Based on a true story as recounted by Zoë @SnitchesWitch
Justice for Melinda. Part Eleven.
The little cottage
I let go of Weasley’s arm and looked around us. We were standing at the very edge of a narrow path that seemed to lead right into a forest.
“Luna went to Hogwarts with us,” Weasley said, as he started walking. I followed, careful where I stepped. “Me and Harry and Mione, I mean. So after talking to Bill I was wrecking my brain trying to find a way around the Hermione thing and realised I could just talk to Luna.” He ducked to avoid a low branch and kept walking down the twisty path, with me a few steps behind “We were lucky she was reachable at all, she can go months without so much as an owl nearby when she’s working.”
“She’s a Magizoologist too, isn’t she? I’ve read about her in the papers.”
“Yeah, she’s writing a new book on some crazy new beast she discovered. Her husband works with her too. Not sure I like him, though, he’s always looking at me funny. Apparently he thinks redheads are more prone to attract Wrackspurts. Oh, here we are,” Weasley said, stopping dead on his tracks. I barely managed to stop in time.”
In front of us was the strangest building I had ever seen. The main structure looked like a round cave, with a little wooden door in the middle. That was the most normal part of it. From there, on either side, spurted two very tall…towers of some sort. They looked like horns on an ancient helmet. Each of the towers ended in a very narrow, very pointed roof, and at the very top they were connected by some sort of wooden bridge. I could see the entire structure swaying with the wind.
“That’s a nice place,” Weasley said. “No wonder Luna loves it.”
A peculiar entrance
We walked the rest of the way to the door and knocked. We waited for a long minute with no answer, then the door creaked open about an inch. Just enough for the person inside to take a peek.
“You must be Luna’s friend,” a man said from inside. “When I count to three you both come in and close the door behind you, yes?”
“‘Course,” said Weasley, looking confident.
“It’s important,” the man said, looking from Weasley to me. “Last time one of them got out it took Tina and me three days to find them.”
“We’ll be careful,” I assured him, moving as close to the door as I could.
He was quiet for a moment, then the door closed with a loud bang.
“One,” came his voice from the inside of the cottage, “two, three.”
The door opened again, just a creak, and we both rushed inside. Newt Scamander had his back to us, his wand raised as he projected a golden shield around the door. I could see about a hundred different creatures flying, jumping running and even rolling closer, trying to get through his shield charm and to the door.
“Close it, quick,” he said, as the charm began to fade.
I turned to get the door. Weasley was frozen in place, wonder and panic seemingly fighting for control of his brain.
As I pushed the door shut Scamander waved his wand, vanishing the shield charm while at the same time levitating all the creatures that had been fighting it so they would land safely on the floor.
“Well, that was close. Come on in.”
As if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened, he turned around and began dodging creatures as he made his way deeper into the house.
I looked around, not quite able to believe what I was seeing. There room was magically enlarged, big enough to fit a few normal-sized houses inside. The ceiling seemed to be about fifty feet high, with ledges and nests everywhere. One side of the room looked like a rainforest, the other side was covered in piles of snow.
And there were creatures everywhere. Most of them I’d only ever read about.
“Hurry now, we don’t have long until feeding time. You don’t want to be here for that.”
Trying to focus on the task ahead, I followed Scamander’s voice across the room. I had to give Weasley a pull a time or two along the way as he stopped to admire the creatures.
“Would you like some tea? I know Tina keeps some biscuits somewhere.”
That seemed to be enough to snap Weasley out of his trance. We continued wading past the beasts and walked into what was probably the tiniest kitchen I had ever seen. There was barely enough room for the three of us to stand.
“Why don’t you take a seat,” Scamander. with a wave of his wand the kitchen enlarged just enough to fit a small table and three stools.
“Than you for seeing us, Mr Scamander.”
“Newt, please,” he said, levitating three steaming cups of tea and a plate of biscuits. Unfortunately for Weasley, half a dozen young Nifflers caught the plate mid-air and ran off with the food. “Sorry, they always get a little overexcited when Tina is out. I’m not so good with setting limits,” he said with a crooked grin. “So how can I help you? Luna didn’t give me many details. We always get distracted talking about beasts,”
“I’m part of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force,” I said. “We are investigating an incident that might involve Dementors. Or more specifically a Dementor’s kiss.”
