Harry Potter belongs to J K Rowling, the wonderful lady who has inspired so many people to try their hand at writing too. Warhammer 40k belongs to Games Workshop who have a very scary legal team. Please don't sue me, I'm not very well off and could only pay you in pictures. I only mean to pay homage to the wonderful, funny, baroque, gruesomeness that is WH40k.
I should also say a big thank-you to my very patient Beta Jacobus-minoris who has read and reread my writing, pointed out my grammatical mistakes, questioned the suitability of some of my wilder ideas as well as putting up with my long winded rants about plot ideas.
This is a sequel to Inquisitor Carrow and the God-Emperorless Heathens which I highly recommend reading before this otherwise it will be difficult to figure out what is going on. Happy reading my lovely readers!
Inquisitor Carrow and the Bureaucracy of Failure
Minister Fudge sat in the middle of the small magically propelled boat, humming to himself happily, and enjoying the brisk North Sea air. This boat was the only way to get to and fro to the Wizarding prison Azkaban, and though he normally put off his annual inspection as much as possible, this year he'd been extremely eager to go.
And the reason why he was so excited to go to such a joyless, miserable, dementor infested rock in the middle of the North Sea? Because it was absolutely guaranteed that one Allesandor Darius Carrow was not there; it was enough to make Minister Fudge want to skip with happiness.
As soon as the suspected half-giant had taken up his family seat on the Wizengamot, the up-start had started throwing his considerable weight around, asking awkward questions about his god-father's trial, or rather lack of one, not to mention a whole list of other people who'd been locked up on the grim and depressing rock, and conveniently forgotten about.
There had been Jeddadiah Jinks, that had paid for the rather nice conservatory; and old Reggie Pingle, Lucius Malfoy had been feeling particularly vindictive that day, but he had been able to get his wife that diamond necklace she'd been nagging him about for months; and of course there had been the sad case of Lucreatia Mipps, but there had been a bright side, as he'd been able to buy the beautiful holiday home in the south of France. And so many others that didn't come to mind right at this moment, but he had suitably benefited from dear Lucius's generosity.
Wanting to teach the big man a lesson, Fudge had employed some of his less savoury contacts to show Carrow what happened to people who got too nosy. The thugs had come back three days later, demanding danger money while failing to have completed what should have been a simple task. The boss of the gang had had the cheek to stand in front of him, one eye swollen shut, and several teeth missing, while his right-hand man had stood, staring wildly in to space, trembling uncontrollably. The nasty little thug had tried to blackmail him when he'd refused, and the whole meeting had got rather unpleasant until the Aurors arrived.
Fudge never thought he would, but he desperately missed Lucius Malfoy. The man was so talented at making problems go away.
Why couldn't Carrow sit back, learn the ropes, and watch how things worked in the British Wizarding World, instead of coming in all high and mighty?
On the horizon a smudge of grey appeared becoming larger and more defined as the battered little boat drew ever closer. The grim rocky cliffs, over which loomed the ominous presence of Azkaban prison itself. Once a castle, it had many centuries ago been converted in to a prison by the British Ministry of Magic. Its bleak prospects and grim and severe architecture did little for the mental well-being of its residents. This coupled with the debilitating effects of the dementor guards, resulted in very few prisoners retaining their sanity beyond a year's residence.
As the little boat drew closer the small brick building in which the over-seeing aurors had their offices became visible through the mist. Nobody with any sense spent any longer inside the prison proper than they had to. In fact, much of the day to day running of the prison, such as feeding the inmates, was done magically, thereby saving the resident aurors' sanities from being taxed more than was absolutely necessary.
The reception party on the jetty watched in astonishment as a cheerful Minster bounced on to dry land, obviously pleased to be there, his bodyguards alighting at a more sedate pace.
"Well," Fudge declared gleefully, rubbing his hands together, "shall we crack on with the inspection then?"
