Chapter 18 : 18- Mother and Father
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“So…” Saxon said after nearly twenty minutes of silent driving. “You grew up around here then?” Marietta gave him a sideways narrow-eyed glance. “Oh come on, you’re not going to make me sit in an awkward silence while listening to this scrap heap fall apart, are you?”
Marietta sighed. “Yes, but we moved when I started Hogwarts and my parents moved on to work at the Ministry.” Out of the corner of her eye, through the dirt smeared window, she spotted a particularly large open green field with a number of sheep and lambs grazing and lambkins frolicking around their dining parents. “Dad loved the countryside.” She murmured dreamily. “Only reason Mum stayed as long as she did was because of him.”
“And your Dad… he’s-”
“Dead, yeah.” Marietta answered quickly. “He died the Summer I left Hogwarts. He got bitten by a Nundu; nothing anyone could do. Why, need more notes on the level three do you?” She finished with a snap.
Saxon sighed and returned to staring out of the window for a brief moment before trying again. “You know, I’m surprised you didn’t make a bigger deal out of that whole sleeping with Mosby thing.”
“Oh, I was livid,” Marietta explained. “But you were outdone somewhat by that freak asking for pictures.”
Saxon gave a snort of laughter. “By the way, when we interrupted Mosby, he said something to Umbridge about Bomani needing convincing. Any idea on what..?”
But Marietta merely shook her head silently.
“So you’ve heard no rumours? No…” But again, all he got was the silent shaking of the head.
Noticing that this was all he was going to get from that conversation, Saxon starred at her exasperated. “Sounds of the scrap heap it is then.” And he pulled out the piece of parchment that was his only contact to the American Ministry and began tapping it with his wand.
The old Landcruiser continued its way up the winding country road in solitude; passing only greenery and crops with the only other living thing in sight being live-stock.
For over an hour they continued to trundle along with Marietta becoming more agitated with every yard.
“We’re still on the right road.” Saxon spoke out just as Marietta was about to speak. “There was a sign about half a mile back; we’re still on Highland Road.”
“I’m surprised you can see anything what with your face being buried in a bit of parchment.” Marietta replied as she began surreptitiously looking for any other signs.
“Just because you can’t let your focus slip without almost rolling us off the road doesn’t mean the rest of the world can’t do more than one thing at a time.”
Marietta was about to retort when a large brown manor house climbed into view atop a grassy hill in the distance. “That’s it. That’s got to be it.” Marietta said, a little more desperately than she would have liked, as she pointed out the building to her Auror.
“Only one way to find out.” Saxon said as he put away his parchment and readied his wand.
A little further up the road they came across a turning next to a sign labelled ‘Wandworth Estate: Privet Property’ in slanted gold letters.
“Specialis Revelio” Saxon cried out after winding down his window and waving his wand. “Seems clear but drive slowly so I can make sure.”
Marietta dared not argue. The last thing they needed was an alerted Umbridge and so she obliged and began the slow crawl up the cobbled path, surrounded by an avenue of thick, colourful poplar and lime trees. She kept up the same pace for the next twenty minutes until they finally made it to the impressive estate’s front yard.
Again Saxon enacted his Spell Revealing Charm and Marietta felt her heart jump to her throat at the sight if his face.
“What? What is it?” She asked, drawing out her own wand.
“There’s nothing here.” He answered cautiously. “Not so much as an Early-Warning Spell. Why?”
Marietta looked around as though looking for any surrounding enchantments. “Well, maybe she didn’t want any Wizards or Witches thinking that there’s something here.” She suggested. “If she’d concealed this place with spell on top of spell someone at the Ministry might’ve noticed and come calling.”
Saxon stared at the building suspiciously. “Keep a lookout.” He ordered as he opened the car door. “I’m going to do a quick sweep of the surroundings; make sure I haven’t missed anything.” And without another word, Saxon was off with his wand raised high and his quiet incantations growing quieter the further he got.
Feeling helpless, Marietta took in a deep breath and left the car herself. A comforting Summer breeze washed over her as she stared up at the building. While it was certainly an impressive size and perfectly placed for seclusion, she couldn’t help but notice how imposing it looked close up. It’s dark brown colour, its aged almost decrepit structure, even its curtain-drawn leaded light windows seemed to be giving her an unspoken warning. Upon closer inspection of the windows however, Marietta spotted a thin layer of dust around their edges. Umbridge’s father’s estate…
“Well it all seems clear to me.” Saxon’s voice rang out when he finally returned. “But I still don’t like the ease of this so stay on guard. What are you-?”
“Didn’t Goyle say that this belonged to Umbridge’s dad?” Marietta asked.
“So why does it look as though no one’s been here for an age?” She pressed.
“Well,” Saxon began as he started to take in the estate himself. “Maybe he’s dead and it was his.”