“There’s not a lot of information out there, unfortunately,” he said. “Dementors are not the friendliest of Creatures.”
“Exactly,” I said. “That’s why we thought it best to talk to an expect.”
He looked away for a moment, blushing slightly. “I’d hardly call myself an expert, but I’ll help you as much as I can.”
Weasley seemed to more intent on scowling at the little Niffler finishing up the biscuits than following the conversation, so I decided to take the lead.
“Do you know what happens? When someone is Kissed?”
“That’s a difficult question. First you need to understand what Dementors are. Many believe they are related to the Lethifold. They do share some characteristics. I think Dementors as more of a hybrid, myself. I never published any of this because people seem too scared of Dementors to actually want to know more about them. But I think Dementors aren’t a naturally created beast, if you know what I mean. I think they are partly human. At least in their origin.”
A dangerous hybrid
“How is that possible?”
“How is anything possible?” he asked. A tiny little Bowtruckle climbed onto the table as he spoke. A second later a Kneazle jumped off one of the ledges on the walls, ready to attack. As if it were the most normal thing in the world, Newt grabbed his wand and levitated the Kneazle out of the room. With his other hand he reached for the Bowtruckle and carefully slipped it into his jacket pocket. “Have you been teasing Mistletoe again?” he asked the creature, who quickly hid deep in the pocket. He smiled and put the wand down. Then looked at us, almost as if he had forgotten we were there. “What was I saying?”
“You said you believed Dementors were-”
“Part human, yes. I think it was just another experiment gone wrong, long before witches and wizards realised how dangerous it was, trying to create new beasts. I think Dementors were once a person, now trapped in a unique state, not quite dead, not quite alive.”
“And what about the kiss?”
“I can’t be entirely sure, of course. But I think when they Kiss someone they absorb their living energy. And that keeps them anchored to the world of the living. Makes them more powerful”
The birth of a Dementor
“Oh, it sure does,” Weasley said. “Had to fight off a few of them myself, back in the day. Went through witches and wizards like they were Pepper Up Potion.Gave them a big boost in strength. Not to mention when they started absorbing each other…”
“One of the Dementors started sort of…inhaling the others. It was the most terrifying thing I ever saw. It started to grow, it almost became solid.”
“That’s most interesting. You’ll have to tell me all about it.”
I coughed and gave Weasley what I hoped was a discreet kick in the shin. His reaction was anything but.
“Sorry, I get excited sometimes,” said Newt. “But what you said is quite interesting, Mr Weasley. You will have to tell me all about this incident, next time we meet. Like I said, I think Dementors were created and are neither living nor dead. They cannot reproduce as such, so the wizarding community has long wondered how they increase their numbers. All I can tell you is my theory, of course. We know nothing for sure.”
“How do you think they work? How do they increase their numbers?”
“I believe they do it through the Kiss.”
A Dementor’s Kiss
“The main goal of the Kiss is sustenance, of course. And we know that Dementors gain strength through the act. What very few know is what can happen to the victims.”
“Don’t they just die eventually?” Weasley asked.
“Normally they do. When they’re only meant to be food. But I’ve heard many stories in my years investigating creatures. There’s a particular one I have good reason to believe. Sometimes, a Dementor will give someone the Kiss and let them wither for a time. But before they die, the Dementor can return what he took, in a way. What we often refer to as the victim’s soul. Only now it’s been part of the Dementor for some time, and it’s not quite the same. This act, this second Kiss, will reanimate the victim. But they’re not quite human any more. They begin to change, slowly at first, then faster and faster. Until they become a Dementor themselves. Not quite dead. Not quite alive.”
“That’s horrible,” I said, and he merely nodded. Weasley sat quietly next to me, pale, eyes wide, probably remembering his encounter with the Dementors and realising it could’ve happened to him.
“Is there any way to turn back the process?”
“Not that I’m aware of. But as always when it comes to magic, nothing is quite impossible.”