See first chapter for disclaimers/warnings/summaries. Link to TBDH Forum is in my profile. This chapter was betaed by the wonderful brissygirl to provide a smoother reading experience. All remaining mistakes are my own. This chapter is dedicated to all of my re-readers, Thank You! New FAN ART has been posted in the forums by NirvanaElder, stop by and show some love. :)
RECAP:Harry and Co. have enjoyed the first half of the morning introductions and after a brief lunch break, they accompany Bahn to meet Ilsa and her father, Thomas, the Chief of the Earth Clan. Thomas warmly welcomes all of them and Bahn has a craving for spinach tarts. In the meantime, The Snapes react to finding Aiden standing in their sitting room and Terius 'ports all of them into the same guarded living quarters as Bahn, Harry and the others.
NEVARAH : SNAPE CIRCLE : GUARDED LIVING QUARTERS
The Snapes were thrown out into an empty, white-walled corridor from Terius's hastily cast portal. He caught Calida, while Severus had grabbed Draco. For a moment, all four dragels sat on the floor in various states of alarm and emotional disarray, until the reality caught up to them.
Terius heaved himself up to sit upright, braced against the wall, pulling Calida into his lap and forcing her head to his neck, so she would breathe in the calming pheromones he'd begun to release. She whined and whimpered, nuzzling his neck, frantically, hands scrabbling at the front of his robes, a pale orange glow enveloping her from head to toe, a Carrier's defense beginning to activate.
He let his head thunk back against the wall and ran a reassuring hand up and down along her spine, chirring softly in answer to her instinctive declarations of worry and unease. "Hush," Terius soothed, when her whines did not quiet. He did not want to force his protection spells over her natural defenses, a Carrier's magic was quite different compared to that of a Submissive or Pareya—and it was always specially tailored for the child they carried.
Terius struggled inwardly and then held his magic back from reaching out to her. He would comfort her however else he could, because out of all of them, he hadn't expected the rush portal to upset her that much, but he was glad his reflexes had kept them all safe. The orange glow dimmed, wavered and then fizzled out as she calmed visibly beneath his embrace. He focused on breathing in and out, working to sort what he'd just seen. The terrible, shadowy image remained burned in his mind and he could not shake it just yet. So that was what Death felt like. "We are safe. It was—I was fast enough." He wrapped his arms even more tightly around her, resting his cheek atop her head, careful to hold her gently, but firmly. His magic was forcefully thrown out from him, encompassing Severus and Draco was well, radiating a fierce protection and sealing off the corridor from both ends.
"You have exactly ten seconds to explain yourself, before I-" Severus began, shifting Draco on his lap, mirroring Terius's position with Calida. He looked absolutely furious and considering the rough few hours from their previous argument, he wasn't any calmer now than then.
"We left Hermione," Draco said, softly. His voice was steady and his silver eyes were bright, a sign that his mind was busily working through what had just happened. "Severus, we left her. We have to return-" he grimaced. They had promised Harry that they would look after his friend, whether he honestly cared about Granger or not was irrelevant, because Harry was a fellow Submissive and promises between dragel Submissives were not to be taken lightly.
Terius shuddered, violently, his grip tightening on Calida who released his robes in favor of locking her arms around his neck. "No one will be returning there. Not now. Perhaps not ever." Terius took a careful breath, holding up a finger before Draco could plead his case. "Your—friend-" Terius swallowed. "Is either dead or about to be. I will not risk you or our child."
Severus's pale face grew even whiter at that declaration and he half-lurched to his feet, against Draco's protests. "Exactly what do you-"
"We will find my mother as soon as I trust my own feet," Terius said, with more calm than he felt. "And from there, we will see about acquiring a new residence. The residual magic could be harmful to our child, considering that we all share the same element and there is absolutely no possibility for a strain of shadow magic to manifest."
"Terius," Draco let Severus stand and then hugged him tightly around the waist, seeking his comfort that way. "I do not understand. What just happened? What's wrong with Granger?"
"There was a Hellhound in our sitting room," Terius said. "An actively hunting hound. I did not think it was safe to remain under the same roof." He eyed Severus's standing form and shifted at once to be on his own feet, pulling Calida up with him. He would not allow his Alpha to look down on him, not after this had happened. He'd reacted, yes, and perhaps more on instinct than logic, but it had paid off and they were all safe. He'd done his duty—and he'd done it as he was, without a second thought for himself, their safety being his sole priority. He'd been prepared, if the portal hadn't worked.
"Safe?" Severus growled. His temper simmered faintly, but he forced himself to calm down as he took in Terius's defensive, slightly hunched posture and the defiant look in his eyes. The Pareya clearly expected to be taken to task for his quick action, but at the same time remained entirely unrepentant for it. Something about the defensive stance tugged sharply on his miniscule conscience, reminding him that this was a Pareya—their Pareya—and he had reacted just as a Pareya would have. He made himself focus on the next order of business, mentally reminding himself to save their private conversation for when they were both rested and in better tempers. "How exactly is leaving Miss Granger behind, safe?"
Calida took a shuddering breath and tugged on Terius's neck. He rumbled softly and then nudged her head to the side, nosing along her neck, to find the temporary claim mark that denoted her as their chosen Carrier. He licked once, then bit down with care, holding the intent to calm her restlessness. She twitched in his arms, then relaxed, almost boneless in his grasp.
"Good girl," Terius crooned, swooping her up in his arms so she would be more comfortable. She immediately pillowed her head on his shoulder and used her own magic to alter her weight so he would not have a difficult time of carrying her. "It's alright. Everything will be fine."
"It will be, after you explain yourself," Severus said, sternly.
Terius sighed, head lowered faintly in deference to Severus's displeased glower. "Leaving Miss Granger behind is safe because the young woman bears a hellhound's crest. There is nothing I would not do for either of you," he said, steadily. "And if my death would ensure your continued safety, be assured that I would not hesitate. However, I am not keen to rush to an early grave and I am neither brave nor foolish enough to stand between one of Death's emissaries and that which they claim as theirs."
Draco stiffened, pulling away faintly from Severus's grasp. He ignored Severus's strangled little response and instead, looked to Terius, brows furrowed deeply. "What do you mean, a hellhound?" He remembered the conversation they'd had when Harry had been there, the talk of Merrows and Hellhounds, as well as Calida's dreamy-eyed explanations. It made his skin crawl, the thought of a Hellhound walking about, freely, in their living quarters.
"I mean a being cloaked in death and shadow magic, with blood-red eyes and fangs." Terius did not spare them. "I mean an emissary of Death, one of her own pets. Death has reapers and hounds that torment and gather her souls, be them willing or not and where they run, Death follows."
