You're a What And You Ride a What?
A month had passed since Ginny Weasley had disappeared and her friends were very worried about her, still. No one else seemed to be worried, including her family, but Luna was fretting and it was making Ethan upset and Wesley upset, so others were slowly becoming upset. Even the twins were starting to get the feeling that they might have to intervene sometime soon. With everything going on and the assurance that she was fine, they had left it alone, but it had been a month and no one had heard anything about their sister. It was nearly the holidays and even Molly was starting to fret, even when reassured her youngest was fine by Dumbledore. Then again she wasn't sure he knew a thing about this.
So Dawn was now pestering her favorite professor to bring her back, and he was trying to get information for them that wouldn't compromise the girl's new chosen job. Instead, she came home. He felt the power surge and lifted his head, then looked around. "She must have felt that," he muttered, going to the front doors to make sure of it. Luna Lovegood nearly ran him over but Dawn slid around him, McGonagall swearing behind her. He smiled at her. "Miss Weasley is back."
"Really? Now? After a month?" she demanded sarcastically. They stomped out there, staring at the young girl. Her long hair was in a single loose braid down her back. She was in a short silver leather or hide wrap skirt and what looked like a sports bra made of the same material with furry knee-high boots and a fur cape. She was just staring up at the castle.
"Ginny!" Dawn shouted, pouncing her to hug. "You're back!"
"I am, but I'd like to not break," she complained.
Dawn laughed and hugged her less fiercely, letting Luna have her other side. "Where were you?"
She pulled back, smirking at her. "I got to meet some of the Professor's sisters. I got chosen by a certain flying horse."
"You did?" Luna asked. She glared at the professor, who nodded. "Then why are you back?"
"I was bored and I'm not a servant," she said firmly. "I cracked a good few of the blokes up there over heads with their pots and mugs when they got grabby and demanding I bring 'em beer. Told 'em to get it themselves because I wasn't the maid and I certainly wasn't for hire with the way they leered. I spent a lot of time in the stables and I figured out I missed you two."
"This was Thor's great plan to irritate my father to the point he went insane," Professor Armwrench offered dryly. McGonagall looked at him so he shrugged. "She is a bit feisty. She's able to be chosen as well. She meets all the requirements and all that."
"Plus I'm a damn good shot," Ginny reminded him. She smiled sweetly at her head of house. "I'm back."
"I can see that. You're also out of uniform."
She looked down at herself, then up. "Sorry, workout clothes," she explained. She looked around, frowning at something. She felt a nudge and looked back, smiling at her horse. "Did you come to see if there's another like me here?" Her winged horse nuzzled her, making sure she knew she was staying. "I'll see if you can, Apple, but I'm not sure if the Headmaster would allow you to stay for a bit. Then again, most of us have never seen one like you before." She patted her on the cheek, then walked around to get up on her back. Her bow appeared in her hand, making her look quite surprised. "I can't pull that. I gave up my position."
"Are you feeling the urge to choose?" Armwrench asked anxiously.
She nodded slowly, looking inside. "In there, in the fourth floor East corridor is a fight," she told McGonagall. "There's about to be a boy who interrupts to save the girl from the seventh year Ravenclaw who's going to cast an unforgiveable. Technically he's counted as a virgin, first battle, warrior because he is trying to protect her." The deputy headmistress hurried back inside. "She'll never make it. I'll be right back," she muttered, disappearing on her horse. She landed in the corridor and raised a hand, freezing them. "Hold it." They glared at her, even the young man. "Look, I know this is one of those duels to write home about, but if you cast that, he'll die. You'll go to Azkaban. Since I can and did feel you preparing to cast it, I can and will testify against you after I gather him and take him to Valhalla." The boy's eyes bugged and she shrugged. "Flying horses and unicorns are both very sweet." She focused on the other one. "Now, I'd assume you had some common sense so if I let you go, you'd better put away your wand." She unfroze them and the older girl started to cast. Ginny knocked back an arrow. "Try it," she warned.
That's how Snape and McGonagall found them. "What are you doing with a horse in here?" Snape demanded.
She looked down at him. "Sorry, sir, a bit of the calling came with me."
"Calling?" he demanded, looking her over. "You're...." She smiled sweetly and nodded, then let the arrow fly when the girl started to mutter a curse. It pinned her arm to the wall. "Well, that's very good, Miss Weasley, but you know the rules about weapons in school." He wasn't sure how to address a student who was also a powerful magical creature now. Even if she was usually an annoying twit.
