“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, luv”.
The man in the black suit turned towards the dark corner of the London alley. His movement was calm, unhurried, but his muscles were taut, ready to react at the slightest hint of movement. The streetlight fell at an awkward angle there, and the shadows of the swaying treetops lengthened and shortened hypnotically, almost as if a surreal force was moving them.
But James Bond did not believe in such things. He did not believe in the Supernatural. The only thing he believed in, was himself, his faithful Walther P99. And of course, in the purity of a drink – a medium dry martini with a lemon peel. Shaken, not stirred, to be precise.
So he did what he does best, cocked his gun and pointed at the playful, almost intoxicating dance of shadows.
There was no response, except the whistling of the breeze. James wasn’t one for words, so, he pulled the trigger.
Bang, bang, bang.
Flashes of light lit up the shadows, followed by cracks of thunder.
“I really wouldn’t do that again, if I were you, Jimmy Boy.”
How had he missed? He never missed! Okay, there was that one time in Bombay, but that didn’t count.
Once again, James steadied his arm, took aim, and applied gentle pressure against the trigger, when the voice interrupted him for the third time in the space of a few seconds.
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist, luv. I’m trying to save your life here. Blimey, shooting at a chap’s a good way to make him regret his sudden bout of goodness.”
“What do you mean?” James asked, his voice was steady, not betraying any hint of the confusion and anxiety bubbling underneath the surface. He wondered how the man – for it was definitely a masculine voice – knew his fingers were ready to pull the trigger for the second time. The changes in his actions had been minuscule, yet the man had somehow sensed it. That worried James. He relaxed his fingers on the trigger, but he kept his gun pointed at the shadows.
“If you’re on my side, you’d better show yourself. I don’t do well with assassins and those who hide in the shadows,” James announced, eyes peeled for the slightest hint of movement.
That’s when he felt a hand tap on his shoulder, followed by the same dulcet tones against his ear. “You’re looking in the wrong direction, old boy.”
James whirled around and directed his gun at the long, lanky man who had stepped out from under a tree. How he’d gotten there, James had no idea. He’d scouted the area beforehand. He’d chosen this spot with great care, but for someone to sneak up on him, that made him wary, and more than a little afraid. Either his skills were diminishing, or there was more to this trench-coat clad, blonde-haired, silk-cut smoking Brit standing in front of him. And he did not know which possibility worried him more.
The Brit nonchalantly jumped a step away from James, a smirk dancing on the edges of his lips. He continued speaking as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “As for your aversion against those hiding in the shadows, well, that’s either a case of some deeply entrenched self-loathing, or you’re just a hypocrite. Which is it, Jimmy boy?” He asked, puffing out a circle of smoke. He then sent a smoke -tiger of all things leaping through the circle.
“Who are you?” James demanded, eyes narrowed, gun steady. He was in his element now, ready to react at a moment’s notice. This was no ordinary man before him. But no matter who he was, no matter what silly parlour tricks he used, James wouldn’t let him compromise his mission.
“Thought you’d never ask, J-Boy. I’m the one who steps from the shadows, John bloody Constantine. I’m not the nicest man you’ll ever meet, but I do me best. And right now, I’m doing my best to stop you from dying a premature death.” The man answered with a mocking flourish. “All because I owe that old lady a bloody favour, and she cares for you too much to let you die on a doomed endeavour.” The last part was whispered, but James still caught it, and that’s what made him relax. The tension left his body and he set the gun down. After all, if M had sent him, he couldn’t be all bad, could he?
Later on, when James looked back on the events of that night, he realized he’d been wrong.
Bad was too tame a word to define John Constantine.
“What do you mean save my life?” the Agent asked John. He appeared to be relaxed, but every fibre of his being was ready to react at the slightest threat.
John saw through the façade of confidence, but he elected to ignore it. “You’re after the goons hiding inside the house. Evans and Rosier, two of the terrorist’s men, yeah?”
“They tortured the last remnants of my family. When that was done, they murdered them, desecrated the corpses and left them chained together in a gruesome veneer of life in their front yard. There is no way I am letting them escape. They will pay for their crimes.” James had a haunted look in his eyes. John had seen that look on many faces throughout his ignominious and depressing career. It was common among those who seek vengeance and death – their own. A chance to go out in a blaze of glory to redeem themselves. A lesser man would’ve been broken by it. A lesser man would’ve given up by now, knowing there was no way he could save these men. But since when had John Constantine given a fuck about the odds? He nonchalantly took a puff of his silk cut and stared at 007, his gaze piercing the Agent to his core.
