Alex looked at the people around the house then groaned in complaint. He got up to find his apprentices, finding them arguing in the Dark Arts library. He walked in and shut the door, then glared at the person beside him. "Shoo." He opened the door and they left with a sly smile for them. He shut and silenced the room, looking around again before looking at the boys. "Okay, I'm bored so we're going to go over a few things that haven't been touched yet. Things you've got to learn and some things I've got to get done. Grab your jackets, we're heading to the ancestral home."
"This isn't?" Draco asked.
"Nope. Sorry. This is the modern home. We're sneaking out in a half hour, once I've managed to find my cloak and a few things. We're going to Diagon first and then we'll head back there. Be sly, you don't want the aunts to see you." They nodded and he unsealed the door, heading back toward his study. His Aunt Nadia gave him a heated glare and he kissed her on the cheek. "I need to get something for Harry," he whispered in hear ear. "His shoulder's still bothering him and we don't have any pain potions made according to Draco. I'm slipping out to the apothecary."
She nodded. "Hurry back, Alex."
He smiled and headed into his study, finding a few things he had imported from the vaults when the house had been set back up. He found a special set of rings and another wand in his desk drawer. This one was onyx, much like Dawn's obsidian wand, but not quite the same or for the same purpose. Hers stored energy, his was for a special rite. He pocketed them and a vault key, slipping out through that floo. He came out in the Leaky and dusted off, nodding at the drowsing barkeeper. There wasn't anyone in there, it was nearly ten at night. "Going into Diagon. Expect the apprentices if they're smart." He headed out, pulling out his usual wand for the tapping on the bricks. He walked through and sealed it on the other side, then prowled down to the bank. This late at night, people usually only snuck down into Knockturn for the most evil of things. Unless they were a curse breaker. Then they headed to the special doorway under the stairs of the bank. He tapped twice before walking in, nodding at the goblins sitting around the main meeting table. "I just realized I haven't given Harry the special family lessons and the house is over crowded with holiday fellowship. I'm going to puke if I had to stay. I can get it myself."
Alex pulled out the key to look at it. "Forty-nine." He headed up to the carts, taking one down to the vaults. He knew the inside of this bank like he knew the cracks on the soles of his feet - they changed every now and then but the main paths were the same. He stopped the cart near his vault and took the lantern over to it, getting in there to scoop out some gold. The rings fell out of his pocket so he put it back and then found the other thing he'd need on the shelf built into the wall. He checked himself over before closing the vault door and heading back up there, going out the same door. Once he was outside, he found the boys staring in the broom shop and grinned. "Later, boys." They jumped and spun to look at him, Harry's hand reaching for his wand before he could stop it. "Good reflexes. Now, let's visit Oliver so we can use his floo." He nudged Draco and handed him the special rings. "Hold those. They fell out of my pocket."
"Sure." He tucked them into his pants pocket and followed him. "Where is the ancestral home?"
"Oh, up near the top of the land mass." Ron knocked on the back door of the shop and Tipsy opened it so he grinned. "We need the floo."
"It's really late. What are you doing out here?" She let them inside, looking at them. "Just getting back? No, you're too clean for that. Heading off to an emergency?"
"Stupid holiday party at the house," Harry told her. "The house was more full than it was over the summer holidays." He watched as Alex whispered in each of their ears, taking his floo powder to send himself there. He came out the other side right after Ron, nearly tripping over him. Then he saw why. Draco came out and hit his back so he moved them out of the way for Alex to come out. He went back to staring at the ancient castle in front of them. It wasn't as big as Hogwarts. It wasn't as grand as some of the Monarchy's castles. This one was ancient, you could feel the power of the land around them. The castle almost throbbed to their sensing abilities. There was ivy along most of the outside. He looked back at Alex. "Is it hidden by illusion?"
"Why? No one can get up here. The valley's blocked off. It's blocked from fly overs," he offered. "This is my favorite house really. Most of the saved stuff ended up here once I started the anti-theft spells on the former house that got destroyed by that very suspicious lightening storm after I was deaged." He waved a hand. "Let's go, it's home." He put a hand on Harry's. "Tomorrow you're going to get Sev. Just Sev. Not the wife or anyone. If she asks, tell her we're here, but nothing else. She probably wouldn't want to come up now anyway." He nodded, heading up at a job to catch up to Ron. Alex relaxed and took a deep breath of the cold, crisp, clean air. There was almost no pollution up here. The magic was clear and natural up here and the lands were still pure.
He walked up to the front doors and tapped his wand once, releasing the wards. The door swung open and he stepped inside behind the boys. "There's cleaning spells but they might have failed a bit here and there," he warned. He closed the door behind him and tapped his wand on it again. It sealed and Harry gave him an odd look. "It's got a reason, Harry." He walked them back to his study here, starting the fire with his wand while Draco dusted the spots that had been missed, including the old couch. He sat behind his desk, putting his feet up with a smile. "This is my house, guys. The ancestral home is the one I prefer. When I have to clear my head or my senses, I come here. This is where the seat of the family and the family's power is. This is where the records of the family's deeds, children, and things are kept."
Ron looked around again, shaking his head. "This is magnificent, Alex. Is that oak on the paneling and the bookcases?"