"Yeah, but it showed up when I mounted. I thought I had given up my choice but apparently I was wrong." She looked at the boy. "You wouldn't like it there, kid. It's a lot of beer and greasy meats and dim, flickering torches." He shuddered. "Plus, the only women there are sworn virgins. You'd never get any ever again." He clutched the girl to him. "Good choice." She patted her horse on the neck. "Nice jump, Apple, very nicely placed." Her horse snorted and shook her mane. "Let's go back outside before Filch gets onto us about hoof marks." They jumped back outside, startling Dawn since she was screaming at Professor Armwrench. "He couldn't have brought me back, Dawnie."
"He could have told us!" she yelled at her. "Speaking of, owls don't work up there?"
"I asked, Odin's ravens would have eaten them." She slid off the furry back and leaned against her horse, looking at her bow. "Am I on the reserve list?"
Loki nodded. "Once a Valkyrie, always a Valkyrie, dear. Did you remember your other things? You might want to change."
She nodded, concentrating really hard. Her bag and other bow showed up about the same time her mother did. Her mother caught the bag but she caught her bow. "Hi, mum. Isn't it pretty? I made it myself," she said, handing her that bow. It was her practice bow, not her official one. That one went onto her horse's back. "Oh, this is Apple. She chose me, mum."
Her mother stared at her, just stared. Ginny gently hugged her and Molly continued to stare. Dawn gripped the professor's arm, making him quit laughing but he did inform the other professors that Molly was there for her wayward child. Dumbledore came down still smiling. "Ah, Molly, I see someone told you."
"Yes," she said finally, staring at her daughter. "What were you doing?" she asked finally.
"I'm a Valkyrie, mum. I thought I had given up my choice to come back but apparently I got put on the reserve list for a bit. Two of the girls just petitioned to get married and become normal women before they killed some of the men they had saved for the final battle for their grabby hands and the serving things. So I got chosen by one of the younger horses and went up for some training. I just spent six weeks up there."
"It's only been a month here," Dumbledore said gently. "And unfortunately you will either have to make up all that work or else you will be held back."
She looked at him and shrugged. "That happens to the best of us I guess. What do I care? Can Apple stay? There's not many like her in the world and I'm sure the classes could benefit by her nipping the ruder ones who try something against her."
"Indeed. That's fine. We'd have to find her a place to sleep. There's no room at all in the shed the unicorns sleep in."
"I can make a shed for her," she said dryly. "I did learn some of the practical stuff Alex was teaching Ron and the rest last year." He nodded at that. "Sorry about the uniform, sir, but this is workout clothes for us. Give me a moment to change."
"Of course." He smiled at the horse, bowing gently to her. "Hello, welcome to Hogwarts. May we use you as a teaching aid?"
"More importantly, are there others here who can be chosen?" Armwrench asked her. She looked at him and nodded. "Tell your chosen so she can talk to them." He looked around. "How's there, Ginny?" he asked, pointing at a clear spot.
"I'd rather her be closer to the greenhouses instead of the forest, professor. How about there?" she asked, creating an illusion where she wanted it. Her mother gasped and she realized she was using just her hand, pulling her wand out to use it. "Sorry, mum. We do have a limited bit of illusion magic with the choosing. It's part of the being invisible during battles thing." She looked at the headmaster, who nodded that it was fine. So she started the crafting spell, pulling roots of a nearby tree up to form the outline of the new shed. The professor transfigured it into a real wooden shed and then added hay and feed for the beast. "Thank you, professor. You must have spent some time in the stables."
"Only way to get away from Thor. He always hated the smell of the horses." He walked her that way, chatting with her about things going on up there now.
She pinched him on the rear, making him yelp. "Hilde said to do that to you because you sent her an ugly cursebreaker to take care of the last time."
He laughed, hugging her. "I did," he agreed, "but he's quite good. Not as good as Von was, but still quite good and gentle."
"She figured that out when he babied her bruises after sword practice. Speaking of, can you help me keep in practice?"
"I am miserable at that sport," he admitted dryly. "Not really in line with mischief. I more cause the fights."
"So I heard," she said dryly, smirking at him. "I can ask Alex."
"That would be good. He is very good at it." He opened the door, letting the horse into the shed. "There you go, Apple. I've added some apples and carrots in a hanging string so you can just pluck off whatever you want. There's some oats in a bag as well, Ginny."
"Thank you, sir." She settled her horse in, including drawing some water for her. "There you go, love. I'll be inside. Um, professor, if you could turn around? This skirt is a bit short." He turned around, smirking at the mother coming this way. She moved behind her horse and changed her clothes. The main skirt was just as short but there were long panels between her legs on each side and her bra was exchanged for a longer halter top, which she had trouble adjusting herself in. "I hate this top."
