Chapter 38 : |Chapter 32| Somonus Mushrooms
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“Good morning my sweet.” She cringed as she felt his hot breath on the back of her neck.
“Morning,” she replied as gently and lovingly as possible. She had decided to play along with Fenrir’s little love game, as it was probably going to be her only hope of finding a way to get out and away from him before it was too late… Before he stole her innocence entirely.
For going on nearly a week now, Roxi had been pretending to enjoy Greyback’s company, doing him several favors to keep on his good side. He had made it very clear to her from the beginning that accidents can happen when you’re staying in a werewolf pack. Like how he could accidentally slip up and bite her in his sleep, if she was not too careful. She did not believe this lie, however, for how could something like that ever be considered remotely accidental? It was a threat, and a good one at that. It had succeeded in getting her to play along in this game of charades with him, after all.
But unbeknownst to Greyback, the game was almost over. Roxi was developing a plan, one that she was certain would end in both her freedom and safety. His desires would ultimately be his downfall, as she was about to use them against him.
“I’ve been thinking,” she said, rolling over on the bed to face him.
“Have you now,” he purred. “About what exactly?”
She took his hand in hers and gave him the sweetest look she could muster. “Wouldn’t it be nice just to get everyone together tonight for a nice home-cooked meal? I haven’t even meet everyone yet, and I think it would be a lovely way to get acquainted with all of them. And besides, how long has it been since you’ve actually sat down at that kitchen table to enjoy a nice homemade dinner?”
Greyback took a moment to run his fingers through his beard. “What did you have in mind?”
“I was thinking on making a mushroom-beef stew,” she answered quickly. “With lots and lots of meat added in. I’m sure the guys are all bound to love it.”
“But I didn’t even know you could cook, my dear,” he said suspiciously.
“Oh yeah,” she waved like it was nothing, “I can cook. I was the one who fed my father after all. It was just me and him growing up, so if I hadn’t learned how to cook we both would have starved. And why else do you suppose that Voldemort had me as his Kitchen Girl?”
They shared a short laugh together. “Well it sounds like a great idea to me then,” Fenrir said.
“Really?” Roxi could not believe her ears. Now would come the tricky part though. “I shall have to go out into the forest today then to collect the ingredients that are needed for the stew.”
She felt his body stiffen as he immediately grew tense. “I am sure you’ll find whatever you need is already here in my kitchen. Why should you have to got out?”
“Because, dear, you just openly admitted that no one has used that kitchen for a rather long time,” she sighed. “Why can’t you just trust me, please? I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to the past few days and I have not misbehaved once. I promise you that I will not run away, please just let me do this for you,” she begged. “As a token of my appreciation for saving me from Voldemort. This is something that I really do want to do for you and the pack, Please.”
Greyback took some time to deliberate her request to himself. To Roxi, it felt like hours before he spoke again. “I suppose I will allow it,” he finally said. But before Roxi could get too excited, he added, “but I am sending Ethan along with you.”
Roxi’s heart sank. She really did not want a tag-along following her throughout the forest, especially not with the ingredients that she was planning to gather. She was certain that Ethan would become suspicious of her the moment she started heading deeper into the forest. She had no choice but to agree to it though, for it was the only way that she could get him to agree to let her go out. Her survival plan depended on her finding at least a dozen of the Somonus Mushrooms that she was after, and she would stop at nothing to retrieve them.
“Fine then,” she agreed. “I could use an extra hand with carrying things anyway.” Fenrir appeared to be surprised that she had agreed to his conditions without protest. He decided to then believe in her, and trust that she would come back rather than try to run once she was out.
“Well, I suppose you had better get going,” he urged her. “Our stomachs ain’t gonna to wait all damn day to be fed. You have several mouths to feed tonight, so I suggest you get a move on with it.”
Roxi did not need to be told twice. She hurried out of bed and dressed herself, glad to be back in her own clothes again, no matter how tattered and dirty they were. Every muscle in her body seemed to scream in protest with each movement she made, but she did not have time for pain. She would just have to asses her injuries and deal with the damage he had caused her later.
She wrapped the traveling cloak she had brought from the Riddle House around her and limped out of Greyback’s room, walking at as fast a pace as she could manage with Greyback following right behind her. This was the first time she had been allowed out of his room since she had arrived there. Whenever he went out, he would always be sure to lock the door from the outside so that she could not escape. She was tired, hungry, and sore from the days she had spent cooped up alone in Greyback’s room.
