Greg looked at his wife, worried out of his mind. He had calmed down and he had been thinking now for the last ten minutes. She wasn't safe. He wasn't sure who had done this but he knew it was the beginnings of an attack on him and his wife. Plus, since she was pregnant, his unborn child as well. Someone knew she was pregnant. Someone knew and was using that to try and scare him. Well, he decided it had worked. "Come on," he said, standing up.
"Greg, are you sure you're ready to go back to work?" Sarah asked.
"No, but I'm taking her somewhere safer first," he announced. "I'll be back in an hour." He took her hand and looked at her. "Come on."
"Greg, we can't just barge into the school."
"We're not, we're going the next best place." She looked confused so he created a portkey, it was safer than apparating in her condition. "Come on, grab on."
She sighed but did so, hoping whomever was on the other end would talk some sense into him. She was still safe beside him. "You're all the protection I need if I can't do it on my own," she told him.
"No, I'm not. I'm tops in potions, in herbology, and in charms, not in defense." He activated the portkey, taking them to a familiar house's front steps. He caught her when she landed, steadying her. "Here we are." He opened the front door. "Alexander!" he called as he walked her inside. Professor Snape came out of the library. "Someone's been doing small attacks around us. I need her protected."
Xander came down the stairs, rubbing his tired eyes. "Greg, the time difference means it's ten in the morning. Speak slowly and clearly," he complained.
"Someone put a fetus in my workjacket pocket. Clear enough for you?" he asked.
Xander nodded. "Yeah. Draco! Emilia's here!" He walked them into his study, it had the comfier sofas. "Sit, talk. Explain. Coffee!" A house elf came running with coffee and tea for them, plus a basket of rolls. "Thanks," he said, grinning at it. "Make sure we have a room open that has a bathroom." The house elf nodded and went to pass that on. This one only served things. Xander sat behind his desk with his mug of coffee and a few rolls. "Talk," he suggested again.
Draco strolled in and pulled his cousin up to give her a hug. "How are you?" He looked her over and gasped, falling to his knees to touch her stomach. "I can see this one much more clearly than I can Tip Top's. Oh, my, you're a wonder in there."
"My wife," Greg reminded him.
"She's my cousin, I'm not touching her," Draco said absently. "The magical streams around this one are quite strong. With Tipsy's I can barely tell, yet Emilia's is very vivid to me."
"Draco, hug me, not their future child," Xander protested, grinning at Greg. "He did it to Tipsy when he figured out how to tell too." Draco smiled at them. "You're groping his future child and he's here because of a warning attack."
Draco stood up and gently pushed Emilia back onto the couch. "Then you're bloody well staying," he told her. "What happened?"
"Sit, Draco," Snape ordered. He looked over as more of the Banes walked in and grabbed cups of coffee or tea.
"Were we having a meeting?" Greg asked.
"No, it's one of those times where school's out, we've got time off, so we came to see who else had come to visit," Blair assured him. "What's going on? Should I get Jim in from the garden? I think he's boxing with a Devil's Snare again."
"I wouldn't mind," Greg admitted. Emilia looked at him. "This is serious. Someone's coming after us and I don't know who. I'm not going to have you or the future son harmed."
"Do we know it's a son?" Fred asked.
"Because if it is, Tipsy might get upset when we force our son to be gay," George finished.
"Yes, she did think it'd be poetic if our children got together."
"Him too," Emilia told them. "And no, we're considering it a boy until we know otherwise. My family usually has sons first." She patted Greg's leg as the rest of them were dragged down. "Hi, Tipsy."
"Hey, 'Mil." She gave her a hug and sat beside her. "So, what's going on this time?"
"Someone left a fetus in my smock pocket at work," Greg told her. "We've only been sure she's pregnant for a little over a week and a half." He shifted some so he could pull Emilia into his side. "It's either something to do with the war over here, something to do with the idiot who broke into my lab and tainted my stone by picking it up with his bare hands, or it's got something to do with the guy who stole the laptop Emilia takes to conferences." He tipped her face up. "I don't want you going to the next one either."
"There's a new one who's going to be taking my place full time," she promised, giving him a smile. "Otherwise I'd have to compare and most of them won't equal you in the least."
Greg smiled and kissed her. "Thanks, 'Mil."
"You're welcome, Greg." She snuggled into his side. "As you can see, he's totally paranoid now."
"We can put her in the room next to us," George decided. "That way she and Tipsy can have long talks about pregnancy." He finished his tea and put down his mug. "What about household security?"
"I've added a lot of defensive herbology strategies," Blair assured him. "I'm working on your local house next." The twins nodded and Tipsy looked at him. "Like with this one, I'll try to camouflage it with pretty plants so it doesn't look like a threatening garden."
"The house is open if you need it, Emilia. Dumbledore decided I had to join Draco for his seventh year to protect them. We'll be stuffed into Hufflepuff for the duration so we can help them learn defense."
"I'm sorry," Blair said, grinning at him. "Does it make your Slytherin soul twinge, Alex?"
Xander nodded as he broke open another roll and put cinnamon butter onto it. "Very."
"We pleaded for months not to have him do this to us," Draco agreed.
"Oh, you weren't using the royal plural?" Fred asked, smirking at Draco.
"That would be better than having him in our illustrious house," George reminded his twin. Fred looked at him. "Alex did finish his time in the school as one of us. Otherwise we'd have to add Draco as well."
"Hmm. Good point," Fred agreed, stealing a roll. "If you make us eat all these, we'll get fat," he reminded the group. Everyone stole a few rolls to eat.
Xander swallowed quickly. "Eat, people, if I get fat I'll never get laid again and Draco will go uncontrolled in the house of the happy people."
"Who are known to have orgies now and then," Tipsy reminded him.
"So we've heard," he said dryly. "We'll have our own room."
"Thankfully," Draco added.
Snape reached over and patted him on the back. "You will survive. It's only for a year."
"At least Dumbledore got through to my last aunt," Draco agreed, looking at him. "Otherwise we might have had to bury me."
"Huh?" George asked.
Tipsy coughed. "If any Malfoys aren't put into Slytherin or Ravenclaw, they're under a death sentence," she told her boys. "The hat wavered so long on Lucius that his father sent him a warning anyway, in a black letter of course."
"So sorry for you," the other told him.
"Dumbledore managed to free him of that obligation," Snape pointed out. "We're waiting to see if his school clothes change."
"If they do, I'm not wearing a uniform," Draco said dryly.
"Me too," Xander offered. "I look geeky in a tie."
"Back to Greg's problem," Blair ordered. "Greg, who broke into your lab?"
"One of the day shift CSI's decided I was a bad guy and decided to take the opportunity presented when our house was broken into to search my lab. He announced I was a bad guy in front of my crew and ended up being fired after I told them that he had handled my philosopher's stone with his bare hands."
"Bare hands at a crime scene?" Jim asked as he joined them. He was wiping sweat off his face and neck with a towel. "Simon would have killed our guys, even Cassy."
"Cassy would have killed him," Blair told him, shifting over to make room. "Coffee and tea, Jim."
"Thanks." He poured himself some in one of the delicate cups and sat down to nibble on a roll. "Why would he be against you?"
"Because of what he thinks I am, living a better life than he is," Greg told him. "He's jealous and out to prove he's a better human being for being a miserable idiot." Emilia calmed him by patting him on the chest. "Thanks, Emilia."
"It's all right, I wanted to eat the guy and regurge."
"Not while I'm eating," Jim begged. "Morning sickness is bad enough."
"We'll have another case around here," Tipsy told him, patting Emilia's stomach. "Did Draco pounce you yet?"
"He fell to his knees to worship our future son," Greg said with a grin. "Said he was very strong."
"It's a boy too?" she asked, starting to pout.
"We're considering him to be one until we know otherwise," Emilia told her, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "They'll be trouble buddies instead of mates."
"They'd better be," Tipsy agreed. "Even if our son doesn't like him as a spouse, they had better be close."
"We want nothing more than that," Greg said with a grin for her.
"Good," Jim agreed. "So what happened that preceded this meeting?"
"Someone put a fetus into Greg's pocket at work."
"My smock was in my lab, but it's got my name on it so they had to know who it belonged to," Greg told him. "It's either another move by the stupid CSI, a move by the person who stole Emilia's laptop, or something from over here carrying over as a threat."
"I'd say one of the first two," Xander put in. "He's been quiet for the last month."
"He's had the flu," Tipsy told him. "Death Eaters have been buying a lot of medicine for him."
Snape nodded. "They've written me as well." He looked down at Draco, then back at Xander. "They do not know about me but they suspect my loyalties are shifting back to your side since you're family."
