Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

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Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-01 01:26am

Welcome to my new fanfic, Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

To avoid spoilers, I'm not going to say much about it here besides the fact that it is obviously a Harry Potter fanfic. But I will say that it is a crossover between the Harry Potter and "Gargoyles" franchises, and that it follows book canon (with divergences due to the crossover) for Harry Potter, and TV show canon (again, with divergences due to the crossover) for "Gargoyles". Non-book/show material, including behind-the-scenes material, for both franchises will be incorporated as it suits me.

It is my intention to be as true to the themes and styles of both franchises' as possible. Divergences in plot and character development will occur by necessity given the premise, but I will try to make certain that they are justified by the premise. If any reader feels that I am failing in these endeavours, constructive criticism is encouraged and appreciated.

Now for the obvious disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or "Gargoyles", or any of the characters appearing their in. This work is not for profit, and I am making no profit off of it. No infringement of anyone's rights or property is intended.

This is my first fanfic posted on this board (though by no means the first that I have written), so here goes.


Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

The late October night was dark, damp, and cold. Over the gentle hills and fields of the English countryside, a shadow flew. The wind was strong a hundred feet above the Earth, but the shadow scarcely felt it. She glided silent on bat-like wings, scales gleaming faintly in the crescent Moonlight, her tail twitching to compensate for a sudden burst of wind as she studied the fields below for any watchers out this late at night.

The land, the shadow named Demona reflected, was not so very different than it had been, a thousand years before. Rolling hills and patches of trees, farmers' fields dotted with sleeping sheep. The occasional cluster of lights that marked one of the cursed humans' villages, poisoning the world with their very presence. All the more keenly, for that strange similarity, did she feel the absence of her kin, her kind, slaughtered a thousand years before by the hand of human treachery.

She had not wished to return here, to a land so close to and yet so distant from the land of her birth. But her search had lead her here, back to the shores of ancient Albion. Hidden in the small village of Godric's Hollow, the legends said, was an artifact, or artifacts, of great mystical power. Power to give the wielder dominion over death itself. Her eyes glittered hungrily in the Moonlight. With that power, she could do anything, even rid the world of the human vermin once and for all. Other possibilities whispered in her mind as well, less dark but no less terrible, but she refused to acknowledge them.

As the wind failed and she began to lose altitude, she saw a higher hill ahead of her, a thick row of hedges running along its crest. She aimed for the top of the hill, but as she reached the crest, she cursed, as the golden lights of a village shone in the valley below. She must have been closer to Godric's Hollow than she had known, if she had her bearings right. As she neared the top of the hill she folded her wings, dropping into a crouch and landing silently behind the hedge row. She crouched their for several seconds, watching and listening, but no alarm was raised. Of course not. Even if she had been seen, what human in these ignorant times would actually believe in Gargoyles, much less claim that they had seen one?

Below her lay the village, but by the number of lights still shining brightly, and the distant chatter of childrens' voices, she knew that it would be some hours before it was safe to venture into the village itself in search of her quarry. Indeed, she was surprised by the number of people, especially children, out and about, until she remembered what time of year it was. Of course, she thought. That ridiculous human custom of Halloween.

She did not fear the humans, of course, but an alarm might prove... inconvenient. Best to wait, and search the village when the humans were asleep. She had many hours to find her goal before dawn, and if need be, she could find a safe hiding place to sleep during the day and return the next night, and the next, and for as many nights as it took to achieve her goal.

Perhaps twenty minutes passed as she crouched behind the hedge, watching the village and listening for any sounds of approaching humans. Once, twice, an owl hooted. She thought she caught a glimpse of a fox dashing through a hole in the hedge and smiled slightly, feeling a certain affinity for the cunning hunter of the fables.

A flash of green and white light blazed in the darkness, followed an instant later by a crack like a tree being split by lightning, then a roar as of falling masonry and shingles. At the same instant, there was a palpable surge of magic, cold and poisonous and cruel. A distant memory arose- the Archmage casting his power at a trio of Gargoyles in a cave beside a gaping chasm. But another sensation quickly overwhelmed the first, a sensation of something so sad and yet so warm and whole and... she was shocked to realize that she was blinking back a tear, then cursed whoever cast that spell a moment later. So many memories that warmth had brought to mind, memories that she had almost forgotten that she had. Memories of warm fires and good food and the laughter of friends, of... family. And a clutch of eggs in a small room below an old stone castle.

She crushed the memories and the pain that came with them ruthlessly, her eyes blazing red in fury as she peered warily through a gap in the hedge. She could see nothing unusual. After a moment's uncertainty, she craned her neck to look out over the top of the hedge.

The houses directly below her were unchanged, save for a few more lights, and the first onlookers hurrying out into the street to see what had made the unexpected noise. Idiot humans, she thought scornfully. As if they could have done anything against whatever had done that.

She swept her eyes along the row of houses.

The third one to the right had lost half its second story. Even from this distance, she could see the flicker of orange flames.

Instinct told her to stay away. Pride told her that she would not be frightened away like a rabbit, and experience told her that this might be worth investigating. A powerful mage could be a dangerous rival- or a useful ally, if a temporary one. Either way, she would enjoy making him pay for what he had inflicted on her, however unwittingly.

It wasn't as if she could actually die, she reflected bitterly.

She jumped the hedge easily, then crouched low and silent again, waiting to see if the movement had gone unnoticed. It had, the humans' attention still evidently drawn by the explosion and the ruined house. Crouching at the top of the hill, she leapt once more and unfurled her wings, gliding in one long swoop to alight on the nearest side of the shattered roof, concealed from the street on the other side of the house. She felt some of the shingles slide beneath her weight, but she dug her claws in and, although the timbers creaked, they held. She waited once more, listening, but no alarm was raised.

That was when she heard the crying.

It was a high pitched wail, sounding like a cry of pain and fear in equal parts. It took her a moment to place the sound. The cry of a human infant.

She felt a surge of disgust at the child's mewling weakness as the memories, brought to mind by that accursed spell, started to surface again. Carefully, she crept around the gaping hole in the roof, having half a mind to smother the irritating brat in its crib. She peered around the charred end of a shattered crossbeam, down into what must have been a nursery. Debris, some still smouldering, was scattered across the floor, and a section of the ceiling had collapsed into the the room, burying a bookcase and table beneath it. By some chance or twist of fate, however, most of the debris had missed the crib in the centre of the room. A small child lay curled in the crib, still crying. A few feet away, the body of a young woman with long red hair lay sprawled on the floor, her face pale and her eyes staring. Between the damage and the amount of time that the child's cries had gone unanswered, Demona guessed that no one else was alive in the house, or if they were, they were in no state to respond. Even humans would seldom abandon their own young, and this had the look of a family dwelling.

More memories. An empty castle. Flickering flame. Mangled flesh and shattered stone.

She snarled and prepared to drop through the hole in the roof, to finish the night's work and put the little brat out of its misery. But she heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs and froze, retreating carefully back until she was hidden behind the remnants of the roof, peering through a hole where a pair of shingles had come loose.

