Chapter 6. Raid in Russia
Four men and a woman holding a can appeared where Severus and Edward had appeared the previous night. Had they arrived three seconds earlier, Severus would have had to modify the memories of a couple who were on their way home after a lovers’ stroll in the night. Luckily for them, the couple had just turned the street corner.
The five persons wore dark clothes. Their faces’ features were blurred, as if the air was undulating in front of them. But worse was their smell: they reeked of cheap cologne. Severus thought they had no need of being silent since their smell was bound to precede any noise they could make. Well, the vampires had insisted. Since their kind recognised people by their scent, it was essential that they hid theirs in case a vampire enemy came out alive of tonight’s expedition.
Severus and Bella went ahead. After a few tests on Bella’s powers in the afternoon – with Alice’s help to keep Edward away – Severus was certain the young vampire could repel any kind of magic, even the one usually efficient against her species. Since Bella’s power was exerted on mental attacks, and since magic was above all the extension of a wizard’s will, it was logical that she could repel magic. That was Severus’s theory.
Silently, he pointed his wand at the line formed by the first alerting spell they met. It lit up green, like tinsel at man’s height crossing the street. Bella stood next to him, an air of concentration on her face, as if the exterior world did not exist anymore. The three other vampires watched the happenings with interest and a bit of tension.
An invisible form, that Severus imagined to be a hand, grabbed the thread and broke it in its middle. The hand, for lack of a better word, lost its shape, stretched, and little by little replaced the thread by space. Soon a small passage opened in front of the group; they only needed to cross it. Severus took advantage of the spell being immobilised to cancel it once they were past it. If they wanted Alice and Rosalie not too far behind them, they would need to keep the coast clear.
The five companions carried on walking. Severus detected spells, Bella neutralized them, and Severus dismantled them. For the moment, the three other men contented themselves with following and watching with attention and, Severus noted, pride for the last arrival in their family. When they arrived in sight of the gates of Bouranov’s property, Severus felt as if he had run a marathon. As simple to dismantle as the alerting spells had been, they had been numerous and had undermined his strength. He envied the vampires’ tirelessness.
Hidden from the guards’ sight by a corner of the property’s wall, the conspirators waited for Bella to spread her shield on the street before them. That girl’s power was incredible. Once the street was secure, Jasper and Emmett knocked the two guards on duty at the gates. They were so fast that Severus only saw a blur. When they were finished, the guards were trussed up like poultry. He then got rid of the last spells protecting Bouranov’s estate and stood before the imposing iron gate.
Edward whispered, “You’re sure ...”
Severus interrupted him. “Yes, I’m sure! That spell was used by the Death Eaters. The only difference was that the Dark Mark was the key, and not a medallion like here.”
The vampire looked apologetic, all the more since the others overtly sniggered at his insecurity. “I’m sorry. Alice just told me that we’d make it to the far end of the park. Her visions aren’t stable after that, though.”
Ten minutes of intense concentration on Severus’s part followed that statement. Latin incantations as long as the Litany of the Saints and wand movements worthy of a gym course (Severus promised himself to get exercise regularly. Soon.) accompanied said concentration. Once finished, he gently pushed the heavy gate. It creaked slightly, but as no one attacked them, they slipped in through the gap.
“Wait!” Severus exclaimed. “To put your feet in the right places will keep you alive but not from being spotted. You’ve already crossed two alarms,” he reproached Emmett and Jasper, who had already started along the path. The culprits did not seem very contrite by their blunder.
“There’s only one thing to do, then,” Emmett declared, a broad smile stretching his lips.
Severus felt himself being lifted and thrown without warning on Edward’s back. The four vampires took off and Severus closed his eyes. When he opened them one or two seconds later, he was in front of a small concrete building with a closed security door. The two men who were guarding the building, alerted by the wards, were ready for the intruders. Edward barely had time to shout, “Bella!”, probably thanks to one of Alice’s visions. Fortunately, Bella had not released her shield. The Sectumsempra bounced everywhere. There would be a lot of cut wood to pick up in the morning.
Severus resolutely turned his back to the confusion that spread around him. The vampires moved too fast for human eyes, except for Bella, whose main duty was to control her shield. The three other Cullens physically attacked the wizards rushing out of the main house to the building. One, maybe two vampires were fighting on the Mafia side and gave a hard time to Severus’s allies. In spite of his fatigue, he still needed to dismantle the spells protecting the door. Severus achieved his task in the middle of an indescribable bedlam.