She had to squint her eyes as they adjusted to the daylight. There were no windows in the bedroom, so she had spent most of her days in a dim darkness. As Roxi looked around the room, she noticed that just about everyone was staring at her. There was no doubt in her mind, then, that her pleas for Greyback to leave her alone, as well as her many cries for help, had not gone unnoticed. She knew that she had to remain strong though, so she steadied herself by taking several deep, calming breaths and forcing a smile onto her face. She could not afford to lose it; not right now, not in front of the entire wolf pack. Her entire plan was counting on all of them to buy into the idea that she was happy there, glad to be cooking this meal for them.
“Gentlemen,” Greyback announced to the room at large, “Miss Roxi here has agreed to fix us all a home-cooked meal to sup on tonight.” This was taken surprisingly well by the crowd before them, as cheers of excitement and delight filled the room. “But first, she needs to go out into the forest to gather up ingredients for the stew. Therefore, I have elected Ethan to be her escort.”
A few of the guys to her right looked to be a little disappointed, if not jealous, as Ethan stepped forward to accept his master’s request. One look at him and it didn’t take long for her to figure out why Fenrir had chosen him. Ethan would certainly have been a difficult man to slip by, had she been planning to try and run away. He was a tall, muscular man with messy, sandy-brown hair and deep, chocolate colored eyes. Judging by his appearance, with his facial hair and more mature choice of clothing, she guessed that he was probably in his mid-thirties. And if Roxi didn’t know any better, she’d have been willing to bet that he worked out at least three or four times a week, for he was very well built. His appearance was slightly intimidating her, to say the least.
“It would be my honor to escort your lady friend into the forest, my Lord,” Ethan said in a deep and brooding voice. She was thinking that she’d much rather go alone than to have this guy watching her every move, but she knew that that was not an option. She had to go along with this, if she wanted to gain their trust. And her escape plan was depending on their trust,
“Very good then,” Greyback said in a tone of finality. “Off you go, and don’t be long.”
Roxi nodded, not needing to be told twice. She headed straight for the door, with Ethan trailing right behind her. Once she was outside, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, soaking in the fresh air. After a moment, she conjured up a basket and set to work gathering ingredients. Ethan followed her the entire time, though he didn’t really say much, she preferred this, however, as she had nothing of interest to say to him anyways. She could care less about getting to know him, and she didn’t want to slip up and say the wrong thing, thus giving him a reason to distrust her.
She gathered the simple things first; onion, potatoes, and several natural spices that grew in the area. But it wasn’t until she started heading deeper into the woods, towards the creek, to get the mushrooms that Ethan finally spoke up and questioned her. “Exactly how far in are we going?” She thought she detected a shred of nervousness in his voice, but she tossed the thought aside, suspecting it to be a useless exaggerastion of her mind.
“Just a little further in,” she calmly responded. “I need to get closer to the water supply here, because that is where we will find the healthiest, and most likely largest growing mushrooms. And you simply cannot make a mushroom-beef stew without having the best quality mushrooms that one can find.” She smiled at him matter-of-factly to reassure him that she knew exactly what she was talking about. “Trust me, if my calculations about this particular forest are correct, then we should find the perfect mushrooms in no time. They need moisture to grow, you see, so that is why we are headed upstream.”
Ethan, though he looked to be a bit confused, did not argue or question her any further after that. He just continued following along behind her in silence, watching her every move. If she didn’t know any better, she’s say that he was the one who was slightly intimidated by her. Which would be nonsense if it were, in fact, the truth and not just her mind playing tricks on her. Because, if he only knew how intimidating he was to her, he surely wouldn’t be so quiet, of that she was certain.
It wasn’t until she had almost reached the place she was looking for that it dawned on her that Ethan just might know what Somonus Mushrooms were. And if he knew them by sight, then her plan could fall apart in an instant as soon as she started picking them. She decided that it would be best to play dumb at first then, pretending that she did not know what they were, to see if he could identify them for her.
Once they had reached the bank of the creek at the base of the hill that they had been making their way down, it didn’t take her long to spot them. There was an old, rotted tree that ran across the flowing water, serving as a bridge for the small animals, and at the base of that tree was where she found them; the Somonus Mushrooms. Pure, chalk white with hints of brown on the top and on the stem. They were safe enough to eat, if consumed in rather small amounts, but heavier doses could result in a coma or even death if one was not too careful.
Somonus Mushrooms looked like most commonly edible species, but what really set them apart from all the rest was their perfectly round shape their stout bodies. If Ethan was aware of this, then she was in trouble. Because even though they were okay if you only ate a bite or two, the amount of mushrooms that she was planning to use in the stew would be enough to knock them all out for at least a day, if not two. But she had already come this far, and she was not about to leave there and return to the wolf pack without them.