She watched as a young man with long, black robes and long, lanky black hair framing a pinched, swallow face stumbled into the room, then dropped to his knees with a cry of agony beside the dead woman. He knelt their, sobbing, as he cradled her body, rocking back and forth as he stroked her face and hair, murmuring "Lily" over and over again, along with the words "I'm sorry. Lily, I'm so sorry." Demona found the display rather nauseating. What good would the fool's regret do? Regret would not bring the dead back to life.

After a long time, the young wizard laid the woman who must have been named Lily gently on the ground, then rose and stood for a few moments, gazing down at her in silence. The child's cries had faded to an occasional quiet whimper. Demona idly wondered if it was dying, or if it had simply run out of breath. With a final, murmured "I'm sorry", the wizard turned to leave, then stopped and looked back toward the crib. He gazed at it blankly for a moment, then turned and strode from the ruined nursery and out through the door to the stairs.

Despite herself, Demona felt a flash of anger and contempt at his departure. He clearly loved the woman, at least as much as a creature such as him was capable of love, and yet he had left the child she cared for to the whims of chance. It was another reminder of the craven and treacherous nature of the human race, and she briefly entertained the image of throttling the life from the vile man, but her mind returned quickly to the task at hand. She had delayed here too long, and she was surprised that no other humans had already ventured up the stairs to investigate. Whatever she hoped to gain here, she had to do it swiftly. The sorcerer or creature who had done this was clearly gone. Still, it might be worth the risk to search the house, or at least the upper floor. If a creature of power had come here, they had likely done it for a purpose. Perhaps the family that had dwelt here had possessed something of value, maybe some magical weapon or artifact. Perhaps, she thought, they might even have possessed the legendary Hallows, or at least one of them, though she knew that that was unlikely. And if they had, she knew, the killer had likely plundered them already, but it would be foolish not to be sure. So, after checking again to make certain that she was unobserved, she dropped into the nursery with a thud, cursing to herself as the debris crunched loudly beneath her talons.

It took her perhaps five minutes to make a search of the nursery and the adjacent bedroom and washroom, as well as the body of the dead woman, and she was pleased to find that the search turned up more than she could have hoped for. She found several magical items, although most of them seemed like curiosities more than anything else, needlessly complicated household items that used magic for the most ordinary of purposes, including an incomprehensible, ornate clock that seemed to tell how long you had until various upcoming appointments, along with a pair of talking portraits who harangued her with questions and demands as she searched the house, and a book of moving photographs. What a foolish waste of such power, she thought, and how typical of humans to flaunt their trivial gifts in such a manner. She smashed the clock in shear irritation, ignored the portraits, and continued her search. Of greater interest were the books of magic (though she ignored the cook book and the childrens' books with the ridiculous moving cartoons). On top of a dresser in the bedroom she found a long, thin stick of carved and polished wood, which she suspected was the dead woman's magic wand. Fool, Demona thought, to leave her weapon where she could not reach it. She was never unarmed, she thought with a smile, flexing her talons, but the weak, miserable humans had no such advantage. Inside the dresser were some articles of clothing and a stack of letters. She perused the letters briefly, but they appeared to be mostly common correspondence, of no importance. She left the letters but took the stick, slipping it through her belt, then picked up up as many of the magic books as she could carry under one arm while still leaving the other free.

Having concluded her search, she prepared to climb out through the hole in the ceiling, then paused as the child made a curious sound behind her. Almost against her will, and against all of her instincts, she turned her head to regard it. It was a boy, perhaps a year old, with green eyes and thin black hair. On his forehead was a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt. He was standing now against the railing of the crib, holding the bars in both hands and staring at her with wide, innocent eyes, innocent of the body that lay a few feet away, and the fact that she was a different species than he.

She wasn't sure why she did it, but she took a step toward him, then another. She stepped over the fallen body of the woman who might have been the boy's mother, then leaned forward, peering over the edge of the crib at the child within. The sight stirred something within her soul, some memory or instinct long thought lost. She recoiled from it in disgust, and for a moment she stood indecisively, caught between the impulse to destroy, the impulse to take, and the long-hurried impulse to give aid and comfort. Then her reason caught up with her instincts, and she began to consider the possibilities.

The child was very young, not yet raised in the ways of humankind. He was innocent of her nature and of his own, and he would be almost entirely dependent upon others for some years. He was still a human, true, but perhaps he had not yet been entirely poisoned by their ways and beliefs. A foolish, naive thought, she knew, but still, a new human servant or ally could prove very useful, especially one raised from infancy in her service. A human could go places that she could not, and more importantly, move in day light. And this boy might possess other powers, which she could also bend to her service. And if he proved untrue, or more trouble than he was worth, she could be rid of him easily enough. She had little to lose, and much to gain. It wasn't a gambit that she had tried before, but that very fact made it all the more intriguing. Their was little enough in her existence that was new, nor had their been for the last eight centuries or so.

Besides, she thought, the child belonged to the humans. They would not wish it taken, perhaps, and that loss would bring them grief. She smiled cruelly. The humans had taken her children. Only fitting, then, that she take one of theirs'.

She heard heavy footsteps from the floor below, and thought she heard a loud sob and a muffled cry that sounded like it had been made by someone very large. She cursed to herself. She had waited far too long. In an instant she made the decision, stepped back to the crib, and lifted the child out of it. It started to cry out, but she lifted a hand to its mouth, muffling the sound. It was difficult to scale the wall holding both child and books, and she had to creep out of the village on foot, dropping to the ground behind the house once she was certain that she was unobserved and then creeping as swiftly as she dared through a tangled, overgrown garden before jumping a low picket fence and climbing the hill behind the village. Only when she was behind the hedge and in the next field over, and still heard no sound of pursuit, did she allow herself to relax. Spotting a cluster of trees atop another hill a few hundred meters off, she made her way towards it through the long, wet grass. The wind had picked up again, and the child cried as the cold wind bit at them. She held him closer, enveloping them both in her wings, and he quieted, as she crept beneath the trees.

In the densest part of the grove, she found a cluster of thickets and bushes high enough to shield her from sight, if none came too near or looked to closely. She cleared a space in the centre and crouched their, placing the magic books on a dry patch of ground beneath the bushes. She gazed down at the child and saw that he had fallen asleep. She smiled and held him close, as she waited for the dawn to come.

"Tomorrow, little one", she murmured. "Tomorrow is the first day of your new life."

***

On a darkened street in the suburb of Little Whinging, an old man with a flowing white beard, long purple robes decorated with stars and moons, and half-moon glasses stood with head bowed, facing a tall, sharp-featured woman with grey hair in a bun and a broad-shouldered giant with a long coat and a tangled black beard.

"You are certain that the child was not in the house?", he asked the giant softly, speaking slowly, as though each word deeply pained him.

"I'm sorry, Professor Dumbledore", the giant sobbed. "I searched the whole house, top to bottom, and even the garden, but their was no sign 'o him. Young Sirius Black showed up a few minutes after I did, and he helped me search, but we found nothing. The poor lad was nearly frantic, kept sayin' 'ow he let them down, meanin' poor Lily and James I suppose, 'ow he was 'arry's Godfather an' it was his responsibility to look out for him. He looked like he'd seen a ghost, and when we couldn't find the boy, he said that I could 'ave his motorbike. Said he wouldn't be needing it any more." The giant looked worried at that. "I thought about goin' after him, makin' sure he was alright, but I had to report to you, to tell you that poor little 'arry was... was..." The giant broke into a loud howl and then fell silent, wringing his hands miserably, looking like an overgrown school boy who was afraid he'd be scolded.