"No, birch. Really old birch that was stained." He looked around. There was only one portrait in here, one of second daughter born to the clan. His desk was presently clean but for a single sheet of parchment. He looked at it and snickered. "The last time I was here I wrote myself notes and I'm about to enact most of it. One's done." He crossed that one with a muggle pen from his cloak pocket. He considered another one then made a check beside it. "Okay. The bedrooms are on the third floor. This floor is mostly this study, a meeting room, the library, and the kitchens. The library is magical, it is spelled to be really huge, and no, you can't live in there, Draco. You may not fly in there, Harry. Ron, yes, you have to read now and then." They boys all snickered at that. "Come on, I'll show you through that area and then up to the bedrooms." He walked them that way, showing them the kitchen and the food lift, then the meeting room since a back hallway led back to it. They walked back up the hall and he noticed Draco was starting to look around in confusion. "Music?"
"Yes, harp music."
"It's one of the resident ghosts. We've got four here. One was my great-aunt, the first curse breaker. One was Olivina, the family's first daughter and spoiled bitch of the universe. One was my youngest brother, he died during a riding accident when he was six. The other is Master Nierly. He's the one playing the music. He was the son of a siren and a bard. He was an indebted servant to the house since he owed us a life debt for saving him from his father's family when he showed up with his old man. He basically became the tutor of the family, especially in music. The harp and piano are in the ballroom the next floor up." He opened the door to the library and let the boys walk in before him. He'd been here before.
Draco gaped and lit the torch beside them, which lit the rest. "Bloody hell," he said in awe. "It must be thirty stories!"
"The original one was only six but then the main house's library used to be ten plus two special collection rooms. Plus I got some book happy moments before I was deaged since I've had every single book I've ever found copied and there's a copy in the original language and a translation into English." He smiled. "The card catalog is that wooden boxy thing. You find the card you want, put it on the worn out velvet pad. It flies down to the desk. You put it on the cart and it reshelves itself once a day." Draco gave him an amazed look. "It's necessary. We lost the library elf in the lightening storm but even she had to use it when I started bringing home books." He let the boys wander while he led Draco to a locked glass cabinet, holding out a hand. "Rings." They were dug out and handed over. "Thanks." He searched and put one against the doors, letting Draco see it.
"The family crest. It opens most things but not all. The others are for special collection rooms. Speaking of, these are the books that list each thing and where to find anything on them." He waved a hand at the fat volumes. "Anything listed in red ink should be missing but I've gotten most of it except for the dark artifacts back." Draco pulled out one marked 'Family Jewelry' and flipped through it, stopping at six pages of red. He looked at him and showed him. "Those went to Russia with the daughter who married over there. I'm guessing they got broken up and reformed. That book will show red for that reason. Either that or Stalin got them during the Purge and he had them melted and confiscated the jewels for himself." He stole a kiss. "Technically, as my wife, it's your job to handle these things. That's mostly what Aunt Nadia does these days."
"I'm still stuck on some of these pieces sitting around," Draco said, showing him one's drawing. "I've never seen that."
Alex looked at the entry, pointing at a spot. "It's in the hidden storage space she put up in Russia. We're going to liberate it again in a few days." Draco nodded and put the book back, letting him close the doors so he could look at the card catalog. "It's by subject," he noted.
"Merlin," Ron said, looking at him. "Alex, how?"
"My family is as old as the Weasley and Malfoy families, Ron. Even if most of us did die in a plague, we're still here." He swallowed and closed the door, but Draco pulled it back out and looked over the cards, finding one and putting it on the velvet. It floated down to the table with a soft 'fump' as it landed. Draco left the card in the box for them and went to get it, taking it with him. "Just remember to put it back on the cart," he said, noticing it was the history of the family. He grinned and stole a kiss. "It's interesting reading. We had some bastards in the family during the Middle Ages and the Age of Quests." He led them up the grand staircase, showing them to the second floor. That was the ballroom, which took up three-quarters of the floor, and the formal dining room, plus a few drawing rooms that looked over the bay in the back. "We had a few pirates in the family too," he said, grinning at the ancient ship rotting out there. "We should go clean that out too. I don't think I ever have, but it's too cold to practice underwater retrieval now."
He led them up to the next floor, showing them the hidden door. There was no open door to the next floor. No one but the family was allowed up there. He led the boys to a suite of rooms, leaving them in there while he took Draco down to the master suite, which was a half-floor up. It was in a tower and it had a beautiful view. He pulled Draco closer, letting him rest against his chest as they both stared out at the water. "See, there's the stables," he whispered, pointing at an area. "They used to free roam around in the summers." He pointed at a large, old tree. "That's the best place in the world to hide and read. The branches have an obfuscate spell on them. I used to hide there for ages and read." He kissed him on the temple and walked him over to another window, this one looked out at the sealed pass. "Great-great grandfather sealed that pass and put on the anti-detection spells," he said quietly. "He even planned for air assaults, figuring that mankind was too stubborn to not break that unnatural barrier too." He pointed at something. "That's the floo we came out of. That is the only floo port in this valley. There's a hidden one in the hills to the right but no one, and I do mean no one but me, knows it's there. The family used to use it for rituals when we had Druid members."
"How big is this valley?" Draco asked, looking back at him.
