evilgoddss: (Harry Potter)
[personal profile] evilgoddss
It was a case of happy neighbors after that at Knockturn II -- err, Little Whinging. But that seems obvious doesn’t it? I mean, who was going to piss off a powerful three-thousand year old, tutored by the devil, lich? No one -- weeeeeell, there was a few small incidents at first. The... uh... vampires took exception to Potters relatives a few years back, and they would have killed them, but the lich got involved. Apparently, that’s when he became magical guardian to Potter. For the record, his relatives really didn’t like them, the vampires, I mean, and were antagonizing some of the vampires – something about their gardens being unnatural. I don’t get it. I mean, I’ve seen the nightblooms vampires use in the gardens, they are breathtaking, which is probably why they use them. Bottom line, though, vandalizing a vampire's garden is never a good idea, muggle or no.” Nott paused. “I digress, and I know you don’t like that. So, after the lich moved in, it was about this time that all the rest of the muggles, excluding Potters relatives, completely moved out. - T. Nott, No Competition part one

Knockturn II: The Muggle Exodus

Harry James Potter jumped off the last step of the bus and raced up the front walk to Aunt Ally’s door. He paused, in his run, to politely knock on the door, but vibrated where he stood until Uncle Jasper answered.

“You’re late, pup.” His pseudo-uncle smirked at him. “The pizza’s all gone.”

Harry feigned a scowl, “No it’s not! Auntie Ally would never allow you to eat my pizza!” He sternly informed the older man.

“Sure she would.” Jasper grinned shamelessly. “Auntie Ally loves me to bits and pieces. She only loves you to bits.”

“And I’ll rip you into pieces if you don’t stop hazing Harry. Come in, sweetheart. I have the pizza here, and a chocolate ice-cream cake magically appeared in my freezer just a little while ago. You need to investigate it!” Ally called out from the kitchen.

“Told ya.” The eight year old grinned impishly, scooting around Jasper.

Jasper hung his head, woebegone. Such was his lot in life. To be undone by an eight year old, and henpecked by his wife. He toddled behind the child, unsurprised to see Harry deep into the ice-cream cake, the pizza waiting to the side. “We’re doing this backwards,” he declared after a moment’s consideration. “The reward is supposed to follow the good report. So, hand it over.”

Harry giggled, but dutifully dropped his spoon, and went digging into his backpack which he’d carelessly slung on the floor. A few seconds later, his mid-term report was on the table.

Ally smoothed the slightly crumpled document out, and Jasper made a show of putting on fake spectacles before they both sat down to scrutinize the document. “Well, O’s for his maths and sciences.” Ally noted. “And is English and languages is good. Although, I see his art score is quite a bit poorer.”

“Mr. Fletcher says I’m too macabre.” Harry informed her, swallowing down a big lump of chocolate ice-cream. “He didn’t like my portrait of Jasper with his werewolf form superimposed, and Mrs. Michaelson said my story about the vampire coven had nothing to do with the concept of family.” The child huffed. “I think Mr. Fletcher is just jealous, cause he’s losing all his hair, and getting a real big belly, and Mrs. Michaelson’s upset because her husband ran off with his secretary; it’s clear that vampires stay with their sire, and their families are eternal. And since none of werewolves or vampires are fat, and they all have hair…. well except Phineas, but I think he shaves his head on purpose.”

Jasper’s nose twitched, but he firmly pressed his lips together, and did not laugh. He was very proud of that accomplishment; the child’s indignation was just too funny. Laughing, however, would earn him a clip of Ally’s rolling pin.

“Well, fortunately that’s just one story judged by someone who clearly can't rationalize symbolism, and as for your art class… who cares.” Ally brushed that off with aplomb, running a hand through the unruly hair of the child. “No artist is truly famous unless they are dead, so it scarcely matters while you’re alive.”

Jasper shook his head, still silently laughing. Ally’s prejudice against art class was a phenom in her family. She was such a practical woman, with the only exception to that being her outerwear. She had to have the perfect compilation of coat, scarf, gloves (if weather called for, or event required), hat and bag for every outing. If that wasn’t some sort of art, Jasper didn’t know quite what to call it other than insane.

But Harry -- eight years old now, and that lad was nothing like the shade he had been at age four, to everyone’s -- save the Dursleys – joy. Much of that, Jasper felt, was a kudo to both himself and Ally. And, yes, the rest of the pack. And Prudence, he supposed. And, a little bit due to Judas, oh, and the Lich. But, mostly he and Ally.