"You did rightly, Hagrid", said the old Headmaster with a sign. "I will alert the Ministry and the Order, those we can trust, and being the search. Black, as well, must be located. With luck, it may not yet be too late." The old wizard did not sound hopeful.

"But, Professor Dumbledore... if the child is gone, then surely You Know Who..." the woman trailed off, evidently unable to bear to voice her thought in full.

Dumbledore shook his head.

"No, Minerva. Voldemort (Hagrid and Minvera both flinched visibly at the name) did not leave the Potters' house alive, or at least not wholly alive, of that I am certain. And I very much doubt that even he could have spirited the child away with him in such a state, or disposed of him in any manner that we could not detect."

Minerva and Hagrid both looked ill at his words.

"What about a Death Eater?", Minerva asked after a few moments of silence.

The Headmaster hesitated.

"It is possible", he said finally. "Pray that it is not so. If we are fortune, perhaps one of the neighbours rescued the boy before Hagrid arrived."

"Surely they would have told someone", Minerva protested. "If their intentions were benevolent."

"It might have been a Muggle", Dumbledore replied. "Drawn by the blast. They would contact the Muggle authorities, not the Ministry or myself. Perhaps it is so." He sighed again, looking around the deserted street. "I do not believe their is more that we can do here tonight. Return to Hogwarts, or join the partying if you have the heart for it. I must be off."

"I will come with you", Minerva said determinedly.

"And I'll ask after young Mr. Black", said Hagrid with forced enthusiasm. "I know some of 'is 'aunts, might be I can track him down, affore he does somethin' he oughtent to."

Dumbledore looked like he was about to object, but didn't have the heart to do so.

"Very well, Rubeus", he finally replied. "And thank you. But if you find him, do not approach him, but notify me at once."

Hagrid looked confused, and worried, but at a sharp glance from the Headmaster, he quickly nodded his assent. Then Dumbledore turned and strode back to the end of the block, Minerva following close behind him. He paused at the corner and drew out what appeared to be a small cigarette lighter, which he flicked again and again, sending little balls of light flying back into the unlit street lights. Then he pocketed the device and, with another deep sigh, turned on the spot and was gone. Minerva followed a moment later.

Hagrid watched them depart, then climbed onto the waiting motorbike and, a few moments later, rose into the air with a loud roar.

***

The faint golden rays of dawn peeked through the curtains of an elegant bed chamber in one of the finer hotels in Paris. A young man dressed in a white robe sat on the bed, his long black hair and tanned skin combining with his roguish, confident expression to give him a rakish charm. He was currently watching, with moderate interest, a news report on the BBC, one of numerous similar reports to provide the masses with a diverting distraction over the last couple of days.

"...and we have another report of owls, whole flocks of them, flying over London in broad day light. Ornithologists have yet to offer any explanation for this highly unusual behaviour."

Their had been many such reports over the last couple of days, he recalled, and odder things besides. Flocks of owls in London, shooting stars over the English countryside, gatherings of people in strange clothes, in pointy hats and colourful robes, who disappeared as soon as someone approached them or tried to speak to them. Some might have called it coincidence, but the young man did not believe in coincidence. Some might have called him a dreamer, or other terms less flattering. He only smiled at such jibes, for he was not concerned with the opinions of lesser minds. He had always known that their was more to the world than met the common eye, ever since he had been a young boy, and a precious antique coin had arrived in the mail...

"David", Monique's voice called from the balcony. She was a woman whose' company many men would pay a great deal for, though she had not asked him for anything. "Come and join me. Or would you like me to come back inside?" Her voice was alluring, and for the moment, he decided, he could put aside the puzzle of owls and strange robes and shooting stars.

After all, what was the point of being rich if you couldn't enjoy yourself along the way?
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by LadyTevar » 2016-09-02 12:18am

A very nice start. Lets see where you go with this
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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-07 03:56am

Thanks.

I have quite a few ideas for where to go with this, but I can't say much more without spoilers.

I'm aiming to post another chapter roughly once a week.
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-07 05:59am

Demona moved quietly between the small rows of weatherbeaten grave stones, examining each name even as she listened carefully to hear if anyone approached. A few of the names on the gravestones she couldn't make out, even with her superb night vision, but most were still legible. If the stories were correct, somewhere in this cemetery might lie the remains of the three Perevel brothers, the makers of the legendary Deathly Hallows.

She was nearly at the back of the graveyard when she heard a clear pop. She paused, listening intently. It had come from behind her, from the direction of the little cemetery's gate. She crouched low, straining to hear the sound of low voices coming from the path near the gate.

"And what exactly is it that you hope to find here, Albus?" A woman's voice, quiet but sharp.

"We must determine if the child is still in the village", a male voice replied. Demona tensed at his words. If he was looking for the boy...

There was a few moments' silence. Demona carefully looked around the nearest tombstone, trying to spot the interlopers. She could make out a tall figure in a cloak standing just inside the gate, and she thought she saw another, shorter figure further back in the shadows. A cloak, like the wizard in the ruined house...

"This way!" The man's voice suddenly rang out, filled with hope. Demona tensed as the figure moved swiftly through the little gate, another, slighter shadow swiftly following him. She caught a murmur of the woman's voice, but she could not make out the words. The encounter, however, had deeply unsettled her, and she was prepared to bet her immortal life that they were heading in the direction of the little hollow where she had left the child, along with the items she had taken the previous night, out of the wind and bundled in a blanket that she had removed from a clothesline on the edge of the village.

Her first thought was to abandon the child and the items, finish her search, and be glad that the strangers had not remained in the cemetery. If those two were in fact both mages, she was not too proud to admit that she would have likely been outmatched in a fight. On the other hand, the Hallow, if it was here, was not going anywhere. It would be foolish to abandon assets that she already possessed on the off-chance that it might hasten her acquisition of another weapon, however powerful. So, snarling under her breath, she waited for a moment, listening until she was sure that their were no humans nearby, then climbed swiftly over the rail around the little cemetery and ghosted across the lane and into the undergrowth on the outskirts of Godric's Hollow.

It took her perhaps twenty minutes, alternating between running and gliding, to circle 'round the village and reach the small copse of trees where she had concealed the boy, along with the magic books and wand. She smiled slightly as she saw that they were still undisturbed, the child hanging in an improvised sling from a low hanging branch, the books and wand concealed in the undergrowth beneath. She was not a moment too soon, for no sooner had she finished bundling books, blanket, and child into the bag that she had brought with her (intended to carry the Hallows back to France with her), moving carefully so as not to endanger or wake the child, when she heard a shout, and dropped to a crouch just in time to avoid a bolt of red energy. It struck the tree behind her as she snarled, eyes flashing white, then spun and, snatching up the bag, leapt half-way up the nearest tree. Something struck the trunk, just below her left talon, and made the whole tree quiver as a sound like a bell chimed loud and clear, and silvery light flooded the grove as she clawed her way higher up into the tree, her heart beating faster than it had in years.