The head warden nodded his head slowly and carefully, obviously disturbed by the man's mood. He and his deputy exchanged looks behind the Minister's back as they walked in to Azkaban proper. It was clear that you didn't need to stay in Azkaban to be crazy, but it helped.
Timothy Faulks trudged through the stony dry river valley, sweltering inside the outlandish outfit he was currently wearing. He was, at this moment, playing Nundu bait for his new employer, and had decided to kit himself up as best as he could. A fruitful trip to a military surplus store had provided him with both a gas mask and an NBC suit with its charcoal infused padding. Being a Ravenclaw, he had the background in runes and arithmancy to further enhance the protective qualities of these items of dubious aesthetic qualities. Carrow on seeing his efforts had had trouble hiding a smile. Wad the big man amused or pleased with his efforts? Faulks was still having problems reading the big man, even after three weeks of prolonged and hair raising contact with the lunatic.
Even now, as he trudged through the barren landscape of rocky outcrops, screes of gravel and drifts of sands, sweating profusely, Faulks was being trailed by Carrow. Faulks gazed around the valley. How could somebody so large, clad in such bulky flamboyant amour disappear so completely in this barren dun coloured landscape? The man was such a massive puzzle full of strange contradictions, and there was nothing a Ravenclaw liked more than a good conundrum; Faulks was determined to get to the bottom of this one.
Something to his left caught his gaze, a pile of fresh spoor lay on the stony ground still steaming slightly. The highly distinctive odour gave away its origins as that of a Nundu even through the strong scent of rubber from his gas mask. They must be close now. Steeling himself, Faulks continued onwards.
The prison was its usual squalid self. Due to the dementor guards and the largely automated maintenance the prisoners enjoyed little in the way of amenities. Washing facilities were virtually non-existent, while calling the toilets basic was being kind. The scent of hundreds of unwashed bodies, human faeces and the cold sea air mingled in to a distinctive odour which clung to everything it came in to contact with. It would take several showers and some heavy duty cleaning charms for Minister Fudge to rid himself of the odour of Azkaban, but it was worth it just to be Carrow free for the day.
As the head warden led the Minister's party around it became rather obvious that most of the prisoners were not just insane, but were insensate to the world around them, hunching on their squalid little pallets and rocking back and forth. Fudge was sure he'd seen one particularly sickly looking fellow bashing his head repeatedly against the wall.
Entering into the High Security Wing, the domain of imprisoned death eaters, the prisoners were slightly more vocal and aware, screaming and shouting abuse at the passing dignitaries. All, except one. Sirius Black, traitor, betrayer of the Potter family, and mass murderer was watching the passing visitors in silence, dirty fingers wrapped around the bars of his cell, haunted grey eyes ever watchful. Fudge shuddered slightly at the shell of the once exuberant and jovial auror.
"Sir," came the man's cracked and whispering voice, "your paper, sir. Could I have your paper, sir?"
The man was so pitiful, that in a rare moment of compassion Fudge gladly handed over the morning's Daily Prophet. Maybe some news of the outside world would do the man some good.
Faulks staggered slightly as he hauled himself over yet another slab of rock. Why hadn't he thought of cooling charms on this blasted suit? It was too late for that now, unfortunately. Cursing insane bosses and ridiculous jobs, Faulks carried on his way warily keeping an eye out for any signs of a Nundu, tracks, spoor, anything. Considering the creatures moved completely silently, he was expecting to become literal bait.
If he'd been told three weeks ago that he was going to be Nundu bait for his new, extremely large and dangerous boss, he'd have laughed at them and told them to stop smoking those mushrooms.
Frankly, he'd had difficulty just two days ago with the idea of a Nundu hunt. When he'd realised Carrow was totally serious, he'd made sure the man actually knew what a Nundu was. He'd pointed out its large size, its resistance to magic requiring a team of at least one hundred wizards to subdue such a creature, its ability to breathe a disease causing miasma and the fact the terrifying creature was capable of bringing down a fully grown bull elephant. He'd even dragged Carrow to London Zoo to give him an idea of the size of the average elephant. Carrow had gone very quiet when he'd seen the elephant, and Faulks thought for a wild moment he'd finally got through to the large man, until he saw the excited gleam in his eyes and his broad, feral grin. Timothy Faulks knew at that moment that he was utterly Doomed.
