The Inbetween – By Slytherin's Dragon
A/N: My early update for you all. So here it is; the chapter that you've all been waiting for.
Don't own anything that you recognize. Everything else is a product of my imagination, partly influenced by the numerous fantasy genres I've read throughout the years.
Chapter XXVII – Premonition
The mirror reflected the image of a person immaculately dressed, in striking dress robes of matte black, a crisp charcoal dress shirt, and a silver tie with the perfect lustre that matched the solitary silvery lock of hair that fell casually over the boy's forehead. There was almost a predatory gleam that flashed in the boy's eyes, well pleased with the effect of his clothes, before he bent down to carefully pick up the silver and black leather scabbard, that contained Despair. With a bit of magic, the scabbard was slung over his shoulders, serving as invisible straps to hold the weapon in place. The hilt of the blade protruded over his left shoulder.
He permitted a smirk, noting that he looked far beyond his meagre eleven years. His smirk vanished, when a flurry of knocks assailed the washroom door.
"Harry, are you done yet? We are going to be late!" Henry's voice could be heard from the door. Harry grinned when he heard the impertinent boy mutter, "Merlin, he's worse than my mother..."
After one last glance at the mirror, Harry turned away and opened the door, revealing an exasperated looking Henry, already fully dressed in his own set of dress robes. The blue of Henry's robes was so dark, that it was almost black. The two boys walked through the hallway, before reaching a landing. The bustle of activity and the growing chatter of the arriving guests were starting to be heard.
They descended the ornate spiral staircase, the banisters outfitted with seasonal pine needles. Henry stopped halfway down the stairs, and Harry peered over the railing, realizing that they had a clear view of the massive room that was serving as the reception area. Various guests were entering via a handsome set of wooden double doors, while others flashed through the fireplace, and were immediately received there by a group of waiting house-elves.
"So, you want to know who's who," Henry mused quietly to Harry and started to point to various people, "That dull looking couple over there is the Parkinsons', and that's their daughter, Pansy, who's in our year. Draco's quite fond of her, for reasons I cannot fathom –"
Henry continued for quite some time before Harry interrupted. "Who is that blonde girl over there? Talking to Nestor?"
Henry craned his head over to a set of tables which contained punch bowls, wineglasses, platefuls of finger foods, and several expensive bottles of alcohol, where Nestor was opening and decanting with efficient ease while chatting to an exceptionally pretty girl, with wavy hair, and in neutral green dress robes. She had a carnation tucked in her hair.
"Ah," Henry grinned, "Lorelei; she's Hurst's adopted daughter."
Harry raised his eyebrow in surprise, "Her father's a goblin?"
"Yeah," Henry nodded, "She went to school in the States. Actually, I am really surprised that she showed up at all this year. Very little people know about Hurst's daughter, and an even smaller subset of people know her personally. She is pretty though... I've met her once, when my parents and I went abroad several years back. I remember she took me around the gardens of the Chateau we were staying at. I also vaguely remember telling my father that I wanted to marry her afterwards. He chuckled and told me that she was at least a decade older than I was."
Harry laughed, and then went into more business, "So that goblin over there in the black robes and blue tie is Hurst, but who are his companions?"
"The one to his right in the dark red robes with the big black beard is Marzug. He runs the Middle Eastern version of Gringotts, and he and Hurst go long back, according to my dad. The one to Hurst's left is Leander. He's the heir to one of the three big European goblin families, although, I've forgotten which one. Rumor has it that his old dad is horribly sick, and Leander's starting to shoulder the political burdens. So yeah, he's big in the world of Goblins. You will probably see Galina – she's Leander's wife, and my dad did say that Klara is coming."
"Who's Klara?" Harry asked.
Henry explained, "Klara is what the goblins call the 'Master Smith'. In addition to setting the standards and rules that all European goblin smiths must follow, she has the power to veto the decisions made by the House of Goblins under most circumstances."
"Wow, that seems odd," Harry mused.
Henry shook his head, "Smithing is an art held most dear to the Goblins. In order to be the Master Smith, you must not only be a great Smith, but have to win the favour of the goblin-folk, via an election."
