Iggy landed in Dumbledore's office, a big smile on his face. "Draco's in the hospital but he's fine." The Headmaster looked up at him, one eyebrow sliding up. "The freezing spell turned into a temporal spell and it finally snapped. He's a little ahead of the curve at the moment. Due around Christmas. A little girl."
"Wonderful news," Dumbledore said happily. He stopped. "I don't think we've ever had a female champion."
"I bet she'll make Simone look wimpy," Iggy said, starting to chuckle. "Is Ron downstairs?"
"They're in the Great Hall talking with the person who graded the tests. You may interrupt them if you want."
"Thank you, Headmaster. We're leaving Thursday for that trek you wanted us to do earlier this summer. We know where two of them are, but not Hufflepuff at the moment. I think we might have to ask the other spirits if they've seen her. Fortunately, the other two are fairly close by. Kent and a few miles up the road."
"Even better. I had hoped that they would get that done this summer. Why can't you find Hufflepuff?"
"She's off the map. Somewhere south and east of here. So I figured I'd ask one of the spirits if they knew where she had been heading. With any luck, we'll be done the day before." A sword was handed to him. "What's this for?"
"For Gryffindor, to see if he'll put it back into the hat." Dumbledore stood up. "Come, let's spread the good news. Did you want to tell Severus and Tara first?"
"Ooops, yup." Iggy put down the sword and disappeared, going to Istanbul. He landed behind Tara, making sure they were alone in the hotel room. "Draco's in the hospital, but it's good news," he said when she rolled over to look at him. "What happened to your face?"
"Allergic reaction," she mumbled through vastly swollen lips. "He's in bathroom."
"I'll tell him in a minute." Iggy grinned. "The freezing spell that had been on him turned into a temporal spell and snapped off today. She's due at Christmas."
Tara chuckled. "I'm sure he'll be happy. She?" Iggy nodded, beaming. "A little Buffy?"
"I couldn't find anything that suggested she was going to be a Buffy the next generation. Not a hint of the feeling that Gwen and Minnie share." Severus came out of the bathroom. "The temporal spell snapped off." The older man grimaced. "It's a girl, she's due around Christmas."
"How could you be so irresponsible!" Snape yelled. "To do that to that poor girl!"
"Not me, Draco," Iggy said, glaring at him. "We're infertile for the next ten years, thank you."
Snape grimaced, but it was lighter. "What temporal spell?"
"The freezing spell that had been on him snapped a few days ago, sending him into catch-up mode." Iggy slid off the bed and stood facing him. "We didn't realize it was a temporal spell until today, when he collapsed in cramps. Shit, I don't think anyone thought about paying for their lunch." He sent a thought at Percy, who grumbled something but got out of bed. "Anyway, he started to cramp really badly just a few minutes ago so we took him back to the hospital. It's a girl. She's due around Christmas." Snape slowly smiled. "The temporal spell finally snapped completely off this morning. We're leaving Thursday to find the other founders so an owl probably wouldn't make it back to us. He'll be home tonight if you wanted to pop up." He waved and left.
"Impertinent child," Snape sighed. He walked over and touched Tara's lips, making her hiss. "Can you still breathe?" She nodded. "The antidote will be ready in about ten minutes. Did you want to travel tonight?"
"Tired," she told him.
"All right. We'll talk to him when we get back." He gave her a faint smile and went back to the anti-histamine. Tara curled back up into the comfortable breathing position.
Iggy flashed back into the Headmaster's office, taking the held-out hat and sword. "Sorry, Severus is cranky today." Dumbledore chuckled. "Tara's having an allergic reaction. He thought I had done it to Raena."
"Yes, we do still have to talk about your behavior with her," Dumbledore said with a low rumble of laughter. "You do still remember your promise?"
"We've been good," Iggy defended, pushing the hat into his chest. "All summer, even when she was wearing this skimpy little bathing suit that made her skin glow and gave me tingles." He swallowed hard. "I'm trying so hard to be good, Uncle Albus, I really am."
"As long as you remember the rules set down for your behavior. I know the temptation is great, but you do have a little over a year left."
"Fifteen months and two days until the day after my sixteenth birthday," Iggy sighed. Dumbledore looked at him. "I figure we can wait that extra day so the family can get gushy and give advice and stuff. We'll have the *whole* next day to ourselves, come hell, high water, or Voldemort coming back for a third go round." Dumbledore laughed. "We'll try. We really will. I'm allowed short amounts of cuddles."
"You can't sleep together while you're here."
"We can dream walk," he said with a sappy grin. "It's nice." He waved and ran down the stairs, going to tell everyone else the good news. He walked into the Great Hall, still grinning and Ron gave him a questioning look. "Family news. It's a girl."
Ron stood up. "Draco's?" Iggy nodded. "How can you tell, it's too early!"
"The freezing spell went temporal. She's due at Christmas," he said with a smirk. "He had some really bad cramps so he's at the hospital, but I checked her out myself. She tried to reach for my mind even."
"A female champion?" Poppy said, smiling at him. "Are you going on that trek?"
"Yup. We can hit two of them by the end of this weekend. Hufflepuff will be harder." He shrugged. "We'll need to bring Melvin with us as a rep of her house," he said thoughtfully. Then he shook himself. "Anyway. He's going to be home tonight, in bed, and we're leaving early Thursday if you wanted to see him."
The older woman looked over at him. "I know you."
"Ignatius Harris-Weasley," he said, shaking her hand. "Potions Prodigy program."
"Ah." She nodded. "That's where I've seen you, in the school bulletin and around the library?" He nodded. "Why do you have the Sorting Hat?"
"It needs updated," Black told her. "Slytherin demanded and of course Malfoy offered."
"He did know what he was doing on his test. He answered the other one's quite strongly and then gave the counter argument against the last question. He gave all of the counter arguments actually." She smiled. "The other, I'm not so fond of." She looked at Iggy. "Anything else?"
"I was wondering if I can deliver anything for the board?" Iggy suggested with an impertinent grin. "Severus already knows," he told Ron. "I checked in with him first. Come over tonight and you're probably running the shop this weekend." He winked and Lupin tossed him a rock. "What's this?"
"A good luck charm. I've had it now for years," Lupin told him. "Dumbledore gave it to me when I went to find Gryffindor's body. I thought you could use it."
"Thanks, prof." He grinned. "I'll try to do better in your class this year. Even though it and I don't get along." He waved and disappeared, taking everything with him. He landed back at the mansion and put everything on his bed, next to his reading wife. "Watch those. I'll be right back." He jogged down the hall and outside, leaning down off the balcony to see if the girls were tanning. "Get everyone, there's an announcement," he called.
"Daddy sent Uncle Xander to tell us that he'd do it himself," Ravena yelled back. "Did you tell Uncle Ron?"
"Yup. I've got the hat in my room."
Iggy smiled and went back inside, going to talk to the hat. It had told him to come talk to it after all.
Draco walked into the house with a little help and was promptly shoved onto a couch by Ron, who had been pacing. "I'm fine."
"I heard. You still need to sit." He looked over the larger body, smiling at the movement he could barely see on the firm, round stomach. "You're glowing."
"I'm also hungry." Draco stood up with a grunt. "Come on, you can help me eat." He watched Ron bounce. "Did Iggy tell everyone?"
"Not the kids, and they're giving me funny looks."
"That's because you're bouncing," Draco pointed out, heading back to the dining room. He knew his house elves had seen him come in and were even now putting dinner out for him. He was right, there was a roast and three vegetable dishes sitting on the table, still steaming from the newly carved pieces. He sat down at the head of the table. "Eat, Ron."
"Can I touch instead? I can eat later."
"Where are the triplets?"
"With mum. She stole them earlier." He looked pitiful so Draco shifted, letting him touch the firmness of his stomach. "You're a big girl," he said to it. He felt something hit his hand and grinned. "Yes, you're a good girl as well. You're wonderful and nice."
"She'll be raised as one of mine," Draco reminded him. "Just like Simone," he said at the hurt look.
"I can visit?"
"Whenever you want. Unless you piss me off like your sister did."
"She went to complain to the aurors," Ron told him. "They came for Xander. So he turned her back and told them *exactly* why he had done it. Pointed out that it wasn't a permanent spell and all that. He's not in trouble at the moment."
"I doubt they could do anything to him. Only making someone older is against the law." He put his feet up and pulled over the serving of roast, and some vegetables. "Where are my children?"
"Arguing with Percy no doubt. He took them to the movies." He grinned. "He said you probably didn't want to be jumped right out of the hospital."
"Thank him for me if I'm not up." He dug in. "Eat. I hate eating alone." Ron pulled over some food and dug in. "He's not in trouble?"
"Like you said, only making someone older is a crime. They're talking about changing it around to say any aging, but that would mean the Minister of Magic would have to understand the process."
"He's stubborn and dumb enough to think it's abhorrent and ban it all together," Draco noted.
"We've had aging potions in the books for centuries," Ron reminded him. "He can't very well ban those. It's the same thing."
"Yes, but this can be seen as being done against one's will, so therefore can be banned. You can't give someone an aging potion against their will."
"You can, and they will work," Xander said as he walked in. He sat down with a groan of pleasure. "I thought the muggle-born first years were stuck in that world. He tried to yell at me, telling me I had unnatural gifts. I pointed out that it was the same as an aging potion and he got pissed, said those should be forbidden as well. Messing about with the body is wrong, according to him."
"How'd you get free?" Ron asked.
"I asked him about animagus. It shut him up fairly quickly." He grinned. "Though I did tell him that she had asked me at another time for the spell and I hadn't done it at that moment so it wasn't a crime, even if he banned them all. You can't ban free will. He got purple faced and told me to go away." He shrugged. "Then he started yelling to see Arthur and I warned him not to drag the family into it. He actually pulled his pistol on me," he said with a chuckle. "I clogged the thing up with the gum I was chewing. I pointed out he shouldn't pull it unless he was willing to use it. It was the fundamental rule of handguns, but it was very pretty. To try ice to remove it since I didn't shove it in." He got this mean smirk. "He stuttered when he asked me how I knew, so I told him, in great detail exactly what I knew about weapons. That took most of the discussion time. Your dad came in during it and patted me on the head as I told him about the workings of his revolver, said it was very interesting but it was very dangerous and not to bring one around the children."
"I lock mine up every night," Ron agreed.
Xander nodded. "That is the safest. Are you bringing yours? If you are, I might have to try and get one of my own."
"With the current gun laws, you won't be able to get a permit," Draco told him. "I tried and I couldn't."
"Shoot. Guess I'm stuck with the mini-crossbow then." He shrugged. "My cane?"
"Will be coming with us," Draco agreed. "Strapped to your back." He smiled at Ron. "Did you want to bring along any other weapons?"
"If so, can we go through my stash? I haven't seen them recently and I need to check their condition. I'm thinking battle axe. My favorite is somewhere in the metal boxes."
"Where did you put them?" Ron asked.
"In the basement. I can get them out easily." Iggy walked in with a panicking Spike. "What happened?"
"He attacked Uncle Fred and shook him hard." He gave the vampire a little shove. "I think it's time."
"Okay." Xander and Ron both made sandwiches and stood up, Xander teleporting and Iggy taking Ron.
"Oh, wait," Draco called after them. He looked at Spike. "Sit, before you pull all your hair out." Spike glared at him. "It's just a hatching, Spike. Nothing that needs attendance."
"She bloody well flipped the fuck out," Spike told him, running his fingers through his hair again. "Went off on me she did."
"Of course she did. You're a human and you'll mar their scent with yours. The chicks will hunt her by scent." He stood up. "Eat if you want." He made himself a sandwich. "Or go to the pub. I'm going to watch. I haven't seen eggs cracking in a few years." He strolled out.
"How do I get back?" Spike called, walking after him. "And when did you get fat?"
"I'm pregnant," Draco said coolly. "Not fat."
"Of course not," Spike snickered. "Not fat at all."
Draco pulled his wand and fried Spike, making him look like he had been hit by lightening. "Stop now, before I have to get as evil as Willow did during hers." He pointed at the fireplace. "Have you flooed?" He nodded. "Then we'll go that way. " He prepared the fire and dragged the vampire with him.
"No!" Fred said as soon as he saw Spike. "Get him out of here."
"Fine. Sit in the pub and we'll tell you when everything's done with." Spike grumbled something but he did leave. "Did he hurt you that bad?"
"No, he scared me. Seeing that vampire going off in a blind panic was startling." Fred pointed at the door. "The other two nibblers are down there." He walked over. "May I?"
"If you'd like. You did that the last time as well," Draco sighed. The other downside of pregnancy, people wanted to touch him. Fred gave him a pitiful look. "You're family, go ahead. Anyone else will get slugged."
"Thanks." Fred knelt down and put his ear against the ball of stomach and smiled when he felt the kick. "Yeah, you're going to be very healthy," he said, standing back up. He looked over and saw his girlfriend's head in the fireplace. So he turned Draco a bit. "I was listening to see if I could hear gurgles of discontent."
She shook her head. "I'm sure the baby's perfectly content, George."
"I'm Fred, Liz." He let Draco go. "Can you come talk?"
"I thought we stopped seeing each other." His face fell. "You mean you didn't call me for weeks for some other reason?"
"They often get lost in the lab," Draco told her before leaving them alone. He walked down the stairs, making sure the other men could see his hand on the railing when they looked. Overprotective gits that they were, they'd fuss worse. He nodded at the phoenix. "Want me to move them?" She squeaked and moved out of his way so he could see her new young. "Very nice. What about those two?" She told him off, shrieking and squealing in outrage. "Sorry. Just asking." He sat down with a grunt, having fallen the last few inches. "Need anything yet?"
Xander handed him the plate of cut-up raw beef strips. "Your turn."
Draco finished his sandwich and handed over one of the strips, watching as the bird broke it down for her young. "Thank Merlin we don't have to do that," he noted, handing over some more. "Why don't we just hand her the plate?"
"We tried that with Glinda and she didn't take them off the plate. Simone trained her not to nibble off the plates."
"Ah." Draco handed over more. "What about those two?" Baby hissed at him. "I could not feed you," he noted. She settled down. "Are they bad?"
"Yeah," Xander agreed. "Murphy and Fawkes had a few of those a few nests back. We needed to remove them back after she laid them though. She'll try to nest and hatch them until we take them." He stood up. "Spike?"
"Wonderful. Just what we need, a drunk, panicking vampire." He looked down at her. "I'm going to call Murphy and Fawkes." He walked up the stairs slowly, and dodged around Fred as quickly as he could to get outside. "Murphy!" he yelled. A few people stared at him. "My phoenix. He's a grandfather." They nodded and moved on. "We're still open if you needed anything from us."
Fawkes flew down, landing on his head to look down at him. She cheeped questioningly.
"Baby just hatched eggs and she's got a few bad ones," he said, reaching up to scratch her gently. "We didn't know, otherwise we would have removed them. Want to get your mate and come talk to her? There's thirteen good chicks already out." She sang at him and looked up, letting out an ungodly harassing noise toward the school. A few of the people jumped and looked at them. "She's calling her mate from their nest. They're grandparents," he explained. Murphy came flying down and Xander opened the door, letting him inside. The portal that was the door stretched to accommodate the both of them as he walked in. "Thirteen chicks and two bad ones," he said. "One hidden egg that hasn't hatched yet." He followed Murphy down the stairs, smiling as Fawkes sang happily to warn her daughter that she was coming. He sat down carefully, then lifted her down and put her on his good knee. "There, much easier for me," he told her, giving her gentle pats down her back. "Did the hidden one hatch yet?"
"There's been some rocking," Ron told him, handing over the plate of meat strips. "Your turn."
Xander shrugged and flung one at the mother, watching as she caught it. "Someone should probably go tell Spike that she hatched quickly."
"She's probably been at it all day," Draco pointed out. "They usually take a while."
Fred came down the stairs. "Liz said I'm an asshole," he announced, taking the plate and sitting closer, handing over two strips at once. "She doesn't get creative moments where the world falls away."
"I'm sorry," Xander told him. "Maybe you'll find another one soon."
"Maybe," Fred agreed. He noticed the two eggs Murphy was tapping at. "What're those?"
"Bad ones," Xander told him. "Fawkes had a few a few nests back, when we moved it." She glared at him. "Yes, it was probably my fault," he soothed. "The nasty humans did something to your nest and it ruined a few of your perfect chicks." She settled in, mollified by the admission of guilt. Fred grinned at him. "Did you used to date the two pretty women at the store?"
"I dated Alicia, George dated Katie. Or was it the other way around?" he said, scrunching up his face to think. Baby nipped him so he handed over more meat, smiling at her. "The tests we take our senior year drove us apart. The amount of studying was too much and we never had any time to spend together." He handed over more but she shook her head. "Okay. It's here whenever you're ready." He put the plate down in front of her. "Murphy, do you want help?"
Murphy looked at him, envisioning a basket.
"Okay." He got up and got one, bringing it back. The new grandfather rolled the two bad ones out and started making a move toward the hidden one. The mother batted and shrieked at him. "I think she's expecting that one to hatch," he noted, setting the two bad ones out of her sight, behind Draco's back.
"Take those upstairs and bury them," Xander told Ron. He got up and did so, much to the mother's dismay. "Sweetheart, those two wouldn't ever hatch," Xander told her. He gave her a head scratch. "The eggs were still soft and the babies were wrong. They weren't going to hatch." The hidden egg cracked and a dark shape rolled out of it. "A black phoenix?" She nipped his fingers and he moved them, handing her some of the meat so she could feed that one as well. "What does a black phoenix mean?"
"Spike influenced it?" Draco suggested dryly.
Xander snorted. "Possibly. Albus?" he called.
"That only works in the school," Draco told him.
"He's got the same skills as Melvin," Xander told him. Someone came down the stairs, but it was Iggy with Ron. "Can you call Albus? We have a black phoenix."
"I did, he's napping," Iggy told him. "Grunted something about bad luck." He plopped himself down and gently looked at the chicks, hissing back when the mommy hissed at him. "I'm making sure they're healthy, Baby, calm down." He looked at the last one and then at her. "He's very strong."
"A male?" Albus asked as he walked down the stairs. "A black male?"
"It looks like it, unless he changes colors," Xander told him, getting out of his way.
Dumbledore looked at Draco. "You look very radiant. Are you comfortable?"
"For the moment. Getting up might be a chore, but I'll manage as I did the last time."
"Good point." He smiled and turned his attention back to the chicks. "Very well done, Baby." He patted her gently, getting nips to his fingers. "Thank you. Were you going to keep the black one?" She hissed and moved so he couldn't touch him. "Just wondering, dear one. Many mothers wouldn't with so many other chicks." She settled down. "Were there bad ones?"
"I buried them," Ron told him. "Right next to the dead hamster."
"I miss Squeaky," Iggy sighed.
"Son, he only lasted two days," Xander reminded him. "Not long enough to bond to him." Iggy shrugged. "You can make a marker for those two, how about that." Iggy nodded. "Anything new going on up at the school?"
"The mold potion is all bottled," Iggy told him. "We're loading it onto the train tomorrow with Uncle Fred's help." He shifted and grabbed some meat, handing it to her. "You could eat off the plate this time. It's not like you're stealing food from the humans." She squeaked and slurped up the next one, having to tip her head up to get the rest of it into her mouth. Her mother thoughtfully lifted the next piece and let it dangle for her, earning a cheep of gratitude. "The hat's on my bed, so is the sword that needs to get put back into it." Iggy rubbed his forehead. "Raena's on a rip at Simone. Be right back." He disappeared, not even getting up. He came back a moment later. "Simone's having a moment with her mother. She just got back and Ginny started in on her about smelling like a dragon. Ginny followed her back to the house, Uncle Draco."
Draco groaned, standing up as easily as he could. "I'd better say hello and tell her about the nest. I could use some more dinner anyway." He headed up the stairs. "Tomorrow to plan everything?"
"I'll be back tonight," Xander told him. Fred looked at him. "He still hasn't made a real apology. Where is he now?"
"In the lab," Fred admitted.
Draco snorted. "That can be fixed. Ignatius, since we have to go back tomorrow and you have your letters, did you plan on doing your school shopping then?"
"Pretty muchly. Mellie's going with her father at the same time." He stood up and stretched. "I'd better head back as well. A very nice set of chicks, Baby. We're all very proud of you." She cooed at him and gave him a quick finger nip. He left, heading up to use the floo.
"I'm very proud of you as well," Xander told her, reaching over to scratch her on the head. She allowed it, then hissed at him. "Okay, I'm sorry. We had to take those two though. You can be mad at me if you want." He stood up with the aide of his cane. "I'll tell your human if you want." She chirped and turned to fluff up the chicks. "Night, Fred, Albus. We're leaving Thursday."
"Happy hunting," Albus said with a smile. "Do you need anything?"
"Travel rations so Draco's elves don't get confused." He shrugged. "Do you know how to shift the view on the map?"
"It gets more in-depth the closer you get."
"Oh. Okay, that makes sense." Xander nodded. "Have fun you two. I'll see you after lunch." He headed up the stairs to go down to the pub. He found Spike telling stories in his usual corner. "Fourteen chicks," he announced. Spike stopped and looked at him. "Thirteen normal ones and a black one."
Spike grinned. "Wonderful news. Is she waiting on me?" Xander nodded. "Can I go back?"
"Yeah, just don't threaten Fred anymore or I'll have to stake you." He grinned. "Not that I haven't told you that before, Spike. Don't forget to rub it in Ethan's face." He waved at Madam Rosemerta and paid her for the use of her floo, then left.
"Next round's on him," Spike called. Madam Rosemerta laughed. "No?"
"No, his tab's not that big." She smiled at him. "But I'll give you one since it was your bird." She poured him another butterbeer and a shot, handing them to him. "Congrats, mate. How many?"
"Thirteen normal ones and a black one." Her face fell. "What?"
"Black ones are supposed to be bad luck."
Spike snorted. "I'm a vampire, ducks, what do I need luck for?" He winked at her and downed the shot. "Thanks for that."
"You're welcome, Spike. Go see your chicks and come back."
"Yeah, probably should before she gets upset and yells at me some more." He stood up. "Be right back, hold the thought of the gore for me." He left, sipping his butterbeer the whole way. He'd bring back the mug. He always did. It was like there was a compulsion on the glass for him to bring it back.
Ginny was still screaming when Draco came out of the floo. She turned on him. "How could you let her go somewhere like that? She nearly got eaten! She even smells like she was snuggling up to a dragon!"
"She wasn't harmed, was she?" Draco said patiently. Ginny glared at him. "She did get close, she got to help one of the biggest females lay her nest. Your brother was right beside her the whole time I'm sure."
"Him and his boss," Simone said from the doorway. "Shit, you're huge! When did that happen?" She walked in and touched his stomach, looking up at him. "The baby feels odd."
"The freezing spell warped and turned into a temporal one. The baby's caught up and moved a little ahead. I'm due at Christmas."
"Wonderful. Right near Lucien's birthday, I'm sure he'll be thrilled." She suddenly smiled. "A girl?" He nodded. "Even better. Why did she try to touch me?"
"Because she's slightly magically active. She's shielded." Draco got free of his daughter. "Go bathe, you do stink a bit."
"I washed six times since I got slimed," she protested, but she obediently went up to go shower again, this time with some of her sister's smelly stuff. Ravena gladly gave it to her and didn't even make a remark about her unusual odor. "Mum's here and so is Dad. He's huge!"
"What? That was probably the news we're supposed to get tonight. Ana, father's back!" she called, heading for her sister's room. Denver and Melvin popped out of his and Ana came out of hers. "Both parents are downstairs." They hurried down to greet their father, each of them interrupting their mother to give the new member of the family a pet.
"Really, this could wait," Ginny told them.
"Bite me," Denver told her. "It's our future brother." His father shook his head. "Not our future brother?"
"Sister," he told him. "Sorry."
"Well, shit." Denver sat down and grimaced. "I wanted another brother to stick up for me. It's hard being surrounded by girls."
Lucien slapped him on the leg. "I'm not a girl!"
"Not you. You're surrounded by girls too." He picked him up for a hug. "It's okay, we'll turn this one into the littler version of Simone so you can beat her up. It'll be just like me and her only with you two." Lucien smiled at him, happy with that thought. He liked Simone.
"Not if I have any say in the child's life," Ginny said sarcastically. "This warping the girls...."
"She's to be the next defender of the school," Anastasia broke in. "She's being born for that purpose. She's not Aunt Buffy, right?"
"No, Anastasia, she's not Buffy returning to us. Ignatius already checked for your Uncle Ron and said that she bears none of the Buffy markers that Gwen and Minnie carry." She looked happier. "With any luck, she'll be quite a lot like all of you. With Simone's strength, Ravena's sense, and Anastasia's fashionable side. Denver, you can teach her how to fly." He preened. "Have we got that settled?" The kids all nodded. "Good. I'm now due at Christmas, so take that into account when you buy my presents. I'll be back in shape by then."
"No girdles?" Ravena teased, sliding onto his lap for a cuddle. "How many chicks?"
"Thirteen normal ones and one black one," he told her. She squealed in his ear. "Don't do that," he sighed, moving her away from his ringing ear. "Such noise you make," he teased. She gave him a hug. "We're doing school shopping tomorrow afternoon. I'm assuming everyone has their lists." They all nodded. "Good. Since we have to go back to the broom store, it should be done all at once. Expect to see all of your cousins."
"Can I call Ronnie?" Ravena asked. "They can come with us."
"If you wish. Use the one in my study so we don't have to hear you babble at each other."
"The bank's closed tomorrow," Ginny told him.
"The bank was closed today," Draco corrected. "It's a Goblin holiday."
"It's a three-day Goblin holiday starting today," she said smugly.
"We'll see about that," Draco told her, looking just as smug as she was. "Children, didn't you have something to do?"
"Simone's got my soap," Ravena told him.
"Good, she needed it," Anastasia agreed. "Is that what a dragon smells like? That bitter, sour smell?"
"That could have been the birthing fluid," Denver noted. "Normal dragons smell like Uncle Charlie, that musky undertones with the higher animal scents."
"Eww, birthing fluid?" Ginny asked, looking disgusted.
"A stuck egg broke on her," Denver told her, smirking at her. "She's found a *useful* calling." He stood up. "I'm going to go bug Raena. She's staying. Am I still going?" Draco shrugged. "Good. Simone wanted to go to Gryffindor, but not the rest. She's still got an assignment to do." Draco nodded. "Ana?"