"Then I'll gladly walk up to him and shake the snake guy's hand and introduce myself before I kill him," Xander told him. "My family is mine and I protect it with my life."
"Calm down, Xan, no one's gonna touch your cousins," Blair noted, staying calm himself. "When will we know which cause it was?"
"Catherine got assigned to search my lab for clues, but there are people leaving things in there and the day-shift works in there."
"Your lab is open, they'd have seen if anyone strange walked in," Emilia pointed out.
"Only if they were seen," Philip pointed out from his seat in the back corner. He was still half asleep so he had only been listening. "Invisibility cloaks are hard to find but not impossible. I've got one."
"Harry's got one," Xander agreed. "I've always wanted one but I can never seem to find one when I'm actively looking."
"Or they could use an 'ignore' charm," Greg offered. "That would have gotten them past everyone but Brass and Grissom, both of whom are very careful about watching for more attacks."
"This sucks," Blair announced. "We're paranoid and reacting. We should be acting instead."
"If we're not sure it was the goobers over here, then we can't be sure that attacking is the right option," Philip reminded him. "It could be that former coworker. It could be whomever stole Emilia's laptop."
Blair nodded. "True, but why would they put a fetus in his pocket? Why not a telling picture of his wife or something?"
"Because this made him more paranoid than that would have," Jim told him. "Whoever it is wants this fear reaction. Which does sound like your enemy in the war." Even he wouldn't say the name of that guy. "Why did someone steal your laptop, Emilia?"
"To get my counseling records so they could see what I talked with them about. The Secret Service and MI-5 were very nice about helping me encrypt it further so it couldn't be used again. Of course, MI-5 was much more understanding about what I did than the Secret Service was."
"Puritanical mindset," Blair snorted quietly.
"Very," she agreed. "I pointed out that I was an advisor who used calming methods, and was never sexual but they didn't seem to believe me." She kissed her husband on the cheek since he was pouting. "I never have," she assured him. "I only broadcast at them. I never let them entertain me," she promised.
He stole a quick kiss and stood up. "I know you didn't, Emilia. Why would you want some slimy hustler like most politicians are near you?" She grinned at him. "But I did tell them I'd be back in an hour. So you stay here and behave. I'll be back every free moment I have."
"Hey, my house is your house for a while," Xander offered. He noticed his aunt lurking outside. "You might as well come in."
She walked in. "I was on my way to the kitchen, Alex. Were your friends staying?"
"I've got to get back to work," Greg told her, giving her a pat on the arm as he walked past her. "Emilia's staying and she's preggers too. Xander, thank you for guarding my treasure."
"That's part of the job description," he said dryly, but he was smiling. "Go back to work so we can spoil her rotten and give her things to make you beg." Greg grinned as he left. "Okay, serious time, people. Blair, defenses?"
"Up and running," he announced. "All but in one spot."
"Severus, the other defenses?"
"Nearly done," he agreed. "Philip and I have been working hard on them."
"Cool beans. Draco?"
"The sensing spells are nearly done as well."
"Jim? How does it look to a normal guy?"
"Like nothing's different. I could only see a bit of a difference in the gardens and only that one mark over the front door."
"The alert system is laid out on the front lawn at intervals," they said in unison.
"Smoke, bangers, and lights," Fred added.
"George and I have been working on noise makers," Tipsy put in. "We've almost got them all laid. Fred's and our path are different enough that it's almost all covered and they're not detectable by scrying for magic. That's been my contribution to the front lawn."
"Good," Xander agreed. "Any other suggestions?"
"No, you seem to have a pretty secure house," Blair pointed out. "I'm going to do Tipsy and the boys' house next. Then we're going to work on the school for a month." He looked at Jim. "That'll be while you're at that convention and on vacation for your sanity."
Jim nodded. "Thanks. Those paintings still bother me."
"Some of them bother us too," Xander's aunt told him. "Alex, are you sure you needed us?"
"I didn't call you guys back," Xander reminded her. "Des did." She nodded. "Not that I'm not glad to have you guys back. The house is full of noise and people, the way it should be." She smiled and went to help the house elves with breakfast. "What am I doing?"
"You're going to guard your work areas and the vaults," Tipsy told him.
"Good point. I was gonna teach the crew that this summer." He looked at Draco. "Where are the other three?"
"Potter and Weasley are in the library, asleep on the table," Draco told him. "Dawn's curled up in a chair with her history book." He smirked at Snape. "As ordered, they're doing their homework early this summer."
"Good," Snape agreed.
"They didn't need to be doing it all night," Xander pointed out. "I'll make them take the day off today. We've got to search the vaults anyway so we're heading into Diagon."
"Potter's only has gold," Draco told him.
"Not necessarily," Xander argued. "There could be things hidden under it. Besides, I was talking about the family vaults. There are some dark corners in that thing and we've arranged to go through them to see what was left down there." He stood up and stretched. "Other than that, what does everyone have planned?"
"We're going to eat breakfast," Tipsy offered, heaving Emilia up with her. "Boys?"
"Coming," the twins agreed, coming over to escort the two wonderfully pregnant ones to the table. "Ron, get your butt up," one of them called as they walked past the library.
"Food," Draco called as he joined them. He took Emilia's side so he could watch the magic weaving around in her stomach. It was fairly hypnotic. The other three students walked in and found their own spots. Xander came in and sat in his usual spot, looking over at his consort, who wasn't at his side. "I want to watch her stomach," he offered at the look. "The magic is shifting and moving and it's very pretty."
"I'm not an artwork, kid, go sit on your consort's lap. You can stare at our stomachs later," Emilia ordered. Draco sighed but went back to his usual spot, freeing his seat for Blair. She grinned at him. "Young boys find some odd things fascinating."
"He's never seen a pregnant person before," Ron pointed out. "How do you feel?"
"I'll be sick in an hour. Since I've been keeping Greg's night-shift hours, I'm getting sick around lunch time, which is right around midnight Las Vegas time." Emilia looked at the contents of the table and chose the safest thing, scrambled eggs.
"Try the toast," George said, handing it over. "The house elves like to put something in the butter that helps with Tipsy's stomach."
"Thanks." She smiled and took a piece to nibble, then relaxed. Her stomach wasn't feeling the least bit upset. "I've got to ask them what this is before I go back."
"That may not be for a while yet," Xander pointed out, grinning at her. "Did you want to come with us today?"
"I think the floo would make me feel worse," Emilia told him.
Tipsy nodded. "It certainly does. Portkey will get tiring soon too." She patted her friend gently. "Trust me on this, everyone around here will be protecting you as much as possible. Don't yell at the Xander though, he's got a very fragile ego."
"Okay." She looked at him. "I guess it could be worse."
"It could," he agreed with a grin. "Ron could have been right."
"It's still a possibility," Fred reminded him. "We still haven't gotten an official answer yet. The family tree was a nice thing but I want word from a healer." His twin rolled his eyes but didn't try to argue with him, Fred was being too stubborn for that. He and Tipsy were letting him have his hopes.
"Greg had to call in a favor with the corner they work with. That nice older guy called a friend who had a super high-powered ultrasound. We got to see the baby's face in 3-D."
"Think we could get Tipsy in there?" George asked. "Our mother and I are both too anxious to do much of anything correctly. She burned cookies the other day."
"And my twin has started to twitter," Fred added for good measure. "We'll let him fuss over you as well."
"Nope, sorry, George is my fusser," Tipsy told them. "No one else's."
Emilia grinned at the twins. "Does that mean I get Fred or am I going to be cursed with a staring cousin?"
"You're cursed with me," Ron told her. "To save you from the staring cousin."
"Hey!" Draco said, tossing his spoon at Ron's head. "She's my relative, you've had enough pregnant relatives to stare at."
"I was only a year old when Ginny was born, Draco. I never got to fuss over pregnant people before." He looked at Emilia again. "If you're not up to portkey or the floo, we could try the bus. It's pretty fast."
"We've got an appointment in three hours," Xander told him. "The bus isn't quite that fast, but the ladies could take it and meet us there. There should be plenty of time to do some shopping." He grinned at them. "Can I help pick out the furniture? I was a carpenter you know."
"We'll see," George told him. "Mum said she might have our old one around if Ginny didn't kill it."
"Ginny was a very active baby," Fred agreed. "What sort did you want us to get?"
"I saw this really neat one with dragons and unicorns, but it was muggle. You could still put the self-rocking charms on it though."
"What color?" Tipsy asked. "Base coat or whatever."
"White. They're not real dragons, or unicorns, but they're very cute for a little wizard or witch."
"Boys," Fred reminded him. Until he had proof, the family chart was simply folk magic. Even if it had said one of each he was sure it was boy or boys until he got official confirmation.
"If it's twins or more then it might have only read the one on top," Draco pointed out. "That would solve the whole problem about some parents wanting them to end up together."