Harry soon found himself distracted by another presence on the floor below. Henry, noticing that his companion's attention was elsewhere, followed Harry's line of vision to a tall man that bore a strong resemblance to himself and his father.
"That man is not natural," Harry remarked, sensing something very strange about the man-no-creature's magical signature. He had a feeling that this vampire was a specimen more ancient than Malcolm. "Yet, he could pass for your father. Only that he has brown hair."
Henry sighed, "It's been a long running joke that Uncle Clement is a vampire, and I think..."
"It's no joke." Harry said seriously.
"That would explain a lot of things." Henry grinned in comprehension after a long pause, "If you look at old family portraits going back way back when, you always see someone that looks exactly like Uncle Clement. He must keep reinventing himself or something like that... He never ages, never changes. Always visits in the late afternoon, just after the sun goes down. Always got loads of stories about our family history, always comes bringing exotic gifts. Nice gentleman."
"The family vampire..." Harry said with a smirk.
"I suppose," Henry agreed with a smile, "Can't wait to spring that on my dear ole dad."
"I think we can stop being wallflowers now, and join –"
"Merlin, is that Tonks and Forest?" Henry interrupted, pointing to a doorway, "And are they – kissing?"
Harry smirked at the sight of his Potions Master, in his well-tailored suit that would do any secret agent proud, and Tonks in a set of dark red dress robes with an oriental flavour – transformed tonight into a dark beauty. His eyes then widened when he noticed the mistletoe set above the doorway leading to the ballroom. There was a strange knot of magic within the decoration.
"Want to bet that someone put a very strong compulsion charm on that mistletoe?"
Severus Snape found himself completely disoriented on the reception floor. There were all sorts of people and creatures present, from DMLE Head Amelia Bones to fabulously wealthy individuals, like Evgeny Reznikov, CEO of the company who manufactured the Nimbus line of brooms, to several highly positioned goblins. He could have even sworn that he had walked by at least two powerful vampires, disguised cunningly like humans. But vampires of such age and power needed very little blood for sustenance, and as a result, Severus knew that they were no threat to anyone present.
Deciding that he seriously needed a drink, he headed towards the refreshment tables, where he was surprised to see Fred Weasley hovering suspiciously over one of the enormous glass punch bowls. The Weasley twin looked cautiously at Nestor's back, before quickly pouring the contents of one of the stronger liquors into the bowl. His twin was standing beside him and leaning in a very strategic way, blocking his mischief making brother from viewers from the other side.
"Brewing, gentlemen?" Severus quirked an inquisitive eyebrow at the twins.
The Potions Master smirked when George jumped in shock at the voice of their infamous Potions professor. He mused that all three of them were thinking along the same wavelength.
How on earth did he/they get invited to such a posh party?
"So, may I inquire about what else I shouldn't be indulging into tonight?" Severus asked, after a moment of a somewhat awkward silence.
"Um... This punch bowl and you might want to stay away from the mistletoes, sir." Fred finally admitted, "Some are safe, but frankly, I am not sure which ones are... let's say rather insistent upon the completion of such a yuletide tradition."
Severus looked amused when he turned to see two random people kissing under the nearest mistletoe. They had looks of utter confusion upon their faces when they were released from the spell. "So may I also inquire to who would be responsible for spreading such cheer?"
"Um, we cannot disclose, sir. It's against the honour system." George answered, with utmost seriousness in his voice and countenance.
Severus nodded knowing instinctively that it was futile to try any harder, before grabbing a bottle of the finest firewhiskey the table had to offer, and decanting the contents into the closest glass he could find.
And then, he caught the familiar sight of Lucius Malfoy. Even if it was Lucius, it was reassuring that there were indeed people he knew at the party. He started walking over to Lucius, only to see him stop oddly, and stare at another person. Severus found it extraordinary that Lucius, the epitome of cold decorum, would gawk like that.
At first, Severus thought that Lucius was looking at the red dress robed girl, but he figured that she was too dark for Lucius' taste, and turned his attention to the man she was with.
Bloody Merlin, is that Forest...?