"Not a chance. They'll have to camp and I don't fancy bugs and woods like that." She followed him out of the room. "Ravena?"
"I already saw my founder."
"Yes, but we might need a representative of each house going," Denver told her. "Melvin's going. Uncle Percy's going. Me, Uncle Ron, Uncle Xander, father. You?"
She nodded. "If I can. What about a Ravenclaw?"
"Percy knows someone," Draco told her. "An adult with two children in the house. They're by there anyway so we're stopping to pick them up." He pushed her off his lap. "Figure out what you'd like to bring so I can sort through the mess." She nodded and left, heading up to her room. "Did you want to talk, Ginny? I'm going to eat more of my dinner." He rang the bell, bringing an elf. "Did you put dinner up?" The elf nodded, looking scared. "Then warm me up some. I'll eat in the study." The elf nodded and ran away. "You can eat with me if you want." He forced himself to stand up and walk past her.
"You're serious about this?" she asked him, following him to the study.
"Her future is a prophecy, there's not much we can do about it," Draco told her, sitting down in his very comfortable and soothing desk chair. He sighed in relief and noticed her smirk. "I was on the basement floor helping Baby hatch." She rolled her eyes. "What do you object to? Simone going to the dragon preserve or my being pregnant."
"She's not a girl, Draco, she shouldn't be indulged that way anymore. She's a young woman who has to think about her future."
"She is, that's why she went to the preserve," he noted. "She wants to work with creatures."
"She shouldn't have to work."
He snorted. "It's not like I haven't had that talk with her. She wants to work with creatures so I'm going to allow it. Even if she were to become the lady of the manor, she'd still work with them in her spare time. She's never going to be a woman like my grandmother or mother and I'm frankly quite pleased with her strong will. It's pleasing to me that she's found something to be besides rich and spoiled."
"She'll still have to find a man sometime," Ginny said angrily. "She can't do that while playing with dragons. No man in his right mind would ever go out with her."
"On the contrary," Simone said as she walked in. "I'm not looking for the same things you are, mother. I could care less about muscles, dick size, or even looks. I care about brains and that he has similar interest. That means I'll end up with a man like Uncle Charlie, and I'm more likely to find him where I'll be. Father, may I please borrow some of your cologne to soak in? The one in the teak bottle? I still smell slightly."
He smiled. "I remember when you used to sneak and put that on. Go ahead. It's on my dresser."
"Thank you, father." She turned to look at her mother. "If you ever got your brains out of your twat, the rest of us might be happier with you, mother. Not everyone is concerned with getting laid. That's what toys and fingers are for." She left them alone, going to lock herself in her room.
Ginny opened her mouth to start yelling and Draco shrugged, smiling at her. "I agree. One should look for similar interests and brains in a mate. I'm sure she'll find someone soon enough, and if not, as she said there are temporary measures."
"How would she know?"
"Because she rented a post box in town and ordered some materials to educate herself on that subject," he told her. He accepted the tray as the elf came in. "No wine," he told it. "I'm not allowed to have wine until after the baby is born." The elf nodded and hurried away with the glass, coming back with some sparkling grape juice, laid in for just this time. "Did you want some?" he asked as he cut into the tender roast.
"You let my daughters have porn?"
"Why not? You dress them like a porn star." She glared at him. "I saw what you bought Anastasia. They're not going to school with her. She has no need of lingerie at school." He took a bite. "Nor does she need the birth control charm you gave her. The one we have lying around the tower works better. Iggy's menstruation potion has that in it as well." He took another bite. "He made it specifically for her actually." He smiled coldly. "You're turning our daughter into a tramp and I won't have it, Virginia. Never again. She will act decently until she is out of school and officially an adult. Then she may run around in lingerie for all I care, but until then she is to remain decently attired at all times. No matter what you think, young girls don't need that sort of clothes. No young man their own age would appreciate it enough to make it worth the bother."
"It makes her feel pretty."
"Then she's thinking wrong," he said harshly. "Our daughters are all beautiful and don't need the artifice. The lace and the wires don't add to their beauty, it makes the natural beauty look trashy. They don't need it and they won't have it."
"No, I will," Ana said as she came in and closed the door. "I'm not buying it for someone else, father, I'm buying it for me. I like the feel of the lace against my skin and the way the bras make me look."
"You still don't need it," he told her.
She nodded. "I know. I realize, and have for many years, that the best of you two makes stunning looking children. Even Lucien, who will turn out to be blonde I think." She smiled. "I have no intention of letting some boy get near any part of my undergarments this year. The same as I don't think Simone is going to wear her leather one around the tower to attract attention. Well, she might, but it'd be a punishment to all the boys who can't see past her swing." She sat down, daintily of course, always the perfect lady. "I am going to attire myself as I see fit. Even if I have to buy it all with my allowance behind your back. I'm not buying things like Denver bought to play with." Ginny looked shocked. "It stirs his imagination." She shrugged. "If he wants to masturbate on some panties, I could care less as long as they're not mine." Draco smiled at her. "I am still your daughter, father, and I will always be. I'm not doing this to be difficult, but I am the feminine one and these do appeal to me. The same as I wear the longer skirts instead of the oh-so-hooker student ones. I've given this some thought and I like the feeling of it against my skin and the support they give me. I'm willing to take a contraceptive charm if you wish, or even a vow of celibacy until you meet the man I find worthy enough to take my maidenhood. I will not allow either of you to dress me in however you feel is best suited. Father, you let me have some room in my attire, give me this much. I can act appropriately in it. It's not like I'm tanning in them." She looked at her mother. "I'm not allowing you to use me as the outlet of your frustration either. Just because my others sisters like to sweat doesn't mean you can take it out on them, or in my clothing. I didn't want that black teddy and you bought it for me anyway, even though I noted that it was tacky and not exactly useful in my life at this moment. I've packed it away until I finish growing into it and need it." She stood up. "Now that I've had my say, this is where *I'm* drawing the line. I'm not the one making up for your past mistakes, mother, and I'm not going to turn into some whore, father. Do deal with it and move on, before I have to get very upset and say mean things." She left them alone.
Draco smiled at the door. "I'd say she's found her niche then," he said, taking another bite.
"Are you going to let her make demands?"
He nodded, swallowing fast. "I am. It shows maturity. She knows her limits and where she wants to draw the boundaries. Now that her little bit of rebellion is over with, she's refound her footing and will regain herself. I find it very pleasing to see her turning into a decent young woman. If you don't." He shrugged and ate a piece of cauliflower. "That's your problem. Though I will be tossing out any black lingerie. I agree, she doesn't need it until she's found a permanent boyfriend. She doesn't wear the dark colors enough to make it necessary." He ate more vegetables, finding it soothing of a small craving. He must need vitamins. "The children will all grow at their own pace, no matter what we do. Denver will be the young man that he is. Simone will be herself. Anastasia will find herself in her own spot and probably happily married to carry on the family name of some fine family," he admitted. "Lucien and this new one will do the same."
"Denver isn't mine."
"You fought over him being yours," he reminded her. "Make up your mind, Virginia." He stuffed his mouth full and waved. "Leave." She left, huffing her disgust at the elf near her. He thought about turning her in for a possible possession, but then decided it would be too cruel to make even an auror deal with her. The contagion must not be fully gone. He ate some more, making the baby happy. It even wiggled about to show him so.
Draco tapped on Xander's door, opening it at the grunt. "Can I?" he asked, pointing at the bed. Xander shifted and lifted an arm, he was nearly asleep but he'd be more than happy to cuddle. "Thank you." He crawled in, using the spare blanket to cover himself, just in case George showed up. He used his wand to close the door. "I was having nightmares."
"Not a problem," Xander mumbled, pulling him closer. He got kicked and gently tapped on the side of the bulge. "Calm down in there, it's night time." He snuggled in against Draco's body, getting comfortable. "Feel better?"
"Much." He closed his eyes. "Ana stood up to me about her wardrobe. Did it in a reasonable manner even."
"I'm happy for her," Xander said, shifting some. He pulled Draco firmly against him, resting his head on his shoulder. "Nap. The baby needs sleep. She said so."
Draco snorted but he did close his eyes. It was well past time to go to sleep.
Ron opened Xander's door with a perfunctory knock and stopped to look at them. "Awww," he said, waking them. He shut the door and sat in the available chair. "Comfy?"
"He kept the nightmares away," Draco said through a yawn. Xander flopped onto his back and started to snore again. "Give him another hour. This is early for him."
"That's fine. Anastasia is wearing a small shirt downstairs."
"Wonderful for her." He tried to get off the bed, but the forcefield stopped him. "Blast!" He found his wand under the pillow he had used and canceled the spell, bringing it and the safe corridor down. Ron looked at him. "I set it for George. It got you too," he reminded him on his way to the bathroom. "Is the bank open today?"
"Nope. I talked to Katie and Alicia though, they said they heard that the goblins are giving a lunchtime rush to anyone who needs to go down. You might want to call and check." He looked over as Xander opened an eye and looked at him. "Morning, your son is bounding around the downstairs because he woke up to a kiss." Xander flipped him off and rolled back onto his side, patting the bed. "He's in the bathroom. It's time to get up."
"Fuck off, Ron."
"All right. I'll tell the children that you can't eat with them. I'm sure your second son will understand."
"Tell him to come crawl in with me," Xander mumbled before snoring again.
Draco opened the bathroom door, already shaking his head. "He doesn't have anything before eleven next year, let him rest." He opened the door and found William and Lucien standing there, holding hands. "Go bug him," he agreed, getting out of their way. They took a running leap at the bed and pounced the Xander, giggling when he swatted at them. William started to jump on the bed, going as high as he could before landing on his father.
"William, I'm napping," Xander told him, giving him a kiss and tucking him into his side. "Morning, Lucien."
"Get up!" Lucien demanded. "We go shopping!" Xander groaned. "We make Maeve pretty."
"Sure, let me get up," Xander told them, letting his son go so he could go into the bathroom. He stopped halfway there and looked at the bed, then at Draco. "Does this mean I'm free?"
"No, it means the forcefield caught the baby," he said with a small smirk. "You're still in captivity, only a broader one now." He walked away. "I'm for a shower and then I'll call the bank." He left them alone, going to do as he said. He arranged for a quiet moment just after they closed to appear so that they could hit multiple vaults at once, and called around to tell everyone to meet them at that time. He had Emily's school allotment so it would be fine. He finished getting dressed, sighing in defeat when he had to pull out the maternity clothes. Fortunately, they still fit him very well. He walked down to breakfast. "We are to be at the bank at precisely twelve-forty. Melvin, your father already knows. As does yours, Ron." Ronnie nodded. He noticed Emily looking at him. "I have your allotment from your uncle and mother. You'll be going with them." She nodded and went back to her lunch. "Someone tell Xander he has about thirty minutes before we have to leave." Simone got up and went to tell him. "Why the long faces?"
"Mother refused to go with us," Ravena told him, playing with her spoon in her dessert. "I asked Uncle Bill instead and he said he'd come."
"That's wonderful, I'm sure we could use the extra people."
Xander walked in with Simone. "We could probably use his help with some of the upcoming work anyway," he suggested, taking his seat. "Half an hour?"
"We have to be there at twelve-forty. We're all going down at once. You, me, Fred and George, and Percy." Xander nodded. "Harry's apparently pulled money from the bank for his children." Ronnie nodded, looking at his sister, who was still nearly bouncing in excitement. "I plan on hitting the bank, the broom store, the clothiers, the supplies, then we'll get Mellie her wand. Any other problems?"
"We'll need to pick up packs," Denver told him. "Simone has one but I don't."
"She took mine," Draco told him.
Xander cleared his throat. "We could stop at a muggle store and get some of that. The survivalist industry has spread over here. There's a nice looking spot on the other side of the mall we usually go to."
"I need to hit there, I had a bra strap break," Ravena put in.
"Fine, we'll hit the mall after we drop everything back here," Draco agreed. "Survivalist?"
"Those people who think that the world's going to end tomorrow so they're prepared. They have camping stuff, MRE's, packs, everything we'll need."
"MRE?" Simone asked.
"Meals Ready to Eat. Military food. Tastes like crap, but it's nutritious." Draco shook his head. "We should pick up some, just in case this runs long. We don't know where Hufflepuff is."
"We'll force Bill to come with us for that stop," Draco decided. "He's used to this sort of thing. Why he wasn't asked, I don't know."
"I don't think the Headmaster thought about it," Xander told him.
"Good point." He dug into his food, smiling at the softer textures. His elves were anticipating again and they had done the right thing. "We'll seek his help anyway, I'm sure he'd like it."
"He could come along," Denver suggested. Xander shook his head. "Why not?"
"Because I asked if he wanted to and he said no. He's fighting with Gringott's over some thing they want him to retrieve. If he leaves, it might send the wrong message." He finished his plate of food with a last scrape of his fork. "Hurry up, Draco."
Draco finished his first plate, looking at his watch. "We have twenty more minutes, Xander." He accepted more food and dug into it as well. He was hungry, the other man could go leap.
Draco waited for everyone else to show up. They still had five minutes to get inside so it was fine. Percy was the last one to join them, Melvin running ahead to tell them he was coming. Draco led the way into the bank, nodding at the goblin standing there. "Are you the one I talked to earlier?"
He nodded. "Right this way. We'll need to check keys." He accepted everyone's key, checking them against the book. Eventually he handed them back. "You have duplicates to one vault."
"Miscommunication," George said smoothly. "I assumed he didn't have it."
"I picked it up when I was back there," Xander told him, taking off his sunglasses and putting them on his head. He had a slight headache this morning. "Can we get this moving? I want to go back to sleep."
"What's wrong?" Bill asked him, looking him over. "You don't look well."
"I'm fine, just a headache," Xander told him. He sneezed and Iggy groaned. "What? It was a sneeze."
"Father, do you remember the last time you got sick?" Iggy asked, patting himself down. Simone handed him a paper and a muggle pen. "Thanks. Is Glinda here?"
"Yup. Where's Raena?"
"She didn't need anything so she opted for running a storytime this afternoon." He finished writing the note. "Give this to the cranky one and tell her to deliver it to Raena. With any luck, she'll have the antidote before we get home." George and Fred looked at him. "Wizard flu. This is how he gets it in case you didn't remember." Simone hurried away. "Sorry, but they're leaving tomorrow," he told the goblin. "Did our vault get established?" He handed over the paperwork Bill the gryphon had given him.
The goblin looked in the book, then at him. "It has, though it's empty. Did you need to visit it as well?"
"Not yet. We're hoping to have something to put into it next week." The goblin nodded. "It's got a secure key?" The goblin nodded again, smiling slightly. "Thank you."
"If I may ask?"
"I'm a potion's master in training and a hobby alchemist." The goblin's eyes got wide. "Now you know why." He smirked. "Healing potion's masters, myself and my wife."
"I understand. Yes, we did follow the orders and put on the highest level of security possible. It will take one of us to open it and a blood key." Iggy nodded. "You have it started?"
"I have it started and we noticed a growth this morning," Iggy said proudly.
"Explanations?" Bill the human suggested.
"You know what an alchemist does?" Bill nodded, giving him his impatient look. "The philosopher's stone also makes the single most effective healing potion ever. We started making our own stone this summer and we noticed a growth this morning. According to Flammel's book, we should know within a week if it works." He grinned. "Then we'll have to set the stone down there, most of the healing potion, any elixir of life we decide to make for emergencies."
"Plus the gold," Bill finished.
Iggy snorted. "Can we stop by the Stonehenge Colony's vault?" He dug out the key. "Just so I can show him why that's not an issue." The goblin looked at it, then checked his permission, nodding slightly. "Thank you." He followed the goblin to the carts. "Come on, folks, day's wasting and Daddy won't get any better standing around." Everyone followed, getting into separate carts, but that were linked together. They headed for the bottom, the longest ride most of them had ever taken. At the bottom, Iggy got out and handed over the key, motioning Bill over. The door was opened, showing two miniature dragons waiting on them. "Hello, Hurburt and Gentiless," he said, giving them pats. They were keyed to his scent now so they purred and wound around his feet while he motioned Bill closer. He pointed inside.
Bill stood there, stunned stupid. He had gathered treasures for twelve years and his total hadn't come to within a tenth of this amount. "Sweet Merlin," he breathed finally. He looked his nephew. "You have access to this?"
Iggy nodded. "Free and clear, whatever we need. Even if we didn't, potion's masters are the best paid profession in the world." He led him out, giving the dragons fierce head pets before letting the goblin close the door. "That's why we're not worried about anything." His eyes crossed and he smiled, explaining himself to his elders. They understood his uncle's concern and accepted him knowing since he had dealt with similar things in the past. As a matter of fact, Bill was invited up for a chat. "The elders want to talk to you," he said with a grin as soon as he came back. "You're not allowed to mention this vault." He took the key back and got back into the cart with the other kids, winking at his uncle.
"Why do they want to see me?" Bill asked.
"They wanted to hear what you used to do," Iggy told him. Bill got back into his cart and they were off to the next higher vaults, some of Draco's. Most of the way up, Iggy let out a squeal of delight. "It's crystalized!" he called. Everyone looked at him. "Our stone, it's crystalized. We'll get to do the preliminary test tonight!" Everyone gave him a congratulatory hug and he stole Simone's pen to write down what they'd need next as soon as they made it to the next platform.
Simone took her pen back and relaxed, their vault was next. "Why do you need elixir of life, Iggy? I've been meaning to ask."
"Because it can keep someone near death's door alive for a while," Iggy told her. "It'll be handy in extreme emergency situations. One dose will give us more than enough time to get someone to a healer or a hospital." He leaned against her. "Think about it, with the trouble our future generations will get into and the fighting we already do, it'd be damn handy to have some on hand," he whispered. She nodded, looking like she understood. "You still can't tell."
She snorted. "Who would I tell?" She looked at Ana, who nodded. "You either."
"I won't tell anyone. That's too important. It could get Iggy hunted down and abused."
"Technically, they'd hunt down Raena and abuse her. She's the one who figured out what Flammel wasn't saying. Her years of experience gave her the insight." He shrugged. "I hope Flammel wouldn't be pissed with us for doing this."
"He lived for six-hundred-fifty years or something like that," Denver pointed out. "I'm sure he's thought of that use before."
"Are you going to tell Professor Snape?" Ravena asked.
"If it works," Iggy told her. "I don't want to get his hopes up too high yet."
"Can we try the healing potion on my ears?" Denver asked. Iggy nodded, giving him a grin. "Thanks."
"You're welcome, cuz." His Uncle Draco looked back at them as they took off again. "What?" he called, smiling. "I learned it from your daughter."
Draco shook his head and faced forward.
They all trooped into Quality Quidditch Supplies and stopped to look at the mess. "Katie, Alicia?" Fred called, starting for the back. He found them knocked out in the back room. "George, get someone." He looked up when he felt someone walk toward him. "No!" He pulled his wand, but the masked person was faster. So was Xander from the doorway, with Ron and Draco with him. Fred only got a minor bit of pain from the crucio spell, but the man was writhing in pain before Draco got done with him. Iggy hurried back and checked them over, healing a small gash Katie had to her head. "Are they okay?" Fred demanded. He looked over as the aurors came in. Then he saw Draco and frowned. "Check your broom."
Draco frowned but went to do so. "It's not here," he called. "Every one but mine." He came back. "You think this has to do with the World Cup?" Fred nodded. "I didn't try out."
"No, but who're they going to get if Harry falls?" Xander asked. He grimaced and tapped his cane/wand on the floor. "I'll be right back. Iggy, did you mark his pitch?" Iggy nodded, working on bringing Alicia around. He disappeared, landing in a circle of guards at the pitch. "I'm Harry's cousin. There's been an accident to an old family friend," he said as soon as they pulled their wands. "Ask him, he knows me."
"What's going on?" a deeper voice called. "Let him go!" Oliver pushed through. "What's going on?"
"Someone broke into Quality Quiddith Supplies and hurt two of your and Harry's former team mates." He caught Oliver as he sat down.
One of the guards bounced a blue thumbtack in his hand. "Do you know anything about this?"
"It's my son's. We're gryphon-born and that's how he marks places to get to. No one but one of us should be able to feel it even."
"Harry was snatched," Oliver told him. "From right about here. They apparated out."
"Then it couldn't have been one of us." He helped Oliver stand. "They're fine, I know they are." Oliver nodded, slumping against him. One of the guards coughed, giving him a meaningful look, an explanation was warranted. "Gryphon-borns don't apparate, we teleport. It's a slightly different process. You can feel us coming in and we can adjust ourselves before we land, in case things are on walls or the like." The guard nodded. "If it had been a teleport, the shield that I put on Harry should have started to scream bloody murder in a very high-pitched voice that sounds a lot like McGonagall on the rag."
"It didn't. They flashed out, like normal wizards," Oliver admitted. "Katie and Alicia?"
"Are knocked out. They took Draco's broom." Oliver's face hardened. "Guys, this is getting a bit extreme. Can't you find the person who's doing this?"
"We'll have to hold tryouts," Oliver muttered, thinking it through.
Xander shook him. "Harry's fine. I'd know if he wasn't." Oliver looked at him. "I consider Harry a slightly odd child who hates me some days." Oliver relaxed again, nodding slowly. "I put a telltale on him, it'd be tugging me to find him if he was seriously hurt. I did the same one on Ron and on Draco after that incident at Nimbus back in their senior year."
"Who are you?" one of the guards asked. "You sound like the voice of reason and all, but I'd like to know."
"Xander Harris-Weasley," Xander said, smiling at his stunned look. "Also known as Harry's bodyguard, and Oliver's friend and shoulder wrapper, and Draco Malfoy's backrubber. Draco!" he yelled. Draco appeared on the other side of the circle. "Tell Ron, they've gotten Harry. Whoever did this has a thing against seekers."
"Then they're picking on the wrong group, aren't they?" Draco said stiffly. He looked at Oliver. "Wood, go help my children, take Xander with you." Xander opened his mouth. "Xander, there are rules to recruit in the junior leagues, from Hogwarts."
"Shit, Little Ron and Ravena," Xander said, taking Oliver back with him.
"Gee, it does feel different," the guard noted. He looked at Malfoy, then grinned. "Again?"
Draco nodded. "It's the next guardian of Hogwarts." He glanced around. "Where was he taken from? What spot?" A guard pointed at the spot Oliver had been standing in. "Thank you." He pulled his wand and got down, casting a locator spell. It pulled his wand to the left. "He's nearby, unconscious, and beaten, but not very severely." The guards followed him, and the auror who had been called trailed along behind them. They found Harry at a local muggle hospital and quickly sprung him with the auror's help. Obliviating the staff wasn't such a bad thing. Draco took Harry with him back to the hospital, grunting at the weight. "Get him," he told the nurse as he appeared. She took Harry from him and sat him down, looking him over. "Just him," he said, pushing her away. "He was the first alternate seeker for the World Cup team." She gasped and hurried away. Arthur and Molly stepped out of the floo. "You handle this, I'm going to check the store for my broom. I can't be without it at this time." He left, going back to where George was, he was most likely to be with the owners. "Harry's unconscious but it looks like a crack to the head." Iggy looked at him. "He's at St. Mungos." He looked over and saw Mellie and Little Ron clinging to each other. "He's fine. He moved when he heard my voice and your grandparents are there right now."
"I'll take them," Iggy offered, taking the two kids with him. Then he went to find Agatha, running into one of his least favorite people. "Aunt Willow, I need Agatha, her father was attacked and is in the hospital."
"They're outside," Willow said, frowning. "Is he all right?"
Iggy nodded. "Probably. This is something about the World Cup team. They've been going after the seekers. They even went after Draco and he didn't try out." He walked out through the doors she pointed at, standing on the flagstones. He saw Ryan. "Her dad's in the hospital."
"Fuck me," Ryan said, standing up. "Agatha!" She popped up from the gardening. "Now!" She trotted back to them after having seen her cousin. "News."
"Your dad got attacked because he's on the World Cup team." Agatha's breath hitched. "He's not badly hurt but he's unconscious. Uncle Draco said he responded to his voice. You're needed."
"Clean me up," she said, "my wand's upstairs."
Iggy swiped her clean and took her hand. "St. Mungos if you want to come, Ryan. I can't teleport you." He took her with him, landing behind Molly and Arthur, nearly into the wall. "Here you are, and that's his doctor I bet," he said, pointing at the man walking toward them. Agatha straightened up and glared at the doctor. "Hitting him won't make your dad any better," he reminded her. He gave her arm a squeeze and left her there, going back to the shop. "Agatha's there," he announced.
"Wonderful job, son," George said, nodding at the auror. "He wants to talk to you."
Iggy looked at him and flinched when he saw the thumbtack. "Unless it was one of us, who *knew* me and could find my exact wavelength, they couldn't have used it."
"Still, you did put this there?"
"So I could get Uncle Harry if one of his kids got injured," Iggy told him.
"It's hard to pinpoint those," Draco agreed. The auror looked at him. "I'm just as much one as they are." The auror took a step away from him. "You have to be able to find his power signature in the flood and then pinpoint which one it is."
"Who would be able to do that?"
"The immediate family, the head of the gryphon-borns at our colony. No one else," Iggy told him. "My wife's parents." The auror gave him a 'get real' look. "Ignatius Harris-Weasley," he said, introducing himself. The auror nodded, making note of that. "My wife's family, Raena Tallias from Amsterdam, now of Hogwarts, could probably pinpoint me directly. One of those is outside the gryphon library in Amsterdam."
"The guards there said he apparated," Xander told the auror. "We teleport and can't apparate. It's different. You might check with that auror."
"Yes, you should," Draco told him. The auror gave him a disgusted look. "Get him out of my face," he demanded.
Xander nodded. "All right." He shoved the auror out the door. "Don't sneer at him, asshole, I've killed people for less."
The auror stood up and dusted himself off. "Professor Harris, that was uncalled for," he told him.
"So was your sneering," Xander told him in his coldest voice. "Your personal prejudices aren't supposed to get in the way of your job, nor are they supposed to get in the way of you taking notes from the people who are experts in the field. If you had any sense, you'd know that Draco Malfoy studies gryphon and gryphon-born theory, and uses it to help the Ministry on various occasions. He's the one who wrote the book on this shit, so maybe you should listen to him."
"I don't like your attitude, sir; calm down or I'm going to arrest you."