“If you throw that grenade through the window, as you were originally planning, then you’ll be dead before you can say Bob’s your uncle.”
“What do you mean?”
“These aren’t the everyday thugs you can beat into submission, 007. Nor are they the usual spies or terrorists. These are men of a darker bend. Men who have stared into the abyss, and fallen in love with the darkness beneath. They’re known as—”
“Death Eaters, I know,” answered 007 with a wink. “We may not know much about how the other side of England operates, but we know enough. We aren’t as blind as you think we are.”
“And yet, you were going to blast the house with a grenade?” asked John incredulously.
James shrugged. “The easy solutions are the best ones.”
“Well, this easy solution would’ve blown you to smithereens, 007. They’ve warded the place to make all your weaponry impotent or bounce back.”
James raised an eyebrow but shoved the grenade deeper into the folds of his suit. “This doesn’t mean I’m giving up.”
“Wouldn’t expect you to, Agent. Reckon you’d still want your pound of flesh. Well, I’m here to help you get it,” John answered with a smile and a bow.
“What’s in it for you?” James narrowed his eyes. “Surely you wouldn’t take on such a dangerous mission just because you owe M a favour.”
“You wouldn’t believe what I’d do purely for a laugh,” John grinned. “This one’s business and pleasure all mingled into one giant ball of madness. And you aren’t the only one to lose people to Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters,” he whispered the last part through gritted teeth, but it was audible on the night wind.
“So, shall we get on with it?” John asked, bowing low and pointing in the direction of the house they were supposed to be infiltrating.
“Age before beauty, Johnny boy,” James answered with a wink and gestured John to lead the way.
John sighed and nodded. “As you say, guvnor.” Then, he raised his right hand, drew a few arcane symbols in the air, making a circle with them. Then, he punched through their centre.
There was a whoosh of wind as a shockwave fled from the glowing symbols, and the air before John grew hazy, before shattering like frosted glass. The furnished house and posh apartments gave way to a dingy, ramshackle bungalow with a neon sign lit over a drab doorway identifying the place as a pub going by the name of ‘La mort Èmeraude.”
The wards were down.
Evans was sloshed, drooling. A cracked bottle of cheap rum lay upturned by his head, leaking liquid, dripping it into his matted hair. Rosier stood against the bar with a glass of blood red wine in his hand. He was snickering at his partner’s plight. He was using the bartender’s smashed head as a makeshift holder for his bottle of wine. A number of bodies littered the floor. It had been amusing to break them, but their weak bodies could only handle so much. After that, Evans and Rosier had resorted to alcoholic spirits to keep their spirits up. One of them, a young one, had a fiery demeanour. She lay under a tall table, its legs embedded in her stomach. Her dirty blood pooling on the floor.
Rosier had enjoyed her exquisite screams. Almost as much as he’d enjoyed the screams of the man with her. Ah, those dulcet tones, they could always cheer him up. Remembering the last hour brought another smile on his face. Rosier swirled the wine inside his mouth, gulped it in one swallow, and smacked his lips together. This was the good life. He thanked his stars that he had chosen to follow the Dark Lord. Done his bidding, served him well, stabbed those in the back who deserved stabbing, and slowly, but surely, climbed high into his Lord’s Inner Circle.
Now, he could partake of his rewards. It was only just. The world was right again, with mudbloods and muggles screaming under him, and his mighty race leading the world into a new, golden era.
A weird tinkling sound broke Rosier out of his reverie, he chose to ignore it and he returned to his decadent thoughts.
Then, the pub’s door was sent flying inwards, until it came to a crashing halt against the bar. He couldn’t ignore that.
“Halt! Who goes there?” He slurred, drawing his wand out and waving it around blearily. He was clearly inebriated. Alcohol and mudblood blood had a way of going to his head, but he was sure he could take on any muggle who chose to stand against him, no matter how drunk he was. Plus, it increased his pain tolerance and made him fight better. “Show yourself or get ready to die a slow death. No prizes for guessing what I’d prefer,” he chuckled to himself and shot a quick spell at Evans to wake him up. He didn’t want his partner to blame him for keeping all the muggles for himself. Torture, his partner believed, was more fun shared.