"No Albus, you'll hurt the child!" She heard a woman's voice shout, and the spells ceased flying, though the luminous silver light remained. Racing along one of the lower branches of the great evergreen tree, she glanced down and saw a tall, old man with a long, flowing beard dressed in a purple robe, and beside him a woman in black robes, perhaps a little younger than the man, with short grey hair tied in a bun. Both were staring up at her, and both held a wand in their outstretched hand, pointed directly at her.

The old man strode forward, haloed in silver light which shone from the tip of his wand, his eyes blazing with fury. His voice thundered, louder than seemed possible, and Demona shivered despite herself.

"RELEASE THE CHILD! RELEASE HIM, IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND MY SPEECH, AND YOU MAY LEAVE THIS PLACE UNHINDERED!"

For a moment, she actually considered it. Then she laughed, the sound harsh and cruel, scorning the arrogant human who thought that she would ever be fool enough to trust to his mercy.

"Too late!", she yelled, then sprang from the tree limb and into the air, trusting to her enemies' concern for the child to keep them from simply shooting her out of the sky. A gust of wind wafted beneath her wings, carrying her up and away from the pair of magi. She must have misjudged their desperation, or their confidence in their own skill, for she heard a crack and felt something brush past her and banked sharply, her heart beating just a little faster than it should have. Orange light flared behind her, and something hot coiled momentarily around her right leg. Then she was soaring over woods and fields, lit only by the light of the Moon, the only sounds the whistling wind, and the crying of the child, and the occasional flap of her wings.

***

Professor Minerva McGonnagle stood shivering beneath the trees a few hundred yards outside the village of Godric's Hollow, gazing in the direction that that... that thing had vanished, the anger and fear and grief and shear frustration threatening to overwhelm her. If only she had been a little faster, or Albus...

She glanced surrepticiously at the old Headmaster, standing beside her. He stood, still and silent, his wand still outstretched before him from when he'd cast that last spell, staring out into the night. His expression looked... lost, and afraid, and it frightened her more than anything that she had ever seen, even the terrible creature that had just escaped them.

"Albus", she finally said softly, and had to swallow and take a deep breath before she could continue. "Albus... was he... are you sure that that thing..."

For a long moment he did not answer, simply stood their, gazing into the darkness. Then...

"Yes", he said, so softly that she almost couldn't hear it. He slowly lowered his wand. "That creature had the boy. It... she... had Harry."

McGonnagle shivered, blinking moisture from her eyes, but she steeled herself and stood straighter, awaiting the Headmaster's next plan. He always had an answer, no matter how hopeless things seemed, and though she sometimes chafed at his peculiarities, she knew that deep down, she had always counted on that reassurance, had counted on it ever since she herself had been a young student at Hogwarts and he had taught her transfiguration classes.

Dumbledore didn't answer.

"Headmaster", she began, hesitated, then continued. "What... what do we do now?"

He was silent for a moment longer, then sighed, his shoulders slumping.

"I will review my books, and contact my sources in the Ministry, among Voldemort's (she flinched involuntarily) supporters, and overseas. Whatever that creature was, it is nothing that I have encountered before, and that alone would be cause for concern, if nothing else had happened here tonight."

"But the boy!" she cried, her frustration boiling over. "What about young Mr. Potter?"

"I will do all that I can", Albus replied wearily. "At the very least, we know that he is alive." Minerva nodded, grateful for that blessing, at least. "It may be that Mr. Black can provide us with some answers", Albus added grimly.

She grimaced. Who would have believed that Sirius Black, of all people, had sold out the Potters to Voldemort, that he was the traitor they had spent the last year looking for? She shook her head tiredly. She had thought, when she heard the news of Voldemort's destruction, that the long nightmare was over, but now she didn't know what to think. The world wasn't making sense any more, and even Albus didn't seem to have any answers, only guesses.

***

Three Days Later.

The aptly-named "City of Lights" glittered like a great multicoloured hive of termites beneath her as a warm breeze lifted her high over the roofs of the hotels and businesses and ancient buildings that lined the river Seine, toward the pair of great stone towers, black against the night, of the cathedral of Notre Dame. Despite the abundance of the human infestation, Demona smiled at the sight of the grand old cathedral, sitting on its island in the middle of the river, with the glittering city, ever alive, spread out around it. She'd always been rather fond of Paris, she admitted to herself, or at least as fond as she could be of anything that the humans had built. It was not the easiest place to move unnoticed at night, but it was big enough that one could easily become lost in the backdrop of the city, and it had innumerable old stone buildings where a Gargoyle could fit right in during the day. It was... not home, she had no home, and hadn't for many centuries, but it felt... comfortable. Familiar.

Soaring up to the very top of the northernmost tower, she alighted gently, gripping the stonework with her talons, then sprang nimbly down onto the roof. The child had fallen silent once they had left the cold, turbulent air over the English Channel and begun gliding over the fields of northern France. She had been concerned that the journey might prove too much for the child-human young were so fragile-, but the night air was warmer over France, and less tempestuous.

She made her way down into a small, dark chamber inside the tower. A quick examination showed that the hideout had been undisturbed during her trip- humans seldom intruded here, and she had taken considerable pains to conceal the entrance to the chamber. She had few possessions- a few tools and utensils, needle and thread for repairing her garments, a small collection of books, mostly on history and magic. She suddenly realized that she had almost none of the things that she would need to take care of an infant, nor did she really know anything about how to raise a human child. She had studied humans as enemies, as potential hunters and potential prey, and children were a small province in that study. She wondered, not for the first time, if this whole idea had been a ridiculous mistake.

But it was done, and to abandon it now would be to waste the effort and admit defeat. So she placed the child, still wrapped in his blanket, in the corner of the room furthest from the door, then began to pace, considering what to do next.

The child would need food, obviously. What did human children eat? She knew that they nursed, like any mammel, in the first years of life. Was this child old enough that he no longer required feeding in such a manner? She presumed so- she had fed him from a loaf of bread she had stolen while in Godric's Hollow, and he had seemed to find the food edible. He would need clothing, as well. Currently he was still dressed in the clothes he had worn when she took him from his ruined home, but it would be easy enough to acquire some more off of an unattended clothesline-she had done it often enough before.

She would also have to teach him to read and write, to perform arithmatic and magic. She didn't know at what age humans normally learned these things, but she decided that she might as well start now and see how far he got. She would limit his knowledge of magic, however, to what he would require to assist her in her more complicated spells and rites, at least until she knew more of what he was capable of- and how far she could trust him.

She also knew that she could not remain here much longer. The encounter with the mages at Godric's Hollow had decided that. She did not know if they possessed the means to track her here, but until she did, she could not risk remaining in the great cathedral. Besides, this place had been her home for too long. Too many humans might have seen something, and sooner or later, as always happened, their would be stories. Stories of a statue that came to life at night, a mysterious and terrible creature in the dark. Part of her relished those stories, knowing that she had left her mark, that the humans feared her, even if they did not know her name. But they also made her too easy to find, if someone was actively looking. And someone always was. Hunters she could deal with, but two mages was another matter. She needed time, time to plan, to find new weapons and to choose her battleground. And that meant finding a new hiding place. She growled in frustration, once more regretting her rash decision at Godric's Hollow. However, it was too late to change that now. She would just have to make the best of the situation. She was, in the end, a survivor. Whatever the cost.

