Note: Death Warning. The battle happens here and people die.
The head over the aurors walked into Arthur Weasley's office waving a letter. "I just heard from Tonks if you wanted to tell your son and nearly-son," he said with a smile. Arthur smiled back and relaxed. "She said, and I quote, "It's really fun here, boss. Almost as fun as classes. Not. Anyway, we've been though that horrible gate thingie about seven times recently and it still makes me sick. Thank Alex for the shields for me. I've shipped about sixty crates of crap back through the Canadians, and you should look at some of the stuff. Oh, tell Alex we found the shrine he promised his gramps and it's a bit smaller than he had hoped for but fairly spectacular. The Malfoys were gits even back then. The last Weasley on the planet has Ginny's nose so I know I'm right about that sideline being hers, and the only Snape here is actually now a Dumass. Gee, what a shock that is. Tell Severus that she's really pissy, like his youngest sister. You can see the resemblance to the Dumass side too, she's a reckless bloke, just like Alex is. Imagine a child from Draco and Severus met and married one from Alex and Ronnie, and you get the last Snape-Dumass." Arthur cracked up at that and he held up a hand. "But overall I'm having fun, boss. There's whole worlds of people here who are scared to death of me. Gotta go, more aliens to scare until they commit suicide. Lovies, Tonks. Oh, and tell Arthur that I'm right so he can check it out too." He folded up the letter. "And there you have it."
"What sideline?" Arthur asked.
"In that diary Dumass and them decoded, there was a mention of one of you lot. And his newborn baby daughter who didn't get snatched." Arthur gasped. "She's not in the official Weasley file upstairs either. We figure she got picked up and protected by someone. Tonks figures that's where Ginny comes from since she's so much like your own."
Arthur beamed. "I know just how to check that out too. The main family birth chart goes back that far but it's been sealed up for a long time with one of my Aunts. It's in her basement I think. We've been using a modern copy of the thing. I'll check with her tonight."
"Good man, and please pass on the message that Tonks is having fun scaring the universe."
"With her hair, I'm sure it was a given," Arthur told him, looking serious until he burst out laughing. "Thanks for that."
"Not a problem, Arthur, I like your kids. That Bill's something else entirely." He strolled off whistling, sounding very pleased with his people. Tonks was doing the first shift over there since she had the most battle experience. It looked like she was giving it the old Hogwarts try.
Arthur wrote out the message and sent it with his owl, smiling as it departed. Then he wrote one out to his son and sent it through the floo to Gryffindor. He'd get it soon enough.
Ron ran in late to Defense with the Hufflepuffs, smiling at the teacher. "Can I borrow my cohorts for a few minutes?" he asked. "I just got a note from my dad."
"No. You can do that between classes," Methos said patiently. "Sit down, Mr. Weasley."
"Yes, Prof." He sat down and looked at Xander, grinning and holding up a thumb. "Tonks," he hissed. Xander broke out in giggles, leaning down to try and cover them.
"Enough," Professor Methos demanded. "Or I'm giving a pop quiz on Pokemon monsters."
"I watched that show," Xander said proudly. "I still want a Jigglypuff."
Methos looked at him. "Why does that not surprise me," he said dryly. "We're going over emotional curses," he announced. "Hopefully some of you are taking this seriously." He turned and put the first one on the board.
"Shit, that's what's wrong with the moody bastard," Xander said suddenly, sitting up straight.
"Which one, Mr. Dumass?" Methos asked patiently. "You make so many people moody and sullen you should be declared a cause for depression."
"The broody mood-cow who follows you around. I've often wanted to do a good 'Finite Incantantum' to him and Angel both but I was worried I might break his soul free and then he's go all evil, stupid, stalker git again and try to kill some more fish and then we'd have to kill him but it does explain MacLeod perfectly. I wonder who he pissed off that much?"
"Don't you mean which family?" Harry asked. "That one takes more than one caster."
"Knowing MacLeod, it could have been a country," Xander told him. "But it's simple enough to fix. Sev has a potion that'll fix it." He beamed at his teacher. "Can I?"
"No, you may bother the rest of the world *after* my class, not during it. Sit still as well. No more wiggling like your sister's familiar." He turned back to the board and went back to writing notes. "I mean it, Dumass. Or else I'm still throwing a pop quiz and you won't be able to take part."
"I'll just give the answers," Xander reminded him.
"Fine, go," Methos sighed. "It will save me trouble later anyway." Xander picked up his things and rushed out, heading down to the potion's classroom to interrupt his seventh years. "Now that we're done with that, may we move on? Mr. Weasley, anything else you'd like to add?"
Ron scrunched up his face while he thought, then shook his head. "Not right at the moment. Did he say Angel killed fish? Why? Isn't that really easy to do?"
"He was stalking Willow at the time and did it to frighten her. He strung them up prettily and put them in an envelope on her pillow. Out, Mr. Weasley, and do a paper for me on this subject, two feet by next class," Methos ordered. Ron and a few others opted out of the class, deciding to do it on their own. "Fine. Are we done with the inanity?" Everyone else nodded. "Good," he purred in a stalking, sexual predatory manner. "Then let's get on with emotional curses before I do on one the class." He turned back to finish his notes, noticing someone else was sneaking out with Ron's letter. "Paper, Mr. Potter. 3 feet."
"Yes, sir," Harry called back. "Thank you, sir." He ran off, catching up to Ron in the meeting room. "You dropped it." Ron waved a hand so he sat down to read it, giggling at the message. "I knew Tonks would be a good one to go threaten the universe. If it couldn't be Cordelia or Buffy, I'm glad it's her."
Ron giggled. "I'll tell Dawn you said that."
"Okay." He handed it back. "I've got three feet."
"Pick the suicidal depression one," Xander said as he led his cousin in. "It's got feet and feet worth of paper. I should know, I did twelve and only repeated two points." Severus gave him a look. "The teacher told me to write everything," he said with a grin. "We've figured out what's wrong with MacLeod."
"Who?" Snape asked.
"The Scottish hero mooning over Methos," Harry supplied. Snape looked at him, still looking clueless. "Long dark hair, looks like he belongs on the cover of a romance novel if he'd ever quit sulking?"
"Oh, him," Snape said with distaste. "Why do I want to help him?"
"Because otherwise he's going to keep popping up and he'll take all the heat in the battles," Xander told him dryly. He saw that wasn't working. "Because if you don't, I can't send Dawn over there for the holidays, which means you'll be stuck in the same house as Angel, Spike, Cordelia, Buffy, Fred, Gunn, Wesley, Ethan, Dawn, Harry, Ron, Draco, and Sirius," he said smugly. "If you do, it can be an all-adult holiday after Christmas morning."
"Black is living?" Snape asked looking at Harry. He nodded. "Then why hasn't he been caught?"
"Ministry, in the US?" Harry pointed out gently. "Besides, we all know he didn't do anything. Pettigrew was captured the other morning and then escaped again."
"Since when?" Snape demanded.
"It was in the morning paper a few days back," Ron told him. "Tuesday I think." He looked at Xander. "We're coming over for the holidays?"
"I expected you to spend a lot of it curled up against Dawn when she wasn't at your house," Xander offered. He looked at his cousin again. "Yes?"
"That is more than reason enough," Snape admitted. "Torture is not kind, Alex."
"Hey, I offered you a way out of it," Xander said with a faint grin. "We can easily create portkeys over for the *whole* group Christmas afternoon. That gives us a week without the kids."
Snape hid his smile but he knew Xander could tell. "Fine. I'll accept your gracious invitation and make that potion for him. It should take a few days."
"He should show up again in about six if he keeps his usual schedule," Ron told him. "Hey, Xander, can we send him over to help Tonks? You think they'd like him?"
Xander snickered. "You are mean, Ron. What did those aliens do to you?"
"They stole one of the founding Weasleys," he said firmly.
"Good point." Xander looked at his cousin. "Please? I'll be nice and get you something special for the holidays."
"I'll get you at least one thing that's not sexual or joke related," Xander promised.
"Fine. That is incentive enough. Potter, tell Black to stay over there. They can have a dinner in your honor when you arrive." He walked off, heading back to his classroom.
Xander spun around and grinned. "Good me. It's my good deed of the year." He beamed at them. "Okay, we need books on emotional curses." He walked over to a nondescript trunk in the corner, kicking it open. "Hey, Grams, may I please have the stuff I was working on and the Big Book of Dark Curses?" he called. A few books flew out and nearly hit him, especially the thick and heavy one. "Here we go." He grinned at Ron, ducking one last book. "Thanks, Grams."
"You're welcome," Aunt Cordy called. "Behave, Alex."
"We found out what's wrong with MacLeod. We'll fix him when he shows up next time."
"Good! He's out bothering the cows." The lid on the trunk slammed shut.