“At last!” he exclaimed while turning back.
It was as if he were coming out of a protective bubble. Brutally, the thundering noises produced by the vampire bodies hurled against each other, the whirlwind of imprecise forms created by the moving creatures, and the spell colours slicing through the dark night, almost made his head spin and his balance to fail. He had nonetheless been heard, for he found himself in Emmett’s arms and on the other side of the security door in the blink of an eye.
The vampire did not put him back on his feet but ran instead, so Severus guessed more than saw the corridors and staircases, all painted in white. When at last he was vertical again, he had to lean against a wall, just next to an extinguisher. On the opposite wall, another security door hid what they were here to seek.
“I can hear their thoughts,” Edward said. His eyes widened. “They’d transformed the vampires into humans!” he exclaimed, horrified.
Only then did Severus notice that his ... friends? had not escaped the skirmish completely intact. Their clothes were in tatters, bites gaped here and there on their skin, and Jasper was busy sticking back together three of his fingers. He would have liked to observe the process, but time was scarce.
“They made them drink Polyjuice?”
Edward swallowed. “Yes. They’ve been humans for three days.”
“That potion lasts an hour on humans.” That information visibly disturbed the vampires.
Before he was asked, Severus told them that the door was not protected by spells. He had barely finished speaking when Emmett had destroyed it. Jasper followed him closely and broke the neck of the wizard, who was guarding a human couple locked in a cage with thick iron bars. The room was bare but for the cage, a clock on the wall, and a metal desk covered with parchments wedged under an ink pot.
Severus dashed to the metal desk. From the corner of his eye he noticed that the vampires converged on the cage, except for Emmett who was guarding the door. “Hurry up! The others are coming.”
Severus shrank all the parchments with a wave of his wand and tossed them in his bottomless bag. He would sort them out later. “I’m ready.”
Edward and Jasper already had the two ex-vampires on their back. It was fortunate that Bouranov did not go through the effort of enchanting the cage, Severus thought at the sight of two distorted bars.
“Let’s hurry. Bouranov sent five vampires and two wizards after us,” Edward announced.
The four vampires opened the only available door: the wall. They pulled it down with their fists in a few seconds. Once again Severus was on a vampire’s back, Emmett's, in this case. They very quickly passed through the hole in the wall only to find themselves confronted with a wall of wizards determined to not let them escape.
“You didn’t foresee that,” Severus grumbled.
“Alice’s voice didn’t pass through the concrete,” Edward retorted.
Behind them, the other vampires stepped over.
“We can only go forward,” Jasper reasoned. “Five vampires may be too many for us, whereas Bella can protect us from magic.”
If there is a God that hears me, please take care of Hermione and Eileen if I don’t survive, Severus prayed.
With a furious yell, Emmett charged the line of wizards. From his perch on the vampire’s back, Severus cast the Killing Curse as many times as he could. The fewer witnesses alive after their escapade, the better his chances of survival were. Bella, Edward and Jasper did the same. The five companions managed to create an opening in the line formed by their adversaries, but the other vampires caught up with them in no time. The young man Edward carried had his chest crushed by the impact. The spilled human blood was enough to distract the vampires, who were not accustomed to resisting it. Ignoring the cries of the young man’s girlfriend, the five adventurers and their captive ran away, leaving in their wake the young man’s body. They jumped with ease over the surrounding wall and landed without a noise in the nearby street. Except Severus’s stomach, of course. Soon the small group met Alice and Rosalie. Rosalie threw herself in Emmett’s arms, evicting Severus from his position.
“We don’t have time for that,” Edward complained. “Five of our species are chasing us.”
Severus climbed back on Emmett’s back after he had cast a few spells to deceive their pursuers’ senses, while Rosalie put the woman to sleep by pressing a judiciously chosen spot on her neck with her thumb.
“I can’t use magic until we reach our destination, or else the wizards will be able to follow our trail,” Severus explained.
The conspirators resumed their race until the dacha, where Esme and Carlisle were waiting for them in front of the door.
“You’re all back,” Esme exclaimed with joy. She kissed each of her children with fervour. As for Carlisle, he was already examining the human woman they had brought back with them.
“At first sight, she doesn’t suffer from anything,” he said while taking her to one of the bedrooms, where he laid her on the bed. All the family followed him.
“Her name is Jerina,” Edward said.
Carlisle turned his head towards Edward so fast that Severus swore he heard a whistling. “She became human again? Polyjuice?” he asked Severus.