He glanced back and flicked his hand at her, fixing the sewing mistake. "The cup was sideways." He turned back around while she adjusted herself, then came out, undoing her hair and casting a rebraiding charm on it. It went back into a less messy loose braid at the base of her neck. "Better," he agreed, changing her boots and putting the old ones in her bag with her cape. She bent over to lace them up all the way, and he extended them, nodding that he liked that look better. She gave him a dry look but went back to lacing them up. "More Greek inspired but they do look cute with that skirt. I always thought so."
"They do and it's not that cold here." She took his arm, walking out and back into her mother's arms. "Hi, mum."
"Ginerva Weasley, what are you wearing?" she demanded, pushing her back to look at her. Her eyes bulged. "What is that?"
"The official uniform of Valkyries, mum. This is what I wear into battle under my bronze chestplate and greaves." She took her mother's arm and walked her on, not minding the snow at all. It was nothing compared to the Hinterlands she had just been in. "Am I presentable enough for dinner?" she asked McGonagall, who could only stare. "It's my official outfit. Not like I have a uniform with me."
She just nodded, walking off. Professor Snape continued to stare. "What?" she demanded. "Not like it's short enough to show panties or anything."
"Your brother will have a bloody fit," he said calmly, sending him the picture of her and the one from earlier on her horse. Then he walked her inside, taking her to dinner. He let her go at the doorway, watching as she walked over to her table and shoved one kid out of her traditional spot.
"Ginny!" Colin yelled, leaning over the table to hug her. "You're back?" He looked at her. "You look fantastic. What is that?"
"Deerskin." She sat down, smoothing the back longer panel down to sit on it. "Guys, my mum might be joining us. Have manners, she will soap mouths of other kids." They all nodded and she smiled up at the headmaster as he took his seat. Then up at Hagrid, who was just staring. "Hagrid, I brought Apple back. She's in a shed by the greenhouses. I'll introduce you later and she said she wouldn't mind you showing her off to the students now and then."
"Thank you, Ginny, that's right nice'a ya," he said with a fond smile. "What're ya wearin?"
"Ah." He nodded once and left it there, sure that Dumbledore had it well in hand. He always did.
"Yes, she's finally back," Dumbledore agreed gently. "Thankfully her friends can quit worrying about her now. Let's just eat. She can tell you all about anything she's allowed to tell you later." Molly walked in and he smiled. "Plus, her mother is here as well. Please be extra mannerly around Mrs. Weasley."
Mrs. Weasley came and pulled her daughter off by her hair, taking her for a loud discussion in the hallway. A very loud discussion in the hallway. One that got louder when Ron showed up. Dawn snuck out there, going to hug him to spare Ginny some yelling.
He smiled at her. "Not now, Dawn, I'm being pissed at my sister. I'll love you in a bit." He kissed her on the nose and went back to yelling at his sister, arm now around his girl.
Ginny looked at one of the girls that she knew was being looked at when she walked past. "Just think, you too could end up in this discussion," she said dryly. "Just because you're still pure, it's one of the mandates of the job." She hated the girl and she'd suck at it. She fainted at the sight of blood. She even told Apple that and Apple agreed with her choice.
The girl looked at her. "I can fix that. What are you?"
"A Valkyrie. I get to choose people from battles."
"I'm going to go fix that right now." She walked inside and found a boy she kinda liked, hauling him to his feet and dragging him off. "Ginny said I'm one of the next to be picked up for that job if I'm a virgin. You're fixing that for me," she told him.
"All right, but we're not dating."
"I don't care!" she said with a touch of hysterics. "I'd look horrible in that short skirt!" She found a closet and pushed him in there, letting him fix it for her.
Ginny snickered and her mother swatted her. "Sorry, mum, but I was around the most lecherous former warriors for the longest time. I heard a lot of dirty things. Smacked a lot of hands and heads with pots for being rude and drunken."
Ron looked at her. "If you gave it up, why are you still like that?"
"Apparently there's a reserve list."
"Ah." He nodded. "Fine. But we will be talking Ginny. You upset Harry horribly by not letting him know where you were."
"I would have owled but Odin's bloody birds ate them all."
"Do not swear!" Mrs. Weasley said firmly.
"Sorry, mum. Bad habits from the warriors and all." She gave her another hug. "I missed you."
"It won't get you out of trouble this time, young lady."
