Dragons and Heirs.
"Greg, that's a dragon," Warrick said, stating the obvious while he stared at the DNA tech's present helper.
"There's no dragon, it's a figment of your imagination," Greg muttered as he worked. "Otherwise I'd have to see him too and I refuse."
"Greg, that's a dragon," Warrick said, shock starting to break through. He was grinning at the beast now. "Hi. Are you intelligent?"
"Warrick, you're talking to a figment, Grissom won't like that," Greg warned. Warrick glared at him. He glared back. "There are no dragons."
Warrick started to retort but Sarah helpfully came into the lab. "Greg, that's a dragon," she said in awe. "Damn, you're a cute dragon too," she cooed, reaching down to pet the dragon.
"There is no dragon!" Greg said tiredly. "It's a mass hallucination or something. Otherwise I'd have to see it too."
"Greg, with all that we've put up with your ...stuff, at least you could act a bit more nice about these things," Sarah reminded him coolly.
He put down everything and turned to look at her, the dragon mimicking him. "Sarah, Warrick, I appreciate it, but there is no dragon. There is something impersonating a dragon, something that's stuck as a dragon actually, but no real dragon. It's presently a figment of *my* imagination and I'm ignoring it," he finished with a smile. "If you can see my figments, then we've suddenly become telepathic and most wizards aren't."
"Greg, that's a dragon," Nick said as he walked in, with Hodges behind him.
"I told you he was bringing illegally imported and endangered species into the office," Hodges agreed
Greg moaned and shook his head. "Out! Or I'm not doing anyone's work!" They disappeared. He glared at the dragon, who grinned up at him. "You're still a figment of my imagination." He picked up everything and forced himself to go back to work. "Maybe I should have been a curse breaker after all," he muttered. "I seem to attract trouble."
"Sanders, why is there a creature in your office?" Brass asked. Greg put down everything and walked away, not going anywhere near him. "Okay then." He looked at the dragon. "You don't look at all like I imagined you. You're not big and flying." The dragon bleeted and stepped closer to nuzzle his leg. "Thanks. I appreciate you too," he promised, reaching down to pet it on the head.
"Did Greg buy Cassandra a familiar already?" Grissom asked as he walked past the door reading a file.
"I don't think they're allowed to keep these as pets," Brass noted, getting out of the way when Grissom backed up and looked into the lab. "I asked, Sanders just walked away shaking his head. He sighed too I think."
"Un-huh. Okay then. You, let's go sit you in the break room. You don't need to contaminate the DNA lab or we'll get into trouble. Come on, I know there's a donut or something around here." He walked him into the break room and turned on the tv, putting two donuts in front of the beast. "Stay here. Stay, boy." It bleeted and nuzzled him. "Yes, I think you're very nice too."
"Greg says he's a figment of his imagination," Warrick said from the doorway. "You might pour him some water too." He walked away, finding Greg outside sipping a brand- new cup of coffee, probably laced with something. "No being drunk at work."
"It's only flavoring, not real liquor. I can easily pass a bac," Greg promised between gulps. "He's a figment."
"Well, Grissom just fed your figment two donuts and put him in front of MTV."
"Oh, yeah, that's *just* what Mortimer needs," he said bitterly.
"Long story," Greg sighed, looking at him. "Needless to say, one of the local wizards showed up at the house last night saying that this figment was following him. We thought it was real too, but then it faded out last night and showed up again this morning, attached to me. I have no idea what sort of apparition it is, but it's annoying. It's cuddly and annoying."
Warrick nodded. "Only you guys," he said smugly. "Keep him out of the lab, we don't need contamination." He headed back inside.
"Maybe he'll attach himself to one of them," he said hopefully. He looked over as Catherine came in. "It's a figment, don't ask."
"What?" He shook his head and moaned. "Okay, I won't ask. That at least. I want to ask about my daughter."
"What about her? She's got potential but nothing overt. She's basically a latent from what I saw."
She held up a letter. "Then what's this?"
Greg took it to look over, grimacing. "A very bad school." He handed it back. "Think military-style academy. Sending her to Canada would be better. The schools in the US are horrible for the most part. They only want to teach you enough to clean the house and cook." He finished his coffee and tossed the cup away. "I'll see if I can get her somewhere better."
"Doesn't she have to manifest or something?" she asked, starting to sound shrill.
"Yeah, but it can be odd things that you never realize. Potter's first noticed manifestation removed the glass from a snake cage and then made it reappear once the snake was gone." She looked stunned. "Truth. Usually it's instinctive or protective. Things like falling kids bounce or they leap *really* high when they're getting away from people." He popped in a breath mint. "It was flavoring only," he promised. "I can always come over to talk to her if you want, or Emilia can. She can see power so much easier than I can."
"Please," she agreed, a bit happier now. "If not the US, where?"
"I don't know, I'll ask around. Salem's nice but they're pretty exclusionary. They go for power hogs mostly. There's no school really close by. There's one outside of Phoenix, but they're specialists mostly. They teach you the basics, but you learn a lot more about herbology than anything else. The one in Montana is a minor potions place. Most of the US potions people went there. Salem is good, and generalized - which I think is important, but they've got limited spots and alumni get their kids in first if they fit in. For nice, sweet kids there's the one in New York, which'll teach you transfiguration mostly, or Chicago, which is a defense school but they suck at it. They're more theoretical than practice. The California school is actually a group like UCLA, which does have a wizarding part hidden in it. They've got specializing branches and two generalized ones, but they're so far up in the mountains it's impossible to reach by anything but broom, apparation, or carpet."
"Only in certain countries. You can't get them in most of Europe," he admitted with a small shrug. "We'll get you stuff. You definitely don't want to send her there. It's a good school if you want to work for the military or you need that sort of lifestyle. They're affiliated with Montana though."
"I'd rather do a specialist school," she admitted. "Do I have to?"
"If she's manifested? Probably," he admitted sheepishly. "Otherwise her powers will keep popping out at odd times. Like her first time with a guy," he finished quietly. She shuddered. "Exactly. It's indoctrination and teaching all in one."
"I don't want to send her that far away," she complained.
"Hey, if we had one locally I'd probably temp in as the potions professor," he offered. "We don't. Think of it like a specialized education, like for blind or deaf kids. There's some people who can do some of the teaching, but for the intense basic training there's only a few places to send kids."
"Good point," she said miserably. "Each year?"
"At least you'll get the summers off," he offered. "Regular holidays, unless you send her to that one."
"Would the others accept her if this one offered?"
"They'd almost have to steal most of their student body. Let me make a call tonight and then we'll come over tomorrow night to talk to her."
"Thanks, Greg. Maybe you can help her. She freaked this morning when the eagle came."
"Eagle? Gee, the general himself sent for her," he said thoughtfully. "That means she's got a specialty." He grinned. "That's the school that imploded that Blair and I should have gone to. They reformed in our second year into that tragedy in the making. Have her come down and I'll get Emilia in to take her and the figment somewhere."
"Sure. What figment?"
"Don't ask," he groaned, shaking his head. He went to call his wife the normal way, just in case she was busy doing something important. Her cell had voice mail and she checked it religiously in case Penn needed something desperately. "Hey," he said into it. "It's the studly little daddy. Catherine just got a shocking letter via eagle mail this morning for her baby girl. The General sent it. I promised we'd talk to her and the little one after we figure out what's going on and where we could offer to send her. Love you. The figment's still here." He hung up and headed inside, going back to work. He passed Catherine on the way, patting her on the back. "I left a message on her voicemail. You should be hearing a squeal soon." He went into his lab and shut the doors. There was no way his figment was coming back in there now that he was gone.
Catherine looked around, then went to see Grissom. "Greg's figment is a dragon?"
"Apparently," he said with a smile. "You didn't call in?"
She handed over the letter. "Greg says it's not the best place so I stopped to ask him once I got Lindsey calmed down. She was a bit hysterical."
"I would be too," he offered, handing it back. "We'll figure it out if she does go."
"I'm not sure I want her to go."
"Catherine, it'd be like telling her she couldn't be a girl or a brunette," Grissom said gently. "If you deny what she is, then she'll grow up hating herself and probably ending up on our case load somehow."
Catherine nodded. "I know. I still don't like the idea of boarding schools."
"It's not like there's enough of them to set up a high school in each state," he pointed out reasonably. "Don't worry, you can have personal time to drop her off, and a few days extra that first year to get used to not having her there all the time."
"Fine," she sighed. "Greg said Emilia might be coming in soon. He left her a message on her voice mail. I'm going to the garage. What are we doing about his figment if it tries to help?"
"He seemed pretty happy to watch tv," Grissom offered. "Maybe he'll stay in there until Greg leaves tonight."
"Maybe," she agreed, heading to the locker room to get a jump suit and tie back her hair. She checked on the dragon, but it had tipped its head to watch some blonde grind against some guy. "Figures. It's got to be male."
Ron looked out of the mouth of the cave, catching some fresh air. The back part of the archives and store rooms were pretty musty and dirty, so he needed the fresh air before his lungs were completely clogged. He stepped back when he saw a few of the military guards coming up the trail, hoping the illusion held this time too. He quietly snuck away, going to tell Xander about this new incursion. This made the fifth time they had tried to find them. "Alex, they're back again, and they've got that one guy who likes to stare at the mouth of the cave," he said quietly.
Xander tossed down his pen and headed back to the covered entry, finding the one soldier in there and his buddies gone. "How did you get in here?"
"Easy. I finally found the crack." He looked them over, then sneered. "You're wizards."
"Good one," Xander retorted, smirking at him, crossing his arms for added support of his pain-in-the-ass persona. "You think?"
"No, I know, and all of you are to be handed over to the government. The glorious leaders will know what to do about you; even if you don't end up going to jail, you'll be helping us."
Xander shook his head. "Nope, sorry." He pulled his gun out, startling the man. "Expected a wand?" he asked in English. The man looked scared. "I'm not a wizard. I'm a researcher. I don't work for your government because I don't like their policies on how they treat Tibet. Now, you can go the easy way or you can 'accidentally' fall off this cliff. Your choice."
The soldier backed away. "You won't harm me. They know I'm in here."
"They might, but they can't really hear you in here either," Draco said as he joined him, hair exposed and his shirt partially open. They had a comfy fire in the back areas so he was sweating slightly. "Can't we just obliviate him?"
"Possibly," Xander admitted, staring at him. "If he knows us though, there's probably a reason and it could change his personality if he forgot that part."
"Then just have him forget us," Ron offered.
"See, that's the part of the 'protecting the community' thing that you guys haven't really gotten yet. If a muggle finds out about the community, then the community is honor-bound to thoroughly erase any and all memories of us, in total. We've actually ruined a few great fantasy writers because of that. Where he's in the military though, people will notice if he has a sudden personality change. Things like that are noticed and questioned until someone either finds an answer or makes up an answer." They looked at the guard again. "Who was the wizard in your family?"
"My mother," he sneered
"Hmm. British? Just guessing by the shape of your face."
"Russian and proud of it," he sneered.
"I'm Alex Dumass." The man's eyes bulged and he backed away babbling. "This is a holy site for us and we're here meditating and checking on things that have happened here. If you wish, you can leave here with all of your memories intact but you had better *not* say a word about us, ever." He nodded quickly, taking another step back. "Thank you. Dismissed." He turned and ran, going back out to his unit, which had been hiding around the mouth of the cave, babbling at high speed. He was babbling about an animal and body parts strewn about though so they were safe for now. "Good," Alex decided. "Ron, continue to watch. Rotate out." He went back to helping Paulo check the various cases against the manifest. It was tedious work, but important at the moment. "I should have asked him if any wizards had been seen up here."
"If he comes back, you can," he offered, giving him an odd look. "Or did you decide to obliviate him after all?"
"It was his mother, Paulo. They would have noticed the personality and behavior changes." He smirked. "Besides, he knew me. He babbled about a big, scary creature that ate us."
"Sorry, Alex, like I keep telling you, I only like girls," Paulo said with a grin. "There'll be no eating on this body."
"Fine," Xander sighed with a grin back, winking at him. "One of these days you'll relent and come crawling back, and have to beg Draco for it."
Draco looked at Paulo. "He's cute when he's not dirty. Should we drag in snow to warm for a bath tonight?"