"That sucks," Harry said, starting to snicker.
Ron looked at the big, heavy book that was nearly as big as he was. "You weren't kidding. It's really called the Big Book of Dark Curses." He looked at Xander. "Where did you find this thing?"
Xander coughed and flipped it to the first page, then walked off humming. He had only added about a hundred curses and spells to it. Professor Flitwick's cousin had done most of it. He found his mate outside a classroom and gave him a long, deep, probing kiss, startling the non-Hufflepuffs. "We've got the big book downstairs," he shared then he walked on.
"Class, Xander," Draco ordered. "Or no sex during lunch." Xander sighed and trudged back, going into class with him. "Thank you." He saw the teacher's amused look. "It works. It's incentive."
"Probably the only incentive that works," Flitwick admitted. "Mr. Dumass, I could have sworn I had dismissed you for the semester."
"Draco said I had to come or I couldn't suck him off during lunch," Xander said, starting to pout. "He's trying to take away all my fun, Professor. I was even nice enough to talk Professor Snape into helping fix MacLeod and giving Ron and Harry your cousin's book to do research from."
Flitwick's eyes opened wide. "My cousin's book?" Xander grinned and nodded. "Mr. Malfoy-Dumass, you will give him whatever he wants during lunch as long as he goes back to watch what they pull from there. We don't need an ice demon wandering around the school for kicks."
"Yes, Professor," Draco agreed, walking Xander out. He swatted him. "Naughty, Xander!"
"Sorry!" He gave him a smug look. "It's the Big Book of Dark Curses."
Draco frowned. "I thought that was a myth."
"No, I added about a hundred things to it myself," Xander said proudly. "They're doing research on emotional curses."
"Why would that be in ....." Draco took off running. "You will *not* torment me with something out of there," he shouted as he ran down the halls.
Xander gave the nearest painting a smug look. "And that's my evil deed for the week," he said proudly, going out to fly around. He waved at the Headmaster as he passed by him. "They're doing research. You might want to send Severus in a while to check on them. They're doing lots and lots of research." He ran out to join the first years flying around. He enjoyed the hell out of flying class and tried to make it every day. Madam Hooch looked at him like he was demented but that was fine with him. He was used to it.
Severus Snape looked up as Draco walked into his classroom that afternoon during his free period. "What did you need?" he asked quietly.
"I needed to talk to you about something I saw during the moon dark," he offered. "I saw some very odd things." Snape sighed and slumped a little. "Not that I care, but he might."
"He very well might, but I do not want that information to get out."
"Good point. I won't even pick on you about it, but I feel he should know. Or at least Des should know. It'd make her go easier on him."
Professor Snape looked at him. "It won't because I'd never change my name."
"Hmm. A good point, but I still think he should know. I'm not going to tell him but he does think about such things. He was worrying about them earlier this month." He crossed his arms. "I'm not asking for bloody hearts and flowers, but maybe a discussion?"
"When I feel capable of it, I will tell him," Snape agreed. "Thank you for letting me know you know."
"For some odd reason I seem to like you," Draco admitted. "I have no idea why." Then he gave him a half-smile and strolled out. "I've got to catch my mate and make him sorry for letting those two have that book."
"The Big Book of Dark Curses," Draco threw over his shoulder. "It's too heavy to move, it's still down there."
Snape rushed out, going to look in the mythical book. He'd never seen a copy, only heard of it. He found Professors Methos and Flitwick looking at it as well. "Is it really?"
"It is," Flitwick admitted, looking very down. "One of my cousins did most of the editing. Mr. Dumass added one-hundred-twelve things to it and his grandmother another fifty-six." He turned a page. "It really is a fascinating thing."
"At least we'll know who the curses came from when they happen," Methos offered. "It would have to come from one of the group."
"At least the Weasley twins never got hold of it," Snape pointed out. All three teachers smiled at that, it was a happy thought. Who knows what the twins would have done in their school careers if they had gotten hold of it. "Did those two pranksters come back?"
"They were sent to a magical reform school in the United States," Flitwick told him. "Served them right for such a harmful thing." He turned another page. "Oh, dear. I've seen this one before. It was used against Miss Lovegood. Ah, and here's what she did back." He shook his head. That had been a hard charm to break. She was very good at offensive hexing. Or hexing things into offensive forms. Really, making the girl into a giant walking fist doing the two-fingered salute all day was a bit much. Professor McGonagall hadn't been able to decide if she should award points and applaud or sigh in disgust and shake her head. Her area's pride and joy was at stake. He turned another page. "Ah, here's the source of the monster up in the attic. The spell to bring Fluffy to life." Snape shuddered.
"Having flashbacks?" Methos asked.
Snape nodded. "Yes. He was guarding the Philosopher's stone when it was here. I got bitten trying to protect the thing. Potter still made it past him."
"Hagrid said the beast loves music," Methos told him. "He had it out for a walk and it pounced me to slobber on me."
Snape and Flitwick both shuddered. That poor man. Flitwick turned a page and sighed again. "Here's one we'll be seeing tonight if the wand movements I caught Ron using were what I thought I saw." Snape came around to look as well. "It's a spell to change food into fishing worms. Very unappetizing."
Methos gave him a pat on the shoulder. "It could be worse. It could have been your own youthful mistake, Finius."
"True, but it was my family's. We didn't even get to kick the bastard out," he said sadly. "He died when something backfired on him. He was trying to send himself to the moon you know." He turned the page and shuddered, flipping again quickly. He didn't need to see anything about penis shrinking potions. What a horrible thing. And Alex had put it in there. How could a man do that to other men?
Professor Dumbledore stood up during dinner, looking at his students. "A short announcement," he said firmly. "Anyone caught casting something out of that book in the manner's meeting room will be expelled with full prejudice by the Ministry and will be forced to live in the nether regions of South America without human contact for life. We've already set up the house and everything." He looked from Xander and Draco to Ron and Harry. "I mean it."
"Then no one should eat the sweet potatoes," Xander offered.
Ron coughed. "Or the gravy." He looked at Xander. "Worms?"
Xander shook his head. "Penis shrinking potion. I like it when people look at me in awe." Draco hit him on the arm. "Ow. Sorry, dear. I went a bit naughty today." He looked at Ron. "What did you do?"
"I'll have those dishes removed. You both have detention tonight with Hagrid in the forest. And no scaring the creatures, Mr. Weasley."
"No fair, you're not picking on him," Ron pouted.
"He can't help his scary nature," McGonagall said, glaring at Xander. "It seems to be natural to him."
"I'll remember you said that when Halloween comes around," Xander offered with a grin. "You mean I can't shoot a centaur if it bothers me?"
"Only in self-defense, Mr. Dumass."
"Yes, sir." He sulked, getting a strange look from his mate. "What? I like my naughtier side sometimes. It begs to come out."
"You're delusional. I'll make you a normal Dumass yet," Draco warned, handing him some food. "Anything else we shouldn't eat or drink?"
"No, I only did the sweet potatoes. The house elves were in the book though. They might have been doing something."
Dumbledore walked out and dinner didn't appear. He would check on that before something happened. "Shouldn't he have grown up by now?" he muttered as he walked.
Two little mice snuck into the room, squeaking at each other as they ran over to the book. One pulled a wand and started a copying spell, knowing it would only get half of it at best. There was too much there to leave alone though. A new copy floated into existence near them, labeled conveniently "Dark Pranks" and only an inch thick. The copy was finished and they took both with them. If mice could cackle, every owl in the owlery would have hidden in fear. They got home in time to see the next labor pain, soothing their wife by reading to her out of them. The midwife wasn't looking happy with them but what did they care? It was calming their wife down.
Methos looked up and smirked. "The rest of the day is a study hall, I do expect you to study. I shall be back tomorrow." He looked at Ron. "Not coming?" he asked when he noticed he wasn't moving.
"I'm trying to figure out what that is."
"It's your niece and nephew being born."
"Cool!" Ron and Harry both gathered up their things and followed him out of the special seminar class, going to help the twins with the new babies.
Methos made it through the floo first and someone foolishly stood in his way. "I have been present at the birth of every single one of us to date, I am not missing these two, move," he said with great authority. Molly Weasley got out of his way and he headed in to help. "Tipsy," he said with a smile. "We felt." He sat down to smooth her hair off her forehead. "It's all right, love, we're right here. We can bless them as soon as they come out." She nodded, grabbing onto his arm with both hands as another contraction started. He looked at the midwife. "Need help?"
"I do not and you should not be in here," she said firmly.