"Mum, it's not like I had plans of disappearing for six weeks to train. Oh, Ron, can you please ask Alex if he'll help finish my training with a sword? I do need the work, just in case, and it's a fantastic workout."
"I'll ask, but you should ask him yourself."
"You're all gone for the next four months."
"Point," he agreed. "I will. So, you're going to be held back?"
"Quite possibly," she agreed. She thought at her horse, getting a nod about the girl coming up the halls. She'd make a great Valkyrie. She was brave, bold, and liked dirty jokes and mead. Too bad she wasn't a virgin. Maybe someone could find a way to fix that. She decided she'd waylay her later and talk to her about that. She looked at her mother again, smiling at her. "I'm fine, mum. Really."
"The strangest thing was, we weren't allowed to worry about you," she said stiffly.
"Not my thing, mum. I would have written if I could."
"We will be talking over the holidays, young lady."
"We could talk tonight, mum, just let me eat first. All I've had recently was mead and roast beast."
"Fine." She walked her back inside. "Ronald," she snapped when he didn't follow.
"Let me get a kiss first," he complained, kissing his girl deeply. "Right before I go back," he said with a wink. He walked her inside, letting her go to her seat while he went to join Ginny at hers. "Oy, shove down," he complained at the lack of space. A few of the kids stared at him in shock. "It's me or Bill to come yell." They shoved down, thinking he was probably going to be better at this.
Up on the dias, Professor Methos was still staring at Ginny. "She went where?" he asked finally.
"Just what you're thinking," Armwrench called down the table. "She's fine. Father thought she was quite the pisser, loved her for smacking a few of the less mannerly ones on the head with the ale pots and telling them to get it themselves since she wasn't a servant."
Methos groaned and held his suddenly aching head. "The world will now end."
"As I knew it would," Trellawany noted coldly. "She is not right for this school any longer."
Ginny looked up at her. "I'd be the one protecting this school," she mouthed, making the seer shiver. She looked at Ron. "Now that you and Harry are gone, it's my turn to protect the school," she told him. "Hence the fighting lessons I got. I'm not bad with my bow, spot on actually, and fairly decent for my level of training with a sword."
"I'll tell Alex," he said with a smirk. "Think you could take Harry in a duel?"
"Yeah, I think I could before. Harry's a bit predictable, Ron."
"Point," he agreed. "How about me?"
"We'll have one later," she said smugly, winking at him. "Before you go kiss Dawn into a coma so she quits sighing in misery at your back."
"Deal," he agreed, shaking her hand. "Mum?"
"I want no part of that."
"Mum, I promise I won't hurt him," she protested. "You can watch *and* be proud of me." She looked at her mother. "They needed me, mum. Don't be mad?"
"Oh, I'm still going to be quite upset for a very long time, Ginerva. This will be coming back to haunt you for years."
"Sure, mum, but if I come home for the holidays, I'll still have to bring Apple. I'll make her a shed out in the orchard if you want."
"That's fine," she agreed. "You will be coming home for the holidays since Bill and Ron will be." She glared at Ron, who shrugged. "He said you were."
"Then I guess we are. We're apprentices, we don't gt to make those decisions, mum."
"Point," she said dryly. She looked over her daughter's outfit again, then shook her head. "That is nearly indecent."
"Mum, I'm completely covered and it's the official outfit. After all, I've got to be able to ride and fight in it. I could have changed into my deerskin pants, but they are indecent by the way I get pinched in 'em. Speaking of, Ron, can I borrow about ten gold? I've got to go get my wand fixed. It's got a crack in the handle."
"Sure," he agreed, digging it out and handing it to her. "There you go. Don't worry about paying it back. I've got more."
"Thanks, Ron." She beamed at him. She smiled up at the headmaster, getting up to walk up there. "Sir, I do have one small errand that I will have to run tomorrow. My wand has a crack, may I have an hour to get it fixed and have my uniforms refitted? I've gained a bit of muscle and height."
He considered it. "Fine. As long as your horse stays here."
"Of course. I expect half the girls in the school will be sucking up to her tomorrow." She smiled at him and stepped up to whisper in McGonagall's ear about that one girl. "She'd be good but there's that one problem. How do I approach her about that?"
"I'll do so," she assured her, lips pressed together. "I do agree, she would make a very good one." Ginny smiled and went back to her seat.
"When they choose outside the family, it's always from a magical family. Most muggles couldn't possibly deal with the flying horses and things," Armwrench offered dryly.
"I see. Why would they need to?" McGonagall asked.