"…not a vampire?" Severus had to check. His anger fled just as quickly as it had come, his logical mind taking over. He had partially agreed with their diagnostic of Hermione Granger, especially after seeing the pictures of the seals and the imprint on the young witch's stomach. The potions she'd had in her had meant certain death and yet, somehow, she'd lived.
Terius snorted. "Believe me, if I could not tell a Vampire from a Hellhound after all that we've been through, I would be an absolutely useless Pareya."
"Idiotic, perhaps, not useless," Severus muttered. He could definitely think of several instances where Terius had been more than useful—as well as idiotic. They would definitely have to speak in private again. He cast a glance up and down both ends of the corridor, hating the fact that he could not recognize anything and as a result, did not know where he was. But he was also used to being thrown into such situations and now that the initial threat was mostly handled, he would focus on the present. One of them had to, anyway. "Where exactly did you bring us and how interested is your mother in meeting us?"
"The armored living quarters for all Clan chiefs and Royals during the hunt," Terius said. He blinked, and a faint touch of pink decorated his cheeks. "My mother will likely despise you on principle and welcome you once she realizes why we have Calida. She was very partial to Calida."
"Oh?" Severus kept one arm around Draco's shoulders and drew him close, feeling a faint twinge in the back of his mind and being unable to classify what it meant.
Draco flinched and then turned to half-shove him into the wall. "Terius-!"
The words were cut off when Terius stumbled, but regained his footing and the building seemed to quiver beneath their feet, a powerful magical shockwave rippling through the corridor and shattering Terius's hastily cast defenses.
"Draco!" Severus cast a diagnostic spell over him and then one at Terius and Calida, when the Pareya lurched forward to stand on their side of the corridor. "What was that? Focus, man!"
"That," Terius licked his lips, looking sufficiently shaken anew. "That was one of the protections guarding our realm." He adjusted his grip on Calida and suppressed a shudder. "Something just broke."
The sound of shouts and running feet, drew their attention, four armed Gheyos appeared around the right corner, weapons drawn. The lead Gheyo bared their fangs with an audible hiss that carried across to the other end of the hallway.
Terius immediately shoved Calida into Severus's arms and took up a protective stance before the trio, calling out his wings with a deliberate flair. "Stand down! We mean no harm. I am Councilman Terius Snape, formerly, Terius Baronsworth. I am here to see my mother about a private matter of some urgency, Lady Baronsworth should be expecting me." His fingers twitched, hidden from the Gheyo's view, an emergency message sent to his mother. He hoped she would answer in time.
NEVARAH : GUARDED LIVING QUARTERS : Harry & Co. and the Deveraines
"I may not be able to help you directly this afternoon," Thomas began, once they were all seated and furnished with the appropriate refreshments. "But I can definitely see you straight to the right person and with luck, we will have this spell off before night falls." He was seated beside Ilsa who had finally given up on fighting the instinctive pull that required her to be near her Sire after such a long separation. She shared his plate of sweet biscuits and sat close enough for their arms to touch.
Bahn was happily munching away on his spinach tarts—apparently they were his current craving—and Harry had discovered that strong honey ginger tea was something he could come to enjoy on a regular basis. Takar sat on Bahn's other side and Narah had joined Ilsa and her father on the settee. Harry, Theo and Charlie took up a settee all on their own and now they looked to Thomas to hear his side of things.
"It is definitely a Merrow spell," Thomas said. "Ilsa swears uphill and downhill that it is and I could sense the presence of Merrow on Harry, which means we'll need a Merrow to remove it and since none of them aren't likely to talk to us, I will have to speak to Prince Raspen who should know someone who can settle this for us." He frowned. "You are hunting this season, are you not? Today is not the best of first days then, is it?" He frowned. "You shouldn't pursue anything while under a spell's influence, especially Merrow spellwork as we can't be sure what it can do and how it can manipulate you." He paused, teacup halfway to his mouth. "And make no mistake, Merrow spells are meant to manipulate you. It's simply the nature of their magic. If you wouldn't care to tell me exactly what happened?"
And so Harry did.
By the time Harry had finished his story, Thomas had grown pensive and Bahn had stopped nibbling on the refreshments. Both Submissives in turn seemed to be somewhat disturbed, but unable to discern why.
"And you said you couldn't point him out?" Thomas asked. "Not at all, not even really look at him?"
"I could look at sekrl." Harry rolled his eyes at the garbled speech that came through his mouth without any warning. Now it was starting to wear on his nerves. "I could look. I just couldn't look directly all the time, but off to the side and I certainly couldn't point either."
"It sounds like a protective spell," Bahn said, at last. He had straightened up and was now cuddled on Delani's lap, his feet resting on Takar's lap. "Protective, you know," he added, when none of the others seemed to follow. "The spell is centered around keeping us from knowing this Merrow's identity, yes?"
A dawning look of realization settled over the occupants present and Thomas gave a slow nod. "So it would seem."
"Which would make the spell more defensive than offensive and defensive spells are usually for one of three reasons, to protect someone, something or yourself. I would wager this Merrow is protecting himself for whatever reason." He frowned. "I can't really see why he'd have to go to such lengths, but if I knew what Merrow thought, then perhaps I would have convinced one to join me." There was a wistful look on his face, before it straightened out to be a rather serious expression. "Can you help us with this? Is there something you can do? Because if not, you do understand that Harry is Hunting this season and it would be best for him to have that off before realistically pursuing any interested parties."
Thomas smiled. "I'm sure we can work something out," he said. "In fact, usually the Royals ask us Chiefs over for some sort of tea or dinner-affair. Nothing terribly formal, just a general gathering so we are all somewhat on the same page." His lips twitched, faintly. "Our resident Merrow is not always present, but sometimes an advisor or trusted guard is left with us and they keep the Merrow Royal up to date on necessary affairs." He frowned. "Can you describe this Merrow at all? Or does the spell prevent you from answering?"
"The spell keeps him from doing anything remotely connected to the Merrow, save for saying that he didn't see one at all." Charlie explained. "Theo and I tried this morning and there was very little we could gather from what Harry could share with us. He couldn't even sketch something—by hand"
Thomas frowned. "I see. This could be somewhat troublesome, but I understand that—what is it Mason?" He looked to the doorway at the left corner of the far wall. A sliver of a shadow could be seen on the doorjamb—a Gheyo keeping watch just out of public view. "If it's one of ours, send them in, perhaps they can help. I can't approach Prince Raspen with so little to work with. He wouldn't know what to do with it either and the rest of the Earth Royals haven't arrived yet." The growing sound of three voices brought a smile to Thomas's face as he recognized one speaker, who now spoke above her companions.
