Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Crumbling Pedestal :: 27 :: Bad Faith

27 • Bad Faith

Heru made sure that Mark would safely be off with friends on the day Lucius was to arrive. He and his mate were sitting in Severus’s office engaged in an idle discussion of the most recent issue of Potions Advancements when the time came and a knock sounded at the open door. Lucius strolled through a moment later, his white-blond hair loose down his back in sharp contrast to the deep black of his cloak.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” he said, coming to a stop a few steps into the room.

“Lucius.”

“Mr Malfoy. Would you care for some refreshment?” asked Heru, slipping off the edge of the desk.

“Very kind of you. Perhaps some tea.” Lucius stripped off his gloves and tucked them into his pocket.

Heru summoned a house-elf. “Would you be so kind as to prepare a tea tray for three?”

“Of course, sir. Krell is being right back with sir’s tea.” After a quick look at Lucius, the elf popped out.

Heru arranged a chair for himself so that it was angled, then gestured to the other for Lucius to sit in. Severus was already seated behind his desk. Heru sat down, then helped himself to a cup of tea after Krell popped back in a moment later and he had thanked the elf.

“Let me explain a few things about these tapestries, if I may,” began Heru, continuing at a nod from Lucius. “The price is somewhat negotiable depending on the client, though I never go above five hundred galleons. I fear anything more would be wretched excess on my part.” He paused to smile and take a sip from his cup. “The actual creation process spans seven days at which point, as I believe I mentioned, I store it until it can be picked up. After completion it will begin to update itself on a daily basis until the construct can no longer determine the proper connections.”

“What, exactly, do you require in the way of materials?”

“Aside from a huge quantity of silk thread, which is no trouble for me to obtain, each tapestry requires fourteen vials of blood from the intended owner. I can process two per day, each taking two hours to incorporate into the weave,” Heru explained untruthfully.

“This is blood magic.”

“Of course.” Heru tilted his head to the side and looked at Lucius curiously. “That is not an issue for you, is it?” And if it is, I’ll eat my dressing gown.

“Indeed not,” replied Lucius smoothly. “I had not thought to encounter anyone brave enough to practice such magic in today’s current climate.”

Heru let out a soft laugh and said, “Brave? I’m afraid I don’t pay a lot of attention to what fools think, Mr Malfoy, so I’m sure you’ll understand as a fellow man of the world that such petty distinctions as blood magic—even the most harmless of it—being classified as dark or illegal are not something I bother myself with.”

A faint smile turned up the corners of Lucius’s mouth. “Do call me Lucius,” he said.

“Of course, but only if you will call me Heru. I would be glad to dispense with what can be, at times, somewhat tedious formality.”

“You said fourteen vials—how large might those be?”

“Severus?” Heru turned and accepted a vial, then held it up. “Nothing much. Number tens, actually. If you decide to go ahead with this, the blood could be drawn and I could begin today.” He placed the vial on the desk and smiled again.

“I don’t see why not. I am here already, after all, and find myself quite curious as to the results.”

“Then let us begin.”

While the vials were being filled—in a room they had set aside for the project—Lucius asked, “Would it be troublesome if I were to watch for a few minutes while you begin work?”

“No, not at all. I’m not sure how interesting it would be, but you’re welcome to see how it starts out if you can spare the time, Lucius,” Heru assured him. Given that most of the work was only visible to someone with Heru’s particular type of Sight, he wasn’t the least bit worried that Lucius would have any clue what he was doing aside from using magic to weave the strands. The only difference from his normal routine would be the appearance of using his wand and his speed. “I doubt I will hear you if you speak to me, though.”

“I would not recommend watching for long,” interjected Severus as he prepared to fill another vial. “It becomes either tediously boring or hypnotically entrancing.”

“You’ve seen Heru at work on one, then?”

“Assuredly. And just as assuredly I would end up marking papers or reading.”

“Forgive me for not asking sooner, Heru. I trust your son is well?”

Heru looked up from laying out strands of silk and said, “He is, and I thank you for asking. Your Draco seems to be in fine health, though of course I only see him at meals, and sometimes during days I take Defense.”

“Draco tells me he’s often spotted your son at the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor tables during meals.”

“Mm. He likes to play chess.”

If Lucius thought that was an odd answer, he did not comment.

“That’s the last of them,” said Severus, clearing away his equipment. Two of the vials were placed on the table Heru was using and the rest went into a padded box with angled inserts. That was stored in a cabinet under the table. Heru took one of the vials and secured it in a loop on the front of his robes.