“After you, sire.”
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable leaving my back open to you,” James said staring at John, taking in his smug grin. The man was relaxed, behaving as if it was nothing more than an evening stroll by the sea with his smokes. He walked languidly, like a cat, and his eyes held too much mirth and mischief than was proper while walking into what was most definitely a nest of feral rodents – or vipers, in this case.
“That’s the smartest thing you’ve said all night, squire,” John winked.
John Constantine walked ahead, the remnants of the ward-lines flickering and fizzing against the edges of his ochre trench-coat. He took a long drag of his silk cut before the entrance to the pub. “Ready or not, here we come,” he whispered to the night air.
Then, he smashed one boot against the rust-ridden door and sent it flying inside the dingy pub.
“Halt! Who goes there?” A harsh, guttural voice fell on his ears, and James knew he had found his quarry. “Show yourself, or prepare to die a slooooow death. I’d much prefer the latter.”
“Big talk from a man who’s about to beg for mercy very soon,” John said in that nauseatingly arrogant voice of his.
“Oh yeah? You and what army?” slurred the man.
“This army,” John waved a hand behind him toward the shadows, where James was lurking. “Come in, James. Join the party. Don’t be shy.”
James growled at having his hiding spot given away, but he followed the man’s instructions and stepped into the flickering neon light of the pub. What he saw almost made him lose the contents of his stomach, and he had seen the aftermath of bloody battles, wearisome wars and depressing famines. But none of them had made him sick to his stomach like the carnage before him. Calling it a slaughter would be kind. It was obvious that the people here did not have the slightest chance to defend themselves. They had been the everyday Londoners, out for a pint after a hard day, but all they’d found was a tortuous death at the hands of the two bored, hungry and horny Death Eaters. They never stood a fighting chance. Their fates were inevitable when the two wizards decided to stop here, and that made it all the more depressing.
“What a waste of human life,” James muttered, surveying the carnage.
“I agree,” said one of the Death Eaters as he licked his wooden wand, sucking the drops of blood from it. He had a scar below one eye, and a part of his left ear was missing.
“I was talking about you two,” James added as he drew his Walther P99 and pointed it at the wizard.
“Oooh, the muggle has a gun. Whatever shall we do?” asked the second wizard. A black patch covered one of his eyes, and a scarred swastika lay on his forehead. He had white hair flecked with strands of midnight black. “I’m so scared, Rosier. Save me from the nasty muggle.”
Rosier chuckled at his friend’s antics and raised his wand. He was about to say something when John Constantine spoke. And when John Constantine spoke, you listened.
“You shouldn’t worry about James, Evans. You should worry about me,” said John, still puffing on his cigarette. Did they ever get over, James wondered.
“And who are you, prey tell?” smirked Evans, his wand out and pointed at John.
“My name’s John fucking Constantine, and you’re fucked.”
Evans pouted and tapped a finger against his head, miming the action of deep thought. Then, he suddenly straightened and blurted, “Nah, doesn’t ring a bell. Do you know any John Constantine, Rosier?”
“Na, but I know this James Bond fella. Works for the Queen as some sorta spy. He’s related to the muggle-loving Prewitts. Y’know, the ones we got the other day,” Rosier said rubbing the scar below his eye. It had a habit of itching at the most inopportune of times. Cursed thing. “Reckon we should do him in and make it a package deal. Wrap up the whole family together.”
“That sounds delicious, Rosier, much like the muggle. You have the best ideas,” Evans commented, spittle flying from his lips. “Y’think he’s a screamer? I think he’s a screamer.”
“We’ll just have to find out, won’t we?” Rosier smiled, the motion twisting his face into weird shapes, making it look like something out of a horror movie.
That was when John Constantine struck.
Digging a knife out of his coat, he cut the electricity lines. The pub fell into darkness, except for a neon sign over the dead bartender’s head which was fuelled by some other source. Before either of the Death Eaters could react, he closed in on them and stamped on Evans’ foot, making him yelp and drop his wand. John picked it up and broke it in two. Then, he shoved both halves of the wand into its owner’s eye. “Lights out, squire,” he winked at the other Death Eater and before he pushed the blind wizard into his shocked friend.