She bent down and picked one of them, then turned to face Ethan. “I think these mushrooms look nice and delicious, don’t you?” she asked as innocently as possible.
It took all of her will power not to do a victory jig when Ethan simply shrugged his shoulders. “No offense lady, but they’re all just plants to me,” he snorted. “I could care less how they look, so long as they taste good. All they’re there for is to enhance the flavor of the meat anyways, so I don’t see why it’s so important to even come this far out just to get such perfect plants.”
This could not be more perfect. Ethan was totally clueless. She picked a dozen of them, and then proceeded to gather several other plain mushrooms to mix in with them and hide their appearance. Once she was satisfied that she had enough ingredients to make a good stew for everyone, she dusted the dirt off of her hands, stood up, and began making her way back to the werewolf house. All she had to do now was get into the kitchen, without having several eyes inspecting her basket, and she would be all set.
All in all, they had only been gone for a little over an hour, which seemed to please Greyback, as he had been expecting them to take several hours. She assured him, however, that she had hurried back home because the soup would take several hours to prepare and cook, and she wanted them to eat at a decent time. He was so pleased with her that, when she declined wanting any help whatsoever in the kitchen, he granted this to her with no problems. She said that she wanted the dinner to be a surprise to everyone, including him, and then she kissed him on the cheek to seal the deal. It did the trick alright, as he respected her privacy and left her alone to prepare their meal.
After several hours of slaving away over a hot stove, finally, the soup was ready. She had been sure to set aside a separate bowl for herself before adding in the Somonus mushrooms, however, so as not to arouse suspicion by electing not to eat any of it. She had the perfect excuse for needing a different bowl than them anyways, as Greyback already believed her to be a vegetarian. Which is why, in order to make the lie a more convincible one, she had also decided not to add any meat to her bowl. At least this way she could be absolutely certain that none of them would want to switch bowls with her.
It had happened on her second day there. Fenrir had come into the room, gnawing away on some wild animal, and he’d offered some of it to her. The sight of it sickened her so, naturally, she declined it. And when he tried to force her into eating the raw meat by saying that it was that or she’d eat nothing at all; that was when she blurted out the she was a vegetarian. She had since suffered for this comment by having to live on a diet that consisted solely of five to six saltines a day, as Greyback had claimed that that was all they had in the cupboards. She was ravenously hungry, and barely able to stand, but she knew that all of the effort she had put into this was going to be worth it in the end. So she forced herself to carry onwards and found that she could be very meticulous and deceiving when she needed to be… and she quite liked it too.
It took all of her remaining strength to lift the pot of soup off of the stove and carry it out to their massive dinning table. The dining room was also their meeting area, Fenrir had told her. The massive, solid oak table stretched all the way across the room and was able to seat at least thirty-two people. That night though, it was only set up for twenty-three people, as not everyone in the pack was present.
They were all sitting at the table waiting for her, with their bowls and spoons already placed in front of them, when she came out of the kitchen. She set the pot down on the table and they all started cheering. She looked to the head of the table and saw that Fenrir was smiling, looking quite smug and proud of himself for letting her do this. She smiled too, for she knew that that little smile of his was about to be wiped off of his face once the effects of the Somonus mushrooms started taking over.
“Master,” she said playfully. “Would you like to be served first?”
“But of course,” he replied arrogantly. “This is my house after all, and I am the leader of the pack. So yes dear, I would love to be served first. Glad to see you’ve finally picked up on the way that some things are done around here.”
He held up his bowl, making her walk to his end of the table to get it. She did so without complaint though, reminding herself that he was about to get what was coming to him. Roxi couldn’t help but observe how noticeably larger Greyback’s bowl was than everyone else’s. She had to hide another silent chuckle as she ladled an extra two spoonfuls into his dish. Once it was filled, she gladly walked it all the way back to his end of the table and set it down in front of him.
The rest of the werewolves, as well as Roxi herself, seemed to be holding their breath as they waited for him to taste it. He picked the whole bowl up, ignoring the spoon in front of him, and started slurping up the soup as if he were drinking it from a cup. After one huge gulp of it, he sat the bowl down on the table and smiled up at all of them.
“This is delicious! My compliments to the chef,” he exclaimed, winking in Roxi’s direction. “Gentlemen, dig in. Your dinner is served.”
