Alastor had requested the Diagon Alley florists to assemble a magnificent bouquet of flowers, white roses and jasmine, for him to take to Gabriel's the following evening, but he felt that he needed something else by way of a gift. Something beautiful and expensive, but not too personal - not just yet. A book was perfect, and he knew the very one he wanted.
It was a rare tome he sought, beautifully leather-bound and gilded, a treatise on the Archangels written and illustrated by a brilliant but tragic young woman, a so-called prophet who had believed she could talk directly to the celestial beings, could call them to her at will. Poor mad Alma Calloway, now held at St Mungo's for life. But her words were sheer poetry and the illustrations divine. Particularly the portraits of Gabriel - she had actually painted the Messenger of God as a beautiful albino, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Gabriel Travers, although the book had been written several years before the Travers boy had been born. Gabriel had been the Calloway girl's favourite Archangel, and there was plenty about him in the book, so it was an appropriate gift for Alastor's young beauty. Yes indeed.
The wizened man behind the counter seemed a little taken aback by Moody's request - after all, some of the illustrations were rather sensual in nature and many of religious faith considered them blasphemous - but nevertheless he bowed and scraped and muttered "Excellent choice, sir," as he slid a copy of the Calloway book from the shelves and began to wrap it carefully.
It was then that Moody saw Lucius Malfoy enter Flourish and Blotts.
Alastor had vowed to keep an eye on Malfoy, and this seemed a most valuable opportunity to do just that.
After a few days of trying to get ahold of Brahms and Wesson, Avery was able to finally convey his plan to them. The two men were also outside of the Dark Lord's Inner Circle and wouldn't mind some recognition coming their way so it was all too easy to convince them to go along. They knew of Avery's ambition and, wise enough, they were willing to back him up. Besides, this was only one bookstore. How bad could it be?
They took their wands and donned their masks and hoods. Avery always felt wonderful and free in his Death Eater garb. Hidden behind a mask, it was as though no one could see him but they would respect him. They would fear him!
They took the floo and appeared in the fireplace of Flourish and Blotts. As they rolled out of the fireplace, they quickly stood, wands at the ready. Wesson sneezed which nearly ruined the moment but Avery was able to cover it up by immediately seizing control.
"Attention shoppers! This bookstore is now under the control of the Death Eaters! The floo is now closed and there will be no apparating as wards are now being constructed."
Brahms was quick to put up those wards.
The customers took one look at the hooded figures and got out of the shop, racing for the doors.
'Oh, but this is all too perfect,' Avery thought. 'Run from us! Run in fear! We control everything! This plan is going along wonderfully!'
"Destroy the place," he commanded the other two Death Eaters. "If anyone's still here, kill him." Yes, that was appropriately malicious. And it would bring even more terror to people when it came to Death Eaters.
Brahms went to the left while Avery took the right. Wesson guarded the floo to make sure no one went in or came out.
In all the panic that had just followed, there were still a few stragglers left behind, too terrified to run.
Like Hippogryffs in the spotlight, Avery knew as he advanced upon a couple. They were his prey!
Lucius was not one of the many customers that had raced out of the bookstore and it wasn't due to panic of any sort. He had been trying to reach up to the highest shelf to retrieve a training guide for crups when the three Death Eaters had suddenly decided to spring up and cause a bit of fear and panic.
Odd. The Dark Lord had mentioned nothing of this attack. Lucius had been on his way of leaving when he was suddenly slammed into the bookshelf due to some woman and her heavy purse.
The apparent leader of the trio spoke quite loudly and his voice was one that Lucius recognised all too well. The obnoxious fool Avery. Had the Dark Lord authorised this? And if he did, what the hell was he thinking putting Avery in charge? Shouldn't that title be due to some Inner Circle member? One that held more power?
Also, why in hell would the Dark Lord be trying to destroy a lousy bookstore? It barely held any Dark Arts titles at all.
But if Avery was here and since Lucius was a Death Eater, then he would have to aid...
Wait. Was that Moody?
...Fuck. Lucius cursed silently to himself. What the hell was Alastor Moody doing here? Why at this time? This place? Lucius knew that if he was to help Avery then unless Moody was killed, which was extremely unlikely, Lucius' cover would be completely blown. There was no mask to hide behind.
So play it cool, Malfoy. Play it real cool.
But Lucius had yet to learn the difference between cool and stupid.
He stepped in front of Avery, his own wand out of its sheath and pointed at the Death Eater. "Don't touch them, fool." The people were civillians and Lucius was unaware of either their blood or which side they chose. Even if the Dark Lord had ordered this attack, Lucius could not morally allow such waste to occur. Waste was all too repulsive.
What. The. Fuck.
Of all the rotten times - not here. Not now. But Moody was prepared of course, wand at the ready. Prepared to defend the helpless civilians with his life if need be.
