Sunday, October 06, 2013

A Favor Asked

Spike picked up her coffee mug looking for inspiration at the bottom.  It was empty, cold and dry, and she set it back down with a sigh.  I could call a House Elf . . . but then I'd have to explain what I was doing here at this hour.  They keep watch for the staff, you know they do.  Perhaps I've actually had too much coffee, if I'm thinking this way*  She pushed her stool back from the workbench, stretching muscles gone aching from the hours she'd spent hunched over the last horcrux.  Hufflepuff's cup.  Gold and black.  Teamwork, hard work lightened by good cheer and many hands.  I have to cram all that into  . . . something, something and seal that with a little death and blood.

"No, they don't ask much, do they?"  She started pacing the floor again as Nagini watched from atop the cage of mice.  "I wonder how the other operatives are doing with this assignment?  If only I could ask around, find out some pointers from more advanced students.  But just the act of asking would probably be enough to tip the staff off that something was afoot."

Someone tapped at the door, and she whirled to give the bench a quick once-over.  Seeing nothing obviously incriminating there, she called her visitor in.  Maybe a break was what she needed, she'd been at it every waking hour that could be stolen away from studies and OWL.

Totenberg stood in the door.  He had removed his hat, and held it in one hand.  Spike blinked.  They never take their hats off -- well, to scratch their heads, maybe.  She wasn't sure of the significance, but they'd go barefoot through the snow before they went bare-headed in good weather.  "Is good time?"  She could just see Dimo and Sascha lurking behind him.  All three of them together?

She shrugged.  "Sure."  Well, and why not?  Now was no worse than any other time.

He came in, and Sascha closed the door behind them.  No one left to guard the corridor.  It must be important.  "We you loyal minions, yah?"

"Since the day I was born."  She'd heard the stories, how when she came into the world, Totenberg's were the fourth hands to hold her -- the midwife, her mother, her father, and then the captain of her father's personal guard.

"As you minions, we come to ask a boon."

She'd heard people plead with her father with that kind of formal language before, and he'd never refused to grant that favor, assuming it was in his power to do so.  Sometimes it took some work behind the scenes, many whispered meetings, but it was always fulfilled.  She'd asked once why, and he'd told her that when you took responsibility for holding someone else's life in yours, you did what you had to do for them.  It hadn't made much sense to her, until she saw what he expected of his vassals and minions -- everything, with nothing held back for the return.  It balances.  The right hand, and the left.  Now her left hand was asking a favor of the right.

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