“Told you lads you should worry about me, didn’t I?” John said, bringing out another of his silk cuts, lighting it up and taking long drags on it as Evans’ screams filled the room.
The muggle stood shocked at his friend’s brutality. Rosier had heard about the infamous James Bond. A name like that carried weight even in supernatural circles, and it had been their job to finish him off with the rest of his family, but he had never heard of John Constantine. And now, he wished it had remained that way. He wished he had never met the man. Never heard of him. There was an aura of casual danger around the government agent, but there was something far more sinister about the man in the trenchcoat who had so casually crippled his friend.
“Episkey,” Rosier muttered, trying to stop his colleague’s eye-sockets from leaking blood. It was the only healing spell he knew, and though it would be of no use in healing his blindness, it was a darn sight better than letting the man flail and bleed to death.
“Control yourself, Evans. We’ll heal you once I deal with these wretches and get you out of here,” Rosier growled, but it was to no avail. His friend continued screeching until he smashed his head against the broken, open skull of the bartender, and he fell to the ground moaning and sniffling in pain. Rosier had made grown men cry and seen sights that would have made the stomach of a lesser person turn, but hearing his friend – and sometime bed-mate – broken and snivelling on the ground broke something inside him.
“If you wanted to heal your friend, you shouldn’t have used the healing spell. Now you’ve closed the nerves, and they’ll never reconnect to the eyeballs, even if you somehow manage to grow them back,” said John Constantine with that terrible grin of his. “Should’ve thought that through, squire.”
Evans’ sniffles and whines filled the air. Rosier had hoped he would be too out of it to hear John’s words, but it had turned out to be a false hope. He felt something wet against his trousers, and then his cloak. He shivered as a horrible stench filled the air. Was it due to fear? Was he afraid? No. He was a Death Eater of the Inner Circle. One of the Dark Lord’s finest, and a torturer more skilled than Lestrange, no matter what the deranged bitch thought. He had taken on the Prewitt twins and taken those fearsome brothers down with contemptible ease. He wouldn’t fall to a muggle and a charlatan. The only reason Evans was a broken, crippled sod was because he hadn’t paid attention to his surroundings. He had gotten complacent. But Rosier wouldn’t make the same mistake. No sire.
“Avada Kedavra,” Rosier screamed, bringing his wand bearing down on the muggle. He continued the same twisting motion and curved his wand into a crucio towards John Constantine. The muggle leapt out of the spell’s way, but his cruciatus struck John straight in the chest. “See how you like that, bitch,” Rosier whispered at the conman and slashed his wand immediately towards the agent in a roar of sectumsempra. The muggle leapt behind an upturned table, but the force of the spell shattered it to smithereens, showering the man in a hurricane of splinters and debris. Rosier didn’t wait, he kept his assault up with the Torture Chain, his prized creation. It consisted of two crucio maximas curving into one another, following the sectumsempra. The spell motions would in turn give way into a quick bone-breaker, which would turn into an organ-liquefier, followed by a lung piercer, which would lead to a blood-boiler, before ending in a flurry of 3 random organ-expelling jinxes, depending on the wand motion. It had brought down many an opponent for Rosier. Each spell was specialized to bring excruciating pain to the victim, but together, the spell-chain could even give the Dark Lord pause.
But the muggle was a different story. He leapt, skipped and jumped out of the way of spells, not staying in one place, like most wizards. He was unafraid, and he was somehow able to judge the trajectory of every spell, moving just so out of the range, letting them whizz past him harmlessly. When he couldn’t move out of the way, he hid behind one of the many tables and corpses, having no qualms of desecrating the dead, like most would.
His spell-chain exhausted, Rosier stood panting, hands on his knees. It was the first time his chain had failed in landing a hit. He was about to retaliate with another quicker spell-burst, willing to bring the nastiness down a notch just to get some hits in, but his opponent hadn’t remained idle. The moment Rosier had stopped to take a few gulps of breath, James had sprung into action. The agent’s gun began firing indiscriminately, and it was only instinct which made Rosier bring up his shield at the last moment. Bang.