He kept one eye on the masked figures, the other on Malfoy. Now was a perfect time to see where the blond's allegiances truly lay.
Avery stopped in his tracks when Lucius brought out his wand. How dare he! How dare Malfoy impede Death Eater justice! Malfoy hadn't the right! He was supposed to aid the Death Eaters! He was one of them!
But this was treason! Treason against the cause and everything the Death Eaters stood for! Of course, Avery disregarded the fact that the attack had been all his idea and without Voldemort's approval or permission.
Avery raised his own wand. There wasn't anything Lucius could do against him. If Malfoy wanted to not be a Death Eater, then he was just a civilian and had no right to duel against Avery or anyone unless challenged or after Avery threw the first curse. Avery knew this and he knew that Malfoy knew this as well. So whatever curse Avery gave to Malfoy had to be something big.
Something that would allow Avery to keep moving instead of being impeded by Malfoy. The Killing Curse wouldn't do. Not for Malfoy who was still under the protection of the Dark Lord. And the Imperius might be thrown off. Avery couldn't take any chances.
"Disgusting traitor," he hissed. "Crucio!" Avery put as much rage and hatred into the curse as he could, which wasn't that difficult a task since he utterly despised Malfoy.
Lucius hadn't thought Avery would dare throw a curse at him. He had hoped that the other Death Eater would just go, leave the family, and terrorize someone else allowing Lucius to slip out the door. He hadn't wanted a duel and he had figured Avery had more common sense than to curse him.
The Crucio hit him hard as there was no ward or block against it and within a few seconds, Lucius was keeling over in utter pain that seemed neverending. A few more seconds and he knew he was screaming but couldn't stop the noise even if he wanted to.
His body felt spastic, his mind unbalanced as he tried to cope, to repress, to push back the agony the curse wreaked upon him. Everything didn't just hurt. Everything burned and ached and screamed, from his blood to his bones.
He tore mostly at his skull, trying to physically dispel the pain but was unable to do so. Manicured fingernails made a few red marks on his pale skin as he writhed about in vain, praying that either the curse would be taken off him or he'd sink into oblivion quickly.
Moody couldn't believe what he was seeing. The leader of the group of Death Eaters casting a Cruciatus curse on Malfoy? Unless this was some sort of carefully orchestrated plot, this meant that...
Malfoy was not a Death Eater after all.
Alastor knew he had to do something. He'd have given anything to have had his Invisibility Cloak with him, but he'd have to make do with speed and stealth. Carefully slipping up behind the leader, Moody pressed his wand against the man's neck and growled, "Nobody better be foolish enough to move, or you know what's coming!"
Oh, this was good fun indeed! The other Death Eaters didn't know what they were missing and Avery wouldn't be the one to tell them. Let them stew in their own pathetic lives. Avery was out having the time of his life and nothing could beat a moment of having a Malfoy at his feet.
Until some idiot decided to try and be a hero.
"You don't know what you're messing with, old man." Avery signald for the other two Death Eaters to approach. "You can't kill all three of us. And if that curse ain't taken off of Malfoy, his brain'll start leaking out his ears. Doubt a hero like you wants a casualty on his conscience."
Fortunately, Avery wasn't burdened by a conscience. He giggled a bit, knowing that even though a wand was at his neck, he was still in control. In command!
Avery..bastard. Lucius vowed to kill him should he ever find his way out of this painmindlessagonydeargodmakeitstop! His jaw was clenched so tightly, he was sure he'd need dental work after this was done. Finished. Over.
Concentrate. Try to block out...agony! Waves of agony! MAKE IT STOP!
His mind constantly replayed images of people, places, things, ideas, stupid ideas, fools, fools, bloody hell it all HURT! He needed just one moment of clarity, one moment to think without being burdened by the pain. One moment of nothingness. Sweet, blissful nothingness!
Fuckitall, Walden! It hurts! It. Won't. Stop. Hurting!
And Lucius, at this point, couldn't stop screaming.
"Maybe I can't kill all of you, but I can do plenty of damage if I want to," Moody snarled, wand held steady.
That... voice. It was... strangely familiar. He knew it from somewhere...
He forced himself to keep calm, Gabriel's image in his mind. If this was to be his fated death, he wanted to die with his sweet Angel's name on his lips. But Moody didn't plan on being a dead man just yet.
"Maybe you'd better take the curse off Mr Malfoy then, or I might be tempted to try it on you, Death Eater," Alastor growled. "And I've a pretty good idea of who you might be under that mask..."
It was a bluff, but Moody hoped it would pay off.
Aurors weren't allowed to kill, were they? Avery didn't want to take any chances. And he wasn't too sure if Moody knew who he was or not. His control was starting to crumble and rather than risk a futile fight, Avery took what he could from the situation.