Then, leaving only a small percentage of his attention on Severus and Lucius—enough so that he could hear and comprehend anything they said—Heru opened the second vial and began to work, remembering to pull his wand out from behind his ear before beginning. Strands of silk began to slowly pull together, forming a tiny square at one corner of the large table.

“I cannot hear him incanting,” said Lucius quietly.

“You won’t,” Severus replied. “But you can see that he is. I don’t recommend getting close enough to hear it, though. He tends to be very unpleasant when interrupted.”

“Speaking from personal experience, Severus?”

“I have seen what happens when he becomes vexed, Lucius.”

“And just how did you come to meet him? The texts he authored?”

“Naturally. He sent first runs of the then completed texts for our consideration. When we realized the quality of the work, he was invited for a meeting to discuss them. As he was able to promise the completion of the entire set plus the compendium in time for the following year, we decided to go ahead with them.”

“We?”

“You do not actually think Dumbledore would leave the decision entirely in my hands, Lucius.”

“I suppose not. Dumbledore is far too suspicious of anything connected to Slytherin to not have the final word, which makes me curious as to why he agreed to meet with Heru in the first place.”

“To ascertain the potential threat? To assure the claim to such a prestigious and honorable name? Or maybe he’s just a doddering old fool who wished to find a new person to urge his never-ending supply of sherbet lemons on who would not be expecting the assault.”

Lucius chuckled. “I see your point. What exactly is the blood used for, then? I see nothing more happening than weaving.”

“Were you to wait long enough, you would no doubt notice the amount in the vial steadily decreases as he weaves. In fact, if you look closely enough, you will see it has already decreased a minute portion.”

“Ah, indeed you are correct. He appears to have a rather unusual wand.”

“I’m sure he is an unusual person.”

“And his son? The boy appears to be quite seemly, despite his distressing tendency to sit at the Gryffindor table on occasion.”

“The boy likes to play chess almost as much as he adores Potions. Despite being as hampered here by the general reputation of Slytherin as any of us, he has managed to find a few unlikely partners. I presume that Heru says nothing so as not to appear other than neutral.”

“I’m surprised you do not play the boy yourself, Severus.”

“I do. It is one way to teach the young strategy.”

“And his name?” Heru absently noted a hint of an edge to Lucius’s voice.

“I assumed you already knew, Lucius. It is Marcus.”

“His mother?”

“Deceased,” said Severus flatly.

“I see. How unfortunate. I don’t suppose you happen to know why Dolores Umbridge is so fond of Heru?”

Severus let out a snort of mirthless laughter. “Because she is an easily charmed toad of a woman. While I was contemplating dissecting her, Heru was busy flashing his dazzling smile and making her coo and bask in his perceived warmth. She fell for it hook, line, and sinker. She wouldn’t hear another word against him after that, and went off crusading against others.”

Lucius chuckled and said, “Quite cunning. Well, I do believe I’ve seen enough for one day. I shall check up on Draco and return when the tapestry is complete. Please give Heru my regards, Severus.”

A moment later Heru could hear the door opening and closing. When Severus confirmed that Lucius had gone, Heru spared a second to sigh in relief, then tucked his wand behind his ear and continued his work at a normal pace, rather than the half speed he had been progressing at.

*

An unanticipated result of the encounter was an accusation on the part of Moody and Sirius as to Heru’s dangerous and illegal activities within the very walls of Hogwarts. Albus gave them a brief explanation of the situation and reminded them of the exchange of letters, assured them that he was fully aware of the singular application of blood magic that Heru employed, and essentially told them to let it rest. While it did nothing for Heru’s reputation with those two men, it didn’t exactly damage it, either, as both were inclined to believe the worst of him already. The only thing that upset Heru specifically was that he had not thought about the fact that one of them would be watching.

Lucius arrived on Saturday morning after the breakfast hour a week later to pick up the completed tapestry. He was led to the same room by Heru and Severus and ushered in after Heru hissed the Parseltongue password. Inside, Heru pulled a huge roll of woven silk from a stand along one wall, revealing that it had been edged with a darker border and a wooden pole run through a pocket at the top for hanging.

He placed it into hooks on the wall and pulled the ties to let it unroll so that Lucius could see it, and so that he could explain how it functioned.