Four bullets impacted against his silver shield in a fury of light and sound, but none made it through. Rosier smirked. He had worried needlessly. No matter his speed and agility, in the end, James Bond was a muggle, and his primitive weapons were no match for one of Grindlewald’s elites. He had faced them during the previous war. They hadn’t harmed him then, and they wouldn’t harm him now. He grinned before the chuckles grew into full-blown laughter. John Constantine must be screaming in agony having taken the cruciatus head-on, and soon, 007 would be screaming too.
That’s when he noticed the eerie silence in the room. There was no screaming. In fact, there was no noise at all. Not John’s yells. Not Evans’ sniffles. The sound of silence rang heavy in the room.
He looked around and realized nothing had gone to plan. The muggle stood unscathed, his gun smoking in his hand. The conman lounged on a bar table, that damnable grin still on his face. He even held a glass of ale in his hand, and he had the temerity to mock-salute Rosier with cheers from his place. The bastard.
But that wasn’t the worst thing.
The worst thing was the sounds coming from Evans. Or rather, their absence. He wasn’t screaming or whining or snivelling anymore. And it wasn’t because he had found a miraculous cure of any sort.
No. It was because of the bullet-shaped hole in his head. While Rosier had defended himself easily from the spy’s bullets, in the flashes of light and roar of the gun, he’d missed the final bang from the gun held in Bond’s other hand. It had struck Evans and blown his head off his shoulders. His brains littered the bar, right beside the bartender, who had suffered the same fate at the Death Eater’s wand a few hours ago.
Karma. Poetic Justice. Fate. Whatever one would call it, Rosier did not like it. It left a bad taste in his mouth, reminiscent of his own mortality tinged with the loss of something important. Only in his partner’s death did Rosier realize that he had actually cared deeply for the man, and he had been much more than just a bed-mate to keep the chill away on cold nights. Perhaps…perhaps Rosier had even loved him, as tasteless and horrible as that sounded. And how…how had his crucio not affected Constantine?
Who were these men?
“That, exactly that what you are feeling right now, I want you to remember that feeling for the rest of your short life. I want you to remember it, and I want you to know that it was a simple muggle and his friend who did that to you. Who took away what was most precious to you,” Bond said. His tone was level, but his eyes were grey, like unyielding steel. There was hatred in those eyes. “You took down my cousins, they were the last of my family, now I’ve taken what’s most precious to you.”
Bond’s words hit a nerve and Rosier brought his wand slashing down in a mindless scream. His thoughts were a haze. A red mist had descended upon his vision and all he wanted to do was go berserk and destroy those who had taken away something of his. Something he owned. No one, no one was supposed to harm him. Not anymore, not since he had gotten rid of his hateful father, the man with those roaming hands.
“Die. Diediediediediediedeidie!” Rosier yelled foaming at his mouth as he waved his wand towards the two, the Killing Curse playing again and again in his mind. Flashes of green lit up the room, but none hit their mark. He tried to control his anger and direct the spell. He focussed on the agent and moved his wand in the right motions, but just as he was about to unleash the spell, two cracks sounded in the room, and then he fell to the ground.
“Nice hit there, sport,” John commented. “You kneecapped the sod.”
“Couldn’t let you work whatever nastiness you wanted to on him, Constantine,” James levelled his stare at the conman.
“You haven’t stopped me yet, 007,” Constantine answered, his own words cold as ice.
“I’ll stop you with force if I have to,” James answered. “Taking them down – even killing them – is one thing. But you mean to do something much worse; I can see it in your eyes. I’m not sure I can allow you to do that, John.”
“I don’t need your permission, agent,” John sneered, his eyes flashing dangerously. “I may be here as a favour to M to save your skin, to save you from going up in a cloud of smoke, but I have my own reasons for being here, and I won’t let these bastards get off so easily. Evans was lucky, but I’ll take my pound of flesh from Rosier.”
“What did they do to you, Constantine?” Bond asked, a hint of wariness in his voice, unsure if he truly wanted to know what horrors the Death Eaters had wrought.
