“Peeves!” The Bloody Baron’s voice thundered down the stairwell.
Startled, the poltergeist uncurled and came into view. “Sir, yes sir,” he stammered. “What can I do for your awfulness?”
The Bloody Baron drew himself up to his full height, an effect that allowed him to tower over the quivering poltergeist. Ghostly silver blood dripped from his robes. “You should know better than to enrage the Familiars.”
“No buts. No excuses. I am tired of having my un-rest disturbed by their ectoplasm dispersion spells.”
“Yes, sir, that’s quite painful, sir,” Peeves babbled, “but sir, they’re trying to Banish me!”
“I’m sure you deserve it.”
This blunt statement so stunned Peeves that he forgot everything else. Before he could open his mouth to refute it, a net woven of silken threads dropped over him and wound itself around him. Startled, he tried to duck away and only succeeded in tangling himself up even further. “Help!” he screeched.
The Baron shook his head and stepped back a pace. “He’s all yours, Thunder,” he said over one shoulder.
The big brindled Manx oozed into view and bowed formally to the ghost. “Thank you, my lord.” He cat-smiled at the bundle of thrashing poltergeist. “Now, Peeves, we’re going to take a little trip.”
Peeves spat out an oath in the direction of the Familiar and switched his attention back to the Slytherin ghost. “Baron, please!”
“No, Peeves. You went too far. Now you must reap what you have sown.” The Baron faded out, heading for the dungeons.
Thunder stalked off down the corridor, head high, the bundled poltergeist floating in his wake and bouncing every now and then off the floor and off the walls whenever they turned a corner.
“Where – ow! – are we going?” Peeves asked finally, when it became apparent that shrieks and curses weren’t going to get him anywhere. He didn’t expect an answer, and didn’t get one. Through the halls, across two moving staircases, and finally Thunder came to a halt outside the potion storeroom. Peeves hit the floor with a thud. The other Familiars were there waiting for him there.
“Remove the Trap spell,” Norris demanded, her yellow eyes glittering wickedly.
Peeves wriggled into a slightly less uncomfortable position – it wasn’t possible to actually be comfortable. “I’d love to oblige, but I’m all tied up at the moment. Turn me loose and I’ll take care of it.”
“You must think we’re stupid,” Thjalfe said. Then, addressing the others, “I propose we rip his mind, and obtain the knowledge that way.”
“And then Banish what’s left,” Topper agreed. “I’m sure the students will be pleased to have seen the last of him.”
“Mind-ripping is terribly painful for the one being ripped. And it does tend to do permanent damage. Souless husk is the best description I’ve heard.”
“Wait! Wait! You’ve made your point!” Peeves waved a frantic finger in the direction of the storeroom. “It’s not a normal Trap spell. It’s tied to blood and I was told only blood can undo it. The more magical the blood, the stronger the spell.”
“You outline the area you want to trap with the blood and say the spell over it. So I used the floor of the storeroom. I didn’t have a proper wand so I, uh, borrowed one. And then I thought that if outlining the floor worked, that painting the entire floor with it would work even better.”
“And where did you get enough magical blood…” Thunder trailed off. “Let me guess. You ‘borrowed’ that from the instructor’s storeroom. What kind of blood was it?”
Peeves grimaced. “I didn’t want anyone to notice it was missing, see, so I took a bit from a bunch of different jars and mixed it all together. And why would anyone need goblin blood anyway?”
The Familiars looked at each other in dismay. “Whose wand did you use?” Gambit finally asked.
“I dunno. Dumbledore has a whole box of them in his office. I didn’t figure he’d miss one for a night. And I put it back anyway.”
“So then what?”
“I got them to chase me – that was easy. I floated over the Trap and they landed right in the middle of it and disappeared just like he said would happen. So I dumped the shelves over to make it seem like more of an accident you know, and then…”
“Like who said would happen?”
“The wizard I learned the spell from,” Peeves replied promptly.
“And did he say how to undo it?”
“Oh that’s child’s play! Simple as 1-2-3! You just repaint the area with more of the same magical blood. That’s what the next page said.” The poltergeist’s happy smile faded as he looked at the angry Familiars. “I was reading over his shoulder – you surely don’t think a wizard would actually talk to me, do you? I’ve told you everything I know!”
“Just exactly how do you plan to undo this?”
Peeves didn’t think it would be a good idea to say that he hadn’t planned to undo it. That wasn’t his problem. Except that it had just become his problem. “Get me the wand and blood, and I’ll, uh, try to undo it. What’s the problem?”
“The problem, thickwit, is that you changed the spell! You painted the entire floor instead of just the border, and you used a mix of different kinds of blood as well!”