“No,” Marietta said walking up to the blackened oaken door. “If that were the case surely it would be Umbridge’s estate. She’d refer to it as her own not her father’s. And Davey back at the bar said-”
“That a strange fella lived here. Well, if there is another Umbridge we have to jinx, odds are we’ll find ‘em.” Saxon said as he joined her. “Ready?” On Marietta’s nod, he raised his wand. “Alohomora!” The heavy door swung open, slamming into the wall at its side, and revealed the large, handsome entrance hall. While it was adorned with a variety of ornaments; including swords, decorative china plates and a large full bookshelf, what was most breath-taking was the open ceiling that allowed them to see the two landings that the wide staircase at the centre of the hall led up to after splitting off on its contact with the wall.
“Homenum Revelio!” Saxon echoed out but it was clear by his lack of action that there was no one around but them. Even another one of his Spell Revealing Charms had nothing to show.
“This doesn’t feel right, Marietta.” Saxon warned as he looked around.
“Good,” She said in a shaky voice. “We’re in the right place then.” And she began examining the drawing room that led off to the right.
As she began her inspection around the bookshelf lined room, she noticed that sitting atop the otherwise clear mahogany desk was a small picture frame containing a magical photograph of a young family holidaying on some beach. Marietta gasped as the daughter who stared grumpily up at her was unmistakably Dolores Umbridge of around thirteen or fourteen years old. She had the same bulging eyes on her then fresh and smooth rounded face and her hair was much thicker and mousy brown though there was no sign of the deranged smile in the picture or any smile from the young girl at all.
With the exception of the naturally bright smile, it was clear she had inherited her looks and figure from her father for her mother appeared quite normal looking in comparison with a plain and slim pale face surrounded by blond hair and sparkling brown eyes much like the handsome young boy that stood beaming next to Dolores. Her brother. Dolores Umbridge’s brother. Marietta had never even heard of Dolores having a sibling or any immediate family for that matter. Her father’s manor. Not her family’s or parent’, but her father’s specifically.
“Okay,” She could hear Saxon snapping her concentration away from the picture. “You’re a classic megalomaniac with a need to imprison someone and have a manor all your own to do it,” Giving in to the curiosity, Marietta peered back around the drawing room door to see the Auror pressing into different parts of the floor with the point of his shoe. “So, where else are you going to keep ‘em but- Lacum Aperio!” He swiped his wand through the air and, as though he had pulled some sort of invisible string that had been attached to it, a trapdoor hidden amongst the marble floor right beside the staircase was flung open. “An underground dungeon.” Saxon finished smugly. “Honestly I’m almost disappointed by how textbook she is.”
“Good, you can go down first then.” Marietta said as she cautiously approached the opening. It was clearly a modification of Umbridge’s, she thought, as its interior held a completely different style to that of the rest of the house and its shining stone steps were large enough for three to walk down in a row and still have space to spare.
Shrugging, Saxon strode over to the trapdoor and, after more Revealing Charms, began to climb down with his lit wand held aloft. After several seconds of hearing no disturbances, Marietta followed.
It appeared that their lit wands were unnecessary for the moment they reached the hallway of the hidden basement, the torches that surrounded them flared into life and illuminated the brick-walled tunnel before them. For what looked like a straight mile the corridor carried on with countless large wooden doors slotted in-between the torches.
“Right then,” Saxon began as he approached the nearest door to him. “You take the ones on the right, I’ll take the ones on the left.”
And so, with repeated incantations of “Alohomora” the pair each began their search. After nearly a solid ten minutes, Marietta found herself much further down than her companion. Clearly, whereas her one and only intention was discovering the whereabouts of her mother, Saxon was taking the advantage of looking through the secrets of a high level target like Umbridge. Not that there was much to go through. Whenever a box of documents were found they were dated from before even the war against Lord Voldemort or when a suspicious bottle was discovered, upon closer inspection, it turned out to merely be outdated wine.
“She would have given everything she had away.” Marietta explained after Saxon had stormed out of another empty storeroom. “A peace offering to her beloved new Minister.”
Her explanation seemed to fall on deaf ears however as Saxon opened his next room and began searching it just as he had done with the others.
Sighing, Marietta went on to her next unopened door when a feint noise pierced the silence and froze her where she stood. Unless she was very much mistaken, it sounded like a heavy, chesty cough.
Skipping a number of doors, she moved swiftly to where she’d heard the noise come from and began pressing her ear up against the suspected entrances.
Voices, she thought to herself on the second door she had pressed herself against. After the same loud coughing fit confirmed that this was place she turned to Saxon. “I think I’ve found them!” She shouted, already aiming her wand.
“Hang on, I’m coming!”
“Alohomora!” The heavy black door swung open to reveal a room just as large as the manor’s entrance hall though with none of the glamor. It was as though the inside of a giant cube of coal had been carved out and filled with over a dozen men and women who were all lay on the floor. As the light from the corridor filled the room, Marietta’s eyes found themselves on one prisoner in particular; the one that possessed the exact same colour of reddish-blond hair as hers.