"Nearly six miles in diameter. We own the whole valley and part of the county around it. Now and then I've let a family set up a farm further down but nothing too major. There's a small village about ten miles down the path on the other side of the blockade. We'll go up tomorrow onto the crenelation to look at the area. The last time I was here was about six months ago and three of the farms were empty. The land's really rocky and hard to farm." He stole another kiss, walking Draco to the bedroom section, showing him the bed. "That is the bed that I was conceived in and most of the other family was. Some day, we'll have to let Harry use it to carry on the family name. Or we'll have to carry on the family name with a surrogate in here. It's been blessed with the centuries of love. We never believed in marrying for power or skills, only for love and affections. No matter who it was." He grinned at him. "There was a set of twins once that married each other. They couldn't stand to be apart or to let another come between them. Fortunately no kids." Draco blushed a bit at that. "We don't have to sleep here, Draco. It won't bother me if you feel odd about it."
Draco put down the book and walked over there, sitting down on the soft, warm comforter. He took off his jacket and put it onto the chair beside his side of the bed. Then he unbuttoned his shirt. "It should be blessed again, Alex." His mate smiled and got undressed, coming over to help him. The bed was big enough that they could each pick a direction and lay without touching but it was nice. It was warm and soft to lie in. He let his mate pounce him, gently of course. "There's no fertility spells, right?" he teased.
"We've never needed it," he promised. He took another kiss and the world was right for him. "I'd rather live here," he said as he stroked his mate. "This house has always been my favorite. It needs life and love here to prosper."
"It also needs people to entertain now and then, otherwise that ballroom is going to waste."
"It mostly has for the last six centuries," he noted dryly. "Now and then a family wedding is held there. Harry's going to have his there. Dawn may if she wants. Sev should have. All first heirs do." He took another kiss and moved down to the pale neck. "This house is more amazing than Hogwarts could ever be, Draco," he said quietly. "It's more magical, built on more love and for the purer purposes. This is my true home."
Draco pulled him up to look at him. "If you wish to move here, I'm for it, but we're getting at least a house elf," he said seriously. "I don't mind living so far from the world. I can always floo or apparate."
"No apparation on the lawn," he offered with a shy grin. "Portkeys are fine. Those came later than the anti-disclosure spells."
"Anti-disclosure?" Alex nodded. "You're serious?" He nodded again, grinning at him. "So I can't write mum and tell her how amazing this is?"
"She'd forget after reading it."
"Oh." He smiled suddenly. "What if she visits?"
"We'd have to specifically invite her. It's unplottable, unfindable by any means except invitation. The wards and spells on it make the fidelus charm look like fairy lights." Draco pulled his head down for another kiss. "I've never brought anyone here," he said quietly. "Not even Valera. We were planning a trip up so I could plan to have the wedding here but she died first." He stroked over Draco's cheek. "You're not the first Malfoy to sleep in here either. There's been three others, all female. You're also not the first bloke in here. There's been ten of those and their surrogates conceived in here. Twelve surrogates over the decades and centuries. One was a maid." Draco smiled at that. "If and when we have a child to carry on the line, it must be conceived here."
"Of course. Otherwise it wouldn't be part of the family traditions."
"The last six went dark and evil, Draco. It's important. The last ones were Justinius and Mel." He shivered at that. "Before that, the four dark lords and demon consorts weren't conceived in here. Even the grandkids should be conceived in here but I transferred some of the spells to Severus' room without telling him so he wouldn't have to face a kid darker than we've ever seen. We'll change the sheets when Harry's ready to consummate his wedding night." He stroked down the soft side. "Do you mind horribly?"
"No. Where would we sleep?"
"Probably in the Mistress' chamber," he teased with a grin. "Back then wives were more accepting. It kept their husbands from groping them when they were ill, pregnant, or having their monthlies."
"Wow. Did she stay over all the time?"
"Usually she was considered a lady in waiting for the lady of the house. The Heir's chamber has one too. I think Ron's staying in there tonight. That would have been the lady in waiting for the Heir's wife." Draco snickered at that. "I know. We need to find Harry a girl." He stole another kiss and got back to what he had been doing. "You're mine, all mine, Draco. I vow it to you. We are mated."
"We are mated," Draco agreed, letting his mate consummate the important things with him this time. Next time he'd bend his mate over and make him howl in pleasure. Alex grinned at him and got back to work.
Alex looked up as Harry and Severus walked in, grinning at him. "Come on. We're in the library since not even Ron wants to leave."
"What is this valley?" Severus asked as they walked.
"This is the ancestral home, Sev. This is where the family started and where it'll stop some century far from now. My great-great-grandfather did the non-disclosure, non-seeing, blockading, and other spells on it. The spells holding the castle safe are so strong that not even the fidelus charm beats them. You can only get here by special invitation of the Lord, me, or the Heir, Harry and You." He opened the door to the library, smiling at the look of awe on his face. "I think I've added more to this room than anyone else with all I've found. Each book I found I've had copied and later translated and the translation bound as well." Severus looked at him. "I told you I liked finding old knowledge more than anything. Ron." Ron and Draco both put down their books and Ron nudged Harry, who put down the family history Draco had let him have when he had found the potions section. "Thanks." He looked at his son. "I know you're on vacation but there's some things that must be done. I have to name an heir. I have to mark the heir. I also have to tell you that I had some of the family's charms put on your bed because if the heir isn't conceived upstairs in the main bed, it'll go dark. Fortunately I transferred some of the charms to your bed as we've done for ages past."
Severus looked at him. "Thank you, I think. What if I change beds?"
"It's linked into *you*, Sev. As long as you know it's your bed, it's your bed and I'll make sure. The same as I will in your room upstairs. The same as I will be Harry's room upstairs." He clapped his hands. "For now, we need to sit tight in here or in my office while I get something from downstairs."
