As Pythus turned to answer her, Mythia’s hand shot into the battered handbag and instantly snatched out her own, sleek wand. She flicked it viciously at the man in black who moved with a grace and speed that his twisted frame belied and the mirror above the fireplace shattered into a million pieces. Diving behind the armchair, which promptly burst into flames, Pythus drew a long flexible wand and began casting defensive charms and counter hexes, deflecting attack after attack. Georgina meanwhile cowered in the corner, screaming frantically, tears streaming from her usually bright and alert eyes.

The witch and the wizard ducked and weaved around the room, wands flashing and the air thick with magic. Personal, precious items smashed, exploded, or burst into flames. The duellists were totally focussed on each other, one in killing her tormentor, the other in keeping himself, and the muggle in his care, alive.

Abruptly a voice cut through the chaos. It was a voice used to being listened to. It was a voice that controlled boardrooms and meetings. It was a voice that enjoyed respect. It said “Enough!”

The fighters stopped, uncertain, and turned to look at the tear stained muggle in their midst. She held the hawthorn wand out in front of her one hand at each end, bending it slightly. “Enough,” she said again, more quietly this time, “Stop it or I’ll break it; snap it in two. I’m guessing that would be serious, yes?”

Pythus gave a thin smile. “Go right ahead.” He agreed quietly. On hearing this, his opponent screeched in anger and lunged for the wand, chubby fingers grasping desperately for it. Before she could snatch it though, Georgina forced her hands downwards and smartly snapped the wand in two.

There was a terrible, abrupt silence, which broke as Mythia screeched again turning her wand on the defenceless Georgina. “Avad…” she began angrily but Pythus was quicker, flicking his wand and yelling “Petrificus Totalus.” The witch went rigid and collapsed back onto the coffee table, causing it to smash beneath her weight. Georgina’s tears returned.

Later, the wizard and the sales executive sat quietly in the kitchen of Hawthorn Cottage nursing mugs of hot sweet tea. Georgina was peering at her unusual guest through the spiralling steam as it rose from her drink. Despite the fact that a team of obliviators were on there way Pythus was explaining to his charge all about the wizarding world and what had happened to lead up to the events of that evening.

“So there was, for all intencent purposes, a civil war,” reviewed Georgina, “Family members turned on family members, neighbour on neighbour, school friend on school friend. And this ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’ wanted to raise all the so called pure blood wizards above everyone else, even ordinary people like me?”

“Something like that,” agreed Pythus, sneering slightly at his host’s simplification of a war that had torn his world apart. “So,” continued Georgina, pressing, “what happened here, in my cottage?”

“It wasn’t a muggle cottage then,” explained the Ministry official, “A wizarding couple lived here. No one you special you understand; he worked in a shop, she was a barmaid. It was this ordinariness that attracted Mythia’s husband. He had not proved himself to be as powerful, or as useful, to her as she had hoped and he knew it. He reasoned that if he could kill for the Dark Lord then he would somehow gain credit in the eyes of the Death Eaters and raise his social standing. Like many bullies he picked on the easiest, weakest target he could.”

“But they managed to defend themselves? Fight him off?” asked Georgina in a small, hopeful voice.

“No, he butchered them easily,” Pythus sneered again, “However his plan had been discovered by the ministry, albeit too late. A team of Aurors arrived just as he was leaving and he didn’t stand a chance. Somehow during the battle he even lost his wand.” The twisted, skeletal man inclined his head towards the broken pieces on the breakfast bar.

“They killed him?” Georgina’s eyes were wide and more frightened.

Her visitor smiled, a humourless twisted smirk, “No. He was arrested, tried, found guilty and finally sent to jail. He died there, half mad, two years ago. His wife vowed revenge and we’ve been tracking her ever since, waiting for her to make a mistake. Just like tonight.”

The two of them peered into the living room taking in the huge, motionless form of the captive witch, held still by Pythus’ powerful magics. Georgina shuddered in spite of herself.

“It’s been twelve years since the war and the ministry is still finding ‘loose ends’ like this,” continued Pythus thoughtlessly before his host interrupted. “You said,” she stammered, “You said some people were coming to put all this right.” She gestured the chaos and damage throughout her dream home. “You said,” she continued, “That they can make me forget this ever happened, take it all away?”

The wizard nodded.

“Then, if you don’t mind,” Georgina pleaded quietly “Ask them to hurry up.”