"You haven't a damned clue, old man," he muttered but took the Cruciatus off of Malfoy. This old bastard would pay for ruining his fun!
"Brahms!" The second Death Eater was quick with a wand and wasted no time in getting behind Moody. "Let 'im go," the other Death Eater growled.
"Looks like you're penned in now, old man," Avery said in a smug voice. "And I've got a third as well. Still wanna take chances?"
The curse was taken off of Lucius and the Malfoy was allowed to breathe once again. The pain was gone but the lingering side effects was making him twitch.
Malfoys aren't supposed to feel pain, he thought. Malfoys don't experience pain, they give pain to others. That's the way it should always be.
But that's not how it happened here. Lucius lacked the energy and strength to get up and move anywhere. His wand had fallen from his hand as the Cruciatus raced through his body and he couldn't even reach for the silver handle of his precious weapon. How long had the curse been on him for? Minutes? Hours? Eternity? His body felt as though it had.
What was that Avery was saying? Idiot was mentioning names. Brahms. He'd pay as well.
Moody slowly lowered his wand, but kept a tight hold of it and his eyes on the leader. "I may be penned in for now - but I could still take you out if I had to," he replied testily.
He definitely knew that voice from somewhere. And the leader was mentioning names? Brahms. Moody certainly knew who that was. Not very smart of you, Mr Masked Man, Moody thought.
Avery felt the tip of the wand being taken away from his head and grinned. He had control back again. Good work, Brahms!
However, there was about to be a problem, what with Malfoy no longer having the curse on him and a damned Auror right behind him. He'd be as trapped as Moody if Malfoy wanted to take out his revenge.
It was time for a quick get away. He did as much damage as he could. This was no time to push his luck, especially since the Death Eaters were still growing in number and deeds.
"I'm sure you could. But I won't give you that chance. Kill him, Brahms!" And just as he said those words, Avery quickly ducked and squirmed away into a crawl along the floor of the bookstore. He ran for the door as soon as he could.
Lucius slowly raised himself up. His head felt light and the world seemed to spin.
He was still in danger and despite the pains and the grim-as-hell images that flashed through his racked brain, he felt the need to get away from the bookstore. To just run until his lungs exploded and he could finally just...rest.
Alas, it was not yet to be. He heard Avery's voice, felt the heavy footfalls crashing down upon the ground. The sound wasn't magnified but Lucius could feel the vibrations. This was good, he thought. He needed to feel reality. Hold onto it just until he got back to his haven, his own web.
Away from the Death Eaters and Aurors and the screaming in his head that wouldn't let up. Lucius forced himself to a standing position while summoning his wand to his hand. He didn't dare enter battle with anyone. He didn't trust himself enough to level a spell or curse. He simply desired to save up his energy in order to apparate away and damned quickly.
Why should he stay around here anyway? It wasn't as though questions would be asked of him. It wasn't as though he knew anything as to what had happened. It wasn't as though...
There was a ringing in his ears and Lucius knelt down once more, unable to stay standing.
He needed to get back, get away from the danger. Now! Screw protocol! He was a Slytherin, dammit! When there was danger, he ran! Such was survival.
So Lucius made for the door, reaching the outside world just after Avery and using the last of his strength, apparated himself away and back to his Manor. Let Moody have the Death Eaters if he so desired. Lucius no longer cared.
Sweet Merlin's balls, the leader was even more stupid than Moody had thought. He'd been anticipating that Brahms might be given the order to kill, and the moment the leader ducked away Moody elbowed Brahms in the ribs. As the lesser Death Eater howled and doubled over in pain, Moody Stupefied the other minor Death Eater with a lightning-quick reflex.
I may not be a youngster anymore, Moody thought with grim satisfaction, but I'm still a bloody good Auror...
Binding both Death Eater lackeys with a swift spell, Moody proceeded to unmask them. Brahms all right, and the other big stupid lunk was none other than Wesson. Well, it was going to be a long spell in Azkaban for both these chumps if Moody had his way.
Alastor turned to the wizened shopkeeper who had emerged, shaking, from behind the counter. "Alert the other Aurors by the fire, and evacuate this place. I'll stay here and guard these two until reinforcements arrive."
There'd be another long investigation that night, and Moody would relish the chance to interrogate Brahms and Wesson himself, but he'd be damned if he'd miss out on his date with Gabe the following night. After all this he deserved to be in the arms of an angel...
Malfoy had high-tailed it, and Moody didn't blame him, after what he'd just been through. If the man had any sense he'd get himself to a Healer double-quick.
Vivian was really going to enjoy the hunt for the leader of this attack. She was always the one for tracking... he'd get the description of the leader to her as soon as he could. She was, in Alastor's opinion, an even better Auror than he was, and the Ministry were fools if they were indeed making noises about retiring her...