Song of Children

Nathanial Hayes-Magonus

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[adminapproval=11462132]It was the beginning of holidays, and the Gryffindor had decided to take it upon himself to get out of the house, and go for a wander. He had elected (as usual) to stay in New Zealand with his father, this time, as with Carlotta around, and Emily being difficult, he just didn't want to deal with them. Emily was ten thousand times worse with Carlotta. Abbigale was pregnant, and he didn't want to be reminded of the fact that she wasn't with his father anymore. No, New Zealand was a much better place with him. During his time in Italy, he found that he could barely stand the language or culture anymore. Why he was forced to be there, anyway, was beyond him.

The Gryffindor was a brave as he was stupid, and so never shied away from places that he was told not to go to. In fact, he tended to get as close to them as possible, just to see how close he could get before his father or Abbigale were alerted to what he was doing. Today, however, he was alone and without them. His father was working, and he was supposed to stay at home - like that was going to happen. Nicodemus had insisted that he stay and they hang out, but quite frankly, Nico was just like Emily but a little taller and with shorter hair. He needed a day to himself, and after admiring the adorable creatures in the shops as he wandered past, his curiosity caused him to walk past Bleak street to have a little look in, before moving to continue his walk through the town.
 

Agatha Bathory

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At long last, the school year had drawn to a close and holidays had sprung up, allowing the plump little children to roam free and enjoy the short time they had before they were thrown back into their studies. While for them it was a chance to relax and have fun, for Agatha, one of the few hags residing around Bleak Street, it was a hunt. Although the woman - if she could be described as that - could satisfy her hunger on such bland things as the liver of small animals, there was one particular and much larger animal she craved, and very few opportunities to sate that craving.

The streets of Obsidian Harbor was bustling with children, excited youths looking to purchase school supplies for the new year, an adorable pet and their first wand, one of the few tools they had to defend themselves with. Even with this, many of the eleven year olds awaiting to be sorted into Hogwarts were incapable of performing more than a simple light spell at this time, leaving them completely defenseless, and the even younger students were left with nothing but the protection of their parents, if ever they were around. All it took was a brief lack of attention and it was simple, so simple to lure them away.

Dressed in simple robes she'd "borrowed" from another witch to replace the slightly tattered ones she owned, Agatha stood on the edge of Bleak Street, where it met with Obsidian Harbor. As a hag, she wasn't the prettiest of creatures, with mottled, dry skin and wild hair, but today she no longer looked her usual self. Instead, under the guise of a beauty potion, she looked the picture of youth and innocence, a maiden in her early twenties at least, no longer the hideous and shady being she once was. Her hair was neatly brushed and as smooth as silk, while her skin lacked a single blemish. Plastered across her expression was a look of distraught, the very image of a damsel in distress. "Please, can anyone help?" She called, a tremble applied to her voice, while her hands fidgeted with worry. Not many witches and wizards strayed too close to Bleak Street, and the ones that did weren't all that interested in helping someone out, yet it wasn't uncommon for an adventurous child to wander too close to the border, out of sight of their guardians. This was her target. As it was, one such boy came close, a little bit older than her usual prey but still within her range. His interest in the darker part of the community was only brief, but as he walked away, Agatha called out to attempt to grab his attention. "Excuse me, please, can anyone help me? I can't find my crup. Please." All children loved dogs. The stress in her voice was well practiced, and she cast wary glances into the dark alley behind her. Few would suspect she felt at home in such a place.
 

Nathanial Hayes-Magonus

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Curly 13 Inch Sturdy Ash Wand with Hippogriff Feather Core
Nathanial paused his walk when it appeared someone was talking to him. Usually when he was off in a daydream, the young Gryffindor hated being interrupted - but really, as long as it wasn't Emily or Nico bugging him, he was usually a lot more genial. He looked at the woman silently, his eyes often wandering off to look down the alley, before he finally approached her, but kept himself at arms-length. He folded his arms across his chest. He couldn't see her crup, but then again, she did just say she couldn't find it. He could occasionally hear the creature though, and it did sound like the yelps were coming from down the darkened alley. The Gryffindor had never actually gone into Bleak Street properly, and this woman didn't look like she went down there often, either. But his uncle and father sometimes wandered down there, and they weren't bad, so surely just a quick poke around wouldn't hurt?