"It would," Tipsy agreed. "Emilia, can't you tell?"
"Nope, sorry, I could only tell that your usual energy patterns had been diverted. Draco's right, they swirl around the baby. Maybe when you're further along?"
"Maybe," Tipsy said, looking down at her stomach. "What about you, do you have an opinion on the matter?" She blinked a few times. "What was that?"
"That was an incoming Ethan," Xander told her. "That uncomfy churning feeling was him moving himself."
"And probably Buffy," Harry said as he walked in. "They're on the front lawn and Ethan is looking really stunned. She's wearing some big medallion so she's not burning up yet."
"I'll go release him," Fred offered, standing up and heading out. "Eat, Tipsy."
"Yes, dear." She looked at Emilia. "Feel lucky. Greg's got to be worse than both mine together."
"Oh, he is," Emilia agreed, grinning at her. "I wouldn't give him up for anything though."
"That is good to know," Snape told her, handing down a bowl of fruit. "Try some of that, it's lightly sweetened and you should be craving sugar. Most veelas do." She looked at him but took the bowl and added some to her plate.
"Greg would expect him to fuss in his place," Ron pointed out. "He taught him after all."
"True," Snape agreed, smirking at Emilia. "I'll make sure you're very well taken care of for him."
"Gee, I'm seeing the future with restraints," Xander quipped.
"I would never restrain a pregnant woman," Severus said seriously. "They have to get up and use the restroom too often."
"Just a charm on the door, huh?" Ron said, grinning at him.
"That would be acceptable," Snape admitted. "I'm still not allowing you back into my class."
"So? I like having that extra hour off," Ron said, grinning more. "Last year it was right against a study hall once a week so I could take a longer nap."
"Or we could get into trouble," Harry reminded him.
"Yeah, or that," Ron agreed. "Hey, Xander, did you know that the Chamber of Secrets was *really* grimy, but that it had hidden rooms?"
"I'd expect it would," Xander told him. "Salazar was nothing if not crafty and desiring his own space."
"I didn't think you were old enough to have known him," Harry teased.
Xander balled up his napkin and threw it at his nephew. "I'm not, brat. I'm more than old enough to have done a report from his personal diaries though. In my day....."
"Here we go, the old people stories," Draco sighed.
Xander cuffed him gently. "It's not like that. It's a totally different view on the fundamentals of education. All my teachers gave us a paper every week. We didn't have much in the way of class practice, only homework. My potions teacher had us doing a paper each and every week. Even Dumbledore did."
"Wow." Ron looked at Harry. "Hermione would enjoy that."
"Probably," Snape said in disgust. "That would also mean a lot of grading for the teachers. We probably stopped that to make it easier on ourselves."
"No, I think some of them were just lazy," Xander told him, then he grinned at the groan from his cousin. "Even Flitwick used to give everyone else extra work."
"He did," Tipsy agreed. "We still had a paper a week from him. Though he tried to let us choose the subject most of the time so we'd at least learn something."
"If you didn't practice much in class, how did you learn so many charms?" Ron asked.
"From the books. Almost everything I know I got from the books themselves. That's another thing, our texts had a lot more theory in them than Harry's set does."
"They were thought to be too 'heavy' and that the students weren't using them," Snape told him. "They were changed just before my first year. Father bought me an older set because he decided I needed them." Xander nodded because that seemed just like Snape's father. They had played together as boys and the old guy had been a bit...stiff.
"Can we see your books, Xander?" Harry asked.
"Sure, they're in my study, arranged by year. They're in the blue bookcase." Harry smiled at him. "Please, use the library, it'll only make you better when you're older."
"True," Harry agreed. "We should bring up Hermione for a day and let her loose."
"She'd kill us asking us to bring her back some during the school year," Ron reminded him. "My trunk is heavy enough without her and her books."
"We should probably start shopping for our school supplies today," Draco offered. "Clothes and trunks at least. I need a new one and so does Xander."
"Did yours break?" Tipsy asked.
"My old one was silver and black dragonshide. I'd rather not carry it this year. It tends to lend a certain stench to my clothes."
"Good leather should be good enough," Xander agreed. "But then again my old one is probably somewhere in the vault. That's another reason I wanted to browse through the contents. Maybe I can find some of my old uniforms."
"They've changed since we went to school," Snape told him. "I doubt you could wear your old ones."
"Oh, come on, my old silk robes were very comfy," Xander complained.
"You guys had *silk*?" Ron asked. Xander nodded. "What about kids like me?"
"It's heavy silk, it'd last longer than the cotton ones you guys wear." He looked at Snape again. "Are you sure I can't? I'll wear the black pants and all that."
"We wear gray," Harry reminded him.
"I want to see this old uniform," Dawn said, sticking her head in the room. "Buffy's here." The twin who had left walked past her and sat down again. "Can I snitch some to eat with her?"
"Go ahead, Dawnie, and tell the rest of my relatives that they don't have to skulk around in the kitchens, they could eat with us," he told her. She beamed and went to do that, getting stuff fresh out of the ovens. He patted himself down but his wand was still next to his bed. "Someone summon my old photo albums from school?"
"I will. Accio photo albums," George said, flicking his wand at the doorway. He caught the book as he flew quickly at his head. "This one?"
"That one should have at least one picture of me in my uniform," he admitted. He took it to flip through it, finding the picture quickly. "Here, Draco." He handed it over.
Draco looked at the stylish, for then, outfit. Long robe, black pants, vests. No ties, just a badge on your robe to tell your house. Then he noticed the little pin, staring at it. The Xander in the picture lifted his lapel to show him. "You were a prefect?" he asked.
"I wasn't a head boy because I got switched," Xander told him, taking the book back. "The Slytherins would have caused problems. The Headmaster told me personally why I wasn't." He closed it and put it onto the table. "Our uniforms were so much more comfortable."
"Dumbledore suggested the change so it'd be warmer," Harry told him. "I read it somewhere."
"Probably in Hogwarts, A History," Emilia offered.
"No, I've decided never to read that book," Harry said honestly. "Hermione's shoved it at us so many times I never want to see it again."
Ron nodded. "Our whole first year was about that book. She checks out things like history books for light reading. She read that one a month before we started our first year. Quoted it on the train and everything."
"Some people are like that," Xander said calmly. "They're very smart but they don't often get on well with people." He picked up his juice to drink, noticing his consort was staring at him. "What?" he asked as he put it back down.
"How good of a student were you, Alex?"
"That isn't descriptive," Draco offered. "Would you like to try and be more forthcoming?"
"Okay. I was tops in my year for OWLs," Xander told him. "Tops for the years before mine as a matter of fact. Philip broke my record if you must know."
Philip nodded. "I did," he agreed. "Miss Granger's going to try to break mine at least, if not the new record." He looked at Snape. "I believe we nearly tied?"
"I had one fewer," he admitted. "Of course, I was a taking my NEWTs when you took the OWLs."
"Yes, he was the only teacher to ever get a job right out of school," Xander told everyone. "It happened in *my* family." Snape snorted and gave him a look, but he didn't look unhappy about it.
"Can I look at the album?" Harry asked. Xander nodded and tossed it down to him, making him catch it above his head. "Thanks." He and Ron looked at it while they ate. "Wow, your uniforms were much nicer than ours," he said, starting to pout. "Think we could get away with it?"
Snape looked at the picture, then shook his head. "Probably not. Besides they were changed over because so many students complained about being cold during the day," he noted.
"Well, if they heated some of the bloody classrooms it'd help," Ron said in disgust. "I nearly wore my cloak to yours a few times. That and Charms both."
"Divinations has an open window the whole year round," Harry agreed. "I've taken to carrying an extra pair of socks and my cloak in my bag."
"Heating charms," Xander told them. "Very useful things. Use it on your seat and it should radiate up within moments." Everyone looked at him. "That's how I did it. Everyone from a second year up knew them in my day. They were taught in the beginning of your second year."
"We got them last year," Ron told him. "They are really handy. I'll have to try that in Divination this year."
"She'll order you to take it off because it will obscure her aura," Snape said dryly, sipping his tea. "She's told others in my house that in past years."
"Then she can learn how to close a window. I will complain this year. I had to go to the infirmary in January."
Harry patted Ron on the arm. "I remember. Madam Pomfrey made a serious complaint against her for it. It was warmer next class."
"Yeah, then it went right back to being cold," Ron reminded him. "At least Defense is warm."
"The library was really cold this year too," Draco put in. The other students and teachers nodded. "We'll have to fix that somehow."
"The heating system is coal and it's breaking down slowly," Snape told him. "We've had offers to put in a new system but it would require a lot of work."
"We'd help if we had to," Ron told him. "Can't they use the same ducts?"