“As you can see, not very much has filled in since I finished it last evening, but that will change every day. In any case, I need to explain how this works. If you touch a name, it will come to the forefront. The only point of that is if you have poor vision.” Heru shrugged. “However, if you touch a portion that is blank and glide your finger in any direction, the focus will change, like so. . . .”

He demonstrated, even though there were so few names showing that very little changed. “Obviously, this will be more applicable as time goes by. When it stops updating—I’d say about ten days to a fortnight—you can bring it back to me if you’d like it to be reversed.”

“Reversed?”

“Yes. As you can see here, neither your wife nor son are listed. If the tapestry’s function were reversed, they would both appear, as would any new children you had. From there it would continue downward, updating to include your son’s marriage and issue, and so on. It is up to you if that is done, and it’s already included in the price.”

“How many of these have you completed?”

Heru produced a quirky little smile. “I prefer not to say. My clients generally do not share their treasures with others, and I work on a somewhat selective basis, as I’m sure you can understand.”

“Of course. I shall probably see you in several weeks, then, for I believe I would wish the reversal.” Lucius reached into his cloak while Heru took care of re-rolling the tapestry and securing the ties. After he had slipped it into a waterproof case and turned back to Lucius, he was presented with a slip of ornately decorated parchment.

They exchanged the two, and Heru glanced at the parchment long enough to see that it was a bank draft from Gringotts for five hundred galleons. They shook hands, and Lucius took his leave.

Heru turned to Severus and said, “What the hell do I do with this? Open a vault?”

Severus smirked. “What the hell did you expect—a bag with coins in it? Can you just imagine Lucius Malfoy clinking all the way here? You could donate it to the Order, though I expect you might wish to open a vault anyway, just for the sake of appearance.”

“Honestly.” Heru made strangling motions at Severus, then allowed himself to be prodded back to their quarters by his highly amused mate.

*

Another week had passed, and several developments occurred. An Unspeakable from the list had agreed to a little side work. He had, in some respects, a rather casual sense of ethics. As he was adamantly opposed to Voldemort and saw no particular harm in the substitution, he agreed to switch the prophecy sphere for a fake that Albus had created. The original sphere’s label was placed on the fake, and it received a new one with nonsensical names. Had Albus requested that the original be removed entirely from the Department of Mysteries, then the man would have balked, but the compromise would do.

Heru had tuned a mirror to the man, having been present at the discussion of the specifics—not that the man knew he was there—and they watched as he did exactly as requested with no one else the wiser. The Order decided to go ahead with the rotational watch, simply to show that they had suspicions about Bode’s hospitalization, and that they suspected the sphere was in danger. Each person on the duty roster was warned again that they should not interfere in any way if Voldemort himself should appear to go after it, unless their own life were in danger. They merely needed to report incursions.

And, Lucius had taken his partially filled tapestry to Voldemort.

“Lucius.”

“My lord, I bring you the tapestry that Slytherin created,” Lucius said after he conjured up two hooks and stuck them to the wall so he could display it. “It has perhaps another week to go before it stops updating, or so he tells me.”

“And how is it created?”

“That is the interesting part, my lord. This is created through blood magic.”

Voldemort arched a brow.

“When I delicately questioned that, he laughed it off. He said he doesn’t pay attention to fools who dismiss blood magic as being dark or illegal, my lord. And when I asked if I could watch him begin, he had no issue with that, so I stayed to watch him work for a while and spoke with Severus.”

“How very interesting.” Voldemort bestowed a smile on Lucius before asking, “What did our dear Severus have to say?”

“To start, my lord, while I could see Slytherin working on the tapestry, and even eventually see that the blood was being incorporated into it, I could not hear anything of what he was incanting. Severus says that is usual, and that it is unwise for anyone to interrupt the man. Apparently he has quite a temper when provoked. They met because of the potions texts the man authored, when he was invited up to the castle—Severus was not allowed to make the decision on his own. Dumbledore wanted to vet the man himself before he’d permit it. Severus seemed as derogatory as usual about the headmaster.”

Lucius paused to collect his thoughts and continued, “He has a very unusual wand, my lord. Two different types of wood, though I could not get close enough once he began using it to determine which. The boy, his son, is called Marcus, and appears to have found partners in both Ravenclaw and Gryffindor for chess games. Severus’s comments on that indicated that Slytherin preferred to say nothing so as to appear neutral. The mother is dead, unknown causes. And, according to Severus, the Umbridge woman is fond of Slytherin simply because he set out to charm her and succeeded.”