Methos looked down, then knocked her out. "Shut up. Boys!" Ron and Harry came running in followed by the twins, Molly, and Philip. "Philip, we will be blessing the children as soon as they come out," he ordered calmly. "You two, come take my place, Ron and Harry I want you both to do that massage technique I was teaching you on Lovegood." He stood up and moved down to be the midwife. He had delivered most of the Banes as well as blessed them as one of them. He let Molly help him because it would make her quit twittering. The midwife groaned and Ron drug her out of the way. "There," Methos noted. "Harry, push a bit, the baby's tipped toward you. Ron, small circles to calm the second one." Ron nodded, following his directions while Harry helped. "Just a bit less, Harry." Harry eased up and Tipsy started to breathe again. "Thank you. Now, downward pressure." He smiled at her. "I see red hair." The twins cheered up at that news. "And another," he ordered. Tipsy pushed again, bringing more of the head out.
Xander walked into the Great Hall at breakfast the next morning. "I am pleased to announce that the Weasley twins have had one healthy boy and a slightly less healthy girl. She's a little small so she's at the hospital for a few days just in case." The students burst out in applause and cheers. "The mother is fine and swearing there will be no more from her." The older girls laughed. "The twins were so happy they forgot to hex the midiwife who tried to remove them from their children's sides." Even McGonagall clapped at that. "As such, Harry, Ron, and Professor Methos are at the hospital and will be back soon," he told the teachers.
Dumbledore nodded. "Thank you. How were they?"
Xander walked up to the head table. "Very well. The boy was twenty-two inches and just under ten pounds. The little girl was smaller, she was twenty-one and about six pounds. There was almost a third but apparently it stopped developing in her first trimester or early second according to Professor Methos. It's what was causing her complications because it hadn't been reabsorbed. The mother realized it and had a good cry but accepted the fate. They're holding a private ceremony to bury that one."
"I'll send them a note between classes," McGonagall told him. "Did you get to help?"
"I got to hold one of the slimy, wiggling darlings," Xander told her. "I'm not medically inclined."
"Good point. Thank you for the good news. Do you have any idea where your mate might be?" Xander shook his head. "Are you sure?"
"He wasn't there, he might have slept in this morning," Xander said with a shrug. "We do have a free period first thing."
"Good point," Dumbledore agreed. "Thank you." He looked at Professor Snape. "Didn't you want to offer your congratulations?" He had been strangely silent, usually he found something polite to say at the least.
"Expressing either joy or remorse would not make her feel better," Snape offered, looking at Xander. "Is she fine?" He nodded. "Truly fine?"
"Just fine. The midwife pronounced her healthy and so did the healer the twins called in when she started to have the third. Methos knocked the midwife out because she had demanded everyone leave the room. Tipsy didn't even have anyone to hold her hands for her. Methos and Molly delivered them, the twins held her hands and coached and my two apprentices did metamorphics on her stomach." He gave him a smug little grin. "It was very nice of her to go last night."
"It was," Snape agreed, nodding at him. "Go eat."
"Sure. Is my book still down there?"
"It is. You will leave it alone and not pick the lock I put on it," Snape warned.
Xander grinned. "I've got the thing memorized. I helped write it." He went to have some breakfast, looking down at Dawn. "Draco?"
"Sleeping on a couch. They're really okay?"
"Just fine. The little girl's a little small. Apparently Weasley girls are hard to bear."
Dawn snickered. "I'll tell Ginny you said that."
"She heard it from her mother's mouth anyway," Xander reminded her. He pulled over some toast and nibbled. "Who else got into the book?"
"Crabbe and Goyle. Snape had to stop Crabbe from a life of solitude in the middle of nowhere."
"Ah." Xander nodded. "Good deal. Think the twins would like it as a baby shower gift?"
Dawn's eyes widened as Draco walked in, pointing at him. "Someone has bedhair."
"Hmm, someone does," Xander agreed, standing up and walking over to Draco, then picking him up and carrying him out to mess up his hair more. He liked bedhair on his mate.
The whole of Hufflepuff sighed at the romantic gesture. Xander was such a nice man.
Most of the Slytherins looked on in awe. No wonder Draco had chosen him. He was strong enough to get past the Slytherin distaste for the romantic.
Severus Snape shook his head. "Showoff," he muttered.
Harry looked up as his forehead started to hurt, nodding to McGonagall that he was going outside. He went out and leaned it against the cool of the wall. He felt he should go, he really ought to, but something was holding him back. A sharp pain in his arm made him focus on that. "Snape," he hissed, heading down to the dungeons, still holding his forehead. His uncle was in Potions chatting while being forced to help with the potion for MacLeod since it was his idea. He tapped on the door, still holding his forehead. "Is my uncle still here?" he asked quietly. "I think I need to go do something."
Snape took a deep breath. "He is. Go change clothes. You won't want to fight in your school robes." Harry nodded. "I'll have him meet you in front of the door in five minutes." Harry nodded again and ran off, heading up to his room to change. Severus turned around and looked at his class. "Class is hereby canceled for the rest of the day. I want you all to calmly head up to your rooms and stay in your towers until told otherwise." Xander's head slowly raised. "We're needed," he told him.
"Give me three to change," Xander ordered, heading up to do that. He met Draco in the hallway outside their room and walked in to change clothes together. "You don't have to go. I won't make you kill your relatives."
"If they're there, they're not relatives of mine," Draco said calmly. He noticed what Xander was putting on. "Curse breakers' unofficial uniform?" he asked.
"That and these jeans have seen me through a lot of battles, Draco. I helped send Angelus to hell in them and I helped blow up the school in them. I even helped destroy the Initiative in them. They've got good memories of battles soaked into them." He pulled on a sweater and a heavy leather jacket. "Grab a jacket, it was snowing earlier." He pulled on his boots and stomped his feet to make sure they were on tightly, tying them quickly so he could join Draco in heading down to the house. The rest of the years were filing in. "Dawn!" he shouted. She bounced down the stairs. "You know where the release is?" She nodded. "Good, you're in charge of it. No following, you're the last fighter left in this tower." She nodded again. "I'll make sure Ron comes back as uninjured as possible, princess. Don't wait up." He grabbed his sword from the corner and slung the scabbard over his back, leading the way down to the entry. He found Methos sharpening his. "You waited to do that?"
"I just killed a desk with it," he said calmly. He looked at Xander. "Wand?"
"Wands," Xander corrected, opening his jacket to show it fully stocked. "I planned this outfit out ahead of time." He looked around. "Harry?"
"Coming. He's fighting a few Gryffs," Ron said as he joined them. He looked over as the teachers joined them. "Gryff's gonna help," he warned. "We're heading with them." McGonagall opened her mouth. "I told you, I fight with the Banes or not at all. Neville knows the passage and the password to get the littles out. Harry?"
"He's coming," she told him. She looked over as Professor Snape came out in a dark grey outfit. He wasn't wearing a robe, instead he was wearing a well-fitting leather jacket. "That looks nice on you," she said, fussing with his lapels. "Kick him once for me, Severus." He nodded as Harry joined them. "Are you sure?"
"Wait," Luna called, jogging up to them. She handed Xander something. "Ethan sends his love and Wesley sends you this. It's for protection. He got news this morning that he might be forcing some demons to help him."
"Good deal," Xander agreed, stuffing the protection amulet in his pocket. "Did you call the house?"
"I did. Des is waiting for you to set a marker." Harry looked back at her. "Did you think Alex was the only fighter in the family? Des is a formidable witch in her own right. There's a reason why she heads the family." She straightened out her outfit. "Like it?" she asked as they left together. "Ethan said it was the most cute thing he could find for me to fight in."
"I do," Draco admitted. It looked very comfortable and warm on her. "Do you have anything on under it in case it gets ripped?"
She smirked. "I have my bitch queen from hell outfit on. Cordelia helped me pick it out," she said smugly. "Apparating, portkey, or otherwise, Potter?"
"Portkey," Harry ordered. "Did someone tell Hermione to call DA into service?" Ron nodded. "Good." He took a deep breath. "Let's go." He watched as Xander created a very loose portkey. "Hoping he'll take it?"
"He'll try it anyway," Xander noted. Before he grabbed on, he sent out a call over the Bane marking, telling them to get ready. Then he grabbed on and activated it, taking them all to the appointed meeting spot. Snow was falling gently around them, the woods were painted with a grayish light. The world was silent for a moment as they appeared. He nudged Harry behind him. "You are in the middle," he reminded him. "Unless you're called for private combat." He felt Methos send out the marker and felt the rest of everyone pop in behind him. He felt one wobble a bit. "Tipsy, if that's you or Emilia, I want you home," he ordered coolly. "I'm not risking either of you. Draco can do your jobs and so can the twins."
"I'm not leaving my twins alone," Tipsy told him. "Neither set. The others are well guarded." She pulled her wand. "You're fucked," she told him.
Voldemort laughed. "How genteel you are, m'lady Ramvette," he sneered. "I see not much has changed."
