Sunday, August 11, 2013

Not the Sword, Conclusion

She rubbed her temples in small circles.  "So first, a little history."  Tapping the textbook, she continued, "Riddle -- Voldemort -- was a powerful wizard who intentionally split his soul seeking immortality.  So long as any part of him survived, then he would survive.  So he tied the parts to various objects he associated with power -- Hufflepuff's Cup, Ravenclaw's Diadem, Slytherin's Locket.  But notice-- he never managed to corrupt Gryffindor's Sword."

Sascha nodded, playing good minion.  "Yahhhs," he drooled again, for effect.

"All right."  Getting up off the bench for the first time since dinner, Spike began to pace, the candles in their puddles of wax flickering in the breeze she created.  "So . . . if the plans I'm laying depend on making it appear that another dark and powerful wizard has arisen -- maybe Voldemort himself, maybe a worthy successor -- then would it not make sense to do the one thing Voldemort himself never managed?  Create a Horcrux from the Sword?"

Sascha tilted his head to one side and pondered.  Bit down on the first immediate question -- Why?  They'd been over that; it was something magicker that she couldn't talk openly about right now.  Part of being a minion was being willing to accept whatever the master doled out -- a thwack on the head, a piece of a convoluted plot, a quick handshake before being sent to lay down one's life.  Although, hopefully, that last wasn't in the offing for a while.  "That makes sense," he agreed, slowly.

"So!  Now here's the thing.  The Sword was returned to the goblins ages ago.  They probably wouldn't have destroyed it; it's far too pretty and well-crafted to be melted down and returned to metal.  But neither is is walking in the wizarding world, and it would have no place for the Muggles, either.  So how does our putative Dark Wizard lay his hands on it to make it a Horcrux?"

"Couldn' he force the goblins to part with it somehow?"

"Sure -- but that kind of eruption wouldn't pass unnoticed.  At a minimum, that would be a clear declaration of war.  Same with sneaking it out and replacing it with a fake -- the goblins would know immediately that the true Sword was gone.  But here's the thing -- the Sword goes where it will.  So what if he was able to convince the Sword to come to him?  To lie to it?"  Behind her, the slug oozed its way up to the top of the bench, dropping something small and light onto the top.

Sascha took a quick step back.  A rough campaign against an enemy who used gelatinous blobs as riding mounts for his cavalry had left him with a creeping horror of all things slimy.  Spike had smuggled back a Muggle delicacy, Jell-O salad, one time, and Sascha had left the room in a hurry.  "Vass --DAT?" he hissed.

Spike picked it up.  "A small plastic knife.  Thank you, Nagini."  She scratched the slug's eyestalks gently.  "So -- wouldn't that work?  To have the Sword volunteer itself, under false pretenses?  The goblins wouldn't be in any hurry to announce that this was possible; they'd never be able to keep the Sword after that."

Sascha pondered for a moment, keeping an eye on the horrible crawling thing on the bench.  "It holds together," he said after a moment, "If they don' look too close."

"That's what I'm hoping -- that their desire is going to blind them to what is, and make them see what I want them to see."  Like a Muggle magician -- all misdirection, smoke and mirrors.  She was never going to sneer at them again, not after this experience.  It was harder than it looked, getting people to pay attention to the right hand while the left took care of business in secret.  She tapped the hilt of the knife against her teeth as she thought.  It's going to take more than a drop of blood to make this feel right. There needs to be an element of loyalty and bravery tied in, a willingness to lay down everything for a friend . . .

"Sascha?  One more thing."

He raised one eyebrow, the twisted burn scars on the other side writhing above the eyepatch.

"Can I have a small lock of your hair?"  He snorted, pulling out his boot knife, and sawing off a thin strand from behind one ear.  "Thanks.  Ah, you don't have to stay for this next part, if you don't want to."  She reached into the cage of mice she'd taken to keeping in the lab to select a small, fat creature; set it on the table, and with a whisper, stunned it into immobility.

He grimaced, seeing it in her hands, knowing what was coming.  "If you need to . . . is there anything else I can do?"

"Tie the hair around the knife -- thanks."  Arranging the pieces quickly, she pricked her finger, and smeared the blood down the mouse's back.  A moment later, the Horcrux was made.

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