Paul E. Graves (ta_paulgraves) wrote in two_alleys_rpg,
Paul E. Graves

A Book Burning - May 1999 (Paul)

Author's Note: This post occurs immediately following Paul's visit with Wilfred Bradshaw and occurs well before he sees Piotr/Sergei. To read Paul's posts in chronological order, please visit his journal.

Paul departed the offices of the Ordo Ravus around 5pm and apparated home to Arbour Grove. He appeared in the tool shed, his usual apparation point, and made his way into the back of the house.

He changed out of business attire into a comfortable robe and fixed himself a salad. Paul was capable of cooking rather decent meals for other people, such as his son, but he rarely cooked for himself--there were so many more interesting things to do in life than cook his own meals.

Tonight, for instance, he was thinking.

If he were honest with himself, Wilfred Bradshaw had told him a thing Paul already knew--that the Livre de Sangre was best destroyed rather than being kept intact, where its information could be used to Paul's or others' detriment.

While the Livre might not itself be evil, its writer had been. In a day and age in which Death-Eaters were outright searching for people to translate and transcribe old magical texts, a Dark Arts book like the Livre would be far too valuable for them to ignore. It was only a matter of time before the DE learned of the Livre's existence. Such secrets had a way of being found out, eventually.

Paul nibbled on a mouthful of romaine lettuce and vinaigrette dressing. So he had to burn the Livre. He still hated to do it. The idea felt gut-wrenching to a degree that alarmed Paul. Merely thinking about the prospect required strenuous force of will. In addition, he had promised the Shopkeeper at Four Towers that he would read the book. Paul could not be certain, but he couldn't escape the feeling that truly important promises made in Four Towers could be magically binding, if the Shopkeeper--or even the Shop itself--wanted them to be.

But he had asked Wilfred Bradshaw's advice, and the man had given him a logical response. Ignoring it would be foolish. Sensible people did not ignore sensible advice merely because it wasn't what they wanted to hear.

He finally finished the salad, did the washing up, and meditated for a while to prepare himself for what he must do. All uncertainties had to be faced--not suppressed--and resolved; all fears had to at least be acknowledged. A fear whose reason was understood could be managed. A fear he did not face and understand could consume him. Paul had no intention of being consumed. At last, he went downstairs to Arbour Grove's basement and approached the warded circle where the Livre was.

He tested the wardings and found them to still be solid. Paul removed his wand from his sleeve and uttered a quiet phrase, then he 'cut' an entrance into the warding and stepped inside it. Once inside the circle's boundary, he 'resealed' the entrance with his wand, and the wards became complete once more.

The Livre felt...expectant. Paul blinked as he gazed at the black, leatherbound book. He had not anticipated feeling its...emotions--if a magical artifact could be said to have emotions--so keenly.

Incendio would be of no use, Paul thought. Could the Livre have been disposed of so easily, it would have been, long ago. Using that spell would be about as useless as casting Expelliarmus against a Death-Eater. A Death-Eater would know a counter to that spell or might even not require a wand.

He did know a few medical spells. The dangerous thing about medical spells was that they could be used both for healing and for harming, depending upon the caster. One of them might suffice admirably to destroy the Livre's contents or its protections without even the need for fire. Paul considered that and nodded to himself. Better to use the less dangerous thing, first.

Paul cleared his mind of all stray thoughts and slipped into a light trance state. Then he laid his hand on top of the Livre and said, in a clear voice, "Haemolysis!"

It could be an effective spell. Paul had read Muggle biology and medical textbooks and understood the cellular process by which erythrocytes could be destroyed.

The Livre flared hot and red beneath his hand. Paul gritted his teeth and held his palm against the leatherbound cover for as long as he could stand the pain before yanking his hand from it. His palm came away bloody and inflamed. Tiny droplets of blood oozed from the book's cover.

The Livre's fury boiled into him, and Paul had to fight it off with mental walls of icy calm. They didn't help much. The pain in his hand was unspeakable. Paul marveled that it wasn't scorched black.

Scorched black.

Paul grimaced at the thought as it reminded him of the spell he had originally planned to use. He had found it in an old book that his brother-in-law Lucas Gregory had given him to place in the Ordo's safe-keeping. It was from the grimoire of Zachariah Gregory, an ancestor of Lucas'. Zachariah had been a dark arts practtioner of some sort, though not as devoted to it as the typical Death-Eater was.

Paul's defence training had taught him to attack while his enemy was down. Even so, fighting the urge to cradle the Livre in his arms left Paul shaking. He closed his eyes, took several deep breaths, and then laid his hand on the book again.

"Flamma niger!"

The Livre screamed in his mind--and then it ripped into him. The onslaught felt like a thousand knives cutting at his chest, arms, neck, legs. Paul collapsed onto the stone floor. The scent of blood and stone filled his nostrils, and the metallic taste of it splattered onto his tongue. Paul shivered, feeling suddenly cold to the bone.

Shock, he thought. I need to get out of here. He forced one eye open and glanced at the Livre. He could smell scorched leather, now, but for the most part, he saw that the Livre was still intact, just singed around the edges. The feeling that he had thrust his own child into the flames flooded through him. Paul met it with rage. Do not think to manipulate me with a defence mechanism!

But he lacked the energy to maintain the fury. Paul curled up on the floor, feeling as if his bones had turned to water. Moments later, he passed out.

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