On Archive of Our Own
On Twisting the Hellmouth
VIII: Cat Amongst The Pigeons
"Well, that certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons," said Black. "If Dumbledore wasn't dead I think that the shock would have killed him, and Snape's not much better."
"Tell them both that if I'd known what Dumbledore had in mind I might have done thinks differently, although I would have preferred to have been told before I was signed up for a suicide mission. I still don't know why they gave me the stone, what the hell was the point of it? Ask them to try and come up with a new plan. We'll get back in touch... um, let's say Monday evening. And whatever they come up with, I don't want any more bloody surprises. I want all of the details up front."
"I shall try to phrase that a little more tactfully."
"Don't. They got us into this mess, they might as well know what I think about it."
For a moment Black's lips quirked, as though about to smile. "As you wish."
"Thanks. If you have any suggestions of your own please join in, so long as I know who's suggesting what."
"I'll talk to you all on Monday. Good night."
"I could probably help you more if I wasn't in the dark," said the painting.
Hermione said "I'm sorry, there are too many risks. Good night." She slipped the painting back into her bag and reactivated the silencing spell.
"OK. Ron, what did you make of that?"
"Still trying to imagine Dumbledore's face when you told him. We've got to come up with a better way to contact them, we're missing too much working this way."
"You'd still have to stay out of sight."
"Maybe we could get a pair of mirrors, like the ones Sirius gave you. Get one to Snape somehow and cut out the middle-man."
"Nice idea, Ron, but Sirius never told me how he made them."
"There's a shop that sells magical mirrors in Diagon Alley, maybe we could just buy a pair."
"Which part of Undesirable Number One are you having trouble with? Really can't see going there on a casual shopping trip somehow, especially since we've got sod-all wizarding money. And I'm a bit iffy about heading back to the wizarding quarter here after all the trouble we had."
"Not a good idea anyway," said Hermione. "I looked up magic mirrors when you told me you had one and there's a big security issue. To make them you start out with a sheet of enchanted mirror glass then cut it in two so that the halves are magically connected. Supposedly nobody can listen in. But I can't see anything to stop the maker starting with a bigger sheet of glass and making three or more, with the extra ones charmed so that people using the other two don't know that someone is spying on them."
"Could you make a pair?"
"Not really. Understanding the basic theory is one thing, but the practical spellwork is complicated and a lot of it seems to be trade secrets, special mirror coatings and spells and so forth. Sirius managed it, but I think he must have had more information than we do. Maybe the Blacks owned a magic mirror business, they had their fingers in a lot of pies."
"Oh well, it was a nice idea while it lasted."
"Let's clear up and head to bed."
"Works for me."
"There was one call," Hermione said the following afternoon, "someone called John, sounded Liverpudlian. He left someone's name and details of how to find him. It's the second message on the answering machine."
Diana played back the message and thought for a moment. "Okay, this isn't the sort of business I can do over the phone. I need you and the boys to get ready to go out after I've made a couple of calls. Wear ordinary clothing, no robes or visible wands. Where are they anyway?"
"In the basement, working on some spells to disguise our location the next time we contact Snape."
"Good idea, but it's going to have to wait. Tell them to be ready in about twenty minutes."
"What's this about?"
"We're going to have to get you back into the UK, and for that you'll all need papers. John's put me on to someone who can forge them."
"Couldn't we just use the owl again?"
"I've been warned not to. International portkeys into Britain are being diverted to Ministry of Magic holding areas."
"Right. I'll tell the others."
As Hermione went downstairs she heard Diana on the phone. "John, what can you tell me about ritual magic? I need to pick your brains."
Although the shop was usually busy at weekends, things had been much quieter since the change in government. On Sunday afternoon Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes was almost empty; some regulars, and one stranger who seemed to be working his way round the shop, examining every item, a tall, pale-faced man in black robes. Verity eyed him cautiously, wondering if he could possibly be a vampire; there was something about him that made her very uneasy. Eventually she summoned up the courage to speak to him. "Can I help you at all, sir?"
He seemed to think for a moment. "Are your self-writing quills accurate?"
"Depends on the source. They can copy from a printed book without errors, but dictation or copying handwriting can be a bit iffy, especially if you don't speak or write clearly, they write the nearest word that seems more or less right. I heard of a poet who deliberately used them that way - read some verse out, let the quill write down what he seemed to say, then read that out to another quill. It got very strange."
"Excellent. I'll take fifty."
"Fifty? I can give you a thirty percent discount for that many." She wrote it on her pad and did a quick sum. "If you wanted sixty it'd be a fifty percent discount, that would actually be cheaper."
"Thank you, do that. Now then.... Peruvian Darkness Powder... How dark is it?"
"Blocks all light completely while the spell lasts, each pack comes with special glasses you can wear to see through it."
"Hmmm... perhaps not, then. And daydream charms, how many varieties do you offer?"
"I think the full range is about twenty-five but I'd have to check. Some of them are special orders."
"I'll have three of each."
"All of them? Some are a bit... specialised, sir. For ladies or gentlemen with... well, with unusual tastes..."
"Three of each, please, regardless of their nature, I have an interest in dreams."
"I can give you a fifty percent discount for those, too. But I might have to order some specially and send them on later if we're out of stock."
"Do that... And one box of canary creams, a nose-biting teacup, and three of your catalogues." She added them to the order.