"I don't think we have a cauldron that big," Xander pointed out gently. Draco walked over to his pack and pulled something out, setting it next to the fire so it could be expanded. It grew until it was a giant cauldron. "Okay, never mind," he said, nodding once. "Hey, Ron, if they're gone you and Harry can work on dragging in snow for baths. Since he's here for the weekend and all."
"Won't that be cold?" Harry called back.
"Smartass, we'll be melting it," Draco called back. "We'll have to bring in more buckets so we can take turns and not have dirty water."
"In the old days, everyone shared bath water," Paulo pointed out. "You heated one tub and the parents got it first, then the older kids, then a new tub was warmed for the littlest of the little kids, who needed less water, and they all shared that one." Draco shuddered. "Don't believe me, ask Alex."
"Thankfully we had indoor plumbing," Xander offered. "There were still a lot of families doing that in my first time around." Draco shuddered again, curling up on himself a bit. "So if you want clean bath water, you'll be hauling in your own."
"Fine," Draco agreed. "Perfectly reasonable. We can each haul in our own, that way we have enough. We can clean the cauldron at the end." Xander nodded. "Thank you. Who do you want to go first?"
"Let Ron and Harry," Alex offered. Ron drug in two buckets of snow. "We've decided to not share bath water."
"Eww," Harry noted.
"You'll understand why after you pull in the fortieth bucket for your bath," Xander said smugly.
"It's still gross," Ron noted. "Harry, we'll haul enough for the both of us?"
"Ron, we've only got two buckets," Harry pointed out.
"So we float it out and fill it out there, then float it back since the military wandered off again," Ron offered.
"We'll quickly be running out of snow outside the cave that way," Paulo warned. "Maybe a bucket each instead to do washcloth baths and your hair would be better." He looked at the younger generation. "Working in the desert means that you've got a severe lack of water and you're always hot."
"We're going there this holiday season," Alex said smugly.
"You bitch," Paulo said in awe. "You got the city?" He nodded, giving him a smug look. "Fucker."
"Hey, I've got to teach all these guys plus Dawn. We'll be picking her up from the train and taking her, plus Harry probably."
"Can we at least spend Christmas with other people?" Draco asked. "My family used to make a big deal of it."
"So did mine," Ron agreed.
"The house is probably going to be over-decorated, really too warm to stand to be in, and crowded with everyone the family has ever adopted," Xander warned.
"You guys know most people who work don't get the whole week of the holidays off, right?" Paulo asked. Draco looked stunned and Ron nodded.
Draco looked at him. "They don't give your father off the day before and after at least?"
"Nope. Usually shorter hours on the day before and the day after is usually pretty slow, but he's still gotta work," Ron sighed. "We always hated it because his department has so few people that he can't really take off."
"Doesn't that hurt family bonding or something?" Draco demanded.
"Probably, but that's what working people do," Alex told him. "I didn't make it home for the holidays for nearly ten years in a row. Right afterwards because no one wanted those days off and I was done with a job, but never on the holiday." Everyone looked at him in awe. "Curse breaking jobs come up when they come up. You accept the assignment or you don't, but they always want to know why," he explained.
"The guys with the best reputations don't turn down jobs and volunteer for the hard things," Paulo added. "Alex only turned down three jobs."
"Yeah, and then I ended up saving the ones who went in there to do them," he agreed bitterly. "Or at least their bodies. I never take on something that twinges my danger sense. You guys'll be growing that with enough experience. Jobs like this one are blessed for the simplicity and easiness."
"Or resented because they don't earn you a lot of money," Paulo added with a smirk for Alex. "They had to order me here, Alex."
"Okay, guys like Paulo hate these jobs, but guys like me consider them like a mini vacation," Xander explained with a grin for his boys.
"I'm hoping I get to retire instead of being put on guard duty when I get too badly injured or old," Paulo told them.
"Like the guy in Siberia?" Ron asked.
"No, he was probably putting stuff up and filling out forms. Tomasin is a Specialist," Xander told him. "Their jobs are the major things and the storehouses. Your brother was offered and he turned it down because it's a lot more risk of death and worldly destruction. If I had known about the Glory thing, I would have asked a few to come over. They can get called into that stuff."
"I'm never taking that job," Ron said with a shudder.
"I'm fairly satisfied with my position at the moment," Draco admitted quietly, looking at Alex.
"I can't keep you guys as apprentices forever," Xander reminded him with a grin.
"No, but you could keep them as your crew, as underlings," Paulo said smugly. "You wouldn't be the first. We thought you were going to keep Bill that way."
"I'm just glad I got Bill well enough trained to not get killed in that attack that got me," he said bitterly. "Bill was still basically a little kid when that happened and they gave him my spot. He's proved he could handle it, but I'm sure his first solo job he panicked badly."
"He used to have this lock of hair that he carried around," Ron offered. "He rubbed it while he thought."
"Aww," Paulo cooed. "That's so sweet. Wait until I find him and taunt him about it."
Ron pounced him, bringing him to the floor, hand on his throat, straddling his chest, so he could stare into the guy's eyes. "Don't pick on my big brother. He's less deadly than I am, but he's just as mean. He taught me how to do this," he said smugly. "I'm an excellent student." Paulo nodded and Ron got off, going back to his artifact. "Xander, why does this one feel like something dead but it's not even wood?"
"Because it was formerly animate," Xander told him. "Didn't read the notes?"
"The translation spell didn't work. It was in Cyrillic," Draco offered. "We both tried."
"Oh." He grinned and pulled out a pair of glasses, looking at the papers put in the box with the artifact. "Okay, it was a...." Ron took the glasses to read for himself. "Hey!"
"Where can we get some of those?" Draco asked smugly, smirking at him.
"I've got someone making you each a set," he sighed, looking up. "Why me?" He looked at Ron again, who was quickly moving through the papers, then handed the glasses back. "Thanks, Ron."
"No, thank you," he said with a grin. He checked the artifact, then added his notes to the bottom of the papers, then put it back into the box and relocked it, putting it back so he could move on. "Those are really handy."
"Bill has a monocle," Paulo said, rubbing his throat. "You're really strong, Ron." Ron smirked at him. "I don't think I want to wrestle with you again."
"Your loss," Ron reminded him. He pulled back a larger box. "This isn't heavy."
"Put that back," Alex and Paulo said in unison.
"Why?" Ron asked, stopping.
"Ron, what do the marks on the side of the box mean?"
"What marks?" He turned it around to look, but didn't see them.
"Shit, you didn't take that potion," Alex sighed, hitting himself on the head. "Okay. All curse breakers who go into the field for the first time take a potion that allow us to see certain magical marks that the other group of curse breakers used when they were still in existence." Draco gave him an interested look. "They died. All of them were fighting one big, huge, demon and they died. There weren't many of them but their stores always used these glowing marks. Most people don't have problems with them but Bill was allergic to it if I remember right. He spent a good week in the hospital in misery."
"For now, we'll just yell at you," Paulo offered.
"Thanks," Ron agreed happily. "I'll take it when we go home."
"That's fine," Xander agreed. "You'll have to take it too, Draco, and it may make you sick too. I don't know of any other partial veelas in the field." Draco grimaced. "I don't want you to be hindered in the field in case something happens. They also marked hiding spots and things," Xander offered. "Plus added notes to places where they've already been. I've run into a lot of places where they had started and then decided not to go on. They were only in it for the artifacts but I have no problem going for archives, libraries, and storehouses like these. One of my first assignments had been one of their storehouses. They had locked it and almost no one could see the lock, let alone figure it out. I could see it, but they wound their locks like Celtic knots so I ended up unraveling it the hard way since I couldn't untie it."
"They opened it and the older breakers watching over him just stared in awe. Alex here walked in and looked around, then pouted because there weren't any books."
"Hey, I like finding books," Xander defended. "Books are good things. Regaining some of the lost knowledge has given us a lot of knowledge, including some cures and remedies, plus some potions."
"If you say so. I'd rather do a job that was paid in gold."
"I get paid on the worth of the books," Xander said smugly.
"No, I had parents," he said with a grin. "Wanna meet my mom?"
"No, that's okay. I've met her professionally," he said with a shudder. "Never, ever be like most of us and start to be assholes to the women, boys."
"Yeah, Paulo used to visit as many whorehouses as I did," Xander said smoothly, smirking at Draco. "We stopped for different reasons."
"You think your mom'd give me it back now?"
"You'd have to ask her," Xander said. "Mom? Got a mo?" She appeared in a small flash of light, smiling at him and handing Ron a box of cookies. "His mom or the aunties?"
"Both," she admitted. "Share those, Ron."
"Sure," he agreed, happily tearing into the box and handed it to Draco once he had a few in hand. "Thanks, Alex's mom."
"You're welcome, dear ones. What's wrong, Alex?"
Paulo got on his knees, crawling over to her. "Please, please, please," he begged pitifully. "Please give me back my dick, ma'am. I've learned my lessons and it's been nearly ten years. I hate the tube that they had to put in so I could pee. Please?" he pleaded. "I have learned my lesson and I'll never touch another person sexually anyway. Please?"
She gave him a long look. "Usually I'd have to have the woman who did it rescind her wish."
"She's dead," Paulo sobbed. "Please?"
"Fine, but you won't be able to use it," she said, waving a hand at him. The tube was removed and his equipment was returned to him. He hugged her then ran outside to pee off the edge of the cliff. "Well, that was fun but the demon using them might be a bit pissed that they left. Son, do you need anything?"
"Not unless you want to hand out more treats," he said, stealing a cookie. "Hmm, Molly's recipe."
She walked over to kiss him on the cheek, smiling at Draco. "I'm very proud of you, Draco. You're the sort of son I wanted." She hugged her son. "This one worries me all the time and he never calls for non-work things."
"Mom, you walk into my dreams all the time," Xander reminded, giving her a hug back. "There's not much more I can tell you."
"Good point," she agreed happily. "Now if only you'd decide to have some kids?" she asked hopefully.
"Mom, I hate kids. Work your magic on Harry or find some way of doing it without me."
"Fine. Call your father, dear, he's found a few more members of the family." She kissed him on the cheek then gave the boys a hug. "I'm off to check on Dawn and I'll check on Harry later this week for you."
"Make sure he's not having a game," Ron said quickly.
"I know, dear," she promised patiently. She disappeared.
Paulo finally came back in, tool still out and being looked at. "It's got some sort of mark there," he said in disgust. "What did she do with me?"
"She said some demon was using it as a dildo," Ron told him. Paulo looked horrified. "I'm guessing it won't ever be the same."
"No, probably not," he sighed, tucking himself back into his pants. "I'll make a shrine to her later, when I'm home." He got back to work, finishing the notes on his device. "I don't know why anyone would charm a telegraph to talk instead of whatever it did. Didn't it broadcast news and stories and stuff?"
"No, telegraphs were a way of passing on messages over long distances. You sent a series of long and short beeps across a long series of lines until it finally reached your destination," Draco told him. Ron stared at him in shock. "Your father said so," he defended.
"And right he was," Xander agreed, grinning at his mate. "Good remembering job, Draco." Draco smiled at him. "Now call Sev and get him to call our contact to see about that potion?"
"Sure," he agreed, going to do that. He locked his artifact back up so the guardian he had on the sucking spot of void wouldn't suddenly start to suck again, then he leaned against the wall with one hand on his tatoo. "Sev," he hissed. He got a harsh comment back from Tipsy, so he sent soothing thoughts at her, telling her what was going on. She ducked out and let him have his godfather, making him stop ranting at a Gryffindor for a moment. Severus took off a lot of house points then went back to his desk to listen, so Draco gave him a complete rundown of their present things, the stuff that had already went on, and the request for the potion to be researched so he didn't get dreadfully ill. He hated being sick. Severus agreed and wrote down the notes on the potion and who to talk to. He sent him a mental pat and one for Tipsy since he could still feel her, then left them alone, coming back to the present time. "I interrupted Tipsy's nap and he was taking off house points from a hopeless Gryffindor."
"Did he yell because you interrupted his fun?" Ron asked.
"No. He did take down everything and he said that he'd research demonic venereal diseases as well," he said with a look at Paulo. "Just in case of course."
"If Luna gets one, Ethan's gonna be toast," Xander said with a snort.
"I think he was more worried because she had been called to the school on the behalf of a young woman who had just broken up with her boyfriend," Draco said mildly.