"They'd have to run a few new ones," Xander told him. "I found a *lot* of collapsed and closed ducts. If they put in gas, we'll have some headaches," he told his cousin.
"We might, but it would hopefully be warmer."
"Except in Herbology and Magical Creatures," Draco said dryly. "Herbology had a few frozen plants last year because of the cloudy weather. That's why we learned heating charms."
"At least they have a full map now so they can see where they've got ducts and all that," Xander told him, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I'll keep you warm."
"That's true, we'll be in a higher room this year," Draco said thoughtfully. "We'll have to insulate the walls against the breezes."
"We need to figure out why the school's letting itself go," Emilia retorted. "The school's magical and semi-sentient. It should have kept itself in pristine condition for far longer."
"It's over a thousand years old, Emilia, there's every chance that the charms and spells have worn out," Xander gently reminded her. "You should suggest that to the Headmaster though, it might be helpful."
"Speaking of suggestions," Fred put in. "We got a nice one from a customer and she said you said to send it?"
"Giving it to me didn't do her any good," Xander said, grinning at them. "I told her to send it to you because you were more likely to listen to a customer than to me." He turned up the naughtiness of the grin. "Of course, she said she was including a note for Dawn too."
"She did. We gave it to her last week," George told him. "It was a good idea."
"It was, but it'd mean we'd have to totally rearrange the store," Fred argued.
"You've got cheap labor here," Xander said, breaking into the argument. "Pay the kids a few sickles an hour, have them help you by floating and moving."
"What we really need is a bigger store," George told him. "The lab is nice, but the store itself is rather cramped."
"That place beside Ollivander's is still up for grabs," Tipsy reminded him.
"Yes, but it smelled like mildew. The floors were bad. We need somewhere larger than that as well. It's got a smaller back area and we'd still have to rent space to store our supplies."
Harry coughed. "In the paper yesterday it said the person next to Madam Malkin's was going out of business," he offered. "That's a huge store, but it probably smells as well since it had potions components."
"Yes, but that sort of stench can be cleaned out," Fred said thoughtfully. "Any idea when?"
"Next week sometime," Snape told him, wiping his mouth. "She owned the building however."
"Maybe she'd let us rent it off her for now," Fred noted.
"Or maybe we can make small payments on it each month," George agreed. "Thank you, we'll pop down to talk to her today." He looked at the clock on his mate's wrist. "We should be heading off anyway probably. It's only an hour before we open."
"And you thought shopkeepers got to sleep in," Ron teased.
"We do if we don't have to stock," George told him.
"We only have to get up during the holidays," Fred agreed, wiping his mouth. He made a small package of some biscuits and gave Tipsy a kiss. "You behave today and we'll make you something startling later."
"Totally shocking," George agreed, stealing his own kiss and a wink as well. They headed off to do the shop.
"They're going to electrocute you?" Snape asked.
"They're trying very hard not to," Tipsy said, smirking at him. "Those two can be horrible. They've just got rotten days where the most wicked things come to mind." Fred ran back in and stole another kiss, giving her a wink of his own. "Sorry, love."
"What? We do have days when we're horrible and rotten, but you always seem to enjoy them," he said, giving her a wicked grin. "Just for that, we should blow you up as well." He grabbed his pen from the table and headed back.
"You know, they make protection orders against threats like that," Buffy pointed out from the doorway. "Xander, why are your relatives muttering about you?"
"Because I told them to quit hiding and sulking. I want to be able to eat with them," he called. "They are my family and they're eating normal human food so I want to see them at meals at the least."
"Your Aunt Maise is upset about other things," Des called as she walked past the doorway. "Buffy, I've had your usual room made up, dear. You can take Dawn down if you want. She promised not to touch the alchemy set."
"Thanks. She did look like she needed a nap."
"She was doing her summer homework and fell asleep in the library last night," Xander said with a shrug. "That was after I had retired to go read for a while."
"At least she got a comfy chair. We fell asleep on the table," Harry added, smiling at her. "Being undead seems to agree with you."
"Thanks. It's a much easier beauty routine now." She went to gather up her sleepy little sister and take her downstairs to talk in the safety of the dark rooms.
"Tipsy, if you and Emilia wanted to take the bus you should probably summon it soon," Snape reminded her.
"Yup, we should," Emilia agreed, finishing up her eggs. "Wow, I'm not sick at all." She grabbed a few more muffins to take with her.
They walked out and the boys looked at Xander. "What about Dawn?" Ron asked.
"Leave her here this afternoon so she can spend some time with Buffy," Xander decided. "She can help in the lab and swamp tonight." They nodded. "Hurry up then take your showers. We'll leave in two hours. That'll give us time to browse the alley before heading down."
The three boys nodded and went to do that, hurrying to their respective bathrooms. Harry pounced Ron to wrestle him for first shower, while Draco took his usual spot in Xander's.
Xander stood up. "I'm going to take one as well. The rest of you eat, relax, play hookie, whatever. If you're coming with us, we'll be going in two hours." He headed out to take a shower with his consort. He loved a wet and slippery Draco.
Xander looked at the paperwork for the family vaults, counting the keys. "Why do I have sixteen?" He looked at the goblin working with them. "I only had five before."
"We transferred things back for you, plus those are the family vaults. You are now old enough to get into them again," he told him. "Most of them are the usual size, only four are storage areas." He led the way to the cart, letting him get inside and driving them himself. The human's consort and apprentices followed behind them in another cart.
When they got to the ledge, Ron stared at the first vault. "So that's how they do that," he murmured, staring at the lock mechanism.
Xander reached back and tapped him. "Curse breakers aren't allowed to talk about anything we see down here," he ordered. "Even if most of us can figure out how to dismantle a vault without getting caught in the security system."
"I can see how they shield them," Draco offered. "The lock is nearly blank to my sight."
"It should be, Ron and Harry have lock sensing abilities, you have power sensing abilities," Xander told him. "The Gringotts training program brings the curse breakers down here in their last year to see who can and who can't figure things out." The goblin stared at him, barely blinking. "They are my apprentices and my consort."
"We'll have to remember that," he told him, letting them into the first vault. He tapped Ron on the arm. "If you tell anyone, you are liable for damages and for anything stolen as a result."
"I'm one of the good guys, relax," Ron said as he walked inside.
Harry nodded. "He is. He's my buddy." He followed inside as well, looking at the large quantity of boxes. "Xander, I thought you said you unpacked everything."
"I thought I did," Xander said, looking back at the goblin. "Didn't I?"
"You could not enter these until you were twenty without permission," he reminded him. "These are mostly books by our manifest."
Xander walked over and opened a box. "Gee, not quite a book," he said as he pulled out a scarlet dress. A very old fashioned Victorian scarlet dress. "I wonder which one this belonged to?" He checked the tag but it didn't have a name. "Any idea?"
"Probably your mother," Ron offered. "Or your grandmother?"
"Maybe," Xander agreed, putting it back. The next one down was a brilliant blue. "We had some peacocks in the family." He looked at the goblin. "Can you please have someone call my father? Tell him I'd like an explanation for some of this stuff?"
"Of course." He walked out to the cart and the second cart took off to pass along that message. Curse breaker or not, they weren't leaving this group down here. An older man joined the group a few minutes later, and he let him inside since he looked just like the key holder.
"Son?" Ron held up a dress. "Your Aunt Elhimina."
"Who?" Xander asked.
"My older sister. She died the year you were born, son." He patted him on the back before taking the dress to look at for himself. "These have held up very well." He folded it and put it into the box. "I didn't know what to do when the storage building was destroyed so I added them with the rest of everything." He patted Xander on the back. "Alex, there's a lot of the family you never knew. Me waiting so long to have you meant that you missed a good portion of the older family dying off."
"I thought they had all died a long time before I was born."
"Elhimina was the last," he admitted with a wry grin. "She was a stubborn old bat. She and I felt about the same way as you and Justinius did to each other."
"That sense that he was adopted?"
"That as well," his father said tolerantly. Alex and Justinius had always looked at each other like one of them belonged to some strange foreign family and that they had been adopted on a whim. "Justinius is exactly like most of the older generations. That's why my mother never really stood him." He pinched Alex on the arm. "What else have you found?"
"This one is supposed to have books but we're not sure where," Xander admitted, looking at all the boxes. "Most of what we've found in here is clothes."
"We should find a way to show them off," Ron offered. It was a good suggestion to him. "That way they wouldn't have to grow old in here."
"With this family's luck, Elhimina would show up and sour us to death," Xander's father told him. "I've got a small portrait done of her but she never embodied it. She thought those were bad and would keep her from a happy afterlife."
"Dad, I've been meaning to ask, why is Grandma Des doing that?"