"Actually, much has changed," Xander told him. "Very much indeed." He shifted his stand to a 'ready' pose. "Are we going to chat? You're boring me and taking me away from my long-awaited shag this afternoon."
"A pure blood," Voldemort said, looking him over. "Which family I can't tell."
Xander bowed. "Carnage. Surname Dumass."
Voldemort swallowed. "Really?"
"Really," Xander sneered. "You're picking on my family. Did you think I wouldn't come back for this? Deaged and everything, in top form." He could feel Draco behind him, a bright ball of energy starting to suck things in. "No, his emanations will hurt you, Draco. Do the others instead," he said quietly.
"You could join me. All of the pure could," Voldemort offered.
Luna yawned. "You're boring me. You're taking me away from my chaos mage and my stallion. Can't we get on with this?"
"Lovegood, calm yourself," Methos warned. "Irritating him will make him sloppy but not enough." He nudged her when he saw the demons coming out of the woods. "Concentrate on them."
Xander grinned and pulled his sword. "I am Alexander Harris-Dumass, White Knight of Sunnydale," he called in the most common demon language. "All those who doubt that Buffy trained me step up and die." Some of the demons turned tail and ran, others looked very uneasy. A few however grinned and bared their teeth. "Luna, did you tell Wesley?" he asked, feeling Ethan coming in.
"I did. They called LA." She looked the demons over. "Steel, steel, iron, cast iron, wood, iron, and water," she noted. "All perfectly harmed easily." She took the knife from Xander's back pocket. "May I borrow this?"
"Sure. I had Tara bless it for me." He swung his sword around. "Who gives the starting bell?"
"Ding," Ron said, pointing his wand. "You smell like my sister, did you go near her?"
Voldemort laughed. "No. She was protecting the unicorn. The son was most delicious when I trapped him last night."
"They're called colts, idiot, and it was still alive this morning," Des told him. "Interestingly enough, Ginny healed it with me. Pity for you." She pulled her wand. "I agree, enough talk. This snow is too pretty to sully with their blood."
"Always artistic," Xander said happily, grinning at her. "Any time now, really. You're fairly boring. The school is still protected. So is our house. So is the Burrow. There's no one you could really hurt. Diagon's got it's own defenses. The Leaky is covered by them and Tom was a great fighter in his day. Hogsmeade is defended by the school. You're trapped to this lone battlefield. Unless you wanted to move somewhere more meaningful? The field where Arthur died maybe? Stonehenge? The hill with the dick carved on it?"
Voldemort looked at him. "No, this field suits me. Anxious?"
"No, bored. I find you too boring to live."
"Fine. Then let Potter come forward. We'll duel."
"Harry?" Xander asked.
"Sure." Harry stepped forward, looking him over. "Ron, be my second."
"Always, Harry. If you fall, he's mine." He moved into the correct position, waiting with arms crossed and his wand drawn. The evil git would try something. It was almost a given. Ron watched as the forms were observed, then Harry turned. He winced as his first one bounced off the Dark Lord, and he got to duck his. Ron ducked it too. A hand on his shoulder stopped him from stepping in. "I'll have to," Ron told him.
"It's an honorable battle so far. The first misstep he makes frees you to act," Snape reminded him. He watched as they went back and forth. "Not an unforgivable," he muttered.
"Harry won't," Ro hissed. "He's honorable." He snickered as the gold hair came back into existence. "Nice shot, Harry," he cheered. "Remember his hand."
Harry gave the Dark Lord a small smirk. "Ready to give in yet?"
"I will get you yet," he sneered. "You are but a boy."
"Yay me. Youth, energy, and experience. What a combination. You know, if you had left me alone, I wouldn't be such a threat to you," he said, casting a shield. The cruciatus mostly bounced off, he got a little pain from it. He saw Voldemort's second moving and hit both of them with a wide-angle nausea hex.
"Very nice," Voldemort admitted reluctantly. "Someone taught you very well." He looked at Snape. "You?" Snape shrugged and gave him a bland look. "I told you to prepare him to meet me, not to be a challenge."
"I'm afraid that's my fault," Xander told him. "I've taught Harry many things since we got back together." He beamed. "Show him, Harry. That one I taught you yesterday."
"Tradenis!" Harry cast, making the Dark Lord howl as the demonic magic hit him. "Gee, it worked," he said happily, grinning at the Dark Lord. "See? I like my great-uncle."
"Don't you mean son?" Voldemort wheezed as he stood back up.
"No, I'm his son, Harry's his grandson," Snape told him. "Since I've found that out, so much is explained in my nature."
"He is?" Des asked Xander.
Xander nodded. "Even I can mess up fertility charms. Remember that, Ron. It happens even to me."
"Oh, I can take that lesson," Ron agreed. "I don't want a kid like him."
"You had better," the twins said in unison. "Mum would kill you if you knocked her up already."
Voldemort hissed, "This is not a floor show! Shut up!" He cast at them. That broke the rules of honorable combat and it was on. Des fired the first shot, followed by Xander and Luna at the demons. Voldemort screamed in pain as Harry cast the cruciatus. "How could you!"
"Easy, I owe you for my parents, my friends, and some of my sanity," Harry yelled. He moved forward, casting another, and another, and a third until Voldemort was out of breath and bleeding on the snow, and still he got back up . "I owe you for ruining my life and that of many others," he sneered. "I will have your head as a trophy. I've already picked out a spot for it on the school's walls. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It's in Hufflepuff."
Voldemort shrieked in outrage. "How dare you associate me with those imbeciles!"
"Hey!" Dawn shouted from behind them. "Some of us aren't imbeciles, thank you. Just because some of us care more about clothes than fighting and honor doesn't make us dumb. It makes us happy!" She pointed. "Faith, the demons, Buffy, Angel, Spike, with her. Wesley, Ethan, Tara, Cordy, Fred, take on anyone you can." She looked behind her as the aurors started to appear. "They're down there," she called, pointing at them. Someone grabbed her arm and moved her out of the way. "Buffy, he's threatening me now. I can fight, you taught me that much."
"Move your ass back to the school," Xander warned, glaring at her. "I told you to protect your house."
"And I did. They're in Gryffindor." She gave him a steady look. "I'm not helpless. My powers are calling out for me to be here. Shouldn't you be right behind Harry?"
He bound her and sent her back to the greenhouses, then ran back to the battle with a battle cry.
"Remind me to spank Dawn," Ron told Harry, who was back-to-back with him against some of the older Death Eeaters. There were more than a few of them who were their size. More of their schoolmates had been called as well. They were the ones shooting the non- killing and annoyance hexes and jinxes. Someone roared and came at Ron with a large hammer, hitting him on the head.
"Ron!" Harry shouted, hitting the demon in the chest and knocking it apart from the blow. Someone floated Ron out of the way and Harry didn't have time to check him. Someone was taking care of that on the boundaries. He went after the next person in line, teaming up with Snape since his partner had just caught a stupify to the chest. "They all die," he ground out as they cast at the others. "They hurt Ron."
"Calm yourself. Anger on the field only works if you lose yourself in it," Snape warned. He heard a whoop behind him and dared to glance back. Tonks was back. Sandburg should be back soon. "Get Sandburg back to the school," he called. "He'll be here soon. Have him man the infirmary!"
Ethan was off chanting in his corner. He was summoning a demon he wanted help from. It was a long summoning but he had time.
Draco fell with a scream and the Weasleys immediately removed him from danger to try and revive him. They knew what was going to happen next.
Xander let out a primal scream from the depths of his soul and rushed the enemy, making it not only through their line but making a big hole in it before he turned and started to work back in the other direction. They had hurt his mate! "My mate!" he snarled as he attacked again and again. He noticed Faith laying on the ground and sent her out of his way with a thought. He went after the older death eaters, the experienced ones. One of them had hit his mate, he knew it was them.
"Someone revive Malfoy!" Bill Weasley yelled. "Alex is going nuts!"
"As long as he hurts the other side," Ron said dryly, walking up behind him. "Target?"
"Pick one," Bill ordered. Ron nodded and lunged back into the fray, punching and hitting at some of the students.
"Ron!" Harry called happily. "Wand? Magic?"
"Fuck magic, this deserves knuckles," Ron snarled, grinning meanly at him.
Blair appeared on the field behind them, on a slight rise. Behind him another form was gagging on the ground. "I told you to stand clear," he said as he hauled him up. "Move out of the way, Ray. This is getting dirty. Where am I?" he called.
"Which are the bad guys?" Ray asked. He saw a familiar face and sneered. "Oh, you're still living," he said, putting on his glasses and pulling his gun. He fired a shot at Methos, hitting him in the leg.
"No, not him! He's on our side. Hit the idiots in the masks," Blair ordered, pointing at them. He went to where the injured were, sending a quick 'ennervate' into Draco's chest. "Your mate's one baby step this side of beserking," he noted. He ran down into the battle. Jim would be proud of him, he kept his head and didn't panic in the least. Ray continued to fire on some of them from his safe spot.