But Marietta had already started her way down the rickety wooden steps that led into Umbridge’s prison.
Saxon had finally caught up but just as Marietta had reached the halfway point, something both solid and invisible caught her foot.
Time seemed to slow down as Marietta fell for several things then happened all at once. She heard the door at the top of the stairs slam shut, heard the angry voice of Saxon cry out “No!” as well as another, unfamiliar voice say, weakly “Stupid girl!”
There was a creaking noise as well coming from the black walls, as though something was growing within them. All of this registered with Marietta just before she felt her body tumble down the wooden stairs.
Every inch of her body aching and shaking, she forced herself to look up only to see that Saxon’s wand tip was now the only source of light and that he was pointing it at the walls. Marietta’s heart sank. Something wasn’t growing within the walls, but rather on them, she realised as a thin watery substance began spreading itself across the room.
“Finite Incantatem!” Saxon cried though all this accomplished was a sort of rippling effect, as though he’d merely thrown a pebble at it. “Devotio Finis! Vomi Novio!” Two more ripples appeared on the growing shield and the pair watched helplessly as it surrounded them and encased the entire room.
Desperate to correct her mistake, Marietta pointed her wand at the door and cried “Alohomora!” But this merely produced a fourth ripple.
Saxon stared at the door hopelessly. “I told you to wait…” He growled.
“I-I’m sorry…” Marietta said, breathlessly; the familiar ice-cold chill of fear pumping through her.
“Save your apologies.” He grunted before pointing his wand upwards. “Lumos Maxima!” And the light at the tip of his wand flew into the air and into the middle of the room where it remained like a hovering lightbulb. “We both have spare wands!” He announced to the room. “Who here can use them?” But no one responded including, to Marietta’s shock, Amelia Edgecombe.
Wasting no time, Marietta hurried to the corner of the room where her mother lay in the foetal position facing away from her daughter.
“Mum?” Marietta pleaded as she took a hold of her mother’s shoulder. “Mum? No, please… please…”
“Rennervate!” There was a flash of scarlet light and, as though she’d received an electric shock, her mother stirred feebly with a sharp intake of breath.
Looking over her shoulder, Marietta saw Saxon with his wand raised and pointing at her mother. The pair caught each other’s eye for a split second before the Auror went about doing the same to the other unconscious prisoners.
“M… Marietta…” Her mother croaked.
“Yes, it’s me. I’m here.” Marietta replied, desperately trying to hold back the tears as she lifted her mother’s head onto her lap. “I’m here to rescue you.” And she grasped her mother’s cold hand.
“Well you’re doing a bang up job!” The same unfamiliar voice from earlier remarked.
Turning around Marietta spotted an old, thin, balding man with a crown of dirty white hair and a sagging face leaning against the enchanted wall.
“We’ll get out of here!” Marietta stated. “We’ve got time. Umbridge doesn’t know we’re here.”
“I beg to differ.” The man replied before pointing up at the wall. Following his eye-line Marietta spotted an empty picture frame that hung high on the wall. “There’s usually a cat in that picture.”
Marietta felt as though her frozen heart had just tried to jump from her chest. “S-Saxon!” She shouted, pointing at the frame herself now. Saxon looked away from the Witch he’d just revived and seemed to know immediately what the empty frame meant. At once he jumped up and began examining the walls, tapping it in places with his wand.
“I don’t get it.” Marietta said. “We’ve made it all this way and encountered nothing. Why all of this all of a sudden?”
The man gave a weak laugh. “The same reason a spider doesn’t guard its web against flies.”
“M… Marietta…” Her mother croaked.
“Shh, save your strength.” Marietta said in a calming voice. “Just call if you need me, okay?” And, very carefully, she placed her mother’s head back onto the floor before standing and running to join Saxon.
“What can I do?” She asked determinedly.
“If I’m correct…” He muttered so that it was difficult to tell if he was talking to Marietta or himself. “I should be able to break through it with an Anti-Imperturbable Charm. But it’s going to fight back, maybe push me away or something, see?” And he pressed his finger into the now invisible barrier and Marietta noticed how his tip just shied away from touching the actual wall. “I’m going to need you to support me while I’m casting. A simple Shield Charm should suffice.” Marietta nodded and followed as he made his way back up the wooden stairs. “Ready?” He asked as he eyed the door as though it were someone he was about to duel.
“Protego!” Marietta cried as she pointed her wand. A transparent barrier sprang up from behind Saxon and he leaned against, bracing himself as he raised his wand.
The moment his wand tip made contact with the barrier, he murmured “Secura Relevio” and at once bright blue sparks began shooting out from where wand met spell as though Saxon was using a welder to break through.
Marietta back away. “Any idea on how long this’ll take?” But Saxon didn’t respond, clearly too focussed on his spellwork.