"Gee, and I thought she only did rapists and things like that," Xander said thoughtfully. "I guess a woman can be hurt a lot by a bad breakup." He looked at Paulo. "I always thought you played too hard with someone." He nodded, that had been true. "Huh. Learn something new every day. Get another cookie, Draco, and pass them over so I can get one and put them up." Draco took his cookie and handed over the tin, watching as Paulo took one and Xander took another, then they were put into his sealed pack. It held special supplies and things that he didn't want the boys into, like his supply of chocolate. "Okay, let's work on the other boxes. The faster we get done, the faster we get real baths." The boys ran for their next artifact, making Paulo chuckle, but they got down to work as fast as they could, yet still conscious of being watched.
Dawn looked up as Professor Snape loomed over her, giving him a faint smile. "Yes, sir?"
"I've heard from that annoying twit you call your fiance."
"Really?" she asked happily. "Anything good?"
"He's fine." He walked on.
"Hmm. I was hoping for a bit more. Sir," she added as an afterthought since they were in class at the moment.
"No, there was nothing more. Draco did not report any embarrassing incidents yet."
She pouted. "So they're having fun?" she asked with a hint of a lip tremble. He frowned at her so she looked more pitiful. He glared and she broke out in tears.
He pointed at the door so she left. "Hufflepuffs," he said in disgust. He sat behind his desk to watch them attempt another potion. Dawn came back and he glared at her again. "That was not indicated for the situation."
"I was just realizing how far away they are and they're probably having a lot of fun and laughs and things," she pouted.
"You'll know over the holidays," he assured her. She blinked a few times then opened her mouth. "Back to work, Miss Summers."
"Yes, sir," she agreed, her mood brightened a bit now. That was something she hadn't heard yet, that she'd get to go with them. That would be so cool! She wiggled happily and the teacher gave her a dirty look so she settled down some and settled for beaming at him until she could squeal with Ginny and Luna.
Greg knocked on Catherine's door, smiling at her. "We brought 'San since we couldn't find a sitter." He and Emilia let their daughter run forward first. She had been on the run since they had gotten her out of her car seat, they had been herding her toward the door. He ignored the dragon that was now following his daughter around, yet again, and smiled at Catherine's daughter. "Hey, Lindsey. I heard you got a letter," he said, giving her a hug. "Congrats, girl."
"Gee, thanks. Not my version of life though," she complained. "I met those guys when they came to visit you, they were all odd."
"Which guys?" Emilia asked as she let go of Catherine and handed over the package from the twins. "From the trio." Catherine smirked as she shut the door, keeping 'San from running out. Much to her pouting and whimpering. "No," the mother reminded her. "Go play on the carpet." She toddled back that way, going to find a book. She liked books. "We should head after her if that direction has book cases," Emilia warned.
"Yes, our little girl decided our library needed rearranged," Greg said dryly, following his baby girl. Emilia sat down with a sigh and he pulled out some forms for Catherine to look at. "I got to talk to someone at Salem. They've got two open spots left and those were her suggestions if I can find out what sort of specialty she has." He sat Lindsey in front of him and pulled his wand. "Close your eyes. It won't hurt but you'll be putting out light and it's freakish for some people." He cast the charm and looked her over, judging the swirls. "Hmm. Some science, some math. I'm thinking Transfiguration. 'Mil?"
"Transfiguration probably will synch for her," she agreed. "Maybe some light potions and some arithmancy. Charms possibly."
"There's mathematical magic?" Lindsey asked, opening her eyes. "Wow, what is that?"
"Your aura," he explained, pointing out the colors. "The strength and color of the swirls indicate what sort of person you are. This one's more science and that one's kinda a math, but a not linear sort. Arithmancy is kinda like algebra with some trig thrown in, but it's neat if you can handle it. Maybe some runes too. Hmm." He canceled it. "So she's gonna be good in Transfiguration at the least. Some of that's math and science, some of it's imagination."
"Which means she might even make animagus," Emilia offered. "Like McGonagall."
"What's that?" Lindsey asked.
"That's where a wizard or a witch can turn into an animal," Greg said with a grin. "It's hard but it comes easier to those who have a transfiguration bent."
"Wow. What could I become?"
"You get one form and it's determined by who you are," Emilia told her gently, giving her a smile as 'San crawled up her to sit in her lap with one of her mother's romance novels. "I think she wants read to."
Greg retrieved a book and swapped them out before his daughter could do more than pout. "You don't need to know about pirates kidnaping innocent young women yet," he assured her, patting her on the head. "So we talked to the biggest and best school in the country. They're the oldest and most respected and they gave me some good suggestions and none of them are close by," he told her. "That means you'd be doing what you'd be doing for college, only earlier."
"All the way in Salem?" Catherine asked.
"Well, you'd have to convince Salem to take her. They're strict," Emilia told her. "There's two closer ones, and one's *excellent* in Transfiguration. That one's in New York."
"Which is dirty, nasty, and grimy," Catherine reminded her, "plus dangerous."
"Not at the school. It's in the heart of the city but the kids aren't allowed out to run wild. They're only allowed out into the main city when they're chaperoned. The wizarding area is something else entirely. It's small, quaint, and you still can't get a wand there. There's only one wand maker in this hemisphere and that's in Chicago."
"But, the school up there are dumbasses," Greg told her. "I ran into them. Their defense class was trying to stun an ice dragon while it was laying eggs and they all got frozen."
"That could have been the teacher, I've heard a lot of good things about Chicago and New York both," Emilia argued, "even though Alex and those guys ran into their teacher with the demon thing two years ago."
"Maybe it was the same teacher," Catherine said dryly.
"That's always possible," Greg agreed. "The pool of qualified applicants is fairly small. That's why you can get some atrocious idiots teaching sometimes. Hogwarts had that problem with Defense teachers for the longest time. Then the Prof came back."
"I heard Remus did pretty good," Emilia offered. "But he's a werewolf and parents got upset about that."
"Wow. They'd hate him for that?" Lindsey asked.
Greg nodded. "The British system is fairly old fashioned I guess is the best way of putting it. Now, there are some Canadian schools. There's a great Canadian school, generally the equal of the major three in Europe. Salem is in competition with them."
"What about cost?" Catherine asked. The other adults winced. "That's what I thought."
"It's more about the conversion rate from cash to gold," Emilia offered.
Greg shook his head. "Catherine, do not worry about the cost. I won't do it for Nick to buy a new stereo, but I will do it for school stuff. This is too important and Nick didn't need a new stereo anyway. Just don't tell them."
"Fine, but I don't want to take charity," she complained.
"Then consider it a loan," Greg said with a shrug. "The tuition at Salem is about thirty galleons a month. Her wand will be between six and ten galleons probably. Kitting her out each year will be about another ten or fifteen."
"This is how the system operates," Emilia offered. "Those who have it, use it to help those who don't. Even Draco's father knew he was paying higher tuition for his son so the poorer kids could go more cheaply." She looked at Greg. Then at Lindsey. Then back at Catherine. "We agreed last night that this was a reasonable thing. You could pay us back forever if you had to, and we'll be nice about it," she offered with a smile. "We have the cash, but you'll end up living on the streets at your present salary."
"The present conversion is about two hundred to a galleon," Greg said quietly. Catherine went pale. "For a muggle-born student, the tuition is usually about half that of a pure blood because we only think in galleons."
"The Canadian school is cheaper but they'd have to make exceptions to take her in," Emilia offered. "There's about a month before the school year starts. The one in New York is still pretty high cost because it's a bit famous for its transfiguration classes but it's only twenty a month."
"You've about got to be a genius in the subject to earn a scholarship," Greg offered. "Our parents sent us to Hogwarts, where it was about ten galleons a month for tuition." He smirked at his wife. "I've begged the old guy to take in 'San when it's time. I don't want her in Salem."
"Neither do I," she agreed. "A potions person in Salem might have some problems." She snapped her fingers. "I did get one person that Greg didn't. The California schools. The general and the transfiguration aren't bad, but they're run by Hufflepuffs."
"Hippies in other words," Greg offered. "People just like Dawn."
"They live on a commune and they switch back and forth between the school parts. It's a nice system but fairly happy and sunny. I know a few kids who went there who were pure Goth and they hated it with every bone in their bodies." Greg and Lindsey both chuckled at that, which meant that 'San joined in a moment later. She smiled at the girl in question. "It's closer, cheaper, and you'll get a good enough education to pass any formal qualifications but I'm not sure about jobs afterwards. They couldn't find their person over that."
"So, Salem or New York are her best bets?" Catherine asked miserably.
"Actually, were it me, I'd send her to Chicago," Emilia offered. "It's fairly well known and up and coming, but it doesn't have the attitude that Salem has. It's like a small, private college against something like Harvard." Catherine nodded. "It's not bad, but it's not great. They also have a lot of open spots so they're looking for students."
"Plus, she'll have to do most of her shopping up there anyway," Greg offered. "Unless you want us to take her to Diagon with us."
"I think Hogwarts is farther away than I want to go," Catherine said, looking at her daughter. "It's your life," she pointed out. "Got an opinion?"
"If I'm going to think about this like I would a college, should I visit?"
"You should," Greg agreed happily. "We can take you both to Chicago and New York. Salem doesn't allow visitations. They live on their reputation and they give you references to talk to, two of which work in New York's school anyway," he added with a grin.
"Then I'd like to visit," Lindsey decided, hugging 'San since she was poking her. "Sure, I'll read to you," she promised, opening the children's book. "Elmo?"
"Mo!" she said happily, clapping.
"Wow, her first word was Elmo," Greg said in shock. "Good job, Sesame Street."
Emilia swatted at him. "Behave." She smiled at her daughter. "Good job, 'San. You deserve a treat when we get home." Her daughter grinned at her and snuggled in harder while her babysitter read to her. "Lindsey, if you want, you can have a job babysitting her. We keep running out of them."
"'San's a bit hard to do that with anyway," Catherine said dryly. "After all, she's floating things now."
"We've thought about limiting it but we're not sure that's safe," Greg admitted sheepishly. "Dumbledore was quite impressed with her. He said he'd try to fit her in."
"Good," she agreed happily. She smiled at Catherine. "Don't worry about it. You can pay us back gently, without any interest. This is too important." Catherine sighed. "Seriously. You're looking at schooling expenses for college and that's nothing compared to this."
She nodded. "So I can tell. Just the thought of tuition is making my head hurt."
Greg pulled out his cell and dialed the number he had stored earlier. "Hi, it's Greg Sanders, and the young lady in question would like to come up and tour. When's a good time for you guys?" He grinned. "This weekend?" he asked, looking at Catherine. "I've got it off."
"I can take it off," she promised.
"Yeah, that'd be fine," he agreed. "Saturday would be wonderful. Thanks." He hung up and called the other one. "Hey, when is a good time to tour the school Sunday?" he asked this new person. "Great, thanks." He hung up. "Saturday is an open house in New York. They do it each weekend for the upcoming students. Chicago said Sunday would be fine. Want me to call Grissom?"
"No, I will," she promised, taking his phone to do it. "Hey, Gil, it's Cat. No, we're fine. We're discussing the school thing and Greg's offered to help us tour the two schools we've narrowed it down to. No, this upcoming weekend. He's got it off and I need it off. No, New York and Chicago." She smiled at Greg. "That's fine. Thanks, Gil." She hung up. "We're cleared, but you're to keep your phone on just in case. It seems the Sheriff's picked up that you handle all strange and weird things so you're going to be the local X-Files person."
"Wonderful," he agreed dryly.
"Greg, why is the dragon sniffling my shoes?" Lindsey asked.
"What dragon?" Greg and Emilia asked in unison.
"He's a figment of Greg's imagination," Catherine told her daughter with a grin. "Now what?"
"Now, well, we figure out how we're getting everyone there," Emilia offered. "Portkey?"
"Doable," Greg agreed thoughtfully. "There's a Gringotts in Vegas. There's also one in Chicago and New York so you won't have to worry about that. We can put in a direct- draw order on a new vault," he decided, sitting down next to Catherine. "We'll probably want to fit her with her wand this weekend, just in case. Then 'Mil and I will be teaching her a bit of charm work before she goes so she's not behind the other kids."
"You mean there's kids like Draco everywhere?" Catherine asked dryly. Greg nodded. "You'll be teaching her defense, right?"
"A few defense, and a few offense, things like freezing someone," Greg promised. "Usual first year spells." He grinned at her. "Depending on the books, you could need a whole new set of shelves."
"Trunk," Emilia reminded him.
"True. A trunk. Did you see Dawn's?"