"Can we go?" Draco asked.
"It's my storehouse, Draco."
"So?" Draco stood up, pushing his chair back in. "I'd like to see it. Even if it's just boxes."
"Fine." He pulled out the silver thing he had gotten out of the vault. "Come on. Then we're going outside." He led them to a hidden door in his study, smiling at Severus. "We can come back later."
"Who was she?" Severus asked, pointing at the painting.
"The second daughter of the family line. The first one was a spoiled bitch but she was a great woman. I've got her biography in the library in here." He led them down the stairs, lighting the first torch, which lit the rest as they walked nearer to them. At the bottom, the silver ring was laid against the block wall in various directions, and the block slid open. He lit the nearest torch, watching as the oil line was lit between each torch in line. He walked inside and toward the back. "Stay on the stairs. The floor here has traps. It'll sink if you walk onto it, Ron." Ron backed up a step, just in case, and sat down. Alex walked back to a trunk in the back of the room, bowing to it and kneeling in front of it. He pulled out the group of rings, pushing up a sapphire one. He laid it in the lock and the top popped open. He ran a hand over the velvet tray in there, then moved it out of the way. Underneath were six silver handles. He carefully drew one, thinking of his bond with his son. That got laid on top of the velvet tray and the top was removed. He pulled up a slim silver chain. Then he looked back and took out another dagger, thinking of Harry. Another chain was pulled up. He closed the silver tray, leaving one set in each hand. He closed the lid softly, bowing to it again. He got up and walked back to the stairs. "Okay, let's go."
"May I?" Draco asked.
Alex looked at him. "Later, Draco. Tomorrow." He nodded, following him up. Once the door was closed, the lights went out and the torches went out as they walked past them. The study door was shut and locked and Alex sat behind his desk. "Sev, last bookshelf on the right, behind the door. Allisandra's autobiography."
He went to look for it and held it up. "Thank you."
"Let's go outside. The nearest door is through the library. We're heading for the hills." He stood up again, grinning at Severus. "Head that way. You can bring the book. The ground's pretty smooth with how long we've been picking rocks." He nodded, following Ron back to the library and out the door. Alex took the things he had carried up out. "To the second cave on the second level," he called after them. "On the other end is a ramp or there's some shallow steps on this side."
Harry looked back at him, turning around to walk backwards. "You need something to get there. Horses?"
"We used to, Harry."
Draco looked at Harry. "He wants to move back here. Would you mind?"
Harry looked at him, then shook his head. "No, he's happier here. The other place is innocence and little kids and sunshine. This place is power, control, knowledge. It's making him smile and want to dance with you out here," he offered with a grin.
"Good. Then I'm moving back this weekend. It's closer to the school but you can't get into the valley except for a very few ways. I'll tell you how and give you entry keys once we're up there." He pointed at one area. "Stairs."
Ron jogged ahead, starting up them. "They're a bit shaky and there's loose stones," he called. He walked up a few more and slipped. "We need floating charms." He came down again. "Can we use magic?"
"We can," Alex agreed. "Or I can do this." He concentrated and a ramp of dirt formed in front of them. "We can go up." Ron nodded and walked up with Harry. Draco gave him a look before walking up with Severus. Then Alex walked up and banished the ramp once he was up, heading into the cave behind everyone. There was a small altar set up along one side and he bowed at it, laying everything he carried out on it, including the Onyx wand he had been carrying in his pocket. He took out the rings and laid his family crest ring in the proper spot, turning it. He relaxed and smiled, then turned and used the Onyx wand to light the laid firepit. "Gather around." He turned back to the small open chamber, pulling out a small pot of very old oil. It was charmed to always have enough for the heirs. He carried it over, waving it over the fire to warm up. "Severus Allejandro Snape, step forward." He stepped forward and he dipped his pinkie finger of his right hand into the oil, using it on his throat. "Are you or are you not an heir of the Clan Dumass and do you accept all that entails?"
"I do accept," he hissed. He winced as the oil chilled. "I am an heir of the Clan Dumass."
Alex nodded, looking at Harry. "Harry James Potter, step forward." He moved closer, going to his other side. He redipped his finger and ran the oil over his throat. "Are you or are you not an heir of the Clan Dumass and do you accept all that entails?"
"I am an heir, I am your grandson. I am an heir of the Clan Dumass."
Alex backed away from the fire, bowing to it. It slowly faded but stayed strong enough to warm the cool cavern. He put the oil back and closed the drawer, then picked up the first necklace. "Severus." He walked over and he put the necklace around his neck. He turned and picked up the dagger, handing it over hilt first. "This marks you as an heir. The necklace is shown to those of us who might doubt. The dagger is to be carried *always*. It is never to leave your side. Upon your death, it will return to the family once you are laid to rest. If someone should take it from you, it will return in three days. Should you lose it, it will stick you when it returns to its holder. It is your protection and your duty to carry it."
Severus nodded. "I understand. It will be with me always. Is there a sheathe proscribed?"
"No. No sheathe is proscribed and no method of carrying it is unallowed. However you feel best suits your needs at that time. Do you have other questions about this part of your duties?"
"No." He stepped back, sliding it into his pocket.
"Harry." He moved forward. "This marks you as an heir. The necklace is shown to those of us who might doubt. The dagger is to be carried *always*. It is never to leave your side. Upon your death, it will return to the family once you are laid to rest. If someone should take it from you, it will return in three days. Should you lose it, it will stick you when it returns to its holder. It is your protection and your duty to carry it." He put the necklace over his neck, then handed him the dagger properly.
