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 The Beetle, Chapter 12

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Cate Snape
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Anzahl der Beiträge : 40
Anmeldedatum : 26.02.17
Alter : 25
Ort : Eastbourne

BeitragThema: The Beetle, Chapter 12   Mo März 13, 2017 1:46 am

The Beetle

Today was the day I’d promised to free the beetle. As far as I was concerned, she could live out her days as a miserable insect and the world would be no worse off, but unfortunately there were reasons to keep Miss Skeeter human. Her leave of absence from work – which I had kindly submitted on her behalf – would end tomorrow, and I didn’t want her to lose her job. She would be so much more useful to me where she was.
It was around midday when I went searching in my suitcase for the glass jar. I knew I was grinning like a madman - this was going to be fun. I set the jar down on my bed, and my smile turned mean. Are you scared yet, Rita? I thought to myself, as the beetle tried its best to look indignant. You’ll learn your mistake soon enough. My hands shook a little from anticipation as I opened the jar, and tipped it on its side so that the beetle could get out. Control yourself, Hermione. I took a few deep breaths and refocused, aiming my wand at the pitiful thing.

“Just so you don’t get any ideas, Rita!’ I warned, and the beetle crawled slowly, suspiciously, out of its prison and onto the bed.

"Revolvio Animagi," I exclaimed, pointing to the insect.

The beetle grew and grew and, slowly but surely, transformed into the human form of Rita Skeeter - I had learnt the spell against Animagus transformation in my third year. After we had stopped Wormtail, and Remus and Sirius magically disarmed him, it wasn’t difficult for me to find the spell.

"Incarcerus," I quickly threw the next spell that would render Miss Skeeter unable to move. Fascinated, I watched ropes wrap around the body of the reporter and bind her.

My mouth twitched into a smirk as I looked coldly over her horrified face. I could not resist a triumphant grin as I looked at the helpless figure that was lying in front of me. Her make-up was smeared and pasty, and her hair had the greasy look of someone that had not seen water for a long time. A thick pimple glowed red and yellow on her chin. It looked she’d lost a bit of weight too, the poor woman.

I did provide food – not my fault if she didn’t like leaves.

Rita looked at me behind her too-big glasses with eyes that said, if she could have, she would have gone straight for my throat. "Hello Rita!", I greeted her warmly, faux-affection smothering the words, but I knew my eyes were cold. This was a fun game, but maybe only for me. Never mind – I was still enjoying myself.

"How are you feeling?’ I asked, tilting my head. ‘It must have been nice the last few weeks, some time to relax, away from the quick quotes quill?" I was winding her up, blinking at her sweetly and jutting out my bottom lip to exaggerate my ‘concern’. I wanted to see if she was foolish enough to react to my words. She lay with her lips drawn into a pencil-thin line, so small you couldn’t see her mouth except for the smudged lipstick everywhere, and tied like a package on my bed. On closer inspection, I thought I could see that she was biting her lips, perhaps to stop herself from retorting, screaming, yelling?

"What is it, Rita, you're not saying anything? Or have you gone mute, is that a side effect of longer animagus transformation?" I asked, clearly worried for my dear friend’s wellbeing. I threaded my wand into my hair and casually twisted a few curls.

"What do you want?" She hissed at me venomously, and I suppressed a flinch - I’d forgotten how unpleasant her voice was. I dropped the pretence and looked at her coldly.

"There it is. I knew we wouldn’t be lucky enough for you to lose your voice,"

I continued provoking her, raising the wand again. She began to twist back and forth, pulling and tugging at the robes.

"Calm down, Rita! Don’t worry, you’re not going anywhere! I won’t keep you too long, I can see you’re getting impatient. Is that alright?" I said.

She looked at me irritably, as if she thought I had lost my mind. Apparently, irony was alien to her. I clicked my tongue disapprovingly.

"Rita, Rita, you’ve just got to learn that I’m in charge here, and you have to do what I tell you!" I told her calmly, accentuating every word. I couldn’t hold back a deranged giggled though - Miss Skeeter's face was just too funny. I think she really thought I was crazy.

"Oh, don't look at me like that. I'm not actually crazy, you silly thing!", I answered her thoughts, still giggling.

"... You, ... You're mad!" Rita screamed loudly and tried to kick out with her legs, while the skirt of her crumpled suit slipped up further. I looked at her, waiting, like a parent would treat a child having a tantrum, and waved my wand menacingly before her eyes.

"Rita, shut up. If you don't calm down, I'll hex you, and I’d rather not. I want to talk to you," I said softly, reasonably.