“Evans had a granddaughter. Lily was a precious, gentle young girl, much like the flower. She was like a daughter to me. ‘Twas the happiest day of my life when she found true love and married a man – your namesake – James. I was at the wedding. I blessed them from afar, unwilling to sully the purity of the proceedings with my hell-forsaken presence. Later on, they had a lovely boy by the name of Harry. The very definition of a happy family. Then, one day, the Dark Lord came for them. He tore through their wards like they were butter. These two helped. Evans worked on his own granddaughter and her child before the Voldyfuckingmort gave them the release of death. It was the sign of his ultimate victory. It was the day Britain fell to the dark. And it was the day Voldemort and his pets signed their own death warrants because that’s when the fucking Hellblazer decided to follow their bloody trail and make them pay. Is that reason enough for you, Bond, because if it isn’t, I promise I won’t hesitate to put you down if you get in my way.”
James heard the man, his eyes pinched close. The words weighed heavy on him. To torture your own kin, to put your own family through such hell, to not even spare an innocent kid…no punishment would be enough for these bastards. His cousins had been fighters, warriors. There was always a chance they could die in a conflict for their ideals, but this Harry, he had just been a newborn. He did not deserve such pain.
“Pop open the Gates of Hell and I’ll gladly throw these bastards in for you, Constantine.”
John saw the truth in Bond’s eyes and nodded. Then, he turned his back to the whimpering Rosier and threw his burning silk cut on the Death Eater.
“Sine ut mortui surgere et accipere munus mihi,” with those words, John exited the room. “My work here is done. You’d best come out with me, Bond. They won’t discriminate between you and Rosier.”
James Bond followed Constantine outside. The cool night breeze splashed against him like fresh sea waves, intoxicating, washing off the stench of death, decay and blood which permeated the walls of the pub. Once Bond was outside, Constantine slammed shut the doors of La mort Èmeraude.
“Who are you talking about?” James asked, as sounds of something crawling on the ground emanated from inside. They were followed by moaning and crunching sounds before a harrowing scream filled the night. It was the tortured shriek of one who had seen true horror.
“No! No! Not you too, Evans! Noooooooooooooo!”
Then, the voice faded into incoherent screeches and yells.
“What did you do?” asked Bond, trying to keep his centre, trying to keep himself steady, when he was anything but.
“Just gave the Death Eater a taste of his own medicine. Karma came calling for Rosier from beyond the grave, and it was hungry. Once the night is dead, the denizens of La mort Èmeraude will be able to rest easily, their hunger sated.”
“You-you raised the dead?” James asked, shock writ on his face.
“Less raised, more called. They were hanging around the place, angry. I just gave direction to their anger, to their desire for violence, and opened a gate for them to get to their tormentor. ‘Twas better than letting them stay there and become Revenants to haunt the place for eons and hurt innocents who would come down this way.”
To that, James Bond, veteran of countless missions, executioner of numerous villains, one of the only holders of a License to Kill, had nothing to say.
“Shut your gob, squire. It’s unbecoming for one of M’s men,” Constantine winked at him.
“I think M would have more issue with you raising the dead and letting them feast on Death Eaters than my lack of decorum or manners,” James said, dropping his gun in its holder.
“Mansfield probably would. The Dame is a bit of a stickler about rules like that,” Constantine agreed. “But I was talking about Mycroft.” With that, the mage pulled up another of his silk cuts and turned to Bond. “Now, got a light?”
James just stared at the man exasperatedly. Then, he pulled a lighter from his pants and lit Constantine’s cigarette. “I need a drink,” he muttered.
“Perfect,” John replied. “I know a bloody good place just someways from here. Let’s go. My treat. Gotta make use of the cash I grabbed from Dumb and Dumber inside.” He waved a few gold coins at Bond and winked.
James signed and followed the man in resignation, though a wry smile flitted on the agent’s face.
And as the two men walked away under the twinkling lights of London, leaving behind a silence disturbed only by the final throes of a Death Eater, hell blazed through the night-time streets of the city.
A city haunted by its denizens, a city which haunted its denizens.
Note: This is a non-profit piece written as a writing exercise. John Constantine belongs to Vertigo and DC, Death Eaters belong to JK Rowling (though she may not like them), and James Bond belongs to the Fleming Estate, while Mycroft belongs to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Only the plot belongs to me. London, meanwhile, belongs to itself and its inhabitants. This is just a piece of fanfiction written as homage to the legends and the characters they have created, not for profit. Hope you had a good time reading Lights of London.