“That’s no ordinary Imperturbable Charm,” The old man answered. “It’s been imbued with all kinds of Dark Magic to strengthen and empower it so he’s going to need time.”
We don’t have time, Marietta wanted to snap back at him. It had to have been at least nearly three hours now since they’d left Umbridge unconscious in her office but how long would it take her to piece together what had really happened, find a new wand and to assemble a team trustworthy enough to take to her own personal prison.
“So, she took your mother then, hmm?” The old man asked as he looked over Amelia Edgecombe, who had not moved since Marietta had left her. “She need you to do something?”
“To behave myself.” Marietta answered as she stared at Saxon; willing him to break through.
The old man gave another weak laugh before it turned into the same chesty cough that Marietta had first heard. “Yeah, she makes that demand a lot.” He said before spitting on the floor beside him.
Marietta finally turned to face him. “So that’s what you all are? People whose family and friends she wants to control?”
“Not all of us,” The man began. “Those three blokes over there were fool enough to try and blackmail her. Winfried over there used to be in charge of Dementor Breeding at Azkaban but was imprisoned when she wouldn’t give up any secrets or tips and was left down here even after she did. Desabell just used to bully Dolores at school.”
“She imprisoned her old school bully?” The man nodded as he began another coughing fit. “So what about you then?” She asked, her eyes narrowing on the suspiciously familiar wide mouth and pouchy eyes.
“The worst thing possible,” He grunted after spitting on the floor again. “I shamed her name…”
“You’re her father.”
The man nodded slowly. “Name’s Orford,” He groaned, not looking at her now but at the ever increasing puddle beside him. “We had a deal before she was put away during her time at the Ministry that she’d pay me, and pay me well, to keep my head down and stay out of sight. Thought I’d cause her embarrassment if people knew we were related.” He then spat again though Marietta suspected that that time had nothing to do with his cough. “Made the stupid mistake of thinking our deal would resume when she broke out of Azkaban, should’ve fled the country in hindsight, but she’s different now… She’s worse…”
“I’ve noticed.” Marietta replied bitterly. “Well, maybe now might be your chance to escape.”
Orford stared sullenly at the puddle and Marietta couldn’t help but notice how drastically different he looked compared to the smiling man who had posed for a picture while on holiday with his family. “I wouldn’t count on it.”
There was an almighty crack and a flash of brightest blue as the watery shield around them seemed to shatter before dissolving into the air.
“Never underestimate an Auror.” She quipped with a smile as she turned to her mother’s still motionless figure. “Mobilicorpus!” At once Amelia Edgecombe rose up a few inches off the ground and glided over to her daughter’s side. Several of the others were getting up too, the hope of escaping clearly energising them, though their sluggish movements did not fill Marietta with confidence.
“Is there a way out of here?” Marietta pressed into Orford as Saxon began hurrying the prisoners up the stairs and through the door.
“I normally use the front door myself.” He said with a small chuckle.
“You’re telling me that the Umbridge’s own this entire manor and the only way in and out is through the front door?”
Orford finally turned to face her. “I suppose… the fireplaces. Our Floo Network is privet, one of the only ones to be so in the country. But Dolores knows that so even if you make it to one of them, she can track you, find you… and take you within minutes if not seconds.”
“A privet Network… So that means she’s probably the only one who can track us; no one else at the Ministry would notice a thing!”
“Marietta!” Saxon called out as the last of the prisoners stumbled up the steps.
“Go,” Orford said. “I’ll come if I think you’ve won.” Marietta looked down on the old man in pity as he began coughing harshly again before running off to follow the others with her mother by her side.
Once they were all in the corridor, Saxon and Marietta led the way towards the trapdoor that led back to the now darkened main hall, the torches refusing to burn and their wand-tips being the only source of light. As they ran however, Marietta couldn’t help but notice the odd way in which the light hit the walls. As though there was something transparent in front of them.
“No…” She heard Saxon groan as he noticed too. The moment the trapdoor was in sight, Saxon aimed his lit wand a cried out “Lacum Aperio!” There was a flash of white before a ripple emanated from the door and glided past them back down into the depths of the corridor. “No, no, no, no!” Saxon bellowed angrily as he ran up the stone stairs and smacked the trapdoor above him in frustration. “Marietta, same again! Now!”
“Right! Protego!” Marietta said, trying to hide the desperation in her voice.
Once her shield had appeared, Saxon once again leaned back and began his dismantling of the surrounding magic. It was at this point that the fear returned to the group and Marietta began hearing whispers of “We never should have left, she’ll kill us all” and “We’re too late, we’re done for”.
“Will you all shut up!” Marietta ordered through gritted teeth. “We are leaving. Go back and wait if you want but we’ll be making our way to the nearest fireplace and not coming back. And if you think anyone else is coming to get you-”
“Hang on!” The woman called Winfried interrupted. “You’re… You’re Marietta Edgecombe.”