The sound of shifting stones caused him to jump and whirl on the spot, wand held raised ready in one sweaty hand. He desperately scanned the surrounding outcrops for the slightest movement, the slightest change. A gust of hotter, rancid air hit him from behind, followed by another, and then another. His spine prickling with cold, goose bumps coming up on his arms Faulks slowly turned on the spot careful not to make any sudden moves.
Sirius Black eagerly flicked through his prize with shaking fingers. It had been years since he'd last heard any sort of contact like this with the outside world. He'd naturally turned to the sports section first, lapping up all the details of the current Quidditch leagues, the performance of players he'd never heard of, scandals involving trainers, who he vaguely thought had been starting their careers as players when the war had been going on. There were many, many names he didn't recognise. The broom reviews had him in ecstasies, eager to get his hands on one and try it out. It had all left him shaken and crying, this wonderful cheap paper and ink window on to the world beyond the grim walls of Azkaban.
He'd feverishly scoured the Births, Deaths, Marriages section looking for familiar names, half remembered people he'd know as a child, anything familiar really to reassure him that, yes, there really had been a time when he'd existed outside these four stone walls.
Even the smallest advert was a cause for excitement, dimly remembered brands of cleaning agents and household products. The whole-page advert for Zonko's joke shop had him reminiscing shamelessly about a distant time when he had been so young and carefree without a trouble in the world.
As he reverently turned a page he came across a large photo of strangely familiar faces. A glance at the accompanying article explained it. The Weasley family had won the Daily Prophet Galleon Draw. He remembered Molly and Arthur from Order of the Phoenix meetings. A wonderful couple, he couldn't think of any one more deserving of winning a large amount of gold. They'd obviously prospered after the war, despite the losses they'd incurred. He still remembered Gideon and Fabian, two thoroughly decent blokes who'd loved their little sister, and had teased her incessantly. Molly had been devastated by their deaths. Maybe her large brood was some sort of compensation, or maybe she'd just been determined to have a daughter. Sirius was impressed; the young lady must be the first Weasley daughter in nine generations. Their youngest son was the same age as little Harry.
The thought of his treasured godson drove him to the pits of despair. The thought of the little boy he'd last seen, all tousled black hair and big green eyes with that infectious cheeky grin made him howl his despair, tearing at his clothes and hair. Somebody else had watched his godson grow up and develop, had taught him to read and write, had watched him make his first friends, had hugged him when he was scared and read him bedtime stories. It should have been him, he should have been there.
When he became aware of his surroundings again he was lying curled on his side, fresh scratches on his face, the precious paper lying crumpled under him. He scrambled up panicking, desperately smoothing out the precious pages with shaking hands. He was relieved to see that despite his thrashing around the paper was only slightly smudged and torn.
Turning back to the photo of the Weasley family happily waving up at him while standing in the bright Egyptian sunshine he was struck with how happy they looked. Bill, the eldest child, who he'd met a few times, had grown up in to a handsome young man with rakish good lucks and a smile that probably drew the ladies in like bees to honey. Charlie wasn't in this picture but Percy was, with his head-boy badge proudly displayed. Sirius remembered the twins, they were already trouble as toddlers, obviously took after their deceased uncles. Right at the front were the daughter with her long hair falling over her shoulders, and Ronald, the youngest son. It was clear he took after his father, with his long coltish limbs and manic freckles. Perched on his shoulder was a rat, a common or garden rat. Sirius did a double take; the rodent in question was missing a front toe on its left paw. His hands shook in fury at the sight of the filthy little double crossing traitor Peter Pettigrew sitting as bold as brass on the shoulder of Ronald Weasley.
