"Lot to ask for," said Totenberg, but he was pulling the ring off and offering it to her as he did.
"You asked for a lot, too."
The Hounds' Rings were an old tradition that had fallen out of favor. Originally they had been made from the gold in a single coin, beaten and twisted into a plain ring to fit the newly transformed Hound's hand. Worn on the left hand in place of a wedding band, effectively married into the service. *Somewhere between a Muggle's "king's shilling" and a Muggle nun's wedding band,* Spike mused as she set the four rings on the table. She had begged for a pretty ring like the ones her guard wore when she was small, and Totenberg had proudly presented her with one the WinterFeast where she had turned six. She'd worn the band ever since, starting on her forefinger and moving along her hand to her pinkie as she grew, finally hanging it on a chain when even her smallest finger proved too large. She'd thought to pass that down to a daughter one day, but it seemed like it would need to serve a different purpose.
Four rings on the table, carefully interlocked. A few words, the gestures had been made, and all that was left--Totenberg grabbed her wrist and stopped her just as she was about to prick her finger. "All of us," he growled.
And it was done.
For some reason, Spike had been expecting lightning and thunder, something big and dramatic to signal the completion of the task, but there was nothing. Not even a change in the lighting -- except for the purple flare in the corner.
"What's that?" Sascha asked, edging a little closer to her. Spike groped at her left shoulder, realizing something was missing and had been for some time.
"My brooch," she said. "I wondered where that went off to, but with one thing and another, well, I just hadn't had time to look for it." She dug through the pile of papers in the corner, tossing sheets of notes and crumpled wads out of the way. *I wonder what all I've missed.* She was going to have to make a point of casually bumping into Hecuba in the next day or two.
"So. Done now?"
"Yeah. All seven horcruxes -- faux horcruxes -- made and ready to place." Spike yawned, suddenly aware of how very late it was.
"Good. Good to be done with big project," Totenberg agreed, pointedly eyeing the covered cage in the corner. "Good to get some sleep so you can work on OWL tomorrow, yes? Going to have to burn the oil at midnight in order to get that done before the end of the term."
Spike sighed and nodded. *Hecuba was going to have to wait. Ah well, if it was anything really important, she would have found a way to let me know.*