Regardless of where credit was due, where once there had been a very thin, underfed, under-loved child who took such comfort just from sparse crumbs of kindness, now there was a healthy, growing child full of joy and eagerness to learn about his world, who gave as much as he received in terms of love.

“Well.” Jasper cleared his throat. “I suppose a star needs to go on the chart, then. First quarter done, and you’re on your way to a new bike next summer.”

Harry grinned, jumping off his seat and racing to the fridge, where Ally met him and handed him the gold star sticker. He affixed in under the “GOAL – BIKE” chart in the first square, beside the existing black star which represented his magical studies. There were three more empty squares to fill – the next being for his winter report, then his spring mid-term, and the last for his final marks for the year. If he maintained passing grades, and his magical tutors gave him a pass, the reward was a new BMX bike. “YAY!” The eight year old did a small victory dance.

Ally laughed, dropping down to hug him. “Yay indeed! Go on, have your cake. I’ll warm your pizza back up shortly.”

“Cool!” The lad scrambled back to his melting ice-cream cake.

It had been quite a tumultuous couple of years, Jasper reflected, as he took a seat beside Harry, ruefully noting that the tiny little boy he’d met four years ago was now a tall thin lad, nearly fifty-four inches tall, with good color on his cheeks, a healthy appetite, and a ready smile. Yes, life had improved dramatically for Harry since that first night he, as a werewolf, had stumbled upon the freezing tot trapped outside in the cold. It had made leaps and bounds in the years that followed.

The community itself, Jasper mused as Ally set a slice of cake in front of him, had also changed in leaps and bounds. It had been funny to walk about the town after the Lich had moved in. Realtor signs had sprung up all over the place almost overnight, and the only houses that had gone up for sale since then had been muggle ones.

The flurry of incoming dark creatures to the community, and stream of outgoing muggles had been something of a whirlwind. It had settled down, now. But, the population was such now that a vampire was mayor for the town, and a incubi was serving as deputy mayor. It certainly made the inauguration party entertaining and just a sliver towards disastrous; unsurprising with an incubi in a position of authority. Jasper had kept a firm hold on Ally all through the night. As it was, the influence of the incubi on the female population was such that the former mayor’s wife had started as strip tease in honor of the newly elected deputy mayor. Mercifully, every male kept in mind that their favorite wee Dark Lord was running about the party, and there were something’s that no child of his tender years was meant yet to experience.

“…and Mud says I can start carving the bridging runes now.” The shining star of Little Whinging was saying. He was blossoming greatly in his magical knowledge, as a result of several private tutors, not the least being the Lich, and Prudence. The Lich was teaching the lad runic magic, and magical theory; and Prudence was teaching him potions and how to bake the most awesome brownies ever.

“Mud?” Jasper broke from his musings, the name finally catching up with his brain. “Who’s Mud?”

Two pairs of eyes, one pair hazel the other a vibrant green, stared at him in clear consternation. And that set off a red flag in his mind. “Uh.” Harry hemmed.

Ally tried for innocent nonchalance. She’d have had a better shot selling innocence to a unicorn, given that expression on her face. He just knew his wife too well for it to get past him. “Allison Dorea.” He said firmly.

“Oh, bugger – that wasn’t supposed to get out. We learned by accident, Jasper, and promised to tell no one. He’ll be so cross!” His wife said, picking up Harry’s finished plate, and turning towards the sink, thereby hiding her face by showing only her back.

“He’ll be fine. It’s Harry who let the cat out of the bag. Who is Mud?” Jasper repeated, he rose to his feet and took position beside her, watching her closely as she made far more production out of cleaning a fork than needed done. She did skittish so obviously, it was no wonder his curiosity wouldn’t abate.

Oh, he knew his wife wouldn’t cheat on him. That was something he never worried about. But, Ally had a disturbing propensity to be the first to run into the dark creatures that gravitated to Little Whinging. It was Jasper’s secret terror that one day his wife would stumble upon a dark creature that wouldn’t see her naiveté as charming and sweet, or realize she fell under a young dark lord’s protection as his surrogate parent.

“We wouldn’t have known were it not for the goblins… surly little buggers, aren’t they?” She tried to divert him But, Jasper was werewolf to the core, and was quite good at being a wolf with a juicy bit of bone.

“Who. Is. Mud?” He repeated, nearly glaring at his wife.