But all of that would have to wait. It was well into the early hours of the morning, and the Sun would soon be rising. After making certain that the entrance was closed off and booby-trapped, and that the child could not get out or trip the lethal trap, she crouched between him and the door, mostly concealing him from the view of anyone entering the room. She could see the darkness lightening, the first rays of dawn peering over the horizon. She glanced behind her at the sleeping infant.

"You had better be worth the trouble, boy."

Then dawns' light rose over the city of Paris, and she felt the familiar sensation of her skin hardening to stone.

Demona slept, and dreamed of fire and blood and steel, of betrayal and death, of friends and kin long lost and forgotten, and of hunters in the night.
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-01-08 05:27pm

Well, here's chapter three, a year or so late. I'm as surprised as anyone, but when I started copying my old work here to Fanfiction.net, I figured that I ought to get back to this story and try to continue it.

Note: The name Spoiler
Gervais was gotten at babynames.net. According to that site, it means "Servant of the Spear". It seemed to fit well enough, given who chose it, and her motivations.
Amusingly, I also found that the dark lord Grindlewald's first name, Gellert, supposedly means something similar-"Strong like a Spear". An obscure Grindlewald reference wasn't what I was going for, but if it works out that way...


Chapter 3.

Eight Years Later.

It was still light out when he woke, though by the length of the shadows on the floor, it would be dark in another hour or two. He sat up, blinking tired eyes, rubbing the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.

He'd had the dream again. Darkness, then a flash of green light. He felt like it was important, but he couldn't remember why. He'd asked mother about it, once, and she had been interested, almost more so than he was. She had told him that it was probably a memory of the night when he got his scar, the night that she had found him. She'd told him that it was best not to dwell on bad dreams. But part of him still wished he could remember, even though he was half-afraid to.

Getting up, he crawled over to the crack in the crumbling wall of the room which served as a window. Mother was still in her stone sleep, and would be for another couple of hours, so he had nothing to do but read or watch the Sunset, and he didn't feel like reading at the moment.

The Sun hung low in the sky, casting a golden-red glow across the grass and tree tops beneath the ruined stone walls of Tintagel castle, their home for the last few months. The sky was dotted with red and orange clouds, and a chill wind swept in off the sea, making him shiver, though he was accustomed to cold. Their current hideout was a pair of secret rooms built into one of the ruined towers, and cracked and crumbling stone did little to keep the cold out. Demona had said they'd move on, to London, before winter arrived, but he thought that they had already overstayed their welcome.

The sound of laughter drew his attention to a small cluster of children running about on the grass below. They looked a little older than him, probably part of one of the "tourist" groups that frequently visited the ruins. He heard someone call out, the sound carried faintly on the wind, and peering past the group, he saw a couple of adults waving to the children from the top of a nearby hill. Reluctantly, and in much disorder, the children regrouped and went back to join their parents, no doubt heading home before the Sunset. Most humans didn't like the dark, but he was used to it. It was the day that was strange to him, glimpsed only fleetingly at dusk or dawn, or through cracks and narrow window slits in walls, or on the rare occasions when Mum sent him out on an errand during the day.

He watched the little group of humans disappear over the top of the hill, as the red Sunset faded to purple, the sky turning dark blue as the Sun finally sank below the horizon. He turned around, grinning as the stone statue in front of him began to crack. He jumped back as the stone skin shattered, sending sharp shards of rock flying, and the scaly blue form of his mother burst from her stone shell.

"Good evening, mother."

"Gervais. You're up early. I hope you got enough sleep."

"I'm not tired", he said, truthfully. "What are we doing tonight."

"Patience, Gervais", she replied. "Tonight, we will begin your study of antidotes."

"And then poisons", he asked eagerly.

Demona frowned slightly.

"We will see. But first, I need you to pick up a few things from the village. The money is behind the books, 2nd. shelf from the top."

"Yes mother", he replied. He liked going into town, even if the humans sometimes frightened him. Mother had warned him never to talk to them, because if they knew he was living here, without other humans to take care of him, they would try to take him away. She had said that they were hateful and prejudiced, and would never accept a creature like her as his guardian. "I'll be back before Midnight."

"See that you are."

***

Demona watched as the boy scurried out the door, his expression eager. He showed too much interest in the humans, though she supposed that it was inevitable. Young creatures, she supposed, were the same in any species- always curious, always seeking to push the limits set by their elders for their own good.

Perhaps it would be good to let him see the humans more closely. Perhaps he would learn the painful lesson that she had learned nearly a thousand years ago- that their entire barbarous race was utterly craven and corrupt. Perhaps then he would understand.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps there was no changing human nature, no matter how young and seemingly innocent they were. Perhaps it was inevitable that the child would turn on her, as all the others of his kind had. She did not let herself acknowledge how much that thought hurt.

Well. She would cross that barrier when she came to it.

***

A sleek black limousine rolled onto the tarmac of JFK Airport, pulling to a stop a few dozen yards from a small but top-of-the-line private jet. The door opened and a man stepped out. He was tall, broad-shouldered, with an athletic build beneath his immaculate dark grey suit. His keen eyes gazed out from a tanned face, beneath long black hair drawn back in a pony-tail. He surveyed the tarmac, noting the positions of the flight crew, the baggage car ready for loading, each vehicle or item within sprinting distance that might offer cover from, or for, a gunman. He took a deep breath, let it out with a short sigh, straightened the lapels of his jacket, and turned to the limo's driver, a twenty-year old blond by the name of Stacy Green.

"Thank you Miss Green. Take the car back to the house. No need to wait around."

"Yes Mr. Xanatos", she replied as he shut the door. She hit the gas and the car rolled away, leaving David standing on the tarmac next to his brand new plane.

Sometimes, I almost forget how much I enjoy being me.

The sound of another engine approaching made him look up. A slightly battered tan sedan was cruising across the airfield towards him. It parked a dozen yards away, the driver's door opened, and a man stepped out. He was tall, taller than David but no less sturdily-built, with Nordic hair and features, light blond hair in a short, precise cut. He wore a dark blue suit and red tie, and his face bore an expression of studied neutrality, but his eyes gleamed with intelligence.

"Ah, Owen. You've given Mr. Reynard your notice?"

The man nodded.

"Yes Mr. Xanatos."

"I hope the old man didn't take it too hard?"

"As well as could be expected. He wished me well, though he made some rather unkind remarks as to your character. Begging your pardon sir."

David chuckled.

"I daresay he'd say worse if he knew about what Fox and I have been getting up to. Still, best to make a clean break of it. No hard feelings. We're going to have a lot of work ahead of us, Owen. Leave the car. One of my people will take it back to the office."

"Of course, Mr. Xanatos."

He chuckled and strode up the steps and through the door of the plane, Owen following close behind him. He nodded to the pilot as he made his way to his seat.

"Ready to take off, Henry?"

"Just another five minutes for the pre-flight check, Mr. Xanatos."

"Excellent." Like most aircraft, the interior was mostly occupied by a single long room behind the cockpit. There was an isle along one side and a table and booth built into the opposite wall, complete with minibar and in-flight widescreen television. A door at the back led to the galley and restroom. He sat, pouring himself a martini from the bar.

"Drink, Owen?"

"No thank you, Mr. Xanatos."

He chuckled again.