Peter Pettigrew was at Hogwarts, as the pet of a lad who was most likely in Gryffindor, considering his family, alongside Harry, his precious godson; where else would the boy be sorted considering his parents?
And the little rat was there in the dame dormitory as Harry, the only child of his best friend, waiting for something. To strike Harry down? To betray the boy again? Whatever the filthy little rat's intentions were, they did not bode well. Not at all. And here he was, suck in Azkaban in this little cell, six foot by six foot, within these four stone walls, unable to do anything about it. Shaking uncontrollably, he changed in to his dog form and howled his despair and anger, helplessness and rage, his cries mingling with those of the other prisoners.
Faulks gulped down his fear; there crouching among the boulders, just twenty feet away was the most gigantic feline he'd ever seen, staring straight at him, head close to the ground slinking slowly forward with each delicate lift and careful placement of its colossal paws. Its harsh grey fur blended in perfectly with the surrounding stones, the heat haze and the cat's spots further blurring its outline. Faulks was in awe; the animal was utterly magnificent, and dangerous, and it was only twenty foot away. Fighting down rising panic he carefully jabbed his wand at the ground in front of the cat with a hissed "Bombarda maxima". A flash of white light and a woomph blew a spray of dust, sand and jagged stone shrapnel in to the Nundu's face, but Faulks was already sprinting as fast as he could for the safety of the nearest outcrop, scrambling up it as fast as he could, fear and adrenalin driving him on as the green cloud of the Nundu's miasma crept up and engulfed him.
A deep, reverberating bellow echoed around the valley as Carrow leapt from his concealment and charged the angry feline, his amour covered in a light coating of dust and his power sword crackling with blue energy. Dancing past the Nundu's attempts to crush him with its huge paws Carrow slashed across one of the animal's limbs cutting the front forelimb right to the bone. The Nundu's roars of pain echoed around the valley, joining Carrow's war cry.
The cloud of green the Nundu huffed towards Carrow hugged the ground, clinging to the stones, causing the little sparse and scrappy vegetation to wilt and shrivel in its noisome presence. Locked away in the self-contained environment of his power amour Carrow was oblivious to the Nundu's most fearsome weapon. Instead he charged forward, wielding his power sword, slashing through the other forelimb slicing through vital tendons, hobbling the giant feline. The Nundu staggered sideways, screaming and howling in pain, before lashing out again wildly; in desperation at the deadly irritant that was taking it apart piece by piece. Carrow easily dodged its snapping jaws, the gust of poisonous breath and the slashing claws, dodging in and cleaving the beast's belly open from side to side. The Nundu slumped fitfully on to its side, Carrow throwing himself clear, rolling and coming up in to a fighting stance, sword ready. The Nundu whined and rasped, desperately trying to stand, to move away from this deadly menace, its every struggle getting weaker and weaker, every breath a painful bubbling rasp. Carrow, seeing its chest wide open, darted in and drove his sword between its ribs right up to the hilt, piercing the Nundu's heart. With a heave, he wrenched the battle blade free, releasing a gush of the creature's blood, as its corpse began to cool beneath the Saharan sun.
Sirius Black sat on his mean cot, his ragged blanket draped around his shoulders staring at the stone wall in front of him. He was pretty certain he was the only person who knew Pettigrew was alive, well, and in a position to attack Harry Potter, his precious godson, the little boy who ended the war. Somehow he needed to get out of here, either to get the news out that the little rat was indeed alive, or capture the filthy traitor himself. But he'd never received a trial, people had obviously assumed he was guilty, and tried to forget about him. Maybe he could tell Remus; but no, Remus would think he was the traitor. He must be so angry after they all distanced themselves from him because they thought he was the leak. It had seemed reasonable at the time what with all the trouble Greyback and his rabid pack were causing. But he hadn't been the traitor, Peter Pettigrew was, and what a surprise that was. And he, he himself was a traitor too. If he hadn't persuaded James to swop secret keepers at the last moment...it had seemed such a good idea at the time.
