Chapter 31 : The Justice of Ravens
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The Justice of Ravens
Council of Ravens
Somewhere in North Wales:
The seven members of the Raven Council, as well as the current Ravenmistress, Arianrhod Melgwyn, gathered in the Hall of Judgment in Ravencrest Castle. Ravencrest had been the seat of the Society for time out of mind, it was a magical fortress hidden away in the misty Welsh hills, surrounded by lofty cliffs that dropped sheerly to the sea on one side, and wild hills where no man trod without leave from a Society member. No Muggle, unless a member, or under a member's protection, could find their way through the hills to the castle. Ordinary magical folk could not either, unless given a charm to guide them. It was said that Ravencrest bordered the Veil, and one wrong step taken could end with you wandering the Land of the Dead. It was formed of a glistening black stone mined only here in the hills, and its lofty towers and fortifications were both beautiful and forbidding. There was amajesty about the old keep that defied description, one had to stand inside the walls or in the courtyard to get a sense of it. From the highest turret flew a flag, a deep blue with a raven flying surrounded by a gold circle. That was the official sigil of the Society, and was flown openly only at this castle.
The castle housed one of the biggest libraries of arcane books and scrolls in either the British Isles or Europe, and was open to any practitioner who sought knowledge for its own sake. The castle would reject anyone seeking to use the magical texts for evil purposes, and the rejection usually took the form of being teleported into the middle of the Wild Wood into a group of unfriendly creatures, like a pride of manticores, or hungry griffins, or bugbears, which were twelve foot tall manlike creatures with the faces and snouts of bears that loved to eat human flesh. Or sometimes being thrown into the ocean where merrows and kelpies would make sport of the dark ones for fun before drowning them.
Several trainees and apprentice archivists were in the library at any given hour, and this day was no different, though the gossip for once was not about the advantages of an obscure text and what it could tell the user, but the prisoner being held in the cell below the hall. Rumors were flying about that this was the infamous Marlene McKinnon, former initiate of the Society, who had been expelled for conduct unbecoming, and had since then gone on to attack a renowned archivist, Irma Pince, putting her in a coma, and steal her key and remove the Codex Magicka from her secret hiding place and use it for her own ends, one of those which was kidnapping the Boy Who Lived. Rumors also hinted that she practiced necromancy, the forbidden art, and had used blood magic as well on a familiar. That she partnered with one of the unquiet dead, a revenant, and trafficked with dark powers. Still other rumors had her dueling a Society member over Harry Potter and striking down a sacred raven!
Any one of those crimes would have blacklisted her for life and resulted in punishment, all of them together branded her a dark witch and a traitor of the first order, doomed to die for the harm she had brought and the knowledge she had misused for evil purposes. It would be the first such trial held at the castle in over a hundred years and many students and initiates wished to attend it.
All were aware that the Council and the Ravenmistress had arrived and were discussing the consequences of former initiate McKinnon's crimes.
Some of the Council favored the "mercy" of a swift transformation, others argued she should simply be executed, either by beheading or a swift acting poison. Still others favored a traditional duel to the death.
But it was the Ravenmistress who had final say, and she would not announce her decision until the trial was over. For there would be a trial, the Society always gave one to those who had trespassed against it, as was proper.
The council members sat about a round table, each with sheaves of parchment in front of them. The Ravenmistress sat, statuesque and proud, in a tall seat, her robes were the black of a raven's plumage, and she had dark golden hair that cascaded to the middle of her back, twined with raven feathers. She looked like a sorceress out of legend, and her eyes were a deep brown. Her robe bore the emblem of the Society on one side and on the other a scepter and a spellbook, indicating her rank. She was tall, topping six feet, and her erect posture only made her seem larger. She appeared to be about forty or so, though rumors had her being much older than she appeared. Her face had an ageless quality about it.
"Have you all reviewed the evidence before you?" she asked.
The Council nodded, there were four witches and three wizards on it.
