Act III, Chapter 4: Alias Investigations
Jessica hugged the corner of the Viaduct Courtyard, listening carefully as Draco Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott regaled the green coated figure of Rita Skeeter with their opinions on Harry and Ginny's Soul-bond.
"Honestly, I think it's about time Potter started honouring the old pureblood traditions, though he could have chosen a better bride," Malfoy said, as Skeeter's Quick Notes Quill scribbled away.
Jessica turned to Danny, who was fake-reading a textbook on the other side of the courtyard and raised her hand.
"Is that so? Why's that do you think?" Skeeter asked sweetly.
Jessica pulled her hand down, and Danny punched a support pylon with his glowing fist. The pylon cracked, and the Hufflepuff dived out of the way as the stone roof came down all around him.
Heads all around the courtyard turned towards the destruction as Luke helped Danny to his feet and made an effort to make sure his friend hadn't broken anything.
"Get out of here, Dumbledore will be on his way!" Malfoy exclaimed. Skeeter grabbed her quill and shoved it in her purse, before shrinking down and vanishing. Malfoy and his friends then quickly raced down into the Dungeons.
Professor Babbling came running out of the Ancient Runes Corridor and began talking to the boys as a crowd gathered around them. Dumbledore and McGonagall, fulfilling Malfoy's prediction, arrived shortly later and began repairing the damage. But Jessica didn't notice, because she was racing out of the courtyard as soon as Malfoy was gone, wand in one hand, glass jar in the other. She stepped out onto the Viaduct bridge and swung her wand in a wide arc.
"Accio Rita Skeeter!"
A tiny green beetle flew into the jar, and Jessica pulled a lid from her pocket, which she quickly screwed on. She held the jar up to eye level and smirked.
She had confirmed her theory that Skeeter was an illegal Animagus a few weeks ago, just before the Yule Ball, but with everything going on, it had, understandably, slipped her mind. She had used the Captis Picturae spell from the top branches of a tree in the Transfiguration Courtyard to take several pictures of Skeeter meeting with Malfoy, then shrinking into a beetle and vanishing. Now she had her trapped.
Skeeter attempted to transform, but the unbreakable charm on the jar did its job, and the beetle was forced to sit in the jar and stare at Jessica. She imagined it was full of confusion, and a little bit of fear, but she couldn't tell, as the beetle did not have that much depth of facial features.
Jessica pocketed the jar, making sure that Skeeter couldn't see out of it, and made her way back into the castle and up to the Home. Matt and Sirius were waiting inside the Duelling Arena, where Sirius (she refused to call him Padfoot, even in her head) was showing Matt how to cast the Blasting Curse. They spun towards her as she entered, and she placed the jar in the middle of the room.
A few minutes later, Danny and Luke came in.
"I hope your plan worked Alias because I've got detention now," Danny moaned. Merlin, she hated that name.
"Worked to perfection Stupid Fist," she snapped, rolling her eyes at him.
"It's Iron Fist. Thank you very much."
"Sounds like you're trying too hard." Sirius snorted and shoved his fist in his mouth.
"Did you get the package, Jessica?" Luke asked, rubbing his forehead. She gestured to the jar in the middle of the room.
"Fantastic," Danny exclaimed, rubbing his hands together.
"Easy Sparkles," Sirius said. Danny pouted and poked his tongue at Sirius. Jessica rolled her eyes again. Why did she agree to join Potter and Weasley's stupid little club again? Oh, that's right. To save the world. Merlin, she hated her life.
"Well then, shall we crack this beauty open and see what she has to say then?"
"Finally, something I get to do!" Matt exclaimed, jumping to his feet. He pulled his wand and cast a finite on the jar. Beetle-Skeeter immediately transformed, shattering the glass, and pointed her wand at Jessica.
"You kidnapped me!" She exclaimed, although whether it was outrage that she was kidnapped by a kid, or simply that she was kidnapped was anyone's guess. "I'll see you all destroyed for this!"
"Expelliarmus," Sirius said casually, and Skeeter's wand flew out of her hand. Skeeter swung around towards Black, who was now twirling her wand in his hand.