"Whatever it is, I don't want to hear it, Patrick." Surajini's voice filtered through the doorway and a few minutes later, the soft chime and tinkle of bangles and golden metal accents, announced her entry into the sitting room. She was a vision of beauty at once, in a room mostly full of men and lady Gheyos. Pale skin and pitch-black hair, she was dressed in a brightly colored lehenga, a cropped blouse of rich dark blue and gold, with a full skirt that swished at her ankles and a matching dupatta pinned to the fat knot of hair at the nape of her neck, framing her face. Vivid green eyes immediately took stock of the room and then her eyes landed on Thomas. "Thomas," she pronounced the name with ceremony, eyes narrowing. "I want a word with Alonso, if you would be so kind?"
For a moment, Thomas returned her stare, brow furrowed—lips pursed as if he'd been about to welcome her—then he turned and called over his shoulder. "Alsono? Lady Kalzik would like a word with you, if you could spare the time?"
There was the sound of shuffling feet, the clink of armor and then the Gheyo in question appeared around the second hidden doorway in the sitting room. Mason stood directly in view of the room now, one hand resting on a sword hilt, as he took in the room's occupants and checked the doorways.
Harry bit back the chuckle that wanted to escape. He had wondered what kind of security was in place around the house, but now he was beginning to see just what Theo had meant when he said that the Earth element was subtle. He would wager there were at least three more hidden panels or doors, at least one at each corner of the room in addition to the main entrance that they'd passed through. It would certainly make sense and it would explain why Thomas, a high-ranking Submissive, could be so at ease in a social setting with strangers that he barely knew.
Well, not quite strangers, Harry amended to himself. Ilsa thought of Theo as family and now, that apparently included him and Charlie as well. Keeping his thoughts neatly ordered, Harry tucked them away and turned to study the new specimen of Gheyo that had appeared at Thomas's request.
Alonso was tall and lean, with barely muscled arms, soft brown eyes and light brown curly hair playing about the corners of his face. There was something deceptively light about him and if it weren't for the flecks of gold in said brown eyes, Harry wouldn't have thought he was an Earth element at all. Clad in flexible leather armor with only his weapons belt in metal and black, Harry found himself staring at a slender-bladed sheath that could only hold the blade for the ridiculously ornamental hilt that dangled from the right of Alonso's belt.
The light and easy tread suggested that this Gheyo had an easy temperament and a very quick hand. Alonso nodded gamely to Thomas and turned a friendly smile to Surajini, who was scowling darkly, arms folded over her chest. "How may I be of assistance, dear lady?"
"Spare me your platitudes. A moment, if you would?" She said, brusquely. She moved from the center of the room, gesturing towards a corner out of everyone's way, but still within Thomas's view, the barest of courtesies.
Harry watched them step aside, their footsteps perfectly coordinated. His lips pursed in thought as he recalled the address. Lady Kalzik. Kalzik. Quinn Kalzik. Perhaps they were related? He shifted forward, slightly, wondering whether he should ask and how he ought to ask. The familiar feeling of additional magic had him turning in time to see two gentlemen entering through the door that Mason held open.
One of them was a head shorter than the other, with olive skin and straight hair the same pitch-black shade as Lady Kalzik. He was wearing a traditional Indian outfit, much as Quinn and Kyle had earlier, with a royal blue and purple dupatta artfully arranged around his neck. It was draped in just the right way to show off two perfect mating marks, one on each side of his neck, visible to anyone who was looking for them—and even more disappearing out of sight due to the Sherwani's neckline.
Alpha. The thought leapt into his head. Which meant that the other gentlemen had to be the—and Harry's thoughts promptly short-circuited themselves as he caught sight of the other dragel. He felt Charlie start faintly beside him and knew they were all seeing the same thing.
Whereas Lord Kalzik was dark and compact in stature, the Beta was tall, willowy, pale and blond in every other way. His hair was gathered in a thick, full ponytail that fell just to his waist, held together with a hair clasp that matched the fancy necklace around Lady Kalzik's neck and the fat earrings worn by their Alpha.
The most surprising detail about him, however, was the striking resemblance to a certain mute Healer.
"Quinn-!" The name slipped out from Harry's mouth before he could stop himself and he froze when bright blue-green eyes suddenly zeroed in on him. The face was too familiar and the magic, soft and gentle, stretched out to him in a way Harry distinctly remembered from Quinn.
The eyes remained, even as the Beta turned—he only bore two single marks on his neck—and addressed Thomas. "Health and longevity to you and yours, Chief Gorgens. That was an impressive display this morning. You honor our shared element quite well."
"The same to you as well, Patrick." Thomas rose from his seat on the couch to exchange greetings with both dragels. "That was a very well-executed turnout this morning, Hiram. Surajini must have been up all night coordinating that."
"Please don't remind me," Patrick said, with a chuckle. "Some of us had to be up all night with her."
Hiram mirrored the easy laugh. "I'm glad it looked that way. I heard about every single detail that wasn't quite right." But there was more fondness than annoyance in his tone as he snuck another glance over his shoulder at his Submissive, who was off in the corner. "She's been on edge since this morning and I can't figure out why. She won't say a word—well," he stopped, brow furrowed and exchanged a glance with Patrick. "You don't think that…?"
Patrick stared at him for a moment, then frowned in turn. Both dragels looked over to where Surajini was speaking heatedly with Alonso, gesturing in the air, her expression downright furious. There was a thin layer of visible mist hanging over them, a privacy spell with a courtesy spell layered over it, so the room's occupants would understand that the conversation was of some importance and not to interrupt to attempt to eavesdrop. "I'd like to think that she would say something if there was anything wrong, but we just received the message. I don't think—you don't?"
Hiram gave a slow nod of acceptance. "I suppose you may be right. Pardon our intrusion in your-"
"It's perfectly alright, in fact, you might be able to help." Thomas waved them towards empty seats. "Please, do sit down. We were just about to start. Care for some tea?"
"If you wouldn't mind," Hiram sat down on the right side of the settee and Patrick to the left. "How can I help? Or do you need Surajini?"
"It's a bit of a long story, I take it you have the time?"
"Time of sorts. Jini wanted to see if Orseno had dropped in yet." Patrick's brow furrowed as he tipped his head lightly in Surajini's direction. "We've been playing the perfect host and hostess all morning, the usual schemes. Famous Circles and pairs to be nice to, faces and friends we haven't seen since the last Hunt. I think I shall have to suffer through a dinner or three for tonight alone. My stomach is already churning."
Hiram turned his laugh into a cough. "Your stomach? I'm sure we have a potion for that."
Patrick gave him a look.