"Good. Brother Rawlins," she spoke to one of the Society who was trained in the battle arts, and served as a guard. "Fetch the prisoner from the Place of Sorrows and bring her to the hall. Sister Althea, go and make ready the Hall for the trial, ring the bell so that all may witness the trial who wish to. And I shall go and invite our guests, Severus Snape, Harry Potter, and Irma Pince, to come and see justice done to she who harmed them."
Arianrhod stood, her robes sweeping the floor as she strode from the room, her robes flying out behind her like the wings of her beloved ravens. Her familiar, a raven called Tegwyn, was atop one of the castle turrets, sunning herself.
Their guests were in the tower guest rooms, which were outfitted with the most comfortable furniture, and consisted of a suite containing a bedroom, bathroom, and sitting room. Irma had her own room next to Harry and Severus'. Lena would have been there too, but Irma insisted that she stay and oversee the library and the students. The trial would not take more than a day at the most, and Irma, as archivist, needed to be there.
Thus Irma was not surprised when a knock came at her door and the Ravenmistress herself greeted her. "My lady! Irma exclaimed. "Has it begun then?"
"It will be beginning shortly, old friend," Arianrhod told her, leaning forward and giving her the kiss of peace on the left cheek. "Come, you'll need to be in the hall to witness it, Archivist Pince."
"I'd not miss it for all the books in Hogwarts," Irma said. She still had the occasional headache and memory lapse from her injury, though her Healers had assured her such would fade in time.
Arianrhod smiled. "Justice shall be done today, Irma."
Then the Ravenmistress went and knocked upon Severus and Harry's suite.
Severus made sure that Harry's school robe was presentable and his hair lying flat with the aid of some Sleek-EZ hair gel. "There!" He gave Harry a quick once-over, and deemed he was ready.
He then cast a few charms over himself to ensure his robes remained wrinkle-free and dust free. His shoes, like Harry's, had been shined to a high gloss. His hair was neatly combed and pulled back slightly. "All right. Let us go down to the Hall of Justice."
Skullduggery flew in the open casement window and perched upon Severus' shoulder.
Together, they and Irma, who was dressed in a midnight blue robe with the archivist symbol of scroll, book, and candle embroidered on her left breast and sleeves, walked down the long staircase and into the Hall of Justice.
The Hall was not yet filled, but already several of the Society members and their apprentices had gathered and filled some of the padded wooden benches which were set like church pews in front of a large pentacle and a high bench. The bench was where the Ravenmistress would question the accused. The Pentacle of Judgment was where McKinnon would stand. It was a spell circle that bound one's magic and served to keep the accused within bounds without using chains or other barbaric devices. Along the first row of benches on the right side would be the Council members. It would be their votes cast and the Ravenmistress' after hearing the accused and contrasting her story with that of the evidence they'd read which would determine her guilt or innocence. So, Marlene could condemn herself out of her own mouth, so to speak, especially if she tried to lie about something.
The Ravenmistress did not believe in coercing methods, such as torture or use of truth potions, to force an accused to speak the truth. The Society believed that the innocent would tell the truth of their own free will, and the guilty would lie. The Ravenmistress' gift of old magic was the peculiar ability to tell when a person spoke lies or truth. Only the Council knew of it, and it was why she was the judge for any trial.
Harry, Severus, and Irma slipped into the hall and made their way to the third bench from the front. Because they were Irma's guests, as well as victims of the accused, they were accorded the front row. Severus, as a Society member, and Harry, as a bearer of the old magic and his apprentice, were treated with all honor and courtesy by those seated next to them. There was an old wizard with a grey beard and bright hazel eyes who introduced himself as Master Heron, an alchemist. And next to him were two younger members, brother and sister by their appearance, who introduced themselves as Valeric and Elora Jones, both were studying the ancient branch of runes.