The rest of the pack did not need to be told twice. Ethan, who happened to be the one sitting closest to the serving pot, ladled soup into the bowl before him and then passed it on to his right. He then took the bowl of the person sitting on his left, filled it with soup, and then passed it to the right again. This continued until it had gone full circle and everyone’s bowls had been filled. Ethan then filled his own bowl, and only then did everyone else start eating all as one.
Roxi was amazed to see that they had such manners. They truly were a team, a family, and a united pack, just as Greyback had described them to her. Voldemort had always made them out to seem like wild animals, but they were actually quite civilized. It was only Greyback who was off his rocker. By the time all of the others had gotten their food and started eating, he had finished his first bowl and was asking for Roxi to get up and serve him seconds.
Once he had his second bowl, she then took a seat at the other end of the table, directly opposite of Fenrir, and started eating too. Surprisingly, no one had questioned why she brought her dish out separately from everyone else’s. She assumed that this was because Greyback had, more than likely, warned them not to give her any crap about not liking to eat meat and they were all too scared of him to say anything. Either way, she was glad that it didn’t come up at all during the dinner.
The effects of the mushrooms were not instantaneous, but she didn’t have to wait very long for then to begin taking ahold. No sooner had everyone finished eating than people started falling asleep in their chairs, thus landing them a spot on the floor. Others were caught by it as they were taking their bowls into the sink, and they crashed to the floor also, the sound of breaking glass following right behind them. One person even walked right into the wall in his tired stupor.
Greyback looked confused for a moment before the sleepy dizziness hit him too. His eyes immediately darted to Roxi. He raised a shaky finger towards her, the effort seeming to use a great deal of his waning strength. “You put something in the stew,” he growled.
She got up from her chair and walked down to his end of the table, savoring this triumphant moment. He saw her coming and got to his feet. This was a mistake on his part, however, because he immediately became overly dizzy and dropped to his knees. She approached him and got down on his level, careful to keep a bit of distance in case he decided to lash out and try to bite her. He tried to form words again, but he was so overcome with drowsiness that his mind was unable to make coherent sentences anymore. All that came out was a low, deep growl instead.
“What’s the matter, dear?” she gloated. “Cat got your tongue?” Finally, the laughter she had been fighting so hard to keep in escaped her and she cackled like a madwoman. In that moment, she felt mad, but that was only because he had pushed her into behaving this way. Once her laughter died down, she looked him in the eye again. His eyelids kept drooping as he was fighting to stay awake.
“You’ve had your fun with me all week. So how’s it feel to be the one being toyed with now? It’s really awful, not to be in control of your own body, isn’t it?” A look of pure pleasure crossed her face as she spoke to him. Finally, she was the one who was in control of the situation. “When you wake up, I’ll be long gone and you’ll probably never see me again. It’s no wonder you cannot find a woman who wants to willingly be with you. You’re a monster, Fenrir, and you always will be.”
She spat in his face and he collapsed to the floor, finally unable to keep his eyes open anymore. She then proceeded to kick him below the waist, just for good measure, and was extremely satisfied when he yelped in pain. One last growl escaped him before Fenrir Greyback finally passed into a deep, dark sleep.
Roxi stood to her feet and looked around her. She was surprised at how many bodies seemed to have fallen right behind her. She had been so transfixed on Greyback that she hadn’t even noticed how many of them had tried to come to their master’s aid before they too were overcome by the effects of the Somonus mushrooms. The room was eerily silent as she quickly made a headcount just to be sure that all of them were still there. And once she was positive that no one was still awake to follow her, she made a run for it.
She hurried back into the kitchen to grab her cloak and the cleaning wand she had assigned by Voldemort. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had to rely on for protection, should she come across a need for it. She passed back through the dining room, allowing herself the time for one last laugh at their expense, and then she hurried out the door without looking back.
Roxi ran through the woods for what seemed like hours, even though it was more like thirty or forty minutes. Branches smacked her in the face, and leaves got tangled in her hair, but she did not stop for she still feared that she was being followed. It wasn’t until she was well away from the cave the werewolf’s lair was concealed within that she finally felt the effects of the Anti-Apparation Spell wearing off. Only then did she finally decided to slow down and rest for a bit. She was way too tired to apparate right then and there, so she decided to allow herself about an hours worth of rest.
She hid herself within some bushes, watching the sun go down as she waited for her strength to return. When she finally felt up to it, taking extreme care not to make any loud sounds, she got to her feet and stretched her tired muscles. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and concentrated with all her might on the one place she knew that she would finally be safe from all of this at; the Burrow.
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