surprise lasted just long enough for Una to blow spelldust in their faces and speak the Latin words. They'd become like sleepwalkers then, pliant and accommodating, all the more susceptible to the gem's power.
Like the magic shop, the office was a business below with a living area above. Having their home so close to their workplace allowed the Grangers to take these emergency calls. When Una had telephoned to make the appointment, Mrs. Granger – the female Dr. Granger – claimed they had just been on their way out the door, but Una had been able to work a spell of persuasion over the phone line to encourage them to accept the appointment.
Now here they were, Una standing in the corner as out of the way as she could be, Leo trapped in the reclined chair and staring up glassy-eyed at the x-ray camera, the overhead light on its long, jointed arm, and the tray with its glittering display of picks, probes, scrapers, and whatnot. The tufted tip of his tail whipped back and forth in short, tense arcs.
The Grangers, in white smocks with white masks covering the lower halves of their faces and clear plastic goggles covering the upper halves, had produced a needle and announced to Leo their intention to inject a numbing agent into his gums and jaw.
At that, Leo heaved in the chair. It creaked, the metal support rising from the floor crimping a little under his weight. His mouth was clamped shut although it must have hurt him terribly. Tears of pain squeezed from his wild, rolling eyes.
"They're only trying to help," Una scolded him.
He submitted, shuddering. His mouth opened the tiniest bit, hands clamped down hard on the armrests of the chair.
"Wider," instructed Dr. Granger, the male.
Leo opened his mouth a tiny bit more.
"Wider still," the other Dr. Granger urged.
With a whimper of resignation, Leo's cavernous maw gaped wide. Both dentists recoiled from the sight, and Una felt her hold on them waver. She hastily strengthened the spell, and wished they'd hurry up and get it over with. She was tiring.
The humans looked from Leo's sharp teeth to the thin latex gloves that sheathed their hands, then at each other. Behind the goggles, their eyes were apprehensive. The man, holding the needle, took a deep breath and moved closer.
Una concentrated on Leo. He held still, shaking, his claws piercing and digging into the vinyl armrests until they scraped on the metal frame beneath. With extreme care, as if handling something liable to explode, the dentist grasped Leo's lower lip in one hand and inserted the needle into his gum with the other. The tip went in where the gum met the jaw.
Leo went utterly rigid. His eyes flashed white. A rumble in his chest turned into a roar that burst from his throat with enough power to shake the windows. The dentist sprang back, crying out, and his wife clutched at him.
Bit by bit, in barely perceptible degrees, Leo's body relaxed. His mouth sagged open, and a comical, bewildered look came into his eyes. Releasing his death grip on the armrest with one hand, he prodded at the side of his face and gave no sign of pain.
Sighing in relief, Una gave a nod to the humans that they should continue. Still warily, but with the efficiency of habit, they went to work. They fitted rubber caps over Leo's teeth and reached into his mouth.
He might be feeling no pain, but Leo was far from at ease. The sounds were horrible even to Una, way over in the corner. What they must have sounded like in his head – the grating and crack of bone as the dentists rocked the offending tooth free of its moorings, the spine-tingling scrape of metal on enamel – was more than she cared to think about.
The tooth came out in broken, blackened chunks with bloody roots. It lay in a metal dish, turning grey as it dried and flaking away to powder. The gum was next. It had to be flayed back, irrigated with a cleansing solution, and packed with gauze. A suction tube gurgled sickeningly as it vacuumed up the blood, water, and saliva. Una could see the mixture flowing down a clear plastic tube in streams and spurts.
All looked to be going well. She began to let herself home that they'd come through this fine, and that was when a door opened and she heard a voice call down, "Mom? Dad?"