More and more members entered the hall, filling in the benches. Harry thought the place rather resembled an old church or cathedral, for the ceiling was buttressed and arched far overhead. When he said as much to Severus, the Potions Master nodded in approval. "You are quite correct, Harry. Once this was the cathedral of this castle, several hundred years ago."
"You have a bright young apprentice there, Brother Severus," chuckled Master Heron. "Not many his age would have noted that."
Harry found himself flushing, he hadn't thought his observation that wonderful.
"Harry often notices things other children miss," Severus said and in his voice was pride for his ward.
"He has a raven's intuition," Skull added, bobbing his head.
"Indeed," said Heron. "Perhaps when he is older, he may petition to become an initiate. I believe he would be a credit to the Society."
"Yes, if he wishes," Severus acknowledged.
Irma touched his sleeve lightly, "Look, Severus! She comes!"
Sure enough, Marlene was led into the room by two tall menacing looking wizards, one on either side of her. They each had hold of her arms and walked briskly up to the pentacle and thrust their prisoner inside. No sooner had Marlene's slippered toes cleared the pentacle border than it glowed a brilliant purple, sealing her inside of it.
To Harry's surprise, she was wearing a plain robe of brown and looked to have been treated well, her hair and face were clean, and though thin, she showed no signs of ill treatment. But her eyes burned with a hellish fire, the fire of a woman consumed by her own hatred and madness. He could not meet her gaze, he feared she might curse him somehow, and so he looked around her, and saw the council members file in by another door, and take their seats. Lastly, Arianrhod herself entered, and came to stand behind the bench.
The herald banged a white staff upon the floor and said in a deep baritone, "Hear ye! Hear ye! The trial of Marlene McKinnon vs. the Society has begun, the Honorable Lady Arianrhod Melgwyn presiding. All rise!"
Everyone rose and gave the Ravenmistress a short reverence. She nodded to those assembled then said, in a clear contralto that could be heard in every corner of the room, "My brethren, we are gathered here to determine the guilt or innocence of a former initiate, Marlene McKinnon, for crimes done to two members, the Boy Who Lived, as well as a sacred raven. This trial is in session, please be silent until all evidence is heard."
Arianrhod quickly established the facts, that Marlene was a former member, ousted for her rigid and narrowminded attitude towards Muggleborns, Slytherins, and some half-bloods in general, and also her militant stand towards purging the world of Death Eaters and those supposedly associated with them.
"While we of the Society abhor the dark practitioner, we do not believe in turning ourselves into assassins or using our knowledge to hunt down such people, unless they directly threaten us or our families. Nor do we believe in refusing anyone through blood status into our ranks, all are welcome, even Muggles. It was your refusal to accept our tenets that got you dismissed, Marlene McKinnon. We had hoped to make you see the error of your ways, but it appears that was a fruitless effort, given your new transgressions."
"You are all fools, Ravenmistress!" Marlene declared angrily. "The Death Eaters will not go away because you refuse to fight them. They grow more numerous every day, and it is only thanks to someone like me that you are not attacked and driven from this castle."
"Indeed?" Aianrhod arched an eyebrow. "Are you truly so arrogant, McKinnon, to think that by your efforts alone we are kept safe? If so, then you forget that this castle has stood for centuries as a bastion of knowledge of magic, and it has weathered more storms of dark magic than you know. Has it never occurred to you, Marlene, that by persecuting Slytherins who have done no one harm, that you are driving them right into the arms of the one you claim to despise? What gives you the right to judge your fellow wizads and witches simply on the fact that they were Sorted into one house or another during school?"
"Slytherins are ambitious, selfish, wicked traitors!" Marlene spat. "Everyone knows that! And it's been proved because look at the worst dark wizard of this age and where he came from. Slytherin, the House of Darkness!"
"True, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was a Slytherin. But there is always good to balance evil, McKinnon. If, as you say, the worst wizard came out of Slytherin, then so too did the best. We revere his name still. Do you know of whom I speak?" asked the Ravenmistress sharply, as if she were a professor lecturing a backward student.