"Um, okay," he said awkwardly, finally addressing the woman. "What's its name? What's your name?"
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Agatha Bathory

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Despite the despair in her voice, the hag smiled inwardly as the boy approached her. That hadn't been so difficult. Like a moth to a flame., the youth of today were so easy to lure and manipulate. For an institute that provided the best in magical education in the country, Hogwarts seemed to have some very foolish kids. "Thank you!" The woman responded with relief, wiping crocodile tears from her eyes. "His n-name is Budge, like the author." She sniffed, not entirely sure if the boy even knew whom she was referring to. Zygmunt had written one of the most detailed books about potions there was, and for that she had a high respect for him. Many hags relied on potions over the little magic they possessed. "I'm Nora. I'm so sorry to trouble you, it's just-" She glanced back towards the dark alley, gulping before she continued. "I didn't want to go down there alone. I'm not very good at anything that isn't a basic cleaning spell, or light charm. I got a lot of T's and P's in school." She tried to smile, her lips quivering as she appeared to make herself as pitiful as she could, and with as many years experience as she'd had, she pulled off the act well.

The woman led the boy down the alley, her slender, perfectly manicured fingertips fidgeting uncomfortably as she walked. The barking sound in the distance grew gradually louder with each step, and though she knew exactly where he was, she constantly glanced down side alleys and between buildings, frantically searching for the 'lost' canine. An older wizard with a scruffy beard smiled a toothy smile at her from across the street, and made to cross over, but the subtle look she shot him stopped him in his tracks. As innocent and beautiful as she appeared, she had many a poison in her bag and she would not allow any derelict witch or wizard get in her way. "I hope he's okay." She said, not wanting to risk the boy getting too bored and straying. "Usually I'm s-so careful, he always has his leash. It only takes a second of being distracted and they're gone. If he gets h-hurt or we can't find him, I don't know what I'd do." She looked down at the youth by her side. "Do you have any pets?"
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Nathanial Hayes-Magonus

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Curly 13 Inch Sturdy Ash Wand with Hippogriff Feather Core
Nathanial had no idea who this Budge person was, but he nodded and took note of the name regardless. He wasn't entirely sure if he trusted her, but she looked as scared of the dark alley as he was uncomfortable. Anyway, he was here now, and he wasn't going to be a chicken and not go. With her there, it was probably going to be fine anyway - safety in numbers and all of that stuff. He nodded at Nora. "Okay, well, it's going to be okay I think," he said, trying to sound by far more confident than he was. After all, he wasn't exactly the best student himself. But even if she was really bad, she would probably be able to do something if they got into trouble, like apparate or something.

He followed her, remaining at a comfortable distance for him - about an arms length, though still close enough for them to be considered travelling together. What did comfort him was the sound of her crup - proving her story true, after all - and the Gryffindor had always liked animals. He nodded along as she spoke - totally missing her interaction with the wizard - and nodded. "Oh, yeah. My uncle, he works with magical creature, he'd always give my sister and I animals. They're with my dad now, though. My mum doesn't really like animals, and her new husband doesn't like anything but like, 'practical' animals, like owls and stuff." The levels of distain he had for his step-father was almost unfathomable, but his tone did well to suggest that it was rather high. He looked around as she had, now that the sound was very, very close, and he looked behind him. He couldn't see the street, but he could remember roughly their course from the light to the considerably darker side-streets. Hopefully they would find the little guy sooner rather than later.
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Agatha Bathory

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In the time the boy had taken to explain his parent's stance of animal keeping, the distant barking had grown all the more closer now. They were almost there, far from the wandering eyes of Obsidian Harbor, far from his parents, his siblings, anyone who may have noticed his disappearance in the short time he'd been away. Once anyone had realised he was gone, and not just into the local candy store, it would be too late. In Bleak Street, there were no tracks to follow, no one to help you. Everyone had their backdoor deals and shady businesses, a thriving black market, and all of the street's occupants were unwilling to help the authorities, let alone some frantic or hysterical parent. Only a few minutes more, and he'd be hers, like a fly caught in a spider's web. It was just unfortunate that he lacked any real meat on his bones. But the Winter Break was long - she had time to change that. "You poor thing. Owls are helpful but you don't really get to form that strong bond you do with other animals, like cats or dogs. Dogs are so loyal, and friendly, and always happy to see you - oh, Budge." She sniffed, shaking her head with a quiet sob. "I can hear him, but this street has so many twists. I can't stop thinking about him stuck somewhere, alone and scared."