But no, he mustn't follow that train of thought. He must keep it together; he needed to stay calm, to stay focused. There were only two important facts; he was the only person who knew the traitor rat was alive, and secondly, but just as importantly, Harry was in danger.
He needed to get out. Desperate times called for desperate measures as the muggles would say. Staring at the door to his cell he thought of all the meagre resources at his disposal. He wasn't sure how the dementors would react if he tossed his blanket over one of them, or flung poo in their direction. Not well probably. He could turn in to his dog form and growl at them but they never took ...any...notice...that was it!
He would stay in his dog from, wait for the dementor guards to open the door, and sneak out. It would be tough to swim across the sea, but he was sure he could make it; he had nothing to lose after all. And then...and then what? Well he'd think of something, he always did.
Faulks tried not to breathe too heavily, as he hauled himself higher on the steep valley trying to get himself as clear from the influence of the Nundu as he could. As he reached the top he was hit by a gust of slightly cooler air. Pulling off the stifling mask, he got his first unobstructed view of the dry valley and Carrow at work as he put down the giant cat. Frankly the poor animal didn't stand a chance against the man.
A rattle of pebbles behind caused him to jump, nerves jangling, whirling on the spot wand ready. One of the American volunteers stood behind him looking at the gruesome scene in the valley below, his mouth wide open, frozen to the spot.
Faulks pulled himself to his feet dusting off the clinging sand.
"We've dealt with the problem," he addressed the stuttering, pointing man who looked like he might be an American Auror. The man startled at the sound of Faulks's voice. "What?" he managed.
"The Nundu," Faulks carefully enunciated, "Mr Carrow has killed it. Do you want to explain to him that there's only one Nundu or shall I?"
The American Auror looked disbelievingly at him before giving the rapidly approaching figure of Carrow a long and wary stare, "I'll leave you to it," he smirked at Faulks before quickly apparating away.
"Coward," muttered Faulks to the empty air.
The briefing for the Nundu hunt was in full flow. The team Leader, an experienced and seasoned senior hit-wizard, stood at the front of the crowd on a plinth outlining his plan of action to tackle this very dangerous threat that was menacing villages along the edge of the desert.
The threat from this creature was immense, and he honestly didn't expect them all to survive. The last Nundu hunt he'd been involved in some forty years previously had resulted in the loss of eighty-two lives. He was quite pleased with the quality of the team that he'd been able to assemble, though it was very irritating that the two British wizards had wandered off; very irresponsible of them with such a dangerous creature in the area. Frankly he wasn't expecting to see either of them alive again.
A disturbance at the back of the gathering started, and the crowd of aurors, hit-wizards and professional adventurers parted revealing the armoured monstrosity the British had sent. Beside him was the other member of the British team wearing the strangest outfit he'd ever seen; what was that rubber thing hanging around his neck? Behind them, on the edge of the crowd was the corpse of a huge male Nundu, intestines spilling out across the desert sands.
The over-armoured giant sauntered forward, light footed and virtually silent in his massive suit of overly ornamented armour, obviously very pleased with himself.
"I and my assistant have disposed of one of the beasts," the ridiculously large man announced. "If you would be so good as to direct us to the rest of the infestation?"
The team-leader gulped nervously at the challenging glare the green-eyed nut-case directed at him, his eyes watering from the nerve-jangling whine the man's armour seemed to produce. How did he explain there was only one Nundu?
Chest heaving, the large and scrawny dog pulled its bedraggled form out of the cold waves and on to the pebbled beach. It rested for a moment before staggering to its feet and having a good shake, shedding cold sea-water in a huge spray, leaving its fur sticking up in all directions. For the first time in a decade Sirius Black was free from Azkaban and the oppressive influence of the dementors. He'd almost forgotten what it felt like to feel happy. The sea of pent-up emotions threatened to overwhelm him in a lethal deluge he had little hope of surviving with his sanity intact.