Marlene shook her head. "Nothing good has ever come out of that house."
"Think again. Merlin, the greatest wizard of all time, was a Slytherin."
"You lie! That's . . . impossible!"
Arianrhod laughed scornfully. "Child, I have no need to lie about facts. And it is fact that Merlin was of Slytherin and with his cunning and power, became King Arthur's mentor and advisor and brought magic back into prominence in the world. There is nothing wrong with ambition, Marlene, provided it is used to further good and just causes. There is no one perfect house, McKinnon, and should you claim Gryffindor is, then best you look in the mirror before you say so. For you are a prime example of courage to the point of recklessness and arrogance become intolerance. Look at what you have done, even to those you claim were friends and the child you claim as your godson."
"Everything I did, I did to help them!"
"Truly? You claim Lily Evans was your best friend in school, yes? That she was a brilliant witch and that you cared for her as a sister?"
"But there was something about Lily you disliked. Care to tell what that was?"
Marlene sneered. "She was friends with a rotten Slytherin . . . Severus Snape! He had one foot on the dark road and she refused to see it. I warned her what would happen if she continued to be friends with that creep! He would drag her right down with him. But she ignored me. She favored that slimy dungeon crawler over perfectly suitable Gryffindor boys! Until I convinced her otherwise!"
Severus tensed in his seat. He had, for the most part, ignored the vitriolic words spewing from McKinnon's mouth, after all there was nothing she said that he hadn't heard before. Except for this. He leaned forward, his eyes riveted upon the brown-robed woman.
"And how did you do that, Marlene?" queried Arianrhod softly.
"Lily always had a soft spot for Snape. She used to prattle on and on about how they played together as children and all that rot. She always insisted he had a good heart, despite the fact that he was friends with unsavory sorts. One day he insulted her, and I thought she was through with him, only to discover she would have forgiven him his "slip of the tongue" as she called it. Poor foolish Lily! She never knew what was best. So I convinced her to have nothing more to do with Snape."
"Simple. I used a Forgetfulness Charm and took away her memory of wishing to forgive Snape. Then I used a form of mind control to strip her of all those fond memories of Snape when they were children and friends. I made her lock them away, so she could not access them, and once that was done, she had no trouble telling that lousy Slytherin where to get off."
"You tampered with Lily's memories?" demanded the Ravenmistress harshly.
"In a way. It was for her own good." Marlene declared loftily.
Severus' fists were clenched so tightly they were nearly bloodless. His eyes blazed with fury and it was only Irma's hand upon his arm that kept him from lunging off the bench and at Marlene's throat. "You . . .you . . . bloody bitch!" he rasped. "I should have killed you when I had the chance! How dare you play God and make her forget? How dare you?"
Bitter bile surged up in the back of his throat. Lily's sharp rejection of his apology for that afternoon had always rankled, he had always felt as if his heart had been torn out by her refusal to accept his sincere regret and remorse. Her coldness had caused a wall of ice to grow about his heart, so he would not care when he saw her with his rival, James Potter. So he could forget the searing pain when she had turned on him. He had always wondered how she could have tossed him aside so callously. And now he had his answer.
Harry looked over at his guardian and saw the sudden anguish in the dark eyes. He had known that his professor and his mother had been close as children, but he hadn't really known how deep that friendship had run or how it had ended up until now. Seeing Severus' reaction to this unwelcome news made him think that perhaps it had been a bit more than friendship his Potions Master had lost. He felt a great need to hex his vicious godmother. He also felt a great need to comfort Severus. The comforting impulse won out.
He turned and wrapped his arms about his guardian, leaning his head against the other's shoulder. "Uncle Severus, she was always your friend. She told me so in the dream. And she always loved you," he whispered into Severus' ear. "She didn't mention Mad Marlene at all. Just you."