"Sirius Black! I knew you were guilty! I don't know how you convinced the Wizengamot of your innocence, but I'll see your reputation is mud by the time I'm done with you."
"Have fun with that, seeing as how we can get you fired with a single Owl to the DMLE. I'm sure they'd love an illegal Animagus to play with." Rita's mouth clamped shut.
"Now. The way I see it, you've got two choices, Ms Skeeter," Matt said, he was drumming his fingers on a thick cylindrical red baton he kept strapped to his leg at all times. Most people assumed it had something to do with his blindness. In Jessica's opinion, most people were idiots.
"One, you tell us what we want to know, then we'll let you go, on a few conditions of course, but still, we'll let you go." Skeeter turned to Matt, and a look of recognition crossed her face.
"You're Murdock's kid, the one in that Muggle car accident. The messed up one." Jessica's fist crashed into the arrogant woman's face, and she flew across the room, bouncing off the ward cage Sirius had activated earlier, and landing on the floor. The burn on Jessica's neck twinged, but she had gotten very used to ignoring it by now.
"Or two. You refuse to tell us, and we lock you up in here for a few days, with periodic visits from Alias over here."
"Jessica Jones. How angry would your mummy and daddy be if they could see you now, I wonder?" Skeeter said, nursing a large bruise on her jaw as she stared at Jessica, a murderous look in her eye.
"Better a disappointment to your parents than a traitor to your friends."
"So, Ms Skeeter. Which one will it be?" Matt asked softly. Skeeter turned her glare on him but said nothing.
"I should warn you, if it's option two, you're currently trapped in a parallel dimension, so good luck getting out," Sirius said gleefully. The old dog had been quite pleased with Skeeter's articles praising Harry, but when Hermione and Jessica had explained to him what she was trying to do – build him up as a hero so she could tear him down – he had agreed with Jessica's investigation and resulting plan of capture and intimidation.
Skeeter still said nothing.
"Iron Fist?" Matt asked. Danny walked towards Rita and slammed his golden energy fist into the ground, cracking the floor down the middle and sending blasts of gold light towards Skeeter, who shrieked.
"Ok! OK! OKAY! I'll tell you, I'll tell you!" the woman exclaimed, hyperventilating. What a loser.
Jessica reached into her pocket and pulled out her Christmas present from Harry – a journalist's notebook; complete with plastic tabs, calendar with important muggle and wizarding dates, and a pencil charmed to be ever sharp. It was the best gift she'd ever gotten, not that she'd ever tell him that. If Ginny weren't permanently attached to the little bugger, she'd probably find it endearing.
She flipped open to her page on questions for Skeeter and began to read.
"How long have you been an illegal Animagus?"
"Five years," Skeeter said, clearly realising she was trapped.
"Why are you praising Harry Potter in the Daily Prophet?"
Skeeter hesitated, then said, "Because he's the Boy-Who-Lived, a Legendary Hero. People love the brat. Do you know how much fan-mail he gets?"
"I do actually, the most recent batch is sitting in the living room," Jessica said, a smirk crossing her face as Skeeter's scowl deepened. "Keep going."
Skeeter sighed, "So when he finally makes a mistake, I can write the best article ever written. It'll be Eldgan's Award worthy, just you wait."
Jessica looked to Sirius, who looked dejected and resigned. He clearly hadn't wanted to believe her.
Suddenly, Skeeter plucked up, scanning them all.
"Oooo. I know what this is! You're Potter's, Defenders. Aren't you? This is good."
"I'll ask the questions here," Jessica said, "Now. Why are you getting cosy with Draco Malfoy?"
"Jessica Jones, Matthew Murdock, Sirius Black, the mysterious Iron Fist – who I don't know, and Mr strong and silent type in the background. Doing Potter's dirty work while he's out of the country. Clever, very clever. But not clever enough. I would have covered my face if I was…"
"Iron Fist!" Jessica exclaimed.
Danny swung his fist at Skeeter's face, stopping inches from her nose. She instantly silenced.
"Answer my question."
"His father's the primary monetary backer of the Minister?" She said as if this were obvious, still eyeing Danny's glowing fist.
"She's lying." It wasn't angry. Or violent. In fact, the statement Matt made was so monotone it actually sent shivers down the spine of everyone in the room. Even Jessica.