“I fear so. It seems that my process is efficient.” He shared a look full of understanding with the vampire patriarch. The scientific curiosity had created a friendship between the two men that would probably last until Severus’s death.
“Died during our flight,” Emmett answered. “There was nothing we could have done.”
Before her parents could object to the death of an ‘innocent human’, Rosalie came to her husband’s aid. “Nothing proves he’d have made a respectable human.” When her family eyed her with surprise if not outrage, she added, “When you know how he lived as a vampire, I doubt he’d have improved by changing species.”
“It’s not a reason,” Carlisle admonished her.
She folded her arms, obstinate that she was, and shut up. Severus remembered having seen that expression on Eileen’s face.
“What’s going to happen to her?” Esme inquired.
“I can modify her memories and keep her asleep without a risk until someone takes her back in Albania,” Severus suggested.
Carlisle sighed. “I think it’s the best we can do for her. Thank you very much.”
Severus’s cheeks turned pink at the vampire’s sincere gratitude. “It’s nothing. However, there’s still a detail to take care of before. We’ve been seen, and we didn’t eliminate all of our adversaries, especially the five vampires on Bouranov’s side.”
“Weren’t you all in disguise?” Carlisle asked, flustered at the idea of all those deaths.
“I fear that my spells had been interfered with during the skirmish that occurred after we went out of the building.”
The pleasure and relief one should feel after a successful mission disappeared and were replaced by worry. Without a word, the associates went out of Jerina’s bedroom to sit down around the living-room table. Severus just made a detour by the kitchen to drink a glass of water and to prepare a light meal. Carlisle was about to speak when the magical wards Severus had installed around the dacha set off.
“Five vampires, with five humans,” Edward whispered. “They’re on foot.”
What a pity they did not elect to Apparate directly in front of the door. The problem would have been solved in less than a second, thanks to a couple of wards Severus had installed there. The wizard was hurriedly thinking about a solution to their predicament.
“The first line of traps should hold them a hundred of metres from here. I can fly. From the air, I can take them by surprise and cast spells to confuse and modify the wizards’ memories. I can’t do anything about the vampires, though. The spells would just slide on their skins.”
“There are enough of us to fight five vampires, even if they’re well trained for fighting,” Jasper said decisively.
“What are we waiting for?” The impatient was none other than Emmett, of course.
“Nothing,” Severus retorted. He was heading for the door. “I’m going to attack first. The distraction will serve as an advantage for you, especially since those wizards won’t hesitate to use Dark magic, which can hurt you. But you’ll have to initiate the battle just after my first volley of spells, or I probably won’t make it.”
The determination Severus could read on the others’ faces reassured Severus. He took off as soon as he was outside of the dacha. The eight vampires followed on foot, easily crossing the magical defences set to recognise them. Less than a minute later, they were face to face with their enemies.
The encounter was brief, fierce, and pitiless. Severus was reminded of his years as a Death Eater, specifically of the day they had tried to capture Harry when the younger man had reached his seventeenth birthday. It was clear that their adversaries were trying to capture them alive, in all probability to question them, but were not opposed to the idea of leaving some more scars on his arms and chest. Thank heaven he was wearing an old robe he would not miss. He set foot on the ground before the confrontation ended, when the five wizards were a menace only to themselves.
Four vampires were already in pieces. Rosalie and Alice were busy collecting them and throwing them in a fire whose brightness was paling as dawn arose. Jasper and Emmett were wrestling to the ground the fifth vampire. Carlisle was leaning over Edward’s hand. When he came closer, Severus saw him sticking back in place two of his right hand fingers. On the side, Esme and Bella were watching the proceedings with anxiety.
It was over. He was going to go back home, end the night in his bed, his head on the warm breasts (he did not say comfortable; it vexed Hermione) of his wife. Although that last wish was a bit optimistic since the sun was rising and there was still a couple of things to take care of before he left. The wizards were sent to the centre of Moscow with a Portkey. Their sudden Apparition in front of the Kremlin obliged the Russian Ministry of Magic to turn their attention to the panic created in the Muggle world rather than to the offence committed to Bouranov. Jerina was subjected to the same fate, the difference being her destination: Tirana. Then the Cullens found out or rediscovered how enjoyable travelling by Portkey was. Severus wondered how many of them landed upright. And at last it was his turn. He had barely touched his front door handle when Hermione flew into his arms.