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Chapter 18: Chapter 18 Vetch and Booty Call
AN: I do not own Harry Potter, J K Rowling does.
Chapter Eighteen-Vetch and Booty Call
Across the castle, down in the kitchens the house-elves stopped working as one and turned in alarm at the sound of two agony-filled cries. Vetch had sunk to her knees fighting the waves of dizziness, pain and nausea that flooded along the link from her mistress. Unable to think or act she slowly curled up on the floor shaking with silent sobs. Her fellows watched in horrified fascination. Stunned into immobility, unknowing what was causing her pain. Consternation filled their ranks as an old elf, (and she was old even by their standards), pushed through those crowded around Vetch. Booty was herself fighting waves of nausea, had been all day, but she was a proud elf and had had time to accustom herself. Now watching her young friend shake on the floor, she pushed her own discomfort to the back of her mind and knelt to give any help she could to the stricken Vetch. Unlike the others, she had an inkling of what had caused Vetch to collapse. The younger elf had formed an ancient bond with the transfiguration mistress. A bond forged by unconditional love and respect from both sides and strengthened over the years. Anger welled up in her old heart and worry was written across her features. Tired eyes slowly flooded black as she forced down feelings from her own unique bond for over half an hour as she administered to Vetch. When she was sure she had done all she could for her young friend, she pushed slowly and painfully to her feet, her old joints creaking as she straightened her spine and looked disdainfully around the room. She snapped out an order and in response a young elf she could not remember the name of, rushed forward to sit by Vetch and the rest disbursed a little shamefacedly. Scowling and with her eyes jet black Booty began to fix a pot of strong, hot stew. She ignored her own shaking hands and thought over the signs she had both seen and heard. Hellavan, the name of that place haunted and thrilled her to this day. She thought about the bone weariness Vetch had been concerned about in her young mistress and the exhaustion clouding beautiful golden eyes. She thought about the untouched meals of the young charms professor and the worry written clearly across a normally stoic centaur’s face. The names of the potions Poppy Pompfry had demanded, without explanation, from the potions professor flitted across her mind. Her eyes grew even wider as she remembered the hysterical instructions from the medi-witch about which herbs she needed the house-elves to collect for her. The stew boiled over, forgotten, as she shook from head to toe recalling rolling clouds in the distance and the smell of wood smoke on the breeze. Wrapped in her own thoughts she failed to hear the gasp of alarm from Vetch as she suddenly sat up. Booty ignored the other elves as she reached the large trestle table to one side of the kitchen and drew parchment and quills towards herself. Feverishly she started making notes, deaf to all around her. She did not notice the worried mutterings from her fellow elves. She did not hear the loud argument between Vetch and the young elf watching her. She did not see the black smoke rising from the burnt stew. She did feel the sudden blaze of agony travel through her bond. She felt herself falling into blackness.
All motion stopped yet again in the kitchen as Booty cried out. The fear and pain in her voice cutting them to the core. They watched in horror as the grand matron of the kitchen collapsed catching a glancing blow from the corner of the table as she fell. They flinched as one as a wail of despair came from Vetch as she flung herself to her knees beside her old friend. They stared with tear-filled eyes as Vetch shook the old shoulders and begged her to wake up. They turned away to hide their grief and so failed to see the once strong but kind hands frailly reach out to Vetch and they failed to hear the broken whisper of “my cub” fall from her pale lips.
Vetch felt a sense of bone deep loss as she watched her old friend and mentor fall. She felt her control slipping as she heard Booty’s last words. With shaking hands, she closed the eyes of the only other who remained that knew. With a breaking heart she said a prayer of passage for the soul of the last true remaining member of the Ke’ tribe. She knelt and watched solemnly as brilliant white flames consumed the old elf in her mind’s eye she could see the old face, lined as though someone had draped it with cobwebs, break into a toothy grin. She bit back a sob as she realised she would never hear her friend laugh again. She watched as with a flash of blue, the flames stopped and all that remained of her friend was a blue stone, glowing with the heat of the flames. Ignoring burnt fingers, she tenderly scooped up the stone and pushed to her feet. She could hear the gentle sobbing of the young ones behind her and as she turned to offer then some comfort, several loud pops echoed through the subdued kitchen. A young elf pushed through the crowd and stood before Vetch, his own worry obscuring their grief from him.
“Vetch,” he as good as growled, “times not good. Mistress Minnie in the hospital wing. Brack and Sand tell me Master Filius and Friend Hagrid are too. Mistress Poppy in bad state. She trying to help and a boy find Master Wolf and they now both in bad way.” He broke off staring at Vetch and reached out a shaking hand to her, “Sister?” he queried in a wavering voice.
This broke her out of her trance and she gripped his hand in both of hers, pressing thee now cool stone into it. “Sol,” she whispered, “It now falls to you to carry the Ke’ story.” he looked down in pain and she hid a wince as tears tracked his smooth face. Vetch looked carefully around the room and felt her anger grow at what she found. Brack and Sand were curled together on the floor lost in their own world of grief and guilt. Young, startled, pale faces tear stained and showing open fear were turned towards her in hope and pleading. She looked finally into the heartbroken eyes of her youngest kinsman, now forced to be another tribe’s holder and felt her anger crystallize. Her brilliant eyes turned a deathly black and her tears dried on her cheeks. Magic crackled around her, reaching out comforting tendrils to sooth and its pressure sparking in the air and off the stonewalls. Drawing herself to her full height Vetch felt her back straighten and shoulders set as her advanced years fell from her with the growth of her wrath. Her hands curled into claws and she bared her sharp teeth at her own. Their hearts swelled and their own fighting spirits filled them. Her words did little to dampen the newfound feelings in them, fanning their belief into white-hot flames.
“Brothers. Sisters.” She ground out. “The storm has broken. The storm has once again come to our homes. It’s madness has once again claimed one of our own. Its blackness has once again attacked innocents. I stand against the storm.” She stopped and looked around, raising her voice slightly, emotion and intent filling every word. “I stand against the storm. I stand for Innocence. I will protect those who need me with everything I possess. I stand against the storm,” she roared, her voice changing from the well-known squeak of a house elf into the roar of a seasoned warrior. “Brothers. Sisters. Will you stand with me?”
The reply was deafening in the kitchen. A resounding battle cry filled the air, rolling around the room as its call was taken up by old and young alike. She smirked. “Taking Booty from us was the storms first mistake. Attacking innocents is its second. Its third mistake was rewriting history. Its fourth and final mistake, the nail in its coffin, the sword through its heart was forgetting about us. We are the protectors. We fight for innocence. We let the storm batter us and we will win.” She looked across at the faces eager to do their duty no matter what the cost, pride filled her. They did not know yet they still took up the standard of their forefathers. Her voice softened as she looked at Sol, “We will be avenged.” Silence fell in the kitchen as each elf swore a vow.
Above Hogwarts and across her grounds the storm broke. Rolling black clouds covered the stars and sickly moon. The wind howled across the grounds, rattling the windows and bowing ancient trees. The rain soaked her ancient stones, pouring onto the ground.