"... You, you can’t ... you aren't allowed to use magic," she stuttered, and something like fear flitted over her face. I lifted an eyebrow dismissively.

"Rita, dear, I think you should be over that by now. Do you see an owl from the ministry?" I asked sarcastically, looking pointedly at the window. “I can and will, if you do not do what I say.” She seemed speechless, as she stared at me with her mouth gaping open. No manners, this woman.

"So, I suppose you're wondering what I want from you? You know I'm not happy about what you wrote about me this year, but especially about Harry.” She stared at me blankly. “Your lies are unacceptable and you know that, don't you, Rita? You only wanted to get on Fudge’s good side, right?" She still stared, so I forged on.

"Your punishment for your offenses against me and Harry have just been served in that jar for the last five weeks." I said, tapping the jar with my wand. She rolled her eyes as I delivered her sentence, then began to wail.

"Who....Do. You. Think. You. Are ...?" She was starting to irritate me now, getting louder from word to word.

I’m afraid that just isn’t acceptable. We’ll call this a lesson in authority, I thought, as I casually shut her screaming off with a silencio. If a gaze could burn, I would be able to heat a dozen ovens and open a bakery at that moment. I clicked my tongue, again.

"Rita, if this continues, we'll be sitting here until next week, and tomorrow you’re supposed to go back to work again," I pointed out, ever the voice of reason. She stared at me angrily, but she had at least accepted that she should remain silent.

"I’ll summarise for you, to keep this short. I don't know if you've realised, Rita, but I've got you in the palm of my hand. You are an unregistered animagus, which means Azkaban.” I caught her eyes widening and smiled, finally dropping my wand and looking at her. “Doesn’t look like you want to move in there? Lucky you, because if you just help me out a little here, you’ve got nothing to worry about. I want you to stop writing nasty articles about Harry, so, anytime you write about Harry now, even just to drop his name, you need my permission. Do you understand that, Rita? If you ever write something about Harry again without having informed me before, I won't think twice about reporting you!"

I had explained all this in a low, controlled voice, my arms crossed in front of my chest, and looked coldly, expectantly into her eyes. I could see her slowly processing my words.

"Oh, I can see some anger in those eyes, my dear! But don't you waste your time trying to be clever, you won't get out of it. If you think about reporting yourself, I can stop you. In fact you won't be able to. Count yourself lucky, because I’ve been working on some spells in the last few weeks. Yes, that’s right Rita, just for you. This spell will make it impossible for you to tell someone that you are an animagus. It's a bit like the Unbreakable Oath, but I don't need your consent!"

This wasn't exactly true. I didn't need her active consent, but she had to allow me to throw the spell at her - but Rita didn't need to know about this and it was a rather dark spell. She looked as if she wanted to cry, a pile of misery and rope on my bed. But compassion wasn’t something I had in mind at that moment, even as her eyes started swimming behind her slanting glasses in their unshed tears.

"It's a hobby of mine to invent new spells and the like, you know? Ah, where was I - exactly, so you’ve got no way out. Oh, of course, and since I wasn’t very busy the last few weeks and you kindly left me your book, ... ah, where did I put it? Just a second...!", I made the words deliberately light and playful, even though I knew that I had deeply worried her. I reached out to the table and pulled Rita's revelation book out of the drawer.

"Yes, there we are. So, I have your book!" Rita suddenly began fighting, thrashing against the ropes, trying to shout, or make any sound at all, as though she was trying to scream her soul out of her body.

"Please what? Rita, you know I can't understand you!" I kindly drew her attention to her unfortunate situation. But it was too funny, the way she wallowed on the bed and roared silently with a wide-open mouth, while she looked utterly furious. She had lost her glasses while rolling around, and her white-blond hair was a complete birds’ nest. I let her go on quietly; at some point she would get tired. I just leant back to enjoy the entertainment.

"Is that enough, Rita? I’m not sure you’d be able to make a noise anymore, even if I took the spell off, after all that!", I beamed at her jovially, letting her know that I was enjoying her humiliation.

"To answer your silent question, I just happened to be free and nearby, so I went round yours yesterday. I happened to find this book by accident, and I have to say it is a very interesting, sometimes shocking, read!" I told her casually. She knew, of course, that I had broken into her flat, but that made the game all the more funny.

"I'm going to keep it, just to make things clear. You can start another one, if you like, but I’d like to get an extract from you once a month - and before you start again, remember: you’re in the palm of my hand. You kept the revelation book like a kind of diary, and I'm sure some of the people mentioned in the book would like an excerpt too. So, if you really want to annoy me, Rita, you might want to think about the consequences," I added threateningly. She was now lying still and quiet, completely exhausted on the bed, as if she had given up. I did not quite believe the silence yet, but I removed the Silencio from her with a swipe of my wand.