“The real name of one of our neighbors.” She prevaricated desperately. “You like him heaps more than you like Judas. Who, by the way, is quite charming and incredibly elegant. I don’t know why you insist on hiding behind me when he’s about.”

‘Charming and elegant, my merry ass!’ Jasper scoffed silently, then shuddered. He strongly suspected that his ass was precisely what Judas was after – hence why he hid behind his wife’s far more beautiful form. After three years, seven months, and eight days of Judas making passes and being rebut, one would have thought he’d back down. But that vampire seriously didn’t understand the word no.

It would take a Harry intervention to make the Damned find a new target. And, as desperate as Jasper was for Judas to just give up, he wasn’t quite ready to explain the situation to Harry, and beg for the child to put an end to it.

And saying he liked someone heaps more of Judas was damnable praise. He didn’t like Judas at all. Sighing silently, Jasper mentally ran through his neighbors, on both sides of the street. Phin, Saulter, the Hickory’s, Dursleys, the Lich…oh, hold up. No. Way! “The Lich’s real name is Mud?” He asked incredulously.

“Well, small wonder why he prefers to be known as the Lich.” Ally muttered, red-cheeked in embarrassment to have given the secret away.


“He said it was a long time ago, and had a very prestigious meaning in the language of his people.” Harry piped up, mid-slice of his pizza. The bliss on the kid’s face was amusing. “Kinda like ancient Egyptian, and hieroglyphics, and the names of Pharaohs.”

“MUD?” Jasper just couldn’t fathom. Were it him, the moment there had been a government of law established, he would have legally changed his name.

“It’s the nearest approximation to his birth name.” Ally said primly. “Not literally M-U-D. The cuneiform evolved after he was named -- see, it was a pre-written society -- so his name was difficult to shift to cuneiform, and then when you convert to modern English, it just doesn’t translate well, you see. And, Jasper – you’d do well to forget that name. I mean, do you really want the Lich to come down on you if you mock him? He might transfigure you into a small rat, and set the neighborhood cats on you.”

Oh, Jasper saw plenty, he just didn’t care. ‘I wonder if Judas knows.’ He’d have to ask, as long as Ally and Harry were in the room with him when he did, this might be enough dirt to get the vampire off his back. At least for a month.

“And really, had the Goblins not insisted on his true name be on the legal statement of work between he and they, we’d never have learned it.” Ally finished babbling whatever it was she’d been saying that he’d long since tuned out.

Wait? Statement of WORK with the Goblins? A contract? Jasper narrowed his eyes. “Mud hired the Goblins to do some work on his place?”

“They had to quote on the job, first.” Harry piped up, in the middle of a slice of pepperoni pizza. “Mud wants the goblins to dig out the basement of Mud’s house, expanding the foundation. He said Goblins are the best tunnel diggers. He’s building a ritual room under his back-yard that will link to the gate structure in the yard, and a tunnel to the Dursleys house.” The lad supplied helpfully. “Mud says I can watch the Goblins do their work, cause it’s really delicate, and complicated. Ritual room can’t have any space enlargement runes, the entire space has to be done with tools, not magic, but the TOOLS can be magical. The Goblins said I can ask questions during the process, and maybe do some of the enchantments consecrating the ritual space. It’s so cool!”

Jasper grunted. The Lich was a terrifying creature, for certain, but he was a damned fine educator in spite of that. The quality of education Harry was receiving in magical theory put to shame anything Jasper or his more acceptable brothers had been taught. In fact, Jasper was rather hesitant to suggest Harry go to Hogwarts after realizing just the breadth of education gap between what witches and wizards of England learned, and what was being taught in other academies in the world.

He still wasn’t keen on sending the pup to Scholomance. But, none of that was relevant right now. In fact, Scholomance was really a distant side issue. What was more important was that the Lich was hiring for construction work to be done by the goblins, instead of the werewolves of Howl Construction. How was that for solidarity? How was that for supporting Harry – all that was doing was bringing yet another species into Little Whinging, and as equal opportunity as Jasper was, eventually the magical governments were going to cotton on and try to claim Little Whinging as a district of magical Britain, which would see all the wolves kicked out of their homes. It was a dangerous Catch-22, but more importantly, the Lich was getting Howl Constructions competition to do the job! He didn’t even let Jasper quote on it!