"Because she wants her family back and strong again, son. She thinks you need the family." He gave him a gentle stroke to the arm. "Is she wrong?"
"No, I missed most of you, but she's pulling the stronger family members first. I'd almost rather have you and Missy back instead of Mel."
"I know, son. Don't worry, Mel's going to search for the family in Russia."
"They died during the sweeps Stalin did, dad. There's almost none of us left."
"Yes, but I don't want to deal with Mel any more than you do, son, she's too much like your mother. This makes her go *far* away." He turned to look at all the boxes. "All these are clothes?"
"I've only seen a few books," Harry told him. "We're putting a label sticker on each box to mark the contents. Some of these clothes are really old." He pointed at Ron's box. "That one looks like it could have been around when the school was founded."
"It's possible," Xander admitted. "Our family was dragged with the Christian Romans. The family's presence in the isles is actually a few years older than Hogwarts'." He took the dress to look at, smiling at the delicateness of the fabric. "This would look great on Dawn."
"It would," Draco admitted. "But I doubt she'd wear it."
The pale lavender fabric winked at them in the muted torch light. It was delicately embroidered and very well done. "We could take it and have it remade in a modern fabric," Ron offered. "She would look stunning in that and we do have a ball again this year."
"I think we can do that," Xander agreed, packing it with the paintings he had found of other family members. "Someone search the edges as well."
"I did," Harry told him. He pointed at a small velvet box. "That was hiding off to the side."
Xander's father gasped and walked over, opening it. Then he pressed it against his chest. "Your mother's wedding jewelry," he said, smiling at his son.
"Put it in the box, dad," Xander said, grinning at him. "I should call her and tell her."
"Son, did you know that Des is wondering if you were tainted?" his father asked. "The only people you seem to know these days are vampires, demons, and those who hunt them."
"And Weasleys," Xander defended.
"And Weasleys," his father admitted. "She and Molly were both tutting about your friends, son. She would like it if you brought home a *normal* witch or wizard, or even a muggle."
"Okay, I'll bring Tara over," he told him.
"No, son, she still fights. She's gotten to the point where she considers Ethan a nice wizard for you to hang out with."
Xander shrugged. "Such is my life."
"Maybe he'll make some new friends when he's forced to take this year with us," Harry told him. "I could bring over Hermione. She'd probably love her."
"She might," Xander's dad agreed. "What about that nice Longbottom boy?"
"I can invite him over too," Harry told him. That got his hair ruffled and he earned a smile. "I'll invite him over for lunch sometime this week." He went back to looking and found something, gasping. "Xander!" He held up the painting, a very naked Xander-looking young man. He was leaning against his horse and giving the artist a sultry look.
"Wasn't me," Xander told him. "That must have been Cleo's boy, what's-his-name."
"Theo," his father said patiently. "Theodore Rastminian."
"Yeah, him," Xander agreed with a grin for his old man. "He was a dead-ringer for me and he was as much a slut as I ever was." He looked at the painting. "Though, I'm bigger than he is. He must have been cold. Either that or he had to work harder in bed."
Draco looked at the painting. "Can we have a copy of that for our room?" he asked.
"Theo may have been the world's earliest underwear model, but I don't do nude pictures, Draco. If you want to see me nude, you have to ask me to take off my clothes."
"Fine," he said, motioning Harry to put it into the box when Xander's back was turned. It was slipped in and he found another painting of the same man. "Xander, did he have a charmed painting?" he asked, holding it up.
"Yes, and it was probably put into the vault for a reason," Xander said dryly. He looked at the held-up painting, watching it sneeze. "Hey, Theo. You comfy in here or did you want to join the wall?"
"I wouldn't mind seeing something other than the back of the painting in front of mine," he said bitterly. "Why was I stuffed down here?"
"The house was destroyed." Xander took the painting and tossed it onto the box, then he walked over and took out the nude one, putting it into the box he had been going through. "Are we done?"
"No, my box had many paintings," Theo told him.
"I've found them," Draco assured him. "Most of them are blank." He handed over the box so they could see if they could restore them. Then they packed up the second cart with the boxes and let Harry take it back to the house. He'd come back to collect everything else as it came free, switching with Ron if this went on too long.
Xander looked at the pile of boxes, shaking his head and groaning. "All right, each of you take a box, make an inventory, and give me the list." His Aunt Cordy kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks. Where did you put my old trunk?"
"Upstairs, Alex. On your bed." She smiled. "Go have a snuggle with your consort. This is boring work."
"Okay. Don't let Theo talk you into putting his nude painting up in the entry. Everyone thought it was me." He stole Draco from behind his pile and went to have loud, noisy sex with him. It was what his family liked to hear and he was happy to oblige them.
Aunt Cordy looked at her helpers. Then she smiled. "We're going to do what he said. First of all, Dawn, I want you to do all the clothes. We'll make independent piles outside of the boxes. The boxes are nasty and must be destroyed soon." Everyone nodded. "Ron, take the jewelry. Harry, anything that looks like an artifact. I'll take the paintings since I know most of them and any books go to Des." They nodded and started to divvy out the boxes, making piles in front of everyone's chair for them. Aunt Cordy whistled when she saw the nude painting that had been snuck back into the boxes, then shook her head. "That boy was so naughty."
"Where did he fit in?" Harry asked.
"Theo was my uncle, Harry. I'm Alex's maternal aunt. There's been some remixing within the family so you'll find people that look just like him on both sides." She made a note on her parchment and put the first two aside after smiling at the people in them. "Oh, here's one you should know," she said happily, holding it up. "This is your grandmother."
"The one Xander slept with?" Ron asked. She nodded. "Cool." He nudged Harry. "That's your paternal grandma, right?"
"Definitely," she agreed, smiling at him. "That's very good memorization, Ron." She made a note and uncovered the next one. "How did this one get in here?"
"We kept removing it but it kept moving back," Harry told her. "We tried to get rid of it."
"That's fine." She got up and went to put it into a closet. She didn't want to see Alex's holy maiden. She came back and sat down again, sighing in relief. "If he sees that one, expect him to get very upset."
Des nodded. "We'll put her away later. He never goes into the attic for anything." She unpacked another box, putting the contents in front of the right people. "Are there any more boxes?"
"Two," Harry told her, pointing at them. "One of them I know has Xander's mother's wedding jewelry in it. The other was from the last vault I think."
"I think that second one was Xander's stuff," Ron agreed.
Des and Cordy both got up to examine the boxes, finding the jewelry quickly. Des had it sent to her baby boy and Cordy confiscated another nude Theo painting. This one was a bit more explicit and the children didn't need to see that. Maybe she'd put them in that nice boy Philip's room.
Dawn accepted the package from the owl, squealing and bouncing in delight. She knew who it was from, the card on it said so and Xander had told her to expect this. She unwrapped it and stood up, holding the dress up to her body. "Oh, my God," she squealed, bouncing over to hug and kiss the people who had found it. "This is so cool! I love this. I'm gonna go try it on right now," she said, taking it to the nearest bathroom to try on.
"I think she likes it," Xander noted, digging into his broccoli.
"Hopefully it'll make her look just as good as we think," Ron agreed.
Dawn came back and it was clear she hadn't been able to wear her bra under the dress. It was too thin and it was very obvious because the house was a little chilly. She twirled and the skirt flowed up a bit, but it generally skimmed her body fairly closely. It was soft, thin, and beautifully embroidered. "Is this the bomb or what?" she demanded.
Ron leered. "I think you're wonderful in it."
She gave him a gentle kiss. "That's good. Can I wear this to the Yule Ball?"
"Not unless you can find underthings," Aunt Cordy told her. "Alex, that dress has got to be ancient. Did you find it in the stored boxes?"
He nodded. "That's a copy of the original. The original had thread of gold embroidery. It looked like a court gown. I thought Dawn needed something special."
"I *so* love this," she assured him, coming over to hug him. "Do I look good in this?" she asked Grandma Des.
"You look chilly, child. Go put on your regular clothes. I'm sure that's for the midsummer holidays." She nodded and trotted back to the bathroom to go change. "Alex, that dress could be obscene on her."
"We'll find her a slip or something," Aunt Cordy told her. "We'll have to take a picture of her in that as well."
"We will," Des agreed. "She looked very grown up in it." She noticed Ron was shifting. "Not in the house, young man." Ron stood up and went to kidnap Dawn to the gazebo she had found earlier in the week. "Alex, you're corrupting him!"
"I am not," he retorted with a grin. "If I had seen Draco in something that made him look like that, I'd be stealing him too. It's a good thing I consider Dawn to be my little sister."
"Definitely," Draco agreed. "She looked hot enough in that to even make me notice how perky her breasts are."