"I did, and Lindsey doesn't have that much of a wardrobe," Catherine reminded him.
"You're stealing my fun," Greg warned.
"Fine, I won't steal your fun," Catherine said with a smirk for his wife. "She'd get jealous though."
"No, we're considering this practice for when ours go to school," Emilia promised. She looked at her spouse. "Greg, didn't you have to pay higher because you're not British?"
"Crap, yeah," he sighed. "We'll deal or we'll let Snape adopt her for a few months to get her residency," he promised, grinning at her. "That way Holly doesn't have to have kids of her own."
"Fine, as long as you tell her that," she said wisely, smirking back at him. "Now, we should be taking Lindsey out so we can celebrate her getting a letter. Where are we eating, Greg?"
"I made reservations at the Luxor," he admitted. "So go change."
"You're wearing jeans to a fancy restaurant?" Lindsey asked.
Greg winked. "No, we're taking you to one of our spots, dear. Now, go change." She nodded, going to do that.
"Lindsey," Emilia said, tossing her something from her diaper bag. "It's one of my old ones, but it'll help if you're in one when you go to visit. I took the Hogwarts badge off." She squealed and hugged her then went to find the perfect outfit to go on under it. Emilia grinned at Catherine. "This is fun."
"I can tell," she said dryly, smirking back. "Don't spoil her."
"You, hush," Greg said with a grin. "We'll expect her to help us with 'San when it's time for her to go. Otherwise we'll be emotional wrecks."
"Mo!" 'San yelled, getting their attention. She sniffled and patted her book. "Mo?"
"Come here, dear. I'll read Elmo to you," Catherine offered. The little girl got down and ran over, waving her book. "You're such a good girl. How did your daddy get a good girl like you when he's a naughty guy?" she teased, grinning at Greg to show she was joking.
"Because he got lucky and got a wife who kept him in check," Emilia said with a smirk for her man.
"Keep it up and I'll make you keep up our daughter again tonight," he warned sweetly. "And then leave you like that."
"Meany," she pouted. 'San smacked him on the arm. "See, she agrees. She needs her sleep and I'm still on restriction, dear. That's why you have to make me that stupid, nasty potion."
"Have they ever gotten through that twin/triplet thing yet?" Catherine asked.
"Nope. I did the same thing," Greg admitted. "It's usually considered a sign that the kid doing it will be a master of something. I'm hoping for a potions master."
"If he's like both of you, he'll be the one making the wizard's version of viagra," Lindsey said as she rejoined them. "This okay?"
"That's perfect," Emilia agreed, standing up with a grunt and a hand on her stomach. "Never, ever, have twins, Lindsey. They hurt." She put an arm around the girl's shoulders. "Okay. 'San, dinner?" Her daughter lunged at her. "Not that way!" she said, handing her off quickly.
"Sorry, she's barely weaned," Greg said, hugging his little girl. "We're going out to eat, 'San. We're going to go eat stuff at a restaurant. Want 'sketti?"
She patted him on the nose before giving him an open-mouthed kissed.
"Sure, I can agree with that," Catherine agreed, standing up. "Should I change?"
"If you want," Emilia offered. "We've got robes in the car." She pinched Lindsey on the cheek. "You, my dear, will probably run into some of our more disreputable wizards there. They seem to congregate in a back corner to talk about their nefarious plans to get my husband off the potions master list. Ignore them." She nodded quickly. "Good girl."
"Don't let Penn or Teller tease you either if they show up," Greg warned. "He likes to do that to the new ones. Says he has the charm that he used on Teller memorized if the parents want to use it."
Lindsey giggled. "My mom would kick him in the butt."
"True, she would," Greg agreed, gathering everything back together and repacking the diaper bag. "Okay. Cat, you nearly ready?"
"Almost." She came out putting on some earrings. "Too much?" she asked at the shocked looks. "I tried."
"You tried very well. You look wiccan," Emilia offered. "You could just be yourself, they won't care. This isn't one of the exclusive places in Britain."
"Then again, the wiccans would get beaten to death over there," Greg reminded her. "I got accused of that once."
"Wow," she said, staring at him. "Why?"
"Because I wasn't openly brandishing my wand like an imbecile. Pointless wand waving is just really tiring. It's like bragging about your size."
Catherine choked, but came back out in a shorter skirt. "Don't talk about that, Greg."
"Mom, you've got to figure that the guys compare the size of their wands," Lindsey said as she took her arm. "You look good."
"Thanks, kiddo. We got the baby?"
Greg held her up, but he let Emilia get her into the car seat because she did it easier for her. 'San always fought him. The older ladies got in on either side of the baby and they took off, heading for the restaurant. Greg led the way back to the restaurant, smiling at the maitre'd. "Good morning. Our reservations are in about ten minutes?"
"Mr. Sanders," he said happily. "More fine women in your life?"
"This is Lindsey and Catherine. Lindsey just got her letter," he said proudly. "Cat's a great friend so we're sponsoring her daughter. We're celebrating." 'San squealed at him. "And she'll need a high chair."
"Of course. Right this way. We'll put you in the opposite corner from the other potions people. They're back to their plotting of course." He smiled at Lindsey. "We're not all like that, young lady. Ignore them if possible. They're jealous and don't count on their own abilities." He pulled out a chair for Lindsey, letting her sit down delicately. "There you go. I'll get the high chair right away. Water?"
"Please," Greg agreed. "We're open to the random drug screening and they've been saying they're doing it this month." The other man went away with a smile.
"We are?" Catherine asked.
"Warrick got given one the other day," Greg told her.
"Eww. Poor guy." She shook her head. "We're a totally clean shift."
"Not totally," Emilia reminded her.
"Yeah, but she's been working on it," she pointed out more gently. She glanced around. "It's not very busy."
"It never is," Greg offered. "It's also not time for the major influx. We get a lot of them over the winter on vacation." The high chair was brought with menus and he put his daughter in there, watching as the wise waiter handed her some crackers and a sippie cup of water. "Thanks."
"Anything for you two. You know that," he said with a wink. He handed out the menus, smiling at Lindsey. "If you don't understand anything on there, give us a shout, young lady." He went back to his desk.
"You guys eat a lot of different stuff?"
"Sometimes. There's a whole line of charmed things on the menu," Emilia offered. "Including a chili with singing beans. They sing opera."
"Hmm, the eggs that cook in front of you until you tell them to stop," Greg agreed. "Catherine, page two."
She turned to that page, finding the perfectly normal food. "Thanks, Greg."
"Not an issue. Pages three and four are for kids mostly. They're to make it fun or in case it's a special meal and you want to have them charm things like 'Happy Birthday' into the food."
"Hmm. Burn marks are still on the ceiling from Teller's last birthday party," Emilia said, looking up. "Six foot high flames," she said in explanation. "They went a bit overboard."
"Get whatever you guys want," Greg offered. His pager went off and he sighed, pulling it out. "That was Teller. Speak of the devil." He excused himself to talk in private. "Yeah? No, dinner with Cat and Lindsey. She just got a letter." He grinned. "I'll tell her you said so. What's wrong?" He listened, then winced. "Ow. No, I don't have any made up. It'll take a few good hours too. That I do have. It's in my medicine cabinet because it also helps unswell ankles. Sure. Meet me at the house." He hung up and went back to them, handing Emilia his wallet. "Penn got caught in a duel and got boils from it. I'll be right back. Order me something salty and meat." He walked back to the bathrooms, the designated apparation point within the restaurant, nodding at the man waiting back there for any incoming patrons. "I'll be right back, hopefully." He disappeared, landing in his living room. "Hey," he said, leading the way upstairs. "Who got him?"
"I'm not sure. He was masked," Teller admitted. "He said we were all stupid for being what we are."
"You guys have the best cover of any of us," Greg said firmly. "You send him my way next time." He grabbed the pot off his bedside table, handing it over. "Those should shrink it. Just boils?" Teller nodded. "Then maybe this would help some too," he said thoughtfully as he went in to get something else. He handed it over. "It's technically for hemorrhoids. Try it on one and see if it makes that one any better, then if it does you can put it on more of them. We really need a full-time healer in town," he complained.
"We had one but he got ran out of town by the same guy," Teller complained. "Thanks, Greg."
"Not an issue. We're at the Luxor. Tell him I hope he feels better and I'll see what we can do. Even a mediwitch would help sometimes, but I'll ask some friends back over there if they know anyone willing to relocate." He ran his hands through his hair. "You okay?"
"I wasn't there. I found him on the floor and the guy was gone."
"Then we'll send out a warning," Greg decided. "This is stupid. No one should be doing that to their own people."
"Hey, it's not Death Eaters."
"Thankfully. Even then, you and Penn are pure bloods. I'd have to worry but Emilia wouldn't."
"Don't worry, Greg, it'll be solved. We're so out there so the rest of you don't have to take challenges."
"No, I don't mind. You guys don't have to take mine. Take Emilia's or I will, but you don't have to take mine." He smiled. "I'm not the best but I'm mean enough to try." He waved at the doorway. "Go ahead so I can reset the alarm." He followed Teller out, waiting at the alarm until Teller left. Then he reset it, looking around when he heard a noise. "I can hear you, you might as well come out," he called.
"Just me," Blair called.
"Fine. We're at dinner. Cat's daughter got a letter." He disappeared, heading back to the restaurant. "Blair's in for a few hours," he said as soon as he came back to the table, kissing his wife on the cheek. "I left him there with the alarm on."
"That's fine," she agreed happily. "Is Penn all right?"
"Just fine, dear. We need to ask Poppy if she knows anyone who would come over here. Our healer is gone again."
"It happens," she offered. He sat next to her and she kissed him for real this time. "I ordered you some shrimp and pasta. Just like I've been craving." He grinned at her and shrugged. "Thanks, dear."
"You know I'll always help you through those, babe." He patted her on the stomach. "These guys need to be strong and powerful." He looked over as movement caught his eye, noticing the man walking toward them. All in black, black hood. He snorted. "That's who attacked Penn in his office," he said just loud enough to be heard.
"Now I'm here for you," he sneered.
"You may be, but the Brit's trained me better than that. You'll pick a spot away from others and I'll meet you for a duel or I'll be forced to take you out because you have bad manners." He sipped his water. "Six hours?"
"Six hours?" he sneered. "Need time to pack and leave?"
"Fine, make it four," Greg agreed. "That way I have time to put my daughter down for the night." He sneered back at the man. "You won't find me so easy to ambush, kid. Where?"
"The park, the lover's grotto." Greg shrugged. "Fine. Four hours, or else I'm coming for you."
Greg stood up, facing the guy down. He was a bit shorter than he was. "There's no way you're coming near my daughter or my wife again," he said coldly. "Now, leave. Before I find myself getting upset and having to do something about that." He smirked at him. "I may not be the best, but I am the nastiest when necessary. Especially when you come near my daughter or my wife." The man backed away. "You may have ambushed Penn, but you won't get that on me. Run away, little boy, before I stomp you flat." The other wizard backed up another step. "Keep going." He made shooing motions and the man walked off with his chin held high. Greg sat down and sipped his water again. "It happens," he told Lindsey. "Not often. That's why we'll be getting you your wand this weekend and then we'll be teaching you enough to get away from idiots like that who try to jump themselves in the standing." He looked at Emilia. "He sounds a lot like one of Draco's yearmates, don't you think?"
"I do actually," she admitted. "We'll fix him, don't worry." She patted him on the thigh. "I'll be your second."
"Blair's here. He can do it. I'm not letting you near the fight. He might hit you by accident and then I'd get angry and destroy him totally, down to the atomic level." He smiled and traced her chin with his thumb. "Remember how protective I can be?" he asked gently. She nodded, giving him a long kiss. "Thanks, babe. Now, when's the food coming?"
"Soon," she said patiently. "They know I'm pregnant," she reminded him smugly. They looked at the others. "Don't worry about it; it's not usual and it's nothing more than a challenge from a little boy wanting attention. Lindsey would be safe until she graduated and by then she'll know enough to get away or stomp them flat."
"Defense is taught in all schools," Greg agreed happily. "Mostly in self defense for the students who don't come in knowing some of it."
"So it's like a normal high school, only with people with powers and attitudes because they're elite?" Lindsey asked. "Like a whole school full of cheerleaders and jocks?"
"Sorta, but they're not all like that," Emilia told her. "Even the elite ones know that some of us are different. You'll find some smart kids, some softer kids, and some kids who are jokers, just like you would in any school. The thing with the other countries is that the kids start at eleven, instead of thirteen over here."