**

It was well after dark by the time they arrived at the narrow street where Hermione's parents lived. The neighborhood was one of professionals – Harry counted two lawyer's offices, a physical therapist, and a counselor before they came to the neat building with Granger Family Dentistry on a small sign outside, over a picture of a tooth and a pair of forceps.
A light was on somewhere in the back of the downstairs, and more were on in the flat above. Hermione led him to a flight of exterior stairs that ascended to a door, and they trudged up with their cauldrons seeming to weigh a ton apiece. Harry's fingers were cramped from holding Hedwig's cage by the top wire loop that had dug a groove into his flesh.
On the landing, they set down their things and Harry stretched his aching arms as Hermione found her key. She opened the door and they looked down a short entry hall with coat pegs and an occasional table holding a spray of dried flowers in a painted vase.
"Mom? Dad?" Hermione called.
No one answered. She proceeded in, Harry right behind her. The flat was small but tidy, nicely decorated. Hermione's acceptance letter into Hogwarts hung in a frame over the mantle, and some of her top-marked papers were stuck to the refrigerator with magnets, just as Aunt Petunia had used to do with Dudley's efforts at drawing pictures when he and Harry were much younger.
She saw him looking at those and made a wry face and a shrug. Setting her cauldron on a kitchen chair, she went through the flat, calling again.
"They didn't forget," Harry said, pointing out the usual end-of-term letter signed by Professor Dumbledore. It informed them of the date and time that the Hogwarts Express would arrive. A purse and a set of keys were beside it.
"The car's here, too," Hermione said, looking out one of the back windows at a narrow breezeway connecting the street with the tiny back yard. "And … what's that?"
Harry leaned over her shoulder. The light he'd noticed before, the one on downstairs, made a rectangle on the ground below a window. Shadows moved back and forth.
"Oh!" Hermione said, and laughed a little. "They're down in the office. They must have gotten a call from an emergency patient. See here?" She indicated a notepad next to the telephone, which bore the message: "Leo, emerg., 8:30."
"Who's Leo?" Harry wondered.
She shrugged again. "I'll just go down and let them know we made it, and then we can see what's around the place to eat."
Teasing her, he said, "Shame you don't have a house-elf."
Hermione glowered at him. She opened another door, which revealed an interior staircase leading down to the dental office. "Mom? Dad?"
Hedwig hooted meaningfully and flapped her wings against the bars. Harry went to her, then paused. "I don't know, Hedwig … Hermione's parents are pretty open-minded for Muggles, but they might not want an owl flying about the house."
"Harry!" screamed Hermione from downstairs.
He was moving before she had finished the second syllable of his name, snatching his wand from his pocket as he ran even though they weren't supposed to use magic outside of school. He flew down the steps like he was speeding along on his Firebolt, and burst through a shadowy waiting room, a reception area, and into a brightly-lit exam room, where he screeched to a halt with his eyes wanting to spring out of his head.
The Grangers were here, all three of them. The elder two, Hermione's mother and father, were bent over a huge, furry, feather-winged thing crammed into a dentist's chair. Their expressions were taut, their minds clearly not on their work, but their hands continued moving expertly as they did something to a mouth that boasted what looked like a million teeth.
Hermione, who had once cast a spell of paralysis on poor, well-meaning, bumbling Neville Longbottom, was finding out what it meant to be on the receiving end. She was frozen in place, arms outstretched, eyes bugging.
The creature holding her at bay was a humanoid unicorn with wings like an angel and a wicked horn covered with a sharp metal sheath. It – she – wore a rose-colored gown that stopped halfway down her legs, which ended in dainty hooves. A flowing white tail swished behind her.
She was holding a gem aloft, and peculiar kaleidoscopes of color spilled from it in a dazzling spray. Harry glanced once and then would not let himself look again, knowing instinctively that this was what held Hermione, literally, spellbound.
The winged-unicorn-woman (how he wished for Hagrid, expert on magical creatures, to tell him just what she was, though Hagrid's taste in creatures ran more toward the fierce-looking lion-thing in the chair) whipped around. Her long equine face was hard to read, but Harry knew desperation and angry confusion when he saw it.
He leveled his wand at her. "Stop your spell. Let her go."
Total astonishment filled her eyes. "You … you're a magic-user?"
"I said stop the spell!"
She only stared at him. Hermione was paralyzed, her parents were clearly under some other sort of obedience spell, maybe not the Imperius Charm but something similar, and Harry didn't dare attack for fear of unleashing some backlash effect on them.
The lion-man groaned and sat up. Half his face was drooping, and his fur was spotted with blood. The Grangers backed away, hands upraised, silently pleading with the unicorn-woman.
"Leo," she said. "Are you all right?"
He mumbled something through a mouthful of gauze and padding, nodding his shaggy-maned head.
"I just …" the unicorn-woman faltered unsurely, and looked around at them all. "I have to … the memory spell …"
Harry moved swiftly. He shoved a tray of dental instruments at her, knocking it over and sending things flying. The unicorn-woman sprang back, hooves clicking, and the gem popped out of her four-fingered grasp.
Years of training took Harry over. He darted forward and caught it, that twinkly bauble almost exactly the size of a Golden Snitch. Whirling, he flung it against the wall.
"No!" shrieked the unicorn-woman.
She was too slow. It struck, it cracked, and fell to the floor in two pieces. At once, the Grangers shook themselves to alertness, and Hermione snapped out of her paralysis.
"Stay where you are," Harry said, pointing his wand at them again.
The unicorn-woman's eyes burned like coals. She grabbed up the very tray he'd pushed at her and flung it at his head.
"Accio!" Harry shouted, and it veered off to collide noisily with the array of armatures supporting the light and the x-ray camera.
Hermione's parents ducked and cried out. Hermione ran to them, pulling out her own wand. The window shattered in a jangling cacophony, letting in a gust of cool air. They had leaped through it, the lion-man and the unicorn-woman. Harry ran to the sill, leaned out, saw them racing hand-in-hand across the small yard.
They bounded to the top of the Grangers' car, metal crumpling and the windshield coughing out in a gummy spray of safety glass. From there, they jumped to the top of the fence, and into the air with their wide wings unfolding. They dove from the fence, dipped below his sight, and then soared back into view, gliding away from the building and soon disappearing altogether.
Harry slowly turned to Hermione and her parents, all of whom had the same shocked look.
"What were those things?" he asked.
Hermione blinked, cleared her throat. "I think … I think they were gargoyles."

**

Una and Leo landed in the street in front of their shop. They weren't normally so bold, but the hour was late and the evening had been too eventful to care much for subtlety. Una unlocked the door and they went inside, locking it again behind them.
"Whu wha hah ahh ahhou?" Leo tried to say. A runnel of saliva dribbled over his chin. "Hoo ehr ohse hihs?"
"I have no idea," Una said, shaking her head until her mane rippled white over her shoulders. "What I do know is this – first thing tomorrow night, we're getting toothbrushes and floss."
"Huh?"
"I want it to be a long, long time before anyone in our clan needs another trip to the dentist," she said bitterly.
Leo laughed as well as he was able, as if she'd made a fine joke, but Una was far from amused. The Jacinth of Tryamon was broken, she hadn't been able to cloud the memories of the humans, and they'd had terrible sales with the shop closed most of the night. All in all, she was more than ready for the sun to come up, and put an end to this infuriating night.

**

The End.