"Because in the last two years three of the girls have gotten bored and tired and petitioned to marry themselves off to someone who isn't *so* terrible. Plus there's five other unmated horses up there."
"Ah." She nodded. "Very well then."
He smiled at her. "In your youth you would have made an excellent one, Minerva."
"Flattery will not keep you out of trouble," she said, pinching him on the cheek, but she was smiling.
"No, but it's the truth and this time it doesn't hurt." He ate a bite of dinner, watching the Weasley reunion. He couldn't wait until the twins came to see her, or she saw them tomorrow. Dumbledore looked down at him. "Was I broadcasting?" he asked.
"No, but I know what you're thinking," he said dryly. "I'd say that would be more explosive than most of their projects."
"Quite possibly." He smirked. "All the more for my powerbase." Dumbledore snorted and went back to eating.
Professor Flitwick sighed. "I'm supposing Miss Summers won't be anywhere near the library tonight."
"No, probably not, unless he's like that and that kinky," Armwrench said dryly, making him chuckle and pat him on the back. "Sorry, slipped out," he excused when Snape stared down at him with Methos. He stuffed his mouth again, hiding his laughter and smile from them. He didn't know what Ron's preference was, but they might be the library. He certainly spent enough time in there with Miss Granger in his youth. He ate another bite, smiling at Professor Callaghan. "How is Sandburg?"
"Stable. Sentient again." He shrugged. "We're working on it and Jim just went uncontrolled when his wife left him. We're not sure if it'll work or not this time."
"We'll have to see," he agreed. "Let me know if I can help, Philip."
"Of course." He smiled at him. "I doubt it's the library. That was always more Hermione's thing than Ron or Harry's." Methos and Snape stared at him instead. "Tis the truth," he defended.
Ron looked up at him, raising an eyebrow. "Philip, I'm not like that. Look at my past history." He went back to talking with his sister about her horse. His mother figured out what must be the subject of discussion and swatted him. "Ow! Bloody hell, mum! I'm grown!"
"Ronald Weasley," she warned.
"Yes, mum," he sighed, slumping down a bit, all for show of course.
Ginny walked into Weasley Wizarding Wheeze's in her favorite pair of deerskin pants and her usual top, yawning. "Sorry, long night with Dawn and Luna gossiping." She smiled at her sister-in-law. "Hi, I'm back."
"I can see that. Where were you?"
"You got chosen for the army?"
"No, I'm a Valkyrie on the reserve list."
"Oh." She blinked a few times. "Stand just there, dear, in the sunlight." She went back into the apartment, going to wake up her mates. The twins had worn them out last night. She opened her door and smiled at picture they made with the babies. "Guys, Ginny's back." They hopped up and headed out to stare at their little sister, both of them frowning at her. She came back to check the kid at the register out. "Sorry, she's been gone for a few days."
"That's fine," she said cheerfully. She smiled at Ginny. "You look hot in that."
"Thank you, dear." She smiled and trotted out, going back home. Ginny held up a finger and walked out to where she could feel someone who should be chosen. She called her horse, who called home, and another horse came up to grab the girl. "Hi, Ginny Weasley," she said, shaking the girl's hand when she finished staring at her. "How much do you like horses?"
"How did you know?"
Ginny pointed behind her. "That's a Valkyrie's horse. You'd make a smashing one. She's here to choose you for an interview. You might want to warn your mum and dad first. Mine got a bit upset when I disappeared."
"Really!" She looked around, then at the horse, who only smirked and followed her back to her mother's side. "Mum, look who just came for me!" The mother, as blonde as any Malfoy, went pale. "Mum, can I go for an interview? Please!"
She nodded slowly. "Treat her well, dear."
"Thank you, mum. I'll be back in a bit." She got on the horse's back and they were off.
The mother burst out crying. "She's gone."
Ginny came over to give her a hug. "Some of us do come home," she said gently, soothing her. The mother looked at her and gaped. She smiled. "We do now and then."
"You're...." Ginny nodded. "You're Ron's sister?" She nodded again, still smiling. "You know this how?"
"I just got back from six weeks there. My mare's at Hogwarts with me." She walked off, leaving it at that so her brothers could shout at her some more in unison and confuse her greatly since she couldn't follow along. She felt someone pinch her and grabbed the hand, flipping them onto their back. "I didn't give you permission to touch that," she said plainly. "Next time, ask." She continued on, walking into the shop and closing the door. They were both staring in awe and horror. "What? I had to learn to keep the warriors off my bum."
"I can see that," Tipsy said dryly. "Those pants are very form fitting."