"I understand, Alex."
"Good." He turned back to the altar, taking something off the key of rings. The family crest was taken off, as were two others. He looked at the back wall, then laid the family crest against one of the five marks. Two rings were put in two of the other spots. The family crest was moved to the other two spots in the right order and the background opened. He looked at the box, then up. "He's still a boy," he whispered. He took out the three boxes and laid them out. His own dagger came off a hidden sheathe on his lower back. The boxes were sliced open and exposed. He smiled at the gems in there. Then up again. "He can't wear part of them without looking silly," he said a bit louder. The box shimmered and the contents changed. He smiled at them. "Thank you, Allisandra." He turned, pulling up the onyx wand, pointing it at Draco. "To bond into the family is to give up your old life and to take on the name, the traits, and the will of the Clan. Only those who desire it more than their love will be denied. Do you love your mate enough to join into the family and are you willing to be a true member of the Clan as if you were born into it and as if you were born of my mother's loins?"
"I do love enough to join with the family," Draco said, moving closer. He walked up so the wand was against his chest. "I love enough to brave the wrath of the clan should I not appreciate and love enough. I love enough to brave harm from rejection. I love enough to even wear ugly jewelry for you."
Alex removed the wand and handed it to him. "It is the mate's duty to guard the family. The mate is the family's guardian and the consort is especially the one who trains and holds the family together. Do not doubt your place and do not doubt your importance, but it is important that you understand your place and your duties."
"I understand my duties and I'm sure my mate can help and if not, then there are many maiden aunts with not enough to do who would be more than willing to nag me."
"But you will protect the family?"
"With my last dying breath. Even from those inside it."
Alex nodded and took the wand back, laying it on the altar. He picked up the first velvet case and showed it to him. "These are pieces that the lead consort, the Lord's spouse, wears. Most of them wear at least one each day, though they are very fancy and not very suited to digs."
"There's ways around that."
"Good." He laid on each piece. The bracelet. The first necklace. The ear cuff. The empty box was put down and the cover replaced, and it resealed itself. He picked up the second one. The heavier, more fancy necklace, was put on Draco's neck. That case was put down. The third was a more whimsical choice and it came from later down the line. He picked up the small tiara and put it in the silvery blond locks, noticing the silver complimented and shined in them. The last case was put down and sealed, then they were put back. He resealed the wall case and pulled up one last box, one that he had put here many years ago. He smiled as he turned and moved forward, pulling out the ring and putting it on the correct finger. "My mate."
"Your mate," he agreed, staring into his eyes. He smiled a bit and Alex leaned forward, giving him a chaste kiss. Draco winced, grabbing his forehead. It faded and he got another kiss. "Still your mate, even though you're not getting sex tonight," he noted.
Alex grinned at him. "It must be consummated. I'll let you have a headache potion though." He stole a third kiss, then picked up the onyx wand, handing it back to Draco. "It is the consort and spouse's job to lead all rituals not related to the heirs," he said quietly. "It is your job to hold this wand. Not on you as if its a dagger, but it is your job to hold and make sure it's never broken. This is Allisandra's wand. It is priceless and special. It is never to be lost, broken, chipped, bumped, or anything harmful coming near it."
"Of course." He put it in his pocket, then carefully backed up a step so the tiara didn't fall. "The family's causes and treasures are mine."
Alex swallowed and nodded, turning back to the altar. He bowed and stroked over it. The fire went out and he took the rings, putting them back onto the ring. He took another step back then looked at his mate. "Let's go down the original ramp. It's closer to the kitchens."
"We didn't find any food at breakfast," Ron said. "We only found some really *old* tea leaves."
"I can send Harry out for some."
Severus looked at him. "How would he get back?"
Alex grinned. "The necklace has the entry key. You may portkey in to the area in front of the caves. That's what that darkened patch of ground is. Any portkey set to the castle will only land there. The floo can be gotten through as well. Now that you know of this valley, you are welcome here until you are kicked out of the family. The necklace lets the protections on the floo know you. No apparation, unless done in an emergency. If the wards feel you in mortal peril, it may let you apparate in. It has me in the past. They found me here after that curse hit." Snape nodded at that. "The only other way in is by ship and you must land in the cove beside the ship. Anything other than that and you will be fried. If you *really* want, you can always hike over the barrier but you can't use magic in or around it. The other side is null magic and the barrier itself makes you feel really sick while you're walking over it from the magic sucking. Come on, to the left. Harry, do you have any gold or should I summon the bag? If you head home you're going to get screamed at."
"Can we go to the muggle village?" Harry offered.
"No. It's ten miles away and I haven't scoped the area by broom yet."
"Aunts, Harry. Aunts. Hogsmeade is closer."
"Sure." They walked down the ramp and Harry walked over to the darkened area, creating a portkey. "Cute jewelry, Draco." He disappeared with a pop once his portkey activated.
Alex grinned at them. "If I move back, do you want horses, Draco?"
"I wouldn't mind one," he offered. He took off the tiara to look at, then at his mate. "Do I have to wear them all inside?"
"There's a very pretty Japanese wood box inside for you to keep that and the other stuff in," he promised, stealing a kiss. "Though it does look good in your hair. It shines and picks up the color of the silver strands and makes each other glitter and twinkle." He stole another kiss and grinned. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Though you're probably never going to get me into the tiara or this really girlish necklace ever again."
