Fanfiction – A Way of Life
The disappearance of Harry James Potter was a mystery that sent the Wizarding World into frenzy and Voldemort took advantage of the frenzy to resurrect his former strength and grandeur. Now, several years later, Dumbledore is forced to look to the outside for additional assistance and contracts one of the strongest Mercenaries in the business as protection. Only, his past is the same enigma that he is and Nymphadora Tonks seems to make it her goal to unravel the mystery around him. Will she like what she discovers?
Harry Potter / Nymphadora Tonks / Possible Narcissa Black
Chapter One –
A sigh escaped his lips while staring amongst these particular ancient ruins hidden in the middle of a singularly difficult forest to scout out. "Why is it that Newborn Covens are always created in ancient ruins that are difficult to infiltrate instead of warehouses that are simple to gain entrance to? Every damn time I'm contracted to kill them too…" The man lamented to no one in particular before a chilling voice replied in a cordial enough tone.
"Because these foolish so-called ancient vampires believe them to be well protected… You know this as well as I do, master." A large magical construct rumbled out in a deep voice. "That and, you yearn for a mission befitting your lazy nature – simple and easy to accomplish."
The man sighed as he turned to eye his magical construct. A being of large size, easily approaching the nine foot mark, came into his sight. Its body consisting of an elongated spine tapered off at pelvic bone that had six ribs – three on left and three on right – lining the spine until the head came into view. The head was, in all actuality, four centric skulls with three circling the middle like a mane on a lion. From the neck, two shoulders sprouted off like a human's for two arms that had four centric spikes along the outer edge of them with long rigid and bony fingers that were consistently half-clenched. A pair of massive skeletal wings sprouted from the back of the being's upper spine, tapered off at fine points that would make a sharpened, gleaming dagger cry with envy, the joints holding steadfast with no cohesive additive involved.
The being radiated a visible, chilling blue, hazy aura that made all around it discernibly shiver as though it were a concentrated blizzard throughout its master's piercing grey stare.
"I cannot fault you there Bones. Not one bit." The man erupted into uproarious laughter in his deep voice. "If I could have it my way, we wouldn't have to work for a single Knut, penny, shilling, or by any other monetary assets the world at large may go by."
"If I had eyes I would roll them master." Came the dry reply of the newly-dubbed Bones.
"Yes, but you don't Bones." The man replied with amusement lacing his words. The duo sank into an amiable silence as they strode – floating in Bones' case – through foliage both dead and alive alike silently. They quickly reached a small overhang of what appeared to be a dark and murky pond with the objective area across from them, the Ruins.
At the sight, the man thought back to when he was getting the mission description.
Flashback, Several Hours Ago
"So you're the infamous mercenary known as The Infernal?" A well-oiled and polished voice asked in amusement. The voice came from a well-dressed, average individual. He was clean-shaven, had short black hair, a light tan and beady black eyes that stared across from the u-shaped booth in a respectable bar that occasionally had not-so-respectable business opportunities pop up.
A snort reached the man's ears from the black cloaked and hooded individual who sat across from him and bristled in irritation at the thought of wasting precious time. "I'm known as The Infernal but it's constantly annoying to hear. You would not believe how many times I've had to forcefully ensure that they don't call me by that damnable title. Good liquor here though." He drank from a glass bottle that the business man couldn't discern what the contents were.
"Then what shall I call you?" Came the curt reply of the now calmer man. He understood the man's irritation for the title; it created fame and that generated unwanted attention – the same for his position.
"Call me Ferdinand." Ferdinand replied. The man caught a hint of an English accent to the robed man's words catching his attention but merely filed it away and chose not to speak on it.
He nodded. "Very well Ferdinand. You may call me Gregory." Gregory looked once around more and pulled out a wand to cast a ward against unwanted ears. "Now that we can be sure that no one can listen. I have a job I need completed out in the forests of Argentina or more specifically, just north of Rawson."
Ferdinand chuckled, inducing a quirking eyebrow of Gregory's. "That's all people contact me for – jobs." Gregory, highly amused, chuckled as well before continuing.
"Alright, the job I need you to complete is a simple extermination in the forest. I have heard whispers from the locals and seen evidence of Newborn Vampires in the area. I need you to go down and exterminate them and whoever created them."
After a moment's deliberation, Ferdinand commented, "What will be the reward in the long run and I expect you desire proof of extermination?"
Gregory grinned widely showing pearly-white teeth. "Very astute of you and to the point, no less. Why can't more advisors be more like you…?" He muttered underneath his breath before continuing, "I believe the fangs of each Newborn you slay, along with the one creating them. You can keep anything else of them you can harvest. If not possible, then I will be able to make assurances in such an occurrence." He hummed for a moment. "I believe about one-thousand five-hundred galleons is appropriate for the job, no?"
A sound stuck in Ferdinand's throat at the amount. It was insane for an amount that high for a simple extermination and at the current going rates for the Americas and Britain – the two places he frequented the most – was approximately one galleon for fourteen dollars and ninety cents or just under ten pounds. At one-thousand, five-hundred galleons, that amounted to a fairly substancial amount of money.
"That much for a simple extermination?" Ferdinand's voice rang with shock.
"Of course. My country will not suffer from forces that can be… taken care of. I believe you will complete this by the end of the week?" Gregory frowned at the thought of his country suffering before grinning at the black-robed man's response.
"A week? You think I'm that weak?" He snorted. "I may not particularly like having to work but this job won't take more than a day, two if unforeseen complications arise. Where will I meet you when the job is done?"
"I will find you if you traverse to Rawson after the extermination." Gregory bid him a fair day after shaking Ferdinand's hand and proceeding to exit the bar.
"What did you think of him Bones?" Ferdinand murmured under his breath as a faint blue hazy mist flowed out, only visible to magical folk yet faint enough that only he saw the mist.
A moment passed in silence. "He was honest in his pursuits. Also, he seems to be of higher stature than what we imagined and honorable enough to be above using covert operations to eliminate you after the deed has been written."
A shrug of the shoulders came from Ferdinand. "At least we won't have to work for a while afterwards…"
"That's the same thing you said before you were chased out of Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Nicaragua and numerous others for… significant reasons. Need I continue?" Bones dryly stated.
"Oh shut up Bones."
"Bones." Ferdinand's voice called.
A blue, chilling haze wafted through the air until it engulfed the ruins, even going so far as to penetrate into the ground several hundred feet. Instantly the haze cleared away once Bones snapped his head up.
"This is the area we were contracted to slay the Newborns. Currently, they are resting deep underground in the midst of a large entity that I cannot identify, only classified as hazardous due to the vast amount of black magic centralized around it." He nodded his head thoughtfully at the description. They had their work cut out for them.
"And the amount of Newborn Vampires?"
A bone-popping sound came from Bones as the magical construct materialized a large axe with multiple sharp bone segments with the final one having a sharp and curved edge to it that floated out several inches from the other before contracting inwards upon itself, giving it the appearance of an actual – albeit, exotic appearing – axe for a brief moment. All of the segments gleamed with the smallest amount of light reflecting off of them. The handle was bone, an elongated femur bone to be precise.
"Twenty-seven." Bones replied curtly. Now was the time for battle, not for simple pleasantries such as speech.
Ferdinand curtly nodded once before rising to his full height of 5'11'', black hooded cloak billowing in the non-existent breeze, eyes alight with a grey inferno. This was his area of expertise and by god; he did it with a grace and skill unmatched by any and all in his line of profession.
He strode with a purpose, leaping off of the small overhang onto the now solely dead foliage, briskly striding towards the ruins of the old crypt. Soon he reached the entrance of the under kept, partially collapsing building and saw a glowing seal pulsating in the middle of the entrance.
The seal itself had six parts to it; the initial four depicting a wind breeze on each corner, the bottom two and top two nearly touching if not for the pulsating line running through the middle of the seal. The remaining two parts were in the shape of a sideways diamond, centric and flowing swirls circling the very center of the seal – three swirls making up a large swirl with the pulsating blue line stopping at the top and bottom of the swirl as though going through it.
No words were spoken between the companions as Bones stood watch with an intensity to rival a basilisk's for his master. Ferdinand studying the seal on the door for a brief few moments before pulling out a deep gray wand with Celtic vines encircling the handle – the same color as Bones' bones. He rapped it once, twice, thrice upon each of the individual swirls.
The swirls spun as if they were forced to in a counter clock-wise manner, a series of inner-locking mechanisms unlatching themselves before the stone door rumbled open, running itself into an alcove of the wall. He narrowed his eyes.
"That was far too easy. Even a second year Hogwarts student could have broken into here…"
Bones voiced his opinion in response, "There is the possibility remaining that the seal was not meant to keep us out, but to keep what resides inside, in."