She smiled. "I know. Dawn's jealous."
"Well, now I know what to get her for the holidays," Tipsy said dryly.
"Ron would probably appreciate it," she agreed, coming over to sit down. "I've only got a bit longer, boys. Then I've got to pick back up my uniforms and my wand."
"How much will you have to catch up on?"
"Or are you being held back automatically?"
"Not automatically, but it's a distinct possibility," she offered. "Then again, I'm the protector at the school right now with Dawn and Luna."
"Oh, wonderful news."
"Give mum a heart attack yet with it?" the other demanded.
"No, but she did burst out crying when I won the duel with Ron," she offered smugly. "My horse bit him on the back of the neck, distracting him." Tipsy giggled at that. "So, dears. I've got to head back up there. Anything I should pass around? New samples or the like?"
"Oh, we have things to pass around," one of the twins said, hauling her up, letting the other drag her into the back with them. That one stopped to kiss their wife. "You'd look just as smashing, love," he whispered. "Get some for yourself." Then he was off to help his sister become normal again.
Tipsy Ramvette-Weasley blushed. She couldn't imagine herself in that outfit. She really couldn't. Not at her age.
Ginny walked into the school, back in uniform but for her sweater and tie, and shrugged at McGonagall's piercing look. "I tried, I can't stand the tie without being strangled, ma'am."
"You still have to wear it, Miss Weasley."
"Everyone knows which house I'm in," she offered dryly. She handed over the bag the twins had made up for her. "Here, from the twins. I stopped in to say hi while everything was being refitted."
"I figured you might." She looked at the bag, then inside, smiling at it. "Thank them for me."
"They said they want an owl if I'm going to flunk so they can gently tell mum."
"Of course." She watched the girl walk off, sending her schedule to her. The girl caught it and turned to grin at her. "It's third."
"Thank you, ma'am." She checked it and headed that way, wand in her waistband and tie around her wrist for the moment. She yawned again, she had been up very early to take care of Apple. She walked into Potions and Professor Snape gave her that same searching look. "Sorry, sir, the tie's still choking me. It's either not wear it or wear it sloppy."
"I'd prefer you not wear it undone in here, it could catch fire or fall into your potion. Sit down." She nodded, going to sit down and work on whatever was on the board. He watched her, she had much better chopping skills now. Must have been the cooking she had done up there. Of course, this was a two-part potion and the others were on their second day, but the second half was it's own potion and she could probably use the calming effects. As long as she didn't try to add it in total to the earlier one. He continued to watch her, deciding he'd be seeing her next year as well. She was probably not going to be able to catch up to everyone's work. Then again, Miss Summers would have someone to irritate next year besides himself and his wife.
Ginny finished the measuring and chopping and reread the directions, going to get some water and measure it out. He raised an eyebrow and she smirked, winking at him. She walked past his desk, hissing at him. "I know how to brew this one, sir. My mum takes it now and then. Thought I'd do it properly if that's okay? Since I can't do the first day's?" He nodded at that, accepting that idea. Her mother probably did need the calming potion. She probably needed quite a lot of it at the moment. He got up to prowl around the room, taking points off a few other students, but seeing if she could pull this one off. It was a common household potion and the girl had proven that she could do those in the past. By the end of class, hers was still not boiled down enough but it was very close. He nodded that it was acceptable and he would have it bottled for her. She smiled and patted him on the arm. "Thank you, sir. I figure Mum's about to take the roof off the house with her screaming."
"With the outfit you left in this morning, I'm not surprised," he said dryly, staring her down.
"It was clean," she said innocently. "And it fit." She smiled. "Shall I come back right before lunch to bottle that?"
"That would be acceptable. Are you planning on coming back next year?"
"I don't know yet," she admitted. "It'd be handy I suppose, but I don't know yet, sir." She left for Charms, going up there to deal with Flitwick now. He was most excited to see what new things she had learned. He had watched her mock duel with Ron last night with a lot of cheerleading and clapping for her.
Snape checked the potion, sniffing it. It was well done and properly mixed. He brought it up to his desk so it wouldn't be in the way and no one else could mess it up by accident.
Greg walked back into the station and smirked at Grissom and Brass waiting on him. "What? Was I fired?"
"No, we wanted to know how it went," Brass said plainly.
"I'm still listed as a master, I had to sub in while Severus was under care for being fumed nearly to death by a few students who were mixing aphrodisiacs in class with their potion. Ginny Weasley finally came back from her stint with her new silvery winged horse." Grissom stared at him and he grinned. "It's good for her. She's very stunning now." He grinned. "So, field work?"
