Feather Seventy One

There was still a lot Siobhan had to – needed to – do.

After she left the Twins, the young witch went to Bonnie's. The shop was in need of cleaning, anyway, and that had always helped clear her mind.

It took hours and was fairly dark when Bonnie finally approached her.

"What's wrong, girl?" the older woman demanded.

"I spoke to a Dog," Siobhan finally said after much deliberation, "Two of my friends were attacked, and I was the only magical associated with them."

Bonnie made an odd sound, but didn't ask for more clarification. Not yet, anyway.

Siobhan organized the aged books of the shop by author, then by title. The breakable figurines by make, then by subject.

The proprietor eventually gave up trying to get Siobhan to stop herself, and, as a result, called Kian.

Kian sent the Twins.

Siobhan wouldn't admit to anyone how she followed after the two like a lost puppy – not even herself.

None of them really spoke. It wasn't too far of a walk back to McGinty's, and Siobhan had mumbled her farewells and thanks as they entered the pub, ignoring the rowdy crowd of drunks. The Twins gave her brief hugs – something inside of her loosened at that, almost like a sigh of relief – and went back to the bar with Rocco.

The witch trotted upstairs after giving a nod to her grandda, intent on taking a shower then going to sleep.

It wouldn't be a very restful sleep.

Feather Seventy Two

Activity in Britain was starting to pick up again, according to the reports passed onto Siobhan. Her health had improved by a fair bit since Alanna started to assist in the young witch's healing, but the cursed injuries weren't as good as they ought to be.

A knock on her bedroom door made Siobhan jump in surprise, but she closed the folders containing her reports, hid them under her songbook, and then answered the door.

Kian stood there, a small furrow to his brow. "There's someone on th'phone for yeh."

The witch tilted her head, trying to think of who would be calling her, someone that her grandda wouldn't recognize. Kuche, probably. He was really the only one she could think of.

As it would turn out, it had been Kuche on the phone. They wanted her to come in again.

"We caught the witch responsible for the Grants deaths." Kuche seemed frustrated, for some reason. "She was hired by one 'Lord Voldemort' to track you down. Why she deviated to the Grants is unknown, as they didn't hold any traces of your magic – you've been careful about that, haven't you?"

Siobhan merely gave a numb nod.

"As it is, she died while in custody. We. . . don't know how. We were wondering if you had any idea why she could have died."

"Parselmagic. Did you check for Parselmagic?" she asked almost immediately, looking around in paranoia, "Or he could have made her take an oath involving not getting caught by forces opposing him. The more likely thing is the Parselmagic, though. Only two known people are able to even speak Parseltongue – me and Tom Riddle." Siobhan had gotten jumpy the instant he called her enemy by name, and offered the true name of Lord Voldemort.

Feather Seventy Three

Kuche tilted his head, looking at her with concern.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

Siobhan extended her magic, trying to feel out the magic in the area. It hurt – it always did, making something that was supposed to be internal, external without a focus – but this was a skill she wouldn't get rid of, no matter how much it hurt. There wasn't anything in her range, but one never knew.

"Saying that name – his pseudonym – is . . . It summons his followers. Or did, in Britain. Snatchers. My friends and I found that out the hard way, when Hogwarts' wards had fallen," she explained, focusing back on the Dog.

Kuche offered a shrug. "These meetings are warded. Always are," he said, "Everything in this room is kept secret and only written down for my superior. No oral reports. I will mention the . . . unwise use of his name in my report, though."

The witch gave a slow nod. "Thank you."

Another shrug. "It's as much for our safety as for your peace of mind."

Right. The Dogs were supposed to be all mysterious and shadow-workers.

"Do you know any Parselmagic, Miss Potter?" Kuche asked, drawing her attention back to him.

"I don't. . . I don't think I do. I've never cast a spell using Parseltongue, and I've never found anything about the magic aspect of Parseltongue, except a note saying that it existed."

He frowned. "You researched this in Britain?"

"Yes."

Kuche hummed, then nodded.

"Thank you for your help, Miss Potter," he offered, standing, "You can go."

Feather Seventy Four

Siobhan had been having lunch with Rocco at the pub on a cleaning break when her grandda had brought out a bag of clothes, concern on his face.

The witch shared a look with Rocco, who gave a shrug.

"What's wrong?" she asked, standing. Her injuries twinged ever so slightly, though not nearly as badly as they used to be. Working with her tutors had done wonders.

"Th'boys need some clothes taken t'em," he said. Siobhan frowned, glancing over at Rocco.

"What happened?"

"Th'Russians didn' take kindly t'gettin' run off," Kian explained with a grim look, "They're at th'station now."

Her own features settled into a similar look. "I'll go. Rocco, stay 'ere with Grandda."