The black robed man nodded before wordlessly casting a variant of the Light Charm, Lumos. A golden orb whizzed ahead of the party, illuminating the dust and cobweb covered room except for the ground that was littered with foot imprints in the dust.
That was only more evidence in Ferdinand's storm grey eyes that this was the crypt his contractor had specified about.
They entered cautiously, moving with nary a sound towards the stairs leading to the bowels of the underground portion of the crypts. Bones took the initial step first followed by master as they descended far underground where the air grew dank and musty from years of no fresh air to replace the old.
It took a good portion of an hour to finally descend far enough to reach the end of the old dusty staircase before the smell assaulted them. More specifically, Ferdinand.
Rotting flesh and the scent of both dried and fresh blood flowed unhindered by Bones' master, grunting as the smell reminded him far too much of the battles he partook in, willing them to stay just that.
Memories lost deep within the confines of his mind.
He shook his head in partial success to clear his mind of unwanted thoughts and focused on the job he was contracted to complete.
One of the four heads of Bones shifted towards his master and gave a glance that brought a pang of – dare he attempt to admit it in front of his master – emotion running through the magical construct's being. It had been far too long since he had any sort of close human contact with a significant other.
Bones was rattled out of his thoughts when one of his heads immediately began to chatter, bones clacking together ominously.
His master took a single cursory skim of the room – no, tomb they were currently within. The ground was littered with footprints in the several inch thick dusty flooring, cobwebs littering the tombs in alcoves to his left and right, and both wet and dry pools of blood on random intervals of the room. Despite the mess of blood, not a single corpse was found. A scoff was all that was heard before he strode forward towards the stone archway in-between his goal and himself, wand already at his side, ready to wield.
"How archaic…" Was all he uttered before whipping his wand at the stone blocking his way, blasting it into stone chunks that flew into the large room that it was guarding. A low growling noise, akin to that of a Hungarian Horntail's was heard first to the senses before a horrid stench of decay wafted through the musty air.
Without a moment's notice, Bones charged ahead, his bone-spike axe already in position to fight defensively or offensively giving his black-robed master a moment to regain his bearings before joining. What he saw was something only the darkest of magic could do to perverse such a magnificent beast to what it had become.
It was a dragon of immense size that was glaring balefully at them, a hint of agony in the far recesses of its ruby-red speckled black irises before it vanished. It rose to its full height and bellowed its rage at having intruders encroach upon its territory, its regal black scales rotting to the point of bone showing on various points on its body. The most prominent of those points being the joint connecting the front right leg to its body, the junction in which the left wing was connected nearly rotted off, decaying holes spattered on its right ribbed wing, the left lucky enough to avoid such injuries. Chest cavity was protected by clearly visible breast bones.
Ferdinand shook off his evaluating gaze of the injuries the great beast sustained and gave a cursory glance over of the still dangerous assets the dragon sported. Once ivory white claws dimmed with blood yet still sharp enough to gleam in the blue haze Bones emanated, fangs that were chipped and rounded yet still sharp as daggers. One of its pitch black horns was cleanly shaved off halfway, the other blunted at its tip.
"Can't catch a damn break can I…?" He lamented before jumping into the fray of the battle, brandishing his wand with a practice only few in the mercenary business got to before meeting a fatal end. Looks like I'll have to start out strong too.
The dragon hissed in rage at the axe that just threatened to cleave its right wing off. It furled its wing at the last second, avoiding the axe for the most part, only having the outer edge of the wingspan hacked off. Bones laughed, the bone-rattling sound echoing amongst the mostly empty cavernous hall. The dragon hissed in fury as it whipped its tail in a lightning-quick manner, striking two of the four mane-heads.
A deafening crack reverberated in the air as Bones snarled, noting with glee that his master was joining the fight.
Whips of white-hot flame, spheres of flame and arrows alit with a purple flame cracked and flew from Ferdinand's wand, striking the unholy dragon on its muzzle, only just missing the eyes by several inches as the rest of its face was struck by its own element – flame. It roared in agony as the arrows penetrated flesh, flames flickered in its mouth before being spat out in-between gouts of white-tinged-blue flame.
Ferdinand cursed out a slew of profanities that would make a sailor blush; forming several shielding spells at once while Bones aimed to cleave the neck off of the once regal beast.
"Just another few seconds master!" Bones promised, swinging down the axe with all its might, intent on beheading the beast. Meanwhile, Ferdinand was sweating from the fierce heat brought by the roaring inferno. His two active shields – Corporis Scutum (Body Shield) and its variant Corporis Cuspis Scutum (Body-Point Shield) were barely holding back the roiling inferno and he dare not move for fear of the roiling conflagration hitting a weak point.
A loud squealing noise came from the dragon, the bone-spike axe only slicing past the first layer of rotting flesh before the beast lashed out, Bones still grasping the femur handle and holding it in place. The conflagration continued, threatening to burn Bones' bones at the wrestled for dominance. Finally, Bones had enough and struck with his right hand that became alight was ominous blue flames. As the bone struck scale, the flames licked and burned its left eye.
Through the haze of pain, it jerked away, swatting with its claws that induced several deep indents on the blackened bone. Bones glanced once to his master to check on his well-being before continuing on his crusade to butcher the unholy beast. As he charged, blue flames were left in his wake, several spells striking the dragon.
A wave of white fire originated from the dragon's location, charring the rotting flesh before a pillar of flame erupted underneath it, further burning the underside of the dragon. After the flames dissipated, Ferdinand cursed at seeing the lack of progress. His fire spells only succeeded in enraging the beast further.
In the moment the spell was released, the dragon clashed with bones, clamping down with its black fangs onto the shoulder of Bones' right arm. Flame erupted from its mouth, consuming the right side of Ferdinand's construct. Claws scraped and the tail lashed against any part of Bones it could attack.
The dragon felt the blue flames of Bones igniting upon itself, but was too far gone in its rage at being injured after so long. So long as it maimed the bony being, it was content.
"Hold him there Bones!" Ferdinand roared. His magical construct nodded and clamped onto the dragon's horn with its able arm and held it.
"I can't hold it for long!" Bones yelled back, already feeling the dragon slipping out of his grasp and range, his bone-spike axe on the ground next to him. Suddenly, the dragon's lone eye and muzzle exploded in a crimson mist by an overpowered Ossis Fractorem (Bone-Breaker). The dragon snarled in agony, before retreating once more. Bones followed in pursuit after retrieving his bone-spike axe in his left, intent on finishing the fight.
The duo clashed with deafening force once more, Bones retaining the upper hand of sight. He struck at the underside and legs of the dragon, hacking away at the softer scales and flesh.
Ferdinand panted from the exertion wielded from just managing to take out the eye and snout. Even if the being was undead, it didn't diminish the fact that its scales and flesh were still magically-resistant to a point that was nearly impossible to beat. "One more spell and this damn squabble should be done…"
He hoisted his grey wand towards the hall-like ceiling, casting his spell after warning Bones. "Move Bones! Iram Infernalium (Rage of the Infernals)!" Bones barely managed to loosen his grip and forcibly thrust the blue-flame ignited dragon back just before the spell took effect. Veritable black clouds formed, flaming meteors rained down from them and struck the dragon along with the surrounding area with deafening impacts.
From the impacts to the ground, infernal beings rose, animated from the rubble and green flame. The beings were simple, the rubble coming together to form a body stacked of boulders held together by flame. The face seemed to be crudely carved, narrowed eyes, two slits for nostrils and a face set in an eternally sinister grin.
They rose and charged like an army towards the dragon, the stomps earth-rumbling as they began bludgeoning the dragon to death. All throughout the infernal army charging and bludgeoning the dragon, the meteors still struck both the dragon and the surrounding area leaving the infernal army with an unlimited amount of reinforcements.
Dragon fire flared into existence, flooding the area in an ethereal, reddish-gold hue as it engulfed the infernal army. Bits of the infernal army fell away to pieces as the heat grew to extreme proportions. Ferdinand glanced once at his stalwart ally and met Bones' glance, both nodding.
The fight was over.
As quick as the dragon fire flared into existence, it stopped its pursuit of the army that no longer existed. The unholy dragon cast its head to and fro, hoping to catch a whisper of a rustling cloak, of the tell-tale crack of blue flame about the magical construct that hurt it so. Its eyes were unusable; the once impossibly keen nose that could pick a scent and track it for kilometers upon kilometers was nothing more than fragments; the fangs once treasured so were chipped and fractured to the point of not one of the blackened fangs were usable again.
Even its sense of taste – unconsciously its tongue out to taste the various smells that wafted through the air only to taste nothing but fire and brimstone and the stench of its own decay.
Not only that, but every part of the dragon was in some sort of agony from the army of green-lit rock demons that accosted it, snapping once ivory-claws, bludgeoning both its tail and wings to being unusable as well. The dragon ached and longed for its release to the void beyond. It hoped that these challengers would be the ones to bring the dragon's end, and it was right. But it would not accept death the coward's path and simply lie down, accepting death.