Xander snickered. "Yay. I'll gladly go. There's nothing you can charge me with besides getting your sneering ass away from my mate and children. I don't think there's many judges who will do more than give me probation for that." He stepped closer. "For that matter, go ahead. Remember, I'll get to say *why* I was arrested," he pointed out. "For you sneering at my son like he was something you scraped off your shoes. How do you think that will go over with your review panel? Do you think you're going to get promoted for it?"
"Step back, sir, this is your last warning."
"Xander, get off the idiot," George snapped. "He can't hurt Iggy, you know that. For that matter, he also can't investigate this scene, the real auror just showed up." The auror who Xander had trapped looked at him. "I believe you call him your boss if you're really an auror. Let him pass, Xander."
"As long as he stays away from the children, all of them," he said calmly, motioning toward the store. "And I do mean my adopted one as well." The auror slid past him and Xander walked inside. "Draco, are you all right?"
"Fine, Xander," he said with a smile.
"Fine, daddy. I'll stomp him my own damn self if he gives me that look again." The Head of the Aurors looked at him in shock. "I don't like being looked at like I'm something he vomited up, thank you." He looked up. "Harry's awake and groaning. The auror bothering him asked him if he knew anything and he said no. The guy in the black mask might though." He looked at Draco. "Did you bind him?"
"After he got done thrashing about," Draco agreed. He patted Iggy on the back then looked at the auror idiot. "His father adopted me and changed me to the calm person you say today. Aren't you glad?" The idiot nodded and stepped behind his boss. Apparently he didn't want to see what the old Draco Malfoy might have done in this situation.
"Did you Crucio him?" the head auror asked.
Draco nodded. "He was actively attacking, I felt it warranted."
"Thank you, Mr. Malfoy. May we finish your statement in the back? With the body so we can go through it all?"
"If one of the others wants to come back there and tend to Fred."
"I will," Iggy agreed. He looked around. "Did Uncle Ron run to Uncle Harry's side?" Xander nodded. "Good. He'll need a voice of non-mothering. Grandmother and Grandfather were there."
"I called them," Oliver told him, holding the ice pack against his forehead. "Go with them."
"Thanks. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, kid." Iggy nodded and walked into the back. Oliver looked at Xander. "He inherited your fussing nature."
Xander beamed. "Thank you."
"It's what makes him such a stunning healer," George put in with a smile of his own. He looked at Xander as he sneezed again. "Don't start that this soon to school. You won't be able to go."
"Raena's brewing the medicine for him," Iggy called. He walked out. "The idiot has awoken. He's swearing in Dutch. Raena's on her way." He grinned. "He's in deep shit, Uncle Draco just went off on him about playing the game, not taking advantage of it before it went on." He heard a grunt and went back, steadying his uncle, who was bent over in pain. "Did you hit him?" he asked the man on the ground. He shook his head, looking panicked.
"He just doubled over, kid," the head auror told him. He shoved over a chair. "My wife used to do that when she screamed at me while she was having our daughter."
Draco sank into the seat with a groan. "Ow." He slowly let go of his nephew's hand. "That was not a happy movement. The daughter is not happy."
"It's all right, Uncle Draco. Dad's out front if you need him to calm her down."
"No, I think I'll be fine," Draco said, starting to breathe normally again. "She's strong." He looked at the head auror. "I won't allow anyone to look at me like your minion did."
"Technically, we call them employees," the head auror told him.
Draco waved a hand. "Employee, minion, ass-licker, they're all the same in the end. Adjust his attitude toward the born. There's more of them than you think."
"He said he's one of them," the idiot told his boss.
Iggy growled and the man backed up. "My father adopted him in front of the clan, that makes him one of us. If you don't like it, then blow yourself up. Do the world a favor before you breed." His voice dripped with ice and the head auror stepped between them. "If that's the face of the future of law enforcement, I'd rather move," he told the head auror. "People like him should be kept away from decent people."
"Fair warning, Mister Harris-Weasley, our tolerance only goes so far."
"So does mine," Iggy told him. "Now you know how we feel every time we have to run into one of you." He crossed his arms. "Late to scenes so *we* end up fixing it. Forgetting all their training so they hang back in any fight and look scared until it's done. Harassing people who are injured, like he's doing now, I might add." The idiot looked up from badgering Fred. "He's not one of us, my other father is one of us. He's like you, only tolerant and smart. He can read a book and talk to people to see what they're really like," he said in his most patronizing voice. "Not only do you hamper any of us living our lives, but when we actually need you, you're never there. Oh, and that little thing that you guys have going with beating my father and Uncles whenever you come across them in a fight for the good side, you might want to stop it. Before I have to pull up my future calling for the second time in a year and make it so that none of our medicines work on you."
"Iggy, don't do that, it will harm their children," Draco soothed. Then he frowned when he realized he was calming him down against the aurors. "Never mind, blast them to hell. Not a damn one has proven themselves to possess a brain in the last five years."
"Some of the ones that daddy taught have," Iggy told him, smiling at the two women. "Want something for your heads, ladies?"
"Please," Katie asked him. Alicia nodded. Iggy disappeared and came back with two stoppered bottles, which he handed to them. "Thanks, kid. Which medicines are yours?"
"That one, the wizard flu one, any of the tumor drugs usually comes from our books somewhere in the past. Along with the digestive ones and the constipation ones," Iggy told her with a grin. "You know, those staples of modern medicine?" He looked at his Uncle. "Guys like him translated them to human forms years ago. Now he's got the chance to do a lot more."
"Wonderful for us," Alicia said as she took the medicine. "Hmm, cherry."
"My own little addition to the formula," Iggy agreed with a grin. "The old one tasted so nasty that no one wanted to take it unless they were in so much pain they were ready to kill. This way you don't have to suffer by taking it." He checked her head over. "The wound's closed and I don't sense a contusion. You should be fine, but if you get dizzy or start seeing double you have to see your own doctor." The women nodded so he moved on to Katie. "You look fine as well."
She laughed. "Thanks for the compliment, kid. Help me up." He helped her up, then helped up Alicia. "Let us check our inventory while you get that idiot to talk. He was speaking English earlier." Alicia followed her, both of them getting pounced by George. "Easy! Your son just healed our heads." She walked behind the counter and frowned. "Potter's broom is gone."
"His was here?" George asked. "He never mentioned it."
"We were refinishing his handle," Alicia told him. "The finish had a few worn spots and he got a splinter." She opened their work cabinet. "Here's Malfoys." She pulled it out. "Did he save us?"
"Yup," George said with a grin, leaning on the counter with his elbows. Someone cleared their throat so he got off it. "Sorry."
The head of the aurors nodded. "I have to take residuals off it, just in case there were others working with him." He ran his wand over the glass, then frowned. "When was the last time you were in here?"
"Yesterday," Fred said as he let Iggy help him out. "Iggy, pain medicine?" Iggy handed over a third bottle from his pocket. "Thanks, kid. Remind me to buy you a book later this week." He slugged the potion. "The really strong one," he said in appreciation. He let Xander help him sit down. "Hey, Oliver, when did you get here?"
"Xander brought me," Oliver told him, handing over his ice pack. "You look like you need it more."
"They didn't hurt your shoulder, did they?" Iggy asked. Oliver shook his head and tugged on his sling. "Thank Tara's Goddess. That could have been messy. Though I was promised I could sit in on the next one if I wanted." He looked around then went back to get Draco, who was interrogating the person bound to the floor. "Let Raena. She's putting on a shirt." He helped his uncle up and out to the front of the shop, handing him over to Xander. "I left the idiot back there with him." The head of the aurors looked at him, silently admonishing him. "Did you fire all the ones daddy trained for you?"
"The Unmentionables came and stole most of them," the head auror admitted. "They needed people and like to steal ours." He looked at Xander, then grimaced. "Would it help if I put a note in the office that one of them has to answer any call to your family?"
"It'd help a lot, they won't attack us," Xander told him. "Do you have *any* left?"
"Two on each shift," the head admitted. "I'll make that note. Though I do agree, he can't do his job if his prejudice is getting in the way." He finished taking results off the glass and looked at him. "All right, explain to *me* about the differences between teleporting and apparating."
Draco coughed to clear his throat. "Teleporting is a direct traveling through the flood. You basically bend the magic to get there. Apparating is a traveling at very high rates of speed, more like a portkey."
"A portal to a tunnel is usually how I explain it," Xander told him. "Teleporting is basically the magic at the other spot picking you up from your present spot and taking you to it."
"Oh. So it's a point where the two place's magic touch and you transfer yourself over?" the head asked. Everyone nodded. "Interesting. Can anyone not gryphon-born do it?" Draco shook his head. "Theoretically even?"
"There's a process for it, but you'd have to be able to touch the magic."
"Which means people who can touch pure magic can do it," Xander groaned. "Dumbledore can, I forgot."
"I doubt the Headmaster did this," Katie put in. "How many people can touch pure magic? And would it flash?"
"Yes, it does," Melvin told her. "I can and you do arrive with a flash of the excess energy you used. The brighter the flash, the less control you have. I've still got a medium-strength flash and I've been working on my control since I was nine-years-old." He smiled at his father. "Did I have a bad one this morning when I came to get you up?"
"Not as bad as usual," Percy agreed, smiling at him. "The brighter flash can also indicate a younger mind, his one when he was ten was so bright it was blinding, but by eleven it was smoother. Even before he got official training."
"Interesting," the head auror said, taking notes. "You don't deal with that area?" he asked Draco.
"I deal with the gryphon and the half-gryphon spells professionally, and theory as a sideline. I'm one of the two applicants for the upcoming theory position at Hogwarts."
"I see." The head auror looked him over. "Do they know about your condition?" Draco nodded. "I wish you luck then, Mr. Malfoy. Professor Harris..."
"I go by my full name now," he said gently, giving him a smile. "And yes, I was nice. I didn't push him through the window. He sneered at both of my children and myself."
The head auror nodded. "I understand. Next time report him. I want to hear about such things." He coughed. "What did you do the Minister's firearm?"
"I stuck a wad of gum on the end, blocking the barrel. I also told him how to remove it," Xander told him. "That was after I reminded him that you don't pull a weapon if you're not willing to use it. He didn't think much of me either."
The head auror nodded. "Thank you. You did tell him how to clean it off?" Xander nodded. "How deep did the gum go?"
"Not more than a centimeter down the barrel. I didn't push it, I just stuck it on the end. It looked really dirty if it helps."
"Do you know much about them?" Xander nodded. "May I ask how?"
"Prior possession by a soldier, Private First Class, American Army. He had weapons training. Did it misfire on him?" The head auror nodded. "Then he should have cleaned it. You have no right to carry a weapon that you can't use, take care of, and know the rules of. If you ask one of the muggle policemen, or anyone who works at a gun store to examine in, they can probably tell you what happened."
"Thank you. We have a technician we work with in Scotland Yard." He smiled at Iggy. "Why were you in Venice? I heard something and wondered."
"The Poisoner's convention." Raena walked in and he smiled at her. "Hey, sweetie."
She glared at Xander and gave him a large dose of medicine. "Take it all and don't throw it back up." She walked into the back room and the man started to scream and thrash. "I know him, he's my brother-in-law. He gambles with the Russian mafia."
The head auror smiled. "That's very nice. Could he have found you, Ignatius?"
Iggy shook his head. "I never met him. I met his wife once, on a pass through the library, but not him. Even with my thumbtack over there I doubt he could have gotten to anything of mine. Isn't he muggle-born?"
"Purely," Raena said with great disgust as she came from the back. "And the worst sort, the ones that set the stereotypes up." She smiled at Draco. "Are you all right?" He nodded, rubbing his stomach. "Want some help with that? Xander, drink!" she ordered. He gulped down the smelly fluid, making many gross faces.
Alicia thoughtfully handed him a trash can before half of it came back up. "Can't flavor that?"
"No," Iggy sighed. "I haven't found a way yet." He looked at his father. "Did you keep some of it down?" He got nodded at and Xander threw up some more. "If you can keep some of it down, you'll be better by tomorrow morning. If not, you have to take more and have to stay." He considered it. "Honey, can we change the thing into a suppository or something like that? It'd be easier to keep the majority of it down if we could."
"We'll work on it later," she promised, giving him a slight smile before turning back to watch Xander.
"I'm fine," Xander said, sitting down with his trashcan. "Eww." Katie handed him a fresh can and took the other out back to toss out. "Thanks." He leaned against Draco's legs. "Are you all right?"
"She got a bit anxious to come out and beat his ass as well," Draco told him, reaching down to smooth out the longish hair. "You need a trim."
"I'll do it soon," George told him. He looked at his mate. "Did some of it stay down?" Xander nodded. "Good. Then you won't have to stay home."
"A little flu wouldn't have stopped me," Xander reminded him. The head auror looked down at him. "We're finding the other founders."
"Oh, I heard about that project. Are you bringing them back?" Xander shrugged. "No instructions?"
"I'm thinking it depends on what the spirits want. And what the board wants." He looked up. "Any idea?"
"There's a prophecy that things will change if all four of them are rejoined on the property," Draco told him, smiling down at him. "No one knows how or what, but something will change. It was a curse laid on them by the person they left in charge when they finally left the school. She laid it on them as they walked out the door together. A Snape if I heard right so it might not be for the better of the school."
"Maybe the students can opt out of the mandatories if we suck at them," Iggy said optimistically. "I'd like to never sit in Transfigurations again."
Denver nodded. "Or me and Potions. Can I copy off you this year?"
"Sure." Raena glared at him. "Just my notes, I'm not making them for him." Melvin looked hopeful. "You can as well." Iggy grabbed his wife for a hug. "You are amazing. Have I told you that yet today?"
She shook her head and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Severus will still know if they suddenly start getting everything right."
"Dear, there's a Longbottom coming in this year. He's going to be blowing up the lab very often. Him and Mellie and that new Ravettena kid who's so evil that she emanates. He'll have more to worry about than those two peeking at my notes to get their potions right."
"Hmm, maybe the Ravettena kid will go to one of the others," she said, sounding hopeful.
"Not a chance, she sent back her acceptance," Xander told her. "And she's not one of us. She makes Agatha look normal. Pure evil."
"Hmm, then the guardian will be in school about the time Ravettena will rise to power," Iggy said thoughtfully, looking at Draco. "Do you know this kid?"
"Oh, yes," Draco noted. "Very well. Her parents introduced us last year at the Christmas Ball. They're so evil that the Death Eaters were considered amusing children playing games by them. They're also royal cousins so nothing can be done about them. She won't be doing anything." Ravena frowned. "Yes, that raven haired beauty who told you that you looked nice, if a bit young," he agreed. She shrugged and leaned against the counter. "You're not worried about her?"
"She said she's staying out of it all. She's collecting her little group and that's it," Ravena told him. "Why should I worry? My friends will try for the new popular person and then come back. If not, I don't need them. We have vastly different views on house politics. Agatha might have more problems with her, she'll be pushed out of her spot of power."
"Ah, but Ryan's a Prefect," Xander told her.
"What?" Simone yelled. "Not a chance! He's a fifth year and they stopped letting fifth years do the job ten years ago."
"They voted him in," Xander said with a shrug. "Albus still has to decide if he'll allow it to happen, and so does Severus. I'm all for him having to wait a year, the same as you do, Simone."
Ravena looked at her older sister. "You want to be a Prefect?" Simone nodded. "Damn glad I'm not under you then." She pulled out a nail file and started to clean her nails. "Can the rest of us go with a reasonable adult to get clothes and things?"
"Go ahead, take Percy," Draco told her, looking at Percy, who nodded. "Listen to him and no terrorizing the fitters this year, children." They grumbled and walked out together. "Mellie, we'll go with you to pick out your wand," he assured her. "Don't worry."
"Yes, Uncle Draco." She skipped out after her brother, who still looked rotten.
Draco looked at the head auror, then at Iggy. "You can go as well. We'll be right here if we need you."
"Yes, sir." Iggy and Raena left, with her pockets jingling. "Did Bill send our allowance?"
"Yup. He wanted me to get something naughty to tease you with," she teased. "Said you deserved it for opening the vault without taking anything."
"I didn't need anything, I was trying to make Uncle Bill understand."
"He said you should have taken something anyway." She stopped and walked back inside, pulling the head auror's head down to whisper in his ear. He brightened up. "It's going in our vault if it works. Can you please send us the forms we have to fill out to make it legal?"
"Of course, young lady. Thank you for your help. Does he speak English?"
"He's native to these shores, he should." She smiled and strolled away, taking Iggy's hand. They made it to the rest of the group as Little Ron was grabbed by their other beater. "He's fine. He'll be even better by the first game," she assured him.
"He'd better be!" the beater said, looking at him. "What did you do?"
"Stunning dive for my snitch into the house," Ron told him grimly. "I lost track of my space. I took out a window and a few bricks. My broom's cracked and back at the shop." The beater moaned. "Don't worry, I'm allowed to fly already and I'm okay. I can play and practice starting in two weeks."
"Wonderful," the beater sighed. "I'm the captain this year, guys." Iggy waved, making him laugh. "Yes, hello to you too. Have you been practicing?"
"On and off," Simone admitted. "There's been a few more important things going on." She looped her arm through his. "Have you just started the cycle of shopping?"
"I'm almost done. My wand's at Ollivander's being fixed and I still have to pick up pens and that stuff, plus clothes. My mum's somewhere around here."
"Then you can do clothes with us," Simone told him. "Did you hear about the seeker problem the World Cup team has been having?"
"Yeah, and it sucks." He looked back at Little Ron. "Where was your father on the list?"
"He got moved to first alternate the other day, but he got beaten up today. So did Uncle Oliver," Ron told him, grimacing. "Dad's head is fine. He told us to come shop. Oh, Agatha," he said, pointing.
Mellie jumped up and waved. "Hi, Aggie! Don't come with us!" Her sister rolled her eyes and moved to another store. "It works when you offer." Ron grinned at her and ruffled her hair, so very much like their dad's. "Do you think I'll be in Gryff?"
"If you are, are you trying out for the team?" the other beater asked her. She shrugged. "We have a keeper spot open."
"Daddy says I play well enough but I like to play for fun. We'll see though. If you need me, it'd be my duty to the house to help the team. Daddy said so."
The beater smiled. "Good girl, Mellie Potter. We'll be happy to have you on the team."
"That means you and our alternate chaser are the only one who'd not part of the family," Iggy pointed out.
"But we'll be in the school for the next twenty years," Raena reminded him. "Surely some of them will end up house teams. By the time we're gone, Tanada will be in. By the time she's gone, Maeve, Lucien, and this new girl will be in. Plus the triplets. I'm sure as many of them will be playing as possible."
"Twenty years?" the beater said in awe. "How many will be ours?"
"Hopefully Tananda will," Iggy said thoughtfully. "The triplets definitely. Lucien and Maeve might not be. This new one might since she's a guardian. Any kids of ours will have to be split, we promised one to Severus." Raena punched him on the arm. "You don't want kids?"
"I do, but that'll be ...." She trailed off. "If we plan it right, they'll be starting their first year the year after Draco's new one graduates," she agreed.
Melvin coughed. "I might have one or two by then as well. Possibly Anastasia as well. Three more years to her graduation after this one so that one will come in sometime during that period."
"I do plan on having children," Anastasia agreed. "Simone?"
"If it comes up. I'm not planning for or against until I know what I'm doing. Denver?"
"Probably not for a while. I want to be a playboy for a while," he said with a catty smirk. Percy looked at him. "It's in the blood. Father would have been if not for us."
"Make sure you don't have a son who shows up like you did," Percy told him, but he was smiling. "You were a bit of a shock to your father's system."
"Good point. Still, it gives me eleven years to get a child started. With any luck, Uncle Xander's wish of fifty years will come true."
"I'm sure Dumbledore will be amused when the last of us leaves," Simone told him. She burst out laughing. "I can see him greeting my first born daughter with the statement of 'don't be like your mother, dear, behave'." The others cracked up.
"Greeting Anastasia's first daughter with the sorting crown?" Iggy suggested. She rolled her eyes, but she was laughing. "Maybe the golden snitch of choosing which team will win for the next seven years of Little Ron's and Ravena's kids?"
Ron turned to walk backwards. "We'll work on having twins so one can go to each house," he told him with a smirk. Ravena gave him one of those looks. "Not a good idea?"
"Only if you're carrying them, Ron. Twins will ruin my figure." She ran a hand over her stomach.
"I can do that," he agreed. "We'll take off alternating years from the pro leagues?"
"That sounds reasonable I guess," she agreed, giving him a smile. Percy stared down at her. "What? He's the only one who'll ever understand me. He's the one who made me this way, Uncle Percy." Little Ron nodded, grinning madly. "He made his perfect mate and I'm still taking the snitch from him this year."
"We'll see," Ron told her, giving her an evil grin. "Daddy taught me a dirty trick."
"Daddy taught her *all* the dirty tricks," Simone told him. "We will win that damn house cup this year, even I have to sew my fucking lips shut," she announced as she opened the door to Madam Malkin's. The fitter standing there glared down at her. "Sorry, I'm getting it out of my system so I can be a Prefect next year," she said with a grin. The fitter groaned but let them inside.
Percy shook his head. "They're not all mine," he admitted. "Only the well-behaved ones. Ignatius!" he snapped. Iggy moved his hand off Raena's rear. "You as well, Raena." Her hand moved up to his back. "They're not mine either. Their fathers are giving statements in the broom shop." He walked over to where Anastasia was already ordering the fitter around. "Gently use your power, dear, the little people appreciate it." She smiled at him and said please. "Thank you." He groaned. They were such Malfoys! Iggy smirked at him like he had heard the thought. "You, behave or not a single treat on the train this year. I'll tell Ron not to give you any."
"Which means he'll give us the whole box of frogs," Denver pointed out. He looked at the cute twosome. "Are we getting the potion on the train?"
"Yup. The school's nearly done. When I come back after the first two stops on the expedition, I get to make sure of it. Our new caretakers is a lazy person and has done one room a day for the last two weeks." Percy moaned. "Hagrid has this little scrubber thing. We're going to run it through the vents and have it scrape everything into one room, where we'll dissolve all the mold. Then we'll spray the entire airvent system. Our beloved Potion's Master may well come back to a shiny classroom because it also eats slime off walls and the nasty stuff in the grout between blocks." He let his wife go so she could be fitted. "Dear, how much do we have to spend this time?"
"Eighty each. They said something about you and your broom."
"It does need fixed," Iggy agreed with a sigh. The beater looked at him. "Simone ran me over."
"Pity. Is it still working?"
"It's up the street. I'll know by the time we all get on the train." He looked around at all the students. "Any of you guys Hogwarts?" They all perked up. "Hi, I'm Iggy, I'm giving those of you who aren't first years a mold potion on the train to combat the serious respiratory infections that it's caused so far. There will be no notes accepted from parents and no one's getting out of it. First years will be dosed at the school because they haven't been exposed yet." A few kids groaned. "Also, I can't make this one taste good, but it's not that big a draught so feel lucky."
Raena looked around. "The only thing that can get you out of it is allergies to the potion components so you have to tell us when you come in what you're allergic to. Got it?" They nodded. "Good. We'll have a closed compartment; we'll weigh you, give you your medicine, and then you're free."
"On whose authority?" Madam Malkin asked with fond tolerance. She liked this girl.
"Professor Snape and Poppy Pomfrey's," Iggy told her. "The mold has gotten so bad it's making scars swell, causing high blood pressure problems, and caused some very serious respiratory infections. A few kids are still in the hospital. We're getting it all cleaned out, but it's necessary. So, please, don't argue with us. We're doing *all* of you but the first years on the train."
One nearby mother smiled at them. "Are you two the ones in the news? The Potion's prodigies?" They nodded. "What do you need from the parents?"
"Just tell the kids what they're allergic too," Iggy told her. "Unless they have a certified note from their personal physician that they've already gotten it, and then they need to send it to the Headmaster because we'll have a list of exempt children." She nodded. "It's not usually reactive with anything. Unless your kid's on a muggle anti-seizure medicine or has gotten a dose in the last three years. That's why the announcements went out with the letters."
"That's fine. Should we take them to be dosed?"
"No, it's not a problem. We made up more than enough and the train ride is really long," Iggy pointed out with a grin. "Not a problem at all."
"Thank you, Ignatius. Raena." She nodded at the girl. "You are as beautiful as my daughter said."
"Thank you," she said with a light blush. "I try to turn my stunningness down so I don't make Iggy drool, but sometimes it comes out anyway."
The mother burst out laughing. "You two are so cute!" she told them, pinching Iggy's cheek. "On the train?"
He nodded. "We're starting with the back and moving our way up. We figure some of the crankiest are in Slytherin so we'll get them last. We can sic Agatha on them." She laughed. "Agatha's our cousin, so it's not a problem. She'll stick up in this circumstance. She got sick too."
"That's wonderful. Have fun with the dosing," she said, taking her daughter, who was wearing her Slytherin tie, over to pay for and pick up their packages. The girl waved at Iggy.
"Hi, Cerida," Ravena called. "Did you have a good summer?"
"Except for the chest cold I got as soon as I left, fine," she agreed. "I already got the anti-mold at the hospital."
"You're on our list then," Iggy told her. "St. Mungos sent over a list and the doctors around the country were informed of the same thing. Was it mold-based?" She nodded. "Coughed up the nasty stuff, didn't you?"
"Oh, you wouldn't believe!" the girl said. "Hi, Emily, I didn't see you."
"I was hiding behind the tall people," Emily quipped, smiling back. "Sit with me on the train?"
"Sure. I'm usually found around the end of the Slytherin section. Usually front of the second or third car, depending on how many brothers and sisters, and couples, we get. Find me." She waved and followed her mother out, telling her who that was.
Iggy smiled at Emily. "It's good that you've found friends. She's nice. Ambitious but nice. She won't run over people, she moves them out of her way." Emily nodded. "Did you finally catch up?"
"Fully," Emily agreed. "I'm even a bit ahead in Runes thanks to your advanced notes."
"Like I said, I get bored," Iggy told her, taking over the open stool. "I can get the right size this year," he said happily. The fitter laughed. "No more hanging clothes." He looked at his wife, then at the fitter. "Can I get stuff that shows what I nice butt I have so I can walk in front of her and make her drool?"
Madam Malkin chuckled and went to get him his clothes personally. She loved this family, they were always such interesting customers.