"Get changed. Meeting's in half an hour, Greg." Grissom watched him walk off. "Do I get a report about your Mastery continuing?" He tossed a tied scroll over his shoulder, letting him catch it. "Thank you, Greg."
"Good work," Brass called after him, looking at the scroll. "Well. Very well done."
"Very," Grissom agreed. He tied it back up and went to put it in his desk, just in case it was ever needed.
Warrick looked over as Greg came in, smiling at him. "Finally back?"
"Yeah, finally back, and so is Ginny." Catherine looked around her locker at him. He smirked. "Her and her silvery winged horse."
"Huh?" she asked. He leaned over to whisper in her ear, making her shiver. "Oh, really?" He nodded, smirking. "Well, she'd make a good one," she decided.
"She would. There's other news. Did I tell you guys Sev's wife's pregnant?" They smiled and shook their heads. "He is. He's still grumpy about it, but he did like the books that got sent over. Thank you, Catherine."
"You're welcome." She pinched his cheek. "Get changed. How was subbing in?"
"Not too bad. The kids just stared at me for the first few minutes until I snapped at them. They got down to work after that."
"Which is a good idea," Warrick agreed. "You'd be a scary teacher, Greg." He closed his locker. "See you in the meeting." He walked off.
Greg looked at Catherine. "Aunt Cordy stepped up her push against Alex and his lack of named heirs. Have you gotten a letter yet?" She slowly shook her head. "Expect one. They like you, they're going to try to convince you to convince him. They figure he shouldn't go for one in the bloodlines because he's too closely related to most of them."
"Yeah, it's either you or Philip and you know how stuffy he can be." She laughed at that and got up, closing her locker. "I'll be there in a few minutes." She nodded and he pulled open his locker door to pull out his ID and everything else he'd need. It was good to be back. Everything was settled for him but Sandburg. Then again, Jim was coming to him, maybe it would help. He'd have to watch that one and Lindsey's thing. He patted his pocket, pulling out the lodestone necklace he had found, then checked himself before heading to the meeting. He handed the necklace to her. "For Lindsey."
"Thank you." She tucked it into her pocket. "I'll send it to her tonight. I got a nice letter from her boyfriend."
"Good. He an ass?" Sarah asked.
"He seems nice but we'll be meeting when we go up to pick her up at the end of school," Catherine told her. "Greg, is that okay?"
"Sure, not an issue. We can even set a portkey up there and back if you wanted. It's not that hard and I just recently brushed up on that skill again." He sat down as Grissom came in, looking attentive and taking his case to head out on.
Alex sat and pouted. He knew he was pouting, everyone knew he was pouting, and Bill was giving him funny looks because he was pouting. Still, he was pouting. This just sucked. He couldn't work when he was pouting, he couldn't concentrate to work because of the reason he was pouting. Draco walked in carrying something and he frowned at him. "What's that?"
"Mail from Aunt Cordy for me." He handed over the sack of cookies and brownies to Bill, who was keeping the treats from Harry and Ron. "She wanted to remind me that you do have to have a named heir, one who carries on the family name, wanted to know if someone like Greg's coworker Catherine could do it for you since she'd be an uncomplicated match, and how best to do this project so I wouldn't kill you for cheating. She also said to quit sulking, you're not too young to be a grandfather."
"I am so! Harry's older, he's my student. I'm too young to have some toddler come up to me and call me Grandpa Alex. Even if I am, Holly will teach the kid to do that just to annoy the fuck outta me. I know she will."
"So disown the child," Bill said dryly.
"Right! After I just got done fixing the family will and the family tree! Besides, Dad would kill me if I did that." Draco and Harry both nodded, smirking at him. "Why Catherine?"
"She's had a witch, she's not related in any means or way, and she's fairly nice and decent as a mother. They figured she's got a bit of empty nest or they could talk her into it." He shrugged. "I have no idea how this stuff is done."
"I do, and I'm still not sure of it," he complained, going back to his pouting. He hated to pout but it felt so good at the moment. "I hate this."
"I know," he soothed, giving his mate a deep kiss. "Also, she said she sent Ginny all the information she had on Valkyries so she'd get an idea of what the normal witch and wizard thought as well."
"Fine. I'm sure Dawn'll put 'em back sometime." He pouted at his mate. "I'm too young to be a grandfather."
"Only in this life. In reality you're old enough to be a great-great-grandfather," he teased. "After all, you're about what, eighty-five? Kids can have ones at fifteen. That's nearly four generations worth there. Well, five really. Giving the kids too much credit."