“He never asked Howl Construction to quote.” Jasper growled lowly, just so Harry could understand why this made him irate. Always keep the dark lord, (even if he was just a kid) on your side. “The bleeding traitor.” He abandoned the remains of his ice-cream cake and made for the front door, suddenly so incredibly irate at the thought of the Lich going outside of the community for help renovating his home. He needed to have a stern word with ‘Mud’ about this failure. The Bastard! Whoever said dark creatures made good neighbors was on crack.

He stormed through the front of his own house, stomped along the side-walk, and scowled his way up the drive of the Lich’s house. The house formerly occupied by the Millers. The poor bunnies that had so enjoyed Mrs. Miller’s garden had been unduly traumatized the very day the Lich had moved in, and the Millers – as well as the bunnies -- had vanished. The garden had been completely dug up, and a strange arched monolith had been set up in its place; a gruesome piece of art made of volcanic rock and granite. Even after two years, Jasper still had no understanding of what the hideous thing was for.

“MUD!” He roared, banging on the door. “Open this damn door, you prehistoric goddamn boneyard!” It wasn’t like the Lich hadn’t known he was coming, or that he couldn’t kick his ass. Well, in truth, he probably couldn’t kick Jasper’s ass, but that was only because it would irritate Harry and upset Ally. His life, devolved to existing at the whim of the two most important people in it. And pureblood wizards thought the male was the head of the household. HA!

But a werewolf’s temper tantrum deserved some minor indulgence, even if by a Merlin-only-knew how old eternal sorcerer. The bastard probably knew he was at his doorstep, and was laughing his ass off at him.

The jerk!

The door creaked open on its own. Jasper stepped inside and gaped. Two years, the Lich had lived in Little Whinging (most of the time), and in all that time, Jasper had never been into what had once been a house the mirror image to his own. The interior had been gutted, fluted pillars of marble rising at critical structure points to support the roof. Somehow, the roof had been lifted, to form vaults with gold forming to the shape, and gold leaf pattern on a white patina filing between the ‘lines’. It was terribly impressive, paired with heavy gold candle-lit chandeliers that dropped from the cross-sections of the ceiling. Six of them. Merlin, if one of them fell and landed on a man, they’d be crushed.

The floor was all marble, white tile on the outer edges, and a man-made tile of gold geodesic patterning forming a ‘carpet’ down the centre of the house. Either way, the floor was so glossy Jasper knew that anyone who tried to run on the floor would end up flat on their face with a very broken nose.

The interior side walls were tall, thanks to the change to the roof-line, a change not reflected outside, and here too gold was a heavy element of decor against a white back-drop. But, it was ornate, not at all gaudy, elegant and visually powerful. At the back, behind two imposing columns was a dark wine wall, with a white canopy spreading out from a central point to frame an imposing throne made of black stone and gold.

Of course the damn creature would have a throne. Jasper wondered if Harry had ever been allowed to sit in it. Probably. The magical creatures of Little Whinging catered to the good-natured lad something fierce.

He passed through what should have been the living room, and cringed at the sound of his sneakers squeaking on the tile. “LICH?” He shouted, seeing no signs of life. Or unlife, such as it were. “Where are you?”

The being known to most as The Lich seemed to emerge from shadows at the back of the throne. “What did you call me?” It hissed, rising to its full height to loom.

Jasper scowled, unimpressed by the Lich’s stature. Time had evolved man’s height from the past, and usually, modern day wizards were somewhat taller than most muggles. That said, the Lich’s stature had him at sixty-five inches, in ancient times, he was a giant to most,but as centuries had rolled on, that had faded. He was somewhat short, by modern standards, but still imposing given the fleshless look of the creature. Jasper who was broad shoulders stood much taller at seventy-five inches. “You’re bringing Goblins in to do construction?” Jasper spit out, condemnation in his tone. “Werewolves aren’t good enough for you? Can’t lower yourself let a wolf do the digging?”

The Lich’s green gaze, which was nothing more than a demonstration of power as his actual eyes (of unknown colour) had rotted out of his eternal skull likely several millennia ago, shifted to red with temper. “We are discussing two separate things, cur. What did you call me?”

“If you don’t want your name getting out, you shouldn’t have told Harry.” Jasper sniffed haughtily. “Hype the child up sugar with ice-cream cake, and it’s like veritaserum. He literally babbles without a filter.”

The Lich cursed impressively in a long dead language. It took him a good three minutes to finish.

“And you can’t be pissed about it, cause it’s HARRY.”