Bill looked around the muggle store in awe. Where was this thing when he had first packed his pack? He pointed at a rack. "You'll want some of those in case. A pack for each of you and saddlebags for the transport," he told them. "Get some MRE's, get those compact blankets, and be sure to pack clothes that will stand up to not being washed for days on end." He looked at Draco as he said that.
"I have some new jeans softening in the washer," Draco noted, heading for the MRE rack. "These don't look appetizing."
"They're not, but they're handy and compact," Xander told him. He looked at the bags, discarding the first few because they only had one strap. He nodded Bill over, pointing at the one he liked. "That one?"
"Looks wonderful." He checked the material. "It should wear well. Do you remember how to pack one?"
"Yuppers," Xander said with a grin. "I also remember how to shrink everything."
Bill laughed. "It took me three years to learn that trick. Remember what can't be shrunk down." He pointed at the food. "It doesn't always like that."
"Then we'll add a supplies bag," Xander said with a shrug. Bill nodded. "Want to help me check weapons later?"
"If you want. I'd like to see your stash."
Draco wandered over, looking at the bags. He pointed at the one behind Xander's, the same size but with multiple pockets on the outside. "That one?"
"Would work," Xander agreed, handing it to him. "I like one big cavity to fill instead of a lot of smaller ones." He pulled off his, and one just like it for Denver and Iggy. Simone still had Draco's old one and wouldn't be on the whole trip. "How about this one for a weapon's bag," he said, touching one of the military commando bags.
"Will your favorite things fit in there?" Bill asked.
"Good point." He measured it with his hands and shook his head. "Not my most favorite weapon." He looked at the clerk. "I need a bag that'll carry a battle axe. About this wide on each side," he said, showing the distance with his hands. The guy looked at him like he was nuts, and considering he had a shirt that said Jesus was coming to stomp everyone but the Aryans, that was particularly funny. "Family heirloom, dude."
"Oh, right then." He came over and pulled down a larger bag. "How's this?"
Xander looked at it, then hefted it. "A bit too heavy with the weapons in it. We're not taking cars."
"Oh." The guy nodded. "You're going over-ground?" Xander nodded. "Then try this one, mate, it's got enough room for everything, including a tent setup, but it's not that heavy of material. Should last you, it's waterproof and airtight when sealed with the inner seals."
Xander looked it over, then measured the inside. "Yeah, I think this one should do. We'll take this, two four-person tents, the gear for it in as compact of a form as possible, and the necessary meals." The guy's eyes lit up. "And you never saw us."
"Even better, mate, good on you. Gonna go here or abroad?"
"We're not sure yet," Draco told him. "The Founders haven't said yet."
"Wonderful news. Bring the war to the streets, boys." He picked them out his favorite assortment of MRE's, and he ate at least one every day. Then he packed them the normal things. "That be all?"
"That's wonderful," Draco told him, looking at everything. "Sleeping bags? It's due to get cold while we're gone."
"Compact blankets," Xander told him, patting the small packages. "We can't get them that small again, but they're thermal and can be smooshed back down a lot." The guy behind the counter nodded. "We'll need component carriers too. Got any small, useful sized compartments?" Six small boxes were put down and shown off, three had two compartments, three had three. Draco nodded. "Cool, and emergency candles."
"Flares or the real thing?"
"The real thing." A box was put down. "Thank you. Know where the nearest wiccan shop is?"
"Up the street, 'round the corner and go three blocks," the guy ringing them up said. "You doing herbs?" He looked at Draco. "Bad bloat, mate?"
"Very. It usually goes away in a few weeks time with the proper treatment." Draco leaned on the counter, mentally adding everything up. "How many days of food is that?"
"Sixteen days for three people. Need more?"
"Please. We're not sure how long this will last and we're leaving with five extra people who will be splitting off in a few days." A box more was added on and Draco paid the man. "Thank you. Xander, can you gather it?"
"Sure. I can even pack it efficiently," Xander told him with a grin, doing so. Soon, all the stuff was evenly divided up and the packs were half-full. "Thanks, guys. Right or left up the street?"
"Left from the door," the Aryan told him, smiling as they walked out. "Think they're too soft?"
"Two of them looked experienced," his buddy told him. "One's a little soft, but he's got steel in him. Maybe this is his first time out, he's a planner it looked like."
"Maybe." The Aryan smiled. "Wonder what they'll bring to the world."
"Hopefully something wonderful. If the pigs don't stop 'em." They high-fived and went to straighten everything up.
Once they were outside, Bill started shaking his head. "Xander, you're nuts."
"They'd know about this stuff," Xander said with a smirk and slight shrug. "This is their fun and games."
"Who's Jesus?" Draco asked.
"Christian intermediary deity," Bill told him. "Second in the hierarchy. Not found in the Jewish or Muslim versions of the faith."
"Oh. And the comment on his shirt?"
"Remember World War II?" Xander asked. Draco nodded, not liking this discussion. "Aryans were who Hitler wanted to bring back. The pure white race." He clapped him on the back. "Sort of like your father."
"My father despised that time, called Hitler an inefficient bastard. Said his planners weren't worth their shit more than once."
"Yeah, well, that's the difference of doing it muggle," Xander pointed out. "If he had killed everyone on the spot, they would have been kicked out faster." He opened the door to the wiccan shop and took a deep breath. No herbs. "Hi, we need a herbalist of great caliber? We're going on retreat and need to commune with our leader's voice."
"You're doing a seance?" the hippie behind the counter asked.
Xander dug around and came up with the ingredients for the calling spell. "This is our tradition. We'll need the usual."
Draco snorted and shook his head. "Not like that. We've seen his ghost, but we need to talk to it, keep it here for a bit. Do you have the requisite things?"
"Nah, but I know who does. Let me get her. We have connecting shops for convenience." He disappeared through the curtain with Xander's list. Then he came back and motioned them back. "Madam Harracka wants to talk to you lot."
"Sure," Xander said, taking back the paper. He walked back first and smiled at the old hag sitting there. "We're calling our founders."
She waited until all of them were there and the boy was gone, then pulled her wand. "Why? Which founder?"
"All of them, we're updating the sorting hat," Draco said as he sat down. "You used to teach in my father's day. I found a letter you sent to his father about his miserable performance."
She nodded. "And you look just like him, Mr. Malfoy. You're calling all of them?"
"We've seen Slytherin, he's buried at the school." She gasped. "We're not bringing the bodies back unless they ask to be done that way," Xander told her. "But Salazar got so very pissed when he realized all the idiots got put in his house."
She laughed. "That's very true, but inbreeding bears dolts and those too incompetent to do anything on their own." Draco nodded. "You know of your history?" He nodded again and rubbed his stomach. She smiled beatifically and reached out, nodding at the feel of the child. "It is time then. Ravettena will not be the problem that you think. She's beyond this class of power and control. This is a formality, a hoop she must jump through. Watch your son though, Mr. Malfoy."
"Draco," he told her. "She'd better not try for my son. As much as I like her lineage, I don't like her parents." The witch nodded, understanding that. "Let her pick on the Mythirias. They're her group and it's their turn to intermarry if I remember right." He shifted. "We've got three left to do. Two this weekend, one somewhere."
"Hufflepuff liked woods," she advised. She pulled over the list from Xander's hands. "This is incomplete, but I know what you need." She floated up, showing that she had no legs. "Who took my spot?"
"Trelawny," Draco snorted. "She died by being out of her body too long."
The witch nodded. "I heard. What about now?"
"One of Tara's friends, we don't associate," Xander told her. "She took one look at me and ordered me to never walk into her tower, not even if she was dying. Said the blood on me was too much to be borne."
Madam Harracka looked at him then shrugged. "It is clear that you used to fight. The blood on you is not human, nor was most of it in a very long time. You are who you are."
"She said I blinded her with visions of battle and death," Xander told her.
"If she's that sensitive then why is she around unformed psychic powers?" Harracka asked lightly. "She'll only see their futures as unformed voids." She came back with a large tray of things. "Do you have a way to carry these?" The boxes were pulled out and she laughed. "The survival idiots?"
"Can you think of a better place?" Xander asked with a naughty grin. "Poor them, they think we're going to go out and start Anarchy for them now."
She continued to laugh as she put everything in its place and marked each one with its name. "One of these days, I'll set off something on them." Xander snapped his fingers and brought a catalog from the shop, handing it to her. "Oh-ho! That family, huh?" She looked at him. "Which child?"
"George is mine, so is Iggy, he's my son."
"Wonderful news then, my boy." She kissed him on the head. "Give that to young William and bring him by sometime."
"I can call him now if you want," Xander offered. She shrugged and continued to fill up the compartments for them. He put down one of his thumbtacks and went to steal his son. He waved at Molly and took him back with him. "Here we are." Draco looked at him and he saw an image of his bones over-imposed on his face. Xander shook his head. "I'm not near death," he told himself.
"My herbs tend to stimulate those with potential," she admitted. "What did you see?"
"His skull over his face."
She looked at Draco, taking his hand to look at. "Not for many years." She took Xander's hand to hold and looked in his eyes. "You are so attuned to death that you see it. You will not outlive him by long. Perhaps minutes, perhaps hours."
"No," William said firmly, taking her hands off them. "Not now." She smiled at him and he looked fierce. "They not come. They find out and stop it."
"If they do, then they'll all die happily in their beds at the right times," she told him. She saw Xander looking at his son. "You thought they were going to let him escape?"
"Who and how do I kill them?" Xander asked simply. William smiled and gave him a hug. "There's no way in hell someone's coming after my kids, any of them."
"The family from his original life is coming, twisted versions of those in your own life. One shiny one turned dark, a bright one turned traitor to their cause. The sacrifice will not go back and you will die defending him if they come."
"How and where?" Draco asked, pulling out a notepad to make notes. "Any particular place?"
"Germany, the air is thinner there these days. The Black Forest, a portal." She shook her head. "I don't know what else. Not for many years."
"He showed up in Prague," Xander told her.
"He would have. He took his power and left. The same as you took yours and found your place, he found his. He is still a miniature you." She smiled at William. "Tell them when it's about time, dear."
"Tell us when you can say it in complete sentences or help me find it in a book," Draco told him. "That way we can block off that dimension."
"Doing so will kill them," she warned.
"And?" he retorted. "How are those fairies doing?"
She laughed. "Very good point. You are like your father, only with a better focus. I saw very dark things for him. Don't let him be raised. There are some who will try."
"There are some who will die for trying," Draco corrected. "He was torn into tiny little pieces for killing a colony." She gasped. "Didn't see that?"
"No, I usually saw flickering firelight on a stone wall and shadows, nebulous but horrible ones, in his future."
"Yeah, that about describes his end," Xander agreed. "If you look at it from the back room, which was where I was, that was about how it looked." Draco shuddered. "He didn't scream," he assured him.
"His tongue was gone?" Bill suggested, faintly sickened.
Xander shook his head. "No, he still had it, it worked. He didn't beg, didn't whimper, and didn't say a word. He grunted, he made some pained noises, but nothing else. Said it was beneath him."
Draco smiled and laughed. "That does sound like an end he would have liked."
Madam Harracka looked at them. "You are all very strange young men."
Bill shook his head. "I'm normal, they're dragging me along."
She laughed. "I'm sure you are. You stole for a living?"
"Depends on how you look at it," he admitted. "I saw it that way toward the end. At least our targets were dead."
"Were they?" she asked. His eyes widened. "I think you'd be surprised. Send Ravettena to deal with it. Shey will understand them." She winked at him. "Don't warn the little suckers, I hate goblins."
He snickered. "You and me both, Madam. Is the spell correct?"
"Perfectly fine," she agreed. She handed over a small pamphlet. "To make the trip easier. The expanded spaces charm." She winked at them and sat back down. "May I hold William?" He was handed over and she cooed at him. "You must tell them everything once you can," she told him. "They will protect you with their lives if necessary." He looked sad. "They are guardians, it is their job."
"Sissy," William said, pointing at Draco's stomach. "Not hurt her."
"No, she won't be hurt," Draco told him. William looked at him. "I promise. I'll send her and the other children away so they can't be hurt, William. You can even growl at the bad people if they show up."
William nodded and picked up some paper to draw on. Then he handed it over. "Home. Bad things happened there. I died and comed back and everything. Protection spell."
"You died to protect them so they resurrected you to give it more power?" Xander asked. He nodded. "Was the shiny one Tara? You used to look very scared of her." William nodded. "And the one who helped you escape was Willow?" He nodded again, stronger this time. "What was coming?"
"Bad things. Blonde lady from Hell." He grinned. "Pretty but dumb. Crazy too."
"Hmm. I think we can lock that dimension off from here," Xander assured him. "Draco?"
"Definitely. It will take some research to pinpoint it. Was Buffy there?"
William looked up at the lady. "Once or twice." He grinned. "She go bye-bye, she come back, she go bye-bye, she come back. She like yo-yo."
Xander chuckled. "I think I know where that is. Can I call someone?" The witch shrugged. "Anyanka!"
"What?" she whined as she appeared. "You're finally ready to punish him?" She gasped when she saw William. "Oh, damn! I saw his reality."
"Good, then you can help me block it off before they come to kill him," Draco told her.
She looked down at him, then shook her head. "Not until after you've plopped that one out. There's not a chance I'm getting near a champion again. Twice was enough, thank you." He smiled. "You look like Spike."
"I said the same thing," he noted. "Can you protect William?" She snorted in derision. "What would it take?"
Xander smirked at her. "I know a student who would *love* to hear from you, dear." She perked up. "Not only is she demonic potential, she's already evil. She's also my niece and will *hate* me for suggesting her."
"Really?" Anyanka asked, sitting in midair. "Which niece? His?"
"Potter's," Draco said with a smirk.
"Harry will kill you," Bill told them.
"Harry knows. He wasn't fond, and I'm not offering her up, but suggesting that she be looked at and considered for a job offer. She's power hungry. Wants minions."
"Not succubus, but definitely a higher-order one," Anyanka said thoughtfully. "Can you let me get your mate?"
"It happens to him. He's creative. Other artists' spouses have to put up with the same thing I guess." He grinned at Bill. "Or, hey, Willow's son. He wants the power so bad he can taste it. He messed with Tara's books."
"Hmm," she purred. "I felt that. Sex magic too." She grinned at Bill. "He was doing rites this summer with some Watcher's kid. Do I have to check with their parents?"
"You want to ask Willow and Wesley if you can talk to her first born?" Xander asked, looking stunned. She shuddered. "I'd go talk to Harry definitely. Remember him?" She nodded. "I was thinking something in the Braxis class personally, give her a Watching post?"
"Hmm, doable," Anyanka said. "Not exactly demonic, but definitely needed and she does have the talent for the higher magics." She looked at William, who was grinning at her. "Remind you of someone?"
"Mine," he said happily. "Snuggly tits."
"Oh, I was there too," she said happily. "Gee, getting stuck in Sunnydale on many planes. Someone kill me now." A rumble of thunder. "Let me check in. Thanks, Xander. You're sure about George? I can make him dance and everything."
"No, I think he's about to come to his senses," Xander told her. "Happy suggesting to Harry." She disappeared and he looked at Bill. "Braxis demons aren't demons, they're witches and wizards who are appointed to watch the inter-plane areas for anomalies. It's a power position because you can pick and choose what gets through, but you're under strict control of a higher authority. It takes power, control, and the desire to fuck with people's lives. I mentioned it to Harry and he liked it up until he heard what it was." He grinned. "Besides, it keeps her away from George and the school."
Bill shook his head. "You're on your own if Harry comes for you."
"He won't," Draco told him. "He threatened her with it a few weeks ago. She looked very interested." He stood up. "Are we done?"
"The bathroom's back that way," she said, pointing. "There's only one working, the girls' side." He nodded, heading back in there. "This would be Agatha Potter?" Both men nodded. "He's right, she'd do good there. Tell Albus to come see me. I haven't seen him in ages. I told him to watch out for retirement. A succubus?"
"That kept coming after my mate," Xander said dryly. He took his son back. "Thank you, Madam Harracka. Feel free to drop in on our kids anytime." She laughed and he let Bill repack everything. "Ready?" he asked when Draco came out.
"You're out of paper towels." He nodded at her. "Thank you for your assistance."
"You're welcome. It's nice to see that you're more like your grandfather and a dash of your adopting father thrown in." She smiled as they disappeared, giving them an extra boost so Draco's daughter wouldn't get warped or left behind. "A very interesting trio," she noted, making notes in her dairy. "Ah, I foresaw them coming Wonderful of me to do." She finished writing the entry and cleaned everything up.
Xander handed William back and dropped onto the couch. "Okay, I'm tired now," he announced. "Nap?"
"Yes, dear, you nap," Molly assured him. He smiled and laid back. "Draco, you're not supposed to be traveling that way," she chided, letting William down to play.
"I couldn't take a cab," he moaned, sitting down. "Do you have anything to nibble on?"
"Try one of the MRE's," Bill suggested. He looked at them, watching as Draco read the directions and followed them. "Mum, we've just had a small glitch."
"I heard," Harry called. "Xander, I want to beat you."
"It's keeping her away from George," Xander called.
Harry came down the stairs and looked down at him. "Still. A demonic position?"
"She wouldn't have to turn," Xander said, opening his eyes. "That's for witches and wizards who are very powerful. Not for demons. They're too easily swayed. Trust me, it'd suit her and she could be the one who ultimately helps us save William. She might even be able to sit at home all day and do it. She'd have the power to call anything from any plane, but would have to put back equal mass somewhere. It's an interesting job. Pick up Iggy's textbook if you want to read up on it. We've got an expanded section. I had one come in and talk to the kids." He closed his eyes. "I'm going to let the flu medicine work."
Harry backed away. "I don't need that." He looked at Draco, who shrugged. "Who told him?"
"Madam Harracka, the one before Trelawny. She knew my father and berated him wholly a few times. She saw his death."
"At least she knew more than we let on," Bill put in. "I've never seen a seer like her. Especially not Tara's replacement. Shit, I should warn something about that problem she mentioned."
"She said not to," Draco reminded him. "Personal bias could play a part in it."
"Would they believe it?" Xander asked.
Bill snorted. "Not likely. They don't believe in species rights. My last assignment they had me trying to clean out a nest." Harry hissed. "Tell me about it. Murphy saved my life."
"No, that," Harry said, picking up a magazine to roll up. "Don't move, Bill." He took the spider off him and looked at it. "Kin of Aragog?" It nodded. "Messenger or playing?" It danced. "Then we'll send you back." He walked to the floo and sent himself to the school, the spider carefully held in his hand. Ron looked over at him. "Don't get too close. One of Aragog's." Ron shuddered and moved far away. "You're still scared of spiders?"
"After having one try to eat me, yeah," Ron agreed. "Hagrid's down the hall."
"Thanks," Harry said with a smile. "Can you beat Xander for me? He suggested Aggie and Ryan for Braxis positions."
Ron grinned. "Really?" Harry nodded. "That would suit 'em and keep 'em out of trouble. Brilliant plan, absolutely brilliant. That'd make 'em like that bint Chrester we met a few years back, Harry."
"Oh! Is that what?" Ron nodded. "Then it might not be so bad. Let me drop her off and we can talk."
"Deal." Ron watched as Harry walked out with the little spider, then shuddered again. Spiders were better off dead in his book. Oh, but Xander was going to get it from Willow. He wondered if he should tell her. A cold hand touching his forehead made him look up. "Buffy?"
"It's a good thing, I put it in his head," she said with a wink. Then she faded out. "I'll tell Willow." There was a small pop.
Ron curled up in the chair, smiling at himself. This was one to watch.
Wesley looked up at the cool breeze moving through his office. "Faith," he said with a smile. "What can I do for you?"
"You can tell Red that her kid's gonna be a Braxis for us," Faith said, crossing her arms. "B and I agree, she's still scary."
Wesley chuckled and put down his pen. "I'm sure she can seem that way. A Braxis?" Faith nodded. "Where?"
"This plane. Keeping out, guardian like and all that. Both of them. Power trips like they'd adore and responsibilities that'll make 'em whine. Anya's on the recruit and sign trail." She winked and faded out. "Cute honeymoon, Wes."
He blushed. "I do wish you girls would quit watching us." He got up and went to talk to his wife. "Dear, have you heard from Buffy?"
"No, I got an Anyanka visit," she sighed. "Braxis?" Wesley nodded. "Why?"
"Think about it, love, they'd be perfect. This is the power trip they've been looking for. Each one could even get a corner to watch."
She smiled and kissed him. "I guess. I wonder how Harry's taking it." She snuggled into his arms. "At least they'll be here."
"Very true," he agreed, kissing the side of her neck. He looked around. "Go away, Faith and Buffy." They giggled and left, the door slamming. "I mean it. I'll trap you in a book for eternity, one of the large, dusty boring ones." The door opened and slammed again. "Thank you."
"They were peeking?" Willow asked with a blush. He nodded. "Naughty ghosts." But she stole another kiss. "Blot the memory out for me?"
"Of course." He pulled her up and kissed her more deeply. There wasn't any emergencies right now, they had the time to neck and other things.
The first morning of the trip, Percy smiled and sat watching the two snuggling ones. He knew that both men hated to sleep alone and it wasn't sexual in the least, but they were cute. He waved the others off to do their personal business and pack up. Simone stopped to take a picture of them. He smiled and motioned that he wanted a copy for the family archives. She nodded and snuck off to go pee behind a tree.
Draco and Xander moaned, waking up in response to the other's voice. Percy watched as they realized that their sleep attire had shifted during the night and that both of them were peeking out of them. They opened their eyes and shrugged and smiled, then got up and adjusted themselves, picking different trees. He laughed, making them both look at him. "You two are cute."
"I was hoping that the little me would take up with Lucien," Xander told him. "That way the cuteness would reign forever." He walked back there and peed, sighing in relief, only matched by Draco's own sighs.
"My son and your daughter are quite cute enough," Draco said once he was done. He came back around and slipped into the rest of his clothes, sitting in front of the dead fire to sip the tea Percy had made. "Eww, cold," he mumbled. He pulled his wand and heated it, then sipped it again. Xander sat down and handed him two sugar packets. "Thank you." He gratefully poured them both in and smiled in delight. Just how he liked it.
"How far are we?" Percy asked, moving closer so he could see the map. His diary for this trip was going into the school archive so it was important that he knew such things.
"We're at the doorstep of what should be Ravenclaw's final resting place," Draco said, examining it. "It says there should be a tunnel." He looked around. "I don't see any entrance."
"Maybe it's a tree," Xander said, taking the map to hold. He turned it right-side up and looked around again. "A small opening, like the store would be if it was barely sticking out of the ground and it's that way." He pointed to the right. The map reoriented, and he switched to the left. "Okay, so I was wrong," he said with a shrug and a grin. "We go that way." He looked at the empty tents. "Kids?" he called.
"Searching," Denver called back.
Melvin came out of the trees with the collapsible bucket filled with water. "There's a stream about fifty paces that way."
"That's why we're here," Draco told him, taking the bucket to wash his hands. He pulled out some of the fresh food and bit into the apple with a joyous expression.
"You sure you don't want an MRE?" Xander teased.
"If you threaten me with those horrid fake meals again, I'll harm you," Draco told him, taking another bite. He handed over the pack with the food. "Eat real food, Xander, not bad copies of food." Percy laughed and hugged his son. "You as well. We don't need you getting the runs from that stuff."
"It would make flying difficult," Percy agreed. He frowned and looked at Draco's head. "Is that a white hair?"
Xander nearly dropped his pear as he searched, coming up with a white hair in the center of the blonde. "Draco, as soon as we get back, you're getting checked out."
"That is why I'm here," Iggy noted as he joined them. He ran his wand over Draco. "The baby's being a bit more forceful with his energy now. Nothing serious. All babies do it. I'm surprised he didn't get some last time."
"I did," Draco admitted. "Three of them. I'll be fine. Pull that please."
"Not a chance," Iggy told him. "You grow three for each one you pluck."
"That's a wives tale," Draco said with disgust. He took the hair from Xander's fingers and yanked it out. "There, see? No new ones yet. I'll get about one a month and the healers said that was normal. Even women get those." He looked at Iggy, who nodded and shrugged. "Quit fussing."
"Grumpy," Xander told him, giving him a nudge. "Keep it up and I'll make you sleep with Percy, he snores."
"It's bad enough our sons snored in my ear all night," Draco said glumly. He looked at his son. "Sleep with Percy tonight, son." He finished his tea and poured himself more. He looked at what Xander had pulled out. "Glass bottles?"
"Chocolate caffeine drink," Iggy said, reading the held-up label while his father dug out his morning medicine.
"Wonderful, high and bouncy," Percy said in disgust. "Xander, did you really need those?" Xander nodded. "Why?"
"Caffeine is my personal god and I only brought three of them. I figured they could come in useful." He popped the top and resealed it so he could shake the contents, then drink down his medicines quickly. "Okay. Rinse it, Iggy." His son took the bottle from his hand and went to rinse it out. When he came back, Xander stuck the candle in it and handed it over. "There, useful."
"What are you doing the other days for caffeine?" Iggy asked, repacking his bag.
"No-doz. Caffeine supplement pills." Draco gave him a look. "You want me to be cranky and sleepy the whole trip?"
"No, I was wondering when you had picked those up."
"They were in the medicine cabinet," Iggy told him. "Daddy, where's the weapons bag?"
"I used it as my pillow. What did you need out of it?"
"I was thinking a crossbow for that thing," he said, pointing at the river siren coming out.
Xander looked at her and she smiled. "We're all either married, widowed, or taken, lady. And we have swords. Iggy, wood wouldn't hurt it and I didn't bring any of the iron ones. Get a sword instead." Iggy stood up but the siren moved on. "Thanks. We'll be gone soon!" Draco tapped him and he looked at him. His son patted him on the side of the head. "What?"
"You're scary. Have another one."
Percy broke out in giggles. "I'm glad you two are having so much fun." Xander shrugged. "Are we ready to pack up?"
"Give me ten minutes to clean some of myself up and I'll be ready," Draco told him. He looked around. "It's very quiet out here. I can see why some people like it." He finished his second mug of tea and went to take a washcloth bath and do his hair.
Xander took the direct approach, using the same cleaning spell he used on his clothes. It didn't take off some of the grime or remove all the smells, but it killed all the germs and made him feel clean enough. He repacked everything and sat down again, that's when Draco poured the water over his head. "Hey!"