"That's a horrible thought," Ron said dryly. "Isn't his daughter in Belgium enough? She named her kids Dumasses."
"No," Xander sulked. "Dad said there had to be new blood, true blood Dumasses. Does he like Catherine for that?"
"Not a clue," he admitted. "The last I knew he was pondering Indian witches and Asian witches."
"Pure lines you're not related to," Draco said firmly.
"The inbreeding at home is horrible," Xander agreed. "Maybe some nice mail order witches or maybe just some exchange students would be nice."
"I've suggested that to mother in the past, she has said that the board might agree, as long as they came from a reputable and formidable school."
"You mean like the one started in India? It's right outside Delhi. There's one in Thailand as well, out by where all the temples are. I've been there, they're very nice, but very strict and uptight. There's one in Japan I think, but it's fairly small. There's one in Africa, out on the plains, just away from the desert, but I'm not sure where. There's the Brazilian school, and the one in Mexico, plus Canada's and the US's tragic mistakes and Salem."
"Australia doesn't have one?" Harry asked. "I thought they would."
"There's a small academy that does it but it's not a *school* like Hogwarts, it's more like a muggle school with extra classes. Like what Chicago wanted to be. They've actually got a mixed school and the witches and wizards just take some different classes among them." Draco looked horrified at that. "The African one's ancient, but it's based on native and local magics more than most. They're great hosts there. I had to visit once about an artifact that suddenly came to life. Way back when. There's also a few specialist schools, like New York, Florence, and Ryhad. That one may be closed. They had a fundamentalist uprising a few decades back."
"That's where those princesses who wanted you came from when they came in for an exchange year," Ron said in awe. Alex nodded. "Wow."
"They were nice but they wanted marriage and I didn't." He shrugged a bit, blushing a bit too when Draco just stared at him. "We got one from Australia to come in and study charms with me. She was teaching in New York the last time I knew, but that was about five years ago. There's a small academy that does specialist stuff for curse breakers in Belgium, but I hated it there. That's where Dumbledore wanted to send Dawnie that time. Um, there's a system of schools built like the UC college system in California, so the kids move from center to center for specialist terms. Instead of doing full load, you do blocks there. But it's like Andromeda, Capitol campus, and Andromeda, San Francisco campus, and Andromeda, Verde campus. They're like hippies there the last I knew."
"Dawn would love that," Ron said dryly.
Xander nodded. "She would but they don't usually put out curse breakers. They put out some transfiguration people, a lot of herbologists, and a lot of people who go into muggle fields, but use magic like Greg does. Andromeda's a popular school, but it's not the best. Salem is one of the highest academically. Canada's not far behind. Florence is the toughest ever seen though."
Harry shivered. "Do we do much work with the other schools?"
"Some recruiting now and then. Sometimes things happen to artifacts and we have to go handle it. I've been in Florence before because they had a problematic statue issue for a few weeks after a student's prank turned it on and it kept trying to stomp on the non- virginal girls and piss on the virgin boys." That got some snickers from the boys and Bill just groaned, shaking his head. "He was there then."
"Don't remind me. I had to take a revirgining potion to lure it."
"They make those?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, because there are witches who have families that virginity is important too, especially for alignment marriages," Draco said sarcastically. "Those girls at Hogwarts have a long talk with Madam Sprout because Professor Snape sneered at the class a few years back."
Alex nodded. "I would too. It's a dumb standard."
"It is," Ron agreed with a smirk. "Good thing I don't care about that with Dawn."
"Very," Harry agreed. "No more making me sleep in the same room as those two, please, Alex?" he pleaded. "They're noisy. Worse than you and Draco sometimes."
"That's possible?" Bill snorted.
"Yes, it is," Draco agreed dryly, frowning at Ron. "I heard you the last time. While having sex."
"Oops," Ron said, blushing bright red. "Not my fault. She was the one screaming."
"It nearly got you hexed too," Alex said firmly. "Okay, enough, let's get back to cataloging for the day and move onto tomorrow's plans." They got back to work, Alex stealing a brownie. "Did she say Catherine agreed?"
"No, just that they're working on her. Oh, and Greg threatened that Ecklie imbecile with you coming to town to do a dig. Seems he shut up fairly quickly."
"We can do that," Xander agreed dryly. "I don't know what we'd dig for but yeah, we can do that. You guys still wouldn't get to have any fun after hours." They all groaned and went back to work. This was too important to screw up.
To Part 20