"You know, it doesn't hurt to relax a little, Owen."

"You're not paying me to relax, Mr. Xanatos", Owen replied neutrally.

"True enough", David said with a smirk. He raised his glass in a toast. "To the success of our expedition." Lowering the glass, he pulled out a map and unrolled it on the table. It was a photocopy of an old parchment. Owen studied it.

"6th. Century, sir."

David raised an eyebrow, impressed despite himself.

"Very good Owen. You have no idea how long it took to unearth this. Or how much it cost. But it confirms the legend that Tintagel Castle is the birthplace of King Arthur. Presuming that it is accurate, of course."

"And what do you intend to do with this information, if I may ask?"

David shrugged.

"Arthur's origins are shrouded in magic and mystery. If we could uncover some trace of those origins, it might prove exceedingly valuable, to the right parties."

"Very good sir."

David smiled and raised his glass again.

"To fame, and fortune."
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by LadyTevar » 2018-01-09 04:40pm

Glad you decided to continue. :)
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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-01-09 04:55pm

LadyTevar wrote:
2018-01-09 04:40pm
Glad you decided to continue. :)
Thanks. I wouldn't have felt right posting two chapters of a story I didn't intend to finish, so when I decided to start transferring my fics to Fanfiction.net, I felt obliged to continue this one.
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-04-28 04:38pm

Chapter Four, reposted from Fanfiction.net.

This is probably one of the longer chapters I've ever written for a story. There are a couple things that take place in this chapter that I've been thinking about and anticipating writing for a long time. Regarding the meeting and revelation that take place in this chapter, I am not sure if there is a canon version for either, but since this story is solidly alternate universe already for both Harry Potter and Gargoyles, I don't suppose that it matters much. I hope that my version lives up to expectations, and does justice to the characters.

Chapter Four.

"Give me the book", Demona said. Gervais sighed and reluctantly handed over the leather-bound tome. His mother closed the book. "Now tell me: what are the magical properties of silver?"

Gervais tried to concentrate, but it was difficult with the little cauldron bubbling noisily over the fire a few feet away, casting flickering purple-red light on the stone walls of their latest home. He wanted it to be done, so he could see weather he had brewed it to Demona's satisfaction. Maybe then, they could move on to studying poisons... but Demona was eyeing him sternly, and he knew that she'd never let him work on potions if he didn't learn the theory first.

"Silver is used to... to kill werewolves, and also as an ingredient in several protective potions and talismans."

"Name three."

He frowned, struggling to remember.

"There's the blood Purifying Potion. Um... Some amulets, to shield against spiritual or magical attack..." He tried to think of a third, then flushed, embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I can't remember."

Demona gave him an annoyed look.

"Then clearly you are not ready to progress to actually brewing complex potions. You will review the first three chapters of "Most Dark and Ancient Potions" tomorrow, and be prepared to summarize the various uses of silver in potions at the start of your next lesson."

"Yes mother", Gervais replied. He knew he sounded sulky, and he knew that would only irritate his mother more, but he couldn't help it. He'd been looking forward to doing some more practical work. He never got to do anything fun with magic. Just theory, and the occasional bit of accidental magic which he couldn't control. Those always made him uneasy. He wasn't sure why, but whenever he performed magic, mother got this strange expression on her face. He'd tried to ask her about it, but she just said that she was worried that the humans might find out about him, that if they knew he was a wizard, they would do terrible things to him.

He wondered sometimes if the humans were really so terrible. When he watched them from his window during the day, or on the rare occasions he had to speak to one while running an errand in town, they didn't seem so terrible. Some were rude, but others were friendly. But his mother must know what she was talking about. She had been around for a thousand years, after all. It was hard for him to imagine living such a long time.

***

The rental car came to a stop at the base of a grassy green slope, gently rolling up to the base of a ruined wall of ancient grey stone. David stepped out of the car, followed by Owen. He paused, taking a deep breath of the salty sea air, feeling the cool, wet breeze against his skin as he gazed at the ruins of Tintagel, crumbling grey stone beneath a grey sky. It felt ancient. It felt... magical.

He could hear the waves thundering in the background as he strolled up the slope, his long grey coat flapping around him as he approached the base of the ruined walls. As he did, he pulled out a copy of the document that had lead him here, scanning it carefully.

"According to my source, there should be a secret chamber behind one of the back walls near the North West corner." He turned and headed in that direction, Owen following just behind him. After about ten minutes of navigating the ruins, they found themselves in a half-collapsed chamber near the Northwest corner.

"According to the document, the chamber should be behind that wall." David pointed, then turned to his accomplice. "Owen, if you'd care to do the honors."

"Of course Mr. Xanatos", Owen replied, respectful and unperturbed as always, as he stepped forward, drawing a crowbar from under his coat. David supposed, with a twinge of regret, that they were vandalizing a historical site, but he quickly dismissed his misgivings. It would be worth it, more than worth it, if he was right. If he wasn't... well, no great gains were ever made without risk. What they were doing was, of course, thoroughly illegal. But a few well-placed bribes and the best defense lawyer money could buy would hopefully smooth over any... unfortunate reprecussions should they be caught. After making a quick examination of the stone-work, Owen knelt and thrust the crowbar between two large blocks. Then he heaved with all his strength. The stones shifted slightly, but only barely. David stepped up and threw his weight onto the lever as well. Slowly, muscles straining, they shifted the great block of stone a few inches. A foot. Finally, after what felt like an hour, they had pried open a small gap. David's heart beat faster as he starred into the small, dark tunnel.

"Well", said Owen, raising one eyebrow. "It appears that your source is genuine."

"Did you ever doubt it?", David quipped, but he could not deny the feeling of mingled surprise and exhilaration that came over him. Was this how the explorers of hold had felt, as they peeled back the borders of the known world, seeing sights no man had ever seen before? Was this how Howard Carter had felt, when he first stood inside Tutankamen's tomb?

He pulled out a powerful but compact energy-efficient flashlight- a recent technical innovation from Xanatos Enterprises-and turned it on, shining a bright white beam into the grimy tunnel. It was a custom for him to use his own technology whenever possible. It sent a positive message to investors and potential customers alike that he had confidence in the quality of his products- If its good enough for me, its good enough for you.

He stepped into the tunnel, crouching low.

"Begging your pardon Mr. Xanatos, but are you certain its safe", Owen asked. "These old tunnels can be quite hazardous. Or so I've been told."

David chuckled, the sound echoing slightly through the damp and musty passage.

"I'll be fine, Owen", he said. "But you can wait here if you're worried."

"That will not be necessary, Mr. Xanatos", Owen replied stiffly. David chuckled again to himself. Owen did everything stiffly.

For perhaps five minutes they made their way, crouching and occasionally crawling, along the slippery passageway. Once, David thought he saw a rat scamper through the flashlight beam. At last, he noticed that the tunnel was beginning to lighten, as they approached a sharp left turn. He hoped that the passage didn't simply lead to the outside, or to some ruined chamber, open to the day, which had long since been stripped of valuables. It would be most disappointing.

He rounded the corner, on hands and knees now, then stopped, feeling bitter disappointment well up as he found himself facing a blank slab of stone.

"Mr. Xanatos", Owen called from behind him. "Is everything all right?"