"Draco!" Harry said in disgust.
"I'm not poaching, simply noticing. I wonder if a thicker fabric would look as nice on her."
"Probably," Xander agreed. "Dawn is one hot thing."
"She was," Des agreed. "We should keep some cold water around in case Ron catches fire." They shared a look. She'd be telling Molly about this later.
He shrugged and accepted it. "We should think about that in white velvet for the Yule Ball."
"We should," Harry agreed. "She'd look like she was getting married though."
"Not necessarily a bad thing, young man. Girls in my day made their own wedding dresses as soon as their womanly cycles evened out and hung them in their closets to wait. That way there wasn't any delay so the young man couldn't back out."
"I thought most of the marriages were assigned," Draco said.
"Some were arranged, some not. Usually, if a girl came home and told her father that she liked so-and-so in the village then he might arrange it. As long as they weren't wealthy, there wasn't any instability, and there weren't any problems in his family line. If they were wealthy then family lines were more harshly judged. People in your class were often betrothed to their cousins before birth. That way the family money couldn't escape the family."
"And woe any son who went outside it," Xander said dryly. "Quit scaring him with tales of inbreeding, Grandma. He's probably got enough of that in his family line that he's worried about it."
"Sorry I'm late," Philip said as he walked in. He looked at the occupied seats. "Ron and Dawn?"
"Her new dress came and it was so hot Ron needed to take a breather outside," Xander told him.
Philip chuckled. "I'm sure they'll see me later then."
"It was a very pretty feasting gown for the summer holidays," Des told him. "It made her look very delicate and ethereal."
"It was thin enough that you could nearly see her nipple color," Cordy reminded her. "We'll be finding a slip later."
Philip nodded. "Then it's probably a good thing I didn't get to see it." He smiled at the ladies. "Who put the new paintings in my room?"
"Aunt Cordy!" Xander said, frowning at her. "Philip didn't need to see the naked not-me."
"You put Theo's pictures in his room?" Des asked her. Cordy nodded. "Why?"
"Because I figured it might spark an urge to start dating," she said firmly. "It was either there or in Emilia's room."
"Greg would kick my ass," Xander told her, still frowning at her. "Don't be mean to Philip. He's spent the last eighteen years as a priest."
"Eh, it's fine, Alex," Philip told him. "I can not look at your relative. Even though he does flex and pose for me. Especially the one where he's lying on top of his horse."
"Theo was the world's first underwear model," Xander told him. "Centuries before his time."
Philip snickered. "I'm sure he was. Are there many more who look nearly exactly like you?"
"Five or six," Des told him. "Most of them before the moving pictures we have today."
"Thankfully," Draco agreed. Cordy looked at him. "I don't want people watching my mate walk around and getting hard thinking about him. I'd get jealous and have every right to attack."
"I'd never try for Alex, Draco. He's too busy for my tastes," Philip promised. "I need someone slow and nice who likes to hold and cuddle."
"We could set you up with Hermione," Harry offered dryly, trying hard not to grin. "She's definitely a girly girl who likes to cuddle and read."
"She's a bit young for my tastes," Philip told him. "She's only seventeen."
"Not for another few months," Harry told him. "Besides, I've seen her sigh as you walk past her."
"I'll discourage that later," Philip assured him. "She's much too young for me."
"I thought most of us came in when we were eleven," Draco said, frowning at his nemesis.
"No, Hermione turned eleven in October of our first year," Harry told him.
"So, not only are we admitting her kind, we're admitting them early?" Draco asked bitterly. He knew better than to utter the world 'mudblood' in the house, he still remembered the last mouth-soaping he had received and the swats from Aunt Cordy.
"She's a genius or nearly one," Xander soothed, "they always get things early." He gave him a gentle pat on the hand.
"Maybe she'll calm down this year," Harry said hopefully. "No more reading us sections of her research, making our exam schedules, or study schedules."
"You need to study," Philip said firmly. "This year'll be the worst yet on homework."
"Very true," Xander agreed, one eye wider than the other as he thought. "I think I only had sex while I was studying my last year."
"Studying biology?" Philip asked with a small smirk.
"Definitely," Xander agreed. He looked over as Dawn and Ron walked in. "Feel better?"
"Much," Ron admitted with a grin. "What did we miss? Hi, Philip."
"Good evening," he said, nodding at them. "Gazebo?"
"Cuddling," she said defensively.
"We were talking about how this year will be worse for homework," Harry told them. "I'm sorry, Dawn. We'll see you as much as possible."
"Pfft." She patted him on the cheek. "If you ignore me I'll simply have to help you study. Or I'll have to pounce you both to get my fair share of the attention." She looked at Draco. "That means I'll get you up to help me practice because I want to play on my house team this year."
"Hey, if she does, then I get to," Xander said happily. He looked at Draco. "We could make Hufflepuff's team look wonderful for a year. I doubt Slytherin will let you play."
"And here I was hoping for an easy year," Harry said dryly, digging into his meat loaf. "Xander, what did you play?"
"Chaser for a year then I switched to beater." He smirked. "I was so good I had coaches panting after my butt too. They even offered me women to sign on with them."
Des nodded. "They started in his fifth year. It's amazing what sort of girls transferred in to be next to Alex's body." Aunt Cordy snickered, covering her mouth with her napkin. "Don't you remember those?"
"Oh, I do," she agreed. "Six princesses from Saudi Arabia as well."
"I never touched them," Xander told her. "They would have expected marriage if I had. It's a good thing someone else wanted them. They were a little complacent for my tastes."
"Coaches sent you *women*?" Harry asked. Xander nodded, looking very happy and proud of that fact. "All I get are nice letters for my birthday."
"And a broom," Ron reminded him.
"True, and a broom from Chuddley. They wanted me to come play with Oliver."
"You could," Xander said with a shrug. "You'll have a long life, Harry, and I'm sure you'll come back to curse breaking eventually. Go play if you want and you can stand the press."
"Really?" Xander nodded. "You're absolutely certain?"
"I'm certain. You can finish your studies this year as well. Come back to me when you're tired of the limelight. Everyone deserves to live in it now and again. I spent a year doing so. I have never seen as many reporters crying as I did the day I entered my training with Gringotts. They decided they'd miss the easy stories about who I was dating, or screwing, at that moment. After the set of quads, it really went downhill from there."
Des looked at him. "Quads?"
Xander grinned and nodded. "Quads. They shared everything. I thought I was dating twins."
She shook her head, putting one hand over her eyes. "I knew we should have cut your penis off at birth."
"If you had, then you wouldn't have been able to nag him for kids," Ron reminded her. It was her favorite activity these days.
"Good point. I could have implanted his sperm into someone else for the night and then claimed the child instead."
Xander saluted her with his glass. "As long as I'm not raising it, you're more than welcome to some of my sperm, Grandma. Because I'm not using it for that purpose."
"That's right, it's only a mouthwash for some," Dawn said, making Draco choke. She grinned at him. "What?" she asked innocently.
Philip shook his head. "And I thought the twins were bad," he sighed, stabbing his meatloaf with his fork.
"Dawn, the house rule is that there is no sex at the table," Des said firmly. "No discussion, no actual, nothing." She looked at Xander, then at Draco. "Remember that the next time you have a group dinner, grandson."
"Sure, Grandma, we'll remember that," Xander agreed. "I won't jump him at all next time."
"Please don't," Philip agreed. "The last time you nearly shocked Nick so much he quit eating."
"Hey, I got pounced last time," Xander defended. "Putting Nick off his food was simply a bonus," he admitted with a grin when Philip continued to stare at him.
"No more sex in this room, Alex. This room and the library. And the herbal room," she added as an afterthought. She looked at Dawn and Ron. "When you two have made a solid commitment to each other, you'll have those same rules."
"Yes, Grandma," Dawn agreed. Ron nodded, his mouth was full.
"You are such good kids. Why couldn't more of my family been like you?" Aunt Cordy sighed.
"Because most of us are like this to vex you so you live longer?" Harry suggested.
"Probably," she agreed. "You lot may be naughty and sometimes cruel but you're always entertaining." She patted Xander on the hand. "You try to behave next year. No beating up on the little darlings."
"Fine," he sighed. "Take all my fun. Can't I at least have the bullies?"
"Of course you can, nephew," she agreed. "You can even bring your friend Buffy up and have her eat them if you want." Harry broke out in snickers. "No matter what that confused Headmaster thinks, I know she'll only eat the bad students. And possibly Severus but I'm sure he can defend himself against her."
"I'd certainly hope so," Dawn said. "She promised not to eat him because she thinks he'd taste funny."
"Again, a possibility," Xander agreed. "I was told I taste funny too." He forked some more food and nibbled on it.