“Hadrian is young, but not foolish. He knows the power of names.” The Lich summoned his staff, and blasted at a column in temper.

Jasper snorted. “Power, when a name that evolved in a pre-literate era has a slightly off written form, when truthfully only a verbal form due to a dead language, and can’t be properly communicated in modern language? Your true name is lost to time, MUD.” He glowered. “And you call yourself a magical theorist.”

The Lich froze, considered it, and then fixed his pillar. “I had forgotten that.” He mused. And then started cackling. “The contract with the Goblins won’t hold magical weight because of that. HA!”

Jasper growled lowly. “Yes, the contract with the Goblins.”

“Oh, get your tail out of it’s twist, wolf.” The Lich turned and walked back to his throne, dropping into it as if it wasn’t rattling his bones. He waived a skeletal hand in dismissal. “I couldn’t hire your pack of laborers. It’s a magical construct. Had I done so, when the ministry comes sniffing around, they could argue that Howl Construction was a magical business, not properly registered with the Ministry of Magic and in default of the ministry laws regarding hiring of werewolves… I hired the Goblins to protect the wolves of Little Whinging, not because I like the backstabbing little money grubbers.”

Jasper froze. “Oh.” He thought about it, it was true, the pack did work around Little Whinging, but it was straight labor. Installing drywall, building on extensions, pouring concrete -- about the only wand waving that happened was to lighten a load for carrying. But, the British Ministry of Magic did have a tremendous hate on for dark creatures -- and werewolves had been especially hazed by the law. “But, ritual rooms have to be done by hand tools, no magic involved.”

“I am a Lich. A magical creatures. Creating a ritual room. Think about it, wolf.” The Lich said magnanimously. “And consider the inbred bigoted idiots at the British Ministry.”

“Right.” Jasper looked at the ornate roof. “Where did the second floor go?” He asked, before his brain could engage ITS filter. Geez, and he criticised Harry for not having one.

“I vanished it.” The Lich huffed. “Damn roof nearly fell in on me, hence the pillars.”

“Ah.” Jasper shoved hands into his jeans pockets. “Okay. Well. There are new struts you could put into the ceiling that would have taking the weight. And, for the vault, a cross beam should have…”

The Lich’s teeth clenched as he glared.

“I’ll shut up now.”

“No. What you will do is swear upon your magic and hide to never tell another living soul my name.” There was the threat of “or else” silently implied, and Jasper had no problem hearing it.

“But… Harry.”

“Hadrian is a child.”

“Well, yes…”

“I could not force a magical oath on a child. He'd lose his magic by age ten.” The Lich loftily informed him.

Jasper rolled his eyes. “You can’t force Harry to make a magical oath, but would any other magical child, because they don’t matter and serve greater purpose as carrion for birds of prey.”

“Or in Prudence’s oven.” The demon sorcerer agreed.


The Lich handed over a bone-handled athame. “I am what I am. Now, the oath, if you please?”


They crept out early Saturday morning, when few things moved on the streets of Little Whinging. Armed with pruning shears, knives, and a small can of petrol, the trio of boys made their way quietly through the houses of Little Whinging, having a go at destroying the freak gardens that had popped up.

Dudley knew the score. He’d heard his Mum and Dad talk about it enough – werewolves and vampires. Freaks of nature that didn’t belong amongst good God-fearing people. It was the mark of the apocalypse, his Dad said, and Dudley believed him. It was up to them to chase the freaks out, and show they weren’t welcome amongst them.

And so, as good ringleader to his gang of friends, Dudley whipped Piers, who was his best friend, Malcolm and Gordon into his random acts of chaos. He knew who was who. The weird black and purple flower that only bloomed at night, and sealed up tight during the day was the first to meet their knives. Every freak had these plants, so it was easy to find. They cut these ones low, right at the root of the plant. They poured petrol over the weird swaying trees that had branches that looked like fingers, long fingers which drifted down to stroke the ground. They took out that snapping plant that lunged for them, Dudley distracting the plant, and Piers taking an axe to it. And they used pruning shears and scissors to bedraggle hedges.

It was chaos and destruction, and you couldn’t miss it. They were so proud of themselves, giggling madly as they went from house to house. The damn freaks were asleep, and wouldn’t know who done it. But they’d get the message.

“The last one… with the thorny hedgerow. Let’s use the rest of the petrol on it! I have a match. We can light it up!” Dudley whispered.