Thomas chuckled. "That sounds like my tomorrow. I make it a rule to never try to manage my social obligations on the first day. It's simply too much and after the hassle of seeing everyone up, fed and dressed—it's all I can do to present them and maintain my sanity. Asking for politeness and coherence among the upper ranks is suicide on a day like that." He took a sip from his cup. "As for Orseno, I don't believe I've seen him yet—not even in passing. They skipped the intros, didn't they?" He chuckled. "Of course they did, that's why she's here, isn't it?" He shook his head. "You would think that he would learn, but the last I heard, his Alpha had him on a delightfully short leash."
"Somehow I doubt that helped." Patrick slid his biscuits over to Hiram's plate. "Did it?"
"It did absolutely nothing for either of them and he's still all fired up. Something tells me we'll have a few scandals before the week is out. He hasn't been by, though if he does stop in, I'll be roping him into this issue as well. If either one of you can help, Ilsa and I will be forever grateful. It is on behalf of this charming Submissive you see sitting over there-" Thomas raised his cup to Harry. "Harry Gorgens-Nott."
"Issue?" Patrick settled himself, a furrow nesting in his brow. "You rarely ever involve yourself with matters outside of state. Whatever is the matter?" He now turned his penetrating gaze to rest on Harry, this time, scrutinizing him in detail.
"In due time," Thomas said, calmly. "I would rather not repeat myself and it doesn't look like your lady will be taking a breath any time soon." He cast a glance over to Alonso and Surajini. "Then again, I trust you can keep her updated. This particular issue is personal. Our company today is courtesy of my dear Ilsa on behalf of her mentored student. The charming young gentleman who shares our element is her Theodore. The tall fellow is the Beta, Charlie and I'll leave you to guess on his element. Between them is Harry."
Patrick and Hiram exchanged a glance, then mirrored each other with the perfect tilt of their head in acceptable greeting.
Thomas smiled encouragingly at the silent trio and Theo shifted to the forward of their shared seat, preparing to speak for them. To his surprise, Thomas gave the faintest shake of his head and directed his next dialogue to Harry, his golden gaze softening as he took in Harry's curious expression and faint mask of worry. "Harry, I would like you to meet my dear friends from the Kalzik Healer clan and the head of the Kalzik family Circles. The Alpha, Hiram Kalzik, his Beta, Patrick and their wife and Submissive, Surajini, who is currently manipulating my Ace, Alonso."
"You gave her permission," Hiram said. "I told you she would take you up on it."
"I am honored that she has," Thomas said, quickly. "I am more worried for why."
Patrick offered a tight smile. "That would make two of us." He looked to Hiram.
The Kalzik Alpha was smiling at Theo. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I apologize for interrupting your evening. This was not a planned visit, but if it requires a healer's expertise, we are more than qualified to help. What seems to the problem?"
"A Merrow spell," Thomas said, matter-of-factly.
Patrick's head snapped around to stare at Harry and for one moment, those almost-teal eyes seemed to be an impossible shade of blue, before he looked away and leaned forward to murmur something in Hiram's ear. His Alpha shook his head and Patrick frowned, glancing up at Harry and the others, before repeating his whispered question.
Harry couldn't make it out at all, but he tried to call up a friendly smile.
"Would you mind if I tested it to be sure it was Merrow?" Hiram asked. He looked from Theo to Harry and then at Charlie. Patrick sat tall beside him, a slight furrow in his brow. "Only with your express permission, of course."
Harry gave a quick nod. He scooted forward to the edge of the settee when Patrick rose to stand in front of him. He held his head high and waited.
"Relax," Patrick said, softly. He made a fist with his left hand and held it out. "Touch the palm of your dominant hand here and think back to the spell, who cast it—if you know—and when it happened." He flinched when Harry's hand rested atop his own. "Wait—you're magic sensitive?"
Harry nodded. "I had a-"
"You're the Silverwing." Hiram interrupted. "Patrick, it's him."
"My guess was right then," Patrick said, smoothly. "Sorry about that, but you looked so familiar and I am thinking—never mind what I am thinking—just hold your hand steady. I'll use a different spell."
Harry opened his mouth to say that he was, when he realized that his hand was trembling ever so faintly. He sucked in a slow breath and carefully focused on stilling the tremors in his hand. With some effort, it stilled. "That's never happened before." He said.
"Magic sensitivity often has several different after effects, depending on the individual. There is nothing strange, unusual or weird about it." Patrick placed his free hand atop Harry's. "Approximately eight percent of rare and high-magic dragels suffer from magic sensitivity. It's simply when the physical body cannot hold the amount of magical power belonging to that single entity. It is a good thing you are dragel—I wager you would have had a terrible time growing up otherwise."
"Which actually brings me to another matter," Thomas said. He set his cup down on the low table to the side of the seating charts spread out over the top. "Ilsa told me that he was wizard-born and raised, with no mention—hide nor hair—of his mentor. I don't suppose either of you have heard anything of a missing person with that sort of assignment?"
"Off hand, no." Hiram said, after a moment. "You know the council is rather strict about that sort of thing. Usually those who fail to present are hunted—you know this."
"I do." Thomas acknowledged. "I also know that when they are caught, they usually end up in a Healer's care for very specific reasons. I was hoping you might have…?"
"Eh, but he's a Nameless, isn't he?" Patrick asked. "Breathe through your nose, Harry, not your mouth. Think back on the moment the spell was cast and if you can't recall it, then think of the moment where you realized you were spelled." He frowned. "I haven't heard anything either and they do tend to call me when there is a situation of that sort."
"Which was why I'm asking." Thomas sighed. "If that's not the case, then what other alternatives are there?"
Hiram began to silently tick things off on his fingers. He frowned. "The ones that are left, I do not like." He rose from the settee and came over to see how Patrick fared. "Have you done anything about it?"
"I filed it at the Council Hall and I have mentioned it to anyone that will give me an ear." Ilsa said, speaking up. "I have tried a few simple tracers of my own, but I do not have the necessary authority to hunt them."
"And you won't be receiving that, anytime soon." Bahn scolded. He poked her in the side and she half-bared her teeth in answer. "I have asked for some footwork on behalf of the Elves, but they are only seeking information for the time being and they have not arrived in Nevarah as yet. They will be here within the next few days, I believe."
"Nothing at all?" Thomas asked. "That is…unusual."
"Which worries me." Bahn said. "Harry said he also told ah, Councilman Terius, I believe."
"Councilman Terius?" Thomas repeated. "As in Terius Baronsworth?"
"He's Bonded now," Ilsa said, helpfully. "Terius Snape. Has a nice, dark broody Alpha and everything. They are beautifully mismatched."
"Terius?" Thomas repeated, surprised. "Well, I suppose I ought to congratulate him the next time I see him." He smiled. "It's about time. He stopped hunting since the last Hunt. I'm very happy for him." He paused. "And he hadn't heard anything about a missing mentor?"