Draco's yell of 'mom!' echoed around the field.
"You really are a momma's boy, aren't you?" Ron sneered at him.
"Yes, I am," Draco said as he struggled to stand. "Give me a clear view." He leaned on Arthur as he limped off to the side. He could feel the dirty energy coming off most of the death eaters and junior death eaters. It would sustain him until he could kick his mate's ass for getting in his way. He started to suck, rejuvenating his powers. It felt good, like the best feast he had ever had. He started to swell, then looked at Ethan. "Begging for help and a quick way out?" he called.
"Calling for help," Ethan told him. "Eat more of them, Malfoy, it can only help."
Xander's mother appeared with Anyanka, her shriek echoing around them and bringing a temporary halt to the fighting. "Who dares touch my son!" she demanded.
Snape looked at Xander. "I thought your mother was dead."
"No, she's the demon over Vengeance for Women Hurt By Men." He looked at his mother. "Mom, no offense, but we're in the middle of a battle here. Sure, they're whiny plonkers who don't know what a dick is for, but you can't hurt them outside your job and we really don't need your boss here at this moment in time."
"You're hurt," Anyanka said, glaring at him. "Who dares hurt that which is mine!" she shouted. "Only I get to hurt Xander!"
"Shut up, bitch, he's mine now," Draco sneered. He noticed two Rons and frowned. "Tara, I think you need to lend Potter a hand and figure out which Weasley is real."
The nicer Ron looked at him and shrugged. "All I know is this big hammer hit me on the head."
"Tara, he's been hit by Toth," Xander called.
"Coming." She came over to clear them back. "Clear the field," she ordered quietly. "Faith's dead." Xander nodded. "Try to live, Xander. I'd miss you."
Ethan felt an answer hit him, making him flinch and grow. He stood up straighter and looked around. "Who needed an ass kicking?" he snarled. Luna squealed and bounced over to hug him. "Kicking ass now, princess, cuddles later," he reminded her.
Xander's mother looked at him. "Welcome to the family." A younger death eater yelled out a scream and cast a hex, restarting the battle. "Fine, be that way!" she said, starting off on them. There were many here who she could call rights on.
Tara got Ron back together again then set him on the ground beside Draco. "Keep each other company. I'll go guard Harry."
"Tara, love, no offense, but you're not exactly a battle witch," Ron said, struggling to stand up. "Help my mum. She could use it." He made it to his feet and nearly fell again when Draco pulled himself up on him. "I'm not your bloody fence, Malfoy!" he said angrily, shoving him off. "Climb up Tara!" He stomped off, going back to Harry's side. He hit the person coming up behind him, then glanced around. "We're down most of the adults except Xander. He's hurt," he said as he joined in, letting Harry catch his breath. Harry simply nodded. He was starting to get really tired. "Is the guy dead?"
"He is," Harry agreed. "I should chop off his head to make sure." He saw another Ron heading his way and looked at him. "I thought you were fixed!"
"I am fixed," Ron said with a smirk, raising his wand.
"Stupify!" Methos cast, stunning the fake Ron. The real one limped closer. "Both of you fall back. Chop up the body later." He rubbed the newly healed spot on his leg. "Fight now, revenge later, boys."
Harry nodded and turned back to the fight. He hated this he decided. How Xander had stood doing this for so long he wasn't sure but he never wanted to do this again. "How's Dawn?"
"Bodybound and in a greenhouse," Des said as she moved past them, blocking a curse being thrown their way. She fell with a mild scream of pain and was gone.
Xander's growl echoed around them as he waded back in. Bill Weasley, Ron, Harry, and Charlie Weasley were right behind him, and the aurors followed the wedge into the middle of the other side. They were getting ones to the sides, keeping the line open. Behind them, Severus Snape was taking out the left sideline again. The rest of the Weasleys were taking out the right side, where the injured were. The demons were now gone. Ethan was still feasting on one's insides at the encouragement of Xander's mother. The line was slowly breaking when a shriek broke around them, and silence fell. Absolute stillness. Even the injured quit groaning.
"What is going on here?" Willow demanded. She looked at Xander, who leaned on Bill's shoulder. "You're injured." She looked at Buffy, who had a few good gashes as well. "So are you." She looked around. "Where's Dawn?"
"Safe," Xander told her. "You gonna help them or us, Rosenburg?"
"Xander, I swear I'm not evil," she reminded him.
Ethan picked her up by grabbing her head to look at her. "She is sane again," he pronounced, putting her back down. "Sorry, I had to ascend. Luna likes me this way."
"I'm sure Wes will try to kill you at least once," she sneered. She looked around. "What is going on here?"
"Easy, Wills. The guys in the masks are the bad guys who torture and kill other wizards and witches like Harry's parents," Buffy told her, plucking a wand out of someone's hand. That's a really puny stake. This," she said, pulling her own, "is a stake." She shoved it in his chest and he fell down, bleeding heavily.
"Stake," he groaned, looking at Spike. All he could see was the blond hair. He thought it was a Malfoy.
"No, he's a Spike," Buffy said facetiously. She grinned at Spike. "You okay? Your jacket's ripped," she said, moving to help him. "Willow, are you gonna join in or keep most of them frozen?" she demanded. "If this keeps going on, it'll never end."
Willow nodded. "Only those in the masks?"
"Some of them were spies," Xander told her.
"Then I'll judge intent."
Xander walked up and got into her face. "Sometimes the spies have to do bad things to fit in. Sometimes they even change their minds," he hissed. "Hurt my son and die."
She swallowed, seeing Xander for the scary being others did finally. "I'd never hurt him," she whispered, touching his bloody cheek. "Your mate lives, Xander. I can feel him." She moved around him and raised her head. "Pain!" she yelled, and the majority of the Death Eaters fell over. Her hair started to flow black and her eyes started to lose their natural color as well. "We will party now," she told them, sneering at them.
"I've had enough of that," Snape decided, knocking her out from behind. He looked at Potter. "It is your call when this ends."
"It ends here," Harry said firmly, loud enough to be heard. The aurors moved in and chained anyone in a mask on the ground. Harry sat down, looking at his bloody hands and his ripped jeans. He didn't realize he was in a puddle of blood but he didn't much care. He looked at Snape. "Does that mean you're my uncle?" he asked. Snape nodded, giving him a dirty look. "I guess that's fine. Can I opt out of potions?"
"Yes, you will," Snape agreed. "I'll file the removal paperwork later." He looked around, not spotting Xander. "Alex!"
"Des," he croaked, unbending to look over at him. "She saved Harry and Ron." He looked down at her again, closing her eyes for her. Harry stood up and came over to help him up but he brushed Harry off and stood, looking at the dead bodies. "We should torch them so they can escort her and be her slaves on the other side."
"Not before they're identified and named," one of the aurors told him, getting in his way. "Take her home, Mr. Dumass. Take her and your consort home and prepare her."
Xander nodded, picking her up. He headed home, putting her out in the study. He summoned the family. "She died getting between Harry and Ron and a curse thrown at them. Prepare her. I need to get back there and check on Harry, Ron, and Draco." He disappeared in a muted flash of light, heading back to the field. Draco found him first, holding him still so he could check him over. "I'm fine."
"You're not! You've got horrible cuts in at least three places and your fucking bloody!" Draco said hotly. "Potter, Weasley, home, now."
Ron shook his head. "I need to check on Dawn."
"I'll check on her," his mother promised. "We're taking the injured back to the school anyway." She looked at Xander and Draco. "You could both use some time there as well."
Xander opened his mouth, then he slowly sank to his knees crying. "I can't."
"You can," Draco announced. "Cordy will handle it for you. We'll go back once we're both patched up." Xander looked at him. "They'll have enough to worry about without your injuries as well," he said quietly.
Aunt Cordy apparated in and gasped. "Alex." She ran over, pulling him up to check him over. "Shit, you're injured. Draco?" He held out his hands, wobbling some. "Fine, you take him to be treated first, then you come home. You can return to classes in another four days." Draco nodded. "Alex, I'm sorry," she said quietly. He looked at her. "It was how she would have wanted it but I'm sorry."
He nodded. "You're right. Her and Faith both." He looked at the covered bodies. Then he looked at Draco, wobbling slightly. "I think I could use a good pepper up potion," he admitted.
"You need stitches," Draco ranted as he got Xander sitting again. "Help the others, Cordy."
"Of course." She went to help Molly. "I checked your house, it's still standing," she said quietly. "Most of it. The top floor's fallen off." Molly sighed and nodded. "It'll be easily fixed. The ghoul was howling in outrage but it should be fine."
"Thank you, Ancordina."
"You're welcome, Molly. Let's get them back to the school." She looked around. "No Dumbledore?"