It only took a few more turns down to winding path before the canine in question finally came into view, a jack-russel terrier with a forked tail, it's fur clean if a little ruffled, with a shiny red collar latched around its neck that the woman had relieved another dog of. It had tasted almost like a cross between beef and mutton, and the addition of garlic and cinnamon had gone down quite well. "Budge! Oh, thank goodness he's okay." The woman exhaled a relieved sigh, wiping her wet cheeks on the sleeves of her dress as she and the boy approached the dog. It looked toward her and barked happily, it's split tail wagging in excitement and tongue lolling out. Her eyes flickered across to her youthful companion, and a small smile touched her lips. "I was so worried he'd been taken. You can pat him if you like, he doesn't bite. I'm sure he'd love you, especially after helping me. They can sense that sort of thing, you know." She stepped up to the crup, giving it a playful scratch behind the ear before moving back to allow the boy a chance. The second he got anywhere close, however, the canine's happy and playful demeanor changed, as if a switch had been flicked, and he launched himself toward the child, fangs bared as it made to tear into his leg.
 

Nathanial Hayes-Magonus

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Curly 13 Inch Sturdy Ash Wand with Hippogriff Feather Core
Budge? The small crup looked well-kept, if not a little out of place in the dark, dusty streets, but the bright red collar did well to prove it wasn't some stray. It also looked very friendly, with its forked tail wagging vigorously at what he assumed to be the return of his mistress. The Gryffindor was a fierce animal lover, wanting to collect all the furry (and scaly and slimy, must to his mother's disgust) critters and keep them all. He nodded as 'Nora' spoke, agreeing with her, he would have worried about his crup being taken as well. There were some real weirdos and he didn't want to think about what could have happened to the poor thing had they not found it. A part of him reminded him that she was still a stranger, but the crup looked nothing but friendly, and so the tween trusted it.

Nathanial approached the crup, keeping a vague eye on 'Nora', and cooed at the creature, before extending his hands. The crups behaviour quickly changed, however, and the once happy and playful little critter was completely gone and now launching at him with teeth. Yelling out in surprise, and later pain, the Gryffindor kicked the crup away, and as it ran back at him accidently (though he was running on adrenaline now and was hardly thinking clearly) attempted to use his hands to push it away. They were quickly retracted at more bites and he threw himself away from him, completely forgetting about where the woman was, and keeping his eyes trained on the crup, nursing his hand and balancing on his yet-to-be-injured leg.
 

Agatha Bathory

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Everything was going according to Agatha's plan. The hag's hazel eyes fell on the vicious crup as it attacked the boy and she watched, amused, whilst the creature gnashed its teeth and clawed, tearing at any part of the child it could, eyes bloodshot and globules of saliva dripping from its fangs. Without taking too much time to pause and admire the scene, she stepped in between the two, waving a hand and seeming to stay the canine, before turning to her injured companion. Worry creased her perfect features and she knelt down by his side, fussing frantically over him. "No, no! I'm so sorry, I don't know what's gotten into him. It's this place, someone's done something to him. I had no idea, I'm sorry. Please," She stopped fussing to reach into the small sidebag she carried, fingertips delving into its seeming infinite interior. Moments later she'd withdrawn a small vial of potion and gave it a gentle shake. "I have some healing elixir for your wounds, it'll clear them up. Here." The woman popped the vials cork and all but fed the bruised and battered youth her concoction. It wasn't until its contents were empty that he'd come to realise what she'd giving him. The Draught of the Living Dead slowly began to take effect and as comprehension dawned on young Nathanial's features, it was already too late. Agatha smiled, her previously flawless lips now cracked, whilst her pristine teeth started to yellow. Even her soft, silky hair was now a haggard, frazzled mess of brown and grey. Her true form, far uglier than the one she'd taken, was the last thing the boy saw before a deep sleep overcame him, and it would be the last look he had of the outside world.

The woman hummed to herself as she walked further down Bleak Street, pulling along a small cart with a large burlap sack while her faithful dog followed at her heels, no longer the image of ferocity it had once been. Neither stopped until they reached the slightly ramshackled house the hag resided in, where the sack was dumped and locked inside one of its more secure rooms. Nathanial was not ready for her - not yet. One thing was for sure however. He'd never see the light of day again.
 

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