He had to keep it together, he had to concentrate; two important things, the rat traitor, and Harry, little Harry his beloved godson. Unbidden despair and yearning rose in throat, threatening to undo him. He swallowed them back. He needed to keep going, to catch the traitor, for Harry's sake.
Trotting further inland he had a decision to make. Did he go looking for Harry first, or did he go to Hogwart's and wait for the arrival of the rat? He didn't know where Harry was living, but he did know both his godson and the rat would end up on September 1st. Decision made, he turned his nose north and started to lope along.
"Don't worry Harry! I'm coming for the traitor, I'll save you!" he panted to himself as he ran.
The one-year anniversary of his disappearance from No.4 Privet Drive was, in Carrow's opinion, the perfect date to reconnect with his Dursley relatives. He was loath to miss the opportunity to cultivate useful contacts, particularly in the normal, mundane world. So here he was, striding up the path of No.4, with its neatly trimmed lawn and immaculately laid out flower beds, carrying a bag of token gifts for his estranged remaining family. It felt distinctly odd to be in this place he had so many memories of again; memories that he remembered vividly, but at the same time were distant and remote as if they belonged to someone else, and here he was standing in the middle of them
Shaking off the introspection, he carefully pushed the doorbell, trying not to accidently crush it like he had the Granger's. The distant chime quickly summoned the soft thunk, thunk of heeled shoes on carpet. The door cracked open revealing his aunt Petunia, tall and thin, with a long neck, horsey face and carefully coiffured hair. She had completed her visage of lower-middle class respectability with a sensible floral dress, pearls and shiny white court shoes. Her glare was suspicious as she took in the man she was sure wasn't in the least bit respectable.
"Good morning, Aunt Petunia." Carrow rumbled at the woman, his best friendly smile in place. "It's such a pleasure to see you again."
The woman's eyes went wide in shock her hand flying to her mouth as she realised exactly who her mysterious visitor was. Her breathing hitched oddly as she took in his appearance more closely; Carrow was mildly offended as he'd taken great pains to dress smartly. He had wanted to make a good impression on his remaining relatives after all. Petunia Dursley's eyes rolled back in their sockets, and she gracefully crumpled to the floor.
Carrow exchanged puzzled looks with the nosy neighbour who was peering over the fence and shrugged.
Eyes blinking rapidly, groaning softly Petunia came round to confusion as to why she was horizontal, lying on her own settee. She remembered folding laundry, and then the door-bell went so she answered it...and there was a strange man...realisation poured over her sluggish thoughts like a bucket of ice-cold water. Her nephew had been at the door...except he was no longer a boy. Something...unnatural was going on.
"Are you quite well, Aunt Petunia?" an impossibly deep and gravelly voice rumbled from the other side of the room.
Startled, Petunia sat bolt upright staring at the man with his outrageous outfit, like a cross between a Nazi SS officer and a Gothic convention. What would the neighbours think? The shame! And he was so unnaturally large...and definitely a man so how could he be her horrible nephew...but he had the face of that arrogant bastard who'd stolen her sister away...Lily's eyes...but they were so cold and lacked the warmth and humanity that Lily's had always had, even after the worst of their arguments. They reminded her of a documentary she had once seen with tigers filmed in the wild, hunting. They had had the same gleam in their eyes as they locked on to their prey.
"GET OU..." she began.
"I have brought you a little something. I'm sure you were very worried about my sudden disappearance," the giant man-monster rumbled pressing a bouquet of flowers into her arms. "I came to reassure you I was alive and well, to...reacquaint myself with you." He sat back smiling that awful smile. "I've not seen you for so long."
Petunia looked down at the bouquet of beautiful peach roses just opening their blooms, fronds of frothy foliage, and sprigs of tiny white flowers she couldn't quite remember the name of.