He reached into his cloak, and for a moment she thought she saw the darkness of space, lit by occasional stars, before dismissing it as a trick of the light. He produced a grey leather bag, and poured out more galleons than it should have been able to hold. Of course most wizards could do that. "Take it from this, and keep the change. You've been very helpful. Send everything to Vault One, Gringrott's Bank."
"Vault One?" She wrote it down, trying to imagine who might possibly have such a low-numbered vault. "What name, sir?" There was no reply. When she looked up he was gone. She checked that the gold was real, wrote the order out neatly and rang it into the till, put the change into the tips jar, and started packing it. And tried not to think about a film she'd seen in Muggle London few years earlier. With the exception of the pale skin her customer had looked nothing like David Bowie.
"Your scar is healing very nicely," said Diana, leading them to a black BMW 3 series saloon parked a little way down the street.
"With the horcrux gone there's nothing to stop the healing potions working," said Harry.
"We'll have to cover it with a little makeup today, but it should be all right without it by next weekend. Ron, that's the driver's seat, would you mind sliding over?"
"Sorry, most cars I've seen have the driver on the other side."
"Britain does things differently from France. Buckle in, everyone. Ron, the metal part slides into the grey plastic thing there."
"Where are we going?" asked Hermione.
Diana started the engine, waited for a break in the traffic, and drove off. "I need to talk to a gangster, then we're getting you some identity papers. Passports, driving licenses if any of you know how to drive, and anything else I can get to make you look more convincing."
"I can drive a bit and I've got a motor scooter license with a provisional license for cars," said Hermione. "Ron crashed the last time he tried. What about you?"
"Get real, the Dursleys wouldn't have let me take lessons. Why the sudden urgency?"
"I took a look at Malfoy Manor while I was in Britain... Apprenez à conduire, imbécile!" Diana shouted as she swerved to avoid a collision. "Malfoy's getting ready for some sort of major outdoor magical ritual. Not the sort you're used to, probably something very dark. I saw a rehearsal, at a guess they're going to try to summon a demon."
"Merlin, what am I supposed to do about that?"
"They were preparing the spell with Enochian lettering painted around the pentacle, I don't know the language very well but I recognized a few words, my friend John is working on the rest. What I know already is that it's not going to happen until the full moon which is on the sixteenth, so we've got ten days."
"To do what?"
"Get back into the country without raising alarms. If they manage to summon it, I'll do my best to kill it. But I'll need backup, I can't fight Vol... Riddle and his followers on my own at the same time."
"Oh bloody hell!"
"It may not be necessary. John's working on the problem, it may be something he can stop."
"You've mentioned him a couple of times."
"John? Yes, he's... well, I suppose you'd call him a sorcerer, but he isn't anything like the kind of wizard you're used to. He doesn't use a wand, and his magic tends to involve rituals; summoning, banishing, exorcism, that sort of thing."
"Demonology?" asked Hermione. It was the darkest magic she knew of, and totally illegal. She hadn't dared tell her parents that it was even possible.
"That's certainly part of it. But he's on the side of the angels, I think, though I gather he doesn't have a high opinion of them either, and certainly wouldn't give Riddle the time of day."
"I think the term he used was 'wand-waving Hitler wannabe.'"
Harry grinned. "Sounds fair to me."
"Talking of Hitler," said Hermione, "they've been rounding up Muggle-born witches and wizards and their families. I'm afraid they might be planning... well, some equivalent of what the Nazis did. They don't really regard Muggles as human."
Diana pulled over to the side of the road. "I wish you'd mentioned this earlier. When we get back to the house I need you all to tell me everything you've learned about this. How it's being done, where they're being taken, exactly who is involved."
"Hmmm... this isn't quite where I meant to park, but it's close enough, we might as well walk from here." She rummaged in her bag and found a compact. "Harry, lean forward for a moment." When he did Diana patted a little powder over his scar. "Not too bad, though my complexion is just a little darker than yours. We'll stop off at a pharmacy and get the right shade before we get the photographs. Although you're a lot closer to his shade, Hermione, do you have anything?"
"No, I forgot my cosmetics when we left the house in London, haven't had a chance to replace them yet."
"Then we'll get everything you need, and we can use a little on Harry."
Harry did not look enthralled.
"Just for the scar, Harry. Though a little lipstick and and eye shadow would go a long way towards changing your appearance when we disguise you for the journey to London."
"I'll pass, thanks."
"All right then, we're about to meet one of the most dangerous men in Paris. You'll have to come with me, he needs to be sure you aren't gendarmes, all you need to is be polite and respectful, don't mention magic or anything to do with it, don't mention your names, and let me do the talking unless you're asked a direct question."
"Joey is a sweetheart, but his whole business is built on trust and respect, anything less will not be received well."
"You make him sound like the Godfather," said Hermione, getting out of the car.
"Like Sirius?" asked Ron, still struggling with his seat belt.
"I think I know which film we'll be watching tonight, if we're not doing anything else," said Harry. "It's got lots of violence, you'll love it."
Notes: Verity is a canon WWW employee, about all we really know about her is that she's a young blonde witch. The film she's thinking about is Labyrinth (1986); however, this is not a Labyrinth crossover.
Comments please before I post to archives. Updating may be a bit slower from now on, I've been posting faster than I write.
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