"I still think that's a mistake," Greg offered. "Blair and I were going to start early. That's why we got offered Hogwarts instead of Salem or Canada."
"Isn't Nick the same age?"
"Nick's about a year older," Greg admitted. "He won the birthday cutoff lottery. Not that you can tell the difference between the twelve and eleven-year-old boys," he said dryly, smirking at Lindsey. "We'll expect you to be nice to the guys who you like and the nice boys. Just kick the butts of the others. They've probably never had someone do that to them before."
"That's how Dawn won the instant affection of her house," Emilia offered. "We can bring her over for a weekend if you want to know what to expect. She's went from a muggle high school to Hogwarts."
"Won't that get her in trouble?"
"Not if Aunt Cordy and Snape agree," Greg said with a wink for the worried mother. "Alex left them in charge of her while he was gone."
"If I remember right, we should be coming up on a Hogsmeade weekend so we'll just snatch her for a few hours from there, on a Sunday."
"Sure, thanks," Lindsey agreed happily. "Will I have to wear a uniform?"
"Possibly. I know Salem has them. I'm not sure about Chicago. When I was there last, the kids had on jeans but I'm not sure if that was after-hours clothes or not."
"Make a list of those sort of questions," Emilia told her. "The person who gives tours should be able to answer them." She stroked Greg's arm. "We didn't have much choice. It was Hogwarts for me or Beaubaxton's and that's a school I didn't want to attend. There are so many full veelas there that I'd be one of a crowd. Being in Hogwarts, I was the only one there. I had a cousin who's a half-veela."
"She was also so controlled that she never even blipped on the radar of most of the boys," Greg offered. "Draco's mother was an ice princess of the old line." She pinched him. "She was! We accepted her as one of us because of you, Emilia. We liked her eventually but we used to stare at her and wonder why she was there instead of somewhere like Drumstrang, where her icy nature would have done her better."
"It was all an act."
"It wasn't. She's still like that, even to Draco," he corrected gently. "Narcissa is either the center of attention or you're beneath her. She's said so herself."
"She was fifteen."
"It was last year, I heard her too," Catherine offered. "She was telling Julianna that she was still every bit a princess of Gryffindor. She braved a lot with Draco and his father."
Greg nodded. "She did. Draco could have been much worse, even worse than when he came in. Lucius would have turned him into a serial killer easily by himself. The fact that the boy has feelings is all her doing."
"Wasn't he the snarly blond that mom was helping you with?" Lindsey asked. Greg nodded. "He's a good guy?"
"Sometimes. Between her, us, and Alex, he's become a tolerable person with some tact," Emilia offered.
"Aunt Cordy caught him calling someone a mudblood," Greg said with a smirk. "Soaped his mouth, lectured him, and grounded him. The boy was nearly in tears by the time she was done with him and she didn't even touch him."
"What's that?" Lindsey asked.
"Someone like you, who's not pure. It's a derogatory name," Catherine told her. She gave Greg a look. "You can say that word?"
"I can," he agreed. "I've had it hurled at me a few times too. Lucius was good at that, almost as good as Draco was."
"Fortunately the boy got his mother's brains," Emilia pointed out. "His father was dumb as a stone before he died."
"He was the perfect Malfoy and he despised Draco because the boy asked things like 'why'. Draco really improved because Xander treated him like a person who knew his own mind, had some sense, and knew things. Lucius treated him like a house elf, a retarded one at that. He expected blind obedience and Draco thought about things before following orders."
"Personally I'm glad Lucius only had him and that little girl," Emilia offered.
"Little girl?" Catherine asked.
"Illegitimate. Draco had a twin but he died at birth. Veela males are almost always born as twins," Greg told her. "The daughter was sent away in shame when the mother was ripped into by Lucius' father."
"Like any other rich kid's father would do," Catherine agreed. Lindsey gave her a horrified look. "That's why I ordered you away from that one boy, Cass. Their parents like to keep their reputations intact, no matter who they have to step on."
"We're just like everyone else only our powers are a bit bigger," he said with a wink for Lindsey. "Plus some egos." He looked around, catching the eye of a waiter. He waved a hand and went to check on their food, bringing it out with him. "Thanks, my man."
"You're welcome, Wizard of Blood," he said respectfully. "Anything else I can do for you today?"
"Just refill the water?" Emilia asked with a smile. He nodded and hurried to do that, bringing back a pitcher that still had ice crystals on the outside. "Thank you." She held up her glass so he could refill it easier. "Lindsey decided to try some of the charmed items."
Lindsey lifted the lid off her plate carefully, grinning as the beans started to sing to her. She laughed, grinning at Greg. "Can you eat them?"
"Sure. It's just that they've got a spell laid on them," he promised with a grin. "Good choice. I used to have that once a week when things were getting tiring."
She dug in and swallowed her first bite, and the singing quit once it hit her stomach. "Wow."
"That's a neat thing," Catherine agreed. "Do the twins do that too?"
Emilia shook her head. "If they did that they'd fart or something. You know the twins, Cat."
"I do," she agreed.
"You know the Weasley twins?" the waiter asked in awe. "Wow."
"And their wife," Lindsey agreed. "Tipsy's pregnant again." The waiter beamed and went to share that news. "Wow, I feel like one of the popular kids who know a lot of people."
"It's entirely possible that you'll become one," Greg said smugly. "You know us and most of the Banes."
"The twins might even let you become a limited distributor of their stuff," Emilia suggested. "Ask them once you're in there." She nodded. "Will they be able to fit her in Chicago?" she asked her husband. "Last I knew he was running behind on creating new wands."
"If not there's always Ollivander," Greg said confidently. "He can fit nearly anyone."
"That's fine. She might have to take off Monday, but it should be fine."
"Gil would allow it," Catherine agreed. "He was happy for her too." She patted her daughter on the back as the singing stopped. "Thank you."
"That's not supposed to happen," Greg said, getting up and heading toward the back area. He looked at the group of potions masters. "Did you guys just have a charm failure on your food?" he asked as he walked past them.
"Yes, why?" one said angrily. "Cause it?"
"No, so did Lindsey," he said, frowning as he peeked into the kitchen. "Oh, fuck me," he sighed. He pulled his wand and walked in there, stunning the people in masks. "I've had enough." He ducked a thrown curse and got the other person, making them scream. He checked the chef, then grimaced at the lack of a pulse. "Well, damn it!" He pulled out his phone, calling Teller. "The chef at the Luxor was just killed by idiots in masks, a few of who are muggle apparently. No, I got their guard. What do you want me to do?" He grimaced. "Here?" He nodded. "Fine." He hung up and walked back out, catching the eyes of the staff. "The chef's dead. The guys who did it are stunned and frozen, including the wizard running them. Teller said to call someone," he said quietly. "Your choice."
"I'll tie them up and then unfreeze them," the head waiter offered. "Carl, go tell the manager of the resort. Greg, go ahead and call it in, just give us two minutes." He glanced at the other wizards. "What about them?"
"I have no clue," he admitted. He walked over there. "Guys, some idiots just killed the chef. That means that there's going to be cops coming soon. Teller said so," he said at the sneers popping into being. They settled down. "So hide the wands and order another round. They'll let you out fast." They nodded and only one left because he was in robes. He pulled out his phone as he walked back to their table. "Dispatch, this is CSI Sanders and there was just a homicide at the restaurant I and CSI Willows are at. We have suspects in custody." He shot a curse at someone who tried to run out, making them trip as the full body bind happened. "We need a detective and the CSI unit. Thank you." He hung up and sat down again, then took off his robe and folded it up, handing it to his wife, who shrunk it and put it into her purse. "Sorry, Catherine."
"That happens sometimes," she noted.
The manager of the resort stormed in, glaring at everyone. "What is going on?"
"They capped the chef," Greg told him. "They're mostly under rope and in pain."
"Thank you. You a cop?" Greg pulled out his ID, making the man grimace. "Fine, I know it's the law."
"At least it was in here and not the resort itself," Catherine offered. "Our people are fast and quiet. We can take him off the loading docks instead of through the resort."
"Thank you for that, ma'am." He looked around. "Where's the other two?"
"Penn's in bed with a small allergic reaction and Teller's with him," Greg told him. "I called them first."
"Thank you." He waited for the detectives to appear, nodding politely at them as they were escorted in. "Thank you for doing this quietly."
"We understand," the detective said. It wasn't Brass, it was the other one who worked with them sometimes. Catherine smiled at him and he grinned back. "Don't worry, it'll be fine. Go back to the resort and ignore us." He nodded, heading out, so the detective strolled over. "Dinner out to celebrate?"
"I'm going to a new school," Lindsey told him. "I got offered the chance to go to a private prep school."
"Congrats, kiddo. I'm sure your mom's real proud of you. Either of you go in there?" Greg raised a hand. "Why?"
"I heard something and went to investigate and snoop," Greg admitted. "The thugs were tied up. I got that one," he said, pointing at the guy on the floor. Emilia muttered something, uncursing him while the detective was looking at the guy on the floor. He kissed the back of her hand with a grin for her for remembering the little details. "We'll be here."
"Thanks." He went to handcuff that one guy then went into the back to start his investigation, letting the uniforms cordon off the kitchen and let in the ME when he finally came. The young guy was always so prompt. "Sanders said it was a jump and hit."
"That's fine," he agreed. "Was he in here?"
Greg peeked in when the detective looked out and caught his eye. "Yeah?"
"Did you move him?"
"I checked for a pulse on his neck. He was lying in front of the freezer but the door was open. One of the waiters may have closed it." He looked around. "You might want to check in there for the perps." The detective opened the door and the uniforms drug out the guys roped together in there. "Need us for anything?"
"No, thanks," the ME said absently. "Greg?" He came back in, letting the door close behind him. He looked up. "What killed him? There's absolutely no marks on the body."
Greg shrugged. "Cat and I are having dinner with Emilia and Lindsey to celebrate her going to a prep school."
The ME gave him a look. "Join us later, Greg."
"Sure," he agreed. "As soon as I get them home and change. I've got something I've got to do tonight."
"That's fine. It shouldn't take long." He went back to the body, starting his notes. "Dismissed, Greg."
"Sure, sorry." He left, going out to tell his wife the bad news. "Not a mark on him." She sighed. "So I've got to pop in there later."
"That's fine, sweetie. Then you can come pick me up for the duel."
"Not a chance," he said with a grin. "There's no way I'm letting you get in the middle of that." He kissed her until she got a dreamy look on her face, then smirked at Catherine. "I'm sure you can help her pick out what she should bring tonight, start making a list." He stroked her stomach. "If it wasn't for these guys, I'd let you come," he offered.
"Fine, be that way," she complained. "I'm perfectly able to help."
He kissed her gently. "I know. You're a fierce woman in my defense. It's appropriate for the woman who stole my heart and keeps it locked in an iron box."
"You did? Does that mean he's a zombie?" Lindsey asked.
"Only when 'San keeps him up," Emilia assured her with a grin.
She laughed and waved at the guys coming in with their cases. "Hi, Uncle Nick, Uncle Warrick."
"Hi, Lindsey," Nick said with a grin. Warrick grinned at her too. "You guys okay?"
"Just fine. They kept all the nastiness in there."
"That's good. Less room to search. Did they come through here?" Warrick asked. Greg shook his head. "Have a good dinner then." They went back there, nodding at the detective. "What are they doing here?"
"Lindsey just got accepted into a private school," the detective told them. "They're celebrating."
"Wow," Nick said, understanding what was being said. "That's so neat."
"It is," Warrick agreed. "I guess I know why Gil said I'm on this weekend after all."
"She's probably taking a tour this weekend," Nick agreed. "What killed him?" The ME shrugged. "No idea?"
"Nothing overt like a gunshot or a stab. Maybe a good conk on the head. We'll find out during the autopsy." He finished and waved his assistants in to get the body. "All yours," he said as he followed the body out.
Warrick glanced outside, then at Nick. "Lindsey's wearing a robe."
"She is?" Nick asked, looking out there. "Yeah, I guess she is. Huh." He shrugged. "She's too old from what Greg said."
"True," Warrick agreed, going about the investigation like normal. Even though he could see a wand in plain sight and there was a catalog on the table for Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. He decided to go ask Greg, whispering in his ear. Greg nodded. "A reason?"