"You need to take a real bath, not just that swipe you did. Meeting Founders shouldn't be an exercise in stench control." He sat on a dry spot next to Percy and poured himself some more tea for his travel bottle. The water had tasted nasty when he had tasted it. He tossed Xander his bottle of shampoo and soap. "Environmentally friendly even," he said with a slight smirk.
Xander groaned but got up to go take a real bath in the stream. He knelt beside the water and saw the minor demon, giving her a shrug. "We've got to talk to Ravenclaw," he told her. He showed her the label. "It won't hurt your water." He drew some up to take a bath on the side of the river, then used the dirty water to rewet his hair so he could shampoo it. He drew some more clean water to rinse his hair then shook himself. "Thanks." She smiled at him and nodded at his uncovered midsection, winking. He shook his head. She pouted and licked her lips. He shook his head, but he was smiling. He showed her the place where his ring's tan lines were. She reached up and he chuckled, shaking her hand. "I work with Slayers." She withdrew then stared at him. He shrugged. "Sorry. I'm not here to hurt you." She came closer and touched his hand, smiling at him. "I'm still taken though."
She sighed. "Fine, be that way," she said in a dulcet voice that made him smile. "Do you think I'm pretty?"
"I do, but my husband would harm me if I brought you home."
She tittered with laughter. "I'm sure he would. Go in peace, you who work with Slayers." She tipped her head to the right. "How many are there now?"
"Just one again. Faith passed on her line and Buffy got to breed." He stood up. "Thank you for the blessing." He blew a kiss. "Happy hunting and all that." He emptied the bucket onto the ground so the earth would filter it before putting it back in the river, then left to go back to the camp. He found everything packed, everyone ready, and he still needed to find dry clothes. "Sorry, the river siren had a question."
"You can't go anywhere without getting into trouble, can you?" a soft female voice asked, floating closer to the camp. "You don't need to summon me, really."
"We were going to come talk to you in your own place," Percy told her, staying respectful. Ravenclaw had been one of the most powerful witches in her time and no one was sure how much magic remained after death.
"I find that place boring." She looked around, frowning at the lack of her house's members. "Has my house fallen?"
"No, we couldn't pick up the members of your house," Draco told her. "They're under quarantine. It's another wizard flu year."
She nodded and floated down in front of him, touching his stomach. "My, a healthy guardian." She smiled at him and saw him for what he was. "Your kind still exist?"
Xander coughed as he finished pulling on dry pants. "We have for a very long time. No matter how many of your students try to kill us." He smiled. "Salazar demanded so we're doing our duty. Want to talk to the hat and make sure your students are getting sorted correctly?"
"Xander!" Percy hissed.
"She doesn't like my kind anyway," Xander told him.
Ravenaclaw floated closer. "I don't," she agreed. "I don't loathe you enough to harm you, but I don't personally like the fact that your kind had to be created. Our wands used to be powerful enough, but then...." She shrugged. "I don't know what happened."
"It's theorized that all the repressing we had to do because of the onslaught of Christianity backed up the flood," Draco told her. "That it sent shockwaves down into the pure magic and brought the chaos magic more to the front, possibly even made it stronger."
She nodded. "That sound plausible. And a Slytherin no less. I'm impressed. Salazar never had a head for theory." She looked at Xander again. "You are a teacher?" He nodded. "Of?"
"Demonology, alternate defense."
"Oh. We teach that?" He nodded. "Since when?"
"Since about sixteen years ago," Xander told her. "When the Slayer had to go to Hogwarts to stop an asshole from killing everyone there." He crossed his arms. "Do you know how many of us are in your house now?" She glared at him. "Statement of fact, the families forgot. We are here, and not even trying to take over like some have thought."
"I see." She nodded at him. "May I see your most recent memories?"
"Only if you stay out of my love life," he said dryly, submitting to her. She put a hand on his forehead and closed his eyes so he could see what she did. "Hey, not that."
She laughed. "A brother of the spirit, if not the flesh," she told him. "A Gryffindor. I'm sure he'll love you."
Xander grinned. "Salazar liked me enough."
She laughed again. "I can see why. He was always fond of your sort. Give me the hat please." Iggy handed it to her. "A potion's person and an alchemist in Gryffindor?" she said in amazement.
He nodded. "The hat said I didn't have the personality for Slytherin. One of my kids will get in there. I'll have my uncle make sure of it," he said with a quick grin for Draco.
"I'm sure I can train one to be suitable that way," he agreed.
Ravenclaw shook her head. "This modern world is strange. I'm glad I don't live in it anymore." She put on the hat and listened to its tale of woe at how Salazar had threatened it so very badly. "I'm sure you'll be fine," she told it. "Show me the recent ones you've sorted into mine." She saw and smiled. "Yes, that is what I wanted." She gave it one last instruction and handed it over. "It was correct for my house. Salazar was always fussy." Draco choked on his spit. "You never knew that?"
"That's not the word I would have chosen," he told her. "Do you know where Hufflepuff was heading? The map doesn't show her."
"Germany," she said with a shrug. "That's all I know. She liked the woods, they were still more pure and she could find her creatures over there." She looked at Percy. "I'm surprised you're a Gryffindor, but then again it's probably a family matter." He nodded, smiling at her. "What's the Dark Forest?"
"A place where Hufflepuff would have felt right at home," Melvin told her. "It's got all sorts of creatures. Good ones, bad ones."
"Man-eating spider ones," Draco butted in. "The occasional death eater." Ron grinned at him from his spot on the edge of the group. He had to catch up so didn't get a spot in the tents last night.
"Who put those there?"
"The current groundskeeper," Xander told him. "Wonderful man named Hagrid."
She shook her head. "Must have been a Hufflepuff."
"I think he might have been a Gryff," Melvin told her. "I never asked him, but then again he doesn't like to talk about those days. He was accused of something he didn't do."
"May I see?" He nodded but his father shook his head. "No?"
"That was long before his time. It was after mine, but during Draco's."
"I know," Ron told her. "You can view mine. Hagrid and I are close." She floated over and touched his forehead, then he sighed. "Not those."
"You dated a slayer?"
"And bred with her," Ron said sarcastically. "Triplets no less."
She grimaced. "Those Watchers don't have them, do they?"
"I'm training them," Xander told her.
"Good," she said, brightening up. "We don't want everything magical to end." She went back to Ron's memories, smiling at the man as he saw him. "I'm sure he's a wonderful groundskeeper. Is he well again?"
"He just got back a few days ago. He had a somewhat usual giant problem, an abscess in his stomach."
"I noticed," she agreed. "They do have those. Your Dumbledore is quite unusual. I would like to talk to the man some day."
"We're allowed to bring you back and bury you by Salazar," Xander offered. She looked down her nose at him. "Don't give me that look, we know about the prophecy. You're the second if you come."
"That's not how it went at all," she mused. She floated away. "Follow me. You'd have to bring it all with you. I won't leave her."
Draco was the last one into the cave, stopping to look at the carved protections. "We can get Bill to do this," he told himself, walking inside. He stopped when he saw the two sarcophagi. "Your mate?" he asked. She nodded. "Anyone we're looking for?"
She laughed. "One of his line," she said, pointing at Percy. "My favored student who become my world." She ran a hand over the stone covering her love. "She must come back with me."
"Let me start a fire and set up a temporary floo," Xander noted, walking out to do so. He called the Headmaster first, telling him, then Bill to get his expert opinion. He was with the gryphons and they didn't like being interrupted so Bill would be coming up later. He got out of Dumbledore's way, handing him the protection amulet he was wearing. The same one Melvin wore and the same one Draco wore, that way nothing could take them, or the baby, over. He doused the fire and went back inside, watching as Dumbledore chatted with Ravenclaw like she was his equal and currently corporeal. "Did you want us to make tea?" he asked dryly.
Dumbledore smiled at him. "I wouldn't mind some, Xander. Thank you."
"I'll help you, you still make dreadful tea," Percy told him, following him out. They found their stuff in front of the entrance and Percy simply restarted the fire with his wand, pulling out the tea things to brew some. "Ron, some water please?" he asked, handing over the pot.
"Watch out for the River Siren, she's lonely," Xander told him, sitting down beside Percy. Ron headed off in the wrong direction.
"Xander, you were quite disrespectful," Percy admonished. "She was a great witch."
"Who was human and had biases like everyone else. I saw the look she gave Draco." Percy glared at him. "What? At least it was in the open."
Draco clapped him on the back. "Very true. Other way, Ron." Ron headed in the other direction, going toward the river this time. He sat down with a grunt of pain, still not able to make it the last few inches without falling. "No more after this."
"They said they'd be able to strip the spell from you once you had popped," Xander reminded him. Draco pulled him closer, letting him rest his head on his shoulder. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. If this camping is doing to your legs what it's doing to my back, we could both use a long hot bath already."
Percy smiled at them. They were so cute. He pulled out his diary to make a few remarks, then left a long space for Dumbledore's comments. He'd get the Headmaster to fill those in soon enough.
Dumbledore walked into his office and smiled at the woman sitting in his chair. "It is rather comfortable, isn't it? I found it in a muggle shop believe it or not." McGonagall got out of his desk chair and sat in one of the other ones. "They've found Ravenclaw."
"Wonderful news," she said happily. "Did she make any changes?"
"Only to order the hat to never put another gryphon-born in her house again. Unless they're truly children that she could have tolerated." McGonagall rolled her eyes. "She's interested in coming back, but we'll have to move the complete tomb. Interested?"
"Me? What would I know about such things?"
"You'd have Bill Weasley to advice you. He said he doesn't like to move tombs, but he'll help." She shrugged. "Wonderful. The family is heading for Gryffindor tonight, he's around here somewhere, then they're going to Germany to look for Hufflepuff."
"Whyever did she go over there?"
"She liked the Black Forest," he said with a smile. "The map will guide them. I think she might be further south than any of them think. Xander has had the map taken from him by Mr. Malfoy so he can no longer get it backward." She snorted, but was smiling. "Percy is doing rather well with this assignment. He's already got me involved. I've told the boys that they're to call you for any further negotiations. Simone was actually happy to hear that. Apparently she's been anxious to know something that only you know."
"Indeed?" She smiled at the house elf bringing them afternoon tea. "How was Ravenclaw?"
"Buried with her mate. She liked Xander for having George. Liked Ron for having Buffy. Didn't like them for any other reason of course." He smiled at the elf and gave him a piece of candy, his daily wage. The poor thing had stuttered so bad to have the raise it was the least he could do. "Thank you." The elf nodded, leaving with his treat.
"You'll rot his teeth," she chastised, but she was smiling. "How is Ignatius faring?"
"Well enough. Ravenclaw was surprised that he was in Gryffindor as well."
"Not less than Salazar I'd bet. He so loved the nerdy potion masters in his day."
"He was one himself," he reminded her. "He saw a lot of himself in Ignatius and Draco. His temperament in one and his passion in the other. Apparently he even approved of small slips off the trail of pure blood, for the sake of keeping a strong line. "
"I thought it interesting that he remembered the Weasley forerunner." She took a sip of tea.
"Why wouldn't he have?" She choked. He smiled. "Are you all right?"
She nodded, wiping herself off. "They were originally his?"
"One side of the present family was his, Molly's if I remember right, but Arthur's side has always been Gryffindors, and the pain in his side probably. Potter's family used to be pure Gryffs as well I believe. Another pain in his side."
"So, the Potter/Weasley/Granger trio against Malfoy was history repeating itself?"
"Exactly!" he said happily.
She shook her head. "Poor Salazar. I almost feel sorry for him if he had to deal with those three."
Dumbledore shook his head. "You are still very naughty, my dear."
"I know, but it's true. Those three nearly drove me to drink. Numerous times."
"After their sixth year, I nearly drank," he admitted. "Thankfully, Xander was here to manage the problems in their seventh."
"Yes, that piece of work with getting Malfoy back to help him become a decent wizard was a nice bit of work, Albus."
He winked. "Why let Lucius have all the fun manipulating everyone? When he demanded, I even looked like I was adamant. It gave him a kick." He nibbled on a small sandwich. "Though even I didn't have any idea how far Mr. Malfoy would go toward the side of the light. It never pays to underestimate the effect Xander has on someone I suppose."
"Yes, pregnant, twice, a loving and overprotective father, nearly in for the teaching position here, and yet still somewhat dark and evil."
"Yes, but he picks his times to torture others. He's spent all summer torturing Xander into admitting he has to slow down, and has done quite well from what I've noticed."
"Even if George is a bit fussy about it?"
"He agrees with the underlying principle, he's lost himself in his work again. That's all that is." He picked up a cracker to nibble on. "Please eat, my dear Minerva." She picked up a sandwich to nibble on. "They'll work it out. I'm sure Mr. Malfoy has a plan for that as well." He smiled and picked up his tea cup to take another sip. "I should probably tease them with how late they waited for this task."
"No, Albus, you know how sensitive Xander is to criticism. He's likely to quit on you. Or never speak to you again."
"Yes, I suppose so. If I mention it in his review, he'll either beg that it wasn't his fault, or he'll take off his tie and hand it to me before I can say anything else and be packing before I can stand up and stop him." He took another sip. "I often wonder what he would have been like with decent parents."
Albus smiled. "Oh, indeed," he agreed.
"I'm just glad I never had to teach him. Can you imagine him living here and taking classes?"
"Glad you're not teaching William either?"
"Definitely. The pranks alone would be horrible. I'd have to start taking points off my own house."
Dumbledore laughed. "Do you know that Severus won't take points off the Malfoy children?" She snorted and rolled her eyes. "He got tired of the paperwork after Simone's second month."
"I don't see why, she's a perfectly *delightful* child," she said sarcastically. "Has she stopped swearing?"
"She's keeping it in a less public manner," he assured her. "A few choice words on the field every now and then, but she hasn't threatened a teacher since her second year. She's gotten quite focused on her future. Still wants to be a Prefect."
"Merlin help my house if she does," McGonagall sighed, finishing her tea and pouring herself more. "How is Ignatius holding up?"
"They've taken to teasing each other. Mentally and not. I'm expecting one of them to be grounded to the home tower by the holidays." He smiled. They were cute together.
"Are you going to let them be together after they're both sixteen?"
He shook his head. "The precedent is only married seventh years. We didn't let that nice Indian transfer couple stay together, even though they were married. They can sneak about if they want cuddle time, or get Xander to shield them on weekends. In their seventh year, they can present a request to have married quarters. Of course, I'll have to put them down by Severus."
"He'll kill you," she pointed out. "They keep interrupting him from what Tara said."
"Ignatius does have bad timing," he agreed dryly. "Hopefully by then he'll be more used to working alone or with his wife to lean on for knowledge he doesn't have yet. She's quite the taskmaster in the lab. Sets out schedules and everything."
"Then she's probably very good for him," she agreed. "How is his control?"
"Not a single lust bomb," he said with great appreciation. "Do you think we should resort students?"
"No, let it be a gradual change. Though Slytherin may need bigger quarters if none of the others will accept gryphon-born."
"It's been a while, but I don't think Gryffindor will object too much. He can see what they've done for his house. Ignatius himself will be very impressive to him, not to mention Ron, Harry, and Simone."
"Harry's with them?"
"He's joining them, wanted to see Gryffindor personally. Ignatius gave him the sword to carry out of tradition. He pulled it out, it should be him that requests that it be put back."
"Maybe things will settle down this year," she said, sounding hopeful.
"We have the Ravettena heir coming in. Shey Angela is not one of the most calm creatures."
"Her parents did as well. She needs the socializing outside of her group, also she'll be able to find some minions in the lower social circles."
"I do hope the Malfoys are careful."
He shook his head. "I'm not worried about that. Denver may fall for her, as she is very beautiful and from a suitable family, but Ravena won't have any problems with her. She's noted that the two groups won't be that close. I think they'll acknowledge each other as the Goddess in training that they are, but they won't be close. They'll have a subtle treaty of cooperation most likely. I'm more worried about Severus' niece. She comes from that sort of family and her mother may well force her to try and join Shey's group even though it won't suit her personality."
"I'm more worried about Potter."
"Ah, her," Dumbledore said with his usual calm assurance. "Have you heard of the Braxis guardians?" She nodded, sipping her tea. "They're thinking of offering her and her consort such a position."
McGonagall slowly put down her tea cup. "She would have all the power she wanted."
"And a strict set of rules that she'd have to follow," Dumbledore agreed with the closest he got to a cruel smirk. "I believe Xander recommended her to his ex." She started to laugh. "Think of it, all the power that she could ever want, but so controlled that she can't harm anyone."
"Which would be perfect for her," McGonagall agreed with a cruel smirk of her own. "How does her father feel?"
"I think he's about to come around. He thought she'd have to change over, but now he knows it's not so. Or, he's suggested this himself, give it to her and bind Ryan to her as her helper. Frustrate the both of them and keep them out of trouble until the day they die."
"That would be wonderful for the rest of us," she agreed. "Has anyone mentioned it to the girl herself?"
"Not yet. I think we're talking to all the adults first."
"Actually," Anyanka said as she manifested. "Just got done explaining it to her. She's so thrilled at the power she didn't even blink at the length of the rules." She smirked at them. "Even we want her out of the way, people, and the higher demons *love* Ryan." She winked at Albus. "Any other problem children of yours?"
"Only if you'd care to cure Mr. Black of whatever you did."
"Pffft. It was minor compared to what I could have done and he knows it." She chuckled evilly. "Is he bothering you?"
"He has a bit...surly since you cursed him with impotence," Albus told her. "He and Xander are about to get into it."
She laughed. "Xander will tell him about the joys of bending over and taking it. I didn't block him from that form of release after all. Just like he did to his women." She smiled at McGonagall. "Don't worry, Xander and George are going to be fixed, Draco has a plan. Oh, and that nice Madam Harracka said hello."
"I heard the boys had went to her," Albus told her. "Tea, Anyanka?"
"No thanks, I'm going to bug Spike to see the chicks. A black one, how wonderful for him." She winked and left.
"One of the chicks was a black one?" McGonagall asked, like nothing had happened.
"Indeed, but the mother won't force him out."
"Oh, a black male," she said in appreciation. "I'm sure some of the females about might like him."
"There's a black female being raised right now in Cairo. They'll probably get together."
"If not, there will be beautiful babies," she pointed out.
"All babies are beautiful to their parents."
"Feel thankful, there won't be any dances of love from Lucien."
"Or poison oak from Maeve," he agreed, and they clinked tea cups. They had survived the youth of Hogwarts. It could only get easier.
Xander looked up at Gryffindor's burial spot. They were on the spot. There was a marker. There wasn't any way into the actual grave site and it was supposed to have been larger than a marker. He looked at Iggy, who was rubbing a stone. "A clue?"
"An idea." Iggy walked over and put the stone on the marker, and the earth fell from under them. As soon as they landed, he got up and went to check on his uncle, sighing with relief.
"I cushioned our fall," Draco grunted as he stood up with some help. "Xander?"
"Here." He lit his wand and cane, looking around in the weak light. A small flame started in front of them, slowly moving toward them. "Ice!" he shouted before it could come near them.
"Do you always attack first?" an amused voice said from behind them. He cleared the ice off his fire elemental and let it finish lighting the torches. "Visitors." He looked around. "Snake's. Mine. Hufflepuff. No Ravenclaw?"
"They're ill," Draco told him. He touched his stomach to make sure everything was all right.
"Sit, boy. Now," Gryffindor ordered, calling a chair over. "Anyone bearing one of my heirs has to be treated more delicately. If I had known, I would have slowed your descent." He frowned as one of his people helped the boy into a chair. "What's all this about? I don't usually get many visitors without a purpose."
Iggy put his pack down and pulled out the Sorting Hat, standing back up again. "Salazar said it was fucked, you get to give it new orders as well," he explained.
"It might have something to do with me pulling this out to save the school," Harry noted, holding up the sword.
"What did you kill with that?" he asked, taking the sword from the boy.
"Snake's pet," Harry told him. "His heir kind of opened the Chamber of Secrets and tortured another of us, and part of the school."
"Wonderful. I knew I should have kicked his ass for that pet and the room," Gryffindor said dryly. "Let's see. Potters. Your families are merged," he told Ron. "Your families are merged," he told Draco. "Definitely all his though. Except for..." He looked at the children, then back at Malfoy. "How did they get into Gryffindor?"
"Ask the hat," Simone encouraged. "It put Iggy with us." She pointed at him.
Gryffindor looked at him. "A Potion's Mater, in *my* house? Snake must have shit bricks."
"Two. My wife's in there now that she's younger," Iggy said smugly. "The hat said I didn't have the personality, but we did promise at least one of our kids to Slytherin in the future."
"I'm sure he'll be happy with the pack of you." Xander snickered. "Okay, who are you? You're not one of us," the ghost demanded.
"No, I'm his father," he said, pointing at Iggy, "and secondary head of your house. You're about like I imagined you to be."
Gryffindor looked at Ron. "You head the house?" Ron nodded. "How?"
"He does all the punishment and the pranks," Ron noted, shrugging. "It works. We've both got kids being raised in the school."
"Damn, the school is going to fall in soon," he whined. He sat down and looked at the sword, then at the hat. "I should pierce you with this and end the magic," he told it. The hat squeaked in outrage. "Give me a clue. What the hell are you doing?" The hat moved up and sat on his head, telling him everything. When it was done, he groaned. "Oh, damn!" He looked around. "I'll miss this place."
"We can transport it back for you," Draco told him. Gryffindor looked at him. "I'm a Regent as well."
"It figures. Flaymols were always Regents."
"We're Malfoys now."
"You sure you want to keep that name, kid?" Draco shrugged. "It's your kids' lives."
Xander cleared his throat. "Don't threaten my adopted son, I tend to get pissed."
"Your kind do," Gryffindor agreed, but he was smiling. "Are you one of mine?"
"Sorry, I grew up on a hellmouth in America. I only came over after I found out I was gryphon- born. I teach demonology."
"Wonderful!" Gryffindor told him. "Alternate defense?" Xander nodded. "I always wanted to institute that, but the Watchers kept getting pissy and threatened to have us shut down. One or two of them were ours."
"Now we've got witches working in there," Xander told him.
"Even better. They deserve it." He looked at the kids who were so obviously his. "May I read your memories before I change my orders? And no, I'm not going to block any gryphon-borns from my house," he told Xander. "I'm not that petty. They're usually very protective." He winked at him. "Relax, kid, it radiates off you."
"We got done with Ravenclaw yesterday," Draco explained.
"Ah! No wonder. Is she coming back?"
"Yup. Slytherin is already back," Ravena told him with a smile. "Did you guys hate each other?"
"It was always more intolerance and unfriendly competition."
"What Draco and I have now," Ron noted.
"Probably, only a little less friendly than you two." Ron blushed. "It's not like that?"
"Contagion cuffs," Draco told him. "The next champion. His dead girlfriend did it to us."
"Was she insane?" he asked Ron.
Xander snickered. "Sorry, but you'd have to ask Buffy that herself."
"Blonde creature, mouthy, likes pink?" Gryffindor asked. Ron nodded, his mouth falling open. "I've seen her around on the astral plane. Better you than me, kid. I'd have tied her to the bed and fucked her raw once or twice when she started to babble. Slayer or not." He shook his head. "Find a good one next time: nice, willing, soothing, likes to give backrubs. Mine was like that and she made me happy for many years."
Draco laughed. "You think that's odd? Not only is Iggy what he is, we're living in Snake's old house raising Gryffs from there." He shifted as his daughter kicked. "Yes, dear, I'll feed you soon."
Percy handed over the supply pack. "Eat, don't give her a complex about her weight already."
"She?" Gryffindor smiled. "We're going to have a female champion?" Draco nodded. "Wonderful news." He looked at Simone, then at Xander. "Though I see you've already got some experience with that sort of training."
"He trained us as well," Harry told him. "All of us but Percy."
"Interesting. May I?" Harry nodded so he dipped into his memories, frowning at what he saw. "Who the fuck was that?"
"Voldemort?" Melvin asked. His father looked at him. "He's not coming back. Uncle Xander and Uncle Harry took out his genetics. They can't find anything of him to bring back."
"Very true, it also killed his soul." He looked at Xander. "You did what in the entryway to the school?"
"He was coming for the kids. You'd rather I did something smaller and possibly lost?" He shrugged. "It was the best option I had at the time and I fixed everything."
"We'll see. You sit as well," he said once he noticed the cane. "Stupid git."
"Fuck you," Xander told him. "I'm fine."
"We've had this argument all summer long," Draco told him. "Salazar told me to teach him how to be a proper elder and he was doing so well until this trip." He looked at Xander. "Sit, before I turn your legs to jelly." Xander glared at him and flipped him off. "Cute, but we're not very compatible," he said dryly. "Even you've admitted that it'd be a power struggle between us."
Ron coughed. "McGonagall suggested that you two put George between you to solve his problems." Both men looked thoughtful, then shook their heads.
"Draco's toy material," Xander told him. "He'd have to be the creamy filling in the sandwich." Draco nodded, happy with that thought. He could do that. "Of course, we'd have to tie him down so he had no chance of climbing on top of anyone."
Gryffindor shook his head. "Boys," he sighed. "Sit, stubborn. This is going to take a while and you look like you're in pain."
"Flying sores," Xander told him, sitting against the wall. Draco tossed him an orange. "Thanks, son."
Gryffindor looked at Ron. "Do you actually get any work done?"
Ron nodded. "I teach Defense. I only see them after hours."
Harry laughed. "And even then you hide half the time."
"It's important to spend time with my kids. That's why we've got our own family room," Ron told him. "How was mum?"
"Fussing about my head and wrist, the same as she was last week." He looked at Gryffindor. "Do you need more from me?"
"No, I think I'd like the stable one." Percy smiled. "Yes, you. Why were you put in mine?"
"Family allegiance I suppose," Percy told him, walking over to where the ghost floated. He closed his eyes and saw everything that the ghost saw. When the images stopped he moved back. "You can touch any of the children that you like. My own son is a Hufflepuff and the darker haired red one is in Slytherin like her father." Ravena waved.
"Sure, why not. Let's see the modern face of the house." He started with Simone and laughed so loud it scared the fire elemental. As soon as it started toward Xander, he froze it again. "Don't do that. It's not that strong." He freed it again and sent it back to the back room. "Now you, boy." Denver cocked an eyebrow but stepped forward. Gryffindor shook his head as he moved to Iggy, then he blushed. "Young man!"