"Shiv – !" Rocco started to protest.

"I'll be fine. A walk'd do me good, and I've been meaning to talk to the twins, anyway," the witch cut him off, taking the bag of clothes from her grandda, then slipping on her jacket.

"Be back later," she called out as a farewell.

Feather Seventy Five

Siobhan hadn't been telling the entire truth when she had decided to take the clothes to the twins.

The racket that the Russians had caused had resulted in waking the young witch up from another of those peculiar dreams. The ones with lights and voices. Colour her shocked when she had found loose feathers in her bed and even under her shirt. From what, she wasn't entirely sure, but she suspected it had to do with her tattoos.

Perhaps Malachi's assertion that she would be able to fly wasn't too far off the mark?

Of course, if the feathers did mean Siobhan possessed actual wings. . . It was one thing to have wings, and another entirely to be able to fly.

Still, the feathers were quite pretty - a pale sort of quicksilver or silver colour, and absurdly soft to the touch. The young witch had hidden them in the same drawer she kept most of her nonperishable gifts when not in use, unsure of what she should do with them and unable to bring herself to throw them away.

As she mounted the steps to the police station, Siobhan paused. Perhaps the Dog had an idea as to what was happening to her?

"Miss?" Green eyes darted up, to a man in a police uniform.

"I've brought clothes – for Connor and Murphy MacManus?" she offered, rolling her shoulders slightly.

"Oh. Er. . . Right this way, Miss Potter," he said, turning to lead her deeper into the station.

Right. He knew her name because of her visits with Kuche. Siobhan shoved away her worry.

Feather Seventy Six

"I admit, I don't know what to think. You believe they have to do with your. . . markings?"

Siobhan had ended up asking Kuche for his assistance – off the record, of course, as Siobhan preferred her privacy. As he didn't see the harm in it, the agent had agreed.

"Yeah. Here." The young witch twisted, hiking up the back of her shirt to reveal the marks etched into her flesh alongside fresh and old scarring.

"When did these. . ." The man cut himself off, studying her marks intensely.

"The wings came in – well, appeared would be more accurate – on my seventeenth birthday. The feathers themselves didn't appear until the other day. The, uh, the same day that those two Russians were found dead. Well, that morning, anyway." Siobhan was hesitant to admit that, but figured full disclosure would be wise if she wanted Kuche's help.

"Do you think you had anything to do with them?" Kuche asked, a frown audible in his voice.

She shook her head, half shrugging. "Not really. The feathers were isolated to my bed and in my clothes."

The Dog hummed, brushing closer to her. "And the scars?" he finally asked. There was a peculiar – a familiar tightness to his voice.

"Mm. . . You've heard about England and Hogwarts. Most didn't escape from that unscathed. I am no exception," she offered, hedging around the intended question.

A hand on her back – on the scars – made Siobhan flinch away.

"It was your family."

Feather Seventy Seven

"That's an assumption," Siobhan stated, a frown in place as she looked over her shoulder, at the older man.

He scoffed quietly, bright green eyes narrowed and a scowl in place.

"You assume they ever treated me as family," she muttered bitterly.

". . . The Dursleys, right?" Kuche inquired, that flatness still in his voice.

Siobhan waved her hand dismissively, letting her shirt drop back down. "Doesn't matter. Not anymore. I'm here, after all, with people who care for me."

"Mundanes abusing a magical does matter, actually. What if they have custody of another?" Kuche snapped.

"They won't," she insisted, "They would sooner give them up than keep hold of another magical child."

"And how sure are you of that?" he growled.

"Because if it wasn't for Dumbledore, they wouldn't have even kept me, someone who was their flesh and blood!" Siobhan virtually yelled, gesturing angrily.

Kuche raised his hands, shaking his head. "Alright. Back to the wings, then. Do you know anything else that could prove useful?"

Siobhan tilted her head, shifting gears. "Not really." She kept the dreams to herself. They were hers, and she didn't want him to think her crazy.

"Have you found out anything else about that murderer? The one that killed Laketta and Tianna?" she asked, shifting gears again.

There was a soft chuckle from Kuche, something wry. "Can't tell you, Miss Potter. There's a lot I can't actually tell you."

She frowned, looking away. "I understand. Secrecy is a big part of your job, after all. So. You'll tell me if you find something out, right?"

The operative wore a matching frown, not that Siobhan saw it. "Yes. You have my number – and I have yours. Contact me if you need any more help, alright?"

The young witch nodded, giving the man a brief smile. "Thanks, Operative Kuche. Oh. And call me Siobhan, please."

Feather Seventy Eight

"Okay, so. . . you want us to speed up your training?" Alannah asked, incredulous. So far, Siobhan was proud of what she managed to learn. But she needed to leave, to deal with Voldemort.