"Not a clue why," Greg admitted. "Half and half."
"Thanks." He called Grissom on the way back. "The murder Greg called in, it's partially a his sort of thing case," he told him. "No, so was the vic." He hung up and went back to it, bagging the wand carefully and the catalog too. He had seen Greg's copy on his desk.
Greg walked into the coroner's section wearing formal dueling clothes and a robe, waving at the ME's. "Hey, David. You got a question?" he asked with a grin.
"Can you test to see if it was a...whatever you call them?"
"A charm or a spell is usually how it's put," Greg offered. "Some of us write sci-fi and fantasy too," he said smugly. He cast a charm on the body, looking over his body. "No charms and no poisons." He put his wand away. "I'm off to get into a duel with someone who's been trying a few of us. He challenged me in front of my daughter. Maybe natural causes?" He shrugged and left again, going to stick his head into Grissom's office. "You got them okay?"
"Just fine, Greg. Taking the wands seems to work and it's a normal part of patting them down," Grissom said, looking over his outfit. "That's cute."
"Thanks. I'm off to get into trouble. I'll be in the normal time tomorrow." He grinned and walked off, heading to the park via apparation. He wandered through the park slowly, watching the people out for a midnight stroll, and the muggers who were casing the people to see who had just made big scores. He stopped one by making him forget and turn away from his chosen victims. He walked into the grotto, checking his watch. He had a few minutes. The other guy appeared in a flash of light and noise, making Greg shake his head and sigh. "You idiot. You just wasted a lot of power you could have thrown at me. Didn't your school teach you anything?"
The other wizard stopped to stare at him in shock through his ski mask. "Who are you? The morality police?"
"No, but I think it's very unfair of you to rob me of a real fight."
"I took out Penn and a few of your buddies," he sneered.
Greg shrugged. "You ambushed Penn and if you got the other potions masters, more power to you. They annoy the fuck out of me sometimes by plotting against me for being good." He pulled his wand. "Ready? Standing or formal?"
"Not giving me a name to inscribe on your tombstone?"
Greg snickered. "You don't know who I am and yet you challenged me?"
"I see your wife and you with Penn all the time."
"Yeah, he and Emilia are old friends," he agreed happily. "Then let me introduce myself. I'm the Wizard of Blood. I'm a potions master trained in the old world style of kicking ass and a Bane." He could hear the swallow. "Now, would you like to exchange the same courtesy?"
"Timothy," he admitted. "Shall we?"
"Standing or formal?"
"Standing. I hate that pomp and circumstance." Then he turned around.
Greg rolled his eyes. "For future reference, this is a formal duel." He turned and they paced off the required ten paces. Then he turned and fired, making the guy groan and fire back a weaker hex that barely caught him on the arm. Greg got him back and the other guy fell with a scream, grabbing his legs. Greg walked closer. "That's what happens when you piss off a cranky pregnant woman or her deprived husband," he said dryly. "Now, I believe you need to leave the city. You've been pissing us off, you're endangering our anonymity. Staying will endanger your life." The wizard nodded so Greg stepped back. "Leave, now. Don't come back." The wizard scrambled up and ran off. "Good," he muttered.
"That's impressive," a gruff, gnarled voice said from behind Greg. Greg spun to look at him but the man lifted his revolver. "Don't try, boy. My wand's faster than yours." He stepped forward. "I saw everything."
"Saw what?" he asked, thinking fast. This man knew what he was. "Who are you?"
"I'm Agent Terone," he said with a sneer. "Your country has been looking for you, boy."
Greg looked at the ratty, dirty clothes, then at the guy again. "Agent?" he asked dryly. "You sure? You don't look like most of the Feds I've ever seen on tv."
"Don't try, boy." The pistol was raised higher. "I will shoot you for existing."
Greg sighed. "Fine. Try." He apparated and the guy fired at about the same time, hitting him on the arm. He landed behind the guy, waving his wand. "Obliviate!" he said firmly, hoping it worked. If not, he might be moving quickly. The man stumbled and grabbed his head so Greg 'lifted' his gun with his wand, taking him with him. He stunned the man, making him follow him out of the park. He ran into a beat cop and waved him down, wand carefully hidden now. He canceled the spell as the guy got out, muttering it under his breath while he checked his arm. Just a graze. "This guy just tried to shoot me. He's following me now. Get him!" he said, sounding hysterical to his own ears. The cops lunged for the guy, taking the gun from him and dragging him to the ground. "He said he was a Fed and that my country wanted me."
"People like you would have won us Vietnam!" the man shouted.
"I was three when it stopped!" he shouted back. One of the cops looked at him and he took off his robe, putting it over his uninjured shoulder, showing off his arm. "It's just a graze, but he's dangerous. He's been muttering as he chased me." He pulled out his ID, only letting the officers see it. "You can ask my boss, I'm sane."
The officers nodded and got him into the back of the car. "We'll take him in for evaluation and then in to arrest him. Do you need an ambulance, sir?" one of them asked.
"No, I'm going to go home and cuddle my daughter and pregnant wife. I came out here to meet someone and they left. I was leaving when he tried to jump me. Fortunately I ducked fast enough!" He took a few deep breaths. "I'm sorry, I'm a bit hysterical."
"That's fine, sir. Let me get you a ride to your house then." He leaned him against the side of the car, looking at his arm. "It's just a graze. Clean it very well and bandage it. You'll be fine." Greg nodded, staying calm. "You sure you don't want to go in to have it checked?"
"No, he only got me there," he said, sounding a bit more reasonable now. "Just get that man help. Next time he may attack someone who'll be slower or less lucky."
The cop nodded, watching as another car pulled up, this one had a dog in the back. "We're fine," he called. "Can you give him a ride home? He's a CSI."
"Sure. Get in, sir." Greg shook the hands of the beat cops and got in, letting the dog sniff the back of his neck. "You all right?"
"It's just a graze. It hurts like hell but my wife took classes in field medicine in school." He leaned his head back, looking back at the dog. "Hey, guy."
"Girl actually," he said with a smile. "That's Tashina."
"Hey, Tashina. You're very well behaved. Thanks for this, man."
"Not a problem, sir. What do you do in the lab? I've never seen you in the field."
"I'm Greg Sanders, the DNA tech," he offered as they drove off. "I was in the park to meet a friend about something going on in his life. He left, I turned to leave and he was there to jump me. I ducked when he raised his gun and it's just barely a flesh wound. Still hurts," he said, shifting some. "Then I ran and he followed. I slowed when I noticed the cops, flagging them down and they pounced. He said he was a Fed, that I could have won Vietnam for us. Even though I was three."
The cop nodded. "A lot of men and women came back messed up from there, sir."
"I've seen, but I've never been attacked before." He looked at the dog again, she was panting and staring at him. "Do I smell like a steak or is it from where my wife is pregnant right now?"
"Probably the latter. She's always been attracted to pregnant women. Do you need to pick up your car somewhere?"
"No, I live out by Palms if it's okay. If not, you can drop me at the station and I'll take a cab home from there."
"That's fine, sir. It keeps me from having to chase down purse snatchers." They shared a smile and he turned to head toward Greg's house. "You're the guy who's working with the medical guy in your family?" Greg nodded, eyes half closed. "I bet that's interesting."
"Pretty muchly," he agreed tiredly. "I spend a lot of time looking at things in the lab as the new serum runs on tissue samples. It's a new pain killer that's non-addictive. That's why people want me."
"I'm betting a lot of people would like that though."
"I know a lot of docs would, but the street people are not happy and the drug companies think this'll knock down their profits." He shrugged a little then winced. "Why does it always hurt more afterwards? Even paper cuts hurt more afterward."
"The adrenalin is wearing off. If you need to nap, go ahead. Just don't die on me. Tashina would have nightmares."
"Hmm. No, I don't need a nap. She won't have nightmares on me. I'm kinda floating right now." He pointed at a street ahead. "Go that way. That leads to my garage. It's shorter." The cop pulled that way and he used his keychain remote to open the door. "That's me," he said happily. "Thanks, man. Have an easy night. You too, Tashina." He got out, making sure his robe was still over his shoulder. He waved then went inside, closing the door behind him. He trudged through and into the kitchen, getting pounced. "Ow!"
Emilia pulled back to look at him, noticing the rip in his sleeve. "He had a gun!" she asked hysterically.
"No the old guy who jumped me afterwards had a gun," he said patiently. "He said he was a Fed too." He handed off his robe and tenderly pulled off his shirt with a wince, looking down at his arm. "See, not that bad. Help me clean it off?"
"Of course. Get your butt into the bathroom now, Greg!" He nodded, trudging that way. She went to talk to their visitors on the porch. "I'm taking him to clean the gunshot wound on his arm. Can someone call Poppy to make sure I'm doing this right?" She hurried up there to check on him, taking the washcloth from his hand to dab at it herself. "Stupid idiot! Did you stand there!"
"No, I apparated as he shot. He caught the end of the duel." He leaned his head against her shoulder. "We'll be fine, right?"
"I might kill you for nearly dying but we'll be fine," she promised more gently. She wiped off the area around his wound. "It's not so bad I guess."
Blair brought in a floating ball of Poppy's head. "I captured it from the floo. Here."
"Thanks. We're sorry to bother you, Poppy, but what do I do besides wipe it off and bandage it?"
"Is it through his arm?"
"No, it's just a graze thankfully. He took a duel earlier and the imbecile was caught at the end of the duel." She checked his arm. "He was hexed too, that's why he's not feeling it presently." She found her wand. "Finite Incantantum," she hissed at his arm, making him flinch. "Hold still, Greg, let her look."
Poppy stared then nodded. "Just clean and bandage it. Put some wound salve on it like you would a bad scrape. That's basically what that is." Emilia nodded, smiling at her. "Isn't there a healer out there?" Everyone shook their heads. "Fine, I'll tell someone about that. Maybe someone at St. Mungoes would like to move. There's a few who complain about the fog." Her head disappeared.
"Thanks, Blair," she said with a smile and a kiss to his cheek.
"Hey, I've done these before for Jim," he offered. "Let me, you go sit." She gave him a long look. "I won't do more than bandage him so you can cuddle him to death, Emilia." She nodded, taking the floating fire with her to put it back. "I'm kinda glad Alex figured out how to do that," he said as he closed the bathroom door. "You okay?"
"I hurt like hell," Greg admitted quietly. "Numbing charm?"
"Coming up," he promised, pulling his wand to cast it. "It's not bad really. You won't need to be on life support for it."
"That's always a plus," he agreed, a little happier now. "I hope someone won't believe him."
"Even if they do, no one can force you to work for the US," he pointed out. "You could always switch to Scotland Yard and then 'San would be a citizen." Greg looked a bit happier at that. "I'm temping in at Salem at the moment. Their Runes teacher is out with her new baby until the holidays."
"Congrats," Greg praised, grinning at him. "Feel better?"
"No," he admitted. "I'm still slowly going insane without my sentinel."
Greg gave him a gentle hug. "Don't worry about it. He's in good hands and you'll be fine, Blair. Remember, Tipsy keeps all our sanity in check. That's what's wrong with hers." Blair laughed and got some gauze to wrap his arm. "Thanks for the help."
"Not an issue. I put 'San down. Teller's outside with Penn; they've probably pounced Emilia by now. I never thought of using hemorrhoid cream on a boil before, but it worked well enough."
"As long as he doesn't grow the other one, we'll be fine," Teller said from the doorway. "You okay, Greg?" Greg pointed at his arm. "Graze?" Greg nodded with a yawn. "Good, then come join us."
"Sure." He hugged Blair again. "Remember what I said. Tipsy's sanity will continue to slip if yours does." He got a small smile so he headed down the stairs with Teller. "I'm fine," he said when he saw Penn pacing. "Poppy said she'd ask around for us."
"Good. I like that. The chef?"
"No spell. I checked."
"Even better. The wizards they got?"
"Are now wandless. That's part of the patting down procedure according to Grissom. Until and unless they get bail, they'll be fine."
"That's good too," Penn agreed. "The brat?"
