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For The Best

Dark Hermione, complicit Harry, post-books and ignoring the Epilogue.

This is mad magiscience, with most of the actual results being offscreen, but it still involves attempting to reproduce the effects of the Imperius Curse without using an Unforgivable, and it does involve human (wizard) experimentation.

And I kind of want to expand it.

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Running in the Bear Empire 26: A Place

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Magery

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Stupid Bears…  Deline found her hands clenching into fists.  “Don’t,” she warned Carrone.  “Don’t.  Don’t say that.  Not the Bear, not the Fox, not the Lynx.  Don’t.”

His head jerked up and his lips curled back in something that might have been meant to be a smile.  “Is there anything else my lady would like to demand of me?”

“It’s not a demand, you bull-headed git. It’s advice. It might be – there are living bears and foxes, living lynx and elk, and sometimes those make us very angry. Or kill us,” she added more quietly. “But we don’t insult them. We don’t insult them because this is the county of the Bear, and because The Bear, The Fox, The Lynx, The Elk, all of them, they are here, and they listen.” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 25 – Magery

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: The Bear

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“I suggest,” Deline murmured, her voice as low and her body as still as she could manage,” that you try to stay relatively still until I move.  Also, if you are prone to praying, now would be a good time for it.”  Behind him, she move her hand very slowly towards the biggest cluster of berries.  “And when I move – hold your breath.  It would be a good idea to close your eyes, too.”

He grunted in the affirmative. She watched the bear, hungry and ponderous, shifting towards them as it sensed that they were actually prey.  She could hear Carrone’s heartbeat, his breath that he was struggling to keep even.  She got her hand as far as it would move under the cover of Carrone’s back.

Please, Mother Bear, she prayed again, and in one quick movement, she grabbed the berries, crushed them in her hand, and threw them at the bear’s eyes.

With her other hand she grabbed Carrone and hauled him backwards.  They tumbled back together, running before they got turned around, and dove into the cave. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 24 – the Bear

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Revelations in the Bear Empire

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Deline spent a few minutes focusing on her breakfast.  The bread was actually quite good; she’d have to remember to mention the place to other Claws who happened to be in this corner of the Empire.  Assuming, of course, that the man didn’t sell them out to the bounty hunters.

Carrone was hung up on false pretenses and she wasn’t about to kill someone just to prove to him that she was, as a matter of fact, willing to kill.  So there was no point in arguing that with him.

The cheese was good, too, and the sausage was actually very nice.  She sipped water from her canteen and considered him.

“I don’t expect you to like it,” she said, when her mouth was empty.  “That’s never been a requirement. I don’t think you’d like being dead, either, or being actually enslaved.”

“What do you call this?”  He shook his cuffed wrist at her.  “Seriously? I can’t go against your orders!”

“I call it being bound into the Bear.  Being tied to the totem. Being my unwilling companion.  If you were my slave, you’d be wearing a collar and shackles and be doing a lot more work,” she added dryly.  “So far, mostly you’ve just had to walk a lot.”

“And save your life a couple times,” he added.   Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 23: Morning

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Confidences in the Bear Empire

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Carrone squirmed under her regard for a few moments before looking away. “I can’t talk about that,” he muttered.  “I really shouldn’t have said that much. But the Empire – the Empire acts like they’re the only ones with the spirits on their side.”

“Considering how you complain about sorcery and magery-“

“That’s different!   I mean…” He dropped his voice down. “I mean.  Well. Sorcery has nothing to do with the spirits.  That’s why it’s evil. That’s why it’s the sort of thing that you just don’t do.  But this.  I don’t know.  Your ‘magery’….” He shrugged. “We should get some sleep.  I don’t know where we’re going, but we can probably make good time if we sleep solidly and warm.  Besides, last night…”

“…Last night was not exactly solid sleep,” she agreed.  She considered all of the juicy morsels of conversation they’d left lying around.  They would, she decided, have plenty of time to get back to those conversations while hiding from Carrone’s compatriots in the bounty-hunter business.  She settled back into her bedroll, glad once again of her magery, whether it was heresy or evil or not.