“The Death Eater sympathiser?” One of the blackmailing boys asked, the look of fear on his face deepening.
“Yes!” Marietta shouted. “My name is Marietta Edgecombe. I joined Edmund Selwyn when he tried to reform the Death Eaters. I helped him and the others attack the Quidditch Finals and so many other places, and when Mosby took over I became one of his Ministry’s Heads but right now I’m your one and only hope. So I’ll say again, anyone who wants to go back, go back, anyone who wants to come, come, but know that I will kill anyone who tries to stop me from getting my mother to safety; I don’t care if it’s you,” She pointed her wand at the group, making most recoil. “Him,” She pointed it at Saxon, who was still muttering incantations under his breath. “Or even Dolores Umbridge! So, who wants to go back?”
Before anyone could respond however, the torches sprang to life and began burning once more. This made it easier for Marietta to spot the watery shield covering the walls dissolve away. There were gasps of excitement and hope once again amongst the prisoners and Marietta even felt herself burn with hope again until she realised that there had been no loud crack as there had been the last time Saxon had broken through. She spun around to face the Auror only to see him staring up at the door with a look of both confusion and suspicion.
“Saxon?” She asked, lowering her Shield Charm and drawing nearer to him but before he could respond, a loud, cold, high-pitched voice that pierced Marietta’s heart rang throughout the hallway.
“Miss Edgecombe!” Dolores Umbridge’s voice said. “You have violated the Ministry’s trust for the final time! I want you and your little Auror friend to come upstairs, unarmed. If you do not, I will come down personally to deal with you, him and your precious mother! And for all those who believe that they can join in Miss Edgecombe’s attempt to flee, I would remind you of how you ended up in your position in the first place!”
Marietta was now turning slowly to face the group behind her. “However, I would like to offer each and every one of you a second chance. Anyone who assists me in the capture or killing of Marietta Edgecombe and her villainous companion shall be set free at once! I look forward to seeing you soon, Miss Edgecombe!” And with a final, spine-tingling giggle, the voice vanished leaving nothing but an echo as the only sound within the corridor.
Marietta and the dozen prisoners stared at each other; both sides clearly too afraid to make a move. There were too many of them for her to curse at once but she was still the one with a wand.
“Protego!” A giant shield spanning the width of the corridor separated Marietta and her mother from the others. As she looked over her shoulder, she spotted Saxon walking up to her.
“How… How do we play this?” She asked.
“There’s only one way.” He answered stiffly. “Both of us, up there against however many of them there are.”
“Do you think it’ll work?” Marietta pressed, staring at her mother’s unconscious figure. She always had been beautiful; her father had never missed an opportunity to say so. Marietta had always considered it a compliment when others commented on just how alike they both looked. But that had been before all this. Before her acceptance by Selwyn, before the dark times of Lord Voldemort, before her betrayal of Dumbledore’s Army; back to the last time she had been truly happy.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out.” Saxon said looking up. “You ready?”
Marietta stared at him for a moment before turning around. “Dolores Umbridge dies today.” She stated firmly to the prisoners. “And she’s the only one who can trace the Floo Network of this place. The moment this barrier goes down, you run for it and you find your way to the nearest fireplace. But you must do one thing,” She then pointed at her mother. “Amelia Edgecombe is as innocent as any of you and more so than some I dare say. So one of you needs to pick her up on your way out, because if she doesn’t make it but any one of you do, I swear I will come back from the grave and haunt you for the rest of your miserable lives.” The group stared at her, clearly shocked at the request and haul of information.
She then knelt down and kissed her mother firmly of the forehead before turning back to Saxon. “Come on, let’s get it over and done with.” And with a tap of his wand, Saxon opened the trapdoor above them and the pair climbed out.
The large front door was wide open. The Summer breeze that sailed in upon Marietta and Saxon’s entrance allowed the fresh smell of the surrounding fields to waft over them. In fact, were it not for the people that greeted them, Marietta would have called the scene perfect.
Dolores Umbridge stood at the centre of the doorway. To her right was the towering Runcorn and the rounded and anger-filled Goyle while to her left was the real Pansy Parkinson and a wide bulk of a man that Marietta had seldom seen by the name of Doran. All of them had their wands out.
“I’m sorry, was I not clear on my instructions Miss Edgecombe?” Umbridge asked in the same sweet voice she had used mere moments before. “I believe my orders were to be unarmed when you and your Auror arrived.”
“Oh cut the crap, we both know that wasn’t going to happen.” Marietta spat. “Honestly if I’m surprised about anything it how few of your mob you decided to bring. What was wrong? Got too many family and friends of workers down there?”
Umbridge’s smile grew wider so that she now resembled a toad that had spotted its next meal. “Oh, I can assure you that these fine examples would be more than what is necessary to deal with you. You are outnumbered five to two and, judging from the state of your Auror, vastly outmatched.”