Malcolm paused, concern edging into his thought process. “I dunno, Duds. The house might catch fire, too.”

“Good.” Dudley said decisively, liking this idea. “Serves the Freaks right!”

His three friends exchanged a nervous glance. “No, Dudley – I mean, this no one will report to the police, but if we do that…” Malcolm looked around skittishly.

Dudley's eyes narrowed in his fat florid face. “Scared, piggies?”

Gordon picked up the thread, huffing. “No. Dud. Just thinking we don’t want to be caught.”

Dudley snorted. “Like the Freaks would ever figure it out. They are dumb, guys. Animals.” He marched boldly across the street to the black-painted house with the sign “Ombre Bed and Breakfast.” Uncapping the petrol, he began drenching it thoroughly over the shrubs. The thorns shivered and stirred, twisting sinuously as if uncomfortable.

Malcolm and Gordon exchanged a look, and tightened their grip on their mother’s gardening equipment. “No.” Gordon said quietly. “We were okay with poisoning the plants, and cutting off flower heads, but this… I don’t want to get arrested.”

Piers snorted. “Like my Dad would let that happen.” He scoffed.

“Don’t matter. My Da will have my arse if we’re caught.” Malcolm shifted uncomfortably, as Dudley made his way along the hedge. He shifted from foot to foot. “Let’s go Gordon. We’re not caught yet, and I don’t want to be.”

The two boys gave one more glance at Dudley, who glared at them, turned and ran.

“Chickens.” Piers sneered at their backs. “Come on, Duds. That’s enough petrol. Light it up. Let’s get this done.” He encouraged his friend. He moved closer, the stench of petrol getting stronger as he did. “Did you want me to go and damage those weird sunflowers of hers, the ones with fanged faces?”

“Yeah. But, do it now. I’ll light the match after. I’ll throw the match in so it burns up to, and then no one will know it was us.”

Piers scrambled off, stepping inside the lawn, and heading for the garden up against the front of the house. The scissors made short work of the flowers, that made tiny screams as they fell. It was a massacre, he thought with a grin.

He sprinted over to the side of the house, and committed plant-icide there too. Then, jumped the petrol covered hedge, and tearing the bottom of his trousers by way of angry thorn. “Light it! Light it!” He hissed to Dudley, coming up to hover by his friend, his slight body, and Dudley’s bulkier body. Dudley fumbled in his pockets, pulling out a small book of matches. He struck the head against the strip of the booklet, and cackled as it lit. “All right!” He cheered. “Let’s watch it burn!”

“The only thing that will be burning here, if you do anything but blow that match out right this moment, is yourselves, boys.” A cold hard voice said from behind them.

Dudley and Piers froze, and with terror on their faces, slowly turned around to find Phineas Leon standing behind them, arms folded over his broad chest, and face set in a very angry scowl. “I believe the word you’re looking for, boyos, is busted.”

“We didn’t do it.” Dudley blurted.

Phin, a tall vampire, had such a mixed ethnicity no one quite knew where he hailed from. His shining pate was hairless, but the dark stubble on his jaw spoke of dark hair, paired with dusky skin, and dark hard eyes. Most of the women in the neighborhood described him as built like a brick shithouse. To all appearances, Phineas Leon was a hard man, and not one to suffer fools gladly. But, most importantly, male as he might be, he was also a vampire of nearly four centuries. And he was happy to exsanguinate any fools he encountered.

“There’s a gas can at your feet, a book of matches in the Orca’s hand, and you’re holding a pair of shears, and I’m supposed to believe you didn’t do anything?” Phin glowered at them.

“Err.” Piers looked over at Dudley. This was bad.

“EEP!” Dudley yelped suddenly, the match having burned down to his fat fingers. He threw it, out of instinct… and sadly, it hit the trail of petrol. The bushes lit up with a ‘whoosh’ – and so too did Pier’s trousers at the back, where he’s brushed against the shrub jumping over it.

Piers howled, frantically hoping about. It drew people from their houses, even as Phin cussed under his breath, grabbed the screaming child and tossed him to the ground and rolled him with one foot to stomp out the flames consuming his pant leg. “Idiot children. The lot of you should have been drowned straight out of the womb.”

Prudence came out of her Bed and Breakfast, blinking wildly in the early morning light. “Oh, bugger.. my hedge!” Her wand whipped out the sleeve of her robe, and she deftly cast the flame freezing spell, absently striking Piers with it too. “Phineas, what the devil?”

“WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?” Vernon Dursley came blustering up the street, overpowering Prudence’s voice with his own. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY SON?!”

Phin turned slowly, ignoring Piers who was sobbing – his pant leg smoking but no longer on fire. “Is that your can of gas?” He asked lowly.

“My what?” Vernon blinked.

“He spoke English, Dursley. Is that your can of petrol?” Prudence snarled adding one plus one, and coming up with the appropriate two.

Other neighbors were coming outside, a few muggles, as well as vampires and werewolves. And the vampires were noticing the state of their gardens and lawns as they went. Vernon looked at the petrol, at his son's stained clothes, at the pruning shears lying by Dudley’s feet, and paled. “N-n-no. Never seen that before.”

Phin’s glare upped it’s wattage, but Prudence openly bared her teeth, uneven yellow teeth that needed serious dental work. “You lie. I can taste it.” The Hag snarled.

Vernon took a step back with wild eyes. Prudence’s alleged affection for human flesh wasn’t a story kept quiet in the community. Ally Lockwood had been only too happy to tell Petunia all about the owner of the Bed and Breakfast. “It’s not… no. I’m telling you, I’ve never seen that can before. That Freak must have done it. It’s his!” He said, pointing to Phineas.

“Oh hell.” Someone muttered in the crowd. “There goes the neighborhood.” A general murmur of consent to that epithet followed.

Phineas sneered, “I don’t use ‘Petrol’, you fat tub of lard. I have an electric car. And your bloody name is on the side of the can, jackass!”

“They’re vandals, the little bastards!” Someone else called. “They ruined my garden!”

“I can smell petrol in mine!”

“Little monsters – and they call US Freaks? My nightbloom roses are dead!”

Phin growled “Let’s kill ‘em all.” He proposed. “I have some cousins that want to move in, anyway. Need to open up some space.”

The rumble of agreement was making the few muggles in the crowd very nervous. Most were backing away quietly, and running for their homes. Only Dursley, stuck in the middle with his son and Piers, and Piers’ mother seemed inclined to linger.

It was into this mess that the Lich strode, robes streaming as he moved, leaving off the impression of the Grim Reaper himself. “Hold.” It ordered. He looked at the two boys, and then the adults, and absorbed the general anger of the vampires and werewolves around him. “What do you have to say for yourselves?” He demanded of the two boys. “Confess, or face the consequences.”

“We did it! We did it!” Piers blubbered, leg hurting from the burns. “Me, Dudley, Malcolm and Gordon -- our Mums are so mad about the garden club being corrupted by the Freaks -- we wanted to scare them out. Make ‘em know they aren’t welcome here.”

The Lich turned his head, green glowing eyes glaring at Dursley, then Mrs. Polkiss. “Indeed,” It hissed malevolently. “I should think it clear to such weak creatures as yourselves, that it is YOU who is not welcome any longer.”

“Why should we move -- you’re the interlopers!” Vernon bellowed, clearly one of those ones that blustered in the face of near death.

The Lich laughed, “Do you realize, that were it not for the cruelty you showed your only nephew, for the harm you did him, that we would never have been drawn here?” He waved a hand at Mrs. Polkiss, modifying her memories as he did so.

Mrs. Polkiss swayed for a moment, and then stood straighter. “Piers… come here, right now! You’re in so much trouble, young man.” Her son apparently didn’t move fast enough for her, she stalked over, grabbed her son’s left ear, and hauled him to his feet. “Move it!” She hissed. “Your ass is requiring one fine tanning! I’ve never been so embarrassed, and given some of your nonsense, that’s saying something! I’m telling you now, you’re NEVER going to talk to or see Dudley Dursley again, do you hear me?” Her strident tones faded as they Polkisses walked away.

“You are problem for us, Dursley. You and your family.” The Lich glanced at Prudence, who nodded, and Phin who just growled at the boy again for good measure. “And I have exercised far more tolerance at the request of your nephew than I should have done.”

“Kill them.” Prudence suggested. “We don’t need the blood-wards. Not any longer. There are enough of us here now, and the wild magic is well rooted in the ground.”

“Agreed.” The werewolf voted. “I’m sure Jasper would agree too. The Pup can live with him and Ally; I’m quite certain it’d be easier for them just to have him move in full-time instead of this half-assed thing they are doing. Breaks Ally’s heart everytime she has to send the pup back to their miserable house.”