"Its a dead end, Owen", he said in disgust. All this effort, for nothing, and he'd ruined his pants crawling over the dirty, wet floor of the tunnel.

"Perhaps there's some sort of secret door? Some sort of concealed mechanism", Owen suggested after a moment's pause.

It was worth a shot, he thought. After all, no one in their right mind would build a tunnel to nowhere. He moved closer, then crouched, pressed right up against the slab of stone that blocked his passage. Carefully he examined the stone work, his flashlight playing over its rough surface, feeling the rock face, around its edges, along the adjoining walls for any hidden catch.

Nothing.

He was just about to give up in despair, and had started to turn away, when he caught a glint of light peeking out from between the cracks in the stone. He hadn't noticed it up close, in the glare of the flashlight. He pressed his ear to the crack, listening intently.

He could hear wind whispering from the other side. And something else. Something moving.

So it does lead outside, he thought. Still, he wanted to see where it came out. There might be some clues, something, to make this trip worth while.

Best wait until whoever's there is gone. I'd rather not explain this to the constabulary. He listened. Nothing. A minute passed. Two. When he had counted to five minutes, without hearing any sound but the whistling of the wind, the drip of water, and the sound of his own breathing and heartbeat, he decided it was safe enough to try.

Owen can certainly keep quiet, he thought approvingly. The man was as silent as stone behind him, waiting patiently for David to give him further instructions. Not that he didn't value feedback from his employees, but a degree of discretion was a worthy quality, especially when dealing with some of his more... delicate enterprises.

With a grunt of effort, he pushed against the stone block. To his surprise, it shifted easily. It was lighter than it appeared, and perfectly balanced. With another effort it slid free, landing on the floor with a loud crack.

Light flooded the tunnel. He closed his eyes, waited a few moments for them to adjust, then blinked them slowly open.

He was gazing into a small stone chamber. He noted a few things almost at once. The stone work was smooth, and dry. No moss grew on it. There was a layer of dust, but it had been brushed away in places.

And then, one of the shadows on the floor moved.

Damn it, he thought, sliding out of the tunnel. Hopefully he could explain to whoever this was what he was doing in a previously unknown tunnel beneath the ruins of Tintagel. Or not so unknown, he thought wryly, as it suddenly occurred to him that these people might have their own reasons for secrecy, and might not take kindly to his intrusion.

He was halfway out of the tunnel when he heard a click-swish, caught motion out of the corner of his eye. He started to turn before something shoved him hard from behind, pushing him forward into the chamber. His eyes widened as a gleaming ax blade sliced through the air where he had been standing a moment before, striking the stone wall above the passage with a crack of splintering metal and stone. A high-pitched voice cried out and he wheeled, then froze, starring, at the man-sized winged form crouching in front of him.

"Mr. Xanatos", Owen called from inside the tunnel. "Are you alright?"

Owen. He must have pushed me clear of the ax blade. I'll have to remember to give him a raise.

"Quite alright, Owen", he said, glad that his voice didn't audibly shake. Now that the surprise was gone, he saw that the figure before him was, of course, nothing but a life-sized stone gargoyle. It was female, with arms crossed and eyes closed as if in sleep, and was carved in exquisite detail. When he moved, causing the shadows to shift, he could almost believe that her hair moved, the sculpture was so perfect.

Well, it might be worth something, at any rate, he thought. Obviously being sheltered in this secret chamber must have preserved it from the elements. But why was it here? Some sort of symbolic treasure guardian? His heart beat faster at that thought, but his attention was drawn to the small figure crouching behind the statue.

It took him a moment to recognize that it was, in fact, a boy. He couldn't have been older than ten, if that. His hair was black, shoulder-length and tangled, and his face was pale, as if he hadn't gotten much Sunlight. His eyes were green. He was dirty, and his clothing was rather worn, but he looked well-fed. He looked afraid, but also somehow curious, as he peered around the statue at David.

"Hello there", David said, assuming what he thought was a reassuringly friendly tone of voice. "My name's David. What's yours'?" Behind him he could hear Owen pulling himself out of the tunnel.

The boy glanced at the statue, then back at him. Behind the statue, David noticed, were wooden shelves containing a variety of pots, dishes, utensils, books, and other, stranger implements. The remains of a recent fire lay in a circle of stones directly behind the gargoyle, and a large pot hung over them.

"What is this", David asked, unable to keep the disappointment entirely out of his voice. "Your secret clubhouse?"

The boy shook his head.

"What's your name, kid?"

The boy hesitated, then replied "Gervais."

"Gervais? Are you from France? On vacation?"

He didn't answer.

"Are your parents with you?"

The boy's gaze darted to the statue, then he shook his head.

"Where are they?"

The boy was silent.

"Mr. Xanatos", Owen asked.

"Where are your parents", David tried again.

The boy glanced quickly at the statue again, then after a brief pause replied "They're dead."

"I'm sorry", David said. Of course, it meant nothing to him weather the boy's parents were alive or dead, but he needed the boy to cooperate. "So, did you discover this... place?" He gestured at the chamber they were in. He could see now that it was at least two stories tall, with small slit windows that emitted the faded Sunlight from outside.

The boy nodded after a moment.

Why do I get the feeling that you're not telling me the truth?

"Well then, this can just be our little secret, eh?" He reached into his coat and drew out his wallet. "Here, I'll give you fifty pounds to help me and Owen clear your things out of here, and another fifty not to tell anyone else about this place."

The boy shook his head.

"A tough bargainer, eh", David said with a grin. "I'll double it."

The boy's eyes darted around the room, as though looking for a way out.

"Its not mine", he blurted.

"Then whose is it", David asked. The boy's eyes went to the statue again. The light overhead was failing, the shadows growing longer on the floor and casting the chamber into darkness.

"Mr. Xanatos-" Owen said, his tone of voice suddenly uneasy.

The boy's eyes gleamed as the last light failed, and his mouth curled into a smile.

"My mother."

"Your mother? But you said-"

The light faded. And that was when he noticed the statue.

It began with a cracking sound. Then more cracks, louder and louder, spreading across the statue's surface. He stepped back as Owen shouted "Look out!" The statue shattered, sending shards of stone flying about the chamber, and an enormous blue thing burst from its ruins with a snarl.

David felt his back hit the wall, mouth hanging open, as Owen stepped to one side, slipping his hand inside his jacket. He starred at the impossible thing crouching in front of him, talons digging into the stone floor as clawed hands reached towards him, great blue wings nearly spanning the chamber, blue scales gleaming and red eyes flashing.

The creature's eyes narrowed on him. Its gaze swept the chamber, and then it spoke.

"Gervais?" Its voice sounded human, even feminine, though somehow harsh and suspicious.

"Here mother", the boy replied.

"Good. Stay behind me." She turned her glare back to David, her mouth twisting into a smile that revealed gleaming white fangs.

David tried a disarming smile.

"Uh. Hi. I believe there's been a misunderstanding-"

"You made a very great mistake coming here. I'm afraid, it will be your last."

She stepped forward, and for a moment, David honestly didn't know what he was going to do next.

Then the leads of a taser connected with the creature's skin, and she screamed, arcing in pain as volts of electricity crackled. She fell, twitching, to the floor. With a cry, the boy ran and knelt beside her. Then he looked up, eyes blazing with anger and fear.