He hadn't seen Forest in over a decade. He knew that the man had gone over to the States shortly he was done his Mastery, and since then, Severus had lost contact with him.
He watched as Lucius walked over to Forest.
Oh this was going to be good... Severus inched closer towards the two Malfoys. He knew who Forest really was, but out of respect for his older friend, he had kept mum about Lucius' older half-brother.
"Who are you?" Lucius looked Forest up and down, unbelievingly.
Severus knew that Forest looked like a youthful version of Abraxas Malfoy, Lucius' father, and seeing Forest in the flesh was like seeing a ghost for Lucius. Forest's face was passive, but Severus could recognize the subtle glimmer of amusement in the man's eyes.
"Forest," Forest grinned, pausing dramatically before going in for the kill, "But some call me, Master Malfoy or even... Dr. Malfoy."
Lucius looked like he was going to faint. The girl, who was standing beside Forest, looked like she was going to die of silent hysterics. Severus then realized that the girl standing beside Forest was Nymphadora Tonks. He found himself wondering on what twisted turn of fate would cause those two to meet.
But of course, Lucius recovered his equilibrium pretty quickly, and said in a relatively modulated but cold voice, "What on earth are you wearing?"
"A tuxedo, Lucius," Forest explained patiently as if to a child, "It's all the rage in the good old United States of America. And if you would kindly observe, I am not the only one attired as such."
Severus found himself looking around. The man had a point. There were people, probably Americans, and maybe even some half-blood Brits, who had eschewed the old traditional dress robes for the simpler, less fussy Muggle-styled dress. In fact, several of the tuxedo-attired men had even removed their jackets, and were walking around in their shirts, trousers and ties. Several of the ladies were wearing dresses of Muggle origin as well. Even one of the suspected vampires was wearing a tuxedo that could rival Forest's in taste and style.
Lucius sighed painfully, "And our proud heritage is no doubt, going down the drain..."
"Actually," Forest said with an amount of mirth that was equivalent to Lucius' pain, "I would call it progress. Wizarding England is so last century. Well then, see you later, dear little half-brother."
Severus immediately bolted for the closest available washroom and cast the strongest silencing charm in his repertoire, after Forest had left with Tonks in tow.
There was no way in hell he was going to have a laughing fit in public.
"Mr. Grey, it is a pleasure to see you again," Hurst, the Gringotts' Head, bowed low to Harry.
Remembering the Goblin etiquette he had learned under Ivan's tutelage, Harry immediately bowed low, before replying, "It is an honour, Head Goblin."
Hurst smiled, pleased with Harry's reply and display of respect, before saying, "Call me Hurst, goblin-friend."
"Then I would insist that you call me, Harry," Harry gave the goblin an equal smile, "Ivan sends his regards, and his apologies."
"It is a shame," Hurst said, "Ivan's done a lot for both our species. He's our greatest hope for peace... but nevertheless..." He then gestured for Harry to sit, on one of the comfortable, tasteful chairs that inhabited the small sitting room.
"There are forces beyond our control..." The goblin that Henry had introduced as Leander said solemnly. He was clad in dress robes of green, and he wore his blond hair long in a ponytail. He carried a sword, slung across his shoulders. He was taller than the usual goblin and looked far younger than both Marzug and Hurst. "We try our best, but neither humans nor goblins are species to let go of past hurts and forgive. The ties between the two governments of wizards and goblins in Europe have been eroding exponentially for the past decade, ever since the disappearance of you-know-who. We don't know what's going on, exactly. Unfortunately, my family is only one House, out of three major ones that all Goblins are divided upon, and not all feel the same way about peace as Marzug, Hurst and I do. Even within our family, there is tension."
"This goes beyond wanting wands, and the secrets to smithing, doesn't it?" Harry mused, after a second to reflect upon Leander's statement, trying to recall what little he knew about goblin history.
"That was the crux before everything else happened." Marzug said, with a thick Middle-Eastern accent, "What your people call the Goblin wars, and what we goblins call the Wizard wars. It's all a matter of perspective, really. There were no winners, only losers. And some goblins believe that blood must call for blood."
