Balm led them through the halls that they had followed before, taking them into the front hall and then the sitting room. Pausing before the entrance to the room, Balm turned to them and said, “I advise you not to take any offensive actions. My master is a dangerous man when provoked, and none of us wish harm upon you. But if you force it...”
“Yeah yeah,” murmured Ron. “We get it. Let's get on with it, can't we?” Balm nodded and opened the door.
“He awaits you,” he said softly, waving them through. Harry gave him a glance as he passed the butler, and received a mysterious smile in response. He frowned, but wasn't given more time to dwell on it.
As they entered, Harry saw Boykotte standing before the fire. He was muttering, and Harry noticed a small whispering sound. A movement in the mirror caused him to look up at it yet again, and he saw the face again. This time, it was rather familiar. Then it vanished. Strange, he thought. Am I seeing things?
“Why, may I ask, were you wandering around tonight?” inquired the head of house casually.
“Dominion,”said Harry. “I wanted to talk to him. There were some things to discuss.”
“The war, I presume,” muttered the man. He added, apparently sensing Harry's surprise, “Oh yes, I'm aware of the war. We're perched upon the brink of the apocalypse, it seems. But in any case, you couldn't have waited until tomorrow?”
“My friends are suspicious...and so am I,” replied Harry. He noticed the mirror flickering again, and he realized that if he scanned the glass from his peripheral vision, he could make out a faint visage studying him. Who or what...?
His musings were interrupted as Boykotte spoke without turning around. “What has she told you?” he asked quietly, facing the fire, his posture stiff.
“Er...pardon?” asked Ron, who jerked back as Malcom whipped his head to the side. His eyes were narrowed and fierce, the eyes of a hawk, calculating, preparing to strike.
“I asked,” repeated the man slowly, “what lies has she told you?” He turned to look at them, his eyes darting between them.
“I-I didn't talk to her...” said Ron slowly, looking at Harry, who was staring hard at Malcom. His eyes burned with anger.
“Everything,” said Harry. “Well, almost everything. There are some things I'm waiting to hear from you.”
“Perhaps I shouldn't use the word 'lies',” said Boykotte thoughtfully, his gaze wandering away from them. “It would be more of a biased truth.”
“Biased?” echoed Harry dubiously. “How? It's hard to be overly biased about kidnapping.”
The man laughed. “Kidnapping...” he chortled, shaking his head. “Haha, kidnapping is a negative action. What I did saved her life. Had she remained with your family, she would have died. Killed by that dark wizard.”
Harry had to admit to the wizdom in this. “But why not afterward?” he asked. “Didn't you know I killed Voldemort?”
“Oh, but there were people waiting to take his place,” explained Boykotte, his eyes widening as he looked around at Harry. “People who knew he would fall, and were biding their time. People determined to bring this world to its knees.”
Harry was reminded of O'Brea's words. “The Talismanic Group?” he asked. Malcom nodded gravely, beginning to pace.
“The very same,” he said. “A very ambitious group, they were. Intelligent, resourceful, willing to do whatever it took to achieve their ends. Anything from theft to murder, nothing was beyond them.”
He paused. “They chanced upon a fortune teller with the ability to see the future. Struck with the desire to know the chances of their success, they demanded that their palms be read. And that...that is when your sister was marked.”
Harry's blood ran cold in his veins. “Marked?” he repeated softly. He heard Narcissa shift behind him, disturbed.
The head of house nodded. “Marked,” he said again. “After looking at their palms, the fortune teller said that the daughter of the flame-haired prodigy would bring the plans of the Ascensionists to an unfruitful end.” He stopped and looked at Harry again. “They guessed that it would be your mother who would give birth to the girl, but decided to wait until a more opportune time to take care of her. A relative of one of them informed me of their plans. I decided that I couldn't allow the future to be placed at risk by standing by and doing nothing.
“So I took her. I hid myself and stood by as first you were delivered, then she was. I quickly Obliviated the midwife and your mother and father. It took quite a bit of skillful magic. Taking your sister, I fled, bringing her here, where I have raised her ever since.”