"Eat normally, Xander, or no Draco for dessert," Des told him.
"Why punish me?" Draco asked. He looked at his consort. "Eat it all or I'm not going to tie you down tonight and have you my way."
"Hmm, your way," Xander said with a grin. "No ropes in bed, dear. I've been captured too many times."
"Who said anything about ropes? I've got a very nice set of handcuffs from my mother to use on you."
"Your mother buys you sex toys?" Dawn asked. "Doesn't that weird you out?"
"Not really," he admitted. "Who would know me better than the person I learned to tie knots from?"
"I don't want to know," Dawn told him. "Your family is odd."
"They were probably tying up his father's victims," Harry assured her, giving her a pat on the arm. Draco glared at him. "One of the house elves?"
"If you *must* know, we tied up my father because he was pissing my mother off again. We tied him up quite beautifully, did a stripping charm, and then floated him out into the garden so he could wake up being poked by the garden gnomes trying to see if he was food or not." He smiled sweetly. "He learned his lesson."
"I'm sure he did," Xander said supportively. He gave his mate a kiss on the cheek. "I'm sure you're very good at knots too."
Draco wiped his mouth and looked at his consort. "Eat another bite." Xander stuffed his mouth and Draco grabbed him, taking him up the stairs to play with him in private.
"He cooed about that," Ron said, looking disgusted. "I didn't want to know that much about the Malfoy family."
"I'm sure his father got him back somehow," Harry assured him, trying hard not to sound like he was cooing or talking down to him. Ron gave him a hard look anyway. "Sorry."
"No, that's okay. I can take that from you." He nudged Dawn. "Don't speak to me like that."
"Okay, I won't be condescending to you."
"I tried not to be," Harry offered.
Ron grinned. "I'll get you back later, Potter. Just you wait."
"You two may not have sex in the house either," Des said quickly. Both boys looked disgusted. "I don't care if you're a threesome, there will be no sex in this house unless it's to conceive an heir or you're married."
"Of course, if we're married, we can bring in a third person," Dawn said dryly, cracking her grandmother up. "We can't?"
"No, child, if you're married you can have all the lovers your husband wants you to have," Cordy assured her. "We don't say a thing about those, but make sure any kids are named Dumass, or in your case Weasley."
Ron considered it for a moment. "I'd have to ask mum and dad, but I suppose I could take her last name," he offered. "Or hyphenate it, and give our kids the Dumass last name. That way you don't have to pressure Xander so much to have kids."
Dawn looked at him. "We can?"
"We can't?" he asked.
"Well...." She thought about it. "I want to think more before I make that commitment. The kids should be Summers or Summers-Weasleys. I never took Xander's last name when he adopted me formally."
"Speaking of, we got a letter from the Ministry," Cordy broke in. "They wanted to know why you had been adopted when your sister was still alive. I hope it's all right that we told them what had went on?"
"Buffy said it was fine when I asked her. She thought something like that might happen," Dawn told her, turning to look at her. "She said it's probably made it around as a rumor at least. "
"Thank you, dear. Why don't you talk to his parents and consider that," Des told him. Not that she'd need it. Alex had given his permission to use his sperm and she would as soon as she could get some off him. She was sure those were going to be some wonderful children. Now all she had to do was pick a mother.
Xander looked at his old uniform in the mirror, turning to see his rear. Thanks to the wonderful fitter, it fit him again. He had three more just like it ready to go. He may have to go back but he *refused* to wear a tie and a sweater every day. He had a few of those sort too, just to humor Dawn, but that was it. He looked dorky in the present uniform, his old one should be good enough. Even though his badge was half Slytherin-half Gryffindor. He looked over at Draco, Harry, and Ron, who were being fitted with his form of uniform. Hermione was in the other room, she was having a 'girl' moment and didn't feel right about being fitted in the same room as them. Draco's housemate Blaize was there as well. He seemed to really like his uniform. He could wear nearly anything off the rack and had made Harry pout because he was so well-built. Apparently there were no Zabini scrawny people. Xander turned to look at his rear again and Draco whistled, forcing him to smile at his consort. "You think?"
"I like that look on you," Draco admitted. "Besides, this is much more comfortable than ours." The boys all nodded.
"Plus, it sets us a little apart," Ron added. "Most everyone knows who Harry and I are, but you two aren't as well known."
"Good point," Draco agreed. He looked over as the bell rang, nodding the women over to look at their fine bodies. "What do you think?"
"I think those look *so* much better than the new ones," Emilia told him, giving him a pat on the back. "Not only are they stylish, they look very comfortable."
"They are," Xander agreed. "Were you going to start getting the maternity clothes today?"
Madam Malkin squealed and drug them over to a special rack she had full of stylish maternity clothes. "Here you are, dears. Just as soon as you start to show we can fit anything in the store to you." She walked in to check on Hermione, bringing her out. "I believe this version of the uniform is quite suitable." She considered Xander's body. "I don't remember hearing about a switch."
"These were the ones I wore when I was in school," Xander admitted. "The boys, Hermione, and I all need to be a bit apart from the rest of the kids. That way they can find us easily. Everyone might know Harry but do they know me and Hermione?"
"Did the Headmaster agree?" Hermione asked.
Xander grinned at her and lied. "Of course he did, and we can go up this afternoon and check if you want."
"No, I like this uniform. It might be a bit colder in the winter, but I'm sure I can put my old sweater on underneath." She swung her arms a few times. "They also give more, they're not tight across my shoulders."
"They are wonderful," Harry agreed. "I feel like a grown up in these."
"As you should. You look very grown up," Tipsy pointed out. "They'll take them, even if Dumbledore changes his mind. Speaking of minds changing. Your letters are at home."
"Our Head Boy badges?" Draco asked.
"I didn't pat them down," Tipsy told him, giving him a hug. "You look very grown up as well, Draco." She grinned when he grunted.
"She's teasing, Draco, let her," Emilia advised, going to do the same to Xander. "Are you sure you're not wearing this style because it makes you look bigger?"
"Emilia, I am big," he said, grinning down at her. "I put at least seventy percent of men to shame with how big I am, and most of the rest can't hold a candle to me in the style and ability department either." Draco growled, making Xander grin at him. "What?" he asked. He was dragged into a changing room and pounced.
"They don't tear very easily either," Ron said, looking at Harry. "That's handy."
"It is," Harry agreed. "Very handy. I bet I could even duel in this and not get into too much trouble."
The adults all laughed at that. Harry was such a precious kid some days.
Dumbledore looked up as Draco Malfoy-Dumass walked into his office, holding up his pin. "I see you've got it," he said happily.
"You promised me Head Boy," Draco reminded him, putting the Prefect's badge onto the desk. "That is not it."
"No, it isn't. Those aren't going to be sent out for another few weeks. I thought you'd like to have that one for now, in case you needed it while shopping in Diagon or something." He looked at the boy. "Step back for a moment." He noticed the old uniform and pursed his lips. "Your consort's doing?"
"He said he's coming in this style or not at all."
"He's really in no place to make demands."
"Oh, yes, he is. I could drop out," Draco reminded him. "Or I could stay and drive the whole school into a frenzied orgy every weekend." He smiled politely. "Your choice of course."
"At least those are uniforms. Mr.'s Potter and Weasley?"
"All five of us actually. Xander thought it would be for the best if the students could easily identify us in a crowd. Besides, these are much more comfortable and nice. Even Weasley looks decent in his." He straightened up. "As you can see, my badge did not change."
"I'm happy for you," Dumbledore said, giving him a smile. "I'll be sending out letters in exactly sixteen days. You'll both have Head Boy badges in your letters. Will I need to put on the standard equipment?"
"Xander and I have already done a great deal of shopping. We only need my herbs and our books."
"Xander's not taking potions?"
"A Dumass, in advanced Potions?" Draco asked dryly.
"Hmm. Good point. What did he want as electives, has he said?"
"He said astronomy and Runes. He knows most of them already so he shouldn't have too many problems."
"Our current seventh year class is going to be doing Thinial. I'm sure he's worked with it before."
"He has," Draco agreed. "He was teaching it to Weasley last weekend, just the basics of course. Will the teacher be upset if he has to correct her?"
"Not in the least, but she is a noted scholar in that area. I'm sure he knows enough use language but she knows most of the alphabet."
"I'll tell him." He looked down at his outfit, then back at the Headmaster. "I was requested to ask, have you fixed the heating system yet? Potter doesn't want to freeze off his valuable toes in Charms again, nor does Weasley want to get pneumonia from Divinations and the crackpot's open window policy."
"Do not speak about the teachers that way," Dumbledore said patiently. "And no, we haven't. We're trying to find one that will suit the school."