The Lich stared thoughtfully at a now frozen and shaking Vernon Dursley, The slight incline of his head indicated serious consideration was being given to the extinction of all things Dursley in Little Whinging. “Dumbledore.” He finally said.

“Oh, him.” Prudence huffed. “Let him come. We’ll let Judas drink some aged blood.”

“We’d be thrilled to rip the old goat apart.” Phin volunteered.

“It invites the Ministry, far sooner than we are ready to repel them. Hadrian must reach eleven to claim his first inheritance.” The Lich reminded them, his tone still thoughtful, as if he could see a thousand options, and was winnowing them down to the right one.

“Dumbledore!” Vernon squeaked. “He’s the reason the boy was dumped on us!”

The Lich nodded, “Yes. I am aware.” He hummed, and then sighed. “I must discuss with Judas.” He decided. “And with Jasper. But, I believe I have a solution. Prudence, if you will accompany us? Bring the rubbish.”

-- --

The Goblin chieftain took interest in the modifications the Ancient Lich had done to the Dursleys. “Very interesting.” He declared, circling around the new modifications to the Dursleys. Dudley, the Lich had decided, could be redeemed in time, and having some of Hadrian’s mother’s blood surviving might be beneficial down the long road. As such, the obese child had been sent off with modified memories to Manchester Grammar School, as a boarder. His summers were already planned for a series of strict disciplined summer camps. He would come out reformed, or he would become a dropout. It mattered not to the population of Little Whinging.

“How did you carve the runes on the bones without disrupting the flesh?” The Goblin asked, leaning closer to study through a spectacle. “Most fascinating.”

“Sympathetic magic.” The Lich modestly claimed. “A process remarkably misunderstood in the modern magical world. I have a paper on it, that I will share with you later. The little prince is coming up the walk, you would do best not to mention what has been done to his relatives. He is…far more tender-hearted than most.”

The Chieftain grunted. “He is an exceptionally powerful sprog.”

The Lich folded hands together. “Indeed.” He agreed.

“He bears a foreign soul in his curse-scar.” The Goblin added, one hairy eyebrow arching in challenge.

“Hence my need of a ritual room.” The Lich replied mildly to the silent question.

“Ah.” The Goblin smiled then. “We shall expedite this job, then. And, if you agree, we will have our War Goblins come and do the ritual carvings in the floor for a ritual space best suited to soul and blood magics.”

The door to the Lich’s house open, and Harry bounced in, with Jasper behind him. “Why is Aunt Tunia and Uncle Vernon here?” He asked, spotting his maternal relatives, and taking a step backwards into Jasper’s protective grip.

“I’m afraid your Aunt and Uncle had a magical accident, Hadrian.”

The Lich sounded so solemn, and regretful. Jasper was terribly impressed.

“Oh. Will they be okay?”

The Lich sighed. “No. They’ve lost their souls.” He waved over towards Petunia and Vernon. “Notice the absence of expression, and vacance in their gaze?”

Jasper could smell more than just souls missing. There was the early sweet smell of rot happening too. Although, that could be just Petunia and Vernon. He tried often to avoid getting downwind of them before. Petunia liked her perfumes too much, and Vernon stunk of old sweat more times than not. Maybe this was just them clean.

“Oh. What about Dudley?” Harry’s voice had gone quiet.

“Dudley has been sent off to his paternal aunt.” The Lich lied.

“And me?”

The Lich hummed as if thinking. “Well, perhaps Ally and Jasper would be willing to make their guest room yours permanently?”

Jasper blinked. “What about the wards?”

“They’re fine.” The Lich said.

“We extended them to function with Potter living at your house.” Chief Ragnok chimed in. “In exchange for doing so, the Goblin Nation would like to open a branch in Knockturn II.”

“Little Whinging.” The Lich and Jasper corrected in a single voice. Harry snickered, even as he cast a sad eye at his Aunt’s wavering body.

“Little Whinging.” The Goblin amended.

Jasper heaved a sigh. “Yeah, sure, why not. I saw that Gold's Private Gym has gone up for sale. You could retrofit it easily enough.” He shook his head. “Werewolves, vampires, hags, succubi, incubi, a Lich, and Goblins. What next?” He wondered. “Dementors and dragons?”

The Lich huffed, tossing a stinging hex at Jasper. “Shut up. And stop tempting fate, wolf.”
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