"Leaving on the run for his life." Everyone stared at him. "I told him to. That he was endangering us and if he continued I was going to endanger him back. He left at a dead run." Penn smirked at him. "Do not say it, I can be that scary when I want to be. I wanted to be. Then that old guy who said he was a Fed was standing there and he said I would be working with them. He shot as I tried to apparate. I landed behind him, got him before he could offer a second shot, and made him follow me, where I told the passing patrol that he had shot me, was following me muttering about how we would have won Vietnam if we had fought, which he repeated to them I might add, and that he was dangerous. They're taking him to the hospital to be examined and then to the jail. I'm hoping for locked in a padded cell personally. Can I sit?" Penn frowned at him so he sat, putting his feet up. "Lindsey's probably fine. Right, 'Mil?"
"Just fine. Catherine dropped me off, she'll bring your car to work tomorrow and you can drive her home." He nodded. She kissed him as she slid into his lap. "Are you all right? Really all right?"
"I'm kinda sore and achy in that arm. It had been petrified before then. I'm fine otherwise, just a bit worried."
"No, you did good," Penn assured him. "Just what I would have done."
"That second detective might need to know something," Teller offered gently. "He was looking a bit confused earlier when I saw him."
"The resort's manager asked where you two were," Greg told him. "I explained that you were sick in bed, Penn, and that Teller was with you."
"Again, what I would have done," Penn agreed. "No other problems?"
"Not unless that guy was really a fed," Greg assured him. "Did it work for real?" Penn nodded, grinning at him. "Hmm, we might have to test that to make sure it works on the natural ones too."
"We'll leave you two to cuddle in peace," Teller said, giving Penn a head nod toward the pool. "You guys behave and come see us soon."
"Or let us have 'San again," Penn said with a bright grin. "She's a wonderful stage helper."
"She said her first word today," Emilia said proudly. "It's 'Mo. As in Elmo."
Teller giggled. "It figures she would be unique, even among us. Have a better night, guys." They went outside and apparated off.
Greg leaned against his wife's body. "I'm tired. You?"
"Yup, sure am," she agreed. She led him up the stairs and put him into bed, tucking herself next to him to cuddle. "Tell me if I bump it."
"Sure, 'Mil. Love you."
"Love you too, studly." He laughed but it was weak and he was quickly snoring. "Maybe I'll have someone design a protective shield around you," she said softly, stroking his chest. "You live such a dangerous life, Gregory. I should tell Snape on you." He rolled toward her, putting his injured arm around her body. "Love you."
Grissom looked up as Greg walked by his doorway. "Greg, could you come here, please?" he called. Greg came back in. "Shut the door." Greg did so, standing in front of him. "Greg, I tried my contacts last weekend and something amazing happened." He noticed the flinch. "You did do something. Something like a hearing aid spell? The doctor said most of the growth had come back already."
"Blair and I did it," he admitted, slumping a bit. "Grissom, you'd die if you had to retire. I realize that and you've helped me so much that the group and I got together to help you back a bit. We weren't going to let you know, just do it when you changed frames."
"Then it was on my glasses," Grissom said. Greg nodded. "When? The day I lost them?" Greg nodded again, giving him a small, hopeful smile. "I'm not mad, Greg. It was incredibly sweet of you to do that for me," he assured him. "I even know why you didn't tell me, so I wouldn't expect you to keep doing things like this all the time. Magic's not a remedy, it's a useful tool for you." Greg nodded at that. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Just remember to let me have your new ones when you change frames. It'll take about a day."
"That's fine, Greg. My doctor couldn't find a reason why I had excellent hearing most of the time. He suspects my glasses are pinching in just the right spot to make the sound hit the bones correctly." He gave him a smile. "We're good."
"Thanks. Do I have a stack waiting on me?"
"No, not yet. It's been a pretty slow day. How's the arm?"
"Sore," he admitted. "I put some salve on it at home but it's still aching a lot. I've got tylenol in my desk though so I'll do it that way."
"Good boy. One last thing. There is a Fed here for you. The hard, bitter man thinks you belong to him?"
"No, I don't belong to him. I belong to Emilia. She'd never use me for wicked purposes." He grinned and headed out to his office, taking something for his arm first. He saw the man all-but marching up the hallway and put on his jacket. He did a pocket check then pulled out a new roll of life savers just in case he needed to suck on something. "What?" he asked the man when he came in, sorting through his samples and the files. He always prioritized by those that were the more serious crimes or had the least time to last.
"We've been looking for you, Mr. Sanders. Your country needs you."
"My country can blow me. You guys have enough DNA techs at the FBI and I'd rather not have to work in a lab that's got such a bad reputation for losing and mishandling samples. Anything else?"
"You know what I mean, Mr. Sanders."
Greg looked at him, putting everything down to get into the guy's face. "Get out of my office," he said in a polite, conversational tone of voice. "There is nothing that will make me ever work for someone like you. Or your bosses, or their bosses. For that matter, your supreme leader is someone who'd probably start witch burnings again. People like you make me ill. Now, get out of my office. Even if you came with papers, you're still not getting me. I may not like to fight, but I will and you can't win against me. Even if you got lucky and shot me again, you'd only have to face my wife and my friends. There's enough of them that you'd all be overrun within a few hours. They're mean enough to kill you. I'm the nice one of the group, outside the priest. Get it right, before I have to remember what those people I used to hang with taught me." The Fed stepped back, getting away from him. "Anything else?" He shook his head quickly. "Then forget you ever heard of us, agent. It's more healthy and more conductive to happiness. Trust me on this." He turned and ran. Greg popped in a butter rum lifesaver and went back to his sorting. One had possibly expired so it did it first. Sperm samples were really delicate if not done in a certain amount of time. He'd warn the others on his break that the US hadn't really given up.
Dawn looked at the dragon crawling up her lap, smirking at the way it was hunched down while it snuck and was wiggling its tail back and forth, then she pretended to ignore it. Keelian liked to pounce. True to form, Keelian pounced her head, licking her nose when she squeaked in alarm, because he liked it when she did that. "Keelian!" She pulled him off her neck and hugged him. "Did you pounce me?" she teased, stroking his stomach gently. "You are such a pouncing dragon."
"Miss Summers, you're spoiling the dragon and hurting our eardrums," Professor Flitwick warned.
"Sorry, sir, Keelian just pounced."
"I saw him, Miss Summers. Give him here." He climbed down off his pillows and took the dragon to put on his lectern, petting it gently. "Stay there, Keelian." He went back to his lecture. "Now, shall we get back to the spells at hand?" The students went back to trying to make the papers in front of them fold themselves. It was 'handy charm' day in class. Dawn squealed, making him jump, so he turned to look at her, a frown already in place. At least until he saw the thing in front of her. "Who let an imp in here!" he demanded.
"Listen, you slimy little hellish messenger of pranks, get the hell off my desk and away from my paper before I slay you!" she said angrily, pulling out the dagger she always carried with her. The imp disappeared before she could stab it, so the knife went into the wood instead. She took a few deep breaths. "Imps are cowards," she reminded herself calmly. "I'm going to get a drink, sir."
"Miss Summers, is that a knife?"
"No, sir, it's a dagger and the headmaster knows I carry it, sir." She hid it again and got up. "I'll be right back, sir." She walked out, going to get a drink from a water fountain. This was not a happy occurrence. She heard stomping coming toward her and looked over at Snape. "An imp just popped in on top of my desk."
"An imp!" he demanded. She nodded. "Why?"
"Not a clue, sir, but I tried to stab it and it disappeared. Someone's playing dangerous games to try to best Luna." He frowned at her. "She'd never do that to me!" she said angrily, stomping her foot.
"That is probably true enough," he admitted. "I will look into the matter. Go back to class, Miss Summers."
"Yes, sir." She straightened herself out and went back inside. "Sorry, sir, Professor Snape asked me what I was doing."
"That's fine, Miss Summers. See me later?"
"Yes, sir," she agreed, doing the charm on a new piece of paper and handing over the delicate rose with a grin.
"That's excellently done, Miss Summers. Fifteen points for that and the timely save." He patted her on the back. "Go sit down." She nodded, taking the dragon with her to pet. He shook his head. That dragon was going to have to be weaned from her someday soon.
Snape stormed into the Headmaster's office. "Miss Summers said someone just conjured an imp to try to scare her."
"An imp," he said grimly. "She reported she did the correct thing and tried to stab it, making the little coward leave." He crossed his arms. "She didn't seem to think it was Lovegood."
"No, it wouldn't be. Demonic imp?" His potions master gave him a long, cool stare. "Never mind. She stabbed it?"
"She reported she tried. They are fairly cowardly and they would run at the first sign of retaliation. It appeared in charms."
"Fine. I'll talk to her about that," he said weakly. "Find out who is trying demonic magic, Severus. I want to talk to them as well."
"Yes, sir. I'll screen out Lovegood first."
"Please do so. Perhaps she could help you somehow." He waved a hand. "Go. Find them." Snape nodded, leaving him alone. "What now?" he moaned, holding his head.
Luna and Ginny ran into Snape's empty classroom between classes. "I felt someone doing something," Luna panted. "Who?"
Snape looked at them. "Someone cast an imp at Miss Summers."
"I'll kill the bitch," Ginny said, shocking the others. "I know who it is. I've seen her doing it. She wants to be more popular and she thinks it'll help her. She's in Dawn's own house." Snape looked really alarmed at that. "Sir, permission to kick her around before we bring her to you?"
"Denied. Bring her to me, then we'll see if you can kick her about a bit," he ordered grimly. "A Hufflepuff?" he had to ask finally. "Doing demonic magic?"
"Power brings popularity," Luna reminded him firmly. "It's one of the tenets of your house and mine." He nodded, that much was true. "If she tries, I'll take down her kit. She's got to have at least an altar, sir."
"That's fine. Find her, bring her to me here, then we'll clean her work area once we find it. I doubt she's doing this sort of thing in her room."
"She could be, it's not like the other Hufflepuffs would stop her," Ginny pointed out. "They're nice kids who wouldn't think a thing of it."
"Fine. I'll have a talk with Madam Sprout and we'll search the tower. Go back to class once you find her for me."
"Yes, sir," Ginny agreed, tugging on Luna's sleeve until she followed. "I knew it was something. That danger charm we did is really warm when something's going on."
"My bracelet danced like it was supposed to too," Luna admitted. She heard a shriek and they took off running to save Dawn from the cloud of bees around her. Luna cast a banishing charm and they all headed outside at high speed.
"Dawnie!" Ginny said, holding her. "Are you all right?" She nodded, growling now. "We know who it is. We're getting her now."
"Good. Let's go," she decided, stomping up to her house and opening the door. The portrait gave them a horrified look but let them in. Dawn ran up the stairs and kicked in the door, interrupting the next attempt by grabbing the girl by her braid. "Bitch, we've got to talk," she sneered, making the older girl look at her. "You're so fucking dead."
"Snape wants her," Ginny said frantically, trying to get Dawn off the girl who had tested her for getting together with Ron. "Let's take her down there."
"Help!" the girl screamed, kicking at her altar. "Help me!"
Luna pulled her away from there and looked at the setup, canceling the portal starting to pull an elemental into the school. She sneered at the girl. "Poser. That's now how you do it. Would you like to find out how you do it? I can call one right now, one inside of you if I want." The girl babbled and cried as Ginny and Dawn dragged her off. Luna went back to work neutralizing the things on the altar until the proper people could come in to finish it for her. Madam Sprout and the Headmaster came in together, with Snape not far behind. "She was trying to summon a fire elemental via portal, I canceled that and the major work she had going," she reported stiffly. "She was trying to suck beauty from the other girls from her notes, but it was going to suck their energies instead from what I saw. I know she cast the imp spell, we felt her do it. I know she cast the bees as well because we felt her do it and she's still got the cut on her hand from where she used her blood to summon the creatures. Do you want my help taking this thing apart?"
"No, Miss Lovegood, I think you've done excellently," Dumbledore praised. "Any idea how long she's been doing this?"
Luna looked, then looked back at him, picking up her diary. "This is dated six months before Dawn started. It says her first potion worked to change her hair color." She handed it over. "I glanced at the first page and the last few. She needed a teacher, that's why she's not so far into it. If you don't need me, I have Herbology this period, Headmaster."
"You have a study hall, spend it outside," Madam Sprout said, giving her a hug. "Thank you, Miss Lovegood."
"Not a problem," she said, sounding more cheerful. "I'd look for other places where she might have done things. There's no signs here of the animal sacrifices the diary hinted at." She walked out, going to pick up her things from Runes, then heading outside. "Sorry, Professor Callahan, I was breaking up a demonic altar. She was picking on Dawn."
"Really?" he asked, looking her over. "Who?"