“How does this tapestry function?”

Lucius gave a quick demonstration, then said, “I will bring it back in a week to have it reversed. It will then update to include Narcissa and Draco, and continue down from there as things change.”

“It appears that Slytherin is not so neutral as he appears on paper, Lucius. How did he strike you?”

“On our first encounter, quite guarded, my lord. But these past two times he was relaxed and quite charming. I had no sense of deception while conversing with him, though I admit I do not share your talent at such. Even Severus seemed more relaxed. Well, as much as he ever has been.” Lucius frowned slightly. “Slytherin seemed quite at ease around me.”

Voldemort smirked at that. “What did you need to provide for the tapestry?”

“Severus took fourteen number ten size vials of blood, my lord. The cost was five hundred galleons. I should mention that he claims not to look at the tapestries once completed. They are stored until they are picked up, at which point he explains the usage. When he explained it to me, he appeared to be totally uninterested in what was displayed.”

Voldemort nodded. “Very well. You have a week before you return. Send him another letter. This time ask if he is willing to take on another commission without knowing who the recipient is. You will provide the vials if he agrees on the day you have your own—reversed, did you call it?”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Fine. See to it. I will have my proof.”

Heru considered dancing around after Lucius left and things quickly became boring to watch, but restrained himself. He was mildly surprised that either of them had agreed to having a tapestry made considering what interesting things could be done with a person’s blood. Granted, Lucius had been ordered to do it, but apparently the things Heru had said had paved the way for his own personal goal to be realized.

*

“Today we’ll be going over psychometry. This is one of the odder abilities that falls under the umbrella of divination. Even someone with true sight may not be able to get anywhere with this method. Odds are, if you can, you’re already aware of it. In converse, a person may have this ability, but not be able to get anywhere with any other method. It depends.”

Heru sat on the edge of his desk and crossed his ankles. “In brief, psychometry is getting impressions from an object, usually something small like a ring or a watch, though plenty of things apply. Impressions can come in the form of images, emotions, or even one of your senses like sound, taste, or smell. I have here a box of items—I’m going to pass it around and I want each group to take one thing.”

Heru twisted enough to pick up a small box, then said, “Each of you will hold the item and write down your impressions, if any, then let your partner do the same. When you’re both done, set the object at the front and I’ll come talk to you.” He hopped off the desk and handed the box to Neville, and collected it back a few minutes later from the last group. Heru only had rudimentary skill at psychometry, but he knew the history of each item well enough to know what to expect for impressions should anyone be gifted.

Most of the students came up blank. The only person who seemed to have the ability was Lavender Brown, who wore a rather smug little smile on her face as Heru approached her and Parvati. They had chosen a quill from the box. Seeing that Parvati had written down nothing, Heru said, “All right, Miss Brown, what did you sense?”

“I saw a man, dark haired, pale, sitting at a desk using the quill. I couldn’t really see his face that well, though.”

“Anything else?”

“Sadness, I think. It was very faint, sir.”

Heru nodded. Considering that the quill had belonged to Salazar, he suspected that she had sensed things accurately, if vaguely. “Very good. I encourage you to spend some time each day handling objects—with permission, of course—to see what impressions you can get. The more you use this ability, the stronger and more accurate it may become. Though, not everything will give you a reaction, keep that in mind.”

“All right, professor.”

Heru collected the quill from her and placed the box back on his desk. “Since we have some time left today, I’ll review mirror and crystal scrying, and we can give that a try next class.” He sat down again and leaned back on his arms. “For mirrors, it is preferable to use round or oval for shape, with a silver frame. Obsidian is the material of choice, though a normal mirror can be used, or glass that has been painted black on one side instead of the normal silvering process.”

“The mirror should be laid flat,” he continued, “with you gazing at an angle so that you are not reflected. The same tends to hold true for water, by the way. If you are successful, you’ll probably first notice that the mirror, or its depths, appears to turn grey or that colours will come and go. Visions can appear either within the glass or around or outside of it, and may come in the form of still or moving images. Rather like the difference between muggle photographs and wizarding ones.”

Heru slipped off the desk and paced lightly back and forth. “You can see the past and future this way, depending on your ability. How far in either direction depends on the strength of your talent. Crystal scrying is similar, and best done in a near dark room so that nothing reflects. You want to gaze into the center of the sphere, not the surface. . . .”