"You can talk, Rita," I pointed out, as she cleared her throat.

"Chrm ... chrm ... who are you?" Came the question, slightly croaky, but still cold, and she looked at me suspiciously.

"Please, you know who I am. Hermione Granger!" I replied, laughing as I tucked a long, brown lock of hair behind my ear.

"You can’t be! A little girl couldn’t pull this off. What did you do with Miss Granger?" Rita hissed softly, trying to get into a sitting position.

"That’s really sweet of you, Rita, to care so much about me. I’m sorry to have to disappoint you, but I really am Hermione Granger. You just chose the wrong person to mess with and I think you’ve learnt, despite my age, that I should not be underestimated. If I see you again, I hope this won’t be necessary?" I asked honestly, motioning to the jar and the ropes, wondering if she had learned her lesson.

"No, no! This can’t be happening! You must be lying, it can’t be!" She continued incredulously, and seemed really shocked.

"Rita, calm down, it's really not that big of a deal. You wanted to fool us, or me, and you got caught in your own trap. It's not that bad, if you just do what I tell you, you have nothing to fear from me!" I said, trying to cheer her up.

"But if you even think about doing something foolish, Rita, well, then no one can help you, but I hope you’re not that stupid," I added in a low, threatening tone, and sat waiting for her.

"... do your friends, ... Potter and the others, do they know what you’re doing?" Miss Skeeter asked in an accusatory tone, trying to get back in the game.

"I don't think that’s any concern of yours, Rita, but no, they don't. We wouldn’t want to spoil the good impression I’ve made, do we?" I looked threateningly into her eyes as she stared at me incredulously.

"So, now you’ve finally let me finish - do you agree to my terms, Miss Skeeter, yes or no?" I was getting impatient.

"Do I have a choice?", She asked doubtfully, sounding exhausted, letting her head drop to her chin. I raised my eyebrows in surprise.

"Of course, Rita. Azkaban is always open for you, and the people whose secrets you take care of would much prefer you to end up there, I think!"

"Hmph! Very funny, Miss Granger! There's nothing else left for me," Miss Skeeter said, more than reluctantly.

"Thank you for your cooperation, Miss Skeeter. This is the beginning of a beautiful partnership!" I grinned at her cynically, and I raised my wand immediately after her forced "Yes."

Quietly, I cast "Credere tacientiae", which means "linked to secrecy" and wrapped my demands in the spell. Since I really didn’t trust Skeeter, I threw a second spell, the "Conari pactio predere" over her, which should indicate to me if she thought about revealing things that should stay secret. She would not be able to do this because the first spell was too strong and there was no counter-spell, but I wanted to be informed, because then we could have a little talk to remind her of her loyalties.

I had needed her consent for these two spells, which she had just given me - not really voluntarily, but it doesn’t need to be too precise. The charms took hold - I could feel the tense, magical atmosphere in my room, and Rita too, but she was just looking anxiously and exasperatedly around the room, breathing heavily; she didn’t really know what was happening to her, or what the charms did to her. My third spell was a masterpiece I had been working on for two years - only for this I would need blood, so I got up, walked to my wardrobe and pulled out one of the Horus daggers. I turned to Miss Skeeter, with the blade raised. She instantly let out a shrill, frightened scream, even though, so far, she had allowed me to cast my spells over her. But now life came into her, she tried to crawl away, even with her tied body, over the bed to get to safety. I rolled my eyes, slightly annoyed, because I’d made it clear I had need of her, so I wouldn’t now throw myself at her and stab her - what was this brainless insect thinking?

"Rita, that's ridiculous!" I said vehemently, put my fists on my hips, and tapped my foot several times with annoyance. Fortunately, she stopped at once and looked at me with suspicious, terrified eyes. I approached her, cutting my left hand, which made Skeeter wince and let my right eyebrow lift, then pointed the dagger at her, and pulled her left wrist, which was tightly tied at her waist, ruthlessly.

"Doesn’t hurt very much and I’ll be very fast," I promised her, but her eyes swam in tears again. A jerk, and the inside of her hand was graced with a red, bloody, but shallow, line. I took her bleeding hand in mine, as if I were to shake her hand to get our blood mixed. Next, I directed my wand to our connected hands and recited "Impetus impedive," which means something like ‘preventing attack and ensuring loyalty’. I had to protect myself; if she tried to hurt me in any way or attack me directly, the curse would stop her before she could get close, and send her into a coma from which only I would be able to save her.