"I hope you find them acceptable." the monster rumbled. Petunia gave him a sickly smile.
Petunia nervously clattered around in the kitchen preparing tea and a plate of biscuits for her unwanted guest, slapping oversized fingers away from their exploration of the toaster and fending off questions about the function of the various kitchen appliances. She had no idea what a machine spirit was, or where in the microwave it lived; she only used the blasted thing. When the giant nuisance started opening cupboards and getting even more in the way, she had shooed him out.
As she finished bringing everything through to the lounge she distinctly heard the man padding around upstairs as he moved from room to room. Gritting her teeth she stormed up the stairs intending to give her unwanted guest a piece of her mind. The sooner Vernon arrived home from work the better.
There was silence and Petunia looked around the landing in confusion. She was sure she had heard him only a moment ago. Nothing appeared out of place, a quick peek through the open doors of the bedrooms revealed everything in order. Petunia did a double take; the door of that room was ajar. Heart in her mouth she tentatively pushed it open further, the cat-flap rattling slightly with the movement.
Her nephew stood in the middle of the room, back to the door, staring intently at the thin ratty mattress on the ramshackle bed.
"It seems strange," he murmured in his low voice, "that just a year ago to you I was lying on this bed just there," he reached down tracing his fingers over one end of the vacant bed. Turning to Petunia he continued, "It has been nearly three hundred years for me."
"What?" Petunia snapped confused and frightened by this strange man.
"Quite," his lips curled in to a small smile.
Things had not improved when Vernon and Dudley had returned home. Maybe-Harry had short-circuited Vernon's anger, much to Petunia's relief, shaking his uncle's hand with a sound of extreme tailoring under enormous pressure and presenting her husband with a bottle of expensive Scotch. Such a generous and unexpected donation of his favourite tipple had reduced Vernon to dark glares and occasional muttering. As for the chocolate the dangerous man presented Dudley with, her son had happily claimed it without comment and quickly set about tearing the wrapper off and demolishing the contents. Her son's tendency to accept sweets from anybody and everybody was a source of constant worry for Petunia but none of her lectures seemed to get through to her little darling. And so the afternoon wore on, in uncomfortable silence and stilted conversation, as every so often one of them got up the courage to ask the enormous man about his life, the stifling silence broken only by the sound of teacups on saucers, the occasional slurp of coffee and the munching of biscuits.
Petunia watched warily as Allesandor Carrow, as he'd explained he was called now, sipped his coffee daintily, little finger sticking out, the ruby eyes of his skull ring glinting in the bright summer sunshine. She wished he would stop smiling like that; it was quite unnerving, especially since she had the horrible suspicion he was trying to put them at their ease, to be nice to them.
Dudley scratched his bottom while outside the sound of No.6 getting his petrol mower started, drifted in through the open window. Dust motes danced in the sunlight that shone in through the window, much to Petunia's disgust.
The man had every right to rant and rave, to be angry with them. They had treated him appallingly, given him the bare necessities, had worked him hard with chores and deliberately rubbed his nose in the fact that his cousin never went without while he had nothing. Why wasn't Carrow howling his rage; or was he just waiting for the right moment?
Vernon shifted uneasily on the settee and a fly buzzed drunkenly across the room; all the while the sun worked its way across the sky, the shafts of sunlight streaming through the ruffled lace curtains, marching across the lounge carpet.
"We didn't treat you right," Petunia blurted out, the elephant in the room finally getting to her. Vernon's head whipped round as he glared at her, incredulous that she would actually admit to such a thing.
"We...we neglected you and...and belittled you...and..." Petunia ground to a stuttering halt. Nervously clearing her throat, she continued "I can understand if you're angry with us," she whispered fearing the man's explosion.
Carrow looked at her thoughtfully, head tilted. "My childhood was no better and no worse than thousands of others. I had food, shelter, clothes on my back and a basic education. I have nothing to complain about; many people experience far worse."
"But..but..." Petunia stuttered.