No – it would fight fang-and-claw, tooth-and-nail.
It bellowed its rage and challenge to the invaders of its final resting ground for its ending of years. As soon as the challenging snarl was concluded, any other noise was cut off as the bone-spike axe finished its job from earlier and decapitated the once proud and regal dragon's head from its decaying neck with ease from the initial slice.
Death… I'm free…
"Gods… I hate killing those majestic beings. It doesn't feel right." Ferdinand exhaled noisily, shaking his head while overlooking the corpse of the dragon.
"At the very least, it died how any of its race would have wanted – to die by a worthy challenger – a worthy opponent to accept its passage into the Nether." Bones philosophically stated before turning about to face his master. "Let us hasten the beast of honor's passage to the Nether."
Ferdinand nodded and pulled out his wand, pointing it at the corpse. Bones did the same, blue flame flickering about his axe. They struck, flames mixing to an extremely pale hue of cerulean as it ignited the once alive dragon.
Cerulean flame flickered and crackled, licking the corpse of the dragon as its body was used for fuel. Ferdinand turned and strode further down the crypt, ignoring how the vast majority of the room was left unscathed other than black soot. He cringed once at how hot the flames were and unconsciously tensed the singed and burnt parts of his body from the incredible heat of the flame.
"Let's finish our contracted job, Bones." The man murmured to his magical construct who merely nodded. "If we find the being that corrupted that dragon…" Storm-grey eyes flared into a different color that Bones did not catch before it vanished after the briefest of moments. "I will kill it by myself."
Bones merely inclined his head several inches, holding back the self-satisfied smirk on his face. "Of course master." His master had matured indeed and nothing pleased Bones more at that moment. Now if his master would only find a female companion…
Bones shook his head in amusement, his bones rattling in the motion. An amusing notion I must tempt him to pursue. Bones trailed after his master with as much of a bemused expression that could appear on a skeletal face, bones slowly mending and restoring back to former grandeur.
"Bones…" Ferdinand's voice called out. Bones stopped just before Ferdinand, a curious air growing about the magical construct.
"Where exactly are the vampires at from here?"
"…" He sighed. Just typical of his master…
"Follow me." Bones stated in a tired tone that suggested having to do such more times than necessary.
Thirty minutes passed in terse silence as the duo traversed deep underground catacombs. Inky blackness was all enveloping in the rectangular room they cautiously entered, Bones penetrating the blackness into the room first.
After a quick cursory and magical glance via blue mist, Bones barely managed to pick out two entrances to the room – stairs both descending and ascending. "Twenty paces ahead of us is a staircase descending down into the resting grounds for the Newborn Coven."
Ferdinand nodded once. "Let's finish this contract then." Bones hefted his bone-spike axe in response and strode forward. However, he immediately stopped, doing the same for his black-cloaked companion.
Before Ferdinand could object, Bones interjected in a near-silent voice, "Quiet master. There are traps littered in front of us that would, at best, bury us alive." The man checked, holding his wand and murmuring several words.
He swore violently.
"These traps are rigged to the point of impossibility to unravel! Not to mention –"Ferdinand's tirade was silenced by the soft patter of feet slapping against stone from both staircases and from the walls around them.
"My luck cannot be that bloody terrible."
"It appears battle is imminent from all sides." Bones growled. "I will personally crush the infidels that dare threaten us!" The construct snarled violently, losing all pretenses of his dry personality. "The descending stairway is where I take my stand! Prepare yourselves infidels, for attacking my master is tantamount to death." He hissed in rage, blazing blue flames bringing the dusty, cobwebbed room to light.
Ferdinand shivered once from Bones' loyal words before steadying himself for the ambush-turned-battle. Amidst the pitter-patter of feet slapping against the stone, the snarling then became evident followed by stone grating and rumbling. Slowly, two entrances opened on either side of the room and vampires flooded the room, charging the only warm source in the room – Ferdinand.
'Five, ten, fourteen… Eighteen, seven from the right and eleven from the left.' Ferdinand analyzed the imminent encounter in the briefest of seconds before smirking lightly. 'Easier than subduing a dragon.'
He simultaneously cast two spells he was partial to for simplistic reasons: Ignire (Ignite) and Sagitta Flamma (Arrow of Flame). Almost immediately conjured arrows wreathed in flame were impaled deep upon the chests and heads of the vampires closest to him, forming a barrier of sorts around him. Following the impalements, several on the left side of Ferdinand ignited into a white-hot bonfire.
The remaining vampires glanced with varying expressions; some with sorrow, others with pity, yet the vast majority ignored their fallen and proceeded to glare balefully at Ferdinand. They snarled, facial expressions set in a frenzied craze as they continued their pursuit.
'Oh crap…' Ferdinand swore when he saw the frenzied glaze settle over their eyes and face, ducking under outstretched and elongated, sharpened claws. Several grazed the tops of his black robe as he spun on his feet, casting several more Ignire at the ones closest away from him. He spun out of the way of offending limbs and took count of the remaining amount.
'Two… Eight… Twenty and more still?!' Ferdinand swore as more vampires began flooding into the room. He quickly noticed the foundation for several traps and moved to place them down, casting Inspiratione Percute, setting one of the two stone openings alight with a nova of fire extending down into the inky-blackness.
Blue flames caught his attention for a brief moment, catching how Bones was holding up against the strongest of the forces. His bone-spike axe was drenched in blood and gore, rib bones set in dried gore from the blazing heat with his fists in worse condition consisting of bits and pieces of cauterized flesh, bone that did not originate from him and bodily fluids abundant.
Ferdinand yelped in shock and slight pain as the cold touch of claws grazed past his robes and skirting across his chest leaving bloody furrows in their wake. With a smoldering glance, he brandished his wand diagonally and side-stepped away as the offending vampire fell in two pieces. While simultaneously dodging the offending limbs, he cast Effingis de Incendii (Construct(s) of Conflagration).
Several golems in the appearance of a wolf pack rose from the blue flame from Bones and charged the ascending staircase. They bit and snapped, igniting bloodthirsty vampires left and right. He spun out of the way of another vampire and watched with grim satisfaction as the smoldering ashes from the fallen began igniting those who stepped on them.
The Quatuor Virgultis (Brush of Ember) trap worked.
As he controlled whips of flame with simplistic ease, he marveled at how the coven was coming in droves yet was falling in flocks. For every five that fell from Ferdinand's mastery of fire, six more took their place yet half of them fell from the Quatuor Virgultis – a trap that used the smoldering embers in the ashes of previous burnings and ignited those who stepped on the ashes.
He shook off his thoughts and continued to dance through the weave of limbs, occasionally catching a glancing graze of teeth or claws, igniting the offender in flame or conjuring arrows wreathed in flame at a wave of charging children of the night.
Slowly, the battle began to come to a conclusion and the flurry of offending limbs and fangs began to ebb, becoming easier to dodge. "Bones!" Ferdinand roared over the din of snarls and hissing from the vampires. He caught the attention of the smoldering magical construct, "Fall back to the stairs!"
They slowly retreated, the remaining dark creature forces surged forward in fiendish glee as they assumed it was a move of weakness. While it was true that they were fatigued from the continuous battle for over fifteen minutes, it wasn't a showing of weakness.
No – it was preparation.
Bones covered the retreat, Ferdinand taking the front and inwardly grinned for having his golems clear out the ascending staircase. In a matter of seconds, Bones was holding off the remaining force as a stalwart shield, roaring in rage each time his bones were gouged and retaliated in force. Suddenly, in front of him arose a massive nova of fire, a pillar of fire extending outwards with it.
Screams roared in agony as the flames licked and burned with a vengeance.
Bones struck the last with a blue flame-wreathed fist and roared as his fist impacted the vampire. Blood coated the stairway that dried almost instantly.
"Can you detect anymore?"
"Only one in the bowels of these catacombs." Ferdinand sagged in relief and exhaustion for several moments. He caught his composure and reined in his fatigue for the time being. They slowly descended into the room, marveling at the amount of fire and ash scattered amongst the ground along with the blood and gore liberally coated where Bones took his stand.
After a brief triage and liberal healing spells, Ferdinand was ready for the mission to be over.
"I wonder how they managed to fool your detection." Ferdinand wondered aloud as they slowly descended farther down the catacombs, all the while musing inwardly on how Bones managed to heal to full functionality.
Bones growled at the thought. "They won't be able to fool it for long."
"Indeed. Now, how do you manage to recover from your injuries? I always wondered how you managed to heal from… that." He gesticulated amusedly at the gouges and cracked bones littered across Bones' body.
Bones snorted at his master. "If you would bother listening to my explanations after every ambush we find ourselves immersed in, you would know by now. And don't you dare try to pin Nicaragua on me." The magical construct turned and glared at the unruffled and amused companion.