"Why exactly is this so complicated?" Charlie asked. He'd been listening to the conversations for some time and now he spoke up, his concern clearly written on his face.
"It's actually rather simple, love." Delani nudged Bahn off of her lap and into Takar's. She rose from the settee to come closer and see what was happening with Patrick and Harry. "You saw the amount of magic displayed by the Royals, yes?"
Charlie nodded. It had been rather impressive.
"That's only a fraction of their power. They do possess an unbelievable amount of raw power, but also they have experience and practice on their side of things. They do not have to be all-powerful, but they should be capable of making important decisions that affect their entire following. You can only imagine what kind of chaos there would be if that sort of power ran unchecked with no training, restraint or proper regulations."
Theo gave a slow nod. "I do—and coming into it isn't a pretty thing either. There's no ribbons and heavenly choirs, just a lot of pain and confusion." Ilsa made a soft, clicking sound, clearly meant to be soothing and directed to Theo. His lips quirked into his usual almost-smile and the rest of the dragels smiled outright.
"A mentor helps with that transition," Delani continued. "They provide the stability and the acceptance that is crucial during those formative years. They teach you to trust your instincts, to exercise and grow your magic and abilities. They teach you the necessary etiquette, the formal laws, courting and hunting, but most of all, they are there for you." A sad smile touched her face. She watched Patrick murmur something to Harry.
Harry readjusted his hand based on the instruction. Patrick nodded.
"When your family Circle doesn't provide the support you need or it feels like your world is caving in on you with all the responsibilities and drama, your mentor is there. They are not perfect, but they are present and that makes an unbelievable difference. I am quite indebted to mine." Delani threw a smile over her shoulder at Bahn, who was tracking every move she made with a watchful eye. "They are also old enough to have significant experience behind them—you cannot offer a mentorship unless you have met certain requirements—so if they do not show up to claim their mentored student, then you have to know that something is terribly wrong somewhere. They come from a Bonded Circle, which is how they can teach of Bonded dynamics and they are either Pareyas or Submissives, meaning they have full support that can be called to their aid at any given time and significant power at their disposal to defend themselves."
"Then why is it taking so long to find out what happened to Harry's?" Theo demanded. "And I honestly do not wish to hear some ridiculous excuse as to the Hunt being-"
"I will see that it is taken care of," Thomas said. "You have my word."
Delani tipped her head in his direction, her words directed at Theo. "You are speaking to one of the people who can actually do as he says, take his word for it—and if Ilsa has been working on it as well, then there will be some results to show soon."
"The real reason," Ilsa began. "Depends on Border conditions, you saw what it took to 'port here, yes?"
Theo gave a brisk nod.
"You also recall the situation that drew me here when we were preparing to leave? The announcement about the Fabrine? There are occasional spikes depending on where they gather and why. The why is what requires extra assistance and that was why I was not able to join you. It is not a little matter. This is significant. Our effects are more focused on external matters than internal concerns at the moment. The fact that it is happening during hunting season means there are larger gaps to cover and certain priorities will be reshuffled. Finding Harry's mentor is extremely important—but so is keeping Nevarah safe, while Harry is inside of it."
Bahn sat up at once, knocking his head into Takar's chin. He shushed his Beta's muffled protest and patted the injured spot, absently with gentle fingers. "What situation? You never said anything about a situation. Ilsa! Tell me it wasn't that woman."
Ilsa sighed. "Her name is Mauriel and I was her last resort. You know that. She called me while I was…out. In responding, I ended up here." Her cheeks flushed a faint pink.
Bahn's pale eyes narrowed faintly and he stopped patting Takar's face. "Define last resort." He said, dangerously. "And do think very carefully, my dearest, before you answer."
"I'm sure she can explain herself later," Nara rose from her own seat and flashed a smile with a hint of warning in it. "I am sure no one else really cares to know, Bahn." She nodded towards Patrick. "How goes it?"
"I'll know in a minute." Patrick closed his eyes and hummed. The sound in his throat was very soft and gentle, but as he did so, a pale blue light began to glow around his hand and fist. An audible spark crackled between them and Harry squeaked in surprise, instinctively jerking his hand back—or rather, trying to.
"Don't!" Hiram sprang forward, pushing Patrick's hands away as Harry's own came free. A spark of golden energy leapt between them and then Hiram was wiping his hands on the front of his sherwani with a face. "You're lucky Jini didn't see that, she'd skin you alive. I thought you said you had your levels straight."
"I do." Patrick stared down at his own hands in puzzlement. "Thank you. I just—that's never-" he stared at Harry, then turned to Hiram who was now inspecting his hands. "My hands are fine, his own-"
"The last time you had a reaction like that-"
"Jini almost killed me, I know." Patrick gently tugged them free from his Alpha's grasp and his sharp gaze zeroed in on Harry. "You've just had a Blood Seal removed, correct?"
Harry paled. "I did." He said, quietly. "Is there something wrong with it?"
"Not now, seeing as it's off." Hiram answered. He looked at Harry's hands, frowning. "But you do not exactly acquire a Blood Seal within—Thomas, how old is he?"
"You could ask him yourself," Thomas said, mildly. "Whatever is the matter?"
"Jini?" Hiram turned faintly, calling over his shoulder. "Surajini!" A vaguely mystified look registered on his face. "I would apologize in advance," his lips twitched. "But she's honestly better at Seals than we are. It's her specialty. I tend to focus more on rehabilitation and Patrick's specialty is-"
"Not mentioned in polite company." Patrick interrupted. He gave Hiram a look that said more in a single raised eyebrow. "You do know she will smother him?"
"I'm counting on it."
Hiram's words did not make sense until Surajini and Alonso had finished their business and she came over to see what was happening with everyone else. The moment Thomas had brought her up to date with everything that had happened, she reacted in very much the same method as Thomas had.
"You dear child." Surajini breathed. She took three steps forward and hugged Harry to her, resting her chin atop his head. Magic flowed liberally out from her, a beautiful, pale golden color that wrapped around them both from head to toe. It fizzled angrily in a few spots, but she ignored them, a look of concern on her face.
When she did release him, she kept ahold of his hands and turned back to Hiram and Patrick, speaking in rapid-fire Hindi with a flick of her eyes towards Thomas. Both of her Bonded listened then shook their heads in alternating moments. Surajini scowled. She pulled Harry to her side, keeping an arm draped around him, turning her half-glare to Thomas.
He held up his hands at once. "I would be the last one to stand in front of you, Lady Kalzik."
Her golden-green eyes narrowed, faintly. "I told you not to call me that, you-"
The scent of blood wafted through the air and effectively cut off whatever she was about to say. "Scent charms," Patrick managed to sound out, before magic flickered through the room and several sparks of magic leapt to obey.