This spell worked with the Conari pactio predere, which would allow me to know about Skeeter’s silly ideas, and the curse would prevent them from being acted upon. As the curse took hold, white, twisting smoke crept around our hands and sealed the unbreakable bond between Rita and me. She sucked in air through her clenched teeth, and I had to bite my cheek, as the dark magic demanded some effort from me. This spell was not an ordinary one and it wasn’t so easy to work. This was difficult, very dark magic that was truly binding, so I had to fight hard and steel my will until the smoke shone silver before finally dissolving, and both Rita and I let out relieved breaths.

Well, I've had some awesome moments, but I was very pleased that the self-developed spells had worked, because the hours, days and months of work had not been in vain. Even though I was tired, and wiped my eyes, I was curious how these hexes were going to work out, after all, today was only the first day, but Skeeter, I think, was really close to doubting her sanity. She looked at me with wide eyes, where disbelief, fear, and misunderstanding could all be seen plainly. I healed our hands with an episkey and stepped back from the bed, but then I could feel my own fatigue, which was even worse than I had thought. Still, good to know that I really was as talented and powerful in magic as I thought, even for my young years.

"Rita, I’m going to tell you what these spells are for so you don’t do anything stupid. Then I'll break the ropes." I said in a soothing tone, waiting for a sign that she was able to pick up again, and I took advantage of the time to catch myself and get it done quickly. She closed her eyes and shook her head as if she were shaking off flies, but then she raised her chin, looked at me with clear eyes, and nodded, apparently accepting that these spells were now on her.

"So you know, the first spell binds you to secrecy, about me, especially your animagus form, to your revelation book, and so on - you can not talk to anyone, understood, Miss Skeeter?" I demanded a reaction, somewhat impatiently. Rita just nodded at me.

"The second spell informs me immediately, should you even think about trying to break our agreement, so that I can remind you of your commitment to me, Miss Skeeter?" I wanted to calmly get a renewed confirmation from her. Rita pinched her lips into a narrow, reluctant line, but abruptly nodded.

"Spell number three will prevent you trying to harm me, whether directly or indirectly, by putting you in a coma just before your attempt, and only I will be able to wake you out of this coma!" I coldly continued to explain. Rita looked at me completely destroyed.

"Well, Miss Skeeter, I'm known for thinking of everything, and I think I've managed to assure your loyalty with these three spells!" I winked at her mischievously.

"You can try to break the curses. But I promise you, you won’t be able to. I invented them and developed them, and the third especially is unbreakable because of our blood. You should not waste your time, but it's your decision, Miss Skeeter!" I looked at her, warningly.

"So, since we've cleared this up ..." I swung my wand with these words, loosening the ropes: "... you are free again," I declare. The reporter hurried to sit up and began to rub herself with her hands over her arms and shoulders, as if she were too cold despite the summer temperatures.

"You are serious about what you said, aren't you Miss Granger?" She asked tonelessly.

"Absolutely!" Was my dry answer.

"I ... understand ... the last spell would really send me into a coma, if I set my wand on you now?" She asked, almost whispering. "I've never heard of such a spell!" She exclaimed breathily, squeezing her own throat.

"I promise you I have not lied to you, Miss Skeeter. Please stick to the rules and nothing will happen to you. I’m not asking for the impossible!" I tried to make it clear for her in a haughty and clever way.

"Yeah, that's…, I guess I can leave now," she span around aimlessly and seemed very confused, almost completely overwhelmed, by her new circumstances.

"Um, just so you don't forget: Tomorrow you start work again. You have to report to me about the 15th of each month, but earlier if there is going to be an article about Harry or Voldemort, and if you start a second revelation book. If you're unsure about something, contact me with an owl, Miss Skeeter!"

I sounded snappy, but I could feel the tiredness in every fibre of my body, and I did not want to show any weakness in front of Rita.

"Yes, of course, as you wish. I'll stick to it, of course, Miss Granger!" She nodded like one of those Muggle dog toys with bouncy heads. The woman was completely out of it. "Apparate from here," I told her, and she left immediately with a loud bang.

One thing ticked off my list. I really seemed to have shaken Miss Skeeter. Was I really that bad? No, I had been fair, even nice to her, considering the circumstances. A look at the clock was enough to tell me that I had to hurry, I wanted to arrive at my training in time and I wasn’t sure I could make it in this condition

I grabbed an energizing potion, but even that only made me feel slightly better - those spells were tough!
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