"Likewise for Iceland my friend."
"It was one bonfire that you started!"
"It was your signature fire."
"You…" Bones glared violently at his master's tattered and ruined robe that still somehow managed to hide the clothing beneath before suddenly smiling in a – quite frankly – disturbing manner to Ferdinand. "Do you recall the one creature we subdued in South Africa – the safari one that I concluded?"
"You wouldn't dare…" Ferdinand paled in remembrance at how particularly volatile Bones was that specific day.
Not a pretty day to remember.
"If you do not become silent, I will."
"Okay, so where is this so-called leader of this Coven?" Ferdinand grumbled in annoyance at having to continuously trek through the inky blackness and horrendously musty and stale air, Bones recovering from earlier in a mist-like form inside newly repaired black robes.
"I would suggest you use caution when using hasty words about myself runt." A scratchy and deep baritone that implied old age intoned in an annoyed if not a somewhat arrogant tone. "And I wonder just why you thought it was an excellent idea to eliminate my Coven."
The voice bounced off of the narrow walls that were set in a hallway with low arches leading up to an unexpectedly large chapel-like room that looked ready for prayer. If not for the dried blood and limbs strewn across the cross at the head of the room, Ferdinand would have thought it ready for an actual mass with clean pews, columns that were a simplistic white and a gray theme following throughout the remainder of the room.
"It may be due to them charging me like wild, berserk berks. Or maybe it was because I was paid to eliminate a Coven threatening innocent townspeople." Ferdinand quipped back at the voice sounding far more ancient and clear with each Romanian-accented word it spoke.
A snarl answered his remark as an individual jumped down from the ceiling, a long black trench-coat flapping against the air. Smooth marble cracked as the voice's originator landed on the marbled platform in front of the cross.
The man – easily evident from the frame – rose from his crouch and held his head high, sniffing lightly at the air. "Oh-ho-ho… So it is a young runt this time. No more than… "He sniffed once more. "Eighteen, no less than fifteen. You've ingested an extremely small amount of an aging potion haven't you?" His voice turned accusing before continuing, ignoring the widening storm-gray eyes, "That always ruins the blood. It always turns the wondrous lifeblood to…" His well-cultured face frowned in distaste, "Something very… confusing and distasteful. Almost like a wine that has sat either too long or too little, yet yours has the scent of power behind it. You will be a magnificent banquet I'm sure." He stated in a conversational tone, ignoring the remark Ferdinand quipped earlier.
Ferdinand shook of his state of shock at Bones' mist that enveloped him heating up. This man – no, ancient, managed to accurately estimate and guess two of his most well-kept secrets ever since… He shook his head once more to clear his thoughts.
A clear mind was what he required facing this ancient vampire.
"Huh, that nose is strong of yours isn't it?" He tried keeping the shock to an absolute minimum as there was no hope of clearing all of it in such a short amount of time and this ancient was clearly expecting a response.
Please don't let him be who I think he could be…
"Of course it is runt. My name is Vladimir, more commonly known as Count Dracula to the – how do you call them nowadays… Muggles?" Ferdinand's mouth hung in shock as the progenitor of the Vampires stood in front of him.
That's worse! I hate my ruddy luck!
"Bah, you wizards are always too ephemeral and hasty. Regardless of what they are called by nowadays, we have an issue to meet and resolve youngling. You single handedly slaughtered my brethren, children and Coven although they did assault you first." Vladimir made a gracious showing by spreading his arms, showing a red-velvet buttoned shirt, black slacks and matching shoes. An intricate handle and guard of a long sword and scabbard were shown.
Vladimir was clearly enjoying the shocked silence of Ferdinand.
"I will allow you a three-sided choice with one mere requests in tow – either help me restore my, albeit bloodthirsty and mindless Coven by becoming a child of the night, fight me in a fit of melee combat or, if you feel lucky, attempt to cast a spell that I will dodge with ease and gut you similar to a stuck pig. Cast off your cloaked robe so I can gaze upon my newest challenger to my fullest."
"Follow through with his wishes, master. You have had the best training known to mankind." Bones' voice urged him to comply. "If worst comes to worst, I will assist you regardless of the rules the Count states."
Vladimir merely gave an air of amusement as he heard Bones' words. "Feel free to assist your master if you wish, but be warned; the moment you join the fight, Magical Apparition or whatever your form may be – I will proceed to fight my fullest. As it is right now, you'll need any handicap I'll allow you." The Count merely smirked, his regal, aristocratic face set in eager anticipation of a battle. "Now conjure your weapon and prepare yourself..." The Count's face looked expectant.
"Ferdinand." He stated curtly.
Ferdinand sighed before casting off his black robe, showing a tattered pair of black trousers with slash marks showing lightly tanned skin from the clash earlier. The Count's eyes trailed upwards, noting the white t-shirt in poor condition from his battle earlier as well – blood-speckled across the chest and gaping slashes in random patterns. Ferdinand's face was thin, sporting a strong jaw, storm-gray eyes, a small nose and thick black hair that trailed to the base of his average neck. Amidst the clothing was a thick blue, haze-like mist that surrounded and enveloped Ferdinand like a blanket. It slowly drifted away and coalesced into Bones' form, staring down the Count with a dragon-like gaze.
Overall, the appearance was that of a teenager in his late teens, both in shape and with eyes that bore experience and history behind them.
Vladimir grinned in interest. "Interesting… Your appearance, Ferdinand, suggests an older teenager, possibly an adult, yet your scent suggests something different. Not to mention how your magic seems to fold inwards upon your eyes heavily and in other centric spots along your body. Very curious…"
Shocked silence met Vladimir's response once again before Ferdinand found his voice, "I would have thought I would not be shocked again, but you have proved me wrong once again Vladimir Dracula." Ferdinand brandished his wand from his holster situated on his wrist and displayed Transfiguration that Vladimir wasn't expecting – his gray-bone wand hazed out of focus for a brief second before, almost shivering in the process, elongating into a simplistic (at first glance) long sword.
The blade itself was of a silvery-gray substance that matched Bones' hue and bone texture perfectly, yet gleamed and refracted the little light shown in the room from Bones' mist suggesting a sharp and stronger than norm blade. The hand-and-a-half handle was silver engraved with three sets of initials that sprawled the length of the handle like a Celtic vine that even Vladimir was hard-pressed to read. The guard was small, only reaching out half an inch to either side of the double-edged blade. The color was only slightly darker than the blade itself.
Vladimir grinned widely showing pearly-white fangs. "I will enjoy this very much so. Oh, so very much. Even your stance suggests proficiency with the blade you're wielding. I will allow you the initial strike – impress me afterwards and I might allow you to leave with your life intact and holy." His chuckles sent shivers down Ferdinand's back before drawing his intricate, silver-engraved blade that seemed to shine despite the light being nonexistent.
"Oh, and light this room up shall you…?"
"Ah. Very observant name…"
Ferdinand couldn't shake a growing grin despite the odds being placed far against him as Bones lit up the room for him. Blue flames flickered above the chandelier both lighting the candles and staying motionless in small orbs around the ceiling.
"Well, I'm getting older here. Are you going to attack anytime soon, Ferdinand?" Count Dracula drawled at Ferdinand who merely analyzed the Count's laidback and relaxed posture.
Stormy-gray eyes rolled as the analytical session concluded. "You're already – what, several centuries old? You still look like a forty year-old muggle."
"I'm not a few centuries, per say. But do hurry, or I will start the fight and you will not live to see outside of these rather dull catacombs." Vladimir glowered.
Posture is relaxed yet muscles are tense, primarily the triceps and calves. Should I try that combo – no, that one will do.
Ferdinand nodded, grin still in place while beginning the fight. He charged, sword held firmly in his right, left ready to grip the hand-and-a-half handle should the occasion call. Count merely nodded approvingly as he studiously noted each stride, each muscle rippling with movement and each and every inch of his right and left arms – specifically the hand-and-a-half bone-sword.
He swung diagonally across the Count's chest and sliced true. "This will be a fight for me to remember!" Dracula roared in glee as he took a jagged gash across the chest, opening a deep wound that bled an odd red-black ichor.
Within a matter of a brief few milliseconds his left-hand darted forward, unsheathed the intricate silver-engraved blade and parried the follow-up strike from Ferdinand that aimed to cleave him from right hip to left shoulder-bone. Sparks sprung from the swords grating from one another as Count grinned savagely.
"Strong blow youngling ah-ha-ha-ha!"
"You yourself aren't too bad. Maybe your old age hasn't degenerated your skills through the ages!" Ferdinand quipped back with an equal grin.
A match between two proficient in swordsmanship was rare, and Dracula and Ferdinand were going to savor it – no matter the outcome.