“Oh I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on looks, ma’am,” Saxon retorted with an emphasis on the final word. “A knight in shining armour is one who clearly hasn’t seen any action. No, it’s the rough, battle-worn knights you want on your side when shit goes down.”
“I see, and are all of those battle-hardened knights one-legged or do we get to pick and choose?” Umbridge retorted to a snort of laughter from Pansy. “Oh but I’m sure we’ll have loads of time to discuss that and more during our little interviews, once, of course, I take back that rather expensive piece of magical medical innovation. There is so much more I would like to know about you and, as I’m sure Miss Edgecombe has told you, I can be very persuasive.”
Umbridge then flicked her attention back to Marietta and she felt a cold, unnerving chill creep down her body as she did so. “But I have no desire to spill your blood on my father’s fine marble floors, so guess what Miss Edgecombe? I’m going to give you one last chance. You can be with your mother, safe from the Confederation, safe from Mosby should he learn of the information you gave to Harry Potter, safe from poor Gregory who’s suffered so much at your hands, safe from it all if you just drop your wand.”
“Not this time Umbridge,” Marietta spat. “Because this is your last chance. Stand your guards down!”
There was a moments silence before each and every single one of them burst into laughter. Even Goyle who had stood there looking murderous the entire time broke a smile of amusement. “I wouldn’t laugh so hard if I were you!” Marietta barked. “I am giving you a direct order to stand your guards down now, you ugly, twisted toad!”
This last remark cut the laughter immediately. Umbridge’s saggy round eyes grew large with anger and her face seemed to grow stiff with the rigid smile still in place. “You dare,” She said in her highest voice yet. “You dare give me orders? You dare insult me? I am the right hand of one of the most feared Wizards our kind has ever seen, the Senior Under Secretary of the Ministry of Magic of Great Britain, and you dare..?” Umbridge readied her newly found wand in one hand while pointing at Marietta with the other. “Get the-”
But before Umbridge could finish her order, she recoiled her wand free hand with a wince of pain. Her guards readied themselves clearly believing that it had been one of their two opponents that had caused the pain, until the wailing started.
All four of Umbridge’s most trusted turned around to see their boss staring at her now blistering red hand.
“You know, for a Senior Under Secretary, I would’ve thought you of all people would know better than to sign something before reading the fine print.” Marietta said smugly as the intense black and red burns began to spread across her face, the smile that had been scarred onto her face still prominent as her eyes bulged with pain.
“No! No!” Golye wailed as Umbridge fell to the ground, twitching as the burning spread, her screeching wails of agony echoing throughout the entire manor and countryside. “What did you do?” Goyle roared with anger.
At this, the other’s seemed to suddenly remember that Marietta and Saxon were still there. “We’ll take the traitors in ourselves,” Pansy ordered. “Get them!”
But as they began to raise their wands, Saxon had already slashed the air with his own. There was a blinding flash of white light and Doran was sent through the air and into the stolen Landcruiser behind him.
Pansy sent a curse at Marietta that she was forced to jump out of the way to avoid. Fearing a second one, Marietta swiped her wand at the nearby bookshelf. It fell directly in front of her, shielding her from the next two spells; showering her in splinters and shredded paper.
“Come on sneaky-spots!” Pansy jeered shrilly. “You were all talk just minute ago- Agh!”
Peering over to see what had cut Pansy off, Marietta spotted Saxon overpowering the larger Runcorn enough for him to take pot-shots at Pansy, whose face now sported a large and deep slash.
As the Auror began is two-on-one duel, Marietta rose up from behind the bookshelf, ready to strike, only to duck back down again at the sound of “Avada Kedavra!”
Goyle had entered the fray now and it was clear who his target was. “I’ll kill you, traitor!” He roared over the high-pitched screams of Umbridge. “I’ll kill you for what you did to her!” There was an almighty bang and her bookshelf cover exploded with the force of a bomb. Marietta was thrown across the floor and into the nearby wall, winding her. Not daring to give Goyle any kind of advantage, she forced herself to stand back up and was about to fire back when a second Killing Curse came soaring at her.
She ducked, dodging the curse by an inch, before rushing into the drawing-room she’d inspected earlier and taking cover behind the desk.
The moment Goyle came charging in, Marietta took aim. “Stupify!” She cried.
Goyle attempted to side-step the spell but was nowhere near fast enough. The stunner caught him in his wand arm, sending it in to some sort of spasm that forced him to drop his wand.
Smiling, Marietta refocussed her aim but, with another roar of pain and anger, Goyle kicked the desk that separated them sending one of its corners into her stomach.
Her recoil was all Goyle needed. Before she could even re-catch her breath, she felt his thick fist grab the scruff of her hoodie and hoist her into the shelves behind her.
As her back slammed into one of the ledges, she felt the wind being knocked from her a second time and the grip she had on her wand slacken just enough for it to fall from her hand and onto the floor.