Light footsteps announced the return of Alonso and both Patrick and Hiram grew rather still. Surajini's lips merely tightened into a line as she watched the Gheyo step into the room, stop a respectable distance away and tip his head in acknowledgement. He was wearing the same outfit he'd had on earlier, with the exception that there was now a faint trickle of blood from his left temple—from a neat slice just above his eyebrow—and various other red smudges along his upper torso. She returned the nod and watched him until he was out of the room.
There was a flicker of magic from Bahn's corner and then a powerful wind blew through the room, airing it out. When the scent charms fizzled out, there was a burst of chatter.
"Surajini!" Patrick exclaimed.
"Surajini!" Hiram echoed.
She drew herself up, shoulders squared. "Neither of you were doing anything about it," her voice was deceptively light. "I thank you, Thomas, for the use of your Gheyo. He has never failed me."
Thomas swallowed, a vaguely unsettled expression flickering over his face. "Anytime." He said. "Was—is everything alright?"
"It is now." Surajini gently squeezed Harry's shoulders and released him. "And seeing as I have something new to occupy me, I shall be quite fine."
"Surajini," Hiram began. There was a definite scowl on his face. "I sincerely hope that-"
"I shouldn't have favorites," Surajini said, lightly. She turned her smile toward him. "And Arielle help me, I swear that I don't, but Dyshoka is not some cheap whore for sale. Lord Belden should have kept his despicable desires to himself." Her eyes flashed pure gold. "How dare he lay a hand on my daughter." There was a low growl deep in her throat. "How dare he!"
"So you asked a blood price?" Patrick shot back. "On the first day of the Hunt? Surajini-"
"I asked Alonso, with Thomas's permission." She scowled. "I have no regrets. I could not have asked one of our own and you know this."
"I know that we are Healers!" Hiram retorted. "There are some things we must not do."
"And yet, there some that we must." Surajini held her head up high. "Scold me for it later if you must and if I am in more trouble than that, I will accept whatever you believe my transgressions worthy of. However, for the time being, I believe we should pay a visit to the other Clan Chiefs, as Thomas appears to be useless in this particular brand of spellwork. Perhaps a Royal is on the premises and we can see about helping Harry." She smiled, thinly. "Helping Harry should be our top priority at the moment, as Healers, shouldn't it?"
Hiram made a sound in his throat. "We'll help." He said, stiffly. "And we will speak of this to-"
"Leave it." Patrick said, quietly. His blue-eyed gaze lowered to the floor and his clenched hands slowly uncurled.
Hiram turned on him. "Leave it?"
"As if you didn't want to gut the bastard yourself." Patrick's smile was pure ice. "I hope you asked him for all that he was willing to give."
Surajini's own smile was rather frightening with the hint of fang and the very tangible aura of power in the air. "I asked Alonso. I think that is an explanation in itself."
Thomas shuddered. "It is. I am very glad we are friends, Jini."
"Speaking of which," Surajini sharp-eyes flickered to Ilsa and drilled directly into her. "It seems our Dyshoka has something for your daughter. Something I was entirely unaware of, until this morning."
By the time everything was sorted out—Harry was able to piece together some of the details. He was surprised that the Kalziks and the Deveraines had never met, but then he took into consideration the differences between Earth and Air elements and wondered how exactly he would balance that if he were to court a dragel of a different element. As a Nameless element, he didn't have to wonder about elemental attraction—though it would definitely come into play at times, seeing as he tended to lean towards Theo's earthen touch rather than Charlie's fiery warmth.
Once the little initial shock had filtered out, Ilsa had proven herself to be quite a capable lady—and elemental heiress—when she'd risen to her feet and offered something of a bow. "I count my Dahlia as a gift and we are honored that your daughter would consider her as a worthy Intended."
Surajini snorted. "I would say they are more than Intended."
Ilsa's lips curved into a fierce smile. "True. I was the witness for their marking ceremony."
All three Kalziks started visibly.
"Marking ceremony?" Patrick found his voice first. It was rather faint.
"Bahn, dearest, I wouldn't ask, except for, well, I am asking." Ilsa held out a hand.
Bahn moved to join her and he paused, looking between Ilsa to Surajini, before his eyes fluxed silver. "She is happy?" He asked.
Ilsa's smile softened. "Happier than you can know." Greta made a noise in her throat. Ilsa gave a faint shake of her head. "She's old enough—older than the others and it's her choice."
There was a slow nod from Bahn and he turned to face Surajini, affecting the same pose that Harry had shown Thomas earlier. "On behalf of my Gheyo, with the interest in our joined families, the House of Deveraine, has no quarrel with yours."
Pure shock registered on Surajini's face, eyebrows arched upwards, jaw dropping. After a moment, she mirrored the bow and a tiny smile played at the corners of her mouth. "On my daughter's behalf, with the apparent joining of our families, the Kalzik Clan and my Circle, has no quarrel with yours."
They shook hands and hugged.
Relief showed on Patrick and Hiram's faces, with the rest of the Deveraines finally relaxing, with the final threads of tension out the air.
"Wonderful," Theo drawled. "Can we focus on Harry now?"
"Lord and Lady Imaldis are on their way up," Thomas's Gheyo, Mason, informed him. "Shall I ask them in?"
"Please do, at least on our behalf, if not his." Delani said. She cast a glance back at Ilsa. "Step out, if you would?"
Ilsa grunted. Greta rolled her eyes and pulled her out of the room.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked. He dutifully turned in a circle as directed by Surajini who was now trying her hand at removing the Merrow spell as Patrick and Hiram's efforts had been fruitless. "Why can't she be here?"
"She's an Earth element and the Imaldis Circle has always had issues with that." Bahn explained. "They have never liked the fact that Shayla has come over to play with Soula." He smirked. "It annoys them that she is not an Air element, but the girls have been friends for years. Our Circle is also officially registered as Air and our social ranking makes it impossible for them to ignore us, so while they might make excuses to Thomas, they won't to us." He sniffed. "What are you doing now?"
"Diagnostics." Surajini said, in a clipped tone, focused solely on Harry. "Please do not stand so close to him. You will skew the readings. Breathe in love—and hold it."
Harry did as directed, squinting upwards as she waved her wand over his head, chanting softly in Hindi. Patrick was examining the readings from her wand that were inscribing themselves on a floating piece of parchment. Hiram was mentally sifting through the shared medical database that all Healers had access to, searching for some sort of information on Merrow spells and their successful removal.
"I do not understand how one so young can have so many seals," Patrick muttered. "If I would have my hands 'round their neck, believe me, I would renounce my Healer's Oaths."
Hiram winced. "Can you take any of them off?"