"Enough chatting already!" Count snarled, throwing Ferdinand back after the brief clashing with a fierce kick to the ribs. It was hard enough to crack ribs and by the way Ferdinand grimaced, it was. Only mere moments passed before the distance of several feet was crossed in succinct strides by the Count before he struck to decapitate Ferdinand.
He side-stepped underneath the blade, feeling the wind disruption as the blade suddenly swung downwards to cleave him in two. While the Count was momentarily occupied with his blades descent, Ferdinand lashed out. His bone-blade struck with all the force of a two-handed blade that was only blocked before any fatal damage was done, dealing a half-of-an-inch incision alongside the Count's ribcage.
Swords drew back and clashed once again with deafening clangs. The fight evolved into something akin to a dance – one was constantly spinning, ducking and parrying while the other was stalwart and unyielding, yet flowed better than water itself from the experience of centuries worth of experience. The clashes between the two displaced sparks, inciting punches, knees, elbows and all manner of physical combat to break the other's concentration.
Soon, the brief thirty-second clashes turned to minute-long clashes. Before long, the clashes lasted turned to long blocks of time with no brief breaks in-between.
As the time passed, Bones watched with trepidation. His master was fighting one of the two progenitors for the children of the night – the Vampire. Ferdinand swung high, twisting the blade at the last second to score a grazing strike, swaying like a tree in the wind to avoid losing his chin from the Count's blade swinging upwards with a whistling noise accompanying it.
He watched and waited for the moment he would be able to assist his master and fight back the Count who appeared to be toying with him at times, gritting his teeth and putting in effort at other points of the fight.
"My, my youngling – color me impressed. Even debilitating myself by going at half-strength, you managed to deal fairly impressive strikes against my being. Not to mention dealing several devastating blows that would've crippled and killed lesser beings than myself, to me." Count Vladimir Dracula drawled in a faintly praising voice without even sounding fatigued despite the red-black ichor flowing unopposed from a light cut atop his left eye; a punctured lung that Ferdinand was sure to at least slow the unmovable and unstoppable mountain; numerous brief scratches and grazing blows that turned the once expensive dress-shirt and black coat to tattered clothing. The gash from his chest was already doing the impossible and scabbing.
Ferdinand, on the other hand, was in far worse condition – covered in black and blue bruises nearly from head to toe, a gaping wound from a sword thrust situated underneath his right shoulder-bone, a deep, jagged gash that showed evidence of being cleaved from left shoulder to right hip. His muscled front – easily visible from the rags that once were a comfortable shirt – were mottled with patches of skin in all shades of black, blue, and purple not to mention the welts and cracked skin amongst the mottled skin.
Those were simply the worst of the injuries.
He was hunched over, using the bone-blade as support while he raggedly drew shaky breaths. "As it appears you have a strong mental will as well to resist the temptation of giving into the paradise of the blackened void of unconsciousness. Color me surprised once more, but give up youngling. You are quickly encroaching death's veil and if you do not stop, I will gladly assist you in passing across the void." Ferdinand weakly glared at the guffawing Count, drawing himself to his full height along with his sword in position to readily strike.
"I am not finished yet!" Ferdinand snarled in rage as the Count seemingly ignored him – labeled as non-threatening. A visible dark-blue aura slowly became visible, piquing the interest of the ancient. It whipped around Ferdinand, almost like a flame would lick and bite wood yet it did no visible damage that he could detect.
Ferdinand himself felt enraged at the fact that the Count was passing him over. How dare he pass him over simply because of something as easily ignored as fatigue? He would show him the folly of his uncaring words.
As rage swept over him, he saw red and felt stronger. Wounds began to feel as if they were closing and, at the least, stop bleeding. His muscles became invigorated with new-found strength, his exhaustion and fatigue swept away with ease as he felt warmer – almost as if a bonfire crackled around him and welcomed him as if he were a long-lost friend.
He charged the surprised Count, whipping his bone-sword from the right to the Count's left side with ease and caught the silver-wrought blade instead. With a feral growl, he slammed his head against the unsuspecting Vladimir's own. The skulls impacted each other with a loud smacking sound.
As Vladimir backed up in shock at the newly-found vigor of his opponent, he didn't catch the blade thrusting towards his heart. With a vicious snarl and copious swearing, he realized he couldn't stop the blade in time, merely change the position in which the blade would penetrate his flesh. After the briefest moments of deliberation, he ducked and side-stepped to the left and caught the sharp edge of the bone-blade gouging open the flesh near the junction where neck met shoulder.
His right arm was worthless now.
Ferdinand felt the magic slowly ebb and moved to finish the fight, he barely parried an overhead swing from Vladimir before spinning out of the sword's reach as it curved quickly to cleave him from shoulder to hip-bone. He felt blood begin to pool once more from his already existing chest wound before blocking a flash of steel with more than a little difficulty aimed for his neck.
With little time to spare before a boot slammed itself against his solar-plexus, he crouched before leaping in the air and landing onto the outstretched leg and lashed out with his own kick towards the Count's angered face. His left leg impacted and he felt a savage glee in the cracking impact before he felt cold steel slice across his right calf.
He fell to the ground in a seemingly crumpled heap, wounds catching up to him.
Vladimir strode with vengeance on his side and grasped Ferdinand by his shoulders and set a smoldering glare in the half-lidded gray eyes. "You fought well, but ultimately failed." His mouth opened wide showing bloody bared fangs that were ready to bite into Ferdinand's jugular.
"Now your life is in my… Oh, very impressive youngling." He duly noted with slight trepidation as he felt cold steel at the base of his spinal cord. It pressed with stronger force and he gave as much of a praising nod as he could.
"Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" His laughter sang out boisterously as Ferdinand weakly glared through half-lidded eyelids. "Very well, Ferdinand. You have earned my respect and followed my rules showing at least some courage if not total foolishness. I will allow you to leave these catacombs and will personally leave South America back to my homeland: Romania." Vladimir laid Ferdinand onto the ground with respect evident in the gesture as the bone-blade fell to the ground with a deafening 'clang.'
Count Vladimir Dracula disappeared in a mist of black smoke that dissipated amongst the air.
Despite the circumstance a wry smirk found its way onto Ferdinand's face as Bones rushed forward to assist him out of the stale and musty environment. "Heh… I won against one of the strongest vampires to walk the Earth. But," He coughed up blood as he felt air whistle past him from Bones' swift ascent of the stairways.
"At least it isn't Nicaragua."
"Only you would joke about that. Only you would master." Light amusement laced Bones' dry reply.
Ferdinand stared intently at Bones for several minutes. It was long enough to make the magical construct feel as if he were being judged and asked why he was being so studiously stared at.
"How in the seven circles of hell did you manage to heal yourself without me knowing again?"
"Of all the questions you ask, it's that one." Bones sighed.
"Right… "He replied drunkenly, much to Bones' delight. That always led to both amusing situations – for his master the vast majority of the time – and for his magic to actively work in overdrive to heal him to full health. "I'm going to sleep now… "
Bones sighed in disappointment.
It appeared the amusing situation would occur against him this time…
One Day Later, Late-Afternoon
Ahh, I so do love my magic. And Fire-Whiskey – brilliant stuff that'll help me get through the night without going insane with paranoia. Ferdinand exhaled, appeased as he drank a long draught of Fire-Whiskey, enjoying the burning sensation of the liquid going down his throat. It was an exhausting morning after meeting with the Minister of Magic – the Southern American version after his magic worked overtime to heal his grievous injuries.
But, imagine his surprise when it was Gregory, the man who hired him to clear out the Coven, who revealed himself as the Minister of Magic of South America – Gregory Samuelson, his full name.
Six Hours Ago, Late-Morning
A loud rapping on a door roused Ferdinand from his deep slumber. He opened his eyes and winced as he felt the aftermath of the showdown from yesterday.
Bones must've taken me here to the hotel room I rented out. I wonder how the Ministry of Magic in South America dealt with a large nine foot shambling hunk of bones rattling down the streets to the Hotel... Ferdinand mused at the reactions Bones received. He rose from the bed and ignored the ache from his body while transfiguring the bed sheets into a pair of trousers.
He heard the rapping against the door once again and yelled, "Give me a minute!" The rapping silenced enough for him to meander over to the door while putting on a gray shirt and opened the door. Ferdinand was met with an amused glance from the man who contracted him – Gregory.
Only, it wasn't just him this time.
He had a full contingent of Aurors with him.
"Hello Ferdinand." He jovially greeted as the Aurors rushed into the rather nice Hotel room with a view overlooking the city of Rawson.
"Ah shit." Ferdinand resigned himself to having to run but asked, "So what'd my fellow companion accomplish to risk a full contingent of Aurors? Or was it me?" He saw Gregory's head shake with a dry chuckle. "It was Bones wasn't it?" Ferdinand accused his companion who was currently unavailable.
Rotten companion indeed. I'll remember this when he gets us chased out of another Country.