"He was guarding the school," Arthur noted, coming over. He was limping as well and one arm was frozen. "I'll head back first to have him lower the barrier." His wife nodded and he headed back, going up the driveway. He was the least injured of the Order. He found the Minister for Magic standing in the doorway beside Dumbledore and McGonagall. "It's done," he announced. "We need to remove the injured and dead." Dumbledore swallowed and he lowered the apparation barrier. Molly and Aunt Cordy started the bodies coming, letting them handle getting them up there. Even that nice muggle was helping.
The Minister for Magic stopped Ray. "How did you get here?"
"I was with Sandburg. The trouble magnet brought me," he said dryly. "Do I need to hand in my gun for ballistics analysis?"
"No, that's not necessary. We thank you for your help. May I send you back?"
"Send him back to where Greg works," Snape said as he led Potter up the driveway. Dumbledore looked at him. "Minor hexes, mostly exhaustion," he explained. "He's not a priority."
"I'll take him with me up to Gryffindor," the Minister offered. "That way he can be unhexed by his friends." Harry moaned and shook his head. "You deserve a good lie- down," he offered.
"I'm a figurehead, I need to be here," Harry said quietly, leaning against the building. "I'm wiped, but I have to put on a good show. Then I'll nap for a few days." He nodded at Ron as he walked past him. "Check him for a head injury. Something named a Toth hit him with a big hammer and made two of him temporarily." The headmaster helped carry more people inside while Harry counted them. Half of their side was injured. There were at least ten dead that he had seen. Probably more coming. He watched the Minister keep his own count. "Madam Pomfrey could probably use some help," he pointed out.
"I brought the emergency team from St. Mungos up," he admitted. "She's got four more mediwitches and at least eight other healers." He looked at the Dumass contingent. "Are you all right, Alex?"
"No," he admitted.
"He'll live but we'll be taking a few days off for a family funeral," Draco said calmly. "Right now, I'm going to get him cleaned up and take care of him myself."
"That's fine, boys. Was it as bad as you expected?" Xander shrugged. "You didn't know?"
"I didn't dare guess. Saying it's going to be bad would have made it worse. I'm guess we're lucky we didn't get Mom's boss in there to help us but still." He looked around, then back at Harry. "Dawn?"
"Probably still in the greenhouse," he admitted. "Get cleaned up and checked out. Draco, do you need into the Prefect's bathroom?"
"I know the password," Draco reminded him, heading that way. Cleaning first, then wound care. He could probably do most of it himself. His head was swimming but he needed to do this. His soul was screaming at him to get revenge for each cut and ache his mate had. Making sure he was fine would calm him down again. He saw Greg and winced. He was unconscious. He didn't look good. He touched his arm, calling Emilia to tell her Greg was back at the school and that he needed her. She apparated in and ran up to him, hugging him hard. "We won," he told her.
She looked at him. "Barely," she reminded him.
Xander rolled his head that way. "It could have been much worse and we still would have won. We were defending and defense is always better than offense." She nodded, letting them go so she could take care of her own mate. She would keep her own council on the subject.
Molly came back with the last person from the battle on their side, Willow. "What did you want to do with her? Severus knocked her out because she was going dark."
"Put her in my office and have a house elf guard her," Dumbledore ordered. She nodded, floating the girl that way. Dumbledore went to help with the injured. He noticed some people were already missing and walked up to where Arthur was. "Ron?"
"Upstairs. His head's fine." He looked at him. "Percy's been moved to the main hospital. I didn't know he had come with the aurors." Dumbledore gave him a pat. "Once I make sure the others are fine, I'm going to sit with him."
"Go now, Arthur, I'll check them for you," Tipsy said as she limped in. "The twins are in Xander's bed at the moment with the babies. They're fine, minor injuries only. I'll send the others that way as well." Arthur gave her a hug and left. Tipsy leaned against the wall. "All Weasleys, we're in Hufflepuff, in Alex's room. As soon as you're done, go join the twins." Bill and Charlie both looked over and nodded. "Good. Poppy, can I help?"
"Get your ass back into bed," someone yelled. "You're a week post birth!"
"Yes, Severus," Tipsy called, heading back that way. She met Molly. "Bill and Charlie are standing, Ron's fine, the twins are in Alex's room with the babies. Percy's in St. Mungos and your husband went to his side." Molly started to cry. "Go find him, sweets, he needs you more. You can hug the others once you're sure the injured are fine." Molly nodded and headed off, going to the hospital. Tipsy continued on her trek, finding Malfoy's two goons standing at the bottom of the stairs. "They're in the prefect's bathroom," she said quietly. "I think he'll be happy to see you."
"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley," Goyle said, heading that way at a run. It must be bad, Draco hadn't called for them. He had to know they weren't there. He got there first and pounded on the painting until the door opened. "Draco," he said, hugging him. "You're all right."
"Get off," he said tolerantly, giving him a faint smile. "I'm more worried about my mate. He's got a few deeper cuts we're closing now." He let them come in and help him. Xander was napping and he wouldn't care anyway.
"Wow, he is well-built," Crabbe noted.
Draco gave him a look. Then he nodded and grinned. "And I'll be enjoying it later to make sure he's fine." Xander moaned and shifted so he went back to his scrubbing. "I don't know whose blood this is, but it's not his."
They nodded, getting in to help him scrub off the other blood. Real friends helped with the clean up as well as the fight.
Xander looked over as his brother Justinius walked into his study. "You're early," he noted.
"I wanted to see Holly before the funeral," he said quietly. He looked his brother over. "You look well. Why are you using Dad's cane?"
"Twenty-seven stitches on my thigh from a cutting hex," Xander said dryly, putting down his pen and closing his journal, sealing it so no one could read it. He stood up and grabbed the cane. "I ache. Dad understood that."
"I'm not criticizing, merely asking," Justinius defended. He watched Xander walk. "You look very comfortable with that thing."
"I've had to use one in the past," Xander admitted. He led the way upstairs, knocking on Dawn's door. "Is Holly with you?" Holly opened the door. "Your dad's here to see you."
"Hi, dad, come in. Meet Dawn, she's the newest little sister." She smiled at Xander. "Aren't you changing?" He nodded, pointing at his room. "Thanks." She blew a kiss and closed the door. "Whew. Draco's been in a foul mood and Xander's been picking up on it," she said quietly.
"His consort's not supporting him?"
"He is, but there's been some snarking. Mel came back early." He nodded wisely. "Draco locked her in the cellar last night, her mouth was sealed shut and her hands and feet were bound." She sat down again, going back to doing Dawn's hair for her. "Dad, this is Dawn. Dawn, this is my dad, he's Xander's older brother Justinius." She waved listlessly. "Ron's been mad at her for nearly fighting."
"Sometimes you have to fight," he noted, sitting down near her. "How are you liking your adoptive family?"
She looked at him. "I can hear your thoughts," she noted. "Xander is the only family I have outside of my sister the vampire." He backed off. "Thank you." She pinned up the next roller. "Are you sure it's appropriate? It's a funeral."
"Yes, but Ron will be there and he'll want you to be around him later when he sees you've been trying," Holly assured him. "It's that way among us, dear." She fixed the last curler and stood up. "There. Come on, Dad, let's go down to the kitchen. Aunt Cordy's been helping at the school since the battle so I've been in charge of the kitchens." She led the way down there, stopping to give Ginny a hug. "It's all right, precious. Percy will be fine."
She shook her head. "We still can't be sure," she admitted. "I'll go see him during the wake." She went out to her friends to feed them and to vent some more tears on them. They understood.
"We had a unicorn mare and her tainted colt come onto the property, Ginny's been helping with them," Holly told him. "None of the rest of us are pure enough to do that." She stopped her father in the hallway. "I know you're not my father. Who is? Is it family?" He shook his head. "Are you certain?"
"Very," he said quietly. "How did you know?"
"I'm just like mom, not you. The rest of us are just like you. Also, I won't have you upsetting Alex. He's taken this really hard. If you upset him, he'll leave for a while and someone will go insane in his absence. I can almost guarantee it." She let him go. "Thank you. It's come out that Sev is a bit closer related and I wanted to make sure."
"I have no problems with Severus, dear."
"Even though he's Alex's son?" Draco asked as he walked up behind them. He gave Holly a hug. "He's fussing upstairs with his lint brush."
"He's under a lot of stress," she pointed out gently. "Alex is changing."
"He's in the bath. I'm bringing him some cocoa." He continued past them, heading in to make his mate something for his nerves. He looked at Ginny's usual spot in the kitchen and found it empty. "Have to do something about that as well," he muttered as he worked. "Maybe Emilia can bring him back into his head."