"At the moment, no, not without upsetting the poor thing." Surajini hummed. She rapped Harry smartly over the head, twice, with her wand. "You can breathe now. What did that one say?"
Patrick leaned over to show her the scrap of parchment. "It's not exactly what I was hoping for, but look at this. Maybe we can do something with this part here?" The three Healers put their heads together, conferring quietly for a moment.
Harry swung his arms out, carefully working at the stiffness that had come from the wealth of spells cast over him.
"How are you holding up, Harry?" Charlie asked. He moved over to hug Harry from behind, pushing his element over into him, just the way that Surajini had told him would help with the stiffness. "Is it helping anything?"
"I can't tell yet." Harry tilted his face to the side for the kiss to his cheek that came from Theo's side. "I'm fine, Theo. Sorry it's such a hassle."
Charlie thumped him on the head. "You're not a hassle—and does it look like they mind helping?" He motioned towards the Kalziks who were now drawing shapes in the air with their wands, leaving faintly colored lines behind, a complicated medallion of sorts.
"Not really, I guess." Harry bit his lip. "But I'm sure they weren't planning on spending their first day of the Hunt trying to figure out how-ow!" Harry looked down at Bahn on his other side. "What was that for?"
"Being depressed." The elfin Submissive said, cheerfully. "Besides, they are Healers. They're on call twenty-four-seven. Whenever there's a public announcement asking for help, they are the first responders. If they are physically unable to help, then they send whatever magic they can through the same channels that Hiram is using to check that database." He smiled at Harry. The smile wavered and then he trilled a faint note of distress in time for Takar to snatch him up, turning his back to the far wall in an instinctive move to shield him.
Harry choked, gasping when he felt the impact before it actually registered for everyone else.
A powerful magical shockwave rippled through the room, drawing flinches, screeches of displeasure and the occasional hiss. Something had just happened somewhere nearby.
Mason had burst into the room at Thomas's screech and now, he held his Submissive tightly, forcefully checking him over. "It's a breach, Mason. I'm fine." Thomas squirmed, but didn't protest further. "Is everyone alright?"
"That was absolutely—terrible." Surajini said flatly. She was sandwiched between Patrick and Hiram and all three Healers wore the exact same expression of grimness. "Wait for it," she said, darkly. "Anytime now."
"Wait for what?" Bahn wriggled for Takar to put him down. "I'm fine, Tak." He nuzzled his Beta's neck and glanced down at his stomach. "It's gone. That was only one—I could feel it on the air. Check me." Takar eased him to his feet and immediately cast a diagnostic spell. "They're fine," Bahn breathed, a second later. "Thank you." Takar nodded, but kept an arm around him still.
Harry had shrunk back into Charlie's embrace, half-sandwiched himself when Theo had moved to shield his front. "What was that?" He asked, feeling a little hint of anger surfacing. That had been the very last thing he'd expected, but it reminded him of a certain graveyard and exploding gravestones. He willed his mind to keep the memories away and focused as best as he could on the reality in front of him. He would deal with those later. He needed to focus here now.
"Shockwave," Thomas said. Mason had released him, but Thomas kept him near, with a tug on his uniformed sleeve. The Gheyo gave a wry smile and took up a guarding position just to his Submissive's left. "Something must have—Nevarah is protected by special protections in many, many layers. That felt like a layer—like something breaking." He shuddered again.
A hazy mist of white-grey winked into existence, hovering just in front of the Kalzik's before it grew to be the size of a dinner plate. Within seconds, a hazy, colored image began to twist into shape. "Mum? Mum, it's Dy!" Dyshoka's garbled voice grew clearer. "There's been a breach in the Seventh dome over the North side of the Realm's border. I'm fine, I was with Dahlia Deveraine, she's left to join her Circle. I'm with Quinn, Kyle and Emily. We're all fine, but we're close and there's-" The image twisted and faded out, before coming back. "There's Fabrine crawling around here. Not much, but the Gheyos are—keep down, Kyle!" The image shuddered again. "—watch your head, you big lug. He's fine, Mum. They're already repairing things, but there's some pretty bad injuries. We're not sure what happened yet. A lot of Pareyas were injured—they felt the attack coming on. We could use some help—Quinn, over here! She's having trouble breathing."
Dyshoka's message vanished just as a golden beam of light streaked down from the ceiling. A metallic voice began to speak. "This is a general announcement for all active Healers. Please respond to situation twenty-nine-oh-two in the North quadrant of section three. There has been a breach at the border walls. Injured ranks are Gheyos and Pareyas. There are no Submissive injuries. Fabrine may be present, but we are working to have them eliminated. Do not respond if you do not have a defensive Bonded to accompany you."
Surajini scowled as the light faded. "They can never just say what they need us for, can they?" She growled. "Harry-love. I will leave you in Thomas's capable hands. My readings show the same as his did, you'll need a Merrow to take that off. As much as it pains me to admit it, my method of help may do more harm than good at this point. I have no desire to put you through the pain that will forcibly remove it. If you have exhausted all other options by tonight, then send me a message. I'll see what I can do. Perhaps I'll think of something." She elbowed Patrick. "Stop standing on my feet. You weigh a good-"
"You'll look after him personally?" Hiram asked Thomas. "I understand your parental obligation, but-"
"I will and he will." Ilsa answered for both of them. She stood by her father, having returned when the shockwave had passed. "Be careful."
"We always are." Patrick half-smiled. "Jini?"
Surajini tilted her neck to the side, her aura was deliberately thrown out. "Temptrificus Meeras, permission for three master healers for situation twenty-nine-oh-two. Immediate vicinity of Dyshoka Kalzik."
FAIRY REALM : ROYAL PALACE
Luna skipped up the steps leading to the Fairy Queen's private quarters. Her soft-soled shoes made very little noise on the white marbled floor and she playfully twirled around some of the large pillars lining the walkway up the gold and crystal encrusted doorway. She bobbed her head in necessary politeness to the four guards standing watch at the door.
They eyed her suspiciously for a moment, then parted to admit her. She waited as they opened the doors and then held her head high as she strode through the doorway. The room was light and airy, with colorful, pastel shades of sunlight streaming from the circular ceiling, a swinging bed anchored from a hook in the center of the ceiling dome.
It was a fantastic room, covered with realistic images of the former Fairy Queens, their lovers, and famous scenes from their colorful history. Luna allowed herself a quick look around before she scanned the room in search of said Queen. Her smile surfaced, faintly, when she caught sight of Her Royal Highness seated near a window at one side of the room, her official golden quill in hand.