Severus looked down at the messy-haired youngster curled next to him and gave Harry a squeeze. How like Lily Harry was! "Thank you, little raven." The boy's support of him eased the pain somewhat of losing Lily's trust so long ago. For Harry bore a piece of his beloved within him, and through Harry she would always be with him.
"You're welcome." He glared at Marlene. He was so angry at the witch for causing Severus pain that he blurted out the first thing that came into his head regarding her. "She's so full of shit she squirts when she walks, the smelly old hag!"
"That's telling her, bran-boy!" Skull crowed.
Their seatmates were convulsed with laughter.
Severus didn't know whether to chuckle at the boy's honesty or to smack him upside the head for his mouth. "Harry James Potter! I ought to wash out your mouth for that," he scolded. Then he felt his mouth quirk up in a reluctant half-grin. "But it is the truth, so I'll let you off this time. Next time, young man, you'll be chewing a bar of Ivory, so help me." And he flicked his fingers against the back of his ward's head.
Harry winced, but all he said was, "Yes, sir. But I couldn't resist, after what she said she did to you and Mum."
"Hush. The Ravenmistress is speaking." Severus ordered as Arianrhod resumed the questioning.
The council heard about Marlene's stealing of the Codex from its hiding spot, discovered by the revenant she had summoned to keep tabs upon the librarian. The revenant had gotten the secret from Irma's mind. It had also dined upon poor Pippin after getting the information Marlene needed. Marlene herself had lain in wait for her and stolen the key and the book after knocking Irma out. She had also shredded the other books to serve as a decoy before departing.
The whispers around the hall grew to a grumbling cry of outrage. Books were sacred to the members of the Society, to willfully destroy them was a terrible waste and almost killing their archivist and murdering her familiar was even worse, as was stealing an artifact.
But even worse yet was the fact that McKinnon felt no remorse over her deeds, she in fact sought to justify them, as she did her kidnapping of Harry and her discipline of him with her ruler, as well as her threat to make him forget Severus. Her attack on Skull she called self defense, even though she had been about to harm Harry, a mere child.
"He is my godson, and I have a responsibility to teach him proper behavior," she told Arianrhod haughtily. "No child ever died of a good thrashing."
"I beg to differ on that score," said the Ravenmistress coldly. "Plenty of children have died under the so-called necessary discipline of a parent or relative. Besides which, you had no legal right to discipline Harry Potter, as you were not among those named as godparent in the Potters' last will and testament."
"That's not so! I was Lily's second choice as godmother, she just never got around to putting it down. Alice Longbottom is vegetating in St. Mungos, nuttier than a fruitcake, how much influence can she have over the boy? As it is, I was too late, and that filthy cauldron licker corrupted him!"
"In what way did Severus Snape corrupt him?"
"He turned my godson into a Slytherin lover! Fed him lies and taught him to hate his own House!"
"You're a bloody liar!" Harry yelled, starting to stand up.
Severus grabbed him about the waist and pulled him back. "Harry, stop! Everyone knows that, now calm down."
"Foul! Foul!" Skullduggery screeched, flying into the air. "Thou harridan, thou lying tongue spake falsities as thy arse spake stinking air! Thou doth make a warthog smell sweet as a spring morn, thou bag of manure, thou reject from an elephant's hind end!"
Severus put a hand over his face. "Skullduggery!" he groaned. Why was it that out of all the ravens in the castle only his familiar had the temerity to speak out during a public trial? Between the raven and his ward, Severus wondered when his heart was going to stop and he would die of embarrassment.
Thank Merlin the Society and Arianrhod were used to insolent ravens and so took no offense.
Indeed many were amused and agreeing with the mouthy bird.
Before the Ravenmistress could conclude her questioning, there came a tremendous THUD that shook the castle to its foundations.
Everyone jumped and some screamed in shock.
"What was that?"
"Maybe we're under attack?"