Still unable to fight back, Marietta felt Goyle readjusting his grip on her, allowing him to bring his hand to her throat. Gasping, Marietta began kicking and punching what she could of him but nothing worked. Clearly his desire to kill her had dulled any sense of physical pain.
“I’m going to make you pay.” Goyle growled before bringing his head back and, before Marietta could do anything, thwack, she felt Goyle’s forehead collide into her face. She heard a crack and felt blood spewing from her nose but just as she opened her eyes from the pain, thwack. Her mouth was main victim of this next assault. She could feel her two front teeth loosening and her lips swell and bleed. Thwack. This time, it was forehead to forehead. Marietta felt pain shoot through her brain as well as everywhere else.
This was it. She couldn’t breathe at all now and the agony in her face and head were blinding. She was going to die at the hands of Gregory Goyle while her one and only companion fought off two at once in a space that felt miles away. Saxon Murphy, an Auror who detested her, the closest thing to a real ally she’d had in years, was now unable to save her when they were so close thanks to Albert Runcorn and Pansy Parkinson…
The thought struck her so sharply, she was almost numb to Goyle’s next head-butt. She delved her trembling hand into the deep pockets of her hoodie and fumbled for what was her last hope.
Goyle had just leaned back for his next strike, his face covered in her blood, when her hand found the wooden handle.
The wand Marietta had taken from Pansy swiped upwards from her pocket and caught Goyle on the side of the face with a deafening crack and a flash of bright blue.
As Goyle was flung to one side, Marietta fell to the floor gasping for air as blood dripped from her face to the soft, handsome carpet.
“You traitor!” Goyle shouted from behind his hand as he clasped the injury to his face. “I’ll kill you and then I’ll kill your scum mother!”
Marietta groped for where she knew her wand had landed and found it immediately. “Do you hear me?” She looked up to see that he too had found his wand and had gone to reach for it.
Goyle scooped his wand up, his other hand still clutching his face, but before he had returned to his full height, Marietta had already taken aim. “Avada Kedavra!”
The jet of green light that burst from her wand struck Goyle right in the centre of his chest. The large man was hurled backwards through the stain-glass window behind him and fell out of sight.
Her legs weak beneath her, Marietta fell back down to the ground. As she continued to cough and splutter, blood continued to pour from her, though now she could not feel the trickles atop of all the pain she felt. The crashes and bangs of Saxon’s fight next door were muffled to her ears as though the sounds themselves wanted to leave her. She was tired; drained both physically and emotionally with a single question circling her mind. What would happen if I just lay here..?
When your downfall happens, and it will happen, you will have earned every second of it. Whatever pain you feel, whatever loss you suffer, you earned it.
With what felt like all her strength, she pointed her own wand directly at her swollen face. “Episkey,” She spluttered, the warm, sticky blood covering her face attempting to seal her lips together. There was an audible click and a second of blinding pain as her nose returned to its original position. “Anapneo… Reparifors… Tergeo…” She continued and at once the swelling around her face subsided, the splits on her lips healed, the teeth that had been loosened became stable again, the bruise that had been left on her throat faded away and the blood that had coated her face vanished. Without a single cough, she pushed herself back to her feet and went to find Saxon.
She found him fighting in what looked like the dining room on the opposite side of the hall. Spells of all kinds flew in every direction but as Marietta ran to help, Saxon came into view through the doorway. The moment he caught sight of her, he shouted “If you’re free get the others and go! Now!” He added as he deflected a curse back at its caster. Whether the rebounded spell found its target, Marietta didn’t see; she had already made it back to the trapdoor and was running down the stairs.
“Finite!” She shouted, pointing her wand at the shield that continued to block off the prisoners. “Come on! We’re getting out!”
Their faces full of disbelief, the prisoners ran; following a waving Orford who was bellowing “We’ll use the one in the spare bedroom! It’s the closest!”
“Orford, wait.” Marietta said, putting out an arm and holding up the crowd. “Saxon is fighting the rest of them off but… here, just in case.” And she handed over Pansy’s wand.
Orford stared at the wand for second, not quite believing his luck, before taking it with a nod of thanks. “You should… get your mother.” He replied before waving on the others to follow.
The prisoners all followed out of the trapdoor leaving Marietta and her still unconscious mother alone. Marietta stared at her for a moment, still not quite believing that she had done it, as though this was just another one of Umbridge’s traps and that Amelia Edgecombe would transform into the toad-like Witch at any moment. Marietta waved her wand, beckoning her mother to her side before she too left the dungeon.
Marietta ran through the Entrance Hall and up the flight of stairs, the sounds of duelling and breaking furniture ringing through the air. She spotted Orford lining the prisoners up in front of a fireplace through the door directly on her right. She turned and began pelting for the bedroom when there was a loud bang and the sound of grunting. Marietta spun around to see Runcorn wrestling Saxon on the ground, the larger more powerfully built man pinning down the Auror’s wand arm with ease. Clearly it was taking all of Saxon’s might to redirect Runcorn’s wand away from his face.