"Luna," her name was breathed with the warmth of spring and the hope that was often associated with that same season. In a swirl of pale green fabric and tinkling jewelry, the Fairy Queen enveloped Luna in a warm hug. "I am so glad to see you made it to us safely. Your father has not yet arrived," she sighed, wrapping an arm around Luna's shoulders and guiding her towards the door that led out to her private garden. "Are you well?"
"I am quite well, dear lady," Luna said. "But things at school are not."
"Tell me everything," the Fairy Queen said. She took a seat on the garden swing and waited while Luna settled in next to her—cross-legged. She gave a light push on the cobblestone walkway and the swing began to move back and forth, gently.
"It is rather complicated," Luna said, at last. "Remember what I told you, about Albus Dumbledore?"
"The wizard who killed your mother?" The Fairy Queen furrowed her brow in puzzlement. "I thought you had said that you intended to-"
"I did." Luna said, calmly. "But then he made another mistake and I thought it would hurt more if I made him clean up his own mess." At the Fairy Queen's arched eyebrow, Luna took her wand out from behind her ear and tapped it on her right knee to send a bit of fairy dust down to the tip. "It's easier if you would take a look?"
The Fairy Queen inclined her head, the golden tiara tilting to the side from her mound of bronze, flower-braided hair. "If you like," she said.
Luna smiled. She waved her wand in a figure-eight pattern, twice clockwise and once counter-clockwise, ending with a slight flourish at the end. In the rectangular area where she'd been casting, the fairy dust had hovered in mid-air, forming a thin, but visible cloud and an acceptable viewing surface. Within seconds, an image began to play—a projected memory—a few moments after the images were moving, sound accompanied it.
It showed Hogwarts sitting at attention for their Ending Feast at the end of the year, with all the students weary, but glad to have their schoolwork over with, the professors themselves looking as if the holiday could not approach fast enough. The tables were overflowing with food and there was even a faint strain of music in the background, a treat for the student's last day.
A perfectly ordinary scene, except for the moment where Dumbledore lifted his cup in a toast and cast a spell upon every child present in the Great Hall. Luna's lower lip quivered, faintly, before her expression schooled into one of hardness, her angry gaze drilling into the image of Dumbledore.
To the naked eye, in a regular wizard's pensieve, there was no proof of any spell cast.
To a Magical Creature, viewing a memory replay through fairy dust, it was painfully obvious to see the runes etched into his cup, the flash of blue eyes and the deliberate spell cast with Torvak magic, a nearly invisible wave of wispy whiteness that had bubbled up and over from every single goblet on the table, spilling over to each child—and teacher—in turn, until they were all enveloped in a cocoon of sorts, one that stretched, strengthened and moved with their every step.
"Easy child," The Fairy Queen tapped Luna's wand hand, where she'd been gripping her wand hard enough to break.
Luna managed a tight smile. "I-" she began, the usual playfulness faltering as she asked a silent question she could not put into words.
The Fairy Queen smiled, her softness melting away to sharp edges and a mother's fierceness as she pulled Luna into a careful hug. "I do not know why men—and wizards—must do such things, but there is always a solution. Always an answer. Always hope. Never lose sight of that." She pressed a kiss to Luna's pale forehead. "I take it there is more creature blood present among the pureblood than they would wish known?"
Luna half-laughed, snuggling into the hug, a gesture of affection she rarely found anywhere, save for her father and only in the times when they were together. "Dragel, Torvak, Vampire, Succubus, Dyrad, Ethnic, Elemental and Werecreature." She ticked the types off on her fingers. "And of course, nothing. Some truly are purebloods, not a single hint of anything creature-related." She frowned. "It could mean that they used purification potions though."
"It could," the Fairy Queen agreed. "How would you have me help?"
There was a long pause and then Luna sighed. "I do not know, my lady. I only—I only know that I cannot leave it alone and that I feel as if I must make him pay."
"He must." The Fairy Queen said, quietly. "And not necessarily by your hand if you do not wish it, but this Dumbledore will pay. You do not toy with such things and expect no consequences." She frowned. "Must take a charm before you travel once more, I will not have you realm-hopping with no protection of any sort."
Luna wrinkled her nose as the embrace ended, the Fairy Queen now thinking deeply. "The pathways are still safe," she began. "There was hardly any-" she broke off as the Fairy Queen gave her a look.
"Hardly any?" The Fairy Queen prompted. "I sincerely hope you were not about to make some foolish statement such as 'there were hardly any Fabrine skulking about' because that would invite a lecture I have yet to compose about the importance of protecting oneself from things they should not yet know of."
A sheepish smile danced over Luna's face, then settled into her old familiar one. "I did not come by the pathways," she admitted. "I used Mum's medallion—and you know that. I would never travel those pathways alone, not now." She chewed on the tip of her wand for a moment before she caught herself and glared at it. "The other realms are disturbed, aren't they?"
"Death walks," The Fairy Queen said, mildly. She gave a little kick at the ground, jostling the garden swing into movement once more. "And when she walks, all the shadow crawl on their knees, begging her to end their misery." She sighed. "Very well, you know where the armory is and you know where I shall be, you have my blessing. Travel safely."
Luna slid off the swing and twirled to a stop. "Nevarah?" She clarified.
"Indeed. It is their Hunting season and I do believe there are some of our own that are soulbonded. I will be escorting them and offering my blessing to the newly bonded Circles. You are free to drop in."
The blonde witch shook her head very faintly. "I would rather not. I have much to do."
"And you will do it well. You make me proud, spriteling—as if you were my own." The Fairy Queen held out one hand. Luna caught it in her own and lightly kissed the back. With a bob of her head, she turned on her heel and with two slashing arcs of her wand, sprouted white and blue wings that carried her swiftly from the garden and out of sight.
The Fairy Queen watched her until her figure as a mere spark in the sky and then sighed. "Rolf?"
Her nephew straightened up from his position to the far left of the little garden patio, a hedge clipper in hand. "Auntie?" He folded his hands in front of him and bowed respectfully.
"Follow her. Make sure she is safe."
Rolf's lips twitched into an almost smile and he stood to his full height, clicking his heels together and offering a salute. "I always do."
A/N: Whew! That was 10k words worth of a roller-coaster ride. *wipes sweat from keyboard* I hope that was a fun chapter for everyone. ;) I certainly had some fun with it. The hint of Luna and some about the Snapes, hopefully helps to get some of the actual voldy and dumbles plot going. The next chapter will be coming up soon, I'm already working on it, probably about a quarter of the way through. ~Scion
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STATE OF CHARACTERS:
Theo-(with Charlie, Harry and Deveraines)
Charlie-(with Theo, Harry and Deveraines)
Harry-(with Theo, Charlie and Deveraines)
Deveraine Circle members-(Bahn, Delani, Takar, Ilsa and Nara-with Harry and Co. All others are off doing their own thing.)