"Settle down!" ordered the Ravenmistress. "Tegwyn, go and see just what the disturbance is," she ordered her familiar.
But before her raven could take wing, the doors were thrown open and a young woman with short spiky red hair dressed in leather rushed in. "Forgive me, Ravenmistress, but I had to tell you . . . there is a red and gold Pendragon outside the castle! She calls herself Lady Isolde and she is convinced that the thief who stole her egg is here in this castle."
Gasps of astonishment echoed all over the room.
Arianrhod murmured in surprise, then said to the young woman, "Audrey, ask her when her egg was stolen and how she tracked it here."
"At once, Ravenmistress." The girl bowed and raced out.
A few of the more daring members were muttering and following the girl. Harry longed to follow too, but Severus had him staying firmly in place. "Uncle Severus," he protested. "Can't I go and see?"
"You may not," said his guardian firmly. "Have you forgotten what nearly happened last time you encountered a mother Pendragon?"
"No, but . . . what if it's her?"
"If it is, the best course of action would be to stay far from her," Severus said.
Harry sighed and swung his feet against the bench. Really, he only wanted a look! It wasn't like he' be running up and hugging the beast! "But I just—"
"What part of no don't you understand, Mr. Potter?" asked his guardian testily. "Stop behaving like a three-year-old this instant, before I put you in time out."
Harry blanched and quit swinging his feet and pouting. Severus never made idle threats. Then he got an idea. "Skull, would you recognize the mama Pendragon?"
The raven bobbed his head affirmatively. "Of course, Harry. She's the first dragon I ever conversed with who didn't want to barbecue me. Want me to have a look see?"
Skull took wing off Severus' shoulder before the wizard could say anything.
Some six minutes later, Skull returned . . . along with the young girl called Audrey . . . and a familiar red and gold dragon, greatly reduced in size, walking beside her. They were trailed by a smaller version of the adult Pendragon, who looked curiously about her.
Skull landed on Severus' shoulder again. "When Audrey spoke to her, Lady Isolde decided she needed to come speak with us herself."
Severus stared. "Surely that's not the same dragon that attacked the Astronomy Tower. That one was huge!"
"She used a size altering charm, Sev!" Skull hissed.
Harry's eyes were riveted upon the smaller Pendragon. He would know that waddle anywhere, as well as the golden speckles upon her left side. "Viv!" he whispered. "Viviane!"
He thought he spoke low enough so only Skull and Severus would hear. He forgot that a dragon has superior hearing, not to mention smell.
Suddenly, the baby dragon picked up her head, sniffed the air, and then gave a loud, "Meep! Meep!" She had not forgotten the two-legged human who had tended her as a new hatchling. She had missed him.
She veered suddenly and charged over to where Harry was sitting, shoving her head, which was now half the size of Harry, into the pew and making a curious trilling sound, her eyes glowing with love. Her breath wafted over him, a curious blend of wildflowers and roasted meat.
"Viviane! It really is you!" Harry exclaimed, scratching her behind her eye ridge. "You still remember!"
Viv cooed at him happily.
"Harry, will you please get this dunderhead dragonet off me!" grunted Severus, who was being crushed against the bench by Viv's head.
"Ooops! Sorry, sir!" Harry apologized. "Viv, don't kill my guardian, okay?" He shoved the dragonet's head backwards.
Viviane gave a sort of apologetic snort and withdrew her head.
Harry slid out of the pew and came to stand next to the dragonet, who was bigger than he was now. "Wow! You've grown so much!"
Viv crooned at him. Then she brought her head level with Harry's chest and tried to snuggle him, nearly knocking him backwards.
Harry's arms went about her and he tried to hug her, a dopey grin on his face.
The little Pendragon purred happily then said, "Har-ry!"
Harry's mouth dropped open. "Viv, you can talk?"
Suddenly he found himself face to face with a pair of enormous eyes and a long fanged snout as Isolde had turned about to see why her offspring was no longer following.