"She's tried," Xander's older sister Katya noted. "She said he's closer." She came over to give him a hug. "Treat my brother well or you will face me in single combat, no dueling." He smiled and nodded. "Good. I think I'm going to take over Alex's place in the Gringott's lineup for a while. One of us should do the work." She went out to check on the chairs and things. Dumass funerals were silent things. No speeches, nothing of the sort. They all sat there and stared at the body to make sure it wasn't going to wake up again, looked at the person's picture, then watched as they were lowered into the family cemetery. This time, the painting was in shock as well. She had imbued it again the night before the battle. She had known it was going to be soon. She saw Severus come out and nodded him over. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," he said quietly. "Thank you for your concern."
"This family may be odd, but we're very tight," she reminded him. "Unless you're like Mel and Justinius," she added for good measure. "Then they stick together like glue to protect each other from the rest of us." He gave her a half-smile. "When are we expecting the Weasleys?"
"A little later. I had no idea Molly was a cousin."
"The lines converge a lot," she pointed out, straightening another row. "Help me?"
He pulled his wand and cast the charm to make the rows neat and even, like he did in his room each morning. "There." He put it back up his sleeve and went to find Ginny. He found her crying on the colt's back. "Your parents will be here soon," he said quietly. She looked at him, wiping her cheeks. "Emilia was trying to help him as well."
She nodded. "I know. I've already thanked her." She gave the wet spot a pat with her shirt, then gave both unicorns a hug before going to change. "Thank you, Professor." She found Charlie waiting for her in her room. "Hi," she said weakly.
"Percy's awake but not very aware. He thinks he's a fifth year," he said, giving her a faint smile. "He's back to his old self as well."
"I'm sure Mom will fix it," she said firmly. "Do you miss your friends when you have to leave them?" He nodded, giving her a hug. "I'll miss the unicorns when I go back tomorrow."
"I know, Ginny, but they're smart and I'm sure they'll be here for a bit longer. You can come back during the holidays." She bucked up at that, giving him a brighter smile. "Get changed, you smell like you cuddled up to them again."
"They're very understanding."
"They should be. Unicorns are wise creatures." He messed up her hair. "I'll be downstairs. Come find me when you're presentable." She nodded and he let himself out, locking the door behind himself. He looked in on the twins. They were asleep, each with a baby against his chest. "Aww." He came in to steal the wiggling babies, taking them down to grandma and grandpa. "They drove the twins to nap. Ginny's getting changed."
Molly took them, hugging them both. "Good morning, Joxer and Iolaus." Their mother had gotten the twins hooked on that show and the names had stuck, even though she hadn't liked it. It was nice that Joxer was the girl but still. "Did you drive your fathers to a nap?"
"They probably drive them to many naps," Arthur said as he stole Joxer to hold. He loved the little girl. She was exactly like Ginny in her youth and Ginny had always been his favorite. "Have you been changed recently?"
"I'm sure she's fine," Molly said patiently. She smiled as Ginny walked in. "That's a nice robe, dear."
"Luna lent it to me. She's outgrown it," Ginny said as she sat down. She wiggled her fingers at both twins. "Did you find anything out?"
"I did actually," Arthur admitted. "I talked with my Great-Aunt and we pulled out the original birth chart together. Your name was on there, in the folded-off side. It seems a few generations back had a cousin who was a thief and we kicked him out. We even made him change his name. You're from his line. The last of it in fact. Apparently his family had been attacked by Death Eaters and you were given to us by the one who was never confirmed dead." Ginny nodded, looking at her hands. "So that makes you a Weasley, just one removed twice from the boys."
She gave him a gentle smile. "I can accept that I guess. Charlie's influenced me enough that I want to work with unicorns."
"Good girl," Arthur said happily. "I'm sure you'll adore it."
"You're welcome, dear." He held up his free arm so she got up and came over to cuddle into his side. "You have always been my little girl and you will stay that way," he reminded her. He removed Joxer's lips from his tie so she'd quit gumming it. "None of that, Joxer. Ties don't taste good. You need the mother to eat."
"She's in the bathroom down here getting dressed," Ginny told him. "How did you steal them?"
"Charlie said they were napping." She looked around but Charlie must have slipped out. "That boy," she said, shaking her head.
"He went to look at the unicorns," Luna said as she walked in. "I saw him in the garden staring in their cave." She sat next to Ginny, smiling at Arthur. "Any good news on Percy?"
"He's awake but he's lost some memories," Arthur told her. "He thinks he's a fifth year."
"Let's hope not. I remember he was a bit of a prat as a Prefect," Luna told him. "Told me I was going wrong my first year because I took a wrong turn down a hall. Insinuated that I was dumb as well."
Molly nodded. "Percy was not always tolerant when he had power." She looked over as Xander came down the stairs in black velvet, giving him a tentative smile. "Come sit with us, Alex. You look done in."
"I haven't been sleeping well," he admitted as he joined them. "Hi, Ginny, Luna." He nodded at Arthur as well. "I see they're up."
"That means they'll sleep through the funeral," Luna pointed out gently. "Did you want Ethan to come?"
"He can come if he wants, but he has to appear human."
"I'll pass that on," she promised, going to do that.
Molly held out Iolaus. "Would you like to hold him?"
"I get hives from babies," Xander told her, giving her a faint smile. "Are you picking up her spot?"
"No, simply wanting to know if you needed a cuddle." She placed the baby back in her lap. Tipsy walked past the door. "We have the younger set," she called.
Tipsy backtracked and came in to look at them. "Wore your fathers out again?" she asked. They gurgled an cooed at her. "I'll let them sleep for a bit longer since you two are so happy there." She looked at Molly. "I've got the carriers in the kitchen so we can tie them down for the funeral."
"That's a good idea," Ginny agreed. "Luna thought they might sleep during it."
Tipsy kissed her on the top of the head. "I can only hope they'll sleep sometime soon." She looked at Alex. "I'm sorry if they're keeping you up."
"No, they're the highlight of my nights," he admitted. She sat down beside him and gave him a hug. "Thanks."
Draco walked in with a mug of cocoa. "I would have come up."
"I needed to greet the guests," he said as he took the mug. "Thank you, Draco."
Draco gave him a quick kiss. "I will be there with you, Xander. I'm not leaving. Nor am I dying. I won't let you get up and go talk to the twins or the family paintings tonight." He walked away, heading to check on everything. As the less-powerful member of their relationship it made him the hostess. The food for the wake was laid out in the dining room. No one had nibbled yet, they had stuck with the vegetable tray he had made up and put in the kitchen for that purpose. He stole a celery stick himself to nibble while he checked the house. He found two house elves cleaning the library. "Shelve the books," he ordered quietly. "Keep the door closed if possible." They nodded and went back to work. They were going to have to do something about the extra house elves. Even having one milking and taking care of the cows, they only needed four. The extra three had to go somewhere. He saw the three youngest together and walked over to take them into Xander's study. "We have a problem," he told them. "There are too many of you." They nodded, they had complained about not having any work to do. "We would be willing to support your move to another family. I figure you three are younger and formerly from my family so it should be you three." They nodded again. "Do you know of one who needs one? I'll have Alex contact them."
"Babies," one squeaked. It was male but it sounded like it was female.
Draco nodded. "An excellent idea. Would you accept being gifted?" It nodded quickly. He smiled at it and looked at the other two. "What about you two?"
"School?" one suggested. "Messy like Dobby." Draco looked stunned but eventually nodded. "Really?"
"I'll talk to him today, after the funeral," Draco promised. "Put a bow around your necks. Tell the others to use black ribbons. You use blue," he said, pointing at the one going to the Ramvette-Weasley household. "You use dark red," he said, pointing at the one going to try and hit on Dobby. "And you, do you have a preference?"
"My mistress needs me," she sniffled. "Shes is all alone without Fluffy."
"Then I'll send you back to Mother," he told her. She nodded. "Come to me later tonight, wear a black bow like the others for now." She nodded. "Dismissed." They ran off, back to their chores. He went to find Alex, finding him staring out the window of the dining room. "I've talked to the extra elves." Xander looked at him, raising an eyebrow. "One wants to live with twins and their children, one wants to marry Dobby, and one wants to go live with my mother again." Xander shrugged. "Is that all right with you?"
"That's fine with me," Xander agreed. "Thank you for handling it, Draco."
Draco hugged his back. "It's what spouses do, Xander. We handle things. I can do more than threaten people for you." That got a dry chuckle. "The Daily Prophet will not be here today. Under penalty of me sending Potter to work out his rage on them."
Xander turned around, shutting the door so they could have some privacy. "I don't want you to become my wife." Draco looked instantly insulted. "You're my *husband*, not my *wife*," he reminded him. "All that's wifely stuff."