"So, why are you telling me all this?" Harry asked in bafflement.
"Because, Harry," Hurst said very gravely, "You are one of the few that are truly free to make your own choices, to carve your own destiny and while doing so, shape the landscape around you. You sneeze, and a Nation can catch the flu. You will be courted by many sides, as you mature. You are incredibly powerful. You are intelligent, and Ivan speaks highly of you. We are the few goblins, and few humans that toil behind the scenes regardless of our differences, for one noble aim. That someday our world will know peace. Not the fragile walking on eggshells peace that we have now, but real peace."
There was a long silent pause of reflection for all parties. Marzug stroked his beard, while Leander looked stonily ahead, deep in thought, while Hurst had a somewhat worried expression on his face. Harry stared directly at the fire that burned in the fireplace across from where he was sitting.
"I think that we've kept Harry here for too long, he is still young, and unlike us, still has the energy to enjoy the night. Leander, you should go find your wife, and have a dance or two." Marzug smiled rather fondly at Leander, and then shared the same smile with Harry, "May the fires be with you, young mage."
"Say hello to my daughter for me, if you see her." Hurst said, before giving Harry a nod which signalled the end of the conversation, "She's Lorelei, the apple of my eye..."
Harry bowed one last time, before walking out of the small room that he had been discreetly pulled into many minutes back.
"Harry! Dance with me!" Hermione finally managed to push her way through the throngs of dancers to her friend, just as the tune changed to a cheerful waltz. She grabbed her friend's hands, and Harry found himself settling in the familiar dance steps. He was incredibly glad that he had asked Forest and Remus for dancing lessons.
"You look nice, tonight," Harry mused, admiring her sky blue dress robes, and that she had somehow managed to get her unruly hair into a neat chignon. It made her look so grown up, despite her age. He smiled fondly at her.
"You do too," Hermione grinned, "Dressed to kill."
Harry laughed, "That was the effect I was aiming for. Henry was complaining that I take just as long as a woman!"
"Oh, I will have a talk with him... Honestly... he's bloody impossible!" Hermione said with serious look on her face.
"Having fun?" Harry said lightly, just as he twirled Hermione around.
"Yeah, I think Neville is having way too much fun though." Hermione admitted, "Those compulsive mistletoes were his idea."
"He's came a long way," Harry smiled, "I still remember the days when our Neville was timid and shy."
"Yeah," Hermione grinned, "It's hard to believe he was the same shy person."
The two danced quietly for several more minutes, with Harry discreetly steering them towards a certain blonde woman in a set of green dress robes. Neville cut in at the end of the waltz to ask Hermione to dance, and Harry turned his attention towards Lorelei.
"May I have this dance, my lady?" Harry said respectfully, just as Lorelei blushed and said, "Of course. You are Harry right? My father asked me to keep an eye for you."
Harry noted that despite the impish and playful look in her eyes, there was a strange sort of seriousness within them. It wasn't the eyes of a woman who was out to enjoy a night of dancing, but rather...
"Yes, I was just talking to him a while back. He asked me to say hi to you for him." Harry nodded and then said, "I can see why Henry wanted to marry you."
Lorelei laughed. It was like fairy bells. "Oh, Henry Winters! I just danced with him a while back. Inherited the gilded tongue of his father! Edward is an impossible man!"
Like father, like son. Harry mused, remembering Hermione's comment about Henry during the previous dance. "Enjoying yourself?" Harry then inquired.
Lorelei's tone grew grave and she bent down to whisper in Harry's ear. Harry found himself wishing that he was a lot taller. "I would like to say yes, but there is something wrong... I don't know. I can't articulate it. Something is off." She then said in a louder and cheerier voice, "Of course I am."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked quietly; a little perplexed. He was starting to understand the odd look in her eyes.
She shrugged, "My instincts are hardly ever wrong. It's a premonition of things to come. I haven't told my father, but I think he senses it too. There's a storm coming, Harry and we are all in the dark. I wish Ivan was here, he would know what to do." She whispered the last sentence into Harry's ear.
Harry nodded, "I will keep an eye out."