"She has done nothing but babble your name since gaining the ability to speak tongues," Isolde hissed in fond exasperation. "I'm beginning to regret teaching her human speech, young wizard."
Harry gulped and gave the mother dragon a tentative smile. "Uh . . . hi, pleased to meet you, my lady. I'm Harry Potter."
Isolde snorted and a cloud of gray smoke rolled over the apprentice wizard. "Yes, boy, I know exactly who you are," she said wearily. "I hear Harry this and Harry that upwards of a thousand times all day."
Severus was on his feet by then, his wand clutched in his fist. He could not help but recall the last time he had seen this dragon, flying above Hogwarts, ready to flame his ward.
The female Pendragon swung her head about and cocked an amused eye at him. "Oh, do sit down, master wizard! I shall not roast your apprentice. My dragonet would never forgive me, not to mention I owe him a debt for caring for my little one. That night . . . I was not myself . . . I was angry and frightened, as I'm sure you can relate to."
"Yes, my lady, I certainly can," Severus said, giving her a bow.
The Pendragon smiled toothily. "Mmm . . . I trust you impressed upon the boy the folly of challenging me that night?"
"I did, Lady Isolde," Severus replied. "Most firmly."
Isolde dipped her head. "Younglings!" Her tone was one that any parent could relate to—loving exasperation. "They drive you to chew your own tail, do they not?"
"Err . . . in a manner of speaking, yes," Severus agreed.
Harry sniggered into his sleeve. Viv purred, "Har-ry! Har-ry!"
Isolde rolled her eyes. "Still, you ought to be proud of the child. He did an honorable thing, raising my daughter. Most humans would have killed her in the egg. Might I have your name, master wizard?"
"I am Severus Snape, Potions Master, my lady."
"You are to be commended, Severus Snape, for your careful teaching of your boy here." Then her eyes narrowed. "Who, I would assume, no longer uses dragon parts in your potions."
"Not any longer, lady," Severus managed to say, a cold chill racing down his spine. He mentally began calculating how many potions used dragon parts and what to substitute for them.
"That is well." Isolde snorted. She looked lovingly at her dragonet, then said, "Harry, would you look after Viviane while I attend to this unpleasant business?"
"I would be honored," Harry said, still hugging Viv's head to him.
"You have my thanks." The Pendragon said regally, then she swung herself about and continued towards the Ravenmistress and Marlene, who had gone the color of a week old corpse inside the pentacle.
Isolde bared her teeth and gave a snarl, which echoed about the chamber and caused people to hold their ears in pain. "Thief! Your hour of reckoning has come due!"
"Meep!" Viviane squeaked, and tried to hide behind Harry. "Mama's mad."
"I don't blame her," Harry said, shivering. He patted the dragonet's shoulder.
Marlene appeared as if she were about to pass out. She began to moan softly.
Isolde's nostrils smoldered, and she hissed, "Ravenmistress, this mortal has dared trespass upon me. She stole my egg, and my dragonet within it, some months ago, while I hunted. When I returned and found my egg missing, I immediately sought to find the thief, but she had cast a web of confusion about my lair, and I was trapped within it. It took me several weeks to break free and when I did, I tracked my dragonet to the school your kind calls Hogwarts. I thought at first the young apprentice there was the thief, but I was mistaken. Now I have the scent of the true thief and she is here before you!"
The hall went deathly still.
Arianrhod swallowed and said respectfully, "Mighty Isolde, I regret that this one standing before you has committed such an offense. Know that she has committed other offenses against us and shall be punished according to our laws."
The Pendragon cocked her head. "And what shall be the penalty, Ravenmistress?"
"She shall forfeit her life."
Marlene began to sob. "Mercy, I beg thee!"
"Silence!" snapped the Ravenmistress. "For what you have done, willingly and with malice aforethought, there is only one mercy I shall grant you . . . a swift death."