“You’re lucky it didn’t blow up in your face using an unregistered wand.”
Fawkes whistled and the other Familiars fell silent. “Peeves, can you recreate the mixture of blood?”
Peeves considered. He’d grabbed everything off the shelf labeled “Blood” in Hermione’s neat writing, and poured a few drops from each container into the bucket he’d stolen from Argus. When he’d got what he hoped was enough, he’d put them back, although he wasn’t sure they ended up exactly where they’d come from. While he was thinking, Gambit trotted down the hall and investigated the instructor’s private storeroom.
“Maybe,” was the poltergeist’s final verdict after going over his actions with the Familiars. “I was in sort of a hurry and I didn’t want to get caught. And I had to do something with Filch’s bucket too. But why can’t you just blast the Trap spell and undo it that way?”
“Think of the trap like a net – like the one you’re currently tied up in,” Swift growled. “If I were to blast the net into smithereens, what do you think would happen to you?”
“I take your point,” Peeves conceded. “But it’s a net, right.” He took his first good look at the storeroom floor. “More like a big ball of yarn, with those two cats wound up in it. So can’t you just cut some of the cords so they can get loose?”
“If we knew where to cut, yes.”
Peeves opened his mouth but didn’t say anything for a moment. Then slowly, “you don’t see a big ball of magic cords in there?”
“No, all we see is an empty room.”
“Oh, oh! I bet I can get them out! I can show you where to cut! Let me go and I’ll do it!”
“Let’s just say that we don’t trust you not to do a runner,” Thunder replied. “But I’ll let you have one hand loose. That’ll have to do.” He stared at Peeves for a moment and the net obliged by unwinding itself from the poltergeist’s right hand and arm up to the elbow. Then the whole bundle moved until it was unceremoniously dumped on the floor right at the edge of the storeroom.
Peeves had decided by this point that his only chance of surviving this encounter was to do his best to get the two Familiars out of his modified Trap spell. So with as good a grace as he could manage, he reached out and grabbed the end of the ball of yarn – as he thought of it – and yanked as hard as he could. Admittedly, given his lack of leverage, this wasn’t nearly as hard a pull as he could normally muster.
But the yarn pulled back even harder. And the tendril that he’d grabbed wrapped itself around Peeves’ wrist and wouldn’t let go. Since the poltergeist had no way to brace himself, he disappeared into the Trap spell with a neat popping noise.
“What in the name of Merlin’s little toe was that?” Thjalfe exclaimed, not really expecting an answer.
“And now how do we get Crooks and Duster out?”
That question was answered by a pair of louder pops, and the appearance of two disheveled and exhausted Familiars. Crookshanks staggered to his feet with a wild look in his eyes that gradually faded as he became aware of his surroundings. Duster rose just as unsteadily, his matted fur fluffed up until he looked twice as big. Slowly, the fur relaxed.
“Merlin’s teeth!” It was impossible to say which one or how many of the Familiars had spoken. Then Norris’ voice. “Crooks? Duster?”
“We’re here,” Crooks said tiredly. “Don’t ask me how, but we’re here. It’s just a bit disorienting.”
“Like being stuffed in a bag, shaken around, and then upended,” Duster amplified. “I think I need to find food and my pillow.”
“What did you do to release the Trap?” Crookshanks asked as he slowly picked his way toward the Gryffindor Common Room. Gambit, Thjalfe, and Thunder were accompanying him while the others were escorting Duster.
Thunder showed his teeth. “The Baron helped me find Peeves, and I brought him down to the storeroom. And then…” he went on to explain what had happened. “So I think Peeves is now in that trap of his own making.”
“And a fitting place,” Gambit opined.
Peeves had thought being hunted by the Familiars through the castle was bad. This was worse. The interior of the trap was a cube about three feet square. The top of the cube was the underside of the storeroom floor. And he was entangled upsidedown in the yarn of the Trap spell and the net that the Familiars had caught him with. And every time he moved, he felt his grip on his not-life slipping just a little as indescribable pains shot through him. He recognized the effects of the Banishment spell – he’d had it explained to him in no uncertain terms once.
It was all that wizard’s fault, Peeves decided. He had known the poltergeist was there, was reading over his shoulder those so many decades ago. And he must have known that Peeves would be intrigued by a Trap spell. And he absolutely must have known what it would do should Peeves be caught in it, for he was a knowledgeable and powerful wizard! As he faded into nothingness, Banished at last, he cursed the wizard who had shown him the Trap spell with every malediction he could think of. He cursed the name of Tom Riddle.