"You hurt my mother!" And he flung himself at David.

Owen grabbed the boy, holding him back with one arm as he thrashed with animal ferocity, fists and feet flailing as he tried to hit David. In the other he held the taser, trained on the fallen creature.

"Your mother will be fine", David said, though privately, it occurred to him that he had no idea how this creature's body would react to a stun gun. He hoped she wasn't badly hurt-and undiscovered sapient creature with clearly supernatural abilities was worth far more alive than dead.

"Let me go", the boy snarled, still struggling to break free from Owen.

"Do you promise not to attack me?"

The boy paused, thinking.

"Will my mother be alright?"

"Cross my heart", David replied. The boy gave him a quizzical expression. "I promise", he confirmed.

"Alright", the boy replied. After a moment, Owen released him. He immediately crouched by the creature, who was climbing to her feet, glaring at Owen. Owen tensed slightly, planting his feet apart for balance and leveling the stun gun at her in a shooter's stance. David raised one eyebrow despite himself.

Clearly Owen is a man of many talents.

"What do you want", the creature growled.

David stepped forward with his most charming smile.

"Hello. I believe we got off on the wrong foot. I promise, I mean you no harm."

"Your man shot me."

"Well you did try to attack me", he countered. "Owen here was just protecting me."

"He is your bodyguard?"

"Among other things."

"Why are you here? What do you want with me?"

"Truthfully, I had no idea that you were here at all. I had unearthed records indicating the existence of a secret chamber or passage beneath this castle. I had hoped that it might contain something valuable."

"You're lying."

"Why would I lie", he countered, with a guileless smile.

"You are human. It is the nature of your kind to deceive and destroy."

"You've known many humans", David asked, genuinely curious.

"Too many", the creature replied, with an almost petulant glower. It was surreal, standing here and holding a conversation, in English, with a creature that was clearly not human. Clearly magical.

I knew it. I knew that magic was real.

"Many humans would say that you're a monster", he noted. The creature's eyes narrowed. "I, on the other hand, do not choose to condemn something just because it is unfamiliar. Perhaps it would be best if we both avoid making assumptions about one another. What is your name?"

"I am called Demona", the creature said proudly. "A name that you will learn to fear."

"And this boy", he gestured to Gervais, "is your son? I imagine there's an interesting story there."

"One that is not your concern."

"I'm simply curious. And, after all, trust is built on understanding, and understanding is built on knowledge."

"You expect me to trust you with a gun to my head?"

David paused, considering. It was a risk- but his instincts told him that this was a pivotal moment in the negotiation. His instincts were usually good when it came to manipulating humans. Time to see if they'd work on whatever Demona was. He nodded to Owen.

"Owen, put down the gun."

Owen did so, though he did not holster it. Smart man.

"There, you see?" He turned back to Demona. "Merely a precaution. I mean you and your son no harm."

Demona studied him appraisingly.

"Well, you are no coward, human, whatever else you may be. Or perhaps you are simply a fool."

David smiled.

"I assure you I am no fool. I am an inventor and a businessman. I was expecting nothing more notable here than an undiscovered chamber and perhaps some artifacts of minor value. But this"-he gestured at the chamber-"is certainly more interesting."

"I am not an artifact."

"Of course not." He had no idea what she was, as of yet, but he wasn't going to tell her that. "I propose a mutually beneficial arrangement- an exchange of information."

"What kind of information?"

What he wanted was to know her history, how she had come here, what magic gave her her abilities. But he knew that he would have to build her trust, before he could expect answers to those questions.

"For a start, any information you might have on the history of this castle, particularly as it pertains to the legend of King Arthur."

She scoffed.

"Arthur was before my time. I have no interest in human kings. They all come and go, and leave only ruin in their wake."

Before her time? How old was she?

"I take it you've seen quite a few kings, then?"

"An exchange works both ways. I do not care about your history. What do you have to offer that can benefit me?"

He spread his hands, smiling.

"Make me an offer. I am a very wealthy man. And I have contacts in business and government on every continent on the planet, excluding Antarctica." For now, at least.

Demona considered, then nodded, as if she had reached a decision.

"Ten thousand pounds in untraceable gold."

David blinked. That much gold would be difficult to come by. The untraceable part caught his attention as well. This creature was smart, and evidently knew something of the human world and its dealings. He would have to remember not to underestimate her.

"Very well. It may take some time to transfer the gold here, but you shall have your payment."

Demona's eyes narrowed.

"I hope that you keep your bargain. For your sake."

"I'm a man of my word", David replied, then after a moment's reflection extended his hand. "Shall we shake on it?"

Demona seemed to hesitate, then with a grimace of distaste, she took his hand in her clawed fingers. Her skin felt dry but smooth, despite its scaly appearance. He had the feeling that she was strong enough to rip his hand off if she wanted.

They shook, and she pointedly wiped her hand on the loincloth around her waist. He ignored it.

"Excellent. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

That Evening.

David shrugged out of his coat, as Owen lugged his bag into the hotel room behind him.

"Very good, Owen. You may take the rest of the night off. And might I say that you performed above and beyond my expectations today."

"Thank you Mr. Xanatos." The man turned to go, then paused, as if wanting to say something but uncertain of weather to proceed.

"If you have something to say, say it", David prompted.

Owen frowned slightly.

"A remarkable experience, Mr. Xanatos."

He chuckled.

"Indeed. Naturally it must be kept in the strictest confidence."

"Naturally", Owen replied, sounding slightly offended at the notion that his discretion might be in question. From his point of view, it probably was an offense. Owen was a reliable man, and he'd proved that more than once today.

"I believe that I owe you my life", David said. Twice. It was an unaccustomed and unpleasant experience, to be in another man's debt. But he was a man who paid his debts.

"I was simply doing my job", Owen replied. "After all, I cannot remain in your employment if you are dead."

"True", he replied with a small chuckle. Owen seemed to be considering something.

"You told that creature", he finally said, "that I was your bodyguard. Is that to be my new position?"

He paused, considering. It had been merely a flippant comment, intended to pacify Demona. But perhaps it was time that he invested in a full-time bodyguard, especially if he would be dealing with Demona in the future.

"Why not? You've certainly proven yourself able. I'll have Maude file the paperwork tomorrow."

"Thank you, Mr. Xanatos", Owen replied. He moved as if to go, but instead closed the door, then turned to David with the expression of a man steeling himself for something.

"Was there something more you wished to say", David enquired, raising an eyebrow.

"If I am to protect you", Owen began, choosing his words carefully, "then you must be able to trust me absolutely. There can be no secrets between us. None of consequence, at any rate."

David felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

"Is there something you're not telling me, Owen?" It could be any number of things. A criminal past, outstanding debts that might leave him open to blackmail, even a romantic affair. Whatever it was, he doubted he'd like it.

"You remarked, I believe, on the resemblance between myself and Mr. Vogel." Mr. Reynard's assistant had been practically a carbon copy of Owen, or rather vice-versa, if you gave him glasses and substituted black hair for Owen's blond. "That resemblance is no coincidence. Owen Burdette is not my true name." As he said it, something in his voice seemed to change. "This face I wear, is a mask. It is time that I show you who I really am."
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.

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