Draco pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it over. "Ramvette sends this. She doesn't want to get sick from Ron sneezing on her." He walked out, heading back home through the floo, with a stop to wave out at Professor Snape. He saw the amused look then left to go back to his studies and sex.
Dumbledore tapped the card against his hand then called the floo address. "Cistern Heating and Cooling." An older man's head popped up. "I am Albus Dumbledore and your name was given to us by a Miss Ramvette."
"Tipsy, yeah, I do her house locally," he said with a grin. "She's had me out to up the thermostat. Seems she's gettin' cold now that she's got two in her."
He smiled. "We've had a small problem with our own furnace. Namely, it's nearly two hundred years old and runs on coal. Also, we've had some ducts collapse on us. It's gotten to the point where even the teachers are wearing gloves to class. Since she recommended you, I'm assuming you might have an idea about our problem?"
"Oh, yeah," he agreed, nodding. "Trane."
"Trane, the heating company. They do forced air systems."
"This is for Hogwarts and we don't exactly run on electricity," Dumbledore pointed out gently.
"Still, they make a wizarding version. That's what Miss Ramvette's got. It's got a ten year warranty on parts and labor. It'll be easy enough to fix and I'm sure those collapsed ducts can be taken out if you know where they are."
"I had one of my student's spouses making notes on such things. Mr. Dumass had been a curse breaker and he needed to stay near his spouse."
"Dumass? Aren't they the ones going bad?"
"Not really. That was his grandmother's idea. She was a painting herself. He had nothing to do with it and they wanted to guard the family's treasures, including their new son-in-law."
"Oh." He grimaced. "I've heard of him and how the paintings did it themselves, but I never knew anyone who resurrected the dead who was good."
"They were put into stasis the moment before death. None of them were actually raised."
"Oh." He looked a bit happier. "At least he's not like the Dark Lord."
"No, Alex has quite a sense of humor," Dumbledore assured him. "Could you come up and give us an estimate? Hogwarts does run on a limited budget you see."
"Sure. When's a good time for you?"
"I'm here addressing letters so whenever you want would be fine."
"How about in maybe two hours? I've got a job coming up soon but it's mostly an install of an air conditioning pump. I should be able to make that."
"That's fine, come to the floo address Headmaster's Eire. I'll be here or a house elf will be waiting." The man's head nodded and disappeared. Dumbledore sighed. "How much will this cost us?" he muttered. The budget really was tight. He supposed it might not cost as much as the year's coal bill, that would be nice.
Xander looked up as Draco walked into their compartment on the train. He was already flashing his Head Boy pin like it was the Holy Grail. "Have fun doing rounds?"
"Extremely. Most of our new housemates were very enthusiastic about our presence." He leaned against his consort's side. "Granger and Weasley are in the Prefect's cars playing Snap."
"That's fine," Xander agreed, giving him a pat. Harry was napping across from them since he wasn't a prefect this year again. "Any new gossip?"
"Apparently someone made some anonymous donations to the school for the new heating system. It's in everywhere but Divinations and the Potions classroom. One won't let it come in and the other needs a bit more work. Snape might even have to move his classes for a few days they were saying. They've even found a way to run a vent out to each greenhouse so they're working on that as well. The yard's pretty dug up but Sandburg was helping plant over it. Madam Sprout is still out sick so he's filling in for a few weeks until he has to go back to teach his own classes." He ran a hand up the inside of Xander's thigh. "Think we can?"
"I think we'd wake him," Xander said, giving him a gentle kiss. "Can't you wait until after we've unpacked?"
"No," Draco said, starting to pout. "We were up late so I didn't get any then." Both their heads popped up as the brakes squealed, and Draco started to stand up. "I'll check," he offered, heading out before Xander could tell him not to go. He met Granger in the corridor. "What's going on?"
"There's a dementor on the tracks," she said grimly, frowning as well. "We'll need Harry to go shoo it away, just in case it's a trap."
Draco raised an eyebrow but he went to report that. "There's a dementor on the track and they wanted Potter to clear it."
Xander frowned and got up, heading up to the engine car. He noticed there was a single dementor, but since they tended to work in packs he scanned around; there was no other magic was near there. He pulled his wand. "Expecto Patronius!" he shouted, swishing at the evil thing. A thestral came out of his wand and fought against it, making it back away. It finally floated off the tracks and Xander canceled his charm. "Let's go," he announced. "I can't sense anything but we might be screwed anyway."
"Yes, sir. You a teacher?"
"Dumass. I got called in to watch over Hufflpuff this year with my consort." The man gave him a shocked look. "It's a security measure. Go." The conductor released the brake and the steam built up, slowly shifting the front wheels until the engine moved, then the next car, and the next on down the line. They were moving again. He grinned at the conductor. "We're halfway back in the Slytherin/Hufflepuff car if you need me." He headed back that way, going back to his consort's side. "Done."
"Good." Draco snuggled into his side. "Potter slept through it."
"He was up late last night getting that last piece of information down," he reminded him, giving him a kiss. "This is what I missed in Sunnydale, the rewards after the victories."
"With what you people did over there, I would have thought someone would have rewarded you," Draco murmured, stealing another kiss. "Fuck Potter, he can watch if he wakes up," he said, using his wand to release the seat catch and lay them down.
Harry walked into the Great Hall behind Hermione and Ron, who were chatting about something that had happened on the train. All he knew about was the fact that he had woken up in time to see Draco riding his uncle's body. He was still blushing about that. He sat down in the spot Ron had saved for him and looked at Hermione. "Are you staying with us or not?"
"I talked with their Prefects and they think they can handle it," she told him. She noticed McGonagall looking at her and shrugged at her. Her teacher nodded at the Ravenclaw table so she sighed. "It looks like I might be over there after all." She motioned for the Prefects to join her at the Head Table. When she came back she looked triumphant. "She agreed, they can handle most of it on their own." She looked over at Xander and Draco, two lone Slytherins in the midst of cooing Hufflepuffs. "They really do look excellent in those robes."
"They do," Ron agreed. He grinned at Harry, who shook his head, but he couldn't resist. "So, Hermione, did you write Philip this summer?"
She looked at him for a moment, then frowned. "I think he's a fascinating man, even though he gave up his magic for his calling."
"He quit the Church this summer because of what happened to him," Harry told her. "He was at the house all summer long and he's still there until St. Andrew's starts session. He's watching Greg and Emilia coo at each other and her stomach."
"She is pregnant then?" Ron nodded. "Wonderful for her. Do they know what yet?" she asked.
"A boy," Ron said with a grin. "Tipsy's having just two as far as anyone can tell. We have an official date of just before Halloween."
Hermione smiled. "I'll have to find her and the baby something. Have they picked out a color scheme?"
"Green and blue. Water colors," Harry told her. "With a fantasy creatures theme, but only the puffy ones for kids."
She nodded. "I'll keep that in mind." She looked over as Dumbledore stood up. Ron started to open his mouth and she kicked him under the table. "Later."
Dumbledore smiled at his students. "Another year has started and we are thankful that most of you came back this time." He smiled at the new first years. "Things are a bit different this year in the name of security. This year, each of your houses will have a guardian, a proven fighter of great skill. They will be telling you tonight what to do in case something happens." They all looked relieved. "Also, there is another notice. The new heating system is mostly installed and seems to work. With the exception of Potions, all rooms that had wanted to be fixed have been." That got a lot of clapping. "Please tell us if the rooms lose heat suddenly. We have a contract for labor." He smiled at the new students again. "As always, the beginning announcements are the same. The Dark Forest is forbidden to all students, no matter who they are. No magic is to be done in the hallways between classes. Mr. Filch has a list of forbidden items and he will gladly show it to any who have a doubt about some of the things they brought with them from Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes." That got some more clapping. "Now, onto the sorting."
Professor McGonagall stood up and retrieved the hat, putting it onto it's stool.
Draco looked at his consort. "Do you feel like you should be wearing a dunce cap?" he whispered. Xander nodded. "I'm glad it's not just me. This feels very wrong."
"I know it does, but we'll be okay," Xander promised. He gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Remember, you're still wearing Slytherin's patch. You are one of them. The hat had no doubt about you." Draco nodded, relaxing a bit. "One year, then we'll take a fantastic vacation before we figure out where we're going on the next dig."
"I could stand that," Draco agreed, smiling at him. The table around them broke out in applause. "But I didn't even get a kiss this time," he said in jest. Xander gave him one anyway. More clapping was heard and he was sure it was for them, not for the mousy creature joining them. "Sit," he ordered when she looked around the table. She sat down and looked at him, looking quite confused. "It will be explained to you later," he promised. She nodded, looking a lot happier about that.
"You'll make an excellent step-parent when Des finally gets her way," Xander praised. Draco pinched him but he did look happy at the compliment.