"That same Hufflepuff who gives Dawn grief over being with Ron. She was the source of the imp. I saw you jump."
"I've always been attuned to the unholy nasties in the world," he admitted gently.
"Then can you *please* tell the headmaster I'm not one of them?"
"Of course," he agreed with a smile. "Where is he?"
"Upstairs in Hufflepuff. The present password was Junebug." He nodded, and she left.
He gathered himself together and went up there, going to offer his services. "Headmaster, would you like me to work with Professor Snape and Miss Lovegood to find her other spots?" he offered quietly. "I do know a bit about this area myself."
"Not surprising," Snape said dryly. "How would you go about it?"
"She's got a magic signature. You can do a tracing."
"Interesting method. It would get her classrooms."
"We could weed those out easily enough," Philip pointed out with a gentle smile. "I've got a 'feel' for unholiness still, Severus." He nodded at that, acknowledging that Philip was his superior in the area. "Also, Miss Lovegood does not set that off." Everyone stared at him. "She's doing chaos, not demonic magic. She consorts, but she's not personally doing it at this moment. She wanted me to note that for your benefit."
"That's good news," Dumbledore said happily. "I'll leave you two to that then. Come, Madam Sprout, we need to talk to this young lady. I believe Severus kept the girls from harming her too badly. Though she seems to be missing some hair at the moment."
"Dawn was dragging her by her hair," Snape agreed, smirking at him. "I suppose we should be thankful that Miss Summers isn't allergic to bee stings."
"Oh, I felt that one too," Philip assured him. "I put a shield around her. She shouldn't have a single sting. She is slightly allergic." They got to work taking apart the altar, carefully storing each and every piece of equipment and all the herbs and candles. "She did a good job of interrupting things."
"Miss Lovegood did so," Snape offered.
"Then she's definitely knowledgeable. A real asset to the craft since she still fights." Severus gave him an odd look. "If she weren't a good girl, Ginny Weasley would never put up with her," he reminded gently.
"Good point," Snape agreed finally. "Do you think she'll become like Wesley was?"
"No," he said with a smirk. "That would be a conflict and Ethan might not like that, but she'll probably teach all her little ones in the future. Wes seems like the sort who'd correct all the bad his parents did by having some to teach right."
"I hope I never have to teach them," Snape said bitterly. "That would be a bit too much to take."
Philip grinned and nudged him. "Come on, Severus. Just think about a little Luna and Wes in here, with their hellhound nanny?" Snape shook his head, groaning a bit. "Or even a little Luna who's going to be a bit too much like her daddy and be very adoring as long as she's got good parents?"
"I'll retire and let Gregory take my job at that point," he noted. "I do not want to teach their children. The same as I don't want to teach Potter's."
"Harry likes girls but it's like they confuse him. It's like he's never really had a relationship with anything or anyone," Philip pointed out more gently. "It's entirely possible that the boy doesn't know how to care for a girl, or anyone." Snape looked stunned. "I'd look for odd things in his first one. Either she'll run him over or he'll start to treat her like his uncle did his aunt. That's the only example he has." He smiled. "Then again, it's not my place to say that since I'm not family."
"I'll have Holly watch him for such incidences," he agreed quietly, taking the point. While they worked, he added up the total of what little he knew of Potter's home life and it didn't seem to add up. "Didn't they treat each other well?"
"Each other? I suppose. She was a weaker homemaker sort and his uncle was the supposed man of the family. Did they like Harry? Not a bloody chance. I heard Alex going off on them a few months back when someone told him something about them."
This did bear looking into and Holly would be the appropriate person to do so. "Should we watch him for him to join the duo to make it a trio?"
"No, I doubt it," Philip snorted. "He has no idea what to do with a girl and he loves Ron like a brother."
"Good. A Weasley-Potter would be horrible on the world."
"It'd give the twins someone to take over if theirs don't."
"That's a thought worthy of drinking heavily," Snape said dryly, cracking the other teacher up. A thought occurred to him. "I do hope Albus went to shoo my students to a study hall."
"Mine too," Philip agreed with a grin. "Otherwise we'll have a mess and a half to clean up."
"That's what Gryffindors are good for," Snape reminded him.
"Not true. The world needs foolish hero sorts to write songs and stories about," Philip reminded him with a grin. Snape pressed his lips together but you could tell he was trying not to laugh. "Have you heard the new song about the final battle? Sounds like Harry's a Valkyrie."
"That boy would never make it in such a job," he sneered, lightly of course. He liked Philip a lot. He always had. "He's got too much of a violent streak in him. He enjoys the destruction when he causes it."
"Ah, then he's a young man then," Philip said fondly. "They all like to see big explosions and make things explode, and things of that nature. Good to know he's normal some ways."
Snape did burst out laughing this time, he couldn't help it. "You are insane," he noted.
Philip smirked at him. "Insane is a matter of opinion," he pointed out. "I think I'm totally sane, therefore I am."
Snape shook his head. "Remember what they say about those who believe they're the only sane ones in the world, Philip."
"I know there's others. You seem to be sane most of the time."
"Thank you. I try not to let the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs get to me too much."
Philip nudged him. "That's what you've got a wife for," he pointed out with a smirk. "To wear out that nasty stress with." Snape looked stunned so Philip smirked at him. "I've had that thought before. I need to find myself one of those soon."
"I'll ask if Holly has any relatives." Now he knew he was insane. It was all the influence of Alex and Potter, it had to be. Even Severus had felt his own sanity slipping on occasion after having to deal with those two together. Though it did explain Potter so much.
Dawn was drug into the headmaster's office by her collar, sighing in defeat as she was stood in front of the desk. "What did I do this time?"
"You are not allowed to enter private residences while in town," Snape informed her.
"Dude, it's Harry's and Ron's bolt hole. It's not like it's someone else's and I'm cheating on Ron. Harry just wanted lunch with me. It'd be like any of the kids who lived in town going home for a snack."
"It does not look right and you must be aware that there were press people in town," Snape said firmly. "Tomorrow's headline will have you shagging someone in an apartment in town and us responsible for letting you."
She snorted. "They all saw Harry pick me up in the quill shop! Hello, they were following my butt around again talking about how fit it was. They cooed when Harry gave me a hug and called me his little sister and invited me up for tea."
"Still, it is not proper," Dumbledore said gently. "Sneak away next time, Dawn." He smiled at her. "There has been an offer for you to visit with one of your friends tomorrow to talk to a newly emerging witch. We have gotten your Aunt Anacordina's permission already if you would like to go. Mr. Saunder's coworker's daughter just got her letter and they start later over there."
She squealed and hugged him. "Oh, my God, that would be so cool! I could even do a bit of shopping with Lindsey. I never knew she was a witch, that'll be killer! Which school is she going to?"
"Chicago, I believe," Snape admitted. "I would be taking you."
"You just wanna play with 'San," she teased. "She's got you wrapped around her fingers like she does her daddy because she likes the lab." He glared at her and she grinned brighter. "I know she does. She did it to her dad and now to you." She looked at the Headmaster. "I'd love to go. When and where should I meet him?"
"Out front would be fine and after breakfast. Try to be reasonably attired, Miss Summers," Snape said, looking over her present outfit. "That is not."
"What's wrong with it?" she pouted. "I look cute!"
"Indeed, that's the problem. You look *cute*. Try harder tomorrow."
"You'd rather I wore that black dress to the City of Sin and easy sex?"
"No," he admitted, changing his mind. "Never mind, wear that outfit." He turned and stomped off to find something to take that image out of his mind. His wife stopped him and gave him a kiss and it was magically gone. "Thank you."
"Welcome. What did she do this time?"
"I advised Miss Summers to wear something different tomorrow, something to make her less cute and she suggested she wear the black dress."
"No, I don't think Dawn needs to wear a concubine's dress to Vegas. Ron might get pissed when someone tried to take what was his and marry her. Or pay her, depending on the man."
He shuddered so she kissed him gently. "Thank you," he said. "Are you ready to go back down?"
"Just fine." She took his arm, letting him lead the way down there. She waved at McGonagall. "He's going to take me shopping since my parents have most of my stuff and won't give it back."
"We could always send Miss Lovegood after them," McGonagall suggested slyly. "She's been a bit bored and upset recently."
Snape gave her a look. "That is a truly wicked idea, Minerva. Thank you." He walked his wife on, forcing himself to forget that idea. It was bad. It was more evil than he was.
Too bad she had overheard and had decided to go anyway.
Luna tapped politely on the door, smiling at the woman who answered. "Hello, my Ethan snuggly sent me to gather the rest of Holly's things. Otherwise she's going to be forced to wear her husband's undies and the like," she said as she pushed her way inside. She bowed to Justinius. "Ethan said I should kick your bum," she said conversationally. "He said he's always liked Holly and that he likes her best with Severus. He would appear here but he seems to have this power flux going and it'd likely destroy the house if he appeared inside. He did say he might pop up for tea however." She headed up the stairs. "Which is her room? She gave me a list of what to pack."
"Hold it," Justinius said firmly. "Who are you?"
"Luna Lovegood." She saw the blanches and smiled. "I'm still mostly a good girl, but really. He is most upset and I do tend to follow what my consort wills me to do when it's fun and informative. As a matter of fact, Holly promised I could borrow her book on advanced sex magic rites if I found her lingerie for her. Which room is hers again?"
"Last one on the hall," Justinius said, pointing with a shaking hand. "You're Ethan's student?"
She nodded, smirking at him. "And lover. Though, my stallion is quite something else and he's fond of Ethan as well. Wesley is quite wonderful at giving me what I need and Ethan what I want." She finished flouncing up the stairs and went to pack things for Holly, including one real outfit for her. That way her spouse could dress her however he liked best. She did pack a second bag of the rest of her things, including the pictures, and intended to give it to Severus so he could dole out what he wanted to see her in. She skipped back down the stairs with the bags, literally, and waved before departing. "Thank you for not making me prove it." She shut the door and used the portkey back.
Justinius looked at his wife. "It appears Uncle Ethan found a girl worthy of his nature."
She sneered. "She's barely legal, only a girl!"
Ethan appeared and the house shook. "Sorry," he said gruffly. "I still can't control that part." He looked at them. "Yes, she's barely eighteen but I like her like that. She's enthusiastic about the world and what I can teach her, without losing her idealism." He smiled. "Now, how about some tea while I fill you in on how Severus broke in your little girl at *her* request. She knows a good thing when she latches onto its neck and sucks a big hickey on it."
"I do not need that sort of information," Justinius decided. "Mel, Ethan's here," he called. "Wife, tea?" She stomped off, frowning greatly. "Sorry, she wants a grandchild soon."
"Ask Holly, she may yet give you one. Even though Severus is very good at making contraceptive potions." He paused, then shook his head. "I've got to talk to Severus about checking Dawn's. She's been botching it each and every time." He shook his head again and smiled at his student. "Come, let's sip some tea and talk about what you've been doing recently. I've moved up a spot in the hierarchy by making the one above me admit I'm better than he is while fucking him greatly." Justinius patted him on the arm and led him into the study.
Snape walked into Hufflepuff later that night, looking around. "Where is Summers this time?" he sneered, breaking up the nail polishing the boys were doing on each other's feet.
"Summers, visitor," one yelled. "It's Snape!"
"Coming!" She came trotting down the stairs. "Yes, sir?"
"I got the most distressing notice. You've been botching the contraceptive potion?" he hissed so no one would hear him. She went pale. "Bring me a sample and I will show you how to do it correctly. I refuse to teach a child of yours in the future." She swallowed and nodded, running back up the stairs to get the remaining vial she had. Then she followed him down the stairs. He tested it on the way, moaning in agony. "You are quite lucky, Miss Summers. This is botched horribly! It's actually a fertility potion!" She 'eep'ed and slumped a bit. "We will be showing you the correct way before you go near your arrogant little twit of a boyfriend. This is unacceptable! I will not teach a child from you two!"
"Chill," she complained, glancing around. "Ron makes his own too!"
"Probably no better than you do," he growled, opening the door to his classroom. "Inside, now." She walked in, shoulders truly slumped now. He stopped outside to send a blistering comment at Alex, then went in to teach her the correct method of birth control used in the wizarding world. "The only worse thing than a child between you two would be if Miss Lovegood and Miss Weasley had one together and then those children mated and produced an heir."
Dawn blinked a few times. "They can do that?"
His growl stopped that thought cold. She'd have to research that later.
To Part 6