"I won't ask again," Jessica said, trying to emulate Matt's tone.
Skeeter looked from Matt to Jessica, to Danny's fist, and gulped.
"He's got something running. Lucius that is. I don't know what it is, but it's big. And his kid knows about it, cause he's wearing an emergency portkey."
Now that was news.
"What is it? This portkey?"
"A necklace with the Aquarius symbol on it that he wears around his neck." Jessica looked to Matt, who had the same expression on his face as hers. Aquarius. If it was the Zodiac Rune…
"Is that important?"
"Here's what's going to happen Rita. I'm going to Owl your boss and tell her what a marvellous job you're doing at the Daily Prophet and even recommend you get a raise. In exchange, I'm going to hold onto the little tidbit that you're an illegal Animagus, and you're going to send me a copy of every article you write before you print it. If I don't like it, you'll be in Azkaban before you can say Hogwarts. Do we have an accord?" Sirius explained, taking command of the conversation.
Skeeter nodded enthusiastically.
Jessica stood in the Marauders Library, staring at the shelf marked 'Ancient Runes' in Hermione's elegant handwriting. Sitting in pride of place, was the book she hated more than any other: Ancient Runes of Forgotten Civilisations by Riker O'Neill. She knew what she needed was inside those pages, but bringing herself to open that cover was not easy. Jessica had always prided herself on not being as stupid or rash as a Gryffindor. Before she did anything, she gathered facts, investigated every possible angle, then only when she knew every conceivable outcome and weighed the benefits and costs would she act. But right now, she wished she had a bit more of that famous Gryffindor courage.
"It's alright you know." Jessica had a stunning spell fired from her wand before the voice even finished speaking. It was only Matt's enhanced reflexes that saved him unconsciousness.
Matt smiled at her from behind his red spectacles.
"Don't worry about it. I shouldn't have snuck up on you."
Jessica returned the smile softly and turned back to the book. She reached out her hand but froze centimetres from the cover. Her hand was shaking. Wow, Jessica. Shaking hands? Really? How pathetic.
"It's alright to feel fear. Everybody does. The trick is to not let it control your actions, and use it as a fire to fuel them instead." Jessica's stomach plummeted. Merlin, she must look like a fool for even Matt to notice. He couldn't even see for fuck's sake!
"A great Slytherin I make."
"Don't worry. I'm the only one who can tell. Me and Luna really, but she's not here. I can see it in your colours. Right now, your aura is a vivid yellow colour with an apricot tinge around the edges. Fear and disgust. I can only guess it has something to do with Ancient Runes, particularly one in that book there, and the disgust is at yourself for being weak. You're not weak Jessica. We all have our trauma's to deal with. Some are just more visible than others. Take us for instance. I have to walk around trying not to bump into things, while simultaneously hearing everything within about a kilometre radius. You, on the other hand, have your own internal demons to worry about. Don't think I haven't noticed how you've been struggling with the Patronus, despite Lupin's best efforts."
"So, I'm just an open book to you, am I? A sob story?" She asked sharply. Matt frowned and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"No. I think you just need some actual self-confidence, instead of just faking it all the time." He gestured towards the shelf. Jessica turned back to the book. Maybe the blind idiot was right. She had been conquering her fear of her parents, of what they did to her, since she was six. No reason to let them win now. She grabbed the book and walked out to the Study Room. Taking a deep breath, Jessica opened the book that had almost killed her…
Chapter 1: Ancient Runes – What the Fuck are They and How do I Draw Them.
Ancient Runes are (in my professional opinion) the most exciting and technical aspect of magic. Runes, unlike spells, can stack upon one another for more potent or powerful effects. Their uses are wide-reaching and far-ranging, and their side-effects in some cases deadlier than the Avada Kedavra curse. And, most importantly, they can be used to equal effect by mortals and magical folk alike. Which is precisely why I went and found all the coolest and most dangerous ones and stuck them in a single book. I know, I'm a genius. You're welcome.