"Iggy, quit thinking smutty thoughts," Xander ordered.
"Sorry, she's in my head thinking them at me," Iggy said with a light blush. He thought something at his wife then grinned. "She'll behave until you're gone, sir."
"Thank you. Good girls don't think such thoughts."
"Yeah, but I like her naughtiness," Iggy told him. He felt the hand go into his head and rummage around in there.
"Interesting," Gryffindor said as he pulled back. "If I may?" he asked Draco, who shrugged. He tested his memories, then went over to Xander, looking down at him. "Are you going to argue?"
"It's been done to me recently," Xander said, struggling to his feet, but smashing a few pieces of the orange. He licked his hand off as his memories were searched.
Gryffindor pulled back and looked at him. "You went how long with those ghosts?"
"Sixteen years," Ron told him. "Never said a word, never acted any more odd than normal."
"Beats the asshole when I got taken over," Simone muttered. Draco nodded. "Daddy, how did sex scare him off?"
"He thought that mutual pleasure was unheard of and a horror story," Draco told her, slurping the juice off his apple. "He was so prudish even the women he attacked didn't have lights on in the room and I suspect he had a premature ejaculation problem as well."
"No wonder. God, I'd die with a lover like that."
Draco smiled and shrugged. "My mother wasn't that interested in it. She was satisfied with the power and the life he gave her. She didn't need sex and was smart enough not to pine away for it." He handed her the apple and stood up. "Can you fix the bloody hat?"
"Definitely," Gryffindor agreed. "Am I being moved?"
"If you want. We recently found your house elves and your library," Iggy told him. Gryffindor looked at him, looking sad. "They've found new positions, them and their children. The libraries are being collected and put together."
"That'll be some damn big room," Gryffindor told him. "Snake's libraries must take up a whole floor if you put them together."
"We found nine."
"Pfft. He's got like fifty of his little multi-rooms around the school. Each one has specific stuff and a section where he can find anything he needs no matter what's going on. He considered it insurance."
"I would as well," Draco agreed. "Information is the cure to all evils, or goods."
Gryffindor nodded. "True, but so is training." He nodded at Xander. "Just ask him."
"He trained me as well," Draco told him. He stole one of Xander's orange sections. "Thank you."
"Take it if you want it," Xander offered. "You're the needy one."
"I hate that word."
"Okay, you're the one who's got great demands being placed on his body by the future princess of the school, who needs food more than the rest of us combined, and who could probably use a nap as well," Xander conceded. "Better?"
"Much, though a bit wordy. Pregnant would have been fine."
"You two are amusing," Gryffindor told him. "It's easy to see why Snake liked you both. The notes he left were amusing to say the least." He took the sword and stuck it back up the hat, making it squeak. Then he put it on and gave it explicit instruction. The hat bowed its head once he took it off. "Got it?" The hat nodded. "Thank you. I think the school with thrive with those instructions." He handed it back to Iggy, who carefully bundled it up. "Okay, now what?"
"Now we call the tomb movers and ask if you know where Hufflepuff was heading," Xander told him. "She's farther away and we've only got a week and a half."
"She's was headed to Germany, then heading south after she visited her forest friends. I haven't seen her about on the astral plane in years, but I'm assuming she's somewhere between Gaul and Greece. She traveled by an odd crossbreed unicorn/centaur/hippogriff creature." Draco looked at him. "Don't ask, really, just don't," he said, shaking his head. "How painful will this be?"
"It depends on what happened to your body," Draco told him.
"It's still sitting slumped over my desk," Gryffindor admitted.
"Then it shouldn't be too hard," Xander told him. "Want an ornate grave or all of this and a grave?"
"You guys can have my working materials." He watched as Xander opened a portal and an older woman walked through. "See, that's what you were all supposed to be like," he said happily.
"I tried, for many years," McGonagall told him with a smile. "Are we ready?"
"Yup, and he's not even buried," Xander said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "How is my mate?"
"Still in the lab," she told him. Iggy snorted. "You might want to fix his present potion problem then lock him out, Ignatius."
"With pleasure. I'd like to talk to my father again as well." He gathered up everything. "Come on, kids, we'll use the portal."
"I'm going with them," Simone told him. Xander looked at her. "You'll need the protection."
"You still have an assignment to do," Melvin reminded her. "I'm going and he trained me as well, Si. Go ahead and go."
"Fine," she sighed, gathering up her pack. "Next summer can we have a longer adventure?"
"I'm not leaving," Ravena told them.
Harry looked at her. "You're leaving my son at the mercy of Agatha?" She quickly grabbed everything and nearly ran through the portal. "Proper presentation of the suggestion," he said with a smile. "It works well with Agatha as well." He crossed his arms. "Need me?"
"Only if you *want* to fly that long," Xander told him. Harry shook his head. "Then go stay safe and call the people on the letter I gave you."
"I already did, they're coming next week," Harry said, rolling his eyes. "You're such a worry- wart."
"Yay. You knew that shortly after you met me," Xander reminded him with a smile. "Remember, if you fall, they'll have to go to Draco, who can't play in that condition, or your children." Harry grimaced and packed up, heading through the portal. "It works on the *whole* family," Xander said dryly. He looked at the remaining people. Ron, Draco, Denver, Percy, and Melvin. "Anyone else want to bail? It's going to be a long, hard flight to make it to Germany tonight."
"You could stay tonight," Gryffindor offered.
"He's open to being possessed again," Percy noted. "How many other spirits are there?"
"Two or three, and I noticed, thank you." He smiled at him, then at Xander. "Do you not know what a shield is?"
"I have my best one up," Xander told him. "I'm a builder."
"Oh." Gryffindor nodded, that made sense. "No wonder you got picked to carry the message from the asshole. It shines out of you."
"Then you can approach Hufflepuff first," Percy told him with a smile. "It would be fine. I'm sure we can construct a barrier of some sort." Draco nodded. "You can do that?"
"Easily. I had to do one around my stomach." He looked around. "Is here good for you?"
"There's a bedroom in the back," Gryffindor offered. "It's not like I need it."
"Thank you." Draco grabbed Xander and his things, leading him to the back. "I need a nap and you'll keep her calm enough for me to sleep."
Percy smiled at his former head. "They're so cute. They snuggle." He walked away with the two boys. His brother was still such a boy.
She shook her head. "More students are like him these days than not," she told him. "That's why we sent Xander to annoy everyone."
"I heard that," Xander called.
"I meant for you to, dear," she retorted. They shared a laugh. "He really is a wonderful guardian, if a bit extreme."
"I noticed," he said dryly. "Did he really fix the entryway?"
"Mostly. There's a few spaces where the walls are a bit thinner in substance. It's nearly as good as it was." She followed him back to his work area, finding the skeleton on the desk, just like he had said. "What sort of tomb did you want?" she asked, pulling out some paper and a pen to make notes. "We can build it however. Ravenclaw is getting her own glade to the East. Salazar's is to the South."
"Then I'll want North and I'd like most of this. Though the school can have the books if they want," he said graciously, sitting on the edge of his desk. "Nothing *too* ornate, but suitable."
"White marble?" she suggested.
"Tan if you've got it, gray if not." She nodded and made notes. "Maybe some gold trim?"
"We'll have to put a sign on the front with the school colors," she assured him. "All underground and inaccessible to the students unless you invite them down. That way no vandalism can occur and no one can try and call you back like they did Slytherin."
"Is that what happened?"
She nodded. "I'm assuming you saw Voldemort and his merry band of imbeciles?" He smiled and nodded. "Some of his remaining followers called Slytherin back to get help to make a new Lord of the Dark Side. They wanted the comfort zone that having one would give them. By the time the calling was finished, most of them were dead and Slytherin was very upset with what had befallen his house."
"No doubt. Having someone like Ignatius Spenser in there must have been more than enough." She laughed. "Or that Voldie guy I guess. Ambitious?"
"He was half-wizard, half-muggle and hated that second half of him so he vowed to destroy any like him because he couldn't destroy himself."
"Hating what you are so you hate those like you. Wonderful. I wonder if that's what's wrong with the anti-gryphon-born Ravenclaws."
"Possibly. There are records that have been found. A number of families would be stunned to see what was in their heritage, even the supposed pure-bloods."
"There's a Veela in mine a few generations back," Draco said from the doorway. "He's asleep. What can I do to help?"
"Go rest, boy. She's got to be killing your back."
Draco shrugged. "It's not the first time and I'd rather be useful and let the others nap for now. I'll sleep tonight."
"Go to bed, Mr. Malfoy," McGonagall said primly. "You do need your rest and I will not have you tiring yourself out and endangering your or her health." Xander yelled. "See? He does better when you're there."
"Get off me!" Melvin yelled.
"Xander! Let him go!"
"Go stop that," Gryffindor told him. Draco nodded and walked back in, taking Xander's hands off Melvin's head. "Interesting times, these days."
"You have no idea. This is the calmest year we've had in the last thirty or so. We're hoping for a normal year, and a quiet one, this upcoming school year."
He laughed. "Sure. I'm sure if you wish hard enough, all the students will disappear as well."
She smiled at him. "I've thought of it. The children between Percy and Ron were most trying." He laughed some more. "Pranks no less."
"It's the family's nature. Their mother's line are Snake's all the way down to the Middle Ages I think. Their father's line has always been like that. Pranks, beasts, or guardians."
"With seven children, they got some of each," she told him. He nodded. "Now then, what about the structure itself?"
He shrugged. "It's a cave. I could do with a proper tomb." She made more notes. "Can I have some of my books?"
She smiled. "Safekeeping is the most important thing," she agreed.
He smiled back. Too bad he was dead. He could have stood her.
Xander and Draco dragged their tired butts up the stairs the day that the students were coming back and fell into seats, Draco presenting the hat to the Headmaster. "It's done," Xander told him. "I'm never taking on another task for the school again."
Dumbledore looked at them, then at the spotless hat. "What happened to you two?"
"She was off by Charlie," Xander told him. "Runaway steamer."
"Fucking dragon," Draco agreed. "Not to mention that she wanted to be burned and scattered on that nice preserve, and could we arrange it because she so loved the creatures." He pulled something out of his pocket and released it. "There, you're home," he told her. She smiled at him. "The others are outside, go bother them, please?" She gave him a pat and left. "She babbled at the baby the whole way back," he told the Headmaster, who was looking stunned.
"Not to mention Murphy found us and she talked to him, upsetting him greatly no less, so I'm not sure where my baby is. She upset the dragon Charlie was trying to calm down because it almost snorted her like a drug." He smiled. "Charlie's boss wants to have words with you as well." He stood up with a groan. "I'm going to go bathe. I'll be at the greeting feast if I'm awake."
"You didn't have to wait this long," Dumbledore told them.
Xander pointed at Draco. "I was locked in a bed for the first month of break, talk to him! This is not my fault and I'm not taking the blame for it! Fuck that shit! For that matter, go to hell. Get another set of people to do these things for the school." He stomped off.
"He's in a bit of pain," Draco said more decorously. "Not to mention nearly possessed again, three different times, and almost eaten. Charlie's not fond of him at the moment either. The dragon ran off the preserve and right for Xander. Who of course defended the rest of us and nearly killed the, to Charlie, poor thing. So they got into a shouting match. At least until Charlie saw Xander's back. Then he shouted for whole different reasons. It's a damn good thing we like you," he said as he stood up. "Did I get the job or not?"
"You have a letter sitting at home."
"We foresaw you having problems. Your son opened it and tore up your library." Draco sat back down again, looking disappointed. "It was told to him, when someone saw the pieces of paper, that we sent you the wrong letter, you got a copy of the other chap's letter." Draco perked up. "Yes, my boy, you did get it. Clean up so you can be at the feast. We'll save you your usual spot."
"Wonderful, I'll be at my house so I can use my own tub. Are my children on the train?"
"Yes, they are," Dumbledore assured him, smiling at him. "Harry got them on at his stop."
"Even better." Draco stood back up. "Anything else?" Dumbledore started to look troubled. "What?"
"Ignatius is having a problem. You might want to stay here. Use the Prefect's bathroom." Draco nodded and headed that way while he told Ignatius his orders.
Iggy and Raena nodded Simone to get the next compartment. They were a little over halfway done and this hadn't been so bad. They had been given treats and a plate of snacks by Professor Lupin, who had stayed to gossip for a bit. They had fresh sodas in the cooler. They hadn't had any problems so far. So of course one was coming. In the form of a smallish student. Raena looked up and nudged Iggy. "Honey, check her over. And close the door."
Iggy pulled his wand and looked the pale, shaking girl over, frowning at what he found. "How long have you had the heart condition?" he asked her.
She shrugged, looking helpless. "I don't have one."
"You do now and it's a bad one. A fucked valve." He checked her over again. "Raena, how hard is it to jump from a moving target to a stable one?"
"Impossible," she told him. "You'll have to have a steady spot to start from. It's the limit." She came over and made the girl sit down. "Is Poppy back yet?"
"Yeah, and waiting on our annual problem," Iggy admitted. "Honey, I have to know. Have you *ever* been diagnosed with a heart problem?" She shook her head slowly. "Have you ever been seen by a doctor before?" She shook her head. "Okay, then I'm going to have to take you to the school, and probably on to the hospital from there." She shook her head, a little more firmly this time. "Why not?"
"My little sister's on the train," she said miserably. "She's scared."
"Dear, we'll put her with our family. She won't be hurt with them watching out for her. I promise, Ravena and Ron will watch out for her." The girl brightened up some, but more color bleached from her face. "Which compartment?"
"I was sitting with her."
"Simone!" Simone opened the door and Raena looked at her. "Denver, get someone to stop the train, we'll need to teleport her to the school right away. Simone, get her sister and her things to the family's compartment. Watch over her." Simone nodded. "Honey, did you have any medicines?"
"Two," she said, handing the sheet her mother had given her to them. "My mum makes them. She's a healer."
"Okay." Iggy looked around. "Raena, can you handle this?" She nodded. "Then have the train stop, I'll be back as soon as possible. I'll call if I can't come back right away and will get on at the last stop."
"Deal," she agreed. They lurched. "I think that's your stop."
Iggy picked the girl up. "Trust me, okay? I'm a healer in training and I work directly under Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape." He heard the instructions in his head and smiled. "All right." He handed the girl down to Professor Black. "Give me ten unless Raena says otherwise. I may have to brew her something, we're not sure yet. She can handle the dosings if I can't get back. I may be on at the last stop, I'll tell her." He took the girl back once he was on the ground and caught his breath. Then he looked to the northwest and took her to the school, landing in the Great Hall. "Madam, she's got a heart valve going wrong. It's backing up." He set her on her feet as the school nurse came down. "I don't have a thumbtack at the hospital."
"That's fine. We'll send her on. Can you call her parents?"
"I don't know her parents." He handed over the form she had given him. "Her mother's a healer and makes them for her."
"It's probably the stress," Poppy assured him. "I know her, she's at St. Vincents, in Wales. Can you find it?"
"Can I floo?"
"You may," she agreed. He hurried off. "Come on, dear, we'll get you settled in and check you over. "Iggy, her name's Mary," Poppy called after him. She led the girl upstairs, getting some help from the Headmaster. "You poor thing, got too excited?"
"My sister's joining me here," she told her.
Iggy came out of the floo at St. Vincents and looked around. He walked over to a nurse who was talking. "Hi, I need to see one of the nurses about her daughter."
"Kid, you can wait," the nurse said rudely.
"Bitch, her daughter damn near died on the train to school," Iggy said harshly. Both nurses looked at him. "I'm Professor Snape's assistant and the girl's got a heart condition. Her mother's a healer, is supposed to work here. Daughter's blonde, Ravenclaw, pale as a sheet? Mother's name is Mary?"
"You're a very rude young man."
"I'd rather be rude than have the girl die of a heart valve backing up. Can you please steer me toward the right department?"
"Try personnel," the other nurse told him. "I don't recognize her right off." She gasped, covering her mouth. "I bet it's Mary in L&D. Personnel is down the hall, toward the front," she said, pointing. "It says it on the door."
"Thank you. I apologize for my earlier rudeness, but time is of the essence, as you should know." He walked away, his school robes flowing behind him.
"I should report him. Professor Snape would never put up with such shite."
"He was a Gryff as well," the other nurse noted. She smiled. "He was in the paper and is the prodigy they have about there."
"It doesn't excuse him from having decent manners. All those like him are horrible people."
"Just because he's brilliant doesn't mean he's automatically an arsehole," the second nurse admonished. One of the senior nurses walked past and they pretended to do something. "Madam Henderson?" The senior nurse came back. "Do you know a healer named Mary with a daughter in Ravenclaw?"
"Yes, I do, my own daughter is in there." She pulled out a picture to show off her two daughters. "Why?"
"Snape's pet was just here babbling rudely about a heart condition. We sent him to Personnel," the first nurse told her. "We didn't know it was you."
"Thank you, ladies. Please give the young woman in room twelve a bed bath and change her room." She headed that way as quickly as she could. She found Iggy with a small portal. "Oh, good, it's not mine." She looked at the girl. "I know her, her mother's one of the midwives. What happened?"
"We were giving mold potions on the train and she came in, pale, shaking, weak, nearly panting. I found her valve backed up. Do you know her mother well enough to get her here, or there?" His eyes unfocused. "They're bringing her to St. Mungos via portkey."
"I know her," the personnel witch told him, giving him a smile. "Thank you, Ignatius."
"Not a problem. Please do apologize to the rude nurse who told me sit down and behave for me. I might have been a bit snappish, but I wanted to find her mother as soon as possible."
"That's not a problem," the head nurse told him, giving him a fond pat. "It's almost expected that you won't put up with stupidity with who's training you." She smiled. "Thank you, young man." He unfocused his eyes and sighed. "Can't get back on?"
"The next stop's in two hours," Iggy told her, shrugging. "I'm heading back to the school unless she needs my help getting there."
"No, I think we can handle it," the senior nurse told him. He nodded and walked away. "Such a nice young man."
"A bit impatient, but he is still young and not used to emergency situations. I'm sure he'll learn, what with how things go up there." The personnel nurse called upstairs to get the midwife to her office. They could send her right on.
Iggy reappeared in the infirmary. "I can't teleport onto a moving train," he said at the look Madam Pomfrey gave him. "So, I now have two hours." He grabbed his head. "Raena just ran into the kids Agatha's been herding as well. She might be done by then." He sat down. "You'll be getting a letter, I snapped at a rude bitch." Madam Pomfrey zapped him. "Sorry, but she refused to help me find her mother."
"Did you try asking?"
"I did and I got told to wait." He snorted. "As if, as daddy says." He pulled out a candybar and opened it, nibbling. "Need anything done around here?"
"Go check the dungeon with Hagrid. He's finishing the scraping today. I don't understand why the caretaker couldn't do it."
"Because he was doing a room a day," Iggy said dryly as he slid off the bed. "You sure?"
"I'm certain. Go help Hagrid and be useful that way for now. Then return to the train, young man."
"It's not like I ride it most years," he told her as he walked away. He found Hagrid in their scraping room, dissolving the last of the pile. "More rooms?"
"We've got everything done but the three highest rooms in each tower," Hagrid said from behind his mask. He pointed at the spare one and Iggy put it on. "Can't find the caretaker."
"He's probably at the pub," Iggy said, picking up the spare sprayer to hose down the mold and make it go away. "All of the towers?" Hagrid nodded. "Are they scraping now?"
"They're on lunch. I'll have all the inhabited places done by tonight." He patted Iggy on the head. "Good work with that girl."
"I snapped at a nurse at the hospital," Iggy told him. Then he grinned. "Rude bitch at that, she deserved it. I'll take my punishment when she writes to someone here." The group of mold in front of him made a squishy noise and sucked into itself. "The dosings are going well." More mold came down from the airvent and he started on that, letting Hagrid get the older stuff. "What do these creatures usually do?"
"Make nests and keep 'em clean," Hagrid told him. "Usually they use this stuff to make nests." Iggy looked at him and he grinned behind his mask. "I only saved a box and it's out in back of my hut. I've got that attic space."
"I'll make you another few doses of the mold potion," Iggy told him. Hagrid laughed. "Seriously. Do you want to end up back in the hospital? Speaking of which, did you get a visit by your half- brother? I met him in Venice when I was dosing everyone."
"Yeah, thank you," Hagrid told him, smiling and nodding. "We had a good visit we did."
"I was happy to help," Iggy told him. "I remembered you had mentioned him." He noticed a nose sticking out of the vent. "I think they're wanting a break, Hagrid."
Hagrid waded through the sticky mess and came over to pet one. "I saved you some," he assured it. "It's in the house. We'll go back there tonight." It squeaked and headed back. "Don't dissolve any more, Iggy. They'll want more'n what I've got."
"As long as it doesn't stay in the school," the headmaster said from the doorway. "Ignatius, why are you still here?"
"Because I can't teleport onto a moving object. It doesn't work."
"Oh." He nodded, smiling. "Wonderful. The train's running a little early. You'll need to get there in about twenty minutes. I suggest you shake yourself off first." He left them there.
Iggy handed back the mask and the extra sprayer. "Have fun arranging your attic tonight, Hagrid. I'll see you at the feast." He gave him a pat on the back and left.
Hagrid shook his head. "It's not a chore, the boy doesn't understand how I feel about you guys," he told the little creature, putting the extra stuff away. "Though I will probably have to rearrange a spot if you want to stay for a long time."
Iggy got on the train as soon as it stopped and walked back to their room, sighing in relief as he walked in. "My life sucks," he told his wife, stealing a kiss.
"You smell like mold," she told him, pushing him away. "Did you roll in it?"
"No. Since I had some time, I went to help finish it off. Except for what Hagrid's going to have in his attic for the scrubbers."
"I'll make sure we have enough for him," she said. She patted him down. "Iggy, love, where's your wand?"
"Shit." He looked around then felt for it. He called his father, telling him what had happened. Xander grunted and passed on the message, he could hear him relaying it to his uncle. He got a nice message of grumbling. "Thanks, guys." He looked at her again. "They'll try to summon it. If it won't summon, I'll have to do it from here."
"We're *miles* away from where you got off," she told him. "Or it could have gone anywhere. Some muggle might have it."
"Then I guess I'll have to get a new one," he said miserably. He liked his wand. He took off his robe and bundled it up, putting it into a plastic bag. He heard a message. It hadn't summoned to the school. Draco had told someone in the Ministry. Oh, there was going to be hell to pay for this. He hung his head and she gave him a pat. "It's not at the school."
"Accio Iggy's wand," she called, using her own. Nothing came flying at them. "Sorry, Iggy." He sighed and rummaged through the bag, pulling out his book case and putting it into his pant's pocket. "Do yo want to use mine out the window?"
"We're coming up on a muggle settlement," Iggy told her. "Plus, there's the distance problem." He leaned against her side. "Did you get everyone?"
"Yes, dear, and I heard what you said to that nurse too. She did deserve it. I'll stick up for you."
"Thanks." He wrapped his arms around her waist and snuggled in. This was going to be a rare feeling in the coming year.
"Fourteen more months and twenty-three days," she soothed, running a hand through his hair. He nodded and gave her a squeeze. "Help me clean up and we'll cuddle in the family's compartment."
"Okay." He helped her clean everything up, covering the remaining potion, about a dose worth, and put everything away. Once they got to the school, they'd have to get everything back to the school anyway. "Want to stay in here?"
"You know it's not allowed," she told him. Someone knocked on the door and it opened. "Hello, Auror Smith." She had been with them this trip to protect the royal cousin. "He lost his wand when we offloaded that student."
"I heard." She smiled at him. "We're looking for it, Ignatius. Don't worry."
"It looks irresponsible of me," he told her.
"It does, but she probably knocked it out of your pocket as you lifted her. It happens to healers all the time in the hospitals." She closed the door and sat down. "You two look very comfortable with each other. Are you happy together?" They nodded. "No sudden itchings?"
"Just the desire to be sixteen already," Iggy said bitterly. He looked up. "I want to do more than cuddle you."
"I know, Iggy. I'm not fond of this waiting thing myself." She smiled at him. "We'll deal with it. I promise." He nodded and lowered his head again. "It's hard. We have another fourteen and two-third months to wait until he's legal."
"I heard. I was sent back here to chaperone you if he got back on." She settled in. "Do you need any help in here?"
"No, we've got it all. We'll have to have some help if he doesn't have his wand when we get back, everything has to go back into the dungeons and it's a fairly small room."
"I can probably do that once Hagrid has the students on the lake," she offered.
"Are you staying the whole year?" Iggy asked her.
"Just the first few weeks to make sure nothing happens. Do you think your sister would be willing to help her and make sure she's fine?"
"My cousin?" Iggy suggested. She nodded, smiling at him. "Ravena probably would, and anyone that Ravena protects, Simone does."
"No one messes with Simone," Raena put in. "You're more than welcome to suggest it to Ravena. I'm sure she wouldn't mind. The girl is a first year after all and Ravena's going to be a second year."
"Thank you. I wasn't sure if her father would mind or not."
"Probably not. He's made sure Denver knows she's off-limits for his teasing and attempts at seduction, but protecting her is different."
"Thank you. I'll give you a few moments alone while I ask." She left them, making sure the compartment locked behind her.
Iggy tipped his head up and got a long kiss to soothe his frazzled nerves. He hated emergencies. This was why he was a potion person, not a true healer. She heard that thought and smiled at him, giving him a quick peck on the nose. "I know, love, but that's why we're us." She sat down with him, letting him snuggle into her side. Someone tapped on the door and she used her wand to open it, admitting Lupin and Black. "Didn't you get one already?"
"We're doing a hand check," Black said, looking at Iggy. "Where's your other one?" It waved from her other side.
"Maybe you should sit up."
"I lost my wand when I got that student off the train," Iggy told them, forcing himself to sit up. "We're waiting on word." He watched the auror walk past and heard the yelling. "That sounds like a fight." He stood up and headed after the auror, going to stop the idiots. He found one against each wall in the compartment and a girl lying on the floor. "Sweetie, are you okay?" he asked, helping her up. She was bleeding and bruised. "Auror Smith, can you take her back to my wife?" She nodded. "Thanks. Who started it?"
"They did. They were picking on her from what I saw. Then she lost it and slammed them against various things." She smiled at him. "Have fun with the broken ribs, kid."
"They're going to have to suffer until we get to the school, I don't have my wand," he pointed out with a smile. The boys groaned as they fell to the floor and seats. "Which house are you!" he demanded.
