XIV - Demon Metamorphmagus
“Are you all right?” Percy tried to concentrate, but the ringing in his ears made it almost impossible. “Percy? Are you okay?” Wasn’t that Harry’s voice? “Sod it…” Harry’s voice dropped to a whisper “…Ennervate”
Percy’s mind snapped back to full awareness with painful suddenness. He opened his eyes, noticed Harry slipping a short pencil back into his pocket, nearly said something, but guessed that his captors had no idea of its significance. “Good thing you can cast that spell without a wand. What the hell’s going on here?”
“As far as I can make out they think we’re necromancers or something, because we’ve got the body of one of their Slayers, but they’re not exactly looking for much in the way of proof. They’ve taken our wands, and this cell’s pretty heavily warded.”
“We… oh, you and Bury?”
“That’s right, Mister Weasley,” said Bury, who was sitting on an uncomfortable-looking bed on the far side of the cell. “I’m going to want serious compensation for this little lot.”
Percy groped in his pocket, but as he’d expected his wand was gone, and all his other magical possessions. “What hit me?”
“I don’t know,” said Harry, “but it was Illyria that bought you in… I thought she was a demon, that’s what they told us in History of Magic, but she claims to be some sort of god.”
“A woman in her thirties,” said Percy, climbing to his feet, “about so tall?”
“About that height,” said Harry, “but how you’d mistake her for a woman is beyond me. She’s got pale blue skin and blue-black hair!”
“That’s not what hit me,” said Percy, “she just looked like an ordinary American woman, nothing special. Said she was a reporter for the Los Angeles Cauldron.
“Never heard of it, and I think every wizarding paper in America tried to get an interview when Ginny and I were there on our honeymoon. Is Ginny all right?”
"She's worried as hell, of course, what do you think? Anyway, whoever she was, she must have walked through our wards like they weren’t there. I would have felt it or heard something if she’d used a spell to get through.”
“Not human then. She must be some sort of demon metamorphmagus.”
“So what’s this all about?” asked Percy. “Putting together what Hermione told me about the Slayer curse and the little the Federal Bureau of Magic seemed to know, someone seems to be building a super-powered army. What’s their aim?”
“As far as I can make out,” said Harry, “mostly they’re Muggle girls with the Slayer Curse, though they seem to think that it isn’t a curse, with a fairly powerful unregistered witch, maybe more than one, and some other Muggles helping them. None of them seem to know anything about us. They say that they want to kill vampires and demons. They seem to think that they’re protecting the world from the monsters. Unfortunately their definition of monsters seems to include us.”
“With a demon or a god or whatever the hell it is to help them?” Percy began to pace the cell.
“Don’t forget the vampire,” Bury said helpfully. “Seemed like a nice bloke for a blood-sucking fiend, said his name was Spike.”
“Spike? What sort of a name is Spike?”
Harry shrugged. “He says that Voldemort tried to recruit him during the war, and he turned him down.”
“Out of the goodness of his heart, no doubt?”
“Nah,” said a voice from the other side of the steel barred door. “I could see he was a total tosser, look at the silly masks he made his boys wear.”
“If you know about Voldemort, you must know that we’re not evil wizards, or whatever the hell these people seem to think we are,” said Percy, backing away from the door. The man outside looked human, but there were red traces on his lips and the mug he was carrying, with an ‘I heart Blood Donors’ logo, didn’t smell like coffee.
“All I know is that up until this week the only wizards I’d met with wands worked for Voldemort. Harry here says different and I think he’s telling the truth, so does Illyria, and she seems to know a bit about you, but right now your dog and pony show out there has everyone here freaking out. And it’s not like you’ve left us any way of getting advice. Or shopping for that matter, and we’ve got fifty-odd girls here who eat like horses. Not to mention that we’re going to be running out of things like sanitary towels and pig’s blood pretty soon.”
“Could we arrange some sort of truce?” suggested Percy. “If you release one of us the Ministry will probably arrange to deliver what you want, within reason.”
“Sorry, mate, but there’s no way they’ll agree to let anything in if they don’t get it for themselves. Just a bit paranoid about being drugged, Willow was pretty impressed with the bottle of juice Harry was carrying the second time we searched him, one drop on his water bottle knocked out a guinea pig and it still hasn’t come round. Love to know how you sneaked that one in.”
“Official secret, I’m afraid.” Harry was surprised that they hadn’t spotted Henrietta, maybe they had but hadn’t realised her significance.
“Wait a minute,” said Percy. “You said something about wanting advice. Is there someone we could get that might be able to help us negotiate a truce until we can sort this mess out?”
“Well, you could maybe talk to… Oh, nice try, but if you think I’m going to give you anyone’s name you’re out of your mind. The Watcher would have my…”
“Watcher?” asked Harry.
“A bloke that watches the Slayer, makes sure that she knows what she’s fighting and researches demons and things. There used to be one Slayer and hundreds of Watchers, and most of them were tossers too. A lot of them were killed four years ago, these days it’s more the other way around.”
“Watcher…” said Percy. “I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before. Watcher…” He paced the cell for a minute or so then snapped his fingers. “‘Watcher’s Council,’ That was it.”
“That’s right.” Spike looked surprised. “Where did you hear that one then?”
“From a job description,” said Percy. “Spike, can you find me someone who knows something about this council, I want to check something.”
“I know a bit myself, what do you want to know?”
Percy looked at Spike uncertainly. “Does the name Travers mean anything to you?”
“There used to be a bloke called Quentin Travers ran the Council.”
“Damn. No, the name I know is Durward Travers. It must just be a coincidence of surnames.”
“No it isn’t.” Spike sounded completely certain.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because Sir Walter Scott wrote a book called Quentin Durward, can’t remember the exact date but it was still pretty popular when I was a boy in the nineteenth century, and well into the twentieth. There was a pretty good film too. If someone liked the book and had a couple of sons he might give them those names.”
“I’ve never heard of it,” said Harry. Bury just shook his head.
“So what about him?” asked Spike.
“Durward Travers was a Death Eater, one of the worst. He escaped from Az… from prison in ninety-six, we recaptured him in ninety-eight, he died a couple of years ago. But before anyone knew who he was, he worked at the Ministry of Magic. His official title was Watcher’s Council Liaison, under the Department of Mysteries, and nobody who made it through the war seems to know what that meant.”
“Interesting,” said Harry, “I remember Travers all right, but I don’t see how it gets us anywhere.”
“Me neither,” said Spike.
“It means that someone somewhere in the Watcher’s Council might know enough about us to know that we’re not evil necromancers, I hope, and that somewhere there might be some sort of agreement between the Ministry and the Council. We haven’t got anything, or if we have it’s well hidden, maybe it’s more accessible from that end.” Percy took a deep breath. “And we need to find some common ground fast. By now the Ministry must know I’m missing, and the wards your witch put up aren’t going to protect this place from an all-out attack.”
“All right,” said Spike. “I’ll talk to people, see what I can do.”
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