"Look after yourself, Harry. I am going to find my father." She whispered at the end of the dance, before carefully slipping the red carnation out of her hair, and tucked it into Harry's breast pocket, and with a determined look made her way out the ballroom, in a swirl of dress robes.
"Hello, Severus, it's been awhile, hasn't it?" Forest found the professor lounging near the refreshment tables, a glass of well-aged Firewhiskey in hand.
"Indeed," Severus looked at his old friend with interest. Forest had proven himself to be a very capable and intelligent man, back in the day when they were apprentices. He noticed that the man had hardly aged since those good old days. "What brings you across the ocean?"
"Things, like curiosity, and a mid-life crisis." Forest admitted, "I needed a change of scenery. You haven't happened to have yours yet? Each bloke is entitled to one, you see."
Severus smirked, "I think I am about to have mine..."
"What makes you say that?" Forest looked curiously at the younger Potions' Master, "I heard you were a professor at Hogwarts. I thought you hated children!"
"That's precisely why. I hate children. I hate teaching dunderheads." Severus said; tongue a lot looser after several glasses of alcohol, "I feel that I've wasted ten years of my life."
"Pity," Forest sighed and then mused, "So what are you going to do about it?"
"Quit." Severus admitted, after draining the last drop of his glass. He had already lost track of exactly how much alcoholic beverages of the highest quality he had partaken. It was a very good thing that he was a man who could hold his liquor.
"Why don't you quit in the New Years, then. I think I've got an interesting project that may be worth your time and talent. You could just mail in your resignation." Forest suggested, "But of course, it's top secret."
Severus' eyes gleamed, jumping at the opportunity to sever his ties to his old hated profession. "Of course it is. We can talk details on another date. Will you owl?"
Forest nodded, just as the disguised Remus showed up, with Hadrian up on his shoulders.
"Hello, Romulus," Forest grinned, and then looked up at his son, "Hadrian, I seriously hope you are behaving yourself."
Hadrian stuck out his tongue out at his father. "Me, Hadrian, always behave myself."
Severus watched Forest and 'Romulus' talk with interest. There was something oddly familiar about Romulus.
He just couldn't fathom what with his alcohol muddled brain.
Harry walked out of the ballroom, shortly after Lorelei's departure, finding that despite his temperature regulation charm on his clothes, he felt rather warm. People were gathered in pairs, and groups out in the reception area, chatting, eating the appetizers, and drinking beverages.
He stopped when he reached the grand piano that was placed behind the stairs which he and Henry had made their entrance into the party. He lifted the lid that obscured the real ivory keys of the instrument, and after staring at the ivories, his hands, seemingly of their own accord, placed themselves on the keys, and a simple waltz-like melody, completely of Harry's own improvisation, emerged.
Conserving the main melody, Harry proceeded to play with an assortment of styles, from jazz, to turning the melody into a four-voice fugue, while somehow managing to keep the transitions natural. He hardly noticed when another person sat beside him on the black, plushy Steinway bench.
"Interesting," The woman whispered into Harry's ear, "The devil's child, indeed. Powerful, oh so powerful. Clement sensed your presence long before you emerged from the stairs with his descendent."
Without losing the beat, Harry continued to play on, while using his magic-sense to examine the 'person' beside him. It was the she-vampire that had shown up with Clement earlier. She was tall and lithe, while makeup covered her face, allowing for her to pass as human. Her hair was jet black, cascading down her shoulders, and her eyes were almost just as dark.
Her close proximity made Harry feel cold.
"You know my nature, don't you, child?" She smiled.
Harry barely nodded, "Yes. But I am curious. Why? Why pretend to be human, and interact with them?"
The woman laughed darkly and opened her mouth, temporarily showing Harry her pointed eyeteeth, before retracting them to their normal human form. She then whispered quietly – so quietly that only Harry's magic could pick up the waves. "We were all human once. Some divorce themselves from humanity, and go into seclusion, the deepest of the wilderness and are never heard from again. While most others fall in love with the beings we once were. It is a dangerous condition, for most fledglings perish due to this madness. There is something so seductive, so charming about humanity that we vampires spend our eternal life trying to understand. Clement and I call ourselves the Watchers. We both have descendents that we love, as only a vampire could."