"Actually, it was a shambling hunk of bones held together by a blue haze-like mist holding you bridal style. We had quite a few complaints when the Muggles saw him last night." Gregory amusedly commented, smartly crossing the threshold into the room and plopped onto a plush, red-velvet couch that sat near the windows just opposite of the bed. "I'm assuming that the Magical Entity was your companion, Bones. Very apt name." Gregory commented with a slight snigger.
"I thought so as well. But one thing is bugging me; why is there a full contingent of Aurors storming my Hotel room when I'm recovering from your contracted mission?" Ferdinand asked, still wary of a possible ambush.
"Oh calm down Ferdinand. It's only proper for a full contingent to accompany the Head Minister of Magic of South America. Ah, there you are Grayson! I assured you there was nothing dangerous here!" Gregory commented lightly, scolding what appeared to be the Commanding Auror – a tall, bulky and heavily tanned man with short brown hair, a heavyset jaw and cerulean eyes. He wore forest-green robes with five stars upon his right-breast.
"If that's true, then why are you consorting with the riffraff here?" Grayson growled at Gregory who merely shrugged.
"It could be due to him clearing out the Newborn Coven just north of here, including the Elder Vampire that created them. Isn't that right, Ferdinand?"
After Grayson set his incredulous blue eyes upon Ferdinand, the mercenary regained his speech. "Head Minister… of Magic? Gregory Samuelson? Ah bloody hell…" Ferdinand swore under his breath, inwardly brow-beating himself for not noticing it. His head rose and met both Grayson and Gregory's gaze. "Yeah, I dealt with the problem and the Elder Vampire isn't a problem for South America anymore."
"Wha – How?!" Grayson spluttered out in shock. "We've sent nearly two full contingents of Aurors down to those ruins and only one Auror made it out of fifty – One! We received word from that one Auror that the Elder was none other than Count Vladimir Dracula! And now you're going to tell me you fought him on his terms and impressed him with your swordplay of all things!"
Both Gregory Samuelson and Ferdinand laughed throughout all of his spluttering.
"Actually, yeah. I might still have the injuries to prove it, but I tend to heal from any injuries that I sustain rather quickly. Want to see proof?" Ferdinand chuckled before raising his shirt without waiting for an answer.
"Oh dear." Gregory broke the silence.
Grayson found his voice, "Oh dear Morgana's sagging tits! How the hell are you still alive, kid?!"
Across his front was a large, jagged red and inflamed scab running from his left shoulder-bone to right hip-bone; not to mention the fading bruises that covered the majority of his ribcage and around the lightly swollen skin surrounding a scabbed puncture wound just underneath his right shoulder-bone that was nearly finished healing.
A chuckle met Grayson's comment. "Like I said; I heal all-too-quickly. It's good for my profession otherwise I'd have died long ago.
"So, what is one of the Head Ministers of Magic and his Commanding Auror hoping to accomplish by meeting me here? I'd imagine it isn't my beautiful face." To be honest, Ferdinand thought his face looked like crap but it could've healed overnight. A jingling bag of galleons caught his ear and attention as it was thrown onto his bed.
"I thought you'd have completed the job I hired you to accomplish so I naturally collected the galleons to reward you with. Oh, and also, you have a party to attend as both my personal guest and honored guest. Do clean up, and if you require a Healer, I can always ask my private healer to assist you." Gregory Samuelson arose from the plush, red-velvet couch and smoothed out his black slacks, dress shirt and donned his black coat.
"Grayson here will accompany you to the party. Until tonight at Eight o'clock, Ferdinand." Gregory smirked at the mercenary as the Aurors surrounded him and apparated out of the hotel.
Ferdinand counted down from ten before yelling, "BONES! GET YOUR BONY, NON-EXISTANT ASS IN HERE RIGHT NOW!"
Silencing Charms are a definite godsend.
"What can I do for you?" Bones asked with a knowing smirk as he coalesced into existence from the blue mist.
"What the hell did you discuss with Gregory Samuelson while I was unconscious – thank you for taking me here by the way – and what the hell am I going to do at a public function?!"
"What could I have done in that position? Offend the Head Minister of Magic of South America? I would personally prefer not having to watch my back every time we return to South America without having to watch our backs because we pissed off one of the Head Ministers." Bones commented conversationally as he paced evenly.
"Oh you bloody damn shambling hunk of bones; I hate when you back up your position with logic." Ferdinand threw his head back and sighed in exasperation. "Why did I have to get a magical construct that's so ruddy annoying?"
"And I couldn't possibly tally the amount of times I have personally saved us from total mayhem."
"Oh do shut up you arrogant berk." Ferdinand wagged an accusing finger towards the hulking bone figure, "And I'll have you know the vast majority of those occasions I could have saved myself from – Nicaragua included!" He nodded to punctuate his sentence.
"Oh, my poor deluded master."
"Sod off you ruddy hunk of bones."
I should probably get ready … Ferdinand shrugged, taking another drought to drain the last dregs of Fire-Whiskey bottle before dropping two galleons down on the bar counter and apparating away to his hotel.
"I wonder where Bones is at. That ruddy shambling hunk of bones better not leave me to the crowds alone," He grumbled as he rummaged through the limited amounts of clothing he kept on his person at all times. "At the very least he can hide under the many folds of clothing I'll have to transfigure to get. Ah-hah!" He pulled out his rattiest pair of trousers and shirts, swishing his gray wand over them after laying them out on the soft bed. In their place was a set of dress robes, set in the typical black and white colors that he was sure the majority of the occupants of the public function were sure to wear.
"I never did understand why Transfiguration always ruined my good clothes when I transfigure them, yet does nothing to my rattier pairs of 'em."
Fingers rapped against the door just as Ferdinand finished placing his formal clothing on signaling Grayson's prompt arrival at eight o' clock.
"I'm coming, I'm coming already you ornery ruddy Auror!" He snorted the last part underneath his breath.
The National Congress Palace; Brasília, Brazil
"My, my. So rough Signor Grayson." Ferdinand teased the annoyed Commanding Auror who finally snapped at the mercenary.
"This is not the place for such childish antics! We are currently at the National Congress Palace in Brasília, Brazil and in the presence of the highest ranking individuals in the Magical World!"
Fortune shined upon Ferdinand as Gregory Samuelson ambled over to the duo. "Ah, there's my honored guest and Commanding Auror. I trust the relatively short journey was easy-going, correct?"
Grayson sweated under the knowing glint in Samuelson's eyes and even more so when Ferdinand opened his mouth. "It was wonderful, Gregory Samuelson! I simply could not wish for better company!"
Grayson's eye twitched in agitation.
"Wonderful!" Samuelson clapped both of them readily on the back in a joyful motion and led them across the sidewalk leading up to elongated building with two skyscrapers and an odd bowl-shaped on the right side of the skyscrapers with a striking contrasting dome on the other side built atop of the elongated building. Along the front side – from which they were walking towards – were grassy knolls that were finely kept in-shape; a ramp on the left side that branched out going up, to the left and to the right leading up to where the dome was located at that stood over a pond that stretched over the front of the National Congress Palace.
"Hey, Gregory Samuelson –"
"Gregory or Greg please, Ferdinand. It would be bad in tact if I were on a first-name basis with you, but not you with myself. Besides," Gregory smirked lightly as they strolled down the side of the road. "I find that it is a refreshing moment when someone has the temerity to actually call me by my first name." A wayward glance stole itself towards Grayson.
The Commanding Auror merely grunted, "It's deference to proper respect to one who deserves such adulation, Head Minister."
"Bah. Confounding respectful comments…" Gregory growled in annoyance.
"Alright, Greg, how is it that you're virtually the only wizard who has the balls to wear a rather dashing suit like that? I figured most of the wizards would be wearing dress robes such as these." Ferdinand remarked on the typical suit that he had seen Gregory in on several occasions. It did look good.
"Ah, well," the Head Minister had the modesty to sheepishly rub the back of his short black hair. "I find that they look much better than those rather… drafty robes. And, in all actuality, a lot more comfortable than you'd think, Ferdinand." He admitted, glaring briefly at the snort his Commanding Auror smartly hid behind a fit of coughing.
"Indeed they do Greg, indeed they do." Ferdinand agreed, whipping out his dark-gray wand and waving it with a flourish over his now transfigured clothing, ignoring the hostile glare of Grayson and the interested glance Gregory leveled him.
"My, my, I must say, I prefer the new look, Ferdinand, but for the sake of my Commanding Auror's graying hairs, I must insist on limited your wand-magic." Both the Head Minister and Ferdinand shared a boisterous laugh at Grayson's abrupt hostility. "And I must insist on you, Grayson Flitwick, that you smother your spats of hostility against my honored guest today."