"Mine," Agatha said from behind him. Iggy looked at her. "All but one."
"Wonderful, they've got broken ribs, send them to the infirmary once we're back. The girl they were bothering is back with Raena." He walked away, heading back to assist his wife. "I've never seen such stupidity on the train," he said as he walked in. He took the ice pack from the girl's hand and sat down to ice her scraped knee. "I've got this one, let her check your ribs." The girl nodded, giving him a smile. "First year?" She nodded again, starting to sniffle. "It's all right. Now you know some nice people. I'm Iggy, that's Raena, we work with Professor Snape. We're Gryffs but we hang out with anyone who likes us."
"Iggy? Does your father teach?" He nodded. "I met him," she said with a smile. "Am I all right?"
"As far as I can tell, but we're going to take you to the infirmary first thing," Raena told her.
"The boat ride is done for a reason," Iggy told her. "Even I had to take it. I met everyone at the docks, but I had to take it." He smiled at the girl. "We'll have Madam Pomfrey waiting on you at the doors, all right?" The girl nodded. "What's your name?"
"Oh, hey, your dad knows my Uncle Draco." She nodded, looking a little bit upset. "Uncle Draco's very nice, much better than he was as a student. He'll protect you."
"He hates my father, he threatened him."
"Yeah, but he doesn't go after kids, so you're fine," Iggy assured her. "He'll protect you on principle if nothing else. Besides, we're all but adopted by him as alternate kids. If we like you, he'll like you. Introduce yourself tonight after the feast so he knows who you are and everything will be fine."
"Draco's in a bit of a temper at the moment," Raena reminded him.
"He won't take it out on her," Iggy assured her. "Uncle Draco doesn't hurt children."
"Good point." Raena blew a kiss, making Iggy smile. The girl looked up at her. "He's my mate. We're officially married."
"Wow," she breathed. "My mum said she hoped I'd find a spouse, but not that young."
Iggy laughed. "It's all my fault, I couldn't wait," he explained. He felt a blistering comment hit his mind and handed over the ice pack to defend himself. Raena butted in, telling them that he had started out nice, but the cranky nurse had gotten to him. And he had apologized. Xander said he'd be talking to them that night and Iggy sighed, but told him to get Madam Pomfrey stationed by the doors. Xander grimaced so Iggy reminded him what he was like in an emergency. He had done the best he could. He had started out polite and remembered his manners up until the point he had been thwarted. Xander agreed and more calmly reminded him that they'd be talking later that night. Iggy agreed and cut him off before he could say anything else. Then his head rocked as something hit it. "Wow, dad's wand," he said, pulling it out of the space behind his seat to look over. "I guess I could work on your injuries," he said with a smile.
"Iggy, remember how powerful his wand is," Raena said gently. "Do it on your own scrapes first." He nodded at the sense and gently started to heal his scraped knuckles and knee from his traveling earlier. Then he worked on the poor girl, fixing everything for her, even if she did have some lumpy scar tissue. The girl smiled at them. "See Madam Pomfrey anyway so she can check you for more injuries and so she can smooth out that one scar," she told the girl, letting her go. She sat down in her place and smiled at her mate. "Very nicely done."
"I want my wand back," he pouted. "This one feels like it wants to run away with the power."
She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "You'll be fine, just don't lose this one."
He nodded, getting up and walking her back to their cuddling spot so they could cuddle. Professor Lupin came back to sit with them and Iggy moved slightly, making the professor laugh. "She is mine," Iggy reminded him.
"Yes, but not yet, my dear boy," Lupin reminded him.
"Fourteen months and twenty-three days," Iggy sighed, resting his head on her chest. Lupin gave him a meaningful look so he moved to her shoulder, and when that wasn't comfortable, to lay his head in her lap.
Lupin shook his head. Kids.
Raena marched the kids who needed medical attention off the train and lined them up. "Stand there!" she ordered. One of the fifth years fidgeted and she pulled her wand. "Do you really want to argue about that order, boy?" He shook his head. "Good. You," she said, pointing at the Ravenclaw Prefect. "They're to meet with Madam Pomfrey and be punished." She smiled as Iggy led the girl off. "She's to meet with Madam Pomfrey and the boys aren't to get near her again." The Prefect looked down at her. "Don't try," she warned.
"Do it, Sylvester," Iggy told him. "They jumped her on the train." He looked at the boy. "Oh, and quit glaring at my wife, or I'll paste you this year on the field." He smiled and the Prefect backed away from him. "We've had a hellish day and they just made it worse. Dumbledore's waiting on the boys with Uncle Draco and Madam Pomfrey is waiting on all of them."
"Can we put them in chains?" the girl asked. "Humiliate them at the same time?"
"I'm sure they're not going to be very fond of the attention they'll get." Raena flicked her wand at them, lighting the boys up so they glowed very brightly. Above their heads, a sign appeared: Picks on smaller children and girls. "Go before I beat your asses myself." They trudged off with the Prefect, who held the girl's hand as she walked beside him.
Iggy smiled at her. "I like that one. We should keep that in mind for future idiots and imbeciles."
"Okay," she agreed. She looked around. Nearly all the students were gone. "Let's get this offloaded into the cart." She jumped as fireworks went off. "Hey, house colors this year," she said dryly, watching the joke store's yearly display. A bunch of the kids clapped and cheered.
"Show offs," Iggy muttered, opening the door to their special compartment. He summoned one of the carts over and started to heft the boxes into it. With any luck, they'd make it to the feast before it ended.
"What're you doing?" a man slurred, grabbing Raena. "Leave those there."
"We're supposed to be putting them back in the dungeon," she said, shaking his hand off her arm. "Get off me, you drunken filth." He sneered down at her.
Iggy walked over and shoved him, glaring at him. "Touch my wife again, see what happens."
Fred walked up to the station. "Need some help?"
"Please. Dump him in a rain barrel or something," Raena suggested, moving their remaining potion in the large cauldron into the middle of the cart, where it barely fit. "We might have to ride on the outside."
"There's another one left," Fred said with a grin, helping them get everything inside. The man on the ground grumbled something and started to get up. "I'd head back to the school. Aren't you supposed to be up there already?" he asked coldly. "And never touch my niece again." The man glared at him and wandered off.
"With any luck, he's too drunk to remember," Iggy said, hefting down another box. "Any luck with my wand?" he asked.
"Not a bit, Iggy, I'm sorry."
"That's all right. I'll use my allowance to buy another one," he sighed. He lifted down the rest of the supplies and got up there to check everything, tossing down his robes and her tie. "That's it," he said, waving at the conductor. They hugged Fred. "Thanks for the help."
"I saw him wandering this way salivating and talking about all the pretty young girls. Are you going to report this, Raena?"
She shook her head. "I don't report first ones, I report second incidences after I give a warning, or this time Iggy and you did." She gave him another hug and climbed into the spare carriage, waiting while Iggy talked to his uncle.
Iggy grinned. "Can I hurt him?"
"No, Iggy, not unless he tries it again. Annoy him instead." They shared a grin. "I'm proud of how you handled today, even with the loss of your temper. You did very well, nephew." He messed up his hair. "Pull that mess back before I make you trim it."
"Yes, Uncle Fred," Iggy said, but he was smiling as he walked over to join his wife in the carriage. "When are you coming up?"
"Next weekend sometime," Fred called as the carriages pulled off. He waved and smiled. Then he grimaced and went to talk to Madam Rosemerta. She could get word back to the school about that man.
Raena stood up in front of the seventh years, her fiercest scowl on her face. "Unlike my mate, I won't put up with shit," she told the messy group. "You will clean this up and then try it again."
"When is Snape coming back?" one girl complained. "We miss him."
"Three more weeks," Raena said, sitting behind the desk and making notes on their progress. One person had gotten their potion to not explode, but it hadn't been correct either. "I mean it, we're not cleaning up after you this year." They got up to grab brooms and mops, plus the other necessities for cleaning up the dungeon. Most of them had heard about it if they hadn't done it before. "Due to the time constraints, I will allow magic this time," she allowed. Wands were pulled and everything was as shiny as usual by the time the class change gong rang. "Be prepared to do this one again until you get it correct," she called after them. The fifth years walked in and she gladly handed it over to Iggy so she could rest in the back. This was hell. Only three more weeks to go.
Iggy sat on the edge of the desk, waiting until nearly everyone was in their seats. "Let's set some ground rules, kids. I'm not putting up with shit, and neither is Raena. I don't clean up after you, I don't do things for you. I don't accept blatant stupidity as a reason for failure. If you can't measure by now, ask and we'll reteach you. If you screw up because you refused to measure, then you're already fucked." They nodded, then started talking again. "Another thing," he said, breaking into their good mood. He smirked at them. "You thought Snape left us in charge because we were going to let you guys off easily? We're harder than he is because we don't have the patience. So pull out your books and turn to page...." He looked at the lesson plans. "Eight. They are sympathetic potions. The first row will do the top one. The next the second one. And follow that pattern the rest of the way back, then we'll switch next class." They groaned. "I'm not letting you off lightly because you're in our house. This is Potions, it's important, it's dangerous when you screw it up. You should be able to do the minimum by now. If you at least try I won't flunk you." They started to get up and get ingredients.
"I'm not cleaning up after anyone. We just barely got the room clean," Raena said from the office doorway. They grumbled at her. "Hate us if you want, I could care less. Maybe you'll appreciate what Snape has to go through when he comes back."
"Wish he was back already," one of the Gryffs said, glaring at Iggy, who didn't flinch. "You'd do this to your own house?"
"I don't see loyalty to the house, I see competence and incompetence in this matter. This is a class, not in the house. If this was in the house, I'd be giving you tips, like pay attention to the size of your ingredients, it matters. Because we're in a class, I'm going to expect you to have had this class for five years now and have paid attention to at least half of everything that's been said. Which means that you should know what to do with shrivel figs," he said to one girl. She burst out in tears. "Yay. I don't do tears. Pull yourself back together and start over." He perched himself on the desk.
"At least Professor Wood's a *quidditch* tyrant," one boy said as he sat down with his ingredients. "That's at least fun."
"I heard that," Iggy told him.
"Found your wand yet?" Simone asked.
"The aurors did, it's with a muggle who's been making pretty fireworks so they can't get it for me. Yet. Or at least those are the rumors your father heard." He grimaced. "Soon, or I'll have to get a new one. Dad won't let me use his forever."
"Hopefully your next one will be pretty," Denver agreed. Iggy zapped him when he screwed up. "Yes, Iggy monster."
"Ten points off," Iggy told him. "I'm only a monster in the morning," he said with a cold look for his cousin, which made him shiver.
"Dear, come nap," Raena said, coming out to change off with him. "You can have the seventh years tomorrow and the advanced class." He nodded and went back to crash on the cot. "Don't pick on him. I'll get you for it, not him." Everyone bent over their potions ingredients. They knew better than to piss her off. They'd already heard stories about ....interesting homework for those who fucked with her.
Iggy was let into Ollivander's and he gave him his most pitiful look. "It got knocked out of my pocket while I was helping a kid off the train, the rumors weren't true," he said when the older man looked down at him.
"I heard. We do talk, Ignatius." Iggy continued to give him a pitiful look. "It's not your fault this time. I usually have to replace at least three of them a year because students broke them." Iggy looked a little happier. "Let's see, twisted, phoenix core? Ten inches?" Iggy nodded. "What shall you have this time?"
"Dad's feels like it's trying to run away with my power, if it helps," Iggy told him. "I've been subbing with his wand."
"Hmm." Ollivander looked the boy over. "You've grown and matured since you got your last one, it might be time to get something different." He smiled. "How are you enjoying married life?"
"I'd enjoy it more if I was getting more than cuddles," Iggy told him. The old man laughed and he cracked a smile. "We agreed to wait until I was sixteen and legal. All I get are quick cuddles and even faster kisses." He sighed and leaned on the counter. "Fourteen months and twelve days."
"I understand, my boy, I really do. My wife used to go on long vacations without me." He walked into the back of the shop, the darkest recesses from his early days. He had been wondering who this wand belonged to. He brought it out and Iggy held it, but nothing happened. "Hmm, perhaps not. What's your life like now?"
"Studies, potions, rampant wanting of the wife."
"Interesting. Do you tend toward potions in general or healing in general?"
"Potions, with a specialty in healing potions. I like healing and I'm somewhat good at it, but I hate emergencies and critical times. They stress me out and I get flustered and mean."
"Then I do have something." He took that wand back and brought out another from that same section. "The mirror of this one used to belong to Ignatius Spenser." Iggy drooled as the silver wand was drawn out. "It's silverwood, unheard of these days, strengthened with bands of pewter in the handle and a gold tip for added stability. I had to get this used. The core is a siren's hair." He handed it over. "Very powerful."
Iggy waved it and nearly moaned as the power flowed through him. It was so close to sending him over. "If it's not for me, can I have it anyway?" he asked. There hadn't been any sparkles.
"Try it again, think about doing something simple, not about the core."
Iggy pointed at the water in the glass on the counter and watched as it boiled. He hadn't even really thought about the fire spell. "Whoa, too powerful."
"Yes, it will take some control from you, but it is the right one for you." He smiled. "Enjoy it and try not to lose it, my boy."
"I'm having the wife put a location charm on it," Iggy swore. "How much?"
"It's very rare. Very, very rare." Iggy winced. "What's wrong?"
"I'm having flashbacks of Ravena's wand and my father complaining about it. Twenty?" Ollivander shook his head. "Sixty?"
The old man laughed. "No, I only have one that is that expensive and it will go to a champion."
"Gee, and she's about six months along now. How ironic," Iggy said with a grin.
"That far already?"
"There was a small temporal spell that snapped her ahead. She's due at Christmas now."
"Hmm, interesting. I'll have to work on the carvings for her." He winked. "Seventeen galleons, five knuts, Ignatius."
"Thank you," Iggy said, digging out the money from his robe pocket, handing it over. "Thank you, Mr. Ollivander. I'm going to get the location charm done right now." He walked away and the discrete cough made him look back and come back to pick up his wand. "Thank you." He strapped it to his wrist and waved, leaving to get the other things he needed. His book order and his components. He even had permission this time. He couldn't study without a wand and books. He hurried through his chores and headed back to the school, landing in the Headmaster's office. "We're always going to land up here?"
"Only you," Dumbledore told him. He held up Iggy's wand. "It was in the mold."
Iggy held up his new one. "Silverwood with pewter bands and a gold tip. Thank you, sir." He accepted his old one and tucked it into his inside robe pocket. "Why didn't it summon?"
"We blocked that door," Dumbledore said, taking his new wand to look at. "I remember hearing about one of these. Siren's hair core?" Iggy nodded. "Very interesting."
"My name did affect my nature," Iggy said with a smirk, "and I am sweet with the ladies. Does daddy know?"
"Not yet." He handed the wand back. "Keep one of them for special occasions and the like, Ignatius." He saw his face fall. "Your new one is very fragile."
"That's why it's reinforced," Iggy told him, starting to look pitiful again. "I can't use it every day?"
"It should be strong enough for that," the Headmaster said, shaking his head. "Put those up and go to your teaching spot. Remember to get the notes for your test tomorrow."
"Yes, sir!" Iggy said happily, teleporting back to his dorm room. He summoned his new wand and tucked it into his inner robe pocket, putting his old one into his trunk. Then he headed down to the dungeons. "I'm back," he said, pulling out his new wand. "Can you please make me quit forgetting it?"
Raena snatched the wand and looked at it, then at him. "What is this?"
"The mirror to Ignatius Spenser's," he said with a bright grin. She squealed and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him. "I'm happy too," he said, enjoying it. "Please make me quit forgetting it."
"Siren cores often do that, it's part of their nature," she told him, sitting back down. She quickly got up and got a book, coming back to cast the charm on his wand.
One of the first years cleared her throat. "Who was Ignatius Spenser?"
"One of the best potions masters in the last three centuries," Iggy told her. "Having problems?" She nodded. "Stirring or measuring?"
"I think I did it wrong," she said with a disgusted look at her cauldron. "It's like oatmeal."
"That's a measuring problem," Raena told her. Iggy went back to check her measurements. She settled down to finish her homework. This was momentous news. She'd have to write her mother tonight. The girl squealed as the pot bubbled over, then smacked at Iggy's arm. She looked at the girl.
"I corrected it for her," Iggy told her. "That's the cup," he said, pointing at it. "Next time, get it right." She nodded and marked the measuring set. He came up to kiss his wife on the top of the head. "Just think, we could be doing this professionally," he whispered.
"Dear, you'd kill the students," she told him. She smiled up at his hurt look. "You don't have the patience to deal with students. I'll teach, you work with the gryphons full time." He nodded, accepting it. "How much was it?"
"Seventeen. Oh, and Draco's daughter's, it's going to be *sixty* for her staff," he told her. She gasped. "Yeah. Mine's rare, her is doubly or triply so. I can't wait to tell him that."
"He can afford it at least," she pointed out, smiling at him. "It does glow in your hand."
"I know." He winked at her and went into the back to finish off his homework for the next two weeks. This being ahead stuff was fun after the first month of school, but he was always so bored! He checked on their crystalizing crystal and smiled. It was still growing, a good sign. It was nearly big enough to lift out of the solution. He gave it a gentle stir with his new wand, making the stone shiver and harden. "Raena?" he called. She hurried back. "I used my wand to stir it and it moved." The stone hardened, finishing itself. "Is it the right size?"
She pulled it out and held it in her hand, weighting it. "Eight kilograms," she said finally. She showed the thicker bottom portion. "Did you use the pewter or the gold?"
"The gold." He touched it. "Did it ruin it?"
"I don't know. We'll have to try it and see." She pulled over the tray of things they'd need to brew a test piece. The change bell rang and she left him to it, going out to start the next class. She smiled as she came back in, closing the door part-way. The lead was a little different in color. "How long does this take?"
"It depends on weight," Iggy said, calling the book over to look it up. "Ten minutes with a stone this size for a coating. Three hours for a full piece." He stood up and brought her out to the front, sitting down with her. "We'll do this and check on it often," he assured her. "Guys, which one are you doing?" Simone looked at him, looking very tired. "I got my new wand."
"Wonderful," she said dryly. "We have a test after this."
"The potion today is only fifteen minutes of brewing," Raena told her. She perked up. "Those who get it right may study for the rest of the time." Everyone moved a little bit faster.
"Measure that, Denver," Iggy reminded him. "You make it go boom, you clean it up without the broom." Denver glared at him. "Hey, not my rules."
"You could bend them for us," Simone reminded him hotly. "We're your family."
"And? Listen to the words out of my mouth, Simone. Potions are *dangerous*." Her face fell. "You don't know what's happened in this lab over the years, but we've had people die according to the records. From minor little things that someone got wrong. The potion today can explode with enough force to take the roof off the room if you add in too much hops." They all flinched. "We're so demanding so you guys don't die. I don't personally want to go to anyone's funeral this year, especially not one of the family's. It's mandatory that you take this class to learn some care with your preparations and surroundings. You're not here to learn the potions per se, you're here to learn how to be careful in what you do and learn to think things out methodically and logically. If you don't like it, yay. We all know who's going to be brewing everything that the family might ever need. The same as we know who we're going to go to whenever there's a poltergeist in our house, or our familiars are ill. You're here and you have to learn to do it right, so you might as well take the care and time to not kill the rest of us. That's why Raena and I aren't cleaning up after anyone but ourselves anymore, because you guys aren't learning this lesson."
"It's not that explosive," Ryan told him.
"Because of this potion, they've had to renovate the surrounding hallway, this room, and the room above us six times in the last century," Raena told him. He looked smug. "That's because it takes three times the amount of hops to make it that explosive, which is just about what you added. This isn't child's play and this isn't fun and games. These are mostly helpful spells that you might need when you finish growing up and leave school. When I was still an adult, I used every single potion in my first five years' books at least three times a year, and many of them more often. Rosenberg, I'll expect you to fix that *before* we have to clear the classroom." He quickly dug some of the hops out and looked at her. "That's why we harp on what you do in here, and why you have to learn how to measure things properly. Yeah, we may be tough and mean, but we do it so that we don't have to mix you a burn potion, or a healing potion. Or even a spot of elixir of life potion so that you live long enough to get to the hospital. Do you understand now?"
"Yes," Simone sighed. "It still sucks, Raena. You guys are our friends and family." The others nodded.
"And we think we still are, outside of the class. In here, safety rules apply and we have to be able to stop you from doing stupid shit. Denver!" He jumped and looked up. "Does that look like the tablespoon spoon?" He nodded. She shook her head. "That's for a shrinking potion, dear, not for this one." He switched to the bigger spoon, giving her a pitiful look. "Thank you." She sat down again. "When I was teaching before, as part of my Mastery, I had to watch one student burn to death because they mismeasured. I'll be damned if I'm going to do that in here. Nor will I allow you to sneak in and pilfer ingredients that you don't know the uses for, nor will I allow you to start mixing harmful potions in other places. If you feel that you *have* to make Polyjuice, you come to me, not to the bathroom. No matter how much some of you want to be Granger." They nodded and went back to work. Someone clapped from the door. "Professor Malfoy," she said with a light blush.
"I heard yelling and thought I should check on you. Come discuss with me, Raena," he said gently. She walked out, leaving Iggy in there. "You as well. They won't blow up the lab and if they do, they're cleaning it up and making their own healing potion." He closed the door. "Are you all right?" She nodded, glancing around. "It's hard, I know that. Potions should be precise and correctly measured. You're expecting too much though. You taught future potion makers, these students are lucky if they'll be able to make toast." She laughed. "Do you feel calmer now?" She nodded. "Then you may go." He stopped Iggy. "You have a new wand?" He summoned it from the office, wincing as it hit on the doorframe. "Ah, silverwood," he said with a pleased smile. "Very nice." He found a small crack in the woodgrain and fixed it before handing it back. "There you go. Ignatius Spenser's?" He nodded, looking happier. "What else did you talk about?"
"There's a guardian's wand being made." Draco sucked in a breath. "The old style, heavy ass staff sort. Sixty galleons by Ollivander's projection." Draco whimpered. "Sorry."
"No, she kicked when you mentioned staff. She's apparently very happy with that thought." He smiled at the boy. "You're sure?" Iggy nodded. "Well. That almost makes buying you the new one worth it. Where did they find yours?"
"In the mold!" he said with great disgust.
Draco laughed. "Use them interchangeably. And calm down." Iggy nodded. "Good boy."
"How have your classes been?"
"Interesting. They thought I was kidding when I told them that Snape molded me into the teacher I am today. They've since learned." He smiled and walked away. "Tell me if the experiment works."
"Yes, sir." He headed back in, waving his wand to make sure it still worked. It worked better now. "Huh. He fixed something." He blew a kiss and went to check on the piece of lead. It was more yellow. He searched the book and fired up a bolt of energy, just like it said.
"No, Iggy, not yet. During the final transmutation," she called.
He sighed and tucked his wand into his inner pocket, going out to watch them not blow each other up.
Snape walked in from his vacation and was found by a few students who hugged him like they had missed him. "Are you having mental problems?" he asked.
One girl sniffled, and she was one of his. "They're mean!" she complained. "And stricter than you."
He nodded. "Good. Excellent in fact." She gave him a hurt look. "Find something more productive to be done, like your homework." She winced and walked away moaning. Maybe they hadn't been the correct choice after all to leave in his place. Tara walked past him, heading up to announce their return, so he followed her. She already had their son in her arms.
Dumbledore walked around to shake his hand and hug Tara, and handed over two letters. "Welcome back."
"One from a parent about the horror stories Raena tells and one from a nurse who Iggy got a tad bit rude with when she told him to go away and it was an emergency." He sat back down. "How was your vacation?"
"Wonderful," Tara moaned. "I needed that."
"I know you both did," Dumbledore assured. He watched Severus read them and broke out laughing at the look on his face. "The one from the nurse is easily explained. We had a girl nearly die on the train this year. Ignatius kindly went to find her mother and the nurse got a bit snotty with him."
"Iggy in a crisis is not a calm person," Tara agreed. "That's why he's not a healer."
"Yes, it is." Snape waved the other one. "What's this one about? People burning?"
"They've decided to tell the children in graphic detail exactly what will happen if they botch up each potion. Raena's seen someone burn from a simple one with too much hops and gillyweed. She and Ignatius have both been very firm with your classes. He's doing the younger years and the advanced class, she's doing from fourth year and up." His smile got bigger. "Professor Malfoy has been instrumental in saving the students from some very gruesome homework. Raena's done such things as making them gut their own fish for parts and the students in detention having to go pick things under Madam Sprout's advanced students' eyes. She reminds me a lot of you when you first started to teach, Severus."
"Oh, were you mean?" Tara teased her mate.
"That was when I cared about everyone getting it correct," he said dryly. "Are they in classes?"
"She is. He's off running a short errand," Dumbledore said with an enigmatic smile.
"They got it right?" Tara asked happily. Dumbledore shrugged. "But they created a stone?"
"They did, we're waiting on official word. Ignatius is at Gringott's at the moment. We'll know soon." He smiled at them. "Welcome back. Professor Malfoy's class is two floors above yours," he told Tara. She nodded. "Try not to pick on him. He made a student cry last week and he's still rather proud of it."
"As was I my first time," Snape agreed, standing up. "Shall we, Tara?"
"Oh, yeah." She stood up and kissed her sleeping son's head. "Come on, let's go unpack," she told him. "We brought you presents."
Zach yawned and looked at her, then at his father. "No bye-bye?" They shook their heads. "No nap Iggy?"
"No, you can nap with him this weekend," Snape told him as he took him to hold. "Tonight you'll be sleeping in your own bed."
"'Kay," he said, stretching out his arms with another yawn. "Presents?"
"We may have bought you one or two things," Snape admitted. He nodded at his boss and headed down to their quarters to be with their son and get used to being back.
Simone Malfoy-Weasley came running up to them and gave Professor Snape a hard hug. "Thank you!" she nearly sobbed. "You're back! Iggy will go back to normal!" She gave Tara one as well. "Stop him, please? Before we have him again? She's making us cut up toads for their toe pads."
Snape looked down at her. "Pull yourself together," he snapped. She sniffled and gave him the most pitiful look he had ever gotten. "When do you have him?" he sighed.
"In two classes. Please, Professor Snape? I'll serve willing detentions if I don't have to butcher animals anymore." He nodded and she smiled this beautiful smile before running off. "He's back!" she yelled. A loud cheer went up in her class.