"Ah, like 'Uncle' Clement's visits to the Winters'." He played onwards, well-aware that his playing had attracted a curious audience.
"Precisely," She smirked.
Harry found himself musing about the days back when he used to cut, to see the blood ooze, to see evidence that he was indeed a human being, still alive. He had replaced this habit with his observations and interactions with his fellow humans, despite feeling somewhat detached. But nevertheless, it had changed him in ways that he had never thought were possible. It had interesting parallels to what the she-vampire was revealing to him. He could relate to what she was talking about. They were watchers and participants of the human world, but there would always be a piece or two that will always be missing for the pair of them. All thanks to the nurturing environment that he had been brought up in.
She looked at him curiously. "You comprehend don't you? I know you do."
He simply nodded.
"Fascinating," She finally said a minute later as she got up from the bench. "Ah, there's Clement. I will be watching out for you."
It was during dinner, when the sense of unease began to creep along Harry's nerves. Everything seemed fine, from Nestor and the House-elves serving their guests with their impeccable skill, the conversation topics were innocent enough, and everyone seemed to be all smiles. He was sitting across Forest, who was busy trying to get Hadrian to not build things out of his food, and most notably, beside Madam Bones, who was sitting to his right.
It was a very quaint seating arrangement. Harry felt.
"Madam Bones," Harry said respectably to the Head of the DMLE sitting beside him, who was partway in tackling the roasted duck appetizer, garnished with an assortment of vegetables.
"That would be me," Amelia replied back, "And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?"
"Harry Grey, madam," Harry smiled back, while taking a bit of the duck himself, savouring the juiciness.
"The duck is divine," Amelia complimented, "I've always loved Edward's dinners."
The small talk continued, with others joining in. Harry found himself tuning out of the conversation and observing the people and creatures around him. He spread his magic sense throughout the entirety of the room, trusting nothing, trusting no one. He saw Lorelei sitting beside Henry and Blaise, and they seemed to be joking around, while her father sat across from her, seeming to be totally delighted with the various selections of the main course, especially with the wild roasted spiced boar. Leander was sitting beside another goblin, which Harry was unfamiliar with, but it was a safe bet that it was his wife, Galina. Hannah and Hermione were enjoying themselves on the far end of the table. It wasn't until the dessert dishes were put away – the most scrumptious date squares, and delightful crème brulee accompanied by equally heavenly vanilla ice cream until...
He saw it.
Something was wrong. And that something wrong was in the cup of strong tea that Leander had just picked up after it had been placed on the table by someone that Harry had missed. And what seemed to Harry, the slowest microseconds of his life, Leander brought the beverage slowly up to his mouth.
Leander stop! Don't drink! Danger! Danger!
Harry's mental projection was so loud, despite being directed only to the goblin, the other preternatural creatures sitting at the table winced, being particular sensitive to such forms of communication. The female vampire who was sitting within arm's reach of Leander, upon hearing Harry's warning, leapt up with speed, and grabbed the goblin's arm.
But Harry knew it was too late.
Before Leander could protest, the tall she-vampire stood up, and gestured for silence, "We need Healers, and Potions Masters, now! Poison!"
"But I am fine!" Leander protested.
Check for radiation in the tea, Forest!
Harry projected to his mentor who was in the process of getting out from his chair. Forest nodded, while Harry kept his magic sense spread out, remembering Ivan's warning regarding people. Several people were fussing over Leander, while someone remarked that they really needed to fetch a goblin healer. Hadrian had ditched his position on the chair, and had crawled underneath the table, towards Harry. Harry instantly wrapped his arm protectively around the boy, not letting him get off to mischief.
Amelia Bones suddenly got up, after taking a few seconds to think.
"Everyone, stop!" The DMLE Head immediately ordered; the authority in her voice caused everyone to halt. Harry knew that this method of poisoning was completely foreign to British wizards. The victim was currently fine, but she couldn't really call an investigation unless if there was definite proof of wrongdoing. "Department of Law Enforcement. We need proof of poisoning, before we can call in Aurors to investigate attempted homicide!"