Both of them – Grayson Flitwick and Gregory Samuelson – turned to stare with a barely concealed snigger and outright laughter several moments later at the dumbfounded, small sounds coming from Ferdinand. Finally he managed to articulate a sentence, "You're not related to Filius Flitwick, are you?"
Grayson let out an exasperated sigh, "Yes, what did my over-excitable first-cousin manage to accomplish this time?" His cousin, Filius Flitwick, the Charms Professor at Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was often the more eccentric and easily excitable one of the family. Definitely the oddball – albeit, beloved oddball of the Flitwicks.
"Erm – how the bloody hell are you so damn tall when he's so damn short? Did the genetics just run ruddy haywire on you?"
"You are so damned lucky my superior is right here, Infernal or right." Grayson barely held onto his rather excitable temper.
"Do calm down boys – other wizards can hear us now and I'd rather not feel embarrassed for my current company." Gregory quipped at the bickering duo. He then proceeded to add an afterthought, almost to himself yet Grayson and Ferdinand couldn't refute it. "Besides, you two would make for an excellent example of polar opposites. Maybe I should involve the two of you in a demonstration to new recruits for the various Ministries in South America for the attitudes that they shouldn't exhibit."
"He has a point, master. You truly are hard-headed and stubborn to a fault. And also a myriad of other emotions –"
"Ferdinand," Grayson growled at the mercenary, "Why the hell is there a voice coming from your damn suit?!"
"That must be your companion, Bones – correct?" Gregory interjected with an eager gleam in his eyes. In all actuality, the gleam somewhat disturbed Ferdinand.
Ferdinand opened his mouth to respond, yet Bones cut him off. "Indeed I am. It's heartening to communicate to another with a sharp mind, Gregory Samuelson. I apologize in advance and for before right now – I am currently in an incorporeal form to assist my… rather impulsive companion."
Ferdinand swore violently under his breath at Bones that made Gregory raise an eyebrow at.
"I didn't realize that could be anatomically possible." Gregory inwardly mused on the possibilities before violently closing that mental door with faintly noticeable reddening cheeks that went, thankfully, unnoticed to the company.
"Screw that, I want to know where the hell that woman is at!"
Gregory sighed, shaking his head at his Commanding Auror and pinched the bridge of his nose. Why did he possibly keep him hired for the position of Commanding Auror for South America? Right, he can fight well and does his job adequately and proficiently enough unlike what those confounded pencil-pushers suggest they could accomplish in his stead. He was broke out of his thoughts when Bones spoke up.
"If you are quite finished explaining that explicit night you witnessed, there is company approaching, master, Grayson Flitwick, Gregory."
"Ah, many thanks for the warning, Bones." The Head Minister thanked the currently incorporeal form of Bones. "Ah, my good friend, Devereux Molyneux and your ever-lovely wife, Celeste Molyneux, how are you doing?" He jovially greeted the new arrivals with warmth, waiting for them alongside the pond near the National Congress Palace with Grayson scowling and Ferdinand with a blank but otherwise peaceful expression, his storm-gray eyes belaying his amusement.
Grayson apparently disliked one of the two newcomers.
Ferdinand studied the duo intently as they approached; Devereux Molyneux seemed to hold a calm air about him, a constant warm smile present on his face whereas his wife was the opposite, holding a neutral expression that gave nothing away and took in everything at the same time. The duo appeared to be in their early forties meaning they were easily in their eighties or nineties by an estimation of Ferdinand's due to subtle wrinkles beginning to form upon Devereux's face, yet Celeste seemed to have nary a wrinkle.
Devereux Molyneux had sandy-brown, trimmed hair that reached the base of his neck in a ponytail; black eyes, full of a light, knowing twinkle that resided in them; a nose that might have been a big long on someone shorter than his tall height. He wore a thin, black traveling cloak over black slacks, black dress shoes, and a red vest over a white button-up, long-sleeved dress shirt with open black robes over the whole ensemble.
Fancy, but to be expected, holds himself in a comfortable manner meaning he's fine in public functions or can hide irritation incredibly well. His manner of walking suggests he has some dueling experience, yet not much from that overly cheerful gait. Overall: an easy-going man that wouldn't be much of a physical or magical challenge to cross. Most likely a strong politician due to being the French Minister of Magic.
His wife, Celeste Molyneux, had black, lustrous hair that trailed down just past her shoulders, ending in wavy curls; frigid silver eyes that caught every motion Ferdinand, Grayson, and Gregory made with ease that interested the mercenary – a glance that was often attributed to a dueling champion. Her face was aristocratic, holding high cheekbones; a delicate jaw that made the frame for the heart-shaped face; and full, plump lips. She wore a form-fitting silver gown to match her eyes and to conform to her rather nice figure.
Also fancy, yet that is expected. She holds herself in a cautious manner, constantly taking in sensory details while occasionally fingering her right earring. Maybe a charmed earring for protection? She may hide it well, but her gait is well-practiced but seems to rarely shift to a dueler's stance – ready and willing to dive, duck, or dodge an impending barrage of spells. It's obvious that she taught Devereux how to duel. Overall: a woman that's overly-cautious with a keen eye for catching details. Obviously not a woman to easily cross and would most likely present a challenge magically, possibly physically as well.
"Indeed my friend, Gregory Samuelson – newly elected Head Minister of South America." Devereux grinned widely, clapping Gregory on the back in a friendly hug as he congratulated his friend in a lightly French accented voice. "Congratulations on the promotion, Gregory."
"Thanks Minister Devereux Molyneux." Gregory grinned at his friend's dislike of his title, presenting his dislike in a friendly-enough scowl.
"Indeed, Head Minister Gregory." Celeste smiled thinly at Gregory, the smile disappearing to give way for a pensive expression. "And who are your companions tonight? I recognize Grayson Flitwick at least, but you," She stared hard at Ferdinand who merely shrugged off the frigid silver eyes studying his every movement before continuing in a strong French accent yet presented no problems in pronunciation, "You, I do not know yet you seem… familiar to me."
Ferdinand sighed as all eyes were on him. "Ah, well, my name is Ferdinand. I'm here on behest of Greg here because of an extermination job he required to be completed."
"That does not excuse the fact of why you appear so familiar to me. If you are a –"Celeste was cut off by her husband.
This won't end well if she remembers me if I plan on staying under the radar for any longer though that plan might very well be shot to shite because of Greg.
"Celeste, mon amour, easy on the poor man. If Gregory requested him at the party for his formal ascension to Head Minister, then he has a good enough reason for being here. Besides, Gregory still owes us at least one story and you can inquire all you wish then." Devereux murmured, calming his calculating wife. She slowly relaxed before apologizing to Gregory, ignoring Grayson and shooting cautious glances towards Ferdinand the whole time.
"It is of little consequence Celeste, and thanks. Besides, I'm sure Ferdinand would simply love regaling us with a play-by of his, quite frankly, impressive job."
"Ah… Am I required to do so?" Ferdinand sighed, inwardly annoyed at having to be subject to Celeste's scrutiny. She was too perceptive for her own good.
Gregory laughed at Ferdinand's reluctance. "There's always a choice; you could begin here and finish while we proceed inside the National Congress Palace, or begin where there's a large audience."
Ferdinand caved in. "You'll forgive me if I decide to only regale you all with the story once while we stroll inside the building."
Ferdinand sighed loudly as he plopped onto a cushioned, high-backed chair at a virtually abandoned table. He had to regale the tale once for Gregory, then once again for the rest of the Head Minister's enjoyment. But, it was either that or risk their ire which was not what he particularly requested at the moment.
"Fire-Whiskey." He grunted aloud and watched at the finely-blown glass cup filled itself with the red-brown liquid. He downed a large draught, enjoying the fire-like feeling as it tickled his throat on the way down to his warming pit of a stomach. "At least they serve the good stuff here."
"Mr. Ferdinand," A wizard deep in his old years, sporting a long white beard, bushy and long hair with twinkling light-blue eyes caught the mercenary's attention. He wore rather 'tasteful' lime-green robes that made Ferdinand chuckle at how the rest of the room must have reacted towards. "Albus Dumbledore – pleased to meet your acquaintance. Would you mind if a man getting higher in the years joins a strapping young man for drink and conversation?" His eyes twinkled merrily as Ferdinand nodded in amusement.
"How has night treated a man getting higher up in his years?" Ferdinand conversationally asked, taking another swig of Fire-Whiskey. "I know for myself it has been quite a drag if I do say so myself."
Dumbledore smiled knowingly at the young mercenary. "Quite wonderfully if I might say so." He then added after an after-thought, "Fire-Whiskey." The eccentric older wizard merely tapped the side of his nose in response to a raised eyebrow and quickly took a drink of the golden-brown liquid.
"Ahh – better than I remember. It's been far too long since I have had such a fine vintage of Fire-Whiskey." Dumbledore remarked happily as he swirled the contents of his glass. "Would you mind me asking how this fine night about such a fine public function could be – what were your words, a 'drag'?"