"Yes, dear." He took his hand to hold. "Please don't even knock the wand into anything."
"I'll put it in the box too," he promised. "My mother's family had something like that." He gave the hand in his a squeeze. "How would we get a horse up here?"
"Portkey." He grinned at him. "It's good grazing during the summers."
"Are we going back to Malgadesh after the holidays, Alex?" Ron asked. "Not to break up the mushy stuff," he offered when Draco shot a glare at him.
"Yes, but the goblins wanted us to take some extra time. They're not sure it's safe yet. They want us to wait until spring. I said February. You guys need some special lessons and it's got to come from me or Bill. Bill's the only one I've ever taught it to," he offered quietly, grinning at him. "It's what keeps Bill safe." He looked at Severus. "You need these lessons too. It's part of the birthright, son."
Severus looked at him. "Dumbledore won't be pleased."
"Ask me if I give a damn," he noted dryly. "I'll call him. It'll start to drive you insane the next time we have a 'quake now that it's awakened."
"Fine. If you can get it cleared. Can Holly show up?"
"If she wants. Next week sometime." He grinned at Draco. "You're going to learn too. It's not hard, but it's not something that you usually think about."
"I'm always happy to learn," he offered. "As long as it won't mess up my hair."
"No, it won't mess up your hair," he promised. "Though you might sweat at first." He led the way through the back door and into the kitchen, looking around. "Ron, think you can sneak back to the house?"
"We need a house elf. I'm a crap cook." He looked at him. "Get Me or Silt."
"Me is involved in that project for Nadia taking down book names. Silt is barely moving after that unicorn kicked her," Ron reminded him.
"Okay, then take Sev and go to the house elf shelter."
"Must I?" Snape asked.
"Someone's got to. Do we want me to go?"
"You can go," Ron offered with a grin. "I'll crack at the pitifulness."
"Fine." Alex went to the fireplace in the kitchen, tossing in some communication floo powder. "Aunt Cordy." Her head spun up and a hand came up to hold her forehead. "Sorry, I know you hate it when I do that. I'm moving back to the ancestral home. I can't stand all the innocence and light and sweetness back there." She raised an eyebrow. "Draco agrees." He moved so she could see what he was wearing. "The tiara looks good in his hair, auntie. It sparkles and makes his hair shine."
"Why do you do this to me now?"
"Because Holly is pregnant," he told her. She smiled at Severus and he nodded once. "Harry's getting us food. I've got to teach them earth sensing. It's better for me here, Auntie. This is *my* home. That house is dad's and mom's and yours."
"Fine. What do you need?"
"A house elf, the stuff, and no whining and bitching when I come back for the swamp, my study, and all that stuff."
"I can have it packed. Are you coming back for the holiday meal?"
"Of course." He grinned at her. "Then again, you won't have a house full of Banes."
"Point. Fine. How many house elves? We used to keep at least four up there."
"It'll just be us here. I was hoping one or two."
"Fat chance," she snorted. "Fine. Do you want the dark arts collection?"
"Um, probably," he admitted dryly. "That way it won't hurt the unicorns or the holy water well."
"Holy water?" Severus asked.
"Yeah, the unicorns have blessed it each year," Ron told him. "I accidentally put my foot in it and it burned."
"I'll have to gather some later. So will Philip," Severus noted. "I also need to tell Dumbledore I have family business to complete here."
"Fine. Anything else?" she asked, looking at him.
"I'll be the one to invite the Banes."
She rolled her eyes. "Anything else?"
"No, just that. I'll even come pack."
"Alex, we love you, but you're fussy, rude, loud, messy, and a pain in the ass with the unicorns here. Stay there. I'll pack and send all the presents and everything. Any particular house elves that you want?"
"I like Me."
"I like Me," she agreed. "Fine. She'll be your lead house elf. What about beasts of burden?"
"No, you can have the cows. I'll buy milk and cheese," he assured her with a small grin.
"We'll send you the extra we pull up," she promised, rolling her eyes again. Harry staggered in with bags. "Harry, dear, is everything in your room?"
"But my pack and the camp stuff," he offered. He handed Ron the bags, then slumped down against the table. "Thanks, Ron."
Ron got to work putting stuff up. "Should I put on water to boil, Alex?"
Aunt Cordy snickered. "Ron, honey, I tasted your stew. It was all salt and carrots." He shrugged, grinning at her. "House elf shelter?"
"It's kinder," Alex agreed. "You know what I need and want?" She gave him a steady look and nodded. "Cool." He grinned at her. "Okay, the Banes were coming over for lunch the day after Christmas. We'll be here until February. We love you."
"I love you too, Alex." She disappeared. She looked at the other aunts, who all looked worried. "Alex is moving back to the family home!" she announced. The aunts shrieked and hugged each other, dancing around. He really did get in their way and brought danger with him. He'd be much happier there and they'd love him even more for it. Besides, it gave them another reason to fuss and make treats.
Alex looked at Sev, going over to help Ron with the food. "You're really lucky you're already married. Otherwise you'd end up having it upstairs in the ballroom," he told him. "Harry, plan on that."
"Fine. Can I invite Oliver and Bear up too?"