"And I wanted to do it to ease the burden on you," Draco reminded him. "I have no problems. I will tell you if you're imposing on me." Xander slumped a little. "I didn't have to, Xander, I volunteered. In another three days, we're going to go back to school and Aunt Cordy will take care of all that." Someone knocked on the door and he flicked his wand at it to open it. "Yes?" he asked Katya.
"Bows. It dresses them up and lets them express their grief as well."
"Okay. We usually only do that at the holidays."
"It'll make them feel better," Draco said with a shrug. "It also lets me know the two who have figured out where they want to go."
"Can I have one when I go?" she asked, giving him a little grin.
"Katya, you're going to be traveling, house elves need a stable environment," Xander reminded her. "Besides, Gringotts will give you and Bill one if he asks."
"Okay." She went to talk to him about that.
Xander looked at Draco. "I don't make you feel like my wife?" Draco shook his head. "Not in the least?"
"Not in the least. I may play bottom for you but I'm not the bloody wife," Draco said with a touch of humor. "I'll let you know in my own subtle way if you're verging on it."
"Coming in dressed as a drag queen?" Dawn asked as she interrupted them. "Buffy's awake."
"If we could, we'd let her come outside too," Xander reminded her.
"I've figured that part out. There's a shielded visitors section. Can they stand out there?" Xander nodded. "Thanks. Spike wanted to come as well. Said he remembered Grandma Des fondly in his youth." She shrugged. "Whatever that means."
"He was the William who broke her heart?" Draco asked. Xander and Dawn both looked at him. "She told me a story about her time in school, how she had a raging crush on a really nice boy but he ignored her until she finally cornered him to try something on him. He turned her down gently but he did turn her down. She went to her husband in reaction to William dumping her."
"Wow," Xander said dryly. "Small world." He put an arm around Draco's shoulders. "Come on, let's check everything else."
"I've already done that," Dawn announced. "Bows?"
"Bows," Draco agreed. "My idea."
"Okay then. Is that, like, from the gaydar?" Draco growled and she grinned. "I had to ask. You're the only decorating gay man I know." She walked off, going to check on her future family. She saw Ron stuffed in a corner of the couch with both babies and walked in to sit with him, taking one for him. "Good morning, mini drool factory."
Ron snorted and kissed her on the cheek. "I'm not mad at you," he said quietly. She gave him a look and he grinned a bit. "You look really nice."
"Thank you. Holly helped me so I could lock us in a closet later."
"Hmm. Not while my parents are here. They'll get really upset and demand one of these wankers from us." He turned the boy around, showing his messy shirt. "I don't know what he did and I'm not sure I want to." They stared at the orange stain for a bit, both wondering what it was.
One of the twins came running down the stairs. "Babies?" he called.
"We've got them," Dawn yelled. He came in and stole them both. "Their carriers are in the kitchen once you've got them cleaned up again." She stood up and pulled Ron with her, leading him away. She nodded at Molly. "One of the dads is up. He's got both of them and is taking them back up the stairs." Molly sighed and went to help the poor babies survive another changing attempt by their fathers. Both twins were afraid of diapers and diaper pins. The things kept falling off the babies.
Draco sidled up to Tipsy, giving her a nudge and pulling her away from Emilia. "You know we have too many house elfs?" She nodded. "One of them wants to come work for you. It begged very nicely for us to allow him to come work for you." She opened her mouth. "We're gifting it as a baby present. He's wearing the blue bow," he said quietly. "Complain and I'll tie you down myself and won't give the twins the unlocking charm." He walked off smugly, sure he was being nice. Xander gave him a look and he shrugged. What did he know about giving baby presents?
Xander moved up behind Snape since he was talking to the Headmaster, giving him a nudge on the arm. "May I cut in?" Snape nodded, shifting over. "One of our extra house elfs seems to have a crush on one of the school ones," he said quietly. "We're not going to stand in the path of true love. Would that be all right with you?"
"I think that would be fine," Dumbledore assured him. "We can use one more. Which elf does it have the crush on?"
"Dobby," Draco said from behind Xander. He walked around him. "She'll be wearing the red bow and I told her we'd talk to you on her behalf." He heard a house elf wailing and crying on someone and frowned. "Stop that," he called. The house elf stopped. "Now is not the time for that." He walked over there, pointing at the study. "Sit in there and do nothing!" It walked in there and sat down, sulking. He cleared his throat. "Sorry about that, mother. Fluffy would like to go home with you."
"I noticed," she admitted. "Why?"
"Because we have seven including ours."
"Ah." She nodded. "I could use him. The one I have presently doing my hair is rather inadequate to the task."
He walked around her, taking down her hair and redoing it quickly for her from much practice helping Dawn do hers. "Had to do your own this morning?" She nodded as he put the clip back in place. "There, now you look respectable." He closed the study door, looking back at his mate. "It would be fine with us if you took Fluffy back."
"Thank you, son." She kissed him on the cheek. "You look happy and content. Very much the second head of the manor." He nodded, taking her arm to walk her over to his consort's side. "Alexander," she said, kissing him on the cheek.
"Narcissa." He hugged her. "Thank you for coming."
"I respected your grandmother. She kept me informed of what naughtiness my son was doing with you." She twitched Draco's collar flatter. "There, perfect now." She looked around, noticing Molly coming in with children. "War orphans?"
"The twin's twins," Draco said, giving them a fond smile. "They like to wake up while I'm trying to sleep in." She chuckled and patted his cheek. "I know, that is how children are. That is why I never really wanted any." He took Xander's hand. "He was worried about me becoming the lady of the manor, mother."
She snorted and shook her head. "Not likely. Draco likes his order too much. He'd never put up with the chaos of throwing a party, all the details would get to him."
"He did very well with this one," Xander said, giving his mate a proud look. "Draco is exactly the mate I needed and wanted."
"Good, because you get rid of him over my bruised and fighting body," Dawn said as she walked over. "Hi, Mrs. Malfoy. How is France?"
"Calm," she noted. "And you are?"
"Oh, I'm Dawn Summers-Dumass. I'm Xander's adopted little sister." She shook her hand. "I'm also Ron's girlfriend."
"Wonderful. Do you need pointers on how to use a leash?"
Dawn snickered and shook her head. "Not in the least. His mother house trained him for me."
"Hey!" Ron complained.
Xander looked around. "Ron, where's Harry?"
Snape sighed. "Unfortunately, Miss Granger was not watching him well enough and some of the females in the school have decided he has grieved enough," he explained. "When I left they had him locked in a closet and wandless again. Minerva was supposed to be getting him free."
"That's it, I've had it with the petty bitches," Dawn said, starting off.
Xander put a hand on her arm. "Let me," he said with a small twinkle in his eye. The first since the battle. He went into his study and grabbed something coiled on his desk. "Fluffy, you may leave if you behave," he ordered. "No more wailing and crying on Narcissa's hem." He nodded and left, sliding back into the crowd. Xander flooed to the school, dusting himself off as he walked up the halls. His cane tapped on the marble with each step, but it wasn't slowing him down any. One of the ghosts pointed out the knot of girls so he headed that way, stopping right behind them. He let the whip uncoil then snapped it in the middle of the pack of begging and pleading girls. "How dare you disrespect my family this way!" he thundered. "I would never let Harry date anyone who disrespected his family or his feelings in such a manner." They looked shamed and he glared at them for good measure. "One more incident of this nature and I'm withdrawing Harry from school for good. Am I understood?" They nodded and one handed him Harry's wand. "Thank you. You can come out, Harry."
Harry slowly opened the door and looked around. "I was getting ready," he explained, heading up to finish changing. He saw the looks in the common room. "I agree. It's very disrespectful of my family. We do have a funeral today and Des was always very nice to me. Like the mother I needed," he said coldly as he headed up to his dorm. He changed quickly and came back down, finding Xander waiting on him. "Sorry."
"That's all right. It happened to me once or twice too," Xander offered as he handed Harry his wand back and they walked off.
"Wasn't the whip a bit much?" Hermione asked as she caught up to them, putting an arm on Harry's arm since she was supposed to escort him.
"It broke up the pack of wild bitches faster than shouting would have," Xander said dryly. He sent them back first, then flooed back himself, letting Molly do the cleaning charms on them. "Thanks, Mrs. Weasley." He put the whip down on a table and followed Harry back out to the garden.
"I always thought curse breaking must be something like Indiana Jones," Hermione told Harry as she walked him outside. "Xander proved it to me yet again." Harry patted her on the hand and found them seats in front. Hermione had to sit a row behind him but it wasn't like they were *together*.
It was someone's unfortunate decision to try to interrupt the ceremony. He quickly found himself hexed by Draco since Xander had left his wand upstairs. He also found himself hexed by Tara, who all but called the wrath of the Goddess down on his head. The reporter quickly ran off before he could be hurt more.
The rest of the family decided they could hunt him down later and hurt him. It was only fair after all. He was a reporter, they were fair game.