Carrow raised an eyebrow, his acidic green gaze boring into her, corroding her reticence.
"We bullied you," she whispered, "because...because you were like your parents...magical," she shuddered at the terrible world which had only, in her eyes, brought misfortune to her family.
"We should have drowned you in a bucket," Vernon muttered under his breath.
"Yes, you should," Carrow stated flatly. Vernon stuttered frantically, face a funny putty colour.
"The question is; why didn't you?" Carrow asked, teeth glittering dangerously.
Unable to answer Vernon glared pale face beginning to rapidly colour in a blotchy display. Carrow leaned forward, his eyes intent. "It is the God-Emperor given duty of every person to eliminate the threat of the rogue psyker, to safe-guard humanity's existence. You knew what I was, yet you decided to stay your hand. Curious."
Vernon whimpered slightly as Carrow leaned back, the over-stuffed and frilly chintz chair creaking ominously.
"The fact is, for some misguided reason you showed me some sort of mercy," Carrow mused into the painful silence. "I sense the presence of the God-Emperor's hand in all this."
"What?" stuttered a bewildered Vernon who was floundering well out of his depth in this strange conversation.
Carrow sighed at the need to give simple explanations to simple people, "You let me live, you sent me to that school and then you locked me in that room. If you hadn't done all that then I would not be sitting in front of you the man I am today."
Smirking at his large and pasty uncle Carrow continued "Your moral failings had a use after all."
Vernon began to colour up, spluttering in indignation; he was a highly respectable member of society, far more than the dangerous lunatic sitting in front of him sipping coffee.
"Right," snapped Petunia, "I think that is the end of this conversation." She glared at the two men. "Such an unsuitable subject to discuss in front of Dudley."
Bewildered and increasingly bored by the adult conversation Dudley had long since recovered from his initial fear of the large and terrifying man who'd invaded his family's home. He was having extreme difficulties associating this man with his scrawny cousin who'd been able to freely menace just a year ago. It was very hard work and that was one thing that Dudley avoided at all cost. His mind wandering to what he'd really like to be doing at this instance in time he scooped up the nearby TV remote. One of his favourite programs should be starting very soon.
"...a warning to the general public. An escaped serial killer is on the loose having absconded from prison yesterday. Sirius Black is highly dangerous and should not be approached in any circumstances. Any sightings should be reported to the police on this special hotline..."
Carrow stared at the pict-caster disbelieving and furious beyond words.
"...in other news..."
"Now wait a minute," a riled-up Vernon shouted at the television, "what prison did he escape from? Stupid news, never gives all the information."
"Azkaban," Carrow growled, grinding out the word, "he escaped from Azkaban."
"Never heard of it," Vernon snapped.
"It's the Wizarding prison," Petunia blurted out, hand flying to her mouth in shock at what she had just said. Vernon stared at her eyes bulging.
"It is indeed." Carrow murmured standing, and slowly pacing in the small empty space in front of the window effectively blocking the sunshine from the room, the illumination from the television eerily gleaming off the various skulls decorating his person. Finally he turned to Petunia.
"Do you know what Mr Black is supposed to have done?"
Petunia shook her head nervously.
"He is supposed to be the person to have betrayed my biological parents' location to the...Dark Lord," Carrow's face was blank of any emotion, "except there was never a trial and I have been unable to find any evidence to show that the man was at any point questioned."
"Typical wizards," Vernon muttered in the background.
Carrow smirked at him, "quite."
Petunia could feel the grief she'd viciously stamped down after finding out about her sister's untimely demise slowly raising its ugly head again, creeping up behind her. She was jolted from her increasingly miserable introspection when her nephew knelt in front of her, clasping her hands in his massive and surprisingly warm ones.
"Auntie," he murmured gently, his eyes intense and serious, "I will find out what happened and who was responsible, and I will keep you informed of my findings."
Petunia gave her huge nephew a watery smile.
"Thank-you," she whispered.