Ferdinand took another gulp of the whiskey and sighed contentedly. "I had to recount my actions of my contracted mission to Greg, Devereux and a whole slew of other Ministers and their lackeys that I won't remember past tonight."
Dumbledore let out a chuckle. "Indeed. I do understand your reluctance to take the spotlight, and to also be required to release some of your own well-kept spells. It becomes quite bothersome when other wizards claim to have invented the spell you have already created." He remarked sincerely, hitting all of the sore points that Ferdinand had with having to retell his tale. He managed to gloss over the majority of his spells, but he still had to recount several of his more common sadly.
"Ahh – once again, this is the highlight of the party. I wonder how much they spent getting this particularly amazing vintage." Ferdinand mused.
"I most wholeheartedly agree with your statement but I would believe they spent approximately four hundred and ninety-eight galleons, ten sickles and two knuts to procure such an old and delectable vintage." Dumbledore smiled at the amused chuckled from Ferdinand. "Although, I might have had a hand in obtaining such an aforementioned vintage and donating it to such a fine occasion, but that's neither here nor there." Ferdinand rolled his eyes and leaned forward over the oak table with a smile playing on his face.
"I believe I know where this is going, Headmaster Albus Perceval Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. What do you require of my esteemed resources?" Ferdinand chuckled in good nature at the twinkling eyes.
Dumbledore remarked, "Absolutely amazing that you managed to discern one of my numerous motives for chatting with you other than enjoying a rather delectable conversation with another that isn't interested in politics."
Ferdinand nodded solemnly at Dumbledore's frown before cheering both of them up. "Indeed. Politics are too fickle and tedious for men such as us to immerse ourselves into. Well, for myself at least." They both shared a light chuckle, enjoying the relative silence that enveloped the duo and the vintage of Fire-Whiskey.
"Regardless of our fickle views of political matters may be," Pale-blue eyes twinkled merrily once again, "I believe that you might be interested in an extended contract that I am willing to extend to a wizard with abilities such as yourself." Seeing a raised eyebrow increased the merry twinkling. "I see you are at least interested." He chuckled in enjoyment. "Very well, I would like to contract your services for the duration of approximately three years at Hogwarts as a bodyguard of sorts – on the surface at least. Underneath, I would like to see you assisting my efforts to halt the progression Voldemort seems to have created under Cornelius Fudge's reign as Minister of Magic."
The mercenary contemplated his thoughts before proceeding, "And what would be the benefits of such an extended contract as I would be… willing," He searched and found the most appropriate word for the occasion, "To assist your underground efforts, including being inducted into a secret…"
"Order – I believe is the word you're seeking." Dumbledore offered with a cheery disposition.
With a nod, he continued unperturbed, "Indeed. Along with being inducted into your secret 'Order', I would also be willing to bodyguard Hogwarts in these dark times."
"I believe you are currently banned in – but most famously known in Nicaragua, Greenland, Iceland, and Australia – a whopping total of thirteen different countries, including the four I mentioned. Ingenious and amusing way of becoming barred and subsequently banned from entering a country such as the situation in Nicaragua – a beautiful scenic country too." Dumbledore chuckled as his impressed expression. "Yes, it definitely made my day all the more brighter when I was called down to assist the situation there. But I digress, we are straying and I apologize." His eyes told him he wasn't sorry in the least bit from the intense twinkling and light smile.
"I am willing to pull a few strings and allow free legal excursions to each and every one of the aforementioned countries for your lifetime." The pale-blue eyes peered knowingly at storm-gray ones.
Ferdinand chuckled joyfully. "Impressive. But I have two such problems with a system as what you are suggesting; when would I reap the benefits of our accord, and, providing I accept the job, would this accord also assist me in a proverbial 'get of out jail' free card for future countries I would possibly reach a snag with? Also, would I be partnered up with a teammate?" At that point he glared down at his black suit, from which Dumbledore lightly rolled his eyes to.
Ah well, every wizard had his quirks.
"I am willing to implement a fully magical oath to ensure no discrepancies occur with our accord should you be willing and I believe I can assist you with the coined Monopoly term on occasion along with a fully functional pay unique to yourself every six months for an approximate amount of five-hundred galleons along with all expenses paid. Also, I believe you would be willing to 'partner' with one of my younger associates as she is facing a rather rough time and you would do some good for her with your enjoyable disposition in my opinion. You both would work together in both underground and aboveground ventures of course."
Ferdinand needed no more encouragement and a teammate besides Bones would be wondrous news, especially to his rather... eccentric owl.
"Albus Dumbledore, you have got yourself a hired comrade."
A light chuckle met his response.
"Indeed I have. Now, a question that has been buzzing around my beleaguered mind that I have been most eagerly anticipating the answer towards – have you ever tasted the delectable vintage of Fire-Whiskey from 1934?"
"Albus, I can do you one better than that. I have a bottle with me currently that I believe we should pop open to enjoy such a joyous occasion. I believe you agree with me on this – am I correct?"
"Ferdinand, I would enjoy nothing better than to enjoy such a wondrous vintage with one of my comrades."
Two Days Later, Late-Morning
"Oh do stop your moping Bones. We're only getting her because of our long-term contract with Albus and you know how bad she is without at least weekly contact." Ferdinand attempted the reason with the disgruntled hunk of shambling bones known as Bones after packing fully for the three year-long contract – Fire-Whiskey, gold, clothing of all sorts, and a plethora of magical devices packed and ready for transportation.
He was currently frowning, his face seemingly stuck in that position. "That ruddy owl absolutes abhors me for absolutely no particular reason. I have done absolutely nothing to warrant its ire." Even now Bones still denies anything to do with her.
"You attempted to behead her, roast her alive and threatened to entrap her within your ribcage for an eternity. What do you expect?" He deadpanned, rolling his eyes at Bones.
"I did nothing of the sort! Besides, the roasting nearly occurred when she flew in front of my target practice." Bones paced the room in increasing increments of annoyance.
"Notice how you conveniently ignore the threatening I accused you with. Face it, we're getting her – or else." Ferdinand threatened the magical construct.
"After she attempted to defecate on my newly polished bones!" Bones offered in defense from which Ferdinand shook his head at.
"Look, either we get her now, or we get her after I place you under a week-long petrifaction curse and leave your bony ruddy arse stranded in the tropical rainforests of Brazil where the exotic birds can enjoy your monument-like state. Now, are you coming – or not?" If it was one thing Bones would actually admit to hating with all his being, it was the utter loathing of having his bones disfigured.
"Very well…" The magical construct sighed in defeat. Why is it that he could win where it didn't count, yet when it did, he never could?
"Excellent – do your little mist reverse-coalescence thing and let's hightail it!"
The owl stared unblinkingly into the unnerved figure of Bones, locked in a proverbial life and death staring contest. Slowly the owl hopped forward with nary a sound and soon reached Bones. They stared for several more moments until the she had enough and screeched at Bones, making him jump and swore expletives with a volatile passion.
She seemingly smirked, charcoal-black eyes dancing with amusement before flapping her wings and landing on Ferdinand's shaking shoulder. She cooed happily and nuzzled up to his cheek.
Finally, Ferdinand regained control of himself. "That… was absolutely… brilliant, Hedwig." The snowy-white owl hooted in agreement, bobbing her head up and down. "But enough about the…" He broke out into laughter once more at the absurdity of the situation before continuing, "Amusing scene. Would you like to accompany us to the British Isles – more specifically Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Scotland for about… three years? You can tease Bones all the more~." He added as an afterthought and enticement. Hedwig nipped his outstretched hand gently, agreeing with a hoot and sending another arrogant and haughty glance towards Bones before flying off to Scotland.
"God I love that bird. Always an enjoyment to be around."
"Master… I loathe both you and that despicable devil at this current moment."
"I'm sure she loves you just as much as I, Bones." He quipped cheerfully, ignoring the silent-treatment Bones was beginning to exhibit. "Now then, let's travel to London already and meet up at Dumbledore's Order's location. We're tarried too long in France – don't give me that well-hidden glare. Be glad I didn't tell her to travel with us to London."
I must ask: How was the first chapter of A Way of Life? I found it to be rather enjoyable to write and look over myself.
I know there are going to be questions about Narcissa Black's involvement in the pairing, and it's going to be partially up to you all whether you want her in the pairing. If there aren't any complaints, then she will most likely be in the pairing; if not, oh well, she'll still play a pivotal and vital role in the chapters to come.
Update schedules will vary, but will most likely come quickly due to the summer and school is out of session... Only if I can get my amazingly perverted Beta - Inu-shommaru - to get to town and proof-read my crap to where it's much better to read. Thanks again Inu!
Anyways, tell me - in reviews - about what you thought of the chapter and I'll respond as soon as I can!