"Maybe we should check on them first?" Tara suggested.
Zach tugged on her arm. "Presents?" he asked hopefully. "I swim."
"I saw," Snape told him, carrying him down to their room. "We'll pop in on that class but let them teach for the rest of the day." Tara chuckled but followed him. Her classes were covered by someone competent. They locked the door to their quarters and sat down to talk with their son, asking him about his summer with Molly and Emily. He babbled all about it, even the ghoul in the attic he had tried to sneak up and see, but Emily hadn't allowed it. At the end, he made another impassioned plea for presents so Tara got up to get them for him. He squealed in delight. He even agreed to go to the classes with his daddy for the day. He wanted to see Iggy again and show off his new puzzle. They walked up there together, walking in to disturb the middle of the fifth year class. The students rushed and hugged him, nearly panicking him.
"Get off my daddy!" Zach yelled. "Go sit down. My daddy!"
"Yes, he is," Raena told him, smiling at him. "That's a very pretty puzzle, Zach."
"He'll be right back. I just heard from him." She smiled at the couple. "You're expected in the tower tonight for an announcement," she said quietly. Tara beamed at her and nodded. "So, how was Istanbul?"
"Hot," Tara told her. "Crowded, smelly, but it was marvelous and ancient at the same time. You'll have to go, I can't do it justice. The two weeks we spent there were filled with some incredible vibes and sights."
"Maybe next summer, if we don't have to do another chore for the school." Snape looked at her. "It's fixed. It took forever to get Xander's back healed as far as it is, but it's done."
"What happened to him?" Tara asked, sitting on the corner of the desk while the students made complaints about their substitutes.
"Hufflepuff liked dragons best," she said dryly. "Ask Charlie. He was the one who noticed Xander had been clawed. Draco was so knocked about, they weren't sure he wasn't going to miscarry for a few days. Charlie had to hold them there."
"She was that far south?" Snape asked. Raena nodded. "Did they complete it?"
"Barely. They got here just before we had to take a student off the train before she died. In imminent heart failure and her mother, a nurse, never noticed. We have a letter of thanks sitting in the infirmary."
"We got two complaints," Tara said with a smile. She looked over, a few of the Slytherins were bowing at her husband's feet and hugging and crying on his legs. "Enough," she ordered. "Mine. Go back to your potions." They ran back to their seats. Tara was almost as scary as Raena. She had married Snape - there had to be something more to her than her nice girl image. She smiled at the girl. "Nice job."
"Thank you. I kept them from blowing up anyone, though we didn't quite manage to keep the new lifeform from appearing out of a cauldron." She looked over as Iggy walked in and gave both of the couple a hug. "And?" He grinned at her and she smiled so much her nose crinkled. "We're official?"
"I filed the paperwork, got the stuff for the celebration, and we're legal. Everything is in the vault at Gringott's." Simone coughed and he looked at her. "It's a family announcement, you'll hear it tonight." She nodded and went back to cutting off frog's pads.
"In the office," Snape told them. He gave them long enough to admire his son's new puzzle, then closed and locked the door. "You were graphic?" Raena nodded. "Do you feel better now?"
"I feel like they won't fuck up, they won't blow up, and they won't be expecting us to do it for them."
Iggy walked over to the desk to clean up their communal mess. "I tried to keep my temper. I do better with new learners than the older kids. You've known that, sir."
Snape smiled at them. "It's always harder your first time." Raena snorted. "This is a new body for you and a new experience. These dunderheads will never make it near your level. Teaching the untalented takes extra patience."
"Then I'll teach our kids the basics and she can teach them the more advanced stuff," Iggy told him with a smile. He pointed at a box. "All of ours for the year. Every potion out of the book except for the ones that you marked out. If there's something missing, tell us tomorrow."
"May we have the rest of the day off?" Raena asked. "I've had to try and not yell at the kids who refuse to measure anything all day."
"Go," he agreed. He waited until the door had opened. "Next time, show more patience and give them better homework."
"Oh, you have presentations tomorrow," Raena told him. "The first three years have ingredients in a higher book. The fourth years and on have one on a particular potion I chose. They're expected to stand up and give them to everyone." She smiled and led her mate out, letting him wave for them.
Snape chuckled silently. Those two were horrible, but so very effective. He wouldn't have a bit of trouble from anyone else this year hopefully. There was a small explosion.
"Fifty points!" Iggy yelled. "You did the same thing yesterday and never learned."
"But Iggy!" one of the Gryffindors whined. "We need those!"
"I can easily make them up in a game. Next time, read the directions. I even gave you help last night."
Snape walked out. "I'll take it from here." Iggy smiled and left, jogging to catch up to his wife. He looked the boy. "Did you do the same thing yesterday?"
The boy nodded. "And I did everything Iggy said to!" he complained. "I'm not getting this and it's not as simple as he says."
Simone leaned forward. "Why are you cutting those?" she asked pointing at the mess in front of him. "They're supposed to be torn so you don't break cell walls. I asked my father and that was his suggestion." The boy gave her a miserable look. "What did Iggy tell you?"
"To tear them into small piece. That's what I did."
Professor Snape walked back and picked up some of the shredded mess. "Of course it exploded. These are *delicate* flowers. You can't break them down this way. If you do, they sour the potion and create a pile of glop on the ceiling." He pointed up at the glop. "You will be cleaning it up tonight and you may ask someone to show you how to tear delicately if you wish." He was in a good mood and it would create less hell and havoc later. The boy turned and watched as Simone tore up more of hers. "More delicately than that," he told her. "Think like your younger sister and her hair." Simone grimaced but did it more gently. "Yes, that is much better," he agreed. He looked up and noticed the clean spots on the ceiling. "That many of you got it wrong?" He sidestepped the pile coming down. He looked around. "How many of you have gotten it wrong?" All but two people raised their hands, his own niece and the only person in Gryffindor outside of Ignatius and Raena that he trusted to brew anything. "What are you two working on?"
"Our presentations," Emily told him with a small smile. "May we go to the library, sir?"
"Go," he agreed. They hurried out. "The rest of you, how long have you been doing this?" He looked at the ceiling again. There were a lot of clean spots. He looked around at the mass groan. "Well?"
"Two weeks," Simone told him. "Iggy tried to show us, Raena tried to show us, but we're not getting the tearing thing." She tossed down one she had ruined by squeezing it too hard. "Isn't there a way to cut these?"
"That would require instruments delicate and sharp enough to do surgery with. I don't trust any of you with those." She groaned and put down her head on the table. "Those will stain you."
"I know. I had one after the last class as well," Simone told him. "Please, sir, I know you enjoy us floundering, but we need expert guidance. Just because they can move so delicately that they can tear shapes out of these things doesn't mean the rest of us can."
He nodded. "I know. Delicacy is the problem. You must be most delicate. Imagine it to be the skin of your future mate. You are taking a small piece of skin off their back that is hanging, but you don't want to create more damage. Try that. We have enough to let you tear things today. This is an important skill and should not be rushed."
"That's why Raena gave us this potion," Denver said, slamming his book down. "Sir, I'm going to get a drink and hit a wall. Please?" Snape nodded, tempers in the dungeon were deadly. It was nice that the couple had gotten that through to them. He would have to write them a glowing report once he heard from the other students. He'd see how they greeted him tonight at dinner. Simone screamed in frustration and stomped out of the room, going to kick the wall. He smirked. "Patience is the utmost skill being learned here," he told them.
The other children nodded and went back to their tearing. Some even had it right by class's end.
Snape looked around the new first years, noticing a few who were stand-outs. One had very long dredlocks and the palest skin he had seen on a living human. One of them had flaming red hair, he'd had to look twice to make sure it wasn't actually on fire. Then there was the cute little blonde female who was frankly too small to be of the right age. "What have you already done?" he demanded.
The little blonde girl raised her hand. "We've done the bloomin' Feafferlight potion, right, the shrinkin' potion, right, and the one that turned blue and fizzed. We're waitin' on Raena ter brin' out us uvvers. 'Oo're yer?"
He shook his head. "Would you like to try that again, this time in English?"
She glared at him. "There's nuffink wrong wiv me speech, you bloody git! Right!"
He crossed his arms and walked closer to her, staring down at her. "Where are you from, girl?"
One boy coughed. "Sir, I believe it's a dialect known as Cockney," he told him.
"Really?" Snape said dryly. He glared down at the girl. "Learn the language the other children speak." She flipped him off. He smiled. "Thirty points off your house for the rude gesture."
Raena walked in and looked at the tableau, then shook her head. "It was worse, sir. She and the Scottish girl," she pointed at the too-pale-to-be-alive girl, "have worn down some of the other's accents. Brittany, please translate for them," and the boy nodded. She smiled. "Thank you. Professor Snape, their cauldrons are in the containment locker. Shall I get them?"
"Yes," he agreed. He pointed at the Scottish girl. "Speak." She said a few sentences with so thick an accent he didn't understand a word of it. The boy named Brittany, which made him shudder in sympathy for the boy and all the taunting he must have been through, looked up. "What did she say?" he demanded.
"That she heard you're scary, but you don't near look as fearful as her Grandmother," the boy told him with a smile. "Her Grandmother's a witch of the hag class and can spoil milk with her glare. She wanted to know if you'd like lessons from her, her Grandmother was looking for an excuse to visit."
"That won't be necessary," he told the girl. He looked at the boy. "You will continue to translate for all the teachers until they learn the local dialect. I will suggest to their Prefects to get them help." He looked at the little blonde girl. "How old are you?"
"Eleven last week, sir," she answered smartly. "How ole do I 'ave a look?"
"Six at the most," he said grimly. He got out of Raena's way, watching as she handed out the cauldrons, which were starting to warm up again. She smiled at him. "They're better?"
She nodded. "Brittany had to translate their names for me. Smythers." The Scottish girl raised her hand so she passed the cauldron over. "Here you are, Precious." She handed the blonde her cauldron. "Brittany, where's yours?"
"Mine's the one that you had to extinguish," he said miserably. She got it and handed it over. "Thank you, ma'am."
"You're welcome, Brittany." She smiled at them. "Giving him hell is the same as giving it to Iggy and I. We give it back *and* he takes away points and gives detentions. Got it?" They nodded and bent over their books to see where they were. "Good children." She smiled at him again, turning to face him, her hands clamped behind her back. "Did you need any more help with these students, Professor?"
"No, you may go," he told her, giving her a look that said she would be giving him a full explanation later. "I will be expecting the two missing potions to be done by tonight."
"They're boiling as we speak, sir. Or at least mine are. Ignatius might have done his." He nodded and she shrugged. "I was a bit busy. Precious, tryouts are tonight," she told her, then walked away.
"What could she play?" Snape asked following her out into the hallway.
"Keeper, sir. She's amazing from what we hear. More than good enough to do the job." She winked. "They're all good kids. Precious will fight you if you try to force her to change. It will happen though." She nodded at him and then walked away.
He shook his head. What strange children were in the school these days. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything he could do about it. He walked back into the classroom and found Brittany translating between the two girls. "What are you nattering about?" he demanded sharply.
"Precious' sister is coming next year, sir, and she was telling us about her. She said you'd adore her." He smiled.
"Indeed. Hopefully you will both have gentler accents when you go home and will pass them on to any siblings which might be coming here." He sat behind his desk. "Work, now!" They bent back over their books.
Raena walked into the house. "Family announcement," she called. "Even if you're still pissed at us, you're due in the tower now." Denver and Simone stood up and she handed them something. Little Ron skidded past them, heading over to see if his father and girlfriend were there. "Practice on this." They nodded and looked at the tissue paper. "Straight lines and curves, no rough edges," she told them. "If you can do that, you can do the others." They left, going over to the tower. "Melvin, Andrea?"
"Coming," Melvin said, helping his girlfriend up. "Ana!" She skipped down the stairs. "Family announcement."
"Good or bad?" she asked Raena.
"Wonderful actually." She led the rest of the family out, following them to the tower. She took Iggy's hand and accepted the glass of wine. They waited until Draco came out of the bathroom. "You have to take one as well," she told him. "One glass won't hurt her." He accepted the wine and sniffed, nodding at their wonderful choice. She cleared her throat and everyone looked at her. "This goes no further than the family." Everyone nodded, looking expectant.
"Our stone is ninety-nine-point-nine-eight percent correct," Iggy announced. "Enough to make the healing potion." He saluted them with a smug smile. "Everything is in Gringott's in our safe, except for three vials of elixir of life, six of the healing potion, and the single piece of gold." He handed it over to Professor Snape. "Because I'd never have gotten this far without you or have met Raena."
Xander sniffled and grabbed them to hug them. "I'm so proud of you guys," he told them. Raena squeaked for air and he let them go. "You guys are so great."
George stood up and smiled at them. "I think it's wonderful news, children." He gave them each a hug. "Our children are beyond brilliant!" The family cheered.
Draco walked up to Snape and looked at the piece of gold. "Pure?"
"Definitely. It's stamped by Gringott's," he said, showing off the small pressed-in stamp. "Did you help them?"
"I only kept them calm. Raena is used to teaching better students and Iggy is only good at teaching the basics or the kids who only need ideas and that sort of help. Advanced and under third years."
Snape smiled at him. "How are you feeling?"
"Wonderful actually. She's been calm all day." He patted his stomach so of course she kicked. A familiar hand came around and she settled down again. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome. I saw the wince. She's a strong little girl." He smiled at Snape. "Did you yell at them for terrorizing everyone?"
"I got hugged and cried upon, it was quite strange," Snape told him. He watched as the other children ignored them. "That's going to be a problem."
"No, it won't. They've got practice tonight," Xander said with a smirk, letting Draco go. Severus' pocket watch chimed so he got out of the couple's way, watching as they left. Then he turned back his 'son'. "Go sit." He stole the wine from Draco's hand and finished it off for him. "Guys, do you want dinner up here or in the Great Hall?"
"I think we'll head home," Molly told him, giving him a pat on the cheek. "Ron, dear, would you come up and depossess the dryer again? It's glowing blue every time I open it and it's been on delicate."
"Sure, mum," he agreed. "We'll be up this weekend anyway to help train Xander." She smiled and kissed the cute twosome before leaving with her husband. Ron looked at them, beaming. "Does this mean that we're covered if we have to go on another one of those rides?"
Iggy nodded. "Definitely. I'm bringing along a few vials next time. Father, you have to have the bandages changed tonight." Xander grimaced, but nodded and got himself some more wine.
"Why did he need bandages?"
Charlie snorted. "Stupid plonker got between a dragon and that one," he said, pointing at Draco.
"Shit." George turned Xander around and lifted the back of his shirt, hissing at the mass of bandages. "How long have you had this?"
"Since we got back," Draco told him. "They're much better. I've put the salve on every night. Xander, alcohol and your medicine are not good friends." He got a glare and finished the glass of wine he had just poured himself. "Fine, but I'm not carrying your ass up those stairs tonight."
"We'll float him," Iggy told him, giving him a smile. "How is she?"
"Good enough. She likes it when we terrorize the students." A few of the remaining members of the family laughed. "Bill, how is the moving going?"
"Well enough. We've got the first two tombs up and all. Slytherin wanted a specific book so we had to hunt it out." He shrugged. "We've managed so far. Dragon, Xander?"
"Dragon, Bill. Heading right for Draco because Hufflepuff wanted to be scattered on the preserve. She liked them. She also nearly got inhaled by it."
"It was one of the new ones," Charlie admitted. "He didn't like his handling in the least and got free. We are sorry, Xander." Xander waved a hand. "You're not pissed? I'd be demanding heads."
"That's my job and your boss explained what was going on when .... Don't take those off, he needs them on," Draco told him. George glared at him.
"Daddy, don't, those are clotting bandages," Iggy told him. George glared at him. "Fine, if daddy takes a swing at you, you're on your own and you're holding the bandages down until he stops bleeding tonight. We're celebrating." He shrugged and looked at Draco. "Thank you for calling me."
"Thank you for calling me," Charlie told him. He looked at Xander's back, then at Draco's leg, which had gotten slightly clawed up. "How are you?"
"Fine. I'm scabbed over and all that. No pain, no swelling. It's not poisonous, right?"
"We checked, his poison sacs were empty before he attacked you two."
"Sit!" George demanded of Draco, picking up both of his legs to look at once his order had been followed. He found the goring and glared at him. "How dare you do this to yourselves!"
"It's not their fault," Charlie told him, standing up. "The dragon got loose and went for Hufflepuff. She called it or something. Hell, Xander knocked it out after getting knocked and scratched. I'm damn glad he was able to handle it."
"Me too," Iggy agreed.
George glared at him. "You didn't tell me!"
"I haven't seen you!" Iggy retorted in the same voice. "Not a bit. Not when I was so damn stressed I was pulling out my hair. Not when I was happy because things were finally starting to look up. Not even when I had to defend myself or when I lost my wand. Which was found in the mold, but my new one's pretty," he said, taking it out of his pocket to show off.
"Holy Merlin," Charlie said, taking it to look at. "Silverwood?" Iggy nodded. "Tell me it isn't," he said with a grin.
"It's the mirror of Ignatius Spenser's," Raena said proudly. "Silverwood with a siren's hair core."
"With pewter and gold accents," Iggy finished proudly. "Seventeen more galleons I owe Uncle Draco, but I don't think it's a problem now." Draco and Bill both laughed, very aware of the wealth at the couple's disposal.
"We'll pay you back within the month," George told him.
"It's not necessary," Raena told him. He grimaced. "Really, it's not. We do have our allowances and can do it."
"You need that for other things," George told her.
She snorted. "Father-in-law, all we have to do is go ask and it's ours if it's reasonable. If he wants paid back, we can easily do so." George opened his mouth. "Really. We're protected financially by the gryphons."
"That's wonderful news," Fred agreed. "Still, it's a parent's right to pay for all wands. Was your old one damaged?"
"I haven't checked yet," Iggy admitted. "It's in my trunk."
"They found it where?" Xander asked.
"Under all the mold. The room was sealed so nothing could get out. The Headmaster gave it to me when I got back. Oh, I got that book you've been wanting, father." He looked at George. "It was in and inexpensive."
"Inexpensive?" George asked. "It was five or six galleons."
"It was nothing compared to the potion book he had the allowance to get today," Raena told him. "Calm down about it. Really."
Fred clapped his twin on the back. "This is probably how mum and dad feel whenever we pay for something," he pointed out.
"Still, I can get them," George told him. "We're not poor."
"No, you're not, but special kids get special perks," Iggy reminded him. "Today's book allowance was from the prodigy program. They wanted me to have the Big Book of Potions so I got the Big Book of Potions. It's part of my course work and a little extra was added in for additional books that I wanted. Yours was the one I wanted. Fuss again and this'll be one of the more spectacular family rows."
George groaned. "Iggy, you didn't have to."
Draco smacked him on the thigh, glaring at him. "I thought I only had to teach your husband this. The proper response to a gift is to say thank you graciously and sound like you mean it." He stood up, with some help from Ron, who was hiding behind the couch. "Quit complaining before I have to take him back into captivity."
"It's fine, Draco," Xander said calmly. "He gets like this sometimes, we deal and he'll apologize in a few days." He sipped a soda, making his son smile because he wasn't going to pass out. "What's your next plan?"
"Stockpiling next summer," Iggy told him.
"Healer's convention," Raena reminded him.
"Yup, next summer in London," he agreed, smiling at her. He squeezed her hand. "Are you going with me?"
"Of course. Wouldn't miss it. It's the week after your birthday, dear."
"Did you guys miscount?" Ron teased.
They looked at each other and realized they may have if it was that close. "We'll be checking tonight," Raena assured him. She smiled at George. "Really, it's not a bad thing. No matter how much pride you've got, you've probably never begrudged anyone buying him toys. These are his current toys."
George shook his head. "It's still not right."
"Father, stop it now," Iggy told him. "I'm not having this momentous occasion marred by you getting upset. Be happy for us for a change." He led his wife off, going to dinner with her. Their wine glasses were taken by Snape at the door and he smiled at them. "Are you happy for us at least?"
"Very," he agreed. "I'm also exceedingly proud. You've done something that it takes most people a lifetime to do. Now go eat. You have detentions tonight from what I hear." Raena rolled her eyes. "Who objected to you having the afternoon off?"
"Professor Black. We had your permission and pointed that out. We didn't even have him today. Can you stop him?"
"I can try but I doubt he'd listen. I will have a word with him though, make sure he knows you had my permission. Go eat." They walked in and sat down, and most everyone glared at them. Snape walked in and the students who hadn't greeted him rushed him, making him press himself against the wall.
"Off him!" Raena ordered. The mob slowed and gave her a look before being less enthusiastic.
Dumbledore smiled down at them. "Auspicious news?" he called.
Iggy and Raena walked up and bowed to him. "We made our own stone. Ninety-nine-point- nine-eight percent perfect," Raena told him.
Dumbledore smiled proudly. "You are definitely a credit to your teaching, children. You may have time tonight to cuddle in private if you want."
"We have detention. Professor Snape let us have the afternoon off and Professor Black didn't like it." She glared at him and he glared back. "May we have that same offer tomorrow night?" The Headmaster nodded. "Thank you, sir." She nodded at the rest of them.
"Are we talking a red stone?" Professor Lupin wanted to know. Iggy smiled smugly and led his wife back to their table. "They did?" Dumbledore and Snape both nodded, now that he was free of the students. "How?"
"They saw through the cryptic advice an old friend gave them," Dumbledore told him. "Eight ounces if I'm not mistaken, just over the size needed." Snape nodded, holding out something. "Oh, their test piece. They gave it to you?" He looked at the stamp then handed it back.
"For my training," Snape said proudly. "Students like them come along once in a lifetime. I'm pleased to have had two of them now. Even if their family does drive me nuts." Xander was walking in and limping worse. "Did you need something for the pain?" he asked as the other professor walked past him.
"Only if you can remove the pain in my ass," Xander muttered. "George got told about the dragon after you left. He went off, as usual." He took his seat.
"Dragon?" Black asked.
"Hufflepuff liked them and one got free of the preserve on our way there," Xander said simply. Lupin winced. "We're fine. Mostly healed and everything." Xander dished himself up some food with a hard tap of the spoon on his plate. Then he tossed it back into the bowl. "I'm not really hungry."
"Stay," Lupin pleaded. "I haven't heard how the trip went. Sirius, trade me places," he demanded, getting up. They switched places, leaving an open spot between Xander and Lupin's new seat. "Do you want to talk?" he asked.
"I'd rather scream," Xander admitted. "He's gotten lost in the lab and I'm being ignored, even when I really need him."
"It will be fine, Xander," Lupin assured him, patting im on the hand. "I'll talk to him if you want."
"McGonagall tried that. Suggested we put Draco between us, which is fairly wrong to think about with him being my adopted son." He shuddered. "I'd rather he figure it out and come crawling back."
"I know," Lupin said with a faint smile. "He will come back." He shifted to the open seat to get closer.
"He'd better do it damn soon, I'm tired of this," Xander told him. "I'm ready to retaliate against him and the shop."
"Don't," Ron said coming up behind him. "You can't punish Fred for it." He sat on Xander's other side, giving him a smile. "Did they tell you?"
"Yes, it was wonderful news," Lupin agreed with a smile. "Can I help in any way?"
"No. This is all George."
Draco joined them from the back door. "I have a plan. Xander, do you have anything tomorrow?"
"One class then I have an arranged time with one of the born who couldn't get it right in his first year. The Ravenclaw in denial is still out of control."
"I can do the arranged one," Dumbledore assured them. "I hate this going on at this time. None of us need the emotional stress. This is supposed to be an easy year."
Draco nodded as he patted Xander on the shoulder. "Then I'll be taking Xander home with me tomorrow after class. I also don't have anything on Fridays." He smiled at him. "We'll watch television and throw popcorn at the mouse during your favorite movie." Xander relaxed a little. "It will be fine, I promise." He nodded at Lupin. "You're in my seat." Lupin gave up that chair for his new one and watched as Draco instantly calmed Xander down. Draco saw him looking and gave him a smug look in return. "It's a gift."
Xander reached over and patted the baby. "Kick him now, baby girl. He needs to feed you."
"We just ate an apple on the way down because she demanded," Draco told him, removing the hand. "Did you finish the warding spell, Ron?"
"Yes. No meddling ghosts in the tower unless we want and invite them over. I can't lock out Slytherin since he built it though."
"He doesn't seem to interfere like some of the others did," Xander pointed out. "As long as he doesn't give me nightmares or take me out of my body again, and no one else objects, he can haunt the tower."
"Thank you," Draco told him, giving him a smile. "I'll tell him tonight." He dished himself up some food, adding some to Xander's plate before handing it on to Ron. "May I have the beef tips as well, please?" he asked pleasantly. "When do we have practice?"
"Gryff has it tonight," Ron told him. "Which means Iggy's going to miss out this first time." He took the bowl of beef tips from Draco's hand, adding more to Xander's plate. "Eat."
"Sirius, why did you give my son detention?" Xander asked.
"Yes, I did give him the afternoon off for teaching for me," Snape agreed. "Both of them actually."
"They were creating noise in the hall outside my classroom," Sirius said stiffly.
"They were giggling as they walked past," Ron pointed out. "I saw 'em as I walked a student up the Headmaster's office, they weren't stopping and they weren't making that much noise." Black stomped off. "Someone needs to sleep with him."
"I'm afraid a certain person's ex-girlfriend is responsible for his behavior," Dumbledore said, looking at Xander. Who sighed and shook his head. "Maybe if you asked?"
"I'm not asking her for anything. I'm already in the hole with her as is. If Black goes to ask, she might. I doubt it, but then again Anya is getting mushy some days." He shrugged. "Not me. Sorry."
"Was this a dual way curse?" Draco asked. Ron shook his head, starting to smile. "Then maybe someone should point out that there's other ways of scratching that particular itch." The fork dropped from Lupin's fingers. "You don't agree?"
"He'd never go for it," Lupin said, but he was smiling. "I'll suggest it to him tonight. Thank you, Professor Malfoy."
"Oh, let me," Draco told him, smiling cruelly. "I'm in need of some excellent mischief. This should be just right."
Lupin nodded. "I look forward to hearing him rant about it." Then he laughed.
Dumbledore laughed as well, that was just a funny picture in his head. Black begging everyone to scratch his belly. That was as far as his mind would take that picture.
To part 4