“Orford!” Marietta cried as she waved her wand. As the man looked up at her she ordered “Take her!” And her mother glided swiftly into the bedroom.
There was a flash of green light and another crack as Runcorn’s curse struck and cracked the floor-space right beside Saxon’s head.
Marietta ran back down the stairs, her wand raised, as she cried out for the second time that day “Avada Kedavra!”
The flash of green light sent Runcorn spiralling off of his victim and into the wall opposite where he lay motionless.
Saxon leaned back up, staring at her as she walked down the rest of the stairs, her wand still raised.
“Parkinson?” She asked, craning her head so as to try and see the Witch through the doorway to the dining-room.
“Dead,” Saxon replied darkly. “Goyle?”
“Same,” Marietta responded. Although her spells had done their job, she still felt her head give off a particularly painful sting at the mention of his name. She tore her gaze away from her search of Parkinson and turned to face the doorway of the main entrance where Umbridge still lay.
She wasn’t screaming anymore. Instead the now burned but still smiling face was staring upwards, her round watery eyes unblinking.
“How’re you feeling?” Saxon asked once Marietta had reached Umbridge’s body. She didn’t respond. She didn’t know what to feel. Jubilant that after all this time the woman who’d started Marietta’s lifelong ordeal was gone. Relief that her mother was now out of harm’s way. Fear that there was now no one keeping Mosby off of her scent for betraying his trust.
The sound of crackling glass made Marietta’s heart jump further than it had done all day. Spinning, aiming her wand, she saw the injured Doran stirring. He had landed on the car’s now smashed front windscreen; his wand on the ground some several feet away.
“Stay where you are!” Marietta ordered, her wand aimed at his chest.
“What… No! Please!” The man grumbled as he raised a hand in a feeble attempt to halt her.
“Who else knew Umbridge was coming here?” Marietta pressed.
“N-No one, I swear!” Doran answered wildly. “Y-You were right! She didn’t want anyone to know about this place and she was afraid of Mosby finding out about the escaped Auror!” Marietta narrowed her eyes suspiciously and she drew closer, her wand still aimed for the heart. “Please! That’s the truth I swear!” Doran continued. He tried to push himself away but appeared to catch his hand on a shard of glass. “I-I can help you!” He bellowed desperately, his deep dim voice cracking. “I… I was the one she asked to tail Mosby. Make sure he didn’t kill any of our lot in anger, you know! I can give you information on him! There are reports!” He finished in a yell for Marietta had lifted her wand for a curse.
“What reports? Where?” Marietta asked sharply.
“You… You promise you won’t-”
“Where?” Marietta screamed, pointing her wand threateningly.
Shaking, Doran sank his non-bleeding hand into the inside pocket of his robes and drew out a tiny velvet box, the sort that one might expect to have an engagement ring tucked within.
“Accio!” The tiny box flew from Doran’s shaky grip and into Marietta’s outstretched hand. “I take it there’s a specific way to open it?” She asked calmly. Doran stared at her in fear. “Tell me and you might survive this.” She added and, with a second wave of her wand and the muttering of “Episky”, the bleeding from his hand ceased and healed.
“Just… Just say the password to it.” Doran replied cautiously as he stared at his newly repaired hand. “It’s… I must not tell lies…”
Her wand still trained on the man, Marietta brought the box up to her face and murmured “I must not tell lies.” The second she had said the last word, the box’s lid sprang open revealing what looked like several pieces of parchment folded together to an impossibly small size.
Marietta closed the lid with a single finger with a smile before raising her wand. There was a final cry of “No!” before the jet of green light struck Doran dead.
Pocketing the tiny box, she turned around to see Orford standing over his daughter’s body and suddenly felt a small pang of regret for giving him Pansy’s wand.
“What happened to her?” He asked and Marietta was thankful to hear that he did not sound so much angry as he did genuinely curious, as though Marietta had succeeded in an experiment that he had failed at.
“The Traitor’s Kiss,” Marietta explained, her strength to lie at its limit. “Had her sign a jinxed piece of parchment so that if she disobeyed me she’d… Well…”
“Got it.” Orford complied as he looked up at Marietta. “Your mother, she’s in the bedroom. Thought I’d wait until this all wrapped up before making a move.”
“Thank you.” Marietta said, taken aback somewhat by Orford.
The pair re-entered the manor to find Saxon waiting for them. “Ready to head back?” He asked.
“Desperate to.” Marietta replied wirily.
Saxon gave her a brief weak smile and the trio began climb up the stairs. They had barely reached the middle step however, when Saxon’s now torn bag began emanating a thick, Texan accent. “This is Big Red responding to Bald Eagle! Bald Eagle? Saxon, are you there?”
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