"You might as well make that a homicide, Madam Bones." Forest spoke gravely after pointing his wand at the contents in the cup to perform his diagnostic test, specific for radiation. The liquid immediately turned pink for twenty seconds, before returning back to its original colour. "Polonium-210; an extremely rare Muggle 'toxin'; a mouthful at this concentration is more than enough to kill within weeks. Leander's a dead-goblin-walking. There is no cure." He then sealed the cup and its contents in a special box that he conjured out of thin air before surrendering it to the DMLE head.
"And you are?" Amelia asked out of curiosity and necessity.
"Master Forest Garrett Malfoy, Potions' Master – American citizen – if you wish to do a different confirmatory test on the poison, it is best if you seek the help of Muggles. The diagnostic I just used is commonly known in the American scientific community."
There were many gasps in wonderment when Forest said his name despite the disbelieving shock. It was hard to believe that with all the Winters' care and preparation, that someone essential in the world of goblin politics would be dead soon, considering that the victim hadn't shown a single symptom of poisoning.
Harry noticed Draco, who was sitting beside his father and mother, gawking at his half-uncle.
"I can confirm the validity of Forest's test," Another man, clearly from the other side of the ocean judging by his accent and dressed in a tux, said as he got up from his seat. "It's a variant of the Radiation Revelio spell. Name's Alexander Park, MD, or Healer in your jargon – American citizen. And we really ought to get a goblin-healer."
Amelia jotted down the man's information, and his comments on a pad of parchment, below her information about Forest.
Leander was extremely perplexed, while his wife, who had caught Forest's meaning, looked completely devastated. Harry knew she was fighting back her tears, for goblins do not cry in public, especially amongst humans.
The reality of the situation finally sunk in when Leander suddenly vomited over the table a minute later. Harry shook his head, calculating that barely ten minutes had elapsed since the poisoning, which meant that it was radiation ingestion of the most severe degree. Forest hurried to ward off the biohazardous radiation-contaminated vomit area with a containment ward, while the few professional Healers present at the party immediately jumped into action including Dr. Park, helping Leander out of his chair, while a House-elf directed them to a private room, with Marzug, Galina and several other goblins following them.
All wore grim expressions on their faces. Forest quickly passed on a radiation containment bucket that he had just conjured to one of the Healers for any more future waste.
Amelia had finally gotten her hands on Master Edward and was talking avidly to him before casting a Patronus to alert the happenings to her Aurors, while Nestor proceeded to shut off every conceivable route out of the manor with the help of Edward's wife, Adrianna. Tonks, despite her dress robes, started the protocol to process the supposed crime scene.
In the corner of his eye, Harry caught Lorelei sobbing into her father's left shoulder. Hurst had somehow found several sheets of parchment, and was busy composing several letters at once, while consoling his daughter at the same time. Harry could see from where he was sitting that one was to Ivan, while others were to correspondents, unknown.
Harry now understood what Hurst had been referring to, when he said, 'if you sneeze, an entire Nation could catch the flu'.
And maybe, even plunge Wizarding Europe into a third war.
He had unintentionally altered a sequence of events, by simply knowing that Leander was poisoned with radiation and without even having to use his voice, or get out of his chair. The radiation wasn't meant to be detectable by any means that Wizarding Britain, or Wizarding Europe had. Even if they did have the means to detect the poison, the radioactive isotope was so rare, that it was unlikely that anyone, Muggle or Wizard, would have diagnosed the patient ever, let alone before the patient was dead.
Leander would have been declared to have died of unknown circumstances – a quiet assassination at a much later date.
Not even the Elixir of Life could save him now. Harry reflected, due to the acute nature of the poisoning.
And he really wasn't quite sure what the exact consequences of his actions were.
But he did know that one thing was true.
Wizarding Britain would never be the same again.
4/27/13 - Discontinuing - rewrite in progress on profile. Just putting this here since people don't read the disclaimers on the first chapter and the description of the story itself. The new version is called The Inbetween - Reimagined.