"We'll see. You could actually take your own house down the valley," he offered dryly. Harry's face lit up. "Go for it." Harry hugged him and hauled Ron off so they could get their brooms and fly up to look around the outer edges of the hills and see if they could see the town. They came back in babbling about what they had seen. Alex held up a hand. "How far up did you go?"
"Over the barrier. The town's really small," Harry told him. "There's like seven buildings together and they looked like houses."
"The village is on the other side of there," Alex told him. "Toward the coast."
Ron smiled. "There's maybe six buildings there too. We thought it was another village." Alex shook his head. "Was that the emergency floo?" He nodded. "Cool." He looked at Harry. Then back at Alex. "There's a house just on the other side of the barrier."
"I know, they died of the magic-sucking making their kids sick. Did you look behind us?" Harry shook his head. "You should. There's a few houses that way too, and another tiny almost-village there. There used to a good few wizards there." The boys grinned at each other. "We'll look, boys." They nodded. "Go into the library and start writing out invitations, Harry." He ran off. "Ron, put on water. Sev, you handle the cooking. Unless we want me to?"
"I'd rather not die of food poisoning," Draco said with a pat. "Show me this box?" He nodded, leading him off.
Severus looked at Ron. "He can't cook?"
"He made chicken soup that ended up tasting like our soap. He's a worse cook than I am. Ooh, Dawn. She's gonna scream."
"The aunts probably have her well in hand. As well as Holly." He got to work chopping some of the meat Harry had bought, putting it into the pot Ron had just cleaned. "At least you learned something in Potions."
"Yeah, but I already knew how to clean, Professor," he teased with a grin. "If you had taught me practical stuff, like headache potions and contraceptives, I'd have aced those."
"Your finance said much the same thing. I did teach her contraceptives personally and privately. Just to make sure she never messed it up again."
"Thank you, Merlin," Ron said, giving him a hug. He went back to what he had been fussing with, making some dough. "Do we need biscuits or a crust?"
"Cool. Harry forgot tea." He shrugged and got back to work.
Tipsy and the twins came out of the floo with the kids clinging to them, looking around at the castle. "Wow," she said, blinking hard. "I heard rumors that there was a hidden castle up here." She walked off with the kids running in front of them. "Head for the fairytale place," she called. They squealed and raced for the door. "I'm so glad they're walking."
"Us too," the twins assured her with a grin. They heard the floo go off and turned to find Emilia and Greg, waving them on. Lindsey came out with them. Dawn, Luna, and Ginny soon followed and the four girls got together to chat while Greg let down the kids to chase after the two sets of twins in front of them.
Emilia jogged to catch up. "We found a house elf just like Jett," she told Tipsy, who cackled and hugged her. "Seriously! His name is Night and Greg found him at the shelter. He threw a knife at someone coming in being noisy," she shared, making her friend hug her and cackle against her shoulder. "I have two house elves, one's a nanny!" she said happily.
"Who's Jett?" one of the twins asked.
"Oh, an old friend," Tipsy told them. "A very old friend. An assassin who used to try to win my hand." She shook her head, grinning at Emilia. "She drove him insane and away. He respects Emilia very much."
"Thank you," the other twin said, kissing her on the cheek. "What is this place?"
Ron came out at the pounding on the door by little fists. "Go inside, up the stairs *carefully*, and into the big room that's got the open doors." They ran past him and most of them went up the stairs. Harry caught the other one and sent Joxer up there too with a gentle swat on her backside and a smile. Ron looked at the adults. "I thought there'd be more of us."
"There are. They're running behind," Tipsy told him.
"What is this place?" Greg demanded.
"The Clan's ancestral home. Alex is moving back here full time." He grinned at them. "Harry's taking a small house just outside the valley. Up the stairs and into the ballroom." He looked at his lady, his sister, and their friends. Ginny was wearing real clothes. "No leather?" he asked sarcastically, leaning in their way.
Dawn smirked at him. "Only if you've been a naughty boy."
"I try so very hard," he teased back. He got a kiss and he stroked her back. "Upstairs to the ballroom, ladies. Luna, Ethan and Wes won't ever know this is here. There's an anti- disclosure charm on the whole valley. It's stronger than any Fidelus charm ever cast according to Alex."
"Sure," she agreed, heading past him and up the stairs. She caught the baby trying to come down and carried him up, handing him to his mother, who was staring at the walls. "This is nice."
"It's very nice," Tipsy said in awe, taking her son. "Man, they must have held some massive balls in here."
Alex walked out of the dining room. "We did. Weddings too. Dawn, this is where you're holding your wedding. Tough shit, get over it. Buffy will forget all about the house but remember the event she attended." He looked at Ron, who looked amused. "You'll have to make the same consort's vows, Ron."
"Not like mum would mind losing a son," he offered with a shrug. "She'll be able to make a wonderful entrance too. It'll be good." Drawn gave him a long stare. "Tough."
"Fine. If I must," she sighed.
"You must," Alex agreed with a grin. "You're family, it's mandatory."
"What about yours with Draco?" she asked archly.
"We've already done the vows. They were witnessed by Severus, Harry, and Ron." He looked at the others. "Where is everyone else?"
"Late, as usual," Luna assured him. More people came in and she waved. "See?" She headed for the room Alex had come out of, smiling at the nice, long table. "It'll actually fit all of us, the entire group and kids, spouses, and lovers."
"That's the idea," Alex called. "You may not call yours!"
"I know." She came back out. "It's amazing. No tree?"