She woke in the morning to Carrone’s breath on her face, his arm flopped over her shoulder, and the sound of his breathing far too close to her ear.  Deline trapped against the back of the cave, she had nowhere to move, and his arm was heavy on her shoulder.

She considered him.  He was sleeping heavily, pressed against her. His breathing was steady, if a little loud, and his whole posture was relaxed. Continue reading

Twenty-Two: Confidences in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Revelations in the Bear Empire

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Carrone was spending far too much time working on the way that the bedroll lay.  It wasn’t like they had room to rearrange things, considering that their little cave was barely big enough for the two of them to sit up in and lie down in together. And he’d already cleaned up all the cooking supplies and re-packed them. t this point, it was clear that he was doing anything he could to postpone either looking at her or lying down next to her.

Deline would have bitten her tongue, but she was already holding it very firmly between her teeth.  He would say something or he wouldn’t. She’d already said too much.

Eventually, he scooted in to the bedroll closer to the exit.  She raised her eyebrows at him as he finally looked at her.

He cleared his throat. Continue reading

Twenty-One: Revelations in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Surprises in the Bear Empire

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Deline wished for some sort of storm, some intrusion – even a beast or another bounty hunter.  If she closed her eyes and tried, if she prayed her hardest, would a Bear show up from The Bear?

It was unlikely.  She took a few breaths and smiled at Carrone, although she thought the smile was as shaky as she felt.  

Damnit, why did this matter?  He’d already tried to kill her.  He’d already saved her life. He already hated her for using magery.  And she already wasn’t all that fond of him for trying to kill her, along with everything else.

“I haven’t lied yet,” she told him slowly.  “My name is Deline.” Continue reading

Twenty: Surprises in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Disputes” in the Bear Empire

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They walked – catching rides from local farmers twice – until the sun was just threatening to disappear behind the mountains. By the time they clambered into the slight curvature of the hill that made something that could, with generosity and broad definitions, be called a cave, they had been trading bad jokes and worse stories for more than an hour, started when Carrone told her one about a bear – the animal sort – that walked into a tavern.

“Can you…” He waved his hands.  

“I can.  Are you sure you want me to?”

He pointed at the sky.  “It might not be planning on one of your stupid man-killer storms, but it’s going to do something tonight, and I don’t want to sleep wet.  Or bug-eaten.”

“I don’t, either.”  She dug into her bag until she found everything she needed; he, in the meantime, laid out the bedrolls (there was just enough room for the two of them pressed against each other in the dubious shelter they’d found) and then dug around for cooking supplies. Continue reading

Nineteen: “Disputes” in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Lies and Murder in the Bear Empire

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They didn’t sleep well, but they drowsed for several hours, until the sun began to sneak over the horizon and Deline, at least, was tired of pretending she could rest.

The storm, which had come back twice during their restless sleep, seemed to have passed by the time they made it downstairs and into the small town.  Deline wasted a few minutes wishing over the carriage system, but even if it was safe for them to risk, the carriages wouldn’t travel if there was risk to the horses.

Their provisioning was quick, since there were only two stores in town.  It was at the second one, while Carrone was making faces at Deline’s purchases, that the shopkeeper aimed a sharp look up and down both of them. Continue reading

Eighteen: Lies and Murder in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Captive in the Bear Empire

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Carrone was eyeing Deline oddly.  “You don’t like killing. The Deklegion paper-pusher told us you were a mass-murderer.  Then you put a blade to me and offered to leave me in the cabin.”

“I have killed a grand total of… three people and seven animals in Dekleg, not this trip, in my life, and two of those people were actively trying to kill me at the time.  I don’t like killing people.”

“But you would have slit my throat.”

“Sometimes…”  She sat down on the edge of their makeshift bed cross-legged, “the mission is more important than what I want.  And if I don’t make it home, the mission fails.” Continue reading