"'Tis fitting. Might I carry out the sentence then?" the Pendragon asked. "Then our honor shall be satisfied."
Arianrhod had no choice but to agree. One does not gainsay a Pendragon bent on revenge.
Isolde's eyes glittered a fiery red. She drew in a deep lungful of air.
Harry covered Viv's eyes with his hands. "Don't look," he whispered, then he shut his own.
There came a white hot jet of flame from Isolde's mouth.
Inside the pentacle was a smoking spot on the floor, all that remained of Marlene McKinnon.
"Damn!" Irma muttered. "Justice has been served, all right."
Severus nodded. "There was one thing, however, that I would have liked to ask her."
"What was that?"
"Where in hell the revenant she summoned is now," answered the Potions Master softly. "Unless I am mistaken, it is still roaming free, and now that she is dead, all bindings upon it are loosed."
"Merciful Merlin!" Irma paled.
Before they could speak further, Isolde returned to collect her offspring. "Come, child," she crooned softly. "My business here is finished, 'tis time to go home."
Viv shook her head. "But Mama . . .Har-ry!"
"Harry must remain here and go to school." Isolde sighed.
Viv curled her head and looked at Harry upside down. "Why?"
"It's what wizards do. Now say goodbye, Viviane."
The dragonet whined. "Come back soon?"
The little dragon nuzzled Harry. Two huge tears of liquid gold slid down her cheeks and clinked into Harry's palm. "Miss Har-ry!"
Harry stared at the tears. He hadn't known dragons wept, much less tears of gold. "I'll miss you too, Viv," he said, hugging her as much as he could. His own eyes were wet. "But you be good and go with your mama. She needs you and you belong with her, understand?"
"Yess . . ." Viviane hissed sadly. "Love Mama." Then she slurped Harry's cheek. "Love Har-ry too."
Harry grimaced. "Aww, Viv!"
Isolde let out a rumble of amusement. "She shall never forget you, Harry Potter. Keep the tears she has shed for you. It is a rare thing, for a Pendragon to weep for a mortal. Your master can tell you the properties of dragon tears. For your service, I name you dragonfriend. May the fire of your magic burn ever bright." And the great dragon dipped her head in reverence.
Then she snapped her head up. "Viviane, come."
"Leave now?" the dragonet whimpered.
"Yes." The Pendragon said, and she began to walk up the aisle, her tail dragging.
"Har-ry come?" Viv asked hopefully.
"Not now." Isolde heaved a vast sigh.
"Yes, child. Now tell Harry goodbye."
Viviane looked from her retreating mother to the wizard she had bonded with, torn.
Harry gently shoved her. "Go on!" He kissed the top of her head. "I love you too, now get!"
Isolde paused before the doors, which were thrown open and craned her head around. "Viviane!" she said in a tone of extreme exasperation.
The dragonet made up her mind. "Coming, Mama! Bye, Har-ry!"
Then she raced up the aisle, her tail nearly knocking over some benches in her wake.
Isolde scooped her up in one clawed forefoot and exited the hall.
Harry suddenly followed, needing to see them depart. Several others accompanied him.
The Pendragon left the castle and once in the courtyard her form shimmered and enlarged to giant proportions, until she was once again her normal size. She gave a gigantic leap and was airborne, her wings spreading until they nearly blotted out the sun sinking in the west. She soared higher, circled once about the castle.
"Farewell, wizards!" she called, then she shot off to the west and disappeared.
Harry clutched the dragon tears in his palm. He knew he should feel privileged and honored. He did, but he also would miss Viv. "Bye, Viv." He blinked sharply.
He felt a hand on his shoulder.
It was Severus. He said nothing, merely handed Harry a handkerchief to blot his eyes.
But Harry knew he understood and he leaned against the black clad sorcerer and gazed up at the sky wondering when he would see Viviane again.
A/N: And so justice is served, Pendragon style. This chapter was for everyone who asked to see Viv again. Hope you all liked!
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