Ancient Runes – for those of you without brains in your heads – are different forms of written word dating back thousands of years. They are the true definition of the phrase, "Words are power." Words have the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble. And they do it far more effectively than any sword, gun, missile or wand. So, when we combine the power of words with the power of magic, we find ourselves with one of the most dangerous and limitless sources of destructive and creative force in the Multiverse.
You listening yet?
Ancient Runes is the study of languages of lost civilisations, and how their words carry the ability to shape reality.
But, to truly master the power of Ancient Runes, you have to draw them.
The potency of a rune depends on how well it's drawn. A rune drawn haphazardly with a permanent marker is not going to be anywhere near as powerful as a perfect rune drawn by wand. So, before you start drawing, make sure you have the pattern memorised!
Drawing runes is not taught in Wizarding Schools until after students have passed their Ordinary Wizarding Level Examinations. This is done not so much out of difficulty, but rather to prevent over-eager students from experimenting – with disastrous results. Ten galleons say that last sentence just got this book banned in America. I say let them experiment. Making sure they know how to remove the runes they draw, and how to make them safely, is a much smarter way of instructing children instead of just ignoring it in my opinion. Sorry, I'm getting distracted by my libertarian views.
To use your wand for runic drawing, the incantation is 'Scribo.' There is no wand movement. Once activated, your wand can be used to draw runes on any surface, whether they hold depends on the substance and the quality of the drawing. Runes – with the exception of highly dangerous permanent runes, like the Gemini Rune – can be removed using the 'Eradicus' spell over the affected area.
I hope you enjoy reading this book and learn much from the intriguing knowledge within – I know I did! Good luck with your runes. Don't cause too much mayhem! (And by that I mean anything short of world domination that's not for an altruistic purpose. Can I do a winkie face in a textbook?)
Rolling her eyes, Jessica flipped through the book to the page she needed. She wondered if Riker O'Neill had known what people would use this book for, would he still have written it? She had a feeling the answer would be yes.
Chapter 25: The Aquarius Rune
The Aquarius Rune is one of the most fascinating runes ever invented. In my opinion at least. Bestowing the power to 'cloak' a person or object, carrying an object bearing the rune, or bearing it oneself, will 'hide' them or it (if an object) from any means of tracking or identity recognition. Owls will be unable to find you, the trace will be unable to detect you, even Mortal security cameras and scanners will be unable to see you. However, you are still visible to the naked eye, and as such can interact with the world around you easily.
Using the rune on an object will cloak the object from any and all manner of detection, but it can still be seen with the naked eye, and if someone sees the rune on the object, they will most likely become suspicious. Using the rune on a person will cause even the person's identity to be hidden from bystanders, though they can still interact with them, they just won't be recognised. If you do it in your mum and dad's house, have fun explaining who the fuck you are and what you're doing there!
The Aquarius Rune is permanent but can easily be removed using the 'Eradicus' Spell, so it is not incredibly dangerous. Once the spell is used, however, the cloak will be cancelled from that moment onwards.
Possible Uses of the Aquarius Rune:
o Hiding from both Magical and Muggle Law Enforcement detection
o Running away from anything really
o Voiding the Trace
o Thievery and Robbery
o Departure from Society
o Hiding from a potential enemy or hunter
As you can imagine, the ability to hide from the government or law enforcement is very appealing – for both decent and dodgy reasons, of course, no need to discriminate. But, as with the other Zodiac Runes, there are a series of side-effects one must be on the lookout for, and the sheer number of them concerning this rune, plus its difficulty to draw, generally discourages would be students attempting to void the trace.
Possible Side-effects of the Aquarius Rune:
o Jail – usage of the Aquarius Rune is illegal in most countries (you probably should have figured that one out by yourself)
o Insanity due to no one ever recognising you
o Never getting any mail
o Fingerprint scanners won't work (have fun getting through American Airports!)
o Magical registries will not update to reflect status changes
o Good luck going to the bank
o Or proving your credit cards actually belong to you (the rune doesn't stop people calling the cops on you)
"Makes sense. Something like that would definitely screw with my powers," Matt said, scratching his head.
"I don't like this. What does Malfoy possibly have to hide that's that important?" Jessica pondered.
"You're right. I say we take away Malfoy's new toy, up for it Alias?"
Jessica closed the book and grinned.