"Yes, please," Siobhan replied with a nod. She felt a surprising amount better than she had prior to the whole 'feather incident', which was. . . interesting. The constant ache that she hadn't realized was there, was gone.

Asbjørn shot Alannah a Look, tilting his head. She rolled her eyes, shaking her own head.

The young witch glanced between them, a touch concerned by their apparent ability to talk without actually talking. She hadn't realized they had grown that close.

"Fine, fine. We'll step up your training, Siobhan. Don't complain if you get hurt, though, and have to stop to heal up," Alannah acquiesced, shrugging her shoulders slightly. Asbjørn smirked, an almost menacing air to his normally teddy-bear-like countenance.

Almost immediately after Siobhan's training session – largely sparring with Asbjørn, who didn't hold back as he usually did – she regretted, for a fraction of a moment, her choice to ask her training to be sped up. But then she remembered the lives the war had so far cost, and found herself wanting to end the war as soon as possible.

Voldemort was vile and rotten. He infected those around him, afflicting the magical society as a whole.

She would excise that taint.

Feather Seventy Nine

So. Yes. The training was hard. But her wings had come out consciously in one particularly pressing moment, and Asbjørn had not been very happy to get a face full of wing. Neither had Alannah, despite standing nearly six and a half feet away. Of course, Siobhan wasn't exactly used to six-plus feet of meat, bone, and feather sprouting from her back, and was thrown off balance, falling in a heap as she tried to compensate for the added weight – and ended up over-compensating. Wings bent painfully, grey-white feathers flew through the air, and muffled yells came from her mentors.

Asbjørn stalked up to Siobhan from where he had been thrown. "Hva den- When were you going to tell us about this?" he snarled, gesturing sharply at her. . . extra limbs.

"Perhaps when I managed to manifest them consciously," the young witch offered thoughtfully, gazing at her wings in bemusement.

"Why do you have wings?" Alannah asked, a warning lilting her voice. Hm. They seem to be upset at the secret.

"I don't know. They were marks on my back – you've seen them. You've had to have seen them – had to have felt the magic in them," Siobhan stated, a touch confused.

"That doesn't mean we were aware that they were more than just magical tattoos!" Alannah snapped. The younger witch frowned at her Irish mentor, wondering why she appeared to be so upset.

"I wasn't either, at least not until feathers began to litter my bed," she offered, "If I had realized I was sprouting wings at night, I would have asked both of you about it." Sprouting wings, after all, wasn't something she read about in Inheritance books. Nor was sprouting other limbs, actually. Limbs morphing into something else, yes, but a new set of limbs? No. Not even tails.

Alannah gave a heavy sigh. "So, you don't know anything about what it means to have wings?" the Irishwoman asked, sounding peculiarly tired. Siobhan shook her head.

"Come, then, we have much to tell you," Asbjørn rumbled, thankfully calmer.

Feather Eighty

Wings were a creature inheritance. A rare one, one that hadn't happened in 'a very long time'. They were a blessing, doubly so as air was apparently Siobhan's elemental affinity, or so Alannah said. This blessing was also supposedly from Magic – capital 'M' and all – and an indication that Ireland and Norway had been right to send her assistance.

"I can't imagine how much fumbling you would be doing without us," Alannah had sighed out.

"I doubt I would be fumbling overmuch," Siobhan refuted, "I would have simply sought assistance here. I already have Walter, so that covers most of what Asbjørn has been able to teach me without straining my magic. I'm also sure that, if I had asked, Kuche would have seen about setting aside time to help me train."

Actually, come to think of it, why hadn't she asked Kuche for additional help? Too distracted by the Twins' deaths, too distracted by her own little problems, she mused, a frown ticking down her lips. The young witch made a mental note to ask if the Dog would be willing to help in any way.

"Kuche?" Alannah asked, spine straightening and pale eyes narrowing, "Who's that? Another mundane?"

Siobhan shook her head. "He's not a mundane," she stated, purposefully not elaborating.

"He could be dangerous," Asbjørn warned. Sweet of him, but. . .

"Of course he's dangerous," Siobhan said with a small huff, "But he's not dangerous to me." Not currently, anyway. The Guidelines were easy to follow for her, after all, and the Dogs were only sent after people who broke the Guidelines or tormented mundanes. She dare not explain that to her mentors, though, fully aware that anyone knowing of her connection to an actual Dog could seek to exploit said connection.

"Siobhan – " Alannah started, only to be cut off by the younger witch.

"No, Alannah. Kuche is a friend. Trust me."

The ginger let the subject go, even as the troubled look on her features grew.

At least Asbjørn hadn't argued.