"In the library. We'll get there last so we can lose Greg in there with Sev, Draco, and a few others." He smiled as Draco came in wearing the more simple chain. "Your mother?"
"I flooed, she's coming. She's just having hair problems." He looked at the children, then at Severus. "Soon you'll have one of those."
"No, mine will behave," he noted dryly. Tipsy cackled. "No child of mine shall end up being a heathen brat." He smiled as his wife came in with Philip, pulling her closer for a chaste kiss. "Welcome."
"This is the ancestral home. Dad said he was banned from here."
Alex nodded. "Yup, and staying banned."
She shrugged. "Nothing in that statement or sentiment bothers me."
"Good." He grinned as the rest of their guests showed up. "The dining room is behind me. Greg, you can get lost once we've done presents. Food." He got out of the way, taking Draco's hand to kiss the back of it as he followed his guests in. Once everyone had found a seat and parked it, he smiled at them. "I have some news to announce. For those of you who don't know, Severus is my son. I did the heir's ceremony for him and Harry the other day and Draco and I said our formal clan vows." That got some claps and hooting. "Thank you," he offered with a grin. "Those of you here are here because you may need to get here, either for safety," he said, nodding at Greg, "or for something happening and I can't be gotten another way," he said, nodding at the twins. "Anyone else coming, like Narcissa, who's really late due to her hair, will forget the location and how to get here, but not the event they attended. Greg, Tipsy, boys, Emilia, Dawn, Ginny, Luna, Philip, Nick, Methos, you are all now keyed into the floo. The rest of you won't be refused entry but the wards will be very cautious."
"In other words, floo or call over the markings first," Draco noted. "After all, we could be busy."
That got some laughs and they dug into the ham and other stuff. When everyone was done, they headed down to the library. Greg looked around, his face looked like a kid getting every Christmas and birthday present in their life at once. Alex patted him on the back, pointing at the card catalog. "By subject. The card goes on the velvet pad. The books don't leave the valley without me having to unspell them," he said quietly.
Greg hugged you. "I love you, man. You're my favorite problem and attention getter." His phone rang and he looked at it, then grimaced and answered it. "Grissom, I'm in Scotland and it's my day off," he noted first. "It had better be *damn* good. I just found a thirty million book library. No, Alex's. He's moved back to the ancestral home and it's a *huge* library. Like thirty stories *huge*." He grinned. "I love you too but I'm not on call and you *promised* me that I would not be working on Christmas, Grissom. What old friend. Put him on. Jett?" He raised an eyebrow. "Jace. He's in Chicago the last I knew. We just ran into him. Yeah, Grissom knows. He and Methos have had a lot of long talks. Cool. Yuppers. Nope, Alex Dumass." He cackled. "Thirty story library. Love you too, man. Emilia said hi." He hung up. "Jace is in town looking for his brother."
"They're real!" Tipsy demanded. "I know Jett is, but I thought it was a coincidence!"
"We woke up Strife by accident," Ron offered, raising a hand slightly. "It's Alex's fault," he said when everyone stared at him. "He's back asleep. We made sure of it, and we're going back in February."
Greg looked at his wife. "If our kids turn out like Alex, I'm going to blame Jett."
She kissed him and patted him on the cheek. "Our kids won't be curse breakers. If they want to go that way, they'll work in the labs." She gave him a gentle shove toward the card catalog and he squealed, heading over to it. Methos, Severus, and Dawn met him there.
Methos looked over, holding up a book. "In Hindi?"
"And a translation," Alex said happily. "I have ever book and scroll I find copied and then translated and bound too."
Methos walked over and hugged him. "I love you, Alex." He went back to catalog, going to find something he wanted to read.
Draco and Alex sat down to hand out presents, piling the ones for those guys beside them. There was no pulling the book nerds from the books until they begged to take half the library home.
Greg danced back into the unit, hugging Grissom. "I've got my next Mastery paper already started," he said happily. "Alex's library is *massive* and it had some theoretical works that gave me a *great* idea!" He grinned at him and handed him a newly copied version. "About how cockroaches got started," he said happily. "It was his present to you." He bounced a bit. "Please tell me I'm in the field."
"I should punish you for what you said on the phone."
Greg kissed him on the cheek and patted him on the back. "Try, Grissom. What'm I gonna do with three days off? Sleep?" Grissom handed him a sheet. "Thanks, man." He headed to get his kit and everything from his locker, then headed out.
Grissom went to the lab, going to sit down and read this new book. It was an interesting look. Greg came back a while later and drew him from it so he looked out at him walking up the halls. "They *created* them!" he yelled. Greg grinned and nodded. "I don't believe that!"
"Read further, it's a history lesson and spread pattern." He walked into the labs, dropping a large paper bag off with David. "I had the *best* time, David. Alex has a thirty story library. *Every* book he's ever found he's had copied and translated separately."
David smirked. "So you spent the three days you had off reading?"
"Oh, you bet. I got my next Mastery paper started. There was some theoretical works there that just blew my mind and made me think odd thoughts. I've got so much stuff started on paper."
"Good. Will you have time for special projects?"
"Yeah, of course." Greg grinned at him. "The usual thing, someone held up a convenience store. Minor wound on the clerk, arm shot."
"I'll see what I can find." He glanced outside his glass cage then at Greg. "Can I ask for some of that special project time?"
"Sure. What's up? Need something for your shoulder again? Headaches?"
"I want to learn potions. There's got to be a link between potions and science."
Greg just blinked.