“And you didn't release her after Voldemort's death because...?” inquired Harry. Narcissa snorted softly.
“Well, I should think that part obvious. She would be in danger! She might die within a week.” He shook his head. 'After all, she is being hunted by them.”
“They are dead now,” said Harry. “They were killed. By the Grindelwald brothers.”
Boykotte snorted. “Not all of them The most skilled remain out there somewhere. And as soon as she is noticed, they will come sweeping down and...”
“How can she ruin their plans when she is trapped here?” demanded Harry, frustrated. “She isn't able to do much where she is.”
“Ah, but has she the skill to do what is needed?” asked Boykotte in response. “She isn't exactly trained.”
“And whose fault is that?” snapped Harry. “Let me take her. I'll train her, and then we can fight the Ascensionists and bring down Dominitus together.”
“Dominitus...” murmured Malcom in horror. “Well, good luck with that my boy, but you aren't putting Hannah in the way of danger. Keep death and destruction on your end, and leave peace at ours.”
“I can't,” said Harry. “I'm taking her. She doesn't want to be here, and if I have to, I'll fight you to the death to free her.”
“Well then, I'm afraid I have no choice but to take action against you and imprison you. I know your type. You'll get out, then muster your strength and launch an assault against my manor. Let's just head off all the complications, shall we?” With that, he nodded behind them, and Harry sensed movement. There was a soft gasp, and Narcissa fell, unconscious.
He immediately spun, lifting his leg so that his foot struck the approaching Balm in the chest. Balm was sent flying up and through a wall, leaving a sizable hole. Harry heard a faint crashing as the butler landed, and knew he wouldn't be coming back soon.
Hearing Ron grunt, Harry turned and saw him clutching his jaw. “Punching Jinx,” Ron muttered, then hurled himself at Boykotte. The man waved his wand, and Ron was suddenly encased in a steel coffin that molded itself like a pharaoh's tomb. It crashed to the floor, rolling past Malcom. It shook violently, but he paid it no mind. He looked at Harry.
“Well?” he said mildly. “I'm ready.”
Harry lashed out with his wand. “Reducto!” he snapped, and Boykotte blocked it with a flock. He blocked Harry's Impediment Jinx with another flick, then his Flipendo with a brisk wave before twisting his wand in Harry's direction. Harry leaped aside, and hearing the air spin as the spell passed, he knew he would have been bent into a defenseless position.
“Poor,” scoffed the head of house, advancing upon Harry. “Very poor...I expected more of you, Harry.” He frowned delicately.
Harry growled, then jabbed his wand. “Spiculum!” he snarled without thinking, and a dozen arrows converged on Boykotte...only to dissolve.
“You should try better than that, my boy,” said the man genially. “That Arrow Spell is a rather basic offensive.”
“Pango! Razora mesha! Swarmata pestes!” Harry shouted, sending a hammer, a net of barbed wire, and a cloud of vicious insects at Boykotte. The man turned the hammer to smoke, vanished the net, and burned the bugs away.
“Try harder, Potter!” he urged. “Give it your all! You have more, I know it!”
Harry scowled, and pocketed his wand. Enough spells...it was time for elements. He raised his hands, and out poured a torrent of flame. Boykotte watched the fire.
“See? I knew you had more tricks than that,” he said calmly, and as the fire reached him, it puffed into nonexistence. Harry stared.
“Flagration Repression Spell,” chuckled Malcom. “My great grandfather was a dragon hunter. Maybe I should have warned you that flames were no use against – AHH!” he ducked as a shower of icicles flew at him.
“I have plenty of others,” said Harry, stepping forward. “Three, to be exact.” He waved his hand, and Malcom rolled aside as a ball of water rushed by.
“You have all the elements, eh?” he asked. “Very interesting. And potentially fatal for me. But it's only potential.”
“Really?” asked Harry, and he sent a large gust of wind at the head of house, who nimbly dodged, stepping right into the next blast of air. Falling, Boykotte blasted the ceiling with his wand, causing a large chunk of wood to fall on top of Harry. He collapsed, flailing. As his wrist struck the wood, Harry's wand flew from his hand, landing several feet away.
“Harry, Harry,” chided Malcom. “Can't keep a hold on your wand?” He got to his feet. Harry glanced over at the metal coffin that contained Ron, which lay still. He looked back at Boykotte.
“You can't win this,” he said, trying to buy time. “You'll never win.”
Boykotte chuckled. “Oh,” he said, “but I already have.” he started forward, but stopped at the sound of a roar. He whirled. “What in the world?” he said quietly, listening.
The roar grew louder, and then a large shape barreled through the doorway. “I'M COMING HARRY!” yelled Dudley. He stumbled over a chair, then tripped and fell on his face. Harry's eyes followd his cousin's fall, and noticed something else. His wand.
“Dudley!” yelled Harry. “My wand!” The blonde boy looked up and spotted the stick of wood. He reached out a ham-sized hand and grasped the magical rod. “Harry!” he called. “Catch!” He threw it.
Harry reached for it, but a sweep of Boykotte's wand sent the other wand tumbling back toward Dudley, who caught it, stunned. With a surge of strength, Harry heaved upward, freeing himself. He threw a wave of air at Malcom, but the head of house twisted the wind aside, then flicked his wand. Harry began to spin, and he saw Malcom raise his wand...
“Dudley!” shouted Harry. “Flipendo!”
He glimpsed Dudley blinking, then bellowing “Flipendo!” and saw a jet of yellow light an inch thick leap from the wand's tip, striking Malcom in the chest. The man was astonished for one instant; then he was flung against the wall, and Harry stopped spinning. He waited for his head to settle, before walking over to Boykotte. He stared down at him. The head of house peered over at where his wand lay. He looked back up at Harry. The boy gazed down. “Dudley, my wand,” he said, and caught it as it was thrown. With a muttered word, he bound Malcom Boykotte in ropes. Malcom frowned at the bindings.
“Well,” he said, “it seems you have won after all.”
“No,” said a female voice. “He hasn't.” a sound of footsteps coming into the room.
Harry whirled to see Hannah holding Hermione by the arm. Hermione's wand was in his sister's hand, directed at his lover's temple.
“Drop your wand, Harry. Or she dies,” directed Hannah, her dark eyes focused on her brother. Harry slowly set his wand down. He looked at his sister in confusion.
“Hannah,” he asked. “What's going on? Why are you doing this?”
“All in good time,” she answered. “But first, allow me to show you my preferred form.” She closed her eyes. Then, before Harry's disbelieving eyes, she transformed, becoming a voluptuous woman with scarlet hair and nails. Harry thought of Tonks' ability, and shook his head, refusing to think it. Her blood-red lips curved into a sensuous smile as she opened her eyes, revealing crimson irises. Her eyes stared into his.
“Shocked?” she asked. “Yes, brother, I am a Metamorphmagus. It's too bad you don't have that talent. It might have helped you here.” She sighed dramatically, then said, “And now, the part I have been waiting for.”
“What exactly is it you've been waiting for?” asked Harry and heard Ron saying something in his coffin. She gave it a dismissive glance, then looked at him and said, “I'm going to tell you a story. The truth of why I was kidnapped.”
********************* *************************** in the next chapter...
“No, Hannah, don't!” gasped Boykotte, struggling against his bonds. A hand wriggled, stretching the wand that lay beyond his reach. He looked desperately at Harry's sister. “Don't say anything more!”
“Oh, don't be such a frightened ninny,” snapped Hannah, still gazing at Harry. “It won't matter once I'm finished. As it is, they have no where to go. Who can they tell?”
“It won't matter?” echoed Harry, blinking. “What are you going to do, kill